Monday, March 16, 2015

Y We Need Proven Y Trees

"Once upon a time in a land far away lived a beautiful Indian Princess who married an Indian Trader..." A great story to have in your family history. An Owens family does have a similar story in their family, and it is true to a degree. An Indian Trader, John Owens, may have married a daughter of a Native American Chief. This story has been widely told in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The appeal of this story, as you would guess, has led to many false connections being established with this family.

An Owens Y DNA project was started a number of years ago. The goal of the participants from our Owens line has been to prove our connection to John Owens I the Indian Trader. What I found out over the weekend is that a person claiming direct descent from the Indian Trader, who tested with the project, has a weak claim to a line of direct descent. I didn't know who the person claiming direct descent was until a few weeks ago. For years I've been pondering that. I didn't feel confident comparing with this person because I didn't know what line they descended from. I would love to see lines of descent, i.e,. trees attached to results at the Owens project. Without seeing a tree we can't be sure whether the line of descent is correct.

Someone in our Owens group found some great information about the Owens family of Booth's Creek, now West Virginia. According to the person who tested with the Owens Y project his family's claim to direct descent came from John I, or II?, owning land on Booth's Creek, where contemporary sources say he was killed by Indians somewhere between 1778 and 1783. This person's family lived not far from the Booth's Creek area so a relationship was assumed.

This premise that either of the John Owenses owned land on Booth's Creek, West Virginia seemed to crumble over the weekend. I was finally able to find some information coming from an Owens deed for Booth Creek. I was led to a site with Harrison County Court record abstracts through information provided by an Owens group member. This information regarded a John Owens of Harrison County (where Booth's Creek is located) and land located in Frederick County, Virginia. According to court minutes, for Harrison County, a John Owens was the rightful heir to land located in Frederick County. This was confirmed by a Janet Owens. All of this was new to me. This appeared to be an Owens family which wasn't closely related to our own. When I did a google search on some of this info a WikiTree surfaced with some research notes attached, with sources. I found a deed abstract attached to the tree. This abstract answered many questions I asked in my last blog post i.e. who owned the land on Booth's Creek, and who the second John Owens was. He was John Owens married to a Mary. So now we have a John Owens married to Mary, and a John Owens married to Sarah, living in the area at around the same time. John married to Sarah seems to show up in West Virginia after 1801. I have not found him being taxed there before that year. Beginning in 1801 John married to Mary begins selling their land off, they leave the area around 1805.

The family tree posted at Wiki Tree for this John Owens family on Booth's Creek states there was a John Owens father and son living on Booth's Creek next to James Owens, brother of the elder John. This would match what I was seeing in the records for the area. We find a John Owens Sr. and Jr. signing a petition for the establishment of a new county in 1778, and we also find a 1782 land warrant for a John Owens Junior claiming land as an heir to John Owens deceased. This was thought to be our John Owens III. Since John Owens III was only around 12 years old at the time I felt this was unlikely. I did think it possible that someone applied for him. It doesn't look like that. It looks like John Owens of Booth's Creek was transacting his own business, and receiving title to his land claims from 1784 onward according to land records for Booth's Creek.

Right now, which can change, we have John Owens of Booth's Creek as likely the son of John Owens and Ann Horn. Both John and Ann owned property in Frederick, Virginia which appears to have been inherited by the family in Harrison County. Where this line is beginning to take a wrong turn is that they are also claiming a relationship to the Indian Trader. There is absolutely no evidence they are related to the Indian Trader. According Wiki Tree James Owens was also involved in the Indian Trade but there is no evidence of this. The two Johns and James of Booth's Creek appear to be farmers. It seems both John Owens II of Tenmile Creek and John Sr. of Booth's Creek died at around the same time and their deaths are associated with violence. John II of Tenmile Creek was said to have been shot by Indians a mile from Waynesburg, PA, and John Owens Sr. of Booth's Creek, VA was said to have been hatched to death by Indians. This has added to the confusion about the identity of the men.

Taking a close look at the Tyler County John Owens family in Census records I can see where it is very possible that John Owens III is the same man. He would be the right age to be John Owens III. He is associated with the Ankrom family known to be acquainted with John I and II. There could have been a migration of Waynesburg PA residents to Wirt, Tyler county? What I'm not seeing is a naming pattern matching the PA Owens family. I've also seen a Joseph Owens born 1755 in Marion County as forebearer of this family. Another research states that a James Richard Owens killed in Clarksburg is the founder of this line. Everyone copied the Booth's Creek association which I can't find any documentation for.

John Owens 1830 Census
Tyler County, VA
I was subscribing to some of these theories based on John I  or II owning land on Booth's Creek. It doesn't appear either of them owned this land. I had been thinking one of these men owned that land, or it was another unrelated man of the same name. It looks like an unrelated family at this time. WORK, needs to be done on this line to establish John Owens of Tyler County's exact relationship to the family of John I.  Hopefully the relationship stated at the Y DNA group can be proven, and all will be well again? Even better than before because we'll have actual proof of this person's line of descent, and the DNA project will have increased credibility.

Will likely be adding to this stack

Friday, March 13, 2015

Resolving Conflicting Evidence Owens Line

I'm trying to resolve conflicting evidence without land records; which are essential to clearing them up.

I guess my primary problem with the Owens lines in West Virginia and Pennsylvania is the fact common male first names are used and there is no way to differentiate between these men. Hopefully, the Owens filed deeds so we can identify the locations where each man lived. That combined with the names of their wives would resolve many problems. It may be tricky to find the deeds? They may have been filed long after the fact, and county lines have changed so many times over the years.

Right now we have random Owens males appearing on tax lists and purchasing land from government agencies. These land records don't name wives so it's impossible connect them with a particular family.

From the scant information, we have now, we know Owens males, and Judith Owens, lived in South West Pennsylvania and what is now West Virginia. If we are to believe the accounts of John Owens II's death he died on Booth's Creek, Virginia. This land is about 30 miles from his land on the South Fork of Tenmile Creek, PA. That seems a little odd? In his will John Owens II gives "the land I now labor on" to John Owens III. He doesn't say where the land he now labors on was located? We've inferred it's the Booth's Creek land. We see a John Owens Jr. is presented with a land warrant in 1782. He would have been maybe 12 yrs. old at most? According to John II his son was supposed to inherit the land when he turned 21 years old. He was not yet 21 in 1790.

Another bit of evidence which throws a monkey wrench into the theory John II owned land on Booth's Creek is that a John Owens Sr. and John Owens Jr. sign a petition for the formation of a new county from the existing Monongalia county. They signed this petition in 1777. We had thought the Owens widow in Bedford County, PA was Judith wife of John I. That tax list was for the year 1773. Maybe that wasn't her? If so he could have signed the 1777 petition and owned the land on Booth's Creek. In that case the John Jr. and Sr. are Johns I and II. If not who are the John Sr. and Jr. listed on the 1777 petition for Monongalia? Could be John son of James and John II on the Petition? Or another John Sr. and Jr. altogether?

Debt of John Owens Sr. and Jr.
There is a suggestion that John I may have lived passed 1773 in John II's estate records. A debt owed by both John I and II to George Church is paid off by the estate in 1782.

So did John Owens II own land on Booth's Creek? In his estate records we find references to a Lower Planation. Is that the one in West Virginia? Some say "Maths" (another wife of John I) died in Harrison County. Virginia? So did John Owens I actually own land on Booth's Creek and not John II? I think that James Owens who also lived on Booth's Creek might be John I's son? Was it actually John I or John II who was killed on Booth's Creek and owned land there? William Powers 1833 Revolutionary War Pension file implies John was killed in 1781. Other accounts have the killing of John Owens as 1778 or 1783? John Owen II did in fact die in the spring of 1781. There are no details given about his death in Estate records.

Another question is which John Owens is found in the West Virginia records for Harrison and Monongalia Counties in the late 18th and early 19th century? Could be John son of James or John III son of John II? Which John is in Mapletown, Pennsylvania in 1798?

The problem that I'm basically seeing it there is only one John Owens on tax lists in West Virginia. He appears to be older than the son of John Owens II, because he appears on a Tax list in Monongalia County, Virginia in 1790 when John II would have been under 21. In 1801 we see a John Owens with 2 tithables in his household, meaning 2 males over 21, in the 1801 Tax list for Harrison County, VA. In 1789 a John Owens signs a marriage bond in Harrison County, Virginia. Too old to be John Owens II's son.

John Owens 1790 Taxlist Monongalia County
Below 1801 Tax List John Owens
We also have evidence supporting the fact John Owens III may have settled in Virginia. There is a relationship between the Ankrom family and John Owens II. John Ancrom is mentioned in his estate records. He owed him a debt. The Ankrom family married into the West Virginia John Owens family. John Owens and wife Sarah appear to have a young family, with children born between 1796 and 1816, in the latter half of the 18th and early 19th Century. This would fit the age range of John Owens II.  Also it was common for settlers of Tenmile Creek, PA to also own land in West Virginia.

What we can say for certain is that the West Virginia John Owens family did match, on the Y DNA test, the descendants of John Owens I Indian Trader. Relationships are still up in the air until land records are consulted. We will only continue to go in circles without looking at the land records.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

AncestryDNA Useless? The Thrill of the Y & Breaking More Pieces Off A Brickwall

New Look and Newly expanded databases at HeritageQuest

AncestryDNA has created a product which is time consuming and provides no useful tools to compare results with matches.  It's aggravatingly difficulty to get useful data from their product. It came home to me again yesterday because a first cousin's results came in and I couldn't see any data related to our match, or see anyone we shared in common. I've always had control over previous family kits so that was new to me. I just so happened to read a post from someone else who matched a relative, yesterday, and they experienced the same feeling; they couldn't see anything but the fact they matched. Without the ability to compare outside Ancestry there would be no reason to test with them. I can't imagine what it was like before testers were able download their raw data? It must have been very aggravating. I hear Family Tree DNA has become so swamped with testers they are way behind processing results. I know its annoying having to wait a long time for results. It's worth it, however, because they provide tools necessary for evaluating your matches.

Still pounding way at the Owens brickwall. I was thrilled when one of the Y testers allowed me to see their results. The Owens family is R1b which is the most common Y Haplogroup in Europe. Occasionally the common nature of this Haplogroup means the results of a 37 marker test aren't useful for determining a relationship because there are just too many matches. In that case the test would have to keep being upgraded until the number of matches is whittled down to the point where a relationship can be confirmed. I thought my Uncle had rare DNA markers because he only had 22 matches at 37 markers. This Owens tester has only 8 matches at 37 markers. At 12 markers he had 1000 matches. Incredible how increasing the markers decreased the matches by so many. At 67 markers he had only 1 match 4 steps away. The Y test is definitely my favorite.

My Autosomal tests are also fun to work with even if they are more tricky to interpret. The value of the collaboration coming from our Owens match family is incredible! I received a deed spreadsheet for several Indiana counties which has been so helpful! This led to a major breakthrough on the Owens line. My goal at this point is to place my James D. Owens, b. between 1775 and 1785, with his parents. There were two James Owens living in Bracken County, KY at the same time and they are likely cousins. One man is the son of John Owens II and wife Susannah based on Orphans' Court records. The other is likely the son of a David or George, brothers of John II. John II remained in the Pennsylvania/Virginia area until his death. David and George had been based in the Illinois territorial area from the 1780's, one being a Militia Captain the other a Shawnee language interpreter. Their families were early settlers of Clarksville, which is now part of Indiana. After Captain George Owens was burned at the stake in 1789 his wife Charity and children, George and Thomas, fled to Bracken/Mason County, KY. After John II's wife died in 1790 his children migrated from Pennsylvania to Bracken/Mason County, KY where they met up with both Uncle George and Uncle David's families. Some first cousin marriages occurred in Bracken County, KY. between these cousins.

Getting back to the deed record index provided by our DNA match, Owens collaborator, he located an 1803 deed in Clarksville for a James Owens and a Sarah of Bracken County, KY. This would seem to support my theory that James married to Sarah Broshears could be the son of David Owens Sr.. When David Owens Jr. provided the names of Capt. George Owens' children he only named George and Thomas, and no James; so I  lean away from one the Jameses being his son. I haven't found any primary source documentation naming David's children? His children are inferred from circumstantial evidence, plus there seemed to be family knowledge of relationships going several generations back. A John A. H. Owens born 1842 in Clarksville stated his great-grandfather was David Owens Sr..  In the David Owens Jr. affidavit he doesn't state his father is David, but that can be safely inferred as he was the only other Owens in the area at the time. Since we don't have a list of David's children I would place one of our Bracken County, KY Jameses as his possible son. I base this on the new information provided by the Indiana deeds plus the previous information which suggested a close relationship between James Owens and David Owens Jr.,  based on the marriage of the men one day apart in the same church, and the fact they lived in the same location in 1830.

As usual there appears to be more than one James settling in Clarksville during the first half of the 19th Century. One was married to Sarah the other to Mary. The early deeds for Clarksville are apparently in very bad condition. When I called today to ask about getting copies I was told they don't charge for copies because the deeds are so hard to read. This has led to difficulty deciphering the names. There may be a John and Jane witnessing some early deeds? Or is it John and James? That is the question. Could be John and Jane husband and wife or brother and sister? Or could be brothers? I'm ordering a copy of the deeds to see if I can make out the names? If there is a John and Jane that could throw a monkey wrench into my theory because this would suggest a possible additional John Owens in the area, besides the one married to a Sarah. If we have two Johns one may be the son of John II? That would mean some of John II's children joined their cousins not only in Bracken County, KY but also in Clarksville. I theorized that John II's son, John III,  remained in the Pennsylvania /Virginia area because he inherited land from his father. Of course I can't be certain of that because there were two John Owenses in the original ancestral area who were probably first cousins. One of these John's remained in the original ancestral area and the other was no longer around for the 1810 Census. If  John II's son migrated to Clarksville then James married to Sarah is likely the son of John II. More deed research will clear this up.

This 1803 deed does appear to suggest the second James Owens appearing on taxlists beginning in 1804 came from Clarksville. He appears on the 1803 deed selling his land which he had purchased in July 1802 before his marriage to Sarah. I'm not sure where Sarah Broshears and James met? They both had cousins in Clarksville and Bracken County, KY.

