STRs vs SNPs, Multiple DNA Personalities

One of the questions I receive rather regularly is about the difference between STRs and SNPs.

Generally, what people really want to understand is the difference between the products, and a basic answer is really all they want.  I explain that an STR or Short Tandem Repeat is a different kind of a mutation than a SNP or a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism.  STRs are useful genealogically, to determine to whom you match within a recent timeframe, of say, the past 500 years or so, and SNPs define haplogroups which reach much further back in time.  Furthermore SNPs are considered “once in a lifetime,” or maybe better stated, “once in the lifetime of mankind” type of events, known as a UEP, Unique Event Polymorphism, where STRs happen “all the time,” in every haplogroup.  In fact, this is why you can check for the same STR markers in every haplogroup – those markers we all know and love.


This was a pretty good explanation for a long time but as sequencing technology has improved and new tests have become available, such as the Full Y and Big Y tests, new mutations are being very rapidly discovered which blurs the line between the timeframes that had been used to separate these types of tests.  In fact, now they are overlapping in time, so SNPs are, in some cases becoming genealogically useful.  This also means that these newly discovered family SNPs are relatively new, meaning they only occurred between the current generation and 1000 years ago, so we should not expect to find huge numbers of these newly developed mutations in the population.  For example, if the SNP that defined haplogroup R1b1a2, M269, occurred 15,000 years ago in one man, his descendants have had 15,000 years to procreate and pass his M269 on down the line(s), something they have done very successfully since about half of Europe is either M269 or a subclade.

Each subclade has a SNP all its own.  In fact, each subclade is defined by a specific SNP that forms its own branch of the human Y haplotree.

So far, so good.

But what does a SNP or an STR really look like, I mean, in the raw data?  How do you know that you’re seeing one or the other?

Like Baseball – 4 Bases

The smallest units of DNA are made up of 4 base nucleotides, DNA words, that are represented by the following letters:

A = Adenine
C = Cytosine
G = Guanine
T = Thymine


These nucleotides combine in pairs to form the ladder rungs of DNA, shown right that connect the helix backbones.  T typically combines with A and C usually combines with G, reaching between the backbones of the double helix to connect with their companion protein in the center.

You don’t need to remember the words or even the letters, just remember that we are looking for pattern matches of segments of DNA.

Point Mutations

Your DNA when represented on paper looks like a string of beads where there are 4 kinds of beads, each representing one of the nucleotides above.  One segment of your DNA might look like this:

Indel example 1

If this is what the standard or reference sequence for your haplotype (your personal DNA results) or your family haplogroup (ancestral clan) looks like, then a mutation would be defined as any change, addition, or deletion.  A change would be if the first A above were to change to T or G or C as in the example below:

Indel example 2

A deletion would be noticed if the leading A were simply gone.

Indel example 3

An addition of course would be if a new bead were inserted in the sequence at that location.

Indel example 4

All of the above changes involve only one location.  These are all known as Point Mutations, because they occur at one single point.


A point mutation may or may not be a SNP.  A SNP is defined by geneticists as a point mutation that is found in more than 1% of the population.  This should tell you right away that when we say “we’ve discovered a new SNP,” we’re really mis-applying that term, because until we determine that the frequency which it is found in the population is over the 1% threshold, it really isn’t a SNP, but is still considered a point mutation or binary polymorphism.

Today, when SNPS, or point mutations are discovered, they are considered “private mutations” or “family mutations.”  There has been consternation for some time about how to handle these types of situations.  ISOGG has set forth their criteria on their website.  They currently have the most comprehensive tree, but they certainly have their work cut out for them with the incoming tsunami of new SNPS that will be discovered utilizing these next generation tests, hundreds of which are currently in process.


A STR, or Short Tandem Repeat is analogous to a genetic stutter, or the copy machine getting stuck.  In the same situation as above, utilizing the same base for comparison, we see a group of inserted nucleotides that are all duplicates of each other.

STR example

In this case, we have a short tandem repeat that is 4 segments in length meaning that CT is inserted 4 times.  To translate, if this is marker DYS marker 390, you have a value of 5, meaning 5 repeats of CT.

So I’ve been fat and happy with this now for years, well over a decade.

The Monkey Wrench

And then I saw this:

“The L69/L159 polymorphism is essentially a SNP/STR oxymoron.”

To the best of my knowledge, this is impossible – one type of mutation excludes the other.  I googled about this topic and found nothing, nor did I find additional discussion of L69, other than this.

L69 verbiage

My first reaction to this was “that’s impossible,” followed by “Bloody Hell,” and my next reaction was to find someone who knew.

I reached out to Dr. David Mittelman, geneticist and Chief Scientific Officer at Gene by Gene, parent company of Family Tree DNA.  I asked him about the SNP/STR oxymoron and he said:

“This is impossible. There is no such thing as a SNP/STR.”

Whew!  I must say, I’m relieved.  I thought there for a minute there I had lost my mind.

I asked him what is really going on in this sequence, and he replied that, “This would be a complex variant — when multiple things are happening at once.”

Now, that I understand.  I have children, and grandchildren – I fully understand multiple things happening at once.  Let’s break this example apart and take a look at what is really happening.

HUGO is a reference standard, so let’s start there as our basis for comparison.

HUGO variant 1

In the L69 variant we have the following sequence.

HUGO variant 2

We see two distinct things happening in this sequence.  First, we have the deletion of two Gs, and secondly, we have the insertion of one additional TG.  According to Dr. Mittelman, both of these events are STRs, multiple insertions or deletions, and neither are point mutations or SNPs, so neither of these should really have SNP names, they should have STR type of names.

Let’s look at the L159 variant.

HUGO variant 3

In this case, we have the GG insertion and then we have a TG deletion.

In both cases, L69 and L159, the actual length of the DNA sequence remains the same as the reference, but the contents are different.  Both had 2 nucleotides removed and 2 added.

The good news is, as a consumer, that you don’t really need to know this, not at this level.  The even better news is that with the new discoveries forthcoming, whether they be STRs or SNPs, at the leafy end of the branch, they are often now overlapping with SNPs becoming much more genealogically useful.  In the past, if you were looking at a genetics mutation timeline, you had STRs that covered current to 1000 years, then nothing, then beginning at 5,000 or 10,000 years, you have SNPs that were haplogroup defining.

That gap has been steadily shrinking, and today, there often is no gap, the chasm is gone, and we’re discovering freshly hatched recently-occurring SNPs on a daily basis.

The day is fast approaching when you’ll want the full Y sequence, not to further define your haplogroup, but to further delineate your genealogy lines.  You’ll have two tools to do that, SNPs and STRs both, not just one.



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

John Whitney Ferverda (1882-1962) and the Body in the Garage – 52 Ancestors #6

John Ferverda

My grandfather’s name was John Whitney Ferverda.  I’ve always wondered about that middle name, with no idea where it came from.  It does not appear to be a family name.

He was born on December 26, 1882 in Plain Township, Kosciusco County, Indiana, on a farm to Hiram B. (probably Bauke) Ferverda and Evaline Louise Miller Ferverda.  He died on June 9th 1962.  I was 7 and I remember him, albeit somewhat vaguely.  His wife. Edith Barbara Lore Ferverda who he had married in Rushville, Indiana in 1908 had just died 18 months before, so it had been a rough couple years in the family.  With John Ferverda’s death, the homeplace had to be sold, the furniture divided, and all of those things that signal the end of an era and what we’ve come to know as closure needed to be done.

John and Edith had two children, my mother, Barbara, and one son, Harold Lore Ferverda, known by the family as Lore.

I think I’ll let Mom introduce you to her father, in her own words.  I gave my Mother a book called “Grandmother’s Memories” to complete for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She did, at first in her own hand, and then later, as her handwriting became more difficult to read, she would tell me the answers and I would write them for her.  The book asked questions or gave topic suggestions.

My Father’s name was John Whitley Ferverda.  He was born in 1882 and died in 1962.  He had blue eyes.

My Father’s most precious memory:

When I was so sick with rheumatic fever, every morning he carried me downstairs to the davenport and every evening upstairs to bed.  He always had time to read to me.  I was too sick to read for myself.  I was 7 or 8 and he read everything to me I could get my hands on.  He worked at the Ford Agency in Silver Lake selling cars and trucks.  When I went to school, we walked and went the next half block further to the Ford Agency and asked Dad for a nickel.  When he gave it to me, I promptly went to the drug store and bought a Hershey bar, which Dad knew I’d do.

My Father’s best story about growing up:

He was one of 11 children.  From their farm they walked over to Tippecanoe Lake to swim which was about a mile.  He took enough schooling to be a teacher, but never secured a position with the school. Instead he started with the railroad and was sent to Rushville where he met Mother.

John Ferverda against car

Here’s a bit more info from the “History of Kosciusko County, Indiana” 1919:

John Ferverda is a merchant of successful experience and has been identified with the hardware trade at Silver Lake for a number of years, being one of the live and enterprising business men and citizens of that locality.

He was born in Plain Township of this county Dec. 26, 1882, a son of Hiram B. and Eveline Miller Ferverda, both of whom now reside at Leesburg.  John Ferverda grew up on his father’s farm in Plain Township and was liberally educated.  He attended both the common and high schools of Oswego, being a graduate of both, and also was a student in the Tri-State Normal at Angola.  For his scholarship he was granted a license to teach, but never used it in that profession.  His life was spent largely at home until the age of 22.  Having mastered the art of telegraphy, he entered the service of the Big Four Railway as an operator, and was assigned at different stations along that system and remained in that service about 10 years.  In 1916, Mr. Ferverda left the railroad to take up business and is now a member of the F. and F. Hardware Company of Silver Lake.

John is shown in front of his hardware store, below.

Ferverda and hardware store cropped

In 1907 he married Miss Edith B. Lore, a native of Rush Co., Indiana and a high school graduate.  They have one son, Harold L., born November 24, 1915.  Mr. and Mrs. Ferverda are members of the Lutheran Church and he is affiliated with the Denning Lodge No 88, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at North Manchester, and of the Knights of Pythias Lodge.  In politics, he is a republican.

Was he ever a Republican.  I remember Mom talking about her father quizzing potential suitors.  The first question he would ask them is whether or not they were Republican.  Mom said she knew better than to bring home a Democrat!!!  For years Mom had a small ivory elephant watch charm about an inch long that was his that I suspect was meant as the symbol of the Republican Party.

At some point, before his marriage, probably while in college, John was in some sort of a play.  He is the front row, bottom left corner.

ferverda and play

John studied to be a teacher, but for some reason, after graduating, never pursued that avenue.  Instead, he joined the railroad as a telegraph operator and station master.  He was assigned to Rushville, Indiana.  We don’t know exactly when he went to Rushville, but in an article in the Rushville paper, dated January 25, 1907, John was a pallbearer for Miss Maude Foust who died of typhoid.  We also know he sang tenor in a quartet at the Presbyterian Church in Rushville, based on a November 1908 news report .

While in Rushville, John met and married Edith Barbara Lore, daughter of Curtis Benjamin, known as CB, Lore and Ellenore “Nora” Kirsch Lore. She too attended the Presbyterian Church.

Ferverda - Lore marriage license

Ferverda-Lore marriage license

Rushville Republican Newspaper, Jan. 3, 1910 – John Ferveda who was recently transferred to cashier at the local office has been given the agency at Silver Lake in the northern part of the state and will leave here in the next few weeks.

John and Edith moved back to Silver Lake where John served as the station master and where they spent the rest of their lives.

While their immediate family was small, John had many siblings in the area.  He was one of 11 children born to Hiram and Eva Ferverda.  One of his siblings, Roscoe, lived across the street from him in Silver Lake, Indiana.

ferverda family original photo

Ferverda family description cropped

John Ferverda’s parents were Brethren, although it appears that not all of the family continued in that faith which prohibited military service, among other things.  John broke with the Brethren faith by marrying Edith who was a Lutheran, and Roscoe broke with the Brethren faith by serving in WWI.  In fact, four of John and Eva’s sons, in total, served in the military, Ira in the Spanish American War and then Donald, Roscoe and George. Those three sons are standing together in the middle row, with George, on the right, in uniform.

John and Roscoe were close their entire lives, even though there was 9 years between them, Roscoe having been born in 1893.  In fact, when Roscoe returned from military service, he too worked at the station with his brother for the railroad until the depot in Silver Lake closed in 1958 due to declining business.

silver lake depot

John and Edith bought a house in Silver Lake that was located right by the railroad tracks, which were across the field to the right of their house in the photo below.  I loved the large screened-in front porch on this house.  The screens were painted yearly to keep them from rusting, and rocking chairs resided on the porch in warm weather.

