John McCain: Maverick

The last time I cried when a politician died was, well, never.

I feel for Senator McCain’s family of course, but my true grief is for the American people who so sorely need his leadership now…as he has slipped away from us.

Today, in Berlin, I stood in front of the American embassy and saw our flag, my flag, the flag John fought for, served for and nearly died for, at half staff as his body lie in state in Washington. Being so far from home, in a foreign country, standing on land that had once been held behind a wall by the Communist Party, I openly wept.

The Brandenburg Gate, standing beside the American Embassy, divided Berlin into communist East and free West and stands as a historical reminder of the grimness of division. Bullet holes are still in evidence on the columns, standing in silent testimony to those who sought to escape to freedom – and failed.

The remnants of the Berlin Wall stand as silent witness to what humanity can never allow to happen again. How did humans ever hate this much? Ever sanction those atrocities?

As the graffiti on the wall asks WHY, I too wonder why, and how this atrocity ever came to pass. Why didn’t someone, many someones, step up and stop this train before it became an avalanche.

I was sorely reminded of why we so desperately need John’s vision to unite. To refuse to hate simply because villianization is easy.

He respected those with whom he had political divisions – as he did President Barack Obama when John was questioned on the campaign trail about then-candidate Obama’s religious affiliation. The easy answer and easy road was never the path John selected by default.

We need what John stood for. His dignity, his statesmanship, his honor and humanity. John McCain was a Maverick alright, standing tall when others failed to do so.

We need heroes to look up to.

We need hope that we as a nation, can heal. John gave us that.

I didn’t always agree with John.

I didn’t always disagree with John.

I always respected John.

A prisoner of war who was willing to lay his life down for America, every single day for many, many years, through unrelenting torture that surely seemed unbearable, through disfigurement, throughout every humiliation he endured.

For you.

For me.

For all Americans, of every color, faith, gender and every combination of all of those.

We are all diminished by John’s passing.

In John’s final statement that would become his legacy beyond the fact that he asked both Republican and Democratic former Presidents to provide eulogies at his funeral, he said this to the American people:

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

Now that John is gone, it’s up to all of us, personally, individually, to make it so.

Rest in Peace John McCain. You already saw Hell in Vietnam and deserve nothing less.

May each and every one of us carry your torch.

Big Y-500 Flash Sale

Beginning today, Big Y prices at Family Tree DNA will be reduced FURTHER to the following levels:

  • Big Y-500 with no prior Y STR tests: $449 – this test includes all 500 STR markers plus the Big Y itself.

This is an amazing price given that the 111 panel itself is normally $359 alone. For just $90 more, you get the full 500 STR markers, including those 111, and the Big Y. This provides you with matches on 111 STR markers, your most refined haplogroup, and Big Y matching as well. Pricing has never been better.

Upgrades to Big Y-500:

  • Y12: $449 – normally $629 – save $180
  • Y25: $449 – normally $599 – save $150
  • Y37: $429 – normally $569 – save $140
  • Y67: $379 – normally $499 – save $130
  • Y111: $329 – normally $449 – save $130

Updated Testing Strategy 

Initially, I was testing only one man per family line, but I’ve revised that practice now because we’ve discovered new SNPs in different lines of the same family within a genealogical timeframe. This is exciting news, because it allows us to combine STRs and SNPs to define and sort family lines.

This is particularly useful when the tester knows they descend from a specific surname line, but has no idea how. The Big Y can solve that mystery when other methods don’t. I have two ancestral lines that have line-defining SNPs where STRs failed to make the division. I hope you have some of the same success – and the price sure is right.

My new strategy is to test minimally two men who descend from different sons of the oldest known ancestor of the line. In some family lines, several men have taken the Big Y, and downstream branches have been discovered. SNP mutations are much more common than we once believed.

These are great prices but the sale ends August 31st, so you only have 2 days!  Click here to purchase or upgrade.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

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

I provide Personalized DNA Reports for Y and mitochondrial DNA results for people who have tested through Family Tree DNA. I provide Quick Consults for DNA questions for people who have tested with any vendor. I would welcome the opportunity to provide one of these services for you.

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 900 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, or one of the affiliate links below:

Affiliate links are limited to:

Family Tree DNA Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files

In this Upload-Download Series, we’ll cover each major vendor:

  • How to download raw data files from the vendor
  • How to upload raw data files to the vendor
  • Other mainstream vendors where you can upload this vendor’s files

You can both upload autosomal data files from another vendor to Family Tree DNA, and download from Family Tree DNA.

Uploading TO Family Tree DNA

Step 1

On the main Family Tree DNA page, click on “Upload DNA Data,” at the top.

Step 2

Select either “Autosomal DNA” or Nat Geo’s Geno 2.0 data. Hint, the current version of Genographic data won’t work. The current version is processed on the Helix chip as of November 2016.

Step 3

If you are not transferring from Nat Geo, go to Step 4.

If you are transferring a Nat Geo 2.0 kit, proceed to enter your National Geographic Kit Number. If you don’t know your kit number, click on “Where do I find my Geno ID Code.”

Step 4

These instructions in Step 4 focus on uploading your autosomal DNA file from other vendors, not Genographic 2.0.

Complete the form. If you already have tested Y or mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA, select “Already have a Family Tree DNA account,” so that your uploaded test can be integrated with your existing account. If you have already taken the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA, there’s no need to upload your autosomal DNA from any other vendor.

Step 5

Next, select the vendor test that you are going to upload. Uploads accepted include:

  • 23andMe V3 and V4 – tests taken after December 2010 and before August 2017. The V5 chip, in use at 23andMe since August 2017 is not compatible.
  • Ancestry V1 – tests taken until May 2016.
  • Ancestry V2 – tests taken since May 2016
  • MyHeritage – fully compatible, Family Tree DNA is the lab that does their testing

If you select “MyHeritage,” you will be redirected to MyHeritage to log in and select your kit for transfer.

If you select either 23andMe or Ancestry DNA, you will be directed to either drag and drop your data file from that vendor or browse to upload.

Family Tree DNA provides a step by step guide for accessing your raw data files from those vendors by clicking on “How to I access my raw data files?,” above the grey transfer box.

You will be assigned a Family Tree DNA kit number. After your results are processed, you can sign in to see your matches.

Compatibility

The 23andMe V3, V4 and the Ancestry V1 kits are fully compatible, meaning that you will get the same matches at Family Tree DNA using those transfer kits as you would if you tested at Family Tree DNA. However, the Ancestry V2 kit is only partially compatible, meaning that you will only receive 20-25% of the matches by transferring a V2 test that you would receive if you tested at Family Tree DNA. Ancestry changed their chip in May of 2016.

If you want all of your possible matches, and who doesn’t, you should test at Family Tree DNA instead of uploading a V2 Ancestry test.

Step 6

The transfer to Family Tree DNA is free and so is viewing your matches along with basic tools. However, for additional tools, such as ethnicity and the chromosome browser, you’ll need to purchase the $19 unlock. This is a great value, as compared to retesting at $79, or sometimes less when on sale.

You will be prompted for the “Unlock” purchase if you click on either the Chromosome Browser button, the Ethnicity button or other advanced tools on your dashboard after your results are finished.

Downloading FROM Family Tree DNA

Step 1

To download your raw autosomal DNA file from Family Tree DNA, click on the orange “Download Raw Data” link at the bottom of your Family Finder section on your dashboard.

Alternatively, you can select the “Download Raw Data” option at the top of the page under myDNA, “Family Finder.”

Step 2

You will be given the option of downloading your Build 36 and Build 37 raw data files.

Different vendors request different types of files.

  • GedMatch – Build 36 Raw Data Concatenated
  • MyHeritage – Build 37 Raw Data Concatenated

Other vendors may request different file formats, and the above vendors may change over time.

Click the arrow beside the version you need.

Step 3

Save the file in a manner that you’ll recognize. The file name will be something like “37_R_Estes_Chrom_Autoso_20180818.gz”. I append the word FTDNA in front of the 37 so there is no question which vendor’s file this is. The last several digits are the date.

Family Tree DNA File Transfers TO Other Vendors

You can upload Family Tree DNA results to other vendors, as follows:

From below to >>>>>>>>>>> Ancestry Accepts MyHeritage Accepts 23andMe Accepts GedMatch Accepts
Family Tree DNA No Yes No Yes

Neither Ancestry nor 23andMe accept uploads from any vendor.

Family Tree DNA Transfers FROM Other Vendors

You can upload files from other vendors to Family Tree DNA, as follows:

From Ancestry  From MyHeritage  From 23andMe  From Living DNA
Family Tree DNA Accepts Yes Yes V3, V4 No

Testing and Transfer Strategy

Transferring to Family Tree DNA is always free, and you can see your matches. In order to view your ethnicity and use advanced tools like the chromosome browser, you’ll need to purchase the $19 unlock.

Remember that while Ancestry and MyHeritage both have records subscriptions to sell you, Family Tree DNA doesn’t. For Tier 1 tools, GedMatch requires a subscription. At Family Tree DNA, you pay a one time fee to unlock all of their tools. Every company needs to be profitable to stay in business and develop new tools, and each company has a different product pricing model.

My testing/transfer recommendations are as follows relative to Family Tree DNA:

An Ancestry V1 test is entirely compatible at Family Tree DNA, but with a V2 test, because the testing platform that Ancestry uses is only about 20-25% compatible with the Family Tree DNA test, you’ll only receive your closest 20-25% matches. Family Tree DNA can’t match on those smaller segments if you don’t test on a compatible platform, so please do. I wrote a step-by-step guide about how to download from Ancestry here, including how to tell if you have a V1 or V2 format test.

    • If you have Ancestry V2 results, you can transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch but I recommend retesting at Family Tree DNA. The cost difference at Family Tree DNA between the $19 unlock and a new Family Finder test is $60, for a total of $79 when the tests aren’t on sale. When they are on sale, it’s less. You never know which match is going to break down that brick wall, and it would be a shame to miss it because you transferred rather than retested.
    • If you test at Family Tree DNA, transfer your results to MyHeritage for free. Matching and ethnicity is free with a transfer to MyHeritage, but you won’t receive the full potential benefit of tree matching with other testers without a subscription.
    • If you test at MyHeritage, transfer your results to Family Tree DNA for free.
    • If you test at 23andMe and have the V3 or V4 test, transfer to both Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage. If you have the 23andMe V5 test, retest at Family Tree DNA and transfer those results to MyHeritage and GedMatch.

Have fun!

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

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

I provide Personalized DNA Reports for Y and mitochondrial DNA results for people who have tested through Family Tree DNA. I provide Quick Consults for DNA questions for people who have tested with any vendor. I would welcome the opportunity to provide one of these services for you.

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 900 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, or one of the affiliate links below:

Affiliate links are limited to:

Proving or Disproving a Half Sibling Relationship Using DNAPainter

I had this nagging match at MyHeritage for some time who had not responded to messages and who didn’t have a tree. When she did reply, she explained that she was adopted, but I had already been working on how she was related.

Initially, I didn’t think too much of the match, especially when she didn’t reply, but after SmartMatching and Triangulation appeared on the scene, this match haunted me just about daily. Who the heck was Dee? We share enough DNA that we might even share a family resemblance.

