Archive | 2021

The Westbye Mystery: Finding a Y Tester

When I first started playing with clustering of my Ancestry DNA matches long ago, I found a group of presumed relatives descended from one Thorkhild Westbye of South Imjelt farm in Skougar, Vestfold. These people were not known to be my relatives, so something in my documented tree or their tree was likely incorrect. It so happens that my great great grandad Jørgen Wold, father of my great grandmother Maren Wold Lee, was the foreman on that farm.

My Ancestry DNA clusters from long ago – Added naming is mine

I blogged about the mystery of our DNA matches to the Westby(e) family a while back (click here) and my theory that Jorgen’s father was a Westbye, not the father of record. One of my action items was to find a male line Westbye who would test his Y, since that chromosome passes almost unchanged from father to son (click here for more about the Y) and can be used for deeper ancestry and paternal lines. Autosomal DNA is accurate for close matches but cannot distinguish in this case: between a half third and a half fourth cousin.

If the Y DNA were to match my Wold male line cousin Mike, who has tested, this would help confirm that Jorgen’s father is the Westbye and he and Thorkhild are half brothers. Looking at their eyes in the picture below, they could easily be closely related. If the Y does not match, then likely Torkhild Westbye was my great grandmother Maren’s father, not Jørgen. This would mean that our small matches to Jorgen’s mother’s side could be from some other further back ancestor. Although a failure to have a Y match could also indicate some other break in the line, so I would need more testers …

After much searching of family trees on Ancestry I was unable to find a male Westbye in America to test. However the tree at GENI provided me with a number of Norwegian relatives, one of whom has a great tree at MyHeritage. Thus I was able to contact him.
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New DNA Match List Features at MyHeritage

MyHeritage has added labels (colored dots) and favorites (stars) to the DNA matches lists. These are extremely similar to the ones at AncestryDNA. One advantage at MyHeritage is that when you select multiple colored dots to display, you are shown all the matches marked with either one, whereas Ancestry only shows the matches who have both. Another advantage is that MyHeritage gives you 30 colors as opposed to the 24 at Ancestry.

On a DNA match, the left are icons for the new features, labels and favorites, above the new location of the notes icon (red arrow my addition). Clicking the square for a label slides in a panel on the right as above.

The downside of the MyHeritage implementation is that you can only see and edit these colored labels on the DNA match lists, not on the actual match page or its in common with list. According to the blog post that My Heritage wrote on how to use this feature (click here), those pages will have the labels in the future. Also when you export your match list from MyHeritage there is no indication of those labels in the resulting CSV.

So how might you use this new feature? First of all, for myself, I use the favorites star for matches I want to come back to later. However when working on an unknown parentage case, I use the star for just the paternal side which is helpful for various automated tools.

If you have already assigned colored dots on Ancestry, my advice is to use the same colors on your MyHeritage labels for the same groups. Personally I have assigned a color to each great-grandparent line, except my Bavarian line which has very few testers and no matches that I can confirm other than the one 2nd cousin that I convinced to test.

Then I have a few fifth grandparents who seem to have many tested descendants that match us, so they get colors too. Next I assigned colors for as yet undetermined matches from the same localities that my ancestors are from, those include labels for Norway unknown, Germany unknown, and Ashkenazi unknown. Click here for my discussion of how I use the very similar the Ancestry labels.

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Automated DNA Icons in your Ancestry Tree

Did you know that you can turn on icons in your Ancestry family tree that connect to your DNA results?

UPDATE 3-JUL-2022: Click on the fifth icon in the tree management list of icons on the left and a panel will swing in from the right (as shown in the image below) showing many icons that you can turn on including: ThruLines, Possible DNA Matches, and Connected DNA Matches. Just click the On/Off slider to turn each of them on or off. [N.B. There are now more options than the ones shown below]


Turning on the DNA Discoveries Icons – red arrow showing where to click is my addition

Of all those, I find the ThruLines icon the most useful because when looking at the boxes view in a complicated tree, I can easily pick out my ancestors because of the little blue ThruLines icons (as in the example above). Since my brother has tested, all my direct ancestors back to my 5th grandparents have that icon. In the past I had put my own icon in the suffix field. Then I used the direct DNA ancestor tag that Ancestry provides. It is so much less work having it done automatically for me!

Clicking on a profile with the ThruLines icon pops up a box with a summary of information about that person including, on the bottom, the word ThruLines with a down arrow to the right of it. Click either the down arrow or those words to expand the little window downwards, as shown on the left. and see clickable green highlighted words that will take you to the actual ThruLines page for that ancestor (example below).

Image of ThruLines for Halvard T. Tveito

ThruLines for Halvard T. Tveito … I may not have all these people in my tree!

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My DNA Talk this Monday: Unknown Parentage

Personal DNA testing has been a miracle for finding biological family, whether you are looking for both parents, an unknown dad, an unknown grandad, or even, as in my family, an unknown 3rd grandfather as well as an unknown 5th grandad.

On Monday evening October 25 I will be giving a talk about using DNA for unknown parentage live (online) for Indian Trails Library in  Prospect Heights, Illinois (click here and scroll down to Oct 25 at 7pm Central time).  I have given presentations on the methodology  for these searches in the past, most recently for Rootstech 2021, but I am always updating it with new tools. Also this will be a full hour, so more in depth. Plus it includes a question and answer session afterwards.

Little did I know nine years ago, when I started testing my family and blogging about DNA and genealogy that those skills would translate into helping others find family. Click here for some of the interesting cases that I have blogged about.

It is an incredibly rewarding experience to reunite families and it has brought me much joy.

UPDATE:The video is now online at YouTube:

Tracking down a BRCA2 mutation

I suddenly realized that I could find the people who match my late husband Steven M Cooper on his mutated section of the BRCA2 gene at the various DNA testing sites that show chromosome information. His particular BRCA2 mutation, implicated in breast cancer and melanoma, likely contributed to the fatal outcome of his prostate cancer. A problem with doing this is that none of his tested family members match that gene, so there would be no way to know if his matches had his bad maternal BRCA2 or his good paternal one.

image of Amalie LILIEN Tieger

Amalie LILIEN Tieger

So should I contact those many people and warn them? I had previously alerted his known LILIEN side cousins to this issue and already a second cousin once removed on his LILIEN line discovered her breast cancer early due to my warning. However I may be sending a false alarm to many. I decided it was something I should do. My family history investigations left me confident that Steve’s mutation came from one of the the parents of his grandmother Amalie LILIEN Tieger (jewish) born in Kalusz, Ukraine. Of course, it may well have originated further back.

First I had to locate the mutation in a numbering system that would translate to what we get from our DNA testing companies. From various google searches I learned that BRCA2 is located on chromosone 13. Looking at the report from Color Genomics, the test his oncologist ordered, I could see the location was a deletion at base pairs 32,913,602_32,913,605. More googling found that this is not the common Jewish BRCA2 mutation. That explains why his initial 23andme test years ago did not find it. Next I found the actual National Health Institute fact sheet for his mutation (click here) which had a click point to the diagram below. Click here for the discussion of BRCA2

Image and details of the problem mutation from the NIH web site

Image and details of the problem mutation from the NIH web site

Now to find the people who match him on that segment. I downloaded the full list of his matches with segment information from each site. The easiest site to use was GEDmatch because I could use the segment search function to get just the matches to his BRCA2 section of chromsome 13. At the other sites I had to get the full list of all matching segments and then sort by chromosome and start point to find the matching people.

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