Introducing The Triangulator

Goran Runfeldt, a fellow genetic genealogist, has developed a killer app. You’ve heard of “The Terminator?” Well, meet “The Triangulator.”

Goran developed the Family Finder Segment Triangulator tool to run, using a user script or browser extension, on the Family Tree DNA site, after you sign in to your personal page. So there is no downloading, no spreadsheets, nothing messy.

The Triangulator tool is still in beta, so while the documentation is rather sparse, the tool is extremely intuitive if you understand triangulation.

What is Triangulation?

If you don’t understand triangulation, what it is, how it differs from match groups, and why you would want to utilize triangulation, may I please suggest that you read the following articles before utilizing the tool.

Concepts – Why Genetic Genealogy and Triangulation?

Concepts – Match Groups and Triangulation

Triangulation for Autosomal DNA

In a nutshell, triangulation provides you with a tool to show that not only do person A and B match you, on the same segment, but that they also match each other.

This means that they are not matching you on the same segment number from opposite sides of your family, meaning one person matching you from your mother’s side, and one from your father’s side. If they match other, as well as you, that means that they both descend from the same side of your tree (assuming they are not both matching you identically by chance.)

Family Tree DNA shows you, utilizing the chromosome browser, that two people match you, and on the same segment, but they don’t (yet) inform you about triangulation, although they are working on a triangulation tool.

Chromosome Browser

In the following example, we have 5 known relatives to Barbara, whose background chromosome is black. As you can see, there are three possible triangulation points where at least two of the people match Barbara.

Just to be sure, I downloaded these matches to a spreadsheet to illustrate that these matches are not trivial in size – meaning based on their size, they certainly should be legitimate matches.

All three matching areas on this chromosome (grey, gold and blue) are large enough to be considered substantial, and when compared to the charts created by Philip Gammon in the Match-Maker-Breaker article, we see that there is almost no likelihood that these are false matches, or matches by chance. In that article, when phasing matches to parents, we demonstrated that 97% of the matches of 12cM or more and/or SNP density of 2800 or more phase to one or the other parent, meaning they are legitimate matches. At 15cM, 100% of a child’s matches also match a parent, except for the X chromosome.

All of these cousins descend from Barbara’s paternal side, from the same family line, so the chances are pretty good that they do all triangulate, but let’s see.

Installing the Triangulator

First, you’ll need to install the triangulator.

My choice is to utilize the tool in Chrome, as I had difficulties with Internet Explorer compatibility. Chrome works just fine.

Goran has provided installation instructions for various browsers here.

If you’re installing this tool in Chrome, be sure to sign in to the Chrome web store while using Chrome to install the free app, or the store will ask you to download Chrome.

The installation is super easy – just one click, literally.

Triangulating

Ok, now the hardest part is over and we can get busy triangulating right away.

Sign in to your account at Family Tree DNA, using the browser where you just installed the tool.

Click on your Family Finder matches.

You’ll notice something new right away, a new icon that says “dnagen tools” at the top of your Family Finder matches. That’s the Triangulator.

On your match list, select the people you want to triangulate, just like you were selecting the people to compare in the chromosome browser.

Your comparison list will be built, like always, on the lower left hand side of your screen.

To triangulate, instead of clicking on the Chromosome Browser button, you’re going to click on the new dnagentools icon.

You’ll see a little dropdown box that says “Triangulator.”

Just click on “Triangulator.”

That’s it.

Processing…

You’ll see the progress bar as the tool calculates the relationships of the people you are triangulating to each other.

When the tool finishes, it switches to the Triangulated Segment tab, which is what everyone wants to see first, but you can always click on the Relationships tab to view the various relationships of the people you selected to each other.

All of the genetically estimated relationship of all of the people you’ve triangulated to every other person in the group are displayed.

Triangulated Segments

When the Triangulator is finished, you’ll see the “Triangulated Segments,” tab displayed, assuming some segments do triangulate, with a small image of the chromosome beneath each triangulated segment.  The area where the segments match to you is colored in orange and where the segments all triangulate is colored in red.

Additionally, the tool shows you the actual overlap range, the number of matching positions and the overlapping number of SNPs as well.

If you think you’ve died and gone to triangulation heaven, you have.

Downloadable Data

In order for you to easily transfer this information to your spreadsheets where you are triangulating your segments (you are, aren’t you???) and assigning segments to ancestors, Goran has provided a nifty tool for that too.

At the bottom, Goran has included downloads of:

  • All matching segments for these people
  • The triangulated segments for these people over the match threshold selected, which defaults to 5, same as the chromosome browser
  • The relationships of these people to each other

Yes, you can lower the threshold, but just remember that as you do, the chances of the segments being identical by chance increases.

The Answer to Our Problem – Triangulation is Critical

In case you’ve gotten all excited about triangulating and forgotten that we were in the middle of a story problem, let’s look at our answer.

If you recall, there were three candidate regions for triangulating between Barbara’s known cousins on chromosome 3.

However, the Triangulator only shows two triangulating segments, the first and third. That means that the second of these large segments does NOT triangulate. That means that one of these third cousins matches Barbara on that segment in one of these three ways:

  • By chance
  • Because the overlapping matching region is too small to be considered a match
  • One person matches from Barbara’s mother’s side and one from her father’s side – as unlikely as that seems with third cousins.

The most likely reason for non-triangulation is the third reason, given those large matching segment segment sizes.

While the first and third (grey and blue) segment match groups both triangulate, the middle (gold) region does not.

If you’re shocked, just remember that no matter how intuitive a match seems, and no matter how “sure” you are that two people from the same line of your family certainly must triangulate because they both match you on the same segment, without triangulation, you REALLY DON’T KNOW!

And you all know about assume, right? Been there, done that, got educated!

Triangulate removes the assume from the equation.

In this case, triangulation tells me that I need to look on Barbara’s mother’s side for a second common ancestor with either C. Lentz or W. Lentz.

Just so you know, I was suspicious of this result, but given that I have access directly to the kits of both C. and W. Lentz, because I tested them both, I verified that they don’t match each other on this segment, both at Family Tree DNA and at GedMatch.  So this is no mistake.

Support

This triangulation tool is a “goodness of heart” free application shared with the genetic genealogy community, and while Goran is willing to share, he doesn’t really want his inbox to be swamped. In the tool, he provides the following support information.

Goran follows the ISOGG Facebook group, so posting questions there will provide answers for you, and maybe for someone else following along too.

What if I Haven’t Tested at Family Tree DNA?

The Triangulator tool requires chromosome segment data, thankfully provided by Family Tree DNA. Therefore, this tool is not available for use with Ancestry data at Ancestry. You can, however, download your Ancestry DNA file to Family Tree DNA. Not everyone who tests at each vendor uploads to other places, so be sure to fish in all of the ponds, one way or another.

You can read about which vendors’ files are compatible to transfer to Family Tree DNA (and other places too) in the article Autosomal DNA Transfers – Which Companies Accept Which Tests?

The following chart shows transfer Files Accepted at Family Tree DNA.

Vendor Fully Compatible Version Partially Compatible Version Incompatible Version
Ancestry V1 – until May 2016 V2 – after May 2016 to present
23andMe V3 – until Nov. 2013 V4 – Nov. 2013 – Aug. 2017 V5 – Aug. 2017 to present
MyHeritage All

Keep in mind that the current V5 version of the 23andMe test is not compatible at all at Family Tree DNA. The 23andMe V4 version, in use between November of 2013 and August of 2017 is only partially compatible, as is the Ancestry V2 version in use since May 2016.

If you upload partially compatible versions, you’ll receive your closest (meaning largest) matches, generally about 20-25 % of your matches that you would receive if you tested on the Family Tree DNA platform.  However, you’ll be missing most of your matches, and you never know where that match you desperately need is hiding.

Note that this isn’t an artificial restriction imposed by Family Tree DNA, it’s a function of the other vendor’s chips only being partially compatible with the DNA processing chip used by Family Tree DNA.

If you want to see all of your matches and all of your segments, purchase the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA.

Thank You

A really big thank you to Goran and the user interface developer, Jonas, for this wonderful tool.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossary – DNA – Deoxyribonucleic Acid

What is DNA and why do I care?

Good questions. Let’s take a look at the answer in general, then why we use DNA for genealogy.

The Recipe for You

DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is the book of life for all organisms. In essence, it’s the recipe for you – and what makes you unique.

DNA is formed of strands that twist to form the familiar double helix pattern.

The two strands are joined together by one of 4 different nucleotides, one extending from each side to connect in the middle. The nucleotides are:

  • Cytosine – C
  • Guanine – G
  • Thymine – T
  • Adenine – A

The nucleotide names don’t really matter for genetic genealogy, but what does matter is that the sequence of these nucleotides when chained together is what encodes information on long structures called chromosomes. Each person carries 22 chromosomes, plus the 23rd chromosome pair which is gender specific.

Using DNA for Genetic Genealogy

There are four different kinds of DNA that genealogists use in different ways for obtaining ancestors’ information relevant to genetic genealogy. Thankfully, we have 4 different kinds of DNA available to us because of unique inheritance patterns for each kind of DNA – meaning we inherited different kinds of DNA from different ancestral paths. If one kind of DNA doesn’t work in a particular situation, chances are good that another type will.

Genetic genealogy makes use of 4 different types of DNA.

  • Y DNA – passed from males to male children, only (your father’s paternal line)
  • Mitochondrial DNA – passed from females to both genders of children, but only females pass it on (your mother’s matrilineal line)

Y and mitochondrial DNA inheritance paths are shown on a pedigree chart in the graphic below, with the blue boxes representing Y DNA and the red circles representing mitochondrial DNA inheritance.

In addition to Y and mitochondrial DNA, genetic genealogists also use two kinds of DNA that reflect inheritance from additional ancestral lines, in addition to the red and blue lines shown above – meaning the ancestral lines with no color.

  • Autosomal DNA – the 22 chromosomes that recombine during reproduction.
  • X Chromosome – always contributed by the mother, but only contributed by the father to female children – this is the 23rd chromosome pair which recombines with a unique inheritance pattern.  You can read more about that in the article, X Marks the Spot.

Receiving What Kind of DNA from Whom

While the Y and mitochondrial DNA have unique and very prescribed inheritance patterns as shown by the red arrows pointing to the blue Y chromosome below at far left, and the red mitochondrial circles at far right, the 22 autosomal chromosomes are contributed equally by each parent. In other words, for each chromosome, a child inherits half of each parent’s DNA. How the selection of which DNA is contributed to each child is unknown.

A child’s gender is determined by the parent’s contributions to the 23rd chromosome, not shown above. The following chart explains gender determination by the X and Y combinations of the 23rd chromosome.

Received from Mother Received from Father
Male child X Y
Female child X X

The Y chromosome is what makes males male.

No Y chromosome?  You’re a female.

However, this X chromosome inheritance pattern provides us with the ability to look at X matches for males and know immediately that they had to have come from his mother’s lineage – because males don’t inherit an X chromosome from their father.

Autosomal DNA and Genetic Genealogy

The 22 non-gender chromosomes recombine in each generation, with half of each chromosome being contributed by each parent, as shown in the illustrations above.

You can see that in the first generation, the child received one blue and one yellow, or one pink and one green, chromosome. In giving each child exactly half of their DNA, each parent contributes some amount of ancestral DNA from generations upstream, as you can see in the mother/father and son/daughter generations.

For example, each child receives, on average, 25% of each of their grandparent’s DNA – although they can receive somewhat more or less than 25%, depending on the random nature of recombination.

Therefore, genetic genealogy testing companies compare tester’s autosomal DNA with other testers and look for common segments contributed by common ancestors, resulting in autosomal matching.

When relatively large segments match between three or more relatives who are not immediate family, we can attribute that DNA to a common ancestor. Of course, the challenge, and the thrill, is to determine which common ancestor contributed that common DNA to our triangulated match group. It’s a great way to verify our research and to break down brick walls.

Let’s face it, you received ALL of your DNA from SOME combination of ancestors, and if you carry large enough pieces from any specific ancestor, we can, hopefully, identify the source of that DNA segment by looking at the genealogy of those we match on that segment.

It’s a great puzzle to unravel, and best of all, it’s the puzzle of you.

More Info

The great news is that you can utilize your Y DNA, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA differently, to provide you with different kinds of information about different ancestors and genealogy lines.

If you’d like to read more about how the 4 Kinds of DNA can be used, please read the short article, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.

You can also enter any word or phrase into the search box in the upper right hand corner of this blog to find additional useful information about any topic.

If You Want to Test

If you’d like to learn more about the various kinds of DNA tests available, and which one or ones would be the best for you, please read the article, Which DNA Test is Best?

Right now, the Y DNA, mitochondrial and autosomal (Family Finder) tests are on sale at Family Tree DNA, through the end of August, 2017.

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

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

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

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

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

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

Concepts – Segment Size, Legitimate and False Matches

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match!

One of the questions I often receive about autosomal DNA is, “What, EXACTLY, is a match?”  The answer at first glance seems evident, meaning when you and someone else are shown on each other’s match lists, but it really isn’t that simple.

What I’d like to discuss today is what actually constitutes a match – and the difference between legitimate or real matches and false matches, also called false positives.

Let’s look at a few definitions before we go any further.

Definitions

  • A Match – when you and another person are found on each other’s match lists at a testing vendor. You may match that person on one or more segments of DNA.
  • Matching Segment – when a particular segment of DNA on a particular chromosome matches to another person. You may have multiple segment matches with someone, if they are closely related, or only one segment match if they are more distantly related.
  • False Match – also known as a false positive match. This occurs when you match someone that is not identical by descent (IBD), but identical by chance (IBC), meaning that your DNA and theirs just happened to match, as a happenstance function of your mother and father’s DNA aligning in such a way that you match the other person, but neither your mother or father match that person on that segment.
  • Legitimate Match – meaning a match that is a result of the DNA that you inherited from one of your parents. This is the opposite of a false positive match.  Legitimate matches are identical by descent (IBD.)  Some IBD matches are considered to be identical by population, (IBP) because they are a result of a particular DNA segment being present in a significant portion of a given population from which you and your match both descend. Ideally, legitimate matches are not IBP and are instead indicative of a more recent genealogical ancestor that can (potentially) be identified.

You can read about Identical by Descent and Identical by Chance here.

  • Endogamy – an occurrence in which people intermarry repeatedly with others in a closed community, effectively passing the same DNA around and around in descendants without introducing different/new DNA from non-related individuals. People from endogamous communities, such as Jewish and Amish groups, will share more DNA and more small segments of DNA than people who are not from endogamous communities.  Fully endogamous individuals have about three times as many autosomal matches as non-endogamous individuals.
  • False Negative Match – a situation where someone doesn’t match that should. False negatives are very difficult to discern.  We most often see them when a match is hovering at a match threshold and by lowing the threshold slightly, the match is then exposed.  False negative segments can sometimes be detected when comparing DNA of close relatives and can be caused by read errors that break a segment in two, resulting in two segments that are too small to be reported individually as a match.  False negatives can also be caused by population phasing which strips out segments that are deemed to be “too matchy” by Ancestry’s Timber algorithm.
  • Parental or Family Phasing – utilizing the DNA of your parents or other close family members to determine which side of the family a match derives from. Actual phasing means to determine which parts of your DNA come from which parent by comparing your DNA to at least one, if not both parents.  The results of phasing are that we can identify matches to family groups such as the Phased Family Finder results at Family Tree DNA that designate matches as maternal or paternal based on phased results for you and family members, up to third cousins.
  • Population Based Phasing – In another context, phasing can refer to academic phasing where some DNA that is population based is removed from an individual’s results before matching to others. Ancestry does this with their Timber program, effectively segmenting results and sometimes removing valid IBD segments.  This is not the type of phasing that we will be referring to in this article and parental/family phasing should not be confused with population/academic phasing.

IBD and IBC Match Examples

It’s important to understand the definitions of Identical by Descent and Identical by Chance.

I’ve created some easy examples.

Let’s say that a match is defined as any 10 DNA locations in a row that match.  To keep this comparison simple, I’m only showing 10 locations.

In the examples below, you are the first person, on the left, and your DNA strands are showing.  You have a pink strand that you inherited from Mom and a blue strand inherited from Dad.  Mom’s 10 locations are all filled with A and Dad’s locations are all filled with T.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t keep your Mom’s and Dad’s strands on one side or the other, so their DNA is mixed together in you.  In other words, you can’t tell which parts of your DNA are whose.  However, for our example, we’re keeping them separate because it’s easier to understand that way.

Legitimate Match – Identical by Descent from Mother

matches-ibd-mom

In the example above, Person B, your match, has all As.  They will match you and your mother, both, meaning the match between you and person B is identical by descent.  This means you match them because you inherited the matching DNA from your mother. The matching DNA is bordered in black.

Legitimate Match – Identical by Descent from Father

In this second example, Person C has all T’s and matches both you and your Dad, meaning the match is identical by descent from your father’s side.

matches-ibd-dad

You can clearly see that you can have two different people match you on the same exact segment location, but not match each other.  Person B and Person C both match you on the same location, but they very clearly do not match each other because Person B carries your mother’s DNA and Person C carries your father’s DNA.  These three people (you, Person B and Person C) do NOT triangulate, because B and C do not match each other.  The article, “Concepts – Match Groups and Triangulation” provides more details on triangulation.

Triangulation is how we prove that individuals descend from a common ancestor.

If Person B and Person C both descended from your mother’s side and matched you, then they would both carry all As in those locations, and they would match you, your mother and each other.  In this case, they would triangulate with you and your mother.

False Positive or Identical by Chance Match

This third example shows that Person D does technically match you, because they have all As and Ts, but they match you by zigzagging back and forth between your Mom’s and Dad’s DNA strands.  Of course, there is no way for you to know this without matching Person D against both of your parents to see if they match either parent.  If your match does not match either parent, the match is a false positive, meaning it is not a legitimate match.  The match is identical by chance (IBC.)

matches-ibc

One clue as to whether a match is IBC or IBD, even without your parents, is whether the person matches you and other close relatives on this same segment.  If not, then the match may be IBC. If the match also matches close relatives on this segment, then the match is very likely IBD.  Of course, the segment size matters too, which we’ll discuss momentarily.

If a person triangulates with 2 or more relatives who descend from the same ancestor, then the match is identical by descent, and not identical by chance.

False Negative Match

This last example shows a false negative.  The DNA of Person E had a read error at location 5, meaning that there are not 10 locations in a row that match.  This causes you and Person E to NOT be shown as a match, creating a false negative situation, because you actually do match if Person E hadn’t had the read error.

matches-false-negative

Of course, false negatives are by definition very hard to identify, because you can’t see them.

Comparisons to Your Parents

Legitimate matches will phase to your parents – meaning that you will match Person B on the same amount of a specific segment, or a smaller portion of that segment, as one of your parents.

False matches mean that you match the person, but neither of your parents matches that person, meaning that the segment in question is identical by chance, not by descent.

Comparing your matches to both of your parents is the easiest litmus paper test of whether your matches are legitimate or not.  Of course, the caveat is that you must have both of your parents available to fully phase your results.

Many of us don’t have both parents available to test, so let’s take a look at how often false positive matches really do occur.

False Positive Matches

How often do false matches really happen?

The answer to that question depends on the size of the segments you are comparing.

Very small segments, say at 1cM, are very likely to match randomly, because they are so small.  You can read more about SNPs and centiMorgans (cM) here.

As a rule of thumb, the larger the matching segment as measured in cM, with more SNPs in that segment:

  • The stronger the match is considered to be
  • The more likely the match is to be IBD and not IBC
  • The closer in time the common ancestor, facilitating the identification of said ancestor

Just in case we forget sometimes, identifying ancestors IS the purpose of genetic genealogy, although it seems like we sometimes get all geeked out by the science itself and process of matching!  (I can hear you thinking, “speak for yourself, Roberta.”)

It’s Just a Phase!!!

Let’s look at an example of phasing a child’s matches against those of their parents.

In our example, we have a non-endogamous female child (so they inherit an X chromosome from both parents) whose matches are being compared to her parents.

I’m utilizing files from Family Tree DNA. Ancestry does not provide segment data, so Ancestry files can’t be used.  At 23andMe, coordinating the security surrounding 3 individuals results and trying to make sure that the child and both parents all have access to the same individuals through sharing would be a nightmare, so the only vendor’s results you can reasonably utilize for phasing is Family Tree DNA.

You can download the matches for each person by chromosome segment by selecting the chromosome browser and the “Download All Matches to Excel (CSV Format)” at the top right above chromosome 1.

matches-chromosomr-browser

All segment matches 1cM and above will be downloaded into a CSV file, which I then save as an Excel spreadsheet.

I downloaded the files for both parents and the child. I deleted segments below 3cM.

About 75% of the rows in the files were segments below 3cM. In part, I deleted these segments due to the sheer size and the fact that the segment matching was a manual process.  In part, I did this because I already knew that segments below 3 cM weren’t terribly useful.

Rows Father Mother Child
Total 26,887 20,395 23,681
< 3 cM removed 20,461 15,025 17,784
Total Processed 6,426 5,370 5,897

Because I have the ability to phase these matches against both parents, I wanted to see how many of the matches in each category were indeed legitimate matches and how many were false positives, meaning identical by chance.

How does one go about doing that, exactly?

Downloading the Files

Let’s talk about how to make this process easy, at least as easy as possible.

Step one is downloading the chromosome browser matches for all 3 individuals, the child and both parents.

First, I downloaded the child’s chromosome browser match file and opened the spreadsheet.

Second, I downloaded the mother’s file, colored all of her rows pink, then appended the mother’s rows into the child’s spreadsheet.

Third, I did the same with the father’s file, coloring his rows blue.

After I had all three files in one spreadsheet, I sorted the columns by segment size and removed the segments below 3cM.

Next, I sorted the remaining items on the spreadsheet, in order, by column, as follows:

  • End
  • Start
  • Chromosome
  • Matchname

matches-both-parents

My resulting spreadsheet looked like this.  Sorting in the order prescribed provides you with the matches to each person in chromosome and segment order, facilitating easy (OK, relatively easy) visual comparison for matching segments.

I then colored all of the child’s NON-matching segments green so that I could see (and eventually filter the matchname column by) the green color indicating that they were NOT matches.  Do this only for the child, or the white (non-colored) rows.  The child’s matchname only gets colored green if there is no corresponding match to a parent for that same person on that same chromosome segment.

matches-child-some-parents

All of the child’s matches that DON’T have a corresponding parent match in pink or blue for that same person on that same segment will be colored green.  I’ve boxed the matches so you can see that they do match, and that they aren’t colored green.

In the above example, Donald and Gaff don’t match either parent, so they are all green.  Mess does match the father on some segments, so those segments are boxed, but the rest of Mess doesn’t match a parent, so is colored green.  Sarah doesn’t match any parent, so she is entirely green.

Yes, you do manually have to go through every row on this combined spreadsheet.

If you’re going to phase your matches against your parent or parents, you’ll want to know what to expect.  Just because you’ve seen one match does not mean you’ve seen them all.

What is a Match?

So, finally, the answer to the original question, “What is a Match?”  Yes, I know this was the long way around the block.

In the exercise above, we weren’t evaluating matches, we were just determining whether or not the child’s match also matched the parent on the same segment, but sometimes it’s not clear whether they do or do not match.

matches-child-mess

In the case of the second match with Mess on chromosome 11, above, the starting and ending locations, and the number of cM and segments are exactly the same, so it’s easy to determine that Mess matches both the child and the father on chromosome 11. All matches aren’t so straightforward.

Typical Match

matches-typical

This looks like your typical match for one person, in this case, Cecelia.  The child (white rows) matches Cecelia on three segments that don’t also match the child’s mother (pink rows.)  Those non-matching child’s rows are colored green in the match column.  The child matches Cecelia on two segments that also match the mother, on chromosome 20 and the X chromosome.  Those matching segments are boxed in black.

The segments in both of these matches have exact overlaps, meaning they start and end in exactly the same location, but that’s not always the case.

And for the record, matches that begin and/or end in the same location are NOT more likely to be legitimate matches than those that start and end in different locations.  Vendors use small buckets for matching, and if you fall into any part of the bucket, even if your match doesn’t entirely fill the bucket, the bucket is considered occupied.  So what you’re seeing are the “fuzzy” bucket boundaries.

(Over)Hanging Chad

matches-overhanging

In this case, Chad’s match overhangs on each end.  You can see that Chad’s match to the child begins at 52,722,923 before the mother’s match at 53,176,407.

At the end location, the child’s matching segment also extends beyond the mother’s, meaning the child matches Chad on a longer segment than the mother.  This means that the segment sections before 53,176,407 and after 61,495,890 are false negative matches, because Chad does not also match the child’s mother of these portions of the segment.

This segment still counts as a match though, because on the majority of the segment, Chad does match both the child and the mother.

Nested Match

matches-nested

This example shows a nested match, where the parent’s match to Randy begins before the child’s and ends after the child’s, meaning that the child’s matching DNA segment to Randy is entirely nested within the mother’s.  In other words, pieces got shaved off of both ends of this segment when the child was inheriting from her mother.

No Common Matches

matches-no-common

Sometimes, the child and the parent will both match the same person, but there are no common segments.  Don’t read more into this than what it is.  The child’s matches to Mary are false matches.  We have no way to judge the mother’s matches, except for segment size probability, which we’ll discuss shortly.

Look Ma, No Parents

matches-no-parents

In this case, the child matches Don on 5 segments, including a reasonably large segment on chromosome 9, but there are no matches between Don and either parent.  I went back and looked at this to be sure I hadn’t missed something.

This could, possibly, be an instance of an unseen a false negative, meaning perhaps there is a read issue in the parent’s file on chromosome 9, precluding a match.  However, in this case, since Family Tree DNA does report matches down to 1cM, it would have to be an awfully large read error for that to occur.  Family Tree DNA does have quality control standards in place and each file must pass the quality threshold to be put into the matching data base.  So, in this case, I doubt that the problem is a false negative.

Just because there are multiple IBC matches to Don doesn’t mean any of those are incorrect.  It’s just the way that the DNA is inherited and it’s why this type of a match is called identical by chance – the key word being chance.

Split Match

matches-split

This split match is very interesting.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that Diane matches Mom on the entire segment on chromosome 12, but the child’s match is broken into two.  However, the number of SNPs adds up to the same, and the number of cM is close.  This suggests that there is a read error in the child’s file forcing the child’s match to Diane into two pieces.

If the segments broken apart were smaller, under the match threshold, and there were no other higher matches on other segments, this match would not be shown and would fall into the False Negative category.  However, since that’s not the case, it’s a legitimate match and just falls into the “interesting” category.

The Deceptive Match

matches-surname

Don’t be fooled by seeing a family name in the match column and deciding it’s a legitimate match.  Harrold is a family surname and Mr. Harrold does not match either of the child’s parents, on any segment.  So not a legitimate match, no matter how much you want it to be!

Suspicious Match – Probably not Real

matches-suspicious

This technically is a match, because part of the DNA that Daryl matches between Mom and the child does overlap, from 111,236,840 to 113,275,838.  However, if you look at the entire match, you’ll notice that not a lot of that segment overlaps, and the number of cMs is already low in the child’s match.  There is no way to calculate the number of cMs and SNPs in the overlapping part of the segment, but suffice it to say that it’s smaller, and probably substantially smaller, than the 3.32 total match for the child.

It’s up to you whether you actually count this as a match or not.  I just hope this isn’t one of those matches you REALLY need.  However, in this case, the Mom’s match at 15.46 cM is 99% likely to be a legitimate match, so you really don’t need the child’s match at all!!!

So, Judge Judy, What’s the Verdict?

How did our parental phasing turn out?  What did we learn?  How many segments matched both the child and a parent, and how many were false matches?

In each cM Size category below, I’ve included the total number of child’s match rows found in that category, the number of parent/child matches, the percent of parent/child matches, the number of matches to the child that did NOT match the parent, and the percent of non-matches. A non-match means a false match.

So, what the verdict?

matches-parent-child-phased-segment-match-chart

It’s interesting to note that we just approach the 50% mark for phased matches in the 7-7.99 cM bracket.

The bracket just beneath that, 6-6.99 shows only a 30% parent/child match rate, as does 5-5.99.  At 3 cM and 4 cM few matches phase to the parents, but some do, and could potentially be useful in groups of people descended from a known common ancestor and in conjunction with larger matches on other segments. Certainly segments at 3 cM and 4 cM alone aren’t very reliable or useful, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t potentially be used in other contexts, nor are they always wrong. The smaller the segment, the less confidence we can have based on that segment alone, at least below 9-15cM.

Above the 50% match level, we quickly reach the 90th percentile in the 9-9.99 cM bracket, and above 10 cM, we’re virtually assured of a phased match, but not quite 100% of the time.

It isn’t until we reach the 16cM category that we actually reach the 100% bracket, and there is still an outlier found in the 18-18.99 cM group.

I went back and checked all of the 10 cM and over non-matches to verify that I had not made an error.  If I made errors, they were likely counting too many as NON-matches, and not the reverse, meaning I failed to visually identify matches.  However, with almost 6000 spreadsheet rows for the child, a few errors wouldn’t affect the totals significantly or even noticeably.

I hope that other people in non-endogamous populations will do the same type of double parent phasing and report on their results in the same type of format.  This experiment took about 2 days.

Furthermore, I would love to see this same type of experiment for endogamous families as well.

Summary

If you can phase your matches to either or both of your parents, absolutely, do.  This this exercise shows why, if you have only one parent to match against, you can’t just assume that anyone who doesn’t match you on your one parent’s side automatically matches you from the other parent. At least, not below about 15 cM.

Whether you can phase against your parent or not, this exercise should help you analyze your segment matches with an eye towards determining whether or not they are valid, and what different kinds of matches mean to your genealogy.

If nothing else, at least we can quantify the relatively likelihood, based on the size of the matching segment, in a non-endogamous population, a match would match a parent, if we had one to match against, meaning that they are a legitimate match.  Did you get all that?

In a nutshell, we can look at the Parent/Child Phased Match Chart produced by this exercise and say that our 8.5 cM match has about a 66% chance of being a legitimate match, and our 10.5 cM match has a 95% change of being a legitimate match.

You’re welcome.

Enjoy!!

Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA

The introduction of the Phased Family Finder Matches has added a new way to view autosomal DNA results at Family Tree DNA and a powerful new tool to the genealogists toolbox.

The Phased Family Finder Matches are the 9th tool provided for autosomal test results by Family Tree DNA. Did you know where were 9?

Each of the different methodologies provides us with information in a unique way to assist in our relentless search for cousins, ancestors and our quests to break down brick walls.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that sometimes options are confusing, so I’d like to review each tool for viewing autosomal match information, including:

  • When to use each tool
  • How to use each tool
  • What the results mean to you
  • The unique benefits of each tool
  • The cautions and things you need to know about each tool including what they are not

The tools are:

  1. Regular Matching
  2. ICW (In Common With)
  3. Not ICW (Not In Common With)
  4. The Matrix
  5. Chromosome Browser
  6. Phased Family Matching
  7. Combined Advanced Matching
  8. MyOrigins Matching
  9. Spreadsheet Matching

You Have Options

Family Tree DNA provides their clients with options, for which I am eternally grateful. I don’t want any company deciding for me which matches are and are not important based on population phasing (as opposed to parental phasing), and then removing matches they feel are unimportant. For people who are not fully endogamous, but have endogamous lines, matches to those lines, which are valid matches, tend to get stripped away when a company employs population based phasing – and once those matches are gone, there is no recovery unless your match happens to transfer their results to either Family Tree DNA or GedMatch.

The great news is that the latest new option, Phased Family Matching, is focused on making easy visual comparisons of high quality parental matches which is especially useful for those who don’t want to dig deeply.

There are good options for everyone at all ranges of expertise, from beginners to those who like to work with spreadsheets and extract every teensy bit of information.

So let’s take a look at all of your matching options at Family Tree DNA. If you’re not taking advantage of all of them, you’re missing out. Each option is unique and offers something the other options don’t offer.

In case you’re curious, I’ll be bouncing back and forth between my kit, my mother’s kit and another family member’s kit because, based on their matches utilizing the various tools, different kits illustrate different points better.

Also, please note that you can click on any image to see a larger version.

Selecting Options

FF9 options

Your selection options for Family Finder are available on both your Dashboard page under the Family Finder heading, right in the middle of the page, and the dropdown myFTDNA menu, on the upper left, also under Family Finder.

Ok, let’s get started. 

#1 – Regular Matching

By regular matching, I’m referring to the matches you see when you click on the “Matches” tab on your main screen under Family Finder or in the dropdown box.

FF9 regular matching

Everyone uses this tool, but not everyone knows about the finer points of various options provided.

There’s a lot of information here folks. Are you systematically using this information to its full advantage?

Your matches are displayed in the highest match first order. All of the information we utilize regularly (or should) is present, including:

  • Relationship Range
  • Match Date
  • Shared CentiMorgans
  • Longest (shared) Block
  • X-Match
  • Known Relationship
  • Ancestral Surnames (double click to see entire list)
  • Notes
  • E-mail envelope icon
  • Family Tree
  • Parental “side” icon

The Expansion “+” at the right side of each match, shown below, shows us:

  • Tests Taken
  • mtDNA haplogroup
  • Y haplogroup

Clicking on your match’s profile (their picture) provides additional information, if they have provided that information:

  • Most distant maternal ancestor
  • Most distant paternal ancestor
  • Additional information in the “about me” field, sometimes including a website link

On the match page, you can search for matches either by their full name, first name, last name or click on the “Advanced Search” to search for ancestral surname. These search boxes can be found at the top right.

FF9 advanced search

The Advanced Search feature, underneath the search boxes at right, also provides you with the option of combining search criteria, by opening two drop down boxes at the top left of the screen.

FF9 search combo

Let’s say I want to see all of my matches on the X chromosome. I make that selection and the only people displayed as matches are those whom I match on the X chromosome.

You can see that in this case, there are 280 matches. If I have any Phased Family Matches, then you will see how many X matches I have on those tabs too.

The first selection box works in combination with the second selection box.

FF9 search combo 2

Now, let’s say I want to sort in Longest Block Order. That section sorts and displays the people who match me on the X chromosome in Longest Block Order.

FF9 longest block

Prerequisites

  • Take the Family Finder test or transfer your results from either 23andMe (V3 only) or Ancestry (V1 only, currently.)
  • Match must be over the matching threshold of 9cM if shared cM are less than 20, or, the longest block must be at least 7.69 cM if the total shared cM is 20 or greater.

Power Features

  • The ability to customize your view by combining search, match and sort criteria.

Cautions

  • It’s easy to forget that you’re ONLY working with X matches, for example, once you sort, and not all of your matches. Note the Reset Filter button above your matches which clears all of the sort and search criteria. Always reset, just to be on the safe side, before you initiate another sort.

FF9 reset filter

  • Please note that the search boxes and logic are in the process of being redesigned, per a conversation Michael Davila, Director of Product Development, on 7-20-2016. Currently, if you search for the name “Donald,” for example, and then do an “in common with” match to someone on the Donald match list, you’ll only see those individuals who are in common with “Donald,” meaning anyone without “Donald” as one of their names won’t show as a match. The logic will be revised shortly so that you will see everyone “in common with,” not just “Donald.” Just be aware of this today and don’t do an ICW with someone you’ve searched for in the search box until this is revised.

#2 – In Common With (ICW)

You can select anyone from your match list to see who you match in common with them.

This is an important feature because it gives me a very good clue as to who else may match me on that same genealogical line.

For example, cousin Donald is related on the paternal line. I can select Donald by clicking the box to the left of his profile which highlights his row in yellow. I can then select what I want to do with Don’s match.

FF9 ICW

You will see that Don is selected in the match selection box on the lower left, and the options for what I can do with Don are above the matches. Those options are:

  • Chromosome Browser
  • In Common With
  • Not in Common With

Let’s select “In Common With.”

Now, the matches displayed will ONLY be those that I match in common with Don, meaning that Donald and I both match these people.

FF9 ICW matches

As you can see, I’m displaying my matches in common with Don in longest block order. You can click on any of the header columns to display in reverse order.

There are a total of 82 matches in common with Don and of those, 50 are paternally assigned. We’ll talk about how parental “side” assignments happen in a minute.

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches warrant further inspection and may (or may not) be from a common genealogical line.

Cautions

  • An ICW match does NOT mean that the matching individual IS from the same common line – only genealogical research can provide that information.
  • An ICW matches does NOT mean that these three people, you, your match and someone who matches both of you is triangulated – meaning matching on the same segment. Only individual matching with each other provides that information.
  • It’s easy to forget that you’re not working with your entire match list, but a subset. You can see that Donald’s name appears in the box at the upper left, along with the function you performed (ICW) and the display order if you’ve selected any options from the second box.

# 3 – Not In Common With

Now, let’s say I want to see all of my X matches that are not in common with my mother, who is in the data base, which of course suggests that they are either on my father’s side or identical by chance. My father is not in the data base, and given that he died in 1963, there is no chance of testing him.

Keep in mind though that because X matches aren’t displayed unless you have another qualifying autosomal segment, that they are more likely to be valid matches than if they were displayed without another matching segment that qualifies as a match.

For those who don’t know, X matches have a unique inheritance pattern which can yield great clues as to which side of your tree (if you’re a male), and which ancestors on various sides of your tree X matches MUST come from (males and females both.) I wrote about this here, along with some tools to help you work with X matches.

To utilize the “Not In Common With” feature, I would select my mother and then select the “Not In Common With” option, above the matches.

FF9 NICW

I would then sort the results to see the X matches by clicking on the top of the column for X-Match – or by any other column that I wanted to see.

FF9 NICW X

I have one very interesting not in common with match – and that’s with a Miller male that I would have assumed, based on the surname, was a match from my mother’s side. He’s obviously not, at least based on that X match. No assuming allowed!

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches warrant further inspection and may be from a common genealogical line – or are NOT in common with a particular person.

Cautions

  • Be sure to understand that “not in common with” means that you, the person you match and the list of people shown as a result of the “Not ICW” do not all match each other.  You DO match the person on your match list, but the list of “not in common with” matches are the people who DON’T match both of you.  Not in common with is the opposite of “in common with” where your match list does match you and the person you’re matching in common with.
  • The X and other chromosome matches may be inherited from different ancestors. Every matching segment needs to be analyzed separately.

#4 – The Matrix

Let’s say that I have a list of matches, perhaps a list of individuals that I found doing an ICW with my cousin, and I wonder if these people match each other. I can utilize the Matrix grid to see.

Going back to the ICW list with cousin Donald, let’s see if some of those people match each other on the Matrix.

Let’s pick 5 people.

I’m selecting Cheryl, Rex, Charles, Doug and Harold.

Margaret Lentz chart

I’m making these particular selections because I know that all of these people, except Harold, are related to my mother, Barbara, shown on the bottom row of the chart above.  This chart, borrowed from another article (William is not in this comparison), shows how Cheryl, Rex, Charles and Barbara who have all DNA tested are related to each other.  Some are related through the Miller line, some through the dual Lentz/Miller line, and some just from the Lentz line.  Doug is related through the Miller line only, and at least 4 generations upstream. Doug may also be related through multiple lines, but is not descended from the Lentz line.

The people I’ve selected for the matrix are not all related to each other, and they don’t all share one common ancestral line.

Harold is a wild card – I have no idea how he is related or who he is related to, so let’s see what we can determine.

FF9 Matrix choices

As you make selections on the Matrix page, up to 10 selections are added to the grid.

FF9 Matrix grid

You can see that Charles matches Cheryl and Harold.

You can see that Rex matches Charles and Cheryl and Harold.

You can see that Doug matches only Cheryl, but this isn’t surprising as the common line between Doug and the known cousins is at least 4 generations further back in time on the Miller line.

The known relationship are:

  • Don and Cheryl are siblings, descended from the Lentz/Miller.
  • Rex is a known cousin on the Miller/Lentz line
  • Charles is a known cousin on the Lentz line only
  • Doug is a known cousin on the Miller line only

Let me tell you what these matches indicate to me.

Given that Harold matches Rex and Charles and Cheryl, IF and that’s a very big IF, he descends from the same lines, then he would be related to both sides of this family, meaning both the Miller and Lentz lines.

  • He could be a downstream cousin after the Lentz and Miller lines married, meaning a descendant of Margaret Lentz and John David Miller, or other Miller/Lentz couples
  • He could be independently related to both lines upstream. They did intermarry.
  • He could be related to Charles or Rex through an entirely separate line that has nothing to do with Lentz or Miller.

So I have no exact answer, but this does tell me where to look. Maybe I could find additional known Lentz or Miller line descendants to add to the Matrix which would provide additional information.

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches match each other as well.

Cautions

  • Matrix matches do NOT mean that these individuals match on the same segments, it just means they do match on some segment. A matrix match is not triangulation.
  • Matrix matches can easily be from different lines to different ancestors. For example, Harold could match each one of three individuals that he matches on different ancestral lines that have nothing to do with their common Lentz or Miller line.

#5 – Chromosome Browser

I want to know if the 5 individuals that I selected to compare in the Matrix match me on any of the same segments.

I’m going back to my ICW list with cousin Donald.

I’ve selected my 5 individuals by clicking the box to the left of their profiles, and I’m going to select the chromosome browser.

FF9 chromosome browser choices

The chromosome browser shows you where these individuals match you.

Overlapping segments mean the people who overlap all match you on that segment, but overlapping segments do NOT mean they also match each other on these same segments.

Translated, this means they could be matching you on different sides of your family or are identical by chance. Remember, you have two sides to your chromosome, a Mom’s side and a Dad’s side, which are intermingled, and some people will match you by chance. You can read more about this here.

The chromosome browser shows you THAT they match you – it doesn’t tell you HOW they match you or if they match each other.

FF9 chromosome browser view2

The default view shows matches of 5cM or greater. You can select different thresholds at the top of the comparison list.

You’ll notice that all 5 of these people match me, but that only two of them match me on overlapping segments, on chromosome 3. Among those 5 people, only those who match me on the same segments have the opportunity to triangulate.

This gives you the opportunity to ask those two individuals if they also match each other on this same chromosome. In this case, I have access to both of those kits, and I can tell you that they do match each other on those segments, so they do triangulate mathematically. Since I know the common ancestor between myself, Cheryl and Rex, I can assign this segment to John David Miller and Margaret Lentz. That, of course, is the goal of autosomal matching – to identify the common ancestor of the individuals who match.

You also have the option to download the results of this chromosome browser match into a spreadsheet. That’s the left-most download option at the top of the chromosomes. We’ll talk about how to utilize spreadsheets last.

The middle option, “view in a table” shows you these results, one pair of individuals at a time, in a table.

This is me compared to Rex. You will have a separate table for each one of the individuals as compared to you. You switch between them at the bottom right.

FF9 chromosome browser table2

The last download option at the furthest right is for your entire list of matches and where they match you on your chromosomes.

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can visually see where individuals and multiple people match you on your chromosomes, and where they overlap which suggests they may triangulate.

Cautions

  • When two people match you on the same chromosome segment, this does not mean that they also match each other on that segment. Matching on overlapping segments is not triangulation, although it’s the first step to triangulation.
  • For triangulation, you will need to contact your matches to determine if they also match each other on the same segment where they both match you. You may also be able to deduce some family matching based on other known individuals from the same line that you also match on that same segment, if your match matches them on that segment too.
  • The chromosome browser is limited to 5 people at a time, compared to you. By utilizing spreadsheet matching, you can see all of your matches on a particular segment, together.

#6 – Phased Family Matching

Phased Family Matching is the newest tool introduced by Family Tree DNA. I wrote about it here. The icons assigned to matches make it easy to see at a glance which side of your family, maternal or paternal, or both, a match derives from.

ff9 parental iconPhased Family Matching allows you to link the DNA results of qualified relatives to your tree and by doing so, Family Tree DNA assigns matches to maternal or paternal buckets, or sometimes, both, as shown in the icon above.

This phased matching utilizes both parental phasing in addition to a slightly higher threshold to assure that the matches they assign to parental sides can be done so with confidence. In order to be assigned a maternal or paternal icon, your match must match you and your qualifying relative at 9cM or greater on at least one of the same segments over the matching threshold. This is different than an ICW match, which only tells you that you do match, not how you match or that it’s on the same segment.

Qualifying relatives, at this time, are parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and first cousins. Additional relatives are planned in the near future.

Icons are ONLY placed based on phased match results that meet the criteria.

These icons are important because they indicate which side of your family a match is from with a great deal of precision and confidence – beyond that of regular matching.

This is best illustrated by an example.

Phased FF2

In this example, this individual has their father and mother both in the system. You can see that their father’s side is assigned a blue icon and their mother’s side is assigned a pink (red) icon. This means they match this person on only one side of their family.  A purple icon with both a male and female image means that this person is related to you on both sides of your family.  Full siblings, when both parents are in the system to phase against, would receive both icons.

This sibling is showing as matching them on both sides of their family, because both parents are available for phasing.

If only one parent was available, the father, for example, then the sibling would only shows the paternal icon. The maternal icon is NOT added by inference. In Phased Family Matching, nothing is added by inference – only by exact allele by allele matching on the same segment – which is the definition of parentally phased matching.

These icons are ONLY added as a result of a high quality phased matches at or above the phased match threshold of 9cM.

You can read more about the Family Matching System in the Family Tree DNA Learning Center, here.

Prerequisites

  • You must have tested (or transferred a kit) for a qualifying relative. At this time qualifying relatives parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins.
  • You must have uploaded a GEDCOM file or created a tree.
  • You must link the DNA of qualifying kits to that person your tree. I provided instructions for how to do this in this article.
  • You must match at the normal matching threshold to be on the match list, AND then match at or above the Phased Family Match threshold in the way described to be assigned an icon.
  • You must match on at least one full segment at or above 9cM.

Power Features

  • Can visually see which side of your family an individual is related to. You can be confident this match is by descent because they are phased to your parent or qualifying family member.

Cautions

  • If someone does not have an icon assigned, it does NOT mean they are not related on that particular side of the family. It only means that the match is not strong enough to generate an icon.
  • If someone DOES match on a particular side of the family, you will still need to do additional matching and genealogy work to determine which ancestor they descend from.
  • If someone is assigned to one side of your family, it does NOT preclude the possibility that they have a smaller or weaker match to your other side of the family.
  • If you upload a new Gedcom file after linking DNA to people in your tree, you will overwrite your DNA links and will have to relink individuals.
  • Having an icon assigned indicates mathematical triangulation for the person who tested, their parents or close relative against whom they were phased and their match with the icon.  However, technically, it’s not triangulation in cases where very close relatives are involved.  For example, parents, aunts, uncles and siblings are too closely related to be considered the third leg of the triangulation stool.  First cousins, however, in my opinion, could be considered the third leg of the three needed for triangulation.  Of course when triangulation is involved, more than three is always better – the more the merrier and the more certain you can be that you have identified the correct ancestor, ancestral couple, or ancestral line to assign that particular triangulated segment to.

# 7 – Combined Advanced Matching

One of the comparison tools often missed by people is Combined Advanced Matching.

Combined matching is available through the “Tools and Apps” button, then select “Advanced Matching.”

Advanced Matching allows you to select various options in combination with each other.

For example, one of my favorites is to compare people within a project.

You can do this a number of ways.

In the case of my mother, I’ll select everyone she matches on the Family Finder test in the Miller-Brethren project. This is a very focused project with the goal of sorting the Miller families who were of the Brethren faith.

FF9 combined matching

You can see that she has several matches in that project.

You can select a variety of combinations, including any level of Y or mtDNA testing, Family Finder, X matching, projects and “last name begins with.”

One of the ways I utilize this feature often is within a surname project, for males in particular, I select one Y level of matching at a time, combined with Family Finder, “show only people I match on all tests” and then the project name. This is a quick way to determine whether someone matches someone on Family Finder that is also in a particular surname project. And when your surname is Smith, this tool is extremely valuable. This provides a least a hint as to the possible distance to a common ancestor between individuals.

Another favorite way to utilize this feature is for non-surname projects like the American Indian project. This is perfect for people who are hunting for others with Native roots that they match – and you can see their Y and mtDNA haplogroups as a bonus!

Prerequisites

  • Must have joined the particular project if you want to use the project match feature within that project.

Power Features

  • The ability to combine matching criteria across products.
  • The ability to match within projects.
  • The ability to specify partial surnames.

Cautions

  • If you match someone on both Family Finder and either Y or mtDNA haplogroups, this does NOT mean that your common Family Finder ancestor is on that haplogroup line. It might be a good place to begin looking. Check to see if you match on the Y or mtDNA products as well.
  • All matches have their haplogroup displayed, not just IF you also match that haplogroup, unless you’ve specified the Y or mtDNA options and then you would only see the people you match which would be in the same major haplogroup, although not always the same subgroup because not everyone tests at the same level.
  • Not all surname project administrators allow people who do not carry that surname in the present generation to join their projects.

# 8 – MyOrigins Matching

One tool missed by many is the MyOrigins matching by ethnicity. For many, especially if you have all European, for example, this tool isn’t terribly useful, but if you are of mixed heritage, this tool can be a wonderful source of information.

Your matches (who have authorized this type of matching) will be displayed, showing only if they match you on your major world categories.  Only your matching categories will show.  For example, if my match, Frances, also has African heritage and I do not, I won’t see Frances’s African percentage and vice versa.

FF9 myOrigins

In this example, the person who tested falls into the major categories of European and Middle Eastern. Their matches who fall into either of these same categories will be displayed in the Shared Origins box. You may not be terribly excited about this – unless you are mixed African, Asian, European and Native American – and you have “lost ancestors” you can’t find. In that case, you may be very excited to contact other matches with the same ethnic heritage.

When you first open your myOrigins page, you will be greeted with a choice to opt in (by clicking) or to opt out (by doing nothing) of allowing your ethnic matches to view the same ethnic groups you carry. Your matches will not be able to see your ethnic groups that they don’t have in common with you.

FF9 myorigins opt in

You can also access those options to view or change by clicking on Account Settings, Privacy and Sharing, and then you can view or change your selection under “My DNA Results.”

FF9 myorigins security

Prerequisites

  • Must authorize Shared Origins matching.

Power Features

  • The ability to discern who among your matches shares a particular ethnicity, and to what degree.

Cautions

  • Just because you share a particular ethnicity does NOT mean you match on the shared ethnic line. Your common ancestor with that person may be on an entirely unrelated line.

# 9 – Spreadsheet Matching

Family Tree DNA offers you the ability to download your entire list of matches, including the specific segments where your matches match you, to a spreadsheet.

This is the granddaddy of the tools and it’s a tool used by all serious genetic genealogists. It’s requires the most investment from you both in terms of understanding and work, but it also yields the most information.

The power of spreadsheet comparisons isn’t in the 5 people I pushed through to the chromosome browser, in and of themselves, but in the power of looking at the locations where all of your matches match you and known relatives on particular segments.

Utilizing the chromosome browser, we saw that chromosome 3 had an overlap match between Rex (green) and Cheryl (blue) as compared to my mother (background chromosome.)

FF9 chr 3

We see that same overlap between Cheryl and Rex when we download the match spreadsheet for those 5 people.

However, when we download all of my mother’s matches, we have a much more powerful view of that segment, below. The 2 segments we saw overlapping on the chromosome browser are shown in green. All of these people colored pink match my mother on some part of the 37cM segment she shares with Rex.

FF9 spreadsheet match

This small part of my master spreadsheet combines my own results, rows in white, with those of my mother, rows in pink.

In this case, I only match one of these individuals that mother also matches on the same segment – Rex. That’s fine. It just means that I didn’t receive the rest of that DNA from mother – meaning the portions of the segments that match Sam, Cheryl, Don, Christina and Sharon.

On the first two rows, I did receive part of that DNA from mother, 7.64 of the 37cMs that Rex matches to Mom at a threshold of 5cM.

We know that Cheryl, Don and Rex all share a common ancestor on mother’s father’s side three generations removed – meaning John David Miller and Margaret Lentz. By looking at Cheryl, Don and Rex’s matches as well, I know that several of her matches do triangulate with Cheryl, Don and/or Rex.

What I didn’t know was how Christina fit into the picture. She is a new match. Before the new Phased Family Matching, I would have had to go into each account, those of Rex, Cheryl and Don, all of which I manage, to be sure that Christina matched all of them individually in addition to Mom’s kit.

I don’t have to do that now, because I can utilize the phased Family Matching instead. The addition of the Family Matching tool has taken this from three additional steps, assuming I have access to all kits, which most people don’t, to one quick definitive step.

Cheryl and Don are both mother’s first cousins, so matches can be phased against them. I have linked both of them to mother’s kit so she how has several individuals who are phased to Don and Cheryl which generate paternal icons since Don and Cheryl are related to mother on her father’s side.

Now, instead of looking at all of the accounts individually, my first step is to see if Christina has a paternal icon, which, in this case, means she phased against either Don and/or Cheryl since those are the only two people linked to mother who qualify for phasing, today.

FF9 parental phased match

Look, Christina does have a paternal icon, so I can add “Dad” into the side column for Christine in the spreadsheet for mother’s matches AND I know Christina triangulates to Mom and either Cheryl or Don, which ever cousin she phased against.

FF9 Christina chr 3

I can see which cousin she phased against by looking at the chromosome browser and comparing mother against Cheryl, Don and Christina.  As it turns out, Christina, in green, above, phased against both Cheryl and Don whose results are in orange and blue.

It’s a great day in the neighborhood to be able to use these tools together.

Prerequisites

  • Must download matches spreadsheet through the chromosome browser, adding new matches to your spreadsheet as they occur.
  • Must have a familiarity with Excel or another spreadsheet.
  • Must learn about matching, match groups and triangulation.

Power Features

  • The ability to control the threshold you wish to work with. For matches over the match threshold, Family Tree DNA provides all segment matches to 1cM with a total of 500 SNPs.
  • The ability to see trends and groups together.
  • The ability to view kits from all of your matches for more powerful matching.
  • The ability to combine your results with those of a parent (or sibling if parents not available) to see joint matching where it occurs.

Cautions

  • There is a comparatively steep learning curve if you’re not familiar with using spreadsheets, but it’s well worth the effort if you are serious about proving ancestors through triangulation.

Summary

I’m extremely grateful for the full complement of tools available at Family Tree DNA.

They provide a range of solutions for users at all levels – people who just want to view their ethnicity or to utilize matches at the vendor site as well as those who want tools like a chromosome browser, projects, ICW, not ICW, the Matrix, ethnicity matching, combined advanced matching and chromosome browser downloads for those of us who want actual irrefutable proof.  No one has to use the more advanced tools, but they are there for those of us who want to utilize them.

I’m sorry, I’m not from Missouri, but I still want to see it for myself. I don’t want any vendor taking the “trust me” approach or doing me any favors by stripping out my data. I’m glad that Family Tree DNA gives us multiple options and doesn’t make one size fit all by using a large hammer and chisel.

The easier, more flexible and informative Family Tree DNA makes the tools, the easier it will be to convince people to test or download their data from other vendors. The more testers, the better our opportunity to find those elusive matches and through them, ancestors.

The Concepts Series

I’ve been writing a “Concepts” series of articles. Recent articles have been about how to utilize and work with autosomal matches on a spreadsheet.

You might want to read these Concepts articles if you’re serious about working with autosomal DNA.

Concepts – How Your Autosomal DNA Identifies Your Ancestors

Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance

Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’ Crab

Concepts – Parental Phasing

Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA

Concepts – Managing Autosomal DNA Matches – Step 1 – Assigning Parental Sides

Please join me shortly for the next Concepts article – Step 2 – Who’s Related to Whom?

In the meantime:

  • Make full use of the autosomal tools available at Family Tree DNA.
  • Test additional relatives meaning parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, half-siblings, siblings, any cousin you can identify and talk into testing.
  • Take test kits to family reunions and holiday gatherings. No, I’m not kidding.
  • Don’t forget Y or mtDNA which can provide valuable tools to identify which line you might have in common, or to quickly eliminate some lines that you don’t have in common. Some cousins will carry valuable Y or mtDNA of your direct ancestral lines – and that DNA is full of valuable and unique information as well.
  • Link the DNA kits of those individuals you know to their place in your tree.
  • Transfer family kits from other vendors.

The more relatives you can identify and link in the system, the better your chances for meaningful matches, confirming ancestral relations, and solving puzzles.

Have fun!!!

John David Miller (1812-1902), Never In His Wildest Dreams, 52 Ancestors #125

John David Miller was born April 6, 1812 in Montgomery County, Ohio to David Miller and Catharina Schaeffer.

Catharina, his mother, was a widow with two children when she married David Miller on December 13, 1805.

Between their marriage and Catharina’s death in about 1826, she bore 9 children. She died when John David was just 14 or so, a difficult age for a boy made even more difficult by his mother’s passing.

John David’s father married a woman named Elizabeth before leaving for Elkhart County, Indiana four years later, in 1830. Elizabeth died in 1838 in Elkhart County and John David’s father remarried again to Martha Drake in June of 1839, having 3 more children. We have this late marriage to thank for the long drawn out estate settlement which provides us with a great amount of information, including lists of David’s children and in some cases, grandchildren.

David’s son, John David Miller married Mary Baker on January 24, 1832 in Montgomery County when he was about 20.  They applied for the license 10 days earlier, with her father registering “no objection.”

John David Miller Mary Baker marriage

Oral history tells us that John David went to Elkhart County, then back to Montgomery County to marry his sweetheart and brought her back to Elkhart County. Some honeymoon, bouncing around in a wagon, but as a love-struck newlywed, who cares!

Their first child, Hester, was born on May 26, 1833, and her death certificate says she was born in Ohio, but the 1850 census says she was born in Indiana. It’s believed that by 1832, John David was in Elkhart County, Indiana.  The 1892 Elkhart County plat map, created when John David was still living, stated that he was born in 1812 and came to Jackson Township in 1832. It’s likely that John David Miller and possibly his bride joined the Cripe wagon train headed north during the winter of 1831/1832.

When the wagon train first arrived in Elkhart County, the extended family would have lived together initially, constructing a log cabin. The oral history tells us that they didn’t have time to construct a cabin that first winter, and they constructed a lean-to and covered the door with skins and fabric. That’s was probably the longest winter of their lives! Northern Indiana winters are miserable and bitterly cold. The Indians still lived there and helped the settlers survive.

The first several years, the family would have worked together to clear lands and farm what they could. Clearing and farming were full time jobs. John David and his bride likely lived with his father and family during this time.

In the 1840 census, we find the Brethren families grouped together. We know that David Miller owned land and was living on land where the Baintertown Cemetery is located today, his wife, Elizabeth, being the first (marked) burial in 1838.

In order, on the 1840 census, we find:

  • William S. Baker
  • Elias Baker
  • Samuel B. Miller
  • Adam Mock
  • Jacob Stutzman
  • John Miller
  • David Miller
  • Conrad Broombaugh

David Miller is shown age 30-40 and John Miller is shown age 20-30. John David would have been 28. His brother, David, would have been age 34.

Their father, David, was shown on a different page because his land was in a different township, although only a couple miles away.

The 1840 census shows John David with 4 children. We can fit known children into slots as follows:

  • Male age 5-10 (born 1830-1835) Samuel died before 1850
  • Male under 5 (born 1835-1840) David B. Miller born 1838
  • Male under 5 (born 1835-1840) John N. died before 1850
  • Female under 5 (born 1835-1840) Hester born 1833?

There is another female child who was born and died between census years, Catherine. If Catherine is the female under 5, then where was Hester who appears to be missing from the census?

The binding factor between these families listed together on the 1840 census is that they were Brethren. The reason they were attracted to Elkhart County was the availability of land grants. The land in Montgomery County was already taken. The relationship between the Miller, Mock and Stutzman families reaches back 4 generations to Johann Michael Mueller, the immigrant, in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Land

John David’s father, David, applied for and obtained several land grants. This particular grant below, applied for in 1832, would become the land of his sons John David Miller and David B. Miller when he sold it to them in 1841 for $100 each for half of the quarter section (80 acres) each.

JDM David Miller land grant

David, John David’s father, signed the receipt below.

JDM David Miller receipt

John David Miller may have applied for some land patents himself, and subsequently sold them, probably to raise funds. There are many John Miller’s in Elkhart County so differentiating them without middle initials is troublesome.

John David Miller and David B. Miller had very likely been clearing and working this land since 1832 when their father obtained it as a grant.

John cleared the land and built a log cabin which still stands under a portion of the house that remains today.  The cabin is the center section, shown below.

Margaret Lentz home

I always wondered why this house is turned sideways, then I looked closely at the plat maps and realized that the road, 142, that now runs east and west behind the house at one time curved and went in front of the house, so the house wasn’t sideways when it was built and it sat on the north side of the road.

JDM closeup of map section

Today, it sits on the south side of road 142. The current driveway was the original road.

JDM satellite 2

It makes me wonder, which came first, John David’s log cabin or the road, which was then likely no more than a wide path.

JDM farm

Turkey Creek runs along and through David’s land, shown below hidden behind the trees. This area is still relatively wet and densely forested.

Turkey Ck

Creeks in pioneer times were the lifeblood of the community, assuring fresh water for people and livestock in addition to being the early highways.  Land creekside went first – although the land along Turkey Creek is low and wet, even yet today.

This aerial view shows the very green Y intersection between Turkey Creek, the treed area on the left, and the Elkhart River, which runs on the east side of the map.  John David’s house is marked with a small grey pin at the intersection of 142 and 21.  You can see the extent of the forestation along the creek and river.

JDM aerial

Lots of floodplain probably meant that John David’s house and fields never flooded.

JDM turkey creek 3

This is Turkey Creek from the bridge on 142, today, above, looking at the portion on John David’s land.

JDM Turkey Creek 2

This part looking north is a little brighter and more cheerful.  Looking at this dense forest, you can understand why the pioneers had issues with malarial diseases.  There are backwaters and swamps green with algae less than a mile north.  Mosquito heaven.

JDM turkey looking at John's land

On the Turkey Creek bridge, looking at John David’s land on the left.

Oral history states that the Native people helped the family pick good land.  If that’s true, we are indebted to them.  It’s a decision that in time, they surely came to regret – not necessarily in terms of the Miller family personally – but in more general terms.  They not only became overrun by successive waves of settlers, they were forced off of their lands.

John David’s Father’s Death

John David’s father, David, died on December 1, 1851 without a will. At the time of his death, he had a wife and small children, after a 4th marriage to a younger widow woman 20 years his junior in 1839. Their last child was born in 1845, just 6 years before David’s death.

Clearly David’s death was unexpected, even though he was 70 years of age, or he probably would have executed a will given that he had children by at least 2 wives, 3 of which were minors.

John David Miller was not his father’s executor, thankfully. David’s estate was not to settle smoothly. Initially Adam Whitehead, husband of David’s eldest living sister, Susan, was the estate administrator.

Then something very un-Brethren-like happened. In 1855, all of David’s heirs, including John David Miller, sued Adam Whitehead and Susan. Brethren simply did not “take someone to law,” let alone a relative, and would try absolutely everything else to resolve a situation. This is the first lawsuit I know of being filed in America in the Miller lines. That’s pretty amazing, given that David’s heirs are 4 generations downstream from the original immigrant.

Court was a last resort – and often Brethren would let a wrong “stand” rather than taking an oppositional position, through law or otherwise.  Often, the church got involved to help straighten things out. Therefore this lawsuit is shocking to say the least – and apparently all of David’s heirs uniformly agreed, as they are all represented by the suit. That’s even more shocking and probably speaks to the gravity of the situation at hand.  The fact that the lawsuit wasn’t file until nearly 4 years after David’s death suggests this was a measure of last resort.

Based on the court document filed by the plaintiffs, Adam Whitehead had taken possession of all of David Miller’s lands by right of descent, which apparently meant because he was married to the eldest child (or at least eldest living child.)

This must have been a very difficult situation, because Adam taking possession of David’s lands would have excluded Martha Miller, David’s widow, and David’s three minor children from the proceeds of his estate or utilizing his land. While the older children wanted their share, I’m sure, the widow and her three minor children depended on that land and his estate to live.

The court agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered that Martha be awarded one third of David’s estate as her dower right and the rest to be divided evenly between his 12 children.

David’s son, Samuel, then became the executor. David’s estate settlement dragged on for 13 years, the last distribution made in 1864 when his final living child reached the age of majority.

John David signed three receipts during the long probate of his father’s estate, one each in 1854, 1855 and 1857 when he accepted a final $100 as his share of his father’s estate. His signatures are shown below.

JDM estate receipt

JDM 1855 estate receipt

JDM estate receipt 2

Never in his wildest dreams would David have expected the family to be split in this manner. This is the kind of rift that never heals. Estates, then and now, bring out the worst in people. 

Widower and Remarriage

John David Miller’s wife, Mary Baker, died on March 12, 1855, leaving John with a houseful of kids and no mother.  She was buried in the Baintertown Cemetery, on David Miller’s original land.  Her headstone was nearly unreadable when I visited several years ago.

Mary Baker Miller

A year later on March 30, 1856, John David married a Brethren widow, Margaret Lentz Whitehead, who also had 5 young children.

Margaret Lentz John David Miller marriage

Margaret was born Dec. 21, 1822 in Pennsylvania to Jacob Lentz and Johanna Fredericka Reuhle, both born in Germany. Margaret moved with her parents in the early 1830s to Montgomery County where she subsequently married Valentine Whitehead and joined the northward migration to Elkhart County where she had lived for nearly a decade before Valentine’s death in 1851.

When they married, John David Miller had 7 living children although Hester had just recently married the boy next door. Margaret had 5 children, What a busy household they must have had with 11 children.

Margaret Lentz blended family

John David Miller and Margaret had 4 more children, only 3 of whom survived; Evaline Louise (my great-grandmother, Ira J. (Rex Miller’s grandfather) and Perry Miller. The name of the child who died, probably in 1861, is unknown.

Church

About the time John David married Margaret, the Brethren built the Whitehead Church. It was the second Brethren church to be built in Indiana, and the only church in this vicinity. Prior to this, services were held in the homes and barns of members, with people traveling significant distances and sometimes staying overnight to attend.

Both John David and Margaret probably held church services at their homes when it was their turn – so they would have been well acquainted.

In the 1850s, land was donated by the Whitehead family for the church. The congregation would have had an old-fashioned “barn-raising” except in this case, it would have been a church raising. Margaret’s husband, Valentine, was buried across the road in 1851, so you can rest assured that Margaret and John David both participated in the building of the Whitehead church, later to be known as Maple Grove.

Of course, John David would have participated with the other men, constructing the building, and Margaret would have participated with the other women preparing food for the hungry crew.

In 2015, cousin Keith Lentz visited the now much more modern Maple Grove Church, the former Whitehead Church, attending services, and was kind enough to provide me with two pictures of the original church.

JDM whitehead church

The photo above is from a Brethren source, and the one below Keith took of a picture hanging inside the current church, in the old section. I suspect the top photo is older, based on the railings, but the building probably looked much like it did originally for a very long time.

JDM whitehead church 2

It does my heart good to know that John’s handiwork still remains in the present day church that retains the original posts, rafters and beams. The church members told Keith that the original building was raised in 1856, but the “History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana” published in 1917 says the original building was built in 1851.

In these photos taken by Keith, you can see the original part of the building to the right of the main entrance today.

JDM Maple Grove

The Maple Grove church stands directly across from the Whitehead Cemetery.

JDM whitehead cem

Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller wasn’t the only one with a tie to the Whitehead family or eventually to the Whitehead Cemetery. John David Miller’s sister, Susan, married Adam Whitehead in 1825 in Montgomery County. Adam Whitehead was one of the 9 Whitehead adult children who settled in Elkhart County with their father. Susan died in 1876 and is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery, across from the church.

When John David Miller died in 1902, he was a member of the Union Center church. He would have literally had to go past the Whitehead Church to attend Union Center which was located significantly further south. The Whitehead Church is 1.6 miles from John David’s farm and Union Center is a total of 7.7 miles distant.

JDM map to union

Something must have happened to cause that switch.

That something was very likely the ruckus that occurred after David Miller’s death, and the subsequent lawsuit. Making the situation even more awkward, in 1856, the year after the lawsuit was filed, John David married Margaret Lentz Whitehead, the widow of Valentine Whitehead.

The Millers may have been shunned in the Whitehead church for filing suit. Margaret may have been shunned for marrying John David Miller. One way or another, I’m sure it was uncomfortable for the Millers to attend the same church with the Whitehead clan during and probably after this time. Given that Susan is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery, it’s clear where her allegiance fell.

Union Center Church 1920

The Union Center Church was gracious enough to send me the photo of the church taken in 1920.  The indicated that their history says the church was build in 1866.

John David Miller’s switch to Union Center Brethren Church unquestionably occurred sometime before 1876 when John David’s daughter, Evaline married Hiram Ferverda. The Ferverda family lived south of the Union Center Church and were also Brethren. Evaline would have met Hiram at church functions. It would have been unlikely for her to meet him otherwise and have the ability to court, as the two families lived 10 miles or so apart. In essence, had it not been for that change of churches, my great-grandfather would not be my great-grandfather, and I would not be me today. You never know where those forks in the road will lead and how they will affect not only you but your children and descendants in perpetuity.

Union Center Brethren Church was organized in 1859 and had been meeting in homes since 1838 when it was administratively cut off from the Turkey Creek congregation which subsequently built the Whitehead Church. John David probably helped to build Union Center in 1859 too.

The book “History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana” written in 1917 by Otto Winger tells us that:

In 1879 John R. Miller was called to the ministry at Union Center and was a cousin of Elder Alex. Miller, both of them being grandchildren of Elder John Miller, one of the first preachers of Elkhart County.

John Miller, the preacher, was called to the ministry in the Wolf Creek church in Montgomery County, Ohio. In 1835 he located on Elkhart Prairie, southeast of Goshen. He was an active colaborer of Elder Daniel Cripe, and did his share of the evangelistic work in those early days. He finally located in the Yellow Creek church, seven miles southwest of Goshen, where he died in 1856.

John Miller, the preacher, was the son of Daniel Miller and Elizabeth Ulrich. He married his first cousin, Ester Miller. John Miller, the preacher, was the Uncle of our John David Miller, being his father’s brother. John David Miller was likely named for his uncle John and his father David. John David’s father, David, died in 1851, John David’s wife died in 1855 and his uncle, John, died in 1856. In 1854, John David buried his daughter, Hester’s first child. Between deaths and the lawsuit, John David had a very rough few years.

The Lay of the Land

Cousin Keith did a significant amount of work on the Whitehead family and locating their land during his 2015 visit. He provided this map showing the approximate locations of the various homesteads.

Margaret Lentz Keith map

You’ll notice that Adam Whitehead and Susan Miller’s land was very close to that of John David Miller, shown on the composite map below. I can only imagine how awkward that became after the lawsuit.

Margaret Lentz Jackson Twp map

On this map, Valentine Whitehead’s land is the arrow at the bottom.  John David’s father’s land and the Baintertown Cemetery is the top arrow.  The arrow below that at 142 and 21 is John David’s home and the arrow below that on 46 is the Whitehead Church

On this 1874 plat map, you can see the exact location of John David’s land and his brother, David Baker Miller’s, as well. The Adam Whitehead land is the J. M. Whitehead land in 1874.  John M. Whitehead was the son of Adam Whitehead and Susan Miller.

Margaret Lentz 1874 Jackson Twp map

The colored legend on the 1874 map is:

  • Orange – David Miller’s lands (except his homeplace not shown on this map)
  • Green – David’s land sold to family members
  • Green dash – John David Miller and David B. Miller, David’s son’s lands

Messages in the Census

By 1850, we find the following families, in the census, in order:

  • Solomon Conrad
  • David B. Miller
  • Jacob Stutzman
  • Michael Haney
  • John D. Miller
  • Susannah Shively

Two of John David’s children/step-children would marry neighbors.

Jonas Shively is age 25, a carpenter and living with his widowed mother, right next to John David Miller. In 1851, Hester Miller married Jonas Shively, the boy next door. In 1860, John David’s second wife’s daughter, Lucinda Whitehead would marry Joseph Haney, son of Michael Haney. The Brethren generally did not marry outside their faith. If they did, one person or the other converted. There were no religiously “mixed” families at that time.

JDM 1850 census

The 1850 census shows us that two of the 4 children shown in 1840 have died. They are assuredly buried in the Miller, now Baintertown or Rodibaugh Cemetery, but their tiny graves are unmarked.

jdm 1860 census

The 1860 census goes hand in hand with the 1874 plat map and shows the following families, John’s neighbors, in order:

  • Michael Haney
  • Conrad Broombaugh
  • Solomon Conrad
  • John Banta
  • George Hanna?
  • David Rodibaugh
  • Daniel Shively
  • John D. Miller (with wife Margaret Lentz Whitehead)
  • David B. Miller
  • Adam Whitehead (with wife Susanna Miller) listed just below David B. Miller in the census schedule above

John David would bury his own child in 1861, likely in the Baintertown Cemetery in an unmarked grave, probably near his father and the 3 children he buried between 1832 and 1855.  If he and Margaret named this child, that information has not filtered down to us today.

John David’s daughter, Mary Ann Treesh’s daughter Chloe also was born and died in 1861, and is also likely buried at Baintertown.  Those babies are likely buried side by side near David Miller.

By the 1870 census, John David and Margaret were done having children. Their last child was born a few months before Margaret turned 40, in 1862, when John David was 49 years old. John David was a grandfather, several times over, before his last child was born. The span of years between his oldest child born in 1833 and youngest born in 1862 was 29 years. I can’t even imagine having young children in a household for more than 30 years straight – literally John David’s entire adult life.

Margaret Lentz 1870 census

As we look at the various census records, we see John David’s family shrink as they reach adulthood, marry and “set up housekeeping” on their own.

Margaret Lentz 1880 census

Ira was the last child to marry, in 1885.

By 1900, John David Miller and Margaret are living alone. It must have been quiet in that house, for the first time ever. Maybe too quiet, although I’m sure there were grandchildren in and out regularly, probably slamming screen doors.

Margaret Lentz 1900 census

This picture of John David and Margaret was probably taken between 1890 and 1900. John David looks to be in his 70s or 80s.

Margaret Lentz outside home2

John David Passes Over

I always view elderly ancestors as something of a miracle or akin to winning the lottery given that they lived in an age before modern medicine and in particular, before antibiotics. Living past childhood put you in the lucky half, and living to be elderly by any measure made you unique.

Unlike his father, John David did have a will, but he didn’t write his will until 1897, when he was 85 years old. Perhaps John was an optimist as well. People in earlier times didn’t write a will until they felt like they might need one, which is why so many people died intestate. They didn’t expect death to visit when it did.

John David Miller died on February 10, 1902.

John David Miller’s death certificate says that he was born in Pennsylvania in 1812, that he died in Jackson Twp, age 89, married, of senile gangrene, was buried in Baintertown and the funeral director was C.B. Stiver.

The informant was Perry Miller, John’s youngest child who was born in 1862, more than a decade after his grandfather, David, had died. Still, one would think he would have remembered his grandfather’s name, but he didn’t. Additionally, John David was born in Ohio, not Pennsylvania. Death certificates are often notoriously incorrect about anything to do with past history. People providing the information are very clearly stressed, if they ever knew the correct information.

JDM death cert

The Baintertown Cemetery is also known as the Rodibaugh Cemetery. David, his first wife Mary and second wife Margaret are buried on the North side of Co Rd 29 right off St Rd 15 in the community known as Baintertown. From 15, turn east at Co Rd 29, cross the RR tracks, then look on the left where the cemetery is obvious. The marker is at the end of the little cemetery road on the right.

JDM Baintertown map

On the map above from the Elkhart County Cemetery book, I have drawn the location of John David’s grave, near the north end of the cemetery, his father David’s grave to the right and his brother David B. Miller’s grave for reference. The Baintertown Cemetery is full of Millers and is located on the original David Miller land. Ironic that Perry couldn’t remember David’s name, but his parents are buried on David’s original land and within sight of David’s own marker.

JDM headstone

John David’s headstone cost $100

JDM headstone receipt

Apparently John David wasn’t buried in his own clothes, as a receipt submitted to the estate by the undertakers lists a casket for $95, a vault for $15 and a robe for $7.

John David had three different obituaries – a genealogists dream come true.

His first obituary appeared on February 10, 1902, a Monday, the day that he died, and reads as follows:

Aged Pioneer Dead

John B. Miller, Nearly 90 Years, Succumbed Today

John B. Miller, one of the oldest citizens of Jackson township who would have been 90 years old April 6th next, died at 2 o-clock this afternoon at his home 2.5 miles northwest of New Paris of senile gangrene, having been ill the past six months. For about seventy years he had resided on the farm where he died having entered the homestead originally from the government. He has since been one of the stalwart and highly esteemed citizens of his community. For many years he has been a prominent and influential member of the German Baptist church. He is survived by his aged wife and ten children. The children are; Aaron, David B of this county; Mrs. John Dubbs of Warsaw, Mrs Michael Tresch of Syracuse, Mrs. David B. Blough, east of Milford, D.W. Miller and Mrs. Jonas Shively of Goshen, Ira J. Miller, east of New Paris, Harry A Miller west of Waterford, and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda east of Leesburg. The funeral arrangements are not yet made.

A second obituary in the Goshen Democrat reads:

John B. Miller aged nearly 90 and one of the oldest residents of Jackson Twp. died yesterday afternoon at his home 2.5 miles NW of New Paris. He was a member of the German Baptist church and is survived by 10 children including DW Miller and Mrs. Jonas Shively of Goshen. The funeral will take place at his house Wednesday morning at 10 and interment at Baintertown Cemetery.

The third obituary is from the Brethren publication, Gospel Messenger:

Miller, Bro John D. died Feb. 10, 1902, in the Union Center congregation, Ind., aged 89 years, 10 months and 4 days. He was born in Montgomery County, Ohio, April 6, 1812, married to Mary Baker in 1831, moved to Elkhart County, Ind., took up a government claim which he still occupied at his death. To this union were born 10 children, seven yet living. His wife died May 11, 1855. He was married again to Margaret E. Whitehead March 29, 1857. There were born to this union four children, three of whom are yet living. He leaves a wife and ten children. He was a devoted brother nearly sixty-five years. Services by brethren M. E. Eisenhour and Henry Neff.

Senile gangrene is a form of gangrene occurring particularly in old people, and caused usually by insufficient blood supply due to degeneration of the walls of the smaller arteries. However, we know from a suit filed before John David’s death that he had dementia, by whatever medical diagnosis you call it, and it was apparently affecting his cognitive ability.

There are two things that strike me about these obituaries. First, the Brethren obituary says that he was a “devoted brother nearly 65 years,” putting the date at 1837 or so. However, we know that John David was raised Brethren, so I find this comment a bit strange. Perhaps they were referencing the “official” formation of the church in Elkhart County which occurred in 1838.

Secondly, John David’s funeral was at home, not at the church. However, looking at the map, it does seem futile to take him 7 or 8 miles south, only to bring him back past his house and another 2 or 3 miles northeast to the Baintertown cemetery – so this makes a lot of practical sense. However, in light of the rift in the family, with at least one of his siblings and the battle brewing between his own children, that funeral must have been “interesting” to say the least.  I wonder if everyone attended.

Again, never in his wildest dreams…

The Battle Begins

The battle over John David’s property began before he died.

John David Miller wrote his will in 1897, but in 1901, before his death, his son David B. Miller (by first wife Mary Baker) filed an injunction in court asking for a guardian to be provided for his father who, in his words, “had a substantial estate and could no longer manage his affairs.” I can only imagine what a ruckus this must have caused within the family. There had to be some event or situation arise to cause this level of concern. Given the suit after John David’s death, I suspect that the concern might have been a result of how close John David had become to his wife, Margaret’s great nephew, Edward E. Whitehead, the grandson of her first husband’s brother, Peter Whitehead. However, before the case was heard, John David Miller died.

His will was written as follows:

I, John D. Miller of Elkhart County Indiana, do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time made.

Item 1 – I give and devise unto my wife the farm of 160 acres in Elkhart county on which we now live, together with all the personal property thereon, to her during her life, to use as maybe necessary for her support and comfortable maintenance and also all money I may have on hand at the time of my death except so much as maybe necessary for the payment of the expenses of my last sickness and burial.

Item 2 – After my wife’s death all of the property then remaining shall be sold and after payment of debts and expenses of the administration of the estate, the proceeds shall be divided into three equal parts. Out of one third part there shall be paid to my wife’s nephew Edward Whitehead $300 and the remainder thereof shall be divided equally between the three children of myself and my said wife, viz: Ira Miller, Louisa Fervedy and Perry Miller. The remaining 2/3 portion shall be divided into 10 parts of which one part shall be paid to each of my ten children, viz: Esther Shively, David Miller, Mary Ann Tresh, Aaron Miller, Jane Blough, Matilda Dubs, Washington Miller, Ira Miller, Louisa Fervedy and Perry Miller, or if either of these is dead the share of such ones shall be paid to his or her heirs at law.

Item 3 – I hereby nominate and appoint Alonzo Rodabaugh executor of this my will.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 29th day of April 1897.   Signed John D. Miller

Signed by John D. Miller as his last will and testament in our presence and signed by us in his presence and in the presence of each other. Margaret Ellen Gowing, Wilbur L Stonex. (recorded in will book page 67).

However, things don’t always work out as intended. By law, Margaret had the right to one third of his estate as her dower. She elected to take her one third as indicated by the following widow’s election.

Widow’s election recorded on page 111.

The undersigned widow of John D. Miller decd late of Elkhart County Indiana who died testate and whose last will and testament has been duly admitted to probate and record in the Elkhart Circuit Court hereby make election as such widow to hold and retain her right of dower in the personal estate of said decedent and to hold and retain her right to one third of the lands of which her husband died testate notwithstanding the terms of the said will, and she refuses to accept any devise or provision whatever made by said will in her favor, for, or in lieu of her said statutory right as widow in and to the personal property and real estate of said decedent.

Margaret (x her mark) E. Miller

Signed May 12, 1902

John David’s estate was controversial, to say the least, and eventually the bank was appointed the estate’s administrator, although Perry, John David’s youngest son, submitted paperwork for administration initially. Perry, however, was having issues of his own at home. His daughter Maud was suffering from tuberculosis which would claim her life the following year within days of his mother, Margaret’s death.

Perry, along with Margaret’s nephew, Edward E. Whitehead had done a great deal in the years before John’s death to help the elderly couple and had never been reimbursed for their efforts or expenses. They submitted receipts to the estate and those charges were disputed by the older set of children by Mary Baker. There was obviously a great deal of resentment between the two sets of children, if not before, from this point forward.

Finally, in the end, Washington Miller refused to contribute $10 of his portion of the estate for his father’s tombstone. Edward Whitehead, the nephew, paid Washington Miller’s share. That is surely the last, final insult one could inflict on a parent and an ugly legacy to leave behind. Edward Whitehead obviously cared a great deal for John David Miller.

JDM george refusal

The inventory for John David’s estate is as follows, and the widow took everything except the wheat, rye and corn against her 1/3 dower.  She needed household items to live.

Number Items Appraised Value
1 Jewell oak heating stove 4.00
1 Eight day clock .25
1 Sewing machine .05
4 Rocking chairs 1.50
1 Bedstead and spring 1.25
1 Old rag carpet 25 yards .50
1 Bureau 1.00
1 Stand .10
1 Bedstead .05
1 Bedspring and bedding 2.00
1 Rag carpet 15 yards .50
1 Ingrain carpet 15 yards .50
12 Winsor chairs 1.50
1 Dining table .25
1 Cupboard .50
1 Dough tray .25
1 Kitchen sinc .10
1 Hanging lamp .25
1 Pantry safe .50
1 Churn .05
1 Milch trough 1.25
15 Milch crocks .45
1 Lounge .05
1 110 lb lard 11.00
1 Cooking stove and furniture .50
1 Cross cut saw and brush cythe .05
1 Bucksaw .10
1 Log chain .05
1 Horse 3.00
1 Cow 30.00
1 Ladder and maul 1.25
1 Wheelbarrow and ax .75
1 Spring seat .25
30 Chickens 7.50
30 Acres growing wheat land lord ½ 150.00
32 Acres rye landlords 2/5 40.00
66 Bushels corn 38.34
1 Small looking glass .05
A few Old dishes, spoons, knives and forks 1.00
20 Bushels corn in crib 9.00
Total 309.69

Controversial estates are boons for the genealogist because so much is recorded.

For example, there is a statement in the estate packet that Aaron Miller owed the estate for several items that he “took” or “got” in 1896 and 1898, including a Hoosier Bell Corn Plow that was new in 1895 and he took in 1896, a set of double harnesses and a Champion self rake machine that he took in 1898. This suggests that John David was no longer farming for himself at this time. He would have been 84 in 1896. What is remarkable is that this also suggests he did farm until that time, because he reportedly bought the plow new in 1895.

However, Aaron’s story differed and he filed a petition that stated that the rake machine was very old, given to him by his father to cut 10 acres of clover on his place, has never been used since and is of no value.

Aaron continues to say that the harnesses he bought of his father and paid in full and that the corn plow was old, out of date, and not being in manufacture, cannot be repaired. He bought if of his father for $5. That differs quite a bit from the claim that the plow was new in 1895 and Aaron took it in 1896.

John David signed a receipt in 1899 stating that Edward Whitehead had provided services to John David and his wife that were of a value of $1000. That is a significant amount at that time.

JDM Whitehead receipt

Edward Whitehead filed this receipt signed by John David Miller in 1899 against his estate. I’m sure that was the intention when John signed the document given that his entire household inventory didn’t come to half that amount and he only had $30 “cash on hand” at his death. John David’s son, Ira, signed the receipt.

JDM Whitehead official doc

The executor would not honor this receipt based upon the complaints of Mary Baker’s children. Ira, Perry and Evaline, John David’s 3 youngest children, and his widow all signed a document stating that this receipt was itself valid and for valid work – even knowing that would reduce their share of the estate. Witnesses were subpoenaed and expenses incurred against the estate in order for the court to hear the testimony and determine that indeed, this was a valid charge against the estate. Unfortunately, we don’t have that testimony today, but I would love to have been a mouse in that courtroom.  I’m surprised this story didn’t filter down to my mother’s generation.  John David was her great-grandfather and mother knew Evaline, her grandmother, quite well.

In addition to the $1000 note, Edward Whitehead also submitted a list of expenses he incurred providing services beginning August 21, 1901 and continuing through April 5th 1902.

JDM Whitehead list

From this list and other receipts, we garner quite a bit of interesting information about John David’s life.

Their rooms were painted and wallpapered and they had screens in their windows. They had window shades, a pump inside and a water tank. Now that indeed WAS a luxury. I remember my grandmother, John David’s granddaughter, having the same arrangement some 55 or 60 years later.

The biggest difference between 1902 and 1960 was that my grandmother had a brand spanking new inside bathroom, and electricity. No more outhouse like John David would have had and no more sponge baths. Those outhouses were miserably cold in the winter and just as miserably hot and STINKY in the summer.

A very surprising entry was the gin and alcohol. Apparently, John David drank at least some, or perhaps this was considered medicinal. If it made him feel better, it was medicinal. There was little else they could do for him.

John David may not have had a buggy anymore, although there was one horse listed in his estate, but he had a buggy shed.

He also had a hair mattress, which would have been horsehair, considered a luxury and certainly a step up from a straw mattress. I wonder if this was purchased to attempt to make him more comfortable in his final days.

We know John David was ill for several months before his death, because the last entry is for care and nursing for just over 5 months before he died. His obituary also mentions that he had been ill for about 6 months. The last six months of his life were probably pretty miserable.

This receipt is for an additional $1104 against the estate.

At his death, according to estate paperwork, John David owned the north half of the SE quarter of section 5 and the west half of the SW quarter of section 5, both in township 35 north, range 6 East containing a total of 160 acres.

JDM quadrant

On the 1874 plat map above, the north half of the SE quarter is the top box shaded green, which was John David’s original land. The west half of the SW quarter is the land labeled C. Peffly. Obviously John David purchased this land sometime between 1874 and 1902.

JDM sale of land

John David’s total estate was valued at $4969.88 with the sale of his real estate counting for $4483.34 of the total according to the final account provided to the court in March of 1903.

Perry Miller also submitted a list of expenses beginning in 1884 which would have been when his father was 72.

JDM Perry Miller list

From these various sources, we know that John David had hogs and chickens and obviously, blackberries which had to be picked. He raised corn, wheat, rye, hay, potatoes and clover and heated with coal, probably in addition to wood. A bill was also submitted by Joseph Peffley for pruning grapes and fruit trees.

Perry had to obtain a judgement to collect these funds as well, according to the final estate distribution where Perry’s bill is listed as “on judgement.” Apparently Aaron B. Miller also had to obtain a judgment for 30.49. This was obviously a very difficult estate to settle with a great deal of contention.

Seven of John David’s children hired a separate attorney, Warren Berkey, to collect their portion of the estate: George Washington Miller, David B. Miller, Aaron B. Miller, Jane Blough, Hester Shively, Mary Ann Treesh and Matilda Dubbs. Her nickname, Tilda was lined through. This looks like the battle lines were drawn – the children of the first marriage vs the children of the second marriage, his widow Margaret and Edward Whitehead.  What a sad situation.

A different attorney, Lou Vail worked on the estate as the executor for Elkhart County Loan and Trust and submitted his bill. It’s from this document that we discover there were indeed 2 trials. We already knew that Edward Whitehead had to sue to have his receipts honored in Elkhart County. The second trial was Joseph B. Haney vs Miller in Kosciusko County.

JDM lawyer bill

Interestingly enough, according to court documents, in 1890 or 1891 John David gave each of his children “the sum of $1000 and at that said time settled in full with each of his said heirs and treated the husbands of each of his daughters as such heirs.”

That’s a lot of money – $10,000 in total.  For that time, John David was a wealthy man, but you would never have guessed.  He clearly lived very simply is a very Brethren manner.

There were several distributions to John David’s heirs. I am struck by how much better off everyone would have been to get along. Instead, John David’s older children contested the will which drove up the settlement costs, caused Margaret to petition the court for her one third share instead of leaving it in the estate to be divided by all heirs later which decreased older children’s share.  Contesting the will also incurred attorney bills that were paid out of the estate before their share, along with their own attorney who was paid out of their share before they saw a penny.  All in all, it turned out to be a very bad idea, on multiple levels

Here’s an example of the estate distribution according to John David’s will versus what happened, presuming he had an estate valued at $10,000.

JDM hypothetical settlement

Of course, George Washington Miller received $10 more than the rest of the heirs because he declined to contribute $10 for his father’s headstone. The actual distribution to the heirs looked to be significantly more than this, although I’m not quite sure where all the money came from. The estate is a bit disjoint and many documents don’t have dates so it’s impossible to reconcile.

John David would have been mortified that his will was not honored and that his son refused to pay $10 towards his marker.  That, probably more than anything, would have been hurtful.

Never in his wildest dreams….

John David Miller’s Children

John David Miller had 7 living children from his first marriage and 3 from his second. He also had 3 additional children from his first marriage and one from his second that did not survive. I was given the names of 3 children that “died young” for John David Miller, with no additional information. Those three children were John N. Miller, Catherine Miller and Samuel Miller. There are gaps in the surviving children’s births along with children in the 1840 census not found later that are suggestive of deaths.

There were no children born between 1833 and 1838, which suggests at least two deaths. There is also a gap between 1847 and 1851, suggestive of another child. Lastly, there were no children born after 1851 when Mary would have been 39 years old. She died in 1855, so it’s certainly possible that she lost a child in 1853 and perhaps died in childbirth in 1855.

Unfortunately, unless a Bible survives, there are no records of children who died before a census could at least record a brief existence on earth. Before the 1850 census, no names were recorded except for the head of household. All we know about those children who died between 1840 and 1850 is that they lived and their approximate age.

None of the graves of the Miller children who died have markers – assuming they are buried in the Baintertown Cemetery, which is the only location that makes sense – given that it was on David’s father’s land and that is where all of the early Millers are buried – including John David and both wives.

Elizabeth Miller, the wife of John David’s father, David, is the earliest marked grave, dating from 1838.  That marker wasn’t placed until David’s father died in 1851.  Elizabeth and David’s Miller’s graves are back towards the west side, and have a lot of “space” around them, suggesting unmarked graves.  I suspect this is where John David’s children are buried.

David Miller grouping

Unfortunately, this is all we can do to remember them.  Anonymous children in forgotten graves.

rje camera january 2004 021

This photo is of John David Miller with his second wife, Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller and 5 of his children.

john david miller family

Most of what we know about John David Miller comes from documents.  We have very little information about him as a person.

Cousin Rex told me a story about John David Miller. A man from Ohio came and challenged him to a fight. The man said that he heard that John David was the best fighter in the county, and John said he reckoned that he was. They went out in the field and went to it and finally, the man from Ohio conceded that indeed, John David was the best fighter. I told Rex that didn’t seem very Brethren-like, and he agreed, but said that John David didn’t take any gaff off of anyone, that he was very spunky.

John David Miller’s children with Mary Baker

Hester (Esther) Ann Miller was born May 26, 1833, reportedly in Ohio and died on February 27, 1917 in Elkhart County of stomach cancer. She is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Goshen. The 1850 census says she was born in Indiana, so this document may be incorrect.

JDm Hester Miller Shively death cert

Hester married Jonas Shively June 4th 1852 and had 8 children, 5 of them living in 1900:

  • Thomas E. Shively (1854-1854)
  • Amanda Shively (1858-1934) married Benjamin Berryman who died in 1880. She never remarried.
  • Reuben Shively (1860-1929) married Vicie Homan, wife’s name Lillie on death certificate
  • Alonzo Shively (1862-1933) married Daisy Wrightsman
  • Lydia Shively (1864-1865)
  • Joseph Shively (1866-1928) married Emma Larir
  • Mary Ellen Shively (1872-? ) married Alvin J. Stutzman
  • One child unaccounted for

David B. Miller was born August 18, 1838 in Elkhart County and died Sept. 25, 1922 of a chronic kidney inflammation and bronchitis. He is buried at Baintertown.

JDM David B Miller death cert

David B. Miller married Susan Smith on October 21, 1858. They had 9 children, 8 living in 1900, all born in Elkhart County.

  • Aaron Miller (1859-?) married Amanda Mason
  • John Melvin Miller (1861-1936) married Katherine Werner
  • Samson Miller (1864-1937) married Mary Werner
  • Mary Ann Miller (1867-1957) married William Sinning
  • Milton Miller (1868-1943) married Alice Yoder
  • Matilda Miller (1870-1926) married Ulysses Grant and Dora Carrier
  • Lydia Miller (1872-1953) married Orrin Whitehead
  • Amanda Miller (1874-1922 ) married David Saunders
  • One child unaccounted for

The following photo is of David B. Miller, son of John David Miller, with his family.

JDM David Miller family

Above – back row left to right – Milt Miller, Aaron Miller, Matilda Miller Grant, Samuel Miller, John Miller. Front row – Lydia Miller Whitehead, the mother Susan Smith Miller, Maude Miller, father David B. (probably Baker) Miller, Mary Ann Miller Sinning.

Mary Ann Miller born May 1, 1841 in Elkhart County and died on Sept 5, 1916, of double pneumonia.

JDM Mary Ann Treesh death cert

Mary Ann is buried at Baintertown.

JDM Treesh stone

Mary Ann married Michael Treesh on Dec. 23, 1858 and had 7 children, 4 living according to the 1900 census:

  • Aaron Treesh (1859-1928) married Ida Wyland
  • Chloe Ann Treesh (1861-1861)
  • Amanda (1865-1952) married Milton Stiver, then in 1917 to Melvin. D. Neff
  • Reuben (1868-1897) married Winnie Traster
  • John Milton (1875-1940) wife was Chloe at his death
  • Levi I. (1882-after 1900)
  • Michael Guy Treesh (1886-1886)

Aaron B. Miller was born in March 1, 1843 and died on February 20, 1923 in Cook County, Illinois. He is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.

JDM Aaron stone

He married Sarah Ellen Myers on September 4, 1864 and had 5 children, all living according to the 1900 census:

  • Charles I. Miller (1866-1947)
  • Clara E. Miller (1869-after 1880)
  • Ida Miller (1871-1906)
  • Alonzo A. Miller (1875-1903) unmarried
  • Emry (Emery J.) Miller (1878- ) married in 1907 in Kalamazoo, MI to Louise Lathrop

Matilda A., also known as Tilda and Tillie Miller was born in May 26, 1844 in Elkhart County and died on February 6, 1939 in Kosciusko, County of a stroke.

JDM Matilda Miller Dubbs death cert

Matilda is buried in the Salem Cemetery.

JDM Dubbs stone

Matilda married John Dubbs on February 14, 1861 in Elkhart County.

JDm Matilda Dubbs

Matilda had the following children:

  • William Benson Dubbs (1862-1944 ) married Sarah “Dessie” Lentz, sister of Moses Lentz.
  • Margaret Amana “Emma” Dubbs (1864-1947) married Moses F. Lentz
  • Chloe Dubbs (1866-1942) married Jacob B. Neff
  • Mary Dubbs (1870-1929) married William Oldfield Scott
  • Franklin Dubbs (1873-1931) married Leora Myra Messnard
  • Charles Augustus Dubbs (1876-1939) married Maude V. Beegle

Martha Jane Miller was born March 26, 1847 in Elkhart County and died March 2, 1935 in Kosciusko County of myocarditis with heart failure and bronchitis.

JDM Martha Jane Blough death cert

Martha Jane is buried in the Salem Cemetery in Kosciusko County.

She married David Blough September 17, 1866 and had 7 children, all living according to the 1900 census:

  • Noma “Neoma” Ellen Blough (1867-1954) married William Melvin Tom
  • Charley Blough (1869-after 1900)
  • Hattie D. Blough (1872-1954) married Chester Juntz
  • Jesse Calvin Blough (1874-1936) married Lena Gibson
  • Albert “Birt” Blough (1877-1905) married Ora ?
  • Lulu Blough (1879-1966) married Milo Maloy
  • Mary “May” M. Blough (1886-1969) married Homer Lewis but had the surname Jontz on her death certificate

JDM Martha Jane Blough

Martha Jane Miller Blough with her hand on John David’s shoulder.

George Washington Miller was born Feb. 20, 1851 and died on March 11, 1917, both in Elkhart County. He is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Goshen, Indiana, but I don’t find him listed in that cemetery, or anyplace in Elkhart County, on FindAGrave.

JDM George Washington Miller death cert

George Washington was not wearing a beard and my not have been Brethren.

JDM George Washington Miller

George Washington, who I believe was called “Wash,” married Lydia Miller on May 25, 1871 and they had 6 children, 5 living as of the 1900 census.

  • May Miller (1873-before 1900)
  • Eunice Miller (1874-1944) never married
  • Ada (1876-before 1900)
  • Gertrude (1880-1965) married Howard W. Neff
  • Myrtle (1884-1958) never married
  • One additional child died before 1900.

John David Miller’s Children with Margaret Lentz

Evaline Louise Miller was born March 29, 1857 in Elkhart County and died on December 20, 1939 in Leesburg, Kosciusko County of a kidney infection followed by heart failure.

Margaret Lentz Evaline Miller Ferverda death

Evaline is buried in the New Salem Cemetery in Milford, Kosciusko County, Indiana.

Hiram and Eva Ferverda stone

Evaline, or Evy as she was called, married Hiram B. Ferverda on March 10, 1876 in Goshen, Indiana and had the following children.

