30 August 2012

Who Were the Children?

Waters/Smith Children

     This is a photo from my maternal grandmother's collection. She wasn't sure who these children were, but had been told that the oldest child (in the middle holding the youngest) was her Aunt Alma Waters.

     So who are the other children? I'd guess that the child identified as Alma might be about 3 years old? If so, that would place the photo at about 1909. Alma's next youngest sibling, who lived beyond infancy, was five years younger than she was and was not yet born. Thus, if Alma is correctly identified, these cannot be her siblings.

     It's highly possible that the other children were Alma's cousins. The two youngest look too close in age to be siblings anyway. Alma's father, Leverett had some nieces and nephews the right age through his sister: Claude (abt 1907), Annie May (abt 1909). Alma's mother had some nieces and nephews the right age though here brother's and sister's: Maudie (abt 1908), Foster (abt 1907), Robert (abt 1908).  If the photo is a bit older, there are even more options.

     It's impossible to tell the gender of any of the children. I have another photo, dated late 1910, in which a male child is wearing an almost identical gowns and a three year old little girl has close cropped hair.

     It's pretty much a given that I'm never going to positively identify these children, but if anyone spots any clues, feel free to comment.

27 August 2012

Birthday Memories

     Mom and I created this video, recording memories of our childhood birthdays.  Enjoy!


26 August 2012

58 Years Ago

Ruby Albea

    This is Mom's first photo, which appears to be a hospital baby photo. If so, it was taken 58 years ago today (or maybe tomorrow?) at Crawford W Long Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Happy Birthday mom!

25 August 2012

What My AncestryDNA Match Pages Should Look Like

          AncestryDNA is still in beta and is already a pretty good site, but it's not yet up to par with Family Tree DNA or 23andMe.  It's actually missing some key features that allow users to better search, browse and compare their DNA results.  I took some screenshots of my AncestryDNA matches and reconfigured them to be what I hope we will soon see when we log in to look at our results. (note that I pasted my name on one of my matches, so this data doesn't reflect an actual match or myself)

     If I was designing the autosomal DNA match page at Ancestry.com, this is what my match results page would look like:

  • I've added a centiMorgan value on the left, which is a big indicator of how closely related I am to my match. It's provides much more information than the "confidence" level, which often says something vague like "moderate" or "very low."
  • I've added three icons on the right. Ancestry already has an icon indicating that the match does or does not have a family tree attached to their account.  I have added icons indicating that there is a "shared ancestor hint," "shared surnames" and "shared locations" (which I guess should be green...).
  • Not show here, but at the top of the match page I would add a function that would allow me to search by my match's name and by the surnames in their family tree. 
     I would also add a few things on each match page:
  • I added the centiMorgan data to the top of the page under the relationship estimate.
  • At the top of the page, near the "send message" button, I added a "notes" button. Not sure if this is the best place for this, but it didn't seem to necessarily need it's own tab either.
  • I added a tab called "DNA Details" This page would contain more information on the amount of DNA shared between matches and a chromosome viewer.
  • I added a tab called "In common," which will give information about other matches which I have in common with this match. It would be nice to see DNA segments on this page as well
     And of course, I would add a link to download raw data for my DNA

     What would you add or change?

16 August 2012

Georgia Family History Expo 2012, Nov 9-10

     I'm starting to get excited about this year's Georgia Family History Expo.  Just like the previous two years, it's being held at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia.  I attend in both 2010 and 2011 and the Expo is well worth the price.  Here are the details:

  • When:
    • Nov 9th: 1pm - 9pm
    • Nov 10th: 9am - 4pm
  • Where: 
    • Gwinnett Center: 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, Georgia 30097
  • How Much:
    • $69 through Oct 9th
    • $89 through Nov 8th
    • $110 at the door
    • $60 per day at the door
     I'm excited to see that Robert S Davis is giving the opening Keynote. I took two of his classes last year and really learned.  I also see a number of classes being offered on a variety of interesting topics for both beginners and advanced genealogists. I don't see any classes on DNA though... I find this surprisings considering the ever growing interested in autosomal DNA for genealogy. Regardless, I'm looking forward to this year's expo and am looking forward to seeing my fellow bloggers there. 

