Rob Portegies-Zwart

The Genealogy of Genes

We almost had a full house for our monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 15, which was attended by a total of 52 people, including 20 non-members! The audience listened to Medardo Monzon’s presentation “The Genealogy of Genes”, a fascinating story about the discovery of DNA.  Using simple props and historic photographs, Medardo explained what DNA is, and how the puzzle of this remarkable molecule was solved. He also described the different types of DNA genetic testing, and showed how his own DNA test results encapsulate the story of human migration. Finally, he explained how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies, without entering the nucleus of the cell where our DNA is located. Thank you very much for a great presentation, Medardo!

The Last Spanish Land Grant in Florida

AIGS started off the new year on January 18 with a presentation by Past-President Jean Dixon Mann. No less than 38 attendees, including several new members and 13 non-members (welcome!) were treated to the fascinating story of the family of Domingo and Mary Fernandez who once owned large plantations on Amelia Island. Their descendants still retain ownership of probably the Last Spanish land grant in Florida, which constitutes one acre between St. Michael’s Church and St. Michael’s School between North 4th and 5th Streets.  Jean had traced many of these descendants, not only in Florida, but also in other parts of the world, and told us their interesting stories. Thank you very much, Jean!

Ancestor Road Show

During our Annual Meeting on November 16, members had the opportunity to talk briefly about a family heirloom or tell a family history. As always, the presenters did not disappoint, but treated us with a variety of funny and interesting stories. An old Vortalex fan blade; an even older gravy bowl; a handwritten letter about the history of the First Baptist Church; a poem from great-grandma’s wooden scrapbook about the arrival of Rayonnier; the many applications of a Scottish hat; the search for a husband’s elusive family; a couple of great-grandparents who were literally clowning around; and a distant ancestor who operated as a Barbery pirate, these were the topics of the presentations. Our thanks go to Frances Bartelt, Jim Ramage, Betty Waas, Valerie Davis, Gus Reinwald, Jean Mann and Jim Shroads for their very entertaining contributions.

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