DNA Plan


Had a wonderful time in Raleigh last week at the National Genealogical Society Conference! I focused on DNA workshops as that is an area where I would like to gain more knowledge and practical experience.

My 3 favorite sessions on this topic were by Debbie Parker Wayne, Blaine Bettinger and Judy Russell. Now that I have a rudimentary understanding, I plan on working through the book, Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Bettinger and Wayne this summer.

I also learned that the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG) had been reactivated as a free peer reviewed online resource. Check it out!

Two of the major DNA players, MyHeritage and Ancestry.com, offered conference specials but I decided to wait until Black Friday to make purchases. My plan is to purchase kits from either or several organizations but more likely from Ancestry first since it has the larger database. Then, I’ll download the results and upload to Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch.

Hubby and I tested years ago through Ancestry – he did X and Y and I did X but that version is no longer supported. I’d like to do add Autosomal this time around and include other family members. Besides the benefit of identifying new family members and confirming ones we are aware of, I think it would be fascinating to see if any mutations occurred between our kids and us and between my husband and his sister.

For Mother’s Day, my family got me an e-Book, Mansions of the Dead, by Sarah Stewart Taylor. It’s a genealogical murder mystery that I find interesting as it takes place in Boston, a city I’ve happily researched in, and revolves around mourning jewelry, which I’ve been fascinated with since working with a Client several years ago that inherited a mystery piece from a paternal grandmother. The book was written when DNA analysis was relatively new and I question some of the info but it is a fun read and I can’t wait to confirm my hypothesis of who done it. Happy Hunting!

IMPORTANT-Ancestry.com Term Changes

Nothing like having a limited time to make an important decision during the Dog Days of Summer.  Thanks a lot, Ancestry.com!

You may or may not have received an email message from Ancestry.com earlier this week noting that they have updated their terms of conditions. You may have noticed the message under the ribbon (shown above) on Ancestry.com this week.  

Interestingly, Ancestry.com never mentioned what the change(s) was/were in the email.  I thought that odd and had decided I would check it out this weekend.  Usually noncommunication is a tipoff that the change is important.  Organizations know that most folks don’t take the time to read the fine print so sending an email with limited information makes the change more likely to pass quietly.

Before I had a chance to review the document I began receiving emails from family members that bordered on hysteria about the changes.  

I would not do the situation justice in explaining the term changes so I’m referring you to blog articles found here and here.  It is vital that you read these ASAP as there is only a small window of time for you to make a decision and act.

My decision was to remove all photos/documents I had uploaded to Ancestry.com of LIVING people.  My reason is that, although the photo was given to me by family members, I do not have explicit permission to give Ancestry.com permanent permission to own the picture.  

I am not concerned over photos of the DECEASED as they don’t have rights anyway.  I consider them part of history.  I don’t like it that Ancestry.com “owns” the photos for perpetuity but I’d rather the photos be available somewhere rather than lost forever.  

Like me, you’ve probably uploaded photos to Ancestry.com and have had them saved by others without giving you credit.  I can always identify mine as I have a unique way I save them.  Although I would prefer if someone asked permission first, I understand that by my uploading to anywhere on the internet the possibility that someone will use the photo, claim it as their own, etc, exists.  I accepted that risk. The Ancestry.com change will make Ancestry.com the owner forever.  

Forever is a long time!  Does this mean that Ancestry.com may someday take me to court for using a photo I have uploaded, even though I have the original in my possession?  I doubt it.  Personally, I don’t even think Ancestry.com will last “forever.”  Who knows what the world will look like next year, let alone in 5021.  

The audacity of the term change did make me consider deleting my Ancestry.com tree.  I calmed down and emailed my concerned family members what my decision was regarding photos/documents.  

I thought that would have been the end of it but it turned out it was the tip of the melting iceberg.  I began receiving responses that they wanted various information they had shared with me over the past 20 plus years removed.  I always cite my sources and that was what the bone of contention was.  The requests were for removal of their name/email address.  Since it’s typical to cite an email exchange with the sender’s name [email address} to receiver’s name [email address] this request totally threw me.  I did agree to alter the citation to remove the individual who requested the information be stricken.

I then got a request to remove correspondence from someone who was deceased by a two down the line family member.  The deceased was well aware that I had posted the information as she had requested my help in finding documents.  She once had permission to make changes to my tree.  Her email address is no longer active.  

