Tag Archives: Autosomal DNA

DNA Test The Elders in Your Family


Back view of serene senior couple taking a walk in the park in summer


My children know, or at least they should know, that they won’t be getting some large inheritance because I’m spending all my money on DNA testing.  Well that might be a slight exaggeration but I’ve spent a lot and I plan to spend more.

Out of all that spending has come a greater visual understanding of how from one generation to the next you lose matches, at least with autosomal testing . What do I mean when I say that?  First of all let me tell you who I’ve tested.  I’ve tested both my sons, my parents, two uncles on my mom’s side of the family and one of my cousins on my mom side as well as a second cousin on my mom’s side of the family. On my dad’s side of the family I’ve tested two of my dad’s  second cousins and a third cousin and a second cousin once removed.  So what does that all tell me?

What I’ve found most interesting is the matches that my mom and her brothers get and how some of those are connected to one of my son and not to the other. I do understand that you get half of your chromosomes from each of your parents and that you don’t get the same half as your siblings. But I guess it didn’t really hit home until I saw who matched to who and who didn’t.

My mom was 78 when she passed away this year and my uncles are of a similar ages. When you start looking at who are their matches outside of the known  immediate family and to which members of the younger generation they connect to you realize that by not testing the older generation when you are able you may lose valuable information that will help you understand your family connection to your matches.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that with each generation you lose  a bit of how you connect to someone elses tree, so you shouldn’t wait … you should test your oldest generation as their DNA has much to tell you.





As I told you yesterday; this hound is on the hunt for DNA.  So a few years back, after getting my results from Family Tree DNA  I decided to put my information on Gedmatch. Gedmatch is a third-party site where you can upload your raw data from Family Tree DNA, Ancestry or 23andMe. Each of the sites provides information as to how you can download from their site.

Once you have the raw data it’s relatively easy to upload to Gedmatch. There is a waiting period after uploading the raw data before you can run the “one to many” report but in the meantime there are still quite a few reports you can run.  Like the “one to one” and even a few fun reports.. well at least I think they are fun.. “are your parents related” and “eye colour predictor”.

I also need to tell you that Gedmatch is a free site but there is a lot of work involved in making something like this work so donations are accepted. Also, if your going to do what I want to do with my information; namely transfer that info over to DNA Gedcom, then you have to donate to become Tier One.  But I’d still do it just because it helps me and I couldn’t possibly do something like this without making my brain hurt a lot.

So  the waiting period for your data to be tonkenized is a few days but once completed you can now run the “one to many” report which matches you to others who match your DNA. If your from Family Tree DNA your kit number now has an “f” at the beginning and if your from Ancestry you have an “a” and if your from 23andMe the you have a “m”. Of course it’s only those people who’ve taken the time to upload their raw data,  but hopefully your cousins are as enthusiastic as you are about DNA.


While The Cat’s Away This Hound Will Play


For the next couple of days;  my husband has gone on a fishing trip with my brother’s and my father. So while they are hoping to catch fish I’m hoping that I’ll bag a brick wall.  I’m going to do that by going through all my bits and pieces of Beaton papers and I’m going to work on my DNA kits till all hours of the day and night.

Over the past few years I’ve had various people related to the Beaton family do a DNA kit.  Before my mom pasted away, she did a kit, I’ve done one on myself, my cousin Rick, my two uncle’s; Ken and Dick , Margaret who is a descendant of my great-grandfather; William (Willie) Beaton’s sister;  Annie and Mary who is a descendant of the Beaton family.

If you’ve heard the Beaton/Batten story then you can leave for a moment and grab a beverage.  But for those of you who don’t know the story then you need to know that my great-grandfather; William Beaton was adopted by his father  but the lady who raised him wasn’t his mother. Or so the family story goes. Another version from one of my aunt’s is that Willie’s mom abandoned him and then his father abandoned him as well. So I’m not sure if the family, I found Willie in, in the 1881 census,  really is his family. I’ve  spent many hours and four weeks in Kingston trying to find orphan records or something that would explain the story.

Willie’s sister; Annie was adopted by the Batten family. She lived with that family just down the way from the Beaton’s.  I know, similar name…. but I can’t find a connection between the two families other than they adopted my family.

So are they orphans, are they home children…. who’s children are they?

Ok for those of you who left to get a drink, we continue.

So I tested Mary; who is a descendant of the Beaton family (that Willie was raised by)  and she wasn’t a match to my mom as a second cousin. I know that doesn’t prove without a doubt that we aren’t from the family but I haven’t been able to get another descendant to test yet.

I tested Margaret; a descendant of Annie Batten and she was a second cousin match to my mom.

