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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Researching and Finding Ancestors in Barbados

Just like many of the other Caribbean islands, Barbados has a rich history where today you can find information online which includes records.

First let me start with what is currently digitized or even indexed online. A wealth of information is maintained on familysearch.org's website.

The first obvious are databases that contains many different islands and many years.  They are as follows:

Caribbean Births and Baptisms 1590 - 1928
Caribbean Deaths and Burials 1790 - 1906
Caribbean Marriages 1591 - 1905

There are also specific databases for Barbados only, which are:

Barbados Baptisms 1739 - 1891
Barbados Marriages 1854 - 1879
Barbados Burials, 1854-1885

And there is the database that not only lets you search for your ancestors via a searchable database but it permits you to browse the images.  This is useful if you have a name that can potentially be misspelled:

Barbados Church Records 1637 - 1887

There are Slave Register records but you'll have to pay for access to them by having an international subscription to Ancestry.  The slave register covers from 1817 to 1834.  There is also a duplicate set that is held by the UK National Archives.

And speaking of the UK National Archives, I highly recommend that you use their search engine. They maintain many records pertaining to the Caribbean and your ancestors that were on the islands. In one of my quick searches, I was able to locate references of Africans being liberated due to illegal smuggling slavers having them onboard their ships. This was due to the activities I discussed in my post about the African Holocaust.  Their website permits you to either view online or download the records to your computer.  Here is another link to UK National Archives.

In reference to what familysearch has available, you can order from the catalog to view at a local Family History Library the 1715 Census for Barbados.

There is the population of the island of Barbados from 1679 to 1680 that is also available on the same film as the 1715 Census.  So if you order the film, you actually get both.

For the year 1638 "Census", there is a digitized book called The Narragansett Historical Register available via familysearch which contains a list of people on the island that had more than 10 acres of land.  You can find them on pages 282 through 288.  To get to page 282, at the top of the screen you should be at 1 of 710 pages, remove the "1" and enter in 305 and hit enter.

Another great source is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Voyages website. Here they contain over 36,000 Voyages. I plan to list this one on a separate post so that it can be found by everyone researching their African roots.

I came across another website that should help you in your ancestry research for Barbados ancestry.  You can find it on creolelinks.

My last link is for Barbados' government website, where they have publications.  

As I find more resources, I will post to the website. Please look at other posts even if you do not believe they pertain to you as you may discover other information that may help you with your research. Best of luck on your research!

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February 21, 2017

African Holocaust and the Impacts to Our Ancestors

One thing I have noticed in my research in genealogy is the close to nonexistence of research of African ancestry over the years. Today more are interested as their DNA is providing a visual into their past; African ancestry.  People are now looking to find and understand and are faced with the ugliness that is kept out of history books.

I have hit a brick wall in finding my African ancestry until more records are made available online. I luckier than others in the sense that I will be able to trace through church records since the Roman Catholic religion was the only religion on the islands my ancestors lived on. I celebrate my African ancestry because they were forced to be my ancestors and I have nothing but pride to know that I descend from them. However I have issue with horrible treatment thrown at them and find myself wanting to know so much more about their lives.

Newton’s Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This couldn’t be truer when we look at the African Holocaust that spanned 5 centuries. The complete destruction of the African family not only happened on the continent of Africa, but on the Middle Passage and if the enslaved Africans reached the destinations once bought. Millions of Africans were torn away from their motherland in order to die at sea and be thrown overboard. The results is the loss of connection to our ancestors and true culture. While many dishes connect back to our ancestors, it wasn't known until we started digging; an unspoken truth.

It is believed that shark migration patterns also changed as these creatures recognized that these ships were a source of food with the throwing overboard of the sick and dead, those that led revolts, and those that committed suicide; approximately 1.8 million African ancestors in the sea.


William Bosman author of A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea, Divided Into the Gold, the Slave, and the Ivory Coast (1705), wrote...
I have sometimes, not without horrour, seen the dismal Rapaciousness of these Animals; four or five of them together shoot to the bottom under the Ship to tear the dead Corps to pieces, at each bite an Arm, a Leg, or the Head is snapt off; and before you can tell twenty they have sometimes divided the Body amongst them so nicely that the least Particle is left; nay, not so much any of the Iutiails; and if any one of them to come too late for his share, he is ready eat up the others, and they attack one another the greatest violence in the World; and their Heads and half their Bodies above surface of the Water, they give one another forcible blows that they make the Sea a to tremble.
However one thing that is not discussed openly or not often enough, what occurred after the United States enacted the Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 Act that went into effect on January 1st, 1808. This act permitted slave trading within the United States but not permitting importation of slaves from outside of the United States. This act was driven by the successful revolts that occurred on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti & Dominican Republic) where our enslaved ancestors/genetic cousins, fought and successfully won their freedom in 1804. Another thing that this successful revolt led to was that United States slave owners became more strict and brutal towards the enslaved people.


This Act led to smuggling of slaves which also led to more deaths. Slaves were chained to metal balls that were thrown off the ship via a hatched door to avoid being caught with slaves aboard.


It was cheaper as these Slave ship owners viewed Africa as a non-stop resources for more Africans. They dumped Africans overboard to avoid being fined or captured.

Importing of slave would eventually be called piracy under another Act passed in 1819 called the Era of Good Feelings. Anyone caught would be given the death penalty or arrested and was enforced by the US Navy. This led to more African deaths off the shores of the United States and today it believed that is why there is such a high volume of sharks in the Carolina region.

The same thing was occurring in other parts of the world:
Last Tuesday the smallpox began to rage, and we hauled 60 corpses out of the hold.... The sights which I witness may I never look on such again. This is a dreadful trade...... I am growing sicker every day of this business of buying and selling human beings for beasts of burden... On the eighth day [out at sea] I took my round of the half deck, holding a camphor bag in my teeth; for the stench was hideous. The sick and dying were chained together. I saw pregnant women give birth to babies whilst chained to corpses, which our drunken overseers had not removed. The blacks were literally jammed between decks as if in a coffin; and a coffin that dreadful hold became to nearly one half of our cargo before we reached Bahia... Richard Drake, Revelation of a Slave Smuggler, 1860.

Over on the continent of Africa, Britain was enforcing their Blockade of Africa which outlawed British ships from transporting slaves, this also began in 1808. Britain’s Royal Navy established a presence off the African coast to enforce the ban and were called the West Africa Squadron. The ban included other countries but the United States refused to allow British ships interfere with American ships.Many were thrown off ships off the coast of Africa to avoid seizure of their ships or arrests.

Hope this post help others in understanding what happened to our ancestors as this is just the beginning of the struggles of our African ancestors and the African Holocaust that people refuse to recognize. This story doesn't end here and it is simply a minute view into what Africans faced.

Resources: 

  • E2BN - East of England Broadband Network. (n.d.). Suppressing the Trade. Retrieved from The Abolish Project: http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_155.html
  • Bly, A. T. (1998). Crossing the lake of fire: slave resistance during the Middle Passage, 1720-1842. The Journal of Negro History, 83(3), 178+. Retrieved from http://db24.linccweb.org/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.db24.linccweb.org/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=lincclin_spjc&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA54994009&asid=8f2a9d054c54098479d4d04873a1388d
  • Coughtry, J. (2009). The Journal of American History, 96(1), 205-207. doi:10.2307/27694775
  • Senie, H. (2009). The Journal of American History, 96(1), 205-205. doi:10.2307/27694774
  • Wolfe, B. Slave Ships and the Middle Passage. (2013, January 29). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Slave_Ships_and_the_Middle_Passage. 

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