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Thread: Using Genetic Genealogy to Identify Research Projects

  1. #1
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    Using Genetic Genealogy to Identify Research Projects

    This is something of an offshoot of the thread in the Ancestry section on how far back we can find matches. I realized that although I've been mapping my chromosomes I haven't really gone through methodologically and determined which ancestors are confirmed through matches and which are not, and this made me realize it could help identify projects to pursue.

    I'm curious about what others have done with their matches and, if doing something similar, how far they've gotten, and if they've used it to identify puzzles or holes.

    I'm also interested in sharing notes about research puzzles that are identified.

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     Phoebe Watts (08-06-2018)

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    So to date I've managed to confirm my 4 grandparents and my 8 great-grandparents, pretty easily.

    I have a YDNA test of my dad's line (which doesn't confirm anything, more on that below). I have a 67 marker test for my mom's birth surname line, and would like to get a BigY in the future. I also would like (and have not yet identified testers for) YDNA tests of my grandmother's birth surnames.

    Moving to gg-grandparents, these were all easily confirmed too. The only new YDNA line of note is that I noticed a cousin with my maternal grandmother's birth surname (my Swedish line) is a subclade of R1b-U106, and it would likely be helpful to do more testing on this one (it's from 23andMe) and get it into a project at FTDNA.

    The hard work begins with ggg-grandparents, so next post!

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     Phoebe Watts (08-06-2018)

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    A lot of my ggg grandparents were easy to confirm, but this is where I started noticing huge differences in number of matches.

    First, the identified, but not yet frustrating holes.

    On my mom's side:

    (1) the four parents of the couple who immigrated from Sweden. I have (and she has) lots of Swedish matches, some pretty close, but it's been hard to identify the connection, because the surnames are largely still on a patronymic system. This is one possible project.

    (2) on one line, my ggg grandfather was married twice, and all my matches are from either an earlier generation or his descendants with his first wife (while I am descended from his second). Ideally I will find matches from the parents of the second wife (who are still unknown, although I know the wife's name, and it could have been a second marriage for her making the surname wrong). Possible project, but since I think I can at least be comfortable there are no paternity surprises as the wife is the unconfirmed one, I will likely table this for now.

    On my dad's side:

    (1) one set of ggg-grandparents is unconfirmed through matches with their direct descendants (other than those who go through the same child as me). The wife in that couple can be confirmed as I do have matches with several descendants of two of her siblings, but the husband is not, and I don't know anything about his parents. This is a brickwall I hadn't even realized I had, so is a family worth doing some more work on. Since I haven't really worked on it much, can't say it's frustrating or that I won't be able to find some confirming matches. (The surname is one of those ones that is constantly spelled differently: Close or Claus or Clous or Clouse, most often the final one.)

    Frustrating holes/brickwalls in the next post.
    Last edited by msmarjoribanks; 08-04-2018 at 03:51 PM.

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     Phoebe Watts (08-06-2018)

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    My most frustrating missing matches:

    Dad's side: Another set of ggg-grandparents are the parents of my immigrant ancestors on my patrilineal line. I can confirm the wife as an ancestor by going to the next generation up, as I have matches -- surprisingly high matches! -- with descendants of her parents through different siblings. But I have no matches from later generations from the husband's family. My dad also has NO Y matches in the surname project and NO Y matches that seem to be close at all (with one possible exception at 37 markers who needs more testing). At this point I don't think there's any reason to assume NPE -- more likely since the rest of the family stayed in England not so many are tested. However, I will try to trace the siblings and aunts and uncles forward. (I have a cousin who met cousins through this line in England some years ago, but I don't think any of them have tested.)

    Mom's side: And of course this other one is on my mtDNA line! One set of GGG grandparents includes an Irish immigrant who is a total brickwall, and I have no matches (other than those going through the same daughter as me) who seem to have family members with his surname. His wife (or supposed wife) is my matrilineal ancestor.

    I have made connection with a cousin who is descended from a different daughter of this couple, but he has not tested. (His family lore was that this sister and thus her parents were 100% Native American, which is clearly wrong. I can't rule out there being some mixture, but am skeptical.)

    Back to the wife, I have possible matches to her family from prior generations (shared surname, location of the matches for those on Gedmatch seems right), but they are small. I also have exchanged emails with a cousin who seems to be a male-line descendant of this GGG grandmother's uncle, but it is his brickwall too, and he also has not tested. I would like to offer to pay to see if we are matches and then to suggest he test YDNA and join the surname project, but not yet comfortable bringing this up. I think I need to develop more evidence to make it seem worthwhile.

    So the immediate projects to work on:

    Trace the patrilineal line forward from my ggg and gggg grandfathers.

    Continue fleshing out my matrilineal line ggg grandmother's family, including extended relatives.

    Also, go back to the ggg grandfather (Clouse) I had overlooked and flesh out his family. Check out the surname project if there is one.
    Last edited by msmarjoribanks; 08-04-2018 at 03:55 PM.

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     Phoebe Watts (08-06-2018)

  9. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by msmarjoribanks View Post
    This is something of an offshoot of the thread in the Ancestry section on how far back we can find matches. I realized that although I've been mapping my chromosomes I haven't really gone through methodologically and determined which ancestors are confirmed through matches and which are not, and this made me realize it could help identify projects to pursue.

    I'm curious about what others have done with their matches and, if doing something similar, how far they've gotten, and if they've used it to identify puzzles or holes.

    I'm also interested in sharing notes about research puzzles that are identified.
    I was looking forward to see some responses here. Thanks for your interesting posts – here’s my experience.

    I have been researching the family tree off and on for 25 years and had taken a Living DNA test, so I knew that my tree was consistent with my LDNA “family ancestry map”. By testing on Ancestry I was hoping to confirm as much as possible of my family tree and to fill in some gaps, especially about the father of an illegitimate gg-grandfather. I also wanted to know whether one of my Pembrokeshire ggg-grandmothers had Irish ancestry.

    I knew that there weren’t many UK tests on the database, but I knew that a second cousin once removed had tested. I also knew that lots of close relatives had emigrated to north America in the 1800s and even earlier, and I thought I would find matches to some of their descendants.

    To confirm what I already knew, I found:
    • my 2c1r as a 4-6 cousin match, and the matches we had in common confirmed a third cousin whose grandparents I knew; and more distant relatives in the US already in my tree. Those matches confirmed two sets of gggg-grandparents in Caernarvonshire and Denbighshire.
    • my closest and most numerous matches to the north American descendants of my ggg-grandfather’s daughter and his two sisters who emigrated from Carmarthenshire to Utah in the 1850s and 1870s. And matches to descendants of his siblings who stayed in Wales.
    • Over on GEDmatch, a descendant of my Glamorgan ggg-grandparents – we had met online and compared trees over ten years ago.

    And new:
    • Only five new third and fourth cousins so far – one who had known my grandparents.
    • the fifth largest match in my list, possibly a link to the unknown father of my illegitimate gg-grandfather.
    • again on GEDmatch, a GEDcom showing descent from a sibling of one of my paternal ggg-grandfathers. Research on this line has taken me back a couple of generations and identified more sibling lines and several fifth cousin matches in the UK and north America.
    • probable sixth cousins with common ancestor born 1700 in Caernarvonshire.

    So I have two or three brick walls pushed back or wobbling but the coverage for my family tree is still quite limited – I can only confirm a single third cousin in the Anglesey quarter of my tree; and a single third cousin in a Carmarthenshire/ west Glamorgan quarter.

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     msmarjoribanks (08-13-2018)

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    Thanks for joining in! I hope others do. Perhaps the LivingDNA matching when it gets started will be helpful for you, as well as some of my lines.

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    I've been using MedBetterDNA chrome extension make working with my DNA matches quicker and easier - I've gotten pretty far. I think I have about 150 matches where I've identified our MRCA, and another 300 I've been able to tell at least which branch they're on (mostly through shared matches). I'd have to count up which specific ancestors those 150 come from but most of them are from my mom's Mennonite branch since there's so much endogamy there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by msmarjoribanks View Post
    Thanks for joining in! I hope others do. Perhaps the LivingDNA matching when it gets started will be helpful for you, as well as some of my lines.
    LivingDNA matching should be interesting - I wonder if they will have large enough numbers.

    I'm still trying to use north American or Australian matches to narrow down possible connections though. My matches to other Welsh testers often show ten or more common surnames and lots of common locations. So using matches with one Welsh grandparen or great-grandparent (etc.) is likely to be more productive. The viral errors in Ancestry trees are a challenge so it is great when I can work with the descendants of emigrant relatives to avoid the errors and find a connection.

    We have had some success using sources at the National Library of Wales and County Archives that aren't available on Ancestry (some are on findmypast); using naming patterns; and using emigration patterns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobinBMc View Post
    I've been using MedBetterDNA chrome extension make working with my DNA matches quicker and easier - I've gotten pretty far. I think I have about 150 matches where I've identified our MRCA, and another 300 I've been able to tell at least which branch they're on (mostly through shared matches). I'd have to count up which specific ancestors those 150 come from but most of them are from my mom's Mennonite branch since there's so much endogamy there.
    Just wondering about the numbers of shared matches you need to have this level of success. I have ten or twenty shared matches for each match on the line where three relatives emigrated to Utah; but most other close matches are only generating one or two shared matches -if any.
    All 32 3xgreat grandparents were Welsh. Two 6xgreat grandparents from England and a few Irish or English surnames before 1800. Paper trail shows several C11th to C14th Anglo-Norman lines and C11th Norse-Irish lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoebe Watts View Post
    Just wondering about the numbers of shared matches you need to have this level of success. I have ten or twenty shared matches for each match on the line where three relatives emigrated to Utah; but most other close matches are only generating one or two shared matches -if any.
    Well, on my mom's side I have an endogamous population (Mennonites) so I think that generates more shared matches. But it's less about how many shared matches in total there are and more about how many of them you can identify. So if there's only two or three shared matches but two of them I've identified as descended from John Smith and Jane Doe, then I know that person is most probably descended from the same branch. If there's only one shared match I've identified, I take it with a grain a salt (because there is always that chance that they match the other person through different ancestors).

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