Stats for the year 2021 show I haven’t been as productive as the pre-COVID years, 2019 and 2018, but staying on par with 2020 by writing 35 posts compared to 33 in 2020. Views were much lower at a bit over 34,000 compared to the past three years when they were 40,000+. The number of visitors in 2021 was lower but my followers grew to 577.
By the end of November, I finished writing about half of my maternal fifth great-grandparents. This avenue will not be followed up on any time soon. This was decided at the end of November when I wrote…
I took a break from writing in December hoping to come into the New Year with more energy and enthusiasm. Our lives, however, are often influenced by things we cannot control.
Mom’s husband died unexpectedly early in December. The month was spent helping her get through the first weeks of once again being on her own. I was suddenly made aware of the fact that I need to prepare for my own or my spouse’s death.
Focusing on the American families
Still, with all the behind-the-scenes goings-on in our lives, I hope to do more research and write blog posts on my paternal lines that have been in America for 250 years and longer.
There are no goals, no promises, or any kind of schedule for my blog posts in 2022. With less than usual time for genealogy, I’ve become more conscientious about keeping a log via entries in the Research Manager of Ancestral Quest and noting results that might make interesting reading on my blog.
Amy Johnson Crow started my blogging journey in 2014 with her very first edition of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. I did three years of #52Ancestors (not consecutively). Yesterday, just to get some fresh ideas, I signed up for the 2022 edition and was delighted to read that she is changing things up a bit this year. I may try her new spin on the challenge…
Wishing you beautiful moments, treasured memories, and all the happiness a heart can know. Happy New Year 2022!
I took a break from blogging to give myself time to work on a DNA problem. It was only supposed to be for a few weeks, a month tops. Except for my article on the flooding in our part of Europe, I haven’t posted any new content to my blog in two and a half months.
As many of my readers know, I’ve been doing genealogy for nearly three decades and blogging in my eighth year. Writing for my blog has taught me to be a better researcher and writer.
DNA is complicated
This may be one of the reasons people who have their DNA tested are more interested in their ethnicity than in looking into who they got their DNA from. Many are not into genealogy or have the time to spend hours analyzing match lists or creating quick bare-bones trees (also known as Q&D or quick-and-dirty trees) for matches. In writing this post, I hope to reach some of my many distant cousins who could help me with my search.
Understanding where the DNA comes from
I’ve been working with my brother’s autosomal DNA results for over five years, my own for nearly two years, and my mother’s for a year and a half. All three were done with AncestryDNA.
Mom’s test has helped sort the maternal matches but wasn’t really necessary. My brother and I have few matches who are descended from our maternal lines as our mother is Luxembourgish – with all known ancestors coming from Luxembourg or parts of France, Germany, and Belgium that were once part of a greater Luxembourg. Close cousins (4th cousins or closer) on AncestryDNA total 375 compared to the circa 3,000 that my brother and I have. Many of the 275 are descendants of Luxembourg emigrants who settled in America. Our mother is their link back to Luxembourg and helps anchor their DNA.
My brother’s and my autosomal DNA results have confirmed the paper trail we have for our known paternal ancestors for at least six generations. For some branches in the tree, we have confirmation for nine generations or more.
Color groups on AncestryDNA
To better understand where the DNA comes from, I worked out a color/group system on AncestryDNA that goes back to the 6th generation ancestors (my paternal 4th great-grandparents). This helps to sort new matches.
As the parents of my 2nd great-grandfather, William A. W. DEMPSEY are unknown, the first group is for the 4th generation ancestors. This allowed me to split the HONAKER-WISEMAN matches into two sub-groups: HONEGGER-GOETZ (as HONAKER was previously written) and WISEMAN-DAVIS of the 7th generation. As can be seen by the numbers in parenthesis, these are large clusters of matches.
The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels (tress) of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. The tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions with all information in one place.
Mapping DNA segments is something I haven’t written about.
GDAT automatically maps DNA segments when the MRCA (parental/maternal side and group name) is identified. GDAT chooses the color for the segment but allows the user to change it using a color picker.
The DNA segment map shows the paternal (top) and maternal (bottom) sides of each chromosome. In the examples, the maternal side is mostly dark gray as we share WILDINGER-FOURNELLE (our grandparents/Mom’s parents) with our mother.
Although many of the maternal matches on AncestryDNA have been identified, very few segments can be added to the map as chromosome information is not available on Ancestry. Those seen are from FTDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDmatch.
This post is about my paternal matches and therefore only the top bar of each chromosome is of interest.
Comparing sibling DNA
The color groups on AncestryDNA as well as those in the family tree are used to map the DNA segments. For the example, below, the green, pink, and yellow groups have only two shades. I’ve kept these groups simple to show that siblings don’t share all of the same DNA. They share about 50% of the same DNA. Less color makes it easier to see the four groups of the grandparents.
My paternal grandfather’s paternal ancestry, the blue groups, include purple for first cousins who share all four color groups and red to highlight our DEMPSEY brick wall. A darker blue is used for second cousins and lighter blues for more distant cousins.
The maps show all segment matches that have been assigned a most recent common ancestor (MRCA).
On chromosome 1, my DNA segments are from my father’s paternal side: PGF (blue and red) and PGM (green). My brother received mostly DNA from our father’s maternal side: MGF (pink) and MGM (green). On chromosomes 5, 10, 17, and 19 we share more DNA from the same groups. Still, there are gaps – chromosomes segments that have not been identified (light gray, see chromosomes 6, 7, and 9). These are segments that could lead to several of the brick walls in our tree including the ancestry of William A. W. DEMPSEY.
The segment map in GDAT can be filtered by generation making it easy to see where segments are coming from.
Generation 2 (1st cousins)
Purple segments are 1st cousins who share our paternal grandparents, Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP – the generation 2 ancestors. These include 1st cousins once removed (1C1R), matches from the younger generation. Seven of the 24 grandchildren of Fred and Myrtle are represented in this map. More would be ideal but I am happy to work with what I have.
Generation 3 (2nd cousins)
The dark blue and pink segments cover the purple segments as they represent one generation further back.
Adding another generation to the map further breaks down the larger segments shared with 1st and 2nd cousins and adds identification to some blank segments.
In the example for the 4th generation, the middle section of chromosome 1 now shows red where previously no color was seen. These are 3rd cousins who share the DEMPSEY-WOOD ancestors. This red section is not visible in the map showing all generations (see the first segment map earlier in this post) as it is a segment shared with matches who have more distant ancestors in common – ancestors of Sarah Ann WOOD, the wife of William A. W. DEMPSEY.
On this breakdown of the segments on Chr. 1, the red segment identified as generation 4 is also shared by matches who have HONAKER-GOETZ of generation 7 as MRCA. I received this DNA from Frederick HONAKER, father of Rachel HONAKER who married Elijah WOOD. This segment cannot be used to find more distant ancestors of my brick wall William A. W. DEMPSEY as the DNA is from his wife Sarah Ann WOOD, daughter of Rachel and Elijah.
Focusing on my father’s paternal grandfather’s side using the blue groups
What have I been doing these past two-plus months? I’ve been populating my DNA database with matches, trees, and notes. I’ve been focusing on my father’s paternal grandfather’s side using the blue groups. More specifically, I’ve been concentrating on the matches that, I hope, will lead to the parents of my 2nd great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY (1820-1867) of Rockbridge County, Virginia, and Fayette County, West Virginia (then part of old Virginia).
The amount of DNA we receive from a particular ancestor decreases with each generation. There is a chance that very little or no DNA was inherited from a specific ancestor. An ancestor did not pass on the same DNA to each of his children. Those children, with their different combinations of their parent’s DNA, passed on different combinations to each of their children. The more descendants tested, the more DNA can be matched to the ancestor.
I need more RED! I need 3rd cousins who descend from William A. W. DEMPSEY to transfer their raw data from AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDmatch so that I can analyze the DNA using a chromosome browser.
By paying close attention to the MRCAs and the segments shared with cousins, I’ve been able to eliminate those who are related to me through Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestors. Those are the lighter blue segments that overlap the red segments.
Sarah’s ancestors came from lines where many descendants have tested. The Wood, McGraw, Honaker, and Wiseman families were large and intermarried. All four lived in Monroe County, West Virginia (then still part of Virginia) at the time it was created from Greenbrier County in 1799.
While I have large clusters of matches for these four families, the mysterious clusters that are associated with William A. W. DEMPSEY are confusing. I hope that some of his descendants may share one or the other of the light gray segments (non-assigned DNA). This would help to identify the area that I need to research to open the door to this brick wall.
Light gray segments (non-assigned DNA)
The gaps on the chromosome map have plenty of matches but the common ancestors in my tree haven’t been identified.
Some of the matches have ancestors in common with each other but these aren’t names found in my tree.
Many matches have small or no trees to work with.
I need confirmed cousins on the segment to help figure out where the mystery ancestors may fit in my family tree.
I’ve identified 87 3rd cousin matches descended from William A. W. DEMPSEY through my great-grand aunts and great-grand uncles. Of these 87, only 17 have their tests on sites with a chromosome browser. Do any of the others share non-assigned DNA segments with my brother or me?
What further complicates my William A. W. DEMPSEY brick wall is the fact that his descendants have more than one connection to me due to marriages of grandchildren and great-grandchildren to spouses who descend from other common ancestors, i.e. Wood, McGraw, Honaker, Wiseman, Sims, Johnson, Kincaid, Ingram, and my other Dempsey line.
Why not try Y-DNA?
My connection to William A. W. DEMPSEY is through my father (Fred), his father (Fred), his father’s father (William H.), his father’s father’s father (William A.W.). This would make the males in our family good candidates for Y-DNA testing. I have a paternal uncle, three brothers, and nine male first cousins who are descendants of William A. W. DEMPSEY. My grandfather Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY had six brothers; his father William Henderson DEMPSEY had three brothers.
I don’t feel comfortable asking relatives to do DNA tests, either autosomal or Y-DNA. I don’t have the time or want to put the effort into a Y-DNA project. However, if a direct-male descendant of William A. W. DEMPSEY has done the Y-DNA test or is planning on taking it, I would be happy to work with them on the genealogy side. I have a feeling the Y-DNA surname is not going to be DEMPSEY. Maybe someone can prove me wrong!
Why I wrote this post
When I write my ancestors’ stories, weaving the facts into the story and checking off the sources used, I usually find unanswered questions. Writing actually helps me think through things. So this post was primarily for me, to see if I am on the right track with the system and procedure I use for analyzing the DNA. If I can explain it and it makes sense (to me), I hope it also makes sense to my readers.
I know this is beyond beginner DNA. This might give you an idea of how, maybe a bit further down the road, you can work with your results. You might also be more advanced and able to give me some feedback on how you would treat a similar brick wall. Comments are always appreciated.
Lastly, I’d like to thank the cousins who’ve given me guest access to their DNA. I hope this will help them see how very helpful their data has been to me.
Mollie’s father was Wesley G. DEMPSTER, a man who appeared in Scott County, Virginia, shortly before the 1880 census. He likely died between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887. A death record was not found.
Mollie married at the age of 16 and had a family of nine children born between 1898 and 1917. Six of these children have descendants who’ve had their DNA tested. Descendants of the other three may have tested. They haven’t been found on the match lists of the tests I have access to.
Can DNA unravel the mystery of George W. Dempsey’s disappearance?
It’s complicated! I’ve been learning about DNA since the end of May 2016 when my brother turned his AncestryDNA test over to me. It has been a slow, uphill climb learning to work with the DNA results. I know this post may be hard to follow, I hope I haven’t made it too complicated. I’m assuming my readers have a basic understanding of autosomal DNA.
This is an example of one of my notes on Ancestry for a match: [C8] 1C (Lois) Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP.
In brackets is the cluster number (from the first time I clustered my matches) followed by the level of cousinship. In parenthesis is the name of the child of the most recent common ancestors (MRCA) that the match descends from followed by the MRCA.
My private but searchable family tree is attached to the DNA tests I manage. Confirmed matches are connected in this tree. The tree is also used to work out unknown matches.
As I have few maternal matches and my mother has tested, all maternal matches are starred. This allows me to use all 24 colors for custom groups for my paternal matches. I created custom groups for each of my paternal 4th great-grandparent couples. The four blue colors were used a bit differently than the green, pink, and yellow as there is a brick wall at the 3rd great-grandparent level for my William A. W. DEMPSEY. He is not from the same line as Seaton Y. DEMPSEY.
Ancestral Quest’s Color Coding feature made it easy to work out the custom color groups on Ancestry.
Paternal first cousins share the DEMPSEY-ROOP couple with me and are given each of the 16 custom groups (4 shades of the 4 colors). Second cousins who share DEMPSEY-INGRAM receive 8 custom groups (4 shades of blue and of green). Third cousins who share INGRAM-DEMPSEY receive 4 custom groups (4 shades of green). This is one way to visually cluster matches.
Note: The same system can be used for both maternal and paternal matches. In this case, the 5th generation (3rd great-grandparents) is used instead of the 6th generation (4th great-grandparents) as seen in my example.
This is my top match in the group of matches who descend from Mollie on Ancestry. The top shared matches (ICW = in common with) with Match 1 are two of my first cousins with whom I share grandparents Fred R. DEMPSEY and Myrtle H. ROOP. The next two ICW matches are both 1C1R but not from the same generation. This is confirmed by the colored groups. The match with only blue and green is a 1C1R through my paternal grandfather’s parents.
I have guest or collaborator access to a few of my DEMPSEY cousins’ AncestryDNA. They have given me permission to use their tests as examples along with their first names or initials. In the image above, the two cousins with trees are the 1C1R (E.D.) and 1C (Laura) in the table below.
DNA matches descending from 6 of Mollie’s 9 children were found to match 6 tests I have access to. E.D. (1C1R) is my father’s paternal first cousin. She is a generation closer to Seaton and Clementine than myself, my brother, my first cousin Danny, and my second cousins, Laura and Sheila. The second cousins are E.D.’s nieces through two of her siblings. If they had been her children I would not have used them as they would carry the same DNA and would only duplicate the results. All of the cousins have their DNA uploaded to Gedmatch or MyHeritage except for Sheila.
Shared Clustering Tool
My brother’s and my AncestryDNA tests were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool. Clustering has given me a relatively good idea of where in the family tree a match or group of matches fit in.
Jonathan’s method uses all matches and shared matches (ICW) down to 6-8 cMs on Ancestry to form clusters that point to a shared ancestor. A cluster represents a DNA segment shared by the clustered matches. Even though Ancestry does not offer a chromosome browser, the segments can be ascertained (guessed) by comparing to matches who’ve transferred their AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or Gedmatch.
The data needed for clustering was downloaded from Ancestry using the Shared Clustering Tool. I’ve been manually adding new matches since Jonathan disabled downloading of data from Ancestry in May 2020. Soon after this, Ancestry sent cease and desist orders to many third-party tools.
Early this month, I subscribed to DNAGedcom for $5/month to get an up-to-date list of matches and of ICW matches from Ancestry using the DNAGedcom Client. The ICW match list can be used to generate clusters using the Shared Clustering Tool.
The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import all DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. With all information in one place, the tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions.
The Barron-Dempster matches who descend from Mollie were found to be in clusters [C54], [C29], [C30], and [C8]. All notes on Ancestry have been imported into GDAT. Since my notes begin with the cluster number, I can sort matches to view a list of only the relatives (matches) in a particular cluster.
Cluster [C54] is large with over 400 matches ranging from 229 cMs down to 7 cMs. The identified relatives have the following MRCA: Dempsey-Ingram, Dempsey-Gowing, Going-Potter, and Crisp-Lucy. These are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of Mary M. DEMPSEY, daughter of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING. The cluster appears to be pointing to the GOWING branch but the many matches that are still unknown will help to “walk the segment back” to the shared distant ancestor.
Of these over 400 matches, nine were found on sites with chromosome browsers. None of these have a confirmed MRCA but they share DNA on the same segment (different lengths) on chromosome 9. This segment is also shared with E.D., Danny, and Laura seen in the DNA comparison table (above, in the Ancestry section). The red segments (below) are Danny, his sister, and my Dad’s Lazarus kit. They share my paternal grandfather (PGF) and paternal grandmother’s (PGM) lines, i.e. DEMPSEY-ROOP. The blue segments are people who share only my PGM’s line, i.e. DEMPSEY-INGRAM, and include Laura and E.D.
Using the same process as above, I found:
[C29] includes about 200 matches. Only two in the cluster have chromosome data and share a segment on Chr. 6. An MRCA has not been found for either. The segment triangulates with a known 4C1R (George W.) Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING as well as E.D. Danny did not receive this segment but his sister (who did not test with Ancestry) is one of the matches who triangulate with the [C29] matches.
[C30] has about 100 matches. MRCAs in the cluster include Ingram-Dempsey(1), Dempsey-Gowing(20), Gowing-Crisp(3), Going-Potter(1), and Crisp-Lucy(4). The cluster is associated with a segment on Chr. 2 shared with E.D., Danny’s sister, and Laura.
[C8] has about 120 matches. This is E.D., Danny, and Laura’s cluster. They correlate with many other clusters but this is their main cluster. MRCAs in the cluster include Dempsey-Wood, Wood-Honaker, Wood-McGraw which suggest the cluster is coming from the PGF (blue) side. The two Barron-Dempster matches (Match 2 and 5, father and daughter) associated with this cluster share at two segments with several of us. One of these segments may have a distant connection to the blue side.
My brother received very little DNA shared with the Barron-Dempster matches – only a 12 cMs segment with Match 1 and 9 cMs of the same segment with Match 1a (child of 1).
Clusters fluctuate as new matches are added. Since my test was clustered in September 2019 many new matches have been added. I ran a new cluster report this week including all new matches and ICW matches since 2019 with 20 cMs or greater. In most cases, the matches in the original clusters have remained the same, i.e. are still clustering with the same matches. The new heatmap shows the two [C8] matches are now clustering with a [C29] and a [C30] match, on the edge of the larger [C29] cluster and correlating with a cluster made up of [C54] matches.
To give a clearer picture of the clusters, here is a screenshot of my E.D.’s heatmap. It was generated using the data of her top 333 matches with 50 cMs or higher. All of the Barron-Dempster matches (highlighted in green) over 50 cMs are found in this heatmap of clusters 4 through 8.
Clusters 4 & 5 have descendants of Mary M. DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
Cluster 6 has descendants of William S., George W., Martha Ann, and Julia DEMPSEY, all children of Seaton
Cluster 7 has a descendant of Geneva DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
Cluster 8 has only Barron-Dempster descendants
The Barron-Dempster matches correlate only with clusters 4 through 8. They don’t correlate with clusters 1-3 or 9-33 (not seen in this close-up of the heatmap). The correlation can be seen by the red outside of the cluster boxes.
Of the 35 matches shown above, 6 are mystery matches, 8 are Barron-Dempster matches, and the rest are descendants of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING through six of their eight children. The two missing children are sons who served in the Civil War, died during or soon after the war, never married, and had no known descendants. The mystery matches, like the Barron-Dempster matches, correlate only with clusters 4 through 8 and are likely descendants of Seaton and Clementine through one of their children.
What Are the Odds?
I used the What Are the Odds? tool on DNA Painter to chart Mollie’s family tree down to her descendants who are matches. This is not the real purpose of the tool.
The matches, descendants of Mollie, are shaded green. I used my E.D.’s shared cMs amounts for all matches. The numbers in parenthesis are the range of cMs shared between the match and the other tests I have access to. The bottom row represents the line that I share with my cousins and is used for comparison: my great-great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM, my grandfather Fred R. DEMPSEY and his brother Earl S. DEMPSEY, my father’s generation represented by E.D. (1C1R), and my generation (with my cousins and brother).
The WATO tool is used to check the probability that the amount of cM shared corresponds to the relationship in the tree. As I had already used it to chart the tree of the Barron-Dempster matches, I tried doing the reverse of what is intended with the tool. I used it to determine if the amount of cM shared by E.D. with the matches would place her in the correct position in our family tree.
Hypothesis 2: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 1 and grandchild of Laura Belle INGRAM scored 9 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis
This is the most likely hypothesis.)
Hypothesis 3: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 2 and grandchild of Hypothesis 1 scored 3 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis)
Hypothesis 1: E.D. is the child of Laura Belle INGRAM and grandchild of Mary M. DEMPSEY scored 1 (Possible but not significantly more likely than the other hypotheses.)
Hypothesis 2 with a score of 9 is the most likely and puts E.D. in the right place in our family tree and shows that it is possible that Mollie was the grandchild of Seaton and Clementine.
How does Mollie fit into my family tree?
Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing along with traditional genealogy. Using all of the tools mentioned above as well as genealogy research, I have come to a conclusion on how Mollie fits into my family tree.
The cluster heatmap above shows the Barron-Dempster matches are relatives of my 1C1R E.D. and share the same ancestry as the DEMPSEY-GOWING matches. The same is true for the other tests I used in this example: my brother, Danny, Laura, Sheila, and myself. The WATO tool also backs up this assumption.
If the matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER fit into the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, could Wesley G. DEMPSTER be an alias for a son or nephew of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING?
I don’t think the relationship was a nephew as:
Seaton’s brother Wilson M. DEMPSEY was found in the 1840 census with two persons in his household: himself and his wife. No children from the marriage that took place in 1839 and no children born before this marriage.
Seaton’s brother Isham Coleman DEMPSEY married in 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and removed to Ross County, Ohio, by 1830. He emigrated from Ohio to Missouri in 1854.
Seaton’s brother Wesley G. DEMPSEY was likely with Seaton in 1830, wasn’t found in 1840, was single in 1850, married in 1856, and died in 1890. “W. G. Dempsey left surviving him no children nor the descendants of a child, no father, no mother, no brother, no sister” per a chancery case.
Seaton’s sisters Louisa J. (md. 1840) and Eliza (md. 1843) were 18 or younger and it is not likely that one of them was the mother.
As the clusters are pointing to the GOWING-CRISP branch of the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, the matches are likely related through the GOWING side, i.e. other possibilities are the two sisters of Clementine GOWING.
Clementine’s sister Emmeline GOWING married William Dison LAWHORNE in 1828 and in 1840 the only male child in their household has been identified and cannot be Wesley.
Clementine’s sister Martha C. “Martissa” GOWING married Wyatt F. LILLY in 1833 and in 1840 the three male children have been identified and none can be Wesley.
I believe from about 1880 George W. DEMPSEY, the only living son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, used the alias Wesley G. DEMPSTER, and was the father of Mollie.
Consequently, Mollie Lee DEMPSTER would have been a half-sibling to George’s three children. Her descendants would share on average the same amount of DNA as the descendants of all of Seaton and Clementine’s other children. The amount shared with any of George’s descendants would not be greater as the common ancestral couple would be Seaton and Clementine. Early on in my analysis, I had not considered this and thought George’s descendants should have higher amounts of DNA which is not the case.
What else can I do to solve this mystery?
I haven’t exhausted the DNA tools to prove the possibility of Wesley G. DEMPSTER’s being the same person as George W. DEMPSEY. I’m just at a standstill as none of the Barron-Dempster matches are on any of the sites with chromosome browsers. Being able to compare the DNA segments would help to confirm I am on the right track or not.
I’ve sent messages to all of the matches. First, a short teaser asking if they were interested in figuring out who Mollie’s father was. Then messages to the same persons with the link to my second post in this series. I even mentioned the offer to upload their raw DNA file to MyHeritage and get FREE access to all DNA features. I’ve received no replies to date and none of the tests are showing up on MyHeritage. I’d hoped my messages were read even though no replies have been received.
I was only given access to E.D.’s AncestryDNA test last week. Maybe once I begin working more with her match list I will begin to make connections with people who are interested in solving the mystery.
Have I completely confused you? Have I piqued your interest in some of the tools I’m using for DNA analysis? Do you have a similar DNA mystery you are trying to solve?
I have a theory I’m working on. It might not be very smart of me to share it here, but I see no other way to get others involved in helping me solve this mystery.
I know what happens when the wrong information is posted on the internet. People believe it, re-post it, and, suddenly, it becomes an accepted but unproven fact. The ancestor or relative’s story is changed as people go click-happy accepting hints.
In this first of two parts, a bit of background information will be shared on the person of interest.
Who was George W. Dempsey (b. abt. 1831)?
George W. DEMPSEY was the oldest child of my 3rd great-grandparents Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING who married 3 January 1829 in Amherst County, Virginia.1 Seaton, per the census, was the head of a household in 1830 with a young man, likely his younger brother Wesley, and a young woman, his wife Clementine.2 The young married couple didn’t yet have children. By 1840 they had three children including George who was less than 10 years old and over five.3 In 1850 George was still living at home and 19 years old.4 No birth records were found for Amherst County at this time and George’s birth has been estimated at about 1831.
On 20 December 1852, George married Rhoda A. STATON in Amherst County.5 Less than a year later, on 19 November 1853, their son Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY was born.6 Sometime after Andrew’s birth, Seaton Y. DEMPSEY’s family moved to the Fayetteville Township area of Fayette County, (West) Virginia. George and Rhoda were in his father’s household in 1860 with their son “Ceton A.” listed as age 5.7 If other children had been born to the couple before 1860, they did not survive. George’s oldest sister Geneva Elizabeth DEMPSEY remained in Amherst County and his brother William S. DEMPSEY, the second oldest son, had married and remained in Rockbridge County.
On 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. George, age 31 years, was described as 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers). He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest.8
A year later George and Rhoda’s son Robert L. DEMPSEY was born in March 1863.9 Four years later, George and Rhoda had a daughter on 11 May 1867 in Fayetteville Township.10 She was named Polina E. and would go by Bettie and Lina in later years. In 1870 the little family was found in the census in Fayetteville Township: George A. (sic), Rhoda, Andrew S., Robert L., and Pertina E.11
On 29 December 1874, Andrew S. DEMPSEY, son of Geo. W. and R. A. DEMPSEY, married in Fayetteville. The marriage register entry does not indicate if the parents were living or deceased.12
There is the possibility that George was the man mentioned in a document dated 8 March 1876 when a contract with one Geo. W. DEMPSEY for road work on Arbuckle road in Fayette County was annulled.
I’ve researched all three DEMPSEY lines who lived in Fayette County at this time. There was a younger George Washington DEMPSEY, son of John W. DEMPSEY and Amelia RIDDLE, born in December 1851 who would have also been old enough to be the man mentioned in the record above. I cannot at this time say if this contract was for George b. 1831 or George b. 1851. I had planned on sharing the images and transcription of the document but decided against it. Anyone interested in the document can view it at the link in the citation.13
George W. DEMPSEY and his wife were not found in the 1880 census. Therefore, there is a decade from 1870 to 1880 in which their whereabouts are unknown.
The death of George W. DEMPSEY
George W. DEMPSEY did not die on 16 November 1879 and he was not buried in Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, in grave number 5369.
The man buried in Hampton National Cemetery served as a volunteer in Company K of Regiment 8 of New Jersey.14, 15 He was a 70 years old widower and had been a resident of the National Soldiers Home for 5 years16. He was born about 1809 and over 20 years older than George W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County. Records found for this man’s death have been erroneously attached to George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. and Clementine.
I learned the date of death was wrong, i.e. not for George W. DEMPSEY of Virginia, by viewing the documents. This is why we should always view the available images and not rely on the index. If only an index is offered, it is wise to review the source information to learn if the records are available in image form on the same site or on another.
With the confusion concerning George’s death in 1879 out of the way, what happened to him? Where was he in 1880?
The Children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON from 1880 until…
In 1880, two of the three known children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON were found in the census. They lived about 165 miles apart. That may not seem like much in our days but in 1880 this was not a quick drive on the interstate.
Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY (1853-1924) was 27 years old, married with two children, and living in Fayetteville17 where the family had been since coming from Amherst County around 1855.18
Andrew would remain in Fayetteville and raise a family of nine children. No death record has been found but his tombstone in Huse Memorial Park indicates he died in 1924.
The whereabouts of Robert L. DEMPSEY (1863-aft. 1930) in 1880 is unknown. Robert married Mary Frances DARR in Kanawha County in 1892. None of the records found name his parents and a record of death is missing. Robert and his wife gave their children unusual middle names which strongly support his being George’s son. His oldest son was named Paul Seaton, his youngest son Edgar Younger (the assumed middle name of his great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY), and his son Robert Darr was given his mother’s maiden name.
Polina Elizabeth DEMPSEY (1867-1941) was 13 years old in 1880, a servant living in Pedlar District of Amherst County with a MASON household.19
Bettie, as she was more often known, lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia, from at least 1884 when her first daughter was born in Cornwall.20 Bettie had eight children before marrying William W. SORRELS in 1916. Her 1941 death certificate gives her mother’s name as Rhoda STATON and her father’s name as not known.21
What Happened to George W. DEMPSEY?
With two of the three children of George and Rhoda accounted for in the 1880 census, several questions remain. Where were George, Rhoda, and Robert in 1880? Why was their 13-year-old daughter found in Amherst? Were both George and Rhoda still living, only one of them living, or neither?
Assuming George W. DEMPSEY was living in 1880, where might he have gone? Could he have started a new family? Have descendants of his known and maybe unknown children had their DNA tested?
The second part of this post will be published in two weeks’ time as next Sunday’s post will be My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2021.
Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 589 of 786, Date: 1829 Jan 3; Name of husband: Dempsey, Seaton Y.; Name of wife: Gowing, Clementina; Security and witnesses: Landon S. Gowing, Philip Smith Sr., Ro. Tinsley. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-N8WJ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Roll: 194; History Library Film: 0029673, Virginia, Amherst, page 519, line 1, Seaton Y. Dempsey household. The official enumeration day of the 1830 census was 1 June 1830. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 214, line 28, Seaton Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1840 census was 1 June 1840. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 933, Virginia, Amherst County, Eastern District, page: 76a (stamped), lines 1-9, HH #40-40, Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 13 February 2013). ↩
Audrey Blankenship Gill, photographer, photo of a grave marker in Huse Memorial Park, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, taken on 3 April 2007. Inscription: Dempsey, Andrew Seaton Nov. 19, 1853-Mar. 12, 1928 and Dempsey, Caroline Burgess June 12, 1852-May 10, 1933. ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653, Family History Library Film: 805344, West Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page No. 142, lines 28-37, HH #1352-687 and #1353-688, Dempsey households. The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
Month and year of birth from the 1900 census. I have not found records supporting his middle name being Luther as seen on many family trees. A son’s delayed birth certificate and a daughter’s obituary name the father as Robert Lee DEMPSEY. ↩
1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1686, Family History Library Film: 553185, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, page 113A, line 40, and page 113B, lines 1-4, HH #9-9, Dempsey George A (sic). The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970 (database index, FamilySearch, database images <I>West Virginia Division of Culture and History</I>), 29 Dec 1874, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, Andrew S. Dempsey, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, s/o Geo W. and R. A. Dempsey, Caroline Burgess, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, d/o Andrew and ~ Burgess. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12086567&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). ↩
Loose papers, ca. 1787-1875 (1901), (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the West Virginia University Library in Morgantown, West Virginia. Contains original deeds, guardianship, wills, road records, and other types of documents that were recorded before the courts. DGS 7616766, Film 186347, Loose papers (boxes 1-2), env. ?-1 to ?-3 (no dates), env. 1787-1, 1824-1, 1841-1, 1851-1 to 1869-3, image 498 (lower right) and 499 (upper right) of 584. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9VT-QCR9?cat=302047 : accessed 5 February 2021). ↩
1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1402, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 27, page 31B, lines 17-20, HH #339, Andrew S Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
Seaton’s youngest child was born in Amherst in 1853. His brother Wilson was in Fayette County for the birth of a slave named Orange on 11 June 1855. Wilson’s residence at the time was listed as Amherst. He may have set up temporary housekeeping in Fayette with Mary, the mother of Orange, and preparing for the permanent move from Amherst to Fayette with his second wife and children from both marriages. ↩
1880 Census, Roll: 1353; Virginia, Amherst County, Pedlar, Enumeration District 20, page 238D, line 22, HH #27-27, Marvel Mason. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
“Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, State file no. 23586, Registration area no. 815B, Registered no. 9. Nanny Dempsey, female, white, age 64, born 10 May 1884, died 20 Oct 1948 in Vesuvius, Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 3 Nov 1948, mother Betty Dempsey. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2016). ↩
Ibid., State file no. 25092, Registration area no. 815A, Registered no. 9. Betty P Dempsey Sorrels, female, white, age 71, born 11 May 1870, died 8 Sep 1941 in Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 9 Nov 1941, mother Rhoda Staton, spouse W W Sorrels. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2016). ↩
This is an updated version of a post I published in March 2018. The original post had been updated several times during the past two years. To avoid confusion I have added new images, as well as some steps, to reflect changes on the GEDmatch and Ancestry websites since the article was first written.
Making the first contact with a DNA match has us running the gamut of emotions from excitement at finding the match to the disappointment of there being no tree. From the joy of hearing back to the exasperation of never receiving a reply. From the frustrations of trying to explain your need to use a chromosome browser to evaluate the match to the delight of making contact with cousins who are ready to work with you.
I’ve tried different approaches in writing messages to DNA matches on Ancestry. Keeping them short, giving more or less information, asking right out to upload to GEDmatch, sending my email in the subject line, including links to articles on my blog about shared ancestors, etc. The number of persons who reply is very low.
So I’ve decided to use my blog to write to my cousins. I’ll continue to write short messages and include a link to this post. The instructions are up to date – I tried them out while writing. If anything changes, I can fix them and won’t have to copy/paste and re-write instructions I have been sending in messages or emails.
We have a DNA match, now what? Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and getting back to me. AncestryDNA does not offer a chromosome browser. I find the best solution to be GEDmatch.
GEDmatch provides applications for comparing your DNA test results with other people. There are also applications for estimating your ancestry. Some applications are free. More advanced applications require membership in the GEDmatch Tier1 program at $10 per month.
Some premium tools require payment but the chromosome browsers we are lacking on AncestryDNA are free on GEDmatch. Registration requires your name, email, and a password of your choice.
Would you please consider transferring your raw DNA to GEDmatch? Here are the latest instructions: [If you already have your GEDmatch kit number, scroll down to Thank you to continue reading.]
Fill out the form per instructions and click on Register.
Download the raw DNA file
The next step would be to download your raw DNA from Ancestry. If you haven’t done this before:
On your AncestryDNA page in the upper right-hand corner click on Settings. Scroll to the bottom of the page, under Test Management > Actions > Click to open Download RAW DNA Data section.
You will be prompted to enter your Ancestry password and check the box showing you understand Ancestry is not responsible for the file they are sending you. Click Confirm.
As soon as you click Confirm a window will open advising you that they are sending an email to proceed with the download. It may take several minutes for the email to come in.
The email has a Confirm Data Download button. Be sure to make a note of where you save the file on your computer. The request expires after 7 days or after the first use.
Upload raw DNA file
Login to GEDmatch. Click on Generic Uploads (23andme, FTDNA, AncestryDNA, most others) on the right side under Upload your DNA files. Fill out the form and upload the file without unzipping it.
(If you are a Mac user the file may have been unzipped during download. As a Mac user, you are likely aware of this and know the procedure to get it zipped. The zipped file may be in the Trash.)
It doesn’t take long to upload the file but the processing on-site may take a day or two. This means you will NOT be able to use all features right away. A One-to-One Autosomal DNA Comparison will work before processing is finished. To try this one out, compare your kit to one I manage: (see the kit number in my message to you). Please email your number to me as I won’t see you’ve been added until it’s completely processed. If our match is lower than my top 3000 matches it will not show up on my list but I can still do comparisons with your kit number.
What else can you do?
While you are waiting for your kit to complete all processing and have good status (GEDmatch lingo) consider exporting a GEDCOM from your genealogy software and uploading it to GEDmatch. Using genealogy software allows you to export as many or as few individuals in your tree as you need.
If you have a tree on Ancestry you can export your family tree data, as a GEDCOM file, to your computer via Trees > Create & Manage Trees > Manage Tree > right side > Export Tree.
When you click on either of the versions to upload a GEDCOM file to GEDmatch you will find some suggestions about the file. The most important thing to know is that the GEDCOM will be public and viewable to all persons who have access to the GEDmatch site. For this reason, it is recommended that you privatize living individuals before uploading.
You’ve uploaded the raw DNA and your GEDCOM file (optional, but so very valuable to your matches) to GEDmatch. On the homepage, there are some things which will be useful to you.
User Lookup: This lets you check by kit number, GEDCOM number, or email address to get more information on a person using GEDmatch.
GEDCOM + DNA Matches: This will generate a list of all persons who match you (or whoever’s kit # you search) and who have a GEDCOM file attached to their kit. This is practical as you won’t have to use the User Lookup to check each kit to see if they have a GEDCOM file. THE closest DNA matches are at the top of the list.
One-To-Many DNA Comparison Result: as soon as your kit is processed you will be able to check all matches to your kit. It will generate a list limited to the first 3000 matches with the closest matches at the top. In the first column kit numbers highlighted in different shades of green indicate new matches with dark green being the newest. As time goes by the color gets lighter and finally turns white.
People who match both, or 1 of 2 kits: When you check your kit and another kit with this tool it will generate three lists: a list of all matches shared by both at the top, a list of all kits who match the first and not the second, and a list of all kits who match the second and not the first.
This is not a complete list of what you can do on GEDmatch but the most useful in the beginning. When you are just starting out, DNA is a complicated subject. Take it slowly and one day, after you have read something for the 3rd, 5th, 10th time it will sink in and seem EASIER.
Thank you, cousin, for taking the time to read this. If you already have your AncestryDNA on GEDmatch, please send me your kit number. Usernames on Ancestry do not always match up with the name or alias used on GEDmatch.
If you decide to upload your raw DNA to GEDmatch, I will do a One-to-One Autosomal DNA Comparison between our two kits as soon as I know your kit number. Then I’ll add the chromosome information to Genome Mate Pro (GMP), the program I use to keep track of all matches and to map chromosomes. I can then assign the segment(s) we share to the Most Recent Common Ancestor(s) (MRCA) and Voilà!
I will have our shared segment(s) in living color on my chromosome map and can use them to assist with other matches on the same segment. In turn, if we don’t know who our MRCA is, knowing the MRCA of other matches on the same segment will aid in the analysis.
There are also other possibilities: FTDNA and MyHeritage will accept uploads of raw DNA from AncestryDNA and both have chromosome browsers. It would be appreciated if you choose to upload your raw DNA to any of these sites. But, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, I will understand. We can continue working together, using the tools available on AncestryDNA (Shared Matches, ThruLines, Common Ancestors, and Trees).
If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me and I will do my best to help.
I’ve been flying with WordPress for six years! Hundreds of thousands of words have been written, deleted, and rearranged into, hopefully, interesting articles. It’s been an amazing journey – this blogging thing.
I wrote about all of my children’s ancestors from their grandparents to their 5th great-grandparents. I began working on the 6th great-grandparents last April. Now I’m picking an ancestral couple on a whim and without a strict schedule. It’ll probably take several years to get this generation done.
Visitors to my blog have been more interested in content that was non-related to The Ancestors.
It’s understandable that DNA posts draw more readers. My ancestors aren’t shared with everyone while DNA is of interest to people using this genetic genealogy tool to prove their ancestry. I might do a few DNA related posts this year but genealogy research and writing about The Ancestors will remain the top priority on this blog.
This is post #609. Over 115,000 visitors have dropped in and viewed my posts nearly 212,000 times during these six years.
Happy 6th Blogiversary to Opening Doors in Brick Walls. Thanks to all of you for making this such an enjoyable journey.
His test results have confirmed most of our known paternal lines back to the 4th and 5th great-grandparents. However, to date, I haven’t been able to open the door in My Most Frustrating Brick Wall, William A. W. DEMPSEY, our 2nd great-grandfather. My brother has matches with descendants of six of his seven children. We need their help to find the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.
I’ve Finally Had my DNA Tested
First of all, I want to thank my brother for sending me an AncestryDNA test.
I received it on August 21. I did the test, activated it, and sent it off the following day. I was a bit worried it had gotten lost until the notification arrived that the sample was received on September 10. Apparently, the time between mailing off and their acknowledging receipt can take up to five weeks. The sample was processed and DNA extracted on the 17th and analyzed on the 21st. The results were in the following day. This part took less time than I anticipated.
My DNA Results are Ready
I saw my results before being notified as I was doing my daily check of my brother’s most recent (above 20 cMs) matches. Often there are no new matches or only 4th cousins very close to the 20 cMs cutoff. This time he had a new match with 2,410 cMs across 68 segments!
I switched over to my profile to see if my match list was available. At the top of the list in the full sibling category was my brother. No surprise there. The matches that followed were the same two first cousins and dozen second cousin he also has as matches.
Setting Everything up for DNA Analysis
Since I’ve been working with my brother’s results for nearly three and a half years, I was ready to use all the tools necessary to gather and analyze my matches. The initial set up went as follows.
Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool
First, I ran a complete download of the matches (6 cMs and greater) on AncestryDNA using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool. This can take up to several hours.
Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage
While I was waiting for the Shared Clustering tool to gather the matches, I downloaded the raw DNA file from Ancestry for upload to Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage. It would be a few days before these three sites processed the data and my profiles there would be ready to work with. As soon as the kit was tokenized on Gedmatch, I ran a one-to-one comparison to see which segments my brother and I share.
Colin Thomson’s Pedigree Thief
I used the Chrome extension Pedigree Thief to download all matches 20 cMs and greater (4th cousin or closer) on AncestryDNA. The more distant 5th to 8th cousins will be gathered later. The Pedigree Thief generates a CSV file that I can download and use with the next tool.
Becky Mason Walker’s Genome Mate Pro
I’d already started to set up my profile in Genome Mate Pro (GMP), an app to help manage the data collected from the different platforms for autosomal DNA research. My GEDCOM had been uploaded and linked to my profile and the next step was to add the Match Keys. This involved adding the key values associated with my profile in the files from the various sources (AncestryDNA, Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage). The AncestryDNA and Gedmatch keys were immediately available while I had to wait for FTDNA and MyHeritage to process the uploads before I could enter the keys from these sites.
The CSV file generated by the Pedigree Thief on AncestryDNA after gathering the matches was imported into GMP. A second CSV file of the shared matches of matches (gathering these takes several hours) was also added to GMP.
When FTDNA was completed, I downloaded the CSV file of matches and imported it into GMP. After paying $19 to unlock the AncestryDNA upload to FTDNA was I able to download the chromosome data file and import it into GMP.
MyHeritage will send a CSV file for matches and another for chromosome data per email when requested. Both of these files were uploaded to GMP.
When the Gedmatch kit completed processing I was able to copy/paste the One-To-Many DNA Comparison Results into GMP (list of top 3,000 matches). One-to-one Autosomal Comparison for the highest matches was generated one by one and copy/pasted into GMP. The rest of the matches’ chromosome data will wait until I pay for Tier 1 membership.
I didn’t use the Tier 1 utilities for my brother’s test as all data was imported before the switch to Genesis and then back to the new Gedmatch version. As new matches have been few I was able to import them individually. Gathering the chromosome data using one-to-one autosomal comparison of my test against nearly 3,000 matches would be too time-consuming.
Genome Mate Pro is now set up with matches from four platforms. I will continue to update on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on the site.
Back at AncestryDNA
Although AncestryDNA does not offer a chromosome browser, the new features they have implemented this year help sort through matches.
This is the system I’ve chosen for my profile. The maternal side of my tree is for the most part from Luxembourg. For my brother, I’ve found about 240 matches (of a total of 64,000) who are from the maternal side. The closest confirmed match is a 4C1R. Most of these maternal matches are descendants of Luxembourg emigrants in the USA. I’ve elected to use the star for sorting them on his profile as well as mine. All paternal matches will be grouped by colors.
I may be overthinking this but a similar system worked well for my brother’s matches. Ancestry does not offer enough groups (in my opinion) for this to work for everyone. Having mostly paternal matches allows me to disregard half of my tree. As can be seen in the pedigree chart the brick wall I mentioned earlier is in my father’s direct paternal line.
I’ve labeled a group for my 2nd great-grandparents as 4PGF Dempsey-Wood as they are four generations from me and on my paternal grandfather’s side. As I have only 7 sets of 3rd great-grandparents, I created groups for each of them indicating the generation, grandparent side, and number to keep them in order per the pedigree chart, i.e. 3 sets on the paternal grandfather and 4 sets on the paternal grandmother’s side. Then I created groups for 6 sets of 4th great-grandparents on my paternal grandfather’s side and 8 sets of 4th great-grandparents on my paternal grandmother’s side.
This left me with two free groups. One is a catch-all for matches that have not been figured out and is labeled !Needs to be worked out.
My goal is to have all 4th cousins or closer matches grouped so that when I view shared matches of a match I can more quickly evaluate where the connection may be. The groups beginning with 5 will become redundant and I can then use them for more distant generations.
Shared Clustering Report
The Shared Clustering tool gathered all matches 6 cMs or greater on AncestryDNA with at least three shared matches and generated a clustering report. I have a little over 56,000 matches on Ancestry. The Shared Clustering tool clustered 12,800 of these into 88 clusters.
As this download was done BEFORE I started to work with the matches the notes are blank, i.e. MRCA or other information is missing. Most of the clusters have known matches seen previously on my brother’s match list and his clusters. But there are several clusters of matches not seen on his test. This was my first sign of having inherited DNA from my father that my brother didn’t.
Each time the Shared Clustering tool is used to generate a cluster list the cluster numbers change. Therefore it’s important to keep notes on Ancestry which will help to determine the most distant common ancestor of a cluster.
One of my highest unknown matches is in Cluster 81 with 61 cMs across 2 segments. I’ve been working through all of the highest matches in this cluster adding their Ahnentafels to GMP with the help of the Pedigree Thief and color-coding them in the ![C81] temp 77 group – the last free group. When I figure out where in my tree this cluster is coming from I can change the color-code to the correct ancestral group and free up the group.
Time for a Call to Action
Now that I’ve set everything up, I can begin to work through my matches and find cousins who may help me open the doors in my brick walls. Are you seeing my name on your match list? I won’t be sending out messages for a while but will reply to any I receive!
This is the first of two posts on Ancestry‘s ThruLines™ regarding an issue I have had with the new feature.
Access to ThruLines™ Beta is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.
Unfortunately, hundreds of user trees on Ancestry cannot be taken into account when building ThruLines™. The Legal Genealogist went ballistic last Saturday and wrote How do we know? It’s an excellent post with an example of a user tree which cannot be taken seriously. Judy G. Russell recognized the errors in the tree but can a computer program do the same? I think not.
This is not meant to provoke negative comments concerning Ancestry and the features offered by them. This is about giving feedback concerning a known problem in hopes of getting positive results.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
I have given feedback several times before [concerning the reason I am not satisfied with ThruLines] and will try to be more detailed as there is a bug in the system which has not been fixed.
I realize, at this time, ThruLines™ is a free tool on AncestryDNA. However, your long-time customers’ experience in family history research should be taken into account. We can work together to get this fixed.
The problem is a known bug in the system as other users have complained about it on social media. Some users who gave feedback say their ThruLines™ were “fixed” within days. I do not believe Ancestry has taken the step to go into one user’s ThruLines™ to fix this bug. I strongly believe it was a coincidence the users’ ThruLines™ were corrected after feedback. It is more likely another user’s tree, which was being used to build the connection between the ancestor and the match, had been corrected and this resolved the issue.
This is the issue I have with ThruLines™’ “step bug”
I am seeing a step-parent as the parent in the ThruLines™. The information is correct in my tree. No other tree is being used to create this ThruLines™ ancestor. Along with this step-parent, I am seeing all of her ancestors, unrelated to my line, as my ancestors in ThruLines™. Not as POTENTIAL ancestors with a dotted borders – they are being shown as ANCESTORS.
The ancestor who is showing up incorrectly in ThruLines™ is:
The pedigree of the incorrect person in my tree:
I’ve added images to her ancestors showing they are NOT the ancestors of the home person and/or test person. [This is so that I can quickly recognize them on ThruLines™.]
This is her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather, in my tree. His information is correct and includes his two wives and their respective children:
This is the pedigree of his first wife, my 2nd great-grandmother, who along with all of her ancestors are NOT showing up in my ThruLines™. There are many DNA matches for people who descend from her PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines, on the match list, but they are being ignored by ThruLines™.
I want to stress that ONLY entries in my tree are being used for this (incorrect) ThruLines™ ancestor. No other user tree is being used to make this connection between the half-cousin matches whose relationship is incorrectly calculated to full cousins.
I understand the idea of ThruLines™ and believe it could be a powerful tool. One problem will always be the hundreds of trees which are incorrect due to sloppy research, i.e. accepting hints without looking at dates, places, names, etc.
However, in this case, the tree being used is correct and ThruLines™ is overriding my information and picking the wrong person in the tree. I have no experience in programming. I can only tell you where I am seeing the bug. I’m fully aware of the fact that detecting the source of the bug may be more difficult.
Thank you for your time. In hopes of a quick resolution to this problem,
I wrote the above last Sunday but didn’t want to post it on my blog without giving Ancestry had a bit more time to fix the issue. This was the first time I included links to the specific areas where the “bug” was detected. Will this kind of feedback help resolve the issue I have with Ancestry‘s ThruLines™?
Earlier this year I wrote about my 4th great-grandparents Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY in 52 Ancestors: #45 Missing Parish Records in Mamer Leave Unanswered Questions. As the title suggests there were things which were left unresolved in the article. No trace was found of their son Franciscus “Franz” FRISCH born in 1796 after the 1849 census nor of their son Nicolaus FRISCH born in 1798 after his birth. Franz married and had a family as seen in the census but Nicolaus was completely off the radar.
One of Franz’s sons, Peter John FRISCH was known to have come to America in 1854 as seen in Sandra L. Hammes’ From Luxembourg to La Crosse And Beyond 1851-1910, however, I did not find a birth record to connect him to his parents Franz and Magdalena.
Last month I found a DNA match with a FRISCH ancestor in her family tree. This post is about how I discovered the match, which new website I used to confirm relationships, and how both helped me to prove the missing brothers of my 3rd great-grandmother Elisabeta FRISCH emigrated from Luxembourg to America on the ship Pauline which departed from Le Havre, France and arrived in the port of New York in May 1854.
DNA Match Labeling
It all began in mid-September when Blaine Bettinger announced his Chrome extension DNA Match Labeling was now available in the Chrome Web Store. This extension lets you use eight colored dots to label your AncestryDNA matches. Michael John Neill wrote an interesting post Label Your AncestryDNA Matches stressing the necessity of giving thought to how to use these on the thousands of matches we have. I decided to use them to label ONLY the paternal matches of the test results I manage.
An example of several matches which have been labeled with the red dot:
Why not the maternal matches? Our mother is Luxembourgish and all of her ancestors were from Luxembourg or the surrounding regions of Germany, France, and Belgium which were once part of Luxembourg. Compared to the number of paternal matches, the maternal ones are few and far between. The top maternal match is a 4C1R (4th cousin once removed) on page 3 (50 matches per page) with 44 cMs. Since there are so few at this time, I’m using Ancestry’s star feature for maternal matches because it lets me pull up all of these matches and sort them by date or relationship. The colored dots, which I am saving for paternal matches, are only visual aids and cannot be sorted.
While starring the matches, I checked the Shared Matches of the highest maternal cousin and found a new match with a great-grandmother named Anna Katrina FRISCH. Unfortunately, there were no dates and places of birth, marriage, and death in the tree and no parents for this FRISCH young lady.
The new match, Kate in honor of her great-grandmother, is a Shared Match of Mary, a 4C1R who descends through my 4th great-grandparents Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY. Mary had first gotten in touch with me in 2009. We have been in touch about the DNA match but she has not uploaded to GEDMATCH. This is important to note as shared matches do not necessarily share the DNA on the same segment of a chromosome. The only way to determine this is to do a comparison using a chromosome browser which at this time is not available on Ancestry.
Building Kate’s Family Tree
Building out a DNA match’s family tree is like playing connect the dots. The first run through is all about piecing together hints and bits of information for a temporary tree which can later, if it turns out to be the correct family, be filled out with care and sourced.
I found Joe and Anna DAVIS in Sanborn County, Dakota Territory, in 1885 with a daughter named Lena. I continued to find them in the same county in the state of South Dakota from 1900 to 1930. These helped me to determine I was on the right track and these were Kate‘s great-grandparents. Anna K. as she was seen in the census was born in Iowa with parents born in Germany. This is in conflict with my FRISCH family being from Luxembourg.
Working backwards I searched for Anna K. FRISCH born about 1861 in Iowa and found a promising family group. John and Lena FRISCH in Johnson County, Iowa. They had a Catherine born about 1858 and a Kate born about 1859. In 1860 and in 1880 the father John was seen as born in Luxembourg while in 1870 Holland was listed. The most interesting census listing was the 1860 where the young family was in the household of Francis FRISH (sic), a 60 years old farmer born in Luxembourg. Was this Franz who I had not been able to locate after the 1849 Luxembourg census? When did Franz and his son Jean come to America? Perhaps at the same time as Peter John FRISCH mentioned in the La Crosse book?
A search for a passenger list with FRISCH individuals who arrived in America in the 1850s turned up the list featured at the beginning of this post. Two family groups with the surname FRISCH were on the Pauline in May 1854: François, Pierre, Jean, and Angelique as well as Nicolaus, Catherine, Paul, Canada (sic), Marie, and Catherine. Had I found both of my 3rd great-grandmother Elisabetha FRISCH’s brothers?
Members of my genealogy society Luxracines have been working on a project to index the marriages from the 10-year tables of the civil records of the Luxembourg municipalities and former municipalities for the years 1797 to 1923. Using this new online database (available to members only) I found Nicolaus FRISCH married Catherine WESTER in Reckange-sur-Mess in 1825. I searched the birth and death records in Reckange and found nine children, five of whom died by 1853 leaving four living: Paul, Jeanette, Maria, and Katharina. All names with the exception of Jeanette (Canada on the list) matched the passenger list.
What about Franz FRISCH? Where was his wife? I found she’d died in 1850 in Capellen. Their oldest son Franz was found marrying in 1851 in Steinsel to Margaretha REUTER. [This is a recent find and I have not spent much time searching for more information on this couple and their children, if they had any.]
This left two unmarried sons, Pierre and Jean, whose names matched those on the passenger list. But who was Angelique? Pierre married Angelique TRINKES on 4 September 1856 in Dubuque, Iowa, according to the La Crosse book. No marriage record has been found to confirm this date and place. Is it possible she came over with the FRISCH families or did Pierre marry her before their arrival in America?
This past July the Catholic church records for Luxembourg went online on Matricula Online. Included in this new database are Mamer’s missing church records. The baptismal record of Petrus FRISCH, son of Franz FRISCH and Magdalena MORRET was found on Matricula Online. He was born 25 May 1830 in Capellen. This is not the date found in the La Crosse book (29 Oct 1832), in the Mamer register (25 March 1830), or on the 1849 census (30 May 1830). I can only hope Peter married his first wife Angelique in Luxembourg as the record would include his correct date of birth. But I feel confident the Pierre seen on the passenger list with François is Petrus found in the baptismal record and Peter who lived in La Crosse County.
The Incomplete Story
Franz and his brother Nicolaus came with their families to America in May 1854. By 1860, everyone was in Jackson County, Iowa. Franz’s son John had married Lena WEBER and was the father of two young girls. Peter had married Angeline TRINKES and did not have children. Nicolaus was with his wife Catherine, son Paul, and daughter Maria. Their daughter Jeanette had married Jean FORRET. They had two children as well as Jean’s mother and two siblings in their household. Nicolaus’ daughter Catherine is the only person from the passenger list who has not been located.
Nicolaus died in 1862 leaving everything to his son Paul. His widow Catherine died in 1872. Franz died in 1867. John was widowed in 1877 and followed his brother to La Crosse County, Wisconsin, after the 1880 census.
Now that I know there are descendants of my 3rd great-grandmother Elisabeta’s brothers living in America, I will continue to fill in the family tree and check for new DNA matches. I looked for Jeanette’s married name and found two matches! Messages have been sent. I can’t wait to see these on my chromosome map.
My AncestryDNA Circles went missing in mid-January. By mid-February, I was no longer being patient waiting for them to return. I sent a message to Ancestry through their Facebook page and received this in reply:
Thanks for reaching out, Cathy. Unfortunately we are experiencing a delay in Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles populating currently. It is taking several weeks for hints and circles to calculate, but we are working on fixing that so it happens much faster. We are very sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime! While we are working on a fix, please let us know if anything changes on your end or you come across any other issues!
Why did my AncestryDNA Circles go missing?
I know it takes a while for Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles to appear when you link a tree to your AncestryDNA test. There are many different reasons why they don’t show up or why they disappear. In my case, I knew they should be there and they simply weren’t. Personally, I thought a delay in Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles populating was caused by users who changed their trees too often. How much data can Ancestry handle?
I’ve had two different trees attached to the test I manage since June 2016. The first was for only direct ancestors. The second was my full tree and I had linked it in November 2017 in hopes of hearing from more matches.
Between Christmas and the New Year while doing location comparisons I noticed an anomaly. People born in Luxembourg were showing up in Utah and a Maryland born person was in Bermuda. My Susanna FEILEN, born in Germany, was showing up in Louisiana. This sent up a red flag as I don’t have any ancestors born in Utah, Lousiana, or Bermuda.
The places were entered correctly in my tree however on the DNA page they were not the place they should be.
This meant matches were seeing incorrect information in my tree. How could matches take me seriously when there was such a mess showing in the tree linked to the DNA test I manage? Half of our ancestors were born in Europe and many of these were showing up as born in the USA. I suspect (in my opinion) Ancestry was using some kind of location identifier which converted places when the tree was linked to the DNA test.
Hoping it was only a glitch on the AncestryDNA site, I waited a few weeks for it to fix itself. That didn’t happen and in mid-January, I decided to go back to the original tree with only direct ancestors. This fixed the location problem.
While my Shared Ancestors Hints remained the same, my DNA Circles, previously between 28-30, disappeared. I knew by linking a new tree I would reset Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles. It would take a few days for things to get back to normal. I waited and waited.
A month after I linked the tree I still did not have DNA Circles. That’s when I reached out to Ancestry the first time and was told about the delay.
Three weeks later the DNA Circles were still missing and I wrote several more messages to Ancestry. Shared Ancestor Hints were still growing and the missing Circles were taking far too long, in my opinion, to populate. I suspected my tree was just stuck in some kind of never-never-land and asked if perhaps by linking it again the problem might be solved.
We’re very sorry for the delay Cathy. We do not advise to unlink and relink your tree since this will remove any shared ancestor hints and it may take time to populate them again (if they are following all the requirements).
At this point, I was not a happy Ancestry client. I knew other people were complaining and I let Ancestry know my dissatisfaction. I was given a free month’s subscription to be taken when I wish. This is appreciated but I would much rather have my Circles back.
Our developers are aware of issues with the DNA circles and are working to get them out of beta. Until such time, there will be irregularities with their behavior. We apologize for this and ask for your patience and understanding.
What I did to get my missing DNA Circles back
Earlier this month I went through each of my Shared Ancestor Hints and added the information to the Notes available for matches. I added SAH and the information about the relationship and the ancestor. I also included an emoji leaf 🍃. At the same time, I also added emojis for paternal 🤵 and maternal 👰 matches.
My patience had run out. I was preparing to do what Ancestry said I should NOT do.
I finished adding notes to all of the 412 matches with Shared Ancestry Hints on Thursday evening. Then I went into Settings and clicked on the X to unlink the tree. I waited 3 seconds and linked the same tree again.
Over the weekend I did not have time to check on AncestryDNA. On Monday morning I found 23 DNA Circles!
My re-linking the same tree triggered the change I was hoping for. My DNA Circles are back after nearly three months and my Shared Ancestor Hints did not disappear. Nine new ones came in over the weekend when they normally just trickle in one at a time.
Please take note that Ancestry does not recommend unlinking and linking your tree again. I took the chance and it worked. Perhaps Ancestry got the problem fixed at the same time I risked losing my Shared Ancestor Hints in favor of the DNA Circles.
Now I am going to go in and tag all of the matches who are in the Circles and make a note of the people who are in the Circles but don’t share DNA with the test I manage. Just in case they disappear again.
You may also wish to read the following DNA related posts: