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  • What now? Am I at a dead end?

    There's always been a suspicion in my family that my paternal grandfather was not the biological son of his known father. I had my grandfather take the autosomal DNA test, not for this reason, but there were some oddities in his ethnicity report and matches - which is not conclusive, of course, but enough to make me want to dig deeper.

    So I had my dad take the 67 marker Y-DNA test (I didn't want to try to explain to my 90 year old grandfather why I was asking him to take another DNA test) and the results came in. He has ONE 37 marker match at a genetic distance of 4. That's it.

    This match does have a different surname from ours so there was likely a non-paternity event somewhere in either our line or his, right? But I feel like there's not enough info to say which one or approximately how recent it was. Am I at a dead end, at least until my dad gets more matches that come in? Would it be worth creating a descendant tree for the paternal ancestor (b 1755) listed for this match, to see if any direct male descendants wound up in the right place at the right time for my grandfather's birth?

    Am I right in assuming there would be no point in upgrading to more markers, since he doesn't have any matches at 67 markers anyway?

    So frustrating - I really thought he would have at least a few matches and if they all had the same surname but different from ours, that would be pretty conclusive. Even just two matches with the same surname would have been beneficial. But ONE match, and at a distance of 4... it feels like I just wasted about $200 (I ordered it on sale at least).

  • #2
    Originally posted by Germanica View Post
    but there were some oddities in his ethnicity report
    ...
    He has ONE 37 marker match at a genetic distance of 4.
    ...
    This match does have a different surname from ours so there was likely a non-paternity event somewhere in either our line or his, right?
    Ethnicity is a key here.

    Among Central-Eastern Europeans, a lone 33/37 match is not that unusual, and does not in itself imply an NPE. But I suspect that among Western Europeans (and especially British or Irish), having only one 33/37 match is so unusual as to suggest an NPE. In fact, the biological ancestor may well be Central-Eastern European!

    Perhaps your first step would be to join the appropriate haplogroup project, and ask the administrator whether your 67-marker results suggest a particular ethnicity. If so, your next step would be to join the appropriate geographical project and ask for further guidance.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Germanica View Post
      . . . So frustrating - I really thought he would have at least a few matches and if they all had the same surname but different from ours, that would be pretty conclusive. Even just two matches with the same surname would have been beneficial. But ONE match, and at a distance of 4... it feels like I just wasted about $200 (I ordered it on sale at least).
      You're doing better than many of us. Ten years on and I got a big fat zilcho of matches of any description. My closest are 12 at 67, but since they're from all different subclades many thousands of years apart from each other, they're all meaningless. Complete waste of money.

      But them's the breaks, I guess.

      You could try the autosomal route. It's not the easy route. Especially if you're talking about an in-family adoption scenario, which is quite often the case. But at least you're not pinning all your hopes on like 0.00000000000000000000001% of your genome.

      Good luck.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by lgmayka View Post
        Ethnicity is a key here.

        Among Central-Eastern Europeans, a lone 33/37 match is not that unusual, and does not in itself imply an NPE. But I suspect that among Western Europeans (and especially British or Irish), having only one 33/37 match is so unusual as to suggest an NPE. In fact, the biological ancestor may well be Central-Eastern European!
        My grandfather's known paternal line is supposed to be German - it's a German surname, and I have traced them back to Saxony. They immigrated to PA in the mid 19th century.

        The guy who matches my dad also appears to have a German paternal line, but different surname, and his most recent paternal ancestor arrived in Virginia in the 18th century.

        The oddities in my grandfather's autosomal ethnicity report are that on paper, he should be wholly German (or Swiss) and British. But at Ancestry.com, he has 10% Caucasus in his DNA results, which has no known overlap with West/Central Europe or Britain.

        Perhaps your first step would be to join the appropriate haplogroup project, and ask the administrator whether your 67-marker results suggest a particular ethnicity. If so, your next step would be to join the appropriate geographical project and ask for further guidance.
        Thanks, I will do that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Frederator View Post
          You're doing better than many of us. Ten years on and I got a big fat zilcho of matches of any description. My closest are 12 at 67, but since they're from all different subclades many thousands of years apart from each other, they're all meaningless. Complete waste of money.

          But them's the breaks, I guess.
          Wow, I didn't know this was so common - I guess with the expense and it being specific to one line, it doesn't appeal to many people unless they are looking for something specific like me.

          You could try the autosomal route. It's not the easy route. Especially if you're talking about an in-family adoption scenario, which is quite often the case. But at least you're not pinning all your hopes on like 0.00000000000000000000001% of your genome.

          Good luck.
          I have been working on that - I narrowed my focus to his closest autosomal matches, managed to rule out his top 6 matches as being on his mother's side. The first match that I couldn't link to his mother's side (or his fathers), I looked for shared matches who had any of the same ancestors as that match and found a shared ancestor among them that my grandfather's current tree doesn't include. I built a descendant tree from that ancestor, but the trouble is that this ancestor settled in Berks County, PA in colonial times, which is where my grandfather was born, and most of the descendants stayed in that area. So there's about 40-some descendants of this ancestor who were old enough males living in the right place at the time my grandfather would have been conceived/born. It doesn't exactly narrow it down.

          I am working on doing this process for another ancestor, in hopes that I will strike gold and find a common descendant for both ancestors, which would be highly suggestive. This is why I wondered if it would be worth it to do a descendant tree for the Y match's ancestor - if one of the descendants was also a descendant of the autosomal match's ancestor, that too would be very beneficial. But I didn't know if it was more likely that the Y match was too distant to be useful and I'd be wasting my time doing this.

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          • #6
            Have you any living male cousins/uncles? It seems that if you tested another first cousin's Y DNA they'd match your Dad. If you are right where the NPE comes in, then a second cousin would presumably not match him but should pick up the surname you were looking for (unless there were other NPEs). If you can find a third cousin from another branch you could confirm this and Family Finder tests would help confirm this.

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            • #7
              So I had my dad take the 67 marker Y-DNA test (I didn't want to try to explain to my 90 year old grandfather why I was asking him to take another DNA test) and the results came in. He has ONE 37 marker match at a genetic distance of 4. That's it.
              As explained by FTDNA, a 33/37 match between two men who share a common surname (or variant) means they may share a common male ancestor. You don't share that surname but it doesn't mean that you are not related, sometimes people change their name to hide, to adhere to the local culture, by clerical mistake.

              This relationship should be confirmed with additional testing. The only way to confirm the relationship is to test additional family lines and to find where the mutations took place. you seem the have an idea, so i would recommend to do as CONAT said. By testing additional family lines, you can find the person in between. This ‘in betweener’ is essential for you to find.

              Good luck

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              • #8
                Instead of focusing on building a tree on a distant Y-DNA match why don't you build a tree for your grandfather's father? Find a direct male descendant from further back to see if your family matches. Did your grandfather's father have any brother's or uncles that have direct male descendants? Do you have any autosomal DNA matches to any of your grandfather's father's family? Why would you say that DNA testing is a waste of money? Yes, if you just give up and wait for some random match it probably is.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Conat View Post
                  Have you any living male cousins/uncles? It seems that if you tested another first cousin's Y DNA they'd match your Dad. If you are right where the NPE comes in, then a second cousin would presumably not match him but should pick up the surname you were looking for (unless there were other NPEs).
                  Originally posted by travers View Post
                  Instead of focusing on building a tree on a distant Y-DNA match why don't you build a tree for your grandfather's father? Find a direct male descendant from further back to see if your family matches. Did your grandfather's father have any brother's or uncles that have direct male descendants?
                  I have tried - it's difficult because my great grandfather did not have any brothers (nor did my grandfather - not that it matters because we suspect both he and his sister were not the biological children of their father). So I'd have to go another generation back to my 2nd great grandfather - who did have two brothers, but one of them did not have any children. The other had two sons, but one of them again had no children, and the other I haven't been able to research.

                  If I go back another generation to my 3rd great grandfather, he had three brothers, but two have been impossible to research - the third had several sons (finally) and I have tried to research all their direct male descendants, but I have not been able to get in touch with any of them. Either because I have struck out in finding current contact info for living people, or because they don't respond. I have sent messages on Ancestry.com to any tree owners who have these direct male descendants in their tree and have never gotten a response.

                  The 4th great grandfather is the one who immigrated to PA in the mid 1850s, so if he had any brothers back in Germany, I don't know about them.

                  So unless something changes regarding finding current contact info and getting responses, I have exhausted this route to the best of my ability.

                  Originally posted by Conat View Post
                  If you can find a third cousin from another branch you could confirm this and Family Finder tests would help confirm this.
                  I have also tried to contact other descendants for the autosomal DNA test and one got back to me but basically didn't seem very interested in taking the test and I didn't want to push it.

                  Originally posted by travers View Post
                  Do you have any autosomal DNA matches to any of your grandfather's father's family?
                  No - I mean, obviously my grandfather must have matches on his biological father's side but none of them share ancestry with his believed paternal family. All his matches I can identify are on his mother's side. That's why I managed to build a descendant tree of the MRCA shared between his closest matches I could find who I determined were not from his mother's side. But as I said, they all pretty much stayed in Berks County/Reading area, which is where my grandfather was born. I've narrowed to down to about 40 possible men, but of course this is assuming my grandfather was not the biological son of his father, and I haven't even been able to determine if that's true or not.

                  Why would you say that DNA testing is a waste of money? Yes, if you just give up and wait for some random match it probably is.
                  I don't know about you but $200 is a reasonable sum of money and unless something changes, it's really not helped me. I'm not really sure what else I can do but wait and hope the right people test. I've gotten some good suggestions, and I thank everyone for that, but I've already tried researching every other direct male descendant and just hit dead ends. I've tried autosomal DNA, which has given me some leads and clues, but nothing conclusive. I've tried contacting other descendants about taking the autosomal DNA test and just hit more dead ends. I've tried creating descendant trees of possible ancestors to determine who could have been my grandfather's biological father (if not his known father) and found too many possibilities to be helpful. Please understand I've been pursuing this for YEARS and just hit dead end after dead end. I hoped the Y-DNA would finally give me something more conclusive, but no, I've just hit another dead end. And this time, it's cost me $200. So forgive me for being a little frustrated and feeling like I'm never going to get an answer about this. It's not like I've done nothing but have my dad take the Y-DNA, and I haven't given up - but really, what else can I do? Is it worth uploading to ysearch.org? I heard it's sort of defunct now.

                  I greatly appreciate everyone trying to help, and I will follow all suggestions that I haven't already exhausted (and please, if anyone has any other suggestions, please share and I will pursue them too), but it just seems like of the suggestions that are left, it's still not going to be conclusive. So what else can I do but wait and hope the right people happen to take the test? As you rightfully point out, there's a slim chance of that happening, and therefore I can see no other conclusion but to think the Y-DNA test was a waste of money, in this particular case.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I feel your pain - I took the Y-37 test to find out who my grandfather was but never got any definitive results, eventually cracking it by going back and reworking the paper trail. I also don't have any paternal second cousins to test and there may be third cousins out there but the trail goes cold trying to get the family back to Ireland. However, I don't regret taking the test - the results are always out there and eventually someone close enough to get a decent hit will test or the autosomal DNA will help us track down third or fourth cousins. I am jut resigned to the fact that it is going to take some time.

                    Unfortunately, the advise on here has to be... generic and you've clearly got a lot of the angles covered the angles covered.

                    Someone might have some better ideas, but some quick thoughts:

                    You are in the same boat as a lot of adoptees - some get the newsworthy quick breakthroughs, but others have to really grind the evidence to get their answers.
                    http://dnaadoption.com/

                    Odds are that somewhere in your autosomal results are people from the other side of the brickwall. If you can eliminate other close matches through triangulation from testing cousins (any sex, which opens up the number of potential testees) then it should give you a few groups of possibilities. It is worth contacting the most likely ones as I've had some luck with known cousins getting tested, which really narrows your search down and may even help you find a suitable male to test.

                    If they lived in a specific area it might be worth contacting any local history groups and/or posting on any forums dedicated to the area.

                    And get your family tree out there, you never know what distant cousins it might get out of the woodwork - I've had a number of distant cousins (and cousins of cousins) contacting me, so you never know. Ancestry and Geni.com seem the most likely to get the most eyeballs.

                    All just hooks in the water, but you never know what you might catch.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Don't forget the twin virtues of patience and persistence!

                      I have been posting occasional queries on the RootsWeb/Ancestry message boards for many years, always including my real e-mail address, which I have kept since I first signed up with AOL. I get responses from time to time, to queries at least 10 years old. Long lost family branches have been able to find me because of my internet presence (extensive genealogies, essays on research problems, etc.). Within the past month, I was contacted by a branch of my McDougall family that had eluded me for at least 20 years -- a case of a young girl "left behind" and informally adopted when the family moved from Illinois to Iowa in the 1850's! Also, I freely share the resources I have collected over the years. I find I'm able to help many of the people who contact me, and they usually are happy to share with me, too.

                      The point here is that you have to take the long view in genealogy, whether genetic or traditional. The longer you stick with it, the more astounding the results will be, and the more you will savor the eventual successes.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Conat View Post
                        I feel your pain - I took the Y-37 test to find out who my grandfather was but never got any definitive results, eventually cracking it by going back and reworking the paper trail. I also don't have any paternal second cousins to test and there may be third cousins out there but the trail goes cold trying to get the family back to Ireland. However, I don't regret taking the test - the results are always out there and eventually someone close enough to get a decent hit will test or the autosomal DNA will help us track down third or fourth cousins. I am jut resigned to the fact that it is going to take some time.

                        Unfortunately, the advise on here has to be... generic and you've clearly got a lot of the angles covered the angles covered.

