May 18, 2017

Cuban Digitized Church Records and 1919 Census

While Cuba goes through their changes, including the ability to freely travel to the island, one of the struggles for many is finding resources when researching your Cuban ancestry.

Fortunately, the internet has made it possible for many to locate many genealogical records on their ancestors via online databases.While it is easy to find records for Puerto Rico since it is a part of the United States, 50 years of closing our borders has impacted many of our distance cousins that live on this island.

So today, I will share what can be found.  Unknown to many, Vanderbilt University maintains a collection of church records which are available to view online. The university offers degrees in Latin Studies and maintains many maps, manuscripts, and books on Cuba and other Latin countries.  Vanderbilt's church collection for Cuba contains records from the 1500's to the 1800's for the following churches.  After clicking on the links below, simply scroll down to arrive to the church books.  If you are of African descent, you will be surprised to discover your ancestors are also in the books, include ancestors that were enslaved.  The first church is in Matanzas and the remaining are all in Havana (scroll down the page until you arrive to your church):


Some of the books have been transcribed.  You can find them by clicking here.

Vanderbilt University contains some collections that will assist you in your genealogical research.  The following collections are military records which include "pardos" meaning brown complexion. The collections will each open in a new window:

 

1919 Census

Vanderbilt has a digitized copy of the 1919 Census for Cuba (click on it to open in a new browser).  This book contains many names and is in a book format.  You will find a detailed list of people who were census personnel and enumerators for districts.  You will have to page through to get through the book to get to the names.  Hopefully you can spend time reading it to understand how people lived during that era.  The book also contains some images from around Cuba.


May 14, 2017

Understanding Your X Chromosome DNA

When it comes to DNA, I am either asked privately or see posts asking why Ancestry shows an individual further related than what the person appears on GEDMatch. This has to do with how Ancestry's Timber software analyzes the DNA file.  Timber has been known to remove centimorgans (cM) where chromosomes are bunched together (clustered) which can lead to removing relatives from your list.

I have seen this occur with people who are distant related but I have documentation that they are indeed related via records. This phenomenon isn't just my tree but many other people complaining about the same issue.

The best option is to download your raw file from Ancestry and upload it to GEDMatch to further analyze your DNA.  While learning to use GEDMatch may seem hard at first, it actually isn't. If you need help, there are many groups on Facebook, many blogs that will help you along the way, and plenty of YouTube videos.

There are also wiki pages associated to each of the options selected on their website.  Just remember that this website is free and ran by many volunteers.  There are additional tools available that you can use at the cost of  $10 per monthly.  However, learn more about the website before taking on too much.
Getting to what I want to discuss, X Chromosome, note that you should not be relying solely on X to identify relationship once you are in GEDMatch.  The individual should be matching you on other chromosomes. 

Lately I am seeing posts of "I have an X match", does that mean we match via a particular parent? The answer is yes and no.  It all depends if you are male or female. Below is an illustration of how we inherit X as a male and hope with the visual it will clarify the answer to the question.

Note, we are not discussing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in this post; that is another discussion. This is to keep the discussion as simple as possible and the illustrations have been over simplified to help you along.



Males have a Y chromosome and a X chromosome.  Males can only inherit Y chromosome from their father and a combination X chromosome from their mother.

Females have two X chromosomes. Females inherit an exact copy of their father's mother's (paternal grandmother) combination X chromosome and a combination X chromosome from their mother. 


Combination X from your mother mean that you do not get an exact copy of one of her X chromosomes, it is just as random of inheritance as it is for your other 22 chromosomes (called autosomes).

So for example, I have two half sisters, we share the same mother.  Our shared amount of X chromosome DNA is different from one another. With one sister I share 94 cM and the other I share 64 cM. However, they are two full sisters, so they share an exact copy of their father's DNA and a portion of our mothers, between them they share 196 cM.

Below is an illustration of what I stated before, note that you can inherit many combinations from a mother but I left this very simple; you can click on the image to blow it up from a computer.

Males can inherit many different combinations from their mother and pass an exact copy down to only their daughters.  So every female is walking around with an exact copy of their father's mother's combined X DNA.




Most importantly, you should not assume if a person only matches you on X and not on any other chromosome, that you are related.  It is not a reliable way of determining relationship.  I hope this clarifies many questions on X. 

March 28, 2017

Ancestry's Genetic Communities for DNA - My View

So today I login to discover that Ancestry has implemented its new feature, Genetic Communities. Immediately I noticed that I belong to one community and wanted to see how they came about this.

In looking at the layout of what it states, it tells me that I am genetically connected to those in Puerto Rico on the eastern side of the island. Really now?

So what do I have to say about it? FAILURE!

Here is why.  First, it is based upon who has tested.  I am half Puerto Rican and half Dominican.  Of that half Dominican, one eighth of my great grandparents is of Middle Eastern descent.  Why doesn't it associate me to Dominican Republic? Here is why...

