Episode 236 - Lose A Cemetery? Chicago Native Can Help You / Father And Step Son Make Remarkable DNA DiscoveryMay 13, 2018
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David begins, talking about how he recently had the honor of putting together a genealogy for one of America’s most famous historians, who, it turns out, is related to numerous early American famous writers. He’ll tell you who it is. If you’re Irish, you’ll be interested to learn that you may be related to 14,000 living people! How can that be? The guys will explain. Then, the birth of a royal male child to Prince William is not going to change the line of succession to the throne for the baby’s older sister. David explains the changes in English law that now make this possible. He also mentions that England’s longest serving monarch, that baby’s great grandmother also recently passed another landmark. Hear what it is. Finally, the guys wrap up “Family Histoire news with the story of a found German U Boat from World War II. This one holds special significance. David then shines his blogger spotlight on Alfred Woollacott III, the man behind myfourleggedstool.com. If you had British ancestry, you’ll love reading Alfred’s latest blog on specific castles.
Fisher then visits with Barry Fleig, a Chicago native now living in Arizona. Barry took great exception to Chicago actually “losing” a cemetery. It was discovered when remains were being dug up during a construction project. Barry explains the history of the cemetery, what happened when the construction stopped, and tells of the records he has been able to assemble concerning the dead who were buried there. He also explains how and why we should be vigilant in our own communities when it comes to urban cemeteries.
Fisher then visits with Mike Loffland, an Extreme Genes listeners and geni from Oklahoma. Mike shares another one of those “you’ve got to be kidding me” DNA stories you will not want to miss!
Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority returns to answer your questions about preserving your precious materials.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 236
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 236
Fisher: Welcome America to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out and this segment of the show is brought to you by LegacyTree.com/Genealogists. And coming up in the show today, “How do you lose a cemetery?” Yeah, Chicago actually managed to do this and it’s kind of a frightening thing and it’s a lesson for all of us by the way if we’re concerned where our dead are buried, where the records are kept and what is happening with the remains of our ancestors. Barry Fleig is a former Chicago resident who lives in Arizona right now and were going to be talking to him in about 10 minutes about his part in helping to collect the records and making sure that people who had ancestors in this “lost” cemetery know where they were, and that type of thing. Fascinating conversation coming up in just a little bit, you’re going to want to hear it. And later in the show we’re always telling you about unexpected results with DNA. This one hit real close to home, and that’s about all I’m going to say about it. Mike and Logan Loffland are going to be talking to me here in just a little bit, so we’re looking forward to hearing from them as well. Right now it’s time to head out to New England and Boston and the New England Historic Genealogical Society and their Chief Genealogist David Allen Lambert. How are you Sir?
David: I’m doing great, Fish, just back from NGS in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I got to meet some of our listeners which is always fun. And I was also honored recently to have David McCullough receive a genealogy that I researched.
Fisher: That’s awesome! The great historian.
Fisher: So, are you related to him?
David: I am and actually I am and so is Ernst Hemingway and Emily Dickinson. Chances are he’s probably related to you, Fish. We can compare notes.
Fisher: [Laughs] We will have to compare notes. Well, that’s awesome. What a great thing to know that you’ve done his work.
David: Well, I tell you there are so many people out there doing genealogy. I’m very grateful for Family Search and Family Search has now two billion records online that’s images now, Fish.
Fisher: That is amazing. That’s right. You know, it’s a question always that we hear is, “What is a record? Is it a census? Is it the entire page, or is it just the name on the page?” But in this case they’re very specific. They’ve got two billion images up now on FamilySearch.org, of course one of our sponsors, and we’re very excited for them and send congratulations.
David: North America leads the list with over 711 million then it goes to Europe with over 678 million and then Latin America with 267 million, so there’s something in there for everybody.
Fisher: Boy, that’s incredible.
David: I just want to say I have to expand my Christmas list of cards this year because being Irish which is what I’m predominantly on ancestry and a lot of the other kits, it tells us now by statistics that 14,000 people living today are probably related to me based on my Irish roots. A study that was done with ancestry went through and found out that there are probably 17,558 people related to any of the given 5,300 people from Ulster.
David: So, if you thought your family was small, guess again.
Fisher: Oh my goodness.
David: And this is based on 5th to 8th cousins living up to about 200 years ago.
Fisher: That’s incredible! Wow, that’s a fun story. Who knew? I’m sure the Irish were thrilling dancing a jig.
David: I’m sure they are. And if I can only find out where my John Lambert from Ireland came from in 1792, I’d dance along with them. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, I understand.
David: Going a little further east, touching upon the royals, but a real cutie at that, Princess Charlotte, aged three who was trending on the internet with all of her cute waves when she went to visit her baby brother. But one of the stories that came up was, will her baby brother actually cause her to be further away from the throne? The answer is no! She actually cannot lose her spot due to the Succession to the Crown about 2013 or so, her older brother, herself and now her baby brother in that order.
Fisher: And this is because it was changed by Parliament. That’s amazing!
David: It is. For hundreds upon hundreds of years the girls always went to the end. [Laughs]
Fisher: I never understood how “slow” England is to change things. They’re so steeped in tradition. The fact that they would change that in 2013 is absolutely amazing and obviously they had somebody like Charlotte in mind.
David: Well, congratulations to the little princess.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.
David: And we should probably mention the birthday of the great grandmother of Princess Charlotte, and of course that is Queen Elizabeth II of England who just turned 92.
Fisher: She’s been the Queen since I was born, you know. [Laughs]
David: Me too. [Laughs]
Fisher: I mean, most of the world has been around the entire time she has been Queen. She went in I think in what, ’53?
David: That’s exactly when she went in.
David: And she is of course the longest ruling English monarch, but only comes in third to all the Europeans, including Franz Joseph and King Louis XIV of France. Hey, did you see the news about that German U-boat they found? World War II one this time.
Fisher: Yeah, this is amazing. If you recall, last year History was doing this whole thing on finding Hitler and South America and the story was a U-boat took him from perhaps up in Denmark to South America. And there was supposed to be this U-3523 that was one of the subs suspected to be perhaps the one that carried him and some of his henchmen to South America. Well, they have finally found the wreckage after all these years sunk by a British bomber plane. And it’s so deep, it’s 403 feet down buried in the sand, so it’s not going to be accessed anytime soon. But at the end of the day, Hitler did not go to South America on this U-boat
David: Wow! The question is, is he ON that U-boat?
Fisher: That there is a question, right? Okay.
David: [Laughs] Okay, every week I like to talk about a blogger spotlight and this is one I actually met at the conference. It’s a very nice gentleman by the name of Alfred Woollacott III. He is an author and speaks about his ancestors and different aspects of history. It’s always a learning experience when I read his blog at MyFourLeggedStool.com.
Fisher: MyFourLeggedStool.com. It’s not the number four it’s the word four, right?
Fisher: All right. Very good. And thank you Alfred for contributing to the genealogical discussion.
David: And of course, NEHGS just loves to have everyone in a discussion here in our library in Boston. So, if you’re not a member, think about joining American Ancestors and you can save $20 off the membership by using the checkout code Extreme for Extreme Genes.
Fisher: All right David. Thank you so much and we’ll talk to you again next week.
David: All right. Looking forward to it.
Fisher: All right. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to a guy who went to bat, went to war actually, for a cemetery that was lost in Chicago. How was it lost, how was it found, what’s happening with the records, I’m going to talk to Barry Fleig in Arizona coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 236
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Barry Fleig
Fisher: We are back! It is America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And on the line with me right now is a great guest from Arizona down in Phoenix, escaped the cold weather of Chicago where he lived for many, many years, Barry Fleig, a long time researcher. You even go back earlier than me, Barry. Why would you leave the area that you were most passionate about?
Barry: Well, I’m seventy three years old. About twenty years ago I didn’t want to shovel snow anymore in Chicago.
