Cynthia Wells – A Light Gone Too Soon

It sounds trite to say that I’m sorry she’s gone, but I am.

Cynthia is one of those people that everyone, and I do mean everyone, liked.  She lit up the room everyplace she went, improved everything she touched and encouraged everyone, always.

And now, she has passed from this earth.

Cynthia was a long time dedicated genetic genealogist, and an even longer time genealogist. She joined the genetic genealogy community in the olden days, more than a dozen years ago and managed the Wells and Lay projects at Family Tree DNA.

She attended the conference for project administrators sponsored by Family Tree DNA every fall in Houston, and I was looking forward to seeing her next week.

Sadly, that’s not to be.

In short, those of us in the trenches together over the years have formed a family, of sorts.

I first met Cynthia perhaps a dozen years ago when we sat by each other at lunch at one of the early conferences and began discussing Indian traders in the south. She sent me an unpublished resource, along with a book, and refused any reimbursement at all. That’s the kind of person she was.

Cynthia worked as a volunteer for the LDS Church and spoke at several genealogy conferences and meetings, often attending at her own expense, bringing the message and joy of genetic genealogy to many.

A day or so before her passing, Cynthia returned from a trip to the Middle East, in particular, the Holy Land, to celebrate her husband’s retirement and the beginning of the next chapter of their life together. She was anxiously planning a two-year mission trip with her husband when she passed away.

What a heartbreaking situation her husband faces. My heart aches for him, her children and grandchildren.

Fortunately, Cynthia’s legacy is not lost.

You can read more about her passion in her speaker profile for Genetic Genealogy Ireland here.

You can listen to her lovely southern drawl as she gives her presentation about Reconstructing Irish-Caribbean Ancestry here.

You can read Cynthia’s obituary here.

If you are a member of the ISOGG Facebook group, you can read the remembrances of her friends along with photos of the places she traveled on behalf of genetic genealogy, truly a lovely tribute, here.

Cynthia’s unexpected and untimely passing reminds us all about how tenuous and fragile life is – and why we should say and do what needs to be said and done while we can. Cherish those we love and value every minute. We really don’t know when it might be our last.

Rest in Peace Cynthia – you truly have made the world a better place and improved the lives of those who were graced enough to walk a few steps with you along the way.

The Sacred Boyne Valley – Knowth, New Grange and Tara – 52 Ancestors #171

These ancient sacred sites represent so much of Ireland’s distant past. Of course, if you have Irish heritage, Ireland’s ancient past is also your own. We’re beyond fortunate to have these sites, in any state of preservation today. The fact that they are open to the public is absolutely amazing!

What a glorious day.

First, I want to mention that these people were my ancestors, as proven by the work of Trinity College, in Dublin, and thanks to my McNiel cousin whose Y DNA we tested as a descendant of the Reverend George McNiel. The Y DNA from this McNiel line matches the signature attributed to Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland, crowned at Tara. You can read more about Niall of the Nine Hostages genetic signature here, here and here, and how males can test at Family Tree DNA to see if you, or one of your male ancestral lines, descends from this noble lineage.

I wrote about Niall in the article about Rev. McNiel, but there is absolutely nothing like standing on that very site yourself, nearly alone, in the late afternoon, with the sun setting in the misty distance. Niall was with me, as he is with all of his descendants. I could feel his presence and that of those long gone, on that high hill, overlooking Ireland in all directions, surveying his domain.

Before I go on, if you have Irish genealogy, then it’s very likely that this is your history too, that Niall of the Nine Hostages or his relatives are your ancestors as well.  You may carry his blood in your veins, and possibly also in your DNA. After all, 3,500 years equates to about 875 generations. That’s 875 opportunities for a descendant to marry into your line – and chances are very good that they did, probably many times. So this isn’t just my ancestral journey, it’s yours too.

Make yourself a cup of coffee or maybe some fine Irish tea, complete with milk of course, in honor of being Irish, and come along on this great adventure of discovery!

Back to the Past

This, my third full day in Ireland is spent once again with Brian, my trusty personal tour guide, and what a wonderful day it has been.

I knew that this day wasn’t just about the history and mystery of Ireland, but about my own ancestral past – my personal connection to this lush green country.

The places we would drive and walk, my ancestors did too, for hundreds and thousands of years.

Their blood watered this soil. Their ashes remain a part of Ireland.

Morning Fog

The morning began with fog. Brian said this was somewhat unusual in this part of the country, but it created a bit of a dreamlike mystical aura to set the stage.

These historic sites are only about an hour or so out of Dublin, without traffic, but they literally inhabit another world. The added dimension of fog creates a sense of timelessness and transports us back to the time that Niall of the Nine Hostages lived.

The roads quickly shrank from those of a modern city to country roads without center lines because they are too small for two lanes simultaneously. However, traffic is still two-way and everyone is simply expected to be courteous and drive with some semblance of sanity. And they do – everyone – everyday – without the angry blaring of horns. Very, very different from the US. Paradigm shift.

Brian and I discovered this beautiful thatched roof house and adjoining barn in the morning fog, as the sun began peeking through.

Thatched roof houses still exist and are in relatively common use today in the countryside. They aren’t simply part of the past in Ireland. This thatched roof farmhouse in Ireland stands right alongside the road, where nearly all of the old buildings are located, and the barn, covered with vines, stands right in front of the house, separated by only a few inches, smack dab up against the wall which physically comprises the edge of the road. The road used to be the old cart path and before that, probably a footpath, trod by the very first settlers in this valley.

Roads and farms here are bordered with walls. In fact, walls are so common you don’t “see them” anymore. They serve multiple purposes, not the least of which is to keep livestock off of the roads.

Where rock walls don’t exist, hedges do the job as well.

The hedges are so dense that farmers install gates.

New Grange wasn’t far distant, winding down the road. I held my breath on some of those curves, driving on the “wrong side” of the road, but Brian knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going.

A spider spun her web on the sign at the entrance of the historical park at Knowth and New Grange.

Even the gate is beautiful, graced with ornamentation inspired by the carved stones at both sites.

We don’t know exactly why these Neolithic people constructed these mounds. It’s likely that they initially bore a spiritual significance and we do know that later, a group or groups of people lived on the mounds.

The megalithic tomb tradition began 6000 years ago in Brittany, France, 500 years or so before the first tombs established in Ireland.

It’s easy to speculate that the culture came with the people from continental Europe, and that may well be accurate. Professor Dan Bradley, in his presentation this week at Genetic Genealogy Ireland, speaking about ancient DNA and burials, said very clearly that the Ireland of prehistoric times is not, genetically speaking, the Ireland of today. When comparing the DNA of the earliest burials against modern populations, the ancient results map to the far north, an area Dr. Bradley jokingly called Valhalla, land of the mythical Norse “Heaven.” A second ancient burial maps to an area near Portugal. The only burials that map to the Irish of today occurred much later, after the Neolithic, after the Celtic influence and after the Viking invasions.

These mounds were created hundreds to thousands of years before people actually lived on the mounds as residents. Some dead are interred in the mounds, but not enough for the mounds to be a cemetery for the entire community, as we conceive of cemeteries today. But clearly, everyone died and the bodies had to be disposed of in some fashion.

By the time the tombs began to be catalogued and preserved, people had been “visiting” them for 260 years, so virtually everything above ground, meaning both artifacts and bones, had been disturbed, and who knows how much is missing.

Of course, water played a crucial role in the lives of our ancestors. These sacred sites were all established near the River Boyne, crossed by this contemporary bridge today along the walk from the Visitor Center to the bus that takes visitors to the Knowth and New Grange sites.

The River Boyne, giver of life, connects the sacred sites of Knowth, Dowth, New Grange and Tara.

The carved stones at these prehistoric sites are believed to have been transported from distances far away by barge, then log rolled uphill to the sites where they were installed. Of course, the bridge in the photo is modern, established for tourists to tread the ancestral path.

Whoever these ancient settlers were in the Boyne River Valley, they would probably have selected these sites for their elevation and would have looked over the valley and seen much the same scene as today, except that the hillsides would have originally been forested.

Knowth

Knowth is pronounced something like “note” by the locals, in an Irish brogue.

Most of the mounds, which are likely passage graves and sacred ceremonial sites, have not been excavated at Knowth, this first stop on our journey.

Some of these photos leave me breathless and speechless, and I feel they would be better served without narrative, but I need to let you know what you’re viewing. This is exactly what our ancestors would have seen on a similar misty foggy morning thousands of years ago, standing exactly where I was standing.

At one time, people lived on top of these mounds, farmsteads probably, and the first person to rise in the morning would have had this same view before the activities of the day began. Perhaps a goat bleated in the distance and a dog accompanied our early riser.

This mound has been excavated. The soil eventually covered these carved rocks after the site was abandoned, so the excavation exposed the rocks and the site was reinforced so that the stones remain within view.

The view of the countryside down the path between the mounds (left) and other sites (right).

More beautiful spider webs on the historical signage. The local people tell us that the problem with thatched roofs is that they attract spiders who love to nest there. Then again, spiders eat lots of other insects.

Beautiful carved stones. The carvings were created by picking or pecking at the stones with a hammer and chisel, or their Neolithic equivalent. All of the kurbstones, as they are known, are carved, although the carving is difficult to see on some today and nearly impossible in some light situations.

These stones are massive, weighing tons and about waist high on an adult.

Some stones are curved, as the mounds are round.

Many mounds, which served as homes, butted up against each other.

Some passageways functioned as entrances, some as souterrains, underground storage pits for food. Crawling would have been the only way in and out for most of these.

Some tunnels probably functioned as both. Claustrophobic? You wouldn’t want to be the person sent to retrieve whatever was kept there.

As I continued my walk around this mound, I noticed this rock which was very unusual and different from the rest. This rock has carving both on top and on the sides. Most don’t although the archaeological reports indicate that some stones are carved in areas that are not able to be seen, like on the bottoms and backs. The wheel-like carving on top of this stone may have been astrological in nature, perhaps a calendar of sorts.

This area in front of the two sided carved rock (above) is believed to be some type of sacred area. The white stones are original, and are not native to this region. I believe the guide said they were quartz and transported, one by one, from a site in the Wicklow mountains 90 km to the south. The black stones are granite and come from about as far away to the North, gathered and carried one by one up the hill from the River Boyne where they would have been transported by boat. Clearly, these stones were important and it’s thought perhaps that the white stones were ceremonial and may have represented the light and warmth of the sun.

This is one if my favorite stones. I have always had an affinity for spirals. The spiral is the oldest carving, with the undulating carving added later.

The guide said that the archaeologists can recognize the work of individual carvers.

The rock second from left is another absolutely amazing stone. This one, if you’ll notice, has a similar carving to the rock with the carving on top. Both resemble a wheel. These two images are surely somehow connected to each other as well as connected to whatever their religion was. No one would spend this much time and effort otherwise.

The stewards of this site have reconstructed an example of what they believe wooden henges would have been like just beside the mound.

Standing stones, and another entrance.

The most remarkable finding discovered in the archaeological excavations was a beautiful carved flint mace head. I saw the actual artifact the following day in the National Museum, but the position of the mace head in the case made it very difficult to photograph.

You can see additional photos here and here, along with the carved bowl from the passage tomb in New Grange.

These passage mounds at Knowth are not open inside to the public, but the one at New Grange is. That’s where we’re headed next.

Think of Knowth and New Grange as a neighborhood of sorts, not adjacent exactly, but within sight from the tops of the hills and dating from approximately the same timeframe.

New Grange

New Grange is a separate site from Knowth, today, but clearly the original inhabitants were part of the same culture and probably the same family grouping too. After all, the number of original settlers or inhabitants was probably small.

All of these sacred sites are located on hilltops, which could be a factor of both religion as well as defensive protection.

This was the entrance to New Grange in the late 1800s. The area had been largely overgrown. I couldn’t help but notice how clear the carvings were only 118 years ago as compared to today.

Standing stones mark the entrance to the tomb.

Because it is off season here (October), complicated by the weather (Hurricane Ophelia), with few tourists, I was able to get generally unobstructed photos, with few or no people.

This is the entrance to the New Grange passage tomb.  Above the entrance, the light enters through the “lightbox” above the top of the lintel stone at dawn on Winter Solstice, assuming no clouds or fog. The stone in front of that passage entrance is the most elaborately carved stone at the site sporting beautiful spirals. Notice that the stones above the lightbox are mostly the light quartz stones. Were they “guiding” the light on the solstice?

Just pretend this shivering park employee is one of the ancient holy priests!

Yes, it was COLD. But then it would have been cold on December 21st each year when the people who lived here celebrated the beginning of the cyclical warming of the earth – when mother earth begins to rejuvenate and come alive once again.

As we entered the small chamber, we walked through an increasingly smaller passageway until we reached the center some 40 feet inside, in the middle of the mound.  The chamber in the center holds about 25 people, so long as they are good friends and don’t mind being close.

Unfortunately, after this site was discovered in 1799, it was open to the curious for decades, until it became protected. By the time the first scientists documented the site, the human remains of at least 5 people had been scattered on the floor, so we don’t know how or exactly where in this mound they were interred. We do know that they were cremated, although some later burials, believed to be Celtic, found on this site but in another location, were buried, not cremated.

For those who are thinking about the next question, I’ll just answer it.

I asked if DNA extraction had been attempted, and the guide sidestepped the question twice, saying lots of information was as yet unpublished after for than 40 years of excavation. I visited the ancient DNA labs at Trinity College and UCD on the Monday following the conference, and was told there that yes, DNA has been extracted and is awaiting publication. However, they have not been successful, at least not yet, extracting DNA from cremains.

Professor (and geneticist) Dan Bradley who runs the ancient DNA lab at Trinity said that they have access to all skeletal remains in at the National Museum. I took that to mean there may be many publications in the future that will help us further understand the history of the Irish people.

Photos were not allowed inside the passage tomb, but here’s a great video on YouTube that shows approximately what the ancients would have seen at the Winter Solstice when the shaft of light entered the New Grange tomb.

The precision necessary 5200 years ago to engineer and construct this mound to achieve the Winter Solstice’s rising sunlight striking the back wall of the mound is absolutely mind-boggling to comprehend – especially given that the shaft enters above the opening, but strikes the wall at ground level – meaning that an incline in elevation is involved as well.

Amazingly enough, no water has ever penetrated the chamber in the center this mound, an incredible testimony to the original architects. Keep in mind this mound was built before the pyramids of Giza and that these builders had no cement or any substances except dirt and rock. This mound was watertight due to the angle of the stacked stones and layers of gravel and dirt on top of the mound.

