Hit a Genetic Genealogy Home Run Using Your Double-Sided Two-Faced Chromosomes While Avoiding Imposters

Do you want to hit a home run with your DNA test, but find yourself a mite bewildered?

Yep, those matches can be somewhat confusing – especially if you don’t understand what’s going on. Do you have a nagging feeling that you might be missing something?

I’m going to explain chromosome matching, and its big sister, triangulation, step by step to remove any confusion, to help you sort through your matches and avoid imposters.

This article is one of the most challenging I’ve ever written – in part because it’s a concept that I’m so familiar with but can be, and is, misinterpreted so easily. I see mistakes and confusion daily, which means that resulting conclusions stand a good chance of being wrong.

I’ve tried to simplify these concepts by giving you easy-to-use memory tools.

There are three key phrases to remember, as memory-joggers when you work through your matches using a chromosome browser: double-sided, two faces and imposter. While these are “cute,” they are also quite useful.

When you’re having a confusing moment, think back to these memory-jogging key words and walk yourself through your matches using these steps.

These three concepts are the foundation of understanding your matches, accurately, as they pertain to your genealogy. Please feel free to share, link or forward this article to your friends and especially your family members (including distant cousins) who work with genetic genealogy. 

Now, it’s time to enjoy your double-sided, two-faced chromosomes and avoid those imposters:)

Are you ready? Grab a nice cup of coffee or tea and learn how to hit home runs!

Double-Sided – Yes, Really

Your chromosomes really are double sided, and two-faced too – and that’s a good thing!

However, it’s initially confusing because when we view our matches in a chromosome browser, it looks like we only have one “bar” or chromosome and our matches from both our maternal and paternal sides are both shown on our one single bar.

How can this be? We all have two copies of chromosome 1, one from each parent.

Chromosome 1 match.png

This is my chromosome 1, with my match showing in blue when compared to my chromosome, in gray, as the background.

However, I don’t know if this blue person matches me on my mother’s or father’s chromosome 1, both of which I inherited. It could be either. Or neither – meaning the dreaded imposter – especially that small blue piece at left.

What you’re seeing above is in essence both “sides” of my chromosome number 1, blended together, in one bar. That’s what I mean by double-sided.

There’s no way to tell which side or match is maternal and which is paternal without additional information – and misunderstanding leads to misinterpreting results.

Let’s straighten this out and talk about what matches do and don’t mean – and why they can be perplexing. Oh, and how to discover those imposters!

Your Three Matches

Let’s say you have three matches.

At Family Tree DNA, the example chromosome browser I’m using, or at any vendor with a chromosome browser, you select your matches which are viewed against your chromosomes. Your chromosomes are always the background, meaning in this case, the grey background.

Chromosome 1-4.png

  • This is NOT three copies each of your chromosomes 1, 2, 3 and 4.
  • This is NOT displaying your maternal and paternal copies of each chromosome pictured.
  • We CANNOT tell anything from this image alone relative to maternal and paternal side matches.
  • This IS showing three individual people matching you on your chromosome 1 and the same three people matching you in the same order on every chromosome in the picture.

Let’s look at what this means and why we want to utilize a chromosome browser.

I selected three matches that I know are not all related through the same parent so I can demonstrate how confusing matches can be sorted out. Throughout this article, I’ve tried to explain each concept in at least two ways.

Please note that I’m using only chromsomes 1-4 as examples, not because they are any more, or less, important than the other chromosomes, but because showing all 22 would not add any benefit to the discussion. The X chromosome has a separate inheritance path and I wrote about that here.

Let’s start with a basic question.

Why Would I Want to Use a Chromosome Browser?

Genealogists view matches on chromosome browsers because:

  • We want to see where our matches match us on our chromosomes
  • We’d like to identify our common ancestor with our match
  • We want to assign a matching segment to a specific ancestor or ancestral line, which confirmed those ancestors as ours
  • When multiple people match us on the same location on the chromosome browser, that’s a hint telling us that we need to scrutinize those matches more closely to determine if those people match us on our maternal or paternal side which is the first step in assigning that segment to an ancestor

Once we accurately assign a segment to an ancestor, when anyone else matches us (and those other people) on that same segment, we know which ancestral line they match through – which is a great head start in terms of identifying our common ancestor with our new match.

That’s a genetic genealogy home run!

Home Runs 

There are four bases in a genetic genealogy home run.

  1. Determine whether you actually match someone on the same segment
  2. Which is the first step in determining that you match a group of people on the same segment
  3. And that you descend from a common ancestor
  4. The fourth step, or the home run, is to determine which ancestor you have in common, assigning that segment to that ancestor

If you can’t see segment information, you can’t use a chromosome browser and you can’t confirm the match on that segment, nor can you assign that segment to a particular ancestor, or ancestral couple.

The entire purpose of genealogy is to identify and confirm ancestors. Genetic genealogy confirms the paper trail and breaks down even more brick walls.

But before you can do that, you have to understand what matches mean and how to use them.

The first step is to understand that our chromosomes are double-sided and you can’ t see both of your chromosomes at once!

Double Sided – You Can’t See Both of Your Chromosomes at Once

The confusing part of the chromosome browser is that it can only “see” your two chromosomes blended as one. They are both there, but you just can’t see them separately.

Here’s the important concept:

You have 2 copies of chromosomes 1 through 22 – one copy that you received from your mother and one from your father, but you can’t “see” them separately.

When your DNA is sequenced, your DNA from your parents’ chromosomes emerges as if it has been through a blender. Your mother’s chromosome 1 and your father’s chromosome 1 are blended together. That means that without additional information, the vendor can’t tell which matches are from your father’s side and which are from your mother’s side – and neither can you.

All the vendor can tell is that someone matches you on the blended version of your parents. This isn’t a negative reflection on the vendors, it’s just how the science works.

Chromosome 1.png

Applying this to chromosome 1, above, means that each segment from each person, the blue person, the red person and the teal person might match you on either one of your chromosomes – the paternal chromosome or the maternal chromosome – but because the DNA of your mother and father are blended – there’s no way without additional information to sort your chromosome 1 into a maternal and paternal “side.”

Hence, you’re viewing “one” copy of your combined chromosomes above, but it’s actually “two-sided” with both maternal and paternal matches displayed in the chromosome browser.

Parent-Child Matches

Let’s explain this another way.

Chromosome parent.png

The example above shows one of my parents matching me. Don’t be deceived by the color blue which is selected randomly. It could be either parent. We don’t know.

You can see that I match my parent on the entire length of chromosome 1, but there is no way for me to tell if I’m looking at my mother’s match or my father’s match, because both of my parents (and my children) will match me on exactly the same locations (all of them) on my chromosome 1.

Chromosome parent child.png

In fact, here is a combination of my children and my parents matching me on my chromosome 1.

To sort out who is matching on paternal and maternal chromosomes, or the double sides, I need more information. Let’s look at how inheritance works.

Stay with me!

Inheritance Example

Let’s take a look at how inheritance works visually, using an example segment on chromosome 1.

Chromosome inheritance.png

In the example above:

  • The first column shows addresses 1-10 on chromosome 1. In this illustration, we are only looking at positions, chromosome locations or addresses 1-10, but real chromosomes have tens of thousands of addresses. Think of your chromosome as a street with the same house numbers on both sides. One side is Mom’s and one side is Dad’s, but you can’t tell which is which by looking at the house numbers because the house numbers are identical on both sides of the street.
  • The DNA pieces, or nucleotides (T, A, C or G,) that you received from your Mom are shown in the column labeled Mom #1, meaning we’re looking at your mother’s pink chromosome #1 at addresses 1-10. In our example she has all As that live on her side of the street at addresses 1-10.
  • The DNA pieces that you received from your Dad are shown in the blue column and are all Cs living on his side of the street in locations 1-10.

In other words, the values that live in the Mom and Dad locations on your chromosome streets are different. Two different faces.

However, all that the laboratory equipment can see is that there are two values at address 1, A and C, in no particular order. The lab can’t tell which nucleotide came from which parent or which side of the street they live on.

The DNA sequencer knows that it found two values at each address, meaning that there are two DNA strands, but the output is jumbled, as shown in the First and Second read columns. The machine knows that you have an A and C at the first address, and a C and A at the second address, but it can’t put the sequence of all As together and the sequence of all Cs together. What the sequencer sees is entirely unordered.

This happens because your maternal and paternal DNA is mixed together during the extraction process.

Chromosome actual

Click to enlarge image.

Looking at the portion of chromosome 1 where the blue and teal people both match you – your actual blended values are shown overlayed on that segment, above. We don’t know why the blue and the teal people are matching you. They could be matching because they have all As (maternal), all Cs (paternal) or some combination of As and Cs (a false positive match that is identical by chance.)

There are only two ways to reassemble your nucleotides (T, A, C, and G) in order and then to identify the sides as maternal and paternal – phasing and matching.

As you read this next section, it does NOT mean that you must have a parent for a chromosome browser to be useful – but it does mean you need to understand these concepts.

There are two types of phasing.

Parental Phasing

  • Parental Phasing is when your DNA is compared against that of one or both parents and sorted based on that comparison.

Chromosome inheritance actual.png

Parental phasing requires that at least one parent’s DNA is available, has been sequenced and is available for matching.

In our example, Dad’s first 10 locations (that you inherited) on chromosome 1 are shown, at left, with your two values shown as the first and second reads. One of your read values came from your father and the other one came from your mother. In this case, the Cs came from your father. (I’m using A and C as examples, but the values could just as easily be T or G or any combination.)

When parental phasing occurs, the DNA of one of your parents is compared to yours. In this case, your Dad gave you a C in locations 1-10.

Now, the vendor can look at your DNA and assign your DNA to one parent or the other. There can be some complicating factors, like if both your parents have the same nucleotides, but let’s keep our example simple.

In our example above, you can see that I’ve colored portions of the first and second strands blue to represent that the C value at that address can be assigned through parental phasing to your father.

Conversely, because your mother’s DNA is NOT available in our example, we can’t compare your DNA to hers, but all is not lost. Because we know which nucleotides came from your father, the remaining nucleotides had to come from your mother. Hence, the As remain after the Cs are assigned to your father and belong to your mother. These remaining nucleotides can logically be recombined into your mother’s DNA – because we’ve subtracted Dad’s DNA.

I’ve reassembled Mom, in pink, at right.

Statistical/Academic Phasing

  • A second type of phasing uses something referred to as statistical or academic phasing.

Statistical phasing is less successful because it uses statistical calculations based on reference populations. In other words, it uses a “most likely” scenario.

By studying reference populations, we know scientifically that, generally, for our example addresses 1-10, we either see all As or all Cs grouped together.

Based on this knowledge, the Cs can then logically be grouped together on one “side” and As grouped together on the other “side,” but we still have no way to know which side is maternal or paternal for you. We only know that normally, in a specific population, we see all As or all Cs. After assigning strings or groups of nucleotides together, the algorithm then attempts to see which groups are found together, thereby assigning genetic “sides.” Assigning the wrong groups to the wrong side sometimes happens using statistical phasing and is called strand swap.

Once the DNA is assigned to physical “sides” without a parent or matching, we still can’t identify which side is paternal and which is maternal for you.

Statistical or academic phasing isn’t always accurate, in part because of the differences found in various reference populations and resulting admixture. Sometimes segments don’t match well with any population. As more people test and more reference populations become available, statistical/academic phasing improves. 23andMe uses academic phasing for ethnicity, resulting in a strand swap error for me. Ancestry uses academic phasing before matching.

By comparison to statistical or academic phasing, parental phasing with either or both parents is highly accurate which is why we test our parents and grandparents whenever possible. Even if the vendor doesn’t use our parents’ results, we certainly can!

If someone matches you and your parent too, you know that match is from that parent’s side of your tree.

Matching

The second methodology to sort your DNA into maternal and paternal sides is matching, either with or without your parents.

Matching to multiple known relatives on specific segments assigns those segments of your DNA to the common ancestor of those individuals.

In other words, when I match my first cousin, and our genealogy indicates that we share grandparents – assuming we match on the appropriate amount of DNA for the expected relationship – that match goes a long way to confirming our common ancestor(s).

The closer the relationship, the more comfortable we can be with the confirmation. For example, if you match someone at a parental level, they must be either your biological mother, father or child.

While parent, sibling and close relationships are relatively obvious, more distant relationships are not and can occur though unknown or multiple ancestors. In those cases, we need multiple matches through different children of that ancestor to reasonably confirm ancestral descent.

Ok, but how do we do that? Let’s start with some basics that can be confusing.

What are we really seeing when we look at a chromosome browser?

The Grey/Opaque Background is Your Chromosome

It’s important to realize that you will see as many images of your chromosome(s) as people you have selected to match against.

This means that if you’ve selected 3 people to match against your chromosomes, then you’ll see three images of your chromosome 1, three images of your chromosome 2, three images of your chromosome 3, three images of your chromosome 4, and so forth.

Remember, chromosomes are double-sided, so you don’t know whether these are maternal or paternal matches (or imposters.)

In the illustration below, I’ve selected three people to match against my chromosomes in the chromosome browser. One person is shown as a blue match, one as a red match, and one as a teal match. Where these three people match me on each chromosome is shown by the colored segments on the three separate images.

Chromosome 1.png

My chromosome 1 is shown above. These images are simply three people matching to my chromosome 1, stacked on top of each other, like cordwood.

The first image is for the blue person. The second image is for the red person. The third image is for the teal person.

If I selected another person, they would be assigned a different color (by the system) and a fourth stacked image would occur.

These stacked images of your chromosomes are NOT inherently maternal or paternal.

In other words, the blue person could match me maternally and the red person paternally, or any combination of maternal and paternal. Colors are not relevant – in other words colors are system assigned randomly.

Notice that portions of the blue and teal matches overlap at some of the same locations/addresses, which is immediately visible when using a chromosome browser. These areas of common matching are of particular interest.

Let’s look closer at how chromosome browser matching works.

What about those colorful bars?

Chromosome Browser Matching

When you look at your chromosome browser matches, you may see colored bars on several chromosomes. In the display for each chromosome, the same color will always be shown in the same order. Most people, unless very close relatives, won’t match you on every chromosome.

Below, we’re looking at three individuals matching on my chromosomes 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Chromosome browser.png

The blue person will be shown in location A on every chromosome at the top. You can see that the blue person does not match me on chromosome 2 but does match me on chromosomes 1, 3 and 4.

The red person will always be shown in the second position, B, on each chromosome. The red person does not match me on chromosomes 2 or 4.

The aqua person will always be shown in position C on each chromosome. The aqua person matches me on at least a small segment of chromosomes 1-4.

When you close the browser and select different people to match, the colors will change and the stacking order perhaps, but each person selected will always be consistently displayed in the same position on all of your chromosomes each time you view.

The Same Address – Stacked Matches

In the example above, we can see that several locations show stacked segments in the same location on the browser.

Chromosome browser locations.png

This means that on chromosome 1, the blue and green person both match me on at least part of the same addresses – the areas that overlap fully. Remember, we don’t know if that means the maternal side or the paternal side of the street. Each match could match on the same or different sides.

Said another way, blue could be maternal and teal could be paternal (or vice versa,) or both could be maternal or paternal. One or the other or both could be imposters, although with large segments that’s very unlikely.

On chromosome 4, blue and teal both match me on two common locations, but the teal person extends beyond the length of the matching blue segments.

Chromosome 3 is different because all three people match me at the same address. Even though the red and teal matching segments are longer, the shared portion of the segment between all three people, the length of the blue segment, is significant.

The fact that the stacked matches are in the same places on the chromosomes, directly above/below each other, DOES NOT mean the matches also match each other.

The only way to know whether these matches are both on one side of my tree is whether or not they match each other. Do they look the same or different? One face or two? We can’t tell from this view alone.

We need to evaluate!

Two Faces – Matching Can be Deceptive!

What do these matches mean? Let’s ask and answer a few questions.

  • Does a stacked match mean that one of these people match on my mother’s side and one on my father’s side?

They might, but stacked matches don’t MEAN that.

If one match is maternal, and one is paternal, they still appear at the same location on your chromosome browser because Mom and Dad each have a side of the street, meaning a chromosome that you inherited.

Remember in our example that even though they have the same street address, Dad has blue Cs and Mom has pink As living at that location. In other words, their faces look different. So unless Mom and Dad have the same DNA on that entire segment of addresses, 1-10, Mom and Dad won’t match each other.

Therefore, my maternal and paternal matches won’t match each other either on that segment either, unless:

  1. They are related to me through both of my parents and on that specific location.
  2. My mother and father are related to each other and their DNA is the same on that segment.
  3. There is significant endogamy that causes my parents to share DNA segments from their more distant ancestors, even though they are not related in the past few generations.
  4. The segments are small (segments less than 7cM are false matches roughly 50% of the time) and therefore the match is simply identical by chance. I wrote about that here. The chart showing valid cM match percentages is shown here, but to summarize, 7-8 cMs are valid roughly 46% of the time, 8-9 cM roughly 66%, 9-10 cM roughly 91%, 10-11 cM roughly 95, but 100 is not reached until about 20 cM and I have seen a few exceptions above that, especially when imputation is involved.

Chromosome inheritance match.png

In this inheritance example, we see that pink Match #1 is from Mom’s side and matches the DNA I inherited from pink Mom. Blue Match #2 is from Dad’s side and matches the DNA I inherited from blue Dad. But as you can see, Match #1 and Match #2 do not match each other.

Therefore, the address is only half the story (double-sided.)

What lives at the address is the other half. Mom and Dad have two separate faces!

Chromosome actual overlay

Click to enlarge image

Looking at our example of what our DNA in parental order really looks like on chromosome 1, we see that the blue person actually matches on my maternal side with all As, and the teal person on the paternal side with all Cs.

  • Does a stacked match on the chromosome browser mean that two people match each other?

Sometimes it happens, but not necessarily, as shown in our example above. The blue and teal person would not match each other. Remember, addresses (the street is double-sided) but the nucleotides that live at that address tell the real story. Think two different looking faces, Mom’s and Dad’s, peering out those windows.

If stacked matches match each other too – then they match me on the same parental side. If they don’t match each other, don’t be deceived just because they live at the same address. Remember – Mom’s and Dad’s two faces look different.

For example, if both the blue and teal person match me maternally, with all As, they would also match each other. The addresses match and the values that live at the address match too. They look exactly the same – so they both match me on either my maternal or paternal side – but it’s up to me to figure out which is which using genealogy.

Chromosome actual maternal.png

Click to enlarge image

When my matches do match each other on this segment, plus match me of course, it’s called triangulation.

Triangulation – Think of 3

If my two matches match each other on this segment, in addition to me, it’s called triangulation which is genealogically significant, assuming:

  1. That the triangulated people are not closely related. Triangulation with two siblings, for example, isn’t terribly significant because the common ancestor is only their parents. Same situation with a child and a parent.
  2. The triangulated segments are not small. Triangulation, like matching, on small segments can happen by chance.
  3. Enough people triangulate on the same segment that descends from a common ancestor to confirm the validity of the common ancestor’s identity, also confirming that the match is identical by descent, not identical by chance.

Chromosome inheritance triangulation.png

The key to determining whether my two matches both match me on my maternal side (above) or paternal side is whether they also match each other.

If so, assuming all three of the conditions above are true, we triangulate.

Next, let’s look at a three-person match on the same segment and how to determine if they triangulate.

Three Way Matching and Identifying Imposters

Chromosome 3 in our example is slightly different, because all three people match me on at least a portion of that segment, meaning at the same address. The red and teal segments line up directly under the blue segment – so the portion that I can potentially match identically to all 3 people is the length of the blue segment. It’s easy to get excited, but don’t get excited quite yet.

Chromosome 3 way match.png

Given that three people match me on the same street address/location, one of the following three situations must be true:

  • Situation 1- All three people match each other in addition to me, on that same segment, which means that all three of them match me on either the maternal or paternal side. This confirms that we are related on the same side, but not how or which side.

Chromosome paternal.png

In order to determine which side, maternal or paternal, I need to look at their and my genealogy. The blue arrows in these examples mean that I’ve determined these matches to all be on my father’s side utilizing a combination of genealogy plus DNA matching. If your parent is alive, this part is easy. If not, you’ll need to utilize common matching and/or triangulation with known relatives.

  • Situation 2 – Of these three people, Cheryl, the blue bar on top, matches me but does not match the other two. Charlene and David, the red and teal, match each other, plus me, but not Cheryl.

Chromosome maternal paternal.png

This means that at least either my maternal or paternal side is represented, given that Charlene and David also match each other. Until I can look at the identity of who matches, or their genealogy, I can’t tell which person or people descend from which side.

In this case, I’ve determined that Cheryl, my first cousin, with the pink arrow matches me on Mom’s side and Charlene and David, with the blue arrows, match me on Dad’s side. So both my maternal and paternal sides are represented – my maternal side with the pink arrow as well as my father’s side with the blue arrows.

