Sutton Hoo is the site of an East Anglian, AD 600 burial. When discovered this burial revealed large quantities of lavish grave goods belonging to a person of high status. But other than the assumption the person is most likely male, and given the large mustache in the design of the helmet, there is little evidence about who this person really was – no DNA.
East Anglian Chief or King?
Based on the grave goods and the size of the ship, could this burial have been for an East Anglian Chief or King and could someone be related to him?
This question came up in the WikiTree G2G Forum today, Sutton Hoo Connections. The poster ran down a quick pedigree…”descent from King Alfred of England. By a little digging round, I found that he descends from AEthelwulf of Wessex, Ecgbert III of Wessex, his mother, an unnamed Anglian princess and daughter of AEthelbert II of Kent, son of Wihtred of Kent, son of Egbert I of Kent, son of Sexburga of East-Anglia (princess), daughter of Anna, King of East Anglia , who was son of Eni of East Anglia, brother of Redwald, King of East Anglia, who was almost certainly the gentleman buried at Sutton Hoo!!!!!!”
I answered honestly albeit a bit tongue in cheek, “I can supposedly go back to Harold. The fella who lost to William and lay the land open for the Normans. I am waiting for John Smeeckle (one of our great WikiTree Researchers) to find the break in my lines and disprove it.
My suggestion? Get male line descendants to do YDNA tests and try to get information on any DNA work/studies being done on the Pre-Norman Royal Chiefs/Kings. Be a real bummer to do all the DNA testing only to find that the burial belonged to a Woman, a Chieftess or Queen (we can ignore the big mustache on the helmet).”
The Female Break
My suggestion to do male line DNA tests is an honest suggestion. There is, however, a slight problem with the pedigree given, “his mother, an unnamed Anglian princess and daughter of AEthelbert II of Kent…” If there is a female in this line of descent no amount of Y-DNA testing will confirm a connection. If this pedigree is correct we can’t do a Y-DNA line directly back to Redwald.
Are there Anglo Saxon Chief/Chieftess DNA studies going on right now?
Yes. According to Dr Stephan Schiffels, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridgeshire and the Max Plank Institute in Germany, “38% of the ancestors of the English were Anglo-Saxons. This information was derived “By sequencing the DNA from ten skeletons from the late Iron Age and the Anglo-Saxon period, we obtained the first complete ancient genomes from Great Britain…”PhysOrg
Other information on this: BBC – English DNA ‘one-third’ Anglo-Saxon
“The project was created to find a common ancestor among those who have surnames of an Anglo Saxon origin or those who live or have ancestry in the lands once occupied by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Frisians andFranks.” and “will accept only those people that have tested with a SNP associated with Germanic origins.”
I still say grab a few of your Male cousins and jump in to the Gene pool on this one.
This is a Lydia Gaulden Shout out. When I discovered Raven Symoné’s mothers surname is Gaulden my curiosity was piqued.
Who is Raven Symoné?
The adorable kid on Cosby, “American actress, singer, songwriter, television personality, and producer”, WikiPedia the former outspoken co-host of the View.
My interest is not so much in Raven, it’s her Gaulden’s I want to know about!
Could we have a Gaulden Cannection?
A part of my Sumter, South Carolina Gaulden Family headed west. Martha Gaulden married Francis Richardson and migrated to Mississippi . They lived in Woodville, MS which is close enough to New Orleans that my ggg Dempsey Gaulden spent time there.
“Dempsey Gaulden was born in Sumter County, South Carolina in about 1767. He may have migrated with his brother William or sister Martha (Patsy) to Mississippi about five years after the revolutionary war.As a young man Dempsey raced horses in New Orleans.
According to Laura Gaulden Bailey he married ‘(wife’s name unknown) and left at least two sons: John Sidney and _________, father of Sam Gaulden of Windsor County, Mississppi. This information is furnished by John Sidney Gaulden.’ If she got this information first hand from John Sidney Gaulden and he was indeed a son of Dempsey this adds two new , and older sons, for Dempsey than I have in any information about him.” WikiTree
Dempsey sows his wild oats and is back in SC in 1830 working on my part of his family with no sign of Sidney, etc.
Raven Symoné has origins in the south, possibly Louisiana, so I hear. Though it doesn’t matter where, since she is a Gaulden, I want to know how, and who and where in the gene pool we connect. I would like to learn about her family lines and hopefully find some common genetic cousins to connect the story.
I am looking for someone, somewhere, somehow to put me in contact with Raven’s momma Lydia Gaulden Pearman, so I can cure my curiosity.
Come On Social Media Connect your Grandma! Let’s go Viral!
Share, Share, Share, Spread, Spread, Spread. Please and Thank you!
“GEDmatch now connects to your WikiTree (Global) family tree!” as the title to this post is a complete cut and paste of the title, along with some quotes, of Maggie’s post in the WikiTree G2G (WikiTree’s Genealogist to Genealogist Forum). Thank you Maggie for helping a Grandma out.
DNA Connections Out The Wazoo
Maggie’s post to G2G was pretty short and sweet. She found a “bunch” of new cousins at WikiTree using GEDmatch’s One to Many Tier 1 utility.
GEDmatchTier 1 utilities are a paid subscription tool that provides deeper analytical tools for Genealogists. It's $10.00 a month. $10.00 that goes a long way toward helping our community have access to GEDmatch all the way around. It is money well spent and for a good cause.
Description of GEDmatch As A Gene Pool
To use CeCe Moore’s metaphor, DNA for Genealogy is useful when you have your DNA in as many Gene Pools as you possibly can. If you have tested at Ancestry, 23andMe, Genographic Project, Family Tree DNA (or My Heritage via Family Tree DNA) or WeGene, you should post your results to as many places as possible for analysis and matches.
GEDmatch has a pool filled with Genes from testers from all the testing companies. It may not be a complete pool from any one of the companies, but it is certainly a larger pool than having your results in just one of the pools (testing companies). Not to mention what you can do with you Data once it’s there.
GEDmatch and WikiTree
“In the GEDmatch’s new Tier 1 One-to-Many, I automatically see which of my matches have a WikiTree ID. Clicking on that link displays their compact ancestral tree showing up to eight generations of ancestry…
…My paternal aunt has over 6
5 relatives in GEDmatch who have WikiTree ID’s. Her GEDmatch ID is T527089″. – Peter Roberts
How it works
“We have been encouraging members to connect WikiTree IDs with GEDMatch IDs for a few years. When you enter a test, you can enter your GEDMatch ID.
Test data on WikiTree has always been public (even though your family connections or personal info may be private) so anyone could connect the dots. But to make it easy for GEDMatch we’re giving them downloads…
…We have 15,791 GEDMatch kit IDs connected to WikiTree IDs. Of those, GEDMatch was only able to validate 14,155.” – Chris Whitten
How “Fresh” is the information?
Farm to table? Farm to Farmers Market? Farm to Supermarket? Pretty fresh considering how easy it is for this to happen.
“How frequently are you sending updates to GEDmatch?” – Anne Powers
“We don’t know yet. It’s an easy thing on both sides, so it should be frequent. We’re hoping to make it live at some point, i.e. when you enter or edit a GEDmatch ID here it immediately updates.” Chris Whitten
“When you post a DNA test on a WikiTree profile, WikiTree needs to be able to see the profile Family Tree tab to make DNA connections down the ancestral lines. Please be sure that the Privacy level on the profile and all of the ancestors are at a level that allows everyone to see the Family Tree tab. That is either:
Pale Yellow – Private with Public Biography and Family Tree. This is the same as Private but anyone can view the biography and family tree.
Pale Peach – Private with Public Family Tree. Same as Private but anyone can view the family tree. Other individuals in the tree can still be private.
Green – Public. Anyone can view the full profile but only the Trusted List can edit it. The default for non-living people under 200 years old except when added as nuclear relatives of living people. Not an option for living people.
White – Open. Anyone can view the full profile and any member who has signed the Wiki Genealogist Honor Code can edit it. Required for people over 200. Not an option for living people.” – WikiTree DNA Project Features and Extensions
These Privacy Levels insure that the profiles you manage can be seen by someone who finds you in GEDmatch’s Tier 1, One To Many Tool. If you have your privacy level any higher you won’t be able to share the WikiTree Profiles you Manage.
As Free as WikiTree would be great but…
I am already a Tier 1 member. But I re-upped this morning because of this. I also wonder how many of the 498 WikiTree Volunteer Genealogists who have seen the G2G post have also upgraded to Tier 1 and how many more will join GEDmatch.
We WikiTree have proven to be pretty awesome when we get together to do something, like unintentionally slamming the Family Search servers during the Source-A-thon weekend. If enough of our WikiTreer’s join the GEDmatch Teir 1 will GEDmatch opt to make it free?
