Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Found - family not known

Have you ever felt like you were on a roller coaster and hanging on for dear life? Well that was me this past week. Why?
Turning back the pages to 6 weeks earlier...

Turn the pages back to 6 weeks earlier...
I've been trying to find anything out about my mother's side of the family. I've always felt like she almost crawled out from under a rock because she never would talk much about her family (as you could probably tell from my entries in A Book of Me Written By You). I knew my middle name came from her mother, she said not anything flattering about my grandfather, and I knew my grandmother was in a mental hospital. Oh and her grandfather's first wife, Annie, was loved by all. That's the extent of the information she let go.

Now, that I'm looking up my family history, every now and then I start to searching for her family names again - Jagodzinski, Ostryzycki, Gauquie and Larson - and start to find people with the names in common. I start to read up on the pages I find and can guess at where they are placed. Then I start to get some obituaries, which always has a ton of information. One of these was for my great aunt
From my Great Aunt Helen's Funeral page
Helen and I learned she had just died within a few days. Always so close to finding those ancestors but never quite make it. Anyhow, I leave a message stating how sorry we were about the loss because for me it was - it was another close link to finding out more about my grandfather and those in his family.

Time marches on...Present time
Recently I've been contacted by someone with one of the above mentioned surnames, but what kind of reception would they have of me and of the family? Very lightly, I reply back to the person and find they wanted to know where we were and they knew someone was in one of the towns I grew up but didn't know who.

I feel like all of my Christmas' have come at once - 2 1/2 months early! Now I get to know more about my grandfather's side of the family and now know more about my mother's family. It proves that sometimes it pays to look for others in your family. At the present time we are taking baby steps to get to know each other.

However, I do want to make it known, that this could have gone the other direction. Many times people feel everyone wants something from you and you either get the welcome back to the family or you get the what do you want and why did you contact us again for. Truthfully, I was expecting the latter response due to how my mother would say things when she gave me the bits of information I had about her family. Thankfully, its not always the case and now I have another whole side of the family I get to acknowledge and talk to.

Further finds
I have also been able to locate my great grandparents' graves. They are on find a gave and boy the picture put on one of the headstones looks like my grandmother and her sister, Aunt Honey.

My 2x great grandmother who came from Poland to the US
Getting back to the roller coaster feeling, is because its great to find out tiny bits of information here and there - like flying around the track- but at the bottom of  turns and such I'm always asking myself why? Why doesn't my mother want me to talk to them? Meet them? Have a relationship with them? Why?  This I still cannot figure out. Then I the ride climbs up and I find out more information and it starts again...

Yes, its taken me about 10 years to find this information, but its so rewarding when you have finds like I've had in the last few weeks.
The answer to this is my whole family - old and new.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

DNA or Not to DNA - that's the complicated question!

Within the last 12 months, my husband and I have gotten into the DNA testing. Why DNA? Well, my reasoning was to see how much it would pick up and in what areas of the world. Also, if I could find any cousins - still alive (I was thinking Poland here) - this would maybe help to do it.

My Origins Map in FamilyTree DNA from my kit F342056
My husband's reasoning was a bit more purposeful - he wanted to see if he could find out what faction of the Fitzgerald's in Ireland he was.

Before we got too far ahead, the question was - which DNA company do we go to? Ancestry? 23andMe? Family Tree DNA? Is there any others better? Which ones should we stay away from? I put it in the too hard basket and moved on. The husband did not. Away he went researching his little heart out and then he had a person who thought they were related ask him if he would do one as her father was adopted and she wanted to compare her families DNA with his. He agreed and she sent him one - from Family Tree DNA.

He did get into some conversations with others who were using this technology and found it really useful. One of which was Dr Maurice Gleeson MB who has actually sat down and looked at these DNA companies.

Taken from Dr Gleeson's lecture in Aug 2014
As you can see, depending on what type of result you want and who you want to find, is which test you should use. Below is the whole talk of Dr. Gleeson.

We have gone and done the Family Tree DNA. The reasoning behind this was because we want to know closer as well as far away cousins to connect to. This way we can use as much paperwork as we can, as well as DNA, to link up with other family.

Other tools:
Be aware once you do the DNA test, send it in and get the results back (mine took about 3-4 months), then you can look at matches. However, if you want to find cousins that cover just who took the DNA test at the same place you did, you just use the company's software.

However, if you want to try and connect with other cousins from other companies, you will have to use another type of tool to do this. One the husband's been using a bit is GedMatch. This allows you to put your kit number (you get this once your DNA test is done) in and then it will match with others who have uploaded their kits.
A snip of my Gedmatch matches.

Its not the easiest tool to use, but at least there is one out there to be used. It can also test certain links between multiple people (triangulate) as well.

Different Types of Tests

Some of the TV shows like Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? have used the DNA or at least talked about the DNA side of things.

Remember females care 2 X's of DNA and males care 1 X and 1 Y. This is why there are different
DNA tests for each sex.

They've said terms like:

Haplogroup - from wikipedia - a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutation in all haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, it is possible to predict a haplogroup from haplotypes.

Autosomal - from wikipedia - a chromosome that is not an allosome (i.e., not a sex chromosome). It can take the X and then use an X or Y from either person and so on. It could for instance do mother-grandmother-grandfather or something along those lines.

X-DNA - this is using only the X's in your DNA which is half of them typically. This is use to disprove DNA and it can reach back many, MANY generations. Think of Daughter-Mom-Mom-Mom (and on and on).

cM or centimorgan - from wikipedia - The number of base-pairs to which it corresponds varies widely across the genome (different regions of a chromosome have different propensities towards crossover).

Confused yet? I know my head's spinning by me just going over the terms. Like I stated at the top, we've used it for about a year now and I'm confused, but my husband is determined and each night I have at least 2 hours worth of talk (usually its replays of the past nights of talk) about DNA information and people.  

 As I said in the title of this post - It's a complicated question! It depends on what you want to do the test for? To prove something? Disprove? See if others are out there? All of these are valid. If you want to do the test just to do it? Well, I wouldn't do it then if I were you. We've had experiences as we've tried to reach out and contact some of these people only for the email addresses not be valid, or them not contacting us back, or them getting very annoyed and finally them telling us to never contact them again when we only asked if they knew a certain ancestor or how far they could go back. All innocent questions, but they took it as we wanted all their information. Wrong...we wanted to talk about the information to see if we had a common link.

On a side note, since joining the DNA testing, I have had an experience where someone in the kit has died. Talk about awkward and upsetting as it would have been great to see how we were connected but I just found him about 9 months too late.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Telling Your Story & Sharing Your Family Tree - New Online Resources

I belong to many different email and Facebook groups in relation to genealogy and because of this I'm always looking up and playing with different ways to tell stories as I know them through facts. Although sometimes they start off as family stories and I try and see what I can find in relation to those stories. Then I tell the story as far as I know it to date.

Anyhow, as I go through these groups, there are different links for online resources and I try them out and see how it goes. There are ranges of these online resources - some things need to get a bit further ahead and other things are just not good at all or crap. Many times, I do keep the link and go back after a bit and retrial them out to see if they've gotten better or worse, because if a resource is just starting to get used, sometimes it just needs a chance to grow rather than just classifying it as crap and moving on - like fine wine.

Anyhow, some new online resources I've been looking at are:
  • Ancestry Cloud - is still in beta format, but I was allowed in to trial it. I think the promise is there but I'm hoping once it gets some growth in it, it will be great. However, at the moment, its still a wait, see and play type of area. I wouldn't put any real information into it as yet, but lets hope it grows to be great. 
    Taken from Ancestry Cloud's website (link above)
  • Who Do You Think You Are story. This online resource came from a reader of my IT blog. Its takes its ideas from the hit TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?". You put your family tree information in - basic stuff like name, a picture, year of birth and place. I played for a tiny bit and was able to put the following family members information in: Mine, my parents, my grandparents. Then I could play and share it. It also gave me options for putting in more people and other timeline events like death and other events. I thought it was set up really well. The pictures I had to play a bit in order to make sure the face fit into the area, but the face recognition if you had more than one person in the pictures was great. What was a bit of a shock was when I played it, the program actually put some history facts in without me doing anything. I wasn't expecting that at all. I would actually have people use this to share information with others. 
Taken from Who Do You Think You Are Story website (link above)
  • HistoryPin - This is where people place pictures of places (or it can be people) and then  you can search on a place on the map and see if anyone has pictures for the year you want. However, I think its still growing and there are some pictures but at the places I checked (Poland, Germany, Hudson Valley in NY) and there aren't a lot for those areas. I think/hope this needs to grow. 
Taken from historypin's website (link above)
There are some pretty good online things you can now do if you want to tell a story with your genealogy, so go ahead and try some of these new websites. You never know you might find an easier way to share with others.