The Autosomal Me – The Holy Grail – Identifying Native Genealogy Lines

holy grail

Sangreal – the Holy Grail.  We are finally here, Part 9 and the final article in our series.  The entire purpose of The Autosomal Me series has been to use our DNA and the clues it holds to identify minority admixture, in this case, Native American, and by identifying those Native segments, and building chromosomal clusters, to identify the family lines that contributed that Native admixture.  Articles 1-8 in the series set the stage, explained the process and walked us through the preparatory steps.  In this last article, we apply all of the ingredients, fasten the lid, shake and see what we come up with.  Let’s take a minute and look at the steps that got us to this point.

Part 1 was “The Autosomal Me – Unraveling Minority Admixture” and Part 2 was “The Autosomal Me – The Ancestors Speak.”  Part 1 discussed the technique we are going to use to unravel minority ancestry, and why it works.  Part two gave an example of the power of fragmented chromosomal mapping and the beauty of the results.

Part 3, “The Autosomal Me – Who Am I?,” reviewed using our pedigree charts to gauge expected results and how autosomal results are put into population buckets.

Part 4, “The Autosomal Me – Testing Company Results,” shows what to expect from all of the major testing companies, past and present, along with Dr. Doug McDonald’s analysis.

In Part 5, “The Autosomal Me – Rooting Around in the Weeds Using Third Party Tools,” we looked at 5 different third party tools and what they can tell us about our minority admixture that is not reported by the major testing companies because the segments are too small and fragmented.

In Part 6, “The Autosomal Me – DNA Analysis – Splitting Up” we began the analysis part of the data we’ve been gathering.   We looked at how to determine whether minority admixture on specific chromosomes came from which parent.

Part 7, “The Autosomal Me – Start, Stop, Go – Identifying Native Chromosomal Segments” took a deeper dive and focused on the two chromosomes with proven Native heritage and began by comparing those chromosome segments using the 4 GedMatch admixture tools.

Part 8, “The Autosomal Me – Extracting Data Segments and Clustering,” we  extract all of the Native and Blended Asian segments in all 22 chromosomes, but only used chromosomes 1 and 2 for illustration purposes.  We then clustered the resulting data to look for trends, grouping clusters by either the Strong Native criteria or the Blended Asian criteria.

In this final segment, Part 9, we will be applying the chromosomal information we’ve gathered to our matches and determine which of our lines are the most likely to have Native Ancestry.  This, of course, has been the goal all along.  So, drum roll…..here we go.

In Part 8, we ended by entering the start and stop locations of both Strong Native and Blended Asian clusters into a table to facilitate easy data entry into the chromosome match spreadsheet downloaded from either 23andMe or Family Tree DNA.  If you downloaded it previously, you might want to download it again if you haven’t modified it, or download new matches since you last downloaded the spreadsheet and add them to the master copy.

My goal is to determine which matches and clusters indicate Native ancestry, and how to correlate those matches to lineage.  In other words, which family lines in my family were Native or carry Native heritage someplace.

The good news is that my mother’s line has proven Native heritage, so we can use her line as proof of concept.  My father’s family has so many unidentified wives, marginalized families and family secrets that the Native line could be almost any of them, or all of them!  Let’s see how that tree shakes out.

Finding Matches

So let’s look at a quick example of how this would work.  Let’s say I have a match, John, on chromosome 4 in an area where my mother has no Native admixture, but I do.  Therefore, since John does not match my mother, then the match came from my father and if we can identify other people who also match both John and I in that same region on that chromosome, they too have Native ancestry.  Let’s say that we all also share a common ancestor.  It stands to reason at that point, that the common ancestor between us indicates the Native line, because we all match on the Native segment and have the same ancestor.  Obviously, this would help immensely in identifying Native families and at least giving pointers in which direction to look.  This is a “best case’ example.  Some situations, especially where both parents contribute Native heritage to the same chromosome, won’t be this straightforward.

Based on our findings, the maximum range and minimum (least common denominator or “In Common” range is as follows for the strongest Native segments on chromosomes 1 and 2.

  Chromosome 1 Chromosome 2
Largest   Range 162,500,000   – 180,000,000 79,000,000   – 105,000,000
Smallest   Range 165,658,091   – 171,000,000 90,000,000   – 103,145,425

At GedMatch

At GedMatch, I used a comparison tool to see who matched me on chromosome 1.  Only 2 people outside of immediate family members matched, and both from Family Tree DNA.  Both matched me on the critical Native segments between about 165-180mg.  I was excited.  I went to Family Tree DNA and checked to see if these two people also matched my mother, which would confirm the Native connection, but neither did, indicating of course that these two people matched me on my father’s side.  That too is valuable information, but it didn’t help identify any common Native heritage with my mother on chromosome 1.  It did, however, eliminate them as possibilities which is valuable information as well.

DNAGedcom

I used a new tool, DNAGedcom, compliments of Rob Warthen who has created a website, DNA Tools, at www.dnagedcom.com.  This wonderful tool allows you to download all of your autosomal matches at Family Tree DNA and 23andMe along with their chromosomal segment matches.  Since my mother’s DNA has only been tested at Family Tree DNA, I’m limiting the download to those results for now, because what I need is to find the people who match both she and I on the critical segments of chromosome 1 or 2.

Working with the Download Spreadsheet

It was disappointing to discover that my mother and I had no common matches that fell into this range on chromosome 1, but chromosome 2 was another matter.  Please note that I have redacted match surnames for privacy.

step 9 table 1

The spreadsheet above shows the comparison of my matches (pink) and Mother’s (white).  The Native segment of chromosome 2 where I match Mother is shaded mustard.  I shaded the chromosome segments that fell into the “common match” range in green.  Of those matches, there is only one person who matches both Mother and I, Emma.  The next step, of course, is to contact Emma and see if we can discover our common ancestor, because whoever it is, that is the Native line.  As you might imagine, I am chomping at the bit.

There are no segments of chromosome 2 that are unquestionably isolated to my father’s line.

Kicking it up a Notch

Are you wondering about now how something that started out looking so simple got so complex?  Well, I am too, you’re not alone.  But we’ve come this far, so let’s go that final leg in this journey.  My mom always used to say there was no point in doing something at all if you weren’t going to do it right.  Sigh….OK Mom.

The easiest way to facilitate a chromosome by chromosome comparison with all of your matches and your Strong Native and Blended Asian segments is to enter all of these segment groups into the match spreadsheet.  If you’re groaning and your eyes glaze over right after you do one big ole eye roll, I understand.

But let’s take a look at how this helps us.

On the excerpt from my spreadsheet below, for a segment of chromosome 5, I have labeled the people and how they match to me.  The ones labeled “Mom” in the last column are labeled that way because these people match both Mom and I.  The ones labeled “Dad” are labeled that way because I know that person is related on my father’s side.

Using the information from the tables created in Step 8, I entered the beginning and end of all matching segment clusters into my spreadsheet.  You can see these entries on lines 7, 8, 22, 23 and 24.  You then proceed to colorize your matches based on the entry for either Mom or Dad – in other words the blue row or the purple row, line 7, 22 or 24.  In this example, actually, line 5 Rex, based on the coloration, should have been half blue and half purple, but we’ll discuss his case in a minute.

The you can then sort either by match name or by chromosome to view data in both ways.  Let’s look at an example of how this works.

Legend:

  • White Rows:  Mother’s matches.  When Mother and I both match an individual, you’ll see the same matches for me in pink.  This double match indicates that the match is to Mother’s side and not Father’s side.
  • Pink Rows:  My matches.
  • Purple “Mom” labels in last column:  The individual matches both me and Mom.  This is a genetic match.
  • Teal “Dad” labels in last column: Genealogically proven to be from my father’s side.  This is a genealogical, not a genetic label, since I don’t have Dad’s DNA and can only infer these genetically when they don’t also match Mother.
  • Dark Pink Rows labeled “Me Amerind Only” are Strong Native or Blended Asian segments from Chromosome Table that I have entered.  My segments must come from one of my parents, so I’ve either colored them purple, if the match is someone who matches Mother and I both, or teal, if they don’t match both Mom and I, so by inference they come from my father’s line.
  • Dark Purple Rows labeled “Mom Amerind Only” are Mom’s segments from the Chromosome Table.
  • Dark Teal Rows labeled “Dad Amerind Only” are inferred segments belonging to my father based on the fact that Mother and I don’t share them.

Inferred Relationships

This is a good place to talk for just a minute about inferred relationships in this context.  Inference gets somewhat tenuous or weak.  The inferred matches on my father’s side began with the Native segments in the admix tools.  Some inferences are very strong, where Mother has no Native at all in that region.  For example, Mom has European and I have Native American.  No question, this had to come from my father.  But other cases are much less straightforward.

In many cases, categorization may be the issue.  Mom has West Asian for example and I have Siberian or Beringian.  Is this a categorization issue or is this a real genetic difference, meaning that my Siberian/Beringian is actually Native and came from my father’s side?

Other cases of confusion arise from segment misreads, etc.  I’ve actually intentionally included a situation like this below, so we can discuss it.  Like all things, some amount of common sense has to enter the picture, and known relationships will also weigh heavily in the equation.  How known family members match on other chromosome segments is important too.  Do you see a pattern or is this match a one-time occurrence?  Patterns are important.