                        Someone might have some better ideas, but some quick thoughts:

                        You are in the same boat as a lot of adoptees - some get the newsworthy quick breakthroughs, but others have to really grind the evidence to get their answers.
                        http://dnaadoption.com/

                        Odds are that somewhere in your autosomal results are people from the other side of the brickwall. If you can eliminate other close matches through triangulation from testing cousins (any sex, which opens up the number of potential testees) then it should give you a few groups of possibilities. It is worth contacting the most likely ones as I've had some luck with known cousins getting tested, which really narrows your search down and may even help you find a suitable male to test.

                        If they lived in a specific area it might be worth contacting any local history groups and/or posting on any forums dedicated to the area.

                        And get your family tree out there, you never know what distant cousins it might get out of the woodwork - I've had a number of distant cousins (and cousins of cousins) contacting me, so you never know. Ancestry and Geni.com seem the most likely to get the most eyeballs.

                        All just hooks in the water, but you never know what you might catch.
                        Thanks, I have my tree on Ancestry.com, FTDNA, and MyHeritage/23andMe.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Germanica View Post
                          Thanks, I have my tree on Ancestry.com, FTDNA, and MyHeritage/23andMe.
                          You can use SmartCopy to bring it over into Geni.com (you have to have a Pro account but the free 14 day trail will help):
                          https://www.geni.com/projects/SmartCopy/18783

                          The advantage of that is a) you can import your DNA and b) it has a good search engine ranking.

                          John McCoy is right, throw as many hooks in the water and see how it goes. Perhaps take a break and come with refreshed eyes. Tracking down my grandfather took a succession of cousins nearly 25 years to crack and it had to wait for the recent release of the 1939 Register.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Germanica View Post
                            Thanks, I have my tree on Ancestry.com, FTDNA, and MyHeritage/23andMe.
                            Where did you have your grandfather tested when you tested his autosomal DNA? I know you don't want to keep throwing money at the mystery but you should test both your grandfather (if you haven't already) and his sister (if she is alive) at Ancestry then upload both to gedmatch and transfer here too (if/when they resume transfers). Unfortunately at this point I'd say the odds of a significant random Y-DNA match coming in is slim as the public at large seem to be only hearing about autosomal DNA and most are starting to only go that route.

                            Yes, I would try uploading your father's Y-DNA to ysearch and see if there is anything closer in the way of matches there. Your best bet to get a Y-DNA match is to target somebody and ask them to test. I know you've said you've tried this but every once in awhile I would look again to see if there are any other possible direct male descendants to test Y-DNA or a close relative through a female or male line that you could have tested with an autosomal DNA test. Sometimes new records or a new tree might pop up on Ancestry or elsewhere that might lead you to a person you might be able to DNA test and potentially find your answer. Unfortunately I do think though you might run into a problem in identifying who your grandparent's father is. If you are able to determine the man that he thought was his father isn't and you don't have any good leads on who his father actually was it will be very difficult to determine. But as far as figuring out if his father was actually his biological father you could figure that out through DNA if you have the right person tested to compare to.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by travers View Post
                              Where did you have your grandfather tested when you tested his autosomal DNA?
                              He tested at Ancestry.com and then I transferred his results to Gedmatch and FTDNA - so the only one he's not on is 23andMe. I tested myself at 23andMe before the price went up but I'm not willing to spend $199 on just another autosomal DNA test.

                              I know you don't want to keep throwing money at the mystery but you should test both your grandfather (if you haven't already) and his sister (if she is alive) at Ancestry then upload both to gedmatch and transfer here too (if/when they resume transfers). Unfortunately at this point I'd say the odds of a significant random Y-DNA match coming in is slim as the public at large seem to be only hearing about autosomal DNA and most are starting to only go that route.
                              I hadn't considered testing his sister - she lives in another state though so I'd have to get her daughter to help her do it, that's if she's willing. I'll ask though, thanks. Only trouble is, FTDNA is still not accepting transfers from Ancestry after their upgrade. Since they never updated with 23andMe's new chip, I'm doubtful they ever will for Ancestry too, though I know they claim they're working on. I have a feeling it's never going to happen.

                              Yes, I would try uploading your father's Y-DNA to ysearch and see if there is anything closer in the way of matches there.
                              Thanks, I will.

                              Your best bet to get a Y-DNA match is to target somebody and ask them to test. I know you've said you've tried this but every once in awhile I would look again to see if there are any other possible direct male descendants to test Y-DNA or a close relative through a female or male line that you could have tested with an autosomal DNA test.
                              I do periodically go back to it - in fact, prompted by all this, I just did so recently.

                              Comment

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