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Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter

April 15, 2009

By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Megan Smolenyak SmolenyakGreetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Well, since I'm half-Irish and most of the content of this newsletter involves bits and pieces I wrote in March, I have to warn you that this issue is really Irish-heavy (sorry, I'm genetically obligated due to St. Patrick's Day). If that doesn't interest you much, you might want to jump in about mid-way! Here's wishing you and yours the luck of the Irish -- er, genealogically blessed researcher who finally finds that elusive ancestor!


In this newsletter. . .

Genealogical Round Up, March 5

Another shout-out for the Haley-Baff genetic family reunion video -- this time from Randy. Thanks, Randy!
Genea-Musings: The Haley-Baff Y-DNA Connection

A shout-out from Dick Eastman about the Haley-Baff genetic reunion this past weekend in London. Thanks, Dick!
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: Video: Haley-Baff Family Reunion

Thanks for the shout-out about the Haley DNA story, Juliana!
24-7 Family History Circle » More on the Chris Haley/June Baff DNA Reunion

I think a few of us saw the warning signs on this. Glad there are other options for this kind of testing now, but really hope the Trace Genetic Native American data resurfaces somewhere.
DNAPrint Genomics Ceases Operations » The Genetic Genealogist

This writer obviously doesn't appreciate genealogy (note the snarky remark at the end), but this is still interesting. Looks more complicated than it has to be, though: Carry the Family DNA With You Wherever You Go: Great Idea?

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Obama Acknowledges His Irish Roots

I read this article today that leaves the impression that Barack Obama has neglected to acknowledge his Irish roots: Obama's roots have Irish eyes smiling

As the one who first traced his roots to Moneygall, I have more than a passing interest in this. For those who might be genealogically curious, here's a summary of the research:
The Quest for Obama's Irish Roots

For those with a shorter attention span, I'll cut to the quick and tell you that it was tombstones in Ohio that led me to Moneygall!

But my real purpose in writing today is to point out that he has indeed given a shout-out to his Hibernian heritage. I know because I had the privilege of reading his letter out at the dedication of the memorial for Annie Moore, the first immigrant to enter America through Ellis Island. She was an Irish lass, so Barack Obama was kind enough to send a letter on her special day last October.

You can watch the video here (check out Ronan Tynan singing Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears about Annie -- doesn't get much more Irish than that!) or simply read the letter below:

Obama Moore ltr Oct 08 hl

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Genealogical Round Up, March 12

Wow! This amazing group of volunteers has now solved 50 cases!
Unclaimed Persons

Family -- and national -- history shows up when you least expect it.
Photo emerges that might be last taken of Lincoln - CNN.com

Oh, please . . . not these same old tired arguments. Can't the folks who love to pick on genetic genealogy at least make an attempt to be original?
Washington Times - It's all in the family

Another kind mention of the Haley DNA video. Thanks very much, Kimberly!
Alex Haley's Roots Go Back to Scotland

Thanks for the shout-out on the Haley DNA video, John!
Anglo-Celtic Connections: Genetic genealogy frustration

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Obama & Annie Moore: A Pair of Irish Genealogy Detective Tales

Being half-Irish, St. Patty's Day has always been special to me. So what better time to share a couple of my favorite genealogical adventures, both involving Ireland?! And what better place to start than the intersection of both stories -- a letter from then candidate Barack Obama that I had the privilege to read at the memorial dedication for Annie Moore last October:

Obama Acknowledges His Irish Roots

Irish America article - "A New Dawn in American Politics"

Irish America article - "A Celtic Cross for Annie Moore"

Ancestry Magazine article - "The Quest for Obama's Irish Roots"

Irish Times article - "Ellis Island's first immigrant honoured" by Lucy Kennedy

Cleveland Plain Dealer article - "Presidential candidate Obama has Irish kin in southern Ohio"

Newsweek article - "O'Bama? Why Irish Eyes are Smiling" by Carl Sullivan

AFP - Google News - Obama, Biden descended from Irish cobblers: researcher

Irish Echo Online - "Annie will finally get her marker"

The Washington Post - "Tiny Irish Village Is Latest Place to Claim Obama as Its Own" by Mary Jordan

Irish Times - "Moneygall is Offaly pleased with Obama connection" by Mark Rodden

The New York Times - "Story of the First Through Ellis Island Is Rewritten" by Sam Roberts

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Watch RootsTelevision.com on your TV!

I'm delighted to see that folks are loving the new full-screen viewing available at RootsTelevision.com! For those of you who might have missed it, you can read all about it here. Just click on the little box with arrows underneath a video and whatever you're watching fills your whole monitor. No more squinting!

This made me curious. If you've purchased a TV over the last few years, you may have noticed that you can connect all sorts of goodies to them, so I decided to check whether I could hook up a wireless laptop to a TV.  Sure enough! Here's my husband, Brian, watching RootsTelevision.com on one of our TVs!

It took me about 30 seconds to hook it up -- just connected a cable to the laptop and the TV and clicked the "input" button on my remote until RootsTelevision.com appeared. That was it! If you're not sure how, here are some easy-to-follow instructions:

How to use a TV as a monitor for a laptop

So now you can watch free, genealogical videos on your TV whenever you want!


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Genealogical Round Up, March 19

I work with ProGenealogists.com all the time and have done so for about a decade now. They do great work if you're looking for help with your genealogy!
ProGenealogists, Inc. Helps Trace President Obama’s Irish Roots; Assists Clients in Obtaining Dual I

Dick's got a point!
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: Watch RootsTelevision.com on your TV!
Roots Television | Megan's Roots World: Watch RootsTelevision.com on your TV!

Thanks for the shout-out, John! Have y'all read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell yet??
Anglo-Celtic Connections: Megan's Malcolm Musings

Hmmm . . . sounds interesting! Think I might just have to learn more
Priceless Legacy Company

This and a little Irish for you!
Roots Television | Og Blog: Genealogy Videos from WDYTYA? Live!

Green water in the fountain and a fine fiddler from Cork!
CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - O’bama celebrates St. Patrick’s Day
Roots Television | Megan's Roots World: Obama & Annie Moore: A Pair of Irish Genealogy Detective Tal

If you're into genetic genealogy, you might want to check out this interview.
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: Video Interview with Chris Pomery

Wow. On St. Patty's Day Eve, this makes me really miss my mother (was of 100% Irish heritage) and Richard Harris. This was an amazing concept album that still blows me away today -- I guess largely because my family lived it. Funny, all these years later, I still have a physical reaction to it.

Thanks to Geri Ellen Neumann for sharing this article. Hope you enjoy it!
Family Stories as Secret Text for Immigrants - NYTimes.com

I like this notion. In fact, I've been doing it without really thinking about it for some time, but it's a fun idea!
Visualizing Your Genetic Genealogy » The Genetic Genealogist

Now this is a new twist . . .
Church, genealogist in tussle - Latest News - Kentucky.com

Another aspect of Madoff's legacy . .
Family caught in Madoff swindle forced to sell Jewish heirlooms - CNN.com

Wonderful use of DNA!
Scientist to discuss how DNA reunites Holocaust families | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com - Housto

Passing mention of RootsTelevision.com in Dallas Morning News. Apparently, they spotted Irish genealogy guru, John Grenham, in the interviews we did with him on the TMG cruises!
Search by land and sea for your roots in the Old Country: Ireland | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas

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The Story of Philip Reed, the slave who put Freedom on the U.S. Capitol

Back in January, I was contacted by several members of the media asking for assistance with research pertaining to possible stories for the inauguration. I pitched in as best I could and became fascinated with Philip Reed (everyone else spells it Reid, but I believe he preferred Reed!). Reed was a slave -- originally from South Carolina, but freed in Washington, D.C. in 1862.

Those who really know their history know that he was instrumental in the creation of the Freedom statue that stands atop the U.S. Capitol. Here's a video that ABC ran on him around the time of the inauguration.

Although you can google your way to a fair bit of information about this, what you won't find is much about the man himself. I felt he deserved to be remembered, so did a little digging to find out more about his life. An article I wrote about him will be coming out in the next issue of Ancestry Magazine.

In the meantime, you can get a taste in today's The Post and Courier from Charleston, S.C., his home town.

I would be very grateful if you would share this with others because Philip Reed's story deserves to be told.

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The Centenarian's Revenge!

From www.MentalFloss.com:

Expecting to move into 90-year-old Jeanne Calment's apartment upon her death, Andre-Francois Raffray was 47 when he agreed to pay 2,500 francs a month in 1965. But Raffray died at the age of 77 and Calment went on to become the oldest woman in history, dying at 122 after Raffray had paid Calment more than double the apartment's market value over 30 years.
-Rebecca Weintraub

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Genealogical Round Up, March 26

Can't wait to see The Genealogue's treatment of this one!
Daft, Smeille, Cocks - UK names facing extinction - Local & National, News - Belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Now this my kind of tourism!
10 Fascinating Graveyards You Must See - The List Universe

Check out this article shared by Geri Ellen Neumann. Reverse migration! Russia trying to get folks with Russian ancestry to come back to the motherland.
Its Population Falling, Russia Beckons Its Children Home - NYTimes.com

Kimberly Powell has kind words for RootsTelevision.com. Thanks so much, Kimberly!
Roots Television

Cool! A blog for Rusyn peeps!
The Adventures of Maria

Very kind of Thomas to include me on this list. Much appreciated! I try to be worth people's twittertime! Am going to add an 11th suggestion because I just spotted Chris Dunham, aka The Genealogue, on twitter now! @TheGenealogue
Ten People All Genealogists Should Follow On Twitter | GeneaBloggers

Just because!
Who Are the Gerber Baby' s Parents?

It's here! For those who were asking, the Irish shamrock family tree t-shirt is back! You can get it in all green or in green and orange
St. Patrick's Day : Genealogy Gifts Store

Nice to get a shout-out on an Irish writer's site. Now, if only I could take the time for a writing retreat over there! What a treat that would be!
Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat

Leland Meitzler weighs in on RootsTelevision.com going full screen.
Roots Television Goes Full-Screen

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Honoring Our Ancestors Grants

Congrats to our recent grant recipients! Don't forget that you can apply here.  

March 2009
Tammy White was doing genealogy research with members of her family when they discovered that the Thomas/Simpson Cemetery (south of Pleasant Hill, Jackson County, MO) was so buried under weeds, thorn bushes, and trees, that you could not even tell it was a cemetery. The grant will provide funds for the continued up-keep of the cemetery, specifically stabilization of a fence that will protect the cemetery from nearby cattle.

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Upcoming Events

If you plan to be near any of the events where I'll be speaking, I would love to meet you. It's always a kick for me when folks mention that they read this newsletter, my blog, Ancestry Daily News or whatever, so don't be shy about introducing yourself!

For more information on these events, please see my Events Calendar. And if you're interested in scheduling me, just click here.

  • April 18, 2009 - Anchorage, AK - Anchorage Genealogical Society - "Introduction to Ancestry.com," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Find that Obituary! Online Newspaper Research" and "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt"
  • April 22-26, 2009 - Manchester, NH - The New England Regional Genealogical Conference 2009 - Topics TBD
  • May 30, 2009 - Marion, IN - Marion Public Library - "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "No Man Left Behind" and "Mini-Film Festival"
  • June 20, 2009 - Wichita, KS - Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies - "Trace your Roots with DNA," "Welcome to Roots Television," "Reverse Genealogy" and "Find that Obituary!"
  • September 11-13, 2009 - Spokane, WA - Eastern Washington Genealogical Society - Topics TBD
  • February 6, 2010 - San Luis Obispo, CA - San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society - "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Online Newspaper Research," "Trace Your Roots with DNA" and "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt"
  • March 20, 2010 - Round Rock, TX - Williamson County Genealogical Society - Topics TBD
  • October 16, 2010 - Louisville, KY - Louisville Genealogical Society - Details TBD

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Please forward this newsletter to your family and friends who are interested in genealogy -- thank you!

Wishing you an abundance of genealogical serendipity!
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak


Note: You are receiving this because you have demonstrated an interest (e.g., you have a story in one of my books, applied for a grant, attended previous events, etc.) or subscribed via my website, but please let me know if you do not want to receive any further emails, and I will promptly remove you from my list. And rest assured, this is my personal list and not shared with anyone else! Thanks, Megan

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