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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Jefferson Bible

One of the points I try to share with friends whenever we discuss religion or the early days of America, is that our Founding Fathers were not atheists, so freedom of religion meant freedom to worship in the manner of one's choosing. Thomas Jefferson, like many prominent men of his day, were Masons, who referred to God in almost everything they did of consequence, as the Supreme Being. Recently, I learned that Thomas Jefferson published what is known as the Jefferson Bible, which is his version of the life and teachings of Jesus the Christ. Available from several sources, including one that supports the maintenance of Mr. Jefferson's home, the architectural gem known as Monticello.



To visit Monticello, see http://www.monticello.org/

Friday, May 14, 2010

Did he or didn't he... Thomas Jefferson and DNA

It is a common misconception that DNA is extremely useful in Genealogy, to the extent that it is perhaps more definitive than written documents, oral history, or any other source. That is not exactly true.
First, we know that genetics begins with the premise that we are all either XX if female or XY if male. When I studied genetics in high school, the standard idea was that we are exactly 50 per cent of each of our parents. Well, no. It turns out that we are more our mothers than our fathers (more egg than sperm), and that certain aspects of a person come from a particular parent, such as intellect.
So, if we think of tracing our matrilineal line, i.e. our mother's mother's mother, we track the X, and wind up with what Bryan Sykes of Oxford calls the Daughters of Eve. And, there are only a handful of women from whom we all descend.
So, tracing the Y yields our father's father's father's line, the patrilineal line. So, the idea would then be that the Y doesn't change...but it does. In the work done to confirm the identity of Czar Nicholas II, it became apparent that not only does the Y mutate over time (roughly every 150 years), but that some people actually show the mutation (as did the Czar) in their genes. So, assuming that while a Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings' child, DNA evidence does not show which Jefferson. Family Tree DNA now offers a Jefferson-matching DNA service, noting that

"While DNA cannot prove that Sally Hemmings' child was Thomas' son, Y-DNA did prove that the child's father was 'a Jefferson.' Family Tree DNA has the Y-DNA signature of the Jefferson line:
Jefferson Markers"

If you want to have the test, the link is http://www.familytreedna.com/landing/matching-jefferson.aspx

For books by Professor Bryan Sykes, see http://books.google.com/books?q=+inauthor:%22Bryan+Sykes%22&source=gbs_authrefine_t

Native American ancestry research

This is the link on Footnote.com, of vital interest to those searching for Native American / Indian ancestry Dawes Packets The Records of the Five Civilized Tribes [Applications for Enrollment of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914, NARA M1301]. These tribes are: Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole. 

For those searching specifically for Cherokee heritage, the following is of help: http://www.footnote.com/page/93189061_eastern_cherokee_applications_of_the/ and http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/census/native-americans/cherokee-enumeration.html

The National Archives link is at http://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans/ and for the period of 1885-1940, there is census information of special interest at http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/census/native-americans/1885-1940.html

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Presidential Genealogies

And for those of you who are familiar with the work of Gary Boyd Roberts on the Ancestry of American Presidents, here's a link to his book:

Harry S. Truman

Today is V-E Day, so a quick jump to the collections of his Presidential Library yields the declaration:
May 8, 1945
PROCLAMATION 2651 [Victory in Europe: Day of Prayer]
The Allied armies, through sacrifice and devotion and with God's help, have wrung from Germany a final and unconditional surrender. The western world has been freed of the evil forces which for five years and longer have imprisoned the bodies and broken the lives of millions upon millions of free-born men. They have violated their churches, destroyed their homes, corrupted their children, and murdered their loved ones. Our Armies of Liberation have restored freedom to these suffering peoples, whose spirit and will the oppressors could never enslave.

Much remains to be done. The victory won in the West must now be won in the East. The whole world must be cleansed of the evil from which half the world has been freed. United, the peace-loving nations have demonstrated in the West that their arms are stronger by far than the might of dictators or the tyranny of military cliques that once called us soft and weak. The power of our people to defend themselves against all enemies will be proved in the Pacific war as it has been proved in Europe.

For the triumph of spirit and of arms which we have won, and for its promise to peoples everywhere who join us in the love of freedom, it is fitting that we, as a nation, give thanks to Almighty God, who has strengthened us and given us the victory.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint Sunday, May 13, 1945, to be a day of prayer.

I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the way of peace.

I also call upon my countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this eighth day of May in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-five and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-ninth. [SEAL]


By the President:

Joseph C. Grew,
Acting Secretary of State.