Episode 419 - Photo Of Nebraskan WWII Soldier Completes Cemetery Collection / Volunteer Researcher On Tracking Photos & Stories Of WWII Heroes

podcast episode Apr 25, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher opens talking about a friend’s “beginners’ luck” in finding a 1933 photo of his Dad on eBay, his first time searching for family material there. The guys then talk about Ancestry DNA’s latest breakthrough, separating the ethnicity you have received from each individual parent. Sponsor Ancestry has also updated the most recently completed indexed states and territories from the 1950 census. David then talks about the insane price that a Revolutionary War medal recently fetched at auction. Then, a documentary about Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys is being filmed in Cape Cod. David will fill you in.

Next, in two parts, Fisher visits with Scott Rayl, a volunteer for Stories Behind The Stars, an organization that seeks photos and stories on all 400,000 plus Americans killed in World War II. Scott recently tracked down a photo of a Nebraska man who is buried in a European cemetery, completing the collection from that state. He explains how he did it and other things he does for the organization.

Then, David rejoins Fisher for Ask Us Anything, talking DNA matching and coats of arms.

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



Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 419

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. I’m looking forward to talking to Scott Rayl coming up here in about ten minutes. He’s with Stories Behind The Stars, which is an organization put together by a Utah man a few years ago, to document the stories of the 400,000 plus Americans killed in World War II. And recently, Scott was involved with finding a photograph, the last one needed to complete photographs of every American in a cemetery over in Europe. You’ll hear the whole story coming up here in just a little bit. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, please do so and you can get the links to past and present shows and links to stories you’ll appreciate as a genealogist, and a blog from me each week. We’d love to have you. Just go to ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page to get signed up. 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. Hello David.

David: I am telling you, the 1950 census keeps on getting more and more fun responses online. I love to hear all the stories that people are telling about it.

Fisher: It’s amazing how many things people are finding right now. I had an interesting experience this past week though. I had some friends in who were visiting us and we were talking about what we talk about a lot, David, eBay finds.

David: Oh, yeah.

Fisher: And he was fascinated by that. We came back to the house. We had been chatting in the car and I pulled out an album that had some of these things that I picked up on eBay relating to my ancestors and the family. And he was quite amazed. He immediately grabbed his laptop, flipped it open and started going through there. The wives were preparing dinner. And all of a sudden he says, “That’s my dad!”

David: On eBay?

Fisher: On eBay, yep. And we all gathered around and it was a press photograph from 1933 of his dad and another man as they were preparing to go out for a debate competition in another state representing their college.

David: Wow!

Fisher: Yeah. And for 20 bucks he was able to pick this thing up and he was quite emotional about it. And then he said, “You know, I had an uncle who was a boxer.” And found his uncle on the cover of a boxing magazine from 1943. It was unbelievable. I don’t know if we’d call that beginner’s luck or what. But nonetheless, it really goes to show that your odds are better than you think when it comes to finding stuff on eBay.

David: I think that just putting in the search and saving the search really becomes your own family history eBay personal shopper because you’d be buying stuff especially on common relative names.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right.

David: If you’re collecting and doing a one-name study, it’s perfect for that. It will spend all of your dollars quickly.

Fisher: [Laughs] You’re absolutely right about that. And then of course this past week, we talked about it last week a little bit. Ancestry DNA has just come out with this amazing way to separate the two parents when it comes to your ethnicity.

David: It has been wonderful.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: I enjoyed so much going through all the tests of all these different relatives. My half sister I can see clearly her Eastern European connections versus my mother’s English connections. Even with my wife, I was able to pair what she got from her dad versus her mom. Now, her mother is dead, father hasn’t tested. So, I had an uncle test and it works perfectly to do this comparison.

Fisher: Isn’t this amazing? And you don’t have to have the parents test to do this, which is the way it used to be up until now.

Fisher: Isn’t this amazing? And you don’t have to have the parents test to do this, which is the way it used to be up until now.

David: Well, that’s true. And I really have to say that I’ve had a lot of people on social media say, “Well, that would be great. But my parents aren’t alive.” But I’m like, you don’t need your parents on this one.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s why it’s so cool.

