Coventry and the Ribble Valley

Are you ready for the next leg of our British DNA journey?  Come along.  We’re leaving Cambridge, visiting historic Coventry and arriving in the Ribble Valley, home of our Speak family ancestors, and the Pendle witches, today!

Did I mention that we had some excitement in the hotel in Cambridge the night before we left?  Aside from a very loud and roudy wedding party, the fire alarm went off about 1:30 in the morning.  Jim leaped out of bed, shouting “what is that?”, grabbed his iPad, tore open the cover and frantically started pushing buttons to make the noise stop, thinking it was his alarm, of course.  I started yelling at Jim that it was the fire alarm and to get dressed quickly.  You can’t make someone with a hearing impairment hear over a fire alarm.  So looking something like the keystone cops, we frantically threw clothes on and just as we were about finished and ready to evacuate, the alarm silenced, thankfully.  Indeed, not before we were wide awake though.  I wondered if the alarm had something to do with the wild wedding party.  But justice was served.  Because as we very sleepily boarded the bus the next morning at 8 AM, the alarm went off again, waking up all of those revelers:)  I swear, I was ON the bus and had nothing to do with that.  I have witnesses!  Although I must admit, I did smile a very big smile.  Ahhh, karmic justice!

This trip was arranged in part by a travel agent, and in part by Susan Sills, the president of the Speaks Family Association, with probably too much help and input from members.  The parts that Susan arranged were wonderful.  The parts that the travel agent arranged were, at best, OK.  I think they decided that we had 2 hours and were going past a landmark and we surely needed to stop at that location.  I’m including some of these stops because they really did turn out to be historically interesting, but have omitted others.

Were any of your ancestors skilled tradesmen?  Tilers, bricklayers, stainers, painters, carpenters or merchants perhaps?  If so, they were members of a guild, and guilds had guild halls.  The men spent a lot of time in those halls.  Have you ever wondered about that?  What were they doing?  What did the halls look like?  Well, come with us today, we’re going to visit a pretty amazing one.  Keep your ancestor in mind as we do, because their hall was probably similar to this one!

After leaving Cambridge, we arrived in Coventry, a city very heavily bombed during WW2. It was Churchill’s home town and had lots of manufacturing, so was a very attractive target to the Germans.                       

Coventry guild hall

After arriving in Coventry, we met up with our walking guide and our first stop was the medieval St. Mary’s Guild Hall in quaint Bayley Lane. The Guild Hall is the tall building on the right with the archway entrances.  Built in the 1300s or so, it’s one of the city’s oldest buildings.  It was the wealthy merchants guild, and also the town council chambers for a very long time.  No undue influence there.

Coventry guild hall 1810

This 1810 painting is looking from the street through the archway into the courtyard of the Guild Hall.  It doesn’t look much different today.  One difference is that the staircase on the left is enclosed today.  See the railing end in the photos below.

Coventry guild hall piazza

It’s a beautiful buildings, nothing even or straight in the entire place.  It was obviously not the carpenters guild.

Coventry guild hall door

I love the old doors and archways.

Coventry guild hall stair

Upon entering the doors from the courtyard today you turn right and climb the stairs, which were open in the original Guild Hall.  Here’s the original carved railing.

Coventry guild hall door 2

The relative worth of doors, and those who lived behind then, and their ability to stand up to battering from invading “evil forces” was determined by the number of metal studs embedded in the door.  Who knew?

Coventry guild hall princes chamber

Never let it be said that I have not visited the Prince’s Chamber:)  This is how family legends get started, by the way.  “I saw a picture of grandma in the Princes Chamber in England.”  In 3 or 4 or 7 or 8 generations, this will be a MUCH better story!!!

Coventry guild hall tapestry

Behind the glass, under that beautiful stained glass window, hangs a stunning woven tapestry.

Coventry guild hall tapestry close

The ‘Coventry Tapestry’ is the highlight of the historic collections at St. Mary’s Guild Hall.

Manufactured about 1495 to 1500, its significance lies not just in its age and remarkable state of preservation, but also in the fact that, incredibly, it remains hanging on the very wall for which it was created more than five hundred years ago.

At more than nine metres wide and three metres high, this magnificent artwork dominates the north wall of the Great Hall, and is testament to both the skill of its Flemish weavers, and the wealth of the city of Coventry at the end of the fifteenth century.

The scene portrayed includes 75 individual characters, principally members of a Royal court, angels, saints and apostles, with an image of the Virgin Mary at its center, and incorporates numerous examples of symbolism and hidden meaning, some of which remain unexplained. It has even been observed that light from the west windows specifically illuminates the head of the Virgin Mary at certain times of the year, either a strange co-incidence or an inspired feature of the original design.

Here’s a better photo.

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In this photo, you can actually get an idea of the size of the hall itself.  It certainly doesn’t look this large from the street.  This is the area directly to the rear as you were entering the piazza.

Coventry guild hall gables

And the Guild Hall ceiling.  I just can’t help myself, I love the medieval architecture.

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And the beautiful mosaic file floors.

Coventry guild hall spiral stairs

One really interesting piece of history is that there is a small room upstairs, very crooked and sloping, and only accessible via a very small, very steep circular stairway. I’m amazed they let people go up there in terms of safety and liability.  Mary Queen of Scots was hidden here at one time.

Coventry guild hall windows

Looking outside into the courtyard and on into the street under the archway though the windows in Mary Queen of Scot’s hidden room.

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They do have some beautiful furnishings, like the original council chamber, shown here, and a rich history.  They also have some medieval armor that you can “try on.”

Jim viking

Now you know me by now well enough to know I could not bypass this opportunity.  This Viking style helmet was Jim’s favorite.

Jim helmet

Oh yea, I like this French Troubador one best!!!  I think he should use it as his Facebook profile photo, don’t you???

Jim troubador

I think Jim was saying, “No, you are NOT going to put this on the blog, are you?”

What do you mean, where are the pictures of me in the hats???  There are no pictures of me in the hats:)  None.  Nada.  Not anymore.

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These slot windows were defensive – they were created to shoot arrows through when under siege.

Coventry, like all towns that were once Medieval, has a market space and an open area, usually right in the center of town.

Coventry market square

Lady Godiva rode here.  I wasn’t terribly interested in Lady Godiva, or the statue, but I was extremely interested in the Starbucks on the other side of the square.  So you’ll excuse the fact that I had to go to Wiki to find a Lady Godiva statue photo:)  You know where I was!

Lady Godiva

While I was in Starbucks, I also purchased a salad, because we were running late and I knew that on a Sunday morning trying to find a lunch to eat in half an hour would be impossible.  So Jim and I were about to have another impromptu picnic.  Starbucks coffee and salad in the sunshine under beautiful blue skies on a Sunday morning in a church, or what is left of one.  Truly, what could be better?  How can you improve on that?

Coventry cathedral

Our next stop was the earliest church in Coventry, now in ruins, because the Germans bombed the city so relentlessly.  The bombs burned the church, but the walls still stand. It’s a beautiful skeleton.

Coventry cathedral 2

Our guided tour ended here, and our other family members dispersed to try to find a quick lunch.  Jim and I were left to ourselves, or nearly so, in the beautiful sentry standing mute testimony.  Once again, we began our picnic.  But the church just up the street was letting out and the church bells began to peel.  They were beautiful, and the church bells still function, giving voice to this church we thought was silent.

Coventry cathedral 3

We left Coventry and visited Shugborough Historic Estate.  We did a quick tour, because we were running late, again.

Fake library door

One of the most interesting things I found was all of the secret doors found in all of the old manor houses.  Here’s one example where they took library book ends and made the door look like part of the bookshelves.

Shugborough gardens

I found this house to look more “old” than historic.  Probably because they had restored it to between the 1920s and the 1970s when it was last lived in.  However, from the rear, the formal Victorian gardens were remarkable.  The bush shapes remind me of jelly candies:)  I’m sure that’s not what they had in mind.

Shugborough

From there, we still had about 2 and a half hours to Stirk House, where we are staying in the Ribble Valley.  The Ribble Valley is the land of rolling hills and what I would call moors and low mountains; the land of legends as well.  It’s believed that the Hobbit books, in particular, Middle Earth, was written after the Ribble Valley.  The author spent a great amount of time writing here while his son was in school in the area.  It’s a very distinctive area.  Outside of London it’s very much like Michigan or the US – but when you enter the Ribble Valley, it’s immediately different, remote, otherworldly.  It’s also the land of Robin Hood.  In fact, in the Robin Hood stories, there is a “Guy of Gisburne.” Gisburn is where our Speak ancestors are from.

If you remember, this entire trip to the British Isles all began with DNA testing.  Our Speak(e)(s) family finally connected with the source location of our American family in the British Isles, thanks to our cousin, Doug, from New Zealand.  New Zealand was settled much later than the US and Doug’s family knew where they were from in the UK, exactly, and still had contact with family members there.  The Speak(e)(s) family in the US arrived about 1660 and descendants didn’t know where they were from, in England.  We had been searching for that information for years.  We had suspicions and theories, but no proof.

The Speak(e)(s) Family Association meets yearly, and in 2011, I presented the results of the Y DNA testing to our group, ending my surprise presentation with pictures of Gisburn and the throw-away comment of, “I don’t know about you, but I want to go there.  I want to stand in that churchyard.”  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, because planning began for the 2013 homecoming in Lancashire, England.

Rainbow

The excitement on the bus grew as we traveled. It was palpable.  You could feel it. After all, we had all traveled thousands of miles from around the globe to step back in time, not only figuratively, but literally as well in the Ribble Valley.  On the way, we were graced with a beautiful rainbow,  Getting a picture of the rainbow was a challenge through the bus windows.  We interpreted this incredible rainbow as a welcome from our ancestors.

Turning off the main roads, we began to see signs for places we had researched.  The names began to look familiar, Whalley, Gisburn, Clitheroe.  We knew we were close.

Pendle hill fog

This photo is of Pendle Hill, a local landmark that you can see from anyplace in the Ribble Valley.  To the right is the east end of Longridge Fell. Mist lies in the Ribble valley between them.

Pendle hill panoramic

This panoramic view of Pendle Hill is not from the Ribble Valley, but from Newchurch on the other side of the hill.

Ribble Valley first view

Here is our first view of the Ribble Valley.  These hills are high enough that they are moors on the hill.  Pendle Hill towers over the entire Ribble Valley, along with a ridge and cliffs.  Below was our first view of Pendle Hill.

Pendle Hill first view

The Pendle Hills are full of legends, and sheep.  One of the legends is of the Pendle Witches.  England did not escape the witchcraft craze and several women were executed here in the Pendle area for witchcraft in 1612.  One test of being a witch was to be held underwater for 30 minutes.  If you were dead, you were innocent.  If you were alive, you were then tortured and killed for being a witch.  Talk about being dead right.

One of the issues we had with the travel agent was where to stay in the Ribble Valley.  There aren’t any Holiday Inns.  In fact, the agent wanted the bus driver to take us back each evening to Manchester, 40 miles distant to a sterile Best Western.  We wanted to stay in the Ribble Valley, to be where our ancestors had been.  Susan found a conference/meeting facility, literally, in the middle of the valley, that was a restored manor house.  We wanted to stay there, but the travel agent didn’t have a “working relationship” with the Stirk House.  The day came when we simply told them to figure it out or we would, without them, because we were staying at the Stirk House.

Our cousin, Steve Speak, could not join us in the Ribble Valley, but he did meet us in Cambridge for dinner.  Steve is from the Gisburn area and told us that the Stirk House was purchased in the 1930s or 40s by a Peter Speak and he took the next 20 years to restore the manor house which had deteriorated into a terrible state.  On the way, in the bus, Susan took a look at the Gisburn Church records, and sure enough, a Speak woman died in the 1940s, is buried in Gisburn at the church and her residence was listed as “Stirkhouse, Gisburne.”  Now how uncanny is that.  So regardless of exactly where in this beautiful valley our original Speak ancestor lived, we are indeed staying on historic Speak land at the Stirk House.

The Tudor manor house known as the Stirk House was built in 1635, using stones from
the former Sawley Abbey which had been dismantled a century earlier under the
orders of Henry VIII.

The Stirk House was everything we could have imagined and more.  Beautiful facility, wonderful gardens and nature area, good food and a spa if you’re interested.

Stirk House

Welcome home!

Stirk House gardens

I love the moss and ferns growing on the rock walls.

Fern on walls

We had planned this event with the intention of meeting any Speak family members who might remain in the area, whether they carried the Speak surname or not.  We ran ads in regional genealogy/historical publications as well as in the local newspaper.  We also had an English contact which we thought might have made local people more comfortable.

Several Speak family members joined us for dinner.  The Stirk House had a private dining room for us, beside a meeting room.

Stirk House dinner

We had dinner together in the dining room here, an English country dinner, and then moved on to the evening’s agenda.

Some of our Speaks relatives joined us for the evening. It was nice to meet some of our cousins, no matter how distant.  Three different male Speaks brought their families, David, Stan and Gary.  David brought photos of his family and shared information about his family history and the area.  And yes, all three did a DNA test.  They felt certain that they were not related to each other.

Speak cousin

We are probably at least 15 generations removed, but still, we are indeed cousins.  It’s interesting that even after all of these generations two of our English cousins do share segments of DNA with some of us.  Not all of the results are back.

Now that I think of it, we’re probably related to all of the Pendle witches too.  That makes sense, because they were convicted of talking to cats and dogs and one was convicted because her children testified that she was a witch.  Heavens, that could have been me:)  I need a Pendle Witches t-shirt!

We moved to the meeting room and two local people gave historic presentations about the area, which were really quite interesting.   We ended the evening, finally, at 11:45 PM following a DNA presentation and update as to how our DNA brought us to the Ribble Valley.

Stirk house DNA

I must say, this all seemed very surreal to me, especially after a long day following a short night interrupted both by that loud wedding party and the fire alarm.  If I have one piece of advice, it’s don’t pack too much into a day, and don’t do a DNA presentation late in the evening.  Ok, that was 2 pieces of advice.  Pick on me about it and I’ll put a spell on you:)

Pendle witch

Cherokee Mother of John Red Bank Payne

John Red Bank Payne

There is nothing I love more than a happy ending.  Second to that perhaps is to know that my blog or work helped someone, and in particularly, helped someone document their Native heritage.  In doing so, this confirms and unveils one more of our elusive Native people in early records.

I recently received a lovely thank you note from Shawn Potter.  We had exchanged notes earlier, after I wrote “The Autosomal Me” series, about how to utilize small segments of Native American (and Asian) DNA to identify Native American lines and/or ancestors.  This technique is called Minority Admixture Mapping (MAP) and was set forth in detail in various articles in the series.

Shawn’s note said:  “I’ve been doing more work on this segment and others following your method since we exchanged notes.  I’m pretty sure I’ve found the source of this Native American DNA — an ancestor named John Red Bank Payne who lived in North Georgia in the late 18th and 19th centuries.  Many of his descendants believe on the basis of circumstantial evidence that his mother was Cherokee.  I’ve found 10 descendants from four separate lines that inherited matching Native American DNA, pointing to one of his parents as the source.”

Along with this note, Shawn attached a beautiful 65 page book he had written for his family members which did document the Native DNA, but in the context of his family history.  He included their family story, the tales, the genealogical research, the DNA evidence and finally, a chapter of relevant Cherokee history complete with maps of the area where his ancestors lived. It’s a beautiful example of how to present something like this for non-DNA people to understand.  In addition, it’s also a wonderful roadmap, a “how to” book for how to approach this subject from a DNA/historical/genealogical perspective.  As hard as it is for me to sometimes remember, DNA is just a tool to utilize in the bigger genealogy picture.

Shawn has been gracious enough to allow me to reprint some of his work here, so from this point on, I’ll be extracting from his document.  Furthermore, Elizabeth Shown Mills would be ecstatic, because Shawn has fully documented and sourced his document.  I am not including that information here, but I’m sure he would gladly share the document itself with any interested parties.  You can contact Shawn at shpxlcp@comcast.net.

From the book, “Cherokee Mother of John Red Bank Payne” by Shawn Potter and Lois Carol Potter:

Descendants of John Red Bank Payne describe his mother as Cherokee. Yet, until now, some have questioned the truth of this claim because genealogists have been unable to identify John’s mother in contemporary records. A recent discovery, however, reveals both John Red Bank Payne and his sister Nancy Payne inherited Native American DNA.

Considering information from contemporary records, clues from local tradition, John’s name itself, and now the revelation that John and his sister inherited Native American DNA, there seems to be sufficient evidence to say John Red Bank Payne’s mother truly was Cherokee. The following summary describes what we know about John, his family, and his Native American DNA.

John Red Bank Payne was born perhaps near present-day Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia, on January 24, 1754, married Ann Henslee in Caswell County, North Carolina, on March 5, 1779, and died in Carnesville, Franklin County, Georgia, on December 14, 1831.

John’s father, Thomas Payne, was born in Westmorland County, Virginia, about 1725, and owned property in Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, Virginia, as well as Wilkes County, North Carolina, and Franklin County, Georgia.  Several factors suggest Thomas travelled with his older brother, William, to North Georgia and beyond, engaging in the deerskin trade with the Cherokee Nation during the mid 1700s. Thomas Payne died probably in Franklin County, Georgia, after February 23, 1811.

Contemporary records reveal Thomas had four children (William, John, Nancy, and Abigail) by his first wife, and nine children (Thomas, Nathaniel, Moses, Champness, Shrewsbury, Zebediah, Poindexter, Ruth, and Cleveland) by his second wife Yanaka Ayers.  Thomas married Yanaka probably in Halifax County, Virginia, before September 20, 1760.

Local North Georgia tradition identifies the first wife of Thomas Payne as a Cherokee woman. Anna Belle Little Tabor, in History of Franklin County, Georgia, wrote that “Trader Payne” managed a trading post on Payne’s Creek, and “one of his descendants, an offspring of his Cherokee marriage, later married Moses Ayers whose descendants still live in the county.”

Descendants of John Red Bank Payne also cite his name Red Bank, recorded in his son’s family Bible, as evidence of his Cherokee heritage.  Before the American Revolution, British Americans rarely defied English legal prohibitions against giving a child more than one Christian name.  So, the very existence of John’s name Red Bank suggests non-English ethnicity. On the other hand, many people of mixed English-Cherokee heritage were known by their Cherokee name as well as their English first and last names during this period.

Furthermore, while the form of John’s middle name is unlike normal English names, Red Bank conforms perfectly to standard Cherokee names.  It also is interesting to note, Red Bank was the name of a Cherokee village located on the south side of Etowah River to the southwest of present-day Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia.

While some believe the above information from contemporary records and clues from local tradition, as well as John’s name Red Bank, constitute sufficient proof of John’s Cherokee heritage, recently discovered DNA evidence confirms at least one of John’s parents had Native American ancestry. Ten descendants of John Red Bank Payne and his sister Nancy Payne, representing four separate lineages, inherited six segments of Native American DNA on chromosomes 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 18 (see Figure 1 for the relationship between these descendants; Figures 2-7 for images of their shared Native American DNA; and http://dna-explained.com/2013/06/02/the-autosomal-me-summary-and-pdf-file/ for an explanation of this method of identifying Native American chromosomal segments).

Upon careful reflection, there seems sufficient reason to believe John Red Bank Payne’s mother truly was Cherokee.

Roberta’s note:  I have redacted the surnames of current testers.

Payne chart

Chromosome 2, Segment 154-161

In this segment, Bert P, Rosa P, Nataan S, Cynthia S, and Kendall S inherited matching Native American DNA described as Amerindian, Siberian, Southeast Asian, and Oceanian by the Eurogenes V2 K15 admixture tool, and as North Amerind, Mesoamerican, South America Amerind, Arctic Amerind, East Siberian, Paleo Siberian, Samoedic, and East South Asian by the Magnus Ducatus Lituaniae Project World22 admixture tool. Since their common ancestors were Thomas Payne and his wife, the source of this Native American DNA must be either Thomas Payne or his wife. See Figures 2a-2g.

Note: Since Native Americans and East Asians share common ancestors in the pre-historic past, their DNA is similar to each other in many respects. This similarity often causes admixture tools to interpret Native American DNA as various types of East Asian DNA. Therefore, the presence of multiple types of East Asian DNA together with Native American DNA tends to validate the presence of Native American DNA.

Payne graph 1

Payne graph 2

Payne graph 3

Payne graph 4

Payne graph 5

Roberta’s Summary:  Shawn continues to document the other chromosome matches in the same manner.  In total, he has 10 descendants of Thomas Payne and his wife, who it turns out, indeed was Cherokee, as proven by this exercise in combination with historical records.  These people descend through 2 different children.  Cynthia and Kendall descend through daughter Nancy Payne, and the rest of the descendants descend through different children of John Red Bank Payne.  All of the DNA segments that Shawn utilized in his report share Native/Asian segments in both of these family groups, the descendants of both Nancy and John Red Bank Payne.

Shawn’s success in this project hinged on two things.  First, being able to test multiple (in this case, two) descendants of the original couple.  Second, he tested several people and had the tenacity to pursue the existence of Native DNA segments utilizing the Minority Admixture Mapping (MAP) technique set forth in “The Autosomal Me” series.  It certainly paid off.  Shawn confirmed that the wife of Thomas Payne was, indeed Native, most likely Cherokee since he was a Cherokee trader, and that today’s descendants do indeed carry her heritage in their DNA.

Great job Shawn!!  Wouldn’t you love to be his family member and one of the recipients of these lovely books about your ancestor! Someone’s going to have a wonderful Christmas!

Haplogroup Q and C Fundraising Report

Thank you all 3

I just can’t say a big enough thank you to everyone who contributed in so many ways to the haplogroups Q and C fundraising effort to purchase several Big Y tests.

This fundraising was really kind of a last minute desperation effort.  As administrators, Rebekah Canada and Marie Rundquist had e-mailed and encouraged appropriate participants in the C and Q projects to order the Big Y test.  Many were able to do so, but some very critical kits still needed to be tested.

On Thanksgiving, we discussed what to do, and on the 29th, very late, after 2 days of company, with a massive headache and never ending refrains of the cartoon “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” reverberating through my head, I wrote and posted the blog about our fundraising effort.  I’m amazed it was coherent.  Yes, I have young grandchildren!

We were hoping against hope to fund 2 tests in each of those haplogroup projects, for a total of 4.  Some participants had coupons available, some didn’t.  Truthfully, almost $2000 is a huge amount of money to try to raise in 2 days, especially right after Black Friday when everyone is busy with both family and then shopping, and I wasn’t terribly hopeful that we would be able to raise the entire amount.  But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You folks have proven me wrong…in spades.

Between the two projects, we raised a total of $3335 in less than 2 days and we have funded 7.5 tests, 3 in haplogroup C and 5 in haplogroup Q.  Yes, as the admins, we “tipped it over the edge” of course to fund the rest of the partially funded test.

Thanks goes to lots of people.  Of course, in addition to the efforts of my tireless co-admins and their lists and blogs, Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, wrote a fine article for us as her weekly DNA offering.  I must say, I think Judy’s article and the folks who reposted, reTweeted and blogged is what gave us that final push to fund the final 2, if not 3, tests.  Thank you Judy and the rest of the blogging/tweeting community.  You guys are absolutely awesome!

I noticed that Elizabeth Shown Mills posted on Facebook about our project as well.  Family Tree DNA featured our Q and C projects over the weekend on Facebook too.  Thank you FTDNA and Elizabeth for your votes of confidence.

Not only that, but Janine Cloud,  the Customer Support Supervisor at Family Tree DNA availed herself not only to us, but to the other admins too who were trying to place orders this holiday weekend.  Thank you Janine for going way above and beyond.

Bennett Greenspan gets a special thank you for being so very supportive of genetic genealogists as a whole, and for making a generous contribution himself.  He was also available over the holiday weekend for questions.  Bennett is just like that.

But the real stars of this show are those of you who contributed funds to get this done as well as those who purchased their own tests.  We had 4 contributed coupons by people who did not order the Big Y but who had previously taken the WTY test.  Thank you to all of those folks.  Between both projects, we received a total of $3335 in contributions by 45 different people, with several donating to both projects, plus $200 worth of coupons.  With that we were able to purchase 8 additional tests.  This brings the total number of Big Y tests ordered in the haplogroup Q project to….drum roll please…..27….  and the total haplogroup C project Big Y orders to 5.  I know this doesn’t compare to the large haplogroup R projects, but for our smaller projects, this is a huge number and the results hold so much promise for these more obscure and unique haplogroups that include Asian, European and Native people.

You folks really rallied to the cause and supported our efforts tremendously.  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.  You can’t even begin to imagine what this level of support from within our community means to us.

We will be reporting back with results as soon as we have something to report.  It’s going to be a great February, with very little sleep!!!

Roberta Estes, Rebekah Canada and Marie Rundquist

Be Still my H(e)art…

You’re not going to believe this.  I’m not sure I believe it.

Remember, I closed my article on the Younger family yesterday by saying that I was hopeful that I might solve the mystery of who Marcus Younger’s wife, Susanna, was?  Well, I said that, but I had no real expectation that it would really happen, not after one already huge breakthrough.  I began working through cousin Larry’s matches, sending e-mails, and within six hours or so, I had several replies, one of which was this:

“Hello my name is Andrea. Thank you for sending me this email. I am new to genealogy and have a large interest in my family history. Younger is not a known surname for me, although Hart is. My oldest known Hart ancestor is Anthony Hart born in Oct 1755 in King and Queen, Virginia. He was my 5th great grandfather. He lived in Halifax Virginia in 1840 with his children and grandchildren. How is the surname Hart related to Younger?”

Oh Andrea, let me tell you.  You have made my day, my decade, my 30 years, and yes, indeed, this is the second jackpot hit in two days in the same family line.  I shoulda bought a lottery ticket but I think I’d rather have this:)

It has always been speculated that Marcus Younger’s wife, Susanna, was a Hart.  In fact, it was speculated that she was the possible sister of that one and the same Anthony Hart in Halifax County, Virginia, based on this tax record from King and Queen County, Va. just before Marcus Younger moved to Halifax County.  Robert Hart is believed to be Anthony’s father, but that is unproven.

1785

Alterations of land in King and Queen County

Proprietor’s Name                     QT Land                     of whom had

Anthony Hart                               190a                         Robert Hart

Anthony Hart                                94a                          Marcus Younger

There are a couple of other records in which they appear together too.

Unfortunately, King and Queen County is a burned county.

Now, we have a couple of pretzel twists that need to be considered.  In Larry’s line, Marcus’s son John married Lucy Hart who is mentioned in Anthony Hart’s Revolutionary War pension application in 1832.  So Larry could be expected to match Andrea regardless of who Marcus’s wife was.

However, I don’t descend from the same line as Larry and Andrea matches me as well.  I descend from Marcus through his daughter, Mary, sister to John who married Lucy Hart.  So, I should NOT match Andrea unless I too carry some Hart DNA.  But I do, in two distinct places where I also match Larry.  On the chromosome browser below, Andrea is orange, I am blue and we are being compared to Larry.  You can see that we all 3 match on the same segments on chromosomes 1 and 8.

younger hart 1

Additionally, Andrea matches other cousins descended from my Younger line.

Furthermore, Andrea and David (from the previous article whose pedigree proved that Marcus and Thomas Younger are related) both match Lawson, but they don’t match each other.  This makes perfect sense.  David descends from Thomas Younger, who has no known Hart connection.  So David matches Larry because of the Younger line and Andrea matches Larry because of the Hart line.

You can see in the chromosome browser view below that indeed, both Andrea, orange, and David, blue match Larry, but in no location do they match each other in addition to matching Larry.  No place does their DNA show one under the other, overlapping, when compared to Larry.

younger hart 2

Turning now to the spreadsheet where I can see all of the people who match both Larry and David together, I want to know who else Andrea matches.

First, I confirmed that Andrea does not match anyone else from the Alexander Younger line through sons Thomas and James, and she does not.  If she had, that would put a very big fly in the ointment and would prevent any conclusion about Marcus’s wife.  But since she doesn’t, that obstacle is removed.

Andrea does match the following people on several segments:

  • Me
  • Loujean, our newly found adoptee cousin whose closest autosomal match is Larry
  • Larry
  • Buster, my cousin, who also descends through Marcus’s daughter, Mary

We are all four descended from the Marcus line and she doesn’t match anyone who descends from the Thomas or Alexander lines, which makes perfect sense since Anthony Hart looks to be the probable brother of Marcus Younger’s wife, Susannah, based on the historical records and some relationship is now confirmed by the DNA.

Am I ready to call this a positive match yet and Susannah a Hart?  Technically, I probably could, but I’m rather conservative and I’m just not quite ready to give an unconditional thumbs up.  To make myself feel entirely warm and fuzzy, I’d love to see another Hart match for me or my cousins not descended through John’s line. I’d also love to be able to reconstruct the Hart family back in Queen and King and Essex Counties and have some additional paper document to go along with the results.  That would certainly be easier to accomplish were the Queen and King records not burned.  This family lived on the border between the two and had records in both counties.

Truly, I’m left speechless about my good fortune this weekend.  I’m happy dancing a hole in the floor.

happy dance 2

But I’m also left wondering how many other answers are really there, in the DNA of the people we match and I just haven’t worked with the matches effectively.  Maybe those walls are just waiting to fall….waiting for me to notice them.  Maybe yours are too.

Lovin’ My Cousins

lovin hands

I use DNA every day of my life.  Not only do I use it personally, but I utilize it for my clients.  I love what it can do for us – but DNA is only a tool.  A tool on a path – a path to your ancestors.  But ancestors lead us to cousins.  DNA is about cousins, finding them, getting to know them and then, yes, loving them.  I know, you guys are all cringing now about the L-word and searching for the little X to close this screen.  But it’s true – it’s about people – connecting to other people – both dead and alive.

My immediate family is small.  I didn’t know my father’s family growing up and my mother had only one sibling.  My own siblings are gone and the few children they had are scattered to the winds.  It’s hard enough to keep up with my own kids.  Many people are too busy to be interested in family, often until it’s too late.  As one old woman in my family so succinctly once said, “If you can’t bother to come and see me while I’m alive, don’t bother when I’m dead.”

Maybe I discovered early the value of cousins since my own immediate family was so small.  To connect, I had to reach out.  I’ve been so very fortunate.

lovin mary

This past month, on a trip made possible by DNA (which I will be writing about shortly), here I am in the churchyard in England where our Speak ancestor’s family lived in the 1600s, with my cousin Mary.  I love her, dearly.

lovin daryl

And this is my cousin, Daryl, my sister of heart and my research travel companion.  I met her through genealogy too, about a decade ago.  Here, we’re wading in the creek descending from the Cumberland Gap, running through the Dodson ancestral land, on a very hot summer day during a research trip.  DNA has taken us on an amazing  journey that we never expected.  We connect through the Dodson line.

lovin los and denise

And here in a slightly out of focus picture are my cousins Los, his beautiful daughter Landrii, and our cousin, Denise, of whom I’m extremely proud.  Just look how happy we are.  We were giddy with delight that day when we finally met.

This photo was taken in June 2011 at the Cumberland Gap Homecoming, coordinated by the Cumberland Gap DNA project members.  Our Herrell family lived near the Cumberland Gap where we met face to face for the first time.  A wonderful event, and Los drove from Louisiana alone with two toddlers to be able to attend.  Bless his heart.  (That’s the southern in me coming out.)  Denise flew in from the west coast.  Unfortunately, we live far apart but I can keep up with Los, his beautiful kids, and Denise electronically and via Facebook.

And this is only the beginning of the “I Love My Cousins” list – it goes on – and I meet new cousins almost every day now.  I’m amazed at how many people I’m related to, how large my extended family really is.  Fortunately, love isn’t a limited commodity!

Indeed, I’m grateful every single day for genealogy and DNA which connected me, and connects me, with my cousins.   They pop up in the most unexpected places.  Just this week, for example, I discovered when doing a DNA report for a client that I’m related to them, not once, but twice.  My quilt group, related to 2 of 5 people.  Someone I worked with on a special project a couple years ago, we recently DNA matched and discovered that we share a common Lemmert line out of Germany.  And Yvette Hoitink, the Dutch professional genealogist I hired to help me with the Dutch records, yep, we’re related genetically on our mother’s sides.  Reach out – you’ll find cousins too!  You never know who just might be one.

5,500 Year Old Grandmother Found Using DNA

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Members of the Metlakatla First Nation Community near Prince Rupert, BC who collaborated with an international team of scientists in a genetic study of aboriginal people, including excavated remains that link them to their 5,500 year old Grandmother.  Photograph/handout courtesy of the Metlakatla Treaty Office.