I’ve put all these kits onto Gedmatch which is a third-party site that provides additional reports on your DNA.  This is great, because you can see anyone who’s loaded their kits from Family Tree DNA, Ancestry and 23andMe. I’ve paid a donation, so I’m a 1st Tier member. 1st Tier gives you additional reports.

Now for the fun… I found a new site called DNA Gedcom and I’m loading my info so I can see what I can triangulate. Triangulation is described by the ISOGG as,  the technique used in autosomal DNA testing to compare matching DNA segments to determine which ancestor donated which particular segment.

So I’m doing that today and I hope I will have something major to tell you about in the next few days.. crossing fingers.


The Wait Is Over – More to Do

To Do File Showing Organizing And Planning Tasks
Yesterday I told you that I was having a consultation with; Diahan Southard from Your DNA Guide. 

My consultation was a great experience and was done very professionally.  She sends you a link to have a go-to meeting and the entire session is recorded and you receive a copy of the recording.

First of all she goes over some basic information about autosomal DNA.   She then asked me if there were any male descendants of my `great-grandfather, and there are/were but to the best of my knowledge they have died and left no male descendants. She went on to say that then I had done an excellent job of testing the key individuals that were left.  This made me happy to know that I was on the right trail and that my understanding of autosomal DNA was correct.

She went on to indicate that 88 CM  probably meant that my mom and Marg were probably only half cousins. This was something that I had suspected and was one of the questions that I had for Diahan, as my  theory is that my mom’s grandfather and Marg’s grandmother had the same mother but that each had a different father.  Diahan confirmed this was the case because my mom and Marg shared an X chromosome and if you look at the fan charts that are available to explain X chromosomes there are only certain ways you can connect that  way .  I will cover that in tomorrow’s blog.

We then talked about the chromosome browser tool  on FTDNA  where you can compare five matches and see what chromosome you connect on.  My family connects with Marg on chromosome 11 and 22. As there isn’t a very large list of in common people with Marg this means that it will be easy (if they answer) to contact them and see if we can figure out the overlap in chromosomes and trees of the other matches. Because we don’t know the family names for sure for my family or Marg’s we have to count on those people’s genealogy, surnames and places. I’ve already started some of that dialogue but perhaps I hadn’t asked the right questions. So Diahan advised me on what I should ask.

For instance, the match we have named Cliff,  has family members who came from the same region as my mom’s grandfather,  Willie and Marg’s grandmother; Annie.  I’ve been working with him on this but I should have asked him if there were other descendants of those people who could be tested. So I will do that this next week.

After the session is over Diahan provides a report going over what has been discussed which also provides you with a list of “to do” items for going forward as well as sends you a link to the recording of the session.  All in all it was a great experience and I would highly recommend it.

Now to get to work on that “To Do List”.  I’ll keep you posted.


Patiently Waiting


As I write this I am patiently waiting for my DNA consultation. Well I may be exaggerating a bit …. I never really wait patiently for anything.  I met Diahan Southard at Roots Tech 2015, and the first time I saw her,  she was presenting an introductory session on DNA. (Click her name to watch the video)    Diahan Southard

I’m not new to DNA but I am interested in the subject and always want to learn as much as I can. Diahan was very entertaining during her presentation .  Diahan offers DNA consultation through her business; Your DNA Guide (guide@yourDNAguide.com) and so I purchased a consultation but told her I wanted to wait until I had a couple more kits completed.

So what do I hope to get out of my consultation? The session is for an hour and I’m thinking with all the kits that I provided and what I hope to get out of the consultation, that one session may not  be enough. But it’s a start.

I believe that may of the people who are interested in DNA are doing it not only to learn more about themselves but to perhaps use it as a tool to break down a brick wall in their family history. This is the case with me.

So far for this consultation I’ve had the following people’s autosomal DNA tested; myself, my mom, a descendant of my great grandfather’s sister(my mom’s second cousin, Marg), one of my mom’s brothers; Ken, and a nephew of my mom; Rick, who is related  on my grandmother’s side of the family.  What I’m trying to do is narrow down the number of matches so we are looking at only  people who are connected to us through my Beaton family line.  I know that’s a lot of kits but I wanted her to have the info so she could decide what she needed to look at and what she could ignore.  So I provided all the kit numbers on FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) along with my password.

When I look at our matches on FTDNA there only a couple that are closely connection to all of us and shows as a 2-4th cousin. This I hope is promising.  In particular there is one man; Cliff  that my mom connects to at 69.82 CM. Marge connects to my mom by 88.13 CM and to Cliff   by 41.92 CM. My mom’s brother connects to Marg by 83.36 CM but doesn’t match Cliff.  When I start looking on FTDNA and the in common with it starts to get complicated, at least for me. But I think is just a matter of finding the appropriate way to present it visually to my brain.