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: Absolutely amazing. And the best news yet is that in time, we’re going to be able to see hopefully a separation of mom’s side and dad’s side in our DNA matches and that can be a game changer for a lot of people.

David: Wow! It’s come a long way from that initial blood test where you got your DNA results you know. It’s a number of years ago.

Fisher: Right.

David: We’re really still at the tip of the iceberg.

Fisher: And speaking of Ancestry, of course the 1950 census is adding new states and territories all the time that have been indexed. And this week they’ve added the islands of Canton, Midway, and Wake Island to go along with Alaska, Delaware, Guam, New Hampshire, Panama Canal, Vermont, and Wyoming.

David: Wow! They are really coming a long way quickly. And I know there’s still a lot to do but I’m really excited about these new states.

Fisher: Good stuff.

David: Well, you know, speaking of things like eBay, well this wasn’t really eBay, but this is a high auction catalogue of coins that went up. And this included a medal that was struck in gold back in 1839 to replace a previous one that was given to Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan. He was the hero of the Battle of Cowpens, and his military strategy is still revered my many military historians. Well, this medal, Fish, sold this week for $960,000.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! That’s amazing.

David: And one of the original ones was actually lost. In fact, J.P. Morgan the great 19th century and 20th century financer, he actually thought he was related and acquired the medal at one point in time. It mysteriously got lost.

Fisher: Oh boy.

David: Because he wasn’t related to him. Well, it turned up now in the 21st century. I am just always amazed by technology that comes out. But I’m even more excited when we bring history to life. And if you have a connection with the Green Mountain Boys in Vermont during the Revolution, there’s a new movie being filmed right now, right in Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts talking about none other than Ethan Alan. And I’m sure that you probably have some Vermont war connections with your Connecticut connections. 

Fisher: Well, actually I have a Vermont connection.

David: Oh, okay.

Fisher: Yeah. Absolutely. It was a great, great uncle whose name was Eli Nobel. He was an officer and he was in the Battle of Bennington.

David: Oh.

Fisher: And then his brother was my ancestor and he may have been in the Green Mountain Boys too, I’m not sure on him. But yeah, there’s a big connection there and it was an amazing story of course because Vermont didn’t even become a state right away.

David: No. In fact, they have a 1791 census not 1790.

Fisher: Yes. Right.

 David: Well, that’s what I have from Beantown this week. And don’t forget, if you’re a member of NEHGS you won’t need this code, but if you’re not, use the code EXTREME on AmericanAncestors.org and save $20 on membership.

Fisher: All right David. Thank you so much and we’ll catch you at the backend of the show. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Scott Rayl from Stories Behind The Stars. Recently he was instrumental in recovering the only known photograph of a soldier who died in Europe back during the war. We’ll tell you the whole thing coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. 

Segment 2 Episode 419

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Scott Rayl

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. Well, over the last couple of years I’ve had a great guest on named Don Milne. He’s a Utah man who started an organization called Stories Behind The Stars. And he’s goal was to get a biography and hopefully a photograph of every American service person killed in action during World War II. We’re talking about we’re talking about 400,000 service people. And as a result, volunteers stepped up from all over the country. They’ve been making tremendous progress with that. And my next guest is one of those people. He’s name is Scott Rayl. He’s a Virginia man, a former serviceman himself, and Scott it’s great to have you on the show.

Scott: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Fisher: So, what brought us together was this story that came out just a couple of weeks ago about the Netherlands American Cemetery and memorial overseas. And they display photographs of service members buried over there. And they’ve actually put together an entire group of them from Nebraska. They had 102 people there from Nebraska, 101 photographs, and the only one that was missing was that of a man named Dorral Bundy Elliott. He joined the army in Lincoln, Nebraska back in 1942. He was killed in Germany in 1945, the last year of the war. He was a technical corporal, 29 years old. And when they couldn’t find that final photograph to put this whole thing to work, well, they turned to Scott Rayl with Stories Behind The Stars. And Scott, tell us how this all came together.   

Scott: Thank you. So, when I started with Stories Behind The Stars, I was honored to be essentially their European face of the organization. And as a chief component of my contribution, I partner with various organizations overseas, particularly in Europe. And in this case, we’re talking about The Fields of Honor Foundation who has a program called The Faces of Margraten.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Scott: Margraten is the name of the town that the Netherlands American Cemetery is in. There are 10023 service members represented in the Netherlands American Cemetery. A little over 8,000 of them are physically interred there. And a little over 2,000 of them are represented on the Walls of the Missing, so they have no physical remains of them whatsoever.  

Fisher: Um hmm.

Scott: And the goal is to put a picture on their graves or next to the wall, every other year to essentially add substance to the sacred space that people have been essentially going on a pilgrimage to all this time.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah, or bring them to life, right? I mean, it’s just not stones. It shows a person.

Scott: Yeah. I mean they say a picture says a thousand words and I never really understood that until I got into this. But it’s incredible how much you can gain from looking at an image of an individual that most forgotten.

Fisher: Sure. Well, you obviously now had the name of this one soldier Dorral Bundy Elliott from Lincoln, Nebraska. And that’s kind of an assignment, isn’t it soldier? I mean you have to go out and you have to find that picture. What did you do? What was your process?

Scott: Well, I had a different process. I intentionally put off Mr. Elliott for some time because they put out a couple of different materials to help those of us who engage in this with the Margraten cemetery. And there was a big hole in the middle of the country, and my goal was to expand that hole to show obvious evidence of growth and that hole was not over Nebraska. So, it took me almost eight months to get to Australia. So, I finished all the soldiers in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and then I started to push out further and I finished all the solders in Montana, Wyoming.

Fisher: Wow!

Scott: And I finally got to Iowa. And Dorral was actually born in Iowa, and so that’s when I started looking for him there.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: But I found a repository, very unique to Iowa, bonus program. A lot of states had them at the time, but Iowa was very unique in how you filed to receive the additional bonus for soldiers who didn’t come home. And you had to file paperwork and there were a lot of photos involved. So, I closed Iowa in – I think there were five or six soldiers left in Iowa – and I closed them in 48 hours.

Fisher: Wow!

Scott: Yeah, it was incredible. I had never heard of anything like that. But they didn’t have anything for Dorral so it appeared that he was born there, and very quickly moved on before history could capture a footprint of his existence.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: But I was already in Iowa and I was in that neighborhood and I finally got to Dorral. He was the last one in the state, and the amount of progress that the community feels when an entire state is done, is incredible.

Fisher: Sure. 

Scott: So, I put out some feelers months ago because I met some people through the Battle of the Bulge Association. And I knew I wasn’t ready to be in Nebraska but they were from Nebraska.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: They were absolutely critical to this entire search. They were able to determine that Dorral was actually best considered to be a resident of Colorado than any other state.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: Regrettably, he was from a very rural place. But by the time I got to it, the same people from the Battle of the Bulge Association, my dear friends now, sent me unexpectedly a newspaper from 2016 called The Lincoln Star, I believe did a profile on a soldier in another American cemetery in France. And so I reached out to them and with them we were able to find a lot of the different key people, map the family and really make this a success.

Fisher: Yeah. And this was really fun too because as a result of this it went from one cousin to another, until finally you wound up with one of the people who had a box of photographs, and there it was at the bottom!

Scott: Yes. That was absolutely incredible. The reporter I was talking to found this individual. I knew the region they were in. I couldn’t find a family member there. But this reporter did. He got us connected. This guy has become essentially the family historian, as many of the family members tend to do.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: And he put me on it. He gave me some ideas. I was looking all over Denver for some relatives and he was looking for some others. He said he was going to visit some people over the weekend and he’d get back to me. I didn’t know until the story came out that this beautiful man drove 200 miles on an off chance that a relative, a direct relative in fact, of Mr. Elliott, because this person was ailing in health and they needed help to look through everything. And just almost randomly they found it in some random box, and I was blown away. 

Fisher: Well, and the picture amazingly had his name written on the back with his birth and death date killed in World War II. I mean this is really what you always hope for. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve run into over the years that have a whole collection of photographs and none of them are marked. And then I was going through one of my own photo albums the other day and realized how many pictures of my own from 30-40 years ago I have that are not marked. It was like okay, we’ve got some work to do here people. But in this case, this is real fortunate because really there don’t appear to be any other photographs of this man.

Scott: Yeah, that is correct. As I understand, during that period of history there was a paper shortage so a lot of year books in a lot of states were never created. So, a lot of the typical ways you would find a person of this age in that time of history, they’re just not there.

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: Particularly in rural America. It’s very, very uncommon in some places.

Fisher: Sure. So, once you got a hold of the picture, now we’re talking about Bruce Courtney here, he’s the one who kind of got things together and traced down the family member who had the picture. He scanned that for you. What was that feeling at your place when you finally got this image you’ve been looking for, for so long?

Scott: Absolutely incredible. Absolutely incredible. I just come off of the most successful month of my profession as a repatriation specialist. I closed four states in one month. And I’ve got four or five people from Colorado in that same month.

Fisher: Wow!

Scott: I don’t know of a single other person that’s closed a state. There may be one. I don’t know. But words can’t describe how unbelievable that experience was. And then to read the story and find out some of the details about how he got it that he didn’t even think to share because it didn’t mean anything to him.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: He was as much on a mission as I was, as the reporter was. It was so incredible that some of those details he didn’t think to mention them because I don’t think they meant anything to him.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: He was just so honored to be a part of this discovery.

Fisher: Isn’t this funny when we get on to a passionate project like this, how the water will flow downhill because you will find somebody else is going to step in and help you out with what you don’t have, and what they don’t have they’ll find somebody else, and pretty soon you’ve got all these heroes all the way down the line. And you being a former serviceman, you must obviously relate to these guys and for what they went through. Do you know much of his history, Dorral Elliott’s?

Scott: I really don’t. And that’s really unfortunate. It’s a double-edge sword. Sometimes like it’s so important to be to get these photos and get them in the system and to spread out the historical footprint that these individuals did. The faster I find one, in some ways it’s very sad because I don’t get to know that personal stories much because I have 1600 other photos to find for that one cemetery. But I work with many other cemeteries. I found thousands of photos for various cemeteries at this point. The long that I’m dealing with a story, sometimes I’m very grateful to go through the struggle because I’m forced to know every little detail as I map a family through various different states. And Nebraska can be very tricky. I mean, a lot of these individuals during this time are children of the Dust Bowl.

Fisher: Yes. That’s right.

Scott: And if you’re dealing with the Dust Bowl area, these folks can jump five states in six months very suddenly. They just disappear and reappear. And a lot of times you don’t really know if it’s the same person.

Fisher: Sure. Absolutely.

Scott: So, it’s very tricky. It’s very, very tricky.

Fisher: We’re talking to Scott Rayl. He’s with the organization Stories Behind The Stars. Tracking down the photographs and biographies of the 400,000 Americans killed in World War II. Obviously very passionate about what he does. Scott, let’s talk more about the organization and some other projects you’re involved with when we come back, okay?

Scott: Okay.

Fisher: When we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 419

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Scott Rayl

Fisher: All right, back with my special guest Scott Rayl, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, and Scott, it is so great to be talking to you. Stories Behind The Stars, for people who aren’t familiar, once again, is an organization that was put together by Don Milne in Utah, to get the histories and the photographs of the 400,000 Americans killed in World War II and he asked for volunteers. We did a volunteer push on this show a couple of times and Scott Rayl is one of those people who have stepped up. Scott, how did you get in involved with Stories Behind The Stars?

Scott: I was actually working to get into the greater space, what I call, “The field of remembrance.” With the focus on the military story and the narrative of those who didn’t return.

Fisher: And then since you’re a serviceman yourself, may I ask where you served?

Scott: Well, I was a serviceman for 20 years. I served in a lot of places, but I’ve been to Europe, the greater Middle East region, Asia, I’ve lived in Africa for a little bit. I’ve been a little bit everywhere.

Fisher: Wow, sure sounds like it, but of course as a result of that you can certainly relate to these guys and probably more than anybody appreciate their history.

Scott: I certainly feel like it. I feel like I’m continuing my service through passionate employment to the force.

Fisher: Um hmm. So, give us a couple of stories that particularly impressed you that you’ve discovered along the way. I’m sure they’re all incredible, but there have to be a few that just stand out in your mind.

Scott: Oh, there’s so many that stand out, but one of the longest guys I’ve ever looked for when I started was Haskell Saxton. And he was a very confusing individual, because he crossed state lines so many times. I’m certain he was Dust Bowl child, because he started off in Oklahoma and then he was in Hawaii for a bit, not in the service, but ended up in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, but he enlisted in Nevada. And he was the last guy of Nevada.

Fisher: And so, what did you learn about him and how did you find him?

Scott: Oh, he was really troublesome. I called him “Rascal” Saxton for a long time.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: He was very troublesome. I’m not really sure why he moved. I mean, that was a part of his story that I never understood. But, thankfully due to Ancestry.com, Family Search, and various different things like that, I was able to track down living members of his family, which was really, really surprising. Usually, that’s not terribly difficult, but in his case, it was terribly troublesome, because there is no Saxton in the family now. They are all of a different name.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: He was a real blur. I actually thought that I was going to find him because I knew he was a barber and he worked in a barber shop. I found out the barber shop and the social center of many towns in the ‘30s and ‘40s was the barber shop.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: So, I thought that my one chance was going to be finding a reporter taking a picture in a barber shop which I thought would be pretty typical of the times.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: And then, I heard he had a receding hairline and there were a couple of identifying characteristics. I thought I was going to pull him out of a barber shop, but I actually wound up finding a family member and they had photos. But then it morphed into this bigger story because I found a newspaper clipping of “The four men of Elko, Nevada who met on the battlefield.” I think it’s how it was titled, this piece. I was like, oh, my gosh! These four guys, all knew each other. They all got together. They were in totally different units. They found out where each other were stationed briefly with each other. And I thought for sure there would be some sort of photo to commemorate the event of these four men. You know, they would have someone take a photo. I actually got a press story in Elko, the local press were very, very helpful, but I wasn’t able to find that photo. I found photos of all those four individuals and I talked to almost all of their families and it was a very, very interesting process.

Fisher: Wow! I’m listening to this and of course this is how family historians, genealogists do their work. You pick it up. You follow the lead. You make phone calls. You email people. Maybe you write them a physical letter at some point. You had to do any of that yet?

Scott: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. Oh, I’ve done all of that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: Regrettably and thankfully for this experience I’m having with you now. A lot of people regrettably think that there’s a lot of scammers in the world. I understand that and I understand someone calling and talking about a relative you may not even know of that died 80 years ago.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: People get nervous about stuff like this sometimes and I’ve had some very weird reactions from people, which is unfortunate, but I understand.

Fisher: So, writing them a letter is a good way to let them know you’re the real deal?

Scott: Some of them have required it. I don’t think that’s the best way.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: I mean, at this point you can literally Google my name and stuff comes up now and I try to encourage that. But, some have been very assertive about they want an actual letter and then they give me their address. And I’m like, well, if I was a scammer, why would you give me your address? I’m very confused.

Fisher: [Laughs] Good point. Good point.

Scott: Yeah.

Fisher: So, you’ve closed out all these states where you’ve actually obtained photographs of all the remaining veterans killed in action in World War II, in those states. What are you working on now?

Scott: Well, I talked before about how I was trying to expand this hole in the country, the search map that we have as a tool. I’m trying to punch through the seven boarders. So, I’m finishing up Colorado. I’m hoping to close New Mexico in the next week or two. And then a very interesting subject of a Native American soldier during the ’30 and ‘40s. That historical footprint is not good on a lot of folks in that particular group. I’ve actually been after him for 7 or 8 months now.

Fisher: Wow!

Scott: I’ve identified family members and they’re semi-responsive.

Fisher: Well, that’s helpful then isn’t it, and how many more do you have to go in that area?

Scott: Off the top of my head, I have 6 in New Mexico. I think 9 in Arizona. There’s about a dozen in Colorado. I’m skipping over Denver, but everything outside of Denver, because I have people in Denver and I’m hoping they’ll look into that for me. But I just want to punch this hole into the seventh boarder and expand the search materials and the tools that they give us. And hopefully, that will inspire other people to see, wow, we are making a difference.

Fisher: Wow. So, when you look at the map that the organization must make available to you, where you can actually see these holes, what are you finding? I mean, at this point, they must have a total out of the 400,000 where they’ve completed how many?

Scott: Well, I’m talking to be clear about the Faces of Margraten, I’ve gotten specifically at the moment. The last update was 1,594 soldiers still remaining.

Fisher: Okay. But in the United States out of the 400,000, how many have been completed with the entire organization, do you know?

Scott: I don’t know. I know that we have some very active teams because we organize typically by state.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: And some have some very robust teams. My focus is largely on building the connections to European organizations in finding other, essentially marketing to Europe to draw in volunteers. I do not know the exact number off the top of my head. I wouldn’t even want to guess.

Fisher: Right. I got you. It’s a massive project. I have no idea. I know that Don has been very excited about the growth of the organization and how many that you’ve been able to put to bed already, which is an amazing thing. Hopefully, this is going to go on only a couple more years because everybody will complete what needs to be done, but you are kind of in a race against the clock.

Scott: That’s absolutely true. But, I wouldn’t say that this will ever be complete because as you know, they call it history. They don’t call it facts. So, the story is never complete and I just hope they build super viable products for others to add to. That is my largest goal.

Fisher: Wow. Well, it’s great. He’s Scott Rayl. He’s with Stories Behind The Stars. An organization devoted to memorializing the more than 400,000 Americans killed in World War II. And Scott, amazing stories and amazing things that you’re doing. God bless you in your efforts and much success.

Scott: Thank you so much! This was wonderful. Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert is back for another round of Ask Us Anything when we return to Extreme Genes, in three minutes, on America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 419

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're back at it. It is time for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert is back from NEHGS. And Dave, our first question comes from Mercedes in Rio Rancho, California and she writes, "David and Fisher, thanks for taking my question. My father was adopted and DNA matches are showing me his grandparents, but I'm having a hard time figuring out which of their children are his parents, because there are several children in both families. Do you have any suggestions?" Wow! Yeah, you know, this is the kind of thing that a lot of people run into periodically and you narrow it down perhaps to one person or another person on both sides. But the best thing is to understand that, first of all, you want to look at your matches and see if you have somebody who's, say, a first cousin or a half first cousin. A half first cousin would suggest to you that you share one grandparent, because I'm assuming if your father was adopted, then his parents perhaps were not married at the time. Maybe they were. Maybe you can find that there was a child of one set of grandparents who married the child of another and they gave this child up, gave up your dad. If that doesn't work, then you have to start going to the process of elimination. And Dave, this can be a really challenging thing, don't you think?

David: It really does. And you have to get out that old Excel spreadsheet or maybe even use DNA Painter to kind of jump in. Jonny Perl's product is great for narrowing things down.

Fisher: I've seen occasions where what you have to do is, you go through, say there was a family of seven kids and there were three boys, four girls or something like that, then what you want to do is, you want to go through and start figuring out, all right, did any of these children die before my dad could have been conceived?

David: Right.

Fisher: Were any of these children living a thousand miles away at the time my dad was conceived?

David: Or were too young to be his parents.

Fisher: Yeah, or were too young to be the parents, something like that. You can then really start to narrow things down, or perhaps were some of them married and in a very, very stable relationship and it’s really not likely that this person was the father or the mother of your dad at that time. I mean, there are various things that you can do to try to narrow this down. Was one of the sons off in the military at the time your dad would have been conceived? In this case, the conception date is actually more important than the birth date. And so, just back time it nine months from the time he was born and kind of figure that out. The other thing that you can do and having gone through this very scenario by the way with a couple of other people, I found that if you can find people who descend from these other children, then perhaps they can answer some of those questions for you and potentially you can find somebody willing to take a DNA test so that you can eliminate somebody as the potential parent of your father. We found somebody in one of these cases who was over 90 years old, and his son was happy to help out, got dad to do the test and based on the distance of relationship between my friend and this man, we figured out then that his mother could not have been the mother of her father. And so, you know, you have to start going through these things and eliminating them. But I'll tell you, when we did this, we were able to narrow it down to one person who was the mother and two brothers who were likely the father. And in this particular case, we were never able to separate the two boys. Now, we found one though that was married shortly before her dad was conceived and then he was divorced shortly after her dad was born and he lived just a little over a mile away from this woman. So, while theoretically the younger brother could have been the father, this other one is the one she looks at and says, "Yeah, that's got to be the guy."

David: That makes sense.

Fisher: And there's nothing more we can do with it, because he didn't have any children, he doesn't have any grandchildren, so we weren't able to do any further DNA testing as a result of this whole thing. So, that's kind of what you have to do. And sometimes unfortunately you can't get the answers 100%, but I wish you the best of luck with that. It’s not an uncommon problem. And thanks for the question. And coming up next, we'll take another question about coats of arms when we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 419

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 and ExtremeGenes.com. We're doing Ask Us Anything. And David, our next question comes from Ryan in Deerfield Beach, Florida and he says, "Guys, I know for sure that my second great grandfather had a Scottish coat of arms. He told me about this when I was a young boy. How do I find out more about this?" Good question.

David: Oooh! Well, a coat of arms is always a sticky wicket, because it doesn't necessarily mean that the coat of arms for one name is applicable to all. But there is hope for Scotland. There actually is an office, an official government office called, The Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.

Fisher: Ohh, I like that! [Laughs]

David: And I've been there, it’s in Edinburgh.

Fisher: Really?

David: And they have all the registered coat of arms since 1672.

Fisher: Wow!

David: There are arms that were lawfully borne. And the way it works with a coat of arms is, you know, someone had to perform a heroic deed back in the day and then they had that coat of arms awarded to them, or if somebody had a notable achievement and they achieved some rank in the government under the royalty to be given a prominent position award that hence bear a coat of arms. Now, just because I have the last name, Lambert for instance, I'm not entitled to all of the coat of arms by the name of Lambert. I can't say, "Oh, that's a pretty one! I'll put that one on my stationary."

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: You actually have to have the ancestor who originally was assigned the coat of arms. You don't have to have the same last name. In some ranks, they do want you to bear the coat of arms of your surname, so it would be the male son directly descended back.

Fisher: Right.

David: From the armiger which is the person who bore the arms itself. But you know, you can make enquiries, like I say, the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Edinburgh. You can write to them. There's a great page on Family Search Wiki that explains how to contact them and you can also see a variety of different websites. There's like the Peerage of Scotland and Ireland and that's on Ancestry.com. That may help you. There's another one that's available, which is the Heraldry and Coats of Arms Resources to help on Roots Chat, which has the Heraldry and Coats of Arms on RootChat.com.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: There's also the General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales from the 1500s to 1800s and that's on Ancestry. And if you're not done with that, there are 60,000 family coats of arms in the General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales also available on, guess where, Ancestry.com.

Fisher: Absolutely. You know, these things are fascinating and they're interesting and obviously they don't apply to most people living today if they were earned, say, back 300 years ago or 400 years ago or something like that. But they're very interesting if you're writing a history or something like that. But to claim it as your own, and I don't even know that there's really much benefit to claiming it as your own anyway.

David: No, not unless you want to fly it from your castle or, you know, a banner from your Bentley as you drive it or your Rolls Royce, you know. I mean, there's any variety of reason to. I mean, if you're going to be jousting, you might want that on the pipe that you're carrying into battle or you know, maybe your coat of arms will be emblazoned on the metal chest protector of your armor that you just had made up for your hallway. But a lot of people really are very much involved in that. NEHGS has a Committee of Heraldry, which has been on it for over 100 years and its serious work. And we take into consideration the people that are researching their coats of arms. So, there are people still very much involved in it, and of course in Europe, it’s even more important for genealogical research.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. So, great question, Ryan, hope that helps you out and good luck in finding that coat of arms. And David, thank you very much. We'll talk to you again next week.

David: All right, until then.

Fisher: All right, and that's our show for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. If you missed any of it of course or you want to hear it again, catch the podcast version. We're all over the place, we're on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio, Apple Media, wherever fine podcasts are found, you'll find us right there. Talk to you next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes