Wednesday, July 19, 2017

DNA with Blaine Bettinger

Blaine Bettinger has released a new book on DNA testing for genealogy titled Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy  It is available to borrow from the Medina Libraries. Find it on the shelves at 929.1072 BET.

It is an excellent book for those of us who have had our DNA tested for genealogical purposes.

Amy Johnson Crow, Certified Genealogist,
presenter and author, her e-book
31 Days to Better Genealogy is available on

Amy Johnson Crow interviewed Blaine for her web site and posted it HERE.

Some of the highlights of Blaine's interview are:

  1. Take ethnicity estimates with a grain of salt. Look at the continents that your ancestor came from.
  2. Dig into the DNA matches concentrating on the closest matches first (the most shared CM, which stands for centimorgans).
  3. A centimorgan is a way of measuring shared DNA. Don't bother with matches that share less than 20 CM. It is too hard to prove a connection.
  4. There are three main testing companies:
    1.  Ancestry - has an extremely large database. Because of its advertising campaign, they have a lot of novice genealogists testing.
    2. Family Tree DNA - this is the test used by hard-core genealogists.
    3. 23andMe - has a very large database, but most were tested for medical purposes.
  5. DNA testing WILL NEVER REPLACE traditional genealogy research.
  6. Contact your matches. Some of them will be able to help you build your tree.
Check out Blaine's book and his blog,  The Genetic Genealogist.

Blaine Bettinger

I used this chart from page 8 of Blaine's book to determine that our family tradition probably was false. We were repeatedly told, by multiple sources, that my great great grandmother Emily ARTIS SWAIN (shown as EAS on the chart) was 3/4 Cherokee. I have had my DNA tested as have three of my siblings. The results are 99-100% European. From the chart below, we should have inherited some DNA from Emily (and we did!) but it doesn't show any Native American ancestry.

Genetic Genealogy Chart

This Genetic Genealogy chart shows (in the light green) shows the DNA you inherit from your ancestors. Notice that as you go back to the fourth generation and further back, some of your ancestors will not contribute any DNA to you.

I have added the initials showing my paternal grandfather's line. While my siblings and I have NOT inherited 100% of our DNA from Emily ARTIS SWAIN, we all have inherited some DNA from her - about 2%. If she were 3/4 Native American, it probably would have shown in at least one of us. 

This is not 100% proof positive that there is no Native American ancestry, because the DNA we inherited from her just might not include the Native American markers, but it does make it a lot less likely. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fruits of Genealogy

A recent article in Internet Genealogy magazine was titled "Forbidden Fruits" which will be discussed more later. But it made me realize that we often equate the results of our family history research in the terms of "fruit".

We call the items we discover the fruits of our labor. We search long and hard and when we finally find the desired bit of history, it is every bit as satisfying as biting into a fresh piece of juicy, ripe fruit.

Birth and marriage records that you probably have at home.
These are low-hanging fruits.
Then there are the low hanging fruits. That is the information that is easy to find such as information you already have at home or, census and vital records discovered on easy to access online databases such as or Ancestry Library Edition.

Lastly, are the Forbidden Fruits, the topic of the April/May 2017 issue of Internet GENEALOGY. Sue Lisk, the author of the article, uses the term Forbidden Fruit to discuss the information you find in  other people's published family trees. Some of the fruits of these trees can be diseased, withered or rotten on one side.

She cautions us to to resist adding other people's family trees to our own without evaluating them carefully. She lists six items to look for in assessing someone else's tree:
  1. Is it a healthy tree?
    1. What is the size of the tree? Is it too large? If it has tens of thousand names the researcher probably has not worked on each name individually and carefully. If it is too small, the researcher is probably just getting started and may not have any new information for you.
    2. Do they include the sources of their facts? Information without documentation is pure fiction.
    3. Is the data entered carefully and consistently? Are there lots of misspellings or dates that don't make sense? Like a woman giving birth at either a very young or a very old age.
  2. Study the structure of the tree. 
    1. Does it follow a direct descent from your common ancestor, or is it from a lineal line? Lineal lines might have access to documents that did not get passed on in your line.
    2. Again, do they list the sources of  the material? Verify the data in original sources.
    3. Information on still living individuals should be marked "Private".
  3. Lookout for "grafts". People sometimes insert portions of other people's trees into their own,  intending to come back later and research them more fully. You can recognize grafts by these traits:
    1. They do not list any sources.
    2. They reach beyond the scope of the rest of the tree. If one line is much more fully developed than the rest, it is a graft!
  4. Odd growths on the tree. Often, you will find the same information posted on many people's trees, including the mistakes! When you see this, it means that people have copied someone else's tree into their own.
  5. Examine the crown. Most commonly, the further back you research, the harder it becomes, and necessarily, you have fewer records. Some of the branches won't be as well filled out. If a family tree has LOTS of information going further back, AND the information leads to a famous ancestor or royalty, examine the tree carefully. Check out all connections for yourself.
  6. Watch for falling branches. Other people's trees may contain small mistakes. But because the rest of the tree is well researched and well sourced, you may incorporate the mistakes into your own tree. Check ALL of the information carefully.

Read the complete article and other interesting topics in the magazine. Available at the Medina Library. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hudson Library and Historical Society

Hudson Library and Historical Society
96 Library Street, Hudson, OH
The Hudson Library and Historical Society has a fine genealogy and local history collection that I have wanted to visit for a long time. As they had several non-circulating items on Kanawha County, West Virginia that were suitable for my MASON family research I finally went this past week.

Their "new" 54,000 square foot building opened in 2005. They are a combined library and historical society and so they have historical artifacts beautifully displayed throughout the building.

An antique rocking horse displayed on top of book shelves, high
out of reach of curious youngsters
A quilt depicting the history of Hudson, Ohio
Antique parasols 

Their local history and genealogy room is on the second floor in the back of the adult fiction and non fiction area. It has its own entrance:

Entrance to the Archives Room

There is a staff desk where you will sign in and read their guidelines for the room. You may be asked to leave large bags in the lockers.

The Archives is always staffed. 
Introduce yourself and explain the purpose of your visit. They will give you a quick overview of the archives. The staff are friendly and helpful.

Do your homework before going. Have a list of which items you want to use. INCLUDE THE CALL NUMBER!

The stacks where most of the histories are shelved.
The study tables are large, and well lit.

Study tables and additional collections.
Around the study tables are special collections:
  • John Brown Collection
  • County Histories
  • Military materials
  • New books - yes, I found some new titles for Medina's collection!!
The copier only costs 10 cents a page. BRING CHANGE.

The Archives also has a microfilm and digitization corner.

Typical microfilm area.
A station for converting VHS & DVD into digital files.

All in all, I looked at 17 different items for my personal research.

All of the West Virginia items resulted in NEGATIVE results -- meaning I did not find anything useful. Sigh...

But the library also had a number of Maryland and Delaware items that I checked for the surnames of my ancestors from those states.

Voila! I found an entry for William SWAIN in the book Marylanders to Ohio and Indiana by Henry C. Paden. It stated that William served in the War of 1812, which I did not know. It gave his land bounty warrant number and listed his surviving children at the time of his death in 1852 in Ohio.


So, check the online catalog and see if a trip to the Hudson Library and Historical Society is in your future!