Can I get your number?

I’m a numbers guy. I like to know how I’m doing against my goals and track statistics to see trends. I have an app on my iPhone that tells me how many cigarettes I haven’t smoked since I quit 6 months ago (3500-ish) and how much money I can redirect into my genealogy habit as a result (about $1000!!). I have apps to track my weight, my money, etc… It’s probably one of those things that has bled over into my personal life from work where “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. There’s something Pavlovian about it for me.

The one area that was for the most part safe from statistics was genealogy, until I read Crista Cowen’s “What’s Your Number?” post. I mean, I know about how many people are in my tree (5070 as of today), but that doesn’t really say anything about how I’m “doing”. What does that even mean in this context? I’m not doing any of this just to collect a bunch of names and dates. I want to know who I come from and where they came from, so I can go there and walk where they walked and hopefully eat some delicious desserts (to immerse myself in the experience, of course). But, I like this statistic, lets check it out.

As Crista outlines, in 10 generations each of us has 1,022 direct-line ancestors. Count up how many you have documented in each generation, add ‘em up and divide by 1022 to get your percentage. So how am I doing?

Not too bad, 10.6% overall. On my maternal grandmothers’ line I can’t get past my great-great grandparents (yet) so that takes quite a few possibles out very quickly. Fortunately, my paternal grandmothers’ family have been in America for around 300 years and left a nice document trail. The great thing is I now have a renewed focus and motivation to work on the lines that are sparse. Sometimes I get caught up in peripheral lines (making the tree wider, rather than deeper), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this is a number I’ll keep looking to improve.

Out of curiosity, I ran the numbers for my wife’s line and it came out slightly better at 12%. Her paternal French-Canadian lines are fairly well documented (Berube and Michaud). Her maternal lines are more recent (mid-to-late 1800’s) Irish immigrants, thus a little harder to track down.

I’d also highly recommend reading The Legal Genealogist’s entertaining blog post “More lost than found” on this same topic. So, what’s your number?

Source: Crista Cowan, “Family History All Done? What’s Your Number?,” Ancestry.com Blog, posted 16 Aug 2012 (http://blogs.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Aug 2012).

Workday Wednesday – New England Forestry Co

Around 1908, my great grandfather Julius (Jules) Frost started a Forestry business.

In 1914, the business was advertised in the Bridgeport Connecticut Directory and several photographs were added to the family photo album.

Fred Frost, spraying trees – June 1914


Jules brother Fred was involved in the Forestry business as well. He later became a plumber.

Joe Metzger, Geo Palmer, Ed Judd. 1914


Assuming that these guys worked for the company.

Edward Benham – June 1914
Spraying Machine, Stratford, CT

Jules Frost’s moving company

By 1925, Jules had moved to the Bronx and in the New York census that year he listed his occupation as “Piano Company”. He was likely moving Pianos, as he eventually owned a moving company for many years.

Tech Tuesday – DNA Test Results, Update

Cousin found! Well, technically he wasn’t lost as we had connected via Ancestry.com trees several months ago, but it’s nice to have the documented relationship backed up by DNA results.

Chris and I are 4th cousins, via the O’Brien family of Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. Here’s how AncestryDNA presents a match when a common ancestor can be identified. They could have picked either 3rd great-grandparent, Patrick O’Brien or Bridget O’Hare. I think the system is very precise when it comes to names, dates and locations. It does not seem to accomodate for alternate spellings, abbreviations or common date modifiers (like circa or about) like the Ancestry search engine does.

My 2nd great-grandfather Patrick J. O’Brien was born in 1848 in Tuam (pronounced choom) and came to America around the late 1860’s. In August of 1874, he and Ellen Ryan (1846-1934) were married in Portland, Maine. They lived in Rochester, NH and had four daughters: Katherine (1876-1956), Bernice (1879-1948), Mary (1881-1972) and Sara (1883-1900).

I’m seeing a lot more potential matches on the AncestryDNA Member Match page now, averaging about 10-15 new matches every 7 days. Each match is shown with several pieces of information: possible relationship range and a confidence level. Interesting to note that Chris was shown as a possible range 5th-8th cousin and a “Low” confidence level on page 3 of my matches, so it took me a while to even notice that he was listed. I have six people listed as 95%+ confidence, 4th-6th cousins, 3 of which have trees that are public, yet unfortunately no obvious connection. Interesting leads though, lots of Virginia/North Carolina families but all of my people are from New England, maybe an unknown sibling went south at some point? I’ll just have to keep digging.