25 May 2011

New WWII Navy Records on Ancestry.com

     My Grandmama Betty (Huyler) Albea was an only child, but she had a three uncles who were more like brothers or cousins to her. All of these uncles served in the US Navy during WWII. I've always been dismayed at the lack of Navy records available online compared to Army records - but that's changing. In celebration of memorial day, Ancestry.com has released a number of US Navy Records.

     The most exciting of these records are the "U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949." These are something like the Civil War enlistment records available on footnote.com. These give information on the sailor's name, his service number, when and where he enlisted, and his movements. I've found two out of three uncles for certain and likely the third as well.

LC & Jack Waters

     • Jack Franklin Waters - the youngest of the Waters family brothers, the information I had on Jack's time in the Navy came from his tombstone: USNR - S2. I also knew from my Grandmama that Jack had been injured during his time in the Navy, which had a lasting impact and eventually lead to his death at age 36.

     I found three records for Jack in the Navy Muster Rolls. From those records, I learned that Jack enlisted in the US Navy Reserves on 3 Dec 1942 in Atlanta, Georgia, was rated S2 and was received on the USS Mizar on 31 Oct 1944. I also learned just a little more about Jack's injury: he was transferred to the US Naval Hospital in Oakland, California on 20 Jan 1945.

     • LC Waters - the middle Waters brother never had a full navy_waters_jack_1944_3name until he joined the Navy. Apparently "L. C." was not an acceptable name, so he picked Lewis Cranford. I had a bit more information on LC's navy service, thanks to photos he'd sent his parents. He sent a photo of his ship, labeled USS Barney. This helped me with my search for LC: as soon as I saw Barney, I knew I had the right sailor.

     I found a lot of records for LC, aka Lewis. He enlisted on 25 Aug 1942 in either Macon or Atlanta, Georgia and rated AS. He joined the USS Barney on 23 Nov 1942 from Norfolk, Virginia. He remained on the Barney for his entire career. His last record indicates that on 12 May 1945 he was transferred to a receiving station in New York City. At the time his rate was BM 2/c, though he had also previously held the rate of COX and was recorded as a "straggler" at one point.

     • Milton Waters - The oldest of the three brothers, Milton was originally in the Marines. Right now, I'm still not sure if I have the correct Navy records for him.

     I view this information as a starting point. The biggest piece of information I found in these records are my GG-Uncle's service numbers. With these, I should be able to request more information from the National Archives eVetRecs service. I can also research the ships they served on to see what action they might have seen during the war.  I'm really excited to do more research on the Waters brothers.

19 May 2011

The Civil War at the Atlanta History Center

     Timed perfectly for the sesquicentennial, there are two Civil War exhibits now on display at the Atlanta History Center. One is a permanent exhibit called 'Turning Point: The American Civil War,' the other is a temporary exhibit called 'War in Our Backyards: Discovering Atlanta, 1861-1865.'

     'Turning Point' is an exhibit that covers the Civil War from a broad, two sided perspective, starting from before the war and running until the end of Reconstruction. Many of the displays give information through a North vs South perspective. Topics include the daily lives of soldiers, women's roles, emancipation, ammunition, and battle plans. This exhibit gives a great overview of the war in a way that would engage everyone.

     The temporary exhibit, 'War in Our Backyards,' is about the Civil War in Atlanta. I really loved this exhibit because of all of the maps. It's filled with maps, maps and more maps. It's great to explore historic maps, filled with information about Civil War battles and plans, and compare them to today. The best map was an interactive digital one that used Google Maps. You could pull up different types of civil war information and explore then on a contemporary map. Aside from maps, there were also photos and artifacts.

     If you are in the Atlanta area I highly recommend these exhibits. They provide a great perspective on the Civil War, especially for genealogist who have been researching their Civil War ancestors.

15 May 2011

Autosomal DNA Testing: Will You Find A Match?

     Since I first heard about genealogical DNA testing (around 2004?), I'd wanted to try it. I was hopeful that DNA would help prove connections between distant families. I was first able to afford a test in 2007 and have since purchased a number of different DNA tests. Last spring I purchased an autosomal DNA test from Family Tree DNA called Family Finder and last month I purchased a similar test from 23andMe called Relative Finder. I've blogged about aspects of these tests a number of times, including some of the matches I made. Here's a consolidated rundown on my results:

Family FinderRelative Finder
MembershipMar 2010May 2011
"Close" Cousins106158
"Distant" Cousins83791
Requests Sent11615
Replies Received109 (93%)4 (26%)
Ancestor Found51

     My results are a bit skewed by the limited amount of time that I've been with Relative Finder. I've only tried to connect with my closest matches, but I have few responses from them. On the other hand I have received a very high response rate from my Family Finder matches. The key here is that many folks test with 23andMe for the health report - they aren't interested in genealogy. Those who test with Family Tree DNA are almost all genealogists.

     However despite a high response rate, I haven't actually uncovered our common ancestor very often. I've gotten lucky with a few where we have a surname in common and can follow it back on already researched lines. Other times I've found a common surname in a common area and with more research, made a match. Two of my oldest matches were made by connecting to a match's well documented family tree.

     For the most part, however, I haven't made a match.  Some folks I match with have trees that don't seem to match mine at all.  In these cases I have to assume that it's on one of our brick wall lines or the match is very far back.  In the end though, most of the matches I've made are pretty far back.  Here are my known common ancestors:

Bedie (maiden name?) Evansabt 18334x Great Grandmother
Moses Cashabt 17855x Great Grandfather
Samuel Armstrongabt 17425x Great Grandfather
George Harrisbef 17706x Great Grandfather
William Yanceyabt 17307x Great Grandfather
John Boatrightabt 16807x Great Grandfather
Thomas Powellabt 160011x Great Grandfather

     Pretty far back! I'd say that if you really want to make matches from these autosomal DNA tests, you need to be able to trace a majority of your family lines back to the 1700s. It all comes down to chance - are your distant cousins involved in genealogy and DNA testing and do you both have the paperwork to make a connection?

     Of course that's not to say that if you can't trace back that far that you shouldn't take the tests. These are my results and my experiences, others may be different. Good Luck!

10 May 2011

Relative Finder vs Family Finder

     I logged back into 23andMe today to see if my Relative Finder (RF) and Ancestry Painting results had come in. I think I must have logged in just as they were loading! I saw that I had 71 RF matches. I checked my mom's and she had 81. I switched back to mine and had 230... the numbers just kept going up! Since I only have 5 sharing invites a day, I thought I'd wait until they were done loading to make connections.

     While I wait, I'm exploring how Relative Finder works. I took a similar test with Family Tree DNA about a year ago, called Family Finder (FF). The programs are both very similar and very different. Here are screen shots of each test:

23andMe / Relative Finder:

Family Tree DNA / Family Finder:

     Very similar right? But also very different.

  • With RF you don't see the names of you matches. With FF you do (I've grayed the names out for privacy reasons). I'm guessing that this is because FF has you sign a release form regarding sharing when you buy the kit and RF does not. [Update: You can filter RF matches and see the names of those matches who are "public"]
  • With RF you can see how many surnames the match has listed on their profile, but you don't see the actual names. Also, you see the type of ancestry they categorize themselves as (Northern European, etc). With FF you see all the surnames the match has listed, as well as the geographic area they come from. Also, if they have uploaded a family tree, FF allows you to view it.
  • Each test gives different types of genetic match data. RF tells you a percentage of shared DNA and the number of segments that match. FF gives more scientific information that's a bit harder to understand.
  • RF uses an internal communication system that limits each member to 5 sharing invitations a day. With FF, you have access to the email address of each match and can contact as many as you want. Based on my experience with FF, the 5 invitations a day is fine with me. You can easily overwhelm yourself by contacting more people than that.
  • Both companies give you an estimated relationship, and then a broad relationship range.

     Deciding who to contact is a bit more difficult with Relative Finder. With Family Finder I looked at surnames and relationship ranges and emailed the match. With Relative Finder I would still look at relationship range, but then it gets harder. I would probably first contact someone who has surnames listed, as opposed to those who haven't listed any. Also, I'll compare my results with my mom's and try and contact people who match both of us. 

     But should I use all five invites every day? What should I say? Can they see my profile and my surnames when I send an invite? What happens when someone accepts my invite? I'll have to explore the FAQs and wait for some responses to find out!

     And if anyone has any tips, please comment!

09 May 2011

23andMe Results In!

     It only took 19 days for my 23andMe DNA test results to start coming in. So far, I have Health and Maternal Ancestry results and am waiting for my Relative Finder and Ancestry Painting results to populate. Here's a breakdown of my results so far:

Maternal Ancestry:
     This test confirmed Family Tree DNA Haplogroup results: U5a1b1. According to 23andMe, U5 is one of the oldest European haplogroups. Here's a map of where this haplogroup shows up:

My Health:
     Drug Response: Based on my genes, I might react to drugs differently. According to my results, I'm slower to metabolize caffeine, more sensitive to Warfarin (blood thinner), and... other boring stuff that doesn't seem too important right now.

     Carrier Status: Some diseases and medical conditions are determined based on genetics. If you have a certain gene, you have the condition. Looking at my results, I'm not a carrier of any "variant" that they test for.

     Disease Risk: This is the scary report that predicts what diseases I'm at risk for, based on genetics. It's important to note that these results are not the same as going to the doctor and taking a test. These are all probabilities.
     There are some good results: Based on my genes, I have a decreased risk of breast cancer, Crohn's Disease, Celiac Disease, Heart Attack and Melanoma.
     I have an typical risk of obesity, lung cancer, parkinson's, and kidney disease.
     At the scary end, I do have an elevated risk of a few diseases: Alcohol Dependence, Type 2 Diabetes (27.7% vs 20.7%), Alzheimer's (14.1% vs. 7.1%), Rheumatoid Arthritis (11.6% vs 4.2%) and Restless Leg Syndrome (5.2% vs 4.2%).
     Traits: Based on my genes, 23andMe accurately predicted that I have blue eyes and a bad sense of smell. I'm not lactose intolerant. Apparently if I smoked, I'd be more likely to smoke heavily. I'm predisposed to eat more sweats. I have a higher than average pain sensitivity and I have typical odds of living at age 100.

     These test results are pretty neat, but they're not really why I took the test. I'm looking forward to the Relative Finder test results, which are just like Family Tree DNA's Family Finder test. I'm also looking forward to the Ancestry Painting results, which is the same as Family Tree DNA's Population Finder. I'm looking forward to mom's Ancestry Painting as well - will we see any of the rumored Native American heritage?

08 May 2011

Tracing the Women

     It's mother's day, a day designed to honor moms for all that they do for us. (Thanks mom!) And with all of the DNA testing I've been doing lately, mother's day puts me in mind of mtDNA tests. These tests trace straight back through the female line. [If you are confused about the different types of DNA tests available, I highly recommend that you check out the webinars at relativeroots.net]

     My direct maternal line is:

  • Betty Huyler - 1931-2005, GA
  • Ruby Waters - 1911-1953, GA
  • Louise Smith - 1881-1949, GA
  • Rachel Garmon - 1850-1915, GA
  • Martha Yancy - 1820-aft 1850, GA
  • Mary (Smith?) - abt 1790-aft 1860, SC
     Any female, directly descended from one of these women, directly through women, will have the same mtDNA as I do.  My mtDNA test results are:
  • HVR1 Differences:
    • 16189C
    • 16192T
    • 16256T
    • 16270T
    • 16291T
    • 16399G
  • HVR2 Differences:
    • 73G
    • 263G
    • 309.1C
    • 315.1C
     These results place me in the U5 haplogroup, likely the U5a1b1 sub clade, which I think is a Northern European haplogroup. I'd like to do the FGS test, but it's pretty expensive... one day!

