Episode 464 - Strange Happenings Going on with the DeWitt Ancestor Exhumation

podcast episode Jun 26, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David opens Family Histoire News with the story of some tattered bonds found in an attic in Louisiana. Wait til you hear what they’re going to bring to the finder, despite their wretched condition after Hurricane Katrina! Then, big news for Irish researchers. Hear what David has to say. Then, hear why Cubans both on the island and off of it are looking for dual citizenship… and for two very different reasons. Roanoke Island is back in the news again for archaeological finds that may reveal more about the earliest European settlers and the local natives. David has details. And, Smithsonian Magazine online has written about a minstrel show manuscript that has been discovered, and it dates back to the 15th century!

Next, in two segments, Fisher visits with Gage DeWitt of Louisiana, Justin DeWitt of Kentucky, and Perry DeWitt of New York State. They are all distant cousins to each other, and to Fisher. All descend from Tjerck Claessen DeWitt who died in 1701 in Kingston, New York. Last summer, these guys exhumed the remains of Tjerck, his wife Barbara, daughter Taatje, and son Andries for study. (Listen back to Episode 445.) But then… things started happening that NO ONE can explain. Hear their stories and what has been the unexpected result of their dig!

Then, David returns for 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 464

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. I’ll tell you what, you’re going to hear some stories today you’ve never heard before. I promise! Coming up here in about ten minutes, we’re going to revisit the DeWitt cousins who dug up their ancestor and mine, and you won’t believe what’s been happening. And now it’s time to head out to Edinburgh, Scotland, where David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, is standing by for Family Histoire News. How’s it going over there Dave?

David: Oh, it’s been wonderful. I mean, there’s lots of genealogical discoveries that we’ve made for people and on top it I got to do a little bit of travelling around. I went up to Loch Ness.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: I didn’t see anything that looked like pliosaurus, but I think I saw a log in the water.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay. Where are you going next?

David: Well, I’m going to go down to the boarder of England and Scotland and go to Hadrian's Wall, and travel around some ruins of some ancient forts.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Since we’re always talking about archeology, in England, I thought, maybe I would steal somebody’s metal detector and go out there and see what I could find.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, what have you got for us today?

David: Well, you know, Hurricane Katrina was obviously devastating for thousands upon thousands of people a number of years back. One of the families were cleaning out the house of a relative, and in the attic they found some old bonds. Now, it’s not uncommon to find them but of them have been cashed in.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Well, these water damaged bonds are still valid, Fish, and are worth upwards of about a quarter of a million dollars.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes. This relative had never cashed them in and as I understand it, the agent who sold them had gone out of business and these things were in tatters. So, they took it to the Louisiana unclaimed property division and they said, look, you’ve gives us enough here that we can work with that and the fact is that the agent before he went under actually recorded these things. So yeah, they’re good for a quarter million dollars. What a nice little windfall, huh?

David: Wow. It is indeed.

Fisher: It makes me wonder though, why don’t more people go through the attics? There are so many things in attics of old houses, some belonging to your family or maybe somebody else’s who was there before. I mean, it’s just unbelievable what’s sometimes hidden behind a beam or in some little hidden compartment, or just right out in the open.

David: Well, my wife and I will be married 35 years this year, and somewhere in the house I live in my dad put the savings bonds that we got at our wedding, aside, we still can’t find them. Maybe my grandkids will find it someday.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!

David: The story I want to share next is pretty close by. It’s in Ireland, and of course a lot of us have both Irish and Scottish ancestors and the case of Irish research has been hindered a lot with the fire in 1922. But, there are now efforts with the heritage council to work in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland, to go and create local community archives and digitize them. They already have 30 of them already done.

Fisher: Wow!

David: And they’re hoping to have maybe almost three times that amount in the next few years. One of the unique projects that came out of this in County Clare, Ireland, in one of the towns they’ve actually done a collection called, “Whose been living in my house?” And they’ve digitized all the land books. And they can tell any piece of property, who has lived there between 1855 and 1970. That’s pretty impressive.

Fisher: That’s really fun.

David: I wish I had some County Clare people. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, no kidding.

David: Maybe my County will be done next. I’m from Donegal. *hint hint* Well, I think genealogy affects everybody. I think everybody will get the bug once in their life to do some genealogy. And that’s true with a lot of people who are descendants from Cuban families that fled Cuba and now live in, say Florida, even as far away as Australia. They’re starting to research their Cuban American ancestry. Well, they’re doing it so that they can become closer to the island that they no longer live on, but they’re finding people online, Fish, that are in Cuba looking for their roots. But they’re doing it for another reason.

Fisher: Hmm.

David: They want to become citizens of Spain.

Fisher: Ohh I see! So that they can get out of the island. So, some people are trying to connect to the island and the people on the island are trying to connect with Spain so that they can get off of it.

David: Exactly. I think it’s fascinating because we don’t really think about genealogy for that element to escape some place, but who knows. Well, I love a good laugh, and of course one of my favorite things I grew up watching was Monty Python.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Well, they’ve actually found a manuscript that’s kind of similar to a Monty Python script. This medieval manuscript reveals a 15th century comedy entertainment by minstrels. Now, the funny thing about minstrels, they were mostly illiterate. So, they were not writing things down. Everything was delivered as an oral tradition from one to the other and there was no financial gain for writing or printing these off and selling them at local bookshops. The manuscript in question is called the Hague Manuscript and it’s from a family in Derbyshire. But, it’s interesting because the poems that are in there talk about killer rabbits and jousting bears.

Fisher: Hmm.

David: It might not seem really important, but to know that your ancestors had a sense of humor.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: It is a really wonderful thing and it brings them back to life, and if I remember correctly from Monty Python’s search for the Holy Grail, there was a killer rabbit. Maybe there was some plagiarism.

Fisher: Yeah, there might have been, but I think the copyright had long expired at that point.

David: I think you’re probably right. We don’t have to call Judy Russell on this one.

Fisher: No.

David: Well, we’re going to go from the 15th century another century forward to the 16th century, but now we’re going to be in North America, on Roanoke Island. Many have obviously heard the story of the about the lost colony of Roanoke, well, archeologists now have found the Native American settlement that was from that era. They also found pottery and copper wire which would have been a traded item from Europeans and not from another tribe nearby. And they found it three feet down in the ground.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So, who knows, someday we may find the burials of some of these unfortunates from the late 1500s.

Fisher: Interesting. Good stuff!

David: All right, well, I just want to say, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors we still welcome you to join. Save $20 by using the coupon code EXTREME, on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right David, thank you so much. We will talk to you in just a little bit with Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to those guys we talked to back in January, who dug up my ancestor and their ancestor in upstate New York, because there’s a lot more to the story now, strange things that have been happening. You’re going to want to hear all about it, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 464

Host: Scott Fisher with guests Justin DeWitt and Gage DeWitt

Fisher: All right welcome back. It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. Back in January, episode 445, if you follow the podcast, I had a couple of distant cousins on. Distant cousins to each other, distant cousins to me because we all descend from a man named Tjerck Claessen DeWitt or Clausen DeWitt and these cousins literally dug him up. I'm not talking research. I'm talking with shovels and researchers. It was an amazing story. And guys, welcome back to the show, because we got to do a follow up on this because a lot has happened since January when we first talked about it, just to do it is in. Justin DeWitt is in, where are you, in Kentucky?

Justin: I'm located in Ashland, Kentucky.

Fisher: Ashland, Kentucky and down in Louisiana is where our southern boy Gage hangs out as well. And here we are dealing with a grave dig in upstate New York. Just explain the reasons you wanted to do this guys?

Justin: Well, it really goes back to a simple fact that when Gage and I started the genealogical journey together, we found that there was a lot of speculation as to multiple things around Tjerck, one being where he was buried at and two being where he originated from. So we started on the journey based on that premise to solve these clues. There were several people in the past that’s done a lot of genealogical research. Doug Bradley did an amazing amount of research on the DeWitt family. And again, to the same extent, everybody kind of come to the same conclusion that Perry would be lost forever, and we would never be able to get those answers. So we started a quest that lasted roughly three years of investigation, which finally led to the project that we're talking about the archeological excavation and the validation that all of our hard work paid off. And we actually found Tjerck.

Fisher: Yes. And you got to listen to all the details on the previous show. But Gage this is not the end of the story. I mean, they're not back in the ground yet. I know you're intending to do that as soon as possible. But what we didn't talk about the first time around, because things were still happening, were the unusual things that took place at that time. [Laughs]

Justin: Yeah. [Laughs] Unusual is a good way to put it.

Fisher: Yeah. It really was. And even during the dig, I mean, the very first day you had some strange stuff starting to happen. And I know that you are not one of these believers in these kinds of things.

Gage: No, that's the thing, a little bit of background only. I've never been a believer in anything supernatural or spiritual, per se, when it comes to haunting things. But this dig really made me a believer and Justin was there. We have witnesses everything for claiming, you can prove yourself on Google. You can Google everything we're talking about third party sources so we're not lying. But basically what happened we started this day on July 13, of 2022. Justin and I, whenever the students started digging at the plot, Justin and I were leaving the site to go to get some lunch and we both mentioned how we have a very strange feeling. Seeing the students just kind of shedding the grass away and starting to dig down this 10 foot by 10 foot hole in the middle of our family burial plot, we both had a strange feeling. But students stopped digging around 3pm- 4pm that day, Justin and I went to grab dinner and Justin, I'm going to let you tell this. This is your favorite part. I'm going to let you tell this part about the lady at the diner.

Justin: Yes. So we were at a place called the King's Diner. We were having dinner. It'd been a hot day, very clear skies. And it was just like, hey, we need air conditioning and food. So, we were sitting there in this old lady approached us probably in her like, early 70s, and she looked at us and she said, “Are you guys prepared for the storm?” And we're like, what storm? And she said it looks awful bad outside, and she walked away. That's all she said. We got on and we looked on our maps, you know, everybody checks their cell phones we did. There was nothing. Clear skies, no storms, anything, it's clear outside. She comes back two more times while we're eating. And she's like, “Are you guys going to be okay? The storm is going to be bad.” And we're like, you know what storm? And she said, “It's out there. Don't you see it?” Finally, as we're like leaving, she's like, “You guys be careful out there and don't let it get you.” And we're like, okay. So, at that point, we get in the vehicle and we drive back to the cemetery because we had just set up like the tents and everything. And we wanted to finish putting them together. We just took a break from the heat. Well, when we arrive, it's starting to get to the point of the sun's going down starting to get dark. And when we get there, they're having a tribal drum practice in the church. So all of these native drums are bellowing through the church, which is making it bellow through the town. So you hear these native drum beats going and then out of nowhere, lightning started to speed up and it just came on us. And I'm going to hand it back over to Gage to finish telling the story because he tells it much better.

Gage: [Laughs] Yeah, so we were out here at the site. It was about 8:30 at night, the first night of the dig. It was only Justin and I out there, there were people inside of the church, like Justin said during this tribal drum meeting and it was very nice, but in hindsight it was a little spooky. It kind of set the mood for what was about to happen. I was hanging in security cameras on the tent we just set up, Justin was erecting a fence around the side because the dig site is in a very public area of Uptown Kingston. So it starts to drizzle a little bit, we see a little bit of lightning in the distance coming from the north. So, Justin and I were parked right across the street from the DeWitt plot right in front of, I think what's called Key Bank. Justin was parked right behind me. I was parked right in front of him. We decided to go get in our vehicles, it starts raining a little bit. And we wanted to see how the tent we erected it was a 10 foot by 20 foot tent. We wanted to see how the tent was going to hold up in the rain. So I'm sitting there Justin sitting there right behind me in his car. And the wind starts picking up a little bit and I'm parked facing north I can see all the way down Wall Street. The wind starts picking up and starts hailing a little bit. And then I see a white wall coming towards us from the end of Wall Street. And I looked at myself and I'm not going to lie, but I said that's a tornado. I know what a tornado is. I'm from Louisiana that is a tornado. So as the tornado was coming, this thing was like, it was insane. It was definitely a tornado. And just for the record, they have never had a tornado in documented history of Kingston. They've never have and I think these records go back to 1659. They've never had a tornado. So I grabbed my hat covered my face took my head. And sure enough, a tornado slammed us, slammed our side, picked up our tent, threw it about 25 feet in the air threw it across the churchyard. It felt like it was going to pick up my car. It didn't. What ended up happening to Justin it through a tree through Justin's car, through his car, threw a tree and landed right beside his head. And it lasted I don't know a total of about 30 seconds. Justin and I hopped out there's limbs falling everywhere as trees fall and we're standing in the middle of the road, Wall Street. Justin and I hop out of our vehicles and there's a lot of people in uptown everybody was saying, Oh, that was a bad thunderstorm. I said, man, I'm from Louisiana. That was a tornado. Now I'm not going to lie, Justin and I were really spooked, really, really spooked. And Justin, I'm going to let you take it over from here.

Justine: Yes, so the situation was dire immediately after. There was about a foot of water on the roads. You have to imagine tornado destruction in a small town. There's trees down, power lines down, and I had to pull an eight inch in diameter tree out of my car that had stopped an inch from my face.

Fisher: Well, and this is the thing though. This is the thing though Justin, you are descended from Tjerck Claessen DeWitt through his son Andries who died by a piece of wood whacking him in the head, right?

Justine: Yes. So here's the thing. We didn't obviously have the bodies at a time. We knew that he died from a breaking of beams and that crushed him. We always had assumed that it just pinned him down because they said he said he spoke a few words and died. Just for everybody who's aware, during the excavation we removed the bodies Andries’ skull was severely fractured in multiple places, he died of a severe head injury that was sustained to the right side of his head. And going back to that and looking at it now retrospectively, the tree came at the right side of my head and stopped within an inch of caving my face in. And that shook me very much so. So, after I get the tree out of my car, I look at Gage and I’m like, I'm leaving town.

Gage: No. Let's tell the truth. You were like, “I'm getting out of this town. I'm going back to Kentucky!”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Justine: Yeah, I was ready to leave. I was ready to leave the entire thing. Because, you know, I was like, I don't know what this is, nor do I care. I'm gone. So Gage did not want to leave. He was like I got to fix this. I'm like, forget that man. This is like poltergeists in life, all right. The ground was about four inches dugout, right. It's like an area and it's completely flooded with water around these headstones. There's lightning, all this stuff, trees are down. I get in my car and I drive out and all the roads are basically blocked with debris except for one and it's going by the area in Kingston known as the Academy Green. As I'm pulling up into that, my car is sitting in like a foot of water, right? There's a traffic line, everybody's trying to get out of town. About that time, a tree falls onto a transformer, it hits the ground, explodes and the lightning electric emits from that goes over the water, arcs across the car, hits the car in front of me, it jumps off my hood hits the car in front of me and blows the windows out of the car. There is now a lake of fire because it ignited fuel that was sitting on top of the water. So my car is sitting in a lake of fire and I'm like forget this. So, I turned and drove into the Academy Green, drove through the grass around everybody through the bushes and took off. And I got back to where we were staying at and started packing my stuff. At that point Gage arrives back and starts to talk to me. He's like, “Man, let's just stay the night you know, wait it out.” And I eventually listened to him but this is where it started to go from just a really severe event to more of a paranormal approach.

Gage: Yeah, absolutely. The storm happened on Wednesday night. It wasn't until Saturday that the National Weather Service came and surveyed the area. And they confirmed that it was in fact an EF1 tornado. And they released the latitude and longitude coordinates of where the storm started and stopped. And this is where it gets really crazy is because where the storm started, was 900 feet behind Tjerck Claessen DeWitt’s backdoor of the house that still stands, and the storm picked up at the church.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gage: So, we don't know exactly how to explain that. But I will say briefly, the day after the storm before we knew it was a confirmed tornado the day after, we did have a medium show up to the site and wanted to talk to Justin and I. Long story short, she told us that our ancestors are here. They're happy about what we're doing. And they wanted to know that the storm last night was them returning from their home to see what we were doing.

Fisher: That is insane. All right.

Gage: We have all of this on film too, this whole interaction with this medium.

Fisher: All right, we got to take a break here right now because this is just the beginning of the strange things that went on with this dig. We'll be back in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 464

Host: Scott Fisher with guests Gage DeWitt and Perry DeWitt

Fisher: All right, welcome back. Its Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And I'm talking to Gage DeWitt, my distant cousin who has dug up our ancestor, Tjerck Claessen DeWitt. And we've got another cousin as well, Perry DeWitt who has joined the show who was part of the dig last year. And there have been some very strange things that have happened, not just the tornado you heard about in the previous segment, but talk about the dreams, Gage.

Gage: Yeah, so the night of the tornado, I began to have some pretty crazy dreams, but I didn't think much of them, because I've a pretty active imagination. So I just didn't think much of it until two weeks after the dig ended. So, for the previous two weeks after the dig ended, I was having the same dream every night. A long story short, what the dream was, was it was Perry and I, we were in the hole. It was about five feet deep. We were pushing this headstone out of the ground. It belonged to a woman named Neeltje DeWitt, and one of the archaeologists is at the top of the hole looking down at us. And we all look over and there's Tjerck’s skeleton laying there. Now, it's not animated, but we can hear him talking. He's speaking to us in Dutch. I had this dream every single night after the dig for a period of about two weeks. And I never told anybody about it until Perry contacted me and tells me that he's having weird dreams about the dig. And he describes the same exact dream that I'm having.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gage: And one of the archaeologists involved. Now, mind you, this is a scientist involved, emails me and tells me that he's having spooky dreams about a dig for the first time in his career. So I called him and he, lo and behold, describes the same dream that Perry and I have been having. So then I call Justin. Justin's having that dream. Jamie was having that dream. Mark was having that dream. Literally everybody involved in this dig was having the same dream.

Fisher: Wow! And Perry, how did you feel when you heard about that?

Perry: I felt like, wow, I can't describe how I felt. The dreams that I was having before and after we were doing this project, it was weird.

Fisher: Yeah. Yeah, I bet so. But that wasn't the end of the weirdness, was it?

Gage: No. [Laughs] Not at all.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gage: So we have this situation with a coin. So a little bit of a back story. This was January of 2022. This is well before I knew Jamie and Perry. Justin and I already knew each other then, but Jamie and Perry, we had not even met them yet. And I was on eBay hunting for some 17th and 18th century Dutch artifacts. And I come across this coin, it looks like a penny. It's a 1795 VOC, which is East India Trading Company coin. It has a VOC logo on one side. It has a sail on the other side. And I ordered it off eBay I think I paid 14 or $15 for it. I thought it was cool. Put it as part of my collection, no big deal, nothing to do with family history at all. I ordered this, get it in and I look at it. I think it's cool. And I put it in this bowl. And now this bowl is a pretty special bowl, because about four years ago, Justin and I went to the DeWitt plot to look, we had permission from the church to kind of poke around and look for the bottom half of a missing headstone from our family, Andries DeWitt’s headstone. As we were poking around, we found little pieces of long gone headstones. So I collected them into this bowl. I put this VOC penny in this bowl, put it up in the top cabinet of my kitchen, and I don't touch it again for a week. And my father came over. I was going to show it to him, and I couldn't find it. It disappeared. I tore up the house looking for it. Never saw it again. This was January of last year, of 2022. We fast forward to, what, about a month ago, Perry, six weeks ago. Perry calls me, freaking out in the morning, like, “I had a dream last night!” Tjerck said that he was going to leave me something. He was going to prove to me that it's really him. And he sends me this picture of my coin that I ordered off eBay.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gage: My coin! Now, I live in Louisiana. Perry lives in New York. I have never taken that coin to New York, even by accident, not on purpose. Perry sends me a picture of my coin. And it’s been this thing since January of 2022. How do you explain that? I have no clue. Perry, how did you find this coin man?

Perry: It's just weird. I get up in the morning. And right next to my nightstand. I leave my phone and I grabbed my phone and something fell on the nightstand. I had to double look, because I thought it was like a regular coin, you know, or a penny. I'm like, where's this coming from? So I look at it. I'm like, wow, this is a VOC, Dutch Indian Company coin. I'm like, wow! Then I remember what Tjerck told me in my dreams. Then I smiled, I'm like, I didn't know how to describe what the feeling I had. I'm like, wow! It just overwhelms me. You know, it's just weird.

Fisher: So I’ve got to ask then, do you have pictures of this from when you bought it on eBay as I recall, Gage?

Gage: I do.

Fisher: Are there any scuffs or marks on the coin with the picture you have that matches? It's got to be the same coin, I mean.

Gage: It's the same coin.

Fisher: They're not floating around. It obviously is, but I mean, that's incredible!

Gage: It's the same coin. They only minted this coin for one year. It is the same coin. And yes, there are marks on the coin. So it was part of a shipwreck that was uncovered, I think in the 1970s. And the coins did have a little bit of a green pedigree on it, maybe some corrosion, but it is the same coin. And not only do I have a picture of it from the eBay listing, I still have the eBay listing time stamped how much I paid for it, when I bought it and when it was delivered to me. And I can prove when I met Jamie and Perry. I didn't even meet them until probably three months later after that coin disappeared. And this is, we're talking a year and a half ago was when this coin came up missing and this was a month ago that Perry finds this on his nightstand, after having a dream that Tjerck says he's going to leave him something. [Laughs]

Perry: And you know, I didn't know anything about the story of what Gage told me. And I found that on my nightstand. And I just remember what Tjerck said.

Fisher: What was the quote? What did he say in the dream?

Gage: Well, He speaks to me in broken English, Dutch. And he told me exactly that, he's going to give me something. And remind us this is not a joke. This is for real. And I've never told anybody about this coin when I purchased it. I mean, I didn't have a reason to. It has nothing to do with family history. So about this coin, it disappeared. And I don't even think Justin knew about the coin. So, we could entertain the idea that Perry is pulling a prank on me, but he would have no idea that I ever purchased that coin. That's what blows my mind. We don't have the evidence that we have about the tornado. But I can tell you right now, that when Perry sent me a picture of that coin, I knew somehow I cannot explain it. Somehow my coin got from Louisiana, to upstate New York on Perry’s nightstand. I have no clue.

Perry: It is weird. That is weird.

Fisher: Perry, what has your family said about this?

Perry: They just looked at me like, you know, like, “Are you for real?” It’s like, I'm telling you, this is what happened.

Fisher: Yeah.

Perry: Tjerck comes in my dreams all the time. He talks to me and he doesn't speak English that well, but sometimes when he gets really mad, he talks Dutch. It's amazing! It's awesome actually when he comes in my dreams.

Fisher: So, let me ask this then, where is the coin now?

Perry: I have it right here. I'm looking at it right now. I have it in the cup here.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s just the strangest thing I've ever heard. So who's going to wind up keeping it? Is that yours now, Perry, or is that going to be yours Gage?

Gage: Man, I'll tell you what, if old Tjerck came to my house in Louisiana and gave this thing to Perry. I'm not going to mess with destiny, man. Perry, you can have it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gage: Just buy me lunch, man, that coin cost me like 14 bucks! Tjerck obviously wants you to have it, bro, so you keep it. I'm not messing with Tjerck, man.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gage: I know the man could brew a tornado. I'm not messing with him. You keep that coin, Perry. You keep it.

Fisher: Wow, we've got tornadoes, we've got common dreams. We have a psychic showing up at the cemetery, we have the coin story. The story is not over yet, because the bones of these folks that you've exhumed are not back in the ground. And hopefully we can hear about the big celebration of that coming up here in the coming year. And then maybe they will leave you alone.

Gage: Absolutely, Scott. You know, so far, nothing too bad. I mean, the tornado, that was a little scary, but I'm pretty intrigued by this to be honest. And you know, after all, I am a descendant of Tjerck. So Tjerck was a very temperamental man and I kind of welcomed this. I'm kind of like, come on, Tjerck, what else you got, man?

Fisher: [Laughs] Amazing. It's something you have to really ponder. It’s like, wow, how can these things be happening, but they obviously are! And thanks so much to both of you, Gage, Perry, and also to Justin for coming on in the earlier segment. Guys, we'll stay in touch we’ve got keep following this whole story. It's amazing!

Gage: Yeah, absolutely. And for the skeptics out there just as I was, if you want proof that this stuff is real, go dig up your ancestors’ graves, you'll find out. [Laughs]

Fisher: You’ll find out, exactly. All right, thanks so much, guys. David Allen Lambert's coming up next for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 464

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right back at it with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fish here, David Allen Lambert is back from across the pond in Scotland. And Dave, our first question comes from Beth in Milwaukee. And she says, “Fisher and Dave, I have a DNA match that is either a half aunt or a first cousin. I have messaged her several times over the past year with no luck, and she has no tree. What is my next step?” Oh, that's a good question. Well, I would start this way, David and say, if you can, look this person up on FamilyTreeNow.com. This is a place to find living people. And so, if she has an unusual name, you might be able to identify the person and get an idea, first of all, of how old she is. Because if she's, say, 25 years older than you, then you will know right away it's a half aunt, and the issue comes from your grandparents or one of them. Otherwise, you're looking at somebody who would be a first cousin. And that's a whole different story of course.

David: Exactly. And you know, one of the things I find on some of my matches are, you know, am I determining a first cousin or a second cousin. So it's so close. You know, it’s like a surprise, first cousin that I don't know about?

Fisher: Yeah, that happens. And, you know, this is the benefit, by the way, if you haven't downloaded it yet, get Blaine Bettinger’s most recent version of his Shared Centimorgan Project. And it's just like a big card. And it breaks down every single possible relationship up through like fifth cousin or something like that. So you can see fourth cousins three times removed, second cousins once removed, third cousins, fifth cousins, half aunts, half uncles, half cousins, every single relationship. And he's done this through surveying many, many genealogists who know the relationship they have to certain DNA matches. And so, they have submitted and said, okay, well, this is the number I have. And so Blaine has created this range of Centimorgans that particular relationship can have, and also the average. So, just as Beth was talking about in her email, the half aunt has 871 shared Centimorgans on average, but a first cousin is 866. They're virtually identical. And so, we run into this with lots of different relationships and half steps with various generations. So it's important if you can figure it out, to know what the age is of the person that you're dealing with. Sometimes you can tell just by looking at a picture of them.

David: That’s very true.

Fisher: And hopefully, they can give you enough information where you can either track them down and better yet, obviously is if they have a tree up there or they respond to your messaging.

David: That's always kind when people respond to your message. I've had some DNA people out there, I'm like, “Hello! Do you ever write back?”

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, you know, I have a friend of mine who recently got into it, and he had a DNA match to a woman who had a common Irish ancestor. And this woman lives up in Canada, and she's aged and doesn't have a husband and has never been married. So, she spends all her time on her family history. And she was thrilled to hear from my friend. So what she did was, is she popped in the mail to him this chart. And this chart, when assembled, went 20 feet long, covering many, many generations, and said, “This is your family.” And he was able to use that to narrow down which descendants could possibly be his ancestor. He was trying to figure out who his grandfather's parents were. The grandfather had been on the orphan train from New York to Iowa in the 1890s. And so, he was able to narrow it down to one woman who had come over from Ireland and settled in New York and it fit perfectly.

David: Wow!

Fisher: And so, yeah, as a result of it, he's got hundreds of names. The line goes back a long, long way. And he now has the answer to that question. DNA is just such a powerful tool!

David: It's amazing what the next five to ten years is going to bring.

Fisher: Absolutely. So, great question Beth, hope that helps. And good luck with that. And we got another one coming up next, talking about some old school books that have turned up. We'll tell you more, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History.

Segment 5 Episode 464

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right back for Ask us anything. It's our final question on our final segment this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David, here's the question. It's from Olivia in Taylorsville, Utah. And she says, “Hi guys. I recently went to a flea market and picked up a bunch of old school books that were signed by some children ranging between the 1890s and the 19 teens. One even had a report card in it!”

David: [Laughs] Wow!

Fisher: No kidding. “How could I find the families of these kids to pass it on to them? Best, Olivia.” Wow, good question!

David: Well, I mean, the census would be the best one, especially if you can catch some of those girls when they were not married yet.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I mean, obviously, they're probably grade school kids, high school kids. So if you can find them in the context of just grouping some of the names together, see if they all show up in, say, the 1910 or the 1900 census in the same town.

Fisher: Right.

David: Because school books are often handed down, like when I remember going to school in the 70s. I wrote my name, but the person who had it last year had their name above it, and name before that had their name above it. But in the 19th, and early 20th century, they didn't usually have one of those forms printed on the inside flap. So they would write names on it.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And they also could have been in private school. They could have purchased the book and they could have kept it in the family, hence why one of them had a report card in it. I wonder if the kid who had the report card didn't want to show his parents and just returned the book at the end of the year.

Fisher: [Laughs] That's a real good thought. The other thing is, too is, you know, I would imagine that since you found a group of them, they likely came from your home state. So, that kind of helps you narrow things as you do a census search to try to find these people. And if you can get an idea, say, from the report card, what grade that person is in well, that helps you figure out what age they were and when they were born. So, when you do the name search, you can figure out what year they likely were born.

David: Well, you don't and it's true that you could also look at the book and see what date it was published so you know not to look for someone before that date.

Fisher: Right.

David: The other thing is, you have to keep in mind schoolbooks back in the early part of the 20th century, late 19th century, kids had harder things to learn than we did when we were kids.

Fisher: [Laughs] You think?

David: And you read through some of the things the elocution, chemistry, biology, and this is for someone who's 10.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah.

David: It’s like, amazing.

Fisher: That’s really true. Did you ever imagine you would become a DNA specialist, David, at this point in your life? [Laughs]

David: No, I never would have thought, because I really was not that great at the sciences. I was into geology. You know, I was trying to go so far back in my genealogy back to the fossil record, but I haven't found any relatives from the Stone Age yet.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: [Laughs] But as far as the ideas of what kids learned back then, you may track down that these all belong to one same student that just collected them through the years, or somebody bought a collection from a book collector. So they may be from different states. It depends.

Fisher: Yeah, I suppose.

David: You could also do a little Google searching on some of the names, see if they show up in a newspaper graduating from the eighth grade or graduating as a senior in high school, as my own daughter did last year, 22 years of kids in the public school system ended last week.

Fisher: Wow! That's great. Congratulations to her. And what a great question too. What fun, you know, when you come across something like that, to recognize that something might be of value to somebody else that they might enjoy owning. And sometimes we have that happening with information we find. And I know you've done it, and I've certainly done it, track down people that it might be of interest to. And it's amazing how either physical items like that or information can change lives and really make people happy. So it's great stuff. So, good luck with that Beth. David thanks so much. Continue your joyous travels in Scotland, and we'll talk to you next week.

David: All right, I'll be heading across the pond back home.

Fisher: All right buddy, take care. And thanks once again to our guests, Gage DeWitt, Justin DeWitt, and Perry DeWitt all distant cousins to each other, and to me having very strange things happen on their dig of our common ancestor. If you missed any of it, catch the podcast. You can find it on Apple Media, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio, Spotify and iHeartRadio. We are all over the place. Thanks for joining us. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!



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