Tag: genes

Historical Imaging



Showcasing images I’ve created, composited and/or altered in order to make historical situations, places or circumstances more readily accessible to as many people as possible.

This grew out of my effort–shared with anyone who gets intricately lost in making family trees–of trying to find relevant imagery to use for people of whom no pictures exist (e.g., anyone who lived before the 1840s). But not just relevant, you really want to push it further and find images that are interesting, too. Or at least I do. And accurate, for instance, to the time when a particular ancestor or historical personage might have actually lived or been at a given location. So from these endeavors, the following sampling of images.

First Example

This is Château de Jumilhac, a castle south of Limoges in southwestern France. In the course of working on a friend’s family tree, I learned some of his ancestors had been ChteaudeJumilhacleGrand copyinvolved in actually building it back in the 1200s. (!!) They’d been among its lords, too, for 150 years or so. After first thinking, aha! whatta sweet image to use for that string of ancestors, I learned as I read more about them and it, that the conical rooftops (that will surely strike Americans as quintessentially “fairy-tale”) were added hundreds of years after his family had been on the scene in the depths of the actual Middle Ages. Well I couldn’t use a historically inaccurate image, so I did something about it.

ChteaudeJumilhacleGrandOLD copy



This is much closer to what it would have looked like to the de Bruchard family as they knew it.




An older photograph also lent itself to easy changing:


















So the examples here are each within a category:

  • People & Location
  • Now to Then
  • Obsolete Professions
  • SketchUp 4 Teaching History
  • Now to Then 2 (showing elements)

People & Location

  1. Swedish origin spot of my great-grandmother and 3 generations of her people


South-central Sweden, Vastragotaland.


2. Recent Dukes of Argyll at their seat, Inverary Castle, Scotland

DUKE 11 1


Now to Then

  1. View from the Mayflower

2. Castle Hornby

On the left, as seen around 1900 (& today); on the right, as it was when my ancestor lived there (incidentally, just about the last–my most recent–ancestor to reside in a castle…500 years ago!)


Obsolete professions

Two variations


SketchUp 4 Teaching History

  1. Construction of the White House (the Executive’s Mansion) in the 1790s in Washington, D.C.

These are views of a multi-layered SketchUp model I’ve built of various stages of the White House’s construction. Here we see the foundation as it was originally laid down in 1791-2. The layers reflect the actual materials, orientation and configuration learned from researching primary source material (such as reports of the crew who laid the new foundations in the 1950s as to what they found as well as reports of Thomas jeffereson, architect Benjamin Latrobe and others involved in the early days of the building). The close-up is the northwest corner, seen from just a few feet south and west of it.


Here’s the southern facade, seen from the southeast, depicted as the Limestone facing began to be mounted on the brick walls.

And the same face seen from the southwest, a little further along in the process:












And here’s the north (properly, the front) as it neared completion. (The portico that we know today  was not added until the 1820s).


Now to Then 2 (showing elements)

Here you can see various elements that went in to the image at the very top of the page (the black & white 1800s looking street).

That’s Liverpool, England. Specifically, Vauxhall Road, looking across it from near where my gr-gr-grandad, a guy named Edward Dunn, had a business in the 1870s, to the intersection with Blacklock Street, toward the site of Vauxhall Gardens, a housing project that was destroyed in WWII during the Blitz just before Xmas 1940.




Composite of contemporary shot (made B&W) with old shot.






Composite of two images; the corner building has been added to the street shot. I then added this with the B&W version of the current corner seen in the shot above this to get the image seen at the very top of the page.

This is the current shot, unaltered.




And the combo with the building destroyed by Nazi bombs in WWII is below again for easy comparison.






Brothers Pt. 3 – Y-DNA Haplogroup Trees

AFRICA L2R copy 2

Welcome to the third part of this little spree of posts on Y-DNA and the worldwide lines of descent, wherein you’ll find haplogroup trees of the world’s men. Those men have been the agents and embodiments of its (Y-DNA’s) dispersal. Here are links to Part 1 & Part 2.

In this post I’m sharing more detailed charts I’ve made showing these descents, first of which is a slight revision of the first one I posted showing the African “trunk” of what I’m calling the world’s brothers. The main difference is simply that it’s oriented left to right instead of top down; I’ve also added some brief explanatory notes on it. Again, all the charts I post should be clicked on and then opened again at their max size.

Y-DNA African haplogroup tree, Y DNA, Y chromosome, african y-dna, y-dna haplogroup A, y-dna haplogroup B, y-dna haplogroup A00, chris rock y-dna, y-chromosomal adam, spencer wells, genographic, human migration, human family tree

And next is the branch that came from “CT Little Brother” in the chart above. CT is the working designation of the Y-DNA haplogroup of the men who first left the garden-like cradle of Africa about 72,000 years ago, and from whom 90% of the world’s men descend.

YDNA tree haplogroup CT, Y-DNA haplogroup CT chart, Y-DNA haplogroup CT, Y-DNA haplogroup DE, Y-DNA halpogroup E, Y-DNA haplogroup F, y chromosome haplogroup CT, out of africa migration, y haplogroup d, y haplogroup e, genghis khan dna, richard iii y dna

Next we have “The Rest” of us, the Brothers. It’s worth noting that almost all of the migrations demonstrated in these charts were back in the Old Stone Age (Paleolithic period).

Y-DNA haplogroup tree, Y-DNA haplogroup IJ, Y-DNA haplogroup R, Y-DNA haplogroup O, Y chromosome r, china y-dna, europe y-dna, viking y-dna,

And last for today is this amazingly elegant & simplified version of the big picture from a great site called The Genetic Atlas:


Thanks for visiting! And as always, if you share any of these Y-DNA haplogroup trees, just link back here or attribute them otherwise.

Brothers Pt.2

ydna basx.png

I made this chart to just show the basics of what’s up with Y-DNA to give context for anyone who wants or needs it to yesterday’s post.

And the map below puts it in a geographic context. Always click on images like this map or charts so you can see them larger, more easily and in detail. Cuz it turns out that the degree to which we humans are just such a mix is truly astounding. This migration route maps only begins to hint at that.

More later today! Watch this National Geographic documentary if you haven’t seen it.


Respect Pt. 1: The Real Big Brother…& His Little Brothers

Men of the world descend–as is now widely known and almost universally accepted, thankfully–from a shared ancestor dude who lived and died in Africa some 200 thousand years ago. Crazy, huh!

In a very real sense, those men who are still in Africa, and many in America who are the great-great-great-(& them some, in many cases)-grandsons of men who were stolen from Africa are the actual big brothers of allllll the rest of us.

If you conceptualize it collapsing time it’s easier to grasp the familial, sibling (& then uncle, nephew) type dynamic of relationships: they are our elder brothers, the ones we (should) look up to etc sorta just by dint of the fact that they’re the ones who have been here, doing this whole living thing longer than we have. It’s a good thing.



Of Richard III and the Once and Future Plantagenet Y-DNA


If you’ve clicked here from my Richard III Y-DNA article on Global Family Reunion’s blog, you’re welcome to skip ahead, just a little further down the page to where you see a picture of an artistic model of DNA on the left and a photo of an actual chromosome on the right.

If you’ve arriving from anywhere else: hey there! Thanks for clicking in. The following briefly explains what you’ll find.

This post is serving as a means to share additional details about the amazing discovery of the remains of England’s King Richard III (1452-1485) and the scientific study from the University of Leicester in the UK that announced this item of historical as well as genealogical interest to many around the world. I wrote an article about it which is living happily ever after on the blog of the Global Family Reunion, linked through the previous words.

The Global Family Reunion, if you haven’t yet heard about it, and didn’t just click on the link in the previous paragraph, is an event scheduled in Queens, New York City the 1st week of June this year (2015), aimed at drawing the attention of as many people as possible to the incontrovertible fact that all 7 billion of us human beings are literally related to each other. As such, it’s really the 1st GFRpop-media event intentionally aimed at trying to impart to people exactly what the value-adds of genealogy ted1and family history are. It’s the effort, not of some nutty genealogy freak who’s been in the archives so long and just wants to waggle a finger at people showing off his own status, or pedigree, or anything like that. Nor is it some stuffy historian who wants to “teach the world” something. And that’s probably what makes it potentially actually appealing to lots and lots of people. GFR is the effort of humorous intellectual pop-writer A.J. Jacobs. Click here to read my rundown on how he got this idea. And do click on their site, too, to find out what’s going down at the event (Henry Louis Gates, Jr., host of the PBS family tree show “Finding Your Roots” will be a speaker; so will former US President Geo H.W. Bush; and the founder of FamilyTreeDNA…games for the kids…etc.) In addition, if this is your 1st time at this site, Roots2Now, you can browse or search around as there are lots of posts on my own family tree (Ireland, Italy, Campbells, Bilderbacks, new Swedes & older Swedes) as it merges with other people’s and historical convergences etc. Well-tracked & thus widely shared ancestors get more attention than others since they literally do represent the places where our paths connect with those of strangers…and sometimes people much closer!


The Skipping-to PlaceMEEKSLUCKY2

Actual-X-and-Y-chromosomes-side-by-sideSo since the basic rundown is living happily at the GFR blog, I figured I’d use my page to share some of the more detailed aspects and charts that I hope help maintain clarity or bring some where it seems to get muddy.

For all this potential interest to historians and dynastic genealogists the findings on the Y-DNA might be engendering, that part of the skeleton’s genetics was not going to be able to help determine if the skeleton was Richard III or not. Another equally unique and highly y-and-mitospecific bit of the skeleton’s genome got the spotlight in contributing some very solid data by which it can be reasonably concluded thaty-and-mit2 indeed skeleton=Richard III. And that bit–publicized a year ago–was the mT-DNA, or mitochondrial DNA, which, opposite from the Y-DNA, we all get from our mothers, and only mothers pass it to their  kids. Thus, it enables a view to people’s’ female-line ancestry. Like Y-DNA there are around 20-something kinds that anyone’s will fall into.

The goal, as with the Y-DNA, was to find relevant living relatives.

Anne_of_York_and_Sir_Thomas_St._LegerNeville,CecilyIn this case, since Richard III had the mT-DNA of his mother, Cecily Neville (1415-1495), the idea was to follow the line of her daughter’s descendants, ie, of Richard’s big sister, Anne, Duchess of York (1439-1476), though, to be more specific, it would have to be only a line of continuous female to female descent to the present day, and if no such line existed, then they would have to investigate if Cecily had sisters who had daughters, or if her mother had sisters who had daughters, etc. I take the time to mention this because Anne (pictured to the left) in fact died giving birth to her only child who would live, which happened to be a girl. But that girl, Anne St. Leger (1476-1526, & pictured lower left) had lots of kids, including daughters-plural. One of them, Katherine Manners (1511-1550) also had a ton of babies, and yes, more than one girl who grew up to in turn then do more or less or the same.


M IBSENAnd sure enough they traced down the lines and managed to track down two living people descended in the female line from Richard’s big sis Anne. It’s extremely worth pointing out, btw, that these two people–see to the right–are regular people, ie, not royalty, recently-aristrocratically-inclined or even at the “old money” part of the cycle by which most of royalty’s descendants end up not the least “royal”. I’m also descended from Anne of York through her daughter Anne and granddaughter Katherine Manners, but my DNA is totally irrelevant, since I’m descended from one of W DULDIGher sons, not to mention multiple generations of male to female and back descents. But I digress!

Richard III’s mT-DNA and that of the living relatives DID match. The “uber”-grandma was a woman named Katherine de Roet Swynford (1350-1403). The details are culled from the study.


Such Stuff as Kings Were Made of…ReDux 2



Yes, the news is finally here* on the Y-DNA of England’s King Richard III.

Last week (Dec 2) the team at the University of Leicester in the UK released its findings and details of the study it undertook on the skeletal remains found there two years ago under a parking lot of a man who’d died in the Middle Ages and had been, allegedly, when he walked the earth none other than Richard III, last king of the Plantagenet dynasty; a man infamous thanks to his portrayal by Shakespeare in the play of the same name. [King, T. E. et al. Identification of the remains of King Richard III. Nat. Commun. 5:5631 doi: 10.1038/ncomms6631 (2014).]

The richly sourced and detailed study concludes with about as much certainty as is possible that they are the remains of England’s King Richard III (1452-1485). His whole genome has been examined, and among other interesting things about that, some doubt has been cast–perhaps–on some of the historical royal succession.
Chart showing the ruling descendants of Edward III and the lines to Richard III and the living DNA donors.

John of Gaunt

Ostensible ancestor of living male-line descendants whose DNA was compared to Richard III’s.



His ostensible son, John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset.


Click here TUES DEC 23 to find the scoop on the Global Family Reunion’s blog.


the 4 living guys: R1b-U152

Richard III: G2a-P278

*(Yes, many of us out here were actually waiting with baited breath for this news item that to many must sound like it’s among the most esoteric, most meaningless bits of irrelevant trivia ever. But it’s not. If human life is defined by, or at least given shape by the fact that as pattern-recognizers we make meaning through narratives, personal & cultural, then this news serves to elucidate a key tangle of plot point in the narrative of how the world got to be the way it is just now.)

The Ballad of You, Me and Us, Too!

Picture 10

One Mr. A.J. Jacobs, an author of sort of nerdy/geeky and astute, situationally observant, general interest books (and an editor at Esquire magazine), has launched a pbiblicallyroject about family trees (which will turn into a book, along with a documentary being done by Morgan “Supersize Me” Spurlock). One of his previous books which you may have heard of or read is The Year of Living Biblically which chronicles the often hilarious and usually fascinating effort he made to follow Old Testament rules from the Bible as literally as possible.

So why family trees?

Because, as any genealogist worth their salt knows (along with geneticists & anyone with a genuine understanding of the history of life on earth, humans specifically), we humans are all pretty closely related. In fact, we are all literally related, which is to say there are a few men and a few women who lived a while back from whom every single one of us on earth alive today and who has ever lived are all descended.

There are a cascade of genuinely excellent and positive ramifications of this, and the whole package of the tangibility of our actually being one big family and that handful of awesome take-aways apparently was visited upon AJ recently when he was contacted out of the blue by someone who introduced themselves as (and is) ted1a 12th cousin of his to include him in the several-thousand-person family tree that guy was compiling. (Something pretty common amongst those who stick with researching the family tree.) As he looked into it merely out of slightly (and healthy) skepticism it seems to have opened to him like the endlessly seductive flower it can be and he found himself hooked. But more, he decided to use his position as a smart pundit to raise the general call for attention to this thing.GFR

And so he’s created an event that will occur next June 6, 2015 in Queens, New York: The Global Family Reunion, to which all 7 billion of us are invited. 🙂

In so doing, he’s inserted himself (and a starter couple of branches of his own immediate family tree of one of his grandparents and his uncle’s wife) into the global famtracking village, and so many of the most popular and useful web sites around which the genealogy world online flows are sort of partners in this global family reunion thing.

These include:


geni.com:         family tree posting site; great interface; 70 million person tree!
See if you’re related and who the actual person-to-person links were and are.


wikitree.com         quickly growing family tree posting site w/ high-standards for accuracy of family trees.
Same thing as at geni.com; but they conveniently also  give you a #: a “degree of separation”


23andme.com     genetic testing service; compare genomes w/ AJ to see if you have common ancestors.

Ok, so here’s where if gets interesting.

1.    On my 1st pass checking our relation on geni.com it showed that AJ & I are 55th cousins.

What the…?!?!?!   Really? But c’mon, really really? Ay yi yi.

Yup. We’re both descended from a certain Armenian prince from about the year 350 CE. Along with almost certainly most of the rest of the middle eastern, north african and European population (this is due to the existence of myriads of known, proven descents from European Medieval aristocracy to us commoners; and this Armenian prince is one of the ancestors common to that group, ergo: all os us in the Western World.)


…on looking more closely at his tree I realized that he’s only posted (&/or researched) but one of his grandparents; thus 75% of his ancestors (& genetic make-up) are missing. Further, the lines he does show were not only Jewish, but long lines of rabbinical families; ie, very orthodox, conservative people who were strict about marrying only fellow Jews.

In which case, the 55th cousins is put in very historically and practically enlightening contexts (one of the Killer Apps of genealogy; see this link to the points he makes about it in his TED talk about it.)

2.    Fast fwd a few weeks. I checked our relation on geni.com again (since people are always adding new info, and indeed, AJ had done that, too.) And a friend who’s posting her tree to wikitree these days also checked her relation to him there.

Whaddaya know! Much closer…well, sort of. And almost identically close as my friend turned out to be. She’s 22 degrees of separation from AJ. I’m 23 degrees. OK, so it got cut down by a little more than half, but still. I’m not satisfied that he’s my 2nd cousin 7 times removed’s husband’s 5th great-granddaughter’s husband’s nephew. (Sat THAT ten times fast, or even two times!)

Plus this new “short cut” to being related to AJ is kind of “cheating” (already noted on the awesome blog “The Genetic Genealogist”). Cuz it’s not even a relation to him. It’s to his uncle’s wife. Looks like his mom’s brother married a gentile, and like at least or roughly half of the people in the United States, she has roots that can be traced to early New England. And since so many people over the years have successfully and reliably (meaning accurately) traced their predecessors to one or more of the many families of New England circa 1620-1700, there’s a huge pool of relations that anyone who does so taps into. Ergo, AJ Jacobs’ aunt-by-marriage is related not too-too distantly to a whole bunch of us. Check this linked footnote for an explanation of this.

Why am I so unsatisfied with the 23 degrees of separation? Cuz I know that’s absurdly far off base from how close our connection is. How could I know such a thing? Didn’t I just admit that his gene pool is primarily if not entirely Jewish?

Yes, these things are true. It’s my experience of the connections I’ve discovered of myself and my kids (and thus of my ex-wife, too) and my friends and disparate family members that convinces me w/out the shadow of a doubt that a ridiculously close connection could be and would be uncovered. Here are some examples, and this 1st batch are common to many of us in America:

me & President Barack Obama: 11th cousins
me & President George W. Bush: 10th cousins
me & President Bill Clinton: 8th Cousins
me & President Ronald Reagan: 15th cousins

me & the Princes of England (Wm & Harry): 11th cousins, once removed
me & David Rockefeller: 10th cousins, once removed

Other examples:

my childhood babysitter turned out to be 6th cousins to my mom’s mom!

the friend I mentioned above (22 degrees from AJ…so far…) turns out to be 5th cousins to one of my mom’s best friends

a friend’s German great-grandad and my American grandad were some few hundred yards away from each other across the Western Front in WW-I …and I found out the precise locations…and found it out at all!

two friends’ grandparents grew up about 20 blocks apart in northern Manhattan (utterly unknown to them).


W/ the “sharing genomes” function, you can compare your genome not only to each person you share with but you can also compare all of them to each other.

Not surprisingly, AJ & I shared ZERO segments of our DNA.


On a whim I thought I’d compare AJ to my 2nd cousin, one of my 65 known 2nd cousins w/ whom I’ve always vibed and maintained a relationship (it helps that we’re both in the SF Bay Area). Why this 2nd cousin? Because his father’s father was Jewish (making him, my cousin, a quarter Jewish); and from looking into his tree and things he’s told me about it, as well, we know that one of his lines was, like AJ’s, a rabbinical line.

Et viola! Whaddaya know! Bang! Sure enough, they share a segment of DNA on chromosome #10! It’s of the length that indicates they’re somewhere between 4th and 10th cousins.

So, from being 55th cousins…
…to being my 2nd cousin 7 times removed’s husband’s 5th great-granddaughter’s husband’s nephew
…it turns out that AJ Jacobs is actually (thus far):

my 2nd cousin’s 4th-to-10th-cousin.

Said another way:

~ It turns out  I share 10% of my genes with someone (a 2nd cousin) who does actually share a segment of DNA w/ AJ of the amount that implies they are roughly 4th to 11th cousins.

Oh yeah. And then there’s this connection to AJ:

due to social selection, his bread-n-butter job in the publishing  industry happens to be filling the vacancy left by my former SuperSignificant Other.