Episode 436 - Iowa Cemetery Project Goes High Tech / Ancestry DNA Beta Program Has GenieWorld Buzzing

podcast episode Oct 24, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. First up in Family Histoire News is the story of how genealogy is now a major part of plans for Russians to escape Putin’s military draft. Find out why and what the citizens are looking for. Then… an English Castle in Texas? It sure looks like it! And a couple there has bought it with intensions to restore it. Catch the details. Next, an old mine shaft has coughed up a pair of 1880s era Levi jeans! Hear what they’ve been valued at. Connecticut is now following the path of Massachusetts in seeking to exonerate 17th century accused witches. Find out how you can be part of the effort. Finally, David has another “spooky season” story!

Next, Fisher visits with Kristine Bartley of Des Moines, Iowa. Kristine’s initial project of getting grave stones for numerous 19th century babies buried at Woodland Cemetery has branched out, and now Woodland has gone high tech! Find out what Kristine has done and what might be done at a cemetery near you.

Crista Cowan from sponsor Ancestry.com then talks with Fisher about their new DNA Beta program, which allows you to categorize your DNA matches by paternal and maternal lines, without having to test your parents. Crista talks about the science behind it, what may come next, and why you might not see this amazing new feature quite yet.

David then returns for another two rounds of Ask Us Anything.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 436

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. Two great guests lined up for you today. One is Kristine Bartley. We’ve had her on the show before. She was working in Des Moines, at a cemetery trying to get tombstones for babies who had been buried there, over four dozen of them. And has that project changed into something else? You’re not going to believe what’s going on at that cemetery back in Des Moines. We’ll talk to Kristine in about ten minutes. And then later in the show Crista Cowan is here from our sponsors over at Ancestry.com, talking about the new beta test that separates your paternal and maternal DNA matches. How does it work? Where is this thing going? What are the benefits? And maybe, why haven’t you seen it yet? Crista will have all the answers for you coming up in just a little bit. Hey, make sure you sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter this week. We give you a blog from me each week, stories that you’ll appreciate as a genealogist, and links to past and present shows. And it’s all free! You can sign up on our Facebook page or at ExtremeGenes.com. Right now, it’s time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts, David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, is standing by. Hello David!

David: Hey Fisher! We’re getting pretty close to Halloween.

Fisher: Yes, we are.

David: We’ve got some great stories for the scary part, but we’ve got some things that are even more scary at the beginning.

Fisher: Yes, we do.

David: But first I want to ask you, are you registered to go to RootsTech?

Fisher: I haven’t signed up yet. But I know they just opened it up, didn’t they?

David: They did. They did. I’m giving three lectures so I hope to see your smiling face in the audience.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, let’s go across the pond and talk about something dealing with the Russians. And this time its genealogy but it’s Russians looking for their Jewish heritage so they can become passport holding Israelis. This is a fascinating story where you know, Russia was not very open with some of their Jewish heritage under Stalin, for instance. But now the descendants of these people are now looking for their deep roots and Jewish heritage so they can get out of Russia to avoid the draft.

Fisher: Yeah. Putin’s draft has driven this thing and people are desperately looking their records right now to get that Jewish ancestry and head off to Israel. And good luck to them. It’s it amazing? We’ve got this desperate in our times that are creating this demand to know the Jewish ancestry to get out of trouble, whereas 80 years ago we had people trying to hide their Jewish ancestry. 

David: Yeah, like two or three generations difference basically.

Fisher: Yep.

David: It’s amazing. Well, you know, everybody’s home is their castle. I’m sure as you think of your own at home, and mine. But in the Santa Fe castle, located in Santa Fe Texas, Ian Dennis and his wife Kristen had a smile. They spend over $800,000 for a piece of property that may need a little bit of fixing up. Think of the old movie with Tom Hanks, The Money Pit, but this actually looks like an English castle. I sent you the link to it Fish.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: So, what do you think, does it look like something you would bump into like the midlands of England?

Fisher: Oh, absolutely. And it was built in the 1930s. And these people obviously have some money because I don’t know who would want to own it otherwise.

David: Well, I’m sure it’s going to be the talk of the town once it’s all restored and they get into it. Right now it looks like something out of a Halloween movie.

Fisher: Hmm.

David: You never know what you can find when you’re doing your genetics. And you know, learning about genes is pretty rewarding. But in this case I’m talking about the jeans that you wear. A pair of old Levis from the 1880s, Fish, were recently found down in an abandoned mine, and ready for this, they were worth $87,000.

