Thursday, July 27, 2023

Were Ancestors Native American?

Can You Prove it Using DNA?
If you were told your great-grandpa or great-grandma were Native Americans raise your hand. 

Although all the data on applications were not correct, the applicants told their story. Again, often based on folklore, they may have failed to get their information collaborated within the required timeframe, but even then, we can extract as much form a rejected application as that of an accepted admittance.  Know that sometimes, the applicant and family were rejected on a technicality. Such was the case on the Tyesky project.  

Cherokee Connection?

Before you claim Native American ancestry, let's do some Fact Checking. Sometimes with DNA, we can prove or disprove our the family lore. Not sure what the Freedmen Applications are? Read here: Dawes Rolls and Enslaved Practices.

Years ago I penned this Preface for my own family book that uncovers the fact that 2nd Great Grandpa Tobe was not Native American after all:

For as long as I can remember, I would boast, to any victim who would listen,…[about] the Indian blood I possessed…  To me, these stories were a necessary reality of unproven truths that defined the “me” of me.  I willingly accepted the twisted family stories, spinned them and massaged them into epoch size fairy tales that defied logic. Perhaps under microscopic review, one could find 20% reality but the other 80% was clearly muddied by the storyteller’s liberty.                                                             
I continued to explain that in less than two months of research, I came to some “mouth-dropped-open realities.  Tobe wasn’t Tobe,[and] we had no Indian blood…”  This scene was repeated with Dina on the Hittin' the Bricks with Kathleen podcast (S2: Ep11). As Kathleen walked  through her DNA and her presumed Tyeskey Native American bloodline, you could feel it everytime she exclaimed "WHAT?" "WAIT A MINUTE."

DNA and Native American

If your 100 percent Native America was 6 generations back, your inheritance from that Mative American will be less than 2%.  This is not to say "4th Great-Grandpa" was not Native American, but that you are so removed that your inheritance can't be detected. In Dina's case though, even with abt 2% reported in her mother's DNA test results, we could prove it wasn't from the expected line (a Tyeskey Native) as she thought. She did, however,  carry detectable amounts of Native American inherited through the Harnage line. 

The family historically claimed both names. 

DNA Inheritance

Native American Bloodline




Tyeskey (first name unknown)


Mother of Jeff Tyeskey born 1816, was Cynthia Harnage


Jeff Tyeskey, 1816


Jeff Tyeskey and Alzie Harnage were the parents of Joshua


Joshua Tyeskey, 1843


Joshua was father of Jeff B Tyeskey 1843-1897. Wife of Joshua was Sealy Chariton (Harnage).


Jeff B. Tyeskey, 1874


Parents of Stanford were Jeff B husband of Mary Thompson (as per 1910; Rusk, Tx Marriage


Stanford B Tyeskey, 1895


Son of Jeff B Tyeskey. Stanford & Rose Moore are the parents of Mary B Tyeskey


Mary Bernice Tyeskey,1918


Married to Edward Austin


Dina's Mother, 1938


  2% reported


5 Pointers
So before any others suffer from the embarrassment of a genealogical morass, know that there are a few key points to remember when searching your Native American Connection: 
  1. Just because your ancestor lived in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) does not make them an “Indian”
  2. Facial features and hair texture are not valid arguments for Native American heritage.
  3. Not all Cherokee ancestors were properly listed on the various rolls. Others were rejected.
  4. As many Freedmen Indians already know: just because you aren’t officially a member of the Cherokee Nation, doesn’t speak of your bloodline. We’ve proven a few DNA connections to Native American bloodline, but more data is needed to claim tribal status.  
  5. And finally, don’t confuse family lore with fact.
For more information be sure to reference the Native American tab on the a3Genealogy blog.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible, answers

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

10 Resources for Tracing Immigrant Ancestors

This podcast covers the steps of Basic Immigrant Research using a Greek example. All immigrant research requires the same basic research. 

Basic Immigrant Ancestor Research
Although our families are unique, basic immigrant research is not. The same goal applies for Irish, German, Italian, Greek or any other immigrant research. Prior to researching overseas, we must discover the original name, preferably the name and date as printed on a birth documents. Parents’ names, family units, and originating parish, province, or city of your ancestors overseas are also essential Here are ten (10) record sets that may assist with uncovering the needed information.

10 Records Sets
Here are ten record sets that may assist with uncovering the needed information.
  1.  Declaration of Intent - 1st Papers 
  2. Naturalization Record or Alien Record. Ship, destination, original name using travel documents, next of kin and more may be found on Naturalization Records.  If not, the 1st papers - Declaration of Intention papers - is noted for further research. But let's not forget alien records, if applicable.  They may also include family information in-country and overseas.  
  3. Trace Ship. Be sure to pair and the OneStep Stephen Morse website,,  to cross reference ships.

    Keep in mind the first passenger at Ellis Island wa 1 Jan 1892.  It was used in lieu of Castle Garden port of NY which operated from 1855 – 1891. 
  4. Passenger List Review:  Greek passengers often cam by way of Italy or France. So it is best to follow the ship paths. The podcast example of Panayioti Kopelas on the Alesia, Fabre Line passenger ship arrived in NY port 31 Oct 1895, and proven by the naturalization record. The Fabre Line stopped in Marseille, France prior to arriving at the port of NY, Ellis Island.
    Be sure to reference The Ships List  if more assistance is needed to trace a ship.

  5. Determine Destination. Where Did They Go? Your ancestor, most likely, landed and traveled to family. There destination is noted on the Passenger list.  Our assumption is there’s always a reason for their final destination. In the podcast example Panayoti’s destination was Lowell MA.  It is in Lowell that we located family members
  6. Social security application SS5 form, for names of parents is a primary source. 
  7. Trace Family. Cluster research is most often successful. Be sure to trace not only your targeted ancestor, but those mentioned in documents: passports, passenger lists, military draft registrations.  These people may lead you to the answers for your targeted information.  In our Chopelas/Kopelas example, we were provided parents for an associated Chopelas. More research is needed, but it is a clue that must be explored and fleshed out.
  8. Alias? Many recent immigrants used alias names in order to assimilate in the new country. 

  9. Ethnic Association Records. Ethnic associations may have family biographical sketches. These records may be available through the local genealogy society or in a present day association archived collection.
  10. Newspapers for Family News. Be sure to scour the local newspapers for names and locations. This will guide you to possible repositories.

Be sure to follow Hittin’ the Bricks with Kathleen and share our free educational podcast. Interested in participating in an future episode? Submit this Hittin' the Bricks with Kathleen Form.

Kathleen Brandt
Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Unraveling Roots: Where Are The Hidden Clues

Leave Census Records For Last
How can you distinguish the five men with the same name all born in New York, all born between 1892-1897? 

At this point the descendants online trees meshed the records. Our Samuel was seen as Samuel N Kaufman in his proven obituary. Yet, he was often placed on the tree of Samuel P Kaufman's records; but there was also Samuel H., Samuel P and the lone Samuel bar a middle initial. What a mess! 
Daily News, New York, New York · Thursday, December 22, 1955

So Why Are You Looking At Census Records?
At this point, census records will only cause the wrong Samuel Kaufman to be placed in your tree. When you turn to census records you will want to be able to prove or disprove a Samuel. More data is needed: 

Date of Birth: abt 1895 
Date of Death: 21 Dec 1955 
Place of Birth: Unknown 
Wife: Anna Address:  
Parents: Unknown  
Siblings of YOUR Samuel: Unknown 
Middle Initial: N (not always correct, but a great starting point) 

Who's Our Samuel, born between 1892-1895

Where to Begin, Is at the End 
Let's follow the clues. I know it can be disconcerting to start with death related records but what a great way to find a consistent birth date and birth place. We know our ancestors' birth dates weren't always consistent, but they often stabilize at the end of their life. So let's start with the end of life records. 

Daily News, New York, New York · Thursday, December 22, 1955
  1. Obituaries don't always give actual birth dates, but they do give death dates. With that information, you can turn to Social Security Death Index and applications. They may also provide parents name - not in the case of our Samuel. But, we know it's the right Samuel, thanks to wife and/or children being named. In Roni's case, she knew her father and her uncle. Both were named.
  2. Social Security Applications can be used to match and corroborate the death of your ancestor as noted in an obituary. 
    U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,

  3. Cemetery records may offer a family plot, or more genealogical information. 
  4. Military Registration and Military Service Records if applicable. Following the birth date, a military draft registration for Samuel Kaufman was located: 
Biggest Hint: There was a note that he had to support his mother. This suggest the father as either deceased or not in the home in 1917.  If not remarried, we should be able to find a 1920 census with Mrs. Kaufman, without a husband in the home.  If remarried we need more information, like her name. We also have his address.
5.  Marriage Records. We  know our Samuel had a wife Anna from his obituary.  The ancestry indices though were of little help. But based on military draft, we know his marriage to Anna was after 1917. 

Voila! Pull the originals to gather more information. 
State Vital Records: NYC Dept of Vital Records:

Census Record Time
1920 Census Record on Prospect

Now is the time to turn to census records.  We were looking for Wm. and Jennie with Samuel in the home. Census records found Samuel in the home with both parents and siblings until 1910.  Father William died/disappeared before 1917 draft.  

Need More Proof:? Sweat the Small Stuff and Follow Addresses
Note the 982 Prospect in the 1922 Marriage Record and the 1920 Census Record. Mother Jennie died in 1923. It just so happens mother who died 1 year after his marriage also had the 982 Prospect address. Her death certificate gave her parent's names. 
 Our Samuel Uncovered
Although mixed in the tree with Samuel Paul Kaufman born 3 days before, we were able to uncover Samuel Nathan Kaufman with a wife Anna in a WWII draft card.

Listen Here
Following is the actual podcast on this case study.Be sure to follow the a3Genealogy blog for a full blog post on this topic and follow us on Hittin' the Bricks with Kathleen.

Kathleen Brandt 
Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers