Episode 354 - CeCe On DNA Crime Exonerations / Ron Fox On Photos And His Dick Van Dyke MomentDec 06, 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 by talking about a shockingly low price on a whole genome sequencing test from Dante Labs. Neither Fisher nor David has ever done such a test before. David then begins Family Histoire News with news of a Maryland county that’s using a grant to support genetic genealogy in their police work. Hear who it is. Then, the Irish Times has been writing about how the ancestors of several presidents, including incoming President-Elect Biden, had Irish ancestors who all left the Emerald Isle in the same short period of time. Find out when and which presidents came from these people. Then, David talks about a military family that has received a remarkable, and very personal, long lost heirloom.
Then, the one and only CeCe Moore joins the show. CeCe brings us up to date on what’s happening in her world and explains why she feels that her work solving cold cases is exonerating more people than it is finding guilty people.
Next, Ron Fox, the photo expert from Salt Lake City shares some thoughts on finding photos that can enhance your family history stories. He also shares a remarkable experience providing an important photograph to Dick Van Dyke! Hear about Van Dyke’s reaction to the image.
David then rejoins the show for Ask Us Anything as the guys tackle questions about inoculation records and ancestor criminals.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 354
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 354
Fisher: And welcome America 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, today we've got CeCe Moore back. We're going to catch up with her and she's going to tell you why she says her work is actually exonerating hundreds of people. What's going on with that? You'll hear from CeCe. Then a little bit later on in the show, my old friend, Ron Fox is back. He is the photo expert from Salt Lake City, Utah. He's going to talk about a few tips for you, some ideas for capturing some old photos that might relate to your history, plus he's going to tell you his story about his experience providing a photograph to Dick Van Dyke which flipped him out. You'll hear the whole thing, coming up in about 20 minutes. Hey, don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. Go to ExtremeGenes.com or to our Facebook page to get signed up. 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. And right now, it’s time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts where David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello, David. How're you doing?
David: Hey. I'm doing good. And how's the holiday shopping for you and the family?
Fisher: Isn't it nice to be able to just sit at a computer and order stuff and have it show up at people's doors? I mean [Laughs] I like this!
David: Yeah. Cyber Monday is kind of like Cyber month for me, because that's how I'm doing most of my shopping.
Fisher: Absolutely. In fact, I just bought a whole genome sequencing kit for my wife and me for the holidays.
David: Did you like mortgage the home for that?
Fisher: [Laughs] It’s funny you say that. I got a text from Dr. Scott Woodward. You may recall he was on the show just a few weeks back and we were talking about whole genome sequencing. And he talked about Dante Labs and he said watch out for the holiday sales. Now here's the thing, we record the show of course ahead of the time period the show airs and becomes a podcast, so at the time we're recording this, there's a deal on right now for a $599 whole genome sequencing test for just $149… $149! So I don't know if that's still going to be in effect by the time you hear this, but check it out at US.DanteLabs.com. Hopefully it will still be there all the way through the holidays. There's nothing on there that says how long this deal will last.
David: Now what does this test do for people, Fish that the other ones don't?
Fisher: Nothing to do with genealogy so much as health. And it analyses you tendencies. If you go back and listen to the conversation with Scott Woodward, he talked about looking for instance on his wife's genome. She had a tendency to drive fast. [Laughs]
David: Oh god.
Fisher: He said it was exactly right. He says he sits up till 2 in the morning looking at all the different traits that you have by having your full genome sequenced. So, I wanted to try it. I’ve ordered the kit and I probably won’t be able to tell you much till next year, but I’m looking forward to it.
David: That’s great. Well, I’ll tell you, using DNA has been amazing for genealogists, but as we know with everything that goes on with our good friend CeCe Moore is that DNA helps solve crimes, especially cold cases. And this is going on right now with a grant that the Department of Justice gave Prince George’s County, Maryland’s investigators. Now, they’re able to start looking at some of the cold cases that they have. That includes 120 murders, and over 360 assault cases. So, what they’re going to do is take these DNA samples that they’ve never matched against the national DNA database that law enforcement uses and run it against genealogy websites that have DNA evidence on there to search.
David: Like GEDmatch.
Fisher: Like GEDmatch. So, basically they’re just getting all into the game now.
David: That’s right, and they’ve got a grant to do so. So, hopefully that will put some closure to some families and some victims.
