Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More Family Finder Matches? Now FTDNA is Making Changes!

I haven't even begun to recover for the AncestryDNA v3 Update and now FTDNA is doing their own Family Finder autosomal algorithm update. My head is spinning for sure. Who's next? GEDMatch? DNA Land?
Thanks to Dr D Digs Up Ancestors blog at http://blog.ddowell.com/2016/05/more-family-finder-matches.html for the info below.
FTDNA project administrators will be getting notices soon that announce the following changes in the threshold Family Finder customers must meet in order to be matched with each other.
You asked for it - we listened!

For several years the genetic genealogy community has asked for adjustments to the matching thresholds in the Family Finder autosomal test. After months of research and testing, we have implemented some exciting changes effective very soon.
Currently, the current matching thresholds - the minimum amount of shared DNA required for two people to show as a match are:
     ● Minimum longest block of at least 7.69 cM for 99% of testers, 5.5 cM for the other one percent
     ● Minimum 20 total shared centiMorgans 

Some people believed those thresholds to be too restrictive, and through the years requested changes that would loosen those restrictions.

Soon, the following changes will have been implemented to the matching program.

     ● No minimum shared centiMorgans, but if the cM total is less than 20, at least one segment must be 9 cM or longer.

     ● If the longest block of shared DNA is greater than 9 cM, the match will show regardless of total shared cM or the number of matching segments.
The entire existing database has been rerun using the new matching criteria, and all new matches have been calculated with the new thresholds. 
Most people will see only minor changes in their matches, mostly in the speculative range. They may lose some matches but gain others.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

NADs and NADs and yes, even more NADs! But some of them aren't real?

AncestryDNA has gone nuts with NADs. The sad part is they just can't be trusted for anything useful in some cases aka false NAD matches.

So Larry you ask how do you know this outrageous fact. Hint here dear reader, I've tested both my parents and if they do not have those NADs that I have they can't be real right? Remember that Ancestry made a big deal about the fact that those of us who also tested our parents have had our results phased with their test to produce more accurate results and get rid of false positives - right!

So let me illustrate dear reader. Here are the current crop of NADs (they put a whole bunch on the street earlier this week).

Larry Van Horn 17 NADs (the son)

Elisabeth Defeld  (1819-1901)* Maternal
Virginie Devillier  (1821-1878)
Jane Dunlap   (1811-1873)* Paternal
Elinor Henson   (1787-1873)* Paternal
Faustin Hollier   (1812-1876)
Berryman Isom Jones  (1820-1896)* Paternal
John Doyle Lee   (1812-1877)
John Lynch   (1778-1863)* Paternal
Warren Lafayette Lynch  (1839-1916)
Jeremiah Meek   (1806-1856)* Paternal
Jeremiah V Meek   (1818-1893)
Johann Peter Meuth  (1809-1857)
Margaretha Meuth  (1843-1910)* Maternal
Frank Seidel   (1827-1893)* Maternal
Elizabeth Vest   (1820-1897)
Lueticia Ward   (1845-1883)
Licenia Watkins   (1824-1909)* Paternal

My Father 35 NADs

Henry C Begley   (1792-1854)
Levi Brookshire   (1830-1916)
John Laddie Bullock  (1844-1926)
Peter Richard Clement  (1840-1914)
Henry Heslip Davis  (1849-1931)
Emma D. Dixon   (1839-1909)
Jane Dunlap   (1811-1873)
Alfred Dye   (1842-1918)
Francis Kincannon Elliott (1813-1884)
James Millard Gilliland  (1856-1939)
Laura Emma Hall   (1860-1932)
Elinor Henson   (1787-1873)
Adah Belle Higby  (1853-1925)
Berryman Isom Jones  (1820-1896)
Nicie Elizabeth Kinnaird (1859-1925)
Anne Friedericke Kock  (1827-1894)
Reuben Layton   (1836-1892)
Louisa Jane Long  (1840-1933)
Eliza Clementine Lynch  (Born 1873)
John Lynch   (1778-1863)
Jonathan Brooks May  (1857-1923)
Jessie Alexander Mayhall (1835-1912)
Lucy Jane McAleer  (1856-1933)
Jeremiah Meek   (1806-1856)
Mary Cordelia Meek  (1847-1928)
Eliza Ann Plaster  (1839-1915)
Elizabeth Roberts  (1792-1837)
Mary Elizabeth Selvage  (1859-1947)
Morgan Joseph Smith  (1834-1911)
Johann Heinrich Staack  (1817-1894)
Licenia Watkins   (1824-1909)
Elisabeth "Lizzie" Yeilding (1852-1884)

My Mother 14 NADs

Elisabeth Defeld  (1819-1901)
Ruben Theodore "Fred" Farthing (1854-1932)
Faithia Futrell   (1808-1887)
Green Berry McCormick  (1848-1930)
Johann Peter Meuth  (1809-1857)
Margaretha Meuth  (1843-1910)
Levi William Pitts  (1838-1880)
Martha Jane Prater  (1837-1930)
Frank Seidel   (1827-1893)
Rebecca Singleton  (1850-1912)
James Storm   (1786-1863)
Telitha Surginer  (1842-1912)
James Vaughn   (1804-1857)
James Vinson   (1804-1884)

And the results? Eight of the NADs I have nearly 50% are not shared with either of my parents.

Not good for someone's test that has been supposedly phased with his parents AncestryDNA tests.

BTW I am also working up a list of false matches that I still have even after AncestryDNA's new phasing algorithm. That isn't looking so good either.

AncestryDNA is not having a good week in my eyes for sure.

More AncestryDNA Wierdness - Check Your Removed Matches

Well this is really weird. This morning while cleaning up my 4th Cousin AncestryDNA matches and above, I opened my Removed Matches folder. I carefully manage this folder only placing those matches that do not have any tree linked to it in this folder.

Now imagine my surprise this morning when I open up removed matches and discovered this:

If you click on that graphic you will see blue dot matches, bunches of them. What appears to have happened is all the matches that I placed in the removed folder had its status changed by Ancestry's computers to not viewed (blue dot on). And to add insult to injury all those matches in that folder that had notes . . . the notes are gone.

OK Ancestry, what gives with this glitch. Now I have my test eight pages of matches to sort through again and make notes on matches that I have already looked at and made notes on. I haven't checked my five other testers but no doubt I will be slugging through them as well. Thanks Ancestry but no thanks. And then there are the NADs, but that is the next post.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Customer Testing Begins on New AncestryDNA Chip

And now the second of what I expect are three shoes to drop re: AncestryDNA testing. Rumor has it that the third shoe still hanging out there might be an ethnic mix update.

Post from the Ancestry blog on 12 May 2016:

The science and technology powering the AncestryDNA test, which helps people better understand themselves and where they come from, is always evolving. We are constantly seeking new and better ways to provide insights into your past and to help you uncover the stories and relationships that have come together to make you who you are. As part of that focus on continual improvement, starting next week, we will begin to use a new DNA test chip for the AncestryDNA test.

The new chip, with approximately 700,000 DNA markers, has been designed to help us refine our ability to provide insight into your ethnic and geographic origins and your family’s genetic history. In the four years since we launched AncestryDNA, we have learned that some markers, also known as SNPs, in DNA are better indicators of ethnic and geographic origins than others, so we have created this new chip to focus on those signals and enable further refinements to the results. This will provide further improvements to the ethnicity results we provide. For example, many of the markers that were picked for the new chip were selected because they provide greater insight into non-European populations. In addition, they strengthen our ability to provide matches to cousins who have also taken an AncestryDNA test. Altogether, the changes we have made to the new chip will enable us to provide more of the ethnicity and family story insights you have come to expect from us.

The new chip also includes some markers associated with health. Although we don’t currently offer health or diagnostic products to our customers, DNA data is used to improve our products and develop new ones, and for customers who have explicitly agreed, in external research to further understand human history and improve human health. We continue to explore the possibility of developing health products in the future, and may do so with proper regulatory and legal approval.

The data derived from this new chip is backward compatible with the tests that were done on the prior chip. This means that features like DNA cousin matching will work seamlessly for all our customers. It also means that if you’ve already taken an AncestryDNA test, you don’t need to take a new test for the existing features of our service to continue to work.

We are excited to be taking this step with AncestryDNA. We are confident that it will help us continue to refine the value we provide to our customers, offering more insights into the history of your families and connecting you with relatives you never knew before. We’re also excited by the possibilities it opens up for new products in the future.

Roberta Estes at DNAeXplained elaborates on all this at https://dna-explained.com/2016/05/15/ancestry-modifies-their-autosomal-dna-chip/

Saturday, May 7, 2016

AncestryDNA's updated matching algorithms - Some before and after analysis

Found this interesting article on the Cruwys news blog. It has some analysis of their results from the AncestryDNA algorithm update at

I am about half way through updating my personal test results after the v3 update. I can definitely see some change and some improvement in IBD matching. I am one of those who probably benefited the most with this update thanks to have tested both my parents and the implementation of their new phasing algorithm instituted with this update.

Having said that I still have false matches including a close in 4th cousin, good confidence, 29.5 cM/2 segment match that neither of my parents has.

Right now I have two support tickets into AncestryDNA Tech Support for matching issues that defy all logic. Sometimes that computer most be drinking heavily! ;-)

In case you haven't seen the new matching criteria, here is what Ancestry has posted in their help files for this v3 update.

