Twenty-Five Genealogical Things That I Know Today Which I Did Not Know on 01 January 2014

It has been the Tsunami of Knowledge, and I can’t swim. The only other time it was like this was in my undergraduate computer science studies. Sometimes I have found that I knew more than I thought, sometimes I would go by “memory” and get it completely wrong, and sometimes I saw that conclusions I had drawn were just dumb. I have been grateful for past organization, but frustrated when I couldn’t find folders or boxes. I have chosen to delve into the world of genetic genealogy, but now have an unorganized digital pile of paperwork and emails, and I have left things unfinished and people hanging. I now have an unused room in my house that is, to my excitement, going to be my first real Genealogy Room – as soon as I get all of the other stuff out of there.

The Tsunami of Knowledge is primarily the fault of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors Challenge, without which I would not have started this blog nor learned about some of my ancestors in much more detail; Roberta Estes, who I have shamelessly tried to imitate, and her blog DNA-Explained, without which I would still be thoroughly befuddled about the topic of DNA and genealogy; and, Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, and her blog and pseudonym The Legal Genealogist, without which I would probably have much more room in my head for the nonsensical instead of at least the realization that as a genealogist, I need to consider The Law.

I suppose I could and should claim responsibility for making the choice to “go there,” but the lure was too decadent, and I have no willpower. None. I’m a chronic lifelong learner (my mama taught me that, and you can read all about my mama starting here, as she is my 52 Ancestors topic this week), and I have to know. Whatever it is – whatever puzzles me – I have to know the answer! Which is what makes genealogy so appealing yet so frustrating. If I may paraphrase myself, “Genealogy is going to finish me, because I will never finish it.”

So, without further ado, here are the “Twenty-Five Genealogical Things That I Know Today Which I Did Not Know on 01 January 2014,”  in no particular order, and listed not because they are necessarily the best things I learned, but because they show me a glimpse of how far I’ve progressed.

  1. Autosomal DNA from each parent is not an even split. Roberta Estes’ article here explains this quite well. If I were able to learn only one thing about DNA for genealogy, it would have to be this.
  2. When I receive a DNA email, it is important to remember that the person sending it may be brand new or quite experienced, so I must always be careful how I respond. Case in point: I once received an email about a possible relationship with my relative. My mind went directly to my Family Finder match list, and I could not find the name. Then I read the email again. It was a Y-DNA match at 37 markers. So I went to the Y-DNA list, and there it was – a 37 marker match at a generational distance (GD) of 4. Figuring out how to answer this email was the tricky part.
  3. Nobody matches my brother’s Y-DNA. Well, to be more precise, nobody matches him in the Family Tree DNA database at higher than 25 markers at a genetic distance (GD) of 2.
  4. DNA Project Coordinators can be invaluable, or they can be a pain in the neck.
  5. My mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) at the FMS level has a small group of women who all lived along an Appalachian diagonal from Connecticut to Georgia.
  6. What I call the unconnected sites such as, Genealogy Bank, and Fold3, can be very helpful. It sounds like a no-brainer, but my brain was stubborn because I did not want to spend the money for something that might prove fruitless. On a whim, I did, though, and I found valuable information about a Charles Troutman in Cleveland, Ohio, on that gave me a perspective about my ancestor (who is still a brick wall) which I would not have had otherwise.
  7. I must always try to search for newspapers local to where my ancestors either lived or may have lived. I found evidence in newspapers on the Wyoming Newspaper Project site that enabled me to confirm that my ancestor John Marion Renfro was a polygamist.
  8. Grand Army of the Republic reports can be very helpful. I didn’t even know what those were a year ago.
  9. Autosomal DNA really is a gift for genealogists. It helped me to find my ancestor Willie Ann (Rowe) Blue’s parents. As it is said, when combined, DNA and paper evidence can be invaluable. This is a story of just that.
  10. My Charles Troutman is related to the Pennsylvania Troutmans (just not sure how yet). Autosomal DNA rocks again.
  11. How to pronounce my ancestor Strangeman Johnson’s given name.
  12. Why Strangeman Johnson was disowned from the Society of Friends (Quakers). (You should read this. It’s funny.)
  13. My ancestor Thomas Johnson, a Quaker, enlisted and then deserted for reasons I’d love to know. Why he deserted, and especially why he enlisted in the first place.
  14. My 3rd great grandmother, Emily Eliza (Tague) Van Duyn, was hit by a train and died. It’s so sad.
  15. I do have a relationship to the Radabaugh family. Autosomal DNA has found me some Radabaugh cousins that could break the frustrating brick wall of my Barbara (Radabaugh) Coon’s parentage.
  16. My son’s great grandfather was “adopted.” Y-DNA proves it.
  17. New cousins from this blog! (Word Press blogs show up very high in Google searches.)
  18. I should have pursued convincing my uncle to give his DNA. He said no in 2007, and I went no further. This year in March, he died at the age of 91. Not only do I miss him greatly, but I missed that opportunity.
  19. Cousins will often test their DNA if you ask them.
  20. My second great grandmother Martha J. Blue had children by two different men. A newly-found cousin on my dad’s side tested her DNA at my prodding, and then she convinced her cousin to test his Y-DNA, which in turn confirmed that our common ancestress did indeed have children by two different men, something that I could only surmise from the paper trail I had collected.
  21. I really am no longer angry at my dad. Although I knew that, these writings this year confirm it.
  22. Women who have 14 babies in 23 years die quite young.
  23. Courthouses burn, microfilms go missing, and even those huge record books disappear. Typically, the missing ones contain everything you want to know about your ancestor, and more. I encountered that this year.
  24. Funeral homes and cemetery offices can be quite helpful.
  25. If I wait long enough, somebody related to me will type just the right phrase in a search engine to lead them right to me through this blog (see #17).

What possibly could 2015 have in store? I’m ready to find out!

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2 Responses to Twenty-Five Genealogical Things That I Know Today Which I Did Not Know on 01 January 2014

  1. First, thank you for the lovely compliments. Second, I love this article. I too was a computer science major and believe me, I can relate:)


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