• Nov10

    North Brooklin, Maine
    30 March 1973

    Dear Mr. Nadeau:

    As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

    Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

    Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

    (Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

  • Oct13

    The Genealogical Bug Busy
    The sun. (New York [N.Y.]), 16 Aug. 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
    Lib. of Congress.

  • Oct4

    Update, June, 2017: I’ve downloaded the latest data for my AncestryDNA matches, and with 230+ more cousins, I can report the exciting news that: the chart continues to look like a kitty cat.

    But, I did have 2 more close cousins show up – one of which I knew already, so our common matches might help triangulate. Waiting to hear from the latest close match… if you’re out there, let’s figure out our trees!

    I’ve appended the new tree, with an additional, totally free bonus chart of total cousins by distance.

    And now, back to the original post:

    If you are like me you probably say “Harumph!” alot when you check for new genetic matches to your AncestryDNA test. Scrolling through 83 pages of matches, it gets a little depressing seeing the many, many, many “No family tree” next to the matches. And the many more with only token trees containing a small number of people in them.

    Three of my grandparents were immigrants to the United States, and my fourth grandparent was the son of immigrants. So, unless a lot more Czech and Irish citizens start testing, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any AncestryDNA circles* on my profile. But, I am still hoping that a reasonably close cousin or three from a few of my Irish lines show up to help me figure out where in Ireland they came from. (*waving to Tierney and McDonald folk*)

    Anyway, I know that sometimes things feel worse than they are, so I decided to crunch some numbers and see how bad (or good) I really have it. Using the handy dandy AncestryDNA Helper Chrome Extension, I scanned and downloaded a data file of my matches.

    I found that I have 4,230 matches in the database.
    Of those matches, 2,194 do not have a family tree attached to the DNA profile. BOO.
    But, that leaves 2,036 matches that do have family trees. YAY!

    About a 50/50 split. “But, Wait!”, I said to myself. (I’m an awesome conversationalist.)
    What are the size of these trees? Well I charted it out.

    Number of People in My Matches' Trees

    Chart of Number of People in my AncestryDNA matches’ family trees that also kinda looks like a kitty cat.

    Could be worse. Could be better. About 300 of the matches have less than 10 people in their tree, and 480 have less than 25 people. That’s likely not enough to help figure out 4th and 5th cousin level matches. (Yes, I know some people only put small subsets of their full tree on a profile, but still.)

    However, flipping that around in my brain, about 1,400 people have trees with 50 or more people – that might get us somewhere.
    (And I can’t imagine *ever* my own tree catching up to the one tree with 139,000 people in it. Wow.)

    I think the long term outlook here, is it’s only going to get better, keep your fingers crossed, and rub some rabbits’ feet. (If you can catch them. I never can.)
    Or, for a more succinct statement, as my dear old father would have said, “It’s better than a stick in the eye!”**

    *For more information on AncestryDNA circles, you might want to watch their video Cousin Matches and DNA Circles over on The YouTube.
    **AncestryDNA representatives: you can use “It’s better than a stick in the eye!” in your next ad campaign, but I’d appreciate a few gratis test kits for my trouble.

    UPDATED Chart from June, 2017: Same old same old.

    Number of People in My Matches' Trees
    Chart of Number of People in my AncestryDNA matches’ family trees that also still kinda looks like a kitty cat, but with higher ears.

  • Sep30

    Update January 3, 2017: My podcast app told me over the holidays that It’s About Time had published some new episodes, which I found as interesting as the first set. However, when I went to share a link to one of them on The Twitter, I found that Ancestry had not updated their podcast page with any of the new episodes! That’s some poor marketing right there.

    So, for your own viewing pleasure, Visit the iTunes feed of this podcast to see the episodes titled “A Christmas Carol”, “Family Found”, “The Future of Family History”, and “All the Information John Tierney Needs to Find All of His Ancestors.” (Well, that last one may not be out there, but I am hoping it is just still in the editing process.)

    Now, back to the original blog transmission…

    A quicky bloggy post to point you in the direction of Ancestry’s new It’s About Time podcast.

    It's About Time PodcastI somehow missed the announcement of it earlier in the month, but stumbled upon it yesterday and have already listened to 4 of the 5 published episodes. (Thanks, daily commute!)

    The podcast is comprised of 15 minute-or-so vignettes of personal histories, beautifully produced, well written, and wonderfully read by Sir Tony Robinson. I recommend it highly!

    I believe my favorite so far is Episode 5: A story of identity, where Sir Tony talks about his own background and ancestral expectations prior to taking his own AncestryDNA test.

    I do have a complaint, though: there are not enough of them – the “season”ended with episode 5.

    You can read more about the podcast over on the Ancestry Blog.

  • Sep20

    Yesterday I made a nice discovery by simply trolling through the NYS Archives documents on Ancestry: my great-uncle Thomas F. Tierney enlisted in World War I, was stationed at Fort Slocum, and eventually made Sergeant and getting assigned to the Cavalry. We already knew another brother Michael had been over there and was a part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, but Uncle Tommy’s service was new info to me. Turns out the war ended before he could be deployed overseas.

    So, with some down time last night I began to look for the assignments listed on his Abstract card: “4 Rct Co GSI Ft Slocum NY” and “MG Tr 310 Cav”, followed by “20TM Btry”. That poking around led me to find an interesting book on Archive.org: Brooklyn & Long Island In the War (1918) contains more than 200 pages of vignettes about the war, stories and photos of men from the area and lists of the killed and wounded. Published by The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, it has the feeling of a newspaper with focus on the men.

    If you have family from the New York area that fought in WWI or are just interested in that period in history, you should give this book a look.