Genetic Genealogy

You Are NOT the Father!

Except when you are…

Yesterday, via a 23andMe DNA match, I was able to confirm the identity of my stepfather’s paternal grandfather! When I started doing genealogy in 2005, we thought his grandfather’s name was Rowland McGill. I constructed Rowland’s family tree and then put the research aside for awhile. Several years later, Ron’s father told us that Rowland was not his father after all – that he found some documentation that another man was his father. We do not know what this documentation was, but given the statement, I accordingly changed the name in the family tree with the thought of following-up.

Fast-forward to yesterday when one of Ron’s matches, to whom I sent a sharing invitation via 23andMe, accepted. The new match (whom I’ll refer to as MS) was predicted to be a 2nd cousin to Ron. After a few email exchanges, I learn that MS is a grandchild of one of Rowland McGill’s siblings!¬†Not only that, Ron also matches another descendant of that same sibling.

Ron shares 3% of his DNA with his new cousin – a total of 223cm across 11 segments. This amount is just slightly below the average amount of DNA 2nd cousins share according to the data Blaine Bettinger’s collected for the Shared cM Project.

There are other pieces of evidence that I won’t go into here for sake of privacy, but it turns out Rowland that you ARE the father!

Gotta love how DNA can help untangle these mysteries. ūüôā

DNA Connections & A Newspaper Story

Oh what fun to be able to write this blog post! Back during the first season of Genealogy Roadshow, my husband and I interviewed with producers as we were hopeful one of the stories I submitted would be used. Unfortunately, it was not, but every now and then I revisit the research that prompted me to enter.

One of the mysteries I’d presented was to further investigate if my husband has biological connections to¬†Meriwether Lewis of Lewis & Clark. ¬†One of Kalonji’s 2nd great-grandmothers was named Margaret Meriwether and it is through her that this connection may lie. Margaret was from Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee.

At the end of January, as I looked at Kalonji’s gedmatch matches, I saw a close result from another Meriwether and it turned out, this new DNA match also had family from Clarskville! Since then, we’ve been comparing family trees, doing research, and though we have not yet found the exact relationship¬†between the two, we know we are close ūüôā ¬†With only approximately 4 generations back to their most common ancestor, we remain hopeful we can find the connection.

Kalonji’s Meriwether DNA match

Then, in sharing on Facebook that I was searching through an index of newspaper obituaries one day last month at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, I learned that one of my Facebook friends not only also had family from Clarksville, but he was a cousin of Kalonji’s DNA match. Exciting!

set of obituary indexes for the Clarksville, TN area – at the Tennessee State Library & Archives

Given this recent research, how cool then it was to find in the Tennessean this morning an article about a Meriwether Cemetery that is now owned by Google – in which, the reporter mentions both Kalonji’s DNA match and my Facebook friend! The story describes the cemetery, those interred there, and gives information about the background of Meriwether’s in Clarksville. In the article, there is mention of a white slave owner who had children with two of his slaves – one a Hillman, and the other a Meriwether. ¬†Well, the Meriwether slave of mention is Kalonji’s 2nd great-grandmother- Margaret. ¬†Margaret had children of this slaveowner – Buck Harris, but then she also had kids with another man, Dick Wisdom. ¬†It is through one of Margaret & Dick’s children¬†from whom Kalonji is descended. My discovery of Margaret’s Meriwether family came as a result of the 1940 census release.

Kaloniji’s Meriwether Family Descendancy Tree (what I have documented so far)

The news story can be seen online and it is definitely worth the read. I am pleased to know that Google is committed to maintaining the cemetery and has no plans to move it. Kudos to them! I would love to visit the cemetery one day – but not sure how that would work given that it is Google’s property. I must find out. ¬†Meanwhile, the research into this DNA connection will definitely continue.

A New Family Branch Genetically Tested

Yesterday brought great news from my cousin SL! She did a 23andMe test a few weeks ago and her test results have come in. I am particularly happy she did the test as I can now map parts of my father’s DNA sample specifically to his mother as cousin SL is a 1st cousin on his mom’s side.

I have another cousin (MS) who is related to me via my father’s mother – but – that cousin is also related to me through my father’s father. So, as a double cousin, I’ve not been able to pinpoint any of her DNA share with my father to one particular side of his family as no one else on my grandmother’s side of the family had tested.

The first thing I did with cousin SL’s DNA results is map out the segments we share. Using Kitty Cooper’s Chromosome Mapping Tool, I updated my father’s map. So now, my father’s chromosome map now has a “maternal” side reflected. Prior to yesterday, all the red parts were not there¬† ūüôā

my father’s chromosome map as of Jan 15, 2017

My cousin MS is also a cousin to SL. However, the two of them are not double cousins (to the best of my knowledge), so I next compared their DNA against my father and against each other. In doing this triangulation, I found that of the 11 segments my father shares with his double cousin MS, 5 of them triangulate to his cousin SL. This means I can mark these 5 segments my father and MS share as having come from my great-grandparents  William Lawhorn & Pearlie Mae Kilpatrick Рcommon ancestors to all 3 (to my father, MS, and SL).

On top of this, I found that cousin SL shares several¬†segments of DNA with my father’s nephew that she does not share with my father. These segments represent DNA that my uncle inherited from his parents and my father did not; my uncle then passed that DNA down to his son.

I am glad to have this updated chromosome map for my father, for as I get more matches in the future, if they have a segment that triangulates to my father and one of these cousins, I will able to pinpoint which part of my family tree to focus on as we seek connections.

So many intricacies to figure out for sure!

 

Meeting a DNA Cousin

Taneya & Shannon

Okay – so, not a cousin of mine, but a cousin of my daughter’s. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Shannon Christmas today as he was in town speaking at an event on African American genealogy at Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage (you can read more about the event here).¬†

My husband, Kalonji, shares DNA with Shannon’s maternal uncle and paternal grandfather. How about that! Kalonji shares DNA with both sides of Shannon’s family. ¬†Shannon and I still have work to do if we are going to have any hope of figuring out the shared ancestor, but 23andMe predicts Shannon’s uncle to be about a 4th cousin. This would mean the common ancestor is about the 3rd great-grandparent level. We have a possible hope at triangulation since another 23andMe tester matches both Kalonji and Shannon’s uncle in this same spot too.

green is where Kalonji matches Shannon’s uncle on Chr. 7; blue is where Kalonji matches the other 23andMe user (that user also matches Shannon’s uncle in this spot)

I’ve long followed Shannon’s work for genetic genealogy. So, no matter if we find the connection or not, Shannon’s family now and it was a pleasure to have a chance to meet him!

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…¬† ūüėÄ

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. ūüôā

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 Рall 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!