Sunday, August 2, 2015

Using Public Matches From 23andMe To Map Segments

After receiving my 23andMe results I noticed some of my matches were listed as public. I assumed this meant I could see our matching segments without asking? I was wondering where their information was located? I didn't see it in Family Inheritance Advanced. After my Countries of Ancestry information became available, a couple weeks after I received my results, I noticed you could download a spreadsheet with your matches' segment information. This information seems to be from public matches? Some of those listed on the spreadsheet are listed by first and last name. Others are anonymous. Those listed with names, and those who are anonymous, all have some information about their family's countries of origin. So the info can be useful even if there are no names attached. You can get an idea of ethnic origins of the segments. I found that I could use the chromosome start and end points at Kitty's DNA Mapper, and Genome Mate, if I added 5 zeros; plus removed the decimal point. I just added the information to my Family Tree DNA CSV spreadsheet. Then uploaded the CSV spreadsheet to Kitty's DNA Mapper
This info is especially helpful if they list a place of origin other than the United States, or any other country with a large immigrant population. Finding Irish and Nicaraguan matches has been helpful. I was able to make a segment map using Nicaraguan matches' segment data, from Family Tree DNA and 23andMe. Now I'm able to see where I've inherited DNA from my maternal grandmother.
It's a very handy feature when you've found a common surname also. I found a Browning match who hadn't got in contact with me, on the list. Nice you can access this information even if someone won't agree to genome sharing.
Nicaraguan Segment Map

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Looking At Ethnicity And Inheritance On The X Chromosome


The chromosome view at 23andMe's Ancestry Composition is very interesting. It's especially interesting if you have an ethnically mixed background. It's difficult to separate the various European ethnic groups. If you're 100% European it isn't as useful. If you're wondering whether you have Jewish, Native American, African, Asian, etc. ancestry it is very helpful.

In my case my Grandmother was from Nicaragua, a place with a great deal of ethnic mixing. Most Nicaraguans are either more than half European, Native American, or African. I believe my Grandmother was a little more than half European. She was probably around a quarter Native American, based on my Mom's DNA results at AncestryDNA. I've been finding the X data at 23andMe to be informative regarding the ethnic mix on our maternal grandmother's side. I'm also beginning to understand the way the X recombines, or doesn't. Sounds like the X is more resistant to recombining than the other chromosomes. So it's possible that an unrecombined X could be passed on, as may be the case with a male cousin, and myself. I looked at the X sharing chromosome inheritance charts. I assumed that I could have inherited X DNA from most of the close lines. Looking at my X DNA I see that I didn't inherit DNA on the X from all close ancestors who could have contributed to my X. Instead I received a majority of the DNA on my X from my maternal Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather, based on the Native American, very little if any from anyone else. At least I'm unaware of my Maternal Grandfather having any Native American blood? I plan on testing my Mom to get a better idea of exactly who contributed the most to my X. If my chromosome is completely Native American and Southern European I may have gotten an entire X chromosome from my Nicaraguan Grandmother.

My X chromosomes. Orange is Native American, Purple African, Blue European.
However, looking at maternal cousins results the Southern European may be Northern European? In that case I probably did inherit some X DNA from my Maternal Grandfather. My brother and sister cousins also share segments on in my European region on the X. However one of my female cousin's shared regions is identified as Northern European while the same segment is Southern European according to her brother and a sister's results. The cousins with the Native American and Southern European results look more like my own, overall. You can see from the last X chart that brother and younger sister share half identical DNA across nearly the entire X chromosome (as shown by the green bar).

Orange is Native American, Purple African, Blue European. Brother and younger and sister

His results and the younger sisters results are starkly different than their oldest sister whose maternal and paternal X is practically completely Northern European. Unless some of her Northern European is actually Southern? It's 3 to 1 that our shared European DNA is Southern European. 

Differences when comparing two sisters
You can see by green bar they share DNA across the X

I noticed when I compared the female cousins to their brother the European and Native American lined up very well, when comparing side by side, looking at the share regions. When I compared the two sisters I was surprised the sisters matched all the way across the chromosome, but didn't share the same ethnicity predictions. I forgot that females received identical X chromosomes from their father. Fathers pass on their one X chromosome, unchanged, to their daughters. It appears they match across the chromosome; but, in reality its combined DNA from different lines. An expert on the subject of the X chromosome inheritance, Dr. Kathy Johnson, advised using either GEDmatch or 23andMe's Family Traits chromosome browser to see the half identical and fully identical regions (see ISOGG Wiki for examples of half identical and fully identical segments shared by relatives on the X). The fully identical regions mean  DNA is shared on both the Maternal and Paternal X. The sisters only share half identical regions with their bother because males have only one X and can't be fully identical with sisters. The first fully identical region is in a place where they don't match their brother (see blue chromosome below). The two sisters and brother share DNA where the sisters have their second fully identical segment. The half identical region for the two sisters, not shared by their brother comes from their father. We know this because this is a half identical region for the two sisters, which the brother doesn't share (remember the brother and younger sister do match there. So the older sister inherited more X DNA from her maternal grandfather who was Scots-Irish and German. The younger sister and brother inherited more X from their maternal grandmother who was Nicaraguan). Looking at half identical and fully identical regions is a great way to find out where siblings DNA is inherited from, since this is not shown in the advanced inheritance chromosome browser at 23andMe. 
This is from Family Traits Browser at 23andMe
Showing full identical dark Blue and half identical light blue

Here is a chart Dr. Kathy Johnson made for us.

Chart shows my 2 female and one male cousins ethnicity results
From Family Traits and the Ancestry Composition chromosome views 23andMe

 I have a few more distant cousins who match me on the X. One of them is also Nicaraguan and confirms that that region of the X is Nicaraguan. I have a couple matches on my father's side also. One is a 3rd cousin. Since fathers don't pass down their X to their sons we know this DNA doesn't come from our shared French Canadian line.  
The X is very useful when you have a question involving the X lines of inheritance. My X DNA has confirmed what the other tests seem suggest regarding Nicaraguan marriage patterns. It looks like males with European direct Y lines often married either Native American or African females. Seems like it was more acceptable, and probably because of the smaller female European population, males often married outside their own ethnic group. European females didn't marry out of their own ethnic population as frequently as males. The European males were probably financially better, off making them more attractive marriage partners.
I'm attempting to test my Mom with 23andMe. She is very advanced in age, and in failing health. Not sure if her test will pass? Keeping my fingers crossed that the test will pass. It would be great to phase my results with hers. I could then get a better picture regarding the ethnicity on my maternal X. Curious to see if I've inherited any DNA from my maternal Grandfather or is it all from my Maternal Grandmother? I also see a small bit of Native American on the chromosome which represents my father. Looking at the X lines on my father's side I am unaware of any family tradition regarding Native American in those lines? Another question I would like to find an answer for? I mailed my Mom's kit in yesterday. I'm following its course through the mail using USPS tracking.

X inheritance

Sunday, July 5, 2015

How Do AncestryDNA cM Numbers Compare?

With the mirrors to the other world at AncestryDNA finally cracking open a little some comparison between their results and those from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and GEDmatch can be made (if you've been watching the BBC series Strange and Norrell you'll understand that reference).

 I only counted segments 5 cMs and over when comparing.

Starting the comparison with a double 5th cousin who has tested with all 3 companies:
This cousin has results at the 3 major companies plus GEDmatch. In this case AncestryDNA seems to have removed the 9 cM segment on Chromosome 6. This same segment was removed from two other relatives of this match, also. From totals around 24 cMs with GEDmatch and the other two companies we go down to a total of 13.404 at AncestryDNA.

AncestryDNA total shared 13.399 cM Total

Family Tree DNA 23.41 cM Total

GEDmatch cM Total 25.2
23andMe cM Total 24.3

Moving on to this match who has tested with the 3 major companies:
In this case AncestryDNA cut the cM total from 25 to 26 cM's to 6.748. This would mean, if Ancestry is right, this may not be a true cousin match. I haven't established a relationship in this, case so far. So they may be right in this case?

AncestryDNA Total 6.748
Family Tree DNA Total 25.27

23andMe Total 26.2
Moving on to a 4th Cousin:
The particular match is a known, confirmed, 4th cousin. AncestryDNA predicts he is a 5th to 8th cousin. AncestryDNA totals are much smaller with only 6.748 total, while 23andMe says we share 32 cMs. I tend to believe the higher number.
AncestryDNA 4th cousin match total 6.748 cMs
23andMe 4th cousin match total 32 cM's
I've compared a couple more matches, which basically follow along these same lines. I haven't found any cM totals predicted to be closer than 8 cM's, when comparing with AncestryDNA. Some comparisons are 20 cMs different. I've made notes for all of the matches I've been able to identify at AncestryDNA. Looking at the totals for some of these matches I'm surprised at how low the cM totals are. I believe if we compared elsewhere the totals would be higher. I don't know about how the phasing and filtering is working for anyone else? It's not working well for me. I believe the best approach to matching is to provide testers with unphased, unfiltered matches who share a 7 cM segment or more, and with at least 700 SNPs. I don't feel the current matching system is helpful enough in eliminating bad matches, because there are many matches sharing cM totals under 7 (many sharing only 5 cMs total). AncestryDNA's system also tends to remove some good matches. Losing good matches, and having close cousins downgraded, in order to eliminate a few bad matches isn't worth the trade off.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Keys To 23andMe Success

You can see the additional info the 23++ extension adds

My relative matches came in last Thursday at 23andMe. That was a week after the initial Neanderthal, haplogroup, and ethnicity results. So far I'm enjoying my experience. I love the chromosome browser with its ability to check to see if my matches actually match each other. You can also compare with non matches if you invite them and they accept your invitation. At 23andMe you can't compare in the chromosome browser unless the other person accepts your invitation. So far I've had a good acceptance rate, considering I just started sending invitations a couple of days ago. I sent out at least a couple hundred invitations so far and around 25 people have accepted genome sharing.

I immediately found some matches I'm definitely related to. Three of my first cousins matched me of course. One of them shared a higher percentage of DNA than the average for a 1rst cousin. She shared 18%. She was predicted to be my aunt instead of cousin because of that. I found a 3rd cousin right away also. I already knew her, so it wasn't a surprise. 23andMe predicted her to be a 2nd cousin because she also shares more DNA with me than the average 3rd cousin. She shares 171 cM and 6 segments. I discovered 4 cousins just looking at posted trees.

Forgey Roller? On Chr 20
Moving on from the easy cousin finds I began trying to triangulate using the chromosome browser to compare those who accepted my invitations so far. I did find triangulation between my cousins, and I, and a woman who also has Tennessee ancestry. I discovered she also matched an Andrew Forgey and Anna Roller descendant. We have not found the common ancestral line yet. I don't think her tree is out that far?

