New Pedigree View Tree at Family Tree DNA

Roberta Estes Blog about the better Family Tree views at Family Tree DNA. Thanks Roberta!

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Ask, and ye shall receive.


It’s great when a vendor listens to what I’m sure probably wasn’t perceived as constructive criticism.

Family Tree DNA designed a new tree some time back, but with only a Family View.  Most genealogists utilize the Pedigree View, shown above, most often.  A few months ago, genetic genealogists asked Family Tree DNA to redesign the tree and include a pedigree view.  Today, the new tree view was added to everyone’s personal page!

The pedigree view is relevant for direct line ancestors.  This screen shot is of my own tree, but this view works for any of your matches who have trees attached as well.  You can see 4 generations of ancestors at once and click to expand to the next 4 generations with the right arrow at any end-of-line ancestor.  You can also scroll or click to make the tree larger or smaller.

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Grandma’s Genes Blog is now on our Website

Now that we have our website up and running, you can follow our blog posts from there…

Grandma’s Genes Website

Grandma’s Genes Blog

Hot Blueberry Pie awaits…

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…


WikiTree and Family Search

Life is such an annoying thing, the way it always gets in the way of enjoying genealogy – my/our primary purpose in life, right? I have so many real life things to do today but instead I am here posting a blog about a speaking engagement I have for tomorrow on one of my favorite subjects…you guessed it, GENEALOGY!

Shameless plug:

Voices from the Dust – Ottawa’s Rootstech

Saturday, 18 June, 2016 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

1017 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa Ontario

My subject? Why it’s “WikiTree and Family Search, Oh, The Connections You’ll Make!”.

There are all sorts of Wiki based projects “out there”. WikiPedia is probably the best known, WikiAnswers, and others of all kinds. (There’s even a Wiki to search all of the various Wiki’s!) The Family Search Site even has it’s own Wiki – FamilySearch Wiki. This wiki is chock full of great information on everything Genealogy. The Wiki I am talking about is my favorite Wiki, WikiTree.


Wikitree is a Global family Tree. It is one single tree built by volunteers from all over the world. It is a free Genealogy site which is my Genealogy program of choice. I have used a few programs in the past and they were pretty static. Static, meaning they didn’t move. They didn’t do anything from my computer…well one did, it uploaded all of my hard work to a “pay-for” Genealogy site. At the time I didn’t mind. At the time I knew I would never upgrade my “free” membership to a paid membership because I don’t believe in it. I, no one, should have to pay to see my/our ancestors. WikiTree is the converse of static. It changes and grows and expands like a real live tree. I have made more real live cousin connections in the two plus years I have been a part of Wikitree than in the 18 years I have done Genealogy.

That being said, WikiTree offers the opportunity to make connections. Making connections in Genealogy is important because connecting allows others who have the same interests as you, and you, to share information, sources, pictures and memories. It’s model of collaboration is an experiment in old school Genealogy,  gone wrong/wrong way  of thinking. Different in that you collaborate and share first – as you work. Done in discussions with other researchers, family historians and genealogists…then just sit back and watch your research move forward, facilitated by WikiTree.

In the case of Family Search? It’s amazing the stories I heard this year at Roots Tech from conference goers I talked to two years ago. In those conversations I explained that WikiTree and FamilySearch can work great together, in tandem:

In WikiTree you can post your research AND have others collaborate on the research. Then with one click connect that research to other, existing FamilySearch profiles.

Connecting my Charles Allen, III, Revolutionary soldier, I found there were two different profiles for him on Family search. I connected to both, though one had something terribly askew in the family relationships. Since I was doing a connection from WikiTree I had the opportunity to leave a message about the possible mistake in the notes for the Family Search profile, with reference to the Wikitree profile.  Haven’t heard anything back from the Family Search person as of yet but…

This shows the existing matches I have for Family Search to the WikiTree Profile for Charles Allen, III

One click and you are shown possible matches on Family Search. Wikitree saves that information on the WikiTree profile too. So you have a link straight to Family search for the profile you are researching on WikiTree. Pretty darn spiffy!

More on this tomorrow at the conference. Come see me…maybe I will have some blueberry pie waiting for you.

The presentation slides are available.

Coolaborate On!

I know I am the only one who does this.

I know I am the only one who does this.

I am the only genealogist who has a sense of family, who feels an ancestor’s pain when I type a date into my Genealogy program of choice (WikiTree). I am the only one who, when reading about some horrific event in an ancestors life, feel it in the pit of my stomach. I am the only one who feels pride when I read that someone was mentioned in the hallowed halls of Congress upon her death.

I know I am the only one.

Today I was working on an adoptee client’s mirror family tree (a tree created to “mirror” the tree of a DNA match, using the match as the “home” person). The husband of the probable mother of the adoptee shares as his death date, a birthday with my Grandfather. As I hit each key to type the death date, I realized that I didn’t just notice when someone shares my birthday, but I notice when I type any of my other important birthdays too.

I have a lot of those dates floating around in my brain. I even use the birth dates to switch around the combinations for my bicycle lock. Having the best bicycle in the house, I have had to change my combo’s a lot because certain children (child) in my life liked to borrow my bike lock or even attempt to borrow my bike. BAD CHILDREN! Right now my bike lock is so far back in my history and brain that it took me weeks and weeks to figure it out – Thank you Ross and several others in my life who share your birthday. I count stairs when I climb them too. Ask me about all telephone numbers I have had in my life…I know, too much information.

Noticing significant dates and feeling each keystroke. I am the only one who feels it. The date I typed just a few minutes ago might be even more significant to the Client. It might be the date of her mother or father’s or grandparents death – probably Grandparent. Just to think I am looking at the people that this adoptee has wondered about/looked for, for over 80 years. 80 years of dates come and gone, of weddings and births, graduations and vacations, thanksgivings and deaths. All of them in my finger tips, transferred to the keyboard and out into the ether.

I am on pins and needles waiting for the final DNA test. There have been many tests done for her birth family. Why? Because, this client’s birth family has a rabid family-historian/genealogist in its limbs, thank you universe. This family historian has been on the trail of another adoptee from the family for a while. There are generational differences, but this adoptee is my clients’ closest living relative. No she isn’t the other adoptee’s mother. And there is a skew in the match numbers for the two. They are first cousins once removed kinda sorta. Not exactly a first cousin, certainly not an Aunt and niece. But…it’s so hard to put your finger on because there was endogamy (the custom of marrying only within the limits of a local community, clan, or tribe – WikiPedia) in the family, for generations and generations.

One of my favorite Genetic Genealogists, Roberta Estes, covers the DNA numbers skew in endogamy very well in her blog, DNAeXplianed, Why Are My Predicted Cousin Relationships Wrong? I don’t need to repeat her great blog to explain this, because she explains it quite eloquently. She says “while the rules of thumb about how much DNA you inherit from specific ancestors are useful, they are not absolute. In other words, it’s certainly possible to inherit a very large chunk of DNA from a very specific distant ancestor when the rules of probability and the rule of thumb of 50% would indicate that you should not…

  • Endogamous populations throw a monkey wrench into estimates and calculations, because population members are likely related many times over in unknown ways.  This makes the estimate of relatedness of two people appear closer than it [really] is genealogically…”

My fingertips are stinging from all this typing. I, personally, feel the sting too. So, surely, there are no other genealogist out there in the world who do this, who feel every keystroke, or feel in the input of every recognizable date.

I know I am the only one who does this.

Haplogroups Most Recent Common Ancestor

Recently on WikiTree someone asked me ‘Dumb question, What is a Haplogroup?’

Thinking it was not a dumb question at all I gave the following answer.

A haplogroup is a grouping of common  patrilineal or matrilineal lines who share a common ancestor.  The main haplogroups are divided by letter, and smaller sub-divisions by letter and number.  For example H is a very large group, H1 is a subgroup of H, H1a is a subgroup of H1, and so on.   The further you narrow it down the closer in years the common ancestor is.

There are small parts of our DNA that do not change much over time.  Geneticists have used these parts to identify population groupings, where they live, and their movement through human history.   Certain haplogroups occur with greater frequency in certain areas which is what leads to them be categorized as African, European, Asian, Native American etc.

Males have a paternal and a maternal haplogroup.  Their paternal haplogroup is inherited along a direct paternal line – your father’s father’s father’s, etc.. The maternal haplogroup is inherited from your direct maternal line.  Females only have a maternal haplogroup.

Here is a mapping of maternal haplogroups: migration_map_wfn1

You can see from this map what part of the world the groups are associated with.    If you get into the details of the haplogroups it will show how the groups branch out from one another. Mitochondrial Haplogroup L is the mother of all other groups. On a long enough timeline everyone’s ancestry goes back to Africa (more than 75,000 years ago).  But these haplogroups identify ancestry in more recent times (within the last 50,000 years) when new haplogroups M and N were emerging.

For example my mother is haplogroup H.   This is the biggest group for Europeans.  It is estimated that the common ancestor of this group is a woman who lived in the Caucasus/SW Asia between 33,000 and 26,000 years ago.   Depending on the test you take you can get more detail.  H is a daughter group to N which branched of as much as 75,000 years ago, which is a daughter group to L – going back 200,000 years in Africa.

My mother did an mtDNA test that further narrowed her haplogroup to H1as.   Certain lineages of H1 are thought to have been introduced by hunter-gather women in Europe about 18,000 to 22,500 years ago.    H1as is one of at least 65 current subdivisions of H1.    As is it stands very little is know about H1as.

Keep in mind that the understanding of these groups changes over time as people learn more.  New groups are being discovered as time goes on.

Cluster Genealogy – 2 DNA & Geography

CW, as stated in the first post about Cluster Genealogy, has had every possible DNA test one could have. So one of the first things I did was look at his surname DNA project and his results as compared to others who match him closely.

For those who need a little help to find DNA projects, simply type the Surname you are interested in into a search engine, “Smith DNA Project”, and if there is a DNA project for the surname it will pop up. Oh! What we did before the internet! Editorial comments aside, it’s pretty easy to find. One note of caution, do not copy and post information directly from the DNA project to anywhere public.

So in looking at CW’s DNA Surname Project I found several entries for “W” in the spread sheet who share CW’s Haplogroup, R-M269. In just looking at the people listed in the same Haplogroup, I see:

Samuel, b. 1643, Portsmith, New Hampshire, d. 1718
Ichabod, 1610, England
Thomas, 1787, Buckfastliegh, Devon (alternate surname spelling) This fella is also listed in this subclade but also in two other subclades.
No Name Unknown Origin
No Name Unknown Origin
William, b. 1750 – 1795, United Kingdom
Charles, b. 1769 Unknown – 1850 Alabama
Levi, 1780 – 1849 Unknown Origin
Levi, 1780 – 1849 Unknown Origin
No Name Unknown Origin
Samuel H., b. 1803, Cornish, ME, USA  <— this is CW’s ancestor
William, b.1800 d.aft 1880, Unknown Origin
Levi, B. 1780 and d. 1849, Unknown Origin
William (completely different surname) b 1860 d 1910 Unknown Origin

All of these entries are listed with the note, “R1b-M343 Backbone SNP Pack”, so it appears that FTDNA thinks these fella’s are all connected to some point in time (could be thousands of years).

So I now have a list of possible family members for CW, that I will need to research to see if they “fit”.

I have already had an opportunity to look into Levi, 1780-1849 as a fellow WikiTreer has Levi of SC associated with what he believes is CW’s Maine line (he had all of the children of this family located in Maine, then the one Child, Levi, in SC, an anomaly worth looking into for sure). Researching this Levi of SC gives us a man who was born in South Carolina, lived in South Carolina and died in South Carolina. There is no apparent connection, in the genealogical time frame, to CW’s family in Maine. I did find another Levi who lived in Maine at the right time and the right place to possibly be Levi who is the Levi of Maine and the one connected to CW..

So new questions arise, were the DNA tests associated with Levi of SC, actually for the Levi of Maine? The only way to find out is to search for the testers and find out what information they have for the paper trail. Then we can see which of the Levi’s in the DNA Project belong to Levi of Maine and which belong to the Levi of SC.

Off to find some paper trails for the rest and to find some testers to help with identifying the right Levi’s!