Illinois Ancestors: DNA tests compared on NBC's 'Today'

Illinois Ancestors: DNA tests compared on NBC's 'Today'

DNA testing has been in the news lately as a means to determine/suggest one's ethnic background. The three major home-testing companies were recently given a challenge by the officials at TV's "Today" show to determine if home DNA tests are really accurate.

Three identical triplets (their last names were all different since they are married) were asked to be tested by Ancestry DNA, My Heritage DNA and 23 & Me and the test results were revealed on the "Today" show. The companies had no way of knowing that these subjects were related. The video of this show can be viewed at Any readers surprised at the findings?

Confederates received pensions

Most genealogists realize that Union veterans of the American Civil War may have applied for a pension. However, it may not be generally known, but Confederate veterans were also eligible to apply for a pension in the state in which he lived "if he was indigent or disabled."

To find information on such a veteran, researchers first need to check the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System at, where one can search the database for a soldier, sailor (African-American), regiment, cemetery, battle, prisoner, medal of honor recipient or monument.

The National Archives has posted a helpful website, Confederate Pension Records, at, where one can learn the appropriate repository having records on Confederate veterans from that state. In addition to mailing addresses and phone numbers, there are links to other online sources (many including FamilySearch) for the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, George, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Civil War maps

Trevor K. Plante has written a helpful article, "Enhancing Your Family Tree with Civil War Maps," in the National Archive's publication, Prologue (Summer 2003, Vol. 35, No. 2), which can be found at

More recently, Judy G. Russell ("The Legal Genealogist") has written about the National Archives' free, digitized, online maps that are part of Record Group 100, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, 1825-1927. At is Russell's article with links to these maps and much more. (She notes that some maps show the names of residents!)

Archive grid is manuscript-collection resource

Upfront with NGS, the blog for the National Genealogical Society, has posted information about Archivegrid — "The Manuscript Collection Resource you NEED to Check Out!" There are so many "genealogical gems" hidden in a library or archive, and now with Archivegrid it's possible to identify them and who holds them. Read this important article at

Over 1,000 different archival institutions are represented and all of them "are faced with ... identifying what they have ... (in order to make) their materials accessible to the public." It should be noted that D. Joshua Taylor had presented a talk on Archivegrid at the National Genealogical Conference in 2014. Anyone who attended that conference should check the Syllabus, page 283, for the notes pertaining to his lecture.

'Honoring Our Ancestors' newsletter

Megan Smolenyak's free newsletter, "Honoring Our Ancestors," continues to provide interesting genealogical news, stories and videos at She also has been awarding Seton Shields grants (named after her mother) to individuals and organizations that need funds for genealogy-related projects. The short application is on her website. Read about the awards she has already given (since May 2000) and encourage your local society to apply for the funds needed for that special project.

Queries, questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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