Monday, December 30, 2019

2010-2020: Reflections on A Decade in Genealogy

This past year I have been much more involved in researching genealogy, rather than writing about it. But as the year comes to an end, I feel I must publish at least one more blog post, just to show that I have not abandoned this blog altogether!

Here are some of the amazing developments in my genealogical life over the last decade!

--Researched and documented the Mayflower ancestors in the lineage of my maternal grandmother, RUBY BOLTON BROWN. Submitted the pedigree and documentation to the Mayflower Society in 2010; it was approved in 2011.

--Helped start a local genealogy group, Tree Climbers,  in 2011. We are still meeting every month.  Last year two of us organized and taught a "Genealogy & DNA" class for our local Senior College.

--Had my DNA tested with 23andMe, and FamilyTree DNA, then uploaded to Gedmatch, and later MyHeritage.  Most interesting genealogical adventure ever!

--Through DNA testing, discovered that my paternal great grandfather PHILLIP LUTHER HUBER, who was presumed dead in 1888 Marshalltown, Iowa, in fact ran away, remarried and started a second family in 1897 in Nashville, Tennessee.  I have several DNA matches with descendants from this second family.

--DNA testing finally laid to rest the family legend that my paternal grandmother MINTIE MAE (BRUTON) HUBER was half Cherokee through her maternal WHITECOTTON family. She was not, and they were not-- although  there is a definite connection to several Melungeon families of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee, who have Native American, European and African ancestry.

--This past decade has seen a tremendous upsurge in new sources of records online!! With the Cornwall Online Parish Records website, I was able to trace my great x 2 grandmother CORDELIA RICKARD and her family back to the 1600's in Kenwyn Parish, Cornwall, where they lived for many generations.  Surnames include RICKARD, HICKS, GILBERT, VARLEY, GILL, WEARN/WARNE and more.   I now have solid DNA matches to descendants of Cordelia's ancestors in the US, UK, New Zealand, and Australia.

--Discovered my Canadian roots through the families of my great x 3 grandparents JOHN KENNEDY and ELIZABETH BETSY RINES. Their ancestors were Scottish immigrant to Hants County, Nova Scotia.  I now have numerous DNA matches to descendants of this couple. 

--Visited many graveyards. Took lots of photos.  

--Met lots of cousins. Lots and lots of cousins!

--Researched the amazing and historical Virginia ancestry of my great grandmother ALICE (MILLER) MARTINE.  Earliest ancestors were at Jamestown. Many connections to both US Presidents and English royalty. And sadly, lots of plantations and slaves.

--Came to fully understand my Quaker ancestry through my paternal great grandmother CAROLINE AMELIA "CRAMELIA" FRAZIER, the wife of PHILLIP LUTHER HUBER.  Lots of abolitionists and the Indiana Underground Railway.  Many, many DNA matches to this Quaker FRAZIER family--including several matches who were adoptees, and with my extensive list of matches & well-researched tree, were able to find their birth families.

--Through DNA testing, I discovered that my 1st cousin had a son he never knew existed, born in Viet Nam, now living in Australia.  He came to the US to meet his father in 2018, and we  visited him in Australia  in 2019. One of the most wonderful experiences ever!

-- Also discovered through DNA testing that an uncle fathered an illegitimate child while he was in high school.  Sadly, the descendant of that child is very upset and not open to contact.

--Attended the Northwest Genealogy Conference--more than once.  It's hosted by the Stilliguamish Valley Genealogy Society.  Speakers included CeCe Moore, Blaine Bettinger, Judy G Russell--need I say more?

--Recently I have been enjoying the upsurge of new tools available to analyze DNA matches.  Personally, I have found DNAPainter to be particularly useful. Auto-clustering from Genetic Affairs can be exceptional helpful, especially if you are just starting to analyze your matches.  Thank you, Jonny Perl and Evert-Jan Blom for creating such amazing tools!

May you have a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year, filled with exciting genealogy discoveries.

Betty Tartas

© Betty Tartas  2019

Saturday, March 2, 2019

My Genetic Genealogy Wish List for 2019

Well, here we are, already into March of 2019, and I have not even written my first post!

To tell the truth, it feels like I've been drop-kicked into the new year, with all kinds of exciting & fun stuff to keep me occupied, distracted and fill my research time! This included teaching a 3 session Genealogy & DNA class in Jan/Feb with my friend & cousin Susanna for the Anacortes Senior College!

Last year was a great year for genetic genealogy, with several new tools made available. My favorite, and the tool I use most, is DNAPainter,  created by Jonny Perl, which allows you to paint match segment data directly onto a visual representation of your chromosomes.

At the end of 2018, Evert-Jon Blom unveiled an auto-clustering tool on Genetic Affairs, which also has proven to be very helpful! This tool clusters your DNA matches into groups which are essentially triangulation groups, and is extremely helpful, especially for AncestryDNA matches where no segment data is available.

Several new tools which show promise were just unveiled at 2019 Rootstech :  AncestryDNA's ThruLines (useful, but please, Ancestry: get rid of the  in-your-face "Potential Ancestors" feature; I hate having my well-researched & documented ancestors replaced with erroneous ancestors from other people's trees...), and MyHeritage's Theories of Family Relativity (very useful, similar to Ancestry's ThruLines, but without the  in-your-face"Potential Ancestors").

So this has me thinking:  If I could have my way, what new features would I love to see offered from each of the DNA testing websites?   Each site has its strengths & weaknesses, for sure, but what would make them each better?

FamilyTreeDNA  I would love to see a triangulation tool added to their website.  The "In Common With" feature needs to show triangulated matches, as on MyHeritage--a fabulous feature! There may be Chrome extensions available, but I don't use Chrome, and don't want to have to switch between browsers every time I visit the ftDNA website!

23andMe  It would be really helpful if they had an on-site family tree app, where you could upload a GEDcom.   Very few people on 23andMe have family trees attached to their profiles. I do like that they mark triangulated matches with Yes/No.  This has proven to be extremely helpful!

MyHeritage  X-Chromosome matches! Please! And soon!

AncestryDNA  A Chromosome browser, PLEASE, so that we can see the actual segment data, instead of wasting time hoping praying & attempting to find our matches on Gedmatch or other DNA testing websites.  Most profiles don't have family trees attached, (or if they do, they are incomplete; I do a lot of tree building) and the only information we are given is the number of centimorgans, and shared matches. You can tell a lot just by having these two pieces of information--but why not give us more? I hate having to guess.

Also, Ancestry needs to give us  a better way to search for our previously viewed matches.  I now have a staggering 90,000 matches on AncestryDNA (I tested in 2012).  I regularly lose people. I have thousands of starred matches.  The new grouping feature unveiled at Rootstech would take me hours just to set up the groups. I haven't even begun to explore many of my 4th cousin matches. Searching the 90,000 DNA matches using only a surname is fruitless--especially if their surname is Smith!  Searching the member directory database? also a waste of time.

Gedmatch I know, it's not a testing website. I do like many of the new features they offer on Gedmatch Genesis, and I do subscribe to Tier One. But would it kill them to give us a search engine? Once again, I have a ton of matches.  Scrolling through my entire list --if I only have a name and no idea how many centimorgans we share-- is sheer agony!!

So there you have it. My genetic genealogy two cents worth for today!

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2019