Hello Cousins! This morning it is snowing in New Hampshire!
I wanted to share with you some information I have learned about my ancestry using non-traditional means. Genealogists living in the 21st Century have it easy! All of the US Federal Census records have been indexed and digitized, and many state and county records have been, as well. Plus, we have genetic evidence, which is rarely wrong. I took a DNA test from 23andMe back in the spring, and I learned a lot from the results that the company gave me. But, over time, I have learned so much more by using my raw data and various utilities available on the web. Today I’m going to share with you what I have learned about two of our ancestors using the software from GedMatch.
Using the “One-to-Many” kit matching utility, I was able to find a very close genetic relative. We’ll call her “Bev.” Brief discussions showed us that our most recent common ancestors were Myrtle Crider’s grandparents, James A. Crider (1834-1875) and his wife, Elvina Tennessee Thurmond (also spelled Thurman) (1836-1915). Using our kit numbers, I did a “One-to-One” scan to show me where Bev and I matched. It turns out we matched in several places:
|Chr||Start Location||End Location||Centimorgans (cM)||SNPs|
Now comes the fun part! (You can click on any of the images to see a larger version).
I decided to concentrate on the largest matching segments, and so I started with Chromosome 2 (above). I used the Admixture utility — Eurogenes K9 edition — to create a “chromosome painting” for both of us (which gives us a color-coded map of our genetic admixture on each chromosome), and then I compared the segments where we matched. We all get half of each chromosome from our father and the other half from our mother. I’m not sure what to think about this one. My first inclination is to say that the top portion of our chromosomes is too mismatched to be the same (even taking into account the fact that we don’t all inherit the same amount of everything). I’m leaning towards a match in the blue area, which is strictly Northern European.
Next up: Chromosome 4. This one is easy! Using the admixture key, we can see that the only areas that Bev and I share are the blue ones — Northern European. So, I know that I got this blue segment of my DNA from my father, who got it from his father (Bill Copeland), who got it from his mother (Myrtle Crider), who got it from her father, (Hub Crider), who got it from his father or mother (James Crider or Elvina Thurmond). This makes sense, given that we know that the Criders were originally Kreiders and came from Germany. Elvina’s ancestry is more opaque, but we might still learn something about her in this exercise.
Moving on to Chromosome 19. Whoa! What a mess! I’m still trying to figure this one out. It seems to me that our matching segment is the top portion of each of our chromosomes (despite the fact that it is not a perfect match). You can see that we both have a combination of Caucasus, Southwest Asian, and Mediterranean, with a few scraps of yellow, which is North Amerindian (Native American), and a tiny strip of South Asian (the red) right at the very top. Native American DNA typically includes Asian markers because that is where their ancestors originated. It’s called “genetic drift” and Roberta Estes, author of the blog, DNAeXplained (which is fantastic), gives a good summary of how it works. She writes,
There is no line in the sand very often between populations. There are generally only degrees of difference. So in the case of Native American, which is yellow on this chart, we also expect to see it “drift back in time” by being found in conjunction with Siberian (putty), South Asian (red) and East Asian (emerald green). Native Americans were not dropped from alien spaceships, they evolved over time from these other Asian populations, so we would expect to see some of their genetics in Native American people.
So, we can see that Bev got more of everything than I did on Chromosome 19, but it seems unlikely that we would both have this admixture in the same place without it being a match. We can say with some certainty that, whoever this individual was, he or she had a very interesting combination of ancestors with both Native American and Mediterranean roots. Could this be Elvina? We will definitely need more information (and more genetic cousins) to make a firm judgment about that.
The last sample I chose was on Chromosome 21. Well, this one is pretty obvious, isn’t it? Besides a few tiny flecks of color at the top of my chromosome, I am pretty much entirely Northern European on this segment. My genetic cousin, Bev, however, has an interesting mix of Caucasus, East Asian, and North Amerindian. So, we can definitively say that the matching portion of this segment is European, though we don’t know for sure whether it was James Crider or Elvina Thurmond who gave it to us.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about your ancestors. Genetics is opening up entirely new avenues of research for genealogists, and we are discovering new and exciting ways to use our DNA every day. I like to think that each of these little bits of color are like portraits of our ancestors, carried in a secret code that is passed from parent to child, making each one of us a living gallery. Our ancestors are not only names and dates, they are part of the blueprint that makes us who we are — for better or for worse!