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Honoring Our Ancestors
March 20, 2019


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Greetings from somewhere on I-95! I'm in the midst of a road trip at the moment, and among other things, will be attending the memorial service for Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, featured in the first article below. He was a Tuskegee airman I had the honor of researching for the Army, and his daughter has chosen to put him to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read more about him and DPAA's efforts in general.

Aside from this, you'll find the latest Seton Shields Genealogy Grant and links to pieces about adoption, DNA, more soldiers, lineage charts, and playing cards. Playing cards? Yup. I like to mix it up!

Until next time, happy sleuthing!



No Man Left Behind: Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson

On December 23, 1944, Tuskegee airman Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson went down in his P-51 Mustang in the vicinity of the Italian-Austrian border. A seasoned pilot, he was on his 68th mission and had received the Distinguished Flying Cross just months earlier, but an engine failure sealed his fate. The 24-year-old officer left behind a widow, daughter, mother, and two brothers.

Attempts were made to find him for several years after the war ended, but while other crash sites in the vicinity were located, his wasn’t.


We’re all familiar with the military doctrine of “no man left behind,” but many don’t realize it has no expiration date. The hardworking people of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) are dedicated to finding and identifying the more than 82,000 service members who remain missing long after the battlefields have gone quiet. While the bulk of its effort is focused on World War II and Korea, the mission covers more recent (e.g., Vietnam), more distant (e.g., WWI), and non-combat (e.g., Cold War) conflicts.

To accomplish this, DPAA employs a multidisciplinary team of experts skilled in “foreign government negotiation, formulation of national policy, remains recovery and identification, DNA science, archival research and intelligence analysis.” Genealogists are also a piece of this puzzle, as are a growing number of specialized third party institutions.

Fast forward seven decades from the time of Capt. Dickson’s loss. Joshua Frank, a DPAA research analyst, cross-pollinated American and German reports. While Capt. Dickson was believed to have crashed in Italy, Frank found a German record for a downed P-51 six miles away in Austria, and sent local investigator Roland Domanig to take a closer look. Domanig already knew the site, recalling it from his childhood.

Click here to continue reading.

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grant #211: Regina Dillard

I'm happy to announce that the first of two grant recipients in the first quarter of 2019 is Regina Dillard.

Regina shared that before passing away in 2010, her grandmother named her the family historian. Regina sought funding to do Y-chromosome DNA testing of the only two men of her grandmother's generation left in the family who could be tested, ages 86 and 72.

In Regina's words, she hoped the testing would help her family to "determine our father to father to father over generations and to know their true ancestry. We were slaves, and we carry the slave master's surname, but are we related to the former master or did we just use their name? Also if we aren't related to the master, perhaps the test will pick up the unknown relatives that we are related to. This testing will determine our ancestry."

I was excited to receive Regina's grant application because it illustrates that there's still a role to be played by Y-DNA for particular scenarios. Different types of testing play well together!

Watch for announcement about the second grant recipient shortly. Meanwhile, though, as a reminder, you can apply for a Seton Shields grant here. Don’t miss checking out the cool projects I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to over the years, plus an article that will give you a behind-the-scenes peek into my grants program (and might help you increase your odds of being selected when you apply)!

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Genealogy Round Up, March 13

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army

Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Shuey, C.) – This soldier's family was seriously challenging to research, so I'm especially glad that he has been identified. Welcome home, Sgt. Cread Eldon Shuey.

Remains of Army private killed in World War II identified – Welcome home, Pfc. William Frank Delaney. Honored to have researched your family.

Hidden Link between Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle in Jonesboro, Georgia

Switched at Birth revealed 75 years later

Most American Adoptees Can’t Access Their Birth Certificates. That Could Be About to Change. – More hope for adoptees!

Home DNA-testing firm will let users block FBI access to their data – Very happy to hear of Family Tree DNA’s decision

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Genealogy Round Up, February 27

Photo Credit: Jason Pratt

First came the home DNA kits. Now come the support groups – I’ve been doing genetic genealogy so long that (as a beta tester), I was 23andMe’s first customer to learn something I wasn’t expecting. Surprise results are very common.

The ASL sign for DNA is better than the English for DNA

Custom playing cards are helping people share their family trees – "Your grandmother could be the queen of hearts." Yes, yes she could.

Tuskegee Airman posthumously honored after decades MIA – Another lovely piece about Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, a Tuskegee airman who will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery this month - this one about his daughter receiving his medals. Honored to have had the opportunity to find her.

Stephen King, wife give $1.25M to genealogical society

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Genealogy Round Up, February 20

Photo Credit: Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

Owner beats N.J. government agency seeking to seize family home - for now – Good for him! 98-year-old home and it's been in his family since 1969.

He took a DNA test in search of his birth father — and found a daughter instead – Did not see that plot twist coming at the end (and BTW, I don't mean the one the headline suggests)

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Revolutionary Ancestors – For those who haven't seen this, I thought I'd share it for Black History Month. That might surprise some, but give it a read and you'll see.

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Schipani,G.) – Welcome home, Sgt. George R. Schipani. Honored to have researched your family.

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Rix, J.) – Whoa. I researched the family of this Korean War soldier 50 years after his loss, way back in 2000. 19 years ago. So glad his family will finally be able to put him to rest. Welcome home, Cpl. James C. Rix.

Fine Lineage launches a new line of custom, museum quality family trees and lineage charts – some cool options here for family trees.

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Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries, I decided to take a breather from the road to tend to some projects. That said, I'm sharing exceptions here. And by the way, you can see if I’ll be in your area any time by checking my Events Calendar.

  • May 7, 2019 – Morning Forum, Los Altos, CA

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