Biological vs. cultural heritage, also known as nature vs. nurture, is a question withstanding the test of time. If DNA testing reveals surprises in your family tree, consider what "family" means to you. Genealogy is full of surprises. As I was wrapping up a large pedigree project for one of our clients recently, a couple of birth records that had been lost in the mail finally arrived. They revealed that the man the client had always known as her paternal grandfather was not actually biologically connected to her family after all.Now that DNA testing is affordable and available to everyone, these genealogy surprises (called non-paternity events) are becoming more and more common. Of course, they have always been there – we just didn’t usually know about them before! People are finding cousins whom the family had never known existed, and others are finding that what the records say were their ancestors (or parents!) differs significantly from what their DNA says.Discovering …Read more
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Discovering an ancestor's photograph is one of the highlights of genealogy research. Bringing a face to a name is a priceless addition to any family tree. Here are a few ideas to help you locate ancestral photographs.Photographs can be very interesting genealogical records, and we have been told are worth a thousand words. The picture above, taken sometime around 1908 at Warm River, Idaho, certainly tells something. Of particular interest is a couple in the back corner. They were Zina Gunter and David Howell, and at this summer family gathering, were courting, and by winter would celebrate a Christmas Eve wedding.In the 1910 census, we find Zina and David living as husband and wife. Of note, 22-year-old Zina had given birth to one child, who had died. When one visits the cemetery where Zina was buried, one notices four brilliant-white grave markers within close proximity to hers:A close study of the grave markers reveals that four children were born to Zina and David …Read more
In preparation for an upcoming heritage tour to his ancestral homeland, our client enlisted our help to learn more about his Italian immigrant ancestors.One of my favorite things about being a Project Manager for Legacy Tree Genealogists is witnessing how our work directly affects our clients.We recently wrapped up a project for a client who will soon be traveling to Italy. After tracing her Italian immigrant ancestors through the United States Federal Census records in the early 20th Century, we were able to identify an arrival in the U.S. in ships manifest records. Not only did this clear up a family rumor that their eldest living son was born in Italy (he wasn’t), it revealed that the young wife, Michela, made the trip from Sicily to Cleveland, Ohio, alone and without knowing any English!Having identified the village the couple came from in Sicily, we were able to track down birth and death records for their first two children who had both been born in Sicily …Read more
Understanding the historical context of the stories of your ancestry can provide important insight into your personal family history.I recently had a project come across my desk where the client wanted to learn more about his father’s life during a 5-year time span that he was in the United States.Unfortunately he arrived and departed between census records, so there was no way to locate him in the U.S. that way. However, by locating him on a passenger list we were able to learn the specific street address, city, and state he was headed to. Even with that information, he couldn’t be found in any available records, including city directories. However, when we used the information we did have - where he was from, his occupation, where he was headed - we were able to locate a newspaper article that talked about his exact situation. The article mentioned that people from his specific origin country came to that specific town during that specific time period to work in the steel …Read more