Episode 322 - Coming Soon: Technology to Test Hats, Hair, Glasses, and Envelopes for Ancestral DNA

podcast episode Apr 05, 2020

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. This is the first episode fully recorded and edited from Fisher’s home studio in isolation. Fish talks about his recent illness that took away his voice for a time. (NOT believed to be coronavirus.) David then makes a fascinating observation about the time we’re now living in. Fisher and David then compare the genealogically worthless 2020 census to what was asked in 1920. In Family Histoire News, David shares the news about a fabulous heirloom in an old Bible recently picked up by a collector. Hear what it is and what the new owner has done with it. David reports we have lost another Pearl Harbor survivor. At 98, he had quite a job on December 7, 1941. Find out about his story. An old family graveyard has been uncovered in Maryland. Hear how it was found and what plans are in place for the site. Finally, spell check has led to one genie uncovering a very sad family tale from early last century.

Next, Fisher begins the first of a two part visit Karra Porter, one of the founders of a new lab for DNA analysis. The lab was scheduled to open in April as you’ll hear in the segment, but this was recorded before the social isolation began. It will be delayed. Kara explains how we’ll soon be able to possibly obtain ancestral DNA from old hairbrushes, envelopes, hats, jewelry, glasses… all kinds of heirlooms. She will explain some of the concerns and how Keepsake DNA plans to address them, and also how we can help her determine the percentages of success for certain items and specific time periods. The potential is beyond exciting!

David Lambert then returns for a couple of questions on Ask Us Anything.

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

Transcript for Episode 322

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 322

Fisher: And welcome to another edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show 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. Well, I hope you’re doing well genies. It’s been a while since we talked. Well, I couldn’t talk for the last couple of weeks, and came down with a nasty bug right after RootsTech actually. My wife has gotten it now as I’ve gotten on the mend, but she has been tested, so no COVID here, just the nasty flu bug that we don’t hear a whole lot about but that’s affecting a lot of people as well, but it’s great to be back with you. We’re actually doing the show for the first time from my home studio as we’re socially isolated. It’s great to have you along. David Allen Lambert is back of course, from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. He is the Chief Genealogist there. David, how are you buddy? You’re staying well?

David: I’m doing well. I’m actually at home with my family and staying out of Beantown for a little while.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But I want to say, for the first time in history Fish, we can actually help save the human race by lying in front of the television and doing nothing at all.

Fisher: Doing nothing at all. This is it. I mean, past generations have been asked to bear arms and go out and defend the country. All we’re asked to do is just stay home and let our 401ks crash, but you know, that’s a whole other story there. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: So, anyway I’ve done a couple of things in isolation. First of all, as this was just first coming on, I actually broke open a line, and I’ve written it on my blog on our “Weekly Genie Newsletter.” And then at the back end of it, I actually found some DNA matches that exposed another line of descent from one of my revolutionary soldiers, so it’s given me a little something to do there. Oh, and then there was the experience, Dave, of the 2020 census. [Laughs]

David: Oh yeah, that’s pretty disturbing, isn’t it?

Fisher: Oh my gosh!

David: There’s less information on this than say, comparatively with, say, I don’t know, the 1850s census which had more? 

Fisher: It’s strange. It’s bizarre, but you know, I’m thinking, 72 years from now my grandkids and great grandkids are not going to be anxiously awaiting the publication of this particular census. I mean, just get on it. Get it done. You’re require to do it and we’ll kind of go from there. By the way, I’ve got to mention I’m very excited because at RootsTech we haven’t had much chance to talk about it because well, I couldn’t talk. But Karra Porter is going to be on the show today for two segments.

David: Oh, great.

Fisher: And she is the one who is putting together a place to analyze our heirlooms for DNA. And we’re talking about envelopes and hats and jewelry and all kinds of things. They’re just getting started trying to figure out exactly you know, what the success rate might be for various items and how far back they can go. I recorded this of course before everything happened and they were talking about opening on April 25th. That is obviously not going to happen as a public event in all likelihood so, keep that in mind. But we’ll be getting to that coming up in just a little bit. I think it is going to be a fabulously fascinating thing, something we can all look forward to as time moves on because obviously, we just keep getting better and better with what we can analyze. Wouldn’t that be something to have a hat from a great grandfather analyzed for their DNA?

David: My grandfather died four years before I was born. I have his glasses and I’d love to have people have a look at those.

Fisher: Well, exactly. And if you haven’t put them on your own nose, it’s likely to still have his DNA there.

David: That’s true. So, the rule of thumb is never clean your glasses. [Laughs]

Fisher: Exactly, yeah.

David: Well, you never quite know what you’re going to find when you open a book that you bought at a yard sale. Now, in this case someone found in an old family Bible, which is of course, genealogically valuable in its own right, they found a World War I draft registration card for Clem Clair Hubbard of Toledo, Ohio. And with the aid of a local genealogical group in the library, they were able to pinpoint it and now the card is going back to Toledo.

Fisher: Isn’t that cool? Yeah, I believe they went right to the genealogical department and said, hey, help me find descendants of this person and they returned the draft card and it’s 100 years old. That is just so awesome, especially for the younger members of that family to have.

David: Well, you know, moving ahead with our stories, my own homestead of Massachusetts, we lost a 98-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor, Emery Arsenault, who was on a radar station located at Pearl Harbor, so another one of the boys from Pearl is no longer with us.

Fisher: Right, and a radar operator no less, so he was one of the first to know something was coming in.

David: That is very true. Well, you know, one of the things that radar does is ground-penetrating radar. And out in Bloomfield Manor in Center Gold, Maryland they have used this to find graves. In fact, they found eleven of them. And this is for a family of Edward Port. They can tell from a 1916 photograph that there was a little fence and some gravestones. Now, the fence and gravestones aren’t there, but the graves still are, and ground-penetrating radar found them.

Fisher: Wow! And so, they’re hoping to take the home that’s right there in front of it and restore it as a historic landmark. That is going to be really fun to see what happens with that once things get back to normal.

David: Exactly. Hey, how many times have they misspelled Fisher?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: I mean, I’m sure they’ve added a C in there when they don’t.

Fisher: Oh, I get that all the time. They want to make me a German and I’m a British man, you know.

David: [Laughs] Well, for genealogy, one of the tips I always say is misspell the name, and that’s what one person did. And he was able to find that he had an Aunt Ruby that he didn’t know about based upon looking for someone else and then he found that he had an Aunt Ruby but he also found that he family had a child named Ruby who died back about 1908 and was only about five years old. So, sometimes misspelling names can lead to finding other things. He did this by finding a tree on Ancestry that listed this family member that he didn’t know about.

Fisher: Isn’t that fun?

David: It’s always great to connect with people, even if it’s with DNA and those shaky leaves occasionally.

Fisher: Absolutely.

David: You know, as I was saying Fish, I’m actually home for probably the near future, but American Ancestors and NEHGS, we’re still open in a way, every Tuesday through Saturday from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, go to American Ancestors, you can find the link for our chat service, you can go in and ask us a question, maybe we can mull over it together, some suggestions for you to help you with your research because there’s a lot of free genealogical time on your hands.

Fisher: Exactly. David thanks for the chat. We’re going to talk to you later with Ask Us anything. And coming up we’re going to talk to Karra Porter. She is starting a new service that is going to help all of us finding DNA on some of the heirlooms you might have around the house. What can you do to help them to determine the accuracy of their service, and what might this wind up doing for you? You’re going to find out in two segments starting in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 322

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Karra Porter

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and there’s just so much still to talk to you about from RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah at the very end of February. And I think perhaps the booth that really intrigued me the most was the one from Keepsake DNA. And I don’t even know where to begin with this, but that’s why I had to get Karra Porter on the line. She is one of the people behind it working with the Utah Cold Case Coalition for law enforcement help, but they’re also making some space in this new DNA lab to help family history researchers. Hi Karra, how are you? Welcome to the show.

Karra: Hi Scott. Hey, thanks for having me.

Fisher: This is unbelievable to me, and obviously there are still a lot to be proven. And let’s just start first of all talking about your background. You’re an attorney, and yet you’re making all this spare time to work with DNA, in large part of the Utah Cold Case Coalition.

Karra: You know, that’s how it started. The lab originally was being created just for forensic type things. But then, frankly, I have a passion for the genealogy part of this. I mean, I’ve been doing genealogy for 45 years and even to the point of having my mother’s biological father exhumed.

Fisher: Oh wow, really?

Karra: Yeah. Actually, he died in 1963. He is a cold case homicide victim in Wyoming.

Fisher: Oh.

Karra: And so I got a court order and had him exhumed for DNA testing for the genealogy part of it.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: Then I couldn’t find a lab to test it for genealogy. You know, there were labs out there that were willing to test it for crime purposes or something.

Fisher: Sure.

Karra: But that was not my interest. And that’s really what led to the formation of Keepsake DNA.

Fisher: And what did you obtain from your grandfather?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Karra: We got a piece of femur and the molar, and he had not been buried very professionally, I’ll just put it that way.

Fisher: Okay.

Karra: But we did get that. And even then I had to pay somebody from Arkansas crime lab to come down and get that. And I thought there just has to be a better way for genealogists. And that was four years ago and since then we have been working on the genealogy side of the DNA testing.

Fisher: Right. Now, this grand opening of your lab is coming in Utah in Salt Lake City as I understand on April 25th, right?

Karra: Yes. It will be a big bash.

Fisher: It sounds like it’s going to be because obviously there are a lot of law enforcement people who are really looking forward to this. How much of the lab is going to be devoted to law enforcement and how much to the genealogical side for the rest of us?

Karra: You know, it kind of depends on how many genealogists want to do this. We’re committed. I mean like I said, my mother and I have been doing our genealogy for 45 years so if we get enough interest from the genealogy market, we’ll probably just add staff rather than cut back. But I do want to make one thing very clear, although the lab started because there was a need in forensics, there is no sharing of information, there’s no police, law enforcement do not have access to the genealogy part. It just so happens that we had a lab in place for forensic things in law enforcement, and then now we are adding a genealogy component to it. Like the machine is in a different place. It’s a different process. I don’t want people thinking that if they send their grandpa’s hat in, that it’s somehow going to end up in Codis.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] That makes sense. Well, I’m glad you clarified that because I’m thinking you know, I don’t know how many people would be too anxious to send in grandpa’s femur and molar. So, let’s start about some of the things you feel that you’re going to be able to create a genome for some earlier ancestors.

Karra:  You know, the list is encouraging to us. We knew that we’re going to be dealing with degraded samples so we did have to purchase additional equipment. I mean, we purchased the world’s most sophisticated technology and we did not need that if this lab had just limited itself to law enforcement or whatever.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: So, we did that because it has a better success rate on degraded DNA. And of course, obviously we’ve spent a lot of time talking to the lab director, and the recruits at this lab are all crime lab people, which we thought would be extremely helpful in getting DNA from unusual or difficult sources, you know, like you have to do with genealogy.

Fisher: Sure. Well, in the last few years we’ve had a lot of talk from different companies about getting DNA from envelopes and flaps. And some have worked well, and some not so well, but you’ve got kind of an upgraded system with this that gives us a lot of hope, doesn’t it?

Karra: Yeah we do. A year ago I wouldn’t have even tried this. At least in our perception, the technology was not there yet. And then all of a sudden this technology became certified, became available. There is a new panel that’s going to be coming out that is tied specifically to GEDMatch’s parameters.

Fisher: Oh wow.

Karra: I mean, which will make it extremely sensitive in a good way.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Karra: So now though, we know that this can be done but this is pretty new. Like I said, a year ago we wouldn’t have tried this.

Fisher: Sure. At RootsTech I was talking with you and Blaine Bettinger and he’s very interested in this. And for those who don’t know Blaine, he is one of the nation’s foremost DNA specialists. And obviously, we all want to know what percentage of likelihood for success are we going to have if we were to send in an envelope or we send in a hat, or something with a piece of jewelry maybe that was kept in grandma’s ear and still has DNA on it. And that’s going to be a really interesting process as you put it all together. Because I know you don’t even have prices figured out yet because you’ve got the equipment coming in, and you’ve got to know what those success rates are so people know what the risk are because it’s probably going to be pretty expensive, right?

Karra: You know, and the thing about the pricelist, we frankly just did not give the lab director enough time on that. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laugh]

Karra: I mean, I guess it will depend on your definition of expensive. It’s not easy, like let’s say spitting into a tube and mailing it off.

Fisher: Sure.

Karra: There’s a process that has to be followed. And for some people unfortunately, they may be priced out of it. But we’re going to do our best to keep it reasonable. And with respect to the success rates, I think it’s important also to be transparent. Plus the lab guys, I mean they’ve gotten useable DNA off of a huge long list of things and so they’re pretty comfortable. But we thought what we ought to do, and we talked with Blaine about this, and with you at RootsTech, was we thought you know what we need to do is we need to take these envelopes and do it by decade.

Fisher: Right. That’s a great idea.

Karra: Yeah. And then we’ll post the results. One thing we haven’t tried is to see how far back we can go. But we’ve now ordered enveloped back to the mid 1800s and so we’re going to go back decade by decade and we’re going to post. The way that we can do it is if you don’t mind me just very briefly explaining?

Fisher: No, go ahead.

Karra: We want kind of the souped up panel. The one that is being customized for GEDMatch.

Fisher: Right. And that’s coming soon?

Karra: Yeah that’s coming soon. You know it’s being made by Verogen, which of course bought GEDMatch.

Fisher: Okay.

Karra: So, we’re just waiting for that and we’re in fairly constant contact with them. But what we are able to do while we’re waiting for the supped up panel is we are still able to go through all of the steps up to that point to determine whether or not we can get enough DNA to get a profile. So, what we do is let’s say we take an envelope or a hairbrush or whatever, and it goes through a serology process, and I know people are going to say that means blood.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Karra: But in the DNA context it also means that you’re identifying where the DNA is, and then we will chemically extract the DNA, and then you run it through what they call quant (quantification) and the quant process tells you three things: it tells you, do you have the right about of DNA to get a full profile.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: Because you can’t have too much actually. Too much is a problem.

Fisher: Really?

Karra: You need to have it within a range.

Fisher: Okay.

Karra: Now if you have too much, you can save some of it but the machines that run the profiles needed to be within a particular range. So, this quant machine will tell us, let’s say for each envelope from 1940 or whatever, it will tell us how much DNA, and if it’s the right amount it will tell us if there was male DNA in there, and it will tell us the degree of degradation of the DNA.

Fisher: Okay. And if it’s degraded, can you do anything with it?

Karra: Yeah, you still can. But if it says it’s really degraded, then we might have a problem. If it’s just slightly degraded or somewhat degraded then we should still be okay.

Fisher: Okay. So, this for a step then is basically to figure out whether you can get enough DNA to create the profile. And then when you get this new wowy panel in, you’ll be able to run it and actually create the profile,

Karra: Yeah. I mean we could create a profile now, but it would not be the customized panel that works for GEDMatch.

Fisher: Okay.

Karra: So, there’s really not a lot of point to it because our guys can tell from the quant process if they will be able to get a profile from it.

Fisher: Right. And they’re basically trying to show you because they’re pretty confident and you want to see it obviously because you’re the one putting yourself out there to make sure that this thing is successful enough to justify getting people to share their precious items.

Karra: Exactly. I mean they’re pretty confident almost to the point of arrogance about it. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Karra: And I was like okay, I know that. But I want to see it, and more important I want to put the figures on there. 

Fisher: Sure.

Karra: And so we’ve bought a bunch of envelopes because that’s been a very popular request.

Fisher: How’d you do it?

Karra: You know what? We just bought them off of eBay.

Fisher: Nice. Were they in big bunches?

Karra: Yeah. Different lots, different mass numbers of envelopes.

Fisher: Okay.

Karra: Because we wanted to make this a fair sample, and things that affect DNA include like how they’ve been stored so we wanted to make sure we didn’t have all of them from somebody who preserved them perfectly, and we wanted to make sure we had them from different parts of the country.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

Karra: Different families. I think you probably know this, but some people, it’s called shedding.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Karra: Some people are shedders and some aren’t. I mean, have you ever read the study about they had a water bottle and it was clean and everything and then they had one person grasp the water bottle for 30 seconds, and then hand it to a second person who held on to the water bottle for 30 seconds, and then they handed it to a third person who held the water bottle for 30 seconds and they did that using a lot of different people. And in some cases the DNA of all three would show up, and there were some where the DNA of the second person didn’t. But the DNA of the first and third persons did.

Fisher: Interesting. Okay. We’ve got to take a break Karra. We’ve got a lot of ground still to cover here because you’re going to give Extreme Genes listeners a chance to help you with the test and I think that’s going to be very fun. We’ll be back with Karra Porter and more about Keepsake DNA when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.  

Segment 3 Episode 322

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Karra Porter

Fisher: Oh, look at this list here, jewelry, hair, hats, eyeglasses, hearing-aids, false- teeth, envelopes, I mean the list goes on and on. Hey, it’s Fisher. It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And I’m talking to Karra Porter, she’s an attorney. She’s one of the people behind Keepsake DNA that had a booth at RootsTech. She, Blaine Bettinger, and I have been talking about the opening of their DNA lab. It’s going to be largely for police work. Although, the police work is completely separate for the other side which is Karra’s passionate side, genealogy. And Karra, we were just talking about all you have to do to get ready for this and to double check the effectiveness rate as we go forward. So, I know you need stuff. What can our listeners help you get and what should they expect, and what should they not expect?

Karra: Yeah, and what we’re doing right now, and if I can just clarify one thing, our lab director has been on board since last October getting all of the equipment lined up and all of those things. The April date is the date we’re open to the public.

Fisher: April 25th.

Karra: Right. The lab has been running samples for a long time. It’s just that now we’re going to make it available to the public on DNA day, April 25th. But what we’re going to do in the meantime, because we want people to have some transparencies and there are no guarantees, we’re going to actually test certain numbers of items like for each decade of envelopes for example. And of course we’ve got plenty of envelopes to go around on that. We’re going to test just randomly provided like hair brushes, locks of hair since those don’t have roots.

Fisher: Right. Can you do that without roots? It’s always been, you’re got to have the root.

Karra: It is harder and that is one thing that we’re still checking on. It can be done. We just want to make sure that it can be done in a way that is not a cost prohibitive. 

Fisher: Hmm.

Karra: Because that may require the use of some additional equipment.

Fisher: I see.

Karra: That’s one reason why we didn’t have the complete pricelist yet because there are different machines. But we’re going to test x number of baseball caps. So, what we’re in the process now is trying to get enough of each of the subjects so that we can post it on the website, and tell people, we tested 12 baseball caps or whatever, and here’s what the results were.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: We tested 12 envelopes from the 1880s and here’s what the results were.

Fisher: Okay. That will be fascinating.

Karra: Oh, yeah.

Fisher: So, what all do you want? You don’t need the envelopes because you got most of those in big batches off of eBay and you’re trying to get a variety of things as we spoke about in the first segment. What can people help you with and what would they get out of it?

Karra: Well, aside from helping mankind? No, I’m just kidding.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Karra: What we need help with are things that are a little bit harder to come by locally. The number one most difficult thing to come by is human bones, for obvious reasons.

Fisher: Sure.

Karra: But I’ll just come out and say it, okay, maybe it’s a little bit ghastly, but like if you have cremated remains in an urn, there is often bone left in those ashes.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: We need to test those and that’s hard to come by, like again, obviously. 

Fisher: Sure.

Karra: So, if somebody can provide for us a piece of piece of human bone and we can confirm where it came from, then once we get the supped up panel, the one that is specific, we would actually run that profile.

Fisher: You’d run the profile just to see if it matches up.

Karra: Yeah. We would run the whole process on the human bone, as long as we’re satisfied that it’s human, which we can tell from the DNA testing, and as long as we’re satisfied where it came from. We don’t want anybody going and digging in a graveyard. Not that there’s no reason that you would.

Fisher: [Laughs] No. So, you need that, what other things could you use to help test the effectiveness of this process?

Karra: Well, like for example, jewelry that hasn’t been handled. For example, a ring where the inside of the ring has remained untouched, maybe it’s only been handled on the outside.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Karra: That would not be destroyed by any kind of testing. So, we need things like that, or an earring for pierced ears, if that hasn’t been worn.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: We’re hoping to get enough hats locally. But we want two different kinds of hats. We want baseball caps and we want like cowboy hats or whatever, like my grandpa used to wear.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]

Karra: Because there are different linings there.

Fisher: Right. The lining is the key for hats I would imagine.

Karra: It is. That’s typically your best source.

Fisher: Okay.

Karra: So, we need those kinds of things. We need, I’ve got to tell you, hearing-aids.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Karra: That is something that is very helpful, dentures, and we were sort of pleasantly surprised at how many people actually have that for their parents or whatever.

Fisher: What about toothbrushes?

Karra: Toothbrushes, what we really like is something that isn’t just brand new though. We would like something that is kind of older.

Fisher: How old?

Karra: Well, I mean the older the better frankly.

Fisher: Sure.

Karra: Because you know, what we’re dealing with genealogy DNA is degraded or older samples.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: So, it wouldn’t really help for somebody to go buy a toothbrush and the use it and then send it to us. That would be unhelpful.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah. Well, we’re not going to have anybody send anything to you without checking in first, right?

Karra: That’s true. This is how I’m foreseeing it here. We’re trying to see what we can get locally just to have enough numbers, so that we can say we’ve run x number of samples. There’s going to be some things that fill up pretty fast. If somebody has something out there that seems like it would fit in what we’re talking about. The reading glasses, the eyeglasses, if you haven’t handled the part that rests on the bridge of the nose.

Fisher: Right. And maybe because it doesn’t fit you, you wouldn’t even try, right?

Karra: Yeah, sure and also prescription glasses. Most people don’t wear each other’s prescription glasses, at least not extensively. So, if somebody were to email us at, [email protected] and tell us what they had, here is what they would get if we wrote back and said, “Oh, yeah, please get us that.”

Fisher: Sure

Karra: We would go through the first process. The process of identifying, extracting, and measuring the amount of DNA, that’s the first phase anyway.

Fisher: Okay.

Karra: So, that part would be on us, and normally that is a cost that we have to charge because it’s chemicals and staff, and all that.

Fisher: Sure, of course.

Karra: So basically, we would then be able to say we have enough to run a profile. So, what do you want next?

Fisher: Sure.

Karra: That kind of thing. So, that would save people the cost of the first part, plus they would know if we thing we could get a good sample.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. It kind of removes some of the risk, doesn’t it?

Karra: It really does. Some of these things are going to be hard to get but we’re really hoping for it. We had a lot of people with very interesting items. So, even if you haven’t heard us describe what you guys have, I’m talking to your listeners.

Fisher: Right.

Karra: And you think, I don’t know, is this too weird? Please email us.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Karra: I have a bloody couch cushion that a murder victim’s mother brought in, just to say, I didn’t know if you’d ever need to do anything with this. Well, now I’m going to have that tested.

Fisher: Wow. That’s incredible. Well, and this is of course part of your love for law enforcement. Once again, we need to re-enforce what you send in and do with this genealogical side of this lab has nothing to do with law enforcement. That’s a completely separate branch of this lab and it’s really important that people understand that going forward.

Karra: Correct.

Fisher: So, once again, the email to reach out to Keepsake DNA is, [email protected] and just describe what you’ve got. If it’s something that they’re going to be interested in they’ll let you know. They’ll let you know how to get it there. They’ll again review what you get, what you don’t get. This is just the beginning. And basically, you’re helping Karra and those involved with this lab to basically calibrate what they’ve got. So that they can tell everybody exactly how effective it’s going to be and what we might expect from it. And I look forward to doing some of this to find out exactly what this does because imagine if you’ve got a parent tested. You know, a parent who’s been deceased for many years or even a grandparent and you come up with their Gnome profile. You could come up with matches that nobody living now could possibly match.

Karra: Oh, I’ll tell you, I’ve got my grandmother’s envelopes sitting there right now.

Fisher: Ready to go.

Karra: Ready to go. I do just want to mention one thing about the fact that this lab has clients who are law enforcement. At this point, I don’t think you could sustain a lab just on the genealogy.

Fisher: That’s right.

Karra: If it turns out that we can, then it will become a separate lab. And instead of hiring them to do this, whatever, it would just be a separate lab. But you wouldn’t be able to do this unless the lab had other clients, you know what I mean?

Fisher: Absolutely.

Karra: She’s Karra Porter. She’s one of the people behind Keepsake DNA. They were featured at RootsTech. The countdown is on till April 25th when you have your grand opening in Salt Lake City Utah, for the public. That’s going to b great fun.

Karra: Yeah. I hope to see you there.

Fisher: Karra thanks so much for coming on. And we will be talking a lot I think through the coming year.

Karra: Oh yeah, for sure.

Fisher: David is back as we do another round of Ask Us Anything, next.

Segment 4 Episode 322

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're back on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it is time once again for Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, our question today comes from Jenny in Pawcatuck, Connecticut. She says, "Okay guys, what have you got to keep us busy for the next several months?" I think she's thinking straight. What do you have, David?

David: One of the projects that you might look at in your hometown, especially in New England and Connecticut being from Pawcatuck, there were probably people that were in an alms house. These are people that really don't have stories. And I've taken it upon myself in my hometown in Massachusetts to research them. A lot of them don't have marked graves, but they may have a record, maybe money was supplies for their care or there was, you know, food or clothing given to them. But actually, in a lot of places, you'll find pauper rolls, where the states are actually supplying money to the towns for care.

Fisher: Oh wow!

David: So, say for instance you and your wife, Fish, had taken in an elderly person who lost her husband and she had no one to care for herself. Whatever supplies or nursing or doctoring or food or board, room and board that you gave her, you can then make a letter to your town selectmen. The town selectmen at the end of the year or at the end of the quarter would contact the state and they would make a request for money for "state paupers." Now, obviously you had to set a criteria to be a pauper, and of course that's going to be different in every state and different eras, but it is one way of kind of giving back to your community. I mean, and as a genealogist, if we take our skills and adopt a community project, obviously not going out to the cemeteries and checking gravestones or going to the public library doing things, things we can use with the resources we already have. It may be an online database or maybe it’s something that you've not even thought of and you want to let us know and we can pass along to somebody else.

Fisher: Exactly. You know, there is going to be a lot of time now on our hands, because who knows how long this thing's going to happen, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how much we can actually accomplish over the next several months. I mean, you might be able to do work that would have otherwise have taken you years to do. And hopefully we can all make it fulfilling for one another.

David: You know, one of the other things, Fish is that there are so many indexing opportunities at NEHGS, and American Ancestors has volunteer requests to index things as well as Family Search.

Fisher: Yep.

David: There's lots of projects that can keep you busy.

Fisher: Yeah, that's a really good point. And if you haven't ever done it, it’s really easy to do and they've got instructions for it right on the website, FamilySearch.org and at AmericanAncestors.org. And you know, it just helps so many other people. And sometimes you can do projects from towns that you have lots of people in and you can find interesting stuff there.

David: Um hmm, I did that for New Hampshire census earlier with Family Search and I got to check the county in part of the state that I wanted to do and I did it.

Fisher: Wow!

David: The other thing that you might consider doing is social media of course works for social distancing. Create a group of Facebook, maybe one for your hometown where people that can gather together and maybe virtually work on the project together, you know and you might be able to find there's a lot of free time with your neighbors. And when this is all said and done and finished, you can all get together and celebrate what you've created, which I think is something to look forward to.

Fisher: That's a really neat idea, too. Wasn't there somebody recently who was helping people put together family history websites that they could all collaborate on?

David: That's true. There's one called Name and Place. It’s based in England and they're having an American component to it. So, NameAndPlace.co.uk, you can adopt a community. And there is a bit of a fee, but it’s not very much. And hey, think of all those McDonald meals you can't pay for anymore, because you can't really go to McDonalds. You can go and do some family history with it.

Fisher: All right, let's take a break. And when we return, we'll continue with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 322

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here with David Allen Lambert from AmericanAncestors.org. He is the Chief Genealogist there of course at NEHGS. And we've got an email here of course, David from Jack Milford, he's in Charleston, South Carolina. He says, "Fish and Dave, I was planning this spring to go up to New Hampshire to investigate more about my ancestor's land. He originally bought 600 acres, but by the time he died in his 80s, it was down to like 60 acres. How do I find out more, since I can't go travelling anytime soon?"

David: Well, even with the coronavirus, this can be done from home. So, you still want to get a chance to get up to New Hampshire, it’s really pretty. So, maybe in the fall when the leaves are, or it might be more of an acceptable time for you to go. However, between now and then, you go to FamilySearch.org and if you go to the catalogue search, you can put in the county in New Hampshire that you're looking for. Now they're going to have all sorts of things, probates, they're going to have court records, but in this case, you want land records. Now, the one thing about the land records, because they are so large, there's really not a lot of collections that are already indexed, so you kind of have to browse through the images. If you don't have an account on FamilySearch.org, it’s very easy to sign up and get one for free. From there, you'll be able to have image access. Now, a lot of things on Family Search as you know Fish, has to be at the library or at an affiliate library, not so much with deeds.

Fisher: Right.

David: Deeds seem across the board. I don't know if you've noticed it, you can get them without having to be at an affiliate, so I can check my own county's deeds right from home. So, you're going to go through the grand tour, indexes and that's going to tell you when your ancestor sold land and granted when they purchased land. The other thing that's out there, people actually look at the deeds itself, download them, print them off. You can probably figure out how that large amount of land got chiseled down to the amount that was there when he died. There are other things, newspapers. Newspapers have land sales. They have sheriff sales when someone looses their land because of death. There are things on there that may even surprise you, maybe your ancestor's barn burnt down. So you can find stories you may have never even thought were possible by searching on your ancestor plus the community that he was living at. The other thing in New England are poll tax. You had to pay a tax based on your property holdings, and on the poll tax, a lot of these lists are actually published. Now with Archive.org, a lot of different places across the country are putting their old town reports, their poll tax books up online. And who knows, maybe the local historical society has a website or even a Facebook group that you can reach out for somebody who can do a random act of genealogical time on your behalf while you're stuck at home and they're out there.

Fisher: Boy that's really good advice, that's good stuff! And by the way, most of the stuff at Family Search that requires you to be at a library is from overseas. And that's because of, you know, the protection that they want for their people over there and privacy that type of thing. Apparently, they just like to know who's looking at these records, and that's why you have to have an actual login now for Family Search, which wasn't the case in the past. But hey, great question, thank you very much to Jack. And David, thank you for the answer. I think it sounds great. And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email us anytime at the very strange email address of [email protected]. David, stay well, and we will talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us.

David: You too and all of you out there.

Fisher: Hey, that is a wrap on this week's show. Thanks so much for joining us and thanks so much to everybody who's been reaching out to me and checking in on me during my recent illness. It's been a little bit of a struggle, but not COVID and that's the most important thing right there, but in the weeks and months ahead, we're going to hopefully come up with lots of stories to inspire you, to inform you to help you in your genealogical journey as we continue through this crazy period. I mean, who's writing the script for all this!? Hey, if you haven't signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, there's more information and more links for you there that's you'll find of interest, signup at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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