Episode 280 - Extreme Genes Tip Leads To Family History Treasure/ New Feature: “Ask Us Anything”

podcast episode Apr 28, 2019

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David talks about the beginning of the celebration of the Mayflower400. Hear what is happening. Then, DNA has brought another World War II soldier home. Find out the background of this long lost soldier. Next, it’s a “super centenarian” who is inspiring his great grandson, a junior high schooler, to learn about his family. Ancestry has announced another new feature is on the way. Catch what it is. (You’re going to like it!) Then, it’s another cold case solved by genetic genealogy. Find out what the suspect allegedly did. David then shines his “Blogger Spotlight” on another outstanding genealogical blogger.

Segment two begins with Fisher sharing a remarkable newspaper article he found concerning a relative in 1892. You’ll be surprised what this relative was sentenced to jail for! Fisher then lets you in on his RootsTech visit with Nick Barratt, host of Britain’s version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Hear how Nick got started and some of the highlights of his long tenure on the show.

Fisher then talks via Skype with another Brit, genie John Archer, who took a tip he learned from Extreme Genes and turned it into an incredible family history discovery that friends and family cannot believe.

Then, it’s Fisher’s first edition of “Ask Us Anything.” Using experts from across the family history spectrum, this is where many of your questions can be answered. First up: Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective!

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 280

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 280

Fisher: Hey Genies, how are you? And welcome to another edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this episode is brought to you by BYUtv’s Relative Race, Sunday nights at 9 Eastern, 6 o’clock Pacific time. Hey, we’ve got some great guests lined up today, Nick Barratt from England’s version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Plus, we’re going to be talking to another British fellow, John Archer who made a great find using a technique he learned about on Extreme Genes, and Photo Detective Maureen Taylor answering your questions. Hey, if you haven’t done it yet, make sure that you sign up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter.” It’s easy to do. Just make sure you go to our website ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. We take care of you with a blog each week and links to podcasts present and past and also links to stories as a genealogist you’re going to be interested in. Right now, it is time to head out to Beantown and talk to my good friend David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hi David, how are you?

David: I’m doing great. We have a very interesting thing parked in front of our building these days in Boston.

Fisher: Really?

David: Yeah. I like to call it the “mini” Mayflower or the Boston Mayflower.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Just recently we had the open house for the Mayflower 400, and with the special guest of the Wampanoag nation with singers and dancers, we brought in a ten foot long by eight foot high and four foot wide Mayflower replica.

Fisher: Wow! That’s fun!

David: And it is now camped in front of NEHGS, yeah.

Fisher: Very nice.

David: I need to go down the Charles River.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: You know, I just need a paddle because now I have a boat that is kind of the size of a canoe.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But no, it’s really wonderful and it’s a way to kick off the Mayflower 400. So, people if they come during daylight out as they’ll see it in front of NEHGS. It will be hard to miss.

Fisher: There you go, an easy selfie to take.

David: Very true. That’s what we’re hoping for. Well, we have lots of Family Histoire News, and I know we are always hearing about World War II Veterans being returned home, and another story. This one is from Romania where an MIA for 75 years, Staff Sergeant Carl M. Shaffer, who was 22 was aboard a B-24J bomber, nicknamed it Gallopin’ Gus had crashed into the Tarawa Atoll in the Pacific back in January of ’44. He has now had his remains located and brought home for reburial.

Fisher: And that’s all through DNA. Isn’t that amazing?

David: It’s all DNA.

Fisher: And you think 75 years later they’re still bringing guys home. And there are so many of them, tens of thousands. But they saying maybe a third of them could still be identified through DNA.

David: I think of the children of these Veterans, you know, they’re in their 80s, dad went off to war and never came home again, so it’s closure for a lot of them. I remember when we started doing these stories, they were still widows that was starting to have their husbands brought back home. It’s amazing.

Fisher: That’s right.

David: Speaking of relatives, how wonderful would it be for you and I to sit down with our great grandfather and if they lived long enough. My great grandfather died in 1921 for instance, so he died almost 50 years before I was born.

Fisher: Mine died in 1893! [Laughs]

David: Oh! Well, H.G. Wells has a great little story called The Time Machine. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, no kidding.

David: Well, out in Bakersfield, California, there is a 110-year old they call the supercentenarian, Modesto Lopez Bautista, who just recently celebrated his 110th birthday. He was born in Mexico. His great grandson is honouring his ancestor by interviewing him and getting genealogical stories. What a great time machine that Modesto can talk about his grandparents for instance. They were probably born well into the time of the Mexican Revolution with America.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s insane.

David: It’s amazing.

Fisher: And this kid’s in eighth grade. He’s a middle schooler and he’s writing family history for school reports and wants to go back to Mexico and gather more stories on the family.

David: It’s great. And I’ll tell you, I hope he lives to 100 years old so he can pass on the stories to his great grandchildren.

Fisher: Yeah, and the link by the way to this story is at ExtremeGenes.com.

David: Well, you know, lots of people use Ancestry DNA and Ancestry in general, and I’ve just heard that Ancestry is going on a new messaging center in the coming weeks. So for instance, if you sent out a note to a DNA match or somebody you think might match you on their family tree online, you may never know if it’s ever going to be read. Now, with the new messaging, you actually know when it was read and you can also tell when the person’s online so you can chat with them.

Fisher: Oh wow! Kind of like Facebook. That’s very cool.

David: Um hmm. It’s very cool.

Fisher: That could hopefully help improve some of the response from some of the messaging.

David: Absolutely. So, thank you Christa Cowen and the rest of the team with Ancestry on the record who let me know the inside scoop on that. That was great. Well, you know the Golden State Killer was just one of many of these DNA solved cold cases. A new one has come up from a coffee cup which has now led to the arrest from a murder in 1972.

Fisher: Wow!

David: The police have arrested a gentleman out in Washington State on charges of first degree premeditated murder of a young lady that was found near his home, but now the DNA suggests that he is the alleged killer.

Fisher: Isn’t that amazing?

David: More to follow up on that.

Fisher: Yeah, it happens. And it’s starting to become something we see very routinely now.

David: It is. And you know, it’s giving closure for families. I mean, it’s a little different than World War II Veterans being returned home, but I mean, I figure the family’s waited forty six years to figure out who killed their daughter. Well, on a happier note, this week the blogger spotlight shines on Tammy Mullen who wrote the book on the World War I Veterans from Palmer, New York. She’s done over 99 sketches that tell the story, detailed documents, but she’s also put it as a blog. And her blog is withourboys.wordpress.com and her mission for doing this book is everyone has a story that just needs to be told. So, before the Armistice Centennial last November, she and her husband decided to put together a book With Our Boys: Honor Roll. So, Tammy and Kyle, hats off to you and check out her blog, it’s about the project and it’s a really great way of looking for anybody who wants to tell the story of the Veterans and their community and I suggest that anyone pick up that same idea and write a book for your town.

Fisher: Exactly, yeah.

David: Well, if you are not a member of American Ancestors, you can use the check out code “Extreme” and save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right David. As always, great to talk to you. Thanks so much, and we’ll talk to you again next week.

David: All right.

Fisher: And coming up next I’m going to talk to Nick Barratt. He’s the host of “Who Do You Think You Are?” in Great Britain and he also makes appearances on Australia’s version of the show. We’re going to get his story, where he thinks family history is going. There’s so much to cover. It’s all coming up for you next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 2 Episode 280

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Nick Barratt

Fisher: Hey, we’re back. It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and before we get to my visit with Nick Barratt, I’ve got to share this story with you I just found on one of our relatives, one of those lines where you just bring down all of the descendents and you see what you can find. And, an old digitized newspaper revealed this interesting story from 1892 in New York. “George T. Mercer, age 21, formerly a harmonican player, well-known upon the variety stage was arraigned yesterday in the general sessions to receive sentence under a conviction of betraying Miss Maggie Cannon of 319 East 100 Street, under a promise of marriage. Mercer married Miss Sarah Elizabeth McCord [who is one of my relatives] with whom he eloped. He is plain-looking and undersized. His council asked Judge Martine for clemency and Mercer wept while his lawyer was talking. The Judge said, ‘If I should so far forget my official duty as to show clemency to such a scoundrely wrecker of women’s lives as you are, I feel that I could never look a worthy woman in the face again. I sentence you to state prison for 4 years and 10 months, and fine you $100.’” Different times! [Laughs] All right, on to my visit with Nick Barratt at RootsTech.

Fisher: One of the things about RootsTech I’ve always loved is, you meet people and instantly have a relationship here because we’re all into family history and discovering history and connecting our families. So, this is my new friend, Nick Barratt from Great Britain. For 16 years he’s been a host and a researcher on Who Do You Think You Are? And Nick, how did you get started in that?

Nick: Oh, it was pure coincidence. I’m a historian. I love telling stories, and I’ve worked in the media for a few years before the show came along. And, I was just literally looking around for something else to do. Some of the folk from the previous show I was working on moved to the production company. I was developing the idea with the BBC, one of those perfect coincidences that came together, but I never thought it would lead to this sort of global explosion of the program coming not just in the UK, but to Ireland, Australia, here in the States. It’s been fantastic. An incredible journey, as they say.

Fisher: So you’ve travelled the world and you’ve been connected with the Australian version of the show as well?

Nick: Yeah. Exciting news, they’ve just been commissioned for an 11th season.

Fisher: Wow!

Nick: So I get to do a bit of on-screen stuff with folk that I just find incredible, so yeah, it’s a privilege.

Fish: Yeah, it really is.

Nick: It’s a real pleasure and a privilege to be involved in these shows.

Fisher: Now, you were telling me earlier that you had an incident where the BBC they said nobody’s going to be interested in family history anymore when you had that show, and they cancelled it.

Nick: [Laughs]

Fisher: And this is just before DNA came along and changed everything.

Nick: Yeah, this was a radio show we were doing called Tracing Your Roots, and it was a lovely way to explore other people’s family histories, as you know, Who Do You Think You Are? is about the celebrity roots. And, this was stories that you’d probably find sitting around at the coffee tables at RootsTech, so we explored their stories. It was wonderful. But yeah, they stopped it because they thought, “No one’s interested anymore. They want the celebs only.” And of course, DNA has now changed the way we look at our backgrounds. We explored a little bit on the show but no one thought it would take off. “What do they know?”

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, what do they know? So, tell me about some of the celebrities that you’ve worked on and some of their reactions, the ones that have touched you the most, that you’ve worked on.

Nick: For me, I suppose the most telling moment that we were on to something big was the very first person that was screened back in 2004. A chap called Bill Oddie. He’d had a career in TV and broadcasting, as a comedian, and then an ornithologist, so he was passionate about wildlife, and he wasn’t the most obvious choice for high-profile celebrities. Sorry Bill, don’t mean to say that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nick: But, it’s just one of those things. And, we wanted to tell the story of social history using his ancestors, I suppose as points of reference, and it was only when we were talking to him about his motivation for doing the show that we realized there was something far more powerful under the surface. He’d had a very difficult upbringing. He didn’t know his mom, she’d had various mental health problems throughout his childhood growing up, and that was his motivation. He’d wanted to find out what had happened, and in the course of the research we found the dark secrets, that he had an older sister but she’d died only five days old, that had been covered up by the family.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Nick: And that tragic loss had triggered some of these moments for his mom. Depression, trauma, stress, but it was misdiagnosed and so she was placed into an asylum and given, in the 1950s, contemporary treatment, electric shock therapy that made her worse. Now for Bill, this was a revelation.

Fisher: Yeah.

Nick: And for us.

Fisher: At least he understood and maybe could forgive her a little bit.  And what she was and what he lost.

Nick: That was a cathartic moment for him, but it also made him reflect on his own battles with depression, and suddenly everything clicked, it was that seismic change in his world view by just going back one generation. Now, we made the show but it changed the way we thought about our celebrities. It wasn’t us imposing a narrative on them, it was them telling us what motivated them and the reactions were far more emotional, raw, powerful, but also it brought in larger audiences, because people could connect with those eureka moments.

Fisher: Sure.

Nick: But at a level that wasn’t kings and queens, but just humble, ordinary, everyday folk. That’s the power of what we do.

Fisher: And that’s the thing about celebrities, we all feel like we know them.

Nick: Yeah.

Fisher: So to see one of them come on your show and have these incredible revelations, then it starts to connect. “Well, maybe I can do the same thing!”

Nick: I think it strips away the veneer of celebrity.

Fisher: Yeah.

Nick: Some folks that you happen to see, happen, and that is the magic of the show. The ones that haven’t worked as well have been the thespians who think that they’re meant to “emote at this time,” because this is where I get sad.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nick: And I see they haven’t quite bought into what we’re trying to do with this.

Fisher: [Laughs] “This is where I get sad.”

Nick: Just be normal. Just be yourself. So yeah, it’s those raw, emotional responses, and again, that seems to have really touched a nerve. I’ve never quite understood it. I’ve always researched other people’s.

Fisher: Yeah.

Nick: Until last fall, when a document dropped out of a clear blue sky about my grandmother who we thought was a typical brick wall, illegitimate, no living relatives, no documentation, and suddenly we found her birth certificate that showed that she was born in Belgium, to an American father.

Fisher: Oh, wow!

Nick: And the person that she had thought was her godmother was actually her biological mother, and so there were the elements of, “Wow, we’ve got an incredible story!” tinged with sadness that we couldn’t tell her. It really got me in a way that nothing had affected me before.

Fisher: Wow.

Nick: Because it was personal.

Fisher: Because it wasn’t yours before, but now it was.

Nick: Yeah. You can just walk away from that research because it’s someone else’s story, but now you own that revelation, so you get that sense of what it means to other people.

Fisher: It’s very personal, isn’t it? You know, it’s amazing, we can all come together, but we all have very unique stories.

Nick: Yeah, but it’s the stories that make life interesting.

Fisher: It is.

Nick: You obviously need to be the connectivity in terms of family trees and DNA, but actually that doesn’t tell you the story of someone’s life, and that’s what I love, that’s the historian in me. I love telling stories and sharing stories, some to greater degrees than others but it is just that passing on of an interesting story, that’s where we connect at a very fundamental level.

Fisher: And so you’re still loving it after all these years, aren’t you? I can still see it in your eyes.

Nick: I’ve got the glints.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Nick: But it’s a detective process.

Fisher: Yeah.

Nick: Every single research trail is different. You get the general stuff, certification, certificates, census.

Fisher: Totally

Nick: But it’s where it leads you.

Fisher: And it’s the same thing with DNA. We think that DNA revelations are all kind of the same. Well, the adoptee finds his parents. No, no, no, there’s a lot more behind these things. It’s what happened to them, why did they not stay together, or how did somebody get given up. I mean, everybody’s is unique, and I’m always amazed by the variety of stories that come out of the same thing.

Nick: Yeah. It’s a tool. It’s not the end, it’s the means to an end.

Fisher: That’s it.

Nick: And with all those certificates. No one fell in love with genealogy because they got a certificate through the post. They fell in love with what it told them, just like the DNA results. I’m waiting on a couple with this mysterious grandmother.

Fisher: Sure.

Nick: And I’m on tenterhooks.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nick: And I know I’ve got to get up with a lot of the interpretation, but it will take me to a whole new series of connections that I want to make.

Fisher: Now, you’re going to be a keynote speaker at the premier RootsTech London coming up this fall.

Nick: It’s so exciting. In October, RootsTech is coming to Europe. We’re so honored that London has been chosen as the venue, and I can’t wait to see the British audiences respond to the RootsTech phenomenon. It is just so amazing and awesome spending time here, because it’s this mash-up of high-tech and DNA with real education. That’s the difference with many of the genealogy shows in the UK. It’s about speakers, and it is about the celebrity story, but the education here is so strong, you learn so much, not just from the sessions but from talking to folk in the room.

Fisher: That’s right.

Nick: So I can’t wait for all of that to then descend upon London in October and wow the nation.

Fisher: I’m sure you will, because I’m sure you’ve got a lot to talk about.

Nick: Well, yeah. I think they already ran out of slots. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] So Nick, how are you feeling about being the keynote speaker?

Nick: Well, I love talking to people, so excited, but a little nervous because of the honor and the pressure to get this right.

Fisher: Are you one of these TV people, you know, you can be on camera in a room with just your people, but suddenly you’ve got all these living, breathing folks in front of you, changes the dynamic a little bit?

Nick: It does a bit. It’s a weird one, because when you’re doing TV, you can go, actually no, I got that wrong. Re-take. Live TV is a bit different, obviously, but you have that safety net. When you’re out there in front of an audience of hundreds or thousands, you want to get it right. You need to take all of those performance skills and present, so I hate talking with slides.

Fisher: Right. I’m with you.

Nick: Why write stuff on the screen. You don’t need it there, you can read it. I want to talk, I want to explain, I want to emote and pass on the passion that I feel, while still being relevant. So, TED talks are a really great way of practicing.

Fisher: Right.

Nick: You’ve got a finite time. You’ve got to get the information across in an engaging way. I’ve done some of those and they’re great fun. So in that sense I don’t mind it too much.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Nick: But I do feel very privileged to be the keynote, and therefore that comes with a certain responsibility with its own sorts of pressures.

Fisher: Well, it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m sure that you’ve got so many followers in Great Britain that are going to be thrilled to see you speak there.

Nick: Yes, well that’s always great fun doing it on home soil, but what I want to do most of all is try and encourage as many lovely folk here to come over. I’m sure many will have British roots.

Fisher: Yes.

Nick: So it’s more than just coming to the expo and the show and learning about what you can do in terms of British research techniques. Spend some time, travel the country, stand in that graveyard where the ancestor’s buried, visit the factory where they worked. That’s the experience, that empathy, that connection that makes it far more than just a document or a story. It brings it to a life in a really visceral way, so come on over to London and experience that in person. That’s the thrill, that’s the excitement.

Fisher: There you go, fascinating visit at RootsTech with Nick Barratt, the host of Who Do You Think You Are? In Great Britain. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to another Brit. He’s a regular listener of Extreme Genes. Took one of our tips and made an amazing find, and you’re going to love what he has to tell you, coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 280

Scott: Scott Fisher with guest John Archer

Fisher: You have found us! It is Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. You know, over the years we’ve talked about interesting little tricks you can use to find different family heirlooms and one of them I’ve talked about is going to eBay and putting in some search terms there, maybe you don’t find anything right away but if you save those terms over time some of these things can come to you. I’ve talked about several of those things that have come to me over the years using this technique and little did I know there was a man in England, Northwest England in the area of Manchester named John Archer who listens to the show and he recently had great success with this. John, welcome to Extreme Genes, nice to have you.

John: Thank you, nice to be here.

Fisher: So, what happened?

John: Well, I had this guy on my family tree George Archer. He was the brother of my great grandfather, and that’s all he was really. I knew his wife. I knew his children. And following your advice from your show, I had the keywords “medal” and “Archer” stored in my eBay account. One day George Archer’s medals came to me.

Fisher: You’ve got to be kidding me. Now, from what era are we talking about, medals from what war?

John: So, these were from the First World War. He was killed in the First World War and his medals were posthumously awarded to his wife.

Fisher: Now, you must have been taken back by this. When you it did you really believe what you were seeing? Because I’ve been through that and it’s like, oh come on, really? And then I start going through them and more and more details like yeah, yeah, yeah.

John: [Laughs] No, not at all. The medals were actually awarded to his wife and on the memorial book it said he was the son of Thomas and Mary Archer. Now, his parents were Samuel and Anne, not Thomas and Mary.

Fisher: Okay.

John: So, I initially ignored it but something niggled at me. Something was biting at me saying just hang on.

Fisher: It was “niggling” at you, wow.

John: Yeah, just take it a little bit further and research it. I mean, this guy might be related to me. It might be nice to find his story.

Fisher: Sure.

John: But Thomas and Mary were his wife’s parents because his parents were dead at this point in time.

Fisher: Um hmm.

John: He’s listed his wife’s parents as his next of kin on his war records.

Fisher: That’s kind of odd isn’t it? So, obviously you made the assumption this isn’t your guy but maybe he’s a relative of some sort.

John: Yeah, exactly. But, I followed it through. I had to follow it through and find out a little bit more about him.