“I am disappointed that the new One-to-Many with the WikiTree connections is only for Tier 1 members. It sounds like they haven’t decided if or when it will be opened for non-paying members. Regardless, I know we will be doing more GEDmatch-WikiTree connections.” – Chris Whitten
In Praise of Peter Roberts
“Peter humbly does not mention that he’s the reason this came together.
Peter has tirelessly lobbied for GEDmatch-WikiTree connections for years. Finally, at the Houston FTDNA conference a few months ago, he made contact with GEDMatch’s John Olson.” – Chris Whitten
At the BIFHSGO (British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa) meeting on Saturday this grandma showed up with DNA test kits for anyone to take home and with answers to common DNA test specific questions. One of the many questions asked has prompted me to post about it. “How long is my DNA sample viable for further testing at FTDNA (Family Tree DNA)?”
The Short Answer
Until they run out of sample to use. “…we will not need to request additional samples. This is only necessary if we have exhausted the samples that you have already provided. If additional samples are needed, we will send a new collection kit to the primary address on the account.“The Test Process, FTDNA
The Long Answer
The question was from a Gentleman who had submitted his original DNA sample about ten years ago to FTDNA and it was about upgrading his results to the newest version of the DNA test.
The 10 Year Old DNA Sample
This original sample would have been for a YDNA or mtDNA test. The original test was made with the existing test apparatus at the time, YDNA and mtDNA testing performed by FTDNA does not use chips or chip sets. Bead chips (BeadArray Microarray technology) are used for autosomal and X chromosome testing by AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTree DNA’s Family Finder.
The original sample can be used to do an auDNa test as well, using the latest and greatest chip set on FTDNA.
As stated above, you could use the original ten year old sample until there was nothing left of the sample to test. When you run out, FTDNA will send you a new test kit to submit a new sample.
Other Testing Companies
This question as it relates to AncestryDNA, was covered by Roberta Estes in May 2016 in her blog, DNA Explained, Ancestry Modifies Their Autosomal DNA Chip. Ancestry does no store your sample after the sample has been used once. She states, “If you retest today, you’ll have to handle both tests separately in your account. There is currently no way to merge tests, so you’ll have an old one and a new one. There is no “best of both worlds.” There is no way to preserve stars or notes or anything you may have done to one account and transfer to a different account. About the only thing you could do is, in time, to compare to see if you continue to have the same matches on both chips as more people test on the new chip. and 23andme do not store your sample so to get your test redone using the latest chip set for them you would have to submit a new sample for testing.”
23andme does not keep your sample for further testing.
My Heritage? My Heritage is a repackaging of FamilyTree DNA’s Family Finder test, so this auDNA test sample would be kept on file at FamilyTree DNA, though I don’t know how many hoops you’d have to jump through to get an upgrade via FamilyTree DNA using a sample sent in from My Heritage. This is from an industry insider – still no reply from My Heritage.
Not complaining about the wait. I have also been trying to call FTNDA on and off today to ask another client related kit question and can’t get through. I am sure it’s all the crazy advertising that was done over the holidays slamming all testing company’s phone lines. If you need me, I will be perpetually on hold with the knowledge that more and more people are getting out and testing!
Thanks to Peter Roberts, my good friend and hero (his other title is Associate Professor and Archivist at Georgia State University it really should be something closer to Genetic Genealogy Geek) for input on this blog post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Jean’s adoption search is all in the family. She ended her Adoption search years ago with her family, her husband, by her side. There was nothing to find. Then many, many years later a cousin (me) asked if she could start the process all over again. The physical search itself is all about looking in the nooks an crannies of the Howard/Brotherton family for people living in, or being in, Asheville, NC in 1926/7. The Howard’s and Brotherton’s are the family who hold the clues that will lead to an end to Betty Jean’s adoption search – 90 years after her birth.
Her 1st Cousin Once Removed, The Other Adoptee, Pat
To tell Betty Jean’s story we have to tell a bit about Pat’s story. Pat is a generation or so younger than Betty Jean. She is, like Betty Jean, adopted and looking for her birth family. Pat got a DNA test done in the hopes of the DNA being the key to he mystery. It was/is.
Jane, the Genealogist/Adoption Researcher who is a member of the Howard and Brotherton family, was also her key. But there was another key to Pat’s search, something every adoptee wished they had.
The letter comes from a time before the agency would offer to find birth parents. She paid them a fee to go through the microfiche records to see what non-identifying information existed. It was a weird experience for her to read that letter because of the similarities in some of the her family hobbies.
Subsequent communications from the adoption agency to Pat also gave more information on the birth mother and birth father. Like occupations, religion, height and ultimately what the cause of death was for her birth father – cancer.
The Howard/Brotherton Connection
Why these two families? Because of the number of people who have done DNA testing with strong connections to these two family lines who also match Pat.
Armed with the clues in the Agency’s non-identifying communications, Jane hit the pavement running. Tracking down anyone in the Howard or Brotherton families who were in the professions listed for Pat’s birth parents. She also scoured the geographic locations.
Eventually Jane found Charlotte, NC as the common geographic denominator in the equation. She located a few Brotherton’s who matched the profession of Pat’s birth father. Then worked to determine if one of them could have crossed paths with Pat’s birth mothers profession. She interviewed people who new Pat’s possible birth fathers and anyone else who could give the answer to the questions Jane asked.
I became involved at this point and started hashing out the family connections using the DNA numbers – cM’s (measurement in DNA) of matches and generations to MCRA (most common recent ancestor) estimates, one to one comparisons, one to many comparisons, GEDcom + DNA searches, in common with, not in common with, overlapping segments, triangulation, working the patterns slowly appearing in WikiTree DNA Sanbox, all to whittle down the possible candidates. Whittle is the appropriate word because it wasn’t a BINGO moment, it was slow and deliberate process of elimination. Just like slowly morphing a piece of wood into a shape.
Janes’ work, and my bit of back-up, found the shape that is Pat’s birth father. A Brotherton.
Health and focus
For me Pat’s birth father was circled on my big DNA/Pedigree Chart (the chart I created to help me understand Jane and Pat’s and, soon to be Betty Jean’s, crazy confusing family tree). Somewhere in that tangled mess of limbs lay Betty Jean’s birth something.
At about the same time, just as Pat’s father was confirmed, Betty Jean contacted me with some worries about her health. Doctors visits and traveling for appointments were in her very near future. Betty Jean was nearly 90, and I didn’t know how serious her health issues might be, so we, Jane and I, turned the majority of our focus toward the work to find Betty Jean’s birth family.
Finding the patterns in genetic genealogy research is really a fundamental thing we do when looking for the clues to our roots. Even in traditional genealogy, looking at a pedigree chart reveals patterns in geographical locations, dates and names which help our research. Looking for patterns is not new, even if we don’t realize we do it.
How do we find the patterns are we looking for? Spreadsheets?
Betty Jean’s Raw Data is file loaded to GEDmatch. If we do a One to Many matches analysis we can capture the entire results list via cut and paste, and insert it into a spreadsheet. We can grab similar results lists from most of the DNA testing or results companies. Getting all the formats similar in a spreadsheet takes some juggling and tweaking but it’s worth it. It is made easier by learning how to create things like separate first, middle, maiden and last name entries by converting text to columns and using filters to clean-up the columns. Sorting is a whiz, once you have all the information in a sortable state.
Sort your spreadsheets by Chromosome, Segment Locations and Last Name and you have a pretty clear view to the people on the sheets who share your DNA and where they share it.
Who do your Matches Belong to? What Familial Surname?
Don’t get that? Who is a matches MCRA (Most common Recent Ancestor) in common with you? Some of the files you download from the various companies give you common surnames. Well that helps, doesn’t it? Sometimes? They also show how many Generations back you might share one of those surnames (some people have 50 or more Surnames). That’s it. That is the answer!
Try adding each of those surnames to a sheet individually or using the text to columns conversion and…
Family Trees and Pedigree Charts
Aside from adding columns upon columns of surnames to your spread sheet there really isn’t any way (that I know of) to add a pedigree or family tree to a spreadsheet – it might be doable, but…I don’t have enough finger tips or time for that.
There are great places where you can upload your GEDCOM to a DNA testing or analysis site, but the DNA isn’t in any way correlated with the tree. It’s just there and you have to use your brain and knowledge of what you are working on to make any sense of it. ESPECIALLY if it’s further back than a generation or so.
But I have something…
I was at a conference in the spring of 2016 where some of the current icons of Genetic Genealogy were a part of a Panel Discussion on the future of Genetic Genealogy. Something brought up by one of the Panelists was that we don’t really have anywhere to make the connection between a World Family Tree and DNA.
I was a bit shocked and dismayed that not one of these Genetic Genealogy Icons brought up WikiTree. WikiTree, where genealogists collaborate on a true, single, world family tree. WikiTree, where I, you, them, anyone can add all current and future DNA test’s and have the test information auto-populate every single ancestor with that test information. For auDNA tests, back to at least our 64-4th great grandparents. For Y and mtDNA tests back into the depths of our shared pedigree. WikiTree even maps XDNA for it’s DNA tested members! WikiTree, where if something happens (in so many different scenarios), will carry on with nothing more than a hiccup for ever and ever – really. Not ONE mention.
This is where I start looking for patterns that aren’t obvious or easy to correlate anywhere else.
Take GEDmatch and it’s GEDCOM + DNA tool. I can scroll down a list of people to see the pedigrees of my matches. Once I find a Pedigree that matches, I run a One to One comparison. Then I cut and paste the One to One Match comparison information to a section for the match into the DNA Sandbox.
The section titles show the match name and shared chromosome numbers. If I continue this process over time it will start to reveal patterns:
With this view I can start to make connections between specific Chromosomes and Familial Surnames. It will also show outliers – matches who probably don’t belong to a specific familial surname group even though at first blush they may appear to belong. Try working on the Smith family of NY and see how many matches with the last name Smith are outliers to YOUR Smith family.
In the table of contents for the DNA Sandbox you can get a peak into those patterns. Take the mtDNA Matches. Obviously matches 3.1.3 to 3.1.5 need some further looking into as do the paternal haplogroup matches 4.1.3-5.1.5. Since these DNA matches posted their mtDNA and YDNA haplogroups information in their auDNA results on GEDMatch we are able to see right off the bat, from the title sections, that they share Chromosome 15. Do they share overlapping segments? A quick look at the meat of the information and…
Yes two do. Granted, they are distant connections – 5.1 generations to 6.1 generations – but they do overlap. If I can figure out the MCRA and add a familial surname to this grouping? It’s a HUGE step toward finding more matches that share Chromosome 15 with you who also are in this Familial Surname grouping.
Betty Jean’s DNA Sandbox
Betty Jean? Where is she in all this? Well, back in the Spring when we started her search for her birth family, I started her WikiTree DNA Sandbox.
Bit and Pieces become patterns
Working steadily with small bits and pieces of data from different testing companies, I pasted data into her sandbox. It started with her highest DNA match on 23andme, her first cousin once removed, who is also an adoptee. We’ll call her Pat (she is very much still in the midst of figuring out her own identity and dealing with the emotional roller coaster that comes with finding ones birth family).
Pat’s information wasn’t sitting alone in the sandbox for long. 12 of Betty Jean’s top 15 matches belonged to the same family – the Howard’s and the Brotherton’s. All these people had either had their DNA tested on their own or were prodded by Jane to get their tests done to help in finding Pat’s birth family. Lucky Betty Jean again, having Jane in her corner.
So within a few weeks, adding Betty Jean’s one to one matches, researching the pedigrees and using the number of cM (centimorgens) – “In genetics, a centimorgan (abbreviated cM) or map unit (m.u.) is a unit for measuring genetic linkage. It is defined as the distance between chromosome positions (also termed loci or markers) for which the expected average number of intervening chromosomal crossovers in a single generation is 0.01.) WikiPedia – and the generations estimate, her sandbox began to show patterns. Surnames began to have specific chromosomes connected to them.
As Jane and I worked, I compiled a list of Surnames for Betty. Surnames to use and Surnames to discount. If a pedigree or tree leads to one of the discounted Surnames? Then attention can be focused elsewhere. The list, added to the Sandbox, includes links within WikiTree to the MCRA for a specific Surname in the line. With the sandbox filling up, jumping around the great big ole shared tree with ease, working WikiTree’s relationship tools as well as the DNA tools, I was finding answers in a flash.
Fully Customize the sandbox to your level of expertise and knowledge
And there is no hard and fast rule about what goes into the sandbox. Some have graphics with triangulated groups. Some have Haplogroup information by Surname. All have the ability to make finding answers in the DNA connected world tree that is WikiTree an easier thing to do.
Now, after this VERY long post, I need to go find some patterns in nature for a while. Does Blueberry pie get cold FAST in -2 degree weather? an experiment I must try.
Nothing earth shattering, but wanted to share my selfish pleasure today. I went for an “Oh Wow” and got it. At first innocently, then when I realized that an “Oh Wow” was imminent, well, I went full out to make sure it happened!
I am helping my friend Ted with his family mystery. To find the answers, I am reviewing his new auDNA results and contacting individuals to see if they might help with the family mystery. Sent out 20 or so emails on Friday and have not heard a peep.
in a day or so I had a gentleman contact me about Ted’s match to him. Great!
I helped Ron (Ted’s match) get his DNA data downloaded from FTDNA and uploaded into GEDmatch. Ron’s expectations were, well, not high? After running a specific analysis for him on GEDmatch while on the phone his interest was piqued. There was something in the way he spoke that made me think he had no idea that my description of GEDmatch would be exactly what I said, he would have many more matches there.
Still, sitting with him on the phone – live – yes Genetic Genealogists do things with live people – I had him plug his GEDmatch number into a one-to-many matches and waited.
He said, “Oh WOW” and made my day! Literally, OH WOW!
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.
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.
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!
Betty Jean is my Dad’s first cousin. I have never met Betty that I remember. So we are not close – I had to explain to her who I was when I first called, “Earle, your cousin Earle’s youngest daughter.”
I had been told she might be in possession of some family papers or information. She sent my dad information a few years ago that she has compiled on all of my cousins and a bit on our family back a generation or two. She also has information on our McElmoyle’s (one tiny piece of paper on this line would be an avalanche compared to what I have already found). As soon as I told her why I was calling she said, “You know I am adopted” and I answered yes I did.
What did telling me she was adopted have to do with what her parents had left her – the family papers?
We continued talking about the papers and other information, “Have I told you about how we are related to Francis Scott Key?”, about our shared family over a few phone calls from January to March. At some point the conversation turned back to her adoption and she talked to me about her search for her birth family. How, when she and her late husband had gone to Asheville, NC to look into getting a copy of her files she was told, that she wouldn’t be able get her files because there was nothingin her file. Nothing – in – her – file.
And so started and ended her search for her birth family.
Betty Jean was probably born in Asheville, NC on or about November 5, 1927. She was probably abandoned by one or both of her parents somewhere in the city and ended up as a ward of the state of NC in the care of a Catholic Hospital in Asheville, NC.
The information about the Catholic hospital comes from Betty Jean’s adoptive mother. Betty Jean clearly remembers a conversation where her adoptive mother told her that she and her adoptive father picked her up from a Catholic hospital, in Asheville, and that the sister who handed Betty to them told her that Betty’s birth mother had black hair.
St. Joseph’s Hospital was the only Catholic Hospital in Asheville, NC in 1927. Run by the Sisters of Mercy. “St. Joseph’s Sanitarium stands out because it was a religiously affiliated facility, operated by a small group of Catholic sisters, in an area where Catholicism was not the predominant religion. St. Joseph’s Sanitarium continued to operate and grow, despite community opposition, until the late 1930s.” Treatment with a Habit: Asheville, Truberculosis and The Sisters of Mercy. The Universtiy of North Carolina at Asheville, A Senior Theses submitted to the department of History in Candidacy For The Degree of Bachelor Arts, by Carol Fronkowiak Jordan, Asheville, North Carolina, November 2004.
St.Josephs was one of many Sanitarium’s for Tuberculosis which sprung up in the fresh clean air of the North Carolina mountains in the last part of the 19th and early 20th centuries. My question was why on earth, how on earth would a TB hospital take in a healthy baby? The Sisters of Mercy still operate facilities in NC, so I called and asked them about it. The answer from Sister Maria was, “I have no doubt” that the sisters would have taken a baby in and to their own homes to care for it until suitable parents could be found. Sister Maria has been a part of the Sisters of Mercy for a very long time – she herself is 87.
She was officially placed by the court with a family on January 20, 1928 for a period (“indentured to”) prior to the couple being approved for adoption. Betty X’s hopeful new mother, Ethel, wrote to her folks about her new bottle baby who had black hair and blue eyes, telling them that they had picked-her-up on Tuesday. Betty X’s Adoption was finalized on September 5, 1928. After the Buncombe County Juvenile Court Clerk, Ruth Arp, brought her forward to the court. Judge Carl B. Hyatt stated that the child, Betty X, #6437ret, appeared to be 1 year of age.
That is it – all Betty Jean has ever known about her birth and adoption.
In March of this year, without hesitation, I did what I always do, I jumped in with both feet. I told her that was one of the things I, we, my business, Grandma’s Genes, does. I, we, Grandma’s Genes help birth families find each other using DNA and Genealogy. She agreed to let me help her.
A DNA test or five and 8 months later I am ready to tell her how we did what we did and how we figured out who her birth family is. I know, the TV shows make it look like these things happen over night, but for this 90 year old (this week) Adoptee the answers are long overdue.