Episode 303 - The Story Author’s Grandfather Never Told Him About Name Change, Murder, Escape / Fisher Visits with Relative Race’s Team BlackOct 27, 2019
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. They begin their conversation with Fisher talking about his latest breakthrough after 35 years of searching. Hear what solved the long time mystery. In Family Histoire News, the guys first talk about how DNA from cord blood has shown up in a DNA test result. The surprising connection could have major consequences, especially when it comes to crime solving. Next, DNA testing may be called upon to determine if some bones from a Pacific island may have belonged to Amelia Earhart. Then, the guys talk about Ancestry’s next big thing… Ancestry Health. Hear what the genealogy behemoth is up to now! David’s Blogger Spotlight this week shines on Amy Carpenter. Check out her MusingsOfAYoungGenealogist.weebly.com.
Next, Fisher visits with Kevin D. Miller, author of a new historic novel, Heart Of Steel, which is based on the stories Kevin found that his grandfather never told him. Several years ago Kevin learned that the family name wasn’t actually Miller. And the reason it was changed was because of a murder, a family scandal, and an astounding escape from an orphanage. Kevin explains what he learned and how he found all the family information.
Team Black from BYUtv’s Relative Race then joins the show. Fisher visits with J.D. and his wife, Jenn, a Utah couple. J.D. just experienced something life changing in last week’s episode. Hear their take on the entire experience.
Finally, David Allen Lambert returns for Ask Us Anything as the guys answer a listener question about Civil War pensions.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 303
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 303
Fisher:And you have found us, 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. And this week’s show is brought to you by BYUtv’s Relative Race, Sunday nights at 8 o’clock Eastern, 5 o’clock Pacific. In fact, later on in the show, we’re going to be talking to Jenn and J.D. They are Team Black, and what an emotional show they went through this past week, and you’re going to enjoy our visit with them. Hey, how are you doing? Welcome to the show. It’s great to have you along. Also excited today to be talking to Kevin Miller. Kevin has written a new book and it is based on his incredible family story from when he discovered that his last name wasn’t really supposed to be Miller, but his grandfather changed it back around 1921because of a murder in his family and a family scandal. And you will not believe what he discovered and how he discovered it. You’re going to enjoy that coming up in about ten minutes. Hey, just a reminder if you haven’t done so yet, sign up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter.” It is absolutely free. We’ve got links to past and present shows, stories that you’ll find interesting as a genealogist, and of course I give you a blog each week too. You can sign up at ExtremeGenes.comor through our Facebook page. Right now, it’s time to head off to Boston, Massachusetts where David Allen Lambert is standing by. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David, how are you?
David:Hey, I’m doing good, but I hear you’re doing a lot better.
David:What about this breakthrough three decades old you found?
Fisher:Yeah, 35 years I had been looking for a breakthrough on third great grandparents on one line. And I learned a couple of things from this. This is really interesting. I think of interest to people who are frustrated with brick walls, you know.
Fisher: Like I say, I’ve waited since the ‘80s to get this, but I have been administering six different people, including three second cousins on this one particular branch. And a fourth cousin match came up out of Australia recently that tied in to five of the six of us, including a shared relative from England who shared these third great grandparents. And so we discovered as a result of that, that there was another child belonging to my third great grandparents who was born and christened about 36 miles away from the rest of the family. And as a result of that, yeah, they gave us the actual maiden name of the mother, and then we found her christening and her parents and we found the dad’s christening and his parents, so we got back another generation on both sides. There was also another person who descended from this extra child who matched two of my second cousins.
Fisher:So, this was a huge thing for me. And what I got out of it was that you really need to try to administer as many tests from as many cousins within close range to you as you possibly can because sometimes they will get matches that you’re not going to get or your siblings aren’t going to get because I was administering for me and a brother and a sister and then these three second cousins. So, as a result of all of this we were able to put it together and finally get that breakthrough. I was up till 1 o’clock in the morning on Monday night. [Laughs] And it’s just exhausting.
David:Well, that’s typical for a genealogist. That’s kind of early isn’t it, like 2.30 in the morning?
Fisher:[Laughs] Yeah, it’s not unusual. I make most of my breakthroughs late at night and that was no exception, but it was huge. And the other thing to learn from it is be patient because I was working on this in June, and there was no record that showed the christening of this extra child until sometime this summer. It showed up on Ancestry. It’s not on FamilySearch. So, you’ve got to look in different places and see where they are, but these new records are coming along constantly. So, it was quite a joy and the people that I matched into in Australia are all excited about it. The match over in England is all excited about it. All of us over here are excited about it, so we finally got where we needed to be. All right David let’s get on with your Family Histoire News. Where do you want to begin?
David:Well, this story I want to tell you about actually has to do with a DNA match. Holly Becker, who’s in her 40s, now, over 20 years ago, was suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She actually got cord-blood which aided with her recovery. Well, her ancestry DNA test that she did recently led her to find that she still has, after 20 years, the umbilical cord blood from the donor, a 25-year-old Patrick Davey. So, I guess that makes it kind of like blood brother and blood sister?
Fisher: Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. And I think the thing that’s wackiest about this is the idea that what if you had a close DNA match to somebody who was involved in a cold case, right?
Fisher:I mean, this is somebody you had never ever seen before. So, maybe that’s a question for CeCe Moore at some point on the show. But I would imagine obviously, they have to match people’s actual DNA up to a crime scene. But this raises some very interesting questions. Wow!
David:It really does, and I think that it just goes to show you that the moment we thought we found everything we could use DNA research for, there’s another.
David:Well, I’ll tell you DNA is being used in the next story for Extreme Genes and this is about bone fragments from a famous lost aviator. Yep, Amelia Earhart was in the news again and this was because Dr. Erin Kimmerle who is with the University of South Florida has discovered bone fragments that were in a museum that probably could be Amelia Earhart. So, there is a living niece of Amelia Earhart. Obviously, they’ll probably be able to test mitochondrial DNA, or at least any part of that DNA to determine if she may have found this aviator we lost in 1937.
Fisher:Wow. You know, that story has been going on since I was a little boy. [Laughs] It’s been a long time. I fact, I had an uncle who was part of the navy exploration team that was looking for her back in those times.
David:Wow! That’s a story on its own.
Fisher:Yeah, in its own right. That’s true.
David:Well, I want to shine my blogger spotlight this week upon Amy Carpenter who has a blog MusingsOfaYoungGenealogist.weebly.com. And one of the things that she blogged about this year, which is fascinating, are the five reasons to go to a genealogy conference. Because I want you to go to her blog, I’m not going to give you all of them, but I’ll give you three, education, camaraderie and perspective. Go to her blog and find out what the other two are. Well, that’s all I have for Family Histoire News this week. I’ll catch you next time.
Fisher:All right David, thanks so much. And coming up next we’re going to talk to a man who learned later in life that his name was not his name, and that’s because his grandfather had changed it. And it involved murder and scandal and escape. It’s an amazing story and you’re going to want to hear it all next from the author of the book about this whole experience, Kevin Miller, on the way in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 303
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kevin Miller
Fisher: Welcome back, it’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and you know, we’re always looking dig up the stories for you, to inspire you to go out and find yours. And one of those stories is now made historic in a book written by Kevin Miller, my next guest. It’s called Heart of Steel. It’s based on a true story. And Kevin, we want to know the real story here because this is just phenomenal. Now, you were an air force guy, right?
Kevin: Yeah Fisher. I spent eight years in the air force serving my country. Those were great years. I had a good time. And then I woke up one morning and learned that my name isn’t actually Miller.
Kevin: You know, we thought my name was Miller and learned that it wasn’t. What happened was, my uncle was at a funeral and he got some newspapers that he then passed to us that detailed a scandal and a murder back in the 1920s. And my grandfather had changed our name from Puchalski, a very Polish name. We had no idea. My father had no idea that that wasn’t our name. So, we kind of learned it through that newspaper article. We were having an identity crisis. It was like, who are we?
Fisher: So the name was changed to Miller?
Kevin: Um hmm.
Kevin: To Miller.
Fisher: Okay. That’s a big change.
Kevin: That’s a huge change. And I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why because my grandfather took all of this to the grave. He didn’t share that information. He didn’t share a lot of information. And we believe because of the scandal and stuff that was involved, he was just trying to protect his family.
Fisher: Did you know him? When did he pass away?
Kevin: Yeah, I knew my grandfather very well. He passed away in 1986.
Kevin: But I was very close with him. He was a good man. I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did though.
Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that the way it is, you noticed that? Everybody’s got their secrets.
Kevin: Yeah, oh my gosh. He was an incredible man. I mean, they lived in a farm, a big farm in Southington, Ohio.
Kevin: And one night, my great grandfather was murdered in his sleep.
Kevin: And he was 12 years old and my frantic great grandmother sent him to get the sheriff. A big scandal unfolded, and my grandfather and his siblings found themselves in an orphanage in 1920.
Fisher: All right, wait a minute. Let’s break this down a little bit at a time. Your great grandfather is found murdered in his bed, is that right?
Kevin: In his bed. He was murdered in his sleep. He was shot in the temple was he slept.
Kevin:Yeah. And this is where the newspaper articles come in because the Warren Tribune, the newspaper at the time, chronicled this story over a course of about a week, week and a half so the story keeps getting more stuff added to it. And there’s so much detail in there it’s intriguing. It’s incredible.
Fisher: So, today of course the assumption is probably somebody close to him did it. And so, it kind of starts from there, until the next of kin are kind of taken out of the picture. Then they start to look for other people who knew him, people who didn’t know him. What was the order of things as they kind of tried to solve this case in the press?
Kevin. Yeah. The order of it, initially, what the story was, I’m trying not to give too much away, give too many spoilers away from the book, but what had happened was, my great grandmother was tied and gagged. And then she sent my grandfather to the sheriff. And when they came, she claimed there were three men that pulled up in the middle of the night, tied her up, held her at gunpoint, and then stole $600. Some account said $500 from the farm and then took off with it. And then they shot my great grandfather after they stole the money.
Kevin: That was the story that she shared with the sheriff and the law enforcement of the day. So, they started investigating this thing and breaking it down, and finding different clues. And the story starts to take a little twist here and there some revelations happen and a scandal breaks out, and that’s how my grandfather finds himself and his siblings stuck in an orphanage in 1920.
Fisher: Wow. So, mom’s out of the picture now?
Kevin: Yeah. They’re on their own. They find themselves on their own. And the orphanage that they’re in 1920, that’s really not a good place to be.
Fisher: This is like the Shirley Temple orphanage, right? You know, where everybody is mean, and they just tell them everything to do.
Kevin: Right. Yeah. They were very strict, the Catholics. They had nuns there in the day. It was a very strict orphanage. So, my grandfather decided at 12 years old he’s running away with the intent that he’s going to go find a job and come back and take his siblings out of the orphanage and take care of them.
Kevin: That’s part of what impresses me about my grandfather so much at such a young age, because he hopped a train and he made it to Chicago. He didn’t know where he was going but he ended up in Chicago. He found a job in a steel mill as a bar catcher. He lied about his age I’m sure. He was 12 going on 13.
Fisher: Sure. You got to do what you got to do, right?
Kevin: Yeah. And then he kind of gets taken in by a couple there. He kind of finds his way into bootlegging, you know, just go out and running liquor in the 1920s.
Kevin: And he makes enough money to go back and get his siblings out of the orphanage and takes care of them.
Fisher: Now wait a minute. Now how does he do that because when he left he’s only 12 and I’m sure when he goes back, why didn’t they just take him back into custody?
Kevin: Well, he kind of avoided all that. He kind of did it on the down low. He snuck them out. He was able to communicate with his siblings. He called the orphanage, and he was able to kind of arrange a method of getting them out, pulling them out of the orphanage and just stealing them away.
Kevin: So yeah. And a lot of this, in the book, I mean, I have the book as historical fiction based on a true story because I talk about all this stuff I know for a fact, and then I fill in the areas that I don’t know in order to pull the story together and to get it to flow and make it a good story.
Fisher: And I’ve done that and you’re absolutely right, you know. You have to kind of interpolate what they may have said to each other, what their motivation may have been. You know a lot of books are written that way. A lot of historical novels you know, they tell you the real story but they fill in the gaps. I don’t find anything illegitimate about that at all.
Kevin: Yeah. Because it’s like I know this event happened, but how did it happen?
Kevin: You know.
Kevin: And then find all the facts about it that I can and then give my interpretation or use my own imagination to figure out how this must have happened. Put myself in my grandfather’s shoes and in his mind basically.
Kevin: And try to imagine you know, what he must have been going through at such a young age.
Kevin: He was the patriarch of our family and everybody, all his siblings, everybody has always looked to him. He was that strong person. I know my great uncle Frank, his younger brother, when my grandfather passed, he just said, “You know, I don’t even want to live anymore because Stanley is not here.” That’s how much they loved him and adored him. He was just that strong man that never complained. He died of cancer and he never complained. When I was in the air force, I flew up to Wright Patterson for a class, so he flew me up to the cabin and I visited with him. I had no idea that he had cancer because he never complained. He would never complain about it. And it wasn’t too much longer after that that he passed away.
Fisher: So, you said at the beginning that it was at his funeral that you got these old yellowed newspaper clippings. Who handed those out to you?
Kevin: It wasn’t actually at granddad’s funeral, it was another funeral of another relative but it was some cousins, cousins of ours, cousins of my dad and my uncles, second cousins of mine, who had come up to my uncle and said, “Hey, you might want to read these articles.”
Kevin: Because they had been doing some research, a little bit of genealogy and trying to track you know, their family. And the person they had working on it discovered these newspaper articles, handed them to my uncle who then passed them on to us.
Fisher: Oh wow.
Kevin: At the time he didn’t even tell us what our name was. It was like, “Uncle Rick, what’s our name? You know? We’re having an identity crisis here. We don’t know who we are.
Fisher: Were these then online articles that had been pulled out, or were these actual original articles that had been saved?
Kevin: These were original articles and in copies. I took a visit back to Warren, Ohio a few weeks ago with my dad who is 86, and my brother to just try to see what else we could dig up. And we went to the library and we were able to pull out even more newspaper articles related and printed them out so we got more of that stuff there. And also, I wanted to find the farm.
Kevin: Because I asked my dad I said, “Hey, describe the farm to me.” I needed him to describe it but he couldn’t. But what he did was he handed me a stack of documents that he didn’t realize what all was in there, I don’t think. And in the documents, they auctioned off the farm and everything on it. I guess to help pay for the orphanage and everything else that was going on.
Fisher: Oh wow.
Kevin: So, I had an inventory, which gave me a good description of the farm. But we didn’t know the exact location. So, we went to the Trumbull County reporter’s office to find the deed. I found the deed. It didn’t have an address but it had a legal description. So, it wasn’t until I got back from Ohio, I was working with a historian at the Warren Historical Society, a great lady named Cindy. She was so intrigued by the story, she says, “We normally charge $18 an hour to do this. I’m doing this for free.”
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.
Kevin: “Just because I’m so interested in this story.”
Kevin: She sent me a plat map from 1899 because I knew the lot number was 43 off of the deed that I found. And the legal description in the plat map matched to a T.
Kevin: So, I was able to identify exactly the 98.5 acre farm. It was a huge farm.
Fisher: Yeah. Is it still there? Is it still farmland or is it all developed now?
Kevin: It is still there, and I plan on taking another trip back there because I want to go knocking on some doors over there on the property. There’s like several houses on that property now and just maybe hand them a book and say, “Hey, I’ll give you a book if you’d let me walk the property and take some videos. And by the way, here’s some history on this property that you’re living on.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. I mean what a story. Yeah. By the way, you’re in a house where my great grandfather was murdered.
Kevin: Murdered. Exactly.
Fisher: That will get somebody’s attention especially at this time of year, you know?
Kevin: Oh gosh, yes. Absolutely.
Fisher: Hey, I’m talking to Kevin Miller. He is from Burbank, California. He has written an incredible book called Heart of Steel and it’s the story of his grandfather’s incredible life, a secret life, after the murder of his father. And we’re going to continue with more here with Kevin and how he dug up some of this and some of the adventures he’s had with it, when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 303
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kevin Miller
Fisher: And we are back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And as you know, we love sharing the stories with you, things people find out about their families, how they unveiled some of these things,how you can uncover some stories about your family as well. Today, I’m talking to Kevin Miller. He’s from Burbank, California. He’s the author of a book calledHeart of Steel and it’s all about his grandfather and his amazing journey going back to a murder back in 1920. I know you kind of shoved me aside on that in the beginning here Kevin,butI’m thinking for it to have been a scandal somebody in the family had to have done this, right?
Kevin: Um, yeah. You would be right to say that Fisher.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s kind of where it’s going. My great grandfather, he was the good old boy in Southington, Ohio. He drank a lot and he was very abusive. He beat my great grandmother repeatedly. She lost six children.
Fisher: She lost six children because of this?
Kevin: Six pregnancies yeah, were lost because of his beatings. He was very violent, very cruel person. Then he started beating my great aunt Dorothy, but once he started beating the daughter then that’s kind of where the murder takes place.
Fisher: That was it for great grandma.She’d had enough.
Kevin: Yep, she had enough. She probably was thinking whatever you do to me, you do to me, but when you’re touching my child, that’s where you cross the line. So, she took care of it.
Fisher: Wow! Okay. She did it personally?
Kevin: The actual story is that she conspired with a brother-in-law, who actually took the money that she said was stolen.
Fisher: Oh, wow! [Laughs]
Kevin: They showed up on the farm in the middle of the night, drunk. The first night they got lost, so they’re kind of bumbling a little bit.
Fisher: They’re not really good at this. Fortunately, they’re not really experienced, okay.
Kevin: They weren’t good at it and the next dayshe signalled him with a flashlight, they came in and FrankOlesyski who’s charged with the murder as well as my great grandmother, his hand was shaking and she actually had to steady his hand for him to pull this off.
Fisher: Oh, my gosh! What a story! So, let’s get into some of the details because you’ve obviously done tremendous research on this story and you’ve written it as a historic novel, which I think is just great because as we talked about in the first segment, that’s kind of how you fill in some of the gaps that you’re just never going to know what were the conversations, what were the relationships, things like that you can kind of fill in. So, do you have the court files from all this?
Kevin: I do. I have quite a bit of documentation, a bunch of documents that my dad had that he passed over to me. There is documentation that details the trial of my great grandmother, the trial of FrankOlesyski. I have all the pleas. They originally charged both of them with first degree murder then they pled it down. Only Olesyski went to prison for 20 years for second degree murder. My great grandmother went to prison for manslaughter. She got, I think,five toten years and she served three.
Fisher: So, this is why your grandfather and his siblings all wound up in the orphanage. Was there ever a reunion?
Kevin: Yes they did. Once my great grandmother had gotten out of prison she was with her sister in Lisbon, and they reunited. It’s all detailed in the book, “The reunion.”
Fisher: Wow! Now, this is tough because I want to talk about your grandfather now. He was just a kid. How old was he, 12?
Kevin: He was 12 going on 13.
Kevin:He was just a young kid.
Kevin: And it’s like, you know, I’m trying to imagine, putting myself in his head and thinking, oh my gosh, my mother is gone and my father is dead.
Kevin: And my siblings, they’re in this horrible place.
Fisher: Yeah, but he’s getting into bootlegging in Chicago during the gangster era of the ‘20s.
Kevin: He’s looking to make as much money as he can, with the idea and the purpose of going back and stealing his siblings out of that orphanage and taking care of them himself, which he did.
Fisher: That’s incredible. But did he come through this period of his life?That’s a very impressionable age obviously, going into your teens.
Fisher: Was he able to walk away from it ultimately, once he’d achieved his goal?
Kevin: You know, it definitely had an effect on him because later on he started to go down that same road. As he got a little bit older, as the story moves on, he goes to Kent after he left his siblings with his mother. He meets my grandmother who’s a fiery Irish woman and he actually buys a bar, a speakeasy bar with the idea to take care of his new fiancée.
Fisher: Right. He knows the business after all. [Laughs]
Kevin: He kind of goes down the road a little bit of his dad with the whiskey and such and my grandmother kind of pulls him out of that and kind of saves him. So, the last part of the book is their love story. My wife says that’s her favourite part. She loved the whole book. She goes, that’s my favourite part though the love story was great between your grandparents.
Fisher: Because it’s obvious that he really was the patriarch of your family and the one that everybody looked up to and he would do anything for them, wouldn’t he?
Kevin: Oh yeah, absolutely. He was that sort of person everybody looked to him for things. And my great uncle Frank, when my granddad passed away, Frank’s like, “I don’t even want to live anymore.What’s the purpose of living now without Stanley?”
Kevin: Because they just looked to him for everything.
Fisher: He was the guy.
Kevin: Yeah. I got a lot of information and a lot of background information on a website they actually created for this called, HeartofSteelBook.com. There’s more stories and more information up there.
Fisher: Well, you know the thing about it is of course for people who listen to this show, they’re either just getting started in genealogy, maybe they’re more established, but it’s always interesting to hear what kind of records you found, how you went out to gather these stories and obviously, there were people who knew a few things. Is there anybody left who once they found out that you knew, spilled their guts about some of these times?
Kevin: Yes, there were some. Now, because my dad’s cousins, the daughter of my aunt Dorothy who was the oldest of the children and who was abused, she sent him a letter actually, and I actually got some good information because he handed me the letter that she had handwritten to him because she seemed to know a lot about this story from her mother and I pulled a lot of stuff out of there. A lot of the stories of the instances of her being abused, you know, are in the book because I pulled them from the letter. So, they’re actual instances that really did occur. So, I learned a lot from that based on the story and just talking to other relatives.Somebody knew a little bit, this cousin would know a little bit about that and the children of my great uncle Frank, my grandad’s younger brother, they had some knowledge of things but they kept it hush.
Kevin: I mean, they swore an oath of silence in 1921 that we’re changing our name to Miller and we’re Miller, we’re not going to tell this to our children or grandchildren and my grandfather took it to his grave.
Kevin: It took a lot of research to figure out why, scouring newspaper articles, scouring the court documents of the case, looking at old letters that were written, and just finding the property. We even went to St. Mary’s cemetery trying to find George Puchalski’s gravesite, my great grandfather. We knew it was in St. Mary’s cemetery in Warren, Ohio, but we didn’t know exactly where.
Fisher: Any sign of him?
Kevin: The records were kept in St. Mary’s Catholic Church and we found him in the records there but we could not locate the gravesite.
Kevin: We don’t know if it’s an unmarked grave, or if the sandstone has been worn since 1920.
Kevin: So, that was one thing we weren’t able to do. We just didn’t know exactly where he was.
Fisher: Wow. Well, it sounds like an amazing book. It is,Heart of Steel.It’s by my guest Kevin Miller. Kevin congratulations on doing this. I would imagine you haven’t written books before.
Kevin: No. My professional job is a web developer. I’m also a technical writer. So, I’m used to writing, but writing a novel doesn’t always translate. Writing a novel is a whole different thing.
Fisher: It’s a whole different animal, but congratulations on trying something out of your comfort zone to make sure that story lives on for generations and boy, you’ve gone through it all, court records, oral tradition, digitized newspapers, and you’ve really uncovered some amazing secrets. Congratulations! Of course the book is available through Amazon.com, or you can go to HeartofSteelBook.com as well. Thanks so much for your time Kevin.
Kevin: Thank you Fisher. I appreciate it.
Fisher: And coming up next, as you probably know by now, we’re into season 6 of BYUtv’s Relative Race and Episode 4 just aired this past weekend. And we’ve got Team Black in studio to talk about the experience and all the things that they’re learning, especially about J.D’s family. If you haven’t caught the show, check it out online, and then hear what they’ve got to say. It’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 303
Host: Scott Fisher with guests J.D. and Jenn Barnes
Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. And this has been so fun, watching Season 6 of Relative Race on BYUtv. And I'm excited to have new friends in the studio.It’s J.D. and Jenn. They are Team Black this season. And you guys were really just highlighted here on episode 4 this past week.
Jenn: We had a good, good day, that day.
J.D:It was a fun week.
Fisher: Now you guys are from Utah.
Jenn: We are from Utah.
Fisher: And where were you when you had this experience? You were in Denver, right?
Jenn: Denver, Colorado.
J.D: Denver, Colorado.
Fisher: Denver. So, you were not too far from your home area there. And J.D, just tell everybody who you got to meet.
J.D: Oh, it was a real pleasure. I got to meet my sister Angie in Denver and her family. And it was a phenomenal experience for us and an incredible day on the race.
Jenn: One of those moments that you treasure forever.
Fisher: Well, the emotion was just so strong. You can't watch that without having a whole pack of Kleenex standing by.
Jenn: Exactly. We lived it, but we still cried watching it.
Fisher: I'll bet. And isn't it interesting when you watch a TV show or anything that you video, the editing that's involved to make this thing all come together, because I'm sure you remember how it was originally.
Jenn: Yes, it was a beautiful edit. [Laughs]
J.D: [Laughs] It was a beautiful experience, but they edited it in such a way that it was just absolutely lovely. I had the great opportunity to have my sister come to our home and watch that show with us.
Jenn: So, she was with us and just sat on the couch.
J.D: And it was a tender mercy for sure.
Fisher: Wow! And she shares your dad with you who you found out early on you lost.
J.D: Correct.And she's been able to help me find a few of my dad's very best friends in high school and in life up until the point where he died.
Jenn: We were able to fill J.D in a little bit more on details and exactly where he gets all of the goodness in J.D.
Fisher: Did you get a picture though? Because we haven't seen that yet.
Jenn:I know! Are we allowed to say? I think we might be allowed to say we do end up with a picture.
J.D: And I'm going to tell you this, Fisher.This picture that you see is remarkable. We are twins.
Fisher: [Laughs] How amazing is that!
Jenn: All the way down to our grandson.
Jenn: The genes are very, very strong.
Fisher: Isn't that something! So, how did you guys wind up on the show?
J.D: It’s a fun story actually.
Jenn: We've never seen the show.
J.D: We've never seen the show. You know, 12 years ago, my grandmother had told me that my dad wasn't my biological father. And I wasn’t in a big hurry to find out who my biological father was. I was pleased with my life and I was excited about where we were at. And then I had a very interesting experience a year ago, where a strange man came up to me in a parking lot and told me that he had been speaking to my grandmother who had passed, which is always an interesting way to start a conversation.
J.D: And he said, "Listen, your grandmother wants you to know that it was a gift she gave you on Christmas, that finding your dad is going to be a gift." And so, it started me wanting to go down that path and find my father. We didn't know about Relative Race. We did our DNA, no results. It was sort of a dead end. And our daughter calls.
Jenn: We were just not smart enough to figure out DNA.
J.D: Well, I had 400 fourth cousins.
J.D: I don't know if there's a lot you can do with that.
Jenn: We had no idea where to go. Our daughter was watching TV and called us on the phone and said, "Mom, you and dad have got to do this show." And we basically put the ball in her court and said, "If you figure it out honey, we'll talk about it." And about three hours later we had producers calling us.
J.D: Calling us.
Jenn: We feel like it was absolutely supposed to happen for us.
Fisher: Wow that is absolutely incredible!
Jenn: So, we were five weeks from the day we found out to the day we were on a plane.
Fisher: Well, it’s J.D. and Jenn, its Team Black from Relative Race. And of course, we're coming up on episode five this weekend. Five more days to go after that and we'll see who winds up with the $50,000. Great to meet you guys.
Jenn: Thanks so much for having us.
Fisher: Thanks so much for dropping in. It’s good to see you.
Jenn: Thank you.
J.D: Thank you.
Fisher: And coming up next, another edition of “Ask Us Anything” on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 303
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. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. David Allen Lambert has returned for another segment of “Ask Us Anything.” How are you, David?
David: I'm doing great. How about yourself?
Fisher: All right! Let's get to the question from Milly in Lafayette, Indiana. She has emailed us, "I'm having trouble locating a record of my great, great grandfather’s Civil War pension record. He lived long enough for me to believe he should have had one. The spelling of his last name is somewhat unusual, which I think may be why I can't find it on Ancestry. Is there any other way to search? Thanks." Good question, Milly.
David: Yeah, it’s a really good question. Well, first off, Ancestryhas a T288 index. Now Fish, the T288 index was put together alphabetically A-Z for all of the Union forces. It’s fine, but you know, aliases and misspellings, it used to be hard to get to it by microfilm. Ancestry does have the Soundexout there, so you could click that and they might catch some of the misspellings. But there is another Ancestry option and that would be Fold3. Fold3 back when it was Footnote.com actually, I met with them and told them about another index that nobody had online yet. Ironically, it was to be a competition against Ancestry they thought, but Ancestry now owns Fold3 and the T289 index is online now. Now that index on Fold3 isn't alphabetical, it’s regimental. It is organized by regiments. And this regiment index goes by state, the branch of the service, inventory, artillery, etcetera,the number of that unit and then the company. Now you can drill down a lot easier through 100 plus people in a company than you can through tens of thousands of Union veterans that may have a similar name. So, if you use that index, chances are you'll see right away what pensions were given out for the members of that company because that is a cross index. And the reason they did this, Fish, is because say you and I are in the Civil War together.All of a sudden I need to get a hold of Scott Fisher and I'm going through all of these Scott Fishers. Well, which one served with David Lambert? Ah!This way you had it by the regiment, so we could go and look and see we're in the same company, so we know exactly who it is. So, we can ask for an affidavit from you.So you could see if my reason for pension was actually a pension causing event during the war or if you could speak to my good character, etc.
Fisher: Right, right, right. So you could get an endorsement basically for your application for a pension. Oh, I like that! And you know, the other thing about that I would imagine is, you could see people who were maybe from the same town you were from, as it often worked out that way with many of the companies in the war, right, or other family members that maybe you didn't know, fought with your ancestor.
David: That’s true. I mean, that whole FAN, family, associates and neighbors come into play in pension files, because those affidavits, which are often ignored by genealogists, they're like, "Er, what's that?" you know, woopy doo! But I always tell people to look for the pensions of those that gave the affidavits, because if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. And you might find a letter about your ancestor in their pension talking about a different battle that they may have not been injured at, but a college would have been.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. And you can do that for the Revolution as well.
David: You can. The Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish American War, all of those wars have affidavits within the pension file itself.
Fisher: Wow! All right, David. Thank you so much. Thank you to you, Milly. And if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, all you have to do is email us at, get this, [email protected]. Talk to you soon, David. Thanks.
David: All right, see you.
Fisher: Hey, that is it for this week. Thanks once to our guest, Kevin Miller for coming on and talking about his book, Heart of Steel, which is based on his discovery of the fact that his last name wasn't supposed to be his last name, and it was all because of a murder and a scandal in the family. And if you missed any of this, of course you can catch the podcast and listen to it all over again and share it with your friends, but of course. Don't forget once again, signup for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter.” You can support the show also through Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!