14 August 2015

mtDNA or Who’s Your Mommy? Part 2 by Emily D. Aulicino

Longleat Maze by Niki Odolphie [CC-BY-2.0]
via Wikimedia Commons.
Are you adopted and searching for your ancestors? Are you are trying to find an adopted mother’s bio­logical family line?

If you have one of these problems an mtDNA test may help. Although there are no guarantees of success, this is the most logical path to try.

Finding an adopted female’s ancestors using mtDNA can be difficult given the problem with the mitochondria mutating so slowly. The first approach should be to get any birth records or adoption records if at all possible. Admittedly, this is not easy, as the information each state obtains varies, as does the information they will share. There are a few websites that may be of help.

Google the term “Adoption Search Angels.” You will find many sites including About.com which will guide you through some of the resources avail­able. Volunteer search angels can help you get started.

Facebook has Adoption Free Search Angels at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adoption-Free-Search-Angels/156749834387458 which may provide some additional information.

Yahoo has the group, Adoption-Search- Angels, at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Adoption-Search-Angels/info. Also on Yahoo is DNA­Adoption at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DNAAdoption/info. Consider joining one or both of these groups.

Richard Hill’s site, dna Testing Adviser has a wonderful section on adoption. See: http://www. dna-testing-adviser.com/AdoptionSearch.html

Locating a female on your all-female line as a candidate to test is a challenge. First, determine in what area or county your last proven ancestor lived. You may need to check all the available records, not just the usual ones, to see if there are any clues that indicate possible parents. Sometimes there is oral history in the family which may lead you to a possible connection. If you can locate enough circumstantial evidence to suggest the parents, you then need to bring down an all-female line to present day and test that person. If the result matches you, your brother who shares your same mother, or some direct-line female you know is related to you on your all-female line, you have found your relatives!

mtDNA testing works best in genealogy if you have a specific problem to solve and can find viable candidates to test.

Following are some mtDNA success stories, originally posted on the International Society of Genetic Genealogy website, http://www.isogg.org/ reprinted with permission.

“A woman wanting to prove her fifth great-grandmother in her maternal line could not document the link between the sixth and seventh generations in the pedigree. mtDNA appeared to be the only answer. After much researching, a female line descendant from a proven daughter of the seventh generation ‘grandmother’ was found and mtDNA testing for both descendants proved that they were descended from the same seventh generation female.” — Posted on 16 Apr 2005

“Emma’s mother was unwed and barely 18 years old. When Emma was born, an old preacher abducted her and raised her as his own. He probably thought he was doing the right thing, and later he claimed to have le­gally adopted her (e.g. 1930 census). Emma was raised with the preacher’s surname and she never knew her biological mother’s name.

Emma’s daughter recently started to add some genealogical evidence to the family stories so she could present an iron-clad story of her ancestry to Emma before she died. Despite the daughter’s best efforts, there was always some doubt that she had the right family. Emma’s daughter did some research on the web and discovered that mtDNA might offer a tool to solve this puzzle once and for all.

Using her own mtDNA and mtDNA from Emma’s presumed Aunt Oleta HVR1 & HVR2, she found an exact match, thus confirming the paper trail!”— Posted on 27 Nov 2006

“I started to seriously research my heritage about 12 years ago. I purchased an early version of Family Tree Maker (FTM) and admittedly, the box sat on the shelf for a while as I gathered up what I knew personally about my ancestors. I made inquiries to my father who, though I hadn’t had much contact with him since I was quite young, was willing to send me reams of papers and copies of documents such as family bibles. On my mother’s side I was fortunate, as well.

Apparently, an aunt, who had recently passed, had begun to document my maternal side. Her research went to another aunt with whom I was very close. As my mother was explaining what I was doing, over the phone and in French, my aunt told my mother that I could expect the papers soon.

I knew my mother was French; it was “her first language,” she tells me. And just looking at my uncles, aunts, cousins, and pictures of my grandparents, well, you can tell. Along with the materials forwarded to me, and the information I gleaned from oral histories given by living relatives, I was able to document my direct maternal line back seven generations, though many other marital offshoots led even further back. According to what I had on hand, my furthest known direct maternal-line ancestor was Clothilde Quinter and the spelling was questionable.

For many years, and through several software updates, I continued to explore the various branches. A couple of years ago I came across an article in Time, I believe, relating DNA research conducted on a fossil found on a mountaintop in the Alps. After researching online, I signed up to have my own DNA tested, and my step-father, and his mother, to see if there would be anything productive to aid in my research. I had, by this time, become the so-called family genealogy “expert” and had worked on my wife’s family and that of several friends.

Of the three of us who submitted to testing, only my step-father benefited—until last week. I received an email from Lucie LeBlanc Consentino which began in a familiar way as I had received other inquiries that led, effectively, nowhere. Lucie inquired as to whether I was of Acadian descent, and whether I would be interested in participating in a project. I quickly replied, and we ex­changed several emails the very first day. In one of these I provided her with information about my maternal line, and she introduced me to the project; further offering to forward my information to noted [Acadian French heritage] researcher Stephen A. White.

How very pleased I was to relate to my mother, only two days following, that Mr. White had not only corrected a couple of errors in my information, but was able to provide detailed information about my direct maternal line which he had extended to twice its length. One of these “errors” might have been the stumbling block for my own research, yet by combining his knowledge of my mtDNA and his extensive research on Acadian heritages, he was able to double my maternal line to fourteen generations.

This was truly a success story for me and my family. My mother has already requested an updated poster to take to her next family reunion in Louisiana. Merci beaucoup Lucie and Stephen!” Troy D. A. Hammond

Mr. White adds:

“I am glad to learn that Mr. Hammond is so happy with the way I was able to complete his family tree. That I was able to do so is as much a result of his hav­ing had his mtDNA tested as anything else, because in the context of our early Acadian families his results suggested that he must be a descendant of Andre Guyon. Sorting through the problems in the documentation was thus quite rewarding, given that the end result con­firmed what the mtDNA had suggested. Sincerely yours, Stephen A. White” — Posted on 22 Apr 2008

Acadian French By Klaus Mueller CC-BY-SA-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

“I have been doing some form of family his­tory research for over 30 years. During that time I traced my mother’s family on the male lineage back to France and was delighted with the results. In the meantime, a cousin on my father’s side took up that research, and I started on my husband’s European lines from Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.

I have been a subscriber to Richard Eastman’s Genealogy Newsletter for a long time, and about two years ago I read an article he wrote about dna testing. I thought it sounded interesting, so I ordered the basic test, and then decided to go to the second level of testing. Because it is mtDNA and traces the direct maternal line, I went back and started researching that line, promptly running into a brick wall. Even though I had two major source books I could not find any information before the mid-1700s. I started a broader search and discovered that my mater­nal line may have immigrated to Acadia (Nova Scotia) in the mid-1600s. I was doing online research and thought that I had figured out my maternal lineage, but because I had no access to primary sources I could not be sure. I joined the French Heritage DNA Project during this time.

Very recently I received an invitation to join an mtDNA project and I accepted. I sent the information on my maternal lineage to Lucie LeBlanc Consentino who sent it to Stephen White for verification. After fewer corrections than I expected, I can now lay claim to being a sixteenth generation descendant from a daughter of Acadia, Jeanne Motin de Reux. I am fortunate to descend from such a distinguished line, because at sixteen generations it gives me the longest female-line lineage to date.

On my paternal line, my cousin had done all the research and we thought we knew which English Car­ter line we could claim as our ancestors, but one link was weak on documentation. We convinced our Carter male first cousin to have his DNA tested and submitted our lineage to the Carter Society. Through the DNA test comparisons we were able to determine which Carter settler of the New World we descended from.

I am delighted with all the new information that I have recently obtained. It has become my custom to print a small family history book with pictures for each new baby that is born in our family. As my nieces and nephews turn forty years old I make a family history book as a birthday present for them. The dna results will add an additional validation to some of the information.” — Posted on 1 May 2008

“mtDNA has just today proved useful to me for genealogical purposes. I had recently (last fall) done some historical research that extended my maternal line back for several more generations. I thought what I had looked good, but I wasn’t sure that it was airtight. I just got an HVR1 match at FTDNA who noticed my newly established most distant ancestor was hers as well. She wrote me and we found that we were descended from two sisters who were born in Virginia in the late eighteenth century. This was at least partial confirmation that the part of my research of which I was least sure was in fact correct! I hope others will have this pleasant experience too.” — Posted on 6 Feb 2009

Appeared in the GFO Bulletin, Volume 64, No. 1, September 2014.

GFO is the Genealogical Forum of Oregon in Portland Oregon.  See their website:  www.gfo.org

For more information about DNA, read Emily’s book, Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond which can be purchased online at AuthorHouse.com, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble in paperback or as an e-book. The book can be ordered at any bookstore.

