Episode 345 - CeCe Moore On Request For Exhumation Of President Warren G. Harding, Genetic Genealogy For Solving Crime, Latest On Her TV Show

podcast episode Oct 04, 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 news of a great new database from the Library of Congress that allows you to search the captions in newspaper photos to find pictures tied to your family or area of interest. Then the Russian State Public History Library has now made public a huge number of genealogical documents, largely covering the Soviet Union era. Next, the USS Constitution, America’s oldest commissioned ship, now has a database to help us learn about the crew of the ship in the War of 1812.  Then, Places of Pride, an Australian site, has now made available online their national registration of every war memorial in the country. Might your ancestor’s name be on one?

Renowed genetic genealogist CeCe Moore returns to the show to talk about many things. She and Fisher begin with a discussion of a legal request by the grandson of President Warren G. Harding to have his remains exhumed so their DNA might be compared. It’s a strange case with many ramifications. CeCe then talks about her television show and the latest in the use of genetic genealogy in identifying suspects in cold cases and violent crimes.

David then returns for Ask Us Anything as he and Fisher tackle questions about old license plates and related databases and Crown Land records in Nova Scotia.

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

Transcript of Episode 345

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 345

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. Guess who’s back today? CeCe Moore, yes, the star of the ABC series The Genetic Detective. What is the status of the show? Is she coming back with another season? But mostly, we want to talk to her today about this incredible story about the grandson of Warren G. Harding. He wants to dig up the body of President Harding. Hear why and hear his reasoning behind it. It’s kind of a head scratcher, but it’s going to be a fascinating conversation with CeCe coming up here in about ten minutes or so. If you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, it is free. We want you to get there through our website ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. And of course, you get a blog from me each week, a couple of links to past and present shows and links to stories you’ll find pretty fascinating as a genealogist. Right now, out to Stoughton, Massachusetts, David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericaAncestors.org. How are you David?

David: I’m doing fine. Just sitting here watching the leaves fall from my trees. I guess summer’s officially over in New England. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, that would sound it, but that’s the most beautiful time of year.

David: It is until you have to rake all the time.

Fisher: Ah, yes, yes.

David: Any of the listeners want a leaf from New England just get yourself a stamped envelope to the station… [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Right yeah, yeah. Tell you what Dave, I mean, growing up in New England myself I think I’ve mentally blocked that part of my childhood out because I do remember jumping in piles of leaves, but I have no recollection of creating those piles of leaves, so I know where you’re coming from. Hey, we’ve got a lot to talk about here. Some great stuff coming out, Library of Congress.

David: Yeah, 1.56 million historic newspaper photos. Now you can search with their newspaper navigator at the Library of Congress website. You can put in any topic.

Fisher: You can put in names too, and it’s bringing up some amazing stuff.

David: You can find an interesting Civil War connection story from a photograph.

Fisher: Yeah, it was a photograph of a Civil War vet in 1920 with his young wife and his brand new baby and he was like 80 years old. [Laughs]

David: Well, you’ll be able to find this link at ExtremeGenes.com. Definitely check it out. You might find your relative and their baby. Well, we have to go across the world and go to the next database of interest. And thanks to our good friend Melanie McComb, who works with me at NEHGS. She gave us some great new stories this week. This one is a Russian state public historical library offering free genealogy documents. Yes, free! This is from a blog called lostrussianfamily.wordpress.com. The post is from September 20th and it goes down and gives you all the hyperlinks and even a video on how to actually use the website.

Fisher: This is amazing because, I mean, I think of the early days of doing research. The idea that you could find anything about families in Russia in the old Soviet Union, impossible. This is an amazing thing for people of Russian extraction.

David: It truly is. Well, you’ve probably heard of the USS Constitution. It’s the oldest commission ship in the United States navy and had a lot of active fighting in the war of 1812 when it attacked the Guerriere. Well, now there a database with over a thousand individuals that you can search. This is on ussconstitutionmuseum.org/crew. You could put in a family name if you’re doing a one name study or maybe you have an ancestor who was in the Navy earlier on. And this goes through all of the crew, not just the ones from the War of 1812.

Fisher: And wouldn’t that be fun to go through and find people with family names and the research their ancestry and see how you might be related to some of those crewmen.

David: That’s true. And you may have information that may help them. You may even have a photograph of some of these people or know when they died. So, check it out and maybe you can give them information from your own archives.

