Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Herculean Task....Genetic Genealogy

I am about to throw in the proverbial towel with my DNA genealogy search.

Honest to goodness I do believe I am related genetically to every white person on the planet!
Can that be?!? lolz

By the size of my pool of matches overall, it does to me.

First off, I have a rather rare mitochondrial footprint.
This is good in a way as it cuts down on the potential matches.
I am a direct match with only 39 other people who have tested in the entire FamilyTreeDNA database.
My mtDNA haplogroup is J*.
It is only found in 12% of native Europeans.

In the Y-DNA J is associated closely with many of the early seafaring civilization in the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, like the Etruscans, the Minoans, etc.  J is also associated with having Jewish roots on either the Y or Mitochondrial side.
There is significant J mitochondrial DNA among Shephardic Jews of the Iberian Peninsula.
So old Sluggy could be a Spanish Jew if you were to go back far enough on my mother's, mother's, mother's side all the way back to our first female.

Since I have only tested the bare minimum markers so far, they have put me as J* and not one of the subclades of J.
But since half of the J's I've been matched with are J21a1(or further subclades of J21a1b or J21a1c)I pretty much know that having more markers tested will result in me being a J21a1, J21a1b or J21a1c.
My matches if I test more markers will decrease to......

J21a1=8 matches
J21a1b=3 matches
J21a1c=7 matches

That's across the entire FTDNA database.
I really should have more markets tested to get a definitive answer on this question.

Of course the problem in researching my mitochondrial DNA is that I haven't gotten very far on this specific line of my ancestors with a paper trail.  This would be my mother's, mother's mother's, etc. line going back to the first female of that line.
I have only gotten back to my 4th Great Grandmother with actual records.  Her maiden surname is SMITH.
Do you know how hard it is to trace someone in America named SMITH?!
Especially a WOMAN named SMITH!?!?

Until the 1800's in the US, woman didn't appear much in public written records.  Until 1850 only the male head of the household was named in census records(everyone else was listed as a tally mark).  If your female ancestor happened to be a widow until then you might find them by name in a census record but otherwise no name.

Before census records usually the only time your female ancestor appeared in an official record was upon their baptism(if they were baptized), upon their marriage(if they married)and upon their death(if their husband predeceased them and they had an estate to leave to their heirs or others).  Occasionally you might find a female ancestor recorded in the sale of land along side her spouse. 

And if you are very lucky, your female ancestor had brushes with the law and wound up in court.  Yes, having a female ancestor who ran afoul of the law and ended up in court and thus in court papers and transcripts is a goldmine to genealogists.  There might even be surviving newspaper articles of the time mentioning her.

So my mitochondrial line ends with a Clarissa or Claudia Smith.  The records don't even agree on her first name.  She began her life in Charlotte County, Virginia in 1802 and departed this life in 1862.  I haven't even gotten past this family line being in Virginia back from wherever they came from to there.  I am pretty sure it was England or thereabouts but when did they arrive?
Was it like most of the other lines on my mother's side of the family that came in the 1600's or 1700's?  Or did they get off the boat in later times?

While my mtDNA matches are manageable in number the same can not be said for my Y(through my brother's test)and my Autosomal matches!

Our Y-DNA exact matches number 1000 in the FTDNA data base.  That's FORTY pages of matches....
While further testing of more markers will bring that number of exact matches down, I can't justify spending $350 on having an additional 100 markers tested right now.
And then there are the SNP tests you can take to find your terminal Y.
These are each $39 and since R1b has so many subclades and finding just the right one to test for is pretty much a guessing game now, you could go broke before you found your terminal Y.

Likewise my Autosomal(all lines of dna)matches number 921 at the moment and new ones are being added every week as more people take this test.
My brother has 966 matches at the moment so I've got a few more than 921 actually.....being full siblings we'd match ALL the same people, but dna recombines on different parts of the strand for each person, so a few who matched him didn't show the same results for me.

I really need to load up a GEDCOM to FTDNA soon.
That's the thing I hate most when someone emails me that we are genetic cousins......when they don't have any sort of family tree listed on the site and expect me to be able to figure out how we are related specifically.
No, I am not doing the work for you!
I have been a bad, bad genetic cousin not supplying anything other than family surnames on my profile.....

Just last week I got an email from someone who was matched with my in an autosomal DNA test, wanting to know if I knew how we were related.  We had a surname in common--Chappell--and her Chappell ancestor she knew married a James Gay and their daughter lived in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada (1827-1910).
Since I have no direct ancestors who lived in Canada(as far as I have found)and my Chappell ancestor lived 1723-1797 I told her I suspect the Chappell connection, if that IS our connection, would go a bit further back in time from 1827.  She didn't know any places or dates of your Chappell ancestor other than being the mother of Elizabeth Gay.
I don't understand people who have a scrap of information and then expect me to have this ancestor of theirs on my line, when it's not a direct ancestor of mine.
I come across folks like this all. the. time.

I let her know that my Chappell connections were from Virginia and it might be possible that her Chappells may have been of my VA ones but went to Canada after the revolution(which is what many Loyalists did or had to do after the American Revolution).  She said she did have Virginia as a location somewhere in her tree but since she didn't have any GEDCOM family tree information uploaded to FTDNA I couldn't investigate on her side any further.
I did send her a link to my family tree on Ancestry so once she does some more digging on her Chappell line she can see if any of it lines up with mine. 
That's the best I can do to aid her search for now.

So I have on one side a very narrow focus but not much of a paper trail to help and on the other side so many genetic matches it's just too much to consider.

When it comes to genetic genealogy it's just always something. 



1 comment:

  1. I have a friend who figured out his genealogy back to Adam and Eve. He has a map of how they got to this place and that. Honest--he said, "And I have traced my genealogy back to the Garden of Eden." (Were they begetting in the Garden?) I was just floored and he could tell, but he probably thought I was amazed at his research. No, amazed at his audacity and thinking I was gullible enough to believe he had direct lines he could trace and name. He even told me which of Adam's children he was from.

    You have fascinating results and dazzle me all the time.


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