31 July 2012

First Thoughts On My AncestryDNA Results

     Today, after only 19 days in the lab, I received my AncestryDNA results. My first impressions: it's pretty, easy to navigate, has great tree integration and is severely lacking in details.

     Here's a breakdown. It's going to be long, but hopefully informative.

The Main Results Page

     On the first page, you get a summary of your ethnic genealogy and the first of your DNA matches.

     The ethnic genealogy data gives you a breakdown of your ancestry. Mine's pretty clearcut: British. Other options are Scandinavian, Central European, Finish, Persian/Turkish, West African, etc. You also get a map. In my case it's sort of superfluous, but other folks have more colorful results. There's a link to click on for Full Results.

     Next, you see your DNA matches. You can filter your matches two ways: starred (a preference set by you) and unopened (aka, you haven't clicked on them yet). Next, using the slider, you can choose which relatives you see, based on suggested relationship (ex: only 1st cousins; 4th cousins or closer; etc).  Finally you can also choose to sort by relation ship or date.  You cannot sort by name.

     Looking at a specific match, you see their Ancestry.com user name and avatar, a possible relationship range, a "confidence" percentage, the last day they logged in and, if they have a family tree, how many people are in the tree. You can then click Review Match to see more.

     This list is somewhat vague. You don't have a list of surnames or any other data to really prioritize one match over another.  Your matches are all lumped together by suggested distance. In my case I have Fourth Cousins (19) and Distant Cousins (1009). The only change is that the confidence level gets progressively lower and lower.

     Ok, but what is the confidence level based on? I assume the number and length of shared DNA segments. But Ancestry.com's results do not tell me how much DNA I share with the match, nor the chromosome that we match on. How little DNA do I share with a match to rate a very low confidence? The FAQs are no help here.

     And I knew about the lack of this data going in, but didn't realize how much it would bug me. I really, really want to be able to see the DNA I share with my match.

Ethnicity Results Detail

     Your Ethnic Genealogy Detail page expounds on the ethnic results shown on the main page. You get an expanded map, which still highlights your regions of origin, as well a pins showing the birth locations of your ancestors. You then get a detailed description of the geographic location, its history and the migration patterns of the region.  You also see a list of your matches who also have ancestry from this region.

     As far a my personal results are concerned, I expected to have more/some continental European results. My maternal grandmother has a strong Colonial German heritage which isn't reflected here. I did expect the unknown portion, which showed up in my ftDNA and 23andMe results.

 Member Match Page

     There's a lot going on here! On the top left you can see the match detail for a suggested 4th cousin. You can see his ethnic genealogy and how it compares to yours.  On the top right you can "star" the match, mark it unread/new or hide it. You also have the option to send them an email via ancestry's message system and see how long it's been since they've logged into the site.

     In the next section you see that Ancestry.com is suggesting the ancestor that I share with this match. In this case, the suggestion is wrong - but it's understandable. The two ancestors share names, have similar dates, wives named Elizabeth and both died in North Carolina only a year apart. I had to double check my tree to make sure that it wasn't a match.

     So the match is wrong - but I can't dismiss it.  I would think it would be like a hint in a family tree and have an "ignore" button, but no.  On the flip side, I don't see a way for me to select a matching ancestor. I have a match here that I share at 23andMe and ftDNA. I know how we're related but Ancestry.com didn't pick up on it. I don't see a way to mark the connection. I ended up "starring" the match.

     Next, you can see the match's family tree and surnames. This is a pretty neat feature. You can see above that the left side of the screen shows common surnames, followed by a list of all surnames. You can expand each surname to see a list of your match's ancestors. If you click on one of the names in the shared surnames section, a box will pop up to show a side by side list of your ancestors and your match's ancestors that have that name. 

     You can also switch over to a map view on this page. It puts a pin into a map to indicate the locations of your ancestors, as well as those of your match. When you hover over the pin you see detailed information about the ancestor who lived there.  This page also gives a list of locations shared between you and your match (not shown).


     There are a lot of neat features here. I'm amazed by the family tree integration features, but can still see room for improvement: being able to select and save a common ancestor; being able to reject incorrect suggested relationships; a feature to make notes about matches. 

     The biggest other improvement would be adding details regarding actual DNA segments, as mentioned above.  I like to be able to prioritize my matches and feel that I can't do this with AncestryDNA.

     I'd also like to see a more expansive FAQ. The current one is pretty basic, but so are some of the features. I'd like to see more specific information about how DNA works and how Ancestry comes up with their results.

     Right now, this set up is still in Beta. I'm hopeful that Ancestry is going to continue to make improvements on their already impressive system.

30 July 2012

5 cM, minimum (or is that 7?)

     The popular autosomal (aka "cousin finder") DNA tests are still a new science. Some folks still seem to be skeptical of the results and their accuracy. For sure, I have a ton more matches with unknown common ancestors than I do ones with known common ancestors. But in general, I'm optimistic about my overall match list (1,003 at 23andMe, 290 at ftDNA).

     In general, a "real" match shares at least a 5 centiMorgan segment (or 7cM; depends who you're talking to).  That doesn't mean that matches with less DNA aren't real, just that they might not be... Our DNA recombinants; it mixes up. The smaller cM segments might just be a recombination that happens to have gotten mixed into a segment that looks like a match with someone else.

     The two major companies have taken this into consideration and you won't receive matches that have a smaller than 5 cM segment.  FamilyTreeDNA shows matches at 5 cM. For some people who prefer the 7 cM limit, this means that they might ignore some of their ftDNA matches.  23andMe shows them at 7 cM. However you can choose to share data with people who do not share enough DNA to be on your match list, but with whom you might share smaller segments (more on this later).  You can also see smaller matches if you upload your data to Gedmatch.com, which allows you to choose your own settings. They recommend a minimum of 7 cM.

     But those little segments aren't actually worthless. Each segment of DNA you have in common is yet another piece of evidence of the relationship. Say you have a match with one segment of 5 cM. Is that the only DNA you have in common? Or do you also have a smattering of 3 cM segments? It does offer up a tiny bit more proof of a relationship.

     As a visual example, look at a match from my Great-Aunt Ree's list at ftDNA. She shares a total of 73.75 cM with a confirmed third cousin. Their longest segment is 23.89 cM, more than enough to be a "real" match. But she has a number of other segments that are much smaller (3cM or less). These segments add credence to the match, but on their own wouldn't be enough to confirm a relationship.

                                           5 cM                                                      Additional cM

     So matches with a minimum of 5-7 cM are reliable matches.  How much DNA do you need to share with a match to have a chance at finding a common ancestor?  For me, I have a confirmed common ancestor with someone who shares 26.76 cM, with the longest segment being 8.75 cM. We are 6th cousins.
     I mentioned before that you can share data with 23andMe users who do not appear on your match list.  Say you search for surnames on the site. You see a person who has one of your surnames in their profile. If they aren't already in your match list, it's because you don't share at least 7 cM of DNA (or you are capped out at 1,000 matches) You can send them a request to share DNA.  If you view this person's DNA in "Relative Finder: Advanced," you might find that you share a small 4 cM segment or less.

     A segment of this size is not enough to prove a relationship - but might hint at one.  This is where testing multiple relatives comes in common. Say I share only a 3 cM segment. My mom might share 5 cM. My Great-Aunt might share 10 cM.  If I had not test my mom or my Great-Aunt, I wouldn't be able to see the larger segments and would not have good evidence of the relationship.

     So take-away here: trust the segments of 5 cM (or 7!) or larger and test multiple relatives. Hopefully this information was helpful and good luck cousin hunting!

29 July 2012

Try To Kill Her Husband? Just Wait Till She Gets Her Revenge

     In 1918 someone tried to murder my 3x Great Uncle, Walter Sprouse. According to a newspaper article that I found, Walter was taking an active role in speaking out against illegal stills. Someone ambushed him at night while he was attending to his mules and shot him in the face and neck. The wounds were not severe enough to kill him, but did put him in the hospital.  The newspaper article reports that the sheriff was worried about vigilante violence in the wake of the shooting.

     Apparently his wife, Mary, wasn't going to stand for the attack on her husband. A few months later, she got her revenge. This newspaper article is quite humorous. (numerous typos copied from the original)

"Women of Lincoln In War On Stills
Visit Site of Moonshine Manufactory to Destroy It-Bent on Running Out Corn Liquor.
     Athens, Ga., September 21. Deputy Inspector Scott Jackson of the U. S. Intermal Revenue department Friday received a message from the revenue headquarters in Atlanta to proceed immediately to Lincoln county, Ga., where according to reports received by the Athens office, several moonshine stills were in operations. Accompanied by Deputy Collector M. F. Kimsey, Mr Jackson made a hurried trip to the place where the still were supposed to be located, about eight miles northwest of Lincoln. Approaching the place slowly and cautiously, the officers esiped two women, with dinner pails in their hands, making their way in the direction of a clump of woods. 
     The first though that flashed across the minds of the deputies was that the women were carring dinner to their husbands who, perhaps, were making moonshine in the secluded woods. They decided to advance cautiously and surprise the moonshiners as they were in the act of eating their noonday meal.  Creeping throug the underbrush, they finally arrived at the place where the women were apparently headed and found to their consternation the women whom they thought were aiding the illict distillers, hammering a way with all their might in a determined effort to destroy the still.
     The revenue officers were agreeable surprised and upon questioning the women, who reluctantly gave up their job to the officers, ascertained that one of them, Mrs. Walter Sprouse, was the wife of a prominent Lincoln county farmer who was shot by the moonshiners in that vicinity last winter because he had been a leader in waging a war against their illicit operation.
                                                                 Ben on Breaking up Still.
     Mrs. Sprouse was accompained by Mrs. McLain and they told the story of how the moonshiners had been operating within a short disance of their homes and after the citizens of the county had tried time after time to run them out, had continued making the stuff that was undermining the young men of the community, grieving their mothers, and sending many of them to their untimely graves.
     The lives of some of the brightest and most promising young men of the community had been almost wrecked, and homes that had been the center of happiness and b liss had been transformed into a veritable hell. These good women had seen the suffering mothers and sweethearts, and with their husbands had waged a campaign against the outlaws without avail. But they did not give up. They finally decided to take the law into their own hands and when they were found by the revenue officers they were accomplished just what they had set out to do.
     The officers had hardly completed the destruction of the still when the sound of several shots rent the air. They admonished the women to make a hasty retreat to their homes, but they found they were not dealing with women of the hysterical type; these women had seen too many homes made unhappy at the hands of the moonshiners and they took their place on the top of a knoll and watched the revenue officers as they completed their work. It was a mighty lucky thing for the officers that they did, for they had hardly reached the top of the hill when they discovered a man pistol in hand, crouching beneath some underbrush.
                                                                   Gun in Dinner Pail.
     Then the dinner pail mystery was solved. Quick as a flash, the hand of Mrs. McLain reached to the dinner pail she was carrying and instead of a Georgia yam, she brought forth a shining six shooter and emptied its contents in the direction of the fleeing moonshiner who upon seeing the women had vaulted several bushes and carried his carcass toward tall timbers.
     Deputy Jackson states that these women were as cool as the officers and while the moonshiners were signalling one another with pistol shots fired in rapid succession, the women showed no signs of being frightened and showed the officers where they could capture another still.
     The section where these stills were located is thickly populated but in some manner the moonshiners had succeeded in keeping their secrets from the county officers. They were aided in doing this no doubt by locating their outfits some distance from a stream, using wells for their waters supply."

Articles from the Augusta Chronicle, Augusta, Georgia.

28 July 2012

Re-Draw: Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit Winner

     Well, the original winner of the Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit did not leave contact information and has not contacted me.  I've done a re-draw for the kit and the new winner is #3, LukeTgr. Please contact me within three days (Tuesday, Jul 31st) to claim your prize. You can contact me at vrc84@yahoo.com or via Twitter, @ValerieC84.

27 July 2012

Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit Winner

     I have not yet received communication from the winner of the Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit winner, comment #6, missham. Please contact me by noon tomorrow (Sat Jul 28th, eastern) or a new winner will be selected. I can be reached at vrc84@yahoo.com or via twitter as @ValerieC84.

25 July 2012

A is for Addlepated

          1. Befuddled; confused.
          2. Eccentric; peculiar.
          3. Senseless; mad.

     Sometimes genealogy research can drive me crazy. I think it's safe to say that all genealogists can think of numerous moments when they would describe themselves as addlepated. You hit a brick walls, take wrong turns and learn crazy, but true, things about your ancestors. A genealogist has to be patient and accepting... and a sense of humor helps. This isn't an easy hobby where you can just sit back and relax. Genealogy research takes dedication and acceptance of the knowledge that there's no promise that you will ever answer your most burning questions.  But hang it there; it's worth it.

     I'm a little late to the party, but am joining the "Family History Through the Alphabet" Challenge

An Albea autDNA Match

     I checked my mom's FamilyTreeDNA matches yesterday, sorting my date to view the newest matches. She had received 14 new matches on July 18th and one of them got me really excited.  She had a predicted 5th Cousin - Remote Cousin match with a Ms Hauch, who had Albea and Glaze listed in her surname list. This is the first time I've found a match with someone who shared the Albea name in their family tree.  Researching my mother's maiden name had been particularly difficult, so it's great to make this connection.  We are both descendants of Tilman Albea and Julia "July" Glaze.

      Here are the DNA segments that Ms Hauch shares with my Great-Aunt (3rd cousin), my mom and her brothers (3rd cousin, 1x removed) and me (3rd cousin, 2x removed). 

23 July 2012

A New DNA Cousin Match

     I discovered a new DNA cousin match today at 23andMe. The account that I run for my cousin Anne was contacted by Charles. He and I are predicted 5th cousins in the Relative Finder results, while he and Anne are predicted 4th cousins. I accepted the request and saw the exact DNA segments that we shared. He and Anne share more DNA than he and I share:

     Charles had contacted Anne when he recognized the Cash and Campbell surnames from her profile.  I sent him our family tree and he quickly recognized our connection: Moses Cash and Nancy Hudson.  I'm descended from their daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah; Anne from Sarah; Charles from Mary. Charles and Anne are fifth cousins while Charles and I are fifth cousins once removed. I drew this chart to show the relationship:

     It's interesting that even though I should have more Cash DNA than Annette and Charles, they are more closely related genetically. In the end, it's all about how much DNA we have in common.

Winner of the Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit

     Last Monday I announced a contest to win an Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit, consisting of a 6 month US Deluxe Membership and a copy of Family Tree Maker.  I received seven entries and chose the winner by picking a random number (random.org).

      The winner is comment number 6 from missham. Congratulations! Please contact me within 3 days at vrc84@yahoo.com to claim your prize. Please send your name, address, phone number and whether you need the Mac or PC version of the software.

16 July 2012

Enter to Win an Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit

     Thanks to Ancestry.com, I have been given the chance to run a contest for my blog readers. A lucky winner will receive an Ancestry.com Genealogy Kit, consisting of a 6 month US Deluxe Membership to Ancestry.com and a copy of FTM 2012 for either Mac or PC  These two prizes combined allow genealogists to research and create a family tree on their desktop and simultaneously maintain that same family tree online at Ancestry.com.

     All you need to do is leave a comment, explaining what you hope to discover about your family history if you win the prize.  The deadline for entering the contest is Sunday, July 22nd at 11:59 pm est. The winner will be announced within 24 hours of that time.

     I encourage everyone to please share a link to this contest with their friends and on any social media sites.

Notice: I am a paying Ancestry.com subscriber. The option to run this contest was given to those designated as "Ancestry Aces" via email. In return for running this contest I will receive a copy of FTM for myself. Contest is not open to my relatives.

13 July 2012

More 1940 Census Records on Ancestry.com - Including Georgia!

     I just got an email from Ancestry.com that 15 more states had been added to their 1940 Census collection. Included in these states is one I'm really excited about: Georgia. (Also added: Alabama, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington or Wisconsin)

     For the most part, I have already found most of my Georgia ancestors in the 1940 Census - but those are my Dad's relatives. They were farmers who sat in the same place for a few hundred years and made things easy. My mom's ancestors on the other hand... talk about mobile.  It's not like they were moving all over the country; they just moved down this street and up this other one and maybe across town or to the neighboring state for just a few months. And they did this constantly.

     I had multiple addresses cir 1940 in which to look for my Great-Great Grandparents, Leverett and Louise Waters. They were nowhere to be found. I did find their daughter (my great-grandmother), one of the their daughters-in-law (sans husband) and Leverett's sister-in-law (sans husband).

     With today's addition of Georgia into Ancestry's 1940 Census collection, I was able to find Leverett and Louise. I learned that Leverett apparently never had any official schooling (which I had guessed based on his shakily printed signature) and Louise had only four years. At the time Leverett was working as a barber and Louise stayed at home. Their youngest boy, Jack, was still at home.

     Now let's just South Carolina indexed and I'll be happy!

12 July 2012

Sometimes You Just Have To Do It Yourself

     I had requested photos of the graves of my 5x Great-Grandparents, Thomas and Rachel Albea, some time ago on FindAGrave.com. I very quickly received a photo of what was left of Rachel's stone. It consisted of the top portion of her stone, which contained only her name, encased in cement. There was no response regarding Thomas' grave. After more than a year, I deleted the initial request and re-posted it, which sent out new emails to volunteers.  I was very excited to receive an email announcing that the stone had been photographed, only to be disappointed when the photo was of another Thomas Albea (a hundred years too young!). It seemed that my Thomas Albea did not have a headstone. But I wanted to find out for sure.

     So what's a genealogist to do? Plan a vacation around visiting the cemetery of course.

     With my mom, I drove 268 miles to the Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Harmony, Iredell, North Carolina.  There I found this picturesque church and cemetery:

     The cemetery wasn't large, but of course the stone for Rachel Albea was in the last corner of the cemetery that I looked in.  The photo that I had previously received on FindAGrave.com made it much easier to find the correct grave.  I was then able to take my own photo of Rachel's grave:

     I then looked around for Thomas' grave, which apparently two volunteers had already been unable to find. Don't know why... it was the stone to the left of Rachel.  It was hard to read, but it was the most likely choice. It took a minute to decipher, but there he was. And it had a strange yellow moss on it which, when gently brushed away, made the stone easy to read (maybe not as much in this photo, but in the closeup photo it's great).

     Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. And to commemorate the effort: a photo of me and my ancestor's grave.

09 July 2012

The AncestryDNA Kit

     I was very happy to check the mail today and find my AncestryDNA kit from Ancestry.com.  I ordered this seven days ago, so it arrived with decent timing. It's the spit kit, like 23andMe has.  You spit into a tube, release a solution into it that's stored into the cap, and then put it in a pre-paid envelope. Easy!  From what I've seen online, results are coming back in about four week.  Fingers crossed!  Here are some photos:

08 July 2012

Prepping for My Trip

     I'm on vacation, starting Monday.  I only have one genealogy themed activity planned, but most activities are history related.  I just got my new iPhone on Thursday and have been prepping it for my trip. A friend showed me how to create folders for my apps, so I created a 'Genealogy' folder, as well as a 'Navigation' folder.

My Navigation apps include:
  • Maps 
    • Maps Default
    • TeleNav GPS Plus
    • MapQuest
  • Destinations
    • Travel NC (my destination)
    • iExit
    • Parks Guide
    • Roadside
    • Oh Ranger! ParkFinder
My Genealogy apps include:
  • BillionGraves
  • Ancestry
  • 23andMe
  • Evernote
  • Blogger
  • iTalk
  • GA Marker 

     Does anyone have any suggestions for helpful apps for either category? For navigation apps, I'm especially interested in apps like 'Roadside' that help me find spur-of-the-moment attractions. For genealogy apps, anything that would help with recording visits to places or with family. I haven't had a chance to try all of these out yet, so any advice is welcome.

02 July 2012

FamilySearch Indexing Daily Stats

     Since 8pm est yesterday, I've indexed 560 names and arbitrated 760 names, all from the 1940 census.  As a whole, 5,412,976 names have been indexed and 2,276,204 have been arbitrated.

     The goal of 5 million names was reached 14 hours into the challenge. I'm thinking that we could actually reach 10 million names if everyone keeps up the hard work.

     But those number I mentioned above, you might wonder where those came from? FamilySearch is listing occasional updates on Facebook and Twitter, but you don't need to wait for them to know the numbers. You can check them out any time at https://indexing.familysearch.org/rss?listType=todaypage. And change "todaypage" to "yesterdaypage" to see the previous day's stats.  For comparison, yesterday 2.3 million names were indexed in a 24 hour period, versus the 5.4 million so far today (17 hours).

    Congrats and keep up the good work folks (and feel free to index some Georgia and South Carolina 1940 Census records!)

Got My AncestryDNA Invite.... Er, Not Quite

     Happy dance! I got my invite for the new autosomal AncestryDNA test!  It's my last chance (when was my first chance?), today only.  And I have the money right now.  Yay!  Not.

     I got this error message when I clicked the link in the email.  I very quickly called customer support, which told me that I had received the invitation in error.  Error!? The rep on the phone seemed to know exactly what was going on, so I'm thinking that this has happened before. But he assured me that I was still on the list.

    Talk about going from high to low in zero seconds flat.  I'm super disappointed.  I kinda think that unless this email was sent out en masse to a few hundred thousand people that Ancestry.com should honor the invite they sent me. If it did go out to everyone they need to push through a retraction email pronto.

     UPDATE: I just got a phone call from an ancestry.com rep who said that the email had gone out to some folks in error but that since it was their error they offered to let me go ahead and purchase the test.  Yay! Thanks Ancestry.com!

     Here's the email I received:


Related Posts with Thumbnails