Episode 451 - Your DNA Guide: Diahan Southard Talking Process and RootsTech

podcast episode Feb 27, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. DNA occupies much of the show, so David begins with another DNA discovery that is rocking the worlds of two families… and it’s not the usual fare. Then, in 1872, a virus, that didn’t affect humans, shut down many of the major US cities. Catch what happened. The historic Old North Church which signaled Paul Revere on his famous ride is having an inspection of a most unusual type. Hear what it is. Did you ever think a flush toilet could be 2,400 years old? Apparently so! The guys have the details. And finally, there’s a party house in Rome that has been determined to have gone back almost as far as the toilet! David will fill you in.

Next, over two segments, Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard, joins Fisher to talk about DNA research “process.” What are the steps that can ultimately lead you to success? Diahan will take you through them. Then, Diahan talks about courses she’ll be teaching at RootsTech, and her thoughts on the upcoming Salt Lake City megaconference.

David then returns for Ask Us Anything, answering your questions.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 451

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. Well, this is it! Our last show before we get to RootsTech. We’re going to play a great classic next week, as we’re a part of RootsTech. Then, give you a full report of what went on in Salt Lake City for the first live conference in three years. It’s going to be so much fun. And let’s bring in David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Dave, I’m looking forward to seeing you. I haven’t seen you in a long time. [Laughs]

David: I think it’s been three years actually.

Fisher: Yeah, in-person.

David: Yeah. Well, exactly. I mean, we talk to each other every week, but seeing is a totally different thing.

Fisher: Sure.

David: I’m looking forward to getting on a plane in a couple of days and heading out there.

Fisher: Absolutely.

David: And seeing all of our listeners as well.

Fisher: Yes!

David: So come by and see us.

Fisher: And old friends too from all over the place. Speaking of which, Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide is our guest on the show this week. We’re going to talk about the process of using DNA matches to help you with so many goals. And we’re going to be talking about what she’s going to be doing at RootsTech, and what she expects to get out of it this year. It’s going to be so much fun. So, if you’re in the Intermountain West, you’re somewhere within a quick plane flight, make plans to come out and join us March 2nd through 4th in Salt Lake City, a presentation of course of FamilySearch International. So David, let’s get going with our Family Histoire News today. Where do you want to start?

David: Well, since we mentioned our good friend Diahan, let’s talk about DNA.

Fisher: Yep.

David: How about another switched at birth story?

Fisher: Ooh you know, we don’t get too many of those really. I mean, we’ve had them in the past, but the reality is you could probably count on one hand how many switched at birth stories have been revealed by DNA.

David: Yeah, or that we’ve just mentioned in the past few years. You know, in this case 60 years ago, there were two babies, one of them with Métis and French Canadian heritage and another baby that had Polish and Ukrainian heritage, and Jewish heritage, swapped.

Fisher: Ugh!

David: Now, there’s that whole issue of you know, you have this family that you’ve been bonded to your whole life that really aren’t yours. And the parents obviously didn’t know either. It was a 23andMe test that Edward Amber’s sister took when she found out that her brother really wasn’t her brother, but she did have one in British Columbia.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, now they have a completely different grasp on their heritage.

Fisher: Well, I would imagine this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

David: Oh, yeah.

Fisher: Even though it was 60 years ago.

David: Well, I mean think about it, if hospital births have been around since what do you think, the middle of the 19th century in some bigger cities?

Fisher: Yeah, sure.

David: So, this could have happened to our ancestors. So, when you’re scratching your head sometime and you’re not finding that cousin’s match.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Think about it that could have happened in 1895 just as easy as it could have happened in 1960.

Fisher: Yeah, but it’s rare. It’s just stupid rare.

David: Oh, yeah. Well, thank goodness for that. Well, here’s something. Now, in Boston we had a great fire back in 1872 and one of the problems I had known historically was that the horses were too sick to pull the wagons. Well, this Washington Post story that we both found at the same time this week, shares why. There was basically disease that had gone through American horses coming down from Canada and within weeks there were hundreds of sick horses.

