Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best Posts of 2013

2013 was a busy year for me, though not for blogging. I finished library school in May and I've been working part time at the library trying to get my foot in the door, in addition to working my full time job at the University. I've also been working on my house in my spare time until I finally got smart and hired contractors to finish the work (this was my Christmas present to myself).

Unfortunately I only managed to get 20 posts written this year here on my blog. However, I do believe that sometimes quality is better than quantity and I think this has shown to be true this year.

My most popular post of 2013 with a page count of 1,423 was Downloading Someone Else's Online Tree and then Uploading it as My Own. It was one of my first posts written in 2013. This post was written in collaboration with Russ Worthington's Cousin Collaboration post. Both posts share our attempts at using Family Tree Maker and our Ancestry.com online family trees to collaborate with family on our research efforts.

Another popular post was It Must Be in the Genes. This post was written in response to a DNA match I had which may have derived from a common WATSON ancestor. In a bit of genealogy serendipity, while I was researching my WATSON ancestors, I came across the will of Joseph JEANS who was the father of Nancy JEANS who married into my WATSON family. I included an image of the will, my transcription and the source citation; as well as the list of information I learned from the will and what my future research might entail.

My blogging year wouldn't be complete without a post about the North Carolina State Archives. This post about Identifying Land Grants using the NC State Archives' online MARS Catalog was especially memorable to me because it earned my blog a mention by the staff of the Archives in their blog History for All the People. It is an extensive "how to" for locating land records using the online catalog. The land records differ from deeds because they are usually the beginning of the paper trail for tracts of land. Land grants were issues by the State to the buyer up until a certain time after which land changed hands via deeds.

I hope you have enjoyed following my quality posts this year. What were your favorite posts?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Joseph Hill - Newberry Co., South Carolina

Headstone of Joseph Hill in Lower Duncan Creek Cemetery in Whitmore, Newberry Co., SC. [1]


Lies the Body of
Husband of Ruth Hill
who died 
Oct 5th 1839
in the 68th year
of his age.

According to his headstone, Joseph Hill would have been born about 1771. He was my 5th great-grandfather. He was married to Ruth Fowler, daughter of Richard and Ruth Fowler. Ruth is also buried in this cemetery. 

  • His son Elijah Hill [2] married Rachel Watson, daughter of Nancy Jeans and John Watson
  • Their son Joseph Watson Hill married Josephine F Cox [3], daughter of Robert Cox and Basheba McCoy [4].
  • Their son Nathaniel "Gus" Hill [5] married Jessie Inez Barton, daughter of James Silas Barton and Sarah Alice Tinsley. 
  • Their daughter Blanche Kathryne Hill was my great-grandmother. She married John Brooks Binns, son of John Milton Binns and Perthinia Eula Brooks. I was fortunate to have grown up with most of my great-grandparents. 
  • Their daughter Barbara Binns is my grandmother. She has taken the Family Finder autosomal DNA test. 


   [1] Photograph taken by Donna Brummett and added to Joseph Hill's Find-A-Grave memorial on 4 December 2008. Photo used with permission by owner. 
   [2] Newberry County, South Carolina, Wills Book, 1825-1840, Vol N, p. 170-171, Joseph Hill, 9 October 1939 (probated); Office of Probate Judge, Newberry; digital images, "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes 1671-1977," FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 3 December 2013).  Mentioned as Elijah Hill in his father Joseph Hill's will (w. 30 Sept 1839, Newberry District, SC); and also named as Executor and granted letters testamentary.
   [3] Sharon J Doliante, Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Volume I (1991; reprint, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1998), p. 560, Odell Family; digial images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48206 : downloaded 26 November 2013).
   [4] Greenville County, South Carolina, Wills Book, 1840-1852, Vol. C, p. 429-430, Bersheba Cox, 15 July 1852 (proved);  digital images, "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes 1671-1977," FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 28 July 2011).
   [5] I have not found the will of Gus' father, John Watson Hill. I do intend to order the death certificate of Gus Hill, though, which should have the name of his parents listed. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

It must be in the Genes!

In my last post I mentioned the importance of building out your tree with the hopes of finding a set of ancestors in common with your DNA matches. This has been working especially well for me, not to mention it has gotten me “back in the saddle again.” One of the recent matches to my grandmother has a set of WATSON ancestors from South Carolina. It is a long shot, but there is a remote possibility that his WATSONS were connected to my WATSONS of Laurens County, South Carolina. All I know is that his ancestor was Leroy WATSON. Leroy WATSON was born 1795 in South Carolina and he died 1872 in Jonesville, Florida. His descendants lived in Georgia and Florida.

My oldest known WATSON was John WATSON who was born 1788 in South Carolina. He married Nancy JEANS and their daughter Rachel WATSON married Elijah HILL prior to moving to Arkansas. 

Most of this information I got from the online trees posted to Rootsweb.com, now Ancestry.com, back in 2005. These trees were created from GEDCOMS that individuals made from their genealogy software and uploaded to the site. I went back and reviewed the notes and sources attached to these trees and found the JEANS family mentioned in a book Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Volume I, by Sharon Doliante, on pages 560-561. 

Here are the digital images of pages 561-561 that mention the JEANS, WATSON, and HILL families: 

 Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Volume I 
by Sharon Doliante, p. 560; digital images downloaded from Ancestry.com, 26 November 2013

Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Volume I 
by Sharon Doliante, p. 561; digital images downloaded from Ancestry.com, 26 November 2013

Here is some transcription from pages 560-561: 
viii. Martha Odell, mentioned in Distn. of Estate papers of her deceased father in 1779 as "Martha Jeans." Her husband was Joseph "Joe" Jeans. (This surname sometimes given as Janes/Jones, but Jeans or Jeanes was apparently the correct spelling. He d. testate bet. dates of July 21, 1826 & Sept 7, 1826 (dates of the writing & proving of his will), but the Laurens Co., will is listed as that of "Joseph Jones." Issue:
i. Joseph Jeans
ii. John Jeans
iii. daughter Jeans, m. _____ Duncan. Issue:
    A. Leander Duncan
iv. Ann "Nancy" Jeans, m. John Watson, Issue:
  A. Thomas Watson
  B. Rachel Watson, m. Elijah Hill. Issue:
    (A) Thomas Hill, m. Jane Edward of Ashley Co., AR
    (B) Joseph W Hill, m. Miss J. F. Cox of Greenville Dist., SC, dau of Robert Cox. He seems to have been the compiler of the "Hill Notes," c1885, presently owned by Mr. Otis Duncan, of SC. These are a compilation of genealogical notes on misc. upper SC families.
    (C) Martha E Hill
    (D) John L Hill
    (E) Elliot E Hill, m. ____ Scott of Hardeman Co., Tenn
    (F). Levi Hill
    (G) Nathan E Hill
  C. Joseph Watson m. Betsy Ferguson
  D. Harrison Watson
  E. John Watson, Jr
  F. Elisha Watson, m. Martha Jeans
  G. Milton Watson
  H. Martha Watson

This book has a LOT of in-text references to deed books, will books, estate and court records. However, there are no footnotes or a list of sources at the end of the book. There is enough source information given, though, for the reader to locate primary records to support the information provided.

For example, the four names of the children of Martha Odell and Joseph Jeans were pulled by the author directly from the will of Joseph Jeans. Although she did not include a transcription of the will itself, it wasn’t too hard to find. In the transcription above, the author mentioned his name – Joseph “Jones,” the dates his will was written and probated in 1826, and the county – Laurens. I logged in to the FamilySearch.org site, clicked on the Search link, then clicked on the United States browsable collections link, then clicked on the South Carolina link.

There are two sets of probate record collections for South Carolina that are browsable on the FamilySearch.org website. There are the bound volumes and the loose papers. I found the will of Joseph “Jones” in the bound volume collection in the “Estate Records, 1826-1834, Volume F” bound volume.

Here is a digital image of the microfilmed copy of the will as it appears in the Bound Estate Record Volume F, page 43:

Laurens Co., SC, Estate Records, 1826-1834, Volume F: 43, Joseph Jones, 7 September 1826 (probated); digital image, "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes 1671-1977," downloaded from FamilySearch.org 26 November 2013).

In the name of God Amen
I Josheph Jones of Laurens District and State of South Carolina being of sound and disposing [?] mind and memory but weakd in body and caulling to mind the unsertenty of life and being Desirous to dispose of all such worley Estate as it saith pleaseth God to bless me with do make and ordain this my last will and manner following that is to say ---
I give to Nancy and John Watson one Negro woman named Renae to them and thare assigns for ever and my said Negro Max James to make his choyce of my children who the said James will serve and to be appraised and assised to them their heirs and assigns for ever.
To my son Joseph Jones, I give my Negro woman Molly and her increase to him his heirs and assigns for ever and my waggon and hind geer to my son Joseph and my crop on hand who I give to my son Joseph.
I give to my grandson Leander Dunkin my Plantation to be sold and the money to be put to in trust untill Leander Dunken shall come to lawfull age to receive thanse.
I give to my son John Jones one Dollar the ballance of my Property to be sold and pay for just debts and funderal espenses to be paid and the ballance to be equally divided between the rest of my children and if the said Leander Duncan shall die without heirs, the sale of my land to be equally paid between John Watson Children ---

And lastly I do constitute and appoint my said son Joseph Jones and John Watson executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking other and former testaments by me hioeafter made for testimoney whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 21 day of July 1826 and in the fifty first year of the Independence of the United states of America.
Signed, Sealed, published and declared As my Last Will and Testament of the above Names Joseph Jones in the presence of Us:
Benj. Duckett Esq
William Duckett
George Smith

Signed Joseph X (his mark) Jones

Joseph Jones' will was proved in the Laurens County Court of Ordinary on September 1st, 1826 by Benjamin Duckett, one of the subscribing witnesses. Joseph Jones and John Watson were also qualified as executors of the estate.

Here are some of the things I learned from the will of Joseph Jones:

  • He wrote his will 21 July 1826 and it was proved 1 September 1826, therefore he died between these two dates
  • He asked that money be set aside for funeral expenses, therefore I believe he had a funeral, probably at a church and was buried in a church cemetery (versus being buried on the family farm)
  • His wife Martha Jeans was not mentioned, therefore she had probably died prior to him writing his will
  • Joseph had two known sons named Joseph and John and a daughter named Nancy who married John Watson
  • Joseph had another daughter who had married a Duncan and had a child named Leander Duncan; this daughter was probably deceased and could not receive her share which was then passed on to her son Leander
  • Joseph's grandson Leander Duncan was still a minor and could not inherit his share until he came of age
Although I did not answer the direct question of whether or not my grandmother's match's ancestor, Leroy Watson is related to my Watson line, I was able to go back one more generation in my tree with the discovery of the Joseph Jones/Jeans will and family and added two additional surnames - JEANS and ODELL! Even though I found this family information originally in a book whose digital images were uploaded to Ancestry.com, I did not assume this information was correct. Instead I obtained additional evidence supporting the information published in the book and made my own conclusions about the information provided within. 

Future Research: 

For the next step in this process, I will look for the will of my ancestor John Watson. This has been on my "To-Do" list for quite a while now anyways. With the digital images being uploaded to FamilySearch.org all the time now, I am able to find these documents faster and cheaper. 

Because my match's ancestor was born in 1795, he would more likely have been a brother of my ancestor John Watson who was born probably in the 1780s-1790s. In this case, I would need to look for men living in the Laurens County district around this time who might have been picked up by the 1790 census, just got married and started having children. I would then have to comb the wills of all of the Watson men to see if I could find one who had a son named John and/or Leroy. But first I would need more information on this Leroy Watson - where did he live and when? What county in SC was he from? When did he move to FL and GA? Who went with him? As you can see though, I'm learning just as much stuff about my own family as I am about his! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Get Into the Cycle

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to, you can blame it on FamilyTreeDNA and their darn Family Finder test. Chasing after all the matches of my of two 6th cousins, three grandparents, two parents, and one friend is almost as bad as chasing down those little green leafs in my Ancestry.com tree. If I’ve learned anything at all from this experience, (1) it is VERY time consuming and (2) YOU HAVE TO BUILD YOUR TREES! The latter has brought me the most success. I know it may seem counterproductive since the whole point of taking a DNA test is to help you with your genealogy…but once you get into it, it eventually begins to make sense.

You might even see a cycle form:

Here are some tips to help get you started. 
  1. Go back through your notes to see if you missed anything
  2. Talk to old contacts to see if they’ve found anything new
  3. Take advantage of the online trees that are posted with your match’s profile
  4. If you and your match’s ancestors with a common surname lived in the same place at the same time, chances are, they were connected
  5. Don’t just build your tree – build theirs too and look for an intersection between your family lines

You can download your match’s online tree from your ftDNA match page by following these easy directions: 
  1. Click the little green pedigree icon beside your match’s name 
  2. When the new page opens, right click then select to “view page source”
  3. Click Ctrl + A then Ctrl + C to copy the entire page
  4. Go to James Kelly’s website and paste the source code into the box and click the submit button
A GEDCOM will download. You can then import the GEDCOM into your genealogy software. I usually create a new file in my Family Tree Maker software then use Ancestry.com to build it out. 

Check out my latest post about finding a new Nix cousin through DNA testing and genealogical research – DNA Testing – My Closest Match Yet

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Barney Benson & Eva Dennis

Dbl Headstone of Barney & Eva Benson at Duncan Municipal Cemetery in
Duncan, OK, taken by Audrey Calger, FAG contributer, 22 November 2013. 

Barney Benson and Eva Mae Dennis

They were my 2nd great-grandparents on my Mother's side. Eva Mae Dennis was born December 24th, 1889 in Paris, Texas to Reuben Dennis and Lucenda Gentry. Barney Benson was born February 19th, 1884 in Fort Smith, Arkansas to T. J. Benson and Lulu Bulllington. They met in Garrett's Bluff, Texas and married at the home of Barney's sister May Benson and brother-in-law Bert Wheeler in Boynton, Oklahoma in 1911. 

Eva and Barney lived mostly in Oklahoma where they raised 8 children, including my great-grandmother, Louise Benson. Barney worked in the oil fields and Eva stayed at home and raised the children. Unfortunately, their time together was cut short when Barney died suddenly from a heart attack while visiting with family in California in 1952. His remains were returned to Oklahoma and his wife Eva was buried beside him when she died 30 years later in 1983. 

Headstone of Barney S Benson at Duncan Municipal Cemetery in
Duncan, OK, taken by Audrey Calger, FAG contributer, 22 November 2013.

Headstone of Eva M Benson at Duncan Municipal Cemetery in
Duncan, OK, taken by Audrey Calger, FAG contributer, 22 November 2013.
Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. The marriage License of Barney Benson's parents - TJ Benson and Lulu Bullington of Washington County, Mississippi
  2. Headstone photo of TJ Benson and Lulu Bullington of Lamar County, Texas
  3. Letter from Eva Benson
  4. What's in a Name? - post about what really is TJ Benson's name

Friday, November 8, 2013

DNA Testing - My Closest Match Yet

My grandfather got a “close match” recently, falling between 2nd and 4th cousins on FamilyTreeDNA. Out of all eight kits that I manage, this is the first time I have seen a “close match.” I didn’t pay it much attention at first because the surnames he had listed were Davis, House, and Nix which I’ve found are common in just about every single one of my grandfather’s matches. But I kept it in my radar because his match also listed Missouri in his location list.

A couple of months went by and then I received an email from this match’s wife. She was proposing a possible connection based on some documentation she also sent to me. Her husband’s ancestor was Winnie Frances NIX Crafton. She wanted to know if it was possible that Winnie was the daughter of John NIX of Marshall County, Tennessee, and if so, did my Nix ancestor also happen to descend from the same John Nix.

The John NIX she referred to was enumerated on the 1870 Obion County, Tennessee Census Report.[1] According to the census report, John was 45 years old, placing his date of birth around 1825. Although relationships are not indicated on the 1870 census, it is implied that the next person in the list, Elizabeth Nix, is his wife. She was ten years younger, born about 1835 in TN. There were ten additional people listed in the household, including my ancestor, Dora G NIX, 6 years old, born approximately 1864 in TN. Also living in the household was a Winnie F NIX. According to the people who transcribed this census report, her name looked more like Minnie and was indexed as such. Someone made a correction to her name, though, and changed it to Winnie F NIX. Winnie F Nix was 13 years old, born about 1857 in TN.

1870 Obion Co., TN Census Report for John Nix

Here is an abstract of the above census report -

1870 Obion Co., District 3, TN census report:
21 July 1870 225/225
John Nix, 45 yo (b. abt 1825), TN
Elizabeth Nix, 35 yo (b. abt 1835), TN
Milton M Nix, 16 yo (b. abt 1854),  TN
Mary S Nix, 15 yo (b. abt 1855),  TN
Winnie F Nix, 13 yo (b. abt 1857),  TN [Indexed as Minnie] ← My match’s ancestor
John Robert Nix, 12 yo (b. abt 1858) TN
Minerva P Nix, 9 yo (b. abt 1861),  TN
Sarah I Nix, 8 yo (b. abt 1862), TN
Dora G Nix 6 yo (b. abt 1864),  TN ← My Ancestor
Tennessee F Nix 3 yo (b. abt 1867),  TN
Zilpha L Nix, 2 yo (b. abt 1868),  TN
Acy N Nix, 7 mo (b. abt 1870),  TN
NARA Film M593, Roll 1552, Page 91 (penned)

In 1860, John and Elizabeth NIX were living in Marshall County, Tennessee, which is located in the middle of the State of Tennessee. Evidently they moved “West” between 1860 and 1870 as Obion County, where they were enumerated on the 1870 census, is in the North Western part of the State. There are about 225 miles between Marshall and Obion Counties today.

According to the 1860 census [2], John NIX was 36 years old, born about 1824 in Tennessee. “Winnie” NIX was 3 years old, born about 1857 in Tennessee. My ancestor, Dora NIX, was not yet born. Monroe, Mary, John and Minerva were also living in the household along with his presumed wife, Elizabeth NIX. They were still living in the house on the 1870 Obion County, Tennessee census as well, so I’m certain these two families are one and the same.

