Episode 421 - 1950 Census DONE, More from Ancestry and Cherokee Research TipsMay 16, 2022
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher talks about discovering some never-before-seen pictures and David talks about an article on the subject. Then David shares one of his favorite YouTube channels for self-education about Irish research. A 6,000-year-old cemetery in Normandy has received a new analysis with a remarkable find. Hear what’s been learned. Then, it’s new technology that tells modern day researchers what ancient smells were present back at research sites in the day. David then talks about the size of ancestral brains. Wait til you hear what scientists have learned! Then David asks for birthday cards for a Pearl Harbor vet who turns 98 on June 2. Send them to Horace Hamilton, PO Box 1281 Caldwell, TX 77836.
Next, Fisher visits with Crista Cowan from sponsor Ancestry. She’s got big news about the 1950 Census indexing project. It’s done! Find out how they did it so fast! Crista then shares news about the Ancestry DNA app and new available databases on Ancestry.
Michelle Carroll of sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists talks about her experiences learning about her Cherokee ancestry. That was, until a DNA test showed that her grandfather wasn’t her biological grandfather. Still, it didn’t steal her knowledge of Cherokee research. She shares some tips on how to tie into your Cherokee ancestors.
David then returns for two more questions on Ask Us Anything.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript Of Episode 421
Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 421
Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. We’ve got a loaded, loaded, loaded show for you today. First of all, coming up here in just a few minutes we’re going to be talking to our friends over an Ancestry.com Crista Cowan is going to be back on because they’re done, the 1950 census. Yeah, you got to hear how they put this whole thing together to index the entire census all 150 someodd million people in just a few days and now how they’ve checked the accuracy. I mean it’s just going to be a great visit. Plus, Ancestry has some new announcements about new databases that are out too, you’re going to want to hear. And then later on the show, Michelle Carroll is here, a researcher at Legacy Tree talking about the three tribes of the Cherokees, and lots of other stuff. Hey, and don’t forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter where you can get past and present shows, links to great articles you’ll appreciate as a genealogist, and a blog from me each week. It’s absolutely free and you can sign up at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Right now it’s off to Boston, Massachusetts, my favorite Red Sox fan, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org its David Allen Lambert. Hello David.
David: Hello and how’s my favorite Mets fan these days?
Fisher: You know this year, pretty darn good! Thank you very much. [Laughs]
David: [Laughs] A little bit better than my team in Beantown that’s for sure.
Fisher: Yep, absolutely.
David: So, what’s new with you these days?
Fisher: Well, I actually got a box from a cousin with pictures in it and who knew, but there were several in there I had never seen before. Two of my uncles who served in World War II, and one was a professional boxer for a time and I’d never seen a picture of him in his boxing pose, but here was one signed to his brother, my half uncle, back on January 2nd, 1941.
Fisher: It’s a great picture. I was real pleased with it.
David: Well, that’s always great when you find photographs. There’s a great article I read talking about collecting photographs and discovering lost pictures by Patty Taylor in the Bowman Enterprise where she was talking about going through family letters, and while they were reading them photos fell out. Well, they tucked the pictures into the letter and never had them framed so they didn’t know they had these. And those photos were over 80 years old.
Fisher: Wow! Don’t you that when you open something old like that and a little surprise comes out. Like Cracker Jacks.
David: What I love is learning new things, and I think that people are embracing online education all the time now especially with YouTube. I have a lot of YouTube channels that I like but there’s one for the National Archives in Ireland that I have probably watched all of their videos.
David: Because it’s like a free course from Ireland. Now, the National Archives of Ireland you figure there’d be thousands of people that tune into the YouTube channels.
David: Nah, they’re under 400.
David: Yeah! So, our listeners if you’ve got some Irish roots go to the National Archives of Ireland website for YouTube and give them a little love from Fish and Dave.
Fisher: I’m just wondering what these Irish people are doing here? There’s less than 400. That’s insane.
David: Well, I think it’s because so many people immigrated to America.
David: So many we need American Irish to sign up.
Fisher: There you go.
David: You know, on that same side of the pond, I‘m going to talk about a cemetery that was found in the 1960s. That cemetery is over 6,000 years old and it was found over in Normandy. Well, old bones and new technology means finding out that cemetery had 19 skeletons, but they’re all related. It was a patrilineal society in this cemetery and probably had a common great, great grandfather. So, that’s exciting.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s really interesting.