Over the past decade or so, there has been a lot of debate about tribal participation in DNA testing.  Without getting into the politics of the situation which is deep and dangerous water, many tribes see absolutely no possibility that DNA testing could help them, and a significant potential that it might hurt them, one way or another.

For example, we know that the Eastern tribes were heavily admixed with Europeans quite early and we know that the Southwest tribes are equally admixed with the Spanish.  Yet, they are still Native tribes, carrying on the Native customs and cultures, including their own creation and other sacred stories.

Let’s say that a few tribal members test, and their DNA turns out not to be Native, but is European, or African.  Granted, the DNA would only be representative of one genealogical line, either the direct paternal (surname) line for males and the direct maternal line for both males and females, but still, if you expect Native and you get something else – it could be bothersome, and perhaps troublesome.  Add to that a historical situation filled with distrust for a government that routinely broke treaties and you have a situation where tribes would just as soon not open Pandora’s box, thank you very much.

However, not all tribes think this way.  For the past several years, people from Canada’s First Nations tribes have been working with scientists not only to test their DNA, but that of their ancestors as well.  Recently, a paper was published detailing the findings, but those findings didn’t really say much about the effects of the results on the currently living people and tribes involved.

The Vancouver Sun recently carried a human interest story focused on the Metlakatla First Nation Community and the people who were found to be related to the 5,500 year old bones that DNA was extracted from.

The people involved who descend from either this woman or a common ancestor with her are thrilled to be able to make that connection from some 220 generations ago, to be able to honor her as their Grandmother, and the connection cements the fact that these people’s ancestors were indeed on this same land at least 5,500 years ago, not far from where they live today.

This kind of information has great potential to help the tribes involved with land claims and treaty rights.  These deep rooted links to the region simply cannot be denied.  So the First Nations people stand to benefit, the people who match the Grandmother are thrilled, science benefits and they have the ability to confirm their own stories told by the Ancestors for centuries, indeed, for thousands of years.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Congratulations to these First Nations people for this wonderful link to a Grandmother, for their brave participation and leadership role in scientific study, and for not being afraid of finding the truth, whatever it is.  The Ancestors would be proud of you!

Pérez, Peres, Paries, Perica, Perry and Paris on PBS, Oh My

perez signatureYou know, it’s amazing the things you learn filming a PBS documentary.

You learn that no matter what you do, light is going to reflect off of your glasses.

You learn that you can indeed hear an unhappy cat who has been banished to the 3 seasons room through two closed doors.  That same unhappy cat begs to go out there any other time.

You learn that while you are filming, the phone, will, unfailingly ring every time, even if it hasn’t rung in 3 days.

You learn that if you take your phone off the hook, AT&T, now a smarter phone company, figures this out, assumes you made a mistake, and lets the phone ring again anyway.  Sigh….

You learn that if you get one of those annoying recorded sales calls, if you just lay the phone down (or bury it under a pillow), it will play forever and effectively takes the phone “off the hook.”  YES!!!

You learn that if you are a young man in the late 1800s from Guam, you sign on to a whaling ship, and the guys can’t pronounce your name, Dimitrio, they call you John.  Eventually you begin to call yourself John too.  It’s contagious apparently.  You do, however, give two of your children Dimitrio as a middle name, just to torment your descendants with hidden clues.

And you learn that the surname Perez which is pronounced in the US like the word pear with the beginning of the word Ezmerelda is pronounced like the city in France, Paris, in Guam.

You also learn that a man named Juan Perez, also known as Dimitrio Perez can mix his multiple first names and about 6 different ways of spelling Perez in an indefinite number of ways.  His signature as John Paris is shown above.

Indeed, maybe this is a clue to our mystery.

A mystery?  What mystery?  I love a good mystery!!!

The Mystery

Well, Jillette Leon-Guerrero has a fine mystery on her hands with all of the requisite red herrings and twists of fate included.  And she’s making a PBS documentary of her process of finding the answer.  Check out her website, Across the Water in Time.

It’s hard enough to track people whose surnames are misspelled, but to change countries, change pronunciations, change surnames, change first names….and to still be able to be identified…well, now we’ve entered the realm of DNA sprinkled with a little fairy dust for good luck.

So, here is the fundamental question.  Is Juan Perez, aka Dimitrio Perez aka John Paris, who was born in 1843 and died in 1928 in Hawaii related to the Perez family on Guam?

The descendants of John Paris on Hawaii carry an oral history that he was from Guam, then a Spanish colonial colony.  Jillette, from Guam herself, discovers later that they also had an oral tradition that he changed his name from Dimitrio to John.  How she wished she had known that sooner.  Dimitrio is a much easier name to search for than generic apparently-one-size-really-does-fit-all-men-on-a-whaling-ship Juan.

DNA Testing

In order to answer the question, DNA testing was performed, ultimately on three groups of people.  What we wanted to know was whether these people were related and if so, how and how far back in time?

Group 1 – In Hawaii, known descendants of Juan Perez/John Paris, his great-granddaughter Yolanda and her brother, Benjamin Paris.

Group 2 – From Guam, Jillette and her father.

Group 3 – From Guam, Jose Perez.  Jose ultimately tested to be a second cousin of Jillette’s father, but that was unknown prior to DNA testing.

Two different kinds of DNA testing can be utilized to answer the question.  These two types of tests answer fundamentally different questions.

The Perez/Paris Y Tests

The Y DNA test tests only the Y chromosome, handed from father to son, unmixed with the DNA of the mother, so it stays mostly intact generation to generation, except for an occasional mutation.  The inheritance path of the Y chromosome is shown on the following chart in blue.

Perez yline

The Y-line gives us a great deal of information about the direct paternal line, but no information about any other line.  Comparing the Y-line results of 2 men tells us whether they descend from a common ancestor.

In order to determine whether or not the Paris family on Hawaii is genetically the same as the Perez family of Guam, Benjamin Paris, great-grandson of John Paris of Hawaii, and Jose Perez, descendant of the Perez family of Guam, tested.  Indeed, their Y chromosomes do match, with one mutation difference, which would be expected to occur over time.  Initially, only 12 markers were tested, which included the mutation difference, so the tests were expanded to 37 markers each to confirm the match.  The two men match perfectly on the rest of the markers, so at 37 markers, they still have one mutation difference.

Family Tree DNA provides a tool called TIP which estimates the time to a common ancestor between men whose DNA matches based on the mutation rates of different markers and the known generational distance between the men.  For example, we know that these families aren’t related in the past three generations, since Juan Perez came to Hawaii.

The TIP tool estimates that at the 50th percentile, these men are likely to be share a common ancestor between 4 and 5 generations ago.  So it’s very likely that either the father of Juan Perez who immigrated to Hawaii was their common ancestor, or his father.  One thing we know for sure, it was after the adoption of Spanish surnames on Guam.  Guam was colonized in the 17th century after the Spanish claimed it in 1565 and the first Catholic missionaries arrived in 1568 and began to baptize people with Spanish given and surnames.

Therefore, if Juan Perez was born in 1843, his father would have been born approximately 1813 and his father approximately 1783, allowing for the average 30 year generation.

This means that the common ancestor of these two families was probably 5 or 6 generations ago, and possibly more.

Autosomal Tests

The second type of test utilized was autosomal testing which tests all of the DNA passed from both parents to a child, not just the direct Y DNA of the paternal line.  The reason to use this type of test is that it shows you who your cousins are as measured by the amount of DNA that matches.

perez autosomal

DNA is passed to descendants in a predictable way, allowing us to mathematically calculate how closely related two people are – at least roughly.

Each parent gives half of their DNA to a child.  Different children don’t get the same “half” of the parents DNA, so each child inherits somewhat differently.  Therefore,  siblings share approximately half of their DNA.

perez cousins

You can see in the above chart that people receive 50% of their parents DNA, 25%, approximately of each grandparent’s DNA, and so forth up the tree.  By the time we reach the great-great grandparents level, you only inherited about 6.25% of your DNA from each grandparent.

In the case of 5th or 6th generation descent, as in our case, we’re looking at each descendant carrying about 3.12% of the DNA at the 5th generation, and 1.56% at the 6th generation.  Two individuals descended from these common ancestors would both carry an estimated 3.12%, but not necessarily the same 3.12%.  In fact, you only share .78% of common DNA with a third cousin and .195% with a 4th cousin.

I’ve said “on average” and this means that after the parents’ generation, the DNA of each preceding generation is not passed in exactly 50% packets.  In other words, you might not get exactly 25% of the DNA of each of your grandparents, but might receive 20%, 30%, 24% and 26%.

Autosomal testing is a powerful tool, but it’s less and less specific in terms of exactly how closely people are related, the further back in time relationships and common ancestors reach.

Because of this, it’s important to use the oldest generation available for testing.

We tested 4 individuals using the Family Finder autosomal test at Family Tree DNA; Jillette’s father, Jose Perez from Guam and both Yolanda and Benjamin Paris who are siblings from Hawaii.

The results were that Jillette’s father matched Jose Perez from Guam as a second cousin, suggesting that they share a common great-grandfather, and at the third cousin level with both Benjamin and Yolanda, suggesting that they share a common great-great-grandfather with Jillette’s Dad.

Match Name Relationship Range Suggested Relationship Shared cM Longest Block
Jose Perez 2-3rd   cousin 2nd   cousin 222.83 29.77
Yolanda   Paris 2-4th   cousin 3rd   cousin 56.58 22.55
Benjamin   Paris 2-4th   cousin 3rd   cousin 67.52 21.10

Family Tree DNA utilizes the 5cM (centiMorgan) threshold to indicate a match, where we can see to the 1cM threshold on the raw data.  I did this breakout for all parties, and indeed, they did show as related.

On the graph below, each of the three individuals is being compared to Jillette’s Dad.  Notice that in many cases, both Yolanda (blue) and Benjamin (orange), together, match Jillette’s Dad, which would be expected because they are siblings.  There are other cases through where either Yolanda or Benjamin match Jose (green) on the same segment where they both match Jillette’s Dad.  For example, on chromosome 2, you can see the blue stacked on top of the green.  We also see examples of orange and green as well, but no place to we have orange, blue and green together.  This illustrates how differently siblings (Yolanda and Benjamin) inherited DNA from their parents.

perez chromosomes

The Question that Remains

We’ve now proven that the Paris/Perez family is one and the same on Guam and Hawaii utilizing Y-line DNA and that these people are all related at some level.  Of course, in genealogy, answers generally produce more questions.

Jillette will have to utilize genealogy records in Guam to determine who the father of Jose (aka Dimitrio) Perez was, and indeed, she has made inroads in doing so.

The second question is just how is the Perez family related to Jillette’s family?  We know that her father is likely a second cousin to Jose Perez, meaning they share a common great-grandparent, but who?  Keep in mind that these are estimates based on the percentage and length of shared DNA, and the cousin estimate could also fall a generation or half-generation (once removed) in either direction.

Leen tree - Jillette

Jillette’s father’s 8 great-grandparents are as follows:

  • Vincente de Leon Guerrero Y Santos and Maria de Las Nieves Gregario
  • Unknown Fejerang and unknown Guzman
  • Francisco de la Torre and Maria Acosta
  • Fabian de la Cruz and Juliana Ada

You’ll notice, there’s not a Perez among them.  Now what?

This is both a genealogical and a genetic question, and can be approached in both ways simultaneously.  Obviously, were Jillette to discover that the next generation included a Perez, then the mystery would be solved.  However, using genetics can narrow the scope of this hunt.

Jillette needs to utilize known relationships to narrow the scope of which line descends from the Perez family.

The best way to do this is to test another relative of her grandparents, assuming both grandparents are deceased.  The best bet here is to test a sibling of a grandparent.  If you test a sibling of both grandparents autosomally, one of them should match Jose Perez.  That immediately eliminates half of Jillette’s Dad’s ancestors.  If a sibling of Jillette’s Dad’s grandparents isn’t available, then test their children.

Let’s say, by way of example, that we have now limited the search to Jillette’s Dad’s paternal line.  That consists of two grandparents, Rita Guzman Fejerang and Justo Gregario de Leon-Guerro.  The next step, genetically, is to test people who descend from the parents of Rita and Justo, but not the children of Rita and Justo.  So, Jillette needs to find siblings of Rita and Justo and test their siblings oldest descendants.  Again, one line should match Jose Perez.

Utilizing this technique, it’s possible to “walk up the tree,” so to speak.  In the meantime, this technique will help Jillette focus on where to concentrate her genealogical efforts.

ICW – In Common With

Another tool that Jillette can use is the ICW, or “in common with” tool at Family Tree DNA.  This tool is underutilized, as many people don’t realize what it can do.

If you mark a match as a known relative, you can then see matches you have in common with that person.  If you both match an individual, you should contact that individual to see if they have a piece of genealogical information that links to either or both of you.  In Jillette’s case, the mystery of how her family connects to the Perez family in Guam could well be held in the genealogy records of one of the ICW matches.

You can see that Jillette has confirmed the relationship for two matches below.

Perez match

To view your common matches, in the drop down box, select “in common with” and in the box directly below, you’ll see the people you’ve confirmed with a known relationship.  Select the person you want to see your common matches with, and click on the orange “filter” button.

perez in common with

The display you will see are the people who match both of you.  In this case, there are two common matches between Jillette’s father and Jose Perez that are not among the group tested above.  That’s exciting, because we know they are related to both men – the only question is how.  Jillette is working on these questions.

Follow the Story

So if you are a Perez, Paris or anything similar from Hawaii or Guam, please, contact Jillette through her website.  If you are a Leon-Guerrero, contact Jillette.  And if you want to see how this episode of Genetic Genealogy Reality TV turns out, you’ll have to follow Jillette’s blog on her webpage.  Perhaps the PBS special will be widely available or uploaded to YouTube and we’ll all be able to share in the final chapter of this exciting mystery!

7-7-2013 Update – A newspaper article talking about the documentary. Hat tip to Howard for this link.

The Autosomal Me – The Holy Grail – Identifying Native Genealogy Lines

holy grail

Sangreal – the Holy Grail.  We are finally here, Part 9 and the final article in our series.  The entire purpose of The Autosomal Me series has been to use our DNA and the clues it holds to identify minority admixture, in this case, Native American, and by identifying those Native segments, and building chromosomal clusters, to identify the family lines that contributed that Native admixture.  Articles 1-8 in the series set the stage, explained the process and walked us through the preparatory steps.  In this last article, we apply all of the ingredients, fasten the lid, shake and see what we come up with.  Let’s take a minute and look at the steps that got us to this point.

Part 1 was “The Autosomal Me – Unraveling Minority Admixture” and Part 2 was “The Autosomal Me – The Ancestors Speak.”  Part 1 discussed the technique we are going to use to unravel minority ancestry, and why it works.  Part two gave an example of the power of fragmented chromosomal mapping and the beauty of the results.

Part 3, “The Autosomal Me – Who Am I?,” reviewed using our pedigree charts to gauge expected results and how autosomal results are put into population buckets.

Part 4, “The Autosomal Me – Testing Company Results,” shows what to expect from all of the major testing companies, past and present, along with Dr. Doug McDonald’s analysis.

In Part 5, “The Autosomal Me – Rooting Around in the Weeds Using Third Party Tools,” we looked at 5 different third party tools and what they can tell us about our minority admixture that is not reported by the major testing companies because the segments are too small and fragmented.

In Part 6, “The Autosomal Me – DNA Analysis – Splitting Up” we began the analysis part of the data we’ve been gathering.   We looked at how to determine whether minority admixture on specific chromosomes came from which parent.

Part 7, “The Autosomal Me – Start, Stop, Go – Identifying Native Chromosomal Segments” took a deeper dive and focused on the two chromosomes with proven Native heritage and began by comparing those chromosome segments using the 4 GedMatch admixture tools.

Part 8, “The Autosomal Me – Extracting Data Segments and Clustering,” we  extract all of the Native and Blended Asian segments in all 22 chromosomes, but only used chromosomes 1 and 2 for illustration purposes.  We then clustered the resulting data to look for trends, grouping clusters by either the Strong Native criteria or the Blended Asian criteria.

In this final segment, Part 9, we will be applying the chromosomal information we’ve gathered to our matches and determine which of our lines are the most likely to have Native Ancestry.  This, of course, has been the goal all along.  So, drum roll…..here we go.

In Part 8, we ended by entering the start and stop locations of both Strong Native and Blended Asian clusters into a table to facilitate easy data entry into the chromosome match spreadsheet downloaded from either 23andMe or Family Tree DNA.  If you downloaded it previously, you might want to download it again if you haven’t modified it, or download new matches since you last downloaded the spreadsheet and add them to the master copy.

My goal is to determine which matches and clusters indicate Native ancestry, and how to correlate those matches to lineage.  In other words, which family lines in my family were Native or carry Native heritage someplace.

The good news is that my mother’s line has proven Native heritage, so we can use her line as proof of concept.  My father’s family has so many unidentified wives, marginalized families and family secrets that the Native line could be almost any of them, or all of them!  Let’s see how that tree shakes out.

Finding Matches

So let’s look at a quick example of how this would work.  Let’s say I have a match, John, on chromosome 4 in an area where my mother has no Native admixture, but I do.  Therefore, since John does not match my mother, then the match came from my father and if we can identify other people who also match both John and I in that same region on that chromosome, they too have Native ancestry.  Let’s say that we all also share a common ancestor.  It stands to reason at that point, that the common ancestor between us indicates the Native line, because we all match on the Native segment and have the same ancestor.  Obviously, this would help immensely in identifying Native families and at least giving pointers in which direction to look.  This is a “best case’ example.  Some situations, especially where both parents contribute Native heritage to the same chromosome, won’t be this straightforward.

Based on our findings, the maximum range and minimum (least common denominator or “In Common” range is as follows for the strongest Native segments on chromosomes 1 and 2.

  Chromosome 1 Chromosome 2
Largest   Range 162,500,000   – 180,000,000 79,000,000   – 105,000,000
Smallest   Range 165,658,091   – 171,000,000 90,000,000   – 103,145,425

At GedMatch

At GedMatch, I used a comparison tool to see who matched me on chromosome 1.  Only 2 people outside of immediate family members matched, and both from Family Tree DNA.  Both matched me on the critical Native segments between about 165-180mg.  I was excited.  I went to Family Tree DNA and checked to see if these two people also matched my mother, which would confirm the Native connection, but neither did, indicating of course that these two people matched me on my father’s side.  That too is valuable information, but it didn’t help identify any common Native heritage with my mother on chromosome 1.  It did, however, eliminate them as possibilities which is valuable information as well.

DNAGedcom

I used a new tool, DNAGedcom, compliments of Rob Warthen who has created a website, DNA Tools, at www.dnagedcom.com.  This wonderful tool allows you to download all of your autosomal matches at Family Tree DNA and 23andMe along with their chromosomal segment matches.  Since my mother’s DNA has only been tested at Family Tree DNA, I’m limiting the download to those results for now, because what I need is to find the people who match both she and I on the critical segments of chromosome 1 or 2.

Working with the Download Spreadsheet

It was disappointing to discover that my mother and I had no common matches that fell into this range on chromosome 1, but chromosome 2 was another matter.  Please note that I have redacted match surnames for privacy.

step 9 table 1

The spreadsheet above shows the comparison of my matches (pink) and Mother’s (white).  The Native segment of chromosome 2 where I match Mother is shaded mustard.  I shaded the chromosome segments that fell into the “common match” range in green.  Of those matches, there is only one person who matches both Mother and I, Emma.  The next step, of course, is to contact Emma and see if we can discover our common ancestor, because whoever it is, that is the Native line.  As you might imagine, I am chomping at the bit.

There are no segments of chromosome 2 that are unquestionably isolated to my father’s line.

Kicking it up a Notch

Are you wondering about now how something that started out looking so simple got so complex?  Well, I am too, you’re not alone.  But we’ve come this far, so let’s go that final leg in this journey.  My mom always used to say there was no point in doing something at all if you weren’t going to do it right.  Sigh….OK Mom.

The easiest way to facilitate a chromosome by chromosome comparison with all of your matches and your Strong Native and Blended Asian segments is to enter all of these segment groups into the match spreadsheet.  If you’re groaning and your eyes glaze over right after you do one big ole eye roll, I understand.

But let’s take a look at how this helps us.

On the excerpt from my spreadsheet below, for a segment of chromosome 5, I have labeled the people and how they match to me.  The ones labeled “Mom” in the last column are labeled that way because these people match both Mom and I.  The ones labeled “Dad” are labeled that way because I know that person is related on my father’s side.

Using the information from the tables created in Step 8, I entered the beginning and end of all matching segment clusters into my spreadsheet.  You can see these entries on lines 7, 8, 22, 23 and 24.  You then proceed to colorize your matches based on the entry for either Mom or Dad – in other words the blue row or the purple row, line 7, 22 or 24.  In this example, actually, line 5 Rex, based on the coloration, should have been half blue and half purple, but we’ll discuss his case in a minute.

The you can then sort either by match name or by chromosome to view data in both ways.  Let’s look at an example of how this works.

Legend:

  • White Rows:  Mother’s matches.  When Mother and I both match an individual, you’ll see the same matches for me in pink.  This double match indicates that the match is to Mother’s side and not Father’s side.
  • Pink Rows:  My matches.
  • Purple “Mom” labels in last column:  The individual matches both me and Mom.  This is a genetic match.
  • Teal “Dad” labels in last column: Genealogically proven to be from my father’s side.  This is a genealogical, not a genetic label, since I don’t have Dad’s DNA and can only infer these genetically when they don’t also match Mother.
  • Dark Pink Rows labeled “Me Amerind Only” are Strong Native or Blended Asian segments from Chromosome Table that I have entered.  My segments must come from one of my parents, so I’ve either colored them purple, if the match is someone who matches Mother and I both, or teal, if they don’t match both Mom and I, so by inference they come from my father’s line.
  • Dark Purple Rows labeled “Mom Amerind Only” are Mom’s segments from the Chromosome Table.
  • Dark Teal Rows labeled “Dad Amerind Only” are inferred segments belonging to my father based on the fact that Mother and I don’t share them.

Inferred Relationships

This is a good place to talk for just a minute about inferred relationships in this context.  Inference gets somewhat tenuous or weak.  The inferred matches on my father’s side began with the Native segments in the admix tools.  Some inferences are very strong, where Mother has no Native at all in that region.  For example, Mom has European and I have Native American.  No question, this had to come from my father.  But other cases are much less straightforward.

In many cases, categorization may be the issue.  Mom has West Asian for example and I have Siberian or Beringian.  Is this a categorization issue or is this a real genetic difference, meaning that my Siberian/Beringian is actually Native and came from my father’s side?

Other cases of confusion arise from segment misreads, etc.  I’ve actually intentionally included a situation like this below, so we can discuss it.  Like all things, some amount of common sense has to enter the picture, and known relationships will also weigh heavily in the equation.  How known family members match on other chromosome segments is important too.  Do you see a pattern or is this match a one-time occurrence?  Patterns are important.

Keep in mind that these entries only reflect STRONG Asian or Native signals, not all signals.  So even if Mother doesn’t have a strong signal, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have ANY signal in that region.  In some cases, start and stop segments for Mom and Dad overlapped due to very long segments on some matches.  In this case, we have to rely on the fact that we do have Mother’s actual DNA and assume that if they aren’t also a match to Mother, that what we are seeing is actually Dad’s lines, although this may not in actuality always be true.  Why?  Because we are dealing with segments below the matching threshold limit at both Family Tree DNA and 23andMe, and both of my parents carry Native heritage.  We can also have crossed a transitional boundary where the DNA that is being matched switches from Mom’s side to Dad’s side.

Ugh, you say, now that’s getting messy.  Yes, it is, and it has complicated this process immensely.

The Nitty-Gritty Data Itself

step 9 table 2

Taking a look at this portion of chromosome 5, we have lots going on in this cluster.  Most segments will just be boring pink and white (meaning no Native), but this segment is very busy.  Mom and I match on a small segment from 52,000,000 to 53,000,000.  Indeed, this is a very short segment when compared to the entire chromosome, but it is strongly Native.  We both also match Rex, our known cousin.  I’ve noted him with yellow in the table. Please note that Mom’s white matches are never shaded.  I am focused on determining where my own segments originate, so coloring Mother’s too was only confusing.  Yes, I did try it.

You can see that Mother actually shares all or any part of her segment with only me and Rex.  This simplifies matters, actually.  However, also note that I carry a larger segment in this region than does Mother, so either we have a categorization issue, a misread, or my father also contributed.  So, a conundrum.  This very probably implies that my father also carried Native DNA in this region.

Let’s see what Rex’s DNA looks like on this same segment of chromosome 5, from 52-53 using Eurogenes.  In the graph below, my chromosome is the top bar, Rex’s the middle and the bottom bar shows common DNA with the black nonmatching.  Yellow is Native American, red is South Asian, putty is Siberian, lime green is Mediterranean, teal is North Europe, orange is Caucus.

Step 9 item 3

This same comparison is shown to Mother’s DNA (top row) below.

step 9 item 4

It’s interesting that while Mother doesn’t have a lot of yellow (Native), she does have it throughout the same segment where Rex’s occurs, from about 52 through 53.5.

Does this actually point to a Native ancestor in the common line between Rex, Mom and I, which is the Swiss/German Johann Michael Miller line which does include an unidentified wife stateside, or does this simply indicate a common ancient population long ago in Asia?  It’s hard to say and is deserving of more research.  I feel that it is most likely Native because of the actual yellow, Native segment. If this was an Asian/European artifact, it would be much less likely to carry the actual yellow segment.

Is Rex also genealogically related to my father?  As I’ve worked through this process with all of my chromosomes and matches, I’ve really come to question if one of my father’s dead ends is also an ancestral line of my mother’s.

The key to making sense of these results is clusters.

Clusters vs Singleton Outliers

The work we’ve already done, especially in Step 8, clusters the actual DNA matching segments.  We’ve now entered that information into the spreadsheet and colored the segments of those who match.  What’s next?

The key is to look for people with clusters.  Many matches will have one segment, of say, 10 that match, colored.  Unless this is part of a large chromosome cluster, it’s probably simply an outlier.  Part of a large chromosome cluster would be like the large Strong Native segments on chromosome 1 or 2, for example.  How do we tell if this is a valid match or just an outlier?

Sort the spreadsheet by match name.  Take a look at all of the segments.

The example we’ll use is that of my cousin, Rex.  If you recall, he matches both me and Mother, is a known first cousin twice removed to me, (genetically equal to a second cousin), and is descended from the Miller line.

In this example, I also colored Mother’s segments because I wanted to see which segments that I did not receive from her were also Native. You can see that there are many segments where we all match and several of those are Native.  These also match to other Miller descendants as well, so are strongly indicative of a Native connection someplace in our common line.

If we were only to see one Native segment, we would simply disregard this as an outlier situation.  But that’s not the case.  We see a cluster of matches on various segments, we match other cousins from the same line on these segments, and reverting back to the original comparison admixture tools verifies these matches are Native for Rex, Mom and me.

step 9 item 5

Hmmmm…..what is Dad’s blue segment color doing in there?  Remember I said that we are only dealing with strong match segments?  Well, Mom didn’t have a strong segment at that location and so we inferred that Dad did.  But we know positively that this match does come from Mother’s side.  I also mentioned that I’ve come to wonder if my Mom and Dad share a common line.  It’s the Miller line that’s in question.  One of Johann Michael Miller’s children, Lodowick, moved from Pennsylvania to Augusta County, Virginia in the 1700s and his line became Appalachian, winding up in many of the same counties as my father’s family.  I’m going to treat this as simply an anomaly for now, but it actually could be, in this case, an small indication that these lines might be related.  It also might be a weak “Mom” match, or irrelevant.  I see other “double entries” like this in other Miller cousins as well.

What is the pink row on chromosome 12?  When I grouped the Strong Native and Asian Clusters, sometimes I had a strong grouping, and Mom had some.  The way I determined Dad’s inferred share was to subtract what Mom had in those segments from mine.  In a few cases, Mom didn’t have enough segments to be considered a cluster but she had enough to prevent Dad from being considered a cluster either, so those are simply pink, me with no segment coloring for Mom or Dad.

Let’s say I carry Strong Native/Mixed Asian at the following 8 locations:

10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24

This meets the criteria for 8 of 15 ethno-geographic locations (in the admix tools) within a 2.5 cM distance of each other, so this cluster would be included in the Mixed Asian for me.  It could also be a Strong Native cluster if it was found in 3 of 4 individual tools.  Regardless of how, it has been included.

Let’s now say that Mom carries Native/Mixed Asian at 10, 12 and 14, but not elsewhere in this cluster.

Mom’s 3 does not qualify her for the 8/15 and it only leaves Dad with 5 inferred segments, which disqualifies him too.  So in this case, my cluster would be listed, but not attributable directly to either parent.

What this really says is that both of my parents carry some Native/Blended Asian on this segment and we have to use other tools to extrapolate anything further.  The logic steps are the same as for Dad’s blue segment.  We’re going to treat that as an outlier.  If I really need to know, I can go back to the actual admixture tools and see whether Mom or Dad really match me strongly on which segments and how we compare to Rex as well.  In this case, it’s obvious that this is a match to my Mother’s side, so I’m leaving well enough alone.

Let’s see what the matches reveal.

Matches

Referring back to the Nitty Gritty Data spreadsheet, Mom’s match to Phyllis on row 15 confirms an Acadian line.  This is the known line of Mother’s Native ancestry.  This makes sense and they match on Native segments on several other chromosomes as well.  In fact, many of my and Mother’s matches have Acadian ancestry.

My match to row 19, Joy, is a known cousin on my father’s side with common Campbell ancestry.  This line is short however, because our common ancestor, believed to be Charles Campbell died before 1825 in Hawkins County, TN.  He was probably born before 1750, given that his sons were born about 1770 and 1772.  Joy and I descend from those 2 sons.  Charles wife and parents are unknown, as is his wife.

My match to row 20, inferred through my father’s side, is to a Sizemore, a line with genetically proven Native ancestry.  Of course, this needs more research, but it may be a large hint.  I also match with several other people who carry Sizemore ancestors.  This line appears to have originated near the NC/VA border.

I wanted to mention rows 4 and 17.  Using our rules for the spreadsheet, if I match someone and they don’t also match Mother on this segment, I have inferred them to be through my father.  These are two instances that this is probably incorrect.  I do match these people through Mother, but Mother didn’t carry a strong signal on this segment, so it automatically became inferred to Dad.  Remember, I’m only recording the Strong Native or the Blended Asian segments, not all segments.  However, I left the inferred teal so that you can see what kinds of judgment calls you’ll have to make.  This also illustrates that while Mom’s genetic matches are solid, Dad’s inferred matches are less so and sometimes require interpretation.  The proper thing to do in this instance would be to refer back to the original admixture tools themselves for clarification.

Let’s see what that shows.

step 9 item 6

Using HarrappaWorld, the most pronounced segment is at about 52.  Teal is American.  You can see that Mother has only a very small trace between 53 and 54, almost negligible.  Mother’s admixture at location 52 is two segments of purple, brown and cinnamon which translate to Southwest Asian (lt purple), Mediterranean (dk purple), Caucasian (brown) and Balock (cinnamon), from Pakistan.

Checking Dodecad shows pretty much the same thing, except Mother’s background there is South Asian, which could be the same thing as Caucus and Pakistan, just different categorizations.

In this case, it looks like the admixture is not a categorization issue, but likely did come from my father.  Each segment will really be a case by case call, with only the strongest segments across all tools being the most reliable.

It’s times like this that we have to remember that we have two halves of each chromosome and they carry vastly different information from each of our parents.  Determining which is which is not always easy.  If in doubt, disregard that segment.

Raw Numbers

So, what, really did I figure out after all of this?

First, let’s look at some numbers.

I was working with a total of 292 people who had at least one chromosomal segment that matched me with a Strong Native or Blended Asian segment.  Of those, 59 also matched Mom’s DNA.  Of those, 18 had segments that matched only Mom.  This means that some of them had segments that also matched my father.  Keep in mind, again, that we are only using “strong matches” which involves inferring Dad’s segments and that referring back to the original tools can always clarify the situation.  There seems to be some specific areas that are hotspots for Native ancestry where it appears that both of my parents passed Native ancestry to me.

Many of my and my mother’s 59 matches have Acadian ancestry which is not surprising as the Acadians intermarried heavily with the Native population as well as within their own ethnic group.

Several also have Miller Ancestry.  My Miller ancestor is Johann Michael Miller (1692-1771) who immigrated in the colonial period and settled on the Pennsylvania frontier.  His son, Philip Jacob Miller’s (1726-1799) wife was a woman named Magdalena whose last name has been rumored for years to be Rochette, but no trace of a Rochette family has ever been found in the county where they lived, region or Brethren church history…and it’s not for lack of looking.  Several matches point to Native Ancestry in this line.  This also begs the question of whether this is really Native or whether it is really the Asian heritage of the German people.  Further analysis, referring back to the admixture tools, suggests that this is actually Native. It’s also interesting that absolutely none of Mother’s other German or Dutch lines show this type of ancestry.

There is no suggestion of Native ancestry in any of her other lines.  Mother’s results are relatively clean.  Dad’s are anything but.

Dad’s Messy Matches

My father’s side of the family, however, is another story.

I have 233 matches that don’t also match my mother.  There can be some technical issues related to no-calls and such, but by and large, those would not represent many.  So we need to accept that most of my matches are from my Father’s side originating in colonial America.  This line is much “messier” than my mother’s, genealogically speaking.

Of those 233 matches, only 25 can be definitely assigned to my father.  By definitely assigned, I mean the people are my cousins or there is an absolutely solid genealogical match, not a distant match.  Why am I not counting distant matches in this total?  We all know by virtue of the AncestryDNA saga that just because we match family lines and DNA does NOT mean that the DNA match is the genealogical line we think it is.  If you would like to read all about this, please refer to the details in CeCe Moore’s blog where she discussed this phenomenon.  The relevant discussion begins just after the third photo in this article where she shows that 3 of 10 matches at Ancestry where they “identify” the common DNA ancestor are incorrect.  Of course, they never SAY that the common ancestor is the DNA match, but it’s surely inferred by the DNA match and the “leaf” connecting these 2 people to a common ancestor.  It’s only evident to someone who has tested at least one parent and is savvy enough to realize that the individual whose ancestor on Mom’s side that they have highlighted, isn’t a match to Mom too.  Oops.  Mega-oops!!!

However, because we are dealing in our project, on Dad’s side, with inferences, we’re treading on some of the same ground.  Also, because we are dealing with only “strong clustered” segments, not all Native or Asian segments and because it appears that my parents both have Native ancestry.  To make matters worse, they may both have Algonquian, Iroquoian or both.

I have also discovered during this process that several of my matches are actually related to both of my parents.  I told you this got complex.

Of the people who don’t match Mother, 32 of them have chromosomal matches only to my father, so those would be considered reliable matches, as would the closest ones of the 25 that can be identified genealogically as matching Dad.  Many of these 25 are cousins I specifically asked to test, and those people’s results have been indispensable in this process.

In fact, it’s through my close circle of cousins that we have been able to eliminate several lines as having Native ancestry, because it doesn’t’ show as strong and they don’t have it either.

Many of these lines group together when looking at a specific chromosome.  There is line after line and cousin after cousin with highlighted data.

Dad’s Native Ancestors

So what has this told me?  This information strongly suggests that the following lines on my father’s side carry Native heritage.  Note the word “carry.”  All we can say at this point is that it’s in the soup – and we can utilize current matches at our testing company and at GedMatch, genealogy research and future matches to further narrow the branches of the tree.  Many of these families are intermarried and I have tried to group them by marriage group.  Obviously, eventually, their descendants all intermarried because they are all my ancestors on my father’s side.  But multiple matches to other people who carry the Native markers but aren’t related to my other lines are what define these as lines carrying Native heritage someplace.

  • Campbell – Hawkins County, Tn around 1800, missing wife and parents, married into the Dodson family
  • Dodson – Hawkins County, Tn, Virginia – written record of Lazarus Dodson camping with the Cherokee – missing wife, married into the Campbell and Estes family
  • Claxton/Clarkson – Russell Co., Va, Claiborne and Hancock Co., Tn – In NC associated with the known Native Hatcher family.  Possibly a son-in-law.  Missing family entirely.
  • Cook – Russell Co., Va. – daughter married Claxton/Clarkson – missing wives
  • Harrold, Harrell, Herrell – Hancock Co., Tn., Wilkes Co., NC – missing wives
  • McDowell – Hancock Co. Tn, Wilkes Co., NC, Augusta Co., Va – married into the Harrell family, missing wife
  • McNeil, McNiel – Wilkes Co., NC – missing wives, married into the Vannoy family
  • Vannoy – Wilkes County – some wives unaccounted for pre-1800
  • Crumley – Greene County, Tn., Lee Co., Va. – oral history of Native wife, married into the Vannoy family
  • Brown – Greene County, Tn, Montgomery Co., Va – married into the Crumley family, missing wives

While this looks like a long list, the list of families that don’t have any Native ancestry represented is much longer and effectively serves to eliminate all of those lines.  While I don’t have “THE” answer, I certainly know where to focus my research.  Maybe there isn’t the one answer.  Maybe there are multiple answers, in multiple lines.

The Take Away

Is this complex?  Yes!  Is it a lot of work?  You bet it is!  Is everything cast in concrete?  Never!  You can see that by the differences we’ve found in data interpretation, not to mention issues like no-calls (areas that for some reason in the test don’t read) and cross overs where your inheritance switches from your mom’s side to your dad’s side.  Is there any other way to do this?  No, not if your minority admixture is down in that weedy area around 1%.

Is it worth it?  You’ll have to decide.  It guess it depends on how desperately you want to know.

Part of the reason this is difficult is because we are missing tools in critical locations.  It’s an intensively laborious manual process.  In essence, using various tools, one has to figure out the locations of the Native and Asian chromosome segments and then use that information to infer Native matches by a double match (genetic match at DNA company plus match with Strong Native/Blended Asian segment) with the right parent.  It becomes even more complex if neither parent is available for testing, but it is doable although I would think the reliability could drop dramatically.

Tidbits and Trivia

I’ve picked up a number of little interesting tidbits during this process.  These may or may not be helpful to you.  Just kind of file them away until needed:)

  • Matches at testing companies come and go….and sometimes just go.  At Family Tree DNA, I have some matches that must be trembling on the threshold that come and go periodically.  Now you see them, now you don’t.  I lost matches moving from the Affy chip to the Illumina chip and lost additional matches between Build 36 and 37.  Some reappeared, some haven’t.
  • The start and stop boundaries changed for some matches between build 36 and build 37.  I did not go back and readjust, as most of these, in the larger scheme of things, were minor.  Just understand that you are looking for  patterns here that indicate Native heritage, not exact measurements.  This process is a tool, and unfortunately, not a magic wand:)
  • The centromere locations change between builds.  If you have matches near or crossing the middle of the chromosome, called the centromere, there may be breaks in that region.  I enter the centromere start and stop locations in my spreadsheet so that if I notice something odd going on in that region, the centromere addresses are right there to alert me that I’m dealing with that “odd” region.  You can find the centromere addresses in the FAQ at Family Tree DNA for their current build.
  • At 23andMe, when you reach the magic 1000 matches threshold, you start losing matches and the matching criteria is elevated so that you can stay under 1000 matches.  For people with colonial American or Jewish heritage, in other words those with high numbers of matches, this is a problem.
  • Watch for matches that are related to both sides of your family.  If your family lived in colonial America, you’re going to have a lot of matches and many are probably related to each other in ways you aren’t aware of.
  • If your parents are related to each other, this process might simply be too complex and intertwined to provide enough granular data to be useful.
  • Endogamous groups are impossible to sort through as to where, meaning which ancestor, the DNA came from.  This is because the original group founders’ DNA is just getting passed around and around, with little or no new DNA being introduced.  The effect of this on downstream generations relative to genetic genealogy is that matches appear to be more closely related than they are because of the amount of matching DNA they carry.  For my Brethren and my Acadian groups of people, I just list them by the group name, since, as the saying goes, “if you’re related to one Acadian, you’re related to all Acadians.”
  • If you’re going to follow this procedure, save one spreadsheet copy with the Strong Native only and then a second one with both the Strong Native and Blended Asian.  I’m undecided truthfully whether the Mixed Asian adds enough resolution for the extra work it generates.
  • When in question, refer back to the original tools.  The answer will always be found there.
  • Unfortunately, tools change.  You may want to take screen shots.  During this process, FTDNA went from build 36 to 37, match thresholds changed, 23andMe introduced a new user interface (which I find much less intuitive) and GedMatch has made significant changes.  The net-net of this is when you decide to undertake this project, commit to it and do it, start to finish.  Doing this little by little makes you vulnerable to changes that may make your data incompatible midstream – and you may not even realize it.
  • This entire process is intensively manual.  My spreadsheet is over 5500 rows long.  I won’t be doing it again…although I will update my spreadsheet with new matches from time to time.  The hard work is already done.
  • This same technique applies to any minority ancestry, not just Native, although that’s what I’ve been hunting for and one of the most common inquiries I receive.
  • I am hopeful that in the not too distant future many of these steps and processes will be automated by the group of bright developers that contribute to GedMatch or via other tools like DNAGedcom. HINT – HINT!!!

I would like to follow this same process to identify the source of my African heritage, but I’m thinking I’ll wait for the tools to become automated.  The great irony is that it’s very likely in the same lines as my Native ancestors.

If You Want to Test

What does it take to do this for yourself using the tools we have today, as discussed?

If your parents are living, the best gift you can give yourself is to test them, now, while you still can.  My mother has been gone for several years, but her DNA archived at Family Tree DNA was still viable.  This is not always the case.  I was fortunate.  Her DNA is one of the best gifts she gave me.  Not just by inheritance, but by having hers tested.  I thank her every single day, for both!  I could not have written this article without her DNA results.  The gift that keeps on giving.

If you don’t have a parent to test, you can test several other family members who will provide some information, but clearly won’t carry the same amounts of common DNA with you as your parents.  These would include your aunts and uncles, your parents’ siblings and what I’ve referred to as your close cousin circle.  Attempt to test at least someone from each line.  Yes, it gets expensive, but as one of my cousins said, as she took her third or 4th DNA test.  “It’s only money.  This is about family.”

You can also test your own siblings as well to obtain more information that you can use to match up to your family lines. Remember, you only receive half of your parents DNA, and your siblings will received some DNA from your parents that you didn’t.

I don’t have any other siblings to test, but I have tested cousins from several lines which have proven invaluable when trying to discern the sources of certain segments. For example, one of these Native segments fell on a common segment with my cousin Joy.  Therefore, I know it’s from the Campbell line, and because I have the Campbell paternal Y-DNA which is European, I know immediately the Native admixture would have had to be from a wife.

Much of this puzzle is deductive, but we now have the tools, albeit manual, to do this type of work that was previously impossible.  I am somewhat disappointed that I can’t pinpoint the exact family lines, yet, but hopefully as more people test and more matches provide genealogical information, this will improve.

If you want to play in this arena, you need to test at either Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, or both.  Right now, the most cost effective way to achieve this is to purchase a $99 kit from 23andMe, test there, then download your results from 23andMe and upload them to Family Tree DNA for $99.  That way, you are fishing in both pools.  Be aware that less than half of the people who test at either company download results to GedMatch, so your primary match locations are with the testing companies.  GedMatch is auxiliary, but critical for this analysis.  And the newest tool, DNAGedcom is a Godsend.

Also note that transferring your result to Family Tree DNA is NOT the same thing as actually testing there.  Why does this matter?  If you want a future test at Family Tree DNA, who is the premiere genetic genealogy testing company, offering the most variety and “deepest” commercial tests, they archive your DNA for 25 years, but if you transfer results, they don’t have your DNA to archive, so no future products can be ordered.  All I can say is thank Heavens Mom’s DNA was there.

Ancestry.com doesn’t provide any tools such as the chromosome browser or even the basic information of matching segments.  All you get is a little leaf that says you’re related, but the questions of which segment or how are not answerable today at Ancestry and as CeCe’s experience proved, its unreliable.  It’s  possible that you share the same surnames and ancestor, but your genetic connection is not through that family line.  Without tools, there is no way to tell.  Ancestry released raw data files a few weeks ago and very recently, GedMatch has implemented the ability to upload them so that Ancestry participants can now utilize the additional tools at GedMatch.

Although this has been an extraordinarily long and detailed process, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have developed this new technique to add to my toolbox.  My Native and African ancestors have been most elusive.  There are no records, they didn’t write and probably didn’t even speak English, certainly not initially.  The only clues to their existence, prior to DNA, were scant references and family lore.  The only prayer of actually identifying them is though these small segments of our DNA – yep – down in the weeds.  Are there false starts perhaps, and challenges and maybe a few snakes down there?  Yes, for sure, but so is the DNA of your ancestors.

Happy gardening and rooting around in the weeds.  Just think of it as searching for the very best buried treasure!  It’s down there, just waiting to be found.  Keep digging!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and that it leads you to your own personal genealogical treasure trove!

treasure chest

The Gift of a Davenport

I work with adoptees a lot.  They often order Personalized DNA Reports with the hope of finding some hint of their family.  Women have a distinct disadvantage – they have no Y chromosome.  About 30% of the time by looking at the Y chromosome, I can figure out the most likely genetic surname for men – and sometimes there is absolutely no question.  But women aren’t so lucky.

When adoptees order these reports, I suggest, strongly, that they also have the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA performed.  This gives me two tools to work with, and they can be used together.

Recently, I completed a report for Caroline.  Here’s the sum knowledge of what she knew about her biological family.  She was born in Flagstaff, Arizona to a mother who was a college student.  That’s it.  Let’s just say there was a lot of opportunity for DNA to help Caroline.  Caroline said to me, “I don’t know the names of any of my blood relatives.”  Well Caroline, we’re about to fix that!!!

And indeed, she does now, through the magic of DNA and a little sleuthing.  Caroline, it turns out, is one of the lucky ones – she had a good match and that match has led us to well, a Davenport…and more.

                      Davenport

No, not this kind of Davenport – well – maybe not – but the Davenport family.  Maybe it’s the same Davenport family, because although the word davenport is generic like “Kleenex” today, it all started with the Davenport family, a Massachusetts furniture manufacturer, the A. H. Davenport Company.  Hmmm….I wonder.

Using Family Finder, Carolina had a solid second cousin match.  She contacted this person, we’ll call him Mr. Midkiff, who provided some initial information, but the 4 surnames Mr. Midkiff listed as Ancestral Surnames proved to be much more useful than the information provided to Caroline.

Often, it’s a good idea to list as many surnames as you possibly can, but in this case, Mr. Midkiff only listed 4 plus his own, for a total of 5 to work with, so I’m betting here that they are Mr. Midkiff’s closest surnames, meaning the grandparents generation plus one great-grandparent surname.

With that, I used the handy-dandy genetic relationship chart to show Caroline how this works.  One of the reasons I love this chart is because it’s all related to “self,” so you don’t have to try to figure out where and how you fit into the chart.

adopted cheat chart

If Mr. Midkiff is her second cousin, and she is “self” then we can see that self and the second cousin connect via great-grandparents. Mr. Midkiff’s great-grandparents would have the following surnames, plus three additional.

  • Midkiff
  • Davenport
  • Jennings
  • Potter
  • Veach
  • 3 additional unknown

These are the surnames of Mr. Midkiff’s ancestors and it’s all we have to work with since we don’t know the surnames of Caroline’s ancestors.

Using the chart and retrofitting surnames, we know that of Mr. Midkiff’s 5 surnames, 2 or 3 come from his mother’s side and 2 or 3 from his father’s side.  We know genetically that Caroline is related closely to at least one of those 5 lines, and possibly to more than one, meaning 2 or 3, depending on how closely she and Mr. Midkiff are actually related.

Next, we need to figure out which of those 5 surnames Caroline is related to.

Caroline only had one close match, but she had 960 total matches.  In order to be able to sort through those matches, I entered the 5 surnames listed by Mr. Midkiff as Caroline’s surnames.  This allowed me to then search for these ancestral surnames and to see them bolded in Caroline’s match list.

davenport 1

Because of different surname spellings, instead of simply relying on the search, I went through page by page and looked at each bolded surname.  I discovered that this was a very good move, because the Davenport family was spelled any number of ways, like Diefenback, Dieffenback, etc.  The Ancestral Surname search does not pick up alternate spellings, but the bolded surnames in the lists sometimes do.

A total of 13 people matched one or more of these surnames.

Her matches sort out like this:

  • Midkiff – 1
  • Jennings – 5
  • Davenport – 3
  • Potter – 4
  • Veach – 1 Vaux

I grouped people into categories by their surnames and then began using the Chromosome Browser to compare people to Caroline.

Normally, I could compare all 13 people in 3 comparisons (the browser allows 5 selections per comparison), download them, and then use a spreadsheet to sort by chromosome matches, but the downloads have been experiencing technical difficulties recently, so instead, I simply compared randomly and then by surname group.

One of the great options in the Chromosome Browser is the option for “common surnames” which then displayed all of 13 of her common surname matches and no non-matches.  So I, thankfully, did not have to sort through 960 people to find the 13 she matches for comparison.

Below, with the chromosome browser set to 1cM, you can see her matches to the Davenport group, plus a Fry who lists Potter as her ancestral surname but also matches the Davenport group.

davenport 2

What we are looking for here are people who match Caroline on the exact same chromosome segments and match each other as well.  This allows us to identify that segment with that surname.  In this case, chromosome 12 fits that bill exactly.

Davenport 2 ch 12

So Caroline, welcome to the Davenport family!!!

However, since Ms. Fry does not list Davenport, but does list Potter, let’s take a look at that Potter group.

davenport 3

Now, this gets very interesting, because look at that same segment of Chromosome 12 – in addition to  the Davenport folks, it also matches a Pinson who lists both Jennings and Potter in their list of ancestral surnames.  So the Davenport DNA is also Potter DNA.  Welcome to the Potter family Caroline!

Davenport 3 ch 12

So, let’s take a look at the Jennings folks.

davenport 4

Again, let’s look at Chromosome 12 and indeed, 4 of the 5 people who carry the Jennings surname also match Caroline on that same segment of Chromosome 12.

Davenport ch 12

What does this tell us?  Well, it tells us that this chromosome is inherited from the same ancestor.  What I can’t tell Caroline is which ancestor.  What we can say is that all three of these surnames, and all of these individuals share that ancestor and the chromosome is inherited through the Jennings, Davenport and Potter families in a particular family line – in Caroline’s family line and also in Mr. Midkiff’s.  Now it will be up to genealogy, and contacting these matches and asking for their Davenport/Potter/Jennings ancestry, to disclose just how these people’s ancestors are related.

Oh yes, and before I forget, welcome to the Jennings family Caroline!

So, here’s what I’m guessing.  Caroline has in essence no matches to Midkiff (other than the initial match to Mr. Midkiff) or Veach.  However, both Caroline and Mr. Midkiff have several matches, including the same segment of chromosome 12, to Jennings, Davenport and Potter.  I’m guessing that this is Mr. Midkiff’s mother’s side of the family and that if Caroline were to contact all of these people, she would, by process of elimination, discover commonalities in their pedigree charts and genealogy.  Then, by working forwards from what she finds, she can, again, by process of elimination, hopefully, find a line of the family that went to Arizona and candidates for one of her parents.

Maybe one of you holds the answer to Caroline’s quandry.  Does anyone know of a family with some history in Texas and in Arizona that carries the surnames Jennings, Davenport and Potter and perhaps married in to the Veach or Midkiff family?  If so, you can perhaps put some color into Caroline’s mysterious Davenport family.  Contact Caroline directly at cbfernandez@gmail.com. She would love to hear from you.

Davenport 5

Caveat:  Please note that this level of autosomal research is not normally included in a Personalized DNA report which focuses on either the Y-line or the Mitochondrial DNA lines.  Some research is included and was included for Caroline, identifying the Davenport common line.  The balance of this research was performed for the blog posting, with Caroline’s permission of course.  This type of autosomal research is available through www.dnaexplain.com at an hourly rate.  Everyone’s situation is unique and varies, and it is impossible to create a standard report product for autosomal situations.  Generally, a good approach is to start with a Y-line or mitochondrial DNA report and move forward from there.  You can see what it did for Caroline!

The Genomics Revolution 13 Years Later – Bennett Greenspan

Bennett GreenspanOn April 29, 2013, from 11 AM-12 noon, Bennett Greenspan will be the featured speaker in the CSE Distinguished Lecture Series in the Georgia Tech Auditorium located in the Technology Square Research Building, 85 Fifth Street, Atlanta, Georgia, 30332.

Bennett will be speaking about bridging the gap between traditional genealogy and genetics, and will be discussing the various kinds of testing and when each is important.  He will also be talking about new technology, exome and full genome sequencing and how that will be important to individuals.

Always a man with his eye on the horizon, thankfully for genetic genealogists, Bennett says the genomic revolution has just begun.

You can read more here:  http://www.cse.gatech.edu/events/cse-distinguished-lecture-series-bennett-greenspan

Bennett is also speaking at the Bremen Museum on Sunday, April 28th at 2PM about using DNA to settle family disputes, connect to long-lost relatives and to garner an appreciation for where your ancestors came from and where they journeyed since our departure from Africa.

You can read more about this here:  http://www.thebreman.org/events-n-programs/calendar.html

For those who have never heard Bennett speak, he is an exceptional speaker and makes genetic genealogy not only understandable, but very attractive to the novice.  Being a genealogist before genetic genealogy, a field established by Family Tree DNA, he brings a very powerful personal story to the table.  He has a way of speaking and simplifying the complex that resonates with people.

This is also a rare opportunity to hear someone personally who has directly caused a technology revolution.  Bennett founded Family Tree DNA in 2000, actually, almost by accident, as a result of the process he went through trying to answer one of his own long-standing genealogy questions.

I hope you’ll have the opportunity to attend one or both of these presentations.  Even though I’ve heard Bennett many times, if I were anyplace to close to Atlanta, you can bet I’d be in the audience.  Hearing Bennett speak makes me fall in love with genetic genealogy all over again!