Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday : The Old Tree House

The old treehouse
Ami High, Michelle, LeMaster, Jason LeMaster, Jim McDermitt, Travis LeMaster
Found this old picture of the first tree house/fort that we had at our house.  Standing alongside my neighbors/cousins and my brother and sister.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Contacted by the match of a match

Was contacted by April, who is helping work out the ancestry for Danny, the man who reached out to me but didn't know his paternal ancestry.  April's husband is also a DNA match for Danny.

In looking at his GEDMatch number, her husband didn't match me, my dad or my 2nd cousin, so this leads me to believe that we are both related to Danny on different lines.

Danny's connection to me is estimated to be at 4.4 generations to the most recent common ancestor at GEDMatch, we match at chromosome 6.

Hopefully, some of the other matches at chromosome 6 will overlap with Danny and provide some clues as to who the common ancestor might be.

I know that it is possible, as I have read about these cases being solved on various DNA discussion groups.  We just need more to test.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Charting the atDNA matches

I sent out a massive spreadsheet with charts of those who matched myself, my father and cousin Jeffrey hoping to spur further research and collaboration.  I tentatively called the spreadsheet "LeMaster atDNA", even though many of these matches will turn out to be cousins that share other uplines.  At the least, since the common ancestry of dad, Jeffrey and myself is Luman Cooper LeMasters and Barbara Isabel Wehrly we know that these matches are cousins somewhere in the upline.

My sheets had a page where all of the matches were listed, then a table showing how I had compared each match to each other and how many segments and centimorgans were shared.  Still another chart had the total amounts of shared DNA mapped out with the chromosome and the start and end point.  Each chromosome had its own separate sheet of data where I graphed out the overlapping segments.

At first glance, chromosomes 7 and 15 seem to have a lot of overlap amongst the group of people I've been able to compare.  I'm so thankful for sites like GEDMatch - i just wish more people would upload their results.

Only one email address from GEDMatch was a bounce, and I've already had a reply from someone who is helping, Danny, the gentleman who reached out to me earlier.  Danny's paternal ancestry is a unknown to him at this point, and that is where we match, so this will be an interesting journey.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reaching out to close matches

Reached out this weekend to all of my close matches at AncestryDNA and encouraged them to share or link their results to a family tree.  So many people have tested there and haven't bothered to even enter rudimentary information about their family tree.  A couple of my matches had a family tree, but didn't link their trees to their DNA results.

I encouraged each one of those matches to upload their results to GEDMatch so we could compare chromosomes.

In addition, I reached out to matches that I shared in common with my cousin Jeffrey - so I know those matches should either match me on the upline from the LeMaster/Wehrly line.

So far, the only response I've received one response.  Danny, a man who is predicted to be a 4th-6th cousin, who doesn't know his father.  He has uploaded to GEDMatch, so I will try to help see where we have a match.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Baby Steps : LeMaster and Wehrly DNA

Made contact with Jeffrey, an AncestryDNA match who was predicted to be a 3rd cousin to see if we could compare information and chart our common DNA.  Jeff and I are actually 2nd cousins once removed - our common ancestors were Luman Cooper LeMasters and Barbara Isabel Wehrly.

According to AncestryDNA, we shared 189 cM over 10 DNA segments.  Unfortunately, AncestryDNA doesn't give you a chromosome browser to show you exactly which chromosomes we match on.  It's knowing where we match that can help segregate which DNA comes from the LeMaster side.  

I was able to have Jeffrey to upload his AncestryDNA results to the 3rd party site GEDMatch.  Here are the results of the comparison of our DNA:

GEDMatch shows us matching on 8 segments and 192.4 cM.  The differences between AncestryDNA and GEDMatch are due to the cutoff minimum in GEDMatch to be counted as a matching segment.

As you can see, Jeffrey and I match on chromosomes 4,5,6,8,15,18 & 21.  We have a break in chromosome 6 with two long stretches of shared DNA.  

Next, I compared Jeffrey's results with that of my first cousin Debbie to see where they matched each other.

They only match on 4 segments for 62.5 cM.  The matching chromosomes are on 2,8,15 & 16.

I also compared Jeffrey to my dad, to see what DNA they share together.

Jeffrey and my dad share 11 matching segments and 344.5 cM of DNA, much more than he shares with Debbie or myself.  The chromosomes they match on are 3,4,5,6,7,8,10,15,18 & 21 - including two sections on chromosome 6, just like he shared with me.

