Sunday 10 February 2019

A Genealogy Adventure in SLC

I started this blog to share little snippets I learn that may help others, to share my genealogy journey and to let my family learn more about their family.  Little did I expect that my last blog (and only my second blog) would get an amazing response and hopefully has helped lots of people.  I have been pondering how to follow it and have decided that I will continue with my original aim. So I am going to talk about my recent genealogy journey.

In January, I travelled over to a home of genealogy (and a location where a lot of my genie friends gather) — Salt Lake City.  I headed there to take part in the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) but also to spend time with the wonderful people that also share my passion for genealogy. 

The first week in Salt Lake City (while the main week of SLIG took place) I enjoyed time in the FamilyHistory Library.  My first day included interesting research — finding my 4x great grandfather’s memorial inscription [i] was a highlight that also gave me an insight into how he was respected, thanks to the accompanying inscription:

In affectional memory of GEORGE JONES late of Bellan who departed this life October 5 1879 aged 73 years also SUSANNAH beloved wife of the above who died June 20 1891 aged 86 years.

They are not dead whose memory lives in minds who know their worth.

I also found a will for the brother (John Renshaw [ii]) of my ancestor (Thomas Renshaw — 6x great grandfather).  It was special as not only did it reveal many family relationships (he was a bachelor so named all his nieces and nephews), but also gave a clue of the family origins with land in Eckington, Derbyshire (more research is ongoing).  The best bit was that he lived in Bleasby, Nottinghamshire which is the village my parents now live in, my sister was married in the church and my Dad regularly mows the churchyard grass!

Although I spent time on these days researching, I also pursued one of my goals of the trip which was to improve my approach to writing up my family history — getting better at sourcing my information (using Referencing for Genealogists: Sources and Citation, by Ian G. McDonald) and getting advice from my genie friends — notably Cyndi Ingle (yes she of Cyndi’s List) who gave me much constructive criticism that I truly valued and Liz KelleyKerstens, who is my new proof reader.  Spending time in the library, I made new friends, helped people with their UK research and discussed ways of advancing the world of genealogy.  More importantly we had a good giggle and got to know each other even better than before.

I was lucky to attend an open night at the Ancestry ProGenealogists’ offices and meet more people — as well as meet some Facebook friends in person and catch up with the wonderful Angie Bush who I had driven around Norfolk and Suffolk ancestor hunting after Who Do You Think You Are Live back in 2017.  I also got my DNA geek on (including meeting the DNAGeek (Leah LaPerle Larkin)) attending the Genetic Genealogy Tips andTechniques Facebook group lunch (big shouts out to Blaine Bettinger, Paula Williams, Angie Bush, and Leah for administrating such a wonderful group on Facebook).  This is one of my main sources for learning about the latest developments in DNA for genealogy along with DNA Central.  The lunch was so successful we repeated it a week later. Photo thanks to Mckell Keeney who was in our course too — and I still owe some Gloucestershire research advice to her.

On the Saturday night in the middle weekend, I organised a dinner for my friends, new (Amy, Debbie and Teresa) and not quite so new (Cyndi, Cari, Angie, Helen, Jane, Andy, Paula, Liz, Brynne, and Kim), who were in Salt Lake City that weekend.  It was a wonderful evening and was topped off by heading into the rehearsal rooms at Ballet West to listen to the very talented Brynne Lizzy Gallup (Angie’s daughter) perform Wieniawski Violin Concerto No.2 Movement 1 and Bach Sonata No.2 in A minor Movement 4.  To have a professional quality rendition of beautiful music was an added bonus.

On the Sunday, I escaped Salt Lake City for a few hours to head into the mountains and visit Park City.  This was the location of the Winter Olympics in 2002 and we visited the museum seeing the ski jumps and bobsleigh runs as well as watching some future Olympians doing their own jumps on the slopes.   We then headed into Park City itself, seeing the set-up of the Sundance Film Festival and finding a bar to watch one of the semi-finals before the Superbowl with another new friend, Debbie.  A wonderful break, however I was ready to get back down into the room my friends had hired to all work together on whatever work projects or research was being done while the library was closed.  Of course there was more giggling involved!

Monday morning saw a snow storm but that didn’t stop me making my way to the Hilton ready for day one of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Academy week (tailored towards professionals) where I was taking ‘DNA and the 21st Century Professional’.  It was a wonderful week’s course, with lots of practical learning, interesting insights and a very interactive group of people.  We all learnt from each other but special thanks goes to Angie Bush (our course leader), Blaine Bettinger (who gave my favourite lecture, ‘Genealogy as a Science’) and to my course buddy Helen Smith from Australia.  We don’t really have the concept of institutes for genealogy here in the UK.  They are a chance for like-minded individuals to come together and collectively improve our knowledge and practice.  It is something that would be a great addition in the UK — the closest thing we have is the Getaway Weeks held by the Society of Genealogists (next one is in May on DNA — and I’ll be on the other side of the classroom teaching on that one!).  Overall I left with significantly more knowledge than I arrived with as well as having thoroughly enjoyed the learning process.

Somewhere in that week, I managed to write my last blog.  I also received two new sets of DNA results — an update on my uncle’s Y-DNA test (sadly the Y-111 results neither improved nor diminished the evidence I previously had but did improve my knowledge and understanding), as well as the autosomal results for my uncle on the other side of the family.  It’s always when you don’t have time that the interesting results arrive — luckily he is my Dad’s full brother (no misbehaving by Grannie) but his results also gave insights into parts of the family that he inherited more DNA from compared to my Dad.  His ethnicity points towards some German ancestry that has not been seen before so some more investigations for me to ponder.

We were lucky on our course to not have homework so I got time to spend time with more genealogy friends in the evenings and a little more time doing research in the library.  The week was finished off with a kind invitation from Rick and Pam Sayre to have brunch at their house.  Alongside delicious food (helped by Janice Nash’s meatball recipe), it was a chance to learn more about US history via Rick’s impressive historical collection and spend time with respected genealogists (I particularly enjoyed my discussion with Thomas Jones who helped me get perspective on how to be a professional genealogist without necessarily doing paid genealogy work).

My final evening was with my amazing friends Cyndi, Paula and Liz (who luckily I get to keep in touch with via Facebook and hangouts while being on the other side of the Atlantic).  I feel truly blessed to have them as friends, to giggle with, support each other, learn from — and most of all they introduced Fireball to me!

I return to the UK with many projects I now want to attack (should I try to become certified, what new DNA tools should I use, what webinars should I watch and journals should I read, how can I share my experiences with others).  I have an amazing year of genealogy ahead — FamilyTree Live (where I am lecturing and running workshops), the DNA Getaway week atSoG (where again I’m lecturing), the Genealogy Show (where I get to be a punter and spend time with genealogy friends from around the globe), the Unlock thePast cruise around the Mediterranean (where I am lecturing and running workshops (there is a theme building for this year) and finally RootsTechLondon and the events being run by the SoG at the same time (I will miss a lot of RootsTech as a very important wedding for me is taking place the same weekend but hope to be around for some of it).  I am very lucky to have such a wonderful involvement in the genealogy community but hopefully I also add lots back into it too.

[i] George and Susannah JONES memorial inscription transcript. Entry E28.  Gwernafield Memorial Inscriptions – Holy Trinity Churchyard.  Published by Clwyd Family History Society, 2004.  Viewed at Family History Library, Salt Lake City, call number 942.935/G2 V3ch.
[ii] Will. John RENSHAW. 1797.  Court of the Peculiar of Southwell.  Nottingham Archive Reference PR/SW/173/36 - Page 155.  Viewed at Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Film 189846.

Tuesday 22 January 2019

AncestryDNA Useful Trick

I am currently enjoying a two week trip in Salt Lake City.  Week one was researching in the Family History Library and week two is studying at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) on DNA and the 21st Century Professional.  However the best thing about this trip is meeting, learning from, helping and having a great laugh with some of the best genealogists in the world.

One thing I have been helping with is a trick I use on AncestryDNA.  It is not needed so much in the USA as they have many more matches than we have in the UK.  As lots of people don't know how to use it, I want to share it with the wider world.

AncestryDNA provides a Shared Match list for each of your DNA matches.  These are given if you share more than 20cM with the shared match and your DNA match also shares more than 20cM with your match.  This means that even a useful match (at say 18cM) would not appear in your shared match list.  When you have thousands of matches greater than 20cM (this is the cut off for 4th cousins or closer), you will always have several, if not many, shared matches to help identify which family line the match is on.  In the UK where we have a lot fewer matches, we often have no shared matches at all with a match, or the level of shared DNA is much lower such that it is below the 20cM limit.

If you either manage or can view more than one DNA kit on Ancestry, there is a trick to spot shared matches with those kits below 20cM.  If you find a DNA match that does include another kit in your family on the Shared Match list, click on the user name of the match (or the manager of the match).

On the user ID page, there is an option to choose any of the DNA kits you manage.  This allows you to see if they match that kit at any level (e.g. above 6cM).

In this case, the managed kit matches at 19.9cM across 2 segments so only just outside the cutoff of 20cM.  This helps to indicate that the match is on this line of the family.

Several of my USA friends have been pleased to have this trick explained - hope it helps you too!

Wednesday 26 December 2018

New Beginnings

This is my new family history blog.  A chance to share research that I am doing, interesting family history events and anything else to do with genealogy that I think at least one person may be interested in.
Today is Christmas Day and a celebration of family.  My favourite present to my parents was a copy of their family trees.  I have a habit of describing exciting discoveries about ancestors and they always want to know where they fit in - now they have no excuse of being confused.  The tree templates were a great find by my friend Emma from an American company FreshRetroGallery on Etsy.  We bought in bulk and had free shipping which was rather useful.

Very pleased with how they turned out and my parents seemed pleased with the end result.  I've now set them the dilemma about where to put them in their house.
The benefit as always of writing down the tree was spotting the missing records.  For two of my father's ancestors George Jones and Anne Jones (nee Davies), I was missing death certificates.  I worked out why - there are a lot of Anne and George Jones' dying in their year/quarter in North Wales (I luckily have their burials as they mention the house they lived in).  However thanks to the death indexes on the GRO website ( which now gives their age at death, I have been able to identify the correct certificate and they are now on order.  Real wishful thinking is that Anne's death will be informed by a member of her family (sister/brother/parent) to give me a vague chance of finding her family.
My personal genealogy Christmas present happened on Christmas Eve when I worked out the name of the manor house in Kent that one of my paternal ancestors (and what now appears many more) lived in back in the early 1600s.  More on that property and family in a future blog.
For now, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.