Hans Lenz (1645-1725), Wealthy Vintner – 52 Ancestors #363

Hans Lenz was born in 1645 in Beutelsbach, Germany, three years before the end of the 30 Years War. Unfortunately, the church records for this time period, between 1626 and 1646 were destroyed during that war by the legions of invading soldiers.

Hans was lucky to have survived. Most of his siblings didn’t. That warfare not only outright killed much of the populace, those that weren’t murdered directly often died of starvation or dysentery.

Luckily for the Lenz family, as horrific as this time was, they had two things that the soldiers wanted and couldn’t produce for themselves. Wine and bread.

Records show that the soldiers quartered with Hans’s father, but failed to “pay” for their wine. Of course, the fact that his father, also named Hans, had wine to turn over, and bread to be stolen, and continued to produce both was probably what saved his family.

The war ended when Hans, the son, was about 3 years old. It’s unlikely that he retained much memory of the war years, invading troops and their atrocities. By the time he was forming memories, his father would have been baking for the citizens once again, probably getting up before sunrise to produce fresh bread and pastries for the hausfraus as they did their market shopping for the day.

Hans the elder sold bread to the women in the mornings and wine to the men in the evenings.

Hans the younger grew up with the yeasty smell of baking bread wafting through the house, probably waking up daily to that wonderful scent.

His parents, Hans Lenz, the baker, and Katharina Lenz, both born in nearby Schnait were likely related, but church records don’t reach far enough back to identify the intersection of their Lenz lines.

Beutelsbach

Beutelsbach is a beautiful, quaint village beneath steep hillside vineyards, shown in this drawing dating from about 1760. Scattered houses surround the medieval church, its spire reaching for the heavens. The church was the center of village life, and of the village itself.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Hockensmith.

The hillsides don’t look much different now.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Hockensmith.

Hans would have climbed these hills to trim the vines of yesteryear, just as these grapevines have been trimmed and manicured today. In this photo, you can see the church tower in the distance. Hans would have been able to keep an eye on the village, surrounding area, and his home from these vineyards.

The Baker’s House

Photo courtesy Martin Goll.

Hans Lenz grew up in this home near the church in Beutelsbach. Descendant and historian Martin Goll identified this building and shared the photo, indicating that at least the bottom portion referred to as the basement or cellar is authentic to the period when Hans lived there.

Hans’s father, Hans the baker, died in 1667, just 14 months before Hans, his son, married Barbara Sing on February 23, 1669, in Beutelsbach.

Based on this autotranslation of the marriage book, it appears that Hans Lenz was serving in the military at the time he married and showed his license locally, perhaps?

Marriage book:

Gefreyter and hrn. Captain of Roman Compagnie. Has shown his marriage certificate of Mr. Obrist Lieutenat Pentz which of Mr. Specialis von Schorndorf by me been fitting, on it he gives the Conzesion to the Copulation.

It appears that Hans Lenz was serving in the Great Turkish War and received permission to marry.

Wine Merchant

Photo courtesy Sharon Hockensmith.

Hans did not follow in his father’s footsteps as a baker, but instead became quite wealthy, at least comparatively so in Beutelsbach terms, as a wine merchant.

As the only known son, he apparently inherited his father’s substantial estate. In addition to the bakery/home, the estate included 8 vineyard fields, as compared to the normal one field that was sufficient to earn a living.

Hans was the first of many vinedressers in the Lenz line. In addition to maintaining and harvesting his own grapes, Hans also ran a wine business, as did his father.

Martin Goll has compared many estates in Schnait and Beutelsbach and indicates that typical vinedressers processed and sold their grapes, but did not press them into wine and did not then sell the wine to consumers or merchants. Hans was the exception.

In addition to being a vinedresser, Hans was a very successful merchant and vintner, as indicated by his estate inventory after his death. Hans owned multiple properties, including, “house with barn and garden in the upper lane, 500 bottles, housing 370 bottles, cellar 170 bottles. Total assets 14,642 bottles.”

Yes, you read that right. More than 14,000 bottles of wine. I have to wonder where he stored all that wine, and if that was why the cellar in the photo of his home is so large, compared to others. I also wonder if the 14,642 was supposed to be the value of the bottles of wine, instead of a total.

According to Martin, Hans’s estate was worth almost 15,000 guilders.

I couldn’t figure out exactly the equivalent in today’s dollar, but Martin wrote that Hans’ heirs received about 2000 Guilders each which left them well-off but not wealthy like their father.

Hans may have been the wealthiest man in Beutelsbach.

The Lenz Home at Stiftrasse 17

Hans’s home and wine business was ideally situated in the center of town, at present-day Stiftrasse 17, where the streets converged, only a couple doors from the centrally-located church.

This was critical, not just for being right on the path to the center of town where everyone had to pass, but also because the church was fortified with a protective wall. Living just a stone’s throw away meant one could quickly gather family members inside the fortification in times of danger. Memories of the Thirty Year’s War weren’t yet distant. I wonder if the family ever needed to seek refuge inside the church walls.

On the Google Maps image above, you can see the fortification tower with the red arrow at the top, and the connecting wall by the lower red arrows. The Lenz home is indicated by the red pin.

On the 1760 map, the red arrow points to the building I believe to be the Lenz home. Note the large cellar in this drawing.

Married Life

According to the Beutelsbach Local Heritage book, Hans Lenz and Barbara Sing (or Seng) were married for 17 years, bringing 11 children into the world.

Taking the babies for baptism was just a short walk of a few feet.

Three children died before their mother, as infants. We have no death or marriage record for one daughter, so we don’t know what happened to her.

Barbara, their last child was born on July 2, 1686, and probably named in honor of her mother. Baby Barbara died when she was just three weeks and 4 days old – 17 days after her mother’s death. I’d wager this was a difficult birth and a crushing blow to Hans and their surviving children.

Barbara Sing Lenz died on July 10, 1686, at 41 years of age, leaving Hans with a critically ill week-old newborn infant plus 7 additional children ranging in age from 17 down to not-quite-5.

Hans was probably a much better vinedresser and vintner than single father, so he did what any other German man from that era would have done.

He remarried 13 months later to Barbara Roller, born in 1648, the widow of Sebastian Heubach from Endersbach. It’s unknown whether Barbara had children from her previous marriage, but it’s likely that she did.

Barbara would have mothered her own children, plus his too. The younger children may have been too young to remember their mother, so Barbara Roller Lenz was the only mother they ever knew.

Hans and Barbara had been married for 16 years when Barbara died on May 7, 1704 at 56 years of age. No children were born to their marriage.

By the time Barbara died, Hans’s children would have been grown.

Hans married again about 1705 to a woman named Anna who was born about 1650. They were married for approximately 20 years. Anna outlived Hans by three years, passing away on Christmas Eve in 1728.

Joining the Barbaras

Hans was “probably 80 years” old when he passed away. It’s hard to grieve this man’s passing. Given that he was born during a devastating war, he had an amazingly long and prosperous life.

Hans was born into a privileged family, at least compared to others, served his country honorably, and came home to inherit the family home and businesses.

Apparently, Hans wasn’t keen on being a baker like his father, but he did become a very successful vintner.

The great griefs in his life were likely the deaths of his parents and siblings, of course, in addition to the deaths of two wives and at least 5 and probably 7 of his children before he passed over to the other side.

We don’t know Hans’ cause of death, but it would probably have been attributed to “old age.” 80 at that time was ancient! He has cheated death so many times.

On a crisp winter’s day, on January 22, 1725, Hans joined all three Barbaras, his two wives and baby daughter, and all those who had gone before.

Photo courtesy Sharon Hockensmith.

The minister likely preached his funeral the next day, or maybe the day after, as the townspeople, along with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even a few great-great-grandchilden gathered to celebrate his life. The church would have been packed.

After the minister finished the sermon inside the sanctuary, Hans’ coffin would have been carried into the churchyard where he was buried in what is now an unmarked grave, perhaps between his beloved Barbaras.

Maybe afterward, the chilly mourners gathered around the corner at his home to toast Hans one last time with wine from his own wine cellar.

Here’s to you, Hans!

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Mitochondrial Eve Gets a Great-Granddaughter: African Mitochondrial Haplogroup L7 Discovered

Such wonderful news today!

We have a birth announcement, of sorts, detailed in our new paper released just today,  “African mitochondrial haplogroup L7: a 100,000-year-old maternal human lineage discovered through reassessment and new sequencing.”

Woohoo, Mitochondrial Eve has a new great-granddaughter!

Back in 2018, Goran Runfeldt and Bennett Greenspan at FamilyTreeDNA noticed something unusual about a few mitochondrial DNA sequences, but there weren’t enough sequences to be able to draw any conclusions. As time went on, more sequences became available, both in the FamilyTreeDNA database and in the academic community, including an ancient sequence.

This group of sequences did not fit cleanly into the phylogenetic tree as structured and seemed to cluster together, but more research and analysis were needed.

Were these unique sequences a separate branch? One branch or several? What would creating that branch do to the rest of the tree?

Given that Phylotree, last updated in 2016, did not contain an applicable branch, what were we to do with these puzzle pieces that really didn’t fit?

These discussions, and others similar, led to the decision to launch the Million Mito Project to update the mitochondrial phylogenetic tree which is now 6 years old and seriously out-of-date. For the record, phylogenetics on this scale is EXTREMELY challenging, which is probably why Phylotree hasn’t been updated, but that’s a topic for another article, another day. Today is the day to celebrate haplogroup L7.

Haplogroup L7

The Million Mito team knew there were lots of candidate haplogroups waiting to be formed near the ends of the branches of the phylotree, but what we didn’t expect was a new haplogroup near the root of the tree.

Put another way, in terms that genealogists are used to, the new branch is Eve’s great-granddaughter.

Haplogroup L now has 8 branches, instead of 7, beginning with L0. We named this new branch haplogroup L7 in order not to disrupt the naming patterns in the existing tree.

Let’s take a look.

I used the phylogenetic tree from our paper and added Eve.

Just to be clear, we aren’t talking literal daughters and granddaughters. These are phylogenetic daughters which represent many generations between each (known) branch. Of course, we can only measure the branches that survived and are tested today or are found in ancient DNA.

The only way we have of discovering and deciphering Eve and her “tree” of descendants is identifying mutations that occurred, providing breadcrumbs back in time that allow us to reconstruct Eve’s mitochondrial DNA sequence.

Those mutations are then carried forever in daughter branches (barring a back-mutation). This means that, yes, you and I have all of those mutations today – in addition to several more that define our individual branches.

You can see that Eve has two daughter branches. One branch, at left, is L0.

Eve’s daughter to the right, which I’ve labeled, is the path to the new L7 branch.

Before this new branch was identified, haplogroup L5 existed. Now, Eve has a new great-granddaughter branch L5’7 that then splits into two branches; L5 and L7.

L5 is the existing branch, but L7 is the new branch that includes a few sequences formerly misattributed to L5.

Even more exciting, the newly discovered haplogroup L7 has sub-branches too, including L7a, L7a1, L7b1 and L7b2.

In fact, haplogroup L7 has a total of 13 sublineages.

How Cool is This?!!

Haplogroup L7 is 100,000 years old. This is the oldest lineage since haplogroup L5 was discovered 20 years ago. To put this in perspective, that’s about the same time the first full sequence mitochondrial DNA test was offered to genealogists.

It took 20 years for enough people to test, and two eagle-eyed scientists to notice something unusual.

Hundreds of thousands of people have had their mitochondrial DNA tested, and so far, only 19 people are assigned to haplogroup L7 or a subgroup.

One of those people, shown as L7a* on the tree above, is 80,000 years removed from their closest relative. Yes, their DNA is hens-teeth rare. No, they don’t have any matches at FamilyTreeDNA, just in case you were wondering😊

However, in time, as more people test, they may well have matches. This is exactly why I encourage everyone to take a mitochondrial DNA test. If someone is discouraged from testing, you never know who they might have matched – or how rare their DNA may be. If they don’t test, that opportunity is lost forever – to them, to other people waiting for a match, and to science.

Are there other people out there with this haplogroup, in either Africa or the diaspora? Let’s hope so!

With so few L7 people existing today, it looks like this lineage might have been on the verge of extinction at some point, but somehow survived and is now found in a few places around the world.

Ancient DNA

One 16,000-year-old ancient DNA sample from Malawi has been reclassified from L5 to L7.

This figure from the paper shows the distribution of haplogroup L within Africa, and the figure below shows the Haplogroup L7 range within Africa, with Tanzania having the highest frequency. Malawi abuts Tanzania on the Southwest corner.

Where in the World?

Checking on the public tree at FamilyTreeDNA, you can see the new L5’7 branch with L7 and sub-haplogroups beneath.

We find L7 haplogroups in present-day testers from:

  • South Africa
  • Kenya
  • Ethiopia
  • Sudan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen
  • Tanzania

It’s also found in people who live in two European countries now, but with their roots reaching back into Africa. Surprisingly, no known African-Americans have yet tested with this haplogroup. I suspect finding the haplogroup in the Americas is just a matter of time, and testing.

The FamilyTreeDNA customers who are lucky enough to be in haplogroup L7 have had their haplogroup badges updated.

If you are haplogroup L at FamilyTreeDNA, check and see if you have a new badge.

Credit Where Credit is Due

I want to give a big shout-out to my colleagues and co-authors. Dr. Paul Maier (lead author,) Dr. Miguel Vilar and Goran Runfeldt.

I can’t even begin to express the amount of heavy lifting these fine scientists did on the long journey from initial discovery to publication. This includes months of analysis, writing the paper, creating the graphics, and recording a video which will be available soon.

I’m especially grateful to people like you who test their DNA, and academic researchers who continue to sequence mitochondrial DNA in both contemporary and ancient samples. Without testers, there would be no scientific discoveries, nor genealogy matching. If you haven’t yet tested, you can order (or upgrade) a mitochondrial DNA test here.

I also want to thank both Bennett Greenspan, Founder, and President, Emeritus of FamilyTreeDNA who initially greenlit the Million Mito Project in early 2020, and Dr. Lior Rauschberger, CEO who continues to support this research.

FamilyTreeDNA paid the open access fees so the paper is free for everyone, here, and not behind a paywall. If you’re downloading the pdf, be sure to download the supplements too. Lots of graphics and images that enhance the article greatly.

Congratulations to Mitochondrial Eve for this new branch in her family tree. Of course, her family tree is your family and mine – the family of man and womankind!

_____________________________________________________________

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Dad, I Hear Your Voice – 52 Ancestors #362

In the shifting twilight of consciousness late at night, between wakefulness and sleep, and in the morning between sleep and wake again, sometimes I hear his voice speaking softly to me.

Just the sound of his measured tones someplace in the distance is comforting to me.

I don’t want to wake up, because I don’t want to leave him – or him to leave me. I clutch desperately to the tendrils of that dream, if that’s in fact what it is.

Dad

My Dad.

Not the man who begat me, but the one who chose me.

The man who would sacrifice his life for mine.

Not just theoretically, but in actuality – and nearly did.

His words and actions come back to me.

And visit my soul, whispering in the mist.

Just like in this photo, where, if you squint, you can see Dad standing outside the back door on the sidewalk, a shape frozen in time.

He’s always in the mists and someplace nearby, trembling on the raggedy edges of my life.

Drifting in and out like wisps of smoke.

Reaching out to me when need be.

Even all these years after he departed…

He never departed my soul.

In fact, he’s grown closer with each year of missing him.

Daredevil

Young people judge their self-worth by those who love them.

By the words they hear and the actions they see.

Dad never told me I couldn’t.

He knew I would probably do whatever anyway, so instead, he helped me be a safe daredevil.

