21 December 2017

Finding Family

Mike sent this wonderful story of finding his family.  How wonderful to know your roots.  Thank  you so much for sharing as it no doubt will inspire others.

My father passed away in 1971 when I was 18. His absence from my life led me to want to learn more about him and his ancestors through genealogy research. Working with a group of other Moon researchers, we ran into a road block in 1771 with Abraham Moon. There were different spellings such as Mohn, Moon, Mohun, etc., and we could not find conclusive documentation to connect the lines.

In the early 2000s, DNA testing was becoming popular for genealogy purposes. Therefore, a group of us Moon researchers decided to take a DNA test to see if we could triangulate our names to hopefully make a connection with other Moon lines that were more established. 

Initially, I had a 12 and 25 marker YDNA test through Family Tree DNA. Those test results basically showed my male line matched to thousands of men throughout the world but no Moons. It wasn’t until I had a 37 marker YDNA test that I started matching to one particular name, Dunn. However, I could not figure out how a Dunn entered my Moon gene pool. I continued with the testing in hopes that the next level of DNA test would prove something more definitive. With the 6- marker test, I matched more Dunn’s but no Moons. Same with the 111-marker test. 

By this time, I was working with other Dunn’s and/or Dunn line administrators on what kind of tests to have and what the results meant. My mother was still living, and she made it clear that she didn’t like that I was doing the testing. She said she feared I might find some dark family secret. I laughed it off and assured her that it was far back in the Moon ancestry where the Dunn line came into our gene pool. 

Working with the Dunn administrator, I was advised to test my closest known male relative and with each match, find another male ancestor to be tested. Therefore, I had my brother tested first. Mom had already passed by that time (2006), and when I received my brothers YDNA test results, it showed that we didn’t match on any male ancestors. Which meant, we were not full brothers. I was shocked, as was everyone in our family. I was 55 at the time, and everything I thought I knew about my life was wrong. 

To make sure the results were right, FTDNA retested my sample, and it was the same as the first. We then had my brother (two and a half years older than me) and my sister (six years younger than me) tested with FTDNA’s autosomal tests. Their test results were clear, they were full siblings to each other and only half siblings to me.

Through much effort, my brother, sister, and I concluded that mom and dad split up for a short time after my brother was born in 1951 and got back together three months before my birth. We don’t know if they separated because mom cheated or that I was conceived while they were separated. Either way, my dad never made any difference in the way he treated me.

After the shock of the test results wore off, I decided to continue looking for my biological father and his family. I had the Big Y test done through FTDNA and then their autosomal test. However, none of the results proved anything, and I almost gave up because I’d spent a lot of money on all the family tests.

Then in 2015, I tried Ancestry.com’s autosomal test and the results were the same there. I matched some people connected to Dunn lines but no Dunn’s themselves and no one matched close enough to be even a fourth cousin. Then I received a message through Ancestry from a woman who asked how I was related to her daughter whose results showed she was a second cousin to me. We talked at length, and she agreed to be tested. Her results came back showing she was my first cousin. We knew by then this was my line, but we needed her uncle (one of five but only two still alive) to be tested. He was in a nursing home in Ohio, but we got him to submit a sample and his results came back as my uncle. My first cousin and I went through all the uncle’s pictures and agreed that I only looked like one of her uncles. She knew of the man, but the family wasn’t that close. She thought the one uncle had a daughter. I finally tracked her down, and at first, she was very resistant to doing the test. Finally, she agreed, and we both watched every day for the results to come back. Finally they did. I was driving in Florida when she called and said, “hello brother”.

Our dad died in 2010 but we are alike in a lot of ways. At least now I know she is my sister and that I have other nieces and nephews.  

                   Mike                                                             His dad, Sammy

Best wishes,


12 November 2017

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale!!!!

The Holiday Sale is HERE!

At the end of the FTDNA Conference in Houston today, they announced the sale for the holidays wish includes individual tests, bundles and upgrades!  Now is the time to test!

