Episode 16 – Hudson Gunn of BillionGraves.com, And Listener Uses DNA To Locate Birth Family

podcast episode Nov 06, 2013

On this weeks show, Fisher fills us in on the latest family history news.  He starts with details on the reopening of Ellis Island following all the damage caused their during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Harry Potter author JK Rowling has gotten into family history research, had a breakthrough, and it was quite a disappointment! Hudson Gunn from BillionGraves.com visits with Fisher talking about the FindAGrave competitor and how the sites differ. Perline Porter talks about finding her birth family using DNA. And Tom Perry is back to talk preservation.

Transcript of Episode 16

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 16

Fisher: Hello genies, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers preserving your memories for over forty years. And this segment is brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services your family history resource. Call 877 537 2000. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher and we have a lot of good stuff to talk about today. First, our poll from last week on Ancestry.com and their latest DNA upgrade, two thirds who answered the question noted major changes to their ethnicity profiles since Ancestry’s upgrade. And if you missed Dr Scott Woodward our DNA Authority last week the podcast is of course available right now at ExtremeGenes.com. He’s always enlightening as well as entertaining and if you haven’t done an Autosomal DNA test yet you are missing out on an exciting and fascinating aspect of Family Histoire research. There are several excellent companies who provide the service for finding other relationships as well as background, so do your homework for the best experience. It would certainly be an excellent holiday gift as well. Well this week we have a couple of great guests. First, Hudson Gunn, President of a little company that is doing big things, they’re called BillionGraves.com. And it’s always exciting to hear new takes and directions in various areas of research. And I know you’re going to like what Hudson has to say about this interesting new company. In our third segment tonight Perline Porter, she’s a resident of Utah, she shares with us the happy ending to her thirty year search for the family of her birth father. And you know we love to give priority to success stories and how they change lives and if you are one of those looking for someone you know must be out there, and you become a little discouraged, well Perline will give you a little hope. Talk about never quitting! [Laughs]

And if you ever have a story you’d like to share or a question or comment our Extreme Genes “Find Line” is always open. It’s toll free of course 1-234-56 Genes. That’s 1-234-56 Genes. And in the short time we’ve been on the air we’ve already had several great calls about your discoveries that we always enjoy hearing and sharing, so use it 1-234-56 Genes. All right news time and of course you’ll find links to all these stories on our website ExtremeGenes.com. Top story this week is that Ellis Island is finally reopening. [Bell sounds] You know it’s been a year since Hurricane Sandy did what it did in the New York Metropolitan area. The storm really wreaked havoc on Ellis Island’s Immigration Museum. It messed up its air conditioning system, the electrical which meant most of their artefacts then because of the interior conditions had to be moved to Maryland. Well, much of the damage remains but the National Park Service opened the Island for the first time in a year on Monday which also happens to be the 127th Anniversary, the dedication of the nearby Statue of Liberty. Now, you probably know that the island that is home to the Statue of Liberty is really close to Ellis Island but it’s illegal to swim from one to the other. [Laughs] I ran across that little bitty somewhere though I’m not much inclined to get wet myself. Anyway, if you’re in the New York area soon you can again check out the great hall at Ellis Island where perhaps your immigrant ancestors were inspected by doctors for contagious diseases before entering the country. My grandmother certainly was. Most of the artefacts have not been returned by the way from Maryland yet. The restaurant is closed but the gift shop is open. The closing of course has affected a lot of small businesses associated with Ellis Island so there are a lot of happy people in the New York area right now celebrating the reopening of Ellis Island, right? Yeah, the New York Times article on this is linked to our website ExtremeGenes.com.

Next on the list, you know we all love to talk about the breakthrough discoveries of family history research. But sometimes these [Laughs] work in the opposite direction. For instance, take the case of Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling. Back in ’09 J.K was awarded the Légion d'honneur for her services in literature. Well at the ceremony she talked about how excited she was to be the second member of her family to receive the honor. Yes, she said her WWI ancestor had similarly been recognized. But wait, not so fast! Well, it turns out that her ancestor Louis Volant was not that Louis Volant. It seems that Rowling’s great grandfather not only had the same name as the hero but also fought in France in the Great War! Rowling told the BBC that she’d been anxious to learn more about her family and learn the truth no matter what. But losing the hero Louis Volant proved to be very upsetting to her. She said that the research had made her emotional several times. It actually brought her to tears not just for this particular loss but also for some of the happier finds. She said her interest really came about after losing her mother and the link to the story is of course on ExtremeGenes.com. Just a reminder by the way, if you’re looking for these stories after hearing about them on our podcast, because maybe a lot of time has passed since we originally recorded, you may not see them right away. What you want to do then is just plug in the keywords such as in the case of the previous story J.K. Rowling and they will take you to what you’re looking for. 

Our next story is tome really exciting. I think for anyone who’s ever struggled to find anything on an ancestor you can appreciate this. If you are African American this kind of find is even bigger. A site called slate.com has published an article by a writer named Rebecca Onion where she talks about an African American called William Still. Now he lived in Philadelphia. He was the son of a former slave mother. She had escaped to freedom before he was born and he grew up to be a prominent conductor on the Underground Railroad in the early 1850s assisting fugitive slaves. In 1852 William Still began keeping a diary noting details in the lives of the fugitives he encountered. He wrote down their names, their ages, the status of family members, the names of the slave holders, their skills and the conditions under which they had lived in slavery. Now he kept this record in violation of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. Ad this was the law that made it illegal for people to help or harbor runaway slaves but he kept it anyway because he felt that the diary might help to reconnect other families later. What a record from these notes. [Laughs] He actually published a book called “The Underground Railroad” a record of facts, authentic narratives, letters etcetera narrating the hardships, hairbreadth escape and death struggles of the slaves in their efforts for freedom as related by themselves and others or witnessed by the author. That title once again is no [Laughs] I’m not going to go there. I don’t know how you put that on a book cover. It’s long but the full text is available through Project Gutenberg. And listen to these transcripts from a couple of pages. June 22nd 1855 arrived, William Nelson and Susan his wife and son William Thomas, also Louisa Bell and Elias Jasper, all arrived from Norfolk, from Captain B. William is about forty, dark chestnut, medium size, very intelligent, member of the Methodist Church under the charge of the Reverend Mr. Jones. I mean you don’t get details like this on much of anybody.  This is astonishing stuff. His owner’s name was Turner and Whitehead with whom he had served for twenty years in the capacity of “Packer.” He had been treated with mildness in some respects though he had been very tightly worked, allowed only $1.50 per week to board and clothe himself and family upon.  Consequently he was obliged to make up the balance as he could, had been sold once. One sister had been sold also. He was prompted to escape because he wanted his liberty-was not satisfied with not having the privilege of providing for his family.

Susan, about thirty, dark, rather above medium size, well made, good looking, intelligent and member of the same Church to which her husband belonged, was owned by Thomas Baltimore with whom she had lived for seven years. Her treatment, a part of the time had been mild. The marriage of her Master however, made a change. Afterwards she had been treated badly. Her Master, to gratify his wife, constantly threatened to sell her. Four of her sisters had been sold away to parts unknown years ago, left father and mother, three brothers and one sister still in Virginia, leaving about 100 miles from Norfolk. $1 000 was the demand of the owner for Susan and her child, twenty two months old. The article by the way shows some of the pages from the diary. It is chilling stuff to think that this ever happened, but what a genealogical goldmine for those who tie into these individuals in their family tree. There’s a lot more on this at ExtremeGenes.com. And then we have this, a Forbes article on four historic finds made in the past year under parking lots. [Car starting sound] Yes we certainly know about the first one on the list, the discovery of the body of last English King killed in battle, King Richard III. But did you know [I didn’t] that one of the oldest homes in Britain was found under a parking lot this past year? We’re talking what’s left of a ten thousand year old home dating back to the Mesolithic Period and they were going to build a new bridge near Edinburgh [Laughs] last fall and found the remains of the structure. They’ve dated it to about 8240 BC. They’ve got fragments of stone tools, fire pits, and charred bones, all under a parking lot. Also found under a parking lot in the past year, a Viking Parliament in Scotland and a Medieval Knight’s grave in Edinburgh. We also have the story of a man who located the grave of his revolutionary soldier ancestor in New Jersey. A lot of sweat and a little help from FindAGrave.com got in there. Read about all these stories at ExtremeGenes.com. All right, our poll for this week in celebration of the reopening of Ellis Island, “Did you have an ancestor come through Ellis Island in New York, yes or no?” Answer now at ExtremeGenes.com. This segment was brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history resource. Call 877 537 2000. And coming up next, it’s a little company on its way to big things. We’re going to talk to their President Hudson Gunn about BillionGraves.com, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 16

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Hudson Gunn

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers preserving your memories for over forty years. My guest today Hudson Gunn, he is the President, CEO, Grand Imperial Poobah of a new company called BillionGraves.com. Welcome to the show Hudson.

Hudson: Thank you very much Scott.

Fisher: And the natural comparison is to FindAGrave. You guys have a lot of similarities from what I’ve looked online, but a lot of differences as well. Fill us in on what you’re doing.

Hudson: Well, BillionGraves is a mobile application. It is actually a worldwide cemetery database similar to FindAGrave. What makes us different is that we utilize Smartphone technology or mobile app to document and capture this gravestone information. So it is a free application available on all devices where a use can download the app, go out to the cemetery and just start taking pictures. 

Fisher: Wow! And you know I was on your site earlier today just looking at it again and I’m noticing you’ve got a scroll on your homepage, and it says 237 graves in South Carolina you know, shot today basically, 427 in Mississippi, 624 in Massachusetts, 429 in California and I’ve seen them in Canada, in Australia, in other places around the world. It looks like it’s catching on very quickly. How many graves have you got so far?

Hudson: We’re coming up on the six million mark.

Fisher: Okay.

Hudson: We’ve been in the business for about two years so for us that’s a huge achievement.

Fisher: Well that is. Now the name BillionGraves though it’s a little ways from where you are right now. [Laughs] Where’s that come from?

Hudson: Well the BillionGraves comes from the random, well we sort of calculated out how many graves we thought were going to be in the world and we started coming across…

Fisher: There were millions of numbers.

Hudson: Yeah, yeah we started looking at cemetery records of how many interments were in certain cemeteries. We started extrapolating that across the world to see how many cemeteries there really were and how many possible burials there are and we came across several billion of records.

Fisher: Really?

Hudson: And so as we started looking at the name we just came across the vote, BillionGraves, why not? That’s a lofty goal to accomplish.           

Fisher: So that’s a goal then?

Hudson: Yeah, of course. 

Fisher: Okay you want to get there, absolutely. That would be a fantastic help to anybody anywhere especially if you can link back. How far back are some of the earliest graves you’ve had photographed so far?

Hudson: Oh man, we have a lot of graves especially popping up in Europe where they’re going back to the 1500s. There truly are some phenomenal records that I’ve come across. It’s quite fun to watch these images as they come in and the records that are created. And it’s not just Europe or Australia, it really is all over the world where we’re having some serious traction. 

Fisher: Now, you have volunteers who do this or are these just people who are excited about the technical side of it? There’s a difference between the volunteers I would assume between you know working with FindAGrave and what you’re doing.

Hudson: Very much so. So, we have two users. The first user is the individual who goes out and takes, or the volunteer, everything is a 100% volunteer based. And those volunteers take our mobile app and are typically a younger generation. Most users are thirty and younger. So we actually employ eagle scouts.

Fisher: Really?

Hudson: We work with youth groups. 

Fisher: Would this be an eagle project? 

Hudson: Correct. This qualifies as an eagle project. 

Fisher: Really?

Hudson: And we have numerous eagle projects that are coming across our desks on a daily basis with thousands of images across the world being submitted. It’s a great resource to really bring genealogy to a different age group or demographic.

Fisher: Right. Well and there’s so many organizations right now trying to get younger people to be involved in family history and it looks like maybe you’ve hit on a new way to do that.

Hudson: We hope so. These days you don’t have to sit down and grab a piece of paper and write out your four generation family tree. Now, technology has made it accessible to have that at your fingertips. And so why not utilize the technology that’s in the youth’s hands these days that they’re so familiar with, so comfortable with, and utilize that technology on a level that they enjoy to engage in an activity that’s typically made for an older generation. 

Fisher: We’re talking to Hudson Gunn, he is the Grand Imperial Poobah of BillionGraves.com. It’s a fairly new site, couple of years old as we’ve been talking about. 

Hudson: Right.

Fisher: And so you’ve got this new technology, take people who are maybe listening in their car right now, haven’t been to the site, haven’t even heard of it yet, take them through the experience that they will go through when they go there. 

Hudson: So when you go to the website, it’s free to login, and even then you can just search the records that have been submitted. Just go to our site and enter in a relative’s name. From there we’ll do a search based on the millions of records that we have. And we’ll populate the headstone. And what’s unique about us is that we’ll not only provide the picture and the information on it, but we’ll provide the exact GPS location of where it is inside the cemetery.

Fisher: Now that is unique, isn’t it?

Hudson: Very much so. 

Fisher: Is this required then basically for the volunteers when they take that picture to also get you that GPS coordinate?

Hudson: Correct. That’s why we use the mobile application. Is because you can take thousands of pictures and seamlessly gather that GPS data.

Fisher: So there’s no effort?

Hudson: Yeah no effort whatsoever. You take a picture, we capture the GPS. We capture the longitude/latitude.

Fisher: Wow!

Hudson: We capture which way the direction that you’re looking. You can link images together. You can upload them right then and there. There’s no cropping. There’s no loading them to your desktop first. It is immediate backup to our website. 

Fisher: Well, you should grow in large numbers very quickly with that.

Hudson: [Laughs]

Fisher: You know I was just thinking about it. I was just in New York City a month ago and I went to several cemeteries and one of them was one of the huge cemeteries in Brooklyn. And I went looking for several different people, unfortunately the stones were not there, could not find them. They went back to the mid 1800s. But still, we wandered all over the place. And I actually found some of the stones that I was looking for but still I had to wander all over. I knew the section, I knew the area, but I had to use maps.

Hudson: [Laughs]

Fisher: I had to estimate the tree, four paces to the north buried under the... you know, very difficult. 

