Episode 316 - Dr. Henry Louis Gates On How Genealogy Teaches Us About Ourselves / What To Expect At RootsTech 2020- How To Access From Afar

podcast episode Feb 09, 2020

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  The guys talk about a new download record on the podcast side of the show… over 63,000 for January. Thank you genies! David then shares some historic anniversaries from the past two weeks, including the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945, the start of Prohibition in 1920 and the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower. Plus Arlington Cemetery is getting a reprieve on its space problems. Hear what has happened. Speaking of cemeteries, a grave yard in Tennessee is in trouble for reusing a casket! Get the details. Another lost African-American cemetery has been found in Florida. This time its under an office building. David then talks about a DNA study you might play a role in concerning Scotland and the Shetland Islands.

Next, Fisher visits with Dr. Henry Louis Gates from the PBS show Finding Your Roots. Dr. Gates talks about the most recent episode and gets into an important discussion with Fisher about what genealogy can do to teach people about themselves. It’s a remarkable conversation by an icon in our field.

Then, if you’re wondering what’s happening at RootsTech 2020, Tyler Stahle and Jen Allen from familysearch.org take a few minutes to go through the highlights. It’s going to be a great conference!

David Allen Lambert then returns for Ask Us Anything. David and Fisher tackle a question about a dispute over an ancestral couple and where they’re buried and how to resolve it. Also, a genie wants to know about finding an account of a family story he has heard since his youth.

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

Transcript of Episode 316.

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 316

Fisher:And you have found us, 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. Great to have you along for another great show today. And I’ve got to tell you, I had my interview with Dr. Henry Louis Gates for this week. And in recent times we’ve been giving him a four-minute segment at the back of the show because that’s enough time to talk about what’s going to be happening on Finding Your Roots on PBS. And so, we got into this conversation and talking about man’s cruelty to man and how we learn about some of these things through our family history research, and it was so fascinating it went on for like 16 minutes. Well, even with that, I’ve had to edit it down, so that’s going to be one of our featured visits coming up, an 11 minutes segment with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, coming up in about 10 minutes from right now. Plus, after that, we’re going to have Jen Allen on and Tyler Stahle from Familysearch.org. They’re going to be talking about what to expect this year at RootsTech, how you can get in, who the speakers are, some of the classes you can sign up for. Now’s the time to be focused on that because a lot of these classes fill up pretty quickly, so make sure you catch that as well. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, you’ve got to do it. It’s available very easily and free through ExtremeGenes.com and on our Facebook page. We give you a blog each week, links to current and past shows, and links to stories that you as a genealogist will be interested in. Right now, let’s head off to Boston and talk to my good friend David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David.

David:Hey Fish, how have you been doing?

Fisher:I am doing great. In fact, I’ve got to tell you this. In January we passed 60,000 podcast downloads for the first time.

David:Bravo! That’s great.

Fisher:Great number, yeah, actually over 63,000. We’ve never done that before, and so I’ve got to send our thanks to everybody for talking up the show and sharing news about it with so many other people because it just continues to grow here in our seventh year. So, thanks so much.

David:Well, it’s just amazing to think that so many people want to hear us just banter on every week, but I love it.


David:I love it. We love our listeners.

Fisher:Yes, we do, and there’s a lot to talk about today too.

David:There are observations and commemorations and anniversaries. Well, let’s start with the more recent anniversaries and work backwards. The 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp of course, has just recently happened. Peeling back a little further, on January 17th 1920, the VolsteadAct occurred and that is the beginning of Prohibition.

Fisher:Oh wow! That had an effect for a long time, yeah.

David:[Laughs] My grandfather was a bootlegger and that was a tight one for him, I’m sure. Going back a little further than that, in 1845 a little organization now known as American Ancestors and the New England Historic Genealogical Society started. We were a small genealogical library and we’ve grown.

Fisher:Congratulations! 175 years.

David:Yes, it’s our big anniversary year. And of course a bigger year to know about is the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower.

Fisher:Um hmm.

David:And that leads me to our first Family Histoire News. This isn’t about the Pilgrims this time. This is actually about the Wampanoag people, and this is a story in regard to their ancestors in losing something. There’s a great story that was covered on Extreme Genes, on the website and news and this covers the search for the Wampum Belt that belonged to Metacom. Now, many of you in history circles might know the story better if I say King Philip, the King Philip’s war on Massasoit’s son, Metacom or known to the English as Philip was captured and executed and his Wampum Belt that he had was supposedly brought to England and now they’re searching for it. Actually, at NEHGS we have a video display screen with the whole story and it’s quite exciting. Hopefully, it will be found. One of the most amazing things to see in Washington is of course the monuments, but I like to pay respects at our own Arlington Cemetery. Would you believe Fish, it’s actually running out of space?

Fisher:Yeah, I’m not surprised.

David:They say in about two or three decades, without any change, it’s going to actually be filled. That is why the county that Arlington is situated in, in Virginia has approved for them to add an additional 70 acres on the southern border, which will allow for 60,000 new burials. And this would extend the cemetery’s life into the 2050s.

Fisher:Wow! That’s great. I hope they find more so they can just keep it going forever more, you know.

David:Very true. In other news, we go to Memphis, Tennessee where an awkward situation has occurred. The memorial park funeral home and cemetery were fined $1500 as a civil penalty by the Tennessee Department of Commerce. Yeah, apparently, they were reusing caskets that were previously used for other people.


David:Yeah, not that I would mind if I’m dead because I guess I really wouldn’t care. But this, the whole idea you know, they’re not rental properties.

Fisher:No, this is supposed to be a permanent condo, and when somebody else moves in that’s not good. Are they going to dump the next person too, and use it again a few years down the line?

David:Unfortunately, the stories of cemeteries reusing plots has been historically happening for decades if not centuries. I mean, look at Europe, the way they reuse cemeteries. I mean, you were over in Germany and you saw that was going on there.

Fisher:That’s a rental situation. That’s right.

David:Um hmm, yeah but generally not in America. That leads to a story in Clearwater, Florida, where another African American cemetery…there was a cemetery that existed at least until the 1950s called the St. Matthews Baptist Church Cemetery. This African American cemetery now is probably under a building in a parking lot like an office building, so this is just terrible. I mean, they were hoping that the adjacent lot archaeologists were using, the same type of radar they’ve been using to find them at the high school, remember that, not long ago, they went under the golf course?

Fisher:Yeah, then under the golf course, right.

David:Yeah, so this might be a bit harder because the site could have been destroyed. But, you know, who turns a blind eye to something like that?

Fisher:I don’t know.

David:It’s terrible. Digging a little deeper into our past, if you have Scottish ancestry from the Orkney or the Shetland Islands, they are seeking you to do a genetic gene study test. And this is another story that you’ll be able to find on Extreme Genes.

Fisher:All right David, thank you so much. Great stuff and we’re going to talk to you again at the backend of the show with another round of Ask Us Anything.

David: Perfect.

Fisher:All right, and coming up next we’re going to talk to Dr. Henry Louis Gates about the latest episode on PBS Finding Your Roots, and some of his thoughts about genealogy and how it can change the world. That’s all coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 316

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Henry Louis Gates

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show with my good friend Dr. Henry Louis Gates from the PBS show Finding Your Roots. And Dr. Gates, Season 6 happening right now. What’s the latest episode?

Dr. Gates:Well, it’s called Secrets and Lies, and it features the actors Justina Machado, Amy Ryan, and Sigourney Weaver.

Fisher: Oh wow.

Dr. Gates: It’s called Secrets and Lies because of deep, dark family stories that we unveil. Let’s start with Amy Ryan. Amy’s birth name, Scott, is Amy Dziewiontkowski.

Fisher: Oh!

Dr. Gates: But she chose her mother’s surname Ryan as her stage name. Now, we unearthed a number of buried secrets along her mother’s line, her maternal lines.

Fisher: Okay.

Dr. Gates: First, we discovered that Amy’s great grandparents named Jenny Press and Walter Ryan immigrated to America in 1907 from England as a married couple, even though Jenny was actually already married at the time to her first cousin, a man named Alfred Press whom she left behind in England.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]

Dr. Gates:[Laughs] And Jenny and Alfred had a son named Reginald, whom Jenny also abandoned when she ran off to America. And while pretending to be married in the United States, Jenny and Walter had five children together, including Amy’s grandfather Maurice. It was only after her real husband Alfred Press died in 1931 that Jenny and Walter were able to return to England and officially marry in their middle age.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Dr. Gates:[Laughs]

Fisher: That’s an amazing story.

Dr. Gates: Isn’t that amazing?

Fisher: Yeah!

Dr. Gates: And then we wanted to find out what happened to Reginald, the child Jenny had abandoned in England. He seems to have thrived. He married. He had a family of his own and he lived a long life. And his offspring are Amy’s heretofore unknown English cousins.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Dr. Gates: And you know, when she said she looked at me in shock and said, “There’s a whole other world outside our wildest dreams.

Fisher: [Laughs] It’s true.

Dr. Gates: [Laughs] Yeah, no kidding. Sigourney Weaver found out on her father’s side that her third great grandfather was named Sheffield Weaver. Scott, he was 11 years old when the American Revolution broke out in April of 1775 of course, the battle conquered in Lexington, if you remember from elementary school.

Fisher: Yeah.

Dr. Gates: His older brother Nathan enlisted in the Patriot Army, which my fourth great grandfather, a free black man, also enlisted in. But soon, older brother Nathan became too ill to serve. And according to Sigourney’s ancestor’s pension records, Sheffield the brother, at the tender age of 12 years old was called on to substitute for his sick older brother, ended up stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. When the British attempted to invade the city, Sheffield and his fellow soldiers repelled the invasion and the victory at Newport now paved the way for Rhode Island to become the first colony to sever its allegiance with England on May 4th 1776. Twelve years old, man.

Fisher: Wow! Yeah, I haven’t heard of anybody that young. Usually, if they’re that young they’re like a fifer or a drummer boy.

Dr. Gates:Yeah. We don’t know what exactly he did, but they were probably so desperate they were shoving guns at anybody’s hands that they could.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, right?

Dr. Gates:But I wanted to focus on DNA results. You know, you’re Extreme Genes. You love DNA.

Fisher: Yeah!

Dr.Gates:And our three guests have very interesting DNA. And one of the goals of the series is to explode white supremacists’ notion of purity. Well, Justina Machado is 57% European, 25% African and 12.3% Native American. And she was of Puerto Rican descent and that people in the Dominican Republic and Cuba and in Puerto Rico tend to have that kind of, we call it the rainbow convolution of the Genome, you know, European, African and Native American.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Dr. Gates: And her DNA cousin is Gaby Hoffmann.

Fisher: Oh wow.

Dr. Gates: But even if you’re 100% European, going back 500 years like Amy Ryan as is Sigourney, check out this diversity. For Amy Ryan 50% British and Irish, 14.6% Eastern European, 9.2% French and German, 2.6% Spanish and Portuguese, 2% Ashkenazi Jewish, 1.5% Scandinavian.

Fisher: Oh wow.

Dr. Gates: And 0.5% Greek and Balkan and 16% broadly North European and her DNA cousin is according to the paper yesterday the candidate leading in the Democratic primary to Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders. [Laughs]

Fisher: Bernie Sanders? Really?

Dr. Gates:Bernie Sanders, obviously through her Jewish side of her family.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

Dr: Gates: And then finally, Sigourney Weaver is 84% from Great Britain, but also 8% from Germany, 4% from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 2% from Norway and 2% from Sweden, So, what this shows us is even a kind of gene pool that was contained in the European continent, there were a lot of mixing going on.

Fisher: Oh yeah.

Dr. Gates: When the lights came down through one way or another, sometimes by choice, often by force, people were breeding with each other.

Fisher: Yeah, sure.

Dr. Gates:These DNA tests explode the notions of the centralized natural or biological fixed race.

Fisher: And purity and all that. Well, you know, when you consider, first of all, how much conquest there has been throughout history, right, people going over the lines.

Dr. Gates: Yes.

Fisher: And then what would happen is conquerors mix with the conquered.

Dr. Gates: Yeah.

Fisher: And borders change and then you’ve got natural disasters that force people out, economic circumstances and they all mix and mix, and mix again and it’s just the way it is.

Dr. Gates: It is. And you know, rape was just attendant upon war. And it remains that way. It’s horrific, it’s horrendous, it’s disgusting, but it’s true. I mean, one more reason that war no more that we should all work to abolish war. War, as strident as that sounds we need to hear it more than ever. I would like to see a course Scott on comparative genocide. And I think that our students made to study slavery, yes, but they should study slavery with the holocaust and with the Armenian genocide, with the genocide in Rwanda, and understand that genocide is a structure, a socio-political economic structure that manifests itself all over the world and all throughout the historical timeline.

Fisher: Yeah.

Dr. Gates: I had to tell Tony Shalhoub two Sundays ago, he’ll be in Season 7, his great-great grandfather was murdered in the Ottoman Empire because he was of Armenian descent and he was a Christian. He was murdered in the warm-up to the Armenian genocide, the famous Armenian genocide, so 1.5 million Armenians killed by the Turks between 1915 and 1917. But this is 20 years before in 1895 when 150,000 Armenians were murdered. And I think that that kind of teaching has got to be morbid, but teaching students that this specula like Serbia, Bosnia, Russia, 10 million people killed all over the world and all throughout the historical timeline. People have done evil things to each other just like the enslaved Africans and just like the Jewish people in Europe. And I think it would help to build links across ethnic lines, across national lines if we know that we’re all in the same boat. We’ve all suffered and all of our ancestors have been scapegoated.

Fisher: Yes.

Dr. Gates: One reason I like doing European ancestry because you understand the history of anti-Semitism when you look at the pogroms in the 1880s and the 1890s, continuously. That’s why, I think, Finding You Roots is so effective in teaching world history and American history because you’re so fascinated with these celebrities and understanding details about them. And what we do is package the detail of our ancestry in the context of historical events. So, we’re teaching as we’re explicating ancestry.

Fisher:Absolutely true. I think that’s what we like to do here. We think of it that way as people dig up their roots and they learn about their ancestors, they’re really learning about themselves, and learning about possibilities and learning about different groups and how we interact and it’s just fascinating. And it’s enlightening and it’s a joyous exercise.

Dr. Gates:It is. And take the Jewish community, they’ve suffered so much in Eastern Europe, you’d think the paper trail disappeared. With Amy Ryan, we were able to go back to her sixth great grandfather,Bartlomiej Gibenkowski, he was born in 1690 in Poland. And on her mother’s side we were also able to go back to her sixth great grandfather, named Timothy Adshead and he was born in 1742 in Shropshire, England. So, there you have a Jewish ancestry from Eastern Europe, and non-Jewish ancestry from England and we were able to go back almost contemporaneously. It shows you that their records have remained despite the paths of war and genocide. And often during wars or systematic oppression of people, the oppressors destroy the records.

Fisher: Yes. It happened in France with the Huguenots.

Dr. Gates: Yes, absolutely. But we’re finding more and more, and digitizing more and more. Every day it becomes easier to trace your family tree.

Fisher:Not easy, but easier.

Dr. Gates: Easier.

Fisher: And that’s important. And so, let me ask you this, of all the episodes you’ve done, and all the seasons, what was the reaction from the one celebrity you will never forget?

Dr. Gates: Well, Joe Madison, who is a Sirius XM radio host, his nickname is the Black Eagle, we discovered through DNA that his “father” was not his father, that his biological father was different than the man he had called father till that man died. And we have an ethics protocol at PBS. I can’t reveal in front of 2 million people without some warning, so I called him on the Saturday and said, “Joe I’ve never had to do this, but we know definitely that your biological father was a man who’s different than you think. And I said, “If you don’t want to be in the series, this is confidential information. We won’t reveal it publicly, but you’ll have to drop out of the series. I mean, if you stay in the series, we’ll have totalk about it and that’s all I can tell you about this person.” And without missing a beat he goes, “Really?” And I said, “Yes.” And he paused and then he said, “I want to be in the series and I want to know the truth.”

Fisher: He’s Dr. Henry Louis Gates. He is the host and the creator of the PBS series Finding Your Roots. It’s on Tuesday nights. Check your local listings for time. Talk to you next week.

Dr. Gates: Okay my brother, take care.

Fisher: And on the way next, what’s happening at Roots Tech for 2020? You’ll find out in five minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 316

Host: Scott Fisher with guests Tyler Stahle and Jen Allen

Fisher:And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. Very excited, RootsTech is just around the corner, coming up in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Salt Palace Convention Center, the last Wednesday in February, running into Saturday of that week. We’ve got Tyler Stahle and Jen Allen who are deeply involved in this whole project, right now with me on the line. How are you guys doing?

Jen: We’re really good, thank you. It’s nice to be here again.

Fisher: Are your families seeing you at all at this time? [Laughs]

Jen: Very little, but luckily they get it by now, every winter.

Fisher: Well, for those people who are unfamiliar with RootsTech, it is the largest family history conference in the world. It has speakers every day, and booths, and classes, and people come from all over the place. This started what now? Is this our 11th year?

Jen: This is actually our tenth year. In fact, we’re celebrating 10 years of RootsTech this year, in just a few weeks. As we kick off an awesome year and celebrate the last decade that we’ve all experienced and really turn our sights to the next decade, and beyond, on how we can continue to grow and strive together.

Fisher: Well, you think about that first year Jen, how many people attended?

Jen: In 2011 there were around two thousand people. You were there. It was a very small group of genealogists and technologists in one room. So, it definitely expanded since then just a little.

Fisher: What was it last year?

Jen: Last year, we welcomed around 27 thousand people on site, over the four days.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!

Jen: It’s still just a little.

Fisher: Yeah, just a little, two thousand to twenty seven thousand.

Tyler: Yeah, I mean, it’s just been fun to see it grow. Ten years ago genealogy kind of was just your passionate, hardcore people. But with the internet and technology advances over the last decade, it’s really made it something we can all do from our phones, from wherever we are. So, I think we contribute a lot of the growth to that and technology.

Fisher: And you think about the fact that you named it RootsTech back then, which seemed at the time real forward thinking. It’s like, well, how much technology’s really going to get involved in this? And I mean DNA it’s hardly even gotten started.

Tyler: Yeah, absolutely. DNA was a huge push and now we’re looking at handwriting recognition and AI. All these different innovations that are on the forefront, that are just going to keep driving the industry forward over the next ten years really.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely, and the guests that you’ve had over the years. You’ve had First Lady Laura Bush. You’ve had Steve Young. You’ve had Donny Osmond, some amazing memorable speeches, including Dr. Henry Louis Gates a couple of years ago. This year, you guys have lined up a football hall of famer.

Jen: [Laughs] That’s right. Tyler’s the one to speak on this because he’s more excited than most.

Tyler: Yeah, Jen can talk. I’m so excited.  Emmitt Smith from the Dallas Cowboys, if you grew up in the ‘90s watching the Cowboys you saw Emmitt Smith run up and down the NFL field. Three time Super Bowl champion. Still leads the NFL all-time leading rusher. So, we’re extremely excited to have him. He’s coming to RootsTech on Saturday, February 29th and speaking at 11 am.

Fisher: Yeah, so if you’re going to get your seat there, you want to make sure you get into the auditorium early.

Jen: That’s right. I had someone asking just this week, so what’s he going to talk about because we don’t really care about football so much? Emmitt has a really great background. He’s a family man to the soul. He’s also had his own personal experience on “Who Do You Think You Are” episode, a few years ago where he even travelled back to Africa to discover his roots and had a very humbling and cool experience for him and his wife at the time.

Fisher: Isn’t that amazing what these TV shows are doing with celebrates getting into this now.

Jen: That’s right. It’s so cool.

Fisher: Now, you’ve also got another guest with a football tie.

Tyler: Yes. [Laughs]

Jen: Yes, we do. That was not really on purpose, it was more by chance. On Thursday, we have Leigh Anne Tuohy who will be joining us. For those of you who have seen the Blind Side, it maybe been a few years ago that you’ve seen it, but brush off those cobwebs. Leigh Anne Tuohy is the real life mom that Sandra Bullock portrayed in the movie. We actually just spoke with her personally a few weeks ago. She is charming and delightful in every way and I think will just bring a knockout message. You know, when we talk about family, reallyshe can speak to those who don’t have that traditional family that we think about when we first talk about genealogy, family history. But, anyone deserves to have a story and to be remembered and she brings that message very, very clear. And yeah, a little bit of football fun as well.

Fisher: Yeah, that seems to be the ongoing theme. But not everybody is into football. Who else are your guests this year, Jen?

Jen: Yeah, so on Friday we have David Hume Kennerly, who is a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer.And he is incredible. You may not recognize his name but I promise if you Google his name you will see endless selections of his photography that he’s taken through the years. He’s very much known for capturing the moment in the moment, as it really is. You see that very, very clear in his photography. So, he’ll be talking about the story of you but through a lens and how photography is such an important element to the work that we do as genealogists. He’ll help us really capture that motivating message, as he talks from experience.

Fisher: He was the guy, as I recall, who took the picture of President Nixon with Elvis, when Elvis came to visit the White House.

Jen: [Laughs] That’s very possible. I actually don’t know that one for sure. I will confirm your idea there.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, there’s a lot of pictures he’s taken that’s for sure, and that is a big part of what we do. So, let’s talk about some of the classes this year. I was thinking about this, in the first RootsTech it was very different in terms of what kind of classes we had. This year of course, it just gets more and more into DNA, and to other things that are really kind of unique to our time.

Tyler: I’m glad you brought it up. I think, of all of the RootsTech this might be some of our most diverse class sections to choose from. There’s something for everyone. We have over 300 classes over the course of four days. If you’re really interested in DNA there’s some deep dives that you can go in there, from what are the different kind of tests available to triangulation, to having reach out to new cousins and connections. All sorts of DNA classes but also classes focused on technology, and how we use technology today to preserve our own stories, there’s social media and things like that. And then of course classes on any type of records and research methodology that you can imagine from German records to Scottish records. There’s a class for wherever your ancestors come from that can help you discover them a little bit better.

Fisher: And there’s even going to be a panel on podcasts I understand.

Tyler: That is correct.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tyler: I think you’re on it.

Fisher: Yes, I am. I better check my schedule and make sure that’s in there correctly. Yeah, we’re going to be there with the Genealogy Guys and Lisa Louise Cooke with GenealogyGems. And Amy Johnson Crow who’s got a brand new podcast going, and talk about how people can start their own.

Tyler: That’s awesome.

Fisher: Yeah. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re really looking forward to that. All right, how do people get in, you guys?

Tyler: It is not too late. Just go to RootsTech.org and you can register. It’s still a great time to register right now we’re still in our promotional pricing period. It’s the best time to get a four day pass or you can purchase a one day pass. But yeah, RootsTech.org you’ll see a bright red button at the top, you click on that and you can register. We know that not everyone can travel to Salt Lake, it takes time and effort, but we are offering what we call a virtual pass to RootsTech 2020. So, it’s a great way to get some content and learn things from the conference without the travel fees. You can learn about it at RootsTech.org, our virtual pass will give you 30 recorded classes from the conference. Thirty great sessions from some of the best presenters and you’ll get that about 15 days after the conference ends. You can log in and watch these videos at your own time, your own convenience, and whenever you want.

Fisher: All right, and the dates once again.

Tyler: February 26th to the 29th in Salt Lake City.

Jen: We end on leap day. So, you know, it’s monumental for the next four years.

Tyler: [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] That’s true. Usually, we kind of end now in early March but it’s a little different this year.

Jen: Yeah, we’re a little bit earlier. Our dates will actually kind of jump a little bit in the next two years and then we get pretty consistent after that.

Fisher: All right. And when are you guys scheduled to go on vacation?

Tyler: [Laughs]

Jen: [Laughs] Directly after.

Fisher: [Laughs] We’ll see how many of you actually do get to do it right after. Jen Allen and Tyler Stahle both from FamilySearch.org, thanks so much for your time and we’re really looking forward to RootsTech this year. We’ll see you.

Tyler: Thanks Scott. Thanks for having us.

Jen: Thank you.

Fisher: All right, we’ve got another round of Ask Us Anything coming up when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 316

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, this is the time in the show when we let you Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It’s Fisher here with David Allen Lambert, back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And we do have a question here, David, from Lorene Crandle Curtis. She says, "I connect to Crandle cousins through DNA. We are first through sixth cousins since we share the same couple, David Freeman Crandle and Carolyn Marie Symons as distant grandparents to one degree or another. Although we all believe this couple is buried in Howell, Michigan, we differ in identifying parents for David. Find A Grave sites his parents as being buried in Ontario County, New York, but one group of cousins insist this is not correct. How can we straighten out our differences in opinion? Lorene Curtis."

David: Hell!

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I would say, the first thing to rule out the winner is, does one of those two Find A Grave sites have a gravestone? [Laughs]

Fisher: Right. Yeah. That will be the easy one, but I can't imagine that that would be there, because that would be too easy.

David: Well, I mean, then there's always an angle that somebody could have put a gravestone there, 50, 100 years later assuming someone's buried there.

Fisher: Right.

David: People are moved as we have seen, you know, and it could move across state lines. So they've been buried there originally based on a burial record. So burial records are good and maybe there was a removal, and so they were technically buried in two different places.

Fisher: Sure.

David: So that's one thing to look at. I mean, of course there's obituaries, there's death notices, there's the notice after the funeral, the cards of thanks and things like that you can find that might lead a clue to where they are. I mean, looking for tax records, where was the last place that he paid taxes? Were deeds recorded stating that it was the estate of a person or is he still selling land in the property by his widow after he died in the same county? So, that puts you in the correct state. That's one thing to think about.

Fisher: Wow, that's a lot of ground to cover there, but you're right. And the thing is, when you have a big group like that, and she's talking first to sixth cousins talking about this whole thing, you would think that some folks would have dug into some of that material. And naturally where I think the group kind of has to get together and lay their cards on the table, right, "What do you have? What's your proof of this? What's your proof of that?" and when you start to collaborate, it’s not a matter of who's right and who's wrong, it’s a matter of finding out what the truth is, and you can only do that by putting together the collection of clues that are available within the family or things that people have discovered along the way, and maybe even putting your brains together to figure out, "All right, what sources do we not have yet?" many of which you've just talked about, David.

David: Um hmm, and you never know when that diary or letter or something might surface that talks about the funeral of that person. So I wouldn't give up hope and I also wouldn’t invest in tobacco and start digging up the cemetery, looking for DNA samples to confirm ifhe's the right person there either, which believe it or not, the Ask Us Anything has not got that question, but I have got that before, the question.

Fisher: [Laughs] Somebody wanted to dig up somebody?

David: They wanted to know the legal right they had to exhume a great, great, great, great, great grandfather who died in 1758 with the idea that his DNA could perhaps tell them where they came from in Germany.

Fisher: Shut up! Oh my gosh, you're kidding!

David: I said, first off, I wouldn't advise digging up the dead. Secondly, I don't think you're going to get a county to warrant your genealogical adventure for disinterring someone who doesn't even have a gravestone, so how do you know you're getting the right person?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: So, yeah.

Fisher: Yeah, I mean, that would be a problem right there, wouldn't it. I suppose you could probably compare it with a Y-Chromosome test or something, but I mean, still, that's an insane question! I can't believe it! Well, we do appreciate the question of course from you, Lorene. I hope that helps a little bit. Obviously we can't answer the question for you. But if you get together with everybody and start to sort it all out, see what you've got, see what you haven't collected yet, I'm sure in time you'll have a much better chance at answering that question. All right, and when we return in three minutes, we'll answer another listener question on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 316

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it with part 2 of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It’s Fisher here with David Allen Lambert from American Ancestors and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. And David, we've got a question from Glen Foster. He listens in Phoenix, Arizona, on KTAR Radio. Glen writes that he has a Civil War ancestor who was born in 1842 and he lived till 1944, so he's 102 years old when he died, but the family story is that on his 100th birthday, he took his first airplane ride. Glen says, "How can I find out if this story is true? It’s also said that he actually came to America from Ireland on a clipper ship." So, can you imagine that. So, from a clipper ship to an airplane throughout the course of his life for the Civil War vet. Well, that's an interesting tale.

David: Well, that must have been a thrill of his life, that's one form of transport. That's like you and I going on the space shuttle.

Fisher: Yes! Yeah, that is! Yeah, I think that's kind of comparable.

David: So I should sign up for SpaceX when I turn 100 years old now. Making a note of that right now, sign up for SpaceX. I think that the newspapers with so much of it being available online from the free, from Chronicling America, from the Library of Congress to subscription sites like Newspapers.com or Genealogy Bank. You might be able to find something, even if it’s a small enough town, the historical society might have a scrapbook or someone may have taken a photo.

Fisher: Yeah.

David:But the other thing is, It’s a relative of so many people. I wonder if our person poses a question has ever asked other relatives of their take on the story, maybe they know the airport. Maybe airports, they even have the picture or maybe another relative has a picture scrolled away somewhere.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah I would think so. And we're talking not just first cousins, but maybe second and third cousins.

David: I mean, think of how many generations are from a Civil War veteran down to now. I mean, here's somebody who lived practically 180 years ago. Their children were born in the 1860s, 1890s, sometimes 19 odds. Those people would be well over 100 and those are probably the great grandparents and great, great grandparents of some people. So that picture or story or version of that story could be anywhere.

Fisher: This ties into something I wrote about on our Weekly Genie Newsletter here recently, about the idea of doing descendant research, because descendant research can reveal so much information. That's how I cracked open my name line after eight years where I was stuck, because somebody had a note that his great grandmother had left to his mother. I mean, there's so much information among the other descendants. And unfortunately, I think now we take that so much for granted, because they're so easy to find using the internet, using Ancestry, using all kinds of sites to track them down. We don't like to reach out and contact or people don't even reach out to respond back to us sometimes. But nonetheless, it’s really worth your effort to try to find as many people as you can among your descendants and to see if hey if they've got something related to that. That would be a great picture, wouldn't it?

David: I think that would be a wonderful one, especially if he was in his old uniform and waving out of the cockpit window with the pilot. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, in my past life as a morning radio host, I actually helped a 102 fulfill her dream on her birthday to fly in a plane for the first time.

David: Ohhh.

Fisher: And it was just an amazing experience. And she was born exactly 100 years before my youngest daughter and I got a picture of my little girl when she was four, sitting in this woman's lap when she was 104. So that's kind of a rare picture, you know.

David: That really is cool. I did a similar thing with my daughter when the woman asked her, "How do you put on your shoes?" "Well, I tie them." She was, "I had to use to have to use a button hook. And if you missed one, you had to do it all over again."

Fisher: [Laughs] Great stuff and a great question, Glen. Thanks so much. And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can always write us at, get this, [email protected]. David, thanks so much. We'll talk to you again next week.

David: All right, talk to you then, my friend.

Fisher: Hey, that's it for this week! Thank you so much for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the show, got a little out of it, a few laughs and hopefully a lot of information to help you in your journey as you discover your family's story. Thanks to Dr. Henry Louis Gates for his insight on the benefits of family history research. And to Tyler Stahle and Jen Allen from Family Search talking about all that's going to be going on at RootsTech in just a few weeks. Thanks for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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