Fisher: Wouldn’t that be fun?

David: It really would be. Going around the globe one more time, we’re going to stop at Australia now. There’s a great website called placesofpride.awm.gov.au. Places of Pride is now marking and photographing every war memorial in Australia, thousands of these, and you can see a map, zoom right in. So, if you have any ancestor or a relative that lived anywhere near a particular town in Australia, you can search on that place, and it’s great. This has a crowd-sourcing application. So, if you have Australian roots, because I know we have listeners in Australia, check out Places of Pride from the Australian government.

Fisher: I love that. I think this is great. And you know what you’re talking about here David is several different databases that are emerging right now that we haven’t seen before. Maybe this is the silver lining in the pandemic right now as people turn their efforts to things they can do online. This is great.

David: When I was first at home because of the pandemic, I created a 1,100 name database for American Ancestors on all the Native American families from an 1861 Senate Report and it’s great for genealogists. And I just figured I’ve got nothing else better to do, let’s start a database. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, I think a lot of people are doing that. I’m certainly seeing a huge uptick in people getting involved in family history during this down time, especially over at Ancestry. I think they said they had a 45% increase in engagement on the website. So, that’s pretty exciting news. And, you know, what better way to keep busy during this period until we get this mess resolved. By the way, the other day my wife found something interesting, an heirloom in our closet we didn’t know that we had.

David: Oh, I hope it wasn’t a relative.

Fisher: [Laughs] No, it was not. It was actually my mother’s jewelry box which I have little occasion to go through. But my wife found a couple of square shaped cufflinks in there. On one side it was a watch that doesn’t work anymore. I might have to get that fixed. And then on the other side it was engraved with “Thanks  JG” and my wife immediately recognized that this was a gift to my father from Jackie Gleason because they worked together on the Gleason Show back in the early ‘50s.

David: Great stuff! That’s excellent! Well, one of the things I tell people, if you get stumped on something, you can always Ask Us Anything, but if you need to reach me, I work at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. We’re 175 years old. And if you’re not a member and haven’t heard about us, go to AmericanAncestors.org. You can see what you like with our billion searchable records. You can use the coupon code “Extreme” and save $20.

Fisher: All right David thanks so much and we will talk to you for Ask Us Anything coming up here at the back end of the show. And coming up next in three minutes, CeCe Moore the Genetic Detective joins me as we talk about the grandson of Warren G. Harding who wants to dig up the former president. What’s he got in mind? What’s the end game here? [Laughs] You’ll want to hear this story. It’s on the way in minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 345

Host: Scott Fisher with guest CeCe Moore

Fisher: And welcome back to Americas Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Always a joy to have my good friend CeCe Moore back on the show. And CeCe, I just noticed the other day your quote, just a little, little quote in the New York Times talking about this whole situation with Warren G. Harding’s grandson. Let’s talk about this. How are you?

CeCe: I’m great. I’m really happy to be on your show, and it’s great timing to talk about this story because I actually went back and forth all week with the journalist about that story, and then you know how editing happens.

Fisher: Yep.

CeCe: It ended up being just this very little quote. But it’s kind of a huge subject. There’s a couple of really interesting aspects to it I think, so it’s good to be on.

Fisher: Well, let’s talk about this. Warren G. Harding, he was elected 100 years ago this November in 1920. And then he died of a heart attack on a road trip basically in San Francisco in 1923. Strangely enough, my dad’s first cousin was one of the Marines, I guess you could call him a pall bearer, taking the coffin out of the hotel where he was staying in 1923 and I’ve got these amazing pictures of it. But the story came out of course in 1927 by his lover that he had fathered a child, a daughter. That daughter had a son. So, in recent years of course it’s come out that this grandson is out there and he was hoping to be accepted into the Harding family amongst those who are related. Because Harding didn’t have any other kids as I understand it.   

CeCe: It’s really interesting because it’s actually Harding’s extended family that reached out to him reportedly and asked him if he was willing to undergo Ancestry DNA testing to either prove or dispute this affair, and that this child was born to it. So, they reached out to him initially and they underwent Ancestry DNA testing and they did get the match. And so, Ancestry DNA felt strongly enough about it that they proclaimed it was proven. That was it. And this was a few years back.   

Fisher: Yes.

CeCe: And so, since that time he and his family have definitely been accepted as Warren Harding descendants. And that was kind of the end of it as far as most of us knew. But with the 100th year celebration coming up, apparently there’s been some discontent on the part of the grandson that did the testing because he felt like he and his mom haven’t, she’s not alive, but they’re not being included enough in the planning for the centennial celebration. Though we have to know because they said they did reach out and didn’t get a response. So, I don’t know what’s going on there. But I do know what the result is. And that is that he has filed a case to exhume Warren Harding’s remains so that he can get “scientific certainty of the relationship.”

Fisher: [Laughs] He’s got it!

CeCe: He does have it! But it was more from a second cousin relationship. And so typically, you just got a random second cousin on your match list. That’s quite different than testing a hypothesis and getting that match, right? 

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: Because the chances of just coincidentally getting that match if it’s not the hypothesis you’re testing, it’s, you know, very, very slim. So, I don’t know.

Fisher: It’s a long shot. Yeah.

CeCe: Yeah. And I don’t know if you can say “scientific certainty.” There’s always room for question. But in this case, he certainly had his evidence and he had acceptance. But it’s not enough. And I don’t know who’s wrong and who’s right. I’m not taking a stand here. But it brings up some really interesting themes that I see in these unknown parentages type cases I see every day in my DNA Detectives. You know, self identity, acceptance, and belonging. We’re seeing that here. He’s clearly got a desire to belong more, to be accepted as part of this. And then also, we’ve got the question of scientific certainty and legal proof of paternity cases. So, there’s a big disconnect right now with the courts and technology. And the type of evidence that they accept is really the outdated STR type testing, which is fine for parent-child. It works great. But when you’re trying to prove a paternity or parentage case without the parent and child available to test, it becomes highly problematic. And typically with those types of tests you’re going to get a long of ambiguity and you might even get the wrong answer.  

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: So, those tests are not sensitive enough for anything past first degree relationships’ parent-child, full siblings. If you use the SNP genome typing test that the consumer DNA tests use, you can absolutely get a highly definitive answer about those relationships and even more distant. And so that’s interesting to me too.

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: Because he’s asking the court to allow him to exhume Harding. But it’s going to be a grandparent-grandchild test unless his got some of his mother’s DNA somehow stored, a hairbrush or something like that, right?

Fisher: Wow. [Laughs]

CeCe: So, he’s asking courts to approve this exhumation so he can use Ancestry DNA or SNP DNA type testing and that’s not court accepted testing. So, it’s this really weird disconnect where courts don’t even accept that type of testing as legal proof. But his asking the court to order this exhumation so he can do this type of testing that isn’t even accepted by them.

Fisher: Right. And he hasn’t been accepted in his own mind then as a descendant of Harding so he wouldn’t even have the legal standing to request it, would he?

CeCe: Correct!

Fisher: [Laughs]

CeCe: It’s this circular problem. It’s something you know I’ve been talking about for about a decade with courts because we’ve run into this problem before with for instance, Amerasians, Vietnamese that have been fathered by American soldiers that can get US citizenship if they can prove that they were fathered by these soldiers. But the problem is that many of these soldiers are gone and so we can absolutely identify that father using SNP gnome type and our Ancestry DNA type testing with a half sibling.

Fisher: Yep.

CeCe: But we can’t prove it in the courts for them then to be able to get their immigration status and their US citizenships. So, we’re already running up against this over and over where the courts really need to start looking closer at this more advanced technology and accepting it in these longer range comparisons, second degree or third degree relationships. And I think because of law enforcement success using this type of testing over the last two and half years, we’re finally on the cuff of the courts starting to accept this as evidence or proof. Not in law enforcement. We don’t need that. We can still use the direct matching. The STR profiles for that.  

Fisher: That’s because it’s just basically a clue, right? I mean, that’s how law enforcement uses it. They don’t use it as proof of guilt. They just say, “Hey, look at this person.”

CeCe: Exactly. And I don’t want that to change. I think the way it is right now is perfect.

Fisher: Right.

CeCe: But for these other types of situations, I think it has started to give it some credibility this type of testing. And so, someone told me recently my TV series was actually mentioned in the judge’s decision on their case. And that was exciting to me because that means we are starting to get some credibility and starting to have courts recognize that this type of testing is really very reliable and very credible. 

Fisher: Wow.

CeCe: But we’re not quite there.

Fisher: No.

CeCe: So, I think this thing just brought up all of these issues and difficulties of having this advanced technology where you can pretty much prove things, but yet you cannot get legal acceptance of that.

Fisher: Right. Now the Harding family, people who are I guess cousins to him and to his wife Florence, I guess they’re not for this at all, right, exhuming the body? Because that’s really what it’s going to take is those who have the legal status to do it, right?

CeCe: Yeah. So, I think some of them are staying neutral and some of them are very opposed to the idea of disturbing the remains. Because we have to remember, he’s interred with his wife so it’s also probably going to disturb her remains as well, so who gets to decide about that and I guess that’s why it’s going to a judge to make that decision. And this is something that’s going to come up more and more. We’ve already started to see it more and more. As we deal with this issue of courts not accepting the SNP gnome typing for proof. And so people that are finding their birth fathers or birth parents through this type of DNA testing are sometimes looking for legal acceptance. And the only way to do that often is these exhumations    

Fisher: Whoever saw your career going in this direction? [Laughs] You have all this legal side of things in your work, CeCe!

CeCe: Well, you know, I wanted to be an attorney originally when I was younger and that didn’t happen.                                                                                                                                          

Fisher: [Laughs]

CeCe: I always thought I would, you know, try the acting / singing thing until I was 30, and then if I didn’t make it big I’d go to law school. But I was always working you know.

Fisher: Yeah.

CeCe: I didn’t make it big but I had a career and I was a working actress. And so when I got to 30, I couldn’t quite give that up you know. I had spent a lot of time building that career and I decided to stick with it until I had Nicky. And so I definitely think about the legal aspects of all of this. I had from the beginning of working with genetic genealogy. I think it’s fascinating the way that genetic genealogy and consumer DNA testing is intersecting with the law in multiple ways.  

Fisher: Yes multiple ways right now. And if they actually exhume a President of the United States, can you imagine the news surrounding that and the re-examination of this whole thing about genetic genealogy.

CeCe: Well, and see if they do, and he doesn’t have any source of his mother’s DNA, which I haven’t heard that he does, then he’s going to be dealing with okay, so we got the match, so he’ll have to send it to a forensics lab, and then compare it through GEDMatch I guess, because he’s not going to be able to get it into Ancestry DNA. So, if he does that, then what? Then is he going to get the courts to make a legal judgment that he really is the grandson of Harding and he has the right to make decisions about that legacy or about, you know, that.                   

Fisher: Right. I think he just wants to be the family spokesman because he would be the only living descendant wouldn’t he?

CeCe: I think he has a sibling or two, but yes, he and his siblings would be the only ones who really would control that legacy.

Fisher: Wow, complicated stuff. All right, let’s take a break and CeCe, when we return here we’ve got to talk about your TV show because everybody’s asking about it. Is it coming back, are you doing more episodes? We’ll find out in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 345

Host: Scott Fisher with guest CeCe Moore

Fisher: All right, back on Extreme Genes with CeCe Moore, most recently known as the Genetic Detective on ABC and I’m getting all the questions CeCe. Have you shot any more episodes recently of the show?

CeCe: We haven’t and we don’t have any plans to at this point. Now, it would be a very different show during lockdown, of course. We could still film things here because we’ve got all the production equipment and we could use Zoom meetings and things, but I can’t be flying all over the country visiting with the family members and the detectives. So, although it would be possible, it wouldn’t be quite the same.

Fisher: Um hmm.

CeCe: And you know, I’m really happy just locked in, working on my case work. I’ve had a lot of successful cases during lockdown and they haven’t all been announced, but I feel really confident about my conclusions on a number of cases and my team as well.

Fisher: Well, I didn’t even know how you were able to do the TV show and the cases. I mean, it just seemed like a lot of work.

CeCe: Yeah. It is. And I still work on Finding Your Roots. I’m still the genetic genealogist. The one and only “genetic genealogist” on that team.” So I have two pretty much full-time jobs, plus I have the DNA Detectives. So, I am always busy. It was difficult for sure, fitting in all the travel for the TV series and also having a crew in my home for days at a time, long hours. So, it’s really difficult to decide whether I would want to do that again. There’s been some talks that the reason we aren’t shooting more is because I don’t want to, because I said no, and that’s not the case. If ABC really wanted me to do it I’m probably contractually obligated to do it. Although, I’m not sure that’s where I want to put my time.

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: I’m torn because I think the public education is super important and that’s why I agreed to do the series in the first place, but it does take me away from my case work.

Fisher: Of course.

CeCe: Like Finding Your Roots and all the other commitments that I have. So, there’s a lot of push-pull about what priorities are most important for me.

Fisher: Well, let’s talk crime then. You’ve talked about a few that you’ve been able to solve that aren’t yet public. Let’s talk about some of the ones that are. What’s some of your latest cases that are out there?

CeCe: Well, There was Nancy Daugherty who was killed in Chisholm, Minnesota. It’s a real small town up in northern Minnesota, and this was a huge deal for the community there, it’s long been a cold case. I was able to narrow it down to one person through genetic genealogy. It’s really nice when that happens.

Fisher: Yes.

CeCe: You can really zero in and there are not even brothers. There’s one person that fit genetically, that has the right ancestral mix, and that happens to have grown up in that town. You know that very small town.

Fisher: Yeah, right. What a coincidence, huh?

CeCe: Yeah and genetic genealogy as you know takes you all over the country, sometimes all over world. And then you start zeroing in closer and closer and all of a sudden you’re in that very town. And the person that was identified through genetic genealogy actually went to high school with the victims children.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

CeCe: So, you start seeing everything come together, all the pieces. So, that was a really positive outcome.

Fisher: Were they able to get a confession from him?

CeCe: I don’t know the details of that. I don’t believe so, but I can’t really speak to that. He was arrested and will have to wait and see what happens as far as the courts.

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: And of course he’s innocent till proven guilty, but his DNA was definitely at that crime scene.

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: So, they were able to do that confirmatory testing with their forensics profile.

Fisher: Are you finding more and more agencies now are starting to look to Parabon NanoLabs and your services? Are you having to expand your team to work on all these cases?

CeCe: Well, you know, I think actually, it’s driven a lot of business to other groups doing investigative genetic genealogy. I’ve heard from a lot of my friends and colleagues that they’re getting cases because of my TV series. [Laughs]

Fisher: Ah!

CeCe: So, I think it’s just raised the profile in general, not necessarily sent them all to me and Parabon, but just helped investigate genetic genealogy to gain credibility and that people are getting educated about it. So, it’s been a really positive thing, but it wasn’t meant as an advertisement for Parabon and my team. [Laughs]

Fisher: Sure. Well, the question in my mind now also is that there’s been a lot of questions about using this to track people down. Any sign of this hitting the courts or becoming a legal issue at this point?

CeCe: No. So far, so good. I mean, in the jury trials that we’ve had there’s all been convictions where the suspect was identified through investigative genetic genealogy and that we’ve had many more cases like St. George, like the Carla Brooks case, where there was a confession and/or a guilty plea. And so, many people have already been convicted that were identified through investigative genetic genealogy. We’ve seen few legal challenges through that and that seems to be the trend. I’m sure there will be defense attorneys that challenge it still and we don’t know what future courts and juries will say, but so far, so good. The precedence is set that investigative genetic genealogy is a tool and a lead generator and that’s it.

Fisher: Right.

CeCe: So, it’s not the reason for the arrest. It’s just pointing them in the right direction.

Fisher: And then they investigate from there and come up with further evidence and then thy convict them on that other evidence.

CeCe: Right.

Fisher: Does the DNA come up in the testimony much when there are court cases?

CeCe: The traditional DNA does. I mean the traditional forensic profile match.

Fisher: Right.

CeCe: Genetic genealogy really has not been coming up much so I’ve been on hold to be an expert witness on many, many trials and cases, some of which ended up going to guilty pleas, so they didn’t even go to trial.

Fisher: Um hmm.

CeCe: And so far I’ve been cancelled on every single one because they so far have all decided or it’s been ruled that genetic genealogy is just a tip, that it’s not something that needs to be discussed in court extensively or admitted in court as evidence. So, it’s really going in the right direction. I know our community had so many discussions about privacy issues and fourth amendment issues, but so far that is not coming up in court very often. And if it does, it’s being defeated. And I don’t know exactly what is public and what isn’t. But I’ll tell you, there’s been some appeals on some of these cases and they haven’t even being mentioning genetic genealogy as the basis of appeal. So, it is definitely going in the direction that we thought and hoped that it would. And that doesn’t mean forever that’s going to be the case.

Fisher: Yeah.

CeCe: But so far, it’s definitely becoming precedence that it is just a tool and should be treated as such.

Fisher: Are we even two years into this now?

CeCe: We are almost two and a half.

Fisher: Okay.

CeCe: So, Joseph DeAngelo was arrested April 24th, 2018. It was announced the next day which was DNA day. I started working with Parabon almost immediately after that. May 1st was our official date that we created our unit. So, yeah, we’re getting close to two and a half years.

Fisher: Wow.

CeCe: And you know, we’ve been able to keep up our record of about one “solve” per week. So, even with the GEDmatch opt out, even with the coronavirus we’ve been able to pretty much stay steady with that. It’s been difficult to grow too much because of those two factors but we’ve been able to keep up the success rate, which is a little unexpected.

Fisher: Um hmm.

CeCe: You know, I definitely thought it would slow down more than it has.

Fisher: Right. I remember at the time you were very concerned about it. What’s the number now at GEDMatch, do you know?

CeCe: Um, 280,000, I believe they just said at ISHI.

Fisher: Oh.

CeCe: They just had the ISHI Conference that’s when I heard them say 280,000, opt in. But you know, we’re using the Family Tree DNA database more and more, and it has at least a million I believe.

Fisher: Wow.

CeCe: I don’t know the exact numbers because they don’t release it. And they only have a very low opt out rate there.

Fisher: Sure.

CeCe: So, we are able to compare against the vast majority of that database.

Fisher: She’s CeCe Moore. I don’t even know how to describe you. Let’s see, she’s a genealogist….

CeCe: [Laughs]

Fisher: …she helps people with adoptions. She catches criminals. She has super powers! CeCe, it’s great to have you on as always, thanks for spending some time. We sure enjoy getting caught up with you.

CeCe: Well, it’s always my pleasure. Thank you for having me back.

Fisher: Okay. We’ll do it again soon.

CeCe: Sounds good.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert will join me for another round of Ask Us Anything, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 345

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: It is time once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, David Allen Lambert is back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And Dave, out first question is from Landon Pickard in Omaha, Nebraska and he says, "Guys, I have a 1912 license plate from my great grandfather's first car. Are there any records out there that I might be able to tie to this heirloom to learn more about what that car was?" Great question and I think there's an answer for that, Dave.

David: There really are records. In fact, I've seen them from my home state in Massachusetts. I've collected license plates since I was a kid, always trying to pick them up at the antique stores from every state I visit. And of course they're not mine, but I could see where someone could get that confusion in a garage "where did that come from?" So you can look them up. The registries of motor vehicles occasionally have published lists early on, and of course more modern records are going to be private, but they may have an archive. In fact, I think you had mentioned something about a database on Ancestry that you found for one of your grandfathers or great grandfathers?

Fisher: Yeah, one of my grandfathers in Oregon. They have the database of motor vehicle registrations from 1911 to 1946 and it gives his license plate number, his name, his address, the county he lived in, what type of car he had, the engine number on the vehicle, what year model it was and type of car as well. So this is a really good database. And I don't know that this is really uncommon to any state. It’s just that this one has been digitized, but hopefully there's got to be archives out there for various states that would have these on the shelves somewhere when the pandemic breaks, Dave.

David: Well, that's true. In fact, I've seen them in like antique shows and they're very valuable books obviously to collectors. But think about it, if it’s issued by the state try your state library as well as sometimes university libraries. These are the types of things that obviously I wish they were all online, but one state is better than none.

Fisher: [Laughs] That's true, although I will say this, we're always talking about the fact that there's probably still more information that's not online than there is, and this is a really good example of it.

David: It really is. I mean, like I say, I know of the Massachusetts ones. I can't think of any place where I can find them online. Maybe another search could be, you know, motor vehicle registrations and do Archive.org and see what books have been digitized that way too.

Fisher: Sure. That's a great way to do it. My grandfather actually had a barn behind his house in Albany, Oregon and he had every license plate he ever owned when I would go to visit him in the 1960s and the earliest one was 1912, same as this guy's.

David: Wow!

Fisher: So it was a pretty cool thing and I remember thinking, "Man, what did that car look like back then?" And I think my cousin has all those license plates now. Don't think we're getting any of those, but I bet you, they've got to be pretty valuable, right, like you say?

David: Yeah. The early ones were usually porcelain, usually blue and white or white and black or whatever the case might have been, but they're great. They last long too. And they must, because the porcelain was painted right onto the actual metal, so they're lasting a long time they're usually worth anywhere over $100 if they're in good shape.

Fisher: Huh! That's not bad. Well, I always wondered about that. And this is a great question and now I'm kind of inspired to look in other states where my dad or my paternal grandfather had their cars, and maybe it’s another set of databases for the major companies to go out and try to digitize.

David: And remember, you may have another relative who was making license plates on our next question on prison records. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] You're absolutely right. All right, great question from Landon. Thank you so much for that. And coming up next in three minutes, we're going to get another question, this from a gentleman in Westbrook, Maine, talking about his ancestors that headed off to Nova Scotia in the late 1700s. And once again, if you ever have a question for Ask Us Anything, it’s easy to reach us, just email us at [email protected]. Talk to you in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 345

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back for a final question on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David, we've got a question from James Wilmot in Westbrook, Maine. And he says, "My ancestors went to Nova Scotia in the late 1700s. I find a lot of records on them, but I was told my immigrant ancestor had a large farm. I can't find any deed for him. What am I missing?" Good question, James. Dave, this is kind of your neck of the woods. What are your thoughts?

David: Well, yeah, I have family that came into Nova Scotia in the late 18th century as well, and there are deeds. And FamilySearch has a lot of them online, so you can search those. But one thing you may not be aware of is, there is a great website Archives.NovaScotia.ca and on that website, they have land databases and the land in this case is deeds. It’s Crown land. This is land that was given by the crown for settlement purposes early on in Nova Scotia. In fact, there is a great database right down there that you can search for free and get color images of Nova Scotia land papers from this Crown land grant collection that covers 1765 to 1800. Now there are also other databases there as well. In fact, one of the things a lot of people that have been to Nova Scotia for, it’s very beautiful, and if you go to the northern part, it’s Cape Breton. Well, Cape Breton was its own colony until the 1820s. So for instance, if you were looking for Crown land grant in this database, say if you want Cape Breton, you've got to look in a separate collection which they actually have online as well and that's Cape Breton petitions 1787 to 1843. So, it depends on where your ancestor lived in Nova Scotia. The other thing you really do need to keep in mind is that even though they got the land as Crown land, there is going to be a deed where they're going to sell it off and there should be a reference to, this is the same as Crown land that my ancestor received. I can speak for one of my relatives that on the petition, Fish, it’s amazing. I don't have a passenger list of this person, but it tells me the date and the county in Ireland they came from in 1816.

Fisher: Oh wow! David, aren't a lot of these people Loyalists who actually came up from America after the Revolution?

David: Oh, that's true, but actually, Crown land is still a current office in any of the provinces in Canada. So you can still get Crown land if you qualify. I have dual citizenship, but I thought about for myself getting a little summer place somewhere out in the woods near a lake, which would be nice, but I think I'm happy with Massachusetts at the moment. But yeah, you can look at these records. Some of them are going to be digitized online. In fact, there's actually even Crown land grant maps that you can look at that will show the plot of land and then you could use that to match up with Google Earth and see what's there now. So, it’s great fun. And then of course, using deeds as your clue or at least a town that they're paying taxes in, so there should be tax records. A lot of Nova Scotia towns originally before loyalists settled there, they were settled by planters. New England settlers moved up after the expulsion of the Acadians and they carried the old New England traditions of town records or tax records or cattle marks all recorded, so we have what are called township books. And FamilySearch has microfilmed many of those, which we own copies of at NEHGS as well and then some of them have been published. So you may be able to figure out what town or township that your ancestor lived in and then when you're looking at Crown land grants, you can figure out where that plot of land is a lot easier. But some of these databases like I say on the Nova Scotia archives are online for free, so you can get right into them fairly quickly.

Fisher: Wow! Good question and an even better answer, Dave. Thanks so much. And thanks so much to you, James for the question. And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email it to [email protected]. David, talk to you next week.

David: Talk to you soon.

Fisher: All right, and that's our show for this week. Thanks once again to CeCe Moore for coming on and talking about this strange situation, this odd request to dig up the remains of President Warren G. Harding and of course talking about her show and criminal investigations using genetic genealogy. If you missed any of the show or you want to catch it again, of course listen to the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio and Spotify. Talk to you next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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