As safe as a daredevil can be.

As safe as a father can keep the second daughter after the first one already died.

With each passing year, I realize with increasing clarity what a trying teenager I surely was.

How he must have struggled.

When I started drag racing on a dirt strip with my brother, mother was furious for any number of very logical reasons. She had the best of intentions, but her approach didn’t work well with me.

Dad was concerned for my safety. I knew he wished I wouldn’t race. But instead of telling me why I shouldn’t, or that I couldn’t, he made sure my seat fit correctly and my seatbelt was snug enough. No full harnesses then and the helmets were archaic by today’s standards. He made sure my equipment was in the best possible condition and crafted my rollbar himself.

He taught me to be the best driver possible.

But Dads can’t keep their daughters safe forever.

Racing wasn’t the worst of it.

Better Me Than You

A few years later, I got tangled up with someone who, in Dad’s vernacular “did me dirty.” It was worse than that though – it was downright dangerous and abusive. The kind of relationship that women often don’t escape.

I knew the day Dad brought a gun home, for me, and took me out in the field to be sure I absolutely knew how to use it, that the situation was serious as a heart attack. As a farmer’s daughter, we had used shotguns for years. This was entirely different.

That’s when Dad matter-of-factly informed me that he was going out FIRST and under absolutely no circumstances was I to set one toe outside of that house without him at night. Dad never, ever gave me ultimatums.

I could race cars, but I couldn’t go outside?

Seriously?

I loudly complained, for a variety of reasons, but among them, that Dad might get shot, himself. I was speaking mostly in the abstract, being more-than-a-little argumentative, not fully grasping the gravity of the situation.

The situation had already escalated to the point where my tires had been slashed, then my vehicle set ablaze. Dad bought the gun for me the day we dug bullets out of the house.

He knew what was up, even if I didn’t.

When I expressed concern that he might get shot, Dad looked up from what he was doing and said to me, “Better me than you.”

A slight pause, maybe a breath, then, “I’ve lived a long life.”

It took a minute for that to soak in…

“But…but…but…Dad…”

He glanced at me, put his gun back in the inside pocket of his overalls where it lived those days, and said, very quietly and simply, “You’re worth it.”

You’re Worth It

My God. Could that man have told me he loved me any louder?

I stopped dead in my tracks.

My eyes filled with tears.

The silence was long and full of so much unsaid, and yet so meaningful.

That man, my step-father, who chose me as a young, mouthy teenager as part of a package deal when he married my mother would willingly lay down his life for me and planned to do so if I was in danger.

In my mind’s eye, I can see our two hearts being woven together, eternally.

Heartbreak

As a naive young woman, I was heartbroken over the lost relationship with that tire-slashing, arsonist male who was shooting at our house. My family had a name for him, several actually. I just can’t repeat any of them here.

I couldn’t figure out what I had “done wrong” and why the male in question was behaving that way.

Of course, NOW, with decades of reflection and experience under my belt, I know those answers, and they have nothing at all to do with me.

But at the time, I was young and felt horribly rejected, unworthy, and cast aside.

Mom explained just how jerky the male was being, which, unfortunately, simply caused me to attempt to defend the indefensible. That upset my mother further. She saw some very ugly handwriting on the wall.

Dad and I often sat outside in the backyard together, especially when it was hot inside. And it was always hot inside when Mom was upset😊

Sitting on Dad’s metal glider and chair, cleaning vegetables that had been plucked from the garden, Dad was patiently trying to explain to me that I had other options.

You’re Worth So Much More

I wasn’t paying much attention to what Dad was actually saying. I was more focused on what I could do to change said male’s mind, “fix” him, and was busily making excuses. Then vacillating back to being angry. One might say I was pretty much an emotional mess.

Dad countered with a statement, and I replied, between tears, “Yea, Dad, I know he’s not worth it.” Of course, a minute later I’d say something completely different.

Dad paused, probably incredibly exasperated, but it never showed in his voice.

Instead, he said thoughtfully and deliberately, with the utmost love, “That’s not what I said, Bobbi. I didn’t say he wasn’t worth it. I said you’re worth so much more.”

I sat there for a minute because, at first, I didn’t understand the difference. Then, suddenly, I did.

Dad continued, “It’s not about him, it’s about you. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. You’re going to do so much more with your life. Your future is in front of you. You’re going to accomplish amazing things and change lives.”

And then.

“This isn’t the end of your life. It’s the beginning. It’s a doorway, a passage to the future. Your future is not here, but I will always be with you wherever you go.”

This morning, in the shifting twilight of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, once again, I heard your voice and saw your smile.

I love you, Dad.

Happy Father’s Day.

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Edna Estes Miller (1920-1990), Sister: Once Found, Twice Lost – 52 Ancestors #361

Edna was my sister, but I didn’t know that for the first two decades of my life. Over time, I caught slight drifts that a sibling existed, in very vague terms, but nothing more.

Edna was listed in our father’s obituary as Mrs. Clifford Miller, but I didn’t see that obituary until I was 22 years old.

Finding Edna

I found Edna through a very odd combination of circumstances in 1978, only to lose her again in 1990.

What I wouldn’t give for those first two precious decades. I feel like I lost her twice – once through family circumstances and then, ultimately, to death.

Edna died unexpectedly. No time for preparation or goodbyes.

Edna and Clifford Miller, her husband, are pictured above in a photo taken in 1986 for their 50th wedding anniversary. This is how I remember her, except smiling. Edna was always smiling.

I was there that day, with them – one of the few life events we were able to celebrate together.

If you’re quietly thinking to yourself that there’s a BIG age difference between us, you’d be exactly right.

Edna’s story and mine are both messy, thanks in part to the same man – our father.

Edna and I were separated by many years and a lifetime we had missed. But we were joined by common bonds. Not only our blood relationship – we discovered many things we had in common and how much alike we were.

Edna Arrives!

Edna was born on May 22, 1920, the daughter of William Sterling Estes, known as Bill, and Martha Dodder.

Our father was in the Army and stationed at Camp Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan. Martha, shown above with an unidentified soldier, was a volunteer at the hospital there.

In August of 1919, my father was hospitalized as the flu epidemic swept through Camp Custer.

He thought he was dying – with good reason. He nearly did. He ran dangerously high fevers and likely had encephalitis.

Our father was hospitalized 3 times over that summer, the last time in August for 3 weeks. He wrote desperate letters to his sweetheart in Indiana, Virgie, who had rejected him. She simply stopped writing – ghosting as we call it today – probably the most painful rejection of all.

My father did plenty of boneheaded things in his lifetime, but it’s hard not to have compassion for a young man, just 17, far from home, gravely ill, and all alone.

Two of his grandparents had already died of that horrible flu, and the remaining two would just a few months later. He must have been terrified.

Martha was 5 years older than Bill and was born with a cleft palate. Edna was conceived about the time of his hospitalization, or immediately thereafter. I’m not sure who was comforting whom or the expectations within the relationship, but a few months later, my father had another new problem.

You see, Martha wasn’t the only female comforting my father. So was Ilo Bailey, who also became pregnant. I’m not sure if my father simply married the first of the two women who presented themselves “in a family way,” or if other factors were involved.

I have always suspected that he was still “waiting” for Virgie to come to her senses. For the record, he did marry Virgie, in 1961, more than four decades later, but I digress.

Father married Ilo Bailey in December 1919 and their baby was born in February 1920. Edna was born to Martha just three months later, in May of 1920.

At one point, it appears that both women showed up at the courthouse for the same proceeding. I bet that was something to behold! I would love to have been a fly on that wall.

Eventually, though, Ilo had enough.

In March of 1921, Ilo wrote a letter to my father who was still in the military, although at that time, in the brig, telling him she was leaving for Kentucky with their son and had filed for divorce. Ironically, that letter came to me through Martha.

On December 12, 1921, Bill married Martha Dodder.

The New Problem

Now, the couple had a new problem.

When Edna was born, Martha listed a different man as her father. Soon after they married, Martha and Bill filed to have Edna’s surname changed and have him listed as her father, stating that the birth certificate was incorrect. A “mistake” had occurred.

I could never understand why Edna’s birth certificate wasn’t filed in the clerk’s book and index with the other babies born in May of 1920. Instead, it was out-of-place, filed more than 18 months later. Now, with this additional information, the filing order makes sense. The father’s identification and name change had to be approved by the court and was in essence treated the same, in terms of the recording, as an adoption. The records were also sealed.

Edna’s original birth record lists her mother as Martha Dodder and her father as Edward Polushink. The baby’s name was listed as Edna Marie Polushink.

Why would Martha do that?

Of course, it’s possible that Martha wasn’t sure who the father was, but I thought, all things considered, it was more likely that my father talked her into that in order to keep him out of hot water with the military who frowned upon soldiers getting local girls “in trouble” and then marrying someone else. They probably would have doubly frowned on getting two women in trouble at the same time – and that was in addition to his indiscretions for which he was already confined to jail for 6 months in 1920. His escapades read like a very bad, or exceptionally good, novel.

I shook my head, thinking what a bad influence my father was on poor Martha.

Discoveries

Edna never knew most, if any, of this. I didn’t make most of these discoveries until after her death.

I don’t think Edna knew that her parents weren’t married at the time of her birth. While relatively common today, at that time, it was socially very awkward, horribly embarrassing, and humiliating. To put this in perspective, some photos of Martha’s children were taken beside a horse and buggy. I discovered that information when I visited the local archives and located Martha and Bill’s divorce file, which included their marriage date and location.

Of course, I didn’t yet know about Ilo Bailey, and that both women were pregnant at the same time. For Martha, that would have made the situation worse, much worse – and then he married the “other” pregnant woman, truly leaving her stranded. My heart aches for Martha!

I discovered the information about Edward Polushink on Edna’s birth certificate in the 1990s, not long after she passed. I was working in Calhoun County, where Edna was born, and on a fluke decided to visit the clerk’s office and request a copy of her birth certificate. That’s when I discovered the discrepancy and the odd filing date. The original entry in the index had been lined through, which was even more confusing. As it turns out, the employee in the clerk’s office was confused too, which is the only reason I was able to view the two index entries.

Why would one entry be lined out with a new entry recorded months later? An adoption or court-ordered amendment of the birth certificate – that’s why.

That information always made me wonder, but I certainly did not want to create additional family drama. Edna and her family had already been through enough and all of that past history was water under the bridge. Edna was gone and I loved her regardless.

Plus, I figured Edward Polushink was simply a created alias. I casually asked around and no one had ever heard of anyone by that name. Neither were there additional records for him. My Dad was the king of aliases and how to use them effectively. Yes, that’s surely what it was.

Years later, after a multitude of records began to be available online, out of curiosity, I checked that name once again. Much to my surprise, I discovered one Edward Palushnik, a forestry engineer, who arrived in Battle Creek, Michigan in May of 1919 to live with his brother at 25 Margerie Street. Additional research in the 1915 and 1918 city directory shows both men living at 25 Marjorie Street.

Further research shows that Edward was discharged from the military in June of 1919.

Hmmm, maybe Edna really WAS Edward’s child. Could this be?

Surely not. Probably just a coincidence, right? Even though it does place a man with a similar name in Battle Creek at the same time.

This really nagged at the genealogist in me.

Then, in the 1920 census, I discovered Martha living with her parents, quite pregnant in April, of course, at 23 Marjorie Street in Battle Creek.

OH! MY!

This is not a coincidence nor is Edward Polushink an alias.

Further research on Edward shows that he didn’t stay in Battle Creek. He married in September of 1921 in Wayne County, Michigan.

Talk about a can of worms!

The Divorce

My father and Martha had married in December of 1921, a year and a half after Edna’s birth, but that marriage didn’t last long.

On February 26, 1924, the divorce between Martha and Bill was finalized amid allegations of infidelity. He accused Martha of cheating which, even if true, knowing my father, probably fell into the category of the pot calling the kettle black.

She accused him of cruelty and alleged he was lazy and because of that, she had to work.

Reading the documents in that file was just painful. It became evident that Martha and Bill had a tumultuous marriage that probably should never have happened in the first place. It was abundantly clear that both people were miserable.

Martha filed for divorce in September of 1923. He did not contest the divorce and apparently, left.

I say “apparently left,” because…well…with my father, you never really know.

In May 1925, fifteen months after the divorce was final in February, a daughter was born to Martha who had not remarried. That child eventually had the surname of Lindsey, but I can’t help but wonder if my father was involved.

Hmmmm…

Whose child was born in May of 1925 and what surname did she use when the child was born, given what we discovered about Edna’s birth record?

In 1934, after the birth of three additional children, including one who died at 13 months of age, Martha married Marcus Lindsey as (at least) his 3rd wife. All of Martha’s children born after Edna carried the Lindsay surname, at least in adulthood.

Martha’s Death

Martha had a very rough life.

She died unexpectedly in January of 1943 at only 45 of a coronary occlusion. Her obituary said she had been ill for several months and had gone to stay with her sister for care. She left 3 young children at home ranging in age from 4 to 18.

I don’t have the details, but I know there was a great deal of “churn” surrounding Martha’s life, and Martha’s death.

Edna Grows Up

Edna was a joyful and beautiful child, raised for the most part by her mother and grandparents.

These photos were taken when Edna was 4.

By 1934 when Edna’s mother, Martha, married Marcus Lindsey, Edna would have been one of 4 children, the oldest at 14, and the only step-child. It’s not surprising that Edna married Cliff two short years later.

I don’t know exactly how or when Edna met Cliff. I do know that he was 8 years older than Edna, exactly 8 years – to the day.

Edna married Cliff on the third of July, 1936 in Howe, LaGrange County, Indiana, just across the Michigan/Indiana border – a Gretna Green type of destination with little or no wait to obtain a marriage license.

Yes, I do believe they eloped in Cliff’s car. She was 16. He was 24.

These grainy, sweet, photos were taken on their wedding day.

A year and a few weeks later, their first child arrived.

Cliff was always a hard worker – an industrious farmer who owned his own sawmill in addition to working at and retiring from Upjohn. A good provider, he was still a product of the time in which he was born and had specific expectations about what a wife, his wife, should and should not do.

Edna was 23 when her mother died, with three young children of her own – and expecting a fourth. Edna felt exhausted, orphaned, and alone.

Dad Visits Edna

Even though our father and Edna’s mother were divorced in early 1924, he never lost track of Edna entirely and had the habit of dropping in unexpectedly to visit people from time to time. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have been welcomed by Martha, but he found Edna as an adult about 1950 when he searched her out and stopped by their farm.

Edna was angry with him for his 20+ year absence in her youth and Cliff was none too happy either. He never trusted Bill.

Edna’s oldest daughter says she remembers his first visit when she was in the 7th grade. She came home from school and he was sitting at the kitchen table, talking to Edna who introduced him to her children.

After that, he visited regularly.

Edna took photos of our father with her kids in 1953. During that same visit, he took her photo standing between her two oldest girls.

I so love the mischievous expression on Edna’s face.

It was during that time that Mother met Edna. Only two years apart in age, they wrote chatty letters discussing their children and exchanged photos for at least a decade. Edna told Mom about the farm and that her oldest daughter was going to college. Mom told her that my (half) brother was going to barber school, that I was potty trained and my father had been ill.

We lived in central Indiana. Edna and Cliff lived in Michigan. Mom was busy with me and Edna was busy with several children, including a daughter of about the same age. In fact, then as well as years later, we could have been mistaken for twins. I’m at the right, below.

Both Mom and Edna had fond recollections of each other. Edna did not, however, feel fondly towards my father, and neither did my mother nor Cliff.

At some point, Mother and Edna met when I was young, likely accompanying my father at some point when he visited. Edna said she remembered me as a baby. I wish someone had snapped a picture.

I have no recollection of Edna in my life when I was young, but that’s probably because my parents separated when I was about 18 months old, Bill died a few years later, and both Edna and mother were extremely busy.

Father Died

Our father died in 1963 following an automobile accident. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but he bled to death from internal injuries. That’s not the whole story though. His death was actually a suicide. Edna never knew that either.

I don’t know if Edna attended the funeral, although I suspect not. Mother did not take me, probably simply because we didn’t have the gas money, although attending his funeral was something I really needed in order to accept that he was dead and never coming back. I was only 7. He was often gone for long periods, dropping in at will. It was natural for me to believe that we were just “waiting” and he would one day show up again. Except, that wait was forever.

As a young child, I adored my father, unaware that he left a trail of carnage and broken hearts behind him in terms of the women and children in his life.

Mother resented my father’s behaviors and the fact that he walked away from responsibility. She discovered the “other woman,” along with the “other child,” Dave, born just 5 months before me.

Yep, my Dad did it again – two women, both pregnant at the same time. You’d think he would have learned in the space of thirty-some years…but no!

To say Mother was furious, not to mention crushed and embarrassed is an understatement. Mother entered into that relationship with the intention of “forever.” Every other woman who had children with my father assuredly felt the same way, with the same set of expectations – living happily forever after. That never happened.

There weren’t hard feelings between Mother and Edna, but their letters became fewer and further between, then stopped. Edna had teenagers, then grandchildren and so did Mother. Plus, Mom worked and eventually remarried.

Growing up, I didn’t realize that I had a sister, although I don’t think it was actually a “secret.” It was more like a vague sense that drifted away in time.

Years later, when I actually read my father’s yellowed obituary clipping tucked into his American Legion hat with his tie and pin, the fact that another child, a sister, was listed hit me like a ton of bricks.

Finding Edna

I found Edna through a series of “coincidences” that served two purposes. Not only did I meet Edna, but I also accidentally became a genealogist.

I think both were my fate.

I knew little about my family on my father’s side. Truthfully, I knew nothing. My father’s family was from far-away Tennessee and my mother was not in contact with any of his relatives.

When I was pregnant and suddenly found myself out of a job (yes, they could do that back then), I decided I wanted to know a little more about my father’s family and had unexpected time on my hands.

My step-mother, Virgie, a lovely lady, was still living, but she didn’t know much about the Estes family.

Virgie provided me with my father’s obituary, along with his hat, tie and pin that she had been saving for me until I was an adult. In the obituary, Edna’s name was given as Mrs. Clifford Miller of Vicksburg, Michigan.

I was stunned.

I was immediately skeptical because there were several errors in Dad’s obituary. To begin with, my mother was listed as my father’s daughter and I was omitted entirely. I called Virgie and asked about that, and she said she didn’t know what happened, or why.

I now know that three other children were omitted as well. Or at least, people my father believed were his children.

Additionally, my father’s 4 full and 3 living half-siblings are omitted, and his half-sister is listed as his step-sister. But hey, it’s close, right?

Is it any wonder I was confused? What little I had been told didn’t line up with what I saw in writing. Did I really have a sister? Who was she?

Virgie suggested that I call my father’s family in Tennessee to sort things out and learn more.

Was that a solution or jumping from the frying pan into the fire? I recalled some of the things my mother had said, mostly in passing, about my father and his family. It also concerned me that Virgie didn’t know more. She was a lovely lady. Why was she not involved with these people – and why did none of them seem to care that my father had a daughter?

Hello, Operator?

After a day or so, I gingerly picked up the phone, dialed “0” for “operator” and asked for anyone with the Estes surname in Tazewell, Tennessee. That’s all I had, that one town name. The operator in Tazewell, a local lady, was extremely helpful.

She asked me “which Estes” I wanted to talk to. I told her that I wanted to find out about my family, and who my father’s family was. She said, “Oh, you need to talk to George,” and connected me. Uncle George, who was really a first cousin once removed, told me, among other things, that my aunts, my father’s sisters, were still living. I was dumbstruck. So was he – that I didn’t know about them. He gave me a phone number.

I connected with my elderly, somewhat eccentric aunts, whose favorite pastime it seemed was doing battle with each other. As it turned out, they knew “all about“ me and had a LOT to say, trying to outdo each other. They told me “stories” about siblings and such, some of whom did exist and some who may not. I’ve never been able to substantiate much of what they said, although it wasn’t all bunk either. It was then and remains difficult to sort the truth from the fiction.

I’m still waiting for that DNA surprise sibling I’m just sure must exist someplace!

A little more sleuthing netted me another phone number.

Finally, after an appropriate amount of grilling and questioning me, one of the aunts grudgingly gave me a phone number she said was my sister’s.

The aunts were masters of giving you almost what you wanted, but not quite. In this case, I received the phone number for one sister, but they would not provide information about other supposed siblings, although they made it very clear they had that information. I didn’t know this at the time, of course, but in retrospect, I was very fortunate to receive that one phone number and name.

I debated about calling. My mother was very uncomplimentary about my father’s family and that conversation with my aunts confirmed some of what she had said.

My grandparents had in essence abandoned my father and his brother. My grandfather was not a nice person. The aunts clearly suffered through similar situations from the same parents. They were manipulative enough that I was concerned about the rest of the family. Were they the same? Or worse? What was I getting myself into?

Did I REALLY want contact with this family, or did I just think I did? Maybe I just wanted to know about them, not know them.

Finding lost relatives is much like opening Pandora’s box. Once opened, it can never be closed. After much introspection and endlessly staring at the phone number written on that pad of yellow paper, I summoned all my courage and decided to call the woman who was supposed to be my sister. I picked up the receiver and dialed. There was no turning back now.

I finished dialing. I heard the phone ring on the other end.

My hands were shaking.

Ring…

What if she hung up on me?

Ring…

What if she was crazy?

Ring…

What if I was sorry?

Ring…

I knew, based on my mother’s very guarded behavior about my father, as well as comments that other people had made that this family was “difficult” at best. I had no experience with their flavor of “difficult” and was clearly outgunned.

Ring…

Was I making a huge mistake?

Ring…

Should I just hang up?

Ring…

The Phone Call

Cliff answered the phone.

“Hello.”

My voice was quivering.

I told him who I was and asked if his wife was the daughter of William Estes.

I sounded ridiculous and stumbled all over my words. I should have practiced.

He asked why I wanted to know and what I wanted.

This was not going well. I wasn’t prepared for this very direct question.

He was clearly NOT friendly.

I explained that I wanted to know about my family. He immediately sounded very “odd,” his voice quite strained. He paused, then told me to hang on a minute.

That was the longest minute ever.

Muffled shuffling and muted voices. I knew he had covered the phone with his hand.

A minute or so later, although it seemed like forever, Edna came to the phone. Increasingly nervous, I stuttered and stammered.

I’ve always disliked phones and phone calls.

I had the distinct sense that this was a one-time shot. No repeat if I somehow screwed this up.

Edna was nice and pleasant, and I finally relaxed a little. Her voice was soft and reassuring. I didn’t feel like she hated me from the onset.

We visited for some time and she told me that they were in the process of moving, and retiring to Arizona. Had I not called when I did, I would have missed them entirely and would probably never have been able to find them. They had sold the farm and were leaving that upcoming weekend.

That’s how close I came to missing Edna.

But that just-in-the-nick-of-time call wasn’t the oddest part. It turns out that I had actually been given the wrong phone number by the aunts. Was that intentional? I had repeated it back to them. However, in my nervousness, I had accidentally inverted those two “wrong” numbers when dialing, and had, by happenstance, reached the right number.

That “coincidence” still gives me cold chills.

Edna mailed me this 40th-anniversary photo of her and Cliff. I studied this picture to see if she looked like me.

I couldn’t tell.

It seemed and felt odd to have a sister that was my mother’s age.

Meeting Edna

Edna and I wanted to meet, so we decided that she and Cliff would stop by during their travels that summer, after my baby was born.

Cliff and Edna arrived a few weeks later pulling their 5th-wheel and camped in our driveway.

That was the first meeting of many. We bonded immediately and felt like we had always known each other. I was sad that they were moving so far away, but we made the best of the situation. We visited in person when we could, wrote letters, and talked “long distance” on the phone nearly every Sunday when they weren’t on the road.

Edna and I spent time getting to know each other, chattering like magpies, and cementing a permanent bond.

Both of us agreed that our mothers had done a pretty good job of raising us. She felt that she was much better off for not having been involved with our father…and she was probably right. She knew him as an irresponsible parent and had of course heard at least some stories from her mother and maternal grandparents. Edna had the advantage of having known our father as an adult herself.

He was taken from me when I still adored him as a child. I wasn’t old enough to comprehend that he caused the pain of his absence and was innocently ecstatic to see him again – just like an abandoned puppy waiting eternally for their uncaring human to return.

Hearing what Edna had to say as another of his children helped me understand the situation better. She also wasn’t speaking as an “X,” but as his child.

I understood why the trail of women he left, several with a child, felt so negatively towards him with his string of broken promises and betrayals. Edna, as a child was hurt by his absence too. Neither of us knew at that time about the horrific childhood he had endured and somehow survived.

I do believe he loved his children…just not in a responsible way. If he hadn’t, he simply would have never come back, risking slammed doors and outright rejection.

Perhaps the best thing about our father was us finding each other, like lost pieces of the same puzzle.

Common Ground

Edna and I discovered much common ground. Both of us had found our voices as artists.

Edna created beauty using lots of varied media. Her most incredible pieces were wood carvings and burnings.

I love her bird carving, shown here, but her creation I found the most moving was a carving that depicts 3 people of different races, white, black, and Native American, all looking upward to the same distant location in the sky. An exquisite spiritual piece, it spoke to my soul. I knew it emanated from hers.

Edna and I had more in common.

We had both raised orphaned animals. She was showing me photos in her family scrapbook and there was a picture of her with a young deer following her around. She then told me about bottle raising that orphan deer, and other animals as well.

My children and I rescued and raised orphaned and injured animals for years. How we both came to that rather unusual commonality is just another of those uncanny coincidences.

Some years later, one of my father’s nieces told me that in the 1940s when my father came to live with their family for a few weeks, he rescued a group of baby ducks. She and he, together, raised them. She said they had those ducks as pets on their farm forever until they died of old-duck age.

Our father wasn’t all bad.

Edna and I nurtured our new relationship and made up for the lost years as best we could. I was more the age of her kids, slightly younger than her youngest child.

We spoke nearly every Sunday. Phone rates were cheapest on Sunday and that’s when everyone made those expensive “long distance” calls. We visited when she and Cliff came back north in the summers. They wintered in Arizona and came home and “camped” in their 5th-wheel at the various kids’ and grandkids’ houses in the summer.

We always managed to get together at least once each summer.

We couldn’t talk during the summer months as much. Cell phones didn’t yet exist, at least not on a wide scale. Edna was great about writing letters though, and I wrote a few too. I loved those days of finding an envelope with her familiar handwriting in the mailbox. It always raised my spirits and was the highlight of that day.

After I began to fly with my career, I scheduled flights to connect through Phoenix so I could overnight with Edna and Cliff before catching my flight the next day. We saw each other when we could and never expected our time together to be so short. We always had the future in front of us to be enjoyed, and we certainly planned to do so.

I’ve often wondered what she told her kids before I met them. They always called me their “Baby Aunt Bobbi” because I was younger than all of them. I was welcomed always and made to feel like a family member. I never felt like I hadn’t been a family member.

The 50th Anniversary

One of my favorite memories is with the whole family.

For Edna and Cliff’s 50th wedding anniversary, the family held a big reunion picnic at one of the kid’s farms outside Battle Creek. We thoroughly enjoyed the day, did lots of good-natured teasing and visiting, and played volleyball in the large front yard between the tree-shaded circular driveway and the road. Edna and Cliff had 6 children – 5 of whom lived to adulthood and more than a dozen grandchildren. By their 50th wedding anniversary, they had several great-grandchildren too.

Friends were invited as well, so their 50th-anniversary celebration picnic was bustling, with cars and trucks parked up and down the road for half a mile or so. One man even arrived on a tractor.

I’ve never been a part of a large family, so this was something new for me. What fun, and I was saddened that I had missed so much for so long.

Edna’s sons and grandsons were busy grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. Everyone brought dishes for the buffet tables which lined the driveway in the shade beneath the huge maple trees, their leaves fluttering from time to time in the gentle breeze.

We all grabbed paper plates and enjoyed a wonderful summertime feast, sitting on scattered chairs and on blankets and quilts on the grass. Edna and Cliff, as the guests of honor, got to sit on folding chairs at a real table. They had very specifically said, “no gifts,” in the invitation, but people didn’t listen very well, me included. We “paid them no mind,” as we said on the farm.

A card table covered with a red and white gingham tablecloth held beautifully wrapped gifts and cards, many handmade.

I stitched a commemorative sampler celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary which corresponded with the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.

Cliff returned the sampler to me after Edna passed on. It was painful to him and he wanted to be sure I had it. Returning it was an act of love, but the day it arrived back home was one mighty sad day. When I made it, that possibility never occurred to me. I have now passed it on to one of her grandchildren who will, in turn, pass it on again.

Volleyball

After lunch at their anniversary celebration, someone erected a volleyball net.

The younger family members, of which I was then one, distributed themselves on opposite sides of the net and a good-humored but competitive series of volleyball games began.

Fourth of July weekend is hot. Between games, we all made beelines for the table with the cold drinks.

Several coolers held lemonade, iced tea, Koolaid, pop, Hi-C, and other cold treats. On the table with the cups, ice floated in a punch bowl with sliced fruit and some sort of red fruit punch. It looked luscious and icy cold. I filled a red plastic cup with ice cubes and ladled punch into the cup. I drank the whole thing in one long gulp, filled the cup, and did it again.

After each person had something to drink and cooled off a bit, we wandered back onto the front lawn, preparing to play another game of volleyball. It had sprinkled a bit while we were getting refreshments, and maybe a bit of dessert too, but the sun was out once again.

Someone served the ball and off we went.

The ball was coming straight for me. I had the perfect shot. I leaped my best Olympic leap into the air…

The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back, looking up at everyone in a circle, staring down at me.

“What happened?”, I asked.

Seems my family was wondering the same thing.

My nephew helped me to my feet and walked me to one of the tables with chairs. Edna and Cliff were concerned, although Cliff was laughing and Edna was poking him to stop.

I asked where my cup was and could someone please get me some more of that tasty red ice-cold punch. I thought I might be overheated.

My nephew looked at me skeptically. “How much of that red punch did you drink?”

“Two cups. It was really good,” I answered.

“Just now?”

“Yea, why?”

He started to laugh. Then he started to laugh so hard he was crying and couldn’t breathe. Cliff was guffawing.

He told me to sit still. He called his brother over and started telling him something. His brother started to laugh uproariously too.

I was irritated. I was still thirsty and wanted something more that was cold to drink. I stood up, only to sit back down again. I felt queasy.

Something wasn’t right.

One of my nephews finally went over to the table, I thought to bring me some more punch. He reached into the cooler and brought me something else to drink.

Then he picked up a mason jar from behind the punch bowl, out of sight, and brought it over to me.

“Know what this is?”, he asked.

It had a clear liquid in it that looked like water.

“No. Is it water?”

“It’s White Lightening,” he said.

My eyebrows shot up.

“Moonshine? Oh, I don’t want any of that. I just want some of that punch.”

“Ummm,” my nephew stammered, trying not to laugh, “You just had two cups of it.”

“WHAT???”

“Yep, the punch is spiked, heavily spiked” Cliff chuckled, “I thought you knew.”

“No more punch for you,” my nephew pronounced, “You’re relegated to lemonade or iced tea. And no more volleyball either.”

I remember smiling a lot the rest of that hazy afternoon. I sat close to Edna and Cliff so lots of people talked to me too, although I don’t remember much of what they had to say. I simply remember how happy I was, sitting with my sister.

Cliff bought Edna a beautiful new diamond ring which he presented to her, saying she deserved it for putting up with him for 50 years. Let’s just say it MIGHT have been me who laughed out loud and snorted my lemonade through my nose. White Lightening will do that to you!

I’m still laughing, sitting here writing about this today. So was Edna, then.

That’s such a good memory. Everyone had a lovely day.

Goulash

Other times, we’d just sit and visit wherever we were. It didn’t matter.

One time, I went to meet them someplace where they were camping and we made goulash. The only veggie she had in the camper was carrots, so our goulash had hamburger, macaroni, tomato sauce and mega-carrots. We laughed, but enjoyed cooking and eating together regardless of what it was or how many carrots.

I loved being with my sister. We thought we had forever.

Cancer

A year or so after the anniversary party, Edna called with some not-so-good news. She had cancer.

I froze.

That C word will stop you in your tracks and steal your breath. Cancer will steal life as you know it, if not life itself.

My chest tightened. I sat down before I fell down.

“Whhh – wwhat? Where?”

Very long pause.

“Breast cancer.”

“Oh God. NO! NOOOooooo…” I screamed.

I tried not to sob uncontrollably but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stop the tears.

Over the next two years, Edna underwent a double radical mastectomy and chemo. I didn’t see her during this time. Not only did they not return north, she didn’t feel like having company in Arizona. Fortunately, one of her children lived there and others visited from time to time to help.

It was living hell.

The surgeries and treatments didn’t just affect her breasts and chest, but her arms due to the extensive surgery to remove lymph nodes. The chemo made her deathly ill. We feared she would die as a result of or during the treatments.

We still talked on Sunday when she could and felt up to it. We planned for the future – where we would meet and what we would do. We talked about making crafts together, perhaps, or her favorite place in the mountains.

I would ask her opinion about things and she would share her wisdom.

Sometime in 1988 or 1989, she got the all-clear. Cancer free. What a horrific journey, but worth it. Life could resume, although Edna always seemed tired. She was quick to remind me that she was no spring chicken and everything she endured had aged her.

The House in the Mountains

Cliff and Edna had purchased land in the mountains near Tucson before Edna’s cancer diagnosis. After the all-clear, Cliff built a house, their dream retirement space. I know Edna missed the adults-only modular retirement community where they lived before, but they both loved the peaceful, beautiful mountains. Edna’s stamina was slowly returning, and just as soon as they got unpacked and settled in their new home, she wanted me to fly down and visit again. The drive back north was more than she felt she could handle.

I delayed that visit because I knew she was still struggling with the move and fatigue. I didn’t want to be a burden and as soon as she was finished getting settled, I would visit.

They decided to take shorter driving trips in their 5th-wheel, closer to home. In May of 1990, Edna went for a checkup with her oncology team in Tucson. When she got home, they decided to head out for a few days, someplace in the mountains.

Edna set about cleaning the house and packing. Cliff got the 5th-wheel ready. A day or so later, they took off.

June 1, 1990

On Saturday evening, June 1st, 1990, my husband and I went to dinner with friends.

When we returned home, there was a message waiting from Cliff that said Edna had a heart attack. I still remember with horror hearing that message. I rewound and played it again – unsure I had heard correctly. Maybe I had missed something.

After all those months of being chronically frightened, I had finally relaxed a bit, but apparently, too soon.

He left a phone number which I called immediately. The number was to the nurse’s station at the hospital and they went to find Cliff. There was no phone, they explained, in Edna’s ICU room.

ICU? My sister was in ICU? Those words and that realization struck me like an icy slap.

Cliff repeated that Edna had a heart attack, but that she was relatively stable now. Although she was understandably upset and in some pain, she was taking a positive view of the situation. I asked where they were and he said they were at a small hospital in the middle of noplace.

He didn’t know much more.

ICU. My sister was in ICU.

After talking to Cliff, I was very uneasy, although I couldn’t put my finger exactly on why. Cliff didn’t seem terribly worried and he was there in person. Why was I?

Who knows what “intensive care” was like in a little local hospital. Did they know what they were doing? Should she be transferred? Was she really mostly “OK’ or was she just putting on a brave face for Cliff? Did she not want me to know because I would worry? What caused the heart attack? Were diagnostic tests being run?

Of course, that was before widespread cell phones and one could not talk to patients in intensive care.

She wouldn’t have been in ICU if it wasn’t serious.

ICU. My sister was in ICU.

I needed to be there. For her and for me.

I called the airline and the first flight out was about 9 AM the following morning. I booked it and went to bed for a very restless night.

I couldn’t sleep.

The Next Morning

When I got up early in the morning, I decided to call the hospital to check on Edna before I left for the airport. Once I left the house, I was pretty much out of touch until I actually arrived in Arizona. I had rented a car for my arrival and wouldn’t be in touch with the family until I got to the hospital someplace in the mountains in the afternoon.

I talked to the nurse at the nurse’s station. It was 3 hours earlier in Arizona. She said Cliff was sleeping in the lounge. Back then, family members didn’t get to stay in the rooms with patients. The nurse told me that Edna was “resting comfortably” and was stable. That was certainly good news and made me less anxious and somewhat hopeful.

Between talking with the nurse and Cliff the night before, I got no indication that Edna might not recover. Everything seemed calm and routine, as routine as something like that can be. Edna was a survivor by all accounts. Cautious optimism was the watchword.

I should have felt reassured, and I was trying to.

Still, I just could not shake this feeling.

As I was talking to the nurse, I heard the speaker at the hospital. In fact, it was so loud, I couldn’t hear anything else. I still hear it in my dreams.

Code Blue

“Code blue, code blue” it screeched, “code blue.”

The nurse either dropped the phone or put it down. I wasn’t clear whether she was going to get Cliff or if she was responding to the “code blue.” The phone was a wall phone beside the table. I sat down in a chair at the kitchen table.

I understood all too well what “code blue” meant.

I waited, but I already knew.

I waited…and waited….and listened for any glimmer of hope.

Maybe I could hear something.

Maybe Cliff would come to the phone.

Maybe it wasn’t Edna who had coded.

In the pit of my stomach, I knew.

I wasn’t fearful, it was more like dead certainty. I have always called those events “knowings”, and they are never wrong.

I closed my eyes and waited as the hot tears slipped down my cheeks.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably more like 20 minutes, someone came back and picked up the phone. I don’t think it was the same person, but they probably saw the phone laying on the desk off the hook. They picked it back up and said, “Hello?”

Icy fingers gripped my heart.

I asked if it was Edna who coded. The nurse said she couldn’t tell me that. I asked again for Cliff who they said was “busy.” No doubt he was. Desperate for anything, I asked, “If it wasn’t my sister who coded, you would tell me that, right?”

She paused for a very long moment, then said “Yes, yes I would.” I can still hear her voice.

I asked if Edna was gone. Like before, she said she couldn’t tell me that…I would have to talk to Cliff, who was of course “busy.” So once again, I asked the same type of question.

“If my sister wasn’t gone, you would tell me, right?” Once again, she softly said, “Yes, I would.”

Edna was gone.

Somehow, I had known since the night before.

I have always wondered if she would have fared better had she been in a major metropolitan hospital, but none of that mattered anymore.

I vividly remember sitting alone at the kitchen table in the early dawn hours, struggling with what to do. I would liked to have asked Edna for her opinion, but that would never be an option again.

Should I go to Arizona anyway? A plane ticket and rental car were horribly expensive for a young family counting pennies, let alone dollars. With Edna already gone, it seemed an unnecessary expense.

In retrospect, I probably should have gone ahead and made the journey. At least I would have gotten to see her body one more time in person and not just in a photo. I could have supported Cliff and her 2 daughters who did manage to arrive in time. But I didn’t realize any of that in that moment. I still couldn’t talk to Cliff and I had to make a “go, no-go” decision.

The Real Struggle

The real struggle though was how to deal with the unexpected death of my sister. Edna was twice lost to me.

This all seemed so horrifically unfair.

It had only been a year or two since her mastectomy and chemo for breast cancer. We thought she was cancer-free, although I came to doubt that as did the rest of the family after her death.

Cliff told me that he thought she had been told the cancer had metastasized during her checkup in Tucson. That’s why she came home and wanted to leave immediately on a camping trip. One last time before she had to tell him about the cancer and go back for more treatments.

Or, maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t going to take any more treatments. I believe that’s the decision she was weighing.

If that was the case, her death by a comparatively quick heart attack was probably a blessing, an odd sort of cosmic gift.

Funeral Decisions

After her death in Arizona, the family was faced with the quandary of how to handle the funeral arrangements. Cliff discovered that transporting her body back to Michigan for burial would cost thousands of dollars. I just had cartoonish visions of Cliff pulling the 5th-wheel, with Edna in her casket, back home. Had they allowed that, I’m sure that’s exactly what he would have done, talking to her all the way.

The decision was made to cremate her remains, then bury the urn in Michigan.

On the day of Edna’s funeral, schedules and resource juggling worked out such that Bagel (our beagle) went to stay with a friend for the day, my former husband went sailing instead of with me to my sister’s funeral, which meant he needed the van. Edna never much liked him anyway.

That meant my daughter and I, just the two of us, drove my former husband’s convertible to the funeral service which was graveside at the cemetery. A very odd combination of grief and freedom.

It’s odd the things we remember. I felt kind of strange driving a convertible to a funeral. It seemed inappropriate. Then again, I know Edna would have had a good chuckle.

After the service, we all went to Edna’s grandson’s for refreshments. Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, there was no red punch, although everyone but everyone reminded me of that legendary picnic! We all laughed about that. I was so grateful to have had that time together to make priceless precious memories.

My daughter and I put the top to the convertible down and enjoyed the rest of the day, driving home. Just her and me. That too was a gift. The sun kissed our faces and the wind blew freedom through our hair and dried our tears.

Edna would have liked that. She was free too. A part of the wind.

The Service

Edna and I shared one more thing, our deep connection to the spiritual realm, Mother Earth, and her creatures. We shared Native American ancestors and embraced the Red Road, the Native lifeways.

We both felt a spiritual connection deep within our souls and gave it a voice in our art, the way we lived our lives, and our views of the Earth and our fellow creatures. We lived it, every single day.

As we gathered together in the cemetery for Edna’s farewell ceremony and looked out over the surrounding fields, a small dark spot appeared on the top of the distant hill.

The spot began to move towards us and shortly, we could see that it was either a large dog or a wolf or maybe a crossbreed between the two. The lanky canine came and joined us. Edna’s granddaughter, a veterinarian, called the dog over to sit down, and it did, just like any other attendee, facing forward and listening attentively.

Cliff had asked if I could read a poem that had been found tucked away in Edna’s Bible. I believe she had read it at the funeral of one of her two sons-in-law who had passed away.

I took a deep breath and began to read the poem through tears. The dog came to sit by me, pressing against my leg. I was crying too hard and couldn’t finish reading the poem.

Not knowing what else to do, I passed the sheet of paper to Edna’s grandson. The dog moved to sit by him as he read.

He couldn’t finish the poem either and handed the paper to his sister, the veterinarian, who was also holding her daughter in her arms. The dog moved beside her as she finished reading the poem.

It took three of us, and a dog spirit, perhaps embodying the spirit of all the animals who loved Edna too, but we got it done.

I had never had a sister before.

Her passing left an incredible gaping wound that has never been filled or completely healed.

Legacy

So, what are we left with?  Regrets and good memories.

I do regret that we didn’t find each other sooner and that our time on this earth together was only a short dozen years. She has been gone far longer than we had with each other, although our time together is still bright in my memory and seems both ageless and timeless.

I wish I had been able to spend more time with her. She invited me to see their new house several times, but I never went. I always expected to do it “soon” or someday and was waiting for the right opportunity to come along. I didn’t want to be an imposition. Someday isn’t a day on a calendar nor is it promised. I should have gone.

I regret not accepting a gift. Edna offered me some matchbook-size travel earring holders that she had made with plastic canvas and yarn. I did want one, but I didn’t want her to feel obligated to offer them to me after I had admired them, so I was reluctant to take one. She didn’t say anymore, and I’ve always regretted that I never accepted one and just said: “thank you.” She made them with her own hands and I would certainly cherish that today. I’ve always regretted that decision and I surely hope I didn’t hurt her feelings. Growing up poor and proud makes receiving anything difficult.

Edna provided an incredible amount of encouragement and inspiration. She was always my cheerleader and had more confidence in me than I did in myself.

She was never condemning or judgmental, but she was direct and said what she thought, and why. I always thought long and hard about whatever advice she proferred, and we often discussed why she felt the way she did. It was during those discussions that I learned about how both oppression and depression affect the lives of people, not just in one generation, but across many.

She laughed at life’s ups and downs and found amusement and humor in most places. She taught me to laugh at myself and view the world through the rose-colored glasses of humor. So much of life can’t be changed, but you can control your perception which in many cases determines your level of happiness.

For her conservative upbringing and lifestyle as a mother and farm wife, she was amazingly worldly and her opinions were ones not of repetitive tradition, but of thoughtful common sense. That book was not a product of the cover.

I made some exceedingly difficult, life-altering decisions and talked with her about each one.

She saw me through the tumultuous times associated with leaving Indiana and was always supportive of my decisions. She never doubted for one minute that I could and would succeed and assured me that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. It’s one thing when your parents tell you that – it’s quite another when someone else does.

Edna was firmly convinced that I didn’t need to have a man in my life, and the only reason a woman should ever marry (or otherwise take a partner) is because they want to. Never because society suggested that a woman needs a man in her life or a father for her children.

She advised against marrying the man I married, the one who couldn’t be bothered to attend Edna’s funeral to support his wife and daughter, although Edna supported my decision when I married him anyway. I wish I had listened because she was right. Her not-so-tongue-in-cheek recommendation was just to have some fun and not get too serious about much of anything.

She taught me about incredible courage in the face of devastation as she faced what needed to be done, bravely, with her mastectomies. A few years ago when I had breast surgery, I thought of her and knew that compared to what she underwent, mine was nothing. It’s because of her though that I’m extra vigilant. Yearly Mammograms are my friend.

Losing her at such a young age inspired me in yet another way. Edna was not thin. We don’t know what caused the blood clot that triggered her heart attack. It could have been cancer, which is known to cause blood clots, or it could have been related to her weight and related health issues. We have the same body type. I vowed to not repeat that pattern and took definitive action. I don’t want to follow in those footsteps if I can help it.

Edna loved her children and grandchildren intensely but suffered through some very difficult times with at least one of her children. Her understanding and sage advice continues to see me through a similarly devastating situation.

I am so grateful for her wisdom and that she so gracefully shared it with me.

Healing

The summer of 1990 served up several losses.

A couple of weeks after Edna’s death, my beloved cat, Savina, also passed on.

My step-father who I loved dearly was quite ill. We knew what was coming, just not when.

My marriage was shakey, although I didn’t realize quite how shakey it was at the time, and my children were teenagers experiencing their own trials and tribulations.

These deaths and transitions left me reeling with loss and facing the reality of mortality. Questions about what is important and about death itself reared their ugly heads.

It was years before I didn’t pick up the phone on Sunday “to call Edna” or conversely, thought, “Oh, I bet that’s Edna,” when the phone rang on Sunday afternoon.

In 1993, when my (then) husband had a massive stroke, my step-father died, and life further deteriorated, I desperately, desperately wanted to talk to my sister.

In August of 1990, my daughter and I took a week and went “up North” with Bagel the Beagle. We didn’t really have any planned destination. I was searching for some sort of peace and resolution.

My daughter was looking for a nice patch of sun on a beach. Bagel was just so happy to be with us.

I wrote and journaled every day and discovered a way to talk to Edna. I wrote reams, and designed two commemorative art pieces for her, which I later stitched.

One, titled “Proverbial Sampler”, is shown here. The bear paw design is a wink and a nod to our shared heritage and spirituality. Please take a minute and read the sayings behind the design. They say it all.

Edna is often with me, especially during creative or difficult times. I’ve learned to feel her presence. She is never far.

I realized in retrospect that she was with us at her funeral, via the dog, and that she is indeed with us if we need her, or just for company at other times. It’s not her presence or absence that’s the issue, but our ability to sense her spirit.

Of course, I still missed her, but I didn’t feel quite so abandoned and alone. I learned to love her in a new and different way.

The last part of the poem we read at her funeral sums it up pretty well.

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Honors and Accolades – Thanks to You!

Before I share the good news, I’d like to thank you, my readers and followers – my tribe – for being my fans.

For reading what I write and watching what I produce. For sharing your thoughts. For inspiring me with your stories and questions. For supporting me.

It’s because of you that I’m privileged to write this article about recent honors and accolades.

Three, to be specific, or four, depending on how you count.

I’m truly humbled.

All three notifications arrived in my inbox within a few days this past week, which also corresponded to a difficult death anniversary in my family, so I really needed this boost.

Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Genealogy Websites

Family Tree Magazine compiles an annual best of the best list of 101 genealogy resources for genealogy enthusiasts to research our family trees.

I’m very pleased that DNAeXplained is included again this year.

You can see the full list of honorees, here and you can click on each category to learn more.

I encourage you to try something new.

How many of these sites have you never utilized? What might be waiting for you? Do you have a particularly thorny brick wall that needs to fall?

Maybe some of these resources don’t pertain to your areas of research, but others may.

You might have used some in the past but need to check back occasionally.

For example, DeadFred. You could find photos of your long-lost relatives, and you can also submit orphaned photos there as well.

You know I’m already searching for the surname of every ancestor in my tree that died after the advent of cameras in the mid-1800s! If not them, then maybe their children or siblings. Hope springs eternal!

I’m going to try one new website from the Family Tree Magazine list every day.

Which resource are you trying first? Let me know how it goes and if you find something fun.

Legacy Family Tree Webinar’s Top 10

I received an email from Geoff Rasmussen with Legacy Family Tree Webinars announcing that my webinar, Wringing Every Drop out of Mitochondrial DNA ranked number 5 in the top 10 webinars for May.

Truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised because mitochondrial DNA has often been the “neglected” DNA that we all carry. Hopefully, that “neglected” status will change and more people will test now that they understand how beneficial this tool can be, which means additional and more meaningful matches for all of us.

More than 2,200 people have viewed this webinar so far and received the extensive companion syllabus.

You can watch too by joining Legacy Family Tree Webinars, here, which gives you access to all 1787 webinars, and counting. New webinars are literally added daily, and you can register to watch live webinars along with recently recorded webinars for free for the first 7 days. Take a look.

If you haven’t yet tested your mitochondrial DNA, please do by clicking here.

By taking a mitochondrial DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, you’ll also become a part of the exciting Million Mito Project which is literally rewriting the history of womankind.

 E-book Release and Lovely Book Review

I received a note from my publisher, Genealogical.com, who is also on Family Tree Magazine’s “Best Of” list again this year, telling me that my book, DNA for Native American Genealogy has been released as an e-book AND has received a major book review by Dr. Margaret McMahon. I think this should count as two really good things, not just one.

I wrote about the contents of my book, here, but Dr. Mac, as she is known, summed things up succinctly in her statement, “This book picks up where the theories end and your work begins.”

That was my goal, to educate my readers, explain the various tests and results, and provide a research roadmap. Do you have a family story of a Native American ancestor? Are you looking for answers?

Dr. Mac’s book review corresponds well with the recent release of the book in e-book (e-Pub) format. Here’s how to order:

Thank You, Thank You

Once again, thank you for your continuing support. I’ll have more interesting news soon!

_____________________________________________________________

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You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

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Genealogy Books

Genealogy Research

Find a Grave (Owned by Ancestry), Seriously, JUST STOP Incentivizing the Creation of Memorials of the Recently Deceased

I’ve been horrified, as has any sentient being, about the massacre in Uvalde, Texas.

I’ve also been increasingly furious these past few days because the practice of awarding “points” by Find a Grave, owned by Ancestry, to people who create memorials is making an already horrific situation much worse for traumatized families whose members perished.

THESE CHILDREN AREN’T EVEN BURIED, yet a non-family member rushed to create memorials for them, including photos and other family details lifted from news articles and other sources! We won’t even mention the copyright violations that Ancestry/Find a Grave consistently chooses to ignore.

This vampiristic death-gathering and memorial-creating behavior isn’t limited to the Uvalde massacre, it’s Buffalo and other victims of mass killings in addition to people who die of natural causes every day.

The same thing happened with one of my immediate family members a few years ago, and I still remember the shock of discovering her via a “hint” in the midst of grief.

Before I continue, I’d encourage you to read Judy Russell’s blog article, Ancestry, this one’s on you, but come back here when you’re done. Judy is on FIRE about this one, and with good reason.

Ancestry’s Failed Policy

Ancestry’s supposed policy of showing limited information about a memorial unless the creator is an immediate family member obviously had a major fail given that Judy was able to take screenshots of the memorial of this recently murdered child.

After a rather loud and persistent outcry from the community, back in January Find a Grave decided to redact some information for 3 months after a death. Yet, the memorial remains in place for the family to find. Ancestry does NOT prevent the creation of these memorials for bounty points.

This situation should never have happened in the first place and has been ongoing with incredible foot-dragging by Ancestry FOR YEARS! It’s just in our faces again with the Uvalde and other recent high-profile mass murders.

Even with the photo and some information hidden, for now, the Uvalde victims’ memorials are still listed. The one above is the same child’s memorial as in Judy’s article.

Even after eventually transferring the memorial to a family member, the original creator is always still listed. Unfortunately, this practice of awarding points and forever listing the “creator” by Ancestry encourages and incentivizes “trophy hunting.”

Here’s an example from one of my immediate family members.

You can then click on the name of the creator or the “maintainer,” which is me in this case, and see their stats. Here’s mine.

Notice that in Judy’s original screenshot, you could see the Find A Grave identity of the person who created that child’s memorial. However, Find a Grave has chosen to “protect” that person in the redacted version by not showing the creator’s identity. So we don’t know who collected that bounty point.

This is not a new issue. Ancestry/Find a Grave has not and is not acting expediently to resolve the situation. In fact, the “situation” doesn’t have to exist at all.

Take a look at this complaint board about Find a Grave. These issues pepper the genealogical community on social media, day after day after day.

Why Is This Happening?

This occurs because Ancestry displays the number of memorials created by volunteers. Some people spend their time finding obituaries and death announcements and creating memorials for people as soon as they die in order to rack up points, like a game.

The problem is that finding your loved one’s memorial, often with incorrect information, created by a stranger is unexpectedly jarring, at best. Especially to discover that your family member was only a trophy harvest whose memorial was created hours after they died. Then, having to ask (sometimes beg an unresponsive person) for the transfer of their memorial to you, only to have the creator’s name forever associated with the memorial adds insult to injury.

I’m not referring here to a volunteer who lives locally and “takes care” of local cemeteries, like the person who created memorials for my parents months after they were buried, not hours after they died. Most of those people are respectful, kind, and pleasant to deal with. They provide their services out of the kindness of their heart AFTER giving the family a respectable amount of time. Those ARE NOT the people I’m referring to.

Those lovely local volunteers aren’t the mega-harvester people searching online funeral home listings morning and night for new points to score. That is NOT a service to anyone except themselves, and oh yea, Find a Grave/Ancestry who can then serve up hints to Ancestry subscribers and garner page views.

Ancestry clearly wants to keep those harvesters engaged but to the detriment of the actual genealogists who subscribe to Ancestry’s services. That’s a mighty high price leveraged on the backs of their customers. And let’s face it, sooner or later, everyone’s parents, siblings, or (God forbid), children pass away. Ancestry is rewarding people to further torture the grieving. Every grieving person needs a respectable amount of time and space. Ancestry, of all companies, should be sensitive to this.

What Needs to Be Done?

I’m not privy to any inside information, but I believe that originally Find a Grave, before it was purchased by Ancestry, began listing memorials and other stats to encourage volunteers to document and photograph cemeteries to assist genealogists. That was the original purpose.

However, that purpose has morphed into something very different. Ancestry has the agency, and responsibility to put the brakes on.

Ancestry needs to:

  1. Stop awarding points like trophies, at least publicly.
  2. Remove the name of the original creator when the memorial is transferred to a family member.
  3. Prevent anyone except close family members from creating memorials for minimally 90 days and I’d suggest a year.

I wasn’t done with my mother’s estate for at least a year and wasn’t ready to deal with seeing her photo and obituary online until then.

And if that was my child, OMG.

Who in their right mind would think that entering those massacred children into Find a Grave immediately was acceptable by any criteria? Any standards of decency? And why would Find a Grave tolerate this for even a minute? Death is traumatic for family members under the “best” of circumstances and it only goes downhill from there.

And this is clearly the worse of circumstances.

While the individuals who created those memorials before the bodies were even cold were insensitive, and that’s the best spin I can put on it, Ancestry is the only one who can, should, and has the responsibility to stop this. And they have, so far, been unwilling.

It’s time for every single one of us to speak up. Bloggers and influences as well as the rest of Ancestry’s customers. We can all be influencers.

Use Your Outside Voice

Ok, bloggers and social media people – use your voices. We have even more influence cumulatively, together, as a chorus, than individually.

I do need to provide a word of warning though, especially to bloggers and other professionals.

Ancestry is punitive if you don’t always write positively about them. They will pull your affiliate account if you have one. They will exclude you from influencer calls, meetings, and related events at conferences. I’m guessing Judy and I will be enjoying snacks in the restaurant while those meetings are taking place. I encourage you to join us. It’s worth it to do the right thing.

You don’t need to be a blogger to have an influence. Everyone has a voice. Here are several things everyone can do.

Ancestry’s CEO

Deborah Liu was named Ancestry’s CEO in February 2021. She can fix this with one call or email.

This would be a good Twitter thread to reply to:

Based on Deborah’s social media photos, she has children. Ask her how she would feel if her children were massacred, and some unknown trophy hunter created their memorial as soon as their name was available. Would she feel violated? Crushed? Robbed of the opportunity to provide that caring act for her precious family member when she was ready?

God forbid this would ever happen to Deborah or her family, but if it did, this problem would be remedied in about 30 seconds.

Deborah may be “mourning with them,” but she is increasing the grief of countless people by failing to remediate Ancestry’s company policy. Furthermore, she, assuredly, is not following the Golden Rule by “doing unto others.” As if just doing the “right thing” isn’t enough reason alone.

Here’s the Biblical reference, if she needs it:

Matthew 7:12 (International Version), “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Perhaps Deborah didn’t know before, but let’s make absolutely positively sure she knows now!

Other Resources

Here’s a list of other places you can place comments and make yourself heard!

Let’s be that squeaky wheel and get results. Be respectful, but be sure to remind Ancestry that you are a PAYING customer when you call.

Ancestry, it’s way past time to step up.

William Crumley’s Original 1792 Will Surfaces – 52 Ancestors #360

Sometimes late at night, just before I go to bed, I check MyHeritage for Record Hints and Ancestry for those little green leaf hints.

One recent midnight, I noticed a hint at Ancestry for William Crumley II. Of course, I have to have three William Crumley’s in a row in my tree.

Clicking on this hint revealed West Virginia Wills.

Of course, the first thing I noticed was that West Virginia wasn’t formed as a state until 1863, but I also know that counties and their earlier records “go with” their county into a new state. Berkeley County was formed from Frederick County, Virginia in 1772.

However, William Crumley II died between 1837 and 1840 in Lee County, Virginia, so I wasn’t very hopeful about this hint. Nonetheless, I clicked because, hey, you never know what you might discover. That’s why they’re called hints, right?

Hint 1 – The Will Book

I discovered the Berkeley County Clerk’s Will Book where William Crumley the first’s will had been dutifully copied into the Will Book on pages 185 and 186 after it was “proved” in court by witnesses on September 17, 1793. Witnesses who proved a will swore that they saw him sign the original and the will submitted was that same, unmodified, document.

This William Crumley is not William Crumley II, where this hint appeared, but his father, who did not have this hint.

I’ve been in possession of that will information for several years, so there was no new information here.

While I always read these wills, even when I have a typewritten published transcription, I know that the handwriting and the signature is not original to the person who wrote the will. The handwriting is that of the clerk.

To begin with, the signature of the deceased person can’t possibly be original after he died. William’s will was written and signed on September 30, 1792, almost exactly a year before it was probated on September 17, 1793. William was clearly ill and thinking about his family after his demise.

Given that court was held every three months, William likely died sometime between June and September of 1793.

I really wish Ancestry would not provide hints for a 1792/3 will for a man who died between 1837 and 1840.

My ancestor, William II who died in about 1840 is at least mentioned in his father’s will as a child. However, if I saved this will to William II from this hint, Ancestry would have recorded this event as his will, not the will of his father, so I declined this hint. I did, however, later connect this document to William I, even though Ancestry did NOT provide this document as a hint for him.

Hint 2 – 1764 Tax List

I clicked on the next green leaf hint for William II. A tax list for 1764. Nope, not him either given that William II wasn’t born for another three years.

Next.

Hint 3 – Executor’s Bond

Something else from Berkeley County attached to the wrong person, again.

Bother.

What’s this one?

Executor’s bonds for William Crumley’s estate who died in 1793. Now this is interesting because the bond includes the signatures of the executors, including William’s wife Sarah. I got VERY excited until I remembered that Sarah was William’s second wife and not my ancestor.

Not to mention this record dated in 1793 is still being served up on the wrong William Crumley – the same-name son of the man who died in 1793.

Worse yet, these hints did NOT exist on the correct William Crumley the first who I wrote about, here.

Ok, fine.

There’s one more hint for William II before bedtime.

Hint 4 – Berkeley County AGAIN

What’s this one?

I saw that it was from Berkeley County and almost dismissed the hint without looking. By that time, I was tired and grumpy and somewhat frustrated with trying to save records to the right person and not the person for whom the hints were delivered.

Am I EVER glad that I didn’t just click on “Ignore.”

Accidental Gold

Staring at me was the ORIGINAL WILL of William Crumley the first in a packet of Loose Probate Papers from 1772-1885 that I didn’t even know existed. I thought I had previously exhausted all available resources for this county, but I clearly had not. I’m not sure the contemporary clerks even knew those loose records existed and even if they did, they probably weren’t indexed.

Thankfully, they’ve been both scanned and (partially) indexed by Ancestry. They clearly aren’t perfect, but they are good enough to be found and sometimes, that’s all that matters. I’d rather find a hint for the wrong person so I can connect the dots than no hint at all.

My irritation pretty much evaporated.

There’s additional information provided by Ancestry which is actually incorrect, so never presume accuracy without checking for yourself. The date they are showing as the probate date is actually the date the will was executed. If I were to save this record without checking, his death/probate would be shown as September 30, 1792. That’s clearly NOT the probate nor William’s death date.

Not to mention, there were many more than 3 additional people listed in this document. There was a wife, 15 children, and the 4 witnesses to the will itself. I actually found another two names buried in the text for a total of 22 people.

Always, always read the original or at least the clerk’s handwritten copy in the Will Book.

Originals are SELDOM Available

I’ve only been lucky enough to find original wills in rare cases where the will was kept in addition to the Will Book copy, a later lawsuit ensued, or the will surfaced someplace. The original will document is normally returned to the family after being copied into the book after being proven in court.

For some reason, William’s original will was retained in the loose papers that included the original estate inventory as well. That inventory was also copied into the will book a couple of months later. Unfortunately, I’ve never found the sale document which includes the names of the purchasers.

Normally, the original will is exactly the same as the clerk’s copy in the Will Book. It should be exact, but sometimes there are differences. Some minor and some important. The will book copy is normally exact or very close to a copy transcribed by someone years later. Every time something is copied manually, there’s an opportunity for error.

Therefore, I always, always read the will, meaning the document closest in person and in time to the original, just in case. You never know. I have discovered children who were omitted in later copies or documents.

In his will, William stated that he had purchased his plantation from his brother, John Crumley. Their father, James Crumley had willed adjoining patented land to his sons, John and William. I was not aware that William had purchased John’s portion, probably when John moved to South Carolina about 1790.

William states that his plantation should be sold by the executors. The purchaser was to make payments but the land “not to be given up to the purchaser till the 26th of March in the year 1795 which is the expiration of John Antram’s (?) lease upon it.” It’s unclear whether William was referring only to the plantation he purchased from John, or if he’s referring to the combined property that he received from his father and that he purchased from John as “his plantation.”

This also tells us that William clearly didn’t expect to live until the end of that lease. The fact that the land was leased was probably a result of his poor health even though he wasn’t yet 60 years old. This also makes me wonder how long he had been ill.

William also explicitly says he has 15 children, then proceeds to name them, one by one. Unfortunately for everyone involved, William’s youngest 10 children were all underage, with the baby, Rebecca, being born about 1792.

William probably wrote his will in his brick home, above, with a newborn infant crying in the background. Sarah, his wife must have been distraught, wondering what she would do and how she would survive with 10 mouths to feed, plus any of his older children from his first marriage who remained at home. The good news, if there is any, is that the older children could help. Sarah was going to need a lot of help!

I surely would love to know what happened to William.

I can close my eyes and see the men gathered together, sitting in a circle that September 30th in 1792. It was Sunday, probably after church and after “supper” which was served at noon. William might have been too ill to attend services.

Maybe one man was preparing a quill pen and ink at a table. William spoke thoughtfully, perhaps sitting on the porch or maybe even under the tree, and the man inked his feather and wrote. You could hear the feather scratch its way across the single crisp sheet of paper. William enunciated slow, measured words, conveying his wishes to the somber onlookers who would bear witness to what he said and that, at the end, when he was satisfied, they had seen him sign the document.

From time to time, someone would nod or clear their throat as William spoke. At one point, the scrivener made a mistake and had to scratch out a couple words. Or perhaps, it wasn’t the scrivener’s error. Maybe William misspoke or someone asked him if he really meant what he said. It’s heartbreaking to write your will with a house full of young children. He knew he was dying. Men of that place and time only wrote wills when they knew the end was close at hand.

Of course, we find the obligatory language about Sarah remaining his widow. He tried to provide for Sarah even after his death. Sarah was 15 years or so younger than William and died in 1809 when she was about 59 years old. Her baby would have been about 17 years old, so she was about 40 or so when William wrote his will and died, with a whole passel of kids.

William appointed one David Faulkner, probably related to his brother John’s wife, Hannah Faulkner, along with his wife, Sarah Crumley, as his executors. Sarah’s stepfather was Thomas Faulkner, who was also her bondsman. David may have been her brother, so William probably felt secure that Sarah’s interests would be looked after.

The selection of executors may tell us indirectly that son William Crumley II had already left for the next frontier, Greene County, TN. William II was listed on the Berkeley County tax list in 1789, but not again, suggesting he had already packed up and moved on, probably before his father became ill.

But here’s the best part, on the next page…William Crumley’s actual original signature.

I wonder if this was the last time he signed his name.

Signature Doppelganger

It’s extremely ironic that the signature of his son, William Crumley the second, looks almost identical to the signature of William the first, above. We know absolutely that this was the signature of the eldest William, and we know positively that later signatures in 1807 and 1817 in Greene County, Tennessee were his son’s.

This nearly identical signature of father and son suggests that perhaps William Crumley the eldest taught his son how to write.

The family was Quaker. We know William’s father, James Crumley was a rather roudy Quaker, and William the first married Quaker Sarah Dunn in 1774, after his first wife’s death. That marriage is recorded in the Quaker minutes because Sarah had married “contrary to discipline” which tells us that William Crumley was not at that time a Quaker, or had previously been dismissed.

Quakers were forbidden from many activities. If you were a Quaker, you couldn’t marry non-Quakers, marry a first cousin, marry your first spouse’s first cousin, marry your former husband’s half-uncle, administer oaths, do something unsavory like altering a note, purchase a slave, dance, take up arms, fight, game, move away without permission, encourage gambling by lending money, train or participate in the militia, hire a militia substitute, attend muster, or even slap someone. Every year, several people were “disowned” for these violations along with failing to attend meetings, failing to pay debts, moving away without settling business affairs, or helping someone else do something forbidden, like marry “contrary to discipline.” Heaven forbid that you’d attend one of those forbidden marriage ceremonies or worse yet, join the Baptists or Methodists!

It’s unknown if William returned to the Quaker Church although it’s doubtful, because in 1774 Sarah is listed as one of the persons “disowned” for marrying him, and there is no reinstatement note or date. Furthermore, in 1781, William was among the Berkeley County citizens who provided supplies for the use of the Revolutionary armies.

One certificate (receipt) dated September 30, 1781 indicated that he and three others, including his wife’s brother William Dunn and her stepfather Thomas Faulkner were entitled to 225 pounds for eleven bushels and a peck of wheat.

We also know that William Crumley owned a slave when he died and Quakers were prohibited from owning slaves based on the belief that all human beings are equal and worthy of respect. Regardless, many Quakers continued to own slaves but purchasing a slave, at least at Hopewell, caused you to be “disowned.”

Still, William may have sent his children to be educated at the Quaker school given that the Quaker school was the only educational option other than teaching your children yourself. Quaker schools were open to non-Quaker children. We know, based on the books ordered in the 1780s for local students in multiple languages that the school was educating and welcoming non-Quaker children too.

The Hopewell Quaker Meeting House (church) built an official schoolhouse in 1779, but it’s likely that school had been being conducted in the Meeting House before a separate school building was constructed. By that time, William Crumley the second would have been 12 years old and had likely already been taught the basics, perhaps by his father.

Of course, the William Crumley family at some point, probably in 1764 when William’s father James Crumley died, if not before, had moved up the road and across the county line to Berkeley County which was about seven and a half miles from the Hopewell Meeting House (and school). That was quite a distance, so William the first may have been instructing his own children, making sure they knew how to read and write and sign their names.

No wonder his son’s signature looks exactly like his.

Education and the Hopewell Meeting House

In 1934, the Hopewell Friends History was published to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the church which provided a great deal of historical information about the church itself, that part of Frederick County and the Quaker families. Unfortunately, the notes from 1734 to 1759 were lost when the clerk’s home burned, along with most of the 1795 minutes later.

Based on his will, William clearly placed a very high value on education. He instructed that his “widdow Sarah Crumley shall rays my children together to give them learning out of the profits that arises from my estate, the boys to read, write and cifer, the girls to read and write.” Apparently, females weren’t perceived to need “cifering.”

William himself would have attended school at Hopewell after his family moved from Chester County, PA in 1744 when he was 9 or 10 years old.

William’s children, following in his footsteps, may well have attended the Hopewell School or perhaps another brick school that existed near White Hall, about halfway between The Crumley home and the Hopewell Meeting House, although it’s unclear exactly when that school was established.

Many Quakers mentioned in the 1800s in the church notes are buried at what is now the White Hall United Methodist Church on Apple Pie Ridge Road. The earliest burial there with a stone is 1831 which seems to be when headstones began to be used in the area.

William also directed his funeral expenses to be paid, of course, and his executors sold a steer to pay for his coffin.

It’s doubtful that William is buried here, in the Hopewell Cemetery, unless he reconciled with the church. William’s parents are most likely buried here. His father, James, died in 1764 and his mother, Catherine, died about 1790. William would have gazed across this cemetery as a child attending services and stood here during many funerals, possibly including the service of his own first wife, Hannah Mercer, and perhaps some of their children.

I wonder if it ever occurred to him as a child that he might one day rest here himself.

No early marked graves remain before the 1830s, but people had been buried here for a century in unmarked graves by that time.

I can’t help but think of William the first, as a child, probably attending school in this building, peering out these windows, after his family moved from Pennsylvania in the early 1740s. He worshiped here on Sundays. Perhaps his son, William II and his older children attended school here some three decades later.

This stately tree in the cemetery was likely a sapling when William was a young man.

Given that William seems to have left the Quaker Church, willingly or otherwise sometime before 1774 and probably before 1759, it’s much more likely that William is buried in the cemetery right across the road from his home in an unmarked grave adjacent and behind what is now the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church.

I don’t know, but I’d wager that this is the old Crumley family cemetery.

Perhaps William was the first person to be buried here, or maybe his first wife or one of his children. His brother, John, may have buried children here too.

Almost Too Late

Thank goodness William’s original will was microfilmed when it was, because the pages were torn and had to be carefully unfolded and repaired. William’s will might have been beyond saving soon. After all, his will had been folded several times and stored in what was probably a metal document box, just waiting to be freed, for more than 225 years.

There is information on these original documents that just isn’t available elsewhere.

It’s interesting to note the legal process that took place when wills were brought to court when someone died. The clerk wrote on the back of the will, below William’s signature, on what would likely have been the outside of the folded document that the will had been proven in open court (OP), he had recorded and examined the will and that the executors had complied with the law and a certificate was granted to them.

I believe the bottom right writing is No. 2 Folio 185 which correlated to the book and page.

It’s nothing short of a miracle that William’s original will still exists and got tucked away for posterity. I’m ever so grateful to Mr. Hunter, that long-deceased Clerk of Court who is responsible for resurrecting William’s signature, the only tangible personal item of William’s left today, save for a few DNA segments in his descendants.

Flowers, looking into the window of the Hopewell Meeting House.

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Ancestry’s SideView™ – Dividing Your Ethnicity in Two

Recently, Ancestry introduced a new view of your ethnicity called SideView™. In a nutshell, AncestryDNA uses your DNA matches to attempt to divide your ethnicity into regions inherited from Parent 1 and Parent 2.

Based on your matches and the common DNA they share with you, Ancestry strives to divide your ethnicity into parental “sides,” although Ancestry can’t tell you which side is maternal and which side is paternal.

Even though Ancestry can’t tell you which side is which parent, there are tricks that might help you do just that.

Ethnicity

Before we look at SideView, let’s have a quick review of ethnicity estimates and how they do and don’t work.

Every vendor creates their own proprietary mathematical algorithm to determine their customers’ ethnicity or population percentages based on their own customer database and other resources.

“Country” boundaries change and people migrate. The article, Making Sense of Ethnicity Updates may be helpful.

If you haven’t done so, create a spreadsheet or chart identifying the amount of DNA you would inherit from each ancestor if exactly 50% of each ancestor’s DNA was passed down in each generation. Your spreadsheet may/will help you identify which “side” belongs to which parent. I provided instructions for calculating your expected ethnicity percentages based on your genealogy in the article, Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages.

My Genealogy

I’ve updated my genealogy totals slightly since that 2017 article because I’ve been able to push some of those lines back in time, either genealogically, via Big-Y or full sequence mitochondrial DNA testing and matching, or a combination of both.

Here’s an updated chart. I’ve included the last two ethnicity percentage results from each vendor except MyHeritage because their ethnicity results have remained the same for several years although they released Genetic Groups to complement ethnicity in 2020.

I’ve clustered geographies in regions because the vendors measure locations differently. Locations sometimes change within the same vendor with different releases.

The earlier “Unknown” genealogy category is gone now because I’ve been able to assign those ancestors to a geographic region if not an exact “country.”

The Genealogy Percent column, with a header and totals in yellow, details the geographic source for each of my 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents who each contributed approximately 1.5625% of my DNA. Of course, we know that DNA isn’t divided exactly in half in each generation, and I possibly inherited none of the DNA of some of those people and more than 1.5625% from others. Regardless, this is the best measuring stick of what I should expect and a way to determine if my ethnicity results are in the right ballpark.

The yellow cells in the vendor column totals reflect the “best fit” for my known genealogy percentages when compared against the expected percentages. In the Native grouping, vendors receive a yellow cell for identifying that heritage.

OK, now let’s take a look at Ancestry’s new SideView.

Finding SideView

At Ancestry, your ethnicity estimate, as well as your new SideView results, are found in the DNA Story section of your DNA Results Summary tab.

Ancestry does update your ethnicity estimate from time to time, so yours may have changed since you last viewed your results.

Ideally, if exactly half of the DNA of each ancestor was passed down in each generation, then I would have the amount of DNA shown in my personal chart, assuming my genealogy is accurate with no adoptions or unexpected parent events.

Also ideally, I would show exactly half of each of my parent’s ethnicity.

But that’s not how it works. While we do inherit half of our DNA from each parent, they can randomly give us all of a segment of DNA from one ancestor and not any of a segment of DNA from a different ancestor.

I wrote about how DNA is passed to children in the article, Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them is in You?. This explains how and why you might not inherit the exact amount of a specific ethnicity you would expect. Of course, that combined with each vendor’s different algorithms may produce results that surprise you, although the discrepancy should be relatively small.

Keep in mind how ethnicity inheritance works as you view your ethnicity results, including SideView.

SideView Results

Here are my Sideview results.

Remember, we don’t know which parent is “1” and which is “2.” Click on “How we identify this” to learn about how SideView works.

Here’s a more detailed description along with some nice graphics.

Analyzing My Results

SideView appears right beside your ethnicity map, so be sure to consult that map. Note that regions reflect populations, not necessarily countries as boundaries are drawn today.

The first thing I noticed is that my significant Dutch heritage, along with my French is missing in my ethnicity results as well as on the map.

How is this possible?

The arrows point to the Netherlands and France. These are important pieces of my ancestry on my Mother’s side. Mom was 25% Dutch so I should be about 12.5%. My maternal side genealogical breakdown is shown in the chart below.

Mom % I Should Inherit From Mom
German 50 25
Dutch 25 12.5
French/Acadian 12.5 6.25
England 12.5 6.25
Native ~2 in the Acadian line ~1

Of course, my Native American is also missing at Ancestry, even though the other three major vendors identify those segments. The two vendors who paint ethnicity by segment, 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA report Native on the same segment on my chromosome 1, so it’s unlikely that both of those vendors are in error in exactly the same way.

While Native is critically important to my genealogy, it is a small percentage. Missing a small percentage, while frustrating, is more understandable than missing a larger percentage.

My Dutch ancestors at 12.5% and French at 6.25% are not trivial and together comprise more than one-third of my mother’s heritage and more than one-sixth of mine. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I do match many other people who descend from these same ancestors so it’s not a mistaken or misidentified ancestor issue.

My father was kind of a colonial mutt. Scottish, Irish, and English with a small smattering of African and Native along with 1.5% Scandinavian/Nordic. The African in the later versions tends to show as Middle Eastern or North African, or doesn’t show at all, but that segment with a small Native one cluster together on the same chromosome. I also match other people who are Native/African on those segments as well.

However, given that neither of those ethnicities appear at Ancestry, we don’t have those to work with, nor do we have specific segment information.

Let’s work with what we do have.

View Breakdown

I wish Ancestry did not say “Now, you can see which ethnicities you inherited from each parent,” because while that’s the goal, it isn’t always the case. Lots of people will simply accept that statement at face value.

Click on View breakdown.

You’ll see your results broken into two sides with the reported regions noted at the bottom. All regions are showing in the circle by default.

To see how this works, click on any single or combination of regions.

Determining Sides

What can we do to determine which side is which parent?

Let’s start with ethnicities or regions which should be unique to one parent and not the other.

I clicked on both Norway and Sweden/Denmark since I know that one couple on my father’s side is Scandinavian/Nordic, but I discovered that Ancestry assigned pieces of those regions to both Parent 1 and Parent 2.

I’m positive that my mother did not have any ancestors in the past 6 generations and significantly further back that were Scandinavian or Nordic, BUT, Germany and the Netherlands both border those regions. People traveled, wars happened and populations as a whole mixed, so while I’m confident of my genealogy, this actual ethnicity may be accurate even though it does not reflect genealogical locations. It may well reflect populations and admixture.

What I am sure of is that I can’t use these particular regions to identify which side is maternal or paternal.

Detailed Comparison

Let’s look at the detailed comparison you’ll see by scrolling down.

Can I identify any of these regions as solely connected with only one parent?

Yes, I can. Ancestry has assigned Germanic Europe to only one parent, and Mom is 50% German, so Parent 1 has to be Mother. I should expect to be assigned roughly half of what my mother has – so about 25% Germanic.

Mother has no Irish, so Ireland has to be Dad, which also correlates to known genealogy.

However, the rest of the ethnicity results are questionable, including Mom’s missing Dutch and her missing England and Northwest Europe which should total in the neighborhood of 37.5%. I would be expected to inherit about 18.75% of that from her. Where is it?

No Segments

I very much wish Ancestry provided segment information.

Using segment matching information from the other three vendors, including ethnicity segment information from both 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA, I’ve painted my segments at DNAPainter, so I know which ancestors or ancestral lines contributed which DNA segments.

If Ancestry, provided users with segment information, I could determine which ethnicities they have attributed to which ancestors and maybe unravel why.

Another Possible Clue

There is one additional way I might be able to figure out where Ancestry attributed Mom’s Dutch and French heritage.

Given that I know which of my closest matches are maternal and paternal, I can utilize shared matching plus shared ethnicity to look for similarities. Just click on the match with someone, then on the Ethnicity tab.

The closest match on my mother’s side is my first cousin who also descends from my maternal grandparents. My cousin’s relevant parent should have roughly the same amount of the same ethnicities as my Mom since they were siblings, taking into account that not all of our ancestors’ DNA is passed in exactly half and siblings, unless they are identical twins, don’t inherit all of the same DNA from their parents. Of course, that means my first cousin should share roughly the same amount of DNA/ethnicity from our common grandparents as I do.

My cousin’s other parent is European with what appears to be a significant number of German ancestors, so we need to take that into account when viewing my cousin’s shared ethnicity comparison with me, above.

I can see that my cousin has 4% French and 1% Native, but that percentage might have been contributed by their other parent, especially since there is a French surname in that line.

If my cousin’s other parent had been African or Asian or an ethnicity that is different from the ethnicity of our shared line, it would be easier to compare our results meaningfully.

In this case, the shared match ethnicity comparison did not help, but your mileage may vary based on your unique circumstances.

Assign the Parent

If you are fortunate enough to be able to determine which parent is which, you can assign Parent 1 and 2 as maternal or paternal at Ancestry by clicking on the “Edit parents” icon at top right on the Detailed Comparison page.

I selected side 1 as Maternal based on the 35% Germanic Europe which is very clearly my mother’s side.

What I wish we could do, but we can’t, is to explain why we disagree with some portion of an assigned ethnicity. Ancestry does have my tree and I do have Thrulines from these ancestors, so the information is available for comparison should Ancestry choose to utilize that resource.

You can undo your selections by selecting “Back” or click on “Sounds good.”

I initially clicked on “Sounds good,” even though that bothers me. I hope that I’m not confirming something that’s incorrect, given my Mother’s missing Dutch and French, and that I’m not going to make *something* worse in the future by baking in bad ingredients. I’m not comfortable confirming something that’s significantly wrong. On the other hand, Parent 1 is clearly my mother, so I’m conflicted and I really don’t know exactly what I’m confirming to Ancestry.

In other words, we don’t know what Ancestry is doing under the hood with this information, if anything, other than labeling your sides.

Ultimately, I clicked “Back”, at least for now, to leave my sides unassigned until there is some benefit to me to identify the parental sides and I know I’m not confirming something that shouldn’t be confirmed. In other words, I know which parent is which, but I do NOT want to confirm that these ethnicities are fundamentally accurately assigned, because they are not.

Does Testing Your Parents Make a Difference?

If you’re wondering if testing your parents makes a difference with SideView predictions, it does not.

Ancestry is NOT utilizing your parents’ DNA for SideView ethnicity division, even if your parent or parents have tested, which Ancestry confirms in their documentation.

If you’re wondering why Ancestry doesn’t use your parent’s DNA to improve your SideView results, remember that someone who matches you at the parent/child level can be either your parent or your child. Often trees are either absent or incorrect, so Ancestry cannot simply assume anything.

Benefits of SideView?

What do you think?

Is there a benefit to SideView or is it simply interesting window dressing?

Are your SideView results accurate?

Do you feel that Sideview is accurate enough to be genealogically useful?

Are you able to utilize Sideview for your genealogy? If so, how?

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Sarah Rash’s and Perhaps Mary Warren’s Mitochondrial DNA – 52 Ancestors #359

Using the FamilySearch “Relatives at RootsTech” app that was available in the month or so surrounding RootsTech (but not now), I connected with a cousin who is a direct matrilineal descendant of Sarah Rash, our common ancestor.

My cousin, who descends through Sarah’s daughter Rhoda Shepherd, very kindly agreed to take a full sequence mitochondrial DNA test so we now have information about Sarah Rash’s matrilineal origins.

I wrote about Sarah Rash and what we know of her life in Sarah Rash (1748-1829), Church Founder and Grandmother of Nearly 100.

Mitochondrial DNA Inheritance

Women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on. Therefore, mitochondrial DNA is never divided, watered down or mixed with the DNA of the father. Mitochondrial DNA provides an invaluable periscope view directly back in time for our matrilineal ancestors – our direct mother’s, mother’s, mother’s line on up our tree.

Sarah Rash was born to Joseph Rash and wife, Mary, purportedly Mary Warren.  Sarah’s mitochondrial DNA also belongs to her mother Mary. That would be Mary Warren if indeed Mary Warren is Sarah’s mother. Mary Warren’s parents are unknown. However, there is a Warren family in Spotsylvania County, VA, where the Rash family lived in that timeframe.

Goals

My goals for seeking a mitochondrial DNA test for Sarah Rash’s descendant are:

  • To confirm Sarah’s genealogical accuracy by matching another descendant, preferably through another daughter or sister of Sarah.
  • To learn what we can from Sarah’s haplogroup. You don’t know what you don’t know.
  • To gather evidence to confirm or perhaps disprove that Sarah’s mother is Mary Warren.
  • To potentially extend Sarah’s line backward in time.

The Process

Several people have asked me to step through the analysis process that I use for mitochondrial DNA results, so let’s do that.

What can we tell about Sarah’s ancestors through her mitochondrial DNA?.

Sarah’s Matrilineal Line is Not Native

Sometimes when the mother of an early pioneer settler can’t be identified, the “go-to” assumption is that she might be Native American.

Sarah’s haplogroup is U5a2a1d which is definitely NOT Native.

We can dispel this thought permanently.

Since Sarah’s matrilineal ancestors aren’t Native, where are they from?

Where Are Sarah’s Ancestors From?

Using the public mitochondrial tree, here, we see the following countries displayed for haplogroup U5a2a1d.

Sarah’s haplogroup is found most often in the US, which means brick-walled here, followed by England, Ireland, and less-frequent other locations. Note that two people claim Native, the feather, but that can mean either they are mistaken, or they have entered information for their mother’s “side” of the family or their literal “oldest ancestor,” not their specific matrilineal line.

Regardless, haplogroup U is unquestionably not Native.

Matches Map

Sometimes the matches map, which shows the geographic locations of your matches’ most distant matrilineal linear ancestor is very informative, but not so in this case.

Of 74 full sequence matches, only 4, plus the tester whose pin is white, have entered the locations of their matrilineal ancestors.

One of these contains a male name, so we know that’s incorrect.

This is really sad – a wasted opportunity. Imagine how useful this could be with 74 pins instead of 4, and one of those being recorded incorrectly.

Mutations

The mutations tab shows you the mutations you have that are either extra or missing from your haplogroup assignment. This means that these may be combined in the next version of the haplotree to form a new haplogroup.

My cousin has 5 extra mutations, but at least three of those are in unstable areas that I’m sure will not be utilized as haplogroup-forming. The other two mutations are insertions at one single location and I doubt those will be used either.

I wrote about haplogroup formation in the article, Mitochondrial DNA: Part 3 – Haplogroups Unraveled, including a list of unstable and common mutations. Suffice it to say that very common locations like 16519 and 315 insertions aren’t useful to form haplogroups. Some very common mutations, such as insertions at locations 309 and 315 and deletions at 522 and 523 aren’t even counted in matching/differences.

What these unstable mutations actually tell me, relative to Sarah Rash’s DNA is that I need to pay attention to the GD1 (genetic distance of 1) matches, meaning people who have only one mutation difference from my cousin. Given that my cousin’s extra mutations, differences from her defined haplogroup, are in unstable regions, close matches such as GD1 or even GD2 could be quite relevant. It all depends on the difference.

Of course, we can’t see the mutations of the people my cousin matches, so those with a GD1 or GD2 may have mutations on a stable marker that my cousin doesn’t have.

Matches

My cousin has a total of 74 full sequence matches, of which 31 are exact matches, 18 have trees and 12 have listed an earliest known ancestor (EKA). If you haven’t done so, here’s how to enter your EKA.

Of course, the EKA of my cousin’s matches may or may not agree with the earliest matrilineal person in their tree. And the tree may or may not have more than one or two people. Regardless, every hint is worth follow-up.

Think of these as diamonds in the rough.

Trees

I viewed the trees of each of the matches that have uploaded trees. I also made a list of the earliest known ancestors for matches that didn’t have trees so I could be cognizant of watching for those names.

Many trees only had a few generations, but I used Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and WikiTree to see if I could reasonably complete the tree back a little further. Of these, I particularly like WikiTree because I think it tends to be more accurate AND it allows for people to enter that they carry the mitochondrial DNA of specific ancestors. As it turns out, no one has done that for Sarah Rash, or her purported mother, Mary Warren, but if they had, it would provide a confirmation opportunity.

I did find something quite interesting.

Who is Jane Davis?

The EKA of Elizabeth, one of my cousin’s matches, is Jane Davis who was born in 1690.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth did not upload a GEDCOM file or create a tree, so I turned to other trees elsewhere to see what I could unearth about Jane Davis.

I need to state emphatically that what I’m about to tell you needs to be taken with the entire salt lick, not just a grain.

Remember, we’re looking for hints and evidence here, not foregone conclusions – although admittedly, those would be nice.

According to (cringe) some trees, Jane Davis was the wife of one William Warren who was born 1678 in Surry County, VA and died on September 29, 1764 in Edgecombe County, NC. I have not confirmed any of this. Gathering evidence is the first step in the process.

IF this is accurate, William Warren and Jane Davis may be the parents of Mary Warren, the purported mother of Sarah Rash.

Notice all of those weasel words – if, may, purported. That’s where we have to start. In weaselworld.

Obviously, this needs a LOT of traditional genealogy work, but here’s the great news…I now have something to work with and someone else, Elizabeth, who appears one way or another to be descended from this line.

The Good News

Whether or not Jane Davis is accurate or not, I’d wager that we are looking at the same line because Elizabeth matches my cousin’s mitochondrial DNA. I need to email Elizabeth to see if she descends through Sarah Rash. If so, that’s confirmation of this line.

If not, and she descends through a daughter of someone else in this same line, like one of Mary Warren’s sisters, that’s evidence and a HUGE HINT that I can use to confirm Mary Warren as the mother of Sarah Rash. Confirming her mother would also confirm that Mary’s father is William Warren – so would provide evidence for both of Sarah’s parents.

Additional Tools – Advanced Matches

Next, I used Advanced Matches to query for anyone who matches at both the full sequence level and in Family Finder. There were no matches, which doesn’t surprise me since it’s quite a way back in time.

Notice that the link to upload a family tree is in this section, along with the public haplotree I used earlier.

Family Finder

Checking my cousin’s Family Finder matches and searching for surnames, I immediately checked for myself and my known cousins from that line. No cigar, but our common ancestor is many generations in the past.

Checking the Rash surname for my cousin shows a match to someone who descends from Joseph Rash’s brother, William Rash whose children also migrated to Claiborne County, TN along with Sarah Rash’s daughter, Elizabeth Shepherd who married William McNiel.

My cousin has numerous autosomal matches to the McNiel line as well. The Vannoy, McNiel, Shepherd, and Rash lines were all found in Wilkes County, NC together before migrating to Claiborne and Hancock Counties in Tennessee. Before Wilkes County, the Rash, Warren, and McNiel families were in Spotsylvania and nearby counties in Virginia.

Goal Fulfillment

How did we do fulfilling our original goals?

Goal Comment
To confirm Sarah’s genealogical accuracy by matching another descendant. Perhaps – We have that lead to follow up on with Elizabeth and her EKA of Jane Davis. We also have several relevant autosomal matches.
To learn what we can learn from her haplogroup. Yes – Not Native and probably from England or Ireland. That is useful and makes sense.
To confirm her mother as Mary Warren. We now have hints and tools. We need to hear what Elizabeth has to say. I may be able to extract more information by viewing trees individually with people my cousin matches on Family Finder.
To potentially extend Sarah’s line backward in time. We now have a great hint and information to work with, both mitochondrial and autosomal. Jane Davis may be the wife of William Warren, which might well confirm Mary Warren as the daughter of William Warren. It’s too soon to tell but my fingers are crossed for a descendant of Jane Davis from a different daughter through all females.

Sometimes answers come in a gulley-washer, and other times, we have to dig and sift over time for the gems. Let’s create a plan.

What’s Next?

There’s a lot we can do, but maybe one of the best places to start would be to attempt to assemble information about the Warren families of Spotsylvania County, VA. This Thomas Warren might be a good place to begin or maybe work my way up from Mary Warren, here.

I need to focus on both traditional genealogy and genetic autosomal matches at all of the vendors. My cousin’s DNA is only at FamilyTreeDNA, but my results and those of several other cousins are found at several vendors.

I can use Genetic Affairs’ tools to see if I cluster with other people descended from the Warren family. My cousin can set up an account and do the same thing if she wishes. AutoTree and AutoKinship may help with that.

Using traditional genealogy, if I can identify other sisters of Mary Warren (daughters of Jane Davis,) I can ask people descended from them through all females to take a mitochondrial DNA test. If they match my cousin, that’s an exceptionally compelling piece of evidence.

Of course, I can do more work on the mitochondrial DNA matches we already have by emailing and asking for genealogy information. The piece of evidence we need might be right under our noses.

The Warren Family

If you descend from a Warren family in the Spotsylvania County area in the 1600s through 1700s, would you please check your matches to see if you have me, Vannoy, McNiel, McNeil, Rash or Shepherd matches? I’d love to narrow this down.

If you descend through all females from William Warren or another Warren family who would have been having children in the Spotsylvania County from about 1710 to maybe 1740, would you please reach out to me? If we can pinpoint a likely family for Mary Warren who was reportedly born in 1726, I’d love to do a confirming mitochondrial DNA test.

_____________________________________________________________

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STOP, THINK & RUN – Stop Innocently Giving Your Information to Cybercrooks on Social Media

Yes – you. All of us. This article is written for and applies to everyone.

We are all targets for social engineering which is the act of manipulating, influencing or deceiving people into performing actions or divulging confidential information – generally by engaging you or manipulating your emotions.

The most skilled cybercriminals accomplish their goal without you even being aware of what’s going on. You’re relaxed and just enjoying yourself, checking your social media news feed. No Nigerian princes needed anymore. They’ve moved on, taken on new personas, but are still targeting you.

Literally, everyone is a target.

The Bad Guys Kicked It Up a Notch

The bad guys have improved their skills. Attackers find loopholes and opportunities where you least expect them. They gain your trust or take advantage of your defenses being down – and they are very skilled at what they do.

I see people who I would think should know better engaging in risky behavior every single day, probably because they aren’t aware that the nature of the threats has evolved and changed. The bad guys stay one step ahead of us.

Please read this article even if you know what you’re doing. Someone you care about may not and you can help them.

Social Media

We all want to use social media and public platforms for genealogy and communicating with family and friends. We need to realize that because of the open nature of those platforms, they are full of bad actors trying to take advantage of us in seemingly innocent ways.

Not to mention that the platform is free for users, so access to you IS the commodity. Not just through ads, which you can clearly recognize as such, but by manipulating your behavior.

How, by luring you with “free,” “fun” or “missing out.”

Seriously, you do NOT need a new “free” improved profile picture.

Furthermore, some unnamed person or site you don’t know doesn’t really care about the TV show you watched when you got home from school as a kid.

Well, actually they DO care, but it’s not innocent. Scammers and bad actors gather, aggregate, and distill data about us hoping to breach our electronic security – and/or that of our social media friends.

Even if the person or account asking isn’t malicious, if the post is public, cybercriminals can and do gather and compile information about YOU that they find on public postings and pages.

Why?

In an attempt to defraud you, AND your friends who will also fall for these schemes. If your friends see you do something, they are more likely to engage in the behavior themselves. Just the act of answering these seemingly innocent questions conveys information about you.

  • First, you’re vulnerable and don’t understand that “public posts” and resulting answers make you a target. In other words, you’re advertising that you’re a good target.
  • Second, if you don’t have your Facebook (or other social media) account locked down so that only friends of friends can send you friend requests, it’s not unusual to receive a whole raft of friend requests after doing something public.
  • Third, even if your account is locked down tight, your comment or answer to that seemingly innocent public posting may net you a reply something like this:

Note the bad grammar and lack of punctuation. Probably that Nigerian prince again, with a bogus profile picture.

If people can see your “About” information, the message or reply may be more specifically tailored – targeting you with some common interest. Single middle-aged female? You’ll receive a message from a “widowed” male about that same age, maybe wearing a uniform or otherwise looking like a model, holding a puppy. Yea, right.

Now, holding the 1890 census – that might be an effective scheme to target genealogists😊

Let’s talk about how to stay safe and still be able to benefit from and enjoy social media.

We will begin with a big red flag.

NewProfilePic

The current rage is an artificial intelligence oil painting profile picture that’s “free.”

Right off the bat, you need to always be suspicious of anything “free” because it often means “they,” whoever they are, want your information and are willing to give you something to get it – under the guise of free. Speaking of them, just who are “they” anyway? That’s the first question you need to ask and answer before engaging.

Free almost always never benefits you.

Why would anyone want to give you a cool new profile picture for free? It may only take a few computer cycles, but it’s not free for them to produce, just the same, especially not when multiplied by the tens of thousands. What are they getting out of all those free photos they are producing?

I’ll tell you what. To gain access to your data – including the data on your phone.

Hmmm, I want you to think about something for a minute.

Do you have your phone set or apps set to scan your face and automatically open? Is that your security? For your bank account maybe too?

And you just sent a photo of your FACE to some unknown person or group in some unknown place?

Really?

You can change a lot of things, but you cannot change your face and facial recognition software is powerful.

Snopes says the NewProfilePic app really isn’t any worse than many other apps – which isn’t saying much.

Aside from the fact that NewProfilePic was initially registered in Moscow, which should be a HUGE red flag by itself, especially right now, what can the app do on your phone?

Here’s the list.

In essence, you just gave someone the keys to the candy store.

In perpetuity.

Is your blood running cold? It should be.

Still think this fun new app is “free?” You’re paying for it dearly, and may yet pay for it even more dearly.

Here’s a warning from a state Attorney General and here’s an article from MLive that interviewed a cybersecurity expert who notes that this app scrapes your Facebook data.

However, so do other people and apps.

Public is Public

When you see anything on Facebook with the little globe, that means that anyone anyplace can see this posting AND all replies, including your answers. Everything is fully public.

In this case, more than 80,000 people answered this question from an entirely unknown person or website.

Just a couple of days later, this same posting had 54K likes, more than half a million comments, and more than 6,100 shares. That’s how effective this type of seemingly innocent question can be.

Several of my friends answered.

What does this question tell anyone looking? Your approximate age, for beginners.

Maybe an answer to a security question. Just google “top security questions for gaining access to forgotten passwords.”

Engaging with a web page also means the Facebook algorithm will send you more postings from that website in your feed. So maybe if this post doesn’t yield anything useful about you, the next one might.

Cumulatively, many answers to many postings will reveal a lot.

Never answer these.

But There’s More

Because this posting is public, I can click on the name of ANY person who has answered that public question and see every other public thing they’ve shared on their timeline.

As an example, I randomly selected Charlotte, someone that I don’t know and am not friends with who replied to that question. (You can do this same experiment.)

I clicked on her name and scanned down Charlotte’s postings. I can immediately see that she’s a good target and has fallen for several other things like this.

Here’s one from her page.

That scammer, James, latched onto her immediately. Again. Note the grammar.

Here’s another seemingly innocent game that Charlotte played to get a new Facebook profile picture and “secret” info about herself. That “4 Truths” app told Charlotte that she was very mysterious and promised to “show what’s hidden in you.” Of course, she had to provide her photo, give permission for this app to post on her timeline, publicly, and access her Facebook account. Charlotte probably didn’t even realize that was happening, or what it meant was happening behind the scenes to her data.

But now Charlotte has the new NewProfilePic oil portrait, so this one isn’t in use anymore. Maybe Charlotte’s friends wanted some nice things said about them too so they might have clicked on this same link. Just for fun, right? That’s how these scams work.

These unfortunate choices on Charlotte’s timeline were accompanied by many more that were similar in nature. Those were interspersed with notices on her Facebook page that she has been hacked and not to accept any new friend requests or messages from her. The effects are evident.

It’s worth noting that some people do have their profiles cloned and haven’t engaged in any risky behavior like this, However, you dramatically increase your odds of being compromised when you engage in risky online behaviors. Every time someone clones your profile and sends messages to all of your friends with malware links, it increases the cyberthief’s harvest of you and your friends. Cha-ching!

Eventually, the bad actors will find people who they can scam, either by:

  • Talking your friend, their target, into doing something bad for them, maybe thinking they are helping you or responding to you
  • By sending malware links that people click on thinking the message with the link is actually from you.
  • Gathering enough information to breach you or your friends’ security questions and clean out bank accounts.

No, I’m not fearmongering or being overly dramatic.

I utilize KnowBe4, a security and vulnerability consulting and training company to keep abreast of threats. You can follow their blog articles, here.

How Do Cybercrooks Access Your Friends?

Looking at Charlotte’s Facebook page, all of her friends are exposed too because they are publicly visible. Everyone can view the entire list of Charlotte’s friends.

Now, all of those scammers have access to Charlotte’s friends. Hence, the scammers can clone Charlotte’s account by stealing her photo, setting up a new account, and sending messages to Charlotte’s friends who think the message is from Charlotte. Something like “Try this new photo app, I did,” or, “Can you pick up an Apple gift card and send it to my friend for me?” You get the drift.

If Charlotte’s friends have their security set to only accept friend requests from someone that also shares a friend, and Charlotte accepts a bogus friend request – then the scammer can send her friends a friend request too and they think it’s Charlotte’s friend.

In other words, seeing a common friend causes Charlotte’s friends to let their guard down. I look at it this way – only one of my friends has to accept a bogus friend request to make me vulnerable too.

Charlotte also told people in a public posting that she was visiting someone on a specific day in another city. How do I know it’s another city? Because Charlotte has posted where she is from, where she lives, works, and the high school she attended in her “About” information.

Hmmm, those are security questions too.

That same website where I found Charlotte answering that question has also posted questions about your pet names.

What is one of the security questions if you lose your password?

Yep, pet names.

Nope, those seemingly cute sites aren’t. They are data-mining and gathering information.

Predatory Sites

First, I need to say that there are three security threats involved with these postings and websites:

  1. Any link you click which may take you to who-knows-where.
  2. That the site itself is data mining. However, this is not always the case. Some very legitimate companies ask questions to get you to engage in their subject topic. However, if the post is public, that’s an open door to the next threat.
  3. “People” or bots who harvest information about people who answer those public posts and then data-mine their accounts.

Let’s look at a few examples.

No person you don’t know cares at all about what you drank last. However, that might be valuable data for other reasons.

Facebook makes these things even more attractive to you by showing you answers from people on your friends list. I’m not going to embarrass my friends and family by showing their identity, even though it is completely public, but please, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, stop doing this.

Just look at that – 14 million comments and 193 thousand shares. For a data miner, this has been extremely successful.

To make matters worse, if you engage with a site on Facebook, they show you more from that site in your feed in the future. Since I clicked on these to write this article, my feed is going to be flooded with smarmy questions from these sites for days or weeks.

Let’s take a look at a few more examples.

Look at this one. 200,000 people and almost 3000 shares in two months. That means that this question appears on 3000 people’s timelines. It’s like a huge data-gathering pyramid scheme.

You’re likely to be wearing your favorite color and eat your favorite food.

How could this be used against you?

Yep, security, password, or account recovery questions again.

When I went to the page that made this posting, the next posting was a question – “In 1980, you were…” and the first person to answer said, “2 years old.” That person just told the world they were born in 1978.

Did you really want to do that?

Private Groups

You are safer in a private group, meaning only group members can see your posts.

You can tell if a Facebook group is private based on the lock and the words, “Private Group.” You can also see a list of your friends who are members of that group as well. Remember that the criterion for joining a private group differs widely and there are still lots of people you don’t know. Some private groups that I’m a member of have more than a quarter-million subscribers.

Most private groups are focused on a specific topic. Some private groups require answering application questions to join, and others don’t.

You’re safest in a group that does require questions to be answered which allows administrators who are familiar with the topic to craft questions that (hopefully) weed out most of the trolls, bots, and shady characters. That’s the choice I’ve made for the groups I co-administer, but it does require more attention from the administrators, which is why large groups often don’t implement membership questions.

Determining Privacy Settings

When you’re looking at the privacy settings on groups, posts on your friends’ timelines, or your own, you can mouse over the privacy icon. Facebook will tell you exactly who can see this post.

You’re never entirely safe. In addition to behaving safely as noted above, there are steps you can take to educate yourself and configure your social media accounts securely.

How to Stay Safe

Every social media platform is different, but I’m using Facebook as an example. Every platform will have a similar privacy function. Learn how it works.

Go to the Facebook help center, here and do a security checkup, here.

However, neither of those really address privacy, which I feel is actually the biggest security threat – the trapdoor or slippery slope.

Here’s how to access and review your privacy settings.

Click on the down arrow beside your name.

Click on Settings and Privacy, then both the Privacy Checkup and the Privacy Center.

Next, you’ll see several short articles. Be sure to step through each one

Take a few minutes to lock your account down.

The ONLY thing that is automatically public is your profile photo and any photo you use for your cover photo. Anything else can and should be restricted.

Facebook owns Instagram so you can set your Instagram security here too.

You’re not quite finished yet!

Monitoring and Controlling Apps

Next, we’re going to see what apps are installed and interacting with Facebook. Have you authorized apps you weren’t aware of?

In the dropdown arrow to the right of your name in the upper right-hand corner, click on the down arrow again.

You’ll see the Settings gear under “Settings and Privacy.” Click there to see all of the setting categories in the panel on the left side of your screen.

Review everything, of course, but pay special attention to “Apps and Websites” and “Games.”

Predatory operators will fool you into doing something fun, like a profile photo app, or a little game that provides you with your Fantasy Name or something else cute and enticing. That “free” game or app installs software. If you find software during your review, especially from something like we’ve been discussing, I recommend deleting it immediately.

Be sure you only have things you’ve intentionally installed or authorized.

THINK – Stop, Think and Run

When you see “someone” asking a question on Facebook, STOP!

You’ve heard of stop, drop and roll if your clothes are on fire?

Someone trying to breach your privacy is a digital fire, so this is stop, think and run.

Think about who is actually asking and why. “Who” is asking is NOT that cousin who shared the question from that public site. The “who” that is asking is that original site.  They are simply taking advantage of and using your cousin. I hate to put it this way, but always assume the worst and remember that even if the site itself is innocent, all of the people who can harvest your data and try to compromise your security assuredly are not.

Those “fun” sites asking those questions are either actively recruiting you or best case, leaving the door wide open for cyberthieves.

Don’t answer. No matter how much you’re tempted to share some nostalgic information or the name of your deceased pet you’re still grieving. No matter if you notice that your cousin or friend has replied already. Just don’t.

Stop, think, run. It’s that simple.

And speaking of your cousins or friends – if they have shared something that could compromise their security and privacy, not to mention their friends (including you), feel free to share this article or others, such as KrebsonSecurity. Take a look at Krebs’ examples of baiting you with childhood and puppy photos with corresponding questions. Do they evoke an emotional response from you? They are meant to. I mean, how bad can it actually be to enter the name of your beloved childhood pet?

By now, you should be screaming the answer to “how bad”!

Here’s an article from Tulane University. Yes, they are advertising their degree in cybersecurity management, but they do so by summarizing the things that social media users need to be concerned about.

I also follow a company called Facecrooks which monitors and writes about Facebook privacy, fraudsters, other scams, and such. They have a Facebook page here and a Scam Watch page here.

The Baker’s Dozen Messages

The messages I want to leave you with, aside from stop, think and run, are this:

  1. Nothing is free
  2. Think before you engage or answer
  3. Remind yourself that a stranger really doesn’t care about your first-grade teacher’s name, but a crook does
  4. Just because someone you know answered or engaged doesn’t mean it’s safe
  5. Consider potential consequences
  6. Can something you are about to share be used to compromise either you, your family, friends’, or employer’s privacy or safety?
  7. Don’t overshare – only say what’s necessary
  8. Notice what is public and what is not – look for that globe and behave accordingly
  9. Don’t download or play free games, or send anything to a “free” website
  10. Don’t click on links to unknown places
  11. Don’t accept friend requests from people you really don’t know.
  12. Learn the warning signs of a fake profile and report them by clicking on the three dots to the right of the profile
  13. Don’t click on links in private messages and beware of suddenly receiving an “odd” message from someone you haven’t heard from in a while

I’ve written other articles about online privacy, security, and safety too.

Remember…

Stop. Think. Run.

_____________________________________________________________

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Share the Love!

You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

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Genealogy Books

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