About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.

Pandemic Journal: Sanity & Strategies to Keep It

Covid 19

Will we have any sanity left when this is over? And what does “over” mean in this context? “Over” isn’t going to be just escaping or surviving (hopefully) the virus, but also the resulting economic havoc that is being wrought every day that we are in lockdown.

We have no idea what to expect because we, none of us, has ever seen anything like this before. This is uncharted territory.

Mind you, I absolutely agree that these measures are necessary, and had we done it sooner, we might well have avoided what we are now facing in the next few weeks. A tsunami so different that none of us know exactly what to expect – other than it’s going to be bad, very bad. We need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Yes, like everyone else, I’m frightened and anxious. It’s like the enemy that we can’t see but know is coming, stealthily, invisibly until it’s upon us and too late.

And then, of course, there are the people who don’t believe this pandemic is real – don’t understand that it’s up to all of us to avoid contamination so that we don’t infect others. It’s a matter of life and death.

If you know a doubter who needs convincing, or you’re uncertain yourself, here’s a lighthearted but very poignant  shortclip from the comedy Scrubs, 14 years ago, that shows with green the infection path and why this is so deadly. Take a look, here.

Fear and Anxiety

Everyone has their own personal reasons why they are afraid. In my case, two of my closest family members work in the medical field, at a major hospital where they and their housemate will certainly be exposed, and another close family member works in a public facing service role where he is as I type this.

Some family members have compromised heath which means they are more susceptible to death when, not if, they become infected. I’m hopeful that we can keep them safe long enough for the worst to be over, for the virus to mutate to a less deadly form, or a vaccine to be developed. Yes, we’re still allowed to hope.

One of my best friends along with a police officer was exposed to the virus this week in her role as a medical professional. Another friend played cards with a person who was later confirmed to have the virus. And then there are my friends in NYC and in the epicenter outside of Seattle.

This is just the beginning and today will look like the good old days soon.

As I said to someone yesterday, now when I tell someone that I love them, or goodbye, the gravity and importance of those words weighs heavy upon my heart.

Lockdown and Me

I’ve been trying to decide how to appropriately handle this situation and my blog.

I don’t want to seem unconcerned and glib by ignoring the situation that is changing the everyday life of every single person – immediately – as people transition to working at home with their home-working spouses and children not at school. Or, worse, transition to not having a job or income at all. That’s not a transition, it’s a bomb.

But then again, I don’t want to allow this to overtake my entire life either. I certainly hope there is a life worth living after Covid-19.

It seems to be that there has to be a balance of some sort – and I’m trying to find it. And I’m taking you along with me through my articles.

A Way Forward

I will from time to time run a “pressure relief valve” type of article. I’ll be sharing what I’m doing to try to retain what shreds of sanity I have left. Maybe asking for or sharing hints and tips. Kind of like we are just having coffee or tea and talking.

I don’t know what I’ll have to say in these articles, because I’ve never lived through anything this momentous before.

Life will go on, somehow – just differently, and sadly, probably without some of the people who are here now.

In addition to an occasional Pandemic article, I’ll also run my regular articles so that there is some semblance of normalcy – plus – you may have extra time now to work on your genealogy! There has to be a silver lining someplace, right?

There’s a section at the end of this article that you may enjoy with several goodies.

Working at Home

I don’t know how many of you have worked from home previously, but I’ve had a home office for years now and I love it.

Structure is important, especially in terms of making time for other family members, and other activities.

I should talk, because it’s literally 1:30 in the morning and I’m “working” by writing this article.

I would wager that you’ve already guessed that I really enjoy writing and that activity brings a level of composure to my life. I feel like I’m organizing things and helping others at the same time.

Writing helps me gather my thoughts and in terms of genealogy and genetics, to organize my research.

Make sure your work area is comfortable and that you get up and walk around at least once an hour. Go outside (just not around other people) and enjoy some sunshine. Exercise in some way.

Meter the Bad News

I’m to the point where I almost hate to open my eyes every morning because right now, there’s always bad news. Everyone needs an emotional break, so I’ve implemented a metering system.

I do check in the morning, because if I need to actually know or do something, I do not wish to be ignorant. Plus, I have those immediate family members in harms way, daily. For me, the anxiety of not knowing is worse than the anxiety of knowing the worst, but everyone is different.

I also read a chapter of an ongoing “book” that the Appalachian Storyteller author, Stephen Hollen, posts every single morning on his personal page on Facebook. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to this. He might be responsible for any sanity I have left in the end😊. I will actually grieve when this series is finished.

I check CNN but I do not check what I consider to be inflammatory news sources – ever. I’ve taken a “just the facts” approach.

I do check the headlines 2 or 3 times a day for “big news,” but that’s it. Big news today is the earthquake in Salt Lake City. I’m glad all of my friends there are checking in, shaken (literally) but OK.

If there is truly something critical, I will notice it on FaceBook which I also monitor periodically, but not constantly.

In the evening, I watch one particular program that provides a factual summary of the day’s important news.

In other words, I control the amount and timing of what I’m exposed to. Otherwise, I’d just be overwashed with constant negativity.

Relief

Everyone has their own “go to” activities that make them feel better. Self-medicating, hopefully in a healthy way. Mine are, in no particular order:

  • Genealogy
  • Genetic genealogy
  • Reading
  • Quilting
  • Writing (articles like this, 52 ancestor stories, etc.)

I have trouble concentrating on the first three items if something else is bothering me. I think genealogy requires too much analytical skill when I’m stressed and reading allows my mind to wander off. But quilting forces me to focus just enough that I can escape almost anything – maybe because it requires both body and mind.

I make care quilts for others which is a personal mission of sorts.

Bob quilt blurred.jpg

I shipped this one of those overnight on Monday and it arrived Tuesday morning to wrap the recipient in love. This is a signature quilt from this person’s dear friends, so I’ve blurred some of the blocks on purpose for privacy, but you can see the love nonetheless.

laptop sleeve.jpg

I also made a laptop sleeve and power supply bag over the last few days out of quilted scraps from my DNA vest. My laptop sleeve was a RootsTech casualty. This is much more “me” than a boring old black sleeve anyway and maybe with this ditty bag for the power supply, I won’t lose another one of those either. Fingers crossed.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is not new for me. Not only have I worked at home for a long time, but I’m not fond of stores and crowds. I’m perfectly happy staying at home and working on my genealogy or other projects most of the time.

In fact, several genealgists that I know are gleeful to be forced to stay at home and isolate. Do I ever understand that. A few others aren’t as pleased, because now their entire family is at home and they can’t get much genealogy done.

However, this is week 3 for me. Lots of people were ill at and following RootsTech, so I have pretty much stayed home and away from others since my return. I’ve been fine – no symptoms – but if I was going to get sick, I didn’t want to become typhoid Roberta.

I’ve never thought about social distancing much, at least not as as we now know it, until the past couple of weeks. Now as the restrictions tighten, of course every thought is measured against social distancing and what would be required, or risked. How to minimize exposure.

While we aren’t under a complete lockdown where I live, schools, restaurants and bars are closed and most people are working from home. The next step would be to “shelter in place” which I expect soon.

I’d rather do that than suffer the alternative.

Activities in Isolation

Today, my husband and I inventoried the pantry to see what we really have, and now long our food supply will last. Never did I imagine I’d ever be doing this, at least not for this reason. We discovered that we have 3 boxes of Rice-a-Roni and a whole lot of other things we had forgotten about. Who knew!!

We also have a couple cans of Spam that worked their way to the back corner. They are out of date, of course, but if we are hungry, we’re not going to care and we’d be grateful for food. Clearly, Spam would not be my first choice. I’m not sure who bought those cans or why, because I guarantee you – they weren’t on my shopping list.

We might just have a little contest to see who can come up with the most innovative creation – kind of like one of those cooking shows. Anyone for Spam-a-Roni?? Maybe fried Spam and gravy? Now that doesn’t sound too bad.

Based on what I’m seeing on Facebook, I’m thinking a whole lot of people are going to get to learn to cook “from scratch” over the next few weeks.

Having had so much luck with the pantry inventory, I suggested we start spring cleaning, which sent my husband scurrying into hibernation – self-isolating in his office. That’s OK, I really didn’t want to clean anyway.

Instead, I did a number of other things, including;

  • Worked on client’s Y DNA report (normal activity for me)
  • Published The Million Mito Project article (is that cool or what!!!)
  • Spoke with friend whose husband is gravely ill ☹ (not virus related, but very tough especially since his family can’t come to visit)
  • Petted the cats (which according to them I haven’t done in years)
  • Watched Blaine’s free webinar (still free today), LucidChart and Other Tools for Genetic Genealogy at Legacy Family Tree Webinars. I need to try MedBetterDNA.
  • Email, which is never-ending and increasing now because, hey, I needed to know how stores the American Girl Doll stores are handling the Covid-19 issue
  • Made 3 quilt blocks

Quilting

Quilting – now we’re finally to the really fun stuff.

When the going gets rough, I quilt.

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and even though that somehow got lost in the hubbub, I decided to work on a green quilt block to share with my online Genea-Quilter peeps. I grabbed the block with green, thinking it was the St. Patty’s Day block.

Christmas cat block.jpg

I discovered it was Christmas instead. Guess that one’s done several months early.

Did I mention that I had help?

Kitters helping.jpg

Meet Kitters. She and her sister, Chai, steal my pins and deposit them in their food dish and in my husband’s shoes. Gifts of the highest order.

If you have pets, be sure you have enough food for them too and shower them with extra love and attention. You’ll both benefit.

This unfinished quilt project has been laying around for some time, so I decided to make another block.

St. Pat's quilt block.jpg

Yes, this one actually IS the St. Patty’s Day block.

Winter cat quilt block.jpg

And one more for good measure. We’re supposed to get more snow this weekend, so this is appropriate.

Helpful and Uplifting Links

Thank goodness for the internet – that’s all I can say. While we are distanced physically, we can still stay in touch with people – can still interact and share.

Music is incredibly uplifting and soothing. I suggest going to YouTube, enter the name of your favorite artist, and just listen. You can also create playlists there and on your phone or iPad as well. Music helps us vocalize or express what we can’t ourselves.

Here’s a list of inspirational and useful links for your enjoyment:

  • Here’s possibly my all-time favorite song (and performer) – Joseph Groban in You Raise Me Up. This pandemic has brought home just how much we truly are dependent on the actions of each other. We must raise each other up and protect each other, now, as never before. Please listen to this soul-moving beauty.
  • Celine Dion and Josh Groban, The Prayer – this one is for you! I often play this, close my eyes and just listen – but watch it the first time because the visuals are amazing too. Melts my heart.
  • Here’s “Ode to Joy” played by musicians in a neighborhood Spain under lockdown.
  • This pianist and jazz musician is my favorite “virus video,” both playing from separate balconies.
  • Applause from balconies in Spain as people expressed their gratitude for Spain’s doctors. Doctors, medical professionals and first responders are literally on the front line risking their lives.
  • My article, Fun Genealogy Activities for Trying Times
  • Judy Russell with some additional ideas in Opportunity Knocking.
  • Looking for beauty that combines nature, gardens, flowers and inspiration? Try my other blog, Victory Garden, Day by Day.
  • I’m not LDS nor encouraging or recommending any particular religion, but preparation for being without food for a year is part of the LDS scripture. You can see what is recommended for adults and children for a year, here, and about food storage, here.

Sharing is Caring

Now that I’ve shared all of the excitement at my house, what are you doing, both to prepare for what’s approaching and as a way to keep your sanity as you implement social distancing? How are you coping? Where are you finding peace and solace?

Sharing is caring – a coping mechanism, a way of making our burdens seem lighter because we’re not alone, even though we’re socially distanced, so please share. Your ideas and comments may help someone else.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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

The Million Mito Project

I’m so pleased to introduce The Million Mito Project and to explain why you should join in the quest to trace the family tree of womankind. The Million Mito Project depends upon you!

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I was honored to announce The Million Mito Project at RootsTech on February 29, 2020. I’m sharing my slides with you here, along with the narrative.

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The Million Mito Project is a collaborative citizen science project to update the phylotree of womankind.

Team members include:

  • Miguel Vilar, Lead Scientist of the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project
  • Paul Maier, Population Geneticist at FamilyTreeDNA
  • Goran Runfeldt, Head of Research and Development at FamilyTreeDNA
  • Roberta Estes, DNAeXplain, scientist, genetic genealogist, Genographic Project Affiliate Researcher

Genographic Project Public Participation Phase Ended

The Genographic Project was launched on April 13, 2005 as a 5-year non-profit citizen-science-fueled research project with testing performed by the lab at Family Tree DNA. Unimaginably successful, the Genographic Project celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2020. I can’t tell you what a wonderful opportunity it has been to be involved with the Genographic project from its inception, and to be a part of the next chapter in this legacy of humanity.

It’s important to note that the public participation phase of the Genographic Project came to an end in 2019, meaning that kits can no longer be purchased. The Genographic database will remain online through June 30, 2020, but will be shuttered down after that time.

If you do not retrieve your Genographic results, or transfer them elsewhere before June 30, 2020, they will no longer be available to you. You can read more, here.

Even though the public participation phase has come to an end, the scientific study continues. That’s the legacy of the Genographic Project, the gift that keeps on giving.

Why DNA?

Every human alive carries the mitochondrial DNA inherited from their direct matrilineal line – your mother, her mother, her mother on up the tree into the mists of history.

This means that the Million Mito Project is relevant for every human living today – and carries critical genealogical and historical information passed to us from our matrilineal ancestors. Mitochondrial DNA is the one way that every human alive can see beyond the confines of records and available genealogy by using the gift of DNA that our ancestors bestowed up us.

It was 67 years ago on February 28th, the day before my RootsTech presentation, that Watson and Crick “discovered” DNA at Cambridge University in the Cavendish Lab.

“Discovered” is in quotes because there remains significant controversy about the fact that their discovery was predicated upon the research of Rosalind Franklin, who died and never received proper credit for her co-discovery. So really, the discovery should be credited to Watson, Crick and Franklin.

Million Mito Cambridge.png

The slide above shows me standing in the doorway of the building in which this revolutionary discovery was made a few years before I was born. Ironically, it was DNA that drew me to England.

Y DNAwas the tool that allowed the US Speaks family to connect with the UK Speaks family in Lancashire through a man who had immigrated to New Zealand. Without Y DNA, the relevant deeply-buried records would not have been found, nor the genetic “glue” to tie records to people on three continents around the world, reuniting our widely-scattered family back in our ancestral homeland. Therein lies the amazing power of DNA.

Given my career choice, I absolutely had to visit the Cavendish Lab at Cambridge, a genetic “Mecca” of sorts, as well as the British Science Museum to see the infamous DNA model. This is where the DNA journey for all genetic genealogists began.

After their momentous discovery back in 1953, Watson and Crick walked the short distance to the Eagle Pub where they lunched regularly, shown above, at right, and excitedly announced to everyone within earshot that they had just discovered “the secret of life.”

Of course, 67 years ago, in the Eagle Pub, no one understood or cared.

We care, a lot, today. Beginning 20 years ago with the founding of FamilyTreeDNA, DNA fundamentally changed genealogy forever, allowing us to unravel mysteries that could never have been solved before.

Inseparable Technologies

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Today, genealogy, genetic genealogy which focuses on the DNA aspects of genealogy and science are all inseparably intertwined. Scientific discoveries feed the genealogy and tests taken by genealogists fuel the science. It’s an infinite loop of discovery, education and unraveling.

Many times, the pieces of genealogical information we so desperately seek simply aren’t available in existing records, but we can piece together relationships and clues using the three different kinds of DNA: mitochondrial, Y DNA and autosomal. Each type of DNA has specific characteristics and provides us with unique information not obtainable any other way.

3 Kinds of DNA Address 3 Unique Challenges

Million Mito 3 Types.png

Y DNA, inheritance path shown by the blue arrow above, is passed from father to son and therefore tracks back to a male’s direct patrilineal ancestors in their tree. The Y chromosome is only contributed to male children, who pass it on to their male children, not mixed with any DNA from the mother. Therefore, except for occasional mutations, Y DNA is identical from generation to generation.

The occasional mutations are what make it possible for us to use Y DNA and mitochondrial DNAas breadcrumbs, following them infinitely back into time, before records, and eventually, before written history by connecting those mutation breadcrumbs as dots.

Today, men test their Y DNA which follows the direct patrilineal line, which is the same as the surname line in western culture, although naming practices vary in different countries and parts of the world across time. Regardless, the Y DNAconnects male testers with their ancestors through their father’s, father’s, fathers’ line – in close relationships, meaning fathers and grandfathers, as well as distantly, into the history of clans and then before the advent of surnames.

In western cultures, men taking Y DNA tests expect at least some of their matches to carry the same or similar surnames, assuming other men from that line have also tested.

Only males can test for Y DNA, because only males carry a Y chromosome. Women need to ask their brothers, father, grandfather, uncles, etc. that represent the line they wish to test.

Mitochondrial DNA, inheritance path shown by the red arrows above, is passed from mothers to both sexes of their children, but only female children pass it on. Therefore, both men and women inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mother’s direct matrilineal line. Men and women can both test for mitochondrial DNA, which reflects their mother’s, mother’s, mother’s mitochondrial DNA, on up the matrilineal line indefinitely.

In genealogical terms, mitochondrial DNA is perceived to be more difficult to use, so fewer people test, but I view mitochondrial DNA as exactly the opposite. Mitochondrial DNA represents an opportunity that cannot be afforded by other type of testing and isn’t any more difficult to use than autosomal.

The surname changes in each generation, but the DNA provides us with a rock-solid path to those common matrilineal ancestors, if people would simply test and upload their trees. Mitochondrial DNA has the potential to, and does OVERCOME the challenges surname changes in a way that no other tool can. The answers are written in our mitochondrial DNA along with the mitochondrial DNA of all of the people who descend from that female ancestor through all women to the current generation, which can be male or female.

When discouraging people from mitochondrial testing by telling them not to bother because it’s hard to use, the genealogical community actually perpetuates the problem. Here’s a wonderful series about how to understand and utilize mitochondrial DNA.

If EVERYONE would test their mitochondrial DNA, we would be breaking through brick walls at lightning speed. Mitochondrial DNA isn’t difficult because it’s harder to use, it’s difficult because not enough people have tested.

The surnames in autosomal lines are different from that of the tester too, yet genetic genealogists don’t hesitate for one second to take an autosomal test where they will need to build out trees to attempt to determine which line their matches connect through. The great news about mitochondrial DNA is that you already know which line  the connection is through – your matrilineal line.

