07 December 2012

Follow Friday: Family Tree DNA

Follow Friday is another Daily Blogging Prompt from GeneaBloggers in which genealogy bloggers write about websites, blogs, or other internet resources they are following or  using in their research and why other genealogy bloggers should consider using these resources. Today I'd like to write about Family Tree DNA and what I hope they will reveal for me.

I've blogged before about Sharon Leslie Morgan, the African-American author, speaker, and researcher who believes that we are related through a common connection to my great-great grandfather, James E. Leslie. She believes that James E. Leslie, a slaveholder, blacksmith, and Confederate veteran, had a relationship with one of his female slaves (or perhaps a slave belonging to another local slaveholder) and fathered a child who was her great-grandfather, Tom Leslie. Since we began corresponding and exchanging information earlier this summer, Sharon has encouraged me to submit a sample of my DNA for testing in hopes of proving or disproving our relationship. She persuaded her cousin Frank Leslie to submit a sample of his DNA for testing and there is no doubt that he shares DNA with white people who bear the Leslie surname, both in the United States and in Scotland. If I submit a sample of my DNA, and we compare the two, we can establish conclusively whether or not we share a common ancestor.

In November, Sharon e-mailed me to let me know that Family Tree DNA, the testing service that her family uses and prefers, is having a sale on their 37-marker Y-DNA test that can establish the male line of descent in a family. From now until 31 December, Family Tree DNA is offering their 37-marker Y-DNA test, normally $169, for just $119. Last night I took the plunge and ordered the test kit, which should be here in a few days. I've also joined the Leslie surname project, a pool of people with the Leslie surname who have submitted samples of their DNA for comparison. I'm excited and eager to find out what this test may reveal, but also a little nervous. This is a venture into unknown, unfamiliar territory. With just a little swab on my cheek and a few weeks of waiting for the analysis, I may reveal a long hidden family secret.

Thankful Thursday: Thankful for My Brother Allen

Allen Leslie
One of the best big brothers a genealogist
could have!
OK, OK, so I'm a day late with a Thankful Thursday Daily Blogging Prompt from GeneaBloggers.I've been away from the blog for awhile, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy.Thanksgiving, which we celebrated a few weeks ago, is of course a time to be thankful for all the good things we've received in life, but this year I had  special reason to be thankful. While I was visiting with my brother Allen and his family over the holiday, I asked him for copies of my parents' death certificates, in hopes of clearing up some conflicting information over their birth and death dates. As I was leaving, he presented me with a fat manilla folder stuffed with not only my parents' death certificates, but also their birth certificates, their original (civil) marriage license, a certificate documenting their marriage in the Catholic Church, and baptismal certificates for my mother and maternal grandmother, among other things. "I put in a few extras," he said nonchalantly.

The biggest surprise of all however, was a large white envelope containing a generous selection of my paternal grandmother's poetry. I knew that Grace Moffatt Leslie, or "Mother Grace," as my Dad called her, wrote poetry, but I didn't know that such a large quantity of it survived. Most of the sheets are typewritten and many are dated, so we know exactly when they were composed.There are also a couple of notepads worth of handwritten notes and drafts, but the handwriting looks like a painful crabbed scrawl. My grandmother suffered from chronic, debilitating arthritis for much of her adult life, and I think as the disease progressed, it must have been increasingly difficult for her to write by hand. I plan to read the poems, scan them, and post digital images of the best ones on the blog in the very near future.

By now, it should be obvious that I am very thankful for my brother Allen and his willingness to preserve these priceless family documents and make them available to me. Thank you, Allen!