2020 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2021

2020 A Year in Review

The year 2020 got off to a good start on my blog with The Ancestors series. The plan was to get back to working on my children’s 6th great-grandparents on a more regular basis AND write a single post about each set. The WOOD, McGRAW, HONEGGER, and WISEMAN 6th great-grandparents (all on my paternal side) were done before Luxembourg went into COVID19 lockdown in mid-March. As these distant ancestors become more difficult to research and write about, a single post is not always feasible as seen in my having to break up the HONEGGER post into two parts.

Four months later, only one post had been published. From August until October I worked on the earliest FOURNELLE family in my tree. After setting up the stageintroducing the main characters and supporting cast, I discussed each of the children of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702). All of the posts can be found under the tab for Books: FOURNELLE Book.

A few how-to posts on using the block editor on WordPress, Luxembourg birth and marriage records, and an updated post on transferring AncestryDNA raw DNA files to Gedmatch got me to the end of the year.

Posts, Views, and Viewers

As you can see by the year in review, 2020 was not as productive as previous years on my blog. I wrote 33 posts compared to 50 in 2019 and 51 in 2018. Views were a bit lower than in the past two years but still 40,547. A total of 23,348 viewers visited my blog during the year. The number of followers grew from 500, a milestone reached in December 2019, to 544 by the end of 2020.

Top posts in 2020

Genealogy Toolbox: Links to West Virginia Land Deeds on FamilySearch

The Ancestors: Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ (396+397)

The Ancestors: Isaac WISEMAN (1738-1818) and Elizabeth DAVIS (1738-1807)

Lëtz Research: How to Find Luxembourg Civil Birth Records

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What? (Updated)

The Ancestors: Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ (Part II)

The Ancestors: Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife (392 & 393)

Adding Footnotes to your WordPress Posts Using Block Editor

Strong Women: Mary, wife of Isaac WISEMAN († 1779)

From Luxembourg to America –
The Tempestuous Voyage of the Cornely Family

What I was up to in 2020

Even though it was quiet on my blog during the summer months, I was still busy.

Mom’s AncestryDNA results came in a few days before the first lockdown. I went through each of the steps I’d set up for my brother’s and my own test. The matches were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool and notes with the cluster numbers were transferred to Ancestry. The raw DNA file was uploaded to FTDNA, MyHeritage, and Gedmatch. All DNA data (from the four sites) was imported into Genome Mate Pro, my major repository for DNA matches, trees, notes, correspondence, chromosome segments, mapping, and analysis.

I spent several Mondays in Walferdange at the Luxracines archive working with two other ladies from our genealogy society. With the archive being closed to the public, we had time to work on the inventory of the books in our collection, set up a classification system, and labeled all books with identifying numbers. The library was ready to receive visitors on an appointment basis due to COVIC19 restrictions. But before long we were once again under a soft lockdown and then a more strict lockdown at the end of the year. Other members of Luxracines were busy extracting marriages that took place in Belgium for people born in Luxembourg under the direction of our president Rob Deltgen.

I spent 241 hours (121 days out of 365) riding my racing bike with my husband. My longest activity was 114 kilometers. I rode a total of 5,657 kilometers while he chalked up 10,100 kilometers.

And still, I had time to keep up with new DNA matches. I developed a new color system for my AncestryDNA matches. It is so brilliant that I plan on sharing it in a future post. What I had before was good but this is even better – and transferred over to chromosome mapping it clearly shows from which of my father’s four grandparents matches with MRCAs are coming from.

What’s coming in 2021

Along with the last mentioned, I’d like to write about DNA discoveries and highlight the tools I’ve been using.

I hope I will be inspired by my mother’s DNA matches to work on my children’s 6th great-grandparents who have not yet been introduced here.

With two of her five children tested, Mom’s results include one 2C1R, three 3C2R, three 3C3R, and all other matches being “4th cousins or more distant.” Mom was an only child, had only three first cousins (1 paternal and 2 maternal), and her entire ancestry lies in the “greater” Luxembourg area. Clusters of matches include descendants of Luxembourg and German (from areas once part of Luxembourg) emigrants who for the most part settled in the US.

One FOURNELLE post still needs to be written on my 5th great-grandparents Pierre FOURNELLE (1713-1765) and Jeanne NEU (1723-1783) to complete the line between my grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE (1909-2005) and her most distant FOURNELLE ancestor.

These are things I would like to work on in 2021 but I’m not setting goals. 2020 taught us to slow down and enjoy what we can as long as we can. The year also brought blessings in the form of a granddaughter, our first grandchild.

Happy New Year 2021. May it be filled with hope and a brighter future.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What? (Updated)

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.

Running the gamut of emotions…

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.

Dear Cousin,

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.]

Register with GEDmatch

To use GEDmatch you need to register for the site. The link is https://www.gedmatch.com/login1.php

GEDmatch screenshot 2020

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.

AncestryDNA screenshot 2020

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.

AncestryDNA screenshot 2020

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.

AncestryDNA screenshot of the email 2020

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.

GEDmatch screenshot 2020

(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.)

Meanwhile…

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.

GEDmatch screenshot 2020

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!

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!

Cropped view of the Segment Map generated by Genome Mate Pro in 2018. New segments have been added since then. An updated segment map will be shared in a future post.

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.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Look Who’s Finally Taken the Autosomal DNA Test

It’s been several years since I wrote Look Who’s Using DNA for Genealogy Research. Thanks to my youngest brother I’ve been able to work with his results at AncestryDNA since the end of May 2016.

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!

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

Gathering Records to Tell the Story – An Update

Less than two hours after I posted Gathering Records to Tell the Story in late February my fourth cousin Ralph L. Hayes sent emails with images of the Chancery records for the 1864 divorce of John William CLONCH and Sarah Jane FOSTER – records which are not online.

Cousin Bait!

I was surprised and happy to finally see the records he had discovered years ago when he searched through old dusty unindexed boxes at the courthouse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

In Gathering Records to Tell the Story, I shared the entry in the court records concerning the divorce of my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH from his first wife Mary Ellen LEMASTER. I’d only recently found this record and could not wait to share with my cousins who descend from the CLONCH line.

By sharing what I’d found I may have been subconsciously baiting cousins. Don’t we do this all the time? Sharing bits and pieces in hopes of a relative coming forward with new information. I wasn’t expecting Ralph to message me via Facebook so soon after I’d published the post. We hadn’t done email in 15 years but have been keeping up with each other via Facebook for 10 years.

It’s a complicated story

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. Many residents of Mason County crossed the Ohio River and state line to marry in Gallia. If Sarah Jane carried her first child to full term, she may have been with child when they married. Their son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862. A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born to John and Sarah. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.

I found a couple of entries in the Chancery orders and in a fee book concerning the divorce in 1864 when I located my ancestor Alex’s 1880 divorce records. My mentioning the 1864 documents in Ralph’s possession were not yet online pushed him to get in touch and email them to me.

In the meantime…

I’ve been a bit slow working on the documents as other things have kept me busy during the past few weeks.

I watched several of the 2019 RootsTech live sessions and got caught up in the DNA whirlwind caused by Ancestry and MyHeritage’s new tools. I’ve used up all 24 of the colors offered for grouping matches in the New & Improved DNA Matches (Beta). I’ve played with MyTreeTags on the small tree linked to the test I manage on Ancestry and found they are an excellent new tool for tree management. ThruLines™ is still aggravating me. They have a known problem with step-parents being considered as the ancestor. MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity did not take long to look at as only 29 matches were offered. Several were spot-on. Several were not. Their AutoClustering was a bit disappointing as I was already spoiled by Jonathan Brecher and his Shared Clustering tool.

Ralph said, “Go for it!” In the days to come, I’ll share the transcriptions of the records he sent from the chancery case Sarah Jane Clonch vs John W. Clonch.

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

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What?

UPDATE (1 December 2020): Please note this post has been updated to reflect changes on the GEDmatch and Ancestry websites since the article was first written in March 2018.

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… Continue reading

Running the gamut of emotions…

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.