Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Evaluating Evidence and Reviewing Online Education

Week 6 of Genealogy Do-Over brings us Evaluating Evidence and Reviewing Online Education Options.  I admit that evaluating evidence brings me the most amount of angst.  I think because of my difference in how I'm researching (to write, not to log), evaluating will happen via words rather than a chart.  I can explain that there are four dates for someone's birth, where each came from and which I trust.  But in the text, rather than in a spreadsheet.  Doing this will be easy, whereas charting it makes me itch.  But I do still need to keep track of it all and so I use my Family Tree Maker file to log all the information. 

For online education, I so enjoy my Legacy Family Tree Webinars subscription.  I use the webinars all the time and enjoy each of them.  I highly recommend them and I have committed to one webinar a month.  I also want to get back to National Instituteof Genealogical Studies.  I just need some money and time.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Debbie Does DNA: You've Got Mail

Last time I noted that I got a number of new emails saying there were matches for me. Turns out it was one match, but matched to different tests.  The match was to a man with a different last name (note: NOT Conner) and no other information.  The email address for him bounced and he was matched at pretty far back generations.  So not much fun.

That said, the autosomal DNA test should be ready in the next couple of weeks.  I'm hoping that will provide some new fun matches to write about.  In the meantime, well, Debbie isn't doing DNA.  There is nothing to see here for right now.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Research Toolbox and Other Tools

For the Week 5 Genealogy Do-Over, the topics are: 1) Building a Research Toolbox; and 2) Citing Sources.  I already have a research toolbox that I use ( and add to when I find new places.  I no longer use bookmarks for genealogy, as if I find something, I add it to the toolbox right then.  So I'm already on top of #1. Woo hoo!

For citing sources, I use my Evidence Explained book, but I needed to make a cheat sheet for my own personal most common sources.  I started one and put it in my DropBox with my Research Toolbox.  (

Now to get back to my writing project...  Hopefully next week, I'll be able to post some of it.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 4: Bullet Journaling and Stuck-on-Sources

I haven’t actively worked on the Dukes project this week.  I need to just get there and do it.  But regardless, the events for this week were to manage projects and tasks and tracking searches.   

To manage projects, I have complex systems in play that I’ve already described in my Goals post.  I won’t revisit them, as they are working for me.  What WASN’T working was my daily home to-do lists.  I’m trying a new system called Bullet Journal.  So far, I’m loving it.  Working great in a regular ol’ Moleskinenotebook.

For search tracking, I use post-its made by the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group, called, “Stuck-on-Sources.”  I have them handy as I search and I just jot stuff in that I find (or don’t).  I stick these right on the Family Group Sheet and Research Checklists that I’ve created.

Debbie Does DNA, Part 2: The One with Some Possible Funny Business in Ireland

I’m going to go through each of the big buttons on the FTDNA home page.  Here is what they look like:

First off is the MATCHES.  I have (well, Grampa has) several matches.  Most are old and I’ve already contacted them.  Most also do not have a family tree or GEDCOM information posted.  The first three on the list are our closest matches with a genetic distance of only two.

Here is what that means (as shown in the TiP report provided):

Basically, we are related somewhere.  But where?  You have to email Person 1 to figure it out.  Having done that, I can tell you that Person 1 has no idea how we connect.  Person 2 never responded and Person 3 asked me for a full GEDCOM and money so that he could put us into his CONNER CD.  Um…. No.

So where does that leave us?  Did we really learn anything yet from DNA?  Maybe not “learn” but an interesting thing to notice is that in all the matches, few are Conner/Connor. In fact, only 13% share our surname.

Why is this odd?  Well, to show you, I have to tell you about the test we took.  Grampa did the Y-DNA test.  The sex chromosomes are XX for women and XY for men.  These chromosomes carry the code that makes us a man or a woman.  We inherit an X from our moms always.  If we are a boy, we get a Y from our dad.  If we are a girl, we get an X from our dad.


X from Mom
X from Dad
X from Mom
Y from Dad

Since only men inherit the father’s Y-chromosome, it follows the paternal line back.  So in doing the Y-DNA test, we tested Grampa, his dad, his grampa, his great-grampa, etc.  We also tested, by default, his sons, Harry and Ricky, and their sons.  And their sons.

The test looks at certain markers (STR markers), which are places where the genetic code tend to vary in its repeated parts.  They change a bit from one generation to another, but slowly.  So when you test a bunch of them, you can see who is related to whom by how much (or how little) variance there is.

Now that we know this, let’s go back to that there aren’t that many CONNER/CONNOR/O’CONNOR etc. in the matches.  Shouldn’t they all be CONNOR/CONNER, etc. if we are looking at the Y only?  Possible that way back there somewhere in Ireland, a Connor wasn’t really a Connor…  

Just 10 minutes ago, I got an email notifying me of two new matches.  I'll write about those next time on...

Debbie Does DNA.