Friday, 24 June 2016

My Ancestors and their Descendants - my potential DNA Tree

Earlier this year, our ISP informed us that it would no longer support personal web spaces - a poor decision in my view (of course!)

The upside of this is that it will force me to do the web site "re-write" that I set as a goal in 2015.

The downside is that I haven't done it yet, so my Parry Surname Research (Family History and the One-Name Study) site has disappeared.

Theoretically, since the site was written in html and css, it would have been quite easy to just upload all the files elsewhere.  But then there'd be little incentive to get the rewrite done.  And, with the development of the Guild's "Members' Websites Project", it seems an ideal opportunity to separate out any personal family history from the Parry One-Name Study information, and to ensure the long term survival of the ONS data by placing it on the Guild's site.

So that's the plan. And it is in progress (slowly).

But today, frustrated at the loss of my "DNA tree", which I really need to accompany the autosomal DNA project I have set up at Family Tree DNA, I decided to try uploading that here, on Blogger.  It's taken a bit of tweaking of the coding, especially on the page width, which I hope I don't accidentally delete, but at least the information is available again:

My Ancestors and their Descendants - my potential DNA Tree

And now I've been reminded of just how many of my ancestors and their descendants I still need to trace. ☺

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Other activities - the Genealogy Do-Over interlude

Sometimes I keep a diary.  And sometimes I don't.  And, when I don't, I often look back and wonder what I did for all those days! 

So, for my own future reference (and for any descendants who ever wonder what their "x times great" grandmother did), here are a few notes.  Firstly, I resurrected another hobby - sewing.  Prompted by the thought that the Saturday night banquet at the Guild of One Name Studies Conference has seen me wearing the same dress for a number of years, I decided to make a skirt - which then developed into making a skirt, top, evening bag and several other items just for the fun of it.  Getting the critical items finished on time did involve stitching at 5.30 am on the morning of the banquet but, since I'd woken up early anyway, it seemed like a good use of my time.

Finishing the sewing so early at least left me free to chat to people in any spare time during that day.  And chat I did, as the Conference is a great time for catching up with "old" friends, as well as making new ones.  Some of the conference sessions were recorded and the videos are available on the Guild's YouTube channel - I am looking forward to watching some of those sessions I missed, due to there being two sessions running at the same time.  It would be hard to pick highlights from the Conference, as it was all so good, but I think Jim Benedict's interactive session on "Succession-Proofing your ONS" probably stands out as providing the most laughs, as the various groups debated why *their* method of succession-proofing was best (Debbie, have you bought that spaceship yet?).

We heard more about the Guild Members Websites project over the weekend and I took the opportunity to chat with Mike Spathaky about his Cree Study site, and the various different options for producing websites.  It was Mike who had asked me, on the Guild hangout in February, why I was thinking of moving my PARRY ONS site to WordPress.  As a result of our discussions about the benefits, and potential longevity, of html, I now have a few more reasons for not doing so.

For the first time at the Conference, on the Friday afternoon there was an informal meeting for those interested in DNA testing.  Despite me being totally disorganised, having arrived at the hotel later than planned, and then walking all the way to my hotel room, only to discover that my key didn't work, so that I was still carrying around half my belongings at the time the meeting began, things seemed to run smoothly as we all shared about our various levels of involvement with DNA testing.  No doubt we will all be building on this in the coming months and years. 

I have frequently come away from the Conference with some snippet of Parry information, whether it has been from Marriage Challenge certificates passed on to me, or references I have found in books on the bookstall, or in someone's talk, etc.  This year was no exception, as Jo Fitz-Henry very kindly supplied me with photographs of some Parry gravestones that she had come across.  I'll write more about those on the Parry ONS blog.

The Conference was held at Brigg in Lincolnshire and my route there provided an opportunity to drive past RAF Scampton, one of the bases where my mother had been stationed in her WRAF days.  When planning my conference attendance, I had originally thought of contacting the museum on the base with a view to arranging to visit enroute to Brigg.  It was probably a good job I didn't do that, given how time went.  But that's now on my "To Do" list, for another occasion.

Moving on from the Conference in March, the next main event was the WDYTYA? Live Show in April which, for the first time, was being held at the NEC, Birmingham.  This provided another incentive to do some sewing!  Several years ago, Dick Eastman blogged about the Progeny Charting Companion program and its ability to produce an embroidery pattern from your family tree.  "What a wonderful idea," I thought, and soon after that, I was able to replace my 35 year old sewing machine with a new one capable of following such a pattern.  Then came the "busy-ness" of the last few years.  I still haven't tried that program but, ever since I discovered some ancestors who were "artisans in fireworks", I have had an idea in my mind - and I finally managed to execute that in time to wear to the show.

Okay, the hall was too warm to actually wear the hoody *in* the show, but I'd achieved my goal!  I'm now on the look-out for other items I can embroider with bits of my family history!

At the show, I was helping to man the ISOGG stand (ISOGG = International Society of Genetic Genealogy).  We were so busy throughout most of the time that I was amazed I hadn't lost my voice - it seemed like every time I sat down, another visitor would arrive with a query.  Hopefully, we will be seeing a rapid increase in DNA testing in the UK over the coming months, especially now all three of the main companies (FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe and Ancestry) are marketing their products here.  Another enjoyable aspect of WDYTYA was meeting many of the ISOGG members who came across from the United States to assist with the practical aspects of testing on the FTDNA stand.  Although ISOGG itself is an independent organisation and, as far as possible, information is always presented without bias, many of us would admit to having a personal preference towards FTDNA, not least because they are the only testing company that support the YDNA and mtDNA projects.  (Having taken the autosomal test at all three companies, I think it only fair to mention that I can find pros and cons for each of them.)

There was a fair amount of catching up to do, after the three days of "doing nothing" at WDYTYA, which was followed by a deadline for some paperwork.  But, now that's been met, I find myself actually restarting my Genealogy Do-Over. 

I wonder whether I can get to week 13 without any further interruptions!

Genealogy Do-Over "restart"

It's time to restart my restart!

As I described in my last post, I needed to postpone my Genealogy Do-Over, as other activities have had to take priority recently.  However, I'm now back again - and, amazingly, back before the repeat of the scheduled Do-Over week that I had paused at.  So that gives me a bit of time to refresh my memory of what I had been doing (seems to be an increasingly necessary task these days!)

There has still been some - almost unintentional - progress on the Do-Over topics in the interim.  I have bought a new laptop, as the start up of my previous one would have been beaten by a snail doing a marathon.  Unlike previous occasions when I have changed computers, this time I do not intend to just transfer everything across in one go, thus maintaining (and perhaps being limited by) the old file structure.  Instead,  I will take the opportunity to redesign my filing system - which was one of my aims for the Do-Over.  Since I am keeping the old laptop to use whenever I run a stand for the Guild of One-Name Studies at a family history fair, the new laptop has also been a good opportunity to purchase full and/or up-to-date versions of the programs I'm going to be using from now on, such as Legacy and Evidentia.

So the next couple of weeks will be a steep learning curve, as I start to get to grips with these properly, as well as continue trying to build the use of programs such as OneNote and Evernote into my routine, in order to maintain a good system to my research files and the Parry data collection, in particular.  Thankfully, many of the programs have active User Groups, which I imagine I shall be making frequent use of!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

How am I doing? A Do-Over review

Half way through the Do-Over, I started to assess my progress.  Seven weeks later, the post is still sitting here unfinished - which probably says it all!

Other aspects of life got in the way again, and with the "Who Do You Think You Are? Live" exhibition coming up soon at the NEC, Birmingham, as well as family activities, the Do-Over situation won't improve anytime soon.   It isn't really a problem to me - I always knew that applying the lessons of the Do-Over would take longer than the 13 weeks of the scheme.  Thomas MacEntee is now repeating the series, for those who joined late, or who just want to repeat it.  Although I would have liked to have completed the full sequence of topics, if only at a basic level, before repeating them to add further layers of knowledge and experiences, for this second time around perhaps I will just pick it up again when he reaches week 7.

(Did I see a reference to cycles 3 and 4 among Thomas's comments on Facebook?  That will certainly help to keep me going all year. Perhaps by December I will have made it to week 13!  J  )

For those new to the idea, the Do-Over Facebook group can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/genealogydoover/

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Genealogy Do-Over week 6

The topics for week 6 of the Genealogy Do-Over were:
1. Evaluating Evidence
2. Reviewing Online Education Options

Collecting data, or "evidence", is easy - I do it all the time, particularly for my one-name study.  A new database is announced, I visit the site, search for "Parry", and then collect any results.  Sometimes this is only at the index level as, depending on the format of the database, extraction of any additional details can be quite time consuming.  And often, because the Parry ONS is a fairly large study, that is as far as I get.  Yes, eventually, when I am identifying individuals, and tracking the events of their lives, the expectation is that I will take a closer look at the details and be able to add the information to a person in a pedigree.  But that does not always happen to start with, and even an index level of detail can have value for a one-name study, so that's okay.  It is still progress on the study.

However, it is another step to actually evaluate the evidence found.  But this is an essential step, if we're aiming to produce reliable pedigrees, or life histories, or even just statistics from the original database.  After all, how complete *is* that database?  Are the results really representative of what I think they are?

Sometimes the need for evaluation of a source is obvious.  When I first started collecting any references to the Parry surname, I soon realised that there were certain "well known" Parry families.  For example, 'The Parrys of Poston', in Herefordshire, who are frequently noted because descendants include Blanche Parry, Chief Gentlewoman to Queen Elizabeth I.   But, when I found the often quoted source, a pedigree for the family in the "History of Breconshire", warning bells began to ring.  It wasn't just the tracing of the tree back into the 'myths of time', from "Catherine, widow of Thomas Lord Laci", through "Idio Wyllt, Earl of Desmond",  and back to the kings of Ireland, but basic issues, such as the almost total absence of dates, and even occasionally names, for some of the more recent individuals in the pedigree. 

Clearly there are questions to be asked about the accuracy and reliability of such a work. 

But the necessity for evaluation of all sources is easy to forget when dealing with some of the more recent "evidence" we collect.  So we take documents such as census records or birth certificates at face value.  Occasionally, we might perhaps spot an anomaly that causes us to ponder but, generally, we can be tempted to think, "it's an official record, it must be accurate".  We can also fall into the trap of assuming that, just because we can only find one entry for the name we're looking for, then that *must* be the relevant one.  I was amused to see a blog post recently, by Cherie Tabor Cayemberg, which illustrated exactly this point, as she was searching for the death date of a relative with what seemed to be a rare combination of names, but found two possibilities in the same area.  How easy it would have been to be misled, if there had only been one obituary available (Tuesday's Tip - The Case of the Two Viola Vanias http://haveyouseenmyroots.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/tuesdays-tip-case-of-two-viola-vanias.html

These days, it is so easy to add details to a family tree without going through a process of evaluation (especially when the tree is on the same site as the databases themselves, such as on Ancestry, with their "Save to person in your tree" button).  Once entered into a tree, there's even less chance of a later reader examining why a particular connection was made, or how strong the evidence was for a stated fact.   Good research, that produces results which can be relied upon, requires a better examination of every source, or piece of evidence, and a ranking of reliability.  That was something I was aiming at with my Colston Parry pedigree at http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~parryresearch/colston.htm , but I still have some way to go to build this process into my practice. 

The principles of evaluating genealogical evidence, usually based on the work of Elizabeth Shown Mills (see https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-17-evidence-analysis-process-map ), can be found on many sites. Thomas MacEntee added the relevant considerations as columns in his Research Log spreadsheet but, for a working reference sheet, I quite like the way Dawn Kogutkiewicz formatting the items as questions ( at http://dawninggenealogy.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/genealogy-do-over-week-6.html?spref=fB ).  So these are now entered into my OneNote Research Notebooks, to be referred to whenever I am collecting data.  I have also added a note to develop some questions for myself, that I can apply to a whole database prior to even looking at individual entries, as evaluation at that level will be necessary if I am drawing conclusions based on index level information.

Reviewing Online Education Options
This topic made me laugh - as, if "doing the Do-Over" wasn't enough of an example of online education, I don't know what is!

We all need to keep learning, as Thomas MacEntee says, not just to improve our own research, but to keep up with new developments and to learn about new areas of research.  So, do I need a specific 'education plan, as he suggests setting?  One needs to remember that those whose livelihood involves genealogical education will keep on producing 'new' courses, webinars, etc., as long as people keep attending them.  The danger is that there is so much information 'out there', that we can easily spend all our time trying to learn everything, and we never actually 'do' anything.

So, no, I am not going to create a new 'education plan' this week - in a sense, I already have one, because the goals that I set out initially for this year of my Do-Over, such as mastering the new techniques and new programs that I am using, involves a lot of learning.  So I shall continue to focus on the items already specified and trying to ensure that what I learn actually gets embedded into my practice.

Monday, 23 February 2015

My First AncestryDNA Tree Hint

Last week I noticed one of those leaves.  You know the sort - the little 'hints' that appear on  Ancestry, to indicate that they have identified an item in their records, or in someone else's pedigree, which the company's search tools suggest could possibly relate to someone in my own pedigree.  When I first put my tree online, there were over 1000 of these and some of the suggestions seemed so ridiculous to me that I soon decided to ignore the little leaves.

But not this one.

This one was on my DNA account.  That's the same pedigree for me, but being matched to a specific group of people as comparisons, people already identified by Ancestry as connected to me through shared DNA. 

Excitedly, I checked my match's details.  A private tree.  Never mind, send a message - and wait.  (Did they receive the message?  How long should I wait before sending another, 'just in case' the first went astray?  Oh, aren't we genealogists so impatient at times!)

I receive a reply. Hurrah!

And, yes, we do appear to have a common ancestor.  Or, more correctly, a common ancestral couple.  Thomas DOWDING (b. 1768 d. 1857) and Ann WHATLEY  (d. 1861), living in Donhead St Andrew.  I descend from their son, George , who married Mary COLLINS and my match descends from their daughter Jane, who married a John HOWELL.  I show the family on my "DNA Tree" at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/im.griffiths/parryfamilyhistory/personaldnatree.htm (search the page for "Whatley" to find them, as I haven't yet added links to specific families).

The research for this family was mainly carried out by my mother, and it is part of my "Genealogy Do-Over" goals to check her work during this year.  But, at the death of Ann DOWDING, the widow of Thomas DOWDING, the informant was a John HOWELL, and I have found some look-ups I did for Mum on Ancestry, back in 2005, relating to the John HOWELL, so we were definitely considering that family as another descendant branch.

John HOWELL appears to have first been married to a Mary (HO107/1175/5/ED8/F22/P6) and had at least four children by 1841.  There is a possible death for Mary in March 1849 and, based on the 1851 census, John and Mary had, had further children by then (HO107/1849/62/24).  John then marries Jane DOWDING* and has at least three children, Emma J, Georgina and Abigail.

My DNA match is descended from Emma Jane HOWELL.

The Ancestry relationship prediction is that we are 5th-8th cousins.  From the genealogical relationships, we are 4th cousins , once removed.

Unfortunately, at Ancestry there is no chromosome browser, so we cannot see where we share DNA.  If we could, it would enable us to each identify our other matches over the same area.  If those matches then matched both of us there, this would mean we all shared the same common ancestry somewhere on the lines through Thomas or Ann (either their descendants, or, as descendants of one of their ancestors).  Thus it would potentially help us find our connection to these other people, who might not have sufficient detail in their pedigrees for us to spot the link from the pedigrees alone.

Also, currently, even though the two of us have found common ancestors, it does not necessarily follow that the shared DNA definitely comes through them - so, finding other matches who share the same DNA segments with both of us would enable us to see whether their pedigrees have the potential to link to this same ancestral couple, which would help to confirm where the DNA actually came from.

I wonder if my match might be willing to upload their data to Gedmatch, so that we can actually compare DNA - currently, transferring the data elsewhere is the only way to make up for the deficiency in the Ancestry provision.

So, there is still a lot to confirm, but at least this 'shaking leaf' does seem to be a hint in the right direction. 

[*Jane appears to have been married before as well - a Jane DOWDING marrying an Elias DUNFORD in 1842, with Elias dying in 1843, and a 'Jane DUNFORD' then marrying John HOWELL in 1849.  These details do still need confirming.]

Genealogy Do-Over Week 5

The Genealogy Do-Over Week 5 tasks were:
1) Building a Research Toolbox and
2) Citing Sources

Thomas MacEntee is clearly keen on the idea of every researcher having a "consolidated research toolbox filled with various tools such as historical value of money calculators, links to historical newspaper sites, etc".  And I can see the advantages of increasing one's efficiency by being able to go straight to a particular "tool", (ie website), rather than having to spend time looking for a suitable one, and risking being sidetracked by all the other possibilities found en route, or becoming frustrated by not finding a suitable resource.

I know my mother had such a research toolbox, as I was going through some paperwork recently and found it.  She wrote information and useful websites into an address book:

But I must admit to being somewhat ambivalent about the idea of maintaining such a toolbox myself.  Whilst I used to bookmark particularly helpful, or unusual/interesting, web sites, these days I can usually find what I want using Google in less time than it takes me to even remember I have such a site bookmarked, yet alone remember where I listed it! 

Would things be better if I made sure my list was organised?  Perhaps, but I don't believe in reinventing the wheel and, with the existence of sites such as Cyndi's List at http://www.cyndislist.com/ , there seems little point in trying to produce a list myself.  

Maybe my view would be different if I was only researching my own family, and therefore concentrating on a particular region, or regularly returning to the same records.  But, with the one-name study, research could lead in any direction, so I am unlikely to have been able to anticipate which tools I need before a particular need arises.

It occurs to me that the research log, which I am (supposed to be J  ) keeping, will list all the sites that I have searched - so there's a sense that, as long as the log is completed as I research, and it is easily searchable, then it will meet the need of enabling me to re-find that really useful site I remember coming across.  And one of my intentions for my new ONS web site is to have a list of sources, with their general citation details and some information regarding the reliability (or otherwise) of the source, a bit like a bibliography but with added notes.  So this would also build up to become a form of toolbox.

And so I am not going to specifically create a toolbox now, but perhaps one will develop over time, and I shall then be able to see how useful it becomes.

I am quite "late" posting this, as I wanted to make sure I had actually carried out the part 2 activity, which was to read Chapters 1 and 2 of "Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace".  I bought a download of this book last year, and had started to read it but decided a refresher of those chapters would be a good idea.  Anyone who has studied to a reasonably high level, and carried out research projects, will know the importance of citing sources.  Some people doing the Do-Over seem to have been quite stressed about the 'correct' construction of citations - but there are several different formats in general use, depending on what type of research one is doing, or where it is being published.  So, rather than worrying about all the little nuances, I find it easiest to just remember the main point - that the citation should enable anyone else to find the documents I used for my research.  

Hopefully, that should be sufficient while I am getting into the habit of always quoting the sources for everything I do, and I can refine how I am actually writing them once I get more proficient at remembering to add them in the first place!