One time, Lore was painting the screens and my mother was bothering him in her sisterly way.  He decided to paint her cat’s nose, which infuriated my mother, so he then painted mother’s nose black too….except he “missed” and got her entire face with the side of the large brush he was using.  Mother was scheduled to perform in a dance recital later that day on the courthouse square in Wabash.  I’m sure you can imagine the drama and hullaballoo that results from that little incident.  Paint then was not water soluable and required turpentine and scrubbing to remove.  This was always one of mother’s favorite stories about her brother.

silver lake house

Roscoe bought the house right across the street.  Roscoe and John were thick as thieves.

Roscoe's house

Old newspapers can be a lot of fun.  In the local paper I found some tidbits that give us hints about John’s life.

July 31, 1910

Ferverda news 1910 cropped

Donald Ferverda is visiting with his brother John Ferverda and wife at Silver Lake.

Don was one of the three Ferverda sons who served in the military in WWI.  After returning, he was a cashier at the bank in Leesburg and died relatively young of cancer.

February 5, 1911

Ferverda news 1911

Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake visited with Hiram Ferverda and family over Sunday.

Visiting your parents hardly seems like a newsworthy event.  It wasn’t far from Leesburg to Silver Lake – about 18 miles.  However, it’s a lovely tidbit.

July 30, 1912

Ferverda news 1912

Mrs. Gertrude (her name was Nora, not Gertrude) Lore of Rushville is here at present visiting with her daughter, Mrs. John Ferverda and husband.  Mrs. Lore’s two daughters (Mildred, 13, and Eloise, 9) have been here for the past several weeks visiting at the Ferverda home.  The garage building is nearing completion.  The metal ceiling is completed and is now ready for the paint.  The building will be ready for occupancy within a short time.

I originally didn’t think the second paragraph was relevant to the Ferverda family, but with all those females visiting “for an extended period”, maybe my grandfather was taking up residence in the garage:)

October 11, 1912

Ferverda news 1912 - 2

Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake are here for a two weeks visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Ferverda.

October 19, 1912

Ferverda news 1912 - 3

H. L. Anderson of Westport who had been here as a relief agent for Mr. Ferverda during his absence went to Leesburg yesterday where he will be for 15 days while the Leesburg agent takes a trip.

Agent here refers to railway agent.

December 22, 1912

Ferverda news 1912-4

Paul Ferverda of Leesburg is here visiting with his brother, John Ferverda and wife.

John had brothers Ira, Irvin, Ray, George and Donald who lived outside of Silver Lake, but no Paul.  Roscoe lived in Silver Lake across the street from John.

April 19, 1913

Ferverda news 1913

We understand that Ray Ferree who recently was bumped off of the Big Four at North Manchester by one who was older in the service will apply for the station here and if he applies it will almost be sure that the company will award him the position.  The family will then move here and occupy the Mrs. Metzger property near the depot and Mr. Ferverda, the agent, who resides there at present will go to Markleville.

The family never went to Markleville.

February 16, 1914

Ferverda news 1914

H.P. Rager, John Ferverda and Dale Homman were down to North Manchester last evening taking the first steps in the degree work of the Masonic order.

November 13, 1915

Ferverda news 1915

Ray Feree is here this week as relief agent for John Ferverda at the Big Four.  Mr. Ferverda is taking a vacation and will also have his eye operated on upon during his vacation.  He went to Cincinnati the first of the week for that purpose.

This is a week before John Ferverda’s son, Lore was born, on November 24th.  I wonder what kind of eye surgery he had performed, and for what condition.

November 27, 1915

Ferverda news 1915-2

John Ferverda, our genial agent at the Big Four station and wife and Percy Helser the drayman, and wife, are the proudest people in the whole community and passed the most enjoyable Thanksgiving of any.  The stork came to their homes Wednesday afternoon and left a bouncing boy baby at the Ferverda home and at the Helser home he left a sweet little girl.

Rushville Republican Newspaper, Jan. 8, 1916 – J. W. Ferverda, Big Four agent at Silver Lake and well known here has purchased a hardware store there in partnership with R. M. Frye.  He has resigned his position with the railroad company.

January 22, 1916

Ferverda news 1916

J. W. Ferverda has returned home from a trip to Rushville where he was for a couple of days visiting with his wife and son.

September 10, 1916 – Silver Lake News

Ferverda news 1916 - 2

John Ferverda is going about bandaged up on account of a broken rib received a few days ago when he was assisting in unloading some machinery.

In 1918, every man had to register for the draft.  WWI was upon us.  John Whitney Ferverda registered, said that his occupation was in retail hardware and as an implement merchant.  He was described as short, of medium build with light hair and gray eyes.  I never knew he had grey eyes.

John Ferverda WWI draft

February 28, 1918

Ferverda news 1918

Friends and relatives here had just learned of the marriage last month of Roscoe Ferverda, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Ferverda of Leesburg and Miss Effie Ringo of North Vernon, Indiana.  Mr. Ferverda who was a telegrapher at North Vernon enlisted in the signal corps and just before being called for examination was taken sick with measles.  He came home for two weeks and immediately upon his return to North Vernon was examined and sent to the training camp at Vancouver, Washington.  The wedding took place while at North Vernon for the examination.  The bride is expected here tomorrow for a visit with his parents.

So it seems that not only did Roscoe join the military, he married a non-Brethren wife as well, without telling his parents.  Those Ferverda boys, renegades all of them….

In the 1930 census, we know that Roscoe is an agent for the Big 4 Railroad, almost the last person enumerated in the village of Silver Lake, in Lake Township, in Kosciusko County, Indiana.  John Ferverda was the first household enumerated, living directly across the street from Roscoe.  In 1930, John was a salesman at the Ford garage.  With the decrease of rail shipping, jobs with the railroad evaporated.

Below, both the new and old garages in Silver Lake.

Silver lake garages

At some point, and I believe it was before or during the Depression, John Ferverda owned a hardware store in downtown Silver Lake.  The problem was that people couldn’t pay their bills.  Eventually, that business would close, and John would raise chickens in the chicken house behind the house and sell eggs.  There may have been a Depression, but everyone still had to eat.  Eggs and chicken were relatively cheap protein and both eggs and hatchlings were shipped as far as New York.  John loved his chickens, and this one was his favorite and according to the back of the picture, his best producer.

John Ferverda and chicken

Mother remembers cleaning chickens as a child during the Depression, and not fondly, I might add.

Sometime, about this same time, when Lore was a late teen, it seems that he “borrowed” the family car without permission, and managed to get it stuck in the snow.  I don’t know how he managed to get ahold of his father, but he did.  If he thinks he was in trouble with his Dad, he hadn’t seen anything yet because his mother, Edith, relied on that car to get her to the job that supported the family during the Depression.

Ferverda 1937 storm

So off John and Lore set to get Lore unstuck.  I’m not sure who went with them, but I’m guessing it was Roscoe.  The photo above is labeled 1937 in Mom’s photo album.  There is another photo also of a sleigh with a horse pulling it that looks to be about the same time.

Ferverda fam 1937 cropped

Mom kept a photo album, thankfully, and this was labeled as 1937.  Left to right John Ferverda with Buster, Edith Lore Ferverda (John’s wife), Eva Miller Ferverda (John’s mother), Chloe Ferverda Robinson (John’s sister), Charlotte Robinson, Raleigh Robinson (Chloe’s daughter and husband.)

Ferverda fam 1937-2

Two houses down the street was the Methodist Church where the Ferverdas were members.  I have vivid memories of this church when I was little, sitting on the small child sized chairs and belting out Jesus Loves Me at the top of my lungs in Sunday School, which was through the side door on the left and downstairs.  I can still hear it….

“Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so….”

silver lake methodist church

On the 1940 census, Roscoe and John are shown with 4 residences between them.  Roscoe is still an agent for the railroad and now John is an “owner and overseer” on a chicken and fruit farm.

I had entirely forgotten about the apple orchard and the raspberries.  The entire “back yard” was apple trees and behind the orchard, the property terminated in a huge mass of brambles which they called raspberries.  All I know is that I avoided that area because no matter what I did, they always stuck me, one way or another.  I can’t imagine how they picked those berries, but obviously they did.

My grandparents had a back porch with a hand pump where they washed and processed the apples.  That same pump pumped the water for the kitchen and bathroom, both of which were adjacent to the pump room.  This WAS considered running water at that time.

In 1941, John Whitney Ferverda registered for the WWII draft, even though he was 59 years of age.  His signature is beautiful.

John Whitney Ferverda draft

Silver Lake, where they lived was a small town, but it was not incorporated, so they were part of Lake Township, although Silver Lake made up the most populous part of that township.  From 1943-1950, John Ferverda was township Trustee.

Silver lake 1945 chemistry class

In 1945, the newspaper reported that , “Trustee John Ferverda provided a fully equipped chemistry lab and the course in chemistry was added in the high school.”  John’s son, Lore Ferverda, had graduated from Silver Lake High School in the class of 1933 and went on to become a chemist, eventually holding several patents.

John Ferverda alseep

I do believe this was before recliners had been invented.  I remember my grandmother starching those chair arm and back covers.   My grandfather did this every afternoon.  I think I inherited the propensity from him!  Must be genetic.

Speaking of genetics, we have been fortunate that one of Roscoe’s sons volunteered to take the Y-line DNA test as well at the autosomal test.  Roscoe’s daughter, Cheryl, has taken the autosomal test as well.  In fact, these folks were some of the first testers at 23andMe and are now participating in projects at Family Tree DNA.  There is a Ferverda DNA project, but needless to say, with a name like that, it’s not very large.

Cheryl, and I are in the final stages of planning a trip back to the Ferverda homeland in 2014.  We can hardly wait and I’ll be sharing that with you too, but for now, back to John Ferverda.

John and Edith Ferverda 1959

John and Edith Ferverda with their first great-grandchild, Bruce, born on the 4th of July, 1959.  The family referred to him as “the firecracker with a short fuse.”  I believe this photo was taken at Christmas, 1959.  Edith passed away, a few days later, in January of 1960.

John and Edith 1959 standing

I don’t know where this photo was taken, but it wasn’t their house.  This is a great photo and is exactly how I remember Edith Lore and John Whitney Ferverda.

By the late 1950s or early 1960s, John had tuberculosis.  They believed it had been dormant for decades.  Edith’s father and sister both died of TB in 1909 and 1912, respectively.  He went to the tuberculosis sanitarium where he was treated for several months.  After returning home, he became ill again in 1962, except this time it was inoperable liver and pancreatic cancer.   He passed away on June 9, 1962.

John Ferverda obit

Mom and lore at grave

This photo is of Edith and John’s two children at their gravesite.  Stopping at the cemetery became a regular occurrence anytime we were in that vicinity, or could be without a huge detour.

Since neither of their children lived in Silver Lake, after John passed away, they put the house with the chicken houses and apple trees and raspberry bushes up for sale.  I remember Mom talking about how difficult it was to go through their things.  I also remember finding money hidden in the most unusual places.  I suspect that was a relic of the Depression years when life was extremely difficult.  One time, I picked up a powder box and a false bottom fell out, along with some cash hidden there.  I wonder how much was inadvertently given away, secreted away like that.

Mom and Uncle Lore sold the property, and the new owners turned it into a funeral home.  My mother was utterly mortified.  They enclosed the front screened in porch with plywood painted white, turned the dining and music rooms into viewing parlors (the large window grouping on both sides of the house) and processed the remains in the kitchen and on that back porch.  I would hope they installed a better water system.  The garage, seen behind the house is where the hearse was kept and the bodies loaded, unloaded and well, um, stored.

silver lake house as funeral home

My mother, for years, when someone died in Silver Lake just prayed that the funeral was at the “other” funeral home.  She was utterly mortified that her family home had become a funeral home, and she said she simply could not go inside.  Finally though, someone died, and she had to find a way.

silver lake house as funeral home front

silver lake house as funeral home 2

That someone was Roscoe.  He died, as luck would have it, 36 years ago this week, on the morning of the epic blizzard in Indiana, January 25, 1978.  And when I say epic, I mean epic.  We have photos of family members on drifts level with the roof.

1978 blizzard

These are just the kinds of things the Ferverda family did, especially these two brothers!  Both John and Roscoe would have found that immensely humorous.  Everyone else, not so much.

The roads were closed, for days.  Finally State Road 14 was opened, one way, through snow tunnels.

1978 blizzard snow tunnel

Roscoe’s funeral was held, such as it was, and then, because the snow was too deep and the ground too frozen for too far down…Roscoe got to spend the next several weeks in his brother, John’s, garage.

Gone, But Not Entirely

John and Roscoe may be gone, but their DNA isn’t.  Roscoe’s son provided his DNA, quite graciously, as part of a DNA presentation at the Allen County Public Library a few years ago for Y chromosome testing.  Because of his generosity, we know that the Ferverda men fall into haplogroup I1, and their DNA is quite unusual.  At 25 markers, only 2 matches, and one of those is a Scherp from Germany.

We’ve tested several downstream SNPs as well, to see if we can refine his haplogroup further, but so far, he has tested negative for all of the SNPs tested.

He is a member of the haplogroup I project, where the administrators have grouped him in the I1 generic group.  Each project is grouped differently, according to the project goals and the administrators, but in this case, his grouping tells us that he does not match the other groups, such as “AS” for Anglo Saxon or “N” for Nordic, or Balkan or Iberian, for example.

ferverda dna map

For as unusual as his markers are in the second testing panel, at 25 markers, providing only 2 matches, his 12 marker matches are extremely common in haplogroup I, providing him with 1028 matches.  His 12 marker matches are shown on the map below.

Ferverda 12 markers

Clearly these 12 marker matches don’t hold at 25 markers, and most of these people did test at 25 markers. This is the best example I can think of as to why testing at higher levels is so important.

Edith and John Ferverda stone



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

You’re Invited to Aleda’s Virtual Funeral

Aleda's Virtual Funeral

We’re having a virtual funeral….and you’re invited.  In fact, this might be a first….the first virtual funeral ever – and you can be part of this groundbreaking event.  It’s a testament to how the electronic, internet, Facebook, DNA age has changed our lives.

Aleda passed away more than a week ago, on January 26th.  Sometimes things don’t always go exactly as we would like, and suffice it to say, Aleda is being buried tomorrow, Friday, February 7, at 2:30, alone.  Well, not entirely alone, the man who mowed her yard since he was a child, and his wife, will be there, and the backhoe operator, of course.

She has a world of online friends and cousins who she met through DNA testing, so, we’re giving Aleda a virtual funeral.  Her favorite reading was the 23rd Psalm, so we’re inviting everyone to participate at 2:30 by reading or reciting the 23rd Psalm, for Aleda, to lift her spirit to the Heavens.  Let’s send her off with a chorus of voices.  Aleda won’t be alone.  We’ll all be sending her home.  And that’s it.  Nothing else for you to do, so it’s very easy to participate.

By the way, I’m being a bit vague about her name and location because of her family’s concerns about the security of her property, which is why there has been no obituary, etc.

Genealogy, and in this case, genetic genealogy changes lives.  In my recent article, “Finding Family the New-Fashioned Way,” I included a poll asking three questions:

Have you become close to someone met through traditional genealogy research.

The results?

43% – Yes, somewhat close, we’re friends
42% – Yes, very close, like family.
14% – No

Have you become close to someone you met through DNA?

43% – Yes, somewhat close, we’re friends.
40% – No
16% – Yes, very close, like family.

Have you met in person the people you’ve discovered during genealogy of DNA research?

62% – Yes
23% – No
14% – No, but have plans to.

Well, I can tell you how Aleda answered those questions, and although the polls are anonymous, I’m sure she answered because she was the consummate contributor and participant.  Aleda would have answered yes to all of the above.

Aleda was a joiner.  In High School, she was a member of several clubs, the editor of the newspaper, and she loved science, especially chemistry.  It’s no surprise then, how quickly she embraced DNA testing decades later when it became available as a genealogy tool.  She was a pioneer, one of the first.

Aleda's high school

Aleda's high school 2

Aleda became interested in genealogy early in life and spent 50 years researching her family history.  She became active in the DAR as well and I believe was a 47 year member.

By the time I met Aleda, in 2006, congestive heart failure had already set in, but that Aleda 2006 croppeddidn’t slow her down much, and it certainly didn’t stop her.  Aleda volunteered to help staff a table for the Lost Colony Research Group in Manteo, NC.  She had to walk slowly, due to the oppressive heat and her health, but walk she did, and she stayed with us all day, talking to people interested in the Lost Colony – or more particular, in figuring out if they descend from Lost Colony survivors.  She was a founding member of The Lost Colony Research Group.

Her family, at least part of it, was from the South, the colonial South, the early South, the South that enslaved Indians and Africans, and she was descended from some combination of all of those people.  Aleda’s DNA, you see, held secrets that would only be divulged when her brother took his first DNA test.

To say Aleda was shocked is an understatement.  But she was also thrilled.  The bad news – it would be 5 long years before her brother would have a DNA match.  Five years is a very long time to wait.  But Aleda didn’t just wait, and she never, once, complained.  Instead, she recruited people.  She researched, she found other people she thought might be related.  She told them of their wonderfully interesting and colorful family history.  And she and her brother took every test they could take.  Aleda was determined to learn everything she could learn by embracing this new technology.

Her brother’s Y DNA is very distinctive.  When he has a match, there is no question that it’s a match.  Aleda gathered her brother’s matches into a research group.

When autosomal DNA became available, she was one of the first to embrace that technology as well, and autosomal matches opened up a whole new world of cousins for Aleda.

As her health deteriorated, it seemed that she worked harder and harder, and began teaching others what she knew.  She had apprentices and taught her research group about file organization, about computers, about DNA and how to research.  She knew her time was limited.  She had come to love them all.

She embraced all things new.  Aleda never had children, but she was a born teacher with a Master’s Degree in Education as well as a second Masters in Liberal Arts from John Hopkins.  It’s no wonder that she always thought innovatively, outside of the box.

Her research group told me that when my blog articles were published, they had to hurry and read them right away, because Aleda would be calling shortly to discuss how to apply them to their research.  They told me how much Aleda looked forward to my blogs.  I never knew.

Aleda 2013As Aleda became increasingly homebound, especially following a stroke a couple years ago, her world became her online friends and cousins with whom she communicated daily.  Her last trip was in the fall of 2013, despite her health challenges, to visit Hancock County, Tennessee, tracking down those pesky ancestors.