David: And since you probably have Norman roots, and I have Norman roots, they may have found our ancestor, which would take the rest of the season to say the greats to go that far back.
David: Well, the next story is a little smelly, but I think you’ll enjoy it. And this is a news and science article about “smell scapes,” and how they’re using old artifacts to bring out smells from the past. Now Ramses, when he was the Pharaoh of Egypt, one of his jobs was to rid the land of the smell of the fish, and the birds, and the smelly swamps off the Nile. Well, how many of you find in an archeological site an incense burner? You normally would wash it off, put it in a museum. Now they’re taking that burnt remains and if it’s frankincense, or myrrh, or some sort of a wood or flower petal, a smell from the past can now be realized today. You know, my ancestor’s brain might have been bigger than your ancestor’s brain.
Fisher: It’s very possible.
David: At least that’s what science is telling us.
Fisher: Um hmm. [Laughs]
David: Yeah. Well, since we have common ancestors, 100 generations ago, chances are it’s our ancestor’s brain.
David: And they’re finding out now based on skulls and the analysis of coronial fossils that our ancestors had larger brains than we do now. It’s all that time playing video games. We knew it was going to happen. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly.
David: You know, before I wrap up, I want to actually give a birthday wish and a call out for people to send cards to a 98 year old veteran. On June 2nd Horace Hamilton of Caldwell, Texas who was a veteran from Pearl Harbor will be 98 years young. He’s asking for birthday cards and you can send him a card to Horace Hamilton, P.O. Box 1281 Caldwell, Texas 77836. He is one of the last Pearl Harbor survivors and maybe the last crew member from the USS Phoenix that made it out of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 when he was 17 years old.
Fisher: Wow! That’s a great story. What a great thing to do too. 98 years young. Congratulations to him.
David: Well everyone, that’s all I have from Beantown this week. Don’t forget, if you use the coupon code EXTREME you can save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org here in Boston. And I’ll talk to you in a little bit for Ask Us Anything.
Fisher: All right. Great stuff David. Thank you so much. Oh, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover today. First of all, later on in the show we’ve got Michelle Carroll joining us from Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’s a researcher there. You know, she’s one of these people who’s been through all the things we read about, right. She’s found out that she had some Native American ancestry, and she had a DNA surprise so she’s kind of an expert in all of these things and she’s going to share with you some information about the Cherokees; The three tribes. The Trail of Tears. Researching these lines if you should find it, you happen to have those in your family tree. And coming up next of course, Crista Cowan is going to be joining us from our friends over at Ancestry.com, our great sponsors, talking about the 1950 census again. Big news came out about that this past week and you’re just not going to believe how quickly they have indexed this whole thing and how they did it. You’re going to want to hear all about it. It’s coming up next starting in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 421
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and it is always a joy to talk to my good friend Crista Cowan from over at our sponsors at Ancestry because these guys have been like news makers this year. Everything they touch is incredible, and you’ve got more big news going on right now Crista.
Crista: We do in fact. I know you and I have spoken a little bit about the 1950 census and how Ancestry had those images downloaded from the National Archives in less than 48hours. We immediately got to work on the handwriting recognition technology, brand new proprietary artificial intelligence so that we could index those 153 million names in that census as quickly as possible.
Fisher: But you had practice runs with this stuff.
Crista: Oh, for sure.
Fisher: You know, you had to make up things in different people’s handwriting to see how it worked.
Fisher: And it was fantastic at least in theory. And then when you put it to work, how long did it take you to do all of that work?
Crista: You know, the hard work and prep paid off. We got the whole thing completely run through handwriting recognition in nine days.
Fisher: In nine days.
Fisher: Now, think about that, back 10 years ago, 2012, we got the 1940 census and everybody is talking about the war, and it took how many months at that point?
Crista: Almost six months to get the full thing indexed.
Fisher: So, it went from six month to nine days over the course of a single decade. So, I’m thinking you know, like when the 1960 census comes out in 2032 we’re going to be looking at about 35 minutes.
Fisher: Something like that because your IT people are so ridiculously amazing. Now, I know that that is out now and I’ve been looking through it. I’m finding things, I’m even getting the shaky leaf hints now from the 1950 census that I really wouldn’t have come to expect this fast. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Some of this of course you’re going through and you’re double checking and this is that partnership with Family Search. How’s that working?
Crista: Yeah. So, we delivered that completed computer generated index to Family Search on April 9th. They started reviewing and curetting that index. Now we’ve indexed every field on the census and so they’re reviewing field by field through that whole thing. And the quality that they were discovering was so high that that’s why we went ahead and just published the early version of this computer generated index. Now we did publish it because we wanted people to be able to make discoveries as quickly as possible.
Crista: We only published a few fields so, name, location, gender, age, marital status, birth place, all the rest of the fields are still going through that review process. So, as Family Search finishes each state, we will then publish that completed state and replace that portion of this early index.
Fisher: But you’re talking about the indexing of that because if you can just go to the original page, you can see those things as they are originally.
Fisher: So, there’s really nothing much you’re being held back from at this point, other than the fact that maybe somebody’s going to try to interpret handwriting that you might not be able to understand, and get another opinion basically. But you can still look at the original and find all that information yourself, which is absolutely insane.
Crista: Yep, it is. Super exciting! It is. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] So, the 1950 census, obviously the big story of the year really and it’s going to be for any year that ends with a two, forever more. But you guys have a lot of other things going on other than the 1950 census, and it’s important stuff. Let’s talk about, first of all, what’s going on with the Ancestry DNA app.
Crista: Yeah. So, Ancestry for the last several years have had two different mobile apps.
Crista: With the Ancestry app where you can access your tree and a little bit of search features and capabilities. And then we have the Ancestry DNA app where the DNA match list is where you could activate your kit, it’s where you could check your ethnicity updates every year. Well, we’re in the process of retiring that Ancestry DNA app and we’ve moved all those DNA features over into that one single Ancestry mobile app. And it’s available for both IOS and Android devices.
Fisher: So, it’s available for anything at this point? So that’s great. One stop shopping. We love that.
Fisher: [Laughs] Love being able to sit in a restaurant and I’m talking DNA, “Well, let me show you something here” and pull that right up. And it’s great also to just be able to have that and the tree in the same place and be able to mess with it. That is so much fun. You know, you hate to hear, oh, well we’re getting rid of an app. No, no, no, no we’re making this better. Let’s talk about the databases you guys have been coming out with lately.
Crista: Yeah. You’d think the 1950 census was taking up all of our time and attention but I did mention we indexed that in nine days so we have been able to give some attention to some other records. Including, we have over the last about two years been publishing little bit by bit the Mexican Catholic Church records. And we just completed that entire collection, 13 million records dating back to 1641 going up through the 1970s. So, anybody with a heritage in any of the states in Mexico should be able to make some discoveries there now.
Fisher: Wow! Well, you know, you consider South and Central America and how many people are all over the world now from there.
Fisher: Your Guatemalan records are just unbelievable.
Fisher: And Mexico, of course, is impacting so many people here in the United States now to be able to find some of the stuff there. It’s so easy. And for people who are professional researches or like to help their friends, just knowing those databases are available. Just go to the cart catalogue on Ancestry.com and you can see what’s there all the time. I’m always making discoveries. It’s like oh, you got that! I love hearing about these databases. What else you got?
Crista: Yeah. So, we’ve also been publishing some records from some of the Baltic States. So, Latvia, we’ve just published an update of the database for births, marriages, and deaths, now has 28 million records in it. And then some Estonian census records almost seven and a half million records from there. So, again, lots of people in those former soviet bloc countries that immigrated to the United States in 1980s and early 1990s wanting to connect back with some of those family history records in those countries, those are now available.
Fisher: Would you agree with me that Eastern European research traditionally has really been kind of a nightmare.
Crista: It’s difficult first of all because soviet bloc locked down so many of those records.
Crista: But also, there was a lot of records lost during both World Wars. And so whatever records exist, it’s always really satisfying to see them discovered and then made available.
Fisher: Sure. And then you know you add that with DNA and you start finding relatives over there and putting this all together. I mean, we’re really at the point now where we’re doing what even five, seven, 10 years ago you would just consider pretty much impossible.
Fisher: And we’re seeing the same thing happening in Asia.
Crista: Asian records are super interesting because they have kept brilliant records. In China they’re called Gapu. They have similar things in Taiwan and Japan, so, really great records. The challenge with their records is that for centuries they’ve kept them but they’ve only listed the men, so no wives, no daughters.
Fisher: Well, except in Japan where they put all the families together since 1872.
