Episode 377 - “Interesting” WW2 Postcard Leads California Woman on Worldwide Adventure / Paul Woodbury On DNA Painter cM Estimator ToolMay 24, 2021
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher begins with a shout out to the project team at WikiTree on the WikiTree Challenge they just completed on Fisher’s tree. He’ll explain. Then, Fisher talks about posting his discovery concerning the roots of a woman given up for adoption from a Utah maternity house in 1907. Hear about the adoptive family’s reaction. David then tells about an accidental discovery in Egypt as well as a great new database on FamilySearch.org concerning a certain record set in Australia. Also, David tells of a recent burial of a man killed almost 80 years ago at Pearl Harbor. Then, how does an Italian Instagram influencer get to be a princess? Catch the details!
Fisher then visits with Leora Krygier of Los Angeles. Leora discovered a simple postcard from World War 2 at an antique store. And its content took her on an adventure around the world!
Paul Woodbury of sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists visits next to talk about the Centimorgan Estimator Tool on DNA Painter. It’s a little advanced, but still fascinating for the average genetic genealogist.
Then Fisher and David team up again for Ask Us Anything.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript for Episode 377
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 377
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, it’s great to have you, genies. I've got to tell you, I've had quite a week! And I first of all want to give a shout out to all the people who worked on the Wiki Tree Challenge on my tree! Long story, they found some things on some of my lines that I haven't looked at in years, which was fantastic and we'll be talking to some of the people who were involved in that and what they're doing and why and all about Wiki Tree coming up here in a couple of weeks, so be ready for that. And we've got some great guests today. One is a woman named Leora Krygier. She's a writer from Los Angeles who, 20 years ago found a World War II postcard at an antique shop and it started her a journey that you will not believe, plus Paul Woodbury is back today, the DNA specialist from our friends at Legacy Tree Genealogists, talking about a rather advanced DNA feature over at DNA Painter, the CentiMorgan Estimator Tool. What is that, how does it work, why does it matter? Paul will explain the whole thing coming up, so get a notebook and pad ready, because this is detailed stuff coming up in just a little bit. Hey, signup for our Weekly Genie Newsletter right now! Go to ExtremeGenes.com or our Facebook page and it’s absolutely free. You get a blog from me each week plus our links to past and present shows and links to stories you'll appreciate as a genealogist. Right now, out to Boston, Massachusetts where the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert is standing by. David, are you there?
David: I am and I'm blown away by all the great discoveries you had on Wiki Tree Challenge. Congratulations by the way. It’s awesome!
Fisher: Well, it’s astonishing and I'm very appreciative of other sets of eyes in places I haven't visited in years, which was great fun. Got to tell you about another thing that happened this past week. I've been going through some of the materials from my mother's side recently and was reviewing a story that a great aunt of mine, my grandfather's sister had written back in the 1950s about a maternity home that her mother, my great grandmother had run in Salt Lake City, Utah between 1905 and 1909. And she was writing about all these women, some married, some unmarried who would come in there to have their children. And my great grandmother would deliver them and take care of both the baby and the mom afterwards in those days for several days. Well, she tells a story about how one woman wanted to give up the baby, and so, she took this child over to the other side of Salt Lake City to give this baby to this couple that wanted a daughter. Unfortunately, there was a party going on next door and she was afraid she'd be spotted, so she slipped around to the back and knocked on the door and handed it to the excited couple. The arrangement had already long been made. So then she slipped off and then once she'd had enough time to get back home, they sounded the alarm and called the police and said, "Oh, this baby just showed up on the porch and all this." Well, my great aunt wrote enough information about that, the name of the couple and what they named the baby that I was actually able to go in and identify who these people were, the birth date that was in there that was obviously given to them by my great aunt, because she knew what the birth date was and it matched the birth certificate of the birth mother that my great grandmother had filled out when she delivered the child. Well, I also have my great grandmother's birthing book and under the listing for this one child had put, "Mrs. Jones" and so we knew this was the right baby. And so, I posted all this on Family Search and explained what it was and had two relatives reach out to me out of their minds excited, because they had wondered all their lives for decades how that baby showed up on that front porch and now they have the entire story. It was amazing!
