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Honoring Our Ancestors
October 30, 2019


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Apologies for being a little tardy to your mail box. It's been a busy month! As always, this newsletter has a little bit of everything, genealogically speaking - soldier identifications (of course), my research on Melissa McCarthy who was recently on PBS, a funeral surprise, decluttering alternatives for those who care about family memorabilia, a tribute to a steelworker who died a century ago, and the latest grant. I want to remind y'all that I'm winding down my grants program in mid-2020 once I hit the 20-year mark, so if you (or anyone you know) has been planning to apply, please do so soon to maximize your chance of being selected before then! Thanks!

Until next time, keep on sleuthing!



5 Things You Didn’t Know about Melissa McCarthy’s Roots

Photo Credit: Greg2600

Easily one of the most popular and reliable box office performers today, actress, comedian, producer, and fashion designer Melissa McCarthy has a lot to be proud of. With a string of hits (Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat, Spy!, The Boss, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, etc.) that consistently deliver an enviable ROI and her ability to make us momentarily forget the world’s problems (who will ever forget her take on Sean Spicer?), she leaves us hungry for whatever’s next. But as a genealogist, I dwell in the past and decided to take her role in Ghostbusters as inspiration to do a little ghost-searching — that is, for the ancestors who populate McCarthy’s family tree. Here’s what I learned.

Click here to continue reading.

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grant #214: mitoYDNA

My latest grant has been awarded to mitoYDNA, the group of collaborative genetic genealogists behind the design, implementation, and ongoing upgrade and maintenance of mitoYDNA.org.

This group had a vision for a website where users could upload Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA to create a Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA database. The site also offers DNA matching, analysis and tools to help users and volunteers further their genealogical research.

The website is:

  • Crowdsourced – volunteer-driven.
  • Free – there is no cost to users/volunteers, though donations are encouraged to defer hardware, facility and administrative costs.
  • Accessible to all.

Although server space and other resources have been donated thanks to generous sponsors, there are still a number of expenses associated with running and promoting a non-profit company in the U.S. and grant funds will be used to assist with these. If you'd like to join me in supporting their mission, you can donate an amount of your choice using the donate button on the website's home page.

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). And don't forget, the clock is ticking!

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Genealogy Round Up, October 9

Photo Credit: Alistair Paterson

Aboard the Queen Mary 2, a Transatlantic Journey Now Includes a Dose of Genealogy

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Winchester, W.) – Welcome home, Pfc. William Junior Winchester. Honored to have researched your family. (2008)

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (McCollum, W.) – Welcome home, CPL William James McCollum. Honored to have researched your family. (2006)

Stingl: A Ripon man hid a secret in his will: Everyone at his funeral would split $500,000 – Well done, Dennis!

I get that this might help new genealogists, but it's bumming me out each time I research a young soldier who never had the chance to marry.

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Genealogy Round Up, October 2

Photo Credit: Abby Greenawalt/For The Washington Post

Amid a national decluttering frenzy, 5 families share the heirlooms they can’t part with – I’m a fan of decluttering, but not when it comes to family memorabilia. If that describes you as well, you’re going to love this article.

Remains Identified after 75 Years and Soldier Returns Home – Welcome home, PFC Vincent J. Ferrara. Honored to have researched your family.

DNA Test Links Columbia Family to World War II Hero – I’m delighted this family is rediscovering their heroic grandfather/great-grandfather, but this article muddles things. Living family members’ DNA helps identify the soldier; not the other way around. It’s irrelevant that a relative took an Ancestry test.

The Messy Consequences of the Golden State Killer Case – For better or worse, this piece does a reasonable job of summarizing the restlessness in the genetic genealogy world this last year or so.

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Betar, A.) – Welcome home, Cpl. Autrey John Betar. Honored to have researched your family (2004).

'A story that needs to be told': Dozens gather to honor steelworker lost in strike – A moving follow-up to the earlier story about Casimer Mazurek by Sean Kirst. Please give it a read if you’ve got a few minutes.

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Genealogy Round Up, September 25

Photo Credit: Sean Kirst/Buffalo News

'A martyr for working people': Tale of hero steelworker comes to life – I've worked with countless journalists over the years, but one of my all-time favorites is Sean Kirst of the Buffalo News. He comes to me with the most fascinating people and I love the way he crafts their stories.

Bonus points that they're often oddly hard to research (who doesn't like a challenge?). This one, for instance, seems so easy since I found his nephews, but I really had to work for it.

At any rate, I hope you'll take a few minutes to read this compelling profile of a forgotten hero - Casimer (aka Charles) Mazurek. Perfect time to resurrect his memory.

Bruce Springsteen accepts Ellis Island award with his mother & aunts – As Bruce Springsteen recently marked his 70th birthday, I thought it was a good time to take this charming look back at him paying tribute to his immigrant ancestors at Ellis Island (VIDEO). His mother and aunts are adorable!

And here's a little something about his Irish roots.

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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.

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