Photos from family

I have not posted in a while, I’ve been crazy busy with work lately. But some updates are in order…

I am currently working in ProGen, a 12 month online study program working through the Professional Genealogy textbook. It’s like a college course on becoming a professional genealogist. I am in the group ProGen 37 as this is the 37th class that has worked through the book. So far, it is fascinating to learn about other people and what they are up to and what their goals are. This next month we will get busy with some research techniques. So glad I’m doing this!

I met with some cousins down south in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. I’ll keep them private as I didn’t ask permission to tell the public their names. They provided me with some photos from their personal collection, and I can scan them all and return the photos at a later date! When I do, I plan on including a burned CD or a USB jump drive of all the photos in a digital copy for them. That’s just a thank you to them for borrowing the photos for scanning. Some of these photos include my dad when he was a tiny tot more than 70 years ago! And photos of ancestors that died more than 100 years ago.

These cousins are technically my 2nd cousins, their mom and my dad are 1st cousins.

Building a home server to store all the photos and docs I have for genealogy, as well as all the personal and business stuff I have. That has been taking some time also. But so glad I have a home server. Extra storage for digital files, automatic backup of my wife’s and my own personal PCs, it’s great. Personal research has had to go on the back burner for now as life takes over. But I will return soon, including the photo scanning I’ve already started!

All for now, greetings to all.

Mark Cross

Mary Elliott delayed birth certificate; info about father

I got crazy busy with a job project unrelated to genealogy and have been unable to write a post for a while. I did want to provide an update on something, however.

The delayed birth certificate for Mary Elliott did provide some information about her father; it turns out his occupation was listed as a Deputy Marshal. This means records may be available, as he was an employee of the US Federal Government.

I made an inquiry, which was forwarded to the National Personnel Records Center (Civilian Personnel Records) in Valmeyer, Illinois. I recently got a response from them, which informed me that their location does not have early 1900s Civilian Records. My request has been forward to the Military Personnel Records, Civilian Archival Section, located in St. Louis, Missouri. A reply will be made from that location.

I expect to hear from them in a few weeks, and will report findings here when I hear from them.

I have no idea if records will be found, or what information will be in those records if located. It’s new territory for me. I’ll post results here when I have a response.

Delayed Birth Certificate update — sealed records?

I wrote a post here a few days ago regarding my great grandmother’s delayed birth certificate. Mary Elizabeth Elliott was born in 1909, and the State of Kansas did not record birth certificates until 1911. She filed for a delayed birth certificate, which requires affidavits to be submitted as evidence to prove the birth facts stated on the delayed birth certificate.

I was curious if those affidavits are available to me, as part of my genealogy research, and sent an email to the State of Kansas.

Here is their official reply:

Kansas is a closed record state, so those are now sealed records. It would take a court order for us to release any documents we have relating to the filing of the Delayed Birth Certificate.

Wow. This is unbelievably frustrating. I do not understand why the government people are making it more difficult to do genealogy research. This is my great grandmother, and I cannot find out more about her?

I understand the concern for identity theft. I also understand, to a certain extent, privacy for cases of adoption. This is not an adoption.

Let’s look closer at this particular case. The child in question was born in 1909. She filed for a delayed birth certificate in 1944. Her mother died in 1939, so no affidavit could be filed by the mother. Her father, born in 1881, who she was likely not in contact with, could have been deceased at that time, but certainly is deceased by now. The affidavits were submitted by the child’s grandparents (Albert William Jones, 1862-1946 & Josephine Rebekah Wilson, 1876-1951) who are certainly deceased by now as well. We are talking about my great grandmother, and my 3rd great grandparents. Everyone involved is now dead. Why are the records sealed if everyone is dead? It makes no sense to me.

Adoption (not this case) and identity theft is one thing, but this is unbelievably frustrating. What is the logic behind the law of sealing the documents?

Well, consider the complaint filed. I can’t do anything about it now. I urge anyone who works in a government office to consider the laws they pass and the effect those laws will have on people. There are documents available, sources that have information that may help me identify and learn more about my 2nd great grandfather, but I have no access to those records. Because those records are sealed. It takes a court order to get access to those records.

Wow. That’s a brick wall.

Mary Ann French, Research Report by a professional

I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) 2018. One of the sessions was taught by Diana Elder, AG and she used an example with a case study of Mary Ann French. The surname French is very familiar to me, as the French family are my ancestors! It turns out Mary Ann French is my 6th great aunt on my father’s side. She is the daughter of James French. Diana Elder’s husband is descended from Mary Ann French, and I am descended from Mary Ann’s brother, Thomas French. This makes James French, father of both Mary Ann and Thomas, my 6th great grandfather.

French leads down to Mary Ellen French, who married John David Ray; these are the parents of Sarah Catherine Ray, who is the mother of Virginia Vessels. The French family is one of many of the Catholic clans who moved from Maryland to Kentucky in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Diana Elder, AG is an Accredited Genealogist. She did a full research report to prove the father of Mary Ann French. Her research report was the example in her class session of how to write a research report, which I attended at SLIG 2018.

A research report is something a professional genealogist will write up for their client. In Diana’s case, it was a report she wrote for her husband’s ancestors, and if I remember correctly she used it as part of her Accreditation to become an Accredited Genealogist. Many also recommend writing a research report for many research questions that come up in one’s own family tree. In other words, to prove my logic and reasoning on why I say this person is the child of that person, a research report is recommended, so that future generations do not repeat my research, and also have access to the sources I cite in my family tree and in my research reports.

I got permission from Diana Elder to provide a link to her website, so that you can also view her professional Research Report.

Her home page on her website is at family locket.  Her services as a Professional Genealogist are at the link here. And if you scroll on down, you will see a link to the Mary Ann French Bryan Atwood research report as a PDF file.

If you are curious about what a research report looks like, read this PDF report. She provides sources that back up her research. Of course, she’s already done some excellent research, and I can use those same sources for my own research, which proves some facts I did not already have. I am grateful for Diana Elder’s research, and with her permission I provide a link to her research report in this post.

I have not yet really written a full research report for any of my ancestors. I will most definitely do so in the future. When I work through the ProGen online study group, mentioned earlier in this blog, I will do at least one research report. Also, should I choose to become a Certified Genealogist in the future, I will need to write more than one research report to achieve that accreditation.

If anyone is confused by some of the alphabet soup, let me clarify that an AG is an Accredited Genealogist, and a CG is a Certified Genealogist, two of the common ways to become “licensed” as it were to be a Professional in the field of Genealogy.

Read Diana’s report, and enjoy! I endeavor to write some reports myself in the future.

Delayed Birth Certificate for Mary Elliott — FOUND!

I have previously written about my great grandmother, Mary Elliott, and the difficulty in identifying her father. I wrote a blog post here about some of the issues I was looking at.

Some people are born during a time when birth certificates were mandatory. Most modern births are in this category. This happened at different times in the US, and varied from state to state. The National Center for Biotechnology Information provides information on their website about the history of Vital Records in the US, and that Birth Certificates and Death Certificates were standardized sometime between 1915 and 1933 in all states in the union. Some states were compliant with Federal law before 1915. The State of Kansas confirms on their website that Birth Certificates were being filed starting on July 1, 1911.

My great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Elliott, was born on February 2, 1909 in Kansas. The State of Kansas started keeping records for Birth Certificates after that date, on July 1, 1911. So, it seems there is no record for her birth.

But…not so fast.

What about a “Delayed Birth Certificate” in genealogy? What is it? Genealogy Today has information about a Delayed Birth Certificate. Basically, a person who has no Birth Certificate because they were born before the records were kept can file for a Delayed Birth Certificate with the state they were born in. They may need a Birth Certificate for a Social Security Card, a Driver’s License, or some other reason. The State would not just take a person’s word for it; after all, the person in question does not remember their own birth! So, some sort of records were needed to prove the facts that are recorded in a Birth Certificate, often affidavits from people that were present at the birth, and other evidence.

I requested a Delayed Birth Certificate for my great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Elliott, not knowing if a record would be found or not. Today, the found record was in my mailbox from the State of Kansas!

The bottom portion of the Delayed Certificate of Birth includes “Abstract of Evidence” and indicates the proof the State required to issue this Delayed Birth Certificate. In this case, it includes an affidavit of her grandmother, Rebecca A. Jones, an affidavit of her grandfather, Albert W. Jones, which means they both swore that they remember when Mary was born, and it was on this date in this location, and the names of the parents. Also, a Marriage License showing her at the age of 16 when she herself got married, and a Birth Certificate of her daughter (my grandmother), born in 1925 and showing the age of the mother (Mary Elliott) at age 16 at the time of her child’s birth. In other words, one Birth Certificate (my grandmother) was part of the evidence used to prove the facts for a Delayed Birth Certificate (my great grandmother). This is fascinating, and I already have the Marriage License and the Birth Record of her daughter.

Delayed Birth Certificate below.


Some notable facts on this Delayed Birth Certificate include: confirms date of birth as February 2, 1909; confirms place of birth as the city of Iuka, in the County of Pratt, Kansas; and identifies her father as David Joseph Elliott.

The real challenge is finding more information about her father. I already had her father’s name on other documents, but this tells me more about him. David Joseph Elliott was 28 years old at the time of Mary’s birth, placing his year of birth in approximately 1881, and his place of birth in Texas. We also learn, for the first time, that his occupation was Deputy Marshal. This is great information, because there may be other records about him with this occupation!

A US Deputy Marshal has records. If he arrested a criminal or testified at the criminal’s trial, he will be in those records. He may appear in newspaper articles (although I’ve had no luck in that department so far, but now can add the keyword Marshal to the search). Also, the US Marshal’s Office kept records on their Deputies, and these records are at the National Archives. I get to find more records!

This is a great find! It does provide more clues to do more research. When I find more, I will post it here!

Why Am I Neanderthal?

This is a continuation of the story about Denisovans. The question is, why would today’s humans have any Neanderthal DNA in their genes?

Well, an online article by National Geographic explains more about the Neanderthal in the DNA query…and talks a little about Denisovans as well.

But NPR also has a story

And so does Gizmodo

And even Slate magazine.

So, science keeps learning more. Or at least I do.

the mystery ‘Denisovan’ people


Well, DNA is unravelling some odd information.

I know some DNA tests indicate a small percentage of Neanderthal in modern people. What? Neanderthal? Are you kidding? Maybe that’s why I refuse to be vegetarian…I just love meat! ha ha! That’s what I said in an email to my sister, who asked about this.

So, I got together with people that know more than me and asked around. There are two basic answers that I got from experts. First of all, that Neanderthal DNA is claimed from one company, and not all companies or DNA experts agree. So take it with a grain of salt. It may mean nothing. Some call it just a theory. (In other words, they don’t know.) But anthropologists argue we DO have Neanderthal in us. At least, some of us do. So, it is true that modern humans and Neanderthal mated many years ago.

Well, even if it is true…OK, here was my question…If we get 50% of our DNA from each parent, and 25% from each grandparent, and 12.5% from each great grandparent…you get the idea. In just a handful of generations, we get less than 1% from an ancestor and that’s just within the last 150 years or so. That’s the way autosomal DNA works.

Then why would Neanderthal show up with 1% when that goes back literally thousands of years? I mean, the math just doesn’t work out! I’m down to around 1% from each 4th great grandparent. An “average generation” is considered to be around 25 years, so 4th great grandparent goes back only 125-150 years. Neanderthal goes back thousands of years. The math really just doesn’t work out! Wouldn’t Neanderthal DNA be approaching zero, or even be completely washed out by now?

We modern humans are Homo Sapiens. Neanderthals were completely different. OK, we know they probably got together and interbred. In fact, anthropologists confirm this for us with science. But why would any of their DNA be in us today, thousands of years later?

It was explained to me that Neanderthal DNA and great great grandparent DNA (autosomal DNA) do not work the same. For some reason, the Neanderthal DNA from many thousands of years ago got really mixed up with our DNA, and has been passed down for thousands of years. It actually changed our DNA and stuck around. It is, what you might say…permanent. Why this happened, no one knows.

Furthermore, DNA is tricky. Some DNA, like autosomal DNA, does literally get mixed up like a deck of cards. So that’s why the percentages work out like 50, 25, 12.5 percent, etc. for autosomal DNA.

But there are other forms of DNA. Y-DNA for example, which only males have, is passed on from father to son, virtually unchanged, for hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years. Mitochondrial DNA is similar, but passed down from mother to daughter, also virtually unchanged for thousands of generations. (Mitochondrial DNA is actually passed down from a mother to all of her children, but only the daughters pass it on to their children, the sons do not pass down mitochondrial DNA to any of their children.)  So, the theory goes, if we do actually have Neanderthal DNA in us, it worked more like Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA, instead of like autosomal DNA. And so a small percentage got passed down to us, and still shows up many thousands of years later, virtually unchanged.

That’s what a few experts told me at a genealogy conference.

But then, I read stories like this on the internet news.  The headline is, our ancestors mated with the mystery ‘Denisovan’ people — twice. And furthermore, the Denisovans were unknown until 2010.

Well, suffice it to say, scientists are still making discoveries. In other words, we don’t know everything.