I could have pointed all this out to the requestor but I decided to just take the high road and remove the information.  

Which gets me back to a blog article I wrote in June about saving your tree.  Here’s another reason to keep a tree somewhere completely updated that you and you alone have access.  My article was about synching Ancestry.com to RootsMagic which resided on my computer and is saved in a Cloud as a backup.  I did remove everything from Ancestry.com that was requested of me which took several hours.  I DID NOT remove it from my RootsMagic tree that is still synched with Ancestry.  

If I open RootsMagic and click the Ancestry leaf motif on the ribbon, any changes made on Ancestry.com will appear as an option to update my RootsMagic tree.  I don’t want that to change RootsMagic as I want the citations and the pictures of the living all in one place.  

My “Main Tree” on Ancestry.com is no longer that.  I did consider renaming it to Sort Of Main Tree but decided I don’t need to waste more time because of Ancestry.com’s decision.  

Please take some time to review the blog articles and the new policy.  Consult with your family on the way to go forward.  Do this soon before the policy takes effect.

What’s Up with Ancestry.com?

My clip – look at the 3rd image from the left side to see the red dot

Are you noticing some subtle changes on your Ancestry.com home page? I’m referring to the red dots on the right side of header above the leaf and sometimes the envelope.

What’s up with that? Clicking on the leaf I see that I have some Hints. Scrolling down the drop down Hint menu and clicking on “See all recent hints in” I still have the red dot. I also have a counter that is still not working:

All Hints= 1 & Photos=1 but I’m on the photo page and there are no hints!


Sometimes the red dot is showing above the envelope but it seems to clear away when I get a legitimate message from another member. I had a “1” showing for three weeks, even though I had read the message. I discovered that you must click in the “respond” box, even if you aren’t really responding, to make the counter reduce. That doesn’t work for Hints, however.

The dot seemed to appear about the same time that Ancestry changed the viewing of Hints but I’m not sure they are related. Seeing the information on the right screen side will take getting used to. I’m not complaining about it, just don’t see the need for that change when there are others that could be addressed.

I realize I am perseverating on a dot which is a picayune detail but as it’s time for me to renew, I am looking at the program with the price of an annual subscription in the back of my mind. How they can’t get it right after all these years is beyond me.

I blogged about the Newspaper.com free access a few weeks ago. I have Ancestry All Access Membership, however, over the last year, I’ve often clicked on Newspapers.com and received the message that the image isn’t accessible because I don’t have their premium subscription.

Here’s a little math since I love saving money! The Ancestry.com All Access membership for a year is $389.00 which includes Ancestry, Basic Newspapers.com and Fold3. Newspapers.com Access Everything membership is $74.90/6 months or $149.80/year. Their Basic membership is $44.95/6 months ($89.90/year).

If I select Ancesty.com World Explore membership for $149.00/6 months ($298.00/year) and purchase Newspapers.com separately ($149.80) and Fold3.com separately ($79.95/year) the total cost would be $527.75 annually. So, yes, I am saving money by going through Ancestry.com in order to access Newspapers.com and Fold3, however, I’m not getting full access to Newspapers.com which I sometimes need.

My local library has the full Newspaper.com subscription but it is only available at the library so that hasn’t been helpful. Here’s my work around – as I work on my personal genealogy, I’m making a list of any item I can’t readily access and then, will either check it out at the library someday or wait until the site has another free weekend. In a pinch, I’d use the Ask a Librarian option for a look up. For my research areas, Newspapers.com does not have the info that would be worth it for me to buy the Everything access. Your needs, however, might differ.

DNA Ethnicity Surprises

Ancestry.com has again updated their DNA Results Summary.  Sure, it’s only as accurate as the number of people who have tested.  What my latest results tell me is that Ancestry has had a whole lot more Swedish, German and Slavs testing and not many Balkans.

I know this because the updated results show I am 42% Eastern European and Russian and 41% Germanic Europe.  

In Ancestry’s last update, I was considered French; today I am of German ancestry. 

My paternal line would not have thought much of that finding; with a name like Leininger they would have accepted the Germanic Europe as fact.  The truth is more complex – the ancestors that were forgotten most likely would have been livid with the designation as they considered themselves French. My two times great grandmother was christened as Marie Marguerite not the Germanic Maria Margarette.  Her spouse was christened Jean Leininger and not Johan.  They resided in the Palatinate, the region that flipped several time between what is now Germany and France. They wisely spoke both French and German. Funny that the land has stopped switching but the ethnicity indicators haven’t.  Ancestry would be smart to have a Palatine region noted instead of moving ethnicity results every update.

Interestingly, the results do include 5% of an ethnicity estimate as French and the region is the Riviera, where my Lamphere’s (Landfairs) did reside in the 1600’s prior to fleeing France for London and then Ireland and then Virginia.  It appears they intermarried with relatives and others who fled with them and that is somewhat supported in that I now have no Irish identified.  Well, that’s not quite true, either…

My Irish is encompassed under my Scottish designation.  

I also find it interesting that I have Welsh separated from England (which encompasses Northwestern Europe now).  I am most definitely Welsh with my people moving to Cheshire for a time.  That is shown in the map, along with the northwest section of France.  That is also correct as I have some William the Conqueror folks originating in that French region.  

My maternal line, though, would have my grandmother in requesting her money back.

Family stories shared by my grandmother say her side moved to the what is now the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia around the time of Christ because of overpopulation on the island to the south where they once resided.  That would most likely have been Kos Island, part of Greece today.  The now defunct National Geographic project did route my ancestry on that trail.  Grandma said my grandfather’s people had already been in the Zagreb region when her people arrived and they had been Gypsies. National Geographic’s results showed that, too.  Using records, I can show that my maternal line was in the Zagreb region as far back as the 1600’s.  Based on a title the family was awarded, I can show some were in the region as early as the 1100’s.  For 900 years, they resided in a small area in what is now known as Croatia.  According to Ancestry, I’m 3% Balkan.  

Explaining to my grandmother how Ancestry obtains their results would have been maddening.  I’m sure some of you are going to have to try with an older relative.  I send you good thoughts in doing that!

I am quite impressed, though, with Ancestry and their Swedish results.  Look above as I have shown how Southern Sweden is shown by region.  I have worked very hard to get most of my husband’s Swedish lines identified and they are from the area Ancestry identified.  I’m looking forward to someday seeing a trend like this for my other ethnicities.

Ancestry has also released a section called StoryScout.  It’s housed under DNA and includes information that you may have provided in a tree.  I didn’t spend much time on this but I did take a look and it reminded me of something that is important to do and I honestly fail at it.

The section is based on census and military records from the 20th century.  Sure, I’ve saved those records to my ancestors 20 plus years ago.  I know where they lived, who they lived with, blah blah blah.  What gave me pause, however, was that it correctly showed my maternal grandfather and noted that his income was nearly twice that of an average man at the time.  He made $1400.00 per year when the average was in the mid $700.00’s.  Wow.  This explained to me why my immigrant family could afford a car in the 1920’s, a phone in the 1930’s, travel to California in the 1940’s and to Europe in the ’60’s.  Now I understand why grandma, when babysitting me, would drag me to the nice stores and dress shops and had her hair done each week.  Duh!  They never flaunted their wealth and dutifully shipped supplies several times a year back to the old country.  Thanks, Ancestry, for taking one small data point in the census and giving me an insight I hadn’t he thought about.  Try it, it might work for you, too.

Time Sensitive – Saving Your Ancestry.com Messages

With only 3 days left before Ancestry.com pulls the plug on your access to old messages sent to you in their system, you’ll need to follow the instructions below soon or your old correspondence will be lost.

It’s quick and easy but times a wastin’!

First, after logging in, click on the envelope icon on the right side ribbon next to your sign on.

Next, you’ll see swirling circles while the page loads.  On the bottom left the following message will be displayed:

Click the green button “Download Folders”
It doesn’t take long.  Underneath the button your messages will be downloaded to your computer as a zip file:

Clicking the zip file will display any folders you may have created to save correspondence.  Mine looks like this:

It is saved to your computer’s download file.  Go to the Download Folder on your computer, find the file and drag it to where you want to save it.  For the purpose of this blog, I just moved it to my desktop but will be placing it in a Cloud.  

To view a message, simply click on it.  In the Baines folder, the message will be saved to look as follows:

Yes, just like the comedian “Mr. Bean,” I have Beans in my family!  

This simple task will take you less than 5 minutes.  Why would you not want to save information from far flung family members?  It’s also a good way to go back through old correspondence as a missed clue may be unveiled.  Many of my messages contain email addresses and if I haven’t written to the individual in awhile, I might not be able to locate the address quickly if I need to in the future.  Since you just never know where genealogy is going to take you, I’d rather be safe then sorry by saving the data today.

New(er) Genealogy Resources For Your Toolbox

I’ve been consumed with my Hollingsheads for the last two months so I’ve not blogged about a few awesome resources I’ve come across that may benefit you.  Some are free, some are not.  Here they are:

  • MyHeritage Photo Enhancer is a wonderful tool not just to fix blurry photos but also get a better view of fuzzy documents.  I tried this out in June when I was having difficulty transcribing handwriting from a Quaker document.  I also tried it on an extremely blurry group photo I had of my husband’s Harbaughs but the original photo was too small so it didn’t work well.  You can read more about this here.
  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Society began Beta testing in March their new online collections.  I was not a participant due to other commitments though I did use it briefly in June and July when I was in need of New York records.  Here’s more info about the update.
  • Want to attend a training/conference/Zoom/GoToMeeting, etc. session but know you’re not available at the day/time it’s being presented?  No worries – most organizations will record and make the session available for viewing later.  Go ahead and sign up anyway.  You’ll probably get an email with a link to view later.  I had to miss an APG Virtual Chapter meeting in June and an American Ancestors class in July but was able to watch what I missed at my convenience later.  So, go ahead and sign up for the event even if you can’t attend!
  • Academia.edu is a new tool in my toolbox and I honestly couldn’t have analyzed my Hollingsheads in Barbados as I did without it! There is a membership fee, ballpark about $50 annually, that I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth in the last two months.  The site allows you access to unlimited journal articles and papers by educators on a wide variety of topics.  I selected history and the Caribbean in particular to learn more about the time period I was researching (1650-1750).  That allowed me access to archaeological studies recently done to gain a better perspective of what life was like then, historical works revisited (so I could easily find primary sources), and opportunity to contact social scientists with questions directly.  The site is not just for history enthusiasts but that’s the only part I’ve used.  Membership also provides you your own website, which I have not set up since I already have my own, but it’s a nice feature and looks like it’s quick and easy to use if you’re new to webdesign.  If you’ve used JStor, this is similar but I’ve found that it contains more info if you’re focusing on a sliver of time and place.  
  • Don’t forget YouTube and your local Genealogy Society!  I recently watched a wonderful video about River Pirates.  I had no idea there was such a thing in the Midwest, nor was I aware of some of the terror that reigned in small communities due to deranged families. It also never occurred to me that there was poor workmanship back in those days that resulted in lives and supplies being lost.  I heard about the topic from my local genealogy society; one of the member’s brother was the speaker and I’m so glad I viewed it.  Hubby and I went to school in Indiana and that topic was never addressed in the curriculum!
  • Last but not least, and probably more important than everything mentioned – if you haven’t noticed Ancestry.com has updated their messaging system.  Gone are the folders you may have previously used to save correspondence with other members.  You can download it so you don’t lose anything.  I strongly urge you to do so TODAY as it will be gone this month.  I don’t know what they did yesterday but I had 11 messages.  I had recently reached out to several folks who had some Hollingsheads in their trees but it wasn’t 11.  In reviewing the messages, I discovered most were not new (9) and the two that were were old – one was from November 2019 and the other from June 24, 2020.  Guess they got lost in cyberspace but it did make me look bad as I try to respond within 48 hours!  Check out this feature to see if the update they did before dawn’s early light this past week affected your messages.

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for the Genealogist

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!  Tomorrow is the big day and if you are short of time or your favorite store is short on everything then here’s two ideas that might help:

1.  Genealogical.com has a 3 month special offering all of their 750 books for purchase to be viewed online.  It’s a nice idea while libraries were closed and it allows you to see if it is a book you’d like to purchase in the future. I know many in person sites will be opening soon but if you’re like me – have read everything you have at home AND are not wild about the idea of going out yet, this might be the ideal gift.

I’ve been using it for the past 2 weeks and I have found some interesting info as I’ve been researching Barbados which is not a well represented topic in my local libraries.  Have I found anything earth shattering? Not yet but I’ve obtained some clues to go forward with. 

There are some glitches with the site so I want to share that info to avoid frustration.  First, the log in is quirky.  I’ve tried Chrome, Firefox and good ole Internet Explorer thinking that might be the issue but it isn’t.  It never can recognize my password unless I sign in through my Google account.  I’m telling you this because I’ve been locked out and when you’re paying for something for a limited time that’s frustrating.

I know I’m not alone as someone else had commented that once you’re in, you often get sent to a page to purchase books.  Here’s how to get around that – Click Home and Click on Book Bonanza at the top.  You’ll be in the right area to read at that point.

Next issue is it always takes you back to page 1 of the books listed.  What would have been nice would have been a long page listing all the book titles/authors (I don’t care what the cover looks like!) with a link directly to the book.  After a few days of use I decided I would approach this as I do when I’m just surfing a shelf in a brick and mortar library – I looked at all the offerings on the site page by page and wrote down the titles of interest.  Now, when I’m back on page 1 (you get logged off if you step away for a bit so when you log back on you automatically return to page 1) I just type the title I’m interested in the search button.

Here’s another hint – the list of books I created I checked WorldCat and Ancestry and 18 were there so I will be using those sites for those books.  That way, I don’t have to feel pressure to get through all the other ones that I can’t access anywhere else.

You can’t download the books – just read them – so remember where you left off.  It’s not like Kindle so you have to make a number of clicks to go back where you were.  The other issue is that the page numbers don’t appear so using the Index is difficult.  For example, in Barbados Records in Marriages 1643-1800 Vol. 1, I checked out the index for my Alexanders and derivations of Hollingshead and I find a few I didn’t know existed.  There’s no page number or book section listed so the only way to find them is to scan every page in the book (which is a list of marriage records, duh, so it’s all names) arranged in chronological order by parish to find them.  That is time intensive and yes, I have 3 months, but there are other books I also want to check out.  I used a back door to get more info on the possible relatives listed – looked them up on genealogy sites online to get a better understanding of relationships, years they were in that country (my peeps were gone by 1720 so if the others were there in 1800 I don’t need to check further), and where they originated from in England. 

Going back from a page to another part of the book is also a pain.  You can use the back arrow but if, for example, you’re looking at H’s in the index, you’ve clicked numerous times to get through the A’s-G’s so it’s a lengthy process to return.  It also loads pages slowly, maybe that’s just on my end, but it makes me crazy so now I just click the top arrow to go back to good ole page 1 of all the offerings, retype in the name of the book and then use the index to go where I want. 

So now you’re thinking – why in the world, Lori, would you recommend this as a Mother’s Day gift?!  Well, there’s not a lot out there to purchase and your dear mom isn’t gonna get the ‘rona using this.  Just show her this blog and she can hit the ground running.  I’m not making any money off this – just trying to be helpful.

2.  Next option is to sign up for a National Genealogical Society conference package.  This is what my family got me for my birthday and I’m really excited.  I’ve attended past in-person conferences and loved them!  I was unable to go out to Salt Lake this year due to my other job’s schedule so this gift is really making me happy.  On May 20th, the “live” online offerings are available from 11 AM to 7 PM.  In July, based on the package purchased, you can view up to 85 other lectures that would have been available if the conference was held in person and those are available through May 2021!  That’s more genealogical courses then you could have ever attended in person so I think this is an awesome opportunity.  Sure – you don’t get the camaraderie of being around other genealogists, the immediate answer to your question or the excitement of travel but in these times, I’m good with what is being offered. 

An Overlooked Resource to Determine Parentage

Here’s an often overlooked resource to help identify parentage – school records.  I’m not talking about yearbooks on Ancestry.com.  I mean the enrollment and attendance records that schools had to maintain to receive state and federal funding.  

To acquire those records, which are not available online, visit the school district’s website.  If there is a search bar, simply type in “records” or “school records.”  Follow the link which usually is for recent graduates of the school district needing to get a transcript for further education or work.  Obviously, you are searching for old records so find the phone number and make a call to see what will be required for you to get the documents.

In my area, a death certificate by a relative is needed but an attorney’s representative for the estate handing the deceased’s probate is also acceptable to receive the records.

Most districts have microfilmed their older records so you will not have your request fulfilled immediately.  There’s no telling what you’ll receive, either, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to check it out. I live in a state that has lots of record loss due to mold, flood damage, fires and insects.  Even with all the losses, there is usually some records that were able to be salvaged and scanned.

Recently, I assisted a client in obtaining school records from the 1950’s-1960’s in the hope of identifying parentage. The turnover time was a little over a week. Prior to the 1970’s, you’re not going to receive a birth certificate as most schools did not have a photo copier available to make a copy of that document at the time of enrollment.  The best you’re going to get is a check mark on a line that noted a birth certificate had been presented.  The name of the enrolling parent/guardian is then recorded on the document, along with the address where the student was residing.  You may even get lucky and have a telephone number recorded.

Once you have the parent/guardian name it’s time for you to check city directory records.  In my location, phone numbers were added in the mid-1950’s and I was able to match the telephone number on the school records to two different names not recorded in those records.  Was there an error in the school records in recording the phone number?  No, the information proved that the deceased had been involved with a social service agency and explained why the recorded schools’ names varied when the home address didn’t.  The student must have been temporarily living in either a foster home or with a relative but the parent still had the right to obtain school records so the enrollment address did not change.  The enrollment and withdrawal dates listed for the various schools attended provides evidence that the family was experiencing difficulty and gives more places, such as court records, to look for a better understanding of what was occurring.

In my situation, only one parent’s name was recorded in school records.  That individual was never found in the city directory but the name and telephone of the individual who purportedly lived at the address in school records was a clue to find the other parent’s name.  

The school records also contain a birth date for the student so a check of newspaper birth announcements for that date could lead to a further confirmation of parentage – or not.  In my case, there was no announcement so it was likely the student’s parents were not married at the time of birth as it was the local policy to not record in the paper the names of children of single mothers.  

School records will not provide every answer you seek but will point you in the direction of locating other records and help you gain insight into the life of the student and the parent/guardian.  

So, what do you do if the district says there are no records?  Don’t give up!  Next check Worldcat online to see if those records were published in a book and held at an archive somewhere.  On a trip to Boston a few years ago I spent a couple of hours at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. I decided to browse through the Indiana section.  I happily discovered a book that was a transcription of Lake County, Indiana school enrollments for the early 1900’s.  The book contained my husband’s grandmother’s name and who enrolled her in first grade – one of her older stepbrothers. That made sense, Elsie’s mother was a recent immigrant from Sweden with little knowledge of the school system.  The stepbrother, a graduate of that school district who was fluent in English was helping his stepmother with the enrollment while his father was at work.  I had tried to get Elsie’s school records from the county previously and was told they had been destroyed.  That was correct information; who knew that a transcription had been made of those records prior to their demise?  I later checked with the library in Lake County that has the largest genealogical section and they didn’t have a copy of the book that was sitting in Boston.  How strange that a record was located in a place the ancestor never visited.  Of course, original records are preferred but in this case, a transcription was better than nothing and did shed light on the family dynamics at the time of Elsie’s school enrollment.  Happy Hunting!

Reformed Dutch Church Records


Photo courtesy of https://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org

A few weeks ago, I wrote about free genealogy newsletters I receive.  I failed to mention I also read other genealogy blogs.  Recently I read a wonderful article about New York Reformed Dutch church records.

Both my husband and I have ancestors who resided in New Amsterdam.  Although I haven’t extensively researched those individuals, the blog article gave me new insights.  Here’s what really stands out to add to my knowledge base:

  • Before 1664, the Reformed Dutch was the ONLY denomination permitted so if  your ancestor was not of that religious persuasion and wanted to marry or attend a church service, the records are most likely held by the Reformed Dutch.  Who knew?! 
  • Although the church in Manhattan founded in 1628 is still in existence today, records are only available from 1639.  That’s interesting because the physical church was erected in 1642.  That same year a second church was erected in Albany.  
  • Collegiate churches had 1 minister that traveled between several locations and all the records were maintained by the 1 minister.  I have found that happened in New Jersey in the early 1700’s also.  
  • Many Germans came to New Amsterdam and attended the Dutch church.  Even after the city changed hands and became New York, Germans who immigrated continued to attend the Dutch church so make sure you look over Dutch church records.
  • The two databases on Ancestry.com for Dutch Church Records are NOT the same, even though they appear to be.  There are a few names missing in one database so check both.  As is always a good practice, go beyond using the index and browse the records as the transcription may be in error or the spelling may have been slightly changed from what you are seeking.
  • Check out the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s databases. I neglected to mention in my last blog that I also get their free weekly newsletter.  

DNA Dumbness – What Not To Do When You Take a Test!

You may be contemplating taking advantage of the DNA specials that are currently offered – Ancestry.com and MyHeritageDNA.com are both being sold for $59.00 plus shipping.  Maybe you’re like me and have tested with a number of different companies over the past several years and believe you know the directions well enough to not read them.  I am going to share an embarrasingly dumb mistake I made last month when taking a DNA test to spare you having to learn this lesson on your own.

At my annual wellness physical my physician and I discussed genealogy.  Side note:  Physicians and genealogists share a lot in common, especially at parties where acquaintances want to poke your brain and get free advice on their chronic complaint – a health issue for the docs and a brick wall for the genealogist.  

My medical provider was sharing the results of her recent DNA test and I told her how I had compiled an ancestor health history going back several generations as I believe that some genetic conditions reoccur farther than the two generations back that typically the medical community zeroes in on when you complete the initial paperwork of who had what conditions.  

Granted, I have no proof of my theory other than what I’ve discovered in my own family tree and usually, when I mention this to a doctor, I get the same look that is given when you tell them you tried to self diagnose using WebMD.  I understand I’m enchroaching on their professional judgement but I mean no disrespect.  My current physician is very understanding of this tendency I have and although neither my parents or grandparents had medical concerns that DNA testing could show might affect me, I had two aunts that clearly carried a trait.  We both agreed it would be beneficial for me to be tested for medical information.

Deciding I could handle the test’s results, I made a followup appointment to spit into the test tube the next week.  The receptionist reiterated what the doctor said, don’t eat or drink anything within an hour of the test.  Yeah, yeah, I know already, I’m an expert DNA test taker!

Since my appointment was scheduled as the first visit of the morning, I decided I wouldn’t eat or drink anything after dinner the previous evening.  I even brushed my teeth right after dinner so there’d be no chance of a toothpaste interference. 

The next morning I got ready quickly and drove straight to the doctor’s office.  After signing in and being taken back to an exam room, the MA asked if I had eaten or drank anything in the last hour.  “No,” I replied, “Nothing since last night about 6:00.”  She then handed me the test tube and told me foam didn’t count so make sure to spit to the line.  

No worries, I got this.  My only thought was why didn’t they just take a cheek swab as in the days of old – that’s how I took my first Ancestry.com DNA test.  

MA left the room and I began to fill the test tube.  I was really going to town so I didn’t stop to look at the tube for a bit.  When I finally did, I had quite a shock.  My spit was not clear; it was tinged with pink.  

My first thought was I was bleeding but I felt fine.  Then it hit me; I had put lipstick on that morning.  

Lipstick does not process in my brain as food or drink.  It reminds me of my history as my maternal relatives never left the house without applying it.  I asked my grandmother why when I was about 8 and she said you should always put your best face forward.  That is, except when you’re taking a DNA test in the doctor’s office.

I didn’t know what to do; should I go look for the MA and ask if I should continue or should I just finish filling the tube?  I opened the door and saw no one in the hall so I decided to finish and maybe the test would be valid.

A few minutes later the MA returned and I sheepishly showed her the pink vial.  “I’ll check to see if that’s okay,” she said, “Never had that happen before.”  That made two of us.  Returning, she told me that the test wasn’t going to be acceptable and I needed to “Wash off your makeup, wait an hour and we’ll retest.”  

The last time someone told me to “Wash off that makeup” was in 8th grade and my lipstick of choice was Wow Wow White that looked awesome with my then braces.  Sister Rosarita felt differently and I was sent to the girl’s gang bathroom to remove it.  Then, I was angry at the school rule that was enchroaching on my lifestyle.  At the doctor’s office, I was angry at myself for being so stupid.

I was planning on meeting my husband after the appointment so I texted him I’d be late because, well, my lipstick got between my DNA and the tube.  He thought that was hysterical.  Me, not at all.  

A little over an hour later the MA called me from the waiting room and asked if I was sure I had gotten all the lipstick off.  I showed her my pale pink lips and said, “This is what they really look like.”  She laughed and said, “Nice color.”  

The second test went smoothly.  My results have been returned and they’re good, too.  

The doctor’s office staff were so kind about my mistake and said they’d make sure that they mention “NO LIP PRODUCTS” to future women who will DNA test.  I’m letting my dear readers know that, too.