Episode 469 - Surprise! Author Talks About Unexpected DNA Test Results… Hers And Others

podcast episode Jul 31, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher begins discussing his recent 3D printing project, by which he recreated the 1856 New York City volunteer firemen’s badge, number 1475, lost by his great grandfather. Andrew Fisher ran an ad in the New York Daily Herald on March 19 of that year seeking its return. Fisher explains the process and the cost. David then sends out 104th birthday greetings to the last surviving pilot of the Battle of Britain. Hear his story. Then, a new theory is out there on the true identity of Jack the Ripper! Could they have it right this time? Another previously unidentified victim of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has been laid to rest. David will tell you his story. Meanwhile, in Canada, researchers are combing through remains of a cholera cemetery that has burials from the 1830s and the 1850s. And finally, an ancient Iranian language, dating from between 200 BC and 700 AD has been translated. Hear how it was done.

Then, Leeanne Hay, author of “NPE- A Story Guide For Unexpected DNA Discoveries,” talks about her own shocking find and how her book has been made to assist those whose DNA test results were not what they were expecting.

David then rejoins Fisher for a couple more questions on 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 469

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. Very pleased to have a great author on today. Her name is Leeanne Hay. And she's written a book called, NPE, A Story Guide For Unexpected DNA Discoveries. And what prompted her to do this? Well, she had an unexpected DNA discovery! You'll be interested in hearing what Leeanne has to say, coming up here in two segments, starting in about ten minutes here on Extreme Genes. Right now, it's time to head out to Boston, because my friend, David Allen Lambert is standing by. He's the chief genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, how are you doing?

David: I'm doing okay, on the midst of the summer, enjoying some upcoming trips in the future for genealogy.

Fisher: Yes.

David: How about you? What's exciting with you these days?

Fisher: Oh, a couple of things. I'm going on a trip here too in another week or so. I'll be over in Europe. So, I'm looking forward to that. But I just finished. It's funny, because last week, we just got that question about the 3D printing. Well, I have completed my 3D printing of my badge of my great grandfather when he was in the fire department.

David: Oh, wonderful!

Fisher: Yeah, it's an amazing process to work. It's almost like watching a couple little pancakes on the stove there. But it takes forever! It's like, 12 hours or something on this machine to make this little 2x3 inch badge out of this material. But it's not that expensive. I was amazed! They charged me like $17 to do the design. And then, it was like $3.75 for the use of the machine and about the same for the materials. And so, it took a while to get all these things together, the right materials, which gave us the right colors for this badge, kind of gold on the number of the badge, and then kind of a copper color, reddish brown for the badge itself. And it was really fun to watch exactly how they do this, but it's just a little bigger than the original one. It's not made of metal, of course, like the original one. But it's a really good replica of this badge that my great grandfather, Andrew Fisher lost, according to his Lost and Found ad in the New York Daily Herald in 1856. Now we have it back. It's just a little late for him, unfortunately.

David: Yeah, well, you know, better late than never.

Fisher: Right? Absolutely. Well, let's get on with our Family Histoire News today. What do you have for us?

David: The start of the Family Histoire News is a happy birthday wish to 104-year-old Captain John Patti Hemingway of Dublin, Ireland. He was a pilot during the Battle of Britain. He flew a Hurricane in the 85th squadron during the Battle of Britain and later commanded the 43rd squadron in Italy at the end of the war.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Now, sad thing is, he is the last of, “The Few.” They refer to the survivors of the Battle of Britain as “The Few” and he may be the only one left, Fish.

Fisher: Wow, that's amazing! But 104, good for him.

David: Well, you know, you go back to Britain, so I might as well stay there for a little bit. And you know, we've talked from time to time about the elusive Jack the Ripper.

Fisher: Hmm.

David: Well, new stories have hit London papers. No, Jack the Ripper’s not back, thank goodness, but a researcher believes that Hyam Hyams, who died in an asylum in 1913 may have matched the description police had heard about him. People had said the certain walk that the Ripper had in his shuffling gait may have been part of some brain damage that he had. It's an interesting theory. It's hitting American and British papers. But he was incarcerated, ironically, in 1889, the same year that Jack the Ripper disappeared, and died in this asylum in 1913.

Fisher: Interesting. I don’t know. I mean, we've heard so many possible candidates for this guy, but it's always fun and always interesting, especially after this much time.

David: It is, because I mean, you figure out how much this was in the news, even in America.

Fisher: Yep.

David: Or in Europe where your family is. So they knew about it. And we're still talking about it all that many years later. In the story we're still talking about is Pearl Harbor. Over 80 years later, in Augusta, Maine, a naval aviator who was killed at the attack who served aboard the USS Oklahoma. And since Stanley W. Allen will be receiving a military funeral at the Veterans Cemetery in Augusta, Maine shortly. He was 25 when he was killed, but he was one of the many from the Oklahoma which had been disinterred. They've actually now found over 350 identified service members from those buried in what was called the Punchbowl.

Fisher: Right. And we're talking about DNA here, finally identified this young man after all this time. And it's really so impressive that our military continues to bring people home.

David: You know, remains are still being found all over the place that isn't just your ancestor in upstate New York. We're going to Quebec now where they basically are digging up an old cemetery. This is a cemetery in Quebec City that essentially had those that died from cholera and other epidemics in the 1830s, the 1850s. They are finding a lot of graves of young women and children and babies, but this is giving them some insight into disease. During the cholera epidemic, Fish, in Canada alone, they had lost over 20,000 individuals.

Fisher: Wow! Doesn’t that's make you a little nervous. I mean, if you were digging up the graves of these people, I mean, I know the disease can't still be there. But wouldn't it be just a little nerve wracking anyway?

David: I'd be wearing rubber gloves and about five COVID masks.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

David: We always like to think the Rosetta Stone that came out a few years ago was able to translate and give us all the languages. Well, one more has been solved. Researchers have deciphered an unknown Kushan script, which is Iranian early language that dates from around 200 BC to about 700 AD. And this is a fascinating script. Nobody really knew what it was. It existed during the time when there was cohabitation with the Roman Empire. So, another piece of history has been uncovered. It's only taken 1500+ years.

Fisher: Well, the question is now, what can we translate with this new key right? Now that the code’s been cracked, it'd be really interesting to see what else is out there historically in the records, and especially for people who descend from that area.

David: Exactly. I mean, this can be your ancestor. It's a good thing. Well, that's what I have this week. And don't forget, if you're not an American Ancestors member, we'd love to have you be a member after 178 years. Come to AmericanAncestors.org and use the coupon code “Extreme” and save $20 on the membership.

Fisher: All right, David, thank you so much. We will talk to you at the back end of the show. And coming up next in three minutes, it's Leeanne Hay, author of the book, NPE, A Story Guide For Unexpected DNA Discoveries, on Extreme Genes.

Segment 2 Episode 469

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Leeanne Hay

Fisher: And welcome back. It's America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Root Sleuth. And my next guest is an author of an amazing book. It's called NPE* A Story Guide For Unexpected DNA Discoveries. She is Leeanne Hay. Hey Leeanne, it's great to have you on the show!

Leeanne: Hi, it's great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Fisher: So this book, I mean, really is something that's going to be helpful for an awful lot of people. And an awful lot of people do come up with surprises in their DNA results. How do you help them with this? Let's get to the beginning.

Leeanne: Sure, as most people will know, in the past seven years with the propensity of DNA testing in our daily lives, and the advertising that goes on, thousands of people have learned that the paper trail of their genealogy is not accurate because of this consumer DNA testing. And I was one of those people.

Fisher: So Leanne, what was your story?

Leeanne: My story was I had seen a wonderful commercial on TV about this lovely multicultural young woman, and knew that my mother's family had emanated from Sicily and was 100% Sicilian. And being a history major in college, I also knew that many of the world's armies had marched through Sicily. So I thought it would be a lot of fun to take a DNA test to see if I had any of these tiny little percentages of exotic DNA in me.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.

Leeanne: So what came back a few weeks later?

Leeann: A few weeks later, I foolishly opened up an email while I was on a break at work that said your DNA test results have arrived. And I opened it up and saw the Sicilian part of my family and said okay, that makes sense. And then saw some ethnicities that I didn't understand. My dad was 100% Slovenian. And I know that because I had worked with cousins on the genealogy of my paternal side of the family from a big paper trail. And what I was coming up with was British, Scottish and French.

Fisher: Uh oh.

Leeanne: So, my first thought was, gee, what are these marks through Slovenia? [Laughs[

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! It didn’t click quite yet.

Leeanne: It didn't click. And then I was clicking through different tabs about haplogroups and words that I didn't understand at the time and what a centimorgan was. And then I found a tab that said, DNA matches, and I clicked on that. And it had a list of names and the name at the top of the list as the closest relative match was the son of my mother's boss.

Fisher: Oh! So this went back-aways, obviously.

Leeanne: Oh, yes, it did. Yes, it did.

Fisher: He came in as a half brother?

Leeanne: Yes. Well, at the time, it said half brother, grandfather or half uncle.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Leeanne: This was six years ago, so things were a little a little more foggy back then. And when I saw it, I knew that he was many years older than me. So my question became, am I a grandchild of his? Am I a child of his? Is he my brother? And at the time lists of relatives names weren't populating all at once.

Fisher: Sure.

Leeanne: They were partially populating over a series of weeks. And on the list that came up, I couldn't find any of my maternal side relatives names.

Fisher: Oh!

Leeann: So, for a brief moment for about three weeks until the list fully populated. I didn't know whether I was a late discovery adoptee. I didn't know if I was an NPE, a non paternity event, or not parent expected. I had no idea what was going on. But it was extremely traumatic, heartbreaking, created a lot of confusion for me, as well as sorrow, a feeling of shame. I really don't know why, because it certainly wasn't something that I did. But I very quickly sent out a brief email to this person and said to him, I don't understand these results. I'm not quite sure how we're related. This is who I am. I don't know if you remember, my mother was your father's secretary.

Fisher: Hmm.

Leeanne: And a short period after that, a couple of days later, I received an email back from him, saying that he knew who my mother was. And he had a feeling he knew what was going on. And did I want to talk with him? And I said that yes, I did. Unfortunately, I did not have the best results with those first few communications with him.

Fisher: Okay.

Leeanne: He was very adamant about keeping everything secret from his other or our other four siblings. And in the irony of all ironies, I actually knew my youngest sibling very well. He was 12 years older than me. And I had actually babysat for his first two children when I was in high school.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!

Leeanne: So yeah. So here we are, I don't know quite where I fit into this family. But I do know that I have potentially been around my brother for all the time that I lived in the same city with them. But I also held and cared for my nieces, two of my nieces as infants.

Fisher: Wow.

Leeanne: And I was no longer an only child at the age of 57.

Fisher: Wow! What a process for you to go through.

Leeanne: Yes, it was a process. It was a process of shock of discovery of trying to put aside deep, deep feelings of anger of being lied to, of being rejected of just a whole bunch of stuff.

Fisher: Were either of your parents still living?

Leeanne: Both my mother and birth father had been dead for a couple of decades or more. My dad who raised me, my birth certificate dad, or VCF, was still alive, and he was 93 at the time. And I chose not to tell him, for me.

Fisher: Right.

Leeanne: And I always want to make sure that people understand, everyone makes their own choice, and everyone has to live with either the rewards or the consequences of their choice. My choice was not to tell him because if he did not know, I did not want to hurt him at this stage in his life.

Fisher: Yeah, of course. Sure.

Leeanne: And if he did know, I knew that my reaction would have been a lot of anger. And I didn't want to be angry at a man who was basically a good dad.

Fisher: Yeah.

Leeanne: So my choice was to take one for the team, and journal and work on processing through all of this and hoping to build quietly some relationships to find my medical history out. To find whether or not any of my siblings wanted to have connections and to not publish anything about my experience or others experiences that I was learning about through the process. Until after my dad had passed away. And my dad passed away at age 96. With me at his bedside and his three grandchildren with him in a peaceful, loving way that I hope all of us one day will have.

Fisher: So, you've really made some interesting points here about the variables in the scenarios that come up, right? I mean, everybody is different and how they handle things. A couple of months ago, I helped somebody identify her birth family, and she's had some contact with a half sister and some other people, but there are other branches that she still wants to get out to and she came to me the other day and said, You know, I think I need counseling. This is far more intense for me than I thought it was going to be. And it surprised me too, knowing her personality that it would be an issue. But this stuff goes on for years. You know, you talk about Bill Griffeth, for instance, in his book, right, “The Stranger In My Genes.”

Leeanne: Right. That was one of the first books that I read. And it was very helpful. And I encourage and recommend it, particularly for men who make this discovery because it's written from the male point of view.

Fisher: Yep.

Leeanne: It is a great story of memoir to understand. In fact, I even quote in an epigraph in my book, one of Bill's statements that if you want to explore your genealogy, you have to be prepared for the truth, because that's what genealogy is.

Fisher: That's right. So, talk about the variable scenarios that come up, because your assumption, of course, and in your case, it seems apparent, this was an affair on the part of your mother back when she was working with her boss. But that's not always the case, is it? It's often assumed, but not always the case.

Leeanne: That's exactly right. There are many variables out there. And it's important for people to realize that there needs to be an awareness and reaction of empathy when you hear of or experience this type of a discovery. Some people will learn that their mother was the victim of sexual assault, and they are a product of that sexual assault. Some people will learn that they are donor conceived, and their parents who believed that they were both the gamete donors were not.

Fisher: Right, the doctor.

Leeanne: Right, the doctor. You have donor fraud that can be involved. You also have people who were adopted, but never knew they were adopted. And they find out that their sister is really their mother, and their mother is really their grandmother.

Fisher: Yeah, heard that.

Leeanne: There are also people who are adopted and are searching for their birth parents for accurate medical histories and are unable to get that information, or were never told that they were adopted, and find out that they are carrying some kind of genetic illness that they have been passed down to their children.

Fisher: Yeah.

Leeanne: There's a whole bunch of things that can happen. And I encourage people to pause before they make a decision about what an NPE event is, or how it has impacted people because it can really be quite dramatic, or finding out, for instance, that you thought your father was black, but he was actually Hispanic, or you thought that you were born into the Jewish faith, but you weren't.

Fisher: And sometimes there's even been cases of switched at birth.

Leeanne: Exactly, or infant abductions.

Fisher: Sure.

Leeanne: Where people have no idea you know, Mom and Dad went away, and a year later, they come back and they have a baby.

Fisher: We've got to take a break Leeanne, but let's continue this conversation here in five minutes. We'll come back and we'll talk about the processing, the counseling, and reaching out to the birth families, and some tips that you might be able to give to people who have endured the same thing that you have, but also those who have to help those who have gone through it. We'll get to here in minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 469

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Leeanne Hay

Fisher: All right back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with Leeanne Hay, she is the author of NPE* A Story Guide For Unexpected DNA Discoveries. Leeanne has written this book to help those who have gone through the similar DNA shock and awe that she's gone through. And Leanne, let's talk about this idea of processing because in my experience, and it's certainly probably not as extensive as yours. It's different for every person.

Leeanne: It is different for every person. And I encourage each person to know that I stand with them. And I hope others will stand with them and empathy, that the decisions and choices that each of us make whether to contact a relative or not, how to contact them, and when to do that has to be an individual choice based on their own personal experience and their histories in their family and the circumstances surrounding how they found out that they were not a biological child of one of their parents.

Fisher: Yeah.

Leeanne: So, some of the suggestions that I would have is when it comes to communications, for example, is to always keep things brief. No one wants to open up a letter from a stranger that's six pages long, back to back. What you want to look for is to write a letter that is three paragraphs no more than three sentences and assure someone that you're looking for an accurate medical history. You're not sure how you're related and you're living a good life and would like their help if they're interested in doing it. There's no guarantee that you're going to get a response from that but at least you will not have scared someone off going a little too overboard or sharing too much information.

Fisher: Yeah, but some of these people, maybe they ignore you to begin with, but over time, some of these people will come back, right?

Leeanne: Sometimes they will come back. And it depends on whether or not they are interested in helping you as well as they no longer fear you.

Fisher: Right.

Leeanne: People who are contacted by strangers, particularly in the world that we live in with internet scams and people targeting others for financial scams, people are very, very wary. And often they're also fearful because there may be shame attached, or concern attached to what a relative did or didn't do, and what that might mean to them. I know another person who found out that her biological father was the parish priest, that could have lots of ripple effect in their community, and it did.

Fisher: Hmm.

Leeanne: So, one never knows what other things are at play when people do contact you or not. But I always encourage folks to know that if you do get a response, that kindness and respectfulness goes a long way to get information back that you need.

Fisher: Sure. Well, and I always tell people that when you reach out to somebody, they're going to need a little time to process too, just as you have just to get to the point where you sent the letter or the email or whatever it is that you're doing. To allow them to process I had a friend who I helped identify her birth parents. And she found out she had a half sister and a half sister had been her mom's only child, she thought, and mom was gone. And now she had to process some anger because mom had never told her she had given up a baby girl years before. And months later, this woman showed up at my friend's front door and brought her and presented her with an album of photographs of the birth mother. And they sat down and went through it together. And now they have a relationship. But it took a long time. And this half sister was apologizing to her for how long it took. And fortunately, my friend played it right and said, you know what I mean, we all have to go through the processing. So there was a great understanding there. And now it's been eight years, and they're still very close.

Leeanne: Right. And I also want your listeners to understand as well, that if it doesn't work out to have the happy ending, and there are many times when it does not, that it's not your fault.

Fisher: Right.

Leeanne: And hopefully, you've been able to get your paternal or maternal, whatever the situation is family medical history, that's the most important thing. And if they're kind enough to send you a few pictures, so that you can have some kind of touch point of identity, that's also a kindness too, relationships are never guaranteed for any siblings, family members, friends, co workers, we hope for the best. But there are too many folks who make this discovery that assume that they will always end in a happily ever after type of situation. And I want to prepare people that yes that does happen. And sometimes it does not too.

Fisher: Yeah.

Leeann: So, finding out that your mom or your dad is not a biological relative ripples through to many people. And different people are going to react in different ways. As an example, my eldest brother, whom I spoke about in my story earlier, refused to give me detailed medical information. And I said, okay then, I can no longer keep this between the two of us because I need my accurate medical information, as well as my adult children need their accurate medical information too.

Fisher: Yeah, of course.

Leeanne: So I contacted my youngest brother, I still have a wonderful relationship with him and his family. And we have enjoyed getting to know each other again, and have enjoyed our family spending time together. So it just depends on one person's reaction, and one is going to be different than the next. And unfortunately, my oldest brother now no longer talks to our youngest brother, because he chose to have a relationship with me.

Fisher: Well, and that's just the processing for other people and how they view it right?

Leeanne: Exactly. And so even within one family like mine, you can have different reactions.

Fisher: Sure. I've seen this before where I've introduced people to their birth families. And it went well at the start, and then all of a sudden, the dad disappears. He's gone. But the uncles and the cousins, they're still all happily engaged, and this person just kind of shook it off and said, well, that's why I guess there was never a relationship really with my mom, because that's the kind of person he was.

Leeanne: There you go. People will be who they are.

Fisher: Yep, ultimately so. So what about counseling, what do you recommend on that?

Leeanne: I highly recommend for people to seek counseling and there are lots of opportunities out there for licensed professional counselors that some of your listeners may not be aware of. For instance, any major city or town that has a branch of a university will have a psychology department and often those departments will do community outreach programs where therapists can be available for no charge.

Fisher: Hmm.

Leeanne: Some of your listeners may find that their houses of worship have mental health clinics, or have clergy who are trained in mental health areas. What's most important, I feel is to find someone who is trauma trained. Who can understand and has the experience in a licensed professional capacity to be able to help you through this process.

Fisher: Sure. And how have you dealt with anger towards your mother, for instance, is that something you've been able to process?

Leeanne: Absolutely, that is what drove me to therapy. I knew that this intense anger that I felt, particularly since it's really hard to resolve anger when the person you're angry with is dead. That's what drove me to therapy. And through therapy, I worked through it and what I will share with your listeners was one of my major “aha!” discovery moments. My anger really wasn't anger. It was incredible grief. It was the grief that I loved my mother, but my mother didn't love me enough to trust me with this information. It was grief that I had lived a significant portion of my life literally within a couple of miles of my siblings and never had a relationship with them. I had terrible grief of never experiencing being an aunt. I was denied the experience of all of the celebrations that a family has, as well as mourning all the losses that a family has.

Fisher: Sure, yeah. She's Leeanne Hay. She's the author of NPE* A Story Guide For Unexpected DNA Discoveries. Where can they get your book, Leeanne?

Leeanne: They can get my book on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle, as well as it is available on Kindle in the United Kingdom, also in Australia and Canada.

Fisher: All right. Boy, it's great stuff. Thanks so much, because I'm sure this helps a lot of people who are in the same situation. Appreciate it.

Leeanne: I appreciate you having me on. Thank you so much.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns as we go through another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 469

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, it is time for your questions on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here with David Allen Lambert, back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And Dave, this question is from Huntsville, Alabama. Diane asks, “Fish and Dave, you're always talking about the US Census and substitutes. Can you tell me a little about Canadian censuses and do they have any substitutes?”

David: Oh, absolutely. With Canadian censuses, there are going to be some things that are going to be similar. I mean, tax records, for instance, I mean, these are going to be records that you're going to find on a local level, on a county level or in a provincial level in Canada. And these are going to be those substitutes that may take you even back to the 1600s.

Fisher: Really?

David: For Quebec censuses. Oh, sure, or ecclesiastical censuses that were taken by a church. In Nova Scotia, there are a lot of censuses that were done between the Arcadian period of pre French and Indian War. There are records that exist once the British came in that are done for tax purposes as well as military lists. So, you never know what you're going to come across with Canadian records. The other thing, militia lists just in general, I mean, you can see an entire community that might be having all their young men at a particular fort that's in that county, which kind of gives you a recapitulation of the entire younger population. The other thing that's really big in Canada, Fish are, besides land records are your petitions for land, Crown land. So, you've got people for upper and lower Canada, as well as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. But these are petitions for Crown land, but it may be groups of people petitioning for one region. So, maybe they didn't all live in, say, Baronsfield, Nova Scotia in 1832. But in 1831, this group petitioned for this land, and then eventually they're all living there. So, it's almost like a precursor to the census.

Fisher: Wow! I mean, this is the same, but at the same time, quite different. And of course, you're half Canadian, so this makes sense that you would know about all this.

David: These are records I bumped around all the time to try to find my family before the census, education records. I mean, schools have censuses, sometimes there are listing of students. Sometimes the students in the 19th century even say who their next of kin is or their father or mother, their age. And then for a more recent census a lot of people don't know about, in fact, I only found out recently when I was looking at Family Search Wiki on this very same subject. There was a Canadian national registration in 1940. It's similar to what was done in England in 1939. And it's a compulsory registration for all people, 16 years of age and older for the period of 1940 to ‘46 during the war. And this compilation is available from the library and archives, Canada. It's not online, but the person has to be dead for over 20 years. But I would imagine this is something that Canada and Ancestry and Family Search all should put their efforts together when these records are available for everyone to dig into. It's going to be a great resource.

Fisher: Wow! And you know, you think of all the old British holding, such as Canada, and I'm wondering if Australia doesn't have some things like that, too.

David: Ah, one of the listeners is going to have to answer that question.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. Where can people find these records, Dave?

David: Well, like I say, Family Search has a great wiki page I love for researching countries I don't know well. But in this case, doing a Google search on Family Search Wiki, and then Canadian census substitutes, and voila! It's like Family Search is its own AI.

Fisher: Yeah, that's true. That's great. So that's great advice. And a really good question. I think sometimes we don't pay enough attention to Canada. But of course, we're mostly on the radio here in the United States, and on podcasts, we’re everywhere. But great question. Thank you so much for that, Diane. And I hope that helps you out. And Dave, thank you for that. We have another one coming up here in just a couple of moments, talking about some metals and medallions left by a Navy man. What is he going to do with them to make sure they don't get thrown away someday? We will find out, coming up next when we return in three minutes with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 469

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go! Our final segment on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It's Ask Us Anything with Fisher here and David Allen Lambert over there. This question comes from Raymond in Branson, Missouri, David. And he says, “Gentleman” Yes. “I recently found some medallions and medals that belonged to my grandfather. They were from his years as a Navy man. Can you suggest what I can do to make sure these don't get lost in future generations?” [Laughs]

David: Well, I think the great advice of Scott Fisher to get a shadowbox and put it together with a photo of the individual. That is the greatest way of identifying it and it's not just a box of stuff.

Fisher: You know, I mean, that's exactly right. And I've done this with my mother's medals. She got them for each year. She was in a high school marching band, and they would be in competitions. And they were just in a little plastic box, you know, like a ring box or something.

David: Oh, sure.

Fisher: And then when I inherited it, it's like, okay, I know what these are, because I could read the name of the school on it, and the years and all that, and I'm thinking, well, I have four kids, there are four medals here, I could give one to each kid. But then it occurred to me, it's like, they're not going to care what that is, because it doesn't have any context. And so, yeah, you're right, I took the picture of the marching band from her high school yearbook, and a photo of her in her uniform, playing clarinet, separately, and then I had a little box down at the bottom for all four of these medals. And it's really quite lovely to hang on the wall. And when people come through, they ask, “Wow, what's this?” You know, it's interesting, because it gives it context. And if you are able to preserve the history of what these items are, then they're going to be of much greater use to your descendants.

David: Well, that's true. I mean, you have to think of your home as a museum. And if you go to a museum, and you saw a medal just sitting in a display case or on a table, well, what's the story behind it? You know, the story. I mean, the best part is, many of our listeners are genealogists and historians. You know who that belonged to. That's why you have it to begin with, or do the research.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. You know, this kind of reminds me of something you made me think of Dave as you said that. This is like a box of unmarked photographs, where you don't know who the people are. You don't know where the place was or the time that the picture was taken. Well, why would you ever mark it, you already know who that person is, and all those things, but the folks who come after you, they don't know those things. So, they often chuck them out. So yeah, if you can give context to your navy medals of your grandfather and make people understand that these are really exciting, interesting personal things that have something to do with their family they are much more likely to survive. I will say this, though, there are a lot of things, for instance, like certificates that if they're in frames, you know, a lot of things like that might get thrown out, because they're just not interested in the heavy physical stuff. And maybe you can put a note on the back of those and just say, “Hey, you know, put these in a plastic sleeve, and keep them in a book, so that they're not lost as well.” So there are a lot of suggestions you can give people, little notes and hints along the way for after you're gone.

David: Right.

Fisher: But I really do believe in framing things and giving them context, especially when it's physical objects like that, like I'm doing with my fireman's badge that I just made with a 3D printer.

David: I know. I'm still waiting for that kid in Central Park with a metal detector to find the original one for you.

Fisher: [Laughs] Absolutely. Well, Dave, we're going to take a few weeks off here, because I am heading overseas myself. I'm going to Deutschland to visit my daughter and grandkids. They live in Stuttgart with my son-in-law. And then we're going to go over to France and visit Normandy. So, we will catch up with people, we’ll play some of our favorite shows from the last year or so. So you can enjoy those over the coming weeks. And we will talk to you again with new shows in August. Dave, you take care of yourself.

David: Until then, my friend. Travel safely.

Fisher: All right, thank you so much. And thank you for joining us this week. And thanks to Leeanne Hay for coming on and talking about her experiences, and those stories she's gathering about unexpected DNA discoveries. If you missed any of it, of course you want to catch the podcast on Apple Media. iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, ExtremeGenes.com, we're all over the place. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!


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