It’s one of the most remarkable family history stories we’ve ever had on the show! Hear what one man’s family had to face after an accident, family interviews, the removal of hair from a corpse at a funeral home, and DNA tests!
Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert with news about a reunion of a daughter and mother, separated by the Nazis in World War II. They’ll have the details. Then David talks about a new discovery that may shed light on the fate of the settlers at Roanoke, Virginia in the 16th century. Also, might President Warren Harding have had a “love child?” DNA has solved that long time mystery. Hear the results. Plus, David’s Tech Tip of the Week, and your free NEHGS database!
Then Steve Anderson (starts at 9:09), a Minnesota native, shares his incredible story of discovery concerning himself and his eight siblings. No one could have imagined what he and a brother learned? information that has rocked his family. And it’s not over yet!
Fisher then shares an encore interview from his first 100 shows. This one is with Alice Keesey Mecoy, a descendant of the man many believe started the Civil War, abolitionist John Brown! Learn how he affects her life to this day.
Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com wraps up the show with another great preservation tip. If you have questions for Tom, email “AskTom@TMCPlace.com.”
That’s all this week on the 100th episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript for Episode 100
Segment 1 Episode 100
Fisher: Hello Genies! And welcome to the 100th edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. On the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well it seems only fitting, only fitting that for our 100th show we should have a totally outrageous family history story, and indeed we do! And by the way, nearly everyone involved in this story is still living. Yes it involves interviewing family members, DNA, taking hair from a corpse, I mean wait till you hear this story, and it’s coming up in about eight minutes. Also, we’re going to hear an encore presentation of one of my favorite interviews from our first 100 shows. A visit with a woman who descends from John Brown the abolitionist who was generally thought to have lit the fuse of the Civil War, he greatly impacts her life to this day. That will be later in the show. But first, it’s time to check in with Boston, and David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors. Greetings David!
David: Greetings Fish, and happy 100th episode!
Fisher: Thank you sir!
David: Have you received the recent news about the lady in Germany? It’s really amazing. 71 years old and she’s located her mother who she was born to in a German war camp during WWII.
David: It’s amazing to think that after seven decades you have a connection that you can make. It’s wonderful her mother is still alive, and all through the process of going online.
Fisher: Yeah. Mom’s 91 years old, and she had a love affair with a German soldier who was married and then the solider raised the woman who is now 71. It’s a great story.
David: Oh it really is. And speaking of love children, Warren Harding back in the 1920s and of course after his death there was this controversy that a woman he was known to keep company with Nan Britton had a love child. Well, this girl born in 1919 turns out it is his child after all.
Fisher: Wow! How’d they figure this out?
David: Through DNA. Harding descendents on the other side of his family through his brother’s descendents, and the grandson of Warren Harding through this baby that he had, it’s amazing this gentleman lives out in Colorado and he is now the descendent of Warren Harding and perhaps there’s more to this story.
Fisher: Wow! It was never thought that Warren Harding had any children.
David: That’s right. And maybe Burke’s Peerage of American presidents will now have to have an updated entry.
Fisher: [Laughs] Absolutely.
David: Digging into history recently, the east Carolina University has stumbled upon a really interesting discovery, a four hundred year old plus mystery.
David: You’ve heard of Roanoke?
Fisher: Oh yeah!
David: They may have found where some of the settlers went. They’ve discovered a ten caret gold signet ring with a lion or a horse carved into it. They’ve found some other artefacts that directly tie to European and Native American encampments on islands nearby where Roanoke was.
Fisher: So is this suggesting they were actually taken in by the Indians instead of destroyed?
David: Well, it’s a combination. It could be either, or either the Indians raided and pillaged and took these items, or maybe perhaps the settlers went there for aid and continued on. It’s always been rumored that the native population there may in fact have a European connection. So who knows? Further discoveries will probably uncover more artifacts as this story unravels.
Fisher: What is that like, the first clues in 400 years? This is phenomenal.
David: It’s amazing to think that something from 1587 is being discovered. Archeology is an amazing tool.
Fisher: Now, tell me David, are they doing DNA tests then on some of the people who are descendents of the local tribes there, to see if there might be some connection?
David: Well, there’s definitely an interesting possibility. The problem with researching that far back is that your 23 chromosomes are going to have a variety of mutations that may be gone. So they may have already had European in the past 00 years of one of the Indian families that they’re testing. I wanted to let you know the exciting news from Boston is that we will now be editing the Mayflower descendent which is the publication of the Society of Mayflower descendents of 1899. And also, to let you know our free database for the week is Barnstable church records from 1639 to 1892. And last but not least. Y tech tip, a real simple and free one. Go on to your social media and create a group called “A family homestead” take all the cousins from one set of paternal grandparents, and your other cousins from your maternal grandparents, unite them, invite them, and put them in, share photos and stories. It’s a free way to wrap up the summer and to kind of share the stories and the history of your family.
Fisher: That’s unbelievable. That’s great stuff. David, thank you so much! We’ll talk to you again next week.
David: Talk to you then.
Fisher: And coming up next, perhaps the most incredible family history discovery story we’ve ever had on the show. Wait till you hear what Steve Anderson has to say about what he’s learned about his very own family, including his eight siblings. On three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 100
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Steve Anderson
Fisher: Welcome back to America’s family history show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And once in a great while you run across a story that just leaves your jaw on the floor. I think this is one of those stories. And you know I’m not going to give you any hint about it other than to introduce Steve Anderson who I spoke to about it over the weekend. Hi Steve, How are you?
Steve: I’m doing great. How’re you doing, Scott?
Fisher: I’m doing great. Steve is a Minnesota boy who ran across some interesting history in his family sometime back. Let’s just go back to the beginning, Steve, and tell about how this all came about.
Steve: All right. About 25 years ago my older brother was in an accident. He was crushed. He needed some intense medical care, needed lots of blood transfusions. So a call went out asking for blood from family members. So we called all the cousins in and siblings and all the other stuff. I was probably about 10 years old at that time. And my dad came to donate. And when he donated the doctors said “Well, sir, we appreciate your donation, but we cannot use your blood for your son because it doesn’t match.” And so, you know, all these years my mother’s always made it a point to talk about how much my older brother and I were alike. She would buy identical clothes. She would shave our heads. And always tell us and people around “Boy, these two look like twins. They’re just… “Anyhow, so immediately that whole issue came into question. Okay, if you don’t belong to him, who is your dad? And then, fast forward about 20 – 25 years, and my older sister got into a big fight with my dad and bounced over to my mom and just said, you know, “I wish he wasn’t my dad.” So my mom said “Well, you know, I’ve got something to tell you. He really isn’t.”
Fisher: Oh boy.
Steve: You know, that kind of created some issue. So through the years we kind of knew that there were a couple of nine kids in our family that were not kids of my father that raised us. My younger brother and I have always talked about let’s get some DNA testing and find who is and who isn’t. And by the way there was always a story in the family about my mother getting sick when she was 45 years old and writing a letter and telling all the secrets in this letter. And it was given to our sister with the idea that my mother was going to die and then the sister would give it to us kids.
Steve: Now, my mother never died. She’s still alive at 93. And the sister has long since died. And so we’ve always looked for this letter and kind of assumed that it was given to one of the cousins or another aunt.
Fisher: Now how are you guys dealing with all this? I mean, mom tells the sister that dad isn’t your father. You’re finding out that he doesn’t match from blood. You skip ahead 20 years. There’s a lot of families that don’t last 20 years after news like that. I mean, how did you all cope with this?
Steve: You know, I…. Don’t know. We just did. And not only that, but we really get along. We really… After all these years, we’re a very close family. We keep in touch with each other on a weekly basis. We come back for reunions and love them. I don’t know how we did it, but we did it.
Fisher: So let’s get back to this now. Your brother was thinking “We’ve got to do some DNA. We’ve got to find out something here.”
Steve: Yeah. So he has a friend, and his friend owns a lab, a DNA lab that does paternity testing throughout the world. It’s in southern California. And he talked to him about this. And he said “Hey, if he just gets some DNA. You need to get some from your dad. You need to get some from your mom. And then one of you kids needs to provide some DNA.” You know, I had the means to do it, so I thought alright, I’ll pay for it and then that’ll create the base. And then either the kids in the family who want to can pay to have their own DNA tested against the standard that we’ve created with mom and dad.
Steve: Well, when my dad died, my brother said okay, this is our last chance to get dad. So Dad is in the viewing room of the funeral home. So I went to the other corner of the room and created a distraction. And my brother reaches in and pulls out a hand full of hair.
Fisher: From your father’s corpse?
Steve: Yeah. So, you know, he gave me the signal “Got it. It’s all here.” And so everything went fine after that.
Fisher: Now to do that by the way, I understand you need roots to get any DNA out of hair. There’s none in the follicle itself, but it’s in the roots.
Steve: Right. And we checked that to make sure that we had it.
Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]
Steve: You know, if we didn’t, we were then going to ask the funeral director if he could provide us with some. Which, by the way, Tom had already asked him that, and after the funeral, we didn’t realize this was going to happen, after the funeral he came to us with an envelope with dad’s hair in it. So we had plenty to work with.
Fisher: You had a lot, yes.
Steve: And then with my mom, you know my niece was doing some kind of research at school and so we just asked mom can we get a cheek swab so we can help that niece, you know, get some data for her, and she was fine with that. So we got it for dad, we got it for mom. And then I provided a cheek swab. And you know I knew that my younger brother and I were dad’s sons because we look like him. Our mannerisms are like him.
Fisher: Sure. So you were gonna check out just fine.
Steve: Right. Right and I was fine with that. And we get the results back, and Tom’s friend says “You know… Mr Anderson got your results back and you do not belong to your father.”
Steve: Yeah. “Ooh” is right, and then my brother was so shocked by this, he said “Hey, I’m going to get tested.” So we ended up testing him, and he doesn’t belong to my father.
Steve: So then I talk to my sister. I’m very, very close to her and I need somebody to vent with. And so I talk to her and eventually she says “Okay. I’m getting tested.” And so she gets tested and she doesn’t belong to him. And I thought “Okay, we’ve got a faulty match here. We’ve got a bad sample.”
Fisher: [Laughs] This can’t be.
Steve: Well, we found dad’s razor and it had plenty hair in it and our friend in California said “Listen, give me that, there’s skin samples, flakes in there and I’ll use that.” He did the test again, ran it again, and the results were all the same. So she called another sister. She says “I can’t believe that, this is impossible. I’m gonna get tested.” And she’s not dads. Long story short: Nine children, eight different fathers. Tom and I found out that we’re both from the same father. And so I confront my mother and said “Hey.”
Fisher: Now how old is she at this point when you confronted her?
Steve: At this point, this was 3 years ago, so she was 90 years old.
Steve: Yeah. And her mind is very sharp. And so I said “Mom, listen, we’ve had some DNA testing done and we’ve found some surprises.”
Steve: And, you know, she denied it at first, but the next day she called and said “Steve, come on over. We need to talk.” And we talked. And she gave me the names of all the fathers.
Fisher: For each of the children, each of the 9?
Steve: Yeah. And Tom and I did one more test and found out that we are actually from the same father. But none of us, none of us 9 children were from the father that raised us.
Fisher: So, nine kids, eight fathers, one marriage, but none of the kids from the father in the marriage?
Steve: Correct. And you know my dad never ever said a thing about this to us kids. And I remember once getting mad at mom for something as a kid, I don’t know. And dad just turned to me and said “Steve, you don’t ever talk to your mother like that.” He says, “You show respect to your mother.”
Fisher: Now he obviously knew, right? Was this an arrangement because perhaps he couldn’t have children?
Steve: You know, after we heard about the two other siblings at first, many years ago, the joke in the family was wouldn’t it be funny if we found out dad was sterile. Well… I don’t think it’s a joke anymore. I think it’s pretty much what we’ve concluded. Because I mean they’ve stayed together. They were married for 25 years and eventually did get a divorce, but not because of this, because of something else. But I mean you don’t stay together for 25 years and not have children.