The common ancestry of all of us testing above are the LeMaster and Wehrly lines, so the DNA we share has to come from these branches or upline from them.  Right now chromosome 6 seems to be behaving very interestingly.

I'm beginning to collect data on matches that I share from the three testing sites to chart out an mark which DNA is coming from which side of the family. This will come in handy for helping those distant matches that triangulate with us in finding the common ancestors.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

He Drowned in the Potomac

Sometimes an ancestor or relative seems to call out to you, wanting their story to be told.  Before yesterday, all I knew of William H. Cunningham was his year of birth (1905) and date and place of death (1929, Washington D.C.).  While working on updates on his father, John W., I was drawn to search old newspapers to see what I might find.  It turns out this led me on an interesting search.

John W. Cunningham (1868-1947) was my paternal first cousin 3 times removed, the son of William E. Cunningham and Rachel Lemasters.  Our common ancestors were the Rev. Luman Walker Lemasters and Nancy Young.  While updating his death certificate information from, I found out that at one time he was the Sheriff of Jay County, Indiana.  Curious to see what stories might mention his service as Sheriff was what led me to the unknown story of his son, William H. Cunningham.

The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana), May 13, 1929, page 1
The story that grabbed my attention was a news report that appeared in several newspapers across the state, telling the tale of William's death by drowning:

Young Man Drowned.
Portland. - This city city was shocked today to learn that William Cunningham, 24-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Cunningham here, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. was drowned in the Potomac River while canoeing Sunday.  According to reports from Washington the body has not yet been recovered.
What a sad fate.  I immediately began searching for more information, and found a little more detail in a similar news report:

Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana), May 13, 1929, page 14

Hoosier Student Drowns.
Potomac River Has Not Yielded Body of Portland Young Man.

Portland, Ind., May 13 (A.P.) - Mr. and Mrs. John W. Cunningham, of this city, have received a message telling of the death of their son, William Cunningham, age twenty-four, by drowning in the Potomac river at Washington.  The body has not been recovered.

The young man, a student at Georgetown University, was riding in a canoe with two other students when the craft was upset by a whirlpool.  He told his companions to swim to shore and he would bring the canoe in.  They swam to safety, but Cunningham was carried under the surface by another whirlpool.

The parents, one brother and one sister survive.  His father is a former sheriff of Jay county.

 Looking for a death record, I searched FamilySearch and located a record of his death, which gives the date as May 18, 1929.  This may be the date when his body was recovered.  I was unable to obtain an image of the record, only the following:

This record gives me William's middle name as Harvey.  He was named for his grandparents - William Cunningham being his paternal grandfather and Harvey Drake being his maternal grandfather.

Knowing that he was a student at Georgetown University, I went online to see what they had in the way of digital archives.  They have their old yearbooks and newspapers available for viewing.  In the May 16, 1929 edition of the student newspaper, the Hoya, I found the following article:

Hoya, Vol. 10, no. 28 (May 16, 1929), page 1

W.H. Cunningham loses Life in Potomac as Canoe Capsizes Below Chain Bridge
W.H. Cunningham, 24-year-old junior at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, was drowned in the Potomac River last Saturday afternoon when a canoe in which he was riding with two companions turned over in the swift water about half a mile below Chain Bridge.
Cunningham, with Willard Burkett and W.W. Stevens, his roommates and fellow students, started up the river for an outing early in the afternoon.  At Dempsey's boat house they were joined by a friend, George Davlin.
In two canoes they stared to paddle up the river.  About half a mile from the bridge they came to a swift stretch of water and Cunningham and Burkett tried to make their way through in their canoe.  Unable to force their way through the rapids, they paddled to an island where they were joined by Stevens and the three of them resumed the attempt.
They had progressed about 100 yards into the swift water when the canoe was caught broadside in the rapids, the water spinning the frail craft around and tipping it over.  Burkett, who had been kneeling in the bottom of the canoe, was nearly drowned when his leg was caught in a seat.  All three of the boys came to the surface and seized the canoe.
Unable to right it, they began drifting downstream.  Stevens swam to shore.  Burkett and Cunningham continued to drift with the canoe, calmly discussing the best means of reaching shore without damage to themselves or the craft.  Burkett, at Cunningham's suggestion, removed the pillows from the canoe and seized one of the paddles which was floating alongside.  With this burden he released his hold and started for the Virginia short [sic], calling to Cunningham to steer the canoe into shallow water if possible.  Cunningham answered that he thought he would be able to bring it ashore.
Burkett, on reaching the shore, looked around for his companion.  He saw the canoe bobbing in the current, but Cunningham had disappeared.
Burkett ran back up stream to the point where Davlin was in the other canoe.  They paddled down the river in a futile search for their friend.
The drowned youth, said to have been a strong swimmer, lived in Portland, Ind.  With Burkett and Stevens, he attended Western Reserve University before coming to Washington.  The three boys lived together here at 2410 Twentieth Street.
This article not only gave me the important details of how William died, but also gave me avenues of additional research - the fact that he had attended Western Reserve University as well.  I will need to research local newspapers in Jay County on my next trip to the library.

There is much more to research on this young man and his life, but at least now the story of his untimely death will be known.

William is buried in Green Park Cemetery in Portland, Jay County, Indiana.  A memorial page for him exists at the FindAGrave site.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Indiana Databases at Ancestry Make Subscription Worth Price

Whenever I hear of someone complaining about the high prize of subscription genealogy websites such as, I have to wonder about where their priorities lie.  Genealogy as a hobby or passion is no different than anything else one might do with your free time - you willingly pay for what you want to get out it in the way of enjoyment.  For me, I would never spend money playing golf or attending concerts, but if that is what you want to spend your money on, who am I to tell you you are wrong.

Recently, Ancestry added three databases relating to Indiana genealogy that has made the annual subscription price worth its weight in gold, so to speak.  Because so much of my ancestry has Indiana ties, I was ecstatic when I found out that birth, death and marriage records from the state level were being imaged and would be available in 2016 at Ancestry.

The publication of these databases has kept me busy updating and adding to the information in my database for my direct and collateral lines with Indiana ties.  Right now, I working through the death certificates database and finding information regarding spouses, causes of death and residences that I didn't already have.  

Having all of these records in one place makes research cheaper because the costs of these long form certificates from the state are $8.00 each.  If I went to each county, I could be paying even more for a certificate. Just recently, I paid $10 per certificate for county level death records. It only takes a few of these online images for me to reach the break-even point on the cost of a certificate. In addition, having the long form from the state will give you information not found at the county level, such as who the informant was for the information. 

Knowing who the informant was for the information provided can be extremely valuable in evaluating the accuracy of the information given.  On the death certificates, information given regarding birth date and names of parents are suspect as clues only - as oftentimes the informant was a son or grandchild who didn't know the maiden names or exact dates of birth.  I've recorded the information as I've found it - using as a clue with a bit of skepticism.  Informants were under a lot of stress and grief, and it is easy to make errors.  I've seen grandmother's maiden names given instead of the deceased's mother's maiden name and I've also seen the birth date of the informant instead of the deceased.  In those cases, I'm assuming that the informant simply was too distraught to understand the question they were being asked.

The long form death certificates also give the manner of disposal and the funeral home and cemetery where they were buried, providing additional avenues of research.  Far-flung relatives could die in one part of the state and be buried "back home" or next to a first spouse.  

The most frustrating piece of information is when you are looking for the names of the parents and the informant states "don't know".  Sad to think that they didn't know the names of their grandparents, but with extended families and lots of years between them it is easy to see how a granddaughter or grandson whose elderly grandparent died at their home wouldn't know where they were born or who their parents were when answering the questions of the physician.

The saddest thing I'm finding while researching these Indiana death records are the number of young children dying from measles and pneumonia.  We are blessed these days to have antibiotics and access to healthcare.  Tragedies do still occur, but they are more rare and shocking today than they were 75 to 100 years ago when it was common for families to lose a child or two.

I look forward to being able to knock down some brick walls and expand my knowledge of extended families through the information gleaned in these databases.  I'm only part way through my database on the death certificate database, I can only imagine how many more discoveries I'll make when I begin with the birth and marriage records from Indiana.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Bonnie Lambertson & William Wright, 1941

Bonnie Lambertson & William Wright, 1941
Photo of my maternal grandparents, Bonnie Lambertson and William Wright, taken in 1941 before they were married.

Monday, August 01, 2016

DNA: More Testing in a Different Pond

Activated three AncestryDNA kits this weekend - one for my wife and one for each of my parents.  This will be the second test for them, as they have already tested at 23andMe. Hoping that by fishing for relatives in another pond, we will discover more clues and relatives.

I was able to show mom & dad this weekend the different number of matches that I had received through AncestryDNA, including many on my paternal side.  I've already reached out to some 2nd and 3rd cousins and have encouraged them to upload their results to GEDMatch so we can compare on a chromosome browser.

I've not done much recently with my DNA results, but hope to get back into it now that my new job situation has settled down a bit.