Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday Serendipity (October 12, 2019)

The following are suggested reads for this weekend .  .  .

1.     With the advent of genetic genealogy, genealogists have been given a powerful new tool for researching their biological families.  Use of the DNA tool has been growing exponentially since at least 2016 as found by two different MIT Technology Review articles.  In 2017 the number of people who had their DNA tested by direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy kits more than doubled -- and then in 2018 more people purchased consumer DNA tests than in all previous years combined! But as we have all read or heard by now, genealogists and those merely interested in the entertainment value of discovering their ethnic make-up are not the only ones fascinated by genetic gnealogy.  Law enforcement has entered the era of forensic genealogy for purposes of solving otherwise unresolved crimes.  In one high visibility case, that of the so-called "Golden State Killer," genetic genealogy led to the arraignment of Joseph James DeAngelo, age 73, for the kidnapping and murder of thirteen people.  Since the famous break in the Golden State Killer case, dozens of rapes and killings have now been resolved through the use of genetic genealogy.  This has prompted both privacy and constitutional questions -- and in at least one early case using genetic genealogy techniques one man was misidentified as a murder suspect.  For those interested in this topic, a must read/listen is last weekend's radio broadcast of The Center for Investigative Reporting's Reveal presentation of "Catch a Killer With Your DNA."  Follow the link to either read the transcript or listen to the radio broadcast.

2.     If the issues surrounding use of genetic genealogy and the links above intrigue you and you want to learn more about the fallout from law enforement's discovery and use of genetic genealogy databases, then you should also read an article highlighted in the most recent Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS.  "The Messy Consequences of the Golden State Killer Case" recently published in The Atlantic can be read here.  The article reviews how genealogy and crime fighting make for an uneasy mix and the reaction and actions taken by some genetic genealogy sites are presented.

3.     And if you are still interested in pursuing more genetic DNA stories, The Weekly Genealogist brought another DNA story to our attention this week.  The piece is a feel-good story that also raises yet another case of first impression and novel issues as fallout from the advent of genetic genealogy.   A woman in Chicago, who is now 45, met a young man, 25, for the very first time after she took an AncestryDNA test in 2017.  The results showed she was an exact match for an unknown man to whom she had no known family connection.  He was not a biological son and there was no known genealogical connection .  .  . and yet the DNA test was accurate, there was no testing error.  They had the same shared DNA -- and the DNA originated with the young man.  If you are intrigued, read the article here.  

4.     If you have (or perhaps wonder if you have) ancestors or relatives that graduated from Lowell High School in Lowell, Massachusetts around 1837 - 1878, then you should be aware that the New England Historical Genealogy Society (NEHGS)/American Ancestors just annouced the addition of a new database containing the names of more than 25,000 students at Lowell High School (LHS) during the 51 years between 1837 and 1878.  LHS was the first integrated co-educational high school in the country.  The database images list the LHS students and other information such as class rank, teachers names, and names of administrators. You can learn more and see the search application here.

5.         While Russell Worthington, aka "Cousin Russ" of Family Tree Maker User blog has been posting about the newly released FTM 2019 for a while now, the pre-ordered downloads have begun rolling out in the order the early purchases were made.  Earlier this week I received an email notice that my order was available for download.  The download is on my to-do list for this afternoon.  For those who already use and pre-ordered FTM 2019, this is a reminder that the orderly release for pre-orders is underway.  If you did pre-order or if you intend to order FTM 2019, I suggest you check our the various posts about FTM 2019 on Family Tree Maker User blog.  You can start with Russ's post "FTM 2019 -- Before You Install" and then surf to his other posts about some of the new features in the upgrade.  [Links are easily found in the alphabetical listing of topics on the left side of the blog page.]

6.     It has been quite a while since I mentioned a very interesting and informative blog called Heirlooms Reunited by Pam Beveridge.  Pam's blog is self-styled as a way for her to "bring to life the heirlooms [she] has collected over a lifetime."  The blog has an easy search engine and Pam goes to the effort to make surname and geographical locations simple to locate and get to.  Often she does research to discover more about the people associated with the photographs, autograph books, bibles, family registers, correspondence, etc. that she has and posts about.  Many of the items she has are available for purchase.  [I have no connection to Pam or her blog other than I like to browse it and see items that could relate to some of my ancestors or relatives.]  I recommend a visit when you have time to get drawn into purusing the site.  You never know what you might find that connects to your genealogy!  The most recent post from today can be viewed here.

7.     Janine Addams of Organize Your Family History blog had a post this week that provides excellent advice about using census records in your research.  I'll admit that some years back it took me a while to develop the simple little habit Janine addresses, but it one that any user of census records should absolutely adopt.  Curious what the simple habit is?  Find out here.  [Oh, and be sure to read the comments for more good advice.] 

8.     And finally for this week, Bill West of West in New England blog has a nice post about contributing memorials and information to Find-A-Grave.  Bill joined Find-A-Grave eight years ago and soon began taking gravestone photos.  He then began creating memorials of older graves where none had been posted before.  Bill has developed his own rules for making Find-A-Grave contributions and they are well worth reading whether or not you contribute yourself.  You can read Bill's post here.

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Copyright 2019, John D. Tew
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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Saturday Serendipity (October 5, 2019)

The picks for this week's Saturday Serendipity are as follows .  .  .

1.     Marion Wood of Climbing My Family Tree blog, has a nice post about research creativity and tenacity.  Marian describes and illustrates her use of the 1915 and 1925 NY state census, a cousin's imaginative detective work in the 1900 US Census, Marian's use of the subsequent 1920 Census, and a map of the Bronx.  Did I mention this work was in search of determining when her maternal great aunt, Regina Farkas, was awarded a "Penmanship Certificate for General Proficiency in Muscular Movement Writing?"  A cousin of Marian's sent her the undated certificate and Marian's well developed genealogy curiosity sent her on a mission to determine when the certificate was awarded.  To read the well-documented research journey Marian embarked on -- and to see if she answered her question -- read the blog post "Researching Regina's Penmanship Award."

2.     This week The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS had three interesting links to stories worth reading.  (1) A short piece by Laura Roselle, a Political Science professorat Elon University, discusses the importance of telling family stories and offers four guidance tips for writing the stories.  Read "How to tell family stories." (2)  Many New Englanders will be aware of the famous Boston Post cane.  As a PR advertisement idea in 1909, the newspaper created and sent out to 700 New England towns an ebony cane with an engraved 14-karat gold knob head.  The canes were to be presented to the oldest male in each town (in the 1930s the rule changed so that the oldest woman was included also).  The Boston Post no loger exists but some of the canes still do and are purportedly presented to the oldest citizens in towns to this day.  The town of Ashland, Massachusetts had its cane until the 1970s when it somehow disappeared.  Read "Ashland recovers long-lost Boston Post Cane," see photos of the cane, and learn what will be done with the cane.  (3)  If you are curious about the only season in the English language to have two widely accepted and used names, read the seasonally appropriate piece, "The Reason Why Americans Refer to Autumn as Fall."

3.     Vita Brevis, the NEHGS blog, also had an interesting piece this week.  Titled, "Understanding Leaf Hints," the article could be subtitled "Beware The Leaf Hints." Author, Christopher C. Child, presents an engaging and very interesting research quest to find a descendant of Benjamin Pierce (1757-1839) Governor of New Hampshire and father of President Franklin Pierce, who might have inherited the hereditary membership eligibility in the Soceity of the Cincinnati.  The quest started on and continued based on a leaf hint.  As the author writes, it became a wild goose chase after a false match.

4.     One of the exciting eureka moments in genealogy research is finding information beyond the basic vitals of birth, death, marriage, children, divorce, baptism, etc. etc.  The discovery of reliable intel that gives detailed insight to the everyday experiences of an ancestor or relatives is pure genealogy gold.  It fleshes out the person and the life he or she actually lived and experienced.  It evokes in a way that simple, dry data points can never do.  It is the closet thing you can get to a conversation with a departed ancestor or relative where you can ask, "Well what was it like to _______?"  This week Nancy Messier of My Ancestors and Me blog shares the discovery of just such genealogy gold.  See if you agree by reading A 600 Bushel Harvest.

5.     Hmmmm, a genealogy with 498,980,000 individual entries?  That is a mere 1,020,000 folks short of half a billion ancestors in a family tree!  Wow.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog brings this amazing claim for having the largest single interconnection family tree to our attention in "The Largest Single Family Tree."  The tree is "part of the Family Tree."  The mind boggles at the idea of a tree of nearly half a billion people. 😀

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Copyright 2019, John D. Tew
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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Saturday Serendipity (September 28, 2019)

Here are a few recommended weekend reads for this week .  .  .

1.     The first of the so-called "miracle drugs," penicillin, was discovered and named by Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist, on this day in 1928.  Why is this of interest to genealogists?  It took more than ten years from the discovery of penicillin to extract and mass produce penicillin as a usable drug for treatment of a number of diseases.  A need for penicillin became a priority with the onset of World War II and by 1943 production began on a large scale through enlistment of a number of pharmaceutical companies.  Pneumonia had long been a feared killer (especially among the very young and the elderly) and in WWI it accounted for 18% of the Army deaths.  With the introduction of penicillin as the vanguard of the coming antibiotic revolution in the 1940s, the pneumonia death rate in in the Army during WWII was reduced to less than 1%.  Similarly, the death rates from diseases such as strep throat, tonsillitis, scarlet fever, meningitis, and rheumatic fever (among others) were dramatically reduced.  Many of you have surely noted the alarming number of children in your genealogies who died very young from diseases that today are rarely fatal due to the availability of  penicillin or other modern antibiotics.  By way of example, in 1900, children under 5 years old accounted for almost 31% of all deaths, but by 1997 the percentage had been reduced to just 1.4%.  In 1900, 40% of the fatalities from the three leading causes of death -- pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cholera/diphtheria (with the symptoms of diarrhea, enteritis and severe dehydration) -- were among children under 5 years of age.  And those diseases together caused 33% of all deaths.   Read a brief summary of the story of penicillin here at today's The Writer's Almanac by Garrison Keillor.

2.     Janine Adams of Organze Your Family History blog had a post this week about a scan feature buried in the Notes app on the iPhone.  This was news to me and I have had an iPhone for more than 8 years now.  I followed Janine's easy directions and tried the scan feature and it works nicely and easily.  I am not sure yet what the benefits are beyond just taking a photo, but it is always nice to have an alternate tool available.  You can read Janine's post here.

3.     This week's "Genealogy News Bytes" on Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog highlights an article about the Justice Department promulgating new rules for the use of genealogy sites in the investigation of crimes.  With the burgeoning use of DNA tests by genealogists and those simply interested in their ethnic backgrounds, this is a must read for those who are concerned about DNA testing and privacy issues vs. the pursuit of justice.  You can go directly to the article tagged by Randy by clicking here, but the following paragraph from the article provides an idea of the limits initially established by the new rules: "The policy generally limits law enforcement to considering genealogy sites when a candidate sample belongs to a possible culprit, or when a likely homicide victim is unidentified. Prosecutors can greenlight the use of these sites for violent crimes beyond murder and sexual assault, but only when the circumstances create a 'substantial and ongoing threat' to the public. Agencies can't use the sites unless a sample has first been uploaded to the FBI's DNA profile database and hasn't produced a match. Also, the investigators in the relevant jurisdiction need to have followed 'reasonable investigative leads,' and case info need to be entered into national databases for missing people and violent criminals."

4.     If you read last week's recommendation on James Tanner's "Rules of Genealogy: Rule Five," then you might want to check out this week's "Expanded Commentary on the Rules of Genealogy: Rule Six."  Rule Six states, "Records move."  You can read the expanded commentary here.  

5.     A post by Judy Russell of The Legal Genealogist blog caught my eye this week for two reason: (1) It mentions the Larimer County Genealogical Society (LCGS), which is in Colorado, and I lived in Ft. Collins in Larimer County for almost a year back in the mid-70s; and (2) More interestingly, Judy was attending the 5th annual "Conference for a Cause" hosted by the LCGS.  The idea of a Conference for a Cause was new to me.  I had never heard of this before, but it sounds like a great idea that perhaps many more genealogy organizations should consider adopting.  As Judy succinctly explains via a quote from the LCGS website, “All profits from the conference are donated to non-profit projects to preserve, digitize, and make historical documents accessible for genealogical research.”  You can read Judy's post here and then you might consider passing on the idea of hosting a "Conference for a Cause" to local. regional, or state genealogical organizations to which you belong. 

6.     I just discovered a post by Marian Wood of Climbing My Family Tree blog from early this month (Sept. 9th -- "Grandma Minnie's 'Mistake'").  It seems twins run in Marian's family and I learned that she herself is a twin.  The post is an engaging piece on parenting and the special challenge of how to encourage twins to become individuals while at the same time making sure each twin gets equal opportunity to develop friendships, interest, careers, etc.  You can read Marian's post here.

7.     And finally, reader's of this blog will recall that as a born New Englander I have enjoyed the stories posted on Peter Muise's blog, NEW ENGLAND FOLKLORE.  This week Peter posted a piece that has a connection to the Salem witch trials.  It is an interesting read that might have notable resonance as we are about to enter the month of October and the season of the witch associated with Halloween.  You can read Peter's story here.

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Copyright 2019, John D. Tew
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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saturday Serendipity (September 21, 2019)

Saturday Serendipity returns this week with the following recommendations for your weekend reading .  .  .  

1.   Among the "Stories of Interest" in the most recent Weekly Genealogist newsletter by NEHGS is a brief article by Daniel Klein titled, "Academic Journals Help Armchair Genealogists Up Their Game."  As pointedly stated by Mr. Klein, "Genealogical education is most successful when researchers ingest as much as possible about the subject. . . One aspect of this is reading articles in the various academic journals published by genealogical organizations." And with a shout out to well-known genealogist William B. Saxbe, Jr., Mr. Klein presents the proposition that one of the important reasons for armchair genealogists to read academic genealogy journals is that it can be the first step to learning how to write one's own journal article to share research results.

2.   It is to be hoped that many reader's of Randy Seaver's prominent blog Genea-Musings (and perhaps Saturday Serendipity on this blog) are familiar with Randy's weekly feature "Best of the Genea-Blogs," but readers should also be aware of Randy's "Genealogy News Bytes" feature.  While the "Best of . . . " feature is a weekly survey of posts in genealogy blogs that catch Randy's interest, "Genealogy News Bytes" aggregates more broadly and provides links to news articles of interest to genealogists, new or updated record collections, webinars, podcasts, videos, DNA stories, and bargains to check out.  If you are not yet familiar with this feature on Genea-Musings, you can go here to see Randy's latest genealogy potpourri installment.      

3.   James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog has a "time-to-time series" called "The Rules of Genealogy."  I was not previously aware of this series, but I think the list and Mr. Tanner's commentary make for interesting reads.  The most recent entry in the series is Rule Five: You cannot get blood from a turnip.  To see a listing of the twelve Rules of Genealogy and read about Rule Five, surf here and have a read.  If you find the recent Rule Five post of interest, you can also find Mr. Tanner's earlier July 1, 2014 post about his first six Rules here.     

4.    Long time readers of this blog know that from time-to-time I recommend posts that stray from any direct connection to genealogy, but can be very interesting and have a deeper tangential relationship to history, genealogy, or biology.  Many times this means recommendations to the writing and blog postings by Tim Urban of "Wait But Why" blog.  My older son recently asked if I had seen Tim's latest series and I had to admit I had not due to our move and my absence from blogging.  Well, during my absence Tim took on a huge project to write about "society."  I am still making my way through the accumulated posts, but have seen and read enough to recommend it to past readers who found Tim's posts to be thought stimulating.  Go here to see the full content of "The Story of Us: Full Series."

5.   Another sometime recommendation on Saturday Serendipity has been the writing of Rebecca Onion at "The Vault" on Slate.  An intersting piece by Rebecca during my absence from blogging is this August 2019 article on the complicated history of Emma Lazarus, author of "The New Colossus" poem that is on the Statute of Liberty.

6.   For those who use Family Tree Maker to sync with their trees on Ancestry, you should check out the very recent (and very brief) post by Russell Worthington (aka "Cousin Russ") of Family Tree Maker User blog titled, "Reader Question: What is included in the FamilySync."

7.  And finally, a brief cautionary tale by Nancy Messier of My Ancestors and Me blog.  Have a look at "When It Seems Easy You May Be Making a Mistake."  Most, if not all, of us at some time have leaped at a Eureka moment when we think we have solved a brick wall in our genealogies and belatedly find out we should have looked before leaping.  Nancy gives us a reminder to look hard (i.e. do more research) before leaping.  This is a reminder we all need to have perioically. 
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Copyright 2019, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A 232nd Genealogy Anniversary

[After living in Washington, DC and northern Virginia for 40 years, my wife and I moved to New Jersey almost exactly one year ago.  Preparing to sell our home of thirty years, going through the sales process, moving a household of more than three decades of accumulated "stuff" into a four-month rental in New Jersey, and then finding a new home to purchase and renovate to our needs and tastes necessitated an expectedly long hiatus from blogging.  The adjustment continues, but today marks what I hope will be a slow return to blogging after an absence of essentially eighteen months.]

The well-known painting above illustrates an assembly of some thirty-seven or so early American genealogists.  It marks the celebration of a monumental moment of creation -- the gift of a hugely important resource for future genealogists.  It also, by the way, marks the creative launch of a new form of self-government based on a written charter.

Two hundred thirty-two years ago the governmental charter known as the Constitution for the United States of America created a new government of three branches with powers intended to exist within a system of checks and balances.  Today we are watching almost daily in real time a contest that is testing the balance of power between at least two of the branches of government and stressing the concept of checks and balances.  But amid this political chaos, we present-day genealogists should step outside the political maelstrom today and take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the gift that the 18th Century genealogists gathered in Philadelphia in September 1787 gave to us on this day 232 years ago.

Inserted in the opening Article of the Constitution, Article I, Section 2 provides that the members of the House of Representaives in the legislative branch of the new government will be chosen every two years "by the People of the several States."  And the number of such "Representatives" was to be apportioned among the states "according to their respective Numbers," which meant according to an actual enumeration of persons within every state.*  The first enumeration had to take place within three years after the first meeting of the new Congress of the United States "and within every subsequent Term of ten years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."  And this was the gift to given to future genealogists -- what we now know as the U.S. Census!

So today, in addition to celebrating Constitution Day, we genealogists should raise a glass to the unintentional genealogists pictured above.  They unknowingly presented us with one of the most significant record resources for genealogy research -- which is not to say that Census records are flawless.  [For example, see "Federal Censuses -- Purveyors of Fake News?" posted here on March 12, 2018]  It is true that Census enumeration records must be examined and analyzed closely, but it is also true that the enumerations, as they have evolved over time, are a rich source for a variety of information and hints about our ancestors and relatives. Among the evolving information that the decennial enumerations have presented us over time are: marital status, relationships within households, education levels, number of children, number of marriages, occupation, property ownership v. rental, citizenship/naturalization, parental birthplace, etc.

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*  This requirement being refined by section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment (that removed the iniquitous three-fifths of all non-free persons calculation from enumerations) and the Nineteenth Amendment (that expanded the pool of eligible voters to included women). 

The scan above is of the painting by Howard Chandler Christy.  It is in the public domain.  It is a 20 x 30 ft. oil on canvas that was completed in 1940 and hangs in east grand stairway of the House wing of the United States Capitol.  For a larger version and more information go here.

Copyright 2019, John D. Tew
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Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Long Hiatus

I have received a number of inquiries regarding my lack of blog posts over the last three to four months.  Everything is fine and the hiatus is intentional.  After 40 years of living south of the Mason- Dixon Line in and around Washington, DC, Molly and I are selling our home and heading north again.  The last few months have been spent preparing to sell the home we have lived in for decades.  We are on the brink of listing it in the next week or so.  We are still unsure where we will be living next, but it will be closer to our older son, daughter-in-law, and their two children (our granddaughters).  

Until today, other than a brief tribute post on the passing of my father in May, I have not blogged since St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) in order to devote myself to working through decades of accumulated "stuff."  My genealogy library has been boxed up and secured in a storage unit along with most of my genealogy research notes, artifacts, etc.  This means my blogging will be on an indefinite hiatus until such time as we locate a new home, move .  .  . and go through the laborious process of slowly unpacking and reorganizing everything.  I definitely plan to return to blogging as soon as possible and I thank those of you who have expressed concern about the lack of posting and inquired about my wellbeing.  All is well.  I am just taking a necessary break from genealogy and blogging in the interest of devoting myself to our relocation efforts.  [And yes, I am suffering withdrawal symptoms! 😀 ]  

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Immortality -- Arnold G. Tew, Jr.

"Immortality Lies in Being Remembered by Family and Friends." -- John D. Tew

After a hiatus of almost exactly two months, I return to blogging this evening and as I thought about how long it has been and why, I mused about the significance of numbers and time.

It is probably human nature to be always looking for patterns and for coincidence and thereby develop certain superstitions and unfounded beliefs in things such as "lucky numbers."  For example, my mother, my father, and my wife were all born on the 28th of the month.  My in-laws were married on the 28th of the month.  One might think, therefore, that I could justify the number 28 as having some special significance in my life, that I might have adopted it as a "lucky number."  But then, with a homonymic surname like Tew, I could just as easily justify some special meaning for and affinity with the number 2 (to, too, two, Tew) and adopt it as my lucky number.  Oh, and I was born on the 2nd day of the month.  Or better yet, two twos would be the number 22.  And my father was born in the 11th month, my mother was born in the 3rd month, and my wife was born in the 8th month . . . and 11+ 3 + 8 = 22!  My father was born in '22.

Two weeks ago today, on the 2nd day of May, my father died at age 95 as he was held by family members.  It was a long goodbye as is so often the case with dementia.  

Patterns, coincidence, superstition.  The numbers 2 and 22 have been imbued with meaning -- created or imagined -- throughout my life.  For the last two weeks I have felt daily a void in my life, a missing part that was integral to who I am.  For just over 66 years I have known that my father was always there -- that lucky numbers associated with dates and time were manufactured, unfounded beliefs, but I was lucky enough to have reached a seventh decade of life and still have my father and my mother.  How lucky is that?!

So after two weeks, the wisdom of realizing where true immortality lies has hit home in a way it never had before.  My father is not there, but he is not really gone either.  His DNA is here with me and my three siblings, with his six grandchildren, and his six (and soon to be seven) great grandchildren.  Perhaps even more important, memories of him are here with us and his extended family and friends . . . and they will live for generations to come.  He is absent, but he is not gone forever because he is loved, he is missed, and he is remembered.



Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday Serendipity (March 17, 2018)

Saturday Serendipity recomends the following reads for this weekend .  .  . but since it is St. Patrick's Day and all things Irish are in vogue for those of us with at least some Irish roots (and those who wish they had such roots), this week starts with a little Irish-centric humor and sprinkles more throughout.  Enjoy!

What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four-leaf clover?
A rash of good luck!

1.  Since DNA analysis and genetic genealogy has become ever more popuar and important, you should have a look at the NASA release this week regarding some fascinating preliminary results from its "Twins Study." You might recall that twins Scott and Mark Kelly were the subjects in the study. Astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while his indentical twin brother Mark (husband of former member of Congress and shooting vistim, Gabby Giffords) stayed occupied here on earth.  After two years of being back on terra firma the genes/DNA of both Kelly brothers were studied and an amazing thing was found .  .  . 7% of Scott Kelly's genes did not return to their original state thus techically making the brothers no longer identical twins! You can read more about the study and its fascinating preliminary results by going here

UPDATE: A commenter posted that this widely reported news release was "fake news." A search revealed that NASA indeed released a follow up on March 15th to correct the impression created by what NASA said had been "misreported." The essence of NASA's clarification is provided below. To this author, "fake news" has become a loaded term that implies intentional misinformtion for some purpose or adgenda as opposed to an inadvertent, unintentional error of understanding or interpretation we have all probably made at one time or another. I think use of the term was not apposite to the situation with the erroneous reporting and the tenor of NASA's correction and I therefore removed the comment, but a correction to this item is necessary and appropriate .  .  . and for calling this to my attention I do thank the commenter. 

On March 15th NASA stated as follows: "The change related to only 7 percent of the gene expression that changed during spaceflight that had not returned to preflight [levels] after six months on Earth," NASA officials wrote. "This change of gene expression is very minimal. We are at the beginning of our understanding of how spaceflight affects the molecular level of the human body. NASA and the other researchers collaborating on these studies expect to announce more comprehensive results on the twins studies this summer."

How is a best friend like a 4-leaf clover?
They are hard to find and lucky to have!

2.  For those with deep roots in Massachusetts going back to 1771 should be aware of the newly available FREE, online, searchable database that provides some 38,000 names that were collected in the "1771 Massachusetts Tax Inventory." Note that this can also included names of people that lived in areas now part of the state of Maine because in 1771 the Province of Massachusetts Bay included land now in Maine.  You can access the database here.      

 How can you tell if an Irishman is having a good time?
He's Dublin over with laughter!

3.  Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing blog has posted another one of his fun "censuswhacking" posts for St. Patrick's Day.  If you have not seen any of Randy's whimsical censuswhacking posts, you should take a brief trip here to find out what censuswhacking is and to put a smile on your face at things Randy can find in census searches.    

What do you get when you cross a pillowcase with a stone?
A sham rock of course!

4.  One of the items that was mysteriously deleted (and subsequently unrecoverable) for last week's Saturday Serendipity was an interesting post by Elizabeth Handler on her From Maine to Kentucky blog. Users of DNA companies that provide a chromosome browser will want to learn about the possibility of using a new application called DNA Painting to color code chromosome mapping and thereby make it easier to identify how one might be related to someone on your DNA match list.  Read more about this product and see Elizabeth's illustrations of how it can work by going here.     

What do you call a diseased Irish criminal?
A leper con?

5.  Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter has a very interesting post about the EU's new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that goes into effect May 25, 2018. There is a possibility it could affect bloggers even if they are not located in one of the EU countries. The regulation deals with the EU's progressive views on rights to privacy of information on the internet. It appears it would affect mostly sites that are somewhat commercial in nature, but Dick provides four questions that he believes would indicate if you need to be in compliance. You can read the post and get more information hereAND since today is St. Patrick's Day, you might want to also read Dick's post titled, "The Truth About St. Patrick" by going here.

Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day?
Duh! Because real rocks would just be too heavy.

6.  Every once in a while, I like to suggest a blog/website that specializes in researching the genealogy and  family history of "orphan heirlooms." It is a wonderful site to browse if you are interested in old artifacts like autograph books (some of which are beautifully illustrated), Bibles, photographs, certificates, documents, and more. But is is also a little known resource for potential clues to genealogy questions and a place where you might just find an item that has a direct connection to an ancestor or relative. Many items are able to be purchased. [Full disclosure .  .  .  I have nothing whatsoever to do with the site other than periodically visiting it to browse and look for ancestor/relative artifacts.] The site belongs to Pam Beveridge and is called Heirlooms Reunited. You can visit it by going here.  Enjoy some browsing and good hunting for possible family artifacts!   

An Irish Priest Encounters A State Trooper
An Irish priest is driving to New York and gets stopped
by a Connecticut state trooper for speeding. The trooper
smells alcohol on the priest's breath and then sees a wine
bottle on the floor of the car. He asks sheepishly, "Father,
have you been drinking?"  The priest replies immediately,
"Just water, officer." To which the trooper says, "Then why
do I smell wine?" The priest looks at the bottle on the floor
 and says .  .  .
                                                    "Good Lord! He has done it again!!" 

7.  Research long and hard enough and you might very well come across cousins who married in your genealogy (first cousins as well as cousins of greater degrees). So you might ask, "When did Americans stop marrying cousins?" Well, there is some data on this question and the New York Times had a piece on March 1st regarding this question. Have a look here

What Do You Call A Huge Irish Spider?
A Paddy long legs.

8.  Finally, while I rarely mention my own posts here in Saturday Serendipity (and I don't think I have ever done so as its own discreet S.S. item), I am doing so this week based on the explicit suggestion of a kind and respected fellow blogger and some positive comments from other readers and bloggers. The post was described as a "tutorial" and a "cautionary tale."  I know I had fun writing it and have a distant cousin to thank for providing a much sought after solution and for inspiring the idea of sharing the story with others via a blog post. If interested, you can read "Federal Censuses -- Purveyors of Alternative Facts? A Case Study" here.     

Knock Knock
Irish who?
Irish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Irish-themed image from Pin it via 

Irish-themed jokes thankfully obtained (and slightly adapted) from an article by Matt Durrett at 

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Copyright 2018, John D. Tew
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