STRs, SNPs, Alleles, Locus that become lots of little Loci. It is like Chocolate is bad for GERD. Who Cares?

GRIP cares and it matters to get a grip on understanding the basic and advanced lingo and techniques of genetic genealogy and there are few places to get the instruction. The ins, outs and alls of why these gene markers and their amounts mean so much to us in search of genetic family history is taught at GRIP. And for that matter, also the ultimate in instruction in traditional genealogy research and they all are inseparable.

We, my better half and I, attended last week’s Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, GRIP, family history classes held at Daemen College in Amherst, New York. To get the rating out of the way, I give them 10 out of 10 and there is not enough money in the world to make me say this if it were not true. Deborah ‘Debbie’ Lichtner Deal and Elissa Scalise Powell organized and gave all an amazing week for learning about scholarly research for genealogy and we took the two genetic genealogy courses – one in beginner and the other in advanced.

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The last two days we saw this family or families of deer, at least two generations of siblings or cousins. On the far right is a young buck its antlers growing and might expect this will be his last year living at home, he will be off to run with the bucks and then on his own. The females and the youngest doe with its white spots still covering its back. A lovely family view for the week of GRIP Family History Classes at Daemen College.

In fact the genetic genealogy courses were much less on only understanding the science and concentrated on how to use the science given us in the form of a variety of tools created by the testing companies and DNA gene reading companies and APPs – understanding and using software.

I have no shame in singing my own praises – I was validated in all aspects of the course, I had understood, been using, and using correctly, all the pieces and tools for DNA for genealogy and this was important to add to my own confidence. Since it is clear I am not shy about my swollen head anyway, I have to add, I would always like to be able to go back every year to GRIP or other of the institutes or conferences since there is always so much new happening all the time it makes sure we can keep up with the latest news and technology.

An important piece of attending events is networking. I have understood as a writer going back 40 years, one does not edit one’s own work – like a lawyer who has their self for an attorney, so editors are very important in my life and so I sorted that out by marrying one. I just wish he would retire sooner rather than later so I can access his help in all writing.

Peer review means the world to all research in my view and I have always worked to have people more knowledgeable than me to go over and tear apart my theories to make sure what I am asserting about any research is accurate and understandable, especially as I am too long winded and one of the most important classes this week was on scholarly writing by Thomas W. Jones (no relation that we know of), I would like to have worked through much more of his instruction – I guess I will have to take a repeat dose of his guidance.

Everybody must love You Tube – all kinds of lessons

Much of the reason for my own blogs was to share research. After caring for several dozen private family groups that we organized on Facebook groups, trying to write basic 101 instructions over and over had me rewriting the same info over and over.

I love many bloggers and have linked to their sites in emails and in groups, including one of my favorites, Rebecca Canada, who must be the first person I followed from the beginning about 2005 with the emails for mtDNA haplogroup H etc, and Dick Eastman, and The Legal Genealogist and others.

But sometimes my folks came back and said that was too complicated and so I began writing up hurried instructions that are often too short or way too long and as I said to Thomas Jones, in thanking him for his teaching, maybe I should delete my blog – but I won’t do that just because I need to allow more edits.

The fabulous Blaine T Bettinger taught several of our classes including ethics and the cumbersome science and insights and how-tos for several of the great genetic tools with examples. He also gave a view of what genetic genealogy could look like in the future and this was so exciting as I personally have wanted to test the stamps and partially sealed envelope flaps of letters my father sent to his  mother, my paternal grandmother.  He explained this forensic DNA technology was not so much in the future as this service is offered now and has been to a limited degree.

This is one of his books.

The NGS also sells and recommends another of his easy to read and understand – but thorough books.


Really love You Tube – just google all subjects and people and learn much online.

I add my feelings about my dad’s stamps and envelopes, it is still expensive and this is so very new there must be pause for thought that I should wait for the technology to advance just a wee bit more please.  I have one almost full flap sealed and from the other envelope about one third and that is all. For the stamps I would do them but I would want them done separately. I have a vague memory that my grandmother might have sent him stamped envelopes to use. These do not have any folds, so it is not likely but if it might be her DNA on the stamp, I would want that done separately. I wrote about the letters a couple of weeks ago also.

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1 and 1/3 sealed envelope flaps and two stamps. Although I found proxies for my father’s y-DNA and mt-DNA, I would still like to have these tested. Lesson’s in GRIP Advanced Genetic Genealogy Blaine Bettinger reminded us the stamp might have surprise DNA – the local postmaster, or the person assigned with getting and mailing. I also think of a dab on a wet sponge and maybe there is no DNA at all.

And in the class, instructor, Blaine T Bettinger noted we should think of the several possibilities of who might have added the DNA to an envelope’s stamp, the child in the house for fun, the postmaster or as I might wonder my grandmother. Her DNA would be awesome if it were on any stamp.

My late sister had two of my father’s molars – I know, gross – but that is not nearly as gross as my realizing my 4th great grandfather’s crypt was open because of damage and a university with genetics and archaeology and anthropology departments was very nearby and I was writing to contacts hoping anyone would be interested in this Georgia patriarch’s remains. So with Jones suggestions, I think I might write up a note to those Georgia scholars and see how excited I might get them about the Byrds of Virginia.



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The Byrds of Virginia. Forensic DNA for genealogy seems to be at the top of the list for the next great trend of testing. Artifacts and memorabilia with DNA and the top advice – stop touching it now.  (Much thanks to CB for the photographs, I hide the name for privacy of the graves, but he is appreciated many places by so many of us for his extensive work)


I have family who have ancestors that include the Calverts of St Mary’s and Charles and Calvert Counties Maryland. St Mary’s First Landing’s museum has a wonderful facial reconstruction of Uncle Phillip Calvert’s wife’s head and her mt-DNA was viable, but Phillip’s failed. Well, call me names if you like, but I say pull another tooth every couple of years as the technology improves. We have a lot of y-DNA on this one and I want some old DNA, we can all learn together.

Three Coffins



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So many universities and public and private entities are adding forensic genetic genealogy we can hope our ancestors will be getting their DNA sequenced. This needs to be in every suggestion box of every park across the country and the world.

Instructor Thomas W Jones warned us the point to our stories would be buried in TMI – too much information – and I hope I can keep to his advice with my long winded confusion tendencies and keep it short and make the important points fun and keep it all genetic genealogy 101 for all my family and friends in our groups.

My week at GRIP gave me not only confidence in my existing knowledge and ability but also how to share it with others from Jones classes, more understanding of the sciences and added practical uses from instructor Blaine T Bettinger.

And our pinnacle of course co-coordination and primary instructor Cece Moore gave an inspiring, awesome five days of instruction, organizing both Jones and Bettinger for us to complement her instruction in how, why, what, when, of the whos of genetic genealogy.

So many aspects of so many topics will have something on you tube

CeCe Moore had seen the same thing I saw almost 15 years ago when people were searching for proof of ancestral lines, biological families, and sometimes just hope to find there is any family left alive and they needed help and I had the skills and knew how to use the tools to help them identify their genetic genealogy questions and help with the answers.

This is the message of CeCe Moore to take these skills and share them in this brand new industry of solving very important human puzzles.

Ms Moore has been at the forefront of genetic genealogy almost since its beginning and credits a cousin’s family history book that included her family as her first inspiration for researching her own ancestry, All in the Family by Julia M. Travis.

I had followed her work since she was named on Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Lewis Skip Gates, and when I saw the notice this class was to be her last – I booked us for the trip, notified the better half what days he was to schedule off for vacation time and this time instead of just graving and searching dusty or pristine historical societies for family history we would take classes from the best in the world.

And all hosted by our fantastic founders of GRIP Elissa and Debbie.

This year they had two GRIP weeks in the home location of the organization, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and because of space we went to this year’s GRIP On The Road in New York.

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The opening night of GRIP Amherst 2018 with the Photo Op of our instructors and organizers. L to R: Debbie Deal, Angela McGhie, Nancy Peters, Karen Jones, Kimberly Powell, Luana Darby, Paula Stuart-Warren, Cyndi Ingle, CeCe Moore, Patti Hobbs, Tom Jones (in back), Elissa Powell, Pam Sayre, Rick Sayre (in back). GRIP faculty –

Beside the two institute courses for genetic genealogy they had the amazing wonderful founder and author of the best website for genealogy since sliced bread, Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet. Cyndi’s List – if you need to know something her site  knows where it is. I hope to have content worth sharing and that she will add me to useful websites to follow, check… And it was true I was torn over all the course choices,  Cyndi was teaching, Refining Internet and Digital Skills and I heard great things about the course during breaks from students. I got my first computer in 1983 and having worked genetic genealogy since 2004 and this being one of the great’s last classes, I could only choose genetic genealogy, that was why I was going.

I didn’t get to talk to but a few of the Instructors but all those I did certainly had charismatic reach to teach the genealogy aspects of their passions. I got to speak with Paula Stewart-Warren over a lunch and hear her speak with others about the plans for the week and hers was another course that made it hard to choose. This week she was teaching – Intermediate Genealogy: Tools For Digging Deeper.


The Institute’s week also offered evening events and lectures for some nights, some organized with them and some by attendees for the week. There were talks by local society members, outing to a genealogical library and even one to Niagara Falls since that was near our GRIP on the Road location. There were also a couple of interest-specific lunches and dinners organized by ProGen and DAR members and others.

So as opposed to only watching You Tube videos all year long we can take time out to go and hear the lesson for a week of classes by any of these awesome teachers.

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From early on I became a professional student. It has not stopped at 65. Photo by my better half, David W B Jones

The local area around Daemen College offered wonderful additions for our trip.

Many people had dinner locally at The Eagle House which I would liked to have visited. It was standing when our family lived there in the 19th century and must have been known of if not visited.

But we went to the wonderful Creek View Restaurant just a bit farther down Main Street on the right, Williamsville. The food was beautiful with high end prices but worth every bite and the view of the rushing creek was very nice for dinner.

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The view from the dining room of the Creek View Restaurant

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Dinner with my better half at the Creek View Restaurant

Do not go to the Niagara region without a reservation on a Saturday night at high season. We arrived in Amherst the day before the Institute began and needed a place to stay that one night and after three tries and no luck we began to think we had a long drive to find accommodation.

But if you happen to drive into the Hampton Inn on Main Street, Williamsville, you will find E. assistant desk manager and even though she did not have room, we left that hotel with a confirmation number of a very nice place to stay not too far away.  We must go back just to stay there, Emily gets hotel person of the decade!

We were directed to the nouveau hotel Hilton Tru, Williamsville just a few miles from the college and had a wonderful night in this new concept hotel which filled needs and with a smattering of special features was a great stay. Good digital connections, great TV – Hilton’s TRU TV, even the shower stall had the raised foot rest for shaving legs steady while balanced.

Comfortable bed and well stocked hot breakfast with the extra trimmings. It was new, nice, clean and had everything needed for a nice price under 200$ L. who checked us in and got us settled also gets hotel person of the decade.



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GRIP has accommodation on the campuses of the hosting colleges and their rooms with single dorms beds was neat, clean and gave the week a real back to college experience. We hoped we would be having family visiting from Canada and we also booked the week at the nearest hotel – the Hyatt Place Amherst Buffalo . Wonderful saltwater pool, Jacuzzi, hot breakfast with all the trimmings and large rooms with sitting areas with sofas and office desk space with mini frig and microwaves.

Hyatt has its sister portfolio hotel on the extended property and I was sorry we did not get a night there, the lobby amenities with service looked like the property would be a joy to stay in.


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Don’t miss the Creek View Restaurant


GRIP on You Tube

I wished the Canadian Cousins had visited


See the blogs with our research travels as well as our home research centers.

National Archives Washington, D.C.

National Archives College Park


Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia

Historical Society of Westmoreland County, Virginia

Page Library of Genealogy and History Montpellier, Virginia

Albemarle and Charlottesville Historical and Genealogical Society, Virginia

Charles City County, Virginia

King William County, Virginia

Pamunkey Museum, Virginia

Mattapony Museum, Virginia

Goochland County, Virginia

Port Royal, Caroline County, Virginia

Amherst County, Virginia



States Archives Boston, Massachusettes

…, Rhode Island

Library Barnstable, Massachusetts

Library Sandwich, Massachusettes

Mansfield, Connecticut Historical and Genealogical Soceity


Stokes Library, Cocke County, Tennessee

French Broad River, Hot Springs, North Carolina

Burke County, Library, North Carolina


Cecil County Historical Society, Maryland

Harford Abeerdeen Property, Maryland

Calvery County, Maryland


Morgan County, West Virginia


Ontario, Canada

Toronto, York, Canada

Huron North, Canada

Glamorgan, South West Wales

Carmarthenshire, South West Wales


edit with weblinks… more…











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