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fireworks

July started off with a bang! Just like many families around the nation, we went to a local park to watch the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. We are also fortunate to live amidst cornfields and rural areas and can shoot off our own sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and other types of fireworks. For me the holiday was full of mixed emotions since I knew that just two days later, I would be on my way to Ohio to have my dad’s ashes interred – and – I would see cousins and begin the genealogy adventure that I’ve been waiting to do.

July 6 – Started very early in the morning as my fifteen year old grandson and I finished loading up the car to begin our trip eastward. As we neared the Mississippi River to cross in to Illinois, the sky was full of gray clouds. We drove through Springfield in the rain which turned to sprinkles close to Decatur. By the time we arrived in Brownsburg, Indiana, the sun was out, and it was time for lunch. We arrived at my cousin’s home located south of Dayton before 4:30 p.m.

Our first evening together since the summer of 2010 was full of laughter and catching up. Her two boys are a year older and a year younger than my grandson so the boys disappeared to play video games in the basement. We had a great dinner and then in the late evening, she told me that we needed to go to Bill’s Donuts. Wait a minute – a donut shop – at night? Let me just say that every town across the United States needs one of these places that are open 24 hours! It appeared to be the local hangout for not only teens but families. Picture the very best ice cream shop you’ve visited – but instead of ice cream, it’s donuts! We left there with a baker’s dozen of a variety of sweet treats for breakfast (some of them were still left at breakfast the next morning too!). On second thought, it’s probably not a good idea for one of those to be close to where I live!

July 7 – I used the Keurig coffee maker for the very first time and then headed to the cemetery in order to sign all the necessary documents pertaining to my father’s ashes and the interment. With some heartache, I left the ashes with the cemetery office in order for them to have everything ready for the next morning. After having them in my possession for six months, it felt odd that he wasn’t coming back to the house with me.

For lunch, the boys thought my grandson and I needed to see what all the hype was over Rapid Fire Pizza – so off we went. I love pizza – and I especially love pizza that I can create just for me! Think Subway – but pizza! I absolutely loved this restaurant and this is another place I believe all towns should have (well, on second thought . . . – see my response about Bill’s Donuts in above paragraph!)

That evening was our cousin get-together at Marion’s Pizza (more pizza!!!). We were missing a few but did have a very enjoyable time. Luckily, even though some left after eating, I was able to spend some time chatting with my three first cousins (children of my mom’s sister). This time, I was the one who asked the questions. I wanted to know more about my aunt – as their mom – instead of my mom’s sister. They shared some stories that made me see Aunt Genevieve in a whole new light! I didn’t realize that she pulled pranks and had a wicked sense of humor!

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My 3 first cousins and myself

marions-pizza-7-july-2016-family-gathering-judy-karen-wendy-ann-marie2 My first cousin and 2 first cousins once removed

July 8 – cousins all met at the house where I was staying and followed each other to Royal Oak Memorial Gardens in Brookville, Ohio. When we arrived, I noticed that the gentleman who was handling the arrangements had set up a nice table to hold the container of ashes. They had even placed a flag next to my father’s headstone since he was a veteran. It was a wonderful gesture, and I was very touched. My dad didn’t want a memorial service so I knew that our time was going to be brief. A few of us recounted a couple of stories about my dad, I read the obituary I had written, and then we drank a toast. My dad’s drink of choice was vodka and lemon-lime so some of us (adults) either got a small amount of vodka or both vodka and sprite and the three boys got the soda. We raised our glasses (dixie cups!) and said good-bye. I think my dad would have approved.

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When we left the cemetery, we headed back to the Dayton area to have lunch at Frisch’s (Big Boy). I can’t begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to this lunch because my favorite sandwich is the Swiss Miss – a hamburger pattie on a rye bun with swiss cheese and tartar sauce. Can not get this sandwich anyplace else except Frisch’s!

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My cousins, grandson, and myself at Frisch’s Big Boy

After lunch, my grandson and I took off to drive by important places of my childhood. I had a list of addresses and with the help of a loaned GPS, I knew there wouldn’t be any problem finding them. We stopped by my childhood home in Beavercreek, the townhome where my mother spent the last 32 years of her life, two houses my maternal grandparents had lived, and my three schools.