She never gave up…not until the last day….not even the last day.  The morning of her death, she was working on X chromosome clusters, and teaching, always sharing her knowledge with her research group.

Aleda loved her cousins.  I don’t meant that lightly.  She truly loved them.  They became her family that she had never had.  They spoke with her daily.  She knew them better than anyone else, even if they were scattered to the winds across the US.

Unfortunately, the fact that we are so scattered, and that we are having an epic winter combined with age and health issues makes attending her burial impossible for her research group.  So, a virtual funeral it is.

What would Aleda think of this virtual funeral?

I’ll let one of her research group cousins tell you:

My dear, dear friend would be so thrilled to think she was having a “virtual funeral.”  She did so like “different things.”

Aleda was not just a friend.  We talked most days and usually had a few projects going at the same time.  She taught my little group of kin what little we know about DNA – and much of it by following whatever Roberta happened to be doing on her blogs.  She spent 50 years in searching for her ancestors and jumped in with both feet when DNA became available.  She said you just couldn’t do enough DNA research.

Because our brothers and my other male kin matched, we became Aleda’s project.  Once I hopped on Aleda’s swiftly moving train, I didn’t get off again until her passing.  She always had a project or two or three or more going at a time and was right in the middle of two big ones to do with the X Chromosome Charts.

She was one of a kind: bright, non-judgmental, generous, loving and forgiving. We lost a super friend, cousin and  dedicated genealogist…the world lost a great lady. Roberta, she so loved your teachings and she in turn taught us.”

Rest in peace dear Aleda.  I thank you for sharing so much of your vast knowledge with us and I really enjoyed our ride.  Hopefully I can be as helpful to others as you were with everyone you knew.”

I think Aleda would love her virtual funeral, her “home-going,” and she would forgive us for not being able to attend in person because that’s how Aleda was.  She always found the positive in everything and everyone.

Please join us at 2:30 Eastern time on Friday to repeat the 23rd Psalm for Aleda.  Please “like” this article if you’ll be virtually attending.

And then, let’s all be a little bit Aleda. She made such a difference to so many who she reached out and touched through genetic genealogy.  The science is simply a means to an end…and what matters in the end is family, however you come to define them.

Update – Aleda’s Virtual Funeral

Aleda had a beautiful virtual funeral.  Thank you to all of the virtual attendees for being your sister’s keeper.  Lots of people participated by reading the 23rd Psalm.  This beautiful version was created and contributed by Donna based on the rose wreath foundation created by

23rd Psalm

Aleda’s virtual funeral included a piano, trumpets, bells tolling, songs and Psalms.

One gentleman in Texas played and sang this.

A lady in Kentucky played the piano and sang.

And in North Carolina, the reading was accompanied by this and bells tolling.

A balloon was released.

In West Virginia, a man took his heirloom family Bible and visited his family cemetery to read the 23rd Psalm.

In Tennessee, a man visited the cemetery that held his 4 great and 5 of his great-great-grandparents, walking from grave to grave as he read the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer.

One woman was on an airplane, and several were attending the Rootstech conference in Utah and stole a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle.  My husband was going to excuse himself from a meeting and go to the restroom, but instead, recruited his colleagues in the business meeting he was attending – and they all participated.

Another woman, in Maryland, asked for and received a few minutes relief from her job on the “front desk” in a library.

In fact, Aleda probably had more people at her virtual funeral than she would have been able to have in reality – when you consider the complications of distance and weather.  The map below shows the locations of the people I’m aware of, and I know there were many more because the messages about her virtual funeral were shared over and over again.

This map shows the states where people were who participated.  In Kentucky and Tennessee, there were literally hundreds, followed by Texas.

In addition, there were also several people from the UK, Japan, Israel, Finland and some of our military in Fort Apache, Afghanistan.  It was an international event.  Aleda would have been both surprised and pleased.  I guess maybe this could be called the first virtual surprise “come as you are” funeral.

Funeral States

I’ve been surprised by how many people have told me of special blessings they received while participating in Aleda’s funeral.  In my case, after I did the reading, outside in front of a huge drift in 8 degree, blustery, but sunny, weather, I realized that there was a half moon in the middle of the day, and the spring’s first robin had accompanied me.  I’ve cropped the photo below to show both.

Aleda Moon Robin Cropped

Aleda also had flowers.  Three people sent arrangements with messages from the entire genealogy community.  The florist’s husband attended the burial and took this photo for us, given that the florist had recently had knee surgery.

Cemetery cropped

He said that the funeral home that is adjacent to the cemetery learned of our virtual funeral for Aleda and some of the staff attended in person too, so there were 4 people, plus the florist’s husband and the workers who doubled as her pall-bearers who participated as well.  Everyone read the 23rd Psalm aloud for her.


One virtual participant added something to her reading, something that she felt Aleda wanted.

Psalm 30:11 – You have turned my mourning into dancing for me, you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.

Rest in Peace our dear friend Aleda, we have truly sung you “over-home.”

Find-A-Grave Memorial

bunch dna card

Aleda flowers



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

Cavendish Lab at Cambridge University

The old Cavendish Lab at Cambridge University, where Watson and Crick discovered DNA, is kind of like Mecca for people who love genetics.  So is the Eagle Pub where they ate lunch daily and announced their discovery.  I’m not convinced which is the more important.

Our family tour in September, 2013 was scheduled to visit Cambridge, England, after leaving London.  I’ve been truly blessed this trip with the most wonderful coincidences.  In London, our hotel was located just across Hyde Park from the Science Museum where Watson and Crick’s original DNA model is housed.  In Cambridge, we are staying right around the corner from the Cavendish Lab where Watson and Crick discovered DNA.  Talk about literally walking in the footsteps of the masters.

I was pleased when I discovered Cambridge on the itinerary, and I googled to find the Eagle Pub. I was excited to find that it was indeed within walking distance of the Cambridge City Hotel where we were staying.  Although I don’t drink, I would visit the pub and raise a non-alcoholic brew for Watson and Crick’s momentous discovery.  Problem is, I discovered, that they didn’t have any non-alcoholic brew.  In fact, most of England views non-alcoholic brew as “why bother.”  While I agree in concept, sometimes it’s not by choice.

Wondering why the Cavendish Lab is important?

Cavendish 1

The Cavendish Lab at Cambridge University was the birthplace of the discovery of DNA.  James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA in this lab in 1953.  This year of course is the 60th anniversary of that discovery and James Watson was interviewed in celebration.  Crick passed away in 2004.

Before visiting Cambridge, I tried to find the Cavendish Lab on a map and it looked to be entirely across the campus, which is not small.  That made no sense to me, since the Eagle Pub was close to the hotel, but I accepted that I might not be able to see the lab.  I’d have to be satisfied with the Eagle Pub.

Why is the Eagle Pub important?  It’s where Watson and Crick lunched and probably did a lot of brainstorming.  Pubs are like that in England.

Cavendish 2

On our day of arrival, a walking tour of the city with a guide, a retired professor, was scheduled for that afternoon.  After we began the tour, around the first corner, on a street that was only wide enough for one car, and then no cars, I remembered to ask the guide about the original Cavendish Lab.  Given that he was a retired professor, I figured if anyone knew, he would.

He smiled broadly, and said “I’m so glad you asked…it’s right up ahead.”  To say I was thrilled is an understatement.  In fact, this is one of the few locations I’m actually IN the photos, um, actually, in most all the photos.  My cousins were so excited because I was excited that they took pictures of me.  This was definitely “my day” on the trip.  This photo of me, taken in front of the Eagle Pub pretty much sets the mood.cavendish me laughing

The Cavendish Lab, it turns out, was on the right hand side, just about where the road narrowed too much for any vehicle.  There was a sign mounted on the wall of the building that this was indeed the old Cavendish Lab.  There is a new Cavendish Lab across campus, the one I had seen on the map.  So far, my luck on the DNA trail had been remarkably good.

I, of course, was thrilled to be where Watson and Crick began what would be a blooming industry 60 years later with a world of promise.  In another 50 years, DNA will be responsible for the cure of many diseases we feel are hopeless or nearly so today.  Like at the Science Museum in London, I was very disappointed to see it relegated to not even the footnotes.  I tried to find a DNA souvenir, t-shirt, hat, something to purchase and there was not one DNA thing in any store.  For shame!  Come on – Double Helix Ale anyone???


Cambridge is an ancient medieval city and it’s evident everyplace.  The Cavendish Lab is arguably on the oldest “street,” or cartpath, in Cambridge.  I say this because the oldest church is right across that cartpath and dates from about the year 1000.  At that time, churches were always at the center of the village.  Today, that cart-path is not wide enough for a car, and there is no room to expand.

Today, the ancient church is of course physically tied into several other buildings and abuts others, as all buildings here generally are, especially old buildings.  This photo shows the oldest church constructed of chocolate brown stones, another very old church as well, and the spires of King’s College Chapel begun by Henry the 6th and finished by Henry the 8th in the distance to the far right.  Note that this is a one lane street at this point that shortly narrows to exclude vehicles.  To put this in perspective, the Eagle Pub is just about where the trees are on the far right, beside the King’s College Chapel spire.

Cavendish 4

In most of England, and assuredly in Cambridge, what we consider is the US to be old buildings, a hundred or two years old are considered to be rather new.  Their old buildings were constructed before Columbus “discovered” the Americas.

I can only imagine the nurturing quality of studying and working among such history.  I suppose one would get used to it, but I hope it would never be taken for granted.

There are two entrances to the lab.  One is through this door.


Watson and Crick exited through this door, walked down this cartway every day for lunch and ate at the Eagle Pub, just a short walk away and around the corner in front of the church.  It’s here that they fined tuned their DNA research as do both students and professors yet today.

The second entrance to the lab is through this archway which actually forms a tunnel under the building.  Half way through the tunnel is an entrance to the buildings on both sides.

Cavendish 6

Walking a short distance down the cobblestone street, just past the chocolate colored church, you intersect a road and slightly to the left is the Eagle Pub, where Watson and Crick ate lunch most days and discussed their projects.  Rest assured that DNA was indeed a hot topic of conversation here. In fact, it’s reported that they were so excited about their discovery that they told everyone in the pub that they had discovered the secret of life, only to have everyone ignore them and just go back to their pint of ale.  It had to be an extremely anti-climactic day for them – but if any patron remembers the crazy men in the pub that day that announced the discovery of the recipe of life itself – they indeed were a witness to a momentous discovery.

Cavendish 7

Inside the pub, in a stairway to the loo (bathroom) we found this sign.


The Pub actually holds more information about the discovery of DNA than the university location does.  I find this really unfortunate, as well as ironic, but maybe not as many people as I imagine might be interested in the history of DNA.

I would think they would at least mark the DNA “Double Helix Trail.”  It could end, or begin, in London at the Science Museum where the helix model resides today.

The pub itself is in a very historic area, literally in the middle of the “old town”.  Here’s a photo of the street itself, the pub, on the right.


Cambridge is a place of thinkers, and obviously, of doers as well.  It turns out that DNA was not the only discovery in the Cavendish labs.


I wonder what other discoveries were made in these hallowed halls.  Did you know that Mitochondrial DNA was first mapped at Cambridge in 1981, hence, the CRS or Cambridge Reference Sequence?  What is it with DNA here?  Rosalind Franklin, pioneer molecular biologist and a key contributor to the discovery of DNA studied at Newnham College at Cambridge, but when she made her x-ray diffraction images of DNA, utilized by Watson and Crick, she was at King’s College in London.

Cambridge is steeped in history never more than a few feet away.  In the photo of the pub, above, if you turn right when the street ends, you’ll be greeted with this scene, the King’s College Chapel with its rich history of starting and stopping construction through the reigns of 3 kings and the English Civil War.  This is the steeple you saw in the distance in the photo of the street where the Cavendish lab is located.


The architecture of this building is utterly stunning.

Cavendish 12

The first part was built by Henry the 6th for the 70 professors at Cambridge at the time.  The second part to the rear was finished many years later by Henry the 8th, after the War of the Roses and was very opulent with carvings on all the walls, heraldry, etc.  The first part was very simple by comparison.  The picture below is of the second part.

Cavendish 13

One of the most impressive aspects of this chapel, aside from the stunning windows, is the ceiling made of carved stone flying buttresses itself.  Because of the ceiling construction and the amount of glass in the windows, it’s actually very light inside and I could take these photos without flash photography which was prohibited.

Cavendish 14

The church forms part of a 4 building complex that is connected in a square and inside is a courtyard.

Cavendish 15

I can’t even imagine going to school is this wonderfully nurturing environment.  No wonder DNA was discovered here. No one wanted to leave.  My university was constructed of concrete blocks, for the most part, and everyone left as soon as possible.

Bachelor degrees at Cambridge are 3 year degrees, not 4, and if you live in Europe, it’s about 9,000 pounds which would be about 14,000 US dollars without lodging and food which is about another 8,000 pounds.  If you’re from elsewhere, it’s 18,000 pounds plus lodging.  Nurturing and inspiring, yes, but not inexpensive.

Cambridge is a beautiful and inspirational medieval city sprouting seeds for the future. There is a beautiful, ethereal umbilical connection between its past, my present and mankind’s future. It is truly awe-inspiring.  As I pondered and reflected upon all of this, I was struck with the weight of responsibility that all of us who work with DNA carry.

DNA is a gift, indeed, a map, of the past, of the present and a cartographic key to the future.  We have the responsibility and obligation to work with this Divine gift, ethically, morally and with only the best and most honorable of intentions.  We now have the key to the genome, the Holy Grail of humanity.  What will we do with it?  What does the future in another 60 years, 2073, hold?  Everyday in this new field, as we work individually to create a better whole, we are weaving our genetic legacy.




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

Charting Companion from Progeny Software

I’ve got to tell you, I love Charting Companion.  I’ve used it for many years now with my PAF software, although it is compatible with virtually every genealogy software program on the market, as well as Family Search.

Recently, the owners updated the software to include a wonderful new feature where appropriate on reports.  They map and color the X chromosome inheritance path.  I did have to upgrade my Charting Companion software, but at $29.95, it certainly won’t break the bank….and it’s worth every penny.

If you’re jumping up and down, doing the happy dance and hollering “WooHoooo,” I certainly understand.  I did the same thing.

This option is available for all charts that have ancestors: Ancestor, Fan, Hourglass and Bowtie.

There are several ways to select charts in this software, but the most comprehensive selection in one place is on the menu bar.

chart companion

Select the type of chart you want to produce.  Click through the various options and select the information you want to include on your chart.

To select the X-chromosome option, the user simply selects “X-chromosome” in the Color option tab:

Ancestor chart options

When finished, click preview to be sure it’s what you want.  Here are a couple examples of my reports with the X chromosome selected.

X with Fan

x fan

This fan chart can’t reasonably be made much larger than this, in terms of generations.  If you need more, shift to the Ancestor chart which can span pages.  I would suggest providing at least 10 generations when sending information to people you match on autosomal DNA tests.  I include 12 generations to at least get every ancestor off of US soil and back into the old country – or as many as I can get off of US soil:)

Ancestor – X Pedigree

x pedigree 1

x pedigree 2

I love these X reports.  When you match someone on the X, you can send them one of these and they can visually see which of your lines are available for X matching.  These, utilized in conjunction with the regular Charting Companion Pedigree Chart report are a powerful combinational tool.

My Favorite Report

I generate a pedigree chart for each “side” of my tree, Moms and my Dad’s.  Often, based on my matches, I immediately know which side the new match is from, so I only send them the relevant information.  If need be, I just send both files.

I’ve been a long time user of this software.  I do have a tree at Ancestry but I hate to refer anyone there.  Conversely, I hate receiving links to Ancestry trees.  I much prefer Rootsweb/WorldConnect.

All trees have some inherent problems.  First, how would a match even begin to know what surname to search for or where to find it on my tree.  Secondly, every time I view someone’s tree, Ancestry does me the favor of forever mailing me after that with their updates and such by attaching their tree to my account.  I hate that.  And yes, I know I can go in and one-by-one, undo Ancestry’s favor, but why should I have to do that?  And I certainly don’t want to make anyone else do that either.  Sending a pedigree chart provides them with only the relevant information without being invasive, problematic or being a “forever” thing with an attached tree.  We’re only looking here, not getting married:)

So, I send a pedigree chart of 12 generations in a pdf file with an index at the end.

If you select 4 generations per page, each item will have the associated location information.  5 generations per page makes the 5th generation default to only date information, meaning they won’t be able to see locations, so don’t do that.

Select the index option to add the index at the end.  This makes it easy for people to skim quickly for surnames that look familiar.

Lastly, when you have your selection in order, you can preview, and then the “publish” button saves this to a file on your system.

Please note that if you include submitter information, it includes everything including your address and phone number in the lower left hand corner.  I do not include that information in the pdf file I send to matches.  I wish the software had a submitter name/e-mail only option.  That’s it though, my only suggestion for this software.  I love it!

pedigree chart

Chart above, index below.

pedigree index



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 Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

The African Diaspora Conference Videos Available

HeywoodIn September,  2013, The African Diaspora: Integrating Culture, Genomics and History was held at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC.  Sadly, I had commitments elsewhere and could not attend.

The National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of Natural History held a full-day symposium that brought together scholars, scientists and practitioners from various disciplines who are exploring the African Diaspora throughout historical, cultural and genomic lenses with the purpose of understanding a person’s ancestry and how that impacts individual health and collective identity.

The symposium’s objectives were to foster interdisciplinary dialog on what we can learn about:

  • Ancestral history from genomic information and historical records.
  • Ethnic identity and cultural diversity from historical and genomic information.
  • The arts and culture from ancestral information.

I was not able to attend, but reports from those who did were very positive.  Fortunately, the videos are now available to view, for free.

Furthermore, I’d like to mention that one of the papers I co-authored with Jack Goins, Janet Crain and Penny Ferguson, Melungeons, A Multi-Ethnic Population was cited  by Dr. Linda Heywood.

Dr. Linda Heywood is a Professor of African American Studies and History at Boston University.  I was impressed with her throughout this panel discussion.  At about 6:48 she discussed identity, and her comment, “History, it’s personal, it’s communal, it’s national, it’s identity.”

She mentions our paper at about 57:46.  At 22:54 she comments about various Africans being incorporated into the Portuguese settlements in Africa before being shipped out as slaves, something we also mentioned in our paper.  And finally at 1:15:00 she referred to the paper again as a resource.

I was also very impressed with Dr. Sarah Tiskoff and was disappointed to see that there were not any individual sessions by her.

I hope you’ll take an opportunity to watch a few of these videos, and a big thank you to the Smithsonian for making them available.



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