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Archive for September, 2018

A while back I was contacted by Lisa M. DeChano-Cook, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Western Michigan University about my antique photographs. She said that she and her colleague, Mary L. Brooks, were writing a book about the Kalamazoo River and were interested in photos of that subject.

The book is now published, and Lisa sent me an autographed copy. It’s a gorgeous collection of photos and information about the history of the river. If you are interested, just click through the following image of the book to order from Amazon.

They used several of my photographs. And they also found photographs in the archives at Western that were taken by grandpa’s uncle, Joseph DeKorn. In the 70s or 80s, my grandfather donated a lot of photographs and glass negatives to the archives. Notice that the one at the archives is the same photograph that I use for the header of my blog–the flood at the Water Works Bridge in 1904.

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The above is another one from the archives. I also have a copy of this one. In fact, I posted it a year and a half ago, wondering if it was it, in fact, the Monarch Paper Mill. According to DeChano-Cook and Brooks, it is the Monarch Mill. I guess I can go back and revise that blog post. (How many times have I said that–and then how often do I do it? I need a blog assistant–any offers? haha)

This is one of the photos I sent to Lisa:

The book states:

Many farmers tried to fence in their property because they knew that the river flow would change and they could not use it as a stable boundary. In the photograph, a wire fence spans a shallow part of the Kalamazoo River. The reflection of the fence in the water makes it appear as though it is a wire pedestrian bridge.

So thrilled when blog readers relate to what they find on this blog. I always end up learning a lot!

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This blog post responds to the ethnicity estimates on Ancestry as did my last blog post. This one is more eloquent. 🙂

An American Genealogy

[One quick note: As always, we receive no financial benefit or consideration for any product or service we review/recommend/discuss here. Everything we discuss is our opinion alone, and we talk about it because we use it.]

Ancestry has made a lot of noise recently when they updated their Ethnicity estimates, and the now intensified debate about the “accuracy of DNA tests” and the confusion among the general public makes it clear: as a community of serious researchers, we need to be the voice of reason when it comes genetic admixture and call it out for dubiously valuable, largely inaccurate parlor trick that it is. Here’s why:

Ethnicity cannot be tested for. Ever.

Ethnicity is a social construct. Period. If we look at any test, any genealogical tree or other determination it will not build a social link to ones ancestral background. Michael hasn’t been to Ireland, but I have, and…

View original post 1,227 more words

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Can we talk DNA for a minute today? As you may or may not know, Ancestry has updated their DNA Story. They have revised their ethnicity estimates based upon a larger pool of test results than was used in their prior estimates. That sounds good, right?

So why does it seem not any more accurate? I’ll qualify that by saying that is no way to be “accurate” with this stuff as it’s just a hint. Since my ancestors were all European, and there was so much movement in Europe over time, my DNA result should look like a bit of a blended cocktail–and it does.

I might share DNA with this woman, but I don’t know her name

Great hat though!

One of the biggest problems with my own DNA is the Dutch portion. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I have a lot of Dutch ancestors. But Ancestry doesn’t locate “Dutch DNA.” I don’t think any of the DNA companies do. It might show up as British and/or Scandinavian, for instance. It’s pretty annoying. Then there’s that Prussian thread. They probably lived close to Sweden, in what is now Poland. Is that Polish, German, Swedish DNA? Finally, the Alsatian portion of my DNA. What is that? Is it French or German? Well, it’s a little difficult either way because Alsace is currently in France and, in general, French people don’t get their DNA tested! That came as a shock to me, but it is illegal to do DNA testing in France where it is possible for paternity to be established. (I hope that sentence makes sense!) So there isn’t a big enough database of French and Alsatian people to help with ethnicity estimates.

Back to Ancestry’s update. I’m only going to discuss some minor findings in my new estimates as a way to show how screwed up they are. Previously, Ancestry predicted that I had 10% Eastern European DNA. I thought that must be the Prussians making a strange appearance (after all, these were Germans who lived in Poland). Now Ancestry has reduced the Eastern Eurpean DNA (nevermind that 23andme shows me with an actual specific gene that is considered Polish) to 2%.

Now my “Scandinavian” genes are no longer 6%, but I have 11% Swedish. This makes sense to me because the Prussians lived so close to Sweden that I figure there was a lot of mixing in. But then this could be Dutch DNA since that often shows up as Scandinavian. Wherever it came from, I thought it explained why my grandfather had a congenital illness that can be traced to Swedish or Italian heritage: Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

For kicks, I looked at my parents’ ethnicity estimates for the Swedish components. Well, gee whiz.  Mom only has 2% Swedish! I wondered if and how I could get the rest of the Swedish from my dad, but while I was checking out Mom’s I saw that she has  15% Eastern European now! and 7% Norwegian! and 3% Baltic states! She’s the Dutch and the Prussian connection, by the way. But see how different her results are from mine.

Let’s look at Dad’s. He’s got 3% Norwegian and 2% Swedish! Even if I add up both their Swedish, it only comes to 4%, and I have 10%. And wouldn’t the average be that I would get 1% from each, totalling 2%? (hahaha)

I’m going to let it lie there because I think the Swedish part alone shows that Ancestry has a LONG way to go.

So I went over to my 23andme results. 3.6% Polish. Hah. 3.1% Scandinavian! That’s a far cry from 11% Swedish. And, weirdly, 1% Balkan. I will note that Ancestry did show me with some southern European and even Iberian DNA before, but they have taken that off the table now.

It makes me mad when I hear stuff like how My Heritage tells almost everybody they have Nigerian DNA. Oh yeah? Hah, I highly doubt it. (Mine shows .9% Nigerian). It’s because the company is new, and a lot of work needs to be done before the results of our tests really should be analyzed. I think I’ll ignore the fact that they believe I have 26.5% Balkan ancestry. Geesh.

Maybe the DNA companies should explain that these estimates are just for FUN and you shouldn’t put much stock in them.

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Last spring I posted a photo of my great-grandmother Clara Waldeck Mulder (1884-1953) that I discovered. You can find the post here. It was the first time I saw what she looked like as an older woman. Up to then, I had seen her as a bride and as a young mother.

The other day my mother sent me another old album and loose photos. Guess what? There are TWO new photos of Clara! In one of them, she is young. It’s taken before she was married–or even engaged, I am pretty sure. The photo has a little damage–a white mark across her skirt and a dark spot on her cheek. I did my best to fix the cheek, but left the white mark alone.

How old does she look here? 16-18? If so, the photo would be from around 1900-1902.

And here is another photo, this time from around 1940.

In my post My Great-Grandmother’s Lifetime of Service it’s clear that Clara was very devoted to her service groups. I wonder if this dress has something to do with a ceremony in Eastern Star or Rebekah Lodge. Any other ideas about the dress?

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