My name is Ellen Thompson-Jennings and I’m the creator of the Family History Hound. I discovered a passion for genetic genealogy and although I’m not an expert I think my deep dive into the subject may help others with their quest. So please follow my blog and my journey to find out more about genealogy and genetic genealogy.
We’re heading out on our yearly Road Trip to Ontario to attend theOGS Genealogy Conference in Guelph. Shop the Hound will be in the Marketplace June 1-3.
So back to The DNA Angel Project – May Edition. We decided that because three of the DNA companies will be represented at the conference we’ll give you a chance to win the DNA kit of your choice. So the winner will be able to choose from a LivingDNA, AncestryDNA or MyHeritage DNA kit.
All DNA kits have been purchased by Shop the Hound and we’d like to give one of our stash to you (we bought them all at RootsTech .
Don’t worry Shop the Hound will give the rest of the kits away during upcoming DNA Angel Draws.
To enter this month’s draw you just need to click HERE
Right now it seems my life is about connecting with cousins and in both cases, it was through DNA. But let’s go back to how this all occurred. In 2015 I received a message via Ancestry from a lady that went like this;
I just recently had the DNA test done and you popped up as my relative. I was quite surprised when I saw your list of relatives and recognized the names!
From that time we corresponded off and on and she’s now taken some of the information I had in my tree and updated it to her own tree. Then last year she sent me a note that one of her uncles had died and an aunt had been left all the family photos. She suggested that I give her aunt, Bonnie (my mom’s cousin) a call. I did call but the aunt was busy with other things so our meeting didn’t take place. Then last week I thought I’d give her a call again and see what we could set up.
I’m sure you know what they say when you assume things. Well, I assumed that my cousin would be around the age of my mom as one of Bonnie’s sister had been my mom’s bride’s maid. My mom would have been 82 this year. Little did I know that this cousin of my mom would only be 5 years older than me. We met on Sunday and had a wonderful visit. Of course, I took my Flip-Pal® Scannerand with it I was able to scan all the photos that Bonnie had of her branch of the family.
Bonnie’s family was much like my mom’s side of the family where each family member has a little archive of family photos, funeral cards and obituaries. Some of the people in the photos Bonnie had she could identify and some of the ones she didn’t know I was able to help with, and some neither of us know. But perhaps someday we will.
Here are two photos I got of my great-grandparents. But there were many others.
Ellen Middlebrough (nee Aindow) 1885-1934
Francis Johnson Middlebrough 1883 – 1966
Bonnie also confirmed some of the same stories I’d heard in my family; like the one that Madame Brough (Francis Middlesbrough’s second wife) was a mail-order bride. She even told me a couple of secrets that I hope to confirm in the future.
My Other Cousin Story
Similar to my other cousin I met this cousin again through DNA, actually, it’s my DNA cousin’s wife; Marg that I corresponded with. Her husband and daughter both connected to me and very quickly we knew how we connected. Her husband; Don was a descendant of Josephine Kottmann who was my great-grandmother; Maria’s sister. In January, Marg wrote asking if I knew that Aunt Dot had just died. Dot or Dorothy was my grandmother; Mary’s cousin and she’d died just 1 year short of living 100 years. I’d met her several years ago with my parents and she had such an impressive memory she had kept me totally enthralled with family stories. At the time I had asked my dad to go back to visit Dot and he was able to take one of her photo album to Staples. But the problem was that Dot had two photo albums; one of work and friend pictures and one of family. My dad had only scanned the work and friend’s album. I was always going to go back and ask to scan the other but my mom got ill and things happened and soon I’d forgotten.
That brings us to this year when Marg told me about Dot’s death. I wondered in my return message who had gotten that photo album. Marg said she didn’t know but she’d see. This morning I had an email from one of Marg’s nieces with two links to two albums. There were all the photos and handwritten trees.
William Stead and Josephine Kottmann (my great grandmother’s sister)
Peter Copps and family (Peter married my great grandmother’s sister; Mary Gertrude Kottmann)
So why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s because you need to try your best to connect to those DNA cousins. If you can, you may get photos that bring that tree to life.
I have been a member of the Alberta Genealogical Society since 2006. I’ve had several positions in the organization and I’m currently co-chair of the DNA Special Interest Group. But sometimes for different reasons, we can’t all join a local society. Perhaps you have limited time or perhaps your community doesn’t have a society nearby.
