Ancestry Blog » Ask Ancestry Anne The official blog of Ancestry Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:58:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ask Ancestry Anne: How Do You Get Kids Involved in Genealogy? Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:27:16 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Looking for new ways to get the children in your life involved in genealogy?  Are you a Civil War buff?  Or better yet, both?  If so, you might want to check out the Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) program.

Over 600,000 thousand soldiers died during the Civil War and this inventive program is planting a tree for each and every one of them by working with schools and students.

jthg1Each tree in the this program will be geo-tagged, which will allow visitors to check the website and mobile app to learn exactly where a soldier’s tree is and learn about the soldier it commemorates. The website and mobile app links to the soldier’s memorial page on Fold3. These memorial pages have basic facts about the soldier and users can upload additional information, documents, and photographs.

You can find Fold3 Memorial Pages such as this one for William Nanney who died August 2, 1862 in Petersburg, Virginia. You can also look up the location of his tree on the Living Legacy Map.jthg2

JTHG, Ancestry, and Fold3 are working with teachers to help them incorporate researching the lives of the Civil War fallen into their curriculum. For more information about this program, visit the Journey Through Hallowed Ground website.  If you are interested in learning more about a grant for Ancestry and Fold3 in your favorite child’s classroom, visit our Ancestry K12 site.



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Ask Ancestry Anne: Where Is My Native American DNA? Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:15:02 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> inheritance 50_50

DNA Inheritance


Question: I recently had my DNA analyzed and was surprised when the results did not show any evidence of my Cherokee connection.

My great-great-grandmother was one-fourth Cherokee (Tiptendille Tribe-TN). Would the traces of the Native American heritage be so minute that they would not be evident anymore?

– Shauna


Answer: The short answer is yes, the traces of Native American DNA in your test may be too small to detect.  Let’s look at why.

If your great-great-grandmother was ¼ Cherokee, then it was her grandparent that was 100% Native American. And that would be your 4th-great-grandparent. Now your great-great-grandmother would get 50% of her DNA from her mother and 50% from her father. To make this easy, let’s divide by 2 for every generation.

dna percentage1

So how much of your great-great-grandmother’s DNA are you likely to have?  Probably around 1.5625%! And that may not be enough to detect Native American ethnicity.

dna percentage2

If you can find older generations on that line to test, I recommend that.  Also, get brothers, sisters and cousins tested.  You never know who might have enough DNA to be detected.

Even if you find the DNA connection, you will still want to follow the paper trail.  I recommend our Native American Research Guide to get you started.

Happy searching!

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Ancestry Weekly Roundup: November 3rd Edition Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:47:10 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts
Poster by the Burlington & Missouri River R. R. Co. advertising land in Iowa and Nebraska, 1872. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Poster by the Burlington & Missouri River R. R. Co. advertising land in Iowa and Nebraska, 1872. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.



Five-Minute Finds:

From the Barefoot Genealogist:

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Ask Ancestry Anne: How Can I Share My Family Tree in an Interesting Way? Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:22:18 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Question: How can I transfer my information from my family tree to some sort of hard copy, such as a computer printer copy ?  I would like to make copies for family members.

Answer: Printing your tree out is possible from a program like Family Tree Maker, but I suggest you go with something with a little more pizzazz.

MyCanvas, an Ancestry tool, provides multiple ways for you to create a beautiful family history book or family tree posters which can make sharing fun and enjoyable for everyone.

Juliana Szucs has created a Five Minute Find: Creating a MyCanvas Poster to get you started. Or if you have a little more time to spend, check out Using MyCanvas to Make Descendant Family History Books and Posters and Using MyCanvas to Print and Share Your Family Stories on our Webinars page.

You can also easily share your project — click on the Share this project link, enter an email address, write a personal message, and send  an invitation to view your project.

You will find the Share this project link on the My Projects page,  under the name of the project you want to share. Then click on “Email to a friend” in the drop down menu.

MyCanvas 2

The invitee will get an email to view your project. They will not be able to make any changes to your project, but they can view and order it a hard copy if they choose.

When they receive the invitation, they will see something like:

MyCanvas 1


You may also allow your invitee to save a copy of the project to their own account. They will be able to edit their copy, but their edits will not change your copy of the project.

MyCanvas is a wonderful way to preserve and share your family history, photos, and stories. This Share feature enables you to easily share your work with others, even when they don’t live close by.



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Ancestry Weekly Roundup: October 27th Edition Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:43:26 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts



Between The Leaves
From the Barefoot Genealogist:
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Early Migration in the United States: The Great Wagon Road Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:23:08 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Some of our ancestors stayed put for generations.  Some appeared to be nomads living in a different place in every census.

How did they get from point A to point B in the 1700s and 1800s?  Obviously they didn’t drive. They didn’t fly.  They didn’t look at a map and take the straightest path.  There were forests, rivers and often rather large mountain ranges that would have been in the way.

And there weren’t a lot of roads.  So they probably took one of the few roads available when they were looking to move on and improve their lot in life.

Looking in the U.S. Map Collection, 1513-1990, we find a sketch of a few of the major trails and roads that developed over time in the U.S.



The Library of Congress offers us what is commonly referred to as the Jefferson Fry map which was drawn by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson in 1751.


This map covers the most populated areas of Virginia and the surrounding area and if we dig in a little bit deeper we can see The Great Wagon Road. This road sometimes known as the Great Warrior Road and been a path used by the Native Americans.  After multiple skirmishes, wars, and negotiations, the English got the right to travel it.  With use and effort it became wider and more passable.


On this particular cutout you can see the mountain ranges, rivers and creeks which might help you locate where your ancestors might have lived. This map shows us where breaks in the mountain ranges were – this is most likely where people crossed.  Much easier than climbing up and down mountains!

The Great Wagon Road stretched hundreds of miles from Pennsylvania down into South Carolina.  If your ancestor started in Pennsylvania and ended up in Western Virginia, North or South Carolina they very well may have travelled this road.

To look for other maps for various era check Library of Congress Maps and the David Rumsey Map Collection, both of which are free.

Happy searching!



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Ancestry Weekly Update: October 6th Edition Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:54:47 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts




Between The Leaves
From the Barefoot Genealogist
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Ask Ancestry Anne: Is the Family Civil War Story True? Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:41:41 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Question: My great grandfather Henry Melrose was with the 1st West Virginia Cavalry in the Civil War and was in the 1889 Oklahoma land run. What a life! I think he was at Gettysburg. At some point he was shot and left for dead but survived. Where and when was he injured? Was he a POW? Where are the muster rolls?

Answer: When researching Civil War soldiers, I start with two Ancestry data collections: U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 and U.S., Civil War Solider Records and Profiles, 1861-1865, which in this case tell us the same basic information: Henry was a private in Company C, 1st West Virginia Cavalry.


Next, the Compiled Military Service Records can be viewed on Fold3. Drill down to Civil War -> Civil War Service Records -> Union Records -> West Virginia -> First Cavalry and then look for Henry.



Henry has 30 Compiled Military Service Record cards for us to look through. Compiled Military Service Records were created as abstracts of original military records. Each card tells us some new detail about the soldier’s service.

It appears that Henry had an interesting experience in the War. He enlisted on August 30, 1861 for 3 years in what was then the 1st Virginia Cavalry, Union in Wirt County; Wirt County became part of West Virginia in 1863. He mustered into service in October at the age of 23.

Sometime in spring of 1862 he was detached from his usual service and sent on patrol. On May 7, 1862 he was wounded in the head and thigh and left behind by his patrol. He was later picked up by southern troops and released on “parole of honor,” promising to never bear arms against southern troops.


Henry was sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, a prisoner of war camp for Confederate prisoners and Union “parolees.” There he was to serve his “parole of honor;” he stayed there from May of 1862 until at least February of 1863.

April 1863 finds him back on duty and he was promoted to Corporal on July 1, 1863. He stayed with Company C until December 23, 1863; then on that date he enlisted as a Veteran Volunteer under General Order 191.305 and 324.


So why would someone reenlist before their current service was finished? A Complete Digest of Laws in Relation to Bounty has more information. From Order 191.305:

“General Orders No. 191….relative to recruiting veteran volunteers, is hereby amended…volunteers serving in three-years organizations, who may re-enlist for three years or the war, in the companies or regiments to which they now belong…shall be entitled to the aforesaid bounty and premium of $402…”

So it appears that Henry re-enlisted for another three years or the rest of the war for $402. When he mustered out on July 8, 1865 he had received $210 of his bounty and was due another $190. He also owed the US $30.10 for clothing.


So, Henry was shot. Whether he was left for dead or put into someone’s capable hands is up for interpretation. He was captured by southern troops, but his POW experience was at a northern Prisoner of War camp on “parole of honor,” which was no doubt not as severe as being in a Confederate prison camp. The 1st West Virginia Cavalry did fight at Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863 and since Henry was on active duty as of April 1863 it is reasonable to assume he was there.

It appears that the family legends are true.

Happy searching!

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Ancestry Weekly Roundup: September 29th Edition Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:24:27 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts


Between The Leaves
Five Minute Find
From the Barefoot Genealogist:
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Ancestry Weekly Roundup: September 15th Edition Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:43:31 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts


From the Barefoot Genealogist:

Between The Leaves

Five Minute Find

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