Fisher: Yeah. And so basically, it shut down the transportation. You know you talk about horse power, that’s what it was literally at the time. And when the horses couldn’t perform then nobody could really get anywhere except on foot.

David: Yeah. And so it is referred to as a mysterious Canadian horse disease. So, I will blame that on my Canadian ancestors, right?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: In Beantown we have the Old North Church. You probably have heard of the Paul Revere story connecting with the lights and the tower?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, we now are doing a little different research. It’s looking into the basement, specifically the crypts. 37 tombs that are down in the basement of Old North between 1732 and 1860 when they stopped using have been pretty much sealed up. Well, it’s a nearly 300 year old building now and they want to check how well they’re holding up. Not so much the burials but the walls. So, they have opened all of them and they are going to do an investigation to see how the masonry in the ceiling is holding up.

Fisher: Wow! So are they actually exposing the bodies?

David: Well, I think they’re still in caskets for what’s left of many of them. I would imagine there’s not going to be any forensic archeology because they say they want to be respectful to the burials in the tombs.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: But I’m sure there are cousins of my ancestors buried down there.

Fisher: Are there any well know people among the people?

David: Yeah, there’s governors that are buried in there, soldiers of the Revolution, and of course ministers. I forget exactly who the most famous person buried at Old North. But I can tell you what will tell you, Billion Graves or Find A Grave, because even tomb burials are listed down there.

Fisher: Sure, yeah.

David: Well, you know, going in a different direction than the respectful thought of a tomb burial, how about a 2400 year old unearthed flush toilet in China?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Yes, I’m not pulling your chain on this.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This is a true story. China Daily reports that a flush toilet reported to be approximately 2400 years old has been found in the ancient city of Yueyang in Northwestern China. They found all the pieces of this toilet, including the exit pipe, and now they’ve pieced it together and I see the picture online. It’s truly a toilet.

Fisher: Wow, that’s amazing! [Laughs]

David: Well, you know, I always like leave on a happy note and I always find that talking to you is like a good party. Well, our ancestors may have partied in this little place in Italy a couple of thousand years ago. Archeological excavations in Posillipo, Italy unearthed an old Roman bath. They actually used to store ammunition in World War II down there. Well, further work proves it was a party hall for the Roman elites.

Fisher: Right. That’s crazy! There’s a toga, toga! [Laughs]

David: Exactly. And this is, we have a toga party.

Fisher: Sure.

David: I don’t think they found any togas yet, but they say that this place has white and black mosaic carpet and it overlooked a 2000 seat Greek style theatre known as an Odeon.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Well, I’m off to RootsTech very shortly, so I’ll see you soon, my friend. Before that, we’ll do Ask Us Anything with the questions that we get. And if you come up in RootsTech, ask us a question, we may include it the next time we’re on.

Fisher: You’re right. All right, David. Thanks so much. We’ll catch you at the back end of the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, it’s your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard talking about RootsTech and processes for using your DNA to make discoveries in your family tree, coming up next in three minutes when we return on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 541

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diahan Southard

Fisher: All right, we’re back on the job at Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Very pleased and excited to have my good friend Diahan Southard, your DNA Guide back on the show as we all get ready for RootsTech coming up. First live one in three years Diahan. And I can’t wait to see everybody and I can’t wait to see you! 

Diahan: Thank you. I cannot wait to see everyone and get all the actual hugs.

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: I’m a hugger.

Fisher: Yes, me too. This is going to be a great show yeah and I think it’s just going to be like a grand reunion overall. So, tell me what’s been on your mind about DNA lately because you know, we’re reaching the point where I think people are more comfortable with the idea that all this information is sitting out there. The world has not come to an end. And people are starting to learn more and more commonly how to use DNA matches for all kinds of things, from the simple stuff like finding cousins you didn’t know, and seeing what they got, like old photos and documents, to the more complicated things like breaking through ancestral lines and for proving your paper trails. But a lot of times you know, we get complicated, deep in the weeds, work on these things or hours, don’t get anywhere, and kind of put the whole thing down.                                                                           

Diahan: [Laughs] That is so true. What a great explanation Scott. Yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot too about the value of repetition in our research.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Diahan: And I think like you said, we like the new and shiny things, right? We want to move on to the next thing. We get bored or tired or frustrated and we just kind of skip town on that ancestor and we move to somebody else to some other branch to relieve ourselves from the boredom or the frustration. I just think that we need to get a lot more comfortable with the idea that nothing is going to come and swoop in and solve all of our problems, including DNA. 

