Friday, May 30, 2014
As we each pursue our various genealogy projects, it often causes us to think deeper about the topic at hand and this sure has been true for me while chasing chromosomes. As regards this project I've stumbled into some conclusions and want to share them. These conclusions are very much based on the way our project is shaping up. Our Farrell project is unique to us but there might be something of interest to others. Maybe.
We know that chromosomes are key to unlocking the science of inheritance. If there's a chromosome match that follows some basic parameters then descent is assured (no matter what the records say or especially what they don't say). But for our project, what are those parameters? Here's our thinking and the parameters we came up with. Just remember that I'm no expert on genetic genealogy:)
1. We need to see the match plus a tree in order to know who the common ancestor is. If there's a match but no tree (or the tree is poorly developed) we've found that we're mostly out of luck, unless we want to invest a lot of time helping the matching person build out their tree. Right now we have only six people who have matched and have identified a common ancestor, but we've just started.
2. Importance of the number of centemorgans, or cMs, in the match: more = better. So we know that cMs is how the match is measured and that more cMs equals a better and stronger match. The general rule of thumb is that under 5 to 7 cMs is probably not worth spending too much time on: glance at it and move on quickly. Over 5 - 7 is called IBD or Identical By Descent to indicate that the matching chromosomes are shared by descent, with some level of confidence. Less than 5 is called IBS or identical by state, meaning that the chromosomes are shared most probably by chance or if by a common ancestor, then that ancestor is way back.
As a side note here, at each generation we inherit only about 50% of our DNA from one parent. Which DNA segments are handed down is close to random. By about 5 to 9 generations you start to lose ancestors entirely leaving no trackable DNA.
3. Endogamous populations are a little different and Magnolia, Virginia, now West Virginia, might be one. It was a small relatively isolated community and there were many intermarriages. An endogamous population is a group or social set in which there's mating amongst a small population and therefore the gene pool is shared and re-shared repeatedly. In this endogamous population situation the rule is to use 10 cMs as a cut off point for IBD and establishing a true genetic connection. This 10 cM cut off could be a good tool in evaluating our Farrell matches.
4. Number of generations to a shared common ancestor. We've seen that when it comes to number of generations to that common ancestor, fewer is better and gives us a better chance at spotting a common ancestor. At the point of 4th cousin it is commonly thought that there's maybe a 50-50% chance of the match being reliable. With each generation the confidence drops some more. We want 4th cousins or closer. (Who doesn't?)
5. In looking at the individual chromosomes where there is a match, the key element is the start and stop locations. If two people have a matching segment of over 10 cMs on the same chromosome with greatly similar start and stop locations, that's a good match for us to pursue.
And what are our "best case" requirements?
* A tree that shows the common ancestor
* 7 cMs minimum and 10 cMs or more is best
* 4th cousin or closer, 5 generations or fewer to common ancestor
* Matches with similar start and stop locations on chromosomes
So there we are. We've found that most matches don't work out because we're thinking that they aren't "good enough." We'll either have to wait for more people to be tested that meet our requirements or invest more of our own time helping matches that follow the four generation and greater than 10 cMs rules build out their trees in an effort to find that most recent common ancestor. We will have to evaluate each match and, using these parameters, decide how much time we can invest to make the match gain more confidence and eventually yield that ever-elusive and critically important Most Recent Common Ancestor.
This is at times difficult work, but so very rewarding.
Resources I like:
Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy
Lots of resources and love the way learning is broken down into manageable lessons. You can pop in and learn on the fly or brush up on a topic. Love it!
Blaine T. Bettinger's Blog: The Genetic Genealogist
It's all good here. Check out the Product Reviews to sort out vendors.
CeCe Moore's Blog: Your Genetic Genealogist
I really don't know how CeCe gets it all done. Her schedule makes me swoon with exhaustion. Use the search box down a little ways on the right to connect with any topic you can think of.
ISOGG Blog: the International Society of Genetic Genealogy
The Source. Check it out.
DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy
Roberta Estes's web site is a good read. Subscribe or pop in to browse or search.
The URL for this post is:
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
When I checked Joseph's personal Facebook page this morning I read this lovely and heart-warming story.