HeritageQuest now looks like a clone of; their
1798 Taxlist Greene County, PA
current owner. On March 4th the new look was unveiled. The expanded collections are wonderful. One of the books I found led to a record source I hadn't seen before. This leads back to the strange search results at Ancestry. You would think Ancestry's search would bring up results from all of their collections but it doesn't? After all this time searching for Owens in early Pennsylvania records the 1798 taxlist for Pennsylvania never came up? When I discovered the existence of this taxlist I searched for a copy online and found Ancestry had it. I found a John and David  living in the ancestral area of Greene County, PA. They seem to match what I would expect of John II's children; they owned land and rented some of the properties out. Since there were other Owens families around it's hard to be sure without a description of the property location. As I stated above deeds are key to identifying who remained in the ancestral area and who migrated?

So one of my current goals is to nail down exactly who the early Owens settlers of Clarksville were? Were they only the children of Capt. George Owens and David Owens? Or did some of John II's children head to Clarksville when they came of age to join their Uncle David Owens and cousins? Success with this line of research would either eliminate James married to Sarah as a children of John II and Susannah or confirm that he is their son.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Removing A DNA Kit From Purgatory Plus Throwing Everything At A Brickwall

Owens Segment match

One of my DNA kits got stuck in that new purgatory at AncestryDNA. For non Catholics that's a place between heaven and hell. Any new DNA customers who purchased and activated a kit in a new account (after October 1, 2014) can't see any part of their matches' trees or any of their surname information unless they have a paid account. My cousin's account was stuck in this situation because I made a new account for him and activated the kit there. AncestryDNA is useless without the trees and surname information; unless, you want to contact every match on your match list and ask for their surname information. I was told if I made myself administrator of his account my status as a paying customer with an old DNA account may jog his into displaying the needed information. It didn't work. What did work was inviting him to view MY results. After I did that all of the information previously restricted was now visible. That seems to be a way of removing a kit from that useless purgatory.

A couple weeks ago an Owens distant cousin, who tested at Ancestry, agreed to compare segment information at GEDmatch. Very generous of them because so many matches at Ancestry either don't want to compare there or don't know how. This person shares a 15.5 cM segment with a 3rd cousin on the Owens side (they actually don't match anymore at Ancestry which is a whole other story). This experience demonstrates the many benefits of DNA testing because my 3rd cousin's match has done so much research on our shared line, or I should say a relative of his has. The fact that he matched, and we compared, started a collaboration leading to more discoveries. Most people at Ancestry, and elsewhere on the internet, copy information posted by other people. They don't use primary source documentation to assemble their tree. This has led to the ugly situation we see when we look at Ancestry family trees. Our Owens distant cousin has used primary sources acquired through original document research, and onsite research to assemble his tree. He's discovered information I didn't have until now. I discovered this same person, who matched my 3rd cousin at Ancestry, also matched our family on the Y DNA test at FTDNA.

My Owens research journey began with the 1900 Census, when I was looking for my grandmother Dorothy Mason Kapple's father Fred. I thought I'd find him in Chicago, Illinois where my grandmother was born. Instead I found him with his family in Mattoon, Illinois. I had never heard of that place before in my life (I live in Southern California). Once I found my Great-Grandfather Fred Mason's  parents I was  able to find a posted tree stating that my Great- Great-Grandfather Peter Mason's wife was Mary E. Owens. Some of her siblings were living with the family in 1880. Using their names I was able to trace Mary's family back to William F. Owens, who I found with his daughters on the 1870 Census. Going back even further, using the census and marriage information, I was able trace the family back to Clermont, Ohio. I gained more information about the Owens family from another tree I found posted for Mary E. Owens mother's family (the Hicks family of Clermont, Ohio). This researcher stated that William F. Owens' mother was Francis Owens of Bracken County, Kentucky, which is just across the Ohio river from Clermont, Ohio. A clue that this was probably his mother is the fact that one of his daughters was named Francis, spelled the same way. This was my introduction to the world of naming patterns.

My Great-Great-Great Grandparents William F. Owens and Nancy Hicks were married in Clermont Ohio in 1849. This meant I needed to use something besides the census to trace William's family any farther back. I did look at the censuses before 1850 (which only list heads of household) to see how many Owens' families lived in Bracken county. There were several. Francis Owens was widowed in the 1820's, and because of that was named on every census from 1830 until her death. Through the census I did confirm there was a female Francis Owens who lived in Bracken County, KY at the right time, and of the right age to be William's mother. Knowing all this I searched for a will or probate naming the deceased father and husband. I found a probate record for a James D. Owens naming Francis as his wife. He died in 1824  which was only a few years after William's birth. He didn't leave a will naming his children, and the probate records didn't name them either. I found census records previous to his death and he did have boys, in his household, in the age range of William F. Plus William's eldest son was named James. Also a William Owens was listed as son of James on one tax list when William F. was an adult still living with his likely mother Francis. According to census records for William F. he was born in Kentucky.

I couldn't find a marriage record for a James to a Francis in Bracken County, KY. Only after the Kentucky marriage records were digitized did a permission slip surface for Francis Watkins and James D. Owens in Bracken County, KY. We can infer from this slip that Francis was not yet 18 when she married James D. Owens in 1805. I received a copy of family bible pages which confirmed this fact (the bible had no additional Owens info). She was 15 at the time of her marriage. I ordered tax list microfilms for Bracken County, KY at my local LDS, FHC. Other than a few gaps in the early records they were quite complete. James D. Owens' first confirmed listing on the tax lists was in 1804, confirming that he was over 21 in that year. So in 1805 he didn't need a permission slip to marry (only males under 21 needed such a permission).

Using the Tax lists and census information I tried to establish a connection between my Owens family and the others in the same county, and surrounding counties. In 1850 some of Francis Owens' children were still living with her. I again turned to naming patterns to try to link up with local families. The children still living with her were David V. and Hannah. I found a David Owens on 1797 and 1801 tax lists for Bracken County, KY, but no Williams on early tax lists. I looked for a tree for a David Owens of Bracken County, KY and found one which stated he was from Washington County, PA.  This led me to a book called "The Ten Mile Country". This book gave an in depth biography for this Owens family. They descended from an Indian Trader named John Owens, we call John I. The author also stated several members of John Owens II (son of I) and wife Susannah's family migrated to Bracken County, Kentucky after their deaths. James' likely daughter Hannah lived into the early 1900's, and stated her father was born in Pennsylvania, according to the census.

Armed with the names of John and Susannah's children I was able to go back to the tax lists and census information and attempt to sort out the Owens families in Bracken County. The children's names listed in the Washington County, PA probate records were David, John, George, Vincent, James, and Mary. Another daughter, Sarah Gragston, was said to have shared in the estate, but I have not located that document myself? Looking at the names I wondered whether James D. Owen's son David V. was David Vincent? The V may also have represented Francis' maiden name. I later discovered that her maiden name was Watkins, so I can rule that out.

1804 Tax list
The tax information seemed to confirm what was found in "The Ten Mile Country" book. There were indeed males by the names of David, George, and James on late 18th, and early 19th century tax lists, and the 1810 census for Bracken County, KY. David being the first to show up in 1797 disappears, and reappears in 1801. In 1799 we see a James and George for the first time. By 1804 we have 2 Jameses, 2 Georges, and 2 Thomases. I had no idea how the Thomases fit in? As time passed more unrelated Owens families show up in Bracken County, KY. Most had completely different naming patterns.