Then the newest venture of several of my geni friends might be exactly what you need and even want. It’s the Virtual Genealogy Society and it was launched this week. So what do you get from this Virtual Society?
24/7 access to a Members-Only section of the website
Recorded monthly webinars by nationally-known speakers
Live chat with featured speakers in the members-only Facebook group
Fillable PDF forms for family history research
Digitized monthly newsletter
Eligibility for prizes offered during monthly webinars
Access to Special Interest Group (SIG) discussions and handout
Discount on annual virtual conference registration cost
Eligibility for prizes during the annual virtual conference
Discounts on genealogy software, databases, publications and products
Members-only Facebook group for networking, mentoring and socializing
If you go to their website you’ll see they aren’t saying you shouldn’t join your local society or the society where your ancestors lived but for the low price of $20 (only $10 if you join before May 5th) you’ll have access to some fantastic speakers each month and the line-up for the virtual conference November 1-3 could only happen virtually. By doing this virtually they are able to bring some big-name genealogist together so we can learn from the comfort of our home.
Don’t get me wrong; I love going to the conferences that I do; RootsTech,Saskatchewan, AGS , Kelowna ,OGS and Medicine Hat; were and are just some of the conferences I’ll enjoy this year and next. But these conferences do cost a bit to attend and except perhaps RootsTech never have all the speakers that the Virtual Genealogy Society is advertising. So I encourage you to join. I know it will be the best $10 or even $20 you’ve spent on genealogy.
I had a lady tell me recently that she thought the best time to buy a DNA kit was on Black Friday but I’m not convinced at all as the pricing is as good and in some cases better than Black Friday.
It’s only one day until DNA Day and all the DNA companies have announced their sales with the final addition just today.
First, we hadLiving DNAwith 20% off their DNA kits but when you now click-through to purchase you’ll see the price is now $79.99 and that’s 50% off their usual $159.00 price. Offer ends April 26th.
What can I say about Living DNA that I haven’t said already? They advertise twice the detail of other Ancestry tests. This test not only covers your family line ancestry, but unlike other tests they also include your motherline, and your fatherline ancestry if you are male.
Next, we have 23andMe which is advertising their ancestry and their health kits for 30% off until April 25th.
23andMe has their Ancestry kit on for $90 U.S. and their Ancestry and Health kits on for $174. The health helps you learn more about your health, traits, and ancestry, with a package of 75+ reports that only the 23andMe service offers.
FamilyTree DNA doesn’t just have their Family Finder kits on for $49 they have all their kits on sale; including their Y-DNA and mtDNA
MyHeritage has their kits on for $69 and that’s a 30 savings.
As you’ve read recently MyHeritage is one of my new favorite DNA companies with their chromosome browser and their one-to-many tool.
There are other creative ways to buy DNA. How about Amazon? If you have prime you can purchase your kit and save on shipping. For instance, 23andMe is on sale for less on Amazon and if you have prime then your shipping would be free.
DNA Day is on April 25 but that isn’t stopping the DNA sales from getting started already. Check out our page Genealogy & DNA Treasures and find out what DNA kits are on sale. Family Tree DNA is on for $49 U.S. and 23andMe is 30% off and that just two of the offers. You can find them all HERE.
April 25 is National DNA Day so in preparation, we are going over the three types of DNA kits that you will be able to purchase. Last week we talked about Autosomal DNA and you can read the article HERE. This week lets talk about Y-DNA and mtDNA.
A Y-DNA test will provide you with your direct male line information as the Y chromosome is passed almost unchanged from father to son. YDNA also shows where you’re direct paternal ancestors came from. As you may have already guessed this test can only be completed by males.
There is only one company that I’m aware of that can provide Y-DNA testing. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA)which was started in 2000.
After you decided to do a Y-DNA test with Family Tree DNA, the next step is to decide how many markers you should test at as you can test at 37, 67 or 111 markers. As with most things, more is better. Ok, maybe not desserts. But if costs are a factor then at a minimum you’ll test 37 markers. This will tell you that yes you are related to your match but if you want to learn more, then you will have to test more markers. However, this will only help if your matches have tested to the same number of markers as you. So if you tested to 111 markers and they have only done to 37 markers then that is as much as you’ll know. If you wanted to learn more you would have to convince them to purchase an upgrade to the kit.
