Bill, Babe, and Abe

Back in Dad’s carving days, he created a relief carving of his dad, Aden Springsteen, with his dad’s team of horses. Bill and Babe were used on the farm during the Great Depression when the family tractor was on blocks. Aden was referred to as Honest Abe by friends of Dad’s brother Donovan “Mick” Springsteen who were called to accounts by Aden for wanting to discard a too-quickly-shot pheasant that turned out to be a hen. Aden’s admonition was something along the lines of “if you shot it you can carry it.” Dad modeled the carving from a picture taken on the family farm just south of Sheridan.

2015 HeART Prize Entries
2015 HeART Prize Entries

Dad’s carving moved out of his apartment into the hallway at Green Acres during their community art show, HeART Prize 2015. As usual, there were many creative and masterful pieces of art in this year’s show. Bill, Babe, and Abe made a good showing. Dad has quite a few smaller carvings in his apartment that have been admired by residents, but I think he was somewhat surprised and pleased by the recognition he received for Bill, Babe, and Abe.

2015 HeART Prize Winners
2015 HeART Prize Winners

A few years ago I recorded a conversation with Dad about Bill, Babe, and Abe. Dad mentioned his brother Mick and his sister Lorna as well as Mick’s wife Helen. Dad’s Aunt Maude was my Grandma Olsen’s brother Charlie’s widow. Dad’s mom was born Goldy Verda  Case, but was always called Verda. After Aden Springsteen’s death in 1941 Verda married Fred Olsen, who was the grandfather I knew.

Here is the recording of my conversation with Dad.

DNA and Genealogy

This post is a revision of an entry posted on January 31, 2015, in my blog on the former Our Heritage site.

I have explored genealogy and family history through traditional research for decades, but I am new to the application of DNA to that quest. I finally made the leap to DNA as a research tool after reading Michael D. Lacopo’s blog, Hoosier Daddy? His long-running search for his mother’s biological parents and their ancestry makes for very interesting and instructive reading. If you have time and are in no hurry, I encourage following this story from his first post in February 2014, Beginnings. As a professional genealogist, he is well-versed in traditional research. As a veterinarian with a natural interest in science, his understanding and application of DNA is a good example of its value in genealogical research.

My wife Dee and I recently sent DNA sample kits to 23andMe for autosomal testing. Her ancestry appears to be 99.9% European with .1% unassigned. Coming from a predominantly Czech family, she does have more variety than we might have anticipated, including Southern European, British/Irish, and Scandinavian ancestry. My ancestry is 99.4% European, mostly Northern European with nearly 40% from the British Isles. Given that my family has been in the American melting pot longer than Dee’s, in some cases back to early colonial times, I was somewhat surprised by this British concentration.

DNA haplogroups are significant distinct divisions of the human race. My all-female maternal line is in a predominantly European haplogroup that originated in the Near East. My all-male paternal line is in a haplogroup from Northeastern Africa that expanded across Northern Africa and Southern Europe after the last ice age. That haplogroup is still predominantly in Northern Africa.

My first reaction on seeing my paternal haplogroup and also noting that 0.3% of my overall ancestry is Sub-Saharan African was that my paternal line was far more interesting than I had thought. As I examined my DNA results more carefully, I realized that my initial interpretation was incorrect. Nevertheless, although my distant paternal line is not Sub-Saharan African, it is also not Northern European. Given that the Springsteen ancestors from whom I think I descend came from the northern Netherlands, I was surprised at this ancestral origin. I’ll be interested in learning whether other Springsteens are in the same paternal haplogroup and, if not, where our genetic ancestry diverged.

Another curiosity in my DNA analysis is that while 0.1% of my DNA is Yakut, from far northeastern Asia, none of my DNA is classified as Native American. Evidence of rumored native ancestry might still reside in the DNA of close relatives, but I didn’t inherit any of it.

To gain a little understanding of genetic genealogy, I viewed a few brief videos entitled Genetics 101. These videos and others are available on the 23andMe Home page. To learn more about using DNA in genealogical research, I also subscribed to a blog entitled DNAeXplained. This blog demonstrates how to use DNA tools from Family Tree DNA to augment traditional genealogical research. The Genetic Genealogist is another informative blog to which I have subscribed. I have much to learn.

I have already been in contact with several newly-discovered relatives through 23andMe, including one who recommended DNAeXplained. Some of these newly-found cousins and I have been able to identify our common ancestors. Others require more information to be able to make that connection.

One thing seems clear: DNA tools yield much more information when results from several related people are correlated. 23andMe’s DNA chromosome browser provides specific comparisons that can shed light on mysteries from traditional research.

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I can see great potential in complementing traditional documentary research with DNA analysis to learn more about our ancestors and others who share those progenitors.

Thomas Green at the Battle of Bentonville

One hundred fifty years ago today, March 20, the left wing of General William T. Sherman’s army was in the midst of a three-day confrontation with General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate forces at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina. This was their last major conflict before Johnston’s surrender to Sherman at Durham Station.

In the late afternoon of the previous day, Johnston had mounted a determined attack against the Union forces. The 13th Michigan Infantry, on the left flank of the Union’s front lines, had sustained significant losses in the resulting setback. Private Thomas M. Green of Company C was one of those casualties.

Thomas Green would not be admitted to Foster General Hospital at New Bern until April 5, more than two weeks later. He would be transferred from there to to De Camp General Hospital on David’s Island in New York Harbor on April 16. He would not be on duty with his regiment when Johnston surrendered the largest body of Confederate forces at the end of the war.

What would Thomas Green have been feeling and thinking as the confrontation at Bentonville continued and he lay wounded? He was presumably being treated near the field of battle for the gunshot wound that had removed him from action. We don’t have any letters or journals that might offer insight into his experience that day.

Service Cards for Thomas M. Green, April-June 1865

Time for a change

Welcome to the reformation of Our Heritage. The website had been rather badly neglected and depended on site editing tools that are no longer supported, so it is time for a change.

Our Heritage will now be centered around an interactive blog that should make sharing easier and more natural. I hope that you enjoy our walk in history.

I will be reposting some of the material from the old website as well as posting new information. Please join me in this journey.

Ron