Friday, September 11, 2020

Zoom Presentation for our General Meeting September 19, 2020 at 11:00 am

 General Meeting Saturday September 19, 2020 at 11:00 AM

Presentation via Zoom

Invitation to GSHA-SC members only

An email will be sent to you on how to attend this presentation

From Mexico City to Santa Fe

Presented by Henrietta Martinez Christmas

The Camino Real from Mexico City to the Villa of Santa Fe in the northern province of New Mexico where the land was unknown and isolated. The Camino Real permitted the founding of many mining centers and agricultural areas which today constitute some of the oldest cities in the northern central area of the Republic of Mexico and the Southern United States.

Henrietta Martinez Christmas, a prolific speaker, has given hundreds of presentations on topics related to Hispanic/Southwestern research. Engagements include: keynote – Santa Fe Trail Association, featured at annual conferences: Texas Genealogical Society, Historical Society of New Mexico, DAR and BIA, International Conference.

A native New Mexican, Ms. Martinez Christmas is a well-known genealogical and historical researcher. She descends from 11 of the soldiers that came with Juan de Oñate in 1598. She has written several books which relate to New Mexico’s small town and history and over 150 articles about New Mexico’s Colonial Families. She is a long-time member and the current President of New Mexico Genealogical Society. She has worked with the History Museum of New Mexico, the Albuquerque Museum, and the El Camino Real Heritage site in preparing exhibits and researching historical data. She is a frequent contributor to various author’s books in terms of researching biographies of noted individuals in books. She works with a group that honors historic women in New Mexico for their New Mexico Historic Marker Program. Honored by the DAR for historic preservations, she has extracted and transcribed over 50 books dealing with early New Mexico.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Panes Updates




Sylvia Magdaleno continues the inexhaustible work of transcribing documents from repositories that give information about various towns in Chihuahua. Her latest completed transcriptions are of the 1778 census of some small towns surrounding Cusihuirachi. They include Cajurichic, Usuachi, Coyeachi, Hacienda de la Consepción, Hacienda de la junta and Cerro Prieto. The organization is forever greatful for all the work that she does, work that may give one of our readers that long, lost link that they have been looking for.



It gives us great pleasure to announce that the Spanish Inquisition project of organizing a catalog for the images that are already on FamilySearch has begun. With the help of the Colegio de Michoacán, the Hispanic Heritage project has contracted with Dr. Isabel Juárez Becerra, who is the coordinator of the project, to make the catalog. She is directing a group of students from the university and they have now transcribed three of the rolls of microfilm. The transcriptions will be used for putting data in their catalogs. You can purview these films online at panes.info. However, unfortunately, our budget cannot sustain the cost of this project without more funding. As you know, Hispanic Heritage Project is a non-profit organization and we depend totally on donations. We invite you to donate so that we can continue this valuable project. You may donate at the same site, Panes.info.

Again, if you would like to participate in helping to transcribe, please contact by email to cmyturralde@gmail.com.




Thursday, September 3, 2020

Be Consistent

When entering items in your genealogical database, be as consistent as possible. While some things can vary from one individual to another, such as last names, other things do not. Transcriptions should always render documents and records as they were recorded and originally written.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Have you check on your own citations lately?

 When was the last time you went back through your “early research” and checked your citations and determined where the information was actually located? Sometimes early in our research, the rush to discover, and possibly because our experience and skill level still needs to be developed, conclusions are made that are not quite correct and sources are used that are not as reliable as others.

Cleaning up old citations for me has been a great brick wall breaker and “leads I never followed up on” finder. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get my research started again.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Have you written your bio?

 Chances are you have at least one ancestor that you wish had left some sort of written record behind. Most genealogists would be happy with just a page or two about an ancestor’s life–a complete five-volume autobiography is not necessary.

Have you left such information behind for the family members who may come after you? Write about your early life, your work years, your raising children years, political beliefs, etc.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

GEDmatch Security Breach

Please note that information retrieved from the GEDmatch breach may be being used to send phishing emails intending to lure users into signing into a fake website set up to look like MyHeritage, but is not. If you receive an email that seems suspicious or has the title “Ethnicity Estimate v2,” do not click. Do delete that email. Please read the MyHeritage article, here. To be very clear, MyHeritage has NOT been breached, but bad actors have harvested emails and are using them to try to lure targeted MyHeritage users.

Original article:

I always hate to have to report security breaches within the genealogy community, but GEDmatch not only experienced a breach over the weekend, they are still down while the situation is under investigation.

In a nutshell, for about 3 hours on Sunday, July 19th, all of the accounts, including law enforcement kits, were available in match lists for everyone. Also, kits that had been opted out of law enforcement matching were apparently, based on screen shots of their security settings taken by users who signed on during that time, also available to law enforcement in match lists.

Here are the three announcements on their Facebook page in order of posting.

The first one was posted on July 19 at 6:09 PM.

The update was posted on Monday, July 20th. GEDmatch was up for part of the day, but is now down again and will be for some time.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Getting to Know Mexican Church & Civil Registration Records - free webinar by Colleen Robledo Greene, MLIS now online for limited time

 The recording of today's webinar by Colleen Robledo Greene, MLIS, "Getting to Know Mexican Church & Civil Registration Records" is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.

Webinar Description

These records are often described as the best family history records in the world due to the wealth of genealogical information typically included in these records. Learn how to find and analyze Mexico civil and church registration collections to build out your Mexican family history. Even a non-Spanish speaker can be successful at this research.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 30 minute recording of "Getting to Know Mexican Church & Civil Registration Records" is now available to view in our webinar library for free. If you have a webinar membership, it is available anytime.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Blackstone Group Acquires Majority Interest in Ancestry.com

 Today, Bloomberg announced that Blackstone Group has acquired a majority ownership stake in Ancestry.com for 4.7 billion dollars. Yes, billion, with a b. You can read the article, here. Blackstone, out of New York, will own 75% of Ancestry and GIC Pte, formerly known as Government of Singapore Investment Corporation will own 25%.

Ancestry sold in 2012 for 1.6 billion to Permira. In 2016 the company was valued at 2.6 billion when it was acquired by Silver Lake and GIC. Their value now has significantly grown, which is interesting since the 18 million DNA kits have already been sold and that market is slowing. That means that the revenue generators are subscriptions and their health research partnerships which provides Ancestry a second opportunity to obtain revenue from DNA kits.

According to Bloomberg:

Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager with $564 billion in assets, is also focused on growing its life sciences group. It has spent more than $1 billion this year investing in drugs that target high cholesterol, kidney disease in children and devices for diabetes patients.

Blackstone made a press release in July about their Life Sciences Fund.

Blackstone also acquired 21Vianet, a Chinese internet data center/service in June, 2020.

Monday, August 17, 2020

How DNA kits spell the end for Ireland's family secrets

Long-lost parents and unknown siblings are being discovered through easily available genetic tests, often unwittingly. Are those who take them mentally prepared for the results?

All over Ireland and across the world, family secrets are being revealed for the first time because of commercial DNA tests.

Whether by accident, through mere curiosity or as part of deliberate and painstaking detective work, individuals are finding out about a hidden biological parent or an unknown sibling.

They are discovering affairs and liaisons that were covered up for decades, and the results are often painful, but enlightening. Siblings such as the abandoned babies Helen Ward and David McBride, whose story was told in these pages this month, are suddenly united.

In some ways, the process of doing a DNA test seems simple. In return for a fee of less than €100, a company such as Ancestry or 23andMe will send you a test tube for you to spit in and send back for analysis.

Weeks later, reams of information come back, showing up relatives who have also given DNA samples.

Dolores Quinlan, a psychotherapist who herself found her mother through DNA and helps adoptees who are going through the process, says: "People give DNA tests as Christmas presents, but they should come with a government health warning.

"People might do the test for the craic, and they may get back a chart showing how Irish they are," she explains. "People can keep their information public or private, but many don't know that, and they leave their information on the database, where other DNA samples will be automatically linked with their sample if they match - including those of future DNA contributors.

"All of a sudden, they are contacted by someone who is a daughter of the husband from a previous relationship that they never even knew about. The husband might not even have known that their ex-girlfriend got pregnant and had a baby. Or else it could be a half-brother or sister that suddenly contacts you."

The State may be notoriously reluctant to release adoption records, but the emergence of relatively cheap DIY databases such as Ancestry has driven a coach and horses through that cloud of bureaucratic secrecy.

To read the article, hit here

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Searching for your indigenous Roots in Mexico

Please join us in hearing John Schmal's online presentation on Thursday September 24th at 4pm.

 For more information please hit here

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

DNA testing kits: Family secrets revealed

It might seem like the perfect birthday present - a DNA test you can do at home to find out a bit more about where you come from. More than 26 million people have done tests with the leading companies worldwide. But as the database gets bigger - so does the number of surprises thrown up. Secrets that once went to the grave, are now being revealed years later. To watch the video, hit here

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Unbelievable Way 3 Men Found Out They Were Triplets Separated As Babies

Megyn Kelly sits down with two of the triplets from the documentary “Three Identical Strangers,” which tells the story of three identical boys separated at birth who found each other years later, having grown up within 100 miles from each other. The pair join Megyn Kelly TODAY with the story of their emotional reunion as well as the reason they were separated: a secret scientific study. To watch the video, hit here

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Work on Your Family Tree With These Free Online Genealogy Resources

Whether you come from a family that proudly displays their coat of arms in the foyer, or knows very little about where they came from, you may have some questions about your background. Being stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic means that we may have more time on our hands, but conducting genealogical research isn’t as straightforward as a simple Google search.

To read more of the article, hit here

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Friday, July 31, 2020

'I was found as a baby wrapped in my mum's coat – but who am I?'

Tony May was only a few weeks old when he was abandoned by the River Thames in London, in the middle of World War Two. He had no idea who his parents were for more than 70 years. Then a DNA detective dug up the truth about his past.

A few days before Christmas, in 1942, a baby boy was brought in to a police station near the Houses of Parliament in London.

He had been found wrapped in a bright blue woman's coat on Victoria Embankment, a road lined with trees and occasional benches that runs along the north bank of the Thames. The boy was judged to be one month old and, after no-one came forward to claim him, he was allotted a birthday. He also needed a name. It was common at the time to refer to the place a child was found - and so he became Victor Banks.

"I always wondered who they were, you know? And why I would have been abandoned, I think that's the main thing."

Tony May is sitting in an old easy chair in his flat in St Albans, just to the north of London. There are jazz CDs piled on a side table, and photos of trumpet players on the wall.

"I used to run a club on the jazz circuit," he tells me. "We'd get musicians who had played at Ronnie Scott's."

Tony is in his 70s. Though he moves carefully around his flat his voice is full of energy. He gestures now to one of the pictures crammed on to his mantelpiece.

"My mum and dad, Arthur and Ivy, didn't have any brothers or sisters so they had friends who we called aunt and uncle. They were lovely to me."

The couple adopted Victor Banks when he was a toddler in 1944, changing his name to Tony May. They went on to adopt a little girl called Eleanor who became Tony's sister. Tony remembers being told he was adopted when he was about seven.

"It was no big deal really. But I remember my sister went around telling everyone we were adopted and I was so embarrassed."

Image copyrightTONY MAY
Image caption
Tony and his sister, Eleanor
When he was growing up, Tony was particularly close to his father.

"My dad was very bright but although he was very interested in sport he was no good at it at all. When he realised I was good at it, he used to give me and my friend Mick cricket catching practice every night. He'd come home from the bank - I can see him now with his hat and umbrella - and he'd come down the garden to help us. And he'd take me to see major sporting events at White City stadium in London.

"I became a very good cricketer and schoolboy athlete because he believed in me. And when you're adopted you need people to believe in you."

Tony's adoption was rarely mentioned by his parents.

"I remember once my dad knocked on my bedroom door when I was a teenager and asked what music I was listening to," Tony says.

"It was John Coltrane on tenor sax playing ballads. He said: 'Do you think you play such mournful music, because you're adopted?' I said: 'No Dad, this is world-class music played all over the world.' He said: 'Oh, OK then.' That was that, there was no dialogue about it."

Tony only discovered he had been found as a baby on his wedding day, at the age of 23.

Image copyrightTONY MAY
"My dad sidled over to me after the service," he says.

"He told me that when I got back from my honeymoon he'd have an envelope for me with my exam passes and adoption order. He said: 'There's a word on it that you might not know, the word foundling. Just letting you know.' I didn't twig for ages what it meant. It was much later that I realised I'd been abandoned."

Tony went into banking, like his father, and then into recruitment. He also had two children.

Looking back, he wonders whether not knowing where he came from did affect him, despite what he told his father about the music he'd been listening to that day.

"I worried a lot about things going wrong, which meant I worked extra hard at getting things right. It did mean when the auditors came around at work I knew I'd get a clean sheet.

"Though I laugh and joke and muck about, I'm not tactile. I'm fairly reserved, I would say, about showing emotion. But I can cry my eyes out watching a rugby match."

It wasn't until his adoptive parents had died that Tony felt ready to investigate where he came from. His first port of call was the London Record Office, where he was amazed to find out he wasn't allowed to look at his own adoption file. The rules at that time stipulated that a social worker had to go in and make notes in pencil on his behalf.

The file revealed that after being found on Victoria Embankment on 19 December 1942 he was taken to the old Canon Row police station near Westminster Bridge - but there was no mention of who had found him or at what time of day. After being examined at a hospital in Chelsea, he was evacuated to Easneye Nursery in Ware, Hertfordshire, away from the risk of bombing.

Image copyrightTONY MAY
Image caption
Ivy May
Little Victor first met Arthur and Ivy May at Easneye. Before they were allowed to adopt him they fostered him for a year and Tony is visibly moved as he reads out a welfare report from that time.

"Date on which visit made: 5 November 1943. Is the child well cared for? The answer is: 'She devotes her whole time and attention to the baby and he is responding well to individual care and is becoming interested in people and things.' Are the applicants satisfied with the child? 'They are very pleased with him and delighted to have a baby of their own.'"

"That's lovely, that," Tony says, tapping the table for emphasis.

Letters in Tony's file reveal the Mays wrote to the authorities to see if they could find out any more about his history. The reply was definitive - exhaustive inquiries had been carried out to trace the parents, but all efforts had been unsuccessful.

Having reached this dead end, Tony then took his story to the media in the hope it might jog someone's memory. He appeared on radio, TV and in newspapers in the mid-1990s. Some nurses who had worked at the Easneye nursery during the war came forward, but Tony was no closer to finding out about the circumstances of his birth.

"I had given up. I thought, 'No man can do more than I have done, so that's it,'" he says.

Then, four years ago, Tony joined a Facebook group for foundlings. They swapped stories about their lives and their theories about why they might have been left.

Tony thought he could be the result of a liaison between a British woman and an American GI. It's estimated that about 22,000 children were born in this way between 1942 and 1945.

"I was found in London and I know this is an area where it was happening," he says.

He mentioned his theory in the Facebook group, and it was a move that would change his life.

The post was spotted by Julia Bell, a genetic genealogist who has used DNA to track down American servicemen who fathered children during World War Two.

Julia's first successful case was working out who her own GI grandfather was."My mother was over the moon to find out. Her father had died in 2009 but she had five brothers and sisters living all over the US. They send her presents for her birthday."

Julia was inspired by her experience to work on other GI cases, but she was now looking for a new challenge.

"I was finding the American servicemen cases very easy. They all knew who their mothers were, but not their fathers. I thought, 'How about giving that gift of knowing where you come from to people who don't know who either side was?'"

She had started looking at foundling cases when she came across Tony's Facebook post, so she introduced herself and offered to help free of charge.

"I thought, why not?" Tony says.

"I've tried everything you know, if you like you might as well go for it. I didn't think she'd be successful. How can you possibly be from so little information?"

And he was right that the case was a tough one, in fact it was the hardest that Julia had ever attempted to crack.

To read more of this article, hit here

Monday, July 27, 2020

Free Online Genealogy Resources to Research Your Family Tree

Whether you come from a family that proudly displays their coat of arms in the foyer, or knows very little about where they came from, you may have some questions about your background. Being stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic means that we may have more time on our hands, but conducting genealogical research isn’t as straightforward as a simple Google search.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A security breach opened up access to a genealogy site’s DNA profiles

Info could've been accessed by anyone, including law enforcement.

Over the weekend, a security breach changed the permission settings on millions of profiles in GEDmatch, a DNA database used by genealogists. For three hours, DNA profiles were visible to all members, including law enforcement agencies, which sometimes use the site to find partial matches to crime scene DNA.

Usually, GEDmatch users can select whether or not they want to share their DNA profile with police. When the attack reset users’ permissions, their data was temporarily visible to law enforcement. It’s unclear if any police searched the database during that time.

