28 March 2010

Family Finder DNA Test, Revisited

So, I decided to go for it and order the Family Finder DNA test from FamilyTreeDNA.com at an "introductory price" of $249. It's a lot of money, but I hope that it will be worth it.

To make my decision, I reviewed what the test is purported to do: find DNA matches within five generations of ancestors - that's anyone descended from the folks in the fan chart below. This includes aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, who may not be able to be matched through just y-DNA or mtDNA tests. As a female, I'm somewhat limited on the results received from my own mtDNA, so that made this test all the more appealing.

Of course, I did have to consider that this is a brand new test - and who am I really testing against? Very few people to start with. And what are the odds of finding a match? Given this fact, I hope that the price of the test a full roll-out isn't that expensive so that more folks can afford it (though it would be nice to have saved some money during the "introductory offer").

Regardless of the pros and cons, I went ahead and took the plunge. I then received an email stating that my test would be processed using DNA samples that I previously submitted. There was no date given for when to expect results.

So, anyone else out there who decided to go for it? Also, I've seen a few comments from other genealogists who received the offer and all were women. It's made me curious to see if there were any men who received an email? If not, maybe they are targeting women? I'd love to know for curiosities sake.

25 March 2010

Family Finder DNA Test

Just yesterday, I logged onto FamilyTreeDNA to show my sister the information on their upcoming Family Finder DNA Test. Previously, I had purchased a 64 marker Y-DNA test for my dad and a mtDNA test for myself (at this point, we haven't gained much from the tests, though I still feel that I got what I paid for). Today, I opened up my email to find an invitation to purchase the Family Finder test.

The email from FamilyTreeDNA says that my kit has been selected "for phased rollout of our newest test: the Family Finder. During this limited release, and until the general release, you will be able to order the Family Finder test from your personal page at the introductory price of $249." I have until March 28th at midnight to decide. Three days! To decide if I want to spend $249!

It's so tempting, but very expensive. It seems that the price might go up after this time period - but how much? And will the test be available directly after these three days, or will there be another waiting period. I'm confused on that aspect of the email. Regardless, it looks like this is the test that genealogists have been looking for. The test is purported to make matches on aunts, uncles, and cousins off of the direct maternal and paternal lines.

I'm very excited about the test and the offer. But $249! I'm sure that are other who got this email. Any opinions?

20 March 2010

Surname Saturday - Britt

My Britt family line is an interesting one. I can trace it back to William Britt, who was born on 1 Jul 1818 in Edgefield, SC (though some records indicate a birth as late as 1825). William was my 2x Great Grandfather. When compared to my other ancestors, his age places him in the same generation as many of my 5x Great Grandparents. William was 82 years old when he fathered his youngest child, my Great-Grandfather, Nathan Britt (a little suspicious, but not impossible). William was on his third wife at the time, the 44 year-old Amelia Parrish (who I believe was William's son's wife's sister).

William was, I believe, born in Edgefield County, SC. He appears on the 1850 and 1860 census records in Edgefield County. In 1870 he had trekked into GA and was living in the Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County area. By 1880, he had moved a little further south, to Newton County, GA. In 1900, he was living in Emanuel County, GA. There is no record of his death.

William had three wives and nine known children. His marriages and children were:
  • Sometime before 1849 William married Sarah, born abt 1824 in SC. Sarah died in SC sometime before 1867. Their children were Levi Britt (1849-?) and Larkin Britt (1851-1936).
  • Before 1867, William married his second wife Edie Dye. She was born abt 1839 in SC and died before 1885. William and Edie had one known child, William Britt (1867-?).
  • About 1885, when William was 66, he married Amelia Rye Parish. She was born in 1857 in Edgefield, SC. Their children were John Wesley Britt (1886-1892), Rosa Britt (1889-1963), James Britt (1892-1892), George W Britt (1894-1968), Emma Britt (1900-1952) and Nathan Britt (1901-1965).
craft boys and grandfather Nathan Britt
William's youngest son, Nathan was my Great-Grandfather, born on 9 March 1901. He married Ledora Barfield in Emanuel County, GA in 1922. Their daughter, Sarah Frances Britt, was my grandmother. She was born on 7 Dec 1925 and married Thomas S Craft of Elbert County, Georgia. To the right is a photo of Nathan with four of Sarah's sons (yes four - you can see another little boy just behind and to the right of Nathan's legs).

18 March 2010

If Stephen Colbert Can Fill Out His Census...

     I've been following the official census blog and reading the comments that others are leaving.  Most of the comments are negative and argumentative - it seems that folks feel that the census is an overpriced privacy intrusion into their lives.  Many feel that the questions are not legal, since the constitution only states that the population shall be "enumerated." I won't go into my spiel about how I believe these folks are cynical conspiracy minded people....  But I will let Stephen Colbert do it for me in his wonderfully satirical way.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
United States Census 2010
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care reform

16 March 2010

Driving Through the Family Tree

     Last weekend, my mom and I went on vacation to Charleston, SC. We drove north up I-85 from Atlanta to South Carolina and it was like driving through my family tree.

     We passed into SC through Hart County, home of my Craft, Evans, Powell and Taylor ancestors.
     We drove just outside of Greenville where my maternal grandfather's family moved to when he was a teen.  He met and married my grandmother there before moving the family to Atlanta.
     We took I-26 east and past the highways that would have taken us to Greenwood and Ninety Six where my Witt, Dorn and Quattlebaum ancestors lived.
     A little further down the road, we passed connectors to Saluda, where the older generations of Witt and Dorn ancestors came from, as well as newly connected Britt and Parrish ancestors.
     Soon, we were approaching through Columbia, where my Great-Granddaddy Albea died.
     We took a highway shortcut past the city and entered Lexington County, where generations of Hyler ancestors lived, as well as my Meetze, Ouzts and Leaphart ancestors.

     Unfortunately, we didn't have time on this vacation to stop anywhere for genealogy side-trips. It was a very inspiring drive though, prompting me to discover that the Richland County Library has an obit index and does lookups for free!  I've already received new obituaries for my Hyler ancestors. Hopefully I'll be able to go back again sometime on a research trip.

     And I didn't even have my camera ready when we discovered Leaphart Road.... I did find it on Google maps however:

14 March 2010

Moving forward with Probate Court Indices

I recently discovered that Lexington County, South Carolina has some of their probate records online. They have estate record indices and some marriage record indices. One great find was a listing for my Great-Great-Grandmother, Ida Leaphart Hyler (Mack's mom).

Leaphart Estate Index - Lexington County, SC Ida is listed along with her brothers, Wade and Pierce, on an index of estate records. The information includes their names, their appointed guardian (W C Jumper), and the box and parcel listing for the information. There is no date listed. A bit further up the page is a listing for F E Leaphart, whose estate was administered by William T Jumper. I have been told that Ida's dad was Frank E Leaphart - this is most probably him. Again, no date is listed and the box for his listing in a will book is blank. Does this mean he didn't leave a will - or is it just not listed? Also, W C Jumper just might be the same person as William T Jumper.

So, what now? I'm not sure what information might be included with these records, but I hope that they may be helpful to my research. I guess I should contact the probate court to find out. The contact information listed on the website include a phone number and an address. I would prefer an email address, but no such luck. When having to decide between written and oral communication, I choose written every time. So, I guess I need to write a letter. But what to say?

I remembered that probate court records were addressed in a past issue of Family Tree Magazine. Ok, here it is in the September 2008 issue. They have a sample letter for requesting court records. Let's reformat that letter to fit my information....

To the Probate Court Clerk:

I am seeking the estate records of F E Leaphart, as listed in the estate index records placed on your website. The records are stated to be held in Box 17, Parcel 3.

I am also seeking the estate records of Wade, Pierce and Ida Leaphart, listed in the same index. The records are stated to be held in Box 61, Parcel 1.

I have included a copy of this index.

I am enclosing a check for $15 to cover the cost of photocopying the entirety of the documents. If this is insufficient, please let me know the cost, and I will be happy to send the remainder.

Thank you for your assistance. I am enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your reply.

Name and Contact Info

I think this sounds good. This is the first time that I'll be sending off for records that didn't have a form letter designed for requests. I know that there are researchers out there who have experience with this sort of thing. Any suggestions or advice?

13 March 2010

Tracking Mack

My maternal grandmother's father, Vary "Mack" Hyler / Huyler disappeared during the Great Depression to look for work. He left when his daughter was an infant and didn't show up again until she was 14. I'm trying to track down his location during the approximate time period of 1931-1945.

Based on stories that he told his grandchildren, he was a true hobo. Mack said that he traveled "all over" in train cars and smoked "wacky weed." These statements aren't exactly detailed. So, what do I know as fact?
  • He was named Vary Americus Hyler, but was known in his later years as Mack Huyler (family stories and documents)
  • He stated that he was born on 2 April 1903 in Columbia, Richland, SC (ssa)
  • mack ruby marriage
  • He appears in Lexington County Census records in 1910 and 1920 and cannot be found in the 1930 census.
  • He married Ruby L Waters on 2 Jan 1931 in Atlanta GA (marriage cert)
  • He and Ruby divorced during his time away (she remarried)
  • On 25 Feb 1937 he filed a social security application in Augusta, Richmond, GA
  • He returned to Ruby (now divorced from her second husband) when his daughter, Betty, was 14 (statement from Betty)
  • He was living with Ruby again in 1948 in Atlanta, GA (directory)
  • He married Ruth Sexton after Ruby died (family info and obit)

What about rumors? Aside from the few mentions of riding trains, not much is known. It has been speculated by the family that Mack knew Ruth Sexton from his traveling days and may have been in a relationship with her at that time.
  • Ruth was born in Alleghany County, SC in 1913 (obit)
  • She spent part of her childhood in Virginia (1920 census).
So, I'm looking for Mack GA & SC and possibly NC & VA. Considering the extensive rail system, my search could expand much further. So, I'll start by examining his Social Security Application further.

Mack's 1937 ssa tells me a few things:
  • He was officially calling himself Mack, not Vary, and spelling his surname with a 'u'
  • His address was 446 Watkins Street, Augusta, GA
  • He was employed with Huckeye Cotton Oil Co
There are a few things I did immediately: mapped the address and checked city directories. Unfortunately, it's hard to say for sure what building on Watkins Street is 446.

The city directories are available online for 1937 and listed 446 as "vacant." So, it seems that Mack was new to this address in '37. The 1938 directory lists Benj F Steerman and Stoney Taylor as living at this address. Did Mack only live here a short time, or was he the roommate or friend of these men? Or was this just an address he listed to have something to put on the form? Regardless, Augusta, Richmond, GA is a city that might offer more clues about Mack. And maybe these other two men might provide information on Mack.

So, where else can I look? I can widen my search of city directories. I can continue to look in the 1930 census, though I don't hold out luck finding him there. I can look for military service. He should have registered for the draft in the early 1940s. I can try and track him through his siblings (three brothers, seven sisters). Any other ideas?

12 March 2010

The 2010 Census Blog (FF)

     A great blog to follow right now is the official 2010 Census Blog.  This blog will answer just about any question you might have had about the census. Wondering how they'll count prisoners? Why they ask for a telephone number? Who gets a mail in form and who will be personally enumerated?  Will the census returns be kept? These and many other questions are answered on the very active blog.  The blog has presented multiple maps as well. They even gave a shot out to the genealogists of 2082! I really recommend following this blog.

10 March 2010

Wordless Wednesday

The Crew of the USS Barney - Guantanamo Bay

The Census Is Coming

2010 Census Advance Letter
Today we received our 2010 Census "advance letter." According to the official Census Blog, these letters began going out back on February 17th to the update/leave households. The metro Atlanta area will be doing the standard mail back census forms. The letter indicates we'll receive our census a week from now.

My aunt lives on the GA coast in an update/leave area. She has a job with the census and will be going door to door to leave the census forms. I'll have to ask her how that's going.

09 March 2010

07 March 2010

The History of Hawhammock

In 1958, the Hawhammock Baptist Church turned 116 years old! I recently re-subscribed to GenealogyBank, and found multiple interesting articles about the church and it's members. These articles confirm some information that I've seen floating around on the internet, including the fact that some of the founders of the church were my ancestor, Reuben Boatright and his first wife, Lacy Bishop.

The articles contain a lot of information, including names of current members, descendants of the original founders, the age of the building, photos of the building, and information about documents that the church held.

Specifically, I found it interesting that My Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Reuben Barfield, was said to have been living in Indiana. This could be an error, or it could be an opening into new avenues of research.

Because GenealogyBank.com uses OCR technology, I tried to keep my searches varied - and it paid off. For example, I searched for "Hawhammock" and "Haw hammock" and "Hawham ock." Because this church's name is so unique, I was able to simply search for one word. I broke this word up as it would have been broken up if the word reached the end of a line of type. This elicited quite a few new articles every time it tried something new.

Searching this way also turned up a number of obituaries of folks who were buried in the church's cemetery.

After finding these articles, I transcribed them and uploaded them to the GA USGenWeb Archives Project to share these articles with other researchers.

05 March 2010

Historic Preservation License Plate

     Yesterday I paid my "birthday" tax to renewed my license plate. At the same time, I was able to support historic preservation in Georgia.  I selected the new(ish) Historic Preservation license plate for my car.  By selecting this plate, I donated $22 to the Dept. of Natural Resources.  This money will be used by the Historic Preservation Division to help fund historic preservation programs in the Georgia. The money from the HPD has been distributed for these great projects (PDF).

     I'm very glad to live in a state that understands the importance of historic preservation. The GA Archive is always adding new digitized historic documents to their website, and I read that the state had recently teemed up with Ancestry.com to digitize a slew of state records. Yay! If the state is doing all that, I really feel that I can give a little extra and help out too.

01 March 2010

Getting Started on Ancestry.com: A Response

Ancestry.com posted a new video on YouTube, titled "Getting Started on Ancestry.com." I found this video to be a very interesting in regards to how ancestry is advising folks to start searching their website.

The video advises a three step process for starting genealogy research at ancestry.com
  1. "Enter what you know" into a family tree
  2. "Click on leaf hints" to see what ancestry has discovered
  3. "Review the records you find"
So, Ancestry's instructions are really all about using their family trees to facilitate research. This is in no way a bad research strategy, but neither is it a complete research strategy. I believe this video represents an idealistic and simplistic version of genealogy research on Ancestry.com.

I do recognize that this is a "getting started" and very basic research strategy for novice researchers. However, I believe this presents an entirely too simplistic view of genealogy research. It makes it seem as if no hard work is needed to create a family tree. Although the video points out the "search records" feature in the family tree, the video implies that most of the research will be done automatically by Ancestry's family trees. The video never shows a screenshot of the actual search form - old or new. Perhaps that's intentional? A newbie viewing the new search form might be overwhelmed. Such a screenshot might completely negate the simplistic tone of the video.

I also find it interesting that Ancestry.com is pushing their family tree feature so much, while self professed longtime, "real" users thoroughly dislike and disparage these same trees. I've seen countless comments on Ancestry.com's blog and message boards in which such researchers complain that the family trees are nothing but trash. Personally, I disagree with this blanket statement, though I believe it does have merit. There are a great many trees on Ancestry that are nothing but copy/paste clones that contain impossible lineages. Many novice researchers may not be aware of this, nor of good research practices. I worry that these new researchers will accept other family trees at face value, viewing all trees as "true."

So, although I know that this video is a very simplistic advice for getting started on Ancestry.com, I feel that it presents an overly simplified view of research on the site. This view may lead to the spread of misinformation and bad research habits. I hope that Ancestry.com follows up this video with more indepth information on how to use their site. Some ideas include, adding a link at the end of the video to their many free webinars, creating a short video that sums up some basic search techniques, a video about documenting sources or about cross-referencing difference sources. There's a lot that Ancestry.com could do to follow up this video, but I hope that whatever they come up with isn't as simplistic as this video.


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