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/cousin-josephs-good-genealogy-deed.html
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
When Mom first started telling me about our Patriot ancestors who served in the Revolution, there were just two on the list, one on Mom's side and one on Dad's. We were proud as punch and Mom got busy preparing the documents for my sister and I to get in the DAR under Nehemiah Newans, Dad's ancestor. The original of our DAR certificates still to this day grace Mom's fireplace bookshelves. Nehemiah fascinated me from the start of my interest in genealogy and finding out what I could about him and his life was my first big project. Just plug his name into the search box to the right and many posts about my search for him will pop up. You can also see a timeline of his life by clicking the tab at the top.
By any measure, Nehemiah Newans did have an interesting and adventurous life. Born between 1735 to 1748 in the Derbyshire area of the UK, somehow and under some circumstances, he got to the Colonies. You can read the family story handed down in printed form by clicking on the "Thomas F. Myers Book" tab at the top. You only need to read the first couple of pages to know as much as any of the family now know about his early life. It says that he served with General Braddock and later under George Washington, but I have my doubts about that, even though it makes a dandy story.
After his military service, he landed in the area around York Pennsylvania, maybe. But he did serve in the Revolutionary War and we know that for sure. At the end of the war he disappeared from sight of his wife and son. But he was found in the 1790 census in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. At this time his York family thought he was killed in the Battle of Yorktown that ended the war. But he wasn't. That's all I'll include here for brevity of space, but feel free to see his timeline or search on his name to see where he ends up. I found both the search for him as well as the results fascinating, It was this project that hooked me on genealogy! Sadly, very few others are hunting for him now, but every once in a while we do make contact.
Captain Jacob Whetstone Sr. (1738-1833) is Mom's big Revolutionary War ancestor. I'll save a lot of time and space here by just giving you one important highlight. There were two Jacob Whetstones living in the same area for a period of time: ours and theirs. Ours served in the Revolution and theirs did not. A wonderful researcher named Lois is now putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive book about our Whetstones so I'll leave the detailed exposition to her. Go, Lois!! (And please write faster:) Here is a link to my Surname Saturday post on The Wonderful Whetstones where you can find our line. Just know that the other guy married Elizabeth Studebaker (1771- 1861).
Capt. Jacob Whetstone has a long list of descendants who periodically look for him and I've connected to some of them. His legacy is alive and well, I'm happy to say.
Peter Troutman (1754-1846) is the next on my list of obvious and heralded ancestors who served in the Revolution. He has a whole band of descendants who connect to each other regularly. I found a particularly knowledgeable cousin tending Peter Troutman's memorial on Find A Grave. His war record is interesting and he served both his own enlistment period and as a paid substitute for others. You can read more about him here on my Surname Saturday post.
Peter Myers (?-1825) is an ancestor I want to know more about and you can read a Surname Saturday post here. In short, here's what the little book, The Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers, has to say about him:
* Peter is the one son who made his escape during an Indian massacre.
* Was "bound out" as a servant when parents were killed.
* Became a tailor early on.
* Was a scout and Indian fighter.
* Helped build Fort Frederick in Maryland.
* Served in the Revolutionary War in the Maryland Line.
* Wounded at the Battle of Brandywine.
* Wounded again at the Battle of Monmouth.
* In old age, lost his fortune after the money from the sale of his farm proved worthless.
* Died penniless.
Now doesn't that sound interesting? But like dessert, I'm waiting for a bit of time and a cuppa to really enjoy this hunt! And I know next to nothing about his Revolutionary War service so that's a bunch of happy digging right there.
Adam Knauff (1760 - 1794) is another ancestor rumored to have served in the Revolutionary War, but I need to check out the documentation for myself. Mom has it in her deep notes from back before the internet that she saw that Adam Knauff served in the Revolutionary War, 4th Company, Benjamin Ogle, Capt. Now that this sort of thing is more easily researched online, it's time to do so. He would have only been 15 at the time of the start of the revolution but that's not impossible, especially if he fought in the later years or his birth year was off. Or he could have been that most romantic of subjects for painters of pictures depicting the Revolutionary War, the little drummer boy or fifer. Don't laugh, it could happen!
John Combs (1760-1854) served and was wounded in the neck and arm in the Revolutionary War and we know the unit and who his captain was, but I want more details about him too.
Josiah Frost (1744-1819) and John Porter Jr. (1737-1810) are both on the Porter line and there is one connection there that isn't rock solid but is so close that Mom and I are pretty sure the link is obvious. It's our Delilah Porter's father and you can read about that here. They lived real close to each other and their families are so intertwined it will drive you just about nuts... as it did me. Their Revolutionary War service is well documented so there's no work there for me, except to better document Delilah's father. Mom and I both think it was the endearing Gabriel McKenzie Porter.
Isaac Workman Sr. (abt. 1710-1827) and his son Isaac Workman Jr. (1742-1827) are hard to unravel in the source records. It is generally agreed that Sr. was the one who fought in the Revolutionary War and then sold his military lot land to Jr. before he moved to be with other sons in Knox County, Ohio. But look, Sr. would have been 60-something years old at the outbreak of fighting. This is a sturdy line of folks, to be sure, but fighting at 60-something? To me, it makes more sense that it was Jr. who fought. But you know how it is when you try to swim against the tide of common belief. There will need to be a lot of ducks and they better be in neat rows. It's on my list of stuff to pursue.
Last are two names from "over the mountain" in Virginia, now West Virginia, and they are John Hartley (1750-1825) and William Biggerstaff (1720-1803). Cousin Rich is the master of this territory so I'll leave it in his able hands. His argument is based on their contribution to the Revolution by paying taxes in its support.
Well that's all eleven of them. And in doing this tidy exercise I notice that I've also made a To-Do list for myself! Dandy!
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/military-memories-ancestors-of-american.html
Monday, May 26, 2014
Uncle Harold and Mom's sister Dot grew up together. They were childhood sweethearts and so it was no surprise to the family that they wed. Here are some items from Mom's archive that will give you a fuller picture of their young lives. Weren't they cute?!
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Thursday, May 22, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I knew that Mom's Uncle Jimmy, who was James Franklin Whetstone (1889-1960), had served in the First World War but not much more, so I asked her recently. He was, as she remembered, the only one of the family to have served in that war. We mused about that for a while and thought that it was due to the way the generations broke out, more or less, and that the men were either too young or too old and supporting families. But Uncle Jimmy went. And Uncle Jimmy got "gassed." But we'll get to that in a while.
I found Uncle Jimmy's draft registration card and gave it a cursory glance. Mom, who is 95 and an avid genealogist, was on the phone with me when I was doing this and we chatted about the times and the place. Jimmy was born in the little Western Maryland mountain town of Frostburg, Allegany, in 1889, and that's where he died. Some of his brothers moved to Akron to work in the rubber plants and Jimmy went there from time to time as well. In the 1910 census he and two of his brothers, Charlie and Tuck, were working in one of the numerous coal mines that dot the hills around Frostburg. The times were prosperous and in 1912 the population of the villages around Frostburg ballooned to over 15,000 and everyone came to Frostburg to shop. The price of coal was rising and the mines were hiring. But after WWI the demand for coal dropped as did employment. The local tire and rubber plant hired as demand for cars and the tires they ran on increased. It made a lot of sense for the men to seek employment in Akron where there were a number of tire and rubber plants.
Here's a look at Uncle Jimmy's draft card, below. So what are we looking at? I checked the source info on Ancestry.com just below the overview box and clicked through to see this about the First Registration cards:
First Registration. The registration on 5 June 1917, was for men aged twenty-one to thirty-one—men born between 6 June 1886 and 5 June 1896.
It was called the 12 question card and there is a graphic view of the card's questions which was a big help because the image I saw for Uncle Jimmy's card was pretty rough and I couldn't make out the questions.
As we chatted, Mom asked me to check the 1910 census and see if Jimmy was married and he wasn't, and then she quickly asked about the 1920 census and he was single there too. Now this jogged Mom's memory a bit and she mentioned that she thought Uncle Jimmy had been married twice, first to a woman who might be named Verona, and then to the wife they all knew, Madge Cornu. But the records weren't yielding anything about a first marriage. We looked in all the usual places and the mysterious "Verona" was not to be found. And just for fun I looked at other trees on Ancestry.com and there was no first wife for Uncle Jimmy there. Maybe he wasn't married before he married Madge Cornu.
Back to Jimmy's military service. I also found a record of his service in this index:
Ancestry.com. Maryland Military Men, 1917-18 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
Considered by many as the first "modern" war, World War One involved United States military units from 1917 to 1918. This database is a massive collection of military records for men who served in the war from Maryland. Originally compiled in 1933, it provides the names for men who served in the army, navy, and marines. In addition to providing the individual's name, it reveals city of residence, unit of service, birth date or age, and other helpful facts. It also contains the location and date of enlistment and discharge information. The names of over 67,900 men are included in the collection. For researchers of Maryland ancestors who may have served in the "Great War," this can be an informative database.
And here's the listing for Uncle Jimmy:
Name: James Franklin Whetstone
Address: Frostburg, Allegany Co.
