Friday, October 4, 2013

Genes Day Friday - Finding my French relatives

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Now that I've confirmed my French ancestry from William Vadnais and built a pretty good pedigree
for him, I've gone back to some of my grandma's 23andMe matches to see how many I can identify as coming from her French side. Turns out, there's quite a few!

The closest relative is obviously the cousin whose test helped me confirm the Vadnais connection. Their common ancestor is my grandma's bio-dad, so even though it doesn't pinpoint an ancestor very far back in terms of generations, it gives me several hundred cM worth of verified Vadnais/Bessette DNA, so anyone who matches my grandma and my cousin on those segments is tied to my Vadnais/Bessette line, which will come in very handy in identifying common ancestors.

Then there's the cousin whose Vadnais ancestor in his pedigree on Gedmatch helped me begin figuring all this out. He's a bit more distant, a descendant of my 4th-great-grandparents Louis Vadnais and Josephett Fregeau dit Laplanche. Finding common matches to him and his mom, who have both tested and share the same size segment with my grandma, will be tougher since they only share one small segment of about 10 cM. But I won't forget how his pedigree helped me solve this mystery.

There's a match on the Bessette side that has multiple connections to Antoine Bessette, my 5th-great-grandfather. That's pretty far back, but because of the multiple lines of descent, she and my grandma have almost 50 cM of DNA in common.

Finally, in the last couple weeks I've found two more Bessette side relatives. One contacted me because of the French surnames listed in my profile, and the other I contacted because she matched my other Bessette relative. In both cases, we were able to determine our common ancestors in just a couple of emails. It was awesome!  Both of these cousins have Moise Bessette and Scholastique Dextraze, my 3rd-great-grandparents, as common ancestors with my grandma.

I still need to download the chromosome mapping tool Kitty Munson created for us on the DNA Newbie mailing list. Now that I have a whole bunch of identified segments, I can't wait to see what her mapped chromosome looks like.

Plus I found out today that Family Tree DNA has upgraded their Family Finder match sorting to allow you to tag someone, and sort your matches to include only those people that also match that person. That is a HUGE upgrade to having to email them individually like you used to have to, or compare them 2 and 3 at a time like 23andMe still does. This could really help in finding more Vadnais/Bessette relatives, as well as with my grandpa's test (the only other one I've moved to FTDNA so far).

All in all, a very exciting week for this genetic genealogist. And many more good things to come, I'd wager!

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