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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



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Genetic Genealogy the new family tree Dave Petersen History Columnist

There are many people searching their roots, looking for those lost family members to try and determine their origins and ones own history. Genealogy is a hugely popular hobby and big business. The Internet has done a lot to help people find each other, information and to connect with family members around the globe.

In my grandfather's closet as example we found a photograph of a family in front of a Bakery in Bancroft Iowa. No identification of who was in the picture, just the town name. My suspicion at the time was that since my great great grandfather had been in Iowa and enlisted in the Union Army in the Civil war that we had some connections there. After going on to the US Gen web (genealogy pages) for that county on the internet I posted a query looking for anyone researching the same family of Inman's that I was looking for.

I made a connection with Maudeen, she lived out on the West Coast and was related through a sister of my GG Grandfather named Julia, who along with her husband had a bakery in Bancroft Iowa in the 1890's. I made a copy and sent her the original photograph that showed Julia, her husband and all of their children.

There are a couple things to consider about how all of this came about. Our families are scattered all over the globe, and yet there are threads that can connect us to each other in our research. Often I find that if no one can identify a person in an old photograph they toss it out or place it on the yard sale, there is always that chance that you can find out who is in those old pictures IF you want to try and put the effort into it. In my wife's family there was a 50th wedding anniversary photo taken in 1900 of the Bromley clan down in Oceana County, only a couple of people were identified in the copy we were able to get. Through research on the internet I was able to find 7 more people that had copies of the same photo and by sharing our information were able to identify the 60 people in the picture.

Court records, census, city directories, and any number of other resources can be used to track down those elusive ancestors. It's a fun and frustrating hobby and the frustrating piece of trying to track down those ancestors that seemed to have disappeared can sometimes send us down a different path. One that science is lending us a hand with.

You can now become a part of the DNA Ancestry Project. This is a new way of looking for those elusive threads that connect us and we don't have to go online, trudge to libraries or sit in courthouses going through public records. Like the genealogy bug, it's in your blood. You may have heard of people attempting to find out whether they were related to a famous person or president of long ago through DNA testing but now it's becoming more mainstream, and also available by mail order from 98.00 to a thousand dollars or more, depending on how much detailed information you are paying for and the number of genetic markers.

Using science to help you find out your ethnic origins, and give you an idea of maybe what part of the world they lived in at different times by the genetic markers that are awaiting your discovery in a simple test that many more people are taking every day. Through these tests people are getting more clues about whether or not they have the genetic proof that they have Native American connections, an Irish ancestor, or that everyone was pretty much from Sweden. If you are tracking down family stories and gossip and hitting dead ends in your research it can be pretty tempting to take the swab and send it in with your payment to see if the genetics back up the family stories.

It could be helpful in determining what parts of the world your family migrated from, and may send you researching in areas that you had never considered possible. Genealogy is all about asking questions, every new answer to a question generally creates 4 or 5 new questions, so anything that gets you to think outside of where you've been is probably going to be at least an interesting diversion and could open new doors for your research. When we started using the internet for genealogy research we didn't stop trying to track down information the old fashioned way and this is no different, genetic genealogy is another tool that has become available to us.

Like anything else when you are shopping for a genetic tester you need to look at the product that the ever increasing numbers of providers are offering. Some are only providing information on 12 genetic markers and my research so far is suggesting that you want to have 40 markers included in the test. You can spend as much or as little as you want but spending more does not always insure a better result. If anyone in our area has taken one of these tests and would like to share their findings with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com

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