With two James Owenses living in Bracken County, KY around the same time I needed to determine which one descended from John Owens and Susannah? I was able to determine they were both roughly the same age. To set them apart the county record keepers sometimes referred to one of the men as Senior and the other Junior. Using a land record, collected by a distant cousin, I was able to establish my James was referred to as Junior. Fanny was named on this deed. If the two Jameses were listed with their wives I could distinguish them, aside from the Jr. and Sr.. Later record keepers began using a the middle initial D., for my ancestor, to distinguish them apart. Another way I can tell them apart on the land records is when the creek and river names are used. James D. Owens Jr.. lived on the Ohio river, and James Owens Sr. lived on Turtle Creek.

Looking for trees for these men I quickly discovered someone had claimed James Owens Sr. married to Sally Broshears was John and Susannah's son. I could find no actual documentation for this. I could definitely see a likelihood this could be correct. The fact that James D. seems to  turn up in 1804, based on the tax lists, would suggest he is from a different family.  What led me to believe this is  James Sr. marries in Bracken County, KY in 1803. Ergo he must be the James listed with brothers David and George in 1801. Plus David and James Sr. marry a day apart in May 1803. James Sr. and Sally Broshears initially appeared to be 1st cousins. Many researchers listed her mother, Hannah, as John Owens I's daughter. Later I found out there was a power of attorney, filed by Hannah (Owens) Broshears' husband Thomas, giving a James Owens the right to sue the estate of the late John Owens II of Washington County, PA on behalf of his wife. This would suggest Hannah is a daughter of James Owens II, since only his children were entitled to anything from his estate. John and Susannah's daughter Mary, who was listed as minor in 1790, joined this 1806 suit. This changed my opinion about who the son of James and Susannah might be. He could actually be my James D.?

If Sarah (Broshears) Owens was the biological daughter of Hannah, James would be her Uncle. I needed to establish whether Sarah was Hannah's biological daughter. Sarah is a bit older than Hannah's other children so she may be from another marriage of Thomas Broshears. Unfortunately Pennsylvania didn't keep early marriage records and no record of any marriage for Hannah and Thomas exists, nor a marriage between Thomas and anyone else. It's difficult to establish Hannah's birth year but she appears to have been born in the 1760,s, based on available censuses dating to the year 1820. It appears her daughter, or stepdaughter, was born around the mid 1780's based on census data to 1830. It also appears that Hannah was married before 1790 since she wasn't listed as a minor child in 1790. Hannah's last child was born in 1807; narrowing her age range a little more. So Sarah could be her daughter, but I can find no conclusive evidence to prove this.

This all leads to the question if Sarah Broshears was a step-niece, to James Sr., would such a marriage have been legal in 1803? In some cases, at certain points in time, such marriages were illegal even if there was no blood relationship. This is called an affinal relationship.  I could find no law against such a marriage in Kentucky at this time.

Looking at records in which Thomas Broshears names his son-in-law, James Owens Sr., he states he is his son-in-law. The power of attorney, for the suit against the John Owens II estate, doesn't state this James Owens was his son-in-law. We know my James D. Owens was acquainted with the Broshears family because Thomas purchased something from James D.'s estate sale. In 1805 Thomas and Hannah enter into an indenture with James Owens Jr. which provides even more support for a relationship between them. The power of attorney Mary provides states James is a "trusty friend". My first impression when I saw this was he couldn't be her brother. I discovered that "trusty friend" could be a brother. This term just means I appoint this person as my representative.

After completing much of the research above, many years later, in 2012 I discovered a distant cousin of mine matched several descendants of John Owens I, the Indian Trader. This doesn't mean I'm guaranteed to be directly descended from him, but does confirm our family is related. Since the surname Owens is so common Y DNA testing is necessary to separate unrelated families.

Charity signs son's permission
Coming back to our recent Ancestry DNA match looking at this family's research I noticed they placed David Owens, who married the day before James Owens Sr. and Sarah Broshears, as the son of David, grandson of John I. I had him placed as son of John Owens II and Susannah.. The former makes sense because we have a David Owens, of Indiana, giving testimony in the 1840's regarding another of John Owens I's sons Capt. George Owens. In his testimony David Jr. stated that he was the son of David, and Capt. George was his half Uncle. David had migrated with his wife Polly Miranda to Indiana from Bracken County, KY.

Capt. George Owens had first settled in the Jeffersonville/Clarksville area in 1780, as a Captain of the Militia guarding the area. His brother David joins him in the Spring of 1782. I learned that Capt. George had sons named George and Thomas who were the additional men, by those names, found in marriage records, and tax lists in Bracken County, KY. This has been confirmed using marriage records and David's testimony. David stated Capt. George's wife was named Charity, in his testimony. We find a Charity Owens on a Mason, Kentucky tax list in 1792, plus mentioned in Mason County, KY marriage records. In neighboring Bracken County, KY we find her giving her son Thomas permission to marry in 1801. This provides identification for one of the Thomases found in early Bracken county, KY records. Capt. George Owens was burned at the stake in 1789 and the family relocated to the Bracken County, KY area. A Davy Owens appears on a tax list for Mason County, KY in 1790. This may be Capt. George's brother David? He may have joined Charity Owens in Bracken County, KY, but aged out of the tax lists or received some sort of exemption?

We also find James II's daughter Sarah marrying Richard Gragston in 1791 Mason County, KY. This seems to confirm her as John II and Susannah's daughter, because an Isaac Gray was the surety for the marriage bond. A David Gray was appointed guardian for her brother John in Orphans court records.

Now we have several branches of John Owens I's family in the Mason and Bracken County, KY area at the same time. Both John III and his brother David Owens, sons of John II, inherited land from their father in Pennsylvania and Virginia, so likely never migrated anywhere. The remaining children of John II and Susannah, inheriting no land, migrated to Kentucky.

Can we tell who belongs to which branch of the family, and when they arrived in the area based on tax lists? As can be seen with early tax records in Bracken County, KY men seem to slip on and off the lists from year to year. They may be exempt due to military service, age, and financial circumstances. Men who look young can claim to be under 21, and avoid taxes for several years. With regards to the Owens family we know they tended to bounce around because of military service. The tax records are helpful, but these men could appear and disappear from the lists and still be in the area. We can't draw too many conclusions based on the lists. We can be reasonably certain that men on the lists are over 21, however, because no one wants to pay taxes unless they are required to. I found a Forgey relation on a delinquent tax list. So if you can't find them on a tax list they may be on a delinquent tax list.

After James Owens Sr.'s mother-in-law, Hannah (Owens) Broshears, dies he and wife Sarah (Broshears) Owens join David and Polly (Miranda) Owens in Washington County, IN, in the mid 1820's. Does this suggest this is his brother? Or is this his cousin? The fact that James Sr. could be an Uncle or Step-Uncle of Sarah, and he is very close to David, son of David, suggests to me that James Sr. may actually also be a son of the same David?

More research will be needed to confirm my James D. Owens was the son of John II and Susannah beyond a doubt. I need to see the 1806 court case in Pennsylvania. A case no one has located yet. Court and land records need to be consulted in Pennsylvania in hopes of accurately identifying which James is the son of John II and Susannah Owens. We will continue looking at DNA results in hopes of further supporting my family's relationship to John Owens I the Indian trader.

If you don't have time to read the long story above here is a short synopsis I made using Treelines:

David Owens Jr. Testimony

George Owens son of Capt. George Owens still alive in 1850

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

RootsTech 2015

RootsMapper uses your Family Search Tree to map Ancestral locations.

I enjoyed watching the live feed from RootsTech 2015, as usual, this year. I appreciate Family Search making this available to us for free. The keynote speeches this year didn't appeal to me as much as in previous years. I would like to hear more about tech or genetic genealogy during the keynote presentations. I enjoyed Donny Osmond's presentation. I know he, and his family, have been actively involved in researching their family history. I'm sorry an episode of a Welsh show called "Coming Home" is no longer available at Youtube. Donny Osmond was featured in a show episode where his family history in Wales was presented to him. They unrolled a long family history pedigree chart for him at one point; he seemed genuinely moved. I enjoyed his upbeat, energetic presentation at RootsTech.

The "Innovator Summit Challenge Event" was interesting. The second place winner was my favorite. It allows searches on handwritten pages even in foreign languages. This would allow searching without indexing, it's called "ArgusSearch". I personally have zero interest in the event winner "Story Worth". I might use the 3rd place winner sometime? It's called "GenMarketplace". You post a problem and researchers bid to solve it.

Any technology that helps me  Systematize and Analyze my research is what I want to know more about. The streamed sessions, at RootsTech, which appealed to me the most were:

  1. 30 Pieces of Tech I Can't Live Without Favorite website shared in this presentation ArchiveGrid which allows you to search archives for family information.
  2. Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox The best link from this presentation was Wolfram Alpha helps calculate relationships and provides other kinds of data computation. Good for nicknames.
  3. Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy Great for those starting out in Genetic Genealogy, I enjoyed it also.
  4. What's New at FamilySearch I thought this was an interesting presentation. I will continue to attach information to their tree but I'm hoping it's not a complete waste of time? Their are so many duplicates that need fixing I'm hoping my attached info doesn't get thrown out when merging occurs. The ability to search all of the trees for photos and other special content is nice. The best links to come out of the presentation were: "RootsMapper" my favorite toy from this year's RootsTech. "Find-A-Record" is another partner of Family Search with an app. for finding possible documentation for your family tree. It also spots problems on your Family Search tree. The problems found are so massive it would be a full time job for months to fix them (it's about as massive as tearing my house down and rebuilding in my case).
You can watch some of the previously streamed sessions here.

My dream app. would be a page like the old iGoogle which would display messages from all sites, with messaging, including It would also display all of my DNA matches as they come in, and allow me to click to view their surnames. I would also like to see blogs like GeneaWebinars display their content directly on the same page. A list of new record content from all of the research sites would be great to see on the same page too. Genetic Genealogy is the future and RootsTech needs to focus on this area even more. We need help understanding how to use our results and integrate them with our traditional research. We need more apps. for genetic genealogy and I hope future innovators address our needs.

I personally need an app. that cuts my internet connection after a certain number of hours, or at a certain time in the evening. Time to cut myself off and do come grocery shopping. Bye for now.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The McDonald's Of DNA Does It Again!

You can stop researching your family tree AncestryDNA has made it unnecessary. Just take their DNA test and they'll find your ancestors for you. They may not be the correct ancestors, but you can't have everything. Where did I learn of this latest innovation? You can read more about the announcement here.

"Building on DNA Circles, in 2015 we will launch a new experience that will use the latest genetic technology to discover new ancestors without the customer having to search records or build a family tree. This new feature will transform how family history research is done by providing valuable hints to help experienced genealogist looking to break through brick walls, as well as open family history to a whole new segment of the population. Through this new experience, AncestryDNA customers will be able to discover new ancestors as far back as the 1700's by connecting into existing DNA Circles."

Sounds like a dream come true for those uninterested in doing research? It is just a dream. You can't avoid the research process. AncestryDNA cannot manufacture a tree for you using DNA alone. There are some wonderful trees attached to DNA results which can produce accurate Circles. In other cases, for instance, many people have the wrong ancestral information copied from old published genealogies. Those trees will contribute to inaccurate Circles. I'm not saying the Circles are a bad idea. I think they are a good idea if used properly; as hints only. Although they will never replace segment information for confirming matches.

If you don't read the latest Ancestry press release carefully you may miss the fact that Ancestry is only providing hints. In their first sentence, describing the Circles, they state a customer can discover ancestors without doing research or building a tree. If you read further it says they are providing hints. This contradicts their first statement and suggests research is required. A few people were misled yesterday believing Ancestry could now correct all the bad trees on their site. That would be great, but is impossible at this point in time.

The DNA testing companies are going to accentuate the positive when trying to sell their product. That's understandable. They shouldn't be grossly misleading however. The founder of Family Tree DNA has been openly critical over claims about what some say autosomal DNA can do. He has integrity. I would like to see AncestryDNA continue to grow their database in a way demonstrating they have some integrity. Many people walk away, after spending $110, dissatisfied with the results they receive. This happens when people don't understand what they are buying. This happens most often at AncestryDNA because they over state the accuracy of their product.

I have to say I get a kick out of the ridiculous statements that seem to pour out of If they made reasonable statements about their product I would miss the comic relief. I wouldn't fall off my chair laughing anymore. On the other hand, I hate to see people spend money expecting to get one thing; but, instead walk away with something they aren't happy with.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

AncestryDNA Sells 100,000 Kits In December 2014 And Comparing Cousins Results reported their 4th quarter earnings, and year end earning results, on February 3rd ( you can listen to the full report here).  I guess the AncestryDNA boycott hasn't caught on yet because they sold 100,000 kits in December of 2014 alone; that's double what they sold in the same month last year which was around 50,000 kits. Most of these kits, I suspect, were purchased by the Millennial generation who are interested in the Ethnicity results. This seems to be reflected in the Ancestry subscription numbers which are declining instead of growing. Ancestry lost 25,000 subscribers in 2014. I'm not sure whether adding a subscription requirement to see your matches' surnames will increase subscriptions? The young people testing for ethnicity don't seem interested in looking at match information. I had planned on subscribing to the trees using the "Ancestral Insights" subscription. That was before they instituted the new subscription requirement for new accounts. I don't like to be coerced into buying a subscription so I'm thinking that purchase over now.

Revenues are up for in the 4th quarter. Losses are down compared to a year ago. There were some great sales last year apparently due to slowing sales. With such incredibly high kit sales recently I don't expect to see another sale, at least until they process all the kits purchased in late 2014. AncestryDNA is driving revenue growth at Ancestry. AncestryDNA will be expanding into Germany and Mexico this year.

Sounds like more novelty features will be added to the AncestryDNA product. Maybe a Neanderthal prediction? As I understand it these new features will not include the sharing of segment information. An interesting blog post was published this week about the DNA Circles and their weakness as a tool for determining how you are related to matches. The post  Anatomy of a DNA Circle explains the problems faced when drawing conclusions based on Circles. When I contact matches at AncestryDNA, sadly, most don't understand the benefits of triangulation with DNA matches. AncestryDNA misleads their testers into believing they don't need to do anything except attach a tree.

Like so many genetic genealogists I've been trying to figure out possible cousin relationships based on the amount of shared DNA. My Mom was born in Granada, Nicaragua to Charles Lynn Forgey, a US Marine based in Nicaragua, and his Nicaraguan wife Graciela Del Castillo. My mother was 4 years old when she came to the US. I have very little information about my Nicaraguan family. Luckily the civil registration records for Managua, Nicaragua are online. Unfortunately the records for Granada, Nicaragua aren't, and that's where most of my ancestors lived. I've been examining my Mom's Nicaraguan matches at AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA. I had been contacted, a couple weeks ago, by a distant cousin whose Aunt matched my Mom at AncestryDNA. She is a "Very High" confidence match for my Mom, and my family was acquainted with her great-grandfather Francisco who lived not far away from my family here in Southern California. AncestryDNA predicts they are 3rd to 6th cousins. Her 2nd cousin, on her only Nicaraguan line, also matches my Mom at FTDNA. Her 2nd cousin doesn't match my Mom as closely however. He is a 5th cousin remote sharing an 11 cM segment. Looking at both of these predictions, plus the fact our families were acquainted with each other, I'm guessing 4th cousin? Don't know if I will ever be able to confirm that? If the Granada records still exist, and go back far enough, I may be able to discover our exact relationship..

I've been analyzing my cousin Darryl's results. These comparisons, again, highlight the fact it's nearly impossible to predict relationships past the 2nd cousin degree of relationship. The first chromosome chart compares him with his Aunt Loretta. He shares 1704 cM's total with her. The longest segment is 162 cMs. My mother and her niece share 1769 cMs. Longest segment is 156 cMs. Generally those who share this degree of relationship share between 1500-2000 cMs. (got most of the cM averages from this ISOGG page here)

Aunt Loretta and Nephew Darryl

A comparison of Darryl and I. We are first cousins. We share 1074 cMs. Our longest segment is 156 cMs. I share 1041.81, total cMs, with another first cousin. And the longest segment is 75 cMs. First cousins generally share 548-1139 cMs. 
First Cousins Darryl and Annette
Moving on to a third Cousin to Darryl. He shares only 27 cM's with our  third cousin; the longest is 16 cMs. Vastly smaller share than his Aunt Loretta and I. I share a total of 149 cMs with our third cousin. The largest segment is 69 cMs. Aunt Loretta share 182 cMs with the largest segment being 88 cMs. Third cousins generally share 16-111 cMs,  I believe my Aunt would be a 2nd cousin 1x removed from this cousin. Second cousins once removed generally share 19-197 cMs.
Comparing between 2nd cousin 1x removed and 3rd cousins

Darryl's 3rd cousin 1x removed shares 35 cMs and the largest segment is 14.9.  I share 91.5 cMs and the longest segment is 32 cMs. Our Aunt Loretta shares 65 cMs the largest segment being 37.9. I share more DNA than my Aunt and cousin with this match. The average 3rd cousin 1x removed shares 0-99 cMs.
3rd cousins 1x removed and 3rd cousin

Darryl shares DNA in the same place on chromosome 1 as a 5th cousin on our Melvin line. We have great triangulation with this Melvin match. Again Darryl's segment is smaller at 7 cMs but is in the same location. The rest of us share about 15 cM segments in the same place.

4th and 5th cousins to Melvin match

Apparently Darryl's father, Thomas Kapple, inherited some segments from his father that my father, Robert Kapple, did not get. We don't know which line or lines of our Burgenland family this DNA was inherited from? This match shares the surnames Jost, Kurta, and Koppel. Since my Aunt inherited half of her DNA from her father I would have thought she would have inherited the longer segment. Instead her nephew Darryl shares the large 32.5 cM segment, and Aunt Loretta shares an 11.8 cM segment in the same place.
Unknown relationship with several possibilities

Sunday, February 1, 2015

AncestryDNA Non Subscription Accounts Downgraded Plus People Behind The Segments

I wrote last week that AncestryDNA now requires a $49 annual subscription to review matches for non subscribers. It's been very difficult to get specific details about this new requirement. After basically insisting on getting answers, I with the help of others, was finally able to get more details. October 1, 2014 is when this change took affect. If you purchased a kit before this date your account is considered an "old account", and you can still see partial trees, surnames and maps. Future kits activated in old accounts also have access to the old features. The "new accounts" (those who purchased kits after October 1, 2014) now require a subscription to view any part of a match's trees, or surnames. In the past AncestryDNA representatives said the DNA portion of the Ancestry site would be maintained as a standalone product which would not require a subscription? (See an explanation of the changes below, and a video about what was available to non subscribers before and what non subscribers see now when they click on matches, see above.)

Another problem I have with AncestryDNA's decision, to require a subscription, is that you can build and access your own tree at Ancestry without maintaining a subscription. They allow you to add value to Ancestry's site with your research, pictures and documents but won't allow you to use your tree to make connections if you are a non subscriber. The DNA tests aren't free and generally cost $110. I don't see why new non subscribers can't see what the old non subscribers can see? If a non subscriber attaches a tree to their results their matches can use it if they are subscribers, but the non subscriber can't. Unfair. I've removed my trees from my own results.
 Ancestry has had a rough start in this first month of the New Year. Their Chief Product Officer is leaving at the end of this month. They are now offering their DNA product for sale in the UK. Apparently the price is higher there than in the US, which isn't going down well with some people. Some records recently added to the site didn't have any source information. When someone asked for a source citation they were told they couldn't provide one for contractual reasons. They did later offer a partial citation. I've been doing more research at the Ancestry site than usual the last few days. I've noticed the same problems others have reported; the search at Ancestry doesn't always find everything searched for. I've gotten some results that took me to the wrong page. I don't always get the same results with the same search? When the settings are set to show like matches this feature also fails to find some like matches that should be included. I've been using MyHeritage this week and find their search is the best available. I'm finding things using their search that are not coming up with any other search. The problem with MyHeritage is that you have to pay see the results of your search and the results are generally located on free sites.

On the positive side Ancestry's President and Chief Executive Officer, Tim Sullivan stated, at the "Personalized Medicine World Conference 2015",  they now have 700,000 people in their database. They are now beginning to move in a direction which may eventually lead them to provide health results to testers in the future. A new app was talked about at the conference which allows users keep a record of their health history. He stated that DNA was the "core to company mission." The importance of the DNA product at Ancestry, I believe, will lead them to release segment information at some point. I think once new testers become more familiar with what the segment information can do for them they'll start demanding this information.

There are many interesting stories behind our DNA matches. Many DNA testers test to solve a family mystery. Their stories are often fascinating. I love mystery novels, so I love hearing about how people use DNA and genealogy to solve long standing family mysteries. The Genealogy Roadshow highlights and helps solve family mysteries which makes this show so fascinating. A distant cousin contacted me this week and his story reminded of some of the stories featured on the Roadshow. A relative of his matched my Mom at a "Very High" match confidence level at AncestryDNA. This cousin's Great-grandmother met a Nicaraguan cousin of mine in the 1920's. He owned and operated a dance studio in Nevada. She had a whirlwind romance with him and they eloped. This was a short lived marriage probably owing to huge cultural differences. One party being Latin and the other Anglo, one Mormon and the other Catholic, which would have been huge differences in the 1920's. This distant cousin seems to have been a ladies man having affairs with women in many states. He didn't provide his true identity to his Reno wife. This family has had to do some research to find out his true name and learn more about their family. More research is needed to find out exactly what happened to him, and his true family's identity. This would make a great story for The Genealogy Roadshow.

I have spent a lot of time writing about AncestryDNA, mainly because of all of the changes they've made. Some people think DNA testing is a team support. As Leo Leporte often says people who own smart phones think they belong to a team. "I'm team Android, I'm team IPhone." DNA testing isn't a team support either. All of the companies provide nearly the same quality results with a few exceptions (some provide better tools for reviewing matches).  I would recommend testing with all the companies if you can afford it. I might have a fit of pique with these companies from time to time, but they all provide matches that help with my genealogy. I don't think there will be much more to say about AncestryDNA for a while at least. I'm curious about their performance in the 4th quarter. We'll find out on the 3rd when they release the 4th quarter financial report. Otherwise it's time to move on and evaluate some new matches.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bait-And-Switch At AncestryDNA

Correction: the requirement for a subscription only applies to new tests after last fall's changes. You will get the screen shown on the right if you recently tested and try to access trees. You will be required to pay at least $49 a year to see any portion of a tree.

I was absolutely blown away yesterday when my cousin's DNA results came back and we couldn't even view partial trees for his matches. I set up a free account for him. In the past you could view the first 7 generations of a match's pedigree without subscribing. You could even see more if you clicked on the names. Now you can't see anything without subscribing. I think this is highly unethical. When I bought my kit I understood that I would be able to see at least a partial tree without paying a dollar more. This test has suddenly become the most expensive test offered by any company. Without the trees the test is useless, other than getting the highly controversial ethnic results, there would be no reason to use their test. If you maintain the minimum subscription of $49 to see the trees the test would end up costing you more than $500 over 10 years. I would rather use that money traveling to ancestral locations. The test results, which are often changed for the worse, the glitches, and no segment information in the AncestryDNA database mean this test is absolutely not worth that amount of money.

After learning about this bait-and-switch move by AncestryDNA I've decided I will eventually make my tree private. If Ancestry decides to make viewing partial trees free again I will unlock my tree. A number of people have linked to my tree so I will have to invite them to my private tree.

So now when you buy an AncestryDNA kit for someone as a gift they will be required to maintain some kind of subscription to continue to see the trees. A gift that keeps on taking?

In my last blog I shared the fact that a 3rd cousin 1x removed disappeared from my Mom's match list. It seems she purchased a test for another relative, and that relative now matches my Mom at the Extremely High Confidence level. Their result came in yesterday. This person appears to be a 2nd cousin 1x removed to my Mom. I will contact this match and see if she would be willing to compare at GEDmatch. I have a feeling they both share large segments.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Which DNA Company Has The Best Matching System?

I am now finally able to evaluate the new matching system, at AncestryDNA, which uses the Timber filter to eliminate supposedly IBS segments. I was quite shocked to find a 3rd cousin 1x removed, who was a 95% confidence level match, now missing from my Mom's match list. This match is in a Circle with us and definitely isn't considered a match anymore.  A cousin lost a total of 8 matches who were previously 95% confidence level matches, which no longer match at all.

Now that I have this comparison information I can evaluate the 3 companies I have experience with i.e: Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA, and 23andMe.
  1. 23andMe's system appears to be the best. Their matching procedure isn't as rigid as the others, which may result in false matches,  but I believe they have a good confidence rating system which should provide enough guidance when it comes to establishing the likelihood that you are actually related.
  2. Family Tree DNA uses IBS small segments to determine matches. This sort of rating system can cause good matches to be lost.
  3. I rate AncestryDNA well below the others when it comes to matching. They phase results and now use a Timber filter to determine IBS segments. AncestryDNA processes as many as 30,000 kits a month. I believe the extra processing they do with the kits affects the accuracy of their match results. They claim their processes have a low error rate. I personally think the error rate is higher than they claim. Their computer system is full of glitches which may also affect the match results? Both my Mom and I lost 3 previously 95% confidence matches ( one was a 3rd cousin 1x removed). A third cousin of mine lost 8 matches in the previously 95% confidence level. After phasing these matches looked strong, the Timber filter eliminated them completely. Timber also pushed a few 95% confidence matches into the Extremely High confidence level. A couple of these matches have extensive trees going back 8 generations. I can't find a common ancestor or even common places with them?
I have to say I was sold on phasing after listening to AncestryDNA representatives talk about it. I believe it works well on a small scale, with more quality control than is  possible when working with a high volume of kits.

I think it would be best if all of the companies would use the same match criteria as 23andMe, which is at least one segment which is 7 cMs and 700 SNPs. 23andMe sets a cap on the number of matches to avoid the problem AncestryDNA had with massive numbers of matches. I think the cap is a better idea than trying to filter out IBS segments and in the process losing good matches. is more of an entertainment site rather than a serious genealogy site. A great blog post explaining the pitfalls of this approach was published this week "Ignorance is Bliss at AncestryDNA". I would still test with them; it's just important to realize their match procedure and confidence levels are flawed. I probably lost half a dozen matches I felt were likely true matches at AncestryDNA when the Timber filter was used. That's not a good thing, but I can live with that because the trees are so helpful.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

DNA News of the Week: 23andMe Digs Out Of Hole & No Chromosome Browser at AncestryDNA

My first Exam for a Udemy Genetics course

News out of the "Association of Professional Genealogists’ Professional Management " conference in Salt Lake City, from a blog post by the "The Legal Genealogist", AncestryDNA will not have a chromosome browser and that's final ( unless there is a management change at some point). I would never pay $99 for the test without the chromosome browser. I believe it's worth $49. Ancestry's DNA business is the only thing driving new subscriptions at this point. I feel like this will help to keep Ancestry afloat for a while. Long term I think sales will slow down. Ancestry's database subscriptions are too expensive to maintain for years on end. You only save money if you subscribe to them for a limited time. If Ancestry had images of Deeds I would definitely maintain a subscription longer. I will have to cancel my monthly subscription soon. I just have too many other financial obligations to continue. I'm going a spending diet for a while.

23andMe announced a deal with big pharma to examine the role of genetics in the Parkinson's disease process. It's a $10 million deal. I have no problem with 23andMe's use of customer information for research purposes. I believe everyone testing with them is aware that their primary goal is to collect DNA and use it to help customers understand health risk factors they may have, and compile customers' health survey information to find common genetic characteristics of people with certain diseases.

Listening to a Youtube video presentation by 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki did bring up some good points. She was asked shouldn't the testers be paid for their contribution instead of the other way around? I don't know about offering free tests. I think that would be highly unlikely. I think $30 would be a fair price for the kind of information 23andMe offers, plus the fact they are profiting form the results. I'm considering testing with them but feel $99 is too much considering the results are still subject to debate. I was shocked when I read, in the "Time" article, that the number of testers dropped by half after the FDA suspended the health portion of the test. I think a drop in price would help to rebuild their database. Testing with 23andMe for genealogy purposes has been helpful for some people. My particular family doesn't seem to be well represented in their database judging by my cousin's results.

ISOGG updated their identical by descent information. I think the phasing that AncestryDNA does is helpful in weeding out IBS segments, as stated by ISOGG, even though it's not perfect. However I'm skeptical of their approach when it comes to filtering pile up matches. Reading "How Phasing Works and Determining IBD Versus IBS Matches" blog post at the "DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy" blog it sounds like what defines a "pile up" is variable. As few as 25 people sharing DNA in the same place may be considered a "pile up". So someone sharing 24 matches in the same place on a segment wouldn't be a "pile up"? I'm wondering exactly what the arbitrary cut offs really are? It seems ridiculous.

I'm taking a Udemy Intro to Genetic Genealogy course. It's very interesting so far. Got 100% on my first examine. I love the ancient theory of preformationism. The idea that there are little preformed bodies in sperm is so funny.