Fisher: The challenge there is the privacy issues that are going on with it. But still, nonetheless, it’s almost like a census except it’s constantly being maintained. It’s not every 10 years or anything like that. So you get the births, and the deaths, and the marriages. What other databases have you got coming out right now that we’d be interested in?
Crista: Well, the last couple of things I just want to talk about are the newspaper indexes. I know we’ve talked about those before. Ancestry has indexed the obituaries and marriages found on Newspapers.com. And we continue to update the US indexes. We’ve also continued to update the Canadian indexes, and then now added brand new the UK and Ireland newspaper indexes.
Fisher: It’s really spreading out, isn’t it as far as the newspapers go. There are two databases that I just think are the things that cause people’s heads to explode; newspapers and DNA.
Crista: Uh huh.
Fisher: And we obviously saw a decline in growth in DNA testing for a while, but I’ve noticed the pickup in that of late. Is that just my observation, or is there anything to that, do you know?
Crista: Well, you know, I don’t know about overall numbers, but I know anecdotally my experience has been the same as yours, which is just when you think you’ve exhausted all of the second cousins that you have that might possibly exist in the world, a new one pops up on your DNA match list. One came up on mine this week. [Laughs]
Fisher: Right. Because I do see more and more information still coming in, it’s like wow! People are still testing all over the world.
Crista: They are.
Fisher: And maybe more people are even starting to put their trees in there to help us try to see maybe where that connection is, and then in the newspaper things too. Just a few months ago, I found this whole set of newspapers on Newspapers.com from Brooklyn, New York that talked about the bowling leagues in New York City in 1879, and learned that my great grandfather and great grandmother were part of the men’s and women’s leagues. And it gave their scores every week, and talked about their teams, and how they were doing, and their names were listed. And I was just like, you just don’t get any better than this stuff.
Fisher: Because newspapers what do they do? It’s stories! And that’s exactly what we’re looking for obviously in family history. So, it’s great to see that even though we’ve gone through this tidal wave of DNA test results that that’s still coming in numbers that we couldn’t have imagined back, say in 2010 or 2012.
Fisher: And now we’re finding that there’s still more, and more, and more, and more newspapers out there that haven’t been digitized yet. Do you have any idea how many more are out there say, just in the United States, Crista?
Crista: Oh gosh, I don’t.
Crista: I just know it’s interesting if you go to Newspapers.com they have a little ticker in the top corner of the page of how many pages of newspapers they’ve digitized, and it’s in the hundreds of millions.
Crista: Sometimes that number rolls very quickly as they add new pages, page after page.
Fisher: We’re going to a billion at some point.
Crista: Oh, easily.
Fisher: But you know, this is the good news is there are still stories to be found about ancestors back there that you never imagined you would find. Ad it’s what just keeps everybody going. It’s great fun. Well, congratulations Crista, on all that’s going on over at Ancestry. Thanks for coming on and sharing that. Look forward to checking out the new databases and talking to you again real soon about what you’ve got going on.
Fisher: And coming up next, do you suspect you have Native American ancestry? Michelle Carroll thought she did. It was passed through her family for years till she got a DNA surprise. She’ll explain that whole story coming up and tell you how you can research your Cherokee linage should you suspect you have some. Yeah, there’s some great records out there. She’ll give you the whole story coming up in about five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 421
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Michelle Carroll
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And on the line with me today from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, it’s researcher Michelle Carroll. It was very interesting to talk to Michelle. She is in Washington State, and before we got going with this we were talking about some different areas of research that she’s an expert in that we can talk about on the show and she brought up DNA surprises, talked about the three tribes of Cherokees, the Trail of Tears. And then I kind of found out Michelle, that you kind of have all these things wrapped up into one big story of your own.
Michelle: I do, absolutely.
Michelle: It’s great to be on your show. Thank you for having me today. Yeah, I would love to tell you more about my Cherokee heritage. I grew up actually learning about it. My grandpa always told me stories about it. And always heard about him growing up down in Oklahoma. And then, at the age of about 45, I took a DNA test and lo and behold, Like I’m sure has happened to a lot of people, there was not Cherokee there.
Michelle: So, that was a big surprise.
Michelle: So, it turns out, my grandpa is Cherokee, but I’m not his biological granddaughter. [Laughs]
Fisher: Interesting. But the thing is though, that doesn’t really change your expertise in it because you’ve been in it since childhood. You’ve known the history. You’ve known the heritage. And that’s still gone into your family as a result of that and you’ve become quite an expert in Cherokee research. So, let’s talk about what some of that has engaged you in and some of the stories you’ve come up with, and some things people might not know about that kind of background and heritage.
