My Crazy Estes Aunts – 52 Ancestors #2

Do you have some crazy aunts in your family?  I think everybody does.  I certainly did – two of them – my father’s sisters.  They were truly characters.  They also were the gatekeepers to the family secrets – secrets I desperately needed to know!

Estes family 1914

William George Estes and Ollie Bolton Estes family.  Children are left to right, daughter Margaret,  behind Margaret, Joseph “Dode,” tall male is Charles Estle, male at right rear, my father, William Sterling Estes, looking worried, and blonde female at right beside Ollie is Minnie.

The aunts names were, officially, Margaret Lee Estes (born 1906, the brunette at left, above) and Minnie Mae Estes (born 1908, the blonde at right).  I say officially, because they were fond of changing their names from time to time.  That made it really difficult when discussing family items because their names were always different.  Margaret seemed to settle on Jean and Minnie settled somewhat on Betty.  No, I don’t know why.  What I do know is that they were indeed, drama queens and they seemed to have a bit of sibling rivalry from the beginning that lasted, well, to the very end – and they both lived to be just shy of 100.

They started out as drama princesses when they were young.  Both were exceptionally beautiful young women.  Margaret, below, is reported to have done some modeling in Chicago about 1925, and of course she sent her modeling photos to her sister Minnie.

Margaret Estes c 1920

While Margaret went to live with her mother in Chicago after her parents divorced in the mid 19-teens, Minnie didn’t.  She went back to the Claiborne County, Tennessee/Lee County, Virginia area, and in her own words, “was wild as a young buck.”

Minnie Estes

Both women would marry, both had one son.  Both sons died tragically.  Instead of bringing the sisters together, it seemed to further widened the gap.

Some of their crazy stories revolve around the sons and their deaths.  There are allegations of murder, the mob, the mafia, huge stolen insurance policies and such.  From the other sister, the same death story is quite different – homelessness, alcoholism, you get the idea.  What is consistent is a lot of pain surrounding the deaths and jealousy between the sisters.  And what’s worse, or better, is that I discovered that every time either of them discussed the stories, or each other, or anything for that matter, that the stories evolved or changed.  They were never the same.  Peachy, just peachy!

I didn’t find the sisters until they were in their late 70s.  My parents were divorced and my father was killed in an automobile accident when I was in grade school.  We lived about 400 miles from my father’s Tennessee family, and for some reason, my mother really didn’t want me hanging out with my Dad’s moonshining family.  I would probably have loved them, which is exactly what she was worried about.

It wasn’t until many years later, when I was in my 20s, that I began searching for my father’s family to find out something, anything.  That’s when I was directed to the aunts.  They were the only siblings of my father yet living, and I was thrilled to find them.  I initially wrote down every word they said…until I discovered that my notes from conversation to conversation contradicted each other.  And if you asked them about what they said before, they would accuse you of lying, or worse, yet, talking to the enemy – the other sister – who had of course, lied.  For awhile, I truly wondered if somehow I confused my notes and questioned my own sanity.

I’m extremely glad I took those notes.  I put them away and years later, transcribed them.  Margaret told about her homes around the world, and in the next conversation, would discuss her poverty.  One time she told me that her family was spying on her to take her money.  Minnie told about one of her husbands who was a politician and their time “on the hill” which I’m presuming was supposed to be Capitol Hill.  I finally came to view the stories as just amusing and left it at that.  They also did interesting things from time to time.  Minnie/Betty once sent a pair of red sequined ballet slippers to the daughter of her deceased brother with a note that said that “no one in Tennessee loves me.”  Whose slippers they were, we have no idea – she didn’t dance.  Everyone in Tennessee was left someplace between amused and mystified with maybe a little creeped-out added along the edges.

There were nuggets of truth in those stories however, although they were disjoint and mining them has proven to be challenging.  However, these past few days, the crazy aunts’ stories came through .

Margaret was only married once, but Minnie/Betty was married several times.  I couldn’t keep her husbands straight and I don’t think she could either.  However, both aunts loved to discuss my father, because whatever they had done, his escapades made theirs pale by comparison.  The only bad thing was that the aunts seemed to have snippets of this and that.  The all lived in different states and I think most of what they heard was through their mother, Ollie.

They loved to talk about people, and my father with his gallivanting ways proved quite a popular topic of conversation and fodder for a lot of tongue wagging and clicking.  Tisk, tisk, tisk….naughty boy.  Yes, indeed.  But thankfully their love of gossip and “telling on him” and their rivalry to see who could tell the ‘worst” story has provided me with a couple very valuable nuggets.

They told me that my father was married about 1920 or so to a Laila LaFountain and they had a son Lee, they thought, who eventually took his step-father’s name of “Levi or Levy or something like that.”  Lee, if that was his name, wound up in Louisville, Ky studying the ministry in a seminary “or something,” they recalled.  He “might have been a minister.”

As it turns out, they were partially right, except they had Lee’s mother’s name wrong, unless, God forbid, there are two Lees, a possibility I’m going to entirely discount right now, to protect any shred of sanity I have left.

In my 52 Ancestors week #1 article, “ Searching for Ilo’s Son,” as things have developed, we discover that Ilo’s son’s name was Leo and his step-father’s name was Levine and in the 1930s, Ilo was living in Louisville, Ky.  I remember writing years ago to a seminary in Louisville asking about a student from that time frame named Lee Levy, Levi or Estes.  Of course, they didn’t find anything, but now I need to revisit this.  I will catch everyone up on that story, probably next week.  However, if you happen to know of a minister born about 1920 named Lee or Leo Thomas Devine, by all means, let me know.  And score one for the crazy aunts!

Also, were it not for both of those women, I would have no photos of the family – none.  Margaret had hers copied and sent them to me in the 1980s, with much ado and guilt inducing rhetoric.  Remember, they were drama queens, and very experienced ones too.  “No, you can’t pay me for them…I’ll  gladly do without food.” Ok, so maybe not quite that dramatic, but you get the drift.

Minnie shared her photos with her grandson’s x-wife, who graciously shared them with me. In fact, it was the grandson’s x-wife and her boys who helped Minnie/Betty through her elder years.  It’s a good thing we got copies of these photos when we did, because when the aunts died, there were absolutely no personal effects to be found anyplace.

Minnie’s grandson’s x-wife and sons did one more thing too….they got a DNA sample from Minnie during one of their visits, years ago.

Our maternal (mitochondrial) family tree is shown below.

  • Margaret and Minnie Estes
  • Ollie Bolton (1874 Hancock Co. TN – 1955 Chicago, Illinois) married William George Estes (divorced)
  • Margaret N. Claxton/Clarkson (1851-1920 Hancock Co., Tn) married Joseph “Dode” Bolton
  • Elizabeth Speaks (1832 Indiana-1903 Hancock Co. Tn) married Samuel Claxton
  • Ann McKee (1805 Washington Co., Va – 1840/1850 Lee Co., Va.) married Charles Speak
  • Elizabeth last name unknown married Andrew McKee (1766-1814)

This photo is of Elizabeth Speaks and Samuel Claxton in his Civil War uniform.

Elizabeth Speaks Samuel Claxton

I’d love to have a photo of Margaret Claxton/Clarkson and Joseph Bolton, but none have surfaced to date.  I’ve always wondered, though, if this photo taken about 1918, below, is of Margaret Estes (my aunt) and her grandmother, Margaret Claxton, and not her mother, Ollie.  The problem is with the labeling.  Another family member has this photo labeled “Margaret and grandma” which, depending on who wrote it, could be Ollie Bolton Estes or Margaret’s grandmother (Ollie’s mother,) Margaret Claxton.  Ollie would have been about 45-50 in the photo and her mother would have been about 65-70.  It was taken in Chicago, and I do have to wonder if Margaret Claxton would have visited Chicago, but you never know!

Margaret Estes and mother or grandmother

Here is Ollie Bolton Estes and William George Estes about 1914.

Ollie and William Estes

We think this colorized photo is of Ollie, but we’re not sure.  No label.  It was in Minnie’s photos, but it wasn’t in Margaret’s, so we don’t really know.

Possibly Betty's mother

Here’s Ollie as an older woman.

Ollie Bolton 1950s

We may not know Elizabeth MeKee’s maiden name, but we know that she and all of these women, her descendants, are haplogroup H, European.  No hidden Indian princesses here.  The problem is that when I tried to upgrade Minnie’s DNA sample to the full sequence to find out more, it failed.  Not enough DNA or too old.

I’d love to find someone else to test for this maternal line.  There’s a scholarship for anyone descended from any of these women in the maternal family tree through all females to the current generation.  In the current generation, the tester can be a male or female.   Women give their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of their children, but only females can pass it on.  For more info on how genealogy DNA testing works, click here.  If you descend from this line in any fashion, I’d love to hear from you.  You can leave a comment or e-mail me at

And as for those crazy aunts, I hope they found some common ground in the afterlife that they were unable to find here.  And maybe, just maybe, the family members “over there” are helping in some way to unravel this Ilo Bailey, William Estes, Leo Devine mystery.  Heaven knows, I can certainly use all the help I can get!



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GAP Messages or How to Look Like an Idiot Without Really Trying

Well, there’s nothing like embarrassing yourself, and publicly at that.  This past weekend, I sent a bulk message as a Family Tree DNA group project administrator (GAP) and it was a mess when it arrived.  Let’s look at what happened and how you can avoid having this happen to you.  Or conversely, if you receive one that looks like this – you’ll know it’s not that your volunteer administrator is an idiot, and you can send them this link.

I use MS Word – every day – and I’m pretty proficient with it.

I don’t use the GAP bulk message tool very often to communicate with my projects.  Some projects are just too big (think Cumberland Gap) and I’ve told all of them to subscribe to my blog to get up-to-date general information.  Therefore, when I send a GAP bulk message to project members, it’s about the project specifically, generally a surname project.  I do this about once a year kind of as a round-up for everyone.

But this year, my message came out as an embarrassing mess.

I typed it in Word with minimal formatting – nothing special.  Then I just copy/pasted it into the bulk mail tool.  It looked good, and I was done.  I pressed send and it was on its way to project members.  However, how it looked when it arrived was not what it looked like when I pressed send, and was embarrassing, to say the least.

Here’s just the first couple sentences.  I can’t bear to look at any more.  The red I’ve added so you don’t have to suffer through reading it.

Hello EstesProject Members and Happy New Year,

Once a year Itake an overall look at our project, do any cleanup I need to do, group orregroup people if they had taken additional tests, and do general maintenance.

You can seethe updated grouping at this link, and if you see anything that you think isincorrect, or amiss, please let me know.

Note the words that are all run together.  As administrators, we give advice and ask people to do things like upgrade their tests.  We need to be credible, and in this case, the tool we have makes us look anything but.  We don’t have to shoot ourselves in the foot – it’s already taken care of for us.

However, I discovered that, hidden away, is a fix.  The problem is that you have to KNOW to utilize it and how many people would know that?  I clearly didn’t.

Here’s what the body of the bulk e-mail tool looks like.  Your message goes below the toolbar.GAP bulk screen

On the toolbar, there is a little W button.  Turns out it’s the magic “Word Behave” button.Gap Word toolbar

Here it is even closer.GAP Word Toolbar closeup

When you’re ready to paste from a Word document, instead of doing “paste,” click on this little W button and follow the instructions to then press Ctl+V.  That tells the GAP tools that this is a Word document and apparently, not to “fix anything.”

And just so you know, this isn’t the only place this little gotcha is lurking.  This same editor tool is utilized in the Public Website page and in the Welcome E-mail as well, so if you’re going to copy/paste from Word, utilize the magic “Word Behave” button instead of using copy/paste.  Can’t remember what you did?  Maybe it’s time to go and check to see what your page looks like and what your automated welcome message looks like when it arrives.



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Searching for Ilo’s Son – 52 Ancestors #1

I decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 2014 challenge, “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”  Of course, I didn’t find out about it until yesterday, so I’m already a week behind, but I can catch up….and so can you.

I think Amy’s challenge is a really great idea for a couple of reasons.  First, it forces us to focus and breakthroughs seldom happen out of the blue.  Focus is the precursor to success.  Second, it gets the information out there – where it can be fishing for us – for cousins, for information, or for people who can DNA test.  Take a look at the week #1 recap.

I’m not sure I can turn out 52 weeks of stories that involve DNA, and this is a DNA blog, but I can certainly do a few.

I’ve always been much better at thinking outside the box than coloring in the lines, so I’m beginning my 52 ancestors by writing about someone I don’t know.  A half-brother I know that I had, at one time, but I don’t know anything more about him, except his approximate age and his mother’s first name, Ilo, and that in 1922 they had been living in the Battle Creek, Michigan area.  According to her letter, her family was from there, but she has suffered humiliation all alone.

ilo signature

You see, my real father was a bit of a rogue, a “ladies man” as they used to say.  Mom called him a Scallywag and that was one of the nicer things she had to say.

Estes, William Sterling WWI

My father, William Sterling Estes, met Ilo during the first World War.  He was born about 1903.  We’re not sure of his real birth year as he had “adjusted” his birth year to 1898 to join the military after his parents divorced and he found himself on his own.  He joined the Army in May of 1917, at age 14, and in 1919, was in the infirmary at Camp Custer, an Army base where he was stationed, outside Battle Creek, Michigan.  The flu epidemic had run rampant at Camp Custer, and I presume, but don’t know for sure, that that was why he was in the hospital.  He met his first wife there, my sister’s mother, and he also met Ilo.  In reality Ilo might have been his first “wife.”  We just don’t know for sure.

When my step-mother died in 1989, her daughter sent me a lot of my father’s things that she had kept over the years, including a box of letters.  In that box was a letter from Ilo to my father.

The Ilo letter is postmarked March 22, 1921 and it was addressed to Mr. William Estes, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Disc. Barracks.  Yes, that’s Fort Leavenworth as in the prison.  Imagine my surprise!  The letter wasn’t exactly “friendly” in tone, not that I can blame Ilo.  She and my mother probably shared a common opinion of my father for many of the same reasons.

“I was taking the pains in answering your letter to the baby.  I appreciated it very much to think that you thought of him.  As for me am very sorry to state that you are and have been since baby was born out of my life.  I am sacrificing the love of my parents and of what I call home just merely to get away from this town.  No doubt you will hear quite a bit about me on your return to Battle Creek. I am taking this from a letter that you sent to a certain party.  Stating what you were going to do when you came back.  This was told to me by one of your captors.  You talked to him when he came down there with prisoners.  And all you said came back to me.  And I know your disposition, or at least I think I do.  And am leaving on the strength of your own threats.  This may seem harsh but I cannot help it.  I am going away with some very fine people who are wealthy and willing to take care of baby and I.  I have my case in a lawyers hands.  I do not need your signature in the case at all.  I was illegally married to you in the first place and have suffered the disgrace all alone.  We are on our way to the south for a few months and we are coming North again sometime in June.  We are motoring through and happened to have a breakdown in Louisville so I thought while resting I would write you and let you know facts.  Please don’t be foolish and try to harm me or baby because it will only cause you sorrow.  Baby has been quite sick but is gaining some now.  He has grown since you last saw him and can nearly walk.  He is the only comfort that I have now and I hope he always stands by me.  Well as I am tired I will have to close.  I don’t suppose I will hear from you and I haven’t any definite address ???? traveling.  Well I will say goodbye and good luck.  Ilo and Baby.”

Oh, that she had simply written that baby’s name…

It seems that my father was in Fort Leavenworth because he had been AWOL, and it seems that him being AWOL just might have had something to do with having two women, in the same town, pregnant at the same time.  Remember, my father was only 16 at the time, really, a mere child himself.  He deserted in November 1919, after re-enlisting for a second term in May of 1919.  He was gone from the Army through April, 1920 when he was arrested for being AWOL.

My sister was born in May of 1920, so conceived in August of 1919.  This unnamed male child of Ilo’s appears to have been born between December 1919 and July of 1920, assuming he walked at the normal time babies learn to walk.  Therefore, he would have been conceived between March 1919 and October of 1919.  So Dad was busy indeed, with all this begatting going on.

When my father was released from Leavenworth in November of 1921, he traveled back to Michigan and married my sister’s mother 2 weeks later.  On that marriage application, he says he has never been married before.  But in Ilo’s letter, she says they were married, but it was illegal.  Clearly he had himself in a very uncomfortable position and could have been trying to decide which father was more likely to pull the trigger on the shotgun.  He and my sister’s mother divorced a couple of years later and he went on his merry and marrying way, but that is a story for another time.

Here’s a timeline:

  • March to October 1919 – Ilo’s son conceived
  • May 1919 – William Sterling Estes reenlists at Camp Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • August 1919 – my half-sister conceived
  • November 1919 – William Sterling Estes is AWOL
  • December 1919 to July 1920 – Ilo’s son born
  • April 1920 – William Sterling Estes arrested for being AWOL
  • May 1920 – my half-sister born
  • March 22, 1921 – Ilo’s letter to William Sterling Estes saying they had been married but it was illegal
  • November 1921 – William Sterling Estes released from Leavenworth, Kansas
  • December 12, 1921 – William Sterling Estes married my half-sister’s mother

But what happened to Ilo and to her young son?

Megan Smolenyak and I both tried to resolve this situation.  There are no court records to be found in Battle Creek or the neighboring County, at least not that we have been able to find.  I have significant doubts that I’ve seen everything as I was not allowed to review the court index books.  Their protocol was that you have to give the clerk the information and she would tell you whether it was there or not.  Camp Custer is located partly in two counties, so we were dealing with both Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties.

Megan found an Ilo from that area and then her son.  We contacted this man, and he is too young to be my brother.  He said he had a brother that was about 18 months older that died.  I sent him the letter from Ilo but he said it was not his mother’s handwriting, that she was nearly illiterate.  And there, if that was the trail at all, it went cold.  It stayed cold.  It’s still cold.  Was my brother the child who died?  Ilo said he had been sickly.

We don’t know the male child’s name, first, or last.  We don’t know Ilo’s surname.

There are so many stories about people with surprise half-sibling matches through autosomal testing.  I keep waiting for a half-sibling match, or maybe one slightly more removed.  Ilo’s son is likely deceased now, but he might have had children or grandchildren.  He may never have known who his father was.  Ilo was a young woman, obviously embarrassed by the situation as it was, and likely went on to marry and have a family.  I hope she found happiness.  Assuming she remarried, Ilo’s son’s step father could simply have “adopted” him by giving him his surname and until DNA testing, no one would ever know the difference.

So, if your mother or grandmother’s name was Ilo (or possibly Flo, although the signature looks like Ilo) and she lived in or near Battle Creek or Kalamazoo, Michigan, would have been maybe 18 or 20 or so about 1920, and had a male child, maybe she is the missing Ilo.

I’ve included the letter below, for handwriting comparison.

ilo letter page 1

ilo letter page 2

Ilo letter page 3

ilo letter last page



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Introducing the Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer

We have a brand new toy in our DNA sandbox today, thanks to Don Worth, a retired IT professional.  I just love it when extremely talented people retire and we, in the genetic genealogy community, are the benefactors of their Act 2 evolution.  Our volunteers make such a cumulative difference.

Drum Roll please.

Introducing…..the Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer, or ADSA.

The name alone doesn’t make your heart skip beats, but the product will.  This tool absolutely proves the adage that a picture is worth 1000 words.

Don described his new tool, which, by the way, is free and being hosted by Rob Warthen at, thus:

I created this tool in an attempt to put all the relevant information available that was needed to evaluate segment matches on a single, interactive web page. It relies on the three files for a single test kit that collects from These files include information about your matches, matching segment locations and sizes, and “in common with” (ICW) data. Using these files, the tool will construct a table for each chromosome which includes match and segment information as well as a visual graph of overlapping segments, juxtiposed with a customized, color-coded ICW matrix that will permit you to triangulate matching segments without having to look in multiple spreadsheets or on different screens in FamilyTreeDNA. Additional information, such as ancestral surnames, suggested relationship ranges, and matching segments and ICWs on other chromosomes is provided by hovering over match names or segments on the screen. Emails to persons you match may also be generated from the page. The web page produced by this program does not depend on any other files and may be saved as a stand-alone .html file that will function locally (or offline) in your browser. You can even email it to your matches as an attachment. You can play with a working sample output here.

Who wants to play with sample output?  I wanted to jump right in.  Word of caution…read the instructions FIRST, and pay attention, or you’ll wind up downloading your files twice.  The instructions can be found here.

I can’t tell you how many times, when I’ve been working with matches, that I’ve wondered to myself, “How many other people match us on this segment?”  For quite a while you could only download 5 people at a time, but now you can download the entire data file.  I’m a visual person.  To me, visually seeing is believing and the ADSA makes this process so much easier.  Truly, a picture is worth 1000 words.

I knew right away there were three things I wanted to do, so I’m going to run through each one of the three by way of examples to illustrate what you can do with the power of this wonderfully visual tool.  I’ve also anonymized the matches.

1. Clusters of matches.

I know I’ve told you that I’m mapping my DNA to ancestors.  When I first saw Don’s output, I knew immediately that this tool would be invaluable for grouping people from the same ancestral lines.

Barbara, the second row, is my mother and her DNA in this equation is extremely useful.  It helps me identify right away which side of my family a match comes from.  If you don’t have a parent available, aunts, uncles, cousins, all help, especially cumulatively.

Before we begin working with the results, take a minute and just sit and look at the graphic below.  These two clusters shown on this page, one near the top and the other at the bottom….they represent your ancestors.  Two very different ones in this case. This may be the only way you’ll ever “see” them, by virtue of a group of their descendants DNA clustered together.  A view through the keyhole of time provided by DNA. Isn’t it beautiful?

adsa cluster 1

All of these results in this “cluster of matches” example are my matches.  In other words, the file is mine and these are people who are matching me.  You can see that this tool provides us with start and end segments, total cMs and SNPs, and e-mails, but the true power is in the visual representation of the ICW (in common with) matrix.  The mapped segments are a nice touch too, and Don has listed these in progressive order, meaning from beginning to end of the segment (left to right.)

Look at this initial clustered group, shown enlarged below.  The first individual matches me and mother on one pink segment, but matches me on two segments, a pink and a black.  That means he’s from Mom’s side, or at least through one line, but probably somewhat distant since that one segment is his only match on any chromosome.  Because he also matches me on a segment where he doesn’t match Mom, he could also be related to me on my father’s side, or maybe we had a misread error on the black segment when comparing to Mom’s DNA. It is the adjoining segment.  In essence, there isn’t enough information to do much with this, except ask questions, so let’s move on to something more informative.

Beginning with the third person, the next grouping or cluster is entirely non-matching to mother, so this entire cluster is from my father’s side AND related to each other.

There are 6 solid matches here, and then they start to trail off to matches that aren’t so solid.

ADSA cluster 1 A

By flying over the match names with my cursor, I might be able to tell, based on their surnames, which line is being represented by this cluster of matches.  If I already have a confirmed cousin match in the group, then the rest of the group can be loosely attributed to that line, or a contributing (wife) line. Unfortunately, in this case, I can’t tell other than it looks like it might be through Halifax County, VA.  I do have an NPE there and some wives without surnames.

Let’s look on down this chromosome.  There is another very solid cluster, also on my Dad’s side.  In this second cluster, I have identified a solid cousin and I can tell you that this is a Crumley grouping.  My common ancestor with my Crumley cousin is William Crumley born about 1765 in Frederick Co., Va. and who died about 1840 in Lee Co., Va.  His wife is unknown, but we have her mitochondrial DNA.  Now this doesn’t mean that everyone in this group will all have a Crumley ancestor, they may not.  They may instead have a Mercer, a Brown, a Johnson or a Gilkey, all known wives’ surnames of Crumley men upstream of William Crumley.  But someplace, there is a common ancestor who contributed quite a bit of chromosome 1 to a significant number of descendants, and at least two of them are Crumleys.

ADSA Crumley cluster

At first, I found it really odd that my mother had almost no matches with me on chromosome 1.  Some of my mother’s ancestors came to the States later, from the Netherlands and from Germany.  Many of these groups are under-represented in testing.  However other ancestral groups have been here a long time, Acadians and Brethren Germans.  My father’s Appalachian, meaning colonial, ancestors seem to have more descendants who have tested.

However, looking now at chromosome 9, we see something different.

ADSA Acadian cluster

The second person, Doris, doesn’t match Mom anyplace, so is obviously related through my father, but look at that next grouping.

I can tell you based on hovering over the matches name that this is an Acadian grouping.  The Acadians are a very endogamous French-Canadian group, having passed the same DNA around for hundreds of years.  Therefore, a grouping is likely to share a large amount of common DNA, and this one does.

ADSA Acadian flyover

Based on this, I can then label all of these various matches as “Acadian” if nothing more.

Within a cluster, if I can identify one common ancestor, I can attribute the entire large group to the same lineage.  Be careful with smaller groups or just one or two rectangle matches.  Those aren’t nearly as strong and just because I match 2 people on the same segment doesn’t mean they match each other. However, when you see large segments of people matching each other, you have an ancestral grouping of some sort.  The challenge of course is to identify the group – but a breakthrough with one match means a likely breakthrough with the rest of them too, or at least another step in that direction.

2. Source of DNA

I have several cousins who match me on two or more distinct lines.  This tool makes it easy, in some cases, to see which line the DNA on a particular chromosome comes from.

I have both Claxton (James Lee Claxton/Clarkson born c 1775-1815 and Sarah Cook of Hancock Co., TN)  and Campbell (John Campbell b c 1772-1838 and Jane Dobkins born c 1780-1850/1860 of Claiborne Co., Tn.) ancestry.  My cousins, Joy and William do too.  In this case, you can see that Joy matches a Claxton (proven by Y DNA to be from our line) and so does William on the first green matching segment.  The second green segment is not found in the Claxton match, so it could be Claxton and the Claxton cousin didn’t receive it, or it could be Campbell, but it’s one or the other because Joy, William and I all three carry this segment.

ADSA Claxton Campbell

What this means is that the light green segments are Claxton segments, as are the fuchsia segments.  The source of the darker green segment is unknown.  It could be either Claxton or Campbell or a third common line that we don’t know about.

3.  Untangling Those Darned Moores

I swear, the Moore family is going to be the death of me yet. It’s one of my long-standing, extremely difficult brick walls.  It seems like every road of every county in Virginia and NC had one or more Moore families.  It’s a very common name.  To make thing worse, the early Moores were very prolific and they all named their children the same names, like James and William, generation after generation.

The earliest sign I can find of my particular Moore family is in Prince Edward County, Virginia when James Moore married Mary Rice (daughter of Joseph Rice and wife Rachel) in the early 1740s.  By the 1770s, the family was living in Halifax County, Virginia and their children were marrying and having children of their own of course.  They were some of the early Methodists with their son, the Reverend William Moore being a dissenting minister in Halifax County and his brothers Rice and Mackness Moore doing the same in Hawkins and Grainger County, TN.  Another son, James, went to Surry Co., NC.  We have confirmed this with a DNA descendant match.

We have the DNA of our Moore line proven on the Y side through multiple sons.  At the Moore Worldwide DNA project, we are group 19.  Now there are Moores all over the place in Halifax County.  I know, because I’ve paid for about half of them to DNA test and there are several distinct lines – far more than I expected.  Ironically, the Anderson Moore family who lived across the road from our James and then his son Rev. William, who raised the orphan Raleigh Moore, grandson of the Rev. William Moore, is NOT of the same Moore DNA line.  Based on the interaction of these two families, one would think assuredly that they were, which raises questions.  This Anderson Moore was the son of yet another James Moore, this one from Amelia County, VA., found in the large group 1 of the Moore project.  If this is all just too confusing and too close for comfort for you, well, join the crowd and what we Moore descendants have been dealing with for a decade now.

This raises the question of why there are so few matches to our Moore line.  Was our Moore line a “new Moore line,” born perhaps to a Moore daughter who gave the child her surname.  However, the child of course would pass on the father’s Y chromosome, establishing a “new” Moore genetic line.  I’m not saying that is what happened, just that it’s odd that there are so few matches to a clearly colonial Moore line out of Virginia.  With only one exception, someone genealogically stuck in Kentucky, to date, all DNA matches are all descendants of our James.  We do know that there was a William Moore, wife Margaret, living adjacent to James Moore in Prince Edward County but he and his wife sold out and moved on and are unaccounted for.

I’ve seen this same pattern with the Younger family line too, and sure enough, we did prove that these two different Y chromosome Younger families in fact do share a common ancestor.

So you can see why I get excited when I find anything at all, and I mean anything, about the Moore family line.

A Moore descendant of Raleigh, the orphan, has taken the autosomal Family Finder test, and he matched my cousin Buster, a known Moore descendant, and also another Cumberland Gap region researcher, Larry.  Larry also matches Buster.  I was very excited to see this three way match and I wrote to Larry asking if he had a Moore line.  Yes, he did, two in fact.  The Levi Moore line out of Kentucky and an Alexander Moore line out of Stokes County, NC, after they wandered down from Berks Co., PA. sometime before 1803.

Groan. Two Moores – I can’t even manage to sort one out, how will I ever sort two?

Then Larry told me that he had 4 of his cousins tested too.  Bless you Larry.

And better yet, one of Larry’s Moore lines is on his mother’s side and one on his father’s.  Even better yet.  Things are improving.

Now I’m really excited, right up until I discover that my cousin Buster matches two of Larry’s 3 cousins on his mother’s side and my Moore cousin from Halifax County, Virginia, matches the cousin on Larry’s father’s side.

How could I be THIS unlucky???

So I started out utilizing the ICW and Matrix tools at Family Tree DNA.  Because these people all matched Larry on overlapping segments on the chromosome browser, my first thought was maybe that these two Moore lines were really one and the same.  But then I pushed the ICW matches through to the Family Finder Matrix, and no, Larry’s paternal cousin does not match any of the three maternal cousins, who all match each other.  So the two Moore families are not one and the same.

Crumb.  Thank Heavens though for the Matrix which provides proof positive of whether your matches match each other.  Remember, you have two sides to each chromosome and you will have matches to both sides.  Without the Matrix tool, you have no way of knowing which of your matches are from the same side of your chromosome, meaning Mom’s side or Dad’s side.

Just about this time, as I was beginning to construct matrixes of who matches whom in the ICW compares between all of the ICW match permutations, I received a note from Don that he wanted beta testers for his new ADSA application.  I immediately knew what I was going to test!

I started with my cousin Buster’s kit.  Buster is one generation upstream from me, so one generation closer to the Moore ancestors.

On Larry’s maternal line, descended from the Levi Moore (Ky) line, he tested three cousins.  Buster had the following match results with Larry and his maternal line cousins.

  • Larry – match
  • Janice  – no match
  • Ronald  – match
  • B.J.  – match

I have redacted the e-mails and surnames below, but want to draw your attention to the individuals with the red arrows, as noted above.ADSA1 cropped v2

On the graphic below, I’m showing only the right side, so you can see the matching ICW (in common with) block patterns.  Larry is last, I’m second from last and Larry’s two cousins are the first and second red arrows.  We are all matching to my cousin, Buster.

ADSA2 cropped

You can see that all of these people match Buster.  Larry has blocks that are pink, red, fuchsia, gold, navy blue and lime green.  All of the group above, except me and two other people, one of which is my known cousin on another line, match Larry on these blocks, or at least most of these blocks.  I, however, match none of this group on none of these blocks, nor do my other known cousins who also descend through this same Moore line.  This means that this group matches Buster through Buster’s mother’s line, not through the Estes line, which means that this Moore line is not the James Moore line of Halifax County.  So the Levi Moore group of Kentucky is not descended from the James Moore group of Prince Edward and Halifax County.

Of course, I’m disappointed, but eliminating possibilities is just as important as confirming them.  I keep telling myself that anyway.

The male Moore descendant in Halifax Co., proven via Y line testing, does match with Chloa, Larry’s paternal cousin, and with Larry as well, as shown below.  Let’s see if we can discern any other people who match in a cluster, which would give us other people to contact about their Moore lines.  Keep in mind that we don’t know that the DNA in common here is from the Moore line.  It could come from another common line.  That is part of what we’d like to prove.


Let’s take a closer look at what this is telling us.

First, there’s a much smaller group, and this is the only chromosome where Chloa matches our Moore cousin.

So let’s look at each line.  The first person, John, doesn’t match anyone else, so he’s not in this group.

Larry and his cousin, Chloa are second and third from the bottom, and they form the match group.  You can see that they match exactly except Chloa has one brighter green segment that matches our Moore cousin in a location with no other matches.  However, the match group of navy blue, periwinkle, lime green and burgundy form a distinctive pattern.  In addition to Chloa and Larry, Virginia, and Arlina share the same segments, plus Arlina had a pink segment that Larry and Chloa don’t have.  Donald may be a cousin too, but we don’t know if Donald would also match the rest of the group.  Linda might match Donald, but doesn’t look like she matches the group, but she could.  At this point, we can drop back to Family Tree DNA and the matrix and take a look to see if these folks match each other in the way we’d expect based on the ADSA tool.

ADSA Matrix

Just like we expected, John doesn’t match anyone.  As expected, Larry, Chloa, Arlina, and Virginia all matched each other.  As it turns out, Linda does not match the rest of the group, but she does match Donald, who does match Arlina.  Therefore, our focus needs to be on contacting Arlina, Donald and Virginia and asking them about their Moore lines, or the surnames of known Moore wives, such as Rice in my James Moore line or wives surnames in Larry’s Moore line.  Just on the basis of possibility, I would also contact Linda and ask, but she is the long shot.  However, like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play, so just send that one extra e-mail.  You never know.  Life is made up of stories about serendipity and opportunities almost missed.

If Larry’s Moore line is the same as our Moore cousin’s line, genetically, maybe we can make headway by tracking Larry’s line.  Larry was kind enough to provide me with a website, and his Moore line begins with daughter Sarah.  Her father is Alexander Moore born in 1730 who married Elizabeth Wright.  His father was Alexander born in 1710 and who lived in Bucks Co., PA.  The younger Alexander died in Stokes Co., NC in 1803.

Moore website 1 cropped

Moore website 2

Moore website 3

Our next step is to see if this Alexander Moore line has been Y DNA tested.  Checking back at the Moore Worldwide project, this family line is not showing, but I’ve dropped a note to the administrators,  just the same.  Unfortunately, not everyone enters their most distant ancestor information which means that information is blank on the project website.

If this Alexander Moore line has been Y tested, then we already know they don’t match our group paternally.  The connection, in that case, if this genetic connection is a Moore line, could be due to a daughter birth.  If this Moore line has not been Y tested, then it means that I’ll be trying to track down a Moore descendant of one of these Alexander Moores to do the DNA test.  It would be wonderful to finally make some headway on the James Moore family.  We’ve been brick walled for such a long time.

If you descend from either of these Moore family lines, the James Moore (c 1720-c 1798) and Mary Rice line, or the Alexander Moore and Elizabeth Wright or Elizabeth Robinson line, please consider taking the Family Finder autosomal DNA test at Family Tree DNA.  If you know of a male Moore who descends from the Alexander Moore line, let’s see if he would be willing to Y DNA test.

There is a great deal of power in the combined results of descendants, as you can clearly see, thanks to Don Worth and his new Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer tool.

Give it a test run at:

Don wrote documentation and instructions, found here.  Please read them before downloading your files.

And Don, a big, hearty thank you for this new way to “see” our ancestors!  Thank you to Rob Warthen too for hosting this wonderful new tool!



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Thank you so much.

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Genea-Musings Best of 2013 – Congrats Genetic Genealogy Bloggers!

legal genealogist 2

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog fame creates a “Best of” blog about once a week during the year.  I have no idea how the man reads as much as he does – but I’m glad he does so I don’t have to.  He’s my guilt relief – as long as he’s reading I don’t have to feel guilty about what I’m missing – because he’s doing Cliff Notes for the rest of us!  At year end, he creates a “Best of the Best of” blog which are the 20 or so best bloggers of the year – genealogically speaking of course.

This year there were a total of 23 different blogs who were included, because there were a few ties for positions 1-20.  I found it significant that there were three genetic genealogy blogs in that number.  Well, technically, I guess there were only 2 and 1/7th.

