Busy, busy, (genealogically) busy!

Time flies when you’re having fun!  I realized this weekend how long it’s been since I posted on my blog.  But just because this blog has lacked activity, doesn’t mean yours truly hasn’t been busy.  On the contrary, I’ve been hopping on my genealogy since attending NGS in May.  Here are a few things I’ve been working on:

  • Contacting cousins from Ancestry and GedMatch – I’ve made some new cousin contacts!  Now that’s some exciting stuff right there 🙂
  • Trying to match the name transition from Mackay to McKee – I’ve not been successful in this yet but I’m hoping a journey to the ancestors homeland will shed some light on the subject.
  • Planning a research trip – This is actually going to happen soon.  And I couldn’t be more excited!
  • Education – This is so important.  Since I’m currently in a transition period from hobby genealogist to genealogist-pursuing-certification I’ve been working hard on this part of my research.  And I absolutely consider this to be part of research because I’m learning better ways to research as well as learning appropriate sourcing and citation.  I’ve completed the beginning GenProof course and am working on the advanced GenProof course.  This past week I was informed that I had been accepted into one of the upcoming ProGen courses.  I almost jumped up and down at work because I was so excited about my acceptance.
  • Digitizing family paperwork – I am still scanning family documents as I have time.  It’s a very slow process.

I made a trip to the Midwest Genealogical Center last week hoping to find some information on the Mackay to McKee name transition.  While I located some information on the family which was very exciting it was not what I was hoping to find.  I won’t complain too much though since I was able to find this bonus material.  I’ve also been waiting on Alien file paperwork and Naturalization file paperwork for D1’s grandmother from the USCIS.  I realize I’m an impatient person but it seems like it’s taking forever to receive the paperwork.  Patience is a virtue, but one I don’t readily possess.

In July I had the chance to attend the reunion of some family members we hadn’t seen in almost 20 years.  I can’t tell you dear readers what a joy that was.  I sincerely hope we’re able to remain in contact with the extended family that attended.  D1 was such a trooper, driving the parental unit and me around to several different cemeteries in North Dakota.

Cemeteries visited in North Dakota

Cemeteries visited in North Dakota

At one of the cemeteries we visited we arrived while the caretaker was doing lawn upkeep.  We weren’t sure whether we had relation in the cemetery but there were Kruegers in the cemetery and we were in the area so we decided to stop.  We checked in with the caretaker to make sure we weren’t going to interrupt his work and discovered that no only had he lived in the area for his entire life (born and raised) but he was related to the Kruegers in the cemetery.  Very closely related.  In the neighborhood of brothers, parents, grandparents, etc.  We talked for a good deal of time and heard the refrain of “not related” but we recorded our visit anyway on the off chance of just in case of relation.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Holy Trinity Catholic Church

As part of the reunion festivities we visited the church which that side of the family had attended for years and where many family members were baptized.  It was beautiful inside.  Gorgeous stained glass windows and beautiful architecture.  Despite the bugs and heat it was a good trip.  Honestly, I’ve yet to have a bad trip to North Dakota.  I’ve always received a very warm welcome from family and new friends when visiting and you can’t ask for more than that.

What’s been keeping you busy lately?

DNA Pie…Charts That Is

I’m obviously really excited to have been able to do my DNA.  My problem now is that I really want to understand more about my DNA, not just take the pie chart Ancestry provided and be happy about it.  I know I have DNA that didn’t show up on the Ancestry pie chart and I’ve heard other genealogists raving about what a great tool GEDMatch is.  So I decided to try my results at GEDMatch and see what happened.  Wow, am I ever overwhelmed right now!  There are so many tools at GEDMatch and uploading my raw data has provided tons of information that I neither understand right now nor do I know what to do with it, LOL.  So it’s time for me to look around and see what information I can find about using GEDMatch.

It must be my lucky month because among the many blog posts that appeared in my Feedly feed and I had tagged in Pocket to read later was a post from Randy Seaver at Genea-musings called My First Look at GedMatch Autosomal DNA Analysis.  It was totally perfect timing.  I still don’t understand a lot of what I’m seeing but it was great to find someone who was stepping through the process of uploading to GEDMatch at the same time I was.  Randy’s post inspired me to start clicking on links in GEDMatch to see what I could find.  And what I found was pretty interesting stuff.  In my post Surprisingly…No Surprises! I shared a clip of my Ethnicity Estimate from AncestryDNA.  I knew the AncestryDNA test tools weren’t the best out there and that the estimates weren’t necessarily the most accurate but it was a good place to start.  Now that I’ve completed the upload of the raw data and a GEDCOM file to GEDMatch I have quite a few more tools at my disposal.