We got a new match at Family Tree DNA this week. This is a predicted 2nd to 4th cousin for my Mom. I found a dozen people triangulating on segments shared with this match, which I believe may be related to our Browning line. If I verify this it would cut my list of unidentified matches at Family Tree DNA by around 12. I know that at least one match shares the same Browning line with my Mom and I. Several members of the same family tested with Family Tree DNA, and they share the same Browning match with us. I was thinking they shared this same family line hundreds of years ago. Now I'm thinking it may have been more recently as the 2nd to 4th cousin prediction would suggest. I noticed their Combs line lived in Lawrence County, IN  and Monroe County, IN where some of our Browning relatives settled.

My cousin's AncestryDNA kit is being processed now. Hopefully we'll see results in a couple weeks?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Year in Genetic Genealogy: Looking Backward And Looking Forward

Family Tree DNA myOrigins was introduced this year

Happy New Year 2015!

We began the year 2014 with a push to grow our Forgey/Forgy & Forgie Y DNA project. We did grow it by several additional members. We added two additional men to the main grouping, and three are now outside the most common Y haplo group. We need to solve two of these NPE's. Hoping an autosomal test will show a female line of descent for one of these lines?

My Mom and I tested with AncestryDNA this year. I tested in March and my Mom in July. I've found a couple dozen matches through Ancestry. I had a few taken away recently with their new pile up elimination filter. It's going to take a few years before we know how accurate Ancestry's methods really are.

My Aunt Loretta tested with Family Tree DNA. Their new myOrigins ethnicity estimate was very far off for her. The estimates for my Mom and I are closer to correct.

My DNA Personal Highlights 2014:

  1. My Aunt matched an Owens descendant through the George Owens line.
  2. Confirmed a 3rd cousin once removed in my Owens' line. No breaks in our Owens line to William F. Owens b. abt. 1820 & Nancy Hicks.
  3. We triangulated with a Melvin match. Feel confident about our blood relationship to that line now. That takes the confirmed Hicks/Melvin line back to John Melvin b. abt. 1776.
  4. I match a couple of Scrouf descendants and Darrell matches one. If this is a true DNA match it would take us back to John Owens b. abt. 1730.
  5. We confirmed Archibald Forgey is related to everyone else in the common Haplo Forgey/Forgy & Forgie grouping at Family Tree DNA. I also confirmed that my own family had a rare mutation on a slow moving marker that the Archibald line doesn't share.
  6. I found out our Thurman line is descended through a Richard Thurman and Sarah. The Y haplo for this line is the Viking Haplo I-M253.
  7. We still have a Forgey/Roller AncestryDNA match who is a 1st cousin once removed to Archibald Forgey's descendant Christy. Nan, her brother , and Aunt are also matches on the same line.
  8. Another important remaining match at AncestryDNA is with a Descendant of John Forgey son of Andrew Forgey and Margaret Reynolds. This is a very strong match for my Mom. This would confirm the Forgey line back to Andrew Forgey b. 1732 and Margaret Reynolds b. 1741. It's difficult to evaluate the validity to this match at AncestryDNA without seeing the shared segment.
  9. We have a different Samuel Forgy b. 1726 match now (lost a previous one). This seems to point to a relationship at around 7 or 8 generations.
  10. We've had several Moses Wray descendants match at both AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA. I feel this line is confirmed back to Moses Wray b. abt. 1725 and Elizabeth Morris. We've had some Morris matches also, one additional generation back.
  11. I was able to identify a close match that was a mystery for a couple of years. She descends from Mary Magdalene Roller.
  12. We may have matches with a couple of Francis Browning b. 1672 descendants? I believe only my Mom matches these descendants? Her reach is much farther back than mine.
Looking forward to some new AncestryDNA results in the New Year. My 1st cousin on my father's side, Darryl, is testing and a 6th cousin, Forgey line, is testing right now. My cousin Judy is also considering testing and would be able to compare with our Aunt, Darryl and I.  I would like to see a Huvane line cousin test. So far that line is not represented at Family Tree DNA or Ancestry. I would also like to see an Owens male in my line test to at least 37 markers on the Y test. Right now we only have one in my line testing at 25 markers. I will also look into having another Forgey male tested. I'm hoping someone who stated he was previously interested, is still interested?

What I will be keeping my eye on, from this point, is ethnicity estimates and brickwall related matches. Campbell, Owens, Forgey, Browning and Urmey are the names I'm focusing my DNA research on. I'm hoping the AncestryDNA Circles are fixed and expanded to make them more useful.

On a non genetic genealogy note, it was nice to find the marriage date and place for my Kapple grandparents. They had divorced and the date, and place, of their marriage had been forgotten. Found some new family picture posted to trees at Hope to find more pics posted this year.

Our collective Year In Genetic Genealogy and the Year to Come:

New episodes of "Who Do You Think You Are?" are due out early this year (beginning February 24). According to the ratings for the last season of this show were down from the previous season. Ancestry also said the CNN special about their anchors' family history stories was very successful. Ancestry also felt the last season of PBS's "Finding Your Roots" was a good investment for them. Expect to see more Ancestry commercials on FOX in the New Year. The FOX audience is a key demographic for them. I'm wondering if the DNA test sales will slow at some point? If they lower the price I believe their sales will continue growing. At the current $100 price I've found most average people aren't interested in testing. When they've had their $49 sales they've had blowout months. AncestryDNA is expanding their testing service outside the US this year, which will bolster sales this year.

We had some wonderful learning opportunities online this year. Spencer Wells gave a fascinating keynote speech early last year at "Roots Tech". Jamboree featured some great DNA presentations. One of the best was "The Future of Genetic Genealogy" presented by the founder of Family Tree DNA Bennett Greenspan (full sequencing and IDing rare SNPs is the future). The International Genetic Genealogy conference (I4GG) also offered presentations online and was, and is, another great opportunity learning. These presentations are still available for purchase. Family Tree DNA and Ancestry also offered several webinars, and livestreams, regarding DNA and interpreting their products. 23andme offered a couple of live hangouts which were also very interesting. Several conferences in the British Isles also featured DNA presentations which are still available for viewing at Youtube. I found these presentations excellent.

I've learned so much from the Facebook group International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) this year. This group is such a good place to keep up with current news about genetic genealogy. You can also ask questions. Sometimes flash DNA sales are announced here. You have to be quick to cash in on some of these sales, as we found out, because they can end as quickly as they are announced.

I'll be listening to "Roots Tech" presentations available online in February. I think it's a mistake to have former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter, Jenna, speak. This should be a non political event. Introducing politics will just cause hostility. What happened to the tech part of "Roots Tech" anyway? The speakers should have some involvement with the Tech community, or at least genealogy.

23andMe and MyHeritage will be collaborating in the new year. If 23andMe gets the green light to resume presenting medical results their database will grow faster again.

AncestryDNA seems to be moving in the direction of reconstructing ancestral genomes, hence the new Circles centered around specific ancestors. This could be a difficult undertaking because of serious errors in some of the Ancestry trees. Many people just copy information from other trees. Everyone in a circle may have information from the same wrong tree. Everyone in a Circle may be related, but not in the way they expected? They may have misidentified their common ancestor. The results of Ancestry's first attempt at this kind of ancestral genome reconstruction were released late this year.

2014 has been an incredible watershed year in genetic genealogy. We'll see if it can be topped in future years?

Family Tree DNA introduced a new tree interface this year