Individual Tests:
Family Finder (FF)                     $59            Reg.  $89
mtFull Sequence (FMS)           $169            Reg. $199
Y-37                                          $129            Reg. $169
Y-67                                          $229            Reg. $268
Y-111                                        $299            Reg. $359

Family Finder + Y-37                 $178            Reg. $238
Family Finder + Y-67                 $278            Reg. $337
FF + mtFull Sequence                $218           Reg. $268
FF + Y-67 + mtFull Sequence    $442            Reg. $536

mt/mtPlus to FMS                     $119           Reg. $159
Big Y *                                      $475           Reg. $575
Y-12 to Y-37                               $69            Reg. $109
Y-25 to Y-37                               $35            Reg.   $59
Y-37 to Y-67                               $79            Reg. $109
Y-37 to Y-111                           $168            Reg. $228
Y-67 to Y-111                             $99            Reg. $129

*  You must have a Y-37 test before being able to order a Big Y.  The Big Y does upgrade you to the Y-111 test, however.)

NOTE:  SNPs and SNP Packs will also be 15% off during the Holiday Sale.

Typically this sale runs until the end of December.


30 October 2017

The Triangulator

Many genetic genealogists have created tools to use witdirect-to-consumer DNA testing companies.  The list grows every year and allows the DNA tester to view their results and their matches in a wide variety of ways.  One of the basic issues genetic genealogists have is to determine Half-Identical Regions (HIRs) in order to help find the common ancestor(s) they share with a match.

You say WHAT?

Autosomal DNA (atDNA) is the test provided by 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and the one called Family Finder at Family Tree DNA. Although we share 50% of our mother's DNA and 50% of our father's DNA,  atDNA randomly combines with every person so one person does not inherit the same DNA segments as their their siblings, and we do not get equal amounts of DNA from our grandparents, etc.

We inherit 22 PAIRS of chromosomes (one chromosome of each pair comes from each parent) and a set of sex chromosomes.  Males get a Y-chromosome from dad and an X-chromosome from mom.  Females get an X from dad and an X from mom.

Only 23andMe and Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) provide a Chromosome Browser so we can see the segments we share with our matches.  23andMe does have a method of triangulating to determine if matches share the same segment with other matches you have.

At AncestryDNA, you must upload your raw data to GEDmatch, a third-party pool.  Even then, you are only compared with those from any of the companies who have also uploaded their raw data.  That is, you won't see information on the matches at AncestryDNA unless they have also uploaded to GEDmatch.

However, by looking at a Chromosome Browser, you cannot determine if your matches come from your father's side or your mother's side of the family as we get one chromosome from dad and one from mom for each pair of chromosomes.

Until now, DNA testers uploaded their matching segments into a spreadsheet and sorted them by chromosome, start position and end position to determine which matches could share the same segment.  At least three people must be matching on the same segment.  However, this method required an email to the group of three or more to see if all of them matched each other on the same segment (give or take a bit) on the same chromosome.  Those who matched each other on the same segment have a common ancestor and, therefore, share a common ancestor either your mom or dad's side. If someone doesn't match all in the group, that person shares a common ancestor on the other parent's side. This is called determining Half-Identical Regions.  (A Full-Identical Region would be those segments shared by identical twins and there could be some segments which are shared by siblings which match both parents.)

Göran Runfeldt of Sweden has developed a triangulation process using Family Tree DNA.  It has been dubbed The Triangulator.  Remember, this is still in Beta and does work best on a PC with Chrome.  However, Mac users have been able to use it.  See his site for instructions.

Instead of repeating all that others have said, I refer you to the following links which include some blogs on the issue as well as the directions.

Roberta J. Estes' blog:  DNAeXplained at https://dna-explained.com/2017/10/21/introducing-the-triangulator/

Göran Runfeld's instructions at https://dnagen.net/

Haplogroup blog at http://haplogroup.org/installing-goran-runfeldts-family-finder-segment-triangulator-chrome-extension/

Have fun!

06 October 2017

Biggie Changes for Big Y

The Big Y test was launched in November 2013 and is a test for males who have taken a Y-DNA 37, 67 or 111 STR test.  The Big Y refines a tester’s haplogoup as well as contributors to the overall knowledge of the Y Tree by increasing the number of known SNPs from hundreds to thousands. This helps testers find matches who are more closely related in genealogical time with the goal of finding SNPs that are particular to a family group.  Eventually, we will close the gap between genealogical time (existence of records) and ancient DNA. 

The Big Y can be helpful when documentation does not exist.  It has helped genealogists find locations in their former homeland as can be seen in my experience below.

My personal experience:
After having my cousin do a Y-test, I found he matched six other surnames even when I upgraded him to a Y-111.  The wonderful haplogroup administrators suggested that I do some SNP testing which I did.  Then the advent of the Big Y came, and I jumped in.  After having a tester from each of the six names my cousin matched, the haplogroup administrators told me we are part of the Seven Septs of County Laois (Ireland) which existed there in the mid-1600s and at that point my surname Doolin was actually Dowling.
               Well, this is wonderful as I was stuck in Virginia in the mid-1700s and had no ideas if my surname was Scots or Irish as my dad always said we were Scots-Irish.  Also, I had no idea where in either of those countries our ancestors lived.  I realized my lineage could have come from County Laois, but there was a hundred-year difference.
               Last October (2016), my cousin received a match on a Y-37 with a genetic difference of two. I asked Mr. Dowling to upgrade to a Y-111 which he did and then he took the Big Y. He lived in London and had his lineage back to 1795 in County Laois!  So, now we have to discover which of his family (maybe not his direct line, however) may have left Ireland about 1750.  Without the Big Y, I would have had little hope in knowing a probable location of my Doolin ancestors.  Now there is some light.

The news today is that Family Tree DNA is providing a better Big Y experience in a few ways…
On October 10th the changes in Big Y go live.  At that point Family Tree DNA will be recalculating Big Y matches and they anticipate this to take 5-7 days at which time you will be a page stating “Results Pending.  Once your results are updated, you will be notified, and after the transaction is complete, Family Tree DNA will update you as to when BAM files are available.

So what can you expect?

1.  Update to Human Genome 38
An update from Human Genome 19 to Human Genome 38 which is the most recent version and a more accurate representation of the human genome.  Advantages include:
•  Better mapping of NGS data to the proper location
•  Consideration of alternative haplotypes across the genome

For more information about human genome builds, click here.

2.  Terminal SNP Guide
A terminal SNP Guide allows you to view and filter the branches closest to the tester's terminal branch on the haplotree.

3.  BIG Y Browser
The ability to view your SNP data from Big Y. This will allow you to personally assess all SNP call positions that are being evaluated for matching purposes. This data will be continuously updated.



26 September 2017

Family Tree DNA - Sale on Family Finder


I just received the message below from Family Tree DNA on their Family Finder Sale.

This is a very good sale on a very useful product.  Remember that DNA kits can be kept for years if not exposed to heat (think trunk of the car in summer), so it may be wise to take advantage of this sale, especially before Sept 30 as it helps the hurricane relief efforts.

It is wise to test various 1st-3rd cousins, siblings, parents, and older generations.  This autosomal test provides matches up to the 5th and often though to the 10th generations, depending upon various situations (endogamy).  By testing cousins, you can often determine which line of your pedigree chart to search for the common ancestor of a match.  By testing parents, you can move the matches back one more generation from you.  By testing siblings, you can discover matches that don't match you as each person inherits differently.

This test is the most popular DNA test.  Although AncestryDNA does the same type of test, you cannot see the particular DNA segments you share with others.  Although 23andMe provides the same type of test and you can see the segments, it costs $99 plus shipping.  Family Tree DNA has their Family Finder test on sale for $69 (not inc. shipping).  Family Tree DNA is the only company of the major three that focuses only on genealogy.

If you already have a Y-DNA or mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA, just go to your personal webpages and order the Family Finder test.

Buy some tests for the future and for holiday gifts.

Thank you for testing...you may be my cousin!

Best wishes,

Dear Project Administrators,

Thank you for all the thoughts, prayers, and kind words received as Houston continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey. We appreciate your concern. We also send our best wishes to those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as by the wildfires in the western U.S. and the earthquakes in Mexico.

For a limited time, Family Finder is $69! 

This is not a sale, so we don’t have an end date. It’s a temporary price reduction, so take advantage of the reduced price now. And remember, a portion of all purchases made during September will be donated to hurricane relief efforts.

06 September 2017

Family Tree DNA and Havey


As all of you know Family Tree DNA is based in Houston.  Although the city and surrounding areas were devastated, their company had only minor issues with Harvey, and some of the staff's homes were not in danger, however, there are many staff members who have suffered in Harvey's grasp.

We all are sending prayers, good thoughts their way.  However, besides our heart-fell wishes, we can also help those in need through giving.

Family Tree DNA is donating a portion of their proceeds from the sale of ALL tests (including upgrades and paid transfers) during the month of September toward Hurricane Harvey's relief efforts.  There is a banner on their home page which displays the cumulative amount raised and will be updated twice daily.

By 11 a.m. today (Wednesday), they have raised $5,076.  

We all know that this damage is really in the billions.  Many of you have contributed to other organizations, but perhaps you can give a little more, and consider doing so again in coming months. It will take years to rebuild the damage.

Family Tree DNA employees are also helping out their employees who had damage. That is a different fund, however.

SO, purchase a few kits. They do keep as long as they are not in extreme heat (think...trunk of your car in the hot summer), and then locate relatives whom you wish to test.  If you are an administrator, purchase a few more kits to use for future project members either through a project scholarship or getting reimbursed later testers.

And...besides, some of you could be my close cousins so TEST!

Please give what you can.

Thank you and best wishes,

12 August 2017

McCarthy DNA Success

The following story was buried in a pile of papers, so I do not believe I have previously posted it. This helps prove that a genealogist never throws out anything!  Forgive me for this lengthy delay, Rita....

The Search for my McCarthy Line by Rita P.:  DNA the Winner!

I will try to keep my story short, but I do want people to understand that my first impulse was not to do DNA.  I have been researching for 30 years and had not succeeded with this line by regular means that genealogists use.  I even visited Ireland and spent most of three days researching church and civil records in Dublin.  I found my Burke line, but not even a lead on my McCarthy's.

As family legend had it, four McCarthy boys left southern Cork between the early 1880's and early 1890's.  Each boy came individually and helped the next make the trip.  Two came before their 18th birthdays so naturalization records were of no help.  They left their unhappy memories behind and left little for the proceeding generations to find.

After returning from Ireland I was very discouraged, but I did attend a workshop in Eugene where Emily Aulicino spoke about DNA.  It took me about a year to ask one of my brothers if he would do the Y-chromosome test for me, and much to my delight, he was willing.

We did a 25 marker test, and when I got the results I listed the results through the Family Tree DNA site with the McCarthy surname project.  I found a couple of close matches, but no one with 25 identical markers.

I watched and waited, hoping more people would take the test and someone would match up perfectly, but truly, I figured this was going to be something for later generations.

Then one day out of the blue came an e-mail from a gentleman living in England, Nigel McCarthy.  He was one marker off, but he thought it might be worth a try to see if we could connect our family lines.  Our McCarthy's were from the same general area so off he went on the hunt for my relatives with me supplying him with the little information I had.

Nigel has been able to find the birth records of my grandfather as well as his three brothers and a sister we did not know about.  He as found the death certificates for my great grandfather and his two wives.  One was the Mother of those four boys and the other his second wife and their family.  I now know that my ancestors came from Bealad, County Cork, Ireland.  I passed within several miles of this area on my trip.  I would now love to return to Ireland and visit this village.

Through both civil and church records, he has also determined the name of my great, great grandfather.  After many hours on his part in the London Family History Center and a trip to Dublin to look at records, he continues the hunt.  I have received 54 e-mails from him with many attachments and more information than I can handle some days.  I now continue to add information about my McCarthy family to my database with great joy.

I believe this is  not the end of the story, but only the beginning.

We have now decided to try the 37 marker test and adding a distant cousin of Nigel's to the mix.  This is to try to determine where the one marker changed, or if we are further apart than we first thought.

No matter what happens I now have a person that will continue to help me with my McCarthy genealogy and be a lifelong friend.

Thank you Rita for your story.