About Roberta Estes

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

Big Changes for Big Y Test at Family Tree DNA

Today, I received a notification from Family Tree DNA (for group administrators) about some significant and very welcome changes to the Big Y test results.

The Big Y test, launched in November 2013, is a test for men who have already taken the regular Y DNA 37, 67 or 111 marker tests and want to refine their haplogroup further, or contribute to the building of the Y haplotree, or both. The Big Y test scans the entire Y chromosome for mutations, known as SNPs, which finds mutations on the Y chromosome that define branches of the paternal line of humanity. Some of these SNPs are already known, but some may be new, scientific discoveries found in your own DNA.

There’s lots to learn from Big Y testing, especially in conjunction with other testers through matching and haplogroup projects. The Big Y test has been responsible for taking the Y tree from hundreds of branches to tens of thousands that each tell a story of a branch or twig of mankind. That branch just happens to be yours and the people you match on that branch share a similar history.

In order to discern as much as possible, I have tested at least one man in each of my family lines for the Big Y. In the Estes line, I used the Big Y to shed light on a long-standing family story that probably isn’t true. The Big Y from my Lentz line produced very surprising results, matching an ancient burial along the Volga River from the Yamnaya culture. You can read more about that here. This just goes to show that you don’t know what you don’t know until you test.

The Big Y test, a deep dive into your haplogroup history, combined with the STR 37, 67 or 111 STR marker tests provide you with the most information you can obtain from Y DNA. The STR panels are focused on mutations that happen more frequently, so are relevant to genealogy in the past 500-800 years while the SNPs that define haplogroup branches happen less frequently, are viewed as “once in the lifetime of mankind” types of events, and speak to our older history, typically before the advent of surnames. Having just said that, I’ll also add that newer SNPs are being found that have occurred in a genealogical time frame and that do sometimes differentiate different lines of a family.

If you have taken a Y DNA 37, 67 or 111 marker test, you can upgrade to the Big Y by clicking on the blue upgrade link on your home page in the Y DNA section or in the upper right hand corner.

Big Y testers must first have tested to at least the 37 marker level, so the Big Y cannot be ordered without first ordering (or upgrading to) at least the 37 marker test.

The Announcement

Here’s what Family Tree DNA has to say about the new release:

Dear Group Administrators,

We’re releasing a big update to Big Y on October 10th and want to give you a first look before the release goes live.

Once the release is live, we will be recalculating Big Y matches. We anticipate this to take approximately 5-7 days. During this time, you will see a “Results Pending” page when you click on the Big Y section. You will be notified by email once your results are processed and ready.

Once the transition is complete, we will update you as to when BAM files will be available.

What’s New?

Here’s the breakdown of what we added and how it all works

Human Genome 38

We’ve updated from hg19 to hg38. This is a more accurate representation of the human genome and is the most recent version referenced by the human genome community.

Some of the advantages of hg38 are:

  • Better mapping of NGS data to the proper location
  • Consideration of alternative haplotypes across the genome

For more information about human genome builds, click here.

Terminal SNP Guide

We’ve added a terminal SNP Guide that allows you to view and filter the branches closest to the tester’s terminal branch on the haplotree.

BIG Y Browser

We’re giving you the ability to view your SNP data from Big Y. This will allow you to personally assess all SNP call positions that are being evaluated for matching purposes. This data will be continuously updated.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Imputation Matching Comparison

In a future article, I’ll be writing about the process of uploading files to DNA.Land and the user experience, but in this article, I want to discuss only one topic, and that’s the results of imputation as it affects matching for genetic genealogy. DNA.Land is one of three companies known positively to be using imputation (DNA.Land, MyHeritage and LivingDNA), and one of two that allows transfers and does matching for genealogy

This is the second in a series of three articles about imputation.

Imputation, discussed in the article, Concepts – Imputation, is the process whereby your DNA that is tested is then “expanded” by inferring results you don’t have, meaning locations that haven’t been tested, by using information from results you do have. Vendors have no choice in this matter, as Illumina, the chip maker of the DNA chip widely utilized in the genetic genealogy marketspace has obsoleted the prior chip and moved to a new chip with only about 20% overlap in the locations previously tested. Imputation is the methodology utilized to attempt to bridge the gap between the two chips for genetic genealogy matching and ethnicity predications.

Imputation is built upon two premises:

1 – that DNA locations are inherited together

2 – that people from common populations share a significant amount of the same DNA

An example of imputation that DNA.Land provides is the following sentence.

I saw a blue ca_ on your head.

There are several letters that are more likely that others to be found in the blank and some words would be more likely to be found in this sentence than others.

A less intuitive sentence might be:

I saw a blue ca_ yesterday.

DNA.Land doesn’t perform DNA testing, but instead takes a file that you upload from a testing vendor that has around 700,000 locations and imputes another 38.3 million variants, or locations, based on what other people carry in neighboring locations. These numbers are found in the SNPedia instructions for uploading DNA.Land information to their system for usage with Promethease.

I originally wrote about Promethease here, and I’ll be publishing an updated article shortly.

In this article, I want to see how imputation affects matching between people for genetic genealogy purposes.

Genetic Genealogy Matching

In order to be able to do an apples to apples comparison, I uploaded my Family Tree DNA autosomal file to DNA.Land.

DNA.Land then processed my file, imputed additional values, then showed me my matches to other people who have also uploaded and had additional locations imputed.

DNA.Land has just over 60,000 uploads in their data base today. Of those, I match 11 at a high confidence level and one at a speculative level.

My best match, meaning my closest match, Karen, just happened to have used her GedMatch kit number for her middle name. Smart lady!

Karen’s GedMatch number provided me with the opportunity to compare our actual match information at DNA.Land, then also at GedMatch, then compare the two different match results in order to see how much of our matching was “real” from portions of our tested kits that actually match, and what portion of our DNA matches as a result of the DNA.Land imputation.

At DNA.Land, your match information is presented with the following information:

  • Relationship degree – meaning estimated relationship
  • # shared segments – although many of these are extremely small
  • Total shared cM
  • Total recent shared length in cM
  • Longest recent shared segment in cM
  • Relationship likelihood graph
  • Shared segments plotted on chromosome display
  • Shared segments in a table

Please note that you can click on any graphic to enlarge.

DNA.Land provides what they believe to be an accurate estimate of recent and anciently shared SNA segments.

The match table is a dropdown underneath the chromosome graphic at far right:

For this experiment, I copied the information from the match table and dropped it into a spreadsheet.

DNALand Match Locations

My match information is shown at DNA.Land with Karen as follows:

Matching segments are identified by DNA.Land as either recent or ancient, which I find to be over-simplified at best and misleading or inaccurate at worst. I guess it depends on how you perceive recent and ancient. I think they are trying to convey the concept that larger segments tend to me more recent, and smaller segments tend to be older, but ancient in the genetics field often refers to DNA extracted from exhumed burials from thousands of years ago.  Furthermore, smaller segments can be descended from the same ancestor as larger segments.

GedMatch Match

Since Karen so kindly provided her GedMatch kit number, I signed in to GedMatch and did a one-to-one match with this same kit.

Since all of the segments are 3 cM and over at DNA.Land, I utilized a GedMatch threshold of 3 cM and dropped the SNP count to 100, since a SNP count of 300 gave me few matches. For this comparison, I wanted to see all my matches to Karen, no matter how few SNPs are involved, in an attempt to obtain results similar to DNA.Land. I normally would not drop either of these thresholds this low. My typical minimum is 5cM and 500 SNPs, and even if I drop to 3cM, I still maintain the 500 SNP threshold.

Let’s see how the data from GedMatch and DNA.Land compares.

In my spreadsheet, below, I pasted the segment match information from DNA.Land in the first 5 columns with a red header. Note that DNA.Land does not provide the number of shared SNPs.

At right, I pasted the match information from GedMatch, with a green header. We know that GedMatch has a history of accurately comparing segments, and we can do a cross platform comparison. I originally uploaded my FTDNA file to DNA.Land and Karen uploaded an Ancestry file. Those are the two files I compared at GedMatch, because the same actual matching locations are being compared at both vendors, DNA.Land (in addition to imputed regions) and GedMatch.

I then copied the matching segments from GedMatch (3cM, 100 SNPs threshold) and placed them in the middle columns in the same row where they matched corresponding DNA.Land segments. If any portion of the two vendors segments overlapped, I copied them as a match, although two are small and partial and one is almost negligible. As you can see, there are only 10 segments with any overlap at all in the center section. Please note that I am NOT suggesting these are valid or real matches.  At this point, it’s only a math/match exercise, not an analysis.

The match comparison column (yellow header) is where I commented on the match itself. In some cases, the lack of the number of SNPs at DNA.Land was detrimental to understanding which vendor was a higher match. Therefore, when possible, I marked the higher vendor in the Match Comparison column with the color of their corresponding header.

Analysis

Frankly, I was shocked at the lack of matching between GedMatch and DNA.Land. Trying to understand the discrepancy, I decided to look at the matches between Karen, who has been very helpful, and me at other vendors.

I then looked at our matches at Ancestry, 23andMe, MyHeritage and at Family Tree DNA.

The best comparison would be at Family Tree DNA where Karen loaded her Ancestry file.  Therefore, I’m comparing apples to apples, meaning equivalent to the comparison at GedMatch and DNA.Land (before imputation).

It’s impossible to tell much without a chromosome browser at Ancestry, especially after Timber processing which reduces matching DNA.

DNA.Land categorized my match to Karen as “high certainty.” My match with Karen appears to be a valid match based on the longest segment(s) of approximately 30cM on chromosome 8.

  • Of the 4 segments that DNA.Land identifies as “recent” matches, 2 are not reflected at all in the GedMatch or Family Tree DNA matching, suggesting that these regions were imputed entirely, and incorrectly.
  • Of the 4 segments that DNA.Land identifies as “recent” matches, the 2 on chromosome 8 are actually one segment that imputation apparently divided. According to DNA.LAND, imputation can increase the number of matching segments. I don’t think it should break existing segments, meaning segments actually tested, into multiple pieces. In any event, the two vendors do agree on this match, even though DNA.Land breaks the matching segment into two pieces where GedMatch and Family Tree DNA do not. I’m presuming (I hate that word) that this is the one segment that Ancestry calls as a match as well, because it’s the longest, but Ancestry’s Timber algorithm downgrades the match portion of that segment by removing 11cM (according to DNA.Land) from 29cM to 18cM or removes 13cM (according to both GedMatch and Family Tree DNA) from 31cM to 18cM. Both GedMatch and Family Tree DNA agree and appear to be accurate at 31cM.
  • Of the total 39 matching segments of any size, utilizing the 3cM threshold and 100 SNPs, which I set artificially very low, GedMatch only found 10 matching segments with any portion of the segment in common, meaning that at least 29 were entirely erroneous matches.
  • Resetting the GedMatch match threshold to 3 cM and 300 SNPS, a more reasonable SNP threshold for 3cM, GedMatch only reports 3 matching segments, one of which is chromosome 8 (undivided) which means at this threshold, 36 of the 39 matching DNA.Land segments are entirely erroneous. Setting the threshold to a more reasonable 5cM or 7cM and 500 SNPs would result in only the one match on chromosome 8.

  • If 29 of 39 segments (at 3cM 100 SNPs) are erroneously reported, that equates to 74.36% erroneous matches due to imputation alone, with out considering identical by chance (IBC) matches.
  • If 35 of 39 segments (at 3cM 300 SNPs) are erroneously reported, that equates to 89.74% percent erroneous matches, again without considering those that might be IBC.

Predicted vs Actual

One additional piece of information that I gathered during this process is the predicted relationship.

Vendor Total cM Total Segments Longest Segment Predicted Relationship
DNA.Land 162 to 3 cM 39 to 3 cM 17.3 & 12, split 3C
GedMatch 123 to 3 cM 27 to 3 cM 31.5 5.1 gen distant
Family Tree DNA 40 to 1 cM 12 to 1 cM 32 3-5C
MyHeritage No match No match No match No match
Ancestry 18.1 1 18.1 5-8C
23andMe 26 1 26 3-6C

Karen utilized her Ancestry file and I used my Family Tree DNA file for all of the above matching except at 23andMe and Ancestry where we are both tested on the vendors’ platform. Neither 23andMe nor Ancestry accept uploads. I included the 23andMe and Ancestry comparisons as additional reference points.

The lack of a match at MyHeritage, another company that implements imputation, is quite interesting. Karen and I, even with a significantly sized segment are not shown as a match at MyHeritage.

If imputation actually breaks some matching segments apart, like the chromosome 8 segment at DNA.Land, it’s possible that the resulting smaller individual segments simply didn’t exceed the MyHeritage matching threshold. It would appear that the MyHeritage matching threshold is probably 9cM, given that my smallest segment match of all my matches at MyHeritage is 9cM. Therefore, a 31 or 32 cM segment would have to be broken into 4 roughly equally sized pieces (32/4=8) for the match to Karen not to be detected because all segment pieces are under 9cM. MyHeritage has experienced unreliable matching since their rollout in mid 2016, so their issue may or may not be imputation related.

The Common Ancestor

At Family Tree DNA, Karen does not match my mother, so I can tell positively that she is related through my father’s line. She and I triangulate on our common segment with three other individuals who descend from Abraham Estes 1647-1720 .

Utilizing the chromosome browser, we do indeed match on chromosome 8 on a long segment, which is also our only match over 5cM at Family Tree DNA.

Based on our trees as well as the trees of our three triangulated Estes matches, Karen and I are most probably either 8th cousins, or 8th cousins once removed, assuming that is our only common line. I am 8th cousins with the other three triangulated matches on chromosome 8. Karen’s line has yet to be proven.

Imputation Matching Summary

I like the way that DNA.Land presents some of their features, but as for matching accuracy, you can view the match quality in various ways:

  1. DNA.Land did find the large match on chromosome 8. Of course, in terms of matching, that’s pretty difficult to miss at roughly 30cM, although MyHeritage managed. Imputation did split the large match into two, somehow, even though Karen and I match on that same segment as one segment at other vendors comparing the same files.
  2. Of the 39 DNA.Land total matches, other than the chromosome 8 match, two other matches are partial matches, according to GedMatch. Both are under 7cM.
  3. Of DNA.Land’s total 39 matches, 35 are entirely wrong, in addition to the two that are split, including two inaccurate imputed matches at over 5cM.
  4. At DNA.Land, I’m not so concerned about discerning between “real” and “false” small segment matches, as compared to both FTDNA and GedMatch, as I am about incorrectly imputed segments and matches. Whether small matches in general are false positives or legitimate can be debated, each smaller segment match based on its own merits. Truthfully, with larger segments to deal with, I tend to ignore smaller segments anyway, at least initially. However, imputation adds another layer of uncertainty on top of actual matching, especially, it appears, with smaller matches. Imputing entire segments of incorrect DNA concerns me.
  5. Having said that, I find it very concerning that MyHeritage who also utilizes imputation missed a significant match of over 30cM. I don’t know of a match of this size that has ever been proven to be a false match (through parental phasing), and in this case, we know which ancestor this segment descends from through independent verification utilizing multiple other matches. MyHeritage should have found that match, regardless of imputation, because that match is from portions of the two files that were both tested, not imputed.

Summary

To date, I’m not impressed with imputation matching relative to genetic genealogy at either DNA.Land or MyHeritage.

In one case, that of DNA.Land, imputation shows matches for segments that are not shown as matches at either Family Tree DNA or GedMatch who are comparing the same two testers’ files, but without imputation. Since DNA.Land did find the larger segment, and many of their smaller segments are simply wrong, I would suggest that perhaps they should only show larger segments. Of course, anyone who finds DNA.Land is probably an experienced genetic genealogist and probably already has files at both GedMatch and Family Tree DNA, so hopefully savvy enough to realize there are issues with DNA.Land’s matching.

In the second imputation case, that of MyHeritage, the match with Karen is missed entirely, although that may not be a function of imputation. It’s hard to determine.  MyHeritage is also comparing the same two files uploaded by Karen and I to the other vendors who found that match, both vendors who do and don’t utilize imputation.

Regardless of imputing additional locations, MyHeritage should have found the matching segment on chromosome 8 because that region does NOT need to be imputed. Their failure to do so may be a function of their matching routine and not of imputation itself. At this point, it’s impossible to discern the cause. We only know, based on matching at other vendors, that the non-match at MyHeritage is inaccurate.

Here’s what DNA.Land has to say about the imputed VCF file, which holds all of your imputed values, when you download the file. They pull no punches about imputation.

“Noisey and probabilistic.” Yes, I’d say they are right, and problematic as well, at least for genetic genealogists.

Extrapolating this even further, I find it more than a little frightening that my imputed data at DNA.Land will be utilized for medical research.

Quoting now from Promethease, a medical reference site that allows the consumer to upload their raw data files, providing consumers with a list of SNPs having either positive or negative research in academic literature:

DNA.land will take a person’s data as produced by such companies and impute additional variants based on population frequency statistics. To put this in concrete terms, a person uploading a typical 23andMe file of ~700,000 variants to DNA.land will get back an (imputed) file of ~39 million variants, all predicted to be present in the person. Promethease reports from such imputed files typically contain about 50% more information (i.e. 50% more genotypes) than the corresponding reports from raw (non-imputed) data.

Translated, this means that your imputed data provides twice as much “genetic information” as your actual tested data. The question remains, of course, how much of this imputed data is accurate.

That will be the topic of the third imputation article. Stay tuned.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Second Act Quilt – 52 Ancestors #169

A second act. Act two. What is it?

Aside from the second act in a play, a more contemporary usage of the phrase is a second career, often undertaken in retirement when one is less constrained by earning a living and putting food on the table each week. Hopefully one feels freer to follow a passion or love, without particular regard for financial reward or gain.

But people aren’t the only “beings” with a potential second act.

The recent hurricane tragedies have been ripe with stories of rescued animals. I’m an unbelievable soft touch for our furry friends and not only do I actively involve myself with animal rescue, and have for decades, I also support several groups, particularly in situations like the recent devastating hurricanes.

Aside from living sentient beings, sometimes inanimate objects such as quilts have a second life too. Although, I have to tell you, making and distributing “care quilts,” I have always felt that a quilt had a special calling to help comfort and cure people. Those of us constructing them are simply hearing that calling and cause those quilts to be born, so to speak. Midwives, in essence – not the story, only assistants in the process.

Sometimes, giving quilts and others a second life or opportunity helps to heal both the recipients and the donor.

In the Beginning…

I grew up quilting with my mother around a quilting frame in the local church basement with the Missionary Circle. Although somehow, in that time and place, the irony of sending quilts to Africa escaped me. I think it was the thought that mattered, at least I hope so.

I also made quilts by hand with the scraps from making my own clothes. I didn’t feel underprivileged at all. I loved the “custom clothes” I could make, generally out of remnants from the sale bin. I also loved using the scraps for things like matching doll clothes made by hand with no pattern. Later, as a teen, I made quilts with those scraps, often taking my quilting bag along when I babysat for after the kids were in bed.

When I was in college, I didn’t have time to either make clothes or quilts, but after I graduated and started a family, a few years later, I returned to quilting. There was something soothing and having moved away, quilting connected me with my roots, both figuratively and literally.

For (at least) hundreds of years, women have made quilts for utilitarian purposes, for warmth, to salvage any possible piece of fabric which was expensive both in terms of labor and cost, and to bestow as gifts on those they loved. Wedding and baby quilts are legendary.

Making a quilt was and still is quite an investment in terms of both money and time. For those who don’t know, quilts cost hundreds of dollars and hours, both. Trust me, it’s a lot easier and much quicker to take half the amount of money a quilter invests in a quilt and purchase a very nice gift card.

If someone makes and gives you a quilt, I guarantee, it’s a gift straight from the heart or they simply would not bother. But not everyone understands, cares or treats quilts as gifts of love.

The Quilt Disrespecter

My former mother-in-law comes to mind.

In the early 1980s, in-between a career, a young family and animal rescue work, I managed to make my former, now-deceased, mother-in-law a quilt, in the colors, fabric and pattern she selected. She asked that it be tied instead of quilted, so I tied it with little knots instead of the more traditional quilting. I enjoyed making the quilt, working alone mostly late at night after everyone else was long asleep, and gave it to her as a family gift for Christmas.

I was the “second wife” in a very conservative, religious family who wasn’t happy about either their son’s divorce or a second wife, and I hoped that the quilt would help thaw the ice a bit.

My mother-in-law put the quilt on the bed immediately, but the next time I saw it, it had a very large prominent stain. I asked her what happened, and when she told me, I was able to help remove the offending substance. The quilt was whole again, none the worse for wear. I was a bit bothered that she hadn’t seemed to care enough about the quilt to ask me about the problem before I noticed and asked her. But I shrugged it off as nothing.

I didn’t see the quilt again, and I wondered about it, but all things considered, was hesitant to ask. I didn’t want to rock the boat and she wasn’t exactly warm and friendly.

Rescuing Sister-in-Law

I wasn’t the only black sheep in the family, and well, us less-than-pristinely-colored-sheep had to hang together.

A few years later, after many slights, such as being “forgotten” at Christmas, even while sitting in the same room as everyone else exchanged and received gifts, I had given up entirely on the idea that I might even be treated as marginally human by my mother-in-law. I attempted to “make nice” as my mother would have said, for the sake of my husband and children.

My in-laws sold their condo and were in the process of moving to a senior facility. My sister-in-law, married to another son, herself a family outcast as well, was helping my in-laws pack and move.

In the garage, she found the quilt tossed in a corner on the floor. She knew I had made that quilt for “Grandma” as we called her, and she picked it up and asked Grandma what the quilt was doing there.

Grandma replied she was either going to throw it away or give it to Goodwill.

My sister in law picked the quilt up, looked at it and stated, “there’s nothing wrong with this quilt,” but my mother-in-law said that it was “old.” It was less than 5 years old, maybe 3 or 4. Hardly old by any measure I can imagine, let alone in quilt-years. Quilts when cared for even marginally last for decades.

My sister-in-law, bless her heart, told my mother-in-law that if someone makes you something and gives you a gift from the heart, the VERY LEAST you could do if you don’t want it anymore is give it back to them. My sister-in-law picked up the quilt, told my mother-in-law that she was giving the quilt back to me and put it in her car.

Hurt Feelings.

I can’t even begin to tell you how hurt my feelings were. Not only was the quilt I had made for my mother-in-law, with the fabrics she selected, so I know she liked them, tossed away like an old rag – by proxy, I had been discarded as well, again.

It was just one more hurtful chapter in a book, but having your gift of love rejected in such a demeaning way was especially degrading.

I folded the quilt up and put it away. It hurt.

Over the years, every now and again, I’d run into the quilt again when cleaning out a closet. I always felt bad, and then I’d find a different place to put it away out of sight. Out of sight never worked for very long, because I’d always find it again a couple years later. DANG!

Fast Forward

In 1993, my life changed catastrophically when my husband, her son, had a massive stoke. She died shortly thereafter. I was dealing with a horrific situation, still raising children, and needless to say, I had absolutely no time for anything except trying to make ends meet for several years.

Nearly another decade later, as I moved prior to remarrying, I found that quilt again. AGAIN! Once again, I felt terrible, for a whole bevy of reasons, and put it away – but it wasn’t going to stay put away forever.

This past summer, I began my own “downsizing” initiative, going through things, giving things away, finishing projects and otherwise taking stock of where I am and where I’m going.

And you’ve guessed it, I found that doggone quilt again.

But things have changed. I can now look back more with pity and sorrow instead of pain. With the cumulative wisdom and distance of another two or three decades, I now realize my mother-in-law’s rejection of me was far less about me than it was about her. I wish I had understood that then.

The quilt was her weapon in a cold war of sorts in which I was an unwitting witness as well as an unwilling participant.  Her own personal ongoing battle in which both me and the quilt were collateral damage.

It was never about me, or the quilt, really. In retrospect, the situation was profoundly sad – but someplace in the past 15 years or so, she lost the ability to hurt me anymore. She had died, leaving an unfortunate legacy, one I certainly wouldn’t want, and I had moved on.

Instead of quickly putting it away, I laid the quilt out on the table this time, took a look and realized it needed some mending. I wondered what I would do with the quilt. I wasn’t going to use it myself, but I wasn’t putting it away again either.

Hurricane Harvey

Then, hurricane Harvey descended on Texas, and in particular, Houston.

I have family and very close friends in Houston, and I prepared a box of “care quilts” to send. I’m sure that they have been put to good use.

That done, a few days later, I returned to my sorting and saw the quilt laying on the table. I realized that the quilt needed a new home, one that would hopefully love it the way it had never been loved, and that correspondingly, hurricane Harvey victims needed assistance. Many had lost everything.

About this time, my friend told me about her cousin and others who had been flooded out of their homes when the reservoir floodgates were opened to relieve pressure on dams. The devastation and tragedy in Houston seemed never-ending.

I told my friend about the quilt and that I would gladly ship it to her if she would find it a good home, someplace where it would be used, loved and appreciated.

Act Two

I opened the quilt and realized that other than a few places where some of the seams had begun to separate, that there was only really one damaged area. One tiny L shaped tear in the fabric, about an inch long.

I cut a “patch” in the shape of a heart and mended the quilt. Somehow, I thought that was appropriate. A broken heart made whole.

I hand repaired a few other locations, reinforced the binding since that too was now 30+ years old, and thought about how much comfort this quilt had been waiting for so long to give someone. Then, I gave the quilt a bath and held my breath that it would survive the washing machine. It did, just fine!

It’s not perfect and it’s not new, but its soft fabric is ready to comfort and warm someone. Maybe it will remind someone of their loving grandmother, or another quilt that comforted them. I hope so.

When I make quilts as gifts, or as “care quilts,” I take their picture when finished, say a prayer for the recipient, and sent them off on a life of their own. These quilts too have a purpose and destiny, just as people do, albeit one that I’ll never know. I give them wings and send them on their journey.

I am blessed and finally healed by being able to send this quilt off on its own healing mission. I was only the technician, although it certainly took long enough for this quilt to find its purpose. I pray that whoever receives the quilt can feel the love that this “pre-loved” quilt has to give, and receives the blessing of the positive thoughts that are sent along with it.

They need it, the quilt needs it, and so did I.

Just like people, and animals, sometimes “pre-loved” is the best.

It’s now known as “The Second Act Quilt.”

Sometimes the second act is far better than the first and just what the doctor ordered!

Bon voyage my friend…

First Cousin Match Simulations

Have you ever wondered if your match with your first cousin is “normal,” or what the range of normal is for a first cousin match? How would we know? And if your result doesn’t fall into the expected range, does that mean it’s wrong? Does gender make a difference?

If you haven’t wondered some version of these questions yet, you will eventually, don’t worry! Yep, the things that keep genetic genealogists awake at night…

Philip Gammon, our statistician friend who wrote the Match-Maker-Breaker tool for parental match phasing has continued to perform research. In his latest endeavor, he has created a tool that simulates the matching between individuals of a given relationship. Philip is planning to submit a paper describing the tool and its underlying model for academic publication, but he has agreed to give us a sneak peek. Thanks Philip!

In this example, Philip simulated matching between first cousins.

The data presented here is the result of 80,000 simulations:

Philip was interested in this particular outcome in order to understand why his father shared 1206 cM with a first cousin, and if that was an outlier, since it is not near the average produced from the Shared cM Project (2017 revision) coordinated by Blaine Bettinger.

Academically calculated expectations suggest first cousins should share 850 cM. The data collected by Blaine showed an actual average of 874 cM, but varied within a 99th percentile range of 553 to 1225 cM utilizing 1512 respondents. You can view the expected values for relationships in the article, Concepts – Relationship Predictions and a second article, Shared cM Project 2017 Update Combined Chart  that includes a new chart incorporating the values from the 2016 Shared cM Project, the 2017 update and the DNA Detectives chart reflecting relationships as well.

Philip grouped the results into the same bins as used in the 2017 Shared cM Project:

From The Shared cM Project tables:

Philip’s commentary regarding his simulations and The Shared cM Project’s results:

I’d say that they look very similar. The spread is just about right. The Shared cM data is a little higher but this is consistent with vendor results typically containing around 20 cM of short IBC segments. My sample size is about 50 times greater so this gives more opportunity to observe extreme values. I observed 3 events exceeding 1410 cM, with a maximum of 1461 cM. At the lower end I have 246 events (about 0.3%) with fewer than 510 shared cM and a minimum of 338 cM.

I thought that the gender of the related parents of the 1st cousins would have quite an impact on the spread of the amounts shared between their children. Fewer crossovers for males means that the respective children of two brothers would be receiving on average, larger segments of DNA, so greater opportunity for either more sharing or for less. Conversely, the respective children of two sisters, with more crossovers and smaller segments, would be more tightly clustered around the average of 12.5% (854 cM in my model). There is a difference, but it’s not nearly as pronounced as I was expecting:

The most noticeable difference is in the tails. First cousins whose fathers were brothers are twice as likely to either share less than 8% or more than 17% than first cousins whose mothers were sisters. And of course, if the cousins were connected via a respective parent who were brother and sister to each other, the spread of shared cM is somewhere in between.

% DNA shared between the respective offspring of…
<8% 8-10% 10-15% 15-17% >17%
2 sisters 0.6% 8.0% 82.4% 8.0% 1.0%
1 brother, 1 sister 0.7% 9.2% 79.7% 9.1% 1.3%
2 brothers 1.3% 9.9% 76.9% 10.0% 2.0%

Susannah (maybe) Hart (c1740-before 1805), Marcus Younger’s Mystery Wife, 52 Ancestors #168

Actually, we’re not even positive Susannah is her first name. I should have titled this “Maybe Susannah Maybe Hart,” but then I didn’t want someone to actually think her first name was “Maybe.”  I can just see that showing up in a tree someplace someday:)

Susannah might be her first name, but if so, it’s a lucky accident in a legal document.

In Halifax County, even in the 1800s, forms and standard language were used for various types of repeat transactions – and it was a mistake on a form that named Susannah – years after her death. The one record that surely did exist at one time, Susannah’s marriage documentation, likely burned when the King and Queen County, VA courthouse burned in 1828, 1833 and 1864. What one fire didn’t consume, the others did.

For sake of consistency, and because that’s what she has been called….and because I have nothing else to call her, I’ll continue to refer to her as Susannah.

Susannah married Marcus Younger probably sometime in or before 1759, because their first child and only (surviving) son was born on April 11, 1760, named John. Note that the child was not named for Marcus, the father. Perhaps another son was born and named for Marcus, but didn’t survive.

We don’t know who Marcus’s father was as we believe that Marcus was illegitimate, probably born to a daughter of Alexander Younger, taking her surname. But we aren’t positive. We do know that Marcus’s descendant’s Y DNA through his only son, John, doesn’t match the Younger DNA line that the rest of the Younger males in the family associated with Marcus carry. Based on Y DNA results, we know who Marcus’s father wasn’t, and there weren’t any other known Younger candidates, so the probable conclusion is that Marcus was illegitimate and belonged to one of the daughters of Alexander Younger.

Illegitimacy at that time was a significant social barrier. If Susannah married an illegitimate man, she may have been illegitimate herself. There are a lot of “ifs, ands and buts” in there – but it’s the best we can do with what we have.

Is John Actually Marcus’s Son?

Now, if you’re sitting there scratching your head, saying to yourself, “But if John was Marcus’s only son, and his male descendant Y DNA tested, how do we know that Marcus was illegitimate, based on that DNA test? Couldn’t John have NOT been Marcus’s son, especially since we don’t have a marriage record that predates John’s birth? Couldn’t John have NOT been Marcus’s son, because Susannah, um, somehow got pregnant by someone other than her husband?”

The answer would be yes, that’s certainly possible. It wasn’t terribly uncommon for women at that time to have a child before marriage, either out of wedlock or by a first husband who died, and for the child to take the second husband’s surname.

However, before we go any further, let’s address this question here and now, so we don’t have to ponder this anymore.

Autosomal DNA provides some very compelling information.

I have eleven matches at two different vendors with people who descend from Alexander Younger, believed to be Marcus’s grandfather, through different children. Because several of the matches are at Ancestry, it’s impossible to know if we share common segments, but there are members of the Alexander Younger who match with me and in common with each other.

However, that’s at Ancestry, and even though their trees don’t show other ancestors in common with each other, we can’t really tell if common segments match unless they are also at GedMatch, or at Family Tree DNA, which they aren’t.

It’s unlikely that I would match 11 different people through Alexander Younger’s other children if Marcus wasn’t related to Alexander. And if the break was between Marcus and John, I wouldn’t be related to Marcus or the Younger family he is clearly associated with.

Other Younger descendants whose kits I manage also match descendants of Alexander Younger.

One last piece of evidence is that in Marcus’s will, he left John, as his son, his land, so Marcus certainly appeared to believe John was his son.

It’s extremely unlikely that John was not the child of Marcus, based on DNA matches. I think we can put that possibility to bed.

Susannah and Marcus

Susannah and Marcus were probably married before 1760 in King and Queen County, VA, where the Younger family lived before moving to Halifax County, VA, around 1785. They could also have been married in Essex County, as the Younger land was very close to the border and they had periodic transactions in both counties. King and Queen County is a burned county, and no Younger marriage records exist in Essex County that early.

In 1780, when they were about 40, Marcus and Susannah were living in King and Queen County, based on Marcus’s Revolutionary War Public Service Claim where he furnished 1 gallon and 2.5 quarts of brandy worth 39 pounds, one shilling and 3 pence. Alcohol was expensive even then.

This implies that the Younger family was in very close proximity to the soldiers, if not the fighting. I wonder how that affected the family. Anthony Hart is a Revolutionary War Pensioner, living in Halifax County in 1840 and stated he served from Essex County in an affidavit signed for Edmond Edmondson. A William Young (Younger?) signs for Edmondson in 1782 in Essex County when he marries. William Younger is also found in Halifax County later, living beside Moses Estes, whose family is also from the same part of King and Queen County. Moses was the father of George Estes who would one day marry Mary Younger, daughter of Marcus Younger and Susannah.

What, you say, this sounds like a circle. Indeed, it does – or a continuation of a drama crossing 3 generations and as many counties too.

But this gets messier yet, because Marcus’s only son, John Younger, eventually married Lucy Hart.

In 1782 and 1785, Marcus and family are living in Essex County and are taxed under Anthony Hart. By this time, Marcus and Susannah were in their early mid-40s.

This Hart connection becomes very important. These families are close, possibly related…in fact, we know they are related because of DNA results, but we don’t know exactly how.

In Anthony Hart’s pension application submitted in 1832, he states that he was born on October 14, 1755 in King and Queen County and lived there until 1802 when he moved to Halifax. He states that Lucy Younger and Mary Gresham can prove his service. Given the fact that Lucy married John Younger who is about Anthony Hart’s age, it’s very likely that Lucy was Anthony’s sister. Lucy, in her deposition says, “I lived with Anthony Hart when we were both children.” Mary Gresham/Grisham says exactly the same thing.

Why don’t they just spit it out? How are they related? If they were siblings, why wouldn’t they have said that?

Was Anthony’s father’s sister married to Marcus Younger? Or maybe Anthony’s oldest sister? Of course, we don’t know who Anthony’s father was, so we can’t reassemble this family any further. All we do know is that Anthony Hart as also found taxed with one Robert Hart.

There are also other Hart family members, such as John Hart who are born in Essex County about 1777, moved to Halifax and subsequently died in neighboring Charlotte County. I, as well as other Marcus descendants, not descended through John Younger who married Lucy Hart also match to John Hart’s descendants. Someplace, there’s a connection.

Back to Susannah

We know very little about Susannah’s life between the time she and Marcus moved to Halifax County in 1785 and her death probably sometime before 1805. In reality, we aren’t positive she was alive in 1785, but it would be unusual for a man not to remarry for that long, especially at age 45 with children to raise.

Susannah probably died between 1785 and 1805.

Marcus Younger wrote his will in 1805, but he did not die until 1815, a full decade later.

I, Marcus Younger of Halifax Co, do hereby make my last will and testament in the manner following; First, after the payments of my last debts, I give my daughter Susannah 50 acres of land where my house stands during my natural life. Also one negro girl (Fanny), one mare, one bed and furniture, one cow and calf to her and her heirs forever. To my grandson Younger Wyatt one mare. The rest of my estate to be equally divided between my 4 children namely John Younger, Elizabeth Clark, Mary Estes and Susannah Younger. Appoint son John executor. Signed with X. Witness John Hannah?, Armistead Bomar, Sally Hannah?. At a court held for Halifax Jan. 25, 1815 will proved. John Younger executor. Phil Carlton security.

As you can see, there is no mention of a wife in 1805. Susannah is stated to be his daughter. Furthermore, Susannah is listed on tax lists as having a life estate. While Marcus’s will appears to convey this land in fee simple, later records infer that she only had a life estate – which would be what a widow would have had – not a daughter.

However, on March 9, 1816, we find the following deed:

Halifax County VA Deed Book 25, Pg. 568, July 1815, registered Mar 1816

Susannah Younger, Younger Wyatt and wife Sally, George Estes and wife Mary, all of the County of Halifax of the one part, and John Younger, of the same, of the other part are entitled to an allotment of land as described below, as distributed by Marcus Younger, dec’d., which by the consent of all the parties are as surveyed, after mutually agreeing to make a survey to Susannah Younger, who becomes entitled to the part allowed her under the will of said Marcus Younger, dec’d. and by the consent of all the parties, the unmentioned tract was sold to the highest bidder at auction on 12 months credit and commanded the sum of 421 pounds, 60 shillings. Now this indenture further witnesseth that for the above consideration the said Susanna Younger and all of the above mentioned have granted, bargained and sold released and confirmed to the said John Younger a certain tract of land in Halifax County on the draughts of Bannister River containing 62 acres beginning at a Post Oak on John Younger’s land. Signed by all thirteen parties

Thomas Clark and wife Peggy
William Clark
John Henderson and wife Sarah
Edmond Henderson and wife Elizabeth
John Landrum and wife Polly
George Estes and wife Mary

It appears that Susanna and the rest of her siblings sell their jointly held land to her brother, John Younger, and that Susannah’s individually held land was sold independently.

The following chart shows who is mentioned in the 1805 will versus the 1816 land sale.

Marcus 1815 Will, written 1805 1816 Land Sale
Susannah Younger – daughter 50 acres where house stands, Fanny (slave), mare, bed, furniture, cow, calf, her share of rest of estate Lays off allotment, sells
Younger Wyatt – grandson (mother Sally deceased) One mare Yes – Younger and Polly Wyatt
John Younger – son Equal share Yes, purchases
Mary Estes – daughter Equal share Yes, Mary and George Estes
Elizabeth Clark – daughter Equal share No
John and Sarah Henderson No Yes
Edmund and Elizabeth Henderson No Yes
John and Polly Landrum No Yes
Thomas and Peggy Clark No Yes

If one is to assume that the reason Marcus left a mare to Younger Wyatt is because his mother, who married a Wyatt male, is deceased, then what we are left with is that Elizabeth Clark has died and her children and heirs are listed in her stead in the 1816 deed, being the 5 individuals not listed in the 1805 will but listed in 1816.

Susannah Younger never marries and dies in 1831, and she leaves a will too that frees slaves Fanny and Harry and leaves them $50 each. In addition, she leaves her clothes to Susannah Estes and Mary Wyatt and the rest of her property to Younger Wyatt, the son of her deceased sister. Mary Wyatt is probably Younger Wyatt’s wife. The names Mary and Polly were often used interchangeably during that timeframe.

Then, in 1842, a chancery suit is filed to clear up the title on Susannah’s land. This was a lawsuit that was not contested, but likely had to be filed to obtain clear title from everyone, especially since it seems that brother John “bought” the land in 1816 and died in 1817, without title ever being filled or legally passing. In the following document, however, you can see why the confusion exists about Susannah.

The chancery suite does answer one question and that’s the name of Younger Wyatt’s mother – Sally. The chancery suit answers a whole lot more too.

Younger, Marcus Chancery Suit 1842-057, Halifax Co. Va. – extracted and transcribed in June 2005 by Roberta Estes sitting mesmerized in the courthouse basement.

The worshipful county court of Halifax in chancery sitting: Humbly complaining sheweth unto your worships your orator Thomas Clark that a certain Marcus Younger died many years ago leaving a small tract of land containing about 53 (58?) acres to his wife Suckey Younger for life and at her death to be divided amongst his children. That after the death of the said Suckey Younger, the rest of the children of the said Marcus Younger (the wife of your orator being one) sold the said land to your orator, put him in possession of the same and have received from him the whole of the purchase money, but have not as yet conveyed to him the legal title.

That one little word was problematic…wife. Suckey, a nickname for Susannah, may well have been Marcus’s wife’s name as well, which may have been why it was so easy to slip that word, wife, in there. But Susannah was clearly Marcus’s daughter, at least the Susannah alive in 1805, according to his will.

The next sentence then refers to the “rest” of the children, implying that Suckey is a child as well.

Perhaps Marcus’s wife’s name as well as his daughters was Susannah. Susannah was also the name of one of Alexander Younger’s daughters. Was Susannah perhaps also the name of Marcus’s mother? It’s certainly possible. Marcus had a daughter Susannah and grandchildren named Susannah as well. Too many Susannahs!

It’s also worth noting that in 1805, none of Marcus’s children appear to be underage, so all born before 1785, which makes sense. In 1815, his grandson, Younger Wyatt had married, so he was at least 25 or so, being born by about 1790, meaning Wyatt’s mother would have been born before 1770, so this too fits.

Furthermore, we have another problem. Elizabeth Clark is mentioned in the 1805 will, but Thomas and Peggy Clark are mentioned in the 1816 sale, along with several other people not previously mentioned. I surmised that Peggy, often short for Margaret, is the grandchild of Marcus, but according to the 1842 chancery suit, that wasn’t the case at all. Peggy was Marcus’s child. So, if Peggy is his daughter, is she the same person as Elizabeth Clark? If so, that means that Elizabeth didn’t die, so the 3 Henderson and Landrum families were not her heirs. So, who were they? Elizabeth Clark is the only name missing from the 1816 sale that was present in the 1805 will document.

And of course, all of this assumes that Susannah was the only wife of Marcus and that all of his children were her children as well. I hate that word, assume.

You can clearly see why I never thought we’d ever solve this conundrum unless some previously unknown records magically surfaced out of either burned King and Queen County (I wish) or neighbor, Essex (unlikely, since they the records show they lived in King and Queen.) Or maybe that e-Bay Bible, I’m still hoping for that.

The Chancery suite continues:

The names of the said renders(?) are John Henderson and Sally his wife, John Landrum and Sally his wife, Edward Henderson and Betsy his wife, Robert Younger and Mary his wife, Samuel Younger and Mary his wife, Thomas P. Anderson, Joel Younger and Fental his wife, Vincent Carlton and Nancy his wife, Joel Anderson and Sally his wife, Thomas Younger and Betsy his wife, William Estes and Rebecca his wife, James Smith and Polly his wife, Susanna Estes, Marcus Estes, William Clark and Mary his wife, Anthony Younger and Nancy his wife, John Younger and Betsy his wife, Younger Wyatt and Polly his wife, John Estes and Nancy his wife, Thomas Estes and Sally his wife. In tender consideration of the promises and in as much as your orator is remedyless therein at last?. To this end therefore that the above named renders? Be made parties to this suit and required to answer the allegations herein contained under oath. That in consequence of the said partys being numerous and widely dispersed in the United States that the said court decree that the legal title to the said land be conveyed to your orator and that the parties to the said contract as vendors? Be required to do so and unless they shall do so within a reasonable time that the court appoint a commissioner for that purpose and grant all other recipients relief. May it please the court to grant the Commonwealths writ of subpoena.

Next document:

The joint answer of John Henderson and Sally his wife, John Landrum and Polly his wife, Edward Henderson and Betsy his wife, Robert Younger and Mary his wife, Samuel Younger and Mary his wife, Thomas P. Anderson and Betsy his wife, Joel Younger and Fental his wife, Vincent Carlton and Nancy his wife, Joel Anderson and Sally his wife, Thomas Younger and Betsy his wife, William Estes and Rebecca his wife, James Smith and Polly his wife, Susanna Estes, Marcus Estes, William Clark and Mary his wife, Anthony Younger and Nancy his wife, John Younger and Betsy his wife, Younger Wyatt and Polly his wife, John Estes and Nancy his wife. Thomas Estes and Sally his wife to a bill of complaint exhibited against them in the county court of Halifax by Thomas Clark – These respondents saving? Do say that the allegations of the complainants bill are true and having answered pray to be hence dismissed.

Next document

This cause came on this day to be heard on the bill of chancery and answered and was argued by counsel and consideration and decise? that Jonathan B. Stovall who is hereby appointed a commissioner for that purpose do by proper deeds convey the lands in the proceeding mentioned to Thomas Clark in fee simply with special warranty.

Two attached pages in file as follows:

Page 1

Marcus Younger left 83 acres for life to Sukey Younger for life and at her death to be divided among his children. (Note – after this statement, in a different handwriting, begins the list of his heirs. Does this mean that Sukey Younger was not considered to be his heir, because she was his wife?)

Elizabeth Clark, Sally Wyatt, John Younger, Mary Estes, children of Marcus

Thomas, Sally Henderson wife of John Henderson, Polly Landrum wife of John Landrum, Betsy wife of Edward Henderson, William Clark, Children of Elizabeth Clark (inferring that she is deceased)

Younger Wyatt child of Sally Wyatt

Robert, Polly wife of Samuel Younger, Anthony, Joel, Betsy wife of J. P. Anderson, Nancy wife of Vincent P. Carlton, John, Thomas, Sally wife of Joel Anderson – children of John Younger

John Estes, William, Susannah, Sally wife of T. Estes, Polly wife of James Smith and a grandchild name Mark Estes – children of Mary Estes

Elizabeth Clark’s children are entitled each to 1/5 of 1/4th
Younger Wyatt entitled to ¼th
John Younger’s children are each entitled to 1/9 of 1/4th
Mary Estes children are entitled each to 1/6 of 1/4th
Mary Estes grandchild is entitled to 1/6th of 1/4th

Next page:

Thomas Clark and Peggy his wife – Halifax
John Henderson and Sally his wife – Halifax
John Landrum and Polly his wife – Halifax
Edward Henderson Jr. and Betsy his wife – Halifax
William Clark and Mary his wife – Patrick County
Robert Younger and Mary his wife – Halifax
Samuel Younger and Mary his wife – Halifax
Anthony Younger and Nancy his wife – Franklin
Thomas P. Anderson and Betsy his wife – Halifax
Joel Younger and Fental his wife – Halifax
John Younger and Betsy his wife – Pittsylvania
Vincent Carlton and Nancy his wife – Halifax
Joel Anderson and Sally his wife – Halifax
Thomas Younger and Betsy his wife – Halifax
Younger Wyatt and Polly his wife – Rutherford County Tennessee
John Estes and Nancy his wife – Rutherford Co Tennessee (actually ditto marks and John was actually in Claiborne by this time it is believed)
William Estes and Rebecca his wife – Halifax
Susannah Estes – Halifax
Thomas Estes and Sally his wife – Montgomery County Tennessee
James Smith and Polly his wife – Halifax
Marcus Estes (son of Mark) – Halifax

(Note – Marcus Estes the son of Mary Estes died in 1815 shortly after his marriage. Mary’s daughter, Susanna Estes also had a son Marcus Estes, not to be confused with the Marcus Estes, son of Marcus Estes, deceased, above.)

Is this not THE chancery suit to die for? Not only does it give you three complete generations, and pieces of the 4th – it tells you where the descendants were living in 1842. Never mind that the county for my John Estes is actually wrong – he and Nancy lived in Claiborne County, Tennessee but for all I know they could have originally gone to Rutherford County. John Estes did marry Nancy Moore. This was the ace in the hole that confirmed my lineage beyond dispute.

I think they heard me all the way upstairs in that old brick courthouse when I found these loose documents.

Now for the bad news.

  • I still don’t know when Susannah Younger, wife of Marcus, was born, other than probably 1740 or earlier.
  • I don’t know when Susannah died, other than probably between 1785 and 1805. She probably died before 1805 when Marcus wrote his will. But if Susannah in the will is actually his wife and not his daughter, then she died in 1831, at about age 90 or 91. That’s certainly possible.
  • I still don’t know her first name, for sure, nor do I know her birth surname, although I think there’s a good chance it’s Hart based on a variety of evidence.

Autosomal DNA

DNA may have come to the rescue, at least somewhat and has graced us with a clue that Susannah, if that was her name, was perhaps a Hart.

Marcus Younger is living with Anthony Hart in 1785 in King and Queen County, according to the tax list.

Anthony Hart and Marcus Younger both moved to Halifax, albeit 17 years apart.

Those dots could have been connected by genealogists years ago, and that connection then turning into a family story of Marcus’s wife being a Hart. It is, indeed a possibility, because that family legend certainly existed. What we don’t know is whether or not it descended through the family or was introduced later by genealogists.

In November of 2013, the seemingly impossible happened and several people from the Younger family matched a descendant of Anthony Hart – and I’m not talking about only descendants of John and Lucy Hart Younger. I match too, and I descend through Marcus’s daughter Mary who married George Estes. I don’t have any known Hart DNA from any other source. I wrote about this wonderful happy dance adventure in the article, “Be Still My H(e)art.”

Since that time, additional Hart matches have continued to accrue. However, the Hart family prior to Halifax County suffers from the same record destruction that the other King and Queen County families do.

Unfortunately, since this line does have a known illegitimacy with Marcus’s paternal line, it makes it more difficult to understand what an autosomal match really means. It could mean we’re matching Marcus’s father’s family lines and just don’t know that since we don’t know who he is, although the Y DNA does not match Hart males.  Hart could be found on any other line, however.

Unfortunately, with all of the unknowns, I’m still unwilling to call Susannah a Hart. In fact, I may never be willing to step out on that limb with any degree of certainty.

We don’t know who Marcus Younger’s parents were, although we can say with almost certainty that his mother was a Younger. Of course, we don’t know who Susannah’s parents were either, and we do know the Younger and Hart families were allied before coming to Halifax County.

The connection between the families could have been because Marcus married Susannah Hart. It could have been because the Hart family married a Younger. It could be because one of Marcus’s parents had a Hart ancestor or because Marcus’s parents and the Hart family had a common ancestor. Or all of the above. We just don’t know.

If we knew something more about at least Marcus’s heritage, I’d be much more likely to make a “call” that Susannah is a Hart based on the DNA matches. Unfortunately, for now and the foreseeable future, both Susannah’s first and last name will remain in question, but by utilizing mitochondrial DNA, we might be able to determine at least some things – and maybe eventually – her ancestry.

This is where we left Susannah’s story, until just recently.

Finding Susannah’s Mitochondrial DNA

Sometimes wishes do come true. I had just about given up hope of ever finding anyone who descends from Susannah through all females to the current generation, which can be male. Women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of their children, but only females pass it on. Someone descended from Susannah through all females would carry Susannah’s mitochondrial DNA, contributed by their mother, and straight back through the direct matrilineal line.

Susannah’s children were:

  • John Younger was born April 11, 1760 and died just two years after his father, on July 17, 1817. He married Lucy Hart. Sons were Robert Younger (c 1790-1877) who married Mary Polly Moore, Anthony Younger born c 1791, moved to Tate County, Missouri and died about 1877, Joel Younger (1791-c1877), John Younger and Thomas Younger. Daughters were Elizabeth (1790-1875) who married Thomas Anderson, Nancy born (1798-1865), Sally (c1800-after 1842) who married Joel Anderson, and Mary “Polly” (died 1873) who married George Wray.
  • Mary Younger born before 1767 married George Estes and had three daughters. , Susannah had 3 daughters that carried the Estes surname, Polly who married James Smith and had daughters and Sally who married Thomas Estes and had daughters as well. Mary Younger Estes also had sons John R. Estes (1787-1887) who married Nancy Ann Moore and moved to Claiborne County, TN, Marcus Estes (c1788-c1815) who married Quintenny, surname unknown and William Y. Estes (c1785-1860/1870) who married Rebecca Miller.
  • Sally Younger married a Wyatt male and both had died by 1805. The only known child is a male, Younger Wyatt, so this line is not applicable to mitochondrial testing. Younger Wyatt was married by 1816, so Sally Younger would have been born in 1775 or earlier.
  • Elizabeth Younger married William Clark and had three daughters.   Elizabeth was dead by 1816. Daughter Sarah/Sally married John Henderson, Elizabeth/Betsy Clark married Edward Henderson and Mary Polly Clark married John Landrum. Son Thomas Clark married a Peggy and William Clark married a Mary.
  • Susannah Younger, never married, born before 1785 given that no child in Marcus’s 1805 will was underage, died in 1831.

Only two of Susannah’s daughters had female children, Mary and Elizabeth, so there weren’t many descendants who fit the bill in order to test for Susannah’s mitochondrial DNA. Thankfully, one, cousin Lynn, descended through the daughter of Susannah Estes, granddaughter of Susannah Younger, stepped forward.

Thank you, thank you, cousin Lynn.

The Younger Cemetery

If we assume that Susannah and Marcus were married when she was about 20, which was typical for the time, and she had children for the next 23 years, she would have given birth to a total of between 12 and 15 children, depending on whether she had children every 2 years, every 18 months or perhaps even closer if a child died during childbirth. Of those, we know that 5 lived to adulthood, assuming that Susannah who died in 1831 really was a daughter and not Susannah (wife of Marcus) herself.

The sad, silent, untold tale is that Susannah buried more children than she raised, by a 2 or 3 to 1 ratio, leaving most, if not all of them, behind in 1785 when she and Marcus moved to Halifax County. Children who died after that are certainly buried in the old Younger Cemetery on the land owned by Susannah and Marcus. Today, the land is forested with periwinkle carpeting the forest floor, perhaps planted by Susannah’s own hands.

This too is likely where Susannah herself, as well as Marcus, are buried, in an unmarked grave beneath a fieldstone, as well as son John, daughters Susannah and Sally, and possibly, daughters Mary and Elizabeth too. Susannah’s children and grandchildren would have known exactly which stone was hers, but as they moved away, died and were buried as well, the last few in the 1880s, that memory faded away with them and the land eventually passed out of the Younger family in the early 1900s.

By the time I was hunting for the Younger Cemetery in the early 2000s, the only way to find it was by tracking deeds backward and forward in time and from an old letter, found in the neighboring Pittsylvania County library detailing another researcher’s search for that same cemetery sometime between 1930 and 1960, when phone numbers only had 5 digits.

Fortunately, with the help of locals and a very nice property owner, I not only found the cemetery, but was taken to visit.

 

Susannah’s Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren

Susannah’s great-grandson through daughter Mary Younger Estes, Ezekiel Estes is shown below in what was probably a funeral photo.  He carried Susannah’s mitochondrial DNA, contributed by his mother Susannah Estes, but since only women pass their mitochondrial DNA on to their children, his children don’t carry Susannah’s mitochondrial DNA.

Susannah’s grandson, John R. Estes, shown below, son of Mary Younger and George Estes.  He also carried her mitochondrial DNA, but didn’t pass it on.

J. E. and Mary Anne Smith, youngest son of Polly Estes (daughter of Mary Younger Estes) and James Smith.  J. E. is a great-grandson of Susannah, and he too carried her mitochondrial DNA, but he didn’t pass it on either.

I look at this picture of his eye patch, and I know there is a story just aching to be told.

Joel Younger, Susannah’s grandson through son, John Younger and Lucy Hart. Joel didn’t carry Susannah’s mitochondrial DNA, but that of Lucy Hart, his mother.

Lynn’s great-great-great-grandmother, and Susannah Younger’s great-granddaughter, Mary Mildred Estes Greenwood is pictured below. Mary’s mother was Susannah Estes, daughter of Mary Younger Estes.  Mary Mildred did carry, and pass Susannah’s mitochondrial DNA on to her offspring, who continued to pass it on down the line of women to Lynn today.

Looking back 8 generation in time. We may not know her name for sure, but we have Susannah’s DNA, through her great-granddaughter, Mary Mildred!

What can we tell?

Susannah’s Mitochondrial Story

Susannah’s haplogroup is H1a3a. That tells us that she is of European origin.

She does have full sequence matches, and 3 with no genetic distance, meaning they are exact matches. Does this mean we can find the common ancestor?

Possibly.

One match didn’t answer the e-mail, one person’s e-mail bounced and the third person is brick-walled in another state in the 1800s.

In the paper titled “A ‘Copernican’ Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root,” we find that Dr. Behar has calculated the most likely age of haplogroup H1a3a to have been born about 3,859.4 years before present, with a standard deviation in years of 1621.8. This means that the range of years in which the mutation occurred that gave birth to haplogroup H1a3a was most likely sometime between 2238 years ago and 5480 years ago.

The only other mutations that cousin Lynn carries are a few that are typically not included in aging calculations because they are found in unstable regions of the mitochondria. So, we don’t have any further clues as to how long ago a common ancestor with everyone who matches Lynn exactly might be.

Clearly, Lynn’s matches’ ancestors migrated to the US, and clearly, they share a common ancestor with Lynn (and therefore with Susannah) at some point in time, but we just don’t know when. It could have been in the US, or hundreds or even thousands of years before.

However, even if their common ancestor was prior to immigration, where, exactly was that? Can we tell something more from Lynn’s matches?

In order for a match to show up on your Matches Map, the test taker must complete the Ancestor’s Location, beneath the map.

Unfortunately, none of Lynn’s exact matches did that. However, several of her matches at the genetic distance of 2 and 3 did enter locations, and are found in Sweden and the UK.

Another barometer we can look at is where in the world are other people who are included in haplogroup H1a3a from? Clearly, they shared an ancestor with Susannah at one time in history.

On the Haplogroup Origins page, at the HVR1 level, we find a significant number in Germany and Sweden with several throughout the UK as well:

These people don’t necessarily match Lynn today at the personal mutation level, but they do share a common ancestor with our Susannah at the point in time that H1a3a was created. From that location, descendants have clearly spread far and wide.

This distribution would strongly suggest that haplogroup H1a3a originated in continental Europe and subsequently, some people with that haplogroup migrated to what is now the UK. The Native American indication found in the US are likely from people who believed their ancestor was Native American, or didn’t understand the instructions clearly, or don’t realize that haplogroup H1a3a is not Native, but European.

Lynn’s exact matches are shown below:

Given that Ireland and the UK are the locations I would have expected at this point in American history, especially in King and Queen or Essex County, VA., this information is very probably accurate. When evaluating matching, full sequence always trumps HVR1 or HVR2 matches, being much more specific.

The Ancestral Origins page shows the locations where Lynn’s matches say that their most distant matrilineal ancestor originated.

Of course, Ancestral Origins depends on accurate reporting of the genealogy of Lynn’s matches.

What additional information can we glean?

Checking Lynn’s autosomal DNA matches and searching by the name of Hart, we find 150 matches. Hart is not exactly an uncommon name, and this also includes a few names of which “hart” it only a portion, like “Chart,” for example.

Unfortunately, with Marcus’s uncertain parentage, even if the matches do descend from this same Hart family, and triangulate, we can’t say for sure that the Hart lineage is through Susannah. Interestingly, Lynn and other descendants of Marcus through children other than John (who married Lucy Hart) have matches with descendants of Anthony Hart, who we already met.

Hart is the recurring theme here that won’t go away. There’s an awful lot of smoke for there not to be any fire. Of course, with the 4 parents of Marcus and Susannah all being unknown, except for a suspected Younger female as Marcus’s mother, the Hart connection could be just about anyplace, or multiple places.

Summary

It’s ironic somehow that while we don’t know Susannah’s name, for sure, and even less about her surname, we do know about her ancient history from her mitochondrial DNA which was passed to her descendants, written indelibly, but her name was not.

We know she was European and that sometime around 3800 years ago, her ancestors were probably in the Germanic region of continental Europe. After that, they probably migrated to the British Isles with a group of people who would settle those islands.

We may be able to utilize her mitochondrial DNA to further confirm her family ancestry, especially in combination with autosomal DNA. At this point, all we can do is wait for another female to test and match cousin Lynn, with the hope that they have some sort of genealogy records back to a matrilineal Hart ancestor.

While that seems a long shot, then so was finding cousin Lynn, or more accurately, cousin Lynn finding me. I’m not giving up hope! I have confidence that we will unravel this puzzle one day. Now, thanks to cousin Lynn, it’s just a matter of time and patience.

Family Tree DNA Sale, MyHeritage Transfers and Hurricane Fundraiser

As many of you know, the owners of Family Tree DNA, a Houston company, have committed a percentage of their sales during the month of September for donation to hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts. A daily running total is displayed at the top of their page.

I think they will top $20,000 today!

I know that with two more hurricanes (Irma an Maria) and two earthquakes in Mexico, Harvey, which ravaged Texas less than 3 weeks ago seems like old news. It’s not to the families whose lives have been upended and who have lost everything, not only due to the winds of the hurricane along the coast, but unprecedented flooding in Houston for the following week. Those families are still cleaning mud out of their homes, ripping off their sheetrock, and so much more. Thousands are displaced and have lost everything.

The best part about the Family Tree DNA fundraiser is that you can contribute to the relief effort without any additional cost to you. In fact, there’s a lot of benefit to everyone – you benefit when you order a test or upgrade, other people whose genealogy may depend on your testing benefit, and the families trying to recover from Harvey benefit as well. You never know, maybe the person you desperately need to knock down a brick wall will test or transfer now!

Everyone wins! But you only have another week, so don’t wait.

Family Tree DNA just sweetened the deal in three ways too.

Deal Sweeteners

MyHeritage Transfer

Family Tree DNA has just added MyHeritage as a transfer partner, meaning if you tested at MyHeritage, you can transfer your results to Family Tree DNA and see matches for free.

The autosomal DNA transfer option for MyHeritage as well as other vendors can be found, here, in the upper left hand corner of the main Family Tree DNA page, under DNA Tests.

Family Tree DNA accepts transfers from:

  • Ancestry
  • 23andMe V3 and V4
  • MyHeritage

Family Finder Just $69

The Family Finder autosomal test is on sale now for $69, a $20 savings. If you haven’t tested yet, or have transferred the 23andMe V4 or Ancestry V2 tests which only provide your closest matches, and not the more distant ones (due to chip incompatibility), now is a great time to order a Family Finder test. I don’t know how long the sale price lasts, so if you’re interested, buy now.

Unlock All Transfer Features Just $10

In addition, Family Tree DNA has dropped the price of unlocking the full suite of autosomal tools available after the free transfer of your results. You receive your matches for free, but by adding the $10 unlock, on sale reduced from the regular $19 until the end of September, you add three features:

  • Chromosome Browser
  • myOrigins (ethnicity)
  • ancientOrigins.

You will need a coupon code, so you can use mine. These codes are NOT limited to one use only, so please feel free to upgrade as many tests as you wish.

USE CODE: ATUL0917

Here’s what the unlock gives you access to, in addition to your free matches.

Transferring and Unlocking is Easy…

  • Click here to upgrade, unlock (ATUL0917) or transfer your results from another vendor.
  • Then sign on to your own account to transfer, unlock or upgrade if you already have an account at Family Tree DNA.
  • If you don’t currently have an account at Family Tree DNA, click in the upper left hand corner of the page you’ll see to set up an account and transfer your DNA file from another vendor. Then use the use code (ATUL0917) to unlock all the features for just $10.

It’s that easy and you’ll be helping others too!

______________________________________________________________________

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Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Shared cM Project 2017 Update Combined Chart

The original goal of Blaine Bettinger’s Shared cM Project was to document the actual shared ranges of centiMorgans found in various relationships between testers in genetic genealogy. Previously, all we had were academically calculated models which didn’t accurately really reflect the data that genetic genealogists were seeing.

In June 2016, Blaine published the first version of the Shared cM Project information gathered collaboratively through crowd-sourcing. He continued to gather data, and has published a new 2017 version recently, along with an accompanying pdf download that explains the details. Today, more than 25,000 known relationships have been submitted by testers, along with their amount of shared DNA.

Blaine continues to accept submissions at this link, so please participate by submitting your data.

In the 2017 version, some of the numbers, especially the maximums in the more distant relationship categories changed rather dramatically. Some maximums actually doubled, meaning having more data to work with was a really good thing.

The 2017 project update refines the numbers with more accuracy, but also adds more uncertainly for people looking for nice, neat, tight relationship ranges. This project and resulting informational chart is a great tool, but you can’t now and never will be able to identify relationships with complete certainly without additional genealogical information to go along with the DNA results.

That’s the reason there is a column titled “Degree of Relationship.” Various different relationships between people can be expected to share about the same amount of DNA, so determining that relationship has to be done through a combination of DNA and other information.

When the 2016 version was released, I completed a chart that showed the expected percentage of shared DNA in various relationship categories and contrasted the expected cM of DNA against what Blaine had provided. I published the chart as part of an article titled, Concepts – Relationship Predictions. This article is still a great resource and very valid, but the chart is now out of date with the new 2017 information.

What a great reason to create a new chart to update the old one.

Thanks to Blaine and all the genetic genealogists who contributed to this important crowd-sourced citizen science project!

2016 Compared to 2017

The first thing I wanted to know was how the numbers changed from the 2016 version of the project to 2017. I combined the two years’ worth of data into one file and color coded the results. Please note that you can click on any image to enlarge.

The legend is as follows:

  • White rows = 2016 data
  • Peach rows = 2017 data for the same categories as 2016
  • Blue rows = new categories in 2017
  • Red cells = information that changed surprisingly, discussed below
  • Yellow cells = the most changed category since 2016

I was very pleased to see that Blaine was able to add data for several new relationship categories this year – meaning that there wasn’t enough information available in 2016. Those are easy to spot in the chart above, as they are blue.

Unexpected Minimum and Maximum Changes

As I looked at these results, I realized that some of the minimums increased. At first glance, this doesn’t make sense, because a minimum can get lower as the range expands, but a minimum can’t increase with the same data being used.

Had Blaine eliminated some of the data?

I thought I understood that the 2017 project simply added to the 2016 data, but if the same minimum data was included in both 2016 and 2017, why was the minimum larger in 2017? This occurred in 6 different categories.

By the same token, and applying the same logic, there are 5 categories where the maximum got smaller. That, logically, can’t happen either using the same data. The maximum could increase, but not decrease.

I know that Blaine worked with a statistician in 2016 and used a statistical algorithm to attempt to eliminate the outliers in order to, hopefully, eliminate errors in data entry, misunderstandings about the proper terms for relationships and relationships that were misunderstood either through genealogy or perhaps an unknown genetic link. Of course, issues like endogamy will affect these calculations too.

A couple good examples would be half siblings who thought they were full siblings, or half first cousins instead of just first cousins. The terminology “once removed” confuses people too.

You can read about the proper terminology for relationships between people in the article, Quick Tip – Calculating Cousin Relationships Easily.

In other words, Blaine had to take all of these qualifiers that relate to data quality into consideration.

Blaine’s Explanation

I asked Blaine about the unusual changes. He has given me permission to quote his response, below:

The maximum and minimum aren’t the largest and smallest numbers people have submitted, they’re the submissions statistically identified by the entire dataset as being either the 95th percentile maximum and minimum, or the 99th percentile maximum and minimum. As a result, the max or min can move in either direction. Think of it in terms of the histograms; if the peak of the histogram moves to the right or left due to a lot more data, then the shoulders (5 & 95% or the 1 and 99%) of the histogram will move as well, either to the right or left.

So, for example, substantially more data for 1C2R revealed that the previously minimum was too low, and has corrected it. There are still 1C2R submissions down there below the minimum of 43, and there are submissions above the maximum of 531, but the entire dataset for 1C2R has statistically identified those submissions as being outliers

The histogram for 1C2R supports that as well, showing that there are submissions above 531, but they are clearly outliers:

People submit “bad” numbers for relationships, either due to data entry errors, incorrect genealogies, unknown pedigree collapse, or other reasons. Unless I did this statistical analysis, the project would be useless because every relationship would have an exorbitant range. The 95th and 99th percentiles help keep the ranges in check by identifying the reasonable upper and lower boundaries.

Adding Additional Information

The reason I created this chart was not initially to share, but because I use the information all the time and wanted it in one easily accessible location.

I appreciate the work that Blaine has done to eliminate outliers, but in some cases, those outliers, although in the statistical 1%, will be accurate. In other cases, they clearly won’t, or they will be accurate but not relevant due to endogamy and pedigree collapse. How do you know? You don’t.

In the pdf that Blaine provides, he does us the additional service by breaking the results down by testing vendors: 23andMe, Ancestry and Family Tree DNA, and comparison service, GedMatch. He also provides endogamous and non-endogamous results, when known.

The vendor where an individual tests does have an impact on both the testing, the matching and the reporting. For example, Family Tree DNA includes all matches to the 1cM level in total cM, Ancestry strips out DNA they think is “too matchy” with their Timber algorithm, so their total cM will be much smaller than Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe is the only one of the vendors to report fully identical regions by adding that number into the total shared cM a second time. This isn’t a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of different approaches.

Blaine’s vendor specific charts go a long way in accounting for those differences in the Parent/Child and Sibling charts shown below.

A Combined Chart

In order to give myself the best change of actually correctly locating not just the best fit for a relationship as predicted by total matching cM, but all possible fits, I decided to add a third data source into the chart.

The DNA Detectives Facebook Group that specializes in adoption searches has compiled their own chart based on their experiences in reconstructing families through testing. This chart is often referred to simply as “the green chart” and therefore, I have added that information as well, rows colored green (of course), and combined it into the chart.

I modified the headings for this combined chart, slightly, and added a column for actual shared percent since the DNA Detectives chart provides that information.

I have also changed the coloring on the blue rows, which were new in 2017, to be the same as the rest of Blaine’s 2017 peach colored rows.

I hope you find this combined chart as useful as I do. Feel free to share, but please include the link to this article and credit appropriately, for my work compiling the chart as well as Blaine’s work on the 2016 and 2017 cM Projects and DNA Detective’s work producing their “green chart.”