Episode 6 – Extreme World War I Genes

podcast episode Aug 23, 2013

On this weeks show, Fisher reviews family history news including a British man who retraced his World War I ancestor’s path on the battlefield right down to a very specific and remarkable site. Dr. Scott Woodward visits with Fisher on DNA testing.

Transcript of Episode 6

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 6

Fisher: Welcome back! You have found us Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth and so glad to have you here this week. We have a lot to talk about and some great guests today, including Dr Scott Woodward who is a pioneer in DNA use for family history research and I cannot wait to talk to him a little bit later. Hey, we need Likes on our Facebook page. Have you done this yet? Make sure you go to our website ExtremeGenes.com. We’ll keep you up to date with all the latest news that’s going on there. And then of course there’s the link to the Facebook page, and we can stay in touch throughout the week because the radio show is only an hour but ExtremeGenes.com is 24/7. This is all brought to you of course by TMC, The Multimedia Centers preserving your memories for over 40 years. On the website this week, very exciting stuff, 70 years after the holocaust there has been a reunion between a woman who is 95 years old and members of her family she didn’t even know existed. As you can imagine with   all that happened during the holocaust families were separated, people were killed, people moved away, folks had left early. In her case she had some family members who had left before WWI to come over to America. And she just happened in a casual conversation to make this mention to her granddaughter-in-law who, with the town, trying to find out where these relatives might be today and she found them up the coast on the East Coast. And they all got in touch and what an amazing story it is, so much detail to it. You’ll want to read it at ExtremeGenes.com

We also have the anniversary of the First World War coming up next year. It will be 100 years since the beginning of it and by the time we get to 2018 celebrating the end of it, there will be a lot of WWI stories that we may not have heard. People are already over in Europe actually looking at different places, sites, battle sites where their ancestors have fought and we have the story of one such man on our website ExtremeGenes.com right now. And it’s amazing to me that he could actually find the very bunker where his grandfather fought and actually wound up winning the Victoria Cross for his bravery and the story of what he did on that battlefield is absolutely amazing. And when you get down to it you realize that there are a lot of things that these people are doing like this man researching his grandfather that we can do as well, especially as we honor those who fought in the First World War. Gee! The last veteran of that only died one year or two ago, 108 years old, the last surviving soldier of any of the armies in the world that participated. Also, an Ohio man with a passion for restoring tombstones, he is the subject of a TV story that we’ve linked to on our website ExtremeGenes.com. Back in Ohio this is his passion. He goes around and finds broken tombstones whether it’s related to his people or someone else’s and goes about collecting the pieces like a little jigsaw puzzle and putting all kinds of epoxy together and putting it back in place, and it’s a beautiful story and he actually shows you how to do it. So, if you had any inclination to go and repair tombstones this would be the place to go. It’s on our website ExtremeGenes.com. Love this one from Washington State. Somebody goes and picks up a dresser in an antiques store, and inside it actually finds a write-up on a family history that somebody had put together and had made mention of some cousins. The person who bought this particular piece of furniture went on the Internet and sought out cousins related to the people mentioned in this story and found a couple of them, one of them 93 years old, thinking that he would never know anything further about his family. And you’ve got to read this one too, very touching with stories about people that went back into the 1870s, but imagine that they actually knew the person who wrote the thing. They’ve dropped out of touch and this manuscript winds up in an antiques store and then all the stories back in their hands which has really enhanced what they know about their families, so check it out.

Poll results from last week. We were asking about whether or not you descended from Adam. Well, of course I think most of us realize we do. But, do you have one of those purported lines that has been documented? Well, 70% of you said yes. I know I’ve got one in my family, and as we learned from Gordon Remington from Progenealogists.com last week, “Not so fast.” A lot of problems with that line and the history of it is absolutely amazing. If you missed the show last week you’ll want to go onto ExtremeGenes.com and catch the podcast on it. It was really fun. Also, talked about the fake crest, the Coat of Arms and all those things that were involved with that from over in England, Gordon has amazing insight on these things so check that out as well. New poll up for this week having to do with our guest coming up in just a few minutes, Dr Scott Woodward a DNA pioneer, “What kind of DNA test have you done so far? You can answer None, Why, Mitochondria or Autosomal.” 

And DNA testing is the most exciting thing of course going on in family history right now, so you’re going to want to catch our visit with Dr Woodward coming up in just a few minutes. A couple of days ago I stumbled on this from Quilcene, Washington. Police up there arrested an alleged bank robber. This is his name. I’m not making this up. Ulysses Corwin Nevermissashot. [Laughs] That is his real name. He is actually being held in connection to a November robbery of a bank teller at gunpoint. Yes, Nevermissashot did not fire any shots in the alleged robbery, but he fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. They tied forensic evidence to him and namely a smouldering hand rolled cigarette found near the bank that carried his DNA. See? Smoking is bad for you. And a black plastic bag that he dropped at the scene also had a fingerprint. So, it was the first time the bank had ever been robbed, certainly by anybody named Nevermissashot. I went online. I was like, “I’ve never heard this name in all my years of researching.” I have never run across a family name like that. And sure enough it was out there and a Native American name. Who knew? So, I was looking for some other bizarre names that you might run into. I do remember this one. There was a man in our neighborhood back in the day whose name was spelled like this. He wanted it pronounced otherwise. Mr Smelly didn’t want to be called Mr Smelly. He wanted to be called Mr Smeely [Laughs] which makes perfect sense, but as kids we all giggled at him anyway. Then there’s the Shufflebottom family because you know most bottoms come from the bottom of the valley. And so the Shufflebottoms, I’m sure did, but nonetheless, in this day and age that just comes across all wrong. There are the Dumbworths and the Gotobed family. And that would be really confusing as a child. “Go to bed Gotobed.” So there you go. Maybe you have some more bizarre names that you can share on our Facebook page with ExtremeGenes.com. “Who Do You Think You Are?” this past week on Tuesday on TLC with Zooey Deschanel the actress and I’ve got to tell you we’ve seen stories on that show now that have linked people back to cheaters, to Nazis and that was actually pretty recent. And now here’s Zooey Deschanel finding out that she had an ancestor Sarah Henderson Pownall who lived her life as an abolitionist. And during the Civil War she did her part to help slaves escape their fate, provided them with food. The story had extensive documentation, detailed recordings of all kinds of events, minutes for meetings, articulate essays and then here is the thing that as a researcher just blew my mind and that is that John Wilkes Booth, the guy who of course later assassinated President Lincoln and he was very aware of what had taken place on that farm where Sarah Henderson Pownall was working to free these slaves. He was so upset by it that he wrote about his anger and he carried letters about his with him. Unbelievable! Wouldn’t that be something to know that your ancestor had angered John Wilkes Booth who was so devoted to the South? Chris O’Donnell is going to be up next on Tuesday on TLC next week’s edition of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Hey, when you go to our website ExtremeGenes.com do not forget about our “Find Line.” It is toll free 1-234-56 GENES, 1-234-5 GENES which is 43637. Easy to remember it this way, but you can call and you can share your stories, your discoveries, whatever it is you think is pretty exciting for yourself and anybody else willing to listen and we are those people. We’d love to hear all about it. Coming up for you here in just a few minutes, a pioneer in DNA research Dr Scott Woodward joins us in the studio. He’s got the latest on where DNA research is going on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 6

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr Scott Woodward

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com brought to you by TMC, the Multimedia Centers Preserving your Memories for over Forty Years. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher along with my special guest Dr Scott Woodward. I guess I’d call you a Pioneer, Scott, in DNA because the first time I met you, which was many years ago, and you would never have any recollection of this, you drew my blood to get DNA. What year would that have been roughly?

Scott: That was at least a decade ago. 

Fisher: [Laughs] At least. 

Scott: At least. You know we’ve moved a long ways from that. But when we started, a decade or more ago trying to connect genealogy with the sciences of DNA and genetics, it really was a pioneer in effort I think. There weren’t very many people out there that were really looking at that. But since that time there’s been a tremendous amount of growth in both our ability to analyze that DNA, to collect that DNA. We no longer collect blood.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

Scott: We can do it from a cheek swab, a spit of saliva, a lot of different ways to be able to analyze DNA. 

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: And we have literally tens of thousands, even hundred thousands of people now that have been tested with various DNA tests that can be connected and looked at for connections.

Fisher: Well, I do remember back in those times when the story was brand new, it was like, wow, we can take our blood, we can tell maybe who you’re from, maybe who you’re tied into, but it was a long time before we heard anything back about anything, because you were still getting a certain level of samples together to begin to come to certain conclusions. And that wasn’t that long ago. And from where we are now with analyzing clades and all these different backgrounds and movements of populations, it’s astonishing.

Scott: You’re right. It needed a certain critical mass to be able to get some data back to the individuals.

Fisher: I’m realizing that I was a pioneer! I was a part of that. He was sucking my blood to figure this out.

Scott: [Laughs] You were a pioneer as well.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right.

Scott: And that’s what we told these people when we started out a decade ago was that you know, we’re not going to be able to give you any results back right now because there aren’t any results to be had. 

Fisher: You had a certain goal you were going to hit, I remember.

Scott: a hundred thousand.      

Fisher: That’s right.

Scott: We were after a hundred thousand individuals. We met that goal but it was long before a hundred thousand people that we realized that this was going to work. 

Fisher: Um hmm.

Scott: At the beginning we thought that we were going to need a hundred thousand people, just to see whether or not the process would work. 

Fisher: And these were folks all over the world as I recall.

Scott: Yes. 

Fisher: And so you were going to different populations and different continents and in different regions within those continents, to try to identify what moved to where potentially, right?

Scott: Yes. And it wasn’t just that. We also had some very strict requirements on the individuals that we collected for the database. We needed them to donate their DNA but we also needed additional information from them. We needed genealogical information.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: We needed parents, grandparents, great grandparents.

Fisher: But you needed places even more.

Scott: Places of birth of those individuals so that we could place the genes that we could get from your DNA into those various places in the past, so that when an unknown person came in that didn’t know anything about who they were or where they came from, we could compare their DNA with these pools of DNA that we collected, and say where do they best fit in. And that’s what needed the hundred thousand or so to go.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: But we realized by the time we hit twenty thousand that hey, this is going to work.

Fisher: This is happening, yeah.

Scott: And there were some populations that we could answer questions for right then. 

Fisher: Well, and as I recall at the time, and talking to others who were interested in doing this, you know, we knew you were coming by, you were going to do these sampling, people were like, “They’re going to take my DNA? I mean, what are they going to do with that?” 

Scott: [Laughs]

Fisher: I mean there was a big privacy concern that I just don’t see people dealing with now.

Scott: That’s correct. There was, and there needs to continue to be, a very strict privacy and confidentiality requirement placed on these DNA samples. But as people became more and more educated about what we could and could not do with your DNA, people became much more amenable to the idea of collecting their DNA, putting them in data sets, and databases to be able to reconstruct genealogy. So today there’s not as many concerns as there were early on. But we still try and maintain that level of security and privacy and confidentiality of your samples because we realize that it’s a very valuable piece of who you are.

Fisher: So let me ask you this then, we see those numbers up on websites Ancestry.com Family Tree DNA those are not things that you’re concerned about obviously for privacy because pretty much anybody can see these longs lists of who you match up with, with names. That’s not the kind of privacy you’re concerned about, yes?

Scott: That’s correct. Because most of the people who are participating, well, all of the people who are participating, in genealogical services or DNA for genealogical services, are looking for matches. They’re looking for people who match with them. Those numbers that you see that are up on these websites are good numbers, good DNA pieces that can be used to connect people together but they don’t give you much information about any...

Fisher: Medical stuff.

Scott: Exactly, medical predispositions or anything like that. And so those are left out. Those aren’t public.

Fisher: Is there anybody who could actually come along and look at those numbers and say, “Ah ha! He has a seven in this position therefore this is a person with an inclination towards...” you know, whatever it is. There really isn’t any concern about that, is there?

Scott: The easy answer to that is no. And then you have to condition that because I’m a scientist that says well, maybe there’s some small possibility that someone could derive something from that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: But that would be extremely rare.

Fisher: So from that very early study that you were doing that I was privileged to be a part of, I was very excited about it until you all just went away for the longest time [Laughs] until you got those samples up. It is a thrill to see the communities that are out there that have developed around this science. Including professors and doctors like yourself who are actually there to just kind of consult and they love kind of visiting with people and sharing their insight on what they see in their numbers. 

Scott: A little more than a decade ago, in fact, this started on August 11th of 1999, at least my involvement at this. So we’re fifteen, fourteen years now. This industry or this discipline didn’t exist. 

Fisher: Right.

Scott: It just didn’t exist. And so we’re talking fifteen years to build this community or sets of communities throughout the world now, which are actively engaged in searching for ancestors and connections using genetic information.

Fisher: Can you give us a story or two about a connection that interests you?

Scott: There are literally dozens of them, but one just with my wife, there’s always been the family story that there was African American heritage in her lineage. And this has just been a story because we’ve never been able to find any documentation that would support that story. But we had some suspicions about where on the line that may have been. 

Fisher: Did you have photographs?

Scott: No photographs until just recently. But the photographs actually came after the fact of what I’m going to tell you. But there were some names and some possibilities. My wife is from Missouri and we thought we knew where this African American may have come in. There was a story of perhaps a mulatto that was in this line.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Scott: I mean we completely hit dead ends as far as documentation and what might be going on there. And so when we looked at her DNA and her father’s DNA, which then matched on certain parts using autosomal tests, this autosomal test actually came from Ancestry.com it was very clear that both in her father and in my wife there were the percentages of African American alleles of autosomal genes that were present that would suggest exactly the correct generation that we thought that this person was half African.

Fisher: Wow.

Scott: And it fit almost too good. Almost like Mendel's keys. I mean, you look at those numbers and you say you know this is a setup. Someone set this up.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Scott: But that’s exactly what it was. So we now have a lot of supporting evidence from the genetics that say yes, the family stories in fact were correct. Let’s dig those out of the closet. Let’s look a little more closely at those and see where that leads us. Since that time we have found the pictures. We have found other documentation that would suggest that we’re correct and we’re down the right road.

Fisher: So as a scientist though, it’s very hard for you ever to say, “This is it. This is correct. This is the person.” But when you look at it as a genealogist because obviously you are, you take that as just one piece of the evidence right, and then you put it all together, you get the story and you realize this couldn’t fail to be that person.  

Scott: It’s very difficult for me to say absolute.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right. In anything you do.

Scott: But I will go to 99.8 on this one.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay. Well, that’s pretty extreme for you. I like that, Extreme Genes right there. We’re talking to Dr Scott Woodward a pioneer and DNA research for family history work. And we’re going to find out from him next where all this is going. We’ve kind of covered the history of where it’s been over the last fourteen years, how it all started. What is the next big thing? We’ll find out next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com

Segment 3 Episode 6

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Scott Woodward

Fisher: Welcome back genies to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. I’m your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher. It’s all brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers preserving your memories for over 40 years. We’ve got Dr Scott Woodward in the studio with us today, a pioneer in DNA research. I first met him about 13/14 years ago when he’d sucked my blood out and said, “You’re never going to hear from me for years because we don’t have enough samples.” And since then a lot of things have happened. We just went through some of the history of all of the things that’s happened since that time. Let’s get caught up to date Dr Woodward. Where has it gone since then? 

Scott: It is amazing to look back and see where we were and where we are today when we first started out.

Fisher: That was a Y test, was it not?

Scott: Yeah, well we first started out looking at autosomal genes and which we’ll come back to in just a minute, which you’ll hear some more and I’ll explain a little bit more about it in a minute. We knew that the big stuff that would cover your entire pedigree chart was found in an autosomal DNA which is the DNA that you inherit 50% from mom and 50% from dad. But along the way we got side tracked a little bit because there were two other DNA systems that are much more simple in their inheritance. There is the Y-chromosome DNA that comes down essentially unchanged from father to son to grandson and down through the generations and it follows surnames in Western populations, so it was a very easy genetic system to follow and it was a very easy DNA system to follow. And so we got side tracked for a little while building some of that data. Likewise, there’s another piece of DNA on the mother’s side. Mitochondrial DNA, that comes exclusively from our mothers and we could trace the extreme maternal line of our ancestry. But, when you do that both the extreme maternal line and the extreme paternal line you only get two individuals as each generation as we go back in the past we get back to having you know, 32 or 64 ancestors. We’re only dealing with two of those using Y or Mitochondrial DNA, and so it’s not very inclusive.

Fisher: But that did get us some speculation about the original mother back here and the original father back here, not necessarily that they were together, but some common ancestry, right?

Scott: Yes, and that was a huge advantage, and it answered a number of very specific   questions that people had. If we had cousins, or let’s say we had two individuals with the same surname but we had no genealogical proof, we wouldn’t have any written documentation to say that these two men descended from the same ancestor, but there were some hints perhaps by comparing their DNA and their Y-chromosome we could answer that question and say yes, they in fact do come from the same ancestor. Therefore, keep looking on these lines because they’re going to come together. 

Fisher: At some point, and you can kind of predict the generations.

Scott: How many generations back that was going to happen.

Fisher: Right. 

Scott: Or you could say you know, no these two do not belong to the same paternal line. So that means there was what we call a non-paternal event.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] It didn’t happen.

Scott: Or these names are shared for some other reason as we come down.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: Likewise in the maternal line.

Fisher: We’ll get back to that. A lot of names just come from places and they don’t have anything to do with families.

