30 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Roy Sr., Betty & Lloyd (?) Albea

Anyone Want A Family Finder Coupon?

     I received a bunch of emails from FamilyTreeDNA yesterday, offering me coupon codes for their Family Finder test.  With the code, customers can purchase the Family Finder test for $179 (a savings of $110!). The only fine print it that each code can be used once and must be used by June 10th. Remember that the FF test can be taken by both men and women and finds cousins on all lines of the family tree, as well as an geographic origins breakdown.

    I'm holding a few of the codes for myself, but still have 6  2 codes to offer up for the first six  next two people who contact me (email vrc84@yahoo.com). I'll edit this space if I run out of codes.

23 May 2012

Finding Connections in the Final Episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are?'

     I was excited to watch the final episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are?,' knowing that Paula Deen's episode would cover Georgia genealogy. I was surprised at how closely the story shown in this episode mirrored a branch of my own family tree.

     Paula's 4x Great Grandfather, John Batts, had a lot in common with my 5x Great Grandfather, Willis Craft. The most remarkable connection: they both served in the Georgia House of Representatives as pro-slavery Democrats from 1857-1858. Paula did some research at the Georgia Archive, similar to what I've done, including using their General Name File. Here's a photo I had taken of my ancestor's card, as well as a screenshot of Paula's ancestor:

     Paula learned that after the war John Batts suffered, due to his politics pre-war and a bad economy. The listing for Willis Craft in the 1870 census lacks estate and property value information and I have not seen tax information from this time. However I imagine that my ancestor suffered much like Paula's did.  He lost his ten slaves, which were valued at $8,800 in a 1860 tax record. If he managed to maintain his land during the war, it would now cost him a lot more to cultivate it.

     Due to their political activity, both John Batts and Willis Craft, would have needed to seek a pardon from the post-war government to participate in certain activities, such as voting. John did this, and can be found in ancestry.com databases for a pardon and voter registration. For some reason Willis chose not to seek a pardon and never re-registered to vote, though his sons were registered.

     John Batts died in 1879 of suicide after economic ruin. Willis Craft died in 1874 at age 64, only a few months after selling 320 acres of his property, on which he lived, to his son, John. In the land deed, it is specified that Willis and his wife, Martha, will live on and cultivate the property until they died.  I always thought it a bit strange that Willis didn't just will the property to his son, though Willis actually left no will at all. Perhaps he needed the money to pay off personal debts? Somehow, I am under the impression that Willis was in financial difficulty.

16 May 2012

A Half-Brother's DNA

      During Family Tree DNA's recent DNA Day Sale, I purchased a Family Finder test for my half-brother, Allen. Since I'd already done a y-DNA test for him, he still had a DNA sample on file. Thanks to this, I was able to get his test results back in less than a month.

     You can see the chromosome chart on the left, which shows the DNA I share with my brother. Because we share only one parent, we share less DNA than full siblings: an average of 25% vs 50%.

     Allen and I share 1,610.77 centiMorgans of DNA in 51 segments. What's this mean? Honestly it can be hard to understand. For me, this number has the most meaning when seen in comparison to other results. For example, my mom shares 2377.55 and 2324.45 with her full brothers.

     This is one aspect where I think 23andMe's results are better, as they present these results as a percentage. It can makes DNA results easier to understand for the average customer. Another problem is that this chromosome view does not differentiate the difference between full and half chromosome matches (which again, is something that 23andMe does do).  Thus, the ftDNA chromosome chart of full and half siblings resemble each other in a somewhat misleading way.

     I'm getting a little off topic, but look at the different ways that the DNA comparison between my mom and one of her brother's is represented by the two different companies. On the left, ftDNA shows similarities in orange. On the right, 23andMe shows similarities in light blue and dark blue (half and full  matches, respectively). The match areas are the same, but 23andMe gives more detailed results.

     Other results from my brother's DNA test include his population finder results:

13 May 2012

Mother's DNA

     Having tested my mom, her paternal aunt and a female paternal cousin, I have mtDNA results for three different lines in my family tree. Remember that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down from mothers to their children, both male and female. The female children then in turn pass it down to their children. Thus, everyone has mtDNA, regardless of gender.

     The only "major" maternal line I'm missing is my paternal grandmother's. Since I have my dad's DNA "on file" at ftDNA, I could find it out if I wanted to spend the money.

Evans - J1c2c

Britt - ?

Witt - H3

Albea - U5a1b1

     I'm interested in all aspects of DNA, but really haven't done much with my mtDNA results. MtDNA can be harder to trace, since it doesn't follow a single surname and it changes much less often than yDNA, which can lead to very distant matches.  It can still be useful though... I just haven't used it.

     Two sets of results, Evans and Witt, were obtained through 23andMe, which does not provide details, such as markers, matches with other users or public member groups.  I really don't have any reason not to pursue my Albea results at ftDNA, which does provide all of those features.

     At the least, I can see where I might eventually trace these maternal lines to in Europe.

08 May 2012

23andMe Updates Their Pricing Plan

     I don't generally like to post press releases or company announcements, but I'm super excited about this one ('cause it's going to save me money!). 23andMe, with whom I have tested the DNA of myself and a number of relatives, has updated their pricing and eliminated their subscription plan. Also, I'm posting this because communication is still something 23andMe needs to work on (though they have promised to communicate these changes within the week)

Dear 23andMe Community,

Effective by the end of day this Thursday, we are eliminating subscriptions and will have a single $299 price. We listened to your feedback and now understand that subscriptions were not good for you and thus, not good for 23andMe. We want you as our partner in this genetic journey. Together we will learn about ourselves and make discoveries that will hopefully benefit all of mankind. We thank you for your feedback, your advice and your suggestions. As partners in this journey, we thank you for your trust. 

Here are some additional details:

- We will discontinue billing customers who have fulfilled their subscription commitment.

- Customers who have yet to complete their subscription commitment will continue to be billed each month until their initial contract commitment has been met. Once this commitment is met, no further subscription will be charged and you can enjoy your Personal Genome Service® on an ongoing basis.

- Customers will continue to enjoy access to all of 23andMe’s current features. In the future, 23andMe may launch premium, additive features. We want to emphasize that existing customers will not lose any product functionality with the new pricing structure.

- 23andMe does not have any immediate plans to introduce new premium fee-based features, but we expect to do so in the future.

- Through the end of May, customers interested in upgrading from v2 to v3 can do so for $199. After that it will be $249.

To upgrade, visit this page: https://www.23andme.com/user/upgrade/.

Customers impacted by these changes will be receiving emails directly from us with additional information within the next week.

If you have any questions, contact our Customer Care team: https://customercare.23andme.com/anonymous_requests/new?reference=pricechange.

Warm wishes,
23andMe CEO

03 May 2012

Ancestry.com's New DNA Test Is Here!

     Yesterday I got an email telling me that Ancestry.com was "very close to launching" their new autosomal DNA test. Turns out this is more true than I could imagine - the test is officially available today. The only catch is that you need an invitation to buy it.

     In a previous post I had commented that, "unless they have a really low price or a special offer, I won't be jumping on this right away. I'm invested in ftDNA and 23andMe right now."  Well guess what? The price is really low! The new autosomal DNA test from Ancestry.com is only $99 for subscribers. Well sign me up!

     I'm (im)patiently waiting for my invitation...


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