So why isn’t 37 markers enough? Well, it’s because the more markers you test the more accurate the relationship becomes. What you’re looking for is a low genetic distance and the greatest number of markers tested. So if you have a genetic distance of 0 at 37 markers when you test at 67 or 111 markers you’re hoping that the distance remains at 0 because that means you have a more recent ancestor with your match.
So in the case of my father whom I’ve tested at 111 markers; if you look at his 37 marker matches he didn’t have anyone that matched until very recently. At 67 markers he has two matches but they are both at a genetic distance of 7. This means that their most common ancestor is probably within 16 generations or more.. probably more like 24 generations. Both of these men have tested to 67 markers if they were to test at 111 markers they probably wouldn’t show any longer.
In the case of my brother-in-law; Don who is adopted; when we tested him at 37 markers he had one match and that was at a genetic distance of 3. A distance of 3 meant there was an 83.49% chance that their common ancestor was 4 generations away. This match helped to discover who his father was and the actual genetic distance from his match was 5 generations. I do have to say that it was with the use of the Y-DNA and his autosomal matches that I was able to determine who his father was. But it took many hours of research and also getting a few more people to test before we got there.
Speaking of upgrades, once Family Tree DNA has your sample you can upgrade the test anytime and you can also purchase other tests (such as atDNA or mtDNA) without sending another sample until such time as your sample runs out. Family Tree DNA also offers a Big Y test for the most advanced test of your Y-DNA.
The YDNA test will also provide an ancestral migration route of the genetic population of your paternal line. This is your deep ancestral roots. You will also get your paternal haplogroup information.
mtDNA provides you with your direct ancestral female line. This test can be completed by both males and females. This test is available at Family Tree DNA.For mtDNA, the levels are HVR1, HVR1+HVR2 and Coding Region, which equate to the three levels of tests that you can take. It’s my understanding that you can take the three levels of testing but if you are going to do mtDNA testing you want to opt for the highest level.
I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t done a lot of mtDNA testing on my family members. I’ve tested my father many years ago and I haven’t really done a lot with it as my dad again doesn’t have close matches. As I understand it you are looking for nothing less than a genetic distance of zero.
As I understand it mtDNA is not as helpful for genealogy purposes. But what it can do is if you have a situation where you believe two females are related via their mother’s line then by testing you would be able to confirm that.
A mtDNA will also provide an ancestral migration route of the genetic population of your maternal line. This is your deep ancestral roots. You will also receive your maternal haplogroup information.
Stay tuned and keep your eye out for posts in the upcoming weeks as the DNA companies offer special pricing for National DNA Day. You’ll be able to find them on our Genealogy & DNA Treasure page.
National DNA Day is April 25th so this week and next week’s blog will be dedicated to the three types of DNA tests that you can take. Then if you still haven’t taken the DNA plunge you will know what DNA tests you might want to purchase.
If you’ve been reading up on DNA then you know there are three DNA tests a person can take and an ever-growing number of companies to test with. The three tests you can take are Y-DNA to follow your male direct line (males can only take this test), mtDNA to follow your direct female line (males and females can take this test) and Autosomal DNA (both males and females can take this test). Autosomal DNA is the most popular test and is the one provided by all the DNA testing companies.
As I mentioned earlier; Autosomal DNA is the most popular test. Each of us receives 50% of our DNA from our mom and 50% from our father and each of us receive a different combination of that DNA from our parents. Often people will ask; if my brother has tested do I need to? My answer is yes because your DNA will provide different information from your siblings. You are unique.
So why do you want to take an Autosomal test and what will you discover? First of all, unless you’re a genealogist, I believe the primary reason the average person considers taking a DNA test is to see what their ethnicity is. To find out if their ancestors came from the places they imagined they did. Each of the companies that sell Autosomal DNA kits offers this element. The percentage information you receive from each of the companies may be slightly different because each company has their own reference population to compare your DNA against. Below is my breakdown.
The other thing you gain is your DNA connections. So depending on who else has tested at the same company you may find siblings, aunt’s, uncle’s, cousin and distant cousins. You can make cousins connections as far back as 8th cousins but of course, you will only be able to prove the relationship based on your genealogical tree. So genetic genealogy results work hand in hand with genealogy.
