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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- DNA Project Coordinators can be invaluable, or they can be a pain in the neck.
- 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.
- What I call the unconnected sites such as Newspapers.com, 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 GenealogyBank.com that gave me a perspective about my ancestor (who is still a brick wall) which I would not have had otherwise.
- 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.
- Grand Army of the Republic reports can be very helpful. I didn’t even know what those were a year ago.
- 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.
- My Charles Troutman is related to the Pennsylvania Troutmans (just not sure how yet). Autosomal DNA rocks again.
- How to pronounce my ancestor Strangeman Johnson’s given name.
- Why Strangeman Johnson was disowned from the Society of Friends (Quakers). (You should read this. It’s funny.)
- 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.
- My 3rd great grandmother, Emily Eliza (Tague) Van Duyn, was hit by a train and died. It’s so sad.
- 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.
- My son’s great grandfather was “adopted.” Y-DNA proves it.
- New cousins from this blog! (Word Press blogs show up very high in Google searches.)
- 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.
- Cousins will often test their DNA if you ask them.
- 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.
- I really am no longer angry at my dad. Although I knew that, these writings this year confirm it.
- Women who have 14 babies in 23 years die quite young.
- 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.
- Funeral homes and cemetery offices can be quite helpful.
- 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!