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January 31, 2013

Ship Journal De Bever 1661 Holland to New York Now Online

Sample Page from Journal of De Bever Sailing from Holland to New Netherland New York 1661
Page from De Bever Journal
Wonderful news for those of us with early Dutch ancestors in New Netherland (present day New York)!

Thanks to Terry Vanderhoof, a translation and transcript of De Bever Journal of May-July 1661 is now on line at The Vanderhoof Project.

You may also view the "passenger list" (the list of names of those who owed passage money) for De Bever at Olive Tree Genealogy Ships Passenger Lists to New Netherland (New York) 1624-1664

I asked Terry to tell us how this project to transcribe the ship's journal began. Here is his answer. Please note that I have taken the liberty of adding links to online passenger lists for any ships Terry mentions, as well as other relevant links.

The Voyage of De Bever
by Terry Vanderhoof

I guess that finding the key to the story of the voyage at 35,000 feet over mid-Atlantic is pretty appropriate, as I've often looked down at the ocean and wondered if De Bever ever sailed in the waters we could see below us.  I'd been reading Jaap Jacob's 2005 book "New Netherland: A Dutch Colony In Seventeenth-Century America" during the flight to New York and noticed an intriguing reference to the "Ship's Logs Gulden Bever, Gulden Otter, Hoop and Roseboom 1660-1663"  This was puzzling for, in the years I'd been researching the Vanderhoof family, no mention of a log for the Bever voyage had ever been mentioned.  The bibliography of Jaap Jacob's subsequent book "The Colony of New Netherland : A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-century America" (2009) gave more detail, giving as a source an article in De Halve Maen of January 1968 by Dr Kenneth Scott .

Scott's article was based on a partial translation of an original document held by the New York Historical Society "Journael Behouden opt'schip den Gulden Bever en t'schip den Gulden Otter" but, for reasons of space, Dr Scott only included a summary of each voyage in the article and omitted  much of the routine positional and weather details.

The NYHS were very helpful but were in the midst of a major refurbishment project and unable to provide any copies for several months.  So, we had to make do with an image of the first page of the Journal from their online catalogue and make a start decoding the handwriting and making sense of some of the abbreviations and nautical terms. Scott's article revealed that the original 37-page journal contained descriptions of four voyages based on notes kept by an unknown author, probably an employee of the Dutch West India Company

* First Voyage : The Vergulde Otter 10 Oct  4 Dec 1660 New Amsterdam to Texel.
* Second Voyage : The Vergulde Bever 9 May  29 Jul 1661 Texel to New Amsterdam (on which the party from Beesd travelled)
* Third Voyage : The Hoop 8 Sept - 26 Oct 1662 New Amsterdam to Texel.
* Fourth Voyage : The Rooseboom 30 Mar  3 June 1663 Texel to New Amsterdam

In early 2012, the scans of the part of the Journael describing the 1661 voyage of De Bever arrived and we were able to continue the  project. Helped by a number of Nederlands speakers from
the Historische Kring West Betuwe, the archivists at the Regional Archief Rivierenland at Geldermalsen/Tiel and the staff of the Sheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam, a transcription and translation of the account of the 1661 voyage of De Bever emerged.  The handwriting was pretty readable for the period - most likely copied at a later date from rough notes kept at sea - and we managed to decode most of the technical seafaring terms with a good deal of help.  As always, direct translations from Dutch to English aren't always possible and we hope we have reached a reasonable balance between readability and faithfulness to the original text.

One major revelation was that De Bever hadn't taken the 'traditional' route via the Caribbean but had first headed for the north of Scotland, attempting to reach the Atlantic via the straits north of the Orkney Islands. This decision was probably made because of the uneasy state of relations between Portugal and the Netherlands at the time but almost ended in disaster as De Bever and her companion the St Jan Baptist were caught in a storm in the Moray Firth.

As always, opening one door reveals a whole row of new doors to be opened and now that some details of the voyage are clearer, many further questions need to be asked.  How was the voyage planned? How did the 37 folks from Beesd get to Amsterdam? How long did they stay there?  What was the induction and boarding process? What was life on ship like?

Hopefully, some of these questions will be answered in the near future.

January 30, 2013

Pride Causes Death

When I research my ancestors, I also research their siblings and spouses on every generation. I do this because a) it's interesting and b) you never know when a record for a sibling will reveal information you haven't found on your direct ancestor.

Recently I was hunting for the obituary of a distant Peer relative and found a sad, yet intriguing notice about her in an Indiana newspaper of 1937.

Mary A. Peer was born in Berrien Michigan in 1857 and married Robert Curran in Michigan in 1883. At some point after her husband's death in 1889, Mary and her son Elwood Curran moved to the area of South Bend Indiana.

I don't know much about Mary but I did know she died in September 1937 so I decided to hunt on GenealogyBank for a newspaper obituary. To my surprise I found this item on page 1 of the Valparaiso Vidette Messenger published on August 19, 1937


"Because she was too proud to ask for charity, Mrs. Mary A. Curran, 82 [sic], is dying of starvation in Epworth Hospital today. She was found in bed in her shabby little shack where she lived alone...."

The article goes on to say that a neighbour decided to check on her because he hadn't seen her in three days.

"She had only a few potatoes and a sack of oatmeal in the home. She once applied for a state old-age pension but withdrew it on the protest she would have an income from her farm."

What is even sadder is that according to the article, her only son Elwood was in another hospital at the time. I am sure he would have taken care of his mother had he been able to. Mary must have lingered in her weakened state, because according to my records she did not die until September 10th, some three weeks after this article was published.

I could not find an obituary but do not have access to the South Bend Tribune where I understand there is one.  Thanks to crowdsourcing on my Facebook page, I learned that the St. Joseph County Public Library has an online index to obituaries in the South Bend Tribune from 1913-present. Researchers can pay a small fee for lookups, so off I went and sure enough there were 3 entries for Mary A. Curran. I printed the request form, filled it out and will mail it today. I hope to learn more of Mary's sad story from the notices.

Poor Mary, her husband died so soon after they were married, leaving her with a very young son. To die in such sad circumstances is indeed a cruel twist of fate.

January 29, 2013

And the Winner is......

Congratulations to Margie Stein Beldin, who won the Olive Tree Genealogy 3-day Conference Pass to the 3rd annual RootsTech conference on March 21-23, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah

Margie told me that
   The ONE, amongst several, class that I would like to attend at RootsTech 2013 is:

  Can a Complex Research Problem Be Solved Solely Online? presented by  Thomas W. Jones

I will do almost anything to hear him talk. Dr. Jones makes genealogy fascinating, complex and yet understandable and doable. He is a great presenter and one person who really makes me think!
Enjoy RootsTech, Margie!

Credits: Thanks goes to  RootsTech who provided the 3-Day Conference Pass for Olive Tree Genealogy to award in a Giveaway Contest

January 28, 2013

Winner of Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner on an Outing With Her Scanner

Last October, Olive Tree Genealogy held a giveaway for a  Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and Carry Case. The winner was Shirley Farrar and Shirley was kind enough to send me photos of how and where she used her new Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner outside the home.

Shirley tells me that she didn't go to the Ontario Archives as her first outing, instead she conducted some genealogy research at Toronto's First Post office. This post office was built in 1833. It is the sole surviving example of a British Colonial post office in Canada (the Canadian postal service was established in 1851) and the only museum in Canada that collects and studies pre-confederation British North-American postal history.

According to the website, its library and archives are available to researchers by appointment. As a National Historic Site it tells the story of the Royal Mail in Upper Canada (present day Ontario).
Olive Tree Genealogy Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Giveaway Winner at Toronto First Post Office
Toronto's First Post Office

Olive Tree Genealogy Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Giveaway Winner at Toronto First Post Office

Olive Tree Genealogy Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Giveaway Winner at Toronto First Post Office
Shirley Using her Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
It looks like Shirley is enjoying her new  Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner!

Disclaimer: Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner & carry case were provided courtesy of Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

January 27, 2013

Winners in the Blog Book Tour How to Archive Family Keepsakes

List of Winners from the Blog Book Tour Giveaways. If you see your name please visit Denise's blog to contact her.
Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator
Author, How to Archive Family Keepsakes

Week 1 Winner of the Family History Photo Archive Kit --
Mary Nelson, commenter at 4YourFamilyStories
Week 1 Runners Up, free copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes -- 
Annemarie Taylor, commenter at 4YourFamilyStories
Tina Telesca, commenter at The Armchair Genealogist
Week 2 Winner of the Family History Oversize Archive Kit --
Robyn, commenter at The Practical Archivist
Week 2 Runner Up, free copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes -- 
Cheryl Smallwood-Roberts, commenter at The In-Depth Genealogist
Twitter Tweeter Winner, free PDF copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes --
FaceBook Friend Winner, free PDF copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes --
Eli Melitz 
Google+ Winner, free PDF copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes --Jenna Mills

January 26, 2013

RootsTech 2013 Giveaway on Olive Tree Genealogy

Olive Tree Genealogy is pleased to offer one full 3-day conference pass (value $149 early bird price) to RootsTech 2013

You could be the lucky winner of a free pass to this amazing technology-genealogy conference being held in Salt Lake City Utah from March 21-23, 2013

 Here's what to do to enter this contest

1. Share the link to this blog post on a social media channel - Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, a mailing list, a newsletter... 

2. Go to the RootsTech 2013 website and tell me which session in the 3-day Conference you would most like to attend. I want to know the name of the session, the presenter and the day. 

