Vol. 4 No. 1 Jan/Feb 2011
From the Director - Why We Need Phasing
An event from December: I receive an e-mail from a woman who shares a matching autosomal DNA segment with me and she excitedly states that she has found our common ancestor, Jean deJarnette. I find this equally exciting since I haven't had a match for this line yet, and because this Huguenot ancestor was born in 1680. I always appreciate matches from the 1600's that buck the odds because this is more distant than the average confidence level of fifth-cousins. Anyhow, I was still reveling in the excitement of the match when I received another e-mail from the same woman, but this time, it is addressed to my mother. My elation bubble burst instantly because my deJarnette ancestor is on my father's side and not my mother's.
Phasing DNA can prevent such an occurrence from happening. Dr. Whit Athey, has manually phased his autosomal DNA and that of his family's so when a match comes in, he immediately knows whether it is on his mother's side of the family or his father's. Whit says, "Phasing alone doesn't tell you which side of the family a match is coming from. It takes phasing plus known cousin matches to do it, but it can provide not just which side, but exactly which GRANDparent the matching segment came through. In the example you gave, having your chromosomes phased (alone) would not have told you which side of your family the match was on--you would still need to compare to one of your parents to know which side of the family the match was on. I have this all worked out for my family, but I still need to look at whether or not my mother matches a new possible cousin. A yes/no answer on that, plus the pattern of matches with my siblings, tells me which grandparent a segment came through."
It took Whit working about eight hours a day over a month to complete the task which is not something we non-scientist genealogists could easily do; but thankfully, he is working on ways to automate it.
Several DNA companies are also considering implementing phasing. One of the benefits of doing so would be that inherited diseases could be traced within families which would be helpful to companies that deal with disease-risk like 23andMe. Whit calls these "smart family histories" and he notes that, "If you have a grandparent with a heritable disease, but you didn't receive any DNA from that grandparent in the region of the chromosome where the disease is controlled, then you don't need to worry about it." Whit's phasing technique requires four siblings plus at least one parent. You can read his phasing article in the Fall 2010 Journal of Genetic Genealogy.
Phasing can eliminate the guesswork of which side of the family the common ancestor originated from with an end result of saving us from chasing the wrong paper trail. And that alone is enough of a reason as to why we need phasing.
New Native American Haplogroup Identified
Once again, the contributions of genetic genealogy hobbyists have advanced science. Utilizing Family Tree DNA's "Walk Through the Y" test and a good genealogical paper trail, a new Native American Y-chromosome haplogroup has been identified. The full story of the discovery can be found here. Congratulations to Roberta Estes and all the others who contributed to this finding.
Second season of U.S. version of "Who Do You Think You Are?"
The second season of the popular television series, "Who Do You Think You Are?" debuted in January on @ 8-9 p.m. on NBC.
And in February 2011, on the side of the Atlantic where it all started, the Who Do You Think You Are? - LIVE! conference was hosted in Olympia, London on 25-27 Feb. The conference boasts the largest DNA venue in the UK. The DNA Workshop was sponsored by Family Tree DNA who additionally had a large stall there that was staffed by company President, Bennett Greenspan and Vice-President, Max Blankfeld. ISOGG also had a stall staffed by ISOGG Regional Coordinator for England and Wales, Brian Swann, and a host of other volunteers from the UK and USA including Debbie Kennett, Derrell Oakley Teat, Amber Burnett, Candy Campise, Sue Curd, Rebecca Starr, Vicki Perry, and James Irvine. Many thanks to those volunteers for putting their time and efforts into promoting genetic genealogy at the world's largest family history conference!
Family Finder Success for the Family of North Dakota's First Democrat Senator
by Joe Fox
For years, I’ve been trying to trace the ancestry of my all-female line great grandmother, Anne Euphemia Roach. All I had was some 1860 census data for Washington, DC, that seemed to identify her family with Edward as the father but gave only the first name for the mother. I had posted this information on Rootsweb but had gotten no replies.
Then, a month ago, I was contacted by a projected 5th cousin in Family Finder. The match was 11.5 cM on the longest block but we had several surnames in common. Turns out that the match is probably in our Cooper ancestry back in Ireland before 1745 – at least 6 generations back. His Coopers had come over later but there were given names and wives surnames that matched.
But, in addition, he had already noted that he had several matches with people who gave Roach as one of their family surnames – even though he had not yet identified a Roach ancestor for himself. So he had been tracing the Roach family back in St. Mary’s County, MD, and in Washington, DC, and was able to give me the name of Edward Roach’s wife, which was Catherine Manning, from Loudoun County, VA. A little snooping around on Google led me to a posting on Ancestry.com that described what appeared to be the same family. This, in turn led me to look up William Nathaniel Roach, US Senator from North Dakota from 1893 to 1899, who turned out to be Anne Euphemia Roach’s brother. I went back to the Ancestry.com posting, contacted the sender, and now have access to the Manning family tree – which is quite impressive. I’ve also taken my all-female line back another 2 generations to Euphemia Lacy Manning of Paeonian Springs, Loudoun County, VA.
The lesson I get from this is that it pays to follow up on some of these more remote surname connections. No telling what might develop. I also learned why my great aunt, who was my mother’s family genealogist, had failed to document her own mother’s family tree. It seems that William Nathaniel Roach, her uncle, was once the cashier of a bank in Virginia whose funds he was diverting into the stock market for himself. He was rescued by family connections who paid off his losses and he then moved out to North Dakota to start a new life – successful enough to become the first Democrat elected senator from that state.
For more DNA success stories or to submit yours, visit:
DNA in the News
DNA undermines notorious murder case - The Detroit News - 21 Feb 2011
Amelia Earhart Spit Samples to Help Lick Mystery? - National Geographic - 18 Feb 2011
The Icelandic Riddle - The Northern Pen - 31 Jan 2011
Family Roots: Newer DNA Tests Uncover Hidden Jewish Bloodlines - The Jewish Daily Forward - 18 Jan 2011
DNA uncovers King ancestry - S2S Magazine.com - 17 Jan 2011
DNA test urged to see if Lincoln's assassin escaped death - The UK Daily Telegraph - 27 Dec 2010
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