Thursday, October 9, 2014

DNA News: "Finding Your Roots Ep.3"Light Bulb Moment Plus Improvements at FTDNA and Ancestry?

The much improved tree at FTDNA

Episode 3 of "Finding Your Roots" featured guests known for story telling. The episode focused mainly on Civil War ancestry, which was very fascinating. I love Anderson Cooper so I found his segments very interesting. I had thought his Dad also came from a wealthy family, and was surprised his roots were Southern and humble. Interesting that one of his ancestors was killed by a slave. I'll have to keep his ancestor Robert Fletcher Campbell in mind as I trace my Campell line. I'm stuck on Sarah Campbell who was born around 1810 somewhere in the South? It would be fantastic to be related to Anderson Cooper. Great to see there is a relationship between Ken Burns and Abraham Lincoln. Glad that Ken Burn's Y DNA could be linked to Robert Burns, which he had been wanting to know. The most moving parts of the episode dealt with loss of Anderson Cooper's father and brother, and Ken Burns loss of his mother.

Anna Deavere Smith's ancestors were also interesting. One of her ancestors was involved in the burial of Civil War troops at Gettysburg. Her mtDNA was used to trace her maternal line to a tribe in Africa. A light bulb went off in my brain, and I thought maybe I can use mtDNA on my Kappel/Kurta line and possibly my Owens line to glean more insight into the ethnic origins of these families. This all hinges on someone carrying the mtDNA for those lines agreeing to test. There is a good possibility I might be able to persuade a 2nd cousin or 1st cousin 1x removed to test. However, it may take some time because they don't know me and I don't know them. The Y and mtDNA tests are the most straight forward tests when it comes to interpreting the results. It's nice to get a simple answer sometimes, especially after wrestling with the admixture results from autosomal DNA.

Immediately after the show ended I began searching for information about Grandfather Rudolph Kapple's sisters. I knew one sister's married name was Salamon, and so I began Googling her full name, Bertha Salamon. I couldn't believe I immediately struck gold! I found her obituary which gave her sister Rose's married name, which I didn't have. Bertha's Obituary named her own children giving me candidates for mtDNA testing. She had 4 living named children in 2002, which included 2 daughters, and 15 grandchildren. Rose's full name, Rose Varnak, led me to her obituary in which 4 children were named and of those 2 were living. It was stated she had 15 grandchildren and 45 great-grand children. I did look for death information for them in the early 2000's and couldn't find anything. I know why I couldn't find anything then, they were still alive. I didn't expect them to live into their 90's since their brother Rudolph died in his 60's, and their parents died well before that age too. All of this is so great! I'm hoping this leads to some kind of meaningful contact with their descendants. I would love to see more pictures of my Grandfather Rudolph. I've never seen any photo of his parents or siblings, and would love to see those too. If I had known the sibling were still alive when I started out researching I would have tried to make contact immediately. I feel like I missed a great opportunity to get more information, and also just connect with some of  my Great Aunts. I was only aware of my Great-Grandparents having 11 children? One obit said there were 12. Now I'm wondering if this is true, and if so what happened to that child?

Another line which may benefit from mtDNA testing is the John Owens Indian Trader line. We know John Owens Sr. traded with Indians during the mid 1700's in Pennsylvania. We know, from a contemporary newspaper account, that he had an Indian wife. He had at least two wives. We don't know which wife our family descends from or even whether both wives were Indians ? If we could identify at least one of his wives with mtDNA we might be able to confirm whether at least some of John Owens children were half Native American. It isn't known whether he fathered any children with his Indian wife. We know he had at least a couple of daughters, and if a straight maternal line of inheritance can be found we may find the smoking gun information.

After locating the names of children and grandchildren of my great-aunts I searched on these names at Family Tree DNA. I located a tree with one of the names on it and was happy to see a new detailed view which saves time. You don't have to click to get details about an individual now. The names are now in larger print, so when you zoom in you can still read them. I'm still not crazy about the new tree layout (still too scattered), but it's easier to use with the larger names and details. I also found that one of my our Brenneman matches at AncestryDNA just showed up on my Mom's FTDNA match list.

AncestryDNA customers are in suspense right now over the impending changes that will radically change this product. Most of the details are still secret. One thing which is known is the number of matches will be drastically reduced. This was also discussed at i4gg. Ancestry had been identifying ancient segments of DNA shared by thousands of people, but supposedly not helpful because they are out the genealogical timeframe. Everyone is aware of the fact that the very low confidence matches are the most abundant, and impossible to sort through because of their number. I'm hoping this is a good change and they don't weed out good matches? Lucky I have downloaded the information for a majority of my matches. The unlucky thing is I'm waiting for more Owens DNA results at Ancestry and I'm wondering how these results might be affected? I'm hoping the changes don't go into effect until we get those results. The test kit was received on September 24, and I'm also wondering if the results will be held up by the changes?

I seem to have a pile up of segment matches on chromosome 19 at FTDNA. Reviewing these matches again, I've noticed none of them match me on my Mom's side? I'm wondering if these matches relate to me through either the French Canadian population or Ashkenazi populations?

No chromosome browser is apparently still the mantra at AncestryDNA. I don't now where the Geneticists at Ancestry got their degrees? They don't seem to understand the mechanics of segment matching for ancestry.

You can read more about the coming changes at Ancestry at Roberta Estes' blog post "DNA Day At Ancestry."
Some Segment pile up from FTDNA


Your Genetic Genealogist said...

HI Annette,
I am really happy that this episode made you start thinking bout how to use mtDNA testing in your genealogy research. Actually Ken Burns connection to Robert Burns family was not through Y-DNA, surprisingly. It was through autosomal DNA.

Annette said...

Thank you CeCe! I inferred that Y DNA was used, but it wasn't actually stated. The uses of mtDNA are limited, so no one focuses on it very much; and it doesn't often come to my mind when I need to answer a particular question.

Bev (Wray Descendant) said...

Hi Annette - I was thrilled to find your blog yesterday, by accident when googling the weird name Pulcherry, not only because you are a more sophisticated genealogist than I am, so I am sure I will learn a lot, but also because I am descended from Anderson Wray, which makes us 3rd cousins, I believe! I am descended from Anderson's second wife, Elizabeth Jackson (via Margaret Louisa Wray), rather than his first wife Sarah Campbell.