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GEDmatch information
December 19, 2019 By: Gail Hershenzon

I received this email today and thought I would pass it on:

To GEDmatch users,

As you may know, on December 9 we shared the news that GEDmatch has been purchased by Verogen, Inc., a forensic genomics company whose focus is human ID. This sale took place only because I know it is a big step forward for GEDmatch, its users, and the genetic genealogical community. Since the announcement, there has been speculation about a number of things, much of it unfounded.

There has been concern that law enforcement will have greater access to GEDmatch user information. The opposite is true. Verogen has firmly and repeatedly stated that it will fight all unauthorized law enforcement use and any warrants that may be issued. This is a stronger position than GEDmatch was previously able to implement.

There has been concern that Verogen will eliminate GEDmatch free tools and raise Tier 1 rates. In fact, Verogen has made it clear that the free tools will remain, and there are no immediate plans to raise Tier 1 rates.

It has been reported on social media that there is a mass exodus of kits from the GEDmatch database. There has been a temporary drop in the database size only because privacy policies in place in the various countries where our users reside require citizens to specifically approve the transfer of their data to Verogen. As users grant permission, that data will again be visible on the site. We are proactively reaching out to these users to encourage them to consent to the transfer.

The sale to Verogen will be a tremendous benefit to genealogists. Verogen has pledged to continue the GEDmatch philosophy of providing free services. It recognizes that all information belongs to the users who have placed it on GEDmatch, that this information may be removed by the users at any time, and that strong privacy protections need to be in place. It is to Verogen's advantage to build the consumer database, meaning more and better matches for users. Verogen recognizes that law enforcement use of genetic genealogy is here to stay and is in a better position to prevent abuses and protect privacy than GEDmatch ever could have done on its own.

Bottom line: I am thrilled that the ideal company has purchased GEDmatch. The baby I created will now mature for the benefit of all involved. If anyone has any doubts, I may be reached at gedmatch@gmail.com. I will do my best to personally respond to all concerns.

Curtis Rogers

Another Library Gone
November 29, 2019 By: Gail Hershenzon
I once heard, at a genealogy meeting, that when someone dies, there goes a library.  That happened the day before Thanksgiving when my second-cousin-once-removed passed away.  Vera was 101 years old and, fortunately, I met her about 18 years ago and was able to hear some family stories I never would have had I not met her.  What a delight!  Her grandfather owned the large red brick home that still stands on the east side of Telegraph just north of Cherry Hill.  She lived a few blocks away on the west side of Telegraph after she married her husband, Mike.  Living in the same bungalow home for about 70 years, she was filled with stories that made us laugh and made us cry.   We were able to take a tour of the lower level of the home several years ago when the owner at that time led us through.  Even though some remodeling had been done, Vera was able to fill us in on some details about the house and had a photo of her mother and her mother's siblings sitting on their horses in front of the home.  She talked about how her grandfather cleared the 80 acres by hand and farmed it.  The vegetables were taken to Western Market and brought the leftovers home.  Vera and her siblings and cousins were required to go door to door to sell them. She did not like doing it so she told a little lie to her grandfather, stating that no one wanted any without trying to sell them.  We will miss you, Vera.  Thank you for letting me get to know you--wish it had been sooner. 
Need Language Translations?
October 19, 2019 By: Gail Hershenzon
So many times, we have documents written in foreign languages that we cannot translate let alone read some of the letters.  But there is help if you go to www.familysearch.org.  They will not translate you documents for you (unless you go to their wonderful library in Salt Lake City where you can get translations on the spot!) but these links may help you:
SeekingMichigan.org Change
August 10, 2019 By: Gail Hershenzon

As of October 1, 2019, the digital collections that are part of SeekingMichigan.org will now be found under Michiganology.org.

Ancestry.com Military Records
June 7, 2019 By: Gail Hershenzon
Just a quick note that you can search Ancestry.com through tomorrow for military records.  I just found a record for an uncle that has led to more questions about his being killed in Guam during WWII.  Sorry I am late posting this but I just found out.  Hope you find something that aids you in you research.
Genealogists vs. Copyists
March 5, 2019 By: Gail Hershenzon
I made my yearly trip to Salt Lake City a couple weeks ago and, as always, came back with a plethora of information.  Some genealogists think that everything will be available online but they couldn't be more wrong.  One roll of film I had to use was removed from the drawers and put into a back room because it was not used very much.  That also means that it probably will never be indexed on familysearch.org.  But this is also the only time I use the library version of Ancestry.com.  I do not subscribe to it because I have issues with them sending their records overseas to be indexed.  They could allow the public to do the indexing, like familysearch.org, and offer free use of their website for x number of months based on the amount they index. 
But one of my pet peeves is the family trees people post on Ancestry.com.  I avoid looking at them because they are consistently wrong and it is upsetting that people post things that they haven't bothered to check.  One tree I looked at for one of my lines was posted by someone I figured out is sort of a relative--meaning this person is married to someone in my family.  This person is a copyist, not a genealogist.  There were so many errors and I could tell that this person had not done the research but had copied it from someone else.  There are those who boast regarding the number of trees or photos or documents they put online.  As most of you, I have spent years researching in libraries or taking those fabulous road trips that lead one to experience handling original documents or looking up the houses where a great-great grandmother lived.  And then there are those, the copyists, who just collect names and dates and have no desire to find out what genealogy is really all apart. I was saddened to find a German death document of a 1st cousin four times removed.  The little six-year-old drowned in 1844 after falling in a well that was covered with snow.  Suddenly you get a sense of what it was like to be living 150 years ago and having a little one lose their life.  The family was not rich, by no means, and it took my breath away for a moment when I realized how hard that had to be for the parents.  But that is what genealogy is all about--putting ourselves into the past, knowing that all of these experiences made us what we are today.
Happy Anniversary, Woodmere!
July 14, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
Today marks the 149th anniversary of the opening of Woodmere.  It was a gala event-the mayor, dignitaries, clergymen, businessmen, and common folk gathered at Woodmere after an early rain in the day.  There were speeches, and prayers, and more speeches, and like a proud papa, John Bagley and a host of others opened the gates of Woodmere to the public.  People came in carriages and some trodded through the mud.  It was truly a rural cemetery back then with that part of Springwells Township which would not see being incorporated into the city of Detroit until 1906.  Times have changed and so has the cemetery.  Many headstones have disappeared or have fallen and have been covered over with inches of soil, with many visitors unaware of what lies beneath their feet.  People have committed suicide at Woodmere.  Graves have been robbed at Woodmere.  Mausoleums and headstones have been vandalized at Woodmere.  And yet it has survived for all these years, laying to rest the dearly beloved, only to have their stories and their secrets go with them.
But still it remains a thing of beauty and if you visit on a crisp fall day, you will see the plethora of trees trade in their green leaves for golden ones.  You will see the ducks scrambling for a morsel of food in Woodmere Lake.  You will still see the older folk carrying on the traditions of early ancestors who thought decorating the graves was something one should do.  So happy birthday! Woodmere.  May you see another 149 years.   
Times Have Changed
June 20, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
While browsing the newspaper archives, I came across the above advertisement.  It seems everyone had their hands in the cemetery business not that long ago.  This ad appeared in the Detroit Free Press on June 17, 1981.  And I will say the prices were certainly much cheaper than today.  But it also shows how so many stores have gone away and I think Montgomery Ward was one of the first.  That is the place we always shopped when I was a kid and for some reason, it was nicknamed Monkey Wards.  I am sure that the cemeteries may have had something to do with getting out of the headstone/monument business since that would cut into their profits.  But who knew that they had sold items such as this--and we think Wal-Mart was one of the first to carry everything under the sun.
RootsTech-View From Home
February 28, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
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Body Rolls Down Bank
February 24, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
From the Detroit Free Press, April 12, 1908:  "Train Lurches at Wrong Time--Women Faint Away  Wheeling, W. Va., April 11-At Sandstone, a small station on the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad, two score frineds and relatives mourning at the coffin of John Cox were horrified to see the body leave the casket and roll down a fifty-foot embankment.  Services had been held on the station platform, and the pallbearers were placing the casket in a baggage car for removal to Green Sulphur for interment, when the train suddenly lurched and the box fell to the tracks.  The fall caused it to burst and the body rolled out and down the embankment.  Several women, not realizing what had happened, and belieiving the dead had come to life, fainted.  Another box was telegraphed for, but the interment was delayed several hours.
Detroit's Woodmere Cemetery by Gail D. Hershenzon Image: Photo 2 Image: Photo 6 Image: Vintage Family Photo 1 Image: Photo 3 Image: Photo 8 Michigan Memorial Park by Gail D. Hershenzon