Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reviews and Previews

In a previous post I mentioned a book titled Albion's Seed by the great historian David Hackett Fischer. If you have ancestors from Massachusetts (Puritans), Delaware (Quakers), Virginia (plantation owner or indentured servant), or Appalachia (Scots-Irish), you will want to read this insightful book about how each of these areas was influenced by the customs, language, building techniques, etc. of the particular area of Britain from which it got its emigrants.

I was looking for a similar book that covered more American regions when I found American Nations by Colin Woodard. He divides North America (yes, he includes Canada and northern Mexico) into eleven "nations." However, his book wasn't really what I expected. It was not an explanation of how customs from the old country traveled to America; his book was more about ideas and opinions and how even today the thinking of the original settlers in the eleven regions affects our political and social decisions. If you want to know what your ancestor was thinking and how it affects you even today, you should read American Nations.

Turning from books to software, I'd like to recommend a new (free) genealogy program called Genome Mate. Genome Mate allows you to upload DNA results from Family Tree DNA, 23 and Me, Gedmatch, etc. so that they can be compared on one site. In addition to graphics that show matches with relatives by chromosome and segment, Genome Mate also utilizes ICW (In Common With) data, lists surname matches, suggests possible ancestor connections, and provides plenty of room for research notes. I'm working through my list of Relatives, noting email communications and ancestor connections/lineages, if I know them.

Examples from Genome Mate site

Thank goodness for this new program--I was getting so tired of looking through file folders and reading back through emails to find out if I was remembering something/somebody correctly.

Just a couple of warnings. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't been able to figure out how to cut and paste from an outside source to Genome Mate. It would be nice if I could copy the URL of a family tree and paste it to the Family Tree box on Genome Mate. Or copy an email and paste it in my Research Notes. Again, maybe it's possible and I just don't know how.

Be sure to read the fine print on uploading data from I spent five hours trying to download data from, only to read on the Genome Mate site that "Since Ancestry does not provide DNA segment data, there will not be segment data displayed on Genome Mate's main page for Ancestry." Not their fault, but mine--I should have read all the instructions before starting.

After an insanely long process, all you will have is a list of relatives and their surnames. It would be nice to have all available matches in the same place, but personally, I don't think it's worth the time it took. (I quit before all the results were downloaded.) If it showed segment matches, it would be worth it, but it doesn't.

Genome Mate instructions state that the only way to get segment information is to upload Ancestry data to Gedmatch first. True, and great that you can get it from Gedmatch, but of course, you only have that option if the owner of the DNA data uploads his results to Gedmatch. You have no control over that.

Genome Mate ( has helpful written instructions (just be sure you read all of them!) and YouTube videos to help you get started. More information is available at and a Facebook page keeps you up-to-date on new features.

A recent newsletter from Family Tree magazine informed me that the new season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on TLC will begin July 23. Ancestral profiles for the following celebrities are featured this season: Valerie Bertinelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lauren Graham, Kelsey Grammar, Cynthia Nixon, and Rachel McAdams.

"Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." will begin its new season on PBS on September 23. Profiles there will include Sally Field, Ben Affleck, Carole King, and Tina Fey.