Fisher: Wow! They must have been in great shape I’m thinking, right?

David: Well, pretty worn down, but you know that ripped and acid washed jeans look is in with the hipsters so I think it’s entirely possible that some person saw them and said, “Great, I don’t have to wash them in the washing machine. They’re already done for me 140 off years ago.

Fisher: Imagine this, $87,000 for a pair of jeans. I mean, they are expensive jeans out there but I don’t think there’s anything that approaches this.

David: You know, with Halloween right around the corner, obviously the association with witchcraft comes arm-in-arm, but many of us, I know including yourself, have ancestors that were wrongfully accused of witchcraft, and even before Salem, which I’m lecturing about recent. There were witchcraft trials in Connecticut four decades before.

Fisher: Yeah. Actually, I didn’t have an ancestor falsely accused. I had one who actually did the accusing.

David: Oh gosh.

Fisher: And she accused Goodwife Knapp in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1653, and ultimately Goodwife Knapp was hanged.

David: Well, here’s your chance to do some good will. They are looking for 1500 signatures on a project called Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project. And this is something you can find just by doing a Google search. The state of Connecticut is leading this and so historians, genealogists, and others are looking for this Connecticut Witch memorial Collaboration. So, do a little Google and be one of the 1500 signers. I’ll tell you, Halloween with everything going on, have you carved a pumpkin?

Fisher: I haven’t even begun yet. But I’ve always loved carving pumpkins. I think that’s one of the best things of the whole season.

David: Well, my daughter likes painting pumpkins but I showed her something and this is a little scary. This is the early tradition back in Ireland. They didn’t carve pumpkins, they actually carved Turnips. 

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

David: Just open the image I just sent you and take a look at that turnip.

Fisher: Yeah, I did and the moment I opened it and looked at it, it made me jump back. I mean, it’s a horrifying looking thing. I guess you can do more with it then you can often do with a pumpkin.

David: I guess so. But I’ll tell you, it just doesn’t have the friendly Jack-o'-lantern smiley face. It looks like something you would use to ward off evil spirits or something even scarier.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, exactly.

David: So, for our spooky tale, go on kids, try carving a turnip and see what that looks like in a couple of weeks.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Well, that’s all I have from Beantown this week folks. And if you’re not a member of American Ancestor, we’d love you to become a member. And if you choose to do so, use the code EXTREME and save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: Um umm. Got your back! Thank you so much David. Talk to you at the backend of the show as we get on with Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to a lady who’s been working in a cemetery in Des Moines, doing amazing things. You’re going to want to hear these stories, coming up when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 436

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kristine Bartley

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And I’m so excited to have Kristine Bartley back on the show. She’s in Des Moine, Iowa, and for years she’s been working with Woodlands Cemetery out there. And she’s been identifying the stories of many of the people buried there, including many babies who had unmarked graves. And Kristine, it’s great to have you back on the show. Welcome.

Kristine: Oh, thank you. I’m delighted to be here again.

Fisher: Remind us, what got you started on all this?

Kristine: [Laughs] Well, my DAR chapter was trying to raise money to put headstones on 536 unmarked baby graves.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kristine: In the course of doing that, they didn’t want to have an endless fundraising situation so we had an end date. I couldn’t let it go. I ran into the Lieutenant Governor. She pulled up to deliver Meals on Wheels. I was pulling weeds in my yard. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kristine: And I thought, you know what, I don’t care how I look. And I approached her. I said, “I understand Governor Branson has a history fund. And I told her about the baby graves and she said, “Here’s my card. Contact my office and we’ll go from there.” Long story short, the governor asked if I would be interested in doing matching fund thing. And I’m like whoever will I ask for money? About five days later he had his assistant call me back to say he had raised all the money. Bless his heart. So, I got really involved in the cemetery after that. I had a lot of family in the cemetery. My grandmother used to take me there when she was placing reeds on Memorial Day.

Fisher: Oh, wow!

Kristine: And I was just like, “Oh god, another trip to the cemetery.”

Fisher: Yeah, but look at this. You wound up finding actually a baby that one family had been looking for, for a century.

Kristine: Right. Over a 100 years, baby Frank. They sent me pictures of him. He was darling. I would have been looking for him for 100 years too. Holy Smokes! But that happened a lot. Cholera and Typhoid were taking people out at that time while they were travelling west. And so people just buried and they kept going.

Fisher: Sure.

Kristine: There were very few babies that are still with families still in Des Moines.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kristine: It was mostly unknown. So, with that project, I also teach a film class to a bunch of 8th graders and the teacher who was from Florida said, “Oh, where’s interesting history about Des Moines?” And I said Woodlands Cemetery. Anyway, I connected her with a historian and the four times great grandson of one of Des Moines early pioneers. The family is still in Des Moines. Suddenly I’m thinking what about everybody else in here?  

Fisher: Yeah.

Kristine: Anyway, I thought ooh, a documentary. But I’ve worked with documentaries and they have very limited life so I wanted a different format for these stories.

Fisher: Well, and you have really done this. First of all, how many people are buried in Woodlands Cemetery in Des Moines?

Kristine: [Laughs] About 86,000.

Fisher: Ooh!

Kristine: The cemetery was opened two years after Iowa became a state in 1848.

Fisher: Okay.

Kristine: So, there’s War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Civil War, all the wars and just regular people. So, I started writing a grant. A friend of mine was a grant writer so I sent it to her when I was done for her to take a look at it. And she sent me back probably a 6-foot long email of all the changes I needed to do. And I thought there’s no way I’m doing this. But it was lockdown Covid and I thought what the heck, what else am I going to do?

Fisher: Right. Yes, of course.

Kristine: So, I made all the changes, sent it off and got the money. And so I started filming decedents of people in the cemetery.

Fisher: Nice.

Kristine: Historians that I knew, knew about people in the cemetery, a Civil War historian.

Fisher: So, they were basically telling the stories of the people in the graves.

Kristine: Yeah, individuals who were buried in the cemetery. And it became, as I was doing it, it was basically world history, and Des Moines’s relationship to that world history.

Fisher: Nice.

Kristine: I couldn’t believe it. And I’m a sixth generation Des Moines person. And I thought I never heard any of this stuff. But as you start digging into individual stories, suddenly history becomes more gossipy and actually a little more interesting.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, absolutely. And you’ve got actually QR codes working on some of these graves so people can access these videos. How long are the videos generally?

Kristine: The longest one is three minutes and forty six seconds.

Fisher: Okay.

Kristine: And some of them are as short as 20 seconds. There’s 124 of them right now, and I’m now searching for another grant to write because so many other people have reached out to me. And the interesting thing about this project, one of the collateral benefits is, in the early days of the Garden Cemetery Movement, which happened in rural Cambridge, Massachusetts at St. Albans because people were buried in church burial grounds. That sort of was the tradition.

Fisher: Sure.

Kristine: But they were becoming five and six caskets deep, so it was a problem. Anyway, St. Albans opened and it was very fashionable to sort of walk around in the cemetery and bring a picnic and all that kind of thing. Well, what’s happened with these QR codes is that has begun to happen again in Woodland Cemetery. One of the ladies that reached out to me, her name is Ricki King. She has Roots to Branches. She’s a genealogist but she specializes in black genealogy. So, we did 15 stories of freedom seekers, and conductors on the Underground Railroad. 

Fisher: Wow!

Kristine: Yeah, in Woodland. And then she had an intern, and the intern filled out all the paperwork for the national park service. So now, Woodland is part of the national park service Underground Railroad network. So, the installation has been in Woodland for about 17 months now and there’s been almost 40,000 views from within the cemetery.

Fisher: No kidding! That is incredible.

Kristine: Yeah.

Fisher: You’ve just got to be gasping over what your little project has turned into.

Kristine: [Laughs] Totally. I’m very surprised by the whole thing actually. You know when you get sucked into something, you know, I am down the rabbit hole with Woodland Cemetery. And I realized the other day that the cemetery’s going to be 175 years old next year. So, on September 16th next year, Des Moines Island, Woodland Cemetery we will be recreating the early Garden Cemetery Movement fashionable walk to the cemetery. There are a whole group of women that I know who love to get dressed up in period outfits from the late 1800s, who have bonds here to come and walk around in the cemetery. We have historians that are going to be at different spots around the cemetery to talk about the people that are buried like in the GAR section, the Civil War section, and like I said, I went down the rabbit hole.

Fisher: Yeah. Well, this is exciting though. I mean, what a great thing to consume your life with is sharing the stories of other people. And you say there are over 80,000 people buried there, so you have an endless supply of stories to pursue, don’t you?

Kristine: I do. I drive into the cemetery and people are like, “What about me? What about me?” [Laughs]

Fisher: Um hmm. I bet you. Do you feel that sometimes? You feel like when you go to sleep at night they’re shaking you up saying, “Hey, wait a minute. I got to talk to you”? 

Kristine: Well, actually, when I was speaking in Washington this past week and you know, I’m not a public speaker, every time I think it will be a great success if I don’t throw up on the podium anyway.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kristine: I felt like this presence around me of comfort and it was amazing, when I got up and started speaking, it just sort of like flowed. They knew I was talking about them I guess. [Laughs] I don’t know.

Fisher: Um hmm. That’s incredible. Tell me, one or two of the stories that really stick to your mind?

Kristine: Okay. There’s a story about Henry Tolliver. He started his life as a slave. He was sold away from his family when he was nine. He managed to escapes and he fought for the Union Army. And he mustered out on his mustering out card it says he was a slave, had a nice life going on in Des Moines. He got married. He and his wife they had 16 children. 

Fisher: Oh wow!

Kristine: Yeah. His wife was this very kind lady. Anyway, I guess in today’s term ‘homeless person’ knocked at the door, he was hungry. She let him in. And she’s feeding him and they got to talking. Turns out, this man knew Henry Tolliver’s family. So, Henry Tolliver was finally reunited with his brother and his father 50 years later.

Fisher: Wow! What a story.

Kristine: Yeah.

Fisher: So, in the early 1900s.

Kristine: Yep. He had been separated from his father when he was nine when he was sold as a child. I think that the Underground Railroad stories really stand out in my mind. There’s a woman who was born in Vermont, went to Overland College, was teaching in Kentucky and started helping slaves escape. She was the first woman jailed in Kentucky for helping slaves. She ended up moving to Des Moines and is buried in Woodland Cemetery. She’s part of the Underground Railroad stories in Woodlands. You know, there’s a woman who arrived in Des Moines in a covered wagon and became very involved in women suffrage. Before, women had to vote, Des Moines allowed women to vote in local elections having to do with taxes. And there was a vote about the court house, and they didn’t let women vote and she took it all the way to the Supreme Court, and they finally had to revote because yes, in fact, she was right women could vote in that election. She died in 1911 before the women got the right to vote.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kristine: So, I interviewed one of her descendants, and the descendant was able to have a plaque poised at the steps of the Iowa Capital because that’s where she parked herself for years to lobby for women getting the right to vote.

Fisher: Isn’t this great stuff you’re doing. Wow, how satisfying. You must wake up every day going, “I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen now.”

Kristine: [Laughs] I do have days like that.

Fisher: Yes. She’s Kristine Bartley. She’s in Des Moines, Iowa, working with a rather large cemetery there, Woodlands Cemetery. She’s marked the graves of babies, found the stories of historical figures, marked the graves with QR codes, created videos, what a project. They’re going to put up a plaque to you there one day Kristine.

Kristine: [Laughs] I don’t know. It’s like when you retire and there’s nothing to do, you kind of keep a look out.

Fisher: [Laughs] I haven’t had that problem yet.

Kristine: [Laughs]

Fisher: But thanks so much for coming on again. It’s been a great pleasure.

Kristine: Oh, thank you Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, there’s a new beta program released on Ancestry DNA. Crista Cowan’s going to tell us why this is so exciting and important. You’re going to love it, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 436

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan

Fisher: All right, back on the job, talking to my good friend Crista Cowan over at our sponsor Ancestry.com. And Crista, we have a lot to talk about today because, where do we start with this? Back earlier this year you guys with Ancestry DNA released a new feature where it kind of divided where our ethnicity came from, which ethnicity came from one parent, which came from the other. It was kind of up to us to decide which represented which parent and now we’ve gone to a whole new level here because just recently I got a beta test on my DNA test results that showed that we can divide now our DNA matches by parent, and to me that’s kind of a big deal.

Crista: It is a big deal. I’m so excited to be here to talk about this because this is a first of its kind scientific innovation with DNA, and I think it’s going to help people make discoveries not only at a faster rate but also discoveries they didn’t even know were possible just a few weeks ago.

Fisher: Absolutely. I was thinking back on this, in order to know which side your DNA match came from in the past, you typically needed to test at least one parent, right?

