2019: The Year and Decade of Change

2019 ends both a year and a decade. In the genealogy and genetic genealogy world, the overwhelmingly appropriate word to define both is “change.”

Everything has changed.

Millions more records are online now than ever before, both through the Big 3, being FamilySearch, MyHeritage and Ancestry, but also through multitudes of other sites preserving our history. Everyplace from National Archives to individual blogs celebrating history and ancestors.

All you need to do is google to find more than ever before.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve made more progress in the past decade that in all of the previous ones combined.

Just Beginning?

If you’re just beginning with genetic genealogy, welcome! I wrote this article just for you to see what to expect when your DNA results are returned.

If you’ve been working with genetic genealogy results for some time, or would like a great review of the landscape, let’s take this opportunity to take a look at how far we’ve come in the past year and decade.

It’s been quite a ride!

What Has Changed?

EVERYTHING

Literally.

A decade ago, we had Y and mitochondrial DNA, but just the beginning of the autosomal revolution in the genetic genealogy space.

In 2010, Family Tree DNA had been in business for a decade and offered both Y and mitochondrial DNA testing.

Ancestry offered a similar Y and mtDNA product, but not entirely the same markers, nor full sequence mitochondrial. Ancestry subsequently discontinued that testing and destroyed the matching database. Ancestry bought the Sorenson database that included Y, mitochondrial and autosomal, then destroyed that data base too.

23andMe was founded in 2006 and began autosomal testing in 2007 for health and genealogy. Genealogists piled on that bandwagon.

Family Tree DNA added autosomal to their menu in 2010, but Ancestry didn’t offer an autosomal product until 2012 and MyHeritage not until 2016. Both Ancestry and MyHeritage have launched massive marketing and ad campaigns to help people figure out “who they are,” and who their ancestors were too.

Family Tree DNA

2019 FTDNA

Family Tree DNA had a banner year with the Big Y-700 product, adding over 211,000 Y DNA SNPs in 2019 alone to total more than 438,000 by year end, many of which became newly defined haplogroups. You can read more here. Additionally, Family Tree DNA introduced the Block Tree and public Y and public mitochondrial DNA trees.

Anyone who ignores Y DNA testing does so at their own peril. Information produced by Y DNA testing (and for that matter, mitochondrial too) cannot be obtained any other way. I wrote about utilizing mitochondrial DNA here and a series about how to utilize Y DNA begins in a few days.

Family Tree DNA remains the premier commercial testing company to offer high resolution and full sequence testing and matching, which of course is the key to finding genealogy solutions.

In the autosomal space, Family Tree DNA is the only testing company to provide Phased Family Matching which uses your matches on both sides of your tree, assuming you link 3rd cousins or closer, to assign other testers to specific parental sides of your tree.

Family Tree DNA accepts free uploads from other testing companies with the unlock for advanced features only $19. You can read about that here and here.

MyHeritage

MyHeritage, the DNA testing dark horse, has come from behind from their late entry into the field in 2016 with focused Europeans ads and the purchase of Promethease in 2019. Their database stands at 3.7 million, not as many as either Ancestry or 23andMe, but for many people, including me – MyHeritage is much more useful, especially for my European lines. Not only is MyHeritage a genealogy company, piloted by Gilad Japhet, a passionate genealogist, but they have introduced easy-to-use advanced tools for consumers during 2019 to take the functionality lead in autosomal DNA.

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You can read more about MyHeritage and their 2019 accomplishments, here.

As far as I’m concerned, the MyHeritage bases-loaded 4-product “Home Run” makes MyHeritage the best solution for genetic genealogy via either testing or transfer:

  • Triangulation – shows testers where 3 or more people match each other. You can read more, here.
  • Tree Matching – SmartMatching for both DNA testers and those who have not DNA tested
  • Theories of Family Relativity – a wonderful new tool introduced in February. You can read more here.
  • AutoClusters – Integrated cluster technology helps you to visualize which groups of people match each other.

One of their best features, Theories of Family Relativity connects the dots between people you DNA match with disparate trees and other documents, such as census. This helps you and others break down long-standing brick walls. You can read more, here.

MyHeritage encourages uploads from other testing companies with basic functions such as matching for free. Advanced features cost either a one-time unlock fee of $29 or are included with a full subscription which you can try for free, here. You can read about what is free and what isn’t, here.

You can develop a testing and upload strategy along with finding instructions for how to upload here and here.

23andMe

Today, 23andMe is best known for health, having recovered after having had their wings clipped a few years back by the FDA. They were the first to offer Health results, leveraging the genealogy marketspace to attract testers, but have recently been eclipsed by both Family Tree DNA with their high end full Exome Tovana test and MyHeritage with their Health upgrade which provides more information than 23andMe along with free genetic counseling if appropriate. Both the Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage tests are medically supervised, so can deliver more results.

23andMe has never fully embraced genetic genealogy by adding the ability to upload and compare trees. In 2019, they introduced a beta function to attempt to create a genetic tree on your behalf based on how your matches match you and each other.

2019 23andMe.png

These trees aren’t accurate today, nor are they deep, but they are a beginning – especially considering that they are not based on existing trees. You can read more here.

The best 23andMe feature for genealogy, as far as I’m concerned, is their ethnicity along with the fact that they actually provide testers with the locations of their ethnicity segments which can help testers immensely, especially with minority ancestry matching. You can read about how to do this for yourself, here.

23andMe generally does not allow uploads, probably because they need people to test on their custom-designed medical chip. Very rarely, once that I know of in 2018, they do allow uploads – but in the past, uploaders do not receive all of the genealogy features and benefits of testing.

You can however, download your DNA file from 23andMe and upload elsewhere, with instructions here.

Ancestry

Ancestry is widely known for their ethnicity ads which are extremely effective in recruiting new testers. That’s the great news. The results are frustrating to seasoned genealogists who get to deal with the fallout of confused people trying to figure out why their results don’t match their expectations and family stories. That’s the not-so-great news.

However, with more than 15 million testers, many of whom DO have genealogy trees, a serious genealogist can’t *NOT* test at Ancestry. Testers do need to be aware that not all features are available to DNA testers who don’t also subscribe to Ancestry’s genealogy subscriptions. For example, you can’t see your matches’ trees beyond a 5 generation preview without a subscription. You can read more about what you do and don’t receive, here.

Ancestry is the only one of the major companies that doesn’t provide a chromosome browser, despite pleas for years to do so, but they do provide ThruLines that show you other testers who match your DNA and show a common ancestor with you in their trees.

2019 Ancestry.png

ThruLines will also link partial trees – showing you ancestral descendants from the perspective of the ancestor in question, shown above. You can read about ThruLines, here.

Of course, without a chromosome browser, this match is only as good as the associated trees, and there is no way to prove the genealogical connection. It’s possible to all be wrong together, or to be related to some people through a completely different ancestor. Third party tools like Genetic Affairs and cluster technology help resolve these types of issues. You can read more, here.

You can’t upload DNA files from other testing companies to Ancestry, probably due to their custom medical chip. You can download your file from Ancestry and upload to other locations, with instructions here.

Selling Customers’ DNA

Neither Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage nor Gedmatch sell, lease or otherwise share their customers’ DNA, and all three state (minimally) they will not in the future without prior authorization.

All companies utilize their customers’ DNA internally to enhance and improve their products. That’s perfectly normal.

Both Ancestry and 23andMe sell consumers DNA to both known and unknown partners if customers opt-in to additional research. That’s the purpose of all those questions.

If you do agree or opt-in, and for those who tested prior to when the opt-in began, consumers don’t know who their DNA has been sold to, where it is or for what purposes it’s being utilized. Although anonymized (pseudonymized) before sale, autosomal results can easily be identified to the originating tester (if someone were inclined to do so) as demonstrated by adoptees identifying parents and law enforcement identifying both long deceased remains and criminal perpetrators of violent crimes. You can read more about re-identification here, although keep in mind that the re-identification frequency (%) would be much higher now than it was in 2018.

People are widely split on this issue. Whatever you decide, to opt-in or not, just be sure to do your homework first.

Always read the terms and conditions fully and carefully of anything having to do with genetics.

Genealogy

The bottom line to genetic genealogy is the genealogy aspect. Genealogists want to confirm ancestors and discover more about those ancestors. Some information can only be discovered via DNA testing today, distant Native heritage, for example, breaking through brick walls.

This technology, as it has advanced and more people have tested, has been a godsend for genealogists. The same techniques have allowed other people to locate unknown parents, grandparents and close relatives.

Adoptees

Not only are genealogists identifying people long in the past that are their ancestors, but adoptees and those seeking unknown parents are making discoveries much closer to home. MyHeritage has twice provided thousands of free DNA tests via their DNAQuest program to adoptees seeking their biological family with some amazing results.

The difference between genealogy, which looks back in time several generations, and parent or grand-parent searches is that unknown-parent searches use matches to come forward in time to identify parents, not backwards in time to identify distant ancestors in common.

Adoptee matching is about identifying descendants in common. According to Erlich et al in an October 2018 paper, here, about 60% of people with European ancestry could be identified. With the database growth since that time, that percentage has risen, I’m sure.

You can read more about the adoption search technique and how it is used, here.

Adoptee searches have spawned their own subculture of sorts, with researchers and search angels that specialize in making these connections. Do be aware that while many reunions are joyful, not all discoveries are positively received and the revelations can be traumatic for all parties involved.

There’s ying and yang involved, of course, and the exact same techniques used for identifying biological parents are also used to identify cold-case deceased victims of crime as well as violent criminals, meaning rapists and murderers.

Crimes Solved

The use of genetic genealogy and adoptee search techniques for identifying skeletal remains of crime victims, as well as identifying criminals in order that they can be arrested and removed from the population has resulted in a huge chasm and division in the genetic genealogy community.

These same issues have become popular topics in the press, often authored by people who have no experience in this field, don’t understand how these techniques are applied or function and/or are more interested in a sensational story than in the truth. The word click-bait springs to mind although certainly doesn’t apply equally to all.

Some testers are adamantly pro-usage of their DNA in order to identify victims and apprehend violent criminals. Other testers, not so much and some, on the other end of the spectrum are vehemently opposed. This is a highly personal topic with extremely strong emotions on both sides.

The first such case was the Golden State Killer, which has been followed in the past 18 months or so by another 100+ solved cases.

Regardless of whether or not people want their own DNA to be utilized to identify these criminals and victims, providing closure for families, I suspect the one thing we can all agree on is that we are grateful that these violent criminals no longer live among us and are no longer preying on innocent victims.

I wrote about the Golden State Killer, here, as well as other articles here, here, here and here.

In the genealogy community, various vendors have adopted quite different strategies relating to these kinds of searches, as follows:

  • Ancestry, 23andMe and MyHeritage – have committed to fight all access attempts by law enforcement, including court ordered subpoenas.
  • MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch allow uploads, so forensic kits, meaning kits from deceased remains or rape kits could be uploaded to search for matches, the same as any other kit. Law Enforcement uploads violate the MyHeritage terms of service. Both Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch have special law enforcement procedures in place. All three companies have measures in place to attempt to detect unauthorized forensic uploads.
  • Family Tree DNA has provided a specific Law Enforcement protocol and guidelines for forensic uploads, here. All EU customers were opted out earlier in 2019, but all new or existing non-EU customers need to opt out if they do not want their DNA results available for matching to law enforcement kits.
  • GEDmatch was recently sold to Verogen, a DNA forensics company, with information, here. Currently GEDMatch customers are opted-out of matching for law enforcement kits, but can opt-in. Verogen, upon purchase of GEDmatch, required all users to read the terms and conditions and either accept the terms or delete their kits. Users can also delete their kits or turn off/on law enforcement matching at any time.

New Concerns

Concerns in late 2019 have focused on the potential misuse of genetic matching to potentially target subsets of individuals by despotic regimes such as has been done by China to the Uighurs.

