Graveyard Symbolism Program

The society will be sponsoring a Graveyard Symbolism program at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Dennison Railway Chapel, 301 Grant St. Speaker will be Randall Neff, cemetery chairman of the Guernsey County Genealogical Society.

The program will focus on the various types of burial grounds found in eastern Ohio, how to “read” a burial ground, burial ground safety and the various types of symbols carved on gravestones.

DNA 101 – The Basics of Genetic Genealogy Testing

Wednesday, April 10th, we had an amazing program given by Mary Milne Jamba. I must say, I went into this program with reservations about DNA testing. She calmed my fears and provided information that now has me considering the test.

Mary explained you must first realize the purpose of why you are testing. Some reasons for testing include – verifying your existing research, proving or disproving suspected relationships, or discovering living relatives.

And she went on to remind us that our results may not be what we expect. Many people are finding results that are rather startling. Siblings that you didn’t know you had, parental results can be um, not what you expected either. You must be prepared for these results.

Mary explained in great detail about the types of DNA testing – Mitochondial (mtDNA), Y-chromosome (Y-DNA), and Autosomal (atDNA). To highlight the difference – mtDNA is testing that only shows your mother’s side through mother-daughter relationships. It can take you back 22 generations. Y-DNA is testing done showing the relationships through father-son. And at-DNA shows all relationships through both male and female sides of your family.

Since 2012, most testing has become at-DNA. Mary told us that not to expect too many matches beyond 2nd cousins as you may not share any DNA with 3rd cousins.  You have about a 5% chance of sharing any DNA with 4th cousins. In percentages you should expect to share 45-55% DNA with siblings, 25% with nieces/nephews/aunts/uncles/grandparents. And first cousins, the percentage drops to 12.5%.

There are several companies providing testing at this time. Pricing is relatively the same also. The companies Mary mentioned are – 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritageDNA. The big difference between the testing sites – the size of the database. 23andMe and Ancestry have databases with over 10 million entries. The other two sites are showing databases with only 2 million entries or less.

National DNA Day is April 25. It commemorates the day in 1953 when James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of DNA.

Expect sale prices on DNA kits for the holiday.

The Tuscarawas Co. Genealogical Society would like to thank Ms. Jamba for providing such an informative program.


Bob Smith presented ‘Amish Funerals’ this evening

Tonight the TCGS members enjoyed listening to a presentation given by Bob Smith. Mr. Smith is the owner and operator of both Smith Ambulance and Smith Funeral Homes. His funeral home in Sugarcreek serves the Amish community in the area. Mr. Smith explained the difference between our ‘English’ funerals and the Amish funerals.

‘English’ funerals are evolving with our fast paced life styles. No longer do we have the traditional obituary in the newspaper, followed by one or two nights of calling hours, a service, and burial. Today, many don’t have an obituary, or calling hours, or even burial. Cremation has changed the ‘normal’ services.

Amish funerals are more of a ‘grass roots’ funeral according to Mr. Smith. The Amish community has a tried and true established way of doing things. When the funeral home is alerted of a death a certain process is put into action. The obituary is immediately written up. Many times before the body is removed from the home. The obituary must be in the next day’s paper as calling hours begin the day after death.

Each Amish church has their own coffin maker. The funeral home must go to the shop and pick up the casket. Then the body is returned to the deceased’s home for the calling hours. At day three after the passing, is the funeral.

Amish services are attended in mass. Many times Mr. Smith must print between 600-1000 memorial folders. Neighbors come to the home of the deceased do help with chores, animal care, and food prep for the funeral. The graves are hand dug in family cemeteries.

Thank you, Mr. Smith, for taking the time to present your knowledge with us.