A deep DNA triangulation success story

So many of these one segment DNA matches that I find with other testers are too far back to find the common ancestors. However those of us with Norwegian ancestry often have very deep trees thanks to the good records and the many farm books for each locality. So when you find a fellow genealogist with Norwegian roots who matches your DNA you get quite hopeful, and sure enough …

I had four matches, the colored lines in the picture below, for my Norwegian descended Dad on chromosome 16. However they span the centromere which is from 35335801 to 38335801, so initially these segments did not seem that promising.

 Chromosome 16 from my one segment mapper tool

Four people overlapping on Chromosome 16
from my one segment mapper tool

Luckily the most recent match had an extensive tree of which only a small piece was Norwegian. So perhaps it would be easier to find our common ancestor with less tree to look through. Note that using a tool to compare Norwegian GEDcoms does not usually work so well because of differences in naming conventions (patronymic, farm name, Norwegian characters, etc)

Here are the details of these segment overlaps from my master spreadsheet for Dad:

Edith 16 31000000 52000000 9.20 1301
Nancy 16 31000000 54000000 9.70 1359
Loretta 16 31000000 52000000 9.90 1423
Aaron 16 33000000 53000000 8.2 1241

Nancy has a tree at ancestry as do I. So our conversation went like this:

I sent my initial contact message which includes my ancestry tree information as well as links to this blog and my family history site

Nancy sent me her ancestry tree information but apologized for it not having all her data.

When I get a chance, I’ll check out your family trees and see if I recognize any names or places. My ancestors mostly settled in Wisconsin, Iowa, and most recently South Dakota. I’d love to try and figure out how we are related.

I replied that I needed an invite to her family tree. She sent one. I complained that too many dead ancestors were set as private. Then this fabulous news!

I found a set of common ancestors! My 6th gr-grandparents are Halvor Haslerud and Birgit Glaim through their son Knut. That line descends to me through Lewis Albert Larson[…]

I think I’ve found and fixed all the Ancestry people who were “private.”

Since these folk are my fifth great grandparents we are 6th cousins once removed! Now, all excited I contacted the other three people, all from the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center and one of them, Aaron, wrote back to me:

Thank you for your interest. With your information I found our common ancestor , In Flesburg Numedal bygde bok [ page 584] Nord Vangestad Gunnar Tollovsen 1604- 74 wife Ulvhild Olsdt. [Gjellerud sons Hellic Gunnersen b. 1646 [your line] & Ola Gunnersen 1654-1701 [our line]
P.S. We are also related to Sigurd Vinger who wrote Flesberg Bygde bok I have contact with him

Arvid and Aaron, my 9th cousins with the bed they made

Arvid and Aaron, my 9th cousins with the bed they made

Amazing that DNA could last this long. Aaron’s common ancestors with me are the great-grandparents of Nancy’s common ancestors. He shares only a little less DNA with us than Nancy.

Then a second even more fun communication

There are some interesting stories in Bygde bok about Gunnar Tollovsen & family. It says he was a very rich man and gave each of his sons a farm. Hellik got Vengestad and it says he did very well. On this farm was a big oak tree were people believed under it lived a royal family of Trolls. So the people living on Farm set out drink and food for these trolls by the tree and by so doing the Farm would have good luck. Once Hellik hired a fellow who was poor to cut the tree down but the first chop he made the ax split from one end to the other & flew back and hit him in the head, then he heard these voices say if he would spare this tree, they would bring him much good luck .[its written as a poem] The oak tree still stands today.  I could scan some of these pages if you would like.

Aaron has now sent along some of those pages so any family members interested to see them, let me know.

So now you see what I mean by a deep triangulation. These two people are my 6th and 9th cousins. Because we found the first relationship, it narrowed down the search for the other and proved that it was the right line.


12 thoughts on “A deep DNA triangulation success story

Click here to add your thoughts at the end of the comments
  1. I received the following comment from a Norwegian 4th cousin on this line:

    We all know this, every Norwegian farm had a tree outside the house “tuntre”, and if this was cut down, you would get troubles. Everything, accidents, unhappiness etc. might come to you.
    And that about small trolls in the barn, was believed in all farmers. They had to give them food, to be friends and have a happy life in the farm. This happened all over in Norway. Not a story just from that farm.
    In tv a socalled medium told she had met those small trolls in a barn. An auther has made a lot of books of this.
    Very often the girls and boys in the neighbour-farms had to be married to keep the farm. A lot of people in the district are in family to each other.

    • My common ancestors with Nancy are on WikiTree, the names Halvor Haslerud and Birgit Glaim in her correspondance with me above are linked to this page:
      The ancestors reaching back to Aaron’s are not there yet, I am busy copying the information from the farm book onto GENI, then I download a gedcom and merge it to my master (FTM), synch with ancestry, upload to wikitree. It all takes time!

  2. Hello,
    I was just checking out some of the tools over on GEDMATCH and noticed that your email address was attached to a kit that matches my Mom with 11.6cM (approx 5.1 generations.)

    Thought I should leave a note to say Hi!
    Looked around at your fan charts etc, but don’t see anything specifically matching – my Mom’s parents both came from towns south of Plzn in the Czech Republic, and all research on those lines I have so far stays in that general area. But, still have a lot of research to go, of course.

    John Tierney

    • Well hello possible cousin John, although that may be my husband’s kit. These days I am mainly working with my Dad’s Norwegian DNA but I expect I will eventually get back to work on the Ashkenazi and German DNA from my mother. AJ DNA is very difficult, too many cousin marriages back when, we are ALL related! Send me an email with the kit number we match (and which kit it matches since I have about 10 over at GEDmatch) kitty at this website address without the “blog.” Also I am working on a post about GEDmatch today …

  3. Can you say more about why matching segments that span the centomere are less likely to be a match than those that don’t? I’ve been googling, but not finding anything useful. My half brother and I share match with 3 others, two of which span the centomere.

  4. There are almost no SNPs tested in the centromere since it is full of repetitive DNA stuff. Since almost nothing is tested in the centromere, segments that span the centromere are likely to be two separate segments. Also there was an article back in 2008 demonstrating that there is more recombination at the centromere than anywhere else.
    That being said we all do find matches that span the centromere. A search of the genealogy-DNA group archives at rootstech brings up many interesting discussions, here is one response on the subject by the resident genetic genealogist Ann Turner:

  5. Are there any good step by step instructions for the GEDMATCH triangulation?..Ive downloaded to a spreadsheet but now I need to know what to do next..Thanks! Love your blog!

  6. Hi kitty, speaking of a deep triangulation, I match about 50+ jewish cousins all on chromosome 15. Ftdna rates the closest connection at a 4th cousin to remote but all my admixture that is given me is Caucasus and north African. Any insight on why this connection seemed left out of “My Origins”. Thanks

  7. Melissa
    What you have is a pile up. It is not triangulation unless there is a common ancestor to go with the matching segment.
    In the case described in the post above, when I found the common ancestor with Nancy, that helped Aaron find the further back ancestor common to all 3 of us, thus a triangulation.
    Pile ups can be very ancient DNA so from long enough ago to have a strange looking admixture. I have a blog post in the works about pile ups but in the meantime have a look at this old one about Ashkenzi pile ups:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.