Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Memories When Young

I have some interesting memories of the place and city where I was born, ones that key me in to my family's situation in life. What do you remember about your family when you were very young? The perspectives were much different then, due to the degree of control and focus you and I possessed.
For example, I remember riding on the handlebars of a friend's bike, and falling off and skinning my right knee. Memories of that knee include a large, thick scab that covered most of it.That taught me to avoid sitting on bicycle handlebars. Other memories include being taken out of church on a Sunday, by my father, who was separated from my mother. I was then taken to a store, which, at the age of three, I knew was wrong, because we normally observed the Sabbath by refraining from purchases, and the toy blue jet that my father purchased for me. He then took me to his parents' home, and tried to get me to take a nap. I believe I found the jet plane much more interesting. I also remember watching my mother pitch a fit, and throw the airplane across the room.
What does that say about my family of origin? They were not unified, and a divorce soon ensued. I was also interested in technology, as I perceived it, from a very early age. How does that affect me today? It set the tone for my family's, and thus my social dynamics, the who-I-am-based-on-my-experiences setting, and the decisions I have made from that time forward. This carried into becoming a stepchild, getting a new first, middle, and last name, and what I have done with those names.
So what are your earliest memories? Have you written them down, or transcribed them in any way to electronic media? This leads to the next point...what do you want to do with your memories, and your past? Recording them is the first step to assessment.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Your Grandparents' Lifestyles, and your DNA

     Researchers, intrigued with advances in DNA analysis, have discovered more and more evidence that what your progenitors did, how they exercised, how they ate, and what their addictions were, affect your health today. Doctor Claudia Aguirre of the Huffington Post, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-claudia-aguirre/how-diet-changes-your-dna_b_7129758.html, has determined that the lack of certain essential foods in your parents' diet can increase the probably that you will get diabetes, be obese, and contract cardiovascular disease. She was also able to discover that there are dietary changes that will increase the number of neurons a child's body will make, thus making children smarter.
     Christopher Wanjek, of Lifescience.com, see http://www.livescience.com/21902-diet-epigenetics-grandchildren.html, seconds what Claudia stated, only he published his findings three years ago. Deficient parental diets cause health problems for their children, including obesity and diabetes. It's quite interesting that two of the largest health epidemics today are diabetes and obesity. And diabetes is the seventh largest cause of death.
     Scientists, of course, don't always agree. The scientists in charge of study about how diet affects human DNA in the U.K., see http://metro.co.uk/2012/09/21/feeding-your-dna-does-your-diet-affect-your-genes-581760/ never came to a conclusion which foods would help parents gift their children healthy bodies, but they did gain an understanding that what the parents consumed changed what physical traits their children inherited.
Dr. Aguirre also has show how parental exercise can affect the brain health of the children of those who exercise. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-claudia-aguirre/your-brain-on-exercise_b_7066856.html .
     Other epigeneticists have discovered how better nutrition can affect the DNA you pass down, most importantly the mother, but also, the father of any and every child. See http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/nutrition/. So your children will get to deal with how well you live, eat, and exercise, and what you hand down to them will very likely largely determine the quality of their lives.

Other Sources:

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

Monday, December 14, 2015

How Genetic is Your Sense of Humor?

     Most of us have a sense of humor. Sometimes, it's hard for others to detect, but that's another issue. Everyone, therefore, has a sense of what is humorous, and what isn't. You don't tease someone who is Italian about her or his family, for example. And you don't tease people from Latin-speaking countries the same way you would someone British, or Scandinavian, or German, who tend to reflect their cultural dispositions to be a little ashamed, and so they find embarrassment funny.

     Do people with similar ethnic groups have similar senses of humor? You bet! This even shows in people's paternal DNA, or yDNA tests. For example, people from Norway, similar to other Scandinavians, have large numbers of ancestors from the Celtic (R1b), the Slavic (R1a), and the Mediterranean groups (I1 or I2, or Trojan). Slovaks, from Central and Eastern Europe, tend to have more of a very similar, closely-related Slavic background. The specific paternal haplogroup is R1a1a1b1a, of which most Slovaks come from a more refined version.

     So how often do your family members tell jokes, and in what circumstances? I know from personal experience that people of Norwegian, Danish, English, and Slovak descent tend to be more likely to tell jokes, and laugh at the jokes of other, similarly-skewed people. I also experienced the opposite, as people of Irish, German, Welsh, Swedish, and Scottish descent did not respond as much to, nor share as much humor. American humor is more slapstick and relies on observational techniques. Canadian is similar, but with themes more specifically suited to Canadian history.

     This is all interesting, because the type of Slavic paternal haplogroup Slovaks come from is R1a1a1b1a, which is also the same one that Slavic Norwegians come from. So, if the theories hold, the original Slavic ancestors came from the East, and eventually settled in what became Slovakia, then, probably telling and re-telling jokes the whole way, a group of them broke off, and emigrated to Norway. Maybe the Norway-bound Slavs played one too many practical jokes on the Slovak-settled Slavs. Maybe one group got tired of the other's collective sense of humor, who knew?  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Trying to Find the In-Betweens: What are You Going to Do?

Ever try to find your ancestors' records, only to discover that they lived in a place that changed hands, and was historically part of two or more countries, or two states or provinces? Have you got ancestors that lived in conquered places, and had to adapt to new governments?
What happens to your research then? It interrupts the research while you have to learn the new names for everything, where and when records exist, and how extract the information you need from them.

Being able to speak at least a little of six languages, and read at least twelve, I've got the tools you need to help resolve the questions you have about your Cherokee, German, Danish, Frisian, Dutch, ancestors from Schleswig-Holstein, Jewish, Silesian, and other ancestors that may have settled in a place that was conquered or traded between two or more nations. Free estimate!
"Schleswig-Holstein" by Ulamm 19:02, 5 February 2008 (UTC) - http://www.maps-for-free.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schleswig-Holstein.png#/media/File:Schleswig-Holstein.png


"Silesia (Now)" by Uploader on en.Wikipedia was en:User:Kelisi - en:File:HistoricSilesiamap.png. This map’s source is here (that URL has expired, successor is Planiglobe Beta), with the uploader’s modifications, and the GMT homepage says that the tools are released under the GNU General Public License.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Silesia_(Now).png#/media/File:Silesia_(Now).png

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Who Knute?

Interest is peaking in family history. Surveys of people in the U.S., Germany, and elsewhere show about 75-80% of everyone surveyed is interested in their genealogies. This is not particularly surprising in one way, because, of course, most of us are interested in our families and how they live, but the interest in our histories in unprecedented. So genealogy, the study of one's family in the past, is interesting. But is it fun? Why would a normally sane person want to pay money to subscribe to a family history website, or even take the time to sift and pore through hundreds and thousands of records, just to find an ancestor whose name is common, may be misspelled, or simply did not appear much in polite society?

I think part of the fun is summed up in the old network command, and question, “whoami”. Who you or I are is dictated by the choices we make, but also by the reactions we have had to the choices our parents, siblings, and other determining people in our lives have made, positive and negative. Whoami is a network command that tells a computer network user who they are on a network, and what parts of the network they can access. When you begin to look at what and why your grandparents and other family members did, and when, then you understand a bit how they understood themselves, and you begin to understand yourself, and even if you don't understand or sympathize, empathize with them and why they did what they did.

Part of it is that many of us have a hunting instinct, whether we actually enjoy hunting, shopping, or looking for hard-to-find objects, or just like the challenge of finding something that has been lost. The challenges of putting facts together like you would a jigsaw puzzle, organizing data so it makes sense, or just arranging information so it is complete can be very gratifying.

One example of this is when I found a great-grandmother's maiden name on a death certificate. It was Scandinavian in origin, Lundene, but did not make sense when used as a surname, especially in a Norwegian context. There are Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish people with the surname Lund, and some Swedes have the last name of Lundin, or similarly spelled versions of Lundin, but not “Lundene.” Lundene means “The groves.” So there are many people with the name of Lund, but not the Lunds.

By twisting and tweaking my searches, I was able to find family members in the U.S. 1880 Census with that surname living next door to other family members with an even more unusual name, Jeglum, so they were fairly easy to find. All I had to do was look next door. I then compared both families to an 1870 document. The Jeglums were there...but the Lundenes were listed under the surname Lund, with the same first names as the Lundenes in 1880. That was my clue that the family had undergone a number of name changes. When I searched back ten years before, I found the family under the surname Knutson, on par with how they would be named in Norway, using the father's patronymic as Andrew, or Anders, the son of Knut.

This then gave me further clues about where and when the father, and the mother, Olea were from. It even lead to other relatives’ family trees, where a wonderful picture of their beautiful family, all ten family members. It’s fun having lots of relatives, isn’t it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How humor is used in families
On my father’s side of the family, we are related to Cyril Call, one of the original LDS pioneers that first came to Utah, and, it seems one of the few people that is related to about half the people descended from the original Mormon pioneers. His son Homer, a twin to Omer, shared a rather unusual sense of humor that seems to run through parts of the family. Some of the jokes the brothers shared remind me a bit of J.K. Rowling’s Weasley twins. Homer and Omer were identical twins and were therefore difficult to tell apart. When they went on dates, each twin would dress the same, then identify themselves uniquely by wearing different flowers, so their dates could tell them apart. Halfway through the dances, if they fancied, they would switch flowers, and then go home with different dates, without their dates knowing their partners had switched.

Both eventually married, Homer at the respectable age of 22, having apparently made up their minds about who was best, and Homer had 12 children by his wife Nancy Merrell, whose earlier relatives fought in the Revolutionary War. One of their children married into the Grover family, and my talented, piano-playing grandmother, Welda Grover, married my grandfather, Earnest W. Dutson. Grandma always claimed the W. stood for “work.” We were never able to ask Grandpa in order to verify if this was true. The Dutsons were, and are very straight-faced, not what would normally be considered humorous people. When my grandmother died in 2001, my youngest brother and I went to her funeral. There, after the ceremony at the funeral luncheon, we watched how the family sense of humor came into play. Welda’s siblings, not professional comics, I might add, began teasing their Dutson relatives, relentlessly poking fun at them. The at-the-Dutsons-expense humor was hilarious, and the Dutson brothers had no defences against this form of attack, although they tried their best to stave off looking silly. It was the funniest funeral, and one of the funnier moments in my life. After watching this for 45 minutes, my brother and I, ribs smarting from having laughed so hard for so long, had to go home. Some people have a party at funerals…my family members shared an irresistible sense of humor. I think that was a fitting tribute to a deceased family member, don’t you?

What kinds of humorous traditions do you family members have? Do you have branches of the family that are less funny than others? How did they relate to you, and to life?

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Does Your Family Mean to You?

A family, by definition, begins because a man or woman is attracted to someone of the opposite gender, and cares about the fruits of the relationship on an ongoing basis. Think about how much you care about your family, and how much your parents, or grandparents cared about you and their families. The degree to which you show your love and concern determines what happens, within the limits of individual choices, to your children and grandchildren, and beyond. Here’s an outstanding example how both parents in early American Colonial times (about the time of the French and Indian War) cared for their family members, and each other.
Denys (or Denice, Dennis, Dennisje), 1658-1713 is an 8th great-grandfather on my mother’s side of my family. His parents came from Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, and settled in New Jersey, then a part of New Netherlands. They moved to New York, which, at that time, included all of New England and Maine. He was born there, grew up, then moved up to what is now the state of Maine, and married. It was after he began his family that the hardships began. Denys moved to Jamestown, which was renamed Pemaquid, and is now Bristol, Maine, where he married Grace Dollen, in about 1680.
They had 4 children, Dollen, born 1681, Adriaen, born about 1683, Catharina, born 1688, and Jane, born about 1687.
In 1689, a small, French-led army, consisting of Abenaki natives, led by Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin, Father Louis-Pierre Thury, and Chief Moxus, attacked the fort at Pemaquid, successfully subduing it and the farms around it, killing and capturing many English subjects. One of them was Denys’ wife Grace. Denys was apparently able to hide himself, and his 3 older children. Little 2-year old Jane, the fourth and youngest, however, couldn’t flee, and had to stay with her mother, and was captured. No information exists about how long Jane survived. What she and her mother suffered was also never put into writing. Telling the authorities was probably too painful. It is possible Jane was taken away to be raised by the Abenaki, or other tribes. Considering the difficulties Grace and her captors would have had nourishing a two-year old girl, she probably died soon after her capture.
The next few years were nightmarish for Grace, for Denys and their older children. Denys, wracked with sorrow and loneliness, wondering where his wife was, and whether she remained alive, pleaded with Governmor Slaughter, the newly-appointed governor of New York responsible for Pemaquid, and was finally granted permission to sail north in the Spring of 1691. There he was to be dropped off, so he could search for his missing wife and daughter.
Saint-Castin, the interim military administrator, however, immediately imprisoned Denys as a war combatant, notwithstanding his being “…a lame man having but one arme & not Capable to gett his living by any servile labour.” The commander’s administrative excuse was “Who is this governor (Slaughter) and how long has he been there?' Denys replied: 'A month or six weeks.' St. Castyn then said: “Why has Monsieur Frederick Phillips, or his son Philip, whose hand-writing and name I know, not written me a letter of recommendation? Therefore, I cannot consider you as anything but traitors and I am forced, according to orders from Governor de La Conte, to send you to Quebec.”
So Denys, courageous, and crippled, was taken prisoner by the French, and sent to Quebec. In the meantime, his wife Grace had survived her experiences among the natives, and was sold to the French, then brought to Quebec, where she was reunited with her husband. I would have liked to see the reunion. On March 4, 1693, their son Joseph, my 7th great-grandfather, was born.
The Hegemans’ story resonates in this day and age of electronic distraction and familial disconnection to me. How much would I care, and what would I have done, were I in a similar situation? How prepared am I for these, or similar kinds of contingencies?