Hudson: [Laughs]

Fisher: But this would save so much time for so many people who want to actually go to these places. 

Hudson: Very much so. For the user where you just pull up the application, we will walk you through it and we’ll give you the picture of what it looks like so you’re not just wandering around. The directions that you’re given, “Oh it’s next to the tree” well, that cemeteries have a lot of trees next to it.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Hudson: And on the other side it helps us with the relationships to the cemeteries themselves. So many people are going to the cemeteries and asking, “Well, where is my family buried?” Take time out of your busy schedule with maintaining the grounds to help me find my ancestor. 

Fisher: Sure.

Hudson: Well, with our application you don’t have to go and bug somebody.

Fisher: You don’t even have to go to the office. 

Hudson: You don’t have to go to the office. You don’t have to find the book. You don’t have to do anything.

Fisher: Ugh, the book! 

Hudson: The book. [Laughs]

Fisher: The book. Oh! But you know, there’s something that’s fun about that big, heavy, dusty book and seeing the names in there. But I know where you’re coming from because it’s much better to go directly to it then be turned down. 

Hudson: Exactly.

Fisher: Because we don’t have time.

Hudson: Exactly. Well and on top of that, you don’t have to worry about the caretaker being there to have access.

Fisher: Sure.

Hudson: You can go at your time or during the set hours of that cemetery. But in addition, there is a treasure trove of information that is actually inside of the cemetery’s offices that are that are widely overlooked where these larger cemeteries where there’s a lot of people asking for data. They simply just stopped giving it out because they don’t have time. 

Fisher: Sure.

Hudson: And so we hope to resolve some of those issues of, well, let’s take the burden off of trying to find by having the family go and doing that and having a relationship with the cemeteries where we can make that information accessible and tie that to that headstone so you don’t even have to talk to the cemetery caretaker anymore. 

Fisher: So, have you created then an app for them where they can photograph these records? 

Hudson: They can login just like a regular user. We actually provide them all the data of the cemetery where they can manage the information there, keep updates, as new burials happen they keep our system updated. So it’s been a great resource for them. We’ve had numerous cemeteries contact us and say thank you this is phenomenal resource for us to not only track what’s happening inside our cemetery, but give us back our free time to help improve the cemetery like what their job really is. 

Fisher: And you know, most of them, I would say most of the experiences that I have had in cemeteries, nothing but positive. Even in some of the places you would think not. New York I thought was going to be very difficult but you know, my girl Rosemary, she was all over it. 

Hudson: [Laughs]

Fisher: And she was fantastic in helping us find where to go. But it sounds like your app would be very useful in taking a burden off them and make it much quicker for me to go in and go okay over here, just follow it till the GPS coordinate matches and you’re going to find it. 

Hudson: Very much so.

Fisher: That is very exciting. Where are some of the areas right now where you would say you’re strongest?  You know, you have more records from one place then somewhere else. 

Hudson: Obviously being based out of Utah, most of our records are sitting inside of Utah, but we do have a very strong presence inside of the United States and it is growing outside of the United States. Australia. 

Fisher: Yeah, New Zealand. 

Hudson: New Zealand.

Fisher: Yeah, I saw these names all coming up and it was like within the last 20 hours. 

Hudson: Yes. Yeah, it is very recent activity. A couple of days ago there was some from Johannesburg, South Africa, so it really is everywhere. We’ve got a record in 212 different countries around the world.

Fisher: Wow! 

Hudson: We find that to be just a tremendous success to the simplicity of how we gather this information and the partnerships of how we then make that information accessible so people can truly collaborate. 

Fisher: How do you monetize your business?

Hudson: Everything is free but we do have the ads on the side.

Fisher: Right. Sure.

Hudson: Obviously the resources to keep and maintain that information are quite large so we just have some banner ads on the side and we point to some of our partners.

Fisher: Right. Now, I noticed that you have a good working relationship with GenealogyBank.com.  

Hudson: Correct.

Fisher: Which I think is an excellent source. 

Hudson: Yes, very much so.

Fisher: And some of your search engines stuff ties into them.

Hudson: Yes.

Fisher: Which I think is a great way to go.

Hudson: Correct.

Fisher: Very helpful.

Hudson: And in the next couple of weeks you’ll see integrations with other companies as well where that will be a seamless interaction. Where it’s not just our records but you’ll be able to see how they correlate to what GenealogyBank has, what FamilySearch has, what MyHeritage has, even Ancestry. We have one for Ancestry.com at the bottom as well. So there will be continued improvement in the connection of where these records that we are photographing, of how they connect inside your family. 

Fisher: How many new graves a day are you seeing coming up, Hudson?

Hudson: We approve right now probably about fourteen thousand images a day.

Fisher: You approve them? How do you do that? Who watches that? [Laughs]

Hudson: [Laughs] 

Fisher: Who goes through them and say, that one’s good. That one... fourteen thousand! 

