Episode 485 - The Weekly Show Finale! / Dr. Duffy on DNA from the Air / Diahan Southard and Nathan Dylan Goodwin on RootsTech Murder Mystery

podcast episode Dec 18, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. As the long running weekly broadcast show comes to an end, the guys begin Family Histoire News with talk of the Boston Tea Party 250th anniversary celebration this weekend. Then, David reveals his role in setting the record straight on the last survivors of the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. Ever wonder how large the largest family tree in the Library of Congress might be? Wonder no more! Then, the guys give a brief update on the 23andMe data breach.

Next, Fisher shares one his most interesting interviews from earlier this year. It’s with Dr. David Duffy who has discovered that DNA can be detected and connected to individuals even when taken out of the air, or from footprints on a sandy beach! What might this mean for future police work?

Then, Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard, and genealogical thriller author, Nathan Dylan Goodwin,  join the show to talk about their planned genealogical murder mystery on RootsTech eve in Salt Lake City.

David then returns for another Ask Us Anything question. This one is on the use of aliases in the Revolutionary War.

Fisher and David then sign off on the final segment of the weekly broadcast series, with a huge thank you to so many who have contributed to the success of Extreme Genes through the years.

Stayed tuned for future, periodic Extreme Genes podcasts!


Segment 1 Episode 485

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: It was July of 2013 when we first started Extreme Genes, and what a different world it was in our space back then here's what it sounded like. “And welcome to the maiden voyage of Extreme Genes. It's Family History Radio. I am Fisher, so excited to be doing this show.” Well, hey, it is great to have you back for this our final broadcast. Yeah, after 10 and a half years, we're shutting it down at the end of the month. As far as our regular weekly show goes, periodically, we'll come back with the podcast when something interesting kind of strikes. And I'm so excited to have you here this week. We've got some great guests. First of all, I wanted you to hear a segment from earlier this year, which was fascinating about DNA, and how scientists can actually lift it from footprints on a beach or from the air and what this could potentially mean in science with animals and also with police work. Yeah, Dr. David Duffy is going to be on coming up here just a little bit. Later in the show, our good friend Diahan Southard, your DNA Guide, and Nathan Dylan Goodwin, the author of the murder mysteries, yes, the genealogical thrillers, he's going to be talking with Diahan about what they're going to be doing at RootsTech this year. Right now let's head out to Boston, David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello, David.

David: Where have all the years gone my friend? Wow!

Fisher: [Laughs] Hey, eight years with you. You know, two years into it, you came along, and it was a great match. And we've never looked back. It's been great fun.

David: It really has. And I've loved doing this and getting Family Histoire news and still going to gather it for Twitter so hashtag Family Histoire News, so they can still search on it. Boston Tea Party celebration this weekend.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: 250 years since the time of the dumping of the tea. And it's just great to be involved in it this weekend.

Fisher: Yeah, you're right there. And what a place of history that was. And it made a huge difference in what happened with our country. The thing about Boston that's so fun is there's just so much history there that has to do with everybody in America and around the world, really, because the revolution really began there. Like Boston Common, isn't that like the oldest gathering place in America?

David: Yeah, I mean, they had a tax set aside so you could essentially have common land to graze your cows because people didn't have backyards in Boston. So this great Common has been around for obviously thousands upon thousands of years for Native American, but for the sake of the colonists, 400 years and it's still the oldest park in America. And it has cemeteries on there, the soldiers mustard for various wars, there's monuments all over the place. And it's a fun place to visit, as I'm sure you may have known when you've come to Boston.

Fisher: Oh, yes, many times been out there.

David: I spend a lot of time researching the past. But one of my areas I love is World War II, because my dad was in it. And Pearl Harbor has always meant a lot to me. I started a group 10 years ago on Facebook called Pearl Harbor Survivors, Stories and Memorials. And so right around the end of Thanksgiving, I started looking for the news stories. And of course, this is the 82nd of Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, our friend Lou Conter couldn't make it. This flight was too much. I mean, at 102… God bless him.

Fisher: Yep.

David: But there's a person who reaches out to me from one of the survivors groups of the sons and daughters. And they gave me the news that one person had passed away and I said, no, he's not passed away. I called the American Legion hall in Albany, Oregon. He was playing cards at 103.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Then they told me the Pearl Harbor Group thought there was another veteran still alive. I’m like no, he died four years ago. And then 11:30 at night I find a story from Many, Louisiana, of 101 year old Jesse Mahaffey, who was on the Oklahoma, the USS Oklahoma when turtle after it was torpedoed, famous vessel, only second to the Arizona. And so now there are two survivors of the Oklahoma and I get to help out with that because Pearl Harbor didn't even know. So, I don't know if they did a follow up news interview with him or not, but I'm happy to know that we still have, it looks like just shy of 30 living Pearl Harbor survivors that we’ve been able to figure out now.

Fisher: Wow, amazing.

David: Well, you know, I love family trees. And I think in genealogy we've gotten so small we can look at things on our cell phones now. But the Blackwell family tree at the Library of Congress, Fish, covers an African American family from Virginia from 1789 to the 1970s. Now want to take a stab on how big it is?

Fisher: I have no idea. I mean, it's only 250 years or so you wouldn't think it'd be that big.

David: Well, it has 1,500 names. It's very ornate, but it's eight feet tall by six feet wide.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!

David: Now, doesn't mean it's the largest family tree in the world. It just means it’s the largest one on file at the Library of Congress. So, I know one of our listeners now has got a 10 feet by 12 feet piece of paper, and they're going to put all their tree on it and send it to the library Congress to be the next contender.

Fisher: Good idea.

David: You know, in recent news, 23andMe had that data breach. They say 6.9 million customers had been affected. But Fish, have you heard from any of our listeners or any of our friends that have had anything?

Fisher: No.

David: Yeah, me neither.

Fisher: No, in fact, it's stated at this point that nothing nefarious has come from the data breach. Nobody's aware of anything that's been done with it. But I mean, to me, just the act of stealing it is in itself a terror act, because of the fact it frightens people into wondering what they're going to do with it.

David: Um hmm. You know, if you want to steal my DNA and clone me, that's fine. Maybe I won’t have to go to work every day. But I mean, obviously, I know, there are some major concerns. The biggest concern I think I would have as a genealogist, it may cause people not to want to take DNA tests.

Fisher: Yes, yeah.

David: Well, you know, I think after eight years, you know, I work in American Ancestors in Boston. And I also want to tell everyone, that if you want to find me, you can still listen to me on another podcast, VirtualHistorians.com, where we talk more about history than genealogy. And if you're on Twitter, DLGenealogist with the hashtag FamilyHistoireNews, will get you those news stories when I'm not on with Fish retelling some great stories from the past because I know they're going to listen to us over and over again in the reruns.

Fisher: Yes, that's it. There you go, David. All right. Thank you so much. We will do another Ask Us Anything question at the backend of the show. Coming up next, a great segment from earlier this year about DNA being pulled from the air and from footprints on a beach, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 485

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. David Duffy

Fisher: You know, recently there was a fascinating story on CNN about researchers at the University of Florida who have been able to obtain DNA from all kinds of different places, footprints on a beach, permafrost, snow and ice cores, out of the air. And one of the lead researchers on that study is Dr. David Duffy. He is my next guest here from the Whitney laboratory for marine bioscience and Sea Turtle Hospital by the way. Dr. Duffy, welcome to Extreme Genes. It's great to have you.

Dr. Duffy: Thanks, Scott. It’s great to be here.

Fisher: Now, I know that you're doing this research primarily in connection with your work on marine bioscience, but this whole thing of being able to obtain DNA out of a room, the air in a room or from footprints on a beach, that obviously brings up some questions that may come up down the line when we start seeing maybe police getting involved with tracking down criminals or perhaps tracking individuals or groups. A lot of things can come from this, can't they?

Dr. Duffy: Absolutely. So it's quite complicated just how many different doors are potentially opened by these techniques. So, we're hoping that these are used for beneficial applications and that people really can take the time to consider what should and shouldn't be allowed to be used for the sorts of technology, what sorts of investigations or studies should be used.

Fisher: Sure. So, how did you come to the realization that DNA was so available and you could actually obtain it? You were doing some comparisons to animals even to some people and finding, yes, you could identify the DNA of individuals who are volunteers in your group. How did this all come to pass that you made this discovery?

Dr. Duffy: Well, so for over a decade, people have been using environmental DNA to track animals in the wild. So, we know that every organism sheds DNA into its environment, whether that's through skin cells, or scales, hair cells that we lose, so we know that DNA is present. And it's actually been a very useful tool for tracking animals and understanding their movements all without ever having to actually visually see them. So we we've been adopting these techniques to study sea turtles and to study the pathogens of sea turtles from environmental samples. At the same time, we were interested in looking at all of the DNA essentially that we recovered. So, instead of just particular species, also seeing what happens if you look at everything. We expected we would have some human DNA in those early studies, but we were actually shocked to find that in pretty much every sample that we took to let us study sea turtles were recovering some amount of human DNA. And what was really shocking was that there was actually more human DNA in the environment than there was at our institute. So we keep 60 journals to rehabilitate them and release them back into the wild. So, we have sea turtles in tanks at our facility. And we expected obviously, that you will get a little more human DNA in the tank water where these animals are handled and cared for by humans than you were just in a river. But actually we found the complete opposite where there was far more DNA in the environment than in our facilities, tanks. And that was really got us started.

Fisher: Wow!

Dr. Duffy: It was where we started thinking about why is there so much DNA? And is this really true? And that's where we kind of spawned this human focus study to really get a handle on what was going on.

Fisher: You know, it's kind of crazy to think if I walk along the beach with my wife one day that my footprints could actually leave traceable DNA there that somebody could use your technique and actually identify me from that.

Dr. Duffy: Absolutely. So we've been using it to track sea turtles as they come ashore to lay their nests in the sand. We could recover turtle DNA from that sand and without ever having to disturb or even see the turtle. We could get genetic information about where that animal came from. So, it was not much of a leap to realize, well, if it works for sea turtles on a beach, then why wouldn't it work for a human as well?

Fisher: [Laughs] Sure. And then you have the people who are part of your team do the walking and see if you could match them up. And it worked out pretty well. That's crazy!

Dr. Duffy: Yeah, we were able to recover it. We were always surprised at just how much human DNA we got and the quality of that DNA as well. It was really almost as good as taking a blood sample or a tissue sample, in some cases.

Fisher: Wow! So, tell us about the circumstance where you were able to obtain DNA out of the air in a closed room.

Dr. Duffy: Yeah. So DNA has been recovered from water for a long time, from soil, from sand. And it's also been recovered from the air, because people are interested in things like pollen for hay fever studies. But in the last couple of years, people have actually been able to recover DNA from vertebrates of large animals like humans, from the air as well. So, once we realized how much DNA was just been released, one of the things we also wanted to check was, well, how much DNA can you pull from the air for humans. So again, we had some voluntary participants who knew that their DNA would be captured in this way. And we were able to recover the DNA from a room that they were working in, essentially.

Fisher: And so, it was in the air was it, because it was skin cells or it was just because they exhaled and the DNA was released in that manner?

Dr. Duffy: It's probably a mixture of everything. So, it's probably exhaling, it's also releasing skin cells. So we haven’t specifically looked to see which part of our bodies is releasing the most DNA, but we do know that skin has also been shed. And, for instance, in a footprint on the beach, we expect the majority of human DNA is obviously coming from skin cells.

Fisher: Sure

Dr. Duffy: It sheds as you’re walking on the beach. So it's likely that in a room, it's a mix of all of these different sources.

Fisher: Now, in your research on people, have you had occasion yet to try to use any of the commercial websites to compare DNA or is it just strictly done in your lab?

Dr. Duffy: So it is, it is obviously something that we've been tempted to do, because obviously, there's a lot of information in those commercial databases, but it's not something we felt comfortable doing. We're more trying to raise awareness of how feasible this is and how prevalent human DNA is in the environment. And we're hoping to start a societal discussion of what should and shouldn’t be allowed to be investigated. So we didn't go to the level of using these databases, but we do know from the amount of DNA we were able to recover that, at least from prints or samples, where you've got one individual, it's very likely that you will be able to pull a lot of information from those databases. It gets more complicated when you've got mixed samples, like a water sample or room where multiple individuals. So how much this technology can be used for right now kind of depends on what way the sample is taken. If it's a footprint, most of that DNA is going from one individual. So that makes it a little bit easier to make sure.

Fisher: Sure. So, since word got out about your study, have police authorities reached out to you to talk to you about this technique?

Dr. Duffy: So I have had some interest from certain regions. It's more feature forecasting than trying to use it right now. So we did show from all of our samples from water from sand and from air, we were able to do genetic ancestry analysis and show that DNA from the individuals who ended up in that environmental sample, we could identify what the genetic ancestry was. And obviously, for a lot of criminal investigations, you will need to go further, you need to do DNA fingerprinting and identify individuals. So again, if you're talking about a mixed sample, a room that's got a lot of people in it, or a water body where you have lots of people's DNA mixed together. Environmental DNA isn't ideal for that, at least not using current techniques, because what currently is used is lots of individual, small sites from all over the genome, which for an individual sample, like a footprint that might be okay, but for a mixed sample, you need to be sure that you're calling those sites from the same individual. And if your DNA is all mixed together, that's very difficult to do.

Fisher: Right. Well, that's the case in genetic genealogy right now, where they're using, for instance, false teeth or something from a deceased person where the teeth had been handled by someone else. And there are two or three different profiles involved in that. So, it's kind of a challenge there. So, you're having ethical discussions. What are some of the things that people are talking about in terms of, you know, privacy and your concerns? What are the topics and what are the areas of discussion that you're hearing?

Dr. Duffy: Yeah, so we were particularly concerned, obviously, about privacy and issues around even ownership of genetic data. Generally, the person who's that DNA belongs to should be considered the owner. And if you're trying to intentionally take samples that involve an individual giving up some tissue or some blood or whatever it may be to get that DNA, consent is a big issue. You have to have consent to do that. Whereas in environmental sampling, consent is practically impossible, because you don't know exactly how far that DNA has traveled, you don't know exactly who the individuals are who contributed to that DNA are, until potentially you do analysis, and you may be able to find out. So, consent is a big issue. And what I guess most people are worried about is surveillance and privacy as well. So again, it's like doing DNA fingerprinting for ancestry. How much it can be used for surveillance right now is an open question. So, just like surveillance, genetic ancestry, are you're using these regions from all over the genome. So, that doesn't make it particularly easy for mixed samples where you’ve got lots of individuals.

Fisher: Right, right.

Dr. Duffy: Anything that would show, which is something that we're beginning to see more and more in the human medical field is that we've known for a long time that all of our genomes have plenty of regions where you have insertions of additional copies of DNA or deletions of sections of DNA. And there's actually a lot more of these than we anticipated in the human genome. And they are potentially a different way of identifying groups with similar genetic ancestry or potentially even individuals. And that's something that environmental DNA is much better suited for, because what you can do is sequence if you do one long stretch of DNA, you know, that all comes from the same individual. And if we're in that stretch, you see these differences after insertions or deletions that are unique to individuals or unique small groups of individuals. That's potentially another way of identifying. We did show that we can pick these up with environmental DNA. And indeed, some of these are related to specific disease risk as well. And we were able to show that we could identify from environmental DNA some of the diseases that people may have a higher risk from as well.

Fisher: Wow! So there's a lot of benefits then that could come to humankind with also this fear of privacy and surveillance issues?

Dr. Duffy: Absolutely. Because one of the things environmental DNA is already being used for in recent years is to monitor wastewater for human pathogens. So, you can see spikes and pathogens and you know that there's going to be more patients presenting to hospitals and you get like a week or two in advance notice of that by monitoring wastewater, so you can prep your hospitals and get them ready for people to arrive with diseases.

Fisher: Wow!

Dr. Duffy: What we've shown is that at the same time, you could be recovering the human DNA from that water and looking to see, well is this population particularly susceptible to certain pathogens if genetic factors which make you more or less susceptible.

Fisher: He's Dr. David Duffy from the Whitney laboratory for marine bioscience and Sea Turtle Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville. And Dr. Duffy, amazing stuff. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your thoughts.

Dr. Duffy: Thanks, Scott. My pleasure.

Fisher: And coming up next, Diahan Southard and Nathan Dylan Goodwin talking about what they’re going to be doing at RootsTech, in five minutes.

Segment 3 Episode 485

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diahan Southard and Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Fisher: All right, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. And I have two of my best friends in the whole space on as our last regular guests on Extreme Genes this week. That's Diahan Southard your DNA guide. And Nathan Dylan Goodwin, the genealogical thriller writer, and they're teaming up at RootsTech this year. Hey, guys, it's great to have you.

Nathan: Thanks.

Diahan: Thank you.

Fisher: Boy, we got a lot coming up here at RootsTech this year. And let's just start out by talking about your GSI mystery, the murder mystery. You started this last year, and you're expanding it this year. Of course GSI is a little take off on CSI, and it works with genealogy. So where do you want to start with this?

Nathan: Well, I think it started a couple of years ago Diahan and I were doing some webinars together. I think that was your idea, Diahan. And it was about one of my books, and we kind of thought it'd be good fun to partner up. So I kind of talked about some of the creative side of things with the book. And then Diahan would speak about how you could apply that to your own family history, that genetic genealogy side of things. And we did that for a couple of years. We did on DNA Day for two years in a row. And then I think it was Diahan's idea that we kind of said, let's do something, something a bit more next step, you know, like, what can we do kind of an in person thing where we can make this a bit more hands on so people did take part.

Fisher: Right. And last year, you started with GSI sawtooth, which is a play on the name of one of your books. And people can actually see how this works online, right?

Diahan: Yeah, we take the DNA sawtooth event that we did in person, before RootsTech in 2023. And we have now made it a virtual online experience. So anybody can go and solve this mystery themselves using our website. It's GSIEvents.com. And it's super fun that we took all our favorite elements of being in person and we translated those into a virtual space, because we know unfortunately, everybody can't make it to Salt Lake City. So it was a really fun adventure to make that available to anyone. Yeah, that's really exciting.

Fisher: Well, it's always something new with you guys and I love that. So, coming up here at RootsTech, which is just a couple of months away now, GSI Superstition Mountains, talk about that, Nathan.

Nathan: Yes. So we decided to do it again. Because as Diahan said, this year’s one was really popular, and we completely sold out. And the feedback was really overwhelmingly positive everyone. We had a great time, mixture of fun and creativity and learning but lots of hands on experience there for solving a murder. So we thought let's do it again. And this time rather than basing it on a book I've already written, we said let's come up with something completely from scratch. So basically, it's an exclusive story if you like, and it's still part of the Venator Team, so the ones that are involved in my books they’re still working alongside those people that team, but it's an exclusive bespoke event where you have to come along. And again, it's really going to be lots of fun and very creative. And Diahan will be doing some actual teaching and instruction. So you can learn the process of investigative genetic genealogy, but in a fun way, and in a way that you can hopefully learn some techniques to apply it to your own genetic genealogy research. So come along to this event, and it'll be lots of fun. And you'll learn lots. It’s the night before RootsTech, which I think is the 28th of February.

Fisher: Yeah. And I like that. I think the idea is that, you know, a lot of people might look at this and say, Oh, if it's at RootsTech itself, it might get in the way of classes or some presentations. But to do it the night before, what a great way to set the tone. And, Diahan, you've got some amazing prizes too lined up for this as you did last year.