Fisher: Yep.

Diahan: And it’s going to be just so much more effective if we have a process that we’re following, a repetition. And I think it’s especially important with DNA because if you have a new match, a new DNA match in your match list, but you have no way to either A) find that you have a new match, like even recognize that there’s someone new there, or B) if you don’t know how to immediately start to categories that match. You don’t know if that person is valuable to your research or not.               

Fisher: Right. Absolutely. Basic education, right?

Diahan: Basic education, and to repeat those kinds of steps can help you solidify this process. I feel like so many people get to a certain point and then they’re like, “We’ll I’m stuck.” They kind of throw up their hands and they’re like waiting for that alien invasion to drop in the record they need or whatever and we just throw up our hands. I hear myself saying this more often now, you’re never stuck. There’s always a next step. 

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: And if you know a process, you always know what that next step is.

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: And it may be hard and it might take time, but you’ll know what the next step is so you shouldn’t really ever feel stuck-stuck. You should feel like okay, I went this far down this road, and I came to a point where that stopped working. So now what?

Fisher: Um hmm.

Diahan: But if you have that process in place that “now what” you know the answer. Okay, so I need to either A) go back and start again. I need to turn left. I need to turn right. And so I think in DNA terms it has a lot to do with the process. I call it the plan, your DNA Guide plan to do genetic genealogy. We teach it really intensely in our DNA skills workshop, but I teach it in pieces all the time.

Fisher: Sure.

Diahan: Like every time I’m lecturing I’m teaching this same exact plan. You have to start with a best known match, someone you already know your relationship to.

Fisher: Yep.

Diahan: Then you have to create a network, a group of people that shares that same connection. And then sometimes you have to, what I call split your network. You’ve got too many people now. You have to hone it down to just a smaller group. Then you need to start investigating each of those matches. And there’s a process to investigate each match. I call it “finding your generation of connection” like okay, I’ve got a match. How far back in their family tree do I need to go in order to find our common ancestor? 

Fisher: Are you big in reverse genealogy, Diahan? You must be because it’s a lot easier just to know who you have so that when they show up its like oh, there’s a fit. I know where that person goes in. 

Diahan: Yeah.

Fisher: Sometimes it’s easier to do it that way than wait for the match to come in and then have to investigate them, you know?

Diahan: So this is such a stuck spot, right Scott? People are like well, I’m stuck. I emailed this match and they won’t email me back. And they throw up their hands and they’re like, “I’m stuck” right?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: When really, you’re giving all the power to someone else. You don’t want someone else to have control over whether you can make progress on your research or not.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah. 

Diahan: You want to take that control.

Fisher: That’s right.

Diahan: So reverse genealogy or doing descendancy research I call it, it’s like the very best thing you can do, right? You always can work on your own genealogy. People are always just so focused about going back that they feel again, well, I’m stuck on this and I can’t go back. Well fine, don’t go back. Come forward! 

Fisher: Come forward.

Diahan: I want to know every single descendant.

Fisher: [Laughs] It’s funny you mention this because a few years ago I had a DNA match show up and it was a second cousin, that of course, in our world that’s really close.

Diahan: Super close.

Fisher: And it’s like, who is this person? I’ve done all my descendancy research on all my immigrant ancestors in particular. It’s like I know who all my second cousins are. I don’t know them necessarily personally but I have the database. So, I clicked on common ancestors over in Ancestry, and it told me immediately based on who our shared matches were, that this person was a descendant of my great grandparents, my dad’s mother’s parents. So, I reached out to him and said, “Hey, I see you’re a descendant of Acastos and Victoria Waldreaon, where do you fit in? I thought I knew everybody.” And he wrote back and said, “I can’t tell you. I was adopted. Can you help me?” I thought well, it’s your lucky day. [Laughs]   

Diahan: Right.

Fisher: And we had it solved within an hour and he had wondered for most of his life for over 50 years where he fit in. We had pictures of his father that we found online in less than an hour, and at least knew who his grandparents were though we still had to sort through the children. But the point is, having had that descendancy list and database available, made things so much easier to solve that problem. It wasn’t my problem it was his that I wanted to help. And that’s a nice thing to be able to do too is to give back.

Diahan: Right. So, let me highlight according to Your DNA Guideline the plan, the steps that you just took.

Fisher: Okay.

Diahan: So, you found a mystery match right, somebody on your match list that you didn’t know your relationship to.

Fisher: Right.

Diahan: So the first step in the plan is to use known matches.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: You clicked on shared matches or common matches and you were like oh, I see right away who this person is. At least which branch they’re on because of the known matches because of the network they were already assigned to.

Fisher: Correct.

Diahan: You had also done Finding Your Generation of Connection because you had already said this person is a second cousin, right? 

Fisher: Yep.

Diahan: You looked at the total amount of DNA shared, like you did all the things. You’re like okay.

Fisher: And he was about my age.

Diahan: And he was about your age so you didn’t have to worry about removes and all that kind of thing.

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: So you had all this information already because you had already taken these very defined steps that you do automatically.

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: But sometimes it helps to have them like delineated for you so it’s like, where am I? Okay, we’ll now you’ve done that. You found your generation of connection, you know which branch she’s on, and then like you said, there’s still work to do, right? You don’t know exactly how he fits in unless further people test. But you’re not stuck, right?

Fisher: No.

Diahan: You could target test. You could do genealogy to find out who was in the right place at the right time. But you know what those next steps are if he wanted to pursue and know more than you already know.

Fisher: Oh, and he did.

Diahan: Yeah. It all fits into the plan.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. And it’s good that you break it down that way because I think those of us who are into this a lot, it does become automatic when we try to show other people what we do and they are like “Wait, what did you do?” And you’re right it has to be broken down step-by-step-by-step the way that you’re doing it. And then you just have to do it all the time.

Diahan: Yes.

Fisher: So it becomes automatic like that.

Diahan: Exactly! Yes. My goal really is to help people from this place of “I’m stuck” to this place of “Okay, I know what I need to do. It’s going to take time, it’s going to take work, but that’s different than feeling stuck.

Fisher: Sure, absolutely. You don’t ever want to surrender to it because there is always going to be some things that you can do as you wait for maybe another key match to come along.

Diahan: Exactly.

Fisher: I mean, I’m right now trying to figure out who some third greats are on my dad’s mother’s side. And I haven’t gotten anywhere on that in a long, long time. But I just had another interesting match come up to a woman I share DNA with in Australia. And this particular new match that shared this woman with me comes from my great grandfather’s sister, which eliminated my great grandmother’s side as being where this came from. It has to come from this other branch. So, you know, when those things come along it kind of reenergizes you and it’s like okay, now what can I do? Where can I take this? I’ve started making lists of these networks to see how these things can tie together and what more I can do.

Diahan: Okay. So, after you identify that generation of connection with that DNA match and you kind of know about how far back you need to go to find their common ancestor, the next thing you need to do is to build their tree.

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: We love to do genealogy and I think we kind of shy away from doing other people’s genealogy. But really, so much of our DNA research is doing other people’s genealogy. You have to push their research back to your generation of connection. It’s a lot of genealogy right. So, I think another piece of this also, like you were saying, you can’t just sit around and wait for that really beautiful match to just suddenly show up. You need to go out and try to find them. And part of that is testing at multiple companies. And I know so many of us have tested at lots of companies so you kind of got a favorite. We have the system that we understand and we use, and we don’t really go into the other databases very much because we just don’t have that same level of familiarity.

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: But I just want everybody to think to themselves, what if that match that I need hasn’t tested at the company that I’m researching in.

Fisher: That happens frequently.

Diahan: Yes! It does because we just think well, everybody’s everywhere. Well, they’re not. That’s the reality of it. Especially people who are only casually interested in this, they are one company because they don’t know about transferring, and they’re not interested enough to pay to test at multiple companies. So, it really is important to apply this same this same process, the known matches to create a network, to split a network, to find your best mystery matches, to find your generation. This whole process can be applied at any testing company. And you really have to because there could be again that one person that you need.

Fisher: To put the whole puzzle together. You just never know. And it’s such an exciting thing when you do it because I really think of it, with DNA especially on difficult cases it’s like a 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle, right?

Diahan: Yeah.

Fisher: And you’re just trying to figure out how that last piece goes in there. But it takes a little bit of effort and some education, and that’s where you come in. Now listen, we’ve got to take a break here because we’ve got to talk about RootsTech coming up. You’ve got a lot of classes going on there this year, and we want to talk about your TV show too because you did a great job. That was so much fun.

Diahan: Yeah.

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

Segment 3 Episode 451

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diahan Southard

Fisher: All right, back with Diahan Southard on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. She is your DNA guide. She’s also the host of the PBS show, “Your DNA Secrets Revealed.” And Diahan, that was just such a pleasant surprise to see that you landed that role on that show. It was a one-time thing but it’s still showing and it’s going to be something you’re going to be showing at RootsTech. I’m looking forward to it.

Diahan: Yes, I’m really excited. We were able to work with the producers to get kind of exclusive rights to show the show. Can I say that?

Fisher: Yeah, you did!

Diahan: To show the show at RootsTech

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: So, you can grab your lunch and join us and we’ll show the whole special feature and hope that a lot of our international friends will be at RootsTech because we weren’t able to show it, it was a PBS show so we didn’t show it internationally. A lot of our international audiences were disappointed that they didn’t get to see it. So yeah, you can watch it at RootsTech.

Fisher: Well, that’s very fun and of course on PBS it’s special times and elsewhere. But, let’s talk about some of the classes that you’ve got coming up.

Diahan: So, I tried to choose classes that kind of ran the gamut of what everybody might need to learn. So, I’m teaching everything from a basic kind of beginner class about how to get started, but I like to think that everybody can learn something from these basic classes.

Fisher: Sure.

Diahan: We were talking earlier about repetition, right?

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: And how important that is in so many areas of our lives. And a lot of what I’m trying to teach in this initial class is how to help other people understand why we’re doing DNA testing because most everybody coming to RootsTech has probably tested themselves, but they need to test their relatives.

Fisher: Right.

Diahan: You need to convince your cousins and your uncles, and people in your life to take a test. I think coming to this class will help you explain it in a way that people can understand, explain the power of it in a way that will motivate them, so that’s one of my goals with that initial lecture.

Fisher: Well, it is amazing how many times I’ve found matches with my brother, my half sister, my first cousin, second cousins who have shared their DNA results with me so I can look through them, finding matches that don’t match me.

Diahan: Right.

Fisher: and sometimes that’s a huge break in trying to connect people and figure out how these lines work, or trying to prove a paper trail, or even breakthrough.

Diahan: Exactly. Yes and my classes will be live streamed as well, all of them.

Fisher: Sweet!

Diahan: So, there’s already a couple that are only live streamed on endogamy and on administering your Y-DNA project. So, those two are exclusively online, and then I’ll do three that are in-person and streamed. So the beginning one and then I’m doing one on shared matches. The only DNA tool you’ll ever need, which I’m hoping feels like a bold statement to everyone.

Fisher: Right, right. It’s true.

Diahan: Yes. So, that will be a fun class and that will be methodology heavy as far as figuring out exactly again the plan we were talking about earlier and how to implement that plan in your research and how to follow it so that you can have the success that you need. And that’s actually the last slot on Saturday. That’s like even after exhibit hall closes, the last class of the day, of the conference actually. So, hopefully people will not be too tired or overwhelmed and will hang around and watch that last class.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!

Diahan: But, the one I’m looking most forward to is on Friday, I’ll be teaching essentially part two of my family story. My mom was adopted, so this is part two of her story. I told part one several years ago at RootsTech where we identified her biological mother’s family. And now I’m going to continue that story and tell how we have discovered her biological father’s story.

Fisher: Wow! You know that’s so thrilling.

Diahan: Yes!

Fisher: And that’s an interesting thing. I had a similar thing with a friend whose father was adopted. The father is long since gone, but she’s wondered for 50 years, who are my grandparents? And those breakthroughs sometimes take a long time to get the matches. And like you say, you’ve got to sometimes follow the steps of asking people if they’d be willing to test to help you solve your problem. But boy, those breakthroughs not only impact the person who was adopted but their children and grandchildren who all want to know those things. That had to be a thrilling moment for you when you were able to identify both of these people.

Diahan: Well, it is definitely. And what I like about this part two is the title of the lecture, “My Messy Complicated Birth Root Story.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: This story is not all roses. I feel like finding our grandmother was and has been and continues to be, these people that we’ve met, my mom’s half brothers especially have been an incredible source of love and support for her. And it has been so touching to be involved in their family. It’s just been a wonderful experience and this is not the case with the other. It’s just way more complicated for a lot of reasons that we’ll learn in the lecture. I don’t want to spoil my own surprise.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: But it’s not, and I love that in our own story there are these two sides which people experience all the time.

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: It is not all fun and games when we make these discoveries.

Fisher: No. Sure, people wonder, how did I get here? I think everybody has the right to know their origins. And it’s great to see now that so many states are making original information available to adoptees to help them through those circumstances. But like you say, a lot of times we get back there and find it, it’s kind of ugly.

Diahan: Yeah.

Fisher: And it doesn’t always work that way. I do find that most of the time when people meet birth family folks who are really surprised to learn about them. It’s generally a very positive thing. Sometimes it’s not though, once in a while, but not as often as some people would have you believe.

Diahan: Right, right.

Fisher: So, with RootsTech this is the first time in three years we’ve been together as we mentioned Diahan. And what are you looking forward to seeing yourself, other than the things that you’re providing?

Diahan: [Laughs] Well, so, Sunny Morton my content developer, she’s amazing and an integral part of Your DNA Guide. She’s a very talented speaker and lecture in her own right and actually, I’m number looking forward to going and watching her lecture. I love her so much.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yep.

Diahan: I also really enjoy the creative process of figuring out the booth.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: So, we’ll have a booth there in the exhibit hall. How can we make it fun? So, our booth has this really fun interactive component where we’re trying to help people see and measure how impactful DNA has been in their family history.

Fisher: Interesting. That’s really fun.

Diahan: So, you have to come by the booth. We are booth 200.

Fisher: Well, that’s easy.

Diahan: So, if you enter into the hall, were like right to the left on the in cap. So you should be able to see us right from the door.

Fisher: Wow! That’s awesome. Well, you know this is the thing in the expo hall there are so many things there. And for people who follow Extreme Genes you know we have the top experts in the field on all the time. This is your chance to meet them live and in-person.

Diahan: Yes!

Fisher: So, if you’re in the Intermountain area, or are passionate enough to say, I’m going to fly in for this thing. Here’s your chance to meet Diahan. Here’s your chance to meet Sunny Morton. Here’s your chance to run into me! I’d love to talk to so many of you who follow the show throughout the years. And there are so many others too that you’ll have a chance hear from. It’s inspiring. It’s uplifting. It’s exciting. And once you’ve been to one of these things I think you’ll want to be there pretty much every year and especially when you find out some of new products that are out there and new developments that are happening in our field that can help us on our journey.

Diahan: Yeah. And I think one of the most powerful things about being in-person that we just can’t duplicate online, like I said, my lectures are live streams.

Fisher: Yep.