1860 Marshall Co., TN Census Report for John Nix

Now you might be wondering how we were so sure that this was the right family for our Winnie and Dora Nix. Good. Because I did just that too. If you question your own work, that means others will question it too. And if that happens, then that just means you haven’t built a solid enough case to prove your point. And we don’t ever want that to happen, now do we? The key to conducting good research is to follow all leads. In this case, that means looking at the other family members.

My ancestor Dora Nix married to William or James Davis about 1882. To date I have not found any documentation of this marriage which probably took place in either TN or AR. The date of 1882 is estimated from the birth of their first known child, Lou Ella Davis. She was born either 1882 or 1884 in Hardy, Sharp County, Arkansas. Her date of birth is unclear because her death certificate says she was born in 1882 [3] and her headstone says she was born in 1884 [4]. But that’s a story for another day. Also, it is unclear what the name of Dora’s husband was because the death certificates of her two daughters had two different names listed - one said Bill Davis [5] and the other said James Davis [6]. I will eventually need to come back to this conflicting information and resolve it. But for now, let’s move on.

On February 12th, 1890, Dora remarried to William Carpenter in Sharp Co., Arkansas [7], with whom she had four more children, and they were enumerated together on the 1900 Sharp Co., Arkansas Census Report [8].

William Carpenter had also been previously married to a woman named Catherine Warren. Their daughter Ellenora Carpenter married Dora and Winnie Nix's brother John Robert Nix about 1880. They had six children before Ella Nora died in 1898. She was buried in the Old Baptist Cemetery in Ash Flat, Sharp Co., Arkansas along with her father William Carpenter, husband John Nix, and several children [9].

Did you catch the fact that Dora Nix's brother John married to Dora's step-daughter? Sigh. Well yeah, that's how things were done back then I guess.

Back to the DNA....

I gave you the story about Dora and John Robert who both moved from Tennessee to Arkansas, but what ever happened to their sister Winnie Frances Nix? Well we know that she got married and had children because one of her descendants came back as a DNA match to my grandfather. It just so happens that Winnie married to William Robert Crafton in 1871 [10]. They had six children together, all born in Tennessee. In fact my grandfather's match's family remained in Tennessee while my family remained in Arkansas. There is no indication that the families knew one another.

Before I learned about my grandfather's match, I had no information about his ancestor, Winnie Nix. After corresponding with his wife, however, I was able to fill in a good chunk of information about her and her family, thus expanding my tree out even further. This is the fun part about corresponding with your matches. I also learned that my grandfather and his match are third cousins once removed. This means they share the same set of 2nd great-grandparents. However, because they are "once removed," my grandfather's match has one more generation between them; therefore John and Elizabeth Nix are his 3rd great-grandparents. I have included their relationship report below:

Relationship Report between my Grandfather and his match

Family Tree DNA predicted they were 2nd to 3rd cousins, so an actual relationship of 3rd cousins, once removed falls right into line with that prediction. They share a total of 126 cM of DNA between them with the longest segment of 29.39 cM being on Chromosome 1.

I hope this blog post will help to encourage you to work with your matches and to keep digging for those common ancestors. More and more testees are being added to each of the three testing companies' databases each month. I know it is overwhelming at times, but finding a connection such as the one outlined in this post can be very rewarding!

I'd love to hear your success stories. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me.

[1] 1870 US Federal Census, Obion County, Tennessee, population schedule, District 3, Troy and Union City, Page 91 (penned), dwelling 225, family 225, John Nix; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded 24 September 2013); NARA Film M593, Roll 1546.
[2] 1860 US Federal Census, Marshall County, Tennessee, population schedule, District 12, Page 11 (penned), 105 (stamped), dwelling 92, family 75, John Nix; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded 4 November 2013); NARA Film M653, Roll 1265, FHL Film 805265.
[3] Oklahoma State Department of Health, Death Certificate No. 10879, Ella Otten, 1 August 1947; Vital Records Service, Oklahoma City.
[4] Lou Ella Otten grave marker, Fairview Cemetery, Shawnee, Oklahoma, Photographed by Ginger Smith, researcher, November 2007.
[5] Death Certificate of Ella Otten, 1947.
[6] Los Angeles County, California, death certificate (22 March 1955), Oceola Clark; County of Los Angeles, Registrar-Recorder / County Clerk, Norwalk. (See her post here)
[7] Michael L Peters, grandnephew of Lou Ella Davis.
[8] 1900 US Federal Census, Sharp County, Arkansas, population schedule, Highland Township, enumeration district (ED) 119, page 44, William Carpenter; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 08 November 2013 ); NARA Film T623, Roll 77.
[9] Old Baptist Cemetery, Ash Flat, Sharp Co., AR. Visited by author, May 2009. Also, see Find-A-Grave Memorial No. 21767505.
[10] 1910 US Federal Census, Houston County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 4, enumeration district (ED) 71, dwelling 112, family 112, William R Crafton; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 October 2013); NARA Film T624, Roll 1565, FHL Film 1375578; William Crafton was listed as having been married 39 years which in 1910 would have put their date of marriage around 1871.

