Update and Direction

As I said in a previous post when I started this blog it was to have a public way to share some common ancestors, family stories and photos with new cousins I’ve found. Since then my work with genealogy and genetic genealogy has blossomed and grown in several directions.
I find myself helping people within certain groups or forums, and I love spending part of my time showing others what I’ve learned.  I work less now on my own tree because I’m left after 11 years with only the mysteries that will not reveal themselves, not even with DNA. It infuriates me that I can’t get any further, but I’m hoping eventually the right cousin will test and one of the great mysteries will be solved. (Elias Goddard and Mystery Elizabeth #1 and #2 I’m talking to you!!).

As I also said in that previous post, this journey of learning who my ancestors were has  become more and more a spiritual one. And that continues to deepen for me.  Even more so now I believe that the more we know and understand our ancestors, the more we know ourselves.
And I’ve found kindred spirits in that thinking.  Daniel Foor, PhD has written a book called Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing a book that takes learning about yourself and your ancestors to a deeper level.  No this is not some “woo-woo” new-agey stuff, this is real and practical. Foor is a doctor of psychology and licensed marriage and family therapist, who has studied with several different cultures that still have active ancestor practices. Dr. Foor has gone on to train others in these practices, and they are now teaching and working with people on line and in person all over the country. And his online course has been a deep dive into this work that I find invaluable to my own journey.
So I will be continuing the work I started with him. It’s definitely a beautiful way to connect with Ancestors.

As I learn and grow as an amateur genealogist/genetic genealogist and help others, I’ve started to have a lot of people tell me I should teach.  I’m not sure I’m ready (or terribly qualified) to teach to the general public, but especially for those doing “Ancestral Medicine” work, I might just do that.  I’m in the process of creating a course (although it’s going to take a lot longer than I thought) that speaks to the basics for people who are doing that sort of work.

One other direction that I hope to take this blog and my course in, is to help, or at least shine light where I can, on the “white-washing” and downright racism within genealogy. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The more I realize which of my ancestors were not classified as “white” the more I see how much some people and even paperwork totally denies anything but whiteness and privilege in American genealogy.
More and more we need to face some hard facts about Americans and their DNA and paper trails. Many, if not most of us in the US are mixed ethnically. If you can’t handle that, you are either in deep denial or very, very white, which is very, very RARE in America. If all 64 of your 4th great grandparents have stellar genealogy records dating back to the 1400’s then congratulations, you’re white as hell. But most of you won’t be.

DNA shows things what people would rather hide and I’ve already run into a multitude of ridiculous excuses why the DNA is wrong.  And paperwork can be tweaked, certain facts excluded to deny the ethnicity of people. After a while you begin to see patterns in genealogy work. And yes, there  are those out there trying to destroy those indications of non-whiteness. They lie, they change facts and they may even do this for profit-because they are selling books. It happens.
So anywhere that I can attempt to learn about People of Color and the obstacles they face in trying to research their ancestors, or help with ethnicity reports that really do show our ancestors ethnicities, I will be doing as much as I can to point out that People of Color really do exist historically and their descendants have as much right to know their true histories as anyone else.
For full disclosure, no, I don’t know all of the variety of historical experiences of other cultures/peoples. Yes, I am identified by others as “white”, and yes, that comes with privilege. I believe that just as being much more aware of anything that falls outside of rich, wealthy and white is the focus of our future in politics, it will also inform the way we think about history, genealogy and ourselves. To put it bluntly, when someone who identifies as white finds out they’re not so much, it changes the way they see and treat others. And I’m very passionate about helping with that where I can. This is part of how we get rid of racism.

Yes, ultimately I may find a few naysayers on my new directions, and you may find this blog is not for you. If that’s the case, no problem. To me taking my journey to these other levels and in these new directions has been a gift-a way to reconnect with the people who make up my blood and bone. A way to heal the injustices of history and to move forward, knowing the truth of our history and who we are.



I just learned about a big conference in Salt Lake City UT called Rootstech, and while I’d love to go, giant rooms full of people are not my thing, SO you can attend from home!

Here are a couple of links on how to watch some of the content including Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s keynote.

Family History Fanatics “RootsTech Streaming Schedule and How to Plan Ahead” and Family Search’s blogpost on “How to Participate Virtually”.

And if you really want to get in the flow and chat with others during the livestream, use #NotAtRootsTech on Twitter.   See you in cyberspace!

Naming Conventions

Sometimes in doing genealogy research it helps to know what you’re looking for in a family line. Names, and the patterns in naming for one.
In some societies there were rather strict rules as to how one named one’s children.
Some of these were drastically different than what you find in America today.
Knowing about these can be a great help in identifying who matches who, but can also be confusing, like when siblings name their children after each other. If you have 8 children having 8 children, that’s 9 people in one three-generation family with the same name!
I’ve gathered together some links from other places on different groups and their naming conventions. Click the links for more details.

Mostly today in the US you find First name, Middle Name (maybe two) and Surname-meaning the last name of your father. Sometimes a Mother’s surname hyphenated with a father’s. 

But in days gone by, things were different in different places.

In Germany, there would be sometimes 3-4 middle names, many times the first name for all of the sons would be the same and they would call them by one of their middle names. 
 18th Century PA German Naming Customs
18th Century PA German Nicknames

In Mexico, frequently people went by both the mother’s and father’s surnames, but it’s complicated. While most present-day names are taken from the parents’ surnames, historically the surnames might have been those of a more notable family member, or even grandparents. See this link for more details.

The UK

The Scottish, especially those in America, would use the wife’s maiden name, or her mother’s maiden name as a child’s middle name, which can be a great help if you can recognize it.
Traditional Irish Naming Patterns

Naming conventions in Ethiopia and Eritrea

 Naming Patterns
Another link to Norwegian Naming info

Scandinavian in general

Icelandic names

The Laws of Jewish Names

Chinese naming conventions

Russian Naming (PDF)

Eastern Europe
Eastern Slavic Naming Customs
Hungarian Personal Names

Native American Tribes
Please bear in mind “Native American” is not one thing, not one tribe or culture, but MANY. So each tribe may have specific naming traditions.
General Info
Northern Plains
Navajo & Sioux

If I didn’t cover it here, you can pretty much just Google _____ naming conventions