Crista: Yeah. So, if you had tested one parent we could say, oh, those matches all match your mom and we could go down to about 20 centimorgans, but then we just kind of assumed the matches that didn’t match her matched your dad, but we weren’t sure.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Crista: Now this just changes the whole thing. So, it’s a technology called “SideView” which is a proprietary technology that the scientists at Ancestry have developed and the reason they were able to do that was because there’s more than 22 million people who have tested in the Ancestry DNA network.

Fisher: Yeah.

Crista: And so we’re able to take all that general mix data and without even having a parent tested we can say, oh, this is one side of your family tree, one side of your pair of chromosomes, and this is the other side. Now, your DNA doesn’t come labeled in your body, mom’s side, dad’s side.

Fisher: Right.

Crista: But we can split it into parent one and parent two. And now, when we apply it to the matches in your match list all the way down to the bottom matches at 8 centimorgans, hopefully you know some of those matching the top of your list and can make an educated determination about which parent is parent one and which parent is parent two. And as soon as you label them your whole match list gets labeled.

Fisher: Yeah. And now you can split it too, click a button and say, show me by parent or you can show me all, as we’ve had in the past. I mean this is really kind of fun stuff. And it also, suggest some family surnames that are kind of common under the father’s side or the mother’s side.

Crista: Yeah. So, in addition to splitting your matches we also now have added a tab to the Ancestry DNA match page called “By Parent” and we’ll show you common surnames, so if you’re not sure hopefully that will help you start to figure it out. We also have now incorporated that ethnicity inheritance that we launched back in the spring. So that will show up there and you can start to see the break-down of ethnicity by parent, the matches by parent. It’s really great to have it all in one place where you can see that really clearly.

Fisher: So, if somebody was going to try to determine, okay, I’m trying to figure out an ancestral parent to my second or third great grandfather or grandmother. This would be a way to at least narrow down maybe more than half of your matches, right?

Crista: Absolutely. The average user at Ancestry I think is now up to about 60 thousand matches per person.

Fisher: Wow!

Crista: A lot of data to sort through and especially if you’re new to DNA or new to family history it can seem a little bit overwhelming. So this does exactly that, it cuts that list in half. So now you’re working with half that amount of matches to start to narrow in on some of those family history mysteries that may have eluded you till now.

Fisher: All right, this is a question that I know people are thinking when they hear this, do you see the day where it could be broken down now to grandparents?

Crista: Wow! We give you an edge Scott and you just wondered off.

Fisher: [Laughs] I’ll try not to be selfish and greedy, but is that something that’s scientifically or least theoretically possible?

Crista: Theoretically, it is absolutely possible yes. And it’s so exciting as a genealogist for me to look at that and try not to put pressure on the Ancestry DNA science team to move faster. But yeah, theoretically it is possible. And one of the questions that we’ve been getting is, well, I’ve already tested my parents, so how is it of value to me? And it seems pretty obvious to some people, but to others you have to stop and think, you know, I’ve tested both of my parents so I didn’t need my match list split but I was only able to test one of my grandparents. So, now I have my dad’s full match list split even though he only had his mother tested. And my mom’s parents weren’t tested at all so now I have her whole match list split as well. You start to think about that and you compare that to your cousins and siblings. It’s not just the power of your test and your match list. It’s also compounded power of the family members that you’ve tested that gives immediate benefit now even without going to that next hopeful step.

Fisher: Boy, I think of those listeners who’ve actually tested their grandparents and maybe the grandparents have passed and now potentially you can split their parents and you’re going back to the great grandparent lines.

Crista: Yeah, my grandmother tested before she passed and looking at her match list is so exciting to me to be able to just look at that and have her matches split paternal side, maternal side, and now yeah, I’m looking at great grandparents level DNA.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! Now, it is beta, and that means there are going to be some issues and I really respect the fact that companies these days are rolling things out before they’re perfect because the reality is, nothing is ever perfect. Get it out there, find out what’s wrong with it, and get the feedback. And I know that not everybody has this feature available on their Ancestry DNA results quite yet.

Crista: That’s correct. So, the first thing you’ll see is that beta tag if you have it on that “by parents tab” and we want feedback. So, if there’s something that just absolutely doesn’t make sense, contact Ancestry. You can contact us through the chat, on our help centre. You can contact us on our Facebook page, and we’ll walk you through it to it to see if there’s just something that’s been labeled incorrectly on your side, which is probably the number one error that we’re seeing right now. People have labeled their ethnicities when we split out that ethnicity inheritance last spring. And turns out some people mislabeled them. They thought it was one thing, but now that the matches are coming in, they just need to switch those labels. It’s a pretty simple fix. You can figure it out yourself and we’ll help you with that. So, we have not yet rolled it out to very Ancestry DNA customer. We will be rolling it out over the next several months. And we are asking you just to send in feedback as they work with that DNA match list in the meantime.

