DNA JOY!

My mind is ‘jumping up and down’ with joy this morning. Another CRAWFORD researcher contacted me this morning to let me know he had found out his haplogroup: R-Y88686. That is the SAME haplogroup as my brother.

We FINALLY have some evidence that we are related!

We both descend from James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio. His James Crawford was born in 1770 in Augusta County, Virginia and died in 1833 in Warren County, Indiana. My James was born in 1772 in Virginia and died in 1854 in Preble County, Ohio.

Both men were living in Kentucky prior to 1800. His James married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. My James married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky. (Garrard County was formed in 1797 from Lincoln and Madison counties.)

In 1811, his James filed land entry papers showing he had made the final payment for the SW 1/4 of Section 14, Township 7 Range 2 East in Preble County, Ohio. In 1816, my James filed similar land entry papers showing he had made the final payment for the NW 1/4 of Section 14, Township 7, Range 2 East in Preble County, Ohio. Yes, they owned adjoining land.

These two families appear to have migrated together for over 100 years. Thus, we have long suspected a relationship.

Not only has our yDNA tests shown us that we need to keep looking for that relationship, but it has added a third James Crawford to the mix. This James was also in Garrard County prior to 1800. James was born in Augusta County, Virginia in 1758 and died in Jefferson County, Indiana in 1836. In 1779, this James Crawford married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell in Montgomery County, Virginia.

So that’s three members of our haplogroup:

  • three James Crawfords
  • all in Garrard County, Kentucky prior to 1800
  • all born in Virginia – likely in early Augusta County, Virginia
  • no father/son relationship between any of the three James Crawfords

The fourth member of our haplogroup descends from William Nelson Crawford. William was born in 1829 in Ohio. Little information about William has been found prior to his marriage to Julia Ann Decious in 1864 in Lassen, California. By 1877, William and Julia were living in Klickitat County, Washington. William died in Klickitat County in 1907.

This William Crawford may have been the 21 year old William Crawford listed in the household of William Crawford (son of James and Martha Crawford) on the 1850 census in Pike Township, Warren County, Indiana.

If so, that would place William Nelson Crawford in Warren County, Indiana along with James and Martha Crawford and their children and with my ancestor Nelson G. Crawford, son of James and Sally Crawford.

This new haplogroup information says these four families are related. We just need to do more digging to figure out how!

Alternate Names

Have you learned thru the years that spelling matters when doing an Internet search? On the other hand, have you found that spelling of names varies — and thus a specific spelling doesn’t matter any more? That need to be able to search for various spellings of a name was behind the development of the Soundex code.

Soundex code was very valuable in pre-Internet days for locating census records. It can still be used today with searches of Ancestry’s databases. Unfortunately, this concept isn’t used when Ancestry’s computers compares the trees of people who have a DNA match to identify the common ancestor. Instead, the computer is looking for an exact match.

As I’ve started researching an ancestor that Ancestry identified as a potential match, I’m running into spelling issues.

This new ancestor is a revolutionary war veteran, Major Simon Van Arsdale. In addition to his revolutionary war service, Simon Van Arsdale was part of the Low Dutch Settlement that migrated to Kentucky.

The discovery of Simon Van Arsdale as a potential ancestor is opening up doors to other potential ancestors and a lot of interesting history. Unfortunately, the spelling of the Van Arsdale name is making it difficult to locate records and to identify DNA matches. So far, I’ve identified the following spellings for this surname:

  • VanArsdale
  • Van Arsdale
  • Van Arsdalen
  • Vanarsdall
  • Vannarsdall
  • Van Artsdalen
  • Van Osdol
  • Vanosdol

For the most part, clicking to also use Soundex when searching Ancestry databases will help me get around the many spellings of the name. However, that option isn’t available when working with DNA matches. I recently learned that I should use the ‘alternate name’ fact to add variations on the spelling of a name.

