Monday, March 17, 2014

My prayer to St. Patrick

Dear St. Patrick, great holy man of Ireland.

Gee, it's been a while, and I'm hoping that you haven't forgotten me. I'm Pat and Virginia's oldest kid. I'm the great great granddaughter of  John Kelly, born in Shannonbridge in Clonmacnoise Parrish, County Offley on June 22 1829. What moved him to come to America I'll likely never know for sure but he passed in Western Maryland in the small coal mining community of Eckhart on June 28, 1891. It was a pure stroke of luck and our good fortune that my mother, Virginia, spotted the information on his tomb stone in the soft fall afternoon light and read his place and date of birth. He must have been so very proud of his own home place in Ireland to have it put on his stone.

And I'm so very thankful that I got to see his town and visit the Clonmacnoise historical site and see Temple Kelly there. Are we descended from the devout worshipers there? More likely our ancestors were humble farm workers.


St. Patrick, as you know John is buried with his beloved wife, the lovely Bridget Corcoran (1830 - 1 May 1912). We just found this out quite recently through the generosity of those who watch out for Catholics of the Allegany County Maryland area. What a blessing to know when and where they were married. And to finally know with certainty that Bridget rests here with John, although her grave is not marked. We would really and truly like to know where she came from, which could be anywhere in Ireland. They met and married in Cumberland near by where they lived in Eckhart. A hint would be lovely.

But it's not so much Bridget that concerns us most days. It's Mom's Farrell/ O'Farrell people. Mom's own dearly loved and missed mother, Emma, told her that her own blessed grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Farrell (who married Samuel Albert House and was born in Ireland on 22 November 1835 and died 28 March 1919) had told Emma that they came from the place in Ireland where you drove the snakes out. Forgive me for not listening the first time Mom told me that story. It just seemed too fantastic. What is that you saying, Oh ye of little genealogy faith? So true.

So I'm sending this little devotion off to you on your day, the day you passed from this earth, in hopes that you will send us in the right direction. Did they come from County Mayo as the legend says?

Well, have a nice feast day, St. Patrick. Perhaps you'll like knowing that to this day there are still numerous Patrick Kellys out and about.

Clonmacnoise Historical Site, Ireland, on the Shannon River.


Temple Kelly there in the background at Clonmacnoise.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

It was a small project, at the start, or so I thought

I've posted before about how it came to be that I got all wrapped up in getting Mom's stories put up in book form and you can read about that here. Last October I finally had a rough draft which I showed to Mom when we all met up in Cleveland. Since then I've been fine tuning and adding more photos and refining the layout. Now, it's finished and off I go to the corner copy place to get a bunch done and bound.  Whew, that's a load off:)

But wait! I sent it by email in PDF form to my good friend and artist, Kathy. I asked her to look at it for it's graphic qualities and give a critique. Her reaction was interesting. Here's a link to Kathy's artwork online. Go ahead and take a look and you'll see why I asked her to look at the book. Kathy has a major eye for the old and precious and story-telling! Here's one of Kathy's works just so you can see.
Kathy Miller
Atlas of TimeEncaustic and mixed media
35 x 221/4 x 91/4 inches, 2007

So the thing is that Kathy liked it and just enjoyed reading Mom's stories even though she'd never been to Frostburg, Maryland, and never met Mom. Fascinating. For the first time, after talking to Kathy, I came to think that there might be a wider audience for Mom's stories than just the family. With that in mind I went off to think about this project and widen my vision.

What I knew right away that this was a project with the end product as a real book that you can hold in your hand. It was not an online project. And it was apparent to me that we needed a way to have the book printed without me having to run to the printers all the time. It should be automatic and on demand. And I sure didn't want to be shipping them either. We also needed to charge something for them and it should be enough to cover printing costs, at least. Maybe the project could generate some small change for one of Mom's favorite charities. That would be nice.

Then I remembered about CreateSpace by Amazon. And off I went to check it out. Signed up for an account and then jumped in. Made a cover first so that the project was easier to visualize. That exercise showed me that we needed some synopsis text for the back cover, and here's what that looked like.

It’s small town America of the 1920s and 1930s and The Great Depression is causing hardships for just about everyone in the Western Maryland mountain coal mining area. WWI has ended and with it the demand for coal just about vanished. Miners are out of work, unions try to organize with limited success, but it’s all background to a little girl and her family and friends. The joys of the seasons, the sheer pleasure in getting lost in a book by the light of a streetlamp, and gentle grandparents are what matters.
"We didn't know we were poor," Virginia W. Kelly says of childhood, "because everyone was poor. We had what everyone had. And somehow we were all very happy too."

What to do about the cover design? There were of course choices. I downloaded the cover design template in which you can build all the elements of your cover by hand and might go back to that later, but set it aside for now because it looked time consuming and maybe even challenging. Then found Cover Creator and the ready-to-go cover designs. That took just a few moments to work out and it was easy and fun. Just select the design you want to play with, plug in title, sub-title, authors name and photo, and synopsis text. I'd like at this point to show you what the cover looks like but somehow it doesn't allow a "copy" or a screen shot. Too bad.

Next I got assigned an ISBN number for the book. Wow! It's own ISBN number! Am remembering a time when just one ISBN number for a self-publishing project would cost about $100. But this is free.

Next was the interior layout. Had already chosen the size as 6 inches by 9 inches because it is the most popular paperback size. Now I had two choices: copy and paste or upload from Word and work online, or use the template offline. Maybe working offline would be better.  I downloaded the template for the interior of a 6 x 9 book. When it's finished all that would be left is to upload the full template.

In the meantime I was anxious to see how much of problem this was going to be, converting the 8.5 x 11 inch original size to 6 x 9, so in Word just changed the page size to 6 by 9 inches with narrow margins and saved that copy with a notation about the new size. Then I took a look. Yikes, there are a lot of adjustments to be made! Page breaks sometimes made no sense, photos were probably too large for the smaller page, and the like. And, the photos couldn't be too small because, well, people really like looking at the photos and the audience will probably be older folks and we like larger print and larger images.

So that's where I am at the moment, and working on the interior text, making it fit, adding yet more pictures, and still adjusting the contrast on all of them. I think I know how it goes on these print projects because I've seen others. Photos go dark and lose contrast. I hate that.

This is gonna take a while!

Grandpa Williams, Mom's dad, with a fish.
Cambria Williams (1807 - 1960.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trying to be organized: That National Pike Album

Got an email last week from a librarian in charge of digitizing documents and such inquiring about Mom's photo album of the National Pike. (You can see the images in the album on a tab at the top.) They would like loan of it and want to scan the images and put them on their web site, WHILBR, the Western Maryland Historical Library. Their holdings cover Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties in Western Maryland. WHILBR is a project of the Western Maryland Regional Library, and a very good one for anyone researching in any of those three counties. I've spent countless hours on the WHILBR web site looking at maps, reading up on slaves and free blacks in Western Maryland, and looking at historical photos and documents about the C&O Canal, one of the major transportation routes in this neck of the woods. So why wouldn't I want to help them?

I called Mom and told her about the project and what they want to do and she liked it. So I emailed the librarian and Mom went off to look for the album. Now as you might know, Mom is 95 and has at her disposal about 40 years or more of genealogy files, book collected, and family photos. And one beautiful old album of photos of the National Road taken about 1906. The photos are certainly out of copyright and in the Public Domain so we are free to share them in any way whatsoever. The project is a go.

Yes, and Mom went to look for the album. At 95 she's slowed down a tad but off she went with enthusiasm and excited about the project too! But as of now, she hasn't found the album. She did get sidetracked because in reorganizing her files and books (as long as she was sifting through everything) she found other stuff that tickled her fancy, so she had to go and take a moment and look at those items. Now I'm guessing here but knowing Mom I bet that once she did get sidetracked she took time to enjoy whatever she was looking at!

The point is that Mom has such a wonderful treasure trove of materials of all sorts and... that she still loves it all!

We younger folk can only hope for such a payoff to our endeavors: reaching 95 and loving our collection and delighting in every item as enthusiastically as we did when we first acquired it.

Has she found the National Pike Album yet? No, but soon.

Mom with her new camera on her birthday, 1942.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DNA Monday: The beauty part more relatives getting tested

Now I get it: it's way better when more relatives get DNA tested.

At first it instinctively made sense, but now that Mom's 4th cousin has been tested and her uncle and aunt also tested, along with my brother and Mom, well, it's a DNA party over here. Her husband is managing her project and I manage Mom and brother's accounts so he and I have been working together. Let's just call him "Rich" because he's rich in genealogy stuff. This guy knows how to research like a blood hound!

Rich's wife is the direct descendant of the sister of Mom's 2nd great grandmother... or the direct descendant of my 3rd great grandparents. (I had to use the Steve Morse One-Step Relationship Calculator to be sure. ) OK, now I'm real willing to admit that the cousins and their removal is like jello in my mind! I think I have it nailed down and then, poof, it's gone. My Family Tree Maker says one thing and Steve Morse's One-Step calculator says something else so it's operator error for sure. (I have a self-inflicted headache now.) The point being that Rich's wife and Mom and I are blood relatives. Whew.

Rich's people tested with Ancestry DNA and Mom and all of us tested with 23andMe. We met in the middle and uploaded raw files to GEDmatch. It's so lovely that there's a place to upload your raw files and compare across DNA platforms.

Rich and I are new to this, although in full disclosure I have been working with my DNA results almost a year now, stumbling as I go and learning by trial and error. But DNA for genealogy got so complex so fast that I always feel as though I've just scratched the surface! He and I spent an hour or so chatting by phone and while our conversation happily rambled here and there, we did talk about the connections that our DNA results show.

Recently I've read about "sticky" chromosome segments, ones that are passed down through multiple generations. I think I read it on Roberta Estes blog, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy. Here's the recent article in which she mentions "sticky" segments. This blog post is really good at explaining a phenomenon I've seen in the results for the known relatives who have tested. By identifying known relatives and our shared segments, especially when three or more are tested, I can go look for others in the GEDmatch database who match on those chromosomes looking for the segment match.

In the case of Rich and his wife's relatives, we are looking at sticky segments for Mom and Uncle. Here's what we see on GEDmatch.

Minimum threshold size to be included in total = 500 SNPs
Mismatch-bunching Limit = 250 SNPs
Noise Reduction Threshold = 0.85
Minimum segment cM to be included in total = 5.0 cM

Chr Start LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs

Largest segment = 28.5 cM
Total of segments > 5 cM = 112.2 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 3.5

And we can go looking for matches on that loaded chromosome 13. And here's what that looked like.

Comparing Kit M120110 (Mom)   
Kit NumName
Chr Start LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs

As you can see Uncle and Mom show up as we would expect. And two other people also show up but they don't match on the same locations on chromosome 13. Too bad but we'll keep looking.

I find it astounding that those segments on CH 13 have been handed down through two descendant's lines intact! Talk about sticky!

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