Episode 324 - The FAN Club Principal Cracks Open Brick Walls the Possible Location of Your Lost Civil War Pension Records RevealedApr 19, 2020
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with the story of the oldest living COVID-19 survivor. Coronavirus isn’t the only thing he’s gotten through! Then, a great grandfather who’s nearly 90 is going to be a father again in July! Hear who this man is and more of the remarkable family dynamics. Then, Smithsonian has a great article on ExtremeGenes.com about ordinary items that go way back, and some unique stories surrounding them… like why forks were not avoided for years on end. The World War I Museum in Kansas City is struggling like many organizations through the lockdown, but they’ve come up with a unique way to keep their employees busy… and employed. Then, the guys fill you in on live FamilySearch sessions the site is providing during the lockdown. David has the schedule.
Next, of two segments, Fisher visits with Rachel Popma of Legacy Tree Genealogists. Rachel talks about the FAN Club Principal and how many use it to break open brick walls and find the origins of ancestors. It’ll make sense to you when you hear it and how Rachel used it in one of her own cases.
David then returns for Ask Us Anything. The guys answer questions about how to determine who a DNA match is when the match doesn’t post a tree or respond to a message as well as where a missing Civil War pension file might be found.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 324
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 324
Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well, how are you doing? It’s great to have you along Genies. Hope you’re hanging in there, and hopefully you’re getting a lot done with all this extra time we suddenly have on our hands. And you know, I’ve heard from a lot of people asking questions like, “How do I get through my brick walls?” Of course, that’s a very broad question, but one technique for doing that is something called the “FAN Club Principle.” And we’re going to talk about that today, a little bit later on with our guest Rachel Popma from Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’s going to talk about how this thing involving friends, associates and neighbors (FANS), your fan club, researching them can help you figure out where your people came from and who your people are descended from. So, we’re going to hear a couple of segments on that and some great stories about it as well. If you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, now’s the time to do it. Well, you’ve got the time to read it, and of course, check out the links to past and present shows and stories you’ll be interested in as a genealogist, and of course, my blog every week. Right now, it is time to head out to Boston and talk to David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, how are you?
David: Hey, I’m great. I’m not in Beantown. I’m in my own town. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]
David: This is March 16thand like so many of our listeners are working from home that are self-quarantined, and I thought I’d start off with a really happy story. We have an oldest survivor of COVID.
Fisher: Oh wow!
David: The funny thing is, he survived the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II. And I’m talking about Bill Lapschies, who is an Oregon World War II Veteran, who is 104.
Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that amazing? And he got sick with COVID-19. Bless his heart. And he pulled through it just in time for his 104th birthday. So, he is now considered the oldest COVID-19 survivor in the world.
David: I can’t think of a better birthday present.
Fisher: Right, yeah.
David: That he survives and get over COVID-19.
Fisher: No question.
David: My next topic has to do with an older gentleman, not as old as Bill. This is a tycoon by the name of Bernie Ecclestone who is a former Formula I Group Chief Executive. He is 89.
David: He’s expecting a baby with his 44-year-old wife in July.
Fisher: [Laughs] Oh wow.
David: Now, here’s a real complicated thing. He has other children, one 31, and his daughter Debra who turned 65 this year, who’s already a grandmother. So, technically, when this baby is born, he or she will already be a grandaunt or granduncle. [Laughs]
Fisher: Wow! Yeah, and the 65-year-old, I mean, she’s on Medicare, and she’s going to have a little half-sibling born here in July.
David: And why is his daughter on Medicare? [Laughs]
Fisher: Well, because she’s 65. It’s automatic.
David: Oh, that’s true. That’s true.
Fisher: Yeah. So, reunions are going to be really awkward when she’s 100 and her little brother is 35, or whatever it is. [Laughs]
David: Well, congratulations to the happy couple, and the next branch of their family tree. Now, I want to say, sometimes when we look around our house, we take for granted the household items that we have, and we’ve always had them. But if you go to a museum, a place like the Smithsonian where this great story from the Smithsonian Magazine that you posted, talks about surprising facts of everyday household objects that we have. Did you know that a fork was considered forbidden because it looked like the devil’s pitch fork? [Laughs]
Fisher: Isn’t that funny? [Laughs]
David: You know that the car keys that you have? They didn’t fit in your pocket [back centuries ago]. That’s why you see it like with a tail on a ring, because those keys were so large. So, keys were not as small. Now, we use our phone to unlock things.
Fisher: That’s right.
David: It’s amazing. You know, there are just so many different things that we take for granted and I wonder if we’re keeping a journal or something like that. You just happen to mention something random, how in 100 years or 200 years someone would say, “What was a VHS machine?” [Laughs]
Fisher: Oh, totally! I think there are a lot of people this generation right now who are going, “What was that?”
David: Exactly. So, go to ExtremeGenes.com and take a peek at these ten surprising facts from the Smithsonian. You know, Kansas City has a World War I museum. It’s a tremendous place, lots of artifacts, but they have thousands upon thousands of letters and diaries and journals that people have donated. Guess what? They’re having employees scan them and transcribe them at home so that they can have work.
Fisher: Yeah, otherwise they’ve got to lay them off and what a great thing to have them do, right?
David: It’s amazing. And I think that makes me want to visit the Kansas City World War I Museum even more so now. So, bravo to them. Do you know, a lot of people, including yourself, are looking to connect with people online, and that is true with Family Search. They are doing a Family Search live community which you can take part in. If you visit their Instagram site, Family Search on Tuesdays at 1 pm. Eastern Time, you can chat with members of Family Search’s team and guests, and they also have one for Facebook Live on Wednesdays at 6 pm Eastern. And there's also another Instagram, one on Thursdays at 1pm. So, two Instagrams, Tuesday and Thursday at 1 pm Eastern Standard Time and on Facebook Live on their Facebook page, 6pm on Wednesdays. My blogger's spotlight usually shines on a new genealogist, a new blogger that's out there, but this time I want to give some love to somebody who I really admire in the industry and that is Blaine Bettinger. And if you haven't gone to his blog, TheGeneticGenealogist.com, you will really enjoy it. He is truly one of the leaders in the industry and has some great topics, especially while you're home.
Fisher: [Laughs] That's a really good point. That's a good point. TheGeneticGenealogist.com for Blaine Bettinger.
David: I want to just mention that American Ancestors, we've been around for 175 years and we are closed because of COVID-19 like so many other places around the world, but we have a little special. In case you’re been thinking of joining American Ancestors, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is going to give you a coupon promo code for the entire month, AprilResearch20, with the numbers 2 0. All one word. So, AprilResearch20 and I will give you $20 off of membership at AmericanAncestors.org.
Fisher: All right, that's a great savings. And it’s great to see so many organizations and individuals right now doing their part to help keep people busy and finding some fulfillment during this time off and maybe lessen the worry just a little bit. So, thanks so much, David. We will talk to you again at the back end of the show as we do another round of Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, from our friends at Legacy Tree Genealogists, Rachel Popma is going to come on and she's going to give you some ideas on how to break through your brick walls with the FAN Club Principle when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 324
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rachel Popma
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and I’m talking to Rachel Popma today. She is with Legacy Tree Genealogists. And Rachel is in Indianapolis and has come up with a list of tips to use with a thing called The FAN Club Principle. And Rachel welcome to the show. It’s great to have you. Let’s talk about what the principle is itself for people who aren’t familiar with it.
Rachel: Sure. Thanks. It’s great to be here. Well, FAN club is the term that was coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills, you may be familiar with her.
Rachel: And it stands for “Friends, Associates, and Neighbors” so, your FAN club, people that you know.
Fisher: Yeah. Yeah. Your buddies.
Rachel: Exactly. It is also sometimes referred to as cluster research.
Fisher: I like FAN club much better. FAN club sounds a lot more fun.
Rachel: A little catchier. That’s true. And basically what that is, it’s say research technique where you look at the individual’s connections. So, their friends, associates, and neighbors. Those might be people like the neighbors in the census, right?
Rachel: The folks who live next door.
Fisher: Either side.
Rachel: Yep. We probably have that in our families where they marry the girl next door, sometimes quite literally. But it also means people like the folks who were witnesses to marriages, or to land transactions. Maybe they were witnesses to somebody signing their will. Baptismal sponsors are often what one gets to see a lot.
Rachel: Usually those are family members, but sometimes they’re just folks that were in the same church congregation.
Fisher: Well, this is important for people who have moved around a lot and they just kind of dropped in from the sky, right?
Rachel: Absolutely. Well, that’s the thing right? [Laughs]
Rachel: Nobody really is on islands. We like to think it seems like they dropped out of the sky. But sometimes it’s not necessarily true. I’ve also had experiences where looking at somebody’s employer actually ended up being the key to figure out their origins.
Rachel: Sometimes we have to think pretty broadly about who our research subjects may have been involved with.
Fisher: So, are there areas of the country that maybe works better with the FAN club principle than others?
Rachel: You know I think it works pretty well just about wherever you are. Obviously, if you’re in a very large urban area, people may not have known who you are.
Fisher: New York freaking City. New York freaking City, you can’t do it there so much because everybody’s there, right?
Rachel: [Laughs] Exactly. They may not have had as close connections with the people around them, but they still had some connections with folks around them.
Rachel: One of my great grandmothers grew up in a Jewish immigrant family in New York. And certainly her neighborhood was filled with, in some cases, extended relatives of hers.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Rachel: So, sometimes it works better in lesser populated places, but I wouldn’t rule it out just because you think of gosh, how can I trace anybody in New York City?
Fisher: Sure. Right, good point. And that’s probably the most extreme example right there.
Rachel: Right. Yeah.
Fisher: But in some of the more agricultural areas, this has got to be enormously helpful.
Rachel: It really can be. It really can be. Particularly in cases that we often run into right where we’re dealing with those pre 1850 U.S. projects, right, where we don’t have a census record that lists everybody in the households.
Fisher: No, just little notches.
Rachel: Just little notches. We don’t even necessarily have a census record that tells us how everybody is related, which is convenient if not always accurate.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Rachel: So, working to look at other kinds of records and figure out who people were interacting with on a daily basis, figuring out what kind of the web of connections was like, can be a really good way to find an answer to the research question.
Fisher: So, let’s give an example then of a circumstance you’d run into. How do you begin to expand that circle? The family I would imagine, the know family is the immediate inner circle.
Rachel: Right. Exactly.
Fisher: And then what do you do from there?
Rachel: Your next step depends a little bit on what time periods you’re looking at. Obviously, if you have census records available, looking at whose living in the immediate areas. So, some of the households before the household of interest, some of the households after looking in the same township. You know, if you’re kind of looking up at the Midwest to the west. Looking in the same township, the same county, getting an idea of who those folks are and importantly where they’re coming from. As you will often find it’s not just your household that came from New York but they might be on a census page full of people that seem to have come from New York. Well, that should be a clue to you that there’s probably connection somewhere.
Fisher: I would think that pre census you’d really find some benefit from those old property maps from the county.
Fisher: That shows who lived where and if your person is surrounded by these people researching those folks.
Rachel: Absolutely. The plaque bucks are really helpful that way. Also, looking again at the land records, so not just who folks are selling to, or buying from, but also whose witnessing those transactions.
Rachel: I’ve had cases where there’ll be several deeds all registered on the same day where you have to like drive to town to go take care of that at the courthouse. So, they all go at once and they’re all witnessing each others’ deeds. So, they may not have actually been buying and selling to each other, but they were clearly neighbors with common business.
Rachel: And so looking at who those people are and doing a little bit of research on them can often lead you to figure out what the connections are there.
Fisher: Do you find people who have say, the same occupation might be connected.
Rachel: Certainly. Maybe not so much with farmers [Laughs] with everybody being a farmer.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs] That might be a problem.
Rachel: You know. But certainly the skill trades you’ll very often find connections. One of the other things I was going to note here is that this technique is really helpful in sorting out people with common surnames. So, I think we’ve probably had examples where we look at a census, we know there are 15 households that are all named Smith.
Fisher: Right. Oh boy.
Rachel: Right. And you think oh gosh, well surely they’re not all related. [Laughs]
Rachel: It’s dangerous to assume that they are all related.
Fisher: Right. Yeah.
Rachel: Right. But it’s also dangerous to assume that they’re not. The only way that you kind of figure that out is by looking at each of them and figuring out who they’re associated with. So, are they groups who live close to each, are they going into town together to witness each other’s land transactions, are they intermarrying? So, building out those connections is one way that you can deal with that really common research issue.
Fisher: Yeah. Interesting.
Rachel: There are a couple of other situations in which this kind of research is really important. One of those is when researching women.
Rachel: Because they’re often invisible.
Fisher: Their names are changing all the time, right, especially if they’ve married more than once.
Rachel: Yes. [Laughs] Absolutely.
Fisher: Oh boy.
Rachel: Absolutely. So, if they’re mentioned in records at all they’re mentioned usually by their husband’s surname. And by looking at sort of whose living around them, and again who their husbands are having transactions with, and researching those family groups you can often figure out where they came from, so to speak, their family of origin.
Fisher: Well, and you know, it would be easy I suppose even in an agricultural area to start going through probate records, and seeing what the common names are.
Fisher: But boy, if you can narrow it down by coming up with the handful of people that you really want to target.
Fisher: That’s got to make a huge difference because this is one of those things that could be very time consuming.
Rachel: Yep. Absolutely and you have to be tenacious. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] I think tenacious is a very nice word for desperate.
Fisher: It is. I mean, you wouldn’t be doing this stuff if you hadn’t looked under every rock already, right?
Fisher: I mean, it’s really just the next step towards breaking through a brick wall. I mean that’s really why you do things that are harder.
Rachel: Yeah. Oh absolutely. And for myself, I know the other reason I often turn to these kinds of research technique is because I want to answer the Why question. So, why did they go where they went, right?
Fisher: Um hmm.
Rachel: Why did they do what they did when they got there?
Fisher: Why did they leave where they left?
Rachel: Exactly. So again, people don’t usually drop out of the sky. They’re not on islands. They go places for reasons, and very often it’s because they knew somebody.
Fisher: Right. Right.
Rachel: So, if you can figure out who they knew, or who they were related to, they can help figure out where they came from.
Fisher: Well, also, couldn’t you kind of figure out maybe the trail of people who came to that area came from. I mean you could go back several states really and look through records in those particular places.
Rachel: Absolutely. And I have a good example of that that I can share in just a second. But you bring up a very good point in that you may not only have to kind of branch out sideways [Laughs] so to speak, but you also may need to go back. You may need to go back a couple of generations or several states. You might also have to come forward. So, looking at somebody’s children for example, something a little more recent in time and finding out all you can about who they are and who their connections were that might kind of help you go back.
Fisher: Right. You know, the tradition might actually extend through to the descendants and they publish it somewhere else far away from where the people were that you’re looking for.
Rachel: Yes, absolutely.
Fisher: So, what happened? What was your story?
Rachel: [Laughs] I have a great example of that actually. So, I have an ancestor who was born in Pennsylvanian. But in the 1830s he decided to sort of pull up stakes and go to northwestern Illinois. Initially, I couldn’t figure out why on earth he would want to do that. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Right.
Rachel: The Black Hawk War was sort of barely over. It was thinly settled out there. And I could only figure well, he was probably, I think he was the youngest son of a whole bunch of kids so maybe he felt like you know what, I got to go find my fortunes somewhere else, so it’s going to be on the prairie. So, he moves to northwestern Illinois, he does pretty well for himself. By the time I had picked him up in the 1860 census, I noticed that his household had two women in it who was also from Pennsylvania but who I really didn’t know anything about. So one of them, her name is Mary Pringle, she’s listed as a housekeeper.
Rachel: And the other woman whose name is Julia Reynolds who’s listed as a servant. I thought, this guy is a farmer in northwestern Illinois, I don’t know why he needs a housekeeper and a servant. [Laughs]
Rachel: But there were literally four people in the household altogether.
Rachel: So, I figured okay, they’re born in Pennsylvania there’s probably some relationship there. Well, my ancestor had a son. His name was Champion. He’s really easy to track with a name like Champion.
Fisher: Yes. Of course.
Fisher: Well, and there is a family name Champion from New England as well.
Rachel: Absolutely right. There is a clue right there. So you know, you kind of keep that in the back of your mind as you’re thinking about that. Well, Champion decided northwestern Illinois wasn’t far enough west for himself so he went to California in the 1860s.
Fisher: All right. Hold it right there Rachel. We’re going to have to continue this story in just a couple of moments, okay?
Rachel: Of course.
Fisher: All right. We’ll get to that coming up here when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 324
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rachel Popma
Fisher: And, when we last left Rachel Popma’s ancestor Champion, he was heading west to California from Illinois. Hi, it’s Fisher and we’re talking about the FAN club principle today. That is exploring the friends and associates, and neighbors around some of your ancestors that you might be stuck with. I’m talking to Rachel Popma from Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’s sharing with us right now this story about her ancestor Champion, who for no reason known to her, left Illinois to go to California. And how did he head there?
Rachel: I found out it was supposedly by mule train. There’s no railroad yet. [Laughs] So, by 1870 he’s running a boarding house in northern California.
Fisher: Oh, wow!
Rachel: Yeah, and I thought, why the heck would you move to northern California in the 1860? He’s not looking for gold. He’s running a boarding house. But, curiously enough, in his household were those two women from Illinois, Mary and Julia, and they were both continuing to be housekeepers and you need that with a boarding house.
Fisher: Right. Yes you do.
Rachel: [Laughs] Yes, you do. Well, Julia and Champion got married, perhaps unsurprisingly and then they had a son whose middle name was Worthington. And again, much like Champion, you don’t usually give your kids names like that unless you’re invoking some kind of family connection. I thought that was kind of weird. Well, they were still there in 1880, but Champion’s father back in Illinois died. They all picked up from California and moved back home to Illinois where they lived happily ever after and so forth. I had two big questions. One, why do you go to California for less than 20 years and then come back? [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, good point.
Rachel: He inherited the farm. I think that was probably part of it.
Rachel: So, why do you do that? And then secondly, who is this Mary Pringle person? She’s the housekeeper who had been initially in Illinois and went out to California and came back. I didn’t know who she was, couldn’t really figure it out and I didn’t know why they went to California. In order to figure that out, I had to go back to Pennsylvania, searches like you were saying. And specifically, I had to look at Champion’s grandparents back in Pennsylvania, and look at all their children and figure out who are they and what were they doing. Well, it turns out that one of his aunts married a man whose last name was Worthington.
Fisher: Ah ha!
Rachel: There you go.
Fisher: And so then there, that’s a nice clue right there.
Rachel: [Laughs] There’s a nice clue. And that fellow, Worthington, one of his brothers moved out to northwestern Illinois. So, my ancestor who moved out to northwestern Illinois, just the next county over was following his extended family, his uncle and their family. So, that’s how they got to Illinois, they followed their uncles.
Fisher: And that’s how you leaned it. That’s great.
Rachel: That’s how I learned it. I had to back up a generation. But there’s more. [Laughs]
Fisher: Okay. Wow!
Rachel: So, the Worthington uncle eventually went to Wisconsin, wondered around a little bit and then ended up, in all places, humble county, California. So, my answer to the question, why on earth would you go to California in the 1860s, is, well, your uncle was already living there.
Rachel: And they had an established farm and business and they could help you out when you got there.
Fisher: It beats farming, doesn’t it?
Rachel: Yeah. Go west young man. Meet up with your uncle. Start a boarding house.
Rachel: Well, I also started researching these Worthingtons because I wasn’t really that familiar with who they were beyond the fact that my family had married into them. And it turns out, the Worthingtons who moved to California, so my ancestor’s uncle, were the parents of his future mother in law, Mary Pringle. [Laughs]
Fisher: Wow! So, this all came together just through the Fan Club Principle.
Rachel: Absolutely. But, I had to go back two generations into Pennsylvania and I had to go across three different states. So, ultimately, you’re looking at three different generations and actually more like four states by the time it was all said and done in o order to put all the pieces together.
Fisher: How long did it take you?
Rachel: Um, you know, it’s one of the things I worked on, off and on, over a period of time. [Laughs]
Fisher: Sure, because it is a time consuming process. There’s no doubt.
Rachel: It absolutely is and also, having Family Search digitizing the records so I could look at them from home, in my jammies which was also very helpful. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]
Rachel: I didn’t have to go to the FHL or My Family History Center to take care of that problem. I could do it from home. So, that certainly sped it up.
Fisher: And this is the thing right now. I mean, it’s never been easier to use this principle than it is today.
Fisher: And we’ve got the time these days, you know? [Laughs]
Rachel: Absolutely. Yeah. Yes, yes we do. [Laughs]
Fisher: Lots of time so we can fill it up with that. And that’s the whole point of these conversations or finding ways to help you break through your brick walls at a time like this. And I’m just maintaining you know, we could potentially get years worth of work done in a short period of time because of the opportunity here.
Rachel: [Laughs] That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, we have a lot of time to fill.
Fisher: I’ve linked to it on our transcript on ExtremeGenes.com. So you can see that as well.
Rachel: Yep, lots of good tips there. I’ll make two points real quickly.
Rachel: Beyond branching out sideways, we talked about that as siblings or cousins, or neighbors. And beyond backing up in time or coming forward in time. You may have to think beyond who you know to be family. So, if you know your person of interest was a member of a particular church congregation, finding out who else were members of that congregation can be very helpful.
Rachel: Looking at, I think we mentioned other households in the same geographical area that don’t initially seem to have any surnames that you recognize but who were just close by can also be helpful.
Fisher: And you know, speaking of the church thing, Rachel, I had that situation come up once where I was trying to connect people and we found a listing of all the people who were part of a regular Sunday school in the 1780s.
Fisher: And it listed everybody in order. And so, while the names were changing a lot, you could go through and go, "Oh, well this is how this person's related to this one and this one's related to that one." And it was as if we had a photograph of the class. And you figure, okay, well obviously the people sitting next to each other are the closest. And you found this one is the one I was thinking would be the sister and sure enough she's sitting right next to the person she should be. And then her husband's right on the other side of her. And you put that all together and it’s like, aah, now it’s beginning to shine a little light on the situation.
Rachel: Now it makes sense, yeah. And I think that strategy is especially helpful in urban areas where you're looking to find the smaller sort of points of connection, right? People worshipped together. We use New York City as an example.
Rachel: Irish Catholic congregations, German Catholic congregation, right. So, looking at those and seeing what the connections are there can be really helpful even when you're dealing in a great, big urban area like New York. So there are a lot of smaller record groups that you can look for, for places like New York.
Fisher: Well that's true. Church group records are great, but there's really a whole lot more in the cities.
Rachel: Remember that no matter where you are, that you're trying to hit all the bases with the records.
Rachel: So, you're not just thinking about census records or vital records, but you're also looking at land records and tax lists and city directories if they exist for the time and the place that you're researching. Thinking even about court records. Court records can be great at spelling out relationships and all kinds of associations between people, both positive and negative.
Fisher: Sure. And then there's probate as we talked about earlier and that's just such an important thing, and property records. You might not have land records in the bigger cities, but certainly property records.
Rachel: Absolutely. And you often with those have to think pretty broadly in terms of time as well, especially with probate, right?
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Rachel: Just because somebody died in one year, doesn't mean they're stuck with saddles in that year, too. You may need to look 10 or 20 years down the line to make sure that you've caught it all. So, just being really open minded about the types of records that might be available and that can be helpful to you.
Fisher: She's Rachel Popma. She is the quality assurance manager for Legacy Tree Genealogists. Thanks so much, Rachel. Great stuff!
Rachel: Thank you.
Fisher: And I'm sure it’s going to be helpful to a lot of people. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns as we talk Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 324
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: And we're back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David Allen Lambert rejoins us from American Ancestors and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. And David, our question for this part is from Kim Hartley who listens to us in Dallas, Texas. And she says, "I have so many DNA matches who don't have trees and don't answer my messages. What's the best way to start figuring out how they match me?" That's a great question.
David: Well you know, one of the things is obviously reverse genealogy, where you're going to essentially have to do a little detective work on who they are related to. Maybe you have some clue geographically or what their name is, and as you do in reverse genealogy, all the lines from the different trees that you have, you may bump into, say, their name in an obituary of someone you've just plugged into your tree.
David: So maybe that's one way of getting them. And then of course, ideally in the days ahead, there are a lot of people at home, so maybe sending another email to them might not be a bad idea, too.
David: In reaching out to them saying, "You know, I'm not sure if you put a tree into your genealogy program, but could you share it with me, or if you've written it down on a piece of paper?" and be willing to open up and send an invitation to your tree. All this works, too, because that way, they're getting to look at your tree before they have to reveal anything to you, and you can say, "I suspect that we're related to this family from Oklahoma" or "this family from Essex, England. Love to hear back from you." And besides an email address, give a phone number.
Fisher: That's a thought. And you know, I want to expand on what you were saying about reverse genealogy, because that pays so many dividends, because you don't know where you're going with it, right? I mean, you go back to an ancestor. I typically do it from second greats forward, sometimes third and I even have one forth great that I've pulled all the way forward. And when you do that, you stumble upon people that you go, "Wait a minute! I know that name from among my DNA matches!" And when you do that, then you have something, like you say, that you can actually talk to them about and potentially get them to participate in helping you figure out some of these lines. Recently, I had a DNA match and it showed through ThruLines that it came through this particular forth great grandfather, and I didn't realize that there was a branch through this one son. I had missed a daughter somewhere along the line and when I checked it out, it all checked out and suddenly it’s like, okay, we've got another DNA match going back to this Revolutionary ancestor. So ThruLines helps. The other thing is, let's not ignore shared matches. You know, when you see that you share certain people from certain branches, at least you're going to get a clue, like you're saying, David, as to where somebody might be coming from, which particular branch, depending on how far back, maybe geographically where they come from or something like that. But there is a lot of benefit to reverse genealogy. In fact, I just did a blog on that on the Weekly Genie Newsletter this past week and talking about how I met people I never would have otherwise if I hadn't done it. And they had answers. For instance, where was my second great grandfather from? Because they had a letter written in the 1930s by a great grandmother and that letter was given to this person's mother back during The Depression.
Fisher: And this great grandmother had known my second great grandfather who came from England, named the parents, named where they were from. So there are so many things just beyond the DNA matches that can come from reverse genealogy. And I can't recommend it enough. And it’s really kind of an easy thing to do now with so many shaky leaves and the hints that you get in different places. So it’s a great way to spend the time, since we're all locked up right now.
David: Exactly. Every time when someone says, "Oh, I wish I had some rainy day to do genealogy." [Laughs] It’s raining, folks.
Fisher: [Laughs] Everyday's a rainy day right now. All right, thanks so much to Kim Hartley for that, and we'll have another question coming up next as we continue with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 5 Episode 324
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, back at it for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And we're talking Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, this question comes from Farmington, Utah, from Randy Townsend. And he says, "Guys, I sent to the National Archives a request for my second great grandfather's pension. I'm assuming he had one, because he had a really long life, and they said they had nothing on file. How can that be?" Good question. David, you are very much into this stuff. What do you know?
David: Well, I'm going to put on my Civil War kepi and thinking cap and I'll give you a couple of the rationales behind this. One possibility, your ancestor did something like go AWOL. He may have lived a long life, but he may have left the service and may have never wanted to be found, therefore he didn't ask the government for money.
David: That's one possibility. The other one is that the National Archives has millions of documents. And there's always the possibility that the file that was transferred from the war departments or the department of the interior, depending when he got the pension, when it was send to the archives in the 1930s, the file may have been mislaid or lost. So that's a possibility. The other one which happened with my own wife's ancestor is her great, great grandfather got an invalid pension. Then that was filed with his wife's pension that she got after he died in 1870. He was very young. She remarried in 1890 to another man who had his own invalid pension, and when he died, she got his pension until the 1920s.
Fisher: Oh wow!
David: Guess what? All four of the pensions are filed together.
Fisher: Oh wow!
David: In the same envelope. Yep. So, that's a possibility that you may want to look and make sure that your ancestor's widow didn't remarry or maybe his wife was previously married to somebody else.
Fisher: So, would it be filed under her then?
David: It could quite possibly be under her or under the other person's name. There are a lot of possibilities with pensions. They said that the person lived a long time. Well, if you're a pensioner or their surviving spouse of family member was alive after 1934, there's a very good possibility. If you look for the index card, which I'm not sure if our person did on Ancestry or on Fold3 there may be a number, an XC or a C number at the bottom of the number. That will indicate that the pension is still held with the Veteran's Administration. Now you can make the request through the VA in Washington, D.C.
David: It takes a little longer and of course with COVID going on, it’s going to take even a little bit longer than that, but that is the way that you can potentially find it. Those are about the likely solutions to this problem, but again, everyone is a little different.
Fisher: Wow, so the Veterans Administration. I mean, when I think that, I'm thinking of, you know, currently living veterans. I wouldn't think of Civil War vets. I mean, that's crazy that it’s still there and not with NARA.
David: I have always thought that they should be transferred over. I don't know, maybe our friend Brooke Ganz from Reclaim the Records, can have them sent over to the National Archives, so we don't have to truck them out around the country.
David: But these are records that still exist. There is a blog on the National Archives that says, "C and XC pension files from the Civil War". If you Google that, you can actually find a nice blog piece that talks about this entire situation of why the numbers are different post 1934 than they are previous to that and whether the cases are continuing on.
Fisher: All right, great stuff, David as always. Thank you so much. Thank you, Randy for the question. And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can always email us at [email protected]. Well, that's our show for this week. Thanks so much, David for coming on, and thanks also to our guests, Rachel Popma who was on earlier from Indianapolis with Legacy Tree Genealogists. If you missed any of the show, of course you can catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com and Spotify. We’ll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!