  • Ira Otto Ferverda (1877-1950) married Ada Pearl Frederickson
  • Edith Estella Ferverda (1879-1955) married Tom Dye
  • Irvin Guy Ferverda (1881-1933) married Jessie Hartman
  • John Whitney Ferverda (1882-1962) married Edith Barbara Lore
  • Elizabeth Gertrude Ferverda (1884-1966) married Louis Hartman
  • Chloe Evaline Ferverda (1886-1984) married Rolland V. Robinson
  • Ray Edward Ferverda (1891-1975) married Grace P. Driver
  • Roscoe H. Ferverda (1893-1978) married Effie Ringo and Ruby Mae Teeter.
  • George Miller Ferverda (1895-1970) married Lois Glant and Elizabeth Haas.
  • Donald D. Ferverda (1899-1937) married Agnes Ruple
  • Margaret Ferverda (1902-1984) married Chester H. Glant

Grandma Evaline Miller Ferverda

This photo was taken during WWI when Evaline had three sons serving in the military based on the three stars in the window. This was decidedly un-Brethren behavior, although Evaline was indeed Brethren. Mother remembered her wearing her white prayer bonnet.

Ira J. Miller was born July 26, 1859 in Elkhart County and died December 17, 1948 of heart disease. He is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery. Ira married Rebecca Jane Rodibaugh in 1885 according to the 1900 census and had 2 children, both living as of the 1900 census:

  • Orba O. Miller (1873-after 1900) age given as 16 in 1900 census
  • Everett E. Miller (1897-1991 ) married Mamie Smoker

Everett’s son, Rex, conveyed the story that Perry Miller died of an appendicitis at age 18. Perry did not die at 18, but given that Orba Miller disappears after the 1900 census, I’d bet Orba is the person who died at 18. Orba would have been Perry’s nephew and Rex’s father’s brother.

Rex tells us that Orba and Ira attended the Baintertown school, a one room schoolhouse, eventually abandoned and located on Rex’s land.  He fixed it up as a barn and still continued to utilize the building.

Margaret Lentz Ira Miller

Ira Miller and Rebecca Rodibaugh.

Perry A. Miller was born June 25, 1862 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died Dec. 22, 1906 of a twisted bowel that resulted in a bowel obstruction. This could well have been the genesis of Rex’s information that he died of appendicitis. Perry is buried in the Violett Cemetery.

Margaret Lentz Perry Miller stone

Perry was married to Mary Jane Lauer on October 2, 1881 and had 4 children, 3 living as of the 1900 census:

  • Maud Miller (1882-1905)
  • Purl A. Miller (1885-1960) married Adeline B. Schrock
  • Ottie Miller (1889-after 1900)
  • One child unaccounted for

Counting the Uncounted

The 1900 census provides us with two very useful pieces of information. Column 11 is titled “Mother of how many children” and column 12 is titled “Number of these children living.” I must say that census day was probably a sad day for most women, being reminded of the children who has passed before them. And yes, most women who had been married had lost children.  Those few who hadn’t had siblings and friends who lost children.  Losing up to half your children was the norm, not the exception.

For genealogists, this allows us to do two things.

First, on a personal level, it allows us to identify how many children our ancestors had that died. Often, they weren’t recorded and are entirely unknown to us today, even just 116 years distant.

Second, on a more global level, it allows us to get a picture of what was “typical” before the widespread advent of birth control and before the introduction of antibiotics, both of which have dramatically tipped the scales toward smaller families with most children surviving. What was common and expected at that time, to some extent, is now very unusual and a crisis when a child is lost.

John David’s children’s 1900 census entries are reflected below, allowing us to count the previously uncountable.

Name Total Children Living Children Deceased Children
Hester 8 5 3
David 9 8 1
Mary Ann 7 4 3
Aaron 5 5 0
Matilda* 9? 6 3?
Mary Jane 7 7 0
George W. 6 5 1
Evaline 11 11 0
Ira 2 2 0
Perry 4 3 1
Total 68 56 12

Some children passed not long after the 1900 census. At least two more died within the next 5 years.

*The 1900 census for Matilda was incorrect, as it lists only one child for her. She had one child left at home, but we know from census and other documents that she, did, indeed have six living children. Her deceased child count is based on “gaps” between children of approximately 4 years.

Very few of the graves of the deceased children are marked, probably speaking more to the economic conditions than to how the parents felt. They may have been marked with wooden crosses at the time they were buried. The general feeling was that, other than the parents, no one would need to find the grave.  The parents would never forget the location and didn’t need a marker to find the stone. After the parents were gone, no one would care, so no marker needed.

John David lost 4 of 14 children himself. Of his 10 surviving children, above, he had a total of 68 grandchildren, 56 of which were still living in 1900, as was he.

Conversely, this also means that John David buried 12 grandchildren, plus his own 4. His daughter, Hester (also recorded as Esther) married in 1852, so John David buried 12 grandchildren in 48 years, plus 4 children of his own. That’s approximately one death every 4 years, although death wasn’t always spaced out in convenient increments – as if death is ever convenient. For example, one of his children, Perry, lost a child and his mother, Margaret, within a month of each other and two of John David’s children lost children the same year they lost him. Death, then, was a more accepted part of life than it is today. I wonder if the sheer quantity made one a bit immune.

If these rough numbers are applicable to John David’s siblings as well, then John David was attending at least 2 funerals a year, if not more, for children…and that’s in addition to adults – and just for his immediate family without factoring in the rest of the church.

Going to the graveyard was a somber event far too familiar to our ancestors. When you look at the magnitude of the deaths within a community, even a relatively small community, it’s no wonder only adult burials were permanently marked, and only some of those. A child’s tombstone before 1900 was very, very rare.     

John David Miller’s Autosomal DNA

In the article about Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller, we utilized two Lentz men for autosomal DNA comparison to find snippets of Margaret’s DNA in her descendants. Let’s do the same thing with John David Miller, utilizing individuals who descend only from the Miller line upstream of John David. Any DNA they share with descendants of John David Miller and Margaret Lentz must be Miller DNA and not Lentz DNA.

I did an experiment called “Just One Cousin” some time back to illustrate the magnitude of genetic genealogy information that one can indeed obtain from having “just one cousin” in the data base. However, in my case, that one cousin was actually two, Cheryl and her brother, Don, both descendants of John David Miller and Margaret Lentz Miller through daughter Evaline who married Hiram Ferverda.

In “Just One Cousin,” I was trying to find all of the people who match Cheryl, Don and my mother, so that could potentially include some folks who are also descended from Lentz ancestors. What we’ll do in this article is to limit the people we’re comparing against to those who are known to be Miller only descendants, who share a common paternal ancestor with John David Miller.

We will use the same 4 descendants of John David Miller and Margaret Lentz for our comparison group of descendants from our family line.

How is Everyone Related?

Rex Miller, our cousin, matches 4 other Miller men utilizing Y DNA who have also taken the Family Finder test. This Y DNA match confirms that indeed, these individuals do share a common Miller ancestor. These men also have their genealogy proven back to Michael Miller, the immigrant, so they are excellent candidates for autosomal comparison.

JDM DNA pedigree

The men in green will be compared to all 4 individuals in the bottom row of the pink box, descended from John David Miller, to determine which of their DNA came from John David Miller as opposed to Margaret Lentz. The common ancestor is Philip Jacob Miller and wife, Magdalena.

The two men in red, JM and RM can’t be utilized in this comparison, even though their Y DNA matches Rex.

Unfortunately, JM and RM don’t match any of the individuals in the pink box, so son Lodowich’s line is not represented.

Here is how the green and red Miller men are related to the testers in the pink box descended from John David Miller.

JDM relationship chart

The relationships are somewhat distant, more distant than the third cousin Lentz relationships in Margaret Lentz’s article, so not all of the Miller men match the individuals in the pink box.

Given that 4th cousins aren’t “supposed” to match, although they often do, why do both of these 4th cousins match almost everyone in the pink group? Note the yellow boxes in the pedigree chart above where one man in each line married a Miller cousin. That gives that generation a double dose of Miller DNA, which has obviously carried down to the present, giving RWM and HM more Miller DNA than they would have otherwise. Still everyone doesn’t match everyone.

RWM matches Cheryl, but not Don, who are siblings, which illustrates why it’s so important to test your siblings if your parents aren’t available.

At Family Tree DNA, I compared all 4 of our pink individuals to both RWM and HM. The chromosome browser below shows the matches of our 4 John David descendants to HM.

JDM chromosome browser

  • Rex = orange
  • Barbara = blue
  • Don = green
  • Cheryl = pink

I downloaded their matching segment data and after removing the segments under 3cM, we’re left with the matches, below.

JDM match chart

Sorting in chromosome order shows us 4 red/pink (so you can tell where they start and stop) match groups, above. Keep in mind that all of these segments are indeed Miller segments (or identical by chance), because we know the common ancestor and that there are no other known common ancestors.  Please note the word “known,” because it’s important.

The 4 groups colored red and pink are match groups where 3 individuals or more match on the same segment.  These are not (yet) triangulation groups and we can’t assume, although it’s tempting.  Assume will get you every time!

Some, chromosomes 4 (red) and 12, match on smaller segments, but look at the yellow rows. Those are very robust segments that very likely have been passed down from Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena, our common ancestors.

I went back to the chromosome browser and confirmed that yes, indeed, these red segment match groups do triangulate, meaning all of the matching participants match each other on that same segment…except for the segment on chromosome 3 where RWM matches Rex.  Rats!  I never expected a match of this size to NOT triangulate, but I knew something was wrong when RWM only matched Rex and not Cheryl, Don or Barbara.  Hmmm….

JDM triangulation

The segments that do triangulate are marked with green, meaning all people in the group matches every other person in the group on at least part of that segment, so we are unquestionably looking at John David Miller’s DNA in our pink group of Miller descendants – Don, Cheryl, Rex and Barbara.

JDM chr 3

On chromosome 3, three of four of John David’s descendants match each other and HM on a significant sized segment. The graphic above is the relevant segment of chromosome 3.  The background is Barbara and you can see that she matches Don (orange), Cheryl (green) and HM (blue) but even at 1cM, there is no trace of matching to either Rex (yellow) or RWM (pink).  Don and Cheryl’s chromosome 3 matches Barbara and HM, but not RWM or Rex, so the Rex and RWM segment does not triangulate to the rest of the group.  The chart below shows matching on this segment of chromosome 3.

JDM chr 3 triang grid

How is it possible for Rex and RWM to match each other on the same segment as Barbara, Don, Cheryl and HM match each other, but for Rex and RWM not to match either Barbara, Don, Cheryl or HM?  I also verified that HM and RM don’t match each other on that segment either.

There are only two possible answers.  Either that segment is IBC, identical by chance which is very unlikely for a segment of 16cM, or Rex and RWM share another, previously unknown, common ancestor.  I don’t have much information on Rex’s mother’s line.  This also calls into question other matches between only Rex and RWM – meaning they might not be from the Miller line either.

Hmmm….so glad I didn’t just assume, even WITH those large juicy segments.  Sometimes the DNA tells us a story even without the associated genealogy – in this case, that Rex and RWM may have another common ancestor they are unaware of.

It’s amazing what cousins, match groups and triangulation can tell us about our ancestors!

Pretty cool, huh!

Summary

It’s absolutely amazing to me as I sit here using a computer in 2016, surfing the web, accessing DNA information on a server in Houston, TX, records information from a server in Salt Lake, periodically checking to see what my friends and cousins are up to on Facebook which is located someplace distant (I have no idea where) and checking my phone for messages, how dramatically different my world and John David Miller’s world are, in just a little over a hundred years. John David didn’t even have electricity.

We’re not talking “change” but an exponential technological revolution that John David couldn’t have ever imagined.

John David died in 1902, I was born a little over half a century later when most farms still didn’t have inside running water and utilized outhouses. I remember taking a bath as a young child in a cold metal tub sitting on my grandmother’s kitchen table on Saturday night with water warmed in a kettle on the stove so I would be clean for church on Sunday, and I remember the water pump built into the back porch.

I also remember a wasps building a nest under the “seat” (boards with strategically placed hole) in the outhouse – a story that repeatedly and regularly amused my brother until his dying day. I still hate wasps and swear that they chase me.

Another half century later, exactly on the 100th anniversary of John David’s death, we would be testing DNA of people to discover what story our ancestors had to tell. That’s clearly within the lifetime of one person – my mother, Barbara in the pink descendant group, participated in both ends of the spectrum, being born only 20 years after John David died in a home a few miles distant with no electricity or plumbing, and having, thankfully, tested her DNA before her passing.

It’s difficult to grasp, and John David Miller would be incredibly shocked that we can isolate some of his DNA today. Of course, people didn’t even know about DNA then.  DNA wasn’t discovered until 1953 – and it would take another quarter century to discover anything much useful about DNA. However, by the year 2000, we knew how to sequence DNA and how to utilize it for genealogy, thanks to Bennett Greenspan, although it was clearly an emerging infant science.

Antibiotics hadn’t been introduced when John David lived, and died. That wouldn’t happen for another two decades and would be a life-changer for many. In fact, one of John David’s grandchildren died of tuberculosis, some of his children died of kidney infections, pneumonia and one died of sepsis. The medical profession knew enough to diagnose the ailments, at least part of the time, but couldn’t do anything about them most of the time.

In a century we have moved from expecting a roughly 50% child mortality rate, with children dying so often than their graves weren’t even marked to a genetic moonshot. John David’s children were lucky and only cumulatively experienced an 18% childhood mortality rate.  John’s own rate was 28%, 4 of 14 died. Today, it’s nearly zero.

Although genetic genealogy is not about medicine, the public awareness and acceptance of DNA testing fostered by genetic genealogy has rapidly helped move a generation of consumers from skepticism to acceptance – and with that will come, probably in this next generation and certainly the next 50 years – the ability to “cure” genetic diseases. John David’s children’s and grandchildren’s death certificates are ripe with potentially genetically connected causes of death; epilepsy, dementia, lots of cardiac and kidney issues, strokes and multiple instances of stomach cancer.

A new day has dawned and come bursting forth, not only in terms of losing fewer children and finding ancestors through distant electronic connections, but in terms of being on the leading edge of a technology that is the space race of our generation. DNA is the frontier inside of us – gifted to us by our ancestors.

Every person who has participated in genetic genealogy testing has been a pioneer on that frontier, much as John David Miller was a pioneer along Turkey Creek on what was known as the Elkhart Prairie. What a wonderful legacy to leave – a family of pioneers – different centuries, different frontiers. Wouldn’t John David Miller be surprised what four his non-Brethren great-grandchildren have done – Barbara, Cheryl, Rex and Don, those 4 individuals in the pink box – and what their DNA can tell us about him.

Never, in his wildest dreams….