DNA downunder

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

 

I have just spent three days in Sydney at the first DNA downunder conference. Blaine T Bettinger, Louise Coakley and many other presenters showed us better ways to use and analyse our DNA.

They also ran single day events in many capital cities in Australia (not Hobart).

The conference was held at the Castle Hill RSL club – a lot bigger than the one at Sorell I am used to.

Some topics I listened and took notes from were:

Thursday

  • Understanding and interpreting your ethnicity results
  • What do Australians think about DNA testing?
  • Using autosomal DNA for 18th and 19th century mysteries
  • Evaluating a genealogical conclusion including DNA
  • Latest advances in third party tools for autosomal DNA
  • Are you doing everything to identify your DNA matches?

Friday

  • Ethical and legal considerations for DNA evidence
  • Great great DNA
  • Shared matches and genetic networks
  • Advanced third party tools
  • Practical tips for working with speculative trees

Saturday

  • Stories behind the segments
  • DNA and the aftermath of uncovered family secrets
  • Phasing and mapping your DNA
  • Limitations of cousin matching
  • The Helen Marley story – case study
  • Panel – DNA: A look at the future

As you can see from my programme, there was little time to synthesize everything we were learning. But my takeaways from the conference were:

  1. check those shared matches and make use of the coloured dots in Ancestry
  2. use chromosome browsers in MyHeritage and FTDNA to find those shared and triangulated matches
  3. use tools like DNA Painter to map your segments – keep records of who you have already painted
  4. join DNA facebook groups to get help
  5. test all those close relatives – but explain the ethics and legal side of testing to them first

Here are some DNA Facebook groups that could be handy: Remember to answer the questions when asking to join

Blaine also has his own YouTube channel and presentations for Legacy Family Tree with some great videos on both of them related to DNA and tools at the different testing companies.

Many thanks to Alan and Anthea Phillips and Alona Tester from Gould Genealogy and Unlock the Past for organizing such a great conference.

Readers: For those who might have attended the conference (one day or three day), what was your best takeaway?

Update DNA results

At the beginning of 2019, I decided to start tracking how many new DNA matches I received over a 6 month period. So here are the results.

In January on Ancestry – 4th cousins or closer

  • I had 228 : June 269 – an increase of 41
  • Mum had 295 : June 347 – an increase of 52
  • Philip had 209: June 237 – an increase of 28
  • Dad had 187: June 210 – an increase of 23

In January on My Heritage – total matches

  • I had 3472: June 4157 – an increase of 685
  • Mum had 3990: June 4860 – an increase of 870
  • Philip had 3555: June 4239 – an increase of 684
  • Dad had 3508: June 4243 – an increase of 735

In January on FTDNA – total matches

  • I had 241: June 259 – an increase of 18
  • Mum had 283: June 303 – an increase of 20
  • Philip had 202: June 219 – an increase of 17
  • Dad had 198: June 220 – an increase of 22

I really like using Ancestry as it quickly tells me if I have common ancestors.

  • Sue 50 common ancestors – 4 unsure links – these are generally 5th-8th cousins
  • Mum 52 common ancestors – 7 unsure links as these are mainly back in the 1700s or early 1800s before formal registration and censuses
  • Philip 48 common ancestors – 5 unsure links when using thrulines and other clues
  • Dad 11 common ancestors of which 4 are kits I manage – Dad is definitely the problem person when it comes to DNA and the paper trail not matching.

When I know where a match is on my tree, I star them on Ancestry

I am lucky to have nearly 10000 people on a database on my home computer, so can quickly work out if a person is a match or not by using their online tree and my database.

  • Sue 66 stars
  • Mum 69 stars
  • Philip 65 stars
  • Dad 13 stars

I am doing quite well with messages sent through Ancestry – probably getting replies on 1 out of every 3 sent. I do check when the last time the match was on the website and will more likely message those who have been on in the last few months.

Ancestry now allows you to colour code for family lines or any other purpose you might need. When I star a match, I also use the notes section to put in how that person matches my mother or father eg Sue – Phyl – Hannah – George – John and Ann Davey nee Dixon This means I can see the most recent common ancestor at a glance (MRCA). That allows me to colour code very quickly eg Davey Dixon line

Readers: How are you going with working out matches using your DNA results? Are you using the new tools from each testing company? Which tools are you finding the most useful?

 

No genetic relationship but ….

Mum and Sibyle have been friends for ages through the Girl Guide movement where they were both commissioners at some stage and members of Trefoil.  A few years ago they were travelling back from a meeting in Launceston via Evandale where many of my COLGRAVE and DAVEY relatives were born. Mum pointed out a house where her great aunt Ethel lived and mentioned she had brought me up there one time when I was a baby.  To mum’s surprise, Sibyle said Ethel was her cousin – in fact they were first cousins once removed.

So how are mum and Sibyle related?

They both share Francis COLGRAVE and Isabella WATKINS(ON) – Sibyle through her grandfather Samuel Colgrave and mum through her great grandfather Francis John Colgrave, sibling to Samuel.

Sibyle turned 100 last year and as she is one generation older than my mum, I thought I would ask if I could get her DNA tested. She said yes, so I spent a fantastic afternoon in the nursing home, chatting to Sibyle while she worked up enough spit to put in the tube to send back to Ancestry.

Wait …wait … wait …

Two nights ago, the results came in. Now as 2C1R I was expecting to see mum and Sibyle sharing at least some DNA but when I went to shared matches for mum, Sibyle was not there. Why not?  I asked on a Facebook DNA group was it unusual for 2C1R not to share DNA and had many replies but one was from Blaine Bettinger who had written a great post about just this problem.

Yesterday I uploaded Sibyle’s DNA to Genesis. This is the next version from Gedmatch. It allows people to compare others who have tested with other DNA companies not just Ancestry.  Because of the algorithm used by Ancestry some smaller segments might not be included in their results, so I was hoping those smaller segments would be there in Genesis.

More waiting … but using the one to one comparison, I found mum and Sibyle did share DNA but only 18cM over two segments which should mean they relate about 5 generations back.

Results comparing mum and Sibyle using Genesis.

I then decided to compare the amount of DNA from matches shared by both mum and Sibyle. The results in the table are from Ancestry other than the one where I have Genesis.

Readers: Has anyone else had a surprise when there was no DNA when you thought there should be especially with closer relatives?

Surprise, surprise!

It is from my dad’s DNA testing that I have had a lot of surprises. I have been researching my family for over 45 years and thought I had all the paper work correct.

Imagine my surprise when I find all these DNA matches to dad that don’t fit into the paperwork I have.

Dad Ancestry matches

The starred matches are those I have as connections in my home database. They include myself, my brother, dad’s half brother (another surprise), five 1st or 2nd cousins already known to us, and finally three cousins who I have now connected to dad’s tree.

But there is someone who is a 1st or 2nd cousin match who I have no idea about. When I look at the shared matches for that person, none come back to known relatives. So somewhere my paper trail must be wrong.

Dad unknown cousin

Then I looked at ethnicity. Dad’s great grandfather was half Samoan, so dad and I should have some Polynesian in our DNA – not a skerrick. Those 5 known cousins do from 3-10%. So where is dad’s and mine?

Dad DNA story

Where has all the Irish ethnicity come from? I hadn’t found any Irish in dad’s paperwork. Looks like there have been some lies passed down in the family oral history. Or maybe the truth wasn’t known and it is only now with DNA that the truth is appearing.

With dad’s half brother (same father) having done a DNA test, I can now sort dad’s matches into paternal and maternal. But when looking at the maternal matches, I find the unknown 1st or 2nd cousin comes in there. But doesn’t match those with the Polynesian ethnicity. So maybe dad’s maternal grandfather is not the son of the Samoan whaling captain I have researched for years.

I have started using the tool What are the odds (part of DNA painter) which allows me to make hypotheses of where dad’s grandfather might be in the unknown cousin’s tree.

Dad DNA painter WATO

Looking at the unknown cousin’s tree, there is a lot of Irish in there, but I still need to find which person is dad’s direct relative.

Readers: What surprises have you found in your paper trail and or DNA trail?

DNA connections and record keeping

I look after 7 DNA kits from Ancestry and all are uploaded to Family Tree DNA, My Heritage DNA and GEDmatch DNA. How do I keep a record of my matches, chromosomes and common information?

I have a spreadsheet on my google drive  which synchronizes across all my devices. This means whether I am at home on my desktop PC, or in a library with my iPad or my laptop then I can always get to that spreadsheet to make any changes.

I mainly work on my father’s DNA connections or my mother’s as they will be one generation closer to the Most Common Recent  Ancestor (MCRA) than if I work with mine or my brother’s.

The main DNA spreadsheet has lots of sheets relating to Dad

The first sheet has a copy of the first 2000 links from GEDmatch using the one-to-many test. This is just a straight copy/paste. I have then gone through the first 100 people using the one-to-one test to find out the chromosomes shared with my dad.  I am starting to colour code people who match each other when using the share 2 kits test. At least once a moth I update this sheet by checking the people marked in green on the main GEDmatch page for Dad. These will be the recent people who share his DNA.

The second sheet is a copy of the share 2 kits test for Dad and Kevin (his half brother)  This is a straight copy/paste. This means everyone on that list is from dad’s paternal side as dad and Kevin share a father. This list includes names and emails of the matches as well as the amount of cM shared and the generations between the matches. I am in contact with 3 people on this list so far.

The third sheet is one I have to create from information on available trees from the people in the Dad/Kevin list. I find their trees on any of the DNA websites. On this sheet I list the name of the person, the surnames at 4 or more generations away and where and when those people were born and died.

The fourth sheet is the share 2 kits test for Dad and Ruby. Anyone on this list relates to my dad’s maternal grandmother.

Dad/Patrick is because Patrick is the closest unknown link on the GEDmatch list at 3.9 generations.

I just found a great video from Ancestry explaining shared cM, mirror trees and a lot more. The sound is not too great and sounds a bit tunnelly.

My future plans

I will be starting a new spreadsheet for Mum’s DNA at some stage to keep all her information there.

On Ancestry, I have lots of trees, one labelled DNA Dad’s tree. It is here that I use the information from dad and Kevin matches to create mirror trees to find out where they link. So far I have about 6 trees started but none link yet. This will certainly be an ongoing project.

I also keep a separate spreadsheet with all those people I have already found a match to with DNA from either Mum or Dad. But I also include matches with the other people whose kits I look after eg Ruby, Dorothy and Kevin. The information in this is then sent to Blaine Bettinger’s shared cM Project via this Google form. The MCRA is usually a grandparent couple rather than an individual except in the case of my father’s grandmother. Most of my dad’s matches are half relationships and in the note column I will mention if the match is double cousins as I have on one side of mum’s tree. As Ancestry doesn’t give the largest number of cMs, I just put Ancestry in this column. When I have uploaded data to the shared cM project I put the year in the Done column. Anything highlighted in yellow is dad’s side but more information needs to be included, green is same but mum’s side.

Readers: How do you record your matches for DNA from all the websites or do you just use one website?