thegenealogygirl


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Tuesday’s Tip: Command Click

Command Click

I LOVE keyboard shortcuts!

They save time and page loads, which of course is also time.  I love saving page loads.  I’m a busy mom, I will do anything I can to save page loads.

So today, I would like to introduce you to one of the lesser known keyboard shortcuts, ‘Command Click’ for a mac OR ‘Control Click’ for a pc.

In the video I will show you how to use this tip on:

  • Ancestry.com – open items in new windows without losing the page you started from.
  • Ancestry.com – open ‘Suggested Records’ in their own windows so you can click back and forth between them to compare the data.  (Did you already know about the ‘Suggested Records’ on the sidebar in Ancestry.com?  If not, another bonus tip for you!)
  • FamilySearch.com – open people in a new window without losing the tree view you started from.
  • FamilySearch.com – open other family members in their own window without losing the family member you started from.
  • Blog posts – when a blog post has links that don’t open in their own window – learn how to open them in their own window so you don’t lose the blog post you started from.
  • Amazon.com – if you’ve loaded up your cart with several items you want to choose between, from the cart, open each item in their own window so you can easily click between windows without waiting for page loads.
  • ANY website with hyperlinks – learn how to open those links in their own window.

 

Seriously guys, if you use the internet for anything at all, you ALL want to watch this one.

 

 

Make sure you click and HOLD the command or control button while you click your mouse.

 

Do you have a favorite keyboard shortcut that most people don’t know about?  If so, tell us about it!

 

 

ps – This is my 400th post!  🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉

 

 

 


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Happy Birthday America

This is my favorite commercial ever created in the genealogy industry.  I love the concept and the execution.  In less than a minute, Ancestry.com managed to remind us of the importance of unity and freedom.

This great experiment that is America, survives and thrives by our willingness to be united in supporting the freedom and rights of every human being.  I hope our experiment continues for generations to come.  I hope this lovely commercial can serve as a reminder that there is always more that unites us than divides us.  We are stronger when we are one.

Happy Birthday America.

 

Thank you Ancestry.com for reminding us what we celebrate on this day.

 


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My DNA Results – How do they compare to my tree? (Updated)

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Yesterday I shared my ethnicity percentages based on my tree.  They look a little something like this:

  • 62.5% – British Isles (English, Mixed British Isles, Scottish, Welsh)
  • 15.6% – Europe West (French Canadian, French)
  • 9.4% – Scandinavian
  • 6.3% – Some mixture of European Jewish & Italy, Greece
  • 6.3% – Iberian Peninsula (Spanish)

As you can see from my screenshot up there, I have some interesting differences between my tree and the DNA I inherited.  Here is a comparison of my tree ethnicities and my DNA ethnicities.

Ethnicity comparison - Sheet1

The first important note is that those trace ethnicities, 2% or lower, are often considered noise.  In my case, those bottom three surprise ethnicities are not backed up by documentation.  The first six however, are documented, even the 1% Iberian Peninsula.

The biggest surprises for me are these:

  • How little of the French and French Canadian DNA I inherited.
  • How much European Jewish DNA I inherited.
  • How much Italy, Greece DNA I inherited.

John Costello and his ancestors make up 12.5% of my tree.  And yet, I inherited 19% of the three regions he could have contributed – Iberian Peninsula, European Jewish, and Italy, Greece.

And here is where I need to beef up my learning, you see something I read recently caused me to misunderstand a very important point – you inherit 50% of your DNA from each parent, beyond that, it is a random mixture of all that came before them.  I had a handful of paragraphs with some interesting questions and insights into some of the nuances of my tree.  But those questions and insights were based on my misunderstanding, so I chopped them out.  😉  Thank you Deborah for some helpful pointers!  (See her comment below).

I have so much to learn about genetic genealogy.  I need to test my siblings and cousins so I can isolate the various pieces of my DNA and do some fancy-science-y-ultra-nerdy-but-oh-so-cool-DNA-genealogy like this.

While I am still learning, and not completely sure of what my next steps are, the thing I keep coming back to is… How can I be 10% European Jewish when I had no idea I had ANY European Jewish ancestry?  10%.  That’s a lot of percent.  Especially when I didn’t see it coming.

This DNA stuff is oh-so-fascinating.  Have you tested?  Did you find any surprises?

Happy Wednesday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today – DNA or otherwise!


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My Ethnicity Fractions – Based on My Tree

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Years ago my younger brother Derek asked me, “What are we?

He was curious about our ethnic makeup as so many people are.  All those years ago I did a quick calculation based on the research I had done and drew up this little map for him.  Over time I have learned more about my heritage and can now update that set of data to reflect my most current understanding of our tree.

ethnicity percentages

Based on this new chart, our ethnicity percentages – from our tree – are:

  • 34.4% – English
  • 12.5% – Mixed British Isles
  • 12.5 % – French Canadian
  • 12.5% – Scottish
  • 9.4% – Danish
  • 6.3% – Italian Jewish (I don’t think this is really a thing, but I’m not sure yet what to call this portion of my tree…see here.)
  • 6.3% – Spanish
  • 3.1% – French
  • 3.1% – Welsh

I know that totals 100.1% – I rounded.

Based on how Ancestry DNA lumps things together, these percentages should look like this on my Ancestry DNA ethnicity estimates:

  • 62.5% – Great Britain (English, Mixed British Isles, Scottish, Welsh)
  • 15.6% – Europe West (French Canadian, French)
  • 9.4% – Scandinavian
  • 6.3% – Some mixture of European Jewish & Italy, Greece
  • 6.3% – Iberian Peninsula (Spanish)

But here’s the thing about DNA.  We don’t inherit exactly half of what our parents inherited.  We inherit a unique combination of half of what they inherited.  So while the percentages based on my tree look one way, the actual DNA I inherited is an entirely different matter.  I have four siblings.  Each of us inherited different combinations of our parent’s DNA – half from each parent, but a unique and random half.

My DNA results are in.  I will share them tomorrow.  They are fascinating.  The portion I am most curious about happens to be the potion that is brand new to me – the Jewish ancestry of John Costello.  What combination of DNA did he pass on to me?  12.5% of me comes from him.  Based on what I know, he could have given me DNA from these three regions – Iberian Peninsula, European Jewish, and Italy, Greece.  Because the Jewish portion is a brand new – weeks old – discovery, I wonder if I inherited any of it?  If so, how much?

Care to take a guess?

Tune in for my DNA reveal tomorrow.

 


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John Costello’s DNA – Well, half of it.

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John Costello, my great-grandfather

 

Just last week I shared my amazing, once-in-a-lifetime find of 7 seconds of video footage of my great-grandfather John Costello.  I continue to delight in it and probably will for the rest of my life.

Seeing John has been so enlightening.  Especially when it is coupled with some recent DNA results.  The last few weeks have felt like “the big reveal” in a few key ways.

Here is what I have always known – John was born in Barcelona to a Spanish mother and an Italian father.  Pretty simple and straightforward.  John was Catholic and attended Mass regularly – usually twice each week his whole adult life.  His wife Mary, who was a Protestant, was baptized Catholic after his death so that she could be buried next to him in a Catholic cemetery.

John had two sons who each had two sons.  From those four grandsons, there are four great-grandsons.  That gave me a potential of ten Y-DNA candidates to test.  I chose my Uncle because that was easiest.  My Uncle took a Y-DNA test for me shortly after RootsTech.

The results surprised me.

A lot.

I was expecting my Uncle to match to a bunch of Italian men with Italian surnames, hopefully several men with the same surname, and hopefully at least one who had a tree and was willing to work with me.  I was hoping this test would help me chip away at the John Costello brick wall.

Well…

That is not what happened.

My Uncle matched to 149 men at the 37 markers level.  149 men who ALL have different surnames from each other and from my Uncle.  All different surnames.

Here is a small sampling of some of the surnames on the list:

  • Persson
  • Benowitz
  • Mudd
  • Plotkin
  • Kalmuk
  • Chiprin
  • Meriems
  • Rosenthal
  • Gladtke
  • Mechlowe

There are 139 others.

When I look at his Ancestral Origins list I am seeing this huge list of Eastern and Western European countries like – Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, Turkey, Hungary, Germany, and Austria.  Notably missing is Italy.  As I am scrolling through this list I keep seeing the same note over and over again – Ashkenazi, Ashkenazi, Ashkenazi.  About 90% of my Uncle’s matches are noted as Ashkenazi.  The rest are not noted with anything.

John Costello’s Italian father was Jewish.

John Costello, who was a devout Catholic, was the son of a man who was, at least on his direct male line, Jewish.  He descended from a male line of Jewish men.

John’s three children who survived infancy never knew that their father was Jewish.  They knew him as a Catholic Spaniard.  So here I am, almost exactly 51 years after his death, discovering a part of himself that he never chose to share.

For many years no one spoke of the fact that he had any Italian blood.  In fact, no one but his children and myself knew that he was half Italian.  His children learned that fact from him, I from research.  It wasn’t until the last few years when I started asking more questions that they were forthcoming with that fact.  Or I suppose it is possible that just my little branch of the family was unaware of his Italian heritage because of separation caused by divorce – and believed this was a new revelation.  Either way, John’s Italian ancestry was a quiet fact.

I wondered if part of the reason behind this was related to his Alien status – a status he held until his death – and the feelings towards Italians during WWII, the internment of Italians during WWII.  Surely, that was an uncomfortable time for him.  Now I wonder if there was more to it.

Now I am wondering how John felt during the war years – Italian and Jewish?

Now I am wondering what happened to his family members on his father’s side during the war years.  I bet he wondered too.  As far as anyone knows, he had no contact with his family after he left.  None of them were literate, or so the story goes.

But all of that leads me to another important question – did he even know any of his father’s family?  His Italian, Jewish father married his Catholic, Spanish mother and they lived in Spain.  Did John ever meet any of his father’s family members?

There are so many more questions now than there were before.

But suddenly I find myself understanding the lack of information just a little bit better.  Or why John may have chosen not to share information.  Jewish persecution is very real and it’s been going on for what feels like forever.  I suppose if you leave your homeland and everyone around you accepts that you are a Spaniard, that is a safe thing to be.

But that means that so much was lost.  So much knowledge and understanding of our family and our family’s roots.  Traditions and faith were left behind.

In fairness, it may well have been John’s father, or grandfather, or great-grandfather who did the leaving and chose not to share information.  I will never know.

Genetically speaking, 12.5% of me is John.  If his father was 100% Jewish, that would make me 6.25% Jewish – assuming the DNA that was passed down reflected the fractions of the tree, which of course is not how that actually plays out.  But for argument’s sake, let’s say that I am 6.25% Jewish.  That is 1/16.  When you look at a family tree – that is a large portion of me.  A portion that I had no inkling was Jewish.

That is a lot of myself that I did not understand.  That I did not know about.

I have so much to learn about this part of my tree.

So much.

Grandpa Costello – you have left me a puzzle that I will keep working on until I solve it.  Even if it takes my entire life.  Even if all I do is stare at the small pieces you left behind until they are emblazoned upon my brain.  Even if those pieces never fit into a bigger picture because so much of the puzzle has been lost to time.  Whatever your or your father’s reasons were for keeping this a secret, I have learned the truth of your ethnic origins.  I honor it, I treasure it, and I will not keep it a secret from our mutual posterity.

And now to commence the learning.

 

 

ps – Are you now ever-so-curious about my ethnicity estimates?  I certainly was after getting my Uncle’s results back.  Well, I have them.  I just got them last week.  I will share them soon.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Note:  Y-DNA is passed directly from father to son.  It mutates very infrequently and very slightly over time.  If you have a brick wall or tricky spot in your tree and you have a direct line male who is willing to test, the Y-DNA test is generally considered a pretty lucky and straightforward gift – unless you are Jewish or from one of a few other ethnic groups with their own unique challenges.  That doesn’t mean the test won’t help you, it just won’t be simple and straightforward like it is for many other groups of people.  If you have questions about the four different types of DNA tests and when you might use them, this is a great read.  If you don’t yet understand that those Ancestry commercials that encourage tossing the lederhosen for a kilt are not accurately representing the limits of ethnicity estimates, read this.

