2023 04 01 Backing up Your Data

This blog goes beyond the constant harping we all hear about backing up our data we hear that so often it tends to go in one ear and out the other.

Well, guess who failed miserably at this simple task?  Yep, me.

Here is the scenario.

My mother’s maiden name was Akers.  Her 4th great grandparents, John Akers, and Sarah Brown Akers were first families of Gwinnett County, GA. [i] John died in September 1849 (not 1850). [ii]  I have previously written about how to read these schedules, for 1850 it was 1 June.  So the Mortality Schedule covered deaths from 1 June 1849 – 31 May 1850.  Sarah died on 28 Jul 1861. [iii]  They were buried in a family cemetery on their property.  The other marked grave is their daughter, Sarah Akers ( 1815 – 1886).  The fourth grave marker which had no visible inscription when Garrett surveyed the cemetery is believed to be a son named John Akers who died in the Civil War.

The original deed from the Akers estate to a Mr. J. H. McKinney was most likely lost in the courthouse fire of 1871.  However, Mr. McKinney sold the land, “less the ½ acre family cemetery” in 1886 to M. A. Minor. [iv]  Then in 1909, the Minors sold the land to Mr. E. L. Britt with the same clause. [v]

And so it goes for several decades until the developer starts buying up all the land to put in houses in the late 1960s.  Then the clause disappears and about 1968 a house is built on that ½ acre with the four gravestones a short distance behind the house.

In 1999, shortly after moving to the Atlanta area I, along with my oldest son, went on a journey to find the cemetery and was surprised to find them behind the house.  I took a lot of pictures and checked with the county as the executrix at the time threatened to move the cemetery.  The man at the county assured me this will not happen due to cost.  And she did not.     Fast forward to 2011 and I find the cemetery was missing.  After investigating what happened, it seems the house had been a rental for several years and the owner in 2008/2009 brought in truckloads of dirt to wipe out the cemetery.

I had a lot of files from my research, including a deed by deed list showing the ½ acre exclusion.  After reporting the crime to the authorities, they decided that unless I could prove the markers were removed, they could take no action.  Shortly thereafter, I got a new job that kept me very busy.

Now, we are finally getting some traction to maybe get this situation resolved in some manner.

So what does this have to do with backing up our data?  I had (or so I thought), all of my work to include some notes, in a compressed file on my computer at that time.  Four computers later and the zip file getting bounced around, I find that almost all of my investigation work was not in the compressed file.

You must not only make sure you have backed up all of your data but that you took the time to write a report of what you found and how you found it (that dreaded source citations) and take an inventory of what you backed up.  If you are like me, I hated driving 1.5 hours to Lawrenceville to try and redo my original investigation and not refind everything, then driving 2.5 hours back on a Friday afternoon going from the east side of Atlanta to the west side.

Put a copy of that inventor and the write-up somewhere other than in the compressed file just in case.  Maybe in Evernote ®.

[i] Gwinnett County, Georgia, families, 1818-2005, Alice Lillian Smythe McCabe (Editor), Publisher:Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville, 1988.

[ii] 1850 U. S. Census, Mortality Schedule, Gwinnett County, GA, 36th Division, p 265 (inked), line 32, John Akers, age 77, born in VA, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com: accessed 4 Apr 2023), citing NARA Publication T 655, roll 7.

[iii] Sarah’s grave marker I personnaly viewed and was recorded by Franklin Garrett in his Necrology Series.  The Garrett Necrology is on file at the Atlanta History Center.

[iv] Gwinnett County, GA, Deed Book 1, p. 275, McKinney to Minor, Gwinnett County Superior Court, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, GA.

[v] Gwinnett County, GA, Deed Book 20, p. 179, Minor to Britt, Gwinnett County Superior Court, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, GA.


Blog 2023 03 05 This That and the Other

This week’s blog will run down several little paths.  Enjoy the ride.

DNA Testing

If you, or someone you know, have been waiting to take a DNA test because of the cost, the cost will continue to rise.  What you need to do is look for the times the tests go on sale like now until St. Patrick’s Day.  Several times a year all of the DNA testing sites will have sales in conjunction with holidays throughout the year.

Ancestry DNA Sale, $40 off https://tinyurl.com/ymu2r8dv

FamilyTreeDNA  https://www.dnaweekly.com/reviews/family-tree-dna/coupons/

Do you research colonial North Carolina?

The North Carolina Historical Research Online (NCHRO) recently announced they have completed their multi-year-long project to digitize all 1.2 million images of original land grants (initial land issued by the King, proprietor, or other government agency), and cataloged them.  All for free!  I have been using this site to help in much of my client research and you can find them also at https://nclandgrants.com/.  These cover the years 1663 – 1960.

They will now concentrate on other documents not currently available online, these will be available at https://ncscans.com/.   These will include documents at the State Archives of North Carolina (SANC) but also smaller repositories around the state.  They have a sample of some documents on their site such as; from Beaufort County Jacob Swindell Busines Ledger, Jail records, and Private Collections.  From Orange County; Treasurer & Comptroller County Settlements, etc.

I wish more groups of dedicated researchers would do the same!!


Historic Newspapers

While we have websites dedicated to searching newspaper clippings like Newspapers.com© and GenealogyBank.com©.  They typically do not have truly historic newspapers.  Here in Georgia, we have the Digital Library of Georgia, which is a GALILEO initiative of the University of Georgia.

When a county courthouse has suffered a tragic loss of records we can sometimes find the information in the local newspaper.  It has been a law since the first newspapers were published here in the US that anytime an estate was heading into probate that an announcement must be placed in the local newspaper informing any debtors or creditors to the estate were to contact the person named as administering the estate.


Blog 2023 02 25 Some Unknown Heroes

Like Morgan Freeman, I am not a fan of <Whatever> History Month.  Why should the selected groups’ history be relegated to a single month?  American History is every group’s history.

That said, I had the opportunity to visit a neighboring county’s Genealogical Society meeting the other night and the presenter discussed two men who made an impact in Alabama in the 1800s.  While I may have forgotten the name of the first person, I remembered much of his story.  His name was Horace King and he was known as The Bridge Builder.

Horace was born into slavery in 1807 near Cheraw, SC, and was later sold to a John Godwin who was a builder.  He saw Horace’s intelligence and taught him to read and write, something illegal at the time. Godwin also taught him how to build bridges and buildings.  Together, they built many bridges and buildings.  Godwin was so impressed by Horace’s innate abilities that he sent Horace off to Oberlin College in Ohio to study engineering.  Upon returning, he and Godwin built the courthouses of Muscogee County, Georgia, and Russel County, Alabama.

After building the bridge connecting Columbus, GA to Phenix City, AL across the Chattahoochee, Godwin, and his family moved to Phenix City, taking Horace with them.  Horace married a free woman of color in 1839 which was highly unusual at the time.  The legal status of the mother determined whether the children were born free or slaves.  In 1844, Robert Jemison Jr., an Alabama state legislator invested with several others to have bridges built near Steens, MS which was completely designed and supervised by Horace.  As a result, Jemison successfully pushed through legislation to purchase Horace’s freedom.  There are disputes over whether Godwin took the money or not and later, Horace claimed to have purchased his own freedom.  In the 1850s, Horace bought a slave named J. Sella Martin and allegedly sold him after flogging Martin which did not help subdue Martin.  By 1860, Horace was one of the wealthiest men in Alabama.  He is credited with building what was rare at the time, a floating-spiral staircase that is still in use at the Alabama State Capital.

