WikiTree Challenge Fun – It’s My Turn!

For the past year, WikiTree has been having a weekly Challenge where volunteers work with the genealogy of guests.

Every Wednesday at 8 PM Eastern, a publicly viewable reveal is held for the guest from the week before, and the guest for the new week is introduced.

This week, I’m fortunate enough to be the guest and it’s going to be like Christmas early. If you’re interested, you can view last evening’s kickoff, here.

As an added bonus, Shelley, last week’s guest and I discovered that multiple of our ancestors lived in the same places and even attended the same church. Serendipity at work. I have brick walls. She does too. Maybe Shelley and I are related. Wouldn’t THAT be fun!!!

Want to work on a Challenge or learn more? There’s a great video here.

You can sign up for a Challenge team here, but you don’t have to. Anyone can research and add information to WikiTree profiles. You are most welcome to work on mine this week. In fact, I’m hoping that people with common ancestors will improve the information available. Maybe you’ll discover information that’s new to you too!

The Goal

The goal, broadly speaking, is for WikiTree to provide the most complete, documented, accurate genealogy in a one-large-tree format.

Before WikiTree, I was skeptical and discouraged about big one-single-trees because there were (are) so many errors, but WikiTree is different because it’s collaborative, genial and there are people available to help resolve any issues. Did I mention that everyone is a volunteer?

I enjoy WikiTree. WikiTree is free and allows descendants to enter their Y and mitochondrial information, as well as their GEDmatch ID for autosomal.

WikiTree now has about 27 million-ish profiles, so assuredly there’s something there for everyone.

Challenge is Fair Game

How do volunteers work with genealogy during the challenge? Pretty much any way you want!

People:

  • Break down brick walls (my favorite)
  • Find interesting information about known ancestors
  • Add data and detailed information
  • Provide proofs
  • Upload photos and documents
  • Correct information
  • Saw off branches (yep, it happens)

Volunteers who work on the challenge can accrue points, but it’s more about solving puzzles.

If you want to research, here’s my tree on WikiTree. I’m RobertaEstes13 at Ancestry and you can find my tree by searching for my father, William Sterling Estes 1902-1963. No, it’s not cheating to use every resource available.

Of course, everything is game. I tried to add at least the basic information at WikiTree for all of my known and proven ancestors ahead of time because I didn’t want people to replow a field I had already plowed.

I also made notes when people or data previously added was questionable or needed documentation. I also add each of the 52 Ancestors articles I’ve written about many ancestors.

Brick Walls Set in Concrete

I’ve created a list of my most painful, particularly difficult, brick walls that need attention. I’m hoping that maybe someone else either has that same ancestor, or perhaps has experience in the region. Something. Anything.

James Lee Claxton’s father

I feel like this one is so close, but so far away. We first find James Lee Claxton (Clarkson) in Russell County, VA in 1799. He married and shortly thereafter, moved down the valley to Claiborne County, TN. James died in 1815 in the War of 1812, and thankfully, his widow Sarah Cook, provided information in her land and pension applications. The surname is spelled both Clarkson and Claxton in various places, but based on Y DNA matches, the spelling seems to be Claxton in the other family who shares an earlier ancestor with my James.

In the Claxton Y DNA project, James’s descendants match with a group of people from Bedford County, TN, whose earliest known ancestor is James Claxton born about 1746 and eventually found in Granville Co., North Carolina in 1769. He may be connected to an early Francis Claxton from Bertie County.

Two genealogists compiled information about this line on a now somewhat dated website. Some links are broken, but the data is still quite useful. However, a lovely summary can be found, here.

James Claxton born about 1746, reportedly, had a son James who was found in 1798 in Sumner County, TN, so my James could not be the son of James born in 1746 if this is accurate. However, based on autosomal DNA matches between the two groups, these two lines, meaning mine and the Bedford County line, can’t be very distantly removed.

The James from North Carolina is named in 1784 as the executor of the will of John Hatcher whose wife, Mary, is proven Native based on their son’s Revolutionary War testimony. We don’t know why James was named as executor, or if they were related. It would be easy to assume that he was married to a daughter, but there is no evidence for that either.

Unfortunately, there are no other Claxton Y DNA matches that can push this line further back in time, anyplace.

I wrote about James Lee Claxton, here and his WikiTree profile is here.

Joel Cook and Family

Sarah’s says, in her pension application, that her father was Joel Cook and he is quite a conundrum. Based on the history of the region, he was clearly born elsewhere and settled in Russell County about 1795, as the frontier was settled. He is associated with a Clayton (Claton) Cook who moved to Kentucky about 1794, then back, then back to Kentucky again.

Records are sparse. Joel sells his land in 1816. It has been suggested that he migrated to Floyd County, KY, or perhaps elsewhere, along with Clayton, but I don’t have any evidence of that – or anything else for that matter.

Joel arrived out of thin air and disappeared into thin air. The only other hint we have is that a young man, Henry Cook, served as a drummer in the War of 1812 from Claiborne County, TN, and died in the service. It’s certainly possible that he was Sarah’s younger brother or maybe nephew.

We don’t have Y DNA from this line. If the Floyd County Cook group Y DNA tests, it would be nice to know if any of those people match any of Sarah Cook’s descendants.

I haven’t written about either Sarah or her father, Joel, but Sarah’s Wikitree profile is here and Joel’s is here.

By the way, I inadvertently think I and other early genealogists were responsible for the misinformation on her profile that Sarah’s birth surname is Helloms. In 1850 she is living with a man, John Helloms, 5 years younger than she is who is listed as an “idiot.” It was assumed that this was her brother and her surname was assigned as Helloms before we had her pension application. Now I suspect that as a widow, she may have been paid by the Hancock County court to take care of him. Court records have burned. There may be a connection with this family however, as she was assigned as the administrator of a William Hulloms estate in Claiborne County in 1820, not long after her husband’s death.

Unfortunately, Helloms as Sarah’s maiden name won’t seem to die, no matter how many times I saw that branch off of the tree. Having said that, it’s probable that somehow, given her relatively close involvement with Helloms men twice, 30 years apart, that she is somehow related.

Charles Campbell’s Father

John Campbell born about 1772 and George Campbell born about 1770, probably in Virginia, are believed to be the sons of Charles Campbell who lived in Hawkins County, TN. Unfortunately, Charles, who died about 1825, had no will and much to my chagrin, the deed for his land after his death was never actually recorded.

The Y DNA clearly provides matching to the Campbell line from Inverary, Argylishire, Scotland. Both the migration path and neighbors combined with DNA matching suggests strongly that Charles migrated from the Orange/Augusta/Rockingham County portion of Virginia.

I chased a hot lead based on matches that suggest Gilbert Campbell’s line and wrote about that, here. Gilbert had a son named Charles, but in-depth research indicates that his son Charles is probably accounted for in Virginia. Gilbert did have a brother or son named James. We don’t know who the parents of James and Gilbert were and that’s key to this equation.

Oral history suggests a connection with a James Campbell. It’s possible that this John and this George were a different John and George than Charles jointly sold land to, although it’s highly doubtful.

Both John and George Campbell married Dobkins sisters, daughters of Jacob Dobkins who lived up the road from Charles Campbell before the entire Dobkins/Campbell group moved to Claiborne County, TN together about 1800.

I wrote about John Campbell, here and his WikiTree profile is here. Charles Campbell’s story is here and his profile is here.

Julien Lord or Lore’s Origins

Julien Lord, born someplace about 1652, probably in France, is one of the early Acadian settlers. Julien is listed in 1665 on a list of soldiers who sailed for Nova Scotia. He would only have been 13. He is later listed on various census documents which is how we obtained his birth year.

I know that recently additional documents have become available in France and I’m hopeful that perhaps his association with the other men might pinpoint an area and we can find Julien’s parents. Of course, the surname could have been spelled much differently in France – Lohr, Loire, Loree, etc. I can’t help but wonder if he was an orphan and that’s why he was shipped out.

Julien Lord’s WikiTree profile is here.

Magdalene (birth surname unknown,) wife of Philip Jacob Miller

This one is driving me insane. Magdalena was born sometime about 1730, probably in Pennsylvania among the Brethren or possibly Mennonite families. She married Philip Jacob Miller, a Brethren man, about 1751, just as he was moving from York County, PA to Frederick Co., VA.

Magdalena was assuredly Brethren or Mennonite, because marriages outside the faith were not allowed at that time and those who did were effectively shunned unless the spouse converted.

Magdalena’s surname was rumored to be Rochette for years, but thorough research produced not one shred of evidence that Rochette is accurate. There aren’t even any Rochette families living anyplace close. Everyone has heard that rumor, and no one knows it’s source.

We do have Magdalena’s mitochondrial DNA signature. Her haplogroup is H6a1a and she has 2 exact matches. One match provided no genealogical information but the other match showed her ancestor as Amanda Troutwine (1872-1946) who married William Hofaker. I did some genealogical sleuthing several years ago and based on superficial information, found the following lineage for Amanda Troutwine.

  • Sarah Baker 1851-1923 and George Troutwine

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/141291811

  • Elias Baker and Mary Baker 1824-1897

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/141291811

  • Jacob Baker and Sarah Michael 1801-1892

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10806589/mary-baker

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36831933/sarah-baker

  • Mary Myers 1775-1849 buried Clayton, Montgomery Co., Ohio m Jacob Michael

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/38045030/mary-michael

https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/91021180/person/74020727592/facts?_phsrc=fxJ1330&_phstart=successSource

  • Johannes Meyer and Margaretha Scherman 1750-1825

https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/91021180/person/280002009231/facts

I have not confirmed this information. If it is accurate, Margaretha born in 1750 could be Magdalena’s sister or niece, perhaps?

I created a tiny tree and discovered that Mary’s husband lived in Frederick County, Maryland, the same place that Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena lived. Mary died in Montgomery County, Ohio, the same place that many Brethren families settled and very close to the Miller men.

Mary’s WikiTree profile is here and shows her mother, Margaret Sherman/Schuermann to have been born about 1750 in York County, PA, the location where the Miller family was living. The question is, who was Margaret’s mother. Is this the clue to solving the identity of Magdalena, the wife of Philip Jacob Miller?

I wrote about Magdalena, here, including a list of known Brethren families, and her WikiTree profile is here.

Barbara (birth surname unknown) Estes Mitochondrial DNA

Barbara (birth surname unknown) Estes, born sometime around 1670 was (at least) the second wife of Abraham Estes.

Abraham’s first wife, Barbara Burton, died in England before he immigrated in 1673.

For years, on almost every tree, her surname has been shown as Brock, but there is absolutely no evidence that’s correct.

Abraham’s daughter, Barbara Estes married Henry Brock, so there was indeed a Barbara Brock, but this person was the daughter, NOT the wife of Abraham Estes. A man wrote a novel, as in fiction, in the 1980s that assigned Abraham’s wife’s surname as Brock and that myth simply won’t die.

I would very much like to find a mitochondrial descendant of Barbara, Abraham’s wife, mother to his children, to take a mitochondrial DNA test. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from a direct line of matrilineal ancestors. Anyone today, male or female, who descends from Barbara directly through all females from any of her daughters carries Barbara’s mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial DNA may lead us to Barbara’s parents.

I wrote about Barbara, here, and her WikiTree profile is here.

Bonus Round – Elizabeth (surname unknown,) wife of Stephen Ulrich

Elizabeth was born about 1725, possibly in Germany and if not, probably in Pennsylvania. She married Stephen Ulrich sometime around 1743 and died in around 1782 in Frederick County, Maryland. Unfortunately, her identity has been confused with that of her daughter, Elizabeth Ulrich (1757-1832) who married Daniel Miller. And as if that wasn’t confusing enough, her mother-in-law’s name was also Elizabeth, so we had three Elizabeth Ulrich’s three generations in a row.

We have two testers who believe they descend from Elizabeth. Unfortunately, one of them is incorrect, and I have no idea which one.

Tester #1 shows that he descends from Hannah Susan Ulrich (1762-1798) who married Henry Adams Puterbaugh (1761-1839), is haplogroup U2e1, and matches with someone whose most distant ancestor is Elizabeth Rench born in 1787 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania and died in 1858 in Ohio. I did as much research as possible and wrote about that, here.

Then, I went to visit Elizabeth’s WikiTree profile here which, I might note, reflects the long-standing oral history that Elizabeth’s birth surname was Cripe.

I noticed at WikiTree that another individual has indicated that he has tested for Elizabeth’s mitochondrial DNA, and it’s an entirely different haplogroup, H6a1b3. Uh oh!

He descends through daughter, Susannah Ulrich who married Jacob I. Puterbaugh.

My heart sank. I don’t know who is right and who is wrong, but both can’t be correct. Unless of course Stephen Ulrich was married twice.

My tester’s most distant ancestor on WikiTree is found here. If the genealogy is accurate, her line will connect with Hannah Susan Ulrich (1762-1798) who married Henry Adams Puterbaugh (1761-1839).

A third mitochondrial DNA tester through a different daughter would also break this tie. Anybody descend from Elizabeth, wife of Stephen Ulrich, through all females? If so, please raise your hand!

WikiTree Challenge Results Next Wednesday

I can hardly wait until next Wednesday’s reveal to see what so many wonderful volunteers will find. Breaking through tough brick walls would be wonderful, but so would anything.

I’m excited and oh so very grateful for this opportunity.

If you’re not familiar with WikiTree, take a look for yourself.

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Unraveling the Odd Fellows Lodge Meeting in Claiborne County, Tennessee – 52 Ancestors #343

I have absolutely no idea where I got this newspaper clipping, but I found it buried among some papers as I was sorting through a box. I’d much rather go down this rabbit hole than sort and clean any day, so I felt compelled to see if I could figure out when this mystery photo was taken.

Why am I so interested?

My grandfather, William George Estes, known as Will, is pictured in the center of the second row.

I “thought” Will was probably a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge near Springdale in Claiborne County, but I wasn’t sure.

Springdale, the bottom red star, is more like a named area and not a village or town per se. It’s a crossroads stop along the old buffalo trail, now 25E, marked by a few houses, a gas station today, and the primitive log cabin Big Springs Baptist Church which was already more than a century old by the time this photo was taken.

The Estes family lived in a holler a couple miles down Little Sycamore, the intersecting road heading east from Springdale.

The winding back roads intersect with Little Sycamore Road near Pleasant View Baptist Church. Once there, you follow around the church and up a dirt road around the cemetery where most of the family is buried, until you turn, cross a creek and travel back up into the hollers “till you can’t go no further.”

The Estes Holler “road” turns into a two-track, or less, crosses the mountain, and exits on the other side of the ridge into Vannoy Holler. There’s no turning around or backing up, so once you start over the mountain, you’re going all the way. Trust me on this one.

Back in the WPA days in the 1930s, the first actual road through the county was an amazing 16 feet wide, with three inches of gravel. Before that, dirt and mud.

Some of the other men in this picture are my relatives too and they all lived down Little Sycamore, which is the name of the stream and the road that runs along it, both.

Of course, as a genealogist, I’m curious as to when this photo was taken, and where.

I love the women’s fine hats as they sat on the porch. It looks like a warm day and I’m not sure I’d want to be wearing those long skirts, long sleeves, and bonnets. I can tell you those women probably arrived in wagons or buggies, not riding horses sidesaddle individually. Some may have walked. The home looks well-cared-for and lovely.

According to an old newspaper article, including a photo, there was a fine plantation-style home near “Roundtop,” the “hill” that actually defines Springdale. Unfortunately, I can’t tell if this is the same home, but given the fancy dresses and the location, it surely might have been.

Every man, except my grandfather, was wearing a hat. Not sure what that says about my grandfather, but I’d wager it wasn’t good. If he wasn’t wearing a hat for a photo like this, I’d bet he didn’t own one. Life was difficult for my grandparents back then. In the 1900 census, Will reported 6 months of being unemployed, but none of the rest of the men on that page reported anything near that.

My first guess would be that this picture was taken about 1910 based on a few pieces of information about my grandfather. He was born in 1873 and looks to be around 30 here, more or less. After he married Ollie Bolton in 1894, they moved to Springdale, Arkansas for several years, returning to Tennessee between June 1898 and 1900, before the census.

I know my grandparents moved to Indiana approximately 1912, sometime after the 1910 census and before 1913. I also know my grandfather moved back to Tennessee 1915ish, apparently got divorced, and was living in Claiborne County in March 1916 with his second wife who happened to be his first wife’s cousin. Suffice it to say there was bad blood between Will and the Bolton family.

Sometime after the 1920 census, he moved to Harlan County, Kentucky.

Based on this information, this photo was probably taken sometime between 1900 and 1910, or after 1915 and before 1920, although he does not look 40+ in this photo.

Let’s see what kind of information we can discern based on the names of the men provided.

Front Row, left to right:

Allen Hodge – Born in 1846, he died in 1925 on Lone Mountain. He looks to be about 65 or so in this photo. According to the census, he was 73 in 1920. Lone Mountain is the name of the road at the Springdale crossroads that heads west, while Little Sycamore goes to the east.

Willie Hodge – Son of Allen, Willie was age 26 in the 1900 census and looks to be maybe 30 in this photo. He was born in 1873 and died in 1961.

Worth Epperson – Worth Epperson lived in Estes Holler beside Will and was married to Cornie Estes, my grandfather’s sister. Worth was born in 1873 and died in 1959. He looks to be about 30, maybe 35 in the Odd Fellows picture.

Photo of Worth Epperson, at left, standing with Will Estes in their later years.

Milt Dalton – Born in 1880, he married in 1900 and was living in the Springdale area of Claiborne County in the 1900 census near the Venables, Campbells, and Hursts.

Lee Day – In 1900, Lee Day, born in 1862, was living off of Little Sycamore Road just beyond Estes Holler, near the Plank Cemetery, beside the Boltons and Venables. He married Cora McNiel in 1899. Cora was the daughter of John Anderson McNiel, the great-nephew of my 3 times great-grandmother, Lois McNiel who married Elijah Vannoy. In other words, Lee’s wife was my grandfather’s 2C1R. These families all clustered a couple of miles east of Springdale, between the Pleasant View Church and Liberty Church.

Pryor Carr (holding child) – I wish they had given the name of the child which would make dating this photo significantly easier. Pryor Carr was born in 1869 in Springdale, the area where Little Sycamore Road intersects with now 25E, but formerly the Kentucky Road. He died in 1926 in Madison County, KY. Pryor only had two sons, Shelby born in 1903 in Lee County, and James born in 1905 in Springdale. By 1910, this family had moved to Rose Hill, Virginia.

Willie Vannoy – Born in 1877 in Vannoy Holler, he died in 1950 and looks to be about 35 in the Odd Fellows photo.

Willie and Pearlie Shumate lived “up to Lone Mountain” which is the same road as Little Sycamore, but west of Springdale. Willie Vannoy and my grandfather were first cousins.

Jim Hodge – uncertain, but Hodge family members lived near Estes Holler on Little Sycamore.

Jim Bolton – Two Jim Bolton’s from this time frame are first cousins, born in the early 1870s, and live near each other on Little Sycamore. Will Estes was married to Ollie Bolton who was also first cousins with both Jim Boltons.

Arch Bartlett – Born in 1883, married in 1906 to Lillie Painter whose parents lived in the middle of several Bolton families.

Unknown

Row Two:

Joe Campbell – If this is the correct Joe Campbell, he was born about 1845 in Claiborne County, the grandson of George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins and a double third cousin to William George Estes’s grandmother. Joe would have been about 55 in this photo. The Campbell family members lived all up and down Little Sycamore Road.

Unknown

Bill Cunningham – Born in 1872, it’s unclear who Bill’s parents were. However, the Cunningham family lived near the Estes family.

Thomas Sulfridge – One Thomas Sulfridge was born about 1855 and lived in Claiborne County, although this may not be the same person. By 1912, he was living in Kentucky.

Bob Ferguson – Born in 1869, in 1900, William Mack Ferguson was living in this part of Claiborne County.

Will Estes – In 1900 and 1910 my grandfather was living in Estes Holler by the Cunningham and Hodge families and Worth Epperson. Sometime after 1910, the family moved to Indiana, but after 1914 and before 1916, he had moved back to Claiborne County and remarried. His daughter, Irene was born in March 1916 in Shawnee which is in the North part of the county. I don’t believe Will ever lived in the Springdale area again and eventually moved to Harlan County, Kentucky.

Martin Venable – William Martin Venable was born in 1881. The Venable family married into the Estes family and was living beside Milt Dalton and the Cook, Bartlett, and Campbell families in 1900. Martin was a 3rd cousin to Will Estes through his mother on the McNiel side.

Milt Bolton – Two Milt Boltons were alive during this time. The younger man was born in 1884 which would mean he would be between 20-30 in this photo. The man in the picture is clearly an older man.

The older Milton Halen Bolton was born in May 1844 and died in 1907, a half-uncle to Ollie Bolton, the wife of Will Estes. Milt’s wife, Narcissus “Nursey” Parks was also Ollie’s first cousin, twice removed on her mother’s side.

We also have a newspaper clipping of Milt Bolton’s funeral. Unfortunately, most of the people are unrecognizable, but the photos look similar and the actual funeral is very interesting.

Mont Carr – a physician born in 1870 and who lived in the neighborhood. I’d say he looks to be about 50 in the picture. He died in 1937. I can’t help but wonder if this photo was taken at his home.

Howard Friar – Howard, born in 1875 and his wife, Mary Ann “Ropp” Bolton were the best friends of Will Estes and Ollie Bolton Estes.

Both couples moved to Indiana as tenant farmers at some time after 1910. Will Estes, at left with Ollie, took their photos together in Indiana.

In 1920, Ropp and Howard were still living in Indiana, but moved back sometime before 1930. Ropp was Ollie’s first cousin. The fact that Howard was in the Odd Fellows photo pretty much eliminates the photo dates in the 19-teens.

Back Row:

Willie Bartlett – If this is the right person, Wiley Bartlett in 1910 was living near a Carr family.

George McNeil – Named after our common ancestor, this George was born in 1866 in Claiborne County, lived by the Bolton families and died in 1934. He married Nervesta Estes, a first cousin once removed to Will Estes. George McNiel was also Will’s third cousin through his mother, Elizabeth Vannoy.

unknown

Is there any wonder why I match the DNA of almost everyone from this part of Claiborne County?

So, When Was the Picture Taken?

By process of elimination, we have bracketed these dates:

  • Pryor Carr only had two sons, assuming he is holding his own child. Shelby was born in 1903 in Lee County and James was born in 1905 in Springdale. Given the Odd Fellows vest, the child had to have been a male. By 1910, this family had moved to Rose Hill, Virginia. Based on this, we can fairly confidently say that this photo was taken sometime between 1905 and 1907 when one of those babies was about 18 months old. We know this had to be taken before 1910 when the Carr family was no longer living here.
  • The cincher here is Milton Bolton’s death year of 1907, although unfortunately, we don’t have an exact date.
  • Based on this combined information, the photo had to have been taken between 1905 and 1907, before Milton Bolton’s death.

My grandfather, Will, would have been turned 32 in March of 1905 and 34 in 1907. He and Ollie had brought either 7 or 8 children into the world by then, having lost either 3 or 4.

At least two children died after 1900, Robby perishing in a fire when their cabin burned to the ground between 1904 and 1907. A third was likely born and died about 1900, based on a telltale gap between children.

Will doesn’t look very happy in the Odd Fellows photo, but then again, smiling for photos wasn’t a “thing” back then. I’m actually surprised that Will didn’t take the actual photo. He was a photographer. My Aunt Margaret said that he had his camera “rigged up with some kind of timer.”

Will always looked concerned in the family photos he took, so maybe he was worrying about whether the camera would work without him behind the box. He’s in the back row at far right in this 1913 photo where he looks somewhat older than in the Odd Fellows picture.

Other than Ollie and William George to the right in the back row, Ollie’s cousins, Clara and (the younger) Mont Bolton are at far left, and possibly family friend Ted Barnes is third from left in the tie. Beside Ollie is Elizabeth Bolton, sister of Mont and wife of George Smith. Apparently a family group had gone on a great adventure, visiting Ollie and Will in Indiana.

One of Will and Ollie’s sons, Joseph, was missing in this photo, reportedly at scouts. My father, William Sterling Estes is the youngest male in the front row on the left beside his brother, their oldest son, Estle. Beside Estle at the right of the front row are cousins Lee and George Smith. The blonde female is their daughter, Minnie, born in 1908 and the brunette is Margaret born in 1906.

If Will had been responsible for taking the Odd Fellows photo, I would have thought that he would have been standing in the front row, not behind. But he wasn’t in the above family picture. Margaret was in this photo, so she should have known about how they took photos of the entire family, including her dad. In fact, I specifically asked.

Or maybe, just maybe, Ollie, my grandmother took the Odd Fellows photo. Maybe she went along to whatever event was happening and was dressed in one of those long dresses. Maybe she wandered off the porch long enough to do the honors.

Cameras and photographers were quite scarce at that time which is why we have so very few photos. Photographers had to develop the film and print the final pictures. Will may have been the only photographer in the county. I know he was sought after to attend many family reunions to record the event, his black camera on the tripod in tow with the black curtain that went over his head. He even took along his own quilted backdrop, seen in the photo of Ropp and Howard Friar with their baby.

I’m grateful for this picture, along with the men’s names and this stroll down memory lane with my grandfather and his kin, one warm summer day long ago.

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Thank you so much.

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Genetic Affairs – New AutoKinship Tool Predicts Relationships and Builds Genetic Trees

Genetic Affairs recently introduced a new tool – AutoKinship. Evert-Jan (EJ) Blom, the developer was kind enough to step through these results with me to assure that I’m explaining things correctly. Thanks EJ!

AutoKinship automatically predicts family trees and pathways that you may be related to your matches based on how they match you and each other. Not only is this important for genealogists trying to piece our family tree together, it’s indispensable for anyone searching for unknown ancestors, beginning with parents and walking right on up the tree for the closest several generations.

Right now, the automated AutoKinship tool is limited to 23andMe profiles, but will also work as a standalone tool where users can fill in the shared DNA information for their matches. MyHeritage, 23andMe, and GEDMatch provide centiMorgan information about how your matches also match each other. Here’s a tutorial for the standalone tool.

Unfortunately, Ancestry does not provide their customers with segment information, but fortunately, you can upload a copy of your Ancestry DNA file to MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA or GEDmatch, for free. You’ll find step-by-step instructions, here.

Automated AutoKinship Tool

After signing into to your Genetic Affairs account, assuming you have already set up your 23andMe profile at Genetic Affairs, click on “Run AutoKinship for 23andMe.”

I manage multiple profiles at 23andMe, so I need to click on “Profiles.”

Select the correct profile if you manage multiple kits at 23andMe.

You’ll see your various options that can be run for your 23andMe kit.

Select AutoKinship

If you select AutoKinship, you automatically receive an AutoCluster because AutoKinship is built on the AutoCluster functionality.

Make your selections. I recommend leaving these settings at the default, at least initially.

The default of 250 cM excludes your closest matches. You don’t want your closest matches because they will be members of too many clustered groups.

In my initial run, I made the mistake of changing the 50 cM lower threshold to 20 cM because I wanted more matches to be included. Unfortunately, the effect this had on my results was that my largest two clusters did not produce trees.

Hint: EJ states that the software tool works from the smallest cluster to the largest when producing trees. If you notice that your largest cluster, which is usually the first one displayed in the upper left hand corner (orange here), does not have associated trees, or some people are missing, that’s your clue that the AutoKinship ran out of server time to process and you need to raise either the minimum match threshold, in this case, 50 cM, or the minimum amount of DNA shared between your matches to each other, in this case, 10 cM.

You can also select between shared matches and triangulated groups. I selected shared matches, but I may well rerun this report with triangulated groups because that provides me with a great deal of even more useful information.

When you’re ready, click on the big green “you can’t miss it” Perform AutoCluster Analysis button.

Make a cup of coffee. Your report is processing. If your email doesn’t arrive, you can click on the little envelope in your Genetic Affairs profile and the report can be downloaded to your computer directly from that link.

Your Report Arrives!

You’ll receive a zip file in the email that you MUST SAVE TO YOUR COMPUTER to work correctly. You’ll see these files, but you can’t use them yet.

First, you MUST EXTRACT THE FILES from the zip file. My zip file displays the names of the file inside of the zipped file, but they are not extracted.

You must right click, as shown above, and then click on “Extract All” on a PC. Not sure what MAC users need to do but I think it autoextracts. If you click on some of the files in this article and they don’t load correctly, or say they aren’t present, that likely means:

  • You either forgot to save the file in the email to your computer
  • Or you failed to do the extract

The bottom two files are your normal AutoCluster visual html file and the same information in an excel file.

Click on the AutoCluster html file to activate.

Personally, I love watching the matches all fly into place in their clusters. This html file is going to be our home base, the file we’ll be operating from for all of the functions.

I have a total of 23 interrelated autoclusters. The question is, how are we all related to each other. You can read my article about AutoClusters and how they work here.

People who are members of more than one cluster are shown with those little grey squares signifying that they match people in two clusters, not just one cluster.

For example, one cluster might be my grandparents, but the second cluster might be my maternal great-great-grandfather. Membership in both clusters tells me that my matching DNA with those people in the second cluster probably descends from my great-great-grandfather. Some of the DNA matches in the first cluster assuredly also descend from that man, but some of them may descend from other related ancestors, like my maternal grandmother. It’s our job as genealogists to discern the connections, but the entire purpose of AutoKinship is to make that process much easier.

We are going to focus on the first few clusters to see what kinds of information Genetic Affairs can produce about these clusters. Notice that the first person in row 1 is related to the orange cluster, the green cluster, the purple and the brown clusters. That’s important information about that person, and also about the interrelationship of those clusters themselves and the ancestors they represent.

Remember, to be included in a grandparent cluster, that person’s DNA segment(s) must have descended from other ancestors, represented in other clusters. So you can expect one person to be found potentially in multiple clusters that serve to trace those common ancestors (and associated segments) back in time.

AutoKinship

The AutoKinship portion of this tool creates hypothetical trees based on relationships of you to each person in the cluster, and to the other cluster members to each other.

If you’re thinking triangulation, you’re right. I selected matches, not triangulated groups which is also an option. Some people do triangulate, but some people may match each other on different segments. Right now, it’s a jumble of hints, but we’ll sort some of this out.

If you scroll down in your html file, below your cluster, and below the explanation (which you should read,) you’ll see the AutoKinship verbiage.

I want to do a quick shout-out to Brit Nicholson, the statistician that works with EJ on probabilities of relationships for this tool and describes his methodology, here.

AutoKinship Table

You’ll see the AutoKinship Table that includes a link for each cluster that could be assembled into a potential tree.

Click on the cluster you wish to view.

In my case, clusters 1 through 5 are closely related to each other based on the common members in each cluster. I selected cluster 1.

Your most probable tree for that cluster will be displayed.

I’m fortunate that I recognized three of my third cousins. AutoKinship constructed a probable genetic pedigree, but I’ve overlayed what I know to be the correct pedigree.

With the exception of one person, this AutoKinship tree is accurate to the best of my knowledge. A slot for Elizabeth, the mother of William George Estes and the daughter of Joel is missing. I probably know why. I match two of my cousins with a higher than expected amount of DNA which means that I’m shown “closer” in genetic distance that I normally would be for that relationship level.

In one case, Charles and I share multiple ancestors. In the other case, I don’t know why I match Everett on so much more DNA than his brother Carl or our other cousin, Vianna. Regardless, I do.

In one other instance, there’s a half-relationship that throws a wrench into the tree. I know that, but it’s very difficult to factor half-relationships into tree building without prior knowledge.

If you continue to scroll down, you’ll see multiple options for trees for this cluster.

DNA Matrix

Below that, you’ll see a wonderful downloadable DNA matrix of how everyone in the cluster shares DNA with everyone else in the cluster.

At this point, exit from cluster one and return to your original cluster file that shows your cluster matrix.

Beneath the AutoKinship table, you’ll see AutoCluster Cluster Information.

AutoCluster Cluster Information

Click on any one of those people. I’m selecting Everett because I know how we are related.

Voila, a new cluster configuration forms.

I can see all of the people I match in common with Everett in each cluster. This tells me two things:

  • Which clusters are related to this line. In particular, the orange cluster, green, red, purple, brown, magenta and dark grey clusters. If you mouse over each cell in the cluster, more information is provided.
  • The little helix in each cell tells you that those two people triangulate with each other and the tester. How cool is that?!!

Note that you can display this cluster in 4 different ways.

Return again to your main autocluster page and scroll down once again.

This just might be my favorite part.

Chromosome Segments

You can import chromosome segment information into DNAPainter – instructions here.

What you’ll see next is the clusters painted on your chromosomes. I love this!!!

Of course, Genetic Affairs can’t tell you which side is maternal and which is paternal. You’ll need to do that yourself after you import into DNAPainter.

Just beneath this painting, you’ll see a chart titled Chromosome segment statistics per AutoCluster cluster.

I’m only showing the first couple as an example.

Click on one of links. I’m selecting cluster 1.

Cluster 1 has painted portions of each chromosome, but I’m only displaying chromosomes 1-7 here.

Following the painting is a visual display of each overlap region by cluster, by overlapping segment on each chromosome.

You can clearly see where these segments overlap with each other!

Surname Enrichment

If you select the surname enrichment option, you’ll receive two additional features in your report.

Please note that I ran this option separately at a different time, so the cluster members and clusters themselves do not necessarily correlate with the examples above.

The Enriched Surname section of your report shows surnames in common found between the matches in each specific cluster.

Keep in mind, this does NOT just mean surnames in common with YOUR surname list, assuming you’ve entered your surnames at 23andMe. (If you haven’t please do so now.) 23andMe does not support user trees, so your entered surnames are all that can be utilized when comparing information from your matches.

These are surnames that are found more than once among your matches. I’ve framed the ones in red that I recognize as being found in my tree, and I’ve framed the ones in black that I recognize as being “married in.” In other words, some people may descend through children of my ancestors who married people with that black bracketed surname.

I can tell you immediately, based on these surnames, that the first cluster is the cluster formed around my great-great-grandparents, Joel Vannoy and his wife, Phebe Crumley.

Cluster 6 is less evident, but Anderson might be connected to the Vannoy family. I’ll need to view the common matches in that cluster at 23andMe and look for additional clues.

Cluster 9 is immediately evident too. Ferverda is Hiram Ferverda, my great-grandfather and Eva Miller is his wife.

Cluster 10 is probably the Miller line as well. Indiana is a location in this case, not a surname.

Click on “Detailed Surname Table” for more information, as shown below.

Each group of people that shares any surname is shown in a table together. In this case, these three people, who I happen to know are brothers, all share these surnames. The surnames they also share with me are shown with red boxes. The other surnames are shared only with each other and no one else in the cluster. I know they aren’t shared with me because I know my tree.

While your initial reaction may be that this isn’t terribly useful, it is actually a HUGE gift. Especially if you find a cluster you aren’t familiar with.

Mystery Cluster

A mystery cluster is an opportunity to break down a brick wall. This report tells you which people to view on your match list who share that surname. My first step is to use that list and see who I match in common with each person at 23andMe.

My relatives in common with my Cluster 10 matches include my close Ferverda cousins who descend from our common Miller ancestor, plus a few Miller cousins. This confirms that this cluster does indeed originate in the Miller line.

Not everyone in that cluster shares the surname Miller. That might be a good thing.

I have a long-standing brick wall with Magdalena (surname unknown) who was married to Philip Jacob Miller, my 5-times great-grandparents. My cousins through that couple, at my same generation, would be about 6th cousins.

These matches are matching me at the approximate 4th cousin level or more distantly, so it’s possible that at least some of these matches COULD be through Magdalena’s family. In that case, I certainly would not recognize the common surnames. Therefore, it’s imperative that I chase these leads. I can also adjust the matching threshold to obtain more matches, hopefully, in this cluster, and run the report again.

Are you in love with Autokinship and its associated features yet? I am!

Summary

Wow is all I can say. There’s enough in this one report to keep me busy for days, especially since 23andMe does not support a tree function in the traditional genealogical sense.

I have several matches that I have absolutely no idea how they are related to me. This helps a great deal and allows to me systematically approach tree-building or identifying ancestors.

You can see if 23andMe has predicted these relationships in the same way, but other than messaging your matches, or finding them at another vendor who does support a tree, there’s no way to know if either 23andMe’s autogenerated tree or the Genetic Affairs trees are accurate.

What Genetic Affairs provides that 23andMe does not is composite information in one place – as a group in a cluster. You don’t have to figure out who matches whom one by one and create your own matrix. (Yes, I used to do that.)

You can also import the Genetic Affairs information into DNAPainter to make further use of these segments. I’ve written about using DNAPainter, here.

Once you’ve identified how one person in any cluster connects, you’ve found your lever to unlock the identity of the ancestors whose DNA is represented in that particular cluster – and an important clue/link to associated clusters as well.

If you don’t recognize these cousins at 23andMe, look for common surnames on your DNA Relatives match list, or see if a known close relative on your maternal or paternal side matches these people found in a cluster. Click on each match at 23andMe to see if they have provided notes, surnames, locations or even a link to a tree at another vendor.

Don’t forget, you can also select the “Based on Triangulated Groups” option instead of the “Based on Shared Matches” option initially.

Run A Report

If you have tested at 23andMe, give the Genetic Affairs AutoKinship report a try.

Is it accurate for you? Have you gained insight? Identified how people are related to you? Are there any surprises?

Do you have a mystery cluster? I hope so, because an answer just might be hiding there.

If you’d like to read more about Genetic Affairs tools, click here for my free repository of Genetic Affairs articles.

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