Saturday, June 2, 2012

Genes Day Friday - What to do?

Ok, now I'm starting to feel way over my head. My mom's results came in this past Tuesday (yay!!) and when the Relative Finder results came back, her matches totalled - 15. Not 1500, just 15. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. Her mother's test yielded over 600 matches. How could most of those not match her daughter? Did the DNA get chopped up that badly in transmission? I reached out to most of the contacts, asking to compare notes, and moved on to other things (like uploading the data to Gedmatch, and looking over the ancestry painting and ancestry finding features). One thing immediately stood out - mom had no identifiable Native American DNA either. Makes me wonder if Lisette Rainier (the Indian ancestor) really was Indian after all. I mean, we know so little about her background - she somehow had a French name, and she had some connection with two younger boys, Joseph and Charles Rainier, who were possibly younger brothers or sons. There's a family story that she lived in Utah for a time, and even lived in the home of one of the Mormon pioneers. Is it possible she wasn't Native American at all? She was considered NA, and treated NA, but doesn't mean that she was genetically  NA. This is just speculation on my part, no proof of anything yet. But it does make me wonder.
One thing that wasn't much of a surprise, but still very gratifying to see, was mom's number one country match in Ancestry Finder - Norway. I've known for a long time mom has a lot of Norwegian ancestry, and it's great to see that DNA confirms it. I've been contacted by some of the Norwegian connections, though we have yet to compare family trees or anything yet. Things are looking up though!
I also spent some time this week looking at my grandfather's Y-DNA results. I was pretty surprised that FTDNA didn't email me when the results were ready for viewing (and they still haven't emailed; looks like they're not going to). I quickly looked to see if I had any close matches at FTDNA - nope. Ok, I thought, I'll try Y Search. Close matches there - none. Hrmm...I read that Y-base had been acquired by FTDNA, so their results were likely already incorporated in my first search there. I next tried SMGF, hoping that I would have at least one perfect match there, since I had donated my own DNA via a blood sample over 10 years ago when I was in college. When I hit search, I found my match! Except that it was one value off. I was a 26/27 match for my grandfather. Did that mean my dad or I had introduced a mutation into the Gibson Y-DNA? Wanting to confirm this, I went over to GeneTree (since they have all of SMGF's data and some of their own) and uploaded my grandpa's data there. I found my data there as well, but this time it was a perfect match, 33/33. What was going on? How could I be a 26/27 and  a 33/33 for the same person in the same database? I sent an email to the DNA Newbie list, and Dr. Ann Turner found the solution - I had used the wrong lab standard (NIST, instead of FTDNA). Once I fixed that, I redid the search and saw that I was indeed a perfect match for my grandpa. Guess I'm not a mutant after all (on that line, at least).

Sadly, I remain the only match I've found so far for my grandpa's Y-DNA. I'm still waiting for my results to appear in the Gibson surname project at FTDNA I joined before ordering the test. Maybe I'll have a close match there.

My Joseph cousin got his aunt (his dad's sister, so my grandpa's 2nd cousin) to take my last autosomal DNA test this week, and he graciously paid for the extra shipping from Canada. I'm excited to see what that test tells me about her connection to my grandpa. I am hoping to identify some Joseph DNA from this match, which will help in identifying any other cousins who share the same segments. That's probably going to be about a month before those results come in though, so I've got some time.
Which is good, because I'm kind of starting to feel swamped. I've got four atDNA profiles to manage; four sets of Gedmatch results to sort through, find close connections with, and reach out to; one Y-DNA test to search for data on (probably need to order a deep clade test to see what subclade my Gibson line belongs to); and results pending for 3 mtDNA and an additional atDNA test. Yikes!! What have I gotten myself into? I'm not complaining by any means - I love this stuff, and I'm entertained, enthralled, and entranced by all that I'm learning. I think I've just bitten off more than I can chew very easily. Do I pick one person and focus my DNA research on them? Or do I try to wade a little bit into each person's data? I'm tempted to do the latter, but don't want to confuse the contacts I'm making with each DNA test group. If anyone has a suggestion on how I should proceed, please share it!

In the meantime, I'm working on compiling lists of all the matches for each test, then sorting by who is apparently the closest match. I'll start contacting those at the top and work my way down, maybe 5 at a time for each test or something. I've reached out to a couple of my grandpa's matches, and already have 3 people responding. MUCH better results than 23andMe, where I sent out literally hundreds of contact requests and got maybe a dozen responses. I think it's because the two sites have different audiences - Gedmatch seems geared towards those really interested in researching their family history, while 23andMe also includes those who have an interest in disease history, medical research, etc. So while I will still try working the genealogy side of 23andMe, it looks like spending more of my efforts at Gedmatch will pay dividends quicker.

One more thing DNA-related - I'm going to Jamboree next week! There's going to be all kinds of classes on DNA, including some taught by Steve Morse, and even Bennett Greenspan, the president of 23andMe! I also bet that 23andMe will have a booth at the exhibit hall, and plan on spending some time there picking their brains. If only I can think up some intelligent-sounding questions...

Well, that's where things stand for now. Just need to take some time, wrap my brain around the results I've got, and set about finding some relatives that I actually have a connection I can prove on paper. Once I work out how that process works, I'll at least have a model to work from in repeating the process.

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