Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning about DNA