Fisher: And what did you discover? What caused this problem?

John: Well, the memorial book said that his wife was Amy which I knew that my George’s wife was Amy. So, I was a little bit suspicious there but she was listed as Amy Copland. It turns out that Amy had remarried after George had died. So, finding the marriage certificate I was able to find out that she was previously Amy Archer, maiden name Heeley. And it turns out it was our guy. It was my George!

Fisher: Wow. So, you were able to obtain these medals. How many medals were involved?

John: It’s the triple medals that most people in the First World War were awarded and they do have nicknames. I’m not hundred percent sure what they are but yes, the star and the two round medals.

Fisher: And what’s his relationship to you exactly?

John: He was my great grandfather’s brother.

Fisher: Wow. And does he have any descendants?

John: He had three daughters, Phyllis who was born in 1907. I can’t find where she went to. I’ve got no trace of her whatsoever. Then, there was Alice Elizabeth. She was born in 1909 but sadly died the same year, literally months before George was killed in France.

Fisher: Ohh.

John: So, obviously he’s got no legacy whatsoever, even from Amy’s follow up marriage. They had a child who died in infancy as well. So, there was just nobody to carry on his story at all.

Fisher: Ha. And you’ve got it now. So, I’m going to ask you because I know people are wondering. How much did you have to pay to obtain this incredible treasure?

John: Well, I hope my wife’s not listening but it was just short of 400 pounds I paid for them.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow. That is a chunk of money!

John: To me, money wasn’t an object.

Fisher: It wasn’t an object.

John: It was more about getting them back into the family.

Fisher: Was there any bidding on it? Did you get into a bidding war with anybody or was it just a straight “buy it?”

John: Yeah, yeah there was somebody else bidding against me and it went up, and up, and up and got to about 350 pound and I just put in a large bid above that at the last minute.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, I’ve got to make sure, absolutely sure. You don’t want to lose that and I’ve been in that situation before. That is remarkable. So, what you done with this treasure?

John: I’ve framed them. I’ve put them on like a green, gauze background and put them in a frame. They’re on the wall now and I’ve shown them off to everybody who comes to see me and all the family has seen them now. I love telling the story.

Fisher: Oh yeah, and I’m sure they’re just as amazed as we all are. I think, even though I’ve done this for some time, every time it happens I’m amazed. I think it’s an incredible thing. And it’s something that anybody can do and you never know when this gift is going to drop out of the sky and into your hands like that. So, you’ve got a lot of attention as a result of this story, yes?

John: Yeah, yeah visiting family I usually take the medals with me and tell the story to whomever I go visit. We’ve got quite a large family and obviously that side of the family are related so they always enjoy the story.

Fisher: So, what can you tell us about this man George Archer and his service in World War I? When did he go into action, when did he get killed, and what was his circumstance?

John: So, he was born in Scarborough in the north of England.

Fisher: Um hmm.

John: And he was listed in the census there all the way up to 1911 and then he disappeared. So, that was the end of his story for me until I found the medals. It turns out he moved to Bradford but he had already enlisted in the army in Scarborough. He was enlisted in the Yorkshire regiment, the fifth battalion and there was shipped off for France to the Battle of the Sun that everybody knows about. He was killed on the 13th of September 1916. And afterwards he was memorialized on the Thiepval Memorial in France, which is the memorial to the unfound bodies, which is quite sad really.

Fisher: Oh yeah, absolutely. Have you found local historical societies that might be interested in displaying it and telling your story?

John: Not yet but I’m probably going to get in touch with them. I’m visiting Scarborough in the next couple of weeks. So, I’m going to go see the museum there and speak to them about it and there’s a civic society there as well and they’re always interested in stories like this.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. So, have you set up any other search terms in eBay?

John: Yeah, I’ve got one for every name in the family.

Fisher: [Laughs] Did you include the location to help narrow it a little bit? Do you get a lot of emails resulting from those that are irrelevant?

John: They’re mostly searching for medals because that’s quite an interest of mine. I like the war side of things, the forces side of things. But, I’ve just got plain search terms and like you said locations, because I’ve got family from all over the UK, Wales, Yorkshire. So, wherever we’re from there’s a search term saved in there.