Diahan: Absolutely. So, one of the best things about being in the genealogy industry for so many years is I have lots of friends and so does Nathan. And so we had a lot of support from our DNA testing companies and some other fun genealogy vendors that I will keep a secret maybe for a little bit longer, but we've got some great vendors lined up that are going to give you prizes for coming. So it's, it's a whole evening of activities. We provide dinner, and you come and you meet other people that you can relate to and you have fun with. And what I think I like the most is how tactile it is, you know, so much of our genealogy research nowadays is online, it's actually fun to handle documents. And to get up and move about the room a little bit, somebody at your table will be in charge of kind of being your rover. And you may have to go get something from one side of the room and bring it back to your table. And you do some things all together as a table. You do other things individually. Your cells will do other things as a complete full group. So, there's just a lot of different kinds of activities to appeal to people, no matter how they like to learn.

Fisher: Oh, I like this. So, it's like setting up your own archive and library and whatever else to find the documents right there. Like we used to do it a long time ago back in the battle days, right? [Laughs]

Diahan: Yeah.

Nathan: Yes.

Fisher: You know, last year, you limited the number of people who could attend, and it's sold out, boom. And so I know you're bringing the number up a little bit right now, what are we limiting to this year?

Nathan: So we're limiting kind of around the 150 mark, and we're about a third sold now. So, if people want to come along, they need to go to GSIEvents.com to secure their tickets.

Fisher: All right, that's good to know. And then let's just talk about RootsTech a little bit because you both got things going there. Diahan, tell us about your plan for RootsTech, the big conference in Salt Lake City.

Diahan: Yeah, so RootsTech is always so much fun. And it was a lot of fun last year to be back in person. And we geared up again to do that again. So I'll be giving several lectures. But personally, I'll be doing four lectures that are a series, kind of taking you from the very beginning of your DNA testing experience all the way through next steps and application. So again, if you want to, you can come to all four or you can pick and choose the ones that are best for you. I'll also be hosting a panel discussion to celebrate the 25th year of genetic genealogy, which is insane.

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: It's so exciting. So lots of fun things planned for that. And then of course, I will be teaming up again with Crista Cowan and Janet Hovorka for our search party adventure. And that is going to be an interactive class actually, that we'll be giving at RootsTech. So lots of fun classes. Plus, of course, we'll have our booth I just released our workbook, which is the companion to your DNA Guide, the book. So, I've made a workbook to make it even easier to take action when you're reading the book. So we'll have that for sale. It's an exciting time. I love RootsTech.

Fisher: Yeah, I do too. It's crazy leading up to it. And then you go through that whole thing. You're exhausted your feet hurt at the end of it because there's so much to go see. And then of course Nathan, you've got a booth too, because there are a lot of people who have still not discovered your incredible genealogical thriller books, murder mysteries, and all kinds of stuff that's taken place over centuries and it's brilliant the way you bounce between the present day and the past and how you weave these things together. It's really quite unique.

Nathan: Yeah, I completely love it. And as Diahan said, I also love RootsTech, and it's great to be back. I haven't done anything at all from RootsTech 2020 just before lockdown. I hadn't done any in person face to face shows or anything until RootTech this year. And so it was really lovely to be back and meet old friends and make new ones. And yeah, so I've got my booth. I’m chained to it as I generally can't leave because it's so busy.

Fisher: Yes.

Nathan: And I'll be selling my books there. So yes, again, people are planning on coming in come and find me. I don't have the booth number or anything yet, but I will be there.

Fisher: There you go. You can make a new friend with Nathan. I'm sure you'll sign books and you have a lot, how many books have you written so far?

Nathan: Oh, I can't even keep track now. So I've got two independent Venator series. They're the ones where it's investigative genealogy set in America. And then in the Morton series, which are the ones set in the UK with Morton Ferrier as the main genealogists solving crimes in the past, I've just released the 10th book actually to coincide with 10 years since the first book.

Fisher: Wow!

Nathan: Yeah. That's called the Deserters Tale. And that's now out in Kindle and just come out in Hardback last week. So I'll have all those there. So people can come along and get the books come and meet me. Come say hello.

Fisher: I would dare say that both you and Diahan are really easy to find at RootsTech. And I look forward to seeing you both at that time. Thanks for coming on. And thanks for the update on what's going on with GSI. It's going to be a great event once again at RootsTech.

Diahan: Excellent, thanks Scott.

Nathan: Thank you for having us.

Fisher: You betcha. All right, take care of you guys. Coming up next David Allen Lambert returns for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 485

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David over there. All right, David. This is our last question. So, it says, “Hi Fish and Dave. I was dismayed to hear about your imminent semi retirement, Fish, but it did spur me to get off the dime and send in my Ask Us Anything question while I still had the chance. Here it is. My five times great grandfather, William Schuyler of Hunterdon County, New Jersey, enlisted in the neighboring Bucks County Pennsylvania militia, and later the second German regiment of the continental line under the alias, Peter Fourtner or “Fourt-nay.” He applied for his pension listing both his alias and his given name and was successfully awarded his pension. My question is, why would anyone enlist in the Revolutionary War under an alias? Bob Goode.” All right, here we go. You're the military guy. What do you have to say to Bob?

David: Well, you know, Bob, there's a couple of things here that could be coming into play. One, there could be some criminal activity that he is leaving someplace, maybe he owes a debt, or he's leaving a previous spouse.

Fisher: Ah!

David: Or he's a young man and he doesn't have permission to enlist.

Fisher: That's an idea.

David: Well, you know, aliases are an interesting thing. I mean, just in general.

Fisher: Sure.

David: I mean, in the military, you can have a possibility of an alias. But most of the times you see it, it's because it's a substitute, because by the War of 1812 and the Civil War, more people are paying others to serve in their stead if you could afford it. So, you may sign up as John Josephson, and you're really Thomas Green, in that the name is scratched out in a muster roll or maybe something is confused. And when you go to get your pension, it can cause problems. Didn't you have a problem with one of your War of 1812?

Fisher: Yes, my ancestor, Samuel Downs. He was a third great. He was in the War of 1812. And he applied for a pension. And he said he used the name, John Agar. But he was a substitute for John Agar. And so, his own name wasn't on the rolls of the company that he enlisted in. So, I'm thinking that maybe that was the case with this guy. Maybe William Schuyler actually was a substitute for Peter Fourtner.

David: You know, it's interesting. I had something similar happened at a pension for my wife's third great grandfather. He enlisted in the US Navy in Massachusetts as James A. Buckley, goes off to war.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Comes back, finds that his wife has a young child while he was at war. He divorces her, gets the divorce, goes to Quebec, gets married under a new name. So, he was James A Buckley. Never knew what the A is, but I'm wondering, because he became Alfred James, but dropped Buckley completely. And then, goes out to Denver and becomes a silver miner. Confusing as to why aliases were chosen. In his case, it's not like he was leaving his wife. He divorced her.

Fisher: Right.

David: So you almost have to hope that diaries and journals or court cases, I mean, depositions occasionally will list people with an alias. I have an ancestor in 17th century New Hampshire, Mary Hilton, alias, Downer. Well, was that her maiden name? Was it a previous husband?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: You know, so you see this occasionally in court records in the colonial era, 19th century, too.

Fisher: I would suggest to Bob that he start researching the alias and see if there was a Peter Fourtner or something similar to that either in William Schuyler's home area of Hunterdon County, New Jersey or in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, because weren’t people paid in the Revolution to substitute also?

David: In the Continental Army, it's possible. I don't know of many cases. It's more so the War of 1812 and more so, the Civil War.

Fisher: Sure.

David: You know what the other thing is? When you get those Ancestry DNA results, does that surname show up?

Fisher: Ah! Yeah, good idea. Great stuff! And Bob, thank you so much, because that's our last question. But we’ve got one more segment left to go to say our final goodbyes. Now of course, over the holidays, we're going to have a couple of shows come out from the past as we've always done, and then things will change when we get to January. So, back with more coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 485

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: Wow, I cannot believe it. Here we go, final, final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family history Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David over there. And David, we're not going to get, do we hear about anything? Oh, easy, easy does it.

David: Sorry. I'll pull it together.

Fisher: All right. [Laughs] There's so many people who have made this show possible over the last decade, and a couple behind the scenes that you never hear their names, but they're always there. First one comes to mind, Ryan Bennett. Ryan has been the guy who has actually taken the show and assembled it and posted it every week for over 10 years. He has been with me from the very beginning. And you'll often see his name on the podcast and you'll go, “Who's that Ryan Bennett guy?” Well, he's the guy who's put the show together for us. Also, Taahira Ebrahim, who has been our amazing transcriber, starting in 2015. We started having every show transcribed, so you could actually search the show through her work. And then she even went back and did the previous two years. So, we've got an entire transcription for the entire library that you can find online. And we've had so many amazing longtime regular guests. Maureen Taylor, Sonny Morton, Diane southern, Dr. Scott Woodward, Judy Russell Thomas McEntee, Dr. Blaine Bettinger, Nathan Dylan Goodwin, CeCe Moore, Crista Cowan, Paul Woodbury, Ron Fox, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Melanie McComb, Melissa Barker. Then I think of the celebrities, David that we've had on over the years and we've had a few and it's really been fun to hear their take on it and how fascinated some of them are, especially Apolo Anton Ohno, the skater of the Olympic champion, who came on and talked about researching his family in Japan and he was passionate! I ran into him at a studio in Salt Lake City one day and he was doing something else. And I said, “When you're done interviewing with them, you need to come talk with me.”And we got in and knocked out a great couple of segments, talking about his ancestry and how much he loved it. He was just passionate. My old friend, Steve Young, the Hall of Fame quarterback.

David: Oh yeah.

Fisher: He came on the show. We had Butch Patrick from The Munsters.

David: Right.

Fisher: Talking about some of the things that he remembers from his childhood. That was really fun. Samuel Roukin and Heather Lind, both from, Turn: Washington Spies. Marilu Henner. Remember, we were in New York and we were doing the world's largest family reunion. And she is the woman who remembers everything and everyone. She has that super memory, so I'm sure she has great memories of our time with her on Extreme Genes. We've had Derek Hough and Patricia Heaton on .And then there are the believers, like my wife Julie, who's had my back this entire time. Rod Arquette, the program director at KNRS Radio in Salt Lake City, he is still there. And he believed in the concept right from the start, gave us a time slot and that was the first station to carry Extreme Genes. Jessica Taylor, the founder and president of Legacy Tree Genealogists who has sponsored us for so long. Tom Perry, our first sponsor, longtime contributor, always talking about preservation. Paul Nada, Steve Rockwood, Shipley Munson over at Family Search all the folks at NEHGS, our friends at Ancestry and My Heritage and 23AndMe and BYU TV. And of course, all of you, our listeners who have given us so much. I have learned so much from this, David. It's just unbelievable. I am a fount, a wealth of knowledge now as a result of all the experts and all the individuals who have contributed thoughts and ideas and all kinds of things. And of course, you, my friend, have been such a great help and helping us line up guests and providing content and your expertise in so many areas. And well, it's not goodbye. It certainly is so long for now. We'll be back. I'm certainly going to be covering RootsTech. We're going to have some interviews for you online there. And, of course, there's 485 shows. This is our 485th episode, lots of information there that will forever remain relevant to your searches for your ancestors. And we wish you well in your journey with that. David thanks much. We'll talk to you again soon.

David: Thanks to you, my friend for getting me involved and giving me it quite an adventure, until later.

Fisher: All right, and thanks to you once again. And remember, you can always catch the podcast. We are all over the place. Talk to you again soon. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!

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