Another dispute in his history revolves around his Civil War participation.  Either way, he was pressed into service as a confederate and forced to aid the southern cause by destroying bridges to prevent the Union from using them.  He also designed and built at least one ironclad ship, the CSS Muscogee.  King later served two terms as a Republican in the Alabama State Legislature.  He died in LaGrange, GA where a large monument was erected in dedication to his great work.  His five children learned the trade and had a very successful business. [i] [ii]

The other person she discussed was Reverend Shandy Wesley Jones, a quadroon (1/4 Black) as his father was likely either Llewellyn Jones or one of Llewellyn’s sons.  He was born on 20 Dec 1816.  Shandy’s mother was a Mulatto (1/2 Black).  It was said that Shandy could pass for white his whole life.  Shandy, his mother, Elizabeth, and two sisters, Ann and Evalina, were freed when Shandy was only four.  How Shandy became educated is unknown but he was literate.  In the 1820s there were only about 500 free persons of color out of a population of about 127,000.  Shandy went on to marry Evalina Love, the daughter of a Choctaw Indian and one of his slaves.  When they married, it is the only recorded non-white marriage in Tuscaloosa, AL for that era.

Shandy became a barber and set up shop directly across the street from the upscale Washington Hotel in Tuscaloosa, charging white customers, $0.25 per haircut and shave.  He was also involved in getting churches built for slaves and free persons of color.  He supported the idea of setting up a colony in Africa for former slaves called Liberia.  He was known for buying slaves and later granting them their freedom.  He most likely worked them to cover the cost of buying another slave before letting the first go.  He too became extremely wealthy.

One of his sons, William H. Jones, served for three years in the Confederate Navy.  Meanwhile, Shandy was helping to start Hunter’s Chapel, AME Zion Church, formerly known as the Freedman Methodist Society Chapter.  After the war, he also served as a Republican Representative.  Life became difficult for him and all the recently freed people and he was forced to flee in the middle of the night to catch a train for Mobile, AL.  There, his wife dies and he remarries, this time to a white woman.

President Grant appoints him to a position at the Mobile Custom House where he is quickly promoted to Inspector.  He held that position for 13 years.  He also pastored Little Zion AME Zion Church.  He dies in 1886 just after attending a long night of singing, praying, and gospel reading. [iii]  [iv]

[i] http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1245

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_King_%28architect%29#cite_ref-18

[iii] https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/story/news/local/2017/01/29/freedmans-life-after-liberty-shandy-jones-timeline/22585014007/

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shandy_W._Jones

2023 02 11 Any Famous Family Members?

Like most Americans (and some internationals) I am sitting here with my favorite lady watching the Super Bowl.  How many of you with distinct surnames see that name on a sports figure or TV personality and wonder if you are related to them somehow?  It is more difficult with the surname Thomas, but my mother was an Akers, we also have Mannings, Mixons, and some others.

No, I have not tried to determine if I am related to Peyton Manning, but I would not be surprised if he does not also descend from Simon Manning of the 1696 Manning Manse in North Billerica, Massachusettes. [i]

I have done a lot of research for clients whose ancestors lived in and near Spartanburg, NC and I have seen many Waltrips, making me wonder if they are related to the famous Waltrips of NASCAR fame.  Owensboro, KY is over 400 miles from Spartanburg but they are still in the southeastern US.  I have not done the research but you get the point.

I did find out I had some distant cousins 2x removed, one played for the Boston Braves and his daughter was in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), and if you watch the movie, A League of their own, she is one of the old ladies at the very end.   My girlfriend’s surname is Maher and I believe there was a Maher in a pro football game we watched.

After I retired from the Army but worked as a defense contractor for the US Army Reserve Command, I worked with a Major Sorbo  When his boss transferred out of state, he gave him an autographed picture of Kevin Sorbo.  I was like, really?  He told me, well, his boss like Kevin, and since Kevin is his brother, why not?

We never know.  But as I always say, do not trust someone else’s research and tree without doing your own verification.  I get a kick out of people who tap into someone else’s research and start declaring they descend from King So-and-So of some European country.  Speaking of which, one of the stories my girlfriend’s family has passed down is that their Laurenborg family immigrant ancestors were the 2nd and 3rd sons of a royal family which meant they inherited nothing and therefore immigrated to the US around the time of the Civil War.  She has now found the baptism record of her ancestor Yens, and his brother, Nis.  So her next step is to research their father and his line in Germany/Denmark (depending on the year and which country controlled the area).  Maybe the story is true and maybe not.  Only doing your own research and verifying what you find can prove or disprove it.

