Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Social media breaking down family history barriers

Great story by Dana Rimington of the Standard-Examiner out in Utah. If you've seen this story or follow this blog (or any blog or tweets or Facebook posts etc etc), you already know how influential social media has become in helping us share our family history stories and research. A couple of good quotes from Thomas MacEntee over at The physical legwork of genealogy remains largely the same - for example, a cousin of mine trekked out to Lutheran Cemetery today to visit a gravesite and get info on that site from the cemetery office, but social media has changed the availability and dissemination of that info - for example, this is a cousin I've never met, and we've connected through the online genealogy community. His physical visit is helping grow my family story, and vice versa in other situations. All I can reiterate is - keep sharing!

Social media breaking down family history barriers

Monday, March 18, 2013

From ‘Jesus!!’ The Christopher Guest HBO Comedy Series FAMILY TREE Gets Its First Tease!!

From Ain't It Cool News:

"Christopher Guest, who co-wrote “This Is Spinal Tap” before he went on to co-write and direct the similarly improvised comedies “Waiting For Guffman,” “Best In Show,” “A Mighty Wind” and “For Your Consideration,” writes, directs and co-stars in “Family Tree,” the tale of a man researching his own genealogy.

Hitting HBO in May, it stars Chris O’Dowd (who played love interest to Jemima Kirk and Kristen Wiig in “Girls” and “Bridesmaids,” respectively), with support from Guest’s usual movie repertory company (Fred Willard, Michael McKean, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban, Don Lake, and so on)."

If you've never seen any of Christopher Guest's movies, you're missing out on some wry, dry, ridiculous humor. And for the record, I would just like to say that I knew about and loved Chris O'Dowd way before anybody ever "discovered" him in "Bridesmaids."

So between Guest and O'Dowd and of course, the subject matter - genealogy, yay! - I definitely want to see this show. I think we all know that besides the frustration and joys that genealogy can bring, it can also bring the funny and ridiculous. Plus, anything that puts genealogy in the mainstream? More, please!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Women's History Month: The Casey women

Cousin April over at Digging up the Dirt on my Dead People posted a lovely old photo of some of the women in her family and their children, which made me remember I also have a favorite old photo of some of the women in my family, so I thought I'd post it for Women's History Month.
And for once, it's a photo that's been labeled!!! (Thank you Grandma (Mary Cronin Raynor)!!! It is most definitely her handwriting...) Although, unfortunately, there is no date. We can guess though! My grandmother looks similar in age to her wedding photo, but she's labeled herself with her maiden name, so let's guess she's about 30 which would make this photo from about 1945.

The location is Coney Island - getting photos taken at Coney Island was a big thing for the Casey and Cronin families in my tree. This photo is of the Casey women. From left to right we have: Maggie Casey Booth Casey (yes, her maiden name and second married name are both Casey), Mary Cronin, Molly Casey Murray, Elizabeth Casey Costello, Jenny Casey Travers, Ellen Casey Cronin, and Swanhild Nelson Casey. Maggie, Molly, Elizabeth, Jenny, and Ellen are sisters, and Swanhild is their sister-in-law. Mary Cronin is the daughter of Ellen. Ellen Casey Cronin is my great-grandmother, and Mary Cronin (later Raynor) is my grandmother. It's nice seeing all these women together, seeing all these sisters still close to each other even as adults, still traveling to Coney Island like a bunch of young girls to take a souvenir photo together.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Women's History Month & International Women's Day: Celebrating the women in our family

March is Women's History Month, and today is International Women's Day. Instead of doing a whole long ode to all the fierce and fabulous women in my family tree (which I could do, easily, but it would take forever!), I thought I'd just share a quick thought about some of the wonderful women I call family...

Last weekend, many of the women nearest and dearest to me turned out for my surprise baby shower. Besides all the wonderful female friends and family who showed up and/or sent gifts, a great many of my female relatives (and my best friend, who I consider family! ;)) came together to throw the shower for me, just a great reminder of how lucky I am to have these women in my life (and in my tree!)

The shower really was a celebration of connected generations of women. My aunt gave me a christening blanket for my daughter made from the train of my mother's wedding dress. My (very nearly) 98-year-old grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor, was able to come for awhile, which in and of itself would've been the best gift in and of itself, but the actual present she brought connected five generations of women on my mom's side of the family: a beautiful afghan knitted by my grandmother's mother, Ellen Casey Cronin. I can't wait to tell my daughter that her great-grandmother passed along to her a gift made by my daughter's great-great grandmother.

Afghan made by Ellen Casey Cronin (1892-1974)

So today and this whole month, don't just remember those famous women who inspire you and who you look up to; remember all those wonderful women in your own families who not only came before you, but who surround you even today!

Friday, March 1, 2013

AncestryDNA: Fiance edition

Well, it's certainly been awhile, hasn't it??

I meant to write this post a month ago and well, life just got in the way! As I had written before, I bought my fiance an AncestryDNA kit as a Christmas present for him. And for me. And for our daughter, ha ha. As he has a mainly Central American ancestry that is poorly documented, I thought this might be our best shot just to get a general picture of where his family came from, and to maybe, quite possibly, connect to some distant cousins through

So, before we took the test, we knew a few things - both of the fiance's parents were born in Honduras, and so much of his heritage is Native American, namely Mayan. His great-grandfather on his mother's side was a Sicilian sailor. On his father's side, he definitely has an Anglo ancestor, rumored to be from Scotland, rumored to have had a child with a Jamaican woman. So I think we were both expecting to see all that reflected in his genetic make-up.

I have to give AncestryDNA props again. It took two weeks from the time they received the test (which you can track online on their website) to when they posted his results. I don't know how demanding their DNA testing schedule is, and as they grow in popularity it may take longer to get results, but right now, they really don't make you wait all that long to find out, which I appreciate as a customer, considering how expensive the tests are! (Though they're still cheaper than DNA tests offered by other genetic genealogy sites.)

Anyway, the fiance told me only after we got the test results back that he hadn't been convinced that the test was all that accurate, given my surprising DNA results of Scandinavian & Eastern European, both of which were fairly unexpected (well, maybe not the Scandinavian, but definitely the percentage of Scandinavian), but after he got HIS results, I think he was convinced. According to his results, he is 24 percent British Isles, 18 percent Native South American, 17 percent Native North American, 16 percent Southern European, 16 percent West African, and 9 percent uncertain (I tease him that that uncertain part means he's part alien). But really, for the most part, I think this is what we both expected to see, which didn't make it any less exciting - British Isles backs up the family history that his paternal line comes from Scotland, Southern European backs up his Sicilian great-grandfather, and the West African backs up the claim of a female Jamaican ancestor. I think he was surprised by the AMOUNT of British Isle ancestry that came back, and he was definitely surprised by the Native South American ancestry that showed up. As far as he knows, his whole native ancestry is Central American (which is covered by the Native North American ancestry), although he has a great-grandmother on one of his lines who was adopted, and so his family doesn't really know her background. So I think that was the most unexpected result for him. He also said he thought some Middle Eastern or Arabic ancestry might show up, but I explained that just because it DOESN'T show up in the results doesn't mean it's not there. It just didn't show up. But it's interesting to see just how mixed the ancestry of Latin Americans are, with the intermingling of people and genes from the African slaves who were brought over, the Europeans who came over to settle or for business, and the native Americans who were already here. His 24 percent British Isles means he probably has at least another European on his lines that he doesn't know about. And while Southern European backs up his Sicilian ancestry, he probably has some Spanish conquistador ancestry as well covered by that Southern European.

He also found a couple of cousins on Ancestry, and we get notices every day that he has more joining. Most of them are very distant with low certainty, but I'm waiting for someone with more moderate to high certainty and also a little closer in range (4th-6th cousin). He had one that he sent an e-mail to but we're still waiting to hear back - I think he's a little disappointed that he hasn't heard yet, but I'm keeping my eyes open for that potentially helpful cousin who might come along.

So it was exciting getting those results. For him, I think it validated a lot of what he'd been told about his family but so far has no way to prove, and it provided some surprises, which is part of the fun of genealogy and family history. For me, it gives me something to put together for my daughter, something to tell her and pass along to her, my little melting pot daughter, my little mutt, my little child of the world! :)