Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: It’s Saturday Night again – Time for some more Genealogy Fun!!
Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!): 1) Have you done an autosomal DNA test? If so, which testing company/ies?
2) Of your Top 10 DNA matches on any site, how many are a known relative, and are they in your family tree? No names…but give a known relationship if possible.
I tested with Ancestry and transferred my DNA to GedMatch, MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA. Besides my data, I also manage DNA tests for my mother and my two brothers on Ancestry.
On Ancestry, my test have lots of matches. I have so many matches that it takes forever for the page to completely load. Since Ancestry won’t tell me how many matches I have until the page loads, I don’t have readily available DNA stats. I did take the time to figure this out a couple of weeks ago. Below are those stats.
Below are the top ten matches (excluding immediate family members) for the four tests that I manage on Ancestry. Note that I am MC in the below table and all relationships are to me. RC is my mother.
Even though I have my DNA on other sites, I have to confess that I haven’t spent a lot of time figuring out the relationships. Of the first page of my matches on MyHeritage, only one is a close relationship, a second cousin. The rest of the matches are distant cousins. Unfortunately, many of those matches either have a very small tree or no tree. Since these are distant cousins, I haven’t taken the time to contact them to begin figuring out our relationship.
Some of my known cousins have transferred their DNA to GedMatch. However, many of my closer matches are not in my tree. Again, the lack of a tree (gedcom) file makes it more difficult for me to figure out the relationship.
This exercise has shown that I have work to do. However, I plan to continue expanding my tree by researching descendants versus trying to figure out how I’m related to all of these matches whose tree is either too small for me to recognize a connection or missing entirely.
Do you ever look at a genealogy resource with rose colored glasses? In other words, do you perceive that resource as the one resource that will break thru brick walls? That is how I approached DNA testing.
Unlike many people who are testing their DNA, I already knew a lot about my ancestors. Even though the following chart was recently created with the preview edition of RootsMagic 8, I had most of these ancestors in my file when I started working with DNA over 5 years ago.
Even though DNA likely won’t help me identify that ‘next’ generation, I am finding that it is providing ‘Supporting Evidence’ for my current research.
For example, my Currey line goes thru several generations of Hiram Curreys to the Hiram Mirick Currey who was the treasurer of the state of Ohio in 1819. Through the years, I’ve worked with other researchers and collected documents that appear to support the lineage. However, I don’t have a deed, will or probate record that ties one generation to the next.
Thanks to Ancestry ThruLines, some of my matches show up as descendants of Hiram Mirick Currey thru his other children.
Not only do I look for descendants thru other children, I also look for descendants thru a different spouse. For example, my 2nd great-grandfather, Richmond Fisk Hammond, remarried after his wife, my 2nd great-grandmother died. He had a daughter thru this second marriage. ThruLines supports this second family.
Another example is my ancestor, James Crawford’s wife, Sarah Smith Duggins. Since she had a previous marriage, I’m hoping to use her ThruLines to learn more about my Smith ancestors.
I’ve found that my Ancestry ThruLines data can also point out spots in my tree that might be incorrect. For example, I have James B McCormick and Sarah Hall as the parents of Nancy Jane McCormick Ralston (1818-1907). When I look at ThruLines, James B. McCormick has 4 matches with two of those being my brothers. That’s not a lot of support for him being the father of Nancy, especially when compared to his wife Sarah Hall who has 30 DNA matches.
I’ve taken advantage of the ability to download my Ancestry DNA and upload my results to other sites, including GedMatch and My Heritage. Because my ancestry is basically colonial, my Ancestry results are providing more connections than My Heritage. Thus, I spend most of my ‘DNA time’ working with Ancestry data.
Not only was I wearing rose colored glasses when doing autosomal DNA testing, but also when having my brother do yDNA testing. I was hoping that this test would identify my Crawford ancestors. Unfortunately, that hasn’t proven to be true to date.
Even though yDNA hasn’t helped identify the parents of James Crawford, it has proven a connection with the other James Crawford families in Garrard County, Kentucky.
As pointed out by several genetic genealogists, tools such as triangulation or segment data are needed to prove a genetic relationship. These tools are not available on Ancestry where the majority of my DNA data resides. With an over-abundance of DNA data, I’m content (for now) with not being able to use my DNA data as scientific proof of a relationship. Instead, I will continue to use it as a tool to evaluate my tree and as a way to connect with cousins who might have additional information.
Since I just happened to have tested myself, my two brothers and my mother, we have the required DNA to reconstruct my father’s DNA!
To use this tool, I opted to download new files from Ancestry. To get to Ancestry’s Download option, I selected a DNA test and then I clicked on the Settings wheel while.
I scrolled to the bottom of the Settings screen to get to the Actions box, where I found the Download DNA Data section.
Clicking on the blue Download expanded the screen. I had to enter my password, click on the ‘I Understand’ box and Confirm.
Then I waited. (Yes, I’m impatient when it comes to verification emails!) Once the email arrived, there was a blue ‘Download DNA data’ box that I clicked on.
That took me back to Ancestry where I was able to click on the green Download DNA button to download the file.
This opened Windows Explorer. I migrated to my DNA folder and saved the file. (Knowing where this file is saved is critical!)
Ancestry DNA downloads as a zip file. Normally, this file is left untouched when uploading to other sites. However, with the HAPI tool, a .txt or .csv file is required. Thus, I needed to extract the zip file. Since my computer is a Windows based computer, I right clicked on the file and selected ‘Extract All’ from the menu.
This creates a new folder with an AncestryDNA.txt file inside. Since I needed to work with four different Ancestry DNA files, I renamed each of the files so I could identify whose DNA was in the file.
Then I opened the HAPI tool site in my browser. The tool prompted me to upload a file containing my parent’s DNA. Then it prompted me to upload DNA from three children of that parent.
Then I clicked on Run HAPI and waited. It didn’t take long to finish. When finished, I was prompted to ‘Print reconstructed parent’. Clicking on this blue button allowed me to SAVE the file for my dad.
Curious as to how accurate this new DNA might be, I wanted to upload it to GedMatch, where I could do one to one comparisons with known cousins. So on Getmatch.com, I located the menu section, Upload your DNA files.
I entered my dad’s name and an alias and indicated his gender. I then scrolled down to the ‘testing company’ section. I selected OTHER for the source and entered HAPI for the company name. I indicated that my dad is deceased.
Once the data had finished uploading, I did several One to One comparisons. The first comparison was with one of his first cousins on his dad’s side.
The second comparison was with a 1st cousin twice removed on his mother’s side.
I have no idea how accurate the HAPI tool is. However, it is more than I had! Once GedMatch has had time to process the data, I will run a One to Many test to see what I get.
This week’s #52 Ancestors blog prompt is ‘Fortune’. At first, I didn’t think I would be writing on this topic since I was looking at the term as a monetary term and my family has no fortune.
Then I encountered the blog post Double Cousins and DNA on The DNA Geek site and realized that I am fortunate to have numerous 1st thru 3rd cousin DNA matches. Thus, my ‘fortune’ is all of these cousin matches.
The DNA Geek is starting a project to study DNA results when double cousins are involved. To begin the study they are seeking data for a specific set of cousin matches. Below is a diagram showing the desired matches in the yellow-orange.
Well, I do have double cousins. My great-grandfather, Charles Mentzer married Nettie Wells. Charles’ brother, John Frederick Mentzer married Anna Wells, the sister of Nettie. When I first studied the above diagram, I was pretty sure I could come up with the double cousin match, but didn’t think I had the 1st cousin match.
Knowing that I had quite a few MENTZER matches, I had to diagram it out. So I started drawing out my MENTZER/WELLS line and added my DNA matches. I am the yellow square in the diagram below.
When I compared my diagram to the one from the blog, I realized that I am not in the generation they wanted for this initial study. Since I manage my mother’s DNA, I drew out the family and added her matches. Studying that diagram, I realized that I do have data for the desired cousin matches!
Curious about what the diagram would be like for my brothers, I also drew out their matches.
Even though my data is for second cousins and not 1st cousins, I’m ready with lots of data when they are ready to receive it.
When I first had my DNA tested, much of the commercial emphasis was on ethnicity. You might even remember the Ancestry commercial where Kyle traded in his lederhosen for a kilt.
Contrary to that focus, I was more interested in connecting with cousins to help verify some of my research and to help break down some brick walls. Since most of my lines are colonial American, I have over 200 years to document before making a connection to my immigrant ancestors and to my ethnicity.
Thus, when ancestry developed their communities, I started paying attention. Although those communities supported my paper research, they were just additional information and not proof for a lineage.
After reading Ellen Thompson-Jennings recent post, Do You Have New AncestryDNA Communities? I got curious to see if I did have any new ones. When I looked at my DNA story, I had a new group, but I also believe that I have groups that disappeared.
In looking back thru my blog at my DNA articles, I did not find any post documenting my communities. I found a few posts that made reference to either the community or my ethnicity.
So, when I opened up my DNA results today, I was informed that I had a new community.
A look at the map of my communities, it shows two communities: the ORANGE area for Early Connecticut & New York Settlers and the BLUE area for Lower Midwest and Virginia settlers.
Since I have no idea what communities I had before, I feel like I need to start documenting the DNA story for the tests I manage. Besides my own DNA (shown above), I manage DNA kits for my two brothers and for my mother. Below are their DNA communities as identified in February 2021.
My ancestors were in all of these communities. With the exception of the Michigan community, my dad’s side of the tree would have been found in these same communities. In looking thru my tree and their migration path from the coast to Kansas, there is only one family line that does not fit these communities.
That family line is my BRILES line on my mom’s side of the tree. My ancestor, Alexander Briles, brought his family to Kansas from Randolph County, North Carolina prior to the civil war. The BRILES line is in Randolph County for several generations prior to that. Alexander’s great-grandfather, Conrad Broil. Conrad Broil, and his parents, Johannes Broyles and Ursula Ruop, arrived in Virginia in 1727 as members of the second Germanna colony. Based on this line, one would expect a community originating in Virginia and branching out to North Carolina and Tennessee.
My loyalist Harding line was in New York. However, these communities do not indicate that this line went from New York to New Brunswick for about 70 years. From New Brunswick, my branch of the line migrated to Wisconsin and then to Iowa.
Although our ethnicity estimates aren’t very helpful in this point of my research, I am going to document them here for future reference. Below are the estimates for February 2021 for all four tests.
England & NW Europe
Hopefully some day this type of DNA information will help identify targeted research areas. For now, it is just maps and numbers. How about your communities and ethnicity data? Is it helpful to your genealogical research?
When I collected the data for my ThruLines Summary post, I noticed an irregularity in the number of matches for Orinda Miles. My ancestor, Phillip Mentzer, has 21 ThruLInes.
Since I am unaware of a second marriage, I expect 21 DNA matches for both Phillip and Orinda Miles. However, I only have THREE matches for Orinda Miles.
When I compiled the data, I colored the text for Orinda’s results in RED so that I would remember this discrepency.
Thinking I had somehow recorded the wrong wife for Phillip Mentzer, I decided to compare my tree with the trees of my DNA matches for Phillip Mentzer. Most of those trees also list Orinda Miles as the wife of Phillip Mentzer. Curious, I looked at the ThruLines for Orinda’s father, Oliver Miles.
That’s when I discovered that I have an additional 15 DNA matches for Orinda Miles, but they are listed as a separate child from my Orinda Miles lines.
Since some records spell her name as Orenda or Orindia, I have added Alternate Names in hopes that I can ‘force’ the ThruLines computers to merge these two Orinda Miles.
Do you track your DNA statistics? At times, I’ve tried keeping track of these statistics but got frustrated when the way the information was reported would change. Thus, it became difficult to compare current data with previous data.
When it comes to ‘common ancestors,’ I couldn’t find the number reported by Ancestry. Since I don’t want to have to try and count them, I’m going to guesstimate. I recently posted my ThruLines Summary thru my 4th great grandparents. For my ‘guesstimate,’ I’m going to use 1/2 of the total number of ThruLines thru my 4th great grandparents. This isn’t an accurate calculation.
1/2 ThruLines thru 4th Great Grandparents
Theory of Relativity
64 cM or closer
34 cM or more
FAMILY TREE DNA
Total autosomal matches to my DNA – 6257
Total autosomal matches to brother 1’s DNA – 1677
FAMILY TREE DNA – yDNA results for brother
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 4 – 1
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 6 – 8
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 7 – 4
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 8 – 6
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 9 – 3
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 10 – 1
Big Y R-^88686 haplogroup matches – 3
With over 100,000 matches for one DNA test, there is NO WAY I’m going to be able to document all of those matchers. However, I’m using the ThruLines matches to help support my paper research. Thus, all of those matches are important to me.
It’s approaching that time of year when on reflects on the past year and looks forward to the next. Like most people, I’m ready for this pandemic to be over. However, I do like to look back on my genealogy to see how much progress I’ve made. In order to do that, I have to collect data for future comparison.
Thus, I’m going to collect data on my Ancestry DNA Thrulines. I am MC, my siblings are DC and TC and my parent is RC.
Most of those speaking out against ThruLines are either expressing doubt about all of the ‘Evaluate’ suggestions or have found actual errors in their ThruLines. Their point is valid, especially if one doesn’t take the time to document the suggested lineage.
I think the fact that I have tried to document descendants of my second great grandfathers has affected my opinion of ThruLines. Since I already have identified and documented the children, grandchildren and most of the great grandchildren of these ancestors, ThruLines is pulling information from MY tree to draw the connections between my ancestor and the parents of a DNA match – or – often my DNA match. Thus, I don’t have much to evaluate.
However, when I move back a generation, I’m finding that I have been lax about researching the descendants of my 3rd great grandfathers. Thus, I have a lot to ‘Evaluate’ on my ThruLines.
To complete this evaluation, I start at the top and look at what documentation I have and what I might be missing. In particular, I’m concentrating on the following types of sources:
Find a Grave records
Basically, I’m looking for enough documentation to support the family relationships, one generation at a time until reaching my DNA match.
So in my example, I will first check for missing documentation for the Phillip Mentzer, William Andrew Mentzer, and Moses Henry Mentzer.
Based on the need to ‘Evaluate’ Grace and Francis Mentzer, I obviously don’t have the family of Francis A. G. Mentzer in my RootsMagic database. To start the ‘Evaluation’ process, I use the ability of RootsMagic to connect with the FamilySearch tree. I know that the FamilySearch tree is controversial, but I view it as a starting point based on the consensus of other researchers. Thus, I will use RootsMagic to pull down a spouse and children for Francis A. G. Mentzer.
Once I have the family in my RootsMagic database, I will then use RootsMagic’s TreeShare to upload that family to my tree on Ancestry. Shortly after the upload is completed, I will start evaluating Ancestry hints for Francis A. G. Mentzer and his children. As I work with each hint, I am adding events and documentation to my RootsMagic database. After working thru the hints, I again do an upload to my Ancestry tree via RootsMagic’s TreeShare.
Then I start the entire process over again with the next generation down. In this example, that would mean pulling down the spouse and any identified children for Grace Mentzer and her brother, Francis G. Mentzer. Since this generation likely has living children, the FamilySearch tree will probably be incomplete. My next step is to upload to Ancestry so I can use their hinting system to locate records. Since many of their children are likely living, I need to locate records that identify those children. In some cases, I have been able to find birth and/or marriage records for the children. Most of the time, however, I need an obituary that identifies the children. As I find information identifying the children, I add them to my database as living individuals.
Once I have data to support the relationship suggested by ThruLines, I then document the DNA connection. I have created two PRIVATE facts for this documentation: DNAMatch and DNAThruLines:
For my DNA match, I add a DNAMatch fact. I enter 2020 as the SORT DATE and make sure PRIVATE is checked. I then add a source. I use the DNA-Ancestry ThruLines source that I created in RootsMagic. For the ‘Item of Interest’ I enter information about the match. At first, I was only entering the match’s name in this field. However, I have started being more descriptive here to help me identify which of the tests I manage are being matched. Thus, I’m trying to use the following pattern for the ‘Item of Interest’
Initials of tester shares __ cM __ segments with DNAMatch
On the Detail text screen, I add the ThruLines information starting with our common ancestor and working down to the match. I add information about our relationship and about the quantity of DNA shared.
The identity of my match has been whited out in the above image to protect their privacy. Once I have completed filling out the source, I the the MEMORIZE button to copy it.
I then move back a generation and create a DNAThruLines fact again making sure it is marked private and paste the recently copied source. As I document additional cousins, I add their source to this one fact.
I work my way back creating DNAThruLines facts and adding sources until I reach the common ancestor. Instead of continuing that practice back further generations, I SHARE the DNAThruLines fact with the ancestors of that common ancestor. In cases where there is only one wife, I also share the fact with the spouse of the common ancestor.
Judson Foster Crawford is the common ancestor for the DNAThruLines sources shown above. His DNAThruLines fact is shared with his wife, Mary Foster, and their ancestors going back about 3 generations.
By sharing the DNAThruLines fact in this way, I have already documented the DNA relationships thru that one child when I move back a generation. Thus, I only have to document the DNA relationships thru the other children.
By working thru the ThruLines suggestions in this way, I am improving my tree by adding descendants and documentation for those descendants. I am also able to add documentation for my DNA match. I am currently working on DNA matches for my 3rd great grandparents. This is a slow process, but is allowing me to validate those ThruLines suggestions.
Are you overwhelmed with DNA data? Have you ever tried looking at the data in a different way to see what you can learn from it?
The Leeds method of looking at DNA matches is often used for this purpose. Today, I read the blog post, 7-gen-1-sheet, by Ann Raymont. In this post, the author explains how to set up a spreadsheet to display 7 generations of ancestors. Once the spreadsheet is created, color coding can be used to identify patterns such as European roots, lineage society lines or whether a specific source has been used.
Intrigued by how this spreadsheet could be used, I decided to create the page of ancestors. As I was creating the spreadsheet, I decided to use it to look at my ThruLines data. Since I’ve tested myself, my two brothers and my mother, I have four sets of ThruLines. Even though I’ve looked thru this data for each match, I’ve never compared the results.
By adding columns for each of my DNA tests, I was able to record the number of matches for each ancestor from the 4 DNA tests.
Having this data all in one place will help me evaluate my tree in relation to my DNA results. For example, does it indicate an error in my tree if I only have a few matches for that ancestor? Having this data side by side has also allowed me to see that even though I might only have a few matches with descendants of a particular ancestor, my brothers or mother could have quite a few more matches. In those cases, the probability that my tree is accurate increases when I look at all four tests versus looking at just my results.
Now that I have 9 generations of ancestors on my spreadsheet, there are several other ways that I hope to utilize this sheet.
Color code states of residence in 1850
Color code ancestors whom I have found an obituary
Color code ancestors whom I have a Find a Grave source for
Color code potential DAR ancestor lines
Thank you Ann Raymont for sharing your 7-gen-1-sheet method of looking at our ancestors.