It's 3 AM. Do you know where all your data is?

The other day we found a box that had been packed when we moved from Ohio to Maryland some four and a half years ago.  As I was unpacking it, I found a thumb drive (USB Jump Drive) that had been in that box for four years.

It got me thinking.  Did I even remember it was missing?

I received my first computer in 1989.  It was a hand-me-down from someone that I had dated at the time, who worked with computers.  I can't tell you the name of the machine - it was something from a minor manufacturer - except it ran DOS and was really limited, came with a green on black CRT and about the only thing it was good for was word processing, and even at that, was pretty useless.

My first REAL computer was in 1992, and it ran Windows. Then came the next computer, and the next, and then a new one approximately every three years.

Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 7 and now Windows 10.

And those are just the desktops. There were laptops, too - used for genealogy, and book …

Canon Law Relationship Chart: "Show your work"

Remember when you were in junior high, or middle school, and the math teacher gave you a problem to solve:  5+X=8.

Any first grade graduate could look at this and know it is three, but if you answer was "3", you got the question wrong with a nasty little note that said "Show work".

This chart is a lot like that "Show work" comment.  To know that you understand the foundations of that answer, you need to know how the whole thing works.

In the olden days - before computers, like 1978, we used canon law relationship charts, like this one to calculate how one person was related to one and another person.

Today, just like in algebra, you push a button and you get your answer.   But how do you know that the computer program got to that answer?

It is important that even IF you have a computer, and who doesn't that you understand how this chart works.

So let's agree on two basic premises:

1) The chart we are using was written out in a chauvinistic fashio…

The Family Car: Sometimes, you just can't tell

I also ways pride myself on being able to figure out the make model and year of a car - any car - built between 1920 and today.

Sometimes, I get a submission and its pretty damn impossible to figure it out, no matter what you do.

The picture above is one of those pictures.   And here's why.

Before 1913, American cars were pretty simple, and most, not all, looked rather alike.  One best example of the exception were the Ford Model T, cars made by the Franklin Motors Company which were air cooled and needed no radiator.

But most cars were "two box" design.  A large box for carrying passengers, and a small box up front for the engine.

In 1913 and through 1916, cars evolved as the transition between the two boxes became smoother, one flowing into the other.  

Now the car above is a larger, better finished automobile for the era, and its part of that transitional era of 1913-1916.  Let's take another look at what I am talking about.

The area in the red, in front of the …

Two of three tests came in this morning!

8 AM, Since last night at 10 PM - yes, I am an old man - nothing had changed for me except I was upright and stumbling about like a new born baby mouse trying to get my eyes open, so I could make coffee so I could WAKE UP.

9 AM, Nothing had changed except decision to have a second cup of coffee.  Everything as it was last night on Ancestry.

9:55 AM, checked Ancestry, nothing.  Still 4 tests in processing.

10 AM, JACKPOT.  Had I not needed to reboot my computer, I would have missed it, but there it was "3 Test in Processing."  I greedily make the husband take the dogs outside, even though it is raining and it was my turn to take them out.

10:05 AM, Well my eldest half brother is my half brother.  No surprise there.  The big surprise is our joint DNA only account for seven pages of my 400 pages of matches.

10:35 AM, The DAILY DOUBLE comes in - "2 Tests" in processing.

And BTW, no emails from Ancestry to say "Hey - your tests came in."

10:45, AM - the news …

DNA: Waiting for the next test to drop

So I went to RootsTech this year, and this happened: Ancestry had an amazing deal on DNA Kits and sold a boatload of them, with a limit of "five" per person at an amazing discount.

And then afterward, a boatload of these tests got used and they all got shipped to Ancestry for processing.

Imagine, thousands and thousands of tests all got shipped into Ancestry's DNA processing center, in window of a month.  And this was all on top of the tests from Christmas that were given as gifts that got mailed in and were received, and were already waiting for processing.

INTO THIS, four of my tests - three for family, one for a client - sat, waiting for processing.

About six weeks into just sitting in receiving, two of my tests plopped into processing.  Not the first one received, but the middle two.  And then, nothing.

I mean N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

And this concerned me.  Because the first test had been received two weeks before the first one to plop into processing.

But I was patient…

The Family Car: "We always liked the way it looked"

A cousin sent me a picture and asked if I had any idea what kind of car this is?

I do, and I will tell you what I told her.

From the shape of the car, with its steel wheels, its pontoon front and rear fenders, we have the shape of a car that could have been built from 1934 through 1940.

What helps us narrow down the year of the car are its single panel, flat windshield - pre-two piece windshields that reigned from the mid thirties through the early 1950s,  its "low pressure" style tires - earlier tires were run at high pressure and had tubes inside the tires, and its raked but "V'd" front grille in front of the radiator.  This helps us narrow down the vehicle to pre-1936.

So we have gone from a decade, to six years, to two years.

It's headlights, however are the dead give away.  The are bullet shaped, but they are chrome bullet shaped.

And the only company that issued cars in the mid 1930s came out of Chrysler Corporation.

So why are the headlights so im…

Looking into the myth of the Cherokee Ancestor

One of the things that is happening as a result of DNA testing for genealogy is that many people are discovering the same thing: their family members were telling ta1es about being part Cherokee.

We see this with clients.  We read about in message boards for Genealogy and DNA groups in forums and on sites like Facebook.

People are shocked.  They feel betrayed.  They feel vindicated.  They feel as if the results have to be wrong.

But the simple truth is that DNA doesn't lie.

And like the myth of descending from "two Huguenot brothers" (which is part and parcel of our family narrative) landing in north America was popular in the first half of the 20th Century, the Cherokee ancestor myth has always been popular in the south, but gained momentum in both white and black society throughout the 20 Century.  

Why?  Because including this "myth" of Cherokee blood intermarrying into the family had a great deal to do with how the Cherokee people interacted with people …