I also told her the whole road block story and did my best at explaining how we are all connected. Because I know that it’s hard to figure out all the players when you not connected to the family yourself. Again maybe that’s just a me problem but that’s what I did.

My hope is with the kit information and the tree information, that Diahan can advise me what the next step is to breaking down my brick wall or if that is possible. So we will see. To be continued…… sketch-of-man-with-crossed-fingers-behind-his-back-vector-illustration_fkJGlMOd


Reverse Engineering Someone Else’s Tree


Have you ever check out someone’s DNA tree and thought….. this isn’t a tree it’s a sapling. It’s hard to figure out your connected if they are your third cousin and they only have a bit of information and if they are fourth cousins forget it.  So what do you do?

You get out your tree program or a piece of paper and start gathering  the information they do have and start building a tree . As I’ve mentioned before the tree view on Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) could use some work. Your connection may not be familiar with how to create and upload a gedcom file or they may have done it manually. Also if you think about it if they are your 3rd cousin that means you have a common 2x great grandparent. If you do the math that means they would need to have all 16 of those  2x great grandparents.  That’s a lot.. and as I said if they are a 4th cousin.. now were talking about 32  3x great grandparents.

In the case of Ancestry sometimes you have matches and the person has their tree marked as private so that won’t help you at all.  I know people are hesitant about opening up their tree but if you want your DNA to work for you then you will probably have to open up your tree. If your really concerned you can always create a tree with limited details and attach that to your DNA and then have another private tree with all your research.

Whatever the reason for your cousins lack of tree or lack of branches you might just want to at least ask the question.  After all isn’t it all about finding other family members?

Should I Have Two Trees


One of the things that became apparent when I was finally able to do my DNA on Ancestry (Up until Roots Tech 2015 I wasn’t able to get access to a kit because I live in Canada) was that I needed to merge two of my family trees.   You see I have always had a tree for my dad’s family and a tree for my mom’s family.  Now their trees finally did need to marry. Wow it has only been for real for 60 years.


The process was quite easy and especially when you call the people at Ancestry. They are so helpful and send you documentation or walk you through things. For me it took two calls one to a very nice man (sorry I didn’t catch his name) who sent me the documentation which was very straight forward.  Always be sure to back up what you already have just in case something goes wrong.

First of all you need to merge through your Family Tree Maker not on Ancestry.  After backing up the two trees you are merging you have to decide which will be the final tree.  In my case I choose my dad’s tree, although it says to use the larger tree, my mom’s was only slightly larger. One of my concerns was should my tree have to stay with a name than Thompson/Clark was my preferred choice. But I was able to change the name to Thompson/Middlebrough quite easily later.  So you are safe to choose the larger of your trees.

Once you tell the system to merge,  if you are like me; you will have several names that overlap. It will also ask you what to do when it finds matching information and how different can it be before it’s not considered a match. If you go to the advanced you will see how it will handle it.  I chose the default  of 400 and it worked quite well.


When the system stopped buzzing along (it didn’t take long at all) it gave me a list of 4 names that it wanted to confirm what I wanted to do with.  They were myself, my husband Kevin, my ex-husband and my son Jason.  The reason being, that some had a slightly different selection of a place-name; such as for my husband; Toronto, Ontario  on one tree compared to Toronto, York, Ontario only on the other and then in the case of my son I had added more information to one tree in comparison to the other tree. So you review each name and it provides what the system thinks it will do and you just visually confirm if that’s what you want. If you don’t;  you can click on the other suggestion and then that’s what will happen.  After your done then you click; merge. Then more buzzing.. (this takes a bit longer) and finally  voilà it’s done.

So the tree went from 400 names to 1084.  The second call to Lee at Ancestry was more for emotional support than anything.  I just wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going to do something that I thought was the right thing to do, but that would completely mess me up.  Lee was great and walked me through the process of unmerging my old Thompson/Clark file (so far I hadn’t change the name) and then when I was going to upload I then was able to change the name to Thompson/Middlebrough Family Tree.  Then it was off to the DNA tab to change the link of my DNA to the new Thompson/Middlebrough Tree.

Thompson Middlebrough

I’ve added the link provided by Ancestry to merge trees together and if you need help give them a call. So far every time I’ve called its been a 5 star


Kissing Cousins

Heart Face

The hottest DNA test on the market, at least in my opinion is the Autosomal DNA (atDNA) test. When it was introduced it was great news for women, as either sex can take the test.

Three companies offer autosomal testing ; they are Ancestry .com, Family Tree DNA (FTDNA.com) and 23andme.com. Each company is slightly different in how they can extend your family history.

Ancestry is great if you have a well established tree on their site. One of their shortfalls is that up until recently their test was only offered in the U.S. so the matches will be primarily that. However, they are now testing in England and will in, 2015,  be providing their testing in Canada and Australia. Ancestry does not provide the same genetic tools that the other companies provide.

FTDNA is a more scientific based company and you will gain a greater understanding of DNA through their site. Also they have a wider data base as they have been providing kits worldwide. Their shortfall is that their pedigree comparison tools are lacking and I don’t feel they are as user-friendly as they could be.

The next company is 23andme. I’ll be honest I haven’t used this company so I can only advise on what I’ve heard. 23andme have a diverse customer based and some individuals are not normally involved in genealogy. I do know that the company is more involved in the health of your DNA and you may want to understand their privacy policy. But I have heard that their ancestral maps are very useful.

But back to autosomal DNA. Half of your chromosomes come from you mom and the other half from your dad so what this test does is identify your best matches among the hundreds of living relatives that have taken the test with the company you choose. Although the companies are different, each of them is testing and coming up with the same raw data, so matches are the same; First it determines how much total DNA is shared between two people. Next based on the total amount shared and the lengths of the shared segments, this determines an appropriate relationship possibility.  Once you have your matches you should investigate all your 4th cousins or closer matches and compare their trees to yours.

This can be challenging; as many of the participants haven’t put up their trees.  If a person hasn’t put up a tree I caution you to please be understanding. I have heard many times; “why did they do the DNA if they aren’t going to put up a tree”.   It may be because they are adopted or they may have adopted parents so their really isn’t a tree that they can put up. I also think many people have gone into the field of DNA to help them push through a brick wall so sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. Also even if a person has put up a tree it may not be extensive enough to confirm how you relate. After all, if you are 4th cousins this means you have a 3rd great grandparent in common and not everyone has that information. But it can be something you work on together. That’s why I feel it’s important to work your tree as widely as you can in both directions; not just up and down but from side to side.

Some people may not have put up a tree but have listed family names. Have a look at these and see if you can find connections. Send them messages and see if you can work together to discover how you are connected.. After all,  one this is for sure…. They are your cousins.

Is My DNA Showing?

DNA model

15 years ago when I started on this journey into my family history , DNA was a relatively new thing.  But now it’s one of the hottest topics in genealogy.  When you go to conferences you will see more and more presentation about DNA. This week I’d like to explore the subject of DNA. (note that I am by no means an expert but I read everything I can put my hands on about the subject).

I’ve been involved in my own families DNA since 2010.  It was at that time I had my father do a YDNA  and mtDNA test kit with Ancestry. Since that time Ancestry no longer handles this type of DNA and I’ve transferred my dad’s information over to Family Tree DNA.

Whenever you speak with anyone about DNA for genealogy everyone wants to know what company should I use or what test should I take? Before you think about what company you should use or what test should I take, I thinking the first thing you should ask yourself is, what do I want to learn?  When you know what you want to learn that will help you choose the test to take and the company to test with.

Let me explain why I say that. For instance if you were to take a Y-DNA (Y-chromosome) test first of all you’d have to be male or have a male test subject. The Y-DNA test will tell you who that male test subject’s paternal line was. So your going to go down the line of the father’s,  father’s, father’s father’s… you get the idea. That’s because the Y chromosome is passed from father to son almost completely unchanged.  So if that’s what you want to learn about then the Y-DNA test is for you.

Another DNA test you can do is a mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) test. For this kit both men and women can take the test.  This test follows the test subject’s  maternal line, so in the case of a male it would be his mother’s mother’s, mother’s…etc. or for a female test subject; her mother’s mother’s, mother.  As this DNA mutations are very rare it’s my understanding that you need an exact matching on the mtDNA full sequence to confirm a common ancestor.

Finally the test that I think that is the most talked about is the atDNA (Autosomal  DNA). Again this test can be taken by both males and females and I like to think that it helps not only with your direct lines but all the family in the middle. This is because you receive 50% of your chromosomes from your mother and 50% from your father. Note that no two children will receive the same 50%.  This test along with a family tree can help you find your family.

So as I said earlier; you need to know what you’d like to know before you choose a test. Over the next few days I’d like to tell you a bit more about the tests and also about the testing companies as well as some of my own experiences with the test kits that I look after (I currently look after 17 kits for my family).