Comments in Ekke’s Margin

An affidavit in the 1892 homestead application of Ekke Behrens of Weyerts, Nebraska, makes several good genealogical research points.

There is a naturalization record for Ekke Behrens in the homestead application of Ekke Behrens and on the surface I thought it was the naturalization for Ekke, the homestead applicant. Upon closer reading of this affidavit, it became clear that the naturalization was for Ekke’s father Ekke and not for Ekke the applicant.

It always pays to read the entire file of any record and not to make assumptions. In looking at the naturalization record contained in the file, I thought that the naturalization year of 1867 seemed a little “off” to have been for Ekke the homestead applicant. I made a note about the seeming inconsistency in the date of naturalization given Ekke the homesteader’s age but thought that the 1867 date was probably a transcription error on the part of the clerk since the naturalization record in the homestead file was not the original record.


This notation on Ekke’s final application for the homestead explained the age discrepancy.

It would be easier if parents did not name children after themselves.


Trientje Eilts Post Calligraphy

This is part of the inscription in a book that Trientje Eilts Post (1808-1877) made for her daughter Annebken Hinrichs. The book was given to Annebken in 1851 when the family was living in Holtrop, Ostfriesland, Germany.
The book is in the possession of a family member who graciously scanned the document and shared it with me. This is only a part of the inscription. There is a short verse and a date as well.

Will the Library Use it? Will the Library Keep and Maintain It?

When you donate an item to a library, archives, or other facility, ask them about their retention policies.

Can they afford to maintain the item? What happens if they are unable to afford to maintain it as a part of their collection? Does the library, archives, or other facility have an actual interest in your material? Is there something about it that is unique and worth collecting? Is your material simply a collection of photocopies of public records or is it personal family letters or other unique material? If you self-publish your biography is the library really interested in having it on their shelves? If your donated material is not used will it be culled from the collection?

All questions to think about.

Libraries, archives, and other facilities cannot necessarily keep everything forever.


The Home Fires Burned His Discharge Papers

his discharge having been burnt at the time his house was consumed by fire

Sometimes it’s easy to remember how many of our ancestors were impacted by the burning of their home. It’s why Augusta Newman did not have his discharge papers from the War of 1812 and it is not common in pension applications to see similar reasons why veterans or their widows are lacking paper documentation for their statements.

Of course “claiming fire” is an easy claim to make, even if it did not happen. Veterans who really served (as Augusta did) and could not find their discharge papers or other documentation had to make out statements to that effect, find witnesses still living who could remember, or hope that there were records of their service around somewhere. Augusta had no difficulty proving his military service and there’s no reason to doubt the fire actually happened–although it would have been nice if he had given a date and a place.

But in the case of his pension papers, the concern is not when or where the fire took place. What mattered was that he had no discharge papers. Fortunately there were documents to back up the claim Augusta made that he enlisted in a Kentucky unit in Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky in September of 1814 and was discharged at Ft. Mauldin in March of 1815.

This is one reason why pension applications are so helpful to the genealogist–veterans and their widows would have to prove with other means what they could not prove with one official document. Sometimes that process was lengthy and generated more information than one would expect.

When one remembers how fire was used to heat in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is a wonder that there are any personal family effects left for any of us to use.


A Few More ThruLines Frustrations

Experimenting with ThruLines(tm) again, I realized a few additional things that are frustrating and was reminded of a few things that are worth mentioning again:

  • My 4th great aunt is shown here as “private.” I understand that she may be private in some trees, but is she private in every tree? I tend to doubt it. It is also frustrating that I can’t even see what tree the “private” entry is coming from–so I can’t even attempt to contact that tree’s compiler.
  • The descendant of my private aunt (5th cousin to me) and I share 7 cM of DNA. That doesn’t “prove” the sisters were sisters, although it is consistent with that relationship. The two Chaney women could have been first cousins, aunt/niece, or other relatively close relationships.
  • The shared DNA does not prove the mother of the Chaney sisters either. In fact I’ve seen no reliable information documenting that relationship. The father of the sisters is well-documented–the mother is not.



Using ThruLines Webinar Released

My latest webinar on using ThruLines at AncestryDNA has been released and is available for ordering and download.

It includes:

  • understanding  where the information in the tree comes from–what’s yours and what’s someone else’s;
  • basics of evaluating the information in the tree;
  • responsibly using ThruLines(TM) information;
  • limitations of ThruLines(TM)
  • basics of how much DNA you typically share with certain cousins and relationship prediction;
  • do you really have the right genealogical connection with that DNA match;
  • using ThruLines(TM) to sort your matches with linked trees;
  • problem-solving and trouble shooting with ThruLines(TM).

Orders can be processed on our announcement page.


BCG Standards Manual-2nd Edition

There’s a new version of the Standards Manual written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). I’ve ordered my copy and will be discussing it here after it arrives and as time allows. Manuals of this type are helpful if for no other reason than to get you thinking about how you research.

This second edition includes and expands upon the previous edition of this manual. Many changes incorporate DNA data and analysis.





Where Oh Where Did They Get Walliburga? Why Did the User Trees Leave Him Alone?

One would think that ThruLines would at least be consistent in presenting a lineage.

ThruLines image. Not necessarily genealogically accurate.

That thought would be wrong.

As an experiment, the family tree attached to a set of test results only included the name of the mother of the testee (Grace [Mortier] Johnson, born in 1913 in Rock Island County, Illinois). ThruLines(tm) constructed a pedigree for Grace that was consistent with known information on most of her ancestral lines.

Until I looked at the purported ancestors of Grace’s ancestor, Maria Ursula (Willi) Cawiezell (1823-1893 Davenport, Scott County, Iowa). That was when I saw a problem. ThruLines(tm) had different lineages for Maria. I looked at the “potential ancestors” for Maria in her “paternal”  line at ThruLines(tm). Maria’s father was either:

  • Walliburga Willey
  • Johan Antonio Willi

ThruLines image. Not necessarily genealogically accurate.

When analyzing the individual trees from which the Walliburga parentage was created, there was no connection to Maria at all. The tree that gave me Maria’s name didn’t have Walliburga as her father. The tree that gave me Walliburga’s name did not give a daughter Maria. I’m not certain where it came from.


Based upon the DNA, immigration patterns, and the actual records that have been located, there is significant support for Johan as the father of Maria. The trees that are used as the source for Johan in ThruLines(tm) do list Maria as a daughter. That is not evidence by itself, but at least I can see where ThruLines(tm) got the relationship.

I can’t see that for Walliburga. Usually in ThruLines(tm) trees, relationships are at least pulled from one tree. It would make more sense if the “trees” at ThruLines(tm) had a consistent suggestion for Maria’s father.

One more reason to use these trees as a clue. One more reminder that they are created based upon an algorithm–“programmed intelligence” and “programmed reasoning.” And that’s the problem.

I still think that ThruLines(tm) has the potential to help users with the broad initial sort of their DNA results. But the information needs to be used with care and users need to use it with their eyes wide open and their brain turned on.  This is one more instance of “stitching” where the thread and the needle are apparently on different surfaces–perhaps even different rooms.

Our earlier posts on ThruLines(tm):

As always, readers are free to use or not use things we write about. But using them without some knowledge is the problem. That’s one we want readers to avoid and why we mention the negative.

Note: Some readers will “get” the title to this post. Those who do have a little bit in common with me. And if you don’t get it, it is ok–really it is. Sometimes my humor is over-rated.

Find out more about my “ThruLines”(tm) webinar.



ThruLines image. Not necessarily genealogically accurate.



ThruLines Webinar Rescheduled

Due to my catching some “bug,” we’ve moved the ThruLines webinar to 17 March at 8 PM central. This delays the release of the recording until the 18th as well. Those who ordered should have received a notice (check your spam folder if you didn’t get it).

You can still register for live attendance or pre-order a recording. I’m trying to respond to emails within twenty-four hours.


Looking at More Double Connections

At least thirty-three of my DNA matches at AncestryDNA are related to me through Augusta Newman who died in White County, Indiana, in 1864 and his wife Melinda (Sledd) Newman who died in Linn County, Iowa. In looking at the shared centimorgans I had with some of those descendants, I noticed amounts that seemed a little high for the distance of our paper genealogical connection. In reviewing those thirty-three descendants of Augusta and Melinda, I noticed that six of those Newman cousins were also cousins on another family line. The amounts of shared DNA were compared with averages from Blaine Bettinger’s “Shared cM Project.

  • Thomas T. Newman. Two descendants.
    • 5th paper cousin (also a 5th cousin through a separate Tinsley connection)shared 29cM–two segments. The shared cM Project (Version 3.0) suggests an average shared cM of 25 cM (range 0-94). Not suggestive of a duplicate relationship.
    • 5th paper cousin (also a 5th cousin through a separate Tinsley connection)–shared 16cM–two segments. The shared cM Project (Version 3.0) suggests an average shared cM of 25 cM (range 0-94)Not suggestive of a duplicate relationship.
  • Edward Tinsley Newman. One descendant.
    • 5th paper cousin through Augusta Newman (also a 4th cousin through a separate Rampley connection)shared 26 cM–two segments. The shared cM Project (Version 3.0) suggests an average shared cM of 25 cM (range 0-94) for 5th cousins–not unusually high or suggestive of a duplicate relationship.
  • William Newman descendants-including me–Three other descendants.
    • 3rd paper cousin (also a 3rd cousin through a  separate Neill connection)  — shared 169 cM across 7 segments. The shared cM Project (Version 3.0) suggests an average shared cM of  74 cM for this relationship. While 169 is in the range (0-217), the shared amount seems high.
    • 3rd paper cousin once removed (also a 4th cousin through a separate Janssen connection and a 5th cousin once removed through a Post connection)— shared 111 cM across 4 segments. The shared cM Project (Version 3.0) suggests an average shared cM of  74 cM for this relationship. The shared amount is higher than average and is even higher than the average amount of shared cM for a 4th cousin  (35 cM) and a 5th cousin (25 cM).
    • 3rd paper cousin (also a 5th cousin through a separate Rampley connection) shared 109 cM across 5 segments. The shared cM Project (Version 3.0) suggests an average shared cM of  74 cM for this relationship.

Having a double or triple connection does not guarantee that the amount of shared DNA will be doubled or tripled. While I received half of my DNA from my father and my mother, it is not likely that I have exactly 1/4 of my DNA from each of my grandparents.

One thing worth noting: a possible reason why the double cousins I have through Thomas T. Newman do not share any more DNA than usual is that the double connection we share runs through one great-great-grandparent for both of us (Newman men married Tinsley sisters). The other shared paper genealogical connections are more spread through my ancestry–and that would seem to increase the probability that there’s more shared DNA. Maybe.

The averages are only averages.