Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday

The Gill Boys
Maggie Mae Edwards and Cecil Browne Gill buried three sons in 1929. The boys , Theron Manuel and Cecil Brown Gill, died less than a month of each other. In 1929 there were any number of causes for deaths and infants and small children were vulnerable to disease. Mortality tended to peak during years of strong economic expansion such as 1923, 1926, 1929, and 1936-1937. What was the cause of the deaths of the two boys in June and July? You can look at the headstone John David and read his death dates and deduce that he died at birth. 

The mystery of the deaths surrounding these two young boys may forever remain a mystery unless a living cousin with knowledge of the family and their circumstances stumbles across this blog and contacts me. 


Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday’s Tip

What Happened to the Gill Boys?

Family history researchers look for all available records when researching family. When researching, we do a thorough search for the records that are available for the time for which we are researching. We also take the time to write down where the information came from, making sure that information is accurate so if we need to refer to it we will know where the information came from.  We also make sure that our information for an ancestor or relative is reliable and that we interpret it correctly. Also making sure the evidence too is resolved and there is no contradiction in the information. But what happens when you have done these things and you miss important information while researching a family. That is what happened when I was researching Aunt Maggie Mae Edwards recently.

John Houston and Dollie Edwards were married on 05 March 1899 in Elmore County, Alabama. By 05 September 1900 Tillman Lee was born in Tallassee.  There was another addition to the family on 11 January 1902, a daughter and they named her Maggie Mae. Then the family left Alabama about 1903 for Louisiana. There in Louisiana in 1904 Retha Cleby another daughter was born in the town of Eros. At that time Eros was the largest town in  Jackson Parish. It was the center point for the small surrounding communities. In 1906 the family continued to add new members and Marvin Alfred Perry was born on the 03 September 1906 in the neighboring parish to the north, Ouachita Parish. Then, by 1912 the Edwards family was back living in Shelby County, Alabama, and by 1923 there were six more children born to Dollie. Dollie had her last child when she was forty-four years old.  She was getting beyond the age to have children. Her last child Truman was born 19 November 1923 and he had Downs Syndrome.

The six other children born after they arrived back in Shelby County were: Twin sons named Leman who died at birth and Leonard, Robert Lawrence, John Emery, Dolly Odessa, and Truman. They now have ten living children and are settled back in their home state of Alabama in the county they left in 1903. Alabama is where the Edwards family lived the remainder of their lives. 

On the 1910 census along with their parents are Maggie Mae, Leonard, Tillman, Reathey, Marvin, and Noah living in Ward 1, Jackson Parish. They are living nearby Dollie's parents William Alfred and Emma, and Alice the youngest sister of Dollie. Also, living nearby is James William and Robert E. Lee and their families. They are Dollie's two brothers. Noah is the mystery child in the family. The family was living on Pine Bluff and Columbia Road in Jackson Parish. There are six children including Maggie on the 1920 census for Harpersville, Shelby County.

Maggie is still living at home in 1920 and preparing to get married on the 28 of March to the love of her life Cecil Browne Gill.  Cecil was seven years older than Maggie. Maggie probably had a lot of responsibilities being the oldest daughter. If that was the case then she was prepared for what she had to face as a wife and mother.

By 1930 Maggie Mae Edwards is married and living with her husband of ten years. They were living on Avenue F, Block 107, House number 510, Dwelling 183, and Family number 183 in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama on April 1, 1930. Life is going well for Maggie Mae and her love Cecil. They had been married for ten years; and there were no children. She was married when she was eighteen years old to Cecil Brown Gill. She wasn’t working, and had not attended school. It stated on the 1930 census that Maggie could read and write; however, she was eight years old on the 1910 census; and Maggie had not attended school and couldn’t read and write. Apparently, she had taught herself how to read.  Maggie Mae and Cecil were married and hadn’t yet started their family.  Cecil was twenty-three years old when he and Maggie Mae married. He was working at a Railway Express Agency as a cashier.

By 1940 Maggie and Cecil were back in Shelby County, Alabama. They now had two children Maxine who was nine years old and James E. four years old. This census states that Maggie completed the eighth grade and Cecil four years of high school. Cecil is a Vehicleman with the R. R. Express. His income was $1,564 for fifty-two weeks’ work. Maggie did private work and worked forty-eight hours a week.

When I research relatives or ancestors I analyze census records and all other records carefully gleaning all the information from the record that I can possibly glean from it. It is vital to talk to family members to get family stories, Bible records, or any nugget of information you can about the family you are researching. Not all vital information will show up in census records or other records. That was the case with the three children of Maggie Mae. Sometimes you will just overlook vital information, not purposely but we get so involved in analyzing the record that we get tired.

Yesterday I was researching Maggie Mae Edwards, daughter of John Houston Edwards and his wife Dollie. Maggie was the oldest daughter and next to the oldest child of the couple. Maggie was born 11 January 1902 in Tallassee, Elmore County, Alabama. She was born before the Edwards migrated to Eros, Louisiana.

All of us as researchers have overlooked vital information, only to go back again and see information that we had overlooked previously.  Recently as I was looking through the information recorded in the family tree on the Family Tree Maker Program for Maggie Mae and her husband Cecil Brown Gill, I noticed something that I had not noticed before. Maybe I did notice it, but it didn’t catch my eye as it did this time.

Maggie had five children Maxine, James E., Theron Manuel, John David, and Cecil Brown, Jr. As I looked through each child’s information I noticed one child died at birth. Two of Maggie’s son died in the same year a month apart. They died in June and July 1929. Theron Manuel Gill died 25 Jun 1929 and Cecil Brown Gill Jr. his father’s namesake died 07 July 1919. What happened to those two boys? Did they get sick and die? 

Maggie’s family visited my family in Louisiana several times as I was growing up in Louisiana. Did they talk about these two boys deaths? These three boys did not show up on any census records. How was I to know that Maggie Mae had three sons? All that I saw were two children, a daughter Maxine Elizabeth and a son James E., on the 1940 census. Maxine was married 29 December 1948 in Jefferson County, Alabama. She was eighteen years old when she married Quincy A Bearden. Maggie would have been expecting her daughter when the 1930 census was taken. James E. was born in 1936. How did I find out about the three boys that were not listed on the census with their parents? On a Findagrave Memorial for Maggie Mae Gill.

A volunteer had taken the time to add the family information to the memorial for Maggie Mae Gill. I will forever be grateful for this genealogical act of kindness. I went to Maggie's memorial on Findagrave and all three of her young sons had gravestones on their plot. Without the information provided by the volunteers, I might not have ever known about these three precious boys who died at a young age.

Thank you volunteers for your genealogical acts of kindness. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sentimental Sunday Maggie Mae Edwards and Cecil Brown Gill

This morning I was working on my family tree on Ancestry to make sure the data that was added to each family member was accurate and sourced. The John Houston Edwards family caught my attention. John Houston is a paternal grandfather; and my father’s biological father. He married Dollie Ophelia Lee, sister of Alice Lee, Daddy’s mother. Somehow, I overlooked adding Uncle Johnny and Aunt Dollie’s ten children to my family tree on Ancestry. So, this task took priority over the task at hand, which had lead me to logging in to Ancestry; and that was to look through the Ancestry DNA Circles.Those fascinating cousin Circles! 

I looked through the records for John Houston and Dollie and everything was in order; All available records that Ancestry offered for them was already added. Then, the next task was to add the ten children of John and Dollie starting with the oldest child Tillman Lee Edwards, Sr. All available records that Ancestry offered for Tillman, his wife Stella, and their known children were added to their family tree. The next child was Maggie Mae Edwards the oldest daughter. As I was working on her information and looking through records for her something caught my attention. This information was new to me and wasn’t a story shared by family members as I was growing up. What a sad thing for a family to have to experience! The loss of their children. 

As most of you know if you have researched for long, it is easy to get off the task at hand and get off on a "rabbit trail.” That is what happened this morning while working on the family tree on Ancestry. The rabbit trail took me through the records of the children of Aunt Maggie Mae Edwards and Uncle Cecil Brown Gill.  I recall Maggie coming to Louisiana to visit my family when I was a little girl growing up in West Carroll Parish. Maggie was tall “stocky” built, with a sturdy form,and a cheerful lady. She had brown hair and a pretty smile. She always seemed happy, as did her husband Cecil. Her husband Cecil was a nice looking older man and well dressed. They also drove a very nice car for the late 1949 and early 1950. Remember, I was a young girl of about ten or eleven years old. Little did I know that Aunt Maggie and Uncle Cecil had gone through plenty of heartbreaks before I was born. Now, I grieve for them thinking about it.

Their other son John David Gill was born 05 September 1929 and died the same day. Then, they had a third son, Cecil Brown Gill, Jr., his father's namesake, born 24 June 1924 and died 07 July 1929 in Harpersville, Shelby County, Alabama. What happened to the seven and five year old boys?  There are no older family members living to ask. I would love to know  the circumstances of their deaths; however, the two boys deaths will remain a mystery

You can view a picture of Aunt Dollie Edwards and her daughters Maggie Mae, Odessa, and Reathey here.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sibling Saturday

Willie Grace Edwards was the daughter of Marvin  Alfred Perry Edwards. Marvin Alfred Perry Edwards was the son of John Houston and Dollie Ophelia (Lee) Edwards. Marvin was born 03 September 1906 in Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. He was one of ten children of John Houston and Dollie. Marvin died 16 June 1994 in Columbiana, Shelby, Alabama. His wife Lorene died Dec 1974. Willie would be a paternal half first cousin. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday's Faces from the Past

Willie Ellzey Jones born January 13, 1913- died February 28, 1990
His parents are William Morris Jones born 08 Feb 1856 and Maggie Lucinda Ramsey
born 27 Apr 1889 in Pike County, Mississippi.
Willie Ellzey Jones 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Circles and NADs

Genealogical research is a hobby that I enjoy immensely. There is so much to do and so many relatives to find. Some of those relatives are out in the open and easy to find. Others are hiding and a bit more difficult to find. But they are all important and are a part of family. There just isn’t enough time to find all of them. Then you throw in another tool, genetic genealogy or genealogical DNA testing, to use with traditional genealogical research with a goal of answering genealogical questions, and the work goes on and on and on.

Genetic genealogy is tool for family historians and is time consuming, continually changing, and is a great tool to use if you have difficult family lines you are researching; and you have hit the ultimate brick wall.  The work will never end! With just genetic genealogy one could stay busy for a very long time. However, I keep plugging along one relative at a time using the tools available such as Ancestry DNA Circles and NADs. Ancestry DNA offers subscribers DNA Circles and New Ancestry Discoveries or NADs. Each is laborious, and to add more work to that, the shared matches are added. Each member of the circle shares DNA with at least one other member in the circle, and each member in that circle have the same ancestor in their family tree. Ancestry does provide the centimorgans for DNA matches; however, it would be great if Ancestry provided members with a chromosome browser. I have several members from the Coon and related families who have DNA tested. I would love to look at our DNA segment on a chromosome browser to see if we match on the same chromosome and DNA segment; however, that option isn’t available on Ancestry.  

There is the possibility that you have members of a circle with whom you share DNA through another ancestor couple. Shared matches can be used for that, but again that is a laborious job. It takes a bit of reading to understand DNA Circles, NADs, and using the shared matches to triangulate. New Ancestry Discoveries are research tasks that is done one cousin at a time. Research continues until I find a common ancestor couple. Some NADs can be challenging, but is worth the time put into identifying a common ancestor couple.  

My sister tested with Ancestry DNA, and I manage her DNA account. She has fifteen NADs. Why she has more NADs than I have is a question I have yet to find an answer. She has thirty Ancestry Circles and I have twenty-eight. She has fifteen NADs and I have six. She has eight hundred and one fourth cousins or closer matches and I have one thousand and seventy-one. I have one hundred shard ancestor hints and she has one hundred forty-one. My sister has matches in her DNA results list that I don't have and she shares DNA with them; and vice versa – I have DNA matches she doesn't have in her test results.  

