Saturday, December 16, 2017

Was My Maritime Ancestor On The La Pinta in 1492?

It's difficult to trace your ancestry back to the 15th century due to lack of paper documents and the high rate of illiteracy. But if your family belonged to the Catholic Church, or aristocracy, you just might be able to do it. 

Why? Because the priests and monks within the Church kept birth, marriage, and death records forever. Barring natural disasters (fire, floods, war), they still exist.

The Christopher Columbus Exhibition at the Library of Congress holds the following list of men who set out on the La Pinta, August 3, 1492. A small type of three-masted ship or caravel, it was owned by Christobal Quintaro and Gomez Rascon who were also aboard.

Those who went and returned in the Pinta are as follows:
  • Martin Alonso Pinzon, of Palos, captain
  • Francisco Martin Pinzon, of Palos, master
  • Cristobal Garcia Xalmiento, pilot
  • Juan de Jerez, of Palos, mariner
  • Bartolome Garcia, of Palos, boatswain
  • Juan Perez Vizcaino, of Palos, caulker
  • Rodrigo de Triana, of Lepe
  • Juan Rodriguez Bermejo, of Molinos
  • Juan de Sevilla
  • Garcia Hernandez, of Palos, steward (despensero)
  • Garcia Alonso, of Palos
  • Gomez Rascon, of Palos, owner of the vessel
  • Cristobal Quintero, of Palos, owner of the vessel
  • Juan Quintero, of Palos
  • Diego Bermudez, of Palos
  • Juan Bermudez, of Palos
  • Francisco Garcia Gallego, of Moguer
  • Francisco Garcia Vallejo, of Moguer
  • Pedro de Arcos, of Palos

We typically research Ancestry.com, familysearch.com, and other genealogy sites for information on family history. Do consider also searching the Library of Congress, as it holds a wealth of information not found on other family history locations.

(Photo: Replica of La Pinta, in Palos de la Frontera, Andelusia, Spain)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Ancestry DNA Test Part 2 - Going Faster Than Suggested

It took only 3 days for my kit to leave the post office and arrive at the Ancestry DNA lab (December 5). I mailed it on a Saturday, so I thought that was pretty fast.

I just received an email on December 8 (three days after arrival) stating that my DNA sample was already underway and that it would be 2 - 4 weeks before the results would be ready.

So as you can see, the 6 - 8 week time frame isn't always adhered to, but they have to give themselves time due to work overload and holiday schedules.

Below is a short video from AncestryDNA talking about what they do in order to prepare for testing.



Saturday, December 9, 2017

What's My Ancestor's Correct Birthday? I Just Can't Find It.

That can be quite common amongst our ancestors.

Was my great-great grandfather, Charles T. Bannister, really born on March 27, 1839? From everything I've researched, probably not. Was his middle initial actually "T"? Eventually it was. And was he born in Vermont as his death certificate states? I don't believe that's true either.

There can be several reasons why a person in the previous centuries changed their information at will.


  1. They really didn't know. Parents died early and their guardians didn't talk about it, or didn't know themselves. (If it had been left up to my father, I probably wouldn't know my information either).
  2. If a person is illiterate (can not write, read, or has had no education in mathematics), do they know their actual age on any given year, or the date of their birth?
  3. People changed their names to honor beloved companions/comrades, or to hide from their past. There were no rules as to what personal information you could change, and how often.

So, what information do I place in my genealogy software?

Place the information that appears on the actual documents you do possess. If you only have a headstone photo, place that information in your family tree. Generally, there will always be a section for "notes", and it is in there that you can write about your reservations. Also, many programs allow for alternative names, and alternative dates. It is under these events that you include the additional information that you discover.

For example, Charles T. Bannister mustered into the Union Army in 1862 as Charles Banister and was discharged as Charles T. Bannister. There are no early documents for a Charles Bannister born in 1939. And according to the various United States Census Records, he was born in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Illinois, and England. Once, between one census recording to the next census recording (a 10 year span), he aged only 5 years!

Don't you love it?

Go ahead and report what the individual and the government actually states on paper, as this is a rule of genealogy.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Why Should I Use Personal Genealogy Software?

With more free online genealogy sites adopting the "community research" format, your hard work can be eliminated in a moment, without notice, by a non-related individual who believes they know more about your grandmother than you did.

If you are the type of genealogist who prides themselves in filling in locations with city, county, state, United States, this can now be overridden by an individual who is happy with "US" only. Your documented dates (day/month/year) can now be erased with just a year (and perhaps the wrong year), and even your grandfather's name can erroneously be changed by someone who never shared a meal at his table. 

I used to believe that having my family history research online would guarantee that my tree would be available long after I am gone. It may, but the opportunity for it to be in error would be great. With the community format, there are no safeguards to keep your documented information from being erased.

A professional genealogist would provide you with your own documented report, safe from the hands of the public. They use their own format, or genealogy software that works for them and their clientele.

Genealogy software is abundant, both purchased or free. You can google "best genealogy software" or "best free genealogy software" and receive a listing of what is popular today. Some programs are free with an affordable price for additional features.

Whichever software you choose to use, you will still be able to search the free/paid online documents and then type them into your family tree, knowing that it can't be overridden by another individual.