The Field of DNA Just Lost a Founding Father


If you’ve had the pleasure to swipe or spit to collect your DNA for evaluation, you most likely anxiously awaited the results. Perhaps you were trying to discover your birth parents or you were hoping the findings would put to rest the family tale of someone having an affair and therefore, the rest of that line really wasn’t blood related.

More and more individuals, however, are also using the results to get a better picture of their possible medical issues in the future so they can make positive lifestyle changes now. I never stopped to think about the tireless unnamed individuals who have diligently persevered over the years for us to benefit from their work.

Sure, you’ve heard of Watson and Crick and perhaps unacknowledged, Rosalind Franklin. You might also think about the names of Nobel Prize winners in the field of genetics. There are so many others, though, who made significant contributions and one has just passed.

Dr. Arno Motulsky was a genetic pioneer who died this week at the age of 94. His story is amazing; as a German Jewish child trying to flee the impending Holocaust to his eventual landing in the United States, he pressed onward living a long and productive life.

As someone interested in both family history and the science of DNA, I found his obituary of interest. You can read it here.

Thank you, Dr. Motulsky, and rest in peace.

GenealogyAtHeart’s Top Ten Publication Posts of 2017


Last week I posted my 2017 Top Ten most read blog articles from my own site – GenealogyAtHeart. Today, I’m posting my Top Ten blog articles I wrote for publication by AncestorCloud/Trace now known as Genealogists.com and Family History Daily last year. Enjoy!

10. Using S.M.A.R.T.’s to Crystalize Your Genealogy Goals
9. Dealing with Genealogical Disappointment
8. Developing a Positive Seeker Helper Relationship
7. Motivating Others for Genealogical Results
6. Communicating for Results
5. Scaffolding Your Research
4. Using Backward Design in Genealogical Research
3. Dealing with Genealogical Disappointment
2. How Our Ancestors’ Love Affair With Liquor Can Provide Fascinating Clues to the Past
1. 4 Big Genealogy Mistakes That May Be Hurting Your Research (and How to Avoid Them)

Top 10 Genealogy At Heart Posts from 2017


Happy New Year! Out with the old and in with the new but before we do that, let’s take a look back at the most read Genealogy At Heart posts from last year in descending order and a tie in 4th place:

10 VivaVolunteers! A Unique Opportunity for You

9 More on Accessing Records

8 Saturday Serendipity

7 Access to Preserved Records is Being Threatened!

6 My Grandfather’s C-File Has Finally Arrived!

5 Improving Your Genealogy Skills Semester II

4 Perseverance Amidst Adversity – The Ancestry of Three George Harbaughs

4 Genealogy Resolutions

2 Privacy and the Genealogist Part 2

1 Privacy and the Genealogist Part 1

If you’re on the east coast of the U.S., get a cup of cocoa, stay warm and enjoy re-reading these blogs.

Next week, I’ll rank articles that I did for other publications in 2017.

Santa Genealogists – Beneficial Tips from the Jolly Old Elf


Genealogists need to take a tip from Santa Claus – we should be “making a list and checking it twice!” No, not to find out who’s naughty or nice, although that does make family history interesting and more entertaining to pass on to relatives. The list making and checking is critical, especially when you acquire information from someone else. Here’s what recently happened to me…
Through this blog, I made contact with a second cousin I had never met. He put me in contact with several other cousins and we all shared info on a brick wall ancestor to see if putting our heads together could resolve the dead end.
Three of us live far away from where the ancestor had resided; one of us lives within reasonable driving distance. That individual had gone to the courthouse and pulled the probate records years ago. As I reviewed the paperwork making a list of all that we had discovered, it struck me that our common ancestor would have been left an orphan. I decided to go on FamilySearch.org to see if records were available for the area as the driving distance cousin, with family commitments and the approaching holidays, couldn’t find the time to make another visit.
I must have been a good genealogist this year as oh, what a wonderful early present I found! The probate file was now online and contained the guardianship information. The file was 40 pages – the cousin had only 3 pages. I’m not sure if the courthouse employee only copied the last 3 pages or my cousin only had cash for those pages but the entire packet was a gem for me because I discovered my 3rd great grandfather in another line was the appraiser. His signature was all over the documents.
Lesson learned – ALWAYS go back to the source to see if the information is accurate and complete. By my making a list of what records we had found, I was able to identify other places to check. We haven’t climbed over that brick wall yet but we’re getting closer!
Have a wonderful holiday – I’ll be writing again after New Year’s Day.

MyHeritage SuperSearch Update


For a number of years, Ancestry.com has provided users with the ability to add their input regarding incorrect info on record indexes. Recently, MyHeritage has devised a similar feature that will allow for corrections of spellings or transcription errors.

Simply click “Suggest Alternatives” and add your info. You’ll need to type the first and last name of the individual to be corrected, use the drop down menu to select the reason and add your two cents in the comments. If you’re like me, your ancestor’s names were never recorded the same as some of them were doozy’s to spell – Leininger, Bollenbacher, and even short ones like Duer seem to have been problematic for those enumerators.

Here’s an additional tip – keep a list of all the many, varied and unusual surname spellings that you find as that could help you in the future when you’re stuck. I add them to an Excel spreadsheet with tabs for my preferred spelling of the surname and a column where I found the name spelled differently. Happy Hunting!

Genealogy TV Show That Can Benefit Your Family

I’ve been watching this season’s Our American Family show and thought the style of the presentation would be an awesome way for families to record their own history. With the holidays upon us, check out a few of the episodes, then video your family at the next gathering. I’ve blogged previously about using helpful media to use and interview questions that can help get grandma talking. Once you’ve got the recording, putting it together could be a wonderful present for your next year’s holiday season!

Ancestry.com DNA Kit Purchase Follow Up

Just received the following email from Ancestry.com regarding their Black Friday-Cyber Monday DNA Kit Sale:

There is NO COUPON CODE, as I blogged about on Sunday. Want to purchase? Click BUY NOW, look at the top of the page and reclick Buy Now.
Please note: I have NO business connection with the organization and get NO percentage of sale. This info is a follow up to my last blog about attempting to purchase the product a few days ago.
Genealogy is all about patience and this purchase definitely reinforces that!

Holiday DNA Deals? Read Before Purchasing

It’s that wonderful time of the year when the DNA companies promote their products with big savings knowing that the family get togethers will turn to great grandma’s emigration story and the question everyone wants answered – Where did we really come from?
I’ve received several emails this week notifying me of “special” offers so I decided to take advantage of the one below:

When I go to process the order I get this screen (with my personal info not showing):

The problem is that when I hit “submit order” the lock moves over the words but doesn’t process. I hit the button twice and then, fearing I ordered 4 kits instead of 2, called Ancestry.com at 1-800-Ancestry.
I spoke with Brittany who told me they had no record of the order. That was good in that I didn’t over order but since I wanted 2 kits, I still needed the order processed. I asked if they were having trouble with their website and she said no. Brittany tried and couldn’t get it to go through, either. She placed me on hold and sought out a supervisor.
I must say I was pleased that she returned to the phone after some wait time to tell me she was still checking. Nice customer service, Ancestry.com, major improvement over the years. Then it went downhill…
Brittany said that the system couldn’t calculate two discounts, meaning it could not take $10.00 off the second kit AND take off free shipping on Kit 1. I asked if this was because I was a returning customer and the offer was good for new customers only. She said no. I asked if there was an override. She said no and that the coupon code I was using had expired. I mentioned I had received the notice from several sources in the past few days and that the expiration date hadn’t occurred yet. I also told her exactly where I received the info but since I’m not trying to drag other organizations into this, I’m sure you’re understanding of why I’m not blogging my sources.
Brittany told me the amount would be $162.00 but couldn’t explain how that amount was determined. If I ordered two kits at $79.00 with free shipping the amount would be $158.00; with $10.00 shipping on both kits it would be $178.00. If it was free shipping on the first kit and half on the second it would be $163.00.
Maybe I should have just shut my mouth and taken the $162.00 offer but I don’t like paying for something when the price isn’t clear so I mentioned that there were competitors that were offering kits for less than the quoted amount. Now I know that the customer service person has no say in the price set and I’m sure she was rolling her eyes at this cheap customer but I figure if enough people speak out then maybe the powers to be will get the website working correctly to accept the offer. If the offer isn’t valid, then they need to just say that the other organizations made up the deal but I really don’t think that was the case since I got it from several sources.
We hung up without my placing an order.
I then went on a hunt to see if there was other valid coupon codes but didn’t find one. Next I tried
signing into my Ancestry.com account, clicking “Buy Now,” re-ordering and omitting the “expired” coupon code. Guess what? It shows this:

But it, too, doesn’t allow me to purchase.
I then went to Amazon.com where I purchased a kit in July during Prime Days. Since I’m a member, I get free shipping so I figure that would eliminate the need for the expired coupon code. Here’s what I get:

The promotion at Amazon is $79.00 for each kit. Better than the Ancestry.com offer but not as good as I wanted.
I’ll let you know next week what I decide to do – I’ve wasted way too much time on this today! My Turkey Day shopping is waiting for me. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Bringing A Family Heirloom Back to Life


In June, I blogged about some of my genealogy finds when we cleaned out our garage – 2 mahogany chairs in particular.
The initial estimates I got to refinish the chairs were $500.00 each and the price quoted for the upholstery was $500.00-$800.00 per chair, not including material of which two upholsterers estimated I would need 10 yards. So, it would have cost me over $2000.00 to have both chairs in usable condition.
Yes, they have been in the family since about 1880 but we thought that the quotes were way too much. I eventually found someone to refinish the chairs for $125.00 each but I had to do touch up and pull out the old tacks. Hubby had to glue the leg support as the man “forgot” to do it. It took him over 6 weeks to do his magic so instead of leaving them for him to do correctly, I told him I’d finish it myself. I’m so glad I did as the hurricanes hit the following week and they were safer with us then in his flood prone neighborhood.
I’m finally finished with upholstering and I think they came out wonderful, considering all I know about upholstery came from youtube videos and internet how-tos. I bought way too much material; I bought 8 but only used about 4 so it’ll be on Craig’s List this afternoon. I’d really like to know why both upholsterers who gave me estimates told me I needed 10 yards! When I recoop that excess, the cost to reupholster was about $50.00 per chair.
For $350.00, we’ve got 2 beautiful and comfortable antique chairs to enjoy the holidays. Best of all, hubby can finally cross this off his “To-Do” list. They’ve been on there for over 45 years – seriously!

Two Blogs With Helpful Research Hints


Happy Daily Savings Day! With the extra hour, I’ve got a big day with family planned so I’m going to make this blog quick. If you missed some recent blogs I’ve done for other genealogical organizations, please enjoy these posts:

4 Big Genealogy Mistakes That May Be Hurting Your Research (And How to Avoid Them) published by Family History Daily (Please note: my bio has an error in it – I am currently not “On the Clock” and I’ve asked that the statement be removed.)

Investigating Your Family Legends published by Genealogists.com

Enjoy!