Saturday, October 18, 2014

FamilyTreeDNA Autosomal Transfers

I read at The Genetic Genealogist that FamilyTreeDNA had dropped their DNA Autosomal Transfer to $39 (from $69), and that they allowed you to see the first 20 matches for free. (Though not all of the FamilyTreeDNA functionality is provided for free. What is provided I illustrate below.)

An Autosomal Transfer means that if you download your raw DNA data from 23andMe (the V3 Test) or Ancestry, you can upload the data to FamilyTreeDNA. This way you can find matches with additional cousins.

It's hard to ignore a free opportunity - which of course is what FamilyTreeDNA is betting on. Get lots of people to upload for free, and see what they can 'unlock' for $39. (You can also unlock it by getting 4 others to upload for free.)

If you follow this link, you can upload your data for free (and help me unlock my data for free.)
But you may want to see what you're getting first...

This is the screen you see first

Enter your name, email address, gender, and click that you accept their ToS. Then click Try it Free!

Click "Upload Raw Data" unless you need to click the help link for downloading data from 23andMe or Ancestry. I had already downloaded my data from Ancestry when they made that option available.

When you click a green circle will begin to swirl. About a minute later (at least for me) you will progress to this screen, where they tell you the upload is complete, and they will email you when they are finished processing it. That can take around an hour. Yesterday morning I uploaded my data at 5:43 before leaving for work, and received the email that everything was processed at 6:50.

Once processed, this is part of the screen you will see after logging in. MyOrigins (detailing FamilyTreeDNA's analysis of your world origins) is one of the options you need to unlock.

But you can click on Matches.

Here's what I see with my first two matches

As you can see:

  • It tells you how many additional matches there are. (Interestingly, I've uploaded two sets of raw data, and for the other set, I am told there are only over 402 additional matches. 402 is nice, but a fraction of 3,158.)
  • Indicates you won't be able to contact them without unlocking (unless you can find them with an internet search based on their names.)

When I mouseover the FamilyTree icon for the matches I see this response for all 20

Blaine Bettinger said that none of his matches had a family tree available either. The advert at the top of the match screen suggests even if the Family Tree were available, you'd have to unlock to see it. Since FamilyTreeDNA is a DNA-based website, and not a Family Tree-based website like Ancestry, I wonder if not a lot of people upload their trees. However, many do provide some surnames, which is somewhat helpful.

For example, one match below listed a lot of surnames, and their geographical locations. I know he is descended from the Van Everys who settled in Nebraska. I suspect this makes us third cousins, as our earliest shared ancestor is likely my 2nd great grandfather, Samuel Van Every.

If we click on the arrow below the profile image, you see more options. (Most of my initial matches haven't uploaded images. I suspect this is common)

The 'common matches' function needs to be unlocked. I suspect this is exactly what it implies, it will show all your matches in common. As far as I've seen, Ancestry doesn't provide this functionality, and that sounds great.

I can use the chromosome browser. If I click the + sign, I add the match to the Chromosome Browser. (You can compare up to 5 matches at a time.)

Then, if I click compare, I get to see exactly where in our chromosomes we matched.

This is also additional functionality not available at Ancestry, and looks like it could be very useful. If multiple matches match in the same area of a chromosome, it probably suggests a shared ancestor. I haven't done much research into this as it's not available at Ancestry.

One of the options on the Chromosome Browser is to "hide 3rd party matches." As the tutorial explains:

I, of course, am a "Third Party Match." They don't tell you up front that the matches are less reliable.
Of course, I won't hide 3rd party matches, since if they used Ancestry the comparison should be more reliable. Right?

So, will I pay $39?

Well....If I can convince 4 people to follow this link, and upload their data for free, I won't have to.
(Actually 3 people, since I followed it to upload a second file of DNA data I had. Of course, I'd like to unlock that as well. But I'll be happy if I only have to pay for one.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Of Grands and Greats: Ancestral Nomenclature

There are two ways to describe your grandfather’s brother in English: Great Uncle and Grand Uncle. (There are actually six ways if one includes Great-Uncle, Grand-Uncle, Greatuncle, and Granduncle.)

[Note: I am sticking with the masculine terms throughout this post; everything applies equally to the parallel feminine terms.]

Some will tell you there is a ‘correct’ way. They are wrong. Both ‘Great Uncle” and “Grand Uncle” date back at least to the 15th century. (see citations below)
  • “his grete Uncle H. Cardinal of England” (Rolls of Parliament V.438, 1438)
  • “his graunt oncle Henry cardinalle of Englande” (Book of Noblesse, 1475)
Grand derives from the Anglo-Norman ‘Graunt’
Great derives from the Germanic ’Great.’

In French, the construction is very logical for uncles, fathers, and sons
  • Grand-oncle
  • Grand-grand-oncle
  • grand-Père
  • Grand-Grand-Père
  • Grand-Fils
  • Grand-Grand-Fils
However, in English, for fathers and sons, we start with grand, and then switch to great.
  • Grandfather
  • Great Grandfather
  • Grandson
  • Great Grandson
Some feel we should do the same with uncles and nephews
  • Grand Uncle
  • Great Grand Uncle
  • Grand Nephew
  • Great Grand Nephew
Many genealogists seem to like this construction because they feel it looks the best on a family tree. The same terms are used for everybody on the same hierarchy. Your ancestors' siblings are equally grand or great. Your great great grandfather's brother would be your great great granduncle.

Some like a construction similar to the French, but using Great.
  • Great Uncle
  • Great Great Uncle
However, there isn't only one correct method in English. Don't listen to those who insist there is.
Personally, I like the French system.

Friday, October 10, 2014

1919 Composite Photo

I think there may be some people who think composite photographs - photographs combining the features of multiple individuals - are a relatively new concept.

The below was created in 1919.

It probably was a more difficult process back then, than it is today.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, April 15, 1919, Page 23

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Assumptions: The Name of the Father Part II

Fourth in a series of posts.

A discussion of assumptions one might be tempted to make. With examples taken from my own research.

Assumption: The name of the father on the birth certificate is the father of the child

You find the birth certificate for John Robert Green II, and the father's name on the certificate is John Robert Green. You decide your previous guess has been confirmed.

But wait!

Absent DNA tests you might have no way to confirm the veracity, but be aware, only the mother needs to be present at the birth. (Arguably, this is no longer the case with surrogacy.)

A 9 month period is a significant length of time, and a woman who changes partners might decide to put the new partner on the certificate, and to name the child accordingly.

For privacy reasons I will not indicate the example from my own research.

[Sure. In your database entry for "John Robert Green" change the source citation to the birth certificate. You now have more to go by than the name of the child. Finding a marriage certificate might help increase the odds, but there are many births outside of marriage. Genealogy is not an exact science; just because something is written down on a government-issued document doesn't mean it is indisputable fact. This is why source citations are so gosh important.]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Data Backup Day: Be Prepared

The first day of every month is Data Backup Day.

This past Saturday morning, I woke up to a very unpleasant feeling. My computer wouldn't boot up.

Using my cellphone, I found a step-by-step guide on what to do.

1) I ran Disk Utility, and 'repaired' the disk.

It wouldn't reboot.

2) I restarted in 'Safe Mode.'

It wouldn't reboot.

3) I restarted in "Single User Mode," and entered: fsck -fy until I received the message "the volume...appears to be ok."

It wouldn't reboot. (But I did enjoy the geeky thrill of taking my Mac to a unix command line.)

4) I reinstalled the OS. [In years past this would have meant searching for the install disks. Now the computer downloads the software over the internet.]

It rebooted! What a relief. The next step was taking the computer to the "Genius Bar" at the local Apple Store, and I am glad that I was able to avoid that. For now, at least. The computer is only three years old, so hopefully she has a few more miles in her.

Throughout this ordeal I wasn't nervous about my data. It's backed up regularly through Apple's Time Machine. I knew the last full backup had taken place Friday evening, so there would have been no lost data if I had to erase the drive and restore from the backup. That's a good feeling to have.

Image Source: "The First Page," by Émile Bayard (1837-1891). An illustration for the novel, Ninety-three, by Victor Hugo.

Émile Bayard's best known illustration is his image of Cosette sweeping the floor of the inn, for the novel, Les Misérables.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Assumptions: The Name of the Father

Third in a series of posts.

A discussion of assumptions one might be tempted to make. With examples taken from my own research.

Assumption: The name of a child indicates the name of the parent.


Question: You run across a person named John Robert Green II. What is his father's name?
Answer: You can not assume it is John Robert Green.

Sure, there is a strong likelihood. But there is no law, in the United States at least, that sets rules on how to name a child.

Sometimes a child can be named the II where an Uncle or other relative was the first.

Or you can have parents with a strange sense of humor.

You can have a John Robert Green II who is the son of David Alexander Green, with no John Robert in sight.

I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere in our country there exists a Leonard Part VI.

For privacy reasons I will not indicate the example from my own research.

[Sure. In your database enter "John Robert Green" for the father, and in the notes indicate that you are guessing that is his name from the name of the son. But always remember it is a guess, until you find confirming documentation.]

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Assumptions: Documents are a Snapshot in Time

Second in a series of posts.

A discussion of assumptions one might be tempted to make. With examples taken from my own research.

Assumption: Documentation that an individual lived somewhere in time indicates they lived there before or after that moment in time.

Every document is a snapshot in time. Except in rare occasions, they don't tell you what happened before or after that snapshot.

Below are entries from the St. Louis City Directory for my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every

•1921 - Astor Hotel
•1921 - 4528a Enright
•1922 - Westgate Hotel
•1922 - 4123 Westminster
•1923 - 4515 Washington
•1924 - 5630 Delmar
•1925 - 5540 Pershing
•1926 - 4506 Forest Park
•1927 - 4545 Washington
•1928 - 5707 McPherson apt 111
•1928 - 5656 Kingsbury apt 203
•1930 - Georgiana Court Apartments, 5660 Kingsbury, apt 203, St. Louis, MO (census - ED 169 - Sheet 1B)

She moved around a lot, but she remained in St. Louis. She doesn't appear in the 1929 directory, but not appearing in a particular directory isn't uncommon. I can imagine many genealogists, of varying experience levels, stating as fact that she lived in St. Louis continually from 1921 to 1930, citing the St. Louis City Directories and the 1930 census as evidence.

And there's nothing wrong with that, except for using the word 'fact.'

In April of 1927 my grandmother married in Oakland, California. In October of 1927 she divorced her husband, and returned to St. Louis. She didn't miss appearing in the 1927 directory. She appeared in the 1928 directory under her maiden name, and her married name. She did appear in the 1929 directory, but only under her married name. She returned to her maiden name by the census in 1930.

Remember: Every document is a snapshot in time. Be open to learning something important happened between two snapshots.

Ancestry doesn't handle European Dates well in Family Trees

I was looking at the entry for one of my wife's ancestors on somebody else's Ancestry Family Tree. As you can see, the person entered her birth date as 04.11.1817. And her death date as 17.07.1915.

From the death date, it is clear they are using the European system of Date.Month.Year.  There is no 17th month. The birth date could either be in April or November. 

If you glance down at the Timeline - Ancestry assumes the user was using the American Month/Date/Year format. Oops.

If I were able to copy the whole entry, you'd notice that the Ancestry Timeline gets the death date correct. Which means the software program is coded to recognize the existence of both methods, but only uses the European method if the American method returns an error. I used to be a computer programmer, and I don't think I'd have coded it this way.

Note: I went to my own family tree and tested the interface. There is no clear way to indicate which method you are using, and the software made the same mistake when I entered the same dates. However, the person who created the entry below did make a mistake in entering the date of birth. They cite FindAGrave as a source, which cites her death certificate. Both sources have her date of birth as November 14th. A simple typo, but a reminder to look at the sources.

Further Note: It was mentioned that this programming error may only exist if one uses periods to separate the numbers in the date. So I tested it with the more traditional /s and the same thing happened.