Birth Place: Frostburg, Md.
Birth Date: 17 Sep 1889
Comment: Ind 8/6/18 pvt, Co K 4 Pion Inf; 9 Evac Hosp 8/21/18, Hon disch 7/8/19, Overseas 9/15/18 to 6/27/19, Meuse-Argonne
OK, that's some good info right there but I had to break it down and do a bit of searching. He was inducted into service on August 6th, 1918 and was a private. Look, it says that he served in Company K of the 4th "Pion Inf." What's that? Found out that it's short for Pioneer Infantry. What's that? The pioneers go ahead of each battalion to clear the way and assure smooth passage. They were recruited from men who were described by the Personnel Bureau of the War Department as:
"Men experienced in life in the open, skilled in woodcraft and simple carpentry — substitute
occupations, rancher, prospector, hunter, scout."
The Whetstones were that. They were skilled in life in the open and were handy as hunters and knew their way around the woods. It was Jimmy's brother Tuck who showed Mom how to find edible and safe mushrooms in the woods, and you can read about that here. Jimmy's father was a stone mason so he had intimate knowledge of that craft and building in general. He had worked as a coal miner and needed to be physically strong. I'm thinking that Jimmy would fit right in.
I won't even try to explain the battle of the Argonne and if you want to read about it visit the listing on Wikipedia here. War history buffs will know right away that it was the 47-day battle that helped bring the war to an end and that it was the largest battle in US military history because it employed 1.2 million troops.
He was gassed and I heard it from Mom. Mustard gas, and all the relatives knew about it. If it was mustard gas he would have had scarred air passages and difficulty breathing and Mom confirmed that he had difficulty the rest of his life. He was taken to the 9th Evac Hospital on August 8, 1918 and then received his Honorable Discharge on July 8, 1919. It was probably the great adventure of his life.
Uncle Jimmy was in Frostburg for the 1920 census, and probably real glad to be home. On September 19th, 1921, Jimmy married Madge Cornu in Summit County, Ohio. He was 32 and she was 21 and worked as a rubber worker in one of the Akron plants. He lived and worked in Frostburg, the record shows.
And that brings me to an interesting point here. Let's go back to the idea of Jimmy being married twice. Look at his draft card, above. It says that he's married but gives no wife's name as so many other draft cards in this record set do. Then take a look at Jimmy and Madge's marriage record below. It says they are both single.
Now what's up with that? Was he actually married to this mystery woman Mom remembered as Verona? Or was it just a romance that never worked out? Was it a secret marriage that just ended without going public, and they both just walked away? Or did she die? Mom thinks she might have.
Why are there always more mysteries and questions than we have time to explore? I'll leave the two marriages issue to his descendants, if they care to go looking. A person only has so may hours in the day, sad to say.
Uncle Jimmy and Madge lived in Frostburg the rest of their lives in a nice little brick house on Midlothian Road, later renamed Braddock Road. They had three sons, Joseph James who everyone called JJ, John Robert, and Raymond. Mom seems to remember something about one of the boys accidentally shooting the other, not seriously or anything, just boys being boys in the country, she said.
I'm glad that I got to know Mom's Uncle Jimmy like this. I've looked at that photo, up top, of him in his WWI uniform and wondered about him. I knew from Mom that he'd been gassed in the war and that he was different when he came back home. Now I know more about that. In some way, he's become my Uncle Jimmy too.
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/military-memories-uncle-jimmy-whetstone.html
Monday, May 19, 2014
The list of cousin connections is far too long to easily remember. Would have to go look it up. From the get-go I wanted to create a blog that the lost cousins find and value, a blog worth their effort and so much so that they are moved to email. I try hard to do my best when posting, try to get it right, hits and many misses along the way, try to go back and revise when I notice errors. Try hard to use the correct tense when posting, a thing that challenges me constantly.
There was the time a porn bot found something in one blog post about when we moved to Cleveland, but I never did figure out what it was that attracted the bot. When I clicked on the referring link, well, it wasn't PG rated! How that happened I haven't a clue. Finally just took the post down. Have heard that the highest number of search subjects is porn and after that genealogy. Maybe some industrious web master was trying to connect the two?
Then recently a major researcher and author for the Whetstone surname contacted me and shared a couple of discoveries that she'd made about the early immigrants of that line who were Palatinates. I had emailed her hoping to make a connection but it wasn't until she read some posts here on our shared Whetstones that she took time to be in touch, and I'm very grateful that she did. She's just lovely... and generous.
