52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 15:
DNA

My Experience with DNA

I tested my DNA with Ancestry.com DNA back in 2013. My expectations were high. I presumed the results would tell me more about my ancestors origins and put me in touch with cousins also interested in family research. But, for me, the DNA test results have been somewhat interesting, but not particularly useful.

Ethnicity Results

My Ancestry.com DNA ethnicity results originally indicated my DNA is about 86% British Isles. This was a bit disappointing since about half my immigrant ancestors came from Germany. But, that’s how DNA works. Over the years Ancestry has modified their ethnicity calculator and I am now a combined 95% “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe” and “Ireland & Scotland.” This is more satisfying to me since “Northwestern Europe” per Ancestry’s definition includes Germany, France and Switzerland. Plus, I now have a 2% “Germanic Europe.”

I also transferred my Ancestry raw DNA file to GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA (FTDNA no longer offers this option) and it was interesting to see the different results versus Ancestry. At FTDNA I was 58% “Western and Central European” and 12% “British Isles.” Now I am 64% “Western and Central European” and 33% “British Isles” at FTDNA. Again, the updated report is closer to my known ancestry. Gedmatch reporting indicates a combined 60% for “North Sea” and “Atlantic,” which is roughly British Isles and western Europe. The tiny trace amounts of American Indian and Oceanic reported by GEDmatch are interesting, but probably meaningless.

Why the difference between the three companies? You need to read each company’s white papers to learn how they collect and use regional DNA data, and self reporting of genealogy by the participants, to develop their comparison profiles to determine geographic heritage for testers. Bottom line, differences between testing companies exist and that is why DNA testing to determine ancestral geographic origins should be viewed skeptically and backed up with a document trail.

In Closing

I continue to read articles about using DNA for genealogy and I regularly check for new matches. You never know when a match may help break down a brick wall or lead to some new discovery about an ancestor. But, it seems a good deal depends on the quality of research performed by those I match. I currently have over 58,000 matches on Ancestry.com, 1700+ are considered “close,” that’s 4th cousin, or closer. It’s overwhelming to try and look at this many matches, so I focus on those with the most shared DNA (centiMorgans) and that have linked trees of more than 50 ancestors.

Ancestry has a new DNA comparison feature called “ThruLines” that I hope will help me break down my brick walls, I’ll blog if does. But, again, a lot depends on the research performed by other participants. If you tested with Ancestry, please link your tree and keep adding to it regularly! In the meantime, if I am one of your matches, I am happy to help break down your brick walls.

Frank Takeo Flucawa

Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.

David L. Osborne: His Indianapolis Homes

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.

The Marriage of David and Jennie Osborne

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.

Do You See A Resemblance?

While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.

Probate of Jesse King 1868

Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.

Letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary

A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.

Laferre to LaFara: Unusual Name

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.

Admiral Byrd: I’d Like to Meet…

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 4: I’d Like to Meet…
Richard E. Byrd, my sixth cousin, 3 times removed, was a famous aviator, in 1929 he flew to the South Pole. His story inspired me when I was young.

Luella Pressell: Surprise!

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.

Rumple Family Photo 1895

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 8: Family Photo
For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one in particular I found very informative.

Conrad Rumple: Bachelor Uncle

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.

George Lafary and Catherine Landon: Large Family

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 11: Large Family
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.

In The Paper

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.

Genealogy Brick Walls

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.

Catherine Landon: Out of Place

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 16: Out of Place
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.

Immigrant Ancestors, Fresh Start

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week1: Fresh Start.
The varied reasons my European ancestors immigrated to North America for a fresh start.

William and Uva Lafara: Favorite Photo

I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.

Close to Home

My grandparents. Earl and Pearl, met at church, close to home, in 1914,

So Far Away

My great-uncle Frank immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1905 to further his education, so far away

Same Name

I get excited when I discover an ancestor with the same name as a friend, or co-worker, or neighbor. Maybe we are related!