You can read about potential risks here, here and here, along with a recent DoD memo here.

Some issues spelled out in the papers can be resolved by vendors agreeing to cryptographically sign their files when customers download. Of course, this would require that everyone, meaning all vendors, play nice in the sandbox. So far, that hasn’t happened although I would expect that the vendors accepting uploads would welcome cryptographic signatures. That pretty much leaves Ancestry and 23andMe. I hope they will step up to the plate for the good of the industry as a whole.

Relative to the concerns voiced in the papers and by the DoD, I do not wish to understate any risks. There ARE certainly risks of family members being identified via DNA testing, which is, after all, the initial purpose even though the current (and future) uses were not foreseen initially.

In most cases, the cow has already left that barn. Even if someone new chooses not to test, the critical threshold is now past to prevent identification of individuals, at least within the US and/or European diaspora communities.

I do have concerns:

  • Websites where the owners are not known in the genealogical community could be collecting uploads for clandestine purposes. “Free” sites are extremely attractive to novices who tend to forget that if you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product. Please be very cognizant and leery. Actually, just say no unless you’re positive.
  • Fearmongering and click-bait articles in general will prevent and are already causing knee-jerk reactions, causing potential testers to reject DNA testing outright, without doing any research or reading terms and conditions.
  • That Ancestry and 23andMe, the two major vendors who don’t accept uploads will refuse to add crypto-signatures to protect their customers who download files.

Every person needs to carefully make their own decisions about DNA testing and participating in sharing through third party sites.

Health

Not surprisingly, the DNA testing market space has cooled a bit this past year. This slowdown is likely due to a number of factors such as negative press and the fact that perhaps the genealogical market is becoming somewhat saturated. Although, I suspect that when vendors announce major new tools, their DNA kit sales spike accordingly.

Look at it this way, do you know any serious genealogists who haven’t DNA tested? Most are in all of the major databases, meaning Ancestry, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and GedMatch.

All of the testing companies mentioned above (except GEDmatch who is not a testing company) now have a Health offering, designed to offer existing and new customers additional value for their DNA testing dollar.

23andMe separated their genealogy and health offering years ago. Ancestry and MyHeritage now offer a Health upgrade. For existing customers, FamilyTreeDNA offers the Cadillac of health tests through Tovana.

I would guess it goes without saying here that if you really don’t want to know about potential health issues, don’t purchase these tests. The flip side is, of course, that most of the time, a genetic predisposition is nothing more and not a death sentence.

From my own perspective, I found the health tests to be informative, actionable and in some cases, they have been lifesaving for friends.

Whoever knew genealogy might save your life.

Innovative Third-Party Tools

Tools, and fads, come and go.

In the genetic genealogy space, over the years, tools have burst on the scene to disappear a few months later. However, the last few years have been won by third party tools developed by well-known and respected community members who have created tools to assist other genealogists.

As we close this decade, these are my picks of the tools that I use almost daily, have proven to be the most useful genealogically and that I feel I just “couldn’t live without.”

And yes, before you ask, some of these have a bit of a learning curve, but if you are serious about genealogy, these are all well worthwhile:

  • GedMatch – offers a wife variety of tools including triangulation, half versus fully identical segments and the ability to see who your matches also match. One of the tools I utilize regularly is segment search to see who else matches me on a specific segment, attached to an ancestor I’m researching. GedMatch, started by genealogists, has lasted more than a decade prior to the sale in December 2019.
  • Genetic Affairs – a barn-burning newcomer developed by Evert-Jan Blom in 2018 wins this years’ “Best” award from me. Genetic Affairs offers clustering, tree building between your matches even when YOU don’t have a tree. You can read more here.

2019 genetic affairs.png

Just today, Genetic Affairs released a new cluster interface with DNAPainter, example shown above.

  • DNAPainter – THE chromosome painter created by Jonny Perl just gets better and better, having added pedigree tree construction this year and other abilities. I wrote a composite instructional article, here.
  • DNAGedcom.com and Genetic.Families, affiliated with DNAAdoption.org – Rob Warthen in collaboration with others provides tools like clustering combined with triangulation. My favorite feature is the gathering of all direct ancestors of my matches’ trees at the various vendors where I’ve DNA tested which allows me to search for common surnames and locations, providing invaluable hints not otherwise available.

Promising Newcomer

  • MitoYDNA – a non-profit newcomer by folks affiliated with DNAAdoption and DNAGedcom is designed to replace YSearch and MitoSearch, both felled by the GDPR ax in 2018. This website allows people to upload their Y and mitochondrial DNA results and compare the values to each other, not just for matching, which you can do at Family Tree DNA, but also to see the values that do and don’t match and how they differ. I’ll be taking MitoYDNA for a test drive after the first of the year and will share the results with you.

The Future

What does the future hold? I almost hesitate to guess.

  • Artificial Intelligence Pedigree Chart – I think that in the not-too-distant future we’ll see the ability to provide testers with a “one and done” pedigree chart. In other words, you will test and receive at least some portion of your genealogy all tidily presented, red ribbon untied and scroll rolled out in front of you like you’re the guest on one of those genealogy TV shows.

Except it’s not a show and is a result of DNA testing, segment triangulation, trees and other tools which narrow your ancestors to only a few select possibilities.

Notice I said, “the ability to.” Just because we have the ability doesn’t mean a vendor will implement this functionality. In fact, just think about the massive businesses built upon the fact that we, as genealogists, have to SEARCH incessantly for these elusive answers. Would it be in the best interest of these companies to just GIVE you those answers when you test?

If not, then these types of answers will rest with third parties. However, there’s a hitch. Vendors generally don’t welcome third parties offering advanced tools and therefore block those tools, even though they are being used BY the customer or with their explicit authorization to massage their own data.

On the other hand, as a genealogist, I would welcome this feature with open arms – because as far as I’m concerned, the identification of that ancestor is just the first step. I get to know them by fleshing out their bones by utilizing those research records.

In fact, I’m willing to pony up to the table and I promise, oh-so-faithfully, to maintain my subscription lifelong if one of those vendors will just test me. Please, please, oh pretty-please put me to the test!

I guess you know what my New Year’s Wish is for this and upcoming years now too😊

What About You?

What do you think the high points of 2019 have been?

How about the decade?

What do you think the future holds?

Do you care to make any predictions?

Are you planning to focus on any particular goal or genealogy problem in 2020?

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

May Your Holidays Be Filled with Light and Love

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, whatever you celebrate, here’s wishing you the very best.

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May the joy of the season lift your spirits.

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May you find and celebrate your roots.

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May you illuminate the souls of others.

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May you rejoice in the timeless beauty of Nature.

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May you journey under the hand of Divine protection.

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May you always find light to guide your way home in the darkest hour.

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May you be blessed with memories to sustain you all the days of your life.

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May your heart be filled with light, peace and love.

Charting Companion Creates Easy, Quick Last-Minute Gifts

Do you need something quickly for a last-minute gift? One of my blog readers asked about printing quality genealogy charts and I have a super-easy solution. You can literally be printing charts in minutes.

Genealogy charts are perfect gifts because they are both personal and fun. Not to mention the added benefit of being very easy on the budget. I like to give family members unique gifts. 

I’m always looking for ways to integrate genealogy into the lives of my family. Many times, they are interested, just not AS interested as I am😊

Charts make great study guides for my grandkids too. We’ve incorporated ancestors as examples for their history classes many times. Revolutionary war, slavery, Mayflower, Native Americans and much more.

I’ve used Charting Companion for years, so I’d like to show you a handful of cool charts that you can create to give as gifts along with a few tools to utilize for your own genealogy, including DNA. So, you’re giving gifts and getting something helpful for yourself too.

Charting Companion is meant to be utilized “on top of” or in conjunction with genealogy software on your computer such as RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, or others. There is also a version for FamilySearch.

Getting Started

When you purchase Charting Companion, there’s a Quick Start Guide that pops right up that explains what you need to know.

Chart quick start.png

You’ll be creating your choice of 17 charts and reports in 3 clicks.

Gift Charts

Let’s take a look at some wonderful charts that make good gift options because you can print them on a standard size paper. I’d recommend higher quality 28-32 pound paper.

Ancestor Fan Chart

One of my all-time favorites is the Ancestor Fan Chart where you (or the gift recipient) is selected as the home person and appears in the middle.

chart ancestor fan.png

The colors are customizable, and you can generate this as a file or print it on your printer. You can even select the option for “embroider.”

This chart is also available as a complete circle.

I’ve done something a bit different. You’ll notice that several of my ancestors in this chart have middle names that look suspiciously like haplogroups. That’s because they are. This is a great way for me to keep track of which lines have and have not been tested.

Ancestor Fan X Chart

You can select the fan chart highlighting the X chromosome path to assist your DNA matching. I have one of these pinned to the wall by my desk.

chart ancestor x fan.png

You can read more about using these charts and the unique X inheritance path here. The fact that men only inherit an X chromosome from their mother means that your X matches only descend from a subset of your ancestors. This is EXTREMELY USEFUL information genealogically and this tool makes the common ancestor possibilities immediately visible.

This probably isn’t colorful enough to be a good gift, but it’s a great tool. I love the X fan chart!

Descendant Fan Chart

Another great gift is the Descendant Fan Chart.

chart descendant fan 2.png

In a Descendant Fan Chart, the ancestor is in the center, and all of the various descendants are displayed in the radiating circles. If I was giving this as a gift, I would make sure to select the correct number of generations for the recipient to be shown in the outer band.

There’s a handy preview option for all charts.

For both the ancestor and descendant fan charts, there’s an option to create embroidery instructions so you can have your chart embroidered on a shirt, bag or something else. I think the circle option would be absolutely stunning in the center of a quilt. (Hmmm…)

Dandelion Chart

Did you know there was such a thing as a Dandelion Chart? I didn’t.

Chart dandelion.png

I like this Dandelion chart because it shows the ancestors AND descendants of the selected ancestor in one attractive chart. It fits itself to size and it’s fun to watch the ancestors and descendants “slide” into place. I don’t know how to explain this – you’ll just have to watch.

Ancestor Chart

The Ancestor Chart allows you to select the colors, number of generations and so forth. This is what I typically think of as a pedigree chart, but this version is much more colorful. You can select which information to include in the boxes.

Chart ancestor.png

If you were going to give this chart as a gift, you would select the recipient to be the home person in the chart. You can also include photos and more.

Fractal Tree Chart

I didn’t know about Fractal Tree Charts either. This took me a minute to get used to.

chart fractal tree.png

I like this style because you can view many generations at once, with the colors helping to identify generations and who connects to whom. I really like this balanced chart.

Ancestor Book

Another wonderful gift, but one that isn’t frameable, is the Ancestor Book. You can also include your notes which would be invaluable to someone if they decided to become interested one day long in the future after your GEDCOM file is long gone.

Chart ancestor book.png

I’ve given things like this before as gifts in a 3 ring binder with a lovely family photo slid inside the clear sleeve on the front cover.

This prineted report would be wonderful to contribute to relevant libraries and archives for those of us who want to make sure our work outlives us.

Gifts for You

These next two features are gifts for you.

Mitochondrial Descendants

I want a mitochondrial DNA representative test for all of my ancestors. You don’t know what you don’t know and mitochondrial DNA has broken thought several brick walls. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise or discourage you from testing.

I would like to find a living descendant of Catharina Schaeffer (c1780-c1826) who carries her mitochondrial DNA. Shameless plug – if this is you, I have a testing scholarship with your name on it!

Using the Descendant Chart, you can select for Mitochondrial DNA, and then the number of relevant generations to show. Clearly, I can’t show you all of the generations to current without compromising living people’s privacy, but you can see that all of the people with pink (females) or blue (males) in this descendant chart carry Catharine’s mitochondrial DNA.

chart mitochondrial

Click to enlarge

The males, of course, won’t pass mitochondrial DNA on to their descendants, but the females will – to daughters and sons both – so in the current generation, males and females can both test so long as they descend from Catharina directly through all females.

If you haven’t tested your mitochondrial DNA, or you find someone to test to represent one of your ancestors, you can purchase the full sequence mitochondrial DNA test here.

I LOVE this tool.

DNA Matrix

The DNA Matrix graphically displays relationships between people who have taken DNA tests and share DNA with each other.

Chart DNA Matrix.png

The DNA Matrix only works with Family Tree Maker software, so I can’t show you with my own data because I use a different program. The hypothetical example above is provided by Charting Companion.

In a nutshell, you download your DNA matches with segment informatoin from vendors where you have tested or transferred. Charting Companion then syncs your matches file with your Family Tree Maker (FTM) file and creates a chart showing relationships between you and your matches. You must add a DNA kit event in your FTM file in advance so that the software known to link to that person.

Here’s a description page provided by Progeny Software (developer of Charting Companion) along with an instructional YouTube video here.

To obtain results for the DNA Matrix, you’ll need DNA match files (NOT your raw DNA file) from vendors. Follow the instructions provided by Charting Companion. You must test AT 23andMe and Ancestry because they don’t accept inbound transfers. You can, however, transfer to other vendors who provide additional matches and segment information after testing at either 23andMe or Ancestry.

After downloading your raw data file (not to be confused with your matches file,) you can transfer your DNA for free to FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and GedMatch. The transfer (and matching) is free at all 3 of these vendors, but the advanced tools require an unlock fee or subscription. I’ve written about how to create your own money-saving DNA Testing and Transfer Strategy here.

If you utilize the DNA Matrix, let me know what you think.

And More

There are several more charts available through Charting Companion too, but I think the one-page charts included here would make great frameable gifts. Of course, you’ll enjoy the workhorse charts and tools for your own genealogy.

You can download Charting Companion right now for $39.95 and be printing charts within a few minutes – literally.

Click here to take a look or purchase.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

Surviving the Holidays

When children are young and lives are vibrant – with Santa visiting, gifts around the tree and family arriving for festive gatherings, the holidays are wonderful.

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But that’s not the case for many people, nor is it necessarily the case for those same people later in life.

As the lights of the people in the photo of that family gathering wink out one by one, the family shrinks, especially if the family does not expand to include new members – not that anyone can be replaced. Lingering sadness often replaces joy.

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Eventually, these people who were once young and eagerly awaiting Santa and grandparents mature into people who have sustained significant loss in their lives.

I know. Not only are my parents gone, but so are my cousins and siblings. Their children are busy with far-away lives of their own, with little connection and even less in common.

Flickering holiday lights become painful reminders of what has been lost, and of the people now absent from the holiday table.

If you’re not one of those people feeling blue, it’s easy to offer well-meaning platitudes such as, “Well, focus on what you do have,” but that’s not always possible nor helpful. On the receiving end, it feels like a rebuke, a criticism and is inevitably the end of the conversation.

Unfortunately, those types of well-meaning comments only make things worse, because they, intentionally or not, infer that the person is somehow substandard, ungrateful or not trying hard enough.

That’s often as far as possible from the truth.

Some pain is hidden, not put on display for others to see. Internal family strife – marriages hanging on by a thread – painful memories of being omitted from or forgotten at the holidays.

There’s little more painful than being the only family member at a gathering to not receive a gift of some type – not because you’re unliked, but because you’re simply inconsequential – irrelevant. Forgotten. My mother always kept an “emergency gift” in the house for the situation or someone showing up with an extra guest.

No wonder people dread holidays where they feel obligated to show up, smiling, all the while making themselves vulnerable for more painful memories in the making.

For some people, these memories stack up like a hay mound, While they push them aside most of the year, unwelcome memories come rushing back in November and it wouldn’t take much to push the person over the edge. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

The political divisiveness within the US these past few years, and especially recently, regardless of which “side” of it you’re on, is brutal. Families forever divided. Worse yet, what used to be some level of politeness and decorum has pretty much disappeared as can be seen in any social media thread on FaceBook.

Those words and attacks are cumulative and hurt too.

Reading and seeing hatefulness targeted at people, things or principles that you love is further depressing – as is a steady diet served up daily of the same.

Then, there’s the literal coldness, darkness and greyness of the season. No color other than grey and white if you live in the north.

Companies make cutbacks in December, trimming the budget for the upcoming year. It’s very difficult to celebrate not knowing how you’re going to eat or make the house/car payment next year.

With all of this combined, it’s no wonder that depression and suicides increase during the holidays.

People are hurting.

What Can You Do?

How can you help or at least not make things worse for someone? Remember, people are very good at hiding the fact that they are suffering – so you may be entirely unaware of the negative impact of your comments or actions.

Historically, there has been a great deal of shame associated with mental health issues, including depression – having been viewed as a weakness, defect or character flaw. During the past few years, words derisively thrown around like “snowflake” have made things even worse. Since when did name-calling with the intention of making someone feel bad convey any benefit at all?

But guess what? It’s up to every single one of us to make a difference and assure that love wins.

Please reach out to caregivers, the elderly, people who live alone, who are disabled or live in precarious circumstances.

If this is you, and you’re the one sufferring, please read on. There’s help here – for others to be more cognizant and help for you too.

20 Things

Here are 20 things you can to do help yourself and others get through this tough time. Please feel free to share and post this article widely.

Surviving love wins.jpg

  1. Live Love – The number one thing you can do is to say and demonstrate to your family and friends that you love them. And yes, actions speak louder than words.

You never know which time will be the last time you get to do that – but inevitably, one time will be. Don’t lose the opportunity. Share love in your own way.

Surviving love.jpg

If you can’t say those exact words, that’s OK. Tell them by finding a song that represents how you feel about them and send them a link or post on their social media timeline. (Ok, maybe “You’re So Vain” is not a good idea.)

A few years ago a friend told me that this video, Humble and Kind, by Tim McGraw is how they think of me. I cried. Notice that all these years later, I still remember her kindness, what she said, my sister of heart. She will never know how much I needed that on that particular day.

My life is so blessed to have her in it, and when I feel down, I play this song and remind myself that she loves me. And how much I love her. Then, I feel better.

Music touches our souls in ways nothing else can.

2. Soften Your Words and Count to 10 – People are on edge at the holidays and sometimes say things they don’t mean. That means you and other people too. We’re all guilty on this one.

Surviving rose.jpg

Softening your words won’t hurt you one bit, may well help someone else and avoid unintentional hurt feelings.

For example, it’s probably not a good idea to refer to someone as an idiot. Even if that’s your honest opinion, it does not need to exit your mouth. Something in that vein is not going to be well received and you’ll  alienate them along with other family members, probably forever.

Don’t let frustration or anger cause you to say things that aren’t helpful. I count to 10. If that doesn’t work, I count to 10 again, more slowly, breathing deeply with each number. If that still doesn’t work, I probably need to leave, at least long enough to gain perspective. Sometimes that means forever.

Consider alternate ways to convey what you have to say that is loving, more likely to actually be “heard” and unlikely to push the listener away. “You seem really unhappy lately. I’m really concerned about you. What’s going on?” is a much more positive and caring approach than, “What’s wrong with you, you’re acting crazy?”

Can’t do that? Then silence might be a good option and less damaging than toxic words that can’t be recalled. Unfortunately, there is no rewind and it’s even easier to err on social media than in person.

At one time or another, we’ve all been on the receiving end of something like this. Hateful words really hurt.

If someone hurts you, especially repeatedly, consider several of the solutions later in this article.

3. No Manipulation – We’ve all seen it – the passive aggressive manipulator in the family.

bait

That’s bait to draw attention to themselves and to get your goat. Avoid them if possible, and if not possible, don’t bite. If they are making you angry, you’re not in control of you anymore and they are in charge. Learn to recognize this behavior so you can avoid it.

I always think of my Dad’s Hoosier farmer advice. “Never mud-wrestle with a pig ’cause you can’t win. You get muddy, the pig enjoys it and the spectators can’t tell the difference.”

Don’t take the bait.

4. Find Your Happy Place – If you’re feeling stressed, find music that you enjoy and that is calming. Make a playlist. Singing along can be downright joyful.

Surviving chill.jpg

Intentionally find an activity to calm yourself. (This excludes drinking alcohol😊)

Transport yourself to a feel-good place of beauty, even if it’s only in your own mind. The power of the mind is amazing!

5. Make Nice Noises – A customer told me about “nice noises” years ago. At first, I thought she was disingenuous, but then I realized this was actually a brilliant coping strategy in situations that can be awkward but that are NOT personally endangering or violating. Like when you get stuck beside someone you really don’t want to interact with.

Surviving nice noises.jpg

Just smile, nod, take a bite of something and make nice noises. Politics is not a “nice noise,” just in case you were wondering. Generally, neither is religion.

Conversation hint: Ask about something THEY enjoy. They will love you and it gets you off the hook for saying much at all.

6. Draw the Boundary Line – This one can be tough, but you absolutely need to.

Surviving boundary.jpg

If lecherous Uncle So-And-So intentionally grabs your behind (unless you are his wife or partner and behind-grabbing is acceptable in your relationship in that venue), all bets are off. Say what you need to say (NOT nice noises), with dignity and grace, and remove yourself from the situation, and probably the premises. Do not go where Uncle So-And-So will be in the future.

Full stop.

This occurred in my family. My (step)Dad playfully grabbed my Mom’s behind while passing behind her as she was cooking a holiday meal at the stove. She turned around with a cast iron skillet ready to wallop him, thinking it was his brother who was in the house and had inappropriately touched her in that manner in the past. She stopped herself just in time, stammering that she was sorry, she thought it was Uncle So-And-So.

My Dad knew in a heartbeat what was happening and asked my Mom directly. She affirmed. I walked in the door right about then, a teenager. Dad turned and asked me if So-And-So grabbed my behind. Startled, and not knowing what was happening, I shook my head yes.

Uncle So-And-So was in the living room. My Dad retrieved So-And-So and went outside where they had a rather noisy discussion that I desperately wanted to hear. Mom would not let me crack the kitchen window open to listen, and the bathroom window was painted shut.

Uncle So-And-So left, never to return to another family gathering.

Dad asked Mom and me why we didn’t tell him before. We explained that we didn’t realize Uncle So-And-So was doing that to each other too, feared we might not be believed nor did we want to rock the boat and cause family drama. In other words, we just wanted to get through the day. As a teenager, I was terribly embarrassed on several levels too.

If I had that to do over again, I would have dealt with this in an entirely different way, drawing a very firm boundary, and much sooner. Ah, the benefits of age and hindsight.

Mom apparently had drawn that line and thought Uncle So-And-So had violated said boundary. Of course she had no idea that he was inappropriately touching me as well or there would have been hell to pay.

Thank goodness Dad caused the situation never to occur again. HIS boundary worked.

7. Give Yourself a Mental Vacation – If your family is accepting of or makes excuses for Uncle So-And-So’s behavior or is otherwise toxic to your wellbeing, reconsider your relationship with those family members.

Hint: It’s often situations like this that underlie holiday depression surrounding loss. We grieve not only people we love and lose, but also situations and people that turn out to be different than we thought. We grieve what we thought we had along with unfulfilled possibilities. In a way, it’s the death of the living.

The “loss” should be borne by Uncle So-And-So, not you, but that may not be the case. Spend time with the people who are good to and for you.

If you need to terminate relationships, create something new for the holidays – even going someplace different entirely.

Surviving vacation.jpg

The Caribbean is nice this time of year. I could walk on the beach alone on Christmas Day without a second thought. There are much worse things that your own company on your own terms.

8. Start a new Tradition – This year, we began a new tradition and celebrated the feast day of St. Lucia to celebrate light emerging from darkness.

Surviving-labyrinth.png

Of course this speaks to the winter solstice as well. This lovely tradition is practiced in Sweden (you can see a video here) – and now in my family too.

Next year, we’ll sing as we walk the labyrinth with our candles, perhaps with lovely snow.

Surviving labyrinth 2.jpg

The labyrinth won’t always be in our family, but I hope we are creating wonderful memories while it is.

9. No Bullying – Avoid the bully and avoid being the bully. Bullying is not always physical. Learn what constitutes bullying, recognize the signs and commit to avoiding it in relationships.

Surviving bully.png

Many people don’t realize that there is a fine line between teasing someone and bullying them. Be cognizant so your well-meaning behavior doesn’t slide into something you don’t intend. Hurting others, human or animal, isn’t fun.

If you see bullying, intervene in the best way you can.

10. Be a LightWorker – Reach out to others who need assistance or can’t help themselves. Giving back is a wonderful way to elevate your spirits.

Surviving help.jpg

Someone once said, “When times of darkness arise, look for the lightworkers.”

We all have days when we need to seek the lightworkers, and other times when we can be the lightworker.

11. Pitch In – Offer to help with family holiday gatherings.

Surviving cooks.jpg

That might include cleaning in advance, decorating, cooking, having the gathering at your house, hosting the gathering at a restaurant, purchasing food, shopping or anything else to be helpful. Often the best memories aren’t as a “guest” but as an involved family member, laughing and chattering as you do things together.

12. Give of Yourself – Defocus on money and gifts. Think about gifts of time or involvement.

genealogy word grid.png

Give someone a gift of a day helping in the yard, a day helping to downsize, a lunch out together at a favorite place, their favorite meal frozen into lunch portions, a class together – something that says, “I love being with you.” For older people especially, these gifts mean the world.

Consider gifts such as pet supplies, a gift card for prescriptions or a fruit box delivery. If your loved one is a genealogist, maybe a DNA test or a subscription to a service like MyHeritage or Ancestry that can bring them pleasure every day. These types of gifts keep on giving and improve the life of the recipient throughout the year.

13. Gift Heirlooms – As you get older, consider giving heirloom items such as Christmas ornaments, jewelry, mementos and such to the next generation, along with an accompanying story, of course.

Surviving ornaments.jpg

Spread the love.

14. Practice Gratitude – Tell people why you appreciate them.

Surviving Thank you.jpg

“Aunt Susie, you always make the best pie,” or, “You’ve always been such a positive influence in the lives of my children.” You don’t know when your words may lift someone from a dark place.

15. Be a Compassionate Listener – If someone tells you they hate the holidays, there’s a reason (or two or three.)

Surviving listening.jpg

Don’t try to tell them otherwise or why they shouldn’t feel that way. Just listen and be supportive. Sometimes the question, ‘What can I do?” says it all – conveying that you care.

16. Be Kind & Share – All creatures, all the time, not just at the holidays.

Surviving kind.jpg

Need and humanity know no season.

17. Don’t Drink too much. Just look what it did to Kermit!

Surviving don't drink.jpg

Never, ever, drink and drive. Not even “just one.” You can read more here and here

So many regrets are born of celebrations gone awry. Tongues loosen, social filters are lost and reflexes while driving are impaired. Seriously, sometimes you need every second possible behind the wheel. I’ll spare you the convincing photo of my now-deceased friend’s car.

You can help by being a designated driver or calling an Uber.

18. Practice Self-Care – Cry if you need to. We all do. Then go to the gym or engage in a physical activity requiring movement to get the endorphins flowing.

Surviving self-care.jpg

Pamper yourself. Take a walk or a bath. Rub wonderfully scented lotion on your skin. Treat yourself to your favorite meal. Buy flowers, bubble bath or maybe lavender oil.

What do you really enjoy that makes you feel good?

19. Remember the Animals – Pets depend on humans, even those who neglect or abandon them. They have no choice. Animals feel confusion, fear, emotional and physical pain, coldness and hunger.

Surviving pets.jpg

Make a difference in the life of a sentient being that came to depend on someone who betrayed them and can’t help themselves.

Thousands of animals die in shelters and worse every single day. Don’t purchase pets as gifts. When the time is right, save a life – rescue an animal in dire need.

This isn’t entirely altruistic, because while you will literally save your furry friend’s life,  you will also be amply rewarded all their days an this Earth. An animal’s trust, loyalty and love is undying and will lift you up. I promise.

20. HALT Depression and Suicide

The holiday season is a really, really tough time of year. People we think of as strong are fragile. We, as humans, are all more or less fragile all of the time.

Surviving cliff edge.jpg

Depression is the darkest of places, with no light, hope or escape. It’s like descending into the cave of doom entirely alone.

People who commit suicide don’t necessarily want to die, they just want the pain to stop. People who consider suicide feel like there is no other viable way to relieve their pain.

They often feel like no one cares or that people may care, but they are beyond or unworthy of saving. They feel that the situation in which they find themselves is both devoid of hope and irreversible.

If this is you, on the cliff edge – HALT.

Surviving HALT.png

HALT reminds us to take a deep breath, a step back and ask ourselves if we are feeling too:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

It’s very easy to get spun up and upset about something and these 4 factors cause our emotions to spiral out of control.

Depression is a black, devastating hellhole – but, please, don’t do anything that can’t be undone. Instead:

  • Eat something
  • Walk, run, go to the gym or someplace to release anger or pain in a non-damaging way. (My friend calls me the weed terrorist because I weed the garden when I’m upset.)
  • Talk to a friend, suicide helpline or just go someplace to be among people.
  • Go to bed or take a nap.

Pretty much everything looks better in the morning.

If you’re considering harming yourself, or you know someone who is, please reach out and seek help. You and they are not alone.

It’s better to be “nosey” and wrong than right and too late.

Suicide Prevention Resources

Suicide Prevention Helpline – 800-273-8255 (veterans press 1)

Text – 741741

1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-784-2433

LGBTQ Suicide Hotline (Trevor Project) – 1-866-488-7386

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) lists resources, lifelines and crisis centers worldwide

Deaf Hotline – 1-800-799-4TTY

Facebook groups:

Surviving Facebook help.png

Please share this article widely. You just never know who could use a little help.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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Triangulation in Action at MyHeritage

Recently, I published the article, Hitting a Genealogy Home Run Using Your Double-Sided Two-Faced Chromosomes While Avoiding Imposters. The “Home Run” article explains why you want to use a chromosome browser, what you’re seeing and what it means to you.

This article, and the rest in the “Triangulation in Action” series introduces triangulation at FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, GedMatch and DNAPainter, explaining how to use triangulation to confirm descent from a common ancestor. You may want to read the introductory article first.

This first section, “What is Triangulation” is a generic tutorial. If you don’t need the tutorial, skip to the “Triangulation at MyHeritage” section.

What is Triangulation?

Think of triangulation as a three-legged stool – a triangle. Triangulation requires three things:

  1. At least three (not closely related) people must match
  2. On the same reasonably sized segment of DNA and
  3. Descend from a common ancestor

Triangulation is the foundation of confirming descent from a common ancestor, and thereby assigning a specific segment to that ancestor. Without triangulation, you might just have a match to someone else by chance. You can confirm mathematical triangulation, numbers 1 and 2, above, without knowing the identity of the common ancestor.

Reasonably sized segments are generally considered to be 7cM or above on chromosomes 1-22 and 15cM or above for the X chromosome.

Boundaries

Triangulation means that all three, or more, people much match on a common segment. However, what you’re likely to see is that some people don’t match on the entire segment, meaning more or less than others as demonstrated in the following examples.

FTDNA Triangulation boundaries

You can see that I match 5 different cousins who I know descend from my father’s side on chromosome 15 above. “I” am the grey background against which everyone else is being compared.

I triangulate with these matches in different ways, forming multiple triangulation groups that I’ve discussed individually, below.

Triangulation Group 1

FTDNA triangulation 1

Group 1 – On the left group of matches, above, I triangulate with the blue, red and orange person on the amount of DNA that is common between all of them, shown in the black box. This is triangulation group 1.

Triangulation Group 2

FTDNA triangulation 2

Group 2 – However, if you look just at the blue and orange triangulated matches bracketed in green, I triangulate on slightly more. This group excludes the red person because their beginning point is not the same, or even close. This is triangulation group 2.

Triangulation Group 3 and 4

FTDNA triang 3

Group 3 – In the right group of matches, there are two large triangulation groups. Triangulation group 3 includes the common portions of blue, red, teal and orange matches.

Group 4 – Triangulation group 4 is the skinny group at right and includes the common portion of the blue, teal and dark blue matches.

Triangulation Groups 5 and 6

FTDNA triang 5

Group 5 – There are also two more triangulation groups. The larger green bracketed group includes only the blue and teal people because their end locations are to the right of the end locations of the red and orange matches. This is triangulation group 5.

Group 6 – The smaller green bracketed group includes only the blue and teal person because their start locations are before the dark blue person. This is triangulation group 6.

There’s actually one more triangulation group. Can you see it?

Triangulation Group 7

FTDNA triang 7

Group 7 – The tan group includes the red, teal and orange matches but only the areas where they all overlap. This excludes the top blue match because their start location is different. Triangulation group 7 only extends to the end of the red and orange matches, because those are the same locations, while the teal match extends further to the right. That extension is excluded, of course.

Slight Variations

Matches with only slight start and end differences are probably descended from the same ancestor, but we can’t say that for sure (at this point) so we only include actual mathematically matching segments in a triangulation group.

You can see that triangulation groups often overlap because group members share more or less DNA with each other. Normally we don’t bother to number the groups – we just look at the alignment. I numbered them for illustration purposes.

Shared or In-Common-With Matching

Triangulation is not the same thing as a 3-way shared “in-common-with” match. You may share DNA with those two people, but on entirely different segments from entirely different ancestors. If those other two people match each other, it can be on a segment where you don’t match either of them, and thanks to an ancestor that they share who isn’t in your line at all. Shared matches are a great hint, especially in addition to other information, but shared matches don’t necessarily mean triangulation although it’s a great place to start looking.

I have shared matches where I match one person on my maternal side, one on my paternal side, and they match each other through a completely different ancestor on an entirely different segment. However, we don’t triangulate because we don’t all match each other on the SAME segment of DNA. Yes, it can be confusing.

Just remember, each of your segments, and matches, has its own individual history.

Imputation Can Affect Matching

Over the years the chips on which our DNA is processed at the vendors have changed. Each new generation of chips tests a different number of markers, and sometimes different markers – with the overlaps between the entire suite of chips being less than optimal.

I can verify that most vendors use imputation to level the playing field, and even though two vendors have never verified that fact, I’m relatively certain that they all do. That’s the only way they could match to their own prior “only somewhat compatible” chip versions.

The net-net of this is that you may see some differences in matching segments at different vendors, even when you’re comparing the same people. Imputation generally “fills in the blanks,” but doesn’t create large swatches of non-existent DNA. I wrote about the concept of imputation here.

What I’d like for you to take away from this discussion is to be focused on the big picture – if and how people triangulate which is the function important to genealogy. Not if the start and end segments are exactly the same.

Triangulation Solutions

Each of the major vendors, except Ancestry who does not have a chromosome browser, offers some type of triangulation solution, so let’s look at what each vendor offers. If your Ancestry matches have uploaded to GedMatch, Family Tree DNA or MyHeritage, you can triangulate with them there. Otherwise, you can’t triangulate Ancestry results, so encourage your Ancestry matches to transfer.

I wrote more specifically about triangulation here and here.

Let’s start by looking at triangulation at MyHeritage.

Triangulation at MyHeritage

MyHeritage offers triangulation integrated into their chromosome browser.

Triangulation MyHeritage matches.png

At MyHeritage, select DNA Matches from the DNA dropdown menu, then click on the purple “Review DNA Match” of the person you want to compare. We re looking at my cousin, Cheryl F.

Triangulation MyHeritage review.png

When reviewing my DNA match with Cheryl, I can see the list of people that Cheryl and I both match, including my mother, first on the list. In addition to my mother’s relationship to me, I can also see an estimate of how closely my mother matches the other person – in this case, Cheryl. Cheryl is my mother’s first cousin (1C) and my first cousin, once removed (1C1R.)

Triangulation MyHeritage icon

Click to enlarge

For triangulation, the important image is the little purple icon at right, above.

Clicking on the purple triangulation icon shows the segments where Cheryl, my mother and I all three match and triangulate.

Finding my mother among Cheryl’s close matches tells me immediately which parent I share with Cheryl.

The areas on the chromosome browser below in the rounded squares are triangulated, meaning that I match Cheryl and the other person (who just happens to be my mother) on that same segment.

Triangulation MyHeritage browser.png

Showing triangulation with Cheryl and my mother provides a great example, because of course I triangulate with Cheryl and my mother on every segment where I match Cheryl – because I inherited all of those segments through my mother.

However, as far as triangulation goes, the fact that two of those people are closely related, me and my mother, makes it the same as only two people matching – Mom and Cheryl. Still, since Mom and Cheryl are first cousins, that match confirms my great-grandparents.

Cheryl carries pieces of my great-grandparent’s DNA that my mother doesn’t though, so matches in common with Cheryl may prove very genealogically useful.

At the top right of this chromosome browser page, I can “add or remove DNA matches” from my match list. I can look through my match list to find another close relative to see if they triangulate or I can download my match list to see who else matches me on that same segment. Instructions for the file download are at the end of this section.

Same Segment Matches

To illustrate that people will match you on the same segment, but don’t match each other because they descend from different sides of your family, I’ll add some cousins from my father’s side of the family.

I’m going to select cousins Charlene and David, and remove my mother.

Below, we show chromosome 3 again, but the triangulation bracket is gone. This tells us that this segment does NOT triangulate between me and ALL three people.

Please note that I may triangulate with some of the people. The absence of the bracket only means that I don’t triangulate with ALL of them.

I already know that while I match Cheryl, Charlene and David on this segment, only David and Charlene match each other because they are both from my father’s side, and Cheryl doesn’t match either of them because she is on my mother’s side.

Triangulation MyHeritage segments

Click to enlarge

To prove this, and to determine triangulation groups, I can compare the people two by two and continue adding people to see if they continue to triangulate.

Below, I’ve removed Cheryl, and I triangulate on chromosome 3 with both Charlene and David. The triangulation bracket appears.

Triangulation MyHeritage chromosome 3

Click to enlarge

Therefore, I know that Charlene and David descend through one of my parents, and Cheryl through the other – even if I didn’t know anything else at this point.

To reiterate, triangulation at MyHeritage means triangulation with everyone showing at the same time on the chromosome browser.

Other Resources to Identify Common Ancestors

For additional information, I can check the match information with each person to see if our trees, surnames or locations intersect.

SmartMatches and Theories of Family Relativity each provide clues and help to explain why we might triangulate.

SmartMatches tell you that you and another person share an ancestor in your and their tree, BUT, that common person may not be a direct ancestor of one or both of you. You also may or may not be DNA matches, and if so, your DNA match may or may not be through that ancestor.

Theories of Family Relativity (TOFR,) on the other hand, tell you that not only do you have a DNA match with this person, but that you have a common ancestor, and who that ancestor is. Sometimes the connection is made for you, even if one or both of you don’t show that ancestor in your tree simply because you have not extended your tree back far enough in time.

I wrote about how to use Theories of Family Relativity here.

Downloading Matches

You can request to download your matches list and also your shared DNA segments at MyHeritage by clicking on the three dots to the right at the top of your match list, then click on the option you wish. The resulting files will be e-mailed to you a few minutes later. If they don’t arrive, be sure to check your spam filter.

Triangulation MyHeritage export.png

Downloading your match list and/or shared DNA segments is NOT the same thing as downloading your raw data file to upload elsewhere. You’ll find those instructions in the Transfer section later in this article.

What About You?

Do you have a tree at MyHeritage?

Triangulation MyHeritage tree tab.png

If not, click on Family Tree to create or upload one including not only direct line ancestors, but their children and grandchildren which facilitates and encourages the formation of Theories of Family Relativity.

Connecting Your DNA to Your Tree

Assigning your kit and those of family members to the proper profile card in your tree is very important, especially for the formation of Theories of Family Relativity

To suggest a theory, MyHeritage searches through all the possible links in the MyHeritage database meaning SmartMatches between trees, Record matches, record to record matches, etc.

If a DNA kit is not associated with an individual that is connected to ancestors, this reduces the probability that MyHeritage will be able to find a theory.

For example, if I took a DNA test but only have myself in the tree, not connected to my father and mother, but my father appears in another user’s tree (and there are more ancestors in that tree) MyHeritage won’t be able to find the information to generate a theory.

If I add my father, then the system has a common ancestor to work with.

When the TOFR algorithm runs, it’s trying to find any possible route to connect the two individuals (you and your DNA Match). If you are associated with individuals in multiple sites or trees, MyHeritage will try all of them and generate multiple paths for you to evaluate.

Have you assigned the kits of family members you manage to the proper place in your tree?

Triangulation MyHeritage tree.png

You can do this easily under the Manage DNA Kits option, under the DNA tab. Click on the three little dots to the right of the kit.

Triangulation MyHeritage assign dots.png

Then click assign the kit.

Triangulation MyHeritage assign kit.png

You’ll be prompted

Triangulation MyHeritage kit name.png

If you start typing, you’ll be prompted with the names of people in your tree.

Other Resources to Identify Common Ancestors

MyHeritage includes other tools to help you identify common ancestors as well, including:

  • SmartMatches where MyHeritage matches individuals in trees
  • AutoClusters showing groups of people that match you and each other
  • Shared Matches indicating common DNA matches between you and another DNA match
  • Shared Ancestral Surnames show common surnames, even if a common ancestor does not show in a tree
  • Shared Ancestral Places indicating common locations in trees
  • Shared Ethnicities comparing ethnicity between matches, a feature typically only beneficial if looking for a minority (to you) ancestry match
  • Genealogical Records including matches from other databases such as Geni.com and FamilySearch
  • Trees

Transfers

Have you tested family members, especially everyone in the older generations? You can transfer their kits from Ancestry, 23andMe or FamilyTreeDNA if they’ve already tested there to MyHeritage.

The article, Are You DNA Testing the Right People? explains how to determine who to test. Make sure you aren’t missing anyone that you need.

Here’s how to transfer:

I wrote recently about how to work with triangulation at FamilyTreeDNA. Join me soon for similar articles about how to work with triangulation at 23andMe, GedMatch and DNAPainter.

Most of all – have fun!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

GeneaCreations – Unique Genealogy & DNA Products: Shirts, Fabric, Jewelry & More

These beautiful, unique genealogy gift ideas by GeneaCreations will be a big hit with the creative crowd.

GeneaCreations logo.png

I met Jeanette, founder of GeneaCreations, two years ago at Rootstech. Jeanette loves to design, create and sell wonderful genealogy themed items and suffice it to say, I cannot get out of her booth without purchasing several things. I’m serious.

Meet Jeanette, holding my “What’s Your Haplogroup?” t-shirt. Her love for her creations just shines through, doesn’t it!

Geneacreations shirt

I also bought a DNA ribbon bow for my hair.

Geneacreations ribbon

DNA ribbon, along with other ribbon is available by the yard.

GeneaCreations ribbon.jpg

I can think of all kinds of ideas for using this ribbon, including making Christmas ornaments or for hanging ornaments on the tree. What a great way to help kids learn about ancestors. I try to slip that in wherever I can (wink.)

Geneacreations jewelry

I bought a DNA necklace at Rootstech too. How could I not? Love that subtle double helix tree.

I’m really REALLY excited about the double helix charm zipper pulls that Jeanette is making for me for my purse, backpack and luggage. (Oops, did I let that slip???) She would probably make some for you too.

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Jeanette has added lots of new styles to the GeneaCreations line over the past couple of years,  including double helix stud earrings, not pictured, if you prefer that style.

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Another great idea would be to purchase a charm for every state where your ancestors were from, or states you’ve visited hunting for ancestors. It would make a wonderful gift for a daughter, sister, aunt or granddaughter too.

Jeannette also does custom work, like her “Genealogy Bling” shirts. I just adore these.

GeneaCreations haplogroup shirt.png

You’ll be seeing me sporting one of these lovelies one day at Rootstech 2020 in Salt Lake City, but of course customized for my mitochondrial haplogroup, J1c2f. Merry Christmas to me.

If you’re not comfortable buying a gift for yourself, just think of it as being from your matrilineal ancestors, because that’s the mitochondrial DNA inheritance path. Or paternal ancestors for Y DNA. Repeat after me, “My ancestors want me to have this.”😊

You can obtain your full mitochondrial or Y DNA haplogroup (Y chromosome for males only) at Family Tree DNA.  Those tests are also on sale now, here.

Jeanette will customize this Mayflower shirt with your Mayflower ancestor’s name.

GeneaCreations Mayflower.png

Shirts are available in a wide variety of styles and colors.

GeneaCreations offers printed shirt styles if bling isn’t your thing. These are wonderful for family reunions.

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For quilters and crafty genealogists, you can purchase pedigree chart fabric which can be made into quilts, vests and wearable art.

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Don’t want to make something? How about a ready-made tote – just use a quilter’s fabric pen to fill in your ancestors’ names. (I’d use a pencil first, lightly, and retrace with the pen.) What a great gift idea for a genealogy buddy. Genealogists never have enough canvas bags. Trust me.

GeneaCreations denim shirt.png

This year at Rootstech, I bought a denim shirt from GeneaCreations. I love these for when you need something lighter than a sweater or want something that washes up easily. They’re durable and travel wonderfully. I wear these on planes all the time.

GeneaCreations designs.png

There are lots of genealogy embroidery designs to choose from – more than are shown here.

Here’s just a sampling of the design categories that Jeanette offers:

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Cartoon
  • Civil War
  • Genealogy
  • Organizations
  • Religious
  • Vehicles
  • Winter

There is literally something for everyone.

DNA Fabric

I saved the best for last, because Jeanette JUST ADDED her brand-new DNA electrophoresis fabric through Spoonflower, here. This geeky-cool fabric is what your DNA looks like as it’s processing in the lab.

GeneaCreations fabric.png

You can order this lovely cotton fabric for quilting or sewing, or you can purchase it in different kinds of fabric or as wallpaper, wrapping paper or ready-made home décor items.

GeneaCreations DNA fabric home.png

This DNA fabric must be purchased directly through Spoonflower, but I received an unlock code discount for signing up at Spoonflower in addition to free shipping because it’s December.

I’m not going to spill any beans, but you might, just might see this fabric again😊

Free Shipping

GeneaCreations is a small business and her website shopping cart doesn’t have the ability to process coupons or discount codes, but, if you e-mail your order to Jeanette directly and tell her that you ordered because of this article, she will either not charge shipping, or refund shipping if you order through the website.

You can reach Jeannette at customheirlooms@yahoo.com

Enjoy!

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

John Estes Goes to Jail – 52 Ancestors #265

Estes jail Claiborne.png

I wasn’t even looking for John Estes – either one of them. There were two, of course, living in Claiborne County at the same time, both my ancestors. This couldn’t be simple, could it?

I was reading the unindexed court notes page by page, from 1829-1842, 13 long and miserable years, looking for the deaths of or details about 3 ancestors who, it turns out, died between 1833 and 1840. As luck would have it, they are all twisted into this story kind of like a kudzu vine – because these families were all near neighbors in Claiborne County, Tennessee and intermarried.

And there was drama…so much drama.

John Campbell died in September of 1838. About 1795, he had married Jane Dobkins, the daughter of Jacob Dobkins who died in March of 1833.

I actually started reading the Claiborne County court notes searching for information about John Campbell and Jane Dobkins’s other daughter, Jane Campbell, who married Johnson Freeman – then got divorced – unheard of in that day and time. Whoo doggies, that’s some story and will get an article all to itself.

John Campbell and Jane Dobkins’ daughter, Elizabeth Campbell, had married Lazarus Dodson about 1820, but predeceased her father, John Campbell, sometime before 1830.

When John Campbell died in 1838, a guardian was appointed for Elizabeth Campbell Dodson’s children because they had an inheritance from their grandfather. Yes, their father Lazarus Dodson was still living. I thought for years that he had died, but he hadn’t. The court records never say “deceased” after his name and I found him later, remarried and living elsewhere. Subsequent court records indicate specifically that the Dodson children inherited through “Elizabeth Campbell, deceased.”

No, I don’t know why Lazarus Dodson wasn’t appointed guardian, but I’d wager it had something to do with the ever-present drama in this extended family. I suspect because those children were being raised by their grandmother, Jane Dobkins Campbell. Several of Elizabeth Campbell Dodson’s children married spouses who lived near the Campbells on Little Sycamore, adjacent the Liberty Church today. You can’t marry who you don’t see to court.

Estes jail Liberty to Cumberland.png

Their father, Lazarus Dodson lived several miles north near Cumberland Gap.

The Receipt

John Y. Estes, born in 1818, married Rutha (Ruthy) Dodson, daughter of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell on March 1st, 1841 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Rutha was also a legatee of her grandfather’s estate and in fact, on September 5, 1842, John Estes signed a receipt for $54.35 for receiving money from her guardian. He signed at the same time that he received $1.50 rent from that estate for 1841, and also acknowledged the balance still owed was $56.61.

Back then, that was a LOT, LOT, LOT of money. Enough to purchase a farm – but John didn’t. In the 1850 census John and Rutha are listed as living beside William Devenport and in 1851 a deed is conveyed between land owners noting that William Devenport and John Estes live on that land – but neither were owners.

There’s something else odd about that 1850 census. John and Rutha were married for 9 years and had only one child, Lazarus, age 2. There should have been roughly 4 children by this time. Yes, death was a constant companion, but there might have been something more.

This receipt is important, but I’m getting ahead of my own story.

Let’s step back in time.

Two John Esteses

John R. Estes (1787-1885) and wife, Nancy Ann Moore left Halifax County, Virginia about 1820 when their son, John Y. Estes, was about 2 years old. John R. Estes had served in the War of 1812.

In Claiborne County, in 1826, John R. Estes made a land entry, but appeared to sell the entry after it was surveyed but before it was completed.

In 1850, John R. Estes is listed as a shoemaker with no land, and in 1860, a miller with no land.

John applied for bounty land from his 1812 service in 1850, but apparently sold that land claim to his son George who moved to Missouri. He sold a second claim some years later too.

To the best of my knowledge, John R. Estes never owned land. He lived very near or perhaps even beside John Campbell along Little Sycamore Creek.

John appeared to live a pretty quiet life. He’s never in the court records as a juror, because jurors are required, among other things, to own land. But of note, he’s also never found in the court records for anything else either – although the Claiborne County notes are incomplete.

John, like his father, George Estes, lived to be a very, very old man. John died in 1885 at approximately 98 years of age.

In 1842, John R. Estes would have been about 55 years old. His son, John Y. Estes would have been 23, turning 24 that December.

Court Minutes

When I read court notes at FamilySearch, which I try NOT to do very often, I read for any of my family names of course.

I thought that I had already told the story of both John Esteses and frankly, I didn’t expect to find anything more than a footnote to add to their existing articles, if that.

Sometimes I peruse court notes late at night. They are calming, so calming, in fact that often they put me to sleep.

With the political drama the past few months in our own lives, sometimes I need that. I was well into year 13, thousands of pages already read, nodding off that evening, trying to keep my eyelids open.

Suddenly, I glimpsed something that woke me right up.

John Estes’ name in the court notes.

I shook sleep off and started back at the beginning of that page again. It wasn’t a typical entry which formed a predictable pattern.

No, this was something different.

October 3, 1842

Estes jail 1842.png

Alexander Fullington jailor for Claiborne County be allowed the following sums for the following purposes to wit: the State vs John Hodge $32.50 for 76 days board and 4 turn key. The State versus Thomas Ursery(?) $32.87/2 for 85 days board and 2 turn keys. Also the State vs John Estes for $36 for board and turn keys and that he have ticket to the county trustee for the same.

What? John Estes in jail?

If Alexander Fullington is being paid for these prisoners, where was the trial in the court notes? Had I missed it?

These court notes seem to be mostly civil suits and domestic things like road orders and maintenance combined with sporadic estate settlements. Although some trials are mentioned, that only seems to happen when a jury was called.

Noticeably absent are criminal prosecutions. But something had obviously occurred, because the jailor obviously petitioned for reimbursement. So did other county officials, regularly, in this court.

Not all “state” (versus civil) cases say why the person is being tried, but the few I’ve found that do during this timeframe are mostly for lewdness and one for usery. Lewdness, by definition in the legal documentation of the day pertains, for lack of a better description, to sexual relations between a man and woman outside of marriage.

My next thought was maybe that John wasn’t actually IN jail. The record states the number of days for the other men, but given that John’s amount is MORE than the other 2 men, that’s unlikely. Why else would the jailor be petitioning for reimbursement if John wasn’t IN jail. So much for that idea.

How long was John Estes in the clink for? John Hodge’s cost per day was 43 cents and Thomas Ursery was 39 cents. But Hodge had more turnkeys than did Ursery. Did turnkeys cost extra, and what was a turnkey anyway?

Research into other cases about this time tells us that Fullington was allowed 50 cents per turnkey, so we need to reduce the total by that amount to obtain the daily board rate per prisoner.

I googled for turnkeys, but the best I could find was that a turnkey was the person, or guard, who literally turned the key to release prisoners. Reading other Claiborne County records, I determined that the number of turnkeys related to the number of times the person was removed to be taken to court. I’m unclear whether the final turnkey is the last time the door was opened, meaning the time they were released.

Using the 38.5 cents average amount per day for lodging, minus turnkeys, John Estes probably served about 94 days.

The Margin Note

But then, there’s a pesky margin note that says the following:

“ticket 2nd for Estes amt $36 6 Octr 1842”

Three days later, the court added the second ticket to this same note. Oh boy.

Which suggests that there is ANOTHER ticket for John Estes – for ANOTHER 94 days.

Was that two of the same offense, or two separate offenses?

This means that John spent roughly 6 months in jail during 1842. But was John’s jail time actually during 1842?

I looked back at the other entries for Alexander Fullington in the court minutes and discovered that he submitted tickets for payment regularly: April 1841, July 1841, October 1841, January 1842, April 1842 and July 1842.

If John Estes had completed his sentence by July 1842, probably either of them, Fullington would have submitted his claim by then. This tells us that very likely, John Estes was in jail from about April 1842 until about October 1842. If I’ve misunderstood this note and there was only one sentence for 94 days, it still tells us that John got out of jail sometime between July and October 1842, given that Alexander apparently submitted his bills every 3 months.

Jail Time

What was jail like during that time? In some cases, jails were actually enclosed areas, or yards, in which prisoners were confined and trusted not to step over the line.

Was that the kind of jail John was in?

Nope – this was John’s jail.

Estes jail Claiborne distance

By Brian Stansberry – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40340005

The old Claiborne County jail, built in 1819 was in use until 1931. Yep, it’s this building where John Estes spent roughly six months of his life.

The National Register of Historic places provides the following information:

Built in 1819 the jail is composed of stone on the first story and brick on the second story. The jail also features metal grating over the window and door openings.

The two-story jail is rectangular in shape, with a front gable roof. The entrance faces west towards the highway. The gable ends of the jail are twenty-six feet across. The sides of the building (north and south) are thirty-two feet long. The first level is constructed of cut limestone rocks and mortar. The walls are eighteen inches thick, with the length of individual stones measuring up to five feet. The roof is covered with metal and a brick chimney rises from the peak on the west half of the building.

The west façade features a central entrance to the building that measures two feet wide and six and one-half feet tall. The door on this entrance is of a grate design, consisting of two-and-one-half inch bands of metal running horizontally and vertically within a metal frame. A rounded bolt head protrudes at each juncture of metal bands. This metal grate is an original feature. The second story of the jail is brick laid in common bond. In the center of the second story is a door-sized opening, enclosed with vertical board shutters. A circular vent opening with a metal “X” grate is located in the peak of the gable.

The north and the south elevations of the jail each have four window openings, two on each floor. Each opening is covered with a framed metal grate matching the front door, and vertical board shutters. Some of the grates are original, and some are (historic) replacements. These openings measure two feet wide and between four and six feet tall. A couple of the shutter boards have become detached and currently lean against the building. Large metal bolts protrude from the brick walls in the back two-thirds of the second story. The east (or back) elevation of the jail is solid stone across the lower level; the brick second level has one window with an original metal grate covering and vertical shutter boards. A circular vent, matching the design of that in the front gable, is located at the top of the east gable. A short, brick chimney rises from the metal roof at approximately one-third of the distance from the front of the jail.

At the jail’s entrance, one step leads down into the front portion on the first floor, with a stairway on the south wall. This portion of the building is ten and one-half feet deep, or approximately one-third of the building’s depth. The floor of this section is brick, and the walls of this room are of mortared, cut limestone.

A door-less opening leads to a larger back room. To the north of this doorway, a fireplace has been removed, but its flue is still intact. The back room historically consisted of a central hall flanked by smaller units to each side. Local historian Mary A. Hansard wrote in 1979 that the jail had “a large stack chimney in the center, with two fireplaces on the lower floor and two on the upper floor. There were two rooms on the first floor. One was used as a kitchen and dining room, and the other as a dungeon in which to confine criminals.

Hansard wrote that “[t]here were three apartments on the second floor, all nicely plastered.”

As on ground level, the individual rooms of the second floor have been removed. The back, larger portion of the second floor is open. Local historian Alexander Moore Cloud noted that the jail was built with double walls. “The inside walls were of wood while the outer walls were made of stone.”

Some of the original interior wood siding remains; vertical slats of wood still hang on the east and west walls of the rear section on the second floor. The metal bolts visible on the exterior, protruding from the north and south elevations, can be seen on the interior walls. These bolts were installed for reinforcement of the jail’s security; as explained by a descendant of Josiah Ramsey, a member of the committee that undertook the building of the jail, the bolts held wood siding to the interior of the brick walls, preventing prisoners from chipping out the mortar. As noted previously, the north and south walls have two windows with original metal grid coverings. The original wood floor remains. The ceiling is open, revealing exposed rafters and the under side of the metal roof.

According to early records of the Claiborne County Court, debt was one of the most common offenses. Debt, and other non-violent offenses, drew the punishment of lashing at the county whipping post, which was located between the jail and the courthouse and consisted of a yoke, similar to an oxen harness.

The county jail contained a room, eighteen square feet in size, specifically for debtors; it was one of the units on the second floor. There, the sheriff held people who made no attempt to resolve their indebtedness. It was the sheriff’s responsibility to take debtors, two at a time, from the jail to the post for whipping until they promised to find work that would pay off their debts. Crimes of assault and battery also appeared frequently; legal disputes between individuals were also common. Trespass, libel, and murder were rare charges. A more serious crime, such as horse theft, was punishable by branding (“H.T.” on the thumb), practiced as late as 1822. The court frequently listened to cases of “bastardy,” an offense, assumingly by a male, of fathering a child and refusing to support that child.

During the period between from the 1830s to the Civil War, very little specific reference to the county jail exists other than that it was, of course, in use.

Estes jail Claiborne side.png

The court records a page or so after John’s mention give us a rare glimpse when the jailer asked for repairs including an iron door’s hinges to be fixed, handcuffs, etc.

Estes jail 1842 jailer.png

Report of the ail commissioners to with: We the commissioners of the jail of the town of Tazewell report to your worships now in session do say that the jailer so far as he is concerned has done his duty for we have examined the jail from time to time when the prisoners were in jail and making great complaints against the jaelor but when we examined into the matter we always found that the prisoners got a plenty to eat and drink as the law directs.

Estes jail 1842 jailer 2.png

And further we report that the jail ought in our opinion to be repaired as follows to wit:

First the meddle door ought to be hung and made sufficiently strong so that when any of them transgress to put them back into the dungen and keep them there till they do better.

Estes jail door.png

Here’s that metal door that clanged shut behind John Estes.

Further we believe it would be better to have the inside bord seasoned oak plank one inch thick and tong and groved together this ought to be done on the floore as well as the wall and furthermore we wish the court to appoint 5 commissioners to superintend? the work and let it out to ? able persons that will have the work done in proper manner so that the jail will be secure this 4th day of October 1842.

Jail would be glum in the best of circumstances. Obviously, it’s meant to be punitive, a place to be avoided.

Estes jail Claiborne inside.png

Jimmy Emmerson took these two photos of the inside of the Claiborne County jail, making them available, here. Thanks Jimmy.

This would have been John’s view of the world, every day for 6 months – and that’s IF he wasn’t in the dungeon.

Estes jail Claiborne inside 2.png

I wonder if John was one of those “residents” complaining about the jailor and conditions. It makes me wonder since this entry in the court record occurred immediately after the request for reimbursement for board for John and two other prisoners.

Estes jail front.png

The local newspaper reports that at least some hangings were carried out from the upper window, here, although I have my doubts.

Joe Payne writes about the jail here, with some interesting old photos.

Fullington’s Records

I read Alexander Fullington’s submissions for payment to the court with the hope of obtaining enlightenment into cases during that timeframe.

Monday April 5, 1841 – ordered by the court that Claiborne County pay to Alexander Fullington the following state claims for turnkey and board as jailer to wit:

  • State vs Benjamin Young $13.36
  • State vs Edward Slavens $5.50
  • State vs Obediah Norris $15.37/5
  • State vs Jas Asberry $24.87/5
  • State vs Thomas Cox and wife $7.62/5

July 5, 1841 voted that Fullington be allowed:

  • Sum of $1 for 2 turn keys receiving to jail Ruth Collins

October 1, 1841 Alexander Fullington allowed for keeping:

  • Azariah Watson in jail 83 days and two turn keys the sum of $33.12/5
  • John Hodge in jail 7 days two turn keys/holter chain and steeple the sum of $5.62/5

I could not determine what a holter chain and steeple was, but I’m wagering it was a restraint.

January 3, 1842 Fullington allowed the following fees:

  • Jessie Lyndsey in jail 36 days and turn key $17.50
  • Ruth Collins ditto and turn keys $19.75
  • Ditto Zachariah Hicks 7 days and 2 turn keys $3.62/5

April 4, 1842 – Fullington allowed:

  • Ruth Collins, 2 turnkeys – $1

Ruth seems to have been a frequent flyer.

July 4, 1842 – Fullington allowed:

  • Azariah Watson – ludeness
  • Steven Ouseley – usery
  • Burdren Bussell and Sarah Baltrip – ludeness – 41 days in jail $53.79 and 6 turn keys
  • Jacob Pike and Elizabeth David in jail 9 days $3.57/5 and 8 turn keys 4.00 – acquitted

October 4, 1842 Fullington allowed:

  • 103 days boarding Sarah Nunn in jail @ 2/3 2 turnkeys @3 – $39.62
  • Bartley (or Barthey) Nunn in jail 60 days at 2/3 and 2 turn key @3 – $23.50
  • Veyena (or Verena) Nunn 67 days at 2/3 2 turn key at $3 – $26.12/5

This tells us that Fullington is allowed 50 cents per turnkey.

I sure wish they had recorded their crimes.

Why was John in Jail for 180+ days?

I wish I knew.

Most of the cases, above, don’t have a corresponding trial record, nor do we have a crime listed with Fullington’s report. The very best I can do is to note that during this timeframe, there are only two crimes found.

Usery, which is an illegal form of lending. John clearly wasn’t doing that.

The only other specific crime is lewdness which, as I understand it, requires two people.

It’s unlikely, especially given that John was married, that he was engaged in lewdness with a woman not his wife. Furthermore, there is no corresponding female being prosecuted.

If couples married in a situation where the female became pregnant, it doesn’t appear that they were prosecuted for lewdness.

These court notes are more concerned with running the county – in other words, paying the jailer. I have to wonder if there is another set of court records someplace, then or now, that we’re missing.

Which Doggone John?

Do we have ANY clues at all as to which John might have been in jail?

It’s possible.

Let’s look at their history. John R. Estes was older, 55 years of age, and had never, to the best of my knowledge, been in trouble before.

John Y. Estes was young and his life seems to have been somewhat troubled.

Unlike other young men, John never bought land.

In the 1860s, John volunteered for the Confederacy. It’s unclear how he wound up in the hands of the north, but he did after being reported as a deserter.

Most of the soldiers from Claiborne County fought for the North, but John didn’t. This would likely have driven a wedge between John and his wife’s family along with neighbors. Having said that, this region was clearly split over allegiances.

After his release from the Northern prison camp, John walked from Illinois back to Tennessee, only to subsequently deed all of his property to his son, Lazarus, only 17 years old and living at home with his parents. Given John’s absence, it’s quite likely that Lazarus has been shouldering the brunt of the work. John did not own land, but deeded his sheep, horse, hogs, cow, etc. to his son.

What happened next isn’t quite clear, because in 1870, John is still living with his wife and they have another baby, and another would be born 1871.

In 1879, John Y. Estes signed a deed granting two men access to create a road across his land to access the land they had just purchased from Lazarus Estes, John Y.’s son. This is the first hint that John owned land, and there are no deeds to back that up.

However, in 1880, Rutha is living with her 5 children and is noted as divorced in the census. John has walked to Texas on a bum leg, is boarding with someone, and lives the rest of his life there, dying in 1895.

John’s life seemed troubled beginning in 1842. That’s sad because it includes his entire married life to Rutha Dodson. She became disabled with arthritis the last 22 years of her life, dating to about the time John Estes left for Texas.

We find potential hints about this situation with John in the court notes having to do with the settlement of Charles Campbell’s estate relative to the Dodson children.

On July 5, 1841, Wiley Huffaker made settlement with the heirs of Lazarus Dodson and reported to the court. Generally, settlement was made once a year until the child was no longer a minor, or all of the minor children were of age.

However, the next year, we find something different.

July 6, 1842 – “That Wiley Huffaker have until next term to make settlement as guardian.”

August 1, 1842 – “Ordered that Wiley Huffaker guardian to the minor heirs of Lazarus Dodson have until the next turn of this court to make settlement as guardian.”

Was this because John Y. Estes, as Rutha’s husband was legally the recipient of her portion and was in jail?

September 5, 1842 – “For satisfactory reasons appearing it is ordered by the court that Wiley Huffaker guardian to the minor heirs of Elizabeth Dodson decd have the further time until the next term of this court to make settlement as guardian aforesaid.”

Note that John Y. Estes signed the receipt that he received a portion of his wife’s inheritance on this same day, September 5th, stating additionally that he was paid for the land rent for 1841, along with how much was outstanding.

October 3, 1842 – “A second settlement made by the clerk of this court with William Fugate one of the administrators of the estate of John Campbell decd which was examined by the court and ordered to be filed and recorded.”

October 4, 1842 – “This day came on the settlement of Wiley Huffaker guardian to the minor heirs of Elizabeth Dodson decd which settlement was by the court examined and ordered to be filed and recorded.”

The actual detail of the filing is recorded in the Probate book, but does not add any previously unknown information.

If John Y. Estes was the John in jail in 1842, he would have still been incarcerated in July, or Fullington would have submitted his receipt for payment at that time.

We know that John was out by September 5, 1842. If he was in jail for 94 days, twice, and got out the first part of September, he would have gone to jail the last part of February or the first part of March.

He was roughly in jail from either January through June, or from March through August, or sometime in-between those dates.

John and Rutha were married on March 1, 1841. If Rutha got pregnant immediately, their first child would have been born in the end of November. If she got pregnant shortly after their marriage, their first child could have been born while John was in jail.

Rutha was likely pregnant before the end of 1841, so gave birth to the child while John was in the clink. Regardless, this would have left a wife and newborn child during planting season in unknown and precarious circumstances.

That child did not survive to the 1850 census, so could have died at birth or maybe shortly thereafter.

Not a good way to start a marriage. No wonder the marriage eventually ended in what she noted as divorce on the census – although no divorce records exist.

John volunteered for the Civil War as well, probably in August of 1862, leaving Rutha to farm and raise their children for 3 long years. Given what appeared to be an icy reception upon his return by signing his worldly goods over to his son, they appeared to have a rocky relationship. The ice apparently thawed for a least some time, because the next child was born in February 1867.

Perhaps tied into that somehow was that Rutha started life with a bonus, meaning her inheritance from her grandfather. Yet, they didn’t own land on any census. At that time, men made those types of decisions and woman had little if any input. Where did that money go, and why?

Sadly, they never seemed to be happy, as best I can tell from what I can see peering through a keyhole from a distance of 150+ years.

Of course, after all of this tying the breadcrumbs together, I could still be quite wrong about which John was in jail. I only have a combination of coincidence, this circumstantial evidence and speculation.

It’s unlikely that I will ever unravel this knot. The only thing I know for sure is that John Estes was, indeed, in jail, probably for more than 6 months, and the only two John Esteses in Claiborne County at that time were both my ancestors.

If only those jailhouse walls could talk.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

Gift Yourself a Trip to MyHeritage LIVE 2020 in Tel Aviv, Israel

MyHeritage LIVE 2020.png

You’ll excuse my exuberance if I say this would be the BEST GIFT EVER!!!

And the great thing is that you can gift yourself if Santa doesn’t do it for you. Early bird registration is only $100. At previous conferences, lunches were included too, as were  breaks with snacks and a generous goodie bag.

I attended the first and second MyHeritage LIVE conferences, in Oslo and Amsterdam, and they were absolutely AMAZING! I mean everything – the event itself, the people and companionship, the MyHeritage staff, Gilad’s opening sessions, the speakers and sessions, the food, the venue – everything.

MyHeritage 2019 Gilad keynote

Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage opening the conference in Amsterdam.

Oh, and the party, how could I possibly forget to mention the party.

MyHeritage Live Geoff Rasmussen and Daniel Horowitz

I think we found 2 of the Beatles at the party!

One of my favorite aspects of conferences is that we get to meet people in person that we’ve only met online, AND, we get to reconnect with old friends, strengthening bonds.

MyHeritage Live 4 musketeers

The 4 musketeers having a wonderful adventure in Amsterdam!

I will also say that MyHeritage does conferences right too. Nothing second class about these. Based on the conference price, they are heavily subsidized by MyHeritage – so take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

The Announcement

Here’s the e-mail I received from MyHeritage:

Following the success of MyHeritage LIVE 2018 and 2019, I am delighted to announce that our third annual MyHeritage LIVE conference will take place from 25–26 October 2020 at the Hilton Tel Aviv in Israel! As one of the most celebrated genealogy events of the year, MyHeritage LIVE brings together family history enthusiasts, top international experts, and MyHeritage staff for two days of fascinating lectures covering the latest topics in genealogy and DNA. Each year, hundreds of MyHeritage users from around the world attend.

The venue is situated right on the Tel Aviv coastline with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. This year’s conference presents you with a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow genealogy enthusiasts and tour a unique and beautiful country steeped in ancient history.

In addition to a plenary session from MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet, there will be multiple lectures, panels, and workshops covering genealogy and DNA, as well as sessions from local speakers covering Israeli resources and Jewish genealogy.

The Venue

In case you haven’t noticed yet, this conference hotel is literally on the beach, on the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

MyHeritage LIVE 2020 beach.png

This is the miserable view out back.

MyHeritage LIVE 2020 hotel.png

View of the hotel from the nearby breakwater.

MyHeritage LIVE 2020 aerial.png

And look, there’s a beautiful walkway and bikeway along the beach, with a seaside park right next door.

MyHeritage LIVE 2020 ballroom you.png

And the hotel ballroom where I suspect the conference will be held. Just mentally photoshop yourself into these pictures!

Am I tempting you yet? Well, read on…

Who’s Speaking?

The all-star lineup of speakers on the website includes many names you know, I’m sure.

MyHeritage LIVE speakers

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Yes, I’ll be there along with many world-class speakers. Sometimes additional speakers are added over time.

MyHeritage LIVE speakers 2

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I’m really looking forward to hearing these speakers. In particular, I want to learn more about Jewish genealogy. I have one ancestor who is reflected in records as being a Jewish merchant. My husband’s lines are lost in the Poland/Hungary (now Croatia) region during the war. He has great-great-grandparents who were Jewish, also reflected in his ethnicity results.

My own mitochondrial haplogroup J was born in this part of the world, and I want to visit a place so very central to the birth of humanity as we migrated out of Africa. Israel is “home” to all of us and we are related to her people, both ancient and modern.

I want to walk on that soil and touch those sacred places.

One of my cousins has already registered. Let’s have a reunion!

Registration

You can read about the conference, here and here.

Take a look at the fun video from the Amsterdam conference this fall.

You can register here.

Let me know, will I see you in Tel Aviv???

Get the Most for Your $$$

MyHeritage LIVE results.png

It goes without saying that the way to get the most for your money from the MyHeritage conference is to be a MyHeritage user.

If you haven’t tested, now’s a great time because DNA tests are on sale.

If you have tested elsewhere, click here to transfer your DNA file.

If you would like a free trial records subscription, click here.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

MyHeritage Offers Free Transfers + No Unlock Fee – Available 1 Week Only

The news this week is arriving faster than I can write articles!

MyHeritage Unlock Free.png

Today, I received an e-mail from MyHeritage stating that for one week only, from December 11th through 18th, they are offering free DNA file transfers from other vendors, PLUS, no unlock fee for advanced DNA features – ever.

This means you’re grandfathered into all of the DNA tools for the file you transfer during this time, forever, regardless of whether you have a subscription plan or not.

Last year, I checked with family members, then uploaded almost all of the DNA files I’ve tested for people elsewhere. Transferring files to MyHeritage is super useful and has cost me absolutely nothing!

Until today, you either needed to have a subscription (which you can try for free here) or pay the $29 one-time per kit unlock fee for advanced DNA features.

Free DNA Tools

What are the free tools you’ll enjoy in addition to matching?

  • Ethnicity Estimates
  • Chromosome Browser
  • Triangulation
  • Viewing family trees and pedigree charts of matches
  • Shared in common DNA matches between you and your match
  • Shared ethnicities between you and your DNA match
  • Shared ancestral places
  • AutoClusters
  • Theories of Family Relativity which I wrote about here

This timing couldn’t be better, because I have an article scheduled to publish in a few days titled “Triangulation in Action at MyHeritage.” If you transfer now, your results will be ready to follow along by then!

How to Transfer

I’ve written about how to upload TO MyHeritage, here.

MyHeritage accepts DNA transfer files from the following vendors:

Click here to begin your free transfer!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

Are You DNA Testing the Right People?

We often want to purchase DNA kits for relatives, especially during the holidays when there are so many sales. (There are links for free shipping on tests in addition to sale prices at the end of this article. If you already know who to test, pop on down to the Sales section, now.)

Everyone is on a budget, so who should we test to obtain results that are relevant to our genealogy?

We tell people to test as many family members as possible – but what does that really mean?

Testing everyone may not be financially viable, nor necessary for genealogy, so let’s take a look at how to decide where to spend YOUR testing dollars to derive the most benefit.

It’s All Relative😊

When your ancestors had children, those children inherited different pieces of your ancestors’ DNA.

Therefore, it’s in your best interest to test all of the direct descendants generationally closest to the ancestor that you can find.

It’s especially useful to test descendants of your own close ancestors – great-great-grandparents or closer – where there is a significant possibility that you will match your cousins.

All second cousins match, and roughly 90% (or more) of third cousins match.

Percent of cousins match.png

This nifty chart compiled by ISOGG shows the probability statistics produced by the major testing companies regarding cousin matching relationships.

My policy is to test 4th cousins or closer. The more, the merrier.

Identifying Cousins

  • First cousins share grandparents.
  • Second cousins share great-grandparents.
  • Third cousins share great-great-grandparents.

The easiest way for me to see who these cousins might be is to open my genealogy software on my computer, select my great-great-grandparent, and click on descendants. Pretty much all software has a similar function.

The resulting list shows all of the descendants of that ancestor that I’ve entered in my software. Most genealogists already have or could construct this information with relative ease. These are the cousins you need to be talking to anyway, because they will have photos and stories that you don’t. If you don’t know them, there’s never been a better time to reach out and introduce yourself.

Who to test descendants software

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People You Already Know

Sometimes it’s easier to start with the family you already know and may see from time to time. Those are the people who will likely be the most beneficial to your genealogy.

Who to test 1C.png

Checking my tree at FamilyTreeDNA, Hiram Ferverda and Evaline MIller are my great-grandparents. All of their children are deceased, but I have a relationship with the children born to their son, Roscoe. Both Cheryl and her brother carry parts of Hiram and Eva’s DNA their son John Ferverda (my grandfather) didn’t inherit, and therefore that I can’t carry.

Therefore, it’s in my best interest to gift my cousin, Cheryl and her brother, both, with DNA kits. Turns out that I already have and my common matches with both Cheryl and her brother are invaluable because I know that people who match me plus either one of them descend from the Ferverda or Miller lines. This relationship and linking them on my tree, shown above, allows Family Tree DNA to perform phased Family Matching which is their form of triangulation.

It’s important to test both siblings, because some people will match me plus one but not the other sibling.

Who’s Relevant?

Trying to convey the concept of who to test and not to test, and why, is sometimes confusing.

Many family members may want to test, but you may only be willing to pay for those tests that can help your own genealogy. We need to know who can best benefit our genealogy in order to make informed decisions.

Let’s look at example scenarios – two focused on grandparents and two on parents.

In our example family, a now-deceased grandmother and grandfather have 3 children and multiple grandchildren. Let’s look at when we test which people, and why.

Example 1: Grandparents – 2 children deceased, 1 living

In our first example, Jane and Barbara, my mother, are deceased, but their sibling Harold is living. Jane has a living daughter and my mother had 3 children, 2 of which are living. Who should we test to discover the most about my maternal grandparents?

Please note that before making this type of a decision, it’s important to state the goal, because the answer will be different depending on your goal at hand. If I wanted to learn about my father’s family, for example, instead of my maternal grandparents, this would be an entirely different question, answer, and tree.

Descendant test

Click to enlarge

The people who are “married in” but irrelevant to the analysis are greyed out. In this case, all of the spouses of Jane, Barbara and Harold are irrelevant to the grandmother and grandfather shown. We are not seeking information about those spouses or their families.

The people I’ve designated with the red stars should be tested. This is the “oldest” generation available. Harold can be tested, so his son, my first cousin, does not need to test because the only part of the grandparent’s DNA that Harold’s son can inherit is a portion of what his father, Harold, carries and gave to him.

Unfortunately, Jane is deceased but her daughter, Liz, is available to test, so Liz’s son does not need to.

I need to test, as does my living brother and the children of my deceased brother in order to recover as much as possible of my mother’s DNA. They will all carry pieces of her DNA that I don’t.

The children of anyone who has a red star do NOT need to test for our stated genealogical purpose because they only carry a portion of thier parent’s DNA, and that parent is already testing.

Those children may want to test for their own genealogy given that they also have a parent who is not relevant to the grandfather and grandmother shown. In my case, I’m perfectly happy to facilitate those tests, but not willing to pay for the children’s tests if the relevant parent is living. I’m only willing to pay for tests that are relevant to my genealogical goals – in this case, my grandparents’ heritage.

In this scenario, I’m providing 5 tests.

Of course, you may have other family factors in play that influence your decision about how many tests to purchase for whom. Family dynamics might include things like hurt feelings and living people who are unwilling or unable to test. I’ve been known to purchase kits for non-biologically related family members so that people could learn how DNA works.

Example 2: Grandparents – 2 children living, one deceased

For our second example, let’s change this scenario slightly.

Descendant test 2

Click to enlarge

From the perspective of only my grandparents’ genealogy, if my mother is alive, there’s no reason to test her children.

Barbara and Harold can test. Since Jane is deceased, and she had only one child, Liz is the closest generationally and can test to represent Jane’s line. Liz’s son does not need to test since his mother, the closest relative generationally to the grandparents is available to test.

In this scenario, I’m providing 3 tests.

Example 3: My Immediate Family – both parents living

In this third example, I’m looking from strictly MY perspective viewing my maternal grandparents (as shown above) AND my immediate family meaning the genealogical lines of both of my parents. In other words, I’ve combined two goals. This makes sense, especially if I’m going to be seeing a group of people at a family gathering. We can have a swab party!

Descendants - parents alive

Click to enlarge

In the situation where my parents are both living, I’m going to test them in addition to Harold and Liz.

I’m testing myself because I want to work using my own DNA, but that’s not really necessary. My parents will both have twice as many matches to other people as I do – because I only inherited half of each parent’s DNA.

In this scenario, I’m providing 5 tests.

Example 4: My Immediate Family – one parent living, one deceased

Descendants - father deceased

Click to enlarge

In our last example, my mother is living but my father is deceased. In addition to Harold and Liz who reflect the DNA of my maternal grandparents, I will test myself, my mother my living brother and my deceased brother’s child.

Because my father is deceased, testing as many of my father’s descendants as possible, in addition to myself, is the only way for me to obtain some portion of his DNA. My siblings will have pieces of my parent’s DNA that I don’t.

I’m not showing my father’s tree in this view, but looking at his tree and who is available to test to provide information about his side of the family would be the next logical step. He may have siblings and cousins that are every bit as valuable as the people on my mother’s side.

Applying this methodology to your own family, who is available to test?

Multiple Databases

Now that you know WHO to test, the next step is to make sure your close family members test at each of the major providers where your DNA is as well.

I test everyone at Family Tree DNA because I have been testing family members there for 19 years and many of the original testers are deceased now. The only way new people can compare to those people is to be in the FamilyTreeDNA data base.

Then, with permission of course, I transfer all kits, for free, to MyHeritage. Matching is free, but if you don’t have a subscription, there’s an unlock fee of $29 to access advanced tools. I have a full subscription, so all tools are entirely free for the kits I transfer and manage in my account.

Transferring to Family Tree DNA and matching there is free too. There’s an unlock fee of $19 for advanced tools, but that’s a good deal because it’s substantially less than a new test.

Neither 23andMe nor Ancestry accept transfers, so you have to test at each of those companies.

The great news is that both Ancestry and 23andMe tests can be transferred to  MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA.

Before purchasing tests, check first by asking your relatives or testing there yourself to be sure they aren’t already in those databases. If they took a “spit in a vial” test, they are either at 23andMe or Ancestry. If they took a swab test, it’s MyHeritage or FamilyTreeDNA.

I wrote about creating a testing and transfer strategy in the article, DNA Testing and Transfers – What’s Your Strategy? That article includes a handy dandy chart about who accepts which versions of whose files.

Sales

Of course, everything is on sale since it’s the holidays.

Who are you planning to test?

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items