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My childhood home – left (1960s) and right (July 2016)

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One of my grandparents’ homes in Dayton (left – 1950s & right – July 2016)

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My mom’s former townhome

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My grandparents’ house in Kettering, Ohio.

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My elementary, junior high (now a middle school), and high school

When I pulled through the parking lot of my high school (which is now the “back” of the school even though it faces the road), I was pointing out windows of the classes I had been in and what the new parts of the school were when a man came to the car and asked if he could help with anything. As soon as I told him I was a graduate and showing my grandson where I went to school, he had me park so he could give us the nickel tour since so much of it has changed.

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The picture above is of the auditorium from the stage. When I was in high school, we couldn’t perform any theatrical productions there because we did not have such a marvelous stage or auditorium. We had to travel down the road a bit to the elementary school. I’m a tad bit jealous that not only is the stage wonderful but the dressing rooms are pretty nice as well (sure beats getting in costume and make-up in the girls restroom!) Before we left, I had to take a picture of my grandson with our school’s mascot – Bucky Beaver.

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From there we headed to our favorite frozen custard stand just down the road from my high school – Ritter’s Frozen Custard. When my mom was living, and we would visit her, this is where we all liked to come on warm summer evenings. We’d all order our frozen treats and sit on the stone benches at the tables. Good memories.

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Next – the rest of our adventures in Dayton before heading to the second leg of our journey.

(All photos, digital scans are property of Wendy Littrell; address for private use.)

Pendleton 16 July 2016 Falls Park Monarch Butterfly Garden flowers

Readers may notice that there has been a lull in recent blog posts. This is in part to several things but the most important was a road trip I took in the early part of July. The main purpose for my trip was to fulfill my dad’s wishes to have his ashes interred beside his second wife, Dottie, at Royal Oak Memorial Gardens in Brookville, Ohio – just outside of Dayton.

Once my time in the Dayton area was complete, my 15 year old grandson and I traveled further northeast to my dad’s hometown. I hadn’t visited Coshocton, Ohio since I was a child so it was a joy to be able to see it as an adult especially after extensive genealogical research on the paternal side of my family. After spending a week in Coshocton, I headed west toward home with a three day stop in Anderson, Indiana – my mom’s hometown as well as her dad’s.

Following our twelve day vacation, we began our journey home – stopping in Springfield, Illinois to visit President Lincoln’s home and his tomb.

It was a welcome break for me and even though he wasn’t too thrilled with spending seven hours at the library on one day and two hours another, my grandson enjoyed some perks.

There will be more blog posts to come with details of the what, who, where, why, and how! It was a trip filled with many blessings!

(Digital Photo: Monarch Butterfly Garden at Falls Park, Pendleton, Indiana; 16 July 2016; photographer: Wendy Littrell; copyright 2016. No unauthorized use of photo. Original digital photo in possession of Wendy Littrell – Address for private use.)

Oh boy! The last few days when I’ve had a chance, I’ve been working in Gedmatch and figuring out how to triangulate my DNA+Gedcom matches. After finding several articles on Google – notably from Roberta Estes of DNAeXplained (Triangulation for Autosomal DNA) and a few others, I figured out my own system.

I am attempting to figure out which chromosome each of the matches correspond as well as how many of my other matches on the same chromosome match each other. Then I go in to each gedcom to look for shared ancestors.

Here is my step by step guide – just in case this system might be something you would like to try.