According to Verogen, the company that recently purchased GEDmatch, no user data was downloaded or compromised. But two days later, the genealogy website MyHeritage alerted users to a phishing scheme that targeted people who used both MyHeritage and GEDmatch. In a statement posted online, the company said it suspects the attackers may have gleaned the email addresses from GEDmatch.

Verogen has taken GEDmatch down. The company says it is working with a cybersecurity firm to conduct a forensic review and safeguard the site. That may not be enough to recover users’ trust.

Some already see giving law enforcement access to DNA profiles as controversial. As BuzzFeed News reports, this incident could limit those on both sides of the debate. If GEDmatch can’t keep data safe, users may be less likely to create DNA profiles, which could make it harder for police to use the site to solve cold cases. On the other hand, if GEDmatch can’t limit police access, users who may have made a profile on the condition it wouldn’t be used by law enforcement may not create a profile at all. That means less data for genealogists to work with.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Discovering unknown family through DNA tests

Taking a DNA test might yield some surprises about your heritage; a recent survey shows that more than a quarter of those who use mail-in DNA tests end up learning about close relatives they didn't know about. But it's not always happy or comforting news. Rita Braver talks with people who have met siblings for the first time, and with members of a support group for those who suddenly discover they have different biological parents from those who raised them. She also finds out how employees at 23&Me get special training to counsel people who've made shocking discoveries about their families.

To watch more of this video, hit here

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Family Secrets: What a Spokane cop discovered through DNA tests

Millions of people use DNA tests to learn more about their own ethnicity. But one of Spokane's best known police officers is using them to investigate her own father's sordid past and search for family members she's always suspected may be out there.

To watch the video, hit here

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Which is the Best Genealogy Site? Ancestry.com vs. FamilySearch.org: Learn the Power of Using Both!

Which is the better genealogy website, Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org?  In this Genealogy TV episode, I’ve got five examples demonstrating the power of using FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com together to amplify your family history search results.
To watch the video, hit here

Monday, July 13, 2020

DNA results for adopted man -

DNA results for adopted man - Ancestry.co.uk - Ancestry.com
After 46 years I have finally learnt what secrets my DNA ancestry holds.I got the kit from Ancestry.co.uk or Ancestry.com in the States.

To watch the video, hit here

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Native Americans Voyaged to Polynesia Long Before Europeans Reached the Americas, DNA Study Shows

Indigenous South Americans reached islands in the South Pacific some 300 years before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas, according to new genetic evidence.

New genetic research published today in Nature links indigenous South Americans to Polynesian Islanders. Incredibly, it seems a group from what is today Colombia voyaged to the South Pacific around 1200 CE, reaching islands thousands of miles away. Once there, they mingled with the local Polynesian population, leaving their genetic and possibly cultural legacy behind, according to the new research, co-authored by Stanford University biologist Alexander Ioannidis.

Archaeologists and anthropologists have been wondering about this potential link for decades, but evidence has been limited, inconclusive, and speculative.

While sailing through Polynesia during the 18th century, for example, Captain Cook documented the presence of sweet potatoes on South Pacific islands—a weird finding, given this root vegetable’s origins in South America. Scientists took this as evidence of indigenous South Americans traveling to the Pacific Islands or Polynesians traveling to South America and returning home with their sweet potato stash. This theory was challenged two years ago in a Current Biology study, in which the authors argued that the sweet potato arrived in Polynesia some 100,000 years ago, long before humans ventured to this part of the world.

To read more of the article, hit here

Monday, July 6, 2020

In the 1918 Flu Pandemic, Not Wearing a Mask Was Illegal in Some Parts of America. What Changed?

Most of our ancestors wore medical masks every day in 1918 through 1920. I remember my father describing those days when he was a 10 to 12-year-old. My mother was still a toddler in 1918 to 1920 and did not remember the masks herself but she relayed to me a number of stories her older relatives had told later while she was growing up. Your ancestors undoubtedly wore masks as well, both in the U.S. and in most other countries. The 1918/1920 Spanish Flu pandemic killed millions worldwide and most people in most countries wore masks and took other precautions, such as what we now call “social distancing.”

The following is from a rather interesting article by Paul French in the CNN web site:

When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Asia, people across the region were quick to wear masks, with some places like Taiwan and the Philippines even making them mandatory in certain scenarios.

But in the West, mask adoption has been far slower, with England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, for example, going so far as to claim mask-wearing is unnecessary.

Yet it hasn’t always been the case that mask-wearing is an Asian proclivity.

It certainly wasn’t during the influenza pandemic of 1918, which lasted from January 1918 to December 1920, and infected one-third of the world’s population, or about 500 million people, leading to about 50 million deaths — about half a million of which were in the United States.

You can read the entire article, by hitting here

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Census Has New Method for Privacy but Researchers Want Proof

The Census Bureau claims to have improved its ability to provide accurate data without risking the privacy of its responses, but experts are concerned there isn’t time to test the method before the data is published. The tweaks to the new method are critical to an accurate population count, one that will affect legislative mapmaking and the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funds.

“Unfortunately, the tabulation, documentation and quality control processes required for public releases of data products are enormously time and labor intensive,” Michael Hawes, the Census Bureau’s senior adviser for data access and policy, said in a statement. “With the 2020 Census now underway, we are unable to support the release of another full demonstration product.”

You can read more in an article by Michael Macagnone in the Governing web site by hitting here

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Update on Hispanic Heritage Project

The Hispanic Heritage Project and the El Colegio de Michoacán are pleased to announce that they have begun cataloging the following collection: “Procesos del Santo Oficio de México, 1522-1820, Sección genealogía de los procesados.”

To carry out the project, a team of catalogers is being organized by El Colegio de Michoacán to develop a catalog of the collection. It is supervised by Doctora Clementina Campos, director of the Office of Diffusion Cultural and coordinated by Dr. Isabel Juárez, who will be responsible for developing the project. This collection, housed at the Archivo General de la Nación has been previously digitized by FamilySearch and is located on its website, FamilySearch.org. The catalog will greatly facilitate searching and accessing the documents which will be available on the panes.info website.

The final product will be entitled Genealogía de los Procesados” It will contain the names of the accused and their genealogies that were notated during the inquisition process.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

“Who Do You Think You Are?” has been Renewed for Another Season

NBC has released a list of television programs canceled or renewed for the 2020/2021 season. In the list, there is a one-line entry that lists:

Who Do You Think You Are? 11 (13 episodes) returning series which will debut (TBD)

You can find the entire list of NBC programs at: https://newslagoon.com/en/entertainment/cancelled-or-renewed-status-of-nbc-tv-shows/152227/.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Mississippi woman's years-long search to find biological father

Amanda Holdiness enlisted the help of investigative genealogist and ABC News consultant Pam Slaton to try to find her dad through DNA databases. To watch the video, hit here

Saturday, June 27, 2020

One woman's incredible search for her biological parents

Three babies, three doorsteps: cracking a 40-year-old mystery

Janet Keall was abandoned on a B.C. hospital stoop in 1977. She’s been haunted by questions ever since: Who left her and why? This year, she found some astonishing answers.

To watch the video, hit here


WATCH PART 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lcZ4...

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ancestry DNA update, I just found my biological father!

I've never met my biological father, tonight Ancestry DNA found him. I talk about how it came about, how I feel about it, my expectations, why I feel conflicted and what I hope will come from it. To watch the video, hit here

Monday, June 22, 2020

Sub-Clustering Your Shared Matches at AncestryDNA

To watch this video, hit here  This is a process for clustering shared matches into sub-groups at AncestryDNA. These sub-groups are often more helpful than large shared match groups, by Blaine Bettinger.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Best times to purchase a DNA Kit

Want to purchase DNA kits?

There are certain times in the year where the prices come down and become quite a bargain. Companies will advertised before these dates to get you to purchase their products. These dates are the following:

April 25 DNA Day

second Sunday in the month of May- Mother's Day

third Sunday in the month of June- Father's Day

Holiday Gift giving- Christmas, Hanukkah, and such

If you check Amazon or any other wholesaler they will provide free shipping if you purchase a set dollar amount or you belong to their preferred membership. Once in a while if one company decides to lower their cost, the others will go along to keep their market share. Always be in the lookout or program Google to search when the price it below a certain amount.

Friday, June 19, 2020


After 26 years... I found my biological dad through an ancestryDNA kit.  To watch the video, hit here

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

An Unexpected Discovery: Kristin’s 23andMe Story

Kristin’s unexpected discovery opened up a new chapter in her life. Discover your DNA Story at https://www.23andMe.com and Live in the Know. To watch the video, hit here

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Man stolen as a baby meets biological mother

An American man who was stolen as a newborn baby in Chile 41 years ago meets his biological mother for the first time in his native country. CNN's Rafael Romo has more. To watch the video, hit here

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Father and Son Meet After 48 Years Through MyHeritage DNA

John Cummings was adopted at birth, and was always curious about his biological family. When he contacted the California Department of Social Services to find out about his adoption, they gave him some paperwork, but the information it had was very basic and there were no names or contact details. After learning that he might have to go to the Supreme Court to get more details, he got discouraged and gave up.Then, his wife bought him a MyHeritage DNA kit for Christmas.

To watch the video, hit here

Monday, June 8, 2020

On her 18th birthday ...

She found her dad on her 18th birthday. Years later, she found another dad after a DNA test. Jackie Cato searched for her father on her 18th birthday. Years later, her search began again after her daughter gifted her an ancestry DNA test.
To watch the video, hit here

Friday, June 5, 2020

How A DNA Test Led One Woman To Discover Her Secret Family History

Wendy Spencer joins Megyn Kelly on Megyn Kelly TODAY with her husband and daughter to talk about how a DNA test led her to uncover a shocking secret about her father and her true biological family. To watch to video, hit here

Monday, June 1, 2020

They Grew Up Believing They Were Half Brothers From The Same Sperm Donor. A DNA Test Revealed The Truth.

Since he was born, Tylen has known he had a half brother on the other side of the country. In 2008, Tylen’s mother, Christy Coyle, had used the same sperm donor as the other mom, Lauran, and they found one another online. The kids were born weeks apart, met as infants, and played together. Their single mothers spoke weekly on the phone and raised them as half siblings so they would always have someone just like them whom they could turn to. For years, a large canvas photo print of Coyle holding the two boys hung on a wall in Lauran’s house.

“We had planned that when they turned 18 and got to meet the donor that they were going to do it together,” Coyle said. “It was just our life plan.”


With their children approaching 10, the two women paid for an AncestryDNA test to provide the boys with a piece of paper confirming their ties and breaking down their genetic history. One evening, while on the phone with Coyle, Lauran looked up the results.

“And then it was just dead silence,” Coyle said. “There was no noise at all. And she just said, ‘They’re not related.’”

Coyle, now 41, was given the wrong sperm sample. The discovery sent her into a spiral. She felt violated, having been inseminated by a strange man whom she did not choose. She felt foolish, having searched in vain for physical similarities between the two boys. But she also felt that she had failed as a mother, as if she had betrayed her son and robbed him of the life plan she had envisioned.

“It was a couple of months of just sitting there, being devastated for my son,” she told BuzzFeed News. “Lots of no sleeping or crying because you don’t know what to tell your son. You feel like you’ve been lying to them about where they came from.”

It would take months — and a DNA test from an unsuspecting middle-aged woman living far away in Texas — before the mystery would be solved.

Courtesy Lauran
Tylen (right) with Lauran's son (left) as toddlers.

In the multibillion-dollar sperm bank industry, stories of mix-ups have become increasingly common. While federal regulators require that samples be tested for communicable diseases such as HIV, there is little to no national regulation beyond that: No laws punishing sloppy record-keeping at the clinics, no laws mandating that the personal information provided by donors is verified, no laws ensuring that women are being inseminated with the exact samples they have selected. And there’s currently no major lobbying effort to change any of that.

Wendy Kramer — cofounder of the Donor Sibling Registry, a website that connects children who were conceived using sperm donors — said most people don’t know how little the industry is regulated. “I think for so many of us when we had to use a donor in order to have a child we all thought, Oh, it’s the medical industry. These are medical professionals, so there’s going to be the same ethics and morals and responsibilities and record-keeping,” she said. “What many of us have come to realize over the years is this isn’t the medical profession. These are sperm-sellers, and that’s very different, and their ethics and responsibilities are very different.”

The increasing ubiquity and availability of at-home DNA testing kits, genealogy websites, and social media has been a slow-building storm for the donor industry, gradually exposing more and more cases of samples or records being mishandled. Just as police departments are cracking decades-old cold cases using genetic testing, donor-conceived children are learning shocking information about themselves and their families.

The mistakes from clinics span the country and stretch back decades, taking a profound human toll not only on children such as Tylen but also on donor-conceived adults, shattering their understanding of themselves and their families — as well as the bonds they have painstakingly built.

“We obviously didn’t grow up with one another, and we obviously didn’t live close to one another, so that already makes it difficult to maintain a relationship,” said Sam Johnson, a 29-year-old New Yorker who unearthed shocking information about his donor and his supposed half siblings after taking a DNA test. “But then when you add the fact that we’re not even related, it’s like, what’s really holding it together?”

These stories from Coyle and Johnson touch on fundamentally human questions: What is family? And what is its purpose?

For most people, of course, family goes beyond simple blood bonds but involves social connections built over years of shared experiences. It’s also a central means by which we get to know ourselves and build our identity.

For donor-conceived children, discovering new relatives with similar lived experiences can mean they’re extending their family in both the genealogical and social sense. The half sibling could fill in gaps in their biological identity and build a relationship that fills in part of their social identity and self-awareness.

“It’s hard enough for these donor-conceived people to kind of jockey around the whole idea of identity: Who am I when I don’t know where half of me comes from?” Kramer said. “Connecting with others who also share that unknown half of yourself can be very important, can be profound and life-changing. Relationships are made, bonds are made, and friendships are made. Their family has expanded.

“Then to have the rug pulled out under you, to say those people are not actually your biological relative, is extremely upsetting.”

Johnson knew at an early age that his family was different. Born to two moms in the early 1990s, he grew up an only child in northern Manhattan. Liberal New York was something of a bubble, but kids were still kids. “I definitely got shit ... Every time somebody would say, ‘Oh, that’s gay,’ I would fucking correct that,” he said. “People would definitely make fun of the way that I was born, the fact that I was conceived through artificial insemination.”

He loved his moms, but there was an occasional nagging feeling — a sense of mourning, as he described it, for not knowing exactly where he had come from. The only clue Johnson had was the donor information card from the New York clinic, Repro Lab, that his birth mother, Nicole Johnson, had used to conceive him. According to the donor sheet, “Donor #19” was Italian, Catholic, and worked as a doctor. He had green eyes and dark brown hair. He was married and enjoyed soccer and antiques. He didn’t smoke or drink, and he had a spotless medical history. “Describes himself as,” read the sheet, “optimistic, exciting, and honest.”

As he grew older, Johnson internalized what little information the paper provided him. He tried picking up some Italian using Duolingo and even had a friend teach him some recipes, soon perfecting the simple Neapolitan dish spaghetti aglio e olio. Occasionally, he’d search online for doctors’ photos, wondering if he looked like any of the men in the results. In 2007, his googling led him to Kramer’s website, the Donor Sibling Registry.

Within a year, he had connected with a woman who had the same “Donor #19” card from Repro Lab. And then another. And another. And another still. He was overwhelmed.

One of the women, Genna Ellis, was the same age as Johnson; she had grown up in Brooklyn, also with two moms. When she and Johnson met at Manhattan’s Union Square, what could have been an awkward encounter quickly eased into an hours-long walk as they discussed their similar childhoods. “It was a powerful experience for both of us, considering that was the first time we thought we were communicating with someone we were blood-related to,” Ellis said.

For the next decade, Johnson reveled in these newfound connections: A social worker by trade, he helped Ellis with an addiction problem. He visited one half sister in California when he helped a friend move across the country. He helped a third through a bad breakup and let her sleep on his couch. He was there when she got her first tattoo. She even came to his wedding.

“I was always proud to be like, yeah, this is my sister — to be able to say that,” he said. “I liked the idea of it.”

The first crack came when one of the supposed half sisters took a 23andMe test and learned she had Baltic, not Italian, heritage. She later matched with a Slovakian man who confirmed he had been a donor at the New York clinic in his youth.

Johnson took a 23andMe test. Ellis took one too. None of them were related to each other. Their donors were all different.

“It definitely hurt to find out that these relationships — not to minimize their significance — but to find out that the foundations that they were built upon were false,” he said. “Over the course of 10 years, I spent time forming relationships with these people. Not that they weren’t still meaningful, but it’s like the foundation is, like, what the fuck?”


Hulton Archive / Getty Images
William Henry Pancoast (1835–1897), an American physician and surgeon.

Secrecy — and fraud — have been present since the very first recorded case of successful artificial insemination in the US when in 1884, a 41-year-old wealthy Philadelphia business merchant and his 31-year-old wife came to see one of the city’s most prominent physicians, William Pancoast. The doctor and his medical students inspected both and ultimately concluded the man’s semen contained no sperm. After months of treatment failed, Pancoast came up with a plan B when one of his students joked that “the only solution to this problem is to call in the hired man.”

Pancoast invited the woman to his clinic and knocked her unconscious with chloroform. Then, without her consent and with his students present, the doctor used “a hard rubber syringe” to inject “some fresh semen from the best-looking member of the class” into her uterus before plugging her cervix with gauze. The students and Pancoast made a pledge of “absolute secrecy.”

She became pregnant, and Pancoast eventually felt guilty enough to tell her husband. He turned out to be “delighted with the idea” but asked that his wife not be informed. She later gave birth to a son. The insemination was only revealed 25 years later when one of the students, Addison Davis Hard, published a piece in a medical journal recounting the procedure. By all accounts, the woman was never told.

In the 1950s, scientific breakthroughs came with the freezing of sperm — and the early pioneers immediately envisaged grand commercial potential. One of the first researchers in the field, Raymond Bunge, predicted in a letter to his mother, “It won’t be long before my icicles will be in the deep freeze section” of supermarkets. But the research remained controversial; a 1954 headline about three babies born through Bunge’s method of freezing and insemination declared, “Fatherhood After Death Has Now Been Proved Possible.” Fear of so-called test tube babies abounded.

The first sperm banks didn’t arrive until the 1970s, mainly as a place for men to deposit and store their own samples for later use, say, if they were going through cancer treatment. Fertility doctors were still mostly using fresh sperm samples — not frozen ones — to inseminate women. When the AIDS crisis began and several women contracted HIV from fresh donations, medical preference shifted for the first time to using frozen samples for the procedure. The only real regulation implemented involved screening the samples for STDs. “But the list of diseases that are tested are relatively short,” said Naomi R. Cahn, law professor at George Washington University and author of Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Market Needs Legal Regulation. “And for all we know the same donor that could be rejected at one bank is going to another bank and trying again until that donor succeeds.”

There are no records of how many sperm donations are made every year in the US, nor of how many children are conceived, but it is frequently said to be between 30,000 to 60,000 births per year. Kramer with the DSR argues that number is woefully out of date.

Still, the scandals tend to find the media spotlight. There was the man whose samples were used to produce more than 150 children, the many parents who end up unintentionally having children of different races (in one instance because a clinic was said to have confused “Donor 380” with “Donor 330”), the woman whose dead husband’s samples were misplaced and allegedly used to impregnate other women, or the Georgia clinic that allegedly marketed a donor to hopeful parents as a neuroscience genius studying a PhD in engineering but who was in reality an ex-con who had never attended college and had a history of psychiatric hospitalization. His sample has been used to conceive at least 36 children.

Many of these mistakes would not have come to light had it not been for the arrival of the DNA genealogy market — an industry estimated to be valued at over $3 billion in the US alone. Even if donors had requested decades ago to remain private, genealogy websites and social media have made that largely impossible. A 2018 survey of almost 500 donor-conceived people conducted by Kramer’s website found that almost a quarter of them had used DNA testing to track down their donor.

As more donor-conceived children find their biological parents and half siblings, new and extended family units are forming. One 2016 study of 419 donor-conceived children found more than a third of them get together once a year with the half siblings they’ve discovered, and a fifth of them meet up together several times a year. Some 42% of them said they considered their half sibling to be part of their immediate nuclear family.

Courtesy Christy Coyle
Tylen as an infant.

Tylen had been Christy Coyle’s miracle. In 2008, she was single and working in the records department of a police department in Chicago's suburbs when she was told she needed surgery to treat cervical cancer. If she wanted to ever have children like she had always dreamed, her doctor said, she needed to move quickly. She got to work.

Within three days, she had selected a sperm bank that would mail her a sample, NW Cryobank in Washington state, and begun printing out information sheets about possible donors, organizing them on the floor in stacks. She made lists of her preferred qualities — blue eyes, blonde or brown hair, athletic, good eyesight, and above all healthy — and circled donors who met her criteria.

Some nine months later, she was holding her son after he was delivered via C-section. “He was just beautiful,” she recalled through tears. “It was like every dream that I had was in my hands, and I didn’t think that was going to happen.”

Using a forum on the sperm bank’s website, Coyle connected with Lauran, who was in South Carolina and had selected the same donor (Lauran asked that she be identified only by her first name and that her son not be named to protect their privacy). She, too, was a single woman now expecting a boy. “I always thought that I would have a child in a marriage where I have somebody to share it with,” said Coyle. “And it was like she was somebody who, even though we’re just friends, she was able to understand what I was going through at the exact same time, and that was huge. It got me through a lot.”

The connection deepened once the boys were born. “Once they were here, we could see what they looked like and how big they were,” said Lauran, now 44. “We were constantly comparing: ‘What size clothes is he in? Is he crawling yet?’ We went back and forth like that for years.”

When the boys were almost 2, the families met. The two women booked adjoining hotel rooms in Atlanta and watched as the kids played together in parks and water fountains and fed each other fruit. Soon enough, the door between the two rooms remained open and the boys ran back and forth freely.

Courtesy Christy Coyle
Coyle and Lauran's children playing together in the Atlanta hotel room.

Despite living far apart, the families remained exceptionally close. Lauran and Coyle even decided to use another matching donor for their second children to further connect their families.

But when Lauran logged on to AncestryDNA during the phone call with Coyle one evening in 2018, they finally discovered the truth. A subsequent DNA test performed by California Cryobank — which purchased NW Cryobank’s assets in 2016 from another company, Cryo — confirmed that only Lauran had been impregnated with the sample both women had requested. Coyle felt like all the planning she’d done years ago, all her best intentions, had been for naught.

“I thought I was doing what was best. I picked somebody who he would get to know when he turned 18. I had a piece of paper telling me what he looked like. I had all the information, and suddenly you find out none of that was true. You don’t even know who you got,” she said. “It’s a really hard thing to process. And you have to go back and really reevaluate if you made the right decision. I question myself a lot. It made me feel horrible.”

There was grief, too. The vision the women had for their sons’ futures — a half brother to call their own, a donor whom the boys could meet together when they turned 18 — had disappeared. “We thought, Well, if something were to happen, if the donor decided he didn’t want contact, or he turned out to be a jerk, [my son] and Ty would have each other. No matter what, they’d have each other,” said Lauran. “And it just completely took that away from us.”

Sitting on their couch in 2011 in California, Bryce Branzell and his new fiancé, Ariel, were watching a TV show when one of the characters went to a sperm bank. The show brought up an old memory for Branzell, then 23, about the time he’d almost donated to a clinic. When he told Ariel, they laughed about it. “I was like, good thing you didn’t!” she told BuzzFeed News. “We joked about it like, good thing you didn’t and you don’t have 10 kids out there!”

In 2008, Branzell had returned from basic training with the Army Reserves in Montana. Money was tight. As he scanned the classifieds for jobs he saw an ad promising $500 for every sperm donation. It was easy money. He filled out an application detailing information about his physical condition, health, and education. Within a few weeks, he was called in to provide a sample so the clinic could test his fertility and determine if he could donate.

That’s when he started having doubts. He liked the idea of getting his fertility tested, but he still wasn’t sure if he was comfortable with donating for real. When he turned up at the clinic for the awkward experience of masturbating into a cup, the nagging doubts were suddenly alarm bells.

“At the time, I was thinking prior to this, Yeah, it’s a good idea. I like the fact that I can help a family have a child,” he said. “But then I actually got in there, and I’m thinking about the long-term things that could potentially come from this and the fact that I want to have my own kids and how awkward it would be to say, ‘Hey, boys, girls, guess what? You’ve got an older sibling that you never knew about.’”

Branzell handed his test sample to the male technician and then apologized. He was backing out. He said he was assured his sample would be disposed of and he had nothing to worry about.

A decade passed. Branzell deployed to Afghanistan twice, first with the Army and then the Marines. He met Ariel. They married and moved to Texas, where he became a police officer in Round Rock. Ariel began flipping houses. Together, they had two boys: Conrad, 5, and Asher, 2.

Courtesy Branzell Family
Bryce Branzell and his wife, Ariel.

Then in January 2019, Branzell received a text message from his mother. She had been building a family tree and was given an AncestryDNA kit for her birthday. Now, a woman in Illinois had sent a message seeking medical information about her own son, who was conceived using a donor linked to Branzell’s mom. Had he ever made a donation before?

