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DNA Breakthrough

October 3, 2016 1 Comment

Andrew Armour's fort

Andrew Armour’s fort

I recently started to study the matches that Ancestry.com has found for me. I took the test long ago and had paid little attention to that section of the website. I was asked to help a living person who is trying to find his birth father. He contacted me through the message system in Ancestry because he saw I was related to a DNA match he has. This man has done more research and has a much broader understanding of the various kinds of DNA testing available, and how to apply them to answer mystery ancestry questions. I have taken some time to look through the surnames he and I share with no luck in finding a connection.   We are waiting for a y chromosome test from my brother to be processed at Ancestry to see if that reveals more.  The match may come from as far back as 10 generations, so the whole thing is pretty complicated.  I hope we find the answer my distant adopted cousin is seeking.  In the process I am learning more about DNA testing and how helpful it can be.

I have had an excellent breakthrough on my maternal side by searching through all the matches and reading the trees.  Some of the folks with whom I am matched have no tree.  I am not sure what there are doing there.  They are not much use until they get some data to go with the genetics.  By following my matches in the Armer line I have found very early colonists from Plymouth and more new connections yet to be researched in Massachusetts.  I have found Andrew Armour, 5th great-grandfather, born in Scotland 1740, died in Georgia, 1801.  This line is also rich with history and original documents galore.   The map above is of Andrew’s fort.  I also have his will and testament in his own beautiful hand. I always love seeing the ancestors’ handwriting.

In the never ending research to learn more about my ancestors I appreciate any and all breakthroughs that help me verify my family members.  The time spent studying my matches has given me a major breakthrough that will yield much  more data as I dig into it.  I will soon write more bios of this new/old branch of Scotsmen.  If you have access to the Ancestry DNA database I believe you will learn something significant from taking the test.  If you are already studying genealogy I recommend paying attention to the DNA section for possible happy consequences.

DNA, History, Connections

September 11, 2016 2 Comments

My Ethnicity Map

My Ethnicity Map

REGIONAPPROXIMATE AMOUNT
Europe 99%
Great Britain 85%
Europe West 6%
Trace Regions 8%
West Asia < 1%
Trace Regions < 1%

I have studied my ancestry since 2008, and have made much progress. There are several dead ends that seem kind of hopeless. My maternal grandmother was an orphan who was adopted right after the Civil War in Mississippi in a county where the courthouse burned to the ground with all the records. I know who her adopted parents were, and that she had a brother named Fidel who was adopted by the same family.  My paternal 2nd great-grandfather was part of a Swiss/Pennsylvania Dutch family.  I know who his nephew was because I have written notes form my own great-grandmother. I can trace his nephew back to Virginia, and then to Switzerland, but I can find no record of his birth.  I have not found his parents out of all the Petersons scattered all over the Midwest.  I hold a grudge against the state of Indiana for this oversight/problem, because that was the state of his birth.  I desperately want to hook up the data, but can’t find the hard evidence to do so.

The big problem with records of all kinds is that they were created by human beings.  There are errors for all kinds of reasons.  Since all these cases are extremely cold I have no way to verify anything I might find in writing beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I have made errors because of common names like Taylor, Smith and Morse in my tree that can easily be mistaken for  another person with the same last name.  Still, I do learn a lot about the history of the times even when I am proceeding along an erroneous lead.  When I find errors sometimes I can rebuild with accurate data easily, but often I am back to square one without a clue.

I sent my DNA sample to Ancestry.com when the service was first available.  With few folks in the study my DNA was described as 99.9% from the British Isles.  Now the a few years have passed and more comparison DNA has been added I am only 85% from Britain.  I have not paid too much attention to this data, only checking in infrequently.  The impressive part of this data is that I now have 540 4th cousins or closer in the site’s database.  I have started looking at this as a new way to trace the connections because I was recently contacted by an adopted man looking for his birth parents. His closest DNA match is a 2nd cousin of mine.  He and I do not show any match, but male DNA, containing the y chromosome, has more detailed information, as I have recently discovered.  I began to research more about how these tests work and what we can discern from them.  My relative in search of his roots informed me that a match can go back for up to 12 generations.  Finally all my research may be useful to solve this adopted man’s mystery.  He has turned my attention to this fascinating element of genealogy research that I had not really used.  I don’t think I will solve my brick walls (as we call the dead ends in family trees), but it does give me a new way to discover my connections to all my relations.  I am grateful all these 540 people felt curious enough to send in DNA samples for our mutual benefit.  Have you examined your DNA, gentle reader?  Any surprises?

The Power of Written Words

November 3, 2013 8 Comments

My father read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn aloud to me when I was very young. There were other books that followed, but he really loved those two stories, and made them come alive while reading them.  He liked to sing and recite poetry.  We sang at parities all the time.  Since we had a player piano, talent was no barrier to musical contribution.  I pumped happily away for hours singing with the piano rolls.  I still know the words to most of those songs, or could with some prompting, remember the lyrics. I wrote songs myself as a teen, but do not remember them at all, which is funny.  I do remember The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W Service, which my father knew by heart.  As an Okie in Pennsylvania I know he identified heavily with Sam McGee because he frequently and randomly said “Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

My dad was a funny troubadour of sorts who did not know that his 8th great grandmother was Mistress Bradstreet, Pilgrim poet.  He did often say,” You’re a poet, your feet show it, they’re Longfellows.”  Now that I have discovered the Bradstreet connection I am revising the rhyme:

Keep the beat,

Think on your feet,

You’re a Bradstreet.

Since I found Mistress Bradstreet at the Poetry Center I am wondering about my own relationship to words and poetry.  Do I have any poetic DNA that I need to develop?  Curious, I attended the inauguration of Arizona’s new poet laureate, Alberto, Tito, Rios of Nogales, AZ.  He addressed the crowd, read some poems, then answered some questions from the audience.  He is a professor so he found it easy to teach the group.  His style includes plenty of comedy, which holds the attention.  An audience question was, “What is the difference between writing poetry and writing prose?”  His answer was perfect and memorable.  He said, ” Each line in a poem should be able to stand by itself.  If one of my poems shattered and all the lines were left alone, each should be strong enough to get a good job in another poem.”   I love that. I also love the Poetry Center which is very near my home.  I don’t really think the lines in my poem above could find work elsewhere, but if I work on it, perhaps the spirit of Mistress Bradstreet will guide me to achieve better outcomes.

The other fine advice Mr Rios gave, which he illustrated with a story from his youth, was that you observe events and happenings in your life that will die without a story if you do not tell them.  His attitude is that all of us have the potential to use words in a poetic way, and the experience enhances our own lives when we do it.  We also liberate objects and events that want their stories to be told.  This magical reality view of the objects comes naturally from his bilingual and bicultural background.  In Spanish reflexive verbs make the world a highly animated place in which things take action.  I believe Tito Rios is the perfect artistic and cultural representative who could have been chosen as our official poet.  I am pleased to have been in the special inaugural audience.

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