Thursday, December 06, 2018

Tinkering with the latest genetic networks tool from Genetic Affairs


An amazing new Auto-Clustering tool from Genetic Affairs is the latest tool available to aid genetic genealogist in building genetic networks.  The leaders in Genetic Genealogy have all been blogging about it.  If you're interested in learning more about it, check out the links included at the end of this post.

This tool allows me to "drill down" in my matches at Ancestry where I have over 2500 4th  cousins or closer.  I've run several reports using varied settings.  The example shown below was done with the settings at option A and amounts 40cM-15cM.  It's having timing out issues right now due to size and my double colonial ancestry but this is really great output despite that.  Below is an annotated screenshot of the output.  I've not included the DNA Matches names which run across the top and down the left margin of the report.  This is just the top portion of this particular report.  There are a total of 68 clusters in this report.




The report also includes a match data table that is very helpful.  If you keep good notes you will have a much easier time figuring out what groups each cluster represents.  For the last few years, I have been sorting my AncestryDNA matches and attributing them to one of my 4 grandparents(noting PGF, PGM, MGF, or MGM in the Notes).  This has helped me tremendously.  Below is an example of the table data for my Cluster 14(not shown in the chart above)


I believe that each person's results will vary depending not only on their settings but also on their family dynamics and the number of family members(both close & distant) who have tested. 

Relevant Links:




Monday, December 03, 2018

A Christmas Card from Granny's Paper Collection: Card 2


Another Christmas Card from my Paternal Grandmother's collection.
This one is also from Granny Pearl Jakes Cooke's brother, Will B Jakes and his wife Georgia.


Front of Card --Still has a great deal of Glitter



Inside of Card


There isn't a logo of any sort on the back of the card.  The bottom left corner has P-5 and the bottom right corner 124-2 (beneath that in tinier letters is Litho in U.S.A.)

Do you mail out cards during the holidays?  Did your family mail out cards?   Did any family members save cards they have received?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Christmas Card from Granny's Paper Collection:




I've spent the last week getting my Christmas cards ready to mail.  Not an easy task with my reduced visual field but it's one of the traditions I'll continue as long as my eyes let me.  Blogger  Chris Otto posted on his Papergreat blog, about a vintage Christmas card by Hawthorne-Sommerfield that he has.  I found one of their cards among my grandmother's papers.  It was a Christmas card she received from her brother, Will B. Jakes and his wife Georgia.  There wasn't an envelope with it so I have no idea what year it was made or received.

Inside of the card & the signature



The bottom portion of the back of the card and the only info on the card. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving 1918




The Ralston Project at FamilyTreeDNA

Today's blog post focuses on the Ralston Project at FamilyTreeDNA.  While I have no direct Ralston connection, I do have Ralston cousin connections thru my King and Manire lines.  One of those cousins happens to be one of the administrators of the Ralston Project.  

I asked him to tell me and my readers more about the project.  The following was his response:

As a Ralston, I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have been asked, “Are you kin to the Ralston in Ralston-Purina?” We’ve all heard of it: Checkerboard logo, Rice Chex cereal, Chex mix for parties, Purina Dog Chow, Animal chow for just about any animal you can name.

The fact is, there never was a person named "Ralston" associated with the Purina Feed company. It was a marketing ploy, to piggyback on the Ralstonism movement that was popular near the beginning of the twentieth century.

But the net effect has been that everyone in America knows how to spell and pronounce the surname “Ralston". Or to put it better, we North Americans have all been brainwashed to this mindset.

There are over a dozen legitimate ways to spell the surname. There are probably at least 6 distinct ways to pronounce the variations in spelling. But the marketing efforts of the Ralston-Purina Company, TV ads, and the rest, have homogenized the spelling and pronunciation of the Surname Ralston, in North America.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. It makes it easier for strangers to understand how to spell and pronounce the name.

But other spellings and pronunciations are accepted elsewhere in the English-speaking world. So, Americans and Canadians should be aware that "RAWL-ston" is not the only way to pronounce it. That is just the way it has been pronounced in advertising for the last century.

So, in this limited context, the word R-A-L-S-T-O-N is an acronym for the following: Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen, and Nature.

So, although there was no “Ralston” in Ralston-Purina, there are many Ralstons in the world, most just regular folks, but some notable or famous ones. Are they all kin – or are they of different lineages? These families may spell their names differently; for example, Roulston, Raulston, Rolston, etc. The Ralston Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com wants to find out how/if these Ralstons are connected and where they originated. If you are a male Ralston (or variant of the name) you can help us with this effort and help yourself learn more about your origins. We are specifically looking for Ralston men who are:


  • Irish Rollestons with clear English descent
  • English Rollestons
  • Scottish Ralstons with ancestors from Beith, Kilwinning, Glasgow and surrounds.
  • Irish Roulstons/Rolstons/Ralstons, etc., or descendants of such.
  • Any Ralston who wishes to learn more about the origin of their paternal lineage.

For more information visit  Ralston Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com or The Ralston Project.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Visualizing DNA tested Descendants of an Ancestor Couple

If you are actively working to identify what relationship you share with your DNA matches, you have likely heard of the What Are The Odds tool, commonly referred to as WATO.   It is part of DNAPainter.com and you can learn more about all of the tools by visiting the website. While I use the tool mainly when I'm helping adoptees, lately I've been using it to get a visual of the assortment of people who have tested from specific ancestor couples.

One of my larger AncestryDNA Circles is that of Jabel Putman my 3rd Great Grandfather.  There are 106 members but I want to know if these testers represent someone from all of his children or just ones thru several branches. He is believed to have had 12 children.  Using the WATO tool I chart each line from Jabel to the tester.  I also look at the shared matches within the circle members to see if I can identify others who are descendants of Jabel who weren't included due to not having him in their tree.  I have added some that I've found at other sites as well.  Below is a closer look at two of the children of Jabel.  I didn't show the right side of the chart as it contains the names of living and testers but it gives you some idea of how it looks.



The chart is a work in progress.  I will be adding more testers as I identify them.
Of Jabel's 12 known children, it looks like all but 2 have descendants that have tested. There is a representation of the following among the Jabel Putman descendants:

3 of Susan's children
4 of Elizabeth's children
2 of William's children
2 of Simpson's children
3 of Hiram's children
5 of Sarah/Sally's children
2 of Parry's children
3 of Janette's children
4 of Noah's children
3 of Fanny's children

Please note that there are varying amounts of testers from each of those children's children who have tested.  Below is a zoomed out shot of the chart(just a small portion of it) which continues out to the testers on the right for each line.  This can be used to see the coverage or to identify testing opportunities.






Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Monday, November 05, 2018

Just a small portion of a family's paper trail



I have been planning for what seems like forever to go thru papers that were salvaged from Granny Cooke's Scrapbooks. To tell you what all the scrapbooks have been thru would take up more time than I wish to spend on this post.  Let's just say it's a miracle any of the contents survived.  I've had manila folders full of the contents in a file box for a number of years.  This weekend I processed a good bit of them.  I took each of the papers and put them in sheet protectors.  After arranging the pages in chronological order in a 3 ring binder, I began the process of cataloging each page.  I've finished with this notebook for now but I think it's safe to say there will be more added once I am able to get to some of the other files. 

The papers cover the time period from 1943 to 1976.  The following is a list of some of the types of papers that were included.

  • Report Cards
  • Certificate of Life Insurance(National Service Life Insurance)
  • Employment History Draft of my Uncle
  • Certificate of Promotion(School)
  • Letter Home while in Army(my Dad)
  • Television Repair Receipt
  • Receipt for purchase of Portable Record Player
  • Bill of Sale detailing financing for 1960 Rambler
  • Bank Note(Third National Bank)
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Itemized Insurance Statement for Hospital Stay
  • Correspondence from Veterans Administration
  • An Employment Application filled out by my Dad 
  • Proof of Auto Insurance from Allstate(1967-1968)
  • Letter acknowledging  transfer of Church Membership from Old Hickory 1st Baptist Church
  • Letter from Dupont about Pensioners' Day
  • Loan Papers from First American National Bank
These papers all had dates on them and most even had addresses.  This captures what was going on with the family at that given point in time.  




Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Women's Apparel--Fox on 5th Avenue--Nashville TN--1948


June Cooke Brannon




Among the things that my paternal Grandmother had in her Scrapbooking box were two store credit/layaway payment cards.  The cardholder is her daughter--my Aunt June.  The store sold women's apparel and was located in Nashville.    The time of the purchases and layaway(early 1948) coincides with Aunt June's wedding to John Arnette Brannon.  Their wedding announcement describes the outfit she wore as a navy blue suit with matching accessories and also mentions that she wore red roses on her jacket lapel.  June was working for Southern Telephone Company during this time.


Fox on 5th Ave LayAway Payment card







Newspaper Ad fof Fox On 5th Ave Womens Apparel






Monday, October 29, 2018

US Federal Census Research: Reflecting and Preparing

What was the most recent Federal Census available to the public when you began researching? For me, it was the 1910 census. A few months after the 1920 Federal Census was released I spent a great deal of time on the 5th floor of the Wallace State Community College Library(Hanceville, AL) in their Family History Collection viewing my ancestors on microfilm and giving my arm a workout advancing and rewinding the film. It won't be too long until we will be able to access the 1950 Federal Census from home. It will be released to the public on April 1, 2022.  I feel old...and grateful.

In what area will you be looking for your ancestors(or yourself if you were alive)?  If you don't know, you need to ask someone who does know.  You might try consulting a City Directory.  That's what I did.  I thought I knew where my Dad and his parents would be but upon consulting the directory, I found out that I did not.  

Preparing to find Dad's Family in 1950
Dad passed on 7 years ago so I'm not able to ask him where he was living.  Consulting a Nashville Directory I found a 1950 entry of Thos E Cook(Pearl)  which I believe is my Grandparents(Mr. & Mrs Thomas D Cooke).  My Uncle Morris is also listed at the same address and my grandfather's place of employment and job title are what they should be which reinforces that I have the correct entry.  The 1950 directory gives 1301 Gallatin Road as the address where my Grandparents lived however the address listed in the 1951 Directory is 1311 East Greenwood Ave.  Between about 1954 and mid-1960s, my grandparents rented homes and moved frequently.  Sometimes Tom and Pearl had separate households.  I do have listings of the addresses I obtained from my grandmother's correspondence as well as a wide variety of receipts and other papers which she and Tom saved.  I would have expected them to still be living at 911 Dodson Ave in Old Hickory because I had been told that my Grandmother insisted that they stay there until my Dad returned from the service.  He didn't enlist until 1952 and had been working at Dupont prior to his enlistment.  He returned to work there when he came back home from Korea.  Apparently, my Grandparents begin moving around abt 6 years prior to what I'd always been told.

Preparing to find Mom's Family in 1950
Mom is still living so I asked her if she remembered where her family was in 1950.  She is "pretty sure" she and her family were living at C.P. Moore's place in Bone Cave in 1950.  She was 10 at the time so this may or may not be where they were.   Bone Cave is in Van Buren Co TN and even if I have to read the entire county it won't take near as much time to find her as it would if I had to do the same for Davidson Co TN for Dad.  There is also a slight possibility that they were in Lincoln Co TN as her family was sharecroppers and frequent movers.

This should be fun.  We've got a little under 4 years to figure it out.  Here's hoping that indexing for it will happen as soon as possible once it is released.  

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Share your Ancestry trees via unique invite links

Allowing people to view your Ancestry tree is now easier than ever.  This will be a huge help not only for DNA testers but for sharing in general. I will be using this for most of my tree shares.  It is almost impossible to send a tree share invite to those who use their name instead of a username and who aren't able to see the tree because of a lack of a subscription.  This will take care of that.

1. While viewing the tree you wish to share, select Tree Settings.  Under Tree Settings select Sharing.
Under the Sharing section, Select Invite People.


2.  Notice there are now 3 ways to share the tree.  Select Shareable Link.


3.  You can choose the roles:  Guest, Contributor or Editor.  Also, the option to allow them to see living persons is available by share link.


4.  Once you have selected the Create Link a unique URL will appear which you can share.  Please note the blurb above the URL for more info on how the link will work.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A little webinar inspiration...

Earlier this month, I attended Gena Philibert-Ortega's  webinar--“Researching Your Female Ancestor by the Company She Kept.” The webinars are one of the perks of being a member of the Virtual Genealogical Association(VGA).    So today I'm making a list of "communities" to research for my not just my female ancestors but my male ancestors as well.  I hope to be adding to this list so this blog post will(I hope) have many updates.


  • The Cotton Mill in Madison Co AL 1920-1930(Luna & Acuff)
  • Dupont workers during 1923-1952(Papaw Cooke)
  • Old Hickory village 1923-1952(Cooke/Jakes)
  • Pencil Mill in Chapel Hill TN 1920
  • Early schools in Bedford Co. TN
  • Christian & Church of Christ Church Warren, White, Van Buren Co TN(Acuff & McElroys)
  • Cumberland Presbyterian(King) 
  • Baptist Church In Early TN(Y DNA Cook lines)
  • Horse Farms in Bell Buckle TN 1890-1912(Jakes & Frizzells)
  • Distillers in early Middle Tennessee area(Ogilvies/Allisons)
  • Jackson Co AL prior to 1838(Pittman & Hatfields)
  • 200 block of North Charlotte St Dickson TN (1969-1975)