The Genealogist’s Stocking

genealogist-stocking

As a genealogist, what do you want to find in your stocking this year? You don’t even have to have been good! No elf-on-a-shelf is watching – I promise!

  • Do you need a tool that doesn’t yet exist?
  • Do you need to learn a skill?
  • Do you need to DNA test a particular person?
  • Do you want to break down a specific brick wall?

Here’s what I want, in no particular order:

  1. A chromosome browser from Ancestry. Yes, I know this comes in the dead horse category and Hades has not yet frozen over, but I still want a chromosome browser.
  2. Resurrection of the Y and mtDNA data bases at Ancestry and Sorenson (purchased by Ancestry.) Refer to dead horse and Hades comment above.
  3. Tree matching at Family Tree DNA. (The request has been submitted.)
  4. A tool to find Y and mtDNA descendants of an ancestor who may have tested or be candidates to test at Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA is the only major company who does Y and mtDNA testing today, so this is the only data base/vendor this request applies to.
  5. To find the line of my James Moore, c1720-c1798 who married Mary Rice and lived in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties in Virginia before moving to Halifax County. I’d really love to get him across the pond. This is *simply* a matter of waiting until the right person Y DNA tests. Simply – HA! Waiting is not my strong suit. Maybe I should ask for patience, but I’ve already been as patient as I can be for 15 years. Doesn’t that count for something? Santa???
  6. To discover the surname and family of Magdalena (c1730-c1808) who married Philip Jacob Miller. Magdalena’s descendant has an exact mitochondrial DNA match in the Brethren community to the descendant of one Amanda Troutwine (1872-1946) who married William Hofacker on Christmas Day, 1889 in Darke County, Ohio.. Now all I need to do is extend Amanda’s line back far enough in time. I’m very hopeful. I need time and a little luck on this one.

I’d be happy with any one of the half-dozen “wishes” above, but hey, this is permission to dream and dream big – so I’ve put them all on my list, just in case Genealogy Santa is feeling particularly generous this year!

Tell us about your dream gift(s) in your genealogy stocking and what you need to make those dreams come true. What might you do to help make that happen? Do you have a plan?

For example, items 1-4 are beyond my control, but I have made my wishes known, repeatedly.  I’ve researched #5 to death, so waiting for that Moore match now comes in the “genealogy prayer” category.  But item 6 is clearly within reach – so I’ll be focused on Amanda Troutwine as soon as the holiday festivities are over.  Let’s hope you’ll be reading an article about this success soon.

So, ask away.  What’s on your list?  You just never know where Santa’s helpers may be lurking!!!

Lifetime Achievement Awards for Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld

At the 2016 Family Tree DNA 12th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy held in Houston, Texas in November, I was honored to present Lifetime Achievement Awards to both Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld from the genetic genealogy community in the form of DNA double helix quilts.

I chose quilts as awards because quilts embody the deep cross-cultural symbolism of family, of caring and of warmth. Quilts can be utilitarian, artistic, or both – hung on the wall or napped under. They descend to the next generation, just like our DNA. These unique quilts, and yes, there are two, show the easily recognizable double helix strands, but also suggest the mystery of the unknown and yet to be discovered.  Quilts seemed the perfect medium.

award-dna-quilt

I must admit, I agonized for weeks about what I was going to say, and months about the DNA quilts themselves. Ok, I had a bit of analysis paralysis having to do with the quilt design and construction, but with the deadline of the approaching conference looming months, then weeks away, I kicked into overdrive to finish the quilts.

But then, the most difficult part – what to say to and about these amazing humans. I’ve been involved in public speaking for the past 30+ years, and I’m very comfortable – except not this time. This presentation was about a subject very close to my heart – and about the men who have provided all genetic genealogists with the opportunities we have today.

Before I share what I said, I would like to thank my co-conspirators:

  • Janine Cloud
  • Katherine Borges
  • Nora Probasco
  • Linda Magellan
  • Jim Brewster

Katherine, Nora and Linda have all been to all 12 of the conferences and are fellow quilters. Linda is making labels for their quilts to affix to the back so they will never forget – although I doubt there is much possibility of that happening. Jim Brewster will sew the labels to the backs of the quilts when Linda mails the labels to Texas.

Max and Bennett are very humble men and I know they were embarrassed and amazingly enough, for those of us who are fortunate enough to know then – they were also pretty much speechless. At least for a couple minutes!

I’d like to take this opportunity to share the awards presentation with you. I’ve taken the liberty of added a few photos.

Many people don’t know Max and Bennett personally, nor do they know the history of genetic genealogy and direct to consumer DNA testing. I hope this presentation both honors Max and Bennett, and serves to educate about the humble beginnings of genetic genealogy.

I’m honored to present two Lifetime Achievement Awards today. Yes, there has been a conspiracy afoot. You have no idea how difficult it is to sneak onto a conference agenda. Thank you Janine Cloud. Additional co-conspirators are Katherine Borges, Nora Probasco and Linda Magellan, three people who have attended every conference since the beginning.

award-beginning

Left to right, Roberta Estes, Linda Magellan, Katherine Borges, Nora Probasco

Let’s talk about the beginning.

Most everyone knows the story about Bennett Greenspan’s first retirement in 1999.

Bennett tried to retire, but managed to get underfoot at home, and his wife in essence threw him out of the house. She told him she didn’t much care WHAT he did, but he had to find SOMETHING to do, SOMEPLACE ELSE.

Now, knowing that Bennett is a genealogist, I’m betting that living in Houston, he went to the Clayton Library every day and assured his wife he was busy looking for a new career. He found it alright, or maybe it found him.

Someplace, at the Clayton Library or elsewhere, Bennett was thinking about how to prove that men with a common surname were or were not descended from a common ancestral line. Were they related? Bennett knew just enough about science to know that if he could find a way to test their Y chromosomes, and they descended from a common paternal ancestor, their Y DNA should match. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Bennett began a search to find a scientist that could and would run that one Y DNA test for him. As it turns out, could and would were two entirely different matters. Bennett found Dr. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona who runs the Hammer Lab that specializes in human evolutionary genetics.

Dr. Hammer could, but would he?

Bennett mentions talking to Dr. Hammer on the phone several times. Dr. Hammer mentions that Bennett camped out in his office and wouldn’t leave. However persistent Bennett was or wasn’t, in person or otherwise, we should all be incredibly grateful for his tenacity, because purely in self-defense, Dr. Hammer agreed to do the test – just that one test.

However, Dr. Hammer made a fateful throwaway comment as Bennett was on the way out the door. He said, “Someone should start a business doing this. You crazy genealogists ask me about this ALL THE TIME.

Talk about what never to say to a bored entrepreneur. That “all the time” statement echoed and rolled around in Bennett’s head. “All the time…all the time.”

Now, I don’t know exactly what happened next, but Bennett and Max were already business partners in another endeavor, and I’d bet the next conversation went something like this:

“Max – I’ve got an idea….”

Followed by a brief discussion and then:

“Bennett, are you crazy? No one will ever buy that?”

Like I said, I wasn’t there – but I’m really glad Bennett was a bit crazy – because so are the rest of us genealogists – as is proven by the size and magnitude of the genetic genealogy industry today.

The fledgling business, Family Tree DNA, was founded with Dr. Hammer’s lab doing the testing.

Fast forward a few months to July 14, 2000.

Cousin Doug Mumma, who, by the way, I didn’t know was a cousin until several years later thanks to a Family Finder test, called Family Tree DNA and talked to Bennett about Y DNA testing several Mumma men and men with similar surnames to see if they descended from a common ancestor. If Bennett was crazy wanting Y DNA testing, he is accompanied a whole lot of other genealogists. Perhaps it’s genetic.

Bennett agreed to form a project for Doug and Doug agreed to commit to purchase 20 kits. Doug’s first kit in the Mumma Surname Project was kit M-01 and by the time he was ready to purchase project kit number 21, the M was gone from the kit designation, and he purchased kit number 72.

Fast forward another few months.

I had tested my mitochondrial DNA with Oxford Ancestors and for something like $900 discovered that I was the daughter of Jasmine, one of the seven daughters of Eve. I received a one page diagram with a gold star placed on the letter J. My fascination with the science of genetic genealogy had begun.

One of my cousins mentioned that some company in Texas was doing DNA testing on men for the Y chromosome for genealogy. I was just sure this was some kind of scam, because I figured if that could be done, Oxford Ancestors would be offering that too – and they weren’t.

I found the phone number for Family Tree DNA, called and left a message.

Later that night, about 9:30, my phone rang and it was Bennett Greenspan returning my call – the President of Family Tree DNA.

Little did I know, at that time, that the office consisted of Bennett’s cell phone.

award-bennett-cell

We talked for an hour. I explained to Bennett that I had tested for mitochondrial DNA and asked about the Y DNA testing. Bennett described what Family Tree DNA was doing with testing and projects, convincing me it was not a scam after all. While I certainly understood the genetic basis of how Y DNA testing worked, I had not seen the website, or the software, and I was concerned about explaining how matching worked on the site between different men in a project.

Bennett said something fateful, which I’m sure he’s regretting right about now. He said, “Don’t worry – I’ll help you.” With that, I committed to purchase 5 kits and he committed to create the Estes surname project, and help me if I needed assistance. I quickly found 5 willing Estes genealogists who desperately wanted to know if they descended from a common Estes progenitor. The Estes DNA project was formed.

In mid-December 2002, I purchased kit 6656.  Kits were selling at the incredible rate of about 2000 a year!

The DNA results were amazing and full of potential for every ancestral line. I quickly became an advocate of genetic genealogy, although Rootsweb wouldn’t let us discuss DNA testing on the boards and lists, like it was some sort of pariah. DNA proved and disproved genealogy, myths and oral history – which bothered some folks immensely.

By 2004, genetic genealogy was growing and so was the interest in this field. Around the beginning of 2004, kit 17,000 was sold and twelve months later, on New Year’s Eve, kit 30,244 was sold. Participation in genetic genealogy nearly doubled in 2004 and in two years, it had quadrupled.  By now, kits were selling at just under 2000 per month.

November 2004 saw the first conference sponsored by Family Tree DNA in Houston which lasted only one day. The excitement in the community was palpable. Not only were we excited about the conference itself, and learning, but by meeting each other face to face.

award-2004-banner

award-2004

Bennett Greenspan, Bruce Walsh (obscured by Bennett), Max Blankfeld and Matt Kaplan from the University of Arizona, at the first conference. Photos from 2004 courtesy ISOGG.

In April of 2005, Family Tree DNA made the announcement that they had teamed with the National Geographic Society and the Genographic Project was launched. This liaison was the turning point that legitimized DNA testing to the rest of the world. People began to see DNA testing featured in the iconic magazine with the yellow cover and no one wondered anymore if we were just plain crazy.

In November 2005, the second Family Tree DNA Genetic Genealogy conference, which became the second annual conference, was held in Washington DC at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society.