Fisher: Yeah, but it’s also going to be the beginning of something that could be a national effort. Wow.
David: Speaking of national effort, of course we look across the pond now at the genealogy of president elect Biden is already being investigated. But he shares something in common with Obama, JFK, Reagan, they all have Irish ancestors who left around ten years, plus/ minus of when the famine happened. So, they have some roots of a common migration.
Fisher: Yes and the Irish Times has been writing about this that they all left during the famine in the 1840s, all these ancestors of these presidents. And now they note that after several generations now they are taking their place in the leadership of the country.
David: And it talks about Biden’s great, great grandfather originally from County Mayo and County Louth. You know, it’s interesting how you look at it and you wonder how many people look at their family tree now and say, oh, wait a second, I have family from that county. I have that same family from that same county.
David: You had that neighbor who was related to Trump.
Fisher: Yeah I did. I was looking at somebody’s genealogy trying to help them and found out that they were like fourth cousins with president Trump. They never spoke to me again. They didn’t want the information.
David: Let’s move on to something even more exciting than DNA, how about uniforms because you know I like military stories.
Fisher: Of course.
David: There’s a great story on ExtremeGenes.com about a uniform that belonged to a veteran from both World War I and World War II but it’s a great story. It’s like that dog-tag that was found in the dashboard, well, this uniform wasn’t found in a dashboard but it’s been returned back to the family itself and I think that’s kind of fun. So, this soldier from both wars, Royal Gervais during the army and served in World War I as well as an infantry officer in the Second World War, retiring as a colonel 34 years later. So, this uniform is found and as most military things, it turns up at flea markets and yard sales and guess what? The family now has it. So, what was once lost is now cherished buy the descendants right around Veterans Day in fact.
Fisher: Isn’t that cool? And the family that wound up having it, they actually put stuff on the internet and showed the different awards above the pocket and got an analysis to learn that it was from World War I and II, and they were actually able to figure out who it was. They did a little of their own investigating online. It was awesome.
David: It’s great stuff. I’ll tell you, military uniforms are great because you can tell all those battle ribbons as to where you were and different campaigns you were in, including of course, that reference back to the First World War Well, that’s about all I have for this week for you as I get ready to partake in wrapping lots of presents. But don’t forget, if you don’t have everything for your favourite genealogists under the tree this year, you can always wrap up an American Ancestors’ membership. Go to AmericanAncestors.org and use the coupon code “EXTREME” and save $20 on your gift giving ideas for genealogy.
Fisher: All right David. Thank you so much. We’ll talk to you at the back-end of the show as we do Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to CeCe Moore, get caught up on with what’s going on with her, and find out why she feels that a lot of the work she’s doing is exonerating a lot of suspects. You’ll hear why, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 354
Host: Scott Fisher with guest CeCe Moore
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth and it’s great to be back with my good friend CeCe Moore. She’s the Genetic Detective on ABC. She is the power behind genetic genealogy with Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Lewis Gates on PBS. She is the person behind the DNA Detective. CeCe welcome back. It’s great to have you. How are things?
CeCe: It’s wonderful to be back. I always love speaking with you so thanks for having me.
Fisher: Well, thank you. Fill us in on what’s new. And I you’re coming up on a milestone with your DNA Detective group and this is pretty exciting.
CeCe: Yes. This week we will hit 150,000 members. I created the group February 27th, 2015 so we’re about five and a half, almost six years in. And I believe it’s the biggest DNA group in the world. I can’t think of any other group with this many people.
Fisher: I can’t imagine. No, I wouldn’t imagine that. What’s going on, on Finding Your Roots? You’re still doing that as well.
CeCe: I am. You know, a lot of people think I’ve just been a consultant all these years. But I’ve actually been a full time production team member all of these years since 2013. And it’s been really hard to balance that with everything else I’m doing. And I’m so fortunate that we finally have somebody else on the show, Kimberly Morgan has come on as one of the associate genealogists working with Nick Sheedy. She is really good with DNA, so this is the first time I’ve had somebody to help me with the genetic genealogy research on the show, and it’s been just wonderful.
Fisher: How fun is that. And we’ve got a whole new season of that coming up in January. We’ve got Dr. Gates coming on at that time to talk about some of the celebrities coming up, so that’s going to be a lot of fun. And of course the genetic detectives have been out there for a while and I would imagine with COVID, that’s going to shut down a lot of things because you did a lot of travel for the show.
CeCe: I did. And I haven’t been able to do anything like that. I definitely have been working from home. It’s also affected Finding Your Roots, but we have been in production. You might notice when you start seeing the newer episodes that the table is longer.
CeCe: They’ve got Dr. Gates a six foot table now so the guests are further away following all of these very strict guidelines for being able to film the show. No one else is in the room except the cameraman typically, and they’re watching from monitors in other rooms. Everyone’s masked up except for Dr. Gates and the guests. They’re doing testing so we are able to continue to create content for that series but it has been challenging. And it’s harder for people to travel of course. Dr. Gates has been driving long distances to get to those interviews in some cases. So the show is going to look a little different, but we hope everyone will still be happy to have it, you know. It’s certainly better to have it even if it’s not exactly the way it’s always been. A lot of cases will only have two guests instead of three. As some people have seen in the recent episodes, they’ve done some remixes where they’ve taken some of the former guest stories and mixed them with newer guests. And so, sometimes people would think it’s a rerun but it’s actually not a rerun it’s a remix.
CeCe: And there’s going to be some new material in that as well.
Fisher: So, this is of course just your side work [Laughs] because your main job is putting people behind bars for things from a long time ago, cold cases, cold case murders, and you’ve actually had a couple of court cases recently as I understood that were won. And this is kind of unique and important for a couple of reasons. First of all, you get a lot of people who confess upfront so it’s never really tested in court, the question of genetic genealogy helping to identify a potential suspect, but when it gets into court we haven’t seen anybody challenging the technique because it’s just treated like a tip. But now you’ve actually had some people who pled not guilty, went to court and got convicted.
CeCe: Right. So, we’re about two and a half years into this now and when we started there was a lot that was unknown of course. We didn’t know how the courts would treat this and how juries would view it. And it took a lot of time before the cases started going to jury trials of course. And so, in the summer of 2019 we had the very first case that went to a jury trial where the suspects had been identified through investigative genetic genealogy. But it’s been pretty slow going. And just recently, we’ve seen a number of cases go to jury trial and get convictions. And so, it’s starting to feather real precedence for the use and acceptance of genetic genealogy in these cases. So, that’s exciting.
Fisher: Well, it is.
CeCe: And it’s a little surprising that there haven’t been more challenges. You know, there’s been a lot of talk about fourth amendment issues, but the defense attorneys are not bringing those issues up by and large. This isn’t becoming an issue in these trials. And so, every time I’m on hold to be an expert witness, I’ve been cancelled without exception. Because they’ve all decided that genetic genealogy isn’t really an issue they can challenge.
CeCe: Now, that’s not to say, you know, that will never change. Maybe a defense attorney one day will challenge it to a greater degree. But it is setting precedence across the United States now. The genetic genealogy really is a tool. This isn’t evidence to be admitted in court in front of a jury. This is a tip that pointed them towards someone, and then it’s the investigation they did from there that is what is used in court.
Fisher: And it is just a tip. And it’s nice to know too that as more and more people get involved in genetic genealogy, we might be able to solve more and more of these things.
CeCe: Yeah. You know, we’re up to a 133 successful identifications. And those are just ones where they’ve been fully confirmed and the agency has told us yes, you pointed us in the right direction, we have confirmed that this is the person who contributed to that DNA. And we have many. Dozens and dozens more that are still in the pipeline that we feel are more highly confident identifications. And so, I think we’ve really proven it.
CeCe: You know, the power of genetic genealogy extends far, to any type of human identification whether it be to traditional genealogy, unknown parentage, adoption cases, or in identifying someone who left their DNA behind at a crime scene, or an unidentified deceased person, many times victims.
Fisher: Now, with all those cases CeCe, how many have you had so far that might have actually exonerated somebody?
CeCe: So, officially, I just have one exoneration from my work and that is the Angie Dodge case. I think we’ve probably talked about it, where Christopher Tapp was formally exonerated.
CeCe: Up in Colorado, California with the Sacramento DA’s help, they also were able to officially exonerate someone using investigative genetic genealogy.
CeCe: They’re doing a lot of work up there. In fact, they just had the jury conviction of the North Cal Rapist up there I think just in this week or last week. So, they’re doing a lot of good up there as well with their team. But there are thousands, depending how you look at it, millions of informal exonerations. Because in every case I’ve worked, they’ve looked at hundreds of innocent people over the years or decades. Many of those people have continued to carry that burden of suspicion in the community, from family members, from friends. So, every time we’re able to finally successfully help identify the real perpetrator, there are many, many, many others who feel that burden of suspicion finally lift off their shoulders. And I’ve actually heard from a lot of those people.
Fisher: I was going to ask you that. What do they say to you about that experience?
CeCe: They’re just so appreciative. There’s a case where a teenage girl was murdered and her sister has always been blamed, which is just insane. The community somehow got in their heads that this teenage girl’s teenage sister was somehow responsible for her vicious death. And it never made any sense. But until we were able to finally identify that killer, who was also a rapist, she was carrying this. She even went on Dr. Phil and talked about what it’s done to her life. And so she is incredibly appreciative. And Dr. Phil just did a follow up about it actually, and had her talk a little bit about what it meant. And it‘s just freeing, you know.
CeCe: It is this very heavy burden that thousands of people, probably tens of thousands of people across this country carry, because they were pulled into an investigation. And the real killer was never identified. And so they’ve never been totally cleared in the public’s eye. Even if Law Enforcement has cleared them, even if their DNA has ruled them out, or they took a lie detector test, they still had this suspicion on them. And in some cases that’s even gotten worse lately and intensified because of all the podcasts focused on true crime. You know, a lot of things will bring up someone’s name and they think, you know, they all suspect us.
CeCe: And that’s really tough. Just imagine if somehow your name was brought up as potentially a guilty party in a case like that.
Fisher: Oh, we see a lot of interviews like that on TV shows, you know, 48 Hours brings up a lot of people like that.
CeCe: Right. It’s the focus in these cases that’s so much on the arrests and the identification, but I am at least equally as proud of all of the informal exonerations or clearing of people’s names. I think that’s hugely important and really have an almost bigger impact over all.
Fisher: To a great extent you are probably right. And do you find that it’s helping a lot within their families, some healing going on there?
CeCe: You know, I don’t think we can ever give a family or a victim closure, unfortunately. The damage is done. But there is something to having resolution and answers, and in some cases, justice. So, yes and no. It’s not like unknown parentage cases where so often our work leads to a happy beginning and a very heart-warming story. These are such difficult painful cases and the families and the surviving victims that’s suffered so much that we can’t fix it. But this is the least we can do for them is to give them some answers, some resolution. And in these cases that do go to trial or have convictions through plea deals, you know, I think it is a huge gift to them. And I’ve also seen the burden lift from their shoulders because many of these people feel that weight of trying to get justice for their loved ones. And for rape survivors, they’re always looking over their shoulder from what they tell me, wondering if that person is nearby, are they going to find them again, are they going to victimize them again.
Fisher: She’s CeCe Moore. She’s the Genetic Detective. She is the force behind DNA research on Finding Your Roots on PBS. And have a great holiday season and we’ll catch up again sometime early next year.
CeCe: Thank you so much. Happy Holidays to everybody listening as well.
Segment 3 Episode 354
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Ron Fox
Fisher: Hey, it has been a while since we’ve spoken about photographs and it’s always a joy to have my good friend Ron Fox on the line. Ron is one of the foremost finders of rare and historic photographs, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ron, how are you? It’s great to talk to you again.
Ron: I’m doing just great, thanks Scott.
Fisher: Boy, you are always showing me new little tricks just for identifying photos which is a great way to go. Talk a little bit about how people can identify places in photographs or date them just by what’s in the photo, yet alone the photographer on the back and some of the standard things you would do that way.
Ron: And that’s just the case. Many people when they do genealogy, they want to know more about their family and what they did and where they worked. And the good old city directories would not only list their home address but they would also say, well, they were working at Joe’s Jewelry Store on 34th and Main.
Ron: And if you could find those photographs that are period whether it’s 1860 or 1960, these directories will help you find the particular store at the right time period that your ancestor was working there. And it’s basically as you go through the years, where you can find these usually are in universities or your public libraries and they’ll have them for each city and for each year that they were ever issued.
Ron: And you can see by the fronts of the photographs of the names of the business, and by process of elimination you can pretty well nail a business by a ten-year period. So, if you’ve got a grandpa that was working in the jewelry store in 1890 and you’ve gone to the 1880-1900s city directories, you’re going to nail that. And it’s just kind of fun to add to your family history something more about their work life and what they did.