A NAD is created when Ancestry finds that you share significant amounts of DNA with several members of a DNA Circle; and this means that you may be related to the ancestor for which the DNA Circle is created. Remember, a DNA Circle is a member of a group who have well documented family relationships to a common ancestor in their Ancestry family trees; and the members in the group share DNA with at least one (that is the key-at least one) other member in the DNA Circle. I have found with my DNA Circles I usually share DNA with more than one member unless it is a very small circle. I have a DNA Circle that has four members and all four are DNA matches. There is another circle with four members and two out of four are DNA matches.

I can research the NAD and find a new relative and connect that person to a common ancestor couple. I have six New Ancestry Discoveries and looked through each and didn’t recognize any familiar names. The fifteen NADs on my sister’s account are more promising than my six. I found two new relatives, Stephen Alford Edwards and Mary Ann Emma Bates, from her NADs.

As I looked through my sister’s NADs to see if there were familiar names, I recognized Edwards and Bates surnames.  I looked through the members who were a DNA match to see if anything was promising. The first DNA match was a descendant of Stephen Alford Edwards.  Now I was getting excited because there were two clues here that helped me to know which family line this member belonged and our common ancestor. Those two clues were the given name Alford and surname Edwards. Alford, the name of a third great grandfather, Alfred Edwards, on my paternal line.

This NAD was a keeper and further research to verify him gave me a collateral relative to add to my family tree. For the era that I was researching there were census records for 1880 through 1940; a marriage record; and Findagrave death and burial information.

My plan of action in identifying these ancestors in the NADs was to first look at the names; then look at the members who are DNA matches going through each until a common ancestor was known, and the locations.

Another familiar name that I recognized as I looked through the NADs was Mary Ann Emma Bates (1836-1902). I had seen the surname Bates before when researching. Bates is not a direct line ancestor’s surname, but I had seen the surname come up while researching collaterals. I looked at the location and it was Big Fork, Polk County, Arkansas. My Edwards families lived in that area. Further research revealed that Mary Ann Emma Bates was the mother of Stephen Alford Edwards. So, she was the wife (a FAN) of a second great uncle (a collateral relative).

DNA Circles and New Ancestry Discoveries are hints that are relevant to your research since members are related to you in some way. Since I never know if circles and NADs will be there indefinitely, I do a screen shot of the circles and NADs and save for future research. They will disappear, but they may eventually reappear.  

You may be a direct descendant of a NAD, you may be related through a marriage, or through a collateral line. You may be related to the ancestor of the DNA circle through more than one line. They are relatives waiting to be discovered. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday’s Tip

More About Ancestry’s New Ancestry 

Ancestry Discoveries are potential new ancestors or relatives that are not in my Ancestry family tree. These are folks that I need to research to see how they connect to the people in my family tree. As of this morning I have six of those potential new relatives. My sister has tested with Ancestry DNA and she allows me to manage her DNA test results. She has fifteen New Ancestry Discoveries. I have gone through her NADs and recognized names in some of them. The ones that I recognized I researched them and found a common ancestor couple. When I look at the names in the six NADs on my account there are no familiar names, and as I look through the information for these NADs there is still nothing familiar.

How do these NADs show up on the DNA homepage? Almost without exception the NADs are somehow connected to my maternal Coon family line. These NADs are collaterals. The ones that don’t have familiar names, I just leave those for the time. I will snip a picture of them and save it for future reference.

New Ancestor Discoveries come from members of a DNA Circle with whom you share a lot of DNA. You share DNA with the descendants of a particular ancestor. New Ancestor Discoveries is a feature where Ancestry uses historical records, Ancestry family trees, and Ancestry DNA results to give you a potential new ancestor or relative. I will remind you, this is one important reason why family historians need to not only research the direct line ancestors, but the direct line ancestors’ siblings, children, grandchildren, etc. Research the family unit – parents and children, and parents’ siblings. Then the work begins. You must research the NAD to determine if there is a link to a common ancestor couple.

One of the six New Ancestry Discoveries on my account had twenty members and five DNA matches. I went through each member match, and didn’t recognize any names. This NAD has the DNA evidence that links them to me in the circle. The five members have shared DNA matches of 7.4 cM, 6.6 cM, 7.0 cM, 9.3 cM and 7.3 cM. This is not saying the members who did not share DNA aren’t related to me, they possibly are related; however, due to recombination of the DNA, they didn’t receive any DNA from that particular ancestor couple. These aren’t large enough segments of DNA for me to take the time to research these members. That will be another project for a rainy day when I don’t have anything else to do. As far now I will let those remain as NADs.

New Ancestry Discoveries are another hint that I use to find collaterals. If my DNA matches the DNA members of the New Ancestry Discovery then, there a seventy percent chance that I will either be a descendant of the NAD or relative. Also, two of the NADs on my sister's account that I have done the research on was related through marriage. That was an interesting one to research. Two separate NADs and they were the sons-in-law of two descendants of a maternal third great grandfather. I have also found that I am related to others in the DNA Circle through more than one ancestor couple.

New Ancestor Discoveries are there for you. You can use them or you can ignore them. It is left up to you what you would like to do with them.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday's Tip

More about Ancestry DNA Circles

I have been working on my Ancestry DNA for a few days and my DNA Circles went from twelve to twenty-four then twenty-eight within a week.While I was working on the Circles and going each to see who was in them, one disappeared. So the DNA Circles come and go. Then come and go. Just when I think I have this figured out, something is changed and leaves me scratching my head. I looked at my thirty Ancestry DNA Circles and there were names on there that I didn’t recognize. So, I was intrigued. Who are these folks?

After close examination, I discovered they are collaterals. Some of the Circles that showed up wer
e Isaac Lloyd Quin husband of first cousin three times removed, William J. McDavid, father-in-law of third great uncle, Martha Brister, mother-in-law of third great uncle, Benjamin Franklin Goodwin, husband of third great-aunt, Emiline Goodwin second cousin three times removed and Andrew Jackson Wideman third great uncle.

The theory that I had about the circles being made up of direct line ancestors was just disproved with these new circles.

While I went back through my family tree to see who the people in my DNA circles are, I noticed they are in-laws of a child of a common ancestor or a common ancestor’s child. Isaac Lloyd Quinn is the husband of Emiline Goodwin. Emiline Goodwin is the daughter of Elizabeth Ann Coon, a second great grand aunt. The common ancestor is Jacob Coon a maternal third great grandfather.

There are eight members in the Isaac Lloyd Quinn Circle and all eight are a DNA match; three accounts are managed by the same person. Two of the DNA matches are 12. 4 centimorgans across two DNA segments and 12. 1 across two DNA segments. On this DNA match we share 60 centimorgans of DNA across 5 DNA segments. That is a good DNA match. One of the DNA matches is 6. 3 across 1 DNA segment. Usually on Family Tree DNA I don’t bother with any matches below ten. Simply because I have too many close matches to work with and there isn’t enough time for others.

The William J. McDavid Circle has twenty-four members and fifteen  DNA matches. William J. McDavid is the husband of Martha Brister. They are the parents of Susan Penelope McDavid wife of James Jasper Coon a second great grand uncle. Benjamin Franklin Goodwin is the husband of Elizabeth “Betsy” Coon. Elizabeth is the daughter of Jacob Coon third great grandfather. I might add these are maternal relatives. Andrew Jackson Wideman is the son of a paternal third great grandfather Henry Wideman.

The chart on the right of the circle has other matches in it that aren't shown. I have corresponded with some of the cousins in the circle and we shared information. 

There are two kinds of matches in DNA Circles – DNA matches and tree matches. I been researching family for fifteen years, both direct lines and collaterals. I do share DNA with the Coon relatives and the Andrew Jackson Wideman a paternal second great uncle. Ancestry takes the DNA matching technology and find cousins among their Ancestry DNA members. This is another reason to have a well-researched documented family tree. The family tree needs to be connected to the Ancestry DNA test results with you as the home person. Ancestry looks for an ancestor shared across a group of DNA related people. Then if they find a group DNA related people they form a circle. You need a public family tree linked to your DNA results.

I have two DNA Circles that have four members in each and is emerging. One of the circles is Ann Wideman,a perternal second great grandmother. The other one is Edward Zachariah Thomas Coon DNA Circles, a maternal great grandfather. One of the members is myself and one other member is my sister. A DNA Circles requires three or more people. There needs to be at least three separate family units. My sister and I would be one family unit, therefore, we need two more separate family units to form a circle. Then, these three separate family units need to have the same common ancestor on their public trees to make a circle. The circle for EZT Coon great grandfather meets the requirement for a circle. This image shows the relationships for the person for whom the circle was formed. There is also a list of the matches in the circle. The people with DNA is shown and the members of the circle that doesn't match others in the circle with DNA is shown.

One of the matches and I in this Ann Wideman Circle share 27.2 centimorgans of shared DNA across 3 DNA segments. Her great grand aunt is the sister to my great grandmother. The other DNA match and I share 18.8 centimorgans shared across 1 DNA segment. My sister and I share a large segment of DNA 2,471 centimorgans across 54 DNA segments.

DNA Circles cover seven generations including yourself. DNA Circles will change, and come and go. They are fun to work with and discover collaterals that you didn’t know before exploring them in the circles. It is vital that you research them and document what you find. If they fit in your family tree, then place them in the family they belong. I have collaborated with new found cousins.  I now have family stories and photos that I wouldn’t have had I not done contacted them. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday's Tip

Ancestry DNA Circles

Today I went to Ancestry’s DNA Circles that were created for the Isham Meadows fifth great grandfather. There were twenty-four members and ten matches. I am confident that Isham Meadows (Sr.) is a fifth great grandfather and he is the son of Daniel Meadows. Why? Because I have done the research on the Meadows family line. The Meadows line has been researched extensively, sourced, and verified with a male Meadows second cousin, and other Meadows cousins. My sister has DNA tested with Ancestry DNA and Family Tree DNA and due to the random nature of genetic inheritance she has Meadows matches in her match list that don’t show up in mine.

I like Ancestry DNA Circles. They may be beneficial in using them; however, you still must have the genealogical paperwork to prove your ancestors. DNA and genealogical research go together.  DNA is another tool for genealogists to use with our genealogical research. You need to know who your ancestors are and their history; you need a well researched and documented family tree.

DNA Circles aren’t proof. You need documents for proof that the ancestor for which the circle is created is your ancestor. DNA doesn’t lie, therefore when you have an Ancestry member that is a match, you look at the centimorgans, then you know you are related, but how? I am more confident when a match and I share a large segment of DNA. Ancestry shows the segments in cM only, but doesn’t provide a chromosome browser as Family Tree and 23andMe provides.

The more people who match you in the DNA Circle, the chances are greater there is a connection to that ancestor. One of the large circles that I have is thirty-five members and fifteen DNA matches. This circle is for paternal ancestor Elizabeth Howard, a third great grandmother; and the confidence level counting myself, is eleven – strong; two – good; two – some; and one – weak; The weak member’s shared DNA is 9.5 across 2 segments. So, my confidence in this match is low. Then, I look at one of the matches in the circle that is strong. We share 10.9 cM of DNA that has a surname that is a maternal third great grandmother. Possibly this is my maternal ancestor which is third great grandmother Martha McCullough, rather than a paternal ancestor. The name and location match the maternal ancestor.

I have more confidence in a circle when there are several DNA matches with me and other members in the Circle than I do in a Circle with three or four members in a circle. Circles come and go, and there are several reasons for that. But as of today, I have twenty-five circles. The most members that I have in any one circle is forty members. Several of my paternal Edwards and related families tested with Ancestry DNA; my maternal Coon and related families also tested with Ancestry DNA; and several of the paternal line Meadows families have tested with Ancestry. Those DNA Circles have several members in them. I have confidence in the large circles because I have done the genealogical research and I have contacted members of those families. Some of those same people have tested with all three companies.

I have two circles with four members in them. There are three DNA matches and the circle membership confidence level is emerging. Emerging level means there is some DNA evidence of a relationship but the DNA Circle is too small, in this case four members, to determine how strong that evidence is. As the circle grows my connection level will most likely change.

How does Ancestry create the circles for our ancestors? A DNA Circle is a group of Ancestry members who all have the same ancestor in their family trees. Each member shares DNA with at least one member in the circle. Circles require at least two people to DNA match and a third person that matches at least one of the other two members. The circles are created from my DNA and my family tree. My DNA is shared with every member in the Ancestry DNA database. Based on the amount of DNA I share with another member, when Ancestry finds there is enough shared DNA between us, then they consider we share a common ancestor. Our relationship is based on the amount of DNA we share.

Once Ancestry DNA finds a DNA match they search my family tree and my DNA matches’ family trees looking for ancestors who are the same person. The criteria Ancestry looks for are facts like name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and spouse of the ancestor. Ancestry goes back about nine generations. Ancestry then calculates a shared ancestor hint confidence score. To calculate the score, they look at the DNA. Is this DNA that you share from a recent shared ancestor? They base the confidence in the DNA match and if both me and my match inherited DNA from a recent shared ancestor. And is the shared ancestor with the same birth date, birthplace, parents, and spouse in my tree. If this is the case, Ancestry is confident the ancestor is the same for both of us.

In this case Ancestry, has placed the two of us with a common ancestor; however, we possibly could share another ancestor on another line and we may be related but we don’t share DNA. This is the place where you collaborate and connect with DNA Circle cousins. You can better understand the relationship by sharing information. However, verify the information you acquire from your new-found cousin. The consistency and accuracy of the family trees on Ancestry have varying levels. They are built by the Ancestry DNA members. The more reliable the family tree the more reliable DNA Circles and connection levels will be.

We all want the correct ancestors in our family trees.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday's Sharing Tips

Sharing with Family 

Recently I had a descendant of Asa and Eliza Jane contact me. She had come across my blog and was happy to share Ramsey family information. That new found cousin sent me this picture of Maggie Lucinda Ramsey a great aunt of mine of whom I have never met.

Family history research is about sharing with others; and it isn't a hobby that we do in isolation. There is no fun family history if we don't share what we have with others. There may a family member who can't subscribe to Ancestry, or isn't able for whatever reason research online.  Family history is so much more fun when we share what we have with other family members. These are not just my ancestors and family, they are others families too. 

Everyone has something to share. It may be a family Bible, a family tree chart with ancestors information filled out on it, photos, a recipe from a family member, a journal, a document, a family story, or a treasure found in a grandparents attic. We all benefit in many ways by coming together with others and sharing our resources.

We all benefit when we reach out to others who are researching the family lines that we are researching. This blog is a tool that I set up to use to reach cousins and connect with them, and to share family information.

You can read about Maggie Lucinda Ramsey in the blog post here

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday's Focus

Ancestry DNA Matches

Ancestry DNA shows that I have 166 shared ancestor hints, 164 starred matches, and 1,062 fourth cousins or closer. How does a member decide what they are going to work on first when viewing the DNA matches? As with any project, you begin by looking at the list and then prioritize in order of importance. I start out by looking at the shared ancestor hints. I am not saying that I ignore the other fourth cousins or closer matches. Those are important too. There are close matches in that list also even though some do not have family trees. But, I begin by looking at the shared ancestor hints list. The starred matches are personal favorites. I did that myself by clicking on the star beside a match. That match is then added a match to favorites. Those are matches that I have worked with.

What are shared ancestor hints? Ancestry DNA searches for pieces of DNA that are identical between two individuals – myself and another member. The “Shared” part of shared ancestor hints tell you that you have a match that shares enough DNA with you to be a IBD (Identical by Descent) ancestor. The “Ancestor” part of ancestor hints tell you that you and this DNA match each have a MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) on your trees that is possibly your DNA MRCA.

We are interested in DNA that is identical between two people because we both inherited the same piece of DNA from a common ancestor – recent common ancestor. This DNA that is IBD (Identical by Descent.) Another reason two people’s DNA may be identical is that of IBS (Identical by State) because the DNA is identical for a reason other than having a recent shared common ancestor.

Since the Shared Ancestor Hints are first in my list I begin with those matches. The Ancestry DNA match and the family tree match suggests that we possibly have a DNA match or a cousin match. We share enough DNA that we are related and we have a common ancestor in our family trees. Ancestry DNA does tree matching, so basically that part of the work is done for me by showing me which people match my DNA. However, there is plenty of work left for me to do when looking at the hints. And I will add, those hints are just that, “shared ancestor hints.” I must work to prove which family line the match is on and our common ancestor. If you don’t have a family tree on Ancestry, then you are missing out on the benefits of testing with Ancestry DNA. You won’t have the shared ancestor hints since Ancestry has nothing to compare.

I begin by looking through the shared ancestor hints and to see if anything looks familiar, and if it does then I go through the family tree. The first shared member in my list is an immediate family member. I know my sister tested with Ancestry DNA so I move to the next member in the list. This one is a predicted third cousin and has a confidence level of extremely high so it is worth considering. When I am confident in the information for this particular family and common ancestor then I look at the next member in my shared ancestor hints list. This is the process I use; however, you may have a different process; and that is what works for you. An important thing to remember is that when you discover that a person shares a common ancestral line with you, that person might also share another family line as well. This is an ongoing work in progress.

Shared ancestor hints are there as a tool for members who have DNA tested with Ancestry. If you have done genealogical research for your family lines, and you are confident it is reliable, accurate, and there is no conflicting information in your family tree, then the shared ancestor hints are the “icing on the cake” for you, as are any of your close matches where you have found a MRCA.

Ancestry is a website that I use daily in researching family. It is worth the expense, and I work to learn to use the tools provided by Ancestry. I also use the free website FamilySearch.org, but not as often as Ancestry. Genealogical research and DNA testing is a continual learning process, and I am willing to spend the time to learn. To get the most from Ancestry DNA testing learning about the shared ancestor hints and the other tools available is important in researching family lines. I want to have the correct family in my tree, and that should be the goal of each family historian.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday’s Thoughts

Using the Shared Matches Tool on 
Ancestry DNA to Find Cousins

The shared matches tool gives you clues about the common ancestor that may have given you and your match your DNA you share. The shared matches tool will show you which matches you and the DNA match share in common. You can use this tool to narrow down your matches to a particular side of your family, either your maternal line or paternal line. This list shows fourth cousin matches or closer. Possibly you can determine which family line you share from looking at the DNA match. This information from your DNA match may also give more evidence that you are related to a specific person that will further your research.

Shared matches on the Ancestry DNA match list are there to show you other matches that you share with a specific match. I recently received a new match on Ancestry DNA. When I clicked on her name and looked at the confidence level that was extremely high, my interest was piqued. However, she only had fourteen people in her family tree. Now, that isn't much to go on! The other clue was encouraging though, because she had a familiar surname, Coon, in her list. I immediately recognized that surname. But her surname Etheridge is what caught my eye. This was getting interesting, because I haven’t heard from that family since I was a young girl growing up in West Carroll Parish. Another clue was that we shared a large chunk of DNA, 219 centimorgans across 13 DNA segments. Ancestry’s prediction was that we were second to third cousins. My match and I verified that she is a half first cousin once removed.

My new found half first cousin shared cM. 
I already know where we matched and contacted her to share information. She soon responded and gave me her family information. She is the granddaughter of my half aunt, mother’s half-sister. When I get matches like this one I really get excited because I am hoping that one day I will come across a cousin who will have information about Grandmother Coon and what happened to her. You can read the story here.

The shared matches might give me more evidence that we are related to others in that family line. There were eight names that showed up in the shared matches list for this person. Only three had trees, one with fifty people, the other one thirteen people, and the other one with six people.  The first shared match, was an immediate family member, my sister, who had tested with Ancestry. If you and a sibling share DNA with a cousin, that cousin will show up as a shared match for both my sibling (my sister) and me. 

The shared match with the fifty people in his tree had a high confidence level. He and I share 41 centimorgans across four segments of DNA. So, this is a good match to follow up on.   This shared match I recognized. He also tested with Family Tree DNA and I corresponded with the person managing his account and shared information.  The location for the people in his tree is nearby the location of my maternal line ancestors. That match is puzzling because he matched on my paternal line, so maybe we match on the maternal line also. Further research is needed on this shared match cousin. 

The shared match with thirteen people in it piqued my interest because there was a Jasper Arnold Burnett. Eliza Jane Burnett was a maternal great grandmother. That shared match and I share forty centimorgans of DNA across two DNA segments. We are possibly third or fourth cousins. So, that shared match with only thirteen people in it yielded a helpful clue that I will pursue.

The next thing that I did with the shared matches was to go to the match with people in it and look at that person’s shared match list. There was a shared match that a large family tree. That one I checked out.  There were two maternal line surnames, Hodges and Smith, listed. This is a shared match that I will follow up on.

One thing to remember is if you have a DNA match and your second cousin has the same DNA match, this person would be a shared match to you and your second cousin. This may help determine how you are related to this second cousin. Shared matches work best with your closer relationships.

I use shared matches in my research quite often. The shared matches help me figure out how I am related to a DNA match by narrowing down the family line to a certain line that both my DNA match and myself share. I have several Coon cousins who have tested with Ancestry DNA. This helps me in narrowing down my matches to that family line. My Edwards cousins matches help me narrow down matches to that family line. So, the trick is to figure out which family members can help you narrow down your matches to the family line in which you are interested.

The shared matches tool is a tool on Ancestry that I use often. It shows which matches you and any given match on your match list share in common. You can use this tool to help you narrow down your matches to a particular side of your family – either maternal or paternal side. Using a DNA match, corresponding with her to verify the particular family line I found a cousin on my maternal line. Using this DNA match and the shared match tool I have found surnames in the list are clues for further research. 

The more you work with the shared match tool the more you will become familiar with it. It will help you in narrowing down your family line most of the time.  

To find help with your DNA Ancestry has provided articles that may help you as you work with your DNA matches. When you log in to your account on Ancestry and you go to your DNA matches on the right side of the screen is a question mark in a white circle. Click on that icon and it will take you to articles that you may find helpful when working with DNA matches. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wordy Wednesday

Shared Ancestor Hints

I have DNA tested with all three testing companies, tested ten family members with Family Tree DNA, and a sister also tested with Ancestry DNA. DNA testing and genealogical research is a hobby that I enjoy tremendously. And the testing companies have a way of keeping me interested by sending out persuasive emails. Such was the case with an email that I received from Ancestry DNA recently. The email stated, “Look and see what we have uncovered. Go now. Ancestry DNA.” The other part of the email stated, “See what we’ve found in Ancestry DNA results for you. You and a DNA match have the same ancestor in your trees.” That really got my attention. Those shared ancestor hints on Ancestry are so inviting and difficult for me to ignore. So, I went to the Shared Ancestor Hint and was happy when I saw the possible common ancestors.

There are two hundred shared ancestor hints on my DNA matches. That isn’t a lot, but enough to distract me for a while. Shared ancestor hints are Ancestry hints provided in the shared matches list who presumably share DNA with me and we have a common ancestor. If I am lucky, I can look at the person’s tree and see our common ancestor’s name and information, and usually the ancestor’s descendants are listed.

The person of whom I share an ancestor is a fourth cousin once removed DNA match per Ancestry relationship prediction. The two of us share enough DNA that we are possibly related; and we have the same ancestor in our family trees. Shared ancestor Hints are derived from family tree comparisons.

The shared ancestor hint on Ancestry DNA showed there were three of the shared ancestor hints. Of the three shared ancestor hints, two were for different great grandparents and one for another set of fourth great grandparents. One shared ancestor was Penelope “Penny” Teal a paternal third great grandmother. Another was a shared ancestor hint for William Carmack and Pency Kent third great grandparents. The third was as a shared ancestor hint for Levi Kent and Kessiah Wadsworth, fourth great grandparents; and parents of Pency Kent. I have researched the Wideman/Teal, Carmack/Kent/, and Kent/Wadsworth paternal family lines therefore I am familiar with them and their children. Now I will need to contact this new-found cousin and if she is willing, share information with her.