Mitochondrial DNA and Y DNA provide laser-sighted focus on the history of one specific line, reaching deeply back in time with no admixture from the other parent. Autosomal DNA is broad, but not deep, because it is divided in half in each generation as it’s passed from parent to child.

I wrote a series of articles, here, about mitochondrial DNA with step-by-step instructions about how to use mitochondrial DNA successfully.

Autosomal DNA, the third kind of DNA testing is the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA, or the  MyHeritageDNA, AncestryDNA and 23andMe tests which provide matches to people from all of our genealogical lines. In the graphic above, I’ve represented autosomal DNA by the broken green arrow, indicating that autosomal provides matches and links to some of the people who descend from common ancestors, but not all.

In each generation, autosomal DNA is divided in half, meaning that each person receives half of their mother’s and half of their father’s autosomal DNA. We match all of our first and second cousins, but only about 90% of our third cousins who descend from our common great-great-grandparents, in the green arrow generation. As we move further back in time generationally, we match fewer and fewer of the people who descend from common ancestors.

Therefore, I classify autosomal DNA as broad, meaning we match descendants from more than one line, but not deep, because it only positively reaches back 3 generations, often reaches back about 5 or 6 generations, but generally not more than 9 or 10 generations. The ONLY way to see back further in time than autosomal matching is Y and mitochondrial DNA.

Y and mitochondrial DNA is deep, meaning we each match only one line for each type of DNA, reaching very far back in time, but not broad. Therefore, in order to “collect” the Y and mitochondrial DNA of each of our ancestors, we need to find the appropriate cousins to test to provide us with that information.

What Can Y and Mitochondrial DNA Do for Us?

Fortunately, Y and mitochondrial DNA have the ability to help us with close relatives and matches as well as more distant history.

Y and mitochondrial DNA both have the ability to:

  • Assist us genealogically to connect in recent generations utilizing surnames, trees and geography
  • Facilitate identification of each lineage further back in time by utilizing full haplogroups
  • Provide us with the ability to view the geographic locations of the earliest known ancestors of our matches on our Matches Map at Family Tree DNA which can provide clues as to the identity of common ancestors
  • Document our ancestors’ migrations and locations where haplogroup clusters are found throughout the world
  • Identify the “ethnicity” of those ancestors by haplogroups that occur only in specific portions of the world (like the Americas), or unique populations (such as Jewish people.)
  • Granular personal haplogroup allowing testers to use the public Y tree and public mitochondrial tree.

Trees of Mankind and Womankind

Aside from our own personal genealogy, Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, tracking those mutations back in time, has scribed the history of the migration of mankind – and womankind – which means it tells us where our ancestors came from, and went.

Million Mito trees.png

On the map at left, the basic Y DNA haplogroups are shown expanding out of Africa, into the Middle East and then into Europe, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Americas. Think of haplogroups as large genetic clans, defined by mutations that group us together, and separate us apart as well.

Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups followed the same paths of course. Different locations in the world have specific haplogroups further broken down into sub-haplogroups associated with general geographic locations.

For example, Native American aboriginal people in North, Central and South America are defined by subsets of Y DNA haplogroups C and Q, and mitochondrial haplogroups A, B, C, D  and X.

It’s testing by many people, citizen scientists and genealogists, people just like you, that have allowed scientists to define these haplogroups and their migration paths across the world. We still continue to discover, define and refine that pathway today. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Our knowledge is ever-changing and expanding. There’s so much more to learn. That’s why we’ve launched The Million Mito Project.

Connecting the Dots Using Mutations

How do scientists, and genealogists, connect those dots from today’s testers to their ancestors?

Mutations, called SNPs, single nucleotide polymorphisms, occur at a specific point in time and the resulting variant (mutated value) is then passed to all of the descendants of the person in whose DNA they occurred.

These haplogroup-defining mutations accumulate over time to form twigs, then branches, then the haplotree backbone as we move further back in time. On the slide below:

  • Branches – green and magenta dots
  • Twigs – white, yellow and grey dots
  • Leaves – teal, violet (line 10) and black dots

Million Mito mutations.png

In this example, the progenitor is shown as a male, but the concept is the same for any mutation.

  • The progenitor has two sons, “Line 1” and Line 2.”
  • A magenta mutation occurred between the father and son in “Line 1”, and you can see that it’s passed to every descendant of “Line 1.”
  • A green mutation occurred between the father and son in “Line 2”, which is also passed to all of Line 2’s descendants.
  • “Line 3” had a white mutation, which was passed to his descendants.
  • “Line 6” had a grey mutation which was passed to his descendants, and so forth.

In real life, mutations generally don’t accrue this rapidly, but the compressed time in this illustration makes the generational inheritance of mutations easy to see.

In both Y and mitochondrial DNA, SNPs are what form branches of the tree. In our case, the progenitor would be the trunk, Line 1 and Line 2 would be major branches, and with each succeeding SNP generation, smaller branches and twigs being created. Multiply this mutation process over hundreds and thousands of years to construct the Y tree of mankind and the mitochondrial tree of womankind.

The Explosive Expansion of the Y DNA Tree

In the past decade, great strides have been made in fleshing out the Y DNA tree.

Million Mito Y tree.png

The key to this success has been thousands of men purchasing the Big Y test at Family Tree DNA with the hope of learning more about their paternal genealogy; first the Big Y, then the Big Y-500 and then in 2019 upgrading to the Big Y-700 with significantly increased capabilities.

Every tester can see their place on the Y block tree on their personal page, along with their matches.

Everyone, whether they have taken the Y DNA test or not can view any haplogroup’s location on the Family Tree DNA public Y DNA tree, here.

Mitochondrial DNA Tree

However, mitochondrial DNA has been neglected. The goal of the Million Mito Project is to change that.

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In March 2017, FamilyTreeDNA updated to mitochondrial DNA Build 17 of the mitochondrial tree which included 5437 haplogroups extracted from just under 25,000 sequences. Family Tree DNA created an easily accessible public tree, here, complete with geographic locations for testers assigned to each haplogroup.

To date, the various mitochondrial builds have been created using GenBank submissions, but the majority of testers don’t upload their results to GenBank.

The Genographic Project and FamilyTreeDNA databases together hold more than half a million full sequence mitochondrial tests, far more than the 25,000 utilized for Build 17.

What is a Full Mitochondrial DNA Sequence?

Mitochondrial DNA is comprised of 16,569 locations in total. Initial DNA testing was expensive, so the mitochondria was divided into three regions for testing, analogous to a clock face:

Million Mito clock.png

  • HVR1 (hypervariable region 1) – think of this area as 5 till the hour until the hour (5 minutes)
  • HVR2 (hypervariable region 2) – think of this as the hour until 5 after the hour (5 minutes)
  • Coding region (CR) – think of this as the space between 5 after the hour to 5 till the hour (50 minutes)

All three regions together, meaning the entire clock face, is known as the full mitochondrial sequence, or FMS.

In order to obtain a complete haplogroup designation, one must test the entire mitochondrial sequence, all 16,569 locations. The full sequence is also necessary for maximum genealogical usefulness.

Tests like 23andMe and LivingDNA provide testers with a base haplogroup as part of an autosomal test by testing a subset of approximately 1200 mitochondrial locations known to define the upper branches of the mitochondrial haplotree. I wrote about the differences, using examples, here.

There is nothing wrong with those tests, as far as they go, but they aren’t useful except as an exclusion for genealogy. In other words, if you are estimated to be haplogroup J1c, you clearly aren’t related on that line to someone that’s H1a. You may or may not be related in hundreds or thousands of years to someone else who is estimated as haplogroup J1c. You need both a full haplogroup designation, which in my case is J1c2f, and matching to make that determination. You can only receive those features by testing your full mitochondrial sequence at FamilyTreeDNA.

For mitochondrial DNA to be relevant for genealogy, or science, every location must be tested and matched to other testers. To do otherwise is analogous to having only a few of the words in your ancestor’s will and attempting to draw conclusions from only a small portion of the available data.

Full sequence mitochondrial DNA tests benefit genealogy and science too. Better yet, mitochondrial DNA gives us something to work with when we’ve exhausted all records and we have nothing else available.

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Estimates today are that at least 30 million people have taken autosomal tests for genealogy, yet less than a million have taken a mitochondrial DNA test.

When autosomal testing was new, close matches were seldom found, but as the number of testers increased, it became common to find close matches of family members you didn’t realize were testing – or close relatives you don’t know. In other words, the usefulness of these tests is in direct proportion to the number of people who test.

Approximately 2% of autosomal testers have taken full mitochondrial sequence tests. Imagine how many brick walls would come crashing down if all testers, male and female, tested their mitochondrial DNA AND provided trees.

We have many examples of success stories today, even with limited testing. People discover that their ancestors were Native American, or not, Jewish, or not, African, or not. They discover their ancestor’s siblings along with breadcrumbs connecting records and people in two places as descendants of the same family.

You can read a few success stories here, here, here, here, here, here, and here – you get the idea, right?

Sometimes mitochondrial DNA is all we have when a woman’s surname is missing. But guess what – before you can be successful – you have to test. It pains me greatly to hear well-intentioned but misinformed people discouraging potential test takers.

Please add your own mitochondrial DNA success story to the comments at the end of this article so genealogists can see for themselves the power of mitochondrial DNA.

Benefits

The Million Mito Project will benefit testers in the following ways:

  • Additional testers and matches
  • Adding to and refining the haplotree which results in providing more useful genealogical information between matches
  • Identification of and naming many new haplotree branches
  • Aging and dating of the branches of the mitochondrial haplotree, enabling groups of testers to estimate when their most recent common ancestor lived

Comparing my own results to those of my closest matches, and those of individuals within the projects I administer that have authorized me to view their full sequence results, I can see that many groups of people exist that share common mutations and likely qualify to become a sub-haplogroup.

As with the Y-DNA tree, FamilyTreeDNA and the Genographic Project are in the best position, collaboratively, to combine forces to rewrite the tree of womankind. Given that 25,000 samples resulted in 5,000 haplogroups previously, I can only imagine the impact of one million testers.

Will you be part of that million?

Participation

Here’s how you can participate.

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  • If you tested with the Genographic Project before November of 2016, you can transfer your results to FamilyTreeDNA, for free, by clicking here, then “Upload DNA Data,” then click on “Nat Geo’s Geno 2.0 DNA,” shown below.

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The Genographic version 1 and 2 results are partial, not full sequence, and after transferring you will be able to upgrade to the full sequence level.

  • If you tested with the Genographic Project after November 2016, your test was run in a different lab, on a different chip platform, and you cannot transfer your results to FamilyTreeDNA.
  • If you opted-in to anonymous research through the Genographic Project, your results will be included. If not, you can still participate by purchasing a full sequence test at FamilyTreeDNA and you’ll receive genealogical matching as well.
  • If you tested with Genographic after November 2016 and don’t know if you opted-in to research through the Genographic project, but you would like to, please contact Dr. Miguel Vilar at mvilar@ngs.org. If you tested before November 2016, simply transfer your results to FamilyTreeDNA as described above.
  • If you tested directly at Family Tree DNA at the HVR1 or HVR2 level which is called the “Plus” test, you can upgrade to the full sequence level by signing on to your account and clicking on “Full” to upgrade.

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  • If you’ve tested at FamilyTreeDNA at the full sequence level, there’s nothing to purchase. You’re all set – and thank you!

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Million Mito Genographic Transfer and Participation Summary

I’ve created a grid to summarize the three Genographic test types and how each can participate in The Million Mito Project. None of the Genographic results will be available to testers or to transfer after June 30, 2020.

Genographic Test Type Date Participate in Million Mito Project? FTDNA Transfer available (before June 30, 2020) What Transfers? Upgrade Needed to Full Sequence?
Geno 1 2005-2015 Yes, via transfer Yes HVR1 values Yes
Geno 2 July 2012-Nov 2016 Yes, via transfer Yes Partial haplogroup SNPs only Yes
Geno 2 Next Generation Nov 2016-2019 (tested through Helix) Through Genograhic, only if opted- in to Genographic Research, otherwise test at Family Tree DNA No Transfer not available Order full sequence test from FTDNA to obtain matching and other benefits

Family Tree DNA Participation Summary

Test Type Participate in Million Mito Project? Upgrade Needed to Full Sequence?
HVR1, HVR2 Yes, need upgrade Yes
Full Mitochondrial Sequence (FMS) Yes No upgrade needed

Be One in a Million

Science needs you.

Your ancestors are waiting to be found.

Will you join us in the quest to advance science while solving the mystery of your ancestors by taking or upgrading to a full sequence mitochondrial DNA test?

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Become a part of history. Click here to test, upgrade or transfer your mitochondrial results, today!

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Sarah Rash (1748-1829), Church Founder and Grandmother of Nearly 100 – 52 Ancestors #276

While we have very few records about Sarah, directly, during her lifetime, we do know a substantial amount due to the Shepherd Bible that begins with her birth.

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Sarah’s Birth

The Bible says that Sarah Shepherd, formerly Sarah Rash, daughter of Joseph and Mary Rash was born in Spotsylvania County Virginia State 23rd of April, Annoque Domini 1748, and is now the espoused wife of Robert Shepherd, aforesaid.

Thank goodness the family recorded this information because I don’t think we would have ever made this discovery any other way.

We don’t have any information about Sarah’s life in Spotsylvania County before her marriage to Robert Shepperd by the parson of the church, James Mcrae on October 1st, 1765. “The church” at that time in America would be the Anglican church. Everybody was required to attend, on pain of being fined for one’s absence.

Sarah was only just over 17 years old when she married Robert who was an “older man” at the advanced age of 26. At least he would be able to provide for his forthcoming family.

The Bible record goes on to tell us that Joseph and Sarah had several children. Given their first child’s birth date, they set about beginning their family right away.

The following children were reported to have been born in Spotsylvania County.

  • Elizabeth Shepherd, born July 23, 1766
  • James Shepherd, born March 8, 1768
  • Ann Shepherd, born March 8, 1770
  • Possibly space for a child that died
  • Mary Shepherd, born January 17, 1773
  • Agnes Shepherd, born February 8, 1775

The Bible states that the following children were born on the Reddies River in Wilkes County, NC – but I suspect either the year or location of Rhoda’s birth is in error, given that the Bible also says, in 2 places, that they departed for Wilkes County in December 1777, fully 9 months after Rhoda was born.

  • Rhoda Shepherd, born March 23, 1777
  • John Shepherd born August 26, 1779
  • Sally Shepherd born February 27, 1782 (Also noted in different writing, Sarah written in above Sally, Wm Judd’s mother, died November 1858)*
  • Possibly space for one child that died
  • Fanny Shepherd, born February 13 ,1785
  • Rebekah Shepherd, born September 26, 1787

*Note that the Bible descended through the Judd family to the person who owned it in 1991.

It looks like Sarah buried two, maybe three babies. It’s obvious that only the children that survived were recorded in the Bible. What is less obvious is when the Bible was written, or by whom. I wish the Bible front pages had been included as well, because the date that the Bible was printed might lend understanding to the provenance of the Bible itself.

Neither Robert nor Sarah could write, based on the fact that they only signed with Xs, so it obviously was not them who made those Bible entries. We know that schools existed in Wilkes County, so it’s possible that this Bible was the Bible of one of their children, possibly Sarah who married William Judd. However, it’s also possible that the minister or someone else who could write made these entries. Ot’s also quite possible that this information was written into THIS Bible years after those births and Robert’s death occurred.

Deaths

Robert Shepherd’s death is recorded, but Sarah’s is not, and neither are the deaths of any of the other children or grandchildren. Not even the two sons what we know died before their father’s death.

In the margins on the death page, we find the calculations for figuring the age at death of Robert. This strongly suggests that the 1817 entry was made at the time Robert died.

He was born in 1739 and died in 1817, so was just under 78 years of age.

Rash Shepherd death calc.png

Now that we know what was going on with the margin dates, what other clues can we find?

The calculation above Robert’s is for someone else who died in 1817 but was born in 1777. Was that Rhoda? Apparently not, given that she had children born after 1817. Who could that have been?

Rash margin.png

In the top margin are two additional calculations.

Sarah was born in 1748, and even though her death is not recorded in this Bible, I suspect strongly that she died in 1829 at age 81.

I’m confused by the calculation on the left, because no matter how I calculate this, it looks incorrect. My best guess is that someone was trying to “calculate how old Daddy would have been” when Sarah died.

We have no signatures of Sarah on deeds during Robert’s lifetime, nor other records, save one, so we have to infer what was happening in her life at that point based on what we know about Robert and their children.

Moving

In 1775, Sarah and Robert were celebrating their 10th anniversary with 5 children. An unwelcome intruder at their 10th anniversary was the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. What a frightening prospect. Perhaps after putting the kids to bed, they had time to sit beside the fire and talk about what the future might hold.

They needed to make important, life-altering decisions. Today we know they survived, but at that time, the future was uncertain and their family was young and vulnerable. One wrong decision or even a bad-luck turn of events and they might not survive, or they might lose their land or a million other bad things might happen during a war – an uprising no less – and the colonists were on the “mutinying” side. If the insurrection was “put down,” it had the potential to be quite violent and bloody. What was “right” and what was prudent?

The Revolutionary War was descending upon them. Times were uncertain. In July 1776, North Carolina would confiscate the King’s lands and make that land available to claim. Much land lay vacant in Wilkes County, just sitting there for the taking and building a cabin. Should they leave Virginia?

Virginia and North Carolina were both leading the way out of monarchy and into a democracy, forming a Bill of Rights. Yet, Robert and Sarah couldn’t be certain how this would unfold in the future. How would this chapter of history end? Which side would they be on? It was a gamble either way.

In November of 1775, Robert’s brother John Shepherd sold his land and the following November, in 1776, Robert Shepherd sold his land in Spotsylvania County.

The Bible tells us that the family removed from Spotsylvania County on December 7, 1777, 13 months later. I can’t help but wonder if they actually left in December 1776. Where would they have lived and how would they have earned a living for more than a year without land? They were certainly planning for this move for several months.

They set out in December, after the fall crops were harvested with the spring crops yet to be planted after their arrival in their new home. Sarah would probably have gone by the cemetery one last time to say a final goodbye to the child she most likely had and buried in the spring of 1772 in a now-forgotten place on the North Anna River, perhaps near a tract of land called Elk Neck, close to where her parents lived.

Sarah’s father, Joseph Rash died about 1767, so perhaps Sarah’s child would rest under the watchful eye of her father, buried side by side.

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The North Anna River runs for almost 100 miles today, with present day Spotsylvania County being further north. At that time, Spotsylvania County was the western frontier and encompassed this entire area.

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This 1776 map shows the North Anna.

Regardless of whether they left in 1776 or 1777, as the Bible says, they set out for Wilkes County, North Carolina, probably in a slow wagon train with family members and neighbors. Had they selected Wilkes County as their destination before they left, and if so, how and why?

Reddies River

Sarah Rash and Robert Shepherd had settled on the Reddies River in Wilkes County, North Carolina by April 24, 1778 when Robert made a land entry for 200 acres of land near the ford of Reddis River bordering his brother, John’s line. George McNiel also accompanied the two brothers from Spotsylvania County. George McNiel either was or became a minister of the Baptist faith.

The Shepherd’s would build a meeting house on John’s land no later than 1783. The congregation met sometimes at Robert and Sarah’s house while a new meeting house was being built in 1797 and 1798. They then attended the new Reddies River Baptist Church until their deaths.

On the surface, Robert and Sarah’s lives appear to be fairly mundane and bucolic. They moved to the new frontier, claimed land, built a cabin, had children and lived happily ever after. Or that’s how it would seem on the surface. However, by reading the church minutes and filling in some blanks, that’s not exactly how life along the Reddies River unfolded.

Robert Shepherd and Sarah Rash had 10 known children, meaning 10 children who were recorded in the Bible. We don’t know if they had additional children who died at birth or very young and were not recorded, but it would seem so based on the birth dates and gaps between the known children.

As with mothers of that time and place, much of Sarah’s life was devoted to being pregnant, giving birth to and caring for her children – in addition of course to spinning, weaving cloth, making clothes, cooking, churning butter and pretty much anything else that needed to be done.

What do we know about Sarah’s children? Let’s look a brief summary of each child’s life to peek into Sarah’s activities.

Who Were Sarah’s Children

Elizabeth Shepherd, my ancestor and their first-born arrived on July 23, 1766, married William McNiel sometime prior to 1784 and died after 1830 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Elizabeth and William moved from Wilkes County to Claiborne County about 1811. After their marriage, and before 1810 when they sold land on the Lewis Fork, they had moved to neighboring Ashe County which was formed in 1799. They are never found in the Reddies River Church minutes, which is a good indication that they had moved to Ashe County before 1798. In 1799, William McNiel received a land grant on the South Fork of the New River, so it’s safe to assume that Elizabeth and William had moved several miles west of Robert and Sarah’s homestead.

So Sarah’s firstborn child lived somewhat close, moved back and then removed far away where it’s unlikely that Sarah ever saw her or those grandchildren again.

James Shepherd, Sarah’s second-born child arrived on March 8, 1768 and died sometime between 1800 and 1810 without marrying. I have always wondered if this child had a disability of some sort. It’s unusual for a man in his 30s or 40s to never marry or purchase land.

It’s certain that James’ death weighted heavily on Sarah’s heart, especially if he was a child with special needs.

Nancy Ann Shepherd, their third child was born March 8, 1770, exactly two years to the day after her brother’s birth. Nancy married William McQueary in 1787 in Wilkes County and they are definitely found in the church minutes. William is shown in the census in Wilkes County in 1810, but not 1820. They moved to Pulaski County, Kentucky, apparently before 1820, where Nancy died on July 12 in either 1833 or 1835. The Reddies River church minutes shed a lot of light on their lives.

From reading the church minutes, as a mother, I can assure you that Sarah worried about Nancy.

It’s likely that a child was born to Robert and Sarah and died between daughters Nancy and Mary, probably in 1772. This would be the child that Sarah left behind when the family moved to Wilkes County, buried in a grave, probably near to her father. Leaving the grave of a child behind is difficult, even though that makes no logical sense. It may be a mother thing.

Mary, also known as Polly Shepherd, the fourth recorded child was born on January 17, 1773 and married James McNiel about 1790, brother to William McNiel who had married Mary’s eldest sister a few years earlier. They too moved to Ashe County initially, but in 1802, Mary’s father, Robert, sold land to the young couple. Mary and James were close to Mary’s parents, as Sarah requested that James administer Robert Shepherd’s estate at his death in 1817. I’m surprised that we don’t find Mary and James in the church minutes, but they are absent. I suspect that perhaps they lived closer to the Lewis Fork Church where George McNiel, James’ father, was the minister until George’s death in about 1805. Reddies River and Lewis Fork Church shared both a minister and a moderator for many years, so clearly they were closely affiliated as sister-churches.

Sarah was clearly very close to this couple. I wonder if this is why Robert sold them land, to entice them back to the Reddies River. Once back, they never left.

Agnes Shepherd, the fifth child was born on February 9, 1775 and married Thomas Irwin in 1791 or 1792. They had a dozen children and moved to Russell County, Kentucky in 1829 where he died in 1853 and Agnes in 1856. They too are found in the church records.

Since this couple didn’t remove until after Sarah’s presumed death, she would have been close to these grandkids.

Rhoda Shepherd was born sixth on March 23, 1777. There is some discrepancy about whether she was actually born in Virginia or North Carolina. She married John Judd and in 1827 or 1828 moved to Ohio where they become Mormon, then moved on to Wayne County, Indiana where John died in 1838. Rhoda moved on west, living on the DesMoines River in Iowa when her daughter Margaret married Eller Stoker in 1839. John Judd was very active in the Reddies River church, appointed as a Wilkes County Justice in 1816, and is regularly found in the court minutes.

Sarah would have been Rhoda and family regularly at church as well as in the community. It looks like Rhoda and John waited until Sarah’s death to move on.

John Shepherd, the seventh child was born on April 26, 1779 in Wilkes County. He married Mary Kilby on October 13, 1802, but probably died a few weeks later in December. In any case, his death occurred before Mary became pregnant. In January, Mary requested bond as John’s administrator. I surely wonder what befell John.

We don’t know what caused John’s death, but his untimely death right after his marriage when he had so much to live for has tragedy written all over it.

A child was likely born to Sarah Rash Shepherd and died in 1781. Was this the first grave in what would become the Deep Ford Hill cemetery?

Sarah, known as Sally Shepherd, the eighth recorded child, was born on August 27, 1782 in Wilkes County. She married William Judd about 1802, brother of John Judd who married her sister. In 1805, Robert Shepherd sold land to the young couple who eventually had 10 children. In 1829, they removed to Wayne County, Indiana, then to Madison County, Indiana, and on to Newtown, Sullivan County, Missouri where Sarah died in November 1858. The Shepherd Bible descended through this line.

It appears that Sarah lived with this couple for the last dozen years of her life.

It’s likely that another child was born to Sarah Rash Shepherd and died in 1784. Another tiny wooden casket. Another funeral.

Frances, known as Fanny Shepherd, Sarah’s ninth child, was born on February 13, 1785 and married Larkin Pumphrey about 1803. They had 9 children and removed to Pulaski County, Kentucky between 1814 and 1816. By 1830, the family was in Fayette County, Indiana with 7 children where I lose Frances’s trail. She and Larkin are found in the Reddies River church minutes.

Larkin had some challenges that are revealed in the church minutes as well, and I can assure you that Sarah worried about Fanny. She may even have had a “chat” with Larkin at some point.

Rebecca Shepherd, the eighth and last child was born on September 26, 1787 when Sarah was 39 years old. Rebecca married Amos Harmon in 1806, having 13 children. They moved to Richmond, Indiana between 1826 and 1831, then about 1835 on to Somonauk, DeKalb County, Illinois as one of the first settlers where Rebekah died in 1836.

Rebecca may have left Wilkes County before her mother’s death, or she may have postponed that decision until after Sarah passed over. It would have been very difficult for Sarah to say goodbye, forever, to yet another child as approached and then passed her 80th birthday.

It’s possible that additional children were born to Sarah after Rebecca and subsequently  died. In 1789, when the next child would have been born, Sarah would have been 41 and could have potentially had one or two more children.

The Reddies River Church

Robert and Sarah, along with some of their children are listed in 1798 among the founding members of the Reddies River Church. Note that Robert’s brother, John’s wife, was also named Sarah. Robert Shepherd and Sarah Rash did not own a slave in 1798, so Grace belonged to John and Sarah Shepherd.

Shepherd Reddies River 1798 charter membership

Two of Sarah’s daughters, both married to the McNiel brothers, were already living in what would become Ashe County by 1798 so they are obvously not founding members of the Reddies River Church.

Daugher Nancy McQueary and husband William McQueary are both listed as church members.

Daughter Agnes Irwin is listed too, but where is her husband, Thomas Irwin?

Sarah’s son, James Shepherd, is listed, but would perish soon after. I surely wish those church minutes would have recorded deaths.

Children, meaning those undersage, seems to be omitted.

The church minutes reflect the principles of their Baptist faith when founding this church along with the Shepherd family’s continued involvement with the fledgling church over the years. What we don’t know is why the group abandoned the Deep Ford Church, reportedly at the top of Deep Ford Hill, although I’m not at all convinced that it wasn’t at the bottom of that hill, at or near the actual “Deep Ford” of Reddies River, probably on John Shepherd’s land.

The congregation left both the building and the name behind. Did the church burn perhaps, or was it something else? If so, what?

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After this initial formation, Robert is next mentioned on December 1, 1800 when two members (not Robert) came forward to confess that they had drank too much. Not only that, but Lewis Fork Church where George McNiel was minister sent Reddis River a letter stating that no pastor should have to care for more than one church because the other churches were destitute for a pastor. Reddies River Church members would pray about this and look to the Lord for a Minister and Deacon.

By this point in time, George McNiel whose family had journeyed with the Shepherd family from Spotsylvania County was 80 or perhaps even slightly older. He was no young man to be preaching every Sunday in a different church and ridng horseback between them in all types of weather, in addition to being the County Register of Deeds.

Church on the first Saturday of January 1801 was to take place at Robert Shepherd’s, but “fell through” on account of bad weather. They met the first Saturday in February instead. Today, church services are typically held on Sunday and weekly, not monthly.

The transporation to and from church, based on the church location and their land, could have taken an entire day using a farm wagon pulled by the horses.

On April 18th, the church members again met at Robert Shepherd’s and “at a call meeting after divine service opend a door for admision and received Thos Irwin by expereance.”

This was daughter, Agnes’s husband, now brought into the fold. He wasn’t on the original list because he had not yet joined the church.

This does make me wonder if Robert had a home more substantial than the typical log cabin. Assuming that the church membership didn’t dwindle from the original 23, and people brought their children along, Robert and Sarah’s house would have had to be large enough to hold at least 50 people, if not substantially more. Or, perhaps they met in the barn – but surely not during the winter months. Those would have been short services, indeed.

In May of 1801, “brother Robert Shepherd’s sister Sarah Jinnings joined by letter,” which means she had been a member in good standing of another church.

This tells us that at least 3 of Robert’s siblings wound up in Wilkes County.

The same day, “Brother Thomas Irwin was baptised but Ben Darnald refused to be baptised.” Why would one “confess their sins” before the entire congregation, but then refuse baptism? This is a bit confusing. A great deal of pressure was likely leveraged against Ben.

The Darnell’s lived “up the mountain” near the Vannoy family. In 1787, Benjamin and Joseph Darnell, born in 1780 according to court records, orphans of John Darnell and Rachel Vannoy were bound to Andrew Vannoy to learn to farm.

In August 1801, it was stated in the church minutes that Brother John Judd would attend the association in the room of brother Robert Shepherd. I wonder why Robert couldn’t attend and where the association met.

On December 5th, the church met at Robert Shepherd’s house and “concluded it was necessary to have a stock laid up for the expense of the church and that brother Robert Shepherd and brother John Shepherd were to receive produce and turn it into money and keep the money in their hands until called for by the church.”

I have to laugh, because I clearly know what is meant, but I can’t help but imagine Robert magically “turning produce into money.” Other than paying the minister, I wonder why the church at that time needed money.

On February 6, 1802, church met at Robert Shepherd’s again, and the minutes reflect an ongoing close alliance with Lewis Fork Church.

In 1803, Larkin Pumphrey and his wife joined the church, but left permanently in 1814. Larkin of course was married to Fanny Shepherd in 1803 so they joined about the time they married. Joining a church as “man and wife” instead of as someone’s child who was “brought to church” was probably a rite of passage. Besides that, you got to be called, “Mrs. Pumphrey” or “Sister Pumphrey” instead of “just” Fanny Shepherd.

On January 3, 1803, the church appointed both Robert and John Shepherd to “sight Brother Larkin Pumphrey to come to meeting.” Larkin came forward at the next meeting and “gave satisfaction for some misconduct.” In 1811 he was again repremanded about “his fighting” which may be a clue about his issue in 1803.

This entry in January the same year that Larkin and Fanny married causes me to wonder if Robert and Sarah may have had some misgivings about this marriage.

Saturday, February 5th, 1803 was apparently quite the day.

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Two of Sarah’s son-in-laws were called to answer for their behavior – having rude company and allowing dancing in one’s house. IMAGINE!! This must have been scandalous!

Two church services later, on April 2, 1803, John Pumphrey was brought before the church for profane swearing. William McQuary and brother Robert Shepherd were nominated to “stand in the place of deacons,” giving them until next December to look for a deacon.

Also in April, Rhody and John Judd “tuck letters of dismission,” meaning they were joining a church elsewhere which can sometimes signal a move.

Did Sarah feel a bit like she was trying to herd cats, keeping her kids in line with the church’s view of how life was supposed to be led, and trying to keep her sons-in-law out of trouble too?

On July 2nd, Robert Shepherd was chosen to “stand in that place of a Deacon.”

In December 1803, William Judd (no mention of wife) petitioned for dismissal.

In February 1804, Larkin Pumphrey and Fanny “took letters” meaning they were leaving the church and moving their membership elsewhere.

This could well signal a rift in the family.

On July 1, 1804, Robert Shepherd along with Thomas Johnson and John McQueary were chosen as delegates to the association. Knowing the name of the association would give us insight into where Robert traveled and how long Sarah might have been tending the homeplace by herself.

Perhaps her children or sons-in-law looked in on her and helped when necessary.

In the book, History of North Carolina Baptists by George William Paschal, he states that Flat Rock Church assisted Deep Ford or Reddies River church with its constitution. In 1792, the Reddies River church was a member of the Yadkin Association which met at the “Deep Ford on Ready’s River, Wilkes County,” but by 1801 they were in the Mountain Association of which the author finds no mention. However, the Brushy Mountain Association is mentioned multiple times.

On Saturday, February 2, 1808, sister Phebe Shepherd, a member of Brier Creek Church confessed that she was not in fellowship this church nor could she take a seat with them. The church appointed Robert Shepherd and Brother Johnson to request her “to come to our next meeting and tell the cause…”

In March 1808, Rhody and John Judd joined the church again by letter.

Amos Harmon joined the church in 1808 as well, and left in 1830.

In June 1808 the church decided that the male members would pay 1.00 each to pay brother James Parson to “attend them onst a month yearly.” It’s odd, today, to think of a church only meeting 12 times per year.

On Saturday, January 1809, William McQueary was drinking to much again and was excluded. John Judd was made a deacon and Robert Shepherd “shall be the Elder of the church the church appointed him to be the man.” An elder is similar to a Deacon who can sometimes function as a pastor as well. Elders participate in the “presbytery” which denoted their ordination council.

In November 1808, Amos Harmon was appointed to “site” William McQuary to come to the next meeting. Apparently the church had requested William’s appearance and he had not complied. “A rumer was about has come forrod…allegation laid into the church against William McQuary for his drinking two much referred till next meeting.”

In February, 1809, “Robert Shepherd was chargd to the work of the Eldership.”

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The “Imposition of Hands” is more typically called the “laying on of hands” today, and it part of the ritual of ordination, the act of giving a blessing or healing. Does this mean that John Judd was something akin to a “lay minister?”

Agnes and Thomas Irwin had apparently left and came back, joining by letter in 1809.

This was a big day for the family. Were old rifts being healed or was this just normal expansion and shrinkage?

In March of 1810, Larkin Pumphrey was acknowledged into their Christian Fellowship.

In June of 1810, Nancy McQuary was sited to come to the next meeting to explain why she had not been attending monthly meetings. The next month, she came forward and gave satisfaction. Clearly, if she had simply been ill or pregnant, everyone would have already known that, so something else was going on. I wonder if this had something to do with William’s drinking. I surely hope she was not being abused.

In February 1811, Larkin Pumphrey came forward to talk to the church about his fighting. The next month, he was received into Christian fellowship. In August, he is summoned again but in September gave satisfaction for his fighting. It seems that Larkin had a chronic “fighting problem,” which maked me wonder if he had a chronic alcohol problem too.

In October of 1811, William Judd is vistiing the church at Old Fields on behalf of this church.

In November 1812, Agnes and Thomas Irwin received a letter and left the church but were back again in November of 1813.

On the second Saturday of December, Thomas Irwin was to “site” Amos Harmon, his wife’s sister’s husband to come to meeting “to answer to some things about his conduct at Muster,” but the church acquitted him.

This tells us, at least, that the men did attend muster. I wonder when that practice stopped.

In January 1813, a report was taken up against Amos Harmon and referred to next meeting, but in January 1814, “the affair of Amos Harmon taken up,” the church acquitted him. I wish they had told us more.

Sally Judd joined the church in September 1813 by baptism. She was about 31 years of age and the fact that she had not previously joined the church was probably weighing heavily on the minds of both of her parents.

In 1814, William Judd along with his brother John, Thomas Johnson and Amos Harmon were to determine if a member should be excluded or not.

In October 1815, Amos Harmon was excluded from the church, “concerning his loos way of living” but joined again by acknowledgement in August 1816. I surely would like to know what was considered “loose living” by this church at that time. It could have been allowing rude people to visit or dancing, or something much worse.

In June 1816, a rukus was caused by an allegation against Thomas Johnson by John Judd that Johnson had “moved his fence to stop up George Taylor’s pasway with a wagon.”

This smells very much of local high drama! You immediately know there’s a whole lot more to this story.

In August 1817, Thomas Irwin along with William and John Judd are called upon for a contribution of 25 cents each.

In October 1817, Thomas Irwin is once again to “site Amos Harmon to meeting to answer for some of his misconduct and different reports that is out in the world against him.” He was excluded from the church.

In November of 1817, “a reference from the last meeting was taken up concerning Amos Harmon and for refusing to hear the church and his disorderly way of living in many cases the church has excluded him from thee Christian fellowship.”

In March of 1818, the affair of Noah Vannoy was taken up and Thomas Irwin and John Judd were “to site him to come to our church meeting.”

In September of 1818, three members were sent to “investigate the matter at William Judd’s on Reddies River.” I would surely love to know what that “matter” was.

In 1821, some major issue involving Noah Vannoy and the Lewis Fork church needed to be unraveled, taking several months apparently. William and John Judd were both involved attempting to straighten this out. The Vannoy family lived in this area and intermarried with the McNiel family as well other neighbors.

The last mention of William Judd is in August 1825 when the church is indebted to him for covering the meeting house $1.20. John Judd on the same day was allocated money for the association.

In November 1827, John Judd came forward with acknowledgement for some misconduct but the chruch forgave him. Given his long unmarred active church involvement, I wonder if this was another man by the same name and not the husband of Rhoda Shepherd. In July of 1826, John was still a delegate attending meetings on behalf of the church. In June 1828, John is cited to church again for misconduct. I wonder what happened.

Sally Shepherd was married to William Judd, who became a deacon in February 1828, about a year before Sarah Rash Shepherd would have passed. It appears that she was living with this couple and they did wind up with the Shepherd Bible.

Rash 1829.png

John Judd was excluded in 1829 and his wife’s sister applies for letters of dismissal that same day. It sounds like drama of some sort occurred. It was about this time that Rhoda and John left for greener pastures in Ohio, then Indiana and Iowa where they converted to the Mormon faith along the way. There’s surely much more to this story too, especially considering his many years of active church service.

In December 1829, the matter of Amos Harmon was referred to the next meeting. At the following meeting in January 1830, the church “took up the reference of Amos Harmon and left as they found him.”

The notes show that Agness Irwin left the church in 1829.

In January 1830 Rebecca Harmon was “received by experience at an evening meeting at Aaron Churches.” She was also baptized.

On the second Saturday of March 1830, the church “dismissed Rebecca Harmon by letter.” A note of March 22nd says they dismissed Sally, Fanny and Rachel Harmon by letter.” This family too was headed north.

In October 1830, the church dismissed Fanny Judd by letter.

In November 1831, Fanny Judd returned her letter of dismissal.

In Feburary of 1837, Fanny Judd was dismissed by letter.

With this last entry, the half century of the Shepherd family’s involvement in the Deep Ford Church that transitioned to Reddies River Church drew silently to a close.

Robert and Sarah were long gone, and their children’s families, for the most part, had moved on too.

The Families

It seems that life on the Reddies River was anything but mundane. The church notes reveal the “sins” of various family members, at least according to the standards of the place and time in which they lived. It’s their various “falls from grace” that lend a face of humanity to these people who clearly struggled, just like people today.

I’ve attempted to document each of Sarah’s children and grandchildren, with the lines who carry Sarah Rash Shepherd’s mitochondrial DNA bolded. Sarah passed her mitochondrial DNA to both sexes of her children, but only daughter’s pass it on to future generations. You can read more about how DNA works, here.

If you are or know of an individual, male or female in the current generation, who descends from Sarah through all females, I have a free mitochondrial DNA testing scholarship waiting for you.

Sarah’s mitochondrial DNA can help us break through her brick wall. We have her mother’s name, but nothing more about her matrilineal ancestry.

The absolutely wonderful news is that Sarah had several daughters who each had several daughters, which increases the likelihood that someone who descends from Sarah Rash through all females to the current generation, which can be male, either has tested their mitochondrial DNA, or is willing to test.

Sarah’s Descendants

Sarah had an incredible number of descendants in just the first couple of generations. Some have slipped our grasp – perhaps their family line knows more.

Elizabeth Shepherd, Sarah’s oldest child born in 1766 was the first to marry. She tied the knot with a neighbor boy, William McNiel, the son of the preacher, George McNiel in either 1783 or perhaps early 1784, probably in the Deep Ford Meeting House. Elizabeth married at the same age her mother, Sarah had, 17 or 18. Reverend George McNiel, her father-in-law, likely officiated. The families were neighbors as well, so the entire valley probably attended.

Sarah became a grandmother in October of 1784 at the age of 36. Sarah had grandchildren older than her youngest children who weren’t born until 1785 and 1787.

However, 1784 may have been a sorrowful year for Sarah, because it looks like she buried another child of her own in February or March, probably in the now destroyed Deep Ford Hill Cemetery where these modular homes sit today.

Shepherd Deep Ford HIll Cemetery

By the time Sarah’s namesake granddaughter was born in October, Sarah was pregnant again with Fannie who would be born 4 months later. Perhaps Elizabeth was trying to make her mother feel better by naming her firstborn child, Sarah, after her grieving mother.

In the 1790 census, William McNiel, married to daughter Elizabeth Shepherd, lives 10 houses away from Robert and Sarah with 1 male over 16, 1 under 16 and 3 females.

Sometime before 1800, before the membership roster of the Reddies River Church was assembled in 1798, Elizabeth and William would move to neighboring Ashe County.

Elizabeth would bless her mother with 9 more living grandchildren, 10 in total, plus probably 2 more that died, added to the tiny graves in the family cemetery.

Elizabeth Shepherd and William McNiel moved to Claiborne County, Tennessee in about 1811 or 1812, so Sarah would never have known her grandchildren born after that time. That must have been one tearful goodbye, with Robert and Sarah watching their eldest pull away in a wagon, knowing they would never see her again.

Elizabeth wasn’t there to lay her father to rest 5 or 6 years later in 1817, nor her mother, probably in 1829. That sorrowful news would have arrived months later by letter.

Elizabeth died in Claiborne County sometime between 1830 and 1840, between age 64 and 74, perhaps not long after her mother’s death.

Elizabeth had 10 children including 4 daughters who lived to adulthood:

  • Sarah “Sallie” McNiel born August 26, 1784 married Joel Fairchild and died January 2, 1861 in Hancock County, TN. She had 5 children including:
    • Fannie Fairchild born about 1822, died about 1868
    • Elizabeth Fairchild born 1820-1825 who married Samuel McCullough, having daughters:
      • Sarah McCullough, born 1852
      • Elizabeth McCullough born 1864
      • Susan McCullough born in 1867
      • Cordia McCullough born in 1870
    • George McNiel born Sept. 21, 1786 in Wilkes County and died July 20, 1870 in Claiborne County, TN. He married Nancy Baker, having 10 children, then Matilda Yeary having 3 more children.
    • Lois McNiel born about 1786, married Elijah Vannoy and removed to Claiborne County, Tennessee about 1811 or 1812. She died in the 1830s, having had 10 children including daughters:
      • Permelia Vannoy born Feb. 21, 1810, married John Elijah Baker in 1838 and died in Washington County, Arkansas February 5, 1900. She had four known children, all daughters:
        • Luana or Luanda Baker born about 1836
        • Rachel Baker born about 1837, died March 25, 1925 in Springfield, Missouri. She married Larkin Brewer and had two daughters who died as children.
        • Sirena Baker born 1839 married Samuel P. Jones and died in 1862. She had daughters Mary Jones 1857-1913, Permelia Jones 1860-1907, Alice Jones, 1868-1945, Virginia Jones 1870-1831, Flora Jones 1875-1936, Leticia Jones born in 1877.
        • Nancy Jane Baker born in 1845.
      • Mary Vannoy born about 1815 married Isaac Gowin
      • Elizabeth Vannoy born about 1817 married Elisha Bishop, died after 1880 and had two known children, including one daughter:
        • Levina Ann Bishop (1843-1925) who appears to not have had children.
      • Nancy Vannoy born June 19, 1820 married George Loughmiller, died April 29, 1896 in Washington County, Arkansas. She had 8 children, including 6 daughters:
        • Mermelia Loughmiller 1839
        • Mary T. Loughmiller 1843-1946 married John H. Jones and had daughters Laura Myrtle Jones (1872-1930) and Permilia E. Jones born in 1876.
        • Elizabeth Loughmiller 1848
        • Sarah E. Loughmiller 1850
        • Martha “Marty” Loughmiller 1852
        • Lydia Loughmiller 1853 who may have died before 1870
      • Sarah “Sally” Elizabeth Vannoy born Oct. 17, 1821, married Joseph C. Adams and died October 14, 1892. They had 6 children, including 3 daughters:
        • Nancy Jane Adams (1849-1922) who married Franklin J. Skaggs and died in Huntsville, Arkansas. She had 9 children including three daughters, Ann Skaggs born in January 1875 married Thaddeus Brackston Jones and had daughter, Annie Jones born in 1908. Daughter Shadric C. Skaggs was born in December 1889 in Madison County, Arkansas. Daughter Lyda Mae Skaggs (1894-1969) married George Everett Clark.
        • Rebecca Elizabeth Adams born in 1853, married William Leroy Throckmartin Bee Boren. She had 9 children including three daughters. Julia Boren 1872-1945 married Randy Clinton Bolinger and had a daughter, Ruby Bolinger. Mary Lou Boren (1876-1950) married Andrew Jackson Hamilton and had daughters Elisa Hamilton, Cecil Hamilton and Gladys Hamilton. Laura Boren 1886-1990 married 4 times and may have had one daughter. Daughter Sally Ada Boren (1892-1978) married Earnest Welcome Hart and had two daughters, Lillie Hart and Irene Hart.
        • Margaret Ann Adams 1857-1923 married John Ward and died n Oregon. She had 9 children including two daughters, Mary Jane Ward born in 1881 and Sarah Emma Ward born in 1887 or 1888.
      • Angeline Vannoy born about 1825 married Sterling Nunn in 1949 and died before October of 1850, probably in childbirth.
      • Lucinda J. Vannoy was born March 15, 1828, married Col. Joseph Campbell in 1886 with a prenuptial contract and died April 2, 1919 in Washington County, Arkansas.
    • Niel S. McNiel born about 1792 in Wilkes County, died September 10, 1839 in Claiborne County and married Elly Ramsey. They had 3 children, two girls and a boy.
    • Mary McNiel born about 1792 in Wilkes County, married Robert Campbell in 1817 in Claiborne County, TN and died on August 10, 1874 in Bradley County, TN. She had at least one child, a son, but it’s unclear whether she had other children, although it’s certainly probable.
    • Nancy McNiel born March 22, 1794, married Alexander Campbell and died on November 30, 1839 near Sneedville, TN. She had three sons.
    • John McNiel born July 1, 1803, married Elizabeth Campbell, sister to Alexander and Robert, and died on October 8, 1883. They had 8 children.
    • Betty (probably Elizabeth) McNiel born 1800-1810 and may have married Andrew McClary.
    • Jesse McNiel born 1806, married Bettie Campbell and died in 1890 in Claiborne County.
    • William McNiel, Jr., born 1810-1815 married Nancy Gilbert.

James Shepherd is the next child in birth order, born in 1768 who should have married sometime around 1790, or after.

The 1790 census shows Robert Shepherd with a total of 2, 1 and 7, meaning 2 males over 16, 1 under 16, and 7 females. This tells us that James is still living and residing with his parents in 1790 at 22 years of age. Not terribly unusual

In 1798, a James Shepherd appears with Robert and Sarah on the list of Reddies River Church charter members. This James could potentially be Robert’s brother James, but I doubt that because there is no wife listed with James, and the only charter members are 20 or so neighbors who live very close by.

In the 1800 census, Robert reports 2 males 16-25, 1 male 45 and over, one female 10-15, 2 females 16-25 and one female 45 and over. This tells us that James is still living at home at 32 years of age and confirms that he was born between 1775 and 1784.

The 1810 census shows no children living at home. No James Shepherd shows up elsewhere, and no records referencing James are found, so it’s presumed that James died between 1800 and 1810, between the ages of 32 and 42. James is probably buried in the Deep Ford Cemetery too. Given that he never married, owned land or lived away from his parents, I can’t help but wonder if he was somehow disabled.

By 1790, another of Sarah’s daughters had also married.

Nancy Ann Shepherd, born in March 1770 married William McQueary on February 11, 1787, just a month before her 17th birthday. They lived in Wilkes County in 1800 and 1810, but then removed to Pulaski County Kentucky where she died July 12, 1833 or 1835, depending on which version of the story you believe.

Nancy had 12 children with William, including William McQueary Jr., shown below:

I have not documented Nancy’s children thoroughly, but according to the 1800 and 1810 census, it appears that she had at least 7 daughters and 3 sons, including:

  • John McQuery
  • Allen McQuery
  • Pleasant McQuery
  • Jesse McQuery
Rash William McQuery

William McQuery

  • William McQuery
  • Humphrey McQuery
  • Mary Polly McQueary 1789-1813 who may have married William Cash
  • Sarah McQueary 1802-1877
  • Rebecca McQueary 1804-1870
  • Nancy McQueary 1807-1852
  • Elizabeth Betty McQueary 1813-after 1870, married Wilson “Willis” Owens and had 9 children, including 5 daughters
    • Mary Owens born 1838
    • Paulina Jane Owens (1840-1866) married Mason Compton Miller
      • Emily J. Miller born 1864
    • Sarah Emily Owens, born 1841, married Edwin Shivel, had 4 daughters:
      • Catherine Shivel born 1862
      • Elizabeth Shivel born 1864
      • Emma Shivel born 1867
      • Manah Emily Shivel born 1869
    • Nancy Owens born Mar 23, 1843
    • Lucy Owens born July 31, 1853

Mary “Polly” Shepherd born in 1773 married James McNiel sometime around 1790. They lived in Ashe County for a while, but moving back to Reddies River where Robert Sheppard sold them land in 1802. Mary died June 7, 1869.

James NcNiel and Mary were clearly close to her parents, Sarah and Robert, as James was the administrator of Robert’s estate in 1817 when he passed away, at the request of Sarah.

Mary “Polly” Shepherd McNiel had 9 children beginning in about 1792, with the last one born in 1814. She probably buried 3 or 4 children, judging from their birth dates.

  • Larkin McNeil
  • John McNeill (1796-1877), married Rachel Eller and had 4 children, including at least one son.
  • Frances “Fanny” McNeil (1798-1856) married Simeon Eller in 1817 and then Isaac Brown in 1851. She had several children, with at least one daughter, America, and possibly more:
    • America Elizabeth Eller (1841-1903) married William Richard Whittington and had three daughters:
      • Nora Caroline Whittington (1864-1956)
      • Dora Whittington born in 1872
      • Almeda Whittington (1875-1938)
    • Mary Ann “Polly” Eller (1820-1894) married Allen A. “Squire” Whittington and had daughters:
      • Emily Caroline Whittington (1841-1910)
      • Nancy Elvira Whittington (1843-1931)
    • George McNeil
    • William McNeil
    • Oliver McNeil, born in 1805 and married Delilah Eller. They had 7 children.
    • Nancy McNeil (1812-1880) married Edward J. Dancy in 1836 and had at least 3 children:
      • Mary Dancy (1837-1893) married James Calvin McNiel and had 8 children including 2 daughters:
        • Eda Elizabeth McNiel (1865-1924)
        • Julia Emma (1869-1948)
      • James Dancy born1839
      • Amelia Dancy (1841-1861) married Joseph Nichols and had one daughter:
        • Anna Elizabeth Nichols (1861-1935) married Calvin Columbus Church and had at least one son
      • Rebecca McNeil (1813-1878) married John Humphrey Vannoy in 1833 and had 12 children, including 4 daughters:
        • Mary Ann Vannoy (1841-1888) married James Phillips and had 6 children including two daughters:
          • Laura Rebecca Phillips (1874-1955) married
          • Nancy Myrtle Phillips (1877-1911) married Joseph Franklin Blackburn and had daughters Loretta Blackburn, Ina Blackburn and Dollie M. Blackburn
        • Nancy Louisa Vannoy (1847-1929) married James Madison Eller and had 8 children including one daughter who survived and had children:
          • Rebecca Eller (1878- ) married Zollie Church and had 3 daughters, Estelle Irene Church (1901-1991), Beatrice Teresa Church 1904-1985), Florence Mae Church (1906-1992)
        • Carolina Vannoy (born 1851)
        • Frances Matilda Vannoy (1854-1925) married James Wilburn Hardin and had 9 children, but only 1 daughter who had daughters:
          • Hattie Mae Hardin (1875-1953) married George Maxner and had daughters, Kate Maxner, Lucille Maxner and Edith Maxner
        • Eli McNeil (1812-1881), married Fannie Eller, moved to Ashe County and had 10 children.

Agnes Shepherd born in 1775 married Thomas Irwin about 1791. She and Thomas had 12 children beginning with Elijah born in 1792 or 1793. In 1810, Thomas was granted land on the Reddies River. In 1829, they removed to Russell County, Kentucky where Agnes died on March 18, 1856.

  • Elijah Irwin (1792-1878) married Elizabeth Goodman and had 6 children.
  • Thomas P. Irwin
Rash Alley Irwin

Alley Irwin

  • Alley Irwin (1797-1879) married Larkin Shepherd her first cousin once removed, son of Robert’s brother, John Shepherd. Alley’s children might really have carried a “Shepherd” look. They had 11 children, including 5 daughters:
    • Lucinda Shepherd (1821-1867) married Nathan Weaver and had 3 children, including daughter:
      • Martha Weaver (1849-1894) married Lewis Dobson Williams and had daughters Lula Elizabeth Williams (1881-1929), Mary Frances Williams (1875-1958), Effie Clyde Williams (1886-1930) and Ruth Dell Williams (1892-1919). Martha had several female grandchildren.
    • Rebecca Shepherd (1824-1879) married Joshua T. Coffey and had 9 children, including 3 daughters who may have had female children.
      • Adeline Coffey born 1844 married Aldred Wyatt
      • Matilda Coffey born 1846 married Isham Patrick
      • Alice Coffey born 1852
    • Sarah Shepherd (1831-1862) married Rev. John Ennis Pierce and had 5 children including 2 daughters:
      • Martha Carolina Pierce (1853-1948) married Banjamin Azmon and had 4 daughters: Edith Azmon, Mary C. Azmon, Ellen Azmon and Julia Azmon
      • Mary Saphronia Pierce (1857-1928) married Leonard Bynum Church and had daughter Julie Church.
    • Martha Shepherd (1842, twin to Mary, died 1916) married John Edward Fouts (died 1862) with whom she had one son, and then George Washington Phillips with whom she had 4 children, including 4 daughters:
      • Elizabeth Phillips (1871-1952 married Cicero Nathan DeBord and had daughters Tena Ada Debord (1893-1968), Phoebe Ruth Debord (1895-1932), Mary Bertha Debord (1897-1983), Myrtle Debord born about 1905 married a Brown and lived in Darlington, MD.
    • Mary Shepherd (1842, twin to Martha, died 1908) married William Harrison Brown and had no children.

You can read more about Alley’s family, including photos of her children, here.

  • Squire Irwin moved to Russell County, KY.
  • Nancy Isabelle Irwin (1798-1857) married John Thomas Jennings in 1819 and died in Russell County, KY in 1857. They had 10 children including no daughters:
  • Andrew Irwin born about 1799 married Lucy Wyatt in 1828 and moved to Russell County, KY.
  • William Irwin born about 1800 and died before 1824.
  • Sally Irwin born about 1803, married John Shepherd in 1824 and died in 1831 in Wilkes County. John and the children moved to Kentucky in about 1829 according to Brodrick Shepherd, taking their 3 children:
    • Lynville Shepherd 1827-1880
    • Elizabeth Shepherd (1829-1860)
    • Nancy Shepherd born about 1831
  • Robert Irwin born about 1810 married Sally Lutteral in 1838 in Russell County, KY and in 1853, married Ann Vannoy. He died in 1872 in Russell County.
  • Larkin Irwin born about 1812 died in the 1840s leaving 4 small children in Russell County, KY.
Rash Franklin Irwin

Franklin Irwin

  • Franklin Irwin (above) born about 1814, married Elizabeth Spencer about 1840 in Russell County, KY. Brodrick Shepherd reports that he and 7 of 8 children moved to Indiana after the Civil War where he remarried to Mary Stewart.

Rhoda Shepherd born in 1777 married John Judd about 1790. In 1800, Robert Shepherd sold two pieces of land to John. Eventually, Rhoda and John moved to Centerville, Wayne County, Indiana in about 1829 and Rhoda died after 1839. They had 9 known children.

  • William Judd (1808-1881) married Malinda Jane Troxell
  • John Judd (1825-1889) married Jane Brown
  • Robert Allen Judd (1810-1896) married Hester Ann Burns
  • Sarah Judd (1813-1890) married Thomas Oler and had 8 children, including 3 daughters that survived to adulthood:
    • Margaret Oler (1840-1918) married Joseph Morrison and had 9 children including 4 daughters that lived to adulthood:
      • Sarah Alice Morrison (1866-1953)
      • Bertha May Morrison (1874-1952)
      • Caroline (Carrie) Athelia Morrison (1877-1963)
      • Essie Leona Morrison (1883-1961)
    • Martha Oler (1843-1911) married Peter Chenoweth and had 4 children including 2 daughters:
      • Sarah Olive Chenoweth (1865-1939)
      • Eva Chenoweth (1862-1923)
    • Lydia Ann Oler (1842-1895) married Rufus Williams and had one daughter:
      • Jennie W. Williams (1880-1977)
    • Thomas Judd (1815-1890) married Margaret Oler
    • Tabitha Judd (1803-1847) married David Eller and had 7 children, including 3 daughters:
      • Clarissa Eller (1829-1889) married William C Marion and had 7 children including 3 daughters who lived to adulthood:
        • Priscilla Marion (1850-1923) married Melville Whitmore and had 4 children, including daughters Viola Whitmore (1871-1934), Minnie Whitmore (1879-1954) and Clara Winifred Whitmore (1881-1966)
        • Collitta Marion (1855-1911) married Jacob Sirdoreus and had 9 children including daughters Bessie Maud Sirdoreus (1887-1979), Annie Mae Sirdoreus (1892-1974) and Cora Belle Sirdoreus (1895-1994)
        • Emma M. Marion (1863-1932) who married John Riley Sirdoreus and had 8 children including daughters Nora Sirdoreus (1878-1933), Rosa Sirdoreus born in 1880 and Edna Mae Sirdoreus (1893-1968)
      • Mary Eller (1820-1897) married Claiborne C. Tinsley and had 6 children, including daughter:
        • Mary Jane Tinsley (1847-1917) married James Allen Eller and had daughter Myrtle Lillian Eller born in 1885 who married John Pickerel and had daughter Verle Irene Pickerel (1884-1956)
      • Elizabeth Eller (1827-1897)
      • Martha Eller born in 1839
    • Mary Judd
Rash Margaret Judd

Margaret Judd

  • Margaret Judd (1822-1886) married Eller Stoker and had 8 children, including 6 daughters:
    • Orson Hyde Stoker (1843-1908)
    • David Allen Stoker (1844-1929)
    • Lavina Stoker (1846-1916) married William Spears and had three daughters:
      • Myrtle L. Spears (1878-1925) married Frank Wilson and had 9 children including daughters Gladys O. Wilson, Myrtle Wilson, Shirley W. Wilson, Crystle B. Wilson, Olive M. Wilson, Lynn B. Wilson, Ordie D, Wilson and Bernice B. Wilson
      • Eva S. Spears (1884-1969) married Charles P. Meadows and had a son
      • Cora Ethel Spears (1887-1960) married John William Meadows and had a son
    • Michael Eller Stoker (1849-1929)
    • Mary Elizabeth Stoker (1850-1936) was born and died in Pottattamie County, Iowa and married William Sheen. They had 3 daughters:
      • Elsie May Sheen (1887-1978)
      • Gestie Hezel Sheen (1889-1981)
      • Maude Lillie (1892-1972)
    • Margaret Calpernia Stoker (1854-1934) married Joseph George Spears and had 4 children, three of which were daughters:
      • Elva Spears (1972-1955)
      • Sarah Alice Spears (1874-1960)
      • Emily Caroline Spears (1877-1950)
    • Lucretia Stoker (1855-1914) married William Heileman and had two children, including one daughter:
      • Minnie Heileman born February 1880, married Louis B. Smith and had one son.
    • Melanda Stoker, reported to have died as a child
  • Elizabeth Judd (1817-1886) married Alvin Winegar and had 10 children including 6 daughters:
    • John Alvin Winegar (1838-1914)
    • Samuel Thomas Winegar (1840-1921)
    • Lucinda Winegar (1843-1844)
    • Alvin Judd Winegar (1846-1893)
    • Mary Winegar (1848-1848)
    • William Winegar (1849-1902)
    • Margaret Ann Winegar (1851-1906) married Peter Howell and had 8 children including 4 daughters:
      • Margaret Ann Howell (1871-1947) married Charles Henry Brown and had daughters Ruby Lilia Brown, Margaret Pearl Brown, Rosamond Mary Brown and Ethelyn Howell Brown.
      • May Howell born 1876
      • Mary Sterling Howell born (1879-1928) married Hugh Tierney
      • Sarah Howell (1881-1916) married Parley White and had two sons
    • Louisa Winegar (1853-1941) married Zadock C. Mitchell and had 8 children including 4 daughters
      • Florence Mitchell born in 1883
      • Mary Lavina Mitchell (1885-1978)
      • Ellis Mitchell born in 1888
      • Viola Mitchell (1892-1966)
    • Sarah Elizabeth Winegar (1856-1924) married Alexander Brown and had 4 sons

John Shepherd born in 1779 married Mary Kilby on October 13, 1802 at 23 years of age but died before January 31, 1803 when Mary requested bond as administrator. The had no children. On January 12, 1804, Mary married Jesse Vannoy. John was probably buried in the Deep Ford Cemetery as well.

There were two other John Shepherd’s living in Wilkes at the time, but John, Robert’s brother died in 1810, having been married to Sarah. Their son, John, married Sally Ervine in 1824.

John’s death must have been crushing for Robert and Sarah, to lose both of their sons within a few years, between 1800 and 1810. It’s unfortunate that his death date and cause was not recorded in the family Bible.

Sarah “Sally” Shepherd born in 1782 married about 1802 to William M. Judd, brother of John Judd who married her sister. In 1805, Robert Shepherd sold William 100 acres. Sarah and William had 10 children beginning in 1803. In 1829, they removed to Wayne County, Indiana, then to Madison County, then finally to Newtown, Sullivan County, Missouri where Sarah died in November 1858 and is buried in the Howard Cemetery. Sally appears to be the owner of the Shepherd Bible.

Sarah and John had 10 children:

  • Perry Judd (1803-1844)
  • John Judd born (1806-1840)
  • Jeremiah Judd (1808-1867)
  • James Judd (1811-1854)
  • Larkin Judd (1813-1856)
  • William Judd (1815-1911)
  • Andrew Jackson Judd (1818-1854)
  • Linville Judd (1821-1858) married Sarah Muse, then Mary Collier and had 5 children.
  • Mary Margaret Judd (September 25, 1823-1924) married Jesse Tucker and had 10 children who lived to adulthood, including 4 daughters:
    • William A. Tucker born 1838
    • Linville Tucker (1839-1922)
    • Ferril Tucker born 1841
    • Sarah Louise Tucker (1844-1905) married Joseph Lacount Brackett and had 10 children including daughters:
      • Annie Brackett (1861-1904)
      • Mary Amelia Brackett (1874-1943)
      • Sarah F. Brackett (1879-1947)
      • Albina Brackett (1882-1918)
    • Amelia Tucker (1846-1921) married James Milton Pigg and had 10 children, including 4 daughters who lived to adulthood;
      • Sarah Elizabeth Pigg (1867-1925)
      • Margaret Lorena Rene Pigg (1879-1960)
      • Elsie May Anne Pigg (1884-1975)
      • Minnie Cedalia Pigg (1887-1939)
    • Jeremiah Tucker (1848-1924)
    • Nancy W. Tucker (1851-1940) married Jesse Lewis Pigg and had 8 children including 4 daughters that lived to adulthood:
      • Mary Ann Pigg (1871-1949)
      • Charlotte Lottie Ellen Pigg (1876-1930)
      • Malecta Frances Pigg (1879-1968)
      • Ida Mariah Pigg (1883-1968)
    • Mary Ann “Polly” Tucker (1852-1936)
    • Jesse Tucker (1856-1933)
    • John William Tucker (1863-1919)
  • Sarah Elizabeth Judd (March 29, 1827-about 1883 Henry County, Indiana) married Eli Trueblood, no known children

Frances, “Fannie” Shepherd born in 1785 married Larkin Pumphrey about 1803. They had 9 children and they too removed to Pulaski County, Kentucky between 1814 and 1816, before Robert Shepherd died in 1817. By 1830, they were in Fayette County, Indiana and had 8 known children, including 3 daughters:

  • Eli Pumphrey born April 23, 1806 in Wilkes County and died May 18, 1882 in Decatur, Indiana.
  • Martha Pumphrey born 1808.
  • John A. Pumphrey born about 1812 in Wilkes County and died in 1872 in Tipton, Indiana.
  • Delphia Matilda Pumphrey born in 1814 in Wilkes County and married Samuel Smith in Union County, Indiana, having one son.
  • Jackson Pumphrey born about 1816 in Pulaski County, KY.
  • Sarah Pumphrey born about 1819 in Pulaski County, KY and died n 1891 in Decatur, Indiana. She married Samuel Milton Burney had had 9 children, which included 5 daughters:
    • Malinda J. Burney (1840-1917) married Barney Markle and had 3 children, including 2 daughters:
      • Almira Markel (1867-1932)
      • Maude Pearl Markle born in 1874
    • Ann Burney born about 1853
    • Inas Burney born about 1855
    • Famson Burney born about 1859
    • Mary Tamson Burney (1862-1943) married Edwin Austin Jackson and had 2 sons
  • Joseph M. Pumphrey born about 1821 in Pulaski County, Ky and died in 1866 in Tipton, Indiana.
  • Andrew J. Pumphrey born about 1828 in Pulaski County, KY and died in 1875 in Decatur, Indiana.

Rebekah Shepherd born in 1787 married Amos Harmon on June 2, 1806. They had 13 children, moving with them to Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana between 1826 and 1831, then about 1835 on to become one of only 2 or 3 early settlers in Somonauk, DeKalb County, Illinois where Rebekah died on September 22, 1836 and is buried in the Oak Ridge, Cemetery.

  • Sarah Harmon (1809-1881) married Conway Rhodes in 1833 and had three sons:
    • James Rhodes died as a baby
    • Anthony Rhodes born in 1836 married Anne.
    • John M. Rhodes born in 1838, married Sarah Price.
  • Rachel Harmon (1811-1899) married William Poplin in 1831 in Tazewell Co., Illinois. The is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery near her mother. Rachel had 6 children:
    • Sarah Poplin (1832-1834)
    • Harriet Poplin (1836-1887), married Herbert C. Cotton and had two children, one of which was a daughter:
      • Eva Cotton
    • Mary A. Poplin (1838-1839)
    • Rebecca C. Poplin, born in 1840, married John V. Henry in 1865
    • Francis E. Poplin was born in 1842, married Charles V. Stevens in 1862 and had 2 children:
      • F. Stevens
      • Ida Stevens
    • Jesse F. Poplin born about 1845 died after 1910
  • Fanny Harmon (1812-1836) married William Alloway in 1831. She died in DeKalf County, Illinois and is buried in Somonauk, Illinois
  • John Harmon (1813-1837)
  • Anthony Harmon (1814-1892) married Elizabeth Wilcox and had 6 children
  • George Harmon was born about 1815
  • Mary Ann Harmon (1817-1897) married Major Dennis and had 4 children. She died in 1897 in St. Louis, Missouri.
    • Waitstill Dennis (1843-1906) married Joseph Baker and had 2 children, including one daughter
      • Mattie Baker born 1870
    • Shepherd Dennis (1844-1870)
    • Rebeca Dennis (1847-1911) married Charles S. Lewis in 1865, died in Joplin, MO and had one daughter who died unmarried
    • William Allison Dennis (1852-1913)
  • Amelia Elizabeth Harmon (1819-1905) married Michael Been Ward in DeKalb County, Illinois but moved to Walla Walla, Washington. Not only was Amelia a female county commissioner, something unheard of at that time, but as such she attended the 1885 World’s Fair. President Rutherford B. Hayes stayed with the family when visiting the area. She had one child:
    • Augusta Ward (1843-1920) who married Raymond R. Rees and had 4 children, including 3 daughters:
      • Eleanor Rees (1869-1880)
      • Elma L. Rees (1870-1939) and married Harry H. Turner
      • Lora A. Rees ((1875-1941) married Paul Compton.
    • Amos P. Harmon (1821-1897) married Mary, died in Amador County, CA and had 5 children.
    • Nancy Malinda Harmon married Daniel Beem in 1842 in DeKalb Co., Illinois and died in 1905 in Amador County, CA. They had 7 children:
      • Unknown
      • Unknown
      • Benjamin Beem
      • Elizabeth Beem married a Reed
      • Sarah M. Beem (1848-1850)
      • William Edward Been (1861-1891)
      • Isabella Beem (1864-1944)
    • David E. Harmon (1825-1902) married Mary Jane Norton and had 4 children:
      • Imogene Harmon born in 1865 in Ohio
      • May Harmon born in 1869 in Ohio
      • Charles Harmon died young
      • James A. Harmon
    • William Harmon (1826-1845)
    • James A. Harmon was born in 1831 in Richmond County, Indiana and died in 1910 in Shelby County, Iowa. He married twice and had both of his children by first wife, Miriam E. Hummell:
      • Alfred L. Harmon born in 1872 in Shelby County, Iowa
      • Henry E. Harmon born in 1873 in Shelby County

Cousin Brodrick Shepherd provides additional information about Sarah Rash Shepherd’s descendants, here.

After the Kids Left Home

Sarah’s children slowly left home. The census along with family histories helps to rebuild the progression of these families.

Child 1800 Census 1810 Census 1820 Census 1830 Census
Elizabeth Shepherd b 1766 married William McNiel c 1782 Ashe County, NC Wilkes County, NC Claiborne Co., TN Claiborne Co., TN
James Shepherd b 1789 Home Presumed dead Presumed dead Presumed dead
Nancy Ann Shepherd b 1770 married William McQueary 1787 Wilkes Wilkes Pulaski Co., KY Pulaski Co., KY
Mary Polly Shepherd b 1773 married James McNiel c 1790 Ashe County Wilkes Wilkes, 1 female over 45 which would be Mary herself Wilkes
Agnes Shepherd b 1775 married Thomas Irwin c 1791 Wilkes Missing on census, Wilkes land grant in 1810 Missing Russell Co., KY
Rhoda Shepherd b 1777 married John Judd c 1790 Wilkes Wilkes Wilkes, but no female over 45 Wayne Co., Indiana
John Shepherd b 1779 Home with parents Died 1803 Deceased Deceased
Sarah Shepherd b 1782 married William Judd c 1802 Home Wilkes Wilkes, female over 45, probably Sarah Rash Shepherd Wayne County, Indiana
Fannie Shepherd b 1785 married Larkin Pumphrey c 1803 Home Wilkes Pulaski Co., KY Pulaski Co., KY
Rebekah Shepherd b 1787 married Amos Harmon 1806 Home Wilkes Wilkes, no female over 45 Richmond, Wayne Co., Indiana

In 1790, only two of Sarah’s daughters had married, and they lived nearby. The census tells us that a total of 7 females lived in the Robert Shepherd household.

By 1800, both of Sarah’s sons would have been strapping young men and good help on the farm. Three of her daughters were still living at home too.

In 1803, as the children grew up and married, Sarah and Robert apparently needed additional help, so they took two orphan boys, William and John Adkins, who apparently would have turned 21 about 1809. In any case, they are not with Robert in the 1810 census. In 1809, about the time the boys would have turned 21 and been released from their indenture, Robert bought two slaves.

By 1810, the landscape had changed.

Slaves Rachel and Jerry, probably Rachel’s son, purchased in 1809, live with Sarah and Robert until after Robert’s death in 1817. I must say, the purchase of slaves saddened me, and I hope they were treated as family.

Both of Sarah’s sons were presumed dead. John, we know for sure died in 1803, but James simply disappears entirely between 1800 and 1810.

All of Sarah’s daughters are married. Elizabeth and William McNiel moved to neighboring Ashe County, but then moved back again as did Mary and James McNiel. By 1810, Sarah had a passel of grandkids running around, and her daughters all lived nearby. With 8 daughters married and each having children every couple years, that meant that a new baby arrived every 3 months or so in someone’s cabin.

Just as assuredly as the stork arrived, death visited too, and the family would make their way to the church and the cemetery with a small wooden box riding on the wagon. There were probably already several graves in a row by the time Robert joined them in 1817, and even more when Sarah was laid to rest about 1829.

In 1817, Robert crossed over that great divide without a will, meaning that legally, Sarah was entitled to one third of his property and assets as her widow’s share. If he had made a will, he could have left her more.

Sarah’s petition to the court after Robert’s death declining her right to administer his estate in favor of her son-in-law, James McNiel is the only actual documentary evidence of Sarah in Wilkes County, aside from her name on the 1798 Reddies River church list of founding members.

Rash Sally Shepherd signature.png

Sarah’s signature with an X confirms that she cannot read and write. We may not have her actual signature, but we have her mark, which was the signature she was able to make.

