Researching, Preserving, and Sharing Genealogical Information For Future Generations
Author: Carrie Brown
Carrie Brown is a genetic genealogist, hobby blogger, and long-time history enthusiast with a passion for genealogical research. Currently she is working on her degree in business from Western Governors University. Carrie is a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy and volunteers her time as a research volunteer for SearchAngels.org
is easy to see commercials for one of the major genealogy sites and assume that
joining a subscription site is the only way to find the information available.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
paid subscription sites can make navigating research easier, there are
countless resources for free genealogy research. Some of the best information
can be found on free sites it is just a matter of doing the legwork to locate
Using DNA with genealogy can be both a powerful and an intimidating prospect. When I first did my testing, I looked at my results and felt very overwhelmed. You get this list of tens of thousands of matches and it’s hard to fathom how to even approach organizing them or if you even want to bother. I thought it might be helpful for others if I shared some of the things I found useful in my journey into genetic genealogy.
I did my testing on ancestry. Ancestry has the biggest database of people who have taken the DNA test. Ancestry also has some serious limitations to their DNA side of the site. The estimated relationships on ancestry are very vague compared to other sites. They also lack a chromosome browser using instead what can be misleading “shared matches” only.
Despite the limitations of ancestry’s DNA tools, there is a lot of great information that can be pulled from ancestry. To get the most out of the matches on ancestry without going through each tree all at once I use a Leed’s Spreadsheet. I create a list of all matches down to about 50 cm’s. For simplicity, I start at the first match that is below 500cm’s. I start with the first match and color all the shared matches with that match the same color. I then move onto the next match that I didn’t assign to the first group, choose a new color, and mark all the shared matches creating a second group. I go on to the next match not in groups 1 or 2 and create group 3. I continue until I have created groups of all my matches. This will usually sort the matches out into several family lines.
Smaller groups are much easier to compare to see who the shared family lines are between the various matches.
Here is a helpful and more in-depth guide to using the Leeds Method.
It didn’t take me long to get frustrated with the limitations of ancestry’s DNA site. I started looking for more ways to get the most out of my information. Enter DNA Painter.
DNA Painter is a site with most of the features free. DNA painter has several tools that are amazing for helping process DNA data. I’ll start with the “What are the Odds?” tool. This tool allows you to take matches from ancestry and input the shared cm’s creating a basic tree for how you think a match connects. This allows you to test a hypothesis and tell you if you are on the right track. It is very useful for ruling out wrong relationships and narrowing down possible connections.
Another tool on DNA painter is the “Shared CM Tool.” This tool can take vague relationships of ancestry and refine them into more detailed explanations. It provides an odds breakdown of each of the possible relationships. This can be useful for trying to determine where to put shared matches on the “What are the Odds?” tree.
The last tool that I find useful on DNA Painter is useless with ancestry due to the lack of a chromosome browser but there is a work around to obtain your chromosome information if you do testing on ancestry. This last tool is the ability to create a genetic profile. Using a site that gives you the shared chromosomes of DNA matches DNA painter gives you the ability to “paint” your matches. This tool is powerful for grouping up matches based on actual shared genetics.
To obtain chromosome information using ancestry test results I recommend downloading your raw DNA data from ancestry and uploading it to Gedmatch Genesis.
This site is free but there is a pay option for some of the more technical tools.
This blog by the DNA Geek will help you transfer your data from ancestry to Gedmatch Genesis.
That was the thought on my mind when I originally set out to research my great great great grandfather Daniel E Adams. All the information I found on his life indicated he was a larger than life type of man and his story screamed to be shared.
As I was researching Daniel E Adams for my blog about him, a distant cousin contacted me. This cousin, Frank Poss III, had in his possession several old family photos of shared relations.
This brings me to my Adams family update. I received copies of photos that previously I had never seen.
Photography was a popular profession not just among the Adams family but also among the Hamilton family. Siblings, Daniel and Emma Adams, married siblings, Daniel and Rachel Hamilton. Daniel and Emma Adams Hamilton would spend a lifetime operating Hamilton photo studios and many of their photographs are still in existence. Several of these photos bear the mark of Hamilton studios.
This photograph is of the five Adams brothers. I suspect it was taken sometime after the end of the Civil War, perhaps as late as when their father, Erwin Adams, died in Lapeer County, Michigan. The fifth brother, Plumer Adams, is not labeled in the photo.
The Family Matriarch
This photo is of Charlotte Murray Adams, the mother of the Adams brothers. She died in 1890 and was buried in Mt Hope Cemetery in Lapeer County, Michigan next to her husband.
I will be adding further updates to this line as I continue researching the Adams family and trying to track them as they moved from Connecticut, to Vermont, onto Canada, out west to Iowa, split into separate fractions with some going west to establish Utah while others eventually settled for generations in Michigan. Stay tuned.
It seems that after over sixty-fives years of war the Korean War may finally be ending. Many of our combat veterans from the era of active fighting on the Korean peninsula have already passed away. My Grandfather was a Korea combat veteran. He died before they actually achieved peace.
At this momentous time in world history, it seems an appropriate moment to remember one of the Korean War dead from my own family tree.
My maternal grandfather’s family was from an isolated community in the mountains of West Virginia. Coal mining was the predominate form of employment of the region and many of his immediate family, including his father and older brothers, worked in the mines. Military service was the most common way young men avoided going into the mines. Statistically a man had greater odds of getting hurt in the coalmines than he did in the military even during World War II.
My Grandfather’s first cousin, Andrew Calvin Shuck, joined the military. He enlisted in the Army on 8 July 1948. He was twenty years old.
Andrew C. Shuck was born 12 Jan 1928 in Lawton, West Virginia. He was the son of Landon Lawson Shuck and Pina Propps. He was unmarried. Andrew C. Shuck was assigned to Company F, 5th Calvary Regiment, 1st Calvary Division. When combat broke out on the Korean Peninsula, his unit was one of the early ones to see action.
Andrew C. Shuck was also one of the first combat casualties of the Korea War. He was killed 25 July 1950. He recieved the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Korean Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
It took over a year before Andrew C. Shuck was laid to rest in his home state of West Virginia. By the time they held his memorial in the At the End of the Trail Cemetery several of Andrew’s relatives had already signed up to go to Korea. My grandfather, his brothers, and cousins all flocked to sign up for duty.
The Korean Armistice was signed on 27 July 1953 effectively ending active hostilities between North and South Korea in a stalemate. My Grandfather died in 2011 without even seeing an end to the conflict that resulted in his cousin’s death. I hope that in 2018, with the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration, peace can finally come between the two Korean nations.
By the numbers:
Active War: 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953 (3 years, 1 month, and 2 days)
A common tradition in many areas is to mark the death of a person with small memorial cards that contained important details about the deceased and the service to mark their passing. Often there will be a comforting bible verse or poem in the card.
This is the memorial card for Fannie B. (Bennett) Meadows. My great grandmother kept the memorial card from her mother’s funeral tucked away in an old family bible until I found it after her death in 1999.
Tucked inside the memorial card she also kept the obituary that was published in the Flint Journal at the time of Fannie’s death.
Inevitably, anyone who studies genealogy will find themselves feeling like they need to be a jack of all trades in all things historical. Photographic history, military history, immigration history, clothing history, even transportation history at some point in time will come into play when doing research. Our ancestors were just one small cog in the world they lived in. Understanding the time they lived in helps drive effective research by knowing where to look and what records may exist.
Photographs are often one of the greater genealogical mysteries researchers face. For me they can be my greatest challenge and my greatest joy. I love seeing faces from generations ago and spotting resemblances to modern relations. Often times it seems the identity of the subject in the photographs have been lost to the sands of time. We are left trying to ponder and decipher clues that may help us eventually identify the faces with the names and times that belong to them.
A relative of mine has the originals of several photos which even years later manage to frustrate me. I can loosely speculate the origins of the photos but a definite identification may be lost.
These photos may never be identified. They are from an album that belonged to my great grandparents, Moman Harold Fulkerson and Lillie Mae Weatherspoon. Many of the photographs predate their marriage and some of them are of the family of his first wife. I would estimate most of the photos to be from around 1920 to 1940. These three photographs have stumped me. I suspect they are either members of the Fulkerson family from the Owensboro, Kentucky area or the Sublett family from the same region.