I have a family tree on Ancestry associated to my DNA kit.  My tree is more built out on my Puerto Rican side of the family with some lines going back 13 generations.  My tree currently has a total of 6,779 people on it.  I actually descend from the Taino's on that island and the first settlers along with Africans that were enslaved and brought to the island.

I can also say the same thing about my Dominican ancestry, I simply have not added the generations until I can confirm the individuals are truly connected correctly since my tree is public.  However I have many people on that side of the family on my tree. The balance of people who have tested shows that many Dominicans have not tested so the volume is much more less. It is also telling since people that reach out to me are 3 times more likely to be descendants from Puerto Rico.

What Ancestry basically did was look at those that match me, look at their trees (which I have done), and then looked at my tree and said, "Yup you belong to the eastern portion of Puerto Rico".   I did not need their help in that aspect, I figured this out all on my own via documentation. The towns are listed on most of those that I have been able to locate birth, marriage, or death records that speaks to where they are from.

However what Ancestry truly needs to do is provide a chromosome browser and permit their users to use the tool to determine connections. Currently users have to download kits and upload to GEDMatch to confirm and determine relationships. This only works if everyone does this, which they do not.  So Ancestry, stop wasting money on features that are of zero use to many users and provide what we have been demanding; a chromosome browser.

Ancestry Genetic Communities
Nice try but it failed majorly on what I expected. If I pull an example from one of the many kits I manage, which has a limited tree, I get a different result as shown below.  Epic fail on Ancestry's part, better off spending money on a chromosome browser. A waste of money and development.

Genetic Communities 2

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March 11, 2017

Caguas Puerto Rico - Censo de Almas 1886 to 1889

I located this census for Caguas while going through digital images. They have been online since the civil records were made available and I guess I never noticed it and potentially many others.

It is found on the same films as the civil registration records for the region but cannot be seen if browsing through Caguas' digital images.  The census is list below by towns.  Simply click on the town you want to view below and it will open in a new window on your computer.



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March 4, 2017

San Benito de Patillas Baptism Records 1890 to 1917

While not all of the church records for Patillas, Puerto Rico are available online at the time of me writing this post. There are some that are available and should hopefully help some of you who are searching for an ancestor. The collection has approximately 2,300 images to review.

I find that locating your ancestor in church books is much more likely to occur during this time period simply because people were more likely to get their children baptized versus registering the birth in civil records.

The church records only cover the baptisms from 1890 to 1917, hopefully the rest of the books will be available online soon.  Please note that the priest or whomever was documenting baptisms in these books were adding baptisms that potentially belong in a later book and could have ran out of room in a book so they added it to the end in older books with empty pages. 

Most importantly, you will find children being baptized when they are older.  I see children born in 1906 being baptized in 1908.  Never skip reviewing an entire book or two when looking for your ancestors.  The books are as follows and I've broken down the film to make it easier for you to locate the beginning of each book. As always, all links will open in a new tab or window but this page will remain while viewing from a computer.









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February 26, 2017

Slave Voyage Database & Slave Registers for British Colonies

The database contains a list of slave records for the following islands or countries. Do not be surprised if you have done your DNA to discover cousins from Sri Lanka or Mauritius as you can see from the below list that enslaved people were take there too:

  • Antigua (1817-1818, 1821, 1824, 1828, 1832)
  • Bahamas (1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
  • Barbados (1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1832, 1834)
  • Berbice (Guyana today)  (1818-1819, 1822)
  • Dominica (1817, 1820, 1823)
  • Grenada (1817-1834)
  • Honduras (1834)
  • Jamaica (1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1832, 1834)
  • Mauritius (Indian Ocean)  (1817, 1819, 1822, 1826, 1830, 1832, 1835)
  • Nevis (1817, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831)
  • Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (1818-1832)
  • St Christopher (1817, 1822, 1825, 1827-1828, 1831, 1834)
  • St Lucia (1815, 1819)
  • St Vincent (1817, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
  • Tobago (1819-1834)
  • Trinidad (1813, 1815-1816, 1819, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
  • Virgin Islands (1818, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
Ancestry also points out what they do not have but that you can located them at the UK National Archive in paper format.  You can check with the website to determine if they are available for download. They are as follows and the information below I retrieved it from Ancestry:
  • Jamaica (pieces 193, 206-208)
  • St Christopher (pieces 261-263)
  • Grenada (piece 264, 266)
  • Dominica (pieces 359-363)
  • Nevis (piece 369)
  • St Lucia (pieces 382-390)
  • Demerara (pieces 391-436)
  • Berbice (pieces 441-446)
  • Montserrat (pieces 447-451)
  • Bermuda (pieces 452-455)
  • St Vincent (pieces 494, 496)
  • Mauritius (piece 566, 571)
  • Cape of Good Hope (pieces 652-662)
Most importantly, I pointed out in my prior post that the UK National Archive has many resources for you to research.


Slaves in Vale do Paraiba Sao Paulo (Brazil) 1885

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