Fisher: So you think there was an arrangement?
Steve: I don’t know. If I had to conclude something I would say there was some kind of arrangement. But what was interesting is my younger brother Tom who was back only about 7 or 8 years ago in our home town, there was a fare there and he was back for that. And my dad came up to him with an older gentleman and he said “Tom, there’s somebody here I’d like you to meet.” And he introduced him and then they walked away. And Tom thought “That was so weird.” Until we realized now that that was his father or our father that he’d just been introduced to.
Steve: So dad obviously knew enough to tell this guy that “Hey, you want to see one of your sons?” And then brought him around to introduce him to him.
Fisher: All right, so here’s the question, Steve. And I think the point of all this that’s very important to people listening right now is: I’m sure are a lot of other folks out there dealing with family secrets. Things they’re concerned about. Things they’re upset about. Let’s talk about how you all have dealt with it. Now everybody knows at this point, yes?
Steve: No. There are two that don’t. Well, one died. And so, that’s a moot point now. But there’s one still alive that does not know about it, and we cannot let this individual know until our mother is gone, and the wife of her father is still alive, so.
Fisher: Oh, okay.
Steve: We can’t do that.
Fisher: So complications, right. Do no harm. Do no pain first, right?
Steve: I mean, given who she is, we know she will then go and confront the wife or somebody or our mother, and it just wouldn’t be good.
Fisher: Okay, so how has this affected all your relationships, with mom, particularly?
Steve: Yeah, you know, with 9 of us there’s one who won’t see her anymore. There’s one who just says, you know, “I’m done with her.” With me, it took me about 3 months. There was an enormous sense of betrayal up front. But after about 3 months of working through this, I finally was able to put it aside. This was about 3 and half years ago. And I still call my mother every Sunday night. Others have handled it very well. Others, you know, just think this is a fascinating story. Laugh about it, and when we get together, it’s a great source of entertainment. But a couple of them are really struggling with it and one in particular really… He won’t have anything to do with her now. But we have varying degrees all the way from “No, I’m not your son anymore.” to “Mom, we all make mistakes. Not quite like this, but we all do.”
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. Well, have anybody reached out to half siblings from some of the other fathers?
Steve: No. No. We’ve consciously made it a point to really not do any of this until a few more people have passed on. We just need to make sure all of the spouses of the men are gone. And even then I think we want to be extremely careful who we reach out to.
Fisher: That’s right.
Steve: Because some could handle it well and some won’t.
Fisher: That’s right. It’s a delicate situation, isn’t it?
Steve: It is. You just have to play it by ear. I know that, you know, one of the things for me that’s been a real blessing is growing up I’ve always seen on my father’s side, the father that raised us, which by the way as far as I’m concerned, he is my father, and his posterity is my posterity.
Steve: And he will always be, and I’ve talked with my siblings and they all agree completely that dad, especially given now seeing what he has done and raising us and never, never betraying that secret, has just risen him as far as respect. But, um, we grew up seeing his siblings dying of cancer and his parents both died of stomach cancer, and his grandfather died of stomach cancer. So about… When I hit 50, I’m 61 now. When I hit 50 the doctor every year ordered a colonoscopy.
Steve: When I found out about this, it was the first thing to go. I went to him and said, “Hey, can we go to the five year check up? We’re fine on that.
Fisher: [Laughs] Steve, unbelievable story. And I can’t thank you enough for sharing it with us. I think it’s of benefit to a lot of people who might be dealing with secrets like this. Perhaps to learn from how you people have done so. And God bless and good luck.
Steve: Great, Fish. Thank you. I enjoyed it.
Fisher: It’s a story that’s not over yet.
Steve: Oh. Not by any means. Not by any means. Thank you Scott!
Fisher: Whew. I think we all have to catch our breath after that one. Coming up next, one of my favorite segments from our first 100 shows, it’s a descended of abolitionist John Brown telling her story. Catch it in 5 minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 100
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Alice Keesey Mecoy
Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Our 100th show, very excited about that! It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And one of the best parts about the whole thing is, getting to visit with so many interesting people with amazing stories. Like this one, with Alice Keesey Mecoy, a descendant of abolitionist, John Brown, who many say started the Civil War. What is your relationship to him?
Alice: I’m his great, great, great granddaughter, that’s three greats.
Fisher: Three greats. And you’ve taken his legacy and are actually living it very much today, so let’s talk about this. When did you first know that you were descended from John Brown?
Alice: I found it out when I was sixteen from a local amateur historian. My family didn’t really talk about it much.
Fisher: Really? Now is that because they had some concern about it or they just didn’t care?
Alice: Actually, when Annie, John Brown’s daughter moved to California, the family kind of put it behind them so that their children could live a normal life. So it was something that they were proud of, but they kind of kept it in the background from their children to protect them from all the notoriety and that just continued through that family. My grandmother, in 1976 participated with a group of women and made a quilt that depicted parts of American history that shouldn’t be forgotten. And her quilt piece was on Harpers Ferry and while she was quilting it, she told the women that she was descended from John Brown. The quilt ended up hanging at Dakota State University and it was written up in the paper a little blurb that John Brown’s granddaughter had a piece of the quilt. And the local historian, Jean Libby found that article, tracked down my grandmother and tracked down me. And so, since 1976, we’ve been in touch. To begin with, I didn’t care, I was sixteen.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs]
Alice: I really didn’t care at all.
Fisher: But there’s quite a legacy there and you had to sort a few things out, because John Brown is revered on the one hand and despised by others on the other hand.
Alice: Yes and I experienced that. I live in Texas now and his not on the revered side here in Texas.
Fisher: [Laughs] Have you experienced some problems as a result of this?
Alice: I actually gave a speech a few years ago at my local library and I had a picketer. Someone actually picketed the library because they were spending money on a John Brown event.
Fisher: All these years later. So you were sixteen when you found out. You didn’t care at that point. When did you care and then what happened as result of that interest?
Alice: I grew up, moved away, and got married, had children and Jean still kept in touch with me. And she would send historians to me who wanted to talk to a descendant of John Brown. So I started doing some research. My kids were little, I’m getting through a lot. As soon as were in high school, I kind of went crazy with doing the research. And when my kids moved out to college, John Brown and his entire family moved into my house.
Fisher: Oh boy!
Alice: I have an office that is completely John Brown. I have files. I have artwork. I do have a couple of bibles that were the family’s. I have one that is very near and dear to me that was owned by Oliver. He carried it in Kansas during the bloody years of Kansas.
Fisher: So as you have studied John Brown, obviously there’s a great connection for you at this point. What is this side of him that you go, “Well, I’m not really sure I like that.”
Alice: Well there are parts of everyone that you can like and don’t like.
Alice: The parts that happened in Kansas, well I don’t agree exactly with what happened in Kansas. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what his motivation was, but yes, we’ll say it, he’s responsible for the death of some people at Potawatomie Creek. He thought his family was in danger and there were bounties on his family’s head and so he struck first. Am I proud of that? Not really, but it’s a part of who he is. It’s a part of the whole story of John Brown.
Fisher: Oh absolutely! We all have interesting characters in our backgrounds.
Alice: Oh yeah.
Fisher: And they do make it colorful, don’t they?
Alice: They do, they do. There’s just so many interesting things in studying John Brown. He has a granddaughter that sued Warner Brothers over the Santa Fe Trail movie.
Fisher: Huh! And there’s been a lot of movies made about him over the years.
Alice: There’s been a few, yes. And most of them are kind of not that great. [Laughs]
Fisher: Not that accurate or you just don’t like that light they shaded him in?
Alice: Well many are not accurate, but again it’s Hollywood, so of course they always change things. And some of them, I don’t care for the light they shed him in, but mostly because of the accuracy.
Fisher: All right, now how about your kids? How have the taken to this?
Alice: Well I have twin boys, Manson and Jeffery, who are now twenty seven years old and they are proud of it, but they’re still not of the age where they really care that much about it. They’ll listen to me and they can spout some of the stuff back to me, but they’re really not that excited about it. And growing up in Texas, they never really learned about John Brown, except from me.
Fisher: So you have taken his legacy now and kind of adopted it, because of course he was a big time abolitionist. This was the whole point of really his behavior that led to so much violence. You today also go and fight his battle.
Alice: I do. I’m on the board of two really amazing organizations, John Brown Lives in Lake Placid, New York, which is actually right next door to North Elba where John Brown lived for a number of years, and it’s a human right education organization that I’m very proud to be on the board of governors of. And then I’m also on the Frederick Douglass Family Institute which is founded by Kenneth Morris who is the three time great grandson of Frederick Douglass. And there’s a really interesting story there about us. Frederick Douglass and John Brown met right before the Harpers Ferry raid and that was the last time anyone in the family has ever spoke. They never spoke again, until about 2009 when Kenneth and I talked on the phone. And then in 2012, we actually met in person and we have pictures we had taken that this is the first time that the Douglass and the Brown families have been together in 152 years.
Fisher: Isn’t that something, when you think about that. And you’ve really taken this to a new level and there are a lot of concerns around the world right now, like human trafficking and sex trade and slaves.
Alice: Yes actually, there are more slaves now than there were in the 1800s in America, throughout the world there are more slaves.
Fisher: So let’s talk for a minute about this idea of taking a legacy, as you’ve done with your ancestor and basically magnifying it. Because obviously John brown is back what, six generations from you? You have really taken what he did and taken into the 21st century. How can other people do this with their ancestors?
Alice: [Laughs] That’s an interesting question. There’s always somebody in your family tree that you just really connect with always. I found people have said there’s always someone in their family tree they connect with. But everybody has somebody in their family tree that did something miraculous, something unique, something remarkable, be it a firefighter, be it someone who died for slavery, but they didn’t have to die for their passion. I know of one woman who is a great seamstress, because all of her ancestors have been seamstresses and she was so excited when she found that out. She thought it was just her and she’s gone back and seen you know, that’s how her family made their living. So I’m sure there’s some way you can connect with somebody specifically in your family.
Fisher: Is there somebody else in your line that you have a strong connection with?
Alice: I have a great affection for Annie, his daughter, my great, great grandmother. And I have a very strong love of Martha who was John Brown’s daughter in law, who to me is one of the true heroes of the 19th century, the 1800s. She married into a family that her family didn’t want her to marry into, because the Browns were very controversial. She spent time at a Kennedy farm before the raid, helping take care of the men. You know, there were twenty men living in a house and they hiding and they had Martha and Annie there to make it look more normal and take care of hiding them and cooking for them. And then they went back home to New York. And when John Brown was hung, the family all took to bed, ill and Martha who was now pregnant, took care of everybody, took care of the farm, took care of everything, and kept it running. And her husband died at the raid. When she finished taking care of everyone, she came down sick, went to bed and basically had her daughter and died because she had nothing left to live for. So she gave her youth, her husband, her daughter who died and her life for the fight against slavery.
Fisher: What a story! Alice Keesey Mecoy, it’s been a delight talking to you today. And thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Alice: You’re very welcome.
Fisher: Alice Keesey Mecoy, a descendant of abolitionist, John Brown. And coming up next, Tom Perry talks preservation on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode100
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And welcome to the preservation segment of our program, Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com. Tom, welcome back. Good to have you.
Tom: Good to be back.
Fisher: We’re hearing a lot of people who are having trouble playing disks they recorded on one machine, and they sent it to somebody who has the same machine and the disk won’t play. What’s going on there?
Tom: Okay. You run into this a lot, it’s an incompatibility problem. It’s almost common sense, but sometimes we put on blinders when we’re buying stuff. You know, like I tell people when they come into our store. We had a couple last week that came and said, “Hey, I bought one of these VHS to DVD machines.” or, “I bought of these little boxes that I plug my VHS into or my Hi8 and then plug it into my computer and I go and burn these disks and there’s glitches in it.” or, “It looks fine, but then I send it off to my uncle, he pops it in his DVD player and it won’t play.” Okay, the reason for this is the quality of the parts. You know, the same reason Maserati costs more than a Ford Fiesta.
Tom: You know? It’s the parts that are in it that make the whole, so to speak.
Tom: And so, what happens is, we’ve said this before most computers are not made to turn stuff from analog to digital. That’s not what they’re designed for.
Tom: They’re designed to work with digital information that they’re given and compact them. Move them around, do whatever. So, what happens, you have these little boxes that are usually like fifty bucks, and the reason its fifty bucks is, the components in them are pretty cheap. And so, what happens, you plug your VHS into it, this little box is trying to turn all your analog stuff into digital and then put it in a format that the computer understands. It’s like we have too much earwax in one ear and it’s not hearing the conversation right.
Tom: So, it’s getting your zeros and your ones all mixed up, and there’s nothing worse in this world than getting your zeros and ones mixed up.
Fisher: Can’t have that!
Tom: Oh, absolutely not!
Tom: So, you’re getting glitches and all kinds of stuff, and then once in a while, in some of your machines which we mentioned that is actually a VHS to DVD machine that it doesn’t have the box in between, and you go and do stuff and you say, “Oh yeah! This looks beautiful! This is wonderful!” And then you send that out to Aunt Margaret, she pops it in and says, “You sent me a blank disk. There’s nothing on the disk. It says it can’t read it. It says I need to put a different disk in.” And she sends it back to you, you pop it in and it plays fine. The reason why these machines that Costco or Sam’s Club are a couple of hundred dollars is the same reason a Fiesta is as inexpensive as it is. The components are really cheap. Those machines are made for you to record television or whatever you want to do or transfer your VHS tapes to DVD for you to use on that machine.
Tom: So, it’s basically almost proprietary information that’s on that machine, and it’s so loosely written that this machine says, “Oh okay. This is stupid, but I know what it means, because it’s my machine.”
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, is there a way to copy that file, say, onto your desktop and then it’s playable on something else?
Tom: Usually not. Sometimes if you have a higher end computer and you have the right software, sometimes you can take this DVD that you’ve made, which if you ever take a DVD, a quality DVD and put it in your computer, it will say it’s a TS file. If you look at it where it shows you the thumbnails, you go, there’s a video TS and an audio TS. Why is that? Really quickly, in the old copyright days, they made this so it’s harder to copy DVDs.
So, you have a TS file for video and TS file for audio and what happens is, these kind of get corrupted and don’t play together and if you separate them and try to put them back together, they’ll never work. But sometimes if you have a good program like Cinematize which we talk about constantly on the show, you can take the TS file and convert it to an MOV, and then take that MOV and make it into a QuickTime movie. Put it on your Facebook page then email that to Aunt Margaret, if she’s computer literate, and then she should be able to play it okay.
Fisher: Wow! I mean that sounds very complex.
Tom: Oh, it is.
Fisher: Challenging, isn’t it?
Tom: Oh, it is. It’s very much just like if somebody speaks Spanish, they might be able to understand some people in Portuguese and different languages that are close. But it’s not going to be really, really good enough to, you know, get by. And that’s the problem you’re going to run in with these machines, that’s the reason they’re so cheap. I tell people, if I could go and buy equipment for $250, I wouldn’t be spending $3500 on the machine, because we have to guarantee our job. When somebody brings us in a VHS it had better work when they get their DVD home. And we’re going to do a little bit more of incompatibility problems concerning disks, why they might not work for you as well, in the second segment.
Fisher: All right, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 100
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, answering a question about dealing with disks and compatibility. And it sound like it’s quite complicated, Tom, and most of it has to do with the fact that most of the equipment that’s available to us through Costco and other outlets is just not very good quality material.
Tom: Exactly! You know, you have to understand that when you’re buying something, nine out of ten times, you get what you pay for and the thing is, things have changed so much, even with camcorders. I remember my first camera situation, when I used to shoot NFL films, it was like a $30,000 system. You can go and buy for two or three thousand dollars, a Canon video camera now, that blows that thing away, and it’s a few thousand dollars. So, there’s real good quality equipment that’s getting into people’s hands, they have no idea what they’re doing with it. People are starting to be DIY people, do it yourself people. They need to be educated on this kind of stuff. So, just because you buy a machine, don’t just plug it in and start doing stuff. Read the manual! As much as everybody hates to read the manual, read the manual, do research online, find out what you need to do.
And a lot of times, somebody will go and spend two or three hundred dollars to buy a machine, thinking they’re going to be able to do all this stuff, and they find out they can’t. Now they wasted two or three hundred dollars. They end up sending their tapes into us anyway, to have them transferred. So save yourself some of those problems, take it to us, take it to another good quality place and make sure that they get it right. Now, going back to the incompatibility problem that can happen even with your disks, people call me all the time and say, “Hey” and say, “I’m looking at these disks, there’s plus Rs, there’s minus Rs, there’s DL, there’s RWs. What do I buy? What should I go with?”
Fisher: Yeah. What does this mean?
Tom: Exactly! I always say Taiyo Yuden disks. If you forget what the name of it is, go to our website, TMCPlace.com and you’ll see on there the Taiyo Yuden disk is the kind that you want to use. The thing is, plus Rs were the first disks to come out, so it’s kind of like experimental. And when they first came out, Sony and Apple were kind of not interested in carrying them. They wanted to wait till the dash R disk came out, which is a better disk, but they’re still selling plus Rs even though they don’t need to anymore. But about three to four years ago, Sony and Apple started making their Macs and their Sony machines compatible with the plus Rs just because there were so many out there. But if you have the choice to pick between a plus R and a dash R disk, I would always go with a dash R. I have so much better luck with dash R disks then I do plus Rs, and they’re usually the same price anyway, it’s just the format they’ve used.
So, basically back to the cheap equipment, it’s cheaper to make a driver that reads or burns a plus R disk, than it is a dash R disk. I can always buy plus R stuff cheaper then I can dash R. And just like the old VHS, BetaMax thing, “Oh, this is cheaper. This is what I’m going to go with.” Well, cheaper sometimes isn’t the best way to go. So try to find a machine that burns dash Rs, because it’s going to last longer and it’s the better way to go. And I really don’t like dual layer disks, because major incompatibility problems with them. Because usually people say, “Oh, I’ve got this thing that’s four hours long. I don’t want to go to BluRay, but I don’t want to use two disks.” Go ahead and do two disks, because it’s going to be cheaper for you to duplicate two standard disks than one dual layer disk. Plus, a lot of machines have problems playing dual layer disks. If it’s not professionally done, I stay away from duel layer disks. I talk clients how to use them all the time.
If you’re having a disk replicated, like a Disney DVD you’d buy in the store, so you’d buy like a thousand of them, they’re stamping them out, then doing dual layer disks are fine, because they’re all zeros and ones and they’re in the right place. Everything is going to go well if you’re using a dual layer disk that is basically a professional disk that’s stamped out, not one that you burn at home. Now about the RW disks, I don’t like rewriteable disks, because the same thing like we talked about a few weeks ago, about reusing a tape, they can get worse. Same thing with disks, as it erases the zeros rewrite zeros, the dye actually gets weaker. And so, the more times you write on it, the less compatible it’s going to be. And disks are so inexpensive, even the Taiyo Yuden disks, you can buy it at a decent price. Don’t get RW disks they’re just going to cause you all kinds of problems.
Fisher: All right! Great stuff, Tom! Thanks for joining us.
Tom: Glad to have been here.
Fisher: Well I can believe I’m saying this, but that wraps up our 100th show. Thanks once again to Steve Anderson for coming on and sharing a very personal family story that’s impacting him and his eight siblings. Also to Alice Keesey Mecoy, the descendant of abolitionist, John Brown and how he still affects her life today. If you missed any of it, catch the podcast starting Monday night. See you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice normal family!