Thursday, August 24, 2017

Trip to Tennessee Part 3: Old Jonesborough Cemetery

Cemeteries are such moving places. Even though none of my direct ancestors are buried in Jonesborough, Tennessee. I still found visiting the old Jonesborough Cemetery very moving, and educational at the same time. I took a tour of the cemetery with local guide Gordon Edwards who is helping to restore the cemetery, and also studying the history of the people buried there. He is a fount of information about the cemetery and the people buried there. I had met him the day before in the County courthouse. He assisted me in printing my ancestors' deeds. It was raining the day of the tour, which didn't dissuade me, and a local resident from taking the tour anyway. It did stop raining soon after the tour started, but was raining heavily when we started out.
I remembered my Great-Grandmother Isis Browning-Forgey as I was listening to the history of this cemetery, and burial customs in early America. I learned something about burial customs from a letter Isis wrote in 1907, with instructions for her burial and funeral. She said she wanted to be buried in a black robe and slippers, and didn't want to be put away too quick or kept out for viewing too long. Her dearest wish came to mind seeing the stream when I headed back to town and saw the little creek again. "Now I am going to tell the wish that is dearest to my heart of anything in this world is that some sweet day I may be able to stand on the banks of the New Jerusalem and clasp glad hands with each and everyone that is near and dear to me in this world."

On the tour I learned about the burial custom of burying people with their feet facing east, because Christ was said to return in the east. They wanted to rise onto their feet facing in the right direction. Christianity influenced early burials, but these customs were later replaced by more secular customs such as Tombstones designed for more esthetically pleasing purposes, rather than only religious significance. The tombstone below reflects the emphasis on beauty rather than the early morbid tombstones showing skulls etc.. This tombstone is part of a cradle grave meaning it extends out in a cradle like form. The cradle extension can be used as a planter, as in this case. The cradle style was often used for young women, such as those who died in childbirth. It was a demonstration of the extreme devotion to someone very beloved.

The change in attitudes and styles of burial really got going during the Victorian era, beginning in 1837. Death was viewed as more of a celebration because the dead were going to their reward in heaven. This attitude led to the use of cemeteries as parks, where families would picnic and spend time relaxing. Landscaping further added to the park like atmosphere. Death was also romanticized as can be seen in some of the tombstones designed to evoke this feeling.
Joneborough Cemetery is a city cemetery, the first plot was purchased in 1803. It was never a church cemetery. Cemeteries unaffiliated with churches also influenced the secularization of burial.
This cemetery contains the graves of many prominent early settlers of Tennessee, including the first Mayor of Knoxville (1816-1817) Thomas Emmerson and his wife Catherine, and their adopted child.
Tombstone of Catherine Emmerson wife the first Mayor of Knoxville. It's being repaired as you can see.

Grave of Thomas Emmerson first Mayor of Knoxville b. 1772 d. 1837
Towns tended to be the areas where more financially well off citizens lived. Small business people and professionals lived in town. The Old Jonesborough Cemetery reflects the wealth of the town. My ancestors who died during the 18th and 19th centuries are mostly buried in unmarked graves, or graves marked much later. Farmers, such as my ancestors, were often buried on their farm with graves marked by stones (by the way it's still legal in Tennessee for someone to be buried on their property). Marking graves has always been expensive. A craftsman had to be paid for the skilled work they performed, and the materials could be costly. After the railroad came to town fortunes increased enormously, which is also reflected in the elaborate monuments. Train transport also meant tombstones could be shipped in from mass producers. Tombstones could be purchased through the Sear's catalog.

This is another interesting tombstone for a cadet at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He drowned during boating exercise apparently? The stone shows a little hand reaching up towards a small boat and oar. I've seen others who have drowned with similar tombstones, depicting someone with arms up stretched.

When I first saw this large cemetery with two slopes I didn't think anything of it other than it was a large cemetery. When I took the tour I found out it's a segregated cemetery. One slope was for whites the other blacks. Before the African American cemetery was founded slaves and freed slaves would have been buried in the ditch between the slopes along with paupers.

The African American cemetery is still active. The white cemetery isn't.

Looking toward "colored" slope of Cemetery
African Americans also had their own church in Jonesborough. When I first saw this evidence of segregation I thought this confirms the Southern stereotypes I learned. I then remembered that Forest Lawn in Glendale, California began as an all white cemetery. Interesting many famous African Americans are now buried there like Michael Jackson. California was as segregated as much of the South before the Civil Rights era. Before getting overly sanctimonious we have to remember racism was everywhere in America before the Civil Rights era, and has been seriously diminished but not completely eradicated to this day.
Deed setting aside land for burial of colored persons and other strangers
The African Methodist Church can be seen in this pic on the other side of the railroad tracks.