Close ups of two photos. The one on the left is a known photograph of Moman Harold Fulkerson at age 39. The one on the right has similar head shape and ears. What do you think?
Close up photos of the dark haired lady. They both have similar builds and would likely be of the same age. What do you think? For today this is a mystery that remains unsolved.
It is Friday so it is time for the next family recipe. This week I decided to put a twist on the regular family recipe and show how recently my family managed to adapt a family favorite into a low carb version that is still delicious and satisfying. If you notice one constant with all my recipes over the last couple of weeks it is none of them have any sort of nutritional information. No calorie counts and not a single suggestion of how adding it to your menu might affect your long-term waistline…and that is how the people in my household got put on a diet.
Like most families, mine loves pizza. I would be hard pressed to name a single year of my life where pizza did not appear on the menu on a regular basis in all my nearly 4 decades. Pizzas delivered, carryout, home baked pizza, and even campfire pizza cooked under a blanket of stars in the Rocky Mountains. Stuffed crust, dessert style, or ordered with toppings by the pound in a popular little restaurant in Idaho Springs, Colorado. It seems there are no end of warm fuzzy memories in my life that involve pizza.
All those delicious pizzas….and many other treats…have led to a few extra pounds. So here is family recipe Friday…with a twist. Crust less low carb pizza and its traditional counterpart pepperoni pizza.
Most typical American families love pizza. We learned to make a quick and easy version at home years ago. It is not pizza hut but it’s an affordable substitute. The only problem with most traditional pizzas is the carb content is through the room and carbs add up quick on the waist line. The crust we typically grab is 32g of carbs in crust alone and that is only ¼ of a 12” pizza. If you cut the pizza into 8 small pieces you can have 2. Yikes!
Currently my family is on a low carb diet so we located a recipe we hoped would be a suitable replacement for that crazy high carb crust. We were skeptical but this won us over before the first bite. It smelled amazing while cooking.
Like many of the recipes I find myself using the details were a little vague on this one. Here is how I made mine. Also we only got 6 pieces out of ours.
For the Low Carb Pizza “Crust”
8 oz cream cheese
¼-cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425.
Grease a 9 X 13 glass casserole dish. Add all crust ingredients to a mixing bowl and blend well. I used an electric hand mixer to get it mixed up well. Pour into greased dish and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. The crust should start to pull away from the edges of the dish when done.
Let crust cool for about 10 minutes. After it has cooled top with favorite toppings and return to oven for 10 minutes until cheese melts.
For the traditional pizza prepare following the directions on the package. Top and bake. I doubt we will have the traditional version around my house much anymore in the future.
It is Friday so as promised I am doing another family recipe for family recipe Friday. So far, in my series I have done a simple sauce recipe that my paternal grandmother, Loree, used on meat. I have also done a family favorite casserole that my maternal grandmother, Sally, made often while I was growing up. Today my own grandchildren will be here to visit for the night so I dug deep into the old wooden recipe box that belonged to my great grandmother, Lillie Mae, and found a favorite recipe of my own…Peanut Butter Cookies.
I do not have many memories of my Great Grandmother in the kitchen growing up. She was an insulin dependent diabetic and living alone from the time I was only a toddler so most of her meals were delivered by meals on wheels. Baking for the residents at a local nursing home was one exception to that. Every holiday season she and some of her church friends would bake dozens of cookies, and loaf after loaf of various breads all wrapped in neat little packages and left on her back porch until it was time to go visit the lonely people at the “home.”
This is a basic cookie recipe and I find it to be one of the most forgiving. I typically always have the ingredients needed on hand and we whip up several dozen of these a year. The fact that they have peanut butter makes me feel better about giving them to the kids. Peanut butter cookies are almost a health food right?
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. The recipe calls for
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Crisco (I’m using margarine because I have extra on hand)
1 cup peanut butter
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
The directions indicate to “Put in small balls and pat down with fork”
They also indicate that “grease cookie tin the first time only and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool before taking them off the cookie sheet. Makes about 5 dozen.”