Episode 350: Classic Rewind - Dr. Scott Woodward On Our Shared Blood With Neanderthals And What It May Mean In Our Response To Covid-19

podcast episode Sep 12, 2022

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 talking about the coming International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. (Want to speak there in Philly next August? Their Call for Proposals is open through November 19!) David then shares the story about how the grandson of a couple who were lost in the Holocaust recently was presented with an important item that once belonged to his grandparents. Next, David talks about an important new database released by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Might your ancestors names be in it?  The British Library has just released a remarkable collection of almost 18,000 maps tied to King George III! Black history Marine biologists have been recovering artifacts from 19th century slave ships and airplanes flown by the Tuskegee Airmen. Hear more about their project.

Next, Fisher visits with Dr. Scott Woodward for two segments talking DNA and Neanderthals and how that may affect our response to Covid 19.

Then David Lambert returns for Ask Us Anything, as we take your questions. That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript for Episode 350 Classic Rewind

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode CR 350

Fisher: Greetings genies! 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. I can't believe this is our 350th episode, unbelievable! Thank you so much for all the support through the years. We have a lot of fun. And coming up later on in the show, we're going to talk to Dr. Scott Woodward, the DNA specialist. We're going to be talking about Neanderthal DNA and how it could affect your reaction to COVID-19, unbelievable! We're also going to talk about full genome sequencing and what you can learn from it, so we've got some great stuff coming up with Dr. Woodward here later on in the show. Hey, don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. You can do it through our website ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page, it’s absolutely free. You get a blog from me each week, a couple of links to past and present shows and links to stories that you will find fascinating as a genealogist. Right now, it’s out to Boston, Massachusetts, David Allen Lambert is standing by, the chief genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello, David.

David: Hey. Happy sesquar centennial anniversary of the episode today.

Fisher: Is that what it is?

David: That is the word, is sesquar centennial.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: It sounds very Bostonian, doesn't it?

Fisher: It does.

David: S E S Q U A R C E N T E N N I A L.

Fisher: I just as soon say 350th, but thank you very much.

David: Yeah, it takes a couple of extra seconds of your time and it’s a big word for everyone today.

Fisher: There you go.

David: So, what's new with you?

Fisher: Well, I'm working on a story about my 4th great grandfather who was a Revolutionary soldier, but he was an orphan first and raised by his uncle and his town was attacked and all kinds of good stuff, so I'm doing that. And I've got to notice by the way, the international conference on Jewish Genealogy is coming up. They're hoping for Philadelphia next August 2nd through 5th is from IAJGS of course and they're taking a call for proposals right now. So if you'd like to speak at this or do a presentation, you can go to www.IAJGS2021.org and you've got till November 19th to get that done, so that's going to be a lot of fun, coming up next August. Wouldn't it be nice if this could actually take place in person? Keep your fingers crossed.

David: That would be wonderful. I'd take anything in person. I would even lecture at a coffee shop if people can sit around and listen.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, you know, our first story has a connection with Jewish heritage. Martin Goldsmith who lives in Kensington, Maryland now has in his possession something that belonged to his grandparents. How many of us do? But many of us don't have to rescue it from a museum that had got it from the Nazis.

Fisher: Oh.

David: This is a 16th century kettle that his ancestors owned and it’s a beautiful little piece. It’s valued at only $2,500, but I'm sorry, something like that is priceless. And it’s an amazing story and it’s on ExtremeGenes.com and you can find out about how it took 86 years to get it back.

Fisher: Yes and Martin's grandparents were killed in the Holocaust, so this is a particularly incredible heirloom.

David: Well, you know, I like to always highlight either a blog or a database from time to time. There's a new one at American Ancestors I thought I'd talk about and that's the Boston Massachusetts Provident Institution for Savings. And this is records from 1817 to 1882. And what's really interesting, there's over 54,000 searchable names. You'll find people that were immigrants and they would record their next of kin and their connection, if they were giving money back home or the native country in which they were from, and that's a really critical piece of information when doing genealogy.

Fisher: Sure.

