Happy new month, everyone. I was late last month, but early this month, even in time for the Kiwis!
I’m quite amazed, actually, in how much we’ve achieved this month. Having spent three weeks yachting on my beloved Norfolk Broads, I managed to find a little time to do some research, and our team has done a sterling job. Together, we’ve managed to add close to 900 people this month and our total now stands at almost 135,800 people. We’ve also done a whole lot of infilling, especially for Gloucestershire, Bristol and Oxfordshire in England, adding a lot more information to people already in our database. So if you have West Country ancestors, do take a swift gander.
Note that most people’s records now have a date last modified on them, at the end of the individual section. So you can easily see whether we’ve added to it, though there are a few records we haven’t altered since we switched software five or six years ago.
The very big news regarding RootsTech this month is actually nothing directly to do with the Salt Lake City conference where I will be at the end of February. A couple of days ago, RootsTech announced that they will be expanding to London with an extra show next year at the ExCel from 24-26 October.
Sorry for all our readers outside the UK, but if RootsTech can recreate even half of what they’ve done in the US, it will be great. Thing is, as many British readers will know, after the demise of WhoDoYouThinkYouAre?Live in 2017, there were no national exhibitions this year and now next year there will be three! Will the market bear it? Time will tell. I suspect curiosity will draw out the crowds in the first year and that the good shows will win in year two.
Anyway, by the time you read this newsletter next month, bookings for the Salt Lake City RootsTech will be open. If you are planning to attend, particularly one or more of the sponsored lunches, it does make sense to book early. And, if you are going, do get in touch. We can meet up. Check it out at rootstech.org.
We may have your number
Well, I don’t, actually, but John House may well have. We were discussing between us. I was called Howesy at school and still am by one or two people. He was called Housey. So he got his own back and bought the car registration plate to go with it! Here is a picture:
John tells me that he wants to sell the plate and he thought that one of our readers might be interested. If you are, please do write to him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Next month, my cousin Ian and I will be celebrating ten years of being online at HowesFamilies.com. We had about 5,000 or so lives when we first started, mostly just from Norfolk in England. We’ve come a long way since then, thanks to the help of our volunteers and those of our correspondents who have shared information with us. Thank you everyone. I thought it might be appropriate to have a look at some of our old newsletters and review them now in the light of our progress. I’ll do that over the course of the next few months.
I’d just like to re-iterate my occasional request for males named Howes, House, Hows, Howse or Howze to take a yDNA test. This applies particularly to folks in the UK and even more so if you or one of your relations is “the last of their male line”.
Why do I mention the UK particularly? It’s been my experience that British folks by and large are much less interested in DNA testing because we know where we are from, in a general sense at least. Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, Americans and other people with British heritage seem to show much greater interest. They are curious about where their surname came from, knowing in general that it’s from the UK (or Germany) but they do not know exactly where. They’re also keener on finding distant cousins back in "the old country".
Each male has within us a direct chemical trail to each of the ancestors in our male line. Our DNA study has over 100 males in it who have tested for their yDNA but very few match each other so far. The more people who test, the more who will match and we will make some really good discoveries connecting people whose families have drifted apart over the years.
Drifting apart happens in the UK too. Whereas our names used to be concentrated in relatively few areas we are now spread around the UK in ways our ancestors could not possibly have imagined. Today, we are about 75% done in terms of reconstructing families within England and Wales for the 19th and 20th centuries. This is the easy bit. The documentation trails in England and Wales are very good back to about 1800, but for people born earlier than that we are largely dependent upon church records and wills, and there are huge gaps in these records. Some parish records have disappeared – all manner of reasons: bombing, floods, fire, mice, theft, etc. Some of our forebears were non-conformists whose records were not taken (they didn't conform) or no longer exist. Many people weren’t rich enough to make a will, and so on.
Testing yDNA can help with our family reconstruction in these early periods, since male DNA tracks surnames very closely. If we know that two men today share yDNA, it can help us focus in on records that can help us make a connection.
To have your yDNA tested, or a male relative have theirs tested, you can either go to FTDNA and buy direct (join the House/Howes/Howe project and get a discount) or we can obtain the same test more cheaply for you through the Guild of One-Name Studies – the current price via this method is only £89. If you are interested, let me know.
And this is a long shot, but if there is anyone out there with a wealthy Howes relative who might like to contribute towards a DNA testing campaign, please do put them in touch too!
All the best
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