3. Send an email to telling me WHERE you shared this blog post and the session (plus presenter and day) you want to see. 

Contest Rules:
1. No purchase necessary.
2. Winner will be chosen at random from entries received. See details above for entry requirements
3. Giveaway starts Saturday January 26, 2013 10 am EST and ends at 10 pm EST Monday, January 28, 2013
4. You are responsible for anything in regards to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which you live.
5. The winner will be notified via your provided contact information and the winner's name will be posted on Olive Tree Genealogy blog.

Please note that only entries received at can be accepted.

Disclaimer: Conference Pass for the Giveaway  generously provided by RootsTech

January 25, 2013

23andMe DNA Test Kits Arrive

Olive Tree Genealogy: DNA Tests from 23andMe
My 23andMe DNA kits arrived yesterday. I ordered three - one for my brother (for Y-DNA), one for me (for mtDNA) and one for my husband (for Y-DNA)

We've already had our DNA tested at Family Tree DNA but we wanted to try another company and see what kind of results we get. 23andMe focuses on genetic health issues and that's intriguing. But I'm also interested in their

Previously I have written about my brother's Y-DNA results from Family Tree DNA
at Family Finder Test Results in for my Brother's DNA! His Predicted Haplogroup is I-M223.  Quoting from the website, this Haplogroup
"...has its roots in northern France. Today it is found most frequently within Viking / Scandinavian populations in Northwest Europe and extends at low frequencies into Central and Eastern Europe."
It's been really interesting reading up on this and finding out more about our McGinnis paternal line ethnic origins, especially since my brother's Y-DNA showed a mutation that scientists know exactly where and when it occurred! Turns out it was around the time Hadrian's Wall was built between England and Scotland and his gene mutation is known to have come from a group of Basque at this time.

I also had an exciting update on our results for Native American heritage, which you can read about at Update on DNA Testing for Native American Heritage

My mtDNA results from FT arrived and I wrote about those at mtDNA Test Results Arrived!
My Haplogroup is J2a1a1a2  but I still don't completely understand my full results.

I'm hoping 23andMe will provide more interesting details. 

Follow along with me as I get ready to provide the test sample and mail it back to 23andMe

January 24, 2013

Michigan Vital Records Responds to My Complaint

Incorrect Transcript 1876 Michigan
For those following my saga of ordering a marriage transcript from Michigan Vital Records, I received a response to my letter of complaint.

To summarize events - Using the VitalChek service, I ordered a rather expensive ($70.25) 1876 marriage record for Barney and Maggie McGinnis from Michigan. It arrived but Julie Cahill Tarr found the original image online and pointed out several errors in the transcript, including the wrong witnesses.

If you want to read about what happened, see

Disappointment of a Michigan Marriage Record
Caveat Emptor? Or Does Michigan have a Complaint Desk?
I wrote to Michigan Vital Records and explained what had happened. I kept my email brief and ended it by asking what they were going to do to rectify the situation.

It took 48 hours before I had a response. That was much faster than I anticipated! The email began with the fact that they had reviewed my order. The process of creating the transcript was explained

"Unfortunately, our searchers made an error when completing your request.  They actually have to photocopy the pages in a very large journal so that they have the information for our keyers when they transcribe the record.  They make the photocopy and highlight the information; however, in this case, they highlighted the wrong line on the second page."

Whoever wrote the email (there was no name included in the email) went on to say that they were redoing the transcript to show the correct information and would courier it to me at their expense. I understand why they would not offer a refund. The fact that the original image was online and I overlooked it is not their problem. I ordered a transcript (although I confess I thought I was ordering a copy of the actual image) and they were willing to correct their errors and send me the transcript I paid for.

It was disappointing to learn that the items that were omitted on the transcript (Barney's occupation and the church where the marriage occurred) are not part of what you pay for!

"Also, the name of the church where the marriage took place and Barney’s occupation are not issuable items on a transcribed marriage record."

The unsigned email ended with this apology

"I apologize for our error in processing your request.  We always try to provide good customer service, but sometimes we don’t always do that.  Please accept our sincere apologies, on behalf of the whole staff."

What gave me a chuckle was the added notation that "...we are including a self-addressed stamped envelope with your corrected record and ask that you put the incorrect record in it and return it to our office so that we can dispose of it properly. "

I had to laugh for two reasons - I think I can throw out a piece of paper either by crumbling it and tossing it in the garbage or shredding it in my shredder! Second chuckle was that I had a feeling that Michigan Vital Records didn't have loose Canadian postage lying around and the "stamped" envelope would arrive with an American stamp. Does everyone see where this is going?

Sure enough the corrected transcript arrived yesterday and yep - one American stamp on the envelope for me to return the incorrect transcript. Problem is that last time I checked Canada was not (yet) part of the USA and an American stamp doesn't cut it with Canada Postal Services! In other words if I mail something from within Canada I have to use a Canadian stamp!

It's mind-boggling to me  that an official organization such as Michigan Vital Records doesn't realize that every country has its own postage and that the sender of snail mail must use postage from their own country.  Since they were issuing me a new transcript they had my address and must have seen that I live in Ontario Canada.

And being a bit of a nit-picker I didn't like that the follow-up email from Michgan Vital Records didn't start with my name (it had no salutation, it just jumped into the body of the email) and had no signature of the person writing it. Just my 2cents Canadian (that's right, I'm not using American money) opinion that a business or professional email or letter should begin with Dear xxx and end with Sincerely yyy

January 23, 2013

A New Way to Learn More About Genealogy Books and Authors

The following NEWS RELEASE was sent to Olive Tree Genealogy by Denise May Levenick of The Family Curator blog. Denise has written a book How to Archive Family Keepsakes and many bloggers are participating in a fun and informative Blog Book Tour from January 10 to 26th.

Blog Book Tour Comes to A Computer Near You:
A New Way to Learn More About Genealogy Books and Authors

Family Curator Blog Book Tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes by Denise Levenick – On Tour from January 10-26th, 2013

The Virtual Book Tour brings new books and authors directly to the reader, and with the Blog Book Tour for Denise Levenick’s new book How to ArchiveFamily Keepsakes genealogists and family historians are browsing the pages of this new book via the internet during the16-day tour of popular blogs and websites January 10 – 26, 2013.

Blog book tours are popular trends in the general e-publishing world but had limited exposure in the family history community until Gena Philibert-Ortega introduced her book From the Family Kitchen to genealogists in a virtualbook tour in August, 2012. Enthusiastic response to Levenick’s blog book tour shows that the virtual tour continues to be a welcome new event.

After a successful launch January 10 at the author’s family history blog The Family Curator, the tour stopped at eight more websites. Each day, content and reviews gave readers a chance to sample Levenick’s new book and learn more about organizing and preserving family keepsakes and genealogy papers.

Free handouts, book excerpts, exclusive articles, reviews, and author interviews are among the different kinds of content posted in the opening week. Participating blogs included: Geneabloggers; GenealogyGems Podcast Blog; Moultrie Creek Gazette;, 4Your Family Story; OliveTree Genealogy;, TheArmchair Genealogist; Shadesof the Departed; and Dr.Bill Tells Ancestor Stories.
January 20-25 the Blog Book Tour continues with visits to six more genealogy blogs for new articles, interviews, and reviews -- Practical Archivist; TheIn-Depth Genealogist; Food. Family. Ephemera.; DearMYRTLE; AnceStories; and The Houstory Hearth.
How to Archive Family Keepsakes offers practical guidance for family historians:
           Helping a parent or loved one downsize to a smaller home
           Needing a simple, effective filing system for genealogy research
           Interested in scanning and making digital copies of genealogy records
           Looking for a way to preserve your family history and heirlooms for future generations

Proceeds from the sale of How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Book Tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 to assist young genealogists further their genealogical education.

For more information, visit the Blog Book Tour Page at The Family Curator website <>.

January 22, 2013

MEGA is Here - 50 GB Free Cloud Storage

I've discovered MEGA. MEGA is a new free cloud storage service based in New Zealand. I signed up yesterday and today I am happily uploading files into my 50 gigabytes of storage space. Yep, you heard me right. 50 GB. Free.

From the MEGA website "We are a dedicated group of technologists who were given the time, opportunity and Internet access to build an awesome cloud storage service that will help protect your privacy. We have programmed this Internet service from scratch in Auckland, New Zealand. Unlike most of our competitors, we use a state of the art browser based encryption technology where you, not us, control the keys."

This is very interesting because that is exactly what MEGA does. You register and create an Encryption Key. That's kind of like a password. The difference with an Encryption Key is that NO one but YOU knows what it is. MEGA doesn't know. Their programmers and staff don't know. That's the good part because it means there is no way for hackers or anyone else to see your stuff.

The caveat is that if you lose your Encryption Key you have lost all your files too. Because no one but you can get them ---- as long as you have your key.

50 GB of free cloud storage is pretty awesome but there's even more. A Pro Membership will buy you up to 4TB of storage. Yep for $29.99 a month you can have 4 TB of storage. $19.99 gets you 2TB and $9.99 provides you with 500GB.

That's impressive.

One tip - take their advice and log in with Chrome. I ignored the popup explaining that Chrome would give me a better experience and logged in with Firefox. I couldn't get my files to upload so I switched to Chrome and they uploaded very quickly.

I was worried because  living where I do with limited access to high speed Internet, I have what is commonly referred to as "last resort Internet service" (a 4G Satellite service) . I wasn't sure if the speeds would be high enough to allow me access to MEGA. But so far so good.

You may find it a bit sluggish since it seems everyone is jumping to sign up. If you do just be patient and wait a few days for the initial rush to die down. I'm pretty happy about having yet another spot to store my genealogy files but I'll still be uploading directly from my iPhone to Dropbox since MEGA doesn't (yet) have that capability. 

Image by scottchan at Free Digital Photos
Thanks to Dick Eastman of EOGN for his blog post alerting me to MEGA

January 21, 2013

Seeking Death Records isn't Always Easy

The genealogy community and my Olive Tree Genealogy blog readers rock! With their help I now have a correct copy of Maggie McGinnis' Michigan marriage certificate and legible copy of her California death certificate.

I've written a letter of complaint to Michigan Vital Records and will update readers on their response (if any). For those who haven't been following the saga, here are the blog posts. Be sure to read the comments!

Caveat Emptor? Or Does Michigan have a Complaint Desk?
And Now a California Death Record Disappointment!

Briefly,  the family I'm seeking consists of Bernard (Barney) McGinnis born 1852 in Ontario Canada and died 27 October 1902 in Denver Colorado. Barney married his cousin Margaret (Maggie) McGinnis. She was born in 1844 in Ontario Canada and died 8 April 1945 in Los Angeles California. 

Thanks to the kindness of a reader, I now have the obituary for Maggie which was published in the Los Angeles Times in April 1945. As a bonus my kind reader (who has access to ProQuest) also found the obit of Maggie and Barney's son Vincent Joseph McGinnis who died in 1949 in Los Angeles. 

This has been a tricky family to track (aren't they all!) so let me share with you what I have found to date:

Barney and Maggie married in Lapeer Michigan 17 December 1876. They are living in Galt Ontario in 1881, 1891, 1901. That is the last record of Barney until an obituary placed in a Guelph Ontario newspaper. I would like to find another obit in a Colorado paper.

Maggie is in Galt in 1911 and then found on a Border Crossing record dated 1916 where it states she was as in USA 1873-1877 in North Branch, Michigan and 1902-1906 in Pontiac Michigan and Denver Colorado. She is in Los Angeles in 1930 and 1940 but I have no census record of her from 1911 until 1930.
I have found 6 children for Barney and Maggie:

* Elizabeth McGinnis born 1879 Galt Ontario died 1881 Galt Ontario

* Jean M. (Jennie) McGinnis born Dec. 1880 Ontario died 27 Aug. 1960 Los Angeles. She married Martin J. Skelly in 1910 in Colorado. I don't know if she died under the married name SKELLY or McDONALD. I am seeking her death certificate or obituary. Martin Skelly died 29 March 1929 in Los Angeles and I am seeking his death certificate or obituary. Jennie is in the 1910 census for Denver Colorado, then 1920 and 1930 in Los Angeles California

* Daniel Hugh McGinnis born June 1884 in Galt Ontario, died after 1927. Married Elsa Elfreda Cober in Waterloo Ontario in 1919. Looking for his death records

* Anastasia (Anna) L. McGinnis born 1886 in Galt Ontario married Arley James Haislip and died Jan. 1930 Los Angeles. Need her death certificate and obituary. Children born in Michigan and California

* Joseph Vincent McGinnis born 1888 Galt Ontario died 22 Sept. 1949 Los Angeles. Grateful to Kay, who sent me his obituary from the Los Angeles Times

* Mary Ellen (Helen) McGinnis born 1893 in Galt Ontario married Stanley Reuter in Waterloo Ontario in 1913. Last record of Mary Ellen is a Border Crossing for April 1916 when she and her son Allen are going to her husband in Michigan.

It's been a process of discovery for me - finding out that I need to do more research to learn when Death Records were kept (and where) in different states, that I need to be more methodical in my search for ancestors on FamilySearch, and that writing up my findings as a blog post helps me to see the holes in my research AND reminds me of facts I've found but forgotten about!

I welcome any ideas or suggestions from my readers for my next steps in searching this family.

January 20, 2013

Press Release: Schenectady Colonial Festival

The following Press Release was sent out by Schenectady County Community CollegeCommunity Archaeology Program

Dear Friend,

Do you know that:
 Schenectady County Community College has a program in archaeology serving our
community through the efforts of many dedicated volunteers?
 Thousands of soldiers mobilized in Schenectady during the French and Indian War?
 Cannon balls from the French and Indian War were discovered in the Stockade Historic
District during the summer of 2012?
 By the early 1700’s, Mabee, Brower, Bradt, Putman and Vrooman family members were
moving from Schenectady to settle near Fort Hunter?
 Hurricane Irene’s destructive force actually accomplished something positive?

Each February, Schenectady’s annual Colonial Festival celebrates our early history and our
community’s ability to overcome significant obstacles and tragedy to recover and grow anew. A
keystone event is the Colonial Festival Dinner. This year's dinner will benefit the Community
Archaeology Program (CAP) at Schenectady County Community College.

The dinner will be at the Glen Sanders Mansion on Thursday, February 7, 2013. We'll start with
hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. There will be a display of CAP activities and finds (including some
of those cannon balls!). You can also participate in a silent auction, featuring a signed, framed
historical print on canvas by Len Tantillo.

After dinner, we will have a presentation by Michael Roets, Historic Sites Archaeologist of the
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He will discuss how hurricanes Irene
and Lee initiated the discovery of the actual Fort Hunter and other features of the original
settlement at today's Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site. Schenectadians played an important
role at the fort – Governor Hunter used Schenectady carpenters to build the fort and prominent
Schenectady families settled there in the 1700s.

Come join us to celebrate the Colonial Spirit with an evening of fine food, fellowship, and
learning! We are looking forward to your support and sharing this exciting event with you!

78 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, New York 12305-2294 ∙ 518/381-1200 ∙

January 19, 2013

Update on DNA Testing for Native American Heritage

Recently I talked about DNA and Native American Heritage. I'm a recognized Metis in Canada. I have my official Metis card. But I hoped for confirmation of my Native American heritage through DNA testing.

Through the kindness of a stranger on an online forum I learned that a Professor with the University of Chicago does in-depth DNA analysis of individuals' raw data to determine your ethnic origins.

Well I'm very pleased to say that the Professor's computerized analysis of my brother's Family Tree DNA raw data gave the answer I'd hoped for - he has .7% Native American heritage.

Along with his analysis, Professor MacDonald sent a computer generated map, a bar graph, a scatter graph and a 5 page explanation of how to read and understand the generated pages. 

I also ordered an upgrade to my brother's Y-DNA test on Family Tree DNA  for D9S919 which was suggested by Roberta Estes in her blog post Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA .

Since I was advised to consult the FamilyTree DNA Help desk for answers, I wrote to them on January 14th.  My question was simple:

I've had  my brother's Y-DNA tested (also Family Finder for him) at Family Tree DNA.  What test or upgrade do I order to test for Native American heritage?

Yesterday I received a detailed response which began

"Any of our tests can potentially reveal Native American ancestry. The test results will show, depending on the type of test you choose, whether or not the line you are testing is Native American in origin or if you have a detectable percentage of Native American ancestry (>3%)."

The Help Desk went to provide a detailed explanation of the test for Y-DNA, MtDNA and Family Finder

Interesting enough, Family Tree DNA help desk did not suggest I order the test for Marker D9S919 which is available on their site.  I'm not sure why this wasn't suggested, but I'm not an expert and can only go by what Roberta and other online websites indicate. 

For instance, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy states:

"D9S919 is a STR marker located on chromosome 9. It was previously known as D9S1120 and under this name it was reported that an allele value of 9 was only found in the Americas and far eastern Asia. The presence of an allele value of 9 is therefore a strong indication of native american ancestry somewhere within a person's pedigree. This marker is available from Family Tree DNA."

Indeed it is. For a small fee of $15.00 I was able to order the test of this specific marker on the  Family Tree DNA website.

The Family Tree DNA help desk  explained that only the Family Finder test will give a breakdown of ethnic percentages found within the individual's overall genetic makeup, including Native American. Using the Family Finder test, it does not matter which line the Native American ancestry came from or whether or not that ancestor was male or female.

I had previously ordered Family Finder but it did not show our Native heritage - which was no surprise because Family Tree DNA pointed out that you must have 3% or more for the test to show your Native American heritage.

Help Desk provided a welcome explanation of the three tests that could determine Native American heritage but I am curious why they didn't advise me to order the $15.00 test for the D9S919 marker. My conclusion is that the onus is on the individual to explore and read everything he or she can find that might give the answers being sought. Or in other words, don't give up even if you hit a dead end! Keep looking for alternate answers. It's just like doing genealogy research.

January 18, 2013

Caveat Emptor? Or Does Michigan have a Complaint Desk?

A few days ago I wrote about ordering a Marriage Record from Michigan using VitalChek. The blog post is Disappointment of a Michigan Marriage Record and summarizes the aggravation and the expense ($70.25) for this record

Julie Cahill Tarr wrote to say (in part)
"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the information that's on the certificate is not even correct. First off, the "file date" is wrong, it's actually April 3, 1877. The Aug 1 date is the date that the clerk recorded the state copy for the year 1876. This is a minor mistake.

This second mistake is not so minor. The witnesses were actually Andrew H and Christine Stafford, both of Lapeer (they gave you the one for the marriage below Barney and Maggie). And there is a church listed for the pastor, which is correct (E. L. Little), I think it says "1st Bap Ch Lapeer." It also notes the Barney was a laborer.

The record can be found here ( line 1719. It's part of the Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925 database"

 Julie goes on to add "That's a lot of money for a piece of paper that doesn't have the correct information and is missing possible clues, such as the church"

I agree! So today I checked the online image (thank you Julie!!) and saw that all the errors Julie found  are indeed there, and I found yet another. The age of the bride (Maggie McGinnis) is incorrect on the transcript. The image clearly shows her age as 18 but my official transcript has hear age as 16.  

[ Image found at ]
I can see that whoever transcribed the document wrote down the names of the witnesses of the marriage UNDER my Barney and Maggie. They skipped the correct witness names which Julie found.

I am less than impressed. Interestingly at the bottom of my official transcript it states

"I hereby certify that this is a TRUE AND CORRECT representation of the vital record facts on file..." The upper case letters are mine for emphasis.

So the bottom line is that I paid over $70.00 for a document CERTIFIED to be "TRUE AND CORRECT" and it is full of erros. My question is what is my recourse? Do you think it will do me any good to file a complaint? And where and to whom do I complain?

The fact that the image was online is entirely my oversight; that is not my complaint. But should not the "verified" transcript have the correct information copied from the image on file?

January 17, 2013

And Now a California Death Record Disappointment!

About 30 minutes after I published my blog post yesterday called Disappointment of a Michigan Marriage Record, the California Death record I ordered through VitalChek arrived.

That's it on the left. The good news is that the names of Maggie McGinnis' parents are given! So I know now which McGinnis couple were her mother and father - Daniel & Margaret or my ancestors Joseph and Fanny. 

The bad news? The huge label printed across the death certificate effectively hides many of the facts! For example I cannot make out the name of the cemetery where Maggie is buried. The address of the informant (her son) is hidden.

And if I didn't already know the exact location of her birth and if I was not familiar with Ontario towns and villages, I doubt I'd be able to figure it out from the record. Much of the name (Plattsville) is obscured.

Since this death record cost me $48.50 I'd have expected to be able to see it. All of it. A kinder way to handle this would for the originating record office to use a hand stamp that a clerk could place partially on the record (where there is no writing) and partially on the white border.

But the bottom line is that $120.00 later (for the Michigan and the California records) I have what I wanted - the names of Maggie's parents.  It's been an adventure and an experience getting there!

January 16, 2013

Disappointment of a Michigan Marriage Record

Recently I ordered an 1876 Marriage Certificate from Michigan through VitalChek. I desperately wanted the name of parents of the bride (Maggie McGinnis)  and FamilySearch does not have the image online.

Maggie is part of my McGinnis family in early Ontario but I cannot determine if she is the Margaret baptised at Church of Our Lady in Guelph on January 17, 1857 to parents Daniel McGinnis and Margaret Downey *or* if she is the Margaret baptised at Church of Our Lady in Guelph on December 6, 1856 to parents Joseph McGinnis and Fanny Downey.

She married Barney McGinnis who was the son of Daniel's brother Hugh McGinnis. I lose track of both girls after 1871 census so have not been able to eliminate either as the Margaret who married Barney.

The marriage certificate might have the information I need. On the plus side, the certificate arrived very quickly at my door. On the disappointed side, neither bride nor groom's parents' names were recorded. And on the negative side - the cost! The total cost was $70.25 U.S.

Have you picked yourself up from the floor yet? Let me give you the breakdown.

Certificate      36.00
Processing       8.50
Shipping        25.75

Yes I knew the total cost before I ordered so there was no surprise there.  But I think it's exorbitant.  Especially since on  the same day I used VitalChek to order Maggie's death certificate from California. The cost of that order totalled $48.50 That's a big difference! The breakdown was a bit different:

Certificate     16.00
Processing       6.00
Shipping        26.50

So why was a Michigan certificate $20.00 more than a California one? I don't have the answers to this difference by state and in the end it's no use complaining. I wanted the certificate and I paid for it. End of story.

Let's hope that Maggie's death record has her parents' names! Otherwise I've just spent almost $120.00 for two certificates I didn't need. To say I'd be disappointed is putting it mildly.

But that's the price we often pay in this wonderful hobby called genealogy.

January 15, 2013

What to Save? What to Toss? 4 Questions That Can Help You Decide

Family Keepsakes Blog Book Tour It's the How to Archive Family Keepsakes Blog Book Tour and Olive Tree Genealogy is the stop today. My readers know how passionate I am about preserving family treasures. Well today you are in for a treat! Denise Levenick is the guest author today.

So read on for great tips on deciding what items are worth archiving. As an added bonus you can get a FREE PDF Chart Handout What To Do With What You Inherit: Save, Skim, or Toss, (Read on for information about downloading the free handout).

What to Save? What to Toss? 4 Questions That Can Help You Decide

Guest Post by Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator, author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012). 

It can be hard for family historians to let go of anything that might carry a family story, no matter how old or broken that keepsake might be -- the chipped china teacup you remember from your grandmother's kitchen cupboard, the mildewed children's book that was once bright and new, the keys to long-forgotten locks. 

One key isn't much to save, but it doesn't take long for family keepsakes to become a mountain of memorabilia that threatens to come down on our present life like an avalanche. 

So, how do we choose, what to save, what to toss, and what to give away? I've sifted, sorted, and organized dozens of family collections, and discovered that it sometimes "less" is truly "more," even when it comes to family archives. Yes, we could probably find a family story in every single item set aside and saved, but is that the story we want to preserve? Or, knowing the story, can we let the item go?

Our ancestors were mobile people, and as anyone knows who has ever moved from home to home, each relocation typically involves a kind of triage. Some things are tossed away, others carefully packed up and moved to the new home. Rarely is a home moved intact from place to place.
The same kinds of decisions occur between generations. Sometimes, a son or daughter will inherit an entire home of possessions and need to begin the difficult task of sifting, sorting, saving, and tossing.
Family historians will want to be on the lookout for anything that documents vital record information (birth, marriage, death records), hints at unknown family members, or fills in the blanks for "mystery years" or "family secrets."

Ask Yourself

1. Why did my ancestor save this?
The answer could be quite simple. Maybe your mom, like her girlfriends, followed the current fad and pressed her prom corsage in her school yearbook. Or, perhaps your grandmother added a caption to a baby photo because there was no other documentation of birth. The dried flowers are sentimental, but can be discarded. The baby photo, however, should be preserved with its important handwritten note.

2. Is it unique, one-of-a-kind?
Some family letters, photos or documents might be the only proof of birth or other event; you will want to save those items that document a vital event or important family story.

3. Is it old?
You might be unsure whether or not an item is worth keeping. When in doubt, save it, especially any original document decades old with names, places, and dates. You may discover connections later in your research. Think again about Question #1: Why did my ancestor save this?

4. Is it valuable?
“Value is relative,” you may have heard it said. And, it’s true. What’s valuable to you today, may not be valuable to your children or grandchildren.

Some items, like books and newspapers are now available in digital versions. Save digital copies as PDF images and let go of the paper copies. Or save a digital copy and file a single paper copy as a backup. Digital storage is less expensive than physical storage space. Do preserve your family’s heirloom original documents, though. They may be priceless and unique.

Think About Your Answers

Four "Yes" answers should be a clue that the item is worth preserving, or at least holding for further consideration. 

I've found 19th century baby photos tucked between pizza take-out menus and trade union cards stashed in old wallets. You have to look inside everything, but then, it's ok to toss the cracked plastic envelope, the take-out menus and the smashed, blackened prom corsage.

Take a digital photo if you need a visual reminder of the artifact. Write a short note if it holds a special story. If in doubt whether or not you should let something go, ask yourself if you've ever saved a similar memento from your own life experience, and what you expect your children to do with it. Sometimes, it's ok to give yourself permission to hold on to the memory and let go of the clutter. 

For a FREE PDF chart What To Do With What You Inherit: Save, Skim, or Toss, visit

Find more ideas for sorting and organizing inherited family treasures in How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick (Family Tree Books, 2012). Copyright, 2012, Denise May Levenick. All Rights Reserved.

How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012) ISBN 1440322236
Paperback from
Family Tree Books, ; PDF eBook from Scribd
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Join the Blog Tour
Join the Blog Book Tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes January 10-26, 2013 for author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more. Visit the Blog Book Tour Page at The Family Curator website for the complete schedule .
Proceeds from the sale of How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Book Tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 in honor of Denise’s mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.

Blog Book Tour Giveaways
Comment on daily Book Blog Tour PostTweet the Tour Twitter @FamilyCurator #keepsakebooktourShare the Tour on FaceBook, Google+, Goodreads

It’s easy to enter to win a free copy of Denise’s new book or one of the weekly giveaway prizes. All you have to do is leave a comment to the Blog Tour Post hosted at one of the official tour blogs. Random winners will also be selected from social media comments on Twitter, FaceBook, and Google+.

Each blog tour post comment gives you one chance to win; one entry per post per day, please. Leave a comment at each stop on the blog tour and increase your chances of winning. The lucky names will be announced each Saturday during the tour at The Family Curator.

About the Author
In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” Denise May Levenick is a writer, researcher, and speaker with a passion for preserving and sharing family treasures of all kinds. She is the creator of the award-winning family history blog, The Family Curator and author of the new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records, (Family Tree Books, 2012).