Monday, August 25, 2014

My AncestryDNA Test, part 1

AncestryDNA Test Kit
I finally ordered my AncestryDNA kit when it was on sale last month because I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Actually, what really happened was that I was helping a couple of people out with their AncestryDNA results and I was really impressed by how well they were finding matches and making connections.

I usually recommended Family Tree DNA as a testing company because they are the most transparent and because they offer testees the most tools with which to analyze their data. But frankly, I had burned myself out a year ago trying to do all that chromosome mapping and analyzing of the numbers.

So late last year I switched tactics. I've been downloading and building out the trees of my matches and looking for intersections between their trees and my own. This is also a very tedious process, but I found that I preferred doing this kind of "research" over just trying to crunch numbers that changed all the time. This process started working better for me. The number of connections I found doubled.

Since this new process of working the trees was working so well for me this past year, I decided I would try my hand at the AncestryDNA test which is based on finding matches within your trees.

Boy was I in for a big surprise!

I was on the site for 10 minutes and in that time I found connections to 3 cousins!

I don't have all the numbers to share with you, like the total number of matches - I actually can't find that. So if anyone knows how to determine what my total number of matches are, please let me know. I can tell you that I have 2 3rd cousin matches! I've already determined the connection to one of them (see below). I have about 3 pages of 4th cousins and the rest (about 253 pages) are distant cousins. 

Let's take a look at one of my 3rd cousin matches:

I clicked on his name. He only has 9 people in his tree, but it was enough to see that yes, we are, in fact, cousins. We descend from a common King line in Howell and Oregon Counties, Missouri. His great-grandfather, WilliamFletcher King, was the brother of my 2nd great-grandmother, Dora King.

So if you've used to build your family tree, you are all too aware of their little shaky leaves that offer you "hints" of records that might pertain to your ancestors. Well evidently they've applied these hints to your matches as well. Unfortunately,  I did not get a shaky leaf with this match. But I could tell by looking at his little tree where the connection was - Along the King line.

Family Tree of my AncestryDNA Match
Family Tree of my AncestryDNA Match

Then I clicked on “King” inside the yellow box and it brought up a list of King ancestors for each of us. This is very helpful, especially if I have forgotten who my King ancestors were! His King ancestors are on the left and mine are on the right. I am not sure why it did not pull up a relationship chart.

Our King Ancestors
Our King Ancestors

I entered my match into my Family Maker Software, synced with my online tree, and then asked my online tree to calculate my relationship to Mr. King. Here’s what it produced:

Relationship Report between my Match and I
Relationship Report between my Match and I

It says we are 3rd cousins once removed. This lines up with what AncestryDNA predicted which was 3rd cousins. I'm not sure why it chose to display Tabitha House as the common ancestor between us. She was married to Robert King. He is also one of our common ancestors. We share both common ancestors - not just one. 


I always try to remind the people I work with and the people who attend my presentations that they shouldn't stop with just identifying the connection with their matches.

These are some of the Next Steps I take:

1.       Add my match to my tree. If they have additional family members tested, I add them as well
2.       Send him information about who his grandfather’s Virgil’s parents & grandparents were
3.       Ask him to upload to Gedmatch so I can compare our results to another known King cousin  match from ftDNA
4.       Foster the relationship – Exchange photos, stories, and information about your families


In my next post I will discuss those shaky leafs.

If you have King ancestors from Oregon or Howell Counties in Missouri, I would love to hear from you.

Email me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Smith Family: putting Y-DNA to work!

I’m very excited to report on the progress of our Smith Y-DNA results!

The DNA Journey

As you are probably aware, researching the Smith Surname has its challenges. It is, after all, the most common surname in America! [1]

Smith number one surname in America - Smith is the No. 1 Surname in America

In order to gain insight into our Smith ancestry, my grandfather took the Y-DNA test back in 2005 with Family Tree DNA. He went several years without a single match. He transferred his results to a couple of years later and got a match to two people with different surnames. I found it very surprising that he had no matches to anyone with the Smith surname since the Smith Surname Project was boasting to have well over 2000 members at the time. I began to wonder if we really were Smiths after all.

Shocked Face

Then one day he got a couple of matches through – one to an A. Smith in Perry County, Kentucky and one to an M. Smith in Utah. Mr. M. Smith, however, claimed he was a Smith from an adoption that happened a couple of generations back. (I will come back to this later).

M. Smith was a missionary at the time that I contacted him, so he was unavailable to discuss our match further. I was able to exchange information with A. Smith from Kentucky though. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a connection. And how in the world were we able to find an exact match to a man in Kentucky at the same time as finding one to a man in Utah? These two locations are no where close to each other! 

Google maps - Kentucky to Utah
Google Maps – says it would take 27 hours to drive from Kentucky to Utah

The Genealogy

According to the 1850 Johnson County, Arkansas census report, my ancestor, Richard Smith, was living with his parents, David and Sarah Smith. David Smith was born about 1789 in Tennessee. His wife Sarah Smith was born about 1790 in TN. [2]

1850 Johnson County Arkansas Census Report
 1850 Johnson Co., AR census report showing David Smith and his family

The Cherokee Citizenship Application file of their daughter Sarah Smith Grider indicated that David’s
father’s name was James Smith and that he was a Cherokee Indian. It also listed her mother’s name as Sarah Gallymore, daughter of “Jennie Gallymore, nee Lee.” [3], [4]

According to my grandfather, Richard Smith was born about 18 December 1838 in Blue Springs Cove, Jackson County, Alabama. Unfortunately, I have been able to find any source to prove this and we have been unable to identify either a David Smith or James Smith living in Jackson Co., AL during the 1830s and 40s who fits our family.[5] You can check out my research endeavors in my Alabama Smith References blog post.

Here is a summary of what we are looking for:
·         James Smith born ca 1760
·         James Smith who was in TN about 1790 with a wife and new born son David Smith
·         James Smith who was a Cherokee Indian
·         James and/or David Smith who was in Jackson Co., AL between 1830-1840

The Y-DNA Bandwagon

Fast forward to the future and now we have 3 additional matches on the Y-DNA with Family Tree DNA. Unfortunately, has decided to throw away all of their Y-DNA kits, so unless my grandfather’s two matches from (M Smith and A Smith) transfer their results to Family Tree DNA before September 5th, we are out of luck in using their results to help us determine our Smith ancestry. We managed to get M Smith’s results transferred over, but still waiting for A Smith to make the transfer. In a way, Ancestry’s decision to shut down their Y-DNA support is actually beneficial to us in that now all of our Y-DNA results will be in one place (ftDNA), making management of the results much easier for the Project Administrators.

If A Smith transfers his results from Ancestry to Family Tree DNA, we will have a total of 6 Y-DNA results to compare and use in determining our Smith ancestry. Here is the breakdown of the Smith testees and their genealogies:

#s 1 and 2 are from Alabama
#s 3 and 4 represent the Mormon population, but they disagree somewhat on their origins from Kentucky
#s 5 and 6 are from Kentucky, but they too disagree somewhat

1.      Darrel Smith (my grandfather) - descends from David Edison Smith, b. abt 1789 in TN; was probably residing in Jackson Co., AL between 1830-1840; Was in Johnson Co., AR by 1850. His father was listed as James Smith on his daughter's Cherokee Application.

2.      Descendant of Patrick Smith, b. abt 1788 AL married a female Lindsay. Possible parentage from James Smith.

3.      Descendant of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee - (unproven - many people claim this is George Thomas Smith from NC but this testee disagrees with this)
1.      Richard Smith married to Diana Braswell - I believe this line moved to Utah?
He is the brother of James Agee Smith who moved to Utah and who is the ancestor of M Smith (# 4 below)

4.      M Smith – Descendant of John W Stephens, though he was given the Smith surname through adoption a couple of generations back. Here is what he claims his ancestry to be: [6]
1. Joshua Stephens
2. Hesekiah Stephens md Margaret Love; (Margaret married also to James Agee Smith)
3. Wm G Stephens md Susan Reynolds
4. John W Stephens*

Margaret was married to both Hesekiah Stephens and James Agee Smith
with Hesekiah Stephens, she had son Wm G Stephens
with James Agee Smith, she had son Thomas Washington Smith
Therefore Wm G Stephens and Thomas Washington Smith are HALF BROTHERS (same mother)

Supposedly, Wm G Stephens died, leaving his widow Susan Reynolds.
Thomas Washington Smith then marries Susan Reynolds who had 3 children with previous husband Wm Stephens. (he was also married to Sarah Bolen)
Thomas adopts the 3 children, thus giving them the Smith surname.
So M Smith is named as a Smith, but he claims he's really a Stephens.

However, he matches my grandfather and he matches to # 3 above!
I did some research and learned that Thomas W Smith was polygamous and was living with 4 wives in 1880.
·        I think that either Thomas Smith and Susan Reynolds really were the parents of John Stephens Smith 
·        James Agee Smith and Margaret Love really were the parents of Wm G Stephens.

5.      Descendant of William Smith and Elizabeth Eunice Ritchie – KY born and bred:
1. Willam Smith - Elizabeth Eunice Ritchie
2. Richard Smith b. 1771 KY - Alicia Combs
3. William Smith
4. William Med Smith, etc.

6.       Descendant of Samuel Smith and Eunice Joliff – KY born and bred:
1.      Samuel Smith and Eunice Joliff - He refutes # 5s line 1 above and claims William was NOT the father of Richard Smith. He has good proof that Samuel Smith was the father and that Eunice JOLIFF was the mother. I agree with his documentation and conclusions and wrote about them in my “Will of Richard Joliff” blog post on my Smith and Fox blog.
2.      Richard Smith, b. 1771 KY - Etiticia Combs - # 5 above had Richard’s wife as Alicia Combs


So it looks like the Y-DNA is matching up except two of these lines are arguing with each other :-) and the other two (David and Patrick) are kind of left out in the wind. I guess they decided they didn't want to go to Utah to become Mormons or stay behind in Kentucky arguing over whether their ancestor was Samuel or William (I have yet to find a shred of proof of William being said ancestor except that Richard named his first son William).

I am very excited by these results. Even though we have not yet tied these 3 lines together, I am confident that we will find the connection somewhere. Researching the Smith surname is hard enough, but adding James to the mix makes it even more challenging. 

These results are also helping me narrow my research focus in the following ways: 
  1. Looking for a connection between the Alabama Smiths (David and Patrick) and their Kentucky roots
  2. Looking for a connection between the Alabama Smiths (David and Patrick)
  3. Looking more closely at the records in Utah to solve the Smith-Stephens conundrum
  4. Looking for more Smiths to test in these 3 geographical areas

This is just a start! 

I'm sure you are wondering if we have started incorporating autosomal DNA to our research and the answer is YES! we are. The key to using autosomal DNA is ORGANIZATION. Check back for updates on this endeavor. 



[2] 1850 US Federal Census, Johnson County, Arkansas, population schedule, Horsehead Township, Page 268 (penned), dwelling 98, family 100, David Smith; digital image, ( : downloaded 2 May 2010); NARA Film M432, Roll 27.
[3] Cherokee Citizenship Application of Sarah Smith Grider, 1896, Arkansas, National Archives. Copies mailed to me by Mike Freels, 2008.
[4] Surprisingly enough, the surname of the two men that my grandfather initially matched to on the Y-DNA in was “Lee.”
[5] Personal correspondence with Darrel Smith, 2008. He said his date and place of birth were recorded in Richard Smith’s enlistment files but I have been unable to locate them.
[6] Mark Smith, [email withheld for privacy], to Ginger R Smith, grs3275[at], Email, “Smith DNA,” 15 April 2011.

Friday, August 8, 2014

So you want to start a business as a professional genealogist?

This has been on my mind for quite some time now. But honestly, I haven't really done much about it. I did take the 18 month long ProGen class online which studies Elizabeth Shown Mills' Professional Genealogy book. I learned how to write a business plan and client contracts and how to set my fees. I networked with other "transitional" professional genealogists. But there's still so many unanswered questions plaguing my mind.

To help ease my anxiety, I joined the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) group. It consists of both Professional Genealogists and Transitional Genealogists who might like to become Professional some day. It is a great learning tool. The APG offers a multitude of networking and learning platforms: They have newsletters, journals, webinars, online discussion groups, a mailing list and several location-based or virtual chapters. I think the best part of APG for me so far has been the networking aspect. Although, don't be fooled; I still do my best to lurk in the shadows, but boy, let me tell you, when I'm ready, I will pop out of my shell in full force!

I have already attended a couple of live webinars by national speakers and the past APG webinars are archived in their Members-Only section of their website. Last night I attended an online discussion group which is a place where APGers can mingle, interact, and ask each other questions about what they do and how they do it.

Several topics were discussed at last night's meeting. The first topic stemmed from a member question about websites. The question was: I've built my website, now what? Knowing how to market yourself and your website is always a challenge. The moderator suggested that you keep your website up to date with the correct contact details. She also suggested to create a bio that includes more than just your name and contact information. This applies to your APG profile as well. Include items such as your locality and document research specialties, some education background, and maybe some additional personal information. For some examples of detailed APG profiles check out the following:
Amy Arner
Rich Venezia

Marketing a website can be particularly challenging, but actually putting yourself out there in front of other people may be even more challenging for all of us introverted genealogy types. The moderator stressed the idea of networking, not just with potential clients, but with other genealogists. A lot of your work will come from referrals from other genealogists. This was especially crucial in our moderator's experience. She said her business took about 5 years to take off and now she has a waiting list. I have to admit I am absolutely thrilled when I talk to other APGers who have waiting lists! That's where I want to be someday!

Most of the people who participated in the discussion group were bloggers. When the subject of websites came up, some people asked if it was better to have a standalone website in addition to your blog or if it was ok to combine them. The moderator admitted she doesn't even have a website. She gets most of her business from the APG website and from referrals from other genealogist colleagues. I get a lot of research requests from my blog, probably because I am a diversified writer and because I put myself out there, including adding in my bio that I pull records from the State Archives on a volunteer basis. My blog has also been around for a long time, too, which I think has helped. I plan to incorporate my website with my blog when the time comes. Marian Pierre-Louis' archived webinar was mentioned about this topic so I will have to check that out. Lastly, it was suggested to watch YouTube videos on how to build websites if you are hesitant or not sure how to go about setting one up.

The question of fees always comes up in discussions about starting a business. When I took the ProGen class, we learned a mathematical formula to help us determine our fees. But really, the best way to do it is to cruise the internet to see what others in your area are charging. Of course, we learned that it is actually difficult to do, so you might want to try either asking your friends what they would pay or if you are close to other professional genealogists, asking them what they charge. It really is a close knit society and you want to be competitive, but you also don't want to undercut your competitors.

Lastly, it wouldn't be a discussion about starting a business if you didn't talk about Sole Proprietor vs LLC and TAXES. I believe everyone in the discussion group was a Sole Proprietor. It was suggested this was the best thing to do when you first start out. We learned about the Small Business Development Centers run by the Small Business Administration. This program allows you to learn about Small Business stuff through your local college and universities. You can also check out the books offered on or check them out from your local library.

We covered a lot of topics in last night's discussion. I'm looking forward to participating in more of these as I get more comfortable with the idea of starting, and running my own business.

Photo: downloaded from