Sunday, October 28, 2012

Genes Day update

Had a lot going on in my DNA research this week. I started digging a little deeper into my Y-DNA results, to get a better idea of my haplogroup and subclade. By the by, when I'm talking about "my" Y-DNA results, I'm actually referring to a test taken by my paternal grandfather. But, since he and I have identical Y-DNA results (I compared my results from SMGF to his and they were a perfect match) for the rest of this post I'll be referring to "my"results, since they are the exact same as my grandpa's.

23andMe defined my Y-DNA haplogroup as R1b1b2a1a1d1*, a rather long name that didn't tell me much of anything. It also turns out to be an older name, as 23andMe is using an outdated version of the Y-DNA haplogroup tree (someone told me 2008? I don't know for sure, but I have been repeatedly told it's not current). Family Tree DNA defined my Y-DNA haplogroup as R1b1a2, but I was told that they weren't using the most recent version of the Y-DNA tree either. As I was repeatedly referred to the ISOGG website, I hopped over there, pulled up the 2012 Y-DNA SNP tree, and started trying to find my SNPs (23andMe is very helpful on this end, and gives you a list of SNPs you've tested positive for). I didn't know what information to look for exactly, or where my SNPs fit on the tree, so I wrote some of them down and emailed the Newbie DNA mailing list I'm on and asked for some help. I was told by some very helpful people that one of my SNPs, M405 was also known as U106, and was a major branch of the Y-DNA tree. They suggested I check and see what SNPs downstream from there I tested positive for. 

So, I went back to the ISOGG tree, found U106, and started checking downward from there. In addition to the most current Y-DNA tree, ISOGG also has a SNP index, which gives all the names for each SNP (like how U106 and M405 are the same SNP), and sometimes its "address" on the Y-DNA chromosome. It's a good thing they post the address, because that's how 23andMe lets you look up SNPs they test for; you can't search by the shorthand name (like U106). So I started pulling up all the SNPs I could that were listed under U106, and eventually narrowed down my positives to just two more - L48 and L47. So I now knew my most recent Y-DNA SNP was L47. Cool! I went back to the mailing list and told my new friend what I'd discovered. He gave me the numbers for four more SNPs that were downstream of L47 - L44, L45, L46, and Z159. The first three were all tested by 23andMe, and they all came up negative on my test. The last one was not tested by 23andMe, so I don't know if I tested positive for it or not. My mailing list buddy said there was a mailing list specifically for U106, and that I should check with them to see if testing specifically for Z159 would be a good idea. 

I joined the U106 mailing list and told them what my plan was - since I had tested positive for L48 and L47 and negative for all other SNPs under U106, I was going to test for Z159 and see if that's where my branch on the Y-DNA tree terminated. They said it was a good plan, and that I should go for it. I also found there is a U106 DNA project at FTDNA and joined it. The admin for the project also agreed that I should test for Z159, as all of their project members who tested L47+ and negative for all other SNPs (with the exception of one guy) had tested positive for Z159. I figured since the test was only $30, and that there were no other SNPs to test for under Z159 (at least at this point), and I really wanted to know exactly where on the Y-DNA tree my line fit, I'd go for it. I ordered the test on Tuesday, and was all excited to see how long it would be before the results came back. I was thinking somewhere between a few hours and Friday. Imagine how I felt when the test finally hit my "pending lab results" screen and the estimated completion date was in December! Well, since I can't go any further on that research right now, time to move on...

I spent a little time going back through Lisa's matches on AncestryDNA, to see if there were any other connections that suggested a common ancestor. Sadly, there weren't. I still need to do more with the two matches it already gave me though. Most of the surname matches are with common names like Johnson, Smith, etc. so I haven't followed up too closely with them. I did write to all of those who have locked/private trees to ask if we could put our heads together to try and find the matches. So far, no one has responded yet. 

Also regarding my wife's DNA, my friend CeCe Moore posted a link in the DNA Newbie mailing list to this very interesting article by Roberta Estes, another genetic genealogist. Basically, she calls AncestryDNA's bluff on the massive amounts of Scandinavian DNA, saying that it's not a new discovery that everyone should ooh and ah about, it's an error and Ancestry needs to go back to the drawing board with their ethnic analysis. Harsh words, but perhaps necessary. I mean, I know my wife does not have 73% Scandinavian ancestry. I need to write them and ask them to reanalyze it. People speaking out caused them to announce the release of the raw DNA data sometime in early 2013. If enough people demand they redo their ethnicity tool, they'll have to do something about it. 

And last but certainly not least, through the generous funding of a relative, I ordered a Relative Finder test for a possible Harris connection. I did some research on the ancestry of this possible relative and was able to go back pretty far, even to the the late 1700s on line. I'm really excited for this one, and hoping that the test will give me some answers on who and where my Harris relatives are. The lab received the test on the 23rd, so the results will hopefully be in sometime around election day. Boy, imagine if they came in that day! I'd be up all night both waiting for election results, and delving into DNA test results. Might have to pull an all-nighter on that one! 

That's all the DNA news for now. Since I'm  back to waiting for results, I'll try contacting those two matches of Lisa's, and probably get back to my documentation project. Just a few more folders to go, but they're big ones - Beilstein, Bergstad, Berry, Crawford, and Craddock. If memory serves, Beilstein, Bergstad and Berry should all be done, but I'll need to double check them to make sure. I know I didn't get through Craddock, and that's a big one. Crawford, don't have too much on them, so that one should be pretty short. And then I'll be done!! I will finally know where I stand on all my lines, with every discovery so far documented as best I can at this point. That will be a happy day. It would be great to start 2013 fresh, to pick a line to research and just research, without worrying whether I've entered everything on that person or family yet. That's my goal for the rest of 2012 - to get my documentation done. Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Clarence "Unc" Morris

This is a photo of my great-grandma Rosie (Sitzman) Wagner's second husband, Clarence Morris, whom we all called Unc. I think the nickname comes from my aunt Kathy Smith, who couldn't pronounce Clarence when my dad's family knew him in the 1950s and 60s. This picture comes from February 1969, and shows Unc in some of his fraternal order's finery. I'm not sure what order this is from though. My grandpa says Unc was a Mason, like my grandpa was, but I think the hat says "Bagdad" and it looks like it has a picture of an Arabian-style sword. I'll have to Google it and see what I come up with.
This is a photo of Donald "Bill" Wagner, his sister-in-law Claire (Thacker) Wagner (wife of his brother Ralph), and Unc, from 1978. This is more how I remember Grandpa Unc. He was always nice to me, and my folks still have some of the letters he wrote me when I was little. He passed away in 1993 at the age of 90.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Red Corn

This is an undated photo of my wife's earliest known Native American ancestor, Wy-e-gla-in-kah, or Red Corn in English. He was born about 1854, had three children with his first wife Me-tsa-he (after she died he married twice more), and died 9 Jan 1927 in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Genes Day - A long overdue DNA update

I am finally finished updating my database with all the Groff family files I've collected (and some I dug up while going through those I've already gathered) so it's time to get back into DNA research! There have been some big developments over the last few months.

I realize I left on a cliffhanger (well, hillhanger more like). I did get the results in for that Harris cousin, and she turned out to not be related to us after all. Bit of a letdown, as these tests are not cheap, but it is what it is. I'm also still trying to figure out the ethnicity calculations for my grandma's test, as everywhere I post the results, I seem to get different answers - 23andMe, GedMatch, Family Tree DNA all have different answers for the same data. There's a lot of factors that play in to the calculations, I get that, and I don't know that they'll ever be able to say "this part of your DNA is German, this is Irish, etc" with any degree of certainty. But there should be at least a general level of consensus shouldn't there? How do I know who is right, when all the answers conflict so much?

On a related note, I got a message from a new match on my mom's DNA test, wanting to compare genomes. At first, I figured this would be like all the other matches I get emailed about - one tiny segment barely large enough to qualify for a place at the end of mom's matches list. Instead, I was shocked to see that this was mom's third closest match, second only to her mom and first cousin! The new match shares a total of nine segments, for a total percentage of 2.15%! That puts the match right between the expected percentages for a second cousin (3.125%) and a second cousin once removed (1.563%). I wonder how you could fall in between those numbers like that? Anyway, I compared her data to my maternal grandma, and there was no match at all, so that means this is a match on my maternal grandfather's side. I got even more excited when I saw that one of the match's ancestral surnames was Hammer - the maiden name of my mom's paternal grandmother! So I hurriedly wrote this match an email with some info on my Hammers and...nothing. No response. After three days, I wrote a follow-up email, and this time...I got nothing. Again. I can't do much else with this connection until she writes me back. So, with the excitement slowly fading into "why the heck would you want to share genome data but not email me?" I've decided to pass the wait by looking back into some of my other tests, and going deeper into those results.

My wife Lisa also took a DNA test recently! I FINALLY got my AncestryDNA invitation and decided it would be best spent by testing a whole new branch of my family tree - hers. I'm really glad I did, because it's given me a chance to try out a new DNA product on a family line that I haven't done any DNA research on yet. Her results have been interesting, to say the least.

First up was her ethnicity. From what I knew of her ancestral background, I expected 88% European and 12% Native American, as she has one great-grandparent who was full-blood Native American (with a registered tribal membership and everything). What I got was 73% Scandinavian, 15% Persian/Turkish/Caucasus, and 12% uncertain. I was completely puzzled - from I've seen of her ancestry so far, she doesn't have any Scandinavian ancestry. I've read about Ancestry showing those with UK roots to have a higher percentage of Scandinavian heritage than may be completely accurate. But 73%??? With not a single ancestor or name indicating anyone from any Scandinavian country? Even if somehow every English ancestor of hers was a direct descendant of Vikings, this would seem too high. To be perfectly honest, I was very disappointed when I read that, because it made me think "well, this is almost completely off. Now what do I do with it?" I know Ancestry has some upgrades in the works, so I'll reserve final judgment on their ethnicity analysis for now.

The Persian/Turkish/Caucasus part of her ethnicity, I have no idea where that could be from either. It may be there's a break in the chain in one of her lines that no one knows about. That's always a possibility, I understand that. One of her 3rd-great-grandfathers was illegitimate, with no known record of who the father is, but that wouldn't account for 15% of her genetic heritage even if the father was a full-blood Turk. As far as I know, all of her ancestors (aside from the Native Americans) were from northern and central Europe - predominantly England and Germany, probably Ireland as well. So there's another big chunk of her ethnicity that just doesn't make sense, unless we have her entire tree wrong. And I hope and pray that that's NOT the case.

As for the uncertain, I'm willing to bet that that's her Native American side. The percentage is just right, and given North American tribes' reluctance and even refusal to do DNA testing, it makes sense that this part of ancestry would come up as "uncertain."

One of the really cool things with AncestryDNA is it compares your trees with those of your matches, and can tell you surnames you have in common. If it can pinpoint an ancestor in common, it will tell you who they are, and show you the lines of descent to each of you, and what your resulting relationship is. You can then compare that prediction against the prediction based on the percentage of shared DNA. How cool is that? Sadly they won't tell you how much DNA you share, though Ancestry has stated they will be releasing the raw DNA data to its customers sometime next year. Hopefully they'll do it in a way that will allow the data to be used in GedMatch, FTDNA, and other places. So far, I've found two matches that have an ancestor in common! One of them traces back to Lisa's 4th-great-grandfather on her father's side, William Qualls. The other is a closer match, tracing back to Lisa's 2nd-great-grandfather on her mom's side, Thomas Berry Hudson. The Qualls relative would be Lisa's fourth cousin once removed, and the predicted relationship is 4th-6th cousin, so that seems right on the money. The other one would be a second cousin once removed, but the predicted relationship is fourth cousin. A second cousin once removed would normally share about 1.563% of their DNA, while a fourth cousin would share about .195%. That's a pretty big difference, one where having access to the raw data would really come in handy. I need to set aside some time to contact these persons and see if we can't compare notes and figure out exactly how we connect, and what we each have in terms of documentation.

While looking at all of this, I realized something. I've yet to fully document everything in my wife's tree as I received it from her family when we got married (as you know, I've been working the last 18 months just to document my own tree with the stuff I've already collected and I'm still not quite done with that project). But I realized her tree is really different than mine in one major way - I've documented her 16 great-great-grandparents, and every one of them was born in the US. Some of the links to her 3rd-great-grandparents are a little shaky still, but all of 24 that I have documented so far were born in the US as well. Contrast that to my tree, where three of my 2nd-great-grandparents were born in Canada (two of which were children of European immigrants, with the other being a grandchild of immigrants), four were born in Europe, and another three were born in the US but were children of European immigrants. That means that while all of my wife's lines have been in the US since at least her 2nd- or even 3rd-great-grandparents' time, 10 of my 16 lines in the same generation had been in the US only one generation or less. It's fascinating to think of the complex choreography of ancestors making their way to the US at different times, over different routes, probably for vastly different reasons. I am grateful for what DNA and genetic genealogy has taught me about my ancestry so far, and am greatly anticipating what insights and discoveries await!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Gold Rush!

I've finished updating my database with all my Gibson-related files, and have started in on the Groff stuff. My Groff line starts with my third-great-grandmother Mary Groff, wife of Adoniram Ami Shute, and goes back to, well, her father, Paul Groff. I haven't been able to document who Paul's parents are yet, but I do know that he was from New York. While going through my Groff census records, I came across something very interesting today.

My ancestor Mary had a sister named Eldora who was about three years younger than she was, born in Minnesota in July 1860. She married Judson Clark about 1878 and they had four kids - Judson Jr, Susan, Jerome, and Bertha. They moved out to Thurston County, Washington sometime between 1887 and 1898. Her parents, brother George, and sister Ida all moved out there around the same time. Eldora's husband Judson, however, did something that, so far as I know, no one else in my family tree did - he left his family behind for a couple years and went off to join the gold rush. Not the gold rush in California, as he wasn't even born yet when that one started, but one that started about 50 years later in Alaska.

I had found Judson and Eldora in the 1900 census, all listed together Bucoda, Washington. But as I went through my other census records, I realized I had another 1900 census for Judson, but from Alaska, not Washington. At first, I wondered if I had the wrong person, same name but different guy. But aside from the name, the birth date matched - October 1854; both censuses listed Pennsylvania as the birth place; and the Alaska census had a couple of unique columns - one for "date of locating in Alaska," which was March 1898; another column labeled "post office address at home" listed Judson's home address as Tenino, Washington, (which is actually just 4 miles from Bucoda); and another column asked for occupation, not once but twice - at home and in Alaska. The 'at home' occupations listed for the 22 people in the district were pretty varied - farmer (which Judson said he was), sailor, druggist, clerk, salesman, locksmith, and stock raiser among them. But in the column for 'in Alaska', everyone (with one exception) had the exact same occupation - miner. According to Wikipedia, the Klondike gold rush (which was centered some ways to the northeast of where Judson was living in 1900) really picked up between 1896 and 1898, which is when Judson came to Alaska. It all seems to fit together - the personal details all matched, virtually all the residents of the district having 'miner' as their occupation, and the location (generally speaking) and time period matched what I have read about the Klondike gold rush. Given that he was living in Alaska when the census was taken, his wife Eldora (or whoever gave the details given in the census) must have listed him as still living in Washington even though he physically hadn't been in Washington since at least March 1898. He did eventually return to Washington, as I've found him in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses there.

I haven't found anything that shows whether or not he struck it rich up in Alaska. The 1910-1930 censuses just show him and his wife living together alone. But whether he did or not, I'm glad he made it back home to his family. Life in prospecting towns apparently wasn't safe or sanitary, so I'm happy with the fact that he made it home and lived a long life after his gold rush days were over.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Adoniram Shute and Mary Groff

This is a photo of my third-great-grandparents, Adoniram Shute and his wife, Mary Groff. I don't have a date on it, but given that they were both born in the 1850s, and they look to be somewhere around 30 years old, I would guess this is from around 1885.