Saturday, June 4, 2016

Southern California Jamboree 2016 ~ Day Two ~ Things I learned

me and Paul
Me and J. Paul Hawthorne comparing our conference ribbons 

Attending a conference is about planning.  Since this is my first genealogy conference (or any other kind of conference).  I registered a few months ahead, so that was good.  What I didn’t know was that I needed to pre-register to attend some of the workshops.  Live and learn – I’ll do better next time.

What that meant was having yesterday morning with no plans.  I visited with friends for a while.  Then I went to the big tents and tried to join a round table.  Most of the ones I was interested in were filled.
Debby and I had lunch and then I attended two afternoon classes, which were very good.

Here’s a short summary of some of the things I learned:

The Combined Power of Y DNA and Autosomal DNA by Diahan Southard

Diahan talked about how testing both types of DNA can help you in your effort to connect those lineages.
  • DNA testing can help us with the difficult areas of our research.  However, the work is actually in our own genealogy research.  We need to comb through the DNA results and pick the low hanging fruit.  In other words, the close cousin matches.  Then we can map their ancestors and find links to our own.
  • When we do our DNA tests, we get a “pretty picture” but they could all bring different results.  The work is up to us to bring it all together.
  • Pay attention to those relationship ranges.  Such as – we know that a 3rd cousin is someone with whom we share a great grandparent.
  • Count birthdays and be aware of how old your match is.  If you are 40 and a first cousin match shows up as being 80, you probably aren’t first cousins.  Of course there are always anomalies.
  • Search by surname and location on your autosomal matches
  • Track your matches.  I heard this from every speaker in the first two days.  Develop a system (most of them use spreadsheets) to track matches.
  • Use this free site for a form you can use to track, if you aren’t comfortable with spreadsheets.
  • And the other common advice from every speaker was this……

The next class I attended was about cluster genealogy to help us solve our brick wall mysteries.

Cluster Methodology: A case study in upstate New York by Karen Mauer Jones, CG FGBS

Brick wall problem
- You’ve collected everything on the surname
- Searched every record at the locality
- Cited every source faithfully

Still the brick wall stands.  How do we break through?

Cluster genealogy is all about conducting reasonably exhaustive searches for ALL the people in your ancestor's life circle.
  • Friends, Witnesses, Neighbors, anyone mentioned on court records etc.
  • The most common mistake we can make is to focus on the surname – look for all the other names, some of which keep showing up in the various records you find.
  • Back up and start over – looking at your records with new eyes and try not to have pre conceived ideas.
  • Study ALL associates – in-laws, neighbors and especially those females with different surnames.  They could very well be sisters.
  • Don’t be a “source snob.”  Even though we know those family trees that are online, can be full of incorrect information.  Don’t ignore them.  Use them as a source for hints.  Then follow that name or piece of information yourself.
  • Document and keep track of everything you find and write your explanation of what you think.  Does the same surname or the same person keep showing up?  Try to figure out who this person is and how they might be related to your ancestor.
Even though I only attended two classes, I was reminded of things I need to remember and learned new strategies.

In the afternoon the vendor hall opened up and I was able to visit most of the booths.  The most important one for me was the FtDNA booth.  I had several issues with FtDNA testing that I’ve had run on my brother.  I needed to find out why I couldn’t get the Family Finder feature to upload, even though I’d paid for it.  Then there was another issue with my husband’s recent FtDNA test.  I’m so happy to report that, thanks to Jim Brewster, my problems have been addressed and I can move forward.  I’m really excited about this, as Y DNA testing is a big issue for me because of a paternal brick wall.  Thank you Jim and the Family Tree DNA staff!!

Here’s a couple of pictures from my time with friends.

me and Debby
Me and Debby
me and Geoff
Me and Geoff Rasmussen 
3 ofus
Me, J. Paul Hawthorne and Elyse Doerflinger
legacy booth
The Legacy booth with Geoff helping some attendees

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl
Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall



  1. Yeah for your 1st Conference!!!!!! Way to Go! It's so refreshing. All the information you bring back to revitalize yourself with. Congratulations! and I can't wait to read more of your experience! Enjoy!

  2. Thanks for posting these photos, Diane!!! This conference is so much fun!!!

  3. Looks like you had a great time Diane. One of these years I need to get to Jamboree! So Transpose looks a lot like Trello at the outset---do you know if they are similar?

    I really need to do better at developing a system for matches. I kind of go in waves with tracking matches because I've been discouraged by those who don't respond to my emails about matches or don't have any kind of a tree. Thanks for sharing some of what you learned for those of us sitting at home!

    1. I can't believe I've waited so long to attend any genealogy conference, let alone, one that is only 3 hrs. from me. I haven't yet had a chance to look at Transpose and I am not familiar with Trello, so I can't comment. I completely agree about needing to develop a sound system for our matches. So far, I've been using Evernote, but I suspect I will be creating a spreadsheet to better handle what I hope will be more upcoming matches. This is such a new area for all of us and it's really come to the forefront now.
      Thanks for stopping by Michelle.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.