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Finding Bio family for grandparent

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  • Finding Bio family for grandparent

    All of my grandparents were dead before I was born. I think it is what sparked my interest in genealogy. I have been researching using traditional methods for 20+ years. I decided to add genetic genealogy a few years ago to help with a brick wall on my paper tree. I have been focused on that project and really didn't do much with my other lines. After I solved my brick wall, I started sorting my matches. I have tested my two brothers and my mother as well as myself. I have 3 cousins on mom's side that have tested. While sorting I was able to find DNA matches outside my known family (cousins, brothers, and mom) for all of my grandparent lines except for my maternal grandfather. His was one of the first lines I researched because no one knew anything. He hopped a freight train at 14 and never returned home. He came from a large family and all the children had many children. It is odd that I can't find one match beyond our immediate family.
    It leads me to think that grandpa Paul was not the bio child of that family I have researched on paper. I should add there are a ton of DNA matches to mom that I don't have a clue how they are related.
    I have watched a ton of videos on finding bio family but they all start with 1st & 2nd cousins. I have 4th cousin matches with very few trees. To complicate matters I have found some matches are matching both my mom and dad's side. On paper that is not possible. BUT if grandpa Paul has a whole other bio family it is possible. What options do I have? I have been attempting to build trees for all of these people but that will take me an eternity. No one has responded to messages sent. I have even traveled to grandpa Paul's place of birth (at least on paper) trying to get more information. I didn't find anything new. It is 5 states away. sigh!
    I know there is a lot I don't know about genetic genealogy but I am willing to learn. Any thoughts or suggestions?

  • #2
    When you say you have DNA matches, could I ask what type of DNA tests were these matches on?
    - Y-DNA / Autosomal / mtDNA ?

    I think autosomal is good for about five generations back to find cousins of different sorts, but you don't have much DNA left to work with when you go further back. As per the chart below from https://www.familytreedna.com/img/fa...percentage.jpg whatpercentage.jpg
    ‚Äč
    You probably have already come across https://dnapainter.com/tools/sharedcmv4 which helps to work out where they might fit in based on Centimorgan amounts.

    Personally I have not got much out of mtDNA (FMS) tests (I manage about 6 kits) as I didn't have any maternal links to confirm, it just told me the halopgroup which was a large common one, and even with a genetic distance of 0, it can go back many many hundreds of years without much help, as the surname generally changes every generation. For others though it can be very helpful to confirm a recent maternal link.

    I know when I did a Y-DNA (111) test, I got absolutely nothing on any level, nothing on even Y12. So it also depends if others have also taken the same test yet or not - if you get results. If not it can be a waiting game for them to come into the system. Since I was the only one like me in the entire FTDNA Y-DNA database, when a match did eventually come about - it was a very obvious match - and it proved my paternal lineage way back. Since then have upgraded both kits to Big Y and confirmed haplogroup and got a SNP. Now just have to interpret and work through all of the information in Big Y land....

    But Y-DNA is the one top do if you wish to see if there are any surnames that might come up as a match or confirm possibly who they might be linked to paternally, test at highest level can afford. You might already know all this stuff I have mentioned? Anyway - all the best with your searching....

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    • #3
      Originally posted by junior tx View Post
      I have tested my two brothers and my mother as well as myself. I have 3 cousins on mom's side that have tested. While sorting I was able to find DNA matches outside my known family (cousins, brothers, and mom) for all of my grandparent lines except for my maternal grandfather. His was one of the first lines I researched because no one knew anything. He hopped a freight train at 14 and never returned home. He came from a large family and all the children had many children. It is odd that I can't find one match beyond our immediate family.
      It leads me to think that grandpa Paul was not the bio child of that family I have researched on paper. I should add there are a ton of DNA matches to mom that I don't have a clue how they are related.
      I don't know when your maternal grandfather lived, but have you found him on census records, at least with his birth family? Is it possible to find church records, or birth, marriage, or death records for him?

      Also, for traditional "paper" genealogy:
      1. It is wise to trace down the descendants of your maternal grandfather's siblings, and even any of his cousins that you know he had (called "collateral relatives"). These are the people who may show up matches, if they do take a DNA test for genealogy, or simply to find their ethnic origins.
      2. In league with this, it is important to upload as thorough a family tree as you can (upload a .ged file, GEDCOM) to any site at which you've tested, and for all the relatives you've tested. That way, your matches can view them and may see a connection and contact you.
      3. Make sure you have a surname list for all relatives tested, which you can add in the Account Settings at FTDNA, and make sure you enter your earliest known ancestor for your direct maternal and paternal lines (explained on the same Account Settings page in the Learning Center).

      As for DNA:

      Y-DNA:
      1. Did your maternal grandfather have any sons? In other words, does your mother have any brothers by the same father as hers?
      2. If the answer to that is yes, are any of the 3 cousins on your mother's side descended from a son of this grandfather? If so, you could order a Y-37 test for one of them to find out the predicted haplogroup, and see if he gets any matches with the expected surname (look for a sale at FTDNA; there have been sales in August in the past).
      3. If there is a male direct descendant of your maternal grandfather who can test his Y-DNA: once he has received his results, you could then have him join projects for it, such as a Y-DNA haplogroup or surname project. You can then ask advice from the project administrators about further testing, or grouping with particular surnames.
      atDNA (Family Finder):
      1. Have you (and your relatives) tested only at FTDNA? You can transfer your FTDNA raw data file to MyHeritage, and also test at 23andMe and Ancestry, to "fish in all ponds." This will give you matches that haven't tested at FTDNA.
      2. Alternatively, upload your file (and with their permission, your relatives' files) to GEDmatch.com, which accepts files from the different DNA testing companies. That way you will see some of the matches from the other companies.
      3. Always read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies of any company or third party service that you are considering using.
      Last edited by KATM; 19 July 2020, 11:43 AM.

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      • #4
        I manage all the kits for our family and extended family. I use dnapainter regularly. I have been able to verify my traditional paper tree using matches outside of my immediate family (I include 1st & 2nd cousins in my immediate family because I know who they are and only have 7) for all of my grandparent lines except my Maternal grandfather. Everyone above my generation is dead with no DNA tests on file with the exception of my mother. We all have these matches (about 20%) that have no common ancestors listed in spite of the fact that many of the matches have extensive well-built trees. There is a large percentage of those matches that are all in Louisianna for many, many generations. We don't have a single known person in our tree that lived or was from Louisianna. Almost all of the mystery matches are in Louisianna exclusively. My maternal grandfather was from Kentucky and his surname goes back in Kentucky as far as I have been able to trace. I am fortunate that his surname is made up (or at least the spelling is) and we are the only people in the country that have this spelling. I know them well because I have been researching this stand alone name for 20+ years.
        The tests we have done are autosomal. I have a brother who is doing a Y test for me but since this is my maternal grandfather it won't impact this issue at all. I am hoping someone will be able to offer some sort of strategic plan for figuring this out. I have done triangulation on gedmatch but those are for my other lines, not my mystery line. I have done trees for people who had an unknown father but they were living -meaning in modern times there is more of a paper trail for people. Paul was born in 1894 or 1897 (depending on what records you look at) and died in 1961. Because he left home at 14 there is a lot we don't know. My mom never knew anything about his family not even the names of his siblings or parents.
        Has anyone tried to find a bio family with no information other than 4th cousin matches? If so, what did you do?

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