Isariah – I Know Your Lineage

Tonight, the 23andMe results have come back for a relative of mine – a gentleman for whom I am his 3rd cousin once removed.   At this point in time, his Relative Finder results are not back but his daughter and I spoke this evening about his results and we learned some interesting things!

Of particular interest for me was his mtDNA.  His maternal lineage is L3e2a1b. It is through this line that we are connected for he is the son of a female descendant of my 3rd great-grandmother, Isariah Wood.    Isariah is a paternal ancestor of mine, so I don’t have her mtDNA.  I am so pleased to know her lineage now!

However, this is a perfect example of needing a capacity as I described in an earlier post of being able to tag DNA sequences to specific individuals in a more shareable fashion than what we currently have with 23andMe.  Furthermore, tomorrow his Relative Finder matches should come in so I am particularly interested to see where we will match DNA.  Oh, the anticipation is killing me!  :-)

Note: Read my other blog posts on mine and my family’s 23andMe results.

 

23andMe: A DNA, Surname & Geographic Location Match!

Continuing my blog series on our 23andMe results, I had to share an exciting lead I have now that my mother’s results have been processed!

One of my mother’s matches is a lady who we’ll call Ms. W.  Ms. W  has DNA similarity with my mother at 2 segments:  a) On Chromosome 3 with a segment that is 23cM and includes 4965 SNPs and b) Chromosome 6 with a segment that is 6.5 cM and includes 1244 SNPs.  From comparing our family trees we learned that we both have Lennon ancestors from the Bladen/Columbus County region in NC.  23andMe predicts my mother and Ms. W to be 4th cousins.

shared DNA segments

Ms. W has a 3rd great-grandmother named Caroline Lennon who was born a slave around 1855.  Caroline married Creed McNeill and had at least 5 kids.  Caroline most likely died by 1910 as in that census year Creed has remarried.  My mother’s paternal grandmother was named Lucinda Lennon, daughter of John & Etta Lennon.  Lucinda was born in Bladen County and her parents lived in both Bladen & Columbus counties.  Both John & Etta were Lennons so if Caroline is part of my family, then she could be related through either John or Etta.  The DNA they share is of African origin.

The goal now is to find out if we can place Caroline with a family since the only thing Ms. W. knows about her at this point is that her maiden name was Lennon.   As I consider it, the following are things that can be done as next steps:

  • Can we locate any marriage information for Caroline & Creed?  According to their 1900 census record they married around 1870.  I’ve located a book of marriage records for Bladen County that includes both white and black marriages during that time period. Need to find someone who can do a lookup.  Perhaps parents will be listed? As a black couple, it’s not likely there was ever a newspaper notice published.
  • Look for burial records? If Caroline died before 1910 as I suspect she may not have a death certificate. But, maybe she is buried somewhere in the area and has a tombstone.  Need to look for cemetery listings, focused on cemeteries where her other family members may be buried.
  • Look at those living near her in 1880 and 1900 to see if any names look familiar.  Often people lived near family so maybe she did also.
  • I need to look more closely for any white Lennon’s that owned an approximately 5 year old female black slave in the 1860 slave census schedules to see if I can identify a potential slaveowner.  Such a determination may offer clues in searching the records of the white Lennon family for Caroline spottings.
  • Caroline had at least 5 kids, but Ms. W. has only traced the descendants of one of them which is her own direct line. Time to start tracing the families of the other 4! Who knows what we may learn and find by contacting individuals in those other branches? Would be great if we did locate a few people of the other branches and they agreed to be DNA tested.
  • My mother has a 1st cousin who has a 23andMe kit on the way.  If this cousin also matches Ms. W then we will know for sure that the match comes from my mother’s paternal side of the family as we highly suspect.
  • My mother has 4th cousin once removed that we could ask if she is interested in the DNA testing.  The 4th cousin once removed is related to my mother via Lucinda’s paternal family.  If that cousin also matched my mom and Ms. W. then we would at least be able to narrow it down to Lucinda’s paternal branch.
This is going to be a process for sure!  I am sure I am missing some potential research avenues — do you have any recommendations/suggestions to offer?

