Monday, November 26, 2012

DNA Testing - Part 3

My father recently took and received the results back from his own AncestryDNA test.  We were really interested in seeing how our results differed and how our matches would compare after I took my own test a few months ago.  There were a few surprises!

While I won't go into detail about my father's results, I will say that he had no Scandinavian in his results.  This was a big surprise to me because of my mother's French Canadian background.  I've traced many of her lines back a few hundred years through Québec to France, with only a hint of English to be found.  Yet my results indicated that 25% of my DNA is Scandinavian.  Could half of the DNA my mother passed onto me really be Scandinavian?  Her side of my family not only genealogically, but also physically, favors French ancestry.  Perhaps the 25% was an overestimation on the part of AncestryDNA?

I've also been able to compare my father's DNA matches with my own.  I should have matches that he doesn't since half of my DNA is from my mother, but I was surprised that (not looking further than "moderate confidence" distant cousins) he has about 100 matches that I don't.  Three of those matches are in the 4th-6th cousin range with 95% or higher confidence.  I suppose I just didn't get the DNA that matches so closely with these individuals.

Comparing my and my father's results and matches is certainly interesting, and I look forward to taking a closer look at our matches.  I still haven't identified any of my matches as actual relatives; most with public trees don't have any individuals or even surnames in common with my family tree.

If you've taken the test, have you had troubles making relative matches?  Have you and a relative taken the test and compared results?  Please feel free to share your experiences with DNA testing for genealogy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Motivation Monday - Genealogy Odds & Ends

Over the past few weeks I've been neglecting my blog in order to work on parts of my fall genealogy to-do list and then some.  I'm happy to say that my work in the often over-looked "little things" is progressing along nicely.

First off, I updated my main family tree.  In order to keep myself better organized, I separated branches of my ancestry into a series of smaller trees.  It is these smaller trees that I make public and work on.  By separating my tree, I can compartmentalize the families and surnames to better remember who is related to who.  The problem with this strategy, however, is that my all-encompassing tree can quickly become outdated.   I recently used Family Tree Maker 2012 to update it by first copying my smaller trees' files, then merging these copies into my large tree.  Because a lot of individuals don't have much detail, there were many duplicates I had to go through and delete, so the process took a number of hours.  It was worth it though, because I use my main tree to identify distant cousins through Ancestry DNA.

Secondly, I purchased a book for my Kindle by Pierre Berton called The American Invasion of Canada: The War of 1812's First Year.  Although I'm not too far into it yet, it's a funny and exciting read, and it's not at all like a history book.  I'm looking forward to reading about Fort George in particular, because I know an ancestor of mine who served in the British military there and then remained in Québec with his family.

Of course I've been furthering my genealogy research as well, delving into families I had not researched at all.  My family tree is growing quite nicely, and I'm getting to know more about my direct ancestors.  Once I have "enough" (realistically, that would mean when I hit all the brick walls I can find), I'll branch out to siblings and cousins in order to help better connect with other distant relatives and gain a broader picture of my ancestors' lives.  (This is part of a larger plan that's still in the works of looking more carefully at my DNA matches and cleaning out my "shoebox.")

Finally, I purchased my first smartphone and immediately downloaded the Ancestry app.  I'm able to view my family trees, individuals' events, and records connected to those events.  Recently there was an update to the app, but I haven't had the chance or need to explore it further.  I thought the app could help me if I venture to another cemetery or make it to the state archives.

With a lot of odds and ends out of the way, I should be back to regular blogging!