Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Genealogy Conference....

In 2005, Wholly Genes, the software company that Bill used for his genealogy program offered a package deal...  a cruise to ports in the Caribbean with genealogy workshops held during days at sea.  That began our "cruise life", and each year thereafter, the company continued to offer the same kind of deal...  only the itinerary would vary as well as the speakers for the workshops.  We went each year and Bill (I wasn't really into genealogy at that time) would hear guest speakers like Tony Burroughs, Judy Russell, Elizabeth Shown Mills, and the such.  We went on several cruises in the Caribbean, some to the Mexican Riviera, once to New England, once to Alaska and once to Puerto Rico.  

The Wholly Genes company went out of business and Craig Scott, of Heritage Books, took over the conference and cruise arrangements last year.  One of the changes he made was to hold the conference on a 10 day cruise, allowing for 4 days at sea.  Another change he made was to have a main focus for the workshops.

 This year the focus was on DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)
 and how it is used in genealogical research.

All participants (somewhere between 40 and 50 people) were given a syllabus of the speaker's presentation.  I just counted the pages...  66 individual... with both sides being used...   The speakers were Angie Bush, CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger...  all experts at understanding and interpreting DNA testing.

 A very blurry photo of Cece Moore and Blaine Bettinger
Cece does research for the TV show "Finding Your Roots", which tracks the ancestry of famous people.

There were 4 days at sea, with 5 hours of workshops on each of those days.....  20 hours in all.
I'm not too concerned that this page isn't very clear...  believe me, these lectures were well above my head.  

There are 3 major companies now testing for DNA, and some share a data bank where you can further your research.  Bill submitted a DNA sample in 2005 hoping that he'd find other folks doing research on his families.  Now there are over 2 million people who have been tested and are on record.  But so far Bill hasn't had any close matches.

Nearly all the chairs were filled with eager listeners...

There are 3 types of testing types...  Y-DNA, which is the male chromosome; mtDNA, which is passed from a mother to all her children; and atDNA (or autosomal), which can be taken by both males and females.

My brother was gracious enough to provide his DNA for a Y-DNA test - he is the only direct male descendant on my father's side of the family.  He got a very close match, but so far I've not got answers from my attempts at corresponding with this match.  (to test you only have to swab saliva from your mouth)

An example of a comparison of the results of a test.
These are actually in color...  one color will show what you got from your mother's side and another color for your father's side.  Interesting enough, (and not surprising) is that your DNA is made up of many generations back.  Some of it gets thinned down or lost after 5 or 6 generations.

We were given several examples of research where adoptees found their biological parents, one really sad case where two babies were given to the wrong mothers in the hospital when they were born in 1923; and a rather interesting case where a sperm donor has been found to be the father of 24 children (so far).

So ethics and legalities were also discussed as well as some of the "how to"s on reading and interpreting results.

All 3 speakers are experts in their field, yet though the material they covered was way too complicated for me to understand, I hung onto their words and tried to get as much as I could.  

If nothing else, just learning that DNA reveals things like if your ancestors were Native American, some types of Jewish, or came from western Europe, can be beneficial in locating your heritage.  This is a fairly young field, but I've no doubt this is just the beginning.

A group photo of those attending the conference.
That's Craig Scott (third from left), with Brian Bettinger next to him, CeCe Moore (next... with the long blond hair) and Angie Bush on the end at the right.

So while at sea a lot of cruise folks were lounging by the pool, playing bingo or gambling, there were 40 or so of us in a classroom - listening to great speakers talk about a great subject.

That's All For Today!


  1. What an interesting excuse for going on a cruise, I know Bill enjoys the speakers and you enjoy the cruise, keep having fun.

  2. What a fun cruise theme. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wouldn't it be a shock to find out that your parents were not your parents. Maybe sometimes it is better not to know.

  4. Not sure I could sit through five hours a day of genealogy lectures. :(

  5. It is a fascinating field. I started, but then bogged down, three years ago.

  6. Yeah, I'm not so sure that would be much interest to me. I don't even know or have contact with living relatives and rarely even get to see my own brothers. So the long dead, and relatives of mine, probably isolationists too, way back when they lived. Let the dead of my ancestors lie dead when I don't even know living family. To each his own. You are something to survive such long lectures daily on a cruise.

  7. I am amazed to learn of the different "theme" cruises. Teri informs me that there are crochet themed cruises as well!! Who knew??

  8. Fascinating! I have no interest in genealogy, knowing full well where I came from and where all my relatives are buried. My husband, on the other hand, has traced his ancestors to the Mayflower!