It always amazes me when I check the stats and see a hit on an very old post or search on a family surname. I'm reminds that even though I'm busy now with other ancestors, lost cousins are searching daily. It's the Surname Saturday posts that pulls them in. Those are golden. I've stopped the Surname Saturday posts for now because the main surnames were covered, and those are the ones that I'm focusing on in my DNA pursuits. That works for me. But I might go back because it's so much fun.
So here goes into year four! Thanks for stopping by.
The URL for this post is:
Saturday, May 17, 2014
The Thomas and Judah Farrell DNA Project: A sidetrack I had to take and a timeline for James O'Farrell
Our primary objective is, using DNA test results, establish which DNA chromosomal segments come from which of four prime families who were occupants of the area around the town of Magnolia, Morgan County, Virginia then West Virginia in the time period around 1850. The connected surnames are: Farrell, House, Hartley and Biggerstaff.
To be candid, Rich and I don't even know if this is possible. But we're trying. As we go, we take time to fill our genealogical baskets with even more records and enjoy interesting side trips filling out the picture we have of our ancestor's time and place. For example, Rich just went to the National Archive to dig up a Civil War Pension file for James Farrell/ O'Farrell. It was positively scrumptious!
I won't go into lots of detail about the pension file here because I'm seriously making an effort to stay on task (who me?) But I do want to take a moment to revisit the life of James O'Farrell, as he called himself as an adult. (See previous post about him here.) Timelines are often very helpful in getting a feeling for the arc of a subject's life. I use them, not for every ancestor, but whenever there's a lot of twists and turns in a life, when the subject and family moved and maybe disappeared, or to aid thinking and inspiration when facing a problem. So I thought to do one for James O'Farrell for a different reason. It simply looked interesting.
In it I saw that his story of time in the Civil War is the stuff of Hollywood, and not because it's extraordinary but because it was probably typical of many who served in that war. So now I'll post part of it here and I think that you'll see what I mean. Let's pick up the timeline at the point when James' father, Thomas Farrell dies. As you might remember, both Thomas and Judah Farrell were born in Ireland, had two daughters there, and immigrated to the US.
1862, JUL & AUG: company took leave
1862, SEP: back with company
1864, OCT: company records, "Nothing heard of him since."
1880: US Census, Flat Creek, Pettis County, Missouri.
See, right away I spot that we haven't found James in the 1870 US Census. He was married to Hattie in March of 1867 and they had their first child, William Clem in December of that year still in West Virginia. They had their second child, Margaret or Maggie in 1872 and they lived in Pettis County Missouri then. Arthur came along in 1874 and Elmer in 1981. So where were they in 1870? Wherever they were, they are still to be found by us.
I'm chuckling just a bit as I look at the names of James and Hattie's kids. William Clem, Margaret, Arthur, and Elmer. Whatever the inspiration for those names, it was not the father's Irish family... or Hattie's brother, Isaac Newton! Do you ever wonder about the ancestors and how they named the offspring?
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-thomas-and-judah-farrell-dna_17.html
Thursday, May 15, 2014
In the last post I wrote about our recent Biggerstaff side project and my longing for a chromosome browser built in to AncestryDNA. Now I want to turn the spotlight on a search mystery that's got Cousin Rich and me scratching our heads. The mystery has to do with the AncestryDNA search function especially as it relates to surname matching. You need to know right here that I have a very limited grasp of the mechanics behind how search apps work and that extends to the AncestryDNA search app as well. I just know what happens when I do this or that.
If you remember from the last post, Mom matches Cousin Joseph because they are both descended from Isaac Biggerstaff (1798-18440). Uncle Sonny is also a descendant of this Biggerstaff line, but not from Isaac Biggerstaff. But Uncle Sonny doesn't match Cousin Joseph. Why?
The answer could be as obvious as Mom and Cousin Joseph sharing Bigerstaff DNA that came right from Isaac Biggerstaff. The DNA shared between Mom and Uncle Sonny could actually be Farrell or House DNA. It remains to be seen and more will be known once Cousin Joseph uploads his raw file to GEDmatch so we can play around with the chromosome matcher utility.
When I found Cousin Joseph's match for Mom I emailed Cousin Rich and he went to see if Uncle Sonny or Aunt Mary also matched him. Joseph wasn't to be found amongst the regular list of matching people so Rich did a surname search on Biggerstaff. Still no Cousin Joseph.
