14 July 2018



My mom, who was born in the 1930's, died a few years ago. I started doing the genealogy for her family.  My four sisters and I got together and we all have remembered a different maiden name for mom.  Three of the names begin with a the same letter.
I took a DNA test - maternal - and mom said she was Italian - but no Italian showed up on the test.  Ukrainian, Polish, Slovak areas did.

Your advice, Please!


The situation isn't as uncommon as you may think.  I suggest you proceed with standard research methods and see what comes up.  Mom may not have known her own ancestry, she may have been adopted - and not been told, she could have been lied to or her own mother might have been. Or she could have been born with one name and her own mother might have remarried and her new husband adopted her.

1) Get a copy of her death certificate and/or burial and see what maiden name is mentioned.

2) Get a copy of her birth certificate and see what maiden name is listed.

3) Send away for her original application for Social Security which she probably applied for in the 1950's for her first job.

If the maiden name is consistent on these three, or appears with a slight variation, it's probably correct.

Consider the following:  That the maiden name was pronounced in another language but could have been assumed to be spelled a certain way by the person who was writing it down.  That a formal or informal surname change may have occurred.  Run an Internet check on the surname and see if it comes up as clearly Italian or Ukrainian or whatever.  See if  you can find one of those translators that also has a voice that pronounces the word and think about how you'd spell that.  Find the meaning of the name.  Consider that the name might mean the same thing - or similar - but in different languages.  Or changed to reflect a pronunciation that is "easier."

I've encountered the following:  An S added to the ending of the name.  A common name in Hungarian turned into the same meaning in English ie. Szabo is Tailor.  The suffix of a name, such as ski, szke, son, dottar, removed from the name to make it shorter.  Siblings with different surnames due to being half siblings - which they knew but descendants did not. Silent first letters of names eliminated in pronunciation.  Surnames that are changed to eliminate confusion of multiple consonants.

4) Since she was born in the 1930's let's get her on the 1940 census and see if we can follow her parents or siblings back to the 1930's, 1920's, as far back as we can go.  If the confusion continues, well, try to find her parent's marriage certificate.  Did they marry in the Old Country or here?  In the Old Country, their marriage may be in a church record rather than a civil registration.

Finally DNA is proving how nomadic or mobile humans have been and how much ethnicity and race are mixed.  Quite possibly your mother's ancestors simply moved from a Central-Eastern European country to Italy and considered themselves culturally Italian.

I can't wait to hear what you learned!

Ancestry Worship Genealoy

07 July 2018



EXCERPT:  Joanna Kaplanis at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute  in Cambridge, UK, and her colleagues, collected 86 million publicly-available profiles from Geni.com.  Users on this crowd sourcing website create family trees, which are then merged with others when matches occur.


Basically, in the 19th century people started living further away from each other but cousin marriage persisted for about another 50 years.

Another article based on this same study by another publication, which I'm not linking to due to the ads, said that the tree goes back 11 generations, the participants (willing?) were 85% North American or European, and BEFORE 1750 the spouse was found within 6 miles.  (So read those census records around town!)  After 1950 the geographically desirable were within 60 miles.  (Makes sense to me.  You are now willing to drive an hour each way to date!)  Before 1850 it was socially acceptable and common.  1800 to 1850 people traveled further but it was still OK.  After that it became less acceptable to marry your cousin.  But you'll have to read the study to know if they mean first cousin or fourth!

16 June 2018


Recently I was reminded that fake genealogy is all too common.

In a few books about the Bouvier sisters - Jacqueline - who was to become Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and her sister Lee - who was to marry a few times but is best known as Lee Radizwill, it is reported that Jackie's own father presented a mythological genealogy to the daughters that both believed, elevating a French immigrant cabinetmaker - a very good one by the way - into nobility.  Then Lee herself falsely claimed to have the Lee family of early Virginia as ancestors.  Apparently she even had a big genealogy on a wall that she could point to. As I read it, apparently Lee was so good at reporting the historical accuracies of this family, though her connection to them was not, that she was still accepted as a kind of honorary member of the family.

Ah well, what reminded me was that someone I'm related to by marriage, told me not to bother doing the genealogy for her family as cousin So and So had already done it, all the way to "Queen Antoinette."  She meant Marie Antoinette, a German brought to France, who had four children, none who lived long enough to reproduce, meaning that Marie Antoinette left no direct descendants.  Could this "Italian" family actually have German and French nobility in it's chart?

I don't normally do someone's genealogy who doesn't want it done, but because the children of this marriage are related to me, I put a little time into following the surnames of their grandparents, and discovered that very likely they started out as Sephardic Jews who left Portugal, went to Salonica, Greece, and then to Calabrese Italy.  Could Marie Antoinette be covering up all that?

Though there are those who fabricate illustrious connections because they are snobs,  there is probably more fake genealogy out there due to ignorance on how to conduct genealogical research.  I once met a woman, a member of a Santa Barbara, California genealogy club who told me that she traced the wrong family for a decade out of ignorance.  She had made a leap very early on, not documenting properly, and so it went.

So there are three things I want to express to my readers here.

First, if you are new to genealogy and a do-it-yourselfer, it's a good idea to document every way you can, and remain skeptical of what the family oral history is until you find those documents.

Secondly, if you have been away from your genealogy for some time, go over everything once again, making the connections where they are, questioning yourself. 

For instance, I had great difficulty finding an oath of allegiance to the U.S. in New Jersey for an immigrant because the New Jersey swearing in did not require a lot of information, the surname was common, the witnesses must have been friends, not family members who already had their citizenship, and the place of birth was within the county left behind but not the same as what it said on the ship documents.  Through a process of elimination I was able to be about 95% certain that the swearing in I found was correct.  However, there is no mention of all the other family members who also got their citizenship that day along with "dad," and I suspected one of the children got his in another state, because he immigrated separately and lived separately.  I have looked through records from multiple counties and states and records held at the National Archives and cannot find any evidence for this person being naturalized, and so I assume - but am skeptical - that he was included in on his dad's.

It does not matter though in terms of proofing his lineage.

The problem is finding that dad's lineage in another country where again I have search numerous church records and for which nothing is coming up.  I'm doing everything right.  The information simply may not have been preserved.  The problem?  He was born during an uprising.

Third, it's a good idea to have a professional go over all your research looking for information that can proof.  If you can't afford the pro, team up with someone else you trust and go over each other's work.

A person who worked to help people into the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution once told me that some members had been asked to leave because information that had been provided long ago was now considered questionable.  You don't want that to happen to you.

C  2018 Ancestry Worship Genealogy  Blogspot

18 May 2018


I'm getting up in the wee hours to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and his American bride Meghan Markle.  Reading around the subject of this wedding, here are some things you might find interesting.

1) It was required that Meghan, raised Catholic, convert to the Church of England and she did.
2) Her title, unless the Queen grants her and Harry other titles, will be Princess Henry i.e. this does not acknowledge her as a Princess but entitled because of her marriage. 
3) Very likely, as she did when she created Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen will create Duke and Duchess title for Harry and Meghan Markle.
4) Like other things surrounding the Royal Wedding that people bet on, there is betting on which title the Queen will grant them. The decision is the Queen's but she is likely to consider the reputations of the last title holders and how long the title has been unused.
Right now it would seem that the Sussex title is a favorite.
5) So there are only so many titles that can be granted. Some sort of go into a long hibernation.
6) When Catherine Middleton became engaged to Prince William, one of the things her family had to collaborate on with the official coat of arms/shields people was a new one to represent the Middletons, specifically prior to the wedding, although they are commoners and the family does not have titles or have their rank raised.  As I understand it Michael Middleton, Catherine's father was especially helpful.  This coat of arms shows three acorns to indicate his three children. 
7) Likewise, even if her father's heath was too poor for him to make an international flight to escort his daughter down the isle, the Markle's will likely also design a coat of arms to represent Meghan, though she will remain a commoner as will her family.

I did once spend time in England and did the quick tour of the Windsor Castle's grounds and around the small town it sits in.  It was an unexpected vacation that I took and I always said that I would like to go there again for a longer period and less formal touring.

C  2018 Ancestry Worship Genealogy

16 May 2018


These days there are so many opportunities for people to play at genealogy and share information (proven or not) that the answer to the question of what information is stolen is rather fuzzy.  But in this post I consider genealogies that were actually physically stolen!

It just so happens that over the last couple months I've run into two couples who are upset because the genealogy of their family was stolen along with other items from their garages!  OK, a typical garage is NOT the place to keep a family genealogy.  I believe that it should remain in a house that isn't damp or filled with insects or rodents or the gas fumes and if you inherit some old paperwork, it deserves to be copied.  Consider taking it to a place that does big blueprint copies for architects and designers.  Then put it into a mailing tube and seal that up.  Consider putting copies into the archive of a library or to be held in another family member's dehumidified attic.  Do something to preserve it!  (And remember to go over it and proof everything yourself, just in case someone in your family was too eager to tie you into royalty or casino rights!)

In the cases I recently heard of though, INHERITANCES were being tied up because someone died without a will or or had a will but did not have the names and addresses of those family who were to inherit.  One of these cases takes place in the United States and the other in England.

To begin with the English case, the American family contracted with some company over there YEARS ago to track down those due to inherit.  I'm sorry to say I believe that this company did nothing or is claiming to be doing something but hasn't or this couple have been uniformed because they were cut out. I suggested they get with the company and find out what is going on.  If you are in the United States and in this situation, and there is a nice sum of money you need possibly waiting for you to claim, be aware that you do not need to hire some person or company in England to do the work.  Granted it's possible that a judge in a court there might find a local company rather than a distant one more believable but not necessarily.  First of all records for England are usually quite good, it's a small country, and a professional there should know the resources and how to get to them quickly.  After all, the person who died only died five years ago.  So I think, just to show that you are not passively waiting or entirely ignorant, you should hire a genealogist who can contact those resources long distance.  (There is always e-mail.)
As for the American family, the person died just a couple years ago with a hand-written will, referring to certain members of the family who he had no contact with for many years, and the effort is a little closer to hiring a private investigator than a genealogist.  Let's just say that I've done PI type work but using genealogy methods as well as genealogy ethics and standards - no schemes, no tricks, no lies (not that all PI's operate this way but some surely do!)  The genealogist verifies the relationship to the person who has died, such as sibling, half sibling, step sibling, third cousin, Great Aunt, and can often locate these deserving people though typical public databases.
I believe that good old snail mail is the best method for introducing yourself and requesting additional information to be submitted to courts, such as official ID's.  Because there is so much identity theft, some people usually do need assurances that the genealogist is working for the benefit of a court or legal representative.
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09 May 2018


Image result for bryan sykes bigfoot book

What an adventure!  The author of The Seven Daughters of Eve and other books about
what DNA proves to us decided to go on a scientific quest for the creature known as Bigfoot or Yeti, and that quest takes him to the Pacific Northwest, to Russia, and to the Himalayan Mountains - if not on foot himself, then in interacting with the witnesses and other scientists on the same quest. And as I felt in reading his other books, this man as an author knows how to take his reader along with him, as he seriously questions, sometimes believes, but holds to the science.

One the word was out, Sykes received at least a hundred hair samples that people who had sightings collected, some recently, some long held, and first using microscopes to determine that the hair was a hair, they tested the best 37.  And the result was...

Suspense is killing you, I know!

That none of them proved to be of an unknown creature.  Most were bears, canine, or deer.  However the focus was on DNA from hair, that doesn't exactly mean the quest is over.  Russian scientists are particularly hopeful.

Some scientists examine footprints and what happens to them in the snow melt.
Some track down human anomalies.

And if you want to know what is supposed to attract them, well, leave out green crisp apples and some chocolate!

OK, there is never going to be a genealogy that takes you all the way back to a Neanderthal.  However, there are people alive whose DNA is very rare, especially for where they are living, and the story about the "wild woman," will intrigue you.

As you read this book, you'll remind  yourself that even scientists of Sykes caliber are human.

C 2018 Ancestry Worship Genealogy

02 May 2018


The recent capture of The Golden State Killer - a serial killer responsible for many murders and even more rapes - that they know about - and based on DNA evidence - put me and many others into a spin.  Well, the first thing is that the man captured may have his day in court but basically he has already been outed, tried, and convicted, by the media and THAT IS NOT WHAT THE UNITED STATES IS ALL ABOUT.  Or is it?

Here in the U.S. we must assume innocence and prove guilt.  It's just the opposite in other countries.  Though this is and has long been one of the most important open cases and we as a people want justice, I watched televised news, YouTube reportages, and read a dozen articles piggybacking on each other about the case.  At first while the use of DNA genealogy databases had been used came up, leaving us to wonder WHICH ONE, first came DENIALS by a couple of them that they HAD NOT COOPERATED WITH INVESTIGATIONS.

Well, it's easy enough to set yourself up - or borrow someone else's - to get in and use the account pretending that all you're interested in is more people to invite to that family reunion because SO MUCH depends on what we used to call "Scout's Honor."

So of course I wanted to know WHICH ONE and finally was revealed.  GEDMATCH

YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE A DNA TEST, have the results just for yourself, and not have them included in ANY database, not at all, from the start. 
This is not however the first or only time the use of DNA databases has been used.
For instance, statistics are computed using them, which I suppose the researchers just don't think is personal enough to have to ask each individual.

Reading around the investigative work that lead to the arrest, it's also clear that they didn't just use GENEALOGY rather than LAW ENFORCEMENT databases, they also had to cull some DNA from the suspect and though it has not been described it's clear they were in his garbage cans and the DNA could be from bodily substances such as hair, saliva, and so on.
Makes you think three times about throwing out those fast food containers.

Personally, this put my own DNA  research on hold.
And though it sounds like it will be difficult for the man to argue he is innocent, let's hold onto that INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY that is so important in defining what is American!  Because that and our PRIVACY RIGHTS are being demolished.

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