Fisher: Boy, you’re absolutely right and it’s not just the work life. For instance, my great grandfather died in a hotel in upstate New York and it was a small place.
Ron: Um hmm.
Fisher: It was one of these areas of upstate New York where they would go to restore their health and one way I was able to find photographs of this place was going on to eBay and looking at the old postcards that people have for sale there and they’ll identify it.
Fisher: And sometimes, the photos can be dated at least close to the period that the photo was taken based on the postmark of somebody who sent that postcard to somebody else.
Ron: Absolutely correct. I have done work with Ancestry.com and they bought a huge collection of European and US postcards for this very purpose. So people can see the street scenes and the city offices and the shops during different periods of time. And it’s a great resource to add to give you the color and the flavor of what your family life was like.
Fisher: Now, I seem to recall that you had a fascinating experience with Dick Van Dyke. What was it, a year or two ago?
Ron: A couple of years ago. He was at FanX in Salt Lake City and he came in and shook hand and took photographs with people and I had work with the owners of that exposition. And they always had me do a little something for a couple of the stars that came in and in one case I did Dick Van Dyke. I just spent a couple of hours on the computer using different resources and I found in a county which he came from a photograph of his grandfather’s home where he actually grew up.
Ron: I think his grandfather raised him more than his dad. So, I found this photograph of this farmhouse and I printed it out and took it to him to show him, here’s some of the things I did and he was just taken back because that was of course the home where he grew up. But, he’s been restoring that home along with a local community there to get it back to when he was a child in the community. And he said, we’ve done lots of research but he said, we didn’t know what this one side of the house looked like. He basically said, this is going to the architects as its being restored. It’s going to go back to look like it was.
Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that great? It’s funny because you were doing some research on him and I know you did more than just the picture. That was just one aspect of all the work you had done and here you stumbled upon this and that was the one thing he really latched onto. And it’s one thing to say, “Here Mr. Van Dyke, here’s a picture of the home you grew up in back in the day.” And now he’s taking it and saying, “Oh, it’s more than that. We’re trying to restore it to look like that, like it looked when I was there back in the day.” I mean, that’s incredible! It’s like two different layers on top of two different layers.
Ron: It is. I mean, one other experience I had with the FanX group was I did something for Sam J. Jones who was Flash Gordon in the movie Flash Gordon.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Ron: Several times I took him different information and he says, “Well, my genealogy is really tough.” He says, “My name is Jones and my mother’s family’s maiden name was Jones.”
Fisher: Oh, dear. [Laughs]
Ron: And he says, “So, it gets a little confusing.”
Ron: So, I started doing the work on that and after about an hour’s worth of work I said, I’ve got to tell you Sam, we’re second cousins because my family is from the same area and I have a Jones in my family and it’s your Jones.
Ron: So, we were literally like second cousins twice removed or something like that, but we were close as far as being relatives, there’s great experiences. Going back to photos though, photography is great in that a lot of people today with the digital photographs have far more captured moments and I really have to tell you that with all of this digital world that we live in, we really do have to mark our digital stuff as far as where it came from and properly stored because those are the treasures of the future.
Ron: And I worry a lot because we don’t print enough photographs and the printed photograph will stay for a lot longer than the digital photograph.
Fisher: Do you think?
Fisher: There are an awful lot of places those things are online and available, and Facebook is of course one of them. But, I would think the best pictures are the ones that people are marking up anyway because we take so many duplicates, triplicates, where we have to delete, delete, delete, delete or you’d run out of room.
Ron: [Laughs] That’s so true.
Fisher: And you’ve got tools now like MemoryWeb, which I think is an incredible opportunity for people to not only store their stuff, but to properly mark it, have that data travel with the photograph, have it visible or invisible, I mean, it’s an amazing tool. And I would think and hope that it’s only going to get better over time and that we’re seeing more and more people starting to get comfortable using tools like that.
Ron: Um hmm. Well, and also, we’re dealing with generational issues with photographs in that our children or our grandchildren are saying, do I really want to haul around all those boxes of photos that my mother and my grandparents had?
Ron: Then, there’s always the photos that were hanging on the wall that were 16x20 inches that are single shots of the grandma or the grandpa that was in the bedroom and looked like it was always staring at you.
Fisher: [Laughs] I have one of those.
Ron: Yeah. [Laughs] It’s almost like going to Disneyland and having the haunted mansion and they look at you.
Fisher: Yes. I’m actually staring at mine right as we speak and he’s looking right back at me. It’s my second great grandfather Fisher, it’s crazy.
Ron: These photos are precious things that we need to keep and be grateful that we do have what we have. And you know, we can take a thousand photographs in a month on a digital camera but we have to remember that our grandparents and our great grandparents had a photo taken sometimes of themselves maybe three times in their life.
Ron: You know, like their marriage, as a child, and maybe with their kids when they’re older.
Fisher: Well, and that’s part of the problem today. I thought about actually creating books and going, okay, here are our family pictures in the 19th century. And here our family pictures, well you can’t say in the 20th century, the book would be too fat. But you could break it down and do a book and say, all right, in the 00s, the 19-teens, and the 1920s, that might make one book, right?
Fisher: But you start to get into the ‘30s, the ‘40s, ‘50s, you do have that explosion and it’s an awful lot of work, but I think to digitize them is to control them. In other words, if you’re thinking about the future and what’s going to happen to these treasures, to digitize them and put them in books, and properly mark them is the best possible way that you can possibly imagine for the next generation to want to keep these things.
Ron: That is so true.
Fisher: He’s Ron Fox. He’s the photo man from Salt Lake City, Utah. And Ron, always a joy to talk to you, great story about Van Dyke, I really enjoyed that. And I look forward to talking to you again soon.
Ron: Very good, thanks Scott.
Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns as we go through another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 354
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, let's get Lambert back in here. It’s time once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And David, our first question comes from Ken in Poughkeepsie and he says, "Guys, as we look forward to the COVID vaccine." and aren't we all, "Are there any records about inoculations of ancestors that we could look for?" That's a really good question. David, you have any thoughts on that?
David: Well yeah, actually there are, and the first thing that comes to mind, it’s not really an American inoculation summary, but it’s a census of church members in Sweden. Besides finding out the person's age year by year, these sort of church censuses also tell you if the person had been inoculated against small pox.
David: Um hm. That's kind of fun. And the other thing is, going this side of the pond, obviously there's a lot of records that were lost in St Louis, Missouri, but if you get into the records that did survive for our veterans of World War II, World War I and that they were in the hospital, you might find that they were inoculated or got certain vaccinations before they got into the service. The other thing is, there are surviving records even earlier. I mean, Revolutionary War, I mean there's diaries and journals. The Civil War, if a person is in a hospital in, say, Washington or one of the camp hospitals, sometimes there are medical records and you can find that perfectly well in a very easy to find place. The pension file, because the pension files talk about the medical illnesses of your ancestor, and if its contributed to why they're getting a pension years later, you know, did they get some sort of exposure to something or did they get small pox or something like that. I mean, in the Revolutionary War, small pox outbreaks did occur in the camps.
Fisher: And I remember too that General Washington actually got small pox back, I want to say in the 1750s in Barbados. And his brother died of it, he survived it, so he understood the seriousness of small pox. So, as I recall, he wanted to have inoculations as they did them back then, for as many of the soldiers as possible, because he felt that could be the difference in the war.
David: That's true. You know, it’s funny, you think about inoculations, I was going through some of my baby book stuff my mother had and I found my inoculation book that was kept at the doctor when I had this shot and that shot. And you know, you laugh at it now, but it’s like, I don't have a diary of my childhood. And here I was inoculated for this and that. And when my daughters were born, I got the shot that prevents chicken pox. I never had chicken pox as a kid.
David: But now I've got a mild version of it when they gave me the shot for it, chicken pox when my oldest daughter was born. I mean, inoculation history is truly part of our own story, and medical records unfortunately like hospitals and doctors aren't kept forever, so if you have medical record on a parent or a grandparent, you might think about preserving them.
Fisher: Well, and they could be of great benefit to those who follow, especially if they wind up with the same condition, you know, inherited.
David: Absolutely. And that's very true of course with DNA telling us everything that we may possibly be susceptible to that we find out in our own genealogical records, "Oh yeah, that's what grandpa had!"
Fisher: Yeah, that's exactly right. And you've really kind of intrigued me here, because my grandmother was Swedish and I had a great grandmother who was Swedish, so now I'm going to have to go back in those records and see if they got inoculated against small pox. Maybe that's why we've never gotten it in my family. [Laughs]
David: Well, that's so probably, not true! But that's okay, and may he continue to adopt you the case of your family, may you never get small pox, ever!
David: You know, it’s interesting when you talk about health history. You know those newspapers back then, any time somebody got sick or if they got influenza during the Spanish Flu, it’s in the newspapers, "Stay away from the Johnson family, because they are quarantined." You mean if people have COVID now, it’s not published in the newspapers, but there are lists. And who knows, genealogically years from now if those will ever become public on something like, say, Ancestry.com.
Fisher: Really interesting. All right, Ken. Thanks for the question, great one. And coming up next, we'll take on another one of your queries with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 5 Episode 354
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, here we go, final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It’s Ask Us Anything. Its Fisher here with David Allen Lambert from NEHGS. And David, this question comes from Patty Felps in Abilene, Kansas and she says, "Fisher and Mr. Lambert." oh, you get the Mr. Lambert.
Fisher: Yeah. "First of all, Happy Holidays. I just learned that my great uncle was a career small time criminal." [Laughs]
Fisher: "What might I be able to find on him?" Boy this is funny that she asks this, because I just heard this very similar thing from a cousin of mine about a branch that's unrelated to me. There's a lot of stuff out there, Dave.
David: Well, there is and I can't claim to be scot-free on this one. Grandpa was a bootlegger, sort of a small time criminal in Boston. And yeah, the newspapers, well that's one thing you can search with Genealogy Bank and Newspapers.com. And, you know, these are great things that you now can search on an ancestor's name and find things like, "was arrested", "went to trial", "was placed in jail", "was now released from jail", things that you’re really not hoping to find about your ancestors, but you know, this many years later, the skeletons in our family closet become really interesting discussions during the holidays.
Fisher: I can't tell you how many stories I dug up for my second cousin in Connecticut about his great uncle, and it turned out that this guy was sent to Sing Sing for six months and he found the actual certificate and it mapped out everything, physical description, what he was in for, how long he was going to go, I mean, it was absolutely amazing to see. Then we started digging and I just used a simple Google search on him and found that there was a book about prosecuting crime in Cleveland, Ohio and this guy by the way was from Long Island.
Fisher: But this book about prosecuting crime in Cleveland used this guy as an example in the book and reviewed his entire criminal career as a pickpocket for his first 15 years of his career, and the book was written by Felix Frankfurter who later became a Supreme Court justice.
David: That's amazing.
David: Wow what are the chances of something like that?
David: I'll tell you, serendipity and genealogy just goes hand in hand. I'll tell you, some of the things that you find, Fish, I'll blow my mind. [Laughs]
David: Yeah, there are lots of records out there. I mean, obviously you want to try to see on the local level if your ancestor was arrested in town, you get the small town papers. Maybe the police department has a record. Sometimes the old annual town reports used to list who's in the lockup or career local criminals, and then you can try county jails, the state prison, and those records might be with your state archives. So there's lots of different avenues and of course then there are people that do the real big time, federal prison, and then you can find a lot of those records on the national level.
Fisher: And I should mention, this book about Cleveland and crime went through his record of arrest there in Cleveland and it mentioned that there had been a mug shot taken.
Fisher: And so, you know, we're thinking, with all the arrests he had all over the country, he was in L.A., Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Jersey City, Brooklyn, Manhattan, I mean, you can go on and on and on and on. So, I'm thinking that this guy's got mug shots all over the place and I would suggest, Patty that you may have a very successful journey in looking into this guy, because frankly, the bad guys make more records than the good guys.
David: That's true, because, if you have a very boring existence, you might just have a gravestone inscription. I love these stories about my grandfather, especially one from about two weeks before my dad was born in the '20s, "Mr. Lambert has been requested to give up the liquor business."
David: So from one Mr. Lambert to the other Mr. Lambert, thank you for your question, Patty.
Fisher: [Laughs] And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, just email us at [email protected]. Talk to you next week, David.
David: Talk to you soon, my friend.
Fisher: And that is our show for this week. If you missed any of it or you want to catch it again, it’s easy to do, because we're on iTunes, we're on iHeart Radio, we're on ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify, you name it, TuneIn Radio, we're there. Talk to you next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!