I often teach if you cannot prove something, see if you can disprove it.  If you disprove it then you actually proved it is not true.

Keep searching!

[i] https://www.manningassociation.org/

Blog 2023 01 18 Finding Proof of Strange Moves

Two recent research projects for the same client showed moves that simply did not make sense.  At least not at first and I almost dismissed both.  Let’s take a closer look.

The first one involved a widow moving to Louisiana and the other, parents leaving small children with the maternal grandparents in Jones County, GA, and moving to Mississippi without them.  Starting with the widow, Nancy Jane Sanders, nee Williams.  She and Tilman Sanders were married on 7 August 1851 in Bibb County, GA, by Rev D. H. Moore. [i] They are found on both the 1860 and she is on the 1870 censuses living in Bibb County, GA. [ii] In 1871, Nancy’s father, Reuben Williams, is listed as “Agent for Mrs. Tilman Sanders” on the tax digest for Bibb County. [iii]

Tilman apparently died before the 1870 federal census but after registering in the 1864 Census for Reorganizing the Georgia Militia. [iv] So what does this have to do with moving to Louisiana?  Many, many family trees online say she died around 1897 in Louisiana but they had no proof.  The hunt for proof was on!

Tilman Sanders pops up out of nowhere in 1850 as a 24-year-old man living with William Rufus Mosely and William’s wife, Mary.  Many believed that she was Tilman’s sister but the Mosely daughter, Sarah Angeline Mosely Parker’s death certificate in 1936 lists Mary’s maiden name as Bickley. [v] Additionally, the obituary of their son, Johnnie E. Mosely, that ran in The Macon Telegraph, lists him as 90 in 1954 putting his birth as 1864 and his mother is again listed with the maiden name of Bickley. [vi]

William Rufus Mosely is 32 in the 1850 census and becomes a prominent citizen in the area and is often referred to as Reverend.  He had several children, including a  son, William, who is listed as 8 on this census.  William grows up and marries Nancy Jane’s sister, Maggie Margaret C. Williams in 1877 in Bibb. County [vii]  Their eldest was Thomas H. Mosely, who wrote several books, one named Humorous Travels From Ridiculous to Sublime: From Laughter to Weeping in which, he tells many family stories he recalls as a child and shares some that were sent to him by family members. [viii] He remembered his aunts and uncles.  According to his writing, his Aunt Nancy died in Louisiana where her sister, Mary Addie Williams Moseley, and her husband, Bill Moseley along with the Williams sister’s brother, John H. Williams, were living.  Nancy reportedly died in 1897.  No official record has been located at this time to support her living there or her death.

Is this conclusive?  I would say it is because it is a firsthand account of where she was and seeing the evidence of two siblings living there gives credence to the fact.

Now, what about a William Parker and his wife, Elizabeth Jourdan Parker leaving some of their children in Georgia and moving to Mississippi?

In researching the parentage of Tabitha Ann Parker who married Michael Hartley in Crawford County, GA circa 1858. [ix] We know she was Tabitha Ann Parker based on the death certificate of their son, Walter Lee Hartley which lists his parents as Michael Hartley and Tabitha Ann Parker. [x] So who were Tabitha’s parents?

We first see her name as a 15-year-old living with an apparent grandmother, Tabitha Jordan in 1850 Crawford County, GA. [xi] Assuming that Tabitha Jordan is her grandmother, then who might her parents be?  Making the normal assumption that Tabitha Parker’s father was a Parker and her mother a Jordan, we find there is only one record of a Jordan(Jourdan) girl marrying a man named Parker and that is Elizabeth Jourdan marrying William Parker on 27 March 1832 in Jones County, GA. [xii]

How can we further support our position?  Let’s see who C. E. Odom, a 40-year-old woman listed in he same household on the above 1850 census is.  In a newspaper clipping from one of Tad Evans’ Jones County, GA Abstracts, we learn her name was Cynthia E. Odom.  A look for the marriage of a Cynthia Jordan to a Mr. Odom we find a marriage recorded to a Richard T. Odom on 31 January 1833 in Jones County. [xiii]

Numerous family trees show William and Elizabeth dying in Hancock County, MS.  Many documents, including newspapers, sometimes spelled Jordan as Jourdan.

While not conclusive in itself, the 1840 census for William Parker in Jones County, which is on the other side of Macon, GA from Crawford County, shows one female aged 5-9, and one female aged 10-14.  Either of these could be Tabitha. [xiv] Is there any proof they moved to MS?  An 1850 census for Hancock County, MS shows an Elizabeth Parker, aged 63 and born in NC, living with a son or grandson named Jourdan Parker, aged 14. [xv] Two households before her is a Henry Jourdan from SC.  Based on the grandson’s name being spelled Jourdan, the same as Elizabeth’s maiden name, and assuming the enumerator got the place of birth wrong for one or both, it is logical to believe she is the same Elizabeth Jourdan who married William Parker and that they moved to MS.

For the purpose of keeping this short, I found other evidence that provides sufficient proof that shows the relationship of Cynthia Jordan Odom, the Jourdans in MS, and the Jourdans in GA to call this proved.

[i] Overby, Mary McKeown, Marriages published in the Christian index, 1828-1855; abstracts, Shady Dale, GA, 1971, Georgia Baptist Historical Society.

[ii] 1860 U. S. Census, Bibb County, Warrior District, Macon Post Office, p. 197 (inked), dwelling 1486, family 1526, hhld of Tilman Sanders, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022), citing NARA publication M 653, roll 111. AND 1870 U. S. Census, Bibb County, GA Subdivision 8, Macon PO, p 78, Dwelling 716, family 681, hhld of Nancy J. Sanders, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022), citing NARA publication M 593, roll 136.

[iii] Bibb County, Georgia, Tax Digest for 1871, Militia District 482 (Warrior), image 394/582, FamilySearch.org (www.familysearch.org: accessed 15 January 2023).

[iv] Cornell, Nancy J. 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia, Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.

[v] Lamar County, GA, Certificate of Death, Georgia Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, registered no, 1442, stamped 4608, death certificate of Sarah Angeline Parker, date of death 23 February 1936, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022).

[vi] “Johnnie E. Mosely, (Macon, GA) , The Macon Telegraph, 27 February 1954, p. 8, c. 1, Newspapers.com (www.Newspapers.com: accessed 17 November 2022).

[vii] Bibb County, Marriage Book F, p 153 (middle), (W. J. Mosely – Maggie C. Williams, 22 Nov 1877), Bibb County Probate Court, Macon, Bibb County, GA.

[viii] Mosely, T. H. Humorous Travels From Ridiculous to Sublime: From Laughter to Weeping, Macon, GA 1961.

[ix] 1900 U. S. Census, Crawford County, GA, Militia District 577, SD 3, ED 4, heet 21 A (inked), dwelling and family 376, hhld of Michael Hartley, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022), citing NARA publication T 623, roll 190.

[x] Taylor County, GA, Reynolds Township, Georgia Certificate of Death, GA Department of Public Health, Registered # 3-8092, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed15 January 2023).

[xi] 1850 U. S. Census, Crawford County, Division 20, p. 73 & 74, dwelling and family 533, hhld of Tabitha Jordan, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022), citing NARA publication M 432, roll 67.

[xii] Jones County, Georgia, Marriage Book B, p 76, (Parker-Jourdan 1832), Jones County Probate Court, Gray, Georgia, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022).

[xiii] Jones County, GA, Marriage Book B (1821 – 1936)m p. 138 (bottom), (Odom – Jordan, 31 January 1833), Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022).

[xiv] 1840 U. S. Census, Jones County, p. 132 (stamped), line 23, William Parker, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022), citing NARA publication M 704 and roll 44.

[xv] 1850 U. S. Census, Hancock County, Beat 2 Police Jurisdiction, p 118, dwelling 213, family 219, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com, accessed 28 September 2022), citing NARA publication M 432 and roll 372.

Blog 2023 01 11 A New Year means New Goals

I have been remiss in getting my blogs out since returning from my younger cousin’s funeral.  I took it rather hard that a younger cousin died from cancer, possibly brought on by his heavy tobacco use when he was younger.  We did have the opportunity over the many trips I made in 2021 & 2022 to get reacquainted and share some good memories.

I grew up knowing all of my Aunts and Uncles and most of my cousins, although I never met any of the children of my Uncle Art who lived in Texas and I do not recall meeting Uncle Robert’s daughters.  I also had an Uncle who was an alcoholic and his wife took the kids from Cullman, AL to east Georgia when I was young. Therefore I have had a difficult time researching their children’s families.  Facebook has helped me get in contact with some of those uncle’s grandchildren not to mention many other newly discovered cousins.  I get a kick out of getting a FaceBook message or text telling me their name and that we are supposed to be related and can I tell them how.  My first response is always I don’t know.  Who are your parents and grandparents?

So a new year and new goals.  One of my goals this year is to finish two parts of my portfolio to submit a packet to get certified by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists.  There are three parts to what is required from an applicant. A KDP (Kinship Determination Project), that covers three or more generations proving their kinship, and at least one must be using a proof argument or proof statement.  Another is a Case-Study where we have to do an analysis because we have conflicting, negative, or must use only indirect evidence.  The third part is a research report done for someone else.

I am almost finished with the KDP but learned last year that the case study I was working on will not meet the criteria.

Another of my other genealogical goals for this year is to attend at least one institute and the National Genealogical Society’s national conference in Richmond.  Additionally, I want to attend some classes to improve my forensic research cases.

Have you sat down and written out your genealogical goals for the year?  If not, maybe you should.  I learned a long time ago, that if you do not set goals along with a realistic timeframe to accomplish them, they will not get done.

So let’s all get started.

Blog 2022 09 21 Family Thoughts

I will state right up front, this week’s blog may sound like I am rambling, my apologies.  Over the past year, I have made numerous trips to the area my mother grew up in Alabama to help take care of a younger cousin with cancer.  I was supposed to be there taking care of him this week but the Lord called him home early Saturday morning and I just returned home late last night from the funeral.

As the family genealogist, I have seen the number of people in each branch who have died young from repetitive diseases.  One of my branches saw several from 3-4 generations die from stomach cancer, the oldest about 70 and the youngest about 54.  My mother was one of ten children, eight died before their 66th birthday.  One was Leukemia, one was sclerosis/lung cancer, two were massive heart attacks (my mother was one), and the other four were from cancer of one sort or another.  My paternal grandfather suffered late in life with a pocket forming at the bottom of the esophagus resulting in all food being pureed like baby food.  His youngest half-sister suffered from the same ailment and one of my brothers and nephews has similar issues.

As we begin to see a pattern, do we encourage our family members to get tested early while the disease might be caught?  We do not want to violate their privacy or sound like we are using a bully pulpit, but I think we should encourage them.  My cousin who just passed away worked closely for the same small company and was close with the owner for over 35 years.  Paul, the owner, was almost in tears as he encouraged my deceased cousin’s youngest brother to give up smoking since we all watched Marvin die from cancer that may have been brought on by his decades of smoking.

Have you seen patterns while researching your family?  Have you shared your findings with them?

I warned you there will be some rambling.

Findagrave does not know the exact location of the small country cemetery where Marvin was buried.  I will be taking care of this since I dropped GPS pins at his grave and his wife’s grave.  Do you help with this sort of information?  I recently wrote about volunteering when visiting cemeteries.

Remember, my mother was one of ten kids meaning I have 45 cousins and 3 siblings.  I was surprised how many of the ones I have seen in recent months who have no idea that there were ten kids and much of anything about the family.  I do not bore them but I do try to answer their questions.  One of my 1st Cousins, once removed, who was not raised by her biological father and did not even know her dad was not her biological father, who I have gotten to know in recent years, kept asking me at the funeral who everyone was.  Problem was, the vast majority attending were not family but friends of Marvin’s and his family.  He was one of those unique people who lived his entire life in the small farming community he was born in so he had acquired a lot of friends in his 59 years of living.  Many of his friends he had known since High School and earlier.  It reminded me of when my Aunt Fran died of Leukemia and I had been away from this branch of the family due to my 30+ years with the Army.  I stood by my Uncle Tom doing the same thing my young cousin was doing to me.  “Who is that?”

I’ll finish with one positive note that we spotted at the little cemetery.  This person must be into genealogy.

Blog 2022 09 13 Family and DNA Thoughts

Every once in a while (maybe a bit too often) I open links that pop up on Facebook which typically brings about more spamming of “Suggested for you” links.  But one I read this past weekend dealt with DNA and the damages it brought to families, although a bunch of the stories had great outcomes.  So here are my thoughts.

Let me start by saying I believe the people who changed your diaper, wiped your mouth, fed, clothed, and housed you are your parents.  Regardless of biology!

That said, anyone planning on taking a DNA test needs to prepare themselves mentally for the possibility that their results are not going to be what they expect.  The two terms used in this community are Non-Paternal Event (NPE) and Misattributed Parentage.  Due to a lot of controversy over the form term they are now saying, Not the Parent Expected.

The fallacy with saying Non-Paternal Event is that there was a paternal event, just not the one expected.  The insult of the term is that too many offspring in this category do not want to be referred to as an event in that way.  That is why I prefer the Misattributed Parentage.  We may find that there was an adoption, a sperm donor, or invitro-fertilization using another woman’s egg.

While I personally believe that once a child reaches the age of about 17, they need to be told the truth but too many parents are afraid the child may decide they want a closer relationship with their biological parent than with the one who raised them.  While this does happen, I have yet to see a story written where that was the case except for where the parent who raised them was dealing with their own demons of substance abuse or violent behavior.  In most normal families, there is that curiosity and desire to search and try to find but the parents who raised them should not feel slighted in any way.

Several of the stories were done by people wanting to know their ethnicity and that is how they found out. I need to remind you to take the ethnicity portion with a grain of salt unless you are of a heritage that was not mixed with a lot of others for many generations.  For example, my late wife who lived her first four years in a Korean orphanage was always labeled a Korean-American.  Recently my oldest son did the DNA test and he came back 50% Korean which meant she was 100% and that is believable.  But for most of us, the results are XX% British, XX% French, or German, etc.  Who is to say that this is accurate since the French invaded Germany many times over the last 1,000 years and Germany invaded France, the British invaded other countries, and the Vikings invaded what is now the British Isles.  So these ethnicities are so mixed, I take my results with a grain of salt as I have watched them change many times over the past 7 years.

But back to the main topic.  Should you take a test and discover a deep dark secret, I would suggest you be very sensitive as to why a particular parent may have wanted to keep it a secret and could possibly be embarrassed and then angry that you discovered it.  I would strongly recommend not throwing it in their face.  I recently spoke to a medical Doctor in Michigan who knew his dad was not his biological father but never knew who was.  That is until a half-sister popped up on his testing site and shared the name and pictures. The pictures matched the man he saw in photographs his mother had of her with the man about the time he was conceived.  I know his biological father was dead already and I don’t recall if his mother was either but he had no animosity over the matter.

The Army taught me to put the bottom line up front and in a way I did that but to state it more bluntly.  No one should take a DNA test unless they are prepared to see information that does not match their expectations.

Blog 2022 07 30  Interested in DNA?

Many folks are part of a genealogical society and many of them have Special Interest Groups (SIGs).  One might be on DNA and you should consider joining it to learn more.

I recently received emails from two different people with two different approaches.  The first one said they match me on GEDMatch and do I know how we connect?  Simply answer, No.  The other said he lived in New South Wales and we matched, without naming the testing site, but went on to say they also match Tom, JC, Mary, and Lana F.  That is the right way to approach someone.

