Sunday, April 7, 2019

#50- Schooling and Quakers - Scholarships and College

Higher education (a BA or BS degree and above) for most of the history of the United States has been reachable to only a few: the determined, qualified and monied (or, more recently, those who qualify for student loans).

US colleges initially begun for training ministers in denominations set up the seminary for this purpose, and then they became more broadly defined.

My earliest ancestors were either Quakers or of a denomination which did not have a seminary. The Quakers taught their children (of their community) the basics: reading, writing and ciphering (basic arithmetic). Their incentive was to keep careful records of their "Meetings" (worship centers as they called their churches) as well as committee meetings and monthly and yearly meetings for business (which included aspects of approval and disapproval).

For this reason as well as their belief that men and women are equal, they instructed both girls and boys in the basics.

Generational generosity is so valuable. That's one reason I'm motivated to write personal history: it's generational (me) generosity.

My mother's father Charles B Tilton went to Penn State (State College, PA) on an academic scholarship. He wanted to do horticulture but the scholarship was for dairy farm management. He took it.

He met his wife (my grandmother) there. Her father had close connections with the college through his efforts in setting up all sorts of special programs dealing with fruit growing and transportation.

My grandmother Elizabeth C Tyson was attending college because Quakers believed in schooling for women (this was in the early 1920s) and her father got a break, or a scholarship, I cannot figure out which.

Their daughter, my mother, went to Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island on a scholarship. She loved the fine arts, but was offered a scholarship in textile design. She took it.

My mother met my father in Providence on a blind date. His parents had gone only through grammar school (about 8th grade, but probably more like a 6th grade education because the schools were poor inner city schools).

My father was able to go to college because he qualified for a US Navy scholarship. When they provided the list of colleges he could chose from, he selected the one at the top of the list, not thinking they were alphabetized. So, he chose Brown in Providence. He had a full scholarship.

My husband's parents were not college-educated. His father had a learning disability and never finished high school.

My husband visited a friend who went to college (he was in his final year in high school). He stopped by the admissions office and talked to the people there. When the interviewer asked if he was going to apply my husband told him his parents didn't have enough money for him to go to school. The interviewer told him about the World of Scholarships.

He applied and got a 99% ride, enough money for him to attend college where I met him.

Our two children both applied for scholarships--one had a small loan because he went to a college with a small endowment, the other son had  75% of his college costs covered.

My grandfather worked in WW2 Intelligence and then in the Reconstruction of Europe,
my father got his PhD in Economics, my mother got a masters in Fine Arts and works in fine arts,
my husband got two masters and a PhD in political science. One son has a Masters in Latin American Studies and the other did a double major in college and does stand up and IT.

If you have a dime--give it to a good college's endowment fund--the generational generosity might make a huge difference!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

#49- DNA, DNA, DNA and more DNA

DNA - the Craze that is Sweeping the Genealogical World
If you're just browsing genealogy, it's hard not to notice the DNA craze.
What you shouldn't expect from DNA is _too_ much. DNA is like buying a lottery ticket with greater chance of a pay out: sometimes  you get nothing for your money, and sometimes you get a lot more than expected.

In my case I took the DNA test and asked my father to do so for a very specific reason. I could only go so far with genealogical records: his paternal grandfather was missing from his father's birth record. 
I thought I might find a collateral descendant (if this fellow had other children).

My father who most of the DNA hullabaloo was nonsense (except for medical research) but consented to do his DNA for this particular reason. He had received not his paternal name, but his father's mother's name (Higgins) DNA could help us crack the case.

Five months rolled by and I received a message from AncestryDNA. "You might be my cousin." It turns out that the woman who contacted me had had her own father do his DNA. 

She was able to fill in the stories and give me some leads which I can pursue in research:

She told me three of her father's great uncles immigrated from Ireland to New York City at the turn of the century. They lost contact with the family in the old country. 

According to family stories, one moved to California and died in San Francisco, and the other two brothers remained in the greater New York area.

The brothers owned a liquor store in lower Manhattan, not far from where my great grandmother worked. 

In our case the DNA test confirmed that my father and her father had the same grandparents in County Cavan,Ireland. I now know my great grandfather's name, and his parents, and so on.

We also found out that my father's last name, had they wed, would have been Cassidy and not Higgins.

My husband's sisters wanted to find out their ethnicity from their brother's (my husband's) DNA. 

But DNA doesn't work that way, as some children will have a greater % of one ethnicity than the other. 
And, current DNA ethnicities are built around living data profiles of DNA, so the DNA of  a long distant ancestor is likely very different from your grandparents' of the same area. 

My all four of my husband's sisters contributed their DNA. With the DNA of 4 children (1 is deceased) of the same parents, we got about an 80% degree level of accuracy with regard to their ethnic makeup.

But, it was somewhat redundant. None of their ethnic background surprised us because we had a family tree that was filled out fairly accurately.

What's the use of DNA? 
1 Linking a family tree to a DNA test is probably the best thing you can do (unless you are looking for a missing parent).

2 Tie up "loose ends" - Take care of loose ends and brick walls. 

My grandfather's paternity was a loose end. DNA helped us find his family. 

But, my husband has a similar situation:
there is a family story that attributes a gr grandfather who died suddenly. 

He left no other children, no mark, no wedding license with his Canadian wife, and to make things worse for a researcher, his name was John Johnson of Boston. 
 That doesn't narrow the field at all. 

My husband has done a DNA test, linked his tree to it, and he has also done a Y-DNA test. 

We're still waiting for a "tug" on the line.
And many days I wonder if his gr grandfather was John Johnson of Sweden in Boston, after all.