In the fall of 1817, enough food and supplies were laid out from Robert’s estate to provide for Sarah “and family” for a year, as was the custom, although the only family living with her, as far as we know, were the slaves, Rachel and Jerry.

Robert Sheperd estate widow allotment

In 1818, Robert’s estate, including the remaining 122 acres of land, Rachel and Jerry, was sold. There is no record of purchasers or the amount of the sale. At this point, Sarah would have had to live with one of her children.

In 1820, several of Elizabeth’s children had moved on to more promising locations. Both sons were dead, Elizabeth and William McNiel moved to Claiborne County, TN about 1811 or 1812, Nancy Ann and William McQuery were in Pulaski County, KY, as were Fannie and Larkin Pumphrey. I can’t find Agnes and Thomas Irwin in the census although one Thomas Irwin purchases land in 1819.

That leaves Rhoda and John Judd, Sarah and William Judd, Mary Polly and James McNiel along with Rebekah and Amos Harmon in Wilkes County in 1820.

Of those families, only Sarah and William Judd have an “extra” female over the age of 45 living with them in the 1820 census, so I suspect strongly that Sarah spent the last dozen years of her life living with her namesake daughter, Sarah, who went by the nickname of Sally. That’s also the family who passed the Shepherd Bible from generation to generation, so this makes sense.

Ironically, Sarah and William Judd left for Wayne County, Indiana in 1829 or 1830, before the census – right after the time I suspect that Sarah died.

Perhaps Sarah’s death is what freed them to go.

By 1830, the year after Sarah’s presumed death, based on the Bible margin calculations, another 3 of Sarah’s daughters and their families pulled up stakes and left, leaving only Mary Polly Shepherd and James McNiel in Wilkes County.

The rest of Sarah’s children would be strewn across 4 states and 6 counties, like dandelion seeds drifting on the wind.

Lots of Grandchildren

Of Sarah’s 10 living children, her two sons didn’t survive to give her grandchildren. The 8 daughters combined blessed Sarah with 84 known grandchildren, and probably at least another 10 or 11 that died young. With nearly 100 grandchildren, or maybe even more, I wonder if Sarah could remember their names or who belonged to which parent. Holidays and picnics must have been interesting – and huge!

I can’t help but wonder if everyone got along.

While some of these grandchildren were born after their respective mothers left Wilkes County, so would never have known their grandmother, Sarah, many were raised right there along the Reddies River, on land that originally belonged to Robert and Sarah. Sarah was able to watch those grandkids and their children run barefoot through the freshly plowed fields, just as she had watched her own children blossom and thrive in the fertile valley at the base of Deep Ford Hill.

I’d wager that Sarah sat with their smiling faces gathered around her by the fireplace on chilly evenings as she told them stories about Spotsylvania County and their wagon-train adventures, in the midst of the war with the Tories, on the way to their haven on the Reddies River, a place that became the Shepherd sanctuary high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This three and a half mile stretch of road and river, from the Reddies River church to the Deep Ford Cemetery is where Sarah lived for half a century. She would have known every bend in the river and mountain ridge by heart.

Rash Wilkes aerial.png

Legend:

  • Red star – Reddies River Church established in 1798
  • Blue star – known location of Robert Shepherd original land
  • Green star – approximate location of the Deep Ford of the Reddies River, owned by Robert’s brother, John Shepherd
  • Purple star – possible location of the Deep Ford Meeting House, although I suspect it may have been at the base of the Deep Ford Hill, near the green star in the cleared fields
  • Yellow star – Deep Ford Hill Cemetery, now destroyed

It was for life in this valley that Sarah and Robert had risked it all, pulling up stakes and moving hundreds of miles away from everything and everyone they had ever known.

Sarah’s husband, Robert, contributed a horse and feed to the Revolutionary War effort, and her oldest daughter’s husband, William McNiel fought at the Battle of Brandywine. By the time Sarah was telling those stories, 30 years and a world later, nestled in a snug cabin along the Reddies River, that had all happened “long ago” and were distant memories from a place “far, far, away.”

rash children

Many locations where Sarah’s children were found, in addtion to Wilkes County, the red star.

Another quarter century later, Sarah’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be scattered to the winds too, many moving north and westward with the rapidly advancing frontier line, and facing yet another war that would tear at the seams of a frayed nation.

Thankfully, Robert and Sarah had given them a firm foundation on which to build, both a country and their lives.

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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

Fun Genealogy Activities for Trying Times

My mother used to say that patience is a virtue.

patience stones.jpg

I’m afraid I’m not naturally a very virtuous person, at least not where patience is concerned. I don’t seem to take after my ancestor, Patience Brewster (1600-1634.) Perhaps those “patience” genes didn’t make it to my generation. Or maybe Patience wasn’t very patient herself.

Not only does patience not come naturally to me, it’s more difficult for everyone during stressful times. People are anxious, nerves are frazzled and tempers are short. Have you noticed that recently?

I guess you could say that what we’ve been enduring, in terms of both health issues and/or preparation for the Covid-19 virus along with the economic rollercoaster – not to mention the associated politics, is stress-inducing.

patience stress.png

Let’s see:

  • Worry about a slow-motion epidemic steamrollering the population as it wraps around the world – check.
  • Worry about family members – check.
  • Worry about TP, hand sanitizer, food, medication and other supplies – check.
  • Worry about jobs and income – check.
  • Worry about retirement accounts and medical bills – check.
  • Worry about long-term ramifications – check.

Nope, no stress here. What about you?

And yes, I’m intentionally understated, hoping to at least garner a smile.

Once you’ve stocked up on what you need and decided to stay home out of harm’s way – or more to the point, out of germ’s way – how can you feel more patient and less stressed?

I have some suggestions!

patience stress relief.png

The Feel Better Recipe

First, just accept that once you’ve done what you can do to help yourself, which includes minimizing exposure – there’s little else that you can do. I wrote about symptoms and precautions, here. The best thing you can do is wash, stay home and remain vigilant.

If someone you know or love doesn’t understand why we need to limit or eliminate social interaction at this point, here’s an article that explains how NOT to be stupid, as well as an article here about what flattening the curve means and why social distancing is our only prayer at this point to potentially avoid disaster. We are all in this together and we all have a powerful role to play – just by staying at home.

Educating and encouraging others to take precautionary steps might help, but worrying isn’t going to help anything because you can’t affect much beyond your own sphere of influence. As much as we wish we could affect the virus itself, or increase the testing supply, or influence good decision-making by others, we generally can’t.

What can we do, aside from sharing precautionary information and hoping that we are “heard?”

We can try to release the worry.

patience zen.png

If you sit there thinking about releasing the worry, which means you’re focused on worrying – that’s probably not going to be very productive.

Neither is drinking your entire supply of Jack Daniels in one sitting – not the least of which is because you may need that as hand sanitizer down the road a bit. Oh, wait, hand sanitizer is supposed to be more than 60% alcohol, which would be 120 proof. Never mind, go ahead and drink the Jack Daniels😊

What you really need is a distraction. Preferably a beneficial distraction that won’t give you a hangover. Not like my distraction this past month when the washing machine flooded through the floor into the basement including my office below. No, not that kind of distraction.

Some folks can “escape the world,” in a sense, by watching TV, but I’m not one of those people. I need to engage my mind with some sort of structure and I want to feel like I’m accomplishing something. If you’re a “TV” person, you’re probably watching TV now and not reading this anyway – so I’m guessing that’s not my readership audience, by and large.

Beneficial Distractions

Here are 20 wonderful ideas for fun and useful things to do – and guess what – they aren’t all genealogy related. Let’s start with something that will make you feel wonderful.

labyrinth

  1. Take a walk – outside, but not around other people. Your body and mind will thank you. Your body likes to move and exercise generates beneficial feel-good endorphins, reducing anxiety. Remember to take hand sanitizer with you and open doors by pushing with your arm or hip, if possible. Also, if you need to get fuel for your vehicle, take disposable gloves to handle the pump. Disinfectant, soap and water is your friend – maybe your best friend right now.

patience books.png

  1. Read a book. Escapism, pure and simple. I have a stack of books just waiting. If you don’t, you can download e-books to your Kindle or iPad or phone directly from Amazon without going anyplace or have books delivered directly to your door. Try Libby Copeland’s The Lost Family, which you can order here. It’s dynamite. (My brother and my story are featured, which I wrote about here.) If you’d like DNA education, you can order Diahan Southard’s brand new book, Your DNA Guide: Step by Step Plans, here. I haven’t read Diahan’s book, but I’m familiar with the quality of her work and don’t have any hesitation about recommending it. (Let me know what you think.) And hey, you don’t even need hand sanitizer for this!

patience check box.png

  1. Check your DNA matches at all the vendors where you’ve tested. If you don’t check daily, now would be a good time to catch up. Not just autosomal matches, but also Y and mitochondrial at Family Tree DNA. Those tests often get overlooked. Maybe some of your matches have updated their trees or earliest known ancestor information.

patience tree.png

  1. Speaking of trees, update your trees on the three DNA/genealogy sites that support trees: FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and Ancestry. Keeping your tree up to date through at least the 8th generation (including their children) enables the companies to more easily connect the dots for their helpful tools like Phased Family Matching aka bucketing at FamilyTreeDNA, Theories of Family Relativity aka TOFR at MyHeritage and ThruLines at Ancestry.

patience connect.png

  1. Connect your known matches to their appropriate place on your tree at Family Tree DNA, as illustrated above. This provides fuel for Family Tree DNA to be able to designate your matches as maternal or paternal, even if your mother and father haven’t tested. In this case, I’ve connected my first cousin once removed who matches me in her proper location in my tree. People who match my cousin and I both are assigned to my maternal bucket.

patience y dna.pngpatience mtdna.png

  1. Order or upgrade a Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA test or a Family Finder autosomal test for you or a family member at Family Tree DNA. Upgrades, shown above, are easy if the tester has already taken at least one test, because DNA is banked at the lab for future orders. You don’t have to go anyplace to do this and DNA testing results and benefits last forever. Your DNA works for you 24x7x365.

patience join project.png

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  1. Join a free project at FamilyTreeDNA. Those can be surname projects, haplogroup projects, regional projects such as Acadian AmeriIndian and other interest topics like American Indian. You can search or browse for projects of interest and collaborate with others. Projects are managed by volunteer administrators who obviously have an interest in the project’s topic.

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  1. At each of the vendors, find your highest autosomal match whom you cannot place as a relative. Work on their line via tree construction and then utilizing clustering using Genetic Affairs. I wrote about Genetic Affairs, an amazing tool, here, which you can try for free.

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patience claiborne.png

  1. Check the FamilySearch WIKI for your genealogy locations by googling “Claiborne County, Tennessee FamilySearch wiki” where you substitute the location of where you are searching for “Claiborne County, Tennessee.” FamilySearch is free and the WIKI includes resources outside of FamilySearch itself, including paid and other free sites.

patience familysearch records.png

  1. While you’re at it, if you haven’t already, create a FamilySearch account and create or upload a tree to FamilySearch. It will be connected to branches of existing trees to create one large worldwide tree. Yes, you’ll be frustrated in some cases because there are incorrect ancestors sometimes listed in the “big tree” – BUT – there are procedures in place to remediate that situation. The important aspect is that FamilySearch, which is free, provides hints and resources not available any other place for some ancestors. Not long ago, I found a detailed estate packet that I had no idea existed – for a female ancestor no less. You can search at FamilySearch for ancestors, genealogies, records and in other ways. New records become available often.  This will keep you occupied for days, I promise!

Patience Journal.png

  1. Begin a Novel Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic journal. Think of your descendants 100 years in the future. Wouldn’t you like to know what your great-grandparents were doing during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic? Or even their siblings or neighbors, because that was likely similar to what your ancestors were doing as well. You don’t have to write much daily – just write. Not just facts, but how you feel as well. Are you afraid, concerned specifically about someone? What’s going on with you – in your mind? That’s the part of you that your descendants will long to know a century from now.

Quilt rose

  1. Create something with your hands. I made a quilt this week for an ailing friend, unrelated to this epidemic. No, I didn’t “have time” to do that, but I made time because this quilt is important, and I know they need the “get well’’” wishes and love that quilt will wrap them in. It always feels good to do something for someone else.

patience gardening.jpg

  1. Garden, or in my case, that equates to pulling weeds. Not only is weeding productive, you can work off frustration by thinking about someone or something that upsets you as you yank those weeds out by their roots. Of course, that means you’ll have to first decide what is, and is not, a weed😊. That could be the toughest part.

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  1. At MyHeritage, you can use Irish records for free this month, plus try a free subscription, here in order to access all the rest of the millions of records available at MyHeritage. Check for Smart Matches for ancestors, shown above, and confirm that they are accurate, meaning that the ancestor the other person has in their tree is the same person as you have in your tree – even if they aren’t exactly identical. You don’t need to import any of their information, and I would suggest that you don’t without reviewing every piece of information individually. Confirming Smart Matches helps MyHeritage build Theories of Family Relativity – not to mention you may discover additional information about your ancestors. While you’re checking Smart Matches, who ARE those other people with your grandmother in their tree. Are they relatives who might have information that you don’t? This is a good opportunity to reach out. And what are those 12 pending record matches? Inquiring minds want to know. Let’s check.
patience newspapers

Click to enlarge.

  1. Check either NewsPapers.com or the Newspaper collection at MyHeritage, or both, systematically, for each ancestor. You never know what juicy tidbits you might discover about your ancestors. Often, things “forgotten” by families are the informative morsels you’ll want to know and are hidden in those local news articles. These newsy community newspapers bring the life and times of our ancestors to light in ways nothing else can. Wait, what? My Brethren ancestor, Hiram Ferverda, pleaded guilty to something??? I’d better read this article!

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  1. Interview your relatives. Make a list of questions you’d like for them to answer about themselves and the most distant common ancestors that they knew, or knew about. You can conduct interviews without being physically together via the phone or Skype or Facetime. Document what was said for the future, in writing, and possibly by recording as well. After someone has passed, hearing their voice again is priceless.

Upload download

  1. Transfer your DNA file to vendors that accept transfers, getting more bang for your testing dollars by finding more matches. 23andMe and Ancestry don’t accept transfers.  At MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA, transfers are free and so is matching, but advanced tools require a small unlock fee. I wrote a step-by-step series about how to transfer, here. Each article includes instructions for transferring from or to Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA. Don’t forget to upload to GedMatch for additional tools.

patience brick wall.jpg

  1. Focus on your most irritating brick wall and review what records you do, and don’t have that could be relevant. That would include local, county, state and federal records, tax lists, census, church records and minutes and local histories if they exist. Have you called the local library and asked about vertical files or other researchers? What about state archive resources? Don’t forget activities like google searches. Have you utilized all possible DNA clues, including Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA, if applicable? How about third-party tools like Genetic Affairs and DNAgedcom?

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  1. Try DNAPainter, for free. Painting your chromosomes and walking those segments back in time to your ancestors from whom they descended is so much fun. Not to mention you can integrate ethnicity and now traits, too. I’ve written instructions for using using DNAPainter in a variety of ways, here.

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  1. Expand your education by watching webinars at Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Many are free and a yearly subscription is very reasonable. Take a look, here.

patience bucket.png

  1. Spring cleaning your house or desk. Ewww – cleaning – the activity that is never done and begins undoing itself immediately after you’ve finished? Makes any of the above 20 activities sound wonderful by comparison, right? I agree, so pick one and let’s get started!

Let me know what you find. Write about your search activities and discoveries in your Pandemic journal too.

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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

New Countries of Origin Locations for Y and Mitochondrial Ancestors & Haplotrees at FamilyTreeDNA

Countries of origin flags

New flags provided courtesy of Family Tree DNA.

FamilyTreeDNA rolled out an update that includes new designations for nations, regions and territories – in essence the origins of where your direct patrilineal (direct Y chromosome male line for males) and matrilineal line (mother to mother to mother lineage for everyone) originated.

If you need a quick refresher on the different kinds of DNA we can use for genealogy, please read 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.

These locations are places that can be represented by flags or geographic designations of some sort. Political boundaries move, over time, and Family Tree DNA has attempted to quantify “peoples” as best they can – both in terms of geography and genetic differentiation.

This is a great time to check your personal account to be sure that you have completed your Earliest Known Ancestor information – or update it if a new region has been added that pertains to your genealogy.

Customers can change their earliest known ancestors to these new countries of origins – but they won’t show up on the haplotree with their associated flags until the following day.

These designations are for your direct maternal and paternal lines ONLY. If you want to add a flag and you want to help others identify the origins of their ancestors too, you need to select a location from the drop-down list which translates into a flag on the tree. Hopefully your matches will do the same thing to benefit you.

Quite a few new locations have been added thanks to several dedicated project administrators who focus on specific regions, peoples or areas of the world.

I think you’ll be pleased!

New Indigenous Origins

  • Australia (Aboriginal Australian)
  • Canada (Inuit)
  • Canada (First Nations)
  • New Zealand (Māori)
  • Sápmi (Sami)
  • United States (Kānaka Maoli) – This is what the Hawaiian community prefers over “Native Hawaiian”

Let’s look at an example. A customer changed their designation to New Zealand (Māori) and they now have a Māori flag on their Y DNA Block Tree, provided with the Big Y-700 test.

Countries of Original block tree

Click to enlarge.

Look at haplogroup C-FT133627. There are two results in the database for this haplogroup, and both are Māori, as are the two to the right of this haplogroup as well. This entire branch appears to be indigenous Māori!

This view shows the entire tree branch below C-M208 which includes self-identified patrilineal lines from United States Kanka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiian), Native American, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Māori and New Zealand (without a more specific Māori designation.)

Below is a similar view on the public block tree.

Countries of origin public tree

Click to enlarge

Of course, you can then click on the tree dots at far right of the little flags to view that specific haplogroup and branch locations, shown below.

Countries of origin report

Click to enlarge

This works equally as well for the mitochondrial tree.

My cousin and co-administrator of the Acadian AmerIndian Project who discovered that her ancestor, Anne Marie Rimbault, was Native American through her A2f1a mitochondrial DNA haplogroup changed her most recent known ancestor’s origin to “Canada – First Nations,” as did two other people. All 3 have the new Canada – First Nations flag.

Countries of origin mtdna

Click to enlarge

Looking at the Country Report for A2f1a, here’s what we see.

Countries of origin mtdna report

Click to enlarge

These reports (plus Matches Maps) help testers identify the location where their ancestor was from more granularly than just “Native American” which could encompass the entire North, Central and South America land mass. You can walk your ancestor “back in time” by climbing up the tree.

What other new locations are available? Lots!

New Islands for Oceania and Surrounding Areas

  • Admiralty Islands
  • American Samoa
  • Austral Islands
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos Islands
  • Cook Islands
  • East Timor
  • Gambier Islands
  • Guam
  • Kiribati
  • Marquesas Islands
  • Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • Niue
  • Norfolk Island
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Palau
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
  • Samoa
  • Society Islands
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tokelau Islands
  • Torres Strait Islands
  • Tuamotu Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

Instructions for How to Select (or Change) your Maternal or Paternal Origin Location

Now would be a great time to check to be sure you’ve completed this information, or update it to something more granular, more useful.

You can sign on to your account by clicking here, then click on the down arrow by your name to reveal “Account Settings.”

EKA account settings.png

Click on Account Settings, then on Genealogy and Earliest Known Ancestors.

Eka eka.png

If you’ve already entered an ancestor and location, that information  will show. You may have pushed that brick wall back a few more generations, or discovered that your ancestor was (or wasn’t) Native American based on the mitochondrial or Y DNA results. Update that information. I didn’t realize my own needed attention.

eka countries of origin.png

By way of example, I’m entering the name of my earliest known Canadian First Nations ancestor and then in the drop-down box, I’m selecting “Canada First Nations.” Of course, if they were Inuit (or something else,) I’d select that instead.

Ancestral Locations

The actual location, meaning a town or specific location is also recorded elsewhere.

eka update

Click to enlarge

Let’s say that I thought my ancestor was from Germany, but now I’ve learned differently. All I need to do is to click on “Update Location” to be taken to the “Plot Ancestral Locations” map where I can select a specific location.

eka ancestral locations.png

The page above shows only YOUR patrilineal and matrilineal ancestors’ locations – that pink and blue pin – not the locations of your matches. That’s the Matches Map screen available from your account page.

On the Plot Ancestral Locations page, click on “Edit Location” for either maternal or paternal and follow the steps to document the location of your earliest known ancestor on each your maternal (matrilineal) and paternal (patrilineal) lines.

This information, plus your matches ancestors’ locations can be seen on your Patches Map under either Y or mitochondrial DNA results on your personal page, shown below.

eka matches map.png

Here’s my ancestor in Wirbenz, Germany, is shown with the white pin, plus pins representing the earliest known ancestors of my full sequence matches who have entered their geographic information.

Check Your Match Results – Again

So often, we forget to check the results of our own kits and the ones that we manage, even though FamilyTreeDNA sends notifications of matches. That means it’s easy to miss important information.

In this case, if people update their Earliest Known Ancestor field under Account Settings, you’ll see their ancestor in your match list. Or, you’ll see a blank space if they didn’t enter anything – or if you forget to check periodically and they’ve updated their information.

eka matches.png

The great irony is that some of these people with no Earliest Known Ancestors (EKA) do have trees, indicated by the blue pedigree icons. Several of the people with trees also have matrilineal ancestors listed, like my first match who did NOT enter her earliest known ancestor in her account information, but whose ancestor is found just 12 km away from my ancestor in Germany. Now THAT’S interesting!!!

eka germany map.png

Many people will just glance at that empty Earliest Known Ancestor space and pass on by. It’s important to provide your earliest known ancestor information – important for your matches and for the Matches Map feature to provide as much information as possible.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone added their Earliest Known Ancestor? Feel free to make friendly contact with your matches and suggest doing so, because it can benefit them too. You can even forward this article with handy-dandy instructions.

eka eka more

Click to enlarge

What gems might be waiting for you?

10 Gems Waiting!

Here’s a checklist for the 10 things described above to discover more information:

  1. Check/Update matrilineal and patrilineal EKA information.
  2. Update or add your ancestral map location.
  3. Check your mitochondrial and Y DNA Matches Map for ancestral locations of your matches.
  4. Check your matches page to review new matches and the EKA of existing matches.
  5. Contact matches with no trees or EKA to ask them to add both in order to receive the maximum benefit from their tests.
  6. Build out your matches’ trees where possible, looking for a common ancestor or location.
  7. Check your Y and mitochondrial DNA matches to see if they are also Family Finder matches using the Advanced Matches feature on your personal page.
  8. Check the Block Tree for Big Y testers (who mayor maynot be matches to you) and their ancestral locations.
  9. Check the public Y Tree and countries of origin report for your haplogroup and those of your ancestors. Instructions here, if needed.
  10. Check the public mitochondrial tree and countries of origin report for your haplogroup and those of your ancestors. Instructions here, if needed.

Enjoy, and tell me if you find something fun!

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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Phylogenetic Tree of Novel Coronavirus (hCoV-19) Covid-19

Covid Pedigree.png

I found this information about the phylogenetic tree of Covid-19 very interesting, in part, due to how rapidly this virus mutates.

Note that this tree was constructed with shared contributed information from just 333 samples, and that as of today, we know of 126,000+ confirmed cases, meaning that there are assuredly many more and this tree is a bare bones structure.

This tree and additional information can be viewed in various ways on this site.

Covid branching.png

Imagine how vast this tree would look if we could see the entire branching tree structure. This also explains the phenomenon of rapid viral mutation to either more or less virulent strains, and why “next year’s” vaccine will only be partially effective against a strain that was prevalent a few months earlier.

Let’s talk about mutations for a minute. We look at trees like this for the history of mankind or womankind over tens of thousands of years, not a 9 or 10 week timeline in the evolution of a virus.

If you look at that orange branch at about 5 o’clock, you can easily imagine that branch mutating to be nearly harmless, and the red branch at about 2 o’clock mutating to be even more deadly. It would be some time until we discovered that the different tree branches were behaving in different ways, and then even longer to determine how to harvest that information and distill it to be useful for prevention or cure.

I also found it very interesting to view the source of the various viral strains in the Americas on a GIS map.

Covid infection map.png

The strain in western Canada originated in Iran, as did the strain in New Zealand and one in Australia. Of course, the Iranian line originally came from China. Some infections in Australia came directly from China, as did most of the European pockets. South America and Mexico both arrived from Italy, as did many of the UK infections, although some appear to have passed through the Netherlands and Belgium first.

If you ever had any doubt in your mind about world being high interconnected, this should remove any question.

Take a few minutes and look at all of the informational options on this website. It’s wonderfully cool and is not limited to this outbreak.

I’ve updated my original article with additional resources as they’ve become available – in particular this “active case” map.

Keep yourself safe. Wash, limit social contact and hey, do some genealogy!

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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

Parallels & Help: COVID-19 Coronavirus and Spanish Flu Pandemics

Pandemics, described as epidemics that spread to very large areas or the entire world, aren’t new.

It was exactly 100 years ago, this day, that my father, serving in the military where he had been suffering from the Spanish Flu in the Army barracks at Camp Custer, Michigan awaited word about his grandparents.

Joseph, known as Dode, Bolton had died on February 24rd. The flu was rampant in the Claiborne County, TN community of Hoop Creek where he and his wife, Margaret Claxton lived.

On Dode’s death certificate, his cause of death was described as “Pneumonia in both lungs following the flu.” The doctor has been caring for him for 6 days, although there wasn’t much the doctor could do.

flu Dode.png

The death certificate says Dode was buried the next day, but that’s not what the family recalled.

Dode’s body was put out in the barn where it was cold, awaiting burial. Everyone was sick, too sick to build a casket and dig a grave. Besides, the family was waiting on something else.

Margaret was sick too. She wasn’t expected to live either – and she didn’t. She lingered another 14 days beyond Dode when she too died of flu complications on March 10.

Flu Margaret.png

According to her death certificate, she had been under the doctor’s care since the same day as Dode. Her cause of death was “Bronco Pnumonia following flu.”

The family stated that they were buried together in the spring, when the ground thawed and people got well enough to dig the graves and bury the couple.

Browsing the Claiborne County death records, there were many spring deaths that year.

100 Years Apart

Dode and Margaret died before the invention of antibiotics and anti-viral drugs. Before the days of oxygen “tents,” hospitals and life-saving treatments. And certainly, before the days of vaccinations.

One would think that in today’s modern world, we would be beyond rapidly spreading pandemics – yet – here we are.

Exactly 100 years later we are facing another uncontrolled pandemic – the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

But there is one big difference. Our world has gotten smaller in the sense that people travel more often, more rapidly and more widely. Everyone depends on automobiles and rapid transit systems. Air travel is an everyday occurrence – meaning that a contagious disease can be very quickly spread worldwide. That’s exactly what’s happening. People travel, become infected and spread the disease back home before they know they are ill, like ant poison carried into the heart of the entire ant colony – Typhoid Mary on steroids.

What is the COVID-19 Coronavirus?

The Covid-19 Coronavirus is related to other viruses, which make humans and animals sick.

Over time, viruses mutate, become slightly different and more deadly as we have no immunity to fight the new viral strain.

That’s why there’s a new flu shot developed every year, and why the effectiveness may vary. Sometimes different people become sick from the same virus in different ways, meaning some people who are infected with the COVID-19 may have either no or light symptoms. Some become very sick but recover. And of course, as we’ve all heard, some die.

The worse part though, is that it appears that people can actually infect others during the 2- 14 days before they develop symptoms and up to 14 days after the symptoms are gone.

Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure. Some people are contagious but have no symptoms as all. Not a lot is known about this virus at this time, so an abundance of caution is in order.

What are the Symptoms?

Flu Covid symptoms

By Mikael Häggström, M.D.- Author info- Reusing images – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87644670

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports symptoms here, which include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Generally NOT a runny nose, vomiting or intestinal discomfort. This virus attacks through the lungs – although everyone can manifest this disease somewhat differently.

Older people, over 60, and increasing with age, or people with compromised immune systems such as HIV or transplant patients, people undergoing chemo or people with underlying organic systemic health issues such as lung, liver, kidney or heart disease are particularly vulnerable.

There is currently no vaccine nor treatment except for treating the symptoms individually as they appear. Therefore, prevention is key.

Diagnostic Swab Test

There is a swab test, but they are in very short supply inthe US and most people with symptoms are currently not being tested here.

Currently, the virus has been confirmed in about half the US states, but with no or inadequate testing, it’s certainly possible that it’s far more widespread than we know at this point.

My family member who teaches at a medical school hospital says they’ve adopted the “washing and introvert” protocol. That’s good advice for all of us.

What Can You Do?

This is NOT a time to panic, but it absolutely IS time to educate yourself and take preventative measures, including:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for a full minute, often.
  • Use hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes liberally. Can’t find hand sanitizer? You can use anything with more than 60% alcohol. Here’s a list of disinfecting products provided by the EPA. Here’s a sanitizer recipe, and another one here from the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Follow CDC recommendations here.
  • If you get sick with COVID-19 symptoms, the initial recommendation was to go to the hospital to be tested. However, now the recommendation is to call your health-care provider so as not to potentially infect others.
  • Don’t touch things like gas pump handles and doorknobs, especially in public places. I always wash my hands after touching things like menus in restaurants.
  • Stay home. Given that people don’t know if they are infected and can be infecting others for a full 2 weeks before they realize they are ill, your best bet to stay well is to stay at home.
  • If you feel ill or “off,” don’t go to work or anyplace. Many employers are arranging for people to work from home if possible.
  • If your child is ill, keep them at home too. School and confined spaces are literally petri dishes.
  • Don’t touch your face, meaning mouth, nose or eyes. People think they don’t, but they do without realizing it. This also extends to finger foods.

Face masks may or may not be effective. The virus is typically spread by actual contact, but if you are sneezed on directly and breath in the drops, you can contract the disease that way. However, the most common infection route is through touching something an infected person touched or otherwise contaminated and then touching your face. Face masks may help prevent you from touching your own face, even if they don’t directly prevent the virus in other ways. Please see the letter from Dr. Robb, below.

Where to Obtain Reliable News

This virus is a health issue, not a political football (please, no political comments, regardless of how you feel.) I would strongly, strongly recommend obtaining your information from health professionals and those who have no other agenda.

Here are some resources for you, including maps.

Letter from Dr. James Robb, MD FCAP

This letter, written to his family and friends by James Robb, MD FCAP, a renowned pathologist, confirmed by SNOPES, provides the following common-sense insight:

Dear Family and Friends, as some of you may recall, when I was a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, I was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses (the 1970s). I was the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Since then, I have kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple clinical transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources.

The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread by mid to late March and April.

Here is what I have done and the precautions that I take and will take. These are the same precautions I currently use during our influenza seasons, except for the mask and gloves.:

1) NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.

2) Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.

3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.

4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.

5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.

6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.

7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

What I have stocked in preparation for the pandemic spread to the US:

1) Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas.

Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs). The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.

2) Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth – it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.

3) Stock up now with hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.

4) Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.

I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defense against it. Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. BUT, there will be NO drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.

I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic. Good luck to all of us,

James Robb, MD FCAP

There is NO Rewind

Once it’s too late, you can’t go back for a do-over, so please don’t think this advice is for “everyone else.” It’s for everyone, including you and me. Yes, I know it’s inconvenient, but it’s also critically important.

Major conferences are cancelling as are events that bring people into close contact. These cancellations have huge economic impacts on the sponsors and attendees, meaning this is not a decision the organizers take lightly. If they are willing to forgo this opportunity and suffer the economic consequences in order to keep attendees safe, even if the virus isn’t known to be found in that location – yet – please heed that example and do the same, even if something you had planned to do hasn’t yet cancelled. All I can say is that I’m glad RootsTech was last week instead of next week – because I wouldn’t be there.

If you minimize your own chances of exposure, you also minimize infecting others before you know you’ve been exposed. Remember, people are contagious as much as 2 weeks both before and after they are actually ill, if they manifest symptoms at all.

Once the damage is done, there no going back and “I’m sorry” matters not to dead people or their grieving families. Back in 1920, Dode and Margaret were sharing a gourd dipper for drinking well water and attending church with their neighbors who were doing the same. They didn’t understand about germs and contagion. We do and we have the opportunity, and responsibility, to prevent that same outcome.

Take a look around you – those people you love are the people you are saving by NOT taking a chance of getting infected yourself.

Introvert, stay home, wash your hands and do some genealogy.

As Dr. Robb said, “good luck to all of us.”

Please feel free to share this article widely.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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

Free Webinar: 3 Case Studies and How I Solved Them

I recorded my latest webinar live yesterday for Legacy Family Tree Webinars, but Murphy interfered a bit in the last 5 minutes or so. The great news is that we re-recorded that portion and it’s fixed seamlessly for your (free until March 10th) viewing pleasure.

This webinar utilizes historical and genealogical records, autosomal, Y or mitochondrial DNA, sometimes in combination with each other, to solve various cases. I use the features available at the major vendors plus third-party tools as well – whatever is needed to address the situation at hand.

Which resources I use, when, depends on what I have to work with and where I seek to go – kind of like following clues on a treasure map – except this treasure trove I’m unearthing is my ancestors!

You’re not going to believe how much information, and how many generations were revealed in the mitochondrial DNA case. This was a GOLD MINE!

3 Case Studies and How I Solved Them is free until March 10th by clicking here. This is a wonderful opportunity if you didn’t get to watch live or had viewing issues. Just scroll down to the very first webinar in the library.

Legacy Tree 3 case studies.png

After March 10th, you’ll need a subscription which you can purchase, here by clicking on the subscribe link in the upper right hand corner of the Legacy Family Tree Webinar  page.

Legacy Tree subscribe.png

If you want to order any of the tests mentioned in the webinar, they are available at the following links:

Instructions for transferring from vendors to either FamilyTreeDNA or My Heritage are found here. I recommend transferring to or between both. In other words, make sure you are in all 4 of the major testing databases. You never know where that critically important match is going to be found.

Need an autosomal testing and transfer strategy to minimize costs and mazimize results? Click here.

Enjoy and Share the Love

You can always forward my articles to friends or share by posting links on social media. Who do you know that might be interested?

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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

RootsTech 2020: It’s a Wrap

Before sharing photos and details about the last three days at RootsTech, I want to provide some general observations.

I expected the attendance to be down this year because of the concern about the Novel Corona Virus. There was a lot of hand-washing and sanitizer, but no hand-wringing.

I don’t think attendance was lagging at all. In fact, this show was larger, based on how my feet feel and general crowd observation than ever before. People appeared to be more engaged too.

According to RootsTech personnel, 4 major vendors pulled out the week before the show opened; 23andMe, LivingDNA, FindMyPast and a book vendor.

I doubt there’s much of a refund policy, so surely something happened in these cases. If you recall, LivingDNA and FindMyPast have a business relationship. 23andMe just laid off a number of people, but then again, so did Ancestry but you’d never know it based on the size of their booth and staffing here.

Family Search has really stepped up their game to modernize, capture stories, scan books and otherwise make genealogy interesting and attractive to everyone.

We got spoiled last year with the big DNA announcements at RootsTech, but nothing of that magnitude was announced this year. That’s not to say there weren’t vendor announcements, there were.

FamilyTreeDNA announced:

  • Their myOrigins Version 3.0 which is significantly updated by adding several worldwide populations, increasing the number from 24 to 90. I wrote about these features here.
  • Adding a myOrigins chromosome browser painted view. I am SOOO excited about this because it makes ethnicity actually useful for genealogy because we can compare specific ethnicity segments with genealogical matches. I can hardly wait.

RootsTech 2020 Sunny Paul

Sunny Morton with Family Tree Magazine interviewing Dr. Paul Maier, FamilyTreeDNA’s population geneticist. You can see the painted chromosome view on the screen behind Dr. Maier.

  • Providing, after initial release, a downloadable ethnicity estimate segment file.
  • Sponsorship of The Million Mito Project, a joint collaborative citizen science project to rewrite the mitochondrial tree of womankind includes team members Dr. Miguel Vilar, Lead Scientist of the National Geographic Genographic Project, Dr. Paul Maier, Population Geneticist at FamilyTreeDNA, Goran Runfeldt, Head of Research and Development at FamilyTreeDNA, and me, DNAeXplain, scientist, genetic genealogist, National Geographic Genographic Affiliate Researcher.

RootsTech 2020 Million Mito

I was honored to make The Million Mito Project announcement Saturday morning, but it was hard for me to contain my enthusiasm until Saturday. This initiative is super-exciting and I’ll be writing about the project, and how you can participate, as soon as I get home and recover just a bit.

  • Michael Sager, aka Mr. Big Y, announced additions to the Y Tree of Mankind in the Demo Theater, including a particularly impressive haplogroup D split.

Rootstech 2020 Sager

RootsTech 2020 Sager 2

RootsTech 2020 Sager hap d

In case anyone is counting, as of last week, the Y tree has 26,600+ named branches and over half a million detected (private variant) SNPs at FamilyTreeDNA waiting for additional testers to be placed on the tree. All I can say is WOW!!! In 2010, a decade ago, there were only 441 Y DNA branches on the entire Y tree. The Y tree has shot up from a twig to an evergreen. I think it’s actually a Sequoia and we just don’t know how large it’s going to grow to be.

RootsTech 2020 FTDNA booth

FamilyTreeDNA stepped up their game with a way-cool new booth that incorporated a lovely presentation area, greatly improved, which featured several guest presenters throughout the conference, including Judy Russell, below.

RootsTech 2020 Judy Russell

Yes, in case anyone is wondering, I DID ask permission to take Judy’s picture, AND to publish it in my article. Just sayin’😊

MyHeritage announced their new photo colorization, MyHeritage in Color, just before RootsTech. I wrote about it, here. At RootsTech MyHeritage had more announcements, including:

  • Enhancements coming soon to the photo colorization program. It was interesting to learn that the colorization project went live in less than 2 months from inception and resulted from an internal “hack-a-thon,” which in the technology industry is a fun think-tank sort of marathon endeavor where ideas flow freely in a competitive environment. Today, over a million photos have been colorized. People LOVE this feature.

RootsTech 2020 MyHeritage booth

One of their booth giveaways was a magnet – of your colorized ancestor’s photo. Conference attendees emailed the photo to a special email address and came by the booth a few minutes later to retrieve their photo magnet.

The photos on the board in front, above, are the colorized photos waiting for their family to pick them up. How fun!!!

  • Fan View for family trees which isn’t just a chart, but dynamic in that you can click on any person and they become the “center.” You can also add to your tree from this view.

RootsTech 2020 MyHeritage fan tree

One of the views is a colorful fan. If you sign on to your MyHeritage account, you’ll be asked if you’d like to see the new fan view. You can read about the new tree features on their blog, here.

  • The release of a MASSIVE 100-year US city directory digitization project that’s more than just imaging and indexing. If you’ve every used city directories, the unique abbreviations in each one will drive you batty. MyHeritage has solved that problem by providing the images, plus the “translation.” They’ve also used artificial intelligence to understand how to search further, incorporating things like spouse, address and more to provide you with not just one year or directory, but linear information that might allow you to infer the death of a spouse, for example. You can read their blog article, here.

RootsTech 2020 MyHeritage city directories

The MyHeritage booth incorporated a very cool feature this year about the Mayflower. Truthfully, I was quite surprised, because the Mayflower is a US thing. MyHeritage is working with folks in Leiden, Netherlands, where some Mayflower family members remained while others continued to what would become Plymouth Colony to prove the connection.

Rootstech 2020 MyHeritage Mayflower virtual

MyHeritage constructed a 3D area where you can sail with the Pilgrims.

I didn’t realize at first, but the chair swivels and as you move, your view in the 3D “goggles” changes to the direction on board the ship where you are looking.

RootsTech 2020 MyHeritage Mayflower virtual 2

The voyage in 1620 was utterly miserable – very rough with a great deal of illness. They did a good job of portraying that, but not “too much” if you get my drift. What you do feel is the utter smallness of the ship in the immense angry ocean.

I wonder how many descendants “sailed with their ancestors” on the virtual Mayflower. Do you have Mayflower ancestors? Mine are William Brewster, his wife, Mary and daughter, Patience along with Stephen Hopkins and his son, Gyles.

Ancestry’s only announcements were:

  • That they are “making things better” by listening and implementing improvements in the DNA area. I’ll forego any commentary because it would be based on their failure to listen and act (for years) about the absence of segment information and a chromosome browser. You’ve guessed it, that’s not mentioned.
  • That the WWII young man Draft Registration cards are now complete and online. Truthfully, I had no idea that the collection I was using online wasn’t complete, which I actually find very upsetting. Ancestry, assuming you actually are listening, how about warning people when they are using a partially complete collection, meaning what portion is and is not complete.
  • Listing content record additions planned for 2020 including the NYC birth index and other state and international records, some of which promise to be very useful. I wonder which states the statewide digitization projects pertain to and what that means, exactly.

OK, now we’re done with vendor announcements, so let’s just take a walk around the expo hall and see who and what we find. We might run into some people you know!

Walking Around

I sandwiched my walking around in-between my sessions. Not only did I present two RootsTech classes, but hosted the ToolMaker Meetup, attended two dinners, two lunches, announced The Million Mito Project, did two booth talks, one for FamilyTreeDNA and one for WikiTree, and I think something else I’ve forgotten about. Plus, all the planned and chance meetings which were absolutely wonderful.

Oh yes, and I attended a couple of sessions myself as an attendee and a few in the vendors booths too.

The great thing, or at least I think its great, is that most of the major vendors also have booth educational learning opportunities with presentation areas at their booths. Unfortunately, there is no centralized area where you can find out which booths have sessions, on what topics, when. Ditto for the Demo Theater.

Of course, that means booth presentations are also competing for your time with the regular sessions – so sometimes it’s really difficult to decide. It’s sort of like you’re awash in education for 4 days and you just can’t absorb enough. By Saturday, you’re physically and emotionally exhausted and you can’t absorb another iota, nor can you walk another step. But then you see someone you know and the pain in your feet is momentarily forgotten.

Please note that there were lots of other people that I saw and we literally passed, hugged and waved, or we were so engrossed in conversation that I didn’t realize until later that I had failed to take the photo. So apologies to all of those people.

RootsTech 2020 Amy Mags

I gave a presentation in the WikiTree booth about how to incorporate WikiTree into your 52 Ancestor stories, both as a research tool and as a way to bait the hook for cousins. Not to mention seeing if someone has already tested for Y or mtDNA, or candidates to do so.

That’s Amy Johnson Crow who started the 52 Ancestors challenge years ago, on the left and Mags Gaulden who writes at Grandma’s Genes and is a WikiTree volunteer (not to mention MitoY DNA.) Amy couldn’t stay for the presentation, so of course, I picked on her in her absence! I suspect her ears were burning. All in a good way of course.

RootsTech 2020 Kevin Borland

Kevin Borland of Borland Genetics, swabbing at the Family Tree DNA  booth, I hope for The Million Mito Project.

RootsTech 2020 Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz with MyHeritage at the blogger dinner. How about that advertising on his laptop lid. I need to do that with DNAexplain. Wonder where I can get one of those decals custom made.

RootsTech 2020 Hasani

Hasani Carter who I know from Facebook and who I discovered volunteering in a booth at RootsTech. I love to see younger people getting involved and to meet people in person. Love your dreads, Hasani.

RootsTech 2020 Randy Seaver

Cousin Randy Seaver who writes at Genea-Musings, daily, and has for YEARS. Believe it or not, he has published more than 13,000 articles, according to the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Dear Myrtle at RootsTech. What an incredible legacy.

If you don’t already subscribe (it’s free), you’re missing out. By the way, I discovered Randy was my cousin when I read one of his 52 Ancestors articles, recognizing that his ancestor and my ancestor had the same surname in the same place. He knew the connection. Those articles really work. Thanks Randy – it was so good to see you again.

RootsTech 2020 univ dundee

The University of Dundee booth, with Sylvia Valentine and Pat Whatley, was really fun.  As part of their history and genealogy curriculum (you an earn certificates, bachelors and masters degrees,) they teach paleography, which, in case you are unaware is the official word for deciphering “ancient handwriting.” You didn’t know that’s what you’d been doing did you?

RootsTech 2020 paleography

They provided ink and quills for people to try their own hand.

RootsTech 2020 Paleography 2

The end of the feather quill pen is uneven and scratchy. Pieces separate and splatter ink. You can’t “write,” you draw the letters very, very carefully and slowly. I must say, my “signature” is more legible than normal.

Rootstech 2020 scribe

I now have a lot more empathy for those scribes. It’s probably a good thing that early records are no worse than they are.

RootsTech 2020 Gilad Japhet

Gilad Japhet at the MyHeritage luncheon. I have attended other vendor sponsored (but paid by the attendee) lunches at RootsTech in the past and found them disappointing, especially for the cost. Now MyHeritage is the only sponsored lunch that I attend and I always enjoy it immensely. Yes, I arrived early and sat dead center in front.

I also have a confession to make – I was so very excited about being contacted by Mary Tan Hai’s son that I was finishing colorizing the photos part of the time while Gilad was talking. (I did warn him so he didn’t think I was being rude.) But it’s HIS fault because he made these doggone photos so wonderful – and let’s just say time was short to get the photos to Mary’s family. You can read this amazing story, here.

Gilad always shares part of his own personal family story, and this time was no different. He shared that his mother is turning 85 soon and that the family, meaning her children and grandchildren all teamed up to make her a lovely video. Trust me, it was and made us all smile.

I’m so grateful for a genealogy company run by a genealogist. Speaking of that, Gilad’s mother was a MyHeritage board member in the beginning. That beginning also included a story about how the MyHeritage name came to be, and how Gilad managed to purchase the domain for an unwilling seller. Once again, by proxy, his mother entered into the picture. If you have the opportunity to hear Gilad speak – do – you won’t be disappointed. You’ll hear him speak for sure if you attend MyHeritage LIVE in Tel Aviv this October.

RootsTech 2020 Paul Woodbury

Paul Woodbury who works for Legacy Tree Genealogists, has a degree in both family history and genetics from BYU. He’s standing with Scott Fisher (left). Paul’s an excellent researcher and the only way you can put him to work on your brick wall is through Legacy Tree Genealogists. If you contact them for a quote, tell them I referred you for a $50 discount.

Rootstech 2020 Toolmaker meetup

From The ToolMaker’s Meetup, at far left, Jonny Pearl of DNAPainter, behind me, Dana Leeds who created The Leeds Method, and at right, Rob Warthen, the man behind DNAGedcom. Thanks to Michelle Patient for the photo.

RootsTech 2020 Toolmaker meetup 2

The meetup was well received and afforded people an opportunity to meet and greet, ask questions and provide input.

RootsTech 2020 Campbell baby

In fact, we’re working on recruiting the next generation. I have to say, my “grandma” kicked in and I desperately wanted to hold this beautiful baby girl. What a lovely family. Of course, when I noticed the family name is Campbell, we had a discussion of a different nature, especially since my cousin, Kevin Campbell and I were getting ready to have lunch. We will soon find out if Heidi’s husband is our relative, which makes her and her daughter our relative too!

Rootstech 2020 Kevin Campbell

It was so much fun to sit and develop a research plan with Kevin Campbell. We’re related, somehow on the Campbell line – we just have to sort out when and where.

Bless Your Heart

The photo I cherish most from RootsTech 2020 is the one that’s not pictured here.

A very special gentleman told me, when I asked if we could take a picture together, after he paid me the lovely compliment of saying that my session was the best one he had ever attended, that he doesn’t “do pictures.” Not in years, literally. I thought he was kidding at first, but he was deadly seriously.

The next day, I saw him again a couple of times and we shares stories. Our lives are very different, yet they still intersected in amazing ways. I feel like I’ve known him forever.

Then on the last day, he attended my Million Mito presentation and afterwards came up and told me a new story. How he had changed his mind, and what prompted the change of heart. Now we have a wonderful, lovely photo together which I will cherish all the more because I know how special it is – and how wonderful that makes me feel.

To my friend – you know who you are – thank you! You have blessed my heart. Bless yours😊

The Show Floor

I think I actually got all the way through the show floor, but I’m not positive. In some cases, the “rows” weren’t straight or had dead ends due to large booths, and it was possible to miss an area. I didn’t get to every booth I wanted to. Some were busy, some I simply forgot to take photos.

RootsTech 2020 everything

You can literally find almost anything.

I focused on booths related to genetic genealogy, but not exclusively.

RootsTech 2020 DNAPainter

Jonny Perl and the DNAPainter booth. I’ve written lots of articles, here, about using DNAPainter, one of my very favorite tools.

RootsTech 2020 Rootstech store

The RootsTech store was doing a brisk business.

RootsTech 2020 DNA basics

The RootsTech show area itself had a DNA Basics area which I thought was brilliant in its simplicity.

Inheritance is show by jellybeans.

Rootstech 2020 dNA beans

Put a cup under the outlet and pull the lever.

Rootstech 2020 beans in cup

How many of which color you receive in your cup is random, although you get exactly the same number from the maternal and paternal side.

Now you know I wanted to count these, don’t you?

Rootstech 2020 JellyGenes

And they are of course, called, “JellyGenes.” Those must be deletions still laying in the bin.

RootsTech 2020 Wikitree

WikiTree booth and volunteers. I love WikiTree – it’s “one great tree” is not perfect but these are the people, along with countless others that inject the “quality” into the process.

RootsTech 2020 MitoYDNA

MitoYDNA with Kevin Borland standing in front of the sign.

RootsTech 2020 Crossley

This amazing artist whose name I didn’t get. I was just so struck by her work, painting her ancestor from the picture on her phone.

RootsTech 2020 painter

I wish I was this talented. I would love to have some of my ancestor’s painted. Hmm….

Rootstech 2020 GeneaCreations

Jeanette at GeneaCreations makes double helix zipper pulls, along with lots of other DNA bling, and things not so blingy for men. These are just SOOO cool.

RootsTech 2020 zipper pull

I particularly love my “What’s Your Haplogroup” t-shirt and my own haplogroup t-shirt. Yes, she does custom work. What’s your haplogroup? You can see those goodies here.

Around the corner, I found CelebrateDNA.

RootsTech 2020 Celebrate DNA

Is that a Viking wearing a DNA t-shirt?

Rootstech 2020 day of the dead

CelebrateDNA has some very cool “Day of the Dead” bags, t-shirts and mouse pads, in addition to their other DNA t-shirts. I bought an “Every day is Day of the Dead for Genealogists” mouse pad which will live permanently in my technology travel bag. You can see their other goodies, here.

RootsTech 2020 skeleton

Hey, I think I found a relative. Can we DNA test to see?

Rootstech 2020 Mayflower replica

The Mayflower Society had a fun booth with a replica model ship.

RootsTech 2020 Mayflower passengers

Along with the list of passengers perched on a barrel of the type that likely held food or water for the Pilgrims.

RootsTech 2020 Webinar Marathon

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is going to have a 24-hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon March 12-13. So, who is going to stay up for this?Iit’s free and just take a look at the speakers, and topics, here. I’m guessing lots of people will take advantage of this opportunity. You can also subscribe for more webinars, here.

On March 4th, I’m presenting a FREE webinar, “3 Genealogy DNA Case Studies and How I Solved Them,” so sign up and join in!

Rootstech 2020 street art

Food at RootsTech falls into two categories. Anything purchased in the convention center meaning something to stave off starvation, and some restaurant with friends – the emphasis being on friends.

A small group went for pizza one evening when we were too exhausted to do anything else. Outside I found this interesting street art – and inside Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana I had the best Margarita Pizza I think I’ve ever had.

Then, as if I wasn’t already stuffed to the gills, attached through a doorway in the wall is Capo Gelateria Italiana, creators of artisan gelato. I’ve died and gone to heaven. Seriously, it’s a good thing I don’t live here.

Rootstech 2020 gelatto

Who says you can’t eat ice cold gelato in the dead of winter, outside waiting for the Uber, even if your insides are literally shivering and shaking!! It was that good.

This absolutely MUST BE a RootsTech tradition.

Rootstech 2020 ribbons

That’s it for RootsTech 2020. Hope you’ve enjoyed coming along on this virtual journey and that you’ve found something interesting, perhaps a new hint or tool to utilize.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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

OMG, Mary Tan Hai is Found – 52 Ancestors #275

Late last night, the son of my mother’s dance partner, Mary Tan Hai, reached out to me after googling his mother’s name during the time she danced in Chicago and found my 52 ancestors article about Mary and mother dancing together during WWII.

Except, her name really wasn’t Mary Tan Hai. It was changed from something I never knew until last night to protect her from being sent to a concentration camp during the war.

If you recall, I wrote about my mother’s professional ballet and tap dancing career during WWII, here. Mother’s dance troupe partner and good friend, Mary, was Japanese. Her family was interred in the Japanese Detention Camps here in the US. Mary couldn’t communicate with them or her Japanese identity would be discovered and she would be sent away too.

In order to protect Mary, they changed her name and the dancers protected her within the troupe. Mary “became” Chinese. There was no record in the troupe of her Japanese origins, just in case. I don’t know if mother ever knew Mary’s true name.

My mother was born in 1922. After Mom’s fiancé was killed in action, she left the troupe and eventually lost track of Mary, but never forgot her best friend and roommate. She talked about Mary and wondered what happened to her. I presumed when I wrote the article about Mom’s dancing career that Mary had long-ago passed. I searched, but I couldn’t find anything about Mary Tan Hai anyplace. Now I know that’s because that wasn’t her real name.

I was wrong. Mary wasn’t deceased.

Mary’s family is “gathered round her”, her son wrote me last night, as she prepares to pass over. Mary and Mom will reunite soon. Oh, the stories they’ll have to tell. The hugs they’ll share!

Even though I’m at RootsTech today, I quickly found a table on the Expo Hall floor, downloaded the photos from my own blog to my laptop, colorized the photos at MyHeritage, downloaded them and mailed the newly-alive colorized photos to Mary’s son.

A few hour later, I receive a lovely gift in return that I never imagined. Mary, as it turned out, had a photo album with pictures of mother I had never seen. I am forever grateful. After I sort through what I received, I’ll be publishing that information soon.

I’m so glad to know that Mary married, to a serviceman it turned out, had a family and a long, wonderful life. Perhaps Mary can still enjoy these photos, and if not, I know, based on the thank you note that her family is.

Thank you so much MyHeritage for providing this AMAZING tool to allow us to connect and share and remember. For everyone who is interested in colorizing photos, the first 10 are free for people without a MyHeritage subscription, and unlimited free colorization of photos if you do have a subscription. I’ve provided instructions here.

Now, take a look at these beautiful colorized photos!

Mother, Mary Tan Hai and troope

Mother is middle row right. Mary is back row right, just above Mom.

Mother, Mary Tan Hai and troope colorized

Mother and Mary Tan Hai

Mother and Mary Tan Hai colorized

Mary Tan Hai

Mary Tan Hai colorized

Mary Tan Hai gazebo

Mary Tan Hai gazebo colorized

Mother, Mary Tan Hai lawn

Mother, Mary Tan Hai lawn colorized

Mary Tan Hai well

Mary Tan Hai well colorized

Mom, Mary Tan Hai peeking

Mom, Mary Tan Hai peeking colorized

Update: Mary’s beautiful obituary can be found here. Thank you to her family for the notification.

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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