Diahan: You want to learn what I’m going to say, you can watch me from the comfort of your own couch. What you will miss is A) the incredible electricity in the room.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Diahan: You can feel a little bit of it out through your computer screen, but it will be so powerful to be in the room. And number two) don’t underestimate the power of these encounters and conversations that you have with other attendees.

Fisher: Yes.

Diahan: I have heard of so many people who are sitting at lunch or who are standing in line, or the person you’re sitting next to before the lecture starts and they look over and they see you writing furiously some notes from your last class. And they’re like, wait, I actually have ancestors from that same area, let me tell you what I did.

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: And from a random stranger you’re going to get that tip that you need. That’s how these conferences work. It’s the synergy of being in-person together that lets you find things you just wouldn’t have found any other way.

Fisher: Yes! Well Diahan, this has been a joy as always to have you on the show. Sure appreciate you taking the time because I can tell right now you’re just relaxed. You’re not doing anything.

Diahan:  [Laughs] Yeah!

Fisher: [Laughs] This woman makes time for me and I appreciate that and for all of us to listen to what she has to say. Great wisdom. She’s one of the great teachers in our field and I really recommend that you catch her lectures if you can. RootsTech coming up next week it’s going to be great fun. Diahan thanks so much and have a great time!

Diahan: Thanks Scott, see you soon!

Fisher: All right and David Allen Lambert is coming up next as we do another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 451

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: Hey, welcome back genies! It is time once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. He's the Chief Genealogist, by the way. David, this question comes from Willow in Baltimore. And she says, “Hello, boys. Recently, I found an ad of some organization in a newspaper from 1857. Similar to the Mason ads you sometimes see. It was signed by my second great grandfather as grand Sachem. But the organization was given in letters the OUA. How can I learn more about this OUA?” Good question. Are you familiar with that?

David: Well, you know, when you mentioned grand sachem, I thought of the International Order of Red Man, because that’s what their head office is. So, OUA, I may have seen it. Refresh my memory, what have you found in your research?

Fisher: I have run across this in the 1850s. It was the Organization of United Americans.

David: Ahh!

Fisher: And it was the underlying organization that led to the creation of what was called the American Party. And the American Party was also known as the Know Nothing Party.

David: Now that I've heard of.

Fisher: [Laughs] And it doesn't mean that they didn't know anything, it meant that that was what they were supposed to tell people when folks asked what they were about. And they say, “Well, I really, I don't know anything, I know nothing.”

David: Of course were pleading the fifth.

Fisher: Yeah, pretty much that. And the whole idea behind it, this was what they called a nativist organization. And there were all kinds of other groups for women as well, like the Daughters of America United, I think it was the DAU. I could be off on that a little bit. But the point was, is they would hold all kinds of patriotic events back at that time. And it came about as a result of the flood of immigrants that were coming into America, particularly after the potato famine in the late 1840s and into the 1850s. And this nativist group was basically anti Irish and anti Catholic, because they were afraid that the Irish who really only spoke Gaelic, many of them, were going to follow the pope and his directions, as opposed to the Constitution of the United States. So they wanted to try to limit immigration. And they also in some cases, wanted to try to limit how quickly these people could become citizens and vote to 21 years! Yeah, they had to wait 21 years according to one proposal, which never took place of course. The other thing that was interesting about the Know Nothings in all this is when they were building the Washington Monument, the Pope had sent a piece of stone from some historic site, you know, wishing well for the Washington Monument and paying tribute to this great effort to salute our first president and the general of the revolution. And some of these Know Nothing guys came over and trapped the guard around this site with a bunch of rocks and then went in and took this thing and it disappeared. And it has never been seen since.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: So, yes!

David: Wow!

Fisher: And they took control then of the building of the Washington Monument for a few years, only added like three and a half feet to it. And then the whole thing was shut down for over 20 years before finally in the 1870s or 80s, they were able to get this thing going again. I think they wanted it up in time for the Centennial.

David: Well, you know, it's funny, because the Washington Monument, the color of the stone, they were acquiring changes.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: You can see where it stopped.

