Monday, November 23, 2015

AncestryDNA takes a few steps forward/ 23andMe steps backward and A Trip to Nicaragua

AncestryDNA now provides some cM information

Important steps forward for AncestryDNA. First Ancestry introduced shared matches then a couple weeks ago they began allowing us to see exactly how much DNA we share and how many segments we share. Valuable information to have in order to evaluate matches and make connections. The DNA information isn't easy to find unless you do some exploration of links on your matches' pages. This information is shown when you click the "i" next to the confidence level. I've been able guess at some possible relationships using the shared match feature. Seeing the basis for matches looking at the shared DNA and number of shared segments has allowed me to evaluate the quality of my matches.

I was quite disappointed when a 3rd cousin was predicted to be a 4th to 6th cousin a couple of weeks ago. I feel this is a bad call. According to Ancestry this person shares 50 cMs with me, which is in line with a 3rd cousin relationship. Glad I was able to see the shared cM's so I could dismiss the AncestryDNA prediction (sounds like someone at ISOGG on Facebook has a match sharing 6 cM's on 2 segments???). A second cousin's results came in a week ago and his relationship prediction was accurate. Looking at other matches I see that on average Ancestry is 7 cM's different than Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch. They can occasionally be as many as 20 cM's off. I think AncestryDNA should dump the Timber filter and use a more accurate filter. Sounds like more accurate filters process more slowly and are more costly? I would still like to see a chromosome browser. I'll lift my grade for AncestryDNA to a B. I would give it an A if they would provide a chromosome browser.

23andMe is taking steps backward with their genetic genealogy product. The FDA is allowing them to provide health related results again. The health product was the primary focus for 23andMe, and will be again. They are completely revamping their DNA product. The very useful "Countries Of Origin" tool is now gone. Without this tool 23andMe is far less useful because most matches won't agree to share genomes. The price has increased from $99 to $199. I wouldn't recommend this test for that price. Without "Countries of Origin" you are unlikely to get very much information from matches. The health results aren't generally useful unless you have a clearly defined genetically inherited disease risk. Lowering my grade for 23andMe to C- overall. They do get an A for their ethnicity product, which is virtually the same.

If you'd like to read more about the changes at 23andMe you can read this more in depth explanation at Kitty Cooper's Blog. I noticed I have double the number of matches (about 1800)  I had before, but most are anonymous. Also some of the physical characteristics reports were far off. My mother was predicted to have dark eyes. Her eyes were light hazel. My eyes are dark which is correct.

Trip to Nicaragua:
I plan on leaving for a genealogy research trip to Granada, Nicaragua on December 7 (if all goes according to plan).

I have done some preliminary research. I've exchanged emails with an archive employee. He said that a staff member has found some information about my family. I have also learned about what is available at the archives from a distant cousin Alan (who is a DNA match). He has made a number of research trips to Nicaragua. He provided me with an index to the archive holdings.

My primary research location will be "Archivo de la Prefectura de la Municipalidad de Granada, Macario Álvarez", which contains 1,653 bundles of documents. This archive contains important genealogy sources such as Censuses and Military records. Another good source for Nicaragua was explained to me by my distant cousin Alan i.e. "recursos de habilitación are one of the more obviously genealogical series, they are coming of age documents usually the offspring of well to do families, in which they state that they are of legal age to enter into the administration of their patrimony and are x years of age, and their parents are x & x.  I have not used this collection very much but it is specially useful for Granada families."

I hope to find more about our cousin Francisco Alvarado Granizo, and more about my Great-Grandparents Nicasio Del Castillo and Elena Garcia. According to my Aunt Grace, the informant on my Grandmother Graciela's death certificate, her parents were Nicasio Del Castillo and Elena Garcia. My Mother knew her grandmother was Elena. She didn't know her maiden name, or her grandfather's name. I believe Aunt Grace was a good informant because she worked as a secretary for many years and was very organized when it came to keeping documents. My mother said her grandfather was a lawyer, which seems to suggest a relationship with Nicasio Del Castillo who left 28 years worth of legal books at the Granada Archives, which dated from 1857 to 1884. This Nicasio would seem to be too old to be my grandmother's father? Since the legal profession tended to be a family profession the elder Nicasio may have been my grandmother's grandfather? My grandmother was born in 1893.

The death certificate for my grandmother Graciela Del Castillo is the only document I have naming my great-grandparents.

A few years ago I exchanged emails with a distant Del Castillo cousin. He was living in Central America at the time. He provided me with the names of the siblings of my grandmother Graciela.  I found out her brother Alberto was entombed in a Mausoleum in Granada. I will try to locate his tomb.  I was able to find the exact relationship of the cousin pictured right with the help of this Central American man who did some research for me.

Most of Granada's 1856 and before government records were destroyed in that years due to an American William Walker taking over the presidency of Nicaragua, and the violence of that take over. I'm hoping to search an 1859 Census and an 1882 Census. Since I need more information regarding the identity of my Great-Grandparents the fact that earlier records are missing will not affect my initial research. In order to trace my family farther back marriage records called "expediente matrimonial" will need to have to have survived at the Catholic Cathedral diocese archives.

It will be interesting to see where my Grandparents and mother lived. My Grandfather Charles Forgey was born in Indiana. Ran away from home at age 17,  joined the Marines in 1916 and was sent to Nicaragua. He married my Nicaragua native grandmother Graciela Del Castillo in 1919. My mother Edna was born in 1921. The family left Nicaragua in 1925 and settled in California. I'm a little apprehensive about traveling to a "Third World" country. I've gotten hepatitis and Typhoid vaccinations in preparation. Hoping all goes smoothly?