Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Displaying Your Tree

In my time as a family history researcher I have seen lots of different ways to display one's family tree. In fact, I have made quite a few myself. Here is one example I made for my niece Sofia:

It is basically a fan chart. Each direct ancestor is recorded on a leaf and those leaves are then arranged in concentric circles. Older generations are higher up the tree. Her father's side is on the left; her mother's side is on the right.

A few weeks after starting my new job I decided I wanted a poster of some sort for my door. I leave my door open during the day and thus, it is pretty much what I stare at all day; well, aside from my computer.

I wanted something different. I went searching on one of my favorite sites; www.etsy.com. Etsy, for those of you who don't know is kind of like an eBay.com for artisans to sell their creations.

I didn't go looking for a family tree but when I came across the etsy shop called My Circle Family, I couldn't resist. I had never seen a family tree structure in a circle before. And I could customize it any way I wanted to, if I wanted to. For those of you who are impatient as soon as I made my purchase I had a chart to fill in. In less than 72 hours I was off printing my tree at the local Staples.

The tree design you purchase from My Circle Family costs between $20 and $60 depending on how much you want to customize it. If you choose one of the predetermined color combinations it's $20. The cost of printing will vary greatly depending on where you choose to have it done, what material you have it printed on, and how large you want the tree to be. I spent way more on the printing than I wanted to but I wanted it big. For $30 I had a 2 foot x 2 foot poster printed at Staples.

And this is how it looks on my office door.:

That's me in the middle. And my great-great-great grandparents around the outer edge. To me it looks like the rings of a tree.
I love it! 
Thanks, Julie at My Circle Family at etsy.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

DNA: Well This is Very Interesting Indeed!

In my last post I predicted the results of the DNA tests I had done for my father and my sister. Their results came in today.

For my father I suspected that he would be a "a little less Irish than I am" and that he would "show a little more DNA from Great Britain." And he does!!

As for my sister, I didn't really think her ethnic profile would be all that different from my own. I mean, we do have the same parents. Maybe we'd be off by a percent of two here and there but look at the comparison:

I think the most shocking result was that of my sister's very high percentage of West Europe. West Europe includes France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Czech Republic, and a few other countries that are neighbors to those countries listed. We have ancestors that I can document who were born and raised in those countries so that is not the surprising part; my results include those areas as well but they are grouped differently - much differently!!!  Why is that???

I am going to have to do a little more research into these results in order to understand them. In the meantime I am excited to delve into connecting with other researchers who have matched with my dad and sister. I also have to get on the ball and get my grandmother to take her test.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DNA Perdictions for my Family's Tests

This past December I bought some DNA test kits through Ancestry.com for my sister, my father, and my paternal grandmother. I bought them to expand my genealogy research. 

Nearly everyone wondered why I bought one for my sister. Most inquired, "Won't she have the same results as you, April?" To which I responded, "No, we're not twins." We will have a lot of DNA in common because we have the same parents but there will be some difference; we each got different DNA from our parents.

I had my father test his DNA because that will help me to determine if my matches are from my mother's side or my father's side. Also, all of his matches are my relatives.

I asked my grandmother to take the test for the very same reason; her results will help me distinguish grandma's side of dad's results from grandpa's side of the family. Grandpa is no longer with us and I have no communication with my mother so it makes the most sense to ask my sister, father, and Nanny.

Now that my sister's test and my father's test are both being processed I am starting to make some predictions as to how their ethnic profiles will differ from mine.

My sister will have different individuals whom she matches to but I think her ethnic profile will be the same as mine. I wished my profile would have shown some African ancestry and/or more European Jewish ancestry. I believe my ancestors to have been part of one of the largest slave trading families in England; not something I would be proud of but had I had any African DNA I would have pursued that line of ancestry a little more zealously. Also, I had suspected that perhaps my most maternal line was ethnically Jewish at some point because every search I do for their last name returns Jewish people but alas I am only 2% European Jew so I have my doubts that my Goetzs were Jewish. Maybe my sister's DNA will show a little bit of those ethnicity but based on my results, I doubt it.

As for my father, I suspect that he will be a little less Irish than I am and show a little more DNA from Great Britain. I make this guess based on looking at the ethnicities of his great-great grandparents who were mostly of English origin. If any African ancestry shows up I suspect it will be on this side of the family.

I don't believe my grandma, who we call Nanny, has not sent in her test yet. I am ok with that. I would kind of like to see Dad's results before hers. A total of 4 sets of results will be a lot to work through at once. 

If I have to predict nanny's results right now, and I don't really have to do anything by the way :) , I would guess that she is even more Irish than I am. I am 44% Irish according to my DNA; according to my documentation of Nanny's great grandparents she is 50% Irish, followed by 25% German, her other two great grandparents were Swiss and French.

And so there you have my guesses. It will be a few weeks more until I know.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

More, Moor, and Moore DNA-ness

I am totally diggin' on this DNA testing for genealogy research. I was really hesitant to do it for a few reasons:

  1. It used to be so much more expensive than it is now but it's still not cheap. I am in a constant state of broke. I spent a good chuck of my life well underpaid and so I exist in a lot of debt. I don't have money to throw away. Family history research is expensive enough with database subscriptions and purchasing vital records.
  2. I heard a lot of people who had done the testing were disappointed with the results. They thought it would open up their research so much more than it did so...

Why bother??

But I am not disappointed at all. I am totally fascinated with it. I had been at a point in my research where almost every line had hit a brick wall. Now I am connecting with other researching cousins and totally confirming my research.

In general, I am not a very confident person. Ask any man I've ever dated. I'm not the insecure jealous type really...that's not it. You go be with whoever you want, I don't give a damn...but I am always sort of convinced it's not me. And not in a "woe-is-me" kind of way more in a "now-what-are-you-doing-here" kind of way. But whateve. Why am I telling you this? Oh yeah, lack of confidence. I know I am a good researcher, I know I am a decent writer, but I just doubt and second guess myself constantly.

The great part about this DNA testing though is that it has totally confirmed my research. I had used the example in the past of my 6th cousin once removed, Cousin Mary, and I not connecting with each other through DNA. I was so disappointed but I did connect with someone else who shares the same common ancestors as Cousin Mary and I. That felt great because I had doubts about my Raynor research where as Mary's line was pretty doubtless. So to see my DNA sync me up to someone of the same Raynor line...I was elated; even proud that I had documented that ancestry correctly.

Now I have just had that experience again. And get this...with my patriot line. 

If you have read my blog in the past you may know I researched to get into the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I thought I had a patriot based on some bad info and gave up on the thought of becoming a member. I thought I didn't have any direct ancestors who could have been patriots. My dad's line - in my mind - was the one with long standing roots in America and they lived in Loyalist territory during the Revolution. 

Then I stumbled across a patriot in the most unlikely place. I found my patriot, Daniel Moor, on my mother's side which I always think of as my immigrant side because none of the arrived in the 1600s...or so I thought. 

I believed the line I found my patriot on to be a Canadian line. Seems the Moors traipsed back and forth cross the U.S. Canadian boarder for several generations though. By the way, the spelling of that last name takes every imaginable form in my documentation; Moor, Moore, More.

I thought this connection to Daniel Moor was  kind of too good to be true but today I found someone with a DNA match who has researched back to the same couple, John and Janet Moor, Daniel Moor's parents!

What that does is confirm that my research is correct. Someone connecting to that same couple has DNA in common with me. I have patriot DNA! I'm so excited.

Now of course if my father's DNA test come back and matches this same researcher we have a problem because the Moors are on my mom's side. We'll see because right now I am patiently waiting on Dad's results and my sister's. Yes, they each got a kit for the December birthdays. Just what they always wanted!! :-D

We'll see!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Unclaimed Persons

I am currently reading the book Hey, America, your Roots are Showing: Adventures in Discovering News-Making Connections, Unexpected Ancestors, Long-Hidden Secrets, and Solving Historical Puzzles by Megan Smolenyak. It is a great read about some really interesting challenges faced by Ms. Smolenyak, a professional genealogist.

This little video will give you a sense of what the book is about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J-VYdcAOEI#t=46 or you may want to visit Ms. Smolenyak's webpage at : http://www.megansmolenyak.com/america-your-roots-are-showing.html

But if you are interested in genealogy and have experience at any level I think you will enjoy this book. AND it is a quick read.

I specifically want to share with you a very sad issues covered in Chapter 8; "Unclaimed Persons: Why you should call your estranged brother."

First off, unclaimed persons are deceased individuals whose next-of-kin have not been identified by the coroners office in morgues across the United States; and I am sure they exist all around the world. Not Jane Doe/John Doe but known individuals who seemingly have no family; no known next-of-kin to claim their body.

Think about that. The physical remains of a departed soul who no one has claimed. So sad. And the statistics reflect that this is actually a situation of epidemic proportion.

If you want to stretch your legs at some forensic genealogy you can volunteer to help find relatives for these lost souls. There is a website: http://www.unclaimedpersons.org
The site has a video that really explains the situation so much better than I can. To date, more they have solved more than 400 cases since June 2008.

If you want to help, the website will answer all your questions.

And maybe you can help a family out there get some answers they might need. 

I myself have decided that this will be my next Family History Month activity.