• Sep26

    Earlier today I read an article on the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I, which started 100 years ago today and left 26,000 men killed. My great-uncle Michael E. Tierney had been a wagoner in supply support for the 324th infantry which fought in that battle. It had been awhile since I had looked through his military service records that I obtained from the NARA, so I pulled up the PDF and had a look through.

    So first, a sideline: Detail from detachment records for Michael E. Tierney, WWI (source: NARA)One thing I found oddly intriguing was in some details of his detachment and pay records once he returned to the United States in 1919. There’s a section for “Clothing Settlements” that appears to be an accounting of uniform-related items (?) when the soldier is separated from active service. A couple of the lines have the US due $15.00 and $6.60 for something or other (I can’t really read what the notes say.) But, in one of the lines, under the “Balance Due Soldier” column is the figure ($10000.00) . What could THAT possibly be? Did he forget to return his wagon or truck?

    Well, no matter I suppose. What I really wanted to focus on in this post was the introduction to a book of photos I found relating to the Meuse-Argonne area fight. In Pictures of the battlefront of the 324th infantry: Meuse-Argonne, November 9-11, 1918, company Chaplain T. G. Vickers returned to the area the year after the battle to take a large number of photos.

    DedicationHe also wrote what I find to be a very well-put sentiment on the need for men to stand up on the side of the Right* and that the men that have shared his terrible experience in this battle and the war overall will need to stand up and help steer the ship of the United States in a positive direction – while pointing out that the United States’ reaching a welcome and righteous destination is far from guaranteed.

    (*Read “The Right” as the Honorable or Moral position, as opposed to a political standpoint is it is more often used today.)

    I do not use this genealogy blog to espouse particular political agendas, but I do think his experiences make his perspective one worth listening to, and the strength of his words lingers in my mind as I think of our current events. Vickers says,

    Such a body of men assembled for battle makes a serious situation for the enemy. Such a body of men scattered throughout the country in their homes and home communities makes a leavening element that will go a long way toward helping to make America an invincible force for right in the world, or a selfish, money-grabbing, power-drunk giant which will not only consume others, but must certainly come to destruction itself.

    He goes on to say…

    America needs manly, unafraid, unselfish men every- where as she needs nothing else.
    Politics needs to be purged of its self-seeking, unscrupulous elements in order that our government may serve the ends for which it exists. It is imperative that there be born a feeling of brotherliness and co-operation among Capital, Labor and the Public. Wherever you look there is the same call for men who will do their work not only with an eye to their own rights, but also with due consideration for the other fellow.
    Social life needs to be cleared of some of its dangers. In Church, in politics, in industry, in business, in the social fabric, in international matters, in everything there is the same urgent demand, nay, pressing necessity for men who have seen the value of Right, that they may decree by the irresistible force of their determined convictions that this country shall not become the victim of selfish or half-crazed men seeking to ram some pet scheme down the nation’s throat.
    If we who fought in the Great War make up our minds that America shall go right she will go right, and no power can lead her astray. It is the man determined to live according to Truth and Right that must keep this land safe.

    I strongly suggest you read his entire dedication and page through his photos and their captions.

  • Jan30

    Average request on Facebook photo restoration group.


    Family Photo Request

  • Dec10

    UPDATE 12/11/2017: I’m updated to this older post again since I found that the Ancestry – New York partnership page on the NYS Archives site has once again changed: The old URL now is “not found.” However with some more searching on the site I was able to find another page that contains the zip code form so that New Yorkers can search these record sets at Ancestry without the “become a member” page.

    First, a TL;DR: Use the NYS Archives link I have listed below, enter a zip code, go to Ancestry New York page and search the records that are free to NYers with impunity.

    ——————————
    It is probably not news to genealogy folks who research that, as the New York State Archives site says, “Several New York repositories have formed a partnership with Ancestry.com to digitize family history records and make them available on line for free.”

    For several months I have accessed those records on Ancestry, probably most often the 1915 and 1925 NY State censuses, plus some more fun ones like the Sing Sing Prison admittance records. The only trick was that these records are officially free to New York State residents, and once logged into Ancestry, so I would visit the URL http://www.ancestry.com/newyork, enter my NY zip code, and thus would get in.

    However, back in 2014, after a year or two of use I found that the Ancestry page no longer contained the NY zip code field. While it is still a search page titled “New York State Records”, i you use that search form, and try to view the images without the old zip code field submission, it brings you to the ubiquitous “Choose a membership to get started” sign up page.

    Annoyed by that at the time, a little follow up Googling brought me to a NYSED.gov Archives page that outlined the partnership. Thankfully, on that page the zip code form field existed and using it brought you to Ancestry’s “New York: Where History Goes on Record” page, where you can again search the records and click through the results to view the images. (You are still required to have at a free Ancestry login to view images.)

    However, now in 2017 I found that the original NYS Archives page that contained the zip code form is gone – although I have found another different page that still contains the form.

    So, once again: Here is the URL for the NYS Archives site:
    http://www.archives.nysed.gov/research/how-to-video-ancestry

    I think it is disappointing that this change occurred, since it makes original NY State landing page more of a funnel to the subscription page.

    While the Ancestry page now says “For free access to New York records, start your search then click on your results. You will be prompted to “Create a Free Account.” DO NOT click on the “Subscribe” button or the “14-day Free Trial Offer” unless you are interested in access to all of Ancestry…” I don’t see any way to actually GET TO the free records. And I don’t really feel like creating a new free account to test it out.

    More than a bit confusing.

    For later reference – the old, now UNWORKING URL as of 11DEC2017 is: http://www.archives.nysed.gov/research/res_ancestry.shtml

  • Oct3

    All righty now, two posts in a row focusing on a DNA question!

    I’ve posed this question in one of the Facebook groups dedicated to DNA and genealogy to see if anyone there had an opinion.

    While looking at my latest GEDmatch results, I found a new match near the top of my results with an estimated distance of 3.9 generations between us. Still exciting to see that after all these years swimming in the genetic genealogy ponds. I have a few others of the same distance, but haven’t gotten anywhere with figuring out the shared ancestors with most. (Due to either lack of info far enough back, or just the usual non-response to any reaching out.)

    Gedmatch single segment match of 68.3 centimorgansBut, something caught my eye on this match: the “Total cM” and “Largest cM” are both 68.3, so it is all in a single segment! Over 8,341 SNPs. Count ’em.

    (By the way: this is using default search settings.)

    So, I am now wondering: At what amount of shared cM does it become unusual for the entire match to be in a single segment?

    Looking at all of my matches, I have:

    • 1,301 matches that are in a single segment.
    • 1,300 of those are at 32cM or below.

    After that, way up at 68.3cM is my last single segment match.

    Is the fact that it is one segment with that many cMs just chance, or is something else going on? It is more striking when you see a chart of all of my single segment matches.

    Anyone have any ideas?


    chart: Count of Single Segment DNA Matches by Match Length

  • Sep20

    Hello out there in Genealogy Land! I have been running silent these last few months here on the blog, but continue to march yet unto that elusive tree of perfection. I have a quick item that I wanted to post today and file in Things That Make You Go, “Huh?”

    When checking my matches over on MyHeritage DNA, I found one recently that is estimated at the 3rd – 5th cousin level.

    DNA Match Summary
    OK, I says, that’s not a bad match – although I strongly suspect that MyHeritage’s cousin-relatedness are overestimated by at least 1 or 2 levels. That would make me feel like this is really at the very best a 4th – 6th match and perhaps further. In fact, another factor feeds this assumption for me:

    This match is from Norway. I am 50/50 Czech and Irish. While I understand those country-centric terms don’t accurately represent the mishmash of DNA we all carry, I have found that this match along with other matches from Norway have trees that go many generations back with clearly Norwegian names in them. (Go figure.)

    So, OK, perhaps 5 or 6 generations ago someone from one of “my” countries headed up that way, or vice-versa and now I need to welcome my new Norwegian cousins and brush up on learning how to cook Kjøttkaker and Gravlaks. (Mmm, Gravlaks.) But, a couple of these Norwegian matches are in the 3rd to 5th cousin range, so you’d at least think we’d see some slightly similar locations on the map start to appear around the time our common ancestor would be. Nope.

    But forget about all that – let’s look at the next thing that MyHeritage gives us for matches: Shared Ethnicities.

    Now, I also understand that there is some algorithmic voodoo at play in mapping ethnicities. (By the way Algorithmic VooDoo is now my new band name.) Can one really attribute a particular snippet of DNA to a location absolutely? Eh, maybe in some cases, but overall I think they are smearing the lipstick a little broadly. In the case of this match, I found something else surprising.


    Shared Ethnicities Chart

    I pasted our “Shared DNA” numbers on this chart for reference – so assuming we share enough DNA to be in the 3rd – 5th cousin range, would we not also have at least one category of ethnicity that we are both a member of? I realize our total shared is only 0.4%, but even so, if they can estimate her Scandinavian ethnicity down to a 10th of a percentage, there shouldn’t really be any rounding error going on.

    Yet, there is not a single ethnicity that we share.
    And now I am left wondering what I should do with all of these Gravlaks?

    (By the way: That Iberian % doesn’t show up at all in my 23andme results, and on AncestryDNA I have 3% Iberian in the Low Confidence Region. One of my favorite regions, doncha know.)