Episode 300 - DNA Reveals New Info On Mayflower Descent Lines / Woman’s Ancestor’s Dying Words from 1940s Reveals Clues To His Parents Seven Decades LaterSep 29, 2019
Host Scott Fisher opens Extreme Genes’ 300 episode with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin Family Histoire News with the latest on America’s oldest living World War II vet. Hear the story of Laurence Brooks. Then, a Purple Heart awarded posthumously to an airman who died in the Battle of the Bulge has found its way back to the family. The guys then talk about a genie who spends his time making clients rich through his research. Catch the details. Next, it’s a letter to Dear Abby complaining about a passionate genie mother. Is she, perhaps, too passionate? David’s Blogger Spotlight this week shines on RootsTech.org/blog where Elizabeth Miller shares Ten Reasons To Attend RootsTech.
Next, Fisher chats with Chris Child, Senior Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press and Editor of the Mayflower Descendant. Chris talks about his recent finds concerning Mayflower descendants through Y and mitochondrial DNA tests. He explains how one new find has given Mayflower ancestry to John Wayne and Winston Churchill!
Then Fisher visits with Heather Ruth Pack, a Utah resident. Heather tells her story about a relative who was with her great grandfather when he died in the 1940s, and what he said eventually led her to his long-missing parents. It’s another ordinary person with an extraordinary find.
Fisher and David then tackle “Ask Us Anything.” One question concerns the 1950 census. Another deals with colonial military records. Hear what the guys have to say.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 300
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 300
Fisher: And welcome 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 episode is brought to you by BYUTV’s Relative Race starting its 6th season this Sunday night. And I cannot believe it, and I want to thank you all so much for making this our 300th episode. [Laughs] That is a lot of recording, a lot of interviews, but more importantly, an awful lot of people listening to the show. So, we appreciate each and every one of you who has been a part of this, especially those who have been here since the beginning and to all the radio stations who carried the show and those who listen online. It is just an amazing thing. We started in, let’s see, July of 2013. We went national in 2014, and here we are, 300th episode. Very excited about that today. Boy, do we have some great guests today. First of all, we’re going to talk to Chris Child from NEHGS. He’s going to talk about some DNA, and some recent discoveries concerning Mayflower descendants, yeah, new Mayflower descendant lines as a result of DNA. It’s fascinating stuff and you’re going to want to hear which lines may have been affected by that, maybe one of yours. Plus, Heather Ruth Pack, she is a listener from Utah and she had a near death confession of her first great grandfather passed on to her by her grandmother. And that information actually led to her discovering his real parents and his real ethnicity. It’s fascinating stuff coming on a little bit later in the show. And of course, at the back end it’s “Ask Us Anything.” We’re going to answer a couple of your questions, so get ready for that. But right now it’s David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David.
David: Hey, how’s things with you out in your part of the globe?
Fisher: You know, it’s wonderful always finding new stuff and hearing new stories and I just love what people are developing.
David: Well, we lost Richard Overton earlier this year, but we have now the oldest American Veteran, a Louisiana native who’s 110.
Fisher: Yeah, 110 years old and he’s being celebrated at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Born September 12th 1909. [Laughs] Unbelievable. Yeah, Lawrence Brooks and he just loves it because each of the last five years they’ve given him a lot of attention there at the museum, and he especially loves the Victory Belles vocal trio. They serenade him and give him kisses and he said, “You know, I’ve only recently started to think about not having many birthdays left.” And I think he said, “I think the reason I live so long is because I always like people so much. Oh yes, I do.” So, that’s a great story. Congratulations to Lawrence, 110 years young and still celebrating.
David: That’s amazing. Well, another World War II story has really kind of warmed my heart reading it. You know, there’s so much stuff on eBay and out in flea markets, but a gentleman has recently gone to a flea market in Florida and tracked down a named Purple Heart, returned it to the family, and the person that he delivered it to is actually the niece of the veteran. This long lost medal somehow turned up in Florida at a yard sale.
Fisher: Yeah and the person it’s celebrating and honoring is a guy who was only 22 years old and was killed in the Battle of the Bulge.
David: It’s probably a Purple Hearts that was presented to the family posthumously and just ended up getting lost.
David: Well, I cherish the one I have for Douglas A. Lambert that was given to me by my distant cousins. He was killed in World War II as well and received this when he was actually alive, and then he sent it home to his mom. Well, I’ll tell you, I always love stories about being reunited, but occasionally you get those emails. You know the ones I’m talking about, from Nigerian princes that are going to give you billions of dollars if you only send them a thousand?
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes. Right.
David: Well, that’s what our next person who’s in New Zealand thought when an Australian gene detective reached out. But, sure enough it was true, and she is now going to inherit something over $300,000 through a child her mother had that she didn’t even know about.
Fisher: Oh wow! Isn’t that incredible? Who knew? [Laughs] Yeah, this gene detective over there, he looks and finds these fortunes for people, and I would assume he takes a cut which is only fair, but an amazing find, $300,000. So congratulations to all of them. What a great thing.
David: It really is. You know, Dear Abby has been on the American mind for decades now, and of course the next generation of Dear Abby continues, and one of the things I love is the genealogy stories. And there’s one that you can find on ExtremeGenes.com, The daughter who doesn’t share her mom’s obsession with family history. And she says her mom has collected too many things. She wants it all left exactly like it. Well, her mom is something I hashtag and call the “FHH Club.” That’s family history hoarders. [Laughs]
Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Yeah, this is the thing that the mom is saying to the daughter, “Look, when I’m gone, I want the house to remain exactly as it is. And you must take care of all these things that I found.” And it’s like, wait a minute. It doesn’t work like that. You don’t want to burden your descendants with the stuff. You want to enhance their lives if they’re interested in it. If they’re not interested in it, find someone else who is. Don’t force it on people.
David: Exactly. The next story has to deal with John Dillinger. We’ve talked earlier about them going to exhume his body. Yeah, that date’s come and gone, and still hasn’t happened yet. In fact, the history channel dropped out of the planned documentary, so we’re staying tuned to see if someone can dig up all the concrete and scrap iron that was dumped on top of his grave. And I personally see this is going to be a pretty flat John Dillinger to discover when they get done with that.
Fisher: [Laughs] Could be.
David: My blogger spotlight this week shines on RootsTech. I’m delighted to be the ambassador for both London and just recently found out for Salt Lake City, so I’ll see you there at RootsTech London or Salt Lake. But RootsTech.org/blog and you can read Elizabeth Miller’s blog, the ten reasons to attend RootsTech 2020. I can tell you, I can probably think of a dozen or more as well and many people would do it for other reasons. To me, it’s going out to see my RootsTech family out in Salt Lake, and now in London.
Fisher: Isn’t that something? Isn’t that going to be a great deal of fun? So, thank you so much David and we will talk to you again at the back end of the show as we do another segment of “Ask Us Anything.”
David: All right, catch you around.
Fisher: All right and coming up next I’m going to talk to Chris Child. He has done some work with Mayflower descendants’ lines using DNA and made some remarkable new discoveries. You’re going to want to hear what he’s found and how he’s done it, on the way next on Extreme Genes in three minutes.
Segment 2 Episode 300
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Chris Child
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio roots Sleuth, very pleased to have my good friend Chris Child on the line. He is the Senior Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press and Editor of the Mayflower Descendant, all associated with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. And Chris recently gave a talk about new DNA discoveries involving Mayflower descendants. And Chris, this is amazing, some of the things being discovered on the 400th anniversary with it looming just ahead next year.
Chris: Yes thank you. It’s very interesting. Lots and lots of people who can trace their ancestry, some estimates are around 30 million back to the Mayflower. And as a result of all these descendants there’s specific parts of our DNA that can be utilized for some really fascinating discoveries.
