Sunday, February 12, 2017

Gone Fishin’ – Another Adobe Spark Video

I still love Adobe Spark. It’s pretty much idiot-proof. My first two videos were created using Adobe Premier Elements and Audacity.  They came out ok, but were not as simple as Adobe Spark.

Gone Fishin'

The two most difficult tasks are photo selection and narration.  The experts say that 6 minutes is maximum length for videos like this. In my experience, the story dictates length. So far my max is less than 5 minutes. I tend to select the photos first, but sometimes writing the narrative dictates which photos to use for a story. In the end, it’s just fun to do.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

History and DNA

In this time of confusion in the US, the focus is on specific immigrants, but all immigrants and children of immigrants are concerned. My stepdaughter, Julie, posted on Facebook reminding us that we are all immigrants and descendants of immigrants.  In her post she asked people to respond with their own county of ancestry.  This made me reflect on my current reading of The Emergence of Society subtitled European and English History 300 – 1200 by Colin Davies.

Many people are surprised and bewildered when their DNA ethnicity analysis shows results that are at odds with their family lore and known family history.  “But I KNOW that I am British!  This analysis must be wrong.”  “I know that I am Polish!  Why is my analysis showing Scandinavian DNA?”

We identify with the nations from which our ancestors emigrated.  But nations, as we know them today, did not always exist.  Before there were nations, there were countless kingdoms vying for land and resources and power.  Some were individual tribes; while others consisted of several amalgamated tribes.  Over the centuries, these kingdoms advanced and retreated; formed coalitions and split apart.

History has many of the answers.  Here is a map of Europe as it was at about 125 AD.  Do you recognize the designations?  Probably only a few of them. What we see here are many tribes and kingdoms.  Over the centuries these kingdoms conquered or were conquered, were absorbed into other kingdoms or retreated and lost leadership and identity.

Are you baffled by the ethnic mix shown in your DNA test results?
Consider History. For example:

In the 10th and 11th centuries, Norse and Dane incursions plagued the British Isles.  Eventually these raiders brought their families and settled in what is now England and Scotland.  In November, 1016, Cnute. a Dane, became king of England.[1]

Extensive communities of Danes and Norwegians imply that many of today’s Britons may have more Norse and Danish DNA than Anglo-Saxon DNA.

In the year 1626 Sweden invaded Poland. Remnants of Swedish fortifications still exist.  Can there be any doubt about Swedish/Polish personal liaisons that show up today’s DNA tests?

In my own case, my mother’s maiden name was Ganas. Although I’ve found my Ganas ancestors back to the late 1700’s in Poland, this is not a “Polish” name.  Surname searches return mostly Greek origins.  My guess? Apparently in the 12th and 13th centuries, there were many Greek and Turkish merchants in the area that is now Poland.  Until I can find real evidence, my guess is that a Greek merchant named Ganas fell in love with a Polish girl and stayed in Poland.  All four of my grandparents were born in Poland.  But maybe there was a Greek immigrant somewhere in the mix 800 years ago.  I’ll probably never know for sure, but I think I’ve made a reasonable guess.

At best, the ethnic mix results from DNA tests are educated guesses based on what data is currently available. They’ll become more accurate as new data is acquired.

Before you reject your DNA ethnic results, check the history books.  You may find something new and interesting.

[1] Emergence of Western Society by Colin Davies  p128

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Tribes of Europe (Some of them, at least)

In modern times, we are familiar with the sovereign nations of Europe. But it was not always so.  I have begun reading The Emergence of Western Society subtitled European and English History 300 – 1200 by Colin Davies.

The first chapter begins even earlier with a Roman Emperor whose name was new to me:  Alexander Servius who was executed by the Roman army in 235. In this chapter he lists various tribes who were threats to the empire’s borders; and he mentions others as well. The second chapter introduced me to even more.  Some of the names were familiar from other historical accounts but a number were new to me. Maybe serious history buffs would know about these ancient peoples.  Wikipedia to the rescue. Here are some links to both the familiar and the unfamiliar.


Francia expanded from Austrasia, established by the Merovingian dynasty
Burgundians  The Burgundians interest me because they occupied  the area that is now Poland. 

Some of the tribes in Germania during the Roman Empire. Suebi and Irminones are in magenta.

My head is spinning.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Family History Writing Challenge

I’m going to try Lynn Palermo’s Family History WritingChallenge again this year. I tried it a couple of years ago, but fell out very quickly.  This year will be different.  

This year, I’m not writing to be read; I’m writing to be heard.  My projects will be to write narration for short videos. Some of them will be very short but still need some advance planning.

Among my intended projects are some stories about photographs. This is an idea I got from Dear Myrtle, Pat Ritchley-Erickson. I’ll take a photo or a small group of photos and talk about them, perhaps explaining the time, people, place, or specific reason a photo was taken.  Sounds like fun.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I LOVE Adobe Spark

What an easy way to create a video to tell a story!  And it is FREE! 

Adobe Spark makes it extremely simple – teachers and students are among Adobe’s target audience for this product.
Here’s my first project: 1941 Road Trip

The website leaves something to be desired in terms of tutorials, but there are several tutorials available from others.
This blog post from Amy Johnson Crow includes a tutorial

And this Wacky Wednesday hangout from Dear Myrtle demonstrates step by step.

A Google search will find more.

Adobe Spark will create a link to your video so that you can share it with others. You can also download your video as am MP4 file that can then be uploaded to your YouTube channel.

In the past I’ve created a couple of videos using Adobe Premier Elements but I think I’ll stick with Adobe Spark

Monday, December 19, 2016

Family Search Family Tree? or Not?

In my opinion there are valid reasons for having my family tree posted on the Family Search site. 
Likewise, I see valid reasons for not having it there.  Here are my thoughts.


There are, among the Family Search members, very likely some who have branches that correspond to mine. They could be great sources to fill in my gaps and chip away at brick walls.

It is a free service.  If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, my online data would be accessible to anyone who wanted to continue my research without having to purchase software.  All other online tree databases are subscription services – no one would have access.


The Family Search tree is “open edit”. Any member can change any data at any time.  I have heard complaints from users about seemingly unresolvable issues regarding dates and relationships.  I recently watched a video dealing with how to deal with people who “mess up” your family information. I’m not sure I want to deal with that.

It seems that the argument about other members having information that I don’t have is countered by the fact that I can search the tree looking for my family members. That takes effort but it may be less frustrating than coping with individuals who are as stubborn as I am.

I can be sure let other who may be interested have access to my tree on subscription services, and my local computer so the information doesn’t fall into a black hole.


Several years ago I did post a partial tree on Family Search, but have not updated it in all that time. Should I delete it if I can?

Should I post my full tree?  My husband’s full tree?  Will I ever decide?

I will appreciate any thoughts and comments about this.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wish List – Dear Genea Santa

Where to begin!??

I have two lists.  One is for things that are either said to be coming in the near future; or are at least within the realm of possibility.  The other list is for those things that are unlikely or would involve a miracle of some sort.

All Polish archives to be online and searchable

Complete and error-free synchronization among all online family tree providers.

Every state in the US to have vital records online and searchable

Adequate budget to support every research trip I’d like to take and to purchase every publication I’d like to have, (And the room to store all the publications.)

Instant fluency in the Polish language.  This is where the miracle part comes in.

Reality: (Could happen)
Verify my g gfather Joseph Dachtera’s birth place.

Figure out which Solomon Rose is the one I’m looking for.  (There are too many men named Solomon Rose in the same time and region.)

Find the ancestral village in Bohemia of the Filek family I’m looking for.

The return of the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library says this will happen in early 2017.

Better organizational skills. (Possible but not likely. Comes under the heading of “teaching an old dog new tricks”.

C’mon, Santa. Do your stuff!