Michelle: Yeah. I’d be happy to talk about the Cherokee background and all the research that I’ve done. So, long before I found out that Cherokee wasn’t actually part of my genetic inheritance, I had done a lot of research into my Cherokee family. My grandfather actually has a cousin who has done a lot of Cherokee writing. So, I read a lot of stories about that part of my family in Oklahoma and knew that they had come across on the Trail of Tears, so I did some research into that. The biggest part of trying to trace your ancestors past the Trail of Tears is just following those Cherokee rolls backwards in time. And those are kind of like a census that other people would be looking at. You know, the rolls are basically a census of the tribe.
Fisher: And how often would they take this census?
Michelle: So, there were several of the censuses taken and the earliest ones that were before the Trail of Tears were taken by the US government. And if you look at them, a big part of that was they were looking at where the tribes lived and they were actually recording some of the gold and some of the medals and different things that were on the land that they wanted access to, which is part of the reason that the Trail of Tears happened.
Michelle: Which roll you look at depends on where your ancestors lived and when they were on the Trail of Tears, and where they moved to. As you mentioned, there were actually three Cherokee tribes that are recognized federally. I am a member of Cherokee Nation, which is the largest, but there’s also the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. And their roll that they use for membership is their 1949 base roll. So basically, that band, were the ones who are called the “Old Settlers.”
Michelle: And they voluntarily before the Trail of Tears relocated to the Arkansas area. The third group actually is called “Eastern Band of Cherokee” and they were ones that somehow avoided the Trail of Tears and stayed in the Eastern US. And they used the 1924 Baker Roll as their requirement to be a member.
Fisher: Interesting. So basically, what you’ve got with these groups is it was one nation at one point and then it split up, is that right?
Michelle: correct. That’s exactly correct, yes.
Michelle: And you can only be a member of one of the three groups. You cannot be a member of all three.
Fisher: Fascinating. So, the Trail of Tears, for people who aren’t aware, took place between like 1830 and 1850. But it involved many different tribes, including the Cherokee at that point and many of your group obviously wound up, the Cherokee Nation wound up in Oklahoma, right?
Michelle: Yes, that’s absolutely correct. So, I was able to trace one of my lines. They originally started about North Carolina, Georgia border area, and we figured she probably migrated with her family between 1838 and 1839. And this would be my fourth great grandmother Jenny Sakwichi is the name she ended up with when she was in Oklahoma, but her Native American name was Ayasdi. So, she and her family I was able to trace them from the rolls before the Trail of Tears. One of the key rolls that is so helpful if you’re doing research trying to find your Trail of Tears ancestors is using the Eastern Cherokee applications, Guion Miler Rolls.
Michelle: And those give all kinds of information. It’s fantastic.
Fisher: Now, where are these rolls accessible for people?
Michelle: Sure. Oh, yeah, the Guion Miler Rolls are at the National Archives. Also, they’ve all been digitized and they are available on Fold3. And I believe that there are other locations you can find them as well.
Fisher: Okay. So, for some people it’s just a matter of getting a simple subscription, obviously a lot harder to get into the National Archives these days.
Fisher: But nonetheless, sounds like a lot of information there.
Michelle: It’s fantastic. They provided information about grandparents, brothers, sisters, because what they were trying to do is they were trying to get the compensation that the US government was going to provide to everyone who relocated. And so, in order to do that you had to fill out these applications. So, they had to give a lot of details so that they could prove that they actually were on the Trail of Tears. So, each of these rolls, it’s really interesting too, they cross reference very well. The Dawes Roll is the roll that you need to have an ancestor on in your direct line in order to be a member of the Cherokee Nation. And if you look on the Dawes Roll, like for my great grandmother, Nina, there’s a whole list of other information on there that gives you kind of links to other sources. Her birth affidavit is listed on there.
Michelle: So, you’re going to get an idea of other records you can go chase which as a genealogist of course that’s fabulous. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, that’s like the best stuff ever. So, this is really interesting to me because I’m sure people are listening and going, wait a minute, didn’t you say at the beginning that the DNA proved you weren’t a part of Cherokee Nation, yet you’re still a member, yes?
Michelle: Yes, that is true. So, what happened was, my family put in their membership applications before I even found out about DNA.
Michelle: And after my dad found out, he contacted the Cherokee Nation and said, look, I didn’t realize this happened. It was a DNA surprise and they said, it doesn’t matter at all because we don’t even look at DNA. You can’t use DNA to prove membership anyway. What you need is the records. So, it didn’t matter at all to them.
Fisher: Interesting. So, there are government benefits also to being a member of these nations, yes?
Michelle: Yes, there can be. I know that my dad has received some benefits, especially healthcare and that type of thing.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Michelle: So, that’s one benefit that I know that he has received. I know that there’s more available if you’re living down around Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, but I didn’t grow up in that area so my information just comes from the stories from my family.
Fisher: Right. You just wanted to know your heritage and how that all ties together. Well, you know, it’s a fascinating thing for those of us who have not delved into this and a lot of families throughout the country of all kinds of backgrounds have had it passed down that they had some Native American back there, and obviously DNA is helping to prove or disprove many of those stories from the past. But, for those people who actually find connections, especially can specify down to something like one of these three tribes of Cherokees. Sounds like there’s a great deal of fantastic records waiting out there for you to get those generations back on your tree.
Michelle: Absolutely. That’s so true. You know, it’s interesting because even though the indigenous American ethnicity didn’t show up on my test, I do have the DNA tests for two of my grandpa’s siblings and the percentage reflected of indigenous American for them is exactly pretty spot on with what was reported for my great grandmother.
Fisher: Isn’t that interesting. That’s great stuff. She’s Michelle Carroll. She’s a researcher at Legacy Tree Genealogists one of our great sponsors. And obviously, a specialist in Cherokee research and if you’re interested in finding out about your Native American ancestors, might be a great route to go. Thanks for sharing those records with us Michelle.
Michelle: Thanks so much. It was great talking to you.
Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 421
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, we're back. I am back. David is back, its Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David, our first question today is from Mira-Lee in New Rochelle, New York and she says, "Guys, I just found out that one of my ancestors was a loyalist in the Revolution." which is not uncommon in Westchester County, New York.
David: No, it’s not.
Fisher: "And supposedly lost everything. How do I find out what he lost?" That's a great question, David.
David: Ooh! Well, you know, and being akin to having loyalist roots in Westchester County, New York, I can answer that question!
David: And you don't have to go any further than Ancestry.com. They have a database that's entitled, "U.K., American Loyalist Claims 1776 to 1835." It’s all indexed and it comes from two sets of records, they are the Audit Office records. Now, there's Audit Office 12, which were about 50 or so bound volumes, all very well written calligraphy, easy to read.
David: And they were based from Audit Office 13, which are all the original documents. These include the memorials or the claims that were made by all of these individuals and families. So, if your ancestor lost a yoke of ox and his barn, 20 acres of land, all of his personal possessions, they were seized by the American army, it will be all detailed there.
David: The catch of this is, you may have said "Has 800 pounds worth of value to your property", you were lucky if you got 100 pounds, because the British crown, even though they were glad you were a loyal subject of the crown, these tories didn't get every penny back that they thought they were going to. And this is really kind of a sad story for some, because things that they end up losing are things like family bibles, documents, anything that would have been maybe passed on that could have been in the family may have been burned and destroyed. And of course a war and of course that's been going on for 1000s of years. But the American Loyalist Claims are great. You'll find them right online on Ancestry.com, and it’s one of the best collections for Revolutionary War research for loyalists that you can find.
Fisher: Well, and it probably is a great way for you to find out if you had an ancestor who was a loyalist. Maybe you suspect somebody and you can pop a name in there and maybe just the surname and see if the first name comes up and you might prove what you're looking for. You know, it is amazing how much you lose when you're on the wrong side of a war. [Laughs]
David: Um hmm, that's true.
Fisher: You know, I had a brother in law of one of my ancestors who took his wife who would have been some kind of 7th great aunt of something like that and wound up in Nova Scotia. And of course they lost everything that they left behind in New York State and of course all the association with people they'd known and loved, and then they had to start fresh. Nova Scotia was not really well settled back at that time. And so, the British had to provide them with things by which they could build their homes and claim new land. And really, they were just starting their lives all over again.
David: And that's true. In a lot of the records you find in Nova Scotia in New Brunswick, the crown land grab records are often, say, you know, from New York or from Massachusetts or from another colony. And sometimes it goes down to saying exactly where, but with that and the combination of the loyalist claims, providing your ancestor put in for a claim, that will give you the back story, how they were loyal to the crown, if they had served in the French and Indian War, if they were a merchant. Anything they did to support the British crown in North America, it’s all laid right out there, like they're writing a letter to the future.
Fisher: Isn't that amazing! [Laughs] There's great stuff there, so the bad news for them was bad news, but for us, it’s really good, because it leaves a lot of details about the lives of some of these people. So, great stuff and a great question there. Thanks so much for that, Mira-Lee. And we've got another one coming up when we return with more of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 5 Episode 421
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, question number two this week on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. This is from Lyle in Westbrook, Maine, and he says, "Fisher, David, my grandfather was a private pilot in the 1940s and 1950s. Any idea how I might find if his old Mooney airplane is still out there?" That is a really good question. Dave, do you have any pilots in your family?
David: Um, no, but the person who taught me history used to fly a Sopwith Camel in the '20s. He was a barnstormer and he used to also do aerial photography in the '20s when someone else flew and he was strapped to the wing with a hammer.
Fisher: Oh, no, I can't even imagine that! My dad was a private pilot back in the 1950s and '60s. And actually, when I was a preschooler, we had a private plane. And it was what they call a tail dragger. It was a Cessna 170. And so Lyle, here is the thing that you should do, and in fact, I did this recently myself and it paid off. If you have a picture of your grandfather with the plane, you want to look for the call sign that's along the side. Now, I'm assuming it’s an American plane, which means that call sign should begin with the letter N, and it’s usually four numbers and then a letter again at the end. You can look that up online on the strangest site you could ever imagine, a place called, Google!
Fisher: And, yes, I know, Dave, I know. It’s a shocking thing. But if you just put in airplane, call sign and put that number in there, you might be surprised to find a photograph of your grandfather's private plane just like I did of my dad's plane from the 1950s that I used to fly in. And I'll tell you, it looks great, it’s been freshly painted, it’s a different color and all that. But to just see that old plane with that call sign on it is an amazing thing to me. And people have asked me, "Well, why would you even know something like that?" Well, other than the fact I have pictures of it, that was one of those early numbers that was ingrained in my head, you know before I even started school and it’s just, it’s never left me. So, you know, when I wanted to look and see if I might be able to find something out there on that, I popped it in there and pulled it right up! So really, it’s a great suggestion for anybody who has a private pilot and a private plane in their background that they may want to research. You know, that's the one thing about pilots, Dave, they love taking photographs of their own aircraft and putting it out there. You know they go to air shows, right?
David: Um hmm, it’s like having a sports car with wings.
Fisher: Yeah! I think that's a really good comparison. I mean, when I was really little, a preschooler, there was nothing more fun in my life than when dad would say, "Hey, we're going to the airport. We're going flying today." And we’d go out there and he'd hop me in and put the headset on and I could talk to him through the headset. And there's a certain smell to the interior of a private plane that I've always associated with that experience. We still have some old home movies of it and that type of thing. And so Lyle, hopefully you can make a little headway with this and find out where the plane is. Tell you what, my brother is a pilot to this very day, flies for American Airlines and he actually wanted to go out and see if he could find that plane so he could buy it and buy it back into the family after almost 60 years. Isn't that crazy!
David: Well, now's your chance!
Fisher: [Laughs] I guess so. One record says it’s in Maryland and another says it’s in Michigan, so I'd have to take a look and see if it’s been fairly recently sold and where it is right now. But that's kind of public information. It’s out there all over the place that you can find. So, take a look at your pictures, Lyle and see if you can track down a good photo of what your grandfather's plane looked like today and hopefully discover that it’s still out there. Wouldn't it be fun, Dave to go out, track it down and get a ride in something like that after all those years?
David: Ohh, sounds like a thrill.
Fisher: It really would be. All right, well, thanks for the question, Lyle. Thank you, David for coming on once again, because that is our final question this week on Ask Us Anything.
David: Well, thank you and I will talk to you next week.
Fisher: Looking forward to it, sir! Well, thanks so much for joining us for the show this week. Thanks once again to Crista Cowan from our sponsors over at Ancestry, and Michelle Carroll from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree for coming on with some incredible stuff this week. If you missed any of the show, of course catch the podcast on AppleMedia, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, wherever fine podcasts are found. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!