Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter

May 15, 2007

By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Megan Smolenyak SmolenyakGreetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Boy, the last month has been a whirlwind! I've been to Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, Utah and England. Phew! There's a lot going on in the genealogical world, eh? Here's hoping that your last month has been a little less hectic, but wildly productive in terms of family history discoveries -- and that you'll find a useful tidbit or two in this issue. Happy hunting!


In this newsletter. . .

RootsTube Contest! Win $500!

As you may or may not know, I'm one of the founders of Roots Television, so I wanted to be sure to tell you about the improvements we've made -- not to mention our RootsTube contest! Please consider entering and spread the word!


Roots Television, LLC (www.rootstelevision.com) wants everyone to flaunt their roots! Launched just a few months ago, this first-ever online home for family history programming boasts 20 channels of great shows for the roots-enthusiast – all available 24/7 and almost all for free. And now viewers have the opportunity to submit their own video through the freshly introduced RootsTube channel and win $500!

Yes, it's finally here! The perfect way for millions of genealogists around the globe to share their sleuthing adventures, family reunion mishaps, cemetery explorations, interviews with WWII vets, trips to the old country, or even the local society's monthly lectures. With a few easy-to-follow instructions, anyone can put their video out there for fellow roots-lovers to enjoy.

To celebrate the launch of RootsTube, Roots Television™ is holding a Wild Roots! contest. While submissions of all things genealogical are welcome, viewers are invited to tell the world about the craziest thing they ever did in their quest to learn about their heritage. Did you accidentally pull an all-nighter at your computer? Did you cross a field with a bull in it to get to an old cemetery? Did you purposely get yourself locked into a library overnight? If so, we want to hear about it. You can tell your tale directly to the camera, re-enact it, animate it, use hand puppets or whatever appeals to you. Do it by yourself or with your sister, research buddies, fellow society members, or that 6th cousin of yours in New Zealand. All countries and languages welcome! On May 15, 2007, Roots Television will select and announce the winner of the Wild Roots! contest.

While you're at it, why not take a few minutes to explore what else Roots Television™ has to offer? Check out our recently unveiled new look that makes it easier than ever to navigate around our 20 channels that include DNA, Military, Kids, Dearly Departed, African Roots, How To and more. Watch your favorite speakers at national conferences, peek over Flat Stanley's shoulder as he does his roots, or see how Bob Zins used DNA testing to find out who his real father was. Browse the program guide to see what must-see video you might be missing. While you're there, subscribe to the Og Blog or our newsletter to keep up on the latest programs – and keep an eye out for an exciting new original series coming soon!

About Roots Television, LLC
Headquartered in Utah, Roots Television, LLC is an independent media company that is the brainchild of national media producer Marcy Brown and professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, her real name).

Largely a virtual operation with partners scattered around the globe, Roots Television™ takes a broad view of family history and is committed to providing programming – both original and from talented producers and independent filmmakers around the world – that appeals to avid genealogists and family history lovers of all stripes.

Whether you're an archives hound, scrapbooker, cousin collector, roots-travel enthusiast, Civil War re-enactor, DNA fan, reunion instigator, sepia-toned photos zealot, Internet-junkie, history buff, old country traditions follower, cemetery devotee, story-teller, multicultural food aficionado, flea market and antiques fanatic, family documentarian, nostalgia nut, or mystery-solver, Roots Television™ has something for you -- and that "something" is quality programming.

Sam Butterworth

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Annie, Anthon & Fillik

Noticed that FindMyPast added another decade's worth of departure records from the UK, so had to go playing again. Now they have the records for 1890-1919 (minus the Titanic, which they intend to add shortly).

This time I spotted a record that had eluded me before: Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island, leaving Ireland for New York. Check out the image below.

View image

It was interesting to see that she's listed as 15, although we now know that's off by a couple of years. But it was her brothers' names that I was most entertained by -- little Anthon and Fillik, good Irish names!

BTW, in an earlier post about FindMyPast, I included Bob Hope's departure record. Take a peek, if you're interested.

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Haplogroup Cheatsheet

If you're one of the many who's done deep ancestry testing (say, through the Genographic Project), but don't understand what that letter you've been assigned means, take a look at Georgia Bopp's Haplogroup Chart that boils it down to the very basics -- that is, the locales for major Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups. And if that leaves you wanting more, scroll down and click through to some of the map and migration links offered. Handy resource, Georgia!

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Utiliser des poupées!

I just love the internet! What a kick to see our Roots Television Wild Roots! contest blogged in French!

My sincerest apologies to the blogger who was forced to translate phrases like "cross a field with a bull in it" and "use hand puppets," but I certainly enjoyed the results! And I greatly appreciate your letting folks know about our contest. Maybe the $500 winner will come from France!

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More WWII Airmen Identified

You may or may not be aware that I assist the U.S. Army with locating families of servicemen who are still unaccounted for from WWII, Korea and Southeast Asia. Since I'm an Army brat, this work carries a lot of meaning for me.

In any case, the pace of identification seems to have really picked up of late and I was especially delighted to spot this article:

10 Missing WWII Airmen Identified

Researchers are usually not told what happens with cases after they're submitted, so I was very pleased to see that four of the servicemen -- 2nd Lt. Donald F. Grady, Staff Sgt. Thomas G. Knight, Staff Sgt. Norman L. Nell, and Staff Sgt. Blair W. Smith -- were among my cases. To know that they're finally being given a proper burial and honors -- well, I think it's one of the best applications of genealogy possible and I feel privileged to be even a tiny part of it all.

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Underground Railroad

Want to learn more about the experience of trying to make your way to freedom via the Underground Railroad? Check out this gently interactive offering from National Geographic:

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The Swishers Club, Wisconsin Chapter

A thousand thank yous to my wonderful hosts at the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society's Gene-a-Rama! I had a blast and hope the same is true of all those who attended. I think we must have covered just about every DNA scenario under the sun!

And as you can see above, a few were kind enough to indulge me by taking their SMGF DNA tests on the spot and joining what I've taken to referring as The Swishers Club. Thanks for being such good sports!

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High Tide at Ellis Island 100 Years Ago

So it was exactly 100 years ago today that the largest number of people -- almost 12,000 -- arrived at Ellis Island on a single day. Out of curiosity, I went poking around the arrivals for that date. Turns out a lot of Dutch families heading for Michigan arrived on April 17, 1907. Not sure why, but they're heavily represented. Of course, you can find a little of everything -- Italian, Swedish, British, Jewish, whatever. Probably a typical day for the folks who worked there except for the sheer volume they were trying to process.

I did trip across a sad tale in the arrival records that day. Search on Olga Hermansen (and incidentally, everyone can search the Immigration Collection at Ancestry.com for free until the end of April) and you'll find a 23-year-old Swedish woman who died on board just two days prior to arriving. The manifest even notes where her body was taken and what she died of. Apparently, she died in childbirth, which make the story even sadder. Her husband and toddler daughter (Carl and Ellen) must have been heart-broken. I found them in census records in Cornell, NY using the surname of Beck (discarded the patronymic) and was able to determine that he didn't remarry for about 12 years.

I realize this is a melancholy immigrant tale to share, but it's part of the bigger story of the American Dream and illustrative of just how much those seemingly dry pieces of paper have to tell us. And I hope it's some small consolation that 100 years and 2 days after her death, Olga is being remembered by others.

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The Godfather of Soul's Daughters

I had an opportunity to speak at the National Action Network's convention in New York last month. That means that I got to mingle with the likes of Rev. Al Sharpton, Howard Dean and Ed Koch, but for me, perhaps the biggest kick was getting to meet Deanna and Yamma, two of James Brown's daughters. What a family legacy they have, eh?!

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Are You My Daddy?

Well, this is an interesting application of genetic genealogy. A little on the ambitious side, but I understand the urge that's driving him. Will be interesting to see if he eventually succeeds.

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What's Chow Chow?

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings was kind enough to post about one of my orphan heirloom rescues, so I guess I'll piggyback off of him. This one was called From Carol to Karolyn, and -- in addition to walking you through a case study -- answers the age-old question I know so many of you have been pondering: What the heck is chow chow? Well, wonder no more.

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Czech This Out!

Now this is an intriguing application of genetic genealogy (aka genetealogy)! If only I could get them to expand the project next door to include Slovakia, where my Smolenyaks come from. Of course, we're pure serf stock, but there's always that prince and the pauper possibility, eh?

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StoryCorps in Your Hood?

I spoke at NERGC in Hartford, CT in April (thanks for having me! see you again in 2009!) and spotted this while strolling around the area:

Imagine if all of us attending the conference had known in advance that they were going to be in town! They would have been booked solid.

If you're not familiar with StoryCorps, take a little time to poke around their website. And if you want to see whether they'll be in your area, check out their locations and travel plans. Maybe you can schedule a session and share your story to be held for posterity at the Library of Congress!

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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.

  • June 8-10, 2007 - Burbank, CA - Southern California Genealogical Society - "Reverse Genealogy Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Remembering Our Ancestors" and "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • August 4, 2007 - Newport News, VA - Tidewater Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • August 15-18, 2007 - Fort Wayne, IN - FGS/ACPL Conference: Meeting at the Crossroads of America - "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Find That Obituary! Online Newspaper Research," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Trace Your Roots with DNA" and "The Quest for Ellis Island Annie"
  • September 29, 2007 - Manassas, VA - Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center (RELIC) for Genealogy and Local History - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • September 30, 2007 - Purcellville, VA - Loudoun County Public Library - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • October 4-6, 2007 - Marshalltown, IA - Iowa Genealogical Society Annual Fall Conference - "The Quest for Annie Moore," "Find That Obituary! Online Newspaper Research," "Remembering Our Ancestors," "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options" and "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt"
  • October 21, 2007 - Wilmington, DE - Delaware Genealogical Society - "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • October 28-November 4, 2007 - 2007 Genealogy Conference and Cruise - hosted by Wholly Genes Software - "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones" and "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt"
  • March 1, 2008 - Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones" and "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • April 12, 2008 - Pittsburgh, PA - Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society - Details TBD.
  • April 26, 2008 - Topeka, KS - Topeka Genealogical Society - Details TBD.
  • May 2-3, 2008 - Lincoln, NE - Nebraska State Genealogical Society - Details TBD.
  • September 20, 2008 - Bangor, ME - Maine Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt' and "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • April 22-26, 2009 - Manchester, NH - The New England Regional Genealogical Conference 2009 - Topics 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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