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Way too many 2nd-4th cousins -- searching for needles in the haystack. Endogamy?

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  • Way too many 2nd-4th cousins -- searching for needles in the haystack. Endogamy?

    I have 1413 matches at the 2nd-4th cousin level (and more than 5000 beyond that). I have only been able to verify links to 5 of these matches out of the 1413 (only one verified on my mother's side). My three "close relatives" on my father's side I was able to verify immediately. I have paper and/or oral knowledge of 31 out of 32 GGG-grandparents, so I know which names to be searching and have been trying to work through these names and places methodically with not much success in verification. Many of my matches DO contain the surnames I'm seeking, but they are much further back -- 8-10 or so generations instead of 5 or 6 -- and many times the same match will have surnames (too far back to identify) from both my father's side and my mother's side. My father was from an Irish (Ulster area) family from the "Irish Ridge" area of OH -- with a couple of German and English individuals in the mix (almost all northern US, primarily OH, once they crossed the water). He is no longer living. My mother's ancestors have almost all been in the southern US for more than 200 years, though at least one born in TN fought for the north in the Civil War -- so there could be an earlier northern connection. The surnames of her family are primarily Scottish, English, and Irish, though I can't trace any of them back to the water. My mother's DNA results come back as primarily "British Isles" (no surprise), but she does not consent to matching. Other family members are equally skittish about DNA testing, although they have been more than helpful from memory and/or paper trail. Were the Ulster Irish or Scottish an endogamous population, causing my cousin relationships to appear much closer than they really are? I don't even know that my mother's side was Ulster Irish or Scottish like my dad's -- just suspecting based on places listed from surnames and matches. How do I sort out which are the closer cousins and which side(s) they are on? How do I strategize beyond searching those 31 ggg-grandparent names that I have and trying to figure out who is a mutual match with my five verified links out of the over 5000 (1413 at 2nd-4th cousin level) possibilities (with only one of those verified on my mom's side)? I will not be pushing family members to do DNA testing or matching when they don't wish to do so just to make my sorting easier. (I value my relationships with my living relatives!) Thanks in advance for any advice! I'm grateful for the help!

  • #2
    One thing you could do to sort your match list is to create or upload a tree to your FTDNA account, include your parents in the tree, and link your mother to her place in that tree (and the other existing known paternal relatives in your match list to their places in the tree). This is done through the Family Matching Feature. It will sort your matches, showing maternal and paternal tabs to view your matches, as well as adding a maternal or paternal icon to many matches in your main match list.

    The catch for you is that since your mother has not agreed to matching, she should not be showing in your match list, and therefore won't show up in your myFamilyTree to link there. You may want to ask her if she will accept sharing, if only for a short while, limited to "immediate" relatives, which includes Parent/child plus a few other immediate relationships. If she will agree to that, you can set her account 's "Privacy & Sharing" preferences in her account settings (hover over the name at the top right, when logged in to the account, and select Account Settings; then choose Privacy & Sharing tab and choose "Immediate Only" for Family Finder match levels). If she will not allow that, at least you have some paternal relatives who you can connect to your tree and filter (phase) your paternal matches.

    Roberta Estes' has a couple of pages about using the Family Matching Feature, which include which relatives will work with it:
    Family Tree DNA Introduces Phased Family Finder Matches
    and
    Additional Relatives Added to Phased Family Matches at Family Tree DNA

    From the above pages, known relatives who can be linked to use the Family Matching Feature (if they have tested at FTDNA or transferred to FTDNA) and are in your match list, include: Parent(s), Aunts, Uncles, First Cousins, Grandparents, Half siblings, Half “other relatives” such as aunts, uncles, first cousins, etc., Second Cousins, Third Cousins, Great-great-grandparents, Great-grandparents, Grand uncles, Grand aunts, Great-grandaunts, Great-granduncles. I post that list only for your reference for the known relatives of yours who have already tested, since you have determined that your other family members are skittish about testing.

    If your mother's ancestors have mostly been in the southern U.S. for over 200 years, it would seem to me that your matches who are descended from those ancestors would be estimated as more distant relationships, unless (as you suggest) there is a real possibility of endogamy. Sorting your matches may help you see a pattern. Any population which marries within the same ethnic, cultural, social, religious or tribal group will have endogamy. So, if your mother's ancestors for the past 200 years lived in the same small community and intermarried, that will effect the relationship estimates of your matches.

    FTDNA recently updated their myFamilyTree, and it has been having some issues. There are several threads about it. But eventually the issues should be fixed, so have patience and see if this helps you.

    You are doing well by having researched back to almost all of your third great-grandparents, and obtaining and recording the memories and knowledge from your relatives. DNA matching works best when you have done your genealogy research.

    I have 1413 matches at the 2nd-4th cousin level (and more than 5000 beyond that). I have only been able to verify links to 5 of these matches out of the 1413 (only one verified on my mother's side).

    My three "close relatives" on my father's side I was able to verify immediately. I have paper and/or oral knowledge of 31 out of 32 GGG-grandparents, so I know which names to be searching and have been trying to work through these names and places methodically with not much success in verification. Many of my matches DO contain the surnames I'm seeking, but they are much further back -- 8-10 or so generations instead of 5 or 6 -- and many times the same match will have surnames (too far back to identify) from both my father's side and my mother's side.

    My father was from an Irish (Ulster area) family from the "Irish Ridge" area of OH -- with a couple of German and English individuals in the mix (almost all northern US, primarily OH, once they crossed the water). He is no longer living.

    My mother's ancestors have almost all been in the southern US for more than 200 years, though at least one born in TN fought for the north in the Civil War -- so there could be an earlier northern connection. The surnames of her family are primarily Scottish, English, and Irish, though I can't trace any of them back to the water. My mother's DNA results come back as primarily "British Isles" (no surprise), but she does not consent to matching. Other family members are equally skittish about DNA testing, although they have been more than helpful from memory and/or paper trail.
    • Were the Ulster Irish or Scottish an endogamous population, causing my cousin relationships to appear much closer than they really are? I don't even know that my mother's side was Ulster Irish or Scottish like my dad's -- just suspecting based on places listed from surnames and matches.
    • How do I sort out which are the closer cousins and which side(s) they are on?
    • How do I strategize beyond searching those 31 ggg-grandparent names that I have and trying to figure out who is a mutual match with my five verified links out of the over 5000 (1413 at 2nd-4th cousin level) possibilities (with only one of those verified on my mom's side)?

    I will not be pushing family members to do DNA testing or matching when they don't wish to do so just to make my sorting easier. (I value my relationships with my living relatives!) Thanks in advance for any advice! I'm grateful for the help!
    Last edited by KATM; 4th January 2020, 03:15 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks so much KATM! Could x-match help or hinder in this quest to sort out my plethora of cousins? I have x-match confusion. I have a confirmed 2nd cousin once removed on my father's side (descended from my gg-grandfather, his g-grandfather, paternal line only). As I would expect, he is not an x-match. (His daughter, my confirmed 3rd cousin is my x-match.) There are more than two generations of males in that direct line. However, a number of individuals I can't place who are a common match between him and me are x-matches, even though this is my (and his) direct paternal line. Are these common x-matches between him and me probably linked to me in two different ways or do I just not understand x-match at all? Many of my father's relatives are from the same area of east-central OH for many generations. Is this suggesting more evidence for my "endogamous population" hypothesis or am I not understanding? Once again, I'm grateful for the time you put in to help me learn!

      addendum: I've found another cousin on my mom's side (by chance, whew!) with the only common ancestor that I can find to me 11 generations back. She is also a match to known cousins on my dad's side -- though I can't find the common ancestor. (Of course, I figure we're all cousins if we go back far enough!) I just believe some of these distant ancestors are skewing my results to make it appear that I have more 3rd cousins than is possible with normal human procreation -- and it is making my sorting process a challenge!
      Last edited by Walls; 4th January 2020, 05:54 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        FTDNA will show people as an X-match who match you on the X chromosome with as little as 1 cM shared, and only if you also match them on the autosomes (chromosomes 1-22). A rule of thumb for your X matches is that the largest segment shared should be twice what you would consider minimum for an autosomal match. In general, it is recommended that autosomal matches share a minimum largest segment size of 7-15 cM, so for a match on the X, that would be roughly 15-30 cM minimum.

        Some good articles about X-matching are:
        It would be helpful for you to plot out the ancestors from whom you could inherit any X chromosome segments. This will narrow down the possibilities, and prevent you from considering false X matches. There are charts at:Check out the comments and links for all the above links.

        Males and females have different inheritance patterns on the X chromosome, which is described in the articles above, and seen on the charts listed above. Men get only one X chromosome, from their mothers, and only pass it to their daughters - NOT their sons. So your confirmed 3rd cousin, daughter of your male 2nd cousin, got one X chromosome from her father (your 2nd cousin), which he got from his mother. Since the common line of ancestry for your female 3rd cousin and you goes through her paternal line, and her X chromosome was not inherited from that line, then her X match with you should be false (unless you are also related to her via the male 2nd cousin's mother, her paternal grandmother). How big is the segment that the 3rd cousin shares with you on the X?

        It is easy to get confused about all this, so take your time and review as needed.

        I'm not sure if endogamy would apply in the case of your father's Ohio relatives, unless you have evidence that they lived in a close community (perhaps via religion?) who intermarried for generations. If it wasn't an isolated community, and you have evidence of the individuals coming from unrelated families, then it's unlikely there was endogamy.

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        • #5
          Thanks! I'm working my way through the articles about the x chromosome and endogamy.

          My third cousin on my direct paternal line who matches me on the X chromosome shares 2.21 cM with me. Is this enough to be significant, or is it just noise?

          My father's family was primarily in the same area of OH ever since they immigrated. They were Irish Methodists (probably already leaning Methodist before it split from the Church of Ireland in early 1800's) who fought for the Irish Rebellion in 1798 then immigrated to the US, built the Methodist church at "Irish Ridge" and married other Irish immigrant Methodists (with Scots- Irish surnames as opposed to Irish-Irish surnames) for three out of the first four generations. His family were almost always buried in the Methodist church graveyards in the same three counties in OH. Even back in Northern Ireland the family cemetery is with the Methodist church, so Methodism seemed to be the family religion on both sides of the water for several generations. My father's mother's family (that included some English and German) were also Methodists from the same area in OH. There were also what the family called "sojourners" (my ggg-grandparents, gg-grandfather, g-grandfather, and grandparents) who lived extended years of their lives in travel trailers in Wyoming and Nebraska, Colorado and Arizona herding sheep and doing mechanic work -- but always returned to the same area in OH to marry and bury with family in Methodist churches and graveyards -- except for some cousins who eventually quit returning to OH and settled in NE. In more recent generations most of those family members became members of the Church of Christ. Ohio was always considered home base for my dad's family, notwithstanding their periods of years in the western US. Dad's family is the easiest to trace through paper and graveyards because they almost all come from the same place for many, many generations -- and because they kept up with each other pretty well.

          Yes, my mom's side were all southerners for 200 years -- but they were all over the place in the south -- has been much more of an effort to chase those graveyards and paper trails. Mom's side seems to have a heavy Scots-Irish proportion based on surnames.

          Mom's maternal lines have all been members of churches of Christ for many generations, some coming from TN to TX. (They fought for the North in the Civil War. A park ranger at Shiloh battlefield told me they were part of an enclave in TN where much of the county fought for the North.)

          Mom's father was a Southern Baptist. I don't know about ancestors before him. That is my "silent" line of my four grandparents and has required the most paper research.

          Thanks again for your advice with my "too many cousins" conundrum!

          Comment


          • #6
            KATM: Many thanks for providing all of the links for the X. I have bookmarked for future reference.

            "Very occasionally double recombination will occur......." written in Jared Smith's link, X Chromosome Recombinations Impact on DNA Genealogy, was new information to me. His article did a good job of explaining the variables of the X.
            Last edited by Biblioteque; 5th January 2020, 07:16 AM.

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            • #7
              Walls, thanks for the background on your family history. Very interesting! It seems like your father's side is the more likely to have endogamy.
              At 2.21 cM, whether the largest segment or the only segment on the X chromosome, I say that is noise. She may have a good amount otherwise shared with you on Chr. 1-22, but that's not enough on the X to be a real X match. She is not part of the same X inheritance line as you, anyway, which is more reason to ignore it. Plot out your ancestors and hers on an X inheritance chart to visualize it, in case I've misunderstood her relationship to you.

              Biblioteque, I don't think I'd absorbed that bullet point by Jared Smith in the past, and will have to ponder it more. That article is packed with information about the X chromosome!

              On the topic of endogamy, I should mention that I have many, many matches with Maltese roots. Since Malta is a country with three small populated islands, endogamy is no doubt the reason for these matches (even with invasions and migrations). In my case, the Maltese ancestry is from my maternal grandmother, as both her parents had parents and generations beyond from Malta. I have had some success tracing her father's ancestry, but less so for her mother's, so for most of these Maltese-connected matches, it's very hard to find the connection so far.
              Last edited by KATM; 5th January 2020, 09:29 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks a ton KATM!

                I've made it through all the links you included and have used some charts to plot who should be a real X match and who shouldn't. It was really helpful. I still haven't verified any new matches, or really had any success in untangling my overwhelming number of listed 2nd-4th cousin relationships, but I'm pretty certain that endogamy is part of the answer and part of the challenge! At least I feel like I have some strategies once the family tree part of the website starts cooperating a little more reliably (and once we are able to search surnames again in that.)

                Not related to genealogy, but regarding Malta -- we just visited there last month after having worked a semester in Italy. Malta is an absolutely charming place (particularly the Rabat/Mdina area). The linguistic mix there is fascinating. I hope you have been -- or will be able to go in the future. I can certainly see why Malta would be a rather good example of an endogamous population. I wish you absolutely the best -- and thanks again for all the links you provided -- and I'll check back on and off to look for more info on strategies for managing exceedingly large numbers of cousins. I can't thank you enough for the time you've devoted to answering questions!

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                • #9
                  Hi Walls,
                  You are very welcome, and I'm glad what I posted was of help to you. There is so much to learn about DNA for genealogy. I came across another post by Robert Estes on endogamy: "Concepts – Endogamy and DNA Segments," which gives visual examples of how endogamy shows up in chromosome browsers, comparing one non-endogamous to two endogamous examples. I will have to find the time to try that out with some of my matches.

                  I haven't been to Malta, but among other places, I would like to visit there. My mother and father went there as part of a vacation in the 1990s, but at that time didn't have the family history information needed to visit the places where my mother's ancestors had lived. Although I've found out a lot, I still don't really have the specific locations for those ancestors. I should put the item of Maltese research on my 2020 resolution list. It will entail mailing off for some certificates and pedigree research, to start. Thanks for relating your impressions of Malta.

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