Harlingen Happenings

By Mary Torres, Special to the Star

You can tell from the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in our area during the last few days that we are in the midst of “The Dog Days of Summer” or “La Canícula.” This period, from early July to late August, accounts for the hottest, muggiest days of the year due to a high-pressure ridge that sits over northern Mexico and Texas. The origin of this term is actually rooted in astronomy,  related to the rise of Sirius, the Dog Star, which appears in the sky this time of the year as part of the constellation Canis Major. However, there are other interpretations and superstitions associated with this event in the United States, Mexico, and other countries. Remember that a heatwave can make your body work harder to keep itself cool. If you can, limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day. If you do need to be outside, be sure your skin is protected from the sun and stay hydrated. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also recommends taking frequent breaks in air-conditioned or shaded areas while working. 

Join the Texas State Genealogical Society on August 7-8, 2020, for a two-day virtual conference filled with genealogy tips and more to help you explore your family history and chip away at those persistent brick walls. The following eight speakers will be sharing their expertise in areas from methodology to DNA: Taking a Closer Look at Immigration Records for Your Mexican Ancestor, Colleen Robledo Greene; Problem Solving with DNA: Case Studies, Patti Lee Hobbs, CG®; Problem Solving with DNA: Case Studies, Patti Lee Hobbs, CG®; Collateral Kin: Indirect Routes to Direct Ancestors, Sunny Morton; 50 Overlooked Online Genealogy Resources in 50 Minutes, Diane L. Richard; Organizing Your Genealogy, Drew Smith; Researching Your World War II Ancestors, Michael Strauss, AG®, and Studying a Community Using Sanborn Maps and Other Resources, Ari Wilkins. The TxSGS Virtual Conference is the ultimate learning experience from the comfort of your home. Simply log in with your password to access all the conference presentations and material. Watch this event LIVE, or later at your convenience. Registration for the 2020 Virtual Conference includes access to the Live event, a digital syllabus, and ninety-day access to the recorded event. Sessions are being recorded and will be available for a limited time on the TxSGS website. Details about accessing the sessions will be emailed to registrants following the event. Registration is $50 for members and $70 for non-members. To register or for more information visit https://www.txsgs.org/txsgs-2020-virtual-conference/.

Due to the ongoing concerns about COVID-19, The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2020 Family History Conference, “Blazing Trails in the Heart of America,” scheduled to be held in Kansas City, MO September 2-5, has gone virtual with a combination of live and on-demand programming! On September 2, live programming will include popular genealogy speakers such as CeCe Moore, Ari Wilkins, Lisa Louise Cooke, Thomas W. Jones, David E. Rencher, and Judy G. Russell. There will also be special presentations by Ancestry and FamilySearch. In addition to this full-day event, many more lectures and workshops will be made available to participants starting later in September. Early Bird Registration ends August 15 and fees range from $130 to $395. To register or for more information visit https://fgs.org/annual-conference/

A genealogy blog that I follow is DNA-Explained by Roberta Estes, a scientist, author, and genetic genealogist who is also documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA. If you’re not already a follower you can see her posts and join at https://dna-explained.com/author/robertajestes/ . Ms. Estes writes on different aspects of DNA and genealogy and the information is always timely and helpful. Last week she wrote about Ancestry’s decision to remove smaller matches, less than 8 cM., from their customer’s DNA match list around the first of August. Ancestry now has 18 million testers and if you’re a regular Ancestry user, you might have noticed that their response recently has been slow with regular timeouts. The decision to remove the smaller matches may be a way to manage the database thus freeing up resources. Ancestry feels that this purge will remove “most false matches,” but it will also remove all accurate matches at that level too. If you are interested in preserving these matches in your account, visit this blog and learn what you can do to save your smaller matches.