Hurricane Harvey Update and Helping Houston

Our best wishes to our friends in Houston, and now Louisiana!
Let’s do what we can to help! #Harvey

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

I had another DNA article ready for my normal mid-week technical DNA publication, but given the suffering taking place in Texas right now, I just can’t.

The rains continue. The hurricane is now partially out to sea in the Gulf and may make landfall again. God help these people.

If Harvey isn’t yet, it may well be the most devastating natural disaster to ever strike in the continental US. Harvey has already dumped 9 trillion gallons of water on southeast Texas, and Harvey isn’t done yet. Yes, 9 TRILLION.

A Washington Post article says if Houston hits the 60 inches of rain mark, and they are close now, it will be a once in a million year event.

Sixty inches is 5 feet of rain, within a few days time. There just isn’t anyplace for the water to go. Two levies were breached today and a dam overflowed. And it’s still…

View original post 1,191 more words

Crime-Fighting Trio Uncovered on Ancestry

Kopp sisters with guns
Illustration borrowed from (

Most people go to looking for their own families.Or like me, you might be distracted by others with your surname and get sucked into  doing a One-Name  Study. And then there’s the situation  that author Amy Stewart found herself  in, researching and writing a novel about Constance Kopp just because the story was so intriguing. Kopp, who became one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs, lived with her sisters in the country outside Patterson, New Jersey. The sisters learned  to shoot guns to protect themselves from a local bad guy.

This has nothing to do with my family, my  surname, or even Hungarian  genealogy, my usual passion. But I read the book, and the next book, and if you love a good story so should you.

But first, check out the back story of how Amy researched these  fascinating crime-fighting sisters.

Just goes to show, you never know where genealogy research will lead you.

Lexical Distance Among the Languages of Europe

Hungarians have always been on the edge.


Lexical Distance Network Among the Major Languages of Europe

This chart shows the lexical distance — that is, the degree of overall vocabulary divergence — among the major languages of Europe.

The size of each circle represents the number of speakers for that language. Circles of the same color belong to the same language group. All the groups except for Finno-Ugric (in yellow) are in turn members of the Indo-European language family.

English is a member of the Germanic group (blue) within the Indo-European family. But thanks to 1066, William of Normandy, and all that, about 75% of the modern English vocabulary comes from French and Latin (ie the Romance languages, in orange) rather than Germanic sources. As a result, English (a Germanic language) and French (a Romance language) are actually closer to each other in lexical terms than Romanian (a Romance language) and French.

So why is English still considered a Germanic language? Two reasons. First, the most frequently used 80%…

View original post 77 more words

One Name – All the Way!

ons-tng-home-pageHere’s my 1st anniversary update from my One Name society experience.
Last year I joined the Guild of One Name Studies and then spent some months lurking around to get a feel for what it was all about. Turns out there are plenty of genealogists asking similar questions to mine. Where did my surname come from and when and why? Are the people with my surname related to me? Where have they lived and where are they now?
I tried to deny my one-name fascination for a while and tried to focus on the projects that I said I would be working on. But to no avail. A couple of months ago I bit the bullet and committed to a one name study of the Édes surname. Doing a one-name study implies the commitment to study your selected surname anywhere in the world that it exists. And that of course is where one of the big challenges come in. I have the documentation to support the contention that my Édes family line started in what was then Royal Hungary, today south-western Slovakia. My ancestors escaped from a sticky situation in Transylvania to their new home in the 1680s. To protect their innocence they changed their name from Ede to Édes, which in Hungarian are not as similar as they look. They were granted nobility by Hapsburg emperor Ferdinand III and thenceforth were known as the Noble Édes family from Madar, their new hometown.
When anglicized the surname Édes looks just like the English surname Edes which is of totally different origin. The Guild was started, without diacritics, in England and most of the members projects are for surnames from the British Isles.
Since I have no study partners I am acknowledging that problem in my project profile and welcome any research on English Edes families.

I am now starting up a new website for housing my various Édes family lines. There are about a dozen identified so far, although the trees wont be ready to post for a while longer. I have started a blog for stories of interest about Édes or Edes notables. And I am working to coordinate the various websites to create some consistency in presentation.

In the process I continue to learn more about Hungarian geography and history. And I’m finding more friends that might prove to be related.

I expect to continue to be busy in the new year.


twin dollsI Found Twins!

While working on a story about my great-grandfather Zsigmond Edes I rechecked the birth index from Vukovar where he was born. I stumbled upon an index reference to twin sisters, Rosina and Anna, which I had not noticed earlier.

Spelling variations are a common problem in genealogy research and so is the challenge of deciphering century old handwriting. Edes is a simple name but it can look like Eles, Eder and even Ecles. I followed the reference and found that the twins were indeed baby sisters of Zsigmond.

My initial reaction was delight. My mother had always been fascinated with twins. She dressed me and my year older sister in identical clothes often, and she admitted to a bit of jealousy when her brother’s wife gave birth to twin girls. But before doing my genealogy happy dance a sobering thought occurred to me. I looked more closely at the Latin notes in the birth record.  After their names were the words gemelli (twins) and posthumi (after death). My own family records confirmed the sad fact. The twins were born two months after their father died in 1865 from a pulmonary edema.

EDES Rosina and Anna crop 1866


This wasn’t the first loss for young Zsigmond’s mother, Julianna Vill. Her first husband János Mészáros died of typhus in several months prior to the birth of their son János junior in May 1857. A year later Julianna married my 2nd great grandfather Zsigmond Sr. I already knew of the 3 children born during the short marriage of Julianna and Zsigmond. Now there were 2 more girls to add to my family records. It was a cruel irony that she lost 2 husbands before their children were born. When the twins were born Julianna was barely 30 years old and became a single mother now with 6 children under 10 years old.

Two of her children died in the childhood but we believe Anna outlived her mother. She must have been a comfort for her mother who lost so much in her life.

How many genetic ancestors do I have?

Which ancestors does your DNA come from? An interesting article from UC Davis Genetics department about DNA inheritance.


In my last couple of posts I talked about how much of your (autosomal) genome you inherit from a particular ancestor [1,2]. In the chart below I show a family tree radiating out from one individual. Each successive layer out shows an individual’s ancestors another generation back in time, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on back (red for female, blue for male).

Each generation back your number of ancestors double, until you are descended from so many people (e.g. 20 generation back you potentially have 1 million ancestor) that it is
quite likely that some people back then are your ancestors multiple times over. How quickly then does your number of genetic ancestors grow, i.e. those ancestors who contributed genetic material to you?

Each generation we go back is expected to halve the amount of autosomal genetic material an ancestor gives to you. As this material…

View original post 893 more words

Not so new – New Year’s Resolutions

Fireworks 2016 bIn typical fashion, it’s almost February and I am finally getting around to my New Year’s resolutions. Well, I bet some of you out there who made your resolutions in a more timely fashion have already fallen off the proverbial wagons. So perhaps I’m ahead of the game.

Here are my New and Improved resolutions for 2016;

  • Develop an organizational strategy that works for me
  • Focus my search for DNA matches
  • Get back to writing about my family history
  • Write about the process of genealogy research in Eastern Europe


Of course, I did not accomplish everything I planned to do last year. But I have made some progress and revisions in my approach to research. My resolutions for 2015 were;

  • Organize my research by following the Genealogy Do-Over plan
  • See what I could learn from DNA
  • Continue writing about my family historyFireworks 2015 b

I planned to follow Thomas McEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over plan to redo my genealogy research the right way. Well that lasted a couple of weeks. I may have learned something from the experience however. I am not sufficiently disciplined to stick to my to-do list. I am not going to stop chasing BSOs. But I am doing better at documenting what I learned from the BSO detours.

I am still trying to find a format for a genealogy research log that will work for me. McEntee recommends a formatted Excel spreadsheet. Geoff Rasmussen from Legacy Family Tree webinars uses an MS Word document and then copies his research notes to the general notes section in the Legacy periodically. I have always written notes in a spiral notebook so I have a record of what I have done but it isn’t very accessible. I review the notebooks periodically and sometimes find things that I didn’t see the first time through.

Today I started with Notebook 1 reviewing my notes and adding To-Do items into Legacy. This way I can actually find the To-Do items by ancestor or location.

The really big thing for me in 2015 was getting deep into DNA. I confirmed a family story from the 17th century and found some very distant relatives in the process. I will write more about that later.

I was surprised to find that I actually had some DNA matches. However they are all pretty distant and I have yet to find a common ancestor for any of my matches. Instead, I have refocused on traditional genealogy research to fill out more of my family tree so that someday I may hit the ancestor jackpot.

I have my work cut out for me, so I had better get back to it.

Here’s wishing you a Happy 2016, and may all your genealogy dreams come true!

Version 6 of Charting Companion adds Fractal Trees and a Dandelion Chart

Looks like a charting tool I need to try!

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Progeny Genealogy is well-known for software that produces some of the most advanced and visually pleasing genealogy charts. The company’s Charting Companion allows anyone to produce charts for personal use or to share your research with friends & relatives. Now the company has released Version 6 with two great new charts.

Quoting from the Progeny Genealogy web site at

The Fractal Tree

The Fractal Tree is an entirely new way to display your Ancestors. The Fractal Tree is more compact than other charts. A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. A fractal is a self-similar geometric shape; each part of the shape is the same as the whole.

View original post 462 more words

Bright Shiny Objects !!

I confess I have not been keeping up with assignments on my Genealogy Do-Over. I have succumbed to the common genealogy temptation of chasing BSOs (bright shiny objects).

mylar balloons 2

After I got  my atDNA results I just had to pursue the  intriguing mystery of my British Isles ethnic makeup.  And the excitement of ‘meeting’  my closest matches.

I exchanged emails with the son of a gentleman from Transylvania who seems to be related to my GGG-grandmother. Then a delightful correspondence with my 2nd match. We scoured our extensive family trees and have not been able to find any clues about our common ancestor. I guess that will have to wait until other common matches show up.

Having been bitten by the DNA bug, I couldn’t resist chasing more distant matches up the hills and down the dales of GedMatch and Family Search. When I finally got a hold of myself I realized that I was running around in circles. Time to get back to Do-Over basics.

I made a spreadsheet fashioned after the Do-Over research log, but adapted to DNA-BSO chasing. If I can’t stop following those irresistible shiny things, at least I will document what I’m doing. And when I come back later I can see what I have learned.  Perhaps one lesson from the Do-Over has had some impact on me.

So the score today is;

BSOs – 1

Me – 1

I call that a good day!