Posts tagged ‘Ancestry’

To DNA…or Not To DNA….That is the question!!

I have been pondering having my genealogical DNA done for quite a while now….and yesterday I took the plunge!!

It really wasn’t that I didn’t WANT to have my DNA done…I truly have wanted to get into the spit pool for a long time.  Its just that circumstances always seemed to block that path. Well, Friday an AncestryDNA kit arrived in my mailbox.  Saturday morning I sent it back to them.  It really was a fairly easy process…And I thought I would share all the details with my followers.

AncestryDNA Kit

AncestryDNA Kit

Here it is…my kit.  The box was smaller than I expected…I’m not sure why I thought it was going to be a big box with a complicated process, but I did.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  It was about 5″x7″…very compact and well thought out.  I held on to it for a few minutes, thinking about all the possibilities of what the test might prove and the doors it might open.  …then I opened it.

The first thing you see when you open the kit..

The first thing you see when you open the kit.

This was the first thing that I saw when I opened the kit…its a very easy to understand instruction folder that walks you thru every step of the process.  Step 1 – Activate Kit Online.  This was super easy!!  It only took about 5 minutes and that’s because I was nervous and double and triple checked everything I typed or clicked on.  I set it to connect to a family tree I already had on Ancestry.com, but will be uploading my correct tree in the next few weeks and will switch the connection to that one soon.  You MUST have a tree to connect it to or you won’t get any connecting results.  To activate the kit and connect it to you, there is a 15-digit code that is on the collection tube that you use.  It’s your DNA’s identity code.  They advise that you mark down the code on the space provided on this instruction folder…Mine also had it typed out on a sticker on the back of the folder….So far…EASY PEASY!

Under the Welcome/Instruction folder.

Under the Welcome/Instruction folder.

This was the rest of the kit…The collection tube and stabilizer on the left, the plastic “bio-hazard” bag, and the Postage Paid mailer box.  Really simple so far.  I took each item out and checked out the process.  I can do this!!  I finished reading the instructions and immediately realized I GOOFED!!!  As I was doing this I was eating breakfast.  There is a big warning on “Step 2 – Gather DNA” that says “Do NOT eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum for 30 minutes before giving your saliva sample.”  DARN IT!!  Oh well…can’t change it now…I’ve already started eating my oatmeal…so I’m finishing my breakfast and then I’ll go brush my teeth to make sure no oatmeal gets into the test.

You always have to wait for the good things in life.

You always have to wait for the good things in life.

Tick Tock….Tick Tock…I sat watching the timer waiting for at least 30 minutes so I could begin my test.  I could’ve used my time a little better by doing laundry, washing dishes, or getting the house cleaned up…but instead I sat and watched the time slowly count down….Tick Tock…Tick Tock….BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!  SUCCESS…It’s been 30 minutes….

I took a couple extra minutes to catch my breath….And I slowly opened the container that held the collection vial and the stabilizing solution.  The instructions state simply to “Fill the tube with saliva to the black wavy line”…That’s easy enough.  OK…Maybe not.  All of a sudden my mouth went dry!  I’m panicking.  I remembered reading on a couple Facebook pages that people had to do their DNA test over because they had too many bubbles…not enough sample…contaminated sample…etc.  “What if” started racing thru my brain.  I can’t mess this up…my ancestors are counting on me!!!  I took another deep breath…and started spitting into the tube….as I did it I realized it really wasn’t that bad…they only needed  about 1/4 teaspoon…which isn’t much.  I kept tapping the vial on the table to try to pop some of the bubbles…and it was filling pretty quick.  It only took about 5 minutes to make sure that the sample was just above the wavy line (not including the bubbles)…and then I relaxed a bit.  The picture is a bit deceiving…the collection area isn’t the entire bottom of the vial…the collection area is really only about a 1/4 inch in depth…The bottom of the tube is empty!

Fill with spit to the wavy line (not including the bubbles)...

