Tag Archives: genealogy

Me in DNA form.

Freshly opened DNA kit!

Freshly opened DNA kit!

So I decided to spit in a tube, drop it in a mailbox, and get my DNA analyzed via AncestryDNA (the ancestry.com DNA test, not the other one floating around on Groupon).  It was incredibly simple and the results of the test analysis showed up a couple weeks earlier than I’d anticipated.  Win, win, win.

1. Spit in tube after not eating for awhile.

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Drooool. (After at least 30 minutes of not eating – don’t want to contaminate your precious cargo.)

2. Close tube cap and release spit DNA preservation stuff.  Oooo, it’s blue!

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Spit enhanced by blue preservation substance.

3. Remove tube funnel and screw on the tube cap.  Place the tube in the biohazard envelope.  Oooo, your spit is a biohazard!

Radioactive....but not.

Radioactive….but not.

4. Place the tube+envelope in the mailer and drop it off at your nearest postal pick-up locale.

Have a safe trip little vial of spit!

Have a safe trip little vial of spit!

5. Wait as patiently as possible. (taps foot -> tap, tap, tap, tap)

6.  Get extremely excited when an e-mail shows up in your inbox announcing your results are ready!  Whoo!

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Me in regional DNA estimate form.  It’s like my high-tech selfie.  Oooo, I feel so exposed. (P.S. This is much more readable if you click the image and plaster it across your monitor.)

For the most part I found what I was expecting to find.  I really hoped I was at least a dash American Indian, so that was an exciting find.  The trace of Asia Central was unexpected but not entirely surprising.  The most surprising was the 9% estimate for Iberian Peninsula.

On my paternal side I’m Japanese and a mishmash of European – German, French, Irish, and English mostly.  These ancestors lived in the Ohio/Kentucky/Pennsylvania/Maryland region.

On the maternal side I’m half Eastern European (Polish and Slovene) and a mishmash of European.  I’m still working on researching back further, but so far the European side seems likely to be English/Scottish/Irish.  This group of Euro settlers mostly began in North Carolina, migrated to Tennessee, and then later to Texas and Oklahoma.

I’m really not sure which side (or both?) the Iberian peninsula comes from!  I thought maybe it could be southern France, but the last French ancestor I had intermarried into other communities back in the 1700s, so 9% seemed a little excessive for such a distant ancestor.  I’m also not sure where in France my ancestor came from.  We (the family in general) are pretty certain our French ancestor was Huguenot – I’m not sure if this could have some contribution to the mystery.

My actual initial thought was that there was maybe a connection to Slovenia.  It’s a bit of a leap maybe, but in non-DNA percentages I’m 25% Eastern European, so initially I looked to the other percentages to see why the Eastern European estimate was so low.  The more I think about it, the more obscure this connection seems.  I haven’t found any evidence to back up this knee-jerk theory.  I know the DNA that gets passed down to you doesn’t split 50/50 from each parent and I really don’t know if my Eastern European ancestors moved around a bunch in the past couple hundred years.  I just know that they lived in those particular countries before coming to the U.S. circa 1900.

I also read some stuff online about a possible migratory connection between the Iberian peninsula and Ireland, leaving it possible that a couple of my Irish ancestors might have lived on the Iberian peninsula at one point?  I’m not sure.  I need to do some more reading and researching.  I just feel pretty certain that there isn’t a hidden recent ancestor from Portugal/Spain/Southern France/Northern Africa.  But universe, go ahead and surprise me!

I don’t have any documentation of Scandinavian relatives on either side of the family, but I imagine that has something to do with the migration of Scandinavian groups to the British Isles way back in old timey Viking days.  That seems like a pretty straightforward possibility.  Dang, Britain and Western Europe have a pretty strong showing.  Makes sense, but just looks like such a big number to have all those odds and ends of British and Western European ancestors grouped in one percentage.  I don’t tend to think of that part of my ancestry as cohesive since they’ve all been in the U.S. for so long – I tend to think more distinctly about the cultural/ethnic identities of my 20th century immigrant ancestors.

My Mom tells me her dad (of the generally North Carolina->Tennessee->Texas/Oklahoma branch) always said he was “‘Merican” when asked what he was.  Ultimately, that is what I am too!  Americans often get a bad rap (that is also often earned), but I’m happy and proud to be one.  Somebody get me a Stars and Stripes to wave!

All in all, totally worth it.  It was my birthday present from my parents and definitely exactly what I wanted.  🙂

How many voters?

I’m trying to find out more about the Hickman family.  My Hickman relatives now live in Oklahoma, but before that they lived in Tennessee.  I was looking at the 1870 federal census record for my gggreat grandpa Zachary Taylor Hickman and decided to take a spin around the census block to check out the neighbors.

His (at the time) future wife Mary Jane White is a tough one to pin down.  So far it appears that after Zachary Taylor Hickman died she married at least two more times.  Did she have a husband before Zachary Taylor?  She was 20 when they married in 1873, so the odds are lower than if she’d been older.

So I’m cruising around District 9, Lawrence, Tennessee in  1870, trying to spot Mary Janes or a White family.  I get to the end of the census District and see this:

Page 14, 1870 census, District 9, Lawrence, TN/Ancestry.com and NARA

Page 14, 1870 census, District 9, Lawrence, TN/Ancestry.com and NARA

Go ahead, blow that up on your computer screen and take a look at those stats.  I hadn’t seen a tally like this before, and maybe it’s because of the census year or the region or just the guy they hired to do the job, or maybe I just haven’t reached the end of enough censuses (censi?).  How about that voter count?  It kind of makes me want to go back through the census and compare the number of adults eligible to vote and the number of actual adults in the area.

But that’s a distraction that’s going to derail me.  I’ve been hot on Mary Jane White’s trail and I’m not ready to give up yet.  It seems like the Hickmans reused names way more often than other family branches.  This is making it really tough to figure out which Lemuel is which, and how the Lemuels connect with the Snowdens (I think they do somewhere along the line, maybe future back than Tennessee?).

Anywhoo, back to the census records.  I just wanted to pop in here real quick to make a note of the nice statistical rundown.

The Three Piece Suit.

William Howard Furnier, my paternal great grandpa. , possibly in Cincinnati, likely sometime in the 1910s or 1920s.

William Howard Furnier, my paternal great grandpa. Possibly in Cincinnati, likely sometime in the 1910s or 1920s.

This is my paternal great grandpa William Howard Furnier.  I look at this photo and think, hey, if this were taken in the era of the digital photo they totally would’ve looked at the camera screen and done a second take.  But with this possibly taken in Cincinnati mostly likely in the 1910s or 1920s, great grandpa Howard Furnier was stuck with this eyes shut photo.

But, I digress.  This post is less about my ggrandpa, and more about his attire.  Rewatching Boardwalk Empire made me pay even closer attention to everyone’s clothes, and I am just dying over the three piece suits.  The jacket-pants-vest combo in 1920s wonderfulness is killing me.  I did some google image searching which led me to this fantastic blog with great posts on Jimmy Darmody’s suits (dark pinstripe and blue suit). (Nick Charles has got it goin’ on too.)

Vests and menswear really don’t fit my body type.  Neither does 1920s womenswear, alas.  Thankgoodness me and the Mad Men era get along.

Howard Furnier would’ve been a contemporary to Andrew Holt (all the way over on my Mom’s side of the family).  Andrew was about 10 years older, but they both seem like they were movers and shakers of a sort.  Howard did some amateur boxing in the 1910s and 1920s – exciting!  Totally a future post topic.  I think I’ll be staying in the 1910s/1920s for awhile, I’m getting comfy here.

Not to mention, Howard married my great grandma Edith Graham in Newport, Kentucky in 1929.  I went on an Underground Cincinnati tour, run by the fabulous American Legacy Tours company, and learned they also have a Newport, Kentucky walking tour on gangsters, speakeasies, and all that jazz!  I don’t know when I’ll be back in the Cincinnati area to visit relatives again, but I definitely want to go on the Newport tour next time I’m around town.  I had no idea Newport was a significant place during Prohibition.

Herminie, PA Coal Mining and Ignatz Kolar

The internet is great and constantly updated.  I feel like every year or so I need to re-search the internet for family names and the history of different regions.

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Rozalija (Rose) and Ignatz (Ignac) Kolar, circa early 1930s

Rozalija and Ignatz Kolar were from Slovenia, or what was then part of Austria-Hungary in the late 19th/early 20th century.  When they first came to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, they lived in Herminie, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburg.  The region of Slovenia they came from was largely a mining area, and so one of the first jobs Ignac had in the U.S. was a mining job.

I came across the Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania that lists him as a Slovenian miner circa 1912 for the Ocean Coal Company in Herminie, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania at the Ocean/Herminie No. 1 bituminous coal mine.  Sounds about right to me!

There were coal company owned houses and stores in Herminie, but it looks like my great great grandpa Ignatz owned his own home, or at least rented a non-company house.  On the page about the Ocean/Herminie No. 1 mine, there is a line that notes:

“The first settlers, such as Sornig, Mole Gradisek, Coz, Kolar, Bedek, Kapla, Arnold, Drab and Cirar, have their own homes, but religious conditions are rather bad.

On Sundays many worship in the Irish church of Our Lady in Madison. Once a year Rev. J. Mertelj comes from Pittsburgh to hear confessions. In the village there are the following lodges: SNPJ Lodge #87 which was founded in 1906 with 14 members; St. Barbara’s Lodge, founded in 1908 with 16 members, and SSPZ Lodge founded in 1911 with 17 members. The immigrants came mostly from the Upper Carniola (Gorenjska) or Notranjska and have found work in the coal mines. {from Rev. J.M. Trunk text published originally in 1912 Part 8, History of Slovene Communities.}”

The family eventually purchased a farm and moved to Sheldon, Wisconsin.  I believe the photo above was taken in the early 1930s in Wisconsin.  I’ve never been to Herminie and I’ve never worked in a mine, but I can’t help but imagine that working hard as a farmer was a huge move up from laboring in an early 20th century coal mine.

Grandparents and parents.

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Margaret and Donald Hickman with my Uncle and Mom. February 1959 and probably in Garden Grove, CA

I went to a clothing swap on Saturday that confirmed my belief that 1950s and 1960s dresses are my thing.  I still think the early 1930s are my most favorite fashion years, but I wasn’t built to wear those styles.

I’m glad Don Draper on Mad Men is finally becoming aware of his alcoholism.  My grandpa Don was also an alcoholic in the 1950s and 1960s (and other decades).  I hope Don Draper can move beyond his drinking problem and not let it kill him in the 1980s like it did my Don.

My grandparents lived in Southern California for awhile in their younger years.  Don was a Seabee in the Navy at Port Huaneme (and other non-SoCal locales), and then he and my Grandma lived in Los Angeles and Orange County for a bit before they ended up back in Oklahoma.

I haven’t found documentation, but when Don was a little kid I think his parents brought him out to California at least once in the 1930s.  It seems like he had a very unstable childhood.  I’ve always thought his dad James Aubrey Hickman (who I call “Pa” because that’s what my Mom called him) was handsome in photos.  I think he was also an alcoholic?  Maybe I’ll post about Pa next.

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Machiko and James Furnier with my Dad, circa 1960-1961. Could’ve been taken in Montana or Okinawa or Ohio or elsewhere. I’m sure someone knows where. I should ask.

I didn’t get to know my Furnier grandparents very well before they passed away.  My Grandpa James was big into genealogy, which is one of the few things I know about him.  He did a lot of research on the Furniers, back in the days before the internet.  As genealogy torchbearer I’ve been debating creating some kind of online database with all the genealogy related materials digitized and organized.  I don’t think of myself as owner of any of it; I think of myself as steward of materials that belong to the whole family.

For now I’m just going to start posting more about genealogy on this blog.  It seems to be one of the few subjects I feel inclined to ramble about.  Writer’s block is no match for genealogy musings.

Legacy Guilt.

Today I went to the Western History Workshop on Dr. Alice Echols’ work in progress project on her grandfather’s involvement with a Building and Loan Bank scandal in Colorado Springs in the Great Depression.  At the beginning of her presentation she brought up the problematic nature of mining family history for history narratives.  Past lives, like present lives, are riddled with tragedy as much as they are stories of success and triumph.

In my own personal genealogy research I semi-recently learned that my great great great great grandpa was a slave owner in Tennessee.  Most of his sons moved to Texas as young adults and remained there until their deaths.  The sons fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, while their slave owning father actually sided with the Union.

Thomas Crutcher Holt, one of the sons (and my ancestor) worked as an itinerant Methodist and Baptist preacher in the South.  His son Edgar Eugene Holt moved to southern Oklahoma.  And it was there in southern Oklahoma that Edgar’s son Andrew Holt, my great grandma’s oldest brother, ran whiskey during Prohibition in the 1920s and was shot down by a sheriff (and family oral history also says a U.S. Marshall) in a nighttime raid.

The Morning Tulsa daily world. (Tulsa, Okla.), 21 Jan. 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The Morning Tulsa daily world. (Tulsa, Okla.), 21 Jan. 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042345/1922-01-21/ed-1/seq-5/

I don’t feel bad at all about having a Prohibition violating ancestor, though I do feel a little bad about having a slave owning gggg grandfather.  I’ve decided to call this legacy guilt.  It’s a non-monetary inheritance that you can’t really do anything about.  The longer I’ve known about it the easier it has been to reconcile that what an ancestor did is very much in the past, and what you do as an individual in the present is far more important than the actions of any one of the hundreds of ancestors that rotated around the sun before you.

Their actions had far reaching implications and greatly impacted the lives around them, but there is no remedy for that when you are nothing but an agent of the present.

If anything, learning more about the potentially negatives aspects of my family’s past illuminates a general history narrative that often feels generic and impersonal.  I’ve been pursuing information on the cultural context of my slaveowning ancestor in Tennessee and his sons’ move to Texas.  It’s been an exciting journey so far to try to understand the push and pull factors of their choices through the contexts of their lives.

Folks.

I am fascinated with the early 20th century west and midwest.  The dusty lonesome farmer, the wanderer, set against an unceasing landscape.  An individual who either bucks community or searches for it – or sometimes both.  A closed frontier and questions of where to go next.  The newly domesticated.  Or at that, the fear of the new.  Having everything in the world seemingly open to you, but the closeness of community to keep an individual from being able to stray from accepted conventions.  It is a crossroads, a meeting place.  The landscape of the immigrant and of the disadvantaged.  A natural landscape with humans struggling to get ahead to the unnatural.  Fascinating.

Part of my fascination with it is also my personal connection to it.  My Dad’s family were early Ohio pioneers.  Today that is barely the midwest, but in 1800 (when they made their way out there) it was the edge of the American world.  My Mom’s family went into Oklahoma after the land was opened up to white settlers.  Every generation on my Mom’s side in the 20th century migrated to California to live for a period of time for various and sundry – though they have all left California by now (Except me!  Though I’ve never lived in OK).  The road between Oklahoma and California is a well-worn one for my Mom’s folks.  None of my American ancestors come from rich families.  We’ve always been average Joes, more or less.

This is instigated by working at a museum focusing on Western culture, and also on some rewatching of Carnivale.  I love the texture of Carnivale – the dark, dusty, worn texture.  I want to curl up in it.