And here are the shared cM levels for various relationships now.

I will be doing some additional updates here on the FRB Blog as I complete the updates for my testing. But in the meantime, here are some initial statistics before and after AncestryDNA v3 application.

Larry Van Horn (this is me)
Before Update: 82 Leaf Matches, 124 4th Cousins, 18 DNA Circles, 5 NADs, 111 Pages
After Update: 93 Leaf matches (+11), 146 4th Cousins (+22), 16 DNA Circles (-2), 5 NADs, 138 Pages

My Father Warner Lee
Before Update: 138 Leaf Matches, 213 4th Cousins, 10 DNA Circles, 10 NADs, 160 Pages
After Update: 128 Leaf Matches (-10), 220 4th Cousins (+7), 12 DNA Circles (-2), 10 NADs, 170 Pages

My Mother Gloria Ann
Before Update: 24 Leaf Matches, 165 4th Cousins, 8 DNA Circles, 4 NADs, 107 Pages
After Update: 22 Leaf Matches (-2), 201 4th Cousins (+36), 4 DNA Circles (-4), 4 NADS, 134 Pages

My 2nd Cousin Jerilyn
Before Update: 76 Leaf Matches, 249 4th Cousins, 4 DNA Circles, 9 NADs, 205 Pages
After Update: 83 Leaf Matches (+7), 373 4th Cousins (+124), 4 DNA Circles (n/c), 9 NADs, 252 Pages

My Wife Gayle
Before Update: 269 Leaf Matches, 512 4th Cousins, 24 DNA Circles, 17 NADs, 217 Pages
After Update: 280 Leaf Matches (+11), 549 4th Cousins (+37), 21 DNA Circles (-3), 17 NADS, 238 Pages

Gayle's 2nd Cousin Bryan
Before Update: 166 Leaf Matches, 598 4th Cousins, 14 DNA Circles, 18 NADs, 232 Pages
After Update: 165 Leaf Matches (-1), 621 4th Cousins (+23), 15 DNA Circles (+1), 18 NADS, 258 Pages

Some of these numbers continue to fluctuate. Two days ago I watch the number of 4th cousins on my test page change several times during the day from 149 to 147 and back up to 149. It changed like this back and forth all day long. This morning it is back down to 147 for now.

I did lose five MRCA matches, but most were down there a bit in the weeds so to speak. Here are the casualties of the v3 update.

Moderate 5.1cM/1 8GGP Cornelius Dabney-Susannah Swann
Moderate 5.5cM/1 7GGF Heinrich Furrer-Russena Rosser
Moderate 5.7cM/1 7GGP John Chalfant-Dorothy Adams
Moderate 6cM/1    5GGM Margaret McCarter-1st husband William Motley
Good       8.8cM/1 7GGP William Hurt-Anne Stennard

Also if you have not done so be sure as soon as possible download your deleted v2 matches from Ancestry. Roberta Estes on her blog at https://dna-explained.com/2016/05/03/ancestry-update-downloading-v2-deleted-matches/ has all the instructions to perform this function so I won't repeat it here. Remember in order to have this v2 deleted file prior to the update if you starred or noted matches, and if those matches got deleted during the Ancestry update, Ancestry created that spreadsheet file for you to download.  It’s located under your setting gear wheel, to the right of your name.

More to follow, the analysis continues . . .

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New AncestryDNA Matching Update Now Online

We have been waiting for a couple of weeks now and as of minutes ago, all my testers pages and those of my cousins who have shared their pages with me have been updated.  I will have more on all this very soon.

Here is the accompanying supporting text:
AncestryDNA’s Cutting-Edge Science Gets Even Sharper

  We’re excited to share some of the advancements we’ve made to the science of finding your relatives through DNA, commonly referred to as DNA matching.
 Today, we’re rolling out an update to AncestryDNA that improves the precision of our DNA matching. And the good news for our AncestryDNA customers is, this update is free and has already been applied to your results.
 With the world’s largest consumer DNA database—1.5 million people and growing—plus the millions of family trees contributed by Ancestry members, we have been able to significantly improve the accuracy and quality of your DNA matching results.

What’s New?

- More precise matching—We can identify DNA connections with a better level of precision and accuracy than was possible before.
- More DNA matches—With this update, we have added more than 900 million cousin connections for DNA customers. And, you’ll continually get new connections since we have the largest consumer DNA database that is growing all the time.
- More time saved—We are providing an email notification for new 4th cousins or closer DNA matches so you won’t miss a thing.
 What to Expect

We’ve improved the confidence levels in estimating relationships by extending the comparison methods to potentially find longer segments of DNA shared between individuals. Individual results will vary, but because of this, you may see some DNA matches that were previously predicted to be more closely related to you at a higher confidence drop down in your list or no longer appear. Also, you may have new DNA matches that you haven’t seen before. If you have taken notes or "starred" a DNA match that no longer appears on your new list, you can download information about that previous match for a limited time from the DNA test settings page.
 To learn more about the confidence score for your DNA matches, check out our updated DNA Help article, "What does the match confidence score mean?" You can find this Help article on your DNA matches page by clicking on the question mark in the right-hand corner of the page.
 Have more questions? Read the frequently asked questions on this update.

Don’t Miss a New Discovery

With this update, we have also added a new weekly email that will notify you of 4th cousin matches (or closer). So, as new people take the AncestryDNA test, you can find out if a new close cousin is found.  
 If you haven’t opted in for notifications, it’s easy to do through the settings for your DNA test. Get the step-by-step instructions on how to do this here. If you manage multiple AncestyDNA tests in your account, you can set your preferences for each test.

  Advances in the Science
Phasing, trios, haplotypes, oh my. The AncestryDNA science team continues to make advances in the complex science of genetic genealogy. With this update, we’ve extended the areas in the genome that we analyze, so we can find larger areas of matching DNA. The new algorithm includes more diverse DNA than ever before, including many populations outside the U.S. In addition to that, we have now added more known DNA-tested parent and child (duo sets) and known DNA-tested parents (both Mom and Dad) and child (trio sets) to the process to make our phasing even more accurate. A big thanks to the AncestryDNA customers who are not just taking the test themselves but also encouraging parents and other close family members to take the AncestryDNA test.

What Makes These Advances Possible?

The short answer is that the 1.5-million people taking the DNA test plus the family trees they share are enabling new findings in the science of how we’re all related. Each person who takes the DNA test is connected into the vast family network of people using AncestryDNA. With each observation of relatedness in that DNA network, along with the confirmation of the family connections, our scientists are finding new methods to better predict who and how we’re related.
 We only know what we know with current data and research. As the database grows, what we know about our genetics and relationships grows with it.
 To learn more about the science behind this exciting update, our team has shared more of the technical details on our Tech Roots blog. Read it all here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

AncestyDNA and FTDNA Sales - Get'em while it is cheap

As some of you may know, National DNA Day is April 25th, and commemorates the day in 1953 when a paper detailing the structure of DNA was published in Nature magazine. It also recognizes the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.

Ancestry is having a DNA sale to commemorate DNA day. DNA Day Sale for AncestryDNA. Only $79 and free shipping if you use the FREESHIPDNA code. Click below - http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-5455910-10508555-1404254934000

At  Family Tree DNA, they are also celebrating the DNA day accomplishments by having a sale on DNA tests for genealogy! 

FTDNA is launching their much-anticipated DNA Day Sale. which will extend through Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (11:59 PM Central).

The prices are below, and are valid on new tests and add-ons only. Discounts do not combine with existing group discounts. Upgrades will be discounted in June.

Retail Pricing
   Sale Price
Family Finder
mtFull Seq
SNP Packs
mtDNA plus
Not on Sale

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New Advances in DNA Science Coming Your Way

From the Ancestry.com Blog posted this afternoon:

Posted by on April 20, 2016 in AncestryDNA
We’ve been refining and expanding the science behind DNA matching to find your relatives. And we’ve got some exciting improvements coming your way soon.
These advancements are expected to deliver more-precise predictions of whom you are related to, and how closely, among the million-plus others in the AncestryDNA database. And we will be making this update for free to AncestryDNA customers.
What does this mean for you?
Your DNA match list will automatically show the new results when the update is available.
Of course, we can’t make your list of DNA matches more accurate without removing some of the less-accurate ones. So, while you’ll have new DNA matches to research, some of your current DNA matches may no longer appear as a relative. We’ll be providing a way for you to download DNA matches that you marked with a star or have added notes on the site that no longer appear on your updated list.
Also, if you recently sent in a DNA sample and are waiting for your results, your DNA matches will automatically include this update when your results are ready. While we complete the update for all existing customers, we will not be posting new results for this brief period of time. We appreciate your patience as we work to make these updates for all our AncestryDNA customers.
Stay tuned, we will provide an expanded update soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Update: Expect changes in your AncestryDNA results in next week or two.

As I mentioned in my previous post, changes are going to be made in Ancestry's Timber algorithm in the next week or two according to Blaine Bettinger in a post on his Genetic Genealogist blog.

Update: Action post from Roberta at DNAeXplained regarding this change. https://dna-explained.com/2016/04/19/upcoming-ancestry-dna-update-urgent/

I won't quote all of Blaine's post here, you can read it for yourself at
http://thegeneticgenealogist.com/2016/04/19/ancestrydna-plans-update-to-matching-algorithm/, but here are some significant changes mentioned by him in his post.

Among the changes that are expected in this update are the following (bolding below is mine):
"•Phasing Improvement – AncestryDNA has significantly increased the reference haplotype set used for phasing prior to cousin matching, meaning that the quality of AncestryDNA’s phasing will increase. This should result in fewer phasing errors, and thus fewer lost matches and false positives."
"•Matching Improvement – AncestryDNA is changing how they identify matches between individuals. Previously, AncestryDNA was using “windows” or blocks of DNA to compare two individuals. They will now be used a SNP-based method to compare people. The problem with the previous method is that if the windows didn’t overlap a segment properly, they could either miss the segment entirely or shorten the segment. The SNP-based method will no longer miss or shorten these segments. As a result of this switch, it is expected that many matching segments will increase in size. The total shared cM with many, and possibly most, matches will increase."

"•Match Confidence Changes – there will also be a change to the matching thresholds/confidence scores; specifically, the relationship prediction thresholds will be more stringent. As a result, we will see some of our existing matches SHIFT; they will NOT be disappearing. Thus, we will NOT be losing any 2nd, 3rd, or 4th cousin matches, in the sense that these matches are gone. Instead, we will see some 2nds go to 3rd or 4th (possibly, but this will be a rare shift for most existing customers), see some 3rds go to 4th or distant (slightly less rare), and we will definitely see many 4ths go to the distant category."

Bottom line for me, at least, is that I will have to go back to every match entry in my database and update them all with the new information. I would suggest that you all record your current total page count for each of your test an then when the change is made, you will have a better understanding of when the change has been made and the impact on your total matches. Depending on your preference you may wish to hold off recording info in your spread sheets until after the latest changes are made. I will get a real good look at what changes are made thanks to all the info in my spreadsheet already.

So I am batting a thousand. Teach Ancestry in genealogy one of my genealogy classes and expect major changes after class is over.  Guess that keeps me in business. ;-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Here we go again - another major AncestryDNA alert!

It happened about a year and a half ago when Ancestry introduced their new Timber algorithm and half my matches for all six of my testers went away. Now their is the announcement below circulating among various DNA groups.

New Advances in DNA Science Coming Your Way

While you've been exploring your DNA matches, we've been refining and expanding the science behind DNA matching to find your relatives. And we've got some exciting improvements coming your way soon.

These advancements are expected to deliver more-precise predictions of whom you are related to, and how closely, among the million-plus others in the AncestryDNA database. And we will be making this available for free to all AncestryDNA customers.

What does this mean for you?
Your DNA match list will automatically show the new results when the update is available in the coming weeks. You’ll receive an email letting you know when it’s ready. In the meantime, it’s business as usual. You’ll continue to get new DNA matches as we find new possible relatives as the database grows.

Of course, we can’t make your list of DNA matches more accurate without removing some of the less-accurate ones. So, while you’ll have new DNA matches to research, some of your current DNA matches may no longer appear as a relative. We’ll be providing a way for you to download DNA matches that you marked with a star or have added notes on the site that no longer appear on your updated list.

What makes this possible?
AncestryDNA has quickly become the largest consumer DNA database, with 1.5 million people and growing rapidly. This is one of the major reasons our science team can develop significant improvements to finding and predicting relationships among AncestryDNA customers. We’re excited to share more details around the improvements when we release the update so you can dig into the science and technology.

So, stay tuned and look forward to the new possibilities for discoveries.


About right now all my genealogy students are laughing their heads off. I have this thing that happens anytime I teach a class involving Ancestry or AncestryDNA. Shortly after the class is over, Ancestry will always make major changes. This semester I taught a beginner and advanced class centered around AncestryDNA. Just damn!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

AncestryDNA Circles and NADs Restored

After much conversation and discussion with AncestryDNA today I am happy to report that all the missing DNA circles and NADs for my six testers has been restored. Still have not received a full explanation for what caused the disappeared Circles/NADs but glad to see them back on our pages.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

AncestryDNA is going to drive me to drink (the hard stuff)!

Every time I see that commercial on TV, the New Geico Spy commercial, it makes me think of AncestryDNA.

How you say?

The mom tells her super spy son on the roof of the building fighting the bad guys, "The Squirrels are back in the attic and your father won't call an exterminator – He says it is personal this time."

Well the AncestryDNA Squirrels are back. they are driving my crazy and it is personal this time. It is well known among my local genealogy students the accounts of my constantly fluctuating leaf matches on all the test I manage. Now Ancestry has taken it to a whole new level - the constantly fluctuating DNA circles and NADs. The sad part is it isn't just me, my all the students I have queried so far are experiencing the same thing.

So dear reader let me document the latest AncestryDNA issue below, among the many we have seen over the last four years. I maintain a spread sheet on all my testing results (AncestryDNA, FTDNA, GedMatch, 23andMe and DNALand), and because of this my statistics do not lie. I have/had the following DNA circles/NADs for my various family testers over the last two weeks.

Testers #1/2 are for my spouse's family and #3-6 are for my family.

Tester #1:
Middle March - 24 DNA circles and 20 NADs
March 26 - 14 DNA circles and 16 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 17 DNA circles and 16 NADs

Tester #2
Middle March - 14 DNA circles and 16 NADs
March 26 - 11 DNA circles and 10 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 12 DNA circles and 15 NADs

Tester #3
Middle March - 16 DNA circles and 2 NADs
March 26 -  8 DNA circles and 1 NAD
March 30 (Today) - 11 DNA circles and 1 NAD

Tester #4
Middle March - 6 DNA circles and no NADs
March 26 - 4 DNA circles and no NADs
March 30 (Today) - 4 DNA circles and no NADs

Tester #5
Middle March - 10 DNA circles and 8 NADs
March 26 - 4 DNA circles and 5 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 7 DNA circles and 6 NADs

Tester #6
Middle March - 4 DNA circles and 7 NADs
March 26 - 0 DNA circles and 7 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 2 DNA circles and 7 NADs

As has been the past leaf matches go up and down sometimes several times a day for my testers. Honestly, I am not sure what the heck they are doing out there in Provo.  I have seen NADs  and DNA circles go up and down on individual test but not by that much and that many testers (including my students).

So AncestryDNA what is your story this time? You still haven't fix some issues with my testers that I submitted before last Thanksgiving. I really do not want to have to put you in the corner with 23andMe. I understand that these products are in Beta but the wild swings I have seen over the last 15 days has me wondering how much we can trust with either product.

So has anyone else seen this issue? Sure would like some answers Ancestry!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dustup Between 23andMe and FTDNA

I guess it was only a matter of time before lawyers got their hands on our good thing -- genetic genealogy DNA testing -- and turned it into one hell of a legal mess (as most thing lawyers get their hands on turn into).
This new "thing" has so many moving parts, quite frankly I have decided to sit back and let the dust settle and see who or what is left standing. So for the time being, here are links to the major pieces of this nightmare as I have been able to find them.
I've said this before but IMHO, the minute the ABA allowed lawyers to advertise on TV was the minute that everything has gone to hell in a hand basket in this country. They have managed to screw up way to many and made this country into a very litigious society.
Here are the three links I have some far.
Family Tree DNA and GedMatch Dustup
Family Tree DNA Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Privacy Violations
Alaska class action lawsuit says Family Tree DNA posted info on public websites
Will it is what it is and if I hear anything else, I will report it here. I could say something here but given how 1st amendment free speech has been under attack lately, best to keep my  yapper shut. I don't need and lawyers, subpoenas or lawsuits at this stage of my life.

No more 23andMe testing in this household!

I have mentioned this several times in classes in recent weeks, but now it is time to put a more public face, uh, lipstick on this pig. If you are in the DNA testing marketplace for a DNA test right now my best advice is "DO NOT" do any genetic DNA testing at the company 23and Me. They have gone completely off the deep end in regards to those of us who are interested in genetic genealogy. Quite frankly I have never seen anything quite like it.
But hey, don't take my word for it. Roberta Estes on her DNAeXplained blog does a much better job at this point of explaining the issues than I would, but everything she mentioned in her post I have experienced first hand.
So if you have been thinking about testing at 23endMe for genetic genealogy purposes, be sure to read Roberta's comments in her Closing Up Shop at 23andMe and the Trap post.
Caveat emptor!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Genealogy Talk at MCUG Feb 8

If you are local to the Tri-State I will be speaking to the Mountain Computer Users Group on Monday February 8 at 6:00 pm on Using Technology to do Genealogy Research in the 21st Century. I will also conduct a general genealogy "Q&A" session following the presentation. A brief meeting for announcements and door prizes will start at 7:45PM.

MCUG meetings are held at the Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church in Young Harris, GA, next to the college.

The program will be held in the Fellowship Hall of Sharp Memorial Methodist Church located in Young Harris. Entry is from the South side parking area about midway down the building.

You can find more on their website including a map at http://www.mcug.org/Meetings/february2016.html

I hope to meet a few of you there at the MCUG meeting Monday night.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ancesrty DNA matching system just gets wierder

For about the last three months I have been fighting major gremlins in the AncestryDNA matching system. One of my first matches at Ancestry/FTDNA for me and my dad was with a Texas Witt family cousin. That leaf match has totally disappeared, his tree is listed as private (it isn't and I am a contributor to the tree), and when I do a DNA surname search for Witt it doesn't even show up. I have called their tech support three times (each lasting well over 1/2 hour) and even though they put a ticket in, no resolution to date.
That is just one of the here one minute, gone the next, shows up in a few days again, disappears, etc.
Now today I get the weirdest email ever from Ancestry. It is titled "New Shared Ancestor Hint for Warner Lee Van Horn" (my dad).
My dad has a match and the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) is him. He is listed as his own father and the match is to an unnamed son. See screen grab below.
When I open up the "explore the connection" link, I am greeted with a 4c cousin who is not a leaf match (in fact, her tree is now private. She is a she and not a son as the link above states. See graphic below (click on image to get a closer look).
So I will be on the phone again soon with Ancestry to try to understand this bizarre occurrence. I swear this folks are going to make an old man out of me yet! ;-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Grumpy Genealogist