One thing that I noticed when I looked at the person’s tree, is that the Kent family and the Wideman family are connected. Henry Wideman and Penny Teal Wideman had a son James Henry who married Annie Frances Thompson. Their daughter Olivia Virginia married Solomon Madison Land. Their daughter Myrtis Narcissus Land married William Thomas Kent. Is it possible that we share DNA from the Wideman/Teal ancestors and Kent ancestor? Well, anything is possible.

It showed 10.9 centimorgans that we share across 1 DNA segment. This is a low confidence level for me and the likelihood of a single recent common ancestor is 15-50%. I looked at the amount of shared DNA.

I have compared the information about the shared ancestor in our trees. Since I have researched the ancestors previously they are already in my family tree. The next plan is to go to 23andMe and Family Tree DNA and see if this person also tested with those two companies. Also, look for matches to the families of our common ancestor.   

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday’s Tips

New Ancestry Discoveries – New Coon Cousin

There are six New Ancestry Discoveries on my Ancestry DNA page. Some of the Ancestry Discoveries on Ancestry fascinate me. Some of the names I recognize and others names aren’t familiar. Names for the NADs such as Brister, Hodges, and Smith are familiar names. Those family names relate to my maternal Coon families. 

Nancy Smith married Jacob Coon a third great grandfather. I haven’t researched the Smith family simply because there are too many Smiths. I have too much other research to do to spend time on the Smith line. Nancy Caroline  Hodges married John Louis Coon, a second great grandfather. Several families connected with the Coon maternal line have tested with Ancestry DNA; so, I have found new cousins through Autosomal DNA testing with Ancestry.  What are New Ancestor Discoveries? These potential new ancestors or relatives who are not already in your family tree.

Ancestry compares our DNA to other Ancestry DNA members who have already constructed family trees. Ancestry DNA, historical records, and family trees are used to find potential new ancestors or relatives. You take the NAD, look at the information for him/her, and see if you recognize the NAD. If you share a significant amount of DNA with several members of a DNA circle, of which you most likely are related to the ancestor in the DNA circle, then Ancestry will show you a New Ancestor Discovery. There isn’t a guarantee that you are related; however, you share significant amounts of DNA with others who are possibly descendants of the ancestor. So, they may be your relative and connected in some way. This is a good way for you to research to see if that person fits in your family somewhere, and you may also connect to a new cousin.

You may be related to the descendant (for which the DNA circle was formed) through one of the collateral line relatives – aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. The NAD I recently researched was a new-found cousin through my Coon maternal line. Some of NADs I am successful in finding, proving they are related, then placing in my family tree program.

One NAD that piqued my interest recently, was the one for Isaac L. Quinn. Quinn is a name that I haven’t seen in researching my matrilineal line. So, I clicked on Isaac L. Quinn born 1846 and died 1895 to read the “Are you related to Isaac L. Quinn?” information. That information is put there by Ancestry. I used the information provided by Ancestry to research Isaac L. Quinn, to discover who he was, and why the name was showing up on my Ancestry DNA page.

Soon I discovered that Isaac L. Quinn is a son-in-law of third great aunt Elizabeth “Betsy” Ann Coon and Benjamin Franklin Goodwin. Isaac married Betsy’s daughter Emeline. That was an aha moment when I discovered this new first cousin three times removed. Emeline’s grandparents were Jacob Coon and Nancy (Smith) Coon, my maternal third great grandparents. Cousins who have descended from a common ancestor four to six generations possibly will share inherited DNA. Our common ancestor, proved to be Jacob Coon.

Emeline Coon Quinn now has her place in my family tree. This New Ancestry Discovery was made possible by others having done the genealogical research. The records were available on Ancestry that were used to prove research for Isaac L. Quinn and Emeline.

Working on the New Ancestry Discoveries gave me a break from the DNA Circles that I have worked on for a while. The NADs are another hint that is on Ancestry for genealogists. You must decide if you want to check them out or not. For me, I will go back to them occasionally and see if there possibly are any new relatives waiting to be found.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday's Feature

Tracking the Lee Family Using the GPS

First, let me explain what is meant by GPS. The GPS or Genealogical Proof Standard is a guide or a standard used by genealogists in their research. This is a tool that all genealogists, whether hobbyists or professionals, can use to ensure that our research is well researched, accurate, and reliable. These three elements are important to me as a genealogy hobbyists. The GPS is a process that will help us in our research. We can all say that we prefer the correct families’ in our family trees. When we use the GPS as a guide in researching our ancestors, we will have a plan and will confidence about what we are doing and where we are going. There are five elements that will guide us in our research; look for all available sources or records for the time period; check the facts and cite the sources; analyze carefully and accurately, and correctly interpret them; make sure there is no contradictory evidence, in other words, make sure the evidence agrees; and lastly the research findings are valid or reliable and written in a logical consistent way.

Genealogical research can become a complicated and complex hobby. However, it is a hobby that I enjoy and have been involved in for fifteen years. In the search for my ancestors' records it isn’t always easy to find them. Researching our ancestors is fun when accurate and complete records are found for our ancestors. If we find original records with our ancestors’ names, dates, and parents ‘names in them then all is well. Some researchers are fortunate to find those kinds of records; however, that isn’t always the case. In fact, that hasn’t happened while researching the Lee paternal line.

The paternal Lee family line has been researched extensively, and finding records has been challenging. Was Jordan Lee christened? No such record has been found for him. Direct evidence such as birth records or christening records list the names of parents. Those are the kinds of records that gives the birth date and parents’ names. Religion was an important part of the lives of our ancestors. Church records are a valuable substitute for a person when vital records are not available. None have been found for the Jordan Lee family. What church did the Lee family attend? I suspect they were Methodist; however there, is no evidence to back that up. The living Lee cousins that I have connected with since researching the Lee family, has said their affiliation is Methodist; and the a tradition through the generations.