 

 

 

 

23andMe: You ARE the Mother!

My mom and I have had a running joke since sending our DNA in for the Roots Into the Future Initiative on how it would be funny if it came back she was not our mother.  Of course we know that’s not the case, but the joke was more a reflection of her awe that from DNA the system can tell that we are so closely related.

Upon logging in to see the Relative Finder results, we see immediately that there are close relatives for her in the database.

After clicking on “Show Close Relatives” her two daughters, myself and my sister, show up. What was so cool was that neither Kelli nor I had marked her as our mother yet from our profiles. We then of course proceeded with marking our relationships so that 23andMe has it on file.  I did find it interesting that from my profile, it predicted my mother as either “Mother or Daughter” and I had to indicate she was my mother. I wonder why they could predict I was her daughter, but could not predict that she was my mother?

Of particular note though now that Mommy’s results are in the database I can start to divide my sister and I’s matches to either our maternal side or our paternal side.  If someone matches me (or Kelli) and my mom, then I know that match is through her side.  If someone does not match one of us but not our mother, then I know that match is on our father’s side.

Lastly, here is my mother’s Ancestry Painting – her African-origin DNA is 93%!  If my understanding is correct, most African-Americans in this country descended from slaves have on average around 20% European origin DNA, so Mommy is well below average here.

There are so many more things to investigate…..

 

Genetic Genealogy Idea: Tagging DNA!

In the past few weeks, I have spent considerable time contacting DNA matches in 23andMe as first steps towards looking for verifiable connections.  As I go through this process, I know there must be an easier way to leverage all the work we as individual 23andMe users are doing on the site.  For my day job I deal in knowledge management and let me tell ya – there is a lot of knowledge yet to be managed in 23andMe and it gave me an idea.

Currently, when 23andMe has identified someone with whom I share a DNA segment with, time is spent between myself and my match to share our family tree information in the search for shared ancestry.  Sometimes, it may be possible to verify the exact relationship and other times it may not pan out.  Many factors must be considered when evaluating the shared DNA and for the lucky ones, those relationships can be determined.  For example, Randy Majors describes an inspiring success story in verifying a common ancestral couple (his 6th  great-grandparents) with a 23andMe match.  For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that I too were descended from his 6th great-grandparents and had the same DNA segment match as he and his distant cousin.  As the process now stands, despite the fact that Randy and his distant cousin KNOW their shared DNA segment came from that couple, the only way I would be able to find out would be to contact Randy & the distant cousin (assuming they both showed up as matches for me) and go through the long and tedious process of comparing information and/or doing triangulation.

This is where my idea comes in:

  • what if after Randy & the distant cousin confirm this couple as the origin of their shared DNA they were able to “tag” that DNA segment with information and metadata about the couple and add that information to the 23andMe website so that it could be USED BY OTHERS.
  • what if everyone who confirmed relationships could tag DNA segments to specific individuals — imagine how genea-rich with information 23andMe would become!
  • what if when I logged into 23andMe I were presented with names/dates/locations of specific people based on computer aggregation and analysis of all the “tags” that successful matches had been able to identify and associate with DNA segments.
Thus, for the next person who matches Randy at that segment, 23andMe would be able to show them the match to Randy at that location, but also be able show information about the people from which Randy inherited the DNA.  Would that not be awesome!
Of course there are issues to be considered but ultimately I do think genetic genealogy needs to head in this direction and I would like for it to happen sooner rather than later.  Let’s leverage the knowledge of the 23andMe user database and combine it with computing power to facilitate the tagging and presentation to others. They already do it for health traits and conditions so why not for genealogy?
A natural question that comes to my mind is who would do this first? 23andMe has an obvious health focus and I wonder how committed they are to the genealogy aspect of DNA testing. But, Ancestry.com is now getting into the autosomal DNA testing game and Ancestry.com already has the technology to allow users to tag  specific individuals across their massive database of records.  Imagine them making it happen with DNA.  For this reason, I know that as soon as I can, I will be making sure I get my DNA info in the Ancestry database also.   Think of the potential!!!

What do you think of this idea?

 

 

 

 

 

23andMe: Hooking in My Family

Okay, I might as well face it.  My blog posts for the next while are all going to be 23andMe and how things are going with my involvement with the Roots Into the Future initiative.  Hope you don’t mind!

As I shared last time, my results are now in and I’ve had a wonderful time working through them.  Then, about a week ago, I learned that the free kits were available again and I’ve been on a mission to see how many of my family members are also willing to do it.  One thing that I have seen clear in my experiences so far with me, my sister, and my husband is that the more family members you have in the system, the more valuable the results can be as you work to compare with others in the database.

So, I ordered more for myself and now have 3 to take with me our next trip to Alabama for some of Kalonji’s family members.  These are earmarked for his grandmother and two of his male cousins.  One was an extra one from the last round and I ordered two this round.

As for others in the family, I have been ordering them and having kits mailed to their homes directly.  Trying to make it easy on them ya know? Here is where we stand now — in addition to us three….

  • My mother has sent her sample in and those results should be in soon as it’s been more than a month now
  • My father has agreed to do it
  • My brother will hopefully do it; his wife has her sample ready to mail on Monday
  • My step-uncle is going to do it – hopefully his sister, my step-mother, will also; I’ve been working on their family tree for years.
  • My stepfather is going to do it; I’ve been working on his tree too for years
  • A first cousin of my mother’s is going to do it
  • a 3rd cousin of mine has his sample ready to mail on Monday
  • a 4th cousin of mine has ordered her kit and will send it in
And, I have asked another 5 family members and await to hear back about their decisions.  Is this not awesome?  I am trying to cover both sides of my family and will keep asking them until the free kits run out.  :-)

23andMe Results: My Ancestry Painting

With much joy yesterday I was delighted to learn that my DNA results were back from 23andMe. I ordered my kit for free through their Roots Into the Future initiative and have been working on getting my family members tested too.  So far, my husband and my sister are done; my mother’s will be done in a few weeks.

My maternal haplogroup was already known to me since my sister’s results came back awhile ago – -we are L2a1e.  This lineage goes back to sub-saharan Africa.  No surprise :-).

My Ancestry painting was what was the most fun to look at last night.  My mother and I went through it in detail and especially noted how I compare to my sister.  According to 23andMe, my DNA has the following approximate origins – 84% African, 13% European and 3% Asian (likely Native-American).

My ancestry painting

This is in contrast to my sister’s  78% African, 18% European and 4% Asian (again, likely Native American).  Goes to show how siblings do get their DNA distribution differently from each parent.

Kelli's ancestry painting

One thing that is clear from both of our paintings is that most  of our European DNA is coming more from one of our parents.  Most of the blue colored segments are in the bottom half of the chromosomes and 23andMe uses a distinction between the top half and bottom half of each image to denote the two parents.  At this point, we do not yet know which parent, but if I had to guess I would predict from my father’s side.  We will hopefully know more once my parent’s results are in.  Very exciting!  I have so much more to blog about with these results so stay tuned.

You can read my past 23andMe blog posts here.

23andMe Results: Kalonji’s Ancestry Painting

Continuing my posts on our 23andMe testing, I continue with a brief description of Kalonji’s Ancestry Painting and what we’ve learned from it.

The Ancestry Painting is a feature of 23andMe that shows an analysis of the 22 non-sex chromosomes we inherit from our parents.  The result is a beautifully colored image that illustrates DNA segments and gives a report of if the DNA is likely inherited from Africa, Europe or Asia.

The first part of the Ancestry Painting gives the overall breakdown.  Apparently, Kalonji’s DNA is 78% African origin, 21% European origin and 4% Native American (shows up as Asian but is very likely Native American or else statistical noise).

It is not uncommon for African-Americans to have 20% or more European DNA given our history of slavery, so the results were not really surprising.  What I found most interesting about the painting was the distribution of the European DNA.  If a DNA segment is bi-colored, it means each of the chromosome pairs came from different parents.  From reading blog posts from 23andMe, I learned that the coloring is consistent in that the top half of the chromosoume represents one parent, while the bottom half represents the other.  23andMe cannot tell you which half is which parent, but clues in a person’s family history may provide that.   In this case, it was true for Kalonji.

When you look at the Ancestry painting, it is clear that one half of all the chromosomes contains more European DNA than the other half for there are more blue segments on the bottom halves of the 22 than their are on the top.  This is consistent with what we know of Kalonji’s paternal ancestry and that of all of Kalonji’s 2nd great-grandparents, we are fairly sure that one of them in particular was white and he was on Kalonji’s paternal side (see previous posts on Kalonji’s McClellan ancestry).  Given Kalonji’s father’s complexion, paternal grandmother’s complexion, and her father’s complexion and features, we are pretty sure most of the European DNA is coming from that lineage.  Thus, we hypothesize that the bottom halves of the Ancestry painting are the portrait of DNA Kalonji inherited from his father.   We kinda knew this already, but it was neat to see it in the DNA analysis. :-)

23AndMe Results: Kalonji’s Paternal Haplogroup

On September 8th, I posted my first blog post about genetic testing results from 23andMe regarding Kalonji’s maternal haplogroup.  This time, I’m posting about his paternal haplogroup.

Kalonji’s paternal haplogroup is E1b1a7a.

This haplogroup is subgroup of E1b1a.  E1b1a has its origins in sub-saharan Africa.  This of course is not surprising to us given Kalonji’s descent from former slaves.  The 23andMe site shares the information that

E1b1a is also the most common haplogroup among African-American male individuals. About 60% of African-American men fall into this haplogroup primarily due to the Atlantic slave trade, which drew individuals from western Africa and Mozambique, where E1b1a is accounts for the majority of men.

At this point, I am unsure of what to take away from this, except, that as Kalonji gets matches in Relative Finder knowing the haplogroup will help differentiate shared ancestry among paternal vs. maternal lines.   The Relative Finder feature in 23andMe is awesome! The next posts will describe our experiences with that.  Stay tuned :-)

23AndMe Results: Kalonji’s Maternal Haplotype

This blog post is going to be the start of  short series of posts I will do about my husband’s 23andMe DNA testing results.  We were able to get the kit for free because the company is trying to expand their database of African-American DNA.  Currently, most of the health results available are based on a mostly European population.  This initiative is part of their Roots Into the Future Initiative.

There is so much to go over his results, so I’ll have to spend some time working my way through them.  For now, let me start with his maternal lineage.

Kalonji’s maternal haplotype group is: L2a1a2

Kalonji's Maternal Haplogroup

This haplogroup is a subgroup of the L2 Haplogroup.  L2 is the most common haplogroup among Africans and African-Americans.  From what I have read, the origin of L2a1a2 seems to be West or NorthWest Africa, but it underwent an expansion with Bantu migrations and is associated with SouthEast Africa. Currently, the highest percentages of Africans of this haplogroup are in the Mozambique area (36%).  The haplotype is also found in Afro-Brazilian populations too.  You can see in the image that the darker spots on the map correlate to an are in West African and then right around Mozambique.

I don’t believe this is enough information for us to know with any certainty where in Africa Kalonji’s ancestors may have lived, but I am continuing to do more research.  From a link shared in the 23andMe community forums, downloaded a spreadsheet with very specific genome data and there also seems to be an association with the Mozambique area.   I guess we will have to get him tested with African Ancestry to see if we can potentially get a tribe match.   More to come soon!