Saturday, August 11, 2012

Getting Started in DNA Testing for Genealogy - My Series on

For the last month, I have been writing a weekly series on the basics of DNA testing for genealogy for Geni. Just in case you missed it, the articles cover the three types of tests and their applications. The series might be too basic for some of you, but for those of you just starting out, it may be exactly what you need.

Part One, Intro and Y-DNA
Interest in DNA testing for genealogy has reached an all-time high thanks to its increasing sophistication and the resulting visibility in the media. We hear about what we can learn from DNA testing from popular genealogy television programs, news stories and in advertising.  As a result, many family history enthusiasts have expressed their desire to venture into the fascinating world of genetic genealogy, but don’t know where to start.  If you are one of these people, then I am writing this for you. In a series of four posts over the next month, I will explain the three different types of DNA testing currently used by genealogists to discover more about their family trees. I will endeavor to help you determine which test or combination of tests would be best suited to your interests.
Read the rest of the article here.

Part Two, mtDNA
Last week we discussed the Y-DNA test that only traces your direct paternal line back in time, but there’s good news for you women who felt left out. Did you know that there is also a DNA test that traces your direct maternal line back in time?  It is called a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test.
Read the rest of the article here.

Part Three, autosomal DNA (23andMe, Family Finder, AncestryDNA)
This week we are finally going to discuss my favorite type of genetic testing for genealogy – autosomal DNA. For the past two weeks we have covered DNA tests that are solely informative of one ancestral line – direct paternal (Y-DNA) and direct maternal (mtDNA). The great news about autosomal DNA (atDNA) testing is that there is potential to find valuable and meaningful information about any of your ancestral lines.  
Read the rest of the article here.

Part Four, ancestral origin tests and summary
We have covered the three types of DNA tests for genealogy over the last few weeks, but there is one more aspect of genetic genealogy that should not be overlooked. In fact, one of the questions that I am asked most frequently is: How can I get a percentage breakdown of my ethnicity? With popular television programs recently highlighting this compelling area of genetic genealogy, it is no surprise that interest in DNA testing has grown.
Read the rest of the article here.

If you want to get started now, 23andMe is offering $50 off of their fantastic autosomal DNA tests until Sunday, August 13th at Midnight! Order here using discount code VMQ6KG.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 Purchasing

April 25, 2012 Inc. to Acquire

"Simple and Affordable" Fast-Growing Start-up Adds Complementary Offering to

PROVO, Utah, April 25, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Inc. (Nasdaq:ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire, a family history website, for approximately $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities.
This transaction will enable to add a differentiated service targeted to a complementary segment of the growing family history category. In addition, will welcome a team of talented engineers, digital marketers, and family history innovators into the fold and also gain access to a proprietary technology platform that has supported's rapid growth. is owned and operated by Inflection LLC, a Silicon Valley-based technology company. Since's launch in January 2010, the site has rapidly grown to more than 380,000 paying subscribers who pay approximately $39.95 a year. offers access to over 2.1 billion historical records, including birth records, obituaries, immigration and passenger lists, historical newspapers, and U.S. and U.K. Censuses.
" has built a fantastic and fast-growing business that we think is highly complementary to's online family history offering," said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of "We love their focus on making family history simple and affordable, and we are excited to help the talented team continue to grow alongside,, and Family Tree Maker."
"Family history remains a dynamic and growing online category," added Sullivan. "'s focus is consistent with our mission to help everyone discover, preserve and share their family history, which will help continue our efforts in delivering amazing discoveries to an even broader audience."
Over the past two years, has partnered with multiple well-known family history organizations that have helped build out robust collection of family history records. Most recently, partnered with the U.S. National Archives to provide free digital access to the recently released 1940 U.S. Federal Census.
"We are proud of the experience we've built with and believe strongly in its future potential," said Matthew Monahan, CEO and Co-Founder of Inflection. "Combining with positions to best capitalize on that potential, pairing complementary visions of the marketplace and the opportunity. We've long admired's content and technology and the innovations that the team continues to bring to market. We're excited to see how this transaction expands the reach of family history to an even larger audience."
Upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including expiration of the HSR waiting period, will continue to operate separately retaining its brand and website. Multiple Inflection employees, including key product and engineering executives are expected to join the team.

About Inc. (Nasdaq:ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with more than 1.8 million paying subscribers. More than 9 billion records have been added to the site in the past 15 years. Ancestry users have created more than 34 million family trees containing approximately 4 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site, offers several localized Web sites designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.
About is a leading family history website that makes discovering family history simple and affordable. The company has assembled more than 2.1 billion historical records all in a single location. Archives also partners with other leading family history websites to provide a comprehensive resource for researching your family history. is free to try for seven days, allowing anyone to explore the benefits of membership without risk or obligation. For more information and to start discovering your family history, please visit
About Inflection
Inflection is a Big Data and e-commerce startup headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley. Leveraging its proprietary technology platform, the company has built innovative data services like,, and Inflection was founded in 2006 and is backed by tier-one venture capitalists Matrix Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Today is the 100th Anniversary of My Grandmother's Birth - Aune Reini Proctor, born Jan 21, 1912.

Aune Reini Proctor (1912-2007)

Happy Birthday Grandmother!

I wish she could have lived a couple more years to hear all that I have learned about her family!

You can read more about Aune here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Video tribute to my dad using family photos

Three years ago when my dad passed away, my fiance and I spent a huge amount of time on a video tribute of his life. I was never able to get it up on You Tube due to its length - until tonight. I used a ton of his family photos that I have acquired in my genealogical pursuits over the last decade or so. (I have even more now!) For anyone interested in watching it, it is here. It is quite long, so don't feel badly if you can't hang in until the end. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: Follow Up to New Treasures from My Mother #2 - Doc and Rose Campbell

I have an update on Doc Campbell and family, whom I wrote about back in June.

In his Handbook of Old Gallatin County, Jon Musgrave, has compiled 19th and 20th century sources, including bios from Gallatin. On p. 232-3, he transcribes (from Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley) the bio of my 2nd great grand uncle:

William Campbell, M.D. - 1905

WILLIAM CAMPBELL, M.D., who has practiced medicine at Equality, Ill., for almost forty years, was born two and a half miles west of that town Nov. 12, 1842. His father, William C. Campbell, was born in Virginia about 1789 and came in early childhood to Kentucky with his parents, who settled near Lexington. There he grew to manhood, married Mary Guard, and soon afterward came to Gallatin County, Ill. His wife died shortly afterward and he subsequently married Sallie Gillette Hewitt, the widow of William Hewitt, and a native of Vermont [contradicts census birth place]. They continued to live on the farm until 1858, when they removed to Equality and there spent their declining years. He died at the age of eighty years and she at eighty-two. Of their two children Doctor Campbell is the only one living.

Dr. William Campbell received his elementary education in the public schools of Equality, and began his business career as a clerk in a store. While thus employed he commenced the study of medicine, and after 1864 devoted his entire time to the acquirement of a professional education. In 1867 he was graduated from the Cincinnati College of Medicine, and soon afterward opened an office in Equality, where he has ever since practiced his profession. Doctor Campbell is one of the oldest practicing physicians in his section of the state, has a lucrative business, is recognized as one of the successful men in the treatment of diseases, and stands high with both the public and his brother physicians. He was one of the organizers of the Gallatin County Medical Society, to which he has belonged ever since its formation. As a member of Lodge No. 19, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, he has filled all the chairs, and has taken considerable interest in promoting the good works of the Methodist Episcolpal church, of which he is a member.

In 1867 he was married to Rose Norcross, a native of Evansville, Indiana, and they have three daughters and a son living. The three daughters live in Equality, where Nellie is a Mrs. Purcell; Mary a Mrs. Dempsey, and Nora a Mrs. Wathen. The son, William A., is an engineer on the railroad and lives in Danville, Ill. Doctor Campbell is one of the public spirited men in town, and as a Democrat takes a keen interest in political questions, though he is not what could be called a practical politician.
This biography which was kindly sent to me from a fellow Hewitt researcher answered many of the questions which I posed in my last post about the Campbells, however it also brought up additional questions. It turns out that some of the information contained in the above on Doc's father is incorrect. William C. Campbell has long been a bit of a mystery to many Gallatin researchers. I have made numerous inquiries about him in the past and had learned little about his origins. He was quite well-established in Gallatin and his name appears rather frequently in the town records, however it seems that no one except his contemporaries seemed to know his background - until now.

The bio above provides some clues, which led me to research done by Phil Norf on the Campbells of South Virginia. He mentions a William born about 1787, son of Captain William Campbell and Mary "Elizabeth" Ellison. Norf's exhaustive research places the family of this William Campbell in Augusta County, Virginia and then Tennessee prior to 1784 and in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky from about 1784 to 1806. Afterward they moved to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky and then onto Gallatin County, Illinois. Sound familiar?

Since there are already some discrepancies with the birth info that I have seen for "my" William C. Campbell, the birth date of 1787 is not that much of a stretch. The bio above states he was born about 1789 in Virginia and the 1850 Federal Census lists him as born about 1791 in Tennessee, but the migration pattern fits perfectly with that of Norf's William since "my" William seems to believe he was born in Tennessee, which is where his family was before coming to Fayette County, which was Virginia at the time and not Kentucky.

