Episode 412 - Author’s Life Altered By Mother’s Revelation / Ancestry’s RootsTech Announcements

podcast episode Mar 07, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historical Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys open with talk about RootsTech, which opened Thursday March 3, and ends Saturday March 5 (although the videos of the courses continue on for a year, accessible for free!). David has recorded three different courses for the virtual conference. Then, David shares a story about the discovery of a dozen Revolutionary War cannons found in a river in Georgia. Catch the details. Speaking of multiples, the guys then talk about a pair of identical twin women who married a pair of identical twin men. The boys born to these couples just a few months apart look like siblings. There’s a reason for that… the guys explain. Then Fisher shares his latest find… a video on YouTube from 1969 of a television show he attended with his mother and brother. It’s hard to believe what Fisher noticed in this 52 year old recording.

Fisher next visits with author Peter Boni who has written a book called “Uprooted.” When Peter’s mother was hospitalized back in the 1990s, she confessed something to Peter that not only changed his identity, but changed the course of his life, which he has shared in the book.

Then, Crista Cowan from sponsor Ancestry joins the show to share the announcements from the company made at RootsTech. They will change how we tell stories and digitize photo albums. Hear the exciting news she has to share.

Then, David and Fisher field questions from listeners on pressed plants in family Bibles and a boxer in one man’s ancestry.

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


 Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 412

Fisher: And hello America! 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. Well, I am so excited about what's going on right now. Of course RootsTech has been happening all this week and into the weekend, and we've got a lot to talk about, including the Ancestry.com announcements that have been made through this past week, one before RootsTech and one during RootsTech. We're going to have Crista Cowan coming on a little later on in the show to talk about that. You're going to want to hear it. This is amazing stuff! And Peter Boni’s going to be here in about 10 minutes. He got a DNA shocker awhile back, and it has changed his life, not only in terms of how he perceives his family, but also in terms of what his life's mission has become as a result of his discovery. You're going to want to hear what Peter has to say. Hey, signup for our Weekly Genie Newsletter right now at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page and hear what I've got to say each week about family history as we share links to stories you'll enjoy as a genealogist and to past and present shows that you'll also enjoy from Extreme Genes. Right now, it’s time to head off to Boston where David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, you've got three different courses you're offering right now during RootsTech.

David: You know, I'm delighted to be part of RootsTech family and I'm an influencer, but also to get to be a speaker, even though it’s remote, you get to reach a wider audience. I'm giving a talk on New England probate records, Civil War pensions, as well as the Revolutionary War. So there's a lot of things that I've got out there and I'm really excited about it.

Fisher: Yeah, this is great. And by the way, if you haven't signed up for RootsTech yet and you're not familiar with it, it is the largest genealogical conference every year in the world and it’s free. And all you have to do is go to RootsTech.org and signup. And even if the whole thing is over with, guess what? You get all these classes, including the ones David's talking about for free for the coming year. So, say you make a discovery about a Revolutionary War ancestor in August, you can go over to RootsTech.org and pick up on David's course about the Revolution that can help you in your research. So, it’s a great bargain, you don't want to miss out on this. Everybody's talking about it right now, because it’s incredible. But speaking of which, David, you've got a story to start us out with family Histoire News here about the Revolutionary War and this kind of blows my mind!

David: It really does and I think its blowing the mind of the people living down in Savannah. They have found at least 12, maybe more Revolutionary War cannons in the Savannah River this year.

Fisher: Wow!

David: It’s amazing. And they think that it may be from a scuttled ship. They thought originally from a vessel called The Rose, but may not be from that. So, more to come with that, but they keep on pulling these things up! [Laughs] It’s amazing!

Fisher: It’s incredible to think about that. Savannah, Georgia in the river there, at least a dozen Revolutionary War cannons found. Any idea about the condition?

David: Well, I'm looking at one of them right now and it’s covered with all sorts of sea gunk, but you can tell it’s a cannon. I mean, I look at it and squint and you can see it’s a cannon. You have to probably scrape off a lot of layers of encrustations, and no doubt they're probably bronze cannons or maybe iron cannons, but they can preserve these things correctly and they'll look like they did back then. They usually do a pretty good job, conservators do. Its great stuff!

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. That is great stuff.

David: Well, speaking of things that are in multiples, how about the identical twin sisters marrying identical twin brothers! That's amazing! And it’s scary, because that picture looks like its Photoshopped.

Fisher: Right?

David: Because they look exactly alike. Somebody has to part their hair differently. It’s scaring me.

Fisher: And somebody's got to wear different clothes. I mean, they're still doing their whole thing. And tell us about this couple first of all and where are they?

David: Yeah, so this is Briana and Brittany who married to identical twins, Josh and Jeremy Salyers and they're an interesting family. They've just had a baby, so the babies, Jax and Jett look pretty close to each other.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Of course when you have that sort of doubling.

Fisher: Yeah, they are double cousins, but they're double identical cousins, right? I mean, ultimately, it is as if they were actually siblings, brothers, full brothers as a result of this. But legally, they're just considered cousins, much closer than that. Amazing!

David: It really is. And I wish them many, many years of happiness and confused descendants. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely insane. So, I've got to tell you a story about what happened to me this past week. You know, when the year started, I was thinking, okay, man, I have found so much last couple of years, I can't imagine what would be left out there for me to find this year. But I've been working on my autobiography and there was one night when I was a kid that stuck out of my mind. I thought, you know, I've got to write a page on that and put a couple of pictures that my mom took that night and the invitation. And it was the Friars Club Roasting of Jack Benny at NBC Studios in September of 1969. I was 14 years old, my kid brother was 11. My mom was there.  My dad didn't want to go. He got the tickets for us, so my mom invited a neighbor lady.

David: Wow!

Fisher: Well, I thought, I'm going to look on YouTube and see if that show just happens to be there, and all of a sudden, I find seven months ago, it was posted. And so, I got to watch this whole show that I was there live for 52 years ago!

David: Wow!

Fisher: And at the end, as the credits are crawling, I see my mother talking to my brother and at a couple of points in this show, I can see her actually taking the photos that I have in my photo album… the exact moment!

David: That is really strange. And by the way, I was about 2 and a half months old. Who did you meet that night, anybody fun?

Fisher: Oh everybody, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Johnny Carson, I mean, it was an amazing list. Vice President Agnew was there, too, and I actually walked his way walking into this cocktail party. I was getting ginger ales down at the other end of the room and suddenly I look up and he sticks out his hand and says, "How are you, young man?" and I [Gasp] I took a deep breath, I shook his hand, looked down and said, "I'm fine, sir, thanks." and walked around him. And my mom tried to push me back in that direction, because she saw a photographer up on a chair trying to take a picture and she wanted me in it. She threw me into some secret service agents. That didn't go well. [Laughs]

David: That's pretty amazing!

Fisher: There you go. All right, so listen, we've got to take a break right now, David, and we'll get you back at the backend of the show for Ask Us Anything. Coming up next, Peter Boni talking about his DNA shocker that changed his life and his life mission, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 412

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Peter Boni

Fisher: Welcome back, it’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and my next guest got a little bit of a shock a few years back, he’s Peter Boni. He’s written a book about the whole experience, it’s called ‘Uprooted’ and in this day and age Peter I would say that your discovery that your dad was not your dad, was not really that uncommon, certainly not anymore, but in this case you were the result of artificial insemination and that caused all kinds of problems for you.

Peter: Well, it was artificial insemination by an anonymous donor on top of that, and of course I first surfaced this when my mom had a postoperative stroke in 1995 when she spilled the beans.

Fisher: Oh.

Peter: There were no records kept on any of this. I had no place to go to find anything. Google of course was three years away from being founded, and 21st century DNA technology was 12 years away, so I really scratched on some empty doors to try to find some answers.

Fisher: Wow!

Peter: What I ended up doing is researching the daylights out of the whole assisted reproductive technology field. It was somewhat therapeutic since I didn’t have anything else to go by.

Fisher: Sure. When mom first told you this, what was your initial reaction and how did it impact you?

Peter: Well, several things flashed into my head all at the same time. I really had an anticipated my evolution as a person were from three experiences. One, somewhat of a dysfunctional childhood, you know, working class family, sick dad, unstable life, 11 schools in many states. A state college education, first in my family opened many doors of opportunity for me. And then on the ground service as a special ops team leader in Vietnam shaped my leadership style. So, what about my DNA? I always took that for granted. 

Fisher: Right. Of course, most of us do.

Peter: But I always felt a little different in my Italian household. I had a fair complexion, blondish hair. I had my dad’s Northern Italian blue eyes, but I always felt a little bit different. And my dad suffered from bouts of depression. He was hospitalized many times in the last four years of his life. He was hospitalized and ended up taking his life when I was 16.

Fisher: Oh!

Peter: His family, old world Italian really treated that very quietly. They treated it as a flaw that would spill over upon them if it were known. So I grew up kind of feeling flawed, if you will.

Fisher: Sure.

Peter: So, when this all came to be, it was really confusing and very conflicting emotions. I mean, how do you feel deceived and relieved all at the same time Scott?

Fisher: Yeah.

Peter: How can you feel shame and pride, or happy and sad, or grief and exhilaration all at the same time?

Fisher: Yeah.

Peter: So, I wasn’t northern Italian and I wasn’t flawed. I poked myself, I was still the same person but everything changed for me.

Fisher: Right.

Peter: Everything changed.

Fisher: Well, isn’t that the case though for anybody who makes that discovery? I mean, nothing in your life changed, right, everything you remember is exactly as you remember, and everything is going on now is the same. This was before you were born. You had nothing to do with it, but it had everything to do with you. So, you know, it does change your identity.

Peter: Well, it was traumatic. And I found that new trauma actually rekindles old traumas thought long passed. I mean I had issues from my childhood and issues from war. I actually sort the help of a therapist on this thing who told me, “Hey son, you hit a trifecta.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Peter: So, in order to deal with one I had to deal with all three.

Fisher: And was it useful? Was it helpful?

Peter: Oh, very much so. It really shaped me.

Fisher: You know, for a lot of people who go through this, they do seek therapy but they don’t necessarily find some of the answers. It sounds like it worked out well for you.

Peter: Well, so far so good.

Fisher: So, as things evolved and we had DNA coming along just before 2010, obviously we hadn’t had the tsunami of DNA test results out there yet to match to, but were you able to start making some discoveries of blood family as a result of that? 

Peter: Yeah, actually. I was one of the lunatic friends they call it the early users of anything. When 23andMe came out with their first DNA over the internet test it was the Innovation of the Year by Time Magazine 2007 and I did my test in early 2008.

Fisher: Okay.

Peter: So, what I learned from that is okay, I wasn’t Northern Italian. I was English, French, and a sliver of Scandinavian on the paternal side. But I couldn’t find any paternal relatives. And I just gave it time. I let the database pick up to see what I could find. And just for several years I just ran into some stone walls. No paternal connections, plenty maternal. 

Fisher: Sure.

Peter: But I wasn’t motivated to learn anymore about my maternal family. So, by 2012 Ancestry.com had entered the DNA field. So by 2017 my kids pointed out Ancestry.com and said, “Dad, you’re barking up a tree that isn’t working for you. Why don’t you just go sample Ancestry.com and see what happens. The database has grown actually larger than 23andMe now. They’re expanding like crazy so go give it a shot.”  

Fisher: Oh yeah, by far.

Peter: So, for $99 list price as compared to $999 list price when I was an early customer of 23andMe.

Fisher: Oh wow.

Peter: I did my test with Ancestry and found “a close relative” first cousin and I went off to her and said, “Hey, you’re obviously a paternal connection for me.” And I gave her my story and didn’t know what to expect. I was fearful that I’d be treated like a bastard stepchild seeking a seat of king’s court.

Fisher: Sure, right. [Laughs]

Peter: But she was great. She was very embracing and said, you’re a champion finding the source of my seed in her family tree. And my book actually covers a good deal of the detective work we did to find that.

Fisher: Right.

Peter: And we did find the source.

Fisher: And as a result of this you’ve obviously met some blood family now. But you’ve also become quite expert in this whole matter of the legal side of artificial insemination and how there really isn’t much oversight of this.

Peter: Well, I did a deep dive of research. It was actually therapeutic for me in the beginning of this journey for myself Scott. And I looked at the history and the evolution of assisted reproductive technology from the scientific, sociological, and illegal vantage point and uncovered the 10 top secrets of the scandalous history of assisted reproductive technology. The first one was that artificial insemination was actually perfected by an exiled mad scientist nicknamed Rick Frankenstein in the 19th century.

Fisher: Really?

Peter: And the first artificial insemination by a husband was alleged to have occurred by a medieval king in 1462 and first documented in the 18th century by a physician of English royalty. But the first artificial insemination by donor was actually a criminal act inside of a med school in1884.

Fisher: Wow.

Peter: And then church and state just drove the whole practice significantly underground in a shroud of secrecy. And of course the early 20th century practice carries a eugenics tone to it as well. And that’s the chosen selected people. And the shroud of secrecy has actually been obsolete as a practice by 21st century technology DNA over the internet.

Fisher: Yeah, right. No more secrecy.

Peter: And here we have a world now where fertility rates in the western world in the last four decades have declined by a whopping 50%.

Fisher: Wow!

Peter: But the population of donor conceived people is up 50% just in the last decade.

Fisher: Is there any better oversight now than there was say at the time you were conceived?

Peter: Well, this is the problem, distribution of gametes have very little regulatory oversight. It’s like the Wild West. I mean, here we have, in our country, the SEC and the FDA and the FTC, the FCC, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, you’ve got the National Organ Transplant Act, because industries don’t regulate themselves all that well. They don’t police themselves all that well.

Fisher: Right.

Peter: But here we have a self regulated industry with flawed obsolete practices that enables the conception of dozens if not a hundred or more siblings from the same donor with nobody’s knowledge. So, it’s a problem.

Fisher: Yeah, especially for people wanting to know where they come from.

Peter: Well, how’d you like to date a sibling?

Fisher: Right.

Peter: How’d you like your children to date the children of your siblings?

Fisher: Um hmm. And that’s happened hasn’t it? I remember a case in California where a couple were engaged and found out that they were half siblings.

Peter: So, we have no rights for anyone who is donor conceived. The donors have rights and the recipients have rights, and sure they have rights, but no one can point to me a list of legal rights that a donor conceived person has. So in my book I’m advocating for a donor conceived bill of rights Scott that will first of all abolish anonymity since DNA science has abolished it anyway. Part of that bill of rights is to mandate for donor genetic testing and disclosure of donor health history. There’s nothing mandated to do that. To limit offspring per donor; There’s a guideline out there by a trade association and the guideline is 25 per 800,000 population. If I use that guideline, if I live in Sacramento, I have 25 siblings. If I lived in metropolitan Boston, I’d have 125 siblings.

Fisher: Right.

Peter: And how about a larger community, New York City or LA, I’d have 250 siblings if I use that guideline, and that’s per donor bank. If I’m a donor I have the right to go to several different banks. If all those banks use that guideline then take those figures and multiple it by the number of banks I went to.

Fisher: Wow!

Peter: There’s no registry to identify siblings to one another, so part of a donor conceived bill of rights would be to establish a donor sibling registry. And to require some donor and recipient counseling for the needs of a donor conceived child. And since there’s no legal recourse for blatant fertility fraud, for example, a doctor choosing to use his own sperm. I’d enable some sort of legal recourse for that. Put some laws in the books.   

Fisher: Sounds like an amazing journey and you’ve got a lot on your plate to make some of these things happen because it’s a complicated area isn’t it?

Peter: It is very complicated.

Fisher: The book is ‘Uprooted’. The author is my guest Peter Boni. And Peter, where can you get the book?

Peter: You can see it on my website www.peterjboni.com. It’s available of course on Amazon and your local book store as well. My publisher has worldwide distribution on this thing so it’s available throughout the world.

Fisher: Fascinating topic. Good luck with the book. Thank you so much. And coming up next, Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com with some big announcements from RootsTech for Ancestry, when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 412

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And you know, we’re reaching the point now where every year when we go through RootsTech it’s like Christmas all over again in the family history world. I have my good friend Crista Cowan on the line from Ancestry.com. And on Thursday, even earlier this week Crista, with all that’s going on with RootsTech you guys had some incredible announcements. And having gone through and previewed some of these things with you I am so excited with what you’ve got. Shall we start with the mobile feature overview?

Crista: Yeah, absolutely because I don’t want to tease people too much and make them wait for announcements but it’s really important to understand that we’ve been working really hard here at Ancestry to make the mobile experience a really solid companion to the desktop experience when you’re working on Ancestry. So, there are some things that we’ve done for example, it used to be that you could only share your tree with family members if you were using the web browser. Now, you can do that through the mobile app and of course we have the same sharing permissions where you can give people guest access, contributor access, or editor access. And that allows you to share your tree with more family members, solicit more feedback and of course leads into some of these exciting announcements around collecting, crafting, and sharing family stories and that’s really the focus for us in the mobile app and kind of the point of some of these new announcements.

