Genealogy… Well This is Fun… and Unexpected

While exploring my husband’s ancestry, I’ve discovered a tool that finds people who are related to BOTH of us. The implications of this are fabulous, provided that those related, want to share their research and provided that they know who their ancestors were. I’m sure that people will agree to share about themselves, otherwise, they wouldn’t have uploaded their raw data to a DNA sharing website.

Here’s what happened. I put my and my husband’s kit numbers into the tool and a list of people who share our DNA came up. It looks like there are forty or more names, in descending order. So I took the very first name, the person who shares the most DNA with my husband and I and I googled it. Voila! That was easy because it’s a very unusual name. This fellow has a Facebook page. He doesn’t have much on his page but one of the few things jumped out at me: Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New York. My ancestors were in Hoboken, New Jersey in the 1700s. Funny, isn’t it? My husband’s going to get a kick out of this, so will our new “cousin.” And we just might learn something new about our family tree. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes. Available here

What’s the History Behind the Derogatory Term… CRACKER?

It’s an awkward feeling when we hear a derogatory term and know it’s offensive but don’t know the how or why of it. There sure are a lot of offense terms around these days, no ethnic group is spared.

I remember the first time I heard the term cracker. I thought it was because some people have skin the color of white crackers. I was wrong. I’ve stumbled upon two versions of the origins. One is that cracker originated in the Southern states, when white cattlemen carried long leather whips to keep their Longhorn cattle in line. The cracking of the whip, hence… cracker. The state of Georgia has been referred to as the Cracker State. The origins of that stem from an old English word for “a noisy, boasting fellow.” Back when this term was coined, it was believed to have been a fitting description for Georgia’s “backwoodsman.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees, Available here:

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Genealogical Searching for Native American Ancestry? Add These Dates to Your Timeline

I don’t know how anyone can be a genealogist and not use a timeline. I find them the perfect way to organize the ancestors. I categorize them by surname and arrange them by dates. Birth, marriage, death and other important highlights.

When building a timeline for Native American ancestry, there are a myriad of historical dates that might shed light on where your ancestors went. We can keep a Native American history book by our side but we can’t include every war or relocation on our timeline. But watch for big events. Here are two:

1827 – A decision was made by the U.S. Federal Government to spend the next two years removing all Indians from Illinois.

1829 – President Andrew Jackson was in power. In 1830 he instituted the “Removal Act,” a ruling that called for all eastern Indians to be relocated to an Indian territory west of the Mississippi River. The sad history of the “Trail of Tears,” falls under this date.

It’s a good idea to study a map and get the feel for your research. Your ancestors from the east may have become westerners with this cruel act perpetrated  by Andrew Jackson.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:

Genealogy… Where Did Our American Indian Ancestors Go?

If you’re reading this, you either know of or suspect that you have American Indians in your family tree. I use the term “American” to differentiate between the Natives that were in America before it was America and those who immigrated from India. And if you’re reading this, like me, you wonder where did our American Indian ancestors go?

When I traveled through Indiana in 2011, I wondered where all the Native people were. Shouldn’t I see them in the stores and on the streets? I had always pictured Indians in Indiana. They were there in the history books. I saw farms and tractors but no Indians. I saw lots of corn. The Indians taught the white colonists to eat corn. Where were they now? I asked my cousin. “Where are the Indians? I haven’t seen any Indians.” “Go to Oklahoma,” she said.

I hope someday to go to Oklahoma. Before I do, I’m going to create an itinerary of Native American museums and history. I live out west where we have lots of Native Americans and the schools teach us to appreciate Native culture. Just last weekend, I passed a Native American male playing a wooden flute. Anyone who heard it would have recognized it as an American Indian tune. It was beautiful and truthfully, it sounded ominous. The man was sitting on a bench outside the front doors of a Walmart. It’s a far cry from the woodlands where his ancestors roamed freely. Those very ancestors who we search for now. On a computer.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:

Tracing French-Canadian Ancestry… How’s That DNA Test Working for You?

My husband’s mother came from a colorful line of French Immigrants dating back to the 1600’s, when brave people sailed from France to New Canada. Funny thing is, he doesn’t identify with it. And because I’m the one doing the research (and I have a bit of French ancestry) I’m the one who is developing the bond.

The French genealogical community is very colorful and culturally rich. Whether it’s from the descendants who remain in Canada after generations or those who reside in Louisiana’s Acadiana in Lafayette, the determination to keep the culture alive suffers no boredom or apathy. I am impressed by the details kept through the years by the Catholic church. Those details are found on genealogical websites, (, etc.) and include pictures of graves, churches, homes and home sites as well as wedding pictures. In Louisiana, the Cajun community is one of the most active social groups I’ve ever seen. Talking about sticking together, they do. The Cajuns in Louisiana are the descendants of the French who were exiled from Canada by the English in 1765 and years following. The name Nova Scotia is British but it was an Acadian homeland before that. Many of New France’s descendants are also found in Quebec.

Did you get your DNA tested and if so, how’s that working out for you? Did you find that you had the French ancestry that you expected? Was it more or less so? And what else did you find? Any surprises? And did you come across any cousin matches? If so, were they friendly? It seems like an association with the Cajun communities in the United States and Canada would be a genealogical treasure. When my brother-in-law, with his dark, curly hair, picks up the mandolin and plays it like he’s been playing for a thousand years, I become more determined. One of their French ancestors was wild on the violin. A DNA test will convince them of the need to acknowledge and explore further, the culturally rich heritage of their French-Canadian ancestry.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees, Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy VI – Freemasons, Jewish Conquistadors and the Holy Family. Available here:

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Sanctuaries, Southern Borders, Presidents, Generals…

In today’s political climate, many are appalled at what’s going on in our government. People feel, rightly so, that things have gotten out of control and that politicians are running lawless and making up government positions for their cronies. But it is not unusual for presidents to customize their staff and nor is it unusual in other government departments. In 1824, John C. Calhoun was the Secretary of War. In March of that year, he created The Bureau of Indian Affairs. He created it as an agency and made it a division of his war department. He did this without approval from Congress.

Seven years earlier, tensions were growing between the Seminole Indians and white colonists along the border of Florida and Georgia. The Seminoles were providing sanctuary for runaway slaves. This tension along the southern border gave Secretary of War Calhoun, President James Monroe and General Andrew Jackson, what they felt was justification for war that resulted in the taking of land from the Seminole. Today it’s sanctuary cities and building a southern wall. It’s true what they say, history repeats itself. Again and again.

Ever wonder if you have Native American ancestry? It’s not an easy route, tracing American Indian ancestry. But there are things you can try. But first, you need to know where to look and what not to waste time on. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. and Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns,–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973



Native American Ancestry? Five Tribes… Five Nations… What’s the Difference?

Don’t get the Five Nations mixed up with the Five Civilized Tribes. The Five Nations had five tribes in it, until they had six. (The Tuscororas came later, in the early 1700’s.) Before that, the Five Nations were the Mohawks, Oneidas, Cayugas, Ohondaga and Senecas. They formed the Iroquois Indian Nation. The Five Nations means the Iroquois.

The Five Civilized Tribes were nations until Congress terminated their governments in 1907. They consisted of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole tribes. They were driven out of their homelands and “settled” in Oklahoma where today you will find many of their descendants. By the early 1900’s, the government saw them as willing to assimilate into white civilization. History shows us that the tribes put up great resistance but by the early 1900’s, they had suffered such a severe genocide, they had no other choice.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here: