Native American & Minority Ancestors Identified Using DNAPainter Plus Ethnicity Segments

Ethnicity is always a ticklish subject. On one hand we say to be leery of ethnicity estimates, but on the other hand, we all want to know who our ancestors were and where they came from. Many people hope to prove or disprove specific theories or stories about distant ancestors.

Reasons to be cautious about ethnicity estimates include:

  • Within continents, like Europe, it’s very difficult to discern ethnicity at the “country” level because of thousands of years of migration across regions where borders exist today. Ethnicity estimates within Europe can be significantly different than known and proven genealogy.
  • “Countries,” in Europe, political constructs, are the same size as many states in the US – and differentiation between those populations is almost impossible to accurately discern. Think of trying to figure out the difference between the populations of Indiana and Illinois, for example. Yet we want to be able to tell the difference between ancestors that came from France and Germany, for example.

Ethnicity states over Europe

  • All small amounts of ethnicity, even at the continental level, under 2-5%, can be noise and might be incorrect. That’s particularly true of trace amounts, 1% or less. However, that’s not always the case – which is why companies provide those small percentages. When hunting ancestors in the distant past, that small amount of ethnicity may be the only clue we have as to where they reside at detectable levels in our genome.

Noise in this case is defined as:

  • A statistical anomaly
  • A chance combination of your DNA from both parents that matches a reference population
  • Issues with the reference population itself, specifically admixture
  • Perhaps combinations of the above

You can read about the challenges with ethnicity here and here.

On the Other Hand

Having restated the appropriate caveats, on the other hand, we can utilize legitimate segments of our DNA to identify where our ancestors came from – at the continental level.

I’m actually specifically referring to Native American admixture which is the example I’ll be using, but this process applies equally as well to other minority or continental level admixture as well. Minority, in this sense means minority ethnicity to you.

Native American ethnicity shows distinctly differently from African and European. Sometimes some segments of DNA that we inherit from Native American ancestors are reported as Asian, specifically Siberian, Northern or Eastern Asian.

Remember that the Native American people arrived as a small group via Beringia, a now flooded land bridge that once connected Siberia with Alaska.

beringia map

By Erika Tamm et al – Tamm E, Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu M, Smith DG, et al. (2007) Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders. PLoS ONE 2(9): e829. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000829. Also available from PubMed Central., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16975303

After that time, the Native American/First Nations peoples were isolated from Asia, for the most part, and entirely from Europe until European exploration resulted in the beginning of sustained European settlement, and admixture beginning in the late 1400s and 1500s in the Americas.

Family Inheritance

Testing multiple family members is extremely useful when working with your own personal minority heritage. This approach assumes that you’d like to identify your matches that share that genetic heritage because they share the same minority DNA that you do. Of course, that means you two share the same ancestor at some time in the past. Their genealogy, or your combined information, may hold the clue to identifying your ancestor.

In my family, my daughter has Native American segments that she inherited from me that I inherited from my mother.

Finding the same segment identified as Native American in several successive generations eliminates the possibility that the chance combination of DNA from your father and mother is “appearing” as Native, when it isn’t.

We can use segment information to our benefit, especially if we don’t know exactly who contributed that DNA – meaning which ancestor.

We need to find a way to utilize those Native or other minority segments genealogically.

23andMe

Today, the only DNA testing vendor that provides consumers with a segment identification of our ethnicity predictions is 23andMe.

If you have tested at 23andMe, sign in and click on Ancestry on the top tab, then select Ancestry Composition.

Minority ethnicity ancestry composition.png

Scroll down until you see your painted chromosomes.

Minority ethnicity chromosome painting.png

By clicking on the region at left that you want to see, the rest of the regions are greyed out and only that region is displayed on your chromosomes, at right.

Minority ethnicity Native.png

According to 23andMe, I have two Native segments, one each on chromosomes 1 and 2. They show these segments on opposite chromosomes, meaning one (the top for example) would be maternal or paternal, and the bottom one would be the opposite. But 23andMe apparently could not tell for sure because neither my mother nor father have tested there. This placement also turned out to be incorrect. The above image was my initial V3 test at 23andMe. My later V4 results were different.

Versions May Differ

Please note that your ethnicity predictions may be different based on which test you took which is dictated by when you took the test. The image above is my V3 test that was in use at 23andMe between 2010 and November 2013, and the image below is my V4 test in use between November 2013 and August 2017.

23andMe apparently does not correct original errors involving what is known as “strand swap” where the maternal and paternal segments are inverted during analysis. My V4 test results are shown below, where the strands are correctly portrayed.

Minority ethnicity Native V4.png

Note that both Native segments are now on the lower chromosome “side” of the pair and the position on the chromosome 1 segment has shifted visually.

Minority ethnicity sides.png

I have not tested at 23andMe on the current V5 GSA chip, in use since August 9, 2017, but perhaps I should. The results might be different yet, with the concept being that each version offers an improvement over earlier versions as science advances.

If your parents have tested, 23andMe makes adjustments to your ethnicity estimates accordingly.

Although my mother can’t test at 23andMe, I happen to already know that these Native segments descend from my mother based on genealogical and genetic analysis, combined. I’m going to walk you through the process.

I can utilize my genealogy to confirm or refute information shown by 23andMe. For example, if one of those segments comes from known ancestors who were living in Germany, it’s clearly not Native, and it’s noise of some type.

We’re going to utilize DNAPainter to determine which ancestors contributed your minority segments, but first you’ll need to download your ethnicity segments from 23andMe.

Downloading Ethnicity Segment Data

Downloading your ethnicity segments is NOT THE SAME as downloading your raw DNA results to transfer to another vendor. Those are two entirely different files and different procedures.

To download the locations of your ethnicity segments at 23andMe, scroll down below your painted ethnicity segments in your Ancestry Composition section to “View Scientific Details.”

MInority ethnicity scientific details.png

Click on View Scientific Details and scroll down to near the bottom and then click on “Download Raw Data.” I leave mine at the 50% confidence level.

Minority ethnicity download raw data.png

Save this spreadsheet to your computer in a known location.

In the spreadsheet, you’ll see columns that provide the name of the segment, the chromosome copy number (1 or 2) and the chromosome number with start and end locations.

Minority ethnicity download.png

You really don’t care about this information directly, but DNAPainter does and you’ll care a lot about what DNAPainter does for you.

DNAPainter

I wrote introductory articles about DNAPainter:

If you’re not familiar with DNAPainter, you might want to read these articles first and then come back to this point in this article.

Go ahead – I’ll wait!

Getting Started

If you don’t have a DNAPainter account, you’ll need to create one for free. Some features, such as having multiple profiles are subscription based, but the functionality you’ll need for one profile is free.

I’ve named this example profile “Ethnicity Demo.” You’ll see your name where mine says “Ethnicity Demo.”

Minority ethnicity DNAPainter.png

Click on “Import 23andme ancestry composition.”

You will copy and paste all the spreadsheet rows in the entire downloaded 23andMe ethnicity spreadsheet into the DNAPainter text box and make your selection, below. The great news is that if you discover that your assumption about copy 1 being maternal or paternal is incorrect, it’s easy to delete the ethnicity segments entirely and simply repaint later. Ditto if 23andMe changes your estimate over time, like they have mine.

Minority ethnicity DNAPainter sides.png

I happen to know that “copy 2” is maternal, so I’ve made that selection.

You can then see your ethnicity chromosome segments painted, and you can expand each one to see the detail. Click on “Save Segments.”

MInority ethnicity DNAPainter Native painting

Click to enlarge

In this example, you can see my Native segments, called by various names at different confidence levels at 23andMe, on chromosome 1.

Depending on the confidence level, these segments are called some mixture of:

  • East Asian & Native American
  • North Asian & Native American
  • Native American
  • Broadly East Asian & Native American

It’s exactly the same segment, so you don’t really care what it’s called. DNAPainter paints all of the different descriptions provided by 23andMe, at all confidence levels as you can see above.

The DNAPainter colors are different from 23andMe colors and are system-selected. You can’t assign the colors for ethnicity segments.

Now, I’m moving to my own profile that I paint with my ancestral segments. To date, I have 78% of my segments painted by identifying cousins with known common ancestors.

On chromosomes 1 and 2, copy 2, which I’ve determined to be my mother’s “side,” these segments track back to specific ancestors.

Minority ethnicity maternal side

Click to enlarge

Chromosome 1 segments, above, track back to the Lore family, descended from Antoine (Anthony) Lore (Lord) who married Rachel Hill. Antoine Lore was Acadian.

Minority ethnicity chromosome 1.png

Clicking on the green segment bar shows me the ancestors I assigned when I painted the match with my Lore family member whose name is blurred, but whose birth surname was Lore.

The Chromosome 2 segment, below, tracks back to the same family through a match to Fred.

Minority ethnicity chromosome 2.png

My common ancestors with Fred are Honore Lore and Marie Lafaille who are the parents of Antoine Lore.

Minority ethnicity common ancestor.png

There are additional matches on both chromosomes who also match on portions of the Native segments.

Now that I have a pointer in the ancestral direction that these Native American segments arrived from, what can traditional genealogy and other DNA information tell me?

Traditional Genealogy Research

The Acadian people were a mixture of English, French and Native American. The Acadians settled on the island of Nova Scotia in 1609 and lived there until being driven out by the English in 1755, roughly 6 or 7 generations later.

Minority ethnicity Acadian map.png

The Acadians intermarried with the Mi’kmaq people.

It had been reported by two very qualified genealogists that Philippe Mius, born in 1660, married two Native American women from the Mi’kmaq tribe given the name Marie.

The French were fond of giving the first name of Marie to Native women when they were baptized in the Catholic faith which was required before the French men were allowed to marry the Native women. There were many Native women named Marie who married European men.

Minority ethnicity Native mitochondrial tree

Click to enlarge

This Mius lineage is ancestral to Antoine Lore (Lord) as shown on my pedigree, above.

Mitochondrial DNA has revealed that descendants from one of Philippe Mius’s wives, Marie, carry haplogroup A2f1a.

However, mitochondrial tests of other descendants of “Marie,” his first wife, carry haplogroup X2a2, also Native American.

Confusion has historically existed over which Marie is the mother of my ancestor, Francoise.

Karen Theroit Reader, another professional genealogist, shows Francoise Mius as the last child born to the first Native wife before her death sometime after 1684 and before about 1687 when Philippe remarried.

However, relative to the source of Native American segments, whether Francoise descends from the first or second wife doesn’t matter in this instance because both are Native and are proven so by their mitochondrial DNA haplogroups.

Additionally, on Antoine’s mother’s side, we find a Doucet male, although there are two genetic male Doucet lines, one of European origin, haplogroup R-L21, and one, surprisingly, of Native origin, haplogroup C-P39. Both are proven by their respective haplogroups but confusion exists genealogically over who descends from which lineage.

On Antoine’s mother’s side, there are several unidentified lineages, any one or multiples of which could also be Native. As you can see, there are large gaps in my tree.

We do know that these Native segments arrived through Antoine Lore and his parents, Honore Lore and Marie LaFaille. We don’t know exactly who upstream contributed these segments – at least not yet. Painting additional matches attributable to specific ancestral couples will eventually narrow the candidates and allow me to walk these segments back in time to their rightful contributor.

Segments, Traditional Research and DNAPainter

These three tools together, when using continent-level segments in combination with painting the DNA segments of known cousins that match specific lineages create a triangulated ethnicity segment.

When that segment just happens to be genealogically important, this combination can point the researchers in the right direction knowing which lines to search for that minority ancestor.

If your cousins who match you on this segment have also tested with 23andMe, they should also be identified as Native on this same segment. This process does not apply to intracontinental segments, meaning within Europe, because the admixture is too great and the ethnicity predictions are much less reliable.

When identifying minority admixture at the continental level, adding Y and mitochondrial DNA testing to the mix in order to positively identify each individual ancestor’s Y and mitochondrial DNA is very important in both eliminating and confirming what autosomal DNA and genealogy records alone can’t do. The base haplogroup as assigned at 23andMe is a good start, but it’s not enough alone. Plus, we only carry one line of mitochondrial DNA and only males carry Y DNA, and only their direct paternal line.

We need Y and mitochondrial DNA matching at FamilyTreeDNA to verify the specific lineage. Additionally, we very well may need the Y and mitochondrial DNA information that we don’t directly carry – but other cousins do. You can read about Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, here.

I wrote about creating a personal DNA pedigree chart including your ancestors’ Y and mitochondrial DNA here. In order to find people descended from a specific ancestor who have DNA tested, I utilize:

  • WikiTree resources and trees
  • Geni trees
  • FamilySearch trees
  • FamilyTreeDNA autosomal matches with trees
  • AncestryDNA autosomal matches and their associated trees
  • Ancestry trees in general, meaning without knowing if they are related to a DNA match
  • MyHeritage autosomal matches and their trees
  • MyHeritage trees in general

At both MyHeritage and Ancestry, you can view the trees of your matches, but you can also search for ancestors in other people’s trees to see who might descend appropriately to provide a Y or mitochondrial DNA sample. You will probably need a subscription to maximize these efforts. My Heritage offers a free trial subscription here.

If you find people appropriately descended through WikiTree, Geni or FamilySearch, you’ll need to discuss DNA testing with them. They may have already tested someplace.

If you find people who have DNA tested through your DNA matches with trees at Ancestry and MyHeritage, you’ll need to offer a Y or mitochondrial DNA test to them if they haven’t already tested at FamilyTreeDNA.

FamilyTreeDNA is the only vendor who provides the Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests at the higher resolution level, beyond base haplogroups, required for matching and for a complete haplogroup designation.

If the person has taken the Family Finder autosomal test at FamilyTreeDNA, they may have already tested their Y DNA and mtDNA, or you can offer to upgrade their test.

Projects

Checking projects at FamilyTreeDNA can be particularly useful when trying to discover if anyone from a specific lineage has already tested. There are many, special interest projects such as the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry project, the American Indian project, haplogroup projects, surname projects and more.

You can view projects alphabetically here or you can click here to scroll down to enter the surname or topic you are seeking.

Minority ethnicity project search.png

If the topic isn’t listed, check the alphabetic index under Geographical Projects.

23andMe Maternal and Paternal Sides

If possible, you’ll want to determine which “side” of your family your minority segments originate come from, unless they come from both. you’ll want to determine whether chromosome side one 1 or 2 is maternal, because the other one will be paternal.

23andMe doesn’t offer tree functionality in the same way as other vendors, so you won’t be able to identify people there descended from your ancestors without contacting each person or doing other sleuthing.

Recently, 23andMe added a link to FamilySearch that creates a list of your ancestors from their mega-shared tree for 7 generations, but there is no tree matching or search functionality. You can read about the FamilySearch connection functionality here.

So, how do you figure out which “side” is which?

Minority ethnicity minority segment.png

The chart above represents the portion of your chromosomes that contains your minority ancestry. Initially, you don’t know if the minority segment is your mother’s pink chromosome or your father’s blue chromosome. You have one chromosome from each parent with the exact same addresses or locations, so it’s impossible to tell which side is which without additional information. Either the pink or the blue segment is minority, but how can you tell?

In my case, the family oral history regarding Native American ancestry was from my father’s line, but the actual Native segments wound up being from my mother, not my father. Had I made an assumption, it would have been incorrect.

Fortunately, in our example, you have both a maternal and paternal aunt who have tested at 23andMe. You match both aunts on that exact same segment location – one from your father’s side, blue, and one from your mother’s side, pink.

You compare your match with your maternal aunt and verify that indeed, you do match her on that segment.

You’ll want to determine if 23andMe has flagged that segment as Native American for your maternal aunt too.

You can view your aunt’s Ancestry Composition by selecting your aunt from the “Your Connections” dropdown list above your own ethnicity chromosome painting.

Minority ethnicity relative connections.png

You can see on your aunt’s chromosomes that indeed, those locations on her chromosomes are Native as well.

Minority ethnicity relative minority segments.png

Now you’ve identified your minority segment as originating on your maternal side.

Minority ethnicity Native side.png

Let’s say you have another match, Match 1, on that same segment. You can easily tell which “side” Match 1 is from. Since you know that you match your maternal aunt on that minority segment, if Match 1 matches both you and your maternal aunt, then you know that’s the side the match is from – AND that person also shares that minority segment.

You can also view that person’s Ancestry Composition as well, but shared matching is more reliable,especially when dealing with small amounts of minority admixture.

Another person, Match 2, matches you on that same segment, but this time, the person matches you and your paternal aunt, so they don’t share your minority segment.

Minority ethnicity match side.png

Even if your paternal aunt had not tested, because Match 2 does not match you AND your maternal aunt, you know Match 2 doesn’t share your minority segment which you can confirm by checking their Ancestry Composition.

Download All of Your Matches

Rather than go through your matches one by one, it’s easiest to download your entire match list so you can see which people match you on those chromosome locations.

Minority ethnicity download aggregate data.png

You can click on “Download Aggregate Data” at 23andMe, at the bottom of your DNA Relatives match list to obtain all of your matches who are sharing with you. 23andMe limits your matches to 2000 or less, the actual number being your highest 2000 matches minus the people who aren’t sharing. I have 1465 matches showing and that number decreases regularly as new testers at 23andMe are focused on health and not genealogy, meaning lower matches get pushed off the list of 2000 match candidates.

You can quickly sort the spreadsheet to see who matches you on specific segments. Then, you can check each match in the system to see if that person matches you and another known relative on the minority segments or you can check their Ancestry Composition, or both.

If they share your minority segment, then you can check their tree link if they have one, included in the download, their Family Search information if included on their account, or reach out to them to see if you might share a known ancestor.

The key to making your ethnicity segment work for you is to identify ancestors and paint known matches.

Paint Those Matches

When searching for matches whose DNA you can attribute to specific ancestors, be sure to check at all 4 places that provide segment information that you can paint:

At GedMatch, you’ll find some people who have tested at the other various vendors, including Ancestry, but unfortunately not everyone uploads. Ancestry doesn’t provide segment information, so you won’t be able to paint those matches directly from Ancestry.

If your Ancestry matches transfer to GedMatch, FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage you can view your match and paint your common segments. At GedMatch, Ancestry kit numbers begin with an A. I use my Ancestry kit matches at GedMatch to attempt to figure out who that match is at Ancestry in order to attempt to figure out the common ancestor.

To Paint, You Must Test

Of course, in order to paint your matches that you find in various databases, you need to be in those data bases, meaning you either need to test there or transfer your DNA file.

Transfers

If you’d like to test your DNA at one vendor and download the file to transfer to another vendor, or GedMatch, that’s possible with both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage who both accept uploads.

You can transfer kits from Ancestry and 23andMe to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage for free, although the chromosome browsers, advanced tools and ethnicity require an unlock fee (or alternatively a subscription at MyHeritage). Still, the free transfer and unlock for $19 at FamilyTreeDNA or $29 at MyHeritage is less than the cost of testing.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet.

DNA vendor transfer cheat sheet 2019

From time to time, as vendor file formats change, the ability to transfer is temporarily interrupted, but it costs nothing to try a transfer to either MyHeritage or FamilyTreeDNA, or better yet, both.

In each of these articles, I wrote about how to download your data from a specific vendor and how to upload from other vendors if they accept uploads.

Summary Steps

In order to use your minority ethnicity segments in your genealogy, you need to:

  1. Test at 23andMe
  2. Identify which parental side your minority ethnicity segments are from, if possible
  3. Download your ethnicity segments
  4. Establish a DNAPainter account
  5. Upload your ethnicity segments to DNAPainter
  6. Paint matches of people with whom you share known common ancestors utilizing segment information from 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and AncestryDNA matches who have uploaded to GedMatch
  7. If you have not tested at either MyHeritage or FamilyTreeDNA, upload your 23andMe file to either vendor for matching, along with GedMatch
  8. Focus on those minority segments to determine which ancestral line they descend through in order to identify the ancestor(s) who provided your minority admixture.

Have fun!

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

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First Steps When Your DNA Results are Ready – Sticking Your Toe in the Genealogy Water

First steps helix

Recently someone asked me what the first steps would be for a person who wasn’t terribly familiar with genealogy and had just received their DNA test results.

I wrote an article called DNA Results – First Glances at Ethnicity and Matching which was meant to show new folks what the various vendor interfaces look like. I was hoping this might whet their appetites for more, meaning that the tester might, just might, stick their toe into the genealogy waters😊

I’m hoping this article will help them get hooked! Maybe that’s you!

A Guide

This article can be read in one of two ways – as an overview, or, if you click the links, as a pretty thorough lesson. If you’re new, I strongly suggest reading it as an overview first, then a second time as a deeper dive. Use it as a guide to navigate your results as you get your feet wet.

I’ll be hotlinking to various articles I’ve written on lots of topics, so please take a look at details (eventually) by clicking on those links!

This article is meant as a guideline for what to do, and how to get started with your DNA matching results!

If you’re looking for ethnicity information, check out the First Glances article, plus here and here and here.

Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages provides you with guidelines for how to estimate your own ethnicity percentages based on your known genealogy and Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum explains how ethnicity testing is done.

OK, let’s get started. Fun awaits!

The Goal

The goal for using DNA matching in genealogy depends on your interests.

  1. To discover cousins and family members that you don’t know. Some people are interested in finding and meeting relatives who might have known their grandparents or great-grandparents in the hope of discovering new family information or photos they didn’t know existed previously. I’ve been gifted with my great-grandparent’s pictures, so this strategy definitely works!
  2. To confirm ancestors. This approach presumes that you’ve done at least a little genealogy, enough to construct at least a rudimentary tree. Ancestors are “confirmed” when you DNA match multiple other people who descend from the same ancestor through multiple children. I wrote an article, Ancestors: What Constitutes Proof?, discussing how much evidence is enough to actually confirm an ancestor. Confirmation is based on a combination of both genealogical records and DNA matching and it varies depending on the circumstances.
  3. Adoptees and people with unknown parents seeking to discover the identities of those people aren’t initially looking at their own family tree – because they don’t have one yet. The genealogy of others can help them figure out the identity of those mystery people. I wrote about that technique in the article, Identifying Unknown Parents and Individuals Using DNA Matching.

DNAAdoption for Everyone

Educational resources for adoptees and non-adoptees alike can be found at www.dnaadoption.org. DNAAdoption is not just for adoptees and provides first rate education for everyone. They also provide trained and mentored search angels for adoptees who understand the search process along with the intricacies of navigating the emotional minefield of adoption and unknown parent searches.

First Look” classes for each vendor are free for everyone at DNAAdoption and are self-paced, downloadable onto your computer as a pdf file. Intro to DNA, Applied Autosomal DNA and Y DNA Basics classes are nominally priced at between $29 and $49 and I strongly recommend these. DNAAdoption is entirely non-profit, so your class fee or contribution supports their work. Additional resources can be found here and their 12 adoptee search steps here.

Ok, now let’s look at your results.

Matches are the Key

Regardless of your goal, your DNA matches are the key to finding answers, whether you want to make contact with close relatives, prove your more distant ancestors or you’re involved in an adoptee or unknown parent search.

Your DNA matches that of other people because each of you inherited a piece of DNA, called a segment, where many locations are identical. The length of that DNA segment is measured in centiMorgans and those locations are called SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms. You can read about the definition of a centimorgan and how they are used in the article Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’Crab.

While the scientific details are great, they aren’t important initially. What is important is to understand that the more closely you match someone, the more closely you are related to them. You share more DNA with close relatives than more distant relatives.

For example, I share exactly half of my mother’s DNA, but only about 25% of each of my grandparents’ DNA. As the relationships move further back in time, I share less and less DNA with other people who descend from those same ancestors.

Informational Tools

Every vendor’s match page looks different, as was illustrated in the First Glances article, but regardless, you are looking for four basic pieces of information:

  • Who you match
  • How much DNA you share with your match
  • Who else you and your match share that DNA with, which suggests that you all share a common ancestor
  • Family trees to reveal the common ancestor between people who match each other

Every vendor has different ways of displaying this information, and not all vendors provide everything. For example, 23andMe does not support trees, although they allow you to link to one elsewhere. Ancestry does not provide a tool called a chromosome browser which allows you to see if you and others match on the same segment of DNA. Ancestry only tells you THAT you match, not HOW you match.

Each vendor has their strengths and shortcomings. As genealogists, we simply need to understand how to utilize the information available.

I’ll be using examples from all 4 major vendors:

Your matches are the most important information and everything else is based on those matches.

Family Tree DNA

I have tested many family members from both sides of my family at Family Tree DNA using the Family Finder autosomal test which makes my matches there incredibly useful because I can see which family members, in addition to me, my matches match.

Family Tree DNA assigns matches to maternal and paternal sides in a unique way, even if your parents haven’t tested, so long as some close relatives have tested. Let’s take a look.

First Steps Family Tree DNA matches.png

Sign on to your account and click to see your matches.

At the top of your Family Finder matches page, you’ll see three groups of things, shown below.

First Steps Family Tree DNA bucketing

Click to enlarge

A row of tools at the top titled Chromosome Browser, In Common With and Not in Common With.

A second row of tabs that include All, Paternal, Maternal and Both. These are the maternal and paternal tabs I mentioned, meaning that I have a total of 4645 matches, 988 of which are from my paternal side and 847 of which are from my maternal side.

Family Tree DNA assigns people to these “buckets” based on matches with third cousins or closer if you have them attached in your tree. This is why it’s critical to have a tree and test close relatives, especially people from earlier generations like aunts, uncles, great-aunts/uncles and their children if they are no longer living.

If you have one or both parents that can test, that’s a wonderful boon because anyone who matches you and one of your parents is automatically bucketed, or phased (scientific term) to that parent’s side of the tree. However, at Family Tree DNA, it’s not required to have a parent test to have some matches assigned to maternal or paternal sides. You just need to test third cousins or closer and attach them to the proper place in your tree.

How does bucketing work?

Maternal or Paternal “Side” Assignment, aka Bucketing

If I match a maternal first cousin, Cheryl, for example, and we both match John Doe on the same segment, John Doe is automatically assigned to my maternal bucket with a little maternal icon placed beside the match.

First Steps Family Tree DNA match info

Click to enlarge

Every vendor provides an estimated or predicted relationship based on a combination of total centiMorgans and the longest contiguous matching segment. The actual “linked relationship” is calculated based on where this person resides in your tree.

The common surnames at far right are a very nice features, but not every tester provides that information. When the testers do include surnames at Family Tree DNA, common surnames are bolded. Other vendors have similar features.

People with trees are shown near their profile picture with a blue pedigree icon. Clicking on the pedigree icon will show you their ancestors. Your matches estimated relationship to you indicates how far back you should expect to share an ancestor.

For example, first cousins share grandparents. Second cousins share great-grandparents. In general, the further back in time your common ancestor, the less DNA you can be expected to share.

You can view relationship information in chart form in my article here or utilize DNAPainter tools, here, to see the various possibilities for the different match levels.

Clicking on the pedigree chart of your match will show you their tree. In my tree, I’ve connected my parents in their proper places, along with Cheryl and Don, mother’s first cousins. (Yes, they’ve given permission for me to utilize their results, so they aren’t always blurred in images.)

Cheryl and Don are my first cousins once removed, meaning my mother is their first cousin and I’m one generation further down the tree. I’m showing the amount of DNA that I share with each of them in red in the format of total DNA shared and longest unbroken segment, taken from the match list. So 382-53 means I share a total of 382 cM and 53 cM is the longest matching block.

First Steps Family Tree DNA tree.png

The Chromosome Browser

Utilizing the chromosome browser, I can see exactly where I match both Don and Cheryl. It’s obvious that I match them on at least some different pieces of my DNA, because the total and longest segment amounts are different.

The reason it’s important to test lots of close relatives is because even siblings inherit different pieces of DNA from their parents, and they don’t pass the same DNA to their offspring either – so in each generation the amount of shared DNA is probably reduced. I say probably because sometimes segments are passed entirely and sometimes not at all, which is how we “lose” our ancestors’ DNA over the generations.

Here’s a matching example utilizing a chromosome browser.

First Steps Family Tree DNA chromosome browser.png

I clicked the checkboxes to the left of both Cheryl and Don on the match page, then the Chromosome Browser button, and now you can see, above, on chromosomes 1-16 where I match Cheryl (blue) and Don (red.)

In this view, both Don and Cheryl are being compared to me, since I’m the one signed in to my account and viewing my DNA matches. Therefore, one of the bars at each chromosome represents Don’s DNA match to me and one represents Cheryl’s. Cheryl is the first person and Don is the second. Person match colors (red and blue) are assigned arbitrarily by the system.

My grandfather and Cheryl/Don’s father, Roscoe, were siblings.

You can see that on some segments, my grandfather and Roscoe inherited the same segment of DNA from their parents, because today, my mother gave me that exact same segment that I share with both Don and Cheryl. Those segments are exactly identical and shown in the black boxes.

The only way for us to share this DNA today is for us to have shared a common ancestor who gave it to two of their children who passed it on to their descendants who DNA tested today.

On other segments, in red boxes, I share part of the same segments of DNA with Cheryl and Don, but someone along the line didn’t inherit all of that segment. For example on chromosome 3, in the red box, you can see that I share more with Cheryl (blue) than Don (red.)

In other cases, I share with either Don or Cheryl, but Don and Cheryl didn’t inherit that same segment of DNA from their father, so I don’t share with both of them. Those are the areas where you see only blue or only red.

On chromosome 12, you can see where it looks like Don’s and Cheryl’s segments butt up against each other. The DNA was clearly divided there. Don received one piece and Cheryl got the other. That’s known as a crossover and you can read about crossovers here, if you’d like.

It’s important to be able to view segment information to be able to see how others match in order to identify which common ancestor that DNA came from.

In Common With

You can use the “In Common With” tool to see who you match in common with any match. My first 6 matches in common with Cheryl are shown below. Note that they are already all bucketed to my maternal side.

First Steps Family Tree DNA in common with

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You can click on up to 7 individuals in the check box at left to show them on the chromosome browser at once to see if they match you on common segments.

Each matching segment has its own history and may descend from a different ancestor in your common tree.

First Steps 7 match chromosome browser

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If combinations of people do match me on a common segment, because these matches are all on my maternal side, they are triangulated and we know they have to descend from a common ancestor, assuming the segment is large enough. You can read about the concept of triangulation here. Triangulation occurs when 3 or more people (who aren’t extremely closely related like parents or siblings) all match each other on the same reasonably sized segment of DNA.

If you want to download your matches and work through this process in a spreadsheet, that’s an option too.

Size Matters

Small segments can be identical by chance instead of identical by descent.

  • “Identical by chance” means that you accidentally match someone because your DNA on that segment has been combined from both parents and causes it to match another person, making the segment “looks like” it comes from a common ancestor, when it really doesn’t. When DNA is sequenced, both your mother and father’s strands are sequenced, meaning that there’s no way to determine which came from whom. Think of a street with Mom’s side and Dad’s side with identical addresses on the houses on both sides. I wrote about that here.
  • “Identical by descent” means that the DNA is identical because it actually descends from a common ancestor. I discussed that concept in the article, We Match, But Are We Related.

Generally, we only utilize 7cM (centiMorgan) segments and above because at that level, about half of the segments are identical by descent and about half are identical by chance, known as false positives. By the time we move above 15 cM, most, but not all, matches are legitimate. You can read about segment size and accuracy here.

Using “In Common With” and the Matrix

“In Common With” is about who shares DNA. You can select someone you match to see who else you BOTH match. Just because you match two other people doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s on the same segment of DNA. In fact, you could match one person from your mother’s side and the other person from your father’s side.

First Steps match matrix.png

In this example, you match Person B due to ancestor John Doe and Person C due to ancestor Susie Smith. However, Person B also matches person C, but due to ancestor William West that they share and you don’t.

This example shows you THAT they match, but not HOW they match.

The only way to assure that the matches between the three people above are due to the same ancestor is to look at the segments with a chromosome browser and compare all 3 people to each other. Finding 3 people who match on the same segment, from the same side of your tree means that (assuming a reasonably large segment) you share a common ancestor.

Family Tree DNA has a nice matrix function that allows you to see which of your matches also match each other.

First steps matrix link

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The important distinction between the matrix and the chromosome browser is that the chromosome browser shows you where your matches match you, but those matches could be from both sides of your tree, unless they are bucketed. The matrix shows you if your matches also match each other, which is a huge clue that they are probably from the same side of your tree.

First Steps Family Tree DNA matrix.png

A matrix match is a significant clue in terms of who descends from which ancestors. For example, I know, based on who Amy matches, and who she doesn’t match, that she descends from the Ferverda side and that Charles, Rex and Maxine descend from ancestors on the Miller side.

Looking in the chromosome browser, I can tell that Cheryl, Don, Amy and I match on some common segments.

Matching multiple people on the same segment that descends from a common ancestor is called triangulation.

Let’s take a look at the MyHeritage triangulation tool.

MyHeritage

Moving now to MyHeritage who provides us with an easy to use triangulation tool, we see the following when clicking on DNA matches on the DNA tab on the toolbar.

First Steps MyHeritage matches

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Cousin Cheryl is at MyHeritage too. By clicking on Review DNA Match, the purple button on the right, I can see who else I match in common with Cheryl, plus triangulation.

The list of people Cheryl and I both match is shown below, along with our relationships to each person.

First Steps MyHeritage triangulation

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I’ve selected 2 matches to illustrate.

The first match has a little purple icon to the right which means that Amy triangulates with me and Cheryl.

The second match, Rex, means that while we both match Rex, it’s not on the same segment. I know that without looking further because there is no triangulation button. We both match Rex, but Cheryl matches Rex on a different segment than I do.