From Knowth.com:

This chamber is roofed by a corbelled vault, which has remained intact and watertight without any conservation or repair. The cairn (stone mound) that covers the chamber is estimated to weigh 200,000 tons and is retained at its base by 97 massive kerbstones.

You can see photos of the vaulted ceiling, along with other artworks of New Grange, here. I must admit, I was just a tad nervous inside that chamber. Still, I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity for anything.

Knowth and New Grange have a few standing stones, but nothing like Stonehenge. However, like Stonehenge, the massive stones were all transported from quite some distance, as measured in many miles, not feet or yards, requiring massive manpower and coordination which implies a complex social structure. Both locations were somehow connected to the solstices as well, with other circles and locations marking the equinoxes. Whoever these people were, they were experienced skywatchers and expert architects.

Ok, indulge me with a selfie as I’m standing beside one of the standing stones. I didn’t come this far, survive a blood clot and a hurricane not to get a photo! Thank goodness for cell phones. It was quite windy on the top of this hill.

The outside of the New Grange passage mound is (re)constructed of the same white (quartz) and black (granite) rocks as were found outside surrounding the mound at Knowth. These are fist sized stones at this site, slightly smaller, and the black are interspersed with the white in the wall built above the carved stones.

This photo shows New Grange around 1900 after the overgrowth had been cleared away. These walls, shown before reconstruction, were in amazingly good condition, considering their age.

Walking around the mound, I noticed this beautiful stone building and of course, the sheep in the background. Sheep are everyplace in both Ireland and Scotland. The wall behind the structure has beautiful vines growing up and along the top. The wall is old but not ancient.

This is probably one of the most famous of the New Grange stones, and the one reproduced in the gates.

A lintel stone is found above this carved stone, and the sun is peeking over the mound. I can’t help but wonder how this stone is different and the significance of the lintel. What did this mean to the builders?

This looks to be a drainage area which is probably part of the reason this tomb has stayed dry for 5000+ years.

The top of the passageway mound.

The function of the free-standing rocks on the site is unknown.  None of the stones are native to the area.

Of course, this site is mowed today, but originally, goats, sheep or other domesticated animals would have been their lawnmowers. There may have originally been so many people that little vegetation grew, but today, these daisies have escaped the mower. They speak to me of the women who were obviously present.

Small standing stones.

The entrance to New Grange today, showing the wall, the stones and a few people in profile. I couldn’t help but think that this scene probably wasn’t too different from what our ancestors saw some 5000 years ago, in this exact same location. People walking between the stones to the entrance. Perhaps at that time, festivities and a procession would have surrounded the anxiously awaited solstice morning – or maybe the site was sacred – reserved only for the holy people who would report to the rest if the sun’s light once again struck the back wall in the chamber.

Did these people think that the solstice sun connected them with their ancestors, or perhaps that the solstice sun was a sign from the ancestors? A promise once again of the warming of the earth? Was this passageway also the passageway between worlds?

New Grange from a distance. The entrance to the passage tomb is to the right, by the standing stones.

I’m so grateful that this area remained undeveloped.

Rescue

And because my adventures in life never seem to be complete without rescuing something – a Goldcrest, the smallest bird in Ireland, flew into the window of the tourist center, which is actually a small building away from the mound. Poor thing. Another man, a young farmer from Virginia, and I rescued the bird and I explained to the employee what to do for the stunned bird.

For those who don’t know, I spent years as a volunteer (licensed) wildlife rehabilitator. For a stunned bird, with no obvious injuries, you simply put it into a dark place, like a grocery bag or box, and let it rest for an hour or so. Generally, they will recover enough to leave, or die, or will need treatment for injuries. The employee promised to do so, which was all I could do for the bird in that time and place. I hope it survived. Based on my experience, it stood a pretty good chance.

Interpretive Center

The visitor center for both Knowth and New Grange includes an interpretive center with a nice movie, restrooms, a snack bar and gift shop.

I’m not generally crazy about gift shops, but they do support the site and this one had some really unique offerings.

I loved this green man journal, but it was heavy! I needed something lighter, so I bought a scarf with the images of the stone carvings which I may use in a quilt.

In the interpretive center, I thought this display was simply beautiful. I would like to have those fabrics! Just saying!

This lovely artwork was created by students.

You really get to know someone after several days in a car together. Brian bought me three lovely gifts as he waited in the cafeteria area while I was traipsing around the sacred sites. Amazingly, exactly what I wanted – books – and a CD to watch when I get back home. Brian is not your typical tour guide. He purchased something else for a former client during our 4-day adventure, as well. I’ll be writing about Brian separately, so be sure to stay tuned.

Now, it’s off to Tara, about 45 minutes away, by car.

The Road to Tara

On the road to Tara, Brian knew of a wonderful quaint cottage type of farm. This farm is different than the rest, but every bit as interesting.

This person seems to like to collect old farm equipment. There are pumps and tractors and other things scattered about the place, creating a very unique ambience.

An older, thatched roof type of cottage adjoins a newer addition.

I particularly like the fact that they utilize the top of their rock wall as a planter.

Next, Brian and I stopped at the local pub for lunch. I’ve been subsisting on soup and bread since I arrived, by choice, as both are wonderful. Their vegetable soup here is much more creamy than ours and the vegetables in the soup are more or less pureed. However, in this case, those mushrooms with garlic dip just won the day.

Love these tables in this pub.

Brian asked me if I would be interested in stopping at a quaint little cottage type shop? He didn’t really need to ask. As if I needed convincing, he mentioned that the shop offered a lot of hand made items, and maybe she had quilt fabric too.

Unlike most older farmhouses, which are located within feet of the road, this house was down a long lane.

Look at that old tree which has probably stood sentinel for hundreds of years and seen many generations come and go.

I didn’t know quite what to expect.

This beautiful old home is packed to the gills with woven works and other items hand made by local artisans.

The owner, Mison Fullam, demonstrated weaving. I’ve always been fascinated by weaving, but quilters brains and weaver’s brains don’t work the same way – although both are fascinated by each other’s work.

There isn’t a sign, but the shop is Boyne Valley Wools and Mison told us the story of the Leck family homestead. This house belonged to her husband’s family for generations.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and today was one of those days.

I walked up to an incredible piece of artwork, a limited edition print by Colette Gough (collettegough@hotmail.com), picked it up, and knew I had to have it. Thank goodness it was affordable. I would share, but it’s copyrighted.

I turned the print over, looking for the price, and noticed what was written on the back.

“Found on Bettystown beach by school children, the Tara brooch is believed to have belonged to the High King of Ireland as it is so ornate and also the elongated pin. It is now housed at the National Museum.”

The Tara Brooch. I had never heard of it before, but it was utterly stunning and perfect in every way, and the print looks like it belongs in the Book of Kells. Better yet, it seems to be associated with my ancestors. Something tangible that was actually theirs? Opinions vary – but regardless, both the art and the brooch are incredible.

I took the photo above, of the brooch itself, the next day after stumbling into it by accident at the National Museum. However, the sign below that I spotted when exiting the museum shows the colors much more vividly.

I can’t even begin to explain how utterly stunning this brooch is, nor how much I’d love to have a replica, maybe as a hair barrette?

Brian decided to wait outside and made a discovery of his own.

I walked outside of the shop and noticed that Brian was giving me the thumbs up sign. Curious, I walked over to see what he was looking at, and aside from sheep, an old cemetery was located behind the wall.

You know, I think this genealogy bug is infecting Brian too!

Private family cemeteries are rather unusual in Ireland, as most of the Irish are Catholic and Catholics are buried in consecrated land, in churchyards. This part of Ireland was (and is) heavily Catholic, with the Protestant faction being focused in Northern Ireland in the Ulster Plantation area.

Mison graciously invited us into the cemetery and gave us a tour.

The cemetery is in poor repair, although the family is working to remedy that situation. The sheep have actually helped immensely. It was previously overgrown with briers, and now you can at least walk relatively unobstructed.

This old tree reminds me of a Druid tree. What stories it must have. You can see some cut wood in the background. Hurricane Ophelia last week was not kind to the trees.

One person wrote their entire family history of this stone. Why can’t my relatives do this?

And of course, there has to be a mystery. In this case, a large crypt of a Finnegan man that the family has absolutely no idea why is buried here.

It was time to depart, but not before we noticed the bridge over…nothing, apparently.

On down the road, we noticed another wonderful stone house, with a miller’s stone, an antique car and geese. Those dogs are the friendliest watchdogs ever. One crawled through the fence to be petted. Don’t tell my grandpuppies I was cheating with another dog.

I guess those geese didn’t lay enough eggs today.

Remember the thatched roof house in the early morning fog? We passed it again, and I realized that the thatching was truly unique.

Can you see the pattern? Notice the woven bird on the top right of the crest of the roof.

Tara isn’t far down the road, another of the megalithic mound neighborhood built along the Boyne River, about 45 minutes by car from New Grange.

Thankfully, the site of Tara itself is somewhat protected, but beneath Tara a few shops celebrate the mystical origins of Tara itself.

The Tara gatekeepers, perhaps?

Tara

Before we get there, I have to warn you. Brian explained that Tara is not one of the most exciting sites for tourists. Many have expectations that Tara is much like New Grange, but it isn’t. For the most part, Tara is unexcavated and still in its original condition. The part that has been excavated has been returned to a natural state, so there are no passage graves that you can enter, interpretive center, walkways or anything like that.

In essence, it’s a very large field, albeit a very special field.

The 100-acre site is now government owned, and free, but also virtually unprotected with no government employee presence. That means it’s visually not as striking with little WOW factor, comparatively speaking. Therefore, many visitors are disappointed.

Brian was afraid I might be disappointed as well, but I attempted to convey to him the extent of my insanity as a genealogist.

Brian’s probably saying to himself, “Oy, no wonder her husband didn’t come with her!”

Well, Brian will have a few stories to add to his repertoire after this week too. I wonder if as I write this, on another continent, if Brian is regaling this week’s tourists with stories about the crazy Tara lady😊

This map created about 1900 by William Wakeman shows the layout of the site, including Rath-Laoghaire at the bottom which is the Niall of the Nine Hostages mound.

Beyond the mound, in the center of the barrows, stands the stone known as the Lia Fail, literally “stone of Ireland” in Gaelic, also known as the “stone of destiny,” where the High Irish Kings were crowned. It has previously been vandalized and is now cemented in place.

The stone is reportedly imbued with magical powers of various descriptions and is said to roar with joy when the rightful king puts his feet on the stone.

By Alison Cassidy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50403087

This aerial photo shows the gift shop area in the bottom left, the church, and behind the church to the right, the mound of Niall of the Nine Hostages which is the oldest known structure of this type in Ireland.

Tara, like other sacred sites, is located on a vista, high above the surrounding countryside.

Unlike other sites, there are no visitor walkways or paths, except for those worn into the soil by the feet of visitors who enter through a gate and simply walk across a field and up a hill, past the church dedicated to St. Patrick.

It was very common for the early Christian churches to “adopt” Pagan sites in an effort to draw the pagan people into the church.

If that didn’t work, they hoped to disrupt their pagan sites and rituals.

A statue of St. Patrick holding a shamrock stands guard near the church today, as well, looking only slightly out of place.

Passing the church and statue, the vista of the open field greets visitors as they emerge from the treed area surrounding the church. The rolling hills, which aren’t hills at all but ancient earthworks, begin. The sides of the barrows are steep and the grass is long and slippery even without mist or rain. No mowing occurs here.

The first sacred site encountered is the mound of Niall of the Nine Hostages. In early times, rival kings, or those who wished to be king, would send one of their sons, preferably their first-born who was in line to be heir and therefore more “valuable” than the rest, to be a hostage. Hostage in this sense means that the son lived with the actual king instead of his parents in order to discourage the rival kings or king-wannabes from attacking the king, knowing their son lived there and would likely be killed.

Niall took hostages from all 9 of his (potential) rivals from the various provinces of Ireland, or Ireland and Scotland, depending on the source .

The inside of this passage mound does have spiral carved rocks at the entrance, but it’s not open to the public and would not be tall enough to enter upright.

I was able to obtain a photo by slipping the camera inside the grate. When excavated in the 1950s, this passage was full of human remains, nearly to the ceiling, with burials occurring contiguously for more than 1500 years.

The items above are a few of the things excavated in the tomb.

Leaving the mound and turning towards the field, you can see the stone of destiny standing in the distance, at left, on the horizon.

Tara is a massive site, and would have been crowded with people when a new king was crowned.

I followed the path, cut into the grassy plain by the pilgrims’ feet that came, and went, before me, in modern times.

The silence and remoteness today belies the hubbub of those ancient feast and festival days. If you listen carefully, you can hear their voices in the wind.

In the center of the plateau on top of the hill, among mounds and barrows, undulating like Neolithic snakes across the land, we climb to the highest point and the stone of destiny where the kings of Ireland were crowned.

I tried, but the stone didn’t speak for me.

Looking outward from the stone, you can see the valley in the distance as the sun drifts toward the horizon.

In the photo above, the Tara fairy tree is directly under the sun.

What’s a fairy tree?

Fairy trees, generally Hawthorne’s, represent a location for pilgrims to leave items or relics representing prayers in sacred places, often for healing.

Some of these are heartbreaking – in particular, things like prayers written on baby bibs tied to the tree.

Tara is large and it took quite a while to thoughtfully walk the entire area. It’s also very hilly, with steep barrows surrounding the higher areas. At one time, these barrow rings, would have offered protection.

Circling back, we see the Niall of the Nine Hostages mound again. On the horizon, you can see this mound from almost anyplace on the site, which means this mound has inadvertently become the gatekeeper. The church which does have a steeple is obscured in the trees when viewed from Tara and is located between this mound and the road. Thankfully the trees obscure almost everything modern.

As I turn to say goodbye to Tara, knowing I will never return to this land of my ancestors in my lifetime, I’m struck by the soft mysticism that connects this landscape with my bloodline, with my family DNA, with those who trod this land so long ago, pioneers on this timeless landscape. I am here because of these people. They are part of me. My history.

No Brian, I wasn’t disappointed. My heart sang. I leave part of my soul here on the hill of Tara.

I began the day in the mist and the fog, and I end it the same timeless way, with the sun descending over the Niall of the Nine Hostages mound – feeling the spirits of my ancestors speaking across more than 5500 years, on an emerald green grassy plateau in Ireland, far distant from modern life, yet inextricably connected through the silvery spider web of time.

FTDNA Unlock Sale, Upload Fix & Triangulation

Three important pieces of information today:

  • The unlock at Family Tree DNA for transferred autosomal files from other vendors is only $10 for the duration of October, a savings of almost 50% with the coupon code.
  • After unlocking your results, you can triangulate your Ancestry, 23andMe or MyHeritage results with your Family Tree DNA matches using the new third party tool, The Triangulator.
  • For those who have been having problems transferring Ancestry results to Family Tree DNA, a fix.

Unlock Sale

You can always transfer your results from either 23andMe (V3 or V4), Ancestry (V1 or V2) or MyHeritage to Family Tree DNA for free and see your matches, but to unlock the chromosome browser, an extremely useful tool that shows you exactly where your DNA matches, your ethnicity estimates (myOrigins) or your ancientOrigins, you need to unlock the results which normally costs $19 – a lot less than a second DNA test.

For the rest of October, which is only 4 days, you can unlock your results for only $10 with the coupon code below.

Please keep in mind that the 23andMe V4 test, in production between November 2013 and August 2017, and the Ancestry V2 test, in production since May 2016, are not fully compatible with the Family Tree DNA test and transferring those results only provide you with your closest matches – normally about 20-25% of the total matches you would have if you took a Family Finder test. My Ancestry V2 transfer test provides me with 3rd-5th cousins and my smallest matching segment is 14cM. To obtain all of the matches you would have with a fully compatible DNA test, order a Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA for $69.

The Ancestry V1 test (used until May 2016), 23andMe V3 test (used until November 2013) and MyHeritage transfer files are fully compatible, so no need to order a Family Finder test if you can transfer one of those.

Triangulate

After you transfer and unlock, you’ll be able to use the new Triangulator tool on your Family Tree DNA matches. The Triangulator is easy and simple and no longer requires talking everyone into transferring their results to GedMatch to be able to triangulate.

You can read about the new Triangulator tool, here.

Transfer Troubles

Some people have been experiencing problems with transferring some Ancestry files to Family Tree DNA.

You can find Ancestry download instructions here.

There are three possible solutions for the problem. I suggest trying them in this order:

  • Delete the first download file (so you don’t get them confused) and download the Ancestry raw data file again. There have been instances of incomplete downloads. Do not open the file before uploading to Family Tree DNA.
  • Open the transfer file after downloading from Ancestry and search for the text “V1” or “V2” in the first few rows. If it says V1, change it to V2 and it if says V2, change it to V1. Save and close the file. Do not rezip the file. Just upload it to Family Tree DNA.
  • A solution for upload issues that do not resolve with one of the two steps above has been discussed on the Family Tree DNA forums. A third-party tool converts an Ancestry raw data file into a format accepted by Family Tree DNA using a blank template of a known V2 working file. You can find the tool and instructions here. There are no known issues with V1 files uploading.

Summary

With the unlock sale, the transfer fix and the new Triangulation tool, now is definitely the time to transfer those files so you can match and triangulate Ancestry, 23andMe and MyHeritage files with your matches at Family Tree DNA. You never know what you’ll find.

Click here to transfer or unlock files, or to order the Family Finder test. Remember, the code for the $10 unlock is ATUL1017.

Have fun and don’t stay up all night triangulating like I did!

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Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Quick Tip – Sharing a Link to Your Tree at Family Tree DNA

Did you know that you can share a link to view your tree that you have built, or uploaded, at Family Tree DNA even if the person you’re sharing with does NOT have an account at Family Tree DNA?

In fact, maybe they will decide they want to test their DNA after you share with them.

Matches Already See Your Tree

If you match with someone at Family Tree DNA, they can easily see your tree by clicking on the little pedigree icon on their match to you, shown at right, below. You’re already sharing your tree with your matches – and they with you.

Icons are blue for people with trees, and grey for those who still need to upload a tree or create one online, like this person.

Share with Anyone, Anyplace

Many people don’t realize that you can easily share a link to your tree with anyone, anyplace – not just people you match at Family Tree DNA.

And it’s very easy.

Just click on your “myfamilytree” link on your personal page to display your tree.

You’ll see a link to “Share Tree”, in the upper right hand area, shown below.

Family Tree DNA then provides you with a link to copy, paste and share. As an added benefit, they tell you exactly how the privacy on your tree has been configured and give you the opportunity to modify your privacy settings before sharing the link to your tree.

Sharing your tree with people to a site where no subscription is needed is a great way to get people interested in DNA testing and it couldn’t be any easier.

Click here to sign in and share your tree with someone, today.

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Introducing The Triangulator

Goran Runfeldt, a fellow genetic genealogist, has developed a killer app. You’ve heard of “The Terminator?” Well, meet “The Triangulator.”

Goran developed the Family Finder Segment Triangulator tool to run, using a user script or browser extension, on the Family Tree DNA site, after you sign in to your personal page. So there is no downloading, no spreadsheets, nothing messy.

The Triangulator tool is still in beta, so while the documentation is rather sparse, the tool is extremely intuitive if you understand triangulation.

What is Triangulation?

If you don’t understand triangulation, what it is, how it differs from match groups, and why you would want to utilize triangulation, may I please suggest that you read the following articles before utilizing the tool.

Concepts – Why Genetic Genealogy and Triangulation?

Concepts – Match Groups and Triangulation

Triangulation for Autosomal DNA

In a nutshell, triangulation provides you with a tool to show that not only do person A and B match you, on the same segment, but that they also match each other.

This means that they are not matching you on the same segment number from opposite sides of your family, meaning one person matching you from your mother’s side, and one from your father’s side. If they match other, as well as you, that means that they both descend from the same side of your tree (assuming they are not both matching you identically by chance.)

Family Tree DNA shows you, utilizing the chromosome browser, that two people match you, and on the same segment, but they don’t (yet) inform you about triangulation, although they are working on a triangulation tool.

Chromosome Browser

In the following example, we have 5 known relatives to Barbara, whose background chromosome is black. As you can see, there are three possible triangulation points where at least two of the people match Barbara.

Just to be sure, I downloaded these matches to a spreadsheet to illustrate that these matches are not trivial in size – meaning based on their size, they certainly should be legitimate matches.

All three matching areas on this chromosome (grey, gold and blue) are large enough to be considered substantial, and when compared to the charts created by Philip Gammon in the Match-Maker-Breaker article, we see that there is almost no likelihood that these are false matches, or matches by chance. In that article, when phasing matches to parents, we demonstrated that 97% of the matches of 12cM or more and/or SNP density of 2800 or more phase to one or the other parent, meaning they are legitimate matches. At 15cM, 100% of a child’s matches also match a parent, except for the X chromosome.

All of these cousins descend from Barbara’s paternal side, from the same family line, so the chances are pretty good that they do all triangulate, but let’s see.

Installing the Triangulator

First, you’ll need to install the triangulator.

My choice is to utilize the tool in Chrome, as I had difficulties with Internet Explorer compatibility. Chrome works just fine.

Goran has provided installation instructions for various browsers here.

If you’re installing this tool in Chrome, be sure to sign in to the Chrome web store while using Chrome to install the free app, or the store will ask you to download Chrome.

The installation is super easy – just one click, literally.

Triangulating

Ok, now the hardest part is over and we can get busy triangulating right away.

Sign in to your account at Family Tree DNA, using the browser where you just installed the tool.

Click on your Family Finder matches.

You’ll notice something new right away, a new icon that says “dnagen tools” at the top of your Family Finder matches. That’s the Triangulator.

On your match list, select the people you want to triangulate, just like you were selecting the people to compare in the chromosome browser.

Your comparison list will be built, like always, on the lower left hand side of your screen.

To triangulate, instead of clicking on the Chromosome Browser button, you’re going to click on the new dnagentools icon.

You’ll see a little dropdown box that says “Triangulator.”

Just click on “Triangulator.”

That’s it.

Processing…

You’ll see the progress bar as the tool calculates the relationships of the people you are triangulating to each other.

When the tool finishes, it switches to the Triangulated Segment tab, which is what everyone wants to see first, but you can always click on the Relationships tab to view the various relationships of the people you selected to each other.

All of the genetically estimated relationship of all of the people you’ve triangulated to every other person in the group are displayed.

Triangulated Segments

When the Triangulator is finished, you’ll see the “Triangulated Segments,” tab displayed, assuming some segments do triangulate, with a small image of the chromosome beneath each triangulated segment.  The area where the segments match to you is colored in orange and where the segments all triangulate is colored in red.

Additionally, the tool shows you the actual overlap range, the number of matching positions and the overlapping number of SNPs as well.

If you think you’ve died and gone to triangulation heaven, you have.

Downloadable Data

In order for you to easily transfer this information to your spreadsheets where you are triangulating your segments (you are, aren’t you???) and assigning segments to ancestors, Goran has provided a nifty tool for that too.

At the bottom, Goran has included downloads of:

  • All matching segments for these people
  • The triangulated segments for these people over the match threshold selected, which defaults to 5, same as the chromosome browser
  • The relationships of these people to each other

Yes, you can lower the threshold, but just remember that as you do, the chances of the segments being identical by chance increases.

The Answer to Our Problem – Triangulation is Critical

In case you’ve gotten all excited about triangulating and forgotten that we were in the middle of a story problem, let’s look at our answer.

If you recall, there were three candidate regions for triangulating between Barbara’s known cousins on chromosome 3.

However, the Triangulator only shows two triangulating segments, the first and third. That means that the second of these large segments does NOT triangulate. That means that one of these third cousins matches Barbara on that segment in one of these three ways:

  • By chance
  • Because the overlapping matching region is too small to be considered a match
  • One person matches from Barbara’s mother’s side and one from her father’s side – as unlikely as that seems with third cousins.

The most likely reason for non-triangulation is the third reason, given those large matching segment segment sizes.

While the first and third (grey and blue) segment match groups both triangulate, the middle (gold) region does not.

If you’re shocked, just remember that no matter how intuitive a match seems, and no matter how “sure” you are that two people from the same line of your family certainly must triangulate because they both match you on the same segment, without triangulation, you REALLY DON’T KNOW!

And you all know about assume, right? Been there, done that, got educated!

Triangulate removes the assume from the equation.

In this case, triangulation tells me that I need to look on Barbara’s mother’s side for a second common ancestor with either C. Lentz or W. Lentz.

Just so you know, I was suspicious of this result, but given that I have access directly to the kits of both C. and W. Lentz, because I tested them both, I verified that they don’t match each other on this segment, both at Family Tree DNA and at GedMatch.  So this is no mistake.

Support

This triangulation tool is a “goodness of heart” free application shared with the genetic genealogy community, and while Goran is willing to share, he doesn’t really want his inbox to be swamped. In the tool, he provides the following support information.

Goran follows the ISOGG Facebook group, so posting questions there will provide answers for you, and maybe for someone else following along too.

What if I Haven’t Tested at Family Tree DNA?

The Triangulator tool requires chromosome segment data, thankfully provided by Family Tree DNA. Therefore, this tool is not available for use with Ancestry data at Ancestry. You can, however, download your Ancestry DNA file to Family Tree DNA. Not everyone who tests at each vendor uploads to other places, so be sure to fish in all of the ponds, one way or another.

You can read about which vendors’ files are compatible to transfer to Family Tree DNA (and other places too) in the article Autosomal DNA Transfers – Which Companies Accept Which Tests?

The following chart shows transfer Files Accepted at Family Tree DNA.

Vendor Fully Compatible Version Partially Compatible Version Incompatible Version
Ancestry V1 – until May 2016 V2 – after May 2016 to present
23andMe V3 – until Nov. 2013 V4 – Nov. 2013 – Aug. 2017 V5 – Aug. 2017 to present
MyHeritage All

Keep in mind that the current V5 version of the 23andMe test is not compatible at all at Family Tree DNA. The 23andMe V4 version, in use between November of 2013 and August of 2017 is only partially compatible, as is the Ancestry V2 version in use since May 2016.

If you upload partially compatible versions, you’ll receive your closest (meaning largest) matches, generally about 20-25 % of your matches that you would receive if you tested on the Family Tree DNA platform.  However, you’ll be missing most of your matches, and you never know where that match you desperately need is hiding.

Note that this isn’t an artificial restriction imposed by Family Tree DNA, it’s a function of the other vendor’s chips only being partially compatible with the DNA processing chip used by Family Tree DNA.

If you want to see all of your matches and all of your segments, purchase the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA.

Thank You

A really big thank you to Goran and the user interface developer, Jonas, for this wonderful tool.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains

Sometime in the night, hurricane Ophelia departed Dublin, like an unwelcome guest. Her banshee shrieking ceased, and in the morning, the day broke on my second full day in Ireland with glistening sunshine, like Mother Nature was trying to sooth the wounds Ophelia imparted yesterday.

The day began with a leisurely drive along the coast to the south of Dublin.

I knew Brian and I were going to the Wicklow Mountains, but I didn’t realize there were really two ranges, the Dublin Mountains and the Wicklow Mountains, and they hug the coastline in many places. Truthfully, before this trip, I never realized that Ireland had mountains. I think of Ireland, green fields and Shamrocks.

The nice thing, for the Irish, is that these ranges of stunningly beautiful mountains aren’t remote – meaning they are only an hour or an hour and a half away from Dublin – but feels like a million miles.

Keep in mind that yesterday was a hurricane, and this morning’s temperature was 45F, with a real feel temperature of 42 – so I really wasn’t sure what we would find.

I was floating on the edge of sleep again, as Brian drove along in the glorious, warm sunshine when I heard his voice in the distance say something about swimming. Surely, I was dreaming…

The Forty Foot

The first place we stopped was the “old swimming hole.” Of course, I thought Brian was kidding when he suggested that I look to see if someone was swimming today. No one in their right mind would be swimming. It was freezing cold. Both in the water and out, PLUS, all that storm debris was everyplace. Brian has a great sense of humor.

But then, he suggested again.

Did Brian think I was born yesterday and fell off the turnip truck?

Well, OK, I’ll look, just to humor Brian.

Ahem…

Yep, those things bobbing around in the water are people. By the way, in the background, the church spires of Dublin in the distance. I barely noticed the spires.

Now I don’t know exactly how to mention this politely, so I’m not going to try.

It’s nude swimming. Now, if this was the south of France in the summertime or the Caribbean perhaps, I wouldn’t have thought anything about nude swimming,.  But Ireland, in October?  Seriously?

And these swimmers aren’t kids either. There was no one under 60. I met one man today, Patrick, who was 86, and yes, Patrick was swimming, or at least he was on his way to swim…in his speedo which I think got removed at water’s edge. And Patrick claimed he wasn’t cold. I touched his arm, and he really wasn’t cold. He bid us a quick goodbye and said he had to hurry up and get into that frigid water before he got cold. HUH???

Do these people have antifreeze in their veins.

And they do this every single day, rain, shine, sleet, snow, hurricane.

This area used to be for gentlemen swimmers only, but a few years ago, women staged a protest, a swim-in, for lack of another word, and now both genders swim daily, year round, 365 days a year. In their birthday suits.

They do try to be quite modest when “changing,” so not to cause traffic accidents or shock American tourists.

Then there was this guy who was dancing, for lack of any better description. Actually, kind of dancing and yoga combined with a very loose towel hula skirt. Or maybe this was interpretive dance. I took a video of his great reveal, but I can’t share it with you. 

You can swim in the buff, however, you CANNOT take your dog swimming, so don’t even think about it. Rules are rules, after all.

By now I was fully awake and in desperate need of coffee, but none was to be found. Is Ireland, between hurricane Ophelia and our recycled teenaged swimmers, actually an alternate reality? I was beginning to wonder.

And you want to hear what’s worse? Brian knew them. All of them. By name. Except for the dancer who Brian says is new. But Brian swears he doesn’t know how to swim.

I, I , I just don’t know quite what to think😊

The Coastline

Nature continued to amaze and delight today.

In this picture, you can see Howth across the bay. I was standing on top of that hill taking photos of the lighthouse below in a hurricane 24 hours earlier. So, we’ve literally come full circle. What a difference a day makes.

This Napoleonic watch tower, built around 1804, was later the home of James Joyce when he wrote Ulysses. These watch towers, all within sight of each other, dot the coastline.

Our next stop at Colemore Harbour was punctuated by beautiful old boats on the ramp among homes of the rich and sometimes famous.

Another watchtower, this one on an island.

This view looking south shows the Wicklow mountains, where we were heading. I never realized that Ireland had mountains.

Mary Herrell’s death wish makes a lot more sense now. She said that when she died, she wanted her body to be placed on top of Herrald Mountain in Wilkes County, NC so her soul could fly back to Ireland. It’s no wonder Appalachia felt so much at home to these transplants.

Now, if Mary would just have told us her maiden name and where she was from in Ireland….

The Wicklow Mountains

Castles, old and new line this route. This is where Enya lives.

Most roads in the mountains are small and only wide enough for one car. People simply go slow and share, with no honking of horns or road rage.

Then there’s your obligatory ram standing beside the road. Better than in the road. By the way, in many places, there are no fences.

Sugarloaf Mountain.

The Powerscourt Hotel complex was originally a castle. Can you tell?

Beautiful, sheltered courtyard.

Look at these spider-stompers!

The formal gardens were beautiful, but the tea and scones beckoned me.

We had a proper tea. I had a pear and vanilla scone, and Brian had a currant scone. No wonder we didn’t eat lunch until 2:30.

Sheep grazing in the shadow of the mountains, beside the hedges of rosebushes. You’re looking at the rose hips. This area looks a LOT like Scotland.

Unlike Appalachia, there are few little creeks and brooks here, so imagine my surprise when we came around the corner to this beauty. I think Brian said this waterfall is 420 feet high and it’s stunning.

The rock at the bottom actually has a large hole where you can see the water on the other side.

Next, we drove along the bog fields where little grows except heather.

Here’s a closeup of yellow heather.

Brian knows the horses and they come to the fence when he makes whinnying sounds. He’s pretty darned good and says he has known these horses for 20 years now. The white horse, Mr. Ed, does not allow you to feed the brown horse nor does the white horse like to be petted. “Feed me, but for heaven’s sake, don’t touch me…or anyone else either.” Reminds me of my cats.

This amazing highlands property is owned by the Guinness family. The lake has actually been engineered to actually look like Guinness beer.

The black granite at the bottom of the lake makes the water look black, and the family had millions of tons of white sand brought in to look like Guinness “foam” around the edges when it’s drawn from the tap.

What do you think? Did it work?

This entire valley is owned by the Guinness family and is breathtakingly beautiful in it’s stark ruggedness.

Did I mention Braveheart and the Viking series were filmed here? I need to watch Braveheart again.

It’s simply stunning everyplace you look.

On to the pub for lunch. I just love this painting on the ceiling above the fireplace. And I love Irish pubs too!

And the Guinness stew, to die for. No picture of the stew. I thought of it too late.

A monastery, now in ruins, was founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin in Glendalough.

A chiseled cross was supposed to offer protection and stop everyone…except the Vikings didn’t understand apparently.

The cemetery is still in use or at least was until 1900 or so.

However, the abbey is in ruins.

One man lived to be 106. Imagine that in a time before antibiotics or any other type of modern medicine. He had to have been both lucky and genetically predisposed to longevity – not to mention a lack of Viking invasions during his lifetime.

I love that tree line on the far hill.

This stone tiled building may have been a kitchen.

The tower as viewed through the ruins of the monastery.

It seems that life in this part of Ireland revolved around sheep, land, the church and either whiskey or beer.

I hope that someone has cataloged these stones for Find-a-grave.

This area of Ireland is known for its woven wools.

Headed back to Dublin at the day’s end.

I can certainly see why Mary Herrall wanted her soul to fly back to “sweet old Ireland.”

Tomorrow, New Grange, Knowth and Tara, land of Niall of the Nine Hostages, my ancestor.

Meeting Ophelia in Dublin

If I was an Irish lad or lass,
I’d think today was a blast.
Ophelia was a gift
No working on my shift.
Of course.
Of course.

I’m no fool.
There’s no school or car pool
No busses or planes.
Too windy to ride,
I’m taking this in stride.
Must stay at home,
For safety’s concern…
Of course.
Of course.

Too unsafe to go out
And walk about.
Except to the pub
For some grub,
Good company,
And Guinness
Of course,
Of course.

Ophelia’s winds are harsh
And will blow you right into the marsh,
So don’t walk or ride,
Just kinda slide,
Holding onto whatever you can
Or find yourself a stout man.
On the way to the pub
For that lovely pub grub.
And to discuss why you have to stay home
Cause it’s too dangerous to roam…
Of course.
Of course.

Ok, so my Irish ditty writing could use some improvement, but go easy on me.  After all, I did survive a hurricane in Ireland. And, I learned exactly how the Irish handle a weather event like this.

First, they refer to the windy day as being a “fresh day.” Yea, it’s fresh alright, it’ll blow the stink right off of you, along with exfoliate at least the top layer of skin.

I’m sitting back in my hotel room now, listening to the wind batter the side of the building, blowing objects from other buildings into this one. I swear, the rafters are lifting up and down, slamming like the screen door just before my mother yelled at me, “don’t slam the screen.” Too late! Wham, again.

Many places, especially along the coastline, were shuttered with plywood today and noplace, and I do literally mean noplace except for a couple pubs, was open. It’s not like Brian and I didn’t try.

I know I’m part Irish now, because I was determined to make lemonade out of lemons.

You see, that’s what the Irish do. That is pretty much their approach to life. Not just Ophelia.

Ophelia Makes Landfall

This is by far the weirdest hurricane I’ve ever weathered.

While the hurricane was striking, there were bands of rain, which is typical, interspersed with bands of sunshine, which isn’t.

The wind was very warm – also very unusual.

There were no thunderstorms or tornadoes, at least not yet.

But the wind.  My God, the wind. It was truly brutal – registering gusts as high as 119 MPH. The worst storm Ireland has seen in 50 years.

Brian and I discovered an elderly man laying on the sidewalk. Brian pulled over, stopped, we got out and tried to help the man by recruiting two other men walking along to try to help him to his feet. The man was in quite a bit of pain, and it became evident that he had badly hurt himself. We gently lowered him back on the sidewalk, as there was no place else to put him, and called the ambulance. Of course we stayed with him and tried to bring him some comfort. The police and firetruck arrived within a minute or so, and about that time a huge gust of wind came along and blew me into a police officer who was standing beside me, nearly knocking us both over.

I apologized profusely. I mean, assaulting a police officer isn’t something I normally do.

Enter the Irish sense of humor.

His partner, who witnessed the event, of course, says, “Brian always has that effect on women.” I was embarrassed. Brian (yes, the third Brian of the day) then very kindly took ahold of my arm so that I wasn’t blown elsewhere with a much less soft landing.

The wind was just that strong.

Jim Cantore strong.

The. Irish. Are. Such. Genuinely. Nice. People.

Brian

Let me introduce you to the first Brian, Brian O’Reilly. You can’t get more Irish than that!

He’s amazing.

I found Brian through a series of referrals before my arrival in Dublin.

He’s a professional tour guide, taxi owner and driver.

In other words, if he’s not working with individuals, or hotels, he fills in the time by doing general taxi work.

He drives a nice mini-van with the driver’s seat on the “wrong side” by American perspective.

The perfect person to make lemonade with.

Unfortunately, many of the things he had planned for me today, we couldn’t do. We had already regrouped once from the countryside to Dublin city, because of the weather. Brian said they never get hurricanes here, so he truly didn’t think this one would strike.

Many people felt the same way initially, but last night the TV was full of doom and gloom, trying to convince people to stay home and be safe. This storm hasn’t deposited a lot of rain, but the winds have been devastating. It’s like straight-line-winds for hours on end.

Trees, branches, roofing materials – all flying around.

So, in essence Ireland shut down and told everyone to stay home. Of course, everyone welcomed “Holiday Ophelia.”

That means that there were only two places people were…home and the pub.

The Pub

The local pub in Ireland is a public gathering place.

And just because you’re not local doesn’t mean that you’re out of place. They just immediately adopt you and inside of 10 minutes, you’re one of them, exchanging stories like you’ve always been there.

Ok, here’s proof.

This is my new friend, Edna. We had SO MUCH FUN. I drank my first Guinness. Yes, that’s it in the baby glass. I wasn’t at all sure that I liked Guinness, but I do.

She was an experienced, expert Guinness drinker.

The Irish have traditions for everything, and drinking Guinness is no exception.

For women, newbies or “pansys,” (their word, not mine), they add a couple drops of black current to Guinness. It makes the Guinness slightly sweet and more palatable for those who have not yet acquired the taste. Edna, my new friend, asked the bartender to do that for me.

He looked at me deadpan and said, “No. You drink Guinness neat or not at all. It’s against our religion here to sully our Guinness with anything.” He paused for a minute, then looked at me and said, “Well, drink up.” I did, and liked Guinness. It tastes like a slightly smoky beer. He smiled and said, “See, you didn’t need any of that pansy stuff,” turned and walked away, leaving Edna and me in stitches and shrieking peals of laughter.

Yea, I know, all of you who know me are saying to yourself, “I can’t believe this, Roberta, in a bar.” However, pubs are not the same as bars. Pubs are local and safe gathering places, probably originating as fires around which our very ancient ancestors gathered in the evenings to share some fermented something-or-other and revel in tales about the wooly mammoths they had seen that day.

Plus, I had Brian with me, or better put, he had me with him.

Now here’s a shocker. Not all of the pubs were open, which simply made the ones that were more crowded, and more interesting. Somehow ironic that everyone was gathered around the TV, moaning about damage and danger reports and discussing why it was too dangerous for them to go to work.  Of course, going to the pub was just fine.  Why would you ask? Makes perfectly good sense.

And friendly?  You haven’t met friendly until you’ve met the Irish. Let’s put it this way, I got hugged and kissed goodbye (on the check) by Edna’s lover (her word, not mine), Brian, (the second Brian), on the way out the door.

They don’t do the cheek kiss thing as much here as they do on the European mainland, but they obviously have adopted that custom at least partially. Or Brian was getting cheeky with me, one or the other. Pardon the pun.

Ok, enough about the pubs.

Howth

Ophelia was scheduled to arrive in Dublin between 1 and 3 today. She was a prompt guest and is obviously staying overnight because she’s still here and the winds have not abated one bit, as of midnight.

Brian is a native Dubliner and we decided, based upon his experience, to visit a beautiful fishing village north of Dublin in the morning, because a fishing village in driving rain isn’t fun – and that’s what we expected in the afternoon.

Howth is on the Bay of Dublin and where the fishing fleet is located. Seafood doesn’t get fresher than at this famous restaurant, literally at the end of the dock. Of course, it was closed.

On the wharf, the warehouses are interspersed with little shops.

I desperately wanted to eat at the Octopussy Seafood Tapas restaurant, but they weren’t open. And weren’t planning to open, given the weather, although they did have to stand outside and discuss it for several minutes.

Another local place that looked like a lot of fun!

I wonder how much this storm cost Ireland.

One place warned visitors that they had only a skeleton crew today.

The Pier West Art Studio was open, albeit boarded up. Perhaps this cupid’s head is a good luck piece. My friend who lives on the Outer Banks in North Carolina has a good luck angel strapped to one of the support stilts of her house. Maybe this is the same kind of protection.

Speaking of art, we saw this beautiful chain saw carving along the way.

The views from Howth were spectacular.

I love seaside villages anyway, but today, with the weather event, Mother Nature was truly putting on a show!

I must admit, I found this warning to be quite humorous, especially since it was cobblestones that laid me low previously.

The red sign tells people that the pier is close today due to weather. Well, duh, you can barely walk and stand upright, but somehow, people managed and walked the pier anyway.

Brian and I kept to the edge away from the water and didn’t walk beyond the sign. Neither of us was interested in pulling the other out.

No fishing boats out today.

As the day wore on, about noon, the sea and sky became more menacing. Brian said he has never seen waves like there were today, although they don’t look bad in this little cove.

Given the wind on the top of the hill where I was standing, I couldn’t get closer to this lighthouse by the sea. By this time, the wind was driving the sand mixed with rain in sheets that felt like sandpaper on your skin. Dublin city was across the bay, if you could have seen that far.

Brian knew all of the good places to stop for photography.

On the way out of town, we drove up into the village of Howth itself and discovered this stunning old church ruin with its cemetery intact.

This is just so Irish. A church ruin, a tiny old cemetery and it’s all tucked quaintly beside modern homes and utilities on a steep hillside just above the sea.

Have I mentioned that all signs here are in Gaelic as well as English? A dual language provision is actually in the Irish constitution, based on the fact that the English had tried to eradicate the “Irish heritage” by eliminating the Gaelic language, not to mention the Catholic religion.

Today, Gaelic is taught in the schools and Brian’s grandchildren attend a school where the children are taught 75% of their studies in Gaelic and 25% in English.

