Monday, December 30, 2019

The Trujillo Adobe and Spanish Town Heritage Foundation January 5th 1:30 PM Riverside, CA

Inlandia Institute invites you to celebrate and learn about our area’s Native American connection and our genízaro pioneers, Sunday, January 5, 1:30 pm at the Culver Center.

Find out about the life and times of genízaro pioneers of La Placita/Agua Mansa, Alta California, Mexico, known today as Riverside and Colton, California, USA!

Who were genízaros? Why did they come to Alta California? What were they hoping to accomplish? How did they get here? Why here and not someplace else?

Join us with special guests: UCR Professor Emeritus Dr. Carlos Cortés and La Placita Descendants Leonard Trujillo and Nancy Melendez.

Learn about the Trujillo Adobe historical site, plans to restore it, and re-ignite the old Spanish Town settlement. Jot down your questions and join this illuminating conversation!

Dr. Carlos Cortés is a nationally known and award-winning author, teacher, consultant and speaker on a wide variety of issues related to diversity, multiculturalism, the impact of media, and cross-cultural understanding. He is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Riverside. He served as the Creative/Cultural Advisor for Nickelodeon's award-winning children's television series, "Dora the Explorer" and "Go, Diego, Go!”

"Sometimes we become so distracted by national and world events that we overlook the historical dramas in our own backyard. It's nice to be able to participate in an event that brings our own local history to life." —Carlos Cortés

Leonard Trujillo is a direct descendant and a third great grandson of Lorenzo Trujillo & Maria Dolores Archuleta who settled in the San Bernardino Valley of Alta California in the early 1840’s. As a direct male descendant, Leonard was able to confirm through Y-DNA testing the Indigenous ancestry of his Trujillo family line in New Mexico. Freed by retirement, Leonard volunteers to help individuals trace their ancestry. He currently serves as president of the Southern California Chapter of the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America.

“And there were the intriguing stories of my paternal ancestors from New Mexico who established the first settlement in Riverside, California in the 1840’s and were described as Native Americans.” —Leonard Trujillo

Friday, December 27, 2019

US Birth Certificate Copies Exposed Online

This is a major security breach. An online company that allows users to obtain a copy of their birth and death certificates from U.S. state governments has exposed a massive cache of applications — including their personal information.

More than 752,000 applications for copies of birth certificates were found on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) storage bucket. The bucket, owned by a Barcelona-based company Onlinevitalus, wasn’t protected with a password, allowing anyone who knew the easy-to-guess web address access to the data.

The data exposed was for APPLICATIONS for birth certificate copies, not for copies of the birth certificates themselves. Even so, each application contained a lot of personal information that is not supposed to be exposed, including: the applicant’s name, date-of-birth, current home address, email address, phone number and historical personal information, including past addresses, names of family members and the reason for the application — such as applying for a passport or researching family history.

You can read more in an article by Zack Whittaker in the TechCrunch web site hit here.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

When a DNA Test Says You’re a Younger Man, Who Lives 5,000 Miles Away

After a bone marrow transplant, a man with leukemia found that his donor’s DNA traveled to unexpected parts of his body. A crime lab is now studying the case.

Three months after his bone marrow transplant, Chris Long of Reno, Nev., learned that the DNA in his blood had changed. It had all been replaced by the DNA of his donor, a German man he had exchanged just a handful of messages with.

He’d been encouraged to test his blood by a colleague at the Sheriff’s Office, where he worked. She had an inkling this might happen. It’s the goal of the procedure, after all: Weak blood is replaced by healthy blood, and with it, the DNA it contains.

But four years after his lifesaving procedure, it was not only Mr. Long’s blood that was affected. Swabs of his lips and cheeks contained his DNA — but also that of his donor. Even more surprising to Mr. Long and other colleagues at the crime lab, all of the DNA in his semen belonged to his donor. “I thought that it was pretty incredible that I can disappear and someone else can appear,” he said.

Mr. Long had become a chimera, the technical term for the rare person with two sets of DNA. The word takes its name from a fire-breathing creature in Greek mythology composed of lion, goat and serpent parts. Doctors and forensic scientists have long known that certain medical procedures turn people into chimeras, but where exactly a donor’s DNA shows up — beyond blood — has rarely been studied with criminal applications in mind.

Tens of thousands of people get bone marrow transplants every year, for blood cancers and other blood diseases including leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia. Though it’s unlikely that any of them would end up as the perpetrator or victim of a crime, the idea that they could intrigued Mr. Long’s colleagues at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, who have been using their (totally innocent) colleague in IT as a bit of a human guinea pig.

Where will the DNA go?

The implications of Mr. Long’s case, which was presented at an international forensic science conference in September, have now captured the interest of DNA analysts far beyond Nevada.

The average doctor does not need to know where a donor’s DNA will present itself within a patient. That’s because this type of chimerism is not likely to be harmful. Nor should it change a person. “Their brain and their personality should remain the same,” said Andrew Rezvani, the medical director of the inpatient Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit at Stanford University Medical Center.

He added that patients also sometimes ask him what it means for a man to have a woman’s chromosomes in their bloodstream or vice versa. “It doesn’t matter,” he said.

But for a forensic scientist, it’s a different story. The assumption among criminal investigators as they gather DNA evidence from a crime scene is that each victim and each perpetrator leaves behind a single identifying code — not two, including that of a fellow who is 10 years younger and lives thousands of miles away. And so Renee Romero, who ran the crime lab at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, saw an opportunity when her friend and colleague told her that his doctor had found a suitable match on a donor website and he would be undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

“We need to swab the heck out of you before you have this procedure to see how this DNA takes over your body,” she recalled telling him.

Mr. Long agreed. He welcomed an intriguing distraction from his diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, both of which impair the production of healthy blood cells.

To read more of this article hit here

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Genealogy Website That Helped Crack The Golden State Killer Case Has Been Bought By A Forensic Genetics Firm

Crime scene DNA sequencing company Verogen has just acquired GEDmatch, a genealogy database credited with helping to solve some 70 rapes and murders.

The transformation of genetic genealogy from a geeky pastime to a crime-fighting business opportunity has taken another leap forward.

Verogen, a San Diego-based company that provides equipment for high-tech sequencing of crime-scene DNA, today announced that it had acquired GEDmatch, a website that rose to fame after it led cops to the alleged Golden State Killer.

Since then, GEDmatch has been caught in the crossfire of a bitter argument between genealogists who believe the site has compromised its users’ privacy and those who want to work with law enforcement to help solve violent crimes.

“They have been pummelled by all sides,” said Margaret Press, co-founder of the DNA Doe Project, which uses genetic genealogy to put names to unidentified homicide victims.

Although GEDmatch’s new owner is a forensic science company, it is promising a firm line on protecting users who don’t want cops to access their genetic information. “We are very committed to privacy,” Verogen CEO Brett Williams told BuzzFeed News.

Launched by genealogy enthusiasts Curtis Rogers and John Olson in 2010, for years GEDmatch was an obscure website that allowed customers of DNA testing firms to expand their family trees by looking for relatives sharing matching stretches of DNA.

That all changed in April 2018 with the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, a former cop alleged to be the Golden State Killer, responsible for at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes in California in the 1970s and 1980s.

Police in California and the FBI, working with a professional genealogist, Barbara Rae Venter, matched a crime-scene DNA sample to profiles in GEDmatch who were the killer’s third or fourth cousins.

Since then, GEDmatch has been used to help solve around 70 violent crimes. But the site’s new prominence as a crime-fighting tool has divided genealogists keen to work with law enforcement and those concerned that the practice has invaded users’ genetic privacy.

In May, there was an outcry from privacy advocates after Rogers allowed the site to be used to identify the perpetrator of a violent assault in Utah — bending rules put in place that were supposed to restrict cops to investigating homicides and sexual assaults.

Rogers and Olson responded by changing GEDmatch’s terms and conditions to require customers to explicitly opt-in for searching by law enforcement. The change drastically reduced the number of users who made their genetic information available for use by law enforcement, frustrating police and genealogists working with them.

Last month, the pendulum swung again when the New York Times reported that a Florida detective had obtained a warrant to search the entirety of GEDmatch — including the profiles of users who had not opted in for law enforcement searches.

GEDmatch quickly complied. But in a press release announcing its acquisition of the site, Verogen CEO Brett Williams indicated that his company would take a tougher line in future: “We are steadfast in our commitment to protecting users’ privacy and will fight any future attempts to access data of those who have not opted in.”

“You take each case on its merits,” Williams told BuzzFeed News. “But at the end of the day it’s important to have agreed terms of service.”

Verogen plans to make money by offering tools for DNA analysis and access to GEDmatch’s database. But Williams said it didn’t initially intend to employ its own genealogists — unlike Parabon NanoLabs, which has solved dozens of criminal cases, and Family Tree DNA, which hired Venter of the Golden State Killer team.

Rogers, who will remain involved with GEDmatch, did not immediately respond to queries from BuzzFeed News about the decision to sell up. But other genealogists say that they were not surprised that he and Olson decided it was time to relinquish control.

“I think that they’re too small and they’re tired of dealing with all of the hassle,” said Leah Larkin, a genealogist in Livermore, California. Larkin led the complaints that GEDmatch was sliding down a “slippery slope” after it allowed the investigation of the Utah assault.

The challenge for Verogen will be to convince users that a forensic science company will provide a useful service for genealogy enthusiasts while also serving law enforcement.

“It’s a delicate balance if they want to conserve this resource,” said Press.

Williams, Verogen’s CEO, said that the number of users who have opted in for law enforcement searches now stands at more than 200,000, and is growing.

“We’re not going to force people to opt in,” Williams said. “If I try that, I know I’ll undermine everything.”

Monday, December 23, 2019

Wishing all Happy Holidays

From your organization GSHA-SC, we want to thank you for your incredible support this year and wish you a very happy holidays. We look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming meetings or tuning in to GoToMeeting this new year in 2020

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

We’re Living In The DNA Future, But It’s Not The One We Were Promised

10 Years Ago, DNA Tests Were The Future Of Medicine. Now They’re A Social Network — And A Data Privacy Mess. We were offered personalized medicine. Instead, we got Facebook for our DNA.

“Genetics just got personal.” So boasted the website of 23andMe in 2008, just after launching its DNA testing service.

As we entered this decade, a small cohort of companies — 23andMe, its Silicon Valley neighbor Navigenics, and Icelandic competitor deCODE Genetics — were selling a future of personalized medicine: Patients would hold the keys to longer and healthier lives by understanding the risks written into their DNA and working with their doctors to reduce them.

“We all carry this information, and if we bring it together and democratize it, we could really change health care,” 23andMe cofounder Anne Wojcicki told Time magazine when it dubbed the company’s DNA test 2008’s “invention of the year,” beating out Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster.

But in reality, the 2010s would be when genetics got social. As the decade comes to a close, few of us have discussed our genes with our doctors, but millions of us have uploaded our DNA profiles to online databases to fill in the details of our family trees, explore our ethnic roots, and find people who share overlapping sequences of DNA.

It’s become like Facebook for genes, driven by the same fundamental human desire to connect. And, as with Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth, this is the decade we reckoned with what it really means to hand over some of our most personal data in the process.

It all panned out differently from the way I imagined in 2009, when I paid $985 to deCODE and $399 to 23andMe to put my DNA into the service of science journalism. (I spared my then-employer, New Scientist magazine, the $2,500 charge for the boutique service offered by Navigenics.)

I was intrigued by the potential of DNA testing for personalized medicine, but from the beginning, I was also concerned about privacy. I imagined a future in which people could steal our medical secrets by testing the DNA we leave lying around on discarded tissues and coffee cups. In 2009, a colleague and I showed that all it took to “hack” my genome in this way was a credit card, a private email account, a mailing address, and DNA testing companies willing to do business without asking questions.

Much of the rest of what I wrote about DNA testing back then reflected pushback from leading geneticists who argued that the companies’ visions of personalized medicine weren’t ready for primetime.

As I explored the reports offered by 23andMe and deCODE, I couldn’t help but agree — especially when deCODE wrongly concluded that I carry two copies of a variant of a gene that would give me a 40% lifetime chance of developing Alzheimer’s. (Luckily, it wasn’t cause for panic. I’d pored over my DNA in enough detail by then to know that I carry only one copy, giving me a still-elevated but much less scary lifetime risk of about 13%.)

Despite such glitches, it still seemed that medicine was where the payoffs of mainstream genetic testing were going to be. As costs to sequence the entire genome plummeted, I expected gene-testing firms to switch from using “gene chips” that scan hundreds of thousands of genetic markers to new sequencing technology that would allow them to record all 3 billion letters of our DNA.

So in 2012, eager to provide our readers with a preview of what was to come, New Scientist paid $999 for me to have my “exome” sequenced in a pilot project offered by 23andMe. This is the 1.5% of the genome that is “read” to make proteins — and is where the variants that affect our health are most likely to lurk.

Experts at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee analyzed my exome. While they weren’t at that point able to tell me much of medical significance that I didn’t already know, the article I wrote from the experience in 2013 predicted a future in which doctors would routinely scour their patients’ genomes for potential health problems and “prescribe drugs that have been specifically designed to correct the biochemical pathways concerned.”

I’m glad I included an important caveat: “This may take several decades.”

By then, the revolution promised by 23andMe and its competitors was faltering. Navigenics and deCODE had both been acquired by bigger companies and stopped selling DNA tests directly to the public.

23andMe, backed by the deep pockets of Google and other Silicon Valley investors, had enough cash to continue. But it fell foul of the FDA, which had decided that the company was selling “medical devices” that needed official approval to be put on the market. In a 2013 warning letter, the FDA said that 23andMe had failed to provide adequate evidence that its tests produced accurate results. By the end of 2013, 23andMe had stopped offering assessments of health risks to new customers.

Since then, the company has slowly clawed its way back into the business of health. In 2015, it was given FDA approval to tell customers whether they were carriers for a number of inherited diseases; in 2017, it started providing new customers with assessments of health risks once more.

I recently updated my 23andMe account, getting tested on the latest version of its chip. My results included reports on my genetic risk of experiencing 13 medical conditions. Back in 2013, there were more than 100 such reports, plus assessments of my likely responses to a couple dozen drugs.

In the lab, discovery has continued at a pace, but relatively few findings have found their way into the clinic.

To read more of this article hit here

Thursday, December 19, 2019

GEDMatch Message from Curtis Rogers

To GEDmatch users,

As you may know, on December 9 we shared the news that GEDmatch has been purchased by Verogen, Inc., a forensic genomics company whose focus is human ID. This sale took place only because I know it is a big step forward for GEDmatch, its users, and the genetic genealogical community. Since the announcement, there has been speculation about a number of things, much of it unfounded.

There has been concern that law enforcement will have greater access to GEDmatch user information. The opposite is true. Verogen has firmly and repeatedly stated that it will fight all unauthorized law enforcement use and any warrants that may be issued. This is a stronger position than GEDmatch was previously able to implement.

There has been concern that Verogen will eliminate GEDmatch free tools and raise Tier 1 rates. In fact, Verogen has made it clear that the free tools will remain, and there are no immediate plans to raise Tier 1 rates.

It has been reported on social media that there is a mass exodus of kits from the GEDmatch database. There has been a temporary drop in the database size only because privacy policies in place in the various countries where our users reside require citizens to specifically approve the transfer of their data to Verogen. As users grant permission, that data will again be visible on the site. We are proactively reaching out to these users to encourage them to consent to the transfer.

The sale to Verogen will be a tremendous benefit to genealogists. Verogen has pledged to continue the GEDmatch philosophy of providing free services. It recognizes that all information belongs to the users who have placed it on GEDmatch, that this information may be removed by the users at any time, and that strong privacy protections need to be in place. It is to Verogen's advantage to build the consumer database, meaning more and better matches for users. Verogen recognizes that law enforcement use of genetic genealogy is here to stay and is in a better position to prevent abuses and protect privacy than GEDmatch ever could have done on its own.

Bottom line: I am thrilled that the ideal company has purchased GEDmatch. The baby I created will now mature for the benefit of all involved. If anyone has any doubts, I may be reached at gedmatch@gmail.com. I will do my best to personally respond to all concerns.

Curtis Rogers

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Genealogy Garage Schedule for the year 2020

Your GSHA-SC organization helps support the education of genealogy to its members and to the public at large. The diverse subject matter may not pertained to Hispanic research but the concepts of research is the same. Please take time and attend or suggest to your friends that education is available on the third Saturday of the month at the downtown Los Angeles Public Library. If you become a member of the library, the parking is negotiable and the genealogy library located within is a vast source of material that may help you in you search. Location of the Los Angeles Public Library is
630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles, CA 90071

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Genetic testing is an inexact science with real consequences

How flawed genetic testing could be used for more than screwing up your race.

Three years ago, I put my faith in a 23andMe DNA test and got burned.

While most of my results initially checked out — about 50 percent South Asian and what looked like a 50 percent hodgepodge of European — there was one glaring surprise. Where roughly 25 percent Italian was supposed to be, Middle Eastern stood in its place. The results shocked me.

Over the years, I had made a lot of the Italian portion of my heritage; I had learned the language, majored in Latin in college, and lived in Rome, Italy, for my semester abroad. Still, as a rational person, I believed the science. But my grandmother, whose parents moved from Sicily to Brooklyn, where she was born and grew up speaking Italian, refused to accept the findings.

Fast forward to this summer, when I got an email about new DNA relations on 23andMe and revisited my updated genetic results, only to find out that I am, in fact, about a quarter Italian (and generally southern European). But it was too late to tell my grandma. She’s dead now and I’m a liar.

This sort of thing happens a lot because ancestry DNA testing — and genetic testing in general — is an inexact science that’s prone to errors throughout almost every step of the process. As my Vox colleague Brian Resnick has explained, some small amount of error is unavoidable within the technical portion of analyzing your DNA.

Making the results of these tests even more unreliable is the fact that their whole ancestry component is based on self-reported surveys from people who say they belong to one ancestry or another — an inherently flawed practice. Sample sizes vary by location and by testing company, so there’s a big disparity in data quality, especially if you happen to not be white. That’s because Europeans are much more represented in DNA databases and therefore, much more exact information can be gleaned about their DNA.

Of course, what would be much more troubling than getting someone’s heritage or hair color wrong is using that information to inform decisions made about that person. And as more people submit their DNA to genetic testing companies, and more law enforcement and government agencies figure out ways to use this deeply personal genetic information, it could be used against us. Making matters more concerning is that there are very few legal safeguards on what companies and governments can and can’t do with data gleaned from direct-to-consumer genetic tests.

“Under existing law it would be legal to very broadly share consumer information if you disclose that that was happening in the privacy policy and terms of service with the customer,” James Hazel, a research fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who has done research on genetics test privacy policies, told Recode. And companies don’t have to stick with existing privacy policies, either. “Nearly every company reserves the right to change their privacy policies at any time.”

Of course, few people read privacy policies in the first place (under 10 percent always do so, according to a new Pew Research study). And the existing privacy policies for genetic testing aren’t necessarily clear or forthcoming. Hazel found that 39 percent of the 90 genetics testing companies he researched had “no readily accessible policy applicable to genetic data on their website.”

Hazel says some of the biggest genetics testing companies, like 23andMe and Ancestry, have signed on to a list of best practices, a policy framework created by the Future of Privacy Forum, which includes both consumer and industry advocacy groups. The practices include agreements to be transparent around data collection, to take strong security measures, and to use valid legal processes when working with law enforcement. While signing a pledge with these well-intentioned ideas is comforting, they’re ultimately vague and not legally mandated. Failing to live up to these tenets is a PR flub, rather than a legal burden.

He also warned that while large companies might be motivated by public opinion, consumer feedback, and media scrutiny, smaller companies tend to be overlooked and left to do what they want, under the radar.

“Just like the industry is very diverse in terms of tests offered, also the information and the quality of the privacy policies are all over the map,” he told Recode.

To read more of the article hit here

Friday, December 13, 2019

How Genetic Genealogy Helps Crack Cold Cases

Home DNA tests taken by criminals' unwitting family members have been key to many cases.

A Maryland beat cop with a knack for genealogy helped catch the suspected Potomac River Rapist 28 years after his first known attack.

Police said Thursday that genetic genealogy techniques were crucial to catching Giles Daniel Warrick. Now 60, Warrick is accused of raping 10 women in D.C. and Maryland in the 1990s and killing a 29-year-old victim in 1998.

As details on Warrick's specific case emerge, here's a step-by-step look at how genetic genealogy works. Home DNA tests taken by criminals' unwitting family members have been key to many cases.

Here's how it works:

1. DNA is taken from a crime scene. Investigators use the DNA to search for a match in criminal DNA databases.

2. Twenty genetic markers are used to search for an exact match in a criminal database.

3. If there's not an exact match, investigators can turn to public DNA databases. With 10 out of 20 markers matching, investigators can identify a close relative, such as a parent or sibling.

4. Once a familial connection is established, a genealogist can build a family tree to home in on possible suspects.

5. Using old-fashioned police work, the list of suspects can be further narrowed down. Investigators collect DNA samples from the top suspects to confirm.

6. An arrest is made.

For more information hit here

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Getting ready for the hoildays

With the holidays approaching and relatives possibly getting together, as genealogist we should ask the questions that will help later generations know who the individuals are if the answers are written down. Please use the following questions for your assistance in gathering information.

Questions to Ask Your Relatives

I hear it all the time: “I wish I had asked my grandmother (any older relative) more questions about our family!” It seems there are always vital pieces of information that we realize we need for our family history, after our relative’s funeral.

Perhaps you haven’t asked questions because you don’t know what to ask, or you may have so many questions that you don’t know where to begin. I’ve tried to simplify the task by creating the following list. I’ve grouped the questions by topic so you can ask them at different times and occasions. If you visit with your relative frequently you may want to ask 5-10 questions each time you visit. Or you might want to ask questions related to one topic. Family holiday gatherings may not be the best time to ask too many questions, although some answers would be entertaining and informative for the whole group. And remember, most people love to talk about themselves!

You may want to video the exchange, take notes by hand, or type answers on a laptop. Do whatever is most comfortable for you and for your relative. And be prepared for extended answers and stories. Once someone gets started on a topic you may be surprised by the memories that come flooding back.

These are just suggestions. You’ll want to adjust them according to your relative’s age, your relationship, and what you already know. But these should get you started. (I’ve included a few personal notes in parentheses.) Another suggestion: answer the questions about yourself so your children or grandchildren won’t have to ask YOU.


What is your full name? Why did your parents choose that name for you? Did you have a nickname? (My great-grandmother’s name was the last name of the doctor who delivered her.)

When and where were you born?

What is your earliest memory?

Who were your friends when you were growing up?

Who were your childhood heroes?

Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names? (My grandfather had a pet crow.)

Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?

Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?

What accomplishments were you the most proud of?

What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?


What state did you live in as a child? Do you know why your parents lived there? Were there other family members in the area? Who? (Several members of my father’s family went to CA together to seek work.)

What is the first house you remember? What was it like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?

Were there any special items in the house that you remember?

What other homes did you live in as a child?

How did you end up living where you are now?


What do you know about your family surname?

Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?

Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?

Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who usually did the cooking? What were your favorite foods? What food did you hate? (My dad loved liver and onions and I hated it.)

How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?

Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?

What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?

Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives your family?

Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?

Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?

Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?


What was your religion growing up?

What church, if any, did you attend?

Do you have any special memories of a service, camp, or other church event?


Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?

What were your best and worst subjects?

What school activities and sports did you participate in?

Who were your best friends in school?

Did you ever get in trouble in school?

Did you receive any awards?


What kind of games did you play growing up?

What was your favorite toy and why?

What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?

What were your favorite songs and music?

Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?

Was there a favorite “hang out” place in your town?


What is/was your profession and how did you choose it?

What was your first job? How much were you paid?

If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice?

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? Best?

Military Service

Were you in the military? What years? What branch of the military?

Did you volunteer or were you drafted?

Where did you serve?

What was your rank?

What were your duties?

What do you remember most about your time in the service?


When and how did you meet your spouse? Where did you go on dates?

What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?

What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen?

Where and when did you get married?

Where did you live when you got married?


What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family? (My grandmother told many stories about the Depression years.)

How is the world today most different from what it was like when you were a child?

Sunday, December 8, 2019

I've taken DNA tests from Ancestry and 23andMe. Here's the one critical thing you need to know before you buy a kit.

About four years ago, I sent in my samples of spit to 23andMe and Ancestry to find out what my DNA could tell me about my family history and health. I've also taken the now discontinued test from National Geographic. At the time, I thought that the initial reports would be the only time I looked at my results. Instead, I've found myself turning back to them frequently and finding new updates. In one case, my ancestry results in one update looked completely different from the next one,

Read in Business Insider in hitting here

Saturday, December 7, 2019

GSHA-SC General Meeting and Potluck Lunch, December 7, 2019 10am to 2pm

GSHA Southern California Chapter Tamale meeting, Saturday, December 7, 2019, 10:00 am. Please come to the General meeting to hear Dr. Gloria Arjona presentation on De Armas Tomar: Women in the Mexican Revolution. Afterwards we will be celebrated a potluck and tamale lunch. Please bring a side dish, entree, or desert to help out with the participation of the lunch. A door prize drawing will take place to help the organization. Participants do not need to be present for some of the prizes. If you wish to enter, please send a check or money order to the mail box by December 1, 2019. The General Public is invited.

Friday, December 6, 2019

I Took DNA Tests in the U.S. and China. The Results Concern Me Privacy is big question, as governments seek access to DNA data.

Spitting into the plastic test tube, I felt nervous. I was offering up a piece of myself for decoding, and while this time there was no silver-haired sage, it reminded me of a visit to a fortune teller when I was 21.

Then, I offered the palm of my hand in a bid to divine what fate had planned for me. Now, it was DNA, with my saliva destined for a laboratory in southwest China, to the headquarters of Chengdu 23Mofang Biotechnology Co., a startup that’s seeking to tap a boom in consumer genetics in the world’s most populous nation.

Rising awareness of genetically-linked diseases like Alzheimer’s and a natural human curiosity for insight into the future is fueling a global market for direct-to-consumer DNA testing that’s predicted to triple over the next six years. In China, where the government has embraced genetics as part of its push to become a scientific superpower, the industry is expected to see $405 million in sales by 2022, according to Beijing research firm EO Intelligence, an eight-fold increase from 2018. Some 4 million people will send away test tubes of spit in China this year, and I had just become one of them.

To read more of this article , hit here

Monday, December 2, 2019

8 Best Ancestry DNA Test Kits On Amazon

(This article was written by Latin Times. The kits ar not listed in preference order. GSHA-SC does not endorse any product over another. To read more of the article hit here)

A DNA test kit is a fun yet informative way of achieving self-discovery. Some focus on how your genes can affect your well-being; others map a family tree that might help you discover distant relatives online. We have listed some of the most popular at-home DNA test kits that are geared for your specific needs. Try out 8 of the best ancestry DNA test kits on Amazon:...

1. AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity Test
The AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity Test includes a saliva collection tube with a 15-digit activation code that identifies your sample for analysis that lasts six to eight weeks. The results are then posted online to be accessed through an Ancestry.com account

2. 23andMe Ancestry+Traits Service
23andMe’s Ancestry+Traits Service, which includes a special saliva collection tube kit that is sent back to 23andMe’s labs for analysis, features an Automatic Family Tree that gives you a complete view of your lineage as well as a DNA Relative Finder for connecting to those in your family tree.

3. 23andMe Health+Ancestry Service
23andMe’s Health+Ancestry Service, which comes with a saliva-collecting tube to be returned for analysis at 23andMe’s labs, has four unique tests that include your health dispositions, how your genes can affect overall wellness, carrier status of inherited conditions, and how DNA influences your traits – like whether you prefer salty or sweet food.

4. MyHeritage DNA Test Kit
The MyHeritage DNA Test Kit comes with two cheek swabs that are then sent back to the MyHeritage labs for analysis. The results, available online at the MyHeritage website, will reveal your ancestors’ origins from among 42 ethnic groups along with an updated list of people around the world who share your DNA.

5. AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity+Traits Test
Aside from your family tree and a list of people holding your DNA, the AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity+Traits Test lets you discover 26 of your most interesting traits that allow you to discover how your genes influence your appearance, senses and personality.

6. Vitagene DNA Test Kit
The Vitagene DNA Test Kit delivers complete results at an affordable price! The results, requiring a saliva sample for analysis, are unique because it lets you know exactly which food, exercises and vitamins are good for you alongside a detailed breakdown of your ancestry.

7. TellmeGen DNA Test Kit
The TellmeGen DNA Test Kit delivers cost-free (yes, cost-free) results that not only let you know your ancestry, but also if you are a carrier of certain inherited conditions (with 75+ analyzed inherited disorders), your predisposition to health conditions (with 100+ analyzed health conditions) and also your personal traits.

8. FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder Test
FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder Test Kit comes with a cheek swab that is then sent to FamilyTreeDNA’s labs for analysis. The results not only show a breakdown of your geographical origins, but also the amount of autosomal DNA carried from either the Neolithic hunter-gatherers, the early farmers, or Bronze Age metal invaders.

Friday, November 29, 2019

7 best Black Friday deals on DNA test kits

(Please note that GSHA-SC does not recommend one over another. We are just presenting the information to our readers. Most of the Genealogy Companies such as MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, FamilytreeDNA and Health Company 23andMe are having sales prior to the Holidays. Please check their sites or check out Amazon thru our SmileAmazon for the best prices.)

All of us are at least a little bit curious about our own genetics – especially since DNA kits have seen tremendous growth in recent years. But spending a fortune to learn about yourself can seem a bit superfluous. We’ve got good news for you, though. Right now, these test kits are on sale for Black Friday a week early, so you can discover all your eccentricities without feeling capricious. Just remember to enter the code BFSAVE15 at checkout to slash an additional 15% off the sale price.

Read in New York Post, hit here

What Can a Simple DNA Test Reveal About You in 2019? Everything.

Mailing your spit to a company so they can tell you vaguely where you came from has been around for a while. (I tried it in college and was dismayed to learn that, as my ruddy peasant complexion has always suggested, I am 95 percent Northwestern European.) But ancestral knowledge is not what’s projected to turn direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing into a $310 million industry by 2022. That boom will come from a major shift in focus from our long-dead relatives to ourselves. For a vial of saliva and a hundred bucks, you can now get detailed reports on how your unique genetic variations may be affecting your sleep, mood, life expectancy, and ability to carry a tune.

I recently took many of these tests. And for someone who balks at saying her Social Security number out loud, I was surprised at how easily I handed over my most personal possession — a detailed map to every cell in my body — to companies I basically knew nothing about. The prospect of being rigorously analyzed as a specimen at the most fundamental level was just too intriguing to pass up. Sure, my lifestyle and health decisions have been rigorously analyzed before — not long ago, I spent a year living with my parents­ — but this wasn’t my mom suggesting I might like to “go for a nice walk.” This was science.

Over 99 percent of my genome is the same as yours; in particular places, though, variations occur. And a subset of those variations has been associated with certain diseases or traits. DTC genetic testing companies make their predictions and recommendations based on a very tiny proportion of that very specific subset. Most of them don’t test your DNA themselves; they send the saliva samples to third-party labs to be translated into the unique sequence of compounds that make up your genetic code.

This information is then sent back to the company, where scientists analyze the data and compare your genetic variations to those that research has connected to different diseases or characteristics. “The information powering all of these companies is in the public domain,” says José Ordovás, the director of the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “The distinction comes in how much of this information they decide to use and the type of research that they consider valid.”

Although the recommendations I got weren’t far off from health tips I’ve heard before, I found that I actually followed them.

So far, there is not much oversight of this burgeoning industry. Most of the independent genetics experts I spoke with stressed the distinction between at-home genetics and the technology that doctors and research labs are using. It’s not that these tests are inaccurate — it’s just that they’re usually looking at a narrow group of genes and making predictions based on a single variation. So I chose to take my results like my horoscope: fun to think about, but not exactly gospel.

But there may be one way that DTC genetic tests are genuinely useful. Although the recommendations I got weren’t far off from health tips I’ve heard before, I found that I actually followed them. I upped my exercise and finally traded prescription sleep aids for melatonin. And I’m not alone. Research has shown that people are significantly more likely to make health changes based on genetic test results than on general medical advice from a doctor.

To read more of this article hit here

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

DNA test reunites half brothers; both were cops in Florida

Two Florida police officers working in different parts of the state recently discovered they are half brothers, thanks to a DNA test.

To watch the video hit here

Monday, November 25, 2019

Come prepared for the General Meeting on Dec 7, 2019

In the past, we have enjoyed tamales, enchiladas, delicious casseroles, pozole and more. We need mostly entrees and a few healthy salads, too. Desserts are also welcome. We will provide the drinks and paper goods. This is your opportunity to share with GSHA-SC your favorite cooking recipes. We do not have a stove at the SCGS Library where we meet in Burbank, so please bring a crockpot to keep your foods warm.

Please be the recipe of the food item you want to share in the great spirit of Christmas and the
holidays. Also, please remember to bring your checkbook. Consider buying  one of our self published books as a gift for the holidays. We are also happy to collect your dues for 2020. Dues help us continue to provide great speakers and events throughout the year. More importantly, sign up to be a volunteer!

We will be having a silent auction to help our organization out. We have several prizes that our geared for the  genealogist. You do not have to be present for them. If you are interested in participating please download the Holiday Door Prizes raffle prize and submit them to the organization by Dec 3rd, to our mailing address: PO Box 2472, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670.

We’re Losing Generations of Family History Because We Don’t Share Our Stories But here's how to get your kids, siblings, and parents talking.

Here is a quote from an article by Rachael Rifkin in the Good Housekeeping web site:

“Most people don’t know much about their family history. This is because people usually don’t become interested in genealogy until they’re in their 50s and 60s, when they have more time to reflect on their family identity. The problem is that by that time, their grandparents and parents have often already passed away or are unable to recount their stories.

“Because of this, we’re losing generations of stories, and all of the benefits that come with them. ‘Because our families are among the most important social groups we belong to and identify with, stories about our family tell us who we are in the world, and who we should be,’ says Robyn Fivush, Ph.D., one of the researchers behind the study The Power of Family History in Adolescent Identity and Well-Being. ‘Stories about our parents and grandparents provide models of both good and bad times, as well as models of overcoming challenges and sticking together.’

“The solution to this problem is to get people interested in their family histories when they’re still adolescents or young adults, when they can still hear directly from relatives. But how do we cultivate an interest in each other to begin with?”

You can find a number of answers in Rachael Rifkin’s article, hit here

Sunday, November 24, 2019

23andMe comments on protection

The following is from an article by Kathy Hibbs, 23andMe’s Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, as published in the company’s blog:

Our stance on protecting customers’ data
“A Florida judge recently issued a warrant granting law enforcement access to search the database of GEDmatch, a small publicly accessible DNA and genealogy research site. Allowing law enforcement access to GEDmatch’s nearly one million users should trouble anyone who values people’s right to privacy.

“It certainly troubles us here at 23andMe.

“Perhaps just as disturbing is GEDmatch’s apparent lack of scrutiny and challenge of the validity of the warrant issued.

“According to reporting by the New York Times, the company opened up its database to law enforcement within 24 hours of the judge’s decision. Given this timing, it does not appear that GEDmatch exhausted all legal avenues to challenge the warrant. In contrast, if we had received a warrant, we would use every legal remedy possible. And to be clear, because our database is and always has been private, we don’t believe that this decision impacts 23andMe.”

To read more information in the complete blog post, hit here

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Ancestry post a notice on Ancestry DNA

Your privacy is important to us. That’s why we want to share our position on a recent event where a Florida judge issued a search warrant to allow law enforcement to search all of GEDmatch, an open data personal genomics database. Following the issuance of the search warrant, GEDmatch opened its database of nearly one million users — beyond those who had consented to such access — within 24 hours. Ancestry believes that GEDmatch could have done more to protect the privacy of its users, by pushing back on the warrant or even challenging it in court. Their failure to do so is highly irresponsible, and deeply concerning to all of us here at Ancestry. GEDmatch’s actions stand in stark contrast to our values and commitment to our customers.

We want to be clear – protecting our customers’ privacy and being good stewards of their data is our highest priority. Not only will we not share customer information with law enforcement unless compelled to by valid legal process, such as a court order or search warrant, we will also always advocate for our customers’ privacy and seek to narrow the scope of any compelled disclosure, or even eliminate it entirely. You can find more information on our privacy philosophy here.

Additionally, each year we release a transparency report that outlines law enforcement requests for member data. To date, we have received no valid requests for information related to genetic information of any Ancestry member, nor have we disclosed any such information to law enforcement.

With regard to this situation, we, together with our partners at The Coalition for Genetic Data Protection, which was formed to advance business practices that ensure the privacy and security of an individual’s genetic data, have issued the following statement:

The Coalition for Genetic Data Privacy is deeply concerned by the recent decision by GEDMatch — a publicly accessible genetic database that is neither a member of our Coalition nor a signatory to the Best Practices — to not challenge the search warrant in the interests of their users’ privacy.

The Coalition believes that individuals deserve the full protection of the law when it comes to their personal and genetic data. This includes an obligation by companies who process genetic data to commit resources to closely scrutinize and challenge the validity of any warrant, including where the warrant may infringe on individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights.

When our users choose to upload their personal genetic data to other services that do not adhere to our Best Practices, they should carefully consider the commitments made by such services as they relate to law enforcement access.

It is incumbent on any company entrusted with sensitive personal information, including genetic data, to approach the issue of law enforcement access with a high degree of scrutiny, transparency, and prioritization of customer privacy.

We deeply value our Ancestry community and remain fiercely committed to providing a protected environment for journeys of personal discovery.
Eric Heath
Chief Privacy Officer, Ancestry

Thursday, November 21, 2019

DNA Results Reunite Siblings Separated Most of Their Lives

A brother from Texas and sister from Kentucky who were separated for most of their lives have been catching up on the past 53 years after matching DNA results online.

WYMT-TV reports Jim Lawless flew from Houston to Jackson County, Kentucky, to meet Tracy Walton. She had just told her husband that she didn't have any family anymore, before Lawless found her.

He says there was no question when he saw her photo that they are related. He says Walton looks like he did in high school and that his daughter looks like Walton.

Walton took a DNA test years ago. Lawless took his on Father's Day this year.

Walton says she and her husband plan to travel to Houston to visit her brother in the future.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Woman uses DNA test, finds sperm donor — and pays a "devastating" price

To watch the video hit here

Danielle Teuscher's 5-year-old daughter Zoe is one of thousands of children conceived with sperm from an anonymous donor. When Teuscher wanted to know more about her daughter's ancestry and possible health issues, she and other family members decided to get DNA tests from 23andMe and added one for Zoe. What turned up appeared to be one of the anonymous donor's immediate relatives. She was shocked.

The donated sperm had come from Northwest Cryobank, which offers donors anonymity, but Teuscher said the apparent relative she found on 23andMe listed themselves as open to messaging.

"I said 'I don't want to cross any boundaries. I just want to let you know that we are out here and we are open to contact if you are,'" Teuscher said.

The relative responded "I don't understand," so Teuscher said she let it go. But then she got a "cease and desist" letter from Northwest Cryobank, telling her not to contact the donor or "learn more information about his identity, background or whereabouts." The sperm bank warned it could "seek $20,000 in liquidated damages." Worst of all she said, it took back "four [4] additional vials of donor's sperm that" she "purchased" — sperm she'd planned to use to have Zoe's genetic siblings.

"Devastating. I mean ... I was shocked, I was crying for days, I could barely eat," Teuscher said. "I felt embarrassed almost. Here I thought I was doing this thing I thought was in the best interest of my daughter ... And then it just came back on me in just such a harsh way that made me feel like I did something terrible, like I was a criminal."

Northwest Cryobank told CBS News it does not prohibit DNA testing, but said "concern arises when one uses DNA test results to contact a donor and/or his family." The bank said clients like Teuscher have "contractually agreed to not independently seek the identity or attempt to contact these individuals." According to Teuscher, the contract was online.

"I mean, you just click the boxes," Teuscher said. Plus, she said, it's not all about her.

"My daughter is an actual living, breathing, feeling human being who did not sign that contract," Teuscher said.

Contracts or not, many donor-conceived children and their families are finding each other. Wendy Kramer runs the Donor Sibling Registry, a group that connects donor-conceived children and their families. Her own donor-conceived son has found 18 half-siblings, most of them through DNA test matches.

"All of us, thousands of us, have made these connections," Kramer said. "It's a right for everybody to know the truth about their own DNA, their own background, their relatives and their medical histories."

Northwest Cryobank said not all donors will want that opportunity. It said "there is a human being on the other side of the gift who may have a partner, parents, job and children of his own" and uninvited contact "could jeopardize these relationships and families."

But experts say in 2019, that contact may simply be unavoidable. He said despite our best efforts, it's impossible to promise anonymity anymore.

"The problem we have now is that the science has kind of overstepped where we are, in terms of legality," said Dr. Peter McGovern, an infertility specialist.

But Teuscher said with the loss of her vials, the promise of more children could be ended for her.

"They literally took my babies. My future babies," she said.

After we contacted Northwest Cryobank for this story, a representative sent Teuscher an email saying the bank would refund the money she paid for those additional vials of her donor's sperm, but did not offer to give her vials back.

The representative we spoke to at Northwest Cryobank told us that this is the only letter threatening legal action that they've ever sent to a client, to his knowledge.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Don't forget to renew your affinity designation to Ralph's Community Contribution Program

I know we listed "It is time to renew your Ralphs Community Contribution Program!", but because Ralphs had to change its computers  to handled the new credit cards, some or all of those who renewed in September will have to do it once again to help out our organization. PLEASE CHECK TO SEE IF YOUR AFFINITY CARD IS STILL HOOK TO GSHA-SC!

Thanks to all of the GSHA-SC members and friends who joined the Ralphs Community Contribution Program in support of the Southern California Genealogical Society. GSHA-SC receives over $200+ each year through participation in this program. Ralphs policy requires that participants re-join the program every year. All of our members who are currently enrolled in the Ralphs Community Contribution Program must update their information to continue to participate in the program.

Sign up or re-enroll here (see below).

Thanks for supporting GSHA-SC!Ralphs policy requires that participants re-join the program every year. Take advantage of their annual Fall Drive and update your information in September of each year.

All of our members who are currently enrolled in the Ralphs Community Contribution Program must update their information, ONCE A YEAR, to continue to participate in the program.
1. Log in to www.ralphs.com and Click Sign In and log into your account (or register for an account, then follow these steps)

2. SCROLL DOWN and find the COMMUNITY REWARDS section - Click the ENROLL button if you are new. If you are re-enrolling then go to Account box and double click it. It will display information on your account.
You may be prompted to fill in your name & address and save/submit...once you reach the Find your Organization


4. Toggle the button in front of GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY of HISPANIC AMERICA
Click the ENROLL again - and you are done!

If you need help please bring your Ralphs card number at the next meeting and we will assist you in signing or re-enrolling you up!

Support our organization by shopping thru Amazon smile

Support our organization by shopping thru Amazon smile
The holidays are approaching and you can make a difference for our organization!  AmazonSmile donates to Genealogical Society of Hispanic America-So CA Branch when you do your holiday shopping at smile.amazon.com/ch/33-0589453

Saturday, November 16, 2019

She grew up thinking she was white. Then she took a DNA test.

Christine Jacobsen’s discovery, through a home DNA test, that she had a black father led her to grapple with complicated questions about racial identity. “In my heart, I feel a connection.”

Ms. Jacobsen took her first consumer DNA test in 2016. When the test revealed 22% African ancestry, it appeared to confirm a story she was told, once, when she was 16 years old.

She grew up in Queens, N.Y., the only child of parents born in Denmark who immigrated to the U.S. in 1949. Her mother, Jytte Jacobsen, was a beautician whose alcoholism eventually prevented her from working. Jack Jacobsen, her father, was a sound engineer, who worked on the Oscar-winning movie “Apocalypse Now,” among others. Her parents had other relationships, she said.

The couple went out frequently to jazz clubs and nightclubs, making a point to meet the performers after the show. The party often continued back at the Jacobsen home.

One afternoon in May 1968, when she was 16, Ms. Jacobsen returned home from school and got into an argument with a man she knew was her mother’s lover. In the heat of the moment, she recalled, the man blurted out a secret her mother had confided in him: Ms. Jacobsen’s biological father wasn’t the man raising her. Her actual father was black.

Ms. Jacobsen’s mother, upset, started pacing around the room, but said it was possible. She pulled out a picture tucked inside a book. It was a publicity photo of a man, a dancer. The man was from the Bahamas, her mother said. His name was Paul. Ms. Jacobsen remembers thinking he had a beautiful smile, and a face that felt familiar in a way she found difficult to express.

“I think this might be your father,” her mother said.

The incident shocked Ms. Jacobsen. Later that evening, after her father got back from work, she recounted what happened. Her father dismissed the idea out of hand, telling Ms. Jacobsen it couldn’t possibly be true, and that she looked just like his own mother.

The next morning, Ms. Jacobsen went hunting for the photo but it was gone. She never discussed the subject with either of her parents again.

“I loved my father. He was the most important person in my life,” said Ms. Jacobsen. “I recognized that the only semi-stable person in the whole dynamic was my father, Jack, and I didn’t want to lose that.”

After the 2016 DNA test, Ms. Jacobsen came to believe her mother had been telling the truth. But she didn’t know how to verify the identity of her biological father. Her parents were both dead.

The DNA report noted she had relatives who shared common DNA segments, but none close enough to offer clues to her paternity. When she contacted three new distant cousins through the testing-company site, trying to figure out how they might be related, no one responded, she said.

She told her family and close friends about the test results. When she “found out her father wasn’t her father, her whole life changed,” said Angelo Marfisi, Ms. Jacobsen’s husband of 34 years.

Ancestry and race
Based on huge advances in genetic research, many scientists today believe there is hardly any connection between genes and race.

In 2003, scientists from the Human Genome Project announced they had essentially completed mapping of the human genome. The resulting genetic blueprint indicated that humans are 99.9% identical. The remainder, scientists said, likely contains clues explaining differences such as skin color or increased risk of certain diseases.

Some of those are connected to ancestry—where your predecessors came from thousands of years ago. Race, on the other hand, researchers say today, is a complex combination of factors from physical appearance to family stories and how people are treated as they move through the world. In other words, for many people, it is in large part subjective, not measurable.

After consumer DNA tests took off, customers have found themselves armed with increasingly specific details about their historical relatives. People don’t just have European ancestry; it can be broken down into a British or German component. Or they may be told their ancestry traces to Congo, not only Africa.

The information is based on migration patterns that happened thousands of years ago, through regions and among populations whose names, members, and borders have changed, says Wendy D. Roth, associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, who studies the effect of DNA tests on racial and ethnic identity. “But the tests present it as if it determines who you are today,” she said.

As Ms. Jacobsen found out, these kinds of results, when they reveal an ancestry that seems at odds with racial identity, can unsettle a life that had been stable for decades.

In May 2018, she decided to take another DNA test. She wanted to learn whether her African ancestry raised her risk of potential health issues.

To her surprise, she matched with someone in the company’s database who shared enough DNA segments in common with her to likely be a first cousin. Ms. Jacobsen was thrilled. A first cousin would share her grandparents and might know her father.

Ms. Jacobsen matches with a cousin who suggests her uncle Paul may be Ms. Jacobsen’s biological father.

She sent a note through the testing-company’s website asking to try to figure out how they were related. She says a woman wrote back, asking “What are the names of your parents?”

“I am not sure of my bio dad’s name,” Ms. Jacobsen wrote, “but I think he was from the Bahamas.”

The woman responded that her family was from the Bahamas.

“I’m from New York,” Ms. Jacobsen continued. “My mother told me she had an affair with a dancer who was from the Bahamas.”

“My mom’s brother was a dancer from the Bahamas,” the woman responded, “so I’m 99% sure your dad was my uncle Paul.”

Uncle Paul was Paul Meeres. This man, Ms. Jacobsen concluded, must be her biological father. She considered it convincing information, even though it wasn’t absolute confirmation.

He had died in 1986. Armed only with the name, Ms. Jacobsen started piecing together the history of her biological father’s family.

Dancing at the Cotton Club
She reached out to a Bahamian genealogist, Phil Roberts, who had created an extensive Meeres family tree. He told her that her grandfather, Preston Paul Meeres, was from the Bahamas but left for work in the U.S., where he met his wife, Thelma. The couple started dancing together, appearing on stage as Meeres and Meeres.

In the press, “they were the Negro Astaires of the 1920s,” said La Vinia Delois Jennings, a professor of 20th-century American literature and culture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The couple danced at the Cotton Club.

Despite their fame, like black performers of that era, when Meeres and Meeres danced at a club, they had to go somewhere else to get their meals “because they didn’t have the freedom to rub elbows with the wealthy white patrons who came to the clubs,” said Prof. Jennings.

Ms. Jacobsen found a newspaper clipping stating that the couple had two children, Paul K. Meeres, who she believes is her biological father, and a daughter, Gloria.

The couple divorced in 1930 and Preston Paul Meeres went to Europe, where he danced—and was photographed—with Josephine Baker. He eventually returned to the Bahamas in 1939 and opened up a nightclub in Nassau that drew celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor.

His son, Paul, became a professional dancer too, appearing in clubs in Europe and the U.S., including the Cotton Club. He was a stuntman in “Bronco Billy,” a Clint Eastwood movie, and at the time of his death at age 61, worked as a dancer and musician in a Titusville, Fla., restaurant, according to his obituary.

Ms. Jacobsen spent hours every day researching the Meeres family and the Harlem Renaissance. She read books about African-American history, and took the train from her home in Goshen, N.Y., into New York City to pore over archival photos of her biological grandparents and father in their dancing costumes, kept in collections at libraries such as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Ms. Jacobsen contacted anyone she could find online who might have known Mr. Meeres. She tracked down one of his old friends and, after finding records online for previous marriages, located a former wife.

They filled in the personal details she craved. Her father liked to eat a spicy dish of pigeon peas and rice and spoke five languages. He played the conga drums and knew how to tune a piano. He had a temper but was also charming and a ladies’ man.

One time, she was told, Mr. Meeres got pulled over by the police for driving erratically and to prove he wasn’t drunk, did a headstand on the roof of the car. The police fined him $35 for disorderly conduct.

Most of all, Ms. Jacobsen wanted to meet members of the Meeres family. When her parents died, she said she felt like an orphan. Now she found the obituary for Mr. Meeres that listed four children, who she believed were her half-siblings.

One was deceased, and two she couldn’t locate.

Another half-sibling, Paula, lived in Queens, N.Y., around a two-hour drive from her home.

She wanted to meet Paula, but was afraid to go. She didn’t know how she might react to her showing up.

In August 2018, Ms. Jacobsen was visiting a friend in Long Island. She learned her half-brother was buried in a cemetery there and decided to visit, bringing sunflowers that she placed on his grave. “I wanted to pay my respects,” she said, “and see if I felt some kind of connection.”

From the cemetery, on a whim, she drove to Paula’s home in Queens and knocked on her door.

There was no answer. Disappointed, Ms. Jacobsen started walking back to her car. Suddenly, she heard a voice coming from a small window in the basement, asking who was outside.

“My name is Christine,” Ms. Jacobsen said she answered. “I am looking for Paula.” She waited while the woman climbed the stairs. “I know this is going to sound really weird,” Ms. Jacobsen said, when the door opened. “But I did DNA testing and…”

After a few minutes of conversation, the two figured out they were likely sisters, talked about getting lunch and exchanged phone numbers. Ms. Jacobsen took a selfie of the two of them.

In a phone call the next day, Ms. Jacobsen described her research. She says Paula told her that she knew Paul Meeres was her father, but he didn’t raise her.

Paula shared some medical information, Ms. Jacobsen recalls, and then said something that took her by surprise.

“She told me I had a good life and a husband and son, and shouldn’t look for more family because it was going to make me sad,” said Ms. Jacobsen.

In her journal, Ms. Jacobsen recognized her pursuit inevitably affected other people’s lives. “My desire to know can clash with your desire to forget,” she wrote in one entry. “My neediness conflicting with another’s fear of connection. My fear of connection conflicting with another’s neediness.”

To read more of this article hit here

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

'I Was Numb': Family Secrets Come to Light After DNA Tests

To watch the video hit here

DNA testing is exposing long-hidden family secrets. More than 20 million people have shared their DNA with home testing companies which make it clear the results can be “unexpected facts” about yourself. But for one family, the unexpected fact shook their family tree down to the roots.

Eight months ago, Ryan got a call from his father, Gerry. It was a shocking conversation from the first words. "My dad gave me a call one night, very distraught, crying," Ryan said. "He said, 'I have some news.' At the time I thought there's a death in the family."

His father's news was family-related, but it wasn't a death. What Gerry showed his son proved even more shocking. "He sent a picture," Ryan said. "It was a screen shot of Ancestry.com. And he said, 'Your brother is not mine.' I said, 'What are you talking about?'" Then he asked his father, "What about me?"

Gerry and his wife divorced years ago, but only earlier this year did Gerry and both his sons find out that they are not biologically-connected. Ryan, 29, and his older brother, now 33, spent part of their childhood in New Jersey. They always thought their mother was their mother and their father was their father.

Instead, a home DNA test kit proved that a former New Jersey state trooper fathered both brothers. Ryan's mother confirmed to NBC10 that her sons' father is the New Jersey state trooper, but insists that she had no idea until the DNA tests this year. She declined to be interviewed on camera. "It's difficult. It's sad. But in the end, it really changes nothing as far as my relationship with my entire family goes," Ryan said.

Shocking results that took the family by surprise are expected to grow in number as millions more take home DNA tests in the years ahead. The idea that your life could be turned upside down from some spit on a cotton swab isn't what most people expect when they go looking for their ancestry.

The story of Ryan and his family is both a forewarning for others and an outlook people should consider if all new family history comes out in test results. "The results change nothing for me," said Ryan, who now lives in Miami. "My dad is my dad. I don't have to have a relationship with the other guy."

He added, "I'm grown up now. (I have a) family of my own. It's easier that way."

Home DNA testing kits, like those done by Ryan and his brother on Ancestry.com, have grown in popularity the last decade. More than 20 million Americans have taken tests provided by companies like Ancestry.com, a Utah-based company, and 23andMe, of California.

The pace of submitting DNA via consumer tests is rapidly speeding up, according to West Chester University professor Anita Foeman, who has studied the industry since 2006. More than 100 million people will submit their DNA for testing in just the next few years if the trend continues, Foeman said. "It is changing the way that we think about each other, our relationships to one another, and what's sort of out there and what we can keep secret," she said.

The tests also raise ethical questions about the Big Data aspect of such personal information: What can companies do with your DNA results? Should law enforcement agencies have access to the results? And of course, there is the upheaval within families when the results from a home DNA kit yield big surprises.

"We see them all the time," Foeman said. "The tests are far better at pinpointing genetic relatives than they are at ancestry. So if someone had some unclear ancestry, I could say, 'Well, you know, the test isn't perfect. But people are finding out, again, that their parents are not their parents, et cetera."

Saturday, November 9, 2019

DNA sites propose security plans to address genetic privacy fears

Recent weeks have seen a range of theoretical attacks against genetic genealogy services that could give access to people's DNA, but there is a plan to prevent them.
The two biggest genetic genealogy sites are hoping to introduce major new security measures to protect the DNA of millions of people, following recent concerns over risks to genetic privacy.
Anyone who takes a direct-to-consumer DNA test with a company such as 23andMe can download the raw data and upload it to third parties, often to help them find relatives.

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Friday, November 1, 2019

This Native American Man Has The Oldest American DNA Ever Recorded

The DNA testing company found Darrell Crawford's results so unprecedented that they said it was like finding Bigfoot.

Before Alvin “Willy” Crawford’s heart gave out, the Montana man asked his brother, Darrell “Dusty” Crawford to get his DNA tested. When he did, according to USA Today, CRI Genetics told Crawford that his results were so unprecedented that it was like finding Bigfoot.

CRI Genetics is one of many modern “biogeographical ancestry” companies. They trace a customer’s genetic makeup through time and space and attempt to find its place in the evolution of humankind.

The results, which are 99 percent accurate, indicated that Crawford’s line went back 55 generations. CRI Genetics said its never been able to date anyone’s DNA as far back as this. This is now officially the oldest American DNA found on the continent.

For Crawford, the test was merely done to assuage his brother. Naturally, he wished he could share these remarkable results with him.

“He’s the one who encouraged me to do this, and he wanted to compare our results,” said Crawford. “I just wish I could have shown it to him. It would have blown him away.”

The Bering Strait migration pattern Crawford thought his ancestors took to get here. The DNA test indicated otherwise.

The late Crawford lived on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Heart Butte, Montana. Darrell Crawford has long believed that his ancestors came to North America during the Ice Age, through the Bering Land Bridge, an ancient human migration route from Asia to the Americas.

The DNA results, however, indicated that the Crawfords’ ancestors came here from the Pacific. They initially settled in South America and then traveled north. To be clear, this, too, is merely a theory. While the company touts a 99 percent accuracy rate, other considerable variables are at play.

Crawford is part the mtDNA Haplogroup B2. This genetic population subset originated in Arizona some 17,000 years ago and has a fairly low frequency in both Alaska and Canada. It’s one of the four major Native American groups that populated the continent.

These groups are called clans, and all trace back to four female ancestors: Ai, Ina, Chie, and Sachi. CRI Genetics found Crawford to hail from the Ina clan. This DNA group’s closest relatives outside the Western Hemisphere are found in Southeast Asia.

“Its path from the Americas is somewhat of a mystery as there are no frequencies of the haplogroup in either Alaska or Canada,” CRI Genetics explained. “Today this Native American line is found only in the Americas, with a strong frequency on the eastern coast of North America.”

Blackfeet Community College professor Shelly Eli pointed to the mastodon femur found in 2017 as evidence that Native Americans have “always been here.”

For Shelly Eli, who teaches Piikani culture at the Blackfeet Community College, the scientific theories that this Native American line migrated to the Americas from elsewhere are unfounded. Citing oral stories and indigenous history, she said, “We’ve always been here, since time immemorial.”

“There’s no oral stories that say we crossed a bridge or anything else.”

Eli rooted her claim in 2017 research that dated human activity in North America at least 100,000 years earlier than the previous estimates of 15,000.

Darrell Crawford is a Native American from the Blackfeet tribe, which lives in a Montana reservation 3,000 square miles wide.

As for Crawford’s ancestral makeup, his results showed 83 percent Native American ancestry. While some of this was a mixture of various Native threads — 73 percent of that came from the same heritage.

The remaining 17 percent were comprised of 9.8 percent European, 5.3 percent East Asian, 2 percent South Asian, and .2 percent African.

For the scientific community, Crawford’s results are monumental. The benchmark for the oldest American DNA ever tested has now been moved back 17,000 years. For Crawford, himself, the find is an affirmation of long his ancestors have been in the region. Ultimately, he just wished he could share the news with his brother.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Home DNA tests reveal more than customers bargain for

To watch the presentation on CTV hit here

Are home DNA tests revealing more than customers are aware of? W5's Sandie Rinaldo investigates how much information you could be giving away.

It was a casual comment from a work colleague that launched a CTV's W5 investigation into home DNA test kits people do for fun, like the ones from Ancestry.com and 23andMe. A producer was curious about her heritage, as she's the child of a Canadian mother and Moroccan father. She wanted to learn more about her genetic makeup. The test was simple enough: deposit saliva into a plastic vial and send it off to Ancestry.com. A month later, it came back with a precise breakdown. She was ecstatic.

But W5 discovered that DNA home test kits come with rewards and risks.

What my colleague didn’t know was that her information, her DNA, the most personal and essential part of us, could very easily be in the hands of third parties.

W5 spoke to York University Professor Julia Creet, who has written two books on how commercial DNA companies operate. Professor Creet says, “They are making money by selling the information to other large companies.”

“Consumers are paying to give away their most valuable information, their most private and valuable information.”

But sharing DNA from these home tests has also helped police solve cold cases. W5 spoke to the families of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and Jay Cook, two Canadians who were found murdered in Washington state in 1987.

Their killer remained a mystery until 2018, when DNA from a second cousin, who had done a home DNA test, led police to William Earl Talbott II. He has since been found guilty, in the first of its kind court case using genetic genealogy. The technology was also central in the arrest of the notorious Golden State killer. That case has yet to go to trial.

DNA from a home test kit can also reveal family secrets; like your father is not your biological father.

A man we are calling Philip discovered a DNA secret that threatens to tear his family apart. He did not want his identity revealed because others in his family don’t yet know what he uncovered. Along the way, he also found two half-siblings and an explanation for a host of health issues he’s had to endure over the years.

In this new world, where technologies have taken DNA out of labs and onto social media, sperm and egg donors can no longer be promised anonymity. Case in point: a California university student, who discovered he had 32 half-siblings thanks to his biological dad, a sperm donor.

Toronto Lawyer Sherry Levitan, who specializes in fertility issues, says home DNA tests have fundamentally changed the nature of sperm and egg donation.

Levitan says “Donors cannot be promised anonymity and I think it would be a fool’s errand to promise anonymity.”

In a statement to W5, Ancestry says it "is committed to safeguarding our customers’ data and privacy and we give customers control over their own data at all times. We do not and will not share customer DNA data with insurers, employers, or third-party marketers."

The company also says it doesn't share customer information with law enforcement "unless compelled to by valid legal process."

23andMe issued a similar statement to W5, saying "Beyond the private lab we work with to process your sample and deliver your results, your information will not be shared with any other entity unless you provide us with consent to do so.”

Saturday, October 26, 2019

It’s Possible to Inherit More DNA From One Parent Than the Other :23andMe’s 4-million-person database reveals how many people are living with undetected chromosomal anomalies.

Before Natalie Nakles was born, before the egg from which she was conceived was even fully mature, something went slightly awry. The egg that would help form her ended up with two copies of chromosome 16. So today, 24-year-old Nakles does not, as most people do, have one set of chromosomes from each parent. She has two copies of chromosome 16 from her mother and none from her father.

This phenomenon, called uniparental disomy, can happen in any of the 23 pairs of chromosomes. In the scientific literature, it has been linked to spontaneous abortions—and if the fetus survives, skeletal abnormalities, seizures, intellectual disability, and childhood cancers. Nakles has Asperger’s syndrome, but she is otherwise healthy. She has no serious health issues. She only found out about her uniparental disomy after sending in her saliva to 23andMe.

Now a new study of DNA from 4.4 million 23andMe customers—as well as 430,000 people in the U.K. Biobank—suggests many other healthy people, like Nakles, are living with uniparental disomy. The study identified 675 such people and found no significant associations with deleterious traits. Uniparental disomy is both more common and less detrimental than the scientific literature suggested.

“I was really excited to see this paper,” says Wendy Robinson, a medical geneticist at the University of British Columbia who was not involved in the study. She had suspected that uniparental disomy occurs in healthy people more often than reported. But until recently, healthy people were not taking DNA tests by the millions. A doctor might see a few patients with an unusual disorder, order DNA tests to discover uniparental disomy, and then publish a paper. It’s like only searching for flowerpots under streetlights and concluding that every flowerpot must be under a streetlight.

The people in 23andMe and U.K. Biobank, on the other hand, skew healthy, and it turns out that even healthy people can have what might seem to be big genetic anomalies. “I like to say it’s normal to be abnormal,” Robinson says. She adds that uniparental disomy sometimes comes up in prenatal tests, and the results can make parents anxious because the existing scientific research is essentially a catalog of everything that can go wrong. This study might add some reassurance. “Just because you have that doesn’t automatically mean there’s going to be anything wrong with your child,” she says.

Uniparental disomy is the result of an error during meiosis, the process that forms eggs and sperm. Scientists have proposed different mechanisms, but the most common scenario probably goes like this: The error in meiosis gives the egg or sperm an extra copy of one chromosome, so the resulting embryo ends up with three copies on it. Sometimes, these embryos are spontaneously aborted, but other times, they are able to go through “trisomy rescue,” in which some cells lose that extra third chromosome and eventually outcompete the non-normal cells. The resulting child ends up with the right number of chromosomes, but not necessarily one from each parent.

This is all much more complicated than the standard story of sperm meets egg, yet the result is still a healthy child. “It goes against so many of the rules of biology you’ve memorized in school,” says Priyanka Nakka, a postdoctoral fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and former 23andMe intern who co-wrote the study. Scientists have theorized and later discovered other ways that conception can go very much awry yet still result in healthy children, such as sesquizygotic twins.

When uniparental disomy does lead to health problems, it is for one of two reasons. First, a child might inherit two copies of a rare, recessive mutation from one parent. Second, some genes are normally turned off or on depending on which parent they’re inherited from in a phenomenon called “genomic imprinting.” That means inheriting two copies from the same parent can cause various health issues. For example, two maternal copies of chromosome 15 leads to Prader-Willi syndrome; two paternal copies leads to Angelman syndrome. They are distinct genetic disorders with very distinct symptoms.

Genomic imprinting does not appear to be spread evenly across all chromosomes though, and uniparental disomy is more serious when on some chromosomes than others. Nakka and her co-authors found that most of the existing papers on uniparental disomy focused on disorders related to chromosomes 6, 7, 11, 14, and 15. But uniparental disomy among relatively healthy people in 23andMe and U.K. Biobank tended to be more common on chromosomes 1, 4, 16, 21, 22, and X.

As at-home DNA tests have become more common, customers have been discovering uniparental disomies on their own. One prominent genetic genealogist, CeCe Moore, told me she had seen about a dozen cases from people who had approached her about their unusual DNA test results. 23andMe doesn’t flag uniparental disomy to customers—and the company says it doesn’t plan to—but it’s possible to deduce from closely scrutinizing the results.

Nakles figured it out after she and her mom both took 23andMe tests, and she noticed they shared more of chromosome 16 than usual. She got her dad to take a test, too, and it confirmed they shared no segments of chromosome 16 at all. Nakles is a medical student, and she quickly pieced together how she came to be in cellular detail. When we talked, she traced for me the initial error in meiosis and the trisomy rescue that “fixed” it. She marveled at how easily she could have not been born at all.

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