Without additional genealogy work, using DNA alone, I can’t say whether or not Cheryl, Rex and I all share a common ancestor. As it turns out, we do. Rex is a known cousin who I tested. However, in an unknown situation, I would have to view the trees of those matches to make that determination.

Triangulation

Clicking on the purple triangulation icon for Amy shows me the segments that all 3 of us, me, Amy and Cheryl share in common as compared to me.

First Steps MyHeritage triangulation chromosome browser.png

Cheryl is red and Amy is yellow. The one segment bracketed with the rounded rectangle is the segment shared by all 3 of us.

Do we have a common ancestor? I know Cheryl and I do, but maybe I don’t know who Amy is. Let’s look at Amy’s tree which is also shown if I scroll down.

First Steps MyHeritage common ancestor.png

Amy didn’t have her tree built out far enough to show our common ancestor, but I immediately recognized the surname Ferveda found in her tree a couple of generations back. Darlene was the daughter of Donald Ferverda who was the son of Hiram Ferverda, my great-grandfather.

Hiram was the father of Cheryl’s father, Roscoe and my grandfather, John Ferverda.

First Steps Hiram Ferverda pedigree.png

Amy is my first cousin twice removed and that segment of DNA that I share with her is from either Hiram Ferverda or his wife Eva Miller.

Now, based on who else Amy matches, I can probably tell whether that segment descends from Hiram or Eva.

Viva triangulation!

Theory of Family Relativity

MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity provides theories to people whose DNA matches regarding their common ancestor if MyHeritage can calculate how the 2 people are potentially related.

MyHeritage uses a combination of tools to make that connection, including:

  • DNA matches
  • Your tree
  • Your match’s tree
  • Other people’s trees at MyHeritage, FamilySearch and Geni if the common ancestor cannot be found in your tree compared against your DNA match’s MyHeritage
  • Documents in the MyHeritage data collection, such as census records, for example.

MyHeritage theory update

To view the Theories, click on the purple “View Theories” banner or “View theory” under the DNA match.

First Steps MyHeritage theory of relativity

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The theory is displayed in summary format first.

MyHeritage view full theory

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You can click on the “View Full Theory” to see the detail and sources about how MyHeritage calculated various paths. I have up to 5 different theories that utilize separate resources.

MyHeritage review match

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A wonderful aspect of this feature is that MyHeritage shows you exactly the information they utilized and calculates a confidence factor as well.

All theories should be viewed as exactly that and should be evaluated critically for accuracy, taking into consideration sources and documentation.

I wrote about using Theories of Relativity, with instructions, here and here.

I love this tool and find the Theories mostly accurate.

AncestryDNA

Ancestry doesn’t offer a chromosome browser or triangulation but does offer a tree view for people that you match, so long as you have a subscription. In the past, a special “Light” subscription for DNA only was available for approximately $49 per year that provided access to the trees of your DNA matches and other DNA-related features. You could not order online and had to call support, sometimes asking for a supervisor in order to purchase that reduced-cost subscription. The “Light” subscription did not provide access to anything outside of DNA results, meaning documents, etc. I don’t know if this is still available.

After signing on, click on DNA matches on the DNA tab on the toolbar.

You’ll see the following match list.

First Steps Ancestry matches

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I’ve tested twice at Ancestry, the second time when they moved to their new chip, so I’m my own highest match. Click on any match name to view more.

First Steps Ancestry shared matches

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You’ll see information about common ancestors if you have some in your trees, plus the amount of shared DNA along with a link to Shared Matches.

I found one of the same cousins at Ancestry whose match we were viewing at MyHeritage, so let’s see what her match to me at Ancestry looks like.

Below are my shared matches with that cousin. The notes to the right are mine, not provided by Ancestry. I make extensive use of the notes fields provided by the vendors.

First Steps Ancestry shared matches with cousin

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On your match list, you can click on any match, then on Shared Matches to see who you both match in common. While Ancestry provides no chromosome browser, you can see the amount of DNA that you share and trees, if any exist.

Let’s look at a tree comparison when a common ancestor can be detected in a tree within the past 7 generations.

First Steps Ancestry view ThruLines.png

What’s missing of course is that I can’t see how we match because there’s no chromosome browser, nor can I see if my matches match each other.

Stitched Trees

What I can see, if I click on “View ThruLines” above or ThruLines on the DNA Summary page on the main DNA tab is all of the people I match who Ancestry THINKS we descend from a common ancestor. This ancestor information isn’t always taken from either person’s tree.

For example, if my match hadn’t included Hiram Ferverda in her tree, Ancestry would use other people’s trees to “stitch them together” such that the tester is shown to be descended from a common ancestor with me. Sometimes these stitched trees are accurate and sometimes they are not, although they have improved since they were first released. I wrote about ThruLines here.

First Steps Ancestry ThruLines tree

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In closer generations, especially if you are looking to connect with cousins, tree matching is a very valuable tool. In the graphic above, you can see all of the cousins who descend from Hiram Ferverda who have tested and DNA match to me. These DNA matches to me either descend from Hiram according to their trees, or Ancestry believes they descend from Hiram based on other people’s trees.

With more distant ancestors, other people’s trees are increasingly likely to be copied with no sources, so take them with a very large grain of salt (perchance the entire salt lick.) I use ThruLines as hints, not gospel, especially the further back in time the common ancestor. I wish they reached back another couple of generations. They are great hints and they end with the 7th generation where my brick walls tend to begin!

23andMe

I haven’t mentioned 23andMe yet in this article. Genealogists do test there, especially adoptees who need to fish in every pond.

23andMe is often the 4th choice of the major 4 vendors for genealogy due to the following challenges:

  • No tree support, other than allowing you to link to a tree at FamilySearch or elsewhere. This means no tree matching.
  • Less than 2000 matches, meaning that every person is limited to a maximum of 2000 matches, minus however many of those 2000 don’t opt-in for genealogical matching. Given that 23andMe’s focus is increasingly health, my number of matches continues to decrease and is currently just over 1500. The good news is that those 1500 are my highest, meaning closest matches. The bad news is the genealogy is not 23andMe’s focus.

If you are an adoptee, a die-hard genealogist or specifically interested in ethnicity, then test at 23andMe. Otherwise all three of the other vendors would be better choices.

However, like the other vendors, 23andMe does have some features that are unique.

Their ethnicity predictions are acknowledged to be excellent. Ethnicity at 23andMe is called Ancestry Composition, and you’ll see that immediately when you sign in to your account.

First Steps 23andMe DNA Relatives.png

Your matches at 23andMe are found under DNA Relatives.

First Steps 23andMe tools

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At left, you’ll find filters and the search box.

Mom’s and Dad’s side filter matches if you’ve tested your parents, but it’s not like the Family Tree DNA bucketing that provides maternal and paternal side bucketing by utilizing through third cousins if your parents aren’t available for testing.

Family names aren’t your family names, but the top family names that match to you. Guess what my highest name is? Smith.

However, Ancestor Birthplaces are quite useful because you can sort by country. For example, my mother’s grandfather Ferverda was born in the Netherlands.

First Steps 23andMe country.png

If I click on Netherlands, I can see my 5 matches with ancestors born in the Netherlands. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I match because of my match’s Dutch ancestors, but it does provide me with a place to look for a common ancestor and I can proceed by seeing who I match in common with those matches. Unfortunately, without trees we’re left to rely on ancestor birthplaces and family surnames, if my matches have entered that information.

One of my Dutch matches also matches my Ferverda cousin. Given that connection, and that the Ferverda family immigrated from Holland in 1868, that’s a starting point.

MyHeritage has a similar features and they are much more prevalent in Europe.

By clicking on my Ferverda cousin, I can view the DNA we share, who we match in common, our common ethnicity and more. I have the option of comparing multiple people in the chromosome browser by clicking on “View DNA Comparison” and then selecting who I wish to compare.

First Steps 23andMe view DNA Comparison.png

By scrolling down instead of clicking on View DNA Comparison, I can view where my Ferverda cousin matches me on my chromosomes, shown below.

First STeps 23andMe chromosome browser.png

23andMe identifies completely identical segments which would be painted in dark purple, the legend at bottom left.

Adoptees love this feature because it would immediately differentiate between half and full siblings. Full siblings share approximately 25% of the exact DNA on both their maternal and paternal strands of DNA, while half siblings only share the DNA from one parent – assuming their parents aren’t closely related. I share no completely identical DNA with my Ferverda cousin, so no segments are painted dark purple.

23andMe and Ancestry Maps Show Where Your Matches Live

Another reason that adoptees and people searching for birth parents or unknown relatives like 23andMe is because of the map function.

After clicking on DNA Relatives, click on the Map function at the top of the page which displays the following map.

First Steps 23andMe map

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This isn’t a map of where your matches ancestors lived, but is where your matches THEMSELVES live. Furthermore, you can zoom in, click on the button and it displays the name of the individual and the city where they live or whatever they entered in the location field.

First Steps 23andMe your location on map.png

I entered a location in my profile and confirmed that the location indeed displays on my match’s maps by signing on to another family member’s account. What I saw is the display above. I’d wager that most testers don’t realize that their home location and photo, if entered, is being displayed to their matches.

I think sharing my ancestors’ locations is a wonderful, helpful, idea, but there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for anyone to know where I live and I feel it’s stalker-creepy and a safety risk.

First Steps 23andMe questions.png

If you enter a location in this field in your profile, it displays on the map.

If you test with 23andMe and you don’t want your location to display on this map to your matches, don’t answer any question that asks you where you call home or anything similar. I never answer any questions at 23andMe. They are known for asking you the same question repeatedly, in multiple locations and ways, until you relent and answer.

Ancestry has a similar map feature and they’ve also begun to ask you questions that are unrelated to genealogy.

Ancestry Map Shows Where Your Matches Live

At Ancestry, when you click to see your DNA matches, look to the right at the map link.

First Steps Ancestry map link.png

By clicking on this link, you can see the locations that people have entered into their profile.

First Steps Ancestry match map.png

As you can see, above, I don’t have a location entered and I am prompted for one. Note that Ancestry does specifically say that this location will be shown to your matches.

You can click on the Ancestry Profile link here, or go to your Personal Profile by click the dropdown under your user name in the upper right hand corner of any page.

This is important because if you DON’T want your location to show, you need to be sure there is nothing entered in the location field.

First Steps Ancestry profile.png

Under your profile, click “Edit.”

First Steps Ancestry edit profile.png

After clicking edit, complete the information you wish to have public or remove the information you do not.

First Steps Ancestry location in profile.png

Sometimes Your Answer is a Little More Complicated

This is a First Steps article. Sometimes the answer you seek might be a little more complicated. That’s why there are specialists who deal with this all day, everyday.

What issues might be more complex?

If you’re just starting out, don’t worry about these things for now. Just know when you run into something more complex or that doesn’t make sense, I’m here and so are others. Here’s a link to my Help page.

Getting Started

What do you need to get started?

  • You need to take a DNA test, or more specifically, multiple DNA tests. You can test at Ancestry or 23andMe and transfer your results to both Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage, or you can test directly at all vendors.

Neither Ancestry nor 23andMe accept uploads, meaning other vendors tests, but both MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA accept most file versions. Instructions for how to download and upload your DNA results are found below, by vendor:

Both MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA charge a minimal fee to unlock their advanced features such as chromosome browsers and ethnicity if you upload transfer files, but it’s less costly in both cases than testing directly. However, if you want the MyHeritage DNA plus Health or the Family Tree DNA Y DNA or Mitochondrial DNA tests, you must test directly at those companies for those tests.

  • It’s not required, but it would be in your best interest to build as much of a tree at all three vendors as you can. Every little bit helps.

Your first tree-building step should be to record what your family knows about your grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. Here’s what my first step attempt looked like. It’s cringe-worthy now, but everyone has to start someplace. Just do it!

You can build a tree at either Ancestry or MyHeritage and download your tree for uploading at the other vendors. Or, you can build the tree using genealogy software on your computer and upload to all 3 places. I maintain my primary tree on my computer using RootsMagic. There are many options. MyHeritage even provides free tree builder software.

Both Ancestry and MyHeritage offer research/data subscriptions that provide you with hints to historical documents that increase what you know about your ancestors. The MyHeritage subscription can be tried for free. I have full subscriptions to both Ancestry and MyHeritage because they both include documents in their collections that the other does not.

Please be aware that document suggestions are hints and each one needs to be evaluated in the context of what you know and what’s reasonable. For example, if your ancestor was born in 1750, they are not included in the 1900 census, nor do women have children at age 70. People do have exactly the same names. FindAGrave information is entered by humans and is not always accurate. Just sayin’…

Evaluate critically and skeptically.

Ok, Let’s Go!

When your DNA results are ready, sign on to each vendor, look at your matches and use this article to begin to feel your way around. It’s exciting and the promise is immense. Feel free to share the link to this article on social media or with anyone else who might need help.

You are the cumulative product of your ancestors. What better way to get to know them than through their DNA that’s shared between you and your cousins!

What can you discover today?

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Disclosure

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Thank you so much.

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Genealogy Research

Lucy Moore (c 1754-1832), Spunky Plaintiff – 52 Ancestors #248

In Lucy’s first article, Lucy Moore, Minister’s Wife, we discovered Lucy’s first name in deeds with her husband, the Reverend William Moore, in Halifax County, Virginia.

Married probably between 1772 and 1774, Lucy and William had 4 children in 1782 when the head of household “census” was taken in Virginia, and 5 by 1785. Like most couples, they farmed and had a child approximately every 18 months to 2 years for their entire marriage, or at least until Lucy no longer became pregnant.

Lucy is a fairly unusual name, so it was easy to identify Lucy Moore as the wife of William Moore. However, as it turns out, there were actually two more Lucy Moores who lived in the same time and place.

What are the chances of that?

Three Lucy Moores

In 1817, “my” Lucy Moore would have been about 63 years old. 1817 is the year that another Lucy Moore is added to the mix. Lucy Akin married James Moore, son of Lucy and William Moore. From 1817 on, we have to be careful about which Lucy we are dealing with.

For years it was presumed that the marriage on July 30, 1831 of Lucy Moore to James Ives was the widow, Lucy Akin Moore remarrying, but a subsequent chancery suit reveals that it was not.

No, and it wasn’t the widow Lucy Moore either. It was an unexpected third Lucy Moore.

The Lucy Moore that married James Ives was Lucy and William Moore’s daughter. I didn’t make that discovery until I just happened to read every chancery suit that contained the name Moore in Halifax County in anything resembling the right timeframe. Sometimes suits referenced people that had died decades before.

In the Virginia Chancery Index, I entered Moore and selected Halifax where the final chapter of a long sordid story unfolded.

Hard Times

Everything seemed to be fine in William and Lucy Moore’s family until about 1796 or 1797 when something happened to Reverend William Moore. Not only did he stop submitting marriage returns to the county to be recorded, he was listed as exempt from paying taxes in 1797. The only legitimate reasons for a man in his late 40s to be tax exempt was from disability or because he was an official – and William wasn’t an official. Furthermore, he was listed as exempt off and on from then until 1816 when the tax lists stop.

In 1797, Ransom Day sold William Moore 100 acres of land that was where the “meeting house” stood, although the meeting house was excluded from the sale. In 1801, William and Lucy sold that land.

We know William was still farming because later a lawsuit was filed regarding 1306 pounds of tobacco that were not credited to William Moore in 1812. Farmers took their tobacco to the warehouse to be graded and sold according to the crop quality. The warehouse that William was doing business with was subsequently purchased and neither the old nor the new owner ever credited William for the 1812 tobacco sale.

This ongoing lawsuit seemed to be part of a downward spiral that eventually culminated with William losing his land, and worse.

Financial problems don’t seem to be isolated to William Moore. In 1812, his two sons, William Moore Jr. and Azariah Moore are both found to be unable to pay their taxes. Was this perhaps reflective of them attempting to help their father, or was this a learned lifestyle behavior?

Azariah would have been near 30, if not 30, by this time so he was no young whipper-snapper. Both boys eventually moved to Pittsylvania County within a few months, the county next door, where they both continued living beyond their means to the point where Azariah’s wife’s father stipulated that her inheritance could not be touched by Azariah nor could it pay for his debts. Pretty harsh terms.

By 1817 Azariah is living in Pittsylvania according to the tax list, and in 1818, he marries there. William Jr. settles in Pittsylvania too.

However, in 1826, Aza Moore (Azariah, Lucy’s son) sells 50 acres of land on Birches Creek to Lucy Moore for $100, bounded by William Moore Sr.’s old line, the old ridge path and along the ridge path. Azariah had purchased land on Birches Creek in 1814 from William Phelps which was bounded by William Moore, Edward Henderson and William Ferrell.

My first opinion of this transaction was that Azariah took pity on his mother. However, if that’s the case, then why not just give her the land or for the token $1 typical of close family sales? Was this really a case of Lucy trying to help Azariah by purchasing his land? Were both parties benefitted by this transaction? The price does not seem to be at all under market value.