The Baptists, Quakers, and Anabaptists were pioneering settlers in South Carolina. If Jordan Lee was one of those pioneers, there would be records with his name on them. Since there have been no military records found for Jordan Lee, maybe he was of the Quaker faith. Researching Quaker records was fruitless. The Methodists were established in South Carolina in the 1770s. The church record for the Lee family most likely is in the custody of the church where they were kept. The church, assuming the family attended church, may no longer exist. Until proven differently, I will go with the speculation that Jordan Lee’s family was of the Methodist faith.

Where is the marriage record for Jordan Lee and Lydia Hodge? They apparently were husband and wife because there are hundreds of family trees that show them to be husband and wife. We all know those trees are always accurate do we not? The information that I have used to put Jordan Lee and Lydia together are 1800 – 1840 census records, Benjamin Hodge’s pension record, Daughters of the American Revolution application, and a Petition Paper in the Probate files for Benjamin Hodge.

Jordan Lee seemingly died suddenly in Tallapoosa County, Alabama in 1847, the place where he migrated when leaving Richland County, South Carolina soon after 1830. Jordan would have been about sixty-nine years old at the time of his death. There is no record of his death. He just disappeared from the censuses. No smoking gun record that will say, Jordan Lee died April 1847 of a heart attack and was found by his wife Lydia Hodge Lee lying on his back in the yard in front of his house. A coroner’s inquest record would be a fantastic find. That is the type of record found on a Meadows ancestor in North Carolina in 1755. Why isn’t there a record of his death? Maybe it is in a repository in Tallapoosa County, Alabama.

Indirect evidence or circumstantial evidence is like a puzzle piece, you take each piece, you fit that piece into the place where it fits, and if it fits, then you are on the right track. In the end, if the pieces all fit together then you have the correct ancestor. I am confident in the direction that I am going with this Lee family, and research continues. 

We use the GPS in our vehicles we find that is an important tool in providing directions when on a trip. The Genealogical Proof Standard is an important tool in providing genealogists' directions in research. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Workflow Wednesday

Finding Cousins Using
Genetic Genealogy and Genealogical Research

Progress is being made in identifying my Lee ancestors, their descendants and extended family. My paternal grandmother was Alice Lee born in Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama on the 09 November 1887. Identifying the Lee family in which Alice Lee descended is important and I am working diligently to determine the correct line. So, these days’ genetic genealogy is on my mind. As I use this newest record to identify my ancestors and their families, educating myself in DNA testing is ongoing.
I have tested with all three DNA testing companies, and have tested my brother 67 Marker YDNA and autosomal – atDNA, two sisters, one paternal Lee cousin the YDNA 67 Marker and Autosomal – atDNA, one second cousin atDNA, two half cousins, a double first cousin, and a nephew. When I first became involved with DNA testing and learning how to interpret the results, I worked diligently learning all I could about genetic genealogy and using it with genealogical research.

Using YDNA test results, genealogical research, and family members with knowledge of the story, a family story was laid to rest. Matches from the autosomal DNA tests results and genealogical research for my paternal Meadows line has been successful in verifying that family line. Working with Edwards cousins, autosomal tests results, and genealogical research a common ancestor was identified, and the Edwards family has their rightful place in my family tree. These are just a few of the successes that I have experienced using DNA testing along with the fifteen years of genealogical research.

It was time to lay genetic genealogy aside for a while and gather information about others who were involved in the lives of my ancestors; that is, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, and so forth. I will do that by using cluster genealogy and get to know the family, extended family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances of my direct line ancestors. Until I have information on those “other” people in my ancestors’ lives, using my atDNA results will be painstakingly slow; and even frustrating at times.

All of us who have researched for very long soon learned that our ancestors had siblings. I haven’t come across one ancestor in my research who was an only child. They had brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, step-moms, step-dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and the list goes on. By researching the family I really get to know them.

Genetic genealogy was put aside for about a year, and researching my maternal line Kuhn (Coon) family was a priority. That was fun while it lasted. I periodically checked the Family Tree DNA website to look at the YDNA results. Recently when I checked the account of my paternal Lee cousin. Low and behold, after almost three years there is a name that showed up. I was elated to learn he had one person on the 37 Marker YDNA with a genetic distance of 2. That piqued my interest in DNA testing again. That was one of those “aha” moments. The happy dance was on!

This Lee cousin tested in 2013 and he died January 2016. He would be happy to know he has helped in finding a new Lee cousin and furthering the research on the paternal Lee family line.  Having a Lee paternal cousin YDNA tested was very important in verifying my Lee line and the all-important paper trail.

Working on this project continues. ■


The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger is a resource that is invaluable for genealogists and a book that is easy to read and understand. Other learning aids that I have used in research in addition to the one by Blaine T. Bettinger are: 
DNA & Genetic Genealogy:  An Introduction by Diahan Southard
Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne
NextGen Genealogy The DNA Connection by  David R. Dowell
Genetic Genealogy The Basics and Beyond by Emily D. Aulicino
Trace Your Roots with DNA by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Ann Turner
The Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffeth 
Family History in the Genes by Chris Pomery
The DNA Testing Advisor: Finding Family:  My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill
Forensic Genealogy by Colleen Fitzpatrick, Phd
Unlocking Your Genetic History by Thomas H. Shawker, M. D. 

Webinars for DNA that I have subscribed to are Legacy Family Tree Webinars:  http://familytreewebinars.com/
Family Tree DNA has webinars in the Learning Center about each test YDNA, Autosomal (atDNA), and Mitochondrial (mtDNA). https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/
Ancestry DNA also has webinars in the Learning Center.  https://support.ancestry.com/s/

Blogs that I follow for DNA:
The Genetic Genealogist by Blaine T. Bettinger http://thegeneticgenealogist.com/
DNAexplained - Genetic Genealogy by Roberta Estes https://dna-explained.com/
Kitty Cooper's Blog http://blog.kittycooper.com/
Your Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/
The Legal Genealogist by Judy Russell https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/
Segmentology by Jim Bartlett  https://segmentology.org/ He doesn't blog often but when he does his articles are very good.
Cruwys News by Debbie Kennett https://cruwys.blogspot.com/