Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Update to “Wish me luck!”

You can read the background info HERE.

I still haven’t heard from the 110/111 match BUT I did hear from someone else.  What I failed to mention in the first post is that I also have a second 66/67 match.  The one marker difference is the exact same marker difference that I have for the 110/111 match (DYS442, they both have a value of 12 and I have a value of 13).

I heard back from the person that manages that DNA sample. Not only does she have that entire line paper trailed and sourced she has agreed to upgrade to 111 markers.  Oh happy day!

The three lineages are completely different which is great.  We know they are going to converge at some point.  Looking at the three different lines gives us a few clues on where that convergence might be (which state).  We are looking toward Virginia, early 1700s.  The person that manages the 67 marker test is an experienced genealogist so between the two of us we will figure this out.  In the meantime, I am anxiously awaiting the results of the 111 marker test.  I suspect that we too will be a 110/111 match and that the other two will be a 111/111 match.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, April 25, 2016

Follow-up to “Patience, Grasshopper”

Here is the original post, Patience, Grasshopper.

I received Ella’s Indiana death certificate today.  It is as I expected, this is not MY Ella.  I was pretty sure this would be the case but I can’t help being a tad disappointed.

This Ella was born 16 Jul 1874 in Clinton County, Indiana and was the daughter of Stephen Ford and unknown Rogers.  She lived in Clinton County her entire life.

My Ella was born in June 1874 in Marion County, Mississippi and was the daughter of Charles Franklin Ford and Martha Waller. 

What about all of the “trees” out there that have my Ella and this Ella confused?  A few years ago I would have told you that I planned to email every one of them with the correct info but after bad experiences with doing this sort of thing I am not going to bother.

Indiana State Department of Health, death certificate no. 27596 (1951), Ella Ford Goff. 


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Another interesting DNA dilemma

I have a total of 10 people that match on chromosome 17 with the same starting position.  The segment lengths are 9.84 to 113.89.  I have two known family groups represented.  My uncle and I are one known match.  The other group is a man, his mother and his known 2nd cousin.  The other people in the group have no known connection so far.  Everyone is a non X match. If everyone had been an X match it would have helped narrow down which line it could be. When all 10 are put in a Matrix everyone matches everyone else except one person matches everyone else but one.  This is an almost perfect Matrix.  Here is the graphic sans names.


This tells me that all 10 have the same common ancestor. Now here comes the problem. After looking at everyone’s trees (the ones that have trees) no connection is found.  This actually narrows it down a bit more because I only have a couple of lines that I don’t have back far enough that it should pick up the match.  The other people are in the same boat. They can’t find a match to each other.

So here is my brilliant idea.  I created a group on BYU’s Relative Finder for all of the matches.  A couple already have FamilySearch logins but they don’t have themselves linked into the Family Tree.  Once I get everyone inputted, we MIGHT find the match this way.  If we do we will still need to prove the relationships up our individual chains but it is a start.

The bonus for me is that if I figure out who the common ancestor is, I can assign this segment of chromosome 17 to this ancestor. If anyone else ends up matching me on this segment, and they pass the matrix test, I will immediately know the ancestor.  They have to pass the matrix test because everyone has TWO chromosome 17s.  All of the above match the chromosome 17 that came from my father, not my mother.  How do I know?  One of the matches is my PATERNAL uncle.  If a new person is added to FTDNA that matches me on this segment I will have to make sure that they are matching me on the paternal chromosome 17 and not my maternal one.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, April 18, 2016

So here’s my problem

You can read the background story here, Wish me luck!  which I posted on Saturday. I worked on this all weekend and I have run into a bit of a snafu.  My DNA match hasn’t emailed me back.  I asked for his sources for his direct line relationships.  I have been trying to find the sources for his direct line relationships myself both because of impatience and because I want to see the proof myself.  I made it up several rungs but now I am stuck.  I did a quick survey of the online trees just to see what people have for parents of this one person and I found three different sets of parents.  Of course no one had sources for any of the parents other than other unsourced trees.

I have got to be able to prove his direct line all the way up to his brick wall ancestor or his information isn’t helpful.  DNA is great but without a paper trail it isn’t going to do me any good.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Wish me luck!

One of my uncles was kind enough to donate some yDNA for me and I did a 67 marker yDNA test. I had a very close yDNA match. The match had tested at 111 markers so I upgraded my test. I now have the results.  It is a 110/111 marker match. You can't get much closer than that.

I have inputted the match's direct line tree and have started working on backing up his tree with sources. I need to know if his paper trail is valid or I could go off in the wrong direction. I have emailed him asking for his direct line tree that also includes the siblings.

His brick wall ancestor is 2 generations older than mine and in a state I suspected my ancestor's family originally came from based on known migration patterns.

My ancestor is at 7 generations for me and his is at 10 generations for him. FTDNA’s prediction is 95.60% at 8 generations and 99.59% at 12 generations.  We are right on target.

This will be a brick wall I can bust.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Shared Ancestor Hint I can use

Today I got a Shared Ancestor Hint that I can actually use. 


So what’s so special about this hint?  I have submitted a DAR application using Patriot Reuben Radford.  I have my line proven all the way up the chain.  The person I match has a line up to Reuben through a different child of William’s.  I don’t know if she has it proven on paper or not, all I know is that we are a DNA match.  If she has her lineage proven, a DNA match to her makes my case stronger.  It is a bit of a moot point since I have already turned in my paperwork but it still makes me feel good. Of course it is possible that we have a DNA match with a different ancestor that Ancestry didn’t pick up on or one of us doesn’t have that ancestor in our tree but I am just going to go with Reuben for now. I have sent my new cousin an email.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, April 11, 2016


Erich Priebke.  I am pretty sure that most you have never heard this name before.  I just added him to my One-Name Study (ONS).  He was the son of Gustav Wilhelm Ernst Priebke and Hedwig Selma Rosa Glänzer.  Glänzer is one of the name variations in my ONS and it means he is related to me (just not 100% sure how yet).

I got Erich’s name from my cousin Christina in Germany who works on the ONS with me. She also sent me Erich’s occupation – SS-Hauptstrurmführer.  Even if you aren’t German you probably understand SS.  Erich was a captain in the German SS (Sicherheitspolizei) during World War II.  He participated in the Fosse Ardeatine Massacre of 335 Italian citizens in 1944 and was later captured and held prisoner by the British. He manage to escape and he fled to Argentina where he lived a very comfortable life under the radar until 1994.  Sam Donaldson from ABC news tracked him down and when he was approached for an interview he apparently felt it was safe to speak out after so many years. He admitted to his participation in the massacre to Mr. Donaldson.  He felt he was not guilty of anything because he was simply following orders. He very wrong if he thought this explanation would be accepted.  Now that his whereabouts were known he was arrested and extradited to Italy.  He then went into an endless cycle of hearings, trials and appeals. He was sentenced several times with the sentence changing.  His final sentence was life imprisonment but was given house arrest because of his age.

Erich died on 11 October 2013 in Rome, Italy at the age of 100.  He wanted to be buried in Argentina next to his wife but Argentina refused.  Germany also refused to allow the body to be returned there.  The Vatican issued an order that his funeral could not be conducted in any Catholic church in Rome.  He is buried in the Cimitero della Colonia Penale de Isili in Isili, Italy. It is a abandoned prison cemetery.

I never knew this man existed until today. Now I want to know more. I am interested in his early life before the War. I want to know what made this man tick and why.

History is history, you can’t change it. There are going to be bad people in your family tree and you can’t just ignore them. I could reduce Erich down to a list of vital statistics and pretend that I don’t know about his past but that would be an error by omission.

For more information:

Erich Priebke Biography (
Erich Priebke: Nazi war criminal (BBC)
Erich Priebke, Nazi Who Carried Out Massacre of 335 Italians, Dies at 100 (NY Times)
Just following orders (The Economist)

There are many more. 

If you would like to see a picture of Erich in uniform during World War II and one of him in later life, you can go to Erich’s Find A Grave Memorial.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A broken marker

Here are two images of Daniel Boon’s broken marker:

Copyright © 2007 William Tatum, used with permission


Copyright © 2011 Vince Hatten, used with permission


My picture trumps theirs Smile


Photo circa 1925. The six living children of Daniel and his wife Sarah Ann Anderson.  They had 15 children altogether.

From left to right:

Margaret Elenda (Boon) Hartfield, John Moses Boon, Elisha Boon, Thomas A. Boon, Mary Catherine (Boon) Simmons, Reuben Boon.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A DNA question

P. Johnson emailed asking, “Why are my ethnicity percentages so different at Ancestry and FTDNA.”

There are actually a few reasons.

  • Each company has a different pool of DNA to work with
  • Each company has different algorithms to calculate the percentages
  • Each company breaks up the geographic regions a little differently

Another thing to watch out for is that all of the companies update your percentages as their DNA pool gets bigger and they run the algorithms again. The algorithms themselves are also updated. 23andMe tells you when they last ran your results through. I don’t see this information on the other sites but I could just be missing it. 

Here are the companies/website that will give you your ethnicity percentages:

The Geneographic Project
DNA Land


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My latest Excel spreadsheet

I wanted to know who all in my direct line still needed federal census records. In Legacy I created a search list of my dad’s direct line to include all spouses but not siblings. I had AKAs and married names turned off so that the list wasn’t artificially inflated. I only did my dad’s side because my mother’s side has no one in the United States. I then exported this list as a CSV file. I only included the RIN and name.  Originally I exported the birth and death dates too but it was a bit messy because of the date issue in Excel (I could have overcome this) but I also have a lot of date qualifiers (abt, bef, aft, bet) which mucks things up a bit. I had to look each person up anyway to see what censuses I already had so the dates were no big deal.

I set up the spreadsheet with a header and then froze it so I could scroll without losing my header row. I greyed out the years that the person was not alive and therefore would not appear in a federal census. I put an X if I already a census record for them for that year and an NF if I looked but they were not found for that year. My goal is to attempt to find a census record on every person in my direct line for every year that they were alive. Of course I won’t be able to find them all but I want to make sure that I have at least tried.  I can always go back and try it again later and I might have better luck.

Below is a screenshot from the spreadsheet.  I actually have more census records than what you see.  I have TWO files.  I have my working file and I have my old file still in Legacy 7.5.  I am still transferring things over as I double check the sources, standardization, formatting, etc. As I do, I will be able to fill in more X’s before I get started looking for the missing ones.



Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Friday, April 1, 2016

Get more out of newspapers


I am a bit of a storyteller. I like narratives. I don't like reducing a person to a laundry list of facts. I learned a little tip from John Colletta when I heard him speak at IGHR. He happens to be the master of genealogical storytelling. Even if you can't find any reference in the newspaper to your ancestor specifically why not look for some things that will help tell your ancestor's story. What was the weather like when the event occurred? What was the political climate? What was the social climate? What was going on in the local churches? Were there any natural disasters or epidemics that might have affected your ancestor? Was there an influx of people coming into the area from a migration or immigration? Getting this background information is essential to being able to tell your ancestor's story.

has TWELVE webinars on newspaper research and NINE of them are FREE.  You can see them all HERE.  These webinars will help you learn how to find what you are looking for in newspapers. 

By the way, the above newspaper page from The St. Tammany Farmer details the murder of Rougier Grantham, my second cousin, twice removed.

"Bonny Aldrich kills R. Grantham over disputed debt, five dollars," The St. Tammany Farmer, 15 January 1916, p. 1, col. 2-3; digital images, Library of Congress ( : accessed 28 October 2013). 


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis