Sunday, January 4, 2015

The year in review

Life is always interesting, and interesting usually means busy.  In early fall, we decided to aceelerate some plans we had made to move from spring 2015 to right away, and by the end of October, the clan was in a new residence.  It's taken some time to adjust, and we are still settling in, but on the whole, the new place is working out well and should be a good fit far into the future.

One significant benefit of the move is an upgrade in my office space, both for work and for genealogy. I'm not in the basement or wedged into a room the size of a large walk-in closet (my final office space at the old house), but have a proper room with enough space for discreet work and genealogy spaces.  It will be nice once I get it organized- the work space got situated immediately, the genealogy space has taken a little longer, but it is getting there.

Last year around this time, I posted a list of "Genealogical Resolutions".  Let's see how I did, and what I might do better.

First, I resolved to blog twice a month, more or less.  

-I did OK on this one through March, then my production fell off a cliff.  For 2015, my variation on this is a bit more modest - at least one blog post a month.

Second, I resolved to get my sources fixed and my database moved into Legacy Family Tree 8.  
-I did manage to fix some sources, but, this resolution has been made somewhat moot by two factors. First, I've switched from Legacy to RootsMagic, as I think RootsMagic is closer to true multi-platform portability than is Legacy, and otherwise the two programs are comparable in terms of features and usability.  I also have some concerns about the Microsoft Access database underlying Legacy, so, for as good a program it has been, for now, the choice is RootsMagic.  The second factor is that with the change to a new software platform, I'm starting a new filing/organizational system and am basically hitting the reset button on my genealogy - fresh database, proper citations and source analysis.  This covers my third resolution from last year as well - the use of Clooz or Evidentia to analyze source documents.

My fourth resolution from last year was get my workspce organized.  As described above, this is a work in process.  

My fifth resolution from last year was to photograph and transcribe a few local cemeteries.  This didn't happen, and probably won't in 2015 - I know my limitations in terms of time, and this just doesn't fit in.

Lastly, I made a number of resolutions concerning genealogical DNA testing.  Those are all still in play, as I made little progress on them.

That's 2014 - lets move on to 2015.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Results Are In - AncestryDNA

The news of the day is that my AncestryDNA results are in. I'm guessing a big batch of results were posted yesterday (3/19), because quite a few of the genealogy folks I follow on Twitter were reporting that they had results in too.

The test results comprise two components - the Ethnicity Estimate and your Matches. Both parts are interesting in their own way and deserve some discussion.

First, the Ethnicity Estimate.  No surprises here.  My estimate is 97% European, with the remaining 3% spread out over other categories. 

The breakdown (in descending order of prevalence) :

  • Europe West (37%) - Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein
    • Most of my ancestors on my paternal line (with the exception of my surname line and a few others) are from the German speaking areas of West Europe - many early German immigrants ended up in south-central Pennsylvania, so most people who have roots in that part of the country will have deep German roots
  • Ireland (27%) - Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland
    • Between this category and the one to follow, this covers pretty much entire maternal line as well as the Irish components of my paternal line.
  • Great Britain (25%) - Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales
    • My maternal line is largely predominated by that group of immigrants known as the "Scotch-Irish" or "Scots-Irish", early settlers from Northern Ireland, originally of Scottish and English origin.  More than a few of these immigrants ended up in what is now known as Appalachia.
 These three categories make up 89% of my estimate, based on the averages that Ancestry has calculated (Ancestry describes the methodology used to calculate these numbers in some detail, and I'm not going to try to explain it in detail here, but  the averages are based on a number of trials which define a potential range of values, the listed value being an average of the values in the range).   The remainder of my Estimate is composed of what AncestryDNA calls trace regions - regions that have a positive average but where the range begins at 0% and which could thus appear by chance.

Trace Regions (in descending order with no commentary:

  • Iberian Peninsula (4%)
  • Scandinavia (2%)
  • Finland/NW Russia (1%)
  • Asia South (1%)
  • Europe East (< 1%)
  • Africa Southeastern Bantu (< 1%)
  • Melanesia (< 1%)
So, according to AncestryDNA, that's my genetic heritage in a nutshell.

Now, we turn our attention to the Matches component.  At the time of writing, I have 252 pages of  matches, ranging in predicted degree of kinship from second cousin to distant cousin (5th cousin or more distant) - most in the last bucket with verying degrees of confidence.  I have not had the chance to review all of my matches so far, but i've at least browsed most of my closer matches.  I haven't initiated contact with any of my matches, but two of my matches have contacrted me - one whose user name I recignized as a known cousin and a second who AncestryDNA pegged us as 4th cousins, but who has no recognizeable paper trail to connect us at this time.

Some observations:

  • I'm seeing a lot of matches on my maternal line, and in quite a few of those the degree of kinship is overstated, primarily due to the presence of Barnabas Curry as a common ancestor. I have, I believe, three Curry lines that trace back to him, so even though he is either my 4x great or 5x great grandfather, his impact on my DNA is somewhat disproportionate
  • I need to do more work on my Ancestry Family Tree, particularly on my maternal side to facilitate matching
  • I think I need to come up with a handful of templates to use in contacting prospective cousins, one or two for each of my maternal and paternal lines

All in all, still lots of work to do.

One final note - I have located a folder that documents a potential family unit for Christopher McNally back in Ireland.  In the very near future, I'm going to document that on the blog and tie that in to the Y-DNA testing I have going on FTDNA.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review - "Finding Your Roots: Easy-to-Do Genealogy and FamilyHistory" by Janice Schultz

I read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and one of the main varieties of non-fiction that I read are genealogy books, whether on general instruction or specific themes (such as DNA, sourcing, particular record types, etc.).  With the volume of genealogy books that I read, close to one per month, I thought that I might add a book review as a semi-regular feature to the blog.

The first book to be reviewed in this feature is "Finding Your Roots: Easy-to-Do Genealogy and Family History" by Janice Schultz, published by Huron Street Press, an imprint of the American Library Association. According to the biographical blurb, prior to retirement in 2013, Ms. Schultz was the genealogy librarian/branch manager for the Midwest Genealogy Center at the Mid-Continent Public Library.  I've never been to the MGC, but I know it is a major genealogical library.

"Finding Your Roots" is a reasonably comprehensive and up-to-date genealogy how-to instructional book, suitable for beginners to genealogy, but with enough information to serve as a solid refresher for more experienced practitioners. In the preface, Schultz states that her original intent was to update Ray Wright's "The Genealogist's Handbook", originally published in 1995. (A good book, by the way, one which I read some months ago and recommend.)  The weakness of Wright's book is that it set in the pre-web world of research, and Schultz does a fine job of bringing the concepts into the 21st century.

What I'm always looking for in an instructional book is some nugget that I wasn't aware of before, even something so small as a mention of a resource I wasn't previously aware of .  For example, in a section about military records, Schultz mentions a periodical concerned with Confederate veterans that published between 1893 and 1932 called "The Confederate Veteran" and that it is available at FamilySearch.  I know of at least one Confederate veteran in my wife's tree, so I'll be taking a look at that resource in due time.

There are a few small issues I saw - the discussion on sourcing your research is an afterthought rather than a proper section in its own right, and I believe that she is factually mistaken when she states that New York passenger arrival records are extant from 1820, as I distinctly recall seeing something in print from NARA that there are missing passenger arrival lists for the port of New York prior to 1850, but I cannot put my hands on that document at this time, so I could be mistaken.

Overall, "Finding Your Roots" is a solid effort, worthy of a place in your genealogy library if you do not already own a good how-to book or at the very least, a check-out from your local public library.

Grade:  B+

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Brief Update

I received my AncestryDNA kit in the mail yesterday, so today I activated my kit, spit in the tube and put it out in the mailbox to make its way back to Utah for processing. In order to make the most of the test, it looks like I need to at least put up a skeleton of a pedigree chart, minimally showing my direct ancestors. 

To date, I've put almost no effort into my Ancestry tree. I am continually frustrated by the number of bad actors and name hunters that poach from the Ancestry trees and call the work their own without any attribution (or even fact checking).  Additionally, I've done considerable work gathering documents and evidence that cannot be found on, and I have no desire to let Ancestry monetize my work product.  End of rant.

So you can add to my resolutions updating my Ancestry tree.  I won't be posting any outside documentation, and my source citations may not be Evidence Explained approved (my Legacy database is another matter), but names, dates and relationships will be there.  

See you on the web.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A few more genealogical resolutions

For Christmas 2012 (or maybe for my birthday, it falls close to Christmas) I was given the gift of Y-Chromosome DNA testing, in order to try to make the McNally leap back across the ocean.  I chose the Family Tree DNA service, based in part on their extensive history and deep member base.  I received my swabs, took my samples and sent them back to see what would happen.  

A few weeks later, I received my results (in stages, due to the number of markers I had tested).  Between sending my samples and getting my results, I had enrolled in a handful of relevant studies to try to find matches, hopefully still in Ireland who might be able to trace back to Christopher McNally's ancestors. 

When my full results were finally back, I had one good match, a young man in Ireland who carries the McNally surname.  I sent off on e-mail of introduction and waited for his to respond, which he did after a week or two.  He only had information back to his great-gradfather (I think he has an aunt that is the genealogist of the familiy) but he was willing to exchange e-mails and share information as it came available.   We e-mailed back and forth a few times, the last time back in July of 2013.  After that, my genetic genealogy project languished, solely due to my lack of effort.  

Fast forward to last week.  I received in the mail an advertisement for the AncestryDNA test for $79.00.  The AncestryDNA test is an autosomal test, which covers all lines of ancestry, both paternal and maternal, rather than a direct line test unlike the Y-DNA test I have on the books (the Family Tree DNA analog would be their "Family Finder" test"), so I decided to give myself a late birthday present and give it a go.  I have not received my testing kit yet, having just ordered it, but I'll keep the blog updated on that progress.

After looking over my last post, I realized that I had included no resolutions related to my genetic genealogy endeavours, so here they are.

First - I'm going to follow up with my Irish contact to re-open the lines of communication and see if he has learned anything new.

Second - I'm going to be more active at the FTDNA website and on the studies that might be relevant.  

Third - I'm going to be a bit more proactive in trying to confirm or deny a theory I have about Christopher, starting right here - In March of 2012 I proposed a theory about Christopher McNally's parentage, that he might be the son of a Laurence McNally and Mary Dillon.  I would encourage any male McNally's that can prove a line of descent from Laurence and Mary to contact me.  In a subseuent blog post I will post all of the information I have about this family to aid in this.

Fourth - The book "DNA and Social Networking" by Debbie Kennett has some fabulous suggestions about how to make genetic genealogy more effective, so I'm going to re-read the DNA part and follow up on some of her ideas.

Finally - I'm going to do whatever I can with the Ancestry test to cast a wider net for relatives in my extended family to share with and learn from.

Here's to making 2014 a good genealogy year.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolutions Genealogical

2013 was a great and productive year in many ways, but not for my genealogical research or for this blog - the demands of keeping up with a pair of toddler boys proved too great to allow much in the way of time or energy in that regard.  I intend to do better in 2014, although admittedly, that wouldn't be difficult, as I only completed one post in 2013.  That said, here are my genealogical resolutions for 2014.

Resolution the first - I resolve to produce a new blog post about every two weeks, roughly two a month.  This resolution shall be aided by one of my Christmas presents - a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad, allowing me to write more efficiently with the pad, as I do not have to resort to the touch screen keyboard.

Resolution the second - I purchased Legacy Family Tree 8 back in early December.  I am going to move my tree into Legacy 8 and source everything according to Evidence Explained.   My sources in my current database are a mess and need to be redone.

Resolution the third - I am going to use either Clooz or Evidentia (or both) to analyze my sources more fully.  I'm trying to take my genealogy to the next level, and I think these tools can help.

Resolution the fourth - I am finally going to get my genealogy workspace set up and organized.  Right now my files are boxed up in shambles, and I have boxes of loose papers to get filed.  Its a big mess that needs fixing.

Resolution the fifth -  I am going to photograph and transcribe the three or four small cemeteries that are within a few miles of my house.  I believe that the local branch of the OGS has done transcriptions, but I am unaware of any photos of these cemeteries.  Where I post the data is still to be determined.

There's more I could tackle (and might), like a McNally one-name study, but the five resolutions I have made should keep me plenty busy in the new year.

Good hunting, and happy new year.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Current doings

The boys have been keeping me busy, not leaving much time for actual genealogical research or posting new stories to the blog. This doesn't mean I've been sitting idle, watching the world go by and twiddling my thumbs. I steal a few minutes here and there to do some looking on Ancestry, and I've started to dig into the 1940 census records. I've found most of my living ancestors, but there are a few holdouts hiding in the paper trail, waiting to be discovered. I've also been preparing for a trip to the Ohio Historical Society Archives, after making some discoveries on FamilySearch.

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about how I want to move the blog forward, to keep telling stories and to keep connecting with far-flung relatives, and I think that the way to best do that given my time constraints is to hold true to the blog title, and start telling stories in the form of a pedigree chart in story form. Using standard pedigree chart numbering, my sons are numbers 1a and 1b, I am number 2, my wife, 3, and so on. Of course, with living people on the tree, those entries will be highly abbreviated to protect their privacy.

The first few entries will be short, so here they go.

1A & 1B. My sons. Although I have countless stories of their antics, some of which are entertaining, the simple truth is that their stories are yet to be told, and while I hope to be a significant part of those stories, they will not be mine to tell.

2 & 3. Myself and my wife (living Bone ) Hopefully, our stories are also largely to be discovered, and maybe one or both of my sons will tell them.

4 & 5.  My father (living McNally) and my mother (living Farley). They're both still alive so in order to protect their privacy, no further information shall be provided.

6 & 7. My wife's father (living Bone) and mother (living Kinder). Same thing applies here.

That gives you a brief outline of the tree so far. While there are still a few more living ancestors to be glossed over, the stories begin in ernest on the next post with number 8 on the tree, my paternal grandfather, Gerald Richard McNally.