Keep in mind that these entries only reflect STRONG Asian or Native signals, not all signals.  So even if Mother doesn’t have a strong signal, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have ANY signal in that region.  In some cases, start and stop segments for Mom and Dad overlapped due to very long segments on some matches.  In this case, we have to rely on the fact that we do have Mother’s actual DNA and assume that if they aren’t also a match to Mother, that what we are seeing is actually Dad’s lines, although this may not in actuality always be true.  Why?  Because we are dealing with segments below the matching threshold limit at both Family Tree DNA and 23andMe, and both of my parents carry Native heritage.  We can also have crossed a transitional boundary where the DNA that is being matched switches from Mom’s side to Dad’s side.

Ugh, you say, now that’s getting messy.  Yes, it is, and it has complicated this process immensely.

The Nitty-Gritty Data Itself

step 9 table 2

Taking a look at this portion of chromosome 5, we have lots going on in this cluster.  Most segments will just be boring pink and white (meaning no Native), but this segment is very busy.  Mom and I match on a small segment from 52,000,000 to 53,000,000.  Indeed, this is a very short segment when compared to the entire chromosome, but it is strongly Native.  We both also match Rex, our known cousin.  I’ve noted him with yellow in the table. Please note that Mom’s white matches are never shaded.  I am focused on determining where my own segments originate, so coloring Mother’s too was only confusing.  Yes, I did try it.

You can see that Mother actually shares all or any part of her segment with only me and Rex.  This simplifies matters, actually.  However, also note that I carry a larger segment in this region than does Mother, so either we have a categorization issue, a misread, or my father also contributed.  So, a conundrum.  This very probably implies that my father also carried Native DNA in this region.

Let’s see what Rex’s DNA looks like on this same segment of chromosome 5, from 52-53 using Eurogenes.  In the graph below, my chromosome is the top bar, Rex’s the middle and the bottom bar shows common DNA with the black nonmatching.  Yellow is Native American, red is South Asian, putty is Siberian, lime green is Mediterranean, teal is North Europe, orange is Caucus.

Step 9 item 3

This same comparison is shown to Mother’s DNA (top row) below.

step 9 item 4

It’s interesting that while Mother doesn’t have a lot of yellow (Native), she does have it throughout the same segment where Rex’s occurs, from about 52 through 53.5.

Does this actually point to a Native ancestor in the common line between Rex, Mom and I, which is the Swiss/German Johann Michael Miller line which does include an unidentified wife stateside, or does this simply indicate a common ancient population long ago in Asia?  It’s hard to say and is deserving of more research.  I feel that it is most likely Native because of the actual yellow, Native segment. If this was an Asian/European artifact, it would be much less likely to carry the actual yellow segment.

Is Rex also genealogically related to my father?  As I’ve worked through this process with all of my chromosomes and matches, I’ve really come to question if one of my father’s dead ends is also an ancestral line of my mother’s.

The key to making sense of these results is clusters.

Clusters vs Singleton Outliers

The work we’ve already done, especially in Step 8, clusters the actual DNA matching segments.  We’ve now entered that information into the spreadsheet and colored the segments of those who match.  What’s next?

The key is to look for people with clusters.  Many matches will have one segment, of say, 10 that match, colored.  Unless this is part of a large chromosome cluster, it’s probably simply an outlier.  Part of a large chromosome cluster would be like the large Strong Native segments on chromosome 1 or 2, for example.  How do we tell if this is a valid match or just an outlier?

Sort the spreadsheet by match name.  Take a look at all of the segments.

The example we’ll use is that of my cousin, Rex.  If you recall, he matches both me and Mother, is a known first cousin twice removed to me, (genetically equal to a second cousin), and is descended from the Miller line.

In this example, I also colored Mother’s segments because I wanted to see which segments that I did not receive from her were also Native. You can see that there are many segments where we all match and several of those are Native.  These also match to other Miller descendants as well, so are strongly indicative of a Native connection someplace in our common line.

If we were only to see one Native segment, we would simply disregard this as an outlier situation.  But that’s not the case.  We see a cluster of matches on various segments, we match other cousins from the same line on these segments, and reverting back to the original comparison admixture tools verifies these matches are Native for Rex, Mom and me.

step 9 item 5

Hmmmm…..what is Dad’s blue segment color doing in there?  Remember I said that we are only dealing with strong match segments?  Well, Mom didn’t have a strong segment at that location and so we inferred that Dad did.  But we know positively that this match does come from Mother’s side.  I also mentioned that I’ve come to wonder if my Mom and Dad share a common line.  It’s the Miller line that’s in question.  One of Johann Michael Miller’s children, Lodowick, moved from Pennsylvania to Augusta County, Virginia in the 1700s and his line became Appalachian, winding up in many of the same counties as my father’s family.  I’m going to treat this as simply an anomaly for now, but it actually could be, in this case, an small indication that these lines might be related.  It also might be a weak “Mom” match, or irrelevant.  I see other “double entries” like this in other Miller cousins as well.

What is the pink row on chromosome 12?  When I grouped the Strong Native and Asian Clusters, sometimes I had a strong grouping, and Mom had some.  The way I determined Dad’s inferred share was to subtract what Mom had in those segments from mine.  In a few cases, Mom didn’t have enough segments to be considered a cluster but she had enough to prevent Dad from being considered a cluster either, so those are simply pink, me with no segment coloring for Mom or Dad.

Let’s say I carry Strong Native/Mixed Asian at the following 8 locations:

10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24

This meets the criteria for 8 of 15 ethno-geographic locations (in the admix tools) within a 2.5 cM distance of each other, so this cluster would be included in the Mixed Asian for me.  It could also be a Strong Native cluster if it was found in 3 of 4 individual tools.  Regardless of how, it has been included.

Let’s now say that Mom carries Native/Mixed Asian at 10, 12 and 14, but not elsewhere in this cluster.

Mom’s 3 does not qualify her for the 8/15 and it only leaves Dad with 5 inferred segments, which disqualifies him too.  So in this case, my cluster would be listed, but not attributable directly to either parent.

What this really says is that both of my parents carry some Native/Blended Asian on this segment and we have to use other tools to extrapolate anything further.  The logic steps are the same as for Dad’s blue segment.  We’re going to treat that as an outlier.  If I really need to know, I can go back to the actual admixture tools and see whether Mom or Dad really match me strongly on which segments and how we compare to Rex as well.  In this case, it’s obvious that this is a match to my Mother’s side, so I’m leaving well enough alone.

Let’s see what the matches reveal.

Matches

Referring back to the Nitty Gritty Data spreadsheet, Mom’s match to Phyllis on row 15 confirms an Acadian line.  This is the known line of Mother’s Native ancestry.  This makes sense and they match on Native segments on several other chromosomes as well.  In fact, many of my and Mother’s matches have Acadian ancestry.

My match to row 19, Joy, is a known cousin on my father’s side with common Campbell ancestry.  This line is short however, because our common ancestor, believed to be Charles Campbell died before 1825 in Hawkins County, TN.  He was probably born before 1750, given that his sons were born about 1770 and 1772.  Joy and I descend from those 2 sons.  Charles wife and parents are unknown, as is his wife.

My match to row 20, inferred through my father’s side, is to a Sizemore, a line with genetically proven Native ancestry.  Of course, this needs more research, but it may be a large hint.  I also match with several other people who carry Sizemore ancestors.  This line appears to have originated near the NC/VA border.

I wanted to mention rows 4 and 17.  Using our rules for the spreadsheet, if I match someone and they don’t also match Mother on this segment, I have inferred them to be through my father.  These are two instances that this is probably incorrect.  I do match these people through Mother, but Mother didn’t carry a strong signal on this segment, so it automatically became inferred to Dad.  Remember, I’m only recording the Strong Native or the Blended Asian segments, not all segments.  However, I left the inferred teal so that you can see what kinds of judgment calls you’ll have to make.  This also illustrates that while Mom’s genetic matches are solid, Dad’s inferred matches are less so and sometimes require interpretation.  The proper thing to do in this instance would be to refer back to the original admixture tools themselves for clarification.

Let’s see what that shows.

step 9 item 6

Using HarrappaWorld, the most pronounced segment is at about 52.  Teal is American.  You can see that Mother has only a very small trace between 53 and 54, almost negligible.  Mother’s admixture at location 52 is two segments of purple, brown and cinnamon which translate to Southwest Asian (lt purple), Mediterranean (dk purple), Caucasian (brown) and Balock (cinnamon), from Pakistan.

Checking Dodecad shows pretty much the same thing, except Mother’s background there is South Asian, which could be the same thing as Caucus and Pakistan, just different categorizations.

In this case, it looks like the admixture is not a categorization issue, but likely did come from my father.  Each segment will really be a case by case call, with only the strongest segments across all tools being the most reliable.

It’s times like this that we have to remember that we have two halves of each chromosome and they carry vastly different information from each of our parents.  Determining which is which is not always easy.  If in doubt, disregard that segment.

Raw Numbers

So, what, really did I figure out after all of this?

First, let’s look at some numbers.

I was working with a total of 292 people who had at least one chromosomal segment that matched me with a Strong Native or Blended Asian segment.  Of those, 59 also matched Mom’s DNA.  Of those, 18 had segments that matched only Mom.  This means that some of them had segments that also matched my father.  Keep in mind, again, that we are only using “strong matches” which involves inferring Dad’s segments and that referring back to the original tools can always clarify the situation.  There seems to be some specific areas that are hotspots for Native ancestry where it appears that both of my parents passed Native ancestry to me.

