Military Ephemera Treasures Online

Military ephemera outside of photographs are abundant and located at many research libraries and other facilities across the United States.  Familiarizing yourself with historical collections and the finding aids online at many places can make all the difference in...

DNA Problem Solving – Using Genetic Genealogy to Find Answers

Elevenses with Lisa Episode 44 Show Notes

Do you have a DNA problem?

Maybe it’s as simple as having a ton of matches and not knowing what to do with them. How do you keep track of all those matches. How to you know which matches to focus on? How can you can use all your matches to do what you really want to do, which is learn more about my family history?

In this episode of Elevenses with Lisa we are visiting with someone who has worked past many of those problems. She uses her DNA matches to solve some of her genealogical questions and the questions of her patrons. Today she’s here to help you!

My special guest is Sara Allen, a librarian at the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library. I wanted to talk to Sara because she’s not a biologist, or a Genetic Genealogy Guru. She’s like you and me: she’s passionate about family history! She shares genetic genealogy with folks in a very practical, and easy-to-understand way.

As a side note, we were lucky to record this episode because the day Sara and I were to meet to record the library was closed due to a snow storm. I’m in Texas and we’re buried in a deep freeze with devastating power outages, and at our house, no water for a time. But we moved things around and got it done. However, in all the chaos I managed to put my microphone on the wrong setting, so I’m going to sound like I’m sitting in a Folgers coffee can. But that doesn’t matter because it is what Sara has to say that’s really important. 

Oh, and they were also doing construction at the library the day we finally recorded, so it’ll sound occasionally like we use jack hammers on our DNA! However, neither snow nor ice nor lack of water nor construction zones will keep us (as your faithful genealogists) from the swift completion of this appointed show.  

Special Guest: Sara Allen, Librarian, Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN
Email: genealogy@acpl.info

How to Start Solving Genealogical Problems with DNA

Sara shared her basic over-arching plan for using DNA to answer a genealogical question:

  1. First, do comprehensive traditional genealogical research on the problem.
  2. Then do DNA testing.
  3. Follow the clues where they lead.
  4. Use the genealogical proof standard to come to an accurate conclusion/solution. Also view the DNA standards.

Then she shared the specific steps for her research plan.  

Research Plan for Solving Genealogical Problems with DNA

  1. Identify your research problem.
  2. Summarize genealogical research results.
  3. Choose most relevant DNA test/tests to order.
  4. Choose the most helpful family member(s) to test. These are people who carry the particular DNA that falls you will need.
  5. Complete the rest of your family tree to at least 4th great grandparents (4GG) if possible.

Choosing the Right DNA Test

Step 3 was to choose the most relevant DNA test. This is important because there are three main kinds of tests out there. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Understanding what each test is capable of is key to getting the results you need.

  1. Autosomal test – autosomal DNA is inherited 50/50 from mother and father. Both men and women can be tested. Start with this test, unless your mystery goes farther back than 5-6 generations of great grandparents.
  2. Y Chromosome test – only males can test. It tests a man’s direct paternal line.
  3. Mitochondrial (mtDNA) test – Both men and women inherit Mitochondrial DNA and can be tested for it. However, it’s important to understand that only women can pass it on to the next generation. Follow the line of potential inheritance in order to identify the right person to test. The Mitochondrial test tests the direct maternal line only.

How to Choose the Best Family Member to DNA Test

If you’ve decided that an Autosomal DNA test is what you need, a relative one or two generations older (on the correct side of the family) is always better. Examples:  Parents, Aunts/Uncles, Grandparents, Great-aunts/uncles, Parent’s first cousin

If you’re going to do a Y or mtDNA, choose a family member who falls within the correct path of DNA inheritance.

Sorting DNA Matches

  1. Sort your matches out by family line or common ancestor couple.
  2. View your match’s name, family tree or family names, and shared matches to help you sort into family lines.
  3. Use known cousins to help you sort. If you are related to a cousin in only one way, then your “shared matches” with that cousin should be “relatives” on the same side of the family as the cousin.
  4. Sara uses color coding dots to stay organized and detangle matches.

If there is a family tree, copy it, either electronically or print it out on paper. Compare and contrast trees looking for common names, common ancestor couples, common places. Work on establishing relationship between the different matches based on their trees. In other words, do genealogy!

Case #1: Who Were the Parents of Dovey Renolds Allen?

Here’s an outline of the case Sara covers in this episode so you can follow along.

Step 1: Define the Problem

Dovey Reynolds was born around 1822 in North Carolina and was married in 1846 in Owen County, Indiana to Phillip Allen. She died in 1901 in Jefferson County, Kansas. No records have been found naming her parents.

Step 2: Write a Research Summary

  • Records for Dovey as a married adult were found
  • Dovey’s obituary and death certificate from Kansas were sought. No death certificate found. Obituary did not name parents.
  • Owen County Library, Archives and Court house were searched. Extensive research was done, but not exhaustive; I did not document the sources that I used….so this work needs to be redone
  • 1840 Census searched for Owen Co. Indiana Reynolds. 1 household found with female 15-19 years old (age Dovey would be), headed by William Reynolds.
  • William Reynolds died in 1856, leaving a widow Amy, and naming children Jane, Solomon and Edmond in his will.  Dovey not mentioned
  • Possible father. No records found linking Dovey to this father

Step 3: Select the Right DNA Test

  • Autosomal DNA:  Dovey was my 3rd great grandmother. I have inherited approximately 3% of my autosomal DNA from her.
  • Mitochondrial DNA is not relevant to this case due to inheritance path.
  • Since she is a female, Y-DNA is not relevant.

Step 4: Select the Right Relative to Test

Autosomal DNA – test the closest living person to the mystery ancestor: Test my father or his sister (aunt) to get one generation closer.

Step 5: Complete Family Tree for Other Family Lines

DNA Match Analysis Strategies

  • Search DNA matches’ trees for “Reynolds” surname.
  • Each DNA company has a tool for searching your matches (23andme is not as good as others.)

Results of our search for “Reynolds” in matches’ trees: Look for Reynolds in key locations in Dovey’s life such as NC and IN, especially Owen Co. IN, and maybe KS:

  • Matches with Reynolds in their trees from New England, Canada, England, etc. probably NOT related.
  • Create a note for yourself, saying, for instance, “Maine Reynolds family” so you don’t waste time on probable irrelevant matches.

Match Summary

24 matches to William Reynolds’ descendants  (27 cM – 8 cM)

  • 10 matches from daughter Lucy
  • 4 matches from daughter Diana
  • 1 match from daughter Temperance
  • 3 from son Solomon
  • 2 from son Edmond
  • 4 from daughter Deborah

DNA Preliminary Conclusions

  • DNA links my aunt to descendants of 6 of William Reynold’s children.
  • This does not prove that Dovey was William’s daughter. She could have been his niece or other close relative.
  • Aunt shares the correct  number of cMs with the matches to be 4th-5th cousins with them.
  • Aunt’s shared matches with these Reynolds matches are on her paternal line – which is the correct side of the family.
  • More genealogical research could provide the definite link.

 

Case #2: Mysterious Leroy Porter

Step 1: Define Problem:

  • Leroy Porter was born in 1897 in France or PA
  • Married Ina Hill and died in Michigan.
  • Leroy was a teller of tall tales; family wants to know his origins, his parentage, and was he really from France?

Step 2: Research Summary

  • Death certificate (informant wife) says parents were Daniel Porter and Mary Baschley of PA.
  • Leroy cannot be found on any census prior to 1920 as Leroy Porter.
  • No trace of parents of those names found

Step 3: DNA Testing Options

Granddaughter Kathy took the autosomal DNA test.

  • Y-chromosome test not applicable for Kathy (there may be a candidate for Y DNA testing within the family)
  • Mitochondrial DNA not applicable

Step 4:  Test the correct person: 

  • Several of Leroy’s daughters are alive, so if they took an autosomal test, would be one generation closer.

Ancestry DNA match sorting options:

  • “Add to Group” option
  • Allows you to name the group, and add colored dots, up to 24 different colors
  • Notes field = enter free text notes about matches

Results

Evaluated trees of the possible matches from Leroy’s side. Two match groups identified:

  1. Hedges family of PA
  2. Crute family of PA

Can we find a marriage between these 2 families? Yes – Daniel Hedges married Alice Crute ca. 1894 probably Warren Co. PA.

More Genealogical Work

  • Sara found “LeRoy Hedges” in the 1900 Warren Co. PA Census!
  • She went through Kathy’s tree to find matches to Hedges/Crute family
  • Were the cMs within range for the relationships? Yes = 2nd DNA points to Leroy Hedges being Leroy Porter.

Leroy Hedges = Leroy Porter Summary

  • Family broken up by 1910
  • Parents remarried
  • Siblings in orphanage
  • Leroy Hedges ran away and was not heard from again
  • Did he go to Michigan and marry Ina Hill as Leroy Porter?
  • No official name change document found
  • Could compare photographs if Hedges family has one…

Resources

NEW Evernote for Genealogy Video Series

Using Evernote for genealogy yet?  I hear from people all over the world who are harnessing this free software to finally organize their family history research FOR GOOD!

Evernote users can easily import online research finds–along with the URL and other important source information. Many people are bringing their family history papers (original documents and paper-based research) into Evernote, too. All their research materials together, keyword and OCR-searchable, in one space, accessible from and fully-synched across all your devices. Sigh! It’s wonderful!

There’s so much demand in the genealogy community for learning to use Evernote for genealogy that I’ve started a YouTube series: Evernote for Genealogy. Two videos are posted so far:

These videos are absolutely free to watch, and they’ll get anyone started using Evernote for genealogy. And of course all the Evernote applications are free too! Who do you know who would benefit from getting organized? I hope you’ll share these videos with your friends and relatives! How about the students in your life? Or your co-workers? We may be using genealogy, but note-taking and organization are important to everyone.

Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedReady to take your Evernote learning a little further? Become a Genealogy Gems Premium member. Members have a full-year’s access to the ultimate Evernote education: my in-depth video series! Full-length classes for Premium members include:

Premium members also get access to my “Get Started with Evernote”  mini video series:

Episode 1 – Signing Up for Your Free Evernote Account & Downloading the Desktop App
Episode 2 – Getting the Web Clipper
Episode 3 – How to Clip Using Evernote’s Desktop Clipper
Episode 4 – How to Clip Content Using Evernote’s Browser Web Clipper
Episode 5 – How to Use Evernote’s Web Clipper for Chrome

Click here to find even more resources for using Evernote for genealogy! And thanks for sharing this post with others who would benefit from using Evernote to organize their genealogy research.

New & Updated US Genealogy Records Online

From coast to coast, U.S. records from the ‘genealogy giants’ are new and updated this week. Findmypast has a new collection of mine accident records for Pennsylvania (and we’ll also highlight a similar collection for England). Ancestry.com has updated a large number of genealogy collections for U.S. marriage, census, and military records that you’ll want to check out. And lastly, FamilySearch has made updates to a small set of U.S. county, tax, and enumeration records. 

new genealogy records online

Pennsylvania, Register Of Mine Accidents

Mining was an integral part of United States history. Immigrants were able to find work in the mines but sometimes at great risk and peril. Findmypast has a new collection that may shed light on the miners in your family tree.

The Pennsylvania Register of Mine Accidents is a collection containing records from the Department of Mines and Mineral Industries. These records document mine accidents for the anthracite districts and the bituminous districts between 1899 and 1972. They are held by the Pennsylvania State Archives and links to the PDF versions of the accident registers are available on the transcripts.

The records explain where the accident happened, the cause, whether the accident was or was not fatal, and who was at fault. A few examples of the accidents include caught in a conveyor belt, runaway trip wrecked into an empty trip, crushed with a possible fracture of the leg, fallen roof, and falling coal.
With each record, you will find a transcript of the vital information about the individual involved in the mining accident, including nationality, name, age, marital status, and other details. Over time the amount of information recorded at the time of the accident changed as the volume of accidents diminished.
More Mining Records at Findmypast
If your mining ancestors were immigrants, they may have also been miners in their home countries. Findmypast has another fascinating collection of records of England Mining Disaster Victims. Included in these records are the 26 children who lost their lives in the Huskar Pit disaster of 1838 as well as 88 of the men who died in the Cadeby Main pit disaster in 1912. The initial explosion at Cadeby Main killed a total of 38 men; however, when a rescue party was sent in, another explosion occurred, killing 53 of the rescue workers.
From these transcripts, you can discover the following information: name, birth year, age, event date, colliery, and incident details. Four counties are represented in the records: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Yorkshire. This collection has been obtained from the Alan Beales Database of Fatalities in the Coal Fields. Additional information about the records can we found on the source’s website.

Updated U.S. Records at Ancestry.com

Over at Ancestry.com you’ll find big updates to numerous records collections for the U.S.

Marriage Records

Military Records

Census Records

More Updated US Genealogy Records at FamilySearch

Lastly, we head over to the all-free genealogy giant website FamilySearch. This week they’ve made updates to the following US genealogy records collections:

Most of these updates are pretty small, under 2,000 records. But you never know where your ancestor’s name might be lurking! The Ohio Tax Records collection has over 1.5 million new records, so if you have Ohio ancestors you’ll definitely want to check it out.

More U.S. Research Resources on the Free Genealogy Gems Podcast

If you’re filling in the gaps of your family tree with your U.S. ancestors, you’ll love episode #193 of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast! In this episode, we’ll talk about tips for using the U.S. Public Records Index. We’ll also dig deep into using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for genealogy research, including what kind of records you can access, how to request them, and more. Take listen to this episode right now in the YouTube media player below, or find it on the go on the Genealogy Gems App!

Lisa Louise Cooke Author

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google ToolboxMobile GenealogyHow to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series. She is an international keynote speaker and the Vice President of the Genealogical Speakers Guild.

 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

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