14 July 2010, Vol. 13, No. 7
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
Volunteer Opportunities
The Darkroom
You Found It
Subscriptions, Submissions,
Advertising, and Reprints
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Using RootsWeb

By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
“Genealogy is not just a pastime; it's a passion.”

Whose DNA Should You Trace?

When analyzing DNA for genealogical purposes, it’s important to look at all of your ancestral names.


As discussed a few months ago by columnist Joan Young, in DNA and Genealogy – Beyond the Paper Trail (RootsWeb Review 9 Dec. 2009, Vol. 12, No. 12), DNA tests reports on direct pedigree lines, e.g., from father to son to son, or from mother to daughter to daughter, etc.

There is no cross-over between mtDNA and Y-DNA, so your immediate family members can only be tested for these two lines.

If you are looking for other ancestry – say, for example, your deceased father’s father’s mother's markers, you can still determine them. Find someone who meets a direct descendancy criteria; this would be through a mother to son (grandfather) or mother to daughter to daughter(great aunt’s daughter) relationship.

Female Research
Known as mitochondrial or mtDNA, women inherit markers from their mothers, but not from fathers. The mitochrondion occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell, as opposed to the nucleus, and typically changes slowly from generation to generation. This is why researchers have determined that there is a “Mitochondrial Eve”, a common matrilineal (female) ancestor, from whom we all descend.

Male Research
Through the direct patrilineal lineage, we theoretically descend from “Y Chromosome Adam”, although the measurements for time periods are eons apart.

The reason for this is that men test their direct male lineage through Y-DNA, as they share a Y chromosome with their fathers (contained in the nucleus of the cell, as opposed to the egg that supplies the mtDNA).  In the case of the paternal test, a haplotype is determined, based upon Y chromosome patterns which are distinctive and easily identifiable. Men also inherit mtDNA from their mothers, which is why they are logical test subjects for extended DNA testing.

Another advantage for testing men, is that unless there were an adoption or legal name change, a son would share a surname with his father, unlike women, who unless they had not married (or coincidentally a father-son combination had married women with the same surname), the family name would change at every generation.

Who should get tested?
To solve brick walls, consider testing,

  1. Elderly male relatives, and a male at each living generation, to take an extended maternal and paternal test of at least the basic markers.
  2. Any female from a unique and direct mitochondrial line to take a basic maternal test.


  1. In my family, the mitochondrial line traces 7-generations to immigrants from Ireland. Several 32 marker tests have been submitted, and two matches of interest have surfaced. One is a 3rd generation American female of Irish descent, and the other is a male, confident of 5-generations of research on his mother's side. So far, we have not determined the common thread, but we do know that, in all likelihood
    1. The female match indicates the common ancestor is probably at the 8th generation or earlier.
    2. The male match may (and most probably does) share ancestry with the immigrant family, although the common link could be earlier.
    3. Few changes in mtDNA (known as mutations) have occurred from generation to generation.
    4. Without DNA testing, we would not have the opportunity to collaborate.
  2. Another ancestral family line came from Holland. We know the immigrant arrived in America in the mid to late 1700s, but little else. I am urging my male cousins, who share this surname, to take the paternal test, with the hope that a European match will surface.

Follow these charts to see whose DNA test would be the most beneficial for your purposes.



Follow along the colored lines to see the direct mtDNA connections. (Other mtDNA connections are noted by different colored lines and circles.) The Y DNA connections are noted by the color of the male’s box.




Whose DNA do you want?

Who can be tested?

Your own

You, a son or a daughter

Your father

Your father, your paternal grandfather (father's father only), your brother or your brother's sons (nephews)

Your mother

You, your brother, your sister, your mother, your mother's brother (uncle), your maternal grandmother (mother's mother only), your mother's sister (aunt), your 1st cousins who are children of your mother's sister or 2nd cousins via your mother's sister (assuming they are her daughter's daughters)

Your mother and father (at same time)

Yourself, if you are male, or any of your full biological brothers

Paternal grandmother (father's mother)

Your father, his brother (paternal uncle), his sister (paternal aunt), the female children of his sister or the female grandchildren of his sister (assuming they are daughter's daughters)

Paternal grandfather (father's father)

Your son, your father, paternal grandfather (himself), your father's brother (paternal uncle), your brother's son (nephew) or any male descendant that traces through the male line only.

Paternal grandmother and grandfather (at same time)

Your father or his brother (paternal uncle)

Maternal grandmother (mother's mother)

You, your mother, maternal grandmother or your mother's brother (maternal uncle)

Maternal grandfather (mother's father)

Your uncle, your uncle's sons (nephews) or paternal grandfather (mother's father)

Services which test and gather DNA results for genealogical purposes are:




RootsWeb articles of interest:

FamilyHart DNA Projects (Pennsylvania Dutch Families) by Don & Jeanine Hartman

Lost Colony Research Group (Successfully Using Autosomal Testing in Conjunction with Mitochondrial and Y-Line) by Roberta Estes

Mayflower DNA Projects (Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants) by Susan E. Roser

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Genealogy Tip

By Joan Young

DNA Terminology

In my article, DNA Beyond the Paper Trail, I introduced the benefits of adding DNA testing to your arsenal of research tools. Mary's article, included above, expands upon various aspects of DNA testing.

The feedback I received from my article indicates that genealogists often hit a stumbling block when attempting to comprehend scientific jargon. Understanding the terms can help you determine the best test(s) to meet your needs: Y-DNA, mtDNA, and/or the whole genome. Below is a quick reference guide to some of the terms you will encounter.

Chromosome: The structure by which information is physically transmitted from generation to generation. There are twenty three chromosomes made up of pairs of genes (alleles).

Alleles: Alleles are genes that are members of a pair located at a specific location on a specific chromosome. The pair of alleles may be homozygous or heterozygous.

Homozygous and Heterozygous: The root homo means "the same" and hetero means "different." Two alleles that are the same at a specific position on a specific chromosome are said to be homozygous, and two alleles that differ are heterozygous.

The twenty three chromosomes are broken down as follows:
The sex chromosomes: X and Y are the "sex chromosomes" because they determine sex and are different depending upon your sex. Y is commonly used in DNA testing for genealogical purposes because it is inherited intact by male children in a specific pattern from their father. Females inherit two X chromosomes (one from each parent) and males inherit a single X from their mother and a Y from their father.
Autosomes: These chromosomes are not involved in sex determination. Twenty two of our twenty three chromosomes are autosomal (non sex-linked). Autosomal DNA makes up, by far, the greatest amount of DNA but until recently was largely ignored by genealogists because it is not inherited intact and can't be traced to a common ancestor. Autosomal DNA is not tested in Y-DNA testing but is in whole genome testing.

Mutations: Mutations lead to finding relationships through DNA testing because they are what make you and your cousins "different" from everyone else.

Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP): SNPs determine our Haplogroup. (Y Haplogroup and mtDNA Haplogroup.) They represent successful mutations that stuck and spread within a segment of the population. For a mutation to be considered a SNP it must be found in at least 1% of the population. SNPs mutate infrequently once established.

Short tandem repeats (STR): Short sequences of DNA, normally of length 2-5 base pairs, that are repeated numerous times in a head-tail manner. STRs are polymorphisms represented by the different number of copies of the repeat element that can occur in a population of individuals. STRs mutate slowly at a relatively predictable rate. STRs are used for Y-DNA testing and the greater number of markers tested the greater degree of reliability of the results. A marker is a gene of known location on a chromosome used for comparison purposes.

mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA): Genetic material not inherited in the chromosomes. mtDNA is inherited from the mother via the egg and passed along intact to all offspring regardless of sex. Only female offspring pass the mtDNA to their children. mtDNA testing tests only the very bottom line of the pedigree.

Haplogroups: broad groupings of people who share an ancient ancestral relationship (thousands of years ago) through Y-DNA (paternal) or mtDNA (maternal) lines. SNPs determine our Haplogroups but STRs are also used to predict the Y Haplogroup. When Haplogroups are tested down to a deeper level (called Deep Clade Testing) where there is a branching off of sub groups, the results are referred to as Subclades.
Whole genome testing: While not every gene is tested, the most significant genes for ancestral and medical purposes are tested on all twenty three chromosomes. While whole genome testing can't determine from which ancestor or line a gene or segment of genes is inherited, it can prove a common inheritance from an ancestor--any ancestor. It is left to those who match to determine the connection. This type of testing can cover the entire pedigree--not just the top (paternal) and bottom (maternal) lines and can provide information about over-all ethnicity (African, Northern European, East Asian for example). The greater the number of matching segments on any of the chromosomes and the larger the matching segments, the closer the relation between test subjects. In addition to genealogical information, whole genome testing can tell you about medical risk factors and carrier status for a variety of medical conditions and traits.

You can find more definitions of commonly used words in DNA research here:

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Mechanicsville, Iowa Meets Spring, Texas

In May of 2010 I wanted to complete an application for the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I still needed to locate a marriage record for Genevieve Tyler and Elliott Dresser in Mechanicsville, Cedar Co., Iowa in 1881.  Years ago I had written to the Mechanicsville Town Clerk and the State of Iowa, Vital records department for a copy of the marriage license.  Both had replied that they did not keep marriage licenses for that period of time.  I reviewed a copy of Genevieve's memoirs that I had inherited for additional clues that I might have missed.  She noted that they “were married…November 22, 1881…in the beautiful Manse owned by…Edgar F. Wells…, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsville”. Ah!! Ah!!! There was the clue. Perhaps Pastor Wells had recorded the marriage in the church books?  Was there a Presbyterian Church still in operation in Mechanicsville?

Looking on the Internet, I found there was still a First Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsville established in 1855.  The bad news was there had been a fire in 1917 that had gutted the church.  My chances of obtaining a marriage record were slim, but just maybe they had saved the church records from the fire or perhaps the records had been kept in the Manse at the time of the fire.

I wrote to see if they had the illusive marriage record.  One week later I received my self-addressed envelope stamped “Mechanicsville, Iowa”.  It was a response from the Clerk of Session, Dorothy Russell.  It contained a nice letter with a copy of the marriage record including names of witnesses, a photograph of Reverend Wells, a photo of the church organist who was a witness at the wedding and a photo of the Manse as it was circ. 1880 and a second photo of the house as it looks now (it was moved from West of town to another location).  I was very grateful to have these photos and documents, so I sent a check for $20.00 as a donation to the church along with a “thank you” letter.

To my surprise we received a visit from a member of that church during the following month.  They were passing through Texas on the way to Tennessee.  During the 30 minutes we spent together, we learned more about Mechanicsville and the church and they took pictures a picture of me next to a painting by Genevieve to share with the congregation.  What a pleasant surprise. 

Thanks to Andrea Blodgett in Spring, Texas
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Oral Histories

I am currently in the process of interviewing some of the older residents of our community. Most of these folks are the eldest of families who have lived here for five or more generations. There is a wealth of information that I know I can glean from these folks. I would really love to hear how others have approached/attempted this kind of interview. We are fortunate enough to be able to have the sessions professionally recorded (audio), and I think that I would like to mesh the audio with photos of the community.

Thanks to Elisabeth Tissiere

Name Change Challenges

My father attended a boarding school in the United States during the 1930s.  The school had a series of English exchange students.  The student in my father's class had the first name of Richard.  However, the first exchange student had the first name of Gus and, as a result, each English exchange student was known as Gus.  To my siblings and I, he was known as Uncle Gus.

This went on for many years with no consequences.  But in 1961, my family went to Europe and went to London among many places.  As it happened, Uncle Gus was home visiting his parents (he lived in California at the time).  At one point, something was said that one of us children (aged 10 to 19) did not understand, so we said, "Uncle Gus, what do you mean?"  His parents looked at their son and then at us.  He had apparently never told his parents what his name had been in the U.S. or at least for those who had known him at the school and after.

Thanks to Howland Davis

A Naming Saga

Names in my family have always been changeable, mine included.  In first grade, some kid in school did something wrong, so all the Michaels were called in to the principals' office.  That was enough for me, so when I got home that afternoon, I announced that I was going to go by my middle name, Jordan.  I used that, shortened to Jordi, until I went into the Air Force, and have used Michael, mostly, ever since.  My dad used Robert, Bob, Delmar, Del at various times throughout his life.  His mom called him Delmer, with her Woodland, California accent.  My aunt went by Dorothy, Lucky, Irene, Lee, Bunky and maybe others that I'm not sure of.  My mother did the same.  Her mother was not married when each of her children were born of at least three different fathers, so her name came from her grandfather.  She was Lily Evenda Soper, but on her different marriage licenses she listed her maiden name as Lily Andrews or Lily Soper, getting the Andrews from her grandfather's first name Andrew.

The main reason for this note is the name of my grandfather, Robert Vernet Lee.  He was born in 1898 in Alameda, CA, the third youngest of 21 children.  Some family members had been in California since the gold rush.  His grandfather, Abner Lee, had died during the war in Andersonville.  As a northern family with a number of civil war veterans, names were important.

When Robert was born, his mother named him ROBERT LEE.  That was not acceptable to the family and one of his uncles declared that no nephew of his would carry that name, so he stated that the name would be VERNET, after one of his old friends.  Therefore, my grandfather was not ever called Robert. Vernet was his name.  He worked as an engineer for Southern Pacific all his life, and only when he retired and had to provide his birth certificate did he find out that his real name was not Vernet.  It was never in his records, including Social Security.   He always had gone by R.V. Lee, using Vernet.

As you can see, it has been quite difficult keeping track of all these names.

Thanks to Mike Lee (really)

Have a story, question, genealogy resource, or tip you’d like to share with RootsWeb Review readers? Send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the editor or of RootsWeb.com.

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Salt Lake Family History Expo is back and bigger than ever! Don’t miss it, Aug. 27-28, South Towne Expo Center, Sandy, UT. New techniques and technology empower you to trace your roots! Nation’s finest genealogists and researchers share experience, information, advice in captivating classes to help you learn the tech to trace your roots. Great for beginners to sage professionals. Network with others who share your passion for family history research. Shop for and try new products designed to assist in discovering and honoring your family. Win fantastic door prizes too! Visit www.fhexpos.com/expos to register right now or call 801-829-3295.


ANCESTOR SEEKERS researchers at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will search this vast collection of records from the United States, Canada, Italy, Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other European countries. Friendly service, affordable prices.

For a no-obligation research assessment visit AncestorSeekers.com.

Or join us 29 November - 4 December 2010 for our 18th Salt Lake City Research Trip – the dream genealogy vacation! Click or call toll-free at 877-402-6846.

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What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
New User-contributed Databases at RootsWeb

US Cemetery Records: Cemetery Listings, 122 records; Kristie Linn

KENTUCKY, Logan County. Emancipations in Logan Co., KY, court records, 408 records; Judy Lyne

US Death Records: Death Records, 236 records; Kristie Linn

ALABAMA, Madison County. Deaths of Madison County, Alabama, 45650 records; Stephen W. Scott

NORTH CAROLINA, Alexander County County. Alexander County Deaths, 23 records; Anthony L.

NORTH CAROLINA, Caldwell County County. Caldwell County Deaths, 23 records; Anthony L.

NORTH CAROLINA, Catawba County County. Catawba County Deaths<, 22 records; Anthony L.

NORTH CAROLINA, Iredell County County. Iredell County Deaths, 18 records; Anthony L.

PENNSYLVANIA, Beaver County. Grove Cemetery Records, New Brighton, PA, 63 records; Mary T Jones

TEXAS, Fannin County. Death Index Fanin County Texas, 48763 records; Stephen W. Scott

Submit Your Genealogical Data to a RootsWeb Database at
(http://userdb.rootsweb.ancestry.com/submit/) .

New/Updated Freepages by Individuals

Our Maternal And Paternal Ancestors: 350 Years Of History In America features three separate family sub-sites as follows: (1) DELLINGER, KNECHT, PFEFFER, SILAR and allied families; (2) BOZARTH, PEIFFER, QUIGLEY, RHUBART and allied families; and (3) MORELAND, MCVICKER, PINNELL, SCRUGGS and allied families.

If you have a new or substantially revised freepage at RootsWeb and would like to see it mentioned here, send the URL, the title, and a BRIEF description, including major surnames, to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

If your genealogy- or history-related site is located somewhere other than RootsWeb, you can add the link to RootsWeb here.

Request a Free Web Site Account.

New/Updated Websites for Counties, States, and Historical Societies

DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
NSCAR = National Society Children of the American Revolution
OPC = Online Parrish Clerks


  • altttp — Alabama State Trails to the Past
  • catttp — California State Trails to the Past
  • flipf — Indigenous Peoples of Florida USGW
  • floscudc — Osceola Chapter (FL) United Daughters of the Confederacy
  • gachero2 — Cherokee County (GA) USGenWeb
  • gaspaltp — Spalding County (GA) Trails to the Past
  • inrush2 — Rush County, Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries Restoration Project
  • kylcgs — Logan County (KY) Genealogical Society
  • kymchs — Montgomery County (KY) Historical Society
  • latttp — Louisiana State Trails to the Past
  • mevienna — Vienna Township (Maine)
  • ncrowatp — Rowan County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • ncwatatp — Watauga County (NC) Trails to the Past
  • njhunttp — Hunterdon County (NJ) Trails to the Past
  • nvtttp — Nevada State Trails to the Past
  • nycmwdar — Col. Marinus Willett-Mohawk Valley Chapter (NY) DAR
  • ohdhcdar — David Hudson Chapter (OH) DAR
  • papiketp — Pike County (PA) Trails to the Past
  • scaiketp — Aiken County (SC) Trails to the Past
  • scedgetp — Edgefield County (SC) Trails to the Past
  • scgreetp — Greenville County (SC) Trails to the Past
  • sctbcdar — Theodesia Burr Chapter (SC) DAR
  • tnowrdar — Old Walton Road Chapter (TN) DAR
  • txjascar — John Alden Society (TX) NSCAR
  • uttttp — Utah State Trails to the Past


  • engllopc — Lillington & Longburton Parishes (Cornwall, England) OPC
  • nzphoto — New Zealand Historical Photos
  • ukwadgs — The Waddelow Society (UK)

Some of these Web pages might not be accessible yet. They are created by volunteers, so if one that interests you isn’t up yet, please check again in a few days or next week. These sites are accessible at www.rootsweb.com/~xxxxxx, where xxxxxx is the account/site name.

Note that the ~[tilde] before the Web account name is required.
For example, the Alabama State Trails to the Past web site is at

Request a Free Web Site Account.

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • AEOLIAN-ISLANDS — A mailing list for the discussion of genealogy and history related to the Aolian Islands off the coast of Sicily.
  • SC-HORNS-CREEK-BAPTIST — A mailing list for the exchange of information concerning the history and families of Historic Horn's Creek Baptist Church in Edgefield, South Carolina. The church is on the National Registry.  The burial ground is currently undergoing preservation activities.

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • CEMETERIES-HISTORIC-PRESERVATION —  Many old historic cemeteries have fallen into disrepair and neglect. As families move far from their roots, they do not know how to preserve the burial grounds of their ancestors. This list will serve as a resource for those interested in historic preservation of cemeteries.

To find or subscribe to a mailing list, or to search archived posts to more than 30,000 RootsWeb-hosted genealogy mailing lists, go here.

Request a Mailing List.

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Volunteer Opportunities

Are you looking for an opportunity to give back to the genealogy community?
Check this section to learn more about some of our hosted projects and other projects you can participate in.

The World Archives Project is helping to keep the world’s stories alive. You can too by typing information from historical records into searchable online collections that are available to the public for free. Learn more.

New projects to Key:

California Railroad Employment Records
NSW, Depasturing Licences
Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime
Langenstein-Zweiberge Camp Inmate Cards, 1944-1945

For a complete list of projects to key, and search click here.

If you know of genealogically related volunteer opportunities please email Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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The Darkroom

This is my father, Clifford W. Buck, in 1918 prior to his sailing to France as part of the Signal Corps, Rainbow Division. He was born in Succasunna, Morris Co., NJ on Jan. 14, 1891 and died in Winter Park, FL on April 18, 1978. He found his wartime experiences so horrific that he would not allow my brother and I to have even a toy gun.

Thanks to Ruth Clark in Bristol, Tennessee

For a chance to see your ancestor’s photo in the RootsWeb Review, send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com. Make sure to include your name and a brief description of the photograph.

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You Found It
A Rose Is A Rose

My father was the manager of F.W.Woolworth stores during WWII and there were a number of employees through the years with funny names but the one which stuck in my memory was a lady named Ima Rose Busch.

Thanks to Margaret
This Will Grow on You

While working in the health care field, I saw many funny names.  But the one which always comes to mind first was an elderly lady who wore seven skirts that day and did not speak one word through her entire visit to the office.  Her name was Elvira Hairychin.

Thanks to Jean Sietsema
A Mechanic?

When I was quite young, I remember my parents chuckling about the name of a man they knew. His name was "Otto Gears'. Not sure of the spelling.

Thanks to John Smith
What A Kick

My mother, born in 1922, listed one fellow classmates at grade school as Ben Dover,
who was tormented by the jest, "Ben Dover, and I'll kick you."

Thanks to Becky Burns Chappelle in Addison, Alabama

Found a funny name or humorous tidbit in old records, or an amusing entry in census, parish, church, or other records? Send these and other genealogy-related humor/humour items to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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