I’m so excited I can hardly type. Taking the time to write this means garnering a huge amount of self-control, because it’s not AT ALL what I want to be doing right this minute.
Let me tell you why!
Huge drum roll…..please.
A forever brick wall is beginning to crumble.
I said beginning, because it’s in the process…thanks to DNA.
For brick walls in the current generation, meaning for adoptees or unknown parent or grandparent situations, when just the right matches appear, meaning generally first or second cousin, or closer, it’s a matter of narrowing the candidates coming forward in time. Genealogical brick walls are different.
When working on historical walls, further back in time, the process isn’t nearly so straightforward and solving those brick walls takes a huge amount of work and patience with some luck sprinkled in the recipe. Plus, you’re going backward in time where the matches are more tenuous and the matching segments smaller. That means it’s more difficult to draw conclusions.
Let me give you a quick example.
I have one particularly difficult line where I don’t know the identities of three women in generational succession, wives of the males in a direct paternal line. It looks like this:
As you can see, these unknown wives are several generations back in time, and I never, EVER thought I’d break through this brick wall, but I’m in that process.
Now, I know you’re dying to ask how this is being done, so I’m going to tell you.
In my father’s line, I’ve had several cousins test. Many, probably 20, but not all of them reach back to this particular line, although several do. I’ve simplified the example above for illustration purposes. (I will eventually write the details, when I have more proof.)
My known cousins have matches with other people (previously unknown before DNA matches) also descended from the gggg-grandfather born in 1747. Let’s call him gggg-grandfather Jones. That’s not his surname, but I don’t want to start any genealogy rumors before I’m positive, because that’s how surnames get attached incorrectly to trees based on speculation and hypothesis.
I sorted through the matches for all of the known cousins descended from this line, looking for segments that people with known Jones Ancestry carry.
Then, I triangulated those segments. In some cases, with the assistance of those previously unknown matches.
I must say that the cousin who tested from my grandmother’s generation (although not her direct line) was immeasurably helpful. He was in his 90s and welcomed the opportunity to contribute to our family history. As it turns out, that just might be his legacy!
There turned out to be three segments in particular that were particularly interesting, shared by several different matches, and triangulated with known Jones descendants.
However, there were several people who also triangulated on these segments with Jones descendants, and each other, but who DO NOT HAVE KNOWN JONES ANCESTRY. Some have extensive trees with no opportune holes where a Jones might fit.
However, as I evaluated the surnames of the people who were matching each other on a Jones DNA segment, I discovered a trend. The trend is the surname Campbell, AND, in (at least) one case, one of the Jones segments is ALSO triangulated to the Campbell family. We’re not talking small segments either. Here’s an example of a portion of that triangulating segment on chromosome 17.
Now, if the same segment is triangulated to the Jones line AND to the Campbell line, then the Jones line obviously carries some Campbell DNA which is descending through the Jones males. Or conversely, the Campbell line has some Jones DNA that is passing through the Campbell line.
To illustrate, the three segments have the following characteristics.
Chromosome 17 is the one that triangulated to BOTH the Jones and Campbell lines.
I feel like we’ve just punched a hole though a brick wall. It may be a tiny hole today, but rest assured, I’ll be whittling away at that wall.
The Key to Success
The bottom line here is that I THINK I’m on to the surname of one of those missing Jones wives.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this using a similar technique for one of my lines, it’s the third. The difference is that in the earlier cases, I had a potential surname for the wife. This time, I had no idea. With the greater numbers of people testing, breaking down brick walls using this type of methodology is getting easier and easier.
The key is to have as many cousins as possible test. Every time you convince a cousin to test, or pay for a test of someone related in some fashion, it’s a gift to yourself as well as them.
Me, sheepishly: OK, it might just be a gift for you! 😊
Coupons For Your Breakthrough
It’s Monday, so the Family Tree DNA coupons have been distributed for the week. If you wanted to order a DNA test for holiday giving, but didn’t get it done in time, you can simply print a picture of a present or a double helix and the order confirmation page, put it in a box and wrap it up!
If you are already a Family Tree DNA customer, your Holiday Reward coupon is listed on your personal page. If not, or you can’t use yours for what you want to purchase, here are some of mine (plus extra, thanks to cousin Jim) that you can use. This week’s discounts are great and you can use most of them for any purchase over a certain dollar threshold, although those coupons are restricted to new products, not upgrades to existing projects.
Just click here to check your page or redeem the coupons below.
If you have coupons to share, please feel free to list those in the comments.
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