Punching a Peephole in My Brick Wall – and Discounts to Help You Do the Same

I’m so excited I can hardly type. Taking the time to write this means garnering a huge amount of self-control, because it’s not AT ALL what I want to be doing right this minute.

Let me tell you why!

Huge drum roll…..please.

A forever brick wall is beginning to crumble.

I said beginning, because it’s in the process…thanks to DNA.

For brick walls in the current generation, meaning for adoptees or unknown parent or grandparent situations, when just the right matches appear, meaning generally first or second cousin, or closer, it’s a matter of narrowing the candidates coming forward in time. Genealogical brick walls are different.

When working on historical walls, further back in time, the process isn’t nearly so straightforward and solving those brick walls takes a huge amount of work and patience with some luck sprinkled in the recipe. Plus, you’re going backward in time where the matches are more tenuous and the matching segments smaller. That means it’s more difficult to draw conclusions.

Let me give you a quick example.

I have one particularly difficult line where I don’t know the identities of three women in generational succession, wives of the males in a direct paternal line. It looks like this:

As you can see, these unknown wives are several generations back in time, and I never, EVER thought I’d break through this brick wall, but I’m in that process.

Now, I know you’re dying to ask how this is being done, so I’m going to tell you.

The Peephole

In my father’s line, I’ve had several cousins test. Many, probably 20, but not all of them reach back to this particular line, although several do. I’ve simplified the example above for illustration purposes. (I will eventually write the details, when I have more proof.)

My known cousins have matches with other people (previously unknown before DNA matches) also descended from the gggg-grandfather born in 1747. Let’s call him gggg-grandfather Jones. That’s not his surname, but I don’t want to start any genealogy rumors before I’m positive, because that’s how surnames get attached incorrectly to trees based on speculation and hypothesis.

I sorted through the matches for all of the known cousins descended from this line, looking for segments that people with known Jones Ancestry carry.

Then, I triangulated those segments. In some cases, with the assistance of those previously unknown matches.

I must say that the cousin who tested from my grandmother’s generation (although not her direct line) was immeasurably helpful. He was in his 90s and welcomed the opportunity to contribute to our family history.  As it turns out, that just might be his legacy!

Segment Goldmines

There turned out to be three segments in particular that were particularly interesting, shared by several different matches, and triangulated with known Jones descendants.

However, there were several people who also triangulated on these segments with Jones descendants, and each other, but who DO NOT HAVE KNOWN JONES ANCESTRY. Some have extensive trees with no opportune holes where a Jones might fit.

However, as I evaluated the surnames of the people who were matching each other on a Jones DNA segment, I discovered a trend. The trend is the surname Campbell, AND, in (at least) one case, one of the Jones segments is ALSO triangulated to the Campbell family. We’re not talking small segments either. Here’s an example of a portion of that triangulating segment on chromosome 17.

Now, if the same segment is triangulated to the Jones line AND to the Campbell line, then the Jones line obviously carries some Campbell DNA which is descending through the Jones males. Or conversely, the Campbell line has some Jones DNA that is passing through the Campbell line.

To illustrate, the three segments have the following characteristics.

Chromosome 17 is the one that triangulated to BOTH the Jones and Campbell lines.

I feel like we’ve just punched a hole though a brick wall. It may be a tiny hole today, but rest assured, I’ll be whittling away at that wall.

The Key to Success

The bottom line here is that I THINK I’m on to the surname of one of those missing Jones wives.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this using a similar technique for one of my lines, it’s the third. The difference is that in the earlier cases, I had a potential surname for the wife. This time, I had no idea. With the greater numbers of people testing, breaking down brick walls using this type of methodology is getting easier and easier.

The key is to have as many cousins as possible test. Every time you convince a cousin to test, or pay for a test of someone related in some fashion, it’s a gift to yourself as well as them.

Me, sheepishly: OK, it might just be a gift for you! 😊

Coupons For Your Breakthrough

It’s Monday, so the Family Tree DNA coupons have been distributed for the week. If you wanted to order a DNA test for holiday giving, but didn’t get it done in time, you can simply print a picture of a present or a double helix and the order confirmation page, put it in a box and wrap it up!

That simple.

If you are already a Family Tree DNA customer, your Holiday Reward coupon is listed on your personal page. If not, or you can’t use yours for what you want to purchase, here are some of mine (plus extra, thanks to cousin Jim) that you can use. This week’s discounts are great and you can use most of them for any purchase over a certain dollar threshold, although those coupons are restricted to new products, not upgrades to existing projects.

Just click here to check your page or redeem the coupons below.

If you have coupons to share, please feel free to list those in the comments.


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21 thoughts on “Punching a Peephole in My Brick Wall – and Discounts to Help You Do the Same

  1. Am I the only one having problems using any of my coupons? It seems that they all say a greater amount must be spent, even if the dollar value is over the amount called for on the coupon. Having tried at least 6 codes, I have gotten only one small one to work for an upgrade. Codes seem useless for most upgrades. Wondering if I am doing something wrong? I am not looking to buy new kits.

  2. I have bought 16 kits for immediate family & cousins starting one in 2013 and with most purchased within the last 18months. All are connected to my name and email as I am the one doing the research yet I only receive ONE COUPON each week and it’s never anything I can use………..shouldn’t I be receiving a coupon per kit?? What is the policy and is there any info or instructions @ use of coupons on the website?

    • Yes, you should. But I have the same issue and my ISP is apparently discarding the rest as spam since they look the same as the others in terms of content. I go in each week and look at all of my kits individually to see what coupons are available.

    • Bobbi,
      Perhaps the reason is that you are using the same email address for each of your kits. If so, try using the following slight addition to your email address for each kit beside your own. Let’s suppose your email address is Jane.Doe@gmail.com. For someone else’s kit, you could use Jane.Doe+xyz@gmail.com, where xyz are the initials of that person.

      All the FTDNA mail sent to your kits will still end up in your usual inbox. You’ll also be able to tell from the recipient email address to which of your kits each email was sent.
      Hope this helps,

  3. I wish you luck with those Campbells since we are both group 30 in that project. Because I have no competence in genetic genealogy, Linda Jonas is working my brick wall for me at the moment. As I get results I can share with you if you have a need or are curious.

  4. 20 off any purchase of $150 or more
    Use Promo Code:
    OFFER EXPIRES 12/24/2017

  5. Thank you Roberta – I have used the discount code on Y37
    Here are my codes for this week valid until 24th Dec which I couldn’t use
    R338O06UWS01$10 off any purchase of $59 or more
    R336ZS90LR46$20 off any purchase of $150 or more
    R33BODPK693N$30 off any purchase of $225 or more

    Hope they will be of some use to someone!
    Really enjoy reading your blog – thank you!!

  6. Hi Roberta,
    I just used a $40 off code for Y-111 you posted and it applied it to the already sale price of $60 for a total of $100 off. Thank You! It was an upgrade from FF I sent in for my brother just a week ago. I love your blog and read it every Monday when it arrives in my e-mail in box. Congrats on breaking down those brick walls!
    Leaving a couple codes in return:
    R338HS1IS1HD $10 off any purchase of $59 or more.
    R33BEP9JDTIP $10 off any purchase of $59 or more.

  7. How fantastic and fabulous … I’m not surprised you could hardly type!! Hope the peephole becomes much bigger – all that hard slog deserves it 🙂

  8. This really sound promising, I wish you to see through it in 2018.

    Looking for my weekly coupon… @.@ … ok, I’ll keep that one.

    $100 off any purchase of $450 or more R33W3XP16GRT
    $30 off any purchase of $225 or more R33XZ9YNG0K5
    $50 off any purchase of $300 or more R33CQ7H4QZ1F
    $10 off any purchase of $59 or more R33DJ79KRSAD

    • I used one of my coupon, so here’s the bonus coupons, one for the kit who used it and one for the kit who provided the coupon:

      10% off any purchase of $59 or more R33J2VCEUYO7
      $20 off any purchase of $150 or more R3308AMBN0ZL

  9. Here are more FTDNA codes I won’t be using.
    All expire 12/24/17.

    R337G7Z0VWR6 – $30 off any purchase of $225 or more
    R33RYWD3S9PN – $50 off any purchase of $300 or more
    R33V28963WUF – $20 off any purchase of $150 or more

  10. Spare coupons – expiry 12/24/2017

    $10 off any purchase of $59 or more – R33HNV58JMTY
    $30 off any purchase of $225 or more – R33GJNYUU00D
    $30 off any purchase of $225 or more – R33IK9CEYQMR
    $50 off any purchase of $300 or more – R33XFP6RI6RE

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