Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg, VA (part 1)

photos taken 1/19/13 - a bright, sunny, and freezing day!

I have always loved Colonial Williamsburg and walking through such historic streets. It's such a neat combination of old and new (and some new made to look old).

The Colonial Williamsburg website indicates that 88 of the buildings are original, including the Bruton Parish Church pictured above. The cemetery around the Bruton Parish Church was unique. Many of the stones are right up against the brick path around the church. I was especially intrigued by the bench built around one of the stones!

The Governor's Palace (in the last photo) was home to the following Virginia governors: Alexander Spotswood, Hugh Drysdale, William Gooch, Robert Dinwiddie, Francis Fauquier, Norborne Berkeley (Baron de Botetourt), John Murray (fourth Earl of Dunmore), Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson. The structure burned down in 1781 and excavation of the foundation and reconstruction took place in the late 1920s and early 1930s (citation).

I'm still exploring if I have any ancestors who lived in Williamsburg :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Another old book.

I think I have discovered a new interest in old books. This one I already had...it was my grandmother's. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A lovely old find at Goodwill.

Today my friend and I went to explore the book section of the local Goodwill store. Paperbacks are $1 and hardbacks are $2!

I found this neat old school book from 1917!

A child wrote his name and some information about his school inside the front cover. More pictures to come soon!

Friday, January 25, 2013

$0.99 Kindle Book

I'm a little skeptical about this usefulness of this book/article, but it got fairly good (if few) reviews. For those researching American ancestors it sounds like it might be interesting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

23andMe Ancestry Breakdown

My 23andMe DNA results were interesting and multifaceted. I tried to figure out a way to display them, but the font ended up being too small. I'll work on this soon. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

23andMe DNA Testing - Ancestry (+Health!)

I have always been interested in genetics (I considered becoming a genetic counselor for a while!) and the idea that spitting into a small tube could provide me with information about my genetic make up and ancestral origins was quite intriguing.

I missed my first opportunity to purchase an AncestryDNA kit over the summer, but received a second invitation in October 2012. I wrote about my results here. As a recap, I am decidedly the product of a whole bunch of northwest Europeans.

The 23andMe service caught my attention for two main reasons.

1) The ability to further differentiate my DNA origins into countries. British Isles is pretty specific, but nearly all of the paper trails in my research point to Ireland so I was curious if there was a way to genetically 'prove' this.

2) Health information! I know some people are uninterested in the health data included in the service, but this was a big drawing factor for me.

It only took two weeks from the time my sample was received until I had some results in my account. Some of the genealogy data took a few extra days to populate and appear in my account, but I certainly wasn't lacking information to examine during this time!

When you log in you get two main categories on the side of your screen - My Health and My Ancestry. Here are some interesting things you can discover under each:

My Health

My eyes are likely blue (yes), my hair is slightly curlier than average (yes), and my muscles perform more like a sprinter than an endurance athlete (nice! I just thought I was out of shape for long distance running!).

Drug Responses
Analyzes your response to 21 substances (some are medications and some are not). This section was fairly uneventful for me.

Carrier Status
Tests for 48 conditions. For females carrier status of the BRCA Cancer Mutation gene is hidden until you click through another set of check boxes to ensure you really want to know this information. This also came into play in a later section (risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's for both men and women). I opted to learn information for each category.

Disease Risk
This section is broken down into "Elevated Risk", "Decreased Risk", and "Average Risk". This was quite a fascinating section for me with a few surprises in each category. Clicking on each listing will provide you with a summary of the disease, which of your genes are contributing what, and in certain cases things you can do to modify your risk.

My Ancestry 

Edit: I forgot to add 23andMe says I am 100% European (a conservative estimate is 99.1%).

Neanderthal Ancestry
Interesting! Learning what percentage of your DNA was contributed by Neanderthals is an interesting experience. The information provided suggests for humans who originated outside of Africa 1-4% of their DNA will come from Neanderthals. I'm still doing more research on this.

Extended Family
I have 987 DNA relatives participating in the 23andMe site. I have already been contacted by 4 of them (exciting!) but haven't had a chance to respond yet! My account suggests 122 of those individuals are 3rd-4th cousins and 865 are 'distant cousins'. Nobody within the 1st-2nd cousin range at this point.

Mother's Line
Female participants receive their Maternal Haplogroup and some information about where their relatives were 500 years ago. I'm still learning more about how to interpret this information as well.

Countries of Ancestry
Ah yes, what I have been waiting for! This matches pieces of my DNA with DNA from other 23andMe users. There are options to increase or decrease the size of the DNA segment included. Therefore being more exclusive [larger pieces] or inclusive [smaller pieces] with the results.

I've played with the different settings a bit.
  • with the most 'exclusive' controls my list includes: Ireland.
  • with the most 'inclusive' controls my list includes: Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Norway, India, France, Denmark, Bahamas.
I am so excited and so overwhelmed with all of the information that I still have to look through!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I received my preliminary 23andMe DNA results on Tuesday and boy are they fascinating!

Some of the ancestry information is still populating, but so far I think this is a really neat and comprehensive service. I know some people aren't interested in the health information but I have really enjoyed reading through it. I found some things that were a surprise and some things that weren't (more detail on this later).

As far as what I can see about ancestry at this point my results from AncestryDNA and 23andMe are very similar!

Friday, January 4, 2013


I hope everyone had a nice holiday season! I am looking forward to some big changes happening in the first half of 2013.

My first genealogy goal of the new year is to get organized! All of my documents are in one folder on my computer and I am hoping to make a 'Table of Contents' so that when I am looking for a particular file I can find it. I try to label everything with titles, dates, and names so that I can search within Picasa, but this process isn't without flaws.

I like the idea of keeping everything electronic for a a variety of reasons - environmentally friendly, no stacks of paper, and fairly easy to search through (though as I mentioned, this could be better). That being said, I think I may start printing some things. I have trouble visualizing familial connections and areas of my tree that need more work when solely relying on the computer.

I received a tempting email from ancestry this morning about their discounted prices for the new year...so much to consider :)