Friday, September 13, 2013

How to get your 23AndMe Matches to Share Genomes

Photo courtesy of DragonArtz.net

I read somewhere that you are only allowed to send 3 introduction messages to each match on 23AndMe. I am not sure if this is true or not. I could not find it in the 23AndMe Help Files. Regardless of whether it is true or not, I still try to do two things up front:

  1. Get your matches to share genomes!
  2. Get your matches to share their personal email address with you for further correspondence

One of the biggest complaints customers have about their 23AndMe experience is that usually over half of their 1000+ matches do not respond. There could be tons of reasons for this:

  • They only took the test to learn about their own personal health risk factors
  • They don't understand what all this "genome sharing" is all about
  • They worry about privacy and wonder if "genome sharing" would be violating this
  • They are overwhelmed by the number of requests they are receiving in their inbox from matches
  • They simply don't have the time to work with their matches or to respond to the emails and requests

Keeping all of these factors in mind, I have composed an email that you can send to your matches that addresses most of these issues and might increase your chance of receiving a response and get them to share their genomes with you. It lets them know that their data will remain private, you will do all the work, they don't have to do anything if they don't want to; and it reminds them that you are probably cousins and that your #1 goal is to find a connection and build out your family tree.

You can include this email text in your “introduction” message. Make sure you request to share genomes in your first introduction message.

Dear {enter match name here}

23AndMe has indicated that we are an autosomal DNA match to each other, and therefore cousins of some nature.  If you would accept my request to share genomes, we can see how we are related through our DNA.  You don’t have to do anything after you have accepted the genome share request if you do not want. I am able to validate my match to you, and therefore determine kinship, by triangulating with other known matches

None of your data is made public or shared with anyone by me without your explicit permission.

I hope you will agree to sharing your genomes and working with me on finding a common ancestor between us. I have enclosed my personal email address for your convenience.

I look forward to hearing from you!

{Enter your Name here}

{Enter your email address here}

Good luck!

How do you get your matches to respond? Do you send a customized email to your matches or do you just send the standard email message that 23andMe has composed for you?

Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Using 3rd Party Tools to work with my Family Finder DNA Results

DNAGedcom Welcome Page

In order to determine if 3 people have a common ancestor, you need to have the following two requirements:

1. All 3 of them must match each other on the same part of the same chromosome
2. All 3 of them must be in common with each other

I often cannot get my In Common Filter to work on the ftDNA site using the procedure I outlined in my last post. So I switched to using a 3rd party tool designed by Rob Warthen called DNAGEDcom.

In order to use this tool, you must first have all of your match's relationship status assigned. You do so by clicking on the orange "assign" button next to everyone's names.

I assign everyone as “distant cousin.”

In order to determine if everyone is set to a relationship status, I log into my account, change the filter to “Show All Matches” and then I click to download all matches to a CSV file.

Download Matches to CSV

I open the downloaded CSV file in excel. Then I sort by “Known Relationship.” And if there are any names with a blank known relationship, I go back into my Family Finder match list and search for them and then I change their relationship to “distant cousin.” I then download again to make sure they all “took.”

Once you have all your matches assigned, then you can go to the website http://www.dnagedcom.com

And register for an account.

Then click the Family Tree DNA button at the top.

Enter your kit id and password and then click the “Get Data” button. It will probably 15-20 minutes to download it all.

A zip file will be downloaded to your computer. Unzip the file and it will contain 3 files – match list, ICW list, and chromosome browser list.

Open each file and save as an excel file. Now you can check to see if a match is in common with other matches easily. You can also start analyzing your Chromosome data. It is all downloaded for you nicely and you didn't have to download it 5 people at a time!

Many Thanks to Rob for developing this wonderful tool~!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Using the In Common With (ICW) feature for Analyzing Family Finder DNA Results

In order to determine if 3 people have a common ancestor, you need to have the following two requirements:

1. All 3 of them must match each other on the same part of the same chromosome
2. All 3 of them must be in common with each other

I usually get the most responses from my ftDNA Family Finder matches shortly after I've assigned all of my matches a known relationship. You know, that little orange button that says "assign" beside all of your match names?

Assign Known Relationship Button

Clicking on the "Assign" button brings up a list of relationships you can choose from. If you know for sure what the relationship is between you and your match, then select it from the list. For example, I have had my mom and grandparents tested, so I have set theirs accordingly. But for everyone else, I set to "Distant Cousin." I set this for everyone right off the bat so that I can use the In Common With feature on ftDNA's website. 

Relationship Choices

Using the In Common With Feature: 

To use this feature, go back up to the top and filter by "In Common With." 

In Common With Filter

Then you can select the person you want to run an In Common With Report for. All of the people that you have assigned a known relationship for will appear in the drop down list. It is alphabetized by last name. 

When you select a match to run an In Common With report on, a list of all of their matches will be displayed. This feature is very useful, for example, when you have an actual known relative who has taken the test, like a parent or a brother, and you want to see who all matches to them (or just the opposite, you can use the next option down, which is "Not in common with." 

This feature is also important because being in common with someone is one of the two requirements for finding a common ancestor. The second requirement is sharing matching DNA on the same segment of the same chromosome. 

A last word of caution though. I often have trouble getting my In Common With feature to work properly. Oftentimes I run it for someone and the results come up empty. I have started using a 3rd party tool called DNAGedcom. This tool allows me to download ALL of my In Common With data at one time. The only downsides: I have to set a relationship to every single match which can be time consuming and I have to re-download each time I get new matches. 

Please check out my other posts: 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Using the Chromosome Browser in ftDNA

Here is a quick tutorial on how to use the Chromosome Browser in ftDNA to determine how you match someone on your Family Finder test.

Determining how you match someone is important when you are trying to figure out if you share a common ancestor with someone.

In order to determine if you share a common ancestor with someone, you should first be deemed a match with them from ftDNA. Once you are designated as a match, then you can use the Chromosome Browser to determine HOW you match them.

Go into your ftDNA account, click on the Family Finder button, then click on the chromosome browser link.

Chromosome Browser Screenshot ftDNA

Once you are in the chromosome browser, click the drop down box and then select “name.”

Chromosome Browser Screenshot 2 ftDNA

Then type in the name you are looking for into the box and click the “Find” button. (Don’t hit “enter” or it won’t work). Click on the little box beside their name to add them to the compare list. 
In this example, I am currently logged in to my cousin's account. If I want to see how she compares to me, then I can simply type my name into the Find box. 

Chromosome Browser Screenshot 3 ftDNA

You will see your match light up in the chromosomes on the right. Then click the “Download to excel (CSV Format)” Link at the top to export to excel. Open the downloaded CSV file in Excel to see the chromosomes that you match to that person on. 

You are probably wondering how or why this tool is important. Let's say for example you start emailing with one of your matches - we will call you Person "A" and your match Person "B" - and they ask you if you are a match to a 3rd person "C." If you (Person "A") match to Person "B" and Person "B" matches to Person "C" and you (Person "A") also match to Person "C," then the three of you might have a common ancestor. This is called the "Triangulation" process. 

That all 3 people are a match to each other is not the only requirement though. All 3 people must match each other on the same segment of the same chromosome of DNA. And the only way to know this for sure is if all 3 people share their chromosome data with each other - Chromosome data that is downloaded from their chromosome browser. 

So really, it's not just one name that will be loaded into the chromosome browser - but two. 

So next time one of your matches sends you a strange email asking you if you are a match to a 3rd person (or 4th, 5th, and so on), don't delete it. Just follow the instructions I provided above and send the data to them and I promise it will help you get through your DNA results and find those elusive ancestors! 

Kelly Wheaton has published some excellent tutorials on genetic genealogy. Please give her site a look. I have included the link to Tutorial # 9: working with your matches

Friday, July 5, 2013

Comparison of Relationship Report to ftDNA prediction

Click to enlarge my Relationship Report

In my last post, I talked about my paternal grandmother's new autosomal DNA match. We found our common ancestors to be Henry TATE and Sarah NETHERLAND. Family Tree DNA predicted that this match and my grandmother were 5th to Remote Cousins.

I asked this match to send me her direct line descendancy and then I entered them into my RootsMagic software, starting from her descendancy from Henry Tate and Sarah Netherland through their daughter Mary Tate Davis. I then did a relationship comparison and learned that my grandmother and her match were

6th cousins, 1x Removed

Being 6th cousins would normally mean that they share the same 5th great-grandparents; however because they are 1x removed, their common ancestors are 5th great-grandparents for one of them and 6th for the other.  

Relationships can be compared in RootsMagic by going to Tools / Relationship Calculator. Then enter each person and click the "Calculate" button: 

Relationship Calculator
RootsMagic Relationship Calculator

Relationship Calculator
RootsMagic - Select person to add to Relationship Calculator

Relationship Calculator
RootsMagic - Calculate the Relationship between 2 people

Relationship Reports, like the one displayed here, can also be generated in RootsMagic. 

Click on the Reports Menu / Select Charts / Select the Relationship Chart. Select the people you want to add to the chart. Select the options you want - Birth and death years, Marriage Date and give it a Title. Then click the Generate Report button. 

Relationship Chart
RootsMagic - Relationship Chart

You can then save the Report as an RTF or a PDF. I like to save them as an RTF and that way I can add text to it later if I want. The RTF contains only a bitmap of the report - the report itself cannot be edited but text can be added to it. 

This process has been helpful in determining if the connection found is linked to the DNA. If the relationship determined in my RootsMagic software matches up with what ftDNA predicted, then there's a good chance that the DNA that is shared between us and our match was inherited from these common ancestors. 

To Cite This Post:
Ginger R. Smith, "A Tate Family Connection" Genealogy By Ginger, 03 July 2013, (http://www.genealogybyginger.blogspot.com : accessed [date])

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Tate Family Connection...via DNA

Last year I started communicating with one of my Family Tree DNA Family Finder autosomal DNA matches. She matched to my paternal grandmother. This means she is a match on my Father’s side. We compared our surnames and soon realized that we had a common TATE ancestor. Henry Tate and Sarah Netherland were my 7th great-grandparents (and my grandmother’s 5th great-grandparents). They were my match’s 6th great grandparents. This makes my grandmother and her match 6th cousins, 1x removed. This is spot on according to ftDNA's relationship prediction. They predicted that my grandmother and her match were 5th to Remote cousins. 6th cousins fit right in.

Although my match did not have my 6th great-grandmother Ann Nancy Tate who married James Anthony in her genealogy, she did have a daughter named Mary Tate who married Chesley Davis. I had Mary Tate in MY database and she was married to Chesley Davis but I did not have their children or grandchildren’s names. I knew Mary Tate had married Chesley Davis because her father, Henry Tate, had mentioned her in his 1793 Campbell County, Virginia will as “daughter - Mary Davis wife of Chesley Davis.” I shared a copy of Henry Tate’s will with my match and she was able to add all of Mary’s siblings to her tree, including my ancestor, Ann Nancy Tate who married James Anthony. This is one of the benefits of autosomal testing - building out your tree with information you collect from your matches.

I was able to add 12 new family members to my database just from my match’s direct line alone! That’s 7 generations of children and siblings I have yet to include; These are what we call the “collateral lines.”

In my next post, I will show the relationship report I made between my grandmother and her match. I will also share how I made it and how it can benefit my research.

Mario Photo:
Copied from Monkey In The Cage website, 2 July 2013. 

To Cite This Post:
Ginger R. Smith, "A Tate Family ConnectionGenealogy By Ginger, 03 July 2013, (http://www.genealogybyginger.blogspot.com : accessed [date])

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The North Carolina Troops Index is Now Online!

Back in October, I let my readers know that the The North Carolina Office of Archives and History had released the latest compilation of North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, Volume 18.  The full set, when completed, will comprise of 20 volumes. Each volume is available for sale from the NC Historical Publications Shop for $50.00 each.

This compilation was started in 1961 “with the purpose of researching, compiling, and publishing service records for every North Carolinian who served in the Civil War.” The rosters are arranged numerically by regiment or battalion an dthen alphabetically by company and include histories on each unit.

Information on soldiers at the time of enlistment include:
·         County of birth
·         Residence
·         Age
·         Occupation

Information on soldiers during service include:
·         Promotions
·         Whether he was wounded, captured, or killed
·         Whether he deserted or died of disease

The best news so far is that now there is a master cumulative INDEX available for the first 18 volumes! And it’s online!

The index contains the volume and page number for every soldier listed – for his individual service record and for everywhere else he is mentioned. It does not contain company and regiment information, but does contain a cross-reference tab for those hard to spell names.

Here is a screenshot of the first page you come to when accessing The Index. It contains the instructions on how to search for your ancestor: (Click on the photos to make them bigger)

This is what a list of search results looks like when I searched for my ancestor’s surname of Godwin:

This is what the Cross-Reference looks like for the surname Godwin:

Who knew there were so many variations on the Godwin and Goodwin surname?

Copies of The Roster are held at the following locations near Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill:

Duke University, UNC, Meredith College, NCSU, Peace College; Durham Public Library North Carolina Collection, Orange County (Main Library), Olivia Raney Library, and State Library of North Carolina.

Digitization of the “North Carolina Troops” index was made possible by a joint project between the NC Historical Publications and the NC Department of Cultural Resources Information Technology Application team.