Day 4–June 20–Trains, Buses,and Ruins
The plan for today was to see the castle and cathedral ruins in St. Andrews, along with the coastline of the Fife. I ended up taking the train from Waverly Station to Kirkcaldy for 9.50 pounds (round trip) and then a bus (X60) from Kirkcaldy to St. Andrews for 8.60 pounds (day pass). I chose the train for the first segment because it promised (and delivered) the best views of the coast and the bridges over the Firth of Forth. I chose the bus for the second segment for the same reason. While in Kirkcaldy, I stopped at the museum, it is worth 20 minutes if you are in town but not a special trip. The bus stops in numerous small coastal towns and is quite interesting if a little long. All totaled, it took 3.5 hours to get to St. Andrews, including the museum visit in Kirkcaldy.
The view of the firth was spectacular, and interesting for the idle offshore drilling rigs.
St. Andrews is worth the trip, but the castle and cathedral ruins are, well, ruins, so it is important to understand that. The interpretative displays are in many ways the key. The town is a fun college town where all of the buildings are quite old.
While waiting for the bus back to Edinburgh or Kirkcaldy, wait at the St. Andrews University Student Union; the food is inexpensive and good, and the Wi-Fi is free with no intrusive registration. The Wi-Fi registration at the Costa Coffee shop is quite intrusive.
- Written by Bruce Moore
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Day 3–June 19–Hiking to Arthur‘s Seat
We started the day with breakfast at the hotel and realized that they really were not staffed for the volume of people that they had, so we plan to get there much earlier tomorrow. After breakfast, I started off to find a notebook for Kristin, an additional UK power adapter, and a copy of Rick Steves’ Scotland book to replace the one I left on my desk at home. Shortly after I started off, Kristin texted that the library sold notebooks, so I could crossthat off. I stopped at the Travel Information center near Waverly and got some good information on running down my errands.
I made the walk down Prince’s Street to WaterStone’s and found that they have notebooks, but not Rick Steves’ books. They have a very good selection of maps, so we will probably make a trip back later in the weekt to get some maps for Glasgow. I found the power adapter at a computer store a couple of doors down.
I now started in on my main plan for the day–a hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat, a 275 meter hill that offers a great view of Edinburgh. I headed up to the Royal Mile and turned left to go down to Hollyrude Palace. I stopped for tea about 3/4 of the way down to the palace, and made good progress in planning out my week while I watched the passers by on the Royal Mile. I continued on to Hollyrude Palace, where I picked up the trail to the summit. This is a moderately strenuous hike and you will want decent shoes or boots, though there were women doing it in flip-flops, at least near the bottom. I don't think I saw any flip-flops at the top.
The hike is about the same difficulty as the Enchanted Rock hike in Texas. The counter clockwise route is analogous to a 1/3 scale sea-level version of the Pinnacles trail in Big Bend National Park, with steps for the majority of the vertical gain. The clockwise version is longer but easier and is just a steep walking path until the last 50 meters of elevation gain, where it turns into steps and rubble.
For dinner, we went to a run-down pub close to the hotel and had forgetable fish and chips. I had a half-pint of Strong Bow cider while Kristin had a half-pint of McEwan’s; we both liked our respective choices.
After dinner, we went for a walk to find an ATM, and ended up walking through the Princes Street Gardens, where we found a community Scottish dance group meeting. For 5 pounds, you could get into the stands and join in the dancing. It reminded me of the Friday night crowd in Rennes.
- Written by Bruce Moore
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DNA Testing for Genealogy
Several friends have asked for advice on DNA testing for studying their family history; this is a summary of advice for 2017.
Be Prepared for Surprises
The first thing that I tell people is to be prepared for surprises:
- If you have white ancestors who lived in the South during the slavery and reconstruction eras, it is highly probable that you will get a DNA match from a second, third, fourth or fifth cousin who is black. Slave owners raped female slaves, who then got pregnant and had children. Given the number of fourth cousins that you have, it is almost a certainty that you will have at least one genetic match who is black.
- Your parents or grandparents may not be your biological parents or grandparents. It is not routine, but it is also not unusual for your dad not to be your dad.
- You may discover siblings that your mom or grandmother had out of wedlock. Again, this is not routine, but it is also not unusual.
- Some relatives may have committed crimes with no (or very long) statutes of limitations (or think someone else did) and may be adamantly opposed to DNA testing for no apparent reason. The genealogy DNA testing services intentionally fail to keep an evidentiary chain of custody, but this will not allay the fears of some family members.
Who Should You Test?
The short answer is the oldest living generation that you can. The long answer depends upon the specific genealogical research problems that you are trying to solve. To prove/disprove a particular relationship from the late 1700s, I am trying to find someone provably descended from a potential male direct line who has done a Y-DNA test. We would not know whether we are related until after testing has been done.
Generally, try to get tests from parents and grandparents who are living, and then look for specific people to solve specific problems.
What Tests Should You Purchase
The key for all of the testing services is to get a DNA sample, and have a single test done. Once they have a sample, they can do additional tests from that sample at a later date as your are willing to spend more money. The short answer for parents and grandparents is everything:
- For men, get a Y-DNA, autosomal DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests done.
- For women, get both autosomal and mitochondrial DNA tests done.
Only men can take this test. It can prove/disprove a match the direct paternal line for many generations, as there is no dilution from one generation to the next, and the mutation rate is generally about one every four generations.
Both men and women can take this test. It can identify the presence of a relationship back about four or five generations, but it will not tell you what the relationship is. It is diluted 50% with each generation, and is thus limited to about five generations.
Both men and women can take this test. It can prove/disprove a match for the direct maternal line for many generations.
Both men and women can take this test. This is a specialized test that is useful only proving very specific relationships.
Which Service Should You Use
This is a long complicated subject; people with unlimited budgets test with all of the services, since the value of each service is related to the number of people who test with that service. Some of the services allow you to unload data from competing services and upload it to their service, but this is not universal and changes from year to year. The key to testing parents and grandparents is to get a sample kit activated at both the Family Tree DNA and Ancestry DNA services. It probably helps to outline the major testing services:
- Family Tree DNA
- Autosomal (Family Finder)
- Ancestry DNA
- 23 and Me
All of the services offer an estimate of your ethnic origins; those who have tested with multiple services laugh at this, as each service gives different, and sometimes significantly different results.
If your parents or grandparents are the first generation to immigrate to the US, you may want to look at testing with MyHeritage, as it may have a larger European population for matching.
Test Men with Family Tree DNA and Optionally Ancestry DNA and/or MyHeritage
Family Tree DNA is the only service that offers the Y-DNA test, so you should get a kit from Family Tree DNA and do at least the Y-DNA test with them. You can do an autosomal test with either Ancestry or Family Tree DNA. I would recommend getting kits from both, doing Y with Family Tree DNA, and autosomal with Ancestry, then upload your Ancestry autosomal info to Family Tree DNA. At a later date, you can optionally order an autosomal or X-DNA test from Family Tree DNA. The key for testing parents and grandparents is to get the samples to each of the services.
Test Women with Family Tree DNA and Optionally with Ancestry DNA and/or MyHeritage
It is not clear that Ancestry offers a mitochondrial test, so I recommend ordering a mitochondrial test from Family Tree DNA and an autosomal test from Ancestry, then upload your Ancestry autosomal info to Family Tree DNA. At a later date, you can optionally order an autosomal or X-DNA test from Family Tree DNA.
For Genetic Diseases, Test with 23 and Me
For most people I would not recommend testing with 23 and Me due to concerns about privacy. Both Family Tree DNA and Ancestry DNA were created primarily for genealogical research and intentionally chose genetic markers that have no known disease information; if you testing results were to become public, it would not have an effect on your insurability.
The Dallas Genealogical Society has a DNA Special Interest Group that meets at the downtown library on the third Thursday evening each month.
- Written by Bruce Moore
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Day 2– June 18–Edinburgh Castle and Seminar Dinner
We started the day with sleeping in, checking out of the Hub Haymarket Hotel, taking the tram to the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel that was part of the NEHGS research tour, and breakfast. First, the hotel Hub Haymarket is a very convenient and inexpensive hotel if you are planning a trip to Edinburgh. It is one minute from the tram line, and a 10 minute tram ride to the Scottish National Archives. The food choices are limited, but we found a great Vietnamese place about 50 yards away. The Apex Waterloo Place is a full service business hotel that is centrally located with prices to match.
We had breakfast at Pep and Fodder, a few doors down from the Apex Waterloo hotel where the seminar is based. This could become our culinary home base–inexpensive and good. We walked up to the Royal Mile and turned right (W) to head to Edinburgh Castle, where we spent the afternoon. The Royal Mile reminded both of us of the Rambla in Barcelona; one of the highlights was a Celtic quartet that talked a group of Irish college students (all women) into doing an Irish dance. They were far from Riverdance, but it was clear that they all knew the basics. When visiting the castle, make sure to stop for tea at the Red Coat tea room on the north side of the castle. Go the north room (not immediately obvious) and get a table near the windows to enjoy your tea. The view is incredible; this is a great place to regroup and figure out the plan for the second half of your visit. For photography, late afternoon provides some great opportunities.
Kristin returned to the hotel at 2:30 to get ready for the 3:00 to 5:00 orientation session for the seminar, and I returned at 4:30 in time to shower and nap before the 6:00 dinner at Howie's, where I had haggis, neeps and peeps for the first time. I will do this again; haggis is much better tasting than it sounds. It is really just a peppery sausage without the casing.
Dinner was a lot of fun with discussion on Segues, Master Genealogist, GRAMPS as a replacement for Master Geanalogist (see tmg2gramps by Coherent Software, LaTeX and frustrations with genealogical citation, lasers, physics, laser physics, and a host of interesting topics.
- Written by Bruce Moore
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