David: Oh, that's incredible, wow! That's a great find. And to think that there's another one of these resources you had at your house.
Fisher: Yeah, that's exactly right and it’s a really good point, because without that birthing book, this information couldn't have been put together and that's not anywhere else. It’s just in my closet, right?
David: Yeah. I think it’s time to transcribe that birthing book. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] All right, let's get on with our Family Histoire news, David. What do you have for us?
David: Well, I have a story going out to ancient Egypt, a necropolis in Sohag which was found and this had 250 rock cut tombs. These were accidently discovered.
David: These tombs, Fish are not from kings. They're from average day workers that are not lavishly decorated, they are not encrusted with gold emblems on the tombs. They're just cut into the side of a mountain. But they were able to find pottery and bone fragments, so somebody's ancestors have been found.
David: These tombs date back around 2200 BC to the end of the Ptolemaic Period, which is around 30 BC. Just under 4 million probate records available from Family Search have just gone online, Fish and these are from the public record office in Victoria in North Melbourne, Australia. And you can search on over 2000 of them right now, but again, nearly 4 million images. Thank you, FamilySearch once again.
David: Pearl Harbor veteran, Martin D. Young was a casualty on the USS Oklahoma on December 7th, 1941, and just recently, this month, his burial took place in Lewisport, Kentucky. His body was identified in 2019 and his remains are finally laid to rest in his hometown almost 80 years after he died.
Fisher: You know, that's got to make history come alive, not only for the family members, but for the people who live around that area and actually can observe the funeral proceedings and all these years later, almost 80 years later, we're still remembering and we're still finding and we're still identifying these victims of the Pearl Harbor attack.
David: Who would have ever guessed that an internet influencer on Instagram would be the next heir to the Italian throne? The House of Savoy, which ended after Mussolini came to power, the last king being Victor Emanuel III, his heir, which is now a 17 year old young lady by the name of Vittoria is an Instagram influencer, but she is the next heir. Does that mean that she's going to be the first queen of Italy? Who knows?
David: Well, that's about all I have from Beantown for you this week. So remember, if you're not a member of American Ancestors, my home at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, we would like to offer you a special discount rate of $20 off membership if you go online to AmericanAncestors.org and use the coupon code, "EXTREME." All right, my friend, talk to you very shortly.
Fisher: All right, but coming up next, we're going to talk to a Los Angeles writer who found a World War II postcard that changed her life. You're going to want to hear the story from Leora Krygier, coming up next in three minutes when we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 377
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Leora Krygier
Fisher: Well, you know, everybody has their own unique path to get into family history. I’ve had mine, and my next guest Leora Krygier in Los Angeles had hers. And hers is one of the more strange paths that I’ve ever heard, and Leora’s here to tell us about that. Welcome to the show Leora. It’s great to have you.
Leora: Thank you. Thank you for having me Scott.
Fisher: So, you’re a collector I understand. You like to go to antique stores and probably to a estate sales and things like that?
Leora: Yes. Definitely. I like to sot of poke around here and there. I don’t always buy stuff, but there’s something about other people’s stuff that sort of intrigues me.
Leora: I think about those people and who they were and what they were, and one day I was poking around a local thrift shop and I didn’t even know what I was going in to look for, but I ended up looking for postcards. And I spent about an hour rifling through a box until somebody actually threw me out and said, “We got to close ma’am.”
Fisher: [Laughs] How long ago was this?
Leora: This was all the way back in 2003.
Leora: It was after work. It was like a long day and I was just like okay, let me do something different. So, I go into this thrift store, I rifle through this box of postcards and I don’t even know what I want, and I find something that’s very different. You know, usually all postcards are glossy and you know, having a good time here in Disneyland, or whatever. And I saw this little tiny postcard. It was smaller than the usual postcards and it looked like a thank you card from a British soldier to an American all the way back in 1942. It says, “Thank you for the cigarettes, and God bless FDR and America.” The writing was very intriguing. It was sort of like a very beautiful cursive handwriting, and I said to myself, okay, I’m going to buy this for a whopping 50cents. And I came home with it and I kind of stared at it and I asked myself what if I was going to try to find this guy who wrote this.
Fisher: Oh no wait, wait, this is like 60 years later.
Fisher: Right? 60 years after the fact?
Leora: Oh yeah. I mean, why would I even have that idea?
Leora: I have no idea. But I guess that’s the way my mind works sometimes. And I asked my family and I said, “Would it be crazy for me to you know, start looking for this person? And they go, “Yeah, sure. Go ahead. Go do it.” And I had the serial number. I had the initials and his birth name.
Leora: And his last name. But that’s all I had. And I thought oh, this is going to be easy. I’m going to contact the British military authority and they’re just going to hand me the name.
Leora: But no.
Leora: It didn’t happen that way.
Fisher: It rarely does.
Leora: It never does. World War II service records were confidential so I just had to go about it any old way I could do it in 2003, where the internet wasn’t exactly as able as it is today.
Leora: I went through censuses, and I went through archives, and I went through graphologists, and Britain and it took me a year let’s put it that way.
Fisher: Oh wow!
Leora: Took me a full year with a lot of, “No, I’m not the one you’re looking for. No, I’m not the one you’re looking for.”
Leora: Until I did find the family of the man who wrote the postcard, sweet people in Norfolk, England. And I said to myself, I’m not just going to send it in the mail to them, I’m going to go visit them. So, I took my daughter on a mother-daughter trip to England.
Fisher: Wait a minute, wait a minute, from a postcard to going across the pond to meet the family of the guy who wrote it?
Leora: Yeah. I felt like I really had to do that.
Leora: I felt like I knew this guy. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes, of course, from a few words on a postcard. [Laughs]
Leora: From a few words on a postcard. How crazy is that.
Fisher: That’s nuts. That’s great. But what fun.
Leora: Yeah, I had to close at arch.
Fisher: Of course. Yes, I get that. Yeah.
Leora: So, I go there, we meet them, they’re delightful. The soldier himself unfortunately passed away back in the 50s I believe. But these people welcomed me and my daughter as if we were long lost family. And they invited us and we had tea together, and we went sightseeing together, and I stayed in touch with them for many years.
Fisher: So, what was their response to this postcard? Obviously, you had it for them to show it to them, maybe give it to them. Where they touched by this? Were they close? They’re siblings, right?
Leora: Right. I think it was an older sibling who passed away and in very bad circumstances, you know. He was an artist but he never had any money and it was a pretty sad situation. He didn’t have work. Kind of an unhappy life, and I guess for them, for the family it was as if you know, somebody out of the blue discovered their brother and had the I guess kindness to come and find out about him and bring them back the postcard. They really appreciated it.
Leora: And we became friends.
Fisher: Yeah. Yeah I bet.
Leora: It was very odd. So, how did this all end up making me look at my own family?
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s the question. But I can understand where you learned to learned a little about research. You learned to embrace stories from the past that you’d want to take a look into your own family at that point. I guess the question I have is, why weren’t you into your family sooner than this since you had that kind of late interest?
Leora: You know, I think it’s easier to look at a stranger’s family and to look at all their history, than it is to dig into your own sometimes, you know, when it’s painful a little bit.
Leora: And I think sort of it was easier for me. I don’t know. I think this was all meant to be, you know?
Leora: I’m very much like one of these meant to be people. And I think finding this postcard, and actually, the postcard was postmarked April 21st 1942. And I think that what drew me to that postcard essentially, besides the writing and everything was the postmark, which was my father’s birthday. He was born on April 21st and he would have been 21 in 1942.
Fisher: So, he’d be 100 years old this year.
Leora: Yes. He would have turned 100. And so, I think maybe that was subconscious on my part.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Leora: And then while I was talking about the postcard to the family in England, Tom Maynard who was the brother of the writer of the postcard, he said to me,” Oh, I’m sure you’ve looked into your own family genealogy right?”
Leora: And I looked at him and I was like dumbfounded. And I had like one of those “Ah ha!” moments. And I said no, actually I never did. And that set me on a course and off I went. [Laughs]
Fisher: Wow. So, how long have you been researching your own family now, since the beginning of this, since like 2004?