Fisher: And I would imagine too, as you say, that I’m thinking about, DNA can probably disprove some lines as well, right?
Chris: Indeed. That’s the case with Bill Griffiths, a stranger in my genes, where he takes a DNA test and learns immediately that his father was not his father. But, we learn that also way back into the colonial period where folks would take a DNA test and they learn the line that they had thought was correct, and it might actually be correct on paper, but it’s not correct genetically.
Fisher: Yes. Hopefully, we’re adding more descendants than we’re losing as a result of the test. [Laughs] Now, I’m thinking just because we’re going back 400 years that autosomal really doesn’t come into play with this, right?
Chris: No, and especially for the Mayflower since the Mayflower group, once they get to the United States, their homogenous group, they intermarry with one another.
Chris: There’s a very limited amount of factors where you could utilize autosomal DNA that far back, and it doesn’t relay into what we know about the Mayflower and how the families intermarried with one another. So, we’re not able to use autosomal DNA on any substantial basis in this regard.
Fisher: Sure. Now for those who are listening and not familiar, autosomal DNA is the DNA test normally done by Ancestry.com and 23AndMe, and all the other companies. But the ones that are a little bit more expensive, and a little more specific, are the ones that can really help you break through some of these lines. So, we’re talking about Y-DNA and mitochondrial, right Chris?
Chris: Yes, and really the company that dies this on the largest scale right now is FamilyTreeDNA.com. So, the Y-DNA is a test that only men can take, so if you’re female you’d have to get your brother, your dad to take the test. And this test are father’s, father’s, father’s line, very far back and based on mathematical probabilities and mutation rates, you can essentially determine the likelihood that two men would share a common ancestor through men only back in a certain way. And mitochondrial DNA works somewhat in the same way. It’s a part of our DNA that both men and women have, but we only get it from our mother who got it from her mother and so on and so forth. So, it’s very much like the same way you can take this test and see who you match to and who you don’t match to.
Fisher: All right, so let’s talk about some of the new discoveries about the Mayflower. The 400th anniversary is next year. Everything’s building up to that and now there are still new finds about these families and descendant lines that are being made. What’s the latest one, and what excites you about this?
Chris: Sure. So through essentially, what I call patrilineal descendants of male Mayflower passengers or matrilineal descendants of female Mayflower passengers or their spouses, we’re able to get the Y-DNA or mtDNA sequences of all these different passengers, and you can make some discoveries either in the Colonial period or in the term of the Revolutionary War period. So, one of the interesting things that I talked about recently, and I wrote an article in the Journal that I edit, the Mayflower descendant in regards to Lieutenant John Sprague of Duxbury, Massachusetts and Lebanon, Connecticut, everything on paper which showed that he’s the child of John Sprague and his wife Ruth Bassett, but the DNA of all his descendants is different than the Y-DNA of his younger two brothers. And the Y-DNA of his two brothers does show that they’re the sons of their father, but the Y-DNA for John Sprague is pointing that his father was a Fuller and the Fuller family is a family that came over on the Mayflower. So, this article that I wrote explores all of that and looks at the possible men who could be the father in 1655 of this boy and makes several very interesting conclusions.
Fisher: Wow! So, were you able to narrow it down as to which one specifically was the dad?
Chris: So, there were six Fuller men alive in 1655 who could father a child and five of them were living elsewhere.
Chris: They had moved out of Plymouth and were living in Barnstable, so that reasonably leaves Samuel Fuller junior, the son of one of the two Fuller brothers that came on the Mayflower, his father being also named Samuel Fuller.
Fisher: And so among the descendants, anybody of note?
Chris: Sure. So then John Sprague moved to Lebanon, Connecticut and he is an ancestor of the Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the actor John Wayne. And both of those guys prior to this did not have any Mayflower ancestry.
Fisher: And it’s too bad they’re not around to know this, right? I think they’d probably find it pretty fascinating.
Fisher: So, you’ve added to the duke and to the prime minister?