Fisher: [Laughs] That’ll do it. And you know what, there’s so much you can do online now anyway that makes such a big difference, so that really worked out for you. Well, Barry has been into the cemetery world for a long, long time and a fascinating tale came up some time back that he got involved with that’s now kind of carried over for many decades as he’s looked into this particular cemetery in Chicago that disappeared. They lost the cemetery in Chicago. And Barry, how do you lose a major cemetery?
Barry: Well, this particular cemetery was on the grounds of the Cook County Court Poor Farm and Insane Asylum and it was behind a big iron fence. And it was a scary place. So, a lot of the neighbors, a lot of the area didn’t even know it was there. And over the years land was recycled. It was turned into cottages and other buildings. It was just forgotten. There were only wooden markers and they didn’t last.
Fisher: No, they never do, do they. So, how many acres are we talking here?
Barry: The property itself was 320 acres. It was as much as a hundred and some buildings. A lot of it was farm land, about 200 acres was farm. But the cemetery itself was about 25 acres.
Fisher: Okay. And so what era did that cover?
Barry: The Poor Farm opened in 1854 and people were old and didn’t do so well. So as they died they were just buried out in the back yard.
Fisher: [Laughs] Oh boy. So, it wasn’t officially a cemetery. It wasn’t designated as one. It was just part of the property of the insane asylum.
Barry: Right. It was convenient for Cook County to bury the people where they died. But very quickly after that they established it as a proper cemetery for the entire city and county.
Fisher: Okay. And so how does the city and county then lose this to developers? I mean, as they started to develop there, what was it, in the 80s? They’re finding skulls and bones and legs and all kinds of things, and they had to stop and you got involved.
Barry: It’s real simple. Cemeteries don’t count. They don’t pay taxes. They don’t vote, well, they do in Chicago.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Barry: For the most part cemeteries are in the way. Politicians looked at this land and said, “Hey, I can make money selling it to a developer.”
Fisher: Okay. You mean on behalf of the city and county?
Barry: Right. It went from the county to the state in 1912 and then it went to the city.
Fisher: Okay. How many people were buried in there, overall, and when was the last burial?
Barry: I have estimated and no one has been able to dispute thirty eight thousand bodies.
Fisher: Oh my gosh. And when was the last one buried there?
Barry: Officially, the county got rid of the property in 1912 for a dollar to the state. There were some burials into the 1920s and that would have been about it.
Fisher: Okay. So when all this started happening, there had to be grandchildren of some of these people still around who were kind of appalled by what was going on?
Barry: Oh, absolutely. As I say, I get maybe a letter a month from somebody looking for “Uncle Willy,” and every once in a while we do have a genuine relative.
Fisher: Wow. And so, what has been the resolution of this big mess?
Barry: Well, we have the memorial park. It’s called the Reid Dunning Memorial Park it’s about three acres. And it’s a small portion of the old grounds. The new ground has a plaque and we’re hoping that the rest of the area won’t be any more disturbed than it is.
Fisher: Right. What do they do with the remains that were dug up as they started to develop there?
Barry: They were examined by the coroner, the medical examiner, and they had been reburied quietly in a corner of the memorial park.
Fisher: So they just never have been able to identify who any of those people were or where they belonged, or what happened to them? That’s really quite tragic.
Barry: No. But some of them were quite whole. Some of them had sweaters on and modern chopped facial hair. They were well preserved in clay.
Fisher: Oh my gosh. That’s unbelievable. It would be kind of creepy to live there now [laughs] I’m thinking. Wow.
Barry: Most of the bodies are still under the ground even though houses were built and condos were built on top. It’s almost a little poltergeist
Fisher: Yeah. Yeah. You’ve got to wonder if there aren’t stories around there, right, around that development, [Laughs] my goodness.
Barry: Scott I have to tell you, there was a lady that was a patient in the institution in the insane asylum, she was interviewed and she said, “Ghosts are coming up through the floor of my cottage.” And she had no idea about the cemetery.
Fisher: Oh my gosh. That’s incredible.
Barry: This is a true story. The administrator interviewed her. She was moved to another cottage where she said, “There’s no more ghosts coming up through the floor.”
Fisher: [Laughs] So it wasn’t in her mind apparently. Wow.
Barry: No. No. You know, there’s some things we just don’t understand.
Fisher: So, you’ve kind of become the official record keeper for this cemetery because people keep coming to you, reporters keep coming to you, how did you get started in all this, Barry?
Barry: It was a cheap date.
Barry: On Sunday after church a lady friend and I would go out for a ride and the car would always make a right hand turn into a cemetery. We would read the stones. We would try to guess about the people. And then friends would ask, “What are you guys doing? What are your favorite ones?” And that started a book that I was writing about cemeteries in Chicago. The cemetery book had to be put aside because of Cook County Cemetery in 1989 when this all hit. But now it’s a website. I have a website out there where I get to tell all my stories.
Fisher: That is so much fun. You know, cemeteries are just loaded with tales. Not just about the individuals but the history of the place itself, and strange burials, and things that take place there. [Laughs] I mean I just find them fascinating places and typically really peaceful and beautiful places.
Barry: Yes. And more important, they tell us who we were.
Fisher: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right. Especially when you start going through the names and the people where they’re buried together, even the locations of the graves have stories to tell.
Barry: Absolutely. It’s a living history book.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. So you’ve been doing that for many, many years. Is that in addition to being a genealogist?
Barry: Yeah. The family history portion of my life, the genealogies, it was pretty well done over a number of years so I still poke at it but cemeteries are my passion.
Fisher: Yeah, yeah absolutely. So, how do people lose a cemetery? What’s the warning you take from your story in Chicago for people in other, I would assume, large metropolitan areas but maybe you might even consider some out in the country.
Barry: The biggest threat is developers, builders with those big yellow bulldozers, and excavators. Land is more valuable to a builder than a cemetery. And so my advice to anybody in another area would be keep an eye on a cemetery because that land would easily be gobbled up by a developer, and they can either move the bodies or they can preserve it, but they don’t like to do either one.
Fisher: Yeah, yeah right. You’ve got to do one or the other if you’re going to develop an area like that, right?
Barry: Yeah. You know, look at old maps, just about everywhere there were burials. There are 273 burials in the Chicago area.
Fisher: Burial sites?
Barry: Cemetery sites, yes. Many of which are under streets, under buildings, you’ve got to remember, in the old days they just buried them out in the back yard or on the farm in a corner.
Fisher: Yeah that’s right. In fact, if you look at New York City there were tons of cemeteries there because the city really started at the southern end of the island and started moving north and they had to move a lot of those bodies to like Blackwell Island and then over to Cypress Hills and other major cemeteries in Brooklyn as well. So, it’s really kind of a common thing, but as a family member to people who are buried in places like this, you need to be somewhat vigilant. And I would assume it’s the politicians you have to hold to account for what they’re going to do with that land, yes?
Barry: Yes. Vigilant is the best word. The best advice I could offer.
Fisher: Have you ever run into a church that was selling off cemetery property?
Barry: They don’t sell off. The big one was St. John Cemetery out near an airfield and it was in the way of a new runway they wanted to build. So the city did move all those bodies. And it was a different church cemetery but there they had to go through a whole lot of legal procedure and contact all the relatives because it was well marked. It was an active cemetery.
Fisher: Wow. Yeah that would stir up a lot of emotion I would think.
Barry: It did. The church for many, many, many years, St. Johannes or St. Johns. And in the same case, Cook County Cemetery we just went through all kinds of lawyers and builders, and the city, the county, the state. They tried to make the cemetery go away. It’s just bones they said. And I said no, these are people’s grandparents and aunts and uncles. They are real people that are buried there, all with a story.
Fisher: Have you collected a lot of those stories?
Barry: I have indeed. The most famous is Thomas McCrainie. He’s a Civil War Colonel that’s buried there. After the war he was a salesman for McCormick Reaper Corporation in Chicago. He fell ill. He died alone in Cook County Hospital and the county buried him in my cemetery.
Fisher: Was his grave marked?
Barry: No, none of the graves are marked. There’s grave numbers in the new grounds but no marks anymore. None at all.
Fisher: And that’s because they marked them all with a wooden cross?
Barry: Maybe not even that, you know. It was a Potter’s field. I heard that there were some wood markers but you know, it depends on the era.
Fisher: Unbelievable. He’s Barry Fleig. He’s in Phoenix, Arizona. A passionate geni from the Chicago area whose gone through a lot of hard work to try to help deal with the remains of lost loved ones from years ago in the Chicago area. Barry thanks so much for your insight, Fascinating stuff and good luck with your work.
Barry: Well, thank you very much.
Fisher: And by the way, if you want to find out more, go to CookCountyCemetery.com. And coming up next, another one of those unexpected DNA results, when we return on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 236
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Mike and Logan Loffland
Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show. It’s Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. You know the discoveries through DNA are pretty much endless and there should be some little marker and little bigger type that says unexpected results may happen because they happen all the time, right? People discover their parents weren’t their parents or they’re able to actually find perhaps that they had a child that they didn’t know about, or the grandpa wasn’t the grandpa. And this story came to me via one of our genis, a regular listener Mike Loffland. He’s in Oklahoma. How are you Mike?
Mike: I’m doing well.
Fisher: First of all, how long have you been a geni?
Mike: Probably about ten years.
Fisher: That’s awesome and let’s go through your story too because you had a girlfriend back what, in the 80s?
Mike: Um, mid 90s.
Fisher: Mid 90s. All right, fill us in on the story here.
Mike: Okay, well I guess it was probably ’95. Her name was Melissa. We were dating for a while and we just kind of called it off and went our separate ways. Some time had passed and we started talking to each other again and found out she was pregnant. But she had told me it was not mine. So, eventually we got married and we just had our life and I raised Logan as my own and the three of us together as a family. That was it, we kind of had our little family there for a while and eventually, 2003 Melissa came down with cancer and she eventually passed away from cancer in 2003 on December 31, New Year’s Eve. So that’s kind of the back story to this whole story.
Fisher: Now, you went and took your stepson Logan, right to see a psychologist to break this news to him? How old was he at this time?
Mike: Yeah, it wasn’t really a psychologist. I was going to O.U. the local university here at the time and there was a counsellor there. I went and talked to the counsellor there and said, “Hey, look we have this situation where I have a son but I’m not the biological father and we’re afraid. We don’t want it to be one of those stories where he grows up and he’s 30 and finds out that, you know his parents weren’t really his parents and he’s devastated. So, she had suggested that we kind of explain the situation to him and allow him to ask the questions.
Mike: Just so that he could take ownership of the conversation. So we took the counsellor’s advice and explained the story to him and he kind of.... [Laughs] do you even remember this, Logan?
Mike: But he was four at the time and he didn’t really ask any questions so we just kind of let it go and everything is fine, no big events or his concerns about who’s my real dad or anything like that. It never really came up.
Fisher: Sure. Well, because Logan, you’ve known this pretty much your whole life, right? It never crossed your mind.
Logan: I think there was maybe one I had time teen angst and I told him, “You’re not even my real dad!”
Fisher: Oh yeah. [Laughs]
Logan: That was like only one time that ever happened.
Fisher: So Mike, then you’ve been into genealogy all this time. You went on with your life obviously after Melissa passed.
Fisher: And you’ve obviously done a lot of research over the years and now DNA comes along.
Mike: Yep. Yep. So I took a DNA test just purely to see what kind of matches I would get. So I took the DNA test, my mom and my dad, you know that way I could get my paternal line and my maternal line and isolate them and yada, yada, yada. So, I did for myself about a year ago and I bought about four or five kits and the intention was that I was going to give them to three my brothers. Two of my brothers shot it down they didn’t want to take it. And I was like, all right whatever. One of my brothers did. So I had all these leftover DNA kits and I was like, well I’m going to offer them to the kids and see if they want to take them, so all the kids took the DNA tests. So my stepdaughter took it. I have another son named Jackson, he took it and then Logan took it. So we spit in the tubes, shipped it off and waited on the results.
Fisher: And the results came in, and what a lovely surprise.
Mike: Right. I was actually on my way to work. I was in my car and was at a red light and looked down at my phone I had got an email, it said your results are in. I clicked it and it was Logan’s, so I clicked the little explore your DNA link but it wasn’t loading. So the light turned green and I put my phone down and then all of a sudden it loaded and it showed, here’s your DNA matches and I saw my little picture in his DNA match list and I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me!
Mike: I just got on the highway and I was like, okay I’m going to pull over to the side of the highway because this is crazy.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s really good wisdom, Mike. That’s nuts. [Laughs]
Mike: Yeah. So, I was like, okay I can wait ten seconds and take the exit. I took the exit and got to a parking lot and checked and sure enough there it was. I was like, wait a minute, Jackson’s results had actually come in a week previous.
Mike: So I was like, maybe I’m looking at Jack’s profile.
Fisher: This is the wrong account.
Mike: Yeah. No, it said Logan Loffland. I refreshed and checked it, I went and looked at his results, my other brother that was in there showing as the relation to him and I was like, all these people were matching to him, that were the Lofflands.
Mike: I checked it like 20 different times before I called Logan. It was in the morning on the way to work and I’m actually surprised that Logan even answered the phone, but he did. He was a little audibly irritated because it was so early. So I told him, you’re not going to believe this. I just got your DNA results and I’m your dad. I’m your real biological dad.
Mike: And he kind of goes, “Okay.”
Fisher: [Laughs] Now, let’s talk to Logan about this. Logan, he wakes you out of your sleep to tell you this. What did that do to your head that morning?
Logan: Well, I’d already seen the results by then, like the day before.
Fisher: Ohh! And you didn’t tell him?
Mike: Why didn’t you call me?
Logan: Because I had assumed you were doing it on yourself.
Mike: Now here’s the little....
Logan: I didn’t know, sorry.
Logan: Gosh, I had no clue how the website works. I’ve never really been in your genealogy den that you’ve got there. So I just kind of assumed oh it must be because he’s in control of my controller.
Fisher: Right. He was the administrator.
Logan: Yeah. So, I just assumed that and I went on. I work night shifts and he called me probably around 8 am. [Laughs]
Logan: So it wasn’t really fully processing the first time we talked about it.
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s incredible. And so when he finally did chat with you about it, how did you feel about it?
Logan: I’m not quite as excited as he is because he’s my dad. He’s always been my dad but it is still pretty incredible.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. You know, there’s something about blood that brings people a little closer sometimes and I’m sure you don’t feel quite like the “red headed stepchild” anymore.
Logan: [Laughs] Yeah.
Fisher: Well, Mike and Logan, congratulations. It’s a boy!
Fisher: Do you have any recommendations for people taking their DNA test?
Mike: Well, at this point, be prepared for surprises.
Mike: But I will say, I did not expect any surprises and I guess that’s why they call them “surprises.”
Fisher: That’s why they call them surprises, Mike! [Laughs]
Mike: Yeah. [Laughs] You know, I will say one other thing. I’ve been going through pictures recently as well. So there’s all kinds of cool things about this that has materialized. I always think, whoa, what if Melissa and I had no gotten back together, if I wouldn’t have gotten back together with her?
Mike: I might not have even known this or I might have not been able to experience Logan in his entire lifetime.
Fisher: That’s right.
Mike: Maybe I find out when he’s 25 or something.
Fisher: Sure, yeah.
Mike: I’ve got all these great pictures of Logan with his real great grandparents because he was around.
Fisher: That’s fantastic.
Mike: Yeah, it’s so incredible and the rest of our family and friends, everybody has always treated him as if he was one of their nephews, nieces, grandkids, it’s all been so great. So it’s kind of a happy bi-product of just having all these great pictures with people that are gone, it’s very great.
Fisher: It’s so incredible. Thanks so much guys, for sharing your story.
Mike: You’re welcome.
Fisher: And Logan, you’re going to understand this a little more as you get older I think, that this is kind of a big deal.
Fisher: Trust me, trust me on that. Hey, thanks guys so much for sharing your story!
Logan: Yeah, no problem.
Mike: Happy to do it.
Fisher: Okay, so maybe the DNA companies don’t give you a big enough warning but that should be one right there. Sometimes you get the unexpected when you do your DNA testing. All right, coming up next we talk preservation. Tom Perry is back from TMCPlace.com, answering your questions at Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 236
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And welcome back, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes. And it’s time to talk preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Tom's on the road again. How are you, Tom?
Tom: I'm super duper! Loving this weather in Mexico.
Fisher: In Mexico! Very nice! All right, we have an email here from Shirley Long, she's in Virginia and she says, "I have many reels of tapes from both my mother and my father and I'd like to copy off those segments which pertain to family members that I know." She says, "So I'm writing you to ask if this is something I could do myself. The tapes have already been waiting around twenty years. I don't even know what condition they are in. Shirley Long."
Tom: Well Shirley, that's a very big and involved question. Let me start at the very beginning. If this was my best suggestion. I would say, no you can't do this yourself. Physically, you can, but it’s something that's very time consuming. If it’s not just done right, you're not going to have really good content. And like I've said on the show over and over again, it depends what your end use is. If you just want to get these clips down and dirty, it doesn't matter the good quality of them, you're not worried about that, you just somehow want it preserved, then yeah, you can go to, you know, a local store and get a product you can hook up to your camcorder to plug into your computer and just transfer the pieces you want. However, you're going to have problems with speed on your computer, you're going to have problems with lag, you're going to have problems with getting stuff in your video, artifacts, different things like that. So there's going to be a whole bunch of soup so to speak mixed in with your video, which does not look good.
Tom: But if you don't care about that and that's okay, then knock yourself out, go that way. If you want something that looks better, your next step is, unfortunately it’s what you don't want, but this is the most economical way to do it. Find a place, whether you ship them to us or find somebody in your area or use one of the home video studio places, you can take your video and put it on a DVD. That's going to be the most economical way to do it. Then take your DVDs and put them in Wondershare, which we talk about all the time and go in and edit them there, turn them into whatever kind of format you want, whether you want to play them on an iPhone, if you want them just at the cloud, it gives you so many different options. If you want something a little bit simpler, you can always go to iMovie, Final Cuts Pro for Mac users. You can go into things like Power Director. You can go into different programs that are made for windows that you can edit it also.
Fisher: Yeah, but I've got to tell you, you know, I just used Wondershare the other day, and I'm not a master video editor by any means, but that thing is really pretty easy. And with just a little bit of effort and even just playing around with it, you can figure it out. And Wondershare is so wonderfully cheap as well. And so it’s nice, because you can clip ends off of videos. We did something where I actually staged a little event and I got to the end of it and they didn't turn the camera off in time, so I was able to clip that very easily. But it’s really nice to go into a lengthy bit of video and just take out clips, so that you have them separately. For instance, if you had a VHS tape from back in the 90s and you have a series of different clips, you can easily take those out and make them into separate segments and get rid of the junk.
Tom: Oh absolutely. I love Wondershare. It’s one of the ones I was telling people at RootsTech. This is a must have piece of software, whether you're a Mac user, a PC user, Windows, whatever format you're using, this is a program that you need to have in your quiver. And like you said, it’s not very expensive. And their tech services are beyond anybody I've ever worked with. These guys listen to you. They love what they do. It’s not just a job for them. Just like when Facebook first started out and Apple first started out, they were just totally into helping people and doing all kinds of wonderful things, so I love the program. So you know, if you want to get the stuff of a disk, it’s easier to put the DVD in your computer, go into Wondershare, pick out the pieces you want and go forward. And that's for sure going to be the most economical way to do it. If money's not as bad of a problem as your time, then you want to go to somebody that will turn it into like an MP4 or an AVI or an MOV, so then you just drop it into Wondershare and automatically you start editing. You don't have to do any conversions. And that's a little bit more expensive. The quality's a little bit better, but for 90% of us, the little bit difference in quality isn’t worth doing the AVI and the MOV route and things like that.
Fisher: All right, great answer Tom, and great question, Shirley. Thanks so much for reaching out to us. And we've got another listener question coming up for you next on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 5 Episode 236
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And we're back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show for this week. Tom, we've got another great email here. This is from Hanover, Massachusetts. Alexandria has a question for us. She says, "In the 1980s, my late grandmother had some early 20th century photographs enlarged and the enlargements were returned with negatives, but I believe that when she submitted the photos to them, she didn't have the original negatives." Well, that would make sense, right Tom?
Fisher: "Did photo processing stores make negatives of photos in order to produce enlargements? And if so, I would assume those negatives are not as high resolution as the original photographs she submitted and which I luckily have. And that if I want to make copies, should I high res scan the original photographs and not the 1980s negatives derived from them, correct?"
Tom: Well. [Laughs]
Tom: The thing is, you gave us a lot of information, but there's not enough information.
Tom: Based on what you said, I would assume, which we're not supposed to do, that they are ready made high resolution negatives. So if you've got negatives back, I would assume that they took the photos like they did in the old days and they actually with a special camera photographed the pictures and created a negative from those. And those were usually extremely high resolution.
Fisher: Of course.
Tom: They usually look absolutely wonderful, because they're all done optically. They're not done digitally like they do nowadays. So I would assume his negatives are going to be better than anything that he would get today. Because if you take the photo and put it in a standard photo scanner, even if it’s a really good quality, it’s still not going to be as good as actually shooting it with a camera, which they don't do today, because there's so much more labor involved. It’s so much more cost effective the way we do it digitally now. So I would assume that your negatives are really, really high resolution. If you want to find out, take one of them and blow it up and see what it looks like. Get in there with a jeweler’s loop and look at the pixels and see if it’s really good graduation between the grays and the blacks. And also, are they 35mm negatives? If so, that's probably what happened. If they're larger negatives like 2x2s, 2x4s, 4x4s, 4x8s, any of those sizes, then for sure they're going to be part of the original negatives that were the original photographs were made for, because very rarely would they make that large of negatives off of a photograph, unless they were doing something very, very special.
Tom: And if they are doing something special, I can almost guarantee those are going to be extremely high resolution. And so, just take those negatives, make prints from that and you should be good to go.
Fisher: Well, the question is though, I mean, if you've got the negatives and they are obviously higher than you would be if you say, went up to 6000, 7000 dpi, right?
Fisher: But at the end of the day, you're still going to have to digitize to make an enlargement print if that what the end goal is here.
Tom: Well, possibly. There's still a lot of places across the country that will those off size negatives and actually make prints from them. And if you can find a place that does that, that's a great way to go. It’s probably going to be more expensive, but they'll be the ultimate cream of the cream you can do. It will be wonderful. However, like you mentioned, if you want to do other things with it, you definitely want to get those large negatives and digitize the large negatives, because you're going to have information on a negative than you are on a print. And then once you have those digital things, then you go into Photoshop, all kinds of fun things, colorize them, fix any cracks in them, any problem. But I would definitely do whatever you're going to do from those negatives. But I'm pretty much guessing those are going to be the strong thing you have to start your project with.
Fisher: All right, as always, Tom, great advice. And thanks so much for the question. And if you would like to ask Tom a question, it’s real easy to do, you can email him at [email protected] or you can ask him on his Twitter page @AskTomP. Thanks so much, Tom, we'll talk to you again next week.
Tom: My pleasure.
Fisher: Wow, the time goes by fast when we do this show! Thanks once again to our guests. We've talked about lost cemeteries, surprising DNA results and hopefully some material that can help you as you continue your genealogical journey. Hey, next week by the way, we're going to be taking "poor folks" across the pond and here in the United States and some special records that they left behind, because well, people didn't want to be taking care of poor folks. That's why you might be able to find them, just because of what their financial status was at that time. Hey, don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!