Leora: Yeah. A lot of research you know, kind of on and off.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Leora: Because there were painful parts of it.
Leora: And I just said to myself I don’t know if I can handle all this at the moment. So, I just kind of was on and off and my parents, they passed away in the last six years and I said to myself you know, it’s time to bring this story to light. I’ve written other books.
Leora: I write novels mostly, and it was time to tell the truth about my own family history rather than hide a lot of things behind fictional characters, as we all do as writers.
Fisher: So, have you then written an actual book for your family to talk about these things?
Leora: You mean like a genealogical book?
Fisher: No, just a history of your family, some kind of book in that way.
Leora: The history appears in my memoir, which is going to be out in August of this year.
Leora: I wouldn’t say it’s like hugely long history, but I think it does sort of like tell you about the important points of each of my parents’ life.
Fisher: Sure. And did you find though your research in your parents and your grandparents some of the answers you were looking for, and did you find it gave you some healing?
Leora: You know Scott, actually it did. I mean, I don’t think we can understand ourselves or our parents until we see what came before. And I think with understanding brings a certain amount of redemption. I mean, it doesn’t erase everything. You know what I’m saying?
Fisher: Right. But you understand the “whys” all of a sudden.
Leora: Yes. Yes, I really try to understand the whys of my father in particular. And I think this research and looking into his past and looking into his parents and what they went through in their lives, I think it really did bring me to a point of understanding. And I call it redemption.
Fisher: Yeah. Some relief from what you’ve dealt with over the years and to actually have to face that took a certain amount of courage I’m sure. Would you encourage other people who have been through painful pasts to do the same?
Leora: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I have to say that one of the best tools that I use comes out of Utah, Ancestry.com. I mean, it is amazing what I found [Laughs] on that site. And I would say to anyone that’s maybe their first flash pad. Go there first because I really found out a lot. It really brought out a lot of things. And then from there I could go to other resources.
Fisher: And are you still researching today?
Leora: Well, you know, it’s funny, somebody just asked whether I would go and look and find another postcard [laughs] and go do that again.
Leora: And I said, that took a lot of energy. But you can never say no. I don’t know. It might hit me one day. [Laughs] I might go back to that same thrift store and find somebody else to research.
Fisher: She’s Leora Krygier. She’s in Los Angeles, and had quite the start to her genie career tracking down a writer of a postcard from 60 years earlier. Leora, thanks for sharing your story. Fantastic stuff, and good luck with your new book coming out in August. We look forward to hearing about it.
Leora: Thank you so much Scott. It was a pleasure talking to you. Have a great day.
Fisher: And coming up next, DNA specialist Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists talking about a really cool tool if you’re working with DNA Painter in your genetic genealogy research, the CentiMorgan Estimator Tool. You’ll find out more coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 377
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury
Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and it’s great to have Paul Woodbury back on, my good friend from Legacy Tree Genealogists, one of our great sponsors. And Paul is going to take us down a little road involving DNA research today that might be a little deeper in the weeds than we’ve been used to in the past, talking about the CentiMorgan Estimator Tool now over at DNA Painter. Paul, I guess, just from the beginning for people who aren’t familiar with this kind of research, let’s talk about the very basic, what is a centimorgan?
Paul: All right, yeah. I’m happy to talk about that. So, centimorgans, we use them commonly in our genetic genealogy research. We often will point to the number of centimorgans that we share with a match as we’re evaluating how significant they might be. We use the amount of DNA and we kind of refer to it as an amount of DNA in terms of centimorgans that we share with somebody to evaluate how closely related they might be. And I think we often refer to this measurement but a lot of us don’t have quite a firm grasp of what it actually is. In all actuality, a centimorgan is a measure of the probability of recombination over one generation. So, if you look at it, 100 centimorgans, a segment of DNA that is 100 centimorgans, what that means is, on average there will be one recombination or one crossover event between those two locations in one generation. And that’s important because, the way that our DNA is organized, different parts of our DNA are more likely to recombine than others. So, we have some ballpark estimates of determining how many centimorgans corresponds to a certain number of base-pairs but those estimates really aren’t exact, because you could have ten million base-pairs of DNA at a very beginning of a chromosome that could be 20 centimorgans, whereas you could have ten million base-pairs in the middle of a chromosome that is only one centimorgan. And so really the centimorgan value depends on the likelihood of recombination where that DNA is located across the chromosome and the likelihood of recombination in that area.
