Archive | 2017

So Much Genetic Genealogy News!

I am enjoying my little vacation on the beach, but there is so much news to report in the DNA world that I have put together a list with links to some of my favorite other bloggers’ reports.

Holiday Sales have started

Every year most of the companies have sales during Thanksgiving week. 23andMe started theirs early, an incredible sale where you can get two kits for the price of one ($49 each) or just one kit for $69.

There are many things to like about 23andme, getting your haplogroups, receiving some health results, and learning your ethnicity by chromosome location as well as a more accurate ancestry overview than the other main companies (but not necessarily better than LivingDNA, see below). The down side is they have moved to the new illumina chip which is not very compatible with the other companies, see Debbie Kennet’s discussion of the new chip:
https://cruwys.blogspot.com/2017/08/23andme-launch-new-v5-chip-and-revise.html

While AncestryDNA is the leader for cousin matching, if you can afford a second test, do 23andMe while on sale, unless your ancestry is primarily British …

Those of British descent will prefer to do a LivingDNA test on sale at half their usual price, now comparable to the others at $99. What this test provides is an accurate breakdown of your ancestors’ locations within the British Isles, as well as your haplogroups which provide your deep maternal ancestry (as well as paternal for men).

LivingDNA announced their Holiday sale for Halloween but it appears to still be on. They are also now taking uploads of DNA results from other companies, but will have no resulting reports until August 2018. Additionally they are looking for people to test with four grandparents born within 50 miles of each other from specific countries.

UPDATE 6 Nov 2017: MyHeritage also just started a great holiday sale = 40% off until November 23 so only $59 for a DNA kit!

Family Tree DNA has a sale on the unlock of DNA results uploaded from elsewhere. Roberta’s blog covers this as well as a fix to the problems with ancestry DNA uploads. I can vouch for the latter, my newly found 3rd cousin used the fix successfully. https://dna-explained.com/2017/10/27/ftdna-unlock-sale-upload-fix-triangulation/

AncestryDNA has reached 6 million testers!

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Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor in Norway

The hardest task for many genealogists is tracking their immigrant ancestor back to his original home area in the old country in order to find records. In this article I will walk you through the process of getting across the ocean to Norway using all my favorite resources.

The newest online Norwegian archives have had a modernizing face lift but the functionality is the same as described in my 2015 post. It is the single most important site for finding your immigrant ancestor. However there are many others you would use first, to try to figure out where in Norway to look. All of Norway is not impossible with an exact birth date, but a rough location makes it easier.

One of the problems with searching for your Norwegian ancestors is the surname issue. Back in Norway, people were known by their father’s name and their farm name until the early 1900s. Plus the farm name would change when they moved. For some city dwellers a fixed surname came earlier, around the 1880s. There are a number of articles about Norwegian naming listed in my Norwegian genealogy article on the menu above (or click here).

Most Norwegians picked either the farm name, a variation of the farm name, or their patronymic for their surname once in America. So although there are many Lars Olsens and Ole Hansons, there are also Tweets (from Tveit) and Challeys (from Tjelle) and Hollands (from Haaland) to name a few anglicized farm names among my cousins. One of my great-grandfathers created Wold from Torgevollen and another great-grandad created the surname Lee. How he got that from farm Skjold is a complete mystery, although family lore is that it was done so that the name would fit around a tugboat chimney.

Finding the immigration record can be key, so it is best to start at Ancestry.com or FamilySearch or MyHeritage and locate your ancestor in the 1900, 1910, or 1920 census in order to get their year of immigration.

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Who do you like to hear speak?

UPDATE 21 Oct 2017: voting is now closed. Congratulations to gold medalist Blaine Bettinger  – the winners are listed here: http://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com/2017/10/2017-gold-superstar-genealogists.html and runners-up here http://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com/2017/10/rockstar-genealogists-2017-silver-and.html

Image by Chris Goopy – from John Reid’s rockstar blog post

This is the sixth year John Reid has organized online voting for rockstar genealogists. His stated intent is to “help folks organizing a speaker program to know who is popular internationally and in different regions. “ Click here or on the image to go vote before Saturday.

I think this is a laudable goal and appreciate his hard work organizing it. Sadly he dropped many people from the list this year in a purge. However he then re-added those who got two nominations that met his criteria. Truthfully, I was bummed to be initially off the initial list but pleased to have made the final one.

The way he determines the winners in geographic areas and in DNA is from the boxes checked by the voters as to where they live and whether they are genetic genealogists. Click here to see the top three 2016 winners in each category as summarized by Randy Seaver.

One of the facebook groups I belong to is dismissing this as a popularity contest and is generally being unhappy about it. Personally I think this misses the point. Yes there are many wonderful genealogists who are not on this list, but his criteria is quite clear, it is whose presentations are “must see” ones in your opinion. Why is it a bad thing to vote on that?

Here is the list. Note that can be very worthwhile to google some of these folk and read their blogs. Be sure to nominate folk who you feel are missing and deserve to be there next year! Continue reading

My Favorite Genealogy Conferences with DNA

Living in Southern California might have some effect on my choices, but there is only one conference that is genetic genealogy only and that is the one from i4GG with headliners CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger. This conference is coming soon to the city with the best weather in continental USA, my hometown these days, San Diego. Hope to see you there in early December on the weekend of the 9th and 10th.

Click on the illustration for the larger and more complete poster, which doesn’t include the highlight of my name (I did that myself for this version of the image). To register go to i4GG.org/registration/ – to convince a friend to join you there, send them this video link – https://vimeo.com/236356778

My talk will be about the latest tools at GEDmatch, a site with much to help you further analyze your DNA results. Those of you who have been enjoying the tools from DNAgedcom, like GWorks, will be delighted to get a chance to meet their author, Rob Warthen, at i4GG.

That is what I love best about these conferences, listening to and meeting the movers and shakers in the genetic genealogy world, talking to people whose eyes don’t glaze over when I describe my lastest DNA success, and being with folk who share my passion.

Another favorite conference is the SCGS (Southern California Genealogy Society) Jamboree in June because they have a whole day devoted to DNA on the Thursday before the main conference as well as many sessions thereafter. Plus there is a charming outdoor bar between the conference area and the hotel where we can all chat into the wee hours over wine or whatever. My talks are about DNA: using GWorks for adoption cases, my favorite segment triangulation talk (which I update every year), and a panel appearance. I will, of course, do a round table as well.

Lara Diamond, the jewish genealogy and dna expert, is also speaking at i4GG. I first met her at Rootstech, the largest genealogy conference anywhere which happens every February and got to over 20,000 people last year! This is clearly the biggest and the best genealogy conference there is and it has many DNA sessions. I am very sad to miss it this year but I am an ambassador and will watch online. Wish there was an online tour of the exhibition hall which is always full of great old and new products.

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Solving unknown parentage cases with DNA

In the last few months, I have helped solve five out of six unknown parentage cases in just a few weeks from mainly third and fourth cousin matches. How? By using the GWorks automation from DNAgedcom combined with AncestryDNA results. These searches used to take many months, even years, with much tedious spreadsheeting and segment analysis. What has changed?

Well, Ancestry.com now has a database of over 5 million tests plus software to connect trees and DNA. This can make the search easy for Americans without having to use the segment data.

My attempt to explain the technique I use of combining GWorks with mirror trees met with glazed eyes in my Adoption workshop last June. I thought my previous write-up was pretty clear but I have not heard back from anyone saying that it had worked for them. So I am trying again with this post today.

In an unknown parentage search, the object is to find a common ancestral couple among your DNA matches and build a tree of their descendants until you find someone in the right place at the right time. It seems pretty obvious to me that an automated way to compare trees is best; followed by surname frequencies to check for the spouses, in order to figure out which lines to follow. So why does everyone tune out when I try to explain how to do that with GWorks? Too many steps? Too geeky?

By using GWorks to find a likely ancestral couple, I have been able to build down to the grandparents or great grandparents of the adoptee fairly quickly. Then I build the trees back in time for each child’s spouse to find the most likely line. At this point I start using “mirror” or research trees.

Here is the step-by-step approach:

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