Keys to success at 23andMe

  1. Other close relatives need to test with them. I've found it's so helpful that my 1rst cousins have tested with them. It's helping me to determine which side of the family matches match on. I don't think I would have much success without close relatives testing.
  2. The 23++ Chrome browser extension is helping me so much. It's a must have for me. 23andMe matches would be difficult for me to evaluate without the extension. The extension provides you with cM totals. I'm used to evaluating matches based on cM's rather than percentages, plus most everyone outside of 23andMe uses cM's as a measurement. This extension also highlights matches you've invited marking those who have accepted with a green box, and those who have not with a tan box (see top of page).
  3. Downloading and comparing matches. Since you can only compare 5 matches at a time at 23andMe it's good to download matches to excel compare there; or better yet compare with all of your matches from every company at Genome Mate, or create a segment map using Kitty's segment mapper.
The note system they have at 23andMe isn't as easy to use as at Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA. I would like to see a better note keeping tool, which highlights where the notes are.

23andMe, like Family Tree DNA, doesn't have anything like Circles. The only way to find matches in common is to share genomes. The difference between the Circles and using a chromosome browser is you can actually prove a relationship with matches by comparing segments. Circles provide hints to possible relationships only, and these hints need to be verified.

I'm thrilled to be building up a catalog of segments using 23andMe. I appreciate the fact they provide that tool.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day! And 23andMe Admixture Results

Roberta Estes featured her Y DNA line in her Father's Day tribute post "Father’s Day – Tracking the Y DNA Line." These men represent my Y DNA lines.

My Father Robert John Kapple born in Chicago
My father Robert John Kapple and his father Rudolph Christian Kapple represent the YDNA haplo group  J-M172. This reflects an Eastern European origin. Rudolph Kapple was born in Southern Burgenland, Austria.
Paternal Great Grandfather Rudolph Christian Kapple born in Burgenland, Austria
My Maternal Grandfather Charles Lynn Forgey born in Jackson County, Indiana

My Grandfather and his male ancestors were Y I-126 Haplo. This line has Scottish roots.
Great-Grandfather William Wray Forgey born in Jackson County, Indiana
Great-Great Grandfather Hugh Forgey probably born in Scott County, Virginia
23andMe Ethnicity results-
I received my preliminary 23andMe results this week. I found out I'm 3.1% Neanderthal. I've been reviewing my ethnicity results. I found that 23andMe slipped up on the Eastern European estimate. They only estimated me to be 1.70% Eastern European, which I believe is too low. My Aunt on my father's side is 29% Eastern European according to her myOrigins results. My Grandfather Kapple was born in Eastern Europe. Both AncestryDNA and myOrigins estimated I'm around 7% Eastern European. I believe even that estimate is low. Perhaps the 11% Broadly European may represent Eastern Europe? I was happy to see some French and German admix included in 23andMe's estimates. I believe their estimate should probably be higher also. I believe they also underestimated the Middle Eastern admix. My original Family Finder ethnicity results stated I was 10% Middle Eastern. They cut that estimate in half now. When my Broadly Southern European is added to my Iberian result it comes out to nearly 14%, similar to AncestryDNA. This would represent my Grandmother Graciela Del Castillo's family. It's fairly close to the 12% AncestryDNA predicted. The 3% from myOrigins is definitely too low. MyOrigins agrees with 23andMe giving me an overall 91% European. MyOrigins and 23andMe also agree that my British Isles admix is around 29%, which I believe is closer to correct than AncestryDNA.
AncestryDNA's ethnicity results are very good. They do, however, give a wide range of possibilities for each result. MyOrigins gets some regions correct, but misses large chunks of my admix. 23andMe throws a good percentage of my DNA into "broad European" categories. They won't breakdown the regions to the degree AncestryDNA does.
I'm currently waiting for my match results at 23andMe. I'm hoping some 2nd Cousins show up. I have no 2nd Cousins at Family Tree DNA or AncestryDNA. That cousin level could prove useful in order to separate the segments of DNA I share with more distant cousins.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

SCGS Jamboree 2015 and Global Family Reunion

Just Genealogy in Second Life (an Official site for Global Family Reunion) had presentations in support of Global Family Reunion, and raised money for Alzheimer's

I listened to the Livestream from SCGS's Jamboree, and the Global Family Reunion last weekend. Both events provided interesting information and entertainment. The Global Family reunion was outstanding. Very entertaining. Some great comedy between presentations. They got a jab in at Ancestry. One comedian said it seems like every ancestor, for example, is a whaling captain according to Ancestry's commercials. But someone had to steal the horses too?
Prof. Gates announced he is helping to create a curriculum using DNA testing for middle school students.

You can watch recorded videos from Global Family Reunion here: Free Videos

Video from Jamboree Livestream Free:

Audio Jamboree Pay $11 per session:

Some of the sessions I listened to and my thoughts about them.

Ross Curtis, PhD Ancestry DNA- The Latest Innovations in DNA Technology and Science and What They Mean for You
This session contained some interesting info. A study was done by Ancestry comparing the DNA of cousins to see how often small segments were shared. According to the presenter when you compare the DNA of 3 first cousins they will all share a small 5 cM segment 85% of the time. With 5 first cousins small segments were shared 40% of the time. When they compared 10 first cousins they didn't find that any of these shared the same small segment (must have been a different group?). In the case of the 3rd cousin level small 5 cM segments are shared about 15% of the time (the other scientists in the study couldn't believe it was really as high as 15% of the time. This is the mentality we are dealing with at Ancestry). With 4th cousins it's practically zero percent who share the small segments.

This scientist said you can't use segments of DNA to find a common ancestor? Actually that is what they are doing. They are using trees, plus shared DNA to form the Circles. He also said specific segments cannot bring people together? So what are the Ancestral Discoveries about?

If I were there I would have asked more hard hitting questions than the audience did. Some of the softball questions regarded things like profile photos not displaying properly? The only possible hope of getting something out of  Ancestry Circles would be if they added more features so we can analyze the quality of the matches. He didn't sound confident about providing any more information. I would at least like to know the size of the segments I share with someone, plus how many segments we share, at the very least.
If we test every relative we meet we can strengthen the Circle matches (plus empty our pockets). Not interested. He also stated that when they create Circles each person is given a score based on the likelihood they share the Circle ancestor. They look at the information shared in common on the trees. They also look at how complete the trees are. If a person doesn't have a very complete tree, containing enough identifying information they won't likely have many, or any, Circles. One reason for this is that Ancestry has discovered something many of us have, we can share more than one family line with a match. When Ancestry's analysis finds more than one possible relationship to members of a Circle they can't place you in a Circle; no way to know which Ancestors you got the DNA from. If your tree is mostly empty they can't evaluate whether you could be related another way, so this could keep you out of Circles too. This is all complicated, and leaves many people out of the Circles. I would say the Circles I have are correct for me. The Ancestry Discoveries are all cousins, or in-laws.

Listening to the Ancestry spokes holes is pretty aggravating. Of course the presenter, who developed the Circles, has 73 Circles (he did say the fact he developed them has something to do with that). Some of his Circles are weak, so he is not certain if he is really related the way some of the Circles imply. The best way to confirm that is with traditional research, instead of testing more relatives.

The way this Ancestry scientist was talking they don't believe anyone who tests with Ancestry is capable of understanding the science of genetics. At one point he said I hope I didn't lose you? Maybe I'm pretty stupid to have tested with them? He may be right.
Thank god the photo issue is being worked on (he's a scientist so that's no his job, as he told the audience member). He also didn't know whether maintaining a subscription was required to keep access to the DNA results (odd he didn't want to talk about the particulars of that).
I've tested with 23andMe recently and hope to get better results over there.

Kathy Johnston, MDC
Adventures Around the World with X, Y, and Mitochondrial DNA

This was an interesting presentation. I'm interested attempting to figure out family migrations using DNA also. She demonstrated that the X chromosome can be useful.

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Debunking Misleading Records

Really made me think about the quality of my sources. We really have to consider whether documents we are basing conclusions are the best sources with the most accurate possible information. Also we need to consider whether a document may have been tampered with? Of course clerks were prone to mistakes, like all of us, so even official records contain wrong information. Informants providing information on documents often provide some wrong details.. All of this means you can't rely on any one document alone.

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Can A Complex Research Problem be Solved Solely Online?

Fascinating case study was presented to demonstrate what can be done online. Can a complex problem be solved solely online? "Yes but..."

Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD and Paul Woodbury
Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation
Interesting presentation. They presented research regarding testing trends. Trends reflect immigration patterns. Interesting they found nearly half of the young people who test for ethnicity find they are more interested in another aspect of their results.

Lisa Louise Cooke
Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy
This was an interesting presentation. I learned Google Earth Pro is now Free. It has extra features which you can use to create tours of ancestral areas. Someone asked a question about operators used to narrow a search with Google search. They asked if phrases such as OR must be capitalized. The answer was yes. When I tried capitalizing using AND with search I got some different results than when I  just used the +. I found a Nicaraguan library with a digital collection which should be helpful.

Dr. Michael D. Lacopo
Methods For Identifying the German Origins of American Immigrants

Interesting presentation packed with information on how to find the Church and Civil boundaries of areas our German ancestors lived in. You can't find the records unless you know the jurisdictions. He also talked about reading the records, which look pretty difficult to decipher. But, like he explained, you get used to the handwriting style of the clerk and certain phrasing for birth, death , marriage, name, are repeated so you'll know exactly what is being referred to. I found, with the Austro Hungarian records, once I got used to the structure of the Church book entries I could understand what was being conveyed, even though I didn't know the language.



Friday, May 22, 2015

In Search Of...."Viking DNA"

The pariahs of ancient Britain are now the beloved ancestors of modern descendants. Who would have predicted that during the invasions?

Personally I wouldn't have my DNA tested to find so called "Viking DNA". When someone's DNA is tested it isn't like tiny Vikings are found swimming in their DNA and pronounced Viking . Some haplogroups and subclades are more common among the Scandinavians. Vikings did invade Britain mixing their DNA with the earlier migrants. It would appear that many I1 Haplogroup members in Britain likely did have this Haplogroup passed down to them through Vikings invasions. Another source of I1 would have been from the Anglo/Saxons,Jutes and Frisians, and of course later migrations. Historical research, archeology, and DNA can shed light on these different origins.

The Viking DNA question came up in our Forgey DNA project. So far most of our Forgey/Forgy & Forgie testers have matched each other in our Y DNA project; and they are grouped together in the I2b haplogroup. Some R1b's surfaced and were found to be the result of line breaks due to the surname coming down a female line, instead of a male line. We have two testers, however, who don't match our other Forgey group members and don't match each other. They were expected to match each other, at the very least, because they are 5th cousins on paper. Looking at the paper trail for these two people we can't find the explanation for the break? According to a biography for one of their Forgy ancestors, Robert Forgy, was an Irish immigrant to America in the 18th Century. This corresponds with the rest of our other Forgey/Forgys, who arrived in America around the same time and were Scots-Irish. My theory is the name Forgey/Forgy & Forgie is a variant of Ferguson as stated in a book written about Irish surnames, which was based on a government report on Irish surnames. Not all Fergusons are related, and throughout time there have been breaks in surname lines which could explain these two 5th cousins not matching the rest of us. So my questions are when did the break occur between these cousins, and does one of their lines go back to Ireland and the surname Ferguson? Did both of their lines have a break after this Robert Forgy arrived in America?