If Cheryl was a more distant match, I would need additional triangulated matches to family members to confirm her match as legitimate and not a false positive or identical by chance.

  • Situation 3 – Of the three people, all three match me at the same addresses, but none of the three people match each other. How is this even possible?

Chromosome identical by chance.png

This situation seems very counter-intuitive since I have only 2 chromosomes, one from Mom and one from Dad – 2 sidesof the street. It is confusing until you realize that one match (Cheryl and me, pink arrow) would be maternal, one would be paternal (Charlene and me, blue arrow) and the third (David and me, red arrows) would have DNA that bounces back and forth between my maternal and paternal sides, meaning the match with David is identical by chance (IBC.)

This means the third person, David, would match me, but not the people that are actually maternal and paternal matches. Let’s take a look at how this works

Chromosome maternal paternal IBC.png

The addresses are the same, but the values that live at the addresses are not in this third scenario.

Maternal pink Match #1 is Cheryl, paternal blue Match #2 is Charlene.

In this example, Match #3, David, matches me because he has pink and blue at the same addresses that Mom and Dad have pink and blue, but he doesn’t have all pink (Mom) nor all blue (Dad), so he does NOT match either Cheryl or Charlene. This means that he is not a valid genealogical match – but is instead what is known as a false positive – identical by chance, not by descent. In essence, a wily genetic imposter waiting to fool unwary genealogists!

In his case, David is literally “two-faced” with parts of both values that live in the maternal house and the paternal house at those addresses. He is a “two-faced imposter” because he has elements of both but isn’t either maternal or paternal.

This is the perfect example of why matching and triangulating to known and confirmed family members is critical.

All three people, Cheryl, Charlene and David match me (double sided chromosomes), but none of them match each other (two legitimate faces – one from each parent’s side plus one imposter that doesn’t match either the legitimate maternal or paternal relatives on that segment.)

Remember Three Things

  1. Double-Sided – Mom and Dad both have the same addresses on both sides of each chromosome street.
  2. Two Legitimate Faces – The DNA values, nucleotides, will have a unique pattern for both your Mom and Dad (unless they are endogamous or related) and therefore, there are two legitimate matching patterns on each chromsome – one for Mom and one for Dad. Two legitimate and different faces peering out of the houses on Mom’s side and Dad’s side of the street.
  3. Two-Faced Imposters – those identical by chance matches which zig-zag back and forth between Mom and Dad’s DNA at any given address (segment), don’t match confirmed maternal and paternal relatives on the same segment, and are confusing imposters.

Are you ready to hit your home run?

What’s Next?

Now that we understand how matching and triangulation works and why, let’s put this to work at the vendors. Join me for my article in a few days, Triangulation in Action at Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe and GedMatch.

We will step through how triangulation works at each vendor. You’ll have matches at each vendor that you don’ t have elsewhere. If you haven’t transferred your DNA file yet, you still have time with the step by step instructions below:

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

DNAPainter Instructions and Resources

DNAPainter garden

DNAPainter is one of my favorite tools because DNAPainter, just as its name implies, facilitates users painting their matches’ segments on their various chromosomes. It’s genetic art and your ancestors provide the paint!

People use DNAPainter in different ways for various purposes. I utilize DNAPainter to paint matches with whom I’ve identified a common ancestor and therefore know the historical “identity” of the ancestors who contributed that segment.

Those colors in the graphic above are segments identified to different ancestors through DNA matching.

DNAPainter includes:

  • The ability to paint or map your chromosomes with your matching segments as well as your ethnicity segments
  • The ability to upload or create trees and mark individuals you’ve confirmed as your genetic ancestors
  • A number of tools including the Shared cM Tool to show ranges of relationships based on your match level and WATO (what are the odds) tool to statistically predict or estimate various positions in a family based on relationships to other known family members

A Repository

I’ve created this article as a quick-reference instructional repository for the articles I’ve written about DNAPainter. As I write more articles, I’ll add them here as well.

  • The Chromosome Sudoku article introduced DNAPainter and how to use the tool. This is a step-by-step guide for beginners.

DNA Painter – Chromosome Sudoku for Genetic Genealogy Addicts

  • Where do you find those matches to paint? At the vendors such as Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe and GedMatch, of course. The Mining Vendor Matches article explains how.

DNAPainter – Mining Vendor Matches to Paint Your Chromosomes

  • Touring the Chromosome Garden explains how to interpret the results of DNAPainter, and how automatic triangulation just “happens” as you paint. I also discuss ethnicity painting and how to handle questionable ancestors.

DNA Painter – Touring the Chromosome Garden

  • You can prove or disprove a half-sibling relationship using DNAPainter – for you and also for other people in your tree.

Proving or Disproving a Half Sibling Relationship Using DNAPainter

  • Not long after Dana Leeds introduced The Leeds Method of clustering matches into 4 groups representing your 4 grandparents, I adapted her method to DNAPainter.

DNAPainter: Painting the Leeds Method Matches

  • Ethnicity painting is a wonderful tool to help identify Native American or minority ancestry segments by utilizing your estimated ethnicity segments. Minority in this context means minority to you.

Native American and Minority Ancestors Identified Using DNAPainter Plus Ethnicity Segments

  • Creating a tree or uploading a GEDCOM file provides you with Ancestral Trees where you can indicate which people in your tree are genetically confirmed as your ancestors.

DNAPainter: Ancestral Trees

Of course, the key to DNA painting is to have as many matches and segments as possible identified to specific ancestors. In order to do that, you need to have your DNA working for you at as many vendors as possible that provide you with matching and a chromosome browser. Ancestry does not have a browser or provide specific paintable segment information, but the other major vendors do, and you can transfer Ancestry results elsewhere.

DNA Transfers

Some vendors don’t require you to test at their company and allow transfers into their systems from other vendors. Those vendors do charge a small fee to unlock their advanced features, but not as much as testing there.

Ancestry and 23andMe DO NOT allow transfers of DNA from other vendors INTO their systems, but they do allow you to download your raw DNA file to transfer TO other vendors.

Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and GedMatch all 3 accept files uploaded FROM other vendors. Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage also allow you to download your raw data file to transfer TO other vendors.

These articles provide step-by-step instructions how to download your results from the various vendors and how to upload to that vendor, when possible.

Here are some suggestions about DNA testing and a transfer strategy:

Paint and 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 Services

Genealogy Research

Ancestor Reconstruction

No, this is not Jurassic Park and we’re not actually recreating or cloning our ancestors – just on paper.

Back in early 2012, I began to discuss the possibility of using chromosome mapping of descendants to virtually recreate ancestors.

In 2013, I wrote a white paper about how to do this, and circulated it among a group of scientists who I was hoping would take the ball and run, creating tools for genetic genealogists.  So far, that hasn’t happened, but what has happened is that I’ve adapted a tool created by Kitty Cooper for something entirely different than its original purpose to do a “proof of concept.”

Kitty Cooper created the Ancestor Chromosome Mapper to allow people to map the DNA contributed by different ancestors on their chromosomes.  It’s exciting to see your ancestors mapped out, in color, on your chromosomes.

I utilized Kitty’s tool, found here, to map the proven DNA of my ancestors, below, utilizing autosomal matching and triangulation, to create this ancestor map of my own chromosomes.  As you can see there are still a lot of blank spaces.

Roberta's ancestor map2

After thinking about this a bit, I realized that I could do the same thing for my ancestors.

The chromosomes shown would be those of an individual ancestor, and the DNA mapped onto the chromosomes would be from the proven descendants that they inherited from that ancestor.  Eventually, with enough descendants we could create a “virtual file” for that ancestor to represent themselves in autosomal matching.  So, one day, I might create, or find created by someone else, a DNA “recreated” file for Abraham Estes, born in 1647 in Nonington, Kent, or for Henry Bolton, born about 1760 in England, or any of my other ancestors – all from the DNA of their descendants.

I decided a while back to take this concept for a test spin.

I wanted to see a visual of Joseph Preston Bolton’s DNA on his chromosomes, and who carries it today.  I wrote about this in Joseph’s 52 Ancestors article.

Utilizing Kitty Cooper’s wonderful ancestor chromosome mapping tool, a little differently than she had in mind, I mapped Joseph’s DNA and the contributors are listed to the right of his chromosome.  You can build a virtual ancestor from their descendants based on common matching segments, so long as they don’t share other ancestral lines as well.  I have only utilized the proven, or triangulated DNA segments, where three people match on the same segment.

joseph bolton reconstructed

We have a couple more DNA testers that descended from Joseph Bolton’s father, Henry Bolton through children other than Joseph Preston Bolton.  Adding these segments to the chromosome chart generated for Joseph Preston Bolton, we see the confirmed Henry Bolton segments below.

henry bolton proven

On the chart above, I’ve only used proven segments.

On the next chart I have not been able to “prove” all of the segments through triangulation (3 people), but if all of the provisional segments are indeed Bolton segments, then Henry’s chromosome map would have a few more colored segments.  Clearly, we need a lot more people to test to create more color on Henry’s map, but still, it’s pretty amazing that we can recreate this much of Henry’s chromosome map from these few descendants.

henry bolton probably

There’s a lot of promise in this technique.  Henry Bolton was married twice.  By looking at the DNA the two groups of children, 21 in total, have in common, we know that their common DNA comes from Henry himself.  DNA that is shared between only the groups descended from first wife, Catherine Chapman, but not from second wife, Nancy Mann, or vice versa, would be attributed to the wife of the couple.  Since Henry was married twice, with enough testers, it would be possible to reconstruct, in part, at least some of the genome of both wives, in addition to Henry.

Now, think for a minute, a bit further out in time.

We don’t know who Nancy Mann’s parents are for sure, although we’ve done a lot of eliminating and we know, probably, who her father was, and likely who her grandfather and great-grandfather were….but certainty is not within grasp right now.

But, it will be in the future through ancestor reconstruction.

Let’s say that the descendants of John Mann, the immigrant, reconstruct his genome.  He had 4 known sons and they had several children, so that would be possible.  John, the immigrant, is believed to be Nancy’s great-grandfather through son John Jr.

Now, let’s say that some of those segments that we can attribute through Henry Bolton’s children, as described above, are attributable to Nancy Mann.  The X chromosome match above is positively Nancy’s DNA.  How do I know that?  because it came through her son, Joseph Preston Bolton, and men don’t inherit an X chromosome from their father, only their mother.  So today, 3 descendants carry that segment of Nancy Mann’s X chromosome.

Let’s say that one of the Nancy Mann’s proven DNA segments (not the X, because John didn’t give his X to his son John) matches smack dab in the middle of one of the proven “John Mann” segments.  We’ve just proven that indeed, Nancy is related to John.

Think about the power of this for adoptees, for those who don’t know who their parent or parents are for other reasons, and for those of us who have dead end brick walls who are wives with no surnames.  Who doesn’t have those?

We have the potential, within the foreseeable future, to create “ancestor libraries” that we can match to in order to identify our ancestors.  Once the ancestor is reconstructed, kind of like reconstituting something dehydrated with water, we’ll be able to utilize their autosomal DNA file to make very interesting discoveries about them and their lives.  For example, eye color – at GedMatch today there is an eye color predictor.  There are several ethnicity admixture tools.  Want to know if your ancestor was ethnically admixed?  Virtually recreate them and find out.

Once recreated, we will be able to discover hair color, skin color and all of the other traits and medical conditions that we can today discover through the trait testing at Family Tree DNA and the genetic predispositions that Promethease reveals.

Yes, there will be challenges, like who creates those libraries, moderates any disputes and where are they archived for comparison….but those are details that can be worked out.  Maybe that’s one of the new roles of project administrators or maybe we’ll have ancestor administrators.

Someday, it may be possible to construct an entire family tree from your DNA combined with proven genealogy trees – not by intensely laborious work like it’s done today, but with the click of a button.

And that someday is very likely within our lifetimes, and hopefully, shortly.  The technology and techniques are here to do it today.

I surely hope one of the vendors implements this functionality, and soon, because, like all genealogists, I have a list of genealogy mysteries that need to be solved!!!

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Joseph Preston Bolton (1816-1887), Twice Excluded Baptist Deacon, 52 Ancestors #38

Joseph Preston Bolton was born on July 28, 1816 in Botetourt County, Virginia to Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann.  His middle name, Preston, is very likely a family name and may be a clue to his parents ancestry.  We don’t know who his grandparents were on either side.

When I ordered his marriage bond, I was hopeful that we would acquire his signature, but I believe this is all the same handwriting and probably that of the clerk’s, so not Joseph’s signature.

joseph bolton marriage

Joseph married first to Mary Tankersley on March 26, 1838 in Giles County, Virginia, daughter of Pleasant Tankersley and Elizabeth Haley.  This suggests that the Bolton family had moved to Giles County by that time.

PG Fulkerson, local Claiborne County historian, says, in error, that Joseph was married first to Mary Lankins and second to Nancy Preston or Presley, and that she Joseph’s son, Joseph Dode’s mother.  He also says that Joseph (Sr.) came from Giles County in 1831, which we know is incorrect because he was married in Giles Co., VA in 1838.

In the 1830 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County with 11 children in his household, while his son, Henry Bolton Jr. is living in Botetourt County.  Joseph Bolton would have been one of Henry’s two sons aged 10-15.

In the 1840 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County, but Joseph Bolton is not shown.  Henry Boulton, Sr. is shown with 1 male under 10, 2 15-20, 1 20-30 and 1 80-90.  The females in the household don’t suggest that Mary is living there, as there is one 15-20 and one 60-70.  Joseph and his wife had an infant daughter by this time.  Apparently Joseph is living elsewhere, probably in a household with another family.

Based on the children’s birth dates between Virginia and Tennessee for both Joseph and his brother John, the Bolton families moved to Tennessee between 1844 and 1846 and lived in the 4 Mile Creek area of what was then possibly Claiborne County, but became Hancock County before the 1850 census.

This made sense because Joseph’s mother, Nancy Mann Bolton, died in 1841 and his father, Henry, in 1846, so perhaps the family moved right after Henry Bolton’s death.

However, the Thompson Settlement Church records show that Joseph Bolton was “received by experience” on October 31, 1842.  His wife, Polly, is on a list of members dated 1838, but she is near the bottom and I suspect that list was added to as people joined the church.

In the 1850 Hancock County, TN census, Joseph is shown living in subdivision 33 beside Pleasant Tankersley and wife, Polly.

Bolton 1850 census

Everyone was born in Virginia, except Joseph’s two youngest children, Wilborn, age 4 and Morris, age 2 who were born in Tennessee.

Four houses away, we find Joseph’s brother, John Bolton and wife Sarah and their children.  Just two more houses away we find Margaritt (sic) Herrell Martin, the woman who would become Joseph Bolton’s second wife very shortly, and her son, John Martin living next door.  Clearly, Joseph and Margret knew each other as neighbors before Mary “Polly” Tankersley Bolton died.

Next door to Margaret Herrell Martin, we find her parents, William Herrell and Mary McDowell Herrell.  Two houses away from them lived Mary McDowell Herrell’s brother, John McDowell.

This census was actually taken on December 10th, but it was to be taken as of June of 1850.  This may be important, because Joseph Bolton and Margret Herrell Martin married sometime, likely in 1850, after Mary/Polly died.  Joseph and Margaret’s first child was (probably) born in September 1851, based on family records and the census.  In the 1860 census she is shown as age 9 which would put her birth year as either 1851 if she had her birthday, or 1850 if she had not.  We know the census is notoriously wrong in terms of people’s ages.

Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton and Joseph Bolton had 2 children, of which Joseph “Dode” Bolton was the youngest.

The 1860 census is very faint and difficult to read.

Children

Joseph Preston Bolton and Mary “Polly” Tankersley had the following children as gleaned from the census, family records and the book, “Bolton Family History” published by the Bolton Family Association in Claiborne Co., TN in 1985:

1.  Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” Bolton, born June 25, 1839, Giles Co., VA, died January 2,1922 in Claiborne County, TN, buried in the Harrogate Cemetery, married James Monroe “Roe” Martin, her step-brother, son of Margaret Herrell Martin, Joseph Preston Bolton’s second wife.

2.  William M. or A. Bolton, born on Christmas day, 1840 in Giles County, VA, died June 5, 1927 in Pineville, KY, buried in Harrogate Cemetery, married Susan “Tude” Parks. The Bolton family books states that he was a wagonmaster in the Civil War.

3.  Milton Halen Bolton born May 1844 (not shown on 1850 or 1860 census but is listed in family book), died 1907, buried in the Cook Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN, married Narcissus “Nursey” Parks.  He and his wife are shown in the photo below.

Bolton - Parks

4.  James P. Bolton born October 1845 (census says 1843), died 1913, buried in the Cook Cemetery, Claiborne Co, TN, married Martha Jane Parks.

5.  Daniel Marson “Marsh” “Morris” “Uncle Mars” Bolton born June 2, 1846, listed as Wilburn in the census, died August 7, 1924, Claiborne County, TN, buried in the Liberty Cemetery, married Sylvia (Silvina) Jones.  He and his family loved to sing and were of the Baptist faith.

Daniel Bolton6.  Morris Bolton, age 2 in the 1850 census, born 1848, not shown in 1860, so died young or the children have been “renamed” or the census taken wrote the wrong information for the wrong child, given that Milton isn’t shown.

Joseph Bolton and his second wife, Margaret Herrell Martin, daughter of William Herrell and Mary McDowell, first wife to Anson Cook Martin who died about 1845, had the following children:

7.  Matilda Ann Matilda Bolton born September 5, 1851, Hancock Co., TN died July 2, 1909, Claiborne Co. TN, buried in the Cunningham Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN., married Morgan Cunningham.

8.  Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton, born September 18, 1853, Hancock Co., TN, died February 23, 1920, Hancock Co., TN, buried in the Plank Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN, married Margaret Clarkson/Claxton.

The Civil War

One researcher credits Joseph Bolton with serving in Co B, 9th Tennessee Cavalry, Union Army.  Checking with www.fold3.com, I found both service and pension records.  One claim is filed in 1879 for a Joseph Bolton in the B8 TN Cav who was age 20 in 1865 upon enlistment is obviously not our Joseph.  Another record for a Joseph Bolton in the Company I, 9th TN Cav was for a man captured and killed in 1865, so obviously not our Joseph, either.

Joseph died in 1887, so he would not have been listed in the 1890 veteran’s census, but his widow, Margret, would have been, assuming she was still alive at that time.  Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when she died, we only have a date range, sometime before her children deeded her property to each other in 1992.  If she had died before the veteran’s census in 1890, then he would not have been listed if he did serve.

There is no evidence that Joseph Bolton served in the Civil War, on either side.

The Church

Our first record of Joseph Bolton in a church was when he was received into the Thompson Settlement Church on the Powell River, just over the border in Lee County, Virginia, located about 10 miles from where the Bolton family lived.  That’s a long way to travel for church.  Rob Camp was an offshoot of Thompson Settlement and was mentioned as an alternate church site as early as 1801.  In 1844 Rob Camp had been officially formed as a separate congregation.

It was very difficult in some instances to tell the Joseph Preston Bolton records from those of his son, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton, especially in later church records.  Suffice it to say that at one time, Joseph Preston Bolton was a Deacon in the Baptist church, but he was censured and then banned from the church, not once, but twice.

In June 1854, the Rob Camp Baptist Church appointed brethren Joseph Bolton and Ervin McDowell to cite brother Jackson Boles for drunkenness to the July meeting to answer the charges.  Now I’m betting that’s just exactly what Joseph wanted to do.  Apparently, he was pretty good at this job, because he got to do it again.

In February 1856, the church appointed brother Joseph Bolton to cite John Owens for drinking spirits when he saw fit and for throwing stones at his fellow men on the Sabbath.  Throwing stones?  Was that alright if it wasn’t on Sunday?

In March 1856, Joseph Bolton brought a charge against Robert Tankersley, a man of color, for saying that Joseph Bolton “was a mean man and a lyer and other things.”  The next meeting notes are from from Robert Tankersley charging Joseph Bolton for “saying that he had stolen flower and bacon.”  This was referred to the April meeting.  I wonder if Robert Tankersley is a former slave of the Bolton or the Tankersley family.  Joseph Bolton’s first wife was Mary Tankersley and her parents moved to Hancock County as well.

In April, 1856, the church, by request of brother Joseph Bolton excludes him from their Christian fellowship.

In September 1859, (very difficult to read)…church being convinced that the ??? in receiving a charge against brother Joseph Bolton wrought by a member already himself under the censure of the church ??? therefore unanimously rescinded the ???

October, 1866, received Joseph Bolton by recantation and baptized into the fellowship of the church.  This could be the younger Joseph Bolton, but it’s doubtful as he would only have been age 13 and it seems to be the older Joseph Bolton that might have something to recant, as far as the church was concerned.

May 1868, elected brother Joseph Bolton to the office of Deacon.  This entry would confirm that the 1866 entry is Joseph Bolton Sr.  Deacon status is confirmed in the notes of July 1868.

Joseph Bolton was also a founding member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hancock County.  According to the Rob Camp Church minutes, on the second Saturday of April, 1869, Rob Camp Church released the following people from their fellowship to form the Mount Zion Baptist Church.  On the third Saturday of May, the following list of brothers and sisters met to officially constitute the church which would be located on a parcel of land belonging to William Mannon.  Most of these people were related to Margaret Clarkson, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s wife in some fashion.

  • E.H. Clarkson (Edward Hilton, 1st cousin once removed to Margret)
  • Mary Clarkson
  • William Mannon
  • Elizabeth Mannon
  • Mary Muncy
  • Clarissa Hill
  • Sarah Shefley (cousin)
  • Farwix Clarkson (grandfather to Margret)
  • Agnes Clarkson (grandmother to Margret)
  • Nancy Furry (cousin)
  • Elizabeth Clarkson (mother to Margret)
  • Margret Clarkson (future wife of Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton)
  • William Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
  • James Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
  • John Grimes
  • Catherine Grimes
  • Joseph Bolton (this would be Joseph Preston Bolton Sr., the deacon)

In the first church meeting of the new church, Joseph Bolton was made a Deacon.  One of the first things the new church did was to create a list of members and they all signed a very lengthy statement about the mission of the church.  Among those names is Joseph Bolton, noted as a Deacon, Margret Bolton and Margret Clarkson.  However, a note beside Joseph’s name, obviously added later, says “excluded” and a note beside Margaret’s name says “dis” for dismissed.  Obviously, things did not go swimmingly well at the new church.

Joseph’s name was never again found associated with a church, although he could have attended one the churches such as Liberty which would have been located quite close to his home on Little Sycamore after he moved to Claiborne County.

The 1870 census shows the family in District 14 of Hancock County near the Atlanthis Hill post office, Joseph age 56, Margaret age 60, Matilda age 19, Joseph age 17 and Rebecca Jones, age 14.  I’m not sure who Rebecca is or how she fits in.

The 1880 census shows that Joseph and Margaret had moved from Hancock County into Claiborne County where they lived in the 6th district.  There are no children living with them, and they are neighbors to both Milton N. Bolton and D.M. Bolton

In the Hancock Co. 1880 tax list from the East TN Roots Vol VI, number 4, Margret Bolton is listed with 55 acres, $350 value, 105 to county, 35 to state, 35 to school, 87.5 for special 262.5 total taxes, no poll.  This is very odd because her husband, Joseph Bolton Sr. did not die until 1887.  This may be her inherited land and since she and Joseph, according to the census, are living in Claiborne County, that could explain why he is not listed.

Joseph Bolton Jr. lives beside her with no land, 1 poll, but then under him it says 100 to school and 30 special and 130 total, paid to Edds.  So perhaps he is farming his mother’s land.

Land

On February 21, 1881, in Claiborne County, Daniel Jones and his wife, Ann Jane Jones deed to Joseph Bolton and D.M. Bolton and his wife Silvia land on the waters of Sycamore Creek on Powell Mountain and Little Ridge adjoining the land of H.H. Friar.

This deed puts the migration date from the 4 Mile Creek area in Hancock County to Little Sycamore about 1881 for the Bolton family.

In 1881, in Claiborne County, adjoining Hancock County, we find a deed dated November 25th between Joseph Bolton and his wife Margrett (sic) J. Bolton and D.M. Bolton and Silvania Bolton, his wife, to H. H. Friar for $1200, land on the waters of Little Sycamore and Powell’s Mountain and the Little Ridge, adjoining said Friar and others.  Daniel Bolton is the son of Joseph Bolton Sr. by his first wife Mary Tankersley.

In 1883 and 1884, James Bolton, son of the elder Joseph Bolton purchases land on Little Sycamore Creek in Claiborne County.  In the 1884 deed, the land abuts Sycamore Creek and Christley? Plank’s line and J.J. Park’s line.

This confirms the story in the “Bolton Family History” that the Bolton family owned “quite a bit” of land and that in 1985, it continued to be farmed by the family.  However, it appears that Joseph P. Bolton didn’t actually own the land after 1881, but it was in the family.

The Bolton book tells us that Joseph Sr. “picked up his tools one day and started to work.  While on his way, he fell dead, near the cemetery where he lies buried – the Plank Cemetery, about 5 miles east of Tazewell in Little Sycamore Valley.”

Joseph died in 1887 and is buried in the Plank Cemetery.  Margaret died sometime after 1885, based on a chancery suite, and before 1892, but her death date and burial location are unknown.  I always find it unusual when one parent has a headstone and the other parent’s grave is unmarked.  Always makes me wonder if there is a story lurking there, waiting to be uncovered and told.

plank cem1

plank cem2

Joseph Bolton stone 2

Joseph’s original stone is shown above, with an additional stone set by the family association below.

plank cem3

The mystery surrounding Joseph’s middle name, Preston, haunts me. It’s very similar to the Presnell or Presley that some folks obviously thought was his mother’s maiden name.  I strongly suspect it was a family name, so the question becomes whether we can find a Preston family associated with a Bolton or a Mann, preferably a marriage record.  Joseph’s mother was Nancy Mann, most likely Scots-Irish.

I spent quite a bit of time on both Ancestry.com and www.familysearch.org and searching the trees at www.rootsweb.com as well.

I did find one very intriguing record of a Bolton/Preston marriage at exactly the right time.  Henry Bolton, born about 1760, was supposed to be from London, according to the ship’s manifest, but where his parents were married and where the ship he sailed on some 15-20 years later could be two entirely different locations.  London was, after all, the “go to” place for both commerce and opportunity.

preston bolton marriage

I searched for additional information about where the Preston surname might be found.  Would Preston be more likely as Henry Bolton’s mother or Nancy Mann’s mother?  According to these maps, Preston is more frequently found in England.

Ancestry provides the following information:

Preston

English: habitational name from any of the extremely numerous places (most notably one in Lancashire) so called from Old English preost ‘priest’ + tun ‘enclosure’, ‘settlement’; the meaning may have been either ‘village with a priest’ or ‘village held by the Church’.  Scottish: habitational name from Presto(u)n, now Craigmillar, in Midlothian. This name has also been established in Ireland since the 13th century.

Preston in England

Preston in Scotland

The DNA Story

We have a total of 6 descendants of Joseph Preston Bolton who have taken the autosomal DNA test at Family Tree DNA.  Of those, three of us descend through Ollie and share other DNA as well, so I have eliminated the other two from the equation.  They are both further down the tree, so share less DNA and it would be too difficult to differentiate between the DNA that we share from our Estes line.  Therefore, for this exercise, we have 4 descendants, as shown, below.

There are other descendants of Henry Bolton through his second wife, Nancy Mann, but I am not utilizing them in this analysis.

joseph bolton 4 desc

I want to see how much of Joseph Preston’s DNA we share, and to, in essence, reconstruct some of Joseph Preston, on paper of course, from our combined DNA.

This, however, presented a problem.

Dillis is my third cousin once removed, and we found it distressing to not “be related” in our matches at Family Tree DNA.  Thankfully, we are, but we had to use the “back door methodology to prove that fact.

In the chart below, you can see that we cousins didn’t all match each other, at least not on the surface.

Dillis Me Barb Janet
Dillis na No Yes yes
Me No na Yes Yes
Barb Yes Yes na Yes
Janet Yes Yes Yes na

This means that I couldn’t simply compare everyone though the chromosome browser, I had to compare several people and then combine the results, deleting the duplicates in the resulting spreadsheet.

The method I used was to push the matches through to the chromosome browser from the match page and then download everyone’s matches to everyone else, meaning I only downloaded the matching information – not everyone’s matches to their entire match list.

The Dillis to Barb match information would be the same as the Barb to Dillis, so I deleted that portion so that all we have is one comparison for each pair.

For example, here’s a comparison of one cousin to two others at the 1cM level.  Look at that beautiful Bolton DNA!

Dillis cousin match

By clicking on the “download to Excel”, right beside the Chromosome Browser Tutorial, you only download the compared results and can then add them to a composite spreadsheet easily.

Dillis preston match

Here is the resulting composite spreadsheet for all of the cousin matches, after I’ve color coded the results.

joseph bolton desc ss

Actually, it’s the color coding that is important.  You have to do this yourself after you copy and paste the relevant results into your spreadsheet.

Let’s take each color one at a time.

First, let’s look at red.

The red are the segments that Dillis and I DO match on.  Yes, that’s what I said….we DO match.  Family Tree DNA has their thresholds set to maximize the largest matches they feel are genuine in a generalized population,  meaning not identical by state, but those rules don’t always apply when you have a known or suspected relationship.  What a nonmatch means at Family Tree DNA is that we don’t meet all of the following criteria:

  • 20cM total
  • At least one individual match over roughly 7.7cM
  • 500 SNPs for at least one segment

Obviously Dillis and I don’t meet that criteria, but we do have relevant matching DNA – lots of it – in at least 5 different areas.  The proof is in the downloaded spreadsheet.  Were it not for the fact that I happen to know our Bolton cousins who have tested, and we each match some of them in common, we would be unable, through Family Tree DNA to determine that we match.  That also means we wouldn’t be able to utilize the smaller Bolton segments to identify other matches – like, maybe Prestons.

It sure would be wonderful to be able to selectively reduce the matching criteria, especially within projects or in specific situations, like to Dillis, or to everyone who shows a certain ancestral surname or ancestor.  We miss a lot by not having this ability, but we can’t quantify how much we miss because we can’t see what we’re missing.

Second, let’s look at the green groups.  These are groups where all of the participants have overlapping DNA that matches.  Matching of three or more individuals from a known ancestor is called triangulation, and that is how DNA is assigned to that particular ancestor.  So, the overlapping portions of the green DNA are Joseph Preston Bolton’s DNA that we all share.  How about that?

The yellow flags the matches between Janet and Dillis who are more closely related.  They also share both Parks and Smith DNA, so those segments, if they don’t match another Boltons, cannot necessarily be attributed to Bolton lineage.  Before I would utilize this spreadsheet for further matching, I would probably remove those segments, or leave them colored to remind myself

I wanted to see a visual of Joseph Bolton’s DNA on his chromosomes, and who carries it today.

Utilizing Kitty Cooper’s wonderful ancestor chromosome mapping tool, a little differently than she had in mind, I mapped Joseph’s DNA and the contributors are listed to the right of his chromosome.  You can build a virtual ancestor from their descendants.  I have only utilized the proven, or triangulated DNA segments proven to three or more descendants.

joseph bolton reconstructed

Wow, how cool is that.

Notice the X chromosome as well.  Due to the unique inheritance pattern of the X chromosome, we know that Joseph received his X from his mother, Nancy Mann, so that is Nancy’s X segment we’re looking at.  Janet and I both carry that segment, that piece of Nancy, in us today.

Let’s look at one more thing.  Let’s see if we can glean any information at all about the surname Preston.

I went back into the Family Finder matching and I utilized the surname match capability.

bolton preston ff

I checked each match to be sure that Preston was a surname and not a county or a middle name, and then I recorded, on paper, the list of names of people who had Preston ancestry who matched each cousin.  Obviously, I was hoping to find someone listed on the match list of multiple, hopefully distant, cousins.

Cousin Dillis matches three people, shown below mapped onto Dillis’s chromosomes in 3 colors.  Notice that on chromosomes 11 and 12 some of them match Dillis in the same location.  This does not inherently mean they match each other too, but they might.  Unfortunately, since we are below the 7cM matching threshold at Family Tree DNA, we can’t utilize the Matrix tool to take a look.

Dillis preston match crop

Between all of the cousins’ matches, there were a total of 47 individuals who listed Preston as one of their surnames.

I decided to download the segment data of Dillis’s three Preston matches, and the one person, Terry, who was listed on two different cousin’s matches.  One of the cousins Terry matches is not a descendant of Joseph Preston Bolton, but descends through another child of Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann.

So, I’ve included those Preston match people in the resulting spreadsheet and let’s take a look at what we have.  Terry is the person who matches two different Bolton descendants.

Preston triangulation match

The spreadsheet has gotten quite large, too large to reproduce here, so I’m only showing an example.

What we want to find is one of the people with Preston genealogy dead center in the middle of a proven Bolton segment.  This can match mean one of a few things.

  • The matching person, Terry, in this case, has unknown Bolton heritage.
  • We share some mutual DNA that contributed to the Bolton line.
  • That mutually shared DNA may be Preston DNA.
  • We are the world’s most unlucky people and Terry matches us on all 27 common segments circumstantially. You can pretty much rule this one out.

Several of these segments have matches between Dillis, at least one of his Preston descendant matches, Terry and other cousins.  One of Dillis’s matches also matches on several of the same segments where Terry matches the cousins as well.

This very strongly suggests distant common ancestry.  What can we do to find out?

Genealogy, we’re back to genealogy.  Now, I need to look at the Family Trees on Family Tree DNA for each of the people who have loaded GEDCOMs to see if I can find any commonality between their Preston ancestors.  I need to send e-mails to those who haven’t uploaded GEDCOM files, and let’s hope that we are lucky enough to find a connecting thread between the Prestons that might lead us to a Preston/Bolton connection, or at least a geography – and who knows – maybe it’s the Bolton/Preston marriage from 1756 in York, England.  Or maybe not – that’s why it’s called a search!

Long shot?  Yep?  Genealogy is an adventure with never any sure answers and every answer leads to more questions.  But, as my brother, John, says, no shot is a sure miss.

I’m thinking Henry Bolton’s mother just might well be a Preston and I’m setting out to find more evidence.

What would be really useful now would be to find a descendant of Henry Bolton’s brother, Conrad.  Unfortunately, Conrad had only one known child, Sarah, born about 1806 who married Jesse W. Keyes on March 29, 1826 in Giles Co., VA.  If Sarah’s descendants also match one of those Preston DNA individuals, preferably on the same segment, then that eliminates Nancy Mann from the equation, confirming the Preston DNA came from Henry’s line.  Yea, I know I’m dreaming, but this is how we utilize DNA to prove hypothesis.

Wish me luck!

Step one….any descendants of Conrad Bolton out there???

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research