Grandma’s Genes Year End Review – Networking

Grandma’s Genes is winding down 2016 with a mind towards the things that most influenced our work. Aside from the blueberry pies, presentations, research, Swab-A-Thons, field trips, conferences, phone calls, blog posts etc., there is one major take-away.

Networking.

Networks connect us all. We drive to our jobs on a network of roads. We communicate with each other over a network of airwaves or wires or through the vast web of the internet. We have a network of support – friends, family and the baker down the street. Even our neighbor next door is a thread in the Network of our Lives.

How we connect to our networks is just the facility of that connection. What matters is the content.
WikiTree

If I hadn’t joined WikiTree in December 2013, the mother load of genealogy networking and collaboration, and turned this many, many year passion into a mystery solving venture that pays for my blueberry pies? I would still be just answering family queries and would never have learned the joy of genealogical collaboration. Collaboration on such a stratospheric level. I posted once about how WikiTree has given me an education beyond my university degree in WikiTree’s G2G Forum. That was a year ago – I must be working toward my WikiTree doctorate now.

23andMe

As such, I have been able to solve a 90 year old mystery, fairly quickly (8 months to find her father), because I was able to use a Network to make a connection. 23 and me connected me with Jane and her family who in turn helped connect Betty Jean to half of her birth family.

Facebook

A woman posted in Gauldings page on Face Book about a common Ancestor. She found an obituary stating our common ancestor was a Captain in the revolution under Francis Marion. In all the research anyone has ever done on this man, he was not a soldier in the revolution. He served as a Petit Juror. He also might have been providing supplies to the troops – no one knows for sure. She used Facebook to find me and my very underwhelming answer to her question, “was John Gaulding a Captain under Francis Marion?” “No…”

A man who believed a long held family story that his gggrandfather was adopted into a family of African Canadian’s has been able to find interest in the real story. This story told mainly by his DNA and supported by the network of other distant cousins who had heard and believed or not believed the story. These distant cousins are all testing their DNA now and finding that they too have a connection to a very rich African ancestry. These distant cousins have also created their own network, on Facebook, so that others who are not in the know can find the truth and their heritage through them.

Mother Nature

If mother natures network of weather hadn’t dumped 20 + cm of snow on Ottawa in a matter of a few short hours last year, the idea that became Grandma’s Genes would not have formed into what it is today. Marc, my fellow shoveler on that day, has moved on to work in his day-job field full time. During the year, though, he helped an adoptee find his fathers family. Marc helped so many with Indigenous roots find the right identity for themselves and possibly take the true meaning of being connected to an indigenous ancestor with them into their new found knowledge of self. Marc also made long sought connections within his own genealogy through research and networking with others who have connections to his indigenous lines – to his Quaker lines – to his southern lines.

Moving Forward Through Networking

For me? I found a path which has been made stronger, straighter and more focused than I would have ever thought imaginable. Only with the help of my network of family, friends, partners, genealogists, geneticists, clients and all those ancestors long passed, has Grandma’s Genes grown into what it is today. What it will become tomorrow.

Thank you, every – single – point on our network – one of you.

 

Betty Jeans Adoption Search – The DNA

Betty Jean had her DNA tested with 23andMe in an attempt to find out if she had any medical issues which she may have passed along to her children. Along with her health test, she was also was in 23andMe’s Genetic pool of genes. Having her genes in DNA gene Pools will help us in her adoption search.

23andMe

On first look, Betty Jean’s information included some fairly close cousin’s. The closest was a predicted 2nd cousin sharing 1.76% of their DNA. There were 12, 2nd to fourth cousin matches. I sent notes to all of them via 23andMe’s internal messaging system.

I also took some time to look to see if there were any common surnames in these matches. There were – Brotherton and Howard. At the time 23andMe had no DNA analytical tools, so I immediately downloaded Betty Jean’s raw DNA Data file (to download a DNA Data File from 23andMe see this help information) and uploaded it to GEDmatch (you must register for GEDmatch to be able to upload) via the Generic Upload Fast New, Beta.

NOTE: 23andMe has recently added DNA analysis tools which lets it’s users do chromosome mapping and comparisons to other matches. This is great news for anyone who has their DNA tested with 23andMe. It does not preclude a tester from uploading data to GEDmatch, because a tester would want to have their DNA in GEDmatch’s large Gene pool along with people (anyone who uploaded their raw data to GEDmatch) from all the testing companies.

Betty Jean’s GEDmatch Matches

After uploading Betty Jean’s Raw data file from 23andMe we found Betty Jean’s genes swimming in the pool with many of her close cousins – the big one was a 1st cousin once removed at 342.8 total cM.

GEDmatch Matches
Betty Jean’s top GEDmatch matches.

What do we know from this list? Not much for this search since we don’t have any family line we can identify in the matches at face value, without being able to correlate the information with her matches family trees. GEDmatch does have a GEDCOM upload function, but not many of Betty Jean’s matches had their family trees on GEDmatch.

Gathering Family Trees

Again, using the emails for the matches on GEDMatch I sent emails explaining that Betty Jean Matched them and asking if they have family tree’s online or available for access in some other way. I also contacted Jane to discuss the matches. Jane and I spent a bit of time exchanging emails and connecting the dots of Betty Jean’s matches to Jane’s tree.

Remember the 20 foot tree I printed of Jane’s Ancestry Tree? At first I started trying to jump around that monster to mark where the matches landed in the tree. It was cumbersome and frustrating and I had to come up with a better way to be able to see ALL of it at once, and…

There was one more thing about Jane’s tree that needed some space to work-out. It seemed from a quick scan that the Howard and Brotherton lines, as well as other lines that married into them, were a product of Endogamy.

Endogemy Defintition
Google Search

Endogamy is not uncommon in the US colonies as our social spheres were limited by small communities and vast distance between them. This occurred in Appalachia to an extent that one often hears jokes about “my cousin is my wife”. Jokes aside, the area of North Carolina where the Howard’s and Brotherton’s lived is on the outside edge of Appalachia.

Why should Endogamy be something we need to look into carefully and closely? Simply put, it skews the numbers. If cousins marry, then the DNA mix is a mix from one family rather than two. So there is a double infusion of Genes.

My Map of Betty Jean’s Family

It started with one single 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. In the middle of that first sheet of the paper I wrote a list of Betty Jean’s top matches, the 12 Jane had in her tree and a few more. Then I started adding lines back. Creating pedigree charts from the DNA matches for each of the family lines identified by the DNA and Jane’s tree. As I went I added more blank sheets to fill in as I added family. At this point the Howard’s and Brotherton’s were extending to the right, radially from the DNA matches circle in the middle. I added papers to the map so that it was 3 sheets long and 3 sheets wide. Thankfully Jane’s tree was now easy to see, even with all the complicated connections within the Howard and Brotherton families.

For each person added to my map, I added or connected them to WikiTree to create Betty Jeans birth/mirror tree. It was a great help having WikiTree’s relationship tools at the ready to help me define how these people might be connected to Betty Jean. It also helped me when trying to decipher Jane’s voluminous emails on family connections.

 

Betty Jean’s Adoption Search – Begin At The End

Betty Jean’s Adoption Search

Begin at the end? Well yes. To find Betty Jeans birth family we have to start with her. Since she is the descendant of her parents – we have to start with her. Since there is nothing in her adoption file – we have to start with her. Since technology has progressed to a point where we can scour the world’s birth, death, marriage, newspaper, city directory and family tree records with ease and ultimately submit DNA tests – we have to start with Betty Jean. She is the end, the end result of her mother and father, the people we want to find.

The Genealogy

Betty Jean has no Genealogy, or does she? Of course she does, it just doesn’t connect to her… yet.

March 1, 2016 – The first step in working her Genealogy was to go to WikiTree and connect her to what I had already input for our shared/her adopted family by creating her adopted profile. Then I created her birth profile. WikiTree is the program I use for all of my genealogy, including clients. WikiTree’s collaborative, connective mindset paired with its tools for DNA makes it ideal.

The DNA

Later in the month, on March 23, Betty Jean gave me her 23andMe information. Yes, Betty Jean had already done a 23andMe test. She had done it because, like so many other adoptees, she wanted to find medical information she could share with her children regarding any inherited medical issues. As for using DNA to find her birth family? She may have thought about DNA connections at the time, though it wasn’t at the top of her list.

She had been contacted through 23andMe’s internal messaging by a few people who found they shared DNA with her. But she didn’t know what to do with it as she had no idea who she was. She couldn’t share any family information nor identify from the messages, any names which belonged to her.

Answering all the 23andMe messages, I explained who I was and what I was doing.  I also looked through her matches, and found something very interesting right off the bat – a first cousin, once removed. I frantically sent this match a note stating that she was Betty Jean’s highest match her closest know living relative. Boda Boom Bada Bing it’s done! Just grab this cousins family information and genealogy and that’s it. Wow how easy was that?

It was not that easy

This new first cousin once removed is adopted too. No quick and easy answers.

March 28, 2016 – I sent 26 emails to Betty Jean’s 23andMe DNA matches. While I waited for responses (two were immediate) I added her 23andMe test information to her WikiTree birth profile. Then I downloaded her raw DNA data from 23andMe and uploaded it to GEDmatch. “GEDMatch is a free service that helps you find even more relatives than 23andme’s relative finder. That’s because it also matches you with people who have uploaded their data from another genetics service called FtDNA (Family Tree DNA).” Google Search GEDmatch also accepts raw data from the other major genetic genealogy testing companies.

CeCe Moore uses the pond analogy to explain why you should upload your data to as many sites as you can, to test with as many companies as you can. The more ponds your genes are floating around in, the more likely you will find matches. GEDmatch is a big pond with user uploaded Genes from all the testing companies floating in it.

I sent 35 emails to Betty Jeans top GEDmatch matches. It goes without saying that every time I did anything with Betty Jean’s information, I asked her permission. With all the emails sent, I got many good responses. But I also hit the mother load of Genetic Genealogy Research. Another Genealogist who had already been working with Betty Jeans’s other adoptee match, her first cousin once removed. The match I mentioned above. Another Bada Bing Bada Boom and we are done right? Well, no.

A Huge Step In The Right Direction

A huge step in the right direction, but the answers will have to be teased from the information this other researcher, this other adoptee searcher, has been compiling. One other HUGE thing about this other researcher? Jane Howard Schenck is ALSO a DNA match to Betty Jean. This means that Jane has incredible knowledge about Betty Jean’s birth family not just from data and research, she has a memory of many of the people involved.

On March 28, 2016 I began a collaboration with Jane which would propel us toward finding Betty Jean’s birth family. I love collaboration!

Bada Boom Bada Bing!