Hudson: Yes. It’s a very efficient system. We want to keep a skeleton crew so the expenses of keeping this.

Fisher: Oh I like that. That’s very nice, skeleton crew. Waka waka waka. [Laughs]

Hudson: [Laughs] Yes. So what we do with the app, the images come through and every once in a while you’ll get a picture of somebody’s show or a picture of somebody’s dashboard as they’re loading the app.

Fisher: I see. Okay. 

Hudson: So we go through a very thorough approval process to make sure that it’s actually a headstone. 

Fisher: Okay. And you get the GPS coordinated to the shoe? 

Hudson: Correct. We get the GPS coordinated of the shoe.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Hudson: [Laughs] We try to filter that stuff out so it is legitimate information and if anybody ever has a question of the information that we have, you know what, we’ll show you the GPS of how you can prove that that information is where it originated from. 

Fisher: Isn’t that great? You know I think it’s so important we have so many companies like yours that come along and do some of the same services that others do like FindAGrave, but at the same time you’re developing some new ways of going about it that improve upon that. And so this is great stuff. We’re just thrilled to have you on the show and wish you the best of luck with BillionGraves.com, Hudson.

Hudson: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

Fisher: All right and coming up next we’re going to talk to a lady who’s looking for her blood family for over thirty years, with success, Perline Porter coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 16

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Perline Porter

Fisher: Hey! Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centres, preserving your memories for over 40 years! And this segment is brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family resource. Call 877-537-2000. I’m your Radio Roots Sleuth, Fisher, and I’m talking to Perline Porter. She’s in Utah, and Perline, you had a remarkable thing happen here last couple of weeks. Tell us about it.

Perline: Well, I’d been looking for my biological father for over 30, and through DNA I finally had a breakthrough and found my father, and a half brother and a half sister still living.

Fisher: Unbelievable. Okay. You lost the birth father.

Perline: Right.

Fisher: Some time back. Well, tell us about this. First of all, how did you know that you had a different father than the one that raised you?

Perline: Well, I just, when I was a young child, I ran through... found a couple of documents that indicated that I had a different father.

Fisher: Were you snooping through the cupboards?

Perline: Yes, I was snooping through the cupboards.

Fisher: [Laughs] I did this myself too, and found, I didn’t know my mom had been married to somebody before me.

Perline: Oh.

Fisher: And I remember going to her with this newspaper clipping that had referred to her by this other maiden-name and I’m like, “Does dad know about this?!” [Laughs]

Perline: [Laughs] 

Fisher: So that had to be a little bit, shall we say challenging for you at the time. What were the documents that you found?

Perline: Well, I found a baby book that had a different father on it, and I also, my birth certificate did not look kosher.

Fisher: Okay.

Perline: And my mother always denied it. She had raised me as her first husband’s child, and I researched and found out that it was a date that he had died, and the date I was born, there was no way I could have been his child, but she still denied it and denied it. And then when I turned 17, she finally told me the truth. And then from that point on, I’ve been searching.

Fisher: Let me ask you, how did that go, that conversation?

Perline: With my mom?

Fisher: With your mom.

Perline: Shocking, because she had denied it and denied it for so many years.

Fisher: But obviously it bothered her. It was on her mind.

Perline: She was telling me about my younger sister, and I just said out of the blue, might as well tell me about mine too, and she did, and I was shocked, so I went on in searching for what she had told me was another man, and the name she gave me was the nickname of Buck, and I searched over the years. Back then you didn’t have the robust internet that we have now.

Fisher: Right.

Perline: I sent letters out, and different types of areas like the birth announcements, divorcings in California and Dear Abby. I think I tried various other things and often on through the years, I kept trying and trying and trying, and then when the internet started coming up, I went on to Ancestry.com and researched the name that she told me which was Buck Casper, and so I would search and search, and then my free thing would wear out, so I’d let it go and then a couple of years later I’d do it again.

Fisher: Pick it up, sure. And of course, things kept getting better, and they have in all kinds of ways over the last several years. So, you’re kind of coming along right now at the peak of all this, plus DNA, which five years ago you probably couldn’t have had the results that you got.

Perline: Right. And my sister and I decided to join this 23AndMe DNA site, because she has the same situation and she was told that, she joined some adoption group out there, and they all told her you ought to try DNA, so we together decided to do that, and I was lucky enough to have a second cousin come up on my DNA as a relative, as a close relative, which at the point in time then I did not realize was a big deal.

Fisher: Oh yeah, that’s close. 

Perline: Yeah, that was close, but the other thing that was really amazing was I shared a large X chromosome with him, and I was still looking for the, after a lot of research had found out that it was Cosper, not Casper.

Fisher: Okay.

Perline: And I found the man, and I found his relatives, and I had one tested.

Fisher: Now did you take it, let’s just go back to the second cousin a minute. You must have then gone back to say, okay, what’s our common ancestor and what could the possible root be, to see if there was something in there that looked familiar, yes?

Perline: Yes, but I didn’t get to that point till after I went down the Cosper move.

Fisher: Okay.

Perline: And found out that I was not related to that man that I did find. But I did find a Buck Cosper that met everything that my mother said.

Fisher: Right. But there was nothing like that in this particular match with the second cousin. Is that what you’re saying?

Perline: I’m saying that I found his son and had him tested, and he was not related to me.

Fisher: Wow. And he was willing to do that? That’s awesome. You know, a lot of people are afraid to ask because they’re just afraid of the refusal and what it might do, but a lot of people are willing to do it because they want to know as well.

Perline: Yes, that’s true. And so, after I found out, I gave up on this Cosper surname and decided to look more at the DNA way of finding my father, and I had a couple of genealogists and search angels that helped me on this site that was really helpful. And they kept saying I needed to go back, because I had such a large X chromosome with this man. That I needed to go back to his maternal lines, to the X chromosome way that it, you know, carries down through the female side. I had to go to his maternal grandmother and then search down, you know, through the lineage at the time and day, and then try to find an area, because I knew the area I was conceived, you know, in approximate time and day.

Fisher: Sure. So, you’re looking for places now as well.

Perline: Yes.

Fisher: Okay.

Perline: That’s what we did. And so, we found a maternal grandmother, and we went down, and of course, back then they had many children, and we had to go through all of those females and we finally found one female that had actually left Louisiana and Arkansas, and moved to California, in the area I was conceived.

Fisher: And that was your clue right there.

Perline: Right there.

Fisher: Unbelievable. We’re talking to Perline Porter of Utah, who had an amazing discovery recently and got reunited with her half siblings, discovered who her birth father was, and in getting the story of her journey that’s gone on for 30 years. So what happened at this point, Perline?

Perline: Well, at this point, we found out that this Mozella had three sons, and so, we really weren’t looking at the younger son, because he was kind of too young, we thought.

Fisher: Sure.

Perline: But we tracked down the other two sons which had passed, but we found this children, and I notified them and asked if they’d be willing to take the test, and they both agreed. The one, the male one that I had contacted, before the results came in had passed away.

Fisher: Wow.

Perline: So I couldn’t get his results, but the female came back as a first cousin. So I knew I was related.

Fisher: Yes. And now you’ve kind of, did that help narrow down then the brothers?

Perline: Yeah, it did, to the point where the one that passed away, there was no other living siblings left to test, but there was a younger brother that everybody I met in my journey on Ancestry, and, you know, different other things that I tried had kept saying, you need to check that younger brother, because he was quite a wild one, you know.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Perline: And so... [Laughs] But the age difference between him and my mother at the time was like six to seven years, so, she was older, a widow with two kids, and he was only like 17 or 18, you know.

Fisher: Okay. 

Perline: We never even considered him. But finally I got a hold of his son that’s still living and called him out of the blue and he was quite surprised, and he agreed, and after he checked me out to make sure it’s legit, he agreed to test, and he turned out to be my half-brother.

Fisher: Oh my gosh. How’d he take that news?

Perline: Well, before the results came in, I decided to go to the other man Rick’s services, and he lives right there in the same town in San Diego, so I called John, my half-brother, and said hey, I’m going to be in the area for Rick’s services, because I thought that if I never went to his services I would regret it, right?

Fisher: Sure.

Perline: So, I said I’d like to meet you. And, he was very accommodating. He said I’ll pick you up, we’ll go to the services together, you know, blah blah blah, and he was really, really very accommodating and very nice, and we did exactly that, and had a great time, and he knew immediately that I was related just by my mannerism, the way I talked, my looks.

Fisher: Talk about, Perline, the moment you got that email that said, hey, there’s a match. What did that feel like for you after 30 years?

Perline: You mean with my half-brother?

Fisher: Yes.

Perline: It was great, but like I said before, we kind of already knew. [Laughs] Even before the results came in, he had told me over and over again, you are my sister. There is just no way. But it felt so relieving and gratifying for me to finally find my biological family or the other half of me that I’ve never known, and so it just gives me this completeness feeling, of I finally know who my father is, where I came from, you know, where my ancestry is, half of me I’ve never known. And so, it’s quite an exciting adventure.

Fisher: And now that the journey is over, what’s next?

Perline: I’ve actually been doing research on my father’s side, and I’m quite getting a lot of information on that. When I went on my little road trip to meet my sister for the first time, she gave me a bunch of pictures and information that I’m scanning right now to put them, you know, in my records, and I’m helping other people find their biological families too, and I’ve had a lot of success in those too.

Fisher: Well, congratulations Perline, it’s a great story. I think everybody listening is so happy for you. That’s a big thing for a lot of people who don’t know one side of the family, and, I’m glad your journey has turned out successful after 30 years. I’m sure it’s encouraging to other people listening who are on the same trip right now.

Perline: Yes, and I’ve wrote a book on it.

Fisher: Well plug it, what’s the name of your book?

Perline: It’s called, “My DNA Search For My Roots”. 

Fisher: All right. And we can find that online?

Perline: Find that on Amazon, and I’m also just about got a Kindle copy out there too.

Fisher: That’s fantastic. Perline Porter of Utah, thank you so much for your time and congratulations!

Perline: Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, our preservation authority, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He’s going to tell you about MP4s and the best way to send things over the internet, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 Episode 16

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back, segment 4 of Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. Brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers, preserving your memories for over forty years! Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, welcome back, Tommy!

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: And, I'm kind of excited about where this is going today, because I think I am like a lot of people, things change so quickly in technology, especially when it comes to preservation. You always need to be updated on things. So let's talk about a couple of these things you're readying forth today, MP4s. Now, I think most people are familiar with MP3s for audio, where does MP4 come in?

Tom: Okay, MP4s are primarily a video format and they're absolutely wonderful, because they use a major compression ratio, but yet they still look good. Like if you're watching Netflix on your television, different things like that, they are MP4s. So people need to realize that what you're going to watch on a television and maybe what you're going to make an enlargement of are two totally different things.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So if you have a photograph you're going to want to make it into a canvas or something really, really nice, you're going to want to get into something like super jpegs or something like that. If you're just going to be watching some video on your television, just want to enjoy it, MP4s are a great way to go, because they are so small, you can actually put them on a jump drive or an SD card or a thumb drive, they're really small!

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Oh yeah!

Fisher: So you use this for videos?

Tom: Any kind of videos, even high def.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So like for instance, the other day, we had somebody that came in that wanted, he had some high def video that he shot that was on his hard drive in his camera, but he wanted to be able to email it to somebody. Unless you've got a really fast upload and download and a cloud account, it’s going to be tough. But if you compress it as an MP4, it’s still going to look great and you can very easily, you know, email it to somebody or send them a thumb drive.

Fisher: Really? Now, how do you actually go about the compression of the video?

Tom: Well, there's algorisms that does everything.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So it’s basically an algorism that has it. If you've got like Final Cut Pro, most editing programs are, you know, good programs. Vegas if you're a PC person usually have these compression ratios. In fact, there's a company called Sorenson and they're located in Utah and they are one of the foremost compression companies around. Almost everybody uses them. It’s just amazing the stuff that they have. And so, basically as a general rule, when you're doing MP4s, if you're doing standard definition, you can figure, it’s about one and a half gigs per hour. If you're doing high definition, it’s about two and a half gigs per hour.

Fisher: That's it??

Tom: That's is.

Fisher: Oh my gosh! [Laughs]

Tom: So like I've got in my pocket.

Fisher: I've got photographs bigger than that.

Tom: Yeah, exactly, exactly. But on a television, even if it’s a big, widescreen television, it’s going to look great. Because you have to realize, what you're seeing on the TV is not the same as if you're printing a poster the same size as the TV, because a poster that was compressed as an MP4 the size of a TV would look pretty grainy and wouldn't look very good.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: But the way the televisions are set up, they're interpolated, they're great. And most BluRay DVD players have a place for a flash drive. So like I've got a 16 gigabyte flash drive in my pocket, I always have with me if I need to upload or download something. So I could put, you know, a couple of hours worth of video on it no sweat! Plug it into my BluRay player, the little USB adapter and it'll play. And a lot of televisions even nowadays will be able to do that, too.

Fisher: So it keeps moving in the direction of personal use and on demand.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Right out of your pocket.

Tom: Oh, it does.

Fisher: It’s unbelievable.

Tom: And most of these things are developed by big companies, like Coca Cola and stuff like that or for people like that, that they need special things done, and they're like, the price is astronomical, you can't even consider it! But as it becomes more user-friendly and more people start getting into the game, so to speak, the prices just drop significantly. Like things that we can do today for a reasonable price, we couldn’t even dream about ten years ago.

Fisher: Wow! And you can of course answer more questions about this at your email address, [email protected].

Tom: Exactly! And also, if you go to our website, we have a link that says "24/7" it links to our ecommerce site, but it’s got all kind of information about this. So if you're just looking, you know, for information, but don't need anything done, there's all kinds of calculators on there, there's all kinds of ways you can figure out, "I've got so many minutes of video or so many hours of video or so many feet of film, how many gigabytes it’s going to take?" Well, it depends. You're going to go AVI, you're going to go 1080p.

Fisher: And what these things mean, you explain those.

Tom: Exactly, exactly. So you can go on there, and if you're doing everything yourself, that's great, but this will help you figure out, "Oh, I need to go buy a hard drive for this. I want to get a solid state hard drive." for instance, "What size do I need?" this will tell you, so when you go home and do your own transfers or send them off to somebody else or go to your local person, you know what kind of hard drive to take in to them, you know what to expect back.

Fisher: All right. We're talking to Tom Perry, he is our Preservation Authority on ExtremeGenes.com. What else do you have for us today, Tom?

Tom: Well, we've had a lot of people that have called since our last show that have asked some specific questions about different kinds of formats and things like this and what the difference is. We've talked to you people a little bit before about it, but some the things, they still get a little bit confused. We have people call and say, "Hey, I don't want jpegs because I understand they degrade every time you make a copy of them."

Fisher: Right. I've heard that.

Tom: Yeah. And it is true, but you have to be realistic at the same time. If you're going to take a photo and make a jpeg of it and then copy that photo, then the new copy you have, make a copy of that, then the new copy, and then just go generation.

Fisher: On and on and on.

Tom: Yeah. It’s for sure going to degrade, there's no question about it.

Fisher: But degrading, I mean, I've heard this with audio all my life and I'll listen to one thing that's supposedly been copied over and over and over, and I don't hear the difference in some, and yet, "Oh, yeah, but its degraded!" But if you can't hear it? And then I would translate that to photographs, if you can't see it, what's the difference?

Tom: Exactly. It’s all perception. Some people that do things for a living, they can pick up stuff. Like I can watch a video and I can usually tell instantly what generation it is, because I do it all day long. With a lot of people, you have to hook it up to a wave form monitor or a vector scope before you can see any difference.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, because we all have those! [Laughs]

Tom: Yeah, exactly, everybody's got one! So you know, if you're watching a TV show and you've got your vector scope and your wave form monitor, you know, hooked up to your monitor, you're going to see, "Hmm, you know, this has degraded a little bit."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: But you turn those off and enjoy the television. It looks great!

Fisher: But that's not how you use things, is it.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: I mean, that's the bottom line. So that's a myth, that's a wives tale about degrading jpegs. Up to what point? I mean, there has to be a point where it’s not just opening and looking at it, you're talking about working at it and then saving it as a copy.

Tom: Right. It’s just like your genes, you know. As the genes go farther and farther away, that why, you know, we don't intermarry anymore, because you're going to have all kinds of problems, the same thing with jpegs. If you have, and I tell all of our customers this, if you have a disk that says "master" on it and you want to make copies for somebody, go back to the master and make copies. Always go back to the master.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And you should never have a problem like that.

Fisher: But if you did make a copy, say, of a photograph and you change, how far down the line before you think the average person would begin to see degrading of the photograph?

Tom: An average person, probably never, somebody that's in the business, maybe twenty or thirty generations.

Fisher: Twenty or thirty. And how many, you know, how many times do we make it twenty or thirty copies?

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: Or generations down? You just don't!

Tom: Oh yeah! The same thing when people bring in photos and slides that need to be scanned, they go, "Oh, I want the absolute best!" Yeah, well, we can do the absolute best, but it’s expensive. And if you're going to make a billboard, okay, cool, let's do it that way. If you're not going to be making a billboard, like I asked him, "What size print are you going to make?" "Oh, maybe a 5x7, maybe an 8x10." Well, a super jpeg is going to be overkill, that's awesome.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Get a super jpeg, you'll be happy. You can make canvases, everything. And a lot of times, people don't understand, they go in and say, "Oh, I want the absolute best!" and this is not an exaggeration, "I have 1500 slides, but I want them all scanned the best." Yeah, well, what are you going to be doing with these slides? "Oh, I want to send copies to our family and stuff." I say, "Okay, what you want to do, let's do it at a standard high def, which is 16.2 megapixels, which is overkill for about anybody.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And then use those. Then, if down the road, you say, "Hey, I want to make a billboard out of this one, you know, or a big poster for a family reunion." Bring that one back let's scan that one at a higher dpi. But don't, you know, go buy a whole fleet of Cadillacs when you only need Fords, you know.

Fisher: Wow, from a slide to a billboard, they can be done, unbelievable!

Tom: Oh yeah, high def, you bet!

Fisher: Well, that's why Tom Perry is our Preservation Authority here at ExtremeGenes.com. You can [email protected], and he'll answer all your questions.

Tom: Absolutely! We're more than happy to answer any questions you have.

Fisher: All right, thanks for joining us. There we go! Once again, another edition of Extreme Genes in the books!  We want to thank our guest, Hudson Gunn from BillionGraves.com, and Perline Porter for her amazing story about reconnecting with her birth family. Also, remember our poll that's going on right now at ExtremeGenes.com, “Do you have an ancestor that came through Ellis Island?” We're asking the question, because they've just reopened it after all the damage from hurricane Sandy last year. Check it out at ExtremeGenes.com. We'll talk to you next week. Have a great one! It’s a Fisher Voice Works Production!

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