I Am So Sorry Dad – We’re Pending.

This could end up being very humorous or a nightmare.

I was excited to hear the great news that FTDNA (FamilyTree DNA) has added a phasing ability to their matches results. Just Great! I love it! I am all over it!

I jumped into my DNA matches before I even finished reading the email. I like the new layout with the tabs navigation – makes things very easy to see in a “nutshell”. You won’t be able to be eligible to use this feature, be able to click on the tabs, until you get yourself linked to another match who is in your tree. The “tree” refers to the GEDCOM/Tree you uploaded to FamilyTree DNA.

In my case I already had my father in my matches AND I had him in my tree. I clicked into my tree, found my Dad, clicked the link Icon. I logged out of FTDNA, logged back in to my dad’s account, found myself (literally) and linked us. Both times I saw the icon appear around my and my dad’s heads with the tests we had taken. Done! How easy! Well wait…

First off, if I didn’t administer my father’s account, then would I have to wait for him to also approve the connection? I have cousins in my matches (section) who have yet to approve our relationship connection and it’s been a long while since I requested confirmation. My father and I are in a perpetual “pending” relationship status, which does not, in the least, represent our real life relationship. Nothing pending about me and my favorite ski buddy.

Secondly, the matches relationship status with my father seems to be in a state of perpetual “pending”. How is this going to affect my phasing? I noted in Roberta Estes blog, DNA Explained, Family Tree DNA Introduces Phased Family Finder Matches that she discovered you have to have the correct/same names on each before the phasing will work. Is there some preciseness I am am missing?

The Nightmare…

In my exuberance over these new tools, have I sent my father and me into a virtual loop of pending relationship status? What will this do to our real relationship? His birthday is a couple of days away. Will I need to call him twice, just to make up for this? Oh, I am a horrible daughter to have done this to us.


2 hours in…
I have received an email from FamilyTree DNA saying I have been added to my fathers tree and vice versa. Our relationship is still pending in the matches section and my extra tabs have not been populated with any information. This is 2 hours after the linking of our trees/DNA.

24 hours in…
Today, a day later, still no tabs enabled. Still pending…on a bright note, “Please note that while we perform our scheduled maintenance this Friday and Saturday, the new calculation function will be temporarily unavailable. If you already have relatives connected, you will still be able to access these different categories, though updates stemming from changes to your tree will not be calculated until Saturday afternoon.” this was in the same email which announced to changes.

I tried to look at my top mtDNA matches’ family tree (Friday July 8, 12:00 pm est – the changes should not be underway yet) and the page for her tree is looping. I certainly hope we haven’t broken something with our pending status…



DNA and something called Phasing – 1 Parent

Had this question yesterday, “I uploaded my fathers raw data to GEDmatch. Now how do we do the phasing if I don’t have my mothers DNA?”

Phasing “is the process of trying to determine which DNA came from the mother, and which came from the father. The term is usually applied to types of DNA that recombine, such as autosomal DNA or the X-chromosome. The benefit of phasing is being able to identify which ancestor a segment was inherited from.” http://isogg.org/wiki/Phasing

This particular client’s mother passed away and he has no way of identifying her specific DNA. To get into this more, you might ask, “can’t you just send in some hair from a brush she used?” Why yes you can, IF you can find a hair with a root still attached AND you have blocks of gold lying around the house. This kind of testing is not practical for the average Genealogist.

When you work with DNA you might say generally, “I inherited this much from my dad – say 50% and this much from my mom – say 50%.” Which is kind of sort of a ball park figure. This goes along with what I explained in another blog Why DNA?  My brother, Sister and I all get 50% from our parents. If this were exactly true then we would all be clones of our parents with no perceivable difference. But there are perceivable differences. The differences are all over the place too. So no, you can’t just say I got 50% from each parent and be done with it. Nature has a sense of humor.

So how to tell which parent gave us which parts of our DNA?

Phasing will tell us.

You can not do this currently (April of 2016) at the place where you got your test done, since none of the testing companies offer a phasing tool.

There are two tools available from Genetic Genelogists for Phasing when you have both parents raw data. You can find this information on the ISSOG page on Phasing. http://isogg.org/wiki/Phasing#Phasing_tools

What we want to do is find out which parent we received our DNA from when we only have one parent.

T. Whit Athey, explains how to do phasing when “a family group, consisting of at least three, siblings and at least one parent. The process works best if data for four or more siblings is available.” Phasing the Chromosomes of a Family Group When One Parent is Missing, Journal of Genetic Genealogy, Fall 2010, Vol. 6, Number 1, http://www.jogg.info/62/files/Athey.pdf

We don’t have a whole slew of family members to test to work on this kind of phasing. So, we turn to GEDmatch, https://www.gedmatch.com . If you haven’t already uploaded your raw DNA data to GEDmatch, and at least one parents raw DNA data to GEDmatch, then you will need to do this. Click on upload raw data for your particular company to see what you need to do.

Now that you and your one parent’s raw DNA data is up and available to work with (usually 24-48 hours after initial upload) here is what to do.

Sign in to GEDmatch.
Go to the Analyze your DNA section,
Then to the DNA Raw Data section, and
Click on “Phasing”. This will take you to the “Phased data generator, Data entry form”
Enter the child’s (your) kit number
Enter either the Fathers or Mother’s Kit number
Then Click the link to generate the phased results.

How long did it take? Phasing took 0.45905 seconds.

Child’s Kit: A000001
Father’s Kit: M111111
Processing without mother’s kit.

Paternal kit number: PA000001P1

Maternal kit number: PA000001M1

Your phased Paternal and Maternal files have been generated.

These numbers will appear on your GEDmatch profile page along with other kits you manage. The phased kits will be available for use in one-to-one comparisons immediately. You will have to wait for the usual 24 to 48 before you can compare the new phased Parental kits with other tools offered by GEDmatch.

DNA – Understanding Your Results? Ethnicity/Origins

Oh, I always have a good chuckle when I see blog or forum posts with this subject line, which is why I added a question mark at the end. How on earth are you, the family geneaarchivisty person or genealogist supposed to suddenly become a DNA expert and understand the overwhelming amount of information included in your DNA test results?

Well, you understand enough to have figured out  Why DNA, Who to Test and Where to Test. You ordered your kit, swabbed your cheek, sent it off and now you have the results back and…


The National Geographic Genographic Project, Geno 2, test results are geared toward this specifically. The project is attempting to identify, through DNA, the origins of us all. It’s a noble work, as they will be able to establish (are already establishing) our genetic roots. This is shifting sand, because, as our migrations from place to place have increased so has our DNA mix. If this is what you want to know then this is your test as “Our testing focuses on deep ancestry from an anthropological perspective. It is not primarily a genealogy testing service…” The Genographic Project -FAQ

Mentioning shifting sands…Check back on your Ethnicity/Origins results frequently because as more people test the more the data improves. You might start out at 98% European today and in two months you may be 96% European. Not big changes for sure but over time you may see your numbers go up and down a bit.

On FamilyTreeDNA find your “My Origins” section of your Family Finder test.Clicking “My Origins” will take you to a map, a breakdown of your ethnicity and a list of matches with their ethnicity.

On Ancestry it’s under DNA. Clicking on DNA will take you to a page that summarizes your information, with a map of your origins and a pie chart showing your ethnic make-up and a link to click to go more in-depth.

On 23andMe it’s in Ancestral Composition, click “Go” and you will see a color-coded map of your origins and percentages of your ethnic breakdown.

On all of these pages hover and click all round to see if there are things for you to read, aside from the obvious verbiage. You can also look over a few of your top DNA matches (the people you share part of your DNA with) without leaving the page. Have fun learning about where you came from in the grand scheme of things.



DNA – Where to Test?

This is a subject that has been whipped, but good. There isn’t a lot to add to the information, but since some of my readership may be looking only to me for this very advice (delusions of grandeur), I have to whip it one more time. If you have already been around the block on this, you can sit back with a nice piece of hot blueberry pie while I ramble on, entertainingly, about where to test. The rest get your pie at the end.

Sticker Shock – It’s not a new car, but…

Prices range from around $99.00 US to about $249.00 US for single tests. If you don’t live in the US and your currency isn’t doing well against the US dollar, prepare for even more sticker shock and high fees for shipping.

You can get an Autsomal Test and/or a y-DNA test or mtDNA test and you can order a test: from 23andMe, Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA, and National Geographic.

The companies vary in the tests they offer so you should spend time looking over the FAQ for each company to decide which one is right for you, based on what you want to know and what test you need to point you in the right direction. A previous blog post gives some advice on the, “what you want to know” and the “what tests” for you here: DNA- Who to Test?

Ancestry FAQ
FamilyTreeDNA FAQ

23andMe FAQ
National Geographic Geno 2.0 FAQ

You will also want to read to make sure testing is available for your area. For example, Ancestry DNA testing is only “available in the United States and for purchase online for residents of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.”- Ancestry FAQ #10.

Now that that is done, everyone enjoy the hot from the oven blueberry pie I just served you! Some Vanilla Ice cream too!

Genetic DNA, Patience Is The Word

DNA has been around since…well forever. It will be around forever. What has not been around forever has been our ability to get to it and to understand it. All that getting to it, understanding it and connecting to it takes patience.

I am currently working with a client who is in her late 80’s. She is adopted and she has never been able to find out much about her birth story other than where she was adopted, her name, “Girl X”, and her date of birth. She has patiently spent some of her time trying to gain access from her records via the County Courthouse where she was adopted only to be turned away with, “there isn’t anything in the file and if there was it wouldn’t be available to you if there was.”

Then her kids had some health issues and she wanted to know more. DNA has arrived so she sent away to 23andMe to get her medical information. She did and she seems to be OK with the DNA Medical knowledge, but, she still wants to know about HER story. The one where she came into the world drew breath and was given away for what ever reason.

And that takes patience.

I laughed at myself today and tonight. I sent out letters to people she matches on 23andMe and to people she matches ad GEDmatch. I got a few replies, but one of them? One of the relies has the promise of bigger answers to her questions. This match is so very close to her. But, I worked all day and heard nothing. I ate dinner and after dinner I was scheduled for a webinar through the Association of Professional Genealogists and just as I was getting myself signed in for the said webinar I see my mailbox lights up. It has just received the first of two emails from the match with the bigger answers…Oh the patience it took to stay the course and participate in the webinar. I did it, though I still haven’t opened the emails yet. I was so struck by the little bit of patience I needed to have, just for an hour and a half tonight, that I wanted to write this blog post while it was still such a real feeling for me. And to think my client has been waiting patiently for a lifetime to receive her answers.

Patience is the word.

McElmoyle DNA and One Name Project

Oh the trials and tribulations of administering/managing a One Name Study and DNA Project for a not so popular (it’s not like these people were left out of the prom, is popular really a good word?) Surname (and popular, it isn’t like these people chose to be named this, like it was the most popular name so they took it).

After years of talking to a friend(?)/fb buddy about her husbands family’s possible connection to my family, her husband got a DNA test done. She and he chose to go with Ancestry, so all we have is an Ancestry atDNA test. Since my Dad and I are the only other testers for the McElmoyle family line (that I know of) and our DNA is not with Ancestry, I grabbed her husbands DNA and uploaded it to GEDmatch and BOOM – not a match – Dang.


Why? Because Autosomal testing only reveals matches back for a certain distance. I explained this in a previous blog, DNA – Who To Test?

“For other relatively close cousins, that are not in your direct maternal or paternal line, you can test anyone who matches you through your genealogical research. They can take an Autosomal (auDNA/atDNA) test. This is not a deep ancestor test and ‘can be used to confirm relationships with a high level of accuracy for parent/child relationships and all relationships up to the second cousin level. For all relationships other than parent/child relationships additional contextual and genealogical information is required to confirm the nature of the relationship.'(ISOGGAccuracy of tests)”

So this means we have our first male line, McElmoyle surname DNA tester and we can compare him autosomally with other fairly close people, but, he needs to transfer his DNA over to FamilyTree DNA, then at some point upgrade to a yDNA test to reach a wider piece of the DNA pie. To put his DNA into a bigger Gene pool.

Patience, oh Genealogy takes patience.

I was thinking yesterday that not only did our ancestors name their children the same names for generations just to make all of this hard for us, but they also split the family up just across county lines and made undocumented adoptions just to stir the pot of our genealogical insanity a bit more.

DNA – Who to test?

Why, every single cousin if you are a real Gene/Genea-Geek. If you are not a Gene/Genea-Geek and you are just getting started the answer is as simple as:

What do you want to know?

To find information about your Mothers direct maternal line, you would test a male or female family member who is descended from any of your mothers, mothers – going back as far as your would like to go. They would get a Mitochondrial (mtDNA) test. This is a very deep test which can follow a line back for a very long time, it “is passed down by the mother unchanged, to all her children, both male and female.”(ISOGGMitochondrial DNA Tests)

For your fathers line, you can test your brother, your father, and any male cousins who share your LNAB surname. They can take a yDNA test. This is another very deep test which can follow a line back a great distance. “The Y chromosome, like the patrilineal surname, passes down virtually unchanged from father to son.” (ISOGG – yDNA Chromosome DNA Tests)

For other relatively close cousins, that are not in your direct maternal or paternal line, you can test anyone who matches you through your genealogical research. They can take an Autosomal (auDNA/atDNA) test. This is not a deep ancestor test and “can be used to confirm relationships with a high level of accuracy for parent/child relationships and all relationships up to the second cousin level. For all relationships other than parent/child relationships additional contextual and genealogical information is required to confirm the nature of the relationship.”(ISOGGAccuracy of tests)

If you are interested in knowing your ethnic genetic make-up then you would only test yourself. This would give you your specific Haplo Group, “a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patrilineal or matrilineal line.”(ISOGGHaplogroup)

Where to test? You want to have your DNA and the others (the people you want to test) DNA in the biggest DNA Gene Pool(s) as possible. From a recent class on DNA on Triangulation with Kitty Munson Cooper she suggested starting your testing with Ancestry for atDNA, then transferring your results over to FamilyTree DNA and upgrading to other tests for mtDNA or yDNA from there. This way you have your DNA in two big gene pools right off the bat (this as of march 2016).

Now run out and find all the cousins in your genealogical paperwork and talk them into doing a DNA test!