Getting Back in the Swing of It – 2017 NGS Conference: Family Lives Here

My blog has suffered a bit since I began ProGen 18 months ago but I’m happy to say that I completed ProGen last month and it was absolutely worth all the work! Just in time too because I was, once again, fortunate enough to attend the NGS conference this year.

The ability to attend national conferences such as NGS is always an eye-opening and educational experience. The conference host city was Raleigh, North Carolina and the theme was “Family Lives Here”. Attendance was close to 2,500 this year and eleven hotels reserved room blocks for conference attendees. Most of those room blocks were sold out early last year! Normally I opt to stay in one of the room blocks, but this year the spousal unit came to North Carolina with me. So we chose to find lodging through AirBNB. I love AirBNB, you meet some of the most interesting people and many times the places you stay are far more comfortable than a hotel room!

The spousal unit and I decided to make a mini-vacation out of the trip to the conference so we left home a few days before the conference started. We had a great time making visits to Gettysburg and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and the American Civil War MuseumTredegar Iron WorksHollywood Cemetery and the site where Libby Prison once stood in Richmond, Virginia. While I was attending the conference, the spousal unit was able to visit with friends and made trips to a few battlefields. I wish I’d been able to clone myself and go with him!

NGS did a great job of getting presenters for a wide variety of topics. There conference had a heavy emphasis on North Carolina and southern states research, which wasn’t surprising considering the conference’s location. Since I don’t have any (currently) known North Carolina or southern ancestors, I opted to attend more methodology and organizational education sessions. Choosing education sessions are sometimes hit-and-miss so some of them were less applicable to my current level of knowledge than others, but I was able to take at least one item away from every session.

Some of the more notable sessions I attended this year were:

  • Scots-Irish Research Methodology and Case Study (speaker: David Rencher)
  • Your Portable, Sortable Research Log (speaker: Jennifer Dondero)
  • Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA (speaker: Blaine Bettinger)
  • From Record Group to Community: Analyzing Data Sets (speaker: Amy Giroux)
  • Clueless? Maybe Not (speaker: Jennifer Dondero)
  • The Genealogical Proof Summary: What It Is and Is Not (speaker: Gail Miller)
  • City Directories: The Solution to Finding Family Members In-Between Federal Census Ten-Year Gaps (Terry Koch-Bostic)

Out of this list of most notable sessions, I would say the top three (in order) were:

  1. “The Genealogical Proof Summary: What It Is and Is Not” with Gail Miller
  2. “Your Portable, Sortable Research Log” with Jennifer Dondero
  3. “From Record Group to Community: Analyzing Data Sets” with Amy Giroux
Unfortunately, the meal lectures were all sold out by the time I registered for the conference so I wasn’t able to hear any of those topics. However, the trade-off for that was more time on the exhibit floor. The exhibit floor was as busy as ever and it was fun visiting with all the vendors. Thomas Jones released a new book this year at the conference which NGS was selling at their booth called “Mastering Genealogical Documentation” and I decided to purchase it. I haven’t started reading it yet, but I’ll let the genea-hood know when I finish it.

I also decided to jump on the Evidentia bandwagon. I’m excited to learn how to use Evidentia; it looks like it will be a great help in my research!

New discoveries this year included a new app for mobile devices called JoyFLIPS and Atlas Preservation, Inc.

JoyFLIPS

JoyFLIPS is promoted as an unlimited scanning and cloud storage app. The interface looked really good on what I saw at the booth display. App functionality includes:
  • Automatic scan and save
  • Organize and share albums
  • Download copies anytime
  • “Tap and talk” (tell stories and create slideshows)
  • Ability for friends and family to comment by voice or text
  • FamilySearch direct upload
  • Optional physical memory stick storage
Their website indicates that they’ll be releasing an in-home photo scanning service soon, which is an interesting thought and I’m curious to see the specifics on that. JoyFLIPS is available via the web and mobile devices. I downloaded the app to my iPhone and I’m excited to try it out.

Atlas Preservation, Inc.

Atlas Preservation, Inc. is a monument and restoration supply vendor. It’s possible they may have exhibited in past years and I just missed them, but Atlas Preservation was a new discovery for me this year. I’ve been considering purchasing some D/2 cleaner for some family tombstones that have been blackened by tree sap but hadn’t really looked into it much. Having the opportunity to speak with someone knowledgeable in the use of D/2 was helpful. While the only thing I inquired about was D/2 cleaner, I did notice that Atlas Preservation had a large selection of supplies available for purchase.

Again this year I stopped at the BCG booth a couple of times to try and get a look at some of the portfolios they bring along for attendees to look at but, once again, the booth was always too busy for me to get a look at anything.

It was great to have the opportunity to greet current friends and make some new ones. I’m looking forward to attending NGS 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Oh, and I almost forgot! NGS announced that the 2019 conference would be back in St. Charles, Missouri! YAY, I can’t wait for 2019!

And because I couldn’t pass up the chance to stop and view it in person, the spousal unit and I stopped at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, Indiana on the way home to see my second great-grandfather’s Civil War letter that’s on display there.

Civil War era letter from Chester E. McCabe to parents Doddridge McCabe and Olive Knapp McCabe
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Projects, projects, projects!

My two most recent projects seem to have taken me away from blogging lately. I can’t believe how long I let my blog go without writing. Color me embarrassed. One of the projects I’ve been letting occupy all my blogging time is that I signed up for one of the Mastering Genealogical Proof Standard study groups. It was a very good course and I highly recommend the study groups for all genealogists. The groups work through the book “Mastering Genealogical Proof” by Thomas W. Jones and participate in discussions about the items covered in the book. It was a great opportunity for me to continue expanding my genealogical knowledge-base. I learned a lot about the standards I should be employing in my genealogy research and was happy to see that I had actually been unknowingly trying to incorporate some of the recommendations made by Jones into my current research. Of course, that does jut create another project LOL. I need to review all my proof and make sure it meets the GPS. While some of it might, most of it probably does not.

The other project I’ve been allowing to occupy my blogging time has been the DNA test I took several months ago. Not being a very technically-minded person I’ve set my sights on learning more about DNA for genealogy and how to understand the results I received from my test. It’s been very interesting so far. My test was originally taken with AncestryDNA but I’ve uploaded my matches to GedMatch as well and have been playing around with the tools available on GedMatch. (reference GedMatch blog posts) I’ve seen several people talk about FTDNA’s transfer option so I’m considering the possibility of uploading my results to FTDNA as well and see what kind of matches I get there.

What projects are currently occupying all of your time? 😉

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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!

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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.

 

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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 🙂

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