Many Irish buildings are quite ancient by US standards.

Everything in the old country is, well, old. They literally use everything until it can’t be used anymore. At that time, depending on the structure, what it is and where it is, they either tear it down or abandon it. Buildings currently in use are often hundreds of years old.

If these old pub steps could talk…

And these steps, across from the ruined church, literally leading no place. However, at some time they clearly led someplace and I’d love to know that story.

It was time to head back to Dublin. Even though we were only about 10 miles north, it felt extremely rural, like we had crossed a time barrier into an earlier domain.

Back in Dublin, we discovered that all of the Starbucks were closed. Heresy, I tell you. Chocolate shops all closed too. Imagine! What’s a woman to do?

Find a pub, of course. The Irish answer for everything. We did find a nice pub for lunch.

Deviled Lamb Kidney’s anyone?

I’ve already introduced you to Edna, of course. Ahh, our lunch was too short but what a fun experience. In Ireland, everyone speaks to and talks to everyone else. It’s catching. I’m doing in too, but in the US the same behavior would be view as borderline predatory.

Next, we tried to visit various gardens, museums and even the Guinness Brewery, but everything was closed. So we drove to see the sights.

I think Brian told me that this was the Irish Parliament building, but I was fascinated by the gate.

Notice that there are many green leaves on the ground because they are being stripped from the trees by the wind today.

Notice too that right this minute, the sun was out, but the wind was still intense and unrelenting. It was a very, very odd weather day.

Brian says this is the most photographed door in Dublin.

The Irish refer to this as the “Pepper Canister Church,” smack dab in the middle of the street.

Today, no tourists or competition, so opportunities for wonderful photos – and no traffic either, which was rather uncanny. Brian indicated that normally traffic during the week is neck to neck all day long in the city. Did the Rapture come to pass and I got left behind in Ireland with Brian?

Did you notice the rainbow? I can’t find the words for how bright and intense this rainbow was. It was actually startling as we turned the corner, like fire in the sky. 

I suggested to Brian that perhaps we should find the pot at the end. I mean, after all, we ARE in Ireland.

This rainbow lasted for quite a long time, but then, was gone as quickly as it had appeared.  A beautiful end to an exciting day, making lemons out of lemonade!

Ophelia wasn’t an invited guest, and hasn’t left yet, but she assuredly didn’t ruin the day and perhaps made it more memorable. How many other people can reminisce about their Irish hurricane?

Right now, aside from the actual physical danger of the winds blowing you over, like that poor man, and flying debris, the biggest problem is that almost half a million people are without power. Trees blowing over have taken many power lines with them. Furthermore, phone carriers are impaired and TV and internet are spotty, at best. The mast that holds the equipment is snapped in half outside the hotel.

Tomorrow, if possible, Brian and I will visit the coast south of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains. From the sounds of the wind right now, maybe not. Unless it stops, we may have to find a way to make more lemonade!

Rockstar Genealogist Voting 2017

John Reid of Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections is once again conducting the Rockstar Genealogist poll, back by popular demand. Normally, this happens in early September and when I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t think it was happening this year – but alas – it’s back.

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Great graphic from John’s blog, don’t you think!!!

Rockstar Voting

Voting begins today, October 16, and John closes votes when he feels like it, generally after a few days, so vote early!

John’s definition of a Rockstar genealogist is as follows:

Rockstar genealogists are those who give “must attend” presentations at family history conferences or as webinars, who when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. If you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter they are likely Rockstar candidates. For clarity, it’s about communication and influence not who’s the best researcher.

I particularly like this event for two reasons:

  • It gives the community a way to thank the people who contribute all the time.
  • It gives everyone the chance to discover a new resource – someone you didn’t know existed before.

The genetic genealogy world is growing by leaps and bounds.

First, I encourage everyone to vote. John always does a great job of having several categories so there are places for many people to be recognized. John has changed the process just a bit, so take a look here for how to set up a Google account if you don’t already have one.  John is trying to eliminate duplicate voting.

Second, please, take a few minutes and look at the nominees. Find someone you don’t know, google their name. They may write a blog or specialize in an area you will find interesting.

So, don’t forget to vote for your favorite Rockstar genealogists! Thanks, John, for hosting this for the community.

And speaking of presentations…I’m speaking this fall at a few you might be interested in attending, in person or online. Ireland or Native Americans, anyone? Click here to take a look.

Ophelia – A Hurricane In Ireland

If you find this a bit unbelievable, well, so do I.

I’ve learned an awful lot about hurricanes in Ireland over these past couple days, including that they aren’t generally called hurricanes. Cyclone appears to the official name, but here in Dublin, they call them “Big Winds.” As in, “the last big wind we had was in 1987,” or worse yet, if you want to feel really old, “the last big wind we had was before I was born.” It’s also called the Great Storm of 1987.

It appears that the “greatest storm ever”, which of course means in the history we are aware of, was recorded when a freak storm occurred between the nights of January 6 and 7, 1839. It was titled, “The Night of the Big Wind.” This article is a fascinating read, and although it doesn’t happen often, severe storms of hurricanes clearly do happen in Ireland. And they have likely happened in Ireland forever and maybe one in a lifetime would have been known to our ancestors.

Well, big wind, hurricane, typhoon or cyclone, a rose by any other name…and this one is named Ophelia.

In Hamlet’s tale, Ophelia, a name he appears to have made up, is a women tragically torn and who then then descends into madness.

That’s a good description, if I’ve ever heard one, for a hurricane that is going to hit Ireland – way off track…tomorrow…exactly 30 years to the day since the last “big one.”

It’s insane!

Now, of course, this would happen to me. I swear, is Michael Lacopo hiding in my suitcase? Am I related to him and don’t know it? Do we both carry a calamity gene? This kind of thing is only supposed to happen to him, and I mean, it happens regularly to him. In the genetic genealogy community, everyone asks Michael his travel arrangements before booking their own, because everyone knows what happens to Michael. I’m not kidding!

Hurricane Magnet

On the other hand, this isn’t exactly my first hurricane. I seem to attract them, somehow. In fact, I actually got married in the lull caused by the eye of hurricane Isabella, in Ohio. Yes, I said, in Ohio. And then there’s the hurricane on the Outer Banks where I waited too long to evacuate and the road was washing out as I tried to make my way to the Bonner bridge before the road was washed entirely into the sea. That was one of those trips that if you start, you don’t dare stop. And then there was the next hurricane too that sandblasted the side of my car, also on the outer banks….but never mind…I’m sure you get the drift. And suffice it to say I don’t even live anyplace near a hurricane state.

So, apparently I have some sort of hurricane magnetism…and it’s showing again. Mind you, I couldn’t even so much as muster up a rainstorm at home for weeks on end this summer.

Dublin

This trip to Dublin, I swear, has been jinxed from the beginning. I hesitate to say any more, because I don’t want to further jinx the trip, but let’s just say that this trip has been in jeopardy more than once, beginning with the fall in July that happened two days after I booked my (uncancellable) accommodations. You’ve already read about the resulting DVT.

My doctor authorized this trip, but ONLY IF I promised to fly first class, with seat room more befitting my “body type.” I do not fit well into 17 inch seats. Who over the age of about 10 does?

To say I nearly had a coronary or a stroke when I saw the price of the first class upgrade is an understatement. But by that time, it was either lose the 10 days unrefundable hotel and flight I had already booked or upgrade. Do you want to bleed this way or that way?

So, the upgrade was booked and I wrapped both legs in ace bandages for the journey, which she also made me promise. I then discovered that the only way to keep ace bandages in place was to use leggings, or in my case, long underwear given that I didn’t have any leggings.

So, I arrived at the airport looking and walking stiffly like a mummy which earned me a special “groin pat down” in security, even though I am already TSA prechecked. And lots of questions about why my legs were wrapped. I so wanted to say, “because I’m a mummy, in fact I’m a grand-mummy too,” but because I’ve heard that the TSA agents have no sense of humor whatsoever, for once in my lifetime, I kept my mouth shut and better judgement prevailed. Otherwise, I’d still be at that same airport, in some small room.

After all that, what else could possibly go wrong?

Let’s just say something did not agree with me. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to make the actual flight, given that I was apparently homesteading in the bathroom. Not only that, there were there gate changes, in different concourses (of course), with me only able to hobble.

I then received one of “those” phone calls, while camped out in the bathroom.

You know, one of the phone calls we know that is eventually inevitable but we dread intensely. Yes, a family member had passed away, unexpectedly.

So there I sat, in the airport bathroom, in jeopardy of missing a flight in a different concourse, flying into an area that was expecting a hurricane, sobbing as I received the news and trying to compose myself enough to call my family members most affected. I had by now pretty much turned into an emotional wreck.

I considered bagging the entire trip, but there was nothing to be done at home, and the trip, still uncancellable, was extremely costly. The only blessing is that my family member’s passing was swift. So, I managed to find the correct gate, at the last minute, and deposit myself on the plane. I’m not a drinker, but I had two drinks just the same, which for me is absolutely unheard of. I’m going to have to change that answer on my medical records from “no alcohol” to 2 per year.

Yesterday ended as day faded into night and then, just a very few hours later, night faded back into day after an artificially shortened night because you’re flying into the dawn.

So, as I sit here in a historical hotel in Dublin this later afternoon, the sky is darkening once again, but this time, it’s not because of night’s approach. It’s the wrath of Ophelia beginning.

I told you that I’d take you along on this trip, but this wasn’t exactly what I meant. Just the same, let’s make lemonade out of lemons!

We get to experience Dublin together and maybe we will have a great adventure!

Emerald Isle Beginnings

The day began very early, as the sunlight emerged on the horizon and the plane flew above or through some of Ophelia’s turbulence. It was strong enough to wake me up, bouncing around in the plane. Belongings were hitting the floor. The captain woke us up to tell us to fasten our seatbelts.

We passed over the turbulence that was Ophelia, who would catch up with me again in a couple days, playing our own personal cat and mouse game it seems.

When we landed in Ireland, leaving Ophelia behind in the Atlantic, the sun was bright and beautiful. You can definitely see where the nickname “Emerald Isle” originated. That sunshine was to be short-lived.

Of course, I couldn’t check into my hotel when I arrived, because the rooms weren’t quite yet ready. That’s what happens when you arrive at 9 in the morning.

My choices were to sit in the lobby and wait…and wait…and wait…or do something else. I chose to have a tea and some soda bread with black currant and raspberry jams and then take a hop-on-hop-off tour that took a total of about two and a half hours. That would hopefully give the hotel enough time to prepare a room and I would get to see something of Dublin.

By early evening, the winds, gloom and clouds of Ophelia had replaced the beautiful sunshine, but thankfully, not until after I had finished my tour.

Dublin in Under Three Hours

The first thing I learned on the tour is where the word Donnybrook came from.

Donnybrook

This church was the location between Ballsbridge and Donnybrook where the locals prayed for the souls of Donnybrook, and prayed for many of them to go away, it appears.

Our guide told us that while initially, Donnybrook was a local medieval fair, beginning in about the year 800, that over time it devolved into something that included copious amounts of drinking and various degrees of alcohol infused arguing and fighting. Hence, the genesis of the word Donnybrook.

Now, I assure you that my ancestors were involved in this, because, well, my ancestors were always involved in anything like this. I wouldn’t know what to do with a well-behaved ancestor. I would wonder how they ever got into my pedigree chart. Must surely be an NPE!

I would love, just love to visit Donnybrook fair for a day, back in the 1200s or 1300s, perhaps, with whichever of my ancestors might have been living here at the time. Oh, what fun we would have!

Doors

Dublin is also the land of doors. In Georgian neighborhoods, the only thing you are allowed to change on historical homes is the color of the door, hence, this. The guide said it also helps you find the right house when you come home late at night from the pub, or Donnybrook.

And, are you ready for this, the cheapest of these cost upwards of a million dollars, and I’m not talking about the entire row of apartments, but just one flat. And those are the cheap seats.

Markets

Sunday is the day in Dublin for art and street fairs. The fence along this public park sports the offerings of local artists and many people are walking and chatting.

Small markets appear all over the old part of the city, in nooks and crannies.

Along the River Liffey

The Irish famine shaped the people and the history of Ireland as well as the US, Canada and other diaspora regions. Due to the famine, many died, and many immigrated as well between 1840 and 1850.

This photo doesn’t do this memorial justice. Take a minute and look at this short YouTube video.

In the same video, you also get a look at Ireland’s harp bridge. This isn’t the official name, but I also discovered that in Dublin, everything has a nickname and about 90% of them are not printable here.

This bridge can also be played like a harp using fire hoses with pressurized water to vibrate the strings.

Embassy District

The American embassy.

The RDS, or Royal Dublin Society center, where Genetic Genealogy Ireland is going to be held later this week. I can hardly wait!

The Clayton Ballsbridge, my hotel, was next on the circuit.

This beautiful old building was opened as a Masonic Girl’s School in the 1880s.

The tile in the entryway is just beautiful.

Of course, I’m on the 6th floor and with Ophelia headed our way tomorrow, we’ll see just how well this building is constructed. I love old buildings though, and would much prefer to stay in a historic structure if possible.

Architecture

Put another way, the only buildings I’m not cracked up about are modern lifeless ones. I just love quaint, artistic buildings.

The Ferryman, along the river, across from what was the oldest Viking settlement known in Ireland. The descendants of those men probably have a brew in this pub today.

One of the things I dearly love about European cities is the intermingling of the old, meaning medieval, and the new. This is just a typical street scene. Lots of people walking everyplace.

Here’s another example of a beautiful old church behind the Guinness Brewery.

Guinness

Guinness, we have to talk about Guinness for a minute.

I know Guinness as a brand of beer, but in Dublin, it’s a wealthy family who happens to brew beer…the favorite beer of the Irish, it seems.

The Guinness Storehouse, which is also Ireland’s most popular tour, isn’t just a place, but a complex.

The Brewery and the Guinness Storehouse may be where I’ll be touring later this week, given that we were told that they “never close.” I hope that isn’t a dare to Ophelia.

Now, at one point, the hop-on-hop-off bus parked at a stop for a full 40 minutes. So it became the hop-off bus because if you wanted to go to the bathroom or do anything except sit there, you got off.

Now I’m not saying this was planned, but the location where the bus stopped just happened to be right in front of a pub. Like 15 feet from the door

Not just a pub, but a little hole-in-the-wall Irish pub, Madigans – the kind of place I’m just a sucker for. These places are either wonderful or terrible, with very little inbetween. I asked the tour guide where he might suggest something to do, close, for half an hour or so, and he suggested a bowl of soup in the pub.

Mnnnn, now that sounded good.

Ok, Ok, he really suggested soup and a Guinness.

Ok, well maybe he suggested he Guinness part and then muttered something about soup in a barely audible whisper at the end.

WhatEVER.

Did you know that soup in Ireland comes with soda bread? Well, actually, I think everything in Ireland comes with soda bread, from what I’ve seen.

I’m working my way up to Guinness. It’s pretty dark. So I started with a lager, Clonmel 1650. That’s good. I think I’m officially Irish now. My ancestors would be proud, even though I did ask for the smallest one possible.

And there is traditional Irish music on Thursday and Sunday evenings. Oh my. I’m not saying where I’ll be later in the week, but this is certainly a candidate.

Did I mention, that the Irish like to drink….a lot? Irish poet Brendan Breham described himself as a drinker with a writing problem. That’s about right, judging from what I saw today.

I don’t even know what to say.  No, it’s not Halloween here.

Need I say more?

So far, I’m feeling my Irish roots, but I’m not pedaling anything nor am I wearing a Viking horned hat, at least not yet. The week is still young though. No promises about tomorrow or the next day either.

The Week Ahead

What does this week hold, especially with Ophelia? I don’t know.

I do know one thing though, this trip cost far too much to not have fun…so I’m going to. Come hell or high water.  Ummm, maybe I shouldn’t have said that last part…

Someone suggested that if we can’t sightsee, we could pub crawl to get a look at the local flavor, of course. The Irish are extremely helpful like that. Seriously, they are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Perhaps because they are all mellow, or at least have that mellow gene.

Actually, that pub crawl sounds pretty interesting, especially it if includes traditional Irish music and Guinness. After all, Madigan’s pub is on the ground floor, it’s safe, safer than the 6th floor.  Yea…that’s it, all in the interest of safety. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

So, if you don’t hear from me for the rest of the week:

  • I’ve met Ophelia and she was a worthy opponent
  • I’ve fallen in love with Dublin and am busy looking for a house in the even poorer district, probably someplace in Donnybrook.
  • Ophelia was no big whoop and I’m back to sightseeing with Brian.  Who’s Brian, you ask?  Well, you’ll just have to wait to find out.
  • Make something up about what Roberta is doing.

Just thinking that option 4 might be by far the most interesting, and you guys might just have some good ideas too.

You know, I’m wondering if that howling that I’m hearing outside is ghosts, singing Irishmen who drank a bit too much, werewolves or Ophelia has come to call. It’s an unworldly sound, whatever it is.

On This Day – What Were Your Ancestors Doing? – 52 Ancestors #170

Facebook is always “helping” me recall memories with a feature called “On This Day.” I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn back time and see what all of our ancestors were doing “on this day” in a particular year.

Then, I’d like to compare what my ancestors were doing on that day with what I’m doing on that same day, 100 years later. So, in a sense, I did.

This was an amazing exercise, because I learned something new about almost every single ancestor. Furthermore, focusing on just one day and their lives on that day, considering surrounding circumstances and events provides a very different perspective of your ancestors’ lives.

Select a special day, like your birthday, or a day you’re doing something exciting and remarkable.

First, take your picture. Nothing special, just “you” in your normal surroundings.

I took this selfie photo on my birthday, at home in my labyrinth, the day I wrote the second third of this article.

I also finished the 6th quilt sent to Houston for hurricane Harvey relief. If my descendants are reading this in yet another hundred years, they will have to search for that reference on whatever “Google” is in 2117.

Furthermore, and to add a bit of intrigue – a few hours before I published this article, which is about 15 hours before I actually leave for Dublin.  I just discovered that Hurricane Ophelia is headed for…are you ready for this…Ireland.  What, you say, a hurricane in Ireland?  Well, I assure you, I thought the same thing.  However, there is a history of devastating storms in Ireland, recently Hurricane Charley in 1986 and Hurricane Debbie in 1961. My ancestors would probably have weathered similar storms in more ancient times as well. I didn’t exactly intend to share this experience with my ancestors, but one way or another, it will be an adventure. The difference being, of course, that they didn’t have an early warning system.

Ophelia is anticipated to make landfall in Ireland on Monday, October 16th.  So, either Ireland will be a mess next week and I’ll have an unexpected adventure…or…my descendants won’t even be able to find mention of Ophelia in historical documents.  There’s just no telling what the future will bring, nor what we can find looking backwards at historical events.

It’s ironic with the proliferation of selfies and easy photos today that I have no photo, at all, of one ancestor who was alive in 1917.

The Grasshopper Theory

It’s worth stating the obvious, that on any given day, every single line of your ancestors had someone alive, because if there was a break in that line, you wouldn’t be here today, and all of the circumstances that occurred in that lifetime to connect your ancestors together wouldn’t have happened.

I think this is the genealogist’s version of the butterfly wing theory where a small change to one thing changes everything.

We’ll call this the grasshopper theory, in honor of what Facebook showed me today for “on this day.” I had a good laugh. The good news about Facebook is that the combination of easy access to cameras in phones today combined with social media, the routine and un-exceptional has become the norm. Nobody takes only “good” pictures anymore, only on special occasions. We take picture everyday, of the everyday occurrences in our lives.  As genealogists, these are the tidbits we long for about our ancestors lives, but are, of course, maddeningly elusive.

I guess the good news and the bad news is that no one in our ancestor’s time recorded anything as mundane as grasshoppers on a mum creating grasshopper descendants.

No one was taking pictures of our ancestor’s cat on quilt pieces, or their flowers, or even them. Oh, how I wish they had, because I’d love to have a direct bird’s eye view into what they loved, what their garden looked like, or even their cat or dog.

I would love to walk in my great-grandmother’s flower garden, or see the quilt she was working on.

I want to know about their everyday existence, in addition to defining moments like birth, marriage and death. I want to know about that elusive dash in-between, in as close to the first person as possible.

Will Facebook be the goldmine of genealogists a hundred or two hundred years from now?

However, since I can’t do any of those things, let’s see what I can do about doing an ancestral version of “On This Day.”

I selected 100 years ago on October 20th, about a month into the future from when I’m doing the actual researching. It just so happens that I’ll be doing something quite interesting myself on that day, speaking at Genetic Genealogy Ireland, in Dublin, not far from where some of my ancestors lived. I find that prospect quite exciting, so let’s see what my ancestors were doing on that day, October 20, 1917, 100 years ago.

Step 1 – Who Was Alive

The first step is to determine which of my ancestors were alive in 1917. There shouldn’t be too many, as it’s really not that terribly long ago.

A quick look at your pedigree chart in your genealogy software should help a lot.

My father was a couple decades older than my mother, so while my mother wasn’t born yet, my father was about 14, or 15, or maybe 16. His birth year was uncertain and somewhat pliable since he bent it to whatever he needed it to be at the moment.

His parents and all 4 of his grandparents were living on October 20, 1917. That’s a total of 7 of my ancestors on just my father’s side that were alive at one time. More than I expected.

On my mother’s side, she was just a twinkle in my grandpa’s eye. Her parents were obviously alive, and 3 of her 4 grandparents, plus one of her great-grandparents. That’s 6 on my mom’s side.

So, one by one, let’s see what we know about them and what they were doing on October 20, 1917.

Step 2 – World Events

What was going on in the world on October 20, 1917? How might these things be influencing the lives of my ancestors where they were living?

Let’s turn to newspapers.com and take a look.

America was at War, WWI, the war to end all wars, which didn’t, of course. That Saturday morning the headlines across the nation carried bad news.

Those ancestors who were in a location where newspapers were available assuredly knew about this. Radio broadcasting didn’t begin until after the war, in 1920, so otherwise, word would have traveled slowly.

In 1917, most homes didn’t have electricity. It wasn’t until 1925 that half the homes in the US had electricity, and those would have been in metropolitan areas. My ancestors, except one, all lived rurally.

My mother remembered her home without electricity when she was a child in Northern Indiana in the 1920s, but the nearby train depot had electricity in order to transmit morse code signals.

My ancestors in Appalachia wouldn’t have electricity until the 1950s, but even then few had phones – less than 25% in general and where my ancestors lived, a LOT less than 25%.

While people in big cities might have heard news on the day it happened, or within a day or two, people who lived more remotely probably only heard the really big stories, and then not until days after they happened. That’s almost incomprehensible today.

So while the Russian Revolution took place overseas, few in the US probably heard about it, and no one in Appalachia knew or cared.

Nor did they know or care that 10 Suffragettes picketed the white house in August in order to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to enable women to vote. Attacked by mobs, while police refused to intervene, the women were jailed. My ancestors, if they knew about this at all, probably viewed those women as rabble-rousers deserving of what they got when they petitioned for political prisoner status in October and were confined to solitary. Those brave women endured both torture and terror. It would be three long years before the battle for women’s right to vote was won, an event that would affect all women, everyplace in the US, but that three of my ancestors living in 1917 wouldn’t live to see.

As reported on October 20, 1917 by Washington (DC) Post.

But my ancestor who I would have thought the LEAST likely to take a stand…did!

Step 3 – On This Day

On this day, in 2017, I’ll be speaking in Ireland about genetic genealogy which helped me locate my McDowell line.  A couple days later, I’ll also be visiting the location where people who match my ancestor on paternal DNA lived a hundred years or so after my ancestor left for America.  A tiny crossroads area northwest of Dublin.  Not too many people moved TO that area, so it’s likely my ancestor lived there too.

On this day, October 20, 1917, as best I can determine, this is what my ancestors alive at that time were doing. I’ve tried to locate a photo for each person as well, as close to that time as I can find.

My Father

Name: William Sterling Estes

Birth Date: October 1, 1901, or 1902, or 1903, take your pick. He did, and added several more years too, as they suited him.

Age: 14, 15, or 16

Occupation: Army, private – he “fudged” his age to enlist and serve his country.

Location: On August 24, 1917, my father was transferred from Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis, Indiana to Camp Custer at Battle Creek, Michigan.

Camp Custer was built in 1917, so this was a brand spanking new facility and where he would serve most of his Army career.

Love Life: My father was probably dating a young gal, Virgie Houtz, whom he would marry, decades later. Virgie lived in Dunkirk, Indiana. I suspect that after he left Fort Benjamin Harrison in central Indiana for Michigan that their romance cooled with distance. They both married others until he found her again and they married, in 1961, 43 years later.

Living Children: None yet, that I know of anyway

Deceased Children: None

Did you know this person? Yes, much later of course. He died when I was a child. this is the only photo I have of us together.

Local Events:

Neither Battle Creek nor Kalamazoo’s newspapers are online yet, but the Lansing State Journal headline for October 20th is shown below. Lansing is relatively close to Battle Creek.

Liberty Bonds are how the war was financed and subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty. On October 1, 1917 Second Liberty Loan offered $3.8 billion in bonds at 3% interest, redeemable after 10 years. R. E. Olds was synonymous with Oldsmobile.

Camp Custer was mentioned in the Wakefield (Michigan) News:

The Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Press carried Camp Custer Notes too.

It appears that a contest was taking place among the soldiers for who could buy the most Liberty bonds to support the war.

Oh, and two days later, on Monday and Tuesday, a dedication ceremony for Camp Custer was to take place, so you know that my Dad was getting his dress uniform spiffed up for what was certainly a dressy affair with lots of dignitaries in attendance.

What Was Affecting His Life?

Newspapers are so interesting. We discover sewer plants under construction at Camp Custer and that soldiers are not supposed to visit Jackson, because there are, gasp, saloons there. And oh, umbrellas were not used at Camp Custer, considered too un-military. A war bond contest was underway, and Camp Custer was to be dedicated in just two days – so everyone was busy putting everything in perfect order.

As a young man, much younger than his official enlisted age, at some level he had to be somewhat frightened. Not only was he only 14 or 15, he had been abandoned by his parents and was now in jeopardy of being a child sent to fight in a man’s war. The only saving grace may have been that his brother Joe enlisted too, but it’s unknown if they were stationed in the same location.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-BY490, obtained through his first cousin. This tells us that my father’s direct paternal ancestors were European and probably Celtic.

mtDNA Haplogroup – H, obtained when only the HVR1 level was offered. I hope that someone from his matrilineal line tests eventually. This tells us that his ancestor was European, but we need a further test to learn more.

My Father’s Father’s

Name: William George Estes

Birth Date: March 30, 1873

Age: 44

Occupation: Farmer, maybe bootlegger

Location: Claiborne County, Tennessee

Living Children: 5

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, I never met him although he lived until I was in my teens.

Local Events:

The Claiborne Progress Newspaper was publishing in 1917, but those editions, if they exist, are not yet available. However, a scrapbook was found years ago having been contributed to the local library. I scanned the articles, mostly undated, and subsequently transcribed them, finding many interesting tidbits.

Electricity was not yet available in this part of the country. Travel was still by horse and something, usually a horse and wagon. Automobiles began to be mass produced in 1908. Some people did have cars. The newspaper in 1914 told us that cars traversed the Knoxville Pike, but I doubt that many in Claiborne County owned vehicles, and certainly not poor farmers.

In 1917, Tazewell had recently built a new train depot, and in doing so, several men stepped on nails, one of them subsequently passing away, probably from lockjaw or blood poisoning. Antibiotics and vaccines were still in the future.

What Was Affecting His Life?

William George, known as Will, having moved to Indiana sometime after the 1910 census as a tenant farmer had moved back to Claiborne County, Tennessee by 1917 and was establishing a life with a second wife, the cousin of his first wife with whom his first wife had caught him cheating. Yes, this is the stuff of soap operas.

In October 1917, Joice or Joicy Hatfield Estes was pregnant with her first child who would be born in March of 1918. So, in October of 1917, William George had a 24 year old wife, 20 years his junior, who was 4 months pregnant. He was probably pretty proud of himself.

His oldest son, Estel, had been married for 3 years, and William George had a 2 year, 4 month old grandson who would be older than Will’s new daughter that would be born the following March.

William George’s two other sons, William Sterling and Joseph “Dode” were enlisted in the Army to fight WWI. His eldest daughter, Margaret was 11 and living in Chicago with Ollie, his x-wife and his youngest daughter, Minnie, age 9, may have been living with a doctor in Rose Hill, Virginia, as a “servant” to care for the doctor’s ailing wife. I’m guessing that William George’s x-wife and daughters were mad as wet hens, at him, but I’m also guessing that William George didn’t much care. He had moved on.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-BY490, tells us that he connects with the other Estes men from Kent, England.

mtDNA Haplogroup – J1c2c, obtained through his sister’s grandson tells us that his mother was European, not Native American as had been rumored. The matches indicate that her ancestors were probably from the British Isles.

My Father’s Mother

Name: Ollie Bolton

Ollie, at left, with her daughter, Margaret in 1918 in Franklin Park, Illinois.  There was some discussion about whether this photo was actually Ollie or her mother, but since Margaret originally identified the photo, it makes sense that it’s Ollie.  However, I have never been entirely convinced.

The nose seems to be shaped entirely differently from other photos of Ollie.

Birth Date: May 5, 1874

Death Date: 43

Occupation: Divorced, unknown

Location: Probably Franklin Park, Illinois

Living Children: 5

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, she died 5 months before I was born. My mother cared for her when she was pregnant for me. So, indirectly, I was at her funeral.

Local Events:

Ollie had to have been thinking about her two sons who had enlisted in the military. The war was escalating. Would either or both of them see active duty? Would they survive?

What Was Affecting Her Life?

We know so little about Ollie after she left Indiana. What we do know is gathered in snippets and pieces.

I don’t have any idea how she supported herself and the girls, or at least Margaret. Minnie says she was sent to live with a doctor and his wife in Rose Hill, Virginia to help him take care of his invalid wife. Margaret lived with her mother in Chicago.

We have a photo of Margaret and her mother labeled Franklin Park, Illinois and dated 1918. I wish I had thought to ask Margaret what kind of work her mother did, and when, exactly, they had moved to Chicago.

There are also reports of a child named Elsie or Elsia, born with downs syndrome and who subsequently passed away. I can find no record of Elsia’s birth or death, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. If Elsia did exist, she would have been the last child born in Indiana before Ollie and Bill split, or, maybe Elsia arrived after the split. Regardless, based on what Aunt Margaret said, Elsia died in Chicago. Ollie would have been dealing with supporting herself and at least Margaret, if not Margaret and Elsia, in Chicago, alone, with no husband. A very tall order for a woman with very little education in that time and place.

Ollie’s family, including her oldest son and 2 year old grandchild lived in Claiborne County, Tennessee.

Did Ollie know that her brother, Samuel Bolton, had enlisted in the service too, just the month before? Was she able to see him one last time before he left for Europe? I hope so, because unless they shipped his body home for burial in 1918, she would never see him again.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Unfortunately, we only have Ollie’s base haplogroup, H. I would love to test someone who descends through all women from Ollie’s sisters or direct line of female ancestors in order to obtain additional information. Half of the women in Europe belonged to haplogroup H, so additional information would be very beneficial by providing hints as to where her ancestors were from.

My Father’s Paternal Grandfather

Name: Lazarus Estes

Birth Date: May 1848

Age: 69

Occupation: Farmer, huckster (peddler)

Location: Estes Holler, Claiborne County, Tennessee

The house had been near the two small trees in the foreground.

Living Children: 4

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, he died almost 40 years before I was born.

Local Events:

The war was preying on everyone’s minds.

What Was Affecting Their Lives?

Lazarus was aging and probably ill. I believe he carved his own headstone before his death, at least his name. It matches the other headstones that he carved for his children and grandchildren. Lazarus would pass away the following summer, just three months before his wife.

Lazarus lived at the end of Estes Holler, the patriarch, who cared for his aged mother, buried her, carved her stone and many thereafter. When his son, William George Estes’s cabin burned and their son along with it, it was Lazarus who buried the child. It was also Lazarus who took in his two grandsons, William Sterling and Joe Dode when they jumped freight trains back to Tennessee to find their grandparents when their parents were divorcing in Indiana. The family story says that neither parent wanted the boys and they arrived in Tennessee filthy and very hungry.

It was Lazarus who “ran William George out of Estes Holler for doing Ollie wrong” when he returned with his new young wife, his x-wife’s cousin, after abandoning the boys.

In 1920, William George was living in Claiborne County, but not in Estes Holler from the looks of the census. According to the family story, Lazarus told William George he would kill him if he came back, after abandoning his two sons – those boys just 10 and 12 who hopped a freight train to find their way home to their grandfather. Lazarus seemed to be a good man, always taking care of others.

In October of 1917, Lazarus was probably wondering what to do about his land when he died. His own mortality had to be weighing heavy on his mind. He would have been watching his ailing wife and knew that some of his children weren’t as stable and trustworthy as others. Sometime over the winter, Lazarus decided to deed his land to his daughter and neighbor, Cornie Epperson and her husband, but with instructions to pay the rest of his heirs cash.

Lazarus had a cow and a horse, because he reserved the right to pasture them on half an acre until his death.

On October 20th, Lazarus might have been watching the leaves change color and wondering if he would see them again. He woundn’t. Perhaps he walked to little graveyard behind his house or the one down the road behind the church to visit with the rest of his family who he would see again soon.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-BY490, obtained through his grandson not yet born at that time. The Big Y test that provided this haplogroup provided evidence that it’s unlikely that the Estes family descended from the d’Este family of Italy.

mtDNA Haplogroup – We don’t yet have Lazarus’s mtDNA haplogroup that he would have inherited from his mother’s direct matrilineal line. I have a scholarship for the first person descended from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male:

  • Lazarus’ mother, Rutha Dodson married John Y. Estes
  • Her mother, Elizabeth Campbell married Lazarus Dodson
  • Her mother, Jane “Jenny” Dobkins (born c 1780-1850/60) married John Campbell
  • Her mother, Dorcas Johnson (born c 1748-1831) married Jacob Dobkins (1751-1833)
  • Her mother Mary “Polly” Phillips (born c 1739) married Peter Johnson (born c 1715-1790)

 My Father’s Paternal Grandmother

Name: Elizabeth Vannoy, pictured above, with Lazarus

Birth Date: June 23, 1847

Age: 70

Occupation: Farm wife

Location: Estes Holler, Claiborne County, Tennessee

Lazarus’ and Elizabeth’s land.

Living Children: 4

Deceased Children: 6

Did you know this person? No, she died almost 40 years before I was born.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

Elizabeth and Lazarus were both aging. Both had lived through the Civil War and now the country was embroiled in yet another war. Both were assuredly worried about what would follow, if we would see war on our own soil, and how that would affect their children and grandchildren.

Elizabeth probably seldom saw her 5 grandchildren by her daughter Martha who died in 1911. Their father remarried and moved to Union County, TN.

Her son, William George Estes seemed to be the “wild child” of the bunch. He had moved to Arkansas and back. His cabin burned just a few yards from Elizabeth’s house, killing their young son in 1907. Sometime after the 1910 census, William George and family would move to Indiana, where his wife divorced him. From there, he moved back to Tennessee again, but his children from his first marriage dispersed to the winds. Two of those children were serving in WWI.

Only one of Elizabeth’s grandchildren through William George lived in Claiborne County. I hope that Estel visited Lazarus and Elizabeth and shared the joy of their baby boy, born in 1915.

Elizabeth’s daughter, Cornie lived right across the road and Elizabeth would have been close to Cornie’s 9 children. Cornie’s last child was born on June 4th, so Elizabeth would have been helping Cornie with the new baby.

Son Columbus, or “Lum,” had 4 children, but one of them died at birth in 1914 and was buried down the road by the church in the family area of the Pleasant View Cemetery. HIs daughter Mollie had just been born on August 9th.

Son Charlie and his wife had moved up to Hancock County, near the county line with Lee County. They had 4 children, with the most recent addition being added on June 8th. However, Elizabeth was probably quite worried about this baby, who wasn’t doing well. Three days after Christmas in 1917, that baby would be buried too.

A year and 5 days later, after Elizabeth buried Lazarus in July of 1918, she would join him.

mtDNA Haplogroup – J1c2c, obtained from her great-grandchild through Cornie, tells us that she was European. Her mother has been rumored to have been Cherokee Indian. Her mitochondrial DNA proves that at least her direct matrilineal line was not Native.

My Father’s Maternal Grandfather

Name: Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton

Joseph, pictured at left about 1913 or 1914 with son Dudley and granddaughter Elizabeth.

Birth Date: September 18, 1853

Age: 64

Occupation: Farmer

Location: Sedalia, Hancock County, Tennessee

Living Children: 9 or 10

Deceased Children: 2

Did you know this person? No, he died in 1920.

What Was Affecting His Life?

Joseph’s son, Samuel Bolton had just enlisted in the military to serve his county in WWI. Recruiting had been heavy in East Tennessee, appealing to the patriotism that runs deep in this part of the county. I don’t know if Dode, as he was called, tried to talk his son out of joining, but it didn’t matter, Sammy joined and by October 20th, would have been receiving training in Camp Sevier, SC. Sammy might have thought that was fun, and maybe Dode wasn’t terribly worried yet, but that time would come.

Sammy shipped out for Europe on a transport vessel in May 1918 and was killed in France on October 8, 1918.

Joseph’s son Estel Vernon Bolton, born in 1890, was serving as well. After the war, he would come home and live with his parents to help his aging parents.

Samuel and Estel were the youngest living children. The true baby, Henry, had already died.

Joseph’s daughter Ollie wasn’t doing terribly well either. She had married William George Estes, getting divorced in Indiana about 1915 and then moving to Chicago. Her two sons were in the military too. That’s 4 serving in the military for Dode to worry about.

Daughter Mary Lee who married Tip Sumpter had moved to Illinois and daughter Ida had moved to Kentucky, but that wasn’t terribly far.

Dalsey lived up the road in Jonesville, just across the border into Virginia, but son Charles had moved to Arkansas.

Joseph probably sorely missed the help from both Samuel and Estel on the farm. He had lost both of his helpers as they went to answer their patriotic calling. Only one would return.

Y Line Haplogroup – R-FGC62079, provided by Joseph’s brother’s great-great-grandson tells us that he descends from the very large haplogroup R in Europe. His deep ancestry as revealed by the Big Y test suggests that Joseph’s ancestors were from the British Isles and probably from western Europe before that.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Joseph would have received his mitochondrial DNA from his mother. Mother’s give their mtDNA to all of their children, but only women pass it on. I will provide a DNA testing scholarship for the first person who descends from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male.

Note: It’s the McDowell line that I’ve gone to Ireland to visit, right after my presentation in Dublin. Mary McDowell was the daughter of Michael McDowell, the son of Michael McDowell, the son of Murtough McDowell, who immigrated from Ireland and was living in Baltimore, Maryland by 1720. The Y DNA of Michael McDowell’s descendant matches that of the McDowell line from Northern Ireland, where I’ll be visiting in a few days.

My Father’s Maternal Grandmother

Name: Margaret Claxton

Surely a photo exists someplace of Margaret Claxton or Clarkson, given that she didn’t pass away until March 11, 1920. If someone has a photo of Margaret, I would surely appreciate a copy.

Birth Date: July 28, 1851

Age: 66

Occupation: Farmer’s wife

Location: Sedalia, Hancock County, Tennessee

Living Children: 9 or 10

Deceased Children: 2

Did you know this person? No, she died in 1920.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

You’d think with 9 or 10 living children that Margaret would have had a lot of grandchildren in and out of the house. Of Her children, Ollie was living in Chicago and Mary Lee was in Illinois too. Charles was in Arkansas. Elizabeth was in Ohio with her 9 children. Samuel and Estel were both unmarried and in the military.

That only left Dudley living in Hancock County, with 4 children. Dalsey lived in Lee County, Virginia, not terribly far with 6 children at that time, the newest child being born on December 16, 1916. Margaret probably enjoyed this new grandchild. I hope she got to see her grandchildren often.

Ida lived over the border in Kentucky, so Margaret probably didn’t get to see her often. Ida had no children, which may have been a heartache for both women.

Ollie’s son, Estel had married and lived in Claiborne County. He had a child that was just over 2 years old who I believe was Margaret’s first great-grandchild. Hopefully Margaret got to see this child from time to time as well.

Margaret surely worried about her two sons serving in uniform, and with good reason. Samuel may have gotten to visit while on leave the following May before shipping out for overseas, but after that, she would never seem him again on this side of death.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Margaret’s haplogroup is H, but we were unable to get a more refined answer. We need another person to test. Anyone who descends through any of Margaret’s daughters through all females to the current generation, which can be male, carries her mtDNA and is eligible to test. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone who descends from her daughters as described above, or from any of the women below through all females as well.

My Mother’s Father

Name: John Whitney Ferverda

Birth Date: December 26, 1882

Age: 34, 35 in December

Occupation: Retail hardware store owner and implement merchant, according to his WWI draft registration

Location: Silver Lake, Kosciusko County, Indiana, beside the train depot.

The house, above, today where my mother was raised.  It’s behind my mother, in the photo below.

The hardware store, pictured below with John Ferverda in front, was a couple blocks from the house, near the crossroads in the center of town.

Living Children: 1

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? Yes, he died in 1960. I remember him eating peanuts and sitting in his chair.

Local Events:

The newspaper in Fort Wayne reported that the first hard blow of the war had been incurred. The President appointed a day or prayer.

While my ancestors in Tennessee probably knew nothing about this, the people a few miles west of Fort Wayne surely did.

John Ferverda would assuredly have known, and probably before the newspapers arrived. John had been the railroad station master and sent and received Morse Code messages. John’s brother still worked for the railroad, living across the street from both John and the depot. John and Roscoe were probably the first people in Silver Lake, or Kosciusko County, to know of breaking news. Want to be in the know? Be friends with John Ferverda.

What Was Affecting His Life?

On January 8, 1916 the newspaper in Rushville, Indiana had the following tidbit.

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. Mr. Ferverda married Miss Edith Lore of this city.

This is the only way that we knew when John bought the hardware store. Sadly, John would lose the store in 1922, selling out. He was too kind-hearted and granted too much credit that could never be repaid.

But in 1917, John would have been excited to build his new business.

In May, John’s youngest brother had graduated in the first commencement from Leesburg High School. Three of John’s brothers were serving in the military, very unusual for a Brethren family.

Y Line Haplogroup – John’s Y DNA haplogroup is I-Y210, European, consistent with John’s paternal lineage from the Netherlands.

mtDNA Haplogroup – We don’t have a sample of the mitochondrial DNA of John’s mother, Evaline Louise Miller. I have a DNA testing scholarship for the first person descended from any of the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male.