This morning as I was thinking about the need to add ‘alternate name’ facts for Simon Van Arsdale, I saw a Facebook post questioning why Ancestry’s computers can’t find common ancestors when both parties of a DNA match have large trees. I believe the same post also talked about how changing the spelling of a name (Fannie to Fanny) caused the number of matches on a ThruLines to drop. In the comments on the post was a suggestion to add an ‘alternate name’ fact for the different spelling of the name. (Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find this post back. Thus, I can’t give credit to the parties who wrote the post and the comment.)

In thinking about this question as to why the computers aren’t finding the common ancestors, I realized that spelling of surnames and name variations could be a big issue with my tree. I have a lot of places in my tree where the name I have could be slightly different from the name another person might have in their tree. However, I have one surname where this could be a big issue: CURREY.

Over the years, I have found that when the name is spelled with the ‘e’, the record is usually for someone in my line. I have also found records using the CURRY spelling that are for individuals in my line. Thus, the name could be spelled CURREY or CURRY. Since I only have the CURREY spelling in my direct ancestral line, I’m going to experiment with adding CURRY as an alternate name to see what happens to my ThruLines.

Below are the number of ThruLines matches for each generation of my CURREY line:

  • Hiram Currey – Dodge City – 1866-1943 —– 3 matches
  • Hiram Currey – Leavenworth – 1835-1901 —– 7 matches
  • Hiram Currey – Peoria – 1787 – ? —– 16 matches
  • HIram Currey – Ohio –? – ? —– 22 matches
  • Thomas Currey — Ohio — ? – ? —– 16 matches

I will add the ‘CURRY’ alternate name for each ancestor and their children. Then I will re-check my numbers in a few days. Hopefully, I will see the number of matches increase!

Small cM DNA Matches

Do you remember having conversations with your parents similar to ‘Why can’t I? Everyone else is doing it.’ Well, that is how I sometimes feel when it comes to my DNA research strategy. In other words, I often haven’t had a specific strategy, but was following the ‘crowd’.

That was at least true when I submitted my spit to Ancestry to have an autosomal DNA test completed over 4 years ago. At the time, I didin’t know much about DNA but was hoping that it would help break down the numerous brick walls in my family tree.

It was only after getting my results back that I started learning about the perceived limitations of these results.

Since my tree was already complete thru 5 and 6 generations and mostly complete thru 7 generations, my hopes of using my Ancestry DNA results to prove a new ancestor were dashed.

Then came the summer of 2020 when Ancestry announced that it had plans to remove the 6 and 7 cM matches from our lists of matches. Since Ancestry had also recently announced that over 18 million people had had their DNA tested by Ancestry, I knew that these smaller matches were adding to the data load. Thus, I looked at this move for what it was – a cost saving measure.

That was until I looked at my own ThruLines data and realized that I had ‘brick wall shattering’ information in my ThruLInes that utilized quite a few of these smaller matches to build these connections.

Thus, I started working to tag these smaller matches — starting with those identified as having a common ancestor. In working thru these matches, I found matches to support my paper research identifying Rachel Harris, daughter of Peter Harris as my third great grandmother. These matches helped me identify Peter’s wife along with the parents of Peter Harris and his wife, Rachel Simonse VanArsdale. This discovery led me to three revolutionary war ancestors and a very rich family history going back to the 1600s.

Knowing that there had to be other ‘yet to be identified’ common ancestors lurking in this pool of 6-7 cM matches, I decided I was going to try and tag as many of these matches as I could. Roberta Estes provided some guidance on how to do this in her blog on July 16: Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon – Preservation Strategies with Detailed Instructions. So, I started by searching these matches for some of my surnames and then tagging them. Since this was a slow labor intensive process, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to save very many of these matches.

Then I saw a post by Roger Froysaa on the Facebook group, Ancestry DNA Matching where Roger shared a script that could automatically tag these 6 and 7 cM matches. Roger not only shared several versions of his script but also wrote a script to cause the list of matches to scroll to the bottom. These scripts worked — to a point. I would either get an ‘Aw Shucks’ your browser crashed OR a message from Ancestry that their backend servers were overtaxed. Charles Updike shared changes to the script, including a different script to scroll to the bottom.

This morning, I saw another post on the AncestryDNA Matching group about these scripts. This post was by Kay Simpkins where she shared a script written by Earl Haiks. I found the script in one of Kay’s comments on her post and copied/pasted it into Notepad.

After reading all of the comments on Kay’s post, I realized that I didn’t have to sort out the 6-7 cm matches, I just had to run the script. I renamed my ‘6-7 cM Matches’ group and called it ‘Distant Relatives’ so that I wouldn’t have to edit the script shared by Kay. I then ran it on my matches — and it was QUICK and I didn’t get any of those error messages. In about 4 hours early this morning, I was able to run this script on five tests. I still have one test to run the script on but am waiting until tonight when it should run faster than midday.

Below are the stats for these five kits:

SUCCESS AT LAST!

Now, I just have to continue researching ancestors / descendants on my tree so that Ancestry’s computing power can figure out the common ancestor for these distant matches.

None of this would have been possible if others had not been willing to share via a blog post or Facebook community. Thank you Roberta Estes, Roger Froysaa, Charles Updike, Kay Simpkins and Earl Haiks for your contributions to this conversation. Also a shout out to Jason Lee for creating and administering the AncestryDNA Matching Facebook group.

Help Needed!

As with many other genealogists, I’m struggling with the upcoming loss of small matches from my Ancestry DNA match list. I have no idea how many of these matches I have but I’m guessing it is in the thousands.

Since I will never have the time to work thru thousands upon thousands of matches to figure out how we connect, I’m hoping to use Ancestry’s computer technology to help me. Thus, I’m concentrating on my ThruLines matches, including the “potential ancestors”.

I have done a lot of descendancy research which I believe is helping Ancestry’s ThruLines technology connect me to DNA matches who have very small trees. Seeing the words ‘No Tree’ or ‘Unlinked Tree’ in my list of matches means I will scroll right past the match and will never take the time to figure out our relationship.

Thus, I need my over 100,000 matches to have a searchable tree attached to their DNA test(s).

PLEASE help me figure out our DNA connection by attaching a tree to your DNA results.

Completeness Part Two

Have you seen Ancestry’s recent news that they will be dropping smaller matches from our list of DNA matches? (Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon) With over 100,000 matches on my list, I’m not sure I will miss most of those small matches.

However, I decided to look at my ThruLines and Common Ancestors matches to see what the impact might be. Since I have four DNA tests to manage, including my mother, I decided to start with the 5th great grandparent ThruLines. My goal is to add color coding dots and notes for ALL of the matches for each match listed on ThruLines.

As I’ve worked my way thru all of these 5th great grandparent ThruLines, I observed some matches with very small trees where the common ancestor was identified.

After finishing the 5th great grandparent ThruLines, I then looked at 6-7 cM matches who have an identified common ancestors. Going thru that list, I again observed quite a few small trees showing up as having a common ancestor.

Since I have done a lot of descendancy research, I’m guessing that all of that research is helping Ancestry’s computers to make these ‘common ancestor’ links between these small trees and my larger tree.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical report to ‘grade’ me on my research of descendants. However, seeing these DNA matches with small trees showing up with common ancestor connections is enough validation for me.

Thus, I will continue to work on my descendancy research — after I get done marking my 6-7 cM matches that appear to have a known connection.

For more information on how to do descendancy research, check out Crista Cowan’s video: What Is Descendancy Research.

ThruLines Error

Recently Jason Lee posted a Facebook poll asking whether readers agree or disagree with the statement, “All ThruLines errors are because of errors in trees.” As of today, 802 people agree with that statement, while I am in the minority of 120 people disagreeing.

The reason, I disagree with the statement is that the ThruLines for my 2nd great grandfather, James Crawford. This ThruLines suggests that William Monroe as a child of James Crawford based on a DNA match with a known 3rd cousin once removed.

Even though this match has a very small tree, she has enough in her tree that our trees should connect. Eugene Beggs, son of Walter Beggs and Ethel Anita Lighter is in both of our trees. My match’s tree includes Eugene Beggs’ father, Walter, but not his mother, Ethel Lighter.

Thus, our common ancestors are Washington Marion Crawford and his wife, Mary Foster. Not only is ThruLines suggesting an incorrect connection on the Crawford line but also on the Foster line. This time, it is suggesting Margaret E. Jordan as a daughter of Zebulon Foster.

In hopes of getting the algorithm to correct these ThruLines, I added this cousin to my tree several months ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t observed any change in the ThruLines. Not only do I have Eugene Beggs and his link to Washington Marion Crawford and Mary Foster in my tree, I have also researched these families and attached sources.

I keep hoping that the computer algorithm for ThruLines will discover this connection and show the correct way our lines connect.

Although I haven’t researched all of the suggested connections thru ThruLines, I haven’t found other errors. For the most part, I have been able to document the suggested connections. Because the ThruLines tool helps me see connections between myself and my DNA matches, I appreciate the information provided. However, I wish there was a way to report this ThruLines error to Ancestry. Unfortunately, I haven’t found such ability.

High Hopes – Disappointment

Have you heard about the new GedMatch Tier 1 tool to find common ancestors for DNA matches? If not, check out this Family Fanatics video about the tool.

Somehow, I had heard about the tool and decided to try it.

With only 14 results, I was a little disappointed. However, seeing James Crawford and Hannah Smith on my list of potential common ancestors was very exciting since these are brick walls on my Crawford line. Unfortunately, I was SO excited that I didn’t do my homework first. I didn’t watch the video. Nor, did I check out their gedcom files prior to contacting them.

I received an immediate response from my Hannah Smith connection — and Hannah Smith is NOT our common ancestor. I would have discovered that if I had taken the time to look at the gedcom file. My match’s Hannah Smith lived in England. My Hannah Smith lived in Indiana. After browsing thru the Ancestry tree for this match, I’m not sure where we connect — but it has to be quite a ways back. His tree is almost entirely based in England while my tree is deeply U.S.

I had similar results with my James Crawford match. His James Crawford is from New Brunswick while my James Crawford was born in Virginia, married in Kentucky and died in Ohio. However, my Harding line is in New Brunswick and I believe that our common ancestor would be a Flewelling. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much research on this branch of my family.

Based on my experience with these two matches, I think the tool is only comparing names and not the associated places and dates. However, I would never have discovered the FLEWELLING connection without this tool. Thus, I believe this tool has potential – especially if more people put gedcom files on the site along with their DNA results.

For those wanting to check out this new tool on GedMatch tool, please don’t be like me and contact matches without checking out their gedcom file. Watch the video above and check out the match’s gedcom file first!

Completeness

Have you wondered how complete your family tree is? Until today, I hadn’t really considered what kind of ‘grade’ my tree would receive. I was aware of ‘holes’ in my tree but wasn’t overly concerned about those holes.

Then today, Blaine Bettinger posted a poll asking us how confident we would be figuring out 6th cousin DNA matches. As Blaine pointed out, in order to figure out these DNA matches, we have to have a complete tree going back to our 5th great grandparents. Thus, the poll asked participants to use the ‘Tree Completeness’ tool on DNAPainter and report the findings.

Knowing I have holes in my tree, but thinking I had over 50% of my tree complete, I decided to participate. I had previously uploaded a GEDCOM file of ancestors to DNA Painter, so I just had to locate the ‘Tree Completeness’ link in the upper left corner of the page displaying my tree.

When I clicked on that button, I was surprised that I only have identified 40% of my 5th great-grandparents.

This gap is very evident when I switch to FAN view on DNA Painter.

If I go to my place on the FamilySearch tree, the FAN view of the tree fills in the names. This view can show 4 thru 7 generations and the start person can quickly be changed. Below are images of my tree for 5, 6 and 7 generations.

So if I want to see the next generation, I can simply click on my dad to see the paternal side of my tree back 8 generations.

By clicking on my mother, I get a similar chart for my maternal side.

Using the tree on DNA Painter, I can get a ‘percentage grade’ for my tree at various levels and a colorful chart that quickly reveals where I’m missing ancestors. Even though the FAN chart on FamilySearch doesn’t give me a ‘grade’, it does show the ’empty’ positions on the chart.

Blaine’s post was that I need to know who all of my ancestors are to be able to use DNA results to verify the lineage. Thus, I have work to do!

Posted in DNA

Crawford yDNA

My brother’s BigY test recently verified what I and others have believed for a long time: that my James Crawford is somehow related to the James Crawford (1758-1836) of Garrard County, KY that was married to Rebecca Anderson. These results also indicates a relationship to Edward Crawford (1762-1826) of Overton, TN.

One of my yDNA 67 matches is a descendant of William Nelson Crawford (1829-1907). I am also an autosomal DNA match with descendants of William Nelson Crawford. This descendant also shares autosomal DNA with a descendant of James Crawford (1770-1833) who married Martha Knight and with a descendant of William Crawford (1748-1809). James Crawford (1770-1833) and William Crawford (1748-1809) were both in the Garrard County, KY area at the same time as my ancestor.

A descendant of Alexander Crawford (1715-1764) is grouped in the R1b group on the Crawford project.

The researcher who is a descendant of William Crawford (1748-1809) believes that his William Crawford is a 1st cousin once removed from Alexander Crawford.

The above photo is an attempt to show how this researcher believes these various lines might be related. Note that my James Crawford line is not connected. Nor is the Edward Crawford line.

Hey Crawford Researchers – Let’s Get This Right!

Anyone who has been doing genealogical research will eventually run into ‘same name’ issues, where two people of the same name are found in the same vicinity or same records. With my Crawford research, my same name struggle has been with my ancestor, James Crawford (1772-1854).

James is a common given name in Crawford research and my James seems to be surrounded by other James Crawfords during his adult life. Even though most of the time, I’ve been able to separate out the various families, I haven’t been able to find siblings or parents for my James Crawford.

However, I have encountered a lot of what I’m going to call ‘latchkey’ trees. With pre-1800 Crawford research in Virginia and surrounding areas, it is fairly easy to find published family histories for various Crawford lines. This would include David Crawford, Col. William Crawford and brothers, Alexander and Patrick Crawford. Since given names like James, John and Mary are found in many Crawford families, it is tempting to take a proven ancestor named James, John or Mary Crawford and ‘latch’ onto one of these families to identify parents of our ancestor.

With my Crawford research centered in Kentucky and Virginia, I encounter a lot of trees for these early Kentucky Crawford families connecting to Alexander Crawford and his wife Mary McPheeters or to Alexander’s brother Patrick. Some of these trees match the information in the well documented book,¬†Descendants of Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford¬†by Amanda Forbes. Unfortunately, many trees lead back to Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford when the documents for the child in the tree contradicts known documentation for the family of Alexander Crawford.

Unfortunately, these ‘latchkey’ trees create problems for everyone researching their Crawford line.

  • They lead other Crawford researchers down an incorrect path
  • They complicate the interpretation of DNA results

With autosomal DNA and features like ThruLines, an incorrect ancestor in my tree can lead all of my DNA matches down a wrong path.
Not only is this an issue with autosomal DNA but with yDNA research. In the Crawford DNA project, there were several tests with Alexander Crawford identified as the paternal ancestor. One of those is a fairly close match to my brother’s yDNA indicating that our lines might connect at some time in the past. However, there were other tests identifying Alexander Crawford as the paternal ancestor that are not related to my Crawford line. Based on information from an administrator of the Crawford project, these yDNA tests were significantly different and could not all have descended from Alexander Crawford. 
So, I’m asking for all Crawford researchers to help get this right. Let’s work together to document our Crawford lineage to make sure our trees are well documented — including parent-child links. Let’s

  • Search out wills, probate records and court records that identify family connections
  • Search out deeds that not only document residency but can also show movement from place to place or identify family members
  • Utilize collaborative trees such as FamilySearch or WikiTree to connect with other researchers 
  • Share our findings and the supporting documents on these collaborative trees or in public trees on genealogy sites

Please join me with this effort — and if your Crawford research takes you to Garrard, Madison or Lincoln counties in Kentucky prior to 1800, please contact me — I might be able to help you.