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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February 19, 2017

Slavery In Brazil - the African Holocaust

One of the harsh realities that we face is knowing how much the Roman Catholic Church ignored in the abuses and deaths that many Africans and their descendants were dealt. It is the ultimate holocaust that no one discusses nor views it as such; the African Holocaust.

The exception to this of course is those who recognize what occurred and those that face the outcome of it every single day. The destruction of a rich African culture spanning over 500 years with slavery being abolished just over 100 years ago.  It is still felt today as Africans and their descendant still face oppression throughout the world.  It is human savagery that went unchecked that started with a religion that chose to look the other way.




So how does this play into ancestry? Many ways. Many of these same Brazilian Africans are genetic cousins that connects to many of us throughout the Caribbean, South American and the United States.

I also have matching genetic cousins who descend from enslaved Africans from the southern United States.  Nothing like throwing a bucket of cold water onto your tree and reality.

While I know which lines on my paternal side descend from Africans, I have yet to figure out exactly who were the ones on my maternal side as I have inherited African DNA from both my parents. I have luckily determined that I have a line on my maternal grandmother that is of African descent but I need to continue drilling further down.

In my search I came across this collections of enslaved people photos of Brazilian Africans.  Brazil was the last in the Americas to emancipate slavery in 1888:



Understanding what our ancestors faced is very important so that we can document correctly and share with our families and our future descendants.


And finally a video of how Africans lived in Brazil:


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February 2, 2017

US Virgin Islands - Census and Land Records

A wonderful individual on Ancestry by the username awiewall provided me a link to many records available about the islands that were once under Denmark.  Thank you again awiewall for sharing this information.  

The islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas were sold to the USA in 1916 under the Treaty of the Danish West Indies for US$25 million in gold. Since then, these islands have been part of the USA.

There are many projects underway in having records index for the islands. I'm hoping that those that are researching the US Virgin Islands will consider assisting in the projects. 

The records on this website include Census records going back to 1841, land records, copybooks of letters to the King, military muster rolls, police proceedings, court rulings, and other miscellaneous records.


The project is under way at the following link:

https://cs.sa.dk/collection/3?locale=en

You can see the collections by scrolling down.  As the website states in the intro screen, once records have been indexed they will be made available for all at https://www.virgin-islands-history.org/en/ at no cost. I recommend that you visit both websites to help you with your research into your ancestry.

St. Croix Sugar Mill 1800's
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January 31, 2017

Video Tutorial: Looking at Digital Records on FamilySearch

If you have written to me and I have not responded, it is not that I am ignoring you.  It simply means that I cannot keep up with the questions being asked. So knowing how frustrating it can be in researching your ancestry, I created a quick tutorial on how to view digitized records.  Yes a long time ago I was right there with you in frustration but hoping that I can assist in removing some of it.

Keep in mind that the video is done on collections I am very familiar with but that this applies to all records on Familysearch.  So if you're looking in Jamaica, Barbados, or even Brazil, you'll be able to easily navigate the images.

I recommend that you have to separate windows if you are on a computer to follow along. If you're on a mobile device, you may have to watch it a couple of times before venturing on your own.  Just know that the video will remain on the website. 




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How to Find Ancestors on Family Search Website

I get many private messages on how to find records.  I wanted to post a video that will help everyone to find records no matter where your family is from.  The below video is the first that provides you with instructions on searching on the website. It is meant to be basic so that you can get comfortable with the website.

There are many that enter the world of genealogy and tend to feel lost.  I know that feeling as I started off this way years ago. I wanted to take away the frustration for many.  I hope this video helps you along with the many other videos I plan to post.



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January 26, 2017

Digitized Brazilian Slave Church Records

One of the struggles with those who descend from enslaved Africans in the USA is trying to connect the dots to determine where you came from.  One pattern I have noticed in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America is that religion was the key controller of documentation. I am posting images for those who are not aware they exist and are no longer under copyright since they are extremely old. All images are from the 1800's in Brazil.

Slavery in Brazil by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1834–1839)

The Roman Catholic Church was known to document every person via baptism, marriages and deaths.  This included people who were made slaves and there was nothing good about the slavery that occurred to our ancestors.  Believe me that they fought just as hard for their freedom just like we would today so don't think otherwise.

Today I get many requests about African culture and where to find records which is why I make it a point to post these records.  I too have many questions as I now have African cousins on both my paternal and maternal side.  It seems that people from Gambia are testing the most as I now have a Gambia cousin who is 100% African on both sides.

I was able to determine what line my Gambia cousins are coming from on my father's side and tonight I was able to determine the same for my maternal side.  Without a doubt the Gambia cousin is coming from my maternal grandmother.  I am still researching to determine if this Gambia cousin comes from my grandmother's father, which is Cartagena, or from my grandmother's mother, which is Rivas.  Either way the Gambia cousin is definitely from my maternal grandmother. I hope as I continue to build my tree I can place this person on my tree.

I had completely forgotten that there are actual church books that are available online and are digitized by Vanderbilt University for Brazil. The access is free and you do not need student access.  You will need to use Google Translate as the records are in Portuguese.

1824 Slave Market in Rio de Janeiro Brazil - Children Being Sold

For Antonio de Sa, there are 2,745 images to go through.  The books start off in 1761 and ends in 1861. There are many other regions and churches so Antonio de Sa isn't the only collection.  Just scroll down to view more records.


This collection has baptisms, marriages, and death records for both Africans and African descents enslaved as well as those that are free.  There is also books with Wills and Obituaries for both slaves and freed blacks so these images are a great resource to do research if you're looking for ancestry in Brazil.




Slave Ship on Way to Brazil in 1800's
Most important there are other posts on this blog for Brazil so don't think that this is the only post.

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Cemetery Records for Caguas in Puerto Rico

Familysearch has kept themselves busy converting microfilmed images into digitizes records.  Although it seems like a simple task, it really isn't and the process is very long and requires expertise.  These records are then made available on their website.

So last night before calling it a night, I saw that more records have become available online for Puerto Rico. This is a great thing as many people from the Caribbean have taken on wanting to know their ancestry.  We no longer live in the world of now but in a world of wanting to know how we got here.

The collections contains cemetery records from 1900 to 1910 and then records from 1942 to 1990.  The 1900 to 1910 will be a great source of information as many Puerto Ricans died during that 10 year period after Hurricane San Ciriaco in 1899 made landfall in Guayama, which is southwest of Caguas and cut across the island leaving destruction and death behind.  

Caguas, Puerto Rico 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane Damage
The hurricane killed 3,369 people and this figure does not include the many that died following this devastation. It manage to destroy the island's coffee crop as it hit prior to picking season which led to poverty. The next 10 years we see many dying from anemia, cholera, and starvation. Many children died but also many children were left as orphans. You will find this as you dig through records.

Cementerio 1º Books:

Cementerio 3º Books:


Registry of Cemetery 

Arecibo, Puerto Rico 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane Damage
Most important there are other posts on this blog for Puerto Rico so don't think that this is the only post.

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January 25, 2017

Georgetown Guyana Birth Marriage and Death Annoucements

As I continue to find documents or information on Guyana and any other place for the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, I'll add them to the blog to help in your research.

So one of the best places to search for ancestors is in newspapers.  It may not have been a place we would think to do so today with the technology we have in place but it is definitely a great place to look for back when our ancestors were around.

In Georgetown Guyana there were at least two newspapers that were in print in the 1800's.  Newspapers were used to make announcements and this goes for entire Caribbean and South America.

The first one is the Colonist newspaper.  The newspaper can be found on one film but covers from 1864 to 1880.  Simply scroll down to the bottom to find the film. Take a look at my prior posts before ordering films.

Colonist 1864 to 1880 - Births, Marriages, and Deaths

Another newspaper is The Argosy.  This collection covers announcements for birth, marriages and deaths during the years of 1880 to 1896. This collection can be found on two films.

The Argosy 1880 - 1896 - Births, Marriages, and Deaths

Most important there are other posts on this blog for Guyana so don't think that this is the only post.

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I hope this addition helps you in finding records to add to your family tree.






Brazil Digitized Civil Records

This is my third post on Brazil, however it is about many different type of records that are available online. 

The records on Brazil are extensive and the best part is that they are available for free to review.  Since they make the records available at no charge, I ask that you volunteer for one of the many projects they have to help others in their research.  To help, simply click on the Indexing link at the top of the website. 

So now back to Brazil, these links are descriptive below and go beyond just civil records.  The  miscellaneous records for Rio Grande do Sul contain marriage records as well as court records.  This is a goldmine of information as it has close to 3 million records for those of you researching your ancestry in such a large country.  As previously posted on prior posts, visit http://www.genealogianuestra.com/2017/01/where-to-find-church-records-for-us.html to understand how to view the records, it's an easy to follow tutorial.

So now that you have viewed the above post, here are the digitized images for church records throughout Brazil.  Hopefully you read my prior post for Brazil.

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Many of these links have searchable databases so I recommend that you use both options. 

If you're looking for ancestors that entered the country at some point in time, here are some records for different States in Brazil.

Here are some burial records that are available online:


Finally last but far from minimizing them, the following are civil registration records available.  

I hope this post is helpful in your research in Brazil.








Brazil Digitized Church Records Available Online

There are many digitized church records for Brazil available online and the best thing is that they are available for free.  You can assist the website with indexing projects they have underway to make researching easier for all.  Note that if you don't read or speak the language, Google Translate is a great option.  I provide a link on my blog for all to use.  Don't skip in researching your ancestry simply because you can read the language.

So before we start and so that I don't find myself writing really long blog posts, click on the following link so that you'll know how to view the digitize images.  It will take away a lot of frustration.  It is a reference only so pay attention to the images so that when you get to the link you're not screaming "Where are the images!?!"

http://www.genealogianuestra.com/2017/01/where-to-find-church-records-for-us.html

So now that you have viewed the above post, here are the digitized images for church records throughout Brazil.  Hopefully you read my prior post for Brazil.

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Seeing Brazilian Church Records - Searchable Databases

When I first took my DNA test years ago with 23andMe, the last thing I expected to find was Brazilian cousins.  As I wrote to them, many stated that they always known that their ancestors were from Brazil and didn't realize that they would match with cousins from the Caribbean.  Although I am born in the USA, I am first generation born since both my parents were born in the Caribbean. 

Once I tested with AncestryDNA, I found many more Brazilian cousins who are 4th cousins. This had to do with the fact that Ancestry has the largest database of matching cousins.  While having your DNA done for genealogical purposes is a great move to help in your research, I need to kill the idea that you'll have an instant tree.  That is not the purpose of having your DNA tested.  It is another tool in helping you confirm that your tree is correct or assists you in knowing where else to look for your ancestors.

That being said, yes I have many Brazilian cousins and know I will be able to connect them as I add more ancestors to my tree. I recommend that you read up on Brazilian history to understand where to search for your ancestors.  There is a really great GIF on the history link that shows you how the layout of the country changed, it will be useful in your research.

So the first three links below provide you with a search database for marriages, deaths, and births.  All links will open in a new window to make it easier for you. 



Note that these are not for all churches so first search these databases and if you can't locate the record, I will be posting an additional post addressing images.

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My next post will be on digital images of church records. Hopefully the above databases have come to great use to you.




January 17, 2017

Where to Find Church Records for the US Virgin Islands?

As you know, the US Virgin Islands consist of 3 islands which are Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix.  Trying to find family for these islands is not as difficult as it used to be and not as impossible as many seem to think.  There are films and digitized church records available online. This post will only be about the digitized images and I'll speak about the films on a future separate post. Most importantly, review all other blog posts here as it will help you, even if you think it doesn't pertain to you. 

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I've pointed it out in prior posts about knowing the history of the region where you are seeking information about your ancestors. It doesn't require you to know deep history but enough to know where to go digging for the records.  Part of my success in finding records and information on my ancestors is not just following their path but also following the path of history. This will minimize the number of records you have to search through.

Like many other islands, these islands faced hurricanes and invasions from pirates or other nations. So if you are looking for an ancestors during a certain time period, the key is knowing what was happening during that time period to determine how you'll locate them.

Another key resources is knowing that many islanders, although not having today's technology, were know to island hop.  I know that I have found many people from all three islands in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. I have even posted on the blog about finding an enslaved person of African descent who was from St. Thomas and being baptism in Puerto Rico as a slave. Never assume that your ancestor never left the island, even if for a short trip, you'll be surprised how many have made trips.

Another important item is age. Just remember that when you are attempting to estimate the birth of an ancestor, take the last known ancestor's birth and minus 20 to 25 years of age for the mother.  Most of our ancestors were married very young and also had many children.  To give you an example, one of my great grandmothers was married off at the age of 11 but didn't have her first son, my grandfather, until she was nearly 16 years of age.  Yes it was shocking but a reality during that era. I tend to give men between 25 to 30 years of age to estimate their age. This is how I manage to reduce records I have to search through. When going through church records I take that ancestor and search through 20 years of records (plus or minus 10 years from estimated date of birth).

When going through records, I collect all of the children's names for a great grandparent. If you've read my blog, you'll discover that I have 3 sisters who turned out to be my 4th great grandmothers for different lines. This reduces time on research.


The link below has digitized images or you can use the search engine available. There are 10,633 images available for you to view and they cover Saint Thomas and Saint Croix.  I'm going to walk you through the long process on this. This is to help first timers or for those who struggle navigating the website. I tend to use both options; search engine and going through images. I do this as I recognize that the person reading the document may have misinterpreted the image while indexing. I have found records that I thought were not available using both options.  You must setup a free account with FamilySearch to view these records. Please do that before we start by visiting www.familysearch.org. After registering, click on the below link.


Below is an image of where the above link will take you. You can print this image if you want to view it larger. Simply click on it and it should open into a bigger window, then right click it and save it to the computer. The link is setup to open in a new tab so you will not navigate away from this page.


So if you used the above search window and found what you were seeking, then there is no need to go further. However if you know that your ancestor should be found in the books, then I recommend you continue further with me. In the above image it tells you where you can browse through the images.



You will be led to a new window, but no images. For this example click on St. Croix. I will also advise you how to be back if you want to view St. Thomas. Once you click on St. Croix, a list of towns will appear.


Click on Christiansted for this example.  Then as shown in the below screenshot click on St John's Episcopal Anglican Church

You will be taken to the screen below. Notice how the images are split up by years and types of records. For this example, click on Baptism 1841 -1854.



 By clicking on it, it will lead you to a screen as seen below. I took a small snapshot of the screen as I want to talk about navigating the images.


The white box with the one indicates that it is the first image. You can enter any number from 1 though 124 but never greater as it will return an error; only this example.  Once you enter an number, you can hit enter and the screen below (whitish area) will update with the image.

The plus and minus signs on the left hand side permit you to zoom in and out of an image. You are also permitted to download the image to your computer (didn't grab a snapshot).  You can find the download option to the right of the window.

The dots indicate multiple images.  Click on it to see what it does.  Yes it allow you to zoom out and see many images. When in that view, you can jump forward by click on any image in the screen and notice that the icon changes after you click it. It appears as it does below.


You can click on the new icon and it will zoom into the image you selected.  When in multiple image view, you can also hold down your mouse and scroll down and grab an image further down. The last icon with the four corners permits you to blow the image to full screen.  So plenty of features to make it easier to navigate.

Now how do you navigate back? Do not use the back button on your browser and you won't get the results you expect by it. Instead, lets look at the below image. Notice that above the menus on every screen you drilled down that they appear in blue.  These are hyperlinks that allow you to move backwards.  If you click on the church name, all the images under that church will appear. If you click on the town and there was more than one church, the other churches will appear there. However there was only one church for this town.  If you click on St Croix, the cities will appear. And if you click on link for the Virgina Islands, you will notice that St Croix and St Thomas will appear.

I purposely went through this lengthy explanation as I know that many have come to me and struggle to navigate this website. I hope that this explanation will assist you in finding your ancestors.


January 14, 2017

How Recent was an Ancestor from a Region?

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One of the struggles that we deal with is trying to figure out when an ancestor from a specific region of the world occurred when reviewing your DNA results.

23andMe recently added a new feature to DNA results that will help many in determining when to search for a specific ancestor and where.  The new feature provides you with a timeline that then places the ethnicity within a time period. Below are my results on 23andMe.  This is a new added feature if you're on the line on whether you should do an ancestral test with 23andMe.

My 23andMe DNA Results

My middle eastern is in sync with my family tree as my great grandfather who was the last from that region of the world was born in the 1800's and died in 1949.  The test results are not perfect as he was born closer to the 1870's but it still is better than nothing when you're playing guessing games. I know that I can research my African ancestry in Puerto Rico since I have a line that comes from Gabon and yes it is smacked right where West Africa appears.  If you have your test done at 23andMe previously, I recommend that you go and visit the page found under reports.

The best feature about it is that it lets you know what level of great grandparent existed at the time.  So hovering over my North African, you'll see where the bubble window pops up and provides additional information. A step in the right direction for 23andMe.

January 8, 2017

Genealogy Help for All of the Caribbean

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Was hoping that I would be able to post one more island before classes start for me on Monday, however my weekend proved to be too busy.  I will not be able to post again until Spring break as I'm in classes full time and studying for a certification exam.

However, I failed to mentioned for many Caribbean island posts here that there are some common databases that are searchable for everyone.  The following links are databases that cover the entire Caribbean.  Take a look at the databases if you haven't used them in the past.  It is a hit or miss but never skip over it.

All Caribbean Islands:

Note:  For the three books listed above (last three bullet points), use the WorldCat link to see if a local library near you has the books.

The Candoo Forums also maintains a great forum for surnames for all of the Caribbean; this includes Guyana, Venezuela, and Mexico (Caribbean facing).  The forum is split by country/island names.

Guyana 

Chinese in Guyana: Their Roots - Make sure that when you visit the Passenger page that you click on ship's name as it will lead to the list of people on the ship and to ancestors.

Jamaica

Jamaica Registrar General
University of West Indies




January 6, 2017

Finding Your Ancestry in Antigua and Barbuda

I am hoping to be able to cover a few more countries before classes begin for me on Monday as I am attending classes full time as well as working full time.  I will be going on silent mode for the most part since my schedule is busy.  So I wanted to cover Antigua and Barbuda as I have an half aunt who has many relatives in this region of the Caribbean.

Although there are limited digitized records for Antigua and Barbuda available, there are may microfilms available that you can request to view locally via a Family History Center (FHC).  I know that using Familysearch can be daunting for many as it was for me when I first came across it.  I share this information to make it easier for others. It will be amazing to see how many more people I will connect with.

So here is the thing about Antigua and Barbuda.  If you initially search on these islands, you'll think that there are no civil records for the island or very limited options. Playing around in the catalog will surprise you.  I tend to like using "Keywords" when I feel that the search results is too small when using the catalog.  So here is what I found.

Registers of slaves in Antigua, 1817-1833 (There are 4 films, scroll down and review)

For the following list of links, scroll down on each to see the film number you'll need.  If you get the same film number for many items, it is just one film.  The item number just lets you know where on the film you'll find the type of records.  Capture that information so that when the film arrives at the local FHC, you'll know where to fast forward on the film. Ask for assistance as they will help you at the location.

Civil Registration Records:


A catalog list of what is available, beyond the above, can be found as follows:  Antigua and Barbuda 

This book is available online, click on the link and you'll see the sub-links on the page. It is always good to read history so that you'll know where to search next. It has always worked for me.


Familysearch has the book but not for borrowing at a local location. I have used the WorldCat in the past and have ordered books and picked them up from my local library.  I recommend that if you live in the USA, just enter your zip code to view where you can look at this book. It is even available for purchase at Barnes & Nobles and Better World Books.  I will post about WorldCat as a separate post but the link is below for now.


Best of luck in your search!


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What To Do With Your DNA Test Kit And How To Understand It?

So now that you've had your DNA tested for genealogical purposes, what to do with it? One of the best free tools online that I've come across is GEDMatch.

GEDMatch is a website that allows you to upload your DNA file, analyze it further, and provides an ability to find genetic DNA cousins who tested with other DNA companies. The website is full of great features and options.

So if you tested with AncestryDNA, 23andMe (personally don't recommend health report option),  FamilyTreeDNA, and WeeGene, you can download or use one of GEDMatch's automation tools (depending on testing company) to transfer data.  They provide you with great instructions on what steps you need to take.

I recommend that if you're new to DNA testing, that you read their Beginner's Guide which will be a menu option on the screen after logging in. The website also provides a forum and wiki pages; so plenty of support.

There is also many Facebook groups for those of you on Facebook.  Just use search and you'll be surprised to uncover how many groups are out there willing to help.  I previously posted about them in a prior post and the list is provided below. There are many more beyond what I listed below so you are not alone in this. 💛 💜

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DNAAfricans/ (researching your African ancestry)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ALLGeneticGenealogy (a good friend, Kelly, runs this group, very welcoming)  - she also has a wonderful blog with lessons on DNA, VERY easy to follow.


I have posted in my blog about DNA testing but at the time it was directed to Puerto Ricans and Dominicans.  However I highly recommend it to EVERYONE!  If you're from the Caribbean, you'll be surprised how many others have taken the plunge.

I encourage that you have your eldest relatives tested first.  Tests consist of spitting into a tube or swabbing of the cheek.  Before spitting into the tube, I recommend scratching your cheek gently with your teeth, swishing around saliva to get the it into the saliva and spit; yes sounds nasty but works.  You should not eat, drink or smoke for at least one hour before spitting as it can ruin the test and require retesting.


23andMe Test Results
So far I have tested with AncestryDNA and 23andMe.  I originally tested with 23andMe years ago before Ancestry offered DNA testing but also had it done there.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover many cousins on the same path with me. I have always called myself a human mutt since a kid because I knew my family was a rainbow of colors; my DNA simply confirmed it. Below I'm providing a view of the breakdown of my 23andMe test results.
DNA Results from 23andMe

All companies have their plus and minus.  If you're of African descent, I recommend AncestryDNA and then 23andMe.  The reason in that order is that Ancestry has the largest number of DNA testers with well over 3 million people as 23andMe doesn't provide that much.  However if budgets are tight then skip on 23andMe and go for GEDMatch.  You'll discover cousins there and many tools to analyze.

GEDMatch also provides a Lazarus tool; creation of tool kits of parents/grandparents without them testing; example they're deceased.  I recommend you read up on it to understand how it works. ($10 monthly fee needed to access)