Scott: Yeah, if we look at surnames and you look at the history of humanity, names have been only a small part of that. 

Fisher: Right.

Scott: And especially surnames have only been a small part of that. And even today, if you look at Scandinavian surnames, I mean they’re derived from you know, John the son of Soren.

Fisher: Right. Hinky, Dinky, Thinky, Stinky’s son. [Laughs]

Scott: Right, and Soren the son of John and so on.

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: So we see that patronymic name in process that happens in Scandinavian countries. And so, DNA actually helped us and Y-chromosome DNA actually helped us unravel some of those parts, because if you’re looking back in your traditional genealogy the names change at every generation when you go back so far.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: And so it’s very difficult sometimes to chase those.

Fisher: Well, it’s still a great tool.

 Scott: And so it is. Y-chromosome is a tremendous tool. Mitochondrial is a tremendous tool. But really, the “holy grail” of DNA and genealogy lies in the autosomal tests. When we started 15/14 years ago we were looking at autosomal markers, but we were looking at a couple of hundred autosomal markers at the time. It was enough to be able to say something two, three, four generations in the past with a certain degree of confidence. But today, just a decade later, we literally look at hundreds of thousands of markers on each person’s DNA. It allows us to increase our confidence levels into 98/99% confidence with first and second and third cousins, 95% with fourth and fifth cousins, and 90% with sixth to eighth cousins.

Fisher: Wow!

Scott: I mean, it really allows us to look at some very, very interesting relationships that may be out there that we don’t see on our traditional pedigree chart because they don’t go that deep. They’re just right at the edge of what we call genealogical time. Most of us around here can trace our genealogy back two, three, four generations, but then we sort of end.

Fisher: There are some areas that are always a brick wall. 

Scott: Right.

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: And what this autosomal DNA will allow us to do is sometimes break right through those brick walls, sometimes jump over the tops of those brick walls a couple of generations to a common ancestor and then we have to come back and fill in the bits and pieces between the past and the present. But, it’s been a tremendous tool for connecting people together.

Fisher: Now, when I look at say, Ancestry.com and I’ll get a match that will say okay your sixth to eighth cousin, it will say low confidence. You were just saying though back there we could be at 90% confidence. Is that considered low?

Scott: Yeah.  

Fisher: Really? [Laughs] Is that right?

Scott: [Laughs] Most of those confidences are closer around 50 to 60%. And that’s where the low confidence comes in as we move back in the past but some of those are going to get higher. What happens is as we go back you will get a confidence, an actual confidence score, but there’s going to be this error bar that surrounds it. And the deeper we go in the past the wider that error bar becomes. And so that’s how the low confidence or medium confidence or high confidence comes in. It depends on how much wither room there might be in that realm.

Fisher: How is that valuable then at that point if the confidence is that low?

Scott: It’s going to give you some hints. Some of those are absolutely going to be correct.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott: A smaller percentage of those are going to be erroneous. And the reason they are going to be erroneous is because you came and your ancestors came from certain populations. And those populations may have lived together for a long time and had certain frequencies of these markers that we look at but the individuals within those populations may not have been very closely related to each other but they all share the same types of markers.

Fisher: For that community.

Scott: For that community.   

Fisher: Right.

Scott: And so we can say something using autosomal DNA about a couple of different questions, exact matches with individuals. And do we have a match? Do you and I have a common ancestor or a single person or a single couple back in the past that we share?

Fisher: You can prove it in terms of saying oh it’s on both of our trees and we’re within certain amount of cousins’ relationship. That kind of verifies that we are related.

Scott: These are two words that make me uncomfortable, verify and proof.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: But you certainly get a lot of new evidence 

Fisher: See, what we’re talking about here, you’re listening to a scientist, people. 

Scott: [Laughs]

Fisher: There’s never any proof, but the percentages has got to start to reach the point where somebody has to make a call here you know. So, I’m sorry Doctor, go ahead. Continue on. [Laughs]

Scott: And if you won’t tell anybody, I have pencilled in a few people in my genealogy based on percentages, 95%.

Fisher: [Laughs] well you could also go the other way and say all right I can also prove it so it couldn’t be anybody else.

Scott: It’s actually a lot…well, you can do.

Fisher: Right?

Scott: Well, you can do that.

Fisher: Deductive.

Scott: You can work that way also.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Scott: One of the things that you can prove.

Fisher: [Laughs] He’s breaking out in a sweat.

Scott: [Laughs] If it’s not correct we don’t have a common ancestor. That’s a lot easier to say.

Fisher: Yes.

Scott: We don’t have a common ancestor, but the second thing that we can tell from autosomal DNA is something about the populations that we came from. So, when we look at genealogy charts, we’re looking for names and places and dates and singular people that fit on those charts. But, there’s other things about who we are. Where did our genes come from? What populations were they a part of in 1850 or 1720? For instance, my genes, I can trace them back using populations using my genealogy, but I can also trace them back into populations by comparing my DNA with the populations that we’ve constructed of people that lived back in the past by combining the genealogies with the DNA, and so we can get something that we might call ethnicities. I don’t like that word personally, but I’m not sure what to use instead. But we can tell what percentage British Isles, Central European, Scandinavian, Persian, Northern African, African that we have in our genes set. And that’s the type of information that we use to look at my wife’s question. Was there an African American in the recent past? And it happens to be you know, four generations in the past, but yes it was there, and we have some pretty strong evidence that says these are in fact genes that arrived from Africa at this time.

Fisher: Okay, so the question is, did you pencil her in your genealogy that way at that percent?

Scott: That’s the one I did. [Laughs] 

Fisher: [Laughs] You’ve concluded in your own mind at least that you know, this other side of you. 

Scott: Remember there were some other evidence also. You know, there were some other circumstantial evidence.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right, but that’s why it’s just one of the pieces isn’t it?

Scott: Exactly.

Fisher: And at some point you make the call. 

Scott: One of the things we fall into a trap with DNA sometimes is that it’s absolute. We look at some of our television programs, CSI, NCIS and this is the guy and there’s nobody else in the world that could be the guy. And you know, there is a place for DNA, for things like that. The way that we use it in genealogy it’s really very, very strong hints and say this is a strong likelihood.

Fisher: And then you put it all together and you make your call.

Scott: Exactly.

Fisher: Yeah, awesome. All right Dr Woodward, a couple of minutes left here, where’s it all going? What can we look forward to seeing from DNA in the near future?

Scott: I’m really excited to be able to say in the next couple of years we are going to be able to take your DNA and know nothing about you. Okay, this is a person who knows nothing about their parentage and be able to sit down and say we know that your genes were in this place in 1950 and this place in 1900, in this place in 1850, And not only were they in those locations at that time, but here are the group of people that were in those places at that time and these are the descendants from those people that you are most closely related to and they’re your cousins. You don’t know that yet but now you can meet them.

Fisher: So, I have my dad’s mother’s side, all English, and both of the great grandfathers are brick walls, have been for me for 30 years. I can’t get anywhere with that. So, basically what I’m understanding you to say is that I may be able to find cousins from those branches that will help me pinpoint maybe what their names really were [Laughs] because I think they have changed them, and where they were from?

Scott: Yes. That’s what I think we’re looking forward to in the next couple of years. 

Fisher: Wow! Well, we sure look forward to learning more about that because it sounds not as phenomenal as it is where it is right now from where we were predicting so many years ago. It is amazing where it’s been and thank you so much for all you’ve done to make this possible because it’s a whole new world with DNA and it’s changed the whole game for family history research. Dr Scott Woodward joining us today on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com, Tom Perry joins us next from TMC, The Multimedia Centers.

Segment 4 Episode 6

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. All brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers in Salt Lake City, preserving your memories for over forty years. And Mr. TMC himself is here, Tom Perry. Hi Tom, welcome back.

Tom: Glad to be back. Another Sunday, beautiful Sunday.

Fisher: Oh yeah. And you know, we were just talking about DNA and then you were telling me off the air that you've actually got an upcoming opportunity with that, because you're trying to tie in with another family.

Tom: Exactly. In fact, we've sent in, we did a thing with Sorenson and we got our DNA and it shows you all these markers and stuff, but the interesting thing is, back in the day when adoption wasn't cool, and we found out in like '78, I was the youngest of our family, youngest of five kids, so I would have been about 22, and we found out my dad was adopted! We had no idea.

Fisher: Ha!

Tom: We found out he was adopted. He didn't know he was adopted. So we started doing research and stuff like this. And not only was he adopted, we found out we were all raised LDS. We found out that both his parents were Jewish. One of them was a German Jew. One of them was a Russian Jew. And so, we've been trying to find his family. We found some social security cards, some different things like this. We're putting things together. And we have like a 90% sure we have found his mom and father who are both gone. And when he found out some stuff, his mother had just passed away, so he missed being able to talk to her. And that was probably about six or seven years ago. And then we found out that he had some other brothers. And unfortunately, we found out probably within a week of his brother dying that he was a brother!

Fisher: Ah!

Tom: But because we found him, we found out some cemeteries where they were buried. And so, last year, my foster son, Russell and I, we went to Chicago and went cemetery searching and just had some miracles happen that we found these graves. And the amazing thing is, one of the graves, we didn't even know it was going be there was what we believe is his grandfather and grandmother. And they actually had incredible photographs right on their headstones.

Fisher: Boy that's kind of a new thing though, isn't it? It’s fairly recent.

Tom: It is. It is very new. And so, like we were totally, you know, caught off guard. We found his mother’s grave, his father's grave in another cemetery, his brother's. And one of his brothers that had just passed away still has a living son and grandkids who now one of my older brothers has been in conversation with. And so we're trying to get some DNA information from him, so we can find out for 100% sure if it really is him, and there's a good possibility. He's got a sister that's still alive, but can't believe that there's a long lost brother.

Fisher: That mom would ever be in this situation.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Yeah.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Well, and you know, if you look back on most family history lines, you're going to find an awful lot of young adults who were in that situation.

Tom: Oh exactly, exactly. In fact, the thing that we feel we found out about this is, he was born in Chicago, but his adoptive parents came to Salt Lake, and we couldn't figure out why they came so suddenly. And we think what happened is, he was born out of wedlock, but then his mother and father ended up marrying. And so, we think that they came back and wanted him back. And so, back then before the internet where you could find people, they thought, "Uh oh, we don't want to lose our only kid." And so they fled Chicago and moved out to Salt Lake and made a life out here.

Fisher: Unbelievable! So you’ve got a lot yet to find out. And you and others are going to start spitting in a little jar here soon, is that the plan?

Tom: That's right.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: We get the little swab and put it in our cheek and we've done our part. Now we just have to get the other people to do their part to find out how all this comes together, it doesn't matter you know, he's my dad.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: We have, you know, more grandparents. That's kind of cool. And we have all this Jewish heritage that I had no idea even existed.

Fisher: Interesting. And so, is he willing, this counterpart?

Tom: It seems like he's going to. We haven't actually sent him the kit yet, but we've talked about it and it seems like he's open to it. So we'll find out if it actually happens. So if it does, then we'll know for 100% sure that this is the line. And then hopefully then who we believe is his sister will open up and talk to us about, you know, our grandma. We know nothing about her. But we did get a picture from him of his mother, which we had no indication, no pictures, no nothing. And it’s worth a million dollars to us.

Fisher: Oh sure.

Tom: It’s amazing.

Fisher: Now the test is a Y test or you're doing the autosomal?

Tom: I don't know. That's above my pay grade.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]

Tom: All I know is, we put a swab in our cheek and send it off to Sorenson and then they send this off thing.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: Which is kind of interesting, because we've got some hits off that too, it’s kind of a blind thing where people can say, "Hey, we'd like to contact these." It goes into a place, it comes to us and then we give them permission "yes."

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And the people that we have made contact with are also Jewish. So that actually gives us more, you know, thinking that, yes, these are for sure his real parents.

Fisher: Fascinating stuff as we get deeper into it. And it was great to have Dr Woodward on earlier today. So let's talk now about preservation, because you found this amazing new company that coming up with some astonishing new technologies for preservation. Tell me about it.

Tom: Oh yeah. You're talking about this company called Genalytics. They're doing this incredible thing. They're all about preserving stuff. They're not going to teach you how to do genealogy, teach you how to do family history. Their mainly a preservation place. You're going to be able to go on their website and store stuff, video, film, audio, photos, I mean, I can't even begin to scratch the surface.

Fisher: Does it act like a cloud? How is it different?

Tom: Well, cloud will be a part of it. This thing is just huge. I mean, it’s incredible. They have so many different assets. It’s almost like a pinwheel. There's all these different spots around the pinwheel and we're one of them. TMC is going to be doing all the audio, video and film transfers for them, plus they have other ways to preserve all different kinds of things. It’s just amazing. But one of the little pinwheels that I just found out about today is incredible. They're working on getting a van that they will go to places where there's been hurricanes or earthquakes and stuff like that with mobile scanning equipment and things like this to try and help people when they've got their pictures that have been flooded and these kinds of things to go and help restore them right there on the spot.

Fisher: Wow, what a service that would be! So would this be, I mean they're like wet in the flood, they pull them out and slam them on the screen and scan it?

Tom: Right.

Fisher: Is this what you're saying?

Tom: Yeah, right. They'll have the ways that they can go in and get the pictures and make them nice and glossy back again or if they're videotapes that have been mudded, some of them they'll be able to fix on site, the other ones they'll send in to our facility and then we'll clean them up. Film that's been underwater, all these different kinds of things, because it’s basically a last ditch effort to get these things preserved because if you don't act quickly, you're going to lose, you know, what you still do have.

Fisher: We're talking to Tom Perry from TMC, The Multimedia Centers. What else do they do in this pinwheel?

Tom: Well, some of the things in the pinwheel is, they're doing a thing that's called Heritage Collectors, where people would be able to go in and take the things that we've digitized for them and go and make books from them, make calendars from them. They'll be able to do some things that are really, really cool, where if you have like a photograph, you can like run the mouse over the people and it will pop up and say what their name is. And if you got more information on them, there'll be a drop down menu that says "hear an audio recording of her."

Fisher: Oh wow!

Tom: "Read her letters. Here's some video clips. Here's some photos." and it’s just, you know, almost like a family group sheet type thing. "So, who is this person? Oh, this is Aunt Martha. "And go and read Aunt Martha's stories and all these kind of things.

Fisher: Talk about ultimate preservation and integration.

Tom: Oh absolutely!

Fisher: Of everything.

Tom: Absolutely.

Fisher: You think this is a way that kids are going to get into this more?

Tom: Yeah, I think kids are getting more and more in this, because it’s not like, you know, what grandpa does and grandma does anymore. Kids are really getting interested in this stuff. In fact, I remember reading an article where they were talking about some kids started doing this, and they don't even play videogames anymore. They have gotten so caught up in this family history stuff, it’s amazing! With the apps on an iPhone, the apps on an iPad, it’s just amazing the things that you can go and do, interview grandma, interview your friends, interview mom and dad, all these different things and put them together and make fun videos out of them. It’s actually fun to do! So kids are really getting into this kind of things. Kids are bringing us in stuff to digitize that their parents have done. In fact, we're running a special right now and it’s only for Extreme Genes listeners. If they come into the store during the rest of August with a VHS tape they want transferred, it’s only going to be $17.95.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: But they have to say "Extreme Genes" when they bring in the order. And it’s for the rest of this month, whether they have one tape or 200 tapes. So if you've got some sitting around, you've been waiting to get a deal, we have never, ever done videotapes this cheap before. Bring in your VHS, $17.95, mention Extreme Genes and you're going to save a ton of money.

Fisher: All right. And you can find the location and all the information through the link to Tom's site on our site, ExtremeGenes.com.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: All right Tom. Thanks for dropping by. Good to see you again.

Tom: Good to be here again.

Fisher: See you next week.

Tom: Thank you.

Fisher: You know, I've come to realize, one hour is hardly enough. [Laughs] For everything we have to cover every week on Extreme Genes. Our thanks once again to Dr Scott Woodward, DNA pioneer coming in and telling us where we've been, where we're going with DNA research, absolutely great stuff. And he's going to come back again, I got him to promise. Well, it was either that or break his arm. Also on our website, make sure you check out some amazing stories this week from WWI, the battlefield search one guy made for his grandfather. Actually found the bunker where his grandfather served. It’s a great story. It’s at ExtremeGenes.com, along with a story of the post holocaust reunion, 70 years later, a 95 year old woman meeting family members she didn't even know existed. The Ohio man with passion for restoring tombstones, a great video there, and the dresser drawer with the family history in it found at an antique store with the person who bought it, finding those it was intended for, also in their '90s. It’s an amazing story you're going to love that. Plus, answer our poll this week about DNA. “Have you done DNA? Have you done a Y test, a mitochondrial or the autosomal?” We want to hear from you on our website, ExtremeGenes.com. Just a reminder, while the radio show is only one hour long, ExtremeGenes.com is 24/7, so make sure you take advantage of that. Use our Find Line. You can call in and ask a question, you can share with us one of your great stories. We'd love to hear from you at 1-234-56-GENES. That's 1-234-56-GENES (43637) if you missed anything today or any past show, you can of course pick up the podcast at ExtremeGenes.com or subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. And like us on Facebook too, so we can stay in touch. We'd love to be hearing from you throughout the week. We'll talk to you again next Sunday on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. I'm Fisher. It's been a Fisher Voice Works Production.

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