  1. Upload your raw DNA from Ancestry, 23andMe, Family Tree, or any of the others, to Gedmatch.com. Make sure your raw data is in a .zip file. (Gedmatch is FREE!!)
  2. After doing that, upload your gedcom file preferably with BOTH maternal and paternal pedigree lines. (My personal note: There have been so many matches I’ve found where one or the other side is not part of the gedcom – kind of hard to figure out a match if you don’t put the whole thing up there!)
  3. On the Gedmatch home screen, you will want to click on Gedcom+DNA matches. gedmatch1_1
  4. On the next screen you will input your DNA Kit number (which you will receive upon uploading your raw DNA data).gedmatch2
  5. The results page will show a spreadsheet type of chart that will include the following information for your matches: the DNA kit number, the different types of shared & etc. cMs (centimorgans – DNA language!), the Gedcom ID, DNA name, Gedcom name, and an email address of your match. Do NOT start emailing your matches or use the emails in a batch file. Abuse of emails is not what Gedmatch users want, need, or expect. (I have “sanitized” my results example.)gedmatch3
  6. Now – open a new spreadsheet on your computer (I used Excel). I input the chromosome number from #1 all the way to #22 (the X-Chromosome – #23 – is a whole different ballgame so for this instruction, I’m not going to mention it).
  7. Go back to your Gedmatch results page and click on the first kit number (left hand side) of your first match. This brings up the autosomal comparison. What you are looking for is the chromosome with a lot of blue.gedmatch3_1
  8. Once you find that chromosome (or more), open your snipping tool and snip that entire line. Instead of saving that as a .jpg, just right click directly on that snipped image of the chromosome and “copy”. Switch back to your spreadsheet and “paste” it in the correct chromosome position. Now go back to the autosomal comparison and snip the information box above the chromosome you snipped (it should have the chromosome number, start location, end location, centimorgans, and SNPs). Do the same to copy that box and then paste it on the same line as the copy of the chromosome string. Do that however many times you need (if there are more than one matching chromosome). Before you finish, you will want to go to the top of the autosomal comparison and copy and paste the information for the DNA kit number and name of the person you match. Then paste that to the side of your chromosome string in your spreadsheet.gedmatch5
  9. Now the really tedious part is clicking on the Gedcom ID for the match you were just working on. gedmatch3_2A new tab (or window) will open with the Individual detail. At the top of that, click on pedigree. The default is 5 generations (shown at the top left). gedmatch6_1Unless you can automatically see who the shared ancestor could be, I suggest entering 10 in the box for the number of generations and click submit. (Personal note: I’ve been entering 15 generations). Once that very lengthy pedigree chart opens, carefully go through it to find your shared ancestors.gedmatch7 If you are lucky and find them, go back to your spreadsheet and enter the names of the shared ancestors under where you have pasted the DNA kit number and name. It also helps if you list if the ancestors are on your paternal or maternal side.gedmatch8_1
  10. Now the fun begins – do that with every single one of your matches. Pretty soon, you will see some chromosomes that appear to be shared between your matches. In order to see if they really do share DNA with each other (as well as you), go back to the Gedmatch Home screen (I usually have several tabs open so I don’t lose my Gedcom kit match screen). Under DNA raw data, click on “One-to-One compare”. On the next screen, you will enter the DNA kit number from one of the matches and another kit number to compare (you will have to refer to your spreadsheet for this information). Before you click “submit” – make sure you have clicked on “Yes” for “show graphic bar for each chromosome.” When the results appear, check if the two that matches you – also match each other. They may not. If they do, you will want to create some sort of key on your spreadsheet in order to see at a glance that they match. I do this by changing the color of the font over the name/kit number. Gedmatch9_chrom1Notice above that the first three rows of my Chromosome #1 are all close to the same cMs. Those three also match each other as well as matching me (I have colored the names/kit numbers blue). My biggest problem – not finding a shared ancestor in any of them! The graphic below shows four matches to me on Chromosome #2. gedmatch9_chrom2Even though the bottom two appear to be close to the same string and cMs – they do not match each other – nor do they match the top string – and I can’t find shared ancestors on any of them! Then the following graphic for Chromosome #10 shows three matches to me and all three match each other. I did find the shared ancestors of Richard Lyman and Sarah Osborne on all three! gedmatch9_chrom10
  11. How this can help you is if two of your matches do not match each other but are for the same cMs, one could be on the paternal part of that chromosome and the other the maternal part.

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist. I am not very literate when it comes to DNA and triangulation. I do not have the answers. I am still scratching my head about some of the matches – same string, different shared ancestors. I do not know who many of my 3rd-4th great-grandparents are and therefore am sure that it’s not that I can not find the matches, but I just don’t know who to be looking for! Just because you “find” the shared ancestor(s), does not mean their (or your) Gedcom is accurate. A wrong spouse’s name, wrong parents’ names, or wrong dates can throw you off as well.

What I have discovered: I found matches on people that up until now were only relatives because they “adopted” or “fostered” an ancestor so I’m left wondering if there really was a familial connection to begin with or I’m just missing something. I’m also finding many matches that are in parts of the country where I can’t place my ancestors. I have many more matches on the paternal side of my family than on my mom’s side but I think the reason is because not many people on the maternal side have A) Not taken a DNA test, B) Not uploaded their raw DNA data to Gedmatch or C) Have not uploaded a Gedcom even if uploading raw DNA data.

I hope this helps some of you who are curious about “what else you can do” with your DNA information. It’s been very eye-opening and interesting and fun for me!

 

Baby Mary

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By the time I was born, the only set of grandparents still living were my mom’s parents – Glen R and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. Forget about great-grandparents. My grandmother had four siblings still living: John and Clifford lived in Oregon, Nellie lived in Washington, and Clarence lived in Indiana. John Wilt died before I was old enough to meet him. As far as Clifford, I don’t remember meeting him but I may have as a small child. I knew Nellie from staying at her home in Washington when my parents and I toured the western states and because Aunt Nellie and her husband John Lilly visited Dayton many times. I also remember visiting Uncle Clarence in Indiana almost every year.

It wasn’t until I was almost a teen, that I even learned that my grandfather had an older brother who had died young as well as a younger foster sister, Eva. Apparently, everyone thought Eva had died as well (later I found out that Eva outlived my grandfather). But it never dawned on me until many years ago, even when I had seen her gravestone, that my grandfather had a baby sister named Mary who died before she celebrated her first birthday.

Several days ago, Ancestry published three new databases – Indiana marriage, birth and death records. I immediately began going through them for any new or correct information. Mary appeared on the 1910 census and the Indiana death index (no images) listed her date of death as July 1910. The search term of Mary Johnson 1910 did not bring her up. I tried various ways to find her until I gave up and just entered the month and year of death. Finally, her death certificate was located under Marry L Johnson (her gravestone reads: Mary A Johnson). She is buried at Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson.

Mary died at home – 432 W. 17th street – in Anderson, Indiana at the age of 8 months and 14 days on July 17, 1910. The cause of death was listed as brain tumor and contributory cause was cholera infantum. I had to look that up. Merriam-Webster online defines it as “an acute noncontagious intestinal disturbance of infants formerly common in congested areas of high humidity and temperature.” I am left wondering if the brain tumor killed her or if she had become so dehydrated that her condition deteriorated rapidly.

An interesting thing to note is that my mother’s sister, Genevieve, died from a benign brain tumor. My aunt’s tumor was not cancerous but it was inoperable and 48 years after her baby aunt breathed her last, so did my Aunt Genevieve.

I am also left to wonder if my mother was named after my grandfather’s baby sister. I never heard him speak about his sister or how he felt at her death. He had just turned 11 when Mary was born so he was old enough to remember her short life.

Years ago, I found a crate of large pictures. One of them was of a baby that my mom thought was baby Mary. I don’t know if it is but I have included it above. It seemed that for so many years, she wasn’t talked about. Perhaps my Grandad thought about her when he lost his own daughter, Lois Evelyn, at just six weeks old or when Aunt Genevieve was so ill. But documents pertaining to Mary’s short life have been found – she did live, she did breathe, and she was loved.

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When I run across amazing blog posts or articles, I want to share with my readers. Most of the time the articles I find may not be from just the week of my Follow Friday post, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go “back in time” to read them or perhaps find a new-to-you blog! So without further ado –

Broughton Images has two new posts from this past month (including one celebrating Memorial Day): Just Follow the Flags and Bonham Heritage Day Festival. The photographer truly captures the atmosphere and stirs emotions whether it’s photos of a Veterans Memorial surrounded by flags from each branch of military or Bonham’s courthouse on the square during the annual festival.

Becky Jamison has caught the Trello bug! She has started to use Trello to organize many items pertaining to her genealogy research. So please visit her Grace and Glory website and read what happened when she Brought Hidden Emails to Light.

And if you need something else to “spark” your creativity, visit Amy Johnson Crow’s site and read Creating Family History Videos Easily for Free using Adobe Spark. On top of that article, you’ll also want to read Amy’s suggestions for researching the new Indiana Vital records that Ancestry recently added. You can find that informative article here: Indiana Vital Records on Ancestry: Good & Bad. As I spent some time yesterday going through these records, I know of what Amy speaks!

The other day I had 28 New Ancestor Discoveries on Ancestry. Yesterday it dwindled to six. I knew why after I read Roberta Estes’ article on her DNAeXplained blog: Ancestry Refines New Ancestor Discoveries (NADs). Perhaps her explanation will help you in what has perplexed many researchers.

Do you find it difficult to organize everything you need in order to be more productive at research (whether it is for family history, work/school project, or to run a household)? Diane Haddad at the Genealogy Insider shares some tips with her article The Big Picture: Using Mind Mapping to Organize Research Ideas. See if it helps you!

These are just some of my favorite articles lately! What are you reading?

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Thanks to a Facebook post on the Indiana Genealogy page yesterday, I learned that three new databases were added to Ancestry.com – Indiana Birth Certificates (1907-1940), Indiana Marriage Certificates (1958-2005), and Indiana Death Certificates (1899-2011). At first, I figured it was just transcriptions of these documents (and we all know that there can be errors in transcribing documents!). Imagine how thrilled I was to find out that these three databases all included scanned images of the records!

After spending almost an hour going through some of the records pertaining to my family and ancestors, I realized that if I didn’t set a time limit for myself, I would be up all night! I found the birth certificates for my mom, aunt and uncle! I found death certificates for some of my extended Wilt relatives. And even though I had said that I had found the last piece of the Johnson/Kirkpatrick puzzle, I was wrong! On Ellen Ora Johnson Moffitt’s death certificate, her mother’s name was listed . . . (drum roll please) . . . Nancy J Kirkpatrick!!! Oh, happy, happy dance!!!

I’m sure I will find even more details that I’ve missed when I go through these documents and some are even sad. I decided to look for the death certificate for Albert Wilt. He was my maternal grandmother’s younger half-brother, son of Joseph Napolean Wilt and Anna Park. Albert’s gravestone bears the years 1917-1933. I did find his death certificate and the cause of death listed was horrible: head crushed by railway tram as he walked along the tracks. His death was ruled an accident. My great-grandfather Joe was the informant but he listed his birth date as August 1, 1914. So was Joe correct and the incorrect birth year was put on the head stone? Whatever the case, Albert was too young and his death was tragic.

So if you have family and ancestors from Indiana, please go check out these three new databases. Perhaps you’ll find some information that can help break down some brick walls.

(Image: Indiana Flag 1903 from Wikimedia Commons; public domain)

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On this Memorial Day, I remember those collateral relatives who paid the ultimate price in order to protect the freedom we have in this great nation of ours.

My second cousin once removed, Charles E Albert died in Italy on October 6, 1944 during WWII. Charley enlisted in the Army on February 4, 1943 at Columbus, Ohio. Three weeks after his death, his mother, Georgia Anna Amore Smith, received a telegram that was delivered by the Adjutant General, J A Uho. It read that Charley was killed in action. He was survived by his mother, stepfather William Smith, and ten siblings. He is buried in Greenfield, Ohio at Greenfield Cemetery.

My second cousin twice removed, Ward Lester Goul, died from wounds received in battle during WWI. He died on January 25, 1919 at the Evacuation Hospital and was buried at the American Cemetery in Nantes, France. Ward had been assigned to the 56th Coast Artillery after he was shipped overseas in March 1918.

Bill Amore and Wendy
Wendy and Jim (Bill) Amore 1969

My first cousin, James Amore, did not die during battle but during his service in Viet Nam, he was exposed to Agent Orange which caused him to die at a young age. Jim (or Bill as I called him) was the son of my uncle Paul Amore. He was born in October 1946 and died May 17, 1974 at the age of 27 years.

May we never forget those who served and died in order to keep our country free.