  • John’s mother, Evaline Louise Miller married Hiram Ferverda
  • Her mother, Margaret Elizabeth Lentz married John David Miller
  • Her mother, Fredericka Reuhle married Jacob Lentz
  • Dorothea Katharina Wolflin born 1755 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany, married Johann Adam Reuhle born 1764 same location.
  • Dorothea Heuback born 1729 in Endersbach, Wuertemberg, Germany and married Johann Ludwig Wolfin born 1732 in Asperg, Wuertemberg, Germany and died in 1805 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany

My Mother’s Mother

Name: Edith Barbara Lore

Edith with her husband, John Ferverda, probably about 1918.

Birth Date: August 2, 1888

Age: 29

Occupation: Not working outside the home, mother

Location: Silver Lake, Kosciusko County, Indiana

Living Children: 1

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? Yes, I remember her dress, apron and black ankle high shoes as she rushed to hug me when we arrived. That’s me on her lap.

Local Events:

In October 1917, Edith’s only child, a son, was just a month shy of 2 years old. Edith had visited her mother in August who had recently moved from Rushville, Indiana to Wabash. Edith’s father had died in 1909 and her mother had remarried in 1916. Edith had a new step-father who wasn’t terribly well liked, by anyone.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

Edith’s grandfather, Jacob Kirsch, had passed away in May in Aurora. Her family was in flux. Her husband’s brothers were serving in the military, and while her husband, John, wasn’t, she was still the out of favor “non-Brethren” wife who was responsible for him marrying outside the faith.

The war brought rationing. In the Fort Wayne newspaper on this day, an article reveals that “a sugar famine is now upon the country and that the moment of America’s first self-denial has arrived.”

mtDNA Haplogroup – J1c2f, confirming a European origin of Edith’s German matrilineal line.

My Mother’s Paternal Grandfather

Name: Hiram Bauke Ferverda

Hiram, pictured above with all of his children. His wife, Evaline Louise Miller beside him, and John Ferverda second from right, last row. This photo was taken during WWI at the old home place near Leesburg, Kosciusko County. In the window behind the group is the banner, partially obscured, indicating that the family had 3 sons serving.

Birth Date: September 21, 1854

Age: 63

Occupation: Banker, farmer and street inspector

Location: Leesburg, Kosciusko County, Indiana

Living Children: 11

Deceased Children: 0, which is pretty amazing

Did you know this person? No, he died 30 years before I was born.

Local Events:

Witten in 1919 in the “History of Kosciusko County:”

The family are members of the Church of the Brethren and Mr. Ferverda is a republican. He was at one time captain of the local Horse Thief Detective Association, and in now an inspector of the streets of Leesburg.

Well, ahem. The Horse Thief Detective Association was a local detective and law enforcement group of vigilantes formed about 1840. During this time in Indiana, near Wingate, horse stealing had become so rampant that folks had to completely give up the idea of farming. Arrests were nigh on nonexistant, so the men banded together to not only discover who was stealing the horses, but to apprehend them and put an end to it. They did, becoming relatively well respected, and also becoming investigators, police officers, judge, jury and executioner all in one – sometimes all in the same night or raid. Later in the early 1900s, they became heavily associated with the KKK and in the early 1920s, this group met its demise with the downfall of one of their leaders who was convicted of the murder of a woman. They primarily operated throughout Indiana, but also to some extent in surrounding states.

This is something I could have spent my entire life not knowing. So, how, I wonder did Hiram reconcile the Horse Thief Detective Association with his Brethren belief of non-violence? Let’s hope that “at one time” means that he was no longer associated with this group.

What Was Affecting His Life?

The war had to be weighing heavy on Hiram’s mind, as three of his sons were serving. All three came home.

It’s surprising that the Brethren church did not discharge Hiram given that his sons served in the military and Hiram clearly had to have taken an oath to be a public official, along with other highly un-Brethren activities.

Y Line Haplogroup – I-Y2170 – a haplogroup discovered during Big Y testing. This confirmed the Ferverda is European, and his closest matches are from Germany and Russia with Big Y matches also from Scandinavia. The Ferverda DNA and ancestors have been in that region for a very long time.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Hiram’s mother died in Holland, and her mtDNA line has not yet been tested. I have a DNA testing scholarship for the first person to step forward who descends from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be male:

  • Hiram’s mother, Geertje Jarmens de Jong born March 22, 1829 in Baard, the Netherlands, died October 3, 1860 in Terjerksteradeel, the Netherlands, married Bauke Hendrick Ferverda (Ferwerda) on May 14, 1853 in Baarderadeel, the Netherlands.
  • Her mother, Angenietje Wijtses Houtsma born August 12, 1802 in Leeuwarderadeel, the Netherlands, died after July 17, 1866 and married on May 22, 1824 in Baarderadeel, the Netherlands to Harmen Gerrits de Jong.
  • Her mother Lolkjen Ales Noordhof married Wijzse Douwes Houstma (1783-1825 Boxum, Friesland, the Netherlands.

My Mother’s Paternal Grandmother

Name: Evaline Louise Miller

Birth Date: March 29, 1857

Age: 60

Occupation: farm wife

Location: Leesburg, Kosciusko County, Indiana

Living Children: 11

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? No, but she cared for my mother when she was sick as a child.

Local Events:

The war. How could she not think of the war everyday with 3 sons serving?

What Was Affecting Her Life?

The decisions affecting Brethren families had to have been tearing at the fabric of both family and churches.

This 7 page undated letter or article, written by Eva, with page 6 missing, tells us so much about how she thought. I suspect this was written about this time because of the refences to women’s education, rights and the focus on temperance which resulted in Prohibition beginning in 1919. Temperance is the issue that made the Brethren, as a whole, decide they needed to participate in government by voting, beginning in about 1912. Prior to that, the Brethren refused to participate in any form of government unless it was required for them to fulfill the Brethren mission in the world, which included voting and holding office.

Some Things Our Women Are Doing

Women in the olden times were in the main appendages of men. They were servants in some capacity and were not supposed to need any special intellectual training.

The women of olden times were not educated in the school as they are now. But now in our time, her real worth is more properly estimated and her education is held of equal importance with man. Education is power, and when rightly used, sharpens the mind, it kindles ambition and awakens self respict (sic). The intelligence of women is rapidly increasing. Women are graduating from our colleges, with equal honors with men. This enlarged intelligence of women should vastly increase the intelligence of our homes. Ignorance in the home never will promote its welfare. Ignorance in the mother is never any benefit to her children. Ignorance never made a womans work of any better quality. Ignorance in the women of a neighborhood never promoted the better interests of the neighborhood, the church, or Aid So. (Aid society). It does promote gossip, scandal, backbiting, jealousy, folly, coarseness, low life. Ignorance is on a level with these things and is the mother of them all. But woman’s day has come and with renewed womanhood, and Christian intelligence, are forefeared to do a good work wherever their lot shall be, in the home, the church, the S.S. or Aid.

We have noted women of old history who had great influence in private and public life, Miriam, sister of Moses aiding much in the deliverance of her people. Deborah who ruled and judged Israel. Hannah noted for her trust in the Lord, being the mother of Samuel.

In the time of Christ and the apostles, there were many noted women, zealous in their devotion to the new religion. The religion which opened new encouragements and hopes to women. The religion which placed women on and equivalent to men such as Paul in Romans 16th speaks of some good women in his day. He commends Phebe our sister who is a servant of the church. Also Priscilla wife of Aquila and Tryphena wife of Tryfanosa who labored much in the church. We have the Marys of Dorcar and we might name many more noted women.

Women can do great things. Think once of the crusaders, some women of our time. That awakening of moral conviction and spiritual power such as perhaps has both been known since the early days of Christianity. They came on bended knee and tearful eyes and prayed for all the guilty offenders, that they might repent and be forgiven. They lifted the cause to the throne of God and hold it there still. They made it his cause. They joined in with his church. This took the cause of temperance up to the summit level of practical Christian life, and made it what it all along should have been a high, holy, divine cause. All this some of our good Christian women have done and through their efforts we shall soon have worldwide temperance. What other women have done we can do and our women of today are doing things.

Our Sister Aid Society is doing great work. We have about 16,000 women engaged in the various activities of the Aid Society (page 6 missing).

The Lord gives us health so we can surely give one day every two weeks for this good work and we know we shall be blessed for every good deed we do. It is the little deeds we do which count for so much for a cup of cold water given in his name we shall be blessed. (rest missing)

mtDNA Haplogroup – We don’t have her son’s mitochondrial DNA haplogroup, which means we don’t have hers either, since her son inherited his mitochondrial DNA from Evaline.  Anyone descended directly from her through all females can test, as well as anyone descended from the following women through all females to the current generation, which can be males.

  • Evaline’s mother, Margaret Elizabeth Lentz married John David Miller
  • Her mother, Fredericka Reuhle married Jacob Lentz
  • Dorothea Katharina Wolflin born 1755 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany, married Johann Adam Reuhle born 1764 same location.
  • Dorothea Heuback born 1729 in Endersbach, Wuertemberg, Germany and married Johann Ludwig Wolfin born 1732 in Asperg, Wuertemberg, Germany and died in 1805 in Beutelsbach, Wuertemberg, Germany

 My Mother’s Maternal Grandmother

Name: Ellenora “Nora” Kirsch

Yep, that’s Nora, with her daughters Eloise, Mildred, then Nora and Edith. Who would ever have guessed!

Birth Date: December 24, 1866

Age: 50, 51 on Christmas Eve

Occupation: Probably Housewife

Location: Wabash, Indiana

Living Children: 3

Deceased Children: 1

Did you know this person? No, but I would have liked to.

Local Events:

Huntington, Indiana wasn’t far from Wabash. The headlines everyplace included the new about the transport ship being torpedoed.

Having lived in Rushville her entire adult life, she may have also subscribed to the Rushville paper, if they had a service allowing the paper to be mailed distantly.

Nora must have worried because her family in Aurora still spoke German.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

Nora’s life had changed incredibly in the past few months and years. Her first husband died of tuberculosis in 1909, followed by her daughter of the same disease in 1912. On October 28, 1916, she married Thomas McCormick and moved from Rushville to Wabash, Indiana shortly thereafter. In Rushville, she worked for a department store, then opened her own sewing, clothing construction and alternation business. Moving to Wabash would have changed everything.

Her first wedding anniversary was just a week away. Was she preparing a celebration? Was she already having regrets and second thoughts. She stayed with McCormick for years, never officially divorcing. He eventually left and she was much happier.

My mother remembers visiting Nora in Wabash where she always had a quilt frame hung with pully’s from the ceiling, so it could be raised and lowered.

I don’t know which quilt she was working on that that time, but I can assure you that she was working on some quilt. Quilters quilt for beauty, quilters quilt for hope, quilters quilt to help and quilters quilt when they need to work through something or don’t know what else to do.

We know for sure that she quilted from the 1880s through the 1930s. Her quilts, below, are hung at left and right, and my mother’s afghan inspired by Nora’s quilts is displayed in the center.

We also know that Nora gardened, from this photo from about the same time. I wonder if her gardens inspired the Climbing Vine and the Picket Fence quilts, above.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Nora’s haplogroup, J1c2f, the same one I carry today. Known as Jasmine, tracking haplogroup J has provided insight into ancestors that we can never reach through traditional genealogy.

My Mother’s Maternal Great-Grandmother

Name: Barbara Drechsel

My great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch, at left, her sister Mildred holding her first child born in 1922, then my great-great-grandmother Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, at right. A beautiful 4 generation photo. It’s amazing how happy Barbara looks considering the amount of tragedy she had endured in the past decade or so.

Birth Date: October 8, 1848

Age: 69

Occupation: Innkeeper, Proprietor

Location: Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana

Kirsch house to the right, the depot at left, above. This probably looks much the way it did when Barbara lived there.

The bar that was in the building in the 1980s when Mom, my daughter and I visited was the original.

Living Children: 6

Deceased Children: 0

Did you know this person? No, but she was amazing. I like to think I have her spunk and gumption.

Local Events:

Floods, always floods. Aurora, Indiana sat on the bend of the Ohio River and flooded regularly. In the winter of 1917/1918, the Ohio flooded dramatically, causing ice dams to break which flooded Aurora. According to the newspaper, the properties looked like “scrambled eggs.” In the basement of the Kirsch House, you could still see the stains from the flood waters, decades later.

While the Kirsch House sat relatively high, on the North side of town, several blocks from the river, they were still badly flooded at least every few years. The train tracks were on even higher ground.

What Was Affecting Her Life?

I don’t know if Barbara was grief-stricken or relieved, or maybe some of each. Her husband, Jacob Kirsch, had died of cancer of the stomach on July 23rd. She had been taking care of a terminally ill husband for months, as well as running the Kirsch House, a combination hotel, pub and restaurant.

Barbara’s daughter, Carrie was ill with syphilis that would claim her life a few years later. Carrie had contracted that then-fatal disease from her wealth river-boat gambler husband who had already died a decade earlier.

Barbara’s daughter, Lou, worked with her mother after Lou’s husband had committed suicide in the garden behind the Kirsch House on Halloween night 1910. Barbara probably depended on Lou to help with the Kirsch House and with caring for Jacob when he was ill as well.

Barbara’s daughter Ida was in her 20s and hadn’t yet married. Ida also worked at the Kirsch House with her mother. After Ida and Lou both married in 1920 and 1921, Barbara would sell the Kirsch House and live with her daughter, Nora.

Nora had buried a husband and daughter in the past few years, had built her own retail and service business and then remarried in late 1916 to a man that was not liked by the family. Nora moved further away, to Wabash, Indiana. Barbara was very close to Nora’s daughters, her granddaughters, and they came to stay with Nora at the Kirsch House often.

Barbara’s sons Martin and Edward, in their late 40s, so too old to serve in the military, didn’t live close by, but she probably saw then occasionally since the Kirsch House was beside the depot and southern Indiana was well connected by rail. Her grandson, Edgard Kirsch registered for the draft and claimed an exemption for his father and mother who he claimed were dependents.

The Cincinnati newspaper carried headlines about the war. Barbara was born in Germany and the family spoke German. Certainly Barbara still had family in Germany, and may have written back and forth. She may have had aunts, uncles and first cousins still living.

We do know that the Kirsch family spoke German until this time, when they stopped and spoke only English, so that their loyalty would not be questioned. The war had to be on Barbara’s mind, both from the perspective of an American and also as a person with German relatives.

mtDNA Haplogroup – Barbara’s haplogroup descended to me through her female descendants. As more matches have accrued over the years, the amazing Scandinavian story of this haplogroup, found in Barbara’s mother in Germany about 1800 is emerging.

Your Turn

It’s your turn now to select a day, take your picture, and document what your ancestors were doing on that day?  What day will you select, and why?