Fisher: Well, no question. And what I really about what’s going on with the mobile app are these tools that you’ve got connected for photographs.

Crista: Right.

Fisher: And as somebody who just, look at this, I just gathered these new albums from a cousin, that came from my uncle. I’ve got a lot of work to do here. And these things need to be photographed and normally, what I’d have to do is take them out one at a time from the album, sometimes they would tear from the back. In fact, only last month I had a face from a 1917 picture stick to one of those 1970s albums. I had to actually digitally repair it and then later physically repair it and what a pain.

Crista: Yeah.

Fisher: Well, we don’t have to do that anymore because we can leave everything in the album, using your phone take pictures, and with the new software it automatically crops each individual picture on the page and then enhances it, colorizes it if you want to do that. I mean, this is fantastic one-touch shopping.

Crista: Yeah, absolutely. I used to lug my big old scanner around my grandmas houses back and forth and try to do it that way and I had some of those same challenges that you had with things in the old magnetic albums and things glued to pages in albums. Yeah, this is going to help with all that.

Fisher: A game changer. By the way, the colorization looks fantastic and it adjusts for various skin tones which is very important too, very exciting stuff. And it’s all tied with this company that’s fantastically known for all this, Photomyne.

Crista: Yeah. Photomyne is probably one of the top media archiving specialist companies in the country, maybe in the world. And we have specifically licensed their artificial intelligence based multi-image scanning capability. So, you can scan a whole page that has maybe four or five pictures on it from a photo album. It uses your mobile device’s processor and camera. That processing happens very quickly because mobile devices and camera technology have come so far in just a few years. It then splits the images up, crops them, cleans them up and then gives you the options to enhance and colorize as well.

Fisher: People really need to see how this works, a little demonstration stuff on Ancestry.com. So, earlier in the week they had this thing out called Ancestry Stories and I really like this as well because for anybody who wants to put together something and then share it immediately with the family, well, just explain how this one works.

Crista: Yeah.  It’s so interesting because there’s lots of different ways that people have come up with to share their family stories. For me, sometimes it was a matter of posting on social media a photograph of a story or a series of photographs with stories, posting a census image and trying to elicit information from maybe my grandma or my aunts about what they remember about that house or that neighborhood.

Fisher: Right.

Crista: Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. On social media of course other people can see and comment on our family [Laughs] So, Ancestry has announced that we now have a new feature in our mobile app called Ancestry Stories. It’s a story builder tool that allows you to take the information you’ve saved to your tree, add photographs or documents, it allows you to upload to upload new photos for context. So, if I want to tell an immigration story for example, I can show the passenger list and then maybe I can show a photo of the ship they came on, or what the port of New York looked like when they arrived. And I can make up to a 12-slide story and I can save that to my tree and then I can publish it so that anyone else who has that same ancestor in their tree will be able to see it and any of my family members that I’ve shared my tree with will also see it in the mobile app on their own devices.

Fisher: Wow. And then it’s preserved of course on the page of that person. So, it’s easy to share. And what I liked about the photos, I mean, there are some stock pictures there that we can use to create these things and there’s motion that you can add to it, panning left-to-right or right-to-left to give it a little bit more dimension.

Crista: Yeah. It turns it into a really interactive experience so that we’re not just uploading flat, single-dimensional things. You can add that motion. You can also overlay text and emojis because you know, my nephew speaks in emoji, I’m pretty sure. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

Crista: So, this kind of lets me meet them where they are as I share these significant things that I’ve discovered in our family history that I think are important for them to know, not just for entertainment, though, it often is, but also, because these are significant parts of our history.

Fisher: Now, I think you really hit it on the head. I think, a lot of people, especially as they get up in age and aren’t necessarily very good at technology, they’ll look and say, “I don’t want to learn to text!” And I say, well, do you ever want to have a conversation with your grandchildren then? How is that going to work, you know? And likewise, with this, I mean, it’s not the full book about the history of the family or anything, it’s just little stories, little bits and pieces. Like you say, it’s just kind of meeting people where they are right now. And it’s really quite attractive the way it’s been created and I really look forward to getting to work on some of these things.

Crista: Yeah. I’ve already got a few created and ready to share out. It will show up in the “discover” tab on the mobile app. Like I said, for anybody who either has that ancestor in their tree or any of my family members that I shared my tree with. But you also have the ability to share a link to that out to anybody via text message, so you can share it that way. And they do not need an Ancestry subscription in order to view that story and the photos and records that you’ve created as a part of it. So, you just share that link with any family member you want and draw them maybe a little bit more into the family history experience because you’re not overwhelming them. You’re just giving them these bite-sized stories.

Fisher: That’s the key right there, right? Because some of us are so enthusiastic about this stuff, we have that tendency to overwhelm and we really don’t want to go there, do we?

Crista: Yeah, not yet. But I will say one of the features we’re looking at very soon to follow because the launch of this is very in-line with some of the ways that things are shared on social media we’re looking into some cross-platform sharing, Facebook and Instagram. We would love to have anybody who is creating some of these stories, if you do choose to share it on social media to use the hashtag #MyAncestryStory. And then we can all share in the stories that people are creating and maybe get some ideas on how to create some of our own.

Fisher: Wow. I love it. And is some of this going to be available for desktop too eventually?

Crista: Yeah. So, the story can even be created on mobile currently. We are looking at moving that over eventually. But once you save it to the person in your tree, you can view it on any web browser where you access Ancestry.

Fisher: Great stuff. Well, here we go once again, Christmas time from Ancestry at RootsTech this year, and thanks so much for sharing all this stuff Crista and thanks to all your techie people who are making these miracles happen. It’s a phenomenal thing and we’ll talk to you again next month.

Crista: Sounds good.

Fisher: All right and coming up next, David Allen Lambert with another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 412

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. It is time once again for Ask Us Anything. And live and direct from Boston, it’s David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Dave, our first question today is from Jenny in St. Joseph, Missouri and she says, "Fisher and Dave, in an old family Bible, I found a pressed plant of some kind wrapped in paper with a note that says it came from the family home village in Germany. Is this a common thing and what should I do with it?" That's a great question.

David: Definitely don't eat it.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

David: Or rub it on your face, because how about if it was poison ivy?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I mean, I think that I found like flowers from different funerals and weddings and whatnot that people save and put in bibles all the time. I mean, they're a common thing to press, because the bible's a good size. How about you? You must have some in your family possession?

Fisher: I have one.

David: Okay.

Fisher: Yeah, and it came from Sweden and I don't know what kind of thing it is. I have it put aside in an album now with acid free sleeves of course and still wrapped in the original paper. The problem with it is, is that anytime you take it out to look at it, a little more of it falls apart. [Laughs]

David: Exactly. But you know, there are all sorts of apps on your phone now. I wonder if you took a picture of it, it could tell what it was.

Fisher: Well, there's that.

David: Or go to a botanist.

Fisher: Yeah, there's certainly that to find out what it is. I mean, there's a lot of things that go through my mind about, first of all, preserving it. You know, is there really much you can do with this, because it came from the old country. I would think you'd do better to probably take a good photograph of it and never open it up again. Just leave it originally as it is, because it’s going to deteriorate anyway. But a picture of it maybe a little explanation of it, something you could frame with a picture of an ancestor and where they came from. I mean, that might be a nice idea.

David: Yeah, I've seen four leaf clovers in Bibles. I've got a couple of them that I've picked up that I didn't find, but I still feel lucky that I have them, and they're in pretty good shape. But just like anything that's over 100 years old that was once living, it’s not going to stay intact if you keep on moving it around and showing people. So, I think the photography is a great idea.

Fisher: Yeah, it s a really good way to go. And then you can put it in a history if you were to create such a thing and put it in your history book and explain it and that really preserves it pretty much forevermore, too, along with a story that it was left in the family Bible. And maybe you have some idea who picked it and who put it there based on, you know, who lived in that village when they came over and who owned the bible. So, there can be, you know, a little bit of a story there, maybe a little bit of a mystery. If you don't know who it was, you can throw some speculation in on it. I think things like that are absolutely fascinating to think that you're holding a plant that grew out of the ground in your ancestral hometown over the ocean some 200 years ago. You know, that's just an amazing thing!

David: Truly is. So, if you are going to press flowers folks, put a little card in there with it that says what it’s from.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: Because that's the biggest curiosity. You might know what it is, but somebody else won't in 100 years when they open up that book or the bible where you put it in.

