Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DNA News: Two Outstanding Genealogy Shows And Evaluating Matches

Last night I binged watched two excellent family history shows. CNN's "Roots Our Journey Home" and PBS' "Finding Your Roots". Didn't go to bed until 1 am (again).

"Finding Your Roots" episode 5 was one of the best of the this season. Celebrity chefs were featured in this all male episode "The Melting Pot". My Mom loved the show "Simply Ming" so he is very familiar to me. Great to see the role his family played in Chinese history. His enormous family tree was great to see rolled out. Wonderful that a stele with his ancestor's names was the only one which survived the cultural revolution in his particular ancestral location. He is very fortunate. Tom Colicchio's immigrant ancestors were much like mine. My Great-Grandmother traveled back and forth from America to her Village in Austro/Hungary. Her husband was working first in Allentown, PA then Chicago, Ill. She often made the trip with several small children accompanying her. Aaron Sanchez' family's roots are in Sonora Mexico, not far from border with the US. The family was a target of hostility during the Mexican Revolution which forced the family to flee with their large herd of cattle to the US. Aaron's DNA results were very interesting to me since I have some Central American heritage. His mix of European, Native American and African were typical for Central and South America too.

The "Roots our Journey Home" show on CNN borrowed heavily from "Finding Your Roots". The Anderson Cooper segment repeated many facts first presented when he was a guest on "Finding Your Roots". It was interesting to see Anderson visiting family graves. I thought this show was a nice mix of emotionally connecting with ancestors and tongue in check segments. They also used DNA results to fill in the blanks.

23andMe Zombies
It was announced this week that 23andMe would be partnering with My Heritage. If they integrate the trees with the DNA results like they do at AncestryDNA it could make 23andMe a more useful resource. The biggest problem at 23andMe is the lack cooperation of those who have tested with them. More than half my cousin's matches won't even share their own names let alone any ancestral surnames.

Last week a test result came back for our Owens line. Sadly Ancestry doesn't release segment information. Fortunately a descendant of John Melvin and Mary Redden (my fifth great-grandparents) agreed to compare with us at GEDmatch. We compared with his grandmother and him. We shared varying amounts of DNA from as small as 4.6 cM's up to 50 cM's total. We can now call a segment five of us share on chromosome 1 a Melvin family segment . We are all around the fourth cousin range relationship to his grandmother. After doing a few comparisons of Ancestry results at GEDmatch  I'm finding their prediction process occasionally works, but some valid cousin matches aren't showing up as close matches? Also some of the high confidence matches aren't as good as they look when you compare at GEDmatch.

The Family Tree DNA process for determining matches isn't any better. The scientists at Family Tree DNA aren't as well versed with autosomal DNA as they are with Y and mtDNA. As one of them stated at an ISOGG presentation, paraphrasing, what I tell you now may turn out to be wrong in hindsight. From a past presentation by the founder of Family Tree DNA his scientists don't believe autosomal DNA is useful beyond 4 generations. That demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the subject. Most of our matches are at 4 generations and beyond. Their use of total shared cMs as a criteria for determining matches causes many good matches to be discarded. Looking at my proven matches at Ancestry a few haven't shared the 20 total cMs required by FTDNA. I can't find any common ancestors with most of my Family Tree DNA matches. If they eliminated the 20 cM requirement and instead gave us all our matches sharing 7 cM segments or higher it would help us find more cousins.

John Melvin and Mary Redden were my 5th Great-Grandparents
I've assigned chromosome 1 to them

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