That’s not to say that you can’t figure out a family brickwall using DNA. I’m actually using DNA to try to figure out who my maternal great grandfather’s biological parents were as well as who my paternal grandfather’s father was. So, in this case, there is no apparent paper trail but because both of these relations aren’t that distant I should be able to come to a reasonable conclusion should the right people test and then find a possible paper trail.
Who to Test
So that brings us to the question as to who should test? If I could have any wish I’d say everyone but that’s not realistic so I’ll say test as many people as you can afford or convince. As many of the older generation as you can or if you have a specific DNA goal then you’d want to test those people who’s DNA would help answer the question.
So for my great-grandfather, William Beaton who was adopted I’ve tested my mom and all her living siblings and some of my mom’s cousins and second cousins. Then if I have a bit of luck and get some close matches I can start seeing who each has in common.
There are several companies that offer Autosomal DNA testing and I’ve listed all the companies that I’d suggest below. I’ve tested at every one of the companies (You know what I say. I haven’t met a DNA test that I didn’t like) But if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck then I’d suggest first testing at Ancestry and then transferring your raw data to MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch.
You never know what could happen. Computers can crash and photo albums can be lost or ruined. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get the peace of mind and back up your memories for future generations today.Don’t lose what you can’t replace. Take the pledge.
I solemnly swear to back up my important documents and precious memories on March 31st. – World Backup Day Pledge
Remember the backup rule of three.
3 copies of anything you care about on your computer
You know how much effort you put into the work on your computer. Whether it’s your family history, your digital photo collection or digital scrapbooking projects. Hours and hours of your precious time. That’s why I have several methods that I use to back up my files and photos.
First of all, I have an automated daily backup routine set up on iDrive. This means that every day a mirror of my computer is saved on iDrive so that I have the peace of mind that should something happen to my computer I’m covered and can be back up and running probably within hours.
You can back up your computer on iDrive too and I’ve negotiated an exclusive deal so that you can save 75% on your first year. So you only pay $17.38 U.S. You can click the ad below or you can go directly HERE
I also have an external hard drive that backs up my entire computer daily. I purchase a 2TB external drive and it back my entire computer while I sleep.
The other things that I do is I use a product that I sell. It’s called PictureKeeper. PictureKeeper looks like a regular USB jump drive but what makes it unique is that once you plug it in and tell it to search your computer you can walk away and PictureKeeper will search your computer, find any photo you have and save it to the jump drive. No more searching and saving photos for you. They don’t even have to be in one place. It’s neat because Picturekeeper maintains the file presentation so you know exactly where that photo is on your computer and now you have all your photos on the flash drive to use as you wish.
Recently I was asked if PictureKeeper was archival and that’s a tough question. Technology is always changing and you have to ensure that you are using more than one system for all your files. So that means backing up on an external drive as well as using cloud storage. That brings me to the other product I use for my photos. I have literally every photo that I’ve taken stored on Forever.com.
I converted to Forever when I heard about their guarantee. They guarantee your photos for your lifetime plus 100 years. You are buying storage and there are no re-occurring fees. You own the content and retain the rights. If technology changes your files change with them. Best of all your files are stored the way you took them. Forever doesn’t compress your photos and they store them as full-resolution files.
Don’t take my word for it. You can try Forever yourself and get 2GB of photo storage for FREE.
What I like is now I have all my photos not only on my Picturekeeper jumpdrive but on Forever so I can use them for my next digital scrapbooking project.
So take the challenge on March 31st, don’t put it off, and start backing up your files and photos so you never have to worry about those precious things on your computer.
I haven’t written about the Beaton/Batten Mystery for quite some time, but I work on the DNA connections that I get daily. I thought that it may be of interest to you as to what I do with the matches and perhaps you may want to incorporate some of these practices in your own DNA research.
First of all, I’d like to review what the Beaton/Batten Mystery is. My great-grandfather; William (Willie) Beaton was born in Kingston, Ontario and was adopted by the Beaton Family. His sister; Annie was born in England and was adopted by the Batten family in Pittsburgh Township, Frontenac, Ontario. Despite being separated at a young age they knew about each other because Annie was referred to in William’s obituary. After DNA testing several people in the adopted Beaton family I discovered that William wasn’t connected to the Beaton family putting to rest the family story that William Beaton Sr. was Willie’s father.
