The direct male line descendant of Ole Monsen Titland is a Y-chromosome DNA match to my Dad, who we thought was also a descendant of Ole. Now we know he is!
Thank you so much cousin Sigmund for finding a distant cousin in direct paternal descent to test.
This story was written up a few months back in a post here but we were waiting on the DNA Y-chromosome STR test to prove our theory. Now it is proven.
Here are the deeper details of the three markers that do not match:
Recently I convinced several cousins to test their DNA at 23andme since the price is now only $99 – 23andme is pushing to get one million subscribers. The idea is that by having a large enough database with subscribers that answer their health and trait surveys, correlations can be found with the genes responsible. 23andme has already contributed greatly to the current knowledge of DNA using this technique. So I feel particularly good about being a part of that. Click here for the list of correlations that they have so far.
What they do is not a complete genome sequencing, just the markers that are most likely to be different from one person to the next. Remember we share about 98.5% of our genome with chimpanzees and 99.9% with other humans. These tests use a microchip array that actually tests about .o2% of your genome.
The three things most people like best at 23andme are learning about their health issues, their ancestral places of origin, and finding DNA cousins (my term for people who share DNA that thus, must be related, however distantly). There is a wealth of other fun information available like how much Neanderthal DNA you have in you, but this post will mainly just cover those first three areas.
When you log in to 23andme you will see a page something like this.
You can click on Home in that top bar from any page on the site to return to this page. The ancestry composition box shown mid-page may not yet be ready for your sample if your results are just in.
To edit your profile, click on the gear icon at the far top left to get a menu with that option. If you have any messages the envelope at the top left will get a green background and show the number of messages you have as in the example below. Click on it to read them. I advise switching to email if you start to communicate with someone regularly as there are no tools to search the inbox unless you use chrome and the 23+ addon.
Due to DNA testing, in a round about way, we have probably solved the brick wall of our ancestor Lars Monsen who was born in the Bergen area and lived in Kristiansand, Norway. His great-grandson Lauritz (later Lawrence Josiah Munson), my grandfather, came to Brooklyn, NY, with his family when he was six. That story is posted on this page about the Monsens at my family history site.
Lars Monsen had been our brick wall for a long time since it is a common name in the Bergen area although not, we thought, in southern Norway. Well it turns out there really were two men named Lars Monsen in Kristiansand at that time. One was Lars Monsen Suldahl (thus from Suldahl) and ours was Lars Monsen or Mognsen Aastvedt from Eidsvaag (just north of Bergen)
Here is the story. Dad matched almost 6000 people at 12 markers on the family tree DNA site. So I used the Ysearch site to look for only Bergen area matches. I contacted those two people and heard back from one. Next we both upgraded to 37 markers to see if we still matched. In the meantime our match, Sigmund, posted some queries in the best Norwegian forums for Bergen and Kristiansand areas and the local historian/genealogy experts weighed in and found Lars.
I recently posted this insight to the DNA-NEWBIE mailing list.
I have found it interesting that I share fairly large segments with a 10th and a 14th cousin but none with a 4th cousin that my Dad does share DNA with. Norwegian records are good so all these cousins have good paper trails. i did notice that we all come from many generations of large families…
This blog article offers a good mathematical explanation of this phenominum.
Maybe you tested your DNA to prove or disprove a genealogical theory. Or maybe you tested to check on your health risks or carrier status. But now you see all these possible 3rd to 5th cousins in your family finder or relative finder lists and you wonder if you are related and if you can find that relationship. Perhaps you contacted a few and had almost no responses.
Yes you are probably related, but without both of you having a good paper trail you would be most lucky to actually find that relationship. It is likely to be further back than suggested if your ancestors were at all endogamous. Just living in the same location for a few hundred years can lead to much inadvertent intermarrying and more common DNA than degree of relationship would expect. So autosomal DNA testing is no genealogical shortcut. Some of the people you contacted already know this, so if they saw no common surnames or places on your profile they may have lost interest.
So be prepared before contacting those likely 3rd to 5th cousins.
- Have an easily readable pedigree chart in both PDF and online format (GEDmatch can do the latter, more on GEDmatch later)
- Another good tool is a list of about 12 generations of ancestors by place name. Much easier for a possible relative to scan.
- Do some reading on the basics. A nice short article on autosomal DNA is this one on about.com and it has some more links.
- Try to talk some close relatives into testing so you have more data to work with
- Last but not least, make a decision on how much time you want to devote to this project … warning it can be addictive
If you want to do the minimum, then scan the localities and surnames of these possible cousins and contact the ones with common surnames or place names with a message that indicates this reason for contact. Include the URL for your pedigree and/or family site and offer to send the PDF files. Include your email address if you are using the 23andme messaging system. The more directed the contact, the more likely you will hear back. I recently went through and cancelled some of my early invitations and send new improved ones on the lines above and got four new shares.
So far I am finding that the common ancestors with Dad’s DNA matches at both 23andme and FamilyTreeDNA are much further back than predicted. We have found the MRCA for only those distant cousins with good paper trails and perhaps even a tree at GENI like we have.
Most of these matches are only one or two segments and the longer the segment the more likely it is to be a real match with a discoverable common ancestor. I actually found a new 5th cousin of mine through DNA, Dad’s 4th cousin once removed. She has a one segment match of 17.14 CMs and 2849 SNPs in common with Dad and our common ancestors are in the 1700s at farm Fatland in Etne, Hordaland, Norway (online resources for Etne research listed at familysearch.org)
23andme shows you all your 7cm and larger matches but many genetic genealogists think anything less than 10cm is suspect. My view is that if Dad’s match is also a match with either me or my brother (n.b. frequently the match is for fewer SNPs and CMs in the next generation) then it is real, even at 6cm. As you can see in the chart, we have found many common ancestors with smaller than 10cm matches. GEDmatch lets you look at even smaller segment matches with specific people as does Family Tree DNA.
Here is a summary of the most recent common ancestors in Norway that I found for Dad with some of his DNA matches:
So I have tested Dad at both 23andme and familytreeDNA. I just discovered the fun option “in common with” on the Family Finder matches pull-down list. If you select that option then you can see all the matches you share with people whom you have assigned relationships too.
I just found out about two wonderful browser helpers for 23andme that work only in Chrome and installed them both. So far I am absolutely delighted with them.
- 23++ totally redoes the 23andme inbox so you can search by name or subject. Since I have a few hundred messages by now this is essential. I had been continuing many conversations via email partly because the inbox at 23andme was so limited. This addon also adds functionality to the relative finder, as well as other features
- 529andyou collects data in your local chrome mySQLlite database every time you look at the table comparison in the ancestry lab Family Inheritance Advanced and puts an icon on the far right side of the url box at the top that you can click to see this data
So my first effort with 529 was to look at my three 5th cousins that are all descended from Isaak and Sara Steinhardt:
There is a terrific new tool at 23andme for looking at your ancestry. Cece Moore describes it in great detail on her blog post here. I very much like the chromosome mapping part but the colors are incredibly boring if all your ancestors were european. Just shades of blue that were hard to distinguish one from another. So I changed the colors for Finnish, British, Ashkenazi, Eastern and non-specific Southern European
Here is my picture (I am half Norwegian and half German with half of the German being jewish, so a quarter ahskenazi):