27 July 2013

DNA is a tricky thing when you are starting out.

I did it again. I took another dna test with 23andme. I wanted my sister to also take the dna test, and she chose 23andme, so to get any sort of decent comparison going I decided to take it too. We also would like our nephew to take this test, but don't you know, he can't have it done. Oh, he is willing enough, but because he lives in Maryland, he can't take the test through 23andme (or Ancestry.com I bet). Seems there is another firm in MD that has the dna testing service all sewn up in that state. Which is a bummer for us, as he is the only direct line male left in the our Mack family. I hope 23andme gets that sorted out sooner than later.

So, I did get different results. Probably because the test wasn't identical to the Ancestry.com one. Oh, I am still about 99.9% European, but my British and Irish percentage has dropped to 15.4%. No Persian/Turkish/Caucasus. But 1.4% Scandinavian, 1% French and German, 72.4% unspecified Northern European, .5 non-specific Southern European and 9.2 nonspecific European. Oh and 2.7 Neanderthal.

My sister only shares 50% of my dna. And she is 3% Neanderthal. It's very interesting to compare our genetic makeup.

 I have four bonafide cousin matches with people on Ancestry.com - one first cousin I already knew about her - we grew up next door to each other- and three other folks I did not know about. We share 4th great grand parents, mostly. There are a lot of matches of surnames on Ancestry.com, but the locations are way off. It will be challenging to find the exact relative that we are supposedly connected by.

The matches on 23andme are more obtuse. The genealogy isn't touted as the most important. But one can see that we are indeed matched genetically. But finding the connection beyond the gene is a much larger challenge. I do like the health report aspect, and I am glad that I have participated in the surveys and contributed my dna results that may positively impact folks health-wise. Luckily I am a relatively healthy person, and the stats show that if I behave myself, I will have a good future health wise.

As for figuring this dna stuff out.... I hope those who have will continue to write about it and publish their thoughts online. It really helps. So thank you all who have, and all who will in the future. Just be sure of your data, and don't make things up please, I am really tired of all the nonsense that has made it to the internet.

11 June 2013

I made a promise to myself...

... every day that it rains too hard to go outside, instead of going weeding the garden, I will scan some of the many photographs in my collection into the computer. A different kind of weeding shall we say?

Trying to organize (again) my digital genealogy data, I've decided on Family file folders nested into Surname file folders. I also have Census, US and Census, NS folders for records that are not already filed away in the family files. And, lastly - if I can't remember what file to use - I have the catchall Miscellaneous folder, the General History folder,  a General Map folder and a General Data folder. It might work - if I keep up with it with a weekly "sort and file-it-properly" day, that is.

In the midst of scanning photographs, I did learn a few new things. This particular batch of photographs came from my mother's desk. I always knew my mother had a quirky sense of humor and a decidedly artistic view of the world, but many of the photographs that she took of her children and grandchildren were pretty artsy. She seemed to have preferred a low-light from the side and a straight on shot - or a profile not quite silhouette, but pretty close. She definitely thought her grandchildren were interesting, as she often chronicled them doing things like this - an activity she totally instigated - she loved to get the grandkids outdoors and looking at neat things:

 Ian, Ives and Sarah out and about checking out some really cool 
stuff while their mothers are at work, ca. 1988?

The next find was a small bible - pocket sized and in a box. It is a bible given to my grandmother and grandfather on the date of their wedding. Clifford Ives Stoddard and Mildred Russell Dikeman were married on Saturday the 13th of October in 1906 in the New Haven Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church. James D.W. Perry Jr, the Rector of St. Paul's Church performed the ceremony.

Primary source ;-)

My mother didn't talk much about her years at Rollins College in Winter Park Florida. From what she did say, she really enjoyed the time spent there. She was a small town girl from Connecticut who ventured out of her element into Winter Park, FL and obviously flourished. The graduation ceremonies - apparently lasted a week from the few remnants I found - were held in 1940 and my mother received a few honors and participated in the ceremonies as well.

The headline below shows Joe Justice being awarded major honors...the reality is my mom shared being selected as an outstanding atheletes of the year. 


Mom also made outstanding achievement in the study of art. Growing up, we could not look past our noses without seeing something Mom had created or designed. Although she did work for a while for an advertising company, after she married Pop, she gave up her work to become a mother, and created what she could while moving around the country and raising kids. She wasn't much of a writer, sadly; I would love to read what she thought of things. She did leave lots of little touches that so exemplify who she was and what was important to her.


The last photo is a mystery. There I am peeking over the back of a donkey. I know who owns the Mustang convertible, but for the life of me, I don't know where we are or what we are doing in the midst of these donkeys. Or are they mules? And how the heck could I forget an experience this out of the ordinary for me? I remember most of my travels - I even kept diaries during the momentous journeys, but this one has me stymied.

My guess is that it is in New England somewhere - that would tie in with the Mustang and its owner. Aviator type sunglasses dates it around early 70's. Maybe a spaceship scooped me up and gave me a drug to make me forget this?

I have no memory of this at all, but I do have the evidence. I expect, as the years roll on, there will be many more instances of forgotten photos. That is why I am in such a hurry to scan my photos!

08 May 2013

Hmmmm..... very interesting!

While I have been waiting for my Ancestry.com DNA test results, I have been thinking about my first cousins. How alike we are in stature, and somewhat in our facial features; and yet we each have a different "stamp" on us from the non-Stoddard parent in the family. I think our most notable likeness is our toes. When got together during the summer a couple of years ago I noticed, since we were all wearing sandals at the time, that our toes were very similar.

I'm not sure, genetically speaking, what this means other than we are related and this toe shape is a dominant theme, but I would say our feet came from the same mold. Years ago, I thought my toes made me a freak of nature- everyone else I knew had toes that were shoe-shaped. I was pretty upset that my feet were not shoe-shaped; at least not in the then current fashion mode. Fifty odd years later, I look at my sister's feet, and my two girl cousin's feet and realized I wasn't all that unique. At some point over the past twenty years I did discover that my foot shape had a name and it is called Saxon. I have known all along that we came from Scotland and England, so the discovery was not a momentous one, but a nice confirming one.

So, you can imagine that I could hardly wait to open Ancestry.com email yesterday announcing the DNA test results were ready. Frankly, I wasn't expecting any big surprises, since I already had a pretty good idea where my ancestral families come from. So, the 92% British Isles ethnicity was not earth-shattering news to me. 

I did not expect this though - the other 8% was Persian/Turkish/Caucasus. 


I would have bet the farm on European, Other or Unknown; but not Persian/Turkish/Caucasus. I immediately thought about the Mehlman family, who fled "Germany" in 1752 - perhaps the family did some traveling before they left Germany?

Then I noticed that I had one match from that 8% ethnic group. Whoopie!

I have to say I was really excited - at last, some confirmation of speculation!!! But no. The match was from my Stoddard family. We have a new 5th cousin once removed!- we share Samson Stoddard, my 4th great grandfather! We also share some other families, understandably; Atwood, Cooke, Nettleton, Richards and Turner. It turns out that my match person and I also have British Isle shared ethnicity, and it would make sense, since Anthony Stoddard came from England. 

So, why did the match came up under the Persian/Turkish/Caucasus ethnicity and not the British Isle ethnicity? Granted my research only go back to the 1500's in England. I wonder how soon someone will publish a book on how to figure out which family actually comes from a DNA derived ethnicity. I suppose it is time to hit the history books again.

I did get a lot of Ancestry.com "matches" from the British Isles ethnicity, but I have only been able to find two with closely related surnames that are in the same geographical location. Surprising to me, they are not "Mayflower" people as I expected. Rather they are from the Stoddard line. Ives, Russell, Clark and Tirrell. As I understand it, the more people take the DNA test, the better mapped we will be. So, are the Stoddard surname people out there getting tested and other surname families not so much?

Well, there sure is a lot to ponder.

25 April 2013

Curiouser and curiouser!

I'm on a roll this week.

Through the grace of another blogger, The Costumer's Closet, we now have access to Harper Bazaar magazine's treasure trove of past issues. And I mean past issues as in from 1867 to 1900. Digitized. The back issues are from the Cornell University's Mann Library collection. The website is called the Home Economics Archives.  Hearth - a collection devoted to "preserving the Core historical literature of home economics before 1950. The digitization was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2001-2003. You can see them here:


So, I immediately thought of my great grandmother Minnie Mailman Mack, whom I really only know by name and date and a few records. Once again, I really wish that I a) found my passion for genealogy much earlier in my life; b) had been more interested in history when I was in school; c) paid closer attention to my surroundings when I did have a chance to visit her hometown in Nova Scotia; and finally, d) got to know my Mack family relatives that were still living when I was younger. Luckily, I can make the most of what is available now and trust that in the future more resources will be available.

For now I have to imagine what Minnie was like. And today I received a wonderful gift in my blog reader in the form of Harper's Bazaar digitized magazines. I know that Minnie arrived with my grandfather and his siblings in Boston on May 6th, 1896 on the steamship "Boston".

I know that Harper's Bazaar, being a magazine for fashion and fashionableness (yes, well, it should be a word) was probably not the real world that Minnie and her children were stepped off the boat and onto firm ground into. It probably had some gems of value though, so I looked at the May 2, 1896 issue. Imagine - looking at the pages of a magazine that was published the very week that my great-grandmother arrived!

[Well the whole process has a lot of magic in it, but let's ignore the machinations for a bit].

I'm pretty confident that Minnie was not wearing the same kind of clothing that is on the cover. All the same, probably trying to make a good impression on her new host country, she was probably wearing her good outfit. I didn't stop to read the articles - a very bad habit of mine - but did go straight to the advertising pages to see what the masses were being lured into purchasing to make their skin soft, and to look fashionable.

Ivory soap! And a host of other "beauty" products. And bicycles. Big hats are in. Black is the new black. Extract of beef, Eye Water and Vin Mariani for the health. Waltham watches to keep time with. Van Camp's Boston Baked Pork and Beans made in Indianapolis, Indiana, for heaven's sake. Breakfast Cocoa from Walter Baker and Co. from Dorchester, Mass.

I'm thinking I will be spending a lot of time with Harper's Bazaar trying to construct the world as Minnie knew it. Do you know any other periodical that was published around this time in Boston?

I'd love to know about it.

22 April 2013

Don't you love it when the universe conspires to offer you a gift?

I do.

Although this may not be your cup of tea, it is mine.

When I was in my early formative years, and in an inquisitive state of mind, I would go to our bookshelves and choose a book of Punch cartoons that delighted our family, one after another. I'm not at all sure who purchased the book. I'm not sure of the title either, but I am guessing A Century of Punch Cartoons. I would make a bet that it was my mother, who had traveled to England with her mother and was probably exposed to the magazine at that time.

So, I would take down the book, make myself comfy and pour over the cartoons for hours. I loved the drawings, many of which had no captions. I would do my best to puzzle them out. Some drawings were easy to interpret, with a border-free, global and timeless kind of humor. Others were frankly obscure to this young American girl. Regardless of my skill in decoding the cartoons, I do feel that the book was an important contributor to my general education and general personality, and I certainly include it in my life bibliography.

I stumbled across a new blog in my reading this morning, a link which I followed, as I often do, and found my self reading "The Costumer's Closet" blog, http://costumerscloset.blogspot.com authored by Loren Dearborn. I love to find old paintings and drawings of clothing and, particularly, the people in them. To this end, I will pretty much follow any link to find them. I am so impressed with this blog! Especially because it led me to an archive of my favorite magazine, Punch; but not exclusively. Loren likes to create period clothing. And she is good at it.

As I am a handcrafter, much like my mother was, I paint, I draw, I knit and I sew. I cook and I make glass beads. I follow a great tradition of DIYing. Nothing pleases me more than to create something useful and pretty. I find myself combining this handcrafting need with my passion for finding out my family's history.

I know I come from some very interesting characters who had to use their hands to craft a life. Boat builders, sawmill owners, farmers, architects; and countless women who had to create nearly everything in order to raise a family and keep the home fires burning. I probably will never know the details of my relative's lives, but through my own experiences and reading as many diaries of the periods they came from as I can get my hands on, I can get an idea of who these people were, and how they lived their lives.

Excuse me now - I'm going back to read Punch.

21 April 2013

I did it.

1. purchase dna kit - check
2. open box - check
3. read directions - check and check (I never read instructions carefully the first time)
4. spit in bottle - check - repeat as needed (I went to the fridge to get a lemon for inspiration)
5. click the lid to mix the blue goo with spit - check
6. remove goo package and replace with screw on lid - check
7. place in mailer and take to mailbox -check and check
8. listen for mailman to pick up - check
9. register kit online - check
10. wait - check

It really could not have been simpler. I'm not expecting any big surprises - but I am hoping for some new relatives to compare notes with. Wish us luck!

31 March 2013

I'm astonished!

To all my friends in genealogy - thank you for all your kind words about my blog! I write this blog for myself (to keep a record of my research); for my family (because I am now the oldest in my immediate family  - I want to make sure my family knows who came before us to help shape who we are); and for anyone else who may be related - by name or by the passion for researching the past. To find my blog so welcomed into the greater genealogy community means a lot to me. A place that I actually fit in!

Please know that I am aware of each of you out there, and am grateful that you have acknowledged my blog. If I can help you in any way with the people or places that I write about, please send me a note. I will be happy to hear from you!


21 March 2013

Mystery photos - Solved?

Remember these folks from a past post?

This is the photo I had the Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor take a look at. She was able to approximate the date of the photo and judge their approximate ages. It wasn't enough for me to even make a guess at who they were though, as I wasn't even sure they were actual family members - no identifying marks on the back of the photo. It came to me as a framed print, so I figured it had some importance to someone in the family.

But now, I think I know who they are. While looking into the Dikeman family (my grandmother was Mildred Russell Dikeman) on Ancestry.com, I came across Julia Dikeman - whose photo I have with identification on the back in my collection. 
Julia Dikeman b. 1866 dau. of Henry Botsford Dikeman and Emily Camp
(She is my 1st cousin twice removed according to Ancestry.com)

I didn't know where she fit into the family, but I did know she came from Newtown, Connecticut. I didn't really know much about the Newtown family members before yesterday, but I do now - at least enough to make possible identifications of people in photos and explain some of the photographs in my collection. 

On a whim, I clicked on the search the web link found on the lower right hand corner of a person's profile page. This time it brought me to a book in Google Play Books - "Newtown's history and historian, Ezra Levan Johnson" prepared by Jane Eliza Johnson The Historian's Life Companion. Newtown Connecticut, 1917.

What an interesting book! It covers the history from the first settlers to 1917. Freeman Oath lists, businesses in town, churches and groups. My mother is listed in the Dikeman genealogy. Oh, yes! Genealogies of some prominent families - I found a slew of relatives. I'm still unsure of all the actual relationships, but I was able to connect people in the Dikeman family bible with other families from Newtown; the Tyrrells, Fairchilds, Botsfords, Sanfords, Curtises and even Platts (!) 

The single best feature of the Newtown book for me is the photographs. I think the gentleman and lady above are Silas Norman Beers and his wife Sarah Nichols Beers. There is an etching of Silas N. Beers who looks very much like a younger version of the gentleman above. Silas Beers was an architect who worked on the fourth Church edifice in 1870. Mr. Henry Sanford was on the committee with him. I'm wondering if that Mr. Sanford and my Elizabeth Ann Sanford are related? It might explain why we had the pictures of the Beers and this man:

There is no marking on back of the photograph, but he bears striking resemblance to the Rev. Newton E. Marble D.D. in the Newtown book. And here is the church:

This was marked on the back "Church at Newtown"

I believe with a bit more careful reading of the Newtown history I will find some more answers. What a gift Google Play Books are - I downloaded this book for free. Now, I know my job isn't finished yet, I still need to find vital records for these folks, but what a wonderful starting point I now have.

I also am looking forward to later in the year when I will take a trip to Newtown to see where my Dikeman family lived, and find out more about the area. 

06 March 2013

Someone was listening...

My cousin and I get together as often as we can in Boston - usually a couple of times a year - to do some hardcore research on our families and to visit with our children who just happen to live in the area. We usually work at the NEHGS library, do a little shopping on Newbury Street, and eat at some fabulous restaurants with our kids.  Last weekend we attended Ancestry Day at NEHGS in Boston.

 Just before I left, I posted the Veturia Platt story in hope that someone would come forth and identify her. It wasn't the focus of this trip, but I would have been happy to come home to some new information. Well, I still haven't heard from anyone from this blog posting, but in a way, I did hear from someone over the weekend.

I was busy in the microfilm department looking for John and Ellen Young (who also elude me) and when the day was nearly done, I was only able to delete people from my search. It is still progress, I suppose. I went up to the 7th floor to meet up with my cousin and had about fifteen minutes left to look for more information. I wanted to look at the Dikeman books recommended to me by my cousin, so I pulled them from the stacks. After perusing them, I decided it wasn't the same family, so I returned the books to the re-shelve rack and spied a book that looked promising to me - New England Planters in the Maritime Provinces of Canada 1759-1800. Hmmmm. I have relatives in Nova Scotia... I did find references to Samuel Mack, Ephraim Dean and others... I never thought of Samuel Mack as a Planter, but I guess he was. The listing showed 14 pages of letters. Jackpot! Unfortunately, it was something I would have to come back for another day's follow up.

Just as I had finished photographing the important details before returning the book, a volunteer came around to tell us the library was closing in five minutes. Already? I returned the book and glanced again at the pile of returned books and spied the Platt Genealogy on top. What? I have three minutes to see if this is the right Platt - and I believe it is - Richard Platt of Milford, Connecticut. Another day, Mr. Platt, we have a date.

Coincidence? I think not.

Ancestry Day is a day that NEHGS partners with Ancestry.com and offers presentations given by experts from both Ancestry.com and NEHGS. It was an early start, and a long day, but there was a lot of great information exchanged. I hope I can do better searches on Ancestry.com with the help of Crista Cowan's tips. I'll let you know.

Other talks were equally interesting and informative, and the wrap up Live Q&A Panel was lively and inspiring. If you get an opportunity to attend an Ancestry Day with NEHGS, go ahead and do it! It isn't a huge cost, in time or money, and everyone is so nice and helpful.

27 February 2013

Do you recognize me?

My name is Verturia Platt. I lived in New Haven, Connecticut sometime during 1917-1930 maybe longer. Marcia Stoddard used to call me Aunt Verturia, but I don't believe we are actually related... probably just good friends of the family. Marcia's daughter Sally, the author of this blog, would love to know more about me. If you are related to me, or know me at all, please leave a comment. You will make her day!