Fisher: That's right. Yeah, there is a breakpoint on it. And it was actually supposed to have some building around the base of it, but they didn't, they couldn't get the money. They had this idea that they were going to ask private citizens to donate just $1 a piece. Well, that doesn't raise a lot of money when you're limiting it like that. So, great question. I hope that helps answer it, tells you a little something about your ancestor. We've got another great question coming up for you here in just a few moments when we return with more of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 451

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go for our final question this week, it's Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And David, our next question comes from Mark in West Point, Utah. And it says, “Fish and Dave, since I don't have a lot of pictures of ancestors, can you tell me what records might have physical descriptions of my ancestors?” Oh, that's a good question. And that's actually not too hard to answer.

David: No. In fact, there are lots of records from current day, all the way back. So you're looking for pictures of your ancestors even just say 75 years ago.

Fisher: Sure.

David: If they're an immigrant, their naturalization certificate.

Fisher: Yep.

David: It's going to give a description.

Fisher: And a picture. Actually, that recent.

David: Umm hmm, yeah. How about if they got in trouble with the law?

Fisher: Yes, arrest records. They always have that,

David: And sometimes with a mug shot. So sometimes you can find a picture that way, too. Another thing would be when they are in the military.

Fisher: Yep.

David: Physical descriptions, starting in the Revolutionary War for soldiers would be a descriptive role. So they would say you had ruddy complexion, you had brown hair, you had blue eyes, your short stature, if you're African American or Indian, they would even say that. So there's a variety of different records and military even get into height and weight when you get into later wars like World War I, or draft registrations, like the Canadian attestation papers for World War I.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Give great details. In fact, I found out that my great grandfather had a mole on his backside.

Fisher: Yes, I saw a scar on the chin of my grandfather on his World War I draft application.

David: Yeah, another thing that you might find, there's actually in Boston, one of the years of voter registrations in the 1890s, to prevent fraud, they asked for the weight and the height of their voter.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: So, you might find out how tall your ancestor was and how much did he weigh.

Fisher: I had one that came up, that was kind of interesting. We had an ancestor, a third grade grandfather, who abandoned the family over in England, and the church that then had to take the responsibility for the wife and the five children he left behind, actually put out an ad to try to locate this person, because you couldn't do this. It was against the law. And so they gave a full description of the man who had abandoned the family, what he was wearing at the time that he left, how tall he was, how old he was, where he was from, a lot of interesting, descriptive information there. The other one I ran into was kind of a sad one. It was a newspaper ad from, I want to say the early 1830s in New York, and one of the relatives on one branch of the family had had a guy who had taken a boat from work across the East River coming back to Manhattan and was not seen again. And so, his relative who was my second great grandmother's brother ran an ad and gave a full description of the man and what he was wearing as well. And obviously hoping that if the body was found that they'd be able to recognize it as a result of that ad.

David: Well, I mean, runaway ads, may it be for an enslaved person or for maybe an apprentice, they told you what they were wearing, the height, did they have a missing finger or something like that. You're going to get all that detail. Coroner's records, another way to get a physical description of a person.

Fisher: Sure, yep.

David: And then of course, you have lucky people like Scott Fisher, who has an ancestor who was dug up by archaeologists recently.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: So where there would be no photo or historic record that would have said how tall he is. We now know how tall this man was.

Fisher: Well, we're going to have his face here soon, too, as a result of it, because they're taking his skull and they're projecting what his face looked like, based on the science that they use in cold cases. Isn't that the strangest thing ever?

David: If he looks anything like you, I'm going to scream. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] I hope not for his sake let me tell you. David, thank you so much. Appreciate it as always, and we'll see you at RootsTech and talk to you after that.

David: All right, until then, my friend.

Fisher: All right, and thanks to Mark for the question as well. And thanks to you for joining us for the show and to Diahan Southard your DNA guide for coming on and talking about her great tips and what you can learn from her at RootsTech. She's a great teacher. You're going to want to see it online even if you're not there. Don't forget to catch the podcast on iHeart Radio ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio and Spotify. We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice normal family!

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