In breaking news from Unlock the Past, I’m excited to learn that the genealogy conference to be held in Seattle USA, will now be livestreamed to DNA enthusiasts world-wide. The presenters will be Blaine Bettinger (USA), Maurice Gleeson (UK), Cyndi Ingle (USA) and Wayne Shepheard (Canada). What a stellar lineup!
One whole stream (five talks) on DNA – by Blaine Bettinger (US) and Maurice Gleeson (UK)
Three Irish talks – by Maurice Gleeson (UK)
The hidden web: digging deeper – by Cyndi Ingle (US)
Genealogy and the Little Ice Age – Wayne Shepheard (Canada)
Unlock the Past is now offering an online package which enables us to watch all the talks presented in Seattle, either in real-time or subsequently for those of us in very different time zones. Of course for those who can readily travel to Seattle there’s the option of attending in person – lucky people.
At $US65 ($A90 or Euro57 or GBP51, approx) for 10 livestreamed presentations, it looks like a tremendous bargain to me. No matter where we live we can share in the experience and learning with those at the venue. I know I’m going to be watching the presentations, either live and/or afterwards and I now feel like I’m not missing out on all the fun.
You can read all about it here, check out the programhere, and book for the livestreaming through this link.
Isn’t it great how technology lets us all share in these events?
Enter the date in your diaries: Thursday 6 September 2018, 9am-5pm (Pacific Daylight Time)
Amidst the celebration of St Patrick’s Day, I’ve been reflecting how big a deal this was when I was a child, thanks in part to the religious divide. We would wear green ribbons to school (like the modern charity-fundraisers), little shamrock buttons, and have St Patrick’s Day concerts with all the old Irish songs.
On a 21st century note, I’ve been considering my Irish roots and how accurate I believe my DNA results are for ethnicity.
As you can see, each of the companies I’ve tested with have come up with different levels of ethnicity. At #Congress_2018 it was mentioned that Ancestry’s ethnicity estimates are based (at least in part) on the trees in their database. Surely this is a good reason to get your trees uploaded to increase accuracy?
None of the companies provide results closely consistent with my own paper trail which is 44% Irish, 31% Scottish, 19% English/Welsh and 6% German.
Those with German ancestral research tend to get fewer international opportunities than the British and Irish offerings, so I was really looking forward to Day 2 of the Roadshow with Dirk Weissleder and others. I was pleased to see there was good support for Day 2 and that at least some of my genimates were also there.
Don’t you admire people who are bilingual (at least)? Even before learning a thing from Herr Weissleder I was impressed by his ability to present clearly in a different language.
Dirk’s passionate vision for connecting the German diaspora is inspirational. My only concern is for those who speak no German or only the tiniest amount: how do we overcome the language barriers? Dirk wants to bring the descendants of Germans together wherever they are and that is what the DAGV is all about. What is the DAGV? Like many German words it’s what we’d call “a mouthful”: Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbände…got that? Hint: It would be so helpful to have a translation option on the website for those who understand no German.
After listening to the vision for this bringing together of the diaspora, I’ll be considering whether to attend the 2019 Germanic Genealogy Conference in Sacramento.
Key points I took from Dirk’s presentations were:
Remember Germany came into being as a unit in 1871 – before that you must consider Kingdoms and Duchies. I know that my George Kunkel only ever listed his place of origin as Bavaria on official documents. I have the sense they were very proud to be Bavarian.
There are cultural and religious variations between the regions which must be considered. People think of themselves first as Bavarians (for example) and only second as Germans.
Like Ireland, you may have to work to find out what records are still available and where to find them.
We are in the same boat as genealogy researchers in Germany so we need to learn along with them.
I got lots of new sites to follow up to see if I can winkle out more info on my Bavarian interests.
The talk on European research was extremely interesting and could be applied to almost any form of overseas research. Key focus: channel your inner German heritage and be organised and focused.
Of course Mr Weissleder and Mr Paton were not the only speakers on the agenda.
Rosemary Kopittke’s talks on My Heritage have convinced me I should renew my membership after all – it helps that I’ve just found someone else with connections to my distant Kunkel tree in there. I learnt a lot more about how to benefit from a My Heritage subscription. So far, my DNA matches haven’t been as helpful, but as yet it’s a smaller player in the DNA world.
The Living DNA presentation was interesting but as I tested back in February at RootsTech, it was more familiar to me. I might even get round to blogging about my results.
Helen Smith’s talks on DNA and how we can use it were informative, as always. I find that each time I listen to an explanation of the benefits of DNA, a bit more clicks into place. Have you tested for DNA yet? Has it solved any brick walls for you?
ThanksUnlock the Pastfor this fantastic two days of learning…it was both informative and fun.
Disclosure: I have been accepted as an Ambassador for the Road Show in exchange for a free entry pass. My reports on the Roadshow are my honest opinions
My geminate Shelley from Twigs of Yore blog has been giving us all lessons in how to graph or group our Ancestry DNA matches. She’s done a great job of simplifying each step so it’s hard to make mistakes (but it occasionally happens, due to user-error).
In following this process I was lucky on a few counts:
I have only 64 matches for 4th cousins or closer
I have readily identifiable cousins in the short list at 2nd or 3rd
Overall I have about 1000 matches.
My ancestors mostly come from different countries or regions so I expected little overlap between groups/graphs.
As a result I have yet to need to do much to play with graphs which are crazy busy with lines. As yet, I haven’t updated my matches download, so I haven’t tackled the deletion of duplicates. I decided to take the process one step at a time.
Having followed the process, I ended up with 12 graphs in my screen (see below). There are another 12 as well which I can focus on, but they have only one or two linkages, and no identified cousins, so I’ve left them for the time being.
A quick glance showed me some decidedly interesting clusters within particular graphs connecting cousins who I know to be on particular lines. I decided to use the Kunkel graph as my example here, partly because I’ve followed up some of the connections and because I had known cousins in the mix.
With Shelley’s guidance I removed names from the graph, cut and pasted the graph into Photoshop, and added some relationships. For these lines to link up, I’m assuming (yes, I know!) that they belong to one of my Kunkel lines but it’s important to realise that some links might be through the other surnames on that line: Happ (Dorfprozelten, Bavaria) Gavin (Kildare), Murphy (Wicklow), O’Brien and Reddan (Clare). Is this a logical assumption?
The known 2C and 3C cousins in the single graph above are on different branches, descended from George Kunkel and Mary O’Brien. The a2C cousins are on my Kunkel-Gavin branch while the b3C cousins are on the Lee branch, and the c3C are on another branch. Interestingly some of those intersect with matches who seem to be descendants of my Mary O’Brien’s sister, Bridget Widdup from New South Wales.
I find it fascinating how the DNA “lottery” varies so that some will match while others don’t. Similarly some link to the cluster in the coloured lilac area (more anon). What I need to remember is that they also match me, since these linkages derive from my results. What the graphs introduce are links which may be weaker for me and stronger for other cousins. Shelley reminds us that when we search ICW on a match, it only gives up to 4th cousins on that match. These graphs extend the links beyond that.
I’m most intrigued by the lilac cluster, all from the USA as far as I can tell. Many include the surname Kunkel, though unfortunately many do not know where their Kunkel ancestors were born. As you can see from the size of the dots there are strong links with a couple of these in particular. Despite emailing and working on their trees I’m still no wiser about where they fit into my Kunkel family but it seems inevitable that they do, because of the geographic separation. It seems likeliest that they tie to the Kunkels who lived in Laufach or Neuhütten in Bavaria, where my own earlier ancestors came from, and it fits that they would be at the 5th cousin or upwards range. I am fortunate that I should be able to identify relevant 4th cousin families – provided they are shown on a match’s tree.