Many of my and my mother’s 59 matches have Acadian ancestry which is not surprising as the Acadians intermarried heavily with the Native population as well as within their own ethnic group.

Several also have Miller Ancestry.  My Miller ancestor is Johann Michael Miller (1692-1771) who immigrated in the colonial period and settled on the Pennsylvania frontier.  His son, Philip Jacob Miller’s (1726-1799) wife was a woman named Magdalena whose last name has been rumored for years to be Rochette, but no trace of a Rochette family has ever been found in the county where they lived, region or Brethren church history…and it’s not for lack of looking.  Several matches point to Native Ancestry in this line.  This also begs the question of whether this is really Native or whether it is really the Asian heritage of the German people.  Further analysis, referring back to the admixture tools, suggests that this is actually Native. It’s also interesting that absolutely none of Mother’s other German or Dutch lines show this type of ancestry.

There is no suggestion of Native ancestry in any of her other lines.  Mother’s results are relatively clean.  Dad’s are anything but.

Dad’s Messy Matches

My father’s side of the family, however, is another story.

I have 233 matches that don’t also match my mother.  There can be some technical issues related to no-calls and such, but by and large, those would not represent many.  So we need to accept that most of my matches are from my Father’s side originating in colonial America.  This line is much “messier” than my mother’s, genealogically speaking.

Of those 233 matches, only 25 can be definitely assigned to my father.  By definitely assigned, I mean the people are my cousins or there is an absolutely solid genealogical match, not a distant match.  Why am I not counting distant matches in this total?  We all know by virtue of the AncestryDNA saga that just because we match family lines and DNA does NOT mean that the DNA match is the genealogical line we think it is.  If you would like to read all about this, please refer to the details in CeCe Moore’s blog where she discussed this phenomenon.  The relevant discussion begins just after the third photo in this article where she shows that 3 of 10 matches at Ancestry where they “identify” the common DNA ancestor are incorrect.  Of course, they never SAY that the common ancestor is the DNA match, but it’s surely inferred by the DNA match and the “leaf” connecting these 2 people to a common ancestor.  It’s only evident to someone who has tested at least one parent and is savvy enough to realize that the individual whose ancestor on Mom’s side that they have highlighted, isn’t a match to Mom too.  Oops.  Mega-oops!!!

However, because we are dealing in our project, on Dad’s side, with inferences, we’re treading on some of the same ground.  Also, because we are dealing with only “strong clustered” segments, not all Native or Asian segments and because it appears that my parents both have Native ancestry.  To make matters worse, they may both have Algonquian, Iroquoian or both.

I have also discovered during this process that several of my matches are actually related to both of my parents.  I told you this got complex.

Of the people who don’t match Mother, 32 of them have chromosomal matches only to my father, so those would be considered reliable matches, as would the closest ones of the 25 that can be identified genealogically as matching Dad.  Many of these 25 are cousins I specifically asked to test, and those people’s results have been indispensable in this process.

In fact, it’s through my close circle of cousins that we have been able to eliminate several lines as having Native ancestry, because it doesn’t’ show as strong and they don’t have it either.

Many of these lines group together when looking at a specific chromosome.  There is line after line and cousin after cousin with highlighted data.

Dad’s Native Ancestors

So what has this told me?  This information strongly suggests that the following lines on my father’s side carry Native heritage.  Note the word “carry.”  All we can say at this point is that it’s in the soup – and we can utilize current matches at our testing company and at GedMatch, genealogy research and future matches to further narrow the branches of the tree.  Many of these families are intermarried and I have tried to group them by marriage group.  Obviously, eventually, their descendants all intermarried because they are all my ancestors on my father’s side.  But multiple matches to other people who carry the Native markers but aren’t related to my other lines are what define these as lines carrying Native heritage someplace.

  • Campbell – Hawkins County, Tn around 1800, missing wife and parents, married into the Dodson family
  • Dodson – Hawkins County, Tn, Virginia – written record of Lazarus Dodson camping with the Cherokee – missing wife, married into the Campbell and Estes family
  • Claxton/Clarkson – Russell Co., Va, Claiborne and Hancock Co., Tn – In NC associated with the known Native Hatcher family.  Possibly a son-in-law.  Missing family entirely.
  • Cook – Russell Co., Va. – daughter married Claxton/Clarkson – missing wives
  • Harrold, Harrell, Herrell – Hancock Co., Tn., Wilkes Co., NC – missing wives
  • McDowell – Hancock Co. Tn, Wilkes Co., NC, Augusta Co., Va – married into the Harrell family, missing wife
  • McNeil, McNiel – Wilkes Co., NC – missing wives, married into the Vannoy family
  • Vannoy – Wilkes County – some wives unaccounted for pre-1800
  • Crumley – Greene County, Tn., Lee Co., Va. – oral history of Native wife, married into the Vannoy family
  • Brown – Greene County, Tn, Montgomery Co., Va – married into the Crumley family, missing wives

While this looks like a long list, the list of families that don’t have any Native ancestry represented is much longer and effectively serves to eliminate all of those lines.  While I don’t have “THE” answer, I certainly know where to focus my research.  Maybe there isn’t the one answer.  Maybe there are multiple answers, in multiple lines.

The Take Away

Is this complex?  Yes!  Is it a lot of work?  You bet it is!  Is everything cast in concrete?  Never!  You can see that by the differences we’ve found in data interpretation, not to mention issues like no-calls (areas that for some reason in the test don’t read) and cross overs where your inheritance switches from your mom’s side to your dad’s side.  Is there any other way to do this?  No, not if your minority admixture is down in that weedy area around 1%.

Is it worth it?  You’ll have to decide.  It guess it depends on how desperately you want to know.

Part of the reason this is difficult is because we are missing tools in critical locations.  It’s an intensively laborious manual process.  In essence, using various tools, one has to figure out the locations of the Native and Asian chromosome segments and then use that information to infer Native matches by a double match (genetic match at DNA company plus match with Strong Native/Blended Asian segment) with the right parent.  It becomes even more complex if neither parent is available for testing, but it is doable although I would think the reliability could drop dramatically.

Tidbits and Trivia

I’ve picked up a number of little interesting tidbits during this process.  These may or may not be helpful to you.  Just kind of file them away until needed:)

  • Matches at testing companies come and go….and sometimes just go.  At Family Tree DNA, I have some matches that must be trembling on the threshold that come and go periodically.  Now you see them, now you don’t.  I lost matches moving from the Affy chip to the Illumina chip and lost additional matches between Build 36 and 37.  Some reappeared, some haven’t.
  • The start and stop boundaries changed for some matches between build 36 and build 37.  I did not go back and readjust, as most of these, in the larger scheme of things, were minor.  Just understand that you are looking for  patterns here that indicate Native heritage, not exact measurements.  This process is a tool, and unfortunately, not a magic wand:)
  • The centromere locations change between builds.  If you have matches near or crossing the middle of the chromosome, called the centromere, there may be breaks in that region.  I enter the centromere start and stop locations in my spreadsheet so that if I notice something odd going on in that region, the centromere addresses are right there to alert me that I’m dealing with that “odd” region.  You can find the centromere addresses in the FAQ at Family Tree DNA for their current build.
  • At 23andMe, when you reach the magic 1000 matches threshold, you start losing matches and the matching criteria is elevated so that you can stay under 1000 matches.  For people with colonial American or Jewish heritage, in other words those with high numbers of matches, this is a problem.
  • Watch for matches that are related to both sides of your family.  If your family lived in colonial America, you’re going to have a lot of matches and many are probably related to each other in ways you aren’t aware of.
  • If your parents are related to each other, this process might simply be too complex and intertwined to provide enough granular data to be useful.
  • Endogamous groups are impossible to sort through as to where, meaning which ancestor, the DNA came from.  This is because the original group founders’ DNA is just getting passed around and around, with little or no new DNA being introduced.  The effect of this on downstream generations relative to genetic genealogy is that matches appear to be more closely related than they are because of the amount of matching DNA they carry.  For my Brethren and my Acadian groups of people, I just list them by the group name, since, as the saying goes, “if you’re related to one Acadian, you’re related to all Acadians.”
  • If you’re going to follow this procedure, save one spreadsheet copy with the Strong Native only and then a second one with both the Strong Native and Blended Asian.  I’m undecided truthfully whether the Mixed Asian adds enough resolution for the extra work it generates.
  • When in question, refer back to the original tools.  The answer will always be found there.
  • Unfortunately, tools change.  You may want to take screen shots.  During this process, FTDNA went from build 36 to 37, match thresholds changed, 23andMe introduced a new user interface (which I find much less intuitive) and GedMatch has made significant changes.  The net-net of this is when you decide to undertake this project, commit to it and do it, start to finish.  Doing this little by little makes you vulnerable to changes that may make your data incompatible midstream – and you may not even realize it.
  • This entire process is intensively manual.  My spreadsheet is over 5500 rows long.  I won’t be doing it again…although I will update my spreadsheet with new matches from time to time.  The hard work is already done.
  • This same technique applies to any minority ancestry, not just Native, although that’s what I’ve been hunting for and one of the most common inquiries I receive.
  • I am hopeful that in the not too distant future many of these steps and processes will be automated by the group of bright developers that contribute to GedMatch or via other tools like DNAGedcom. HINT – HINT!!!

I would like to follow this same process to identify the source of my African heritage, but I’m thinking I’ll wait for the tools to become automated.  The great irony is that it’s very likely in the same lines as my Native ancestors.

If You Want to Test

What does it take to do this for yourself using the tools we have today, as discussed?

If your parents are living, the best gift you can give yourself is to test them, now, while you still can.  My mother has been gone for several years, but her DNA archived at Family Tree DNA was still viable.  This is not always the case.  I was fortunate.  Her DNA is one of the best gifts she gave me.  Not just by inheritance, but by having hers tested.  I thank her every single day, for both!  I could not have written this article without her DNA results.  The gift that keeps on giving.

If you don’t have a parent to test, you can test several other family members who will provide some information, but clearly won’t carry the same amounts of common DNA with you as your parents.  These would include your aunts and uncles, your parents’ siblings and what I’ve referred to as your close cousin circle.  Attempt to test at least someone from each line.  Yes, it gets expensive, but as one of my cousins said, as she took her third or 4th DNA test.  “It’s only money.  This is about family.”

You can also test your own siblings as well to obtain more information that you can use to match up to your family lines. Remember, you only receive half of your parents DNA, and your siblings will received some DNA from your parents that you didn’t.

I don’t have any other siblings to test, but I have tested cousins from several lines which have proven invaluable when trying to discern the sources of certain segments. For example, one of these Native segments fell on a common segment with my cousin Joy.  Therefore, I know it’s from the Campbell line, and because I have the Campbell paternal Y-DNA which is European, I know immediately the Native admixture would have had to be from a wife.

Much of this puzzle is deductive, but we now have the tools, albeit manual, to do this type of work that was previously impossible.  I am somewhat disappointed that I can’t pinpoint the exact family lines, yet, but hopefully as more people test and more matches provide genealogical information, this will improve.

If you want to play in this arena, you need to test at either Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, or both.  Right now, the most cost effective way to achieve this is to purchase a $99 kit from 23andMe, test there, then download your results from 23andMe and upload them to Family Tree DNA for $99.  That way, you are fishing in both pools.  Be aware that less than half of the people who test at either company download results to GedMatch, so your primary match locations are with the testing companies.  GedMatch is auxiliary, but critical for this analysis.  And the newest tool, DNAGedcom is a Godsend.

Also note that transferring your result to Family Tree DNA is NOT the same thing as actually testing there.  Why does this matter?  If you want a future test at Family Tree DNA, who is the premiere genetic genealogy testing company, offering the most variety and “deepest” commercial tests, they archive your DNA for 25 years, but if you transfer results, they don’t have your DNA to archive, so no future products can be ordered.  All I can say is thank Heavens Mom’s DNA was there.

Ancestry.com doesn’t provide any tools such as the chromosome browser or even the basic information of matching segments.  All you get is a little leaf that says you’re related, but the questions of which segment or how are not answerable today at Ancestry and as CeCe’s experience proved, its unreliable.  It’s  possible that you share the same surnames and ancestor, but your genetic connection is not through that family line.  Without tools, there is no way to tell.  Ancestry released raw data files a few weeks ago and very recently, GedMatch has implemented the ability to upload them so that Ancestry participants can now utilize the additional tools at GedMatch.

Although this has been an extraordinarily long and detailed process, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have developed this new technique to add to my toolbox.  My Native and African ancestors have been most elusive.  There are no records, they didn’t write and probably didn’t even speak English, certainly not initially.  The only clues to their existence, prior to DNA, were scant references and family lore.  The only prayer of actually identifying them is though these small segments of our DNA – yep – down in the weeds.  Are there false starts perhaps, and challenges and maybe a few snakes down there?  Yes, for sure, but so is the DNA of your ancestors.

Happy gardening and rooting around in the weeds.  Just think of it as searching for the very best buried treasure!  It’s down there, just waiting to be found.  Keep digging!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and that it leads you to your own personal genealogical treasure trove!

treasure chest

The Orphan Train and the Mystery of William Jennings Duckett

Duckett

When I give genetic genealogy presentations, I always talk about the causes of NPEs (Nonparental Events) or what I prefer to call, undocumented adoptions.  This means that the DNA doesn’t match the expected family line.  In the case of 20th century documented adoptions, this is obviously true as well, but before the 1900s and sometimes into the early 1900s, adoptions were much less formal.  In fact, sometimes they never officially took place, but the surname got attached anyway.

And then, there were the orphan trains, originating in the East, loaded with orphans, and stopping along the route westward, with the orphans being adopted to families along the way who needed additional children to help with farm work.

All of these things happened to William Jennings Duckett, shown at age 11 in the photo, just before heading west on the orphan train.  William, known as “Papa D” to his family, has a daughter, Virginia, now age 91, who would very much like to know the rest of the story about her father and his parents.  It’s a very interesting mystery, a puzzle really, and maybe you hold the missing piece.  Here is what we know.

According to the baptismal certificate provided by the Foundling Home in New York City, William Jennings Duckett was born on October 28th, 1894 and was baptized one month and one day later, November 29th at the St. Vincent Ferrer’s Catholic Church in New York City.

Duckett baptism

On November 28th, 1894, he came under the care of the Foundling Hospital in New York City, a place for abandoned or orphaned children, under the name William Erington, later spelled Errington.  In later communications, the home says that he was a “true foundling.”  If this is the case, then how did the home know his birth date?  And how was he baptized under the name William Jennings Duckett, or did the home simply use the name from his request for information in 1918, omitting his earlier “assigned” last name.  And how was Errington selected in the first place?  The baptismal certificate was sent to William in a response to a letter written by him to the Foundling Home in 1918, probably in order to prove his age for military draft registration.

In 1897, Richard and Mary F. Duckett of Orange, Essex County, New Jersey “fostered” William.  His release papers from the Foundling Home to them state his name as William Errington.  Two years later, in 1899, he was returned to the home, but Mary Duckett insisted that he retain the name William Jennings Duckett, even though he had never been adopted.  He was then placed with another foster family before leaving on the orphan train, but retained the Duckett name for the rest of his life.

In 1905, at about age 11, when the photo above was taken, he was put on the Orphan Train, ultimately winding up in Texas.  Whoever his parents were, he came from some healthy stock, as he lived until age 99 years and 9 months.  At his funeral, the following was read, as told in the first person by Papa D himself.

“The only early memories I have of my time in New York are of going to classes through the 3rd grade, and serving as an altar boy.  I faintly remember a Mr. Kelly, who came to the home frequently with gifts and food.

In June of 1905, I was sent to Texas on a train with 65 other children and two nuns.

The children sat two in a row, and I held an infant girl, Kristina, on my lap most of the way.  The Railroad car would be left off at sidings . Some of the children were dispersed to Galveston.  Kristina and I were let off at the Glidden depot near Columbus, Texas.  She was adopted by the Anton Holeszewski family of Fayetteville; and I was placed in their foster care. They couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Czech, so we had trouble communicating, especially the next morning, when they handed me a pail and told me to go milk the cow before breakfast.  I’d never seen a cow in New York.  Most of my recollections of my time with this family are of working very hard and spending hours serving as an altar boy. The family was devoutly Catholic and weekly sent packages of their most delicious farm foods to the priest.

When serving as an altar boy on special occasions, weddings, funerals, etc., the priest would share his fees with me, 5 to 15 cents, and tell me to buy some ice cream. My foster parents would take this away, as they believed I “didn’t need” any treats.

After some eight years, the priest at the Live Oak Hill Catholic Church in the area of Fayetteville and Ellinger, Texas bought me a new suit of clothes, gave me a prayer book and a gold watch and chain, on which was inscribed, ” To W. J.  Duckett – God give you strength,” and a railroad ticket to Galveston where I was to attend seminary and study for the priesthood.  I traded the railroad ticket for a wagon ride to Elgin, in the other direction, where I spent the first night under a railroad trestle.

My first job was as a water boy for the M&M Railroad which was building a bridge near Smithville, Tx., where I was allowed to sleep in a box car.  When summer came, I found a job at the cotton gin in Taylor, TX. With the few dollars I was able to save, I returned to the Fayetteville-Ellinger area, where I hired out as a farm hand and worked at the Walla gin. Life became enjoyable for a change.  I played 3rd base on the LaGrange baseball team for which I would receive approximately $2.00 per game, depending on the crowd.

The Hruska brothers were my teammates, and I was fortunate to meet their wonderful sister, Anna Marie, whom I married on Nov 23, 1915 in the Czech Moravian Brethren Church near Fayetteville, which church still stands and serves to-day.”

Duckett wedding

“Anna’s brother Henry made his home with us.  From this area we moved to Notowa, TX., and then in the fall of 1923, to a farm in the Bernard Prairie Community between East Bernard and Wallis, and in 1948 to the farm near El Campo where our two sons were attorneys.”

Duckett house

“We had five children, 2 boys and 3 girls.  While living in Notawa, our first son was bitten by a Cottonmouth Moccasin snake and I carried him by horseback a distance of fifteen miles, chucking up and delirious with fever, to the doctor in Wallis, TX.  Miraculously, he survived.

We became reunited with Kristina (Shoppa) and also with the son of my foster family, both living in Wharton, TX.  To this day we are in contact with the son’s remaining daughter, who came to visit me on my 99th birthday on October 28th of this year.

So as not to be totally dependent on the whims of nature and a cotton crop, I secured a job in the general store in East Bernard, joined the local S.P.J.S.T., group and then the Masonic Lodge.  I received The Masonic 75 year Service pin, and the S.P.J.S.T. honored me on my 96h birthday.

Once we were able to buy a car we took daylong journeys to visit friends and relatives in various parts of south and central Texas.  One summer Sunday morning we took off for Galveston with promises of hamburgers and the beach.  We got too hungry before we made it to Galveston, so we stopped at a roadside café and ordered hamburgers.  We waited and WAITED, and then we heard a shot.  I said, ‘Well… They’ve shot he cow-it won’t be much longer now.’  All forgot their hunger pangs and laughed.  This was a funny family story for years.

Our children were all bright and beautiful respectful and obedient.

Educating our 5 children was the top priority of my wife Anne and I because we wanted something better for them than farming…so we pinched pennies and scraped so that they could participate in all school activities and outings.  They rewarded us by making top grades, and all worked to earn their way through college, of which we are all proud.

One  son, a graduate of Law School at The University of Texas in Austin, paid his way by also working every week day pushing an old fashioned lawn mower on the huge lawn in front of the State Capitol building in Austin,Tx…then at night he spent the night in a funeral home answering the phone…where he was allowed to study between calls…plus other jobs.”

My only medication I’m on daily is two tablespoons of good bourbon in my coffee every morning, it gets my circulation going.

When my daughter asked me what I wanted for my 99th birthday, I replied, “ JUST WHAT I HAVE.”

The report about the orphan trains, including Papa D’s story, can be found in the book, “Their Own Stories” by The Orphan Train Riders Historical Society in Arkansas (OTHSA).  It’s available through the Train Riders Museum and Research Center in Concordia, KS., (785) 243-4471.

We know what happened to Papa D after 1905, but the time from 1894 to about 1900 is murky at best.  What clues do we have as to who his parents might have been?

DNA Testing

The first avenue we tried, was, of course, DNA testing through Papa D’s son.  The good news, Papa D’s Y chromosome is quite unusual, so when a solid match is received there will be no question.  The bad news is that there is no solid match today.  There are a couple of 12 marker matches who did not test at a higher level, and none of his 5 total matches have taken the Family Finder match.

We’ve also checked at Ancestry where we found 3 of 4 matches were hand entered from Family Tree DNA.  Sorenson has been offline lately, so that resource can’t be checked at present.

It goes without saying that he matches no other Ducketts, nor did we expect that he would.  You can see his results in the Duckett project, kit number 262691, or at Ysearch, User ID 69C3G.  Papa D has established a new Duckett genetic line.

However, the circumstances surrounding Richard and Mary Duckett make me wonder if they were related to William.  Were they his grandparents perhaps?  Why did they take him, not once, but twice?  Why did they return him?  Why was Mary insistent that he retain the Duckett name?  And is his middle name, Jennings, significant.  Is it perhaps a family name?  So many questions and so few answers.

Family Finder testing showed no people with Duckett surnames, but then again, Duckett is a very rare surname.  It did show two people with Jennings surnames in Ireland, but this could be coincidence only.  His closest match is at the 2nd to 4th cousins level, estimated to be a third cousin.  This means in essence, he is 4 generations from his match to a common ancestor.  That person has a lot of Bohemian/Czech in their 4th generation pedigree chart, which they have uploaded to Family Tree DNA.  Papa D’s wife was Czech.

Clues – The Baptismal Record and the Duckett Family

We have two viable clues.

  1. The first clue is the baptism record.  I suspect that when the Foundling Home provided this to William Duckett in 1918, they simply entered his name as it was in 1918.  This means that the original records, at the church, would not be under the name of William Duckett, but William Errington, or perhaps his real name if there was some kind of note with him providing at least his birth date.  The records of St. Vincent Ferrer’s Catholic Church need to be checked for the actual church record of his baptism.
  2. The Richard and Mary Duckett family.  Preliminary research on the Duckett family shows the following information.

The Duckett Family

In the 1900 census, there is a Mary F. Duckett who is living with her adult son in his household along with her 2 adult daughters, ages 26 and 29, in South Orange, Essex Co., NJ.

Mary is a widow, born in 1843, of Irish parents, but born in New York.  She has had 7 children, and only 4 are living.  Her daughters are Frances and Nelly, ages 29 and 26, both hat trimmers.  Her son is a gardener.  This would account for 3 of her 4 children.  The Irish are most often Catholic, and if Mary was of Irish parents, she most likely was Catholic.  They lived at 309 Scotland Street.  If Papa D is the son of one of the Duckett daughters, Frances and Nelly are the best candidates.

duckett 1900 census

Mary is listed as widowed, but there is a Richard who is living in a home for disabled veterans in Hudson Co., NJ.  He is born in April of 1830, age 70, married for 30 years, immigrated in 1847 and is naturalized.

Unfortunately, the 1890 census is missing, but the 1880 census should show this family.

Indeed, in the 1880 census, we have Richard Duckett, age 50, so born 1830 in Ireland and a hat maker.  His wife Mary is age 40, so born about 1840 in New York to Irish parents.  They have daugher Fanny, age 19, a hat trimmer, daughter Ellen age 9 and Samuel, age 6.  They live at 276 Teanount(?) Avenue in Orange, Essex Co., NY.

I was not able to find either Richard or Mary Duckett in the 1870, 1860 or 1850 census.

There was a Richard Duckett who filed for a Civil War Pension in 1889 from New Jersey.  A military headstone was provided for Richard Duckett in Springhill Cemetery in Milburn in November of 1901.  This is in Essex County.  He died November 7, 1901 although I cannot find him through Find-A-Grave.

Looking at other records, we find:

Mrs. Richard Duckett of New Jersey contributed in 1861 to a St. Mary’s Hall scholarship and contributions are listed as from “graduates and former pupils.”  Unfortunately, this is probably not the “right” Mary as St. Mary’s Hall, located in Burlington, NJ, was a private Episcopal School, not Catholic.  It is now the Doane School.

In 1883, Mary Duckett of Orange is listed as a laundress in the city directory.

In 1891, in Orange, East Orange and West Orange, NJ, Richard, Ellen G. and Lesher Ducket are listed as “hat” (Richard) and hat trimmers.  The address is 40 Forest.  Who is Lesher Duckett?  Is this Sarah Lesher from the 1895 census?

The same year in the business directory, Richard P. Duckett is listed as a hatter at “Main op Spring.”  Op probably means opposite.  In 1893 he is listed exactly the same.

In 1893 in the city directory, Mary F. Duckett is listed at 478 Scotland.

In 1894, there is also a Mary P. Duckett in Camden who is a dressmaker who is listed for many years.  This is not Mary F. Duckett of Orange.

In 1895 Richard P. Duckett is listed as “hat” on Church.  Mrs. Mary F. Duckett is listed at 478 Scotland.  One may be a business address and one personal, or they may be separated or divorced.

On the 1895 NJ State census, the family is listed as Mary F. Duckett, Sarah Lesher, Ellen G. Duckett, Samuel Duckett and William Williams.  William Williams is under age 5.  The adults are all listed age 20-60.  Who is William Williams and how is he connected to this family?  Who is Sarah Lesher and how is she connected to the family?

In 1898 and 1899 Richard H. D. (or Richard H. D. S.) Duckett is listed on S. Passaic Av in Newark, NJ.  In 1901 Richard HDS Duckett is listed on Belgrove Drive.  He is noted for many more years, so this Richard is not the Richard Duckett of Orange.

However, Richard Duckett is listed in the 1901 and 1902 Orange directory as “hat” on Scotland Road and N Irving Ave.  It could be he has died but his business is still in existance?

So we know that Richard and Mary have either 3 or 4 daughters and one son.  In 1900, two of the adult daughters remain unmarried.

In summary, the children are:

  • Fanny b 1861 (from the 1880 census)
  • Ellen b 1871 (from the 1880  and 1895 census)
  • Frances b 1870 (from the 1900 census, possibly the same person as Ellen in the 1880 census?)
  • Nelly b 1874 (from 1880 census and the 1900 census)
  • Samuel b 1875 (from the 1800, 1895 and 1900 census)

Mary had 2 more children who died, and there is a 10 year gap between daughters Fanny, born 1861 and Ellen, born 1871.

Solving the Puzzle

I made the following suggestions to the Duckett family:

  1. Obtain the original records from the church reflected in the baptismal certificate provided by the Foundling Home, dated November 29, 1894, from the St. Vincent Ferrer’s Catholic Church of New York.  This baptism occurred the day after he was “found” and admitted to  the Foundling Hospital.  He could  have been baptized as William Errington, or perhaps another name.  See if there is any note as to how they knew his birth date.
  2. Contact the school that Mrs. Richard Duckett attended prior to 1861 and see if you her maiden name can be determined.  With other records, this could either  confirm that she is not the wife of Richard.  I strongly suspect not, given that this is an Episcopal school and your Mary was later a laundress, not appearing to be from a wealthy family who could afford for their daughter to attend  a private school.  Also, Mary Duckett in the 1897 transaction with the Foundling Home signed her name and it appears from the signature that she struggled to do so.   I strongly suspect this woman in the 1861 record is NOT the Mary Duckett you seek, so this would be a low priority.
  3. See if you can locate a marriage record for Richard and Mary Duckett about 1860, probably in Essex County, NJ.  Once Mary’s maiden name is determined, check Family Finder matches for other people researching that surname.
  4. Track the children of this couple forward in time to find a current living descendant and see if they will DNA test.  The autosomal DNA would be the only one to test unless by some chance you find a male descendant of  Samuel Duckett and in that case, I would test both the Yline and autosomal.  I do not expect the Yline to match.  If William Jennings is from this family, he is likely the son of one of the daughters.
  5. Obtain the death certificate of Richard Duckett.  You may need to order his military records in order to determine his death date in order to order the death certificate.  If  this is the right family, his death certificate, as well as that of his      wife Mary, will hold their parents names which may allow you to find siblings      which can also be tracked forward in time.
  6. Check to see if Richard Duckett had a will.  If so, his children will be named and possibly his grandchildren as well. The same goes for Mary.
  7. I suspect that William’s middle name, Jennings, may be a key to this puzzle.  I looked for Jennings/Duckett marriages and found none that seemed to be relevant.  This could be Mary’s maiden name or perhaps that of her mother.
  8. Finding an obituary or other information, perhaps through a funeral home, that will lead you to a  church may well be the key to finding an original baptism of William Jennings Duckett, which could contain his father’s name.  The baptism performed at the Foundling Home could have been a second baptism, if they didn’t know about a first one.
  9. I would suggest that you search the St. John Catholic church records in Orange for William Jennings Duckett’s baptism.  If he was born to a Duckett female, and they had him for a month before giving him up, it’s very likely he was baptized sometime after October 29th, 1894 and before November 29th, 1894.  I would suggest looking at all baptisms that took place during that time, especially any to Duckett, Lesher or Williams women.

On the map below, the Catholic churches in the area of Orange, Essex County, NJ, where the Ducketts lived are shown with purple balloons and the location where the Duckett’s lived on Scotland is shown in red.  They are very close to Our Lady of the Valley, but the original St. John’s isn’t far either, at the top of the map.  There is also a cemetery by St. John’s church which suggests it was likely the original Catholic church in the area, although there are no Ducketts listed as buried there at Find-A-Grave.  The history of St. Johns indicates that the priests there were Irish, which makes this church an extremely good candidate for the Ducket family.

Duckett map

Can You Help?

Anyone who is familiar with the Richard and Mary Duckett family of Orange, Essex County, NJ, or has other observations, information or suggestions to offer can contact Walter Belt, the husband of Virginia, Papa D’s daughter, at webjr@suddenlink.net.

The Gift of a Davenport

I work with adoptees a lot.  They often order Personalized DNA Reports with the hope of finding some hint of their family.  Women have a distinct disadvantage – they have no Y chromosome.  About 30% of the time by looking at the Y chromosome, I can figure out the most likely genetic surname for men – and sometimes there is absolutely no question.  But women aren’t so lucky.

When adoptees order these reports, I suggest, strongly, that they also have the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA performed.  This gives me two tools to work with, and they can be used together.

Recently, I completed a report for Caroline.  Here’s the sum knowledge of what she knew about her biological family.  She was born in Flagstaff, Arizona to a mother who was a college student.  That’s it.  Let’s just say there was a lot of opportunity for DNA to help Caroline.  Caroline said to me, “I don’t know the names of any of my blood relatives.”  Well Caroline, we’re about to fix that!!!

And indeed, she does now, through the magic of DNA and a little sleuthing.  Caroline, it turns out, is one of the lucky ones – she had a good match and that match has led us to well, a Davenport…and more.

                      Davenport

No, not this kind of Davenport – well – maybe not – but the Davenport family.  Maybe it’s the same Davenport family, because although the word davenport is generic like “Kleenex” today, it all started with the Davenport family, a Massachusetts furniture manufacturer, the A. H. Davenport Company.  Hmmm….I wonder.

Using Family Finder, Carolina had a solid second cousin match.  She contacted this person, we’ll call him Mr. Midkiff, who provided some initial information, but the 4 surnames Mr. Midkiff listed as Ancestral Surnames proved to be much more useful than the information provided to Caroline.

Often, it’s a good idea to list as many surnames as you possibly can, but in this case, Mr. Midkiff only listed 4 plus his own, for a total of 5 to work with, so I’m betting here that they are Mr. Midkiff’s closest surnames, meaning the grandparents generation plus one great-grandparent surname.

With that, I used the handy-dandy genetic relationship chart to show Caroline how this works.  One of the reasons I love this chart is because it’s all related to “self,” so you don’t have to try to figure out where and how you fit into the chart.

adopted cheat chart

If Mr. Midkiff is her second cousin, and she is “self” then we can see that self and the second cousin connect via great-grandparents. Mr. Midkiff’s great-grandparents would have the following surnames, plus three additional.

  • Midkiff
  • Davenport
  • Jennings
  • Potter
  • Veach
  • 3 additional unknown

These are the surnames of Mr. Midkiff’s ancestors and it’s all we have to work with since we don’t know the surnames of Caroline’s ancestors.

Using the chart and retrofitting surnames, we know that of Mr. Midkiff’s 5 surnames, 2 or 3 come from his mother’s side and 2 or 3 from his father’s side.  We know genetically that Caroline is related closely to at least one of those 5 lines, and possibly to more than one, meaning 2 or 3, depending on how closely she and Mr. Midkiff are actually related.

Next, we need to figure out which of those 5 surnames Caroline is related to.

Caroline only had one close match, but she had 960 total matches.  In order to be able to sort through those matches, I entered the 5 surnames listed by Mr. Midkiff as Caroline’s surnames.  This allowed me to then search for these ancestral surnames and to see them bolded in Caroline’s match list.

davenport 1

Because of different surname spellings, instead of simply relying on the search, I went through page by page and looked at each bolded surname.  I discovered that this was a very good move, because the Davenport family was spelled any number of ways, like Diefenback, Dieffenback, etc.  The Ancestral Surname search does not pick up alternate spellings, but the bolded surnames in the lists sometimes do.

A total of 13 people matched one or more of these surnames.

Her matches sort out like this:

  • Midkiff – 1
  • Jennings – 5
  • Davenport – 3
  • Potter – 4
  • Veach – 1 Vaux

I grouped people into categories by their surnames and then began using the Chromosome Browser to compare people to Caroline.

Normally, I could compare all 13 people in 3 comparisons (the browser allows 5 selections per comparison), download them, and then use a spreadsheet to sort by chromosome matches, but the downloads have been experiencing technical difficulties recently, so instead, I simply compared randomly and then by surname group.

One of the great options in the Chromosome Browser is the option for “common surnames” which then displayed all of 13 of her common surname matches and no non-matches.  So I, thankfully, did not have to sort through 960 people to find the 13 she matches for comparison.

Below, with the chromosome browser set to 1cM, you can see her matches to the Davenport group, plus a Fry who lists Potter as her ancestral surname but also matches the Davenport group.

davenport 2

What we are looking for here are people who match Caroline on the exact same chromosome segments and match each other as well.  This allows us to identify that segment with that surname.  In this case, chromosome 12 fits that bill exactly.

Davenport 2 ch 12

So Caroline, welcome to the Davenport family!!!

However, since Ms. Fry does not list Davenport, but does list Potter, let’s take a look at that Potter group.

davenport 3

Now, this gets very interesting, because look at that same segment of Chromosome 12 – in addition to  the Davenport folks, it also matches a Pinson who lists both Jennings and Potter in their list of ancestral surnames.  So the Davenport DNA is also Potter DNA.  Welcome to the Potter family Caroline!

Davenport 3 ch 12

So, let’s take a look at the Jennings folks.

davenport 4

Again, let’s look at Chromosome 12 and indeed, 4 of the 5 people who carry the Jennings surname also match Caroline on that same segment of Chromosome 12.

Davenport ch 12

What does this tell us?  Well, it tells us that this chromosome is inherited from the same ancestor.  What I can’t tell Caroline is which ancestor.  What we can say is that all three of these surnames, and all of these individuals share that ancestor and the chromosome is inherited through the Jennings, Davenport and Potter families in a particular family line – in Caroline’s family line and also in Mr. Midkiff’s.  Now it will be up to genealogy, and contacting these matches and asking for their Davenport/Potter/Jennings ancestry, to disclose just how these people’s ancestors are related.

Oh yes, and before I forget, welcome to the Jennings family Caroline!

So, here’s what I’m guessing.  Caroline has in essence no matches to Midkiff (other than the initial match to Mr. Midkiff) or Veach.  However, both Caroline and Mr. Midkiff have several matches, including the same segment of chromosome 12, to Jennings, Davenport and Potter.  I’m guessing that this is Mr. Midkiff’s mother’s side of the family and that if Caroline were to contact all of these people, she would, by process of elimination, discover commonalities in their pedigree charts and genealogy.  Then, by working forwards from what she finds, she can, again, by process of elimination, hopefully, find a line of the family that went to Arizona and candidates for one of her parents.

Maybe one of you holds the answer to Caroline’s quandry.  Does anyone know of a family with some history in Texas and in Arizona that carries the surnames Jennings, Davenport and Potter and perhaps married in to the Veach or Midkiff family?  If so, you can perhaps put some color into Caroline’s mysterious Davenport family.  Contact Caroline directly at cbfernandez@gmail.com. She would love to hear from you.

Davenport 5

Caveat:  Please note that this level of autosomal research is not normally included in a Personalized DNA report which focuses on either the Y-line or the Mitochondrial DNA lines.  Some research is included and was included for Caroline, identifying the Davenport common line.  The balance of this research was performed for the blog posting, with Caroline’s permission of course.  This type of autosomal research is available through www.dnaexplain.com at an hourly rate.  Everyone’s situation is unique and varies, and it is impossible to create a standard report product for autosomal situations.  Generally, a good approach is to start with a Y-line or mitochondrial DNA report and move forward from there.  You can see what it did for Caroline!

Picture This

Margaret Herrell, what did you look like?

Margaret died in 1892, but we don’t have a photo of her nor of her second husband Joseph Preston Bolton who died in 1887.  Her son, my great-grandfather, Joseph “Dode” Bolton died in 1920 and we don’t have a picture of him either, or his wife, Margaret Claxton/Clarkson who died just days later in the flu epidemic.  The closest I can get is this photo of Margaret Herrell’s daughter.

Smith-Martin

Pleasant Smith and Surelda Martin (1836-1890) – daughter of my ancestor Margaret Herrell with her first husband, Anson Cook Martin – Hancock County, Tennessee.

Today, there was an article in “abroad in the yard” by Lee Rimmer that discussed an academic paper published in PLOS Genetics this week by Liu et al titled “A Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies 5 Loci Influencing Facial Morphology in Europeans.”

We all know that facial characteristics are genetic.  Identical twins look more alike that fraternal twins, and fraternal twins look more alike that cousins or half-siblings.  But exactly which genes contribute to that structural composition of faces is unknown, or has been until now.  This recent paper identifies 5 genes that influence to some extent the morphology of the face by identifying specific facial landmarks and the genes that influence them.  Researchers expect to find hundreds or thousands more, but many of these may play small roles.

Already people are talking about forensic applications where from a drop of blood, a hair, spit or other body fluids or tissues, one could sequence the DNA, then create a 3D profile or image of the perpetrator of the crime.  Indeed, that is the holy grail of forensic genetics.

And yes, it’s a long way in the future.  However, the very definition of “long way” is certainly open to debate.  We’ve covered genetic ground in the past decade alone that we never thought possible.

This (future) application has other possibilities for genealogists.  We already know how to phase data, to attribute it to one parent or the other.  Using those and other comparative and triangulation tools, we also know how to determine genetic sequences that we share inherited from specific ancestors.  In fact, once that genetic segment is identified as inherited from a particular ancestral line, might it be possible in the future to indeed, reassemble enough of the DNA of that ancestor (by knowing the genes involved and the descendants who carry those genes today) to create an image of that long dead ancestor?

Maybe one day, not terribly far in the future, we’ll be able to submit a list of segments of DNA to a special processing “studio” online, that will in return provide us with what our ancestor looked like, long before the advent of cameras when only the images of royalty were preserved.  And maybe, just maybe, if you tell them the place and time your ancestor was born, and his or her occupation, if you know, you’ll also receive the “photo” of your ancestor dressed in period clothes and hairstyle.

And while it might not be exact, just like this “cleaned up” photo isn’t exact from an  original, shown below, it’s most assuredly better than nothing – and in that image we can certainly see something very similar to our ancestor – and in them we can see ourselves.

Smith-Martin orig

Let’s hope that this big genealogical dream of what today seems impossible happens in our lifetime so that we can complete our family tree by recreating images of ancestors from long ago.  Indeed, how much closer could one feel to an ancestor than to have their image resurrected by the DNA, their DNA, carried by their descendants. And what an incredible crowdsourcing project – it may take a virtual genealogical village.

No (DNA) Bullying

No Bullying

There are hardly any hobbies that hold more passion than genealogy.  Once hooked by the bug, most people never retire and one of the things they worry about passing down to their family are their genealogy records – even if the family of today isn’t terribly interested.

So it’s easy to understand the degree of passion and enthusiasm, but sometimes this passion can kind of go astray and it crosses the line from something positive to something not nearly so nice.

Genetic genealogy is the latest tool in the genealogists’ arsenal, but it introduces some new challenges and unfortunately, with the increased number of people testing, we’re seeing some examples of what I consider bullying – for DNA, for identification and for information.

Bullying is unwelcome aggressive behavior that involves repeated threats, physical or electronic contact or a real or perceived imbalance of power.  Generally, the victim feels they can’t make it stop.  This has become especially prevalent in the cyber age.  And bullying is not just about kids.

I’m going to look at 3 types of situations.  It’s easy to see both perspectives, but bullying by any other name is still bullying, even though the bully probably doesn’t see it that way.  Guaranteed, the recipient does.

You’ve Got the DNA I Need

Let’s say that Aunt Gladys is the last person alive in a particular line who can provide DNA to represent that line.  But Aunt Gladys, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to test.  It’s fine to discuss this, to talk about her concerns, and perhaps you can find a solution to address them, like testing anonymously.

But let’s say that Aunt Gladys simply says “no,” end of story.  What then?

Yes, Aunt Gladys carries the information that you need, but it’s HER DNA that needs to be tested, and if she says no, then her decision should be respected, as difficult as it may be and as unreasonable as it may seem.  Maybe Aunt Gladys knows something you don’t – like she is adopted or some other secret that she does not wish to reveal.  Badgering Aunt Gladys from this point forward is going to do nothing other than cause hard feelings and make Aunt Gladys want to avoid you.

You may think you’re “just discussing” but from her perspective, you may be bullying.  Now, it’s OK to beg and cry once, but if you’re slipped into the realm of “if you don’t test, I’ll tell Uncle Harvey that you scratched his car back in 1953,” you’ve stepped over that line.

Won’t Answer E-Mails

I can’t tell you how often I hear this story.  “I match with person XYZ and they won’t share their information.”  Most of the time, they won’t answer e-mails.  And the question follows, of course, as to why they tested in the first place.

These tests have been around for a number of years now.  Many people have died or moved or the purpose of the test was fulfilled and they aren’t interested beyond that.  Think of your Aunt Gladys.  If you did convince her to test, it wouldn’t be for her, but for you and she certainly would not be interested in answering random e-mails.

There could be a number of reasons, depending on the testing company used, that someone might not answer.  In particular, many people test at 23andMe for health reasons.  It doesn’t matter to them if you’re a first cousin or any other relation, they simply aren’t interested or don’t have the answers for you.

It’s alright to send 2 or 3 e-mails to someone.  E-mails do get lost sometimes.  But beyond that, you’ve put yourself into the nuisance category.  But you can be even worse than a nuisance.

I know of one case where someone googled the e-mail of their contact, discovered the person was a doctor, and called them at the office.  That is over the line into cyber-stalking.  If they wanted to answer the e-mail, they would have.  If they don’t want to, their decision needs to be respected.

I Know You Know

This situation can get even uglier.  I’ve heard of two or three situations recently.  One was at Ancestry where someone had a DNA match and their trees matched as well.  At first the contact was cordial, but then it deteriorated into one person insisting that the other person had information they weren’t divulging and from there it deteriorated even further.

This is a hobby.  It’s supposed to be fun.  This is not 7th grade.

Adoptions

However, there are other situations much more volatile and potentially serious. In some cases, often in adoptions, people don’t want contact.  Sometimes it’s the parent and sometimes it’s the adoptee.  But those aren’t the only people involved.  There are sometimes half-siblings that are found or cousins.

For the adoptees and the parents, there are laws in each state that govern the release of their legal paperwork to protect both parties.  Either party can opt out at any time.

But for inadvertently discovered family connections, this isn’t true.  Think of the person who doesn’t know they are adopted, for example, who discovers a half-sibling and through that half sibling their biological mother.  Neither person may welcome or be prepared for this discovery or contact.

Imagine this at the dinner table with the family gathered, “Hey guess what, I got a half-sibling match today on my DNA.  I wonder if that’s some kind of mistake.  How could that be?”

So if you match someone as a half sibling or a cousin, and they don’t want to continue the conversation, be kind and respectful, and leave the door open to them if they change their mind in the future.  Pushing them can only be hurtful and nonproductive.

Dirty Old (and Formerly Young) Men

And then, there’s the case of the family pervert.  Every family seems to have one.  But it’s not always who you think it is.  By the very nature of being a pervert, they hide their actions – and they can be very, very good at it.  Practice makes perfect.

Let’s say that Jane likes genealogy, but she was molested as a child by Cousin Fred.  Some of the family knows about this, and some don’t believe it.  The family was split by this incident, but it was years in the past now.  Jane wants nothing to do with Fred’s side of the family.

(By the way, if you think this doesn’t happen, it does.  About 20% of woman have been raped, 30% of them by family members (incest), many more molested, and children often by relatives or close family friends.  15% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 12.  Many childhood cases are never prosecuted because the children are too young to testify.  Perverts and pedophiles don’t wear t-shirts announcing such or have a “P” tattooed on their forehead.  Often family members find it hard to believe and don’t, regardless of the evidence, casting the victimized child in the position of being a liar and “troublemaker.”  Need convincing?  Think of what Ariel Castro’s family said and how well he hid his dark side and the Boston bombers’ family comments about their innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)

Jane’s an adult now and DNA tests.  She has a match and discovers that it’s on Fred’s side of the family.  Jane tells the person that she doesn’t want anything to do with that side of the family, has no genealogy information and wants no contact.  The match doesn’t believe Jane and then becomes insistent, then demanding, then accusatory, then threatening.

This is clearly over the line.  Jane said she didn’t want any continued contact.  That should have been the end of the discussion.

But let’s say this one gets worse.  Let’s say that because of this, Cousin Fred wakes up and decides that Jane is interesting again and begins to stalk Jane, and her children……

Does this make you shake in your shoes?  It should.  Criminals not only aren’t always playing with a full deck, but don’t play by any of the same rules as the rest of us.  Cousin Fred might just be very grateful for that information about Jane and view it as a wonderful “opportunity,” provided by his “supportive” family member who has now endangered both Jane and her children.

Who’s Yer Daddy?

In another recent situation, John discovered by DNA testing that he is not the biological child of his father.  He subsequently discovered that his mother was raped by another male, married to another close family member.  When John discovered that information, he promptly lost interest in genealogy altogether.

A year or so later, John matched someone closely who was insistent that he provide them with how he was related to them.  John knew, but he did not feel that it was any of their business and he certainly did not want to explain any of the situation to the perpetrator’s family member, who, by the way, had already mentioned what a good person the perpetrator was.  However, the person continued to harass and badger John until he changed his e-mail address.

I so wanted to ask these people, “What part of “NO” don’t you understand?”

Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe

In one final example, adoptees often make contact with their birth mother first, and then, if at all, with their birth father.  Sometimes the birth mothers are not cooperative with the (now adult) child about the identity of their father.  Often, this is horribly frustrating to the adoptee.  In at least one case, I know of a birth mother who would never tell, leaving the child an envelope when she died.  The child was just sure the father’s name was in the envelope, but it was not.  I can only imagine that level of disappointment.

Why would someone be so reticent to divulge this information?  The primary reasons seem to be that either the mother doesn’t know due to a variety of circumstances that can range from intoxication to rape, the woman never told the father that she had a baby and placed the child for adoption, the father was abusive and the mother was/is afraid of him/his family, the father was married, or the father was a relative, which means not only might the father still be alive, the mother may still have a relationship of some type with him.  The mother may have lied for years to protect herself, and in doing so, protected the father as well.

Clearly, this situation has a lot of potential to “shift” a lot of lives and not always in positive ways.  One woman didn’t want to make contact with her child other than one time because she had never told her husband of 30 years that she had a child before their marriage.  One woman made contact, but did not want to divulge that the child’s father was her older brother, still alive.  Victims often keep the secrets of their attackers out of misplaced shame and guilt.  Think Oprah here.  Mother may not be simply being stubborn, but acting like the victim she is and trying to preserve whatever shreds of dignity are left to her.  She may also be embarrassed by a lapse in judgment.  One adoptee realized when counting forward from her birth date that she was conceived right at New Years and when she realized that, she figured out that her mother, who drank heavily when she was younger, probably did not know who her father was, and didn’t want to admit that.

As frustrating as this is for the adoptee, the birth mother does have the right not to have her life turned upside down.  Badgering her will only result in losing the potential for a relationship from the current time forward.  Being respectful, understanding and gentle may open the door for future information.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I can hear Aretha now.

If you haven’t walked a mile in their moccasins, so to speak, you can’t possibly know the situation of the person on the other end of your request for DNA or information.  Don’t make the mistake of stepping over the line from excitement into bully behavior.

Think of the potential situations the person on the other end may be dealing with.  Ultimately, if they say no, then no it is and no should be enough without an explanation of why.  Generally bullying doesn’t work anyway, because someone who feels like you are threatening them or being too aggressive will clam right up and it will be that proverbial cold day in Hades before they tell you anything.  It’s important to keep communications from sounding like you’re demanding or entitled.  My mother always said “you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  I always found that very irritating, probably because I needed to hear it just then – but regardless – it’s true.

Keep in mind, genetic genealogy is about genealogy.  It’s a hobby.   It’s fun.  If it becomes otherwise and puts people at jeopardy, then we need to take a step back and take a deep breath.

Most people don’t mean to cross the line into bullying.  They just get excited and sometimes desperate.  Hopefully this discussion will help us all be more aware of where the polite line is in communicating with our family members and matches.

If you are the victim of information bullying, cyber-stalking or someone puts you in an uncomfortable situation, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation.  Most bullying sites are directed at adolescents, but the advice still applies.

If you know you don’t want contact initially, then make your accounts anonymous or don’t respond to requests.  If you realize that you don’t want contact after the initial contact, for whatever reason, say so.  After that, do not engage in communications with someone who is attempting to bully you.  If they threaten you or threaten to reveal information or your identity if you don’t give them information or do something, that action falls into the blackmail realm, which a crime.  Complying with a threat to protect yourself or your family generally only results in more of the same.  You are not dealing with a nice person.  At this point, you are way beyond genealogy and your own internal “danger” sign should be flashing bright neon red.

If disengaging does not take care of the problem, save all messages/contacts and contact your attorney who may advise you to contact the police or the FBI if the problem crosses state lines.  Depending on what state you/they live in and exactly what they have done, you may have a variety of options if they won’t stop, especially if they do something that does in fact manage to turn your life upside down and/or a crime is involved, like blackmail.  Of course, this is akin to closing the barn door after the cow leaves.  Hopefully, the person causing the problem is simply an over-zealous genealogist, means you no harm, realizes what they have done or are doing, and will get a grip and compose themselves long before this point.

Bullying of course is not because of DNA or unique to genetic genealogy, but the new products introduce new social situations that we have not previously had tools to discover nor the opportunity to address in quite the same way.

The Clan

You just never know who you’re going to meet doing genetic genealogy.  I meet the most interesting people.  One of my customers who purchased a Personalized DNA Report was a gentleman named Steve Ewing.  He wanted to know about the Ewing Clan, where his ancestors were from and if they were from Inch Island.  Did you even know there was a place called Inch Island?

Inch Island

Well, there it is, in Ireland, not far from Londonderry, and Steve’s Ewing family just may be from there.  So if you’re a Ewing or Ewen and you haven’t yet DNA tested, you might want to think about it, because you just might be from Inch Island and you might be related to a poet.

A poet?

Yes Indeed, a poet.  Steve’s hometown, Edgartown, MA., appointed him their first poet laureate.  But in case you think Steve is a one-trick pony, he’s not just a poet, he builds docks for a living, plus of course, he’s a genealogist.  I told you that I get to meet some of the world’s most interesting people, and I wasn’t kidding.

I asked Steve if he had written anything about DNA, if that had yet inspired him.  He sent me this poem and most gracioiusly granted permission for me to share it with you.  (Thank you Steve!)  His inspiration was the search for a new chief of the Clan Ewen.  But instead of me talking about it, let’s listen to the poet…

The Clan

The time has come

Again

To dig

Deep into

Our past

Sift through the

Claims of clan

Recall a center

From the mist

Drive a stake

In histories shady realm

That shrouds

In tartan cloak

Remains of chief

Head of clan

Born of blood

Living

Birthright blessed

To part those mists

Reveal the true course

Home

We hold the

Light of hope

Steady

With intellect

And if

The breech is wide

We’ll span with

Resolve and calm

For good of country

No less good of kin

I heartily support

This cause

In its myriad ways

For my father

For fathers gone before

No less our mothers

More so heap

With praise

Matriarchs

The true trunk

We sprout from

So come all MacEwens

Eoghains Ewings

Join the quest

We are transient people

That’s for sure

Now having settled

On fair Scotland’s

Rugged shore

And bound ourselves

Through loyalty and pain

The time has come

To gather

Once again

Before time’s

Mighty river

Rushes on

And washes us away

Into the sea

For something in us

Needs to know

Our truth lies buried

Deep below

The comfort of a family

Is our gain

Lost childhood

Life mysteries

Unrevealed

Yet sensed

And shared

This common blood

Flowing through

Our veins

Was soaked into

This rugged land

From whence we came

Or where we live still

So now may be the time

To pull the family shadow

From the mist

Or leave him hidden

Where he wants

To hide

Still Part Redman Deep Inside

Do you have a persistent story of Native American heritage in your family?

Standing Bear, Ponca, 1877Mark Green’s wife did.  Her ancestor Nancy Pittman’s mother was supposed to be a Cherokee Indian.  If your family was from the south, chances are you have some similar story.

Mark tracked her story both through DNA and the Cherokee records.  Her DNA showed 1% Native ancestry, but the records pertaining to the Guion-Miller Roll provided additional information.  It’s most interesting, because although the paperwork having to do with her 1907 application is ambiguous, with the application subsequently denied, the DNA, some 100 years and a few generations later, isn’t.

Here’s Mark’s article about the family story, his research and what he found.  Sometimes a little footwork goes a long way – and there are lots of records available having to do with the Cherokee and 5 Civilized Tribes who were removed to Oklahoma.

http://southerngreens.blogspot.com/2013/04/im-still-part-redman-deep-inside.html