Showing posts with label genetic genealogy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label genetic genealogy. Show all posts

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Learning at the New York State Family History Conference

Wow, it was a wonderful conference experience yesterday at the New York State Family History Conference, held for the first time in Tarrytown, New York.

Not only did I get to see friends from multiple genealogy clubs and societies around the Northeast, I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best genealogy experts in the business.


My first session of the day was Cherie Bush's New York Records and Resources at FamilySearch.org.


Cherie demonstrated some of FamilySearch's most valuable features and highlighted several record sets that researchers should check for New York-area ancestors. (One record set that appeared in her list was something I need to investigate: Bronx Probate, 1914-1931.)

She also reminded us of smart ways to use the FamilySearch site, especially the super-valuable wiki. Here is her slide about which record sets to check first when researching birth, death, maiden name, and parents. (Cherie invited the audience to photograph any and all slides. Thank you!)
Next, Diahan Southard and David Nicholson presented The Science of Genetic Genealogy. Blaine Bettinger was in the audience, having just finished his session, "Shared Matches and Genetic Networks."

My top takeaway: The software used for matching people is getting much, much more sophisticated. Living DNA is planning to offer matching that will not just show where we are from and who we match, but also how each match relates to us. In essence, the software would automate the match-analysis process that Blaine Bettinger described in his talk. Sounds promising!
After lunch, I snagged a seat in Thomas Jones's session, Genealogical Documentation: The What, Why, Where, and How. He reviewed, in detail, how to develop citations for sources we use in our genealogy research, saying: "Undocumented genealogy is useless because it can't be checked."

Many of us inherited handwritten family trees with no sources, leading to months or years of research for verification. If we properly cite our sources, those who come after us will be able to retrace our steps and also evaluate the quality of the sources we used. The idea is to allow later researchers to build on our work, rather than having to go back and check it over.

Mid-afternoon, a fun highlight was joining other Virtual Genealogical Association members for a group photo outside the exhibit hall. It was a pleasure to meet them in person--many for the first time!
My final session of the day was Judith Herbert's Ancestors of Meager Means and Even Less Fame in 19th Century NYC. She provided an in-depth explanation of why and how to conduct a surname study, with the case study of an ancestor. Very time-consuming, detailed research and analysis technique that can't be used if the name is Smith or Jones (or, as in my husband's case, Wood) because of the unwieldy number of people who would have to be evaluated.

The entire audience laughed when Judith showed a death cert where the spaces for names of father and mother had a dash. Helpful, Judith noted, only if your ancestor's given name was "dash."

Saturday, June 9, 2018

V7a Mitochondrial Results and Next Steps

Finally, this week I received the results of my FamilyTree DNA mitochondrial test purchased at RootsTech 2018.

As shown above, my mother's mother's line is haplogroup V7a and its origins are in Northern/Eastern Europe and beyond to Russia. Apparently, this is not a common haplogroup, and it explains the odd trace of Iberian DNA mentioned in my Ancestry results.

My mitochondrial DNA traces back through my mother, Daisy Schwartz, to her mother, Hermina Farkas, then to Hermina's mother, Leni Kunstler and Leni's mother, Toby Roth. 

Toby is my 2d great-grandma, who was probably born early in the 1800s. She married Shmuel Zanvil Kunstler, who died in 1869 and is buried in a tiny cemetery with other Kunstler ancestors. My wonderful genealogy-minded cousin B ventured to the town (in modern-day Ukraine) to see the headstones 20 years ago. Only because of her trip have we been able to understand our tree's connections with Roth cousins and Kunstler cousins today.

Now what? Here are my MtDNA next steps, which are in progress:

  • Completed FTDNA pedigree to include mother's family tree as far back as I know it. This was a high priority because others who find me in their list of matches will instantly be able to compare surnames and locations. If only every DNA match in my list had a Gedcom or pedigree linked to their results!
  • Updated my Gedmatch profile to show V7a haplogroup and check matches for that haplogroup. So far, no family trees for the very, very few mtDNA matches...and the matches are for small chromosome segments, with most recent common ancestors more than 4 generations back. Also checking for matches in common with my matches. These may offer me clues to focus future searches.
  • To do: Use the MtDNA tools on the International Society of Genetic Genealogy site to learn more about interpreting the data and extending my research.
  • To do: Scrutinize the V7a matches on FTDNA (shown on map above), which are mostly concentrated in Europe with a few in other areas. Compare with matches on other sites (Ancestry and Gedmatch, for instance) to see whether I can get more specific when I do contact solid matches.
  • To do: Formulate a new, brief "query" note to send to DNA matches, mentioning my MtDNA as well as surnames/locations on my tree. The more concise and specific, the easier it is for matches to read and -- hopefully! -- respond with a synopsis of their genealogical backgrounds.
Looking forward to new genealogical adventures in DNA land!


Friday, June 1, 2018

DNA Results: Not Even Close






























Dear cousins I don't yet know but hope are out there,

Up front, I have to say I'm sincerely grateful for all the cousins I've connected with through genealogy! I treasure our kinship, our friendship, and the shared history of our ancestors.

But I can't help wondering: Do I have more cousins I haven't yet found?

Of course I'm using conventional methods to trace all the branches of my tree. I've also hopped on the genetic genealogy bandwagon, posting my results to multiple sites. New matches pop up regularly.

However, as shown above in last week's Ancestry DNA matches (sorted by date, not relationship) most are not even close. At best, if I followed up on this lot, I might find a 5th cousin. And only one of these matches is in the "good confidence" range.

Even more discouraging, just 4 of this week's crop have bothered to post any kind of family tree. Two of those are private trees, making it difficult to check out potential relationships. The latest matches on other DNA sites are also distant cousins, and therefore not high on my priority list.

When Family Tree DNA finally delivers my long-awaited mtDNA analysis results (delayed three times already), I want to use that data to focus on my maternal line.

So, dear cousins I don't yet know, I hope we connect with each other. Don't be a stranger.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the #52Ancestors prompt, "so far away," my starting point for this post.