“It was one of those moments where I’m like, there has to be some sort of mistake here. There’s no way something could have happened,” said Branzell. “And then all of a sudden the thought popped in my mind that this did happen; I did provide a test sample to the company. Could that have been it?”

Branzell began pacing the room as Ariel went to the woman’s Facebook account and began scrolling. She saw pictures of the woman’s son. She was shocked. He had the same chin and ears as her husband. She found photos of the boy as a baby. He looked just like their own son.

Branzell couldn’t help but agree: “She pulled up a picture of Tylen,” he said, “and I thought, Yep, he looks just like me as a kid.”

A DNA test would later confirm it: Branzell was Tylen Coyle’s father.

The first phone call between Branzell and Tylen was full of awkward fits and starts. “Hi, I’m Bryce,” he recalled saying to his son months later. “Yeah, I’m your dad? I guess? Maybe?”

“You could tell he was nervous about it. He wasn’t as talkative, according to Christy, as he usually is,” Branzell said. “It was kind of awkward to begin with. Just, how do we handle this relationship now?”

For both Branzell and Coyle, there is no guidebook for families suddenly joined together — or, in the case of Sam Johnson and Genna Ellis, torn apart — as a result of errors in the donor industry. Their relationship — their understanding of what their family is — is whatever they and their children want it to be.

How Branzell’s sperm sample ended up being used to conceive Coyle’s son is now the subject of a federal lawsuit. He is suing California Cryobank and Cryo for negligence, fraud, and infliction of emotional distress, among other things. (Reached for comment, lawyers for California Cryobank referred BuzzFeed News to their motion they filed on May 13 to dismiss the case. Cryo also filed its own motion to dismiss. Both companies argue they did not inherit NW Cryobank’s liabilities when they purchased its stock and are not responsible for any wrongdoing.)

The Branzells had decided to contact Coyle the day after they learned of her request. She’d merely been asking for medical information about her son’s donor, and they reasoned that if they were in her situation they would want the same. (Branzell has a history of blood clots, and the couple test their boys routinely.)

When the message arrived, Coyle felt like she could breathe again for the first time in months. “It was a relief that — oh my gosh, I finally know that at least there is a person and he’s a real person that gave that donation,” she said. “I know it sounds dumb, but I was finally able to put a face with my son’s other genetic half.”

Courtest Christy Coyle
From left: Coyle and Tylen.

This hunt for medical information is also the driving force for Johnson in wanting answers about his donor. He’s a father himself now; he worries for his son, Phoenix, who was born last year with gastroesophageal reflux disease, despite it not running in Johnson’s nor his wife’s known family. What else could be lurking? “He may have another rare disease that we could get tested,” said Johnson, “but I have no idea what the fucking medical history is.”

Johnson knows that family is about more than DNA. He has good friends he considers to be Phoenix’s uncles. And the relationships he built with the women he thought were his sisters still mean something to him; he’s just not sure what.

“I spent most of my life always wondering what the other side of me was,” he said. “You sort of start to piece together an identity based on this collective understanding of you guys having the same sort of situation and we’re like, oh, we’re related. We can form our own weird sober family thing! And then as soon as you start to do that and it’s taken away, it makes it feel like not necessarily that your time has been wasted but...yeah, it also does.”

“It definitely does feel like a loss,” he said. “It feels weird now if I were to contact them and try to talk to them, there’s this voice in my head that’s like, why? Not that they’re no longer important to me. I still care about them. Feelings like that don’t go away, but I envision this cruel audience in my head being like, You’re being weird reaching out to these people. They’re not even related to you.”

In 2018, after he learned he was not related to his supposed half siblings, he wrote to Repro Lab, but the company said it no longer had the appropriate records on file. “We understand how you feel,” a company representative wrote back to him in an email provided to BuzzFeed News. “There is a lot of confusion from the findings you described and we understand the emotions it has surfaced.”

The reply infuriated Johnson. “Have you been through this exact same experience?” he told BuzzFeed News of their response. “Then don’t fucking tell me you understand. I’m pissed.”

Awilda Grillo, director of Repro Lab, told BuzzFeed News she could not say definitively what occurred in Johnson’s case as she started working at the clinic after his mother ordered the sample in 1990. “I don’t know if it was an error in record-keeping,” she said. “We’re talking about 28 or 29 years ago. ‘Donor #19’ was, I think, probably one of the first donors of the Repro Lab, and back then things were different.”

She also suggested that the physicians who inseminated the different women may have made errors. “You can’t say because you have a piece of paper that you were inseminated with that donor. The only thing that could confirm that is the record of the procedure,” Grillo said. “I don’t want to point fingers and say ‘they’re guilty [or] we’re guilty.’ Who knows? Who knows who’s guilty? But I’m saying there’s so many possibilities.”

The New York Times reported last year — in a story Grillo said was “misleading” — that the New York State Health Department had found poor record-keeping at the clinic. The investigation was prompted when a woman discovered her 21-year-old daughter had been conceived using a sample from Repro Lab she had not originally selected.

Grillo said Sam’s story was “unfortunate” and “upsetting,” but she had no answers for him. “There’s no clarity,” she said. “There’s a lot of unknowns, unfortunately.”

In three states — California, Indiana, and Texas — so-called fertility fraud laws now make it a crime for a doctor to knowingly inseminate a patient with a donor whom they have not selected and given consent. These laws mainly came in response to doctors who used their own samples to impregnate unknowing women. (One Indiana doctor parented more than 60 biological children through this fraud.) But courts have been loath to find that families have suffered as a result of an accident or negligence as long as the child is healthy. The Utah Supreme Court called this “the supposition that the road not taken would have led to a better result” and described it “a common human fallacy.”

This was the judgment Coyle said she feared receiving in sharing her story with BuzzFeed News. “It seems like the moms in these kinds of stories usually get responses like, ‘You should be happy that you just have a healthy kid,’” she said. “But they don’t understand the emotional strain that it puts on you, and I think that they really need to change regulations and be held responsible for what they did.”

Lauran, too, is sympathetic to her friend’s plight. “I’ve read stories of other moms. The judge kind of says, ‘You’ve got a healthy kid. What do you care?’ Well, because this is a person, and I’ve been telling him one thing for 10 years and now I’ve been lying unknowingly,” she said. “He’s a person. He’s not a product.”

Months after the Branzells reached out to Coyle, the couple’s attorneys arranged for a meeting in Los Angeles. Ariel arrived first and had the awkward experience of meeting a total stranger who had given birth to her husband’s child years before she had. “It’s just the weirdest,” she said. “You’re instantly connected, but you’ve never met them. You don’t know any of their history, but you have this really strong connection.”

It was there that Coyle pulled out her phone to FaceTime her son so he could speak to his father for the first time. She had waited until it was confirmed that Branzell was his donor before telling him about the mix-up. For Coyle, sharing the painful news that Tylen was not related to Lauran’s son was tempered somewhat by his excitement at knowing at last who his father is. He now peppers his mother with questions about Branzell’s work as a police officer and time in the military — cool to almost any 10-year-old — and wants to know if he, too, liked science when he was a kid.

Branzell, though, is taking it slow — for now, at least. He and Ariel haven’t told their sons yet about their new half brother. He also doesn’t know how many other children he may have out there, or how many times his supposedly discarded sample may have been used. He wonders what might happen if someone else turns up at his door at age 18 asking to be part of the family.

Still, he envisages a future relationship with Tylen one day. “I know that he wants to have a relationship with his father, and it wouldn’t be fair for me to say I don’t want that,” he said. “He’s a kid, and I want to give him the things that he wants because he didn’t get this choice. None of us did.”

In South Carolina, Lauran also had to sit her son down and break the news about Tylen, but she isn’t sure he really understands or has emotionally processed what happened. “I don’t know that he feels the full brunt of it just yet,” she said.

But, she told him, Coyle and her boys are still family even if he is no longer related by blood to them. Ten years of bonds don’t vanish overnight.

In her home, she still has on the wall the canvas photo print of Coyle and the kids, taken on that Atlanta trip in the hotel pool. Tylen wears a life vest, and Lauran’s son has floaties on as he reaches up to the camera for his mom. Coyle is beaming as she cradles them both.

“It’s just a good memory,” said Lauran. “I still think of it as when my son met his half brother, even though I know biologically it’s not true. That’s how I still like to think of it.”

To read the full article at BuzzFeed, hit here

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Mixed-race Man takes DNA test-See results

A mixed-race man gets HUGE surprise with DNA ancestry test. His whole life has been based on an incorrect myth. See how the test gives him answers.
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Monday, May 25, 2020

Using DNA to solve adoption cases

The adoption community in the US have developed some amazing tools to help adoptees use DNA to reconnect with their birth families. Maurice will be looking at this methodology and how it can be applied to adoptees as well as ordinary family tree research to help break down brick walls. Both autosomal and Y-DNA will be covered and Maurice will present a real life example of how to use the methodology in practice. This also works if one of your parents or grandparents was adopted.

Dr Maurice Gleeson, MB - Maurice is a psychiatrist, a pharmaceutical physician, & a genetic genealogist. He did his first DNA test in 2008 and since then has used DNA to good effect in his own family tree research, finding relatives in Australia whose ancestors had left Ireland in 1886, and tracing one line of his family back to the 1600's in Limerick. He is now Project Administrator for the Spearin, Farrell, and Gleason Surname Projects and runs several special interest projects, including the iCARA project, which aims to help people with Caribbean ancestry and Irish surnames find their ancestral homelands and even distant cousins living today. Maurice organises Genetic Genealogy Ireland and speaks about DNA and genealogy at international and national meetings.

This lecture was presented at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 (Thurs 16th to Sat 18th April 2015, Birmingham, UK). Please note that these videos are copyrighted to the presenter and should only be used for personal study. They are not to be used for any other purpose without the presenters express permission. Also, please note that because this is a rapidly advancing field, the content may quickly become outdated.

To watch the video, hit here

Friday, May 22, 2020

My Family Secrets Revealed on Ancestry

Barbara and her family want to know more about the African roots they've discovered in their family history, specifically where in their family tree their African DNA first appeared. Will AncestryDNA and family history research be able to help Barbara and her family?

To watch the video, hit here

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Borderlands of Southern Colorado Online Talks

Many participants in the Borderlands of Southern Colorado Online Lecture Series have requested recorded versions of their talks. They are happy to share that the recordings are being added to their YouTube channel if you missed them.  To watch the past videos on YouTube, hit the link

Saturday, May 16, 2020

DNA Test, found my dad!

To watch the video, hit here

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

How to Interview Your Dad, and Why You Should Do It Now

To read the article in full, hit here

Shortly after I had my dad on my podcast, I started receiving messages from listeners who decided to interview their own dads. Here’s one of them:

"I just listened to your podcast with your dad and became motivated enough to interview both [parents] individually. Wow. Afterward, I felt such a weight lifted from my chest! They told me old stories I've heard a hundred times before as well as tokens about them I'd never known. We connected and opened up to each other in ways we never had before. It was amazing. These recordings have become my most valuable possessions. If anything happens to my parents during these uncertain times, I know I would regret not having those interviews."

In this post, I'm going to offer interview techniques for those of you who want to play journalist and conduct an interview with Pops — especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most people have extra time on their hands and are connecting with family via Zoom. Make no mistake, this interview will require bravery. It forces you to face the white skull of death and to recognize that your dad isn't going to be around forever—and to grapple with the notion that long after he's gone, the recording will remain. Unlike edited video interviews, which present humans in filtered soundbites, long-form audio reveals their contradictions, verbal tics, and run-on sentences—all the stuff that makes us who we are.

Often during an interview, a theme will emerge, and you should allow yourself to just let that happen. As my dad told stories from various periods of his life, it became clear that many of his decisions were tied to his belief that if he approached situations with generosity, the benefits will come back to him in tertiary ways. When you do it right, an interview can be a gift to your subject; it allows them to see the story of their life more clearly. So just remember that every dad has a great story. You just need to ask yours the right questions to unearth it.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Swine Flu Pandemic | Deadly plague of 1918

Historical documentary about 1918 Swine Flu or Spanish Flu and the role of World War I in spreading the disease among troops making it into a worldwide plague of devastating proportions. The video covers where it began, how and where it spread, the symptoms, how it affected America and whether it could happen again. to watch the video, hit here

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Tayrone's Ancestry Reveals More Than Expected

Tayrone was born in Brazil, but has always suspected that he might be of Portuguese descent. He's come to My Family Secrets Revealed hoping an AncestryDNA test might be able to help, but his ethnicity estimate is about to reveal more about his origins that he ever expected.

To watch the video, hit here

Thursday, April 30, 2020

'Baby Adam' Found In Dumpster Gets To Meet Biological Father 25 Years Later

A local man has waited 25 years to meet his son. Sunday was the day they met. Joy Benedict reports. To watch the video, hit here

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Forgotten Plague

By the dawn of the 19th century, tuberculosis had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. Doctors believed it was hereditary, but had begun to observe that fresh air and outdoor living could sometimes change the course of the illness. Physician and TB patient Edward Trudeau was convinced the clean mountain air was like medicine for the lungs.

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Monday, April 27, 2020

Amid the pandemic, a family learns their neighbors are their long-lost relatives

When Kjetil Njoten and his wife, Zoe Leigh-Njoten, along with their son, moved from London to Los Angeles a few years ago for Kjetil’s job at a TV network, they spent their first year trying to find the perfect neighborhood to put down roots. Last summer, they bought a house in La Crescenta, a community 15 miles outside of L.A. It would take them months, and a pandemic, to discover that family roots had already been planted by long-lost relatives living four doors down.

The Njotens had met some neighbors in passing, but it wasn’t until California’s coronavirus stay-at-home order in March that the Njotens had a chance to really get to know the people who lived near them. During a “social distancing happy hour” outside on their street in early April, the Njotens struck up a conversation with Erik and Jen Strom, who live four houses away.

Because Kjetil, 45, is originally from Norway and Erik, 38, has Norwegian ancestry, they started discussing Norwegian heritage. Jen, 37, said she had casually looked into her husband’s family history in the past but stopped when she was unable to locate Newton Island, where her husband’s Norwegian family was supposedly from.

Kjetil and Zoe joked that it could be Njoten Island, the tiny speck of an island northwest of Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city. Kjetil grew up in Njoten, and it’s from there that his family derived its surname. The island, Kjetil said, is three miles long and one mile wide and has a population of about 30 people.

They said it is often pronounced as Newton in English. But it is spelled “Njøten” in Norwegian and pronounced nyuh-ten.

“When [Jen] said ‘Newton,’ I thought, ooh, maybe!” said Zoe, 46. “It would be a ridiculous coincidence. Ridiculous. But maybe it’s Njoten!”

That night, Kjetil emailed his mother in Norway, asking her to do some sleuthing. She looked at her own family records, and by the time Kjetil woke up the next morning, she had replied. Not only was Erik’s family from the same island, but the two men shared the same great-great-grandfather. In fact, the home that Kjetil grew up in once belonged to that great-great-grandfather, Jacob Njoten.

This was too momentous to share over text. The Njotens asked the Stroms to walk over to their house, and while standing at a safe distance under the Njotens’ covered porch, Kjetil said: “Hey, good news! You are from the island, but not only that, we are related!”

The four of them stood there for a moment. Then there were cries of disbelief and tears.

“We were ecstatic!” Jen said.

“None of us can believe it,” Zoe said.

They resisted the urge to run over and hug each other.

Having made the discovery during a pandemic is a double-edged sword, Erik said.

“It’s given us an exciting thing during this difficult time,” Erik said. “But having it happen during this time also means we can’t do what we would like to. We can’t hug or have dinner together or go in each other’s homes.”

But, as Jen pointed out, maybe it took something like this life-altering event to bring them together.

“We wonder how long it would have been [for us to make this connection] if we didn’t have this reason to slow down from our regular life,” she said.

The discovery would have been amazing at any time, said Kjetil, but to uncover it during the lockdown was “such a bright light in what is a pretty uncertain and worrying time.”

The best part for both families is what this means for the youngest generation — their children. Monty Njoten, 10, and Emma Strom, 4, will grow up as cousins living just 100 yards apart.

As European expats, the Njotens have missed having family close by, and of all the neighborhoods and houses they could have picked in the Los Angeles area, Zoe said: “We end up living on a street next to these people originally from this tiny island [in Norway]. It’s crazy! It’s beautiful.”

As they wait for coronavirus isolation to end, the Njotens and Stroms chat through their new family WhatsApp thread, swapping recipes, photos and family stories. The Njotens showed the Stroms a framed aerial photograph of the idyllic island, which includes the farmhouse where their great-great-grandfather — and 100 years later, Kjetil — lived.

This discovery prompted Erik to ask his mother, who also lives in La Crescenta, more about their family. He got some genealogy documents from her, and she showed him a family history book that commemorated a large reunion on Njoten Island in the 1990s that some of Erik’s relatives attended. Among the scanned photographs is a group picture that includes a young Kjetil.

“That blew our minds a bit,” Kjetil said.

The spiral-bound family history book also holds the lyrics to a “welcome song” from the July 1996 reunion, all about their great-great-grandfather Jacob’s farm and family on Njoten Island. A verse mentions that Erik’s great-grandfather Andreas “bid farewell and sailed west for U.S.A.” in 1896.

That’s where the family history splits between continents. No one could have predicted there’d be another reunion in 2020 in an American neighborhood more than 5,000 miles from that farmhouse in Norway.

The Njotens and Stroms are hopeful that a group trip to Njoten Island will be possible sometime soon, but in the meantime, they’re busy making plans to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day, an official public holiday observed May 17. But if the California stay-at-home order is still in effect then, they’ll turn their sights to a holiday that’s still new to the Njotens — Thanksgiving.

“We have American family now,” Zoe said.

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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Friday, April 24, 2020

I found a sister on Ancestry DNA

How do you tell a new sibling that their father was a career criminal who died in prison? This was a conversation that I had in 2019... Watch me ring in 2020 and offer practical advice on how to handle unexpected DNA matches with siblings. (This video is a little dark in topic)

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

1918 Spanish Flu historical documentary | Swine Flu Pandemic | Deadly plague of 1918

Historical documentary about 1918 Swine Flu or Spanish Flu and the role of World War I in spreading the disease among troops making it into a worldwide plague of devastating proportions. The video covers where it began, how and where it spread, the symptoms, how it affected America and whether it could happen again.

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Sunday, April 19, 2020

"Like Horoscope Readings!": The Scammy World of DNA Test Startups

In the spring of 2017, a college student named Mary spit into a tube and sent it to the DNA testing company Ancestry, which analyzed it and sent back a breakdown of her family history. But Mary wanted to know more.

The human genome contains, in theory, an extraordinary wealth of pre-programmed information about who we are and who we might become: whether she was at risk for the same types of cancer that killed her parents, for instance, or if she had medical conditions she could unknowingly pass on to her children.

For that information, Mary — we’re withholding her last name to protect her privacy — turned to a dubious new sector of the genomics industry, in which startups claim to provide vastly greater insights than prominent companies like Ancestry and 23andMe do. She uploaded a copy of her raw genetic code, which Ancestry provided as a 17.6 megabyte text file, to a site called Genomelink, which advertises tests for everything from medical conditions and mental illnesses to ludicrously specific personality traits including “loneliness,” “social communication problems,” and “vulnerability to helicopter parenting.”

But when her results arrived, Mary immediately noticed that many were “wildly inaccurate.” Genomelink said she was “less easily depressed,” but Mary was diagnosed with clinical depression at a young age. The startup predicted that she had a peanut allergy, but Mary told Futurism that “peanut butter is one of the true loves of my life.” Other errors in Mary’s report included traits like blood iron levels, body fat measurements, hearing problems, height, and skin complexion.

“I felt that much of it was off-base and unhelpful,” she told Futurism, “as it didn’t fit me at all.”

Genomelink is just one of a growing number of shady DNA testing startups now operating in the regulatory Wild West of commercial genomics.

There’s GenePlaza, for instance, which sold a DNA test that claimed to predict users’ sexual preferences — and still sells tests that purport to measure intelligence and risk of depression. A company called Soccer Genomics claims to examine a child’s DNA to create a sports training regimen to turn them into the perfect soccer player. An outfit called GenoPalate told a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter that their DNA demanded a diet of elk meat and passion fruit. A venture called Vinome claims it can recommend the perfect wine for each person based on their genetic code.

The problem, according to experts, is that these companies are promising information about DNA with a granularity that even scientists can’t deliver. Deanna Church, a geneticist at the biotech company Inscripta, told Futurism the tests are “all equally useless.”

“There is not a scientific basis for this sort of testing,” she said. “I certainly would not recommend anyone spend any money on this sort of thing.”

But thousands of people are doing just that — and receiving supposed facts about themselves that have little or no scientific grounding. This can cause problems — Genomelink customers could feasibly see their predictions for traits like “gluten sensitivity,” “longevity,” or “alcohol drinking behavior,” assume the results are valid, and make ill-informed lifestyle or medical changes based on the results.

And other Genomelink customers agree with Mary: the results just don’t hold up.

“It sometimes feels like horoscope readings!” one woman told Futurism. “Many seem like self-perception results. How can I know if they are correct when what I feel about it may only be my perception rather than a fact?”

Another concern is privacy. Genomelink tells customers they can request to have their data scrubbed from the company’s servers, but all it takes is one corporate acquisition — or potentially a generous enough bid for the stores of personal data — for that to change. Underlying the phenomenon is an unavoidable economic reality: It’s getting incredibly cheap to have your DNA sequenced. Just ten years ago, it cost nearly $100,000 to produce a full human genome, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. Today, an Ancestry kit costs just $59.

These increasingly-affordable tests are tantalizing — your DNA is essentially a personal blueprint that dictates everything from your susceptibility to specific diseases to your eye color. While our environments and lifestyles play major roles in who and what we become, the influence of DNA is vast.

The ability to interpret DNA’s full influence, however, still eludes us. Geneticists have only started to crack DNA’s code, and experts told Futurism that they’re nowhere near able to predict something as complex as personality traits — and that any startup claiming to do so should raise immediate red flags.

“I think it’s fair to say that by and large, most of these tests are not useful at the moment,” Shoumita Dasgupta, a biomedical geneticist at the Boston University School of Medicine, told Futurism. “Maybe it’s just me being cynical, but I think it’s simply greed that is driving people to develop these tools for which there is limited scientific justification at best.”

Tomohiro Takano, the CEO of Genomelink parent company Awakens, readily admits that the results aren’t always accurate.

“I know that many of the DNA traits may not be true,” Takano said in an interview with Futurism.

Takano did point toward some steps Genomelink has taken to communicate its own limitations. Every time a Genomelink customer gets a new trait report, he said, it comes with information that indicates how reliable the prediction is, along with a breakdown of the rigor of the studies it’s based on.

Takano also defended the company by saying that it doesn’t explicitly recommend lifestyle changes based on results.

“What we want to do here is communicate that limitation too,” he said. “Many of our users, myself included, want to know where is the science today.”

Overall, Takano said, he sees Genomelink as an entertainment product as much as an educational one — an idea that was harshly rebuked by experts.

“I think it is concerning when the line between medical testing and ‘entertainment’ is blurred,” Gillian Hooker, President-Elect of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, told Futurism. “Imagery and language that indicates a test may be medically useful could be very misleading when there’s limited or no evidence to support its use.”

“And I think there is a particular vulnerability when you involve conditions that are poorly understood scientifically, physically and emotionally challenging and for which people may be seeking answers that science has yet to uncover,” Hooker added, listing traits like depression, allergies, vitamin reports, and food sensitivities — all of which Genomelink claims to identify.

Make no mistake: DNA tests can already provide doctors with valuable information about patients’ health, and Hooker often helps patients navigate them in her clinical practice. Genetic assessments can help oncologists determine whether their patients have a high risk of cancer, for instance, and how best to treat any existing tumors.

It might be simplest to picture DNA as an extremely intricate instruction manual. DNA exists as a long string of molecules called nucleotides, which include one of four molecular components. The order of those four components, read from one end to the other, guides the biological machinery found in every cell as it assembles and operates the human body.

Hooker said DNA screens will likely provide useful tools for cardiologists, neurologists, pediatricians, and also for prenatal caregivers. But the science to support tests for mental illness and intelligence — already a poorly-defined metric — isn’t there yet.

“For complex traits, we just don’t understand enough to be able to look at someone’s DNA and make predictions about sports ability, intelligence, etc,” Church, the geneticist, said. “It is not that these things don’t have a genetic component, it is just that we don’t understand enough about the genetics, or how environment impacts these genetic variants.”

Because this realm of science is so new, Hooker recommends that patients consult with trained genetic counselors who can offer specialized guidance to make sure tests will yield useful info and help people understand and come to terms with their results afterward.

Mary took her results with a grain of salt and realized that Genomelink wasn’t giving her valid interpretations of her DNA. But others could easily be misled — Mary said that she feels Genomelink never communicated to her the scientific limitations of its reports.

“Personally, I find it irresponsible to market products of this type,” Dasgupta, the geneticist from Boston, told Futurism, because providing genetic trait reports that are validated by robust science alongside flimsier predictions lends authority to the latter.

She added: “We can’t expect the average consumer to be able to tell the difference.”

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