David: When it may give a better location than, say, maybe what you find on the census.

Fisher: Right.

David: So, that's on AmericanAncestors.org. Another database that I'd love to tell everyone about, go across the pond from New England to old England and the British library has just released 18,000 maps to view for free. And again, you'll find this story on ExtremeGenes.com. And the total count, Fish is 40,000 maps and views altogether when you kind of look at all the different images within it, so. But it’s amazing. And these are part of the typographical collection of King George III. Yeah, we didn't really think highly of him over here in Boston, but I'll look at his maps for free! [Laughs]

Fisher: Absolutely. And they're digitizing all this material. It’s not all digitized yet. But here's the best part, David, no copyright restrictions. You can use it as you want.

David: Ooh yes!

Fisher: Are you paying attention?

David: In New York? [Laughs]

Fisher: In New York City? Are you listening to this? This is really exciting and good stuff. And you know the fun things about a lot of those old maps is how detailed they are as compared to many maps today.

David: Right. In fact, the cover image shows old London Bridge with all the structures on it. And you would think, did somebody have to use a copper engraving line and scratch these things in, it’s amazing the detail on some of the old copper engravings, or better yet, they drew them or painted them by hand. So, great stuff for people to research in jolly old England. My next interesting story I want to share with you is actually one called salvaging another piece of black history. And this comes from the Harvard Gazette and it’s about a group of African Americans for 15 years that have gone out searching for artifacts from sunken slave ships to Tuskegee Airmen planes.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So this is kind of an interesting group. And Albert José Jones and Jay Haigler who was a master scuba diver are working to reclaim this history to help tell the story itself. In fact, they were called in to investigate a Spanish treasure galleon called the Henrietta Marie and a British slave ship that sank off the coast of Florida around 1701. So, interesting things are being uncovered under the ocean from a past that isn't that long ago.

Fisher: That's right.

David: For our radio listeners, Happy Halloween. On the American Ancestors Facebook page, as well as on American Ancestors YouTube channel, which is YouTube/user/AmericanAncestors/Videos, you can actually check out All Things Macabre. It’s a mini lecture that I did on death records, cemeteries and yes, witches. So, if you have a chance and you want to watch something a little academic and a little fun this Halloween or right after Halloween for our podcast listeners, check out All Things Macabre, and I would be deeply grateful for your feedback. Talk to you soon, my friend.

Fisher: All right, thank you very much, David. And coming up next, we're going to talk to Dr. Scott Woodward, a DNA specialist, going way back with some interesting talk about Neanderthals and full genome sequencing. What's that all about? You'll find out in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 350

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Scott Woodward

Fisher: I got to tell you, from the first time I ever met Dr. Scott Woodward I’ve always enjoyed every time we’ve had him on the show, the first time he drew my blood 20 some odd years ago. Hey, it’s Fisher here. It’s Extreme Genes. We’re back and I’m talking to Dr. Scott Woodward again. It’s great to have you on the show, Scott.

Scott: Thank you Scott. It’s good to be back.

Fisher: I am very excited to talk to you about this because this was an interesting little story that came out just in the last few weeks and it talks about Neanderthal DNA and how it can affect our reaction to the Coronavirus and whether it becomes a severe reaction in COVID-19. Ad we see for instance, on 23andMe where sometimes we might have more Neanderthal DNA than somebody else that we match. And that was always kind of fun and interesting and unique and gave us reasons to tease other people. But now we’re looking and going, wait a minute, these Neanderthals are coming back and they might actually have something to do with whether we live or die. I mean, it’s crazy.

Scott: It is crazy being able to identify bits and pieces of our DNA that are shared with what we know about Neanderthal DNA.

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: Of course, Neanderthals have been extinct for tens of thousands of years. But it seems like there was a time probably about sometime between 35 and 50,000 years there was inbreeding event between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon humans (us).

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: And as a result of that, we got some Neanderthal genes in our gene pool. And some of them have stuck around. 

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: Probably between about one and 4% of our genome today in modern humans probably derived from that interbreeding event that happened 50,000 years ago. So, what are these genes that we have, you know, what do they do?

Fisher: Yes.

Scott: What do these Neanderthal genes do?

Fisher: They give us high sloping foreheads, right? 

Scott: [Laughs] For some it does.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: I swear, I walked down the hall of the university, when I used to walk down the hall, now it’s all online, and look at the phenotypes of individuals walking down the hall and think some of them have about 10% Neanderthal.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: But actually, the university that I teach at now doesn’t have a football team so I don’t see quite as many.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: But there are some regions of our genome that we can attribute to Neanderthals.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: That we can also attribute to different phenotypes that we have. For instance, there’s a region of DNA in this Neanderthal DNA that’s found in us that may give people in Tibet an advantage living at high altitude.

Fisher: Ha! Okay. So, it’s not all bad.

Scott: No. No. There’s some advantage in that. And that brings us around to COVID-19. COVID is an R and A virus that has its own genome of about 30,000 base pairs. And it is like other R and A viruses in that it mutates relatively rapidly. It changes its coat. [Laughs]

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: It has a coat of many colors and it changes quite often.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: It hasn’t done a whole lot of that yet. But there have been enough changes that we now recognize about half a dozen different strains of COVID that are circulating around in the world population. And so these genes are out there and we wondered, you know these different strains based on their DNA sequence that are out there and we wondered well, is there a difference in the severity of the infection of an individual with the different strains? And it doesn’t look like so much yet, there might be one or two that are more easily spread, but it didn’t have a lot to do with the severity of the disease. 

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: So, we started looking at our genomes. Just our regular genomes and asking the question, are there regions of our genome that can predict whether or not a person would have severe disease versus a light disease. That’s a big conversation right now that goes on.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, of course.

Scott: Some people are totally asymptomatic and some people die. And so what is the difference between that and is there a genetic difference in those individuals. Well, about a month ago there was a region of DNA that was found, two of them actually.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: One of chromosome three, and one of chromosome nine. The region on chromosome nine is closely connected or closely linked with the gene that determines our blood type, like A, B, AB, or O. And it looked like people who had type-O blood were less likely to have severe disease, which means that they didn’t have the respiratory problems associated with the disease. 

Fisher: Right.

Scott: And then, there was another region that’s found of chromosome three, in that region there’s about oh, about half a dozen other genes that are known to inhabit that region on chromosome three. And that one also, they had a particular version of that region they got severe disease. 

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: So, this was interesting. So, this is when Pääbo and his group…

Fisher: Who is Pääbo?

Scott: Svante Pääbo is the Neanderthal DNA guy in the world.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: He was among the first to sequence the Neanderthal genome, and he has been collecting dozens and dozens of different Neanderthal sequences and analyzing them and comparing them with modern humans and other ancient sequences than the sovereigns for instance. But we can talk about those guys another day. 

Fisher: That’s another time. Yeah. The Neanderthals have our attention right now.

Scott: Right. And so, what he found is when he compared the Neanderthal genomes to that region on chromosome three, he found it a match that it looks very much like that region in modern humans today probably derived from Neanderthals. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Oh boy.

Scott: Yeah. And it’s a region that gives us a more severe reaction to COVID-19. And so he says why, why would that be? And his hypothesis, and this hasn’t been tested yet, but it’s the hypothesis that’s out there, is that this is a region that conferred on the Neanderthals’ strong resistance against viruses. It kept them alive when viruses attacked.    

Fisher: I see where you’re going. Because this is the overreaction we’re hearing about so much now right?

Scott: Exactly. So, we have a lot of people who get COVID. Most of them don’t have a severe reaction but a small percentage just about that same percentage of people who have Neanderthal DNA, same amount of Neanderthal DNA in them, have strong reactions. 

Fisher: Wow.

Scott: So, this is an overreaction in modern humans that are making people severely ill.

Fisher: Now, you’ve made me think about a story I saw maybe two months and I dismissed it out of hand. I didn’t think much about it. And it was out of Spain and they were talking about all these people that were in the hospital with COVID and they noticed how many of them were men, and how many of them were bald. Does that tie in with this in any way do you think? 