15 August 2012

Original Artwork

     My mom and my brother are both amazing artists. Mom worked for years as an artist for Bellsouth's Real Yellow Pages and my brother, Allen, works on a locally published comic book series, Galaxy Man.

     My brother recently posted some of his sketches on Facebook. I responded by scanning what we consider his first "real drawing" and posting that. It's interesting to see how far he's come, as well as the story behind it. First, his art:

    In response to the crayon drawing I posted, mom shared the story behind it:
"Hey! This is your first ever serious drawing of Superman! Before that you had me drawing him for you. Remember how I told you needed to draw him yourself and that the more you practiced the better you would get.You came back a little later with this drawing. It is fantastic! I was so proud of you. I still am!"
     Art is such a part of my brother's life. It makes me wonder: what if mom hadn't told him to do his own drawing of Superman?  And what if I hadn't posted the drawing on Facebook? I wouldn't know the story behind the art.

09 August 2012

Mike Lowe, 1962-2012

My cousin, Mike Lowe, passed away yesterday. His obituary, as published on the website of Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Homes:

     "Mike Lowe of Oxford, passed away August 8, 2012, at the age of 50. Mike was a veteran of the United States Navy. He worked as an electronic technician, for Atlanta Repair Depot, for more than 25 years. He was a Ham Radio Operator, and loved working on electronics even as a hobby. He enjoyed camping and watching the History channel. Mike was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Verdell Lowe; and his step-brother, Richie Dryman.

     Survivors include his wife, Melanie Page Lowe of Oxford, sons and daughter-in-law, Branden and Samantha Lowe of Monticello, Bryce Lowe of Oxford; grandson, Gabriel Blake Lowe; mother and step-father, Charlotte and Richard Dryman of Greensboro, NC, step-brother, Chris Dryman; step-sister, Elizabeth Deifell; several aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

     Funeral Services for Mike will be held Saturday, August 11, 2012, 12:00 PM, at Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home, 1215 Access Road, in Covington, with Jason Parr officiating, and interment following in Crest Lawn Memorial Park. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Saturday, from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM."

08 August 2012

Why Should I Care About Great-Great Grandmother's Siblings?

     I was reading comments on Ancestry.com's blog the other day and a particular of a comment caught my attention.  I'm not trying to call someone out, but to point out an error that others might be making in their research. This comment wasn't directed at me, but was posted on a public blog, so I will re-post part of it here.
"Had spelled the name correctly three years ago, but never got a leaf for her to guide me further. Revisited that profile page again last week! Since I knew her brother lived with her in the 1900 Census, I decided to give him a separate profile page of his own (even though I am not really interested in him, since I only deal with direct blood lines). No sooner than that I had done this that I had a “leaf” on his profile page that led me to two ancestry trees that had HIS SISTER (the ancestor of interest) and her ancestry in it..."
     Do you see the problem here? The researcher was completely ignoring collateral line ancestors. Since they weren't her direct ancestor, she thought they didn't matter. But the minute she added them to her family tree on Ancestry, she got hints that lead her to other family trees for her ancestor.

     I often offer to do family trees for friends and co-workers, since I enjoy the challenge. I always ask them to give me information on someone who was alive in 1930 (now 1940!), including any information on their dates, locations, parents, and siblings. I need enough information to distinguish one Lucy Miller, born 1915, wife of William, with daughter Margaret, from another Lucile Miller, born 1916, wife of Bill, with son Edward. If my friend is the descendant of son, Robert, who was born in 1941 and not yet in the census, I'm at a loss. But if I know that they had a daughter named Margaret, I can pick between the two options (and look for further evidence). If I didn't know about Margaret, I wouldn't know which family was the right one.

     It's extremely important to research the siblings of your direct ancestors, especially if you're stuck. If you have a "brick wall ancestor" and you haven't tried researching their siblings, you might be overlooking an obvious answer. For example: if my ancestor's death certificate lists her parents as John Smith and Mary Smith, I want to look for the other children of John and Mary to find her maiden name. One of their death certificates might tell me that Mary's maiden name was Quisenberry. Hello! Also, think about an obituary of a sibling that might list the parents, or a society piece in the newspaper that mentions a family visit. Any record that ties your direct ancestor to their parents likely exists for the siblings. If your ancestor's document is faulty, the siblings' document is like a second chance.

     You can't stick to your direct blood line relatives if you want your family tree to grow. It's that simple.

03 August 2012

A Complete 1940 Census?

     I woke up today to an email from Ancestry.com, telling me that they had finished indexing the 1940 Census. Yay! North and South Carolina are online and I can now complete my ancestor search.  I was still looking for:

  • Nina Albea - Greenwood County, SC - born 1878, SC
  • Vary "Mack" Huyler - Guildford County, NC (maybe) - born 1903, SC
  • John and Ida Huyler/Hyler - Lexington or Richland Coounty, SC - born 1861 and 1863, SC

     But after hours of searching, I'm still in the same position I was in this morning: census-less. I've seen a lot of silly errors in Ancestry.com's 1940 Census records and I'm hoping that that's my problem. Hopefully when FamilySearch releases these states I'll be able to find my ancestors. 

Finding DNA Cousins with AncestryDNA

     I first explored the features available on AncestryDNA (reviewed here) and then started looking for matches.  Really getting into the system and exploring my matches expanded my "wish list" of features.

     Of my top 19 "Fourth Cousin" matches, there are no obvious connections.  I then clicked through the "Distant" matches on the first three pages of my results and quickly found three matches! I found two matches that had Shared Ancestor Hint, both of which seem to be correct.  Here's a screenshot of one of them:

     You'll note that we have a common ancestor. As in one person, not one couple. I don't know why the system would decide to only pick one person when both members of the couple match across both trees.  If both members of the couple show up in both trees (aka: no step-families), both members of the couple should be recommended as the common ancestors. The match does get you where you need to go though, so it's enough for now.

     You can click on any of the names of these ancestors to see how they appear in each family tree. Clicking on the common ancestor takes you to your own tree. This is helpful, but I would prefer to see a side by side comparison of this ancestor as shown in both family trees.

     A great feature is the relationship label. For each person in the tree, aside from yourself, there is a relationship given. So I know that the match is my 5th cousin, 1x removed and that our common ancestors are my 5x Great Grandparents. This is a feature not available on ftDNA nor 23andMe.

     As I mentioned before, there isn't really anywhere else to go from here. You can send a message to your match and converse with them, but all the work is done for you. It's a bit anticlimactic actually, as I'm used to there being more features available on other DNA websites. Some features I would like to see here include:

  • Chromosome/Segment viewer
  • Ability to see matches in common with other matches
  • Ability to add notes
  • Ability to agree/disagree with Shared Ancestor Hint or mark a match that is not suggested

     I also found a match with a user that did not have a Shared Ancestor Hint. As you can see from my notes in the image below, my Daniel Rich is the son of their Stephen Rich. However, I did not have Stephen listed in my tree. However my ancestor, Daniel, is listed in their tree. I wonder: Can the site only find connection on direct line ancestors? It did not connect my ancestor to their collateral line relative.  

     When I went back a few days later to review the matches I'd found, I found one other obvious feature that is missing: search.  There is no way to do a search (member name, surname) for a match. I've been marking my found member connection by "starring" them and keeping a list of matches on Thoughtboxes. If I don't do something like this, it will be very difficult to find a single matches out of 1000+.

     I still haven't fully explored the mapping features, which I think look promising. I'll talk about those soon.


Related Posts with Thumbnails