Fisher: I’ve always thought, is there any place other than eBay you could do that? And I would imagine you could. You could almost do it in reverse were you put an ad out there that says, I’m looking for this, but I don’t know where you’d do it exactly, maybe that’s something somebody could share with us.

John: I guess, one of the real good results is that I use groups on Facebook, history groups, local history groups, DNA groups, and things like that on Facebook are really good for talking to people about exactly this.

Fisher: Um hmm. And have you located anything as a result of those groups?

John: Um, family, yeah. My other side. My mom’s side of the family there’s a group for Hughes, that’s the name and I’ve met many members of that family through that family living worldwide.

Fisher: And you can probably obtain some items from them as well. There are a lot of people who’d say, I don’t need this but you’d love it, so I’m happy to give it to you.

John: Yeah. Photographs as well, that’s a key thing.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s a big thing isn’t it?

John: Lots and lots of photographs.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it has been a delight to talk to you. He’s John Archer. He lives in northwest England, near Manchester and had quite a find on eBay. It’s a great technique to use. Thanks for joining us John, really enjoyed it.

John: Well, thanks very much. It’s my pleasure.

Fisher: And coming up next it’s Maureen Taylor. She is the Photo Detective and she’s going to kick off a brand new feature we’re doing on the show it’s, “Ask Us Anything” and we’re going to cover all kinds of different topics. In her case of course photographs. We’ll be talking preservation, we’ll be talking DNA. Hear what she has to say about some of your most common questions, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 280

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Maureen Taylor

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And we love hearing from our listeners and answering your questions about your research, about your photographs, about your videos, about your preservation whatever it may be. And so, we're beginning a new thing here, an Ask Us Anything segment. A couple of segments at the backend of the show that will include all the different topics we're talking about and all of our various expert friends. And the first one to kick it off today is the photo detective, Maureen Taylor. How are you, Maureen?

Maureen: Hey Scott. I'm great. How're you?

Fisher: Awesome! I'm excited about this and excited to get the questions we're going to be receiving as we progress with this. And by the way, we've setup a special email if you have questions about whatever, its [email protected]. So let's start with some questions, Maureen, that you have typically gotten since we haven't plugged this at all in the past. And we really aren't prepared with any direct questions, but you hear the same stuff over and over and over again. So we'll start with one of these. "Where was this picture taken?" You must get that all the time.

Maureen: All the time. So thank you very much for asking me to be on the show to answer popular questions that are asked of me. And this is one of the most common ones, which is, "Where was my photo taken? Was it taken here in this country or was it taken overseas?" And it’s actually sort of a multi faceted answer. You have to look at the photo and see if there's a backdrop behind the people that are standing there, because the backdrops can actually give you clues as to where the picture was taken. Like sometimes there's a particular building in the background. One of the ones I saw online this week was a picture of a minister and behind him on the backdrop was the church where he preached, which was kind of cool. But also, you have to look at your family history. So, you have to date the photo and then you have to think about where your people were at that time. And that alone might tell you whether it was taken here or whether it was taken there.

Fisher: And this can obviously encompass what they're wearing at a certain point in time also, right, because of the styles.

Maureen: Right. I mean, dating the photo relies on things like, you know, the format of the picture, the particular cardstock that was used, what they're wearing, what the props are, all kinds of things can feature into figuring out when a picture was taken. But once you have that approximate date, then you can look at your family history and do that sort of immigration research. And it may be that the person came from overseas and came here at a particular time, right?

Fisher: Yeah.

Maureen: And this photo fits into that timeframe, because our immigrant ancestors loved to have pictures taken before they left home, but they also took pictures when they arrived and got established. So these are pictures that don't have a photography studio on them or, you know, a place on them. These are like random pictures where you're looking at them and thinking, "What's going on here?"

Fisher: Yeah, '40s, '50s, somewhere in there, of course. Okay, question number two, "Can I take apart my black photo album?"

Maureen: Oh, Scott, is that a popular question! [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, you know what, I mean, I've got these too, and people want to know if they can get behind the pictures to see if something's written on them. And I've certainly found writing on some of them. But it’s not really common, is it?