Scott: Those types of observations I think should not be dismissed out of hand. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right.

Scott: But what we need to do, we do know that there are about a half a dozen different regions in our genome that are corresponded with different types of baldness, male pattern baldness, other alopecia baldness type things. 

Fisher: Right.

Scott: And I haven’t looked so I don’t know off the top of my head, but those would be the types of places that we would look again for…and you make an observation like that and then we now have the data that we can go out and actually analyze the hypothesis like that and see whether or not that fits. 

Fisher: So, for those of us who get a response to our DNA results on 23andMe and it says, “You have more Neanderthal DNA than 84% of all the other people who have tested’ would that suggest you might be at greater risk then, and is there a percentage of being, you know, higher than somebody else that might say okay, I start to get to this level. You need to be extra careful.

Scott: No. I think we need to be very, very careful about that. That estimate is given to you by any of the genetic testing companies don’t drill down deep enough to tell you whether or not you have this particular region that has now been associated with severity of disease. And so you had to very careful about that because that 4% or 1% is spread throughout the entire genome. 

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: And you may or may not have this particular part of the genome in common with Neanderthals but you have other parts of the genome in common with the Neanderthals that have nothing to do with the severity of COVID. So, we had to be pretty careful about that.

Fisher: Right. So, if we see these higher percentages and say, you know, you’re practically climbing trees compared to your neighbors that isn’t anything that should send up red flags?

Scott: [Laughs] That’s correct.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]

Scott: Yeah. Don’t use that by itself.

Fisher: So, if we were to go look at our genome as least as its presented on 23andMe or elsewhere, would you say that there’s anything you could look at there that could tell you that you have this added risk?

Scott: Yeah. There are a couple of snips about our associated. There’s a snip that’s associated with location on chromosome three, and there’s another snip that is associated with the location on chromosome nine.

Fisher: Right. But we all have three and nine. I mean, how do we know if our little segment on three and nine has to do with the Neanderthal DNA?

Scott: Right. You would have to compare the individual snips that are in that region and see whether or not they most closely align with the Neanderthal genome or with the modern human genome.

Fisher: Hold on, we’re running out of time on this segment Doc, so we’re going to take a break here and we’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about how we can figure this out because there’s got to be a way, right, to know if you’ve got this risky DNA from way back when, right?

Scott: There are ways, yes.  

Fisher: All right. We’ll get to that when we return with Dr. Scott Woodward in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 350

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Scott Woodward

Fisher: All right, we’re back and we’re talking Neanderthal DNA today with Dr. Scott Woodward on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And just to set it up again if you missed it earlier, there’s a story that came out a few weeks ago that talked about certain DNA that we may have inherited from Neanderthals that gives some of us a more extreme reaction to COVID-19 than others. And some of it ties to blood type, that I recall you saying, Scott, was on chromosome nine.

Scott: Correct.

Fisher: And then the other is on chromosome three and we never really got into, can we look this up, say for instance, on our tests at 23andMe or Ancestry’s new Ancestry Health.

Scott: Yeah. So, in the research papers that talk about these two loci in our genome that people who have more severe reactions to COVID share. So, they have regional chromosome nine that is closely linked to blood type and show that people who essentially have type-O blood have a less severe reaction to COVID.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Scott: Now, that’s not an absolute.

Fisher: Right. Sure because there are other things that are involved, there could be obesity. There could be underlying conditions, age, all those things, right?

Scott: Right. So, just because you have type-O blood, which I have. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: I am not going to go around without my mask and mingle in large groups.

Fisher: Sure. That would be silly.

Scott: Because it’s not one hundred percent preventative.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: In fact, all it is a slight indication that I would have a less severe test if I got that.

Fisher: Um hmm. But we can’t find this out from our standard DNA test that we’ve done to identify our great grandparents or a distant cousin, right?

Scott: No. Those particular snips that had been found in the last month or so that are associated with this phenotypes of susceptibility or less susceptibility to the infection by COVID, are not in the traditional 23andMe or Ancestry 750,000 snips that they cast.

