Returning to Blogging in the New Year – Refreshed and Excited

The definition of taking a break is interrupting one’s activity briefly. When I went into hiatus the end of October I didn’t expect it to be over two months before I would come back to blogging.

I was touched by the people who reached out to me while I was missing in action. Several messaged me directly to find out if all was well. From my young 3C1R Luella who I’ve known nearly two decades to my #1 reader/commenter/blogger Amy to my follower from Brazil whose ancestors lived in the same village as my ancestors.

All were worried. They didn’t know I’d fallen into a rabbit hole, spinning down winding double helix strands carrying our DNA. It took me a while to gain my orientation and find the even more twisted ladder out of the hole.

Who’s Fault Was It?


Blaine T. Bettinger shared my post How DNA Results Helped Discover Luxembourg Emigrants in the Facebook group Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques.

Great blog post about how the DNA Match Labeling extension for Chrome helped solve a genealogical mystery! Genetic networks and clustering tools are the future of DNA evidence!

I had no idea I was even on Blaine’s radar and it explained a spike in traffic on my blog during the week following the post. Being noticed by Blaine was fantastic.

Even more incredible was the help I received from a member of the Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques group.  Jonathan Brecher sent a message offering to run a Shared Clustering tool he has developed on the AncestryDNA test I manage to help me tickle out the maternal matches.

Shared Clustering

As mentioned in the above post [over two months ago] maternal matches are few and far between as that side of my family tree is Luxembourgish with a few branches which reach into France and Germany during the periods of time when the area belonged to Luxembourg.

Jonathan’s tool is not yet available to the public. He sent a CSV file with the heat map of my matches and a list of the clusters in text format. He paid special attention to my starred matches as these were the ones I had already been able to identify as maternal.

The heat map generated 66 clusters. Four of these are for maternal matches while 61 are for paternal. One cluster remains unknown at this time but looks more paternal than maternal.

The number of matches in each cluster varies greatly. There are a dozen clusters with only 2-10 matches, 33 between 11-100, 11 between 101-200, 4 between 201-400, 5 between 401-500, and one with 705!

I pinned down the fourth maternal cluster this past week – when I was supposed to be working on this post. I felt the pull of that rabbit hole, again, and checked each match and their trees until I found the connection. They descend from immigrants, two BAUSTERT brothers who were great-grandsons of my 5th great-grandparents Matthias SCHRAMEN and Anna Barbara LEIBRICH (BURG) of Ferschweiler, Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Did the Baustert brothers know their 1C1R Nicholas SCHRAMEN had emigrated about 20 years earlier and originally settled in Iowa where they were also found?

What I’ve Been Working On

As the CSV file Jonathan sent included my notes, the paternal clusters were easily identified as coming from one of the four paternal grandparents’ branches. Some could even be associated with specific branches of a grandparent’s ancestral line.

I’ve been amending my notes on AncestryDNA to reflect the cluster number as well as a surname and possible generation. The cluster numbers are only for reference and make it easier to sort them on the AncestryDNA page using the Chrome extension AncestryDNA Helper atDNA Helper or in Genome Mate Pro when sorting the MRCA (most recent common ancestors) notes. [Note: The name of the Chrome extension was changed in April 2019 after they were notified the name was a violation of Ancestry’s trademark name.]

Cluster 40 with 13 matches is labeled GROELINGER-MERGEN(6) as the MRCA have been identified as my 4th great-grandparents (6 generations back) Johann GROELINGER and Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN. Six of the 13 matches have been identified as descendants of this couple. I’ve sent messages and am waiting for replies.

Once the notes have been fixed on AncestryDNA, I move all matches for a cluster over to Genome Mate Pro (GMP) using another Chrome extension, Pedigree Thief (collects the match information, notes, and the shared matches). When the matches are in GMP, I begin adding the matches’ trees once again with the Pedigree Thief which reads the pedigree view of the tree and converts it to an Ahnentafel chart. GMP has a very steep learning curve and I’m still trying to assimilate and grasp the abilities of the program.

I’ve developed a routine and am slowly getting matches which have been associated with a cluster entered into GMP. Nearly half of the clusters, the smallest, have been added. The larger clusters remain to be done and I’ll be spacing them out a bit. And of course, as new matches are found on Gedmatch Genesis, FTDNA, and MyHeritage they are also added to Genome Mate Pro.

