Saturday, December 31, 2016

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2016

Geneablogger Jill Ball, of GeniAus, suggests that genealogists celebrate the positives for the past year. My 2016 successes are listed below:

1. An elusive ancestor I found was (collateral relative) James J. H. Brown, a first cousin 4x removed. See his obituary here. With a name like James Brown, I never thought I'd find him!

2. A precious family photo I found was a daguerreotype of a first cousin 4x removed: Anna Bronson Alcott (though originally I thought it was my 2nd great-grandmother, Eliza May Wells).

3. An ancestor's grave I found was David Freeland, thanks to the online burial registry for Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. Before this year, I never knew when or where he died or where he might be buried. I still would like to find the final resting place of his wife, who died over 20 years before he did.

4. Important vital records I found were death certificates for extended Pittsburgh family in the Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964, database at I am able to put together these large Scottish-American families using information from these death certificates, cemetery records (thank you Find-A-Grave), and newspaper articles (thank you,, which has many Pittsburgh newspapers).

5. A newly found family member (second cousin Suzanne) is sharing scans of documents and photos from our common Copeland and Greeley ancestors, including photos of my second great grandfather dedicating a school in Winnetka, Illinois, and a family bible with a unique treasure inside.

6. A geneasurprise I received was an email with an image of a WWII Short Snorter with my dad's signature on it!

7. My 2016 blog post that I was particularly proud of was DNA ~ Visual Phasing (though I know it was a bit too scientific for some of my readers).

8. A new piece of software I mastered was BookWright from, which I used to write a book about the history of our family's summer house and its residents.

9. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was (and is) Facebook: It's a great place to connect with extended family and other genealogists, especially all the genealogy groups.

10. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was the second day of the MGC (Massachusetts Genealogical Council) Seminar on April 17, where I got to listen to Cece Moore, Your Genetic Genealogist, speak about DNA. I finally feel like I understand genetic genealogy.

11. A genealogy book that taught me something new was Drew Smith's Organize Your Genealogy. I will be reviewing it for organizing ideas for a long time to come.

12. A great repository/archive/library I visited was the New England Historic and Genealogical Society Library in Boston, which I try to visit once or twice a year.

13. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Nathan Dylan Goodwin's The Spyglass File. (I just finished it and loved it.) Any of Goodwin's genealogy mysteries are enjoyable!

14. It was exciting to finally meet Cece Moore (see #11 above) and Dick Eastman, who spoke to the MSOG (Massachusetts Society of Genealogists) - Middlesex chapter in June.

15. A geneadventure I enjoyed was visiting New York City in August, where I visited a couple of cemeteries, finding some of my ancestors (Pyles and McAlpins), and some of my husband's ancestors.

16. Another positive I would like to share is that I have so many wonderful photos and I'm sorry that I don't do a better job of sharing them with my readers. The photos of my "bald" great aunt Mary just have to put a smile on your face.

Marion, Margaret, Helen Rainey Hunter (aunt of the sisters), Caroline, Mary.

Thank you, Jill, for this wonderful idea and...

Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

NERGC 2017

The New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERGC) is holding its 14th biennial conference on April 26-29, 2017, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This will be my second NERGC and I'm looking forward to it! Registration is open (visit the website here and click where it says "Register Now" on the left-hand column). Early-bird registration ends on February 28.

This is a great opportunity to meet other genealogists and hear many great genealogy speakers in person.

There are many informative and educational sessions ranging from beginner to advanced. There are too many to list here, so click here for the 20-page brochure.

I am an official NERGC 2017 blogger and will be interviewing a speaker or two and sharing those interviews here in the next few months. I also hope to blog from the conference in April as I did from Providence in 2015.

If you are a genealogy blogger and plan to attend, consider being an official blogger by sending your name, blog URL and a brief bio to info -at-

It's going to be a fun and educational experience. Are you going?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

DNA ~ Visual Phasing

A few weeks ago, Blaine Bettinger, who blogs at The Genetic Genealogist, wrote about the use of Visual Phasing, a chromosome mapping methodology. The definition of Visual Phasing from Blaine's blog post:

Visual Phasing is a process by which the DNA of three siblings is assigned to each of their four grandparents using identified recombination points, without requiring the testing of either the parents or grandparents. Although the process does not automatically reveal which segment belongs to which of the four grandparents, matching with cousins provides this identification as a further step of the process.

I know some of my readers may be asking: what are you talking about? If you know you are genetically related to me, please read on!

The step-by-step on how to do visual phasing starts at Visual Phasing: Part 1 at his blog. (There are five parts.) He also includes links to visual phasing work of other genetic genealogists.

Since I have two siblings and we all have our DNA at GEDmatch, I decided that I wanted to try this. What I want to do here is to show why it's helpful to me if known relatives test their DNA, AND upload the raw data to

The images below include screenshots of "One-to-One" DNA chromosome browser comparisons from GEDmatch between me and brother S, between me and brother R, and between R and S.

Where you see solid green section, that means the two chromosomes (one from dad and one from mom) are fully-identical between those siblings. Where you see yellow (and green), that means that the siblings match on one of the two chromosomes. This is half-identical sharing. The red sections indicate that the siblings don't match on their pair of chromosomes.

I have added the vertical lines to represent recombination points in the DNA of my mother or my father as the DNA was passed down to me and my brothers.

At the bottom of the image is where I actually map the chromosome to my grandparents, using blue and red for my maternal grandparents and green and purple for my paternal grandparents.

Taking the suggestion from Blaine, I started with the X-chromosome. Daughters receive two X chromosomes, one from dad and one from mom. Sons receive one X chromosome, from mom (because they get the Y chromosome from dad). That's why in this example, only I (represented by E) have the long green bar below the blue and red bars. The green bar represents the X chromosome that I received from my dad. Brothers R and S only received one X chromosome - from mom.

Because Blaine does a good job of explaining the step-by-step of how to use this method, I'm not going to go through all those steps, but I can tell you that a cousin of my mother's shares DNA with brother R from 2,700,000 to 22,600,000 (numbers are rounded). Because I know that this cousin descends from Lowell Copeland and Ethel May Greeley (my mother's paternal grandparents), I know that the red segments represent DNA that came from the Copeland/Greeley ancestral line (i.e. my maternal grandfather). Therefore the blue segments represent DNA that came from the Hunter/Lysle ancestral line (i.e. my maternal grandmother).