Oh boy! This was a tough one. There are plenty of people in my family tree I’d love to have over from dinner and conversation. Narrowing down my prospects wasn’t easy. I decided to pick someone from my Dad’s side of the tree since I picked Mom’s side last week.
Soon, I will be highlighting my immigrant ancestors here on the blog. That means you’ll be hearing more about George Thorward. I picked him for this prompt because I know he has some stories to tell. I have so many questions for him.
Was his name really George Thorward… George Yohn? Johann Georg Weigel?
Did you emigrate from Germany for political reasons?
Did you and your brother really make up your name and then go in different directions?
Were you close to your siblings?
How many siblings did you have?
Did you all immigrate?
Why did you come to America so young?
What happened to your parents?
Did you share your immigration story with your children or was it a secret?
I can honestly say if George were still around there would be plenty of questions from me and his other descendants!
I thought long and hard about how I would interpret the prompt this week. I was going to do the longest living male and female. Then I was going to do the longest married couple. Thinking about all those tempted me to look in my old file, so I decided right then and there I was going to poke around my current Do-Over file and see what jumped out at me.
Mary Jane Mays-Jegley
Aunt Janie was my Grandpa Stanley’s half-sister. Aunt Janie stood out to me because at the current part of my Do-Over I am trying to untangle the online theories about her father and his parents. That’s a story for a different day. I’m here to spotlight Janie. She is the daughter of William Harmon Mays and Sarah Elizabeth McDaniels. I’ve talked about them a few times. Here is their marriage record and this is a timeline of William’s life. I also talked about a census entry for Sarah in 1910 that had me curious. More on that later as well. She was born in September of 1906 in Rowan County, Kentucky. After her mother’s early passing, she moved to Clermont County with her father and paternal grandparents.
That is 94 miles away from any other family that they had. That is a massive distance in the early 1900s, especially for rural farmers who didn’t have much. I don’t know what prompted the family to move. It does seem that there was plenty of sicknesses going around at the time, but I haven’t been able to research fully to know if there was an increased death rate in the area. To move so far, so completely away from everyone, it must have been something though.
After moving to Clermont County, William hired Iva Belle Moyer to look after Janie and he eventually married her. Janie married George Jegley in January of 1928 in Clermont County and they had a son. My Grandma didn’t write down all of Janie’s descendants, so I’m going to have a heck of a time finding them all, but I hope they all know how much my mother’s family loved her. I haven’t heard anyone speak an ill word of Aunt Janie.
From what I can tell, Janie was close with her brothers and her sister in law, Emogene. She often wrote letters to Emogene… but more on that later. 😉
Aunt Janie lived to be 93 years, 7 months, and 1 day old. She currently has the longest lifespan in my family tree file of 480 people. In addition to that, she outlived the average female lifespan in my database by close to 30 years and the longest living male in my database by 7 years.
This is a special treat for those that followed along all those years ago when I posted The Diary of Llewellyn for 3 years. Many will recall midway through the Diary, my Great-Grandpa Bill started showing up with his future wife. One of their favorite activities to do was dance.
I miss the Diary entries but I love filling in the gaps like this…
In fact, if you search this blog for “we danced” it comes up more than once!
This is one of my favorite photos because 50 years later and you can tell she still loved dancing with him!
It’s time to talk about my DNA matches again. I’ve been immersing myself in my matches. One of the Facebook groups I am a member of told me that the best way to learn about your DNA is to get familiar with your results. That’s what I’ve been focusing on since it’s way too cold to be outside…
Okay, I probably wouldn’t have been outside anyway. It’s never been my thing.
Where were we?
The last time I posted about my DNA, this chart was where I left things. I was going through trying to identify my public tree matches to see what I could tell about them. Everything is listed in my Excel spreadsheet. While I was going through, I also made a point of adding a star and note to each match that I identified. Boy am I glad I did that now. Wait until I show you this!
That was very clever of me!
To save screen space, I will just tell you I got a bunch of new matches over the holiday. That left me with a lot of stuff to add to my database. No problem, I have a process for that! Well, as you all know new matches don’t usually have trees. That’s okay, I’m sure some will put some up eventually. In the meantime, I can still work with that. For purposes of our example, Let’s say I have a new DNA match named New Cousin. He’s awesome because he chose to share his DNA matches with us and that’s alright in my book.
Woah there, that’s a lot, what am I looking at?
I’m glad you asked! Okay, above this text you should see a list of my shared matches with New Cousin. The special treat is that I’ve been adding stars and comments to each match I’ve identified. What you see above is what happened when I clicked that starred matches button at the top of my screen.
When I look at my notes for each person, I started to notice a pattern. Besides the two William and Anna matches at the bottom and my 2nd Cousin match at the top, the list is definitely favoring a Joseph Slusher and Nancy Wade descendant.
I am extremely lucky and cursed.
As well all know with DNA matches, this isn’t a given result for everyone. You have to be lucky enough to have the information given by your matches and then you have to know how to extract as much information from as little information as you can. On top of that luck, there was another little factor that worked to my advantage.
Mays and Slusher Families
It just so happens that three Mays children married three Slusher children. Given the size of the families, before that fact is taken into account, odds were always very good that I would have a lot of Mays and Slusher matches. The interesting part is that most of these matches aren’t coming from the Mays sections of the Slusher tree. My ancestor John Mays only had 3 children survive to adulthood and they only had a few children themselves. Some of these families were very prolific. One grandson of Joseph and Nancy had 20 children! Allegedly, of course, all this could be thrown in the cold, snowy night if my Do-Over takes a dramatic turn. Hopefully not though! HA!
Note: I am using my old file to keep up with DNA match correspondence, though I am upfront with everyone that I am re-entering everything from the beginning.
This new year, I’m hoping to be way more organized than last year. I didn’t do too bad in 2017, but I would really like to stay a little more focused when it comes to writing up my findings or even just sharing information with my family on social media. It feels like I’m sharing the same things all the time with no context.
One cool thing I’m trying to do this year is participating more in writing prompts. 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks sounds like a fun way to start. I’m sure I won’t be posting all 52 weeks, but as many as I can sounds perfect!
Week 01 Prompt: Start
The first week’s prompt has the vague meaning of Start. When I read this prompt, I immediately thought of my start in genealogy. I was doing an eighth-grade project. I don’t remember the specific project but my mother just happened to mention it to my Grandma Emogene. She was visiting us at the time. What I didn’t realize until that moment was that my Grandmother traveled with a copy of the family tree.
The blue binder is the tree and the white binder is corresponding pictures. I’ve talked about it previously in entries. Reminiscing about the Beginning in 2010, Me in 2011 and Fearless Females: Heirlooms in 2011. It’s possible I talked more about it. After blogging for almost 8 years now it’s hard to keep track.
I know that I’ve disproved much of that beginning paragraph, but the basis of the book, the actual family information is more accurate than I expected. It’s only after this recent Do-Over that I realized it. I hunted down the person titled “Me” in the right side picture. Though I’ve yet to research her.
It’s funny, I even remember a great moment with Grandma. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last year. When we were looking at this book, I saw the three sets of twins that Mollie Jane Webb had and I thought to myself that’s a lot of twins! Grandma looked right at me and said, “Well maybe you or your siblings will have twins someday.” It’s strange to say it but ever since that moment I knew twins were coming to us. I was probably the only person not shocked when my brother and sister-in-law announced they were having twins last year.
Not a bad start to my genealogy at all if you ask me. Thanks for giving me my passion for this Grandma!
This series of posts are based on the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook by Thomas MacEntee. I highly recommend it. 🙂 I just want to say there are parts of this workbook that I am not posting about, so if you would like the full set of tasks, then visit Thomas’ page or purchase the workbook.
If you haven’t been able to tell by my lack of posts, I’ve hit a plateau in my Do-Over. It doesn’t have to do with a brain block, a brick wall, or lack of information. I have plenty to do, and I know exactly what I’m supposed to do next. I’ve even ordered some new records. For some reason, I’m just struggling to get moving on any of it. I’m unsure if it’s just a little bit of burnout, the holidays, or just an overall tiredness.
The screenshot above shows my public DNA tree at Ancestry.com. It’s the easiest way to show the progress I’ve made in my Genealogy Do-Over. As I move through my list, I delete or update people in the public tree. It’s quite obvious that I’m on the John Mays/Celia Slusher section of the tree. I have been uploading documents and pictures to all the trees that are public on any of the DNA websites.
This takes quite a bit of time. There are days that I only work with one record.
Are there any big changes that you’ve had to make?
Though it’s not a big change, I did change John Mays’ name from John Harmon Mays in my database to John Mays. This death certificate is the only official document I’ve found referring to this man as Harmon. The only other instance was the cemetery plot records. Notice that his son Harmon Mays is the informant on this record. That leaves the possibility of “operator error” when asked Full Name at the top of the document. For now, Harmon is just an alternate name in my database and no longer an accepted form of his name.
The second change was John’s birth date. Its unclear to me if it was my error at the time or if I just trusted the transcription. I believe I had this record in a paper copy before it was put online, so I think it was probably me. Most online trees even agree on the original date of 4 Sep 1872. However, upon reviewing this again, I do believe it is 24 Sep 1872. Which doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but it just goes to show I’m paying much closer attention to details now.
I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday seasons. I hope to have another DNA entry up in the new year!
After my previous post, some of you may be wondering what goes into the Notes section of my Excel spreadsheet. This is actually the first time I’m writing down this process, so I’m hoping it makes sense to someone other than myself!
My first step is to take a visual look at my matches. The results you see above are my matches closer than 4th cousin. With my working knowledge of the family tree, I’m able to tell just by looking at these matches who 50% of them are. That’s including my father. I’ve obviously edited out the pictures and names of the matches to protect their privacy.
As you can see, most of my close matches aren’t sharing any kind of public tree. Except, of course, some of them are sharing unlinked trees. Right away, when I’m going through my fourth cousin matches, I will add a note if my third cousin shares that match. For example, if I share a match with my 2nd cousin then I put, Shared match with 2nd cousin. Using their member name in place of the relationship.
My next step is to go through each match and see who we both share a match with. The screenshot above shows that this 3rd cousin match is a match shared with my father and two other 3rd cousins. One of those third cousins is already on my known list. From that match alone, it narrows down where this match comes in significantly. Not only for the match who I am looking at but for the other unknown third cousin match.
For this match in her Note section would read, Shared match with ‘3rd cousin’ and ‘3rd cousin’. I don’t add that my father is a match because I already have a box for that in my excel sheet.
My next step shows how even an unlinked family tree can help determine which section of your family tree a match comes from. This third cousin match has a small family tree that’s not attached to their DNA results. That means I have no idea if the DNA results are for the home person on this family tree. I can’t know without asking. I’m not ready to ask yet because I’m still rebuilding my core family tree. The two surnames that are shown above (Theademan, Moyer) are very familiar to me though. My great-grandma was a Moyer. That means I’m comfortable making another change to my list.
Re-Visiting my List
Okay, so now I know where eight out of my ten matches are coming from. I used a different symbol to denote that while I think I know where the match comes from, I’m still not sure. This is still a clue to identifying someone in my 4th cousin match list. If any of these third cousins come up as a shared match, then it goes into my notes section.
The last two matches
My last two matches are the most difficult ones. The first one has a public tree, but nothing that looks familiar. The second match has a tree but it is private. The one thing going for me is that when I look at the shared matches for each one, the other is listed. That means all three of us match. That doesn’t mean we match at the same spot, but that we are all related to people in common somewhere.
When looking at the matches, I realized not only did we have each other all in common. We all had a fourth cousin in common. That fourth cousin also has a public tree up. I recognized the Slusher name from this match. The funny thing about the Slushers is that I usually match with them as double cousins. There were 3 Mays siblings that married 3 Slusher siblings. That means we could all descend from different Mays/Slusher couples or the same one. One of us might not even be connecting through the Mays/Slusher mess but somewhere else. Without knowing those other two people, it’s difficult to say. As if DNA matches weren’t hard enough!
So now if I match with these third cousins and that particular fourth cousin, I add in the fourth cousin to my notes section. This gives me a starting point for my next level of analyzation. I sure am good at analyzing things to the point of exhaustion!
The Final List
Okay, the above screenshot shows my final list of 2nd and 3rd DNA cousin matches. The ‘i’ symbol on those last two matches shows that I just don’t have enough information on them. Now that I have a general idea where a lot of my matches come from, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. That’s not the end though. There is one last thing I have in my Notes section.
What happens when there are no second or third cousin matches?
Yup. I have quite a few of those as well. There are many types of notes that aren’t using a cousin match.
Descendant of … : Usually, if they have a public tree that I see familiar names on.
Descended through: This one is if they are descended through a known sibling of my ancestors.
Only 1 shared match: There are 16 matches that only have one shared match.
Possible Surname connection: If I see a pattern or surnames that I’m familiar with.
DNA Circle: I only have a few DNA circles and they come and go depending on my cousin matches opening and closing their public trees. Though I feel like a lot of my sorting and organization is leading me to create my own DNA circles.
Unknown Connection: 213 of my cousin matches are still a mystery to me. I have 493 charted. That means about 43% of my matches still need more work. In the grand scheme of things, I think that’s a good start. That means I will probably be able to figure out over 50% of my matches without too much hassle.
My web hosting company will be planning some server upgrades one week from now (around October 31st). This is an upgrade that should only take about 45 minutes. My website might be unavailable for a short time while this upgrade takes place!
Here I am again, after another absence. This one was partially on purpose. Sometimes you just need a mental break from genealogy. It’s not a bad thing. Over the years, I’ve learned it helps me to focus better if I just walk away from it for a week or two. The rest of my break, I have been working on learning about DNA. Oh, man has that been a journey! I’m obviously still learning and probably will never fully understand.
During Amazon Prime Day this year, I purchased three 23andMe DNA tests. I had previously tested myself and my Dad on Ancestry. I thought since I had never used 23andMe before, I might want to go ahead and re-test my Dad to see the differences between the companies. In addition to testing my Dad, I also tested my mother and her brother.
The biggest thing I’ve gotten from DNA test results is information overload! Learning from my fellow genealogists, I know that the cure for information overload is learning and organization. The overload comes from not understanding what you are looking at. That means I have to learn more and I have to find a better way for my brain to process it. Okay, that’s definitely something I can do!
The image above is the Excel spreadsheet that I made to wrangle my DNA matches. This is after I watched about 10 DNA webinars, and some of them I watched twice. The main problem I have found from a research standpoint with Ancestry DNA matches is you have to go into each tree and click on multiple things to see all the information. From a research perspective, that’s a lot of wasted clicks and time.
Before carpel tunnel sets in, I wanted to have a way of pinpointing a focus subject without having to click 3,987 times. The following are my headers and the reason.
Username: Ancestry uses its own messaging system for DNA matches, so I made sure to put down the username of all my matches. In the case of someone who has a manager of their DNA test, I put Username (managed by Username).
Predicted Relationship: This is the relationship that Ancestry thinks I share with the person. I have 473 4th Cousin or closer matches and my Dad has 223. That’s a lot. Not only is that a lot but there are hundreds of pages of more distant matches. I chose to stick to the 4th cousin and closer matches except for the case of Shared Ancestor Hints. If I had a distant cousin match but we also shared an ancestor hint, I added them to my spreadsheet.
Shared Hint, Common Ancestor: This is my favorite column. This one shows me who is already showing as having an ancestor match with me. Before I actually started tracking these matches, I didn’t realize I had so many on my Dad’s side. I always assumed most of my matches came from my mother’s well-documented side.
Public or Private Tree?: This one speaks for itself. I’m able to tell at a glance if the tree is public and might hold a lot of clues, or if I’m going to need some caffeine and my thinking cap. Probably some patience too.
Unlinked Tree: This is one of those hidden, but wonderful clues into those Private trees everyone is so upset about. Sometimes, if you are lucky, someone has an unlinked family tree on their account. In Ancestry, you have to go in and link test results to a tree. People don’t always do that and they certainly aren’t required to. However, sometimes they might have a tree already online and just haven’t linked their results to it. Of course, you can never be sure unless you ask them if those results go with that tree, but it’s better than no information at all.
Shared cM: This is the section I know the least about. This number is how Ancestry determines that Predicted Relationship. Mostly what I know is the higher centi-morgans you share, the closer your relationship. There are tons of tools and charts out there that break this down much better than me!
Confidence Level: Ancestry gives every match a confidence level. It was pretty interesting to compare my results with my Dad’s. Some of those High results were Extremely High for him or even the other way around.
Shared Matches: A simple yes or no. There aren’t many no answers but now I’m able to see them with 1 click of my mouse.
Contacted: This column is for if I’ve contacted the person yet or not.
Matched with Kathleen or Dad?: The column says something different for each tab. On my test, it’s an easy way for me to see what is most likely a paternal match. On my Dad’s test, it was an easy way for me to filter out the yes answers and delete the no answers after copying the tab. It saved me from re-typing 83 matches.
What about Notes? What about those 23andMe results?
Well, I’d like to tell you all about it but I can’t! The Notes section will take a little bit more space to explain and this entry is already really long. As for 23andMe, GEDMatch and other DNA results, I’m still figuring out how to organize them. This is a work in progress, but you can be sure I’ll keep my family and friends updated!