Episode 387 - Solving A Cold, COLD Case… Research In The South

podcast episode Aug 16, 2021

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David opens congratulating Fisher on his new ExtremeGenes.com website and course offerings. The guys then dive into an amazing collection of 1860s era handwritten genealogies currently on eBay. They were created in response to an author’s request and were later used to create a book on descendants of the Hart and Andrews families. They are a great example of what might be found on your family!

Next, Fisher visits with Anthony Redgrave of the DNA Doe Project. Anthony and his team were able to identify murder victim… one that was found in a cave and dates back to 1916! Hear how they got the job done!

Then Fisher chats with Robert Cushing of Legacy Tree Genealogists. A Georgia native, Robert talks about the records of the South which are forever lost, as well as others that survived the Civil War that can help you in your Southern research. There’s often more out there than you think!

Then, David returns for more of your questions on Ask Us Anything.

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

Transcript for Episode 387

Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 387

Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Hey, we’ve got some great guests today. First of all, Anthony Redgrave is going to be here in just a little bit from the DNA Doe Project. And he’s been the team leader with this group that a few years ago were able to identify a murder victim. The shocking part about this was that the murder took place in 1916. Yeah, you’re going to want to hear how they solved it and the story of the man whose remains were found in Idaho years ago. And then after that, Robert Cushing’s going to be here from Legacy Tree Genealogists. He’s going to share some knowledge about Southern research. So, anybody who’s got some Southern ancestors is going to want to listen to what Robert has to say because obviously researching the South is kind of troubling because so many of those court houses burned, so we’ll hear what he has to say. Hey, let’s bring in David Allen Lambert, our Chief Genealogist from the New England History Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David welcome back.

David: Thank you very much. And I just want to tell you that my ancestor in the Civil War did not burn out any court houses that I know of.

Fisher: That’s good to know.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, some of them did that and they weren’t doing it under orders. They just were mad.

David: Yeah. There was a lot of rage going on during the war. Of course, it probably happened in a lot of wars. But I’m doing great. No rage. Not burning any court houses down this week.

Fisher: [Laughs] I’m actually building things. We just built and launched our brand new website for ExtremeGenes.com and I’m very excited about it. And one person described it as having a “new car smell” I like that.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: I think you don’t hear that about websites too often.

David: You develop the smell vision for the internet. We’re going to retire. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Absolutely. So, we’re offering free genealogical strategy road maps, and a free DNA starter guide, and some courses as well because you know, after eight years I figured it’s about time maybe we helped some people along in understanding what DNA can do and just how to do the basics of genealogy. So, check out our new website, our new ExtremeGenes.com. I’m pretty excited about it.

David: I think it’s great. Congratulations.

Fisher: Thank you sir. Let me tell though, something that came up this week that just blew my mind and this might fill the rest of our time here in this first segment. On eBay the other day, and you play there all the time as I do, there was a letter that I came across that was written in 1862 by a guy named Reuben Hitchcock in Connecticut. And it’s addressed to Mr. Alfred Andrews. It’s dated from Cheshire, Connecticut December 27th 1862. And he said, “By your request, I take the opportunity of answering your letter, which I received yesterday. I’ll give you the date of my marriage, which was January 1st 1832. The names of my parents were Asa and Asenith Hitchcock. The date of my birth is June 17th 1794. The names of my children” And then he goes through them. Two of the three had passed away, “And the date of my wife Rhoda’s death was June 15th 1846. Respectfully yours - Reuben Hitchcock.”  And the envelope that it came in was part of it on eBay all of $13 bucks.

David: Wow! Was it relatives?

Fisher: Not to me no, not at all. But I looked at it. I was just looking at some handwritten items from the 19th century and you know, you and I both advocate for looking for things on eBay all the time that might relate to the family. I’m looking at that and going, boy, I’d like to find some way to relate it to my family [Laughs] because that’s a treasure.

David: It really is.

Fisher: So, I wound up going over to Family Search first and saw that only the volunteers had put something about this couple on the family tree. It didn’t appear there were any descendants who had been part of putting up that information. So, I went over to Ancestry and found only one tree actually had this couple on there. So I dropped a message through Ancestry messaging to this person and said, “Hey, you’re not going to believe what’s on eBay” and by the morning she had that thing bought. And she was so tickled and excited about having it. So, I kind of dove into what exactly was going on there because why would somebody write such a letter in the middle of the Civil War, and this is what it said, “I have a huge collection of letters I’ll be listing from the 19th century written by and to the Hart and Andrews family is tracking genealogy back to the early 18th century. And apparently, this was used for a book called “A Genealogical History of Deacon Stephen Hart and His Descendants, 1632 to 1875”. David, when I went back to see what this guy was selling, he has dozens of these things if not more.

