Category Archives: DNA

Monthly Update – August

My brain is currently scrambled. The last month has been crazy. This year I accepted a position to share a contract with another teacher in a fourth grade classroom. It has been almost a decade since I was actually responsible for a class of my own! Last week was the first week of school. I survived three teacher in service days and two days in the classroom. Lots of new faces, new rules, and beginning of year assessments. And of course, this year my school is implementing a new reading/language arts program so everyone is super crazy trying to figure out what it is exactly we are going to do! My genealogy writing has been put on the back burner for a few months, but I am still managing to work on several projects.

Dear Mother, Love Daddy

Dear Mother, Love Daddy cover

Book sales have been slow and steady this summer. I am about to order a new shipment of books in anticipation of my lecture in September. I have three copies left if anyone wishes to purchase an autographed copy directly from me. Please use the contact form to message me privately.

Looking ahead, I am beginning to focus on the next volume of letters. One of the first steps is to come up with a name for the second volume. I like the idea of using some of the common phrases that Roscoe used to sign off his letters. A couple possibilities are So Solong, Love Daddy and Lots of Love, Daddy. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments! Bear in mind that there will be several volumes of letters so I could use more than one suggestion.

Sacramento Library

Genealogy Programs Summer Sac LibraryLast month, I attended the lecture by Jim Walton on Understanding the Logic of Genealogical Research. Despite a bit of technical trouble at the beginning of the presentation, Jim did a great job breaking down the research for his article that appeared in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (which was published earlier this year). I missed the lecture on August 2nd, but there is still time to attend the third lecture in the series on September 13th. Genealogist Melinda Kashuba will discuss using digital maps for tracking the migration patterns of our ancestors.

My Ask A Genealogist session at the end of July went well. I helped three library patrons explore their Chinese, African American and Mexican roots. Two of my three time slots for August are already booked so if you are interested in signing up, don’t delay!

The weeks are getting shorter and I am still trying to put together my presentation on Why Genealogy? The presentation will be on September 19th at the Franklin branch of the Sacramento library. Depending on how well the presentation goes, I would like to do some future presentations, including one on DNA research and/or identifying time periods in old photographs. Right now, I have to write a paragraph for the advertising blurb for my upcoming lecture!

Discovering Your Past

Discovering Your Past - Episode 1I have been informed that the next episode should be forthcoming. Maybe by the end of the week?!?! Due to a technical glitch during filming, I was unable to see my co-host! I basically talked to a blank screen while I heard a voice in my head (through my headphones). During my segment, we talked about putting together a research plan. If you missed the first episode, it is available on the Discovering Your Past YouTube channel.

Genealogy Lady Newsletter

I managed to write a second newsletter this month. If you are interested in signing up, there is a sign-up button on my Facebook page. With my new schedule at school this year, I am not sure how often the newsletter will be published. Generally, the newsletter will feature popular articles from my blog, and other events or happenings.


1079809-Clipart-3d-Green-DNA-Crop-Gene-Modification-Helix-Plant-Royalty-Free-Vector-IllustrationI had some GREAT DNA news this month. My son’s DNA results were finally processed at 23andme this week. It seems like my daughter’s results were done in less than three weeks, but my son’s stretched on for two months. The most fascinating part of doing my children’s DNA is seeing what and how much they share with their grandparents. We are all taught that a person shares 50% with each parent, and 25% with each grandparent, etc. But in reality, past the 50% with each parent, the rest is completely random and does not always follow statistical probabilities. It makes me wish even more that I had been able to test my grandparents. My son shares between 28-29% of his DNA with his maternal grandfather. He inherited his X chromosome from me, completely un-recombined, straight from his maternal grandfather, which means, that my son has Gladys’ X chromosome. It is so neat to really realize that my son has this chunk of my grandmother in his DNA.

The second amazing DNA discovery this month was a new match in my father’s match list. We now have a confirmed 4th cousin descendant of Alfred M. Dicks from one of Alfred’s siblings who did not leave North Carolina. This has been one of my DNA goals. To prove that Alfred M. Dicks was a descendant of Nathan and Eleanor (Leonard) Dicks. Since I published my book on Alfred last fall, I acquired a DNA match with a descendant of Achilles Dicks, who I theorized was Alfred’s brother. Because the Quakers were a relatively endogamous population, I have been nervous about claiming that my proof was completely solid. Having this additional DNA evidence makes my argument even stronger.

Personal Research Update

I have had SO many amazing discoveries this summer. I really am saving the best for last. In the WWII letters, Floyd Yegerlehner made many home movies. My father and I have both wondered if the movies still exist. The answer is YES!!! Floyd’s son, Steve, is in possession of many of the films. We were all curious to see whether they survived 70+ years without being degraded. Some are more so than others. Steve has been working hard this last month to digitally transfer some of the films. So far four have been completed. They are all posted on my YouTube channel. This clip was made in December 1942, and is mentioned in the letters that will appear in the next book.

These videos are a great example of how families can work together to save their shared history. Have a great month of genealogical adventures!

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
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Monthly Update – July 15, 2015

The last four weeks have been fairly laid back. Both of my kids were out of school for part of the month. My son attends a year round school so he doesn’t get much of a summer break between school years. My daughter attended a summer school enrichment class. We took a couple day trips and spent 4th of July weekend in San Francisco. But school started up for my son this week and I will head back to my day job as a part time elementary school teacher in a few more weeks. Summer is ending way too quickly here in Northern California although we are looking at over 100° temperatures for tomorrow.

Dear Mother, Love Daddy

Dear Mother, Love Daddy coverThe book is officially part of the collection at the Sacramento Public Library. Anyone in the region can request it and check it out. I imagine it is possible to obtain the book through interlibrary loan as well. Now that the catalog entry for the book is complete, I love seeing the Subject headings. Here is the list:

Sacramento area author
Yegerlehner, Roscoe Schiele, 1904-1989 – Biography
Yegerlehner, Gladys Ruth (Foster), 1905-1998 – Biography
World War, 1939-1945 – Letters (Correspondence)
Military spouses – Correspondence

Dear Mother, Love Daddy is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. If you live in the Sacramento area, Trent’s Bookshelf in Elk Grove also has copies available for sale. I have a limited number of copies available for sale (with a personalized autograph). Contact me through this website or send me message through my Facebook page.

Sacramento Library

Genealogy Programs Summer Sac LibrarySince we are on the subject of the Sacramento Library, I conducted my first genealogy consult at the library at the end of June. The main branch of the library has a team of genealogists available for free consults, but who wants to drive downtown? Not me! So I approached my local branch with the idea of running a similar program in Elk Grove. I only had one consult my first Saturday, but it was fun. I am available from 1-4 the last Saturday of every month at the Franklin branch. I will meet individually with 3 patrons for about 45 minutes each. An appointment is needed so inquire at the help desk. I know the next Saturday in July is already booked!

I am still tentatively scheduled to give a short lecture at the branch in September. I am currently working on a program called Why Genealogy?.

This weekend, on Sunday, there will be a free lecture at the main branch of the Sacramento Library. I hope to see you there!

Other Sacramento Events

The California State Museum is having a Family History Day this Saturday from 10:00-2:00. Admission is free with limited free parking at the lot on 10th & O streets.

Discovering Your Past

Discovering Your Past - Episode 1If you missed the first episode to this new genealogy show, you will find it on YouTube on the Discovering Your Past channel. Don’t forget to watch the follow-up episode! The first episode featured an interview with me as I discussed my book Dear Mother, Love Daddy. Host Dan Young helped me with a research problem at a cemetery in Nashua, New Hampshire.

After lots of messages back and forth this month between Dan and me, we are ready to film our next episode. Not to give away any secrets but this month we will be discussing something every genealogist should have and do regularly. Stay tuned for updates and links to the next episode.

Genealogy Lady Newsletter

After Jamboree, I realized that I really need to start publishing a newsletter in addition to my blog. So far I have published two newsletters. Due to the type of WordPress account I have, I am unable to post a link to sign up from this website. There is an app to sign up on my Facebook page, or try this link I am not going to guarantee that it will work but I am crossing my fingers. If the link works, you should be able to click the subscribe button in the top left hand corner. If you haven’t been successful with either of the above two methods and still want to receive my newletter, kuddos to you for sticking with me! Send me a message through the contact form and let me know that you want to receive the newsletter. I can sign you up manually from my end.


1079809-Clipart-3d-Green-DNA-Crop-Gene-Modification-Helix-Plant-Royalty-Free-Vector-IllustrationAnother goal after Jamboree was to DNA test both my children. Since the bulk of my family members have tested at 23andme, this is the company I used. I like their tools a lot. Because both my children are minors, I also like that 23andme has several layers of anonymity. You don’t have to share your genome if you don’t want to. Of course, this can also be frustrating when you want someone else to share with you!

At this point, the results from my eldest child have been processed. It is fascinating to see which segments she has inherited. As an example of the complete randomness of DNA inheritance, she shares 27% of her DNA with her maternal grandmother, but only 23% with her maternal grandfather. While close to the predicted 25% from each grandparent, the inheritance was slightly lopsided, even down to specific chromosomes. In theory, she inherited one X chromosome from her father and one from me. My X chromosome should have been a combination of the two X chromosomes I received from each of my parents. My daughter inherited her maternal X chromosome completely un-recombined from her maternal grandmother.

Gena Philibert-Ortega and the San Joaquin Genealogical Society

The San Joaquin Genealogical Society sponsored a free half-day seminar with Gena Philibert-Ortega this week. Gena gave two lectures: 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know and Newspaper Research for the 21st Century. Even though I am a professional genealogist, I love hearing my colleagues speak. I always end up learning something new. I gave Gena a copy of my book and she should be posting an interview with me in the near future. It was a good day for connecting with new friends from Jamboree, and I am looking forward to attending a regular society meeting when they start up again in the fall.

My personal research update

Rosina (Yegerlehner) Wolfe

Rosina (Yegerlehner) Wolfe

I received a packet of materials from the Indiana State Archives. They recently posted a new index on their website for the Central Indiana Hospital of the Insane Admission books. Three of my 2X great aunts ended up in the asylum system between 1893 and 1911. I have always wanted to learn more. And boy, with the packet I received, did I ever!

The person I wanted to know the most about was Rosina (Yegerlehner) wolfe. She was the sister of my great grandfather, John Henry Yegerlehner. She spent almost 40 years in the state system. She was also one of the transfers from the Indianapolis hospital to the new hospital in Madison in 1910. She was judged insane in the early 1890s but was released twice. The third time, she was sent away for good. While in Madison, she worked as a laundress. Rosina’s photograph was included in the documents as well. It will take me a while to process the new documents I received, but I plan on writing a more thorough history of Rosina in the future.

Until next month! May you find the genealogy documents you are looking for!

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
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Three Cheers for DNA

Since I do not have the time to spend on book writing until the end of this month, I have been using my spare minutes to work on some of my DNA puzzles. I have had lots of genetic goodies land on my doorstep so far this month. Here is one of them.

One mystery in my family tree is the parentage of Sarah Ann Jewell. She was born in Kentucky and later moved to Greene County, Indiana, where she married George Rea on 13 March 1842. Now presumably, my sweet young Sarah Ann did not travel from Kentucky to southern Indiana by herself. In the first half of the nineteen century, Kentucky and Indiana were still considered frontier states. Sarah most likely arrived in Indiana with her parents or other family members.

After combing through census records and other various limited records available online (Greene County does not have a very strong online presence NOR does it have many microfilms available from the LDS library), I determined that there was only one Jewell family in Greene County in the first half of the nineteenth century. The patriarch was Samuel Jewell: a miller by trade and an Irishman by nationality. Born in Ireland around the time of the American Revolution, he immigrated to Virginia where he married Rachel Painter on 31 December 1798. They soon moved west, living in Ohio (1820), Kentucky (1830), and finally Indiana (1840). Samuel and Rachel had at least three sons who followed them to Indiana: John, William, and Isaac.

So my next puzzle was to determine which of Samuel’s sons was Sarah’s father. Isaac was eliminated by pure logic. He was born in 1815, only ten years before Sarah was born. For the same reason, William was too young as well. I have come across several unsourced family trees over the years which claimed that William was Sarah’s father. William was born in 1812. He was too young to be Sarah’s father. (Another reason why one should not trust unsourced family trees!) William married his wife, Mariah Miller, in Shelby County, Kentucky, on 9 November 1835. This left John P. Jewell as the only potential candidate.

John Painter Jewell was born about 1800 in Virginia. He married Mary Hoagland, on 18 October 1820, in Bullitt County, Kentucky. Three nods in John’s favor! John was old enough to be Sarah’s father; he married his wife before Sarah’s calculated birth year; and, he had lived in Kentucky.

John was enumerated on the 1830 census in Greene county. Among his household were two girls between the ages of 5-9 (remember this for later!). Unfortunately, only the heads of household were enumerated by name. Sarah died relatively young, perhaps in childbirth. She did not live in the time of compulsory death certificates. Luckily, a transcription was made of her gravestone in the mid twentieth century. I do not think it survives as I have yet to find a willing Find A Grave photographer to capture her stone. I am still working on locating a will or land records for John Painter Jewell in Greene County, but I have been unsuccessful thus far in gaining access to the records. (If you know of anyone who is willing to do ‘on the ground’ research in Greene County, Indiana, let me know!)

So this mystery has remained at a standstill until now. A few months ago, I was contacted by another researcher who was looking for the parents of his ancestor Rachel Jewell of Greene County, Indiana. He had also come to the conclusion that John P. Jewell was likely Rachel’s father, which would make my Sarah and his Rachel sisters. After several conversations back and forth via email, I finally convinced him to do DNA testing. His results came back this week. The disappointing news is that he does not match either my father or me. However, he does match another cousin on this same branch of the family!

John Painter Jewell

DNA is fickle. The predicated relationships that the DNA companies come up with are just that….predictions. They are based on a mathematical algorithm. In theory, a person inherits 50% of their DNA from each parent; 25% from each grandparent; 12.5% from each great grandparent; and so on. By the time one travels back in time to their third great grandparents, the potential inheritance is only 3.125% per individual. There are 32 individuals in the third great grandparent generation. Even though my father and Mr. Lawson are likely 4th cousins, there is no guarantee that they would inherit the same 3.125% from either John P. Jewell or Mary (Hoagland) Jewell.

The DNA lesson that I would like everyone to take away from this story is the importance of testing as many people in your family as possible. DNA is NOT inherited equally. Had my 3rd cousin not already tested, I would have assumed that my new cousin, the descendant of Rachel Jewell, was not related to me.

©2014 copyright Deborah Sweeney
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