26 January 2011

First day of 23andMe test results, and already a breakthrough!

I've been a FamilyTreeDNA customer for a couple of years, and I've had great success with using DNA testing combined with traditional genealogical research to break through one brick wall so far (see here http://randymajors.com/2010/12/man-who-wasnt-john-charles-brown.html).

I recently became a 23andMe customer as well...their holiday special was just too good to pass up!

Well, I started receiving my test results a couple of days ago for the Health Edition, and yesterday for the Ancestry Edition of 23andMe.  I'm excited to say that I already have lots of matches to explore, and have already received about a half dozen requests to make contact, and I've sent about a similar amount to other people!  A quick summary of the 23andMe Relative Finder shows that I have the following matches with other 23andMe customers:

  • 4 second cousins (all with no name or personal details in their profiles though...bummer.  Hopefully some of them will respond to my contact requests)
  • 1 third cousin
  • 68 fourth cousins
  • 386 fifth cousins

Here's what's most exciting:  The very first person that tried contacting me through 23andMe is already a match and a bit of a breakthrough!  (And she was in the "fifth cousins" list)

Out of respect for her privacy, I'll not mention her name, but here's how the process has gone thus far.  Again, this was all in just the first day after receiving my test results!

  1. I received a notification e-mail from 23andMe that a potential 5th Cousin would like to make contact
  2. I clicked on the link in the email and viewed her 23andMe profile, in which she listed her family surnames 
  3. Her profile mentioned a few names that I thought were worth exploring since they match names in my tree:  Fuller, Pierce, Pugh, and Warren, and "possible names" (her words) Hart and Shofner.  So I accepted her invitation to connect and asked her what else she could tell me about those particular family lines.
  4. She replied in an e-mail that included high-level details on these matching family surnames, including names, locations, and dates.  Out of all the names, only one was worth exploring ...but it appears to be a breakthrough and solve a mystery for her in her tree!  Here's what she said in the latest e-mail:

"Henry Shofner 1755-1847 & Chloe Hart b.abt 1765 from Green CO KY may be my 4th gr-grandparents.  My gr-gr-grandfather Wm. Pringle appears to be their daughter's child.  Is this the same family as yours?  [She then goes on to list details about the 5 other matching surnames]  Anything ring a bell?  Of course, I'm hoping that the Hart/Shofner does.  That could answer one mystery in my tree."


Well, we found a match in a speculative branch of her tree, since Henry Shofner and Chloe Hart are my 6th great grandparents!  I've shared this information with her, and have offered to give her access to my private family tree on Ancestry.com so we can compare more details, confirm facts, share photos and more!

All in all, a very productive first day of results on 23andMe!

18 January 2011

President Lincoln writes a letter of thanks for "a pair of socks so fine"

On 4 Dec 1861, President Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to my 5th great grandmother, Susannah Crume Weathers, thanking her for a letter and gift she had recently sent him:  "a pair of socks so fine".  It seems quite funny and odd on the surface of it, and yet how quaint, charming, and even noble it is.  The letter is inspirational to me, as it exemplifies President Lincoln's unpretentious and accessible character.

Below is the letter as reproduced in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5 (Wildside Press, 2008).  How I'd love to see the original letter Abraham Lincoln had received from Susannah on 26 Nov 1861, and to see this original handwritten letter from Abraham Lincoln back to her.

It's even more astonishing that Abraham Lincoln wrote such a letter considering that this was in the middle of the Civil War, and knowing that he had untold pressing issues to attend to.  According to The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5, Abraham Lincoln wrote six other correspondences on the same day (4 Dec 1861):  two to Simon Cameron, two to the House of Representatives, one to George B. McClellan, and one to William H. Seward.

[As an aside, on my Crume/Weathers family line, Abraham Lincoln does not appear to be a direct blood relation to me.  Instead, he is the nephew of the wife of my 6th great grandfather.]

15 January 2011

Coming Soon: No more heads peeking over the fence on Ancestry.com! (Full faces soon to return!)

I have good news for anyone else that has been as annoyed as I have been about the photo display problems in the Pedigree view of the new Tree Viewer on Ancestry.com. (The same issue existed both in a beta they ran of a Tree Viewer a year or more ago, as well as in the more recent "preview" and recently released Tree Viewer.)

The issue is that the bottom of people's faces are cut off in the Pedigree view, as you can see in the screenshot below.


Now, skeptics may opine that this must be a problem with my photos. Not so :) The bug appears to be unique to the Pedigree view: the pop-up that appears when you hover over a person in Pedigree view, as well as the Person Profile page -- which all use the same photo -- all display as they should as you can see in the screenshots below.


So anyway, the good news is that I received an e-mail reply a couple of days ago from Jen Hodnett, the Ancestry.com product manager for the Tree Viewer, who stated
"you’ll be happy to know that we’re in the process of fixing this. Look for the update in the next week or so."

Yeah! Soon, we won't have our ancestors peering over the fence at us!