My Ancestry DNA Results Are Back!

A few weeks ago, I took advantage of a promotional offer from AncestryDNA. I have been tested with 23andMe and have blogged a lot about that, but I have held off with Ancestry because of their lack of allowing chromosome browsing. However, the promotional offer was good so I went for it.  I am amazed that my results are already back in. They just received my sample July 28th! That was a far shorter turnaround period than I expected.

I’ve only had a few moments to take a look, but you know what? As I have been learning how to do Google Hangouts On Air (HOA), I did a short test tonight. I made a broadcast to go through my results so I could share it with my mother. I can’t believe I’m posting it (and keeping it public for all to see), but here goes!  I might as well kill two birds with one stone. 

In doing this HOA, I am using my wi-fi, which is not recommended, so the video is grainy. I’ll hook up with a wire next time.  And yes, I am sitting on my bed. It’s bedtime ya know…  :-D

Many thanks to my partner in crime, Patrice for really getting me on a roll with doing Google Hangouts On Air! Not only am I looking forward to further exploring my DNA results but I am also going to be doing more with Google HOA.  Stay tuned….

I Just Spit for AncestryDNA

About a week ago, I finally took the plunge and ordered an autosomal DNA kit from Ancestry.com. This won’t be my first DNA test; approximately three years ago I tested myself and many family members with 23andMe. I have learned a lot about genetic genealogy since then and have my various posts about it grouped on my Genetic Genealogy page here on the site.

However, I’ve hesitated to test with Ancestry because they do not provide testers with a chromosomal browser for our DNA results. This means, that while you are shown genetic matches, you are not able to look specifically at the areas on each of your chromosomes to see where the matches are.  This is a limitation for me personally because I rely on the ability to look at specific chromosomal segment matches as I triangulate my results.

Yet, I am curious to learn more about genetic testing with Ancestry so with a recent sale of testing kits for $49 (plus a coupon for an additional 25% off), I decided to go ahead and do it. The kit came today, I’ve just spit into the tube, and all is packaged and ready to be mailed back to them on Monday. Let the adventure begin!

 

Did I Find Lovey’s Family?

Yeah – Another potential family tree revelation from a 23andMe match! A few days ago, I was looking at one of my matches family trees and noticed he had the Boston surname on his tree. Boston is a surname in my family – one of my 3rd great-grandmothers was named Lovey Boston.  To date, I don’t have a lot of information about Lovey  – she was born around 1821,  started cohabitating with Prince Walker about 1836 and they lived in Plymouth, Washington County, NC.   Lovey and Prince would go on to have at least 8 children – their son Anthony being my direct ancestor.

From 23anMe, I learned that my match (we’ll call him EW), and I share DNA of African origin. He matches my mother, my maternal uncle, and myself at the same segment.  He has a 2nd segment in common with my uncle.

EW matches me where it’s dark blue, my mom where it’s green and my uncle where it’s light blue.

EWis a descendant of David Boston and wife Elizabeth of the Free Union “Piney Woods” community of Martin & Washington counties in NC.  In fact, of EW’s ancestry, 3 of his 3rd-great-grandparents were children of David & Elizabeth. At first, I was not sure how Lovey could connect, but a cousin of EW’s (we’ll call her ER) spotted people in my Lovey Boston descendancy chart that she recognized and by looking at her tree, I could see connections more clearly. One of Lovey’s daughters was the second wife to a man named Peter Moore.  Peter Moore’s first wife, was a sister of ER’s 3rd-great-grandmothers.

I’m still working on how Lovey may fit into his family tree, but right now, my current theory is that Lovey may have been another one of David & Elizabeth’s children.  Given her approximate birth date, it makes sense for her to be positioned there generationally, and it is at about the right number of generations back for our match prediction of the 4th cousin range. If Lovey was indeed one of their children, EW and I are 4th cousins exactly.  Of course, Lovey could be a niece of David’s too. Who knows?

In fact, I found a picture of one of David & Elizabeth’s documented daughters, Elizabeth Boston Brooks on the Piney Woods Project blog. Martha would have been a grand-niece of Elizabeth’s if I figured this out correctly.

Do you think Elizabeth looks like my great-grandmother Martha?

If indeed Lovey is part of David’s family then she has quite an interesting family background.  According to the book “Disciple Assemblies of Eastern North Carolina” by William James Barber (1966), David was the founder of the Piney Woods Community.

I have much more research ahead of me! But, I am so pleased to have connected with this Boston family and their many descendants!

23andMe Match Confirms Suspected Relationship: Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a great connection I made through 23andMe with a new cousin. In that post, I talked about the match in 23andMe and why I was so excited to see her show up.  This time, I’ll share what I learned about our DNA match.

For some reason, when I viewed Cousin P in my Relative Finder, the M/P designation did not show for her.  This is the designation 23andMe uses to tell you on which side of your family your match and you are related. It only works if you have had at least one parent also tested with 23andMe. Well, both of my parents have tested and I have many other matches where the designation is shown, so I am at a loss why it didn’t show that day. Must have been a bug. It shows now though. But, on that day, my next step after realizing she is a person of interest was to find out which of my parents to which she is related.

That’s done easily enough using the Family Inheritance: Advanced feature. Doing that revealed that she is related to me (purple) and my mother (blue) on Chromosome 16. Our segment match length is 38cM.

I then wanted to compare Cousin P against my mom, and my uncle (mommy’s full brother). What was interesting here is that Cousin P hardly matches my uncle – their segment match is 6cM (green)


Since 6 cM is on the cusp of matches that might be excluded as not being significant enough to determine a match that is identical by descent vs. DNA just be identical by state. Though my mother and uncle have the same parents, if only one of them had tested, and it was the one with the small amount of matching DNA, we could have missed this match.  Lesson to be learned: try and get as many family members tested as possible. :-)

The next step is to then enter Cousin P into my spreadsheet I keep for sorting my matches. This is important to do for triangulation purposes as it allows me to see if those that match me and my family members, also match others who match us. While you can do some of this comparison on the 23andMe site, I keep the spreadsheet for better record-keeping and HIGHLY encourage everyone to do something similar if you aren’t already.

My Analysis Spreadsheet has a tab for my maternal matches, and a tab for my paternal matches. I then sort matches by Chromosome Number. My columns are Chromosome, Name, % Shared DNA, Start of Segment Match (Base Pair Position #), End of Segment Match (Base Pair Position #), Distance of Match (cM), # SNPs in common and Notes.  Below is a snapshot of my spreadsheet, the tab for my maternal matches, with the Name column removed for privacy.  As you can see, I’m not always diligent in filling it out uniformly, but I capture the essence of the info needed.

Where you see clusters of color represent cases of triangulation – cases where my matches not only match me/my family members, but other matches of mine/my family members. The purple cluster is where Cousin P lies. The first row of the cluster is Cousin P. She matches us from base pair number 11,000 – 51,000. The second two purple lines are another match of mine who I’ll call Cousin W.  Cousin W matches my mother and I from base pair number 17,000-24,000 and base pair 47,000-51,000.  Upon seeing Cousin W matching my mom and I in the same place, I then went back to 23andMe and used the Advanced Family Inheritance feature to compare all three of us — I wanted to see is Cousin P also matches Cousin W for it is possible that they wouldn’t.

I was pleased to see that all three of us match! In the figure below, the

a
The blue shows where Cousin W matches my mom; the green shows where Cousin W matches Cousin P., and the light blue shows where Cousin W matches my uncle. Sweet. Thus, I was able to color the three rows in my spreadsheet as one color and I now know that Cousin W, Cousin P, and my mother all share a common ancestor.

Now knowing this, I then took a closer look at Cousin P’s family tree – information she’d filled out in her 23andMe Profile. In the next post of the series, I’ll share I learned then!

23andMe Match Confirms Suspected Relationship: Part 1

Tonight I was so pleased to see in my email inbox another acceptance of one of my genome sharing requests. When I logged onto 23andMe and saw the persons details, I started to get excited. I have thought of all kinds of ways to tell the story here on my blog and  none of them appealed to me. So, I figure the best way to do it is just to start typing and see where it goes.

After seeing the email, the first place I go is to my Relative Finder list to see if this person (I’ll call her Cousin P)  is a match for me, or one of the other 7 profiles I have linked to my account.  I have several family members to the test and all of them are linked to my account. Unfortunately, when 23andMe sends me the email that I have a new sharing request OR that someone has accepted my sharing request, the email does not tell me which profile it applies to.  This is definitely a potential opportunity for 23andMe to improve. So, each time I have to search through all the profiles until I find the right one. Lucky for me, since I always search me first, she popped right up.

Absent from her match information is which side of my family she matches me on. I have had both of my parents do the 23andMe test, so the system should have had an M or P next to her name. For some reason, it’s not there, so I guess I’ll report it to the company.  Anyway, I was eager to learn more for the following reasons:

  • Our predicted relationship is 3rd-6th cousin and the percentage DNA we share is 0.51%.  That’s enough to make it more likely we could find our common ancestor IF the stars lined up (so many variables affect this).  
  • She shares more DNA in common with me than a three cousins of mine (a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousin), who have done 23andMe AND for whom I already have a documented paper trail connection prior to any of us doing 23andMe testing.
  • One of her locations in the profile was “Rocky Mountain, NC”. I realized right away that this was likely “Rocky Mount, NC” and I have ancestors on my mother’s side of the family from Rocky Mount (a city in Edgecombe and Nash counties).
  • She has a View Family Tree link! Not too many people have taken the time to put in their family tree at 23andMe. The quality of the information in the tree can vary widely. But, it’s a start!

Before looking at her family information though, I wanted to find out where our DNA matched. In my next post, I’ll describe what I learned.

Ancestry.com Is Makin’ Moves in Genetic Genealogy

This morning I watched the online streaming video of the Ancestry.com panel at RootsTech.  The format of the panel was conversational between President & CEO Tim Sullivan and other leaders within the company.

We all learned of some exciting developments in the pipeline for features to come at Ancestry.com – all of which will be great assets.  I in particular was most intrigued by what I was hearing with regard to their plans for how to work with DNA in the future.  Though they did not explicitly outline details, from the overall conversation, it was easy to read in between the lines.

Specifically, Ancestry is looking at what is needed to leverage DNA as content.  What does this mean? It means that DNA will become part of the genealogical experience.  How might that happen? For that, I refer back to a blog post I made this past November as I discussed thoughts on how DNA content could be better leveraged by 23andMe.

In that blog post, I made several points, but overall, expressed a desire for DNA companies to use DNA data in smarter ways.  Those of us getting tested are able to pinpoint specific segments to specific ancestors, yet, our knowledge of this is not internally captured in the system, nor shareable with anyone else via the system.  If that were to change, and it was as easy to “tag” DNA segments to specific individuals in an online tree that also existed in the system, a whole new world could be opened up for us all.   I invite you to read the post for further information.

While I have done a lot of testing with 23andMe – I do anticipate that Ancestry may get into a lead position on this — as they demonstrated today at RootsTech for non-genealogical data, they already have infrastructure in place to make it possible for us to tag records, on the fly, and in very shareable ways.  

Let us tag our DNA. Then, let us attach it to specific individuals in our tree.  Doing so would then help realize an amazing transformation in how we now work with genetic information to move forward our genealogical cause. I am looking forward to see how their DNA testing service grows.

I’M INSPIRED! ARE YOU?

Update:  Blaine Bettinger has a stellar post further describing the session and the implications. It’s a must read article!

Establishing my Great-Grandparents DNA Profile

Well, parts of it anyway. :-)

This week, the 23andMe DNA Roots Into the Future results came back for one of my mother’s paternal 1st cousins.  A great advantage of her having done the test is that I can now begin to establish segments of my mother’s DNA that comes from her paternal grandparents,  Lewis & Lucinda (Lennon) Robinson, whom Cousin C and my mother have as their Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

“Cousin C” shares 10.5% and 28 segments of DNA with my mother.  All 28 of those segments come from Lewis & Lucinda.  Additionally, Cousin C shares some DNA segments with my mother’s brother that she does not have in common with my mother (11.2% and 32 segments).    Because the sharing with my mother and uncle are not 100% overlapping, this means even more segments from the great-grandparental units.

In the image below the DNA Cousin C shares with my mother is marked with green; the DNA she shares with my uncle is marked in blue.

This means that as I sort through my mother’s Relative Finder matches, if someone matches both her and Cousin C – then that person is related to us through Lewis & Lucinda and will thus help me narrow which branch to focus the search on.  As I have started to tabulate these shared segments into my analysis spreadsheet I have already identified a few individuals who I can now narrow our search for our MRCA to that branch of my tree.

And also of interest, I have parts of DNA of a set of my 2nd great-grandparents, Andrew & Gracy (Bullock) McNair on my mother’s side since a 3rd cousin of hers, for whom Andrew & Gracy are the MRCA, has also had his testing completed.  On my father’s side, I’ve got DNA segments attributed to ancestors of mine even more generations back that these — how cool is that?

I really need for one of the DNA testing companies to add the tagging capability I’ve described on my blog in the past — it would be so helpful!

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?