Fisher: Yeah, right, I don't know how many people actually use family bibles anymore, because we have online trees and things to do our memorials and record the births and deaths of family members. But you know, it’s a really fascinating thing to think about. Yeah, we could actually press a plant now from wherever, put the date that you picked it, where it was from, who picked it, and hopefully if you can identify what kind of flower it is, that might be a good way to go. That would be really kind of a fun thing to do, don't you think, Dave?

David: I think so, too, but remember, we all have phone cases, so press your flowers there and then take a picture of it at the same time.

Fisher: Hmm, yeah, that might get it all done at the same time. So, there you go. So that is a great question, Jenny and really interesting. And good luck with that. Hope you have something fun come out of that. All right, coming up next, we have a question about boxing in somebody's family.

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: Yeah, from Lantana, Florida, when we return with question number two on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 412

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go, final segment this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Ask Us Anything. I am Fisher. That guy over there with the beard, that's David. And David, our second question today comes from Joey in Lantana, Florida and he says, "Guys, my ancestor is said to have fought a middleweight boxing champion named Professor Donovan in the 19th century. How can I research this man and my ancestor's fight?" Good question. What an interesting thing.

David: It really is. When you first told me about this, I had to do a little digging to be honest, because I know a little bit about sports outside of baseball, but not a lot. And Professor Mike Donovan was actually an early middleweight boxing champion bare-knuckle era boxer.

Fisher: Oooh! So that's like ultimate fighting, except not even a protective glove.

David: Exactly. And the reason he was called professor is because he became one of the foremost instructors in the sport. In fact, he actually taught Teddy Roosevelt how to box.

Fisher: Really?

David: He went from 1847 to 1918 and he actually fought the great Boston strong boy, still a hero here in Boston, the great John L Sullivan.

Fisher: Ooh!

David: The best part about Professor Donovan's career was that, he had a 21 year old referee back in 1868 or '69 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, referring a fight that he was in. That referee was none other than the sheriff, Wyatt Earp.

Fisher: Really? 21 years old, that's crazy!

David: Um hmm. So, this guy is probably going to be in some record and the record he is in is in the boxing hall of fame.

Fisher: Sure.

David: So, if you contact them in Canastota, New York, I'm sure they're going to have information on his fights. Now, what I can tell you is that your ancestor who fought him may have been one of the wins that Donovan got. He got 25 wins at a professional boxing record of 36 fight altogether. He went 2 by knockout, 4 by losses, 3 losses by knockout and 7 draws altogether. So, one of these fights, they know the numbers, they have to know who the fighters are.

Fisher: Who the opponent is, yeah.

David: Right, exactly. So this is something that you can actually research probably with the boxing hall of fame. But a newspaper searching on, say, Newspapers.com, you know, Ancestry has those great newspapers out there. If you put in Professor Mike Donovan now and your ancestor's name, maybe you'll find that fight.

Fisher: Yeah, wow! This is a great story. I mean, I'm almost anxious to hear what you find on it. And what an amazing thing to discover about your ancestor. Probably something passed down through the years. And hopefully you'll take this story then and write it up and put it in some history for the family for them to enjoy. And find a picture, because all the pictures of him would be any time before copyrights were in place, so you can use that without any penalty, and continue going from there. But, you know, what a lot of color on the guy he was fighting as well. Since we know that Professor Mike actually lost a bunch of fights, maybe your ancestor was one of the winners in one of these things.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: Although, I suppose if he was that good, he probably fought a lot of other people as well and maybe you can trace his career with them. So, what a great question. And Dave, you did a lot of work on that, so well done, sir!

David: Well, I hope I knock you out on the next one.

Fisher: Aahh! [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Sorry.

Fisher: All right, so thank you, Joey for the question. And David, we'll talk to you next week.

David: All right.

Fisher: And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, we are always here to answer it for you, just email us at [email protected]. Thanks once again to our guest, Peter Boni for coming on, the author of a new book called, Uprooted, which of course you can find on Amazon and Greenleaf Book Group. It’s about his discovery that not only was his dad not his dad, but that he was the result of artificial insemination, and that sent his life into looking into what is the oversight of that industry. If you missed any of the interview, of course catch the podcast. Thank also to Crista Cowan from our sponsors over at Ancestry.com, talking about the amazing announcements this week tied to RootsTech. Catch the podcast to hear more about this or to hear it all again on iTunes, AppleMedia, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio and Spotify. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!



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