William Moore died in 1826 after having lost his land, so this may have been the only way to guarantee some income for Lucy. If Azariah had sold his land to his father, it could then have been attached for William’s debt.

William’s son, James Moore lost his land in 1827. He’s not found in the census in 1830 and it was believed that he was dead by that time based on the census combined with the fact that Lucy Moore married in 1831. As it turns out, it wasn’t that Lucy Akin Moore that married in 1831, but a different Lucy.

These events are not isolated and are connected.

1830 Census

The 1830 census is confusing. We know Lucy Moore was the head of household, but we don’t know who else was living with her.

It appears that perhaps two Lucy Moores, mother and daughter, were living together in 1830, when Lucy Moore is listed in the census with the following:

  • Female 70-80 so born in 1750-1760 (Lucy, widow of William Moore)
  • 2 females 50-60 so born 1770-1780 (Probably daughter Elizabeth Moore born 1790 and possibly daughter Mary Moore born 1775)
  • Female 40-50 so born 1780-1790 (Daughter Lucy Moore, born 1792)
  • 2 females under 5
  • 1 male under 5

Who did those children belong to? Was one of the women a widow? It had been assumed that Lucy Akin Moore was one of the women living with Lucy Moore, head of household, based on the fact that James Moore was believed deceased and they would have probably had children.

Thank goodness for Azariah who sold his mother land. It looks like Lucy was supporting 7 people. I wonder how Lucy came up with the $100 to purchase that land. That would have been an awful lot of egg money.

Lucy’s Chancery Suit

One of the events that defined Lucy’s life is the path she took after William died in 1826. She would have been about 72 at the time.

Women simply didn’t file lawsuits. Women were supposed to be subservient, accept whatever happened to them and not make waves.

Lucy wasn’t any of those things. She stood up for herself and her rights, regardless of who had been responsible for overlooking the fact that Lucy never signed away her dower rights in William’s land.

Had William failed to inform Lucy of what he was doing. Did she object and refuse to sign? Was it an oversight?

You’d think the men who accepted William’s deed as collateral would know better. At that time in Virginia, women had to be examined separately from their husbands and confirm that they did indeed want to relinquish their dower right in the property. A woman’s dower was 30% of the value of the property.

What really happened?

In a chancery suit filed in Halifax County by Lucy Moore on November 30, 1826, we discover the following complaint:

Lucy Moore complaint.pngLucy Moore complaint 2.pngLucy Moore complaint 3.png

This complaint states that William owned 200 acres of land and that he had signed the land as security for a debt owed to Isaac Medley which could be sold to discharge the debt if it wasn’t paid. It wasn’t and the land was sold, but Lucy never signed away her dower portion to either Isaac or the trustees.

Isaac had “not as yet” assigned Lucy’s portion to her, so Lucy asked the court to do such and to cause her dower portion to be surveyed.

Clearly, Isaac wasn’t going to do this without court intervention, or it would already have been done. Lucy’s “not as yet” was very tongue in cheek.

Lucy Moore complaint 4.png

Isaac’s answer to the complaint states that he agrees that Lucy had never relinquished her dower portion. What else could he do? At that point, neighbors, Charles  T. Harris, Thomas Dixon (also spelled Dickson sometimes), John Ferguson and James Wilson were appointed commissioners to decide what was fair for Lucy, taking into account both quality and quantity of land.

When settling estates, the court typically ordered as property appraisers one person with no connection to the family, one person related to the wife and the person who was owed the highest amount of debt. I wonder if one of these men was related to Lucy.

Of course, this order also meant that Lucy would receive the house. It’s not as if an elderly woman could build a new one and no group of men was going to put a widow out into a field with no shelter. Nor would the court have approved that because the widow would have wound up on the public rolls and that was to be avoided at all costs.

Furthermore, judging from the 1830 census, Lucy was likely supporting additional people.

Lucy Moore Isaac Medley answer.png

This entry summarized the proceedings where the court ordered the land survey and requested the commissioners to report back to the court.

Ironically, Isaac Medley doesn’t even fight Lucy’s claim. Just the fact that Lucy was spunky enough to file the suit is testimony about Lucy in its own right. I’m cheering her on!

This case filing is the single most revealing document for William and Lucy Moore. In it, William’s death year is revealed as are the circumstances of how he lost his land.

Furthermore, we obtain an actual survey of William’s land, and thereby Lucy’s. William purchased his land from his father James, who bought land from James Spradling. I presumed that Spradling’s land was the same land that William Moore purchased from his father and set out to find the patent.

I found James Spradling’s original patent dated Sept 15, 1765, part of which was conveyed to William’s father, James Moore. Later, 200 acres was conveyed to William Moore in 1798.

Ironically, this same land patented by Spradling was patented in 1762 by Isham Womack. If I have identified the correct Isham Womack, his father is Thomas Womack and mother Mary Farley who lived in Prince Edward County, VA. Thomas’s mother was reported to be Sarah Worsham. These early families from Henrico County were very intermarried. The Womacks, Worshams, Rices and Moores were all interacting in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties.

DNA also tells us that the Womack’s are somehow related to the Moores, and therefore to me, but I have no idea how. At least, not yet.

It’s enough to make a genealogist pull their her out!

Lucy’s Survey

In December 1826, the surveyor drew the following and laid off Lucy Moore’s 50 acres, including the “mansion house,” such as it was. Mansion house meant where the landowner lived, not indicating that it was in fact a mansion. Many of these early frontier mansions were noted as being 10X12 or 12X16.

Lucy Moore William survey.pngLucy Moore Lucy survey.png

Several years ago, cousin Walter Dixon attempted to draw the metes and bounds of these plats and place them on a map of the area.

Lucy Moore Walter drawings.jpg

These parcels were mapped utilizing DeedMapper. I used to own this tool before my laptop was stolen and I’ve now purchased the upgraded version along with the background Halifax County maps.

Yes, for one survey. Genealogists are crazy aren’t we!

DeedMapper

The day DeedMapper arrived, I couldn’t stop myself until I had figured out where William and Lucy’s land was located.

It wasn’t as easy as I anticipated, because I thought surely that once I figured out where James Spradling’s land was located William’s would be a shoo-in because it would be the same land, or part of the same land – fitting like a puzzle piece. I was wrong.

Someone had plotted and contributed the 2 surveys of Charles Spradlen.

I don’t have any way of knowing whether or not these surveys are accurately placed or approximated.

Lucy Moore Spradlin.png

Spradlin owned 2 parcels, this one in purple is 304 acres.

The next one, just beneath is 162 acres and shares property lines with his 304 acre parcel.

Lucy Moore Spradlin 2.png

James Moore bought 238 acres from James Spradling, but he also bought another 800+ acres from other people. He sold land to Edward Henderson (his son-in-law) and to William Moore as well as others. At one time, James probably owned most of this entire area – more than 1000 acres in total.

Lucy Moore William property.png

William Moore’s land was difficult to draw because it meandered on three branches of waterways. The only waterways on the second fork of Birches Creek that matched up with the drawing and the survey are where the purple plot is located. It doesn’t close because the open side is the 3 meanders that you can clearly see. This makes sense, because the leftmost border touches his father’s land and in 1826 is noted as Ferguson’s line.

Lucy Moore Lucy property.png

Lucy’s survey, in purple above, doesn’t close correctly. Old surveys often don’t. In this case, William’s and Lucy’s surveys were written on the same page and I had to correct one of the lines that the surveyor had mistakenly written in one or the other.

Of course, Lucy also owned another 50 acres someplace that abutted William’s land. It may have abutted the portion of William’s land that became hers.

Fortunately, with the underlying Halifax County map, I was able to determine an approximation of where William and Lucy’s land was located today using Google maps.

Lucy Moore Google map.png

Using these two ponds (red arrows at right) and the creek for guidance, I was able to determine the location of the middle red star at left in William’s survey, roughly outlined in green. Lucy’s survey is shown roughly in black. You can see that William’s land includes present-day Henderson Trail which also includes the Henderson Cemetery, long believed to have been the original Moore Cemetery.

Hallelujah!

Here’s Google Maps aerial view.

Lucy Moore aerial.png

The middle red star on William’s green survey, above, is the little grey balloon at left on this aerial view. The cemetery is approximately at the red star. The right red arrow points to the upper pond with the red arrow on the map with the green outline. The green arrow points to Henderson Trail, visible on both maps.

Normally Google Maps doesn’t travel down roads without center lines, let alone dirt roads, and certainly not private 2 tracks.

All I can say is that the Google car must have been lost, because here we stand on Henderson Trail looking directly at Lucy’s land.

Lucy Moore looking at Lucy's land.png

Standing on William’s land.

Lucy Moore William's land.png

How lucky can I be? Below, looking down the trail to the west.

Lucy Moore Henderson Trail.png

Below, looking south across Henderson Trail, you can see the Blue Ridge in the distance to the west.

Lucy Moore south.png

When I visited and stood in this very location, I suspected it might have been James Moore’s land, but I never suspected it was Williams or Lucy’s, nor did I suspect that William owned the land where the original cemetery was located. I thought William’s land was further north, by Mountain Road where the Mount Vernon Baptist Church stands today.

The Good-Bad News

This land is for sale, as in right now.

That’s the good-bad news.

107 acres, outlined in red below, is available at this link where you can see additional photos.

Lucy Moore William's land for sale.png

The bad news is that the land alone is priced out of my range at $365,000, even if it is a great value. There is no existing house or mention of a well or electricity having been run back there.

So maybe it’s good news that it’s out of my price range. I’m confused.

Contrast this to the $200 that Isaac Medley paid in 1826 for William’s entire 174 acres.

This is part of William’s land and before that, James’ land.

Lucy Moore topo lines.png

I suspect that the current day line between the two red arrows is the southwestern line of Lucy’s survey.

Lucy Moore topo map.png

This topographical map clearly shows the land features such as the ridges and valleys carved by the streams. Lucy’s upper left corner must have been near the upper red arrow. Her property was between the arrows and did not extend as far east as the little blue pond

Lucy lived here for more than half a century. She walked these lands. She is probably buried just a few feet away in the woods where I could walk and visit with her, William, her in-laws and her other children that did not marry and move away. Her parents probably lived nearby and are buried here too or within a mile or so if I just knew who they were and where to look.

OMG, do I need to go back to Halifax County and just take a look? Could I even get high speed internet here? Is there a quilt shop anyplace close?

This is killing me!

The Almost-Missed Gift

The part I almost missed was written on the yellowed back of the papers that were folded into a neat little chancery suit packet and filed away for the next 180+ years.

Lucy’s death is recorded here. Given that the dates on this suit are not on the quarter sessions boundaries meaning March, June, September and December, I suspect that the chancery court was held monthly. Therefore, Lucy probably died in either June or July of 1832 which caused the suit to abate.

Lucy Moore death

Given that the survey occurred in December 1826, I’m unclear why this suit was never resolved and the land never conveyed to Lucy.

Given that the suit apparently was never entirely resolved, that left Lucy’s dower land in legal limbo which caused me a big problem trying to track it forward in time.

Lucy’s 2 Parcels of Land

Keep in mind that Lucy owned 2 pieces of property. The 50 acres conveyed to her by Azariah and the 50 acres that she was entitled to based on this survey. Both were located in close proximity, if not adjacent.

On August 26, 1831, James and Lucy Ives sell to Elizabeth Moore 25 aces adjoining Isaac Medley, James Wilson and others for $1. Both sign with marks. Lucy could have actually died by this time, or the family was preparing for her death.

Lucy Moore Medley.png

Note that the furthest north point of Lucy’s survey is described as Wilson’s pine, line or maybe lane, and we know that Isaac Medley did in fact obtain the balance of William’s land.

This deed strongly suggests that one of the women living with Lucy Moore in 1830 was Elizabeth Moore. It’s unclear which 25 acres this is, or how Lucy Moore came to have an interest in this acreage. It could be half of Lucy Moore’s 50 acres from Azariah or half of her 50 acres dower right. But who owned the other 25 acres?

In 1842, Lucy Ives and Elizabeth Moore sell to William Henderson 3.25 acres for $10 adjoining the lines of Henderson and Medley. This deed was witnessed by Edward and Benjamin Ferrell, families found living adjacent in the census. This acreage, added to the 47 acres sold to William Henderson in 1863 by Lucy Ives and Rebecca Slate stated as land where Elizabeth Moore lived would equal either the 50 acres Lucy bought from Azariah or the 50 she obtained from Isaac Medley that was William’s through the chancery suit. I believe that the Henderson land was to the east and south of Lucy’s land, where Henderson Lane is located today.

This only leaves 25 acres of Lucy’s land missing.

On both the 1851 and 1852 tax lists for Halifax County, Elizabeth Moore is shown with her 25 acres on Birches Creek owned in fee, 14 miles SW of the town of Halifax. She is not shown with either 47 or 50 acres. When I was in Halifax County viewing these tax lists, I didn’t realize I should also be looking for names like Ives and Slate. If I were to go back, I would know to look for more. It’s too bad Halifax County is so far away.

The lack of correlation between the deeds and tax lists is frustrating. Perhaps someone else was paying the taxes if Elizabeth was renting it out to be farmed.

A Previously Unknown Child

When I visited Halifax County 15 or 20 years ago and sifted through the chancery suits, they were being prepared to be sent to the Virginia Archives at Richmond. The preparation procedure took months into years, and at that time, the only indexing was by plaintiff and defendant. A very nice man, Lawrence Martin, now deceased, volunteered half a day a week reading and indexing each case and slipping the loose and sometimes scattered papers into manila file folders. As the cases were prepared for scanning in Richmond, additional surnames of people mentioned in the proceedings were added.

Today, using the Virginia Chancery Index, you can enter a surname and view all of the cases that include that surname in the county for a specific date range.

I found Lucy’s suit when I visited, although I nearly ignored it because I didn’t put 2 and 2 together and realize Lucy Moore in the 1830s was William’s wife.

The basement was musty, dusty, humid and hot and I was tired. Photographs were highly discouraged, so I took notes, reams and reams of notes. Today, I would use my phone or a digital camera, but those tools didn’t exist in those days. Unfortunately, my notes didn’t include everything, just what I thought was important at the time.

Thankfully, I reviewed the digital cases at the Library of Virginia because papers had been misfiled and new cases had been unearthed. Lawrence did a huge amount of reconstructing of case files. What a wonderful legacy he left.

The Unknown Suit

One of the most useful cases didn’t include any Moore party as either a plaintiff or defendant, so I had missed it entirely.

In this suit, I discovered a previously unknown child of William and Lucy Moore who gave a deposition in the case Joseph Dunsman vs William Bailey having to do with an outstanding debt involving William Moore.

Prior to reading this suit, I thought that the Lucy Moore who had married James Ives was Lucy Akin Moore, widow of James Moore. James lost his land in 1827 and was absent in the 1830 census. Someone with children was living with Lucy Moore (William’s widow) in 1830 and in 1831 Lucy Moore married James Ives. Subsequently Lucy Ives signed documents involving Lucy Moore. All makes sense, right?

Well, it does make sense, but it just so happens that it’s wrong.

Lucy Akin Moore is not the Lucy Moore who married James Ives.

Lucy Moore gives her first deposition in 1825

The Depositions

Halifax Chancery Suit 1832-034 Joseph Dunman vs William Bailey and Co.

Chancery suits are indexed by the date they completed, not the date they were filed.

The suit was filed on Nov. 30, 1825 and William Moore provided a deposition.

William Moore 1825 affidavit.pngWilliam Moore 1825 affidavit 2.png

Affidavit of William Moore of lawful age to be read into evidence in support of a motion for an injunction…in which Joseph Dunman is plaintiff and William Bailey & Co., defendants.

Sometime in May 1821 the said Moore gave a delivery bond with Jos. Dunman as his surety to William Bailey and Co. conditioned as usual in such bonds for the delivery of certain property therein mentioned. That in the same month and after giving the bond aforesaid he came to William Bailey the acting partner of the firm and after conversing with the said Bailey and shewing him some papers in the said Moore’s possession the said William Bailey said that he would stop all proceedings on the delivery bond aforesaid, as there was little or nothing due to the said firm from the affiant. This affiant also states that the day on which he gave the bond as aforesaid he sent his wife and daughter to the said Bailey on the subject above mentioned and they informed him on their return that the said Bailey told them that the affiant need not trouble himself to bring the property included in the said bond to the day and place appointed for the sale.

William Moore signs and dates November 29, 1825

This deposition and one from Lucy Moore were subsequently objected to because the plaintiffs were not given notification in advance so they could attend and question the person being deposed.

In the file, we find original paperwork from 1821.

Lucy Moore Bailey 1821.png

This order from the Commonwealth of Virginia dated April 27, 1821 to the Halifax County Sheriff orders him to confiscate the property of William Moore and James Moore in order to settle the debt of 38.1.0 to William Bailey plus $6.69 costs.

Lucy Moore Bailey 1821 2.png

Interest was accrued from March 1, 1818 at the rate of 6% per year.

By the time the sheriff’s fees and bond was added, the total was 45.10.0 and was levied against the collateral William had provided.

I wonder if this means that James Moore had nothing, since all property seemed to have been Williams. Was this James’s debt, or William’s?

Lucy Moore Bailey 1821 3.pngLucy Moore Bailey 1821 4.pngLucy Moore Bailey 1821 5.pngLucy Moore Bailey 1821 6.png

William and James Moore asked to retain possession of their property until the day of the sale.

How would this family survive with no horses and no furniture?

Lucy Moore Bailey 1821 7.png

I am unclear whether or not this sale proceeded in 1821. In the case file are statements about what happened at the courthouse the day of the sale and that Bailey has said he was not prosecuting.

I suspect the sale did not occur, because Lucy states that Bailey does nothing for 3 years. Furthermore, in 1822, William Moore deeds to Isaac Medley his 200 acres on Birches Creek to secure a debt. I would have thought this was to pay the above debt, but apparently it was not, because that debt continued. In 1825, this land was auctioned, and Isaac Medley purchased it for $200 – $1 an acre. Today part of that same land is now worth $350,000. William must be rolling over in his grave.

It’s also worth noting here that William’s land only surveyed for 174 acres, not 200. What happened to that 26 acres?

In 1824, William Moore Sr. gives even more property for security, and now the debt is to Isaac Medley for $560.68. The property consists of one wagon and gear, 4 horses, 3 cattle, 12 hogs, 3 feather beds, furniture, 2 bedsteads, all household and kitchen furniture and plantation tools.

If William loses this bet, the gig is over, because that’s literally everything in the house, plus the property itself including the house. What a huge, huge risk. William must have been extremely desperate.

How does an elderly couple even have this discussion? Was William stoic, determined, angry, or a broken, despondent man? What did he say to Lucy?

Another deed follows that was exceedingly difficult to read that states that William Moore sold 50 acres on Birches Creek to William Hartis (maybe Harris?). The land adjoined his own, that of Isaac Medley and William Ferrell, Esq.

This is a vicious circle. You can’t farm without tools and you can’t keep the tools without using the land as collateral. You sell some land, which reduces your ability to earn. I think William was very disabled by this time which is probably how the debt became so overwhelming.

This also causes me to wonder about William Moore’s cause of death. He was old and this was terribly stressful, so this could have hastened a death from natural causes. It could also have prompted him to committ suicide. That’s entirely speculation, but his death did follow shortly after he lost his land. We know he was gone by the end of November in 1826.

1825 Counter-Suit

In 1825 William Moore filed a counter-suit and the entire mess drags on until after both Lucy and William have died. The fact that these 2 suits are so closely related also explains why the suit that Lucy brought against Isaac Medley for the land that was sold to satisfy this debt was never resolved and it too abated upon Lucy’s death in 1832. By this time, I’m sure that everyone was just glad it was over.

Based on the March 1832 date on some of these documents without mention of Lucy being deceased, it’s likely that she died between March and July.

In the case file, testimony is included that states that parties considered William Moore to be in essence bankrupt, unable to pay, the debt being uncollectible years before his death. Even if true, how hurtful this must have been for the minister and his wife to endure at the end of their lives when there was absolutely nothing that could be done.

Nearly 7 years later, on March 12, 1832, Joseph Dunman notifies William Bailey that he is going to depose Edward Henderson and Lucy Ives on Friday the 16th.

Lucy Moore Bailey notice.png

This 1821 notice states that William Moore and James Moore owe William Bailey 58.12.0 which is given in English pounds, plus $6.64 bail for the debt.

This now explains the suit filed in 1825 by William Moore against Bailey that reached back to 1812 for 1306 pounds of tobacco for which Bailey had never paid William Moore his $68.

Given that William Moore did not have a will when he died, perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this suit is the list of his property that he gave as security in order for his land not to be confiscated for this debt.

William Moore 1821 property.png

Levyed on the 15th day of May 1821 on two horses five feather beds and furniture, (bed)steads – the property of William Moore the sale appointed and advertised to be in Halifax Courthouse on the 4th Monday of June 1821. A delivery bond with Joseph Dunham security was taken for the delivery of the property on the day and at the place appointed for the sale on the 4th day of June 1821. The plaintiff by their order stayed all further proceedings. Whereupon the bond aforesaid is forthwith returned to the clerk’s office.

I can feel the level of desperation mounting for both William and Lucy. In 1821, William would have been about 71 years old.

In November 1825 in her deposition, Lucy Moore states that she is of lawful age, so I would take that to mean over age 21, although it could be younger for females. This puts her birth before 1804 which is confirmed by later census documents. Lucy clearly states that William is her father and references her mother, which would have been Lucy Moore, William’s wife. Clearly Lucy the daughter was named for Lucy the mother.

The first time I read this, I thought to myself that perhaps Lucy Akin Moore was using the terms father and mother loosely – although that bugged me. At that time, I thought Lucy Moore in the 1825 deposition would have to have been Lucy Akin Moore. Who else could she have been?

Lucy Moore 1825 deposition.png

Lucy states that:

In May 1821 a sheriff came to William Moore her fathers and was about to seize property to satisfy an execution in favor of William Baily and Company but the said William Moore induced the sheriff to wait and not take his property until he could send down to Major W. Baily whereupon the said Lucy and her mother went down to said Bailey and he informed them to tell this said William Moore to give a bond for any little articles and that he need not trouble himself to deliver the property agreeable to the condition of the said bond, for that there was a hogshead of tobacco that the said Moore had not been paid for as he ought to be and further this affiant saith not.

Lucy then signed with her mark.

Bailey agreed, apparently, that he owed William Moore for the 1812 tobacco.

Lucy’s 1825 affidavit was objected to because no previous notice had been given, so eventually, she provided a second one.

Nearly 7 years later, Lucy is deposed again.

Lucy Moore deposition 1832.png

This time Lucy Moore is being deposed as Lucy Ives at John Herbert’s tavern on March 16, 1832.

This deponent objecting from religious motives to being sworn being first duly and solemnly affirmed according to law saith…

My father William Moore sent my mother down to see William Bailey the sheriff had been to William Moors to seaze property for the debt due William Bailey from my father. I went with my mother. He Bailey said that her father might not put himself to any trouble might give a delivery bond on any little thing and he would stop the suit. He told my mother that he should not loose the hogshead of tobacco.

That comment about her religion is very interesting. I am not aware of Methodists or other religions other than the Amish, Mennonite, Brethren and Quakers being unwilling to swear an oath.

As I read this, I wonder why William sent his wife to see Bailey instead of going himself. We know that William had some sort of issue that caused him to be exempt from taxes, likely a physical disability. Could he not walk or ride? Had he suffered a stroke? Is this why Lucy went instead of William going to see Bailey himself?

Lucy Moore deposition 1832 2.png

Question by plaintiff – Did you or did you not understand from William Bailey that the property to be put into the delivery bond was or was not to delivered by him to be sold at the day of sale or was the matter to be stopped until the credit for the tobacco could be settled?

Answer – I understood a stop was to be put to all and afterwards he waited 3 years before he pushed the matter.

Question by same – Did your father give a delivery bond agreeably to William Bailey’s desire and who as the security?

Answer – He did give the bond and Joseph Dunman was his security.

Question by same – Was William Moore able to pay the debt at that time if William Bailey had endeavored to collect it?

Lucy Moore deposition 1832 3.png

Answer – Yes and double that debt.

Question of the agent to the defendant – Are you not the daughter of William Moore?

Answer – yes

Lucy Ives now signs with her mark again on March 16, 1832.

There’s the answer. Lucy Moore, now Ives, is the daughter of both William and Lucy Moore. Of course, by this time William has been dead since 1826 and Lucy is either dead or dies before July of 1832. William can’t be deposed again and Lucy, his wife, was never deposed at all – although I do have to wonder why. Even if Lucy Moore-the-mother is still alive, she is likely in poor health at roughly 78 years of age.

I do wonder if the financial stress and the stress of these lawsuits contributed to their deaths.

The 1850 Census

In the 1850 census, we find:

  • Elizabeth Moore, age 50, so born in 1800 (I suspect this is actually too young)
  • Lucy Ives age 60, born in 1790
  • Rebecca Ives age 40 born in 1810
  • Ann Ives age 22 born in 1828
  • William Ives age 19 born in 1831.

Elizabeth Moore would be Lucy-wife-of-William’s daughter.

Lucy Ives would be Lucy-wife-of-William’s daughter who married James Ives in 1831. James Ives has apparently died. For a long time, we thought this Lucy was Lucy Akin Moore Ives but based on the deposition, we know that’s not the case.

While Rebecca Ives and Ann Ives were born before Lucy Moore and James Ives were married, it’s not impossible that Lucy Moore Ives had two children before marriage that are in 1850 using her married name. It’s also possible that James Ives had two children from a previous marriage who are now living with Lucy. A third possibility is that these children belong to both Lucy Moore Ives and James Ives and were born before they were married.

In the 1840 census, James Ives is 50-60 living with a female of the same age, with 2 females 30-40, 1 female 20-30, 2 females and 2 males 10-15. It’s impossible to make any inferences except that the female who was age 50-60 was probably Lucy.

This also tells us that Lucy Moore Ives would have married at age 41, so her childbearing years would have been limited.

In the 1830 census, which was before Lucy Moore (the daughter) was married in 1831, in the Lucy-wife-of-William’s household, there were 3 small children, 2 females and a male under the age of 5. Ann Ives could have been that person. Rebecca Ives, whoever she is, could also be the mother of Ann and William Ives. Ives could be a married name for Rebecca.

In 1850, Elizabeth, Lucy and Rebecca lived near the Ingraham, Irby, Womack, Ferguson, Henderson and Anderson families and beside Hawkins Landrum who is noted as a pauper. He was also a preacher.

In 1851, Lucy Moore (wife of William) had been deceased for several years, but in a deed from Isaac and Martha Medley to William Irby, the land is described as “Birches Creek nearly opposite to Vernon Meeting House beginning at Lucy Moore’s corner, Wilson’s corner, Jacob Ferguson corner, same land Isaac Medley purchased of William Moore, decd.” Unfortunately, either I didn’t record the number of acres, or it wasn’t given. Somehow, Isaac had once again come into possession of that land.

Lucy Akin Moore and James Moore

Following James Moore’s loss of land in 1827 for debt, I find no trace of them in any future records. He and Lucy Akin could well have packed up and left Virginia for distant locations. At that time, both Tennessee and Kentucky were prime destinations.

1860 Arrives

In the 1860 census, we find three women living together 10 houses from Raleigh Moore who lived very near the Henderson land at Oak Level.

In the same household:

  • Elizabeth Slate, 50 (born 1810)
  • Lucy Ives, 60 (born 1790)
  • Elizabeth Moore 58 (born 1792)

I know who Elizabeth Moore is and Lucy Ives, but who is Elizabeth Slate?

Two of Lucy’s daughters married Slate men, but the only one who was married prior to 1810 had a daughter Elizabeth in 1825, so the relationship of this Elizabeth Slate to the other two women is unknown, assuming there is a relationship at all. It could simply have been that Elizabeth Slate was a neighbor that needed a place to live, or she was willing to help care for Elizabeth Moore and Lucy Ives who were aging.

There’s one other possibility as well, and that’s that the census name is incorrect and Elizabeth Slate is actually Rebecca Slate, Lucy’s daughter. The birth year is too late in the census too, because Rebecca married in 1825. So I’m not suggesting that Elizabeth Slate is actually Rebecca Moore Slate, but simply saying that in light of Rebecca Slate’s signature 3 years later in 1863, we know she’s in the area, not accounted for in the census and I can’t find any indication of what happened to William Slate or any children.

Multiple Elizabeth Moores Too

In the Halifax County death records, an Elizabeth Moore died in 1861 and another in 1863.

Multiple Elizabeth Moores were living at this time in Halifax County, so I have to be very careful not to intermix their records.

The Elizabeth Moore who died in 1861 appears to be the daughter of Caroline Brooks who married William Moore, son of Thomas Moore, (probable son of Lucy and William Moore,) according to an 1834 deed followed by an 1861 estate inventory for Carolina Brooks. These two Elizabeth Moores lived in close proximity. This William Moore was living when the 1860 census was taken and his wife Elizabeth was born about 1819 and had a 2-year-old child in 1860, along with other children.

The Elizabeth Moore who died in 1863 appears to be our Elizabeth Moore because the estate of Elizabeth Moore was committed to the sheriff with Hawkins Landrum, appointed and confirmed as appraiser. Hawkins was Elizabeth’s neighbor in the 1860 census.

This means that Elizabeth’s land was conveyed by administrator or commissioner, not under her name which makes it almost impossible to track forward in time. Were I to return to Halifax County, I would peruse the deeds for Hawkins Landrum as conveyor, not Elizabeth Moore.

In 1863, Lucy Ives sells to William Henderson 47 acres for $1175 adjoining with Morgan (William) Irby, William Henderson, Clementine Anderson, land where Elizabeth Moore, decd owned and Lucy Morz. (sic) Lucy Ives and Rebecca Slate sign with their marks.

In 1864, Lucy Ives purchased items at the estate sale of Elizabeth Moore and in 1865, Samuel P. Watkins confirmed the account for the estate of Elizabeth Moore which was continued into 1866. I would love to have those papers! I wonder if Samuel Watkins conveyed her property.

Unfortunately, when visiting Halifax County, I failed to copy the estate inventory of Elizabeth Moore, if it exists. Much of Elizabeth’s belongings probably belonged to her mother, Lucy since it appears that Elizabeth retained the land and house for another 31 years after Lucy’s death.

Confusion

Unfortunately, there are missing pieces to this puzzle that don’t make sense.

We know that three of Lucy’s children were involved with her land, all 3 being daughters, but these weren’t Lucy’s only children or her only daughters. These may have been the children that Lucy felt would never marry and needed to be provided for. But Rebecca Slate did marry several years before Lucy died.

If some children maintained an ownership interest in Lucy’s land, why didn’t others, especially since Lucy apparently died intestate?

Even using the benefit of the doubt situation, saying that Thomas wasn’t Lucy’s son, but her husband’s brother, we still know of several other children.

We first find Lucy in the records in 1786 witnessing a deed. Based on the number of and ages of the children, assuming that Lucy was William’s only wife, they had to be married by 1772/1775 to have the number of children that were born.

We know that Azariah who was born about 1783 sold land directly to Lucy, so was likely her son.

We know that Nancy, born about 1785, named a daughter Lucy, so she too was undoubtedly her daughter.

Children

The known children of Rev. William and Lucy Moore in rough birth order are listed below, with the daughters who maintained an interest in her land bolded.

Lucy’s signature appears on some of the marriage bonds, a very unusual gift from the past. At least, we think it’s Lucy, not her daughter’s signature. Lucy the daughter signed with a mark. We’re assuming that Lucy Moore’s signature was actually her signature and not signed by someone else.

  • Thomas Moore (speculative child) was born between 1771 and 1777, taken from the 1792 personal tax data. This is probably the Thomas who married Polly Baker in 1798 given that his granddaughter’s middle name is Baker. Thomas died in 1801 leaving orphans Rawley and William who were bound by the overseers of the poor to Anderson Moore who had also come from Prince Edward County and bought land from Nimrod Ferguson near James and William Moore. However, the Y DNA of one of Anderson’s Moore descendants doesn’t match the James/William Moore line DNA, but Raleigh Moore’s does. In the 1840 census, Raleigh Moore is living beside Edward Henderson. If Thomas is not Lucy’s son, he is her brother-in-law. The fact that Thomas’s children were bound to Anderson Moore raises the question of why, especially since William Moore lived across the road, and if/how Anderson was related. William Moore was apparently disabled by this time.
  • Mary Moore (speculative child) born in 1775, found in 1850 census living with William B. Moore (the orphan of Thomas Moore and brother to Raleigh Moore). One Mary Moore signed Rebecca Moore’s marriage license in 1825 along with Lucy. Since there is no marriage record for Mary Moore, nor did she appear to have shared in her mother’s estate, she may have died before her mother’s land was sold. It’s also possible that the Mary living in 1850 is not the Mary who signed Rebecca’s marriage license in 1825. We do know that Mary is somehow connected due to the marriage document she witnessed.
  • Azariah Moore was born in 1783 or before and served in the War of 1812, dying in 1866. Letitia described him at the time of his enlistment as 5 feet 10 inches, nearly black hair, blue eyes and a red complexion. His occupation was deputy sheriff. He married Letitia Johnson in 1818 in Pittsylvania County, having four daughters and two sons. Letitia’s father left her money but stipulated that Azariah couldn’t touch it, nor could it be used to pay his debts. Letitia’s widows pension application was rejected, saying Azariah was not on the roles of Capt. Faulkner’s regiment.
  • William Moore (Jr.), born 1775-1785, moved to Pittsylvania County before 1815 and had business dealings with his brother, Azariah. William probably married Sarah (or Sally) and had at least 2 sons and 3 daughters. By 1850 William had died, but his wife Sarah was shown as age 64 (born 1786) along with Nancy Jenkins age 36 (born about 1814), Sarah Jenkins age 11 (born about 1839) and a son William Moore born about 1820, age 30.
  • Nancy “Ann” Moore born about 1785 married John R. Estes on November 25, 1811 and moved to Claiborne Co., TN by 1820 where she died between 1860-1870. She had 4 sons and 5 daughters, all but one living to adulthood.
  • James Moore born about 1785 married Lucy Akin in 1817, lived beside Edward Henderson in the 1820 census and was absent from the 1830 census. In 1827 James lost his land to debt to Isaac Medley, the same man who purchased William Moore’s land. There is mention of a James Moore in the 1830s pertaining to the chancery suit involving William Moore’s debt, but nothing more is known about James.
  • Kitty Moore born about 1788 married Francis Slate in 1805. Her father wrote a note giving permission and her two brothers both signed as her bond, indicating they are both 21 or over. Kitty and Francis are living in Surry Co., NC in 1850. They have son Archibald who is 35 and noted as an invalid, Rabecca (sic) 33 and Elizabeth 25.
  • Elizabeth Moore who depending on the census was born either in 1792 or in 1800. She apparently winds up with her mother’s land and never marries. Elizabeth died in 1863.
  • Lucy Moore born about 1790, married James Ives in 1831. Given that she would have been 41 at the time, it’s unknown whether she had William Ives with James Ives or whether William was someone else’s child. Lucy apparently died between the 1860 and 1870 census.
  • Jane Moore born 1800 or earlier married James Blackstock in 1823. I cannot find this couple in 1830, but in 1840 one James Blackstock was living in Halifax County, age 50-60, female age 40-50 (born 1790-1800), with 2 male children, ages 10-15 and 15-20. In 1850, James Blackstock age 68 (born 1782) lived beside William Henderson, wife Jane 53, so born in 1797, son James L. Blackstock age 21. By 1860, neither James nor Jane are shown in the census, and their son James is married with a family. However, in 1870 James Blackstock, age 88, is living alone beside John Blackstock, age 49, probably his son. It appears that Jane probably didn’t have female children.

William Moore 1823 signature Jane Moore to James Blackstock

Interestingly enough, both Rebecca Moore and Lucy Moore sign Jane’s marriage document, in addition to William Moore.

My original assumption was that the Lucy who signed was Jane’s mother, but that might not be the case. Jane’s sister Lucy was born in 1790, so would have been 33 in 1823 when Jane married – clearly old enough to sign as a witness.

Lucy, the daughter, signs with her mark in the 1825 and 1832 depositions, and this document is signed by Lucy, suggesting that this was signed by Lucy the mother.

  • Rebecca Moore born 1800 or earlier married William G. Slayte (Slate) in 1825. I can’t find this couple after their marriage but in the 1850 census, there is a Rebecca Sleet, age 62 (born in 1788) living with John P. Sleet and family in Orange County, VA. In the household is a child by the name of Lucy J. Sleet and Rebecca M. Sleet. In 1863, Rebecca Slate signs a deed selling her mother’s land. One tree on Ancestry shows a William Slate born to William G. in 1833 in Pittsylvania County, died 1896 in Halifax, married a Lucy Jordan and had 4 children. This William is shown on the census to be a minister.

William Moore 1825 signature Rebecca Moore to William Slayte

Lucy Moore signs this document too, as does Mary Moore. This document causes me to suspect Mary Moore is another daughter that never married.

Possible Children

Possible additional children of Lucy Moore are the 3 individuals below.

  • Lemuel born before 1791, perhaps as early as 1770-1780, appears in 1812 on the Halifax County tax list and in an 1825 debt suit filed against him. Then we find Lemuel in 1830 in Grainger Co. TN beside Mastin Moore, known to be a grandson of William’s brother. Sometimes Lemuel is written as Samuel. Furthermore, a Lemuel Moore married Anna Stubblefield in 1804 in Grainger County and died in 1859 in Laurel County, Kentucky. In 1797, Lemuel Moore is found in Greene County, TN beside Rice Moore, William Moore’s brother. There are clearly two Lemuel Moores. I suspect one is William’s brother and one is William’s son. I have DNA matches through 3 of Lemuel’s children at what would be (1) 4C1R, (2) 5C and (4) 5C1R if the Lemuel in Laurel County, KY is indeed William’s son. If that Lemuel is more distantly related, the relationships would be more distant. The connection could also be through the Stubblefield line, which may be connected through either William’s wife, Lucy, or William Moore’s parents.
  • Isaac born in 1793 or before, assigned as a road hand in 1814 with James Moore and Samuel (Lemuel?). Nothing more.
  • Israel born in 1791 or earlier, appears 1 time on the tax list in 1812 the same day as William. Nothing more.

Of the above, I strongly suspect one of the two Lemuels is William’s son. The other possibly his brother. There is no record of what happened to Isaac or Israel.

Mitochondrial DNA

I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Lucy Moore through all females to the current generation, which can be male. Lucy’s daughters who had or might have had daughters are listed below

Nancy “Ann” Moore who married John R. Estes and moved to Claiborne County, TN.

Nancy had the following daughters who had children who could have passed Lucy’s mitochondrial DNA to the current generation.

  • Lucy Estes (1812-1886) born in Claiborne County, TN and died in Waubaunsee Co., Kansas, married Coleman Rush and had 2 daughters. Only one daughter, Lucy Rush who married William Bell had any females who had females who have living descendants today that represent Lucy Moore’s mitochondrial line. Lucy Rush had daughters:
  • Temperance Estes born about 1817 or 1818 married Adam Clouse in Claiborne County. They had 9 children including 6 daughters:
    • Ann J. Clouse born in 1841 but I find no record of her marrying or having children.
    • Mary Mollie Clouse born 1842 married Amos Hutchens, died in Bourbon Co., KY in 1918 and had two daughters, Rosetta Hutchens and Mary Hutchens who both had daughters as well.
    • Jemima Clouse who was born about 1844 and about whom nothing more is known.
    • Sarah J. Clouse born about 1849 and about whom nothing more is known.
    • Louisiana Clouse born about 1856 and about whom nothing more is known.
    • Elizabeth Clouse born in 1858 and who may have married Robert F. Cook in 1882. If she had daughters, they would carry Lucy’s mitochondrial DNA.
  • Nancy Estes (1820-1890) married Nathaniel Wilburn Hooper and had two daughters
    • Mary Hooper born in 1853, nothing further known.
    • Malinda Hooper born in 1855, nothing further is known.
  • Mary Estes, born about 1830 and died before 1864 in Jackson, KY married William Hurst and had 3 daughters. The only daughter known to marry is:
    • Rebecca Hurst (1855-1899) Madison Co., KY who married Silas Charles Harding and had daughters, Mary Harding (b 1874), Julia Harding (b 1875), Martha Margaret Harding (1883-1980), Josie Harding (1892-1981), Rebecca Harding born 1899 and Bessie Harding (1900-1989) who married Elmer Baker. It’s not known if any of these daughters had daughters.

Kitty Moore married Francis Slate and lived in Surry Co., NC. In 1860, Kitty appears to be deceased, but we find Frank Slate, age 92 in Stokes County, NC, with:

  • Rebecca Slate age 46, Mary Slate age 13, Lucy Slate age 8 and Kitty Slate age 1. If these daughters are the children of Rebecca Slate, they are likely Lucy’s grandchildren, assuming Rebecca is the daughter of Kitty Moore and Francis Slate and not a daughter-in-law.

Brenda, who descends from this Slate line shows Kitty and Francis’s children to be: John (1809-1970), Azariah (1810-1850), Archibald (1812-1900), William Harrison (1815-1860), Mary Rebecca (1817-?), Peterson James (1820-1875), Isham James (1823-?), Elizabeth (1825-?), Sarah (1825-1869) along with Jeremiah, Robert and Matilda with no dates. No spouses are given for any of the females.

Autosomal DNA

I look at these segments, painted to John R. Estes and Nancy Ann Moore, Lucy’s daughter, and I know some of them descend to me today from Lucy. Hopefully, one day, these segments will help me determine the identity of Lucy’s parents.

Lucy Moore DNAPainter.png

What I can say is that I’ve identified the segments on chromosome 6 as belonging to James Moore and Mary Rice, so they did not descend from Lucy. The rest all come from John Estes or Nancy Moore. If they came from Nancy, then some probably descended from Lucy.

There are secrets yet to be revealed.

Summary

Lucy’s life was a real challenge to unravel. After discovering her first name, it appeared that the only thing we would ever know about Lucy was her name from deeds. Based on what we know about her husband and children, Lucy’s life must have been exceedingly difficult.

For the beginning of her married life, Lucy raised children and farmed while William was absent circuit riding and ministering. That continued until at least 1796 or 1797 when something happened to William to disable him.

I can’t help but wonder if a horse threw him while he was riding. Of course, any number of things could have happened, none of them good. Lucy would have been about 43 when William’s disability occurred. Lucy was still having children at that time and may have had another child, or two. Regardless, Lucy was left in a situation where she had a houseful of stairstep children to raise and a disabled husband.

Beginning in 1793 and 1794, a schism embroiled the Methodist religion, and drama ensued on that front as well. William left the Methodist church and founded a new religion. I can’t help but wonder if that didn’t have something to do with why Lucy and William bought the land where the meeting house stood in 1797, and perhaps had something to do with why they sold it in 1801. For some reason, the meeting house was not included in the deed either time. Why did Ransom Day want to retain the “Moore Meeting House?” How long had William been preaching there? Perhaps as long as the family had been in Halifax County. We know he began preaching before 1775. Did he stop preaching there because of the schism?

We can rest assured that Lucy was in that Meeting House probably almost as much as she was in her own house.

In 1803, William founded what is today the Pleasant Grove United Church of Christ a few miles down the road with another minister, part of a new religion, an offshoot of Methodism called “Just Plain Christian” and then “The Christian Church.”

William’s financial difficulties began during this period of religious dissention and increased until the end of his life 30 years later. It seemed like one thing after another went wrong.

In 1798, their (probable) son Thomas married, but was dead by 1801, orphaning two young sons, Raleigh and William Moore. Those children were bound out to the neighbor, Anderson Moore.

About this same time, William and Lucy sold the 100 acres of land where the Meeting House stood that they had only owned for 4 years. I’d guess they needed money based on the fact that William was disabled for some reason, but there could also have been some religious pressure as well.

William’s tobacco in 1812 was sold to a warehouse that didn’t credit the sale, went bankrupt and was sold. The new owner didn’t credit the sale either. This dispute would never be unraveled in William’s lifetime and this seemed to snowball into further debt.

Two of Lucy and William’s sons, William and Azariah, were in financial trouble in 1812 too.

The War of 1812 descended upon the family, and son Azariah (reportedly) served as did their new son-in-law John R. Estes.

We know that William could still travel, at least somewhat, because he was just across the border marrying a couple in 1817 for which he was paid a dollar. He provided a deposition in 1819 when the couple wanted to divorce what was rather uncomplimentary in nature.

By 1820, John R. Estes with their daughter, Nancy, had departed for Claiborne County, Tennessee, next door to Grainger County where William Moore’s brothers and also possibly his son, Lemuel, lived already. Lucy would never see Nancy or her grandchildren again. That had to be one heartbreaking day, watching the wagon leave, disappearing into a dot in the distance, with Nancy, age 35 or so and between 5 and 7 grandchildren ranging in age from 7 or 8 to newborn, depending on when they left, exactly.

Were those children waving out the back of the wagon in tears, or did they not realize they would never see their grandmother again? And what about Nancy? She surely understood.

In 1821 and 1822, William’s financial pressures increased, with him signing his land over and eventually, all of his personal property as collateral for debt.

Son James was also embroiled in this transaction.

In 1825, William filed a countersuit regarding the tobacco sale and gave a deposition.

In 1826, Lucy bought land from her son, Azariah.

In 1826, William lost his land and everything else, including their beds, in a protracted series of painful lawsuits, and subsequently died.

Throughout all of this, Lucy was a silent partner. Normally, an elderly widow would fade into oblivion, especially under these circumstances, but that’s not what Lucy did.

Lucy took stock of the situation and did what my Dad referred to as, “pulling herself up by her bootstraps,” taking charge of the situation.

Lucy’s husband William had never obtained her permission by way of a signature when he pledged the land for collateral. He lost the land to Isaac Medley, but Lucy regained her full one-third share by filing a lawsuit a few days after Thanksgiving the year that William died. Clearly, Isaac wasn’t counting on that.

That lawsuit in addition to other chancery suits provide us with incredible insight into Lucy’s life, previously unknown children, and by inference, details about Lucy herself.

Lucy was a silent partner for just so long. When William died, Lucy clearly knew what needed to be done, and did it, regaining her portion of the land. It may have been a “good ole’ boys” network, with deeds being signed in candle-lit taverns, but Lucy was not going to suffer the consequences of being overlooked in subdued, complacent, subjective silence.

Lucy’s estate at her death in 1832 consisted of 100 acres of land that she left, one way or another, to her daughters, based on later sales. Not bad for a minister’s wife who had to save her egg money to purchase 50 acres from her son in her own name 6 years earlier at 72 years of age.

Lucy’s life-long can-do attitude, her perseverance in the face of unbelievable adversity and her bravery remain inspirational today, 187 years after her death.

Lucy,  this t-shirt is ode to you from your 4 times great-granddaughter!

Lucy Moore tshirt.png

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

DNA Results – First Glances at Ethnicity and Matching!

People who have worked with genetic genealogy for a long time often forget what it’s like to be a new person taking a DNA test.

Recently, someone asked me what a tester actually sees after they take a DNA test and their results are ready. Good question, especially for someone trying to decide what might work for them.

I’m going to make this answer very simple. For each of the 4 major vendors, I’m going to show what a customer sees when they first sign in and view their results. Not everything or every tool, just their main page along with the initial matching and ethnicity pages.

Please feel free to share this article with people who are new and might be interested. It’s easy to follow along.

I do want to stress that this is just the beginning, not the end game and that every vendor has much more to offer if you take advantage of their tools.

Best of all, it’s so much FUN to learn about your heritage and your ancestry, plus meeting cousins and family members you may not have known that you had.

I’ve been gifted with photos of my grandparents and great-grandparents that I had no idea existed before meeting new family members.

I hope that all the new testers will become excited and that their results are just a tiny first step!

The Vendors

I’m going to take a look at:

Each vendor offers DNA matching to others in their database, plus ethnicity estimates. Yes, ethnicity is only an estimate.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA was the first and still the only genetic genealogy testing company to offer a full range of DNA testing products, launching in the year 2000. Today they stand out as the “science company,” offering both Y and mitochondrial DNA testing in addition to their Family Finder test which is comparable with the tests offered by Ancestry, 23andMe and MyHeritage.

Your personal page at Family Tree DNA shows the following tools for the Family Finder test.

Glances Family Tree DNA home

The two options we’ll look at today are your Matches and myOrigins, which is your ethnicity estimate.

Click on Matches to view whose DNA matches you. In my case, on the page below, you can see that I have a total of 4610 matches, of which 986 have been assigned to my paternal side, 842 to my maternal side, and 4 to both sides. In my case, the 4 assigned to both sides are my children and grandchildren, which makes perfect sense,

Glances Family Tree DNA matches

You can click to enlarge this graphic.

The green box above the matches indicates additional tools which provide information such as who I match in common with another person. I can see, for example, who I match in common with a first cousin which is very helpful in determining which ancestor those matches are related through.

The red box and circle show information provided to me about each match.

Family Tree DNA is able to divide my matches into “Maternal,” “Paternal” and “Both” buckets because they encourage me to link DNA matches on my tree. This means that I connect my mother to her location on my tree so that Family Tree DNA knows that people that match Mother and me both are related on my mother’s side of the tree.

Your matches don’t have to be your parents for linking to work. The more people you link, the more matches Family Tree DNA can put into buckets for you, especially if your parents aren’t available to test. Plus, your aunts and uncles inherited parts of your grandparent’s DNA that your parents didn’t, so they are super important!

Figuring out which side your matches come from, and which ancestor is first step in genetic genealogy!

You can see, above, that my mother is “assigned” on my maternal side and my son matches me on both.

“Bucketing” is a great, innovative feature. But there’s more.

The tan rounded rectangle includes ancestral surnames, with the ones that you and your match have in common shown in bold.

Based on the amount of DNA that I share with a match, and other scientific calculations, a relationship range is calculated, with the linked relationship reflecting where I’ve put that person on my tree.

If your match has uploaded or created a tree, you can view their tree (if they share) by clicking on the little blue pedigree icon, above, circled in tan between the two arrows.

