Increasing “In Common With” (ICW) Functionality at Family Tree DNA

You know how Murphy’s Law works, right? Right after I wrote the article Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA, as in minutes later (Ok, that’s probably an exaggeration), Family Tree DNA made a ch…

Source: Increasing “In Common With” (ICW) Functionality at Family Tree DNA


New 23andMe Experience – In a Word, Disappointing

A very frank look at the 23andme “New Experience” from a leader in genetic genealogy.

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Almost a year after the 23andMe “new experience” was promised “shortly” and then subsequently promised by 2015 year end, it’s finally here. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s September of 2016. I could have gestated a baby in less time. However, let’s take a look at the new experience process and features. I’m going to record each step in this new experience since I’ve finally transitioned.

Unfortunately, the new experience began with the 23andMe system either being very slow or not working at all, so I’ve pieced this together from several attempts over a couple of weeks. You’d think for as much as the new test costs, $199, twice that of their competitors and their own old test, they could at least have a reasonable system response time. If that happens as fast as the New Experience, it will be another year. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times…

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The Stranger in my Genes – A DNA Test That Changed a Life

You never know what you will find in your Genes. They don’t lie. Sometimes you have to prod them a bit, but it’s there waiting for you.

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Bill Griffeth, anchor of CNBC’s Closing Bell, and now author of the book, “The Stranger in My Genes” had something startling to say in a recent interview:

“My father wasn’t my father….and I blame this man…Max Blankfeld.”

No, Max isn’t Bill’s father, but Max is the COO of Family Tree DNA, established in the year 2000, the company that ran Bill’s DNA test.


You can watch this great interview here.

This is absolutely wonderful exposure for DNA testing, whether for heritage, ethnicity or genealogy and yes, to see if your Y DNA matches the line you think it will. Using DNA to confirm your family lineages is something every genealogist should do.

After the initial, shocking, finding, Bill wanted a second opinion, so he ordered a second test from the National Geographic Society’s Genographic project. The results confirmed that Bill’s original test was correct. It was only afterwards that Bill discovered…

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New Step in the Journey

I originally started my genetic research to answer some questions about my paternal family.  I got that information, and have since discovered multitudes of Reynolds DNA matches.  In fact, they have become so commonplace that I seldom follow up on new ones.  I have traced the Reynolds family back to 1530 through DNA matches and several genealogical books written on the Reynolds family.  It is a huge, huge family with roots in the Quaker immigrants from England.  In fact, I even found out that my 8th great grandfather is my husbands 10th great grandfather on his mother’s mother’s side. So what next? I knew that my maternal grandfather was born in England and I connected with a cousin years ago that gave me several generations information about his family.  My maternal grandmother was born in Washington, and her grandparents immigrated from Canada, and have traced them back to Ireland.  But there are two mysteries in that family; my great grandmother and 2nd great grandmother.  The pictures of my great grandmother haunt me.  She looks so sad and lost, that I just feel her crying out to me.

My journey to find the family of my great grandmother, Jenny Canniff has been full of ups and downs.  A little review here…  My great grandmother was born Lydia Jane Canniff in 1862 and orphaned 6 years later.  She was raised  from age 9 to 19 with the Isaac Fox family in Hastings, Ontario.  There is no record of where she was from age 6 to 9, no birth record and no death record for her parents.  I have visited the Family History Library in Utah and came away empty handed after help from their Ontario expert.  There just happens to be no birth records for the area for her year, and no death records for when her parents supposedly died. She is presumed to have a brother who was living with another family near the Fox’s in the same years, but there is no proof of a connection between then yet.

I have one solid DNA 2 or 3rd cousin in the Canniff family, and a couple other distant cousins.  Charles, my nephew has a few different Canniff matches.  I have started a separate Canniff tree based originally on books written on the Canniff family of Ontario, Canada, and adding the genealogical information from my Canniff cousins.  I feel like I have made great strides with these efforts, identifying the common ancestors of these different Canniff families as John/Jonas Canniff b. 1723 and Marietje Tietsoort, b. 1726, and narrowed down the next generation to Abraham T. Canniff 1770, and James/Jonas Canniff 1765.  Of course, my direct ancestor may be the other brother John 1757.

In tracing all these families down the lines, I have identified other cousins by the names of Flagler and Clapp.  The Flagler DNA connections have come back unidentified, and the Clapp, lo and behold showed up in a Reynolds match! This was very discouraging, but I’ve not lost hope.  So there is a possibility that these Canniff DNA matches could also be from my Reynolds line and not my great grandmother’s Canniff’s line.

So, what is next?  I’m not giving up.  I have ordered FTDNA’s Full Sequence mtDNA test.  Our maternal haplogroup is passed down from mother to daughter over the generations  virually unchanged.  This should confirm which side of the family that my Canniff matches exist on.  It will at least give me more clues.

I will write later about the presumed brother of Lydia Jane, Jonas Canniff.  He has a mysterious past that parallels hers nearly identically, yet there is no real connection between the two.


Upcoming Ancestry DNA Update – Urgent!!!

Urgent, act immediately or you could loose a lot of information.

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

This article is very quick and dirty because it’s all that I can do at the moment and you need to have this information NOW! Please read the entire article because you’ll find instructions at the end. Yes, I know this is very short warning, but please do not shoot the messenger.  I started typing the minute tonight’s conference call was over, literally.

Ancestry was kind enough to hold a second conference call about their upcoming changes this evening with the bloggers group. The first call during Rootstech let us know changes were coming.  Tonight we received more details.

This is not the end of the world and not a repeat of Autosomalgeddon that occurred when people lost 80-90% of their matches when Timber was introduced.

Let’s get the bad news over with so we can move on.

The Bad News

  • You will lose some matches.
  • Ancestry indicated that no one lost…

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Concepts – Parental Phasing

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

I recently used a technique called parental phasing as part of the proof that one Curtis Lore found in Pennsylvania was the same person as Curtis Benjamin Lore, found later in Indiana.  Given that I’ve already used parental phasing as part of a proof argument, I’d like to break it down further and explain the concepts behind parental phasing, what it is, why it is so important, and why it works so well.

For those of you who don’t have at least one parent available to test, I’m truly sorry, and not just because of the lost DNA opportunity. But please do read this article, because you may be able to substitute other family members and derive at least some of the benefits, although clearly not all.

What is Parental Phasing?

The fundamental concept of parental phasing is that the only way you can obtain your DNA is through one or the other of…

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Concepts – How Your Autosomal DNA Identifies Your Ancestors

This is a reblog of a great article from the blog DNA-explained. Long, but worth the read to help us understand autosomal DNA.

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Welcome to the concepts articles. This series presents the concepts of genetic genealogy, not the details.  I have written a lot of detailed articles, and I’ve linked to them for those of you who want more.  My suggestion would be to read this article once, entirely, all the way through to understand the concepts with continuity of thought, then go back and reread and click through to other articles if you are interested.

All of autosomal genetic genealogy is based on these concepts of inheritance and matching, so if you don’t understand these, you won’t understand your matches, how they work, why, or how to interpret what they do or don’t tell you.

The Question 

Someone sent me this question about autosomal DNA matching.

“I do not quite understand how the profiles can be identified to an ancestor since that person is not among us to provide DNA material for “testing”…

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