Thursday, April 21, 2016

Entertaining Podcasts for Genealogy fans

For those of you who eat up genealogy talk and the newest results of DNA and document research tangents, this podcast may suit you well. It features well- known experts (including those from "Who do You Think You Are" and NEHGS)  in a folksy discussion of matters genealogical. It is produced by Extreme Genes: Family History Radio, and while providing a lot of up to date information seems to take itself not all too seriously, allowing for fun in the mix and for a wide range of genealogy knowledge in the audience, from beginner to expert. Take a listen or visit the website.

Link: Podcast of Extreme Genes

Gedmatch, a website I have often recommended, gets a nice mention too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

DNA matching: Using the FTDNA Chromosome Browser

As I am often asked about how the FTDNA chromosome browser for DNA matching works, I decided to write about it and to use some images to illustrate the simple process and how nicely it works as a clue to ancestry. Chromosome browsers can also be found on other DNA websites. I am looking just at the FTDNA chromosome browser for this example.

The images are from FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder and all the matches are autosomal matches (not paternal or maternal lines, but mixed). When I get a match I'd like to look into further, I click on the twisted arrows to the far right beneath the name of the match:

Then I see a list of matches that are in common both to me and to the person I am first looking at. That doesn't mean that all of our DNA points in just one direction. We could match in different ways. So my goal is to see if the person and the matches will have common ancestry. I can see this on the chromosome browser. If the patches of color showing where the person has DNA in common with me do not line up with patches of color for the matches, I don't have much to work with. But if they do line up, it is great news. Here is one example.

I send the information for the first match to the chromosome browser by clicking "Compare in Chromosome Browser" in the drop down bar situated beneath the symbols.

That sends the colored DNA matching information to the Chromosome Browser.

There is one nice block of color. Let's see if the list of matches can line up next to it.

Well, indeed, one has lined up nicely. Although there are 22 chromosomes plus the x chromosome which can show up, I have arbitrarily cut the image off at 14 as my important matching is not found in the lower part of the list. Let's see how match three lines up:

Pretty well. I think I can look for a common ancestor here. And four and five:

Some show more color and in slightly different locations than others, but it is a useful match. I'll look for a common ancestor. The best place to start doing that is to look at the trees provided by some of the matches.

By clicking on the green pedigree image, I will be able to see information in a pedigree chart that was loaded up by the owner. Some trees provide more information than others. By using the clues found in the trees, I may find a name in common, or at least I might narrow the search down to a common geographical area of origin.

It is a very useful feature!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Set up a Walking History Tour in your Town

It is not too difficult to create a historical walking tour in your town, and generate some interest in the history of the area. Every place has some history--so see if you can find some good landmarks all easily reached in a walking tour that will take an hour or so. To learn more about the history of the area you live in, you can talk to the historians and archivists at the local and county historical societies. A great source of historical information about buildings, streets, and agricultural and park history can often be found in old photos. These can be found more and more often online, but if they are not there, they may be held at the historical societies or they may be published in books about your area.

Once you have determined your landmarks and their great stories to be shared on the tour, make a simple map of the tour, including all the destinations. On the day of the tour you may want to ask the walkers to find interesting, funny, or strange things that you may place near the landmarks, or that may already be there to be viewed. In that sense, it can become a treasure hunt.

If possible, ask for a volunteer or two to man the landmarks and to explain some of the history when walkers arrive. If the volunteer has personal ties to the landmark, or personal knowledge of its history, this can make the visit very meaningful to the walkers.

Of course you will want to follow up with photos and a written report, which can appear in a local newspaper or on a historical society website.

This should be a great event for everyone, generating interest in the past, present, and future of the town and its landmarks.

Don't forget to involve people in the know about the town and its history, and don't forget to get any permissions and permits you might need, and of course to publicize the event.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Charley Parkhurst: California stagedriving man or woman?

It is always interesting when the records are inaccurate. In the case of Charley Parkhurst, the US Census record of 1870 provides the identity of this California resident as male, which is what Charley apparently liked to convey. She was, however, female. Choosing to get by as a man, she was able to take on a typical male profession and to vote. Listed in this record as a farmer, she drove stagecoach in the Santa Cruz area for years. Her grave is in the pioneer cemetery in Watsonville.

Apparently she was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire or Sharon, Vermont, as Charlotte Durkee Parkhurst, possibly daughter of Ebenezer Parkhurst and, according to the FindAGrave write-up, Sarah Morehouse. Sarah died a few years after Charlotte's birth. Until a birth record shows up, however, this is just one possibility for her parentage.

There are a variety of legends about how Charlotte was abandoned to an orphanage. Charlotte moved around as a young woman, and then came West.

The census record (click to enlarge):

The discovery in 1880 that she was female:

 Census image from Newspaper article from California Digital Newspaper Collection.