One of the lines is our beloved "Viking haplo" I1 M253, or the haplogroup often attributed to the Vikings by testing companies. Looking at their match list about half a dozen of this I1 Forgy's 42 matches, at 37 markers, are Scandinavian. This as opposed to our I2b haplogroup which is predominantly made up of Scottish and Scots-Irish matches with a couple Spanish matches, but no Scandinavians. I've been analyzing this persons I1 results over and over trying to figure out if this person's ancestors could indeed have been Scots-Irish, as stated in the 19th Century biography? Another possible explanation is a break occurred in this Forgy family in the Great Plains area where the family later migrated to in the 19th Century from Pennsylvania? I've been wavering back and forth on that question.

The Scandinavians are high up on this persons match list. In fact their closest match is a Norwegian man, who apparently still lives in Norway. This had led me to believe the break occurred on the Great Plains in the US. The myOrigins ethnicity prediction for this Forgy doesn't show any Scandinavian admixture. It shows 100% British Isles. The ethnicity predictions at Family Tree DNA are notoriously off, so the lack of Scandinavian admix may not mean much. Looking at this persons Family Finder results we find one match with a couple Scandinavian lines. This match shares a 32 cM segment. This person also has British Isles ancestry so it's hard to say where the 32 cM segment comes from?

Here is an example of this Forgy's top matches from haplogroup I M253:

This Forgy's 42 matches mostly consist of Scandinavian and British matches and one Slovakian match. This is a very unusual match makeup as compared to all of the other Scottish and Scots-Irish match results that have been shared with me.
Here is the information from the Ancestral Origins list Family Tree DNA provides (comparing at 37 markers):

This can be contrasted with the results of another I1 Haplogroup member who has confirmed Scottish ancestry going back to the Middle Ages (comparison at 67 markers) No Scandinavians:

Since there are UK matches I can't dismiss the possibility that this Forgy's ancestors were Scots-Irish, as stated in Robert Forgy's biography. This could be his Haplogroup? The other descendant of Robert Forgy has numerous matches, because he is in the R1b Haplogroup.  One of his surname matches suggests the possibility of a break in his line, and his surname coming down through a female line. So far the R1b Forgy hasn't taken the autosomal test, which could establish whether there was a break in both of these lines or just one? If they match on the autosomal it would suggest that the R1b tester's surname came down a female line.

I believe we may be able to compare 2 fourth cousins from these separate branches of Robert Forgy's descendant lines? Hopefully that will answer some of our questions?

I am not sure if we are looking at ancient Scandinavian roots on the I1 Forgy's match list or something much closer? Do the results suggest Viking origins? I'm not expert enough to answer that question. Hopefully these mysteries can be answered at some point.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The PT Barnum Affect: Y And mtDNA Testing?

Prof. Mark Thomas' doesn't agree with such maps

I listened to a presentation by the Population Geneticist Mark Thomas this past weekend. The presentation was from the "Who Do You Think You Are?" the live event, "Ancestry Testing Using DNA: the pros and cons." Prof. Thomas did bring up some great points about some of the unscrupulous practices being employed to sell test kits. I think it's great to educate the public regarding what can and can't confidently be established using DNA testing.

I believe that fairly accurate information about the origins of Haplogroups is being presented by companies like Family Tree DNA. I think these predictions will just get better in the years to come. The Professor stated he felt the full sequence autosomal DNA test would provide more accurate information about the origins of our ancestors. He doesn't feel like the mtDNA or Y DNA results provide accurate information about the origins of populations. He seems to question the whole idea of Haplogroups? There is controversy in the academic community regarding what can and can't be proven regarding dating population migrations and the origins of Haplogroups.

This presentation was aimed at a UK audience and I don't know what the marketing for the testing is like there? Or the reasons the average person would decide to test? I don't think the descriptions below regarding the reasons for testing would apply to most of us in the US. Many people are interested in establishing a relationship to a famous person, everywhere. I'm skeptical about the other motives listed below. I feel like all of the reasons are stereotypes and hurt the reputation of genetic genealogists. What should be stated, instead of using insulting stereotypes, is that it's this scientists opinion that ancient origins in a particular area can't be proven using Y and mtDNA.

Prof. Thomas Mark's reasons why people "indulge" in interpretive phylogeography:
  1. the desire to say somebody is the descendant of some ancient king, princess, warrior or famous person
  2. the desire to mould a population's history or individual's ancestry back to some nationalist agenda  
  3. the desire to make spectacular claims about population history / human evolution  
  4. The Forer effect/ Barnum effect Explains the popularity of horoscopes etc

My own interest in DNA testing using the Y and mtDNA tests has generally been for reasons sanctioned by the Prof. Mark Thomas, comparing markers with cousins. I'm also interested establishing the origins of the surnames Forgey and Kapple. I know our Forgey family was Scots-Irish, which has been established using DNA and traditional genealogy research. A journal states the family was in Ulster during a particular uprising, and it was stated in the same journal the ancestor knew the words to a ballad about the uprising. There are factions in the family which believe Forgey is a French name brought to Scotland by the Normans. My opinion is it's a variant of Ferguson and isn't a Norman name. In this case I'm looking to Y DNA to prove the family was in Scotland before the Normans. In the case of my Kapple /Koppel surname everyone felt it was an Ashkenazi name, the family looks Ashkenazi and knew some Yiddish. So far the autosomal testing isn't showing any of that admixture? Our Y testing is showing a J2b haplogroup. Our family was Catholic for 200 years and existing records can't help us to go back any further. In these cases I'm looking to prove, or disprove family stories, with the help of Y and mtDNA. I believe this should be possible.

Many adoptees in the US have no information about their family's ethnic origins. Using Y and mtDNA testing can be very helpful for them. The descendants of former slaves would like to reclaim their stolen heritage.

There are valid reasons for pursuing the origins of haplogroups when it comes to genetic genealogy. Academic stereotyping, and condescension, hurts the reputation of those who are pursuing the subject based on valid intellectual curiosity.

Prof. Mark Thomas stated, why would it be important to establish the origins of one or two lines when everyone in Europe is related not so long ago? Everyone in Europe is Viking etc., etc.  I'm not interested in establishing the origins of every line. I'm interested in my maternal and paternal family surnames. It sounds like many in Europe are looking for the villages or migration patterns of their families, and linking rare surnames to particular areas. Reading many papers about the subject of locating origins using Y and mtDNA I realize we have a ways to go when it comes to establishing these connections with a high degree of confidence.

I think the academic community would rather not see genealogists affiliate themselves with population genetics. I believe some members of that community are out of touch when it comes to the goals of the average genealogist. There is much handwringing in that community about dark ulterior motives when it comes to testing for ethnicity.

There is a valid criticism of the lack of scientific backing for claims made by testing companies. I agree, and would like to see more papers on the subject containing evidence for claims made by all of these companies. I'm not against critical review, but I'm against stereotyping and blanket comments about the motives for testing. Calling DNA testing Astrology gets a lot of attention in the press, and is a good strategy for getting attention, but it has been used to discredit the valid uses of DNA for genealogy, whether that is what Prof. Mark Thomas intended this or not, this terminology has been used to discredit the entire genetic genealogy community. I would just like to see a more respectful debate. It would be great to see critics of the ancestry testing companies, and company representatives on stage at a conference debating all of this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Where Is Our Native American DNA? Plus Consider The Source

We had some good news a couple weeks ago when someone from a line that matched our Owens family on the Y test perfectly, at 25 markers, also matched my family on the autosomal test. The fact they matched both at AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA is a good sign. Anyone who survives the AncestryDNA process plus shares common ancestors is likely a true match. When this test came back, from AncestryDNA, GEDmatch wasn't able to process new accounts so we couldn't compare immediately. Another test for a confirmed distant cousin of this match had come in a little before this. This person wasn't able to create a new account at GEDmatch either. Lucky I had created extra accounts at GEDmatch that I never used. When I finally remembered the passwords for these accounts I was able to give them the accounts to use. I found out my family shared a 14.3 cM segment with one of them, but didn't share any DNA segments with the other. This is to be expected because our connection is 7 generations back. It's incredible that even one of them matched us.

According to many sources, including contemporary sources, John Owens had an Indian wife. It's not known for certain which of his children had a Native American mother, or whether all of his children were part Native American? Around a dozen descendants of John Owens have tested, and so far no one has any Native American admixture according to all three testing companies. Trace amounts of Native Admixture can be seen using the GEDmatch admixture utilities. My Aunt shows the highest amounts at GEDmatch of around 2%. Most descendants come out with 1%, or less, admixture using the most sensitive and optimistic projects at GEDmatch. I'm not sure if all this is just noise, and none of John's children, who carried his surname, are children of his Native wife?

I know that DNA from distant ancestors is lost as the generations pass. I wonder about the lack of Native American DNA in those families with traditions of Native American ancestry? It could be that many families just passed down a family tradition not based in fact? It could be that the Native ancestor lived so long ago that no trace of their DNA is visible with the current autosomal tests? I also wonder if the testing companies tell people that no Native American is showing up because that ancestor lived so long ago is just to satisfy customers unhappy with the lack of the sought after Native American results?

"An Extream bad collection of Broken Innkeepers, Horse Jockeys, and Indian Traders"

Brigadier General John Forbes described the character of his provincial troops with the terms above (he probably would wonder why I would be interested in establishing my relationship to these people?).

Genealogical research in Western Pennsylvania during the Colonial era is difficult because so few records were kept. There are no early marriage records. County marriage records weren't recorded until well into the 19th century. Dower releases weren't required in early Pennsylvania either making finding wives names even more difficult.

It's also difficult to find men listed in early deed books in Pennsylvania. Many men took out warrants to survey land, but later abandoned the land without actually finishing the granting process.

Considering the above it is a challenge to find anything about people living in the frontier area of Pennsylvania during the Colonial and early American era. Military letter writers and personal journals have been the best sources I have found for my family during this time period.

Unfortunately I've had to rely on the typed transcripts from the Pennsylvania Archive book collections. This source is wonderful to a point. I have found a least one first name wrongly transcribed. I found the error in a list of names where the first name of the man above was mistakenly copied twice. Typed transcripts aren't my favorite sources but have to suffice until the originals become available, if they ever do?

Another problem I've had to contend with is how do evaluate the credibility of these letter and journal writers? I'm not always sure if what they are relating is from first hand knowledge?

I've been trying to confirm the assumption that David Owens the soldier in Pennsylvania and New York, was John Owens', the Western Pennsylvania based Ohio Country Indian Trader's, son.

According to a single source from one contemporary writer, Sir William Johnson, David Owens was the son of an Indian trader who traded with the Delawares and the Shawnees. The only Owens we have found who is known to have traded with them was my ancestor John Owens. We only have this circumstantial evidence suggesting John and David were father and son.

I did some research on Sir William Johnson in order to determine whether it could be our David Owens he was speaking of, and whether he would have access to this kind of information. He came to this country from Ireland in 1738. He settled in the Mohawk Valley of New York. He was involved in the fur trade and was well acquainted with George Croghan (John Owens sometimes boss) who also owned land in the Mohawk Valley (I'm not sure if John Owens also spent time in the Mohawk Valley of New York?). George Croghan became Sir William Johnson's  Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs. In 1756 Sir William Johnson was made "Sole Agent and Superintendent of Indians and their Affairs", and was also responsible for helping to raise troops to fight in Indian territory. In the 1764 letter he wrote, describing David's father, he also stated David had been garrisoned at his house. This didn't seem to fit with David son of John Owens because his father was a trader with a trading post in Western Pennsylvania. Johnson also stated that David was in Capt. McClean's company. I found out that a Capt. Allen McLean's company was part of General Forbes expedition which traveled through Pennsylvania on its way to take Fort Duquesne from the French. Locals were used in Forbes campaign. This could be how David hooked up with this company. McLean's company later moved on to campaigns around New York.

After completing this research I think it is possible that Sir William Johnson's letter may contain credible information. He could have received his information about David's father from David himself or from George Croghan? On the other hand he could have assumed he was the son of John Owens based on the common last name? It would be great to have more support for this relationship. Hopefully more will surface in the future.

I don't think that a Colonial official would have a reason to make a false statement regarding David Owens' father. A soldier named Robert Kirkwood wrote of a David Owens in his memoir. His memoir was highly embellished with exaggerated stories. I take much of this type of work with a grain of salt. He stated a David Owens he was held captive with was born in Pennsylvania. Kirkwood and David are together in Pennsylvania after their supposed escape from Indian captivity in the 1750s. Kirkwood later ends up fighting in New York at Ticonderoga, and may have been encouraged by David Owens to desert in 1761, when David himself deserted. Again I can see how David may have gotten to New York and garrisoned at Sir William Johnson's house.

It is hard to judge the veracity of people providing us with information recently. It's so much harder to judge the veracity of the writers who wrote about the Owens family a couple hundred years ago (this is where DNA testing can help). I tend to believe those accounts which were written by Military and Colonial Officials and contemporary journalists; but, memoirs being removed in time from events and prone to exaggeration are less trustworthy. I'm hoping to see more original manuscripts published online. The manuscript collections are invaluable sources for Pennsylvanian research. I've made quite a bit of progress using these collections and hope to unearth even more.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New AncestryDNA Circles: You Need A BIG tree!

No you just found some new in-laws for us

For everyone who thought DNA would eliminate the need for old fashioned family tree research the new Circles rolled out today at AncestryDNA would seem to dash that hope. DNA provides hints, but as someone reminded me recently digging through records at courthouses etc. is the only way to confirm a relationship. Today Ancestry finally rolled out DNA only Circle matches. Before only those with a tree plus segments matches were included in the Circles. 

I was initially excited when checking my Mom's DNA Circles because she had a new couple with Campbell in their descendants' trees. Doing more research I discovered the verified ancestral match was most likely on our Wray line. The new Circles require checking the trees of each person in the Circle to establish the connection. When I did that I noticed that a descendant in the Wray line married into the new couple line. I found this fact in two trees provided by Circle matches. The others did not have large enough trees. We are not blood relatives of this couple as far as I know at this time. It's possible we are related to the descendants of the line through both Campbell and Wray? However that still would mean we aren't descended from the couple presented to us in the Circles. My Mom is an Extremely High confidence match with some of the descendants of this heretofore unknown couple. It appears everyone in the Circle is descended from ancestors who migrated to Texas. None of my ancestors settled in Texas, our connection would have to be earlier, before the 1820's.

This tool is supposedly designed to help those who haven't put together any family tree, or have a very small tree. I don't see this helping them very much. They will need to build out a tree to establish a connection. If they concentrate on some of these couples they may become frustrated because some are just in-laws.

I have no new Circles with the change. Both my Mom and I belong in other Circles based on DNA and our Family Trees because a cousin has those Circles, and we actually match several people in the cousin's Circles. My cousins who had no Circles now have a few. I'm not sure if they are blood relatives of theirs or just in-laws?

The new addition to the Circles is called "Ancestor Discoveries." Should be called relative discoveries, since none of our new couple matches are actually ancestors, as far as I know? Three of my Mom's discoveries are in-laws, and one would be a many times great-aunt.

Ancestry discoveries are also provided to those with private trees.

I don't see a confidence level for the DNA only matches?

Now that I've broken down part of my Owens brickwall I do know that DNA was leading me to the correct branch of my Owens line. Our family was perfectly matching the correct branch on the Y test. The autosomal tests confirmed we have no breaks in our Owens line for we female descendants.

I'll check the Campbell lines shared by my Mom's matches. Not sure if that will go anywhere?

No easy way out with DNA. You still need a BIG tree!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Breaking My Owens Brickwall Down After 11 Years

That seemingly intractable brickwall on my Owens line finally came down this week. Many thanks have to go to the Cornerstone Genealogy Society in Greene County, PA. The researcher there, Thelma Yeager, provided me with more information than I requested. She followed up on the clues she found as she was doing the research for me and sent additional documents. I really appreciate her expert researching skills!

My research goal has been to determine which of two James Owens of Bracken County, KY was the son of John Owens II and Susannah of Washington County, PA (a.k.a Monongalia County, VA). One of these men was only referred to as James Owens or James Owens Sr.; and the other was referred to as James D. Owens and James Owens Jr., at various times. More on that later.

I have finally identified the ancestral lines for all the Owens DNA participants. We have two who believe they descend from David Owens son of John Owens I, and one who claims to be descended from George Owens, another son of John I. We have two from the Tyler County WV Owens line, who believe they descend from John II's son John III. There seems to be a branch marker for the supposed descendants of David Owens. That would be would be the 10 in the chart above. We appear to have a branch marker for the supposed descendants of David which is the purple 10 in the chart above. George's descendant also mismatches the others on a single marker. John of Tyler West Virginia also has a unique mismatch. Since his cousin only tested 25 markers we're not sure if this was a mutation unique to John of Tyler's family? My line matches John of Tyler the best so far, with no mismatches at 25 markers. I would like to upgrade and see if our line continues to match perfectly at 37 markers.