Glances Family Tree DNA tree

Here’s my tree with my family members who have DNA tested attached in the proper places in my tree. Of course, there are a lot more connected people that I’m not showing in this view.

Advanced features include tools like a matching matrix and a chromosome browser where you can view the segments that actually match.

Family Tree DNA Ethnicity

To view your ethnicity estimate, click on myOrigins and you’ll see the following, along with people you match in the various regions if they have given permission for that information to be shared with their matches:

Glances Family Tree DNA myOrigins

MyHeritage

MyHeritage has penetrated the European market quite well, so if your ancestors are from the US or Europe, MyHeritage is a wonderful resource. They offer both DNA testing and records via subscription, combining genetic matches and genealogical records into a powerful tool.

Glances MyHeritage home

At MyHeritage, when you sign in, the DNA tab is at the top.

Clicking on DNA Matches shows you the following match list:

Glances MyHeritage matches

To review all of the information provided for each match, meaning who they match in common with you, their ancestral surnames, their tree and matching details, you’ll click on “Review DNA Match.”

MyHeritage provides a special tool called Theories of Family Relativity which connects you with others and your common ancestors. In essence, MyHeritage uses DNA, trees and records to weave together at least some of your family lines, quite accurately.

Here’s a simple example where MyHeritage has figured out that one of the testers is my niece and has drawn our connection for us.

Theory match 2

Theories of Family Relativity is a recently released world-class tool, easy to use but can solve very complex problems. I wrote about it here.

Advanced DNA tools include a chromosome browser and triangulation, a feature which shows you when three people match on a common segment, indicating genetically that you all 3 share a common ancestor from whom you inherited that common piece of DNA.

MyHeritage Ethnicity

To view your ethnicity estimate at MyHeritage, simply click on Ethnicity Estimate on the menu.

Glances MyHeritage ethnicity.png

23andMe

23andMe is better known for their health offering, although they were the first commercial company to offer autosomal commercial testing. However, they don’t support trees, which for genealogists are essential. Furthermore, they limit the number of your matches to your 2000 closest matches, but if some of those people don’t choose to be included in matching, they are subtracted from your 2000 total allowed. Due to this, I have only 1501 matches, far fewer matches at 23andMe than at any of the other vendors.

Glances 23andMe home

At 23andMe when you sign on, under the Ancestry tab you’ll see DNA Relatives which are your matches and Ancestry Composition which is your ethnicity estimate.

Glances 23andMe matches

While you don’t see all of the information on this primary DNA page that you do with the other vendors, with the unfortunate exception of trees, it’s there, just not on the initial display.

23andMe also provides some advanced tools such as a chromosome browser and triangulation.

23andMe Ethnicity

What 23andMe does exceptionally well is ethnicity estimates.

To view your ethnicity at 23andMe, click on Ancestry Composition.

Glances 23andMe ethnicity

23andMe refines your ethnicity estimates if your parents have tested and shows you a composite of your ethnicity with your matches. However, I consider their ethnicity painting of your chromosomes to be their best feature.

Glances 23andMe chromosome painting

You can see, in my case, the two Native American segments on chromosomes 1 and 2, subsequently proven to be accurate via documentation along with Y and mitochondrial DNA tests at Family Tree DNA. The two chromosomes shown don’t equate necessarily to maternal and paternal.

I can download this information into a spreadsheet, meaning that I can then compare matches at other companies to these ethnicity segments on my mother’s side. If my matches share these segments, they too descend from our common Native American ancestor. How cool is that!!!

Ancestry

Ancestry’s claim to fame is that they have the largest DNA database for autosomal results. Because of that, you’ll have more matches at Ancestry, but if you’re a genealogist or someone seeking an unknown family member, the match you NEED might just be found in one of the other databases, so don’t assume you can simply test at one company and find everything you need.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Glances Ancestry home

At Ancestry, when you sign on, you’ll see the DNA tab. Click on DNA Story.

Glances Ancestry DNA tab

Scrolling past some advertising, you’ll see DNA Story, which is your Ethnicity Estimate and DNA Matches.

ThruLines, at right, is a tool similar to MyHeritage’s Theories of Family Relativity, but not nearly as accurate. However, Thrulines are better than they were when first released in February. I wrote about ThruLines here.

Glances Ancestry matches

Clicking on DNA Matches shows me information about my matches, in red, their trees or lack thereof in green, and information I can enter including ways to group my matches, in tan.

One of Ancestry’s best features is the green leaf, at the bottom in the green box, accompanied by the smiley face (that I added.) That means that this match’s tree indicates that we have a common ancestor. However, the smiley face is immediately followed by the sad face when I noticed the little lock, which means their tree is private and they aren’t sharing it with me.

If DNA testers forget and don’t connect their tree to their DNA results, you’ll see “unlinked tree.”

Like other vendors, Ancestry offers other tools as well, including the ability to define your own colored tags. You can see that I’ve tagged the matches at far right in the gold box with the little colored dots. I was able to define those dots and they have meanings such as common ancestor identified, messaged, etc.

Ancestry Ethnicity

To view your ethnicity estimate, click on “View Your DNA Story.”

Glances Ancestry ethnicity

You’ll see your ethnicity estimate and communities of matches that Ancestry has defined. By clicking on the community, you can see the ancestors in your tree that plot on the map into that community, along with a timeline. Seeing a community doesn’t necessarily mean your ancestor lived there, but that you match a group of people who are from that community.

Sharing Information

You might be thinking to yourself that it would be a lot easier if you could just test at one vendor and share the results in the other databases. Sometimes you can.

There is a central open repository at GedMatch, but clearly not everyone uploads there, so you still need to be in the various vendors’ data bases. GedMatch doesn’t offer testing, but offers additional tools, flexibility and open access not provided by the testing vendors.

Of these four vendors, Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage accept transferred files from other vendors, while Ancestry and 23andMe do not.

Transferring

If you’re interested in transferring, meaning downloading your results from one vendor and uploading to another, I wrote a series of how-to transfer articles here:

Enjoy your new matches and have fun!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the 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

Exploring Family Trees Website, Including Average DNA Percent Inheritance by Ancestor

Sometimes you just have to do something just because it’s fun.

That’s the website learnforeverlearn at this link, a free tool created by B. F. Lyon visualizations that allows you to view your family tree or pedigree chart in very novel ways.

Here’s what greets you.

learnforever splash

The “About This” link at the very top of the page shows the following:

learnforever about

In case you’re wondering, your Gedcom file never leaves your PC, so you don’t need to worry about security.

Getting Started

First, you’ll be prompted to upload a Gedcom file, a file generated by either your genealogy software like RootsMagic or a site like Ancestry. If you have a tree at Ancestry, you can download it into a Gedcom file format and save on your computer.

My own personal Gedcom file from my PC software was too large, so I downloaded a smaller file that I use on Ancestry. I’ve entered all of my ancestors at Ancestry through 12 generations, if known, and some of their children. I use my Ancestry file to focus on direct line ancestors and DNA matches, not as my primary tree.

The first thing you see after uploading your Gedcom file is that your pedigree chart is displayed in one tree. If you want to see examples before uploading your own, click here, or view mine below. You can click to see a larger image.

learnforever ancestors

What fun! If you’ve experienced pedigree collapse where you are descended from the same ancestral line multiple times, you’ll see that in this large pedigree map. I don’t have pedigree collapse, but you take a look at fun examples under “Sample Trees.”

If you want to see more detail, just scroll your mouse wheel for larger or smaller. If you get yourself lost, simply reset pan/zoom or reset to the root person.

You can’t “hurt” this application because you reload your file every time you want to use it, so you can always just start over.

Your options are at the top, but by mousing over anything on the page, you can generally learn a lot more. Every time I use this tool, I notice something I didn’t see previously.

learnforever toolbar

Let’s take a look at what you can do.

Who’s Who

I currently have 793 individuals in my tree. By clicking on the “Current Tree Details” at the top of the page, you can see the list of who is included.

learnforever tree detail

This is an easy way to see if you have any issues in your file. I quickly discovered that I have two people with typos in their birth dates because the years have 3 digits. How did that happen?

Validation Check

You can also run a data validation check.

learnforever data validation

What a valuable tool!

Hmmm, looks like I need to do some cleanup. Ahem!!

The X Chromosome

At the top right, you can click on “Highlight X DNA Contributions” which creates a view of the people who contributed or are candidates to contribute segments of their X chromosome to the home person. Remember that you can change the home (root) person to someone else in your tree, like maybe one of your parents, for example.

The X is important because it has unique inheritance properties that can be very helpful that I wrote about here.

learnforever x contributions

I moused over the various people and discovered that when you “land” on someone, you can view their information. In this case, my great-grandmother who, on average, contributed 12.5% of her DNA to me and 25% of her X chromosome.

learnforever ancestor contribution

I can then view Evaline’s ancestor or descendant tree, or a straight path to the root, which is me, by clicking the blue buttons.

learnforever ancestor tree

Years

learnforever years

By scrolling your mouse up and down between people, you can see a horizontal black “line” that shows you a year. By following the line, you can see who in your tree was living during that year.

learnforever living years

Gosh this is fun!

History

By mousing over the green year bar at far right, you can see what was going on historically at that time, as well as in your own family.

learnforever history

I love this tool!

Locations

Under the options tab, at upper left, by toggling the flag icon, you can then view your tree by birth location.

learnforever options

I love this view.

learnforever flags

You can view the migration progression by just looking at your tree.

Scroll on down the options tab for more display possibilities.

Possible Immigrants

learnforever possible immigrants

Ancestor Information

learnforever statistics

In my case, the “number of children” information isn’t accurate because I have not fleshed out the families at Ancestry. I was only working primarily with my direct ancestors.

Unique Birthplaces

learnforever birthplaces

I’ve combined unique birthplaces with potential immigrants.

Ancestor Cone

learnforever ancestor cone

By mousing, you can see how many ancestors you had at a particular time and the total world population.

learnforever ancestors vs world population

Wow. In 1615, I had 16,384 ancestors? I need to get busy! I am never going to be finished!

Just when you think you can’t have any more fun…

You can read more about this tool and ways to use it in an article written by the author here.

Thank You

I don’t know B. F. Lyon who created this cool free website, but under the options tab, I found this:

Want more options/features? Let me know at bradflyon@gmail.com

Please drop Brad a note to say thank you or offer suggestions!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some (but not all) 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

DNA Testing the Recently Deceased

No one really want to think about this, but it happens.

You’ve always meant to DNA test someone, and they’ve agreed, but either you didn’t order the kit, or the kit is far away from where they passed away.

What can you do?

Take heart, all is not lost. You have two options.

Swabbing the dead

Swabbing the Deceased

Some funeral homes work with companies for DNA preservation and other services, but these services do not provide you with genealogy results from any of the major vendors and are processed by the lab associated with the company whose kit the funeral home is selling.

For genealogy, you have two options.

  1. Call Family Tree DNA (713-868-1438 9-5 CST) and have them overnight you a swab kit. The funeral director can swab the inside of their cheek and generally, funeral directors do a great job. You may want to ask for extra vials to be included in the overnight package, just in case. This is your last (and only) chance.
  2. If you don’t have time or aren’t in a location where you can receive an overnight delivery, purchase an Identigene paternity test kit at any CVS or similar drugstore. That kit will cost you about $27 for the kit alone, but the kit contains sterile swabs and a sterile pouch for inserting the swabs after swabbing the inside of the cheek. DO NOT SEND THE SWABS TO IDENTIGENE. Instead, call Family Tree DNA and explain that you are sending the Identigene swabs to their lab for processing. They will provide you with instructions and you must obtain approval before sending non-standard swabs for processing.

Caveats and Alternatives

  • Cheek swabbing must occur before embalming because embalming fluid interferes with DNA processing, per Dr. Connie Bormans, lab director at GenebyGene.
  • Per my friendly mortician, if you’re desperate and embalming has occurred, another area where some have achieved swabbing success is the crease behind the ear lobe where skin cells tend to become trapped if the body has not already been cleaned in that area. At this point, you have nothing to lose by trying.
  • Please note that sometimes “overnight” is not actually overnight. I attempted to overnight something across the Memorial Day weekend and “overnight” in that case was actually Friday to Tuesday for all carriers. If you are in a pickle, be aware of delivery constraints surrounding weekends, holidays and perhaps a very remote location.

Ordering

After the kit is returned to Family Tree DNA for processing, you can order the regular suite of tests. I would suggest that you order all the tests you actually want initially, because the quantity and/or quality of the DNA sample may be questionable.

In other words, later upgrades may not be successful. I had that situation occur with my aunt’s mitochondrial DNA test results. The initial mtPlus test was successful, but her sample could not be upgraded to either the mitochondrial full sequence or Family Finder.

Three Data Bases in One Test

While you can’t obtain a spit sample from a deceased person for other autosomal tests, you can transfer the person’s autosomal DNA results to both GedMatch and MyHeritage for additional matching after processing.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in this difficult situation, but if you do, you have options.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some (but not all) 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

MyHeritage Expands DNA Testing to Include (Optional) Health Information

Recently, I received news that MyHeritage is now offering a DNA test for genealogy that can also be utilized to obtain health information. I had some questions about the service and reached out to MyHeritage, so after I share their announcement, I’ll provide the information I received from MyHeritage.

The MyHeritage Health service is different from the services currently provided by either 23andMe or, individually, Promethease, by uploading your file.

MyHeritage Health and Ancestry.png

The text of the MyHeritage announcement e-mail follows below:

The new test provides comprehensive health reports that can empower future health and lifestyle choices. It is a superset of the current MyHeritage DNA test and includes its pillar features: a percentage breakdown of ethnic origins and matching to relatives through shared DNA. MyHeritage is now the only global consumer DNA company to offer an extensive health and ancestry product in dozens of languages. The two tests will be offered on our website side by side.

The new test provides health reports that show users their risk of developing or carrying genetic conditions. Reports include conditions where single genes contribute to the risk, such as hereditary breast cancer, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and late-onset Parkinson’s disease; conditions associated with multiple genes, such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes; and carrier status reports on conditions that can be passed down from a couple to their children, such as Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis.

Learn more about the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test by reading the press release and the blog post.

For an overview of the new test, you are invited to view the “About MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry Test” video. This video has a separate version for US users.

The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry kit is available at the price of $199 + shipping on the MyHeritage DNA website. Users who have already purchased the genealogical (ancestry-only) MyHeritage DNA test can upgrade to receive health reports for $120. The new health kit is available globally except in a few countries that do not allow health-related consumer genetic testing.

Privacy is our top priority. All health data is protected by state-of-the-art encryption. Health report data is secured using additional password protection and is so secure that even MyHeritage employees cannot access it. MyHeritage has never licensed or sold user data, and has committed to never do so without explicit user consent. MyHeritage is the only consumer DNA company that has pledged to never sell data to insurance companies. It also applies a strict policy to prohibit the use of its DNA services by law enforcement agencies.

There’s more detail in the MyHeritage press release:

In total, MyHeritage’s Health+Ancestry test covers one of the most extensive ranges of conditions offered by an at-home DNA test: 11 Genetic Risk Reports, including a hereditary breast cancer (BRCA) report that tests 10 pathogenic variants; 3 Polygenic Risk Reports; and 15 Carrier Status Reports.

The World Health Organization identifies cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death globally. This makes MyHeritage’s unique report for heart disease risk particularly beneficial. This report is based on a cutting-edge method called Polygenic Risk Score that examines hundreds, and in some cases thousands of variants across the entire genome.

In addition to heart disease, the Health+Ancestry product also includes a Polygenic Risk Score for type 2 diabetes, a condition that has significantly increased in prevalence in recent decades and now affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and 40% of Americans within their lifetime. MyHeritage is also unique in providing a third Polygenic Risk Score for breast cancer, which delivers a risk assessment for breast cancer when none of the BRCA variants that MyHeritage tests for are found. MyHeritage is currently the only major home DNA testing company to offer Polygenic Risk Reports for multiple conditions, and more Polygenic Risk Reports will be added shortly after the product’s initial release. The three initial Polygenic Risk Reports support only populations with European ancestry, but the company has begun conducting research to allow the polygenic reports to cover a broader spectrum of populations in the future.

The list of conditions and genes reported can be found here.

The unique aspect of the MyHeritage Health test is that they include diseases or conditions that are polygenic, meaning that multiple locations on multiple genes are taken into consideration in combination to create the report.

From the MyHeritage blog, for people in the US:

In the United States, we work with an independent network of physicians called PWNHealth, which supervises this new service and provides clinical oversight.

As with our current genealogical DNA kit, activation is required to associate the kit with the individual who is taking the test. With the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry kit, activation must be done by the user who took the DNA test and it includes an additional step: completing a personal and family health history questionnaire. This ensures that users receive the reports that are appropriate for them. In the United States, an independent physician will review each health history questionnaire, approve the processing of the test, and evaluate all health reports before they are released. When a report indicates an increased risk for a specific condition, the physician will further determine whether genetic counseling is advised. If genetic counseling is recommended, a phone or video consultation with a genetic counselor from PWNHealth is included at no additional cost.

In the United States, the physician oversight and genetic counseling is an important benefit of the MyHeritage DNA Ancestry + Health test. This ensures that users will not be on their own when interpreting the results, in cases where the results indicate increased risk and the physician considers genetic counseling to be essential. In other words, our test provides access to experts who can help people understand their results, which our major competitor does not provide.

I personally feel that the physician oversight and access to a counselor is extremely important. I greatly appreciate that the counselor is included free in cases that merit that level of attention.

Of course, having taken the 23andMe test and utilized Promethease, I’m curious what the MyHeritage information might reveal that wasn’t covered in either of those others. In particular, my father had heart disease and my sister died of a heart attack, so I’m particularly concerned about heart health.

Questions, Answers and Things to Note

  • If you transferred your DNA to MyHeritage from any vendor, you’ll need to test on the MyHeritage chip in order to receive the health reports.
  • The health part of the test is not available to residents of NY, NH and RI due to their state laws. Sorry folks.
  • If you tested your DNA at MyHeritage, you are eligible for an upgrade to the Health product for the price of $120 by signing on to your account here and clicking on the Health tab. If you do not see the $120 upgrade option, that means that you are not eligible for the upgrade because you either haven’t tested yet, or you transferred your DNA file from another vendor.

MyHeritage Health.png

  • To order a new DNA+Health test or upgrade, click here. Current subscribers after signing on will see the new Health tab beside the DNA tab.

MyHeritage DNA tab.png

  • If you order a DNA kit without ordering through the Health tab, you’ll receive an Ancestry only test, but you can still upgrade for the $120 later, so don’t worry.

Occasionally, you can save a few $$ by ordering the initial genealogy-only MyHeritage DNA kit on sale, like for the current price of $59, then wait until your results are back and order the upgrade for $120, for a total of $179 – representing a $20 savings over the $199 price for the Ancestry+Health kit. Now is a great time to order!

  • The upgrade or purchase of the Health test provides initial health information for the first year, but after year 1, if you want updated health information as it becomes available, a health subscription costs $99 per year.

MyHeritage Health subscription.png

I was confused about exactly what the $99 Health Subscription covers, so I asked MyHeritage if I already have a full subscription (which I do, love, and you can try for free), would I still need to purchase the $99 Health Subscription?

I received the following reply:

Yes, you would still need the $99 Health Subscription, if you wish to gain access to all new Genetic Risk and Carrier Status Reports as they are released, beyond those you will get in your initial health results. None of the current subscriptions negates the need for the additional Health subscription for receiving health updates.

However, the Health Subscription will also unlock the advanced MyHeritage DNA genealogical features (see https://blog.myheritage.com/2018/12/starting-today-new-dna-upload-policy/) such as AutoClusters and Theory of Family Relativity.

So, a non-genealogist who buys the new MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry kit and adds the health subscription will not need to buy another type of subscription to unlock the advanced MyHeritage DNA genealogical features.

What’s Next?

MyHeritage Kit.jpg

I literally have my new MyHeritage DNA kit in my hands (because I transferred by DNA from another vendor initially) and I’m getting ready to swab.

After I receive my results, I’ll write a comparison about my MyHeritage health results as compared to my 23andMe results.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some (but not all) 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

Honoring Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker

Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker

Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, 97-year-old Navajo Code Talker of North Cottonwood, Arizona, holding his DNA kit from Family Tree DNA after swabbing, photo courtesy Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair.

I can’t even begin to describe the honor I feel to be able to write a Memorial Day article honoring WWII USMC veteran, William Tully Brown, one of the few living Navajo Code Talkers.

I first became aware of William because he matches the Anzick Child in one of the DNA projects at Family Tree DNA that I administer. I reached out to his daughter Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair who has graciously facilitated communications with her father.

William is 100% Native American, Navajo, as confirmed by his autosomal DNA, family genealogy and tribal history.

If you’re wondering about how a Navajo man born on the Navajo reservation in Arizona might match the DNA of a child buried approximately 12,500 years ago in Montana, the answer is because they share a common ancestor very long ago from a highly endogamous population.

Neither Anzick Child nor William have any ancestors that weren’t Native American, so any DNA that they share must come from Native American ancestors. In other words, their DNA is identical by population.

The original group of individuals migrating across Beringia who would settle in the Americas, the ancestors of all of the Native people extending across North, Central and South America, is thought to have been very small. Of course, there were no humans living in the American continents at that time, so that founding population had no new DNA sources to introduce into the expanding population. All aboriginal people descended from the original group.

beringia map

By Erika Tamm et al – Tamm E, Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu M, Smith DG, et al. (2007) Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders. PLoS ONE 2(9): e829. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000829. Also available from PubMed Central., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16975303

It’s believed by some scientists that over time, additional migrations arrived from far Northeast Asia, in what is now Siberia, but that founding population in Asia is the same population that the original group left.

Today, we see fully Native people, including William, with ethnicity results that include North and Central America, Siberia and often, a small amount of East Asian, totaling 100%.

William’s DNA contributions are amazing, and we’ll cover them in a future article, but what I’d really like to do today is to honor his military service and incredible legacies. Yes, legacies, plural. When I think I couldn’t love and respect this man any more, he contributes selflessly again as he approaches the century mark. God Bless this man!

Let’s begin by talking about William’s incredible service with the Navajo Code Talkers.

The Navajo Code Talkers

Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker WWII

William Tully Brown in a younger photo, courtesy Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair.

The Navajo Code Talkers, highly intelligent and incredibly brave men, were the heroes of WWII. The original group of Navajo Marines recruited specifically for their language skills to serve in the Pacific theater numbered 29 but had been expanded to more than 400 by the end of the war.

Only 7 Code Talkers are still alive today. William Tully Brown is 97 years old and is pictured at the beginning of this article in his Marine uniform, which he still loves, and above in a younger photo.

The great irony is that the Navajo had been forbidden as children to speak their Native language, practice their religion, arts or culture, raised often in boarding schools intended to assimilate them and rid them of their Native “ways.” It’s those same children, as men, who saved the very country that tried to “beat the Indian” out of them, teaching them to suffer in silence, according to now deceased Code Talker, Chester Nez.

We should all be incredibly grateful that the Navajo were so forgiving.

Navajo is a very complex language with many dialects, making it unintelligible to other language speakers. It was estimated that only about 30 non-Navajo individuals spoke or understood Navajo in 1942 – making it a wonderful choice for a secret code.

The Navajo language proved to be undecipherable, even by the best cryptographers, and remained so for decades. Meanwhile, the Code Talkers translated communications and tactical information to and from the Navajo language, utilizing radio, telephone and other communications on the front lines of the war. The work of the Code Talkers was essential to the Allied Victory of WWII, with Code Talkers being present at many important battles including Utah Beach and Iwo Jima.

At the Battle of Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”

For many years, the humble Navajo men weren’t recognized, keeping their military secrets, even from their families. It wasn’t until 1968, a quarter century later, that the documents were declassified, resulting in recognition for the brave Code Talkers.

August 14th was designated as National Navajo Code Talkers Day in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan. In 2000, Bill Clinton signed a law which awarded gold medals of honor to the 29 men who developed the special Navajo military code, and silver congressional medals to all Code Talkers. You can view William Tully Brown’s name in the Congressional Record, here.

Their pride and loyalty remains unwavering.

You can read more about the Code Talkers here.

The Language of Our Ancestors

Veteran Code Talker, Kee Etsicitty said, ” We, the Navajo people, were very fortunate to contribute our language as a code for our country’s victory. For this, I strongly recommend we teach our children the language our ancestors were blessed with at the beginning of time. It is very sacred and represents the power of life.”

The Navajo language isn’t the only language and legacy that William Tully Brown will be remembered for. His DNA, yet another language, is a second selfless legacy that he leaves.

William Brown tested his DNA at Family Tree DNA which matches not only with the Anzick child, but with many other individuals who are Navajo or carry Native American DNA.

The Navajo history tells us that they migrated from the far north. Remnants of that journey remain in their oral legends. Archaeologists suggest that the migration from the northwest occurred around the year 1500.

The Navajo language roots confirms that connection.

Navajo is a Na Dene language, a derivative of Athabaskan which is also spoken in Alaska, in northwestern Canada, and along the North American Pacific rim.

Athabascan language map

CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=147052

This map shows the areas where the Na-Dene languages are spoken today.

The languages spoken in areas of the southwestern part of the US are referred to as Southern Athabaskan languages.

Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that we find DNA matches to William Brown by several individuals whose ancestry is Native from and who still live in areas within the northern orange regions.

DNA is Forever

William Tully Brown’s legacy isn’t only in the Navajo code words he spoke in WWII, or his bravery, but also the code carried in his DNA that he has so generously contributed. William’s DNA has now been documented and will endure forever.

William’s genetic legacy reaches out to future generations, extending the connection to the ancestors through the threads of time, back to the Anzick child and forward for generations to come – drawing us all together.

Thank you Marine veteran William Tully Brown for your immense generosity, sacrifices and altruistic contribution of both life-saving and live-giving codes. How fitting that your heroism began 80 years ago with a war-winning language that would rescue both our country and democracy, as well as our Allies – and now, near your century mark, you are leaving a remarkable legacy by contributing your own genetic words, your DNA, for posterity.

Preserving our country then and our Native heritage now, uniting past, present and future. Gathering the generations together, lighting their way home.

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Attribution:

Thank you to Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair, the daughter of USMC veteran William Tully Brown, Code Talker, for permission to write this article, her generosity, and for his photos.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some (but not all) 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

Concepts – Endogamy and DNA Segments

Members of endogamous populations intermarry for generations, creating many segments that match, especially at small centiMorgan levels. These matching segments occur because they are members of the same population – not because they are genealogically related in a recent or genealogical time-frame.

Said another way, endogamous people are all related to each other in some way because they descend from a small original population whose descendants continued to intermarry without introducing people outside of the community into the genetic line. In other words, the DNA segments of the original population simply keep getting passed around, because there are no new segments being introduced.

If you only have 10 segments at a specific genetic location to begin with, in the original population – then the descendants of those original people can only have some combination of the DNA of those original people until another person is introduced into the mix.

Examples of endogamous populations are Ashkenazi Jews, Native Americans, Acadians, Mennonite, Amish and so forth.

If you have some family lines from an endogamous population, you’ll match with many members of that group. If you are fully endogamous, you will have significantly more matches than people from non-endogamous groups.

I suggest that you read my article, Concepts: The Faces of Endogamy to set the stage for this article.

In this article, I want to provide you with a visual example of what endogamy looks like in a chromosome browser. It doesn’t matter which vendor you use so long as you can drop the cM count to 1, so I’m using FamilyTreeDNA for this example.

I’ve used three people as examples:

  • Non-endogamous European
  • Ashkenazi Jewish
  • Native American (Sioux)

For all testers, I selected their closest match above 200 cM total plus the following 4 for a total of 5 people to compare in the chromosome browser. I have only shown chromosomes 1-8 because I’m trying to convey the concept, not exact details of each chromosome, and 8 chromosomes fit into one screen shot.

If you’re not familiar with the terminology, you can read about cM, centiMorgans, in the article “Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs, and Pickin’Crab.”

Let’s take a look at our 3 examples, one at a time.

Non-Endogamous European Individual

The tester is non-endogamous. Four of the 5 individuals are known family members, although none were target tested by the tester.

Endogamy non-endogamous.png

The tester’s matches at 1 cM are shown below:

Endogamy non-endogamous 1cM.png

Note that the grey hashed regions are regions not reported, so no one matches there.

Below, the same 5 matches shown at 7 cM where roughly half of the matches will be identical by chance. Identical by descent segments include identical by population. You can read about the various types of “identical by” segments in the article, “Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance”.

Endogamy non-endogamous 7cM.png

Ashkenazi Jewish Individual

The tester, along with both of their parents have tested. None of the matches are known or identified relatives.

Endogamy Jewish.png

Even though none of these individuals can be identified, two are related on both sides, maternal and paternal, of the person who tested.

In the chromosome browser, at 1cM, we see the following:

Endogamy Jewish 1cM.png

At 7cM, the following:

Endogamy 7cM.png

Native American Individual

The tester is 15/16 Native from the Sioux tribe. It’s unlikely that their matches are entirely Native, meaning they are not entirely endogamous. None of the matches are known or identified family members.

Endogamy Native.png

At 1 cM shown below:

Endogamy Native 1cM.png

At 7 cM, below:

Endogamy Native 7cM.png

Side by Side

I’ve placed the three 1 cM charts side by side with the non-endogamous to the left, the Jewish in the center and the Native, at right.

endogamy side by side.png

It’s easy to see that the Jewish tester has more 1 cM segments than the non-endogamous tester, and the Native tester more than both of the others.

Summary Comparison Chart

The chart below shows the difference in total number of segments, number of segments between 1 and 6.99 cM, and number of segments at 7 cM or larger. I downloaded these results into a spreadsheet and counted the rows.

Total Segments Total segments at 1 – 6.99 cM Total at 7 or > cM % 7 or >
Non-Endogamous 98 70 28 29
Jewish 168 139 29 17
Native American 310 295 15 5

You’ll note that the non-endogamous individual only has 58% of the number of total segments compared to the Jewish individual, and 32% compared to the Native American individual. The Jewish individual has 54% of the number of segments that the Native person has.

I was initially surprised by the magnitude of this difference, but after thinking about it, I realized that the Native people have been endogamous for a lot longer in the Americas than the Ashkenazi Jewish people in Europe. At least 12,000 years compared to roughly 2000 years, or approximately (at least) 6 times longer. Furthermore, the Native people in the Americans were entirely isolated until the 1400s, with no possibility of outside admixture. Isolation lasted even longer in the tribes that were not coastal, such as the Sioux in the Dakotas.

Note that the Jewish person and non-endogamous person have almost as many 7cM segments as each other, but the Native person has roughly half as many when compared to the other two. That means that because I made my selection starting point based on total cM, and the Native person has a LOT more 1-6.99 cM segments than the others, at that level, there are fewer strong segment matches for the Native individual.

The Native person’s percentage of 7 cM or greater segments is a much smaller percentage of the total segments.

As a percentage, the 7 or greater cM segments are 29% of the non-endogamous person’s total, 17% of the Jewish person’s, but only 5% of the Native person’s total.

Endogamy not only makes a difference when comparing results, but the specific endogamous population along with their history, how heavily endogamous they are, and how long they have been endogamous appears to factor heavily into the comparison as well.

DNA Day Sale at Family Tree DNA

Family-Tree-DNA logo

Every year we look forward to Family Tree DNA’s DNA Day sale which starts today and ends April 25th.

This year, virtually everything is on sale – single tests, bundles of different tests, upgrades and even SNP packs for Y DNA testers.

For those who need a primer on the different kinds of tests, the article 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy is a quick read.

DNA Day 2019 single tests

Bundles are great values.

DNA Day 2019 bundles.png

If you’ve already taken a Y DNA test, now’s the time to upgrade!

DNA Day 2019 upgrades.png

I wrote about the Big Y-500 to Big Y-700 upgrade and what to expect here.

Know what you want already?

Click here to order!

If you’re a new customer, purchase from the main page.

If you already have an account, sign in and click on “Add Ons and Upgrades” at the top right above the banner on your personal page.

DNA Day 2019 upgrade button.png

Even SNP Packs for Advanced Y Testers are on Sale

Please note that if you have taken or upgrade to the Big Y test, you don’t need to purchase a SNP pack.

SNP packs are an upgrade for those men who have already tested Y DNA STR panels 12, 25, 37, 67 or 111 who seek to verify haplogroup branches on the Y tree without taking the Big Y test. The good news is that SNP packs are less expensive than the Big Y. The bad news is that SNP packs test only a fraction of the available SNPs and they make no new discoveries. If you’re uncertain about what to purchase, I would recommend talking to your surname or haplogroup administrator about your goals for testing.

My personal preference is for the Big Y-700 because of the advanced testing capabilities, the additional STR markers, additional matches and the fact that discoveries can be made with the Big Y test. In other words, new SNPs, meaning potential new haplogroups can be discovered with the Big Y, while SNP packs test existing SNPs to place a person further down on the tree.

If you’re interested in SNP packs, they are almost never on sale, but they are now.

DNA Day 2019 SNP pack.png

If you want to order a SNP pack, click here to sign on to your account, then click on the blue upgrade button beside your Y DNA results.

DNA Day 2019 Y upgrade button.png

Next, you’ll see several selections, so click on “Buy Now” under Advanced Tests.

DNA Day 2019 advanced test.png

Next, select SNP Pack.

DNA Day 2019 SNP pack select.png

Then choose the appropriate SNP pack for your haplogroup and testing goals.

No matter which tests you select, you’ll be enjoying the results and new matches soon!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some (but not all) 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