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

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 Ancestry.com; 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: https://www.treelines.com/story/12083-the-owens-family-always-on-the-move/

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 Ancestry.com. 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 Ancestry.com. 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

Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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