What’s Happening in the DNA World

Starting last Wednesday, Feb. 28th 2018 thru Saturday, March 3rd   2018, I attended RootsTech 2018, thru online streaming. RootsTech probably the largest genealogy conference in the world (I don’t know of one bigger, but someone might call me out on that.) This article is long, but it is one that I hope you will all want to read in its entirety.

According to the reports I have heard, there were 25,000 attendees, and 50,000 who watched via livestreaming. I watched over 14 hours of seminars, plus several more hours of keynote speakers, on many genealogy related subjects. I have done this now for several years. I look forward to it each year as I learn a lot of things that are very helpful in my family research.

This year I watched 4 hour long seminars on DNA testing, and then about 2 additional hours of keynote speakers, etc. on the subject of DNA testing and the future of DNA for genealogists. All of the major DNA testing companies had presentations. I watched one from each of Ancestry, Living DNA, & MyHeritage. I know there were others that I was unable to watch, as the livestreaming was limited in the number of seminars available via livestreaming.

I was blown away with how DNA testing for genealogy has grown over the last couple of decades, and I was totally blown away when I heard what is coming in the future, and that is very near being reality.

Let me give you an analogy (aware that my family says I am not very good at analogies, but here goes anyway.)

Do you all remember when Dick Tracy had that wristwatch that he could actually talk on? Then remember when he had one that had a TV screen on it? Well we have had the ability to talk into a device where ever we are at, and that is known as a cell phone. Now we have iPads, and Androids, and Skype, where we can virtually communicate, face to face, with each other anywhere in the world, in real time. All those inventions have come into existence in my life time.

Now remember Star Trek (Beam me up Scotty), or the Holodeck—It’s reality now folks. You now can buy glasses attached to a headset, where you can experience a “virtual world” where you can virtually simulate any experience you want.

So just what in the world is the next thing coming our way?

DNA folks—that’s the area on the “new innovations horizon”, right now.  We are all going to be blown away with what is actually being tested right now. In the testing world of genealogy, if you hear the term, “it’s in Betta testing”, that means its reality now, and they are just working on getting the “bugs” out of the systems before all of us can use it.

Several in this group took DNA tests back in 2005. Very little was able to be done with it, and you had to pretty much know the right people and hope that they would share the information with you. Those that took those tests back then did not have a very good experience.

I remember when Ancestry came out with the Autosomal DNA tests, and because of that the y-DNA test and the mtDNA tests have sort of gone by the wayside—but not totally. Now LivingDNA’s test is a one-stop shop which includes all three types of testing in one test. That has just occurred within the last year.

Also it was just a few short years ago that the number of people testing with Ancestry was in the thousands. Now it is in the millions. My Heritage has millions upon millions now worldwide. In this day and age, the real possibility of having a World Wide DNA Tree is not science fiction, but is very much a current reality.

And what is in the “IMMEDIATE FUTURE WILL BLOW YOUR MIND”, it did mine. Just watch this video from the founder and CEO of MyHeritage. I am putting the link here, but this video is going to be in the Legacy Family Tree Webinar Library for FREE.

But “Spoiler Alert”, near the end of the video he talks about the ability to “re-create” the DNA of our ancestors, and to create a holographic image of them. Really folks—it’s here. It has already been tested, and it works. We will be able to see their faces—eye color, hair color (receding, bald, or whatever), and a reconstructed image of the shape of their faces, including their heights and other identifying characteristics.

And “Spoiler Alert again”, for those of you, like me that have spent years chasing down the “paper trail” to prove our lineage, there is great news on the horizon—also same thing—it’s here now, it is in Betta testing—we will be presented with a virtual tree (better described as a “theory tree”, where our DNA matches we now have, along with tremendous advances in digitizing records from around the world, and along with new technologies with the online trees(documented trees), will be able to give us a “theory” of what our tree really is, so we can know exactly where the documents are that we need get to “prove” our tree.

That was a long sentence, and I may have not explained it very well, so just watch this video. Folks we are in for mind-boggling new innovations in our genealogy quest for knowing our ancestors.

Personally I can’t wait to break down my brick walls, and from what I saw at the RootsTech conference, this is going to be a couple great years for genealogy coming up.


What do I have on My Genealogy Shelves

Part of the “process” of getting back to the basics* is to determine what I actually have on my shelves. I watched a Legacy Tree Webinar presented by Shannon Combs-Bennett on January 11, 2017 titled “Tips and Tricks to Organizing Your Genealogy” and this was one of the Tips. So I decided to take it to heart and created a plan, based on her webinar, to begin my “back to the basics” organizational plan.

One of the first tips is to Take an Inventory. So here is what I did. I hope it helps you if you are going to organize you genealogy materials. This first question to consider is to determine “What do you have?” Here is my answer.

  • Documents—type and quantity

                 Over the years, I have moved so many times, where I had to box things up and then find a new place to place it. In doing that, my filing systems have collapsed, changed, and papers are lost in boxes where I still have no idea where they are.Included in that problem is the fact that I inherited a large quantity of boxes of genealogy material from my mother, which many boxes of I have just glanced at what was in it but not dealt with it in a productive way. The current goal is to find all genealogy material that I own (or inherited) and get it into a useful organization, that can be accessed at a moment’s notice.

  • Digital items—type

                Photos—I have thousands of photos on my hard drive. Quite a few are genealogy related and a lot not. The system I have is totally inadequate, and convoluted. In addition, for whatever reason many are duplicated several times, which is a waste of space. To find a particular photo, it sometimes take me 5 to 10 minutes to find one, and sometimes I give up and have to come back later to try again. My systems must be overhauled totally.

  • Heirlooms—don’t forget to record the provenance of those heirlooms.

                 I do not have a lot, but what I do have, I need to write up a paragraph or two about the provenance, how I came to have it, and what history there is about it, and who should get it when I pass away. This also includes any keepsakes I have accumulated, especially my own keepsakes from my childhood etc.

  • Books

                 I have three kinds of genealogy related books:

                #1. Reference books, about how to do genealogy; 

                #2. Collection of books written by others, about my ancestral history, as well as family trees published or unpublished;  

                #3. Books, pamphlets, DVD’s, etc. that I have written about my family history.

* See my previous post under Swisher Research to see how  I began to implement this inventory.

Back to the Basics

So my goal this year is to go “back to the basics” in doing Swisher research. So how do you do that?

First, you have to get organized. Not just once, but again, and again, and again. That’s what I have tried to do over the years, but just never got it done. Of course we all know to do that, but it is one of the hardest “new year’s resolution” to keep.

But I did it. Here is my genealogy organization “Master Plan.”


Second, you have to find what you already have. That has been a problem for a long time, but last year it became rather frustrating. I was spending a lot of valuable time trying to find items I knew I had but couldn’t put my hands on them.

Finally I am getting my genealogy “stuff” organized. Here is a photo of part of my Genealogy Bookshelf.

This portion of my bookshelf holds approximately 90+ books, or notebooks full of genealogy items. A few are reference books, but most are notebooks that I either inherited from my mother, or created myself based on my research. (Ignore the “Microsoft Notebook Title,” I use every old notebook I can find to save buying more, & half of the bottom shelf has not been recorded and added to my document file yet.) This does not include almost two file drawers full of material yet to recorded in my documents file



Here is another photo of my inherited, oldest albums that have not yet been documented/recorded.



I have many more albums in another closet, and boxes and boxes of photos etc. still to go through.

Just thought I would share this with all of you. It’s a start!!!


Why did they leave Paradise?

I grew up in the middle of Kansas. It is often said that Kansas is flat as a pancake. Not so!

Western Kansas is flat as a pancake. That has been proven by a scientific survey, at least according to a TV show about food facts. In that survey they compared the surfaces of Kansas and those of pancakes; and their conclusion, Kansas is flatter than a pancake.

Where I grew up in the middle of Kansas, we had some rolling hills, not many, but they were there. You could still see for miles on end. My wife used to tease me about this when we visited my folks. She would say what good does it to do to have a huge picture window when all you can see is “nothing.”

Just a few miles west of where I grew up is Coronado Heights, where Coronado himself gave up his search for the gold and returned to Mexico. I could see Coronado Heights from my home, so you see the idea that there is nothing to see out the picture window is just not true. Most of the area surrounding Coronado Heights is rolling prairies where some of my ancestors settled. As the rivers meandered through them changing course over time, many canyons developed. Not as deep and gorgeous as the Grand Canyon out west, but take it from experience, you could get very lost in those canyons if you were not careful. I know, because I have done so.

Just a little farther east you have the flint hills. Now those are true hills, beautiful in their own right, but not as the hills back east, where my ancestors lived.

My wife grew up in southeast Kansas. Mining country, strip-mining that is, but again, not like the hills back east. More like flat to slightly hilly. To be fair, there are plenty of hills following the routes of the rivers, but my take on southeast Kansas is that it is still relatively flat. A large portion of the hills in that area is man-made, left over from the strip mining activity. When they are raw, they are ugly. Left alone, over the years, nature has a way of retaking the land and healing it. Then you have beautiful lakes (where the mining pits were) with tree-covered hills lining them created from the remains dug out of the pits. As college students, we used to go swimming in the “strip pits.” Some are gorgeous and some very secluded. Now many of them were converted into a state park.

Over the years my wife and I have lived in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, and Illinois.

Kansas and Illinois have large sections of “flat,” but also have quite a bit of “hills” to offset the plains. There are some rather unique places hidden away in both states that defy the word “flat,” like waterfalls etc., but you have to search for them, which we loved to do. One of my grown daughters used to comment that the only hills in Illinois are the hills created by the interstate when they made overpasses over other roads. That idea may be a little extreme, but Illinois does have some flat areas to rival Kansas.

Missouri has the “Ozark Mountains,” which are true mountains, worn down over time. Very rugged, rocky, and amazingly beautiful. My wife and I loved roaming around in the Ozarks.

Colorado is a state of contrasts. You have the flat desserts on the eastern side, the gorgeous “Rockies” in the middle, and the plateaus and mesas on the western side. We lived in Colorado for six months and my job took us all over Colorado. Even when I was off duty, we traveled as far as possible up in the mountains and along the eastern edge of the mountains from north to south. We loved that area. So much to see, and beautiful, but for me living in a suburb on the eastern sided of Denver, there was something that was just not right in my opinion. I had a hard time figuring out what it was until we moved back to Missouri. Then I knew. Everything on the eastern side of Denver was dessert and all the “greenery” in the highway medians and the city parkways etc. was totally artificial, highly manicured, and maintained by irrigation. In Missouri, all the undergrowth and brush along the sides of the roads, as well as the large variety of trees and vines is what I was missing. I’ll take the ruggedness of Missouri  any day over the artificialness of Colorado.

So back to my title, “Why did they leave Paradise?”

My wife and I had the opportunity to travel back east when we took our daughter to western New York for college. On one of our trips, we scheduled extra time to research out where my ancestors lived, which was at Catawba, West Virginia. We also spend some time researching the area where her ancestors lived, which was just north of Butler, Pennsylvania. In both cases, we fell in love with the areas. As we traveled the areas, and in both cases walked the actual land where they lived, we both came away with a sense of awe about the majesty of the land they lived on. It was my wife who made the statement “Why did they leave Paradise?”

Now I know that there were many factors that caused them to leave. Economic factors for one. The promise of good productive land for another, since the more people that were populating the area, meant there was less land for a family to call their own. And of course there were those who felt that if you could see the smoke from your neighbors chimney, then it was time to move on as the neighbors were much to close. Probably the biggest motivation to move west was the homestead act that allowed many to actually own land out west, and the lure of striking out on your own and making a “new” life for you and your family. There is no way for me to ever know the reasons that finally sent our ancestors west, but I am sure that on their journey westward, there were probably many times  that they asked themselves the question “Why did we leave Paradise?”

Looking today at the Facebook postings showing all the snow in the yards of my West Virginia cousins really did remind me of the “Paradise” my ancestors had back in West Virginia. So I would move there in a heartbeat—no not really, as I have come to like the Paradise I live in. However, I still can dream of the Paradise that my ancestors left. For those who still live in Paradise, enjoy what you have. It is gorgeous.