13 August 2015

mtDNA or Who’s Your Mommy? Part 1 by Emily Aulicino

An all-female line you are researching comes to a dead-end. An mtDNA test may help. Although there are no guarantees of success, this is the most logical path to try.

First let’s review what the mtDNA test can do and who can take it.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed from moth­er to all her children since womankind began, but only the daughters can pass it to the next generation. For this reason, a living male can test his mtDNA, but the results will be only along his mother’s all-female line. All females can test their mtDNA for their all-maternal line.

Inheritance of Y-DNA & mtDNA

Courtesy of Family Tree DNA

The small chang­es (mutations) that can take place help determine the close­ness of a relationship and help place people into family groups. These mu­tations are random and can happen at any time, although with mtDNA that is less frequent than with Y-DNA. A mother passes the same mtDNA to all of her children, but it’s possible that one might receive it with a mutation while the other does not. Once a mutation occurs it is passed to the next generation of children from the mother who received it. Again, as with Y-DNA, the mutation is a change in one of the chemical bases, adenine, cytosine, guanine, or thymine.

Unlike Y-DNA the results are reported when the chemical base differs from the sequence to which it is compared. Currently there are two sequences being used, the rCRS (revised Cambridge Reference System) and the RSRS (Reconstructed Sapiens Reference System). In the 1980s the placenta from a woman who gave birth in Cambridge, England, was the first full mitochondria to be tested. She was from haplogroup H which is the most common haplogroup tested to date, and it tends to be in Western Europe. This was not the haplogroup of the first known wom­an, and recently, Doron Behar, in his mtDNA work pub­lished the RSRS.1 Family Tree DNA currently uses the RSRS, but, for now, has maintained the use of rCRS for comparing mtDNA testing. The RSRS com­pares your mtDNA with the oldest known sample of DNA (mitochon­drial Eve), thus, although your haplogroup re­mains the same, the mutation list will change.

Mitochondria results look different for both sequences. Note in the example that these happen to be the same marker lo­cation: 16399. It just happens that my mtDNA had this result for both the rCRS and for RSRS. The rCRS system (in the first example) is telling me that I have guanine (G) at this location. In the second example the RSRS tells me the same thing, but shows me that Mitochondrial Eve had adenine (A) at this location. 

Example: rCRS 16399G
Example: RSRS A16399G

I have 26 mutations when comparing rCRS for my full mitochondria. With RSRS, I have 56. The numbers will vary with other testers’ results. If someone has a perfect match with me, they will not only have the same number of differences, but they will be at the same loca­tions. Number of mutations and the locations depend upon how closely related that each tester is to the fetus in Cambridge for the rCRS or to Mitochondrial Eve for the RSRS.

The mtDNA is so very slow in mutating that any matches, even on the full mitochondria sequence (FMS), could mean that your matches were before genealogical time; that is, before written records. However, several things can be learned from this test, and it can be used to solve certain genealogical problems.

From mtDNA you can discover your twig on the world family tree, your haplogroup. Depending upon which haplogroup you have, you will learn the time frame when that group began and some of its activ­ities. For example, I am a U5a1a. From this I learned that the U5 group started about 50,000 years ago. They were hunters and gatherers and moved south from the Scandinavian and western European areas before the last Ice Age. After that, many moved back to the area. This means that the sub-group of U5, specifically my U5a1a, came later but still many thousands of years ago. Remember each subclade required that people tested positive for some new SNPs. (Remember that a subclade is formed by adding an additional number or letter to the root branch. U is the root; U5 is a subclade of U; U5a is a subclade of U5, etc. Letters and numbers cannot be added until many people test positive for additional SNPs.)

Using mtDNA to solve genealogical problems can be a challenge, but is very rewarding if you are successful. Some have likened it to winning the lottery. The follow­ing scenario will guide you on what can be done and the work involved. Much hinges on how dedicated you are to finding a solution to your genealogical problem, whether you can locate viable candidates to test, and whether you can afford to pay for the needed test. If you are lucky, perhaps some of your candidates will share the cost.

My fourth great-grandmother is Frances (nee Watson) Ellis who was born in 1788 in Madison County, Kentucky. Her family was from Albemarle County, Virginia, and returned there when she was a year old, according to a brief newspaper article written when she was still living.

When she selected Dabney Ellis in 1808 as her guardian, the record states that she, listed as Franky, was the orphan of John Watson and that Dabney Ellis posted bond in this matter. After much research, five John Watsons were discovered in Albemarle County at this time, and every one had a daughter named Frances or Franky. None of them were my Frances.

Moving to Madison County, Kentucky records, I dis­covered that the only Watsons in the county between the late 1780s and 1790 were Watsons from Albemarle Coun­ty. In 1787 there was a Jesse Watson on the tax records, and no other Watsons until 1790 when Jesse appeared again with some others who were sons of one of the John Watsons of Albemarle County. Jesse left an oral will in June 1790 taken by two witnesses: Evan Thomas Watson and James Stephenson. Jesse was accidently shot by John Anderson when both were hunting deer. Both witnesses stated that Jesse gave all his possession to his wife, Milley Watson. James Stephenson said Jesse told him, “that he wisht me to see that his wife Milley and his Heir appear­ant should enjoy what he had, equally between them.”2

Milly and her child moved back to Albemarle Coun­ty, Virginia, soon after she lost her husband. However, her husband’s name was Jesse and the guardianship pa­pers state Frances’s father was John. At this point, one must look at rational possibilities. Could Jesse have been Jesse John or John Jesse and decided to not use John as there were so many? Could the clerk taking the guard­ianship bond have made an error as there were five Johns with five daughters named Frances, all marrying about the same time in this county? Could this be my family?

As I never found any siblings for Frances, I started researching Mildred (nee Ballard) Watson. She is the daughter of Philip Ballard and Nancy Ann Johnson. Milly first married Jesse Watson and in 1794 married David Craig. With David Craig, Milly had five sons. So far no daughters can be found, and the child belonging to Jesse cannot be located unless the child is my Frances. As there are no female lines from Milly, I must then trace an all-female line from either one of her sisters to the present and test that person. If that can’t be done, then I must trace a line from Milly’s mother’s sisters to the present. If the person I test matches me, then this is my line since the odds of a full mtDNA test matching under such circumstances is definitely like winning the lottery!

You can read about other success stories at the Inter­national Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) website: www.isogg.org . Click Success Stories on the left.

One last reminder: DNA testing does not have all the answers for you. Not every brick wall can be demolished; there will always be brick walls. Not every person you need to have tested can be found, and not everyone you find will be willing to test. Not every person you match will know as much as you. With luck, some will know more.

One last hope: DNA testing is the most accurate re­source we have as genealogists. By testing you will have an opportunity to learn more about your ancestry. More people are learning about DNA testing for genealogy daily. More people are testing, so in the future you may find the person and connection you need. Doing noth­ing gets you nowhere.
More on mtDNA in searching for all-female lines in the case of adoption and more success stories will be shared in the September issue of the Bulletin.

1.      1.  Behar DM, van Oven M, Rosset S, Metspalu M, Loogväli EL, et al. (2012) A “Copernican” reassessment of the human mitochondrial DNA tree from its root. Am J Hum Genet 90: 675–684.[PMC free article] [PubMed]
2.      2.  1790 Madison Co., KY - Will of Jesse WATSON - Will book A p. 11, dated 1 June 1790 - recorded 3 Aug 1790. Transcribed by Mark T. Watson.

Written for the GFO DNA Special Interest Group, February 2013 and appeared in the GFO Bulletin, Volume 63, No. 4, June 2014.

GFO is the Genealogical Forum of Oregon in Portland Oregon.  See their website:  www.gfo.org

For more information about DNA, see Emily’s book, Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond which can be purchased online at AuthorHouse.com, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble in paperback or as an e-book. The book can be ordered at any bookstore.

17 May 2015

Y-DNA or Who’s My Daddy?

By Emily Aulicino

In the past I have posted information about the various tests on this blog.  However, when I was approached my my local genealogical society, I submitted several articles to help members of the society with DNA testing.  I am most grateful to all those who helped compile many of the coming articles and who edited my work.  A special thanks to Laurel Smith, our current president, for pushing me to do this and for all her help.

In the coming weeks, I will cover mitochondrial testing in two parts, autosomal testing, SNP testing and a few other topics.  You may email me directly if there is a topic you would like clarified and posted here.  Do not post to the blog, but to me directly:  aulicino@hevanet.com

The following questions or goals may be addressed with the Y-DNA test. 
Although there are no guarantees of success, this is the mostly logical path to try. Each of these will be considered here:   
  •     Proving if a person is my father
  •     Finding biological father’s (grandfather’s, etc.) surname (adopted or not)
  •     Proving two of same surname living in adjoining towns are related
  •     Y-line brick wall, hoping to jump the brick wall
  •     Tracing mother’s father’s line back to a known immigrant

The Y-chromosome is passed from father to son virtually unchanged since mankind began. The small changes (mutations) that can take place help determine the closeness of a relationship and help place people into family groups. These mutations are random and can happen at any time. That is, a father could give one son a certain DNA result and another son the same, but perhaps with one mutation. Consequently once a mutation occurs it is passed to the next generation of sons from the father who received it.

As the Y-chromosome is only inherited by men, this test can be taken only by men. It tests the top line of a pedigree chart for a male tester. However, the results does not really belong to or indicate a particular male as all the males in the family and everywhere along a direct line of descent can have the exact same Y-DNA results. That is, a great-great-grandfather gives a copy of his Y-chromosome to all his sons, but so do that great-great-grandfather’s brothers give it to their sons. For this reason, it tests more than just the direct line of male descent, but all the direct male lines of that progenitor.

The result of a Y-chromosome DNA test yields a number for each marker. That number depends upon the number of times four chemical bases (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine) repeat themselves in a short pattern. These patterns must repeat themselves right next to each other or in tandem and are referred to as an STR or short tandem repeat. For example a marker could have a pattern of AGAT or some other combination, and the number of times it repeats itself in sequence; for example, AGATAGATAGAT would result in the number for that marker. In this example, the result would be a 3. The result of a marker is called an allele. The entire test result is referred to as a haplotype. In the example below marker DYS393 has 13 STRs.

The alleles (marker results) are compared with those of other testers to give an indication how closely related they could be, but as DNA does not tell you the name of a common ancestor, you still need to do your genealogy. DNA testing can help you get through a brick wall, determine the surname of a person who is adopted, and prove that two males do or do not have a common ancestor in genealogical time. DNA testing gives you the names and from some companies the emails of the people with whom you share a common ancestor. This allows you to contact the matches and share genealogies. The more wide-spread your records are, the easier it is to find the common ancestor. That is, do not research just your direct lines, but everyone’s children, grandchildren, etc.

If you are a woman, you need to have a male in your father’s all male line do the testing; otherwise a man can test for his father’s line as I have said.

To prove if your father is your father, you should test yourself and your suspected father. If that cannot be done for some reason, test yourself and a male that either descends from your suspected father or from one of his brothers, given that you are certain of those relationships.

To obtain a man’s biological surname, just test the man and see what surname is most frequent among the matches. The odds are this would be the testers’ surname, barring any NPE (non-paternal event or any event that would result in a non-biological surname such as an adoption, illegitimate birth or a name change for any reason).

To determine a paternal great-grandfather (adopted or not), without knowing which of two people that could be, I’ll address both. If the paternal great-grandfather is your paternal grandfather’s father, then test yourself, if you are male, and see whom you match to get a surname. If the paternal great-grandfather is your paternal grandmother's father, then you need to find a brother of your paternal grandmother and bring his line down to the present in an all-male line. If this is confusing, look at a pedigree chart. The same system can be applied to the comment above about finding a great-great-grandfather.

Proving that two men with the same surname and living in nearby towns are related can be easily done. Just bring to the present the all-male lines from each of your target people. Test one person each and see if their test result matches. However, finding a viable candidate is often the problem. For this reason bring all the male lines to the present as some lines may “daughter-out” or some men may refuse to test or cannot be located.

Jumping a brick wall can be done, but there are different methods. One is to test a male and contact the matches, hoping someone has more information than you do. Another way is to check the area where your trail went cold to see if there are others in that area who may be related whom you cannot fit into your pedigree. Bring an all-male line to the present and test that living person. If there is a match, perhaps they know something you do not or together you and your match can research the line to see if you can track it back farther. Sometimes distant cousins leave better paper trails than your direct line. Lastly, you can triangulate a line. This method is a bit longer to explain, and will be covered in another lesson.

And for the last problem above, tracing mother's father’s line back to a known immigrant, use the Y-chromosome test. You must go back to the moth­er’s father, bring an all-male line to the present, and test that person. Then you must bring an all-male line from the known immigrant to the present and test them. This method was actually used to prove a Mayflower descendant a few years ago.

As you can see from all these examples there is great similarity in how to use the Y-chromosome DNA test. BUT, which Y-chromosome test? I recommend at least 37 markers as that number of markers puts your matches within genealogical time. After all, you need to have a paper trail along with the DNA to really prove your lineage. Of course, testing more markers is just fine, as well. Some people choose to start out with a 37 marker and upgrade later while others test the 67 or 111 initially. The cost of upgrading is a bit more than the difference between the two tests you choose. This is because the company has to locate your sample in their vaults.

Much of what you need to know is on my blog in the older sections. There are many articles you can skip as they are about my antics at conferences or on past sales. Also understand that over the years genetics has evolved so some things that were thought to be true a few years ago may be understood differently now, but the basics are the same.

I urge all of you who have not tested to write me before you order. I will ask you what problem you are trying to solve so I can be sure that the test and the company you choose will serve you well. I have had several emails from people who bought first and then inquired. They are not happy. Remember that DNA testing is becoming very popular and as a result there are many companies who want a slice of the pie, but they do not offer all the services that others do. It is wiser to not let price be your guide in most cases. Variety of testing, service, storage of your sample so you can upgrade later, etc. are only a few of the important features.

One last reminder: DNA testing does not have all the answers for you. Not every brick wall can be demolished; there will always be brick walls. Not every person you need to test can be found or, if so, they may elect not to test. Not every person you match will know as much as you. With luck, some will know more.

One last hope: DNA testing is the most accurate resource we have as genealogists. By testing you will have an opportunity to learn more about your ancestry. More people are learning about DNA testing for genealogy daily. More people test all the time so in the future you may find the person and connection you need. Doing nothing gets you nowhere.

Written for the GFO DNA Special Interest Group, 29 Jan 2013 and appeared in the GFO Bulletin, Volume 63, No. 3, Mar 2014. 

GFO is the Genealogical Forum of Oregon in Portland Oregon.  See their website:  www.gfo.org

Thank you,

15 May 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? Live – Birmingham, England April 2015

Yes, it has been weeks since we all returned from Birmingham, and I have not been enthused enough to blog about the experience.  There is the good and the bad of it all, and being spoiled does not help my outlook.

So why you ask I was reluctant to post.

The venue moved from the Olympia Center in London to Birmingham, in the Midlands.  The reasons seem to be that Earl’s Court was closed so the venues there had to go somewhere, and one vendor plunked down more money to replace Who Do You Think You Are? who lost their lease.  At least that is what I am told.

Although the aisles at the NEC in Birmingham were spacious, it is apparent the hall was smaller than Olympia and there were fewer vendors and attendees.  It is nice to be able to reach out to people who may not have been able to come to London for the venue, and perhaps, in the next few years, the vendors and numbers will increase.

The lecture areas were not enclosed so the sound carried, providing much background noise.  Although the FTDNA area is never enclosed, the noise from the others as well as the traffic made listening and recording difficult.  Also, the size of the Family Tree DNA lecture area was much smaller than that in London which meant that many people had to stand.  The ISOGG stand was minuscule, but everyone had no choice but to make the best of it all.

As a result of fewer attendees, fewer DNA tests were purchased, and I sold just over half the number of books that I sold the previous year in London.

For those of us who travel from the United States to work at the Family Tree DNA booth, our expenses (for those of us who receive no reimbursement or compensation) were astronomical.  I fly from the West coast and my airfare was 50% more than going to London.  I realize the airfares are constantly traveling upward and this area’s airport is smaller; however, even in London, the airfare rose by only $100 or so each year.  A few of us could not afford to state at a hotel near NEC due to the cost being double of that in a nearby location.  Of course, we were always spoiled in London by having a B&B only 2 or 3 blocks way from Olympia which always gave us a great rate.  However, we were saved by our genetic genealogy pal, James Irvine who chauffeured us back and forth to NEC. What a wonderful, kind man! Thank you James!

AND, my understanding is that the cost of the stand increased greatly over the price in London.

So where is the good in all this?

We had some wonderful speakers thanks to the efforts of Maurice Gleeson and Debbie Kennett.  Maurice hosted the programs and uploaded the presentations to YouTube  where you can view those who gave permission to share with you. (My two presentations are there, also.) Joss Le Gall was superb in ushering people to the presentations, distributing handouts and guiding them to the Family Tree DNA stand for testing. 

Turi King gave a wonderful review of finding the grave of King Richard III.  No doubt it was the largest program attended. Professor Mark Jobling from Leicester University spoke on “Fishing for Vikings in the Gene Pool” and Professor Mark Thomas at University College London presented on “Ancestry testing using DNA: The pros and cons” which focused on Y-DNA testing and mitochondrial DNA and the problems in using these to determine where your ancestors were located. His presentation is available on the above line and is a very good one to view.

See Debbie Kennett’s in-depth post on Birmingham.  

It is always nice to be able to share the opportunity of DNA testing for genealogy with new people, and this area provided a new arena. It’s always a treat to see old friends and meet new people. 

I was able to meet a newly found cousin of a man I know from my presentations in my home state.  Both cousins are a delight, and below you can see our meeting, along with a photo of the two cousins.  Jeff was in my audience as I told his story at WDYTYA.  He also showed me a photo of Cliff’s brother who looks even more like Jeff!
Jeff in Wales
Cliff in the US
It was also very nice to chat with Professor Mark Thomas over drinks.  I found him very personable.  He was very complimentary to all of us and strongly suggested that we were not "citizen scientists" but scientists.  His belief is that whoever uses scientific tools deserves the title.

This year, my wonderful roommate was Traci Barela who currently lives in Germany.  She and I flew to Frankfort, and I stayed at her home for a few days as a guest.  I spoke to her friends regarding DNA, and we spent a day in Krefeld as my ancestors came from there in 1683.  They were part of the immigrants who started Germantown, Pennsylvania, and the first petition against slavery in the US was signed on my ancestor's table.  I'm greatly proud of that, and am most appreciative to Traci for being so gracious to have me and to make the train trip north so I could trod the land of my ancestors.  Thank you Traci!
Traci and I with skyline of Frankfurt

Lunch at the old Frankfort square

Berg Linn Castle - the only place from my ancestors' time period.

WDYTYA will return to Birmingham April 7-9, 2016, so join us to learn more about what is available in the UK for genealogy and take a DNA test.

See you there!

11 April 2015

35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

As more and more DNA testers are finding segments of Jewish genealogy, along with all of those who know their Jewish heritage, more and more interest is turning toward understanding the connections and culture.

Barbara Hershey, President of the Jewish Genealogical Society in Portland Oregon, has alerted me to the coming International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem this year, and shares the following information.

Happy Passover from the 2015 IAJGS 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. For the ease of those who are vacationing over the holiday, we have decided to extend the Early Registration Discount fee through Wednesday May 6, 2015. Visit www.iajgs2015.org to register now! And since we promised a drawing for prizes those registered by April 15th your chances of winning are now double! Be patient if we are slower in answering e-mails, Israel is on vacation until April 12. Ortra our Conference Organizer, like most non-essential businesses in Israel, is closed for all but emergencies. I and most of our volunteers will be answering questions as rapidly as we can.

Our Preliminary Program now is now listed in the Program & Schedule section of the website in the “Program” tab at www.iajgs2015.org. You’ll see why we are boasting that this will be “A Conference Like No Other”. The schedule will become interactive after Passover.

The conference will be truly international and the Promised Event with speakers and registrants hailing from round the globe. Among the nearly 20 nations represented to date are New Zealand, American Samoa, the Americas and all of Europe.

As announced, the keynote speaker will be Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli society today. (See the website for his full biography.) Rabbi Lau, a child survivor of the Holocaust,  carries a crucial message for genealogists regarding their research.

We are delighted to announce that master genealogist Dick Eastman will deliver a speech at the closing banquet. In the mid-1980s, at the dawn of the World Wide Web, Eastman pioneered one of the first online Genealogy Forums. By 1996, he created a weekly online newsletter called "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter" which has now grown from a circulation of 100 to more than 60,000 genealogists worldwide.

And when you join us for the conference, don’t miss the pre-conference festivities:
PRE-CONFERENCE SHABBATON on the Friday-Saturday, July 3 -4 weekend preceding the Conference, followed by an UNFORGETTABLE “EXPLORATION SUNDAY” on July 5. Full and fascinating details are on the conference website www.iajgs2015.org.

THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM!  See you in Jerusalem in July for the momentous and exciting 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy!

Thank you for sharing this information, Barbara.


23 March 2015

Gathering for Genetically Linked People

What an interesting idea for a conference...and so inexpensive and for a good cause!

Extracted from announcement today:

Family Tree DNA has partnered with The Global Family Reunion to create the first-ever gathering that brings together genetically linked people (However, I did have a three-day conference in 2012 which brought together genetically linked people in my Talley project.) This gathering will "deepen your understanding of your genetic past and meet your cousins from around the world..."

The announcement continues as follows:

All Family Tree DNA members are being offered a limited-time early-bird price of $25 for the event.

Event Details

When:  June 6, 2015
Where:  New York Hall of Science, New York City

Click here for early bird tickets and more information.

Click here for exclusive reward packages!

The offer is only available until April 1, 2015.

All proceeds from the Global Family Reunion go to benefit the Cure Alheimer's (sic Alzheimer's) Fund and the Alzheimer's Association NYC.

If you can't make it to New York, there will be simultaneous festivals around the world with a livestream of speakers.

The Global Family Reunion will be an entertaining, eye-opening festival for all ages - a TED conference meets a World's Fair - so bring your kids, nephews, grankids, and grandparents.  All proceeds from the event go toward fighting Alzheimer's Disease.

What can you expect at Global Family Reunion?
...See more than 30 top speakers with fascinating presentations on genetics and family heritage, including Henry Louis Gates of PBS's Finding Your Roots, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, NPR host Scott Simon, and Family Tree DNA President Bennett Greenspan
...Meet thousands of cousins and figure out how you are related
...Explore more than 450 interactive science exhibits from the New York Hall of Science
...Enjoy live entertainment, including music by Sister Sledge, who will be singing "We Are Family," of course.  There will also be comedy from The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz and comedian Nick Kroll
...Take part in family-themed trivia contests, scavenger hunts, games, and potato sack races for those who are bold
...Help build the biggest family tree ever
...Meet the staff form Family Tree DNA, as well as Family Tree DNA partners such as MyHeritage and Findmypast, and get exclusive tutorials
...Break world records, including the biggest family photo ever

The Global Family Reunion has already been featured in the New York Times, TED, Good Morning America, NPR, People magazine and many more.

The Huffington Post called it "so fun." Conan O'Brien said it is "fascinating," and NPR's Scott Simon said "I wouldn't miss it."

All Family Tree DNA members are invited.  Those who are genetically linked to Global Family Reunion founder and author A.J. Jacobs will be tallied in our attempt to break the record for most number of related people gathered in one place.  Our hope is to beat the current world record of 4, 512.

If you'd like to contact AJ directly, you can reach him at info@worldfamily.us

Bennett Greenspan
President, Family Tree DNA

Join in the fun!

25 November 2014

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale!

Need a holiday gift?  Don’t know what to get those who have everything?

Give them what they already have…their DNA! 

Each year, Family Tree DNA has a sale for the entire month of December, and all the major tests and upgrades are included!  It begins today and ends Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM Central. 

Testing a family member or friend can reveal matches with others who relate to you that you have never met. These new relatives may have some additional information on your family and some photos you do not have.  It can help you find new genealogical research partners. DNA is the gift that keeps on giving...matches continue appearing over time.  That’s a lot of gifts for the holiday!

This year’s December sale prices:

BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

Family Tree DNA has another gift for you…

Introducing…  Drum roll, please…Ta Da!

..........Mystery Rewards

This year, FTDNA has a new twist on their annual December sales.  Not only are there discounted prices, but there is a randomized discount up to $100 off that can be applied ON TOP of the Holiday sale prices!  WOW, two gifts in one!

The Mystery Reward icon will appear on the testers’ myFTDNA dashboard each week and the code will expire the night before the next Mystery Reward appears. (See above icon.)

When you click the icon, you'll to go to the reward page (see below) to open the Mystery Reward which can be a savings up to $100.

BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

FTDNA will send an email notification to the kit’s primary email address when a new code is available for use or sharing for the next Mystery Reward.

WHAT?  There’s more than one Mystery Reward?  YES!

Best of all, there will be a new Mystery Reward every week. Customers can use this Mystery Reward discount, or they can share it with a friend or relative by using the graphic below.  


In addition, all customers who have purchased the Big Y test will receive a coupon for $50 off another Big Y test.

This coupon, like that below, that can be used ON TOP of a sale price during the holiday sale, and it can also be "re-gifted," to a friend, relative or fellow project member.

I’ve lost track!  How many gifts is that?

It is definitely time to order or upgrade your FTDNA test with this amazing sale!  Share this information with friends, family and strangers!  You never know who else may match you!  Hopefully ME!

Have a great holiday whichever it may be!