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  • General questions re DNA "clues"

    I have a general question on trying to formulate avenues of research based on the surnames or trees that appear on those that shared basic info in the Family Finder Results section.

    I have only 15 matches (old chip), and all are 5th to distant cousins. I've noticed a couple of things in common with several of my "relatives." One, that a few have Polish or German ancestry (not surprising, as that is in line with grandparents and great grandparents).

    However, there are a few who have British Isles (English, Irish, Scots) sounding surnames, even some with ancestors SOLELY in UK, and who have provided trees or surnames. And an interesting thing to note is that several of these people have Colonial ancestors from the SOUTHERN states (NC, SC, and VA).

    Could these multiple connections to southern states be telling me in a very subtle way that some of the answers to the holes in my family tree might be found in the southern Colonial states, rather than New England? I have a huge brick wall in the late 1700s that I've exhausted New England possibilities for. I'm wondering if I should start looking south.

    (I know I'm grasping at straws here without complete trees or anything more than a list of surnames, but I'm noticing some similar trends with some connections at 23 and Me as well.)

    When you have little to go on, what is the best way to piece all of the really subtle clues together?
    Last edited by DeeTyler; 26 February 2011, 08:21 PM.

  • #2
    The English used German's mercenaries a lot. I believe that parts of Poland were German speaking also. My mothers, mother family traces back to a Scottish General in the British Army. He lived in the south but was in battles in the north before the Revolution. If he could cover that much ground back than I would say its possible for anyone to do the same providing that they had money or were in the Military or was a sailor. Do you have any clues that point to the south besides your FF matches and 23andme matches having a connection to the south?

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    • #3
      Your conjecture could be very possible. However, as you know, predicted 5th cousins are mostly coincidental, 4th cousins is really the limit for the test. It could certainly be the case that your matches reflect some conserved segments that go back a few hundred years, and so, even if these people are not your 5th cousins, they could be more distant relatives. But these segments could be much more ancient and go back to the UK or Europe in general, and so they need not indicate a Southern origin.

      As usual, when one gets to the limit of the test's power, there is so much one can do - one can formulate reasonable theories, but the test is not able to verify them.

      cacio

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      • #4
        Originally posted by EdwardRHill View Post
        The English used German's mercenaries a lot. I believe that parts of Poland were German speaking also. My mothers, mother family traces back to a Scottish General in the British Army. He lived in the south but was in battles in the north before the Revolution. If he could cover that much ground back than I would say its possible for anyone to do the same providing that they had money or were in the Military or was a sailor. Do you have any clues that point to the south besides your FF matches and 23andme matches having a connection to the south?
        Well, there is a VERY intriguing possibility.

        We have four generations of John Tyler's in our tree, starting in 1669 and ending in 1780. We do not match genetically with any of the other known descendants of the Tyler immigrant, and in fact are an entirely different haplogroup (we are R1a, vs R1b as the Job Tyler descendants are).

        We have:

        John Tyler b 1669 MA; his wife was from Boston, and they were later in Charlestown, MA where their son (following) was born. HE WAS a Mariner, so it might be highly likely that he sailed to SC and VA. However, he died in MA, his will DOES mention that he gave a silver headed cane to his son John, in addition to what he already gave him, but doesn't mention where his son lived at the time.

        John Tyler, b 1696 Charlestown, MA. The curious thing about THIS man is that there was a small note in the beginning of the Tyler genealogy that mentioned ANOTHER John Tyler born 1696 in Charlestown, MA, whose father John "lived in Boston but died in the Carolinas. No known descendants are traced." Perhaps a coincidence ... "Our" John was a Deacon in a Congregational church.

        John Tyler, b ca 1728, no birth record found; siblings all recorded in Tolland CT; married Thankful Williams in 1773, who I have not yet been able to locate in CT or MA. I suspect Williams was her married name. THIS couple was Baptist, a stark break from his father and ancestors.

        John Tyler, b 1780, three months after his father died. I believe THIS is where the genetic break occurred, unless I can locate any connections with his mother. He and his wife were also Baptists.

        The John Tyler b 1780 married a Baker, and we HAVE confirmed a connection with Family Finder that points to her as an ancestor. She is also descended from a Stearns line. Related to her was a Stearns who removed from their town and started a Baptist movement in South Carolina, about 20 years before our "brick wall" Tyler/Williams couple married in Connecticut. Again, it might be coincidental.

        The Polish and German ancestors that we have don't come in until the 20th century with maternal lines. But being that our Y-DNA is also pointing toward Eastern European origins we may also be looking for a Germanic origin there as well.

        I may never find out, but with the pattern of VA, SC, and NC showing in several connections, it sure got me curious.
        Last edited by DeeTyler; 26 February 2011, 09:52 PM.

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        • #5
          Needle in the haystack

          A 5th to distant cousin means you share a Common Ancestor back 7 generation from you. The Common Ancestor would be a GGGG Grandparent and you will have 64 of them and that's a lot of piles of hay.