Recently, when I became focused on my Dad’s life and (ahem) bad-boy mis-adventures once again, I realized that while this clearly isn’t a half-sibling match, my half-sibling would likely be long-deceased. I was born late in my father’s life and he was breaking hearts 40 years earlier – which means he could also have been fathering children. Dee could be my half-sibling’s child or grandchild.

Let’s take a look at this situation and how I used DNAPainter to quickly narrow the possibilities, even with no additional information.

The Problem

Here’s my match to Dee (not her name) at MyHeritage.

Dee matches me at 521 cM on 17 segments.

Taking a quick look at the DNAPainter Shared cM Tool, you can see that Dee falls into the non-dimmed relationship ranges below, with dark grey being the most probable.

The most likely relationships are shown in the table below.

Dee is in her 50s, so she’s clearly not my great aunt or uncle or grandparent.

The Possibilities

Based on who she matches, I know the match is from my father’s side. I have no full siblings and my mother’s DNA is at MyHeritage.

My father could have been begetting children beginning about 1917 or so and could have continued through his death in 1963.

My half sister’s daughter has also tested at MyHeritage, and Dee matches her more distantly than me, so Dee is not an unknown descendant of my half-sister.

Dee could have been a child or grandchild of a half sibling that I’m unaware of – which of course is my burning question.

I checked the in-common-with matches and while they made sense, I needed something much faster than working with multiple trees and matches and attempting to build them out.

Besides, I desperately wanted a quick answer.

DNAPainter to the Rescue

I’ve written three previous articles about utilizing DNAPainter.

I continue to paint matches where I can identify known ancestors. Currently, I’m up to 689 segments identified and painted which is about 62% of my genome.

Surely this investment should pay off now, if I can only figure out how.

I’ve painted hundreds of segments on both my paternal grandmother and grandfather’s sides. If Dee is a half sibling (descendant) to me, she will match both my paternal grandmother’s line and my paternal grandfather’s line. If Dee is related on one of those lines, but not the other, then Dee will match one grandparent’s line, but not the other grandparent’s line.

Dee can’t be descended from a half sibling if she doesn’t match both of my paternal grandparents, meaning William George Estes and Ollie Bolton’s lines.

Painting

The first thing I did was to paint the segments where Dee and I match, assigning a unique color.

After painting, I compared each chromosome individually, looking at the other ancestors painted that overlapped with the bright yellow.

The next step was to look at each chromosome and see which ancestor’s DNA overlaps with Dee’s.

Without fail, every single one of these segments matched with my paternal grandfather’s side, and none matched with my paternal grandmother’s side.

To confirm, I have a cousin, we’ll call him Buzz, whose ancestor was my grandmother’s brother, so Buzz is my second cousin. If Dee is my half sibling’s child or grandchild, Buzz, who also tested at MyHeritage, would be Dee’s second cousin or second cousin once removed. No second cousins have ever been proven NOT to match, so it’s extremely unlikely that Dee is descended through Ollie Bolton.

Is there a very small possibility? Yes, if Dee is actually a second cousin twice removed from Buzz, which is genetically the equivalent of a third cousin. Third cousins only match about 90% of the time.

However, Dee also doesn’t match anyone else on my grandmother’s side, so it’s very unlikely that Dee descends from Ollie Bolton’s parents, Joseph “Dode” Bolton and Margaret Clarkson/Claxton.

Therefore, we’ve just “proven,” as best we can, that Dee does NOT descend from a previously unknown half-sibling.

We’ll just pause for a minute here – I was so hopeful☹

Regroup – Other Possible Relationships

OK, redraw the chart without Ollie. Dee is still very closely related, so what are the other possibilities?

Dee does match people with ancestors from both the lines of Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy, so Dee is either an unknown descendant of William George Estes or his parents, given how closely she matches me and other descendants of this family.

Or… as luck would have it, Dee could also be descended from the sister of Lazarus Estes (Elizabeth Estes) who married the bother of Elizabeth Vannoy (William George Vannoy.) Yes, siblings married siblings. Two children of Joel Vannoy and Phoebe Crumley married two children of John Y. Estes and Rutha (or Ruthy) Dodson.

You know, these mysteries can never be simple, can they?

In the chart above, gold represents the people who descend from a combination of a pink and blue couple. Joel Vannoy and Phoebe Crumley are shown twice because there was no easy way to display this couple.

One way or another Dee and I are related through these two couples. Of course, I’m curious as to how, and excited to help Dee learn about her family, but this isn’t going to be an easy solve, because of the potential double descent. Under normal circumstances, meaning NOT doubly related, Dee is most likely my half-great niece, meaning that her unknown grandparent is either a child of William George Estes (my grandfather) or descended from his parents, Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy.

However, the doubling of DNA in the William George Vannoy/Elizabeth Estes line would make Dee look a generation closer if she descends from that line, so the genetic equivalent of descending from Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy. The only way to solve for this equation would be to see how closely she matches a descendant of Elizabeth Estes and William George Vannoy – and no one from that line is known to have tested today.

For now, my driving question of whether I had discovered an unknown half-sibling has (most probably) been answered between the segment information at MyHeritage combined with the functionality of DNAPainter.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

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

I provide Personalized DNA Reports for Y and mitochondrial DNA results for people who have tested through Family Tree DNA. I provide Quick Consults for DNA questions for people who have tested with any vendor. I would welcome the opportunity to provide one of these services for you.

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 900 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, or one of the affiliate links below:

Affiliate links are limited to:

Robert Vernon Estes (1931-1951), Nightmare: Prisoner of War – 52 Ancestors #207

Photo courtesy GraveHunter.

Robert Vernon Estes was born on March 27, 1931 to Lucille Latta and Joseph Harry “Dode” Estes, my father’s brother and best friend.