David: Wow! That’s a shame that they’re not in a library or someplace.

Fisher: Well, yes. And apparently, they were at some point where the historical society that put them up for consignment. So, I don’t know what that was about or why, but you know, it really does illustrate that you really need to keep your eye on eBay for things that might relate to your family because what a treasure that is. It’s really kind of like inheriting a family bible page.

David: It really is. I would love to come across something like that. So, you keep on searching eBay auctions and tell me if you find any of my family okay. That’s great.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it’s interesting because included with this was the original envelop that the guy enclosed this letter in and it says as the return address “From Reuben Hitchcock of Southington, married Rhoda Hamblin… their family” And then it’s addressed to the guy who eventually put together this book on these descendants, so I looked at many others, none of them relate to my family but I would suggest anybody who wants to get an idea of what you might be able to find on eBay to go in there and check out these handwritten letters and put in the key words “Hart” and “Andrews” and “handwritten” and that might help you find that. It’s an amazing thing and I wish you the best of luck!

David: Hey, that’s great, and I’m sure the person that you connected back with their ancestor’s letter truly appreciated it. That’s amazing.

Fisher: Oh yeah. And she still lives in Connecticut too where these people were from.

David: Wow! Thank you very much for allowing me to hear that exciting story.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: I’m going to have to go to eBay now and start searching for ancestor stuff until 2:00a.m.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: and if you want to see a place that’s been collecting things since 1845, American Ancestors welcomes you to come in and become a member. And you can use the code EXTREME when you checkout on AmericanAncestors.org and save $20.

Fisher: All right David. Thank you so much. We’ll see you at the backend of the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, the story of a murder victim identified only a few years ago after his death in 1916. Hear how it was done with the DNA Doe Project coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, Americas Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 387

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Anthony Redgrave

Fisher: Hey, we are back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And one of the amazing stories came about with the discovery of a corpse in a cave in Idaho. And my next guest was able to actually figure out who he was and when he got there, and it’s an amazing story. Anthony Redgrave is on the line with me right now from Redgraveresearch.com. Anthony, how are you? Welcome to Extreme Genes.

Anthony: Hi.

Fisher: This is quite a story.

Anthony: Oh yeah.

Fisher: I mean, we’re talking going back 104 years at this point, and using genetic genealogy you were able to put this whole thing together. First of all, give us a little background. How did you get involved? And then tell us a little about how the body was found.

Anthony: Sure. I’m a team leader and case manager for the DNA Doe Project, which is a non-profit organization that has been around since February of 2017. So, I’ve been working on cases through them for quite some time. My wife and I, who also is the co-team leader of the case and also works with me on DNA Doe projects, we made friends with a biological anthropologist who lectures at the University of New Hampshire. She had previously been employed by Idaho State University and that’s how she had learned about this case. The remains had been housed there since 1991, and the students had been using it to learn on. And law enforcement had kept the case open and they consulted with her about getting a new analysis done of the remains. They really were continuing to try to identify this man.

Fisher: Wow!

Anthony: And she found out about what we were doing and was very interested because nobody had ever tried that before with them, and she wanted to give him the best chance of being identified. They tried everything else. They tried the FBI, the Smithsonian Institute. Everybody had had a crack at it. So, she got in touch with the Clark County Sheriff’s office and got their permission to submit the case to the DNA Doe Project to be worked. And then the DNA Doe Project helped them through the lab process because with unidentified remains you can’t just ask them to spit in a tube and mail it to Ancestry.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] 

Anthony: There’s actually a very complicated lab process that goes into that.

Fisher: Right. Sure. Did they have any idea how old this thing was?

Anthony: Here’s the kicker. The anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute Dr. Douglas Ubelaker, he was very hesitant to give any sort of post-mortem interval because he’d seen cases in which remains that were in those conditions before were 100 years old. A post-mortem interval is the time in between when remains are found and when the person actually died. So how long had it been sitting there? This man in this case, he was dismembered, but his remains were in a condition called adipocere or grave wax and that means that he was basically mummified.

Fisher: Wow! Mummified in a cave in Idaho.

Anthony: Yeah, the conditions are perfect. I went there when we went for the press conference, and it stayed a cool 55 degrees and it’s really dry all year round.

Fisher: Okay.

Anthony: It was like 17 degrees outside of the cave, and it was really comfy in there.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Anthony: So, I understand how it happened.

Fisher: Sure.

Anthony: So, Douglas Ubelaker, he was asked to give this post-mortem interval and he was very uncomfortable doing it. And he very reluctantly said five months to five years. And based on the fact that it was giving off a smell there was still a lot of soft tissue. But he had seen cases where remains had looked like that and were Civil War soldiers.

Fisher: Oh wow! That’s unbelievable. You mentioned it was at the university in 1991, but at what point did they actually find these remains? 

Anthony: The first time the remains were found was in 1979. A family that was doing some artifact hunting in one of the smaller lava tubes off the main one, they found the torso first buried in a shallow ditch. The soil there is really still deep, volcanic ash basically.   

Fisher: Okay.

Anthony: And it’s entirely possible that he was buried deeper and just came up from erosion. But they found his torso in 1979 wrapped in a burlap sack and then again in 1991 another family doing the same thing found his limbs. They still haven’t found his head. There was a very extensive archaeological excavation done to try to locate any trace of the skull or anything. They brought cadaver dogs in and nothing.

Fisher: That’s crazy.  So, you got started on this. You got his DNA, and then you went to work. How long did it take you? Now, you said you had a team. How many people are on your team?

Anthony: We’re a team of about fourteen people, and it took us about three and a half months.

Fisher: All volunteers?

Anthony: Yes.

Fisher: Wow! That is amazing. And so, you all worked on this thing together. As you got the kit up to compare to other people’s DNA test results, people like you and I, who sent in our spit, what did you find that helped you to identify this individual?

Anthony: What we found was that there were great many DNA matches who were fairly close cousins. The top matches were somewhere between the first and the third cousin range, so we thought oh, this is a goldmine, and we’ll have it solved by the end of the night. I think I stayed up for about two days straight wondering why I haven’t solved it yet. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, of course, there was a generational difference at this point that you weren’t aware of, right?

Anthony: At this point I wasn’t aware of that and it was also unlike anything we’d ever seen before. We noticed that a lot of these genetic cousins were linking into the Loveless family. Now, what was starting me off here was that there was someone with a really substantial match on the X chromosome. So, I was thinking the Loveless family was on the maternal side. But, given that all these relations were three times removed, given the age, and I didn’t know that at the time, I had one of our other volunteer genealogists who’s far more experienced with Y-DNA come in and tell me no, his Y-haplogroup is pointing to Loveless, so that’s actually the paternal side.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Anthony: And that’s when we started figuring out that there were so many removals. It was very interesting to see how that played out. Usually, when we make an ID, we get people who are not that far removed. Because when you’re working on your own DNA, you usually find somebody who’s only one time removed, or two times removed, this was three.

Fisher: Sure. At the most. This was three.

Anthony: The closest we had was three times removed, yeah.

Fisher: Wow!

Anthony: And also, here’s another fun fact. He’s descended from pioneers and he comes from a family that is full of half relationships because his grandfather had four wives and somewhere around fourteen children and those children had at least ten children each. There were a lot of people to look through. We ended up with three or four different possible candidates for his identification. And it was just a matter of figuring out which one ended up in the cave. But it taught us that working with the DNA of descendants of pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that there’s not only endogamy because of the small population, religious communities and isolated communities, but there’s also a lot of half relationships because of the polygamy.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Anthony: So, on one hand we have something that’s making people look like they’re sharing higher, but on the other hand we have something that’s making people look like they’re sharing lower.

Fisher: Yes, complicated, isn’t it?

Anthony: So, it wasn’t as predictable as usual.

Fisher: Well, tell us about the guy. What was his name? What was he doing in the cave? When did he get there?

Anthony: His name was Joseph Henry Loveless. He was born in 1870 in Payson, Utah. He was born in a church. He was baptized. We have his baptismal record. Then things went kind of south. I don’t know exactly when this happened, but he has a very long criminal record of bootlegging and counterfeiting and robbery and escaping jail. He escapes jail by sawing through the bars using a saw he hid in his shoes more than once, like he was planning for it.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow.

Anthony: He would also hop trains and somehow stop them to escape them.

Fisher: Oh wow, this is a crazy man.

Anthony: It is absolutely something like a movie cowboy, except he’s real.

Fisher: Yeah.

Anthony: And finally, what happened, probably before he died, given the clues that we have, he murdered his wife with an axe.

Fisher: Oh?

Anthony: Now, here’s the interesting part, nobody previously had fully connected him to this murder because he was using an alias.

Fisher: Ah, okay.

Anthony: He had multiple aliases, at least four, and the murder was attributed to one of his aliases. The thing that made us know that these are the same person was some very, very extensive research, mostly through newspapers because he didn’t have a legal paper trail, to moving in a tent on the outskirts of town. So, we didn’t have any sort of alibi for where he was at the time of the crime. Under his alias was claiming that his wife’s former husband did it, he actually meant himself. The former husband of his wife was actually living in another state with another family.

Fisher: Okay.

Anthony: So, this is very historical CSI stuff.

Fisher: Sure. [Laughs]

Anthony: But the real kicker was that when he was arrested for this and escaped, a wanted poster was published under the name Walt Cairns, which was the alias he was using at the time and the alias he was arrested under. And it had a physical description of him that disclosed the clothing he was wearing. The clothing he was wearing when he escaped jail are the same clothes that the body in the cave was found wearing whose DNA is unmistakably tied to Joseph Henry Loveless. 

Fisher: Oh wow.

Anthony: That’s why Walt Cairns and Joseph Henry Loveless are the same person.

Fisher: Same person. Wow! And who do you think did this? Who killed him? You don’t cut your own head off.

Anthony: We have no idea. No, you don’t cut your own head off. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Anthony: We don’t know yet. It’s still an open investigation. There’s so statute of limitations on murder. The sheriff’s office is actually still actively investigating it. There’s a possibility that it was a family member of the wife who was seeking revenge. It’s possible that it could be another criminal that he was involved in who wanted his money or some other reason. So, there’s a couple of possibilities there, but the investigation is actually still open and I for one will be excited to find out what exactly went down after that because we’re still learning a lot from this case.

Fisher: He’s Anthony Redgrave from RedgraveResearch.com and the DNA Doe Project. He and his team have identified a victim of a murder from 1916. And Anthony, this is really strong work. Congratulations.

Anthony: Thank you.

Fisher: You’ve made a lot of news over the last couple of weeks.

Anthony: I sure have.

Fisher: And it’s great to get the full story here.

Anthony: Um hmm. Glad to hear it.

Fisher: Do you have a bunch more cases you’re working on now?

Anthony: Oh yeah, there’s several more coming down the road for me.

Fisher: All right Anthony. Well, great talking to you. Thanks so much for coming on the show and we look forward to hearing some more headlines out of your group.

Anthony: Oh, I hope so. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Take care.

Anthony: Thanks, you too.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Robert Cushing. He is from Legacy Tree Genealogists one of our great sponsors. He’s going to talk about Southern research and if you have Southern ancestors you know it can be really, really challenging. So, he’ll give you some idea what records might be out there, which records have been lost, a lot to talk about coming up next when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 387

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Robert Cushing

Fisher: You know, so many people have so many connections to family down South. Hey, it’s Fisher here. I’m talking to Robert Cushing. He is with Legacy Tree Genealogists. He is a DNA specialist there but he’s located in Athens, Georgia. And I thought that maybe today we’d talk to him a little about Southern research, because let’s face it, so many people go back to the Civil War and that central conflagration in the history of our country obviously caused a lot of people to scatter. We lost a lot of people and we lost a lot of records too, didn’t we Robert?

Robert: We definitely did.

Fisher: Well, it’s great to have you on the show. Let’s just start right there. How much did the Civil War cost us in records?

Robert: I would say a huge amount. The difference between researching my mother’s Southern ancestors and my father’s Northern ancestors is kind of night and day when it’s the same decades. So many burnt counties and things kind of scattered to the wind after the Civil War in the south. So, it led to loss and destruction of other records too.

Fisher: Sure. I’m sure that’s true. What about court houses? I mean, we always hear about burnt court houses and I think they’re more prominent in the south. What percentage of them do you think were actually lost?

Robert: Uh, not sure I can rattle off a specific number, but this is my very unscientific guess, it seems kind of like one in every three court houses that I look into has had some kind of destruction. And I keep reading on the Family Search Wiki or wherever I’m looking and it says, in 1864, especially in Virginia I found that to be true, so there’s just this devastating loss of records from the 1600s and 1700s in Virginia where so many people’s ancestors came from, even if they left there in 1710 but you can’t pick that up.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah, it’s just gone. And was this all tied into General Sherman’s march down to Atlanta and to the sea?

Robert: Not in every case. I’ve seen a lot of cases where, again, especially in Virginia where there was conflict towards the end of the Civil War and I think with some Union soldiers they would just destroy records, basically create some chaos to handicap the area that they were attacking at the time. And they weren’t all coordinated attacks by Sherman as my understanding, but I think he definitely gets the blame for most of them down South.

Fisher: Yeah. There were definitely some rouge soldiers off doing other things. So, what substitute records are there for some of these things? Obviously some of them were not replaceable, but there have to be some substitutes for some of them.

Robert: Right. In rare cases I’ve seen where county clerks may have collected the surviving records and kind of collated them into a substitute book, but that’s best case scenario. In other cases, I found doing research in the closest non-burned county can sometimes help you because you may own land in one county, live in another and your transactions will be recorded elsewhere. So, you may find an ancestor doing business in a county where he never appears on a census or tax list, for example. In the state wide and federal records are obviously also a good resource because if county X, Y, Z lost everything in the Civil War that wouldn’t have affected records kept on the state level.

Fisher: Yeah, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Okay. Let’s move on then to the next big thing that obviously ties back to the whole crux of the Civil War, the plantation records and the records concerning slavery. What survives there?

Robert: I would say a pretty substantial amount because a lot of those were kept at the opposite of state level. They were kept on a family level, private collections and small business communities in the pre- Civil War south. One really great collection that comes to mind is, it was Camden County, Georgia, the southeastern most county in the state which boarders Florida, it’s a collection of affidavits from slave owners who were bringing slaves from Florida North into Georgia. Basically, they had to swear that they were importing the slaves just to do work on their property in Camden County and were not bringing them across stateliness to sell them and make a profit, which is very tragic but genealogically speaking it’s an incredible resource because enslavers had to list off every single one of the enslaved people that they were bringing into the state with ages, sometimes personal descriptions, sometimes family connections. So, for those of us looking for people whose ancestors might have been one of these enslaved people brought across the state line. You might find a complete listing of their family unit along with some personal details that you’d never find. Some of these records go back to the 1820s, when they’re never going to appear in a census because they may have died before emancipation.

Fisher: Sure.

Robert: Also, university archives sometimes may have gathered together private family collections from plantations and those will have letters, bills of sale. All things you never know if you’re going to find that one line that has your specific ancestor in it. So those are very exciting.

Fisher: It’s true you know, you hear from people who make discoveries everyday if they’re dealing with something from the north, but those people who find something in the South they really have something to celebrate, don’t they?

Robert: [Laughs] They do.

Fisher: Because it’s really hard to find so many so these things. And we really need to spend a little time too on the Freedmen's Bureau records.

Robert: Um hmm.

Fisher: And this was setup by the United States government actually following emancipation to help those freed enslaved individuals to setup their lives, have a bank and Family Search has done an amazing job with these.

Robert: Right. I found the kind of hit or miss in the sense that there’s not a huge quantity of individuals represented in the collection from what I found. And now that there’s a much more comprehensive index available maybe I should go back and research some of these names that I’ve looked for before.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Robert: But I think it was about two or three weeks ago, I found one man that I was researching. I searched his name on the index, just kind of a shot in the dark, found something and thought, that’s a very specific, unusual name. And it was actually his brother that I didn’t know existed, an application with the Freedmen’s Bureau where he had not only give his name, his age, birth place. He had to give his parent’s names and there’s also a note when they died and where they died, as well as his siblings and where they live now or the last time he had contact with them.

Fisher: Wow!

Robert: So, I learned, I think there were eight siblings and I had reached a brick wall with this man and suddenly with one record found his parents and I would assume all of this siblings. And there were notes about one that really sticks out to me, there was a sister named Mary and it said, “Sold 9 years ago, last heard from in Charleston.”

Fisher: Ugh.

Robert: This was a family in Georgia and I was never able to find her in other records so far but it just kind of shows those were things they had to deal with and that’s something I never would have found from any other record.

Fisher: No, that’s right. Wow! You must have just been going to sleep smiling that night.

Robert: Oh, yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s huge. And for people who want to look at the Freedmen Bureau records, most of them have been digitized and/ or indexed on FamilySearch.org. And you can look at all kinds of stuff there. So, there’s a Freedmen Bureau Records of Freedmen from 1865 to 1872. There’s the Freedmen Bureau Claim Records. There’s the labor contracts and indenture and apprenticeship records. Most of them go from about 1865 to 1872. Some go from 1861 that’s the Freedmen Bureau Marriages Record that goes up to 1872. They’ve got hospital and medical records. They’ve got persons and articles hired from 1865 to 1872. It’s huge. And that’s just dipping your toe in the water there.

Robert: Yes.

Fisher: So, they’re getting indexed more and more all the time, but most all of them have been digitized and you can find them on FamilySearch.org. Just do a search at Family Search and put in “Freedmen’s Bureau” and it will take you right up, especially the Wiki page it will map the whole thing out for you. So Robert, thank you so much. It’s been great talking to you. The South is really a challenging thing for any researcher.

Robert: [Laughs]

Fisher: You’ve certainly outlines at least some of the problems and maybe, hopefully, a few of the solutions as well.

Robert: Hopefully.

Fisher: All right, thanks for talking to us. He’s Robert Cushing. He’s a DNA specialist over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, but he lives right down there in Athens, Georgia, not far from Atlanta. And certainly at the heart of the end of the Civil War and does a lot of research on his own. Talk to you again sometime in the future, Robert. Thanks so much.

Robert: All right, thank you.

Fisher: Great stuff as always from our sponsors at Legacy Tree Genealogists. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert rejoins me for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 387

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David Allen Lambert is back from AmericanAncestors.org. And David, we have a question here from Rich Michaels in Frederick, Maryland and he says, "Guys, my great aunt left us a huge chart we found it in her attic that took our family tree back to British royalty and then back to Adam and Eve."

David: That goes back a little ways.

Fisher: Yeah. "How reliable should we consider this chart? Thanks, Rich."

David: Well, Rich, I mean the first thing to do is to establish if you have what's called a gateway ancestor, as in a gateway to a royal line, and there's so many different things out there on the internet. You just have to be a little cautious. But even years ago, people would sell you whatever you wanted to place on paper as your line. So, first thing, I would look at Gary Boyd Roberts’ Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants and that will help you establish maybe if your immigrant ancestor, a gateway ancestor has a royal line. A lot of people got back to Edward I. I have a couple, I'm sure you do too, Fish.

Fisher: Yep.

David: And the thing about it is, going beyond that. So, English royalty can go back to at least a 5th century King Cerdic of Wessex of the West Saxons. He flourished around the 6th century. And so, that's good. But there are other lines that can go back farther. In fact, a genealogist by the name of Don Stone and others have found lines that bring Edward I back to Ptolemy, who was a Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, the same era of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. But you've got to remember that a lot of these things are oral traditions that have been passed down.

Fisher: Sure.

David: It could have been by storytellers. But I mean, our genealogy is good as it is paper, because I don't know of any DNA test that's going to help you solve if your chart 100%. But if you get an answer that proves it, let us know.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. You know, the thing about this is, this never allows for illegitimacy. It never allows for a missing generation, say, in the Biblical record, because a lot of these things are said to go back to that time. The other thing is, is if a king tells me as the court genealogist that I am to go back and take his family all the way back to Adam, you can be darn sure I'm going to come back and bring that king exactly what he wants, a line back to Adam and Eve.

David: Or you can be certain he'll present your head on a platter for you.

Fisher: Yes! That kind of thing.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: So, keep in mind like you said, David, if it’s on paper, that's great. And if there's actually some record of that somewhere, that's great. But no, I wouldn't believe anything I see related to Adam and Eve as being an accurate chart.

David: Right. And like I say, just when you look at genealogy and just remember that you have to back generation by generation in recent years and fact check if you can find any documents that connects you, you know, past the 6th century, because, well, there's no document, it’s a theory. The rest of it is still kind of chalked up as plausible.

Fisher: Yeah. Maybe you can never prove this, but there sure is an easy way to disprove it and that would be to just start going through the recent generations and try to find an heir. [Laughs]

David: That's true. I mean, well as they say, we're all descendant from Charlemagne, at least they claim. So I mean, there's a start right there. [Laughs] And then you just have to go beyond that and go reverse.

Fisher: Absolutely. But it’s a fascinating thing, you're not the only one out there that has this. In fact, my wife had one of these at one time when I first started out. I said, "Well, look at this!" I mean, I was skeptical of it, but nonetheless, it was fascinating and it certainly did prove to be a royal line, but the idea of going all the way back to Adam and Eve, yeeeaaaah, not so sure. So anyway, thanks for the note, Rich. That's a really good question. Now I've run into that many times over the years and really, everybody pretty much says, "Forget about it!" No, nothing there. All right, we've got another question coming up as we continue with round 2 of Ask Us Anything when we return in 3 minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 387

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allan Lambert from AmericanAncestors.org, the New England Historic Genealogical Society. David, this is kind of a unique question here. It’s from Amy in Monterey, California and she says, "Dave and Fish, after World War II, my dad brought back a chunk of the coliseum in Rome. It was in my dad's foot locker in a box with a note identifying it. I feel a little uneasy having this. Is this a common thing? Should I return it? Amy."

David: Well, I haven't been to the Coliseum, but I can tell you that I've seen a lot of stones that don't look like they're associated anymore. So, returning it, well, it probably isn't like a puzzle piece where it can kind of fit in, unless of course it’s some really ornate piece that's identifiable.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: That's fascinating. You know, I hate to say it, when I go over to Europe or Northern New England and I go to a cellar hold or someplace my ancestor lived, I'm not going to rip a roof tile off or a brick from the building. But if I find something around the edge of the foundation from my own family's home, I might want to bring something back. I mean, if it’s an archeological site or someplace protected, I'd be a little careful, because I wouldn't want to be breaking the law and end up in jail.

Fisher: No, no, of course not. And you don't want to basically desecrate a historic site.

David: No, no, absolutely not.

Fisher: So I am presently holding as you were speaking there, Dave, I grabbed this right off one of my shelves. I have a little shadowbox with different rocks in it, one is a piece of brick, fallen off a brick wall from my ancestor who lived in the late 18th century in Northern Yorkshire. And then I have a fallen piece of arch from St Bartholomew, the great church in London where my immigrant ancestor couple got married in 1801. Now, there had been a portion of the roof that had fallen in and it was roped off. And so, I asked the pastor there if he minded if I were to pick up a piece of this to take home and he gave me permission. So I have a guilt free piece there.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: And then the other was just a piece of stone from the parish church that like you say was just laying along the ground. And so, these things are really nice little treasures, but they certainly don't cause any loss to these particular sites. So, you know, it is very common obviously depending on the individual if they go and pick some of these things up.

David: And you know, one of the things that I do and I've been a rock collector, you know, I'm genealogist/geologist in training, and I picked up a rock that may have been from the town that my grandmother grew up, or you know, where my great, great, great, great grandfather  lived. Maybe I don't know where the house was, but I know where the church yard was or something like that and I just pick up a piece of stone that may have been there when they were there, you know.

Fisher: Yeah. It’s funny you mention this, I just worked on a history of my mother's, mother's family and it made a reference in there that my great grandfather, Artospute was back in Sweden in 1930 and went and visited the location of the home that he was born in.

David: Oh.

Fisher: And the house was no longer there, but there was some material around the foundation and he picked up some rocks and stuck them in his pocket. And so, this was right around 1930. So, you know, even our ancestors collected these little remnants that tie back into their past.

David: Oh that's true. I mean, even if you look into like the Civil War, I mean, soldiers would pick up something from the battlefield that they were in, even if it wasn't historically tied in, but within their own lifetime. So, what you dad did is not bad and I'm sure that the coliseum will not fall down because of that small piece. I don't condone people going there now and taking a piece home because they heard it on Extreme Genes.

Fisher: No, no, no, thank you very much. Thank you, Amy for the question. Thank you, Dave for helping with the answer. And if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can always email us at [email protected]. Well, that is our show for this week. Thanks for joining us. If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast on iTunes, ExtremeGenes.com, iHeart Radio, Spotify, I mean, you name it, we're all over the place! And by the way, check out the freebies available for you right now to learn more about how to do more genealogy and understand DNA on our brand new website, ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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