Norf's work states that William's wife's name is unknown. I have three wives for "my" William. 1) Nancy Graham or Nancy K. Campbell, 2) Mary Ann/Margaret Guard and 3) Sallie Gillette Hewitt (my 2nd great grandmother). The bio above ignores Nancy and states that William C. married Mary Guard before coming to Gallatin from Kentucky, but I found their marriage record in Gallatin in 1837. Since he was already about 50 years old by then, it makes sense that Nancy was the wife that he married in Kentucky who died shortly after arriving in Gallatin. This is further supported by the fact that both Nancy and Mary are buried in Gallatin County with the inscription "Consort of William C. Campbell". It is interesting to note that two of the siblings of William from Norf's research married Guards and at least one married another Campbell. So, it fits perfectly with "my" William who married a Guard and, probably, a Campbell cousin.

Given that: 1) The migration pattern of the two Williams is exactly the same, 2) "My" William married into families that were allied with the "other" William's family, 3) Norf's William became a landowner quite young (1804), inheriting from his father which put him in a position to be well-placed in Gallatin society like "my" William was, and 4) Researchers do not have info on "my" William's early life or Norf's William's later life - it follows that they are the same person.

With that in mind, William was probably born in Fayette County c.1787 when it was still Virginia, and  not in Augusta County or Tennessee as he apparently believed. Since the family had lived in both places previous to his birth, the confusion is understandable. His parents were Captain William Campbell (1748-1800), son of "Black David" Campbell and Jane Cunyngham, and Mary "Elizabeth" Ellison Campbell (1755-1825). In the 1810 Census William is probably the young male living with his widowed mother and three younger sisters in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. At least four of his sisters, one brother and his mother also ended up in Gallatin County by 1830.

The bio above also confirmed that all of my previous research on Rosanna Norcross and her children (that I wasn't too confident about) was indeed correct, except that instead of daughter Nora who is mentioned in the bio, I had Jennie who married George C. Helm on my tree. It appears that Jennie died before 1905 when the bio was written and Nora was born after the 1880 Census and married before the 1900 Census, thus making her "invisible" to me. With the info on her married name provided above, I was able to find Nora and even track some of her descendants forward.

I am happy to say that I feel like I have a really nice full picture of Doctor Campbell's family now and I hope that one of his descendants will happen upon my blog and contact me. Or, maybe I will get a DNA match one of these days to someone with the surname Campbell, Purcell, Dempsey, Helm or Wathen and because of this research be able to recognize the significance. Now, that would be fun!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Following the Footsteps of My Great Grandparents, 1906-1916

I visited San Francisco last week and took a couple of hours to seek out the homes of my great grandparents George and Fredrikka (Herstad) Allen. They were married shortly after the Great Earthquake of 1906, which took place in the early morning hours of April 18. Since George had just arrived at port on the S.S. Sierra a month earlier, I don't know how long they knew each other. He was a crew member and had been in San Francisco off and on since 1903, so it is possible that they had met before, but they were, apparently, not contemplating marriage. George always said that the earthquake "shook them together."  Fredrikka was already 35 years old and well on her way to being a spinster when they married on June 28, 1906.  I guess I have that devastating earthquake to thank for my existence!

George and "Dikka" Allen, wedding photo June 28, 1906

Their 1906 marriage license lists both of their residences as 595 Fell Street, so I started there.

I don't know if they were living together in this apartment building after the quake or if they listed this address because they intended to live together there after their marriage. I have been told that during the quake, George was sleeping in his bed and a very large picture fell off the wall just barely missing hitting him. He then got his things together and immediately went to Dikka's home to check on her. This is, most likely, that place and it, apparently, survived the quake.

For their next addresses, I scoured the San Francisco City Directories from 1906-1919. In 1907 and 1908, George (and, presumably, Fredrikka) are listed at 114 Divisadero Street.

Now, this address is an apartment tucked under the stairs. In 1907, it might have been a larger part of the house or, possibly, all of it.

My grandmother's sister Flora was probably born in this home in February 1908.

The city directories for 1909-1911 as well as the 1910 Federal Census show the growing family living at 230 Valley Street. That means that my grandmother Wanda was born in this home in December 1909.

The house next door has a plaque on it stating that it was built in 1884. The owner told me that this house was subdivided at some point, but has been restored back to its original condition in recent years. This information tells me that the Allens inhabited this entire home. Isn't it homey? When they walked out their front door, they encountered quite a site.

Saint Paul's Catholic Church, located on the corner of Church and Valley Streets, was first the site of a mission in 1876 and construction started on this tremendous building in 1897. Their site says it wasn't officially dedicated until 1911 when the Allens were living there. Funny, since they weren't religious at all. I wonder what they thought of it.

In 1912 and 1913, the Allens do not appear in the SF city directories at all. I know that George was transferred to Salt Lake City at some point in his career to oversee some stores that weren't doing well, so that may be when they moved. If so, that solves the question of when this photo was taken of George. However, that means that he would have been about 32 in it and he looks a bit older than that to me.

Taken in Salt Lake City, UT, c.1912?

In 1914 and through 1915, the Allens reappeared in San Francisco at this beautiful home at 635 Castro Street. It was strange, when I was walking down the street, oblivious to the addresses, I immediately knew that this was their house.

George was, obviously, doing well at his job with the United Cigar Stores and, as a result, "moving up in the world".

You can probably see from the photos that there are multiple doors on this residence. Undoubtedly, it has been subdivided in more recent years. The Allens, most likely, inhabited the whole house. I would need to check the historic property records to confirm this.

Judging from this detail work, someone has lovingly restored this historic home. It is impossible to know if it looked like this in 1914 when the Allens lived here, but I sure hope so!

This photo may have been taken there.

In 1916, the Allens again disappear from the San Francisco city directories. Luckily, I have George's World War 1 draft record, which lists the Allens residence as 663 Fairview Street, Oakland on September 12, 1918. (I didn't have a chance to visit that residence on this trip, but will likely do so next time I am in the Bay Area.) His draft card also confirmed that by 1918, he was the District Sales Manager for his company. In the early city directories and 1910 Federal Census he was listed as simply a clerk. I also notice that he listed the address of his work as 555 Howard Street, San Francisco (another one to add to my list for next time), so he must have been traveling from Oakland to San Francisco daily. Although I know that he loved to walk long distances, that would be too far even for him, so perhaps he had a gotten a car by then.

By the 1920 Federal Census, the young family had moved to Seattle, Washington, leaving the beautiful city by the bay behind.

I've often visited San Francisco, even working there for weeks at a time on a couple of occasions. I have always loved the city, but hadn't really considered my personal connection to it. It was fun this trip to have an excuse to explore the residential neighborhoods, discovering historic buildings and comfy cafes that we wouldn't have thought to seek out if not for following the footsteps of George and Fredrikka. Visiting the homes of my great grandparents made me feel more connected to this historic city than I ever had before and made me realize, one more time, how so many events, places and people make up the road to our existence.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sepia Saturday: New Treasures From My Mother #4 - Sally Proctor Fargo

Sally Proctor Fargo (1862-1940)
In the packet of photos that my mother recently gave me, was this familiar face. I have quite a few photos of my grandfather Everett Proctor's Aunt Sally (sometimes called Sallie), but in them she is well weathered by the years. It is so nice to see her fresh young face here for the first time.

The photo was taken at Talman Studio in Nebraska City which was, according to the photographer's stamp on the bottom of the photo, located on the north side of Main Street. I spent a ton of time trying to figure out what Sally was doing in Nebraska when I know that she spent her life in Illinois, Iowa and Washington State. Then, I finally used Google Maps and found out it is only about 16 miles from Sidney, Iowa where Sally lived from 1885 to about 1902. That was a lesson that I won't soon forget. I couldn't find anything at all about Talman Studio and it was very difficult to read the name on the photo card, although I did find some local families with that surname, so I am quite sure that is the correct name.

Since I cannot find any information about the photographer, it is difficult to narrow down the time frame of the photo. Sally lived in Sidney from the time she was 23 to 40 years old and this photo could be from almost any of those years. 

Sally didn't marry until she was 42, so she did not have any children of her own and was very close with her brother Daniel's children. In fact, when Sally was very ill in 1938, my grandmother Aune Proctor nursed her back to health even though she was pregnant with my mother at the time. There are a lot of photos of Sally with the family in my series of "Letters from Aunt Cleo".

This is how I am used to seeing Aunt Sally. She looks like a nice lady and I have heard nothing but good things about her. In 1904, she married Arva Fargo (who also had a photo in this packet) at her parents' home in Washington. Judging from what I have heard, sadly I don't think it was a very happy marriage. She was living with her single brother Charles in the 1930 Census, which is interesting because in the 1900 Census she was also living with three of her bachelor brothers. None of the Proctor siblings married except Sally and my great grandfather Daniel and he was the only one who had any children. Lucky for me, he bucked the family trend!