Because that match Tom, my uncle, then they are definitely on my mother’s side.  My mother’s father was Andrew Amos Akers and her mother was Dorothy Ella Wales.  The fact that this person also matched JC and Lana F means the connection is on Dorothy’s side of the family.  JC is the son of Dorothy’s oldest sister and Lana the granddaughter of Dorothy’s youngest sister, Florence.  Now I can pinpoint the connection.  Dorothy’s grandmother was Charlotte Phoebe Roberts who was born in England and immigrated first to Toronto, Canada, and then to Chicago is the most natural connection.  And it was.

As to the first connection, she agreed to join me at my next DNA SIG and I will attempt, using GEDMatch to find the connection.  I may not be able to get to the very specific but using information I described above, we can get pretty close to the correct family.  If you are interested in joining us, we meet on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 7 PM Eastern and you are welcome.  Just email me a request to join at least 2 hours before the meeting.

Blog 2022 07 10  Plan Your Genealogy Trip

I am finishing up a fairly successful research trip to the South Carolina State Archives which was in conjunction with the South Carolina Genealogical Society’s Annual Workshop.  I have some tips for your next trip.

The first thing you will want to do is have a plan of who or what line you plan to research.  If you try and do everything, you will only get frustrated and accomplish very little.  I planned for four days of research; two days for researching a single line for a client.  Plus two days to research for my own paternal line.  This gave me a clear vision of what records I would need to determine are needed.

For my client, it was to determine the parents of a couple who married in Marlboro County, South Carolina.  Then to determine whether there were Revolutionary War Patriots amongst them.  Therefore I would concentrate on Marlboro County records with records that are not currently online or are not readable online.

From there, once at the archives, I got reacquainted with their layout and their records available.  Like any archives, they have books with indexes, maps, microfiche, and microfilm, as well as their one internal computer records.  This particular couple shared the same last name before they married and may very well have been first or second cousins which was not totally uncommon.

This was accomplished by finding a will from James’ mother, Alice, where he is named.  That meant James’ father was most likely dead.  I then found a document from William naming his wife, Alice.  I then found a listing of William as serving in the South Carolina Line.  The source was an 1899 newspaper.  That reference is not a reliable source.  The archives did not have the newspaper but the University in Columbia did and I contacted them about coming on Sunday to review it.  They replied that they are closed on Sundays but they sent me a PDF of the 17-page newspaper.  On page 16 was the original article.  It was a transcript of a letter to the Council of Safety listing the various volunteer units and the officers and soldiers under their command.  The archives then knew exactly where their copy from the 1900 South Carolina Historica Society edition which also ran a transcript of those records.

The archives only had one microfilm which covered the wrong dates.  However, they also had a book that stated that the originals are in the Henry Laurens records at the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston, South Carolina.  I can then contact them for copies of the originals.  As to his wife, I was able to determine her most likely father.  All in all, not bad for the two days.

I then concentrated not on lineage since I know the lineage but to try and determine just when my known and proven ancestor moved from Georgia to Beaufort District, South Carolina, where exactly he lived, and when he sold the land to move back to Georgia since he is on the militia rolls of Liberty County in 1800.  Based on the archives’ internally available copies of the land plats I was able to determine the first date of a land survey being conducted for him.  Then, using the descriptors in the survey and the knowledge of one of the archivists, I was able to determine the approximate location.  As to when he sold the land, one of the workshop presenters who is an expert on such records told me simply, that they do exist.  Therefore I won’t be able to determine how or when he disposed of the land.

The next thing on my to-do list was to try and find records concerning my family who crossed the Savannah River periodically to transact business.  All the archives had was the same thing I already have, but once again, the records expert told me to go to the Barnwell County Courthouse for the records.  That will be my next planned trip.

In addition, I attended several sessions to continue my education in this study.

What I failed to do was to properly plan a little fun time while I am here.  I had planned to play 9-holes but the weather did not cooperate.