I had also requested a couple deeds from Clark County, Indiana for James Owens and Sally Broshears, which I received before the documents from Greene County, PA. The deeds confirmed what another Owens family researcher had found regarding the fact that James and Sally were said to be from Bracken County, KY, and the fact they sold their land in Clark County, now Indiana in 1803. Actually James purchased that property previous to their marriage in 1802. I also received a deed
confirming he did witness a deed in 1800, proving he was there at that time. All of this points to James Owens married to Sally Broshears being a descendant of David Owens instead of John Owens and Susannah as was believed. This James witnessed a deed for his likely brother John Owens in Clark County in 1800, and was married a day after his likely brother David in the same church, White Oak Presbyterian in Bracken County, KY. James and David lived in different states for many years, but reunited in about 1824 when they both lived in Washington County, IN.

The Clark County area is closely associated with Capt. George Owens and David Owens who were some of the earliest settlers of that area.

I'm not very patient so while I was waiting for my request for copies of the Deeds Index, and the 1806 Court Case, from the "Cornerstone Genealogy Society" I kept researching and exchanging information at our "We're Descendants of John Owens the Indian Trader" group at Facebook. A group member was looking at old posts and noticed a pdf was posted which mentioned a deed for the heirs of John Owens. I took a look and saw the book number and page number. I believe that was on a Sunday night. I couldn't phone to ask about getting a copy so I Googled the County Clerk's office for Greene County, and found out you can obtain deed copies online for a fee. This site is impossible to use without specific information, but is usable if you have the book number and page. I was thrilled when I saw a transcript of the indenture which actually wasn't technically a deed. It was a transfer of interest in the estate of John Owens and a power of attorney for Francis Wells. It did involve the property inherited by John Owens III, on Tenmile Creek, PA.  Unfortunately it didn't answer the question regarding which James Owens was John II's son. It just said James Owens, no other identifying info. I could not access the second page which would have been 571? This page didn't contain a continuation of the heirs indenture as it should have. I needed to locate that page ( I later found out page 571 is 570a in their system). I had no idea at that point what great information this page contained.

On Tuesday the awaited for envelope from the "Cornerstone Genealogy Society" arrived. Not only did it contain an index of Owens deeds it also contained the actual deeds. Plus additional  documents regarding the estate of John Owens. There was so much it took me time to sort through it all.  I just happened to quickly glance through the pages and discovered pages 1 and 2 of the document I found at the County Clerk's website were included. During this quick look I failed to notice an important bit of information. I was exchanging some of this information with the Facebook Owens group when I finally noticed page two included a reference to the signature of James Owens. He signed it James D. Owens, which caused me to gasp and nearly faint. After 11 years I finally had documentary evidence that James D. Owens was the son of John Owens and Susannah, and not James Owens husband of Sally Borshears, as was thought by some other researchers. I don't have the original clerks copy of the indenture but hope to get that. I've written to Greene County for a copy. I just have a transcript. Hopefully book 2 page 571 is still available for copying?

An 1806 Court Case involving John and Susannah's estate was not found. It's possible they intended to sue in 1806 but something prevented it from happening at that time; or it was filed in a unknown location?

I have to say I didn't expect James to sign with the middle initial D. I should have because he signed his mother-in-law's marriage bond with a middle initial.

Lucky James Owens Jr. started referring to himself as James D. Owens around 1810. Maybe he felt Junior was too juvenile for him?  Also, he wasn't a Junior, that was apparently how they separated two James cousins in the local records. It's odd that this technique was not often used for others of the same name. Although at about the same time George, son of David, began to be referred to as George C. Owens. Maybe a new clerk suggested the addition of middle initials? I'm wondering if the D refers to James' mother's surname?

I certainly lucked out because James used the D when he signed the heirs release. I believe a mistake I made with this line was concentrating so much of my research in Bracken County, Kentucky where he lived during his adult life. I didn't expect to find the information I was looking for in 1811 Greene County, PA. The take away is branch out as much as possible. You never know where you'll find the solution to your problem. Could be in an expected place.

I still need to sort through the information I received and analyze it. I plan on continuing my research on the line. Still many unknowns. When did John I die, what were his wives exact names, and when did they die? Still need to prove some of his children and grandchildren's lines.

When I began researching this family in 2004 I found James Owens husband of Sally Borshears named as John and Susannah's son, exclusively. No trees suggesting James D. Owens of the same place was their son. When I noticed James D. and Fanny had a son named David V. I thought it was possible he might be their son instead. I believed this because they had a son named David V.. I believed Vincent might be this sons middle name. John II and Susannah had a son named David and a son Vincent. After a cousin matched a descendant in John I 's line it supported my hypothesis that my James could also have been their son. Without the DNA match I probably wouldn't have invested as much time in researching this family. The DNA is confirming our relationship plus it provided me the incentive to continue. We have more people in this line testing and hopefully we will find branch tags to separate the families. We are also doing autosomal testing to find out if some of John Owens I's children were part Native American, and to see if any of the distant cousins still share DNA. So far no one in John Owens I's line is showing Native American admixture in any appreciable amount.

One Wall gone several more to go.

A little tough to read but proof that James D. Owens was the husband of Fanny (Francis Watkins.).
Deed for James Owens and Sally Broshears from Clark County, IN