Friday, March 28, 2014

The DNA Rain Dance

Click Here for Savings
mtFull Sequence 

Some people can make it rain, I obviously can change the price (if only for 4 days) of the mtFullSequence DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA. Yes I'm taking credit for it! Just two days ago 26 March, I mentioned how the costs of the mtDNA Full Sequence tests is prohibitive. See Understanding mtDNA. My only con: "The full sequence mtDNA tests are expensive and the likeliness of matching is slim due to the fact that there are too few participants."

I guess FamilyTreeDNA was listening, (or not...I'm still taking credit for it). For 4 days only they have reduced their Full Sequence mtDNA tests to $139.00 (a $60.00 savings).  If this is a new kit, you get the savings; or if you need to upgrade your mtDNA tests (standard HvR1 & 2 ) it can be done at a $60.00 savings. Check to see if your kit is eligible. Our a3Genealogy clients have all received emails. 

As I mentioned before, for the maximum results of your mtDNA tests, the Full Sequence is needed. And, no, I do not work for FamilyTreeDNA, or get any compensation for sharing this information. It just helps the entire family research community. Let's help build this database.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Understanding mtDNA

Photo From Maternal Ancestry Store, Genebase
HVR1 and HVR2 Results

Over and over the a3Genealogy DNA team are asked if mtDNA and X chromosome are the same. Simply, the answer is no. Yet, the mitochondrial DNA , carried down the female line to her children (sons and daughters), is passed from mothers and contributes to the X chromosome path. Sons, do not pass mtDNA. 
What Can Be Gleened from the mtDNA Tests?
mtDNA covers the hyper-variable regions of the genome and covers both recent and distant generations : 1) HVR1 (16024-16569) produces large number of matches 2) HVR2 (00001-00576) test results combined with HVR1 assists in identifying maternal ethnic and geographic origin, haplogroup. But genealogical gains are limited:
  • Matching on HVR1 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last fifty-two generations. That is about 1,300 years. (1)
  • Matching on HVR1 and HVR2 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last twenty-eight generations. That is about 700 years. (1)
If you want the possibility to match common recent ancestors, consider a "full sequence" mtDNA test by adding the Coding region 00577-16023, the entire mitochondrial genome. Compared to the HVR1 and HRV2 testing, "a perfect match of a full sequence test indicates a common ancestor in recent times" (2)
  • Matching on the Mitochondrial DNA Full Genomic Sequence test brings your matches into times that are more recent. It means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 5 generations. That is about 125 years. (1)
Con: The full sequence MtDNA tests are expensive and the likeliness of matching is slim due to the fact that there are too few participants. 

Is mtDNA Testing Helpful?
Yes. Researchers may uncover the following:
  1. Haplogroup: Identify the origin/general region of my maternal ancestors (Native American, Jewish, etc.? What was their migratory path? 
  2. Indigenous: Identify an indigenous match. This is most helpful when matching ethnic groups. Are you Native American? Aborigines?
  3. Exact Match: With the assistance of your papertrail, descendants of maternal ancestors can be identified.
The mtDNA contains the 3 regions mentioned: HVR1, HVR2 and Coding.

Referenced Articles
The information provided above was extracted from the following articles: 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tech Toys for Genealogists

It's All Portable 

At the GenealogyKC 2014 conference, I shared a few of my favorite tech tools for the On-the-Go genealogists. Attendees quickly learned that I don't leave home without my FlipPal scanner, my LiveScribe Pen and my Smartphone. These tools make genealogical visits to the homestead, cemetery, or library successful. 

Record and Notes
Sure you could pull out your computer and start taking notes, OR get a pen that takes dictation and allows you to take notes and outline your ideas and answers while diagramming the cemetery.
LiveScribe SmartPen
Livescribe SmartPen
The Livescribe pen is my favorite. It reduces tension when I'm interviewing family members. They feel free to talk and expound on their past without the constant reminder of a recording device. The LiveScribe pen captures and syncs written notes,  interviews and diagrams. With a simple USB cord from the pen to your computer, you can upload all your notes to your PC and Mac. (Funny...when I explained the uploading process at GenealogyKC, it probably sounded like magic. But really, your pen is programmed and syncs seamlessly to your computer. And the upload to the computer is compatible with Evernote. 

Other toys to consider: 
Copy and Scanning
Portable scanners are best used when visiting repositories and family members. You never want to be caught without a copier. The plus is these scans are electronic, and in color.
Best for:  Photos, Newspapers obits/clips, Deeds, Vital Records, Crafts, etc.

My favorite is the Flip Pal Scanner, but whichever you use, be sure to call the repository in advance to verify they will allow your scanner.
Databases and Photographs
Of course you can carry a camera, a GPS, a computer, a video camera or tape recorder, a To-Do-List pad with pencil and notes of inspiration. Or you could use your SmartPhone (or Tablet).  There are times that you really need a great camera or recorder for long sessions, but, often SmartPhones and Tablets do the job and for the common household, the smartphone camera is better than your digital camera.

SmartPhones and Tablets - There's An App For That!
I could talk forever about useful Apps for Iphones and Android phones, but at minimum know your Smartphone is great for the following basic needs of any family historian researcher working in the "field." Just go to the Play Store or Iphone Apps to shop for genealogy apps. Most are free. Here are a few other apps that will help the On-The-Go Genealogists:
  • Camera
  • To Do List
  • Notes
  • GPS
  • Video/Voice Recorder
  • Mobile Apps
Travel Hints
For additional travel hints, visit Planning A Genealogy Research Trip

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Sunday, March 16, 2014

African American Mayflower Descendants?

Mayflower, Library of Congress Photograph Collection

It Could Happen
What happens when you combine a heritage of English Pilgrim and an African slave? Well common sense tells you that you get a few of those 30-35 million Mayflower descendants to be mixed with African American blood. So how many Mayflower descendants have actually been accepted as members to the Mayflower society? Now that is a million dollar question. We posed our question to the General Society Mayflower Descendants, Lea Sinclair Filson, Assistant Governor General. Although no exact number is provided, here is the answer given to a3Genealogy
You ask an interesting question which we have been asked many times. The short answer is yes, we have members from many different races.  Their ancestors had biracial marriages in later generations, but there were no biracial couples on the Mayflower itself.  Lea Sinclair Filson
Mayflower African American Research
It is no easy task for anyone to prove eligibility for The Society of Mayflower Descendants, but  theoretically, in spite of slavery, it is possible for African Americans to do so. Through the tightly woven tapestry of African and pilgrim bloodlines, some will find that a branch of the family tree is indeed eligible for the Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Mayflower Ethnic and Religious Diversity
In a Los Angeles Times article, Mayflower Society Guards Door: For Some It’s An Ego Trip; for Others, Pride in Heritage, Charles Hillinger, author, reports the status as of 28 Nov 1985. This 1985 article implies that there are African American members:
Descendants include Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Mormons and members of other faiths. They come from all walks of life, rich, middle class and poor, teachers, preachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, truck drivers, postmen, businessmen and women, secretaries, police officers, pilots, librarians… There are black members, an airline stewardess whose mother is Japanese, Indians who trace their ancestry to both the Pilgrims and the Indians who greeted the Pilgrims on arrival in this country. 
Nathaniel Hawthorne best speaks of early Puritan and African relationships  in 1862:
There is an historical circumstance, known to few, that connects the children of the Puritans with these Africans of Virginia, in a very singular way. They are our brethren, as being lineal descendants from the Mayflower, the fated womb of which, in her first voyage, sent forth a brood of Pilgrims upon Plymouth Rock, and, in a subsequent one, spawned slaves upon the Southern soil…” Nathaniel Hawthorne by Harold Bloom; page 55.
African Americans Before the Mayflower
Keep in mind that I am only speaking of the Mayflower that landed in 1620, MA. Let’s not confuse this part of history with the March 1619 enumeration of Jamestown  that predated the Mayflower. There, thirty-two (32) African indentured servants were enumerated in Jamestown.  But back to the Mayflower….

Were There Any African Americans on the Mayflower?
According to Caleb Johnson, “there were no blacks on the Mayflower."
The first black person known to have visited Plymouth was 30-year old John Pedro, presumably a servant or slave, who stopped at Plymouth in 1622 before heading on to Jamestown, Virginia. There are no records of any blacks living in Plymouth Colony until 1643, when an individual referred to simply as "the blackamore" is listed as one of the men between the ages of 16 and 60 who was capable of carrying arms in the defense of Plymouth (think of it as the first Selective Service list in America). The next mention of a black in Plymouth records seems to be a 1653 court record mentioning a "neager maide servant of John Barnes" who testified on her master's behalf in a lawsuit against John Smith. During the King Philip's War of 1676, a black named Jethro was captured by the Indians, but taken back by the colonists a few days later. In a subsequent court action, he was ordered to be a servant for two more years and then he was to be freed. Plymouth, for the most part, had servants [indentured servants] and not slaves, meaning that they usually got their freedom after turning 25 years of age. (Information from Caleb Johnson’s

Were Black People the Only Indentured Servants?
Be sure to understand that indentured servants and slaves are not synonymous. Slaves were bound indefinitely, indentured servants served for a pre-determined amount of time. In these earlier years, it was not uncommon to see whites and black indentured servants working alongside of one another.

In exchange for passage to America, the service of  poorer white people was sold
 to the “planter class” for a predetermined number of years. Upon arriving on the shores, the ship captain (or agent in charge) sold these passengers to the highest bidder based on household and planter’s needs. 

For More Information
Thanks to Heather Wilkinson Rojo, Secretary of New Hampshire Society of Mayflower Descendants, links have been added below. (See comments).
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

(Original 23 Nov 2011 article updated with Mayflower Society response)

Monday, March 10, 2014

DNA and Researching Children of War

Jewish Museum, Berlin
Unknown Father - WWI to Vietnam
Perhaps your ancestor was a “war child”; a descendant of a WWI or WWII soldier. Or maybe you are the war-child of a Korean War of Vietnam War soldier who disappeared once the war ended.  many are dedicating their family search on US military men who fathered children overseas.  Some are seeking living relatives; others would like to know a bit more about their American family having no interest in meeting them. 

The opportunity for a serviceman to become involved with a local woman was great. Sure, some married, but many more left behind their DNA either not knowingly or not acknowledging. It was war after-all. The local women were left in men-less towns. Take Germany for example, most of the men were at war. The American soldier, likewise, was without wife or girlfriend in a war tense foreign country.  

In  recent a3Genealogy cases a WWII paramour still living, recounted the story of her West Samoan lover. This led  to locating the Ohio veteran’s family. In another tear jerker, a French war child found out her birth father died less than 6 months of commissioning a researcher. But she did connect with her new family. (Enough romanticizing for now).

Looking for Your War-Child Father
Locating the father of a war-child may be difficult but not impossible. Two parallel researches must be completed. Family folklore may provide a soldier’s name, a military base, maybe even a job position that will lead the researcher to a regiment/company. But the unsuspecting family will need a lot more proof. Expect, at minimum, a DNA test. Matter fact, we usually have DNA test results in hand, as it is often the key tool to locating family. Coupled with proper genealogical research, a DNA test may help uncover siblings, cousins, and extended family.

Research the Child. Begin with the birth and place of the child. Are there any salvaged photos of the mother and soldier? This is a case where a picture speaks louder than words. A photo will bring a relationship to life.  Know that matching photos on both sides of the water help.

Were any gifts or mementos left behind? What happened to the mother after the father left? Was the father of the child given to any authority? This occurred often in Germany providing further proof closer to the event. Can others vouch for the family story? In one case a younger cousin was able to identify the WWII soldier in the photo since she too often went to the military base and knew him.

Research the Veteran. Define the veteran’s military timeline. Through these details, you may also ascertain the probability of him fathering a child. Was he in the right place at the right time? It may be important to follow his company movement. Through analysis of this detailed timeline it may be possible to determine if the father even had knowledge of the child. When did the father leave the post?

Cultural Ramifications
The exact number of war children left behind is unknown. It is important to understand that there was enough shame to pass around. The women often were tormented, disowned by family, and even officially stripped of their country’s citizenship when a relationship was known. To avoid such ridicule, the father of the child was kept a secret. Visit The Human Problem: The High Cost of War Paid by Women for more information.

Maria Hohn tells us in GIs and Fräuleins, that 66,000 German children were born to soldiers of Allied forces in the period 1945–55.  Over half, 36,334, had American fathers. The number of war children continued to rise 10 years after the war.

Asian war children born of American soldiers garnered a new word of classification. Amerasian are persons born in Asia, to a U.S. military father. Several Asian countries - Japan, Thailand and So Korea, as well as islands in the Pacific Ocean - have significant populations of Amerasians.

Of course Western Samoa and the Philippines have notable populations of Amerasians.  In the Philippines the Pearl S. Buck International foundation estimates 52,000 Amerasians.  In the small region of Upolu , Western Samoa, it is suggested that over 1200 children were fathered by American soldiers (Stanner 1953, pg. 327).

Kathleen Brandt
Genealogist and Licensed Private Investigator

(Revsed/Updated: first published 30 April 2012)

Friday, March 7, 2014

5 to Follow: Getting Giddy Over the X Chromosome

My X Chromosome Contributors
DNA, The X Chromosome, and Genealogists
If you have attended a recent DNA class - Spit or Swab: DNA for Genealogists, you probably know the a3Genealogy team has incorporated analyzing the X Chromosome to successfully connect cousins. Like many, our genealogists are giddy over the X Chromosome. If you didn't know any better, you would think this gender chromosome was new (but you know better!). The X and Y chromosome is as old as male and female!

But how genealogists analyze it to unscramble relations, is new.  I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here, but I am going to offer five great reading resources.

  1. Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD  author of The Genetic Genealogist has several MUST follow posts. For the visual learner, you will love his fan charts and easy to follow explanations. Using his charts, I did a mock up of my own above. 
  2. Roberta Estes' of DNAeXplained post X Marks the Spot patiently leads the reader to using the X chromosome as a genealogical tool. 
  3. Emily Aulicino of DNA - Genealem's Genetic Genealogy, has done the work for us if you prefer to use an ahnentafel numbers table to specify the X-Chromosome contributors. Our genealogy database generates both the ahnentafel numbers and the fan charts. 
  4. Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL(sm) offers the X-DNA inheritance chart in a Microsoft Word table. We like this one. As Debbie suggests, it's easy to enter the data.
  5. Judy G Russell, The Legal Genealogist extends a lemding hand to unscrambling the confusion that comes with analyzing the X chromosome for genealogists. Whence the X walks the reader through an easy to follow case filled with graphics. 
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers