Episode 281: Classic Rewind - The Next Generation: Who Will Want Your Family History Stuff? / New: Ask Us Anything on DNA With Paul Woodbury

podcast episode May 15, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with a big reveal from Fisher about a photo he has sought for 38 years. Next, the guys talk about a DNA result the brought about the breakup of an engaged couple… and not because they are related. Then… anyone want to try to do what the genetic genealogists do in crime fighting? One organization did. Hear who and what they were trying to show. Fisher and David then talk bad news/ good news surrounding the burning of a courthouse in Tennessee.  Next, it’s the story of a woman who is graduating from Georgetown University whose ancestry is well connected to her educational journey. Find out why. David then shines his Blogger Spotlight on Claire Santry of IrishGenealogyNews.com. Claire is passionate in her work and shares a lot of information to help the Irish genealogical researcher.

Fisher then visits with Amy Johnson Crow, a nationally known genealogist, about why we should all have hope that the next generation really will want your papers, photo collections, and stories. It’s an encouraging conversation!

Then, Tammy and Kyle Mullen join Fisher to talk about the project that fell into their laps concerning their New York town’s World War I soldiers. It’s the type of project anyone could take on for their town and on any subject. Find out what they’ve done.

Fisher wraps up the show with another Ask Us Anything conversation (in two parts), this time on DNA. Paul Woodbury, DNA specialist with Legacy Tree Genealogists, handles the queries.

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

Transcript for Episode 281 CLASSIC REWIND

Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 281 Classic Rewind

Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Hey, welcome to the show. Great to have you along! We’ve got some great guests today as always. First of all we’re going to bring you some hope for those people who are “worried” Genealogists. Worried about what’s going to happen to their stuff, all their research, all their papers because millennials just aren’t paying attention. They’re just not interested. There is hope, and we’re going to talk to renowned Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow about what she’s learned about future generations and their interest in genealogical information, coming up in about ten minutes or so. Later in the show, Tammy and Kyle Mullen will be here. They’re from Upstate New York and put together an amazing book for their local area. It gives us a great idea of what any of us could do to honor our Veterans from our hometowns with their book on World War I soldiers, how they did it, what got them interested in it, some of the stories they learned. Great stuff. And then at the backend of the show it’s our “Ask Us Anything” segment on DNA this week. We’re going to talk to Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists and answer some of those commonly asked questions. But right now, let’s head off to Boston and talk to my good friend David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David I’ve got to tell you I had quite the week because I had one of those phone calls.

David: I know!

Fisher: One of those phone calls. Here I am with my wife. It’s the first nice evening of spring on a Saturday night, So, I’m eating dinner at a restaurant with my wife and my son and my daughter-in-law and the phone rings and it’s my half second cousin from Connecticut. He never calls on a Saturday night. We’re good buddies.

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: We’ve been research pals for like 13 years now and he always finds these stuff. And he found the only known photograph, original of my great grandfather, common great grandfather who was a firefighter. And we’d found tiny ones in group pictures before of him in the firefighting gear, but this is the first full size picture and it is absolutely flawless. And it was quite a thrill. And he also found a little piece of ephemera from the volunteer fire department from back in 1885 that was in this box with it that he didn’t even know he had, so it was a pretty cool day.

David: I think that’s genealogical dessert before the actual dessert.

Fisher: Yes!

David: That’s wonderful!

Fisher: I was just about to take my first bite, and then I said, “Hey, before you even scan it, text it to me. I’ve got to see this.” And we’re sitting at an outdoor table and just showing the picture around to everybody, and everybody was just awed. I’ve been looking for a picture like that of this guy for 38 years, so it was a real kick to find that. All right, let’s get started with Family Histoire News today. What do we have David?

David: Well, I want to lead off saying that sometimes a DNA test for an engaged couple may not always turn out really well. This isn’t the case where they actually finding out they’re close cousins. [Laughs] It’s because of his ancestor. Did you see that one?

Fisher: Yeah, this is kind of interesting. This couple did a DNA test and he finds out that he’s direct ancestor was a serial killer. A serial killer!

David: Yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: And so, as a result of this, the girlfriend, the fiancée says, “I’m sorry, I cannot marry you because maybe you have some tendencies of this person.” And she left!

David: He killed the engagement, literally.

Fisher: Yeah, he killed it and he’s dead! He’s been dead for a long time. Yeah, he posted this on social media, the former groom to be. And lots of people are saying, oh well, this girl isn’t worth it because [Laughs] that bothers her then there’s really a fundamental issue anyway.

David: You know, families can break up marriages. Whoever thought a great, great, great something could cause a marriage to end?

Fisher: Right.

David: Go figure.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, this is kind of fun. We know in the news the Golden State Killer has been everywhere lately. However, Buzzfeed’s employees kind of got in on the act, so what happened was one of the employees decided to take DNA from the staff and then run it against GEDmatch and then from there determined which ones they were and did a pretty good job out of this.

Fisher: They did. They assigned one reporter all this DNA and said, “Okay, see if you can figure out who the employees are.” And using everything from ethnicity reports to close matches and digitized newspapers, she figured out who six of the ten were, using GEDmatch. Unbelievable.

David: It really is. We obviously had news recently about Notre Dame, but even now local fires have great implication as well. There may be some good news on this one. This week unfortunately, in Loudon County, Tennessee, a 19th century courthouse has burned and it looks like it’s almost a total loss. But, 80 to 90% of the records Fish, were actually out being catalogued recently by a historian so that they weren’t in the building.

Fisher: Wow! Sweet.

David: And you know it really is. The thing about it is, and I always tip my hat to FamilySearch for the decades of going out to courthouses and doing probates and deeds and guardianship records, whatever they could get their hands on. We really are indebted to the work they did. And now with the digital age something like this, the records might be gone, but because of FamilySearch they’re still existing.

Fisher: That’s right.

David: It really is a great thing. That is a story that’s on ExtremeGenes.com as well as this one, and this is by Elizabeth Thomas, who’s going to Georgetown University. Unlike a lot of the graduates, she has a connection with Georgetown. No, her dad wasn’t a professor. Her ancestors were enslaved people owned by the university and sold.

Fisher: Yeah, and so this is part of a program Georgetown has put together to help make up for what they did institutionally back in the 1850s. So, she’s going to be graduating soon.

David: Well, my blogger spotlight this week shines on Claire Santry. Claire is a blogger who runs Irishgenealogynews.com. And this very active blog touches upon all sorts of things in your Irish genealogical spectrum of interest, including the recent news about 13,300 early Irish births, marriages and deaths that have been added online, so take a peek at her blog and give it some love. So, I’m going to wrap off before I fly off to Alaska to lecture up in Anchorage, Alaska this weekend. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow!

David: Yeah, I’m going from Virginia warm to Alaska chilly.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But I want to say, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors, you can go to our website and save $20 on membership by using the coupon code “Extreme.”

Fisher: All right David.

David: Catch you soon my friend.

Fisher: All right, you too.

David: Hope you get some more phone calls during dinner.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, I would like that anytime.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: All right, and coming up next, Amy Johnson Crow talking about why we shouldn’t give up on millennials and other younger generations when it comes to passing down our information. It’s on the way in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 281 Classic Rewind

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Amy Johnson Crow

Fisher: You know, I think a lot of us genies worry about what’s going to happen in the future. You know we spend so much time researching our family and trying to find photographs and save videos and write histories, but who’s going to want this stuff? What’s going to happen to it? Is it going to be thrown out in the trash bin? Hey, it’s Fisher. It’s your host here for Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And I am excited to bring to you Amy Johnson Crow, my good friend who says to us we really shouldn’t worry too much about it. How are you Amy? Welcome back to Extreme Genes.

Amy: Well hey Scott, thanks for having me back.

Fisher: You know, I’m glad that we have you on because I think we all need a little reassurance about this because since I started in my 20s doing this, I’ve heard my whole life about whose going to be interested, whose going to want this, I became that person but I didn’t become that person until my late 20s. What do you have to say about millennials now and how they deal with family history?

Amy: You know, one thing that I think that we need to consider first is who are the millennials? Because I think that sometimes we’re grouping who’s under the age of say, 50, we’re kind of grouping them all together as millennials, and we see high-schoolers and what not. But really, the youngest millennials are like 19.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Amy: So, when you’re seeing junior-high kids and high-school kids running around, they aren’t the millennials.

Fisher: They don’t qualify.

Amy: They don’t qualify. And I’ve seen various names given for this most recent generation, but the millennials are generally, let’s say 19/20years old all the way up to the 30s.

Fisher: Yes.

Amy: So these are young adults. They are currently getting married, they are starting families, they are pursuing their careers, and it’s a really busy time of life for them. It’s a really busy season of life for them.

Fisher: You know, I think this is really the case where we speak to anybody about you know, learning genealogy, it’s making the time, and in many cases, the reasons why it’s older people who are in the family history. It’s because they have the time.

Amy: And I think that one thing that we need to think about when we’re trying to find that younger person in the family who is interested if we’re showing this as an activity that you have to spend a lot of time on, they simply don’t have the time. It’s not that they don’t care. You know, I was talking to my daughter about this and my daughter is solemnly a millennial, and I was talking to her about it and she said, “Mom, when I talk to my friends who are also millennials, they are interested in the stories. They love that connection. But they just don’t have the time right now to be actively going out and researching, generally speaking.”

Fisher: Well let’s see, they’ve got school, they’ve got dating, they’ve got maybe early marriage, they’ve got young children, and they have careers. I’m sure they’ve got plenty of time to go out and do all this, right? [Laughs]

Amy: [Laughs] Exactly.

Fisher: And you know, I often explain to people the reason I got into it so young was because I was doing morning radio at that time. And so my work day was over by 11:00 in the morning. And I was near an archive, near a library, and so it made it really easy for me to do it at that time. Even when I had kids in school, they were at school in the middle of the day so I could get started on this and this is what made it spring so easily for me at that age.

Amy: You know, I think that that’s a pretty A-typical situation where your work day is done so early in the morning and you happen to be near an archive and a library.

Fisher: Yeah. I mean, it just worked out that way. It was perfect.

Amy: I think what we need to do for wanting to find that next person whose going to pick up the mantel as the family historian is, instead of saying “Hey, here’s my four-door filing cabinet full of all of my notes, because that sounds exciting.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Amy: I think we need to have a slightly more appealing approach to it. Say, “Hey, here’s a photo album that I’ve put together. And here are the stories of these people who are your ancestors.” Rather than saying, “Hey, here are these 14 three ring binders that I’ve put together and all of these notes.” That’s just not that appealing.

Fisher: No. You know, the good news is though we digitize all these things and put them into little folders online and just store them there. And then we share them either using Goole drive, or Dropbox, or something similar. All that stuff is preserved. I think it’s a lot more of the language of their generation, for one thing. So, if they do get into actually researching some of the details and the underlying documents behind some of these stories, those things are still there. They still survive. It is the documentation of all the work that you’ve done in your lifetime. And that stuff doesn’t have to wind up in the trash because it’s not taking up any room.

Amy: Exactly. And I think to this if we do have those 3D objects that we want to share, for example, I have a mirror that belonged to my maternal grandmother. It’s one of the very few objects of hers that I have. But if I just have this mirror and I don’t tell my son and my daughter this is whose mirror it was, here’s why it’s special and here’s what it means to me. If we don’t tell them the story behind it, well, when my time comes, they’re probably going to chuck this mirror because it doesn’t fit their decor.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Amy: But if we can tell why it’s important, then I think it stands a much better chance of making it on to the next generation.

Fisher: You know, I kind of realized that not long ago and started creating a digital book on our heirlooms with a photo of what it is and the story of what it is, so that it’s almost like a manual when that time comes. One of the things we found recently was an old silver coffee pot. I mean junk falling apart. And I found a note my mother had left back in the 80s that said, “Silver coffee pot was my grandparents’ wedding gift in 1881.” And it’s like oh, suddenly this thing is really awesome. But that little note isn’t necessarily going to survive another 20, 30, 40 years. So, I took a picture of the pot, put the story of it right there among all these others, and kind of laid it out kind of fun. And now I have them packed up all these things in a tub where they’re kind of all together and marked as “Heirlooms”. But with the stories preserved to go with them, I think they have a much better chance of getting passed on to future generations.

Amy: Yeah. I agree totally. And I love what you said about, you know, putting it in a format that’s going to be a little more fun and a little more enjoyable. Rather than just here it is just plain black and white.

Fisher: It’s not a college dissertation, right?

Amy: Right. Definitely.

Fisher: And that’s really the challenge. You know, I think that we’re all concerned about who that person is going to be. One thought is it’s not always necessarily going to be your child or your grandchild. It might be a nephew or a niece, or even a cousin’s child who picks up the mantel. And that was the case for me on one of the branches of the family. My mother had a first cousin who was very into it, and all her stuff she sent to me before she passed away because she knew I was that person. She said, “Who else would want this?” And so, I’m just thinking, these people will appear and maybe if you’re seeing the younger generation right now saying they don’t care, maybe they don’t care now, but it doesn’t mean they won’t care later.

Amy: I think you’re exactly right. I think that as people go further into their life, there tends to be these triggers, these milestone events that get people thinking, “Oh, what came before? And, what can I do to discover it? What can I do to help pass it down?” And maybe that’s a birth of a child, maybe it’s sadly the loss of a parent, and until you have some of these more milestone events in your life, you might not have that trigger of going from being interested to being involved.

Fisher: I think what you have to do though is bridge that gap right, between the time you may be passing this stuff along till the time they actually pick up an interest. You have to make sure that they understand that this is not something to be thrown away, or that this is something to be preserved elsewhere, maybe even in an archive, right, for somebody to come along later and find.

Amy: Right. Let’s say that you are in a situation where you truly have not identified anybody in the family who wants to actually take your research. Well, then that’s when you start approaching libraries, archives, genealogy societies, and working with them to see what they might be interested in, what format it needs to be in, and what you can do to work together to preserve your research after you’re gone.

Fisher: Yeah. And NEHGS is well known for this. They take old family bible records and they preserve the originals right there for people in that part of the country. Well actually, for any part of the country because they cover all of the United States. That would be an option. Plus local and regional archives, universities are a great place to go as well. I think you’d agree Amy?

Amy: I would agree. And I think that the key for any sort of archive society library that you might be thinking is a good fit for your collection is to start working with them sooner rather than later. Don’t just have something in a will saying oh, “all of my papers will go to x and so society, or x and so archives” because it might not fit their collection, it might not be in a format that they can really accept, so if you spend just a little bit of time talking with them and working with them, you can usually get something figured out of exactly what you need to do to get that collection moved on to them.

Fisher: And you know, I’ve got a granddaughter who will turn seven in June and she’s already deep in the weeds. And she lives in Florida so what I do is, once in a while I’ll find a new picture you know, a new old picture, and I’ll drop it in an envelope because kids love getting mail.

Amy: They do.

Fisher: I mean real old-fashioned mail. So, I’ll just drop a little note maybe on a three by five card and say, “As my family history helper, I found this new picture. Would you take care of it?” And I’ll stick it in the envelope and tell them who it is and they get so excited. Amy, great chatting with you. It’s nice to have a little hope that you know, we’re not alone. I think our parents thought the same of us that we wouldn’t care about this at some point. But we do.

Amy: We do.

Fisher: And the next generation will as well. She is Amy Johnson Crow. Follow her at AmyJohnsonCrow.com. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Tammy and Kyle Mullen about their incredible research into World War I Vets in their hometown and how you can do a similar type of project for any topic, in five minutes on Extreme Genes.  

Segment 3 Episode 281 Classic Rewind

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tammy and Kyle Mullen

Fisher: Back at it Genies! It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. Always excited to meet new people who are engaged in amazing projects that just further the cause so that people can find out about their ancestors and honor those who came before us and especially our military people. One person who has done this, actually a couple who have done this as a couple, Tammy and Kyle Mullen, they’re in Parma, New York near Rochester. They’re on the line with me right now. Hi Tammy, hi Kyle, how are you guys doing?

Tammy: Hi Scott.

Kyle: Hi Scott.

Fisher: Great to have you on the show. What got you started in this project about the World War I guys in your neck of the woods?

Tammy: Well Scott, back in the fall of 2016 the county historian offered a grant to any town who wanted to put together an artefact on their World War I Veterans in honor of the 100th anniversary and to commemorate their service. Our local historian decided to put together quick biographies on the gentlemen and I ended up with ten names. As I started researching these ten names I started uncovering absolutely amazing, fascinating stories. So, when the information came through for the other 89 men some of them were missing the stories, the depth which I had uncovered information on the ten men whose names that I was responsible for so I took the project over and started researching. And, as my husband told me from the beginning, “Tammy, you research and write, and I’ve got the rest.”

Fisher: Wow!

Kyle: So, I knew she was an overachiever and she really wanted to dig deep into these guys.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tammy: [Laughs]

Kyle: So, she kind of got coerced into doing all the research but then at that point when we started looking at it, we collected these names and as she was doing the research she’s researching through a soda straw looking at each person in depth and then we backed down when we laid them all out. We found common themes. We found places where they had crossovers in their service, in their lives. We found families that were tied together and it just became a really growing project. As we used to say in the military, it was mission creep. Everything kept creeping more to more.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kyle: And developing more about these stories.

Fisher: Wow! Did you relate to this a lot? I mean, you’re a military man Kyle. You were in the air force, is that right?

Kyle: I was in the air force yes. So, I actually did a crash course in World War I and Navy histories and the construct of how the services were organized and everything that led up to the draft, and how they got overseas. It was an education for me as well and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fisher: Oh, I bet you did. So, have you found any descendents of some of these people, living in your area?

Tammy: When the book project was started, I came to the decision that I wasn’t going to reach out to family members because people’s memories of histories change over time.

Fisher: Sure.

Tammy: So, the book was written solely on research. Any published materials through books, newspaper articles. If I received a little nugget of information somewhere then I would go to that university, that library, that town, to uncover more information about it.

Fisher: You just didn’t want old memories to taint what you were doing?

Kyle: It’s funny because we did use some locals that remembered some of the families just to collaborate we were in the right direction, the right family tree. And it was interesting to talk to some, including my father who knew a lot of the descendents of some of these World War I Veterans and other members of the community that talked about, “Oh, I remember that man, he was a cantankerous old fool.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kyle: Or, “This guy had a store on Third Street.” So, those were some great stories to get but we didn’t use those stories. We used those as the leads to do the research.

Fisher: Oh, what fun! Yeah, that’s right. That’s a great way to go with it. So, you mentioned a book Tammy, it started out as a community project. How did this evolve from that into your book?

Tammy: In the ten men whose names I had researched I found stories about how they lived their lives after the war. The book project initially started out birth, death, and what they did in the service but the contributions of these men once they left service were what I really wanted to focus on. What I really wanted to highlight was they did amazing and went through horrible experiences in the war. But, how they turned that around and either served their community through politics, through being farmers, through going into education, being lawyers. Those were the stories that these men overcame, whatever it was they went through, to go on and have families and live amazing lives and make contributions and differences within the United States.

Fisher: Wow.

Tammy: Some of these men even went on to serve in World War II believe it or not. They volunteered. They enlisted and went in a second time. And it was uncovering those stories just in those ten men that told me there is so much more to this. There is so much more to the other 89 and told them 99 where all the names came from. They’re on a 100 year old painting that the town had commissioned to be painted back in 1919. It grew organically and the project defined itself and I really needed to get this information out there and that’s how it ended up becoming the book that it is.

Fisher: So, what stories from some of these people struck you?

Tammy: Um, one in particular, the gentleman’s name was Douglas Newcomb. He is from Parma and he went to school, received his degree in education and ended up moving to California. He was a math teacher in Long Beach, California. He became principal and eventually superintendent of schools in Long Beach, California. He became so beloved not just within the school system but within his community that when he retired and he had spearheaded building California’s first K-8 combined school. They named that school after him.

Fisher: Oh, wow!

Tammy: So, there’s now what’s called the Newcomb Academy in Long Beach, California and it was named after one of our Parma World War I Veterans. And just as a little side titbit here, if anybody is familiar with the TV program Dexter which takes place at a school, it’s filmed at the Newcomb Academy.