 


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New Ancestry Color Options

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Earlier this week the Ancestry blog announced new color options for Ancestry users.  Here is a sample of the blue – pretty bright.  There are a handful of choices.  If the Ancestry default color doesn’t work for your eyes, go check out the other options.

I love it when the big websites address common complaints/requests.  The default color works for me but I know a lot of people struggle with the colors, and a lot of people have complained.  Ancestry listened.  Happy Friday!


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Public Member Ancestry Trees – A Mixed Bag

esther death

Burial record for the other Esther Brouillette.  Record from ancestry.com.

Public Member trees on ancestry.com have a quite a reputation.  The funny thing is they are wholeheartedly embraced by some, completely shunned by some, and then used as a potential clue by others.  I’ve had a few experiences recently that demonstrate the importance of taking the middle road.

Let’s start with a good experience:

Laura Ann Potter is my 4th great grandmother.  My sister Megan works on this line in our tree.  For a few years now Megan has had a good guess about Laura Ann Potter’s parents but all of her evidence was indirect and a little thin.  Recently we were talking it through.  I pulled up my private Ancestry tree to refresh my memory.  I looked at the hints on Laura Ann Potter – just a few public member trees.  I went through each one that had parents listed for Laura Ann Potter to see what sources they had attached to their trees.  Lo and behold one of them had an excellent source.  A source that combined with the indirect evidence confirmed Megan’s guess.

While that was certainly a good experience with a public member tree on Ancestry, not all experiences match that one.

Let’s explore a frustrating experience:

Esther Brouillette is my 3rd great grandmother.  I know of her from my grandmother.  Esther’s name has existed on family group sheets held by my family for the last five generations but with no additional details.  She was the end of line person.  We knew very little about her because she was born in Quebec, immigrated to Illinois, married, had 5 children and died before the 1880 census was taken.  A short life of at most, 41 years.

Through a lot of research and use of indirect evidence I have determined that her parents are Landrie (or Andrew) Brouillette and Emilie Fortin.  Until very recently the public member trees on Ancestry were very quiet about Esther.  They listed her husband and children but no parents.

Well, a few months ago I was revisiting those trees to see if anyone else had found what I had found.  Two trees were now listing parents.  Different parents than I had proven.  So I took a look because – what if I was wrong?  I was using indirect evidence after all.

One tree had a baptism record attached to Esther.  It listed parents names that matched the parent names listed in that tree.  So I went to that parish book and looked through a few years worth of entries and this is what I discovered.  The Esther in the baptism record was born and baptized one day and died the next day.  So that Esther was definitely not my Esther who lived for about 40 years.  After contacting the tree owner, her response was that she just figured they may have had another daughter later and used the same name.

Okay.  That is possible.  People do that.  But the record being used to prove Esther’s parents was about a different person.  The mother in that record remarried another man eight years after Esther’s death.  Her marriage record states she was a widow.  During the years between Esther’s death and the mother’s remarriage I can find no other birth records that could be our Esther born to those parents.

Here’s the super frustrating part.  The parents listed in that tree have now been added to two more trees.  Oh boy.  It’s just going to spread.  And it’s wrong.

This experience definitely falls into the not-so-good experience category.  It also illustrates why we can’t blindly trust someone else’s tree.  We can certainly use it as a guide to go looking for sources that either prove or disprove the conclusions in the tree.  But blindly accepting a tree can quickly lead us down the wrong road.

Public member trees on Ancestry can be quite helpful.  They can also be completely wrong.  Just like every other genealogy resource, it’s up to us to use them wisely.

How about you?  Have you had any good, bad, or in-between experiences with public member trees?