Fill with spit to the wavy line (not including the bubbles)…

Next step is to take the funnel off the top and replace the funnel with the “cap”…it contains a stabilizing solution to stabilize the DNA in my saliva….

Take off the funnel and screw on the stabilizer solution...

Take off the funnel and screw on the stabilizer solution…

See the blue tint to the cap…that’s the solution.  When you tighten the cap, this solution drops into your DNA sample…

When the cap is tight the fluid will drop...shake it for at least 5 minutes.

When the cap is tight the fluid will drop…shake it for at least 5 minutes.

Perfect!  So far so good…..Now I just have to shake it for at least 5 seconds to mix the stabilizing solution with my DNA….this helps the lab process the sample easier.

Insert vial into the protective bag...

Insert vial into the protective bag…

Now its just a simple packaging….drop the vial in the protective Bio-Hazard Bag….

Put in Postage Free box...

Put in Postage Free box…

Pop it in the postage paid mailing box….

Close and seal it up.....its ready to go!

Close and seal it up…..its ready to go!

And seal it with the self adhesive strip…Super Simple…Very little room for error.  Now there is just one more step for the day…I jumped in my Jeep and drove to the Post Office…

Drop in the nearest mailbox....

Drop in the nearest mailbox….

I think at this point I started to breathe again.  I kept thinking about my ancestors and what they might think of this whole process.  Would they be grossed out?  Would they be scared of the technology?  I don’t think any of them would understand it….and that’s ok.  Right at the moment I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the whole process.

Unfortunately, now the waiting begins.  It’s going to take 6-8 weeks before I receive any results…and I’m still not sure how to interpret them…but I’m learning.  I’ve been doing the research…watching the webinars and videos…and taking lots of notes.  It might be easier once I have my own results back to use as an example.

I will chronicle my process here on my blog as this whole thing begins to unfold.  I will share EVERYTHING!  Where my ancestors came from…what the ethnicity results are…all the good and the bad that will soon be revealed.  So stay tuned!!!

Until the results come back I will continue to move my research forward.  Now that I’m back here in my blog I will help you all follow my steps…my research…my struggles…my questions…my trips…and even my failures.  The Genealogy Fanatic is BACK!!!

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How did I get all these little pieces of paper…..

I am sitting in the middle of my living room with little scraps of paper all over the place.  I wish I could blame my puppy for the mess, but it’s all my fault.  I had this brilliant idea recently that I was finally going to organize all my genealogy files and paperwork into Surname Notebooks.  It sounded like a great idea, but I think someone needs to have me committed…I MUST BE CRAZY!!!!

messy-desk

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed when I made this choice and now I’m EXTREMELY overwhelmed.  By the time I pulled every file, stack of papers, bits of scrap paper with information jotted on it, and booted up my computer, I had more that I ever imagined possible.  But I couldn’t stop there.  I needed a sense of accomplishment on this project and also I desperately needed to make sure I had everything possible on my ancestors in my computer as well as their paper files.  I figured I better try to tackle this before it totally gets out of hand. <TOO LATE!!!>

STEP 1 – Make the notebooks

This was the easy part!  I grabbed 5 notebooks and made covers and spines for them.  They look really nice with the family Surname in fancy print and a copy of each surname crest.  Simple enough….I’m a graphic designer.  This part I could do with my eyes closed.

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STEP 2 – Separating the pile

Now this part took some time.  I literally sat on the floor with the huge pile of papers in front of me and I sorted them, one at a time into piles by Surname.  Not bad….it only took me about an hour.  By this time I was beginning to see that there were several of my family lines that I could probably handle pretty quickly.  So I matched up each pile with the corresponding notebook.  At least my living room floor looked good again….until I let the puppy back in….then it was covered in a different kind of clutter.

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STEP 3 – One Notebook at a Time

It’s probably cheating, but I took the notebook with the least amount of papers and started with that one.  Yeah…it was a cop-out….but what can I say.  I needed to see some more progress at this point.  Again, I sat on the floor and started sorting the papers.  This time by individual.  It actually was going pretty smooth…then I realized that I had some people that, obviously, crossed Surnames.  My Grandma Anna would actually be in 3 notebooks (her Maiden Name book, and also in the Surname books of both of her husbands).  Fortunately I was finding some duplicate papers, so I didn’t need to make a lot of photocopies.

STEP 4 – Making sure the information is in the computer

OK…so this one was definitely NOT the most fun…but it was a VERY necessary part of the organization project.  Once my notebooks were assembled I made sure that every document was carefully read and the information entered into my software program.  This served 2 purposes….I was sure I had the information logged, and it made me re-read each document.  I actually found several pieces of information that I had missed before.  I also made sure I had each item scanned and uploaded as media to my genealogy software.  This took more time than all the remaining organization steps combined….actually, I’m still working on this one.  But I still moved forward with the next step…

STEP 5 – Genealogical Cemetery Reports

This was a new step for me.  Something that I’ve been wanting to do, but just haven’t had the time or the desire to get it done.  Each “report” is individualized with an ancestors name and vital information along with a picture of their headstone, urn, etc.  There is also cemetery information or cremains location information and information on their Find a Grave Memorial.  As part of this process, I created a Find a Grave Memorial for each relative as I was creating these reports.

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I do have one additional step that I’m working on and it will be a continuous process.  Making a list of what I still need….by individual.  This is going to be a very important step for me, as I found out I have duplicates of several documents.  Things I didn’t remember I had because it was in a pile somewhere.  Now I know what I have and what I still need.

NOW WHAT…..

Well…Truthfully…I’m not sure.  I’m still working on making sure that all the information is in the computer and scanned…and I’m still photographing graves and entering info into the Cemetery Reports.  But I know this for sure….I’m feeling much more organized and a little more sure of what I have and what I’m missing.  A little organization has gone a long way in helping me feel much better about my project…and my house!  I no longer get frustrated that I’m missing a little piece of paper that I wrote a couple dates on.  They have all been put where they belong…..FOR NOW!  The trick will be to keep the system going and not go back to my addiction for little pieces of paper.  I might need to create my own 12-step program eventually!

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The final project…not complete…but, truthfully, they never will be totally complete!

Come out…Come out…Wherever you are?!?!?!

I can’t believe my ancestors would hide from me on purpose….I want to believe they are just shy…after all, most of them have never even met me.  I’ve tried everything.  Internet searching…name changing…even yelling “olly olly oxen free”….but still they remain hidden just out of sight.  OK…so I’m not really playing a game of Hide and Seek with my ancestors…I’m searching for them in US Census reports.  Some days I’d really rather be playing a game of Hide and Seek.  At least with the game, everyone comes out at the end.  But how do I get my ancestors to come out of their hiding places?  The only answer to this one is patience…and lots of time.

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I recently went thru my family files and realized that I’m missing quite a few US Census reports on a bunch of my ancestors.  Most of the missing Census reports are from the 1920 Census.  After I looked at my list I actually wondered if I EVER checked the 1920 Census!  There were a LOT of holes in this one….more than a piece of Swiss Cheese!  So…off to the computer I went…I had to fix this problem.

Now you know as well as I do…Indexing of Census Records is not all its cracked up to be.  You put in the name of your ancestor and most of the time you don’t get what you’re looking for.  So what is a genealogist to do?  Keep looking is the only answer.

Now, I know that most of my Italian ancestors, in 1920, would’ve been in the Chicago, IL area…the family didn’t move to Southwest Michigan until the mid-1920’s…at least that I know of.  I really didn’t want to have to check the 1920 census page by page in an area as large as Chicago. So I headed back to my paper files…I needed some connections to look for to try and find those missing ancestors.  My first thought was to gather all the names of the ancestors in 1920 that I HAD found in the census reports.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t many….but it might just be enough.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my relatives, its that they all stuck together.  One didn’t move very far from another.  So if I could find a common area among the one’s I did have, I might be able to find some more of them.  NOTE TO SELF:  Remember to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check the page before and after the relatives that you find.  You never know who might be lurking down the street, or be their backyard neighbor.

So I knew my Great Grandparents were in Chicago…their names were Elia and Giovanna Giudice…Unusual, Yes!…but not the most difficult names in the world.  However…if you were a census taker in 1920 Chicago, I’m sure you were extremely frustrated with all the immigrants, their unusual accents, and trying to record all these strange names.  I give them a LOT of credit.  I’m not sure it’s a job I would want to take on myself!  Anyway…I try to find Giovanna…I find absolutely NOTHING…so I try her name as Jennie…I know some of the family referred to them as Leo and Jennie, and I’ve seen those names related to them on other documents.  BINGO!  I have a hit for Jennie Giudice.  Now…this is where the fun starts……….

Jennie Giudice, my great grandmother, is living in Chicago…at 2246 Wentworth Avenue to be exact.  She is living with (or at least “in the home” with), her daughter Sarah (actually it was Sadie), son-in-law Tony, and granddaughter Mary.  But where is Elia (or maybe his name is Leo now).  I know both of them are still living…they died within a few months of each other in 1937 and I’ve visited their graves many times….in Michigan.  So…I start checking beyond their address…not a difficult task…right below Jennie is her son, Dominick at a house either next door or across the street.  Looking further on Wentworth Avenue I find Joe Giudice, Jennie’s son, at 2216.  So this is the right neighborhood…

I take a step back and look at the enumeration district…I’m in Chicago Ward 1, District 34…but I’m on page 22 of 44 pages.  So instead of just looking a page ahead and a page behind them I figured what would I lose to look thru all 44 pages of the district.  It’s all in the same neighborhood…so I might find other relatives, too.  Obviously this is either “Little Italy” or at least an Italian neighborhood…there seems to be a LOT of people who were Italian immigrants listed.  So I paged back to Page 1 and started looking at each name.  I can feel it…there has to be other relatives here.

And I find them…on page 4 I find one of Leo and Jennie’s daughters…she and her children are recorded with her husbands sister and brother-in-law.  But, again this ancestor’s husband is missing….That’s now 2 husbands that have gone AWOL on me!  So…back to the computer screen I go…and keep scanning for familiar names.  Page 18 give me another hit…a BIG one this time…My Grand Parents!  Sam and Frances Giudice have been FOUND!  Six months after their marriage in Chicago…and they are found at 230 Alexander Street…obviously an apartment building due to the number of “households” at the same address….and 4 doors down from a Catholic Church!  Gotta love those Italians and their love for being near a church!

The last one I found in this “neighborhood”, was Joe…Leo and Jennie’s son.  So…that accounts for quite a few of the family members but not nearly close enough for me!  I’m still missing a few husbands…some of them are still AWOL.  Now if I was a truly suspicious person…and I started thinking about all the possible scenarios, I might be able to add about an hour to the Godfather movies…Italian fathers and sons missing…wives and children residing with relatives…Sounds like a “Protection” from the movies!  But…this is not the movies…it’s not “The Godfather”…its just a family with a difficult to spell (and pronounce) name in 1920 Chicago.  I still have a ton of pages of the census to look thru.  I’m sure they are here somewhere.  I better give my brain a rest…stop daydreaming about Al Capone, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and relatives that talk like Marlon Brando.  I have census documents to look thru.

Check back soon…I still have about 350+ pages of the Chicago City portion of the 1920 US Federal Census to check thru.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t suffer any permanent eye damage reading thru this one!  I sure hope a few more relatives come out of hiding….I’d really like to know where the wives hid these husbands!