Friday, July 20, 2012

Beginning My Autosomal DNA Journey

Kappel Cousins

I took advantage of the recent sale at Family Tree DNA to order an autosomal DNA test. This test generally does not track as far back generation wise as the Y and Mt DNA tests.  It can, however, on occasion capture a distant relationship. The reason for this is Autosomal DNA is non sex linked DNA which is divided into smaller and smaller segments as it is passed down in the family. Everyone inherits half of their parents DNA. This half can be scrambled in any way. So siblings would inherit different segments. We all have small fragments passed down from previous generations. As DNA is passed from generation to generation many segments are lost. So traces of our earliest ancestors can no long be found in our DNA. This test is very accurate going back 3 generations, and occasionally there is a small fragment which can lead us back to 5 generations and little beyond.
Forgey Cousins
I received my test kit in the mail a few days after ordering it. I was so excited about it that I tested the very day I got it. I was a little surprised that the scrapper was so abrasive on my check that it caused irritation and bleeding. You have to suffer for your family history sometimes. It was very easy all in all. I did have some difficulty ejecting the scrapper into the vial. It took a few pushes to finally get it in. Everything else was easy because an addressed envelope is provided with the kit.
Now it's just a waiting game. I went into the site and provided them with all the info I know about my ancestors in the form of a gedcom file. They also wanted to know the name of my earliest male ancestor on my father's side and the earliest female on my mother's side. They are Andreas Koppel b. 1780 and Elena Gracia who I have no additional info on.
The fact I don't have any stats for my Great-Grandmother Elena points up the problem with several lines. Loss of records and the inability to gain access to records in Nicaragua has created a brickwall nearly impossible to breakdown. I also have a difficult brickwall for my Great-Grandmother Helen Mullen-Mason in Ireland due to record losses. DNA may be the only way to scale these brickwalls.
Another problem on my father's Kappel side is loss of contact with most of his uncles, aunts and cousins. This has left a serious gap in my knowledge of that family which has been a complete mystery to me since childhood. I had heard many stories about my mother's family, but few about the Kappel family in Chicago. I had wondered whether the family was Jewish? I had heard this talked about at my childhood at family gatherings. We were Catholic so the Jewish side was mysterious to me and I wanted to know more about them. There seemed to be a complete backing away from this side of the family due to possible Jewish origins. The sad history of the Jewish people causes many to turn their backs on Jewish heritage in their family. It's too painful for some to deal with. I didn't want to turn my back on this possibility. I wanted to know how the Holocaust may have affected our family in Austria? I was not able to get any answers until recently. I am hoping my DNA test will lead me to a greater understanding of the origins of this side of my family. I have no pictures of my Kappel Great-Grandparents and would like to make contact with a cousin who might have some? Above is a chart showing my current knowledge regarding cousins in this line. As you can see there were 11 children and I only have data for a few. Contrast that with my Forgey family where my knowledge is complete. Even more striking is the nearly complete lack of any knowledge for my grandmother's family owing to the near impossibility of getting anything from Nicaragua, and my young when my grandmother died.
So this DNA test has the potential to expand my family history in many ways. My ethnic breakdown will be as interesting as finding new cousins.


Randy Seaver said...

Hi Annette,

Good work here. Great example.

How did you make the charts? They are very attractive and informational. I'd love to do something similar with some of my family lines.

Annette said...

Thanks Randy! I used Mind Meister . I use the free version. You can only make 3 maps free, but you can always change any of the maps and just copy the old ones. It took me a while to figure out how to add lines. You just use the plus icon to add lines from the center, right and left. Use enter to add the names you want diplayed vertically. If you on the click color menu then the background icon, you can add color for individual names.