Fisher: So, let’s talk about DNA Painter. I mean, Johnny Pearl came up with this several years ago and since then it has become really an invaluable tool for genetic genealogy and I’m a little confused about what a Centimorgan Estimator Tool is and why it’s important.
Paul: Yeah. So, what Johnny has done is he’s created this tool in collaboration with some others to help us plug in any chromosome number the start location and the end location and it will generate an estimate for the centimorgan value for that segment of DNA. I mean, that’s fun to know but how is that useful to us in genetic genealogy?
Paul: I thought of just a few applications where I’ve had an opportunity to apply this and it’s really been helpful in some cases for genetic genealogy research. The first, imagine that you have a test that you’ve taken at 23andMe. At 23andMe, with our test results we get an ethnicity chromosome painting that shows the chunks of DNA that have been assigned to different populations.
Paul: And not only do we get that painting but we also have the opportunity to download that raw ethnicity data so we can actually get the chromosome start location and the stop locations for each of those chunks of DNA that come from different regions of our ancestry.
Paul: So, now imagine that in your ethnicity painting you have this tiny little sliver of let’s say Native American add mixture. If you download the ethnicity raw data and take that chunk of DNA, the chromosome number, the start location and the end location of that chunk of Native American add mixture you can then go and plug that into DNA Painter CentiMorgan Estimator Tool to determine how significant is that segment? Is it one centimorgan? Is it three centimorgans? Is it twenty centimorgans?
Fisher: Um hmm.
Paul: As a general rule we often point to segments being significant or not at a threshold of about seven to ten centimorgans.
Paul: So, if it’s smaller than seven centimorgans it might not be as reliable as we might hope. It might not be a true segment. It might be background noise. It might be miss attributions of the ethnicity add mixtures. So it might just be kind of a blip, but it’s larger than that. It gives us a lot more confidence to say, yeah, I do have an ancestor who contributed Native or African, or Eastern European, or Jewish, or whatever ethnicity you might be analyzing.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Paul: I have an ancestor that contributed that DNA to me and we’re further confident that this is a true segment.
Fisher: Right. And if you have that background story that you’ve been told for generations about it, this can help confirm that.
Paul: It can help. It can start you down the path to then go and see, okay, did I inherit this chunk of DNA from that particular line that I think it came from?
Paul: So, it opens up some doors and windows for possibilities for research avenues.
Fisher: Okay. So that’s a great application. What else?
Paul: So, another application is when you might be looking at the DNA that you share with known relatives. Let’s say that I have two genetic cousins and I know that they’re both related to me through a common ancestor. They are both related to me let’s say through my third great grandfather. I know that we are all related through that individual and we’re related through different descendents of that third great grandfather. And let’s say they share DNA with me on a triangulated segment but it’s kind of partially overlapping.
Paul: So, let’s say that one match shares with me on chromosome two between one hundred million and one hundred and fifty million base-pairs, those locations. And then the second one shares with me between one hundred and twenty five million and one hundred and seventy five million.
Paul: So, they’re kind of overlapping but they’re not sharing in the exact same location, but we have one that starts earlier and ends kind of in the middle of where the other one starts sharing. And then the other one shares a little bit further along. So, we’ve kind of got this composite segment that I inherited from our common ancestor but I only share parts of it with my relatives who are related through that same ancestral line. We can kind of estimate approximately the centimorgan value through that composite segment that I inherited from my great, great, great grandfather but the centimorgan estimator tool gives me a really valuable application to be able to take the start point from my first match and the end point from my second match and really combine those segments together to get a new estimate for what is the centimorgan value for this entire segment that I inherited from my third great grandfather?
Paul: So, it can kind of help us take that next step and then combine those segments together as we’re mapping those relationships.
Fisher: So, this is kind of an idea for people who are just getting into genetic genealogy, don’t let all this frighten you. This is a little more advanced, wouldn’t you say, Paul?
Paul: Yeah. I mean, this is definitely something that you’re going to be doing a little bit further down the road in your research process. Usually, I only get to chromosome mapping a little bit further into the research process, but they can be helpful for particular situations when we might be exploring these questions in relation to a research problem.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. So, where do you see this all going now? I mean, DNA Painter has evolved a lot since it first came to our attention, what, about 4-5 year ago now? What else do you think is coming down the line with them?
Paul: You know, I don’t know, but I am excited. I really have loved the tools that they have released to us. We’ve got some great tools to help and assist in learning more about your genetic genealogy and really taking DNA evidence and really crafting it in a way that you can interpret it, understand it, and help achieve and come to genealogical conclusions.
Fisher: Well, I know there are a lot of heads that have exploded over your explanation here Paul, mine has. I’m going to try to put the pieces back together, but it’s nice to know it’s there and it’s nice to know that it can be useful for us as we deal with some of the more challenging matches that we’ve come across in helping us to prove our ancestry and break through some of those brick walls. Thanks so much for coming on Paul. Appreciate it.
Paul: Thanks for having me.
Fisher: And coming up next, it is the return of David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, for another round of Ask Us Anything, answering your questions when we return in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 377
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, it is time to answer your questions on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fish here with David Allen Lambert back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, our first question comes from Rex in Anchorage and he says, "Guys, my third great grandparents were supposedly married in London in the 1820s. How tough is it to research London in this era? Love the show. Rex." Great question, Rex. Thank you.
David: Yeah, you know, England is fairly easy to research, but when you get to the larger cities, like London or Manchester, it gets a little harder, because there's more than one church. [Laughs]
Fisher: A lot of them.
David: You know, one of the places that I visited back when RootsTech London went on a couple of years ago is, I went to the London Metropolitan Archives and they have a lot of the church records for the Church of England records in greater London. It’s a great place, but again, you have to look at the originals there or on microfilm. Not anymore. Thanks to Ancestry.com, they have placed some really amazing databases, one of them includes marriages, and marriage bands 1754 to 1936 which definitely covers the 1820s from over 10,000 Church of England parish registers, including the bishop's transcripts. And why those are important is that the parish may have had a missing book. A copy every year was sent to the bishop's office, so the bishop's transcript is a copy of the original marriages, and it’s very, very useful to fill in those missing gaps. And of course, Church of England records go back to 1538.
Fisher: Yeah, so there's a ton of stuff to be found out there. Recently, we found the marriage bands of my second great grandparents and it named the church that they were in. Now this was from the database at FindMyPast. But, over at Family Search, they actually had the images of the marriages of that particular parish, so I was actually able to go and search through there. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find it, so it became apparent they must have gone on and gotten married in some other parish. But you can go across multiple platforms, many of them free, to try to find where this information is. And with these new databases from Ancestry, there's a ton of new stuff to find there. In fact, I found another daughter of a set of my third greats over in the London area, found her marriage record then later on another record and it turns out that the witnesses were a known sister and brother in law to this person. So that validated that we had the right person, pulled that down and found their children, plugged it into one of my DNA matches and suddenly one of my unknown DNA matches made sense. I figured out exactly how she was related to me. So, this DNA match, by the way, still lives in the London area and I was able to actually reach out to her and tell her the good news that, "Hey we found the connection." and here's a line that goes back multiple generations for her. There's a lot of material between FindmyPast, Family Search and Ancestry.
David: That's true. That's very true. In fact one of my New Englanders actually went back to England and died in the 1600s and I was able to find his burial record from the London Metropolitan Archives again. Now I can look at it on Ancestry.com. And when I went to the church, which is still standing, the mound of earth near the entrance is higher than the door, because of layer upon layer of burials over the years.
Fisher: Wow! It’s so different over there where the land is so limited. Same thing in Germany, right? You can have a grave, it’s like Rent a Gave for 20 years.
Fisher: And that's it, then you're out! You know.
David: [Laughs] So is that a temporary Find A Grave or Billion Grave entry then?
Fisher: Pretty much so, yeah, absolutely. So this is a great question, Rex. And go at it, you're going to find that there are multiple places that you can go and you should work across. You find something in one place, you work it on one of the other sites then, back to maybe a third site, and there are a lot of people online also volunteers who can help you in some of those places as well. So, hopefully that answers your question and you have a lot of great success. And we've got another question coming up for you here in just a few minutes, so get ready for that as we continue with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 5 Episode 377
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, time for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It’s Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert back to help out here. We have an email here, David from Abbey Rickman in Togus, Maine and she says, "Guys, how can I track down a family story that my great grandfather robbed a bank in Montana?"
Fisher: We seem to have a lot of criminal ancestry in our families here that listen to this show, you ever notice that?
David: Black sheep are the best sheep to have in your family tree.
Fisher: Well, they make more news. They certainly leave more records, don't they?
David: Um hmm, I like paper trails.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
David: And in this case, I would think the paper, as in the newspaper, may be your best bet. And of course there's Newspapers.com, there's Genealogy Bank. There's a lot of different places that have taken local newspapers, scanned them and transcribed them. I mean, I know this great genealogist from Connecticut who did this wonderful book on vital records from the newspapers Henderson News. So you never know what may already be out there. The reason I would search records is there's three instances that are going to probably come up on them, especially if it’s a small town paper, you know. Hopefully it was a local bank, but you're going to have the arrest and then you're going to have the trial and then you're going to have the incarceration, hopefully not the execution.
Fisher: Well, I would imagine she would have mentioned that. [Laughs]
David: Um hmm.
Fisher: An execution of all. It’s fun, because recently I had a first cousin once removed drop by to visit me. I'd never met her before. I talked to her a couple of times, exchanged a couple of emails some time back. And she was telling me about my aunt and how her first husband had a prison record and we looked it up online and found his mug shot. I'd never seen a picture of him before. And he was actually in prison in California for two years simply for perjury. Two years for perjury. So we've got a picture out of it at least for his two years of misery, then married my aunt. So that was really interesting to see. But some of these will come up very, very easily. It’s not hard to find.
David: No. And the thing about it is, you're going to get clue on the court from the newspaper. It will usually say, you know, is that the superior court or the district court and that's going to help you, because then you can contact either your county or state archives to see court records. And of course, don't miss the chance of maybe they've already been microfilmed by Family Search, so look on your county and state level for those once you find what court held that trial. And the other thing is, if he was of course put into jail, you have a three tier system on that, was it a local jail that held him temporarily and are there jail records on a town or historical society level, county level or better yet, state. I doubt very much he probably went to federal prison, but you can always try that, too.
Fisher: That would all depend on whether or not he went across state lines or something like that that the feds would get involved, then it gets a little bit more interesting or was it a federal bank that he robbed, you know, something like that.
Fisher: And the rules in different states can affect your access to some of these records, because like for instance, divorce records are not at all available, no matter what the time period in Idaho. I don't know why. But in New York, they are sealed for100 years. So, you know, it’s really different in each place, but if you really want it and you really want to track down that information, you just go from place to place, find out what the rules are and find out who knows where that stuff is. And I think we should throw in another couple of free sites for newspapers that are pretty easy to access, that would be Chronicling America from the Library of Congress and Fulton History, an amazing place, especially if you have ancestry from New York City or New York State.
David: It’s out there some place. Just put on that detective hat and go look for it.
Fisher: All right, thanks so much, Abbey for the question. And of course, if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, all you have to do is email us, strangely enough, at [email protected]. David, as always, thanks so much. Great to have you on, buddy.
David: Always a pleasure to be here.
Fisher: All right, talk to you next week. And thanks so much to our guests today, Leora Krygier for her story about the World War II postcard that started an amazing world travel adventure for her and her own genealogy. And to Paul Woodbury from Legacy Tree Genealogists, talking about the centimorgan estimator tool at DNA Painter. Hey, if you missed any of it, catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, wherever great podcasts are found. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!