Friday, April 29, 2016

The Case of Emma M Downs

While researching my 3rd great-grandfather, I came across a marriage record for his son Uriah. I was extremely interested in this record, because it listed his mother as Margh Hiltz and I have her name as Nancy (according to an 1850 census record).

Actually I found two marriage records of Uriah and Emma M Downs. One has an event date of 27 Jan 1869 and the other 28 Oct 1869, both occurring in Rock County, Wisconsin, USA. These records are linked to two separate images on a Family History Microfilm and I will have to check these out later when I am at the Family History Library. Perhaps the marriage was going to happen in January and they had to postpone, who knows.

However, in my genealogy program, I have Uriah married to Frances Annette Blaine on 8 August 1871, the year matches a DAR Lineage Book for Member 157101 Mrs. Cora A Hilts Cummings, who happens to be the daughter of Uriah and Frances.

I show by the 1900 US Census, Anette Hilts is a widow and had only one child. I found a Michigan Death record for Uriah with a death date of 12 Apr 1900, with the parents of Lawrence Hilts and Lena Perin.

About now you are probably wondering why this post is titled “The Case of Emma M Downs” when I have three different names for Uriah mother as Nancy (unknown), Margh (unknown) and Lena Perin.

I am really wondering about these two marriage records I have found that were recorded in Rock County, Wisconsin. Who is Emma M Downs and did she ever in fact marry Uriah? The marriage record(s) state the parents as Francis E Downs and Mary E Downs. 

I found a Christening record for Emma from Providence, Rhode Island with a birth date of 7 Sept 1851 with parents Francis E Downs and Mary E Smith.

Next I found the 1855 Massachusetts State Census for Emma who is now 3 and living with her parents, Francis E Downs (age 33) and Mary Downs (age 32).

In 1860 they are living in Janesville Ward 4, Rock, Wisconsin; F.E. Downs (age 38), Mary E Downs (age 36) and Emma N Downs is now age 8.

I lose all tracks of Francis, Mary and Emma until 1900 where Mary E Downs (age 76) is a widow living in Providence, Rhode Island with her single daughter Emma M Downs (age 47). Mary was married for 51 years and had 3 children with only one living.

I find a burial record of Mary E Downs through FindAGraveMemorial # 132139915 which has a photocopy of the “Record of Burial” that states Mary E Downs died at 82 years, 9 mos and 12 Days. The record is tied to Emma M Downs, therefore I am sure this is still my Emma M Downs. I don’t find Emma in any future census records, perhaps she married. I don’t find a burial record through FindAGrave for either her father, Francis or for her.

Genealogy is all about questions. It is exciting when we find answers to questions but always seem to create more questions.

I still wonder if Emma M Downs and Uriah Hiltz ever did get married. I wonder when her father past away and where they were living between 1860 and 1900. I wonder what happen to her after 1900.

Of course I wonder about my 3rd great-grandmother. What is her name? it is exciting to have two new names to research. However, that question is for another day to research. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My spin on the Ancestry DNA Update

This week as I was reading various genealogy blogs, I noticed that several were talking about the Upcoming Ancestry DNA Update. You can read several I have found at DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy;The Legal Genealogist ; plus The Genetic Genealogist.

To make a long story short, Ancestry’s update will refine our matches. They claim there will be a net gain in matches for most people and a few will actually lose matches. I remember the previous update and I was mostly relieved by the loss of many of my matches. I had way too many pages of matches, now I am down to 96 pages which are still about 4600 matches. However, I did lose some confirmed matches, these were people who were stated that we were DNA matches and I could confirm that with their trees. 

Anyway, the most important thing about this news is perhaps recording your matches now, before you lose too many.

Suggestions were made about making a screen capture or other record of various data currently associated with your DNA result.

I thought first about using the snipping tool, this makes a nice screen shot of whatever I want to save. Downfall, the links are gone. When I look at my list of matches through DNA Circles, each match has a link I might want to preserve. Hopefully the links will still work after Ancestry’s update. Also, I don’t know about managing so many separate files.

Second, I thought about highlighting the data and then copy and paste into a word document. This can preserve the links; however, the format of the page is sometimes another thing. I find the format of the page doesn’t always pass over into my word document. Even though I could end up with one massive word document, the formatting loss makes it hard to understand the data.

Then I thought about highlighting the data and then printing into a pdf document. This usually preserves the links, but again, the format of the page doesn’t always stay the same. Plus, I don’t really want multiple separate PDF’s for everything. That is a lot of documents to look through to find what I want.

Then the light bulb came on. What can take documents, and help me search to find things on the page, plus preserve the links and save the format of the page. EVERNOTE came to mind. Again, I am not sure if preserving the links will work, if Ancestry ends up changing the location of the links, but saving the format of the page and the ability of searching out weigh the fact that I might lose working links. However, if Ancestry doesn’t move things around, the links might still work. Plus Evernote is accessible on all my devices.

So the suggestion was to perhaps save every DNA circle you have. I just opened the DNA circle, went to the link page and then saved the page to Evernote into my AncestryDNA notebook.
Next the suggestion was to save every NAD (New Ancestor Discoveries) you have. Again, I selected the link page view and saved the page into Evernote.  

Next suggestion was to “star” every Shared Ancestor Hint you have. To accomplish this task, click on the HINTS filter, located at the top of all your matches. This will display all your DNA matches who spell your common ancestor exactly the same and facts match too. I didn’t have too many, so manually, clicking the star next to each one didn’t take very long.

Next they suggest that you screen capture as many of the Shared Matches list for your Shared Ancestor Hint matches. This is a very good suggestion. Once I clicked on the Shared Matches tab for each Shared Ancestor Hint, I then saved the page to Evernote and titled it with the DNA Shared user’s name.  This is most important for those distant cousins, who might fall off your list. You would think if you have a Shared Ancestor Hint, you would not lose those, but from previous experience, I know I lost a few on the previous update.

The final suggestion, if you have time and energy, was to screen capture as many of the Shared Match lists for other folks without Shared Ancestor Hints at the fourth cousin level as you can. I could have done the save to Evernote for this suggestion too, however I had already started a spreadsheet of all my matches through fourth cousin level and I have recorded the shared matches of these people.  

Now all these tasks were not too bad, but if you manage multiple tests, like I do, this could take a while. I did all the steps with exception of the final step for all the tests that I manage.

Why not the final suggestion, basically because I just don’t have the energy.  I have 134 4th cousins or closer, my full sister has 133 4th cousins or closer.  I do know that we have a lot of the same matches, there are only a few different, and yes I could take the time to figure out who I am missing. My half-sister has 156 4th cousins or closer and my half-brother has 159 4th cousins or closer. Again, I have some common matches, less than my full sister and my half-sister and half-brother have a lot more in common to each other based on their Dad’s side. However, I have decided a long time ago, that I need to concentrate on one testing company for one tester. The company is AncestryDNA and the tester is me.

Therefore, I am done for now! Whew! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tracking My DNA Matches

I have read blogs and watch webinars about this subject and have decided to throw my hat into the ring.

My DNA situation may be different than yours; mine involves figuring out who my biological maternal grandfather and all his ancestors. Plus I want to track my known matches, all those matches that I finally figured out how they fit in my tree. I like finding living relatives and adding those lines to my tree.

I have developed a two-step approach. My first step was to create a DNA field in my genealogy software program. I use Family Tree maker and created this DNA field as a description field only. 

Then I input one of three values into this description field.
  • Common Ancestor - for the person who ends up being the closest common ancestor between my DNA match and me.
  • DNA Match: along with the common ancestor(s) name(s) – this is entered in the person who had the test done
  • DNA Connection: along with the common ancestor(s) name(s) – this is entered in each direct descendant between the Common Ancestor and the DNA match.

I am able to generate a custom report based on my DNA field and filter in only those individuals who have DNA Match entered into the DNA Field. This handy report is sorted by the DNA Match description and thus I can quickly see all the people who share a certain Common Ancestor.

Step two was to create a spreadsheet to help track some of this information. The spreadsheet helps me determine who our common ancestor might be. It also helps me see at a glance, all the people I have yet to figure out in my pedigree.

I decided to call this spreadsheet “Index of Ancestors”. In the first tab, I made a list of all my ancestors. I also decided to use the standard numbering system for ancestors, where I am number 1, my father is twice my number and my mother is twice plus one and I continue back each generation in this manner. I also wanted to see how many ancestors I was looking for to match up to 8th cousins.  Since I didn’t know my biological maternal grandfather, I decided to enter that in RED to stick out a little. I also used some color coding to aid in viewing my legend a little easier.

Each additional tab represents a different generation.

In each of these tabs, I start off with a list of the common ancestor of that generation. I copied the section from the first tab and placed it into the top of the proper generation tab. Below the list of common ancestors, I want to track who are my DNA matches. Since I have tested with each of the major DNA companies and I use GedMatch too, I wanted to track which company or companies they tested with. In the below example of my “3rd Cousins” tab, you can see I have entered one known 3rd cousin match and listed our common ancestor as ancestors 16 & 17. I don’t know her actual first name, but based on her Ancestry tree, I know her father’s last name was Linder. I have also included the line of descent from our common ancestor down to her.  

This is a new process I am trying with the spreadsheet. So far I really like the visual effect it is giving me. I now need to use that report I generated from my Genealogy software program and input my matches into the proper generation of my Index of Ancestor’s spreadsheet.