This conference was extra exciting because of the location and the implications for genetic genealogy. We had come of age. The conference was held in the “Explorers Hall.” We were recognized as explorers too in this brave new genetic world.

award-2005

My husband and I stayed at a hotel called The Helix in Washington, within walking distance to the National Geographic building. On the morning of the conference, we left the hotel for the 5-minute walk to Nat Geo. In front of us, maybe 30 feet, were Max and Bennett, briskly walking and chatting. We continued behind them, not wanting to interrupt. In those few minutes, I remember distinctly thinking that I was literally watching history being made by the two men in front of me. Little did I know exactly how true that was and what the future held.

On New Year’s Eve, 2005, I purchased kit 50,000. Of course, I had to purchase about 10 kits to manage to get kit 50,000, right at midnight. Unbeknownst to me, the Genographic Project had sold nearly 100,000 kits. Genetic genealogy had passed silently from its infancy.

Every year since then, more history has unfolded.

Few people get the opportunity to shape the future.

Few people get the opportunity to directly affect more than a few lives – in this case, millions.

Few people get the opportunity to found not just a business, but an industry that will continue to provide information and answers long after we are nothing more than genealogical memories.

Few people get to chart the course of history.

Yes, I’m talking about Max and Bennett.

No, they don’t know anything about this.

About this time, Bennett apparently suspected not only that the awards might be for he and Max, but also realized that he had been “had.” Janine Cloud, was the person with the difficult task of making sure that Bennett and Max were in the room during this time, in addition to providing a disguised space on the agenda for these awards.

This is the look on Bennett’s face when he realized and looked at Janine.

award-bennett-gotcha

Followed by this photo.  Janine is standing behind Bennett.

award-bennett-2

Max, however, didn’t suspect, because he was busy. I can just hear Bennett, “Pssst, Max…..”

award-bennett-max

So, until now, Max probably really doesn’t know exactly what I said up to this point.

Max and Bennett not only founded the genetic genealogy industry, they have maintained a leadership position within that industry while others perished. They have an entire series of firsts attributed to them, but if I took time to list them all, we would be here all day.

What I will say is that they have created this industry with the utmost integrity and with their eye to the consumer. One example stands out.

I was standing at a conference some years ago when a man asked Bennett about backbone SNP testing. Bennett asked him which haplogroup. The man answered, then Bennett told him not to spend his money on that test for that haplogroup, because he wasn’t likely to learn anything he didn’t already know.

Being a project administrator, I was surprised at Bennett’s response. I spoke with Bennett and he said he never wanted his customers to feel like they didn’t receive value for their money. That’s not something one would expect to hear from the mouth of a businessman. But that is Bennett.

Integrity has been the guiding principle and the foundation of Family Tree DNA and remains so today.

Max and Bennett have given us what is arguably the single most valuable tool for genealogists – ever – not to mention those searching for their birth family.

Francis Crick and James Watson discovered DNA in 1953, but it would be another 47 years before Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld gave us the rosetta stone so that “the rest of us” can understand our DNA and how it’s relevant to our own lives – and those of our ancestors. That vision in 1999 and the fledgling startup company in 2000 was the cornerstone of the DTC, direct to consumer, DNA industry today.

I am honored to present Max and Bennett with special Lifetime Achievement Awards – that are – well – a bit different from any other lifetime achievement award. But then, they are unique so their awards should be as well.

I am asking Katherine Borges, Linda Magellan and Nora Probasco to help present these awards on behalf of the genetic genealogy community. All 3 have attended all of the conferences.

award-katherine

Katherine Borges closed the presentation with the following quote by Wilferd Peterson.

Walk with the Dreamers,
The Believers,
The Courageous,
The Planners,
The Doers,
The Successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground,
Let their Spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

Thank you Max and Bennett for inviting and allowing us to walk with you on this most fabulous journey. You are the wind beneath our wings.

What you can’t see in the photos is the standing ovation for Max and Bennett. People came up to me afterwards and thanked me, saying that they wanted to say those things, but couldn’t or didn’t know how.

At this point, we told Max and Bennett that they had to close their eyes. They are indeed trusting souls.

When they opened their eyes, I’m sure they didn’t know quite what to think. They were both looking to their left at first, and I think they thought there was one quilt.

award-first-sight

I do love the looks on their faces. We wanted them to be surprised and joyful, and they clearly were.

award-both-quilts

They weren’t entirely speechless, but close.

award-max

Max said something short and gracious, then handed the microphone to Bennett and said , “Here Bennett, you say something.” The crowd laughed. Max and Bennett both handled the situation with the grace and dignity we have come to expect.

award-bennett

For those who would like to see a closeup, Katherine Borges took a nice picture.

award-closeup

I will be writing a separate article about the quilts themselves.

Family Tree DNA offers lab tours on the Monday following the conference, and I was able to take a photo of Max and Bennett in the office with the quilts.  For those who don’t know, Gene by Gene is the parent company of Family Tree DNA.

I’m sure none of us, including Max and Bennett had any idea 16 years ago where this road would lead.  It has been an amazing journey – a fantastic magic carpet ride!

award-both-gene-by-gene

I want to thank everyone who contributed in any way to these awards for Bennett and Max, including everyone who has bought tests and participated in DNA testing for genetic genealogy.  Every time I thank Max, he always says, “No, thank YOU.  We wouldn’t be here without you,” meaning the testing community.  That’s Max, and I know he means it sincerely.

Not only was this a wonderful opportunity to honor the men who founded and anchor this industry and community, but also to celebrate individuals being able to participate in discovery on the forefront of the final frontier, the one within us.  What Max and Bennett have provided is an opportunity beyond measure. I could never have dreamed a dream this big. I’m eternally grateful that they did.

Thank you, Max and Bennett, for everything you have done for genetic genealogy over the past 16 years, for founding Family Tree DNA, for projects and a wide variety of products, for embracing, including and encouraging genealogists, scientists and citizen scientists, and for providing continuing opportunities to unwrap the genetic gifts left to us by our ancestors.

I have struggled to find words big enough, strong enough and deep enough.  I hope when you look at your quilts, you will simply feel our everlasting gratitude for how profoundly you have touched and irreversibly changed the lives of so many, one by one, in essence sewing many small stitches in the quilt of humanity.

Photos courtesy Jennifer Zinck, Jim Hollern, Katherine Borges, Janine Cloud, Jim Kvochick and ISOGG.

New Family Tree DNA Holiday Coupons – And Why Test Y DNA

Y DNA testing carries a great deal of potential – for males. Why just for males? Because the Y chromosome is passed to sons, only, from the father. The Y chromosome is what makes males male. Females receive an X chromosome from their father instead of a Y.

This means that while men can easily test for Y chromosome results, women can’t. Women have to find a male of the surname line they are interested in to test on their behalf. If their father or brothers are living, finding a willing male for their birth name can be fairly easy, but in some cases, one has to go back up the tree a generation or two, and come back down another line to find a living male from your surname line to test.

y-dna-search

In this example, if the female in red wants to test her Estes line, and green cells represent living Estes males, she would have to go up the tree to the third generation, Lazarus, and come back down three generations through son Charlie to find a living male.

Let’s say that living male Estes either can’t be found or isn’t interested in testing. To find another male, she would have to go up the tree another generation to John Y. Estes and come down through son Reagan where there are two generations of living Estes males.

That didn’t work either? Go up another generation and come down through son Jechonas to living male, William.

Why would someone be so interested in testing surname lines?

You can learn a lot.

  • You can confirm that the person who tests actually descends from the expected surname line. Of course, this assumes two things. First, that others from that line have already tested and second, that the tester actually IS descended from that line. Sometimes males who carry the same surname have different ancestral lines. And sometimes, well, surprises are waiting to be found, meaning sometimes people aren’t descended from who they think they are.
  • Testers receive a haplogroup designation which reaches back to ancient times. Haplogroups tell you, for example, if your ancestor was European, Native American, Jewish, African, or Asian. With additional testing, you can discover more specific information about haplogroups, but that requires testing that can’t be performed until after your haplogroup is discovered through regular testing.
  • You receive your matches at each level of testing. If you test at 37 markers for example, you receive a list of matches at 37 markers, at 25 markers and at 12 markers. I recommend testing at 67 or 111 markers if possible, because those tests refine your matches even further.
  • You receive a “Matches Map” that shows the locations of the oldest known ancestors of your matches.
  • You receive a migration map, showing the path your ancient ancestors took to arrive where they are found today in the world.

There are more tools and information too. You can see, below, all of the available information for Y DNA testers on your Family Tree DNA personal home page.

y-dna-options-2

As a female, I can’t test for even one Y line, but I can surely sponsor tests for men who do descend from my ancestral lines. I try to discover the genetic information for each of my lines. You never know what surprises may be lurking.

I have created a DNA pedigree chart where I record the haplogroup information for each of my ancestral lines.

DNA Pedigree

When my cousins test for Y or mitochondrial lines, I also sponsor a Family Finder test, hoping that our autosomal DNA still matches, even though we are some generations removed from each other.

I try to find a male who has tested, or who will test, for each of my ancestral Y lines. You don’t know what you don’t know – and DNA testing is part of the reasonably exhaustive search required by the GPS, the Genealogical Proof Standard.

So, give yourself a gift this holiday season and test your Y DNA. If you don’t have the Y DNA for the line you want to test, find someone who does. Spread the holiday cheer and take advantage of the great sale prices, AND coupons too.

Coupons

It’s Monday, and Family Tree DNA has issued this week’s coupons. As always, first come, first served with the coupons from the kits that my cousin Jim and I manage. A big thank you to Jim for adding his to the list, bringing the total to 80 available for you to choose from.

Click here to redeem the coupons, or to discover the value of your own coupon on your account. If you don’t want to use your coupon, please feel free to list the coupon code and what it applies to in the comments.

