Monday, September 28, 2015

Robin's DNA- Scandinavian Surprise!

Our biggest hope for Robin's DNA test was that it would confirm that she has Native American ancestry.  The biggest surprise was there was not even a trace amount of Native American shown in her ethnic mix.  Other surprises were that the Irish ancestry was only 6% and Scandinavian was 9%.  Now she is ready to go out and buy a Volvo!

Apparently, Robin is not the only one who had the Scandinavian surprise.  The blog includes a post: Got Scandinavian? Why your DNA results may have unexpected ethnicities  The Scandinavian link is actually from the British Isles as shown in this pie chart:

Pie Chart of Average British Admixture - SOURCE:

I loved this quote and comment in the blog post:  “The people of this region are a real genetic cocktail,” says Oxford Professor Peter Donnelly.  "So, if you hail from the British Isles, don’t be shaken if your genetic ethnicity results are decidedly stirred," adds Nick Cifuentes.

AncestryDNA is rolling out a new feature called "New Ancestor Discoveries" which is in the Beta testing phase.  Here are the three ancestors that are in DNA Circles for Robin:

John Nicholas Whisenant and Nancy Thompson are husband and wife but how is Robin connected to them?
I searched our tree to find a Whisenant ancestor but could not find anyone with that name in our family tree.   My old Personal Ancestral File (PAF) software has a feature that will search in the notes field of thousands of ancestors.  The PAF search revealed that Robin's ancestor, Charles Thomas Pritchard was buried in the Whisenant Cemetery in Snowball, Searcy County, Arkansas.  That seems like a good place to focus the search for the new ancestors discovered by the DNA test.

We are now in the process of getting Robin's mom, Irma Fitzpatrick tested.  Robin expected a little more Irish due to the Fitzpatrick ancestry.  It will be interesting to see how much Irish shows up in Irma's ethnicity results.  We are also encouraging all of our siblings and cousins to get tested. We are excited to find more pieces in our Ancestor Puzzles!

Monday, September 21, 2015

My DNA Results & Surprises!

The good news is that my DNA results confirm the identity of my parents!  What was surprising is that my Sicilian ancestry is very diverse in its origins.  Here is my Ethnicity Overview:

-My Ethnicity Overview-
I was surprised by the Middle East ethnicity.

My genealogy research in Sicily tells me that I have seven generations of Cimino ancestors dating back to Rosario Cimino born about 1740 in the Siracusa province.  I feel pretty confident based on this research that I am 25% Sicilian.  However, the ethnic origins of Sicily in ancient history appear to be influenced by the Middle East, Italy/Greece and the Iberian peninsula.  I would be very interested to compare my ethnicity estimate to others with Sicilian heritage. I would also like to encourage all of my close relatives to get tested.

Ethnicity Detail with map showing my ancient origins.
A new feature on the Ancestry DNA results is the DNA circle.  I have DNA circles for both maternal and paternal ancestors.  For example, the DNA results tell me that I am a descendant of John Jacob Main.  My family tree on my maternal side confirms this.  I share DNA with other descendants of John Jacob Main, my 3rd Great-Grandfather (1794-1872).

I am also in a DNA circle for my paternal ancestor, Thomas David Newman.  He is my 4th Great-Grandfather (1788-1848)

Gravestone of Thomas D. Newman in Big White Lick Regular Baptist Cemetery in Pittsboro, Hendricks County, Indiana

Other surprises in the ethnicity are that I have trace amounts of African, Native American and East Asian ancestry.

The North African component is easy to explain with the proximity to Sicily.  The East Asian and the Native American ethnicity is much more mysterious.  I have ordered a kit for my dad so it will be interesting to find out if he shares any of these trace amounts of ethnicity.  I encourage all of my readers to get tested.  It has been well worth the investment for the entertainment value alone.  I especially encourage all of my close relatives to get tested.  I am very happy to learn that my origins are much more global than I imagined.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Libraries- A Tale of Two Claytons

The Clayton Library in Houston was one of the many reasons why I moved to the Gulf Coast of Texas from Northern California.  The Clayton Library is recognized as one of the nation’s top genealogical research collections.  It received this mark of distinction for its extensive collections covering the entire United States, as well as international sources for Europe, Canada, and Mexico.  In addition, Clayton has 100% of its books in open stacks for public access. The Clayton houses nearly 100,000 research volumes, holds over 3,000 periodical titles, and has an extensive microfilm collection.

The Main Building of the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research at 5300 Caroline Street in Houston, Texas opened to the public in 1988.
The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research covers a two city block area in the heart of the Houston Museum District at 5300 Caroline Street.  Originally, the genealogy section of the Houston Public Library (HPL) was located in the Julia Ideson Building in downtown Houston.  The genealogy collection was moved to the Clayton House in 1968.  This property was donated to the HPL by William Lockhart Clayton (1880-1966), a prominent statesman and business leader and his wife, Susan Ada Vaughan (1881-1960).

The historic home of William and Susan Clayton became the Clayton Genealogical Library in 1968.
The continued growth of the collection and tremendous increase in use stimulated plans for a larger facility. The property now consists of four buildings: the Main Library Building, the historic Clayton Home, the Clayton Guest House and Clayton Carriage House.  The historic property went through a 7 million dollar renovation that was completed in 2009.

The two story, Main Building built in 1988, contains 23,000 square feet.  The first floor houses the main genealogy book collection, two small conference rooms, seating for 100 customers, work areas, and the unique collection of over 15,000 published and unpublished family histories.  The second floor houses an extensive microprint collection.

Dr. Mayme Agnew Clayton, Ph.D. (1923-2006)

Last week, I discovered another Clayton Library located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.  The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum (MCLM) maintains the world's largest collection of rare books, documents, films, music, photographs and memorabilia on the history and culture of Americans of African descent.  The flagship Literary Collection contains over 30,000 volumes including a rare copy of Phillis Wheatley's poems published in 1773.  The Literary Collection is particularly strong in the arts, pre-Civil War, sports, children's literature and the history of blacks in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California and the American West.  The mission of the MCLM is to collect, preserve, exhibit and celebrate the unique history and cultural heritage of Americans of African descent.

Poems by Phillis Wheatley are part of MCLM collection of rare books.
I had the opportunity to tour the museum with the Director, Lloyd Clayton.  He walked me through the galleries, archives, and meeting facilities located at 4130 Overland Avenue in Culver City in the "Heart of Screenland".  The MCLM was originally founded as the Western States Black Research Center in 1975 by his mother, Dr. Mayme Agnew Clayton, Ph.D. (1923-2006).  For more than four decades, Dr. Clayton single-handedly amassed the world's largest independently held collection of African American history materials.  Dr. Clayton spent her time and resources collecting these artifacts "So children will know that black people have done great things."

The MCLM offers vital educational, artistic and cultural programs that include research for scholars, students and genealogists.  The library  partners with the California African American Genealogical Society, Inc (CAAGS) by providing meeting space and access to the library and archives.  For more information on the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum, visit their website and Facebook page.

Both of these institutions are known locally as the "Clayton Library."  Both libraries are filled with unique treasures for historians and genealogists.  I am headed to the Clayton Library in Houston, this week.  I plan to spend much more time at the Clayton Library in Culver City on my next visit to Los Angeles.

Another historic coincidence of the connection between Los Angeles and Houston. Read more about the Los Angeles to Houston Freedom Ride.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day- Occupational Research

Labor Day is a good time to reflect on the occupations of our ancestors.  My great grandfather, Antonino Cimino, was a contadino or peasant farm laborer in Sicily.  He immigrated to Omaha, Nebraska in 1906 and the 1910 census shows that he worked as a laborer for the railroad.
Antonino moved his family to Sioux City, Iowa about 1912.  On his 1918 World War I draft card, his occupation was written as:  Laborer, C.M. St. P. at 22nd St. Yards, Sioux City, Iowa.  The abbreviation stands for Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad also known as the "Milwaukee Road".  The 1920 census states that "Tony" was working in the Round House at the rail yard.  Today the yard has been turned into a museum known as the Milwaukee Yard.  A visit to this museum is on my bucket list!  In the meantime, we all can take a mini tour of the Railroad Shops here.

My grandfather, Richard Cimino, worked in a packing house in Sioux City, according to the 1930 census.  By 1947, he had moved to Sacramento, California.  I was able to trace his work history through the Sacramento city directories:

  • 1947 casing worker, Andrew DeWied Casing Company.
  • 1949 his occupation changed to "driver" no company name listed.
  • 1952 laborer with State Division of Highways
  • 1953 stockman with State Division of Highways
  • 1956 clerk State Dept of Public Works
  • 1958-1975 storekeeper State Division of Highways
  • 1977 retired

My father, Richard J. Cimino, worked while going to school  at a service station and also baled hay.   After high school, he worked as an Electrician Apprentice for 18 months but did not like that there were periods of unemployment in the construction industry.  From 1956 to 1986,  he was employed by Pacific Telephone as a supply man, installer, repairman and desk man on the test board. While in Woodland in the 1950's, he worked the graveyard shift supplying the trucks for the next day.  There was a tomato field next to his building. He would pick ripe tomatoes and sprinkle them with salt for a delicious snack.  

In Sacramento, he worked at 24th & S Streets, as a supply man and later as an installer.  He enjoyed going to the homes of customers when he was a telephone installer, especially the older homes.   Sometimes he would offer to buy their unwanted trash that became his treasure.  On one occasion, I remember that Dad took us to an old house that he had serviced so we could dig antique bottles in the backyard. Dad has always had a passion for antiques and collectibles.  

My father drove a truck similar to this one while employed with Pacific Bell in Sacramento and Santa Rosa.
When I worked for the phone company in the summers of 1973 &1974, I drove a Ford Econoline at Lake Tahoe.
When I was in college, Dad was able to get me a summer job with the phone company.  He transferred to Santa Rosa and he says that was the best thing that ever happened to him.  He loved the weather and the people of Sonoma County.  After retirement from the phone company, he was employed as a school bus driver for the Windsor School District.  He was fully retired by 1996.  His retirement business has been buying and selling collectible toy cars.  He had a camper van that he used to travel to toy shows inscribed with "Cimino's Machines in Miniature."



One of my clients is interested in documenting her ancestor's occupational experience as a cowboy on the Chisolm Trail.  The 1867 Settlement in Texas City is already well documented as a "Freedom Village" founded by ex-slaves who were cowboys on the Butler Ranch in Galveston County.  All are welcome to join the 5th Annual historical street festival in celebration of the 1867 Settlement Historical District. The event will include a parade, a trail ride and a new historical exhibit.  See the flyer below for more information.

WHEN: September 26, 2015 @ 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
WHERE: 1867 Settlement Historical District & Bell House Museum
106 South Bell Drive
Texas City, TX 77591
COST: Free
CONTACT: Cynthia at 409-770-3085 or Frankie at 409-599-1967