Robert’s nickname was Bobby. He enrolled in the Army during the Korean conflict and was captured on November 30, 1950. He was held as a prisoner of war and died in Korea on January 31, 1951. The family was not notified.

His nickname was Bobby.

This isn’t the end of Bobby’s story, but the beginning.

Bobby

Bobby is my uncle’s son. His father, Joseph “Dode” Harry Estes born September 13, 1904 in Claiborne Co., Tennessee and died December 9, 1994 in Fairfield, Wayne Co., Illinois.

Bobby has been a “missing” family member for years. His father, Dode, suffered from amnesia, probably from an automobile accident, and became lost to the family who believed he had died. With Dode’s absence, his sons also became lost to the family.

This week, I found Robert Vernon Estes. He is memorialized on FindAGrave, although his remains were never returned and he is not buried on American soil.

Bobby is listed at both Fold3.com and with the American Battle Monuments Commission, but some of that information was incorrect, such as his death date.

United States Korean War Battle Deaths
Name: Robert V Estes
Event Type: Death
Event Date: 30 Nov 1950 (captured on this date, he didn’t die until January 31, 1951)
Event Place: Korea
Gender: Male
Race: Caucasian
Citizenship Status: U.S. Citizen
Casualty Type Note: HOSTILE – Died while captured/interned
Military Service Branch: U S ARMY
Military Component Reserve (USAR, USNR, USAFR, USMCR, USCGR)
Military Rank: Private First Class
Service Number: 16312230
Birth Date: 1931
Residence Place: White (County), Indiana, United States
Source Reference: 7234

Newspapers.com hasn’t indexed the newspapers for Monticello, Indiana where his POW status, or death, would have been reported. MyHertiage hasn’t digitized the yearbook where he went to school either. However, FindAGrave has more, thanks to GraveHunter, including his regiment and division, which made it possible for me to track Bobby further.

Corporal Estes was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was taken Prisoner of War while fighting the enemy in North Korea on November 30, 1950 and died while a prisoner on January 31, 1951. His remains were not recovered. Corporal Estes was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Bobby’s remains still have not been recovered or returned for burial, 67 years later.

I can’t help but wonder at the circumstances surrounding his death. Was he wounded as he was captured? Was he captured because he was wounded? Was he wounded or ill and left untreated? Or was it the unthinkable, unspeakable? Was he tortured to death?

The Korean War

The Korean War (1950-1953) began in June 1950 when the North Korean Communist army crossed the 38th parallel and invaded non-Communist South Korea. Armed with Soviet tanks, they quickly overran South Korea, executing every educated person who could, would or might lead a resistance against North Korea. The United States came to South Korea’s aid in a “police action” sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council.

The war lasted a miserable 3 years, with over 55,000 US men killed. The goal was to prevent a third world war. The American troops and people were frustrated with the lack of a decisive victory, unlike with WWI and WWII. Instead a divided Korea was established, with North Korea remaining a hostile dictatorship to this day.

The United States reported that North Korea mistreated prisoners of war. Soldiers were beaten, starved, put to forced labor, marched to death and summarily executed. War crimes were reported by both North and South Korea and document by photos of soldiers with piles of bodies. I can’t even look.

What Happened to Bobby?

From Wikipedia, we can surmise something of what was happening in Korea during the time Bobby was captured under the heading “China Intervenes.”

After consulting with Stalin, on 13 November, Mao appointed Zhou Enlai the overall commander and coordinator of the war effort, with Peng as field commander. On 25 November at the Korean western front, the PVA (Chinese People’s Volunteer Army) 13th Army Group attacked and overran the ROK (Republic of South Korea Army) II Corps at the Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River, and then inflicted heavy losses on the US 2nd Infantry Division on the UN forces’ right flank. The UN Command retreated; the U.S. Eighth Army’s retreat (the longest in US Army history) was made possible because of the Turkish Brigade’s successful, but very costly, rear-guard delaying action near Kunuri that slowed the PVA attack for two days (27–29 November). By 30 November, the PVA 13th Army Group managed to expel the U.S. Eighth Army from northwest Korea.

This is exactly when Bobby was captured, November 30th, so it would make sense that he was involved in the Battle of Ch’ongch’on River which was launched by General McArthur under the “Home by Christmas” offensive to expel the Chinese forces from the Korean peninsula and end the war. Not only did the war not end, no one came home by Christmas and Bobby still isn’t back.

This photo shows soldiers from the US 2nd Infantry Division in action near the Ch’ongch’on River on November 20th. This was Bobby’s unit just 10 days before his capture. For all we know, one of these men could be Bobby.

The terrain was rugged.

Soldiers from the Chinese 39th Corps pursue the US 25th Infantry Division. This wasn’t Bobby’s unit, but the pursuing Chinese probably didn’t look much different anyplace. Men chasing you, shooting guns is universally terrifying.

The Secret Report

A now declassified secret report states that on November 30, 1950, the day Bobby was captured, all records of the S-1 section were lost in the vicinity of Pugwon, Korea due to enemy action. This unit, Bobby’s, was known as the 9th “Manchu” infantry regiment. The secret report details the “defensive and rear-guard delaying action” that took place November 26-30 which followed an attack that had taken place November 12-25.

Extracted from the report:

On November 2nd, the unit was assigned to counterattack and destroy or hold the enemy that had broken through the Republic of Korea (now South Korea) lines and was advancing with no resistance.

On November 8th, the unit made contact with the enemy. On November 10th, tensions mounted and on the 11th, the unit celebrated Armistice Day “in its own special way firing a three-round concentration from all weapons at 1100 hours on appropriate enemy targets.”

The battled ensued until November 25th when the unit began the final push to crush the enemy and drive him across the Xaln River.

On November 25th, the 1st Battalion was attacked by the enemy and by 3 PM the following day, the entire 9th had been forced to withdraw and take up defensive positions across the Chongchon River.

On November 28th, they withdrew to Yongdam-Ni where a new defensive position was established. The 1st Battalion was attempting to withdraw from south of Pugwon.

Just before midnight, they fell under heavy enemy attack that completely cut them off until the early morning hours of November 27th when they fought their way free and reorganized in the vicinity of KuJang-Dong.

Under fire, on the 28th and 29th, the 9th reorganized in the vicinity of Kunu-Ri. As a result of the action from the late hours of the 25th to the 29th, the three battalions of the 9th had sustained over a 50% casualty rate, as a result leaving the 2nd and 3rd with less than 400 men each.

The 2nd was Bobby’s unit.

At approximately 8 PM on the 29th, a verbal order was received to attack and destroy the enemy roadblock on the Kunu-Ri-Sunchon Road. Combining the men left in each of the 2nd and 3rd into a reinforced company of approximately 400 men, the order was received and carried out during the remainder of November 29th and the early morning hours of November 30.

At 3:30 AM, the 2nd followed by the 3rd Battalion moved from the assembly area at Kunu-Ri to vicinity of the roadblock. At 6:30 AM, the 2nd Battalion on the right received enemy fire that increased in strength until 7 AM when enemy fire was coming from all sides. All vehicles withdrew. Although the fire continued for about 2 hours the unit held its position. The 3rd with a platoon of tanks contacted the enemy in the vicinity at approximately 7:15. The 9th advanced about 1000 yards through the roadblock until resistance of the enemy was such that farther progress forward was stopped.

The 9th completed a perimeter defense of the area and elements of the 2nd were allowed to pass through the roadblock. At 1:30 PM, with all available transport, the unit began to run the roadblock and engaged in a running fight while crossing it until 4 PM. However, enemy S/A fire was continuous and heavy along the entire 8 to 10 miles of the roadblock. The 2nd, on order, mounted all available transportation and engaged in a running fight with the enemy until reaching the vicinity of Sunchon at 4 PM. At 5:30 PM the group cleared the roadblock, taking fire on the rear and left flank, arriving in Sunchon area at 8 PM, proceeding to Hwange to set up a perimeter defense and reorganize.

Bobby clearly never made it to Sunchon. The report continues:

The regiment has suffered losses, heavy loses, in both men and equipment with what that undefined something that all great units have, the regiment wasn’t talking about the “downs” but what they would do the next time and hoping that time would be soon.

There was sadness, yes, but with that a grim determination that the enemy would pay, and pay the terrific price for what they had done. Instead of a defeated regiment the “Red” forces had succeeded in making a stronger, greater and inspired regiment of the 9th “Manchu” Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division.

Signed, Edwin J. Messinger, Colonel, Infantry Commanding

The map above shows the roadblocks, the route along which Bobby was captured.

The declassified report includes summary documents stating that the regiment’s many losses occurred during November 27-30 “when the Chinese troops attacked our positions in overwhelming numbers. A total of 1766 battle casualties were suffered, 37 killed, 370 wounded and 1359 missing in action.”

On November 30th, the unit had a total of 257 enlisted men, but they don’t say whether that count is before or after the offensive.

The 2nd reported 15 killed, 125 wounded and 191 missing. They had started out with 798 on November 1st, so one way or another, lost 41% of their men. Bobby was one of those 191 missing, many of whom would have become prisoners of war.

The Gauntlet

This horrific battle was later named “The Gauntlet.”

Lieutenant Colonel William Kelleher of the US 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment described the carnage at the Gauntlet:

“For the next 500 yards the road was temporarily impassable because of the numerous burning vehicles and the pile up of the dead men, coupled with the rush of the wounded from the ditches, struggling to get aboard anything that rolled…either there would be bodies in our way, or we would be almost borne down by wounded men who literally throw themselves upon us…I squeezed [a wounded ROK soldier] into our trailer. But as I put him aboard, other wounded men piled on the trailer in such number that the Jeep couldn’t pull ahead. It was necessary to beat them off.”

A summary written later stated that when the North Korean forces collapsed, the Chinese sent their units to establish the roadblock which would have isolated and surrounded the entire Eighth Army. The 2nd infantry didn’t know the strength of the roadblock and US intelligence mistakenly reported that an alternative escape on the road from Kunu-ri to Anju was also blocked by the Chinese. Therefore, the unit decided to withdraw through the valley and the attack on the roadblock began.

On that fateful morning, four tanks were initially sent down the road, but the Chinese held their fire. The length of the roadblock caught the infantry by surprise, as they were not aware that it has been extended by the Chinese the previous day. The Chinese lured the unit into the trap, and the road was soon filled with bodies and disabled vehicles. The sterility of the official (now declassified) report belies the horror of the men inescapably trapped and abandoned there.

Those who tried to take cover in the ditches were left behind by the convoy rushing south. Air cover provided some protection in the day, but not at night. The Chinese finally blocked the road entirely by destroying parts of the 2nd Infantry Division which immobilized artillery pieces, forcing the abandonment of the rest of the vehicles. The men that could retreated by hiking through the hills, but not everyone was able to escape. The men from the 2nd, trapped in place, continued to fight after the rest had left.

In one of the last acts of the battle, the retreating 23rd infantry fired off its entire stock of 3,206 artillery shells within 20 minutes, shocking the Chinese troops and preventing them from following the regiment. The last stragglers from the 2nd Infantry division, the few left alive, arrived at Sunchon on December 1st.

On this satellite map, you can see Kaechon (Turk) near where the battle started, Sunchon and Anju, a distance of about 25 miles.

By comparing the rivers, I can map the rough location of the roadblocks. However, given the map distances and the fact that the roadblocks were reported to be 8-10 miles long, the roadblock area was probably about a third of the distance between Kaechon and Sunchon.

I believe this this region is the area where Bobby was captured. It’s somehow ironic that today, I’m viewing far more information about where their son was on that fateful day than either of Bobby’s parents were ever able to do in their lifetime. The report wasn’t declassified until after both of Bobby’s parents had died.

By the next day, the Chinese had moved on, but Bobby was in the hands of the North Koreans. The horrific final chapter of Bobby’s inescapable death had begun.

Korean Concentration Camps

Bobby didn’t die for 2 months and 1 day, so he very clearly was in some kind of detainment facility. I discovered this list of Korean POW camps. Based on proximity and the early date, the only camps possible where Bobby was held would have been:

  • Camp 5, [old] Pyoktong, 1950-52—town name moved after war

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the original site on the south bank of the Yalu River is believed to hold 550 remains of US servicemen.

The following holding points were in operation at that time as well:

  • The Valley at Sambakkol, mainly Nov 1950-Jan 1951 (near Pyongyang)
  • “Death Valley” at Pukchin-Tarigol, mainly Dec 1950-March 1953 (this site is believed to hold the remains of 350 US POWs)
  • “The Apex” camps at Chunggang-jin, Hanjang-ni, and An-dong, Nov 1950 to Oct 1951
  • Kanggye, used by POWs from the Chosin Reservoir, Dec 1950 to Mar 1951 (further east)

The official US POW/MIA page states that the majority of the men who died in these sites passed away during the winter of 1950-51 before food could be delivered reliably and shelter was haphazard at best. Temperatures in Korea in December and January range from 15-30 degrees. More than 7800 men were lost and remain unrecovered and about 5300 of those were lost in North Korea. This site shows a map with the locations of the various POW camps annotated.

This chills me to the bone.

Another soldier from Bobby’s unit captured in the same battle was sent to the Pukchin-Tarigol Camp Cluster, shown on the map below, about 30 miles north of Kaechon, where he starved to death on February 16, 1951, just two weeks after Bobby died.

Yet another soldier from the same unit captured at the same time died in the same prison camp four days before Bobby. There’s a reason it was called “Death Valley.” Those two soldiers were not listed on POW lists, were not among the remains returned in 1954 and were declared unrecoverable, but were found in a secondary burial site and returned in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Maybe there’s hope for Bobby yet.

I found the Pyoktong concentration camp location on the map as well, although the Korean War site says the town was moved after the war.

The notorious Pyoktong on the map today was located 60 or 70 miles north of Kaechon. Death Valley would have been closer to where Bobby was captured.

Exorbitant death rates in concentration camps probably account for the 900% (not a typo) discrepancy in the number of POWs that North Korea officially claimed to have held after the war, as compared to their own announcements and known South Korean captives during the war.

The original Pyoktong location is shown in the photo below on the south bank of the Yalu River that divides China and North Korea.

It’s reported that more than 2000 bodies are buried behind this location.

The 55 sets of remains (of over 7700+ still missing) that were recently returned by Korea only included one set with dogtags, and they weren’t Bobby’s. Given that Bobby was a POW for 2 months, they clearly had his tags. It’s unlikely that any of the remains repatriated are his.

Bobby’s Military Awards

I wondered if the awards that Bobby received posthumously might tell us more about his duty. Regardless, he deserves to be fully recognized for each one.

Combat Infantryman Badge – Awarded to infantrymen and special forces soldiers who fought in ground combat after December 6, 1941.

Prisoner of War Medal – Awarded to any person who was taken prisoner or held captive while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States

Korean Service Medal – Created November 1950 by President Harry Truman for participation in the Korean War.

United Nations Service Medal – An international military decoration established by the United Nations December 12, 1950 in recognition of the multi-national defense forces which participated in the Korean War. The back reads “For service in the defence (sic) of the principles of the charter of the United Nations.”

National Defense Service Medal – Established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, the medal is a “blanket campaign medal” awarded to service members who served honorably during a designated time period of which a “national emergency” had been declared during a time of war or conflict. This medal is awarded to men who served in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War or the War on Terrorism.

Korean Presidential Unit Citation – Award presented by the government of South Korea to any military unit of outstanding performance in defense of the Republic of Korea. In recognition of allied military service to South Korea during the Korean War, all US military departments were authorized the unit award for that period.

Republic of Korea War Service Medal – Military award of South Korea originally authorized in December of 1950 to honor those who participated in the counter assaults against North Korean aggression in June 1950. In 1951, South Korea authorized the award to “the brave and valiant members of the United Nations Command who have been, and are now, combatting the communist aggressor in Korea.”

Epilogue

Bobby’s mother, Lucille Latta Stockdale died on August 18, 1952 of a stroke at age 45.  She only knew that Bobby was missing, not that he had died. Or did she, in her mother’s heart? She must have worried every single hour of single every one of those 625 days between his capture and her death.

As a mother, I can’t even begin to imagine how Lucille suffered. Surely she hoped for the best. And feared the worst. Every minute of every single hour

She probably jumped every time a phone rang or someone knocked at the door. She would have been constantly waiting for a good news call, or, for the dreaded telegram to arrive. Would it be Bobby’s voice on the other end of the line, or the men in military uniform at the door, bearing dreadful news?

It was never either.

Did the constant stress of his captivity lead to her stroke? It certainly didn’t help, that’s for sure.

I wonder when the family was finally notified? I knew that my uncle’s son had been killed in “the war,” but I never knew any details, including which war, when he died, nor even Bobby’s name.

My own father died when I was young, although he kept in touch with his brother as best he could until they were both lost to all of us.

His Namesake

As I processed this heartbreaking sequence of information: the battles, Bobby’s capture, his horrific time spent in Korea including those torturous last two months, his prolonged “absence” that was in fact the stillness of death, his mother’s demise and his father’s subsequent disappearance – the warmth of a revelation suddenly crept across me like sunshine emerging from the clouds after a devastating storm.

I had always known I was named “for” someone, but I had never known who that someone was. I knew positively it wasn’t anyone on my mother’s side. Mother said my father selected my first name and she chose my middle name. She seemed none too happy about that circumstance, but it was years too late when she and I had that discussion. My mother had ongoing issues with my father, but if she had known I was named for Bobby, and the circumstances, she would have told me with pride.

Now, I realize that I was named for Robert Vernon Estes, along with his nickname, Bobby, which my father bestowed upon me as well. I love my nickname, which I spell Bobbi, but I was never the least bit pleased with Roberta. I never understood. That’s all different now.

Robert, I’m busting-at-the-seams proud to be your namesake. I will stand in the stead of your parents until my death, still praying that we can bring you home soon, hoping that the least I can do is stand at your graveside as you are buried. It would be my honor.

Thank you for your service, your name and your ultimate sacrifice.

Ancestry Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files

In this Upload-Download Series, we’ll cover each major vendor:

  • How to download raw data files from the vendor
  • How to upload raw data files to the vendor, if possible
  • Other mainstream vendors where you can upload this vendor’s files

Uploading TO Ancestry

This part is easy with Ancestry, because Ancestry doesn’t accept any other vendor’s files. There is no ability to upload TO Ancestry. You have to test with Ancestry if you want results from Ancestry.

Downloading FROM Ancestry

In order to transfer your autosomal DNA file to another testing vendor, or GedMatch, for either matching or ethnicity, you’ll need to first download the file from Ancestry.

Step 1

Sign in to your account at Ancestry and click on the DNA Results Summary link.

Step 2

Click on the Settings gear, at the far upper right hand corner of the summary page, just beneath your Ancestry user ID.

Step 3

Click on the link for “Download Raw DNA Data.”

Step 4

Enter your password and click on “I Understand,” after reading of course.

At that point, the confirm button turns orange – click there.

Step 5

Ancestry will send an e-mail to the e-mail address where you are registered with Ancestry. Check your inbox for that e-mail.

Waiting…waiting.

Still waiting…

If the e-mail doesn’t arrive shortly, check your spam folder. If you’ve changed e-mail addresses, check to be sure your new one is registered with Ancestry. That’s on the same Settings page. If all else fails, request the e-mail again.

Step 6

Ahhh, it’s finally here.

Click on the green “Confirm Data Download” and do not close the window.

Step 7

Next, click on the green “Download DNA Raw Data.”

You’ll see the following confirmation screen.

Step 8

At the bottom of the page, above, if you’re on a PC, you’ll see the typical file download box that asks you if you want to open or save. Save the file as a name you can find later when you want to upload to another site.

The file name will be “dna-data-2018-07-31” where the date is the date you downloaded the file. I would suggest adding the word Ancestry to the front when you save the file on your system.

Most vendors want an unopened zip file, so if you want to open your file, first copy it to another name. Otherwise, you’ll have to download again.

That’s it, you’re done!

Ancestry File Transfers to Other Vendors

Ancestry testing falls into two different categories. V1 tests taken before May of 2016 and V2 tests taken after May 2016. Tests processed during May 2016 could be either version.

The difference between V1 and V2 files is that Ancestry changed the chips they use to test and different DNA positions are tested, resulting in a file of a different format.

If you don’t remember when you tested, make a copy of your Ancestry file using a different name, like, “Opened Ancestry file 7-31-2018.” Then just click to open the zip file.

The first four rows of the file will say something like this:

#AncestryDNA raw data download
#This file was generated by AncestryDNA at: 08/11/2017 07:23:49 UTC
#Data was collected using AncestryDNA array version: V1.0
#Data is formatted using AncestryDNA converter version: V1.0

This is a version 1 (V1) file.

A version 2 file will say V2.0.

Your upload results to other vendors’ sites will vary in terms of both matching and ethnicity accuracy based on your Ancestry version number, as follows:

From below to >>>>>>>>>>> Family Tree DNA Accepts ** MyHeritage Accepts*** 23andMe Accepts* GedMatch Accepts ****
Ancestry before May 2016 (V1) Yes, fully compatible Yes, fully compatible No Yes
Ancestry after May 2016 (V2) Yes, partly compatible Yes, fully compatible No Yes

*Note that 23andMe earlier in 2018 allowed a one-time transfer from Ancestry, but people who transferred results did not receive matches from 23andMe.

**Note that the transfer to Family Tree DNA and matching is free, but advanced tools including the chromosome browser and ethnicity require a $19 unlock fee. That fee is less expensive than retesting, but V2 customers should consider retesting to obtain fully compatible matching and ethnicity results. V2 tests typically receive only the closest 20-25% of matches they would receive if they tested directly at Family Tree DNA.

***MyHeritage utilizes a technique known as imputation to achieve compatibility between different vendors files. The transfer and tools are free, but without a subscription you can’t fully utilize all of the MyHeritage benefits available.

****I’m not sure exactly how GedMatch compensates for the V1 versus V2 differences, but they can handle both data file types. Most people don’t take both tests, but I was conducting an experiment and have uploaded both V1 and V2 tests.

A quick survey of GedMatch matches to my Ancestry V1 and Ancestry V2 kits shows that of my first 249 (125 V2, 124 V1) matches, I have 3 V1 tests that don’t have a corresponding match to a person on the V2 kit, and 5 V2 kits that don’t have a corresponding V1 kit match. That’s roughly a 6% nonmatch rate between Ancestry V1 and V2 kits. I would presume that as the genealogical and genetic distance increases with more distant matches, so would the percentage of non-matches because the segment size is smaller with more distant matches, so there is less matching DNA to have the opportunity to match in the first place.

Testing and Transfer Strategy

My recommendation, if you test at Ancestry, is to transfer your V1 results to MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch.

An Ancestry V1 test is entirely compatible at Family Tree DNA, but with a V2 test, because the testing platform that Ancestry uses is only about 20-25% compatible with the Family Tree DNA test, you’ll only receive your closest 20-25% matches. Family Tree DNA can’t match on those smaller segments if you don’t test on a compatible platform, so please do.

If you have Ancestry V2 results, transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch but retest at Family Tree DNA. The cost difference at Family Tree DNA between the $19 unlock and a new Family Finder test is $60, for a total of $79 when the tests aren’t on sale. When they are on sale, it’s less. Right now, the tests are only $59.

You never know which match is going to break down that brick wall, and it would be a shame to miss it because you transferred rather than retested.

Matching and ethnicity is free with a transfer to MyHeritage, but you won’t receive the full potential benefit of SmartMatching without a subscription, as free trees are limited to 250 people and genealogical records aren’t included without a subscription. My subscription has been well worth the $.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

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

I provide Personalized DNA Reports for Y and mitochondrial DNA results for people who have tested through Family Tree DNA. I provide Quick Consults for DNA questions for people who have tested with any vendor. I would welcome the opportunity to provide one of these services for you.

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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.

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John Whitney Ferverda (1882-1962) in the 1966 Yearbook? – 52 Ancestors #206

When MyHeritage first began autosomal DNA testing, I transferred my autosomal DNA test to MyHeritage (for free) and purchased a records subscription with little hope that a company out of Israel would have the focus or records to provide anything that an American company wouldn’t already have, or that I, as a decades long genealogist wouldn’t have already uncovered. But genealogists are desperate creatures and we’ll try anything once.

I’m happy to say, I was wrong.

The combination of my DNA and my tree, separately and together has provided a smorgasbord of new information. Of course, I view other people’s trees with the requisite grain of salt, or the entire lick, same as anyplace else. However, the MyHeritage record matches are golden, as are the DNA Smartmatches which combine DNA matches and trees with common ancestors. Just yummy!

The Yearbooks

At Rootstech 2018 when Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage’s CEO announced that they were digitizing yearbooks, I thought that was nice, but I don’t care about my own generation and yearbooks wouldn’t be relevant for my parents and grandparents.

My Mom graduated in 1940 and her parents were born in 1882 and 1888. Did yearbooks even exist as a “thing” back then? Even if they did, my mother’s family was from a small Brethren farming community in northern Indiana and my father’s family from a mountain community in Appalachia. I guarantee you there were no yearbooks in Claiborne County, Tennessee at that time. There were barely schools.

Well, guess what – I was wrong again.

I sure am glad I have that MyHeritage subscription.

Here’s the notification e-mail I received.

When I saw the year, 1966, I almost deleted this e-mail, but I’m so glad I didn’t. It seems that the 1966 Leesburg High School yearbook included historical photos which MyHeritage indexed as well.

Oswego 1900

Yearbooks, it turns out, aren’t just for high schools.

In 1900, the entire school in Oswego, Indiana turned out in front of the building for a photo. My grandfather, John Whitney Ferverda, was among the students and so were several of his siblings.

The Ferverda family was a significant contributor to the Oswego student population that year.

I didn’t know that my grandfather attended school at Oswego. They lived near Leesburg, so I assumed he attended school there. There’s that nasty word again. It appears that that Oswego children were considered Leesburg alumni? How’s that, when my grandfather turned 18 years old in 1900, so clearly graduating that year or the next?

The answer is found in a Fort Wayne, Indiana newspaper article in 1917 stating that:

“The first real commencement exercises of the Leesburg High School were held last week in the Methodist Church. Leesburg adopted the four-year high school last year and not much attention was paid to the graduating class.”

There were only two graduates in 1917, Donald Ferverda, my grandfather’s brother, being the valedictorian.

I’ve researched in the local libraries in the area too, and either they don’t have these yearbooks, or I never thought to look. The great thing about these notifications is that you don’t have to know to look. Plus, I would have NEVER looked in 1966, for anything, in Leesburg. My family was long gone by then.

The family always said they were from Leesburg, probably because “Grandma Ferverda” moved to town in her later years, but the original family farm was actually probably closer to Oswego.

I know, from family members that the Ferverda family lived on the same road as the Old Salem Church of the Brethren, about a mile south of the church. Unfortunately, Google Street view doesn’t follow the length of this road.

In any case, wherever the farm was located on this couple mile stretch, it wasn’t far from Oswego – actually closer than to Leesburg.

But that wasn’t the only surprise.

Yearbooks aren’t just for students.

School Trustee

My grandfather, John Ferverda, married Edith Lore in 1908 and they settled down the road about 20 miles in Silver Lake, Indiana where John was the railroad station master.

My mother graduated from Silver Lake High School in 1940, and beginning in 1946, my grandfather became a trustee. Who knew!

These yearbook photos provide some wonderful mid-life photos of my grandfather – none of which I’ve ever seen before. It looks like the trustees had their pictures taken every year too. My grandfather would have been 64 in 1946 and 68 in 1950, so this gives me a 5 year span of pictures.

The next mystery is why his name is in capital letters when not all of the trustees were.

John Ferverda continued as a trustee through 1950 which included a larger photo page as well.

Of course, this now begs the question of whether there were yearbooks when my mother was attending school in Silver Lake. I doubt it, but I’d surely love to be wrong for the third time. It’s back to MyHeritage to look.