Fisher: Any stories that have come in as a result of this new technology? I mean it’s only been out a couple of weeks.

Crista: You know, I think you and I talked about this before, every Sunday night my dad and I get together over the phone and we work on our Ancestry DNA matches. His math brain really loves working with the centimorgans and trying to figure out the probabilities of the different relationships. We pulled up this new feature as soon as it was available and we had a match that we thought was on his mom’s side this whole time, and we have found the common ancestor even, but it was labeled paternal. And we were a little confused by that at first until we thought well, maybe that’s a clue to something. And we dragged into it and it turns out this person is also related to my grandfather’s side of the family. My grandfather and grandmother, their families never lived anywhere near one another, so the fact that we found this second relationship, it would have never even occurred to us to look for it had that match not been labeled as a paternal match.

Fisher: Interesting. And we should mention here too, that there is a category for when a match shares both the father’s side and the mother’s side, and another category that says, we can’t figure it out quite yet.

Crista: Yeah, those unassigned matches people are going to want to keep an eye on that, there’s two reasons a match might be unassigned. One is, it takes a lot of processing to run this entire database of matches so we actually did it last April and the science team has been working on it this whole time to get it to a point where we could really sit. So, any new matches that you received since April are going to be listed as unassigned until we re-reprocess all of that data again, which we expect to do in the coming months.

Fisher: Amazing stuff. Thanks so much Crista. We’ll talk to you again soon!

Crista: Thank you!

Fisher: All right. And David Allen Lambert is coming up next as we answer your questions on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 436

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. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert is back over there in Boston from NEHGS, the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, our first question in Ask Us Anything today is from Lydia in Henderson, Nevada and she says, "Hi. I'm new to genealogy. I recently overheard some researchers in an archive talk about finding ancestors in a mug book. They can't possibly be talking about pictures of their criminal ancestors, can they? Lydia."

David: Oh, it is entirely possible that you have ancestors in mug books, hey. Sure know that I probably have a couple.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But it is a slang dialect term the genealogists and sometimes historians use referring to county histories that usually have photos or biographical sketches of the leading people of the community, hence their mug would be in the book.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yep.

David: They were really a vanity press, Fish. I mean, people that, you know were factory owners or bank presidents or doctors, whatnot, someone would come around to the county and say, "We're writing a history and, you know, do you want to buy a copy of the book?" "Oh yes!" "Well, if you're going to buy X amount of copies, we'll put your story in there." And so, the late 19th, early 20th centuries, these pretty much dotted in every county in America.

Fisher: Totally.

David: Usually one or two. But they're good, because they often have a town history in them as well.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Where there may not be a published town history, so I always have that as a go to, especially when I'm looking for some place in the mid west that we don't have a book for perhaps. The other thing is, it might supply a photo and it may have genealogical background. Not that they are always the most thorough and detail oriented, but it might say that John Lambert arrived in this town in 1887 and he's ran the bank ever since. He descends from Lamberts that came over from England in 1640 that settled in Rowe, Massachusetts, and his grandfather came across the appellation.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: You're going to get all sorts of stories, but again, the clues, but a lot closer to the origin of the truth of the story that you might have in your generation.

Fisher: Absolutely.

David: So, I find them valuable. Have you found ancestors in the book pictures?

Fisher: Oh, totally and great stories and some things that actually linked some of our sides mostly on my wife's side, because she was from mid west and these seemed to be really prolific there as opposed to the major cities. The major cities were just too big.

David: Yeah.

Fisher: But in the smaller towns, boy if you weren't in that, you weren't anybody. And so, it was sometimes fun to see these tales. I remember, one of my wife's ancestor's brothers had actually taken this barge. He hauled the body of William Henry Harrison back to the burial place through a section of Pennsylvania. Now there's a story we never would have found before, because they wouldn't put the name of the guy who did that in a newspaper story.

David: Um hmm, yeah. Well, in genealogy, there are a lot of slang or acronyms for instance, so, I mean, GEDCOM. Most people know what a GEDCOM is or maybe you don’t. It’s a file from Family Search that was basically created so genealogy programs across the board could talk to each other, so you could exchange data, and it stands for Genealogical Data Communication. It came back in like 1999 it was first used.

Fisher: It’s been around for a while.

David: It has. How about the R’s Bible records?

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: I'm going to search some DMDs.

Fisher: Yep, birth, marriage and death and that's over in England.

David: Um hmm. Years ago, if you were using Microfiche before Family Search was online, you may have looked at the IGI, the International Genealogical Index.

Fisher: [Laughs] And there was the TIB also, also, the Temple Index Bureau used by the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

David: Yeah and AF, Ancestral File. There's all sorts of acronyms or abbreviations and slang terms us genealogists have been doing it for a while have. So, don't worry, Lydia. There won't be a test. Most of us are more than happy to share these little snippets of our know knowledge all the time.

Fisher: Absolutely. All right, great question, good answer. Thank you so much David. And we've got another question coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 436

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, our final go round this week on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, David over there. And David, this question comes from Richard in Jacksonville, Florida. He says, "Genie geniuses." I've never been called that before. I like that. "Genie geniuses, I am a descendant of President James Garfield who's absurd doctors did him more damage than his would be assassin." That's very true. "I have heard of an organization of presidential descendants. Do you know where I might join it?" That is a great question. And David, there is an organization that's actually been featured I think on CBS Sunday morning or was it on 60 minutes? Do you remember seeing that? It wasn't that long ago.

David: No, no, it wasn't actually very long ago at all. In fact, that organization, I have a friend who is a member of it, his name is Tweed Roosevelt. He's the great grandson of Teddy Roosevelt.

Fisher: Ah! Okay, found the website for it. It’s called, the SocietyofPresidentialDescendants.org. And yes, there's Tweed Roosevelt and he looks like his great grandfather. [Laughs] Quite a bit!

David: Oh, he does indeed.

Fisher: Yeah. Put a moustache on him, and have him say, "Bully!" and I think we've got him back. In fact, we've got a McKinley descendant, as the vice president, LBJ's daughter I guess is the vice president. And then we've got a grandchild of Harry Truman who looks like his grandfather. It’s kind of fun to look at this. They have ways for you to join as a direct descendant. There's also a place for collateral descendants, friends and financial supporters and there's a student rate as well.

David: Well, I think I have some cousins who were American presidents, like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and people like that, but I mean not so close that I can say they're in my family tree as far as immediate family. Gerald Ford comes closest for me. How about you?

Fisher: I've got like 10 of them that I'm related to. I think my wife's may be around 12, but none were particularly close. They're all pretty distant, you know, 7th, 8th, 10th cousins. But the society says it’s providing an opportunity for descendants of US presidents to share a comradery amongst each other and to promote educational opportunities and award book prizes periodically, recognizing books published about the presidency. And I remember watching this show about this group and it’s really kind of fun, because they have their name badges and they have references to who they descend from and they kind of gather together. And it has no recognition of party one way or the other. Nobody much cares about that, because they have this unique tie, one to another because of the fact that they have this person in their background. And you know, think about it, Dave, when we talk about 245 years or so since the beginning of the country, we're only talking about, what, six generations, seven?

David: That's very true. I mean, there can't be many grandchildren of 19th century presidents, but one that I can think of Harrison Ruffin Tyler who's 91. His grandfather, born in 1790 was our 10th US president, John Tyler.

Fisher: Yeah, isn't that crazy! And he had a brother who only recently passed away. That's a long story within itself, but yeah, this is an interesting group and I would certainly suggest, Richard that if you have an interest in joining it, you go to SocietyofPresidentialDescendants.org and see how you might fit in with these folks. I'm just wondering how much Richard actually looks like James Garfield, David.

David: Yeah, amazing how those family traits can pass down.

Fisher: So, thanks for the question, Richard. And David, as always, thanks for joining us. Have a good week and we'll talk to you next week.

David: You too, my friend.

Fisher: All right, and that's our show for this week. Thanks so much to our guests, Kristine Bartley for coming on and talking about her exploits in gathering stories in a demoing cemetery. The whole thing has gone crazy! And to Crista Cowan from over at Ancestry.com, talking about their new beta test, separating paternal and maternal DNA matches at Ancestry DNA. Its great stuff! You're going to want to hear what she has to say. If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast on AppleMedia, iTunes, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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