Rich has a good sense of these things and it was Rich who first questioned if the AncestryDNA search function might have something off-kilter going on.
To double check I searched on Whetstone. Used that surname because I'd recently been in touch with a high confidence match who shared our Whetstone ancestors. When I did the surname search, whatta ya know, she didn't show up!
I have no idea why this should be. Is AncestryDNA looking at the same main match list and just searching for surname matches?
Now do you see why I really, really want AncestryDNA to tweek their search function and hopefully making it as good as the search function on the geanealogy side of the house?
Late breaking update: tried the Whetstone surname search just now and it worked! But why didn't it before? Now I'm more confused than ever.
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-thomas-and-judah-farrell-project_15.html
I Did the dna test - family finder in family tree dna match and told me that we are cousins.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Let's chat about the usefulness of a chromosome browser. What's a chromosome browser, you say? In a nutshell, it's the ability to run a search or matching app to see exactly where in their DNA two people share the same chromosomes. When we're lucky, some segments of those chromosomes come down through the generations from the shared common ancestor relatively in tact in each person's DNA. A chromosome browser will find the matching segments for you.
How important is this? I've read a genealogy blog recently (wish I could remember which one, dang it) that compared the chromosome browser to the idea of "original source" in standard genealogy. I can use a chromosome browser to find out which chromosomes exactly match Mom and Uncle Sonny's DNA.
Here's a look at the GEDmatch comparison of Mom and Uncle Sonny's matching chromosomes. Mom first tested with 23andMe and Uncle Sonny and Aunt Mary tested with AncestryDNA. In order to see exactly how and on which chromosomes they match we needed the help of a 3rd party service like GEDmatch. Here are the results for Mom and Uncle Sonny.
In order to get this report both parties must upload their raw data file to GEDmatch, and that's no trouble really, but if the other party is reluctant for no particular reason, then you're out of luck. If you have a chromosome browser built-in to the DNA service you are using, you can just go on ahead and see where you match with the other person's DNA, without the fuss.
Here's a link to Ce Ce Moore's blog where she talks about all this and Ancestry's plans to add their own chromosome browser. I can't wait... but there's no release date at of yet. And I really have a personal problem with waiting because I WANT IT NOW!
And now about our situation which is, I'm willing to bet, typical. Mom and Uncle Sonny are each descended from the oldest daughters of Thomas and Judah Farrell. You can read about them and the Farrell Project here. Mom descends from Mary Elizabeth (Farrell) House (1835-1919) and Uncle Sonny descends from her sister Catherine (Farrell) Boxwell (1838-1910). I'll show you both trees on down.
As we work through Mom's and Uncles Sonny's DNA matches we're always looking for people who match someone in this cluster of people and surnames that fan out around the Farrells. The main surnames are: Farrell, House, Hartley, and Biggerstaff.
Now the Biggerstaff surname is interesting and there's a distinct way that it's important to Mom and I. Samuel Albert House (1832-1917), the husband of Mary Elizabeth Farrell, was the illegitimate son of Isaac Biggerstaff (1798-1844). Proving this paternity is one the top items on my wish list of what I'm looking to find using DNA for genealogy. In order to accomplish that task I would have to find an undeniable DNA match to Mom who has a solid tree tracing back to an offspring of Isaac Biggerstaff through his marriage with Elizabeth Longstreath.
But there's another big problem: Samuel Albert could have also received Biggerstaff DNA from his mother. Keep reading to see how.
Now this next part is a bit sticky and complicated and I hope that the two trees below will help. Back to Uncle Sonny. The top tree for Uncle Sonny's ancestors shows the line back from James E. Boxwell, husband of Catherine Farrell. You'll notice that his mother is Dinah House, and her parents are James House and Margaret Hartley. Now look at Margaret Hartley's mother! Rebecca Biggerstaff! Which means that any of the descendants of James Boxwell and Dinah House could have Biggerstaff DNA... and in theory Uncle Sonny should too.
Now look at the this tree segment below from Mom's tree. There's Isaac Biggerstaff, presumed father of Samuel Albert House. (Are you wondering about the surname and why Samuel Albert took his mother's surname? He didn't at first and you can find him in the 1850 census listed as Samuel Biggerstaff and living in the home of his mother and step-father, Patrick Caton.)
In this tree below you'll see the biggest problem for me, and that is that Samuel Albert's father was a Biggerstaff and on his mother's side, his grandmother was a Biggerstaff. As a matter of fact, Samuel Albert's great grandmother on his mother's side was sister to his grandfather on his father's side. That's a whole big mess of Biggerstaff DNA! Is there any chance at all for me to sort it out and make a case for Isaac Biggerstaff being Samuel Albert's father using DNA?
I know, I know, I could do some Y-DNA testing with direct males descendants of SA House and Isaac Biggerstaff. I'm trying!
Here, I should mention that we've found a Biggerstaff match with Mom on AncestryDNA and he's a descendant of Isaac and Elizabeth. Nice, huh? He's Cousin Joseph and he came up with a 95% confidence rating. He's great to work with and has already shared some very useful info about local records:)
So, if Uncle Sonny has Biggerstaff DNA he should in theory show up as a match with others who have this Biggerstaff DNA. Except that Cousin Joseph matched Mom but not Uncle Sonny. Hmmm. See, I wish Ancestry had a chromosome browser because I could use it to see right away how Cousin Joseph and Mom match and on which chromosomes.
Cousin Rich and I are scratching our heads and wondering why. Why new-to-us Cousin Joseph, the direct descendant of Isaac Biggerstaff and his wife Elizabeth Longstreth, should match Mom and not Uncle Sonny. Two answers come to mind immediately. First is that Joseph and Mom both have DNA that comes down through Isaac and no one else in our Farrell group, and I'll need a chromosome browser to answer that question. The other answer is that there is a problem with AncestryDNA's matching function. Or maybe it's both. Next time I'll talk about an issue we might have uncovered with AncestryDNA's search function.
Now do you see why I really, really want AncestryDNA to get a chromosome browser? Soon.
The URL for this post is:
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Want to take a moment and send this Mother's Day greeting to my Mom. She's a very special person and a lot of people think so too. A son and daughters, nieces and nephews all think the world of her. That's her in the photo above, holding me, taken in 1947. The relationship you see in that photo is the one we still have.
Today I want to say here what I tell her often, and that's how much I appreciate her genealogy work and how generously she's shared it all with me, teaching me what she knows. It's been her life's work and now, if I'm up to it and God willing, it will be mine too. I stand on the shoulders of a giant.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-mothers-day-greeting-to-mom.html
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Dad's specialty was explosives and by association, propellants. This area was to become big during the war as science worked with military to develop new weapons. A lot of the projects he worked on were top secret and he had a pretty high security clearance, but exactly what level I'm not sure. He went on numerous trips to meetings at the Pentagon.
The NDRC in its original form lasted a year from June of 1940 to June of 1941 and then it reorganized a bit and continued until after the war in 1947. Looking at the Wikipedia page about it I'm guessing that from what I know about Dad's work he was involved with Division 8, as follows form the Wikipedia listing, below:
Following the reorganization of the NDRC in December 1942, it had the following divisions:
Division 8 (Explosives), George B. Kistiakowsky, Chief (1942–1944), Ralph A. Connor, Chief (1944–1946)
I'm posting some of the photos of that time from Mom's archive. I'd like to be able to identify some of the individuals but as yet can't except for Dad and one other man. There he is on the left with dignitaries in the photo just below.
Kistiakowsky joined the Manhattan Project in late January 1944, leaving his role as chief of the National Defense Research Committee's Explosives Division. He replaced Seth Neddermeyer as head of X (Explosives) Division and by spring 1945 had over 600 people working on solving the complicated problem of igniting the plutonium core in the atomic bomb. Under Kistiakowsky's leadership, the complex explosive lenses that would uniformly compress the plutonium sphere to achieve critical mass were developed.
All of these were taken during the war years. The photo above is marked on back "Dr. Van Evera" and in the image of the plaque below you'll see his name, last column on the right. Some pretty heavy company in the room as Dr. Van Evera witnessed history. As this web site states, Dr. Van Evera must have been a big deal too:
However, The most famous event at this 5th Washington Conference on Theoretical Physics came from the announcement by Niels Bohr at the 1939 conference, in the Hall of Government, Room 209, that the nucleus of uranium had been split by bombardment with neutrons, with significant energy released. This was the dawn of the atomic age.
So that's what Dad did during the war. Wish I knew more, but he wasn't talking about it overly much and now I can see why. It was all pretty hush-hush.
After the war ended and a couple of years passed during which Dad got good jobs at ABL for as many of the boys returning home as he could, and he got interested in plastics. He made some important contacts with the owners of a growing plastics plant outside of Cleveland. In 1952 we moved from the little Western Maryland mountain town of Frostburg to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and you can read about that here. It turned out to be a good move for us as a family and brought us that prosperity and new modern life you hear about and see in movies about the 1950s. Somehow, it all worked out.
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/military-memories-wwii-dad-stayed-home.html
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Years later and after a couple of beers on a warm summer night he might be coaxed into telling the story of how he landed at Omaha Beach on the coast of Normandy on D-Day. He always put a humorous filter on it, making fun of himself and keeping it light while he made himself the butt of the jokes. The heaviness, the pure terror of it was well hidden. Here's a recap of the story he told about D-Day. Maybe we'll never know the full truth of it.
Uncle Bernie wasn't a strong swimmer, or at least he thought as much. Growing up during the Great Depression was hard enough with the five other siblings of his parents, Helen and Lee Kelly who lived in the tidy house at 89 West main Street in Frostburg, Maryland. There was no time at all for the kids of the family to enjoy the pleasures of summer in the community pool. So Bernie knew how to swim but hadn't spent enough time in the water to be confident in his ability. And there he was on the landing boat on D-Day expected to swim to shore while loaded down with his pack and gun.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Fort Bragg, North Carolina, June 1942.
When WWII broke out the Kelly brothers, or at least two of them, went down to Cumberland from little Frostburg in Western Maryland, and enlisted. Dad knew he wouldn't pass the physical so he avoided the rush and waited to be called up. But his brothers got caught up in a patriotic fever and took themselves on down to Cumberland and signed up. Then off they went to boot camp at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, as so many other young men and women did.
The letters the boys wrote back to Dad - and Mom still has them - told a story of boys sheltered by a small town's embrace and then dropped into the harsh reality that was and still is basic training. Up early, marching in formation, and lots of discipline and structure. Let's just say that it didn't sit well, especially with Bernie who was sort of a free spirit who loved a good time.
Fort Bragg has been the home to 5400 service men in 1940 before the war. It had been one of the sites for the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression. A number of young men from the Frostburg area joined the CCC as a way to earn for their families when so many able bodied men were out of work and Mom's cousins were some of them. But the Fort Bragg population swelled to 67,000 at the start of the war and ballooned to 159,000 at the height of the war. The little southern town of Fayetteville at Fort Bragg exploded to overflowing. And at Fort Bragg there were never quite enough barracks to fit the population and water wasn't sufficient to the task especially in the evening when men needed to wash away the grime and dust of the day.
At the appropriate time when Bernie finished a phase of his basic training, Mom and Dad took the train to see him. Mom still remembers that the train ride was brutal and the train was over crowded and hot that June. Out of respect for the men in uniform all seats went to them so they could rest. Mom and Dad stood all night in the oppressive heat, holding on for dear life.
Fayetteville was full to capacity and all rooms taken. It was lucky for them that they had reservations, even if it was in an old run down boarding house. Mom still remembers that the sheets on the unmade bed hadn't been changed in quite a while, probably since way before Pearl Harbor. They slept fully clothed and on the covers. But they were lucky to have any room at all. The healing powers of time have wipes all memories of the shared bathroom they used on that trip. One can only imagine.
They saw Bernie and had great good fun, living for the moment. You can see it on Bernie's face in the photo below.
Mom also remembers that Fayetteville was a very different place than little Frostburg and a lot of it had to do with the treatment of African-Americans then. In particular, she was walking on a Fayetteville sidewalk and an older black man stepped off to let her pass. She didn't understand why he did that, and then after a moment, it sunk in. So sad that he had to do that. And he looked just like some of the older African-American men from Frostburg who walked on the sidewalks as they pleased.
I guess that in the days when the old Jim Crow laws were still in effect, the new needs of a world war was the first glance forward for many white young men. It must have been a real eye-opener. But it wasn't until 1965 that Jim Crow was stricken from the books.
The pictures below are a treasure to me, along with the numerous others in the photo file and not posted here. One can sense the urgency to capture the moment for later, in case. The faces are happy, and the sun was out that June, and that was all that mattered.
So here was Bernie, about to go on one of the greatest adventures of his life. From here he'd go to Europe and D-Day landing at Normandy, but grabbing a little fun with his girlfriend, his brother and wife before his wild ride. It was a time and place when anything was possible and the future very uncertain.
A special Thank You for this writing prompts for the month of May on the topic of Military Memories, from Jennifer Holik.
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/05/military-memories-basic-training-and.html