Try DNA testing for dirt cheap

I know DNA testing is a gamble at times. But AncestryDNA has an offer worth trying.

Use this link to get the test for $49. Then, use FREESHIPDNA for free shipping. I don’t know how long these coupon codes will work. DNA testing doesn’t get this cheap with Family Tree DNA nor 23andme.

The test will only ship within the USA for now. It is rumored the test will be available abroad in some countries next year.

Here is my FAQ on testing with AncestryDNA.

It has the best ethnicity breakdown among the three main DNA testing companies. AncestryDNA is well worth doing if you are looking for relatives in the USA, especially for adoptees.

If you are on Facebook, check out my Facebook group.

 

Nothing like a good chuckle from ancestry.com

My Ancestry.com membership has not been of much use, except for immigration records for my family. Most recently, it has become a source of amusement.

I recently discovered Ancestry.com’s database, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989. It is a wonderful resource of scanned phone books. This is a great alternative to the 1950 U.S. Census, which will be made public in 8 years.

My most recent discovery in the database was quite amusing. My paternal grandmother’s family lived in Miami and I have never noticed another family with the same name in Miami in the 1950s.

I knew an address looked awfully familiar but the first name was Beach. I wonder which relative tried to communicate their first name for the phone directory. How could the name Alexander or Anisja become Beach? Maybe this is a terminology used in the 1950s that someone could explain to me.

These two first names also were listed in the phonebook as Anna and Arthur. Anisja was called Aunt Anne by her nieces and nephews. I know these people are my relatives from these phone directories because I have the same addresses on immigration records.

The same phone directory butchered my grand uncle Wasiliy’s name (Vasiliy, the more correct English spelling) into Wasitij. The name was later changed in the phone directory as Wasilli.

Russian and Ukrainian names are quite a challenge to spell for some. That makes researching Russian and Ukrainian relatives more complicated. A lot of Russian names that end with v get changed to w or ff (like Smirnoff vodka) and those with y get changed to j (like Anisja).

With some smart search techniques, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 is an incredible resource for genealogy and family searches. The 1950s Miami white pages list the first names of spouses and workplaces of those listed. I noticed the same information in New York City directories.

Can anyone imagine phone directories listing places of employment for each person listed today? Just imagine the lawsuits for invasion of privacy. It’s a good thing that things were different back in the 20th century.

Ancestry.com has another similar resource, U.S. Public Records Index. It is much less accurate. I searched myself and I found myself living in another state. My dead grandfather was supposedly living at my childhood home. Then, a cousin’s birth date was off by 26 years.

So go check out U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989, a resource with 1.5 billion residential listings. It is not worth waiting for the 1950 U.S. Census when this massive database is available.

Wondering if my family tree is about to grow

Lately, my research has been a standstill until I checked my Russian e-mail account a few days ago. A man from St. Petersburg e-mailed me to ask for more information on my great-grandmother’s Kozyrev relatives.

All I have on my great-grandmother, besides archive records, is a professional photo of her with her husband and son from the 1930s or early 1940s. I have a few personal stories from my grandfather’s letters to my father written in the 1950s and 1960s.

With my grandfather being born in 1885, no one living can tell me more about my great-grandmother or her family. My father was an oops for my grandfather when he was 50 years old.

The man in St. Petersburg doesn’t know his great-grandparents’ names so he will try to get his grandfather’s birth record from a registry office. I am hoping the man can get the birth record from the communist era and we will find his great-grandfather on my family tree.

The man found me on two Russian forums- forum.yar-genealogy.ru and forum.vgd.ru. I posted information on my great-grandmother’s family two years ago after I had a professional researcher put together my Kozyrev family tree.

The second forum is the place where I have found family three times. Several years ago, I had to give into posting on Russian forums in Russian to find distant and missing relatives. The chances of finding relatives from Russia and Ukraine on genealogy forums for English speakers are pretty slim.

Finding family from the former USSR is like weight loss. You have to change your attitude and methods if you are not seeing the results. It also takes time and patience for results to appear.

Thankfully, Google has a free online translator to make the search much less painful than dieting.

So let time go fast so I can see whether all the money I put into my Kozyrev family tree will result in finding some relatives. It’s pretty lucky to find someone with a common family surname and village. Now, the registry office needs to come through for the man in St. Petersburg.

Find Russian and Ukrainian graves online

Thanks to my incredible luck of having a Russian man find my grandfather’s grave, I was inspired to add  a new page- Cemetery Database.

I hope to find many websites for photographed Russian and Ukrainian cemeteries so graves can be viewed online. Luckily, I also am finding databases for cemeteries.

Hopefully, the excitement of photographing graves brought on by Find A Grave also will spread to Russia and Ukraine.

Keep up-to-date with Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family by following on Facebook or e-mail by clicking on Follow this Blog button in the top right column.

An unreal surprise on my birthday

Yesterday, I was crying tears of joy. I have wanted for years to see the grave of my paternal grandfather. My oldest brother visited my father’s hometown three years ago and wasn’t brave enough to find our grandfather’s grave.

I made contact with a town official there and he said he would look into information on the grave. The local archive manager told him there wasn’t any information on his burial. Before I asked him, a friendly guy from the same town said it would be really hard to find the grave.

I was about to give up but then decided last week to post for some help on a forum for the town. Two people responded with questions and I thought this is hopeless again.

No one was offering to help me look for his grave on the forum. Then a guy sent me a private message that he was visiting the cemetery this week.

Luckily, I had my grandfather’s death date from the local registry office. That date determines where my grandfather’s grave would be located in the cemetery.

So, yesterday I casually checked my private messages for the forum and the guy sent me a message. I was nervous but relieved to not see the Russian negative words нет and не.

But I still was thinking he could be sending me random pictures of the cemetery. What were the chances of finding my grandfather’s grave on my birthday?

I could not understand what the guy was writing so I used Google Translate. It is hard to explain the excitement when I realized he pinpointed my grandfather’s grave on a map and posted 10 photos of the grave onto Dropbox.

This year has been the year of NO, NO and NO. I kept my expectations of finding the grave low because I’ve heard that cemeteries in Russia are not maintained in the same way as in the USA.

So, I cried on my birthday because I could finally see my grandfather’s grave. I gave my youngest son his middle name after his great-grandfather. Now, my grandfather does not feel forgotten in some Russian cemetery.

Here is his grave stone:

P1070186

I’m giving a translation as a free lesson in Russian gravestone reading: Ivanov Pavel Nikolaevich (patronymic name that states he is son of Nikolai), born December 5, 1885 (but he was really born on Dec. 15. Even gravestones have the wrong information. I know this as a fact because my father bragged he shared his birthday with his father) and died December 2, 1971. The г. in the gravestone means year.

P1070184

Here is the overgrown mess that surrounds my grandfather’s grave. Anyone who finds their relatives’ graves in Russia surrounded by beautiful flowers and nicely cut grass is lucky. This is the reality of cemeteries in Russia.

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting game begins for opening of communist-era records

Earlier this month, a guy in Kiev e-mailed me about doing research in my mom’s birthplace. I’ve had hardly any luck with Ukrainian archives.

Dimitri hasn’t e-mailed me in two years so I was curious about what made him think of me. It turns out that some communist-era census records in Kiev archives could be opened for the public soon.

I am especially interested in finding WWII records in Kiev archives. My brick wall for one great-grandfather’s family is like the wall of China. One daughter of this great-grandfather is alive but she won’t talk about life in Kiev during the war.

She says there is nothing good to remember. For me, remembering details of her uncles could help me take down this monster wall. My mother is not close to her aunt in Russia because we just made contact with her three years ago after she went missing in 1945. (see this post on finding my grand aunt)

So I need these WWII records to open so I can see what can be found on my Trunov family. My search is so far back in generations and the surname Trunov is so common that it is a real challenge to find relatives still in Kiev without new information.

I have found so many close and distant cousins but my Trunov line is one of the most challenging. I know most of my great-grandfather’s siblings’ birth dates and birthplace from Kursk Regional Archives’ records but that is all I know for most of them.

When the communist-era records open in Kiev, I am hoping Dimitri will find something on my Trunov family. It also would be great to see if anything could be found on my maternal grandfather’s family.

Now, I wait every day for an e-mail message from Dimitri to tell me which communist-era records will be opened.

Maybe AncestryDNA will become more useful soon

The Internet is buzzing that Ancestry.com is ending the sale of its Y-DNA (paternal line) and MtDNA (maternal line) tests. Ancestry.com hasn’t promoted the sale of these tests in a long time because it has refocused on selling its autosomal test on combined maternal and paternal lines.

Current customers of Ancestry.com only have one choice to transfer their Y-DNA and MtDNA data- Family Tree DNA. I am hoping this change will bring more attention to Family Tree DNA, the only DNA genealogy testing company that sends its products to countries formerly of the USSR.

When I first saw that Ancestry.com was selling maternal and paternal line DNA tests, I thought what a waste of money. Now, I know they are a great tool.

I have been hearing rumors that Ancestry.com is interested in opening a DNA testing lab in Europe in 2015. An employee of Ancestry.com’s Facebook’s page confirmed the company’s interest in that option.

Having a foreign DNA testing lab will open so many possibilities for those with Russian and Ukrainian ancestry who still live in Europe, but not in their homeland.

My matches are so distant on AncestryDNA because those people are related to my distant German ancestors. My matches on AncestryDNA would be more useful if people in Europe, Canada and Australia could get the AncestryDNA test.

I am crossing my fingers that Ancestry.com will announce its European-based DNA lab in the next few months. A better customer base will make the autosomal test more useful for those with Russian and Ukrainian ancestry.

I will post an announcement when I hear official word that a European-based DNA testing lab will open.