Maureen: It’s not really common, because our ancestors, when they put these albums together, you have to think about the album as, you can read an album like you read a story. There's a story there. The person who put those albums together didn't do it just helter-skelter. They did it with intent and purpose.

Fisher: A theme.

Maureen: They're telling a story, a theme. They're telling a story of their life, even if it’s just a chronological story. And so, in that early 20th century period where they wrote with white ink under the pictures, that's usually all there is. And if you take those albums apart, you lose the context of the story.

Fisher: Ooh, that's such a painful thought. All right, we're going to take a break, and when we return, we've got two more questions for Ask Us Anything with Maureen Taylor, the photo detective, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 280

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Maureen Taylor

Fisher: We're back at it, its Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show, our final segment for this week, talking to Maureen Taylor, she is the photo detective. And it’s our new segment, Ask Us Anything at ExtremeGenes.com, and it’s going to be covering all kind of different topics, of course Tom Perry talking about preservation and many other experts on all kinds of different things, so be sure to email us at [email protected] to get your questions in. And as we bring in various experts, you may hear your questions on the show. And Maureen, here's one that's very common for you I'm sure, "I have a photo of..." and people think they have celebrity photos often from way in the background. I know that you've been out there, you've actually been on Pawn Stars, trying to authenticate whether a picture was what, from Abraham Lincoln.

Maureen: Yes indeed. This is a very common question, "I have a photo of...." and you fill in the blank. It can be anywhere from western gun slinger to different kinds on celebrities from the 19th century. And the beauty of saying, “I have a photo of”, is that you can image research these people online and find other photographs to compare them to. Now for instance, if you wanted to say that you had a picture of Jesse James for instance and you search online for pictures of Jesse James, you are going to come up with way more than a couple of handfuls. But the question is, are they the same person? Are they all Jesse James?

Fisher: Right.

Maureen: So you have to think about, how do their faces compare and what are the points in the face that compare? But more than that, you have to think about the life of that photo. If you just buy a random image off eBay or in an antique shop what nothing attached to it, there's no back story to it, it’s going to be really hard to prove that that person even if they look just like the famous person is actually that person. Because in order to sell it at auction, they're going to want a little bit more. They're going to want to know where that picture came from. I mean, if you have all the proven odds as we know, and it came down in your family and your family's related to Jesse James, then you know, the odds are a little better.

Fisher: Sure.

Maureen: But there's a lot of people unfortunately who buy images that they think are very famous people and they pay too much money for them and it turns out that they're not actually those famous people.

Fisher: I know you've had some people actually get very upset with you, haven't you over your debunking of their photograph?

Maureen: I have. I have indeed! [Laughs]

Fisher: Kind of an occupational hazard I'm thinking, huh. [Laughs]

Maureen: I like to joke that I've solved many a family argument, but I've caused a few! [Laughs]

Fisher: Caused a few more, absolutely!

Maureen: I've caused a few more!

Fisher: And you know, you've got a lot of things to teach people and I know you've been doing this for some time. Where can people catch up with you? You've got your own podcast!

Maureen: I do, The Photo Detective, it’s on iTunes. And I have my website, MaureenTaylor.com where you can find out about my courses on identifying family photographs or organizing your family pictures. And for all of your listeners that may have heard about my last muster project, the films that we got funding for five years ago are now a reality and are on my website. And anyone can watch them and they can play them for their genealogy groups and their DAR groups and their SAR groups, pretty much a school group, anyone who wants to play them can pretty much play them.

Fisher: Awesome!

Maureen: So for all of you that listen to Extreme Genes, you can save $20 off one of my photo identification courses by entering "extreme" all lower case in the coupon box in your shopping cart.

Fisher: Excellent! That's awesome, Maureen. We really appreciate that. And thanks for answering the questions here. I think it’s a great kickoff to Ask Us Anything. And once again, no matter the topic, whether it’s DNA or record sets or preservation or photography or whatever it may be, we have a special email address setup for this, its [email protected]. Talk to you again soon, Maureen. Thanks so much.

Maureen: Thanks Scott.

Fisher: That is our show for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. If you missed any of it or you want to share it with your friends, it’s easy to find us, we're on iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. And don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Hey, we will talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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