Chris: Yes. And on the same token that it’s possible that you could do research that might take away Mayflower ancestry. In this case it’s nice that we are able to sort of add some additional descendants.
Chris: But often in some of these theories we are testing them out. They are not iron-clad theories and we’re trying to get either matrilineal or patrilineal descendants to see if any of these theories hold water or if they don’t.
Fisher: If they can be shot down. Well, that’s I think what we do with everything in genealogy, right? You try to come up with your theory, you prove it and then you try to disprove it some other way.
Chris: Yes and also with DNA. I mean, I try to go as far back as I possibly can in terms of really knowing, making sure that I know the sequence of the people I’m talking about. So, with the Sprague example, I got descendants of the two younger brothers down to the present day. And so they separated at two siblings born in the 1660s, and the fact that they matched each other makes it very clear that we knew the sequence of the father. So, also when I’m doing matrilineal descendants, I try to get lines from two different sisters, so we’re as far back as possible.
Fisher: And so, if there’s only sons in a certain family you basically out of luck?
Chris: Yes. And we often hear of the case of “daughtering” out in regards to surnames, but on mtDNA you have the other side of that coin. You have families that “son out.”
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] So, what other Mayflower families have you made discoveries on?
Chris: So, I have identified half a group of a good number of the Mayflower passengers. Another interesting one that I worked on was some matrilineal descendants of Pricilla Mullins and John Alden. And they have four daughters that leave matrilineal descendants and at the time I began this research, three of their daughters had matrilineal descendants down to the present day that had taken tests. The research I was doing regarded this woman Esther Dyer, who was born in Braintree, Vermont in the 1790s. And essentially, we had two competing theories on who her parents could be. Her parents could either be Ichabod Dyer senior and his wife Molly Jones, or their older son Ichabod Dyer junior and his wife Phoebe Nichols. And because the two women, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law had different mtDNA sequences, whoever Esther’s matrilineal descendants matched to would give us the information of who her mother would be.
Chris: And when we got the descendants, she matched to all the descendants of Pricilla Mullins, which meant that she belonged to Ichabod senior and his wife, and didn’t match the descendants of Ichabod junior and his wife.
Fisher: That is so cool. You must love getting up every day trying to figure this stuff, although your eyes must be kind of blurry. What kind of eyeglass prescription do you have Chris?
Chris: [Laughs] I do wear glasses. But it also takes a lot of patience because you have to contact a lot of living people and they’re not necessarily genealogists and you have to explain to them what you’re trying to do, and your goals, and you often have to have plan b, c, and d, and then you have to have patience in waiting for the test for the lab to get back.
Fisher: Yeah, it takes a long time. I’ve never dealt with a mitochondrial test. How long does that take to get back compared to say, Y or autosomal?
Chris: Sure. Now average time is two to three months. And if you send it in around the holidays it takes a little bit longer, and if you’re sending it in an off period like now, it’s often been a little bit quicker.
Fisher: Okay. So, you’ve got the Alden line. You’ve got the Fuller line. Who else?
Chris: Well, one of the things I have worked on is this issue with Steven Hopkins and his wife Mary. Their older daughter Constance Hopkins married Nicholas Snow. And because William Bradford wrote in 1651 of Plymouth plantation, he summarized the Mayflower families. And some nights he wasn’t specific. That wasn’t his purpose. So, when he talked about Constance Hopkins and her husband Nicholas Snow, he said they have 12 children, they’re all alive, but he didn’t name any of those kids. When Nicholas Snow died in 1676, his will only names his sons. And we can identify nine children, which essentially leave three kids that were alive in 1651, and if they were sons they were dead by 1676, but if they were daughters they could also be dead or they could be married daughters living in Plymouth or some combination two and one, or one and two.
