About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.

DNA Beginnings: Matching at Ancestry and What It Means

This is the fourth in the series of “DNA Beginnings” articles. Previous articles you might enjoy include:

Why Is Matching Important?

For genealogists, DNA matching to other people is the key to verifying your ancestors, beginning with your parents and continuing up your tree. You can also meet new cousins who may have information, including photos, that you don’t.

Each of the four major vendors has benefits that the others don’t have. As we review matches at each vendor, we’ll discuss the plusses and minuses of each one and how to use their unique features to benefit your genealogy quest.

Let’s start with Ancestry.

Ancestry

The highest total number of people have tested their DNA with Ancestry, although I’m not certain that holds true for testers outside the US.

This means that you are likely to find at least some close matches at Ancestry. Every vendor has people in their database that no other vendor has though. I recommend testing at the 4 major vendors, including FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and 23andMe.

At Ancestry, Where Are My Matches?

You’ll find the list of people who match you under the “DNA”, then “DNA Matches” tabs at Ancestry.

Ancestry packs a lot of information into your match pages. Let’s take a look at what that means to you as a genealogist and how you can make it work for you.

Clcik to enlarge images

I’ll be discussing each one of these areas, below, so refer back. Let’s start with the basic page arrangement.

  • Features at the top apply to managing and working with all of your matches
  • Features under each match apply to that match only.

Pretty straightforward.

I’ll begin at the top and review each item, but first, let’s talk about testing your parents.

Test Your Parents

First, if you have either or both parents available to test, by all means, test both parents and not just at Ancestry. This is sage advice for all vendors.

Be aware that if one or both of your parents are not your biological parents, DNA testing will reveal that fact.

When your parent tests, matches that Ancestry can automatically attribute to that parent’s side of your family based on matching you and your parent, both, are noted as such.

While this is useful, especially since maternally and paternally assigned matches are your closest matches, Ancestry only automatically assigns about as many matches as fall into your close matches category. Someplace between half and 1% of your total matches. I sort of deflated like a balloon when I made that discovery. 

It’s still definitely worth testing your parents, though, because you will be able to view your matches to see if they match you and a parent both. Even if Ancestry doesn’t assign them maternally or paternally, you can certainly derive clues from who you match in common – and you can assign matches yourself.

We will talk about exactly how to do this in a bit!

Now, back to the function bar.

The Function Bar

The function bar beneath the ad promoting parental testing is your driver’s seat.

Click to enlarge images

You’ll find a variety of filters and functions like searching and sorting your matches. In other words, these are the actions you can take. Let’s start with the filters, on the left.

  • Unviewed – The “Unviewed” filter widget displays only matches you have not yet viewed. Unviewed matches are annotated with a blue dot. Because your matches are displayed in highest to lowest order, you’ll see your closest unviewed match first. I use this filter a lot because it means I don’t have to scroll through the matches I’ve already viewed and analyzed.

I have a “one initial touch” policy. When I initially view a match, I step through all the functions I can utilize to identify how that person is (potentially) related to me and I make notes.

The rest of these filters and functions are important steps in that analysis process.

Please notice that you can combine filters.

I’ve clicked both the “Unviewed” and the “Common Ancestors” filters, meaning BOTH of these filters are simultaneously functioning. If you just want one filter, be sure to “Reset Filters” before clicking a second filter button.

  • Common Ancestors – That infamous little green leaf. In this case, when viewing DNA matches, that green leaf is very important because it indicates that Ancestry has found a (potential) common ancestor between you and your match.

Clicking on the little green leaf shows you the most recent common ancestor(s) that Ancestry believes you share with that match based on:

  1. The fact that your DNA does match
  2. And that you have common ancestors either in your tree
  3. Or ancestors that can be linked to both of you through other people’s trees

Notice Ancestry’s careful wording about these potential ancestors. Megan “could be” my 5th cousin once removed. “Could be.” Ancestry isn’t using weasel words here, but trying to convey the fact that people’s genealogy, Megan’s, mine or other peoples’ can be wrong.

In other words, Ancestry has found a potential link between me and Megan, but it may not be valid. These connections use trees to suggest common ancestors and some trees are not reliable. It’s up to me (and you) to confirm that suggested ancestral path.

Clicking on “View Relationship” takes me to the Ancestry tool known as ThruLines which shows me how Megan and I may be related.

I have Stephen Miller in my tree, but not his son John J. Miller as indicated by the hashed boxes.

I can click on the Evaluate button to see what type of evidence and which trees Ancestry used to assign John J. Miller as the son of Stephen Miller. In other words, I can accumulate my own evidence to validate, verify, or refute the connection to Daniel Miller for me and Megan.

I wrote about ThruLines here and here.

  • Messaged – The “Messaged” filter button shows matches I’ve sent messages to through Ancestry’s messaging feature.

You can track your messages in the little envelope button by your name at upper right.

  • Notes – The “Notes” filter shows your matches and the notes you’ve made about that match. I use notes extensively so I don’t replow the same field.

In my case, I took a second test at Ancestry several years ago when they introduced a new chip to compare to the results of my original test. I noted that this is my V2 test in this example.

Normally my notes are genealogy-related, especially in cases where I’ve discovered more than one set of common ancestors through multiple lines. I record hints here, such as which of my closest relatives this person also matches. I also record our common ancestor when I identify who that is or even who it might be.

You can create a note by clicking on the match, then on “Add Note” near the top.

  • Trees – The “Trees” filter provides the ability to view matches who have only specific tree statuses.

Perhaps you only want to view only people with public, linked trees. Why are public, linked trees important?

Public trees can be seen and searched by your matches. Private trees cannot be seen by matches.

A public, linked tree means that your match has linked their DNA test to their own profile card in a public tree. The linking process tells Ancestry who “they are” in their tree and allows Ancestry to begin searching from that person up their tree to see if they can identify common ancestors with their matches. In other words, linking allows Ancestry’s tools to work for you and allows other people to view your position in your tree so that can see how you might share ancestors.

Some people don’t understand the linking process, so I normally take a look at unlinked trees too, especially if the person only has one tree.

Be sure your DNA test is linked to your tree by clicking on the little down arrow by your user name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, then, click on “Your Profile,” then click on the settings gear beneath your name.

Then click on DNA:

You’ll see the tests that you own, so click on the little right arrow (>) to work with a specific test.

Finally, you’ll see the name on the test, the profile it’s connected to, and the name of the tree.

Not accurate or what you want? You can change it!

Ok, back to working with filters. Next, Shared DNA.

  • “Shared DNA” allows you to view only specific relationships of matches.

I use this tab mostly to see how many matches I have.

  • The “Groups” filter categorizes matches by the colored dot groups you establish. Matches can be assigned to single or multiple groups.

The good news is that you have 24 colored dot buttons that represent groups to work with. The bad news is that you have only 24 that you can assign.

Generally, I assign colored dots, and therefore matches, to a couple, not an individual. In some cases, especially with two marriages, I have assigned match buttons to a single ancestor. Of course, that means that one couple uses 2 colored buttons☹

After you’ve created your groups, you can assign a match to a group, or multiple groups, by clicking on your match.

“Add to group” is located right beside “Add note,” so I do both at the same time for each match.

I have one group called “Ancestor Identified” which is reserved for all ancestors who don’t have colored group dots assigned. I can tell which ancestor by reading the notes I’ve entered.

To view every match in a particular group, click on that group, then “apply” at the bottom.

The matches displayed will only be the 17 matches that I’ve assigned to the blue dot group – all descended from Antoine Lore (and his wife).

However, looking at who I match in common with these 17 people can lead me to more people descended from Antoine, his wife, or their ancestors.

  • Search – The “Search” function at far right allows you to search your matches in multiple ways, but not by the most important aspect of genealogy.

  1. You can search by the match’s name; first, last or Ancestry user name.
  2. You can search by surname in your matches’ trees. I sure hope you don’t have Jones.
  3. You can search by birth location in matches’ trees.
  4. You CANNOT search by ancestor. Say what???

Seriously.

Come on Ancestry…don’t make this intentionally difficult.

  • “Sort” allows you to sort your match list either by relationship (the default) or by date. I’d trade this for search by ancestor in a New York Minute.

We are finished with the filters and functions for managing your entire list, so let’s see what we can do with each individual match.

Match Information

We’ve already learned a lot about our matches just by using different filters, but there’s a lot more available.

You’ll need to click on various areas of the match to view specific or additional information.

Click on the predicted relationship, like 5th-8th cousin, to view how closely Ancestry,  thinks you are related based on the amount of DNA you share. If you click on the relationship, Ancestry displays the various relationship possibilities and how likely each one is.

Looks like there’s a bit of a disconnect, because while Ancestry predicts this relationship with 17 shared cM of DNA at 5th-8th cousin, their chart shows that variations of 3rd or 4th cousin are more likely. This is a great example of why you should always click on the predicted relationship and check for yourself.

Conversely, if you’re related to a match through multiple lines, or through one set of ancestors more than once, Ancestry may predict that you are related more closely than you actually are – because you may carry more of that ancestor’s DNA. Ancestry, nor any other vendor, has any way of knowing why you carry that amount of ancestral DNA.

Ancestry also shows you a little more information about how much DNA you share, and how many segments. Unfortunately, Ancestry does not provide a chromosome browser, so there isn’t any more you can do, at Ancestry, with this information – although you can certainly transfer your DNA to MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, or GedMatch (a third-party tool) who all provide chromosome browsers.

Ancestry shows you the number of cMs, or centiMorgans of DNA you share. Think about a centiMorgan as a length measure, for practical purposes. Each vendor has their own matching threshold and a matching piece of DNA with another person must be larger than that bar. Ancestry’s minimum cM threshold is 8 cM, the highest of all the vendors.

This means that any match lower than 8 cM is not considered a match at Ancestry, but that same person might appear on your match list at another vendor whose match threshold is lower.

Ancestry also removes some of your matching DNA before considering matches. In areas where your DNA is “too matchy,” Ancestry removes some segments because they feel that DNA may be “older” and not genealogically relevant.

There’s a great deal of debate about this practice, and strong feelings abound. Some people feel this is justified because it helps reduce the large number of matches, especially for people who descend from highly endogamous populations.

Other people who have one endogamous line among many others find that many or most of their matches from that population were removed by Ancestry when they did one of their two purges. That’s what happened to my Acadian and many of my African American matches.

Regardless, Ancestry tells you for each match if they removed DNA segments using their Timber algorithm, and if so, how many.

Clearly, when viewing this match, 1 cM of removed DNA isn’t going to make much if any difference unless that 1cM was the difference between being a match and not matching. You can read Ancestry’s paper about how their matching works beneath the hood, here.

There are only two real differences that DNA removal makes at Ancestry:

  • Whether you match or not, meaning you’re either over or under that 8 cM bar.
  • Shared matches under 20 cM won’t show, so if you have 22 cM of shared DNA with someone and Ancestry removes 3, you won’t show as a shared match to people you match in common. And people you match in common, if they have less than 20 cM shared DNA won’t show to you either.

Since Ancestry doesn’t provide their customers with advanced tools to compare segments of DNA with their matches, other than the two circumstances above, the removal of some DNA doesn’t really matter.

That might be more than you wanted to know! However, if you find some matches confusing, especially if you know two people are both matching you and each other, but they don’t show as a shared match, this just might be why. We’ll talk about shared matches in a minute.

Do Your Recognize Your Matches?

Ancestry provides a way for you to assign relationships.

If you click on “Learn more,” you’ll view the match page that shows their tree, common ancestors with you, if identified, and more.

If you click “Yes,” you’ll be prompted for how you match.

Ancestry will ask if you know the specific relationship based on the probabilities of that relationship being accurate.

After you confirm, that individual will be assigned to that parental side of your family, or both, based on your selection.

Shared Matches

Shared matches are a way of viewing who you and one of your matches both match.

In other words, if you recognize other people you both match, that’s a HUGE clue as to how you and your match are related. However, it’s not an absolute, because you could match two people through entirely different lines, and they could match each other through another line not related to you. However, shared matching does provide hints, especially if your match matches several relatives you can identify who descend from the same ancestor or ancestral couple.

This match only has initials and a private unlinked tree. That means they aren’t linked to the proper place in their tree, and their tree is private so I can’t view it to evaluate for hints.

How can I possibly figure out how we are related?

Click on the match.

Clicking on Shared Matches shows me the people that T. F. and I both match.

Notice that T. F. and I match my 5 top matches on my mother’s side. Clearly, T. F. and I share common ancestors on my mother’s side.

Furthermore, based on my notes and the amount of DNA we share, our common ancestor is probably my great-grandparents.

This match was easy to unravel, but not all are. Lets’s look at a different shared match list.

In this example, all 4 people have unlinked trees. The smallest shared match is 20 cM –  because Ancestry doesn’t show smaller shared matches below 20 cM. Of course, there are probably a lot of smaller shared matches, but I can’t see them. In essence, this limits viewing your shared matches to the 4th-6th cousin range or closer.

Just be aware that you’re not seeing all of your shared matches, so don’t assume you are.

Summary

By reviewing each match at Ancestry using a methodical step-by-step approach, there’s a great deal of information to be gleaned.

Let’s summarize briefly:

  • Your matches listed first on your match list are your closest, and likely to be the most useful to you in terms of identifying maternal and paternal sides of your family for other matches.
  • Test either or both parents if possible
  • Link yourself and the DNA kits you manage to their proper place in your tree so that Ancestry can provide you with parental sides for your matches if your parents have tested. Ancestry uses linked trees for ThruLines tii.
  • Manually assign “sides” to matches if your parents aren’t available to test.
  • Use the filters or combinations. Don’t forget to reset.
  • Click on “Common Ancestors” to view potential common ancestors – matches exhibiting those green leaves. This is Ancestry’s strength.
  • From Common Ancestors, check ThruLines to view matches linked to a common ancestor.
  • Don’t neglect unlinked trees.
  • Assign dot colors to ancestral couples or a way that makes sense to you.
  • Assign matches by colored dot group.
  • Make notes that will help you remember details about the match and what you have and have not done with or learned about that match.
  • Search by location or surname or a combination of both.
  • Assign relationships, when known. At least assign maternally or paternally, or both if the match is related through both sides of your family. Hint – your full siblings, their children, and your children are related to both sides – your mother’s and father’s sides, both.
  • Click on your match’s profile to view additional information, including common ancestors and their tree. Scroll down to view common surnames, locations and ancestors from both people (you and your match) found in those locations.
  • View shared matches to see who else you and your match are both related to. Your shared matches may well hold the key to how you and an unknown match are related. Don’t forget that Ancestry only displays shared matches of 20 cM or larger.
  • If you’d like to utilize a chromosome browser for additional insights and to confirm specific common ancestors by shared segments of DNA, download a copy of your raw DNA data file and upload, free, to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, here. They both provide chromosome browsers and advanced tools.

You can find step-by-step instructions for downloading from Ancestry and uploading elsewhere, here.

Join Me for More!

I’ll be publishing similar articles about working with matches at FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and 23andMe soon.

If you haven’t tested at all of these vendors and would like to, just click on these links for more information or to order tests:

Subscribe to this Free Blog

Did you enjoy this article?

You can subscribe to receive my articles in your email for free at www.dnaexplain.com by entering your email address and clicking on the Follow button.

Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here or follow me on Twitter, here. You can always forward any of my articles or links to friends.

____________________________________________________________

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 Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

  • com – Lots of wonderful genealogy research books

Genealogy Research

The Old Vannoy Homeplace, and Cave – 52 Ancestors #342

It’s amazing what you discover going through old, dusty, boxes.

Joel Vannoy, my ancestor, was probably born in 1813 in Claiborne County, the portion that would become Hancock County some three decades later. One record shows his birth in North Carolina. Regardless, the family moved to Claiborne County about this time.

Joel’s father, Elijah Vannoy settled his family up in a holler, not too far from the intersection of Mulberry Gap Road and Little Sycamore Road today, on a small spring tributary of Mulberry Creek. I found the land grants and the land itself several years ago now, but the old homeplace was long gone and no one living knew exactly where it stood.

Joel had a rough life, as did his father, Elijah, who homesteaded that land. By that time, the good, flat, land was already claimed. By 1834, Elijah was in financial trouble, the family had little, and Joel was trying to help keep his father, and the family, afloat. Both men struggled to keep their land.

Elijah died sometime after 1850.

Joel married Phoebe Crumley in January of 1845 and commenced raising a family.

Their first child, Sarah, arrived on the first day of December, that same year, followed by another daughter, Elizabeth, known as Bettie, my great-great-grandmother, in June of 1847.

Like clockwork, every two years or so, one by one, three more children were added, another daughter and a son before James Hurvey Vannoy arrived in February of 1856.

One final child, Nancy, joined the family in September of 1859. Of course, there is a suspicious gap or two, suggesting that perhaps a baby or two was buried in the family cemetery.

The Old Homeplace

The family lived on the old homeplace before and during the Civil War. The house was probably located someplace in this clearing, near the small stream where the family would have drawn fresh water. This land was anything but flat, ascending up the side of the mountains.

Family legend tells of the family hiding, with the chickens, in a small cave someplace up the mountainside on their property.

As you can see, part of the mountainside that Elijah owned is wooded yet today, with lots of craggy rock features. A cave could be hidden anyplace – and thankfully so. Otherwise, the family might well have not survived and, well, I wouldn’t be here.

Joel told the story about how they could hear the soldiers ransacking their house and farm, hunting for food, or pretty much anything they could use. Clearly, the family wasn’t hidden far from the house. They probably prayed that no child or animal made a noise.

The soldiers, like the mountain people, were desperate for food. The armies and marauding soldiers from both sides frequented this area.

It was only a few years after the Civil War when Joel moved his family from the land near Mulberry Creek on down Little Sycamore Road, into the portion of Claiborne County that would remain Claiborne when Hancock was split off. They probably didn’t want to move, but Joel and Elijah had lost the land in Hancock County to debt.

Joel’s mental health issues had probably already become apparent by this time because even though they moved, the deeding of the new property was “unusual,” and eventually, his wife owned their land in her name alone.

Joel, about 50 years of age, didn’t serve in the Civil War, but many of his neighbors did. Perhaps the war exacerbated Joel’s issues. We didn’t have either mental health care or medication at that time. Joel’s demons worsened with age and he eventually became institutionalized. In fact, right after the State Hospital opened in Knoxville in 1886.

Sadly, we don’t have any photos of either Joel or his wife, Phebe, even though Joel didn’t die until 1894 and Phebe didn’t pass away until 1900. Their grandson, William George Estes was a photographer, and the fact that we have some photographs of their children is very likely the result of his occupation. Thanks Will, but why oh why did you NOT take a picture of your grandparents, or your wife’s parents or grandparents for that matter. But I digress…

James Hurvey Vannoy

Yes, that’s Hurvey, not Harvey.

James was born to Joel Vannoy and Phebe Crumley in 1856, so he would have been a young child during the Civil War when the family was hiding in the cave up the mountain. I bet that’s one adventure he never forgot.

He would have been about 14 or 15 when they moved down to Little Sycamore.

James, who was eventually known as “Old Jimmy,” lived a long life, to age 92, and married three times.

He was also quite photogenic.

In this portrait, Jimmy looks to be maybe 40 years old. I don’t see any gray hair yet. Maybe a touch in his mustache.

In 1876, Jimmy married Matilda Jane Venable and had 5 children. She died in July of 1885, leaving him with 5 children under age 8, including a 3-week-old baby.

In April 1888, Jimmy married Martha Ann Lewis. I’m surprised he didn’t marry sooner.  They had 4 additional children.

This photo shows Jimmy and Martha Lewis, with four children. This photo looks to have been taken the same day perhaps as that portrait. In fact, the portrait may be a cleaned-up, cropped version of this same photograph.

Sometime, maybe around the turn of the century or slightly after, Jimmy’s photo was taken with his two sisters.

Nancy Vannoy, born in 1856, who married James Nelson Venable, the brother of Jimmy’s first wife, is on the left side of this photo.

Elizabeth “Bettie” Vannoy, my ancestor, born in 1847 who married Lazarus Estes is standing on the right side of the photo, meaning actually standing to Jimmy’s left.

We know this photo was taken before October 1918 when she died.

I’d say that Elizabeth looks to be about 60, which would date this photo to about 1907. That would make sense too, because Will Estes was still in his heyday as a photographer before the family moved North to Indiana a few years later. Jimmy would be about 50 and Nancy, 48.

Martha Lewis died in 1916, leaving Jimmy with children ranging in age from 16-24 in addition to his children from his first marriage.

We don’t know when this photo was taken, but I’d wager it was another 10 years later – maybe 1916 or 1917. Jimmy looks to be in his 50s or early 60s.

In December of 1917, at age 61, Jimmy married Minnie Magnolia Saunders, pictured with him above. She was significantly younger, 23, born in 1894. They would have three children, born from 1918-1927.

If this is their youngest son, George Dewey, at right, born in 1927, James would be in his early 80s here. The daughter would have been either 17 or 20.

It’s thanks to this third family who still lived in the northern part of Claiborne County, near Shawnee, in the 1980s that we have much of the information about this branch of the Vannoy family. I remember walking out to see the garden where Jimmy had lived with Minnie and the garden edge was lined with cannon balls from the Civil War. They lived within literal sight of Cumberland Gap where so many battles were fought.

Jimmy Visits the Home of His Childhood

On either Easter or “Decoration Day” in 1929, Jimmy Vannoy and his sister, Nancy Vannoy Venable visited the old homeplace in Hancock County. While soldiers scavenged here more than 65 years earlier, in 1929, Jimmy drove one of the early automobiles back to visit his childhood home.

Lucky for us, someone with a camera took pictures.

The tradition in the south is to “decorate” the graves and clean up the cemetery on Memorial Day, hence, the name “Decoration Day.” Often, families gathered in the cemeteries, had picnics, visited and shared stories and memories as they maintained the graves. Sometimes something a little stronger than sweet tea was present too.

Given the flowers in this picture, I’d guess that Jimmy, then 73, and his sister, Nancy, went to put flowers on the graves of their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They may have had siblings buried there too.

The bonus is that although the house is clearly overgrown and abandoned, it is the old homeplace. Probably the only glimpse we’ll ever get of the home that sheltered three generations of this family for roughly half a century before, during and after the Civil War.

Years later, a second photo surfaced, taken the same day which confirms the age and location.

On the back were written the names of the people, confirming the oral information from the first photo. The ink is smeared, but still legible. It’s my writing from back in the 80s during one of my exploratory visits. (Yes, I know NOW that I shouldn’t have used ink, but at least I did record the information.)

Pearlie Vannoy Bolton was Jimmy’s daughter with his first wife. She married Joseph Daniel Bolton and the year can be confirmed based on the birth year of the child she is carrying.

There’s one more photo that looks to have been taken the same day, based on Nancy Vannoy Venable’s clothes.

The perspective of the cabin is slightly different here. There appears to be no door, and the cabin is clearly small. The distance from the door to the end of the structure is about the same as the height of the door. If the cabin was 20 feet or 24 feet long, that would have been considered a LARGE log cabin for that timeframe.

Just think, Elijah raised 10 children here, and Joel raised 6 or 7.

Just a Glimpse

I’m oh-so-grateful for these old pictures. That family outing, fortuitously recorded for posterity on film is the only visit to that old home place that we’ll ever be afforded.

While we don’t know what Phebe Crumley and Joel Vannoy looked like, we do have photos of three of their children.

Perhaps Jimmy looked like Joel. Maybe Betty and Nancy, who look very much alike, resemble Phebe. At least I have photos of three of their children.

It may be only a glimpse, but it IS a glimpse back into a long-ago time up on the ridge above Mulberry Creek.

_____________________________________________________________

Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here or follow me on Twitter, here. You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends.

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 Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research

9-11 Twenty Years On: Let’s Roll – 52 Ancestors #341

9-11 seems both like it happened a long time ago and that the trauma occurred just yesterday.

Two decades have passed.

That day both broke us and buoyed us as Americans. It also terrified us.

I remember, vividly, in the midst of unimaginable despair watching the bipartisan members of congress gather on the steps of the Capitol, after having been evacuated, and spontaneously breaking into song – God Bless America.

Here’s the C-Span clip.

That gave me hope.

Fear, anger, shock, and a sense of vulnerability washed over every American. We were hurt, angry and we suddenly had a new enemy that we didn’t exactly know how to identify. They had been moving among us, and suddenly, we viewed everyone as suspicious – with reason. We were under attack, caught off guard, vulnerable in a way we never imagined.

How could this happen in America?

How could anyone do this on purpose?

Why would anyone hate us this much?

Both as a nation and as individuals, we struggled to understand, to comprehend the incomprehensible, and to cope.

Personal Stories

The personal stories of the victims and their families dwarf the stories of the rest of us. Their pain, then as now, is incomprehensible. The waiting, the fear, the horror.

Yet, every American, even those far removed from danger, has that day seared into their collective consciousness.

9-11 changed lives – almost everyone’s life in one way or another.

We know exactly what we were doing, where we were, who we thought about, and how it made us reevaluate our lives. It moved all of us in different ways.

Twenty years on, two full decades, I remember sitting at a red light. On the car radio, an announcer broke into a song, saying a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I wondered how a private plane (my assumption) managed to get close enough to crash into the World Trade Center.

That seemed really odd. Probably an accident…but. I called my husband. He had already been informed by his employer and was scrambling.

When the second plane crashed into the building, I realized instantaneously that this was no accident. So did he. Various of my family members sprang into action. I wouldn’t see them again for days or weeks.

As the day unfolded, we had no idea of where the next strikes would be or how many there were. I was with government officials that day and the next – days of planning and strategizing I will never forget. Suddenly, everything was a potential target and vulnerable.

Personal Choices and Tiny Actions

We, collectively, didn’t know what to do. Flights were canceled for days. People just wanted to get home. You couldn’t rent a car for love nor money. Strangers paired up to drive cross-country. Gas was short, priced outrageously, and unavailable in some places.

“Who” was coming after us? Every car became suspicious as did any box. Were bridges going to be blown up, water supplies poisoned? We were collectively on edge.

I had family members in police and emergency services. They could well be in danger – targets more than normal. We all felt like targets, or maybe more like powerless sitting ducks.

Some people reached out to those with whom they had previously been estranged – realizing those differences really didn’t matter. That life was short and precious and might end unexpectedly at any moment.

Were we actively at war and didn’t realize it yet? Military enlistments boomed that day. Those people are eligible to retire today, assuming they survived the resulting wars.

Many people checked on loved ones and neighbors. “How are you doing? Do you need anything?”

People with family members in NYC and DC and on planes in the air were frantic.

Others served in one way or another. The heroism of police, firefighters, paramedics, and volunteers at the crash scenes are legendary.

And those heroic passengers on United Flight 93 who clearly knew they were sacrificing their lives to protect the rest of us. Todd Beamer’s “Let’s Roll” became an immediate call to action and cultural creed. The last words of a hero that inspired us all to action. But what action? We didn’t know.

I doubt those brave people on Flight 93 knew the extent of the plans of those hijackers – targeting the Capitol.

The majority of us couldn’t do much of anything, so we did what we could.

We worried, we donated, we offered shelter, and we planted flags in our yard.

We became ultra-patriots overnight.

In the hours and days that followed, we volunteered. Firefighters, construction workers, volunteers, and specially-trained dogs traveled cross-country to the crash scenes in order to save as many lives as possible, and then recover as many bodies as possible. People made and donated food and water. Everyone wanted to help, to be a part of the solution.

We were collectively in shock.

Hope didn’t die. Neither did our resolve. We would not be defeated in this undeclared war. Yet, we didn’t know how or whom to fight.

What Did I Do?

I was in the car, driving, when the first plane struck. Then the second. Then the Pentagon. Then the first tower fell. A plane crashed into the field in Pennsylvania, and the second tower fell a few minutes later. All of this in less than two unbelievable hours. I was living in a slow-motion audiobook unroll, except this was all too real. Surreal, actually.

It would get even worse, more shocking when I eventually saw the videos.

As I drove to my destination, a governmental conference a few hours away, I realized the horrific magnitude of what was occurring, although we still didn’t know the scope. Everything was still unfolding. How much more was coming? And where? Was anyone safe?

The attack could have been much more widespread and massive than it turned out to be – we had no idea and suddenly, everyone needed to prepare. I started to present my conference session after lunch, but no one was listening. We decided, instead, to have preparatory round-table sessions. That made a lot more sense. Attendees filtered in and out, watching the TVs in the lobby to see if anything else had happened. We were as nervous as that proverbial long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Cell phones were ringing like crazy.

I stopped on the drive to the conference to check on a family member in public service, law enforcement, and a firefighter. I left a personal message, just in case. We didn’t know what was coming, how widespread whatever was happening would be, or who would be affected. Were there coordinated attacks planned in cities and towns across the nation?

Earlier that morning, everyone expected to see their loved ones again too – and thousands never would.

A shortened, uncertain version of “forever” was staring every American in the face.

I spent the next couple of days working with municipalities. Multiple family members were involved in various ways.

On my way home, you couldn’t find flags anyplace. I finally located a few and purchased a handful of small flags, about a foot tall and lined them up along the curb in my yard. That seemed so inconsequential in the face of a massive problem, but God Bless America just the same.

I wanted to volunteer on the scenes, but by that time, they had enough volunteers and I settled for working with local authorities. I made “doggie booties” to protect the feet of the search and rescue dogs along with “care quilts” for the victims’ families. I mailed them to organizations for distribution as needed. I have no idea who received those quilts, but I hope they brought the recipients some modicum of comfort – just knowing that some unknown person, someplace, cared.

Processing the Trauma

Quilters began doing what quilters do. We process many things, good and bad, through the act of quilting.

Exhibits occurred in many places around the country, including in New York today. Many quilts honored the victims and expressed hope. Others, grief.

I made a trauma quilt too. Well, sort of.

I’m sure you recognize this image, that iconic skeletal grid standing after the attack.

I cut the black pieces of fabric and ironed them to the background. The edges are raw and in some cases, “sharp.”

The background is smoky red.

Fire

Pain

Heat

Anger

Desolation

Overwhelming Grief

I was going to hand quilt an outline of the eagle crying, another iconic image of that day, in the blank space to the right.

But I never did.

This piece, as is, still hangs on the wall of my quilt studio, held in place with pins – not beautifully finished and bound like a piece of art. Just hanging there.

For a long time, I felt it was unfinished, no batting, no backing, no quilting. Just the small “top,” as you see it, hung with inelegant straight pins.

I felt guilty for not finishing it, but just this past week, I realized – it is finished.

It’s not beautiful or completed in a traditional way. It’s raw, the edges unsewn, incomplete – but it conveys, exactly as it is – everything that needs to be said.

Some things are never finished.

Some wounds never heal.

Life is short, uncertain, raw, and sharp.

It’s brutal and we bleed.

Nothing is guaranteed.

Sometimes life blows up in our face.

Or someone blows it up.

Today

I look around, taking stock today – of the raging pandemic and this country. We’re not fighting an external enemy anymore, but fighting those demons of hatred, burning just as hot and even more dangerously – within our own population and our borders.

We can’t recognize this enemy today either, because it’s us – the people who live on our street and in our community – and the hatred that has been slowly fueled and bred in the last two decades.

Hatred, that’s our enemy now – as it was then. But in 2001 we identified the enemy as the foreign terrorist organization Isis and its leaders who recruited and radicalized people willing to die to damage us. It wasn’t “us” back then, it was “them.”

I so desperately want our congressional representatives and elected officials to stand on the Capitol steps and sing together again, and to put the horrific bipartisan backstabbing that is destroying this country aside. We desperately need to heal, not be driven further apart until we literally view our neighbors as the enemy.

The increased and increasing violence and threats of violence tell that story.

Those terrorists tried to destroy us 20 years ago. They failed. Did the fear and undirected hatred emanating from those attacks plant the seeds of what is happening today?

They don’t need to attack us directly again. In fact, that would probably unify us. They certainly don’t want that. Right now, we are destroying ourselves. All they have to do is wait.

We can, we must, do better – or we, as a country, will not survive. They will have indirectly won.

We have work to do.

Let’s roll.

Paint Your Way Up Your Tree with MyHeritage, AutoClusters and DNAPainter – Free Webtember Webinar

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is sponsoring a free Webtember genealogy conference for everyone. Last week, 7 speakers presented, including my session, titled “Paint Your Way Up Your Tree with MyHeritage and DNAPainter.”

You can watch all 7 sessions free, here, for the full month of September – um – I mean Webtember😊. By the way, they have closed captions too.

You can download the syllabus with a paid membership and watch any of the 1500+ videos anytime. Click here to join and be sure to enter the coupon code, webtember, to receive a 15% discount!

Webtember Webinars

On the main Webtember page, you can sign up to view the sessions live each week for free.

Recorded sessions will be available later in the day on Fridays all month. You can read about Webtember, here.

Last Friday, we had people from 52 countries in attendance, including a few new cousins I didn’t know I had. How fun is that!!!

What can you learn from my session?

Paint Your Way Up Your Tree with MyHeritage and DNAPainter

We are so fortunate to have wonderful vendors and outstanding third-party tools. My session focused on how to turn your AutoCluster at MyHeritage into a beautifully painted chromosome map at DNAPainter.

While your genetic artwork is beautiful, that’s not the point. AutoClusters are a shortcut to identifying groups of people who match you and each other and therefore share a common ancestor.

I’ve developed a technique to utilize your close matches at MyHeritage, and your clusters, together, to identify ancestral groups at DNAPainter.

Each AutoCluster file contains about 100 of your matches in colorful groups.

This technique works for both beginners who have never done chromosome painting before, as well as people who paint regularly.

I’ve broken this technique down into easy step-by-step instructions for both novices and experienced DNAPainting artisans.

At the end, I show an example of how I leapfrogged from 3 to 7 generations back in time using these tools. I was able to identify segments that descended from Philip Jacob Miller and his wife Magdalena whose surname is unknown.

I know that segment either had to descend to all of us from either Philip Jacob or Magdalena. If it descended through him, then I should be able to find matches on that same segment from Philip’s brother’s descendants too. If that segment doesn’t descend from Philip, then I won’t match any of his relatives (except his children’s descendants) on that segment.

If that segment descends from Magdalena, maybe I can figure out her parent’s names by evaluating the trees of people who match me and these other people. In other words, I need to look for people who triangulate, on this or other common segments between this group of matches and share common ancestors in their trees. Fortunately, MyHeritage offers triangulation.

I’m oh-so-close, just oh-so-close to revealing Magdalena’s surname.

Do you have mysteries you’d like to solve?

Maybe painting your way up your tree using the AutoCluster Tool at MyHeritage, combined with DNAPainter and triangulation will help you break through your brick walls.

If you haven’t yet tested at MyHeritage or uploaded your results from another vendor to MyHeritage, you can purchase a test here or I’ve provided easy instructions for uploading your results from another vendor, here. If you’re ready to upload, click here to get started.

_____________________________________________________________

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 Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research

Free Webinar: 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestor Using Y, Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA

I recorded 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestor Using Y, Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Webinars are free for the first week. After that, you’ll need a subscription.

If you subscribe to Legacy Family Tree, here, you’ll also receive the downloadable 24-page syllabus and you can watch any of the 1500+ webinars available at Legacy Family Tree Webinars anytime.

In 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestor Using Y, Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA, I covered the following features and how to use them for your genealogy:

  • Ethnicity – why it works and why it sometimes doesn’t
  • Ethnicity – how it works
  • Your Chromosomes – Mom and Dad
  • Ethnicity at AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage DNA
  • Genetic Communities at AncestryDNA
  • Genetic Groups at MyHeritage DNA
  • Painted ethnicity segments at 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA
  • Painting ethnicity segments at DNAPainter – and why you want to
  • Shared ethnicity segments with your matches at AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage DNA
  • Downloading matches and segment files
  • Techniques to pinpoint Native Ancestors in your tree
  • Y DNA, Native ancestors and haplogroups
  • Mitochondrial DNA, Native ancestors and haplogroups
  • Creating a plan to find your Native ancestor
  • Strategies for finding test candidates
  • Your Ancestor DNA Pedigree Chart
  • Success!!!

If you haven’t yet tested at or uploaded your DNA to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, you can find upload/download instructions, here, so that you can take advantage of the unique tools at all vendors.

Hope you enjoy the webinar and find those elusive ancestors!

_____________________________________________________________

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 Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research

FamilyTreeDNA’s Chromosome Painting Just Arrived!!!

FamilyTreeDNA’s long-anticipated chromosome painting for ethnicity results just arrived!

Videos and a White Paper!

Along with the release, Family TreeDNA has also provided several resources.

Dr. Paul Maier, Population Geneticist at FamilyTreeDNA created a three-part video series that explains MyOrigins V3 and the science behind the results – in normal language that air-breathing humans can understand. These are absolutely wonderful and only about 10 minutes each, so be sure to watch – in order!

MyOrigins 3.0 white paper that explains the science in more detail is here! If nothing else, at least skim and look at the pictures. It’s actually an amazing document.

Your Painted Results

To view your results, sign on to your account and click on Chromosome Painting!

Click on any image to enlarge

There it is – your beautiful new painted chromosomes with your Continental or Super Population results painted on your chromosomes!

Look, there are my AmerIndian segments, in pink.

What Can I Do?

You can download your segment file too – in the upper right-hand corner.

You can also download your segment match file found under the chromosome browser tab and sort your segments to see who matches you on these segments. I provided instructions, here.

Of course, you’ll see both sides, meaning paternal and maternal matches, so it will be necessary to determine on which “side” your segments of interest originate, and who matches you on that side of your tree.

We will discuss these strategies and how to implement them in future articles.

A little birdie tells me that DNAPainter will have an import soon so you can upload your chromosome painting file to integrate with your match painting.

Right now, just viewing and appreciating your chromosome art that represents our ancestors is amazing. Did you find any surprises? Who else wants to print and frame this?

If you don’t have results at FamilyTreeDNA, you can upload DNA results from the other three major testing companies and pay a $19 unlock to receive your very own chromosome painting. Upload/Download instructions are found here.

_____________________________________________________________

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

Books

Genealogy Research

DNA Beginnings: How Many DNA Matches Do I Have?

People often want to know how many DNA matches they have.

Sounds simple, right?

At some vendors, the answer to this question is easy to find, and at others, not so much.

How do you locate this information at each of the four major vendors?

What else do you need to know?

I’ve written handy step-by-step instructions for each company!

Matches at FamilyTreeDNA

Sign on at FamilyTreeDNA and under autosomal results, click on Family Finder Matches.

At the top of the next page, you’ll see your total number of matches along with matches that FamilyTreeDNA has been able to assign maternally or paternally based on creating/uploading a tree and linking known matches to that tree in their proper place.

Your parents do NOT need to have tested for the maternal/paternal bucketing functionality, but you DO need to identify some relatives and link their tests to their place in your tree. It’s that easy. Instructions for linking can be found in the “Linking Matches on Your Tree” section of this article (click here), along with information about how that helps you, or here.

Obviously, if your parents have tested, that’s the best scenario. For people who don’t have that option, FamilyTreeDNA is the ONLY vendor that offers this type of feature if your parents have NOT tested.

At FamilyTreeDNA, I have 7313 total matches of which 3169 are paternal, 1402 are maternal and 6 are related to both parents.

Hint – your siblings, their children, your children, grandchildren, etc. will be related to you on both your paternal and maternal sides.

If you don’t have an autosomal DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, you can upload one from Ancestry, 23andMe, or MyHeritage for free. Click here for instructions.

Matches at MyHeritage

At MyHeritage, sign on and click on DNA, then DNA Matches.

At the top of your matches page, you’ll see your total number of matches.

At MyHeritage, I have 14,082 matches.

Matches are not broken down maternally and paternally automatically, but I can filter my matches in a wide variety of ways, including shared matches with either parent if they have tested, or other relatives.

If you don’t have an autosomal DNA test at MyHeritage, you can transfer one from Ancestry, 23andMe, or FamilyTreeDNA for free. Click here to begin your upload to MyHeritage.

Click here for instructions about how to download a copy of your DNA file from other vendors.

Matches at Ancestry

At Ancestry, sign on and click on DNA, then DNA Matches.

On your matches page, at the top, you’ll see a number of function widgets. Look for “Shared DNA.”

Click the down arrow to expand the Shared DNA box and you’ll see the total number of matches, along with the breakdown between 4th cousins or closer and distant matches.

Sometimes the number of matches doesn’t show up which means Ancestry’s servers are too busy to calculate the number of matches. Refresh your screen or try again in a few minutes. This happens often to me and always makes me question my sanity:)

I have 53,435 matches at Ancestry, of which 4,102 are estimated to be 4th cousins or closer and 49,333 are more distant.

For close matches only, if your parents have tested at Ancestry, when possible, Ancestry tells you on each match if that person is associated with your father’s side or your mother’s side.

You can’t upload DNA files from other vendors to Ancestry, but you can download a copy of your DNA file from Ancestry and upload to either FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage. Click here for instructions.

You can also download a copy of your tree from Ancestry and upload it to either of those vendors, along with your DNA file for best results.

Matches at 23andMe

23andMe functions differently from the other vendors. They set a hard limit on the number of matches you receive.

That maximum number differs based on the test version you took and if you pay for a membership subscription that provides enhanced medical information along with advanced filters and the ability to have a maximum of 5000 matches.

In order to purchase the membership subscription, you need to take their most current V5 test. If you tested with an earlier product, you will need to repurchase, retest or upgrade your current test which means you’ll need to spit in the vial again.

Please note the words, “up to 5000 relatives,” in the 23andMe verbiage. They also say that’s “over 3 times what you get” with their test without a subscription.

23andMe handles things differently from any other vendor in the industry. They made changes recently which created quite a stir because they removed some capabilities from existing customers and made those functions part of their subscription model. You can read about that here and here.

The match limit on the current 23andMe V5 test, WITHOUT the subscription, is 1500. If you tested previously on earlier kits, V2-V4, 23andMe has reinstated your prior maximum match limit which was 2000.

So, here’s the maximum match summary for 23andMe:

  • Earlier kits (V2-V4) – 2000 maximum matches
  • Current V5 kit with no subscription – 1500 maximum matches
  • Current V5 kit with subscription – 5000 maximum matches

Except, that’s NOT the number of matches you’ll actually see.

23andMe handles matching differently too.

23andMe matches you with their other customers up to your maximum, whatever that is, then subtracts the people who have not opted-in to genealogy matching. Remember, 23andMe focuses on health, not genealogy, so not all of their customers want matching.

Therefore, you’ll NEVER see your total number of allowed matches, which is why 23andMe cleverly says you “get access to up to 5000 relatives.”

Let’s look at my V4 test at 23andMe. Sign on and click on Ancestry, then DNA Relatives. (Please note, Ancestry is not Ancestry the company, but at 23andMe means genealogy results as opposed to medical/health results.)

At the top of your DNA Relatives page, you’ll see your total number of matches, before any sorting filters are applied.

23andMe does not automatically assign matches maternally or paternally, but if your parents have tested AND opt-in to matching, then you can filter by people who also match either parent.

I have 1796 matches at 23andMe, which means that 204 or 11% of my matches have not opted-in to matching.

You can’t upload DNA files from other vendors to 23andMe, but you can download a copy of your DNA file from 23andMe and upload to either FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage where you will assuredly receive more matches. Click here for instructions.

Summary

Each vendor has its own unique set of features and operates differently. It’s not so much the number of matches you have, but if you have the RIGHT match to break through a particular brick wall or provide you with a previously unknown photo of a cherished family member.

I encourage everyone to fish in all 4 of these ponds by testing or uploading your DNA. Uploading and matching are both free. Advanced tools require a small one-time unlock fee, but it’s significantly less than testing again. You can find step-by-step instructions to walk you through the process, here.

Have fun!!!

_____________________________________________________________

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

Books

Genealogy Research

DNA Beginnings: What is a Match?

Before we evaluate matches at each of the four major vendors, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry and 23andMe, let’s discuss what a DNA match is, what it means, and what it does NOT mean.

A Match to Another Person

Each of the four major vendors, but not some other vendors, provide matches to you and other individuals in their database.

This example from FamilyTreeDNA shows my mother’s match list listing me as her closest match, along with a kit I uploaded from Ancestry when I was recently updating upload/download article instructions for my readers. You don’t need to upload multiple kits to vendors.

Every vendor’s match list looks different, as is the information they provide. We will cover each vendor’s match list individually in future articles in this DNA Beginnings series.

Each vendor has different criteria for matching, but in essence, using that vendor’s match criteria – your DNA and the DNA of a person you match are identical on a section of DNA of a vendor-defined length.

Each of those vendors identifies the people who match each other and opt-in to matching in one way or another,

When you sign on to your account at each vendor, you’ll see a match list. Each of those people on that list match your DNA:

  • At or above the vendor-defined centiMorgan (cM) threshold. You can read more about centiMorgans here.
  • At or above the vendor-defined SNP threshold, meaning the number individual contiguous matching locations.

Each vendor has their own thresholds and internal algorithms that define matches. For example, a match of 8 cM with 1500 SNPs refers to both the length of the match (cM) and the density of locations within that segment of DNA that match between two people. Only matches above each vendor’s threshold appear on your match list.

Matches smaller than or beneath those vendor thresholds are considered less likely to be valid matches, so are excluded and do not appear on your match list.

Imputation Affects Matching

Different vendors test their customers’ DNA on different DNA chips:

  • Different chips test a different amount of DNA, but generally roughly 700,000 SNP locations
  • That 700K locations of DNA can be in different locations in your genome

In other words, just because two vendors both test 700,000 locations doesn’t mean they test the same 700,000 locations.

Even the same vendor will, over time, implement different DNA testing chips or modify the SNP locations tested on the same chip.

These different chips, chip versions and SNP locations are not fully compatible with each other, so the vendors use a technique known as imputation to level the playing field between non-identical files.

This is particularly relevant for vendors that accept uploads from other vendors.

In this example, we have 3 vendors and 10 different SNPs, or DNA locations.

  • Vendor 1, on their first Version 1 chip, tested locations 1-8.
  • Vendor 1, on their second V2 chip, tested locations 3-10.

Therefore only 6 locations, 3-8, were “common” between those two different chips used by the same vendor.

  • Vendor 2, on yet a different DNA testing chip version (V3) tested locations 1-4 and 7-10.
  • Vendor 3 on chip version V4 tested locations 2-5, 7, 8 and 10.

There are only 4 locations out of 10 tested by all the vendors’ chips.

If the vendor’s match criteria is that 10 locations in a row must match, then none of these people will match each other.

Sometimes differences occur because of chip differences, and sometimes a difference occurs because a location doesn’t read well for some reason.

In order to compensate for the differences in DNA locations tested/reported, a technique called imputation is widely used.

Imputation uses scientific probability techniques to fill in the blanks based on DNA that typically neighbors or “travels with” the nucleotides or DNA values, (T, A, C or G), found in the customer being tested.

Imputation allows all of those blanks to be filled in for all customers for each of those 10 locations, assuming the “missing DNA” is close to tested DNA locations.

It’s thanks to imputation that customers can download their raw DNA files from one vendor and upload to another for matching, even though the vendors don’t use the same exact chip.

Sometimes imputation is incorrect. Matching can be affected in both directions, meaning that some people will be on each other’s match lists who actually don’t match on a particular segment. Others would actually match if all of those locations were tested.

The highest quality matches are between people who tested at the same vendor, on the same chip or at two different vendors who use exactly the same chip. However, that’s often not possible and isn’t within the control of the customer.

False Positive Matches

This translates to, “You’re a match but not really” and is a headache for genealogists.

False positive matches show as a match between two people on their match lists, but they aren’t actually valid matches for genealogy.

  • A false positive match could occur as a result of imputation, of course.
  • A false positive match could also occur because the two people match because part of the DNA of their mother and part of the DNA of their father at those locations just happens to combine to appear as a match.

For purposes of these examples, presume that each of these matches exceeds the vendor’s match criteria so would be shown on your match list.

In our example, Person 1 and Person 2 match at all 10 locations, so they would appear on each other’s match lists.

However, if we could see the DNA of Person 2’s parents, we would see that Person 2 DOES match Person 1, but is NOT a valid match. Person 3 inherited the first 5 DNA locations from their mother and the second 5 DNA locations from their father.

While Person 2 technically is a match to Person 1, they aren’t a legitimate match because the segment of DNA that matches does not descend from the same parent. This means that the DNA did not descend in one piece from ONE ancestor, but clearly descended in pieces from two ancestors – one maternal and one paternal.

Therefore a technical match that is not a genealogical match because the DNA is inherited in part from both parents is known as a false positive and is said to be Identical by Chance, or IBC. You can read about IBC matches here.

False Negative Matches

A false negative match is just the opposite. False negatives occur when two people are NOT reported on each other’s match lists when they actually would match if all of the DNA at the various required locations were tested, read, and reported accurately. In other words, if imputation were not necessary.

  • False negatives can be caused by imputation not working as accurately as we would hope. Imputation is a probability tool, and it’s not perfect.
  • False negatives can also be caused by differing match thresholds at different vendors.

For example, if one vendor reports matches at 6 cM and above, and a second vendor reports matches at 8 cM and above, the same two people who match at 7 cM will match at the first vendor, but not at the second.

The only way you would ever know about a false negative match, because they aren’t reported, is if you simply happen to match at a vendor who allows smaller thresholds.

Also, keep in mind that each vendor creates their own imputations algorithms, so two different vendors using imputation on the same file may produce different results.

Determining Valid Matches

So, how might you determine which matches are actually valid matches?

That’s a great question.

There are useful “hints:”

  • If your parents have tested, a valid match will match one of your parents on that same segment of DNA. If your match does NOT match one of your parents, it’s a false positive match and invalid for genealogy.
  • If only one of your parents has tested, and your match does NOT match the tested parent, you can’t presume that person automatically matches your other, non-tested parent. That match could match your non-tested parent, or could be IBC.
  • If neither of your parents have tested, check to see if your match also matches close relatives who have tested, but not your descendants. For example, if a match also matches your aunt or uncle, or first cousins, that increases the probability that the match is probably valid.
  • The larger the match, the more likely it is to be a valid match. For example, matches in the 6-7 cM level are IBC about half the time. By the time you’re evaluating matches at the 20 cM level for a single segment, they are accurate almost all the time.

Keep in mind that each matching segment must be confirmed separately, and not every vendor shares the locations of the segments that match.

So What Is a Match?

  • A match is a person who is found on your match list at one of the major vendors.
  • A match at one vendor may not be on your match list if you both have DNA at another common vendor due to various reasons including the vendor’s match criteria, imputation, or file compatibility issues.
  • A match may be false positive, or IBC which means that person is not an accurate match for genealogy. This is especially true for smaller segment matches.
  • A false positive match can occur because of erroneous reads, imputation, or because your match is identical by chance.
  • The larger a matching segment of DNA, the more likely it is to be an accurate match meaning you and your match share a common ancestor.
  • The best way to tell if your match is valid is to compare your match to both of your parents as well.

A match is not a guarantee that you share a common ancestor unless you are matching to close relatives. You won’t match a close relative if the match is not valid.

What About You?

What is your plan to verify that your matches are valid?

Have your parents tested their DNA? Either of both parents?

If so, ask for your parents to upload their DNA with you to each vendor where you upload your own results.

At each vendor, you’ll have different matches. That’s exactly why we fish in multiple ponds.

I always work with my closest matches first, because I’m the most likely to be able to easily identify our common ancestor.

Locate your closest known relatives from both your mother’s side and your father’s side at each vendor. These people will be extremely helpful for our next article about shared matches.

_____________________________________________________________

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

Books

Genealogy Research

The Final, Really, Really Final Goodbye – 52 Ancestors #340

The final goodbye might not be what you think it is, or when. It certainly wasn’t what I expected.

I thought the final goodbye was when I buried my loved one. Or maybe the final goodbye was the goodbye just before they died when I was saying farewell, in person, for the last time. At least in this realm.

Of course, we might not know when we talk to them the last time that it is indeed the final time. That depends on how, when and where they pass over to the other side.

It Depends

My biological father died unexpectedly when I was a child. I had no concept of a ”final goodbye” at that age. I presumed he would live forever.

I didn’t get to attend his funeral either – so there was no closure at all until I was an adult. In other words, there was no final goodbye other than the last time I saw him which I thought was a “normal” goodbye. Maybe we are all better off that way.

Final, when we do know, just seems so…well…final. So much left unsaid – so many feelings we just can’t put into the right words. Feeling the need to say everything we can think of that maybe we should have already said. After all, we know we’re not going to get another chance.

Sometimes We Know 

I definitely knew the last time I saw my older brother, John, that it was the last time. He was suffering from end-stage cancer. He, however, had not accepted that he was approaching death – so for him it was definitely NOT the final goodbye. And because he was still fighting, I couldn’t exactly say goodbye either. I certainly wasn’t going to steal his hope, but I knew nonetheless.

My brother, Dave, died just a few months before John. That goodbye was torture. We BOTH knew – and our time together had been so short. We had only found each other as adults and had grown extremely close – only to be ripped apart by death.

I wanted that discussion to be anything BUT goodbye – yet there we were. He was fighting a losing battle and knew it. We spoke words of gentle love one final time. I assured him that I would see to it that he did not suffer. Trust me, you did not want to be the people who tried to stand in the way of that promise.

The Grim Reaper Knows No Justice

My brave sister, Edna, had survived breast cancer, complete with a double mastectomy and multiple rounds of debilitating chemo. We thought she was finally in the clear and then the sucker punch happened.

A heart attack followed by her death about 24 hours later. Edna and I had never said “goodbye” but she was no fool and realized as she endured her cancer therapy that chances weren’t good that she would survive. So while we tiptoed gingerly around the topic, we both knew what was going on.

Finally, finally, ever so tenuously we celebrated reports that Edna was cancer-free. We both began to breathe again. Edna and her husband decided to move to the mountains. Their life was back on track, or so we thought.

Edna was a realist.

Edna had just visited the doctor for a checkup again when she came home and insisted that they needed a vacation. Not later – now. Edna knew something she wasn’t sharing with the rest of us.

In a small Arizona mountain town, a few days later, Edna had a heart attack. Cancer is known to cause blood clots.

She died the next morning.

I never made it to Arizona in time to say goodbye, yet I knew when she passed. And I mean exactly when. I was on the phone with the nurse, because I knew something was very wrong. Then she coded. I literally sat there listening to the hubbub at the nurse’s station as they tried to revive her.

I knew she was gone.

While Edna and I left life unlived, we hadn’t left things unsaid.

I didn’t want to see Edna suffer from more cancer treatments. When I found out that her cancer had recurred, I knew that Edna’s exit was timely and exactly what she would have wanted.

Laughter as the Last Memory 

The last memory of my mother before her stroke was laughing.

I called Mom often as I drove home from work (hands free, with headset.) That spring day, I had stopped in the road to shepherd a mother goose and her goslings out of the road.

I quickly told Mom I was stopping and why. She admonished me to be careful and said she knew I would rescue the vulnerable and helpless, no matter what. She heard me “shooing” them because I left the cell phone laying on the seat of the car. I also realized later that if something “bad” had happened, she would have heard that too.

But the “bad” thing didn’t happen to me – it happened to her.

The next morning I received a call from my sister-in-law, Karen, that Mom had fallen. In reality, Mom fell because she had experienced a stroke, but we didn’t know that yet. Karen stopped to check on Mom and found her on the floor.

That’s the call no one ever wants to receive. I left work immediately, quickly packed a bag, and left for the hospital.

Hours and hundreds of miles later, Mom could still squeeze my hand, slightly, I think. I realized when she opened her eyes reflexively that she was blind. She couldn’t speak nor could she move. Then, Mom lapsed into a deeper coma. Two miserable weeks later, she FINALLY transitioned. So yes, I got to say many words of goodbye, but I doubt she heard them – at least not with her earthly ears. And if she did, her brain probably couldn’t process them.

Looking back, I’m so incredibly grateful that our last communication before that fateful call was us laughing at the goose escapade.

A Loving Transition

My wonderful step-father, Dad, knew he was ready and wanted to go on. We both knew he was leaving soon, a result of worsening chronic disease.

At that time, my life was a total MESS, in all caps, with my (former) husband having experienced a massive, debilitating stroke at age 47. Needless to say, I found myself in a position as complete bread-winner with extreme medical bills following his 6-month hospital stay, caregiver to a paralyzed man with neurological deficits, and a parent with two children who were suffering terribly in their own right. I was only able to get away one time for a few hours to visit Dad. There was no help on my end and we lived 6 hours apart.

Dad smiled broadly when I entered the hospital room. As ill as he was, love and joy radiated from his face when he saw me. He had a tracheostomy and could talk, at least a little. We both knew time was short.

We shared with each other how lucky we both were to have found each other as family, and how much we loved each other. Dad has never left me, even though he left this earth.

Horror

His son, Gary, my step-brother, died unexpectedly in very difficult circumstances the day after Thanksgiving six years after Dad passed away.

His death was so horrible that I’m not sharing the details with you. The only thing worse than getting “that call” at 5 in the morning is for “that call” to be “that kind” of death.

My step-brother’s death was entirely unexpected and there were no goodbyes at all other than standing in shock, graveside, as something containing the words “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” was read. I have blocked much of that week from my mind.

As much as I thought these were all final goodbyes, they really weren’t.

The Final Resting Place

Of those people I just mentioned, three, my Mom, step-Dad and step-brother are all buried within sight of each other in the quaint country cemetery down the road a few miles from the farm. I attended all of their funerals and said goodbye, sobbing, sitting on white folding chairs under a make-shift tent in the cemetery.

There is no comfort in funerals for me.

I said goodbye to John graveside as we buried him in a cemetery near where he lived, just a week or so after we didn’t say goodbye in his room at “rehab” that was really hospice.

My biological Dad is buried near the house in Dunkirk, Indiana where he lived with my step-mother. The process of filling in the blanks in his life, setting his gravestone and finally, just 4 years ago, visiting his grave accompanied by a supportive friend provided the closure I had never achieved previously.

One stiflingly hot summer June day in 1990, I stood by my sister, Edna’s grave at her service and tried to read a poem. It took three of us, me plus two of her grandchildren to get all the way through that reading. We would read until we couldn’t anymore, then pass it to the person beside us.

The poem, “A Little Step Away” (by O. J. Hanson) was found in Edna’s Bible and she had read it at her son-in-law’s funeral a few years before.

I found some modicum of comfort in the closing stanza:

It cannot be, for they live on
A little step away.
The soul, in everlasting life,
Has found a better day.

Today, Edna’s granddaughter lives across the road and other family members are close by, so I know she’s not alone.

That goodbye seemed so unfair. It was a cruel joke for her to suffer so, believe she was cancer-free, and then be gone so soon.

I said goodbye to my wonderful brother Dave when the preacher didn’t show up at his funeral and I unexpectedly gave an impromptu eulogy. I still laugh at that and Dave would have too.

Dave was cremated and never buried, so there is no “place” to visit to commune with him. There may have been ashes to ashes but those ashes are still transitory someplace. I just talk to him from time to time.

Dave took this photo through his semi-truck window someplace on the road on one of his last runs. To me, this is where Dave “is,” aside from watching over me.

For my daughter, Rachel, who was born prematurely, died a few hours after birth and was “disposed of” by hospital personnel, there will never be closure. As part of me, she accompanies me wherever I go. Like Dave, there is no “place” to say goodbye or visit – so she just travels along in my heart.

Cemeteries

While funerals don’t bring me comfort, the cemetery is at least a place to go to reflect, honor, and sometimes to talk to our departed family members.

It’s a place to visit after that “final” goodbye. Even though we know the essence of who they “were” isn’t “there” anymore – we go anyway. For them. For us. To grieve. To honor their life. To take flowers. To perform whatever loving maintenance we can do for them. Pull a weed or two. Plant something. Anything.

To tell them we are so sorry they aren’t here with us any longer in the flesh and that we had to say that goodbye in whatever form it manifested.

But those…those were not the final goodbyes – even though I thought they were at the time. In fact, I thought they were right up until this summer.

The Tombstone

There is ying and yang to everything in life.

A grave and tombstone marks the location of the last remains of our loved ones. We can stand or sit on the grave and be just 5 or 6 vertical feet away. We purchase a marker in tribute so our family members will never be forgotten. Our last “thing” to do for them – something intransient that remains with them forever, or at least until the ravages of time erode their names on those stones.

Of course, that’s just for graves in cultures where gravesites are not reused. For those whose graves are later shared with another, who are cremated or never buried for some reason, we have to adjust our thinking to something else. Find another way to memorialize and honor both their lives and absence. There won’t be any place for their descendants, if they have any, to search for, find and visit in another hundred years, or two. There is no tombstone which gives us at least the illusion of permanence.

Of course, sooner than later, their tombstone, or lack thereof, will be irrelevant to us. We’ll have joined them. Maybe it’s not just the funeral that’s for the living, but the grave too.

The Final, Really, Really Final Goodbye

I hadn’t been back to Mom and Dad’s graves in two or three years. They aren’t exactly on the way to anyplace. The last time I visited, I told them I didn’t know when I’d be back again.

Clearly, that was with the expectation that I would return. I did, a few weeks ago, but this time was very different.

This time is the final, really, really final goodbye.

I know I’m likely never returning. I know better than to say “never” in the absolute sense. Why would I never return to my parents’ and brother’s graves?

One of three things:

  1. My own time is limited
  2. I’m unable to return for some reason
  3. I’m moving even further away with nothing to bring me back

I’m fine. It’s number 3.

I’m excited for this new chapter to begin, but I never, ever expected the emotional response of that the final really, really final goodbye.

That Last Visit

I needed to make a final trip to Indiana and decided to take Mom and Dad a special bouquet of flowers this time. Normally, I purchase bouquets of live flowers, but I wanted something to last a little longer – even though I know they will be thrown away a few months from now.

Two bouquets of silk flowers have lived in my house for years. My favorites. My daughter gave me a hand-made gift a year or so ago that was gifted in a basket. I arranged the silk flowers for my mother in the basket as I didn’t want to leave a glass container in the cemetery.

I knew my daughter would want to be included.

When Mom was so ill, my daughter took off work, which she could ill-afford at the time and stayed with me at Mom’s side those final incredibly difficult days waiting for Mom to pass. I was extremely grateful and I know Mom, somehow, knew she was there.

The day that I went to the cemetery the last time was part of an emotion-filled weekend with multiple goodbyes in different ways.

By the end of the weekend, I felt I had been put through the emotional shredder.

Back Roads and Corn Fields

It had been three years since I had returned to Galveston, a tiny crossroads village with a 4-way flasher on the way to exactly no place.

I made my way across the back roads of Indiana and realized that the corn is as tall as me, or taller. A tractor was mowing hay. Kids were playing in the sprinklers in yards. It smelled like summer.

An old gas station was frozen in time at an even tinier intersection with maybe 10 houses.

Nothing much had changed. The hazy mid-summer Hoosier countryside is timeless.

While the real estate market in the rest of the country is smoking-hot right now, not so in rural Indiana. For sale signs that have clearly been planted in the front yard for months based on the unmowed grass around the signs and the washed-out words tell the tale that no one wants to move there.

The center lines of the small roads are worn off by years of local traffic. Many intersections have crosses and flowers strapped to the posts of stop signs – signaling a fatal accident took place there.

I remembered my own accident at one of those crossroads when another driver ran the stop sign. The corn was too high to see them approaching and I only caught the briefest glimpse of them before that horrible crash some 40 years ago.

On this particularly hot summer day, I was glad to finally arrive at the cemetery – as a visitor.

The cemetery where Mom rests used to be a cornfield and is two or three blocks long and maybe half as wide. Those are city blocks, not country blocks😊

I have a permanent note in my phone so I can locate exactly where Mom and Dad are buried without driving around and feeling like an idiot. I can always get close but never seem to remember exactly.

The note didn’t matter much this time. It’s unfair to cut trees down in a cemetery.

I realized as I was updating that note that I really didn’t need to do that because this was my last visit. But I did it anyway, just in case. Never say never.

My Mom is buried just to the right of Dad with her own gravestone. His first wife is buried on the other side, and beside both of them, his daughter, Linda, with a tiny baby-sized tombstone.

Linda would have been my step-sister, but she died as an infant, right after Christmas. She’s still my step-sister, technically, but I never knew her.

I always remember her for Dad, since he can’t anymore. And his first wife, Martha, gets to share his flowers too.

I pulled into the grass near the hand pump for water, opened the back of the car, and arranged the bouquets.

It was beastly hot and humid with the sun beating down. Just like I remembered life on the farm. You started to sweat the minute you moved and you were sticky within about a minute. Drenched within 10.

I stayed an hour or maybe more. I lost track of time.

I needed to talk to my parents – to fill them in about a few things.

And yes, I mean talking out loud.

It’s OK if you think I’m crazy. I embraced that years ago😊. And both of my parents already knew that – in spades – so it’s not news to them either!

I purchased a small Lunchable type snack at the local convenience store at the crossroads, spread my car quilt out on the ground, and sat down to break bread with Mom and Dad.

One last picnic together. Well, me, them, some ants and a box of Kleenex.

One last hot summer lunch with no AC and not even a fan. Just like time travel.

Yes, I could have sat in the car, but it wouldn’t have been the same. Things look different from the ground-level perspective.

Besides, I was closer to them, to the earthly loam that Dad plowed.

I could see that pesky Morning Glory that I always thought was a flower and Dad insisted was a weed. Now the Morning Glory gets to mock Dad and grow right in front of his tombstone and there’s not a doggone thing he can do about it.

I shared turkey and cheese with both Mom and Dad.

Mom didn’t like peanuts, so Dad got her share of those. That was always our special shared snack.

I explained to them that I was leaving and not coming back. For good this time. I explained that just like when I left Indiana all those years ago, I was alternating between excited, hopeful, and terrified.

Leaving everything behind that you’ve ever known is daunting, to put it mildly. There’s always the nagging voice asking if you’re SURE you’re doing the right thing or making a grievous error. I remember Dad encouraging me before when no one else did – and he would be now too.

I know that I’ll die far from their resting place and far from anyone else in the family as well.

I had a few other things to catch them up on too. It has been a while.

I asked for their help on a couple of matters if they have any agency whatsoever in that direction.

You might notice the Hershey Bar. Mom loved those and I bought that as a special treat for Mom. We found a huge one for her last Christmas. Of course, we didn’t know it was her final Christmas at the time. We gave it to her as a joke, along with a hammer and chisel, but she loved it and consumed it entirely in about 3 weeks. It might just have been the best gift she ever received!

Mom will always be remembered for Hershey Bars and her first, second and third desserts😉

I’m sure the local ant population loved everything too. It didn’t matter. I did what I needed to do.

I took a few flowers from Mom and Dad’s bouquet and placed them on Linda’s grave.

I always tell Linda how much Dad loved her and how I wish I had known her. We were close in age and would have been such good friends. Some people squander opportunities. She never had one.

I’m glad Dad is with her now. He grieved her death his entire life. His final goodbye to her was a hello, I think.

Gary is buried closer to both roads. I always take Gary a single flower, generally a rose. That’s the tradition and has been for the more than two decades since he died. Gary’s life always feels so incomplete to me – artificially cut short.

You can see Gary’s stone from Dad’s and vice versa.

I know that doesn’t make any difference either, but still, I’m glad they are buried in close proximity so that Gary is not alone. I hope Gary is at peace. He was not in this life.

They Are Free

I know their souls and spirits have all flown. I know their bodies are inanimate.

I expected that the final farewell had taken place when I said goodbye to their mortal presence, or maybe when we buried them – not years and decades later when I said my last goodbye at their grave.

I thought my grieving was done.

It wasn’t.

I cried.

I sang.

I danced.

I played both I Hope You Dance and Amazing Grace.

For them.

For me.

For peace.

The final, really, really final goodbye.

Ancestors

Countless times I have looked back at my ancestors’ lives in awe – at what they endured and survived. I’ve often wondered how they did it. Often those women had no choice in the family decision about leaving for another location and saying that final goodbye in the cemetery.

Many, MANY women left not only their parents, grandparents, and siblings buried in unmarked graves, locations burned forever in their hearts, but they left rows of babies behind as they moved on.

One of my German ancestors buried all but one child.

Two more buried children “at sea” which means throwing the bodies overboard after they died in their arms. I can only imagine the agony of those poor mothers and the rest of the family. The crossing for new opportunities would always be marred by that memory.

Others had lost spouses that remained in another country or state. Almost everyone left living family members that they knew they would never see again in this lifetime.

Of the women, most never had the opportunity to choose or even influence their destiny. All they could do was to say their goodbyes, one way or another.

They said a grief-stricken goodbye to each family member as they drew their last breath, lovingly washed and prepared their body for burial, cried in the church at the funeral, and mourned as the dirt hit the wooden casket in the grave.

They too discovered that, as painful as that was, it wasn’t the end of grief and that there was yet one more final, really, really final goodbye to be said before the ship sailed or the heavily-laden creaking wagon rolled out for the new frontier. A piece of their soul stayed behind.

Part of me will forever rest in the cornfield in Indiana that’s now a cemetery where my family members sleep.

I’ve done what I can.

Rocks and a Penny

On my Mom’s stone rests a rock from where her father, John Ferverda, was raised on his father’s farm, and another from the farm where our immigrant Ferverda ancestor settled.

On the way, I found a lucky penny – a tiny message from the universe perhaps. I tucked it in. Maybe for a visitor in the future.

Mom’s work is done here.

So is mine.

I hope that someday, someone else will put flowers on Mother’s grave.

_____________________________________________________________

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

Books

Genealogy Research

Announcing DNA Beginnings – A New Series

Welcome to DNA Beginnings. This exciting, upcoming series will be focused on the new DNA tester who may also be a novice genealogist and is unsure of quite what to do.

People ask, “Where do I even start?”

If this is you, welcome!

Which Vendors Will Be Covered?

This series will consist of one article for each of the four main DNA vendors:

Topics

Each article will cover two primary topics:

  • Matches
  • In-common-with or shared matches between you and other people

Along with:

  • Why each match type is important.
  • What matches and shared matches can tell you
  • How to make use of that information

More Information

For those who are ready – at the end of each article, I’ll include links with instructions for using more advanced tools at each vendor.

Get Ready!

While you’re waiting, you can upload your DNA data file from some vendors to other vendors, for free! That way you’ll have matches to work with, in multiple places. You’ll match different people at each vendor who are related to you in different ways. You never know where the match you need will be found – so fish in multiple ponds.

If you’ve tested at any vendor, you can download your raw DNA file. Downloading your raw DNA data file doesn’t affect your DNA file or matches at the vendor where you tested. The file you’re downloading is just a copy of the raw DNA file.

Just don’t delete the DNA test at the original vendor. That’s an entirely separate function, so don’t worry.

Uploading your raw DNA file to another vendor, for free, saves the cost of retesting, even if you do have to pay a small fee to utilize that vendor’s advanced tools.

Which Vendors Accept Upload Files?

Which vendors accept raw DNA data file uploads from other vendors? The chart below shows the vendors where you’ve tested on the left side, and the vendors you want to transfer to across the top.

To read this, people who have tested at FamilyTreeDNA (from the left column) can upload their raw DNA file to MyHeritage, but not to 23andMe or Ancestry. Note the asterisks. For example, people who tested at MyHeritage can upload their DNA file to FamilyTreeDNA, but only if they tested after May 7, 2019.

From to >>>>> FamilyTreeDNA MyHeritage 23andMe* Ancestry*
FamilyTreeDNA N/A Yes No No
MyHeritage Yes** N/A No No
23andMe*** V3, V4, V5 V3, V4, V5 N/A No
Ancestry V1, V2 V1, V2 No N/A

* Neither 23andMe nor Ancestry accept any DNA file uploads from any vendors. To receive matches at these two vendors, you must test there.

** FamilyTreeDNA accepts MyHeritage DNA tests taken after May 7, 2019.

*** Vendors do not accept the early 23andMe V2 file type used before December 2010.

None of these vendors accept files from LivingDNA who uses an incompatible DNA testing chip, although LivingDNA accepts upload files from other vendors.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Transferring Your Raw DNA Files

I wrote articles about how to download your raw DNA file from each vendor and how to upload your DNA file to vendors who accept DNA uploads in lieu of testing at their site.

You’ll save money by transferring your DNA file instead of testing at each vendor.

Transfer your file now and get ready to have fun with our DNA Beginnings articles!

Share and Subscribe – It’s Free

Feel free to share these articles with your friends and organizations. Anyone can subscribe to DNAexplained (this blog) for free and receive weekly articles in their inbox by entering their email and clicking on the little grey “Follow” button on the upper right-hand side of the blog on a computer or tablet screen. Hint – if you received this article in your email – you’re already subscribed so you don’t need to do anything. If you’re not subscribed already, just filling the info and click on “Follow.”

Every genealogist and genetic genealogist starts someplace and DNA Beginnings is a wonderful opportunity. The first article in the series will be arriving later this week!

_____________________________________________________________

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 Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research