It is wonderful to see volunteers are restoring this beautiful cemetery. There are still some tombstones lying flat. One of my own ancestor's stones is also lying flat in another cemetery. I found out that isn't good for the stone, and may eventually lead to it's complete destruction. Below you see a tombstone being replaced on it's base.
Maintaining the cemetery is expensive. Mowing that much lawn on a frequent basis is very expensive too. I'm hoping the cost never leads to the abandonment of this cemetery. Going on the paid tours is a good way to support the cemetery.
Like I stated earlier cemeteries are such moving places. Places where we remember our history, and loved ones who have gone before us. I've seen stones that say something like, "I was once up there where you now walk." That reminds me that I have a meeting with my Great-Grandmother Isis Browning-Forgey on the banks of the New Jerusalem, but hopefully not too soon!  
For further information about this cemetery here is the contact information: Heritage Alliance, 212 East Sabin Drive, Jonesborough, Tennessee (423-753-9580).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

BIG Y: I got it, I don't got it?


The Big Y DNA test is an advanced Y DNA test, of course for males only. The test is designed to place testers on the Y haplogroup tree. A haplogroup tree looks something like our pedigree chart. There are off shooting branches from our ancient common lines leading down to more modern times.  haplogroups generally only tell us about our ancient geographic roots, and migrations. The BigY is attempting to change that by identifying more modern haplogroups, using novel variants, making it useful for genealogy.

Our Current Position on the Family Tree DNA Haplogroup SNP Tree

My Forgey family is now in the Big Y at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). My uncle and one of his 5th cousins, once removed, have been upgraded to the Big Y. SNP's or mutations, Single Nucleotide Polymorphicisms, are determined by the mutations of nucleobases ATCG which are used to determine someones haplogroup. A Nucleobase base at one particular position, which differs from a reference sample determines whether a tester is positive for a particular SNP or mutation.

My Uncle and his 5th cousin once removed both shared the same nucleobase for a SNP that had not yet been named as a haplogroup. When a SNP hasn't been named yet it is identified by a long string of numbers giving its position, such as 2580707, the reference may be A for that position, but the tester may be G at that position, meaning there was a mutation (which my uncle and cousin matched exactly in their case in order to be a match and test positive for the newly named haplogroup). If two or more people match at that position with the same base (ATCG) this SNP may, or may not, be deemed significant enough to be named as a new haplogroup.

Some of the SNP's now being identified by name as haplogroups may be fairly recent? It does appear, as these haplogroups are added, they are mainly shared by specific surnames, or since surname groups are over represented they may just represent the geographical area where these surnames developed?

My uncle and his 5th cousin, once removed, now have their own haplogroup which no other tester so far shares. Before this haplogroup SNP was discovered,  likely by the I-M223 group administrator Wayne Rogers at FTDNA, we were in the haplogroup I-BY3819 that was estimated to be 900 or more years old making it useless for genealogy purposes. It did confirm our Scottish origins however, plus suggest the name is derived from Ferguson the dominate surname in that haplogroup.  The new haplogroup could be either unique to our surname, or the geographical area our family lived in, or even more widespread? Hard to say since so few men have tested.

A way to test how old this haplogroup might be would be to SNP test for the new haplogroup BY19896/BY198967. We know both of our Forgey Big Y testers share a common ancestor around 300 years ago. We don't know when the other Forgeys who settled in America share a common ancestor? It would be interesting to see if all of the Forgey lines share the same terminal SNP. It costs $39 dollars to test a SNP. Much cheaper than the Big Y. So this kind of testing is doable.

Something I don't get is YFull has quality scores for SNP's which seem to disagree with conclusions about SNP's made by Big Y? Hence  "I got this, I don't got this" in my title for this post. The yet to be named SNP's are called Novel SNP's. YFull also calls those SNP's only found in a single tester private. When more than one tester shares a SNP it isn't private anymore, and becomes unlocked which can lead to breakthroughs. So it is good to test as many distant cousins at different degrees of relationship, or those sharing the same surname as you can afford to unlock these SNP's, which hopefully we lead us to more modern times.

According to FTDNA both of our testers have around half a dozen high confidence positive results on yet to be named SNP's. YFull has a propriety SNP quality rating system. My uncle's test is still being analyzed by YFull so we don't know the quality of his yet to be named, or novel SNP's? Roger's analysis has been completed and according to YFull the best quality of novel SNP's he has are two in the "acceptable category". None what they call "best quality". The rest are rated my by them as  "ambiguous".  The SNP's shared between my uncle, and his 5th cousin once removed,  are all classified as ambiguous by YFull? Not sure of the quality rating for these SNP's will affect our placement in the YFull tree? Will YFull recognize the I-BY19896 haplogroup? Or keep us in the I-BY3819 haplogroup?

My uncle and his 5th cousin, once removed, each share many novel SNP's, but also have a couple they don't share, which may prove helpful if these SNP's are ever added for SNP testing. They would appear to have developed later than 300 years ago? Some novel variant SNP's may be significant and some may not? We also have unnamed novel SNP's shared by many others, likely quite old. We just have to wait and see where this all leads. I'm still learning how to work with these results, and rely on expertise of the group administrators like Colin Ferguson and Wayne Rogers.

You can learn more about the Big Y by watching these Youtube videos:

Here you can see novel SNP's represented by the numbered positions far left. These are the results for our two Forgey testers as you can see they share most of the same novel SNP's but not all. These mutations are probably more recent than 300 years.