Proving Your Tree

With all the recent discussion about Ancestry’s new “New Ancestor Discovery” feature rollout, and some wrong individuals being assigned as my ancestors, some people have been asking the question, “How do you know your tree is right?”  In other words, how do I know those ancestors are not my genetic ancestors?  As they correctly pointed out, NPEs and adoptions do occur.

And they are right, absolutely right.  It’s a legitimate question, one that every one of us needs to answer for our own trees.

I answered their question briefly by saying that I have a combination of both paper genealogy and DNA for all ancestors through the 6th generation, which is true, but I want to share more than that.  Plus, I wanted to take the time to really evaluate every single line individually to be absolutely positive of what I was saying, and to weigh the evidence.  All too often, it’s not a handy-dandy yes or no, it’s shades of grey.

It’s important for all of us to treat this, the study of our ancestors, like a big mystery with clues for us to find and decipher.

In some cases, there isn’t much mystery.  For example, unless you’re an adoptee, you probably know your grandparents and their birth and death information is relatively easy to obtain.  First, you’re a family member, and second, relatively complete records exist in the past century.  There are lots of sources – birth and death certificates, obituaries, tombstones still remain, hopefully houses with Bibles haven’t all burned, etc.

But as you move back in time, there are fewer sources available, fewer records, if any, exist and eventually, you’re so far back that there is no “institutional memory” in the form of Aunt Marybelle’s or Uncle Jehosiphat’s stories.

Before DNA, we spent a lot of time compiling information about our families, fitting the pieces together, assembling old wills and estate distributions to figure out who the children were, and so forth.  But we had no avenue to verify for example, that William Jr. was really the biological son of William Sr.  Nor did we have the tools to figure out that William Sr. and his wife had taken a child to raise on a wagon train whose parents had died, and that child really wasn’t the biological child of either William or his wife.  None of that existed before, but does now, at least in certain circumstances.

One of the things people, for some reason, believe is that they are going to take a DNA test and somehow, with the wave of a magic wand, or maybe the click of a leaf, their ancestry is going to be revealed to them.  Needless to say, that’s not how it works.

What we do is continue to use a variety of types of DNA testing to prove various lines of our ancestry – and sometimes disprove them – in conjunction with other types of traditional records.  By now, you’ve probably all heard the story of my brother, who I searched for, for years, only to discover he was not my biological brother.  For me, there is peace in knowing and I love my brother regardless.  I’m so glad I found him before he passed away – regardless of the DNA results.  But before DNA, we would never have been able to know, for sure.  What we believed with all of our hearts was not the truth.  The DNA results were undeniable.

When I started working with DNA for genealogy, I was simply curious.  I did not set forth a goal to “prove my lines,” nor, for a long time, did I really think about that.  I was always just excited when someone from one of my ancestral lines would test, because their mitochondrial or Y results were relevant to my ancestors too – assuming we connected in the correct fashion.  I cherished the ability to discover that my ancestors in that line were from the British Isles, Africa, Scandinavia or were Native American, for example.  Mitochondrial and Y results allow us to extend what we know about that ancestral line back in time, beyond the time of surnames.  These tests help us to answer the question, for each ancestral line, “where did I come from?”  Because, after all, “I” am the combination of all of my ancestors.

In my article, The DNA Pedigree Chart – Mining for Ancestors, I talk about how to create pedigree charts that include Y and mtDNA for each ancestral line.  Obviously, I can’t test for all of these myself.

DNA Pedigree

This is part of the answer to how I know that some parts of my tree are correct.

For example, let’s say my Estes cousin, Buster, tests to represent my Estes Y line, and he matches many Estes men, all the way back to Abraham Estes, the immigrant into Virginia.  That unquestionably proves the Estes line he carries is the ancestral Estes line.  However, since I don’t carry the Estes Y chromosome, I have to utilize autosomal DNA to prove that I am related to Buster and other Estes descendants on the Estes side.  Those two pieces of information combined prove that my Estes line is confirmed back beyond the 6th generation – even though I don’t carry the Estes Y chromosome and I have no one  in my immediate family to “sit proxy” for me.

Why am I focused on the 6th generation?

When Ancestry rolled their new feature that gives people “New Ancestors,” they graciously gave me two that were not only wrong – I can’t figure out any connection at all.

I wrote about this in the article, “Ancestry DNA Gave Me A New DNA Ancestor – And It’s Wrong.”

In order for Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte, spouses, to be my ancestors, they would have been born in about the 6th generation, given their birth dates, and reproduced in the 5th generation.  The problem is that I have my tree documented solidly back through both of those generations, and John and Diedamia are not my ancestors.

This caused someone to ask how I knew that an NPE hadn’t happened and that one of my ancestral couples, who I believe are my ancestors, aren’t really – and Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte are instead – or at least John.  Like, perhaps a baby swap, or a wagon train parental death/child adoption or some other form of NPE (nonparental event.)

Good questions.  I want to know the answer too, for my own benefit.

In order to begin to address this, I looked at the years John and Diedamia were born and the locations where they are found.  Diedamia Lyon was born in Wilkes County in 1804 and she and John Curnutte married in 1822 in Lawrence County, KY, according to the Ancestry story attached to this couple, and she died there in 1866.  I can’t vouch for any of this, because it’s taken from Ancestry’s compiled trees.  What I can tell you is that I have no family at all in or near Lawrence County Kentucky, not in this or any other timeframe.

I do have family in Wilkes County, however, which is where I began the comparative search.  Both John Curnutte and Diedamia’s parents came from Virginia and I have lots of ancestry there, including several unknown lines – but not in any generation where John and Diedamia could be my ancestors.  However, these common locations would be the most likely places for an adoption, in whatever form, to have occurred – if one did.

So, let’s take this one parent’s side at a time and look at the proofs I have and how I know, beyond a doubt, that these two people are not my ancestors.

new ancestor mother tree

I’ve divided my ancestors into my mother’s side and my father’s side and created a proof table for each one in the 6th generation.  The Proof column, in this case, means proof that Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte cannot replace these ancestors in my tree, confirming that these are my ancestors and John and Diedamia are not.

Let’s look at my mother’s side first.  It’s easy.  Hendrick Jans Ferverda, born in the Netherlands about 1806, so about the same time as John and Diedamia, was not in this country at that time.  We have documentary proof from the Netherlands.  We have further evidence of when his son did immigrate in the 1860s.  So, Diedamia and John cannot be clandestine ancestors, replacing Hendrick Jans Ferverda and his wife, Lijsbert Baukes Camstra in my tree.  They weren’t even on the same continent when the begetting would have occurred.

As we assemble the proof for each ancestor, we consider birth and death years and locations, whatever documentation we have, and DNA evidence.

Ancestor Birth/Death Location Facts Proof
Hendrick Jans Ferverda 1806-1874 Born and died in the Netherlands Proof from documents in Leeuwarden and Blija, Netherlands Not in the US at the time
Lijsbert Baukes Camstra 1806-1856 Born and died in the Netherlands Proof from documents in Leeuwarden and Blija, Netherlands Not in the US at the time
Harmen Gerrits de Jong 1803-1866 Born and died in the Netherlands Proof from documents from Oosterlittens and Leeuwarden, Netherlands Not in the US at the time
Angenietje Houtsma 1802-1866 Born and died in the Netherlands Proof from documents from Leeuwarden, Netherlands Not in the US at this time
David Miller 1781-1851 Born Washington Co., MD, died Elkhart Co., Indiana Marriage documents in Warren Co., Ohio, estate in  Elkhart Co., Indiana Miller Y DNA from this line matches to other sons’ descendants of Johann Michael Miller b 1692, autosomal matches to several Miller descendants including mother’s first and second cousins.
Catharina Schaeffer Circa 1775 – 1826 Born Berks Co, PA, died Montgomery Co., PA Marriage document 1799 Berks Co., Marriage document 1805 Warren Co., Ohio Schaeffer males have tested Y and autosomal.  They match the Schaeffer Y upstream of Catharina’s father and match cousins autosomally.
Jacob Lentz 1783-1870 Born in Germany, died in Montgomery Co., Ohio Citizenship papers and census show birth, tombstone and estate papers show death Multiple males have tested Y DNA and they match each other.  They also match other Lentz men, but we can’t figure the common ancestor in Germany.  The Y testers and other cousins match mother autosomally.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
Frederica Moselman 1788-1863 Born in Wurttemburg, Germany, died Montgomery Co., Indiana Was married before immigration Born in Germany, not in US at the time.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
Honore Lore 1766 – 1834 Born in New England during Acadian removal, died Quebec, Canada in Acadian community Church records Y DNA of descendant matches Y DNA of other Lore males upstream of Honore, autosomal DNA matches mother.
Marie Lafaille 1767-1836 Born in New England during Acadian removal, died in Quebec Canada in Acadian community Church records including marriage to Honore Lore in 1789 in Canada Not in right place, married to Honore, autosomal DNA of descendants matches both Lafaille and Lore family members.
Joseph Hill 1790-1871 Born Barrington, NH, died 1871, Lake Co., Ill Hill family from NH and Vermont where he is first found in records, death records in Illinois Autosomal DNA matches with other descendant of Joseph and his parents.  His father is Ancestry DNA Circle.
Nabby Hall 1792-1874 Birth record in Mansfield City, CT town records, death record in Lake Co., Illinois Family moved to Addison Co., VT where children were born and where they are in the records, ancestor daughter’s birth Autosomal DNA matches with other descendants of Nabby and her parents, Gershom Hall and Dorcas Richardson.
Phillip Jacob Kirsch 1806-1880 Born Fussgoenheim, Germany died Ripley Co., Indiana Church birth records, death recorded in cemetery records Not in US at the time
Katharina Lemmert 1807-1889 Born Mutterstadt, Germany, died Aurora, Indiana Church birth records and death recorded in cemetery records Not in US at the time
George Drechsel 1823-1908 Born Speichersdorf, Germany, died Aurora, Indiana German church birth records, death recorded in cemetery records Not in US at the time
Barbara Mehlheimer 1823-1906 Born Goppmansbuhl, Germany, died Aurora, Indiana Germany church birth records, death recorded in cemetery records Not in US at the time

I don’t think there is any doubt whatsoever in any of my mother’s lines that Diedamia Lyons and John Curnutte whose families were from from VA, NC and KY can possibly be substituted for any of these ancestors.

Now let’s move to my father’s side of the family, who were indeed from VA and NC.

new ancestor father tree

In the chart below, I’ve starred the ancestors who I feel have a weak or unknown parental connection, meaning with their parents, based on the facts.  In many cases, this is an unknown mother or unknown mother’s surname or lack of solid DNA proof.  My goal for each ancestor is to have both the genealogical and the DNA proof, supporting each other.

For example, let’s look at Nancy Ann Moore.  Nancy is starred because her mother’s surname is unknown.  This means I can’t prove or disprove any ancestral line through her mother, Lucy.  In other words, while it’s clear that John and Diedamia cannot replace John R. Estes and Nancy Ann Moore as ancestors, one of them might be related to Nancy’s mother.  Therefore, based on the evidence, we do have proof that John and Diedamia are not clandestine ancestors in place of John and Nancy, but what we can’t know is if they are related upstream to Nancy’s mother.

Ancestor Birth/Death Location Facts Proof
John R. Estes 1787-1885 Born Halifax Co., Va, died Claiborne Co., TN Birth and death from War of 1812 pension app Estes Y DNA proven beyond John R. Estes, autosomal DNA from descendants and other Estes descendants triangulate.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
Nancy Ann Moore* Circs 1785-1860/1870 Born Halifax Co., VA, died Claiborne Co. TN Marriage doc in Halifax Co in 1811, husband’s War of 1812 pension app Moore DNA tested to Nancy’s grandfather’s generation, descendants match other Moore testers autosomally, Nancy’s mother’s surname unknown.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
Lazarus Dodson* 1795-1861 Parents living in Hawkins Co in 1795, Pulaski Co., KY death records Father-in-law John Campbell estate records for marriage to Elizabeth Dodson Y DNA beyond Lazarus, many Dodson autosomal matches, Lazarus’s mother’s surname unknown.
Elizabeth Campbell C1802-1827/1830 Parents living in Claiborne County TN per tax and court records, death in Claiborne per her children’s guardian records Her father, John Campbell’s estate records regarding her children, guardianship settlement Campbell DNA from this line matches Campbell clan DNA, autosomal matches to many Campbell cousins.  Her parents are Ancestry DNA Circles.
Elijah Vannoy 1784-c1850 Parents lives Wilkes Co at that time, death from Hancock Co. TN census Elijah found in Wilkes Co deed records in 1807, in Claiborne court records by 1812 Vannoy Y DNA from his line matches lines earlier than Elijah, autosomal DNA matches cousins.  Son is Ancestry DNA Circle.
Lois McNiel c1786-c1839 Parents living in Wilkes at time of her birth per tax and deed records, died before census in Claiborne Co., TN Parents also moved to Claiborne Co., TN, family history records Elijah’s wife as Lois McNiel Y DNA matches back to Rev. George, 2 generations beyond Lois, autosomal matches Lois’ descendants as well.  Son is Ancestry DNA Circle.
William Crumley III* 1785/1789 – 1852/1860 Born where parents lived Frederick Co., VA proven by 1789 tax list, death in Appanoose Co., Iowa by census Was in Lee Co by 1820 census, marriage documents in 1807 in Greene Co., TN Crumley DNA from this line proves back to James, 3 gen earlier, autosomal matches to cousins, William’s mother unknown.  Daughter is Ancestry DNA Circle.
Lydia Brown* 1787/1790-1830/1849 Born where parents lived in Montgomery Co., VA, death by census in Lee Co., VA and husband’s remarriage Married in 1807 in Greene Co., TN, in Lee Co. Va by 1820, in 1830 census, 1850 census shows husband has been married within the year to new wife Brown Y DNA confirms Jotham and matches other Browns without common ancestor identified, autosomal DNA matches to cousins, Lydia’s mother surname unknown.
Henry Bolton* 1759-1846 Born England, died Giles Co., VA Birth location unproven except by family stories, marriage records, death by local documents and census Bolton DNA confirms Henry and there are other matches but common ancestor unproven.  No Y matches to Curnutte or Lyons. Many descendants autosomal match but cannot go beyond Henry with proofs.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
Nancy Mann* c 1780/1783 – 1841 Born where family lived, Botetourt Co., VA, died Giles Co, VA Birth from census and inferred from marriage document 1799, death from family Bible Parents are unconfirmed but believed to be James Mann and Mary Cantrell.  Not Y DNA confirmed to Mann line.  No known Manns from this direct line have tested.  Autosomal matches to James Mann’s brother Moses.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
William Herrell* 1789/1790 – 1859 Born in NC, probably Wilkes Co, died in Hancock Co., TN Birth from War of 1812 pension and bounty land apps, death from his wife on pension app Herrell confirmed back to John, William’s father on Y, match Y cousins autosomally, mother’s surname unknown.
Mary McDowell* 1785- after 1872 Born where in Wilkes Co., NC where parents lived at the time per tax records, died Hancock Co., TN Marriage in 1809 in Wilkes Co., lived in Claiborne & Hancock, death per pension docs and census McDowell Y DNA proven to Michael, her father, via multiple lines, autosomal matches to cousins, mother’s surname unknown.
Fairwick Claxton 1799/1800 – 1874 Birth in Russell Co., VA by census in location where parents lived, death Hancock Co., TN according to his mother’s War of 1812 pension app after his father’s death, death by chancery suit Born in Russell Co., VA, lived in Claiborne which became Hancock Co., TN entire life, chancery suit provides significant info, plus census. Claxton/Clarkson DNA proven to James via Y with additional matches from NC with earlier unidentified common ancestor, autosomal matches between entire group of cousins.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
Agnes Muncy* 1803 – after 1880 Born where Lee Co., VA parents lived according to tax and deed records, dead via census Hancock Co., TN Census and chancery suit show family in Hancock Co., TN Muncy Y DNA confirmed beyond Agnes, cousins matching autosomally.  Would like additional triangulated matches.  Ancestry DNA Circle.
Charles Speak 1804 – 1840/1850 Born Washington Co., VA where parents lived according to tax and deed records, death by census Lee Co., VA Marriage in 1823 in Washington Co., VA, later records in Lee Co., VA having to do with Speaks church Speak Y DNA confirmed back to Gisburn, England, many autosomal matches in this line.  Parents are Ancestry DNA Circles.
Ann McKee* 1804/1805 – 1840/1850 Birth in Washington Co., VA where parents lived according to father’s will, death from census Lee Co., VA Married in 1823 Montgomery Co., VA, moved to Lee Co., VA, her father’s will names her as daughter Have not found McKee Y to test, but match several McKee descendants on autosomal.  Ann’s mother’s surname is unknown.  Father Andrew was Ancestry DNA Circle, but disappeared.

As you can clearly see, there is no question that Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte aren’t my ancestors.  There is no place for them to be born in 1801/1804, replacing two people here.  Plus there is no Canutte Y DNA matching downstream anyplace, nor any Lyon or Canutte matching at all that I can discover at Family Tree DNA where I can search for ancestral surnames among my matches.  At Ancestry, the only Curnutte surname DNA matches I have are the two individuals that are in the Curnutte “New Ancestor” circle.  Lyon is a more common surname, but nothing connecting matching people, the Lyon surname and any common ancestor or location – other than the two people who also match Curnutte.

I am 100% positive, bet on it and take it to the bank positive, that Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte are not my ancestors.  And anyone who knows me knows that I never, ever, bet unless I know it’s a sure thing.  So, if I ever say to you, “wanna bet,” think twice.  I wound up with a nice piece of jewelry because my husband hadn’t learned that yet.  Not once, but twice.  Unfortunately, he has learned now:)

However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t share DNA with the descendants of Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte.  One of two scenarios can be happening.

1. I do share DNA with two of the Lyon/Canutte descendants, but that DNA could be from two different, unidentified, lines, neither of which are John Curnutte and Diedamia Lyon. It just so happens that the two people I share DNA with happen to share the Lyon/Curnutte line between them. Therefore, the leap of faith has been made that I too share those ancestors. A triangulation tool would answer this question, because if I don’t match my two matches on the same segment, there is no proof of the same ancestor.  Lack of a triangulated match doesn’t mean that I don’t share those ancestors either. In other words, it’s not negative proof.  Lack of a triangulated match wouldn’t mean I don’t want to see this information.  I do. I just want to know how strong the evidence is, or isn’t. Without analysis tools, we’re left to flop around in the dark.

2. I share DNA with two of the Lyon/Canutte descendants because there is a common ancestor upstream of EITHER John Canutte or Diedamia Lyon whose DNA comes through that couple to their children who match me. If this is the case, then the common ancestor is most likely in one of the lines that are starred above where the parents are unknown.  If Ancestry provided chromosome matching and triangulation tools, I could see who else I match on that segment and perhaps find some common genealogy between others who match me (and my matches) on that same segment.

Summary

So, the answer to the question, “How do you know your tree is right?” is threefold.

First, genealogically, I’m a terribly anal, er, I mean thorough, researcher.  If you have any doubt, please feel free to read my 52 ancestor series and you can see for yourself the kind of in-depth research I do.

This isn’t to say everything is perfect or that I can’t make mistakes.  I clearly can, do and have.  But for the most part, my trees are solid and I know when they aren’t, where and why.  Plus, I’ve been doing this now for 37 years.  Experience is a wonderful teacher, so long as you learn and don’t just make the same mistakes over and over again.

And, yes, thank you, I did start when I was quite young – barely of age.

Secondly, I have been triangulating my autosomal DNA for several years now, proving segments through both known and previously unknown cousins to specific ancestral lines, and specific common ancestors.  But, I have to be able to see where we match to utilize those tools, and we can’t do that at Ancestry where it’s genetic genealogy wearing blinders.  I’m very thankful for GedMatch so I can compare DNA with the Ancestry cousins who will download their results.  If my two matches who descend from John and Diedamia downloaded their results to GedMatch, then I could see WHERE I match them and I might have that segment already mapped to a specific family line.  That would help immensely tracking backwards and finding the common link with my matches.

Third, I have been utilizing Y and mtDNA where possible and appropriate to learn about, prove and confirm various lines for nearly 15 years.

Often, I use combinations of these tools, like in my Buster example where Buster proved the Estes Y in my line, and I proved my relationship to Buster through autosomal DNA.

These combinations are powerful tools to prove, or disprove, family lines.

And now that you know how to do this, you can prove each one of your ancestral lines too!

22 thoughts on “Proving Your Tree

  1. Thanks, Roberta. A funny thing happened when I got a “New Ancestor”. Nobody knew the middle name of my great grandfather, not even the Union Army! However, I put it on one web site and, lo, it came back to me as new find. Other data bases would have my Mayflower ancestors and I got some of them back as new contacts. Now we’ll see if my mistake on the Broderbund ancestor software comes back to haunt me. LOL
    With the new Pennsylvania records release, I have challenged the free lookup man to find a marriage certificate from the frontier of Western Pennsylvania.

  2. This is MOST interesting today Roberta as I’ve checked with you before regarding your ESTES line… I have some matches – on GEDmatch who are ESTES and also one who is a CRUMLEY!!!
    And then today you mention John Curnutte and Diadema Lyon of Lawrence Co., KY!!!
    John David Curnutte who m. Diadema Lyon is the s/o my 4th g-Aunt Deresa Chaffin & John Tolliver Curnutte I. My 3rd g-grandfather was John Chaffin – Deresa’s brother… and my maternal Grandfather is from Lawrence Co, KY.
    It just seems kind of coincidental that our names keep crossing… wish I could figure all of this out…

    Lynda Davis-Logan

  3. Great article. I noticed you have Miller, Brown and Lentz in your tree. So do I. Is your David Miller the son of Johanne Wendell Miller? Or another Miller line from North Carolina? Would like to see if we’re connected. Sandy Simmons

    • My Miller line descends from Johann Michael Miller (Mueller) born in 1692 in Steinwenden, Germany, died in 1771 in Frederick County MD, married to Suzanna Agnes Berchtol born in 1688 in Ohmback, Germany. My Lentz line is from Jacob Lentz born 1783 in Wurttemburg, Germany, died 1870 Montgomery Co., Ohio, married to Frederica Moselman born 1788 Wurttemburg, died 1863 Montgomery Co. My Brown line is from Jotham Brown b 1740 died 1799 married to Phoebe. Daughter Lydia married William Crumley and they lived in Greene Co., TN, then Lee Co., VA then he went on to Appanoose Co., Iowa.

  4. Roberta, I am so glad that you posted this. I knew what you meant by “proof” in your article on false NADs and was a bit irritated by the responses suggesting NPEs as an alternative explanation. I was thinking, “Have you been *reading* Roberta’s posts here?”

    Thank you,
    Lou

    PS My sister and I have a couple of NADs. They are impossible and I have no idea how we’re related to our matches who *do* descend from them. Curiously, my mother’s and my uncle’s NADs (they have 18) are also false but we are related to almost all of them in known ways.

      • Great Article.

        I had around 15 NADs and did a good deal of research on them because I have several missing branches. So far, none of them have been direct ancestors, more like Ancestral Relative Discoveries. However, because of all the effort put into figuring out who some of these people are, I broke a huge brick wall I had for a long time with some unknown William Johnson. Trying to find records on William Johnson isn’t difficult, but trying to find the needle in the haystack of William Johnson records is.
        Ken

  5. I need some help in learning the proper term to use. I hope you have access to Ancestry.com.
    If you do, please search for Othello Ostrander and find my file named “CONSANGUINITY” .
    Observe the pedigree of Hazel Ostrander born 1895. View her ancestors. Note how often there are marriages of cousins in her line. The pedigree contains at least six paths of ancestry back to a woman born in 17th century–Geesje Jans. And there are at least eight paths of ancestry back to a man born in 1601. Teunis Jans Pier had two sons; the child of one son married the grandchild of the other son. This marriage produced two daughters. The son of one of the daughters married the daughter of the other daughter. So, when measuring the DNA connection, the relationship is stated as 4th cousin for some . Yet I believe that is because the “over-abundance” of DNA that is present is a 20th century descendant of Teunis Jans Pier. What is the term for such an observation? I feel that when I compare my DNA with a second cousin who shares my Dutch ancestry back to Hazel Ostrander, the DNA is actually “overstated” because of the abundance of lines of descend from Teunis. So, even though I have a paper trail that demonstrates a relationship of 6th cousin, the biology formulas indicate a second cousin.
    When I compare DNA with a cousin from my Irish ancestry, I find that there were no cousin marriages, and the DNA prediction of third cousin is much more accurate.
    I have been interested in DNA since the first sequences were published. But I still have a lot to learn. I suppose that some day I will find that some areas of the DNA strand have a higher probability of being passed on through the next four generations than other areas of the strand.

    I have discovered a few predicted cousins that were actually 6th cousins, when the DNA prediction was 3rd cousin. Am I correct that this error in prediction is based on the over abundance of DNA that exists because of the many lines back to one particular ancestor?

    • Your higher than expected DNA match to these people is likely because of your multiple connections back to the same ancestor. This is known as pedigree collapse and intermarriage within a particular group is also known as endogamy. We see this is lot in populations such as Jewish, Acadian and sects like Amish and Brethren.

  6. Due to cousin marriages, I find that I have seven lines of descent from an ancestor alive in 17th century. Consequently, I get a DNA prediction of 3rd cousin when my pepper trail investigation
    has established the relation ship as 6th cousin. Is it correct that I have an overabundance of DNA from a 17th century ancestor and a cousin who shares my lineage has a similar overabundance? And the DNA prediction is overstated ?
    See Ancestry.com. Search for Othello Ostrander born 1843. Find file CONSANGUINITY.
    Observe ancestors of Hazel Ostrander (born 1895). Note the many paths to Teunis Pier and Pieter Ostrander.
    What is the term that should be used for this subject of explaining amounts of DNA in 20th century descendant being in proportion to the number of lines of descent?

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