I still feel the pull of the rabbit hole but I won’t let it get in the way of my returning to a regular blogging schedule.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

33 thoughts on “Returning to Blogging in the New Year – Refreshed and Excited”

    1. Thank you and yes I guess you could call it the DNA matching hole.
      As for tips and pointers, the first thing you need is to do is bookmark the The Shared cM Project 3.0 tool v4
      Then depending on with which company you tested with, learn your way around their site and take advantage of the Notes feature if they have one. Making notes will save you a lot of time.
      Learn about DNA – you may not understand much the first time around but keep reading and asking questions. It’ll finally sink in.


  1. Welcome back to blogging. I look forward to your new discoveries and insights. Wow! You are certainly ahead of the curve with your DNA analysis and research. As always you are model for the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kendra. I’ve made mistakes while adding matches to GMP but I’ve learned some important things the program can do. I’ve been working with this one DNA test for two and a half years, stealing minutes from genealogy research and writing to analyze new matches. The entire time trying to learn more and use new tools. I’ve gotten more done in the last two months with the help of Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering utility than in the past two years of trying to work with the results.


  2. So good to see you back! I am on break til next week—til Tuesday. I wish I could do any of this with DNA on Ancestry. But I have too many matches, and 90% have no trees or maybe a tree with less than ten people. I once tried GMP and gave up in total exasperation. I applaud your persistence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to be back. I don’t have Too Many Matches but I have some which are really frustrating. I think Jonathan’s heatmap for those matches’ clusters will be a great help. But I want to work through the easier ones first. The persistence is more of a determination to prove I can do this. Thank you, Amy. I look forward to seeing your posts after your break.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Cathy. I think a determination to prove is just another way of describing persistence!! Good luck, and I look forward to following your journey.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. While you may not have been writing posts, you’ve made terrific progress on the DNA front. However, I’ve missed your posts, so welcome back to the blogging world.


  4. Congrats on being noticed by Blaine! That’s awesome! Given your Belgian/German ancestry, I’m guessing Dempsey is your husband’s name? If so, does he know anything about his line? (Dempsey is my maiden name; my Dempsey come from around Daingean, Co. Offaly, Ireland. Apparently, they detoured through upstate New York before ending up in San Francisco.) — Cathy
    P.S. thank you for following my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cathy! Dempsey is my maiden name and Meder is my husband’s surname. My maternal side is all Luxembourg. Getting back to the Dempseys, I have two lines. Both built their brick walls in Virginia in the late 1700s and I haven’t been able cross the pond back to Ireland for either. Thank for following me back!


  5. Good to see you back blogging. I have not had very good results with my DNA test. Have uploaded to Gedmatch and My Heritage. Have a lot of DNA relatives, however, most do not result in positive results.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By “do not result in positive results” do you mean they aren’t replying to your messages or are you only seeing more distant matches? It takes time but sooner or later people do get in touch. Good luck, Richard.


    1. Thank you, Evert-Jan. You may remember we talked shortly in early December when Genetic Affairs announced the AutoCluster tool. I was having problem with the range and you suggested I use a less wide range. I tried a cM thresholds of 250 cM and 50 cM and got the cluster report. I have not gone back in to widen the threshold as I wanted to finish up fixing the notes on AncestryDNA so that it would be easier to do the comparisons. Thank you for the link to the group. I will check it out and try to give you more feedback on the differences in the group. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog.


  6. So interesting to see more and more sophisticated quantitative and DNA approaches to genealogy – it is one of the main areas of life where complex statistical analysis is so visible to a wide audience, many of whom are receptive and want to know more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sheryl. I will have to remember Blogations for the next time I take a break. But since this was the first time I really stepped back in nearly five years of blogging, I’m hoping it’ll be a while before the next.


  7. Hi Cathy, I commented earlier on this post, but now I’m doing it as a brand-new member of the Geneabloggers tribe. Do you find Genome Mate Pro easy to use? I tried to use Genome Mate (regular) some years ago, but got too sidetracked by old habits (using Excel spreadsheets.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers Tribe, Cathy.
      I am not very good with Excel – the only reason being I don’t have an up-to-date version of the program. Mine is from 2003 and very limited considering the power we need today with csv files for DNA.
      Since I cannot work with the large files in Excel, Genome Mate Pro is the perfect answer, for me. I’ve been learning new things about it along the way. I find it important to be in the Facebook groups for the tools, i.e. Genome Mate Pro and Pedigree Thief, so that I can keep up with any problems etc. experienced by others. For your information release 2019r02 has been published to I just saw this but will wait a day or two before I switch over. Too many things waiting to be done.


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