Chris: There’s this theory written in the late 1800s that one of these missing three kids could have been the wife of Daniel Dhone, and they have plenty of matrilineal descendants so this is definitely a target for mtDNA studies. So, there have been many descendants of Constance Hopkins Snow who have taken DNA tests and have matched. And I have identified a few descendants of Mrs Daniel Dhone to take it. I’ve gotten some results back but they are a little bit preliminary at this point. Again, what I was mentioning to you earlier where I want to get descendants of two unique lines and have them match each other.
Chris: That way I can be very confident that I have the correct line. Because you never know when you’re tracing a matrilineal descent especially as you pointed out, the names change every generation that you have it truly correct in case say, in the early 1800s where a man has two different wives with the same first name, or there’s an adoption in the 20th century that’s not noted on the records.
Chris: There’s all these reasons you have to sort of consider when you’re tracing a line 12 generations down to the present.
Fisher: Wow! For people listening who think they’re really good at this stuff, and then they listen to you, it’s like okay, we’ve got a lot more to learn and a lot more to work on. And what fun though. And it’s fascinating how the history is being rewritten because basically in the last 10 years we’ve developed a brand new powerful source, and we are that source.
Chris: Yes. The things that I’m talking about are not applicable in every situation in Mayflower era or Colonial genealogy, but the ones that they are, it’s really, really fascinating and it’s amazing that people alive today can have a very important clue on some parentage back 400 years.
Fisher: It’s crazy. He’s Chris Child. He’s the Senior Genealogist of Newbury Street Press and the editor of the Mayflower Descendant. And he’s telling us about how DNA is kind of changing the history of some of the descendant lines from passengers on the Mayflower. Thank you so much Chris. Fascinating! Great stuff!
Chris: Thank you.
Fisher: And coming up next, I’ll talk to a Utah woman who learned through her grandmother information provided by her great grandfather as he neared his death, and what that eventually resulted in. It’s an ordinary person with an extraordinary find on the way in five minutes on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 300
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Heather Ruth Pack
Fisher: Welcome back genies! It is our 300th episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is so great to have you here. I’m always excited to meet ordinary people with extraordinary finds. Heather Ruth Pack reached out to me recently to share her story and I thought you’d want to hear this too because [Laughs] this is pretty unique. Heather, welcome to Extreme Genes!
Heather: Thank you.
Fisher: Now, tell me about this. You had this story hanging out there, like most of your life, correct?
Heather: Yeah. It’s been such a huge part of my life and it’s becoming how most people know me. People talk to m like, “Oh, you’re the girl that found out she was French.” Yep, that’s me. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Found out she was French. Well, talk about the mystery of this because this went on for a long time. What was it like, age 12 when you first heard about this?
Heather: Yeah. So, when I was 12, I was given an assignment to fill out my family tree going back just four generations. I was sitting at my kitchen table, my mom was distracted making dinner or whatever, and it just seemed like a no big deal type of assignment. I said, okay, so, I think I know my grandparent’s names and I’m making sure I got the spelling right and I said, okay, give me the great grandparent’s names. So, she’s listing those off to me and I said, okay, then I need their parents. Well, when I get to my father’s, father’s father, she’s like, well, we think his name is Nathan and we don’t know how to spell his wife’s name but we think it’s this.
Heather: I sat there like, what? It just seemed baffling to me that my dad would not know his grandparents’ parents. It created this drive in me that never went away. I’m going to find out who these people are. I got pretty serious about it when I was 19. I was going to Brigham Young University, took a genealogy class. I got a D-minus in the class because I couldn’t fill out my pedigree chart. [Laughs]
Heather: I went, okay, wait a minute I need to get rewarded for input not output. So, I found a different genealogy class that taught research skills. This is pre-internet. I’m in the back room, on the left handed microfilm reader in the dark, just spinning census record after census record and just kept hitting one dead-end after another. Every time there was a new website, a new tool, control-F became my best friend.
Fisher: [Laughs] This became your obsession, didn’t it girlfriend?
Heather: Oh, yeah. I had five kids in six years growing up and I’m up at four in the morning not for diapers or bottles but on the computer trying to find dead people. [Laughs]
Fisher: And for people who are new to genealogy or thinking about getting into it and they hear people like you, see this could become very addicting. It can really alter your life. There’s no question about it. So, you mentioned in your note to me that over time you learned that your great grandfather had revealed some clues before he died. How long ago did he pass away?
Heather: He passed away in 1941 and I was born in 1969. So, I knew people who knew him but never got to meet him myself.
Fisher: Sure. So, how did you learn about these clues that he left?
Heather: Fortunately, his daughter in law, my grandmother, who is Italian. I call her Nona. She was a storyteller. I used to spend hours with her and she just told me story after story of her ancestors, about people I didn’t know and people I did know. She told me this bizarre story one day, about how my great grandfather had a heart attack in the car while she was grocery shopping. She had this impression as they were bagging up the groceries that she shouldn’t go out to the car. So, she asked the bagger to go out to the car for her and when she goes out to the car, he’s there holding my aunt, 8 months old, and he’s dead. She had to fill out the death certificate. He was visiting from Utah, out in San Diego and she had to fill out the death certificate. She was telling me what it was like and I’m just sitting there with my jaw dropping, I’m like, what?
Heather: And she says, “Yeah, and fortunately right before he died he told me four things about himself and I was able to use those to fill out the death certificate.” And I said, “What were they?” And right before he died he revealed his mother’s name, which no one had ever known before. He revealed his birth dates and he revealed what town he was born in. And then he said something that ended being a credible clue, and that was my mother was French.
Fisher: So, wait a minute. We’ve got a changed identity here, right?
Heather: Yeah, because his last name was Buchanan. We identify as Scots. We have Buchanan tartans all throughout our house. My father had a suit made out Buchanan tartan. We always identified as Scottish, but as I got closer to census records and closer to the truth, I finally said to my father one day, I said, “Dad, I don’t want to freak you out, but I think we might be French, not Scottish. And that sparked a memory in him and he said, “Oh my gosh, when I was ten years old my father sat me down on the couch and said, “Son, you need to remember that we are French and not Scottish.” And I thought oh that information would have been helpful about 15 years ago.
Fisher: So, wait a minute. I want to understand. So what was the secret here? That’s a strange thing when you’re dying to go, “Here’s my real birth date. Here’s my mother’s maiden…Is he really thinking through the death certificate himself? What was the deal?
Heather: I have a couple of theories. I would love more than anything to interview this guy. But one my theories is I think he was 70 years old. I think he knew my life is short. He’s got this grandbaby that he’s meeting for the first time. And I think there was something in him that just said I don’t want this story to die with me.
Heather: And so that’s how I could configured, but he had a very interesting story. He said had the truth been revealed he would have gone to prison.
Heather: It makes sense to me that he didn’t share it with everyone.
Fisher: So he’s avoiding all that. So, now what happened? How did you then connect him with his birth mother? He gave you a name. And what about the birth father’s side?
Heather: Yeah, so we assumed, obviously, that his father’s name was Nathan Buchanan because he’s John Buchanan. And the only Nathan Buchanan I could find in the United States that even remotely matched died at the age of three.
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s not a match.
Heather: It’s not a match. This is what I’ve learned in all my research. You don’t want to assume they’re lying, but you also don’t want to make assumptions based on what they do tell you.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Heather: In other words, she said my dad’s name is Nathaniel, but he never explicitly said Nathanial Buchanan. So, we were making assumptions that obviously weren’t true.
Heather: So, finally one day my family decided to just sit down on FamilySearch.org where they have the records and I said I’m going to stop making assumptions and I’m only going to type in what he himself told my grandmother.
Fisher: That’s right.
Heather: And I looked up Susan who was born in France, living in Illinois in 1870 because he was born in 1869.
Heather: And up popped a Nathan and a Susan with a completely different last name with a little boy named John, born in October of 1869. And I burst into tears because I knew because I knew I had found my family but I had no way to prove that it was my family. And that’s when I started doing what is known as reverse genealogy.
Fisher: Um hmm, pulling everything forward, all the other descendants and see if you can find matches or stories in there.
Fisher: And what did you discover?
Heather: I found a third cousin living in Virginia. I wrote him. I said, “This is my story. Does any of this sound familiar?” He wrote me back and he says, “Yes, we have a relative who disappeared. We thought he had died. And the dates matched.” And I wrote him back and I said, “He didn’t die. He lived and he had children and I’m one of them.”
Fisher: Wow. She is Heather Ruth Pack. She’s a Utah resident with an amazing story of discovery. [Laughs] It’s like a movie, isn’t it Heather?
Fisher: It’s like that deathbed confession and then it’s passed along orally through one person in your family. You interviewed the right person and look what it’s turned into.
Fisher: Fantastic sleuthing. Congratulations.
Heather: Thank you.
Fisher: And coming up next we’ll work to help you with your sleuthing with another edition of “Ask Us Anything.” We’ll be taking your questions on the way next in Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, on our 300th episode.
Segment 4 Episode 300
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: And we are back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fish here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and we're celebrating our 300th episode today. Unbelievable! And so appreciative of all the support over all the years. We are doing “Ask Us Anything” and David Allen Lambert is back to help with that. And David, we're going to start with Steven Moore's question from Claremont, California. He said, “I wasn't a genie in 2012, so I have a few questions about the upcoming release of the 1950 US federal census records? When exactly will those records be made public? Where will they be available first? How long will it take for images to propagate our sites like FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com?” He says, “Yes, I'm already making plans for two and a half years from now.” Thanks, Steve. All right, David.
David: Well, I think we have to look back at how the 1940 was released, and for that we're going to deal with, you know, Ancestry's going to get it online. It’s going to be browsable, not searchable, and then I think you'll probably see a collaboration with FamilySearch to get it indexed, because their team of indexers are going to tear into that one.
David: I think that's going to be priority number one. One of the interesting things genealogically, it doesn't help where the parents are born, which you get in a lot of earlier censuses, starting in 1880. But it does get some interesting employment statistics, which might give you a window unto if your ancestor was working and how much they worked.
Fisher: Yeah, this is really interesting, because there were only 20 basic questions. There are a bunch of supplemental ones that were done for like five percent of the population. But, here are some of the basic questions for anybody who is over 14 years of age. “What was this person doing most of last week, working, keeping house or something else? [Laughs] So, you put in a WK for working, an H for keeping house and a U for unable to work or OT for other. And then they go on from there and say, “Well, if this person was keeping house or something else, did the person do any work all last week, not counting work around the house?”
David: [Laughs] Great.
Fisher: I mean, they're trying to find out if people are employed, not employed? Are they looking for work? What's going on?
David: Or lazy housekeepers.
Fisher: There's a whole series of these questions having to do with that, five of them. So, even number 20, “What kind of work does this person do? What kind of business or industry? Are they self employed? Do they work for the government? Are they in private employment? Do they have their own business?” So, there's just a lot of stuff that will come from that. But I really don't think this holds much of a candle to the 1940 census and all the stuff that was in there, including, you know, like where did people live just five years earlier.
David: That was really a wonderful census to have, and of course the '30s census told whether or not you owned a radio.
David: So, I was really hoping the '50s would tell us whether or not you owned a TV.
Fisher: Yeah, wouldn't you think. And you know, I know after this, when we get to the 1960 census, which would be in 2032, that's going to be really interesting, because that one was done fully computerized, so it’s in a computer language that doesn’t much exist anymore and they're going to have to figure out how to decode that. I'm sure they'll be able to do it, but it’s going to take a lot of work.
David: I think there's a think tank probably genealogically that's probably one of them. And I can tell you that I heard a number of years ago that the '60s census again could be completely wrong, was on key punch cards and that the computer that was used to read them into data we could use for genealogy, we sold it to the Japanese and it no longer works.
David: So, this may be as bad as the 1890 census. Not burned, but you know, hold up those holes to the window kids, there’s great grandma!
Fisher: Hanging chads, right, hanging chads for grandma. [Laughs]
Fisher: And we’ll see what happens when we get to 2023. Right now, let’s just focus on 2022 and of course the 1950 census. So, thanks so much to Steve for his question. Hope that answers it for you. We’ll wait and see along with you, Steve. And coming up next, we have a military question, David, and I know that’s kind of right up your alley, so we’ll get to that, coming up when we return in three minutes on our 300th episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 300
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, back at it for our final segment this week of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. It is our 300th episode today! And we’re doing “Ask Us Anything.” David Allen Lambert is with me, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, what is our next listener question?
David: Well, this comes from Bonnie Wade Murcia who sent us a question about her Massachusetts ancestor who was in the French and Indian war up in the battles up in Louisburg in Cape Breton. And he ended up going to Granville, Nova Scotia where he actually got a land grant. And she has that record. Her question is, “Where are the military records?” Well, my first place to say would be the Massachusetts State Archives where we have the mass archives collection, countless muster rolls from all the parts of the 18th century and even back into the 17th century. So, she said they couldn't find it and obviously he's a military captain, so there should be some indication of him leading his own little company, but nothing there. My other thought is that he was attached perhaps with the British military, and if that's the case, it would be over at Kew in the British Archives in London. The British Archives would have regular British army records. He could have enlisted with the regular British army in Boston perhaps and been part of the expedition that went up there. But, usually the colonial militia records are in the state now where they originated. And Massachusetts hasn’t had a lot of fires and stuff, it’s possible that his muster roll did not survive, was never returned for whatever reason. The other thing that might be possible is that when he went up there after the war, he could have gone up as what we call a planter. Persons in the Revolution, if you went to Canada and you were a loyalist. If you went over in the 1750s and ‘60s after the expulsion of the Acadians you were given basically free land, a farm, animals, buildings. They basically removed the Acadians and transplanted New Englanders. And so, he could be part of that group. Granville, Nova Scotia where her ancestors settled, does have township books and that might give her a further clue. But the military records, if they’re not at the Massachusetts state archives, which she checked, I would then turn my focus on London, England to the British Archives out there at Kew.
Fisher: Wow! That’s a lot of great information, David. And you know, the thing I’m always impressed about is how much colonial military information has still survived? There’s a lot of it out there for colonial wars.
David: There really is. The only place that had an unfortunate accident was New York State. The New York State Library had a fire in the early part of the 20th century. The Dutch records that were at the very bottom is smoldered and they’re damaged, but the colonial records, including all the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War records for most of New York that were kept there are gone.
David: We only have a transcription. So we know someone was on the list, because they typed it up a number of years before, but not all the details and records were preserved. There are fragments, but very few.
Fisher: Yeah, that was from 1911 up in Albany and that was just a total disaster. I’ve seen pictures of it, and you just look at that photo of that building burning and realizing how much impact that still has on researchers today and you realize, oh my gosh, what a travesty!
David: There really is such a gap in Upstate New York, records as well as, you know, things that were in New York City in the municipal area there. Yeah, the building still stands. It’s a gorgeous old building. It’s well worth a look, but apparently a stray cigar with a gentleman hanging out of one of the reading rooms set the whole thing ablaze.
Fisher: Ah, unbelievable! David, thank you so much.
David: My pleasure.
Fisher: And that’s “Ask Us Anything” for this week. And just a reminder, if you have a question for us anytime, you can email us at [email protected]. Well, that’s it, our 300th episode is concluded! Thanks for joining us. We sure appreciate it. Don’t forget to sign up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter.” You can do it through our Facebook page or online at ExtremeGenes.com. It’s free. I give you a blog each week plus links to past and present shows and to stories that you as a genealogist will find pretty darn interesting. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!