Coupon # Good for What
R19ZIUYF3V7J $10 Off MTDNA
R197MY8BNWJN $10 Off MTDNA
R199CLXSRPNT $10 Off MTDNA
R19VU134X7SY $10 Off MTDNA
R19RTA2UG14Z $10 Off MTDNA
R19OPM6ADSDW $10 Off MTDNA
R19TP5E566LK $10 Off MTDNA
R19CHVEGFORJ $10 Off MTDNA
R19IQER6CJP5 $10 Off MTDNA
R19MM1HH68T1 $10 Off MTDNA
R19ORLHXESRQ $10 Off MTDNA
R19JBQ9FLBVP $10 Off MTDNA
R19J486W13PL $10 Off MTDNA
R199QT41S5M7 $10 Off MTDNA
R19CFSQK1EIY $10 off mtDNA
R191BL3UE956 $10 Off MTDNA
R19HWR0EHR8B $10 Off MTDNA
R19SSLCS7KCL $10 Off MTDNA
R19ZGJCGYL5E $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19R4VNQU2VS $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19OHAM8MQQJ $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19UAO87L4UI $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19RYRLJ4NET $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19D9AGHJ2OY $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R192TTQ13K5W $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19Q9HGY7O41 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19ST6EN1Z4Z $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19R3XOJMV5O $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19CO2QP2D6G $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19PE5WPHG53 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R198U4N58UQG $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19IK9PQ8TL8 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19W90R0K8SI $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R192S97QA7QB $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19THF7PT8BG $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19PCRH9LYLJ $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R195PFAG4P5S $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19BL5W5XYST $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19GRCLECO77 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R195249FEKO8 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19LLKGWUW0Q $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R199GT35D7QN $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1915P4KMD1N $20 off MTDNA
R19ZNR916FS6 $20 off MTDNA
R18THPT2WI75 $20 off MTDNA
R19HEK8D5Z1C $20 off MTDNA
R192DEX0FXNP $20 off mtFull
R19TFY99ZX3F $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19O6AOSD1V7 $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19MOU9JF2XZ $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19R6Q914SEJ $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R195O1G80Y0K $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R19M8OVT75US $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R196KRZ6CI1C $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R197LBY38EFJ $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R19BNMBXJC6O $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R1963HTW3L4V $40 Off MTFULL
R19XAW5WBDMV $40 Off MTFULL
R19SBCZHRNET $40 Off MTFULL
R19D5XSEXSSN $40 Off MTFULL
R19MBATF5XGR $40 Off MTFULL
R19X0XP3U5LT $40 Off MTFULL
R19TZ8HI3PXN $40 Off MTFULL
R1901DPR0CXK $40 Off Y DNA 67
R19HCX58PM6V $40 Off Y DNA 67
R19NDO6MSHMU $40 Off Y-DNA 111
R19BC459ZCXZ $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R193MFZ2LUC8 $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R19HMYUP14D8 $5 Off Family Finder
R19AUCQG9HKN $5 Off Family Finder
R19OR90H0JQQ $5 Off Family Finder
R19KV8W6DDJI $50 Off Big Y
R19DX9MOEY30 $50 Off Big Y
R19O6PGTOY5L $50 Off Big Y
R19J4G4FM3IQ $50 Off Big Y
R19XO427F7OU $50 Off Big Y
R19PX9UDPTWS $50 Off Big Y
R19WAP9OLRC9 $50 Off Big Y
R19S7X0EA91E $60 off Y DNA 111

New Family Tree DNA Holiday Coupons – And Why the Big Y

holiday-lights

Each week during the holiday season, Family Tree DNA issues new coupons on Monday. These coupons are redeemable on top of the holiday sale prices, already in effect.

As I’ll be doing each week, I’ve listed my coupons available to redeem from kits that I manage.

But first, want to talk briefly about one particular type of DNA that is tested, and why one might want to order that particular test.

I’ve seen questions this past week about the Big Y test, so let’s talk about this test today.

The Big Y Test

The questions I’ve seen recently about the Big Y mostly revolve around why the test isn’t listed among the sale prices shown on the Family Tree DNA main page.

The Big Y test is not an entry level test. The tests shown on the Family Tree DNA main page are entry level and can be ordered by anyone, at least so long as the Y DNA tests are ordered for males. (Females don’t have a Y chromosome, so Y tests won’t work for them.)

The Big Y test is an upgrade for a male who has already taken the regular 37, 67 or 111 STR (short tandem repeat) marker test. For those who are unfamiliar, STR markers are used in a genealogically relevant timeframe to match other men to search for a common recent ancestor and are the type of markers used for 37, 67 and 111 marker tests.

SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) are used to determine haplogroups, which reflect deep ancestry and reach significantly further back in time.

Haplogroups are predicted for each participant based on the STR test results, and Family Tree DNA’s prediction routines are very accurate, but the haplgroup can only be confirmed by SNP testing. These two tests are testing different types of DNA mutations. I wrote about the difference here.

Different SNPs are tested to confirm different haplogroups, so you must have your STR results back with the prediction before you can order SNP tests.

The Big Y is the granddaddy of SNP testing, because it doesn’t directly test each SNP location, and there are thousands, but scans virtually the entire Y chromosome to cover in essence all known SNPs. Better yet, the Big Y looks for previously unknown or unnamed SNPs. In other words, this test is a test of discovery, not just a test of confirmation.

Many SNPS are either unknown or as yet unnamed and unplaced on the haplotree, meaning the Y DNA tree of mankind for the Y chromosome. The only way we discover new SNPs is to run a test of discovery. Hence, the Big Y.

It’s fun to be on the frontier of this wonderfully personal science.

Applying the Big Y to Genealogy

In addition to defining and confirming the haplogroup, the Big Y test can be immensely informative in terms of ancestral roots. For example, we know that our Lentz line, found in Germany in the 1600s, matches the contemporary results of Burzyan Bashkir men, descendants of the Yamnaya. I wrote about this here, near the end of the article.

Even more amazing, we then discovered that our Lentz line actually shares mutations with ancient DNA recovered from Yamnaya culture burials from 3500 years ago from along the Volga River. You can read about that here, near the end of the article. This discovery, of course, could never have been made if the Big Y test had not been taken, and it was made by working with the haplogroup project administrators. I am eternally grateful to Dr. Sergey Malyshev for this discovery and the following tree documenting our genetic lineage.

JakobLenz Malyshev chart

Our family heritage now extends back into Russia, 3500 years ago, instead of stopping in Germany, 400 or 500 years ago. This huge historical leap could NEVER have been made without the Big Y test in conjunction with the projects and administrators at Family Tree DNA.

And I must say, I’m incredibly glad we didn’t wait to order this test, because Mr. Lentz, my cousin who tested, died unexpectedly, just a couple months later. His daughter, when informing me of his death, expressed her gratitude for the test, the articles and shared with me that he had taken both articles to Staples, had them printed and bound as gifts for family members this Christmas.

These gifts will be quite bittersweet for those family members, but his DNA legacy lives on, just as the DNA of our ancestors does inside each and every one of us.  He gave all Lentz descendants an incredible gift.

Purchasing the Big Y

If you or a kit you manage has already tested to 37 markers, you can order the Big Y test as an upgrade.  If they haven’t yet tested to 37 markers, you’ll need to order that test or upgrade first.

Every kit has an upgrade link that you can see in two places on your personal page.

upgrade-link

Click either of these links and you’ll be able to see which tests are available for you to purchase including upgrades.

upgrades-available

The sale prices are reflected on this page. Just click on the Big Y or whatever tests you wish to purchase.

If you have a coupon code, type it into this field where I’ve typed “Coupon Code” and then click on Apply.

upgrade-big-y-checkout

It’s worth noting that there are a couple $100 off coupons for the Big Y and some $75s and $50s too.

Coupons

Now, for this week’s list of coupons. As always, first come, first serve. These coupons expire on 12-4-2016 unless otherwise noted. Dates before 12-4 are a result of bonus coupons issued during the past week as coupons were used.

Please list any coupons you wish to share in the comments to this article.

Please note that these coupons, with the exception of the Big Y test, are for new kit orders only, not upgrades.

Remember to be cognizant of the number 1 versus the capital letter l, and the number zero versus the capital letter O.

Click here to redeem coupon codes below or to see what coupon codes await you on your account!!! Enjoy!

Coupon # Good for What
R186H23O1CJY $10 Off MTDNA
R18UFAYP9YP1 $10 Off MTDNA
R18CM684KFTG $10 Off MTDNA
R18QQOEDDC2W $10 Off MTDNA
R18B6EQTQNZO $10 Off MTDNA
R18N16ONSWUM $10 Off MTDNA
R18T3EGHSFSJ $10 Off MTDNA
R18DK57J883L $10 Off MTDNA
R18ZAODYZ5OS $10 Off MTDNA
R18G3OZQCHBR $10 Off MTDNA
R1859WUSWKWO $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18P6S4FJWOM $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18KOGLXRX7O $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R185G17XWT3R $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18RJ37YR49M $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18KDQDDADVB $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R186LQRI8DS2 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18QSZB7A86T $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18IU4DK5NGW $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18IK8GMDD8C $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18U9XCYU1HO $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18OM4SXOL16 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AWCHIW45H $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R188VCTO38WC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AJXZEZEXC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R155WBEMG99 $100 Off Big Y
R18HMGLKL4KG $100 Off Big Y
R1834VTG4CIF $20 Off MTDNA
R18TRKWO2MY9 $20 Off MTDNA
R18OUBCTA2KI $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18ZXDH7TAX7 $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18OX18NFXJE $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AB7JDZ73O $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18XEKCN8GPH $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18UUAEIVMG9 $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1813Q24LQA7 $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R1853SS3IIQP $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R18BQFEFNWSL $40 Off MTFULL
R18M96WZ4X5F $40 Off MTFULL
R18O73U6Y51O $40 Off MTFULL
R18S53W9HXBC $40 Off MTFULL
R157Y5N3USEH $40 Off MTFULL (until 12-3 only)
R189ZHFFPSU3 $40 Off Y-DNA 111
R18XO6Q76XP{N $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R187Y9BO9ODH $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R18OFGORCM7E $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R189HMHY3N9D $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R18DMEO59OVO $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R15QHJMX45W7 $50 off Big Y
R18MKLR7L32P $50 off Big Y
R15GVYGX51MI $50 Off Big Y (Until 12-1 only)
R18H467ILEKD $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18AOZQU4XZG $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18QO8WNQNOZ $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R186Z9BJDZEC $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18HOPBNDKIL $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R188ODYMOO5P $75 Off Big Y
R15VBANUACFW 20% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R154JXYQPK6F 20% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111

Family Tree DNA 2016 Holiday Sale

An annual event we all look forward to, the Family Tree DNA Holiday sale is here with a new version of weekly gifts for everyone.

ftdna-holiday-2016

First, almost all of Family Tree DNA’s tests are on sale.

Family Finder and Bundles Regular Price Sale Price
Family Finder (for males and females) $79 $59
Family Finder + Y37 (males) $268 $188
Family Finder + Y67 (males) $367 $278
Comprehensive Genome (males) – Family Finder + Y 67 + mtDNA full sequence $566 $451.50
Family Finder +mitochondrial full sequence (males and females) $298 $228
Paternal (Male Only) Tests  
Y37 $169 $139
Y67 $268 $229
Y111 $359 $319
Big Y (Upgrade Only from Y Tests) $575 $525
Matrilineal (Male and Female) Tests  
MtDNA+ (HVR1+HVR2) $79 $79
mtFull Sequence (complete test) $199 $179

Additional Holiday Reward Coupon Savings

Second, there are additional “Holiday Reward” coupon savings e-mailed to every customer sometime after midnight Sunday Central Standard Time (meaning sometime on Monday) that provide additional savings on specific products. You can use these coupons on top of the sale prices to receive additional discounts – beginning with an extra $10 off.

If you don’t receive the e-mail right away, you can sign on to your account to see your coupon, at the top of your personal page with the green background that says “Holiday Reward.”  Be sure to check other accounts you manage as well.

ftdna-holiday-coupon

If you’re not going to use your coupons, you can share them by listing the amount and what they can be applied towards in the comments to this blog or by directly sending to someone via e-mail from your account.

Here’s my coupon for this week, and the first person to use it is welcome to the savings!.

ftdna-11-22-coupon

Furthermore, it gets better yet, because if you share your holiday rewards coupon, you will receive another coupon that may be better than the first one, depending on what you want to purchase – according to the e-mail from Family Tree DNA, below.

ftdna-second-coupon

Your personal page provides a second way for you to share your coupons in order to receive a second coupon before the following Monday. However, you will receive a second coupon regardless of whether you share through your account or by just giving someone your code (like on the list below.)

ftdna-coupon-sharing

Please feel free to list any coupons you may want to share, and what they are for, in the comments to the blog, like we have done every year. I will be listing my coupon codes available for usage each week as well.  Feel free to use the ones below and beware the difference between zero (0) and the letter capital O, and the number one (1) and the letter capital I.

Click here to use the coupons below or to see what coupons await you!!!

Coupon # Good for What
R16IYQIC4FZD $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16IW5OVTB52 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MIX3DXOYJ $40 OFF Y67
R16LQMMYCZOD $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16RCMN3BJN6 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16I85RHI8QC 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R163H7YVXHOK $50 Off Big Y
R16OS1AX7X8I 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R165K78FBHMY 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16UC39OU5F $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MD7L3UG3Q 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R163SVXYBR9A $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16ZX1JNQDTQ 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1685DXE53D9 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16L9CDAN31Z $20 Oiff MTDNA
R16J7VI9OFWN $20 Off MtDNA
R16U55JS9S2D 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16TPNKGFKHK $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R162B6TXJYMB $10 Off MTDNA
R16163G75WQ1 $40 OFF Y67
R16QAKWBYB0O 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16JYOR77GEO $100 Off Big Y
R16A4A69Y5A5 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16GOOWFAOON $10 Off MTDNA
R16W4JTXHOX6 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1643WY7WOQN $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16SZDSTDH9A $20 Off MtDNA
R16H1H6KOTP7 $20 Off MtDNA
R16LKDOQG3UF 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16POHVJ97YB $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R168OCU8PR14 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16UNAZTG2ZE $75 Off Big Y
R16OFCKVHOWY $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16K9YZRTYA8 $10 Off MTDNA
R16TL78JDKMS $20 Off MtDNA
R16O9JV4OTN6 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16EW3O2ZHYC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MVKTAVKY8 $40 off MTFULL
R16O3HF22OQH $10 Off MTDNA
R161SAUW7VX3 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16BTUFHPM1F $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16457PON7BE $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1667JIWJJRS $40 OFF Y67
R16DO4G9UF8L $50 Off Big Y
R165VL2OLBIZ $40 off MTFULL (used)
R162OJ2Y1CM6 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16R8O4M6F5U $50 Off Big Y
R164CHEXU2U9 $20 Off MtDNA
R167SSQG2SZK 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1672CFZN7KB $20 Off MtDNA

Happy Holidays and thank you, Family Tree DNA!

Conferences, Reunions and Flavors of Family

riddell

Jim Brewster (FTDNA), Gail Riddell (New Zealand), me with Linda Magellan peeking over Jim’s shoulder at the ISOGG reception at the 2016 FTDNA conference. Photo courtesy Gail Riddell.

What do you call an event where you’ve seen the same folks for a dozen years? An event that brings people from the far corners of the earth, literally? A conference that feels far more like a family reunion.

What do you call those people?

Family.

New family.  Old family.  Family of heart.  Sisters or brothers by another mother maybe.  Friends you just haven’t met yet.  And sometimes…real, honest to blood cousins.

The 12th annual international family reunion, er, I mean International Genetic Genealogy Conference sponsored by Family Tree DNA occurred this past weekend in Houston.  I’m still on the road, typing on a tiny keyboard, and I really can’t do it justice just yet but I want to take this opportunity to send you a couple teasers and just to say how wonderful it was to see everyone again.

Sadly, some were missing.  Hopefully we’ll see them next year.  Unfortunately, a few have passed over to where genealogists get to meet all of their ancestors, so we have to cherish their memories and hope they will help out by sending us answers from their current location.

It’s hard to believe it has been a dozen years now.  The first conference was in 2004 – a one day event in Houston.  Little could we know or dream what the next decade+ would bring.

Another thing I find amazing is just how many people in this group of 230 or so people I am related to in one way or another.  All of these, bar none, were discovered via DNA testing.  Whoever would guess that in a room of 230 random people you would find several cousins? Certainly makes you wonder looking around the bus, at the people at work or in a restaurant.  How many share your ancestors?

I’m still on the road and will be for a few days, so you’ll get an article to do the conference justice when I get home.  In the mean time, I encourage you to read Jennifer Zinck’s wonderful summary articles on her blog, Ancestor Central.  Jen can type much faster than I ever could and she is able to listen at the same time too. The bad news is that there were several breakout sessions that ran concurrently and Jen can only be in one place at a time.  We have not yet defied the laws of physics.

Jen and I discovered that we have Mayflower ancestors in common, in addition to being friends – having met at this same conference years ago.  There just might be another ancestor trip in the planning stages….just saying.

Speaking of Jen, she contributed the photo below.  Many thanks, Jen.

We had a once-in-a-lifetime special event at the conference this year. Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan were presented with rather unique Lifetime Achievement Awards by the genetic genealogy community.  Max and Bennett were both very grateful, not to mention….nearly speechless, a second once-in-a-lifetime event!

img_7231

Left to right: Linda Magellan, Roberta Estes (talking), Max Blankfeld, Bennett Greenspan, Nora Probasco and Katherine Borges. Photo courtesy Jennifer Zinck.

As many of you may know, I’m a quilter and yes, I made the double helix quilts.  I asked Katherine Borges, Linda Magellan and Nora Probasco to help me with the presentation process since I could not hold up 4 corners of two quilts by myself….and these ladies have attended all 12 conferences as well.  Not to mention, they are quilters – so they were glad to be co-conspirators.

We were all very honored to present these awards and want to thank Janine Cloud at FTDNA for clandestinely working us into the schedule without raising suspicion!  While that sounds easy, believe me, it wasn’t.

I will be writing an article about Max, Bennett and the awards shortly, and a separate article about the quilts themselves.

Until then, I’m still basking in the glow of two days of hugs, meals with friends, collaboration, and newly discovered information and opportunities. I encourage each of you to find a reunion or conference to attend so you can have the same wonderful experience.  There is just nothing better than family, regardless of which kind of family you have – of blood or of heart – or maybe yet-to-be-met!

Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup Y

Pam, a lady with very interesting mitochondrial DNA, recently asked me about mitochondrial haplogroup Y1, and if it had ever been found in the Native American population. The answer, as best I knew, was a resounding “no.”

Pam told me that she had only found about 15 people who were of that haplogroup and most of them are East Asian. Her most distant matrilineal ancestor is from Slovakia as is her full sequence exact match at Family tree DNA. A more distant match’s most distant ancestor was born in Istanbul, but immigrated there from someplace in Europe, possibly the Ukraine or Slovakia. A third match’s immediate family was from the Ukraine near Belarus from the 1880s.

The migration map provided by Family Tree DNA tells us the following about haplogroup Y:

ftdna-mtdna-y

Given that this haplogroup is primarily eastern Asian, Pam wondered if there was any possibility that this was a “sleeper” haplogroup and had been found in the Native American population since the most recent papers had been published.

Good question. Let’s take a look.

The History of Mitochondrial Haplogroup Y

Haplogroup Y evolved from haplogroup N9 that evolved from haplogroup N that evolved from haplogroup L3, which was African.

  • L3
  • N
  • N9
  • Y
  • Y1

As a National Geographic Genographic Affiliate Researcher, I decided to take a look at what information the Genographic Project might reveal about mtDNA haplogroup Y. For starters, the Genographic project provides a nice compact tree in their research database.

nat-geo-mtdna-y

I created a chart combining the subgroups of haplogroup Y, the age of each group, the standard deviation for each subgroup, the defining mutations as provided by the Genographic project (Phylotree Version 16) and the oldest maternal birth locations for haplogroup Y subgroup participants in the Genographic Project. The age should be read as “most likely 24,576 but the range would be from 17,493-31,659 years ago.” I would simply say that haplogroup Y was born about 25,000 years ago. If you think of a bell shaped curve, 24,576 would be the top of the bell and the tails, which are increasingly less likely would extend 7,083 years in both directions.

Haplogroup Age per Dr. Doron Behar Standard Deviation (+-) RSRS Defining Mutations (Genographic V 16) Genographic Oldest Maternal Birth Locations Other
Y 24,576 7,083 G8392A, A10398G!, T14178C, A14693G, T16126C, T16223C, T16231C China (2)
Y1 14,689 5,264 T146C!, G3834A, (C16266T) Slovakia, Czech, Poland, China, Korea (2)
Y1a 7,467 5526 A7933G, T16189C! None
Y1b 9,222 4,967 A10097G, C15460T

 

None
Y1b1 G15221A Russia, Korea
Y1b1a C9278T none
Y2 7,279 2,894 T482C, G5147A, T6941C, F7859A, A14914G, A15244G, T16311C! Simonstown, Western Cape, South Africa “coloured”
Y2a 4,929 2,789 T12161C Philippines
Y2a1 2.488 2,658 T11299C Philippines (8), Sumatra Indonesia, Spain, Malaysia, China, Ireland
Y2a1a C2856T, G13135A none
Y2b 1,741 3,454 C338T none

Unfortunately, there is no mitochondrial haplogroup Y project at Family Tree DNA, so I can’t do any comparisons there.

This article at WikiPedia provides a chart of where mtDNA haplogroup Y has been found in academic studies, along with the following verbiage:

Haplogroup Y has been found with high frequency in many indigenous populations who live around the Sea of Okhotsk, including approximately 66% of Nivkhs, approximately 38% of Ulchs, approximately 21% of Negidals, and approximately 20% of Ainus. It is also fairly common among indigenous peoples of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Koryaks, Itelmens) and Maritime Southeast Asia.

The distribution of haplogroup Y in populations of the Malay Archipelago contrasts starkly with the absence or extreme rarity of this haplogroup in populations of continental Southeast Asia in a manner reminiscent of haplogroup E. However, the frequency of haplogroup Y fades more smoothly away from its maximum around the Sea of Okhotsk in Northeast Asia, being found in approximately 2% of Koreans and in South Siberian and Central Asian populations with an average frequency of 1%.

Its subclade Y2 has been observed in 40% (176/440) of a large pool of samples from Nias in western Indonesia, ranging from a low of 25% (3/12) among the Zalukhu subpopulation to a high of 52% (11/21) among the Ho subpopulation.

Summary

Given that the Native people migrated from far eastern Asia, in Siberia, sometime between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago, we can see that Y1a, for example, is too young to be among that group – given that this haplogroup was born in Asia only around 7,500 years ago. However, it could be possible to find Y1 or Y or even a subgroup of Y not found in Asia or Europe in the Americas, but alas, to date, that has not materialized, nor have any pre-contact burials been found in the Americas that include mitochondrial haplogroup Y or of any subgroup.

How did haplogroup Y, an East Asian haplogroup, come to be found in eastern Europe?  Probably the same way my Lentz male Y DNA came to be found in Germany, as well as within the Yamnaya ancient remains found north of the Black Sea in Russia from some 3,500 years ago.  We can very probably thank the repeated invasions of what is now Europe from what is now Asia for bringing many of the haplogroups found in present day Eastern Europe – including Y1.  This map of the Genghis Kahn empire and troop movements in the 1200s might provide clues.

genghis khan map

By derivative work: Bkkbrad (talk)Gengis_Khan_empire-fr.svg: historicair 17:01, 8 October 2007 (UTC) – Gengis_Khan_empire-fr.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4534962

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank: