GRAVES FAMILY BULLETIN

 

A Free, Occasional, Online Summary of Items of Interest to Descendants of all Families of Graves, Greaves, Grieves, Grave, and other spelling variations Worldwide

 

Vol. 13, No. 4, October 17, 2011

 

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Copyright © 2011 by the Graves Family Association and Kenneth V. Graves.  All rights reserved.

 

Information on how to start a free subscription to this bulletin and how to be removed from the subscription list is at the end of this bulletin.  If you received this bulletin directly, then you are already subscribed.

 

Visit the GFA web site at http://www.gravesfa.org

 

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CONTENTS:

 

** General Comments

** New Facebook Page for Graves Family Association

** National Museum of the American Indian

** Autosomal DNA Testing and the Probability of Finding Matches

** Some of the Limits of Autosomal DNA Testing

** Identity Theft and Genealogy Book Publishing

** An Alert for Caswell Co., NC, Researchers on Ancestry.com

** Book with U.S. Civil War Correspondence Now Available

** To Submit Material to this Bulletin & Other Things

 

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GENERAL COMMENTS

 

A variety of topics are included in this issue.  Keeping up with rapidly developing technology is quite a challenge.  In spite of my lack of experience with Facebook and other social networking websites, I have the feeling that it and other similar services will be of great help once we learn how to use them effectively.

 

Some general discussion of autosomal DNA testing is also presented in this issue.  Future issues will continue to include examples of how autosomal testing is solving some of ancestry and relationship puzzles.

 

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NEW FACEBOOK PAGE FOR GRAVES FAMILY ASSOCIATION

 

The Graves Family Association now has its own Facebook page.  Thanks very much to Vann Graves for setting this up.  Now we have to figure out how to make it most effective to promote the GFA and use it to help us find other family members and to learn more about our ancestry.  The URL for our new Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/groups/gravesfa/.

 

 

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NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN

 

This museum is located on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  There is also a branch located in New York City.  According to the website at http://www.nmai.si.edu/, “The National Museum of the American Indian is the eighteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans.”

 

There was an article in the last GF Bulletin about Native American ancestry.  As a follow-up to that, an article in Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter for Sept. 26, called my attention to this museum and its programs.  In the outreach section of their website, they discuss a series of programs, all of which are broadcast live via webcast as they occur, and at least some are available via online video later.  A program on Oct. 7 is about Native American law as determined by U.S. courts.  A program on Sept. 16 examined the question of “Who is an Indian?”

 

The discussion of Indian identity stated: “Unlike other ethnic minorities in the United States, American Indians are defined not solely by self-designation but by federal, state, and tribal laws. Blood quantum—originating from archaic notions of biological race and still codified in contemporary policy—remains one of the most important factors in determining tribal citizenship, access to services, and community recognition. This concept, however, is not without debate and contestation.” You can watch the video at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/17314991

 

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AUTOSOMAL DNA TESTING AND THE PROBABILITY OF FINDING MATCHES

 

An autosome is a chromosome that is not a sex chromosome (i.e., not an X or Y chromosome).  There are 22 pairs of autosomes plus a pair of sex chromosomes for a total of 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human genome.  A child inherits random parts of each chromosome from each parent.  Autosomal DNA testing is the testing of a limited number of SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), presently 710,000 pairs of locations for FTDNA.  Good places on the Internet to find more information about this are:

·          the FAQ pages of 23andMe

·          Go to www.23andme.com, click on the “how it works” link at the top of the page, and then select the subject of interest.

·          the FAQ pages of Family Tree DNA

Go to www.familytreedna.com, click on the FAQ link at the top of the page, and scroll down to and click on the “Understanding Results: Family Finder” link.  There is also helpful information in the “Learning Center” section at the bottom of the main page.

·          ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy)

Go to www.isogg.org and click on Resources on left side of page.  Also, the ISOGG Wiki can be accessed by clicking on the Wiki link in the “What’s New” box.

A good summary is also posted at DNA Testing Adviser at http://www.dna-testing-adviser.com/Autosomal-DNA-Testing.html.

 

DNA Testing Advisor has the following discussion about how genealogists can use autosomal testing.

 “Count out five generations to your great-great-great grandparents. You have 32 of them and most of the 16 couples probably had several children. Most of those children eventually married and had several more children and so on. Imagine those sixteen families all multiplying and branching out for five successive generations. You could easily have thousands of living cousins in parallel branches you know nothing about.

An autosomal DNA test can introduce you to those cousins who have taken the same test. Some of your newfound cousins will have genealogical information that you lack. By comparing notes and pooling your resources, you both win.

Genealogists also use this test to confirm suspected connections between deceased ancestors. For example, if you want to be sure that two men were brothers, you can test a great-grandchild of each man to see if they have the expected second cousin relationship.

Like all forms of genetic genealogy, having good paper trails will help you make sense of your DNA information. Yet even adoptees are using the test to get clues about their birth families and ethnic background.”

 

PROBABILITY OF FINDING MATCHES

According to a Family Finder FAQ on the FTDNA website, the probability of finding a match is shown below.

Relationship

Match Probability

2nd cousins or closer

99%

3rd cousins

>90%

4th cousins

>50%

5th cousins

>10%

6th cousins and more distant

Remote (typically less than 2%)

 

“For example, if you have 100 of your 3rd cousins test, Family Finder will detect about 90 of them as your 3rd cousins.  It will not detect the other 10.

Family Finder only detects a small percentage of 5th cousins and relatives that are more distant.  However, the number of such cousins in the population increases exponentially with each generation.  This means that if 1,000 of your distant cousins test, you can expect to see a few of them in the Speculative Relative category.

For genealogists, it is best to use Family Finder to prove recent relationships (1 to 5 generations).  However, after testing, you may discover distant cousins.”

 

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SOME OF THE LIMITS OF AUTOSOMAL DNA TESTING

 

Autosomal testing can allow us to find matches with our relatives, especially those related within 5 generations.  This may enable us to find ancestors that we didn’t previously know about, and break through “brick walls” in our research.  It can also give us some idea about our ancestral mix on all our various ancestral lines.

 

The two companies that presently provide this test are 23andMe and Family Tree DNA (FTDNA).  23andMe emphasizes testing for health and medical reasons, and FTDNA specializes in testing for genealogy.  Family Finder from FTDNA currently tests 710,000 pairs of locations (SNPs).  The program declares a DNA segment to be Identical by Descent (IBD) if it contains at least 500 matching SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) in series, and if the segment is larger than a certain size.  A DNA segment that is between 5 and 10 centiMorgans (cM) implies shared ancestry, and a block that is 10 centiMorgans or larger indicates conclusive shared ancestry.  Segments that don’t meet  these minimum requirements may just match by chance and are considered to be Identical by State (IBS).  (This last statement is usually true, but occasionally a segment smaller than 5 cM can indicate a match that is Identical by Descent.)

 

There are limits to what autosomal testing can do, however.  It will never be able to completely define our ancestry, and it will never be able to tell us everything about our ancestors.  Some of these limitations are discussed in an article in The Genetic Genealogist at http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2007/07/17/autosomal-genetic-testing/.  Although this article seems to me to overstate some points, it does point out that: “No autosomal test, now or in the future, will ever be able to completely define a person or a person’s heritage. DNA inheritance simply doesn’t work that way; it happens by chance, and as a result we do NOT possess DNA from each of our ancestors evenly. Some are highly represented, and some are gone completely.”

 

The article further states that it is misleading and even dangerous to suggest “that autosomal tests can truly define who we are and where we came from. The numbers only represent a few hundred sequences bases out of an entire genome, and I do not believe that even full-genome analysis – the entire description of our DNA – will ever define who we are or where we come from, on an individual level. If I were to find a sample of my great-great-grandmother’s DNA and analyze her entire genome, I could tell you what color her eyes were, about how tall she was, and what diseases she might have suffered from. I could not, however, tell you what made her laugh, or what her hobbies were, or even how many children she had in her lifetime.”

 

However, we know from experience that nothing is perfect.  The ability to get autosomal DNA test results has provided us with a tool that few of us would have dreamed possible a few years ago.  And with the advent of low cost, whole genome testing in a few years, the rapid growth in the size and complexity of DNA databases, the discovery of proprietary STRs (single tandem repeats) for Y-DNA testing, and other developments, we can look forward to a bright future for genetic genealogy.

 

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IDENTITY THEFT AND GENEALOGY BOOK PUBLISHING

 

Many people have asked me over the years, “When are you going to publish a book about my family?”  From my perspective, there are several issues that need to be addressed for me to be able to answer this question.  These include:

·          Cost: Publishing a book the traditional way (in hardcover, bound format) is very expensive, especially if you guess at how many will be sold but sell fewer copies than you have printed.

·          Format: If a traditional, hardcover format is not used, what format should be used?

·          Indexing: Indexing is a very time-consuming process.  How complete should the index be, and should there be a place index as well as a name index?

·          Content and scope: Some people have narrower interests than others.  So some people might prefer a book that only includes their direct line from their earliest known Graves or Greaves ancestor, and then all descendants of their great-grandparents, whereas all the 6 books I have already published (excluding Graves Families of the World) contain all descendants of the earliest known ancestor.  That, of course, also makes the book much larger and more expensive.

·          Privacy and identity theft: With the increasing use of the Internet, many people have become concerned about privacy and identity theft.  There is the belief by some that it is risky to put information about living people on the Internet or in a book, even though all the evidence contradicts that.

 

What I have decided is that I will not publish any traditional hardcover books in the future, but I will continue to publish books in some format.  They will be either print-on-demand books or e-books (readable on your computer, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, etc.).  Initially, I will probably publish an entire genealogy as a single book, although eventually I may offer portions of genealogies for specific families within an overall genealogy.  There will only be indexes of the people in the genealogy.  (I will soon be able to create these indexes automatically.)  However, using electronic format will allow the reader to search for any word or phrase of interest.  Since costs will be much less, prices will also be much lower.

 

Concerning the issues of privacy and identity theft, these seem to me to be mainly issues of perception and emotion rather than issues of logic.  Concerning privacy, many people share intimate details of their lives in emails and on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., yet some of those may not want their names to be included in a genealogy.  And yet, the genealogy will only be of interest to relatives, whereas their Facebook page will be there for the whole world to see.

 

Concerning identity theft, I have never read of nor heard of identity theft as a result of information in a genealogy, although it is not an absolute impossibility.  The Better Business Bureau reports that half of all identity theft is by family members, friends, in-home employees, or neighbors.  Most identity thieves find it much easier to establish their own line of credit in the name of a relative or acquaintance rather than digging through public records to create credit in the name of a stranger.  Perhaps the most common method of finding credit card information is by “dumpster diving” – going through someone else’s trash to find credit card bills, etc.  Most victims of identity theft do not experience any financial loss because of fraud protection provided by most banks and credit card companies.

 

If you go to an FTC website at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ and then click on “Learn more about identity theft”, you will see that it is a result of a variety of practices, including dumpster diving, skimming, phishing, changing your address, old fashioned stealing, and pretexting.  These practices and definitions of the terms are defined and discussed in the article.

 

According to a page at http://darlene-vaillancourt.suite101.com/identity-theft-a21806:  “Well, technically, yes we are offering up somewhat valuable information for the taking. But the reality is that this seldom happens.  Most crimes deemed as "identity theft" usually aren't much more than credit card fraud, not the full creation of a fraudulent identity. In other words, thieves are far more likely to steal your wallet, find bank statements in your trash or intercept your email in order to steal personal information.”

 

One solution to the possibility of information from online or printed genealogies being used as part of the input to fraud is to not include anything about living people or anyone born in the last 100 years in a genealogy.  Other than the fact that doing that wouldn’t do much to improve security, who wants a genealogy that doesn’t include them and their close relatives?

 

What do you think?  Do you want any book about your Graves or Greaves family to include living family members, or do you think that is a bad thing?  Would you buy a book that excluded all living family members?  Please let me know, and I will take your desires into consideration.

 

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AN ALERT FOR CASWELL CO., NC, RESEARCHERS ON ANCESTRY.COM

 

In searching records for Caswell Co., NC, I have recently been finding people who were in Caswell Co. but were listed as born in Catawba Co., and sometimes the same person was listed as being born in both counties.  That obviously didn’t make any sense, since the two counties aren’t even close to each other.  I discussed this problem with Rick Frederick of the Caswell County Historical Association, and he gave the following explanation.  (This is more detail than most of you want to know, but at least it will be here for your reference if you need it.)

 

“The Ancestry.com North Carolina Birth Index, 1800-2000 database has a serious coding problem that Ancestry.com refuses to address. I brought this to their attention several years ago and continue to inform them of the need to correct the corrupt database, all without success. Thus, until this is resolved, be wary of any search of this database that shows Catawba County as the county of birth. The person may really have been born in Caswell County. Look at the actual record and check the township. If you see the following abbreviations, the birth county is Caswell: P (Pelham); DR (Dan River); M (Milton); LH (Locust Hill); Y (Yanceyville); L (Leasburg); SC (Stoney Creek); A (Anderson); and HT (Hightowers).

 

The problem for those researching Caswell County (CO 20) apparently is in the 1913-1956 period. When you go to Roll Number NCVR_B_CO20_66001 (see above under Caswell County) you are taken to the Catawba County births index.

 

The problem for those researching Catawba County (CO 21) apparently is in the 1960-1979 period. When you go to Roll Number NCVR_B_CO21_68003 (see above under Catawba County) you are taken to the Caswell County births index.  Some records obviously have been incorrectly indexed either by Ancestry.com or by the North Carolina State Archives.

 

The position of Ancestry.com is that this is how they received the records from the North Carolina State Archives, and that it is not Ancestry.com's problem. I recently brought the matter to the attention of the North Carolina State Archives, but have not received a reply. The work-around described is effective, but does require a researcher to view the actual record, which is recommended in any event.

 

I have adopted the convention of showing the record abstract as created by Ancestry.com but adding [Caswell]. To do otherwise would be very confusing to anyone using Ancestry.com. That is how I approach all errors made by genealogical research services -- to show exactly what is found online, but to add corrections.”

 

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BOOK WITH U.S. CIVIL WAR CORRESPONDENCE NOW AVAILABLE

 

In the Graves Family Bulletin of June 17, 2011, I announced that Nancy Dana Wilson was in the process of publishing a book containing the U.S. Civil War letters written by her great-grandfather, Darius D. Priest, to his wife, L. Emeline Graves Priest.  Emeline Graves was a child of Lyman Graves and Rosetta Richardson of genealogy 135.

 

Nancy has since told me that the book, called Shouts & Whispers:  The Civil War Correspondence of D.D. Priest of Mount Holly, Vermont is now available.  It is for sale at Northshire Books in Manchester. VT, at Red Fox Books in Glens Falls, NY, or by contacting Nancy D. Wilson, 27 Arbor Drive, Glens Falls, NY 12801.  The price is $20.

 

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ABOUT THIS BULLETIN:

This bulletin is written and edited by Kenneth V. Graves, ken.graves@gravesfa.org.

 

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Send any material you would like to have included in this bulletin to ken.graves@gravesfa.org.  The editor reserves the right to accept, edit or reject any material submitted.

 

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If you do not already belong to the GFA, you can join by sending $20 per year to Graves Family Association, 20 Binney Circle, Wrentham, MA 02093 (more details on GFA website).  Payment may also be sent electronically via PayPal by going to www.paypal.com and sending payment to gfa@gravesfa.org. 

 

COPYRIGHTS:

Although the contents of this bulletin are copyrighted by the Graves Family Association and Kenneth V. Graves, you are hereby granted permission, unless otherwise specified, to re-distribute part or all to other parties for non-commercial purposes only.

 

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