One of the items I clicked on was the MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions.  My first reaction on seeing the title was “Whaaaa????”  So, I did what any researcher would do and I Googled it.  What I found was a great blog post and presentation by Kitty Cooper about GEDMatch Tools which helped me understand the functionality of some of the tools at GEDMatch.  The MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions basically just tells you your ancestral composition.  Each of the different Admixture calculators gives you a different breakdown of your ancestral composition.  On her presentation Kitty explains that “…the number at the end of each name is the number of reference populations the result is divided among.”  Okay, so that helps me understand the pie charts that are presented with each calculator I select.  So back to the calculator I clicked on, this is the chart I was presented when I clicked on the MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions calculator:

MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions
GEDMatch MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportion

Well that’s really interesting!  My Ethnicity Estimate on AncestryDNA said I was 97% European (36% Europe West; 23% Europe East; 17% Great Britain; 8% Scandinavian and 7% Ireland) which, according to my maternal grandparents and what I know of my paternal family is correct.  But, oh ho!  Look at how much more specific the GEDMatch data set is.  According to GEDMatch I’ve got something called Melano-Austronesian and Volga-Uralic in my DNA…whatever THAT is!  I really wanted to know what these terms meant but I haven’t had much luck finding any definitions online.  I was excited to see the teeny tiny bit of Native America I was rumored to have had shown up.  I haven’t been able to prove or disprove the stories about the Native American heritage that my Grandda told until now and while this isn’t 100% written-in-stone proof, it does give me a reason to keep looking for that heritage.

I kept playing around with the different calculators on the GEDMatch site and got some pretty interesting results…maybe one of these days I’ll actually figure out what all these terms mean!

MDLP World-22
MDLP World-22

 

MDLP World
MDLP World

 

MDLP K=12
MDLP K=12

That was my fun for this evening.  Kitty mentioned some calculators in her presentation that either currently aren’t available on GEDMatch or have been discontinued.  I’m a little disappointed about that because a couple of them looked like fun but maybe GEDMatch will bring them back.  So far I’ve been very happy with the tools I’ve tried at GEDMatch.  I just wish there was more information out there on how to use the tools and what everything meant.  I’m sure the information is there somewhere, I just haven’t looked in the right place yet.  If you have any suggestions, dear readers, throw them my way because I’m very curious now!

Genetic Genealogy…First Contact

I’ve been on such a genealogy-high since getting my DNA results back.  I honestly didn’t think I could get much more excited until…first contact!!!!!  I had pages of hints to review from AncestryDNA and as I was beginning to review each match on my DNA profile I received an email through Ancestry from one of my matches!  And…poof!  Just like that I was conversing with a fourth cousin through a branch of the family I hadn’t done hardly any work on because most of the line had already been traced.  And if that wasn’t exciting enough I learned that he was located only about an hour away from where I live (near where some of that family branch were buried) and some of his family actually lived in my area as well.

Until I received first contact I’d been a little hesitant to contact anyone.  Once first contact had been established I started going to town sending Ancestry messages to close matches.  And now it’s a waiting game to see if anyone responds back to any of the messages I sent out.  Meanwhile I’ll continue to explore the DNA profile to see what additional information I can gain from the DNA test.  Not one to remain idle, I’ve been working to get my raw data and GEDCOM file uploaded to GedMatch.  I’m still in the early learning stages of GedMatch and how to use it but I’ve heard it’s a very good resource.  And, of course, I’m also starting to explore the DNA, Genetics & Family Health section of Cyndi’s List, which has a dedicated section for GEDmatch & Other Analyzing Tools.  There is so much information on Cyndi’s List alone I’ll be occupied for a good, long while.
MGP

On a slightly different note, I’m also very excited to have been accepted into one of the upcoming Gen Proof Groups!  For those who don’t know the Gen Proof groups are small study groups who meet in an online forum and study the book Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, GG, CGL, FASG, FNGS.  I’m looking forward to fine tuning my current genealogical skills as well as adding new skills.

 

Surprisingly…No Surprises!

I had a few minutes today to take a look at my AncestryDNA results and surprisingly…there were NO SURPRISES! Between my grandparents’ knowledge and stories and the work the family has done on the genealogy already I was well prepared for what Ancestry told me. Which, I have to say, was almost disappointing, LOL. I’d heard of so many people being surprised by their DNA tests I was almost hoping for something really out of the ordinary.

I was a little sad that the DNA test didn’t show any Native American ancestry. I know that the little tiny bit of that genetic material that I might possess is so small that current DNA tests probably wouldn’t pick it up but I was really hoping for a definitive answer on the question of whether we really do have Native American ancestry or if those stories were simply incorrect. I’ll just keep plugging along on my attempt to prove or disprove that history.

IMG_0439.PNG

I’m looking forward to diving into the DNA a little deeper when I get home. I’m like a little kid at Christmas right now 🙂

Life Got in the Way

And don’t you just hate it when that happens?  I know I do.  I’ve been noticeably absent from posting on my blog because of it.  But I definitely haven’t been idle.  My big project was changing employers.  I usually stay away from talking about work because, after all, this is a genealogy blog.  But I’m so excited about this new position I just couldn’t help but mention that I’ve moved over to a different association where I’m part of the professional development team…education for public works employees.  I’ve always loved learning new things myself so helping others continue learning is definitely up my alley.

And I haven’t been idle on the genealogy front either.  Here’s what I’m currently working on:

  • I’ve tried to ramp up working on my sources and citations.  Have I mentioned how much I hate citations?  I know they’re not the big deal I’m making them out to be but I’ll admit it, I stress out over whether I’m doing them right.  I really need to get a copy of Evidence Explained and read it but it’s not in my budget right now unfortunately.  So for now I’ll continue to try and figure out my citations using Family Tree Maker and the ProGenealogist Genealogy Citation Guides online.
  • Speaking of working on my sources, I’ve been ordering vital records and finds from the North Dakota State University archives as my pocketbook will allow.  I’ve got a surprising amount of documents to save/scan, sort and attach to my tree in Family Tree Maker.
  • I dug in and worked hard on my organization one weekend.  I’m utilizing the system set out in Eliminating Genealogy Clutter by Sherene Henrie Whiting with one or two tweaks.  I think this is a great system but I don’t have a lot of room for binders.  On the other hand, I have plenty of file cabinet space for hanging folders.  I’m not even close to being done but I think I’ve got a very good start.

Working hard on my genealogy organization and filing!
  • The spousal unit and I traveled to Iowa and sat down for a day of genealogy and family time with the Iowa family branch.  We had fun, shared some genealogy and made some VERY interesting discoveries!  Let’s just say when my puzzle pieces matched with their puzzle pieces we made a couple of full (or almost full) pictures.  It was very exciting.
  • I mentioned earlier that I was the recipient of a RAOGK (Random Act of Genealogical Kindness) when a non-relative happened upon some family ephemera and was kind enough to be willing to return it to our family.  You can read about that RAOGK here.  I was surprised to receive another email from this kind stranger letting me know he’d been contacted by the flea market seller again and had come into possession of one last piece of the family ephemera.  I feel very fortunate that he was willing to be the messenger to pass that last piece to me last weekend and a photo of my first cousin (once removed) has returned home.

A six-year-old Harold Wilkinson returned to the family fold
  • The spousal unit and I also dropped in on the North Dakota family branch and got to spend a little time talking with them…which, for me, inevitably leads to genea-talk.  The few hours we had with them turned out to be a few hours too little when we started talking about my father, who passed away a little over a year ago.  It’s fun to hear stories and thoughts from other family members about the people you love.  I haven’t talked much about my North Dakota family because I was working on my DAR paperwork (which is on the maternal side and not the paternal side, where the North Dakota connection comes in) but North Dakota has become a very special place for me in the last couple of years thanks to the kindness of family and friends there, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing about that side of the family in the future.

WHEW!  In between all of that I’m still attending as many genealogy education events as I can.  I’ve participated in some great webinars recently and I’m hoping to use some of what I’ve learned very soon.  I’ve been using the heck out of the Ancestry subscription the spousal unit gifted me and even broke down and put a public tree out there in hopes of getting some nibbles on my tree.

So here’s to getting back on the blog-wagon…I can’t wait to post some of my recent discoveries!