Monday, June 12, 2017

Mystery DNA Cousin Demystified

A few years ago at 23andMe a close match appeared for my father, his siblings, and their third cousin, Bob, on their shared Cook/Neil line of Morris County, New Jersey.  Common ancestors are Calvin Cook (1826-1889) and Mary Neil (1830-1898).

The amount of shared DNA ranged from 1.66% with my uncle to 3.82% with cousin Bob.



The probable relation would be second to third cousin.  The variance in amount of shared DNA is within normal.  Or the higher amount could indicate that this mystery cousin is closer to Bob.

Either way, the person ignored my requests to connect through the 23andMe website.

Recently, 23andMe required users to not be anonymous.  This person bypassed this non-anonymous requirement and instead blocked sharing requests.



This person won't make or break my family tree, so I moved on.

Then Cousin Bob's cousin contacted me.  They share ancestors Patrick Bernard Brady (1830-18xx) and Elizabeth Duffy (1837-1918) of County Meath, Ireland.  They were the parents of Mary Brady (1870-1942), wife of Francis Asbury Cook (1851-1919).

She wondered how Bob was so closely related to her highest DNA match.  This Mystery DNA Cousin had limited contact with Bob's cousin and revealed Brady ancestors on two separate ancestral lines from two counties in Ireland, Cavan and Donegal.










In this situation, we are not using haplogroups to assign relationships or ancestral lines.
We are using them to confirm that we are dealing with the same elusive DNA tester.

The shared percentage with Bob, as well as the haplogroups, were the same for the Mystery Brady Cousin as for the Mystery Cook/Neil Cousin.

So if the Mystery Cousin is the same for both situations, this explains why Cousin Bob shares more DNA with the Mystery Cousin.  They are related through Cook/Neil ancestors as well as the separate Brady line.  For Bob, these lines merged in his great grandparents, Francis Cook and Mary Brady.





The above diagram is my theory on how the Mystery Cook/Neil Cousin (Mystery Brady Cousin) is related to my branch.  If this person comes forward, we can revise the this diagram if needed.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Locations of My DNA Family at 23andMe

The genetic testing site 23andMe released a new tool called "Your DNA Family."





Part of this feature displays the locations of the people who share your DNA.

This is a different concept from "ethnicity."  The three major testing companies offer ethnicity estimates with different labels.

23andMe: Ancestry Composition
Family Tree DNA:  My Origins
AncestryDNA:  Genetic Ancestry/Ethnicity Estimate

My Heritage is attempting to join the genetic genealogy market.  It offers Ethnicity Estimate (beta).

AncestryDNA recently offered an additional view on origins called Genetic Communities.

Ethinic estimates will differ from company to company and over time because the reference populations will change based on new information and increased people who test.  For the latest take on my ancestors, see my post about Living DNA's interpretation of me.


Based on my exchanges with DNA matches at 23andMe, they live across the globe, but mainly in the United States.  The other countries I see most often are Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, and Hungary.




I was not surprised to see that a lot of my DNA relatives live in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania because this area is where my ancestors settled after leaving Europe.  Florida and California are popular destinations for New Jersey natives to relocate.


Next I compared my United States map to my parents.  My father has more relations spread across the United States, while my mother does not.





A list view captures the numbers.






I'm not sure where 23andMe is getting the numbers.  A tester answers (or doesn't) questions about themselves, including their current residence.  With the worldwide totals, hundreds of my DNA relatives are unnacounted for.  Maybe people did not answer this question and are not tallied in this breakdown.

Another important factor is that 23andMe (and direct-to-consumer DNA testing) is not available in every country in the world.  According to its website, 23andMe ships to over fifty countries; health reports are not available in most of them.  So if your DNA relatives live in a country that 23andMe cannot ship to, or does not offer the health information interpretation, you have diminished chances of finding these relatives in your matches.

If 23andMe wanted to be more useful for genealogy, it would bring back the profile pages of participants and allow searching and sharing of genomes with people not on your list of matches, currently called "DNA Relatives."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Preston DNA Double Match

A new DNA cousin appeared among my matches at Ancestry.com.




He also matched two known Preston cousins at this site.  He displayed his name, which is unusual, so I was able to identify him as a descendant of Hannah Preston (1888-1935), a sister of my great grandmother, Anna Preston (1890-1921).

Ancestry enables people to link their DNA profile to a person in a family tree.  This DNA match did not do this, but his non-DNA Ancestry profile page offered a link to a small tree.



I started with the one person in the family tree who had a name.  I quickly uncovered that the mother of the only identified person was Jane Pearl (or Pearl Jane) Preston, born around 1903 in Kentucky.  This is not where I expected the match to be.  I followed this line over many generations through Virginia to Philip Preston (1711-1774), who came from Staffordshire, England, according to his Find A Grave page.

I saw no intersection with my Preston line from (County Wicklow?) Ireland to New York and New Jersey.

The family tree of this DNA match can be extended to include Prestons on two separate branches.



We need more research and more DNA comparisons to decide where the shared segment of DNA came from and if these two Preston lines arose from the same ancestor.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Preston DNA Puzzle Piece

Michael Preston and Ann were my fourth great grandparents.  Their existence is seen only in the death certificate of their son, Michael Preston.  He was born about 1820 in Ireland and died in 1904 in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey.  His first appearance in the United States is the 1850 federal census for Pine Plains, Dutchess County, New York, where he is single, residing with the Thomas family.

Michael's death certificate does not provide a surname for his mother.

In the 1850s, Michael Preston married Catherine Donnell (or Donnelly) of Ireland and had several children.  I descend from their son, John D Preston (1857-1928).

I have found no one in the Pine Plains area with familial connections to my Prestons.  There was a Stephen Preston (1824-1896).  His death certificate lists his father as John Preston; mother unknown.



Then a DNA match appeared at FamilyTreeDNA to my uncle and his first cousin.  This DNA cousin's great great great grandmother was Ann Preston, born around 1827 in Ireland.  She first appeared in Pine Plains in the 1855 New York State census.  She married John Barrett (1825-1894).





The common ancestors of my uncle and his cousin were Frank ODonnell (1888-1959) and Anna Preston (1890-1921), telling us that the match will be found in this branch of the family tree.  Other Preston descendants are also at FamilyTreeDNA, but this DNA cousin does not appear in their list of matches.  This does not mean that they don't share DNA.  There are also more Preston descendants at Ancestry.com, but we cannot utilize DNA held at a different site.  If everyone could upload to GedMatch, we could check for shared segments.

Sharing a surname and a geographic location with the DNA match makes Preston and Pine Plains an excellent place to look for the connection.

The DNA match has a record for the death in 1892 of Ann Preston, wife of John Barrett, from the town of Pine Plains, naming her parents as Michael Preston and Ann Hadden.

Could Ann Preston, born about 1827, be a sister to my Michael Preston, born about 1820?  Maybe.

So far, I have found no connection between them.  No newspaper article mentioning cousins.  Never living together in the census.




We don't know where in Ireland Preston came from.  In County Wicklow, we have some possible matches.

In 1823 and 1826, a couple named Michael Preston and Anne baptized a son, Michael, and a daughter, Anne, respectively, in Baltinglass.  Both had a special notation- looks like Ballinarow or Barinarow.  Sponsors for Michael look like Pat Toley and Mary Reddy.  Sponsors for Ann look like Ready and Mary Haydon.








Here's the part that gets me on these Irish surnames.  In nearby Ballymore Eustace, in 1824 Michael Preston and Anne baptized a son, Michael.  Sponsors were John Burke and Anna Quirk.  Do either of these records belong to my ancestor?





Are my ancestors Michael Preston and Anna Hadden?
And were they from County Wicklow?

Did the same couple move between parishes to baptize a son (or sons) named Michael?

We need some more records before we can decide that Ann Preston (1827-1894) connects to my Preston branch as a sister of Michael, my Third Great Grandfather.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Extending the Correct DNA Circle

The day after I wrote about an AncestryDNA Circle for the wrong ancestor, Mary Evenshirer, another descendant of hers appeared in my matches.


To see the shared segments, this person will need to upload her DNA file to GedMatch.com.
Ancestry.com still does not provide a chromosome browser, thereby limiting the use of these DNA tests.

This person is my father's third cousin.  The common ancestors are Stephen C Duryea (1814-1887) and Mary Evenshirer (1842-1916).


This person will not appear in the DNA Circle because her family tree does not extend back to this couple.  (Unless she adds them to her family tree.)


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ancestry DNA Circle for the Wrong Ancestor

Finally I am placed in an Ancestry.com DNA Circle.






The common ancestor surprised me:  Mary Evenshirer.  Nobody else has this surname, except maybe Mary's father, John Evenshirer, who likely died in New York City in the 1840s.


Ancestry offered this explanation of a DNA Circle.  I crossed out the part where the evidence went astray:  Mary Evenshirer had no children with Alfred Eyre.



Mary Evenshirer was my 3rd great grandmother.  Mary was born around 1842 in New York City and was probably the only surviving child of Rene Brewer (1824-1904) from Rene's marriage to John Evenshirer.  Rene remarried to George W Duryea (1823-1864) and in 1848 their first child was born, Letty Jane (died 1889).

From there, more chances for a mis-step.  Mary Evenshirer married Stephen C Duryea (1814-1887), a brother of George Duryea, and 28 years her senior.  He was a step-uncle, if such a relation exists.

Letty Jane Duryea, the half-sister of Mary Evenshirer, married Alfred DeCiplet Eyre (1848-1912) in New York City in 1868.  Letty died in Jersey City in 1889.  In 1890, Mary Evenshirer, then widowed, remarried to Alfred Eyre, her half-sister's widower.

Previously a cousin was found via DNA testing on Ancesty.  She is in the DNA Circle.

The DNA Circle links Fanny Duryea's descendant, "C J," to me.



She descends from Stephen Duryea and Mary Evenshirer's daughter, Fanny Duryea (1875-1943), who married Judson Cooke Drake (1877-1938).  My line descends from Stephen and Mary's son, Abraham Brewer Duryea (1878-1944), who married Nellie Cummins (1879-1965).  [Disposition of Nellie's ashes is unknown.]



Another cousin was also located via AncestryDNA.  He descends from Stephen and Mary's daughter, Jeanette Lent Duryea (1868-1939), who married Charles Hughes Quackenbush (1862-1947).  The family tree of this cousin is only three generations, with no mention of any of the surnames I discuss here; predictably, he was missed from this Ancestry DNA Circle.



The DNA Circle formed because a  cluster of three people surfaced at Ancestry with Mary Eyre or Mary Duryea in their trees.  Their trees did not extend back into the Brewer and Duryea lines, hence no shaky leaf designation that we share a common ancestor.  But somehow the threshold was met for a DNA Circle.











The common ancestor with this group of three people would not be Mary Evenshirer.  They descend from Mary's half-sister, Letty Jane Duryea, wife of Alfred DeCiplet Eyre.  The common ancestors would be Mary and Letty's mother, Rene Brewer AND from the other line, Garrett S Duryea (1777-1834) and Ann Cornell (1789-1871), the parents of Stephen C Duryea and George W Duryea.





Ancestry picked up on a common relation among the five of us, but chose the wrong common ancestor.  The actual family tree is tricky, as I outlined above.  Ancestry DNA Circles does not replace researching the family tree.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Rest of the Family's DNA at My Heritage

The other twenty DNA files that I uploaded to My Heritage have processed after a week.

My own kit processed first within two days, showing a close match in the second to third cousin range.  After the files of my parents were processed, this mystery cousin showed up in my father's matches with around the same amount of shared DNA as I share with this person.


Now that I know the match comes from my father's side, I have better direction.  I built out this cousin's family tree, but I do not see the connection yet.  I sent follow-up inmail to the administrator of the account, but have not heard back.

We need to see where the shared segments of DNA fall on my father's genome.  There may already be identified ancestors.  This cousin does not appear in the matches of the cousins I uploaded, but that does not mean that the match is not through one of those branches.



My paternal aunt has a possible promising match not shared by the other siblings:  110 cM total, with the longest segment 79 cM.  Again, without a chromosome browser, I can't rely on these numbers.




My mother has a match in the second to third cousin range.  I don't recognize him from any other other testing companies.  Let's hope he answers my inmail.




My mother has the most matches of anyone I uploaded- just under 100 matches.  She has thousands of matches at the other three main testing companies: 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and Ancestry.com.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Waiting on Family Tree Maker Update

I use Family Tree Maker software to organize ancestors (and some living people).

MacKiev, the same company who brings us Mavis Beacon typing lessons, recently acquired Family Tree Maker.

The joy of this particular program is that it aligns with Ancestry.com.  Shaking leaves show possible record matches at Ancestry.  The tree on your computer can be synced to your tree on Ancestry for the world to see.

An interim upgrade was offered until MacKiev's new 2017 version is released.  Still waiting on that 2017 release.  Ancestry.com trees cannot be updated using the 2014.1 version.  (You can still change your tree directly on Ancestry.com.)



But there is hope.  Tonight an email offered me a chance to be a beta tester of the 2017 version.  If I become a beta tester, it looks like I have a small window of time in which to try to update my Ancestry.com trees.




So I signed up.



I should be notified tomorrow if chosen.





Via the sign up process, I learned where to find some interesting facts about the tree, such as average life span (66 years!), generations (17), and the oldest birth date (John Stronge, born 1585 in Somerset, England).





I need to read Russ Worthington's blog more to learn more about Family Tree Maker's capabilities.


Friday, April 21, 2017

DNA at My Heritage


Based on a recommendation over at Your Genetic Genealogist, I uploaded DNA test results to My Heritage.  This is (currently) a free service.

The site offers its own DNA testing.  They do not have a pool of customers comparable to the big three (23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and Ancestry.com/DNA), so you will not have as many matches.  There have also been questions concerning how My Heritage computes matches.

Because My Heritage has its own testing service, some people may have tested only at that particular site.  If you are looking for a recent non-parental even (which is my situation), then it's worth checking out this other database.

You never know where the missing link tested his/her DNA.  (And didn't transfer the results to any other site.)

So far, only my results are computed.  I have 45 matches at My Heritage.  For comparison, I have thousands of matches at the other sites.

My top match is probably a good one.  I like the information displayed:
-shared percentage
-total centimorgans
-longest segment
-possible range of relationship
-age of match
-direct link to match in the family tree

I don't see a chromosome browser.  Without seeing the actual shared segments, there is nothing else I can do with this match if we don't see commonality in our family trees.

When my parent's results are in, this match should appear near the top of either my mother's or my father's matches, providing more direction.




I still do not like the family tree display at My Heritage.  It explodes into siblings and spouses instead of direct ancestors and drops where you were in the tree.  The default setting displays women by the surnames of their husbands.  You can change this, but most people don't.  I don't need to see a woman's husband's name twice.  I need to see her name.

Further displeasure arrived in an email, encouraging me to add an entire branch to my tree with just a few clicks.  Folks, this is not how genealogical research is done.





Sunday, April 9, 2017

Interactive Family Tree: Places of Birth

This article follows up a previous discussion of a family tree tool by Bradford F Lyon, available (free) at his site.

Places of birth is a new display option.  You can display flags of countries (for a screen shot see my blog post about ethnic calculations based on DNA) or more specific locations, such as states of the United States.

The idea is similar to My Colorful Ancestry created in an Excel spreadsheet.  The bonus of the Lyons tool is that the result is interactive.  You can choose to highlight a specific place, which then blinks to draw your attention to ancestors from that location.


Interactive places of birth family tree
Courtesy of Bradford F Lyon


Ancestors of David Lutter
Highlighting those born in Connecticut.
His ancestors were concentrated in New Jersey and New York.



Zeroing in on a place of birth can help visualize migration paths.  If you are planning a research trip, you can see at a glance which branches were in your intended destination so you can look for their records.

And for the DNA pursuits, you can quickly find an ancestor or branch that was in a specific geographic location.  Surnames, matching or not, is not enough.  You need an intersection of geography and time.



Another new feature is selecting an ancestor and then displaying the direct line of descent to the home person.

Interactive family tree to display direct line of descent
Courtesy of Bradford F Lyon






In the above screenshots, I chose my father's eighth great grandmother, Mary Chittenden (1645-1712), from Connecticut.  From there, you can display these eleven generations all the way to today, ending with the home person, my father.  The information includes their lifespan.