That’s because CeCe Moore and yours truly were among the honorably mentioned at positions 20 and 14, respectively, with our full-time genetic genealogy blogs, but Judy Russell skunked the rest of us at #1, and I do mean that.  Her dynamo blog, The Legal Genealogist, received 35 “Best of” mentions during the year.  That’s one every 10 days, for Heavens sake!  Most bloggers feel lucky to receive just one!  Judy produces an amazing amount of extremely high quality content, publishing an article daily.  Does she sleep?

Every Sunday, Judy writes about genetic genealogy, so she’s 1/7th genetic genealogy blogger, but she’s a 100% A#1 author, no matter how you slice, rice and dice it.  Randy’s not the only one who thinks so either!

You can read Randy’s entire article here – and maybe subscribe to his blog if you don’t already.  It really is a wonderful resource.

Thanks Randy and congratulations Judy!!!  Both of you…keep up the great work!



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.

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Genealogy Services

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Second Sleep, the Rodent and Jewelry

Some stories are difficult to tell, well, at least without giving away all of the family scuttlebutt, secrets and airing dirty laundry.  But, I’m going to give this one a shot.  However, it’s one of those “long way around the block” stories, so here’s the get-your-cup-of-creamed-tea warning.

Oh, yes, and there’s another warning too…this is one of those husband-wife kinds of stories.  And believe it or not, there is DNA in here, eventually, but nothing at all like you would ever expect. I guarantee that!  And no scrolling ahead either.  Just enjoy the story.  It’s full of surprises with a couple twists along the way!

miss trouble copy

Since I’ve invited all of you along on the trip to the British Isles, you all know that Jim, my husband, was along with me.  If you recall, our original goal was to visit Lancashire, land of the Speak family, and the trip itself grew from that week into a month.  We added a few days onto the front of the trip in London.  Jim had never been to London.  I had been there, but it was long ago as a student and most of my memories….well…never mind about that.

I actually searched through my old photos to see if there is one of me in London in 1970 to share with you, but unfortunately, I’m not actually in any of my photos from that trip.  I’m taking the photos and in retrospect, I wish I had understood photography basics at that time.  Let’s just say I have a lot of out of focus pictures of the backs of people in front of buildings that I can’t identify, and pigeons, lots of pigeons.

London pigeons

In any event, before Jim and I left for the British Isles, we scheduled our time and our transportation and pretty much knew what we were going to be doing when, more or less.  Neither Jim nor I are strangers to travel, so we know enough to plan generally and to leave enough flexibility to adapt to local circumstances.  For example, some years back, we discovered in Vancouver that one city tour picked up at our hotel, where the others didn’t.  But we didn’t discover that until we asked at the hotel, so we were glad we hadn’t prebooked and prepaid.

Our London itinerary that we so carefully planned around 2.5 precious days looked like this:

  • Day 1 – arrival and half day historic tour including the Tower of London and possibly the Science Museum
  • Day 2 – full day tour of London or Stonehenge, depending on weather
  • Day 3 – full day tour of whichever one we didn’t do on day 2
  • Day 4 – leave bright and early with our family group for the Lancashire part of the journey

Please notice that there is no spare time in this schedule, no spare half day, and both day 2 and day 3 are kind of an all or nothing thing.  In other words, you either go on the tour or you don’t, there is no half-day option.  This will become important in a little bit.

And if you’ll remember, Day 1 did not go well, or at least not as planned.  That’s the day I learned to swear in Brit….Bloody Hell….and we wound up staying in a very small, very expensive room in a hotel with no air conditioning, (because we had no reservation in the hotel where we were supposed to be staying) in a heat wave.  We not-so-affectionately called this hotel the Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven.  Just to set the scene for you.

On the evening of Day 1, after our delightful impromptu afternoon tour with Said, our chauffeur, I fell asleep about 8 PM, which is unheard of for me.  I’m a night owl.  The red-eye from the night before just wiped me out.

Now, keep in mind we are sleeping in the Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven.  It’s hot and very close as the room is very small – like 18 inches of clearance around the bed small.  No AC but we have a fan that helps a little.  I didn’t care, I was exhausted.  Oh, there is also no bedside clock either.

So I fell into a dead sleep and woke up quite refreshed.  There is one window, with a light blocking curtain.  It appeared to be dark outside.  I got up and fumbled around since I didn’t want to wake Jim up by turning on a light.  By the time I found my phone, and discovered it was about 1 AM, London time, I was wide awake.

Now my cousin, Elaine, a historian, is probably laughing heartily now, because she identified this concept as that of “second sleep.”  It turns out that our ancestors all slept in two shifts. They would sleep for 3 or 4 hours, get up for awhile and do things like write letters, or make babies, and then go back to sleep for 3 or 4 more hours.

So, I had in advertently instituted the concept of second sleep.  The problem is, Jim didn’t know about second sleep.

I was also hungry and managed to grope around in the dark and find a bag of trail mix. I was quite proud of myself for not having to turn on one of our two light bulbs in the Kenner Easy Bake Oven.

About 2:30 AM, Jim wakes up.  Not entirely, just a little, and hears something.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Jim thinks, “Oh Heavens, that’s a huge rodent.”

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

”Really huge.”

Click, click, click.

”The rodent is typing?”  ”Huh???”


Now mind you, he wasn’t concerned about me – he wanted ME to go and take care of the rodent problem.  Sigh.

He was quite startled by the crunching, clicking rodent and by then he was awake too.  I explained to him about second sleep but he was a skeptic and gave me “that look.”  So, as long as he was up anyway, I asked him to help me upload photos from the camera since I was working on his MAC and not a PC.  For some reason, being the middle of the night, he had an issue with this but since we were in the Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven and he couldn’t sleep either, he did help me.

After that, maybe about 4 AM, he starting using words like “crazy” and started singing “lunatic” songs, which made me laugh.  No, not just laugh, but laugh like the crazy woman I obviously am.  Somehow the sheer lunacy of being in a tiny very hot room in London wide awake in the middle of the night and Jim’s large rodent seemed utterly hilarious. His last words to me before we finally fell asleep after laughing ourselves into hysterical tears was “If you tell me you’re tired tomorrow I’m going to beat you with an organic carrot.”

The next morning, he woke me up about 8:30 to get ready to go on the Stonehenge tour, and I really didn’t want to get up, so I groaned, rolled over, and said “I’m tired” and the peals of laughter began all over again…..

I will share the very special story of Stonehenge with you in a few days.

Stonehenge Jim and I

Stonehenge closeup

On the way back from Stonehenge, a 2 hour ride on the bus, we started to discuss the itinerary for Day 3, and then Jim started to do “the husband thing.”

Yes, that husband thing.  They all do it, but each one has their own style.

It’s what they do when they know they are about to be in trouble, that’s Big Trouble or maybe even BIG TROUBLE.  When they are at the point where they have to fess up.  In Jim’s case, he generally mutters and pretends that he told me something already, and then acts offended that I didn’t remember.

Now keep in mind that we had very carefully discussed and planned our 2.5 days in London…for weeks…and that after arrival, on Day 1, we decided on which day to visit Stonehenge and which day to do the London city tour.

So, here’s how the conversation went.

Jim – “I think we should leave for the tour tomorrow a little later.”

Roberta – “What do you mean by ‘a little later?’”

Jim – “Like late morning, around lunch time.”

Roberta – “Why would we do that and how can we?  The tour leaves in the morning.”

Jim, barely audible – “Because I have that appointment in the morning.”

Roberta – “What appointment?”

An appointment?  What appointment?  Jim doesn’t know anyone in London.  How the Bloody Hell can he have an appointment?  And it just came up in the last day, while he’s been on vacation, since we last discussed this?  I’ll just leave the conversation above, at this point, for the sake of decency.  Let’s just say, it was headed in a downward spiral and I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks.

It seems that one of Jim’s international customers had an office in London, or so he claims, and Jim saw the opportunity to be a hero by “sacrificing” one of his vacation days and calling on said customer to “explain something.”  Well, of course, that’s not how Jim phrased it.  His version included the words “had to” and “salary continuation plan,” but I know Jim.

Did I mention that I was doing a daily family blog, for the kids, my quilt sisters and cousins to keep up with our great adventure?  I also find that blogging, which is really, in the case of my “Journeys” blog, shared journaling, makes it much easier to organize photos later too, as we upload them daily to a file folder and I select from them as I write the blog.  The biggest challenge is getting a signal and bandwidth to post the blog as we travel, but I digress.

Let me share with you the family blog from Night 2.  It was a little different that the one from the night before which included the hysterical laughter episode.  Let’s just say that the only people laughing about Night 2 were the readers…

“Hmmm, Jim is asleep and I’m obviously not.  Now Jim is also in trouble.

Jim made a customer appointment for tomorrow morning.  I can hear you now….”he didn’t!”  Yes, he did…and yes, without talking to me about it.  We only had 2 full days here and he took the morning of one of the days so that means we can’t do a full day tour tomorrow.  Well, I could, but the problem is that because of the hotel booking screw-up, we have to move hotels in the AM and I am NOT dragging all of his luggage plus mine to another hotel several blocks away.  I mean, his main suitcase alone is over 50 pounds, and full of electronic gadgets.  It would take me several trips like a Mama cat moving her litter to move all this luggage. So, he’ll just have to come back here and retrieve his mad-as-a-wet-hen wife in the lobby sitting and waiting with all of the luggage because it’s after checkout, even after late checkout.  No, the appointment was NOT first thing in the AM. Yes he’s in a lot of hot water which makes this Kenner Easy Bake room seem cool by comparison.

So, all things considered, would it be terribly evil of me to turn off the light, get the trail mix, sit down on the floor beside the bed where he is sleeping….and crunch??????”

Suffice it to say that Jim was lucky that he wasn’t sleeping on the only couch in the place which was located in the lobby.  But regardless, I was really steamed, and not just because I was sleeping in the Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven.

Now, if you’re a female, right about now, you’re probably shrieking, “He WHAT?????” and if you’re a male, you’ve just dropped your head into your hands and you’re shaking your head and groaning, “Oh no,” because you know what’s coming.

Now in Jim’s guy-brain, it would just all be OK because I would just stay in the hotel, with the luggage, and wait for him and we’d go on the tour later.  No problem.

Well, we have two huge problems, aside from the mad-as-a-wet-hen wife problem.

Problem one is that you can’t just leave later on the tour, so in essence he was going to ruin the entire day for both of us, more than one third of our time in London.  I would have gone without him, except I couldn’t because of problem two.

Problem two is that this was the day we had to check out of the Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven by 11 AM and return to the hotel where we were supposed to be staying and where we were meeting the rest of our tour group.  Unfortunately, check-in there wasn’t until 3:30.  I told the gal at the front desk the situation, and after she stopped laughing, she said that I could extend the checkout until noon, but beyond that, I’d just have to bring my stuff to the lobby and sit there and wait, or haul all of our luggage, a month’s worth for 2 people, by myself, to the other hotel, where I could sit in their lobby and wait until check-in time.

Now, the good news….the lobby was air conditioned.

The bad news….Jim didn’t know what time he was actually going to be back.

The morning of Day 3 wasn’t fun no matter how you paint it.  Jim left early to deal with transportation issues.  I got up and packed both of our luggage, ate breakfast and then moved to the lobby and made myself a nest on the couch.

luggage in lobby

When I was arranging for late checkout and then checking out, I had to explain to the gal on the desk about why – especially when I had the same credit card but a different name entirely.  When I explained the situation, she said, “Well Honey, you have his credit card. You just put your luggage back here behind the counter and I’ll keep it safe until he gets back.  I’ll call you a taxi and I know a wonderful jewelry store.  You can shop until time to check in at the other hotel.”

I thought about this, then asked, “But how would I know when Jim got back?” and she said, “I’ll call you….no better yet…I’ll just call the taxi driver….and I’ll tell your husband exactly where you are and what you are doing.”  And she smiled a very big smile.  I really, really like this gal.  I’m sure that back somewhere in time, we’re related!  We obviously share the jewelry gene.

Now for a minute, I did consider that.  I seems like SUCH a good idea.  I even considered just faking it to see Jim’s face.  Seemed like a Kodak moment just waiting to happen.  But in the end I just went and sat on the couch.  I really did not want to escalate this little “tiff” into a war….so I waited, and waited, and waited….and I thought about calling Said but then I would have had to admit to Said what boneheaded thing Jim had done….and then Said would have had to deal with all of that luggage…if he was even available.  Plus, Jim had, inadvertently I think, taken most of the British cash.  So instead, I stood outside within sight of the luggage and took a picture of the tile sidewalk that looked like a quilt, and then I sat in the lobby, feeling quite abandoned, and stewed…and read a book…and waited.  At least it was air conditioned and it was a good book.

London tiles cropped

When Jim finally returned, late, sometime after lunch, which he had eaten and I hadn’t because I couldn’t leave the %#@*^ luggage, we moved to the hotel where we were supposed to be originally.  After we checked in, we then verified that it was too late to do the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour, and that’s when we decided to walk to the Science Museum.  We enjoyed the Science Museum, especially seeing the double helix model.  I’ve already shared that with you…but you didn’t know the back story then.

But just for good measure, obviously in a moment of fleeting insanity, Jim immortalized the non-event and took a picture of me pointing to the tour at the Hop-On location that we walked right past, but were too late to take!  Yep, that’s the red bus we weren’t on, right on that poster!

tour we didn't do

That evening, we met the tour group that included my cousins and went to the tavern and ate fish and chips…what else, and spotted dick.  I was almost over being mad at Jim, almost, when I discovered two things as he visited with my cousins.

First, he had showed his customers my family blog entry about him being in trouble.  I guess he was, or maybe he wasn’t, amused.  I don’t know which and it didn’t matter.  I’m not sure whether he was trying to engender sympathy or show his corporate dedication, but suffice it to say that the female account rep offered to give me the addresses of “good” London jewelry stores.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for Jim, we were headed out of London.

Second, and this is what sealed his fate…he replied to my family blog with a comment….and this is what he said, waxing philosophic.

“It would be impossible to plead my case here, so I will not even make any attempt to. Perhaps it is best to simply say that sometimes the most difficult of situations makes for the best of possibilities overall.

I am also confident that jewelry may salve the wounds of a few lost hours of vacation time.

Life is an unscripted journey, and without a few detours or speed bumps, where would the fun be?”

I was so mad I was making up my own swear words…kind of like Bill Cosby who got so exasperated in his old “Himself” series of stand-up comedy videos that he couldn’t even talk without stammering and sputtering.

By now, both men and women are probably groaning and saying, “Oh no.  Someone take that man’s shovel away from him cause the hole he’s digging is just getting deeper and deeper.”

Well, yes and no.

You see, as it turns out, Jim was, um….er… r, i, g, h, t.  This is probably the only time I’ll ever say thatlemon, and publicly, no less, but it turned out that he was right.  Yes, seriously.  Hey, when you’ve got a lemon this big you have no choice but to make lemonade cause it’s too sour to eat and too heavy to carry around!

Well, truth be told, by now Jim is probably regretting being right, because, you see, it led to innovation, reinvention, metamorphosis and of course…you know what’s coming… jewelry.

I spent the entire rest of the trip looking for jewelry….because he, most assuredly owed me, big time, and being a wife, I had a certain wifely obligation to not let that opportunity go unfulfilled.  Kind of like the time he accidentally spent a bunch of money in the casino on a cruise, way more than he intended….he came back to the room with jewelry.  He may be a guy…but he is not dumb.  That jewelry made me forget entirely about his casino tab!!!  I mean at that point, there is nothing you can do about the tab so might as well enjoy the jewelry!

I told Jim this was my DNA trip so my new jewelry was going to be my DNA jewelry. But I never found any jewelry that I liked, and I certainly found nothing that reminded me in any way of DNA.  I was disappointed, to say the least.  Free ticket to jewelry and I can’t even find any to purchase.

So, I told Jim, I’m just going to have to design it myself.  A look of horror shot across his face.

By this time, Jim was actually actively encouraging me to buy something, anything, to settle the debt.Claddaugh ring

“Here, don’t’ you like this?  Look, a Claddaugh ring with a green stone.  How about this?”


“How about this red bus charm?  Reminds me of the London busses.” red bus charm

“No, not that one either!  Reminds me of the tour we didn’t get to go on.”

And so it went.  I think he was getting frightened.  I think maybe he realized, all too late, just how much trouble he was really in.  Ah, the cost of being right.

But I found no jewelry.  This jewelry had to be special jewelry.  Really special jewelry.  Worth-a-day-in-London and being-abandoned-in-the-Kenner’s-Easy-Bake-Oven-hotel-lobby special jewelry.  The more I thought about it, I really did want DNA jewelry.  What started as a half-joke meant to be a cute throw-away comment became an inspiration and grew on me.  So I googled, and nothing…no DNA jewelry, or none that I wanted.

So, I came home and set about designing my own, with my long-time trusty family jeweler, Al Hummer of Ore Creek Custom Jewelry.  He made our wedding set years ago, and since then, those of several friends and family members too.  And better yet, I took some older jewelry I had and rebirthed it, kind of like DNA, recombined it and gave it some mutations. Oh, no, not my wedding set.  I wasn’t THAT mad at Jim.  The new DNA ring was ready the week before Christmas.  Amazing, the timing of that…and the necklace and earrings will be finished after New Year’s.

It’s actually going to be a new custom jewelry line, called the Helix line, and it’s beautiful….stunning…fitting of the DNA legacy and helix name.  We’ve already designed a second helix inspired set too that will be available in the spring of 2014.  Maybe by Valentine’s Day!  What timing!

So yes, this will be available for everyone, not just me.

But I can’t tell you any more until the line is finished, the before and after pictures of the rebirthed jewelry taken and the professional photography of the Helix pieces completed.

What, you want a sneak peek?  Well, OK, but just one, and don’t tell Al that I let you peek, because he wants the new line to be just perfect and make a splash in the jewelry and DNA world.  He’d be mortified at my own “DNA ring selfie” picture.

See the helix?  I’ll tell you all about the process later.  It’s been wonderfully fun and it’s full of personal significance, just like our DNA!

DNA Ring

Oh, and what about Jim you ask?  I bet he’ll never say anything like that again.  I mean, the man in essence gave me a blank check, obviously in a fit of macho bravado…in writing…with witnesses.  I mean, how does it get better than that?  I’d have to get Judy Russell’s opinion of course, but IMHO, that was a binding contract.  I guess that is the price of being right!  And he was.  Jewelry is salving the wound, every single day.  Right this minute in fact.  That “hiccup” led to the birth a wonderfully innovative and transformative jewelry line.  Who knew?  Sometimes opportunity knocks in mysterious ways, wearing work clothes, or maybe in the forsaken lobby of the Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven hotel in London.

After all, as Jim said, life is an unscripted journey, and without a few detours or speed bumps, where would the fun be?”  Sometimes the blessings and the successes are in the detours.  I’m always reminded that Thomas Edison’s first 99 light bulbs were “failures,” or experiments, or as I’d prefer to call them, “learning experiences,” but no one knows about those.  Number 100 couldn’t have happened without 1-99, but it’s only number 100 that counts and is remembered today!

So now, when we announce the Helix line sometime in early 2014, you’ll know at least part of the rest of the story.  And yes, of course, there’s more…;)



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X-Chromosome Matching at Family Tree DNA

Just as they promised, and right on schedule, Family Tree DNA today announced X chromosome matching.  They have fully integrated X matching into their autosomal Family Finder product matching.  This will be rolling live today.  Happy New Year from Family Tree DNA!!!

In the article, X Marks the Spot, I showed the unique inheritance properties of the X chromosome.  In a nutshell, men only inherit one copy from their mother, because they inherit a Y from their father, but women get a copy from both parents.  Still, you don’t inherit parts of your X from all of your ancestors, so knowing your own X inheritance pattern can help immensely to rule out common genealogy lines when you match someone on the X.

In their informational rollout, Family Tree DNA provided the following information about their new features.

Here is the menu link to the Family Finder Matches menu.

x match 1

On the Family Finder Matches page, there is a filter to show only X-Matches.

x match 2

When you use the X-Match filter on a male Family Finder kit, you should get only matches from the maternal X-Chromosome.

x match 3

Next, like other Family Finder Matches you can expand the advanced bar for a match and click to add the match to the Compare in Chromosome Browser list.

x match 4

Matches are added to the Compare in Chromosome Browser list. You could go right to the Chromosome Browser by clicking on the compare arrow at this point.

x match 5

Next we can also go right to the Chromosome Browser.

x match 6

The Chromosome Browser also lets you filter the match list by X-Matches.

x match 7

Here are three immediate relatives. The first two share X-Chromosome DNA. The third (green) one does not.

x match 8

When we scroll down to the X at the bottom, we see that X-Matching is displayed for the first two but not the third.

x match 9

Moving to the Advance Matching page, X-Chromosome matches have also been integrated.

x match 10

X-Match is an option that can be checked alongside other types of testing.

x match 11



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.

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2013 – DNA-eXplained in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepare annual reports for blogs.  I really like this service, and here’s a summary of what it said.

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year.  This blog was viewed about 460,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 20 days for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 147 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 241 posts. There were 688 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 268 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was October 1st with 3,681 views. The most popular post that day was Mexican Women’s Mitochondrial DNA Primarily Native American.

These are the posts that received the most views in 2013.

People from 192 countries all over the world joined you in viewing

2013 blog reach

I started this blog in June 2012, so 2013 was the first complete year.  In 2013, I posted 94 articles and the blog received about 86,000 views, which would translate to about 172,000 on an annualized basis.

These numbers don’t include people who read the blog via RSS feeds or though e-mails.  They would account for another half a million or so a year.

In 2013, I added 147 new articles for a total of 241, and there were 460,000 views, which, on an annual basis, increased 267%.  Between these views and the e-mail and RSS subscriptions, we’re looking at about a million viewers in 2013.  Not bad for a topic I wasn’t sure would be popular!

Thank you one and all.  I know we’re going to have a stellar 2014 together!



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 Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research