          With your FF matches being all 5th to distant cacio is right a match could be between 5th and 20th generation, more piles of hay.

          Its probably best just to wait for more FF matches. Hopefully you will come a cross one or more that will help you with your road blocks. Good Luck

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          • #6
            5th and distant

            It is hard to say a general rule. Some of us have had our best luck with 5th and distant connections. Sometimes it is because of really good family trees on both sides of a match, but sometimes it focuses attention on a place to look for records. I match someone, we have no surnames in common, but we share an area of origin or migration. You look and if you find something, you have a connection. If there is no clue or overlap, you do not spend lots of time on it.

            The 4th cousins or 3rd to 5th have been harder for me. You think you have enough info but there is no logical overlap or there are too many. I have been building down from ggg grand parents to see where all my cousins wandered and there can be thousands. You learn how mid-western immigrants from one county of German become west coast Chinese Americans or Southern Scots Irish in 5 romantic steps. And at the same time you find working backwards that those German immigrants were not be totally German either.

            And some of the remote links are real interesting. Perhaps the dead ends I would most like to understand.

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            • #7
              southern connections

              My FF matches are also mostly "5th to distant" cousins with British-sounding surnames, many of them with roots in the south.

              But with that "....to distant" qualifier, it could mean just about anything. For Americans who can trace family back to the pre-Ellis Island immigration era (I can't), a high proportion have some Scottish and Scots-Irish ancestry. This is especially true in the south.

              In my own case, those distant southern matches don't mean I have ancestors (or even close family) in the south. What it does reflect is my heritage from my Scottish immigrant father, whose family arrived in the U.S. in the 1920s.

              So I figure I am probably a very distant cousin of a whole lot of people with roots in the south!

              Dee, how recently did any of your ancestors arrive from Europe?

              Blair

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              • #8
                distant matches can be a surprising help

                I wanted to add this: I contact all my matches, because you never know what will turn up.

                I have one "5th to distant" match who wasn't just someone with Scottish roots: she still lives in Scotland.

                I told her what I knew of my family's history in Scotland. I had the details from my grandparents' Scottish wedding record, which I shared. Within a day, she had done research and pushed back my family tree another 3 generations and to another city in Scotland. (We still haven't found our own connection.)

                So you never know where a match will lead.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Absolutely! Well said.

                  Originally posted by bkilpatrick View Post
                  I wanted to add this: I contact all my matches, because you never know what will turn up.

                  I have one "5th to distant" match who wasn't just someone with Scottish roots: she still lives in Scotland.

                  I told her what I knew of my family's history in Scotland. I had the details from my grandparents' Scottish wedding record, which I shared. Within a day, she had done research and pushed back my family tree another 3 generations and to another city in Scotland. (We still haven't found our own connection.)

                  So you never know where a match will lead.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bkilpatrick View Post
                    My FF matches are also mostly "5th to distant" cousins with British-sounding surnames, many of them with roots in the south.

                    But with that "....to distant" qualifier, it could mean just about anything. For Americans who can trace family back to the pre-Ellis Island immigration era (I can't), a high proportion have some Scottish and Scots-Irish ancestry. This is especially true in the south.

                    In my own case, those distant southern matches don't mean I have ancestors (or even close family) in the south. What it does reflect is my heritage from my Scottish immigrant father, whose family arrived in the U.S. in the 1920s.

                    So I figure I am probably a very distant cousin of a whole lot of people with roots in the south!

                    Dee, how recently did any of your ancestors arrive from Europe?

                    Blair
                    Depends on which area of Europe ...

                    If I go back to 2nd great grandparent generation (16 ancestors) my breakdown is as follows:

                    8 Sicilian ancestors out of 16 (arrival being grandparents)

                    4 Polish ancestors out of 16 (arrival with great grandparents)

                    2 German ancestors out of 16 (arrival with 2nd great grandparents)

                    2 Colonial, supposedly British Isles ancestors out of 16 - one being our paternal line, the other being his spouse. The spouse's ancestral line goes back to Boston in 1635, with the origin of the family being England. HOWEVER the surname is VERY "German" sounding (HUNN). And our paternal line surname is up in the air, because our DNA doesn't match the immigrant ancestor proven by our "paper trail." A genetic link to the HUNN grandmother has been traced via DNA "cousins." So she's a sure thing and I've got her tree pretty well fleshed out. And at least one DNA cousin connects with her husband's MOTHER, indicating that the break probably occurs with the generation born in 1780.

                    So, of my 16 2nd great grandparents, I only have ONE whose ancestry isn't fleshed out. Take that back two more generations, and it only amounts to 4 of those 64 piles of hay. Not quite as bad as it sounds. 8-)
                    Last edited by DeeTyler; 27 March 2011, 04:49 PM.

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                    • #11
                      If this offers anything further, Dodecad gives following:

                      40.4% North European
                      29.4% South European
                      19.6% West Asian
                      9.6% Southwest Asian
                      .8% West African
                      .2% Northeast Asian

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