07 May 2011

Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy

     The other day I was talking to a co-worker about Osama bin Laden (don't worry, this isn't a political post). We were discussing some of the information that had been released and I was surprised that he didn't know certain details. He replied that it was "hard to find any information." I was kind of confused over this, as I couldn't turn on the tv or view a news website without seeing overwhelming coverage of bin Laden. Turns out, he was entirely dependent upon his iPhone for news coverage. In fact, he was relying on only one app for coverage (the others weren't good enough and the web browser wasn't optimal). I was really shocked to realize that he was purposefully preventing himself from accessing news because of his techno elitism.

     This sort of self-imposed ignorance can easily happen within the world of genealogy as well. Ever come across someone who is so upset that Ancestry.com charges for access that they won't even use their free records? Or some who is convinced that Ancestry.com is so awesome that they don't need to go anywhere else? Maybe a researcher who won't visit local libraries - only the large archives? Or someone who refuses to consider the merits of a well documented online tree because of the bad ones? Perhaps a genealogist who won't attend conferences because they are for socializing and newbies?

     It very important to consider all possible avenues of research and not limit yourself to one or two because you think they are superior, or simply that you know everything there is to know. There is value in each and every available research avenue and a well rounded research approach will result in the best results.

Are you using these resources? (have something to add? Comment!)
  • Libraries and Archives
    • Your local library
    • Local library's in ancestral areas
    • Regional/State libraries
    • Local archives
    • Regional/State/National archives
    • Church records
  • Newspapers
    • Local/Regional/State and possibly National
    • Microfilmed, book excerpts, clippings
    • Database websites
    • Specific newspaper websites
  • Other Published Works
    • Magazines
    • Books
    • Biographies
    • Local Histories
    • Event Histories
  • Original Documents
    • Via Vital Records offices
    • at Courthouses
    • Via records requests from state/national agencies
    • Church records
  • Web
    • Free or Paid, any website available 
      • find them at Cyndislist.com
    • Use Multiple search engines
    • Use "free trial" offers for paid sites
  • Cemeteries
    • Visit yourself, take photos
    • Pay attention to unfamiliar names inside the family plot
    • Walk the entire cemetery for family names (if small)
    • FindAGrave.com - make a request
    • USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project
  • Community
    • Message boards
    • Online Trees (use as a template)
    • Genealogy Societies
    • Conferences
    • Blogs
    • RAOGK.com
  • Family
    • close/distant family - everyone you can find
    • friends of the family
  • Technology
    • cameras and mobile scanners
    • flash drives and backup hardrives
    • audio recorders
    • phones with internet access
  • Education
    • classes from libraries and society
    • Webinars
    • Video tutorials
    • Press releases 
    • Conferences
  • DNA
    • yDNA
    • mtDNA
    • Autosomal DNA
    • sharing websites such as Ysearch and Gedmatch
    • surname studies

06 May 2011

Genealogy Conferences - My View

     This is a response to the post, "Genealogy Conferences - The Magic Recipe" and "Genealogy Conferences - Taking it All In," at GeneaBloggers.com.

     I have to say that I have attended only one genealogy conference: last year's Atlanta Family History Expo. I had a lot of fun and look forward to attending more conferences and expos in the future. So what am I looking for?

What Pulls Me In

  • Advance Information - I'm the type of person who doesn't like to be in a situation where I don't know the details. For an event like this, I want advanced information on the venue, the classes, the vendors, the events, etc. Also, last minute changes should be avoided at all costs.
  • Location - I'm not much of a traveler, I live in Georgia and have never been further north than Asheville, NC and further west than Mobile, AL.  My travel options are limited by finances and work schedules. A Conference needs to be offered in the local region for me to attend.
  • Price - I understand that these events cost a lot of money to put together, but after my $150 for ancestry.com, $60 for genealogybank, $25 a piece for death certificates, $100 for DNA tests... honestly, conferences do come in a little lower on the list for me. I would like to see a two day event come in at or under $100. And then there's still a hotel bill... Price alone kept me from attending the nearby NGS Conference - way too expensive. It would be great to see block rates available - and not just at the expensive hotels.
  • Content - I think that content should be tailored to the attendees, but still offer variety. If you're in the south, recruit speaker who specialize in the south or on locations of historic southern migration. At the same time, not all classes should focus on the same subjects. Classes should cover diverse subjects on basic research strategies through to the newest technology.
  • Vendors - Lots of vendors focusing on different topics. Interactive aspects or free samples are great. Also, time between classes to visit vendors is a must.
  • Technology - Wi-fi is a must either free or at a cost, I don't care. Presenters should use technology in their presentation and be familiar with it beforehand. For those attendees can't travel, offer webinars.
  • Community - I loved meeting fellow bloggers face to face. I'm not a people person and probably came off a little quiet or hesitant, but seeing other bloggers was a highlight of the Atlanta History Expo. Some sort of "collaboration" area would be great.

What Pushes Me Away

  • The opposite of everything I listed above - High prices, far away locations, unexpected changes, limited content and no access to technology
  • Unprepared Presenters and Vendors - Be on time, have backups for technical problems, have enough handouts for everyone, and if you promise to mail out something later - do it! Even based on one conference, I have set opinions on certain companies or presenters that are not likely to change. 
  • Lines - lines can be avoided with time management. Give some extra time between presentations and consider a longer lunch break. Offer a large venue with many options, as well as space for lines to form if necessary.
  • Early Mornings - Why do conferences start so early? As a night owl, I'd love to see them start around 9am and run till dinner, rather than start at 7am and end at 4pm. (I'm sure many disagree with me on this one)

     I'd love to attend more conferences and expo, but price and location are very important considerations in getting me to attend. After that, the details will determine if I'll return next year.

03 May 2011

I'm Oldest!

     My mom likes to tell a story about how my twin sister and I once came home from daycare asking to see our birth certificates. She didn't know what had prompted this, but pulled out our birth certificates to show us. She was very surprised when suddenly I cried "I'm oldest!" Apparently, the daycare teachers had asked us who was oldest, which we didn't know. They told us to look at our birth certificates for the time listed there. I was born at 10:04 AM, while Sarah was born at 10:05 AM (c-section).

     Some years later we all needed birth certificates to take a cruise. We ordered them from the Vital Records Department. Having heard the "who's oldest" story so many times - but not remembering the actual event - I was confused as to why we didn't already have them. I just assumed that they had been lost and didn't think about it.

     A few more years later, I realized that I had been looking at two different birth certificates. The first was a commemorative hospital certificate, while the second was a legal birth certificate. I recently remembered to ask my mom if she still had the hospital certificate (yes, reminded by recent current events).  She pulled mine and my sister's out, as well as my brother Bicentennial Baby certificate. Here are some images from the certificates:

01 May 2011

Albea DNA - Results

     In order to try and find the origins of the Albea / Alby family name, I asked my uncle to take a DNA test. I purchased a 37 marker Y-DNA test for him from Family Tree DNA in February.

     The test results are in and my uncle has been placed in the the R1b1a2 Haplogroup. It appears that this group is very predominant in Western Europe. I added my uncle to the R1b group on FTDNA, and took their advice to purchase a deep clade test ($89). This test might be able to pinpoint a more specific region of origin (celtic, germanic, etc).

     Right now I don't have any surname matches, nor any exact matches after 12 markers. I encourage any male with the surname Albea - Alby, Albee, Aulby, Albey, Allbee - to take a DNA test and compare results. Information can be found here: Albea Surname Group.


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