I can't pass this up. Granted it happened five years ago, but this incident put a smile on my face this morning. According to a newspaper article I found, one of my cousins - Wayne Witt Bates - took on the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) back in 2011.
The article below was originally published in the Washington Post in July 2011 and goes to show:
1) How hard it is to research a Rev War patriot, and
2) How rigid some folks can be in this world of genealogy research proofs as outlined in the article while allowing other original records (e.g. 1850-1870 census records) to pass as absolute proof.
I should add as a note of clarification that the DAR now allows Y-DNA testing for proof as long as the testing meets their demanding standards. The Y-DNA testing alone within their proof standard will not be enough. You have to have two males take the Y-DNA test, both with minimum 37 marker tests and these two closely related males must match exactly on "all" 37 markers. And to add insult to injury you still have to have all the written proofs you would have submitted anyway even if you had not submitted the DNA tests which requires a bunch of extra paperwork.
Sort of looks to me like someone wants to build a Y-DNA database for Rev War patriots courtesy of their descendants applying to the DAR for membership. I should add the mtDNA or autosomal DNA are not allowed as proof with the DAR.
Bottom line: I fully support my cousin Wayne on this one. Your one in a million Wayne.
Daughters of the American Revolution challenged by Bates family of Virginia
Wayne Witt Bates did not set out to take on the Daughters of the American Revolution. But he is not used to being challenged on his genealogy. A short list of his credentials: researcher for the Bates Family of Old Virginia (300 members and counting), coordinator of the Bates Family DNA project and, for 15 years, editor of the family newsletter, the Bates Booster.
“I am surprised DAR wants to fight me about the Bateses,” said Bates, 88, of Centreville, who has been researching his family tree since retiring as a Pentagon employee in 1974. “I know more than anyone wants to know.”
The genealogical throwdown began in January, when a cousin in Nevada, Suzanne Witt Adrian, told Bates that the Daughters of the American Revolution had turned away her application to have one of their ancestors, Reuben Bates Sr., recognized for his Revolutionary War service.
Proving direct descent from someone who aided the Revolutionary War effort has been a prerequisite for joining DAR since it was founded in 1890 as a response to women being excluded from Sons of the American Revolution. DAR — which describes itself as “dedicated to good works, such as promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and better education for children” — has more than 165,000 members, with hundreds of applications pouring in each month.
The organization, however, has strict standards when it comes to proof, with a preference for primary sources such as probate records, wills and census records. A DAR genealogist told Adrian, who is already a DAR member, that she didn’t prove she was descended from Reuben Bates or that he served in the war. She appealed to Wayne Bates for help. He submitted evidence to bolster their case, including DNA test results that, along with paper records, seemed to show conclusively that Adrian Bates descended from Reuben Bates Sr.
But in March, she learned DAR doesn’t accept DNA evidence, and the society turned back her application for a second time, saying she still hadn’t proved lineage or service to qualify Reuben Bates as a patriot. For Wayne Bates, this amounted to a declaration of war.
Bates, who resembles Colonel Sanders in giant square eyeglasses, began shooting off daily e-mails to DAR genealogists. He went on genealogy message boards and posted mini-screeds with titles such as “Current Rigid Methodology Renders DAR Immune to Logic” and “DAR credibility suffers.”
His lobbying campaign did not go over well at DAR’s downtown D.C. headquarters, at 1776 D St. NW. Stephen Nordholt, DAR’s administrator, warned Bates that if he didn’t stop bugging them, there would be “no further attention being given your matter — even if you are able to find new documentation that proves service of the individual in question.”
Among Bates family members, Reuben Bates Sr.’s Revolutionary War service has been accepted as fact since the 1970s because of something Wayne Bates had found at the National Archives.
Back then, when his knees still let him scour courthouses and church basements, he came across a book that contained a list of Continental Army soldiers assigned to Virginia. Inside was a description of what essentially was a pay stub for service in the Continental Army by one Reuben Bates.
It read: “Bates, Reuben — Soldier of Infantry — paid by Mr. Duval on March 4, 1783 — 36 (pounds).”
The payment record alone is not enough to prove service, Wayne Bates concedes. Colonial-era parents were not terribly creative when it came to naming their offspring. There were multiple Reuben Bateses and William Duvals running around the newly liberated colonies in 1783.
So Bates narrowed his search. He found four men named Reuben Bates living in Virginia during the Revolutionary War and looked up their vital statistics. Only one would have been the right age to have served and lived in the same county as a Duval: his ancestor, Reuben Bates of Louisa County.
Bates surmised that Duval was most likely Maj. William Duval, whose service in the Continental Army is verified by military pension records at the National Archives. In his pension application, Duval said he commanded troops from Louisa and several other counties and that he also owned land in Louisa in 1783. He was, in fact, the only Duval in Louisa County in 1783, tax records show.
Bates thought for sure that was all the proof he needed. He figured that as Reuben’s neighbor and probably his commanding officer, Duval had paid him for his service.
But DAR was still not convinced. Genealogist Thomas Ragusin, in a letter to Adrian and Wayne Bates, said the Duval on the payment record could not have been Maj. William Duval of Louisa because the record mentions “Mr. Duval,” not “Maj. Duval.”
Bates offers his own explanation for that. The war had been over for two years by then, and Duval would have returned to being a civilian.
‘An art form’
Bates admits to being a tad obsessive. For fun, he once tracked down every man who served on his Navy destroyer in World War II. He spent much of the 1980s researching the causes of railroad accidents after his brother, a railroad engineer, was wrongly blamed for one. “I cleared his name, clean as a whistle,” he says proudly. “It took 12 years, but I did it.”
The genealogical staff at DAR, by contrast, gets about two hours with each application. More than 90 percent are approved. The Bates case is part of a small minority that, instead, receive detailed “analyses” that lay out what is missing and what other documents to look for.
Genealogy “is not a science. It’s an art form,” says Terry Ward, who is DAR’s chief genealogist and leads a staff of 40.
Ward has short, gray hair and a slightly gravely voice. She’s worked in the DAR genealogy department for 14 years and remembers the days when correcting an old record involved scratching off the typewriting and then typing in the right information.
She has been the most frequent target of Bates’s barrage.
Ward has seen her share of applicants get upset when they are turned away, although they’re not usually as relentless as Bates. She doesn’t take it personally, she said. Nor do her staff members. They understand that genealogy is, at heart, an emotional exercise.
“It’s research and human nature. Someone goes up into the attic and finds Grandma was married twice and my uncle isn’t my uncle,” she says. “We understand that. We all started out researching our own families.”
She said proving service for a soldier in the Continental Line is rarely easy. Given the proliferation of identical names, proof of residency is critical to properly identifying someone. But the men who served on the Continental Line were pulled from different states, making it harder to know whether an ancestor is, for example, Reuben Bates from Virginia or Reuben Bates from New England.
Wayne Bates and other proponents of using DNA in genealogy argue that is precisely what DNA could help with. Within the Bates family, DNA has helped distinguish who descends from which branch. He said DNA evidence also backs up his claim that he is descended from Reuben Bates Sr. The Y chromosome DNA is passed down from father to son. Wayne Bates’s DNA was an exact match for that of a relative who, by paper, can document his lineage to Reuben. Other lineage societies, including Sons of the American Revolution, accept DNA evidence.
Ward and her colleagues said their problem with DNA is that it is still too imperfect a tool for them to rely on, unless someone is able to find every ancestor, dig them up and test their DNA. “If life were like ‘CSI,’ ” Ward says, “that would solve all of my genealogical problems.”
On a recent morning, Wayne Bates makes his way down to his cluttered office in the basement of the home he shares with his wife, Rose. At the foot of the stairs is a map of Fairfax County in 1760.
Refusing to quit
He grumbles that he doesn’t move as well as he used to and that he has to fork out $40 an hour to send a professional genealogist to ferret out documents for him. He does most of his research perched in front of his computer, his face hovering a few inches from the screen.
He picks his way around piles of binders, boxes, an old exercise bike, file cabinets and an armchair. He points to a volume titled “Ancestors and Descendents of William Whitt (1775-1850),” by David F. Whitt.
“That’s a tremendous book,” he says.
Bates looks around at the mess. “You ought to see it up here,” he says, tapping his forehead.
“I still think the first genealogist made an innocent mistake,” he says. But the rejection by Ragusin, the other DAR genealogist, was galling. “He ignored all the evidence.”
At one point, Bates’s cousin suggested they ditch the effort to recognize Reuben Sr., but the old man refused.
“My poor ancestor is blue in the face from holding his breath,” he says. “DAR is still holding him in limbo.”
I tip my hat to you cousin Wayne.