Over the years I’ve tested different members of my mother’s side of the family to gather connections and to help with triangulation of connections. So I’ve tested every one of my mom’s siblings that are alive as well as children of those of my mom’s siblings that are no longer alive. I’ve also tested several of my mom’s cousins. Through my research, I’ve searched several scenarios; including whether Willie and Annie were British Home Children, abandoned neighbor children or orphans.
Testing different people create opportunities to separate various lines in the family. By testing my mom’s cousin; Margaret O. I’m able to see matches that only apply to the Beaton/Batten mystery. Also several recent matches to other 2nd cousins I can again connect to matches that only connect to the mystery.
So each day I look at the kits that I admin and see what’s new. First of all, I start with Ancestry and go one by one through each of the kits that I administer to see who is new to the list. You can do that by going into your matches and then clicking “New”. If you look into these matches and see who they connect to you can slowly start to identify how they connect.
As I work with each person, if I’m aware of a family connection, then in the notes I put “connect to Kottman line” or “connect to the Beaton/Batten Mystery”. This makes it easier when looking at your large list to see the connection. If they are an absolute connection then I may decide to use the star as well.
If I find a person that does connect to the Beaton/Batten Mystery then if they have a tree I look at it. My new approach is to always look at the pedigree view. Later I may look at the family view but for now, I don’t want to get lost in the vast amount of names they might have. (I know that often people don’t have trees but there are ways to work around that as well and that will be another post). What I’m looking for in their tree is a great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent or further that has a familiar name.
I’ve been working on this mystery for quite some time so it gets easier and easier to see the names that mean something in the mystery. Such as Lisbonee, Passey, Wilcox, Grantham, Rycroft, Harris, Baylis. I can also look at the people that we have in common with to see if there are names that are in their list that also are in the new matches list. If I discover a name that means something to what I have already then I add that branch into my tree that I have called the ICW Tree.
The ICW Tree or as I call it; Theory tree (Mirror tree) is where I’ve put all my DNA connections. Initially, it started with my mom’s best match who had a huge tree. Then as I find new matches, I add them to the tree. If the new match is not connected to anyone else in the tree but it’s an important surname then I just add them to any one of the families as a child and then once I create their profile I go into the profile and prune the relationship where it says edit relationship.
So for instance, if I have a Grantham surname but they don’t yet connect to the other Grantham’s in the tree then I’ll take the matches most distant Grantham relation in the Grantham line and then keep adding the direct line and their spouses until I get to the DNA connection. So it might look something like this.
You’ll notice I put my match in and put DNA as a sort of middle name. This makes it easier to see all my DNA connection when I do a search. So this becomes a floating branch. I also put their DNA information in the suffix part of the name (see below).
Which then makes the profile then look like this. So you can easily see the centimorgan and segment information.
If the person connects to more than one member of my family then I put each of the cM and segment numbers in the notes for that DNA match.
If you admin more than one kit it’s easy to see how everyone relates to a match if you go to the matches profile name and then you can check each of your kits. In the example below, you can see that this person is not a match for me but they admin a kit M.L that does match me. Also if I click on Select DNA kit I will get a list of all the kits that I admin for and it will tell me when there is a match for each kit. Note that this appears to be available when you go to the Ancestry.comsite and may not be available if you are going to Ancestry.ca so you may want to try switching sites.
After I gather all the information I can from each of the matches I then I take the new disconnected branch and expand on it bringing it both forward and backward in generations. I’m careful that as I add each person I search to see if I may have that person on my tree on another disconnected branch. The idea is to take all the disconnected branches and find the common couple that is in Kingston, Ontario area at the right time. Through my research, I realized that many of the surnames I’ve mentioned before were from Oxfordshire so any Oxfordshire connection is also important.
To take it even one step farther I sometimes taken the DNA that I administer and link it to different people within the ICW or Theory Tree to see how the tree reacts. If I get new ancestry discoveries it tells me that I’m working the right path. But that’s another post.
As you can see it’s a long and arduous project but I know I’m getting closer and eventually, I will discover who my great-grandfather Willie Beaton’s parents were and perhaps I’ll be able to understand what might have happened to him and his sister, Annie and how they came to live in two households.