Fisher: Interesting! Did you find a lot of the issues we see with modern day warriors who come back with PDSD and it affected some of these people?

Kyle: That was the thing I really found interesting and kind of shocking in a way, I dug a little bit deeper into the military histories and the unit histories and where they were so I could understand what each of these soldiers had faced. They were in trance and I really uncovered what is now today modern day post dramatic stress disorder in a lot of these gentlemen. The army was fascinating in how they did some very detailed reports on some of the shelling and some of the gas attacks. And that transcribed into why a lot of these gentlemen ended up in Veterans Assisted Living or VA Hospitals in their later life. A lot of them succumbed to pneumonia or other lung related issued because they had these exposures to gas and shelling. We did have a few you could tell based on reading between the lines that there were some post dramatic stress disorder issues in their later lives, psychological issues and that sort. So, it was sad to read some of this but it also kind of exposed it. Many people didn’t realize that our local Veterans had some of these exposures and some of these issues but now that you read it, it makes sense when you see their early death dates as well.

Fisher: Yeah. I don’t think we hear much about the earlier wars and how it affected people years later. You started to hear some about the World War II Vets later in their lives and now we hear about it of course all the time for the Vietnam Vets in particular. So, you named the book, “With our Boys.” Tammy, what’s the story behind that title?

Tammy: Throughout the research our local newspaper titled, “The Hilton Record” whenever there was information on any of the Veterans there would be a column and the heading of the column was “With our Boys” and members of the community as they had letters from their loved ones overseas or any kind of information they would take it to the publisher and he would put it in the newspaper under the column “With our Boys.” The 100 year old painting which had the names of the 99 men on it, it’s titled “Honor Roll.” So, as we started working on the book and putting it together we decided to put under the title “With our Boys “Honor Roll.”

Fisher: Awesome! You know, it’s a great story and obviously something that’s consumed you guys and is going to leave a lasting mark on your town and I appreciate you sharing the story. Kyle and Tammy Mullen, they’re in Parma near Rochester, New York. It’s great to chat with you guys. Thanks for your time.

Tammy: Oh, it’s wonderful to talk to you. Thank you for the opportunity.

Kyle: Thanks a lot.

Fisher: We talk DNA with “Ask Us Anything,” coming up next on Extreme Genes.

Segment 4 Episode 281 Classic Rewind

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it’s time once again for our Ask Us Anything segment. Today we're talking to my good friend, Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists. He is the DNA specialist. Hey Paul, how are you?

Paul: I'm doing really well. Thanks for having me, Fish.

Fisher: Hey, always happy to have you on. And love getting these questions answered, because people are asking about this all the time. By the way, if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, all you have to do is email it to us at [email protected]. So, first question for you, Paul, variation percentages. You know, when people get their DNA ethnicity results, there are often percentages that were not expected. For instance, I had a friend who had a grandfather who was fully Italian, but he came back only 8% Italian and a large percentage Greek, and he couldn't figure that out. What's going on there?

Paul: So, before anything, it’s important to remember that ethnicity gives a broad context for your family history research. We pay a lot of attention to ethnicity, because that's what's marketed, that's what's talked about.

Fisher: It’s the gateway drug, you know.

Paul: It’s the gateway drug, yeah.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: And so we have a lot of attention towards ethnicity, but ethnicity is just for a broad context. It is a developing science, but it can still give us some important context clues. So in this case where we've got 8% Italian and then a large percentage of Greek that really fits into the larger patterns of what we would expect with ethnicity. Because with ethnicity, you're going to get different percentages at different companies and you're going to get variations on those percentages as those companies update their algorithms, as they update their processes, as they update the populations that they're referring your DNA against and that they're comparing your DNA to. And so, the ethnicity estimates that you have today, the percentages that you have are likely to change in the next months, years and coming time periods. And what you want to look at with your ethnicity estimates are, this broad reachable categories. The companies are very good at saying what is Native American vs. African vs. European vs. Asian admixture? It’s getting into the differences between populations and particular between populations that have historically been tied to each other through migration, through common histories that you really want to be careful. In this case, 8% Italian, a large percentage Greek, that is all likely coming from their Italian grandfather.

Fisher: Yeah.

Paul: And it may be that that grandfather had one parent from one part of Italy and one parent from another part of Italy that's a bit closer to Greece. And so, if you actually look at the maps, it will also sometimes include indications that even though it’s showing up as Greek admixture, it may bleed over into areas of Italy where they're also seeing that admixture. And because Greece and Italy are neighboring countries, because they're both on the Mediterranean, because they both have a long sea faring history, we get some admixture of Greek and Italian between those populations. So just be aware that while the companies are very good at telling what is these broad population categories at the continental level, it’s really hard to tell what's the difference between Italian and Greek and it’s really hard to tell what's the difference between British and Scottish, or British and Irish, or British and French.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: So don't pay too much attention. Don't get too hung up if there's a little bit of variation from what you might expect in those regions.

Fisher: All right, Paul, great answer and a great question. It is one everybody hears all the time. And we're going to take a break and come back and answer another one of your questions about why aunts sometimes show up as first cousins. How do these things work? We're going to find out next as we continue with Ask Us Anything with DNA specialist, Paul Woodbury, next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 281 Classic Rewind

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: All right, it is time for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show for this week. We're doing Ask Us Anything, talking DNA today with DNA specialist, Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists. And Paul, this is one that comes up often too, "Why does my aunt show up as a first cousin?" And that's a good question. I think a lot of people are confused by the fact there are similar numbers when it comes to various relationships.

Paul: Exactly. What's important to remember is that the companies are necessarily broad in their estimations of relationships, because the amount of DNA that you share with a parent is pretty clear cut. The amount of DNA that you share with a sibling is also pretty clear cut, but because the companies want to make sure that they're covering all potential possibilities, once you move into more distant relationships, they only are looking at the DNA and are saying, "Well, this could be anywhere from a first cousin to an aunt to a first cousin once removed level of relationship." And as you move further away in your relationships, you get more overlap in the amount of DNA that you expect to share with those levels of relationships.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Paul: So even though a parent-child relationship is clear cut, a sibling relationship is clear cut, a second cousin could share as much DNA as a first cousin once removed does. And as you get further out, they become more ambiguous and more blended. A fourth cousin could share as much DNA with you as a fifth cousin once removed or as an eighth cousin. As you get further out, the amount of DNA that you share is going to become more ambiguous in helping you determine what level of relationship that could be. So, important to remember that each of the companies are broad in their estimates. They'll say, this is close family member, but then there's first to second, and then there's second to third, and then its third to fourth, fourth to sixth, fifth to eighth, eighth to distant, you know. So they get more broad categories as you move further out. So when you see a close relative show up in a category that you're not expecting, the thing that you need to look for is are they just sharing a really low amount of DNA with me or is there a possibility that they have relationship?

Fisher: Right. Yeah.

Paul: Right? And that can be scary!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: As you take this test and it comes back and it’s like, "Oh no! Why is my aunt showing up as my first cousin?" Some things to help you interpret and to determine are they really, you know, a half aunt, which would share about the same amount of DNA as a first cousin or are they just sharing a really low amount of DNA and the company is being conservative in their estimates? And to help explore that question, I recommend DNA Painter. They have a tool that's called "The Shared Centimorgan Project 3.0 tool v4." And that's available at DNAPainter.com and it’s based on Blaine Bettinger’s Shared Centimorgan Project, as well as some published data from Ancestry DNA to help you evaluate, if I plug in the amount of DNA I share with this person, what's the probability of particular levels of relationship? And that can help you often determine if it’s more likely that they just share a low amount of DNA with you or if they are in fact a half relative.

Fisher: He's Paul Woodbury. He's the DNA specialist with Legacy Tree Genealogists. Thanks so much, Paul, as always. That is our Ask Us Anything segment for this week. If you have a question for any particular type of specialty, just send us an email. Send it to [email protected]. Hey, that is it for this week. We're out of time. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope you got a lot out of it. If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio or ExtremeGenes.com. And don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genies Newsletter it’s absolutely free at ExtremeGenes.com. 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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