Fisher: So, where do we go from there? Is there a bigger test?

Scott: There is actually. There is available now to the general public where you can get your entire genome, all 3.6 billion base pairs of your genome, sequenced.

Fisher: Wow!

Scott: And this is just amazing to me because back in the ‘90s when we first did the original human genome sequence.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: It cost about three billion dollars to get the first human genome sequenced.

Fisher: Wow! That’s a lot of money.

Scott: Yeah. Today, if you look through the cells, you could probably get it somewhere around 400 bucks.

Fisher: That’s insane.

Scott: So, from three billion dollars thirty years ago, now it cost you 400 bucks.

Fisher: That’s insane. Who’s doing it? What’s the company, anything we’ve heard of before?

Scott: Well, the one I’ve used for me, my wife, and some of my kids, has been a lab out of Italy called “Dante Labs.”

Fisher: Ah. I think of infernos when I hear that name.

Scott: [Laughs] So did I. And I wondered at the beginning, because when I first got mine it took a long, long time to get my results back and I wondered if I had just sent my money to Dante’s inferno. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Scott: But it did come back and I was able to compare it with my results from others like the Ancestry results I had, the 23andMe results to see whether they were the same comparable and they were. But the Dante results gave me just so much more data that now I can go in and look at these loci that are reported in the papers this last month about Neanderthals.

Fisher: Yeah. And has it told you anything?

Scott: Yes. So, I found out that on chromosome three, the one that gives the hyper reaction, or that’s what we think that it does.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: I don’t have the Neanderthal version. I have the human version.

Fisher: Ah ha!

Scott: So, that’s good for me, I think.

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: And then, on the chromosome nine snips, the ones associated with blood type. I have the snips that associate me with type-O blood which gives me also the less severe reaction.

Fisher: Wow.

Scott: So, I feel pretty good about that.

Fisher: Yeah you do. You don’t have to invest in so many masks now. [Laughs]

Scott: Well, as I said before, I’m still wearing my mask and I’m going to stay away from people. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. You don’t want to test these results and go, they were wrong. They were right.

Scott: Yeah, I don’t want to be the guinea pig.

Fisher: So, why would somebody do a full genome DNA test at Dante Labs?

Sott: Oh, there are all kinds of things that you can find out about your genome and it’s sitting there. So, two months ago, I didn’t have any idea to look at these snips that would say anything about COVID. But once those papers are published, they’ll publish the snips and I can go and look at my genome to see what is my genotype with respect to those snips. And essentially any study that comes out now, I can go back and I can look to see whether or not I have the susceptible snips or whether I have the resistance snips, or the normal or the abnormal at essentially any place in the genome.

Fisher: Wow. What else can it tell you? I mean, what do they give you with these results?

Scott: Well, the fun thing that I’ve been playing with the last few weeks is some snips that had been identified with risky behavior.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]

Scott: There’s a whole bunch of things.

Fisher: Do you have these?

Scott: Well, I have some.

Fisher: Okay. And what do you have a tendency to misbehave with?

Scott: I think things like jumping out of airplanes and rock climbing.

Fisher: Oh!

Scott: According to my genes. And that actually is pretty close, right on.

Fisher: Really?

Scott: I did not want to jump out of an airplane the first time my wife made me do it, but I really enjoyed it. It was a big rush. So, I thought, hmm that’s pretty good. Same thing with rock climbing, I do that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: Now, here’s one that my wife and I have already did a lot about.

Fisher: Yes?

Scott: And that there are actually snips that are associated with automobile speeding propensity.

Fisher: Ah! So, who’s the Speedy Gonzales in your family?

Scott: That would not be me.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott It would be my wife. And I’m not sure I would want the insurance company to know that. [Laughs]

Fisher: Ah! That would be a good point, yeah, yeah. Hopefully, Dante doesn’t release this information in such a direction.

Scott: I feel pretty good with them doing my genome and giving me the data back so that I have all the data in my hands that’s fairly well coded in their hands. So, it’s behind a couple of firewalls and a couple of coding steps. I’m pretty sure that it’s pretty safe out there.

Fisher: That’s the kind of thing that I’d be up to like 4 in the morning looking at you know, let’s see, what is my propensity for amnesia, for having like six fingers, I mean, there’s got to be all kinds of stuff there.

Scott: Yeah. It’s all there. Six fingers, that’s a common one.

Fisher: Really?

Scott: Yeah, that’s polydactyl. It’s a known autosomal dominant gene that’s been out there for a long time and we do have snips that are associated with it.

Fisher: You know, I actually have a cousin that was born with six fingers and she had to have it removed. I know it’s out there, but you can actually predict that now with this full genome sequencing.

Scott: Oh yes. You can identify whether or not you have the gene for it.

Fisher: [Laughs] Scott, it’s always fun chatting with you. Talking Neanderthal DNA, COVID, full genome sequencing, I mean, we’ve really covered the gamut here. I don’t think we have to talk for another few months now.

Scott: [Laughs] Well, all we need to do is we need to sit down at the computer and do one of those until 4 ‘o clock in the morning things.

Fisher: Oh, that would be fun.

Scott: And check your genome and see how well it fits.

Fisher: I’m going to have to save up my nickels for the 400 bucks for that. That sounds really fun. As always, Dr. Scott Woodward, he’s drawn my blood. He’s probably had more affect on your life due to the research he did 20 years ago, than you’ll ever know. Thanks for coming on Scott. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert is back for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 350

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and David Allen Lambert is back. And Dave, we've got a question from Tim Ripkin in Bethesda, Maryland and he says, "Guys, I can't find any probate record on my ancestor. Church records were burned and there are no vital records for the time period. What else can I look for?" That's always the question, right, when you run out of records. Dave, what say you?

David: Well, my genealogical advice shopping list for this will be deeds. It’s probably one of the most underutilized set of records. There's a lot of things online, but you generally don't find databases of deeds. You really have to browse through them, so that makes it part of the work.

Fisher: Yes, that's true, isn't it? There's a lot of work involved, but boy the detail that can be revealed in a deed that can say, "I'm leaving this to my beloved son." You know, you just go through the same names of the people you're looking for and perhaps you'll find something left to the ancestor who you're trying to connect to them.

David: That's true. My Nova Scotian ancestor did not leave a last will and testament. It was a deed for just that, love and affection and one Canadian dollar for land that my great grandfather got. So that connected that generation. And I have other relatives, again didn't have probate, but you'll see like, one of the eldest children listed then at all for all others, and then list all of the heirs of a particular person selling their right to the land they inherited from their father or mother. You can find that genealogical connect in there as well. I mean, the sad thing with genealogical records are, a lot of these deeds for a while, you had to go to the registry, but now with technology and thanks to Family Search you can find a lot of these deeds digitized and available on FamilySearch.org.

Fisher: That's true. You'll find also however that there are a lot of them right now that you actually have to go to the Family Search Center in order to look at them. Now obviously most of those centers are shut down at the moment, but there are people sitting in the parking lots getting in on the WiFi and doing it from there, which is very clever. And I think it would be very difficult to search through a deed on your phone in a parking lot, but it is an option right now.

David: That is true. And of course a lot of registries have digitized for free their old records and sometimes you can download them as tiff images, jpegs or sometimes PDFs, where they've scanned them and the indexes are online. Just, you know, look through those grantor and the grantee indexes and you may be surprised that your ancestor that you didn't have a connection for parents is now listed in a deed that he received land from his parents. It’s great stuff.

Fisher: Yeah, it really is. I remember one where the grandfather actually left land to the granddaughter and talked about his beloved late son and his only child. Now we don't know who the granddaughter's mother was, never been able to find that, but at least we got the link back two generations as a result of that deed.

David: That's very true. And the other thing, unfortunately, enslaved individuals are mentioned in deeds occasionally, because they were regarded as property, so you may find that surprise in your genealogy, either a clue to your African American ancestry or you may find out that your ancestor owned enslaved individuals.

Fisher: Yes, that's right. I think a lot of people right now are also starting to index the enslaved individuals out of particular areas, so you can find out how they connect to the enslaver and to other people who might be in that area as well. So, great question, thanks so much for that, Tim. And coming up next, Dave, what do we have as a question here?

David: Going to the dogs, genealogically speaking.

Fisher: Really?

David: We have a person here who's very interested in the notes that his great grandmother kept on her St Bernard.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, that's enough! Leave it at that. I know we have a lot of ground to cover when we get back for that question when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 336

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it for our final segment of Extreme Genes for this week. It’s Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert back from NEHGS. And Dave, we've got this question from Melisa in Reno and she says, "Fish and Dave, going through my great grandmother's diary, I read about the elaborate funeral they held for her beloved St Bernard. Is there some way to find out where the dog was buried or more about the dog?" Well, that's an interesting question. I've never thought much about that stuff. What do you say, Dave?

David: Well, I mean, depending where she lived, I mean, there could have been urban or a rural pet cemetery. You can in fact find that some of these existed in the 19th or early 20th century, but better yet, with the idea of being able to search your ancestors on, you know, say, Find A Grave, you know, you can actually search pets on Find A Grave. Try Fido Smith the next time or Beefy Jones.

Fisher: What? Oh, you've got to put the last name in, huh, the owner's name.

David: Um hmm, well that would tie in the ownership, correct.

Fisher: Okay.

David: And people are photographing pet cemetery stones and putting them online. So, man's best friend can be in the same entry in the same town of the pet cemetery. [Laughs] And the human cemetery are in the same place, yeah. Of course, you know, there's a lot of pets who are just buried in their back yard where the house might be now. It could have been a large tract of land. So wherever her ancestor lived, I would first try that out.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Or look in that county to see if there was a pet cemetery.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: That's entirely possible.

Fisher: Well, and then you've got the dog licensing records that could tell you something about, you know, maybe the years that your great grandmother had the pet.

David: And we think about obituaries and death notices, but you know, small town newspapers would record things like, "The beloved St. Bernard of the Lambert family has died."

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: "And a funeral was held behind their cottage on Chestnut Street." So you can know Fido is buried back behind the old house and hopefully isn't now a Wal-Mart parking lot. So, there's a lot of different avenues you can proceed on. I mean, with newspapers being digitized, small town news are great for that, especially if your pet bit somebody.

Fisher: Ohh yes! Yeah.

David: Or missing dog, a runaway pet, reward $10, you know, "Please find Fifi Jones." I mean, "She has run away. Her collar broke." Blah, blah, blah, you know, or sometimes you even hear tragic news, you know, a beloved pet hit by a car or something like that.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: So yeah, you can find it. You know what's interesting, have you ever really stopped and thought where all of your pets from your childhood right to now are buried?

Fisher: No, I haven't. I mean.

David: It makes you think.

Fisher: It does make you think. I only know where one of them is, because one was put down when I was in college and then another was put down after we had to give the dog away, because it wasn't taking well to having a new baby in the house. And then that dog got aggressive with the new people and the new people said, "Nope, not going to put up with it." and so the dog was put down. So, I don't know where that one is, but the one we had for almost 16 years ending in 2013, we know right where she is. And you know, its enormously challenging when you lose a close pet that's been part of your family for a long time. I mean, we don't talk about that much, but that really is an important part of the family. Not the same as the humans, but nonetheless, it’s part of their story and certainly part of understanding who our people were.

David: Well, I can tell you that my last dog sits on a book shelf, his cremated remains are in a little pine box and my instructions to my family is, when they put me in my pine box is to put him in with me.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, if the Egyptians can be buried with, you know, falcons and dogs and cats, well, this old New Englander is going to be buried with King.

Fisher: David, thank you for the answer. And of course thanks also to Melisa for the question. And if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, all you have to do is email us at [email protected]. Talk to you again next week, Dave.

David: Look forward to it.

Fisher: And that's our show for this week, Genies. Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget to catch the podcast version if you missed any of the show or you want to hear it again, certainly share it with your friends, we're on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, I mean, you name it, we're there. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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