Has this helped me? Yes, I think it has, because it’s identified where the strong links are. It also lets me target matches who I might otherwise ignore because they’re too far down the match ladder. The clustering with known cousins on particular lines gives the researcher confidence that they are focused on the correct area of their tree.
As always it’s not easy when the matches you want to look at have private trees (or don’t respond), no trees or minimal trees, or when the background information just can’t be found easily. I do feel some sympathy for American researchers because with Australia’s semi-centralised civil registers, it generally makes it easier to track ancestry (more assumptions behind that). On the other hand the US has decennial census records (apart from that very annoying 1890 census) and wider naturalisation information. Swings and roundabouts I guess.
I wonder how often people use the local church records to find where their ancestor may have come from – if the register even states that. Without that one strategy I’d never have found my Kunkels in Bavaria. How appropriate that I wrote that post in response to a geneameme by Shelley all those years ago!
Thanks Shelley for coming up with this bit of Excel magic to help us out. Thanks also to my cousins who’ve tested, either at my request or off their own bat.
I think of Digitisation as the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
It’s readily accessible through personal subscription or library access, so long as you have internet access. You can be living remotely from your place of interest and yet still be able to do research (well at least some). Researchers are no longer totally dependent of having time, money and opportunity to access relevant data.
It can offer you a way to find someone in a large city which otherwise you’d have no chance of finding whatsoever unless you knew exactly where they lived. One of my ancestral stories is a case in point. Despite researching for 25 odd years, it was only the digitisation and indexing of the records that, to my utter amazement, revealed a marriage and a baptism in Dublin. It also certainly makes it easier to track those peripatetic ancestors who wander from town to town or county to county.
The digitisation of newspapers and books around the world, and Australia’s world-leader, Trove, has changed the face of family history. No longer are we restricted to pursuing known facts like births, marriages, anniversaries, funerals, obituaries or “big events”, digitising the newspapers has revealed innumerable “little” stories that bring our ancestors to life. It also assists us with broader research like my East Clare Emigrants, or a genea-friend’s exploration of Western District Families.
Why the Bad?
Well the risk is that when records are digitised, people assume that’s all there is, no other sources exist. They can also assume that each record is complete without checking the background notes to discover what’s included and what’s not. Eg my ancestors aren’t on rootsireland.ie, not because they’ve done a bad job, but because, as yet, the digitisation and uploads isn’t complete.
When we sit laboriously working our way through a microfilm of an old census or parish register, we get a feel for the broader environment in which our ancestors’ lives are lived. We spot mis-spellings, neighbours and other comments. When we head straight for a digital image, it’s all too easy to look to one side or another to place our ancestors in context. While our eyesight might not deteriorate as quickly from looking at registers, which look like they were stored in a shed with the chooks and a leaky roof, we can miss out on a lot.
And the ugly?
The much-lamented tendency to add suggestions provided by program agencies or copy from another’s tree without checking the data. Not only do we miss out on the thrill of the chase, we might well wind up on the wrong genealogical line altogether. There’s also the “happy” but misguided belief that it it’s on the internet it belongs to everyone….simply not the case both from a copyright point of view and a basic courtesy point of view. For example, I’ve seen photos I’ve edited with a copyright marking turn up on trees without acknowledgement or request to use it. Please, ask, ask, ask.
D is for DNA
The latest horse in the genealogical stable, DNA just doesn’t lie. It’s dead easy (pardon the pun), when you can readily identify the paper trail of ancestral connections but quite often the links are a complete mystery. I’m coming to wonder how many of these anomalies relate to those rubbery trees rather than a NPE or non-paternal-event ie a bit of shenanigans behind the scenes, or an adoption.
In my deluded optimism I thought DNA would solve my bigger Irish brick walls….all it’s meant is that (1) I’ve found some great cousins and (2) we have to slog away to find where those connections may have originated.
Again, this is where it becomes important to ensure your research ladder is up the right tree. If not, it will be no surprise that you can’t find your DNA match’s connection to your tree.
Despite my blog drought and house obsession, I have spent some time on my DNA results which I only recently uploaded to Gedmatch. I had been ambivalent in the past but it is actually very useful, especially for Ancestry results which don’t come with as much info, and for which I have fewer matches (which may change with the spread of Ancestry testing).
Why is it that those with whom you have the best matches don’t reply to your emails?
I’ve resisted putting my family tree online anywhere but have slowly been adding one to Family Tree DNA. (hmm another “bitty” job) Instead I’ve been sending out a horizontal family tree, inspired by a post I read a little while ago. This lets me add my families’ places of origin as well as names.
Which raises another question: why do so few people think place is irrelevant? After all it provides a good clue on where families may originate and overlap especially when the match segment is too great to be explained by endogamous populations.
My best decision in terms of testing DNA has been to get some older generations tested. To my surprise my mother quickly agreed to be tested which helps me know which side of the family my matches occur on. Nora, my 3rd cousin once removed (on Dad’s side) in Sydney also agreed to be tested.
Both of these samples have turned up matches which don’t match me, which is very helpful.
Mum’s sample produced a good cousin match with a lady in Canada, her brothers and an Irish cousin. We’ve narrowed down our likely connection through my Callaghan family in Wexford. Like so many others we’re hanging out for the release of the Irish parish registers on 8 July…only a few days days to go!! (I think some people are in for a shock at just how challenging these images can be to read)
What is bewildering is this particular family’s matches is there’s also some overlap with Mr Cassmob’s DNA – even though his ancestors are not known to come from Wexford or other identified geographic overlaps.
And then there’s the matches with Nora’s DNA. One seems to link to the McNamara family from Broadford Co Clare. I know that my O’Briens were connected to this family in some way, because when one daughter married, the registers show she and her McNamara husband were third cousins.
And the match with Nora to someone with Co Kerry ancestry. Much will depend on where her Kerry family lived. If they were in the north it may not be such a stretch.
So DNA testing tends to bring even more questions than you had already it often seems. When you get an obvious match it’s all too easy but the very ones you want to know about are the ones that keep you scratching your head in confusion.
DNA can lead you on a merry trail through a maze to identify your distant kith and kin links.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had my autosomal DNA tested through Family Tree DNA. It wasn’t until a 2nd cousin had hers tested and Mum also agreed to being tested too, that my results started to provide some clues to the past.
There’s still heaps to do and I’m still pretty confused, but a few of the closest links are looking like they tie back to/through my Callaghan ancestors in Wexford.
Some link to both Mum and to me, but others only to Mum. My conjecture on the latter is that either (1) the DNA jumble has given them some of the DNA segments of Mum’s that I didn’t inherit –after all Dad had to get a look-in with 50% OR (2) they are further back in the line from me so the common segments aren’t large enough.
The Callaghan line is one I’ve done virtually nothing on, for no reason that I can explain. Mary Callaghan married Peter Sherry (later McSherry) at St Michael’s church in Gorey, Wexford on 27 February 1881 and the witnesses to the wedding were John & Kate Turner. A few years later Peter and Mary would follow his parents and siblings to Australia. I must admit from time to time I’ve wondered if any of Mary’s siblings also followed them.
All I know so far of Mary’s ancestry (from her marriage entry) is that her father’s name is David and he was a fisherman. I had checked with the priest at Gorey who told me that the Callaghans had not been part of their parish. My hyphothesis then was that perhaps the family came from nearby Courtown, just 4 kilometres east of Gorey and a fishing port.
Searching the National Archives of Ireland’s 1901 census shows three men named David Callaghan in Wexford, all living in Courtown Harbour. In fact the Household Returns show they are all in the same house of which the head is David Callaghan, a fisherman, 67 years old, Roman Catholic and illiterate. Living with him is his daughter Bridget, aged 33; his son, also David, aged 27 and a fisherman, David senior’s daughter-in-law Kate, a widow, aged 37 and their son David #3, aged 7. All are illiterate except Kate and the 7 year-old David. John, Patrick and James were all fishermen but they could all read and write, unlike David’s family.
The Enumerator’s Abstract reports them as living in Courtown Village, Ballaghkeen North Barony in the parish of Ardamine.
It was the enumerator’s House and Building Report (page 2), that alerted me to the fact that living next door to David’s family is John Callaghan and his family. From the household return John Callaghan is 62, living with his wife Catherine aged 60, sons Patrick 32 and James 23, and daughter Elizabeth Redmond 34, her husband James 35 and her daughter Mary. It seems likely, but yet to be proven, that John and David are related in some way.
According to the House and Building report again, the houses in the Courtown Harbour village are predominantly of 2nd class standard, constructed of brick/stone with slate/tile/metal roofs, 5 or 6 rooms and 3 windows at the front. The Return of Out Houses and Farm Steadings show John Callaghan has 5 outbuildings, an unusually large number, which are reported as a dairy, piggery, fowl house, shed and store. This makes me wonder if he’s perhaps supplying the village rather than just his own family’s needs, as 4 households kept a piggery, 7 a fowl house but John was the only one with a dairy. Next door David Callaghan had no outhouses but his family occupied six rooms while John’s had only five.
The standard of the village’s houses becomes apparent from a reference in Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland: “several good slated houses and other buildings have been erected on the quay…” There is also an interesting local history which has some invaluable clues into life in the area over the decades[i].If you’d like to see some old images of Courtown they are available on the National Library of Ireland site here.
Although the Courtown area had excellent fishing for many years, over time the industry diminished and that would certainly have affected the Callaghan men’s income generation and financial independence. By the time of the 1911 census, Kate is registered as the head of the household living her son Davi #3, with her father-in-law David, 82, and his daughter Bridget, 44. Kate is listed as a widow so David #2 has died between 1901 and 1911, perhaps at sea. I can find no record of his death in the Irish or English indexes[ii].
Having found John and David Callaghan living in adjacent houses in 1901, I wondered if their residence in the area was long-standing so I turned to the Griffith Valuations. The Ask About Ireland site offers this wonderful resource with digital images and the original maps. Sure enough, there was an Anne Callaghan living in the village with a house and land of £1 per annum rateable value. Her landlord was John Oughton, the very person whom we know to have built the harbour-side cottages mentioned by Samuel Lewis. Also in the village was a John Callaghan with a house only, valued at £1 and also owned by John Oughton. No ages are provided by the Griffith Valuations and since Anne is the lease-holder it is most likely that she was a widow (though not necessarily).
Perhaps it’s indicative of the declining fishing industry or just the life of men who survived the harshness of the elements, but the Callaghan crew make regular appearances in the Petty Sessions records in FindMyPast. At present the Gorey, Wexford records only cover the period between 1900 and 1911. I’m betting that when there are more released the Callaghans will feature again….I’ll certainly have my fingers crossed! So far the charges relate to drunkenness, drunk and disorderly, one charge of common assault by David Callaghan on John Callaghan (not prosecuted), and several for John Callaghan regarding non-payment of harbour dues. The beauty of these latter entries is that they refer to John Callaghan owning three fishing boats, Fame, Lizzie and Gance (?).
I had also wondered if any of the Callaghans had joined the British Merchant Navy or the Royal Navy, especially during the years of World War I. I believe this entry for David Callaghan, born ~1891 is in fact the same David Callaghan living with his parents and grandfather in Courtown in 1901 and serving on HMS Tempest in 1915.
Another invaluable entry is John’s excursion in Wexford gaol for drunkenness in 1883[iii]. He is described as a fisherman of Courtown and is 40 years old, consistent with his estimated DOB from the census. He is described as 5ft 7.5inches tall, with black hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. Plainly the Callaghans hadn’t got on board the Temperance pledge started by Fr Theobald Matthew in 1838, which the nuns were still pushing when I was at school. I rather wish David had had a stint in jail as then there’d be a description of him…perhaps when the remaining petty session records, if available, have been indexed.
Anne Callaghan also “got a guernsey” in the prison records [iv]. She was charged with larceny for the theft of a chemise and admitted to the Wexford Gaol on 3 August 1877. She was 5ft 2.5inches, with hazel eyes, black hair and a fresh complexion. She had no trade and it was her first time in gaol. She lived at Courtown Harbour making it pretty likely she is the same one mentioned in the valuations. (Although I sourced these through my FindMyPast world subscription, the indexes are also available on FamilySearch and the images can be seen at an LDS Family History Centre near you).
Where to from here with this research? Well this is all very circumstantial, something I would always warn against, but I’m walking on the wild side here. Ultimately I need to check the Riverchapel parish records but these are not available through Family Search on microfilm or digitised, but only through the National Library of Ireland….a “to do” addition for my next Irish holiday whenever that may be.
These are merely my hypothetical suggestions for one of my ancestral families with definite links, or rejections, to be discovered in the future. Come back later to learn more of their BDM chronology and a scandal that I discovered in Google books.
I’ll leave you with an extract from a delightful poem, The Harbour, by Irish poet Winifred Letts. I wonder if this is how our Irish forebears felt, especially my Mary Callaghan McSherry.
I think if I lay dying in some land Where Ireland is no more than just a name, My soul would travel back to find that strand From whence it came.
I’d see the harbour in the evening light, The old men staring at some distant ship, The fishing boats they fasten left and right Beside the slip.
[i]The Windswept Shore, a history of the Courtown District. Kinsella, A, 1994.
[ii] Sources accessed FindMyPast.com and FreeBMD.org.uk
Despite having other pressing family tasks I’ve found myself lost in DNA results and especially the X chromosome matches. I had my autosomal DNA (aka Family Finder) tested some time ago but have never really come to terms with the matches presented by Family Tree DNA.
I’ve been fortunate lately to find a known second cousin has also been tested, and even better we have loads of DNA in common…well compared to my earlier matches. As we also know our genealogy from traditional methods, it means that we can focus down on where our X chromosomes may have been generated. Interestingly, we both have good overlaps on the X chromosome with a couple of women who only come in at the likely 4th cousin level, Sandra S and Linda S (who also have some reasonable shared Cms with me/us on some of the other 22 chromosomes).
To state what is generally well known, a girl child inherits an X chromosome from her mother and another from her father. The father’s comes down intact exactly as he inherited it from his mother. Any genetic jumbling, aka recombination, happened at his mother’s level ie with the paternal grandmother.
The X chromosome inherited from a girl’s mother will not match the mother’s exactly. Rather it goes through the jumbling or recombination process, amalgamating genetically the two X chromosomes the mum inherited from the female child’s maternal grandparents.
So the X-chromosome Dad gave me is a direct reflection of whatever his mother Catherine passed on to him. This is a genetic blend of the X-DNA from my great-grandmother, Isabella Morrison of Cairndow and Strachur in Argyll, and that of my Sim great-grandparents over in the east of Scotland, in Stirlingshire.
My mother’s X-DNA is a blend of her two X chromosomes, which were inherited from my maternal grandparents ie McSherry and Melvin, so a combination of Irish and Scots genes. A comparison between my mother’s X-DNA and mine will not be identical as it has been jumbled up before being passed on. There should however (I think) be a fair degree of overlap. This will become more clear (I hope!) to me when my mum’s results come back.
The chart here shows the pink boxes which generate our X chromosome material. As it cannot be passed on from fathers to their sons, we can eliminate whole sections of a genealogical chart when looking at X-DNA. As the Family Finder autosomal matches predict likely relationships, I found it helpful to illustrate which segments would apply to 2nd, 3rd or 4th cousins. I also noted which countries and known counties or regions my ancestors came from. I haven’t filled in every box but I’m sure you’ll get the drift. It does look like a bit of schmozzle, but what you’re looking for is the pink lines of descent, henceforth known as the “women in pink” and don’t forget you can click to enlarge it. (I acknowledge with thanks the work of Blaine Bettinger, the Genetic Genealogist, in providing us with this tool).
The X chromosome is one of the 23 DNA pairs which make up our genetic being and it is the one which determines our gender (boys only inherit one X and their father’s Y). It is tested as part of the FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder, or autosomal, DNA test. 22 of the pairs are a random mix of all the DNA which is passed on from generation to generation, making it possible to find relations via significant shared SNPs of shared chromosomes.
The X chromosome behaves somewhat differently from the other 22 autosomal pairs. This is partly because of recombination, though some researchers have found that it’s been passed down virtually unchanged over several generations. Even siblings will not necessarily have identical X-DNA for these reasons. I am happy to take the word of the experts that this little gene is rather tricky and not as predictable certainly as Y-DNA or matrilineal DNA.
The X chromosome is not to be confused with matrilineal DNA (mtDNA) which is passed virtually intact from generation to generation down through the mother-to-daughter-to-daughter line. In this case I can expect my mtDNA to have come down through the generations from my 2xgreat grandmother, Mary Camp from Hertforshire, and the women back in line from her. While my father inherited his mother’s mtDNA he cannot pass it on to me…that’s a genetic “dead end” for me, which can only be tested via Dad’s maternal aunts (now all deceased) or their daughters.
It seems logical to me (but am I right?) that if an autosomal DNA match includes a match to me on the X chromosome, this might be the best line of research to approach first, especially for those high in my overall matches and relationships. After all, the X-DNA has narrowed down my possible lines of ancestry with its focus on the “women in pink” (see chart). While I have over 400 DNA matches with Family Tree DNA, sharing a range of Cm from 378.4 to say 25, I have only 90 X-DNA matches among these. Some have trees listed, others have names and places (as I do), and some have nothing.
Among my matches I have five probable 2nd to 4th cousins and 25 x 3rd to 5th. While a fourth cousin may seem some distance away, that fades when I realise how much conventional research I’ve achieved through my 3rd cousin once removed in the O’Brien line. This includes providing me with mtDNA which will go back to my 3xgreat grandmother, Catherine O’Brien nee Reddan from Co Clare, Ireland, and generations of women beyond her.
I have had two good autosomal matches in my list for a while and have recently been in contact with the person who manages them. We share no X-DNA but we do have one narrow area of Ireland in common. Of course the problems with Irish documentary research make it difficult to go multiple generations without a fair amount of the luck of the Irish.
I’m by no means confident I’m correct on all these facts and happy to receive advice from more experienced readers –this is by way of “thinking out loud”. It all no sooner seems to make sense than I find myself in another spider’s web of confusion. Many’s the time I’ve wondered what happened to those five years of science I did at school and university.
In trying to get my head around these issues I’ve been assisted by the following blog posts as well as conference presentations by Kerry Farmer and advice from Helen Smith. In each of these posts there are onward links which are worth following. Any false deductions and reporting are entirely my own fault, not theirs. As I said, I’m thinking out loud here trying to sort out my own ideas, so feel free to weigh in with corrections.
This week I’ve finally looked at my Family Finder (autosomal) DNA results from Family Tree DNA. I’m a genetic novice so I’m in a state of complete confusion wishing I’d paid more attention previously. You wouldn’t think I’d ever done science as I sit bewildered by it all.
WHY FAMILY FINDER?
Y-DNA is out because my father is deceased, I have no brothers and neither did he. I could go wider to cousins but I “know” my ancestral paternal line from documentary evidence – always assuming no surprises like adoptions/playing away etc. I’d still like to have a couple of cousins for genetic comparisons on this line but I have no first cousins on this line at all
Matrilineal DNA (MtDNA) and X-DNA are also less of an issue because I again “know” what my line is, even though there’s more work to be done the conventional way. I do have a few first cousins on this line though two of them I haven’t seen since I was about 10. My only uncle on this line had no children…another brick wall on the Y-DNA chart.
Autosomal DNA seemed to be the best strategy for me, enabling me to look at my other 22 chromosomes and their genetic matches.
WHAT WAS I HOPING FOR?
Like anyone (pretty much) with Irish ancestry I hit a brick wall around the time of the Famine, with the limited availability of records. There are also a number of lines for which I only have parents’ names (from shipping lists) and a few where I have nothing before them. These are all at the 6th or 7th generation level, which would bring in 4th or 5th cousins – this seemed just right for the Family Finder DNA test.
MY WISH LIST WAS:
To link with someone who has Sherry DNA from Ireland (I have nothing pre-1860).
To perhaps find descendants of Philip Joseph Kunkel (my 2xgreat uncle)
To learn whether my Furlongs in Tullamore are genetically linked to the Wexford family
To see if I got any new “hits” on my Partridge line enabling it go back further.
Any other connections that arose.
WHAT DID I GET?
As anticipated, no 1st or 2nd cousins, as yet anyway. I suspect there’s some bias in the database in that more Americans are being tested overall (well there are more of them than Aussies anyway). Many of those tested seem to have long lines in the US, making close relationships unlikely….I hadn’t anticipated this, logical though it is.
FTDNA did find three matches at the 3rd cousin level. That’s pretty close as we should share a genetic link at the 2 x great grandparent level. My best link is to someone simply listed as “F” with no further details. We have the greatest overlap of 60.29 cM and a longest block of 32.09. How frustrating not to be able to contact them.
I’ve contacted the other two 3rd cousins and they have replied but so far there’s nary a suggestion of a family link in their tree that I can determine. Can you tell the why I’m getting confused?
I got a fair number of 4th cousins and have contacted some of them. Initially the e-book by the Genetic Genealogist suggests that at this level, the DNA overlap could be coincidental (IBS –Identical by State) rather than due to biological inheritance (IBD or identical by descent). At this point I went back to focus on my 3rd cousins. However FTDNA’s FAQs suggest that their statistical modelling ensures matches are IDB not IDS (FAQ 12). So that makes both 4th and 5th cousins worth investigating in more detail.
Firstly I thought I was going to have a pretty DNA image to play with…should have read the manual first. However I’ve downloaded the raw data which as yet is purely Double Dutch, as they say.
I also used the Population Finder tool and got something of a surprise. I expected all of mine to be in the Western European category. To a large extent this was correct BUT I also got another 4.43±1.52% from the Middle East. This percentage compares very closely to my German ancestry which suggests to me that it’s this line which originates in the Middle East. This was a surprise as this is one of my longest lines which I can trace back to Bavaria in the early 1600s.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
As well as the list of 4th cousins, I also have a whole gaggle load of 5th cousins who I will need to investigate further. Some people have email contacts and some also have surnames of interest and GEDCOMs uploaded. I’ll work through those first.
I’ve had a play with the chromosome browser and put my closest/best matches onto that. Of course the elusive “F” reveals a good block of common DNA! I can only hope they come looking for me.
Does anyone know if the Population Finder map will show highlighted areas in continental Europe or always just the UK?
Has anyone used GEDmatch for further comparisons? If so what were your experiences?
So there it is, my first foray into the world of genetic genealogy! I feel rather as if I’m in the deep end with my nose barely above the water line while I should be in the toddler pool. There’s much to learn and I’ve been very grateful for Kerry Farmer’s Unlock the Past book on DNA for Genealogists. Seems like I have a lot more reading to do so I can understand this better. My reading will include a number of my Genimates who have written about this topic. Now I have my results, I’ll be more able to see how they can help me with ideas etc.
Have I misunderstood anything/made a mistake in the process here? Please jump in and let me know. Also feel free to share your experiences with autosomal DNA.