Monday, April 28, 2014

Autosomal DNA Testing with FamilyTreeDNA

Friday was DNA Day, and in honor of that, as well as my mother asking about the results of her swabbing the inside of her cheek for me last fall, I thought I would try to explain the results of testing my DNA with FamilyTreeDNA.
In February, I did share an update of my matrilineal line, noting that my mitochondrial haplogroup was U5b2a1a1. The FamilyTreeDNA website notes that regions where most others share this mtDNA haplogroup include England, Scotland, and Norway. (I'm not surprised.)

The test I did with FamilyTreeDNA also included an autosomal test. The autosomal DNA test works across genders to locate cousins from all parts of your family tree, unlike mtDNA which is passed down from my mother's mother's mother, etc. or Y-DNA, which is passed down from father to son. I don't have Y-DNA to test, so I asked my brother to test. I will blog about that separately.

My initial foray into DNA testing was with AncestryDNA (see my ethnicity results here) but FamilyTreeDNA is a bit different. They do have a beta version of ethnicity results, but as of now, they don't seem as comprehensive as at AncestryDNA.

I also had my mother test with FamilyTreeDNA. Since I received my mtDNA from her, I did not test her for that, but I had her autosomal DNA tested, which is FamilyTreeDNA's Family Finder product.

Of course, one of the features of FamilyTreeDNA is the ability to contact potential cousins. The reason I wanted to have my mother tested is so if I'm trying to figure out how I am related to someone else who has had their autosomal DNA tested, I can see if that potential cousin is related to my mother; if not, then the cousin is related to me through my dad (who died in 1993 so I can't test his DNA).

I have not had much luck confirming cousin relationships; the few who I have been in contact with are either very distant cousins, related through colonial-era ancestors or we can't determine how we are related. Admittedly, I have not spent much time on this, and I hope to spend more time contacting matches in the next few months.

The science behind the DNA testing is somewhat complicated and, although I basically understand it, I find it challenging to describe, so for those who are interested, I suggest reading about using DNA for genealogy at one of the following sites:

Your Genetic Genealogist (at
The Genetic Genealogist (at
The Legal Genealogist's posts about DNA (at
DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy (at
Kitty Cooper's Blog (at

Or search the extensive Geneabloggers blogroll for "DNA" (at or search blog postings for DNA or similar terms (at This is a fun way to find what other bloggers have shared in their search for cousins using DNA.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Three Years of Blogging!

I started this blog three years ago with lots of ideas of what I wanted to share. This is blog post number 231, and I know I have slowed down recently, though I still have plenty to share.

Last year, I started posting Surname Saturday posts, where I shared my ancestry from a particular immigrant ancestor down through time to me. However, I get bogged down in the details of these posts, which take a lot of time to prepare.

I feel that I need to organize my genealogical treasures and get inspired to blog, even if it's a short post. I certainly have enough photographs to have a Wordless Wednesday post every week...

Instead of sharing the top posts viewed in the last year, I would like to share some of my favorite posts from this past year:

Kentucky ~ Looking for a Crack in the Brick Wall about my Kentucky ancestors.

Greeley Plot Card at Graceland Cemetery about the information I found by paying five dollars to Graceland Cemetery in Chicago for a cemetery plot card.

Samuel Greele's Fourth Wife ~ Solving a Mystery (which followed Samuel Greele's Wives) about finding the death date and burial location for the last of my third great-grandfather's wives.

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Joseph Rose with photographs of a Matawan, New Jersey, cemetery we visited during our summer vacation and Sunday's Obituary ~ Joseph Rose, with a wonderfully descriptive 1877 obituary of another of my third great-grandfathers.

Wordless Wednesday ~ Hunter Sisters Circa 1909 which is a wonderful photo I received from a second cousin of mine. Be sure to note the update provided by my mother and click on the link to read the story behind the photo.

Tuesday's Tip ~ Scotland, Births, Baptisms, and Marriages about what I found at that helped me go back a couple of generations in several of my Scottish lines.

Looking back at what I did this year (even though it hasn't been much in the past two months), is pretty inspiring. I plan to continue sharing my family history a few blog posts at a time.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, April 14, 2014

172 Beacon Street, Boston

My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth (Adsit) (Pyle) Rust, lived in an apartment on Beacon Street in Boston for several decades before she died in 1983. (See her death notice here.)

I wasn't sure exactly when Libby and Pop (my step-grandfather, Edgar Rust) moved from their house in Chestnut Hill to Boston, so I explored the City Directories at The 1954 and 1955 Boston City Directories don't have alphabetical listings that get to Rust (their images may be of volume 1 and not volume 2), but they do have the street listing that includes Beacon Street, which is more fun because in one place, a researcher can see who else is living in the same building.

The 1954 Directory shows that the apartment at the 8th floor was not occupied:

1954 Boston City Directory
p. 1506: 172 Beacon Street

In 1955, Edgar Rust is now residing in the apartment on the 8th floor:

1955 Boston City Directory
p. 1406: 172 Beacon Street
So it looks like they moved in 1954. They had previously lived at 22 Reservoir Road in Chestnut Hill, where they were enumerated with many errors in the 1940 U.S. Census.)

172 Beacon (2013),
courtesy of
I was prompted to write this post after reading a recent post at the New England Historic Genealogical Society's blog, Vita Brevis, called A Genealogical Jigsaw Puzzle, which mentions a website called Back Bay Houses. This is a great and well-organized website that has information about the "genealogical history" of homes in Boston's Back Bay. I could click on Beacon Street at the top of the page, and scroll down to the numbers between Berkeley and Clarendon to find number 172. Visit Back Bay Houses/172 Beacon for more information about the history of this lot and the building that was on the site before this one was built in 1928.

Libby lived on the 8th floor of 172 Beacon Street (the floor with the railings outside some of the windows) and we visited her apartment a few times a year, usually at Thanksgiving, Easter, and one day during our December school vacation. (She came to our house in Dedham on Christmas Day.)

Just looking at this picture of the front of 172 Beacon Street reminds me of going to visit Libby and going up the old fashioned elevator (with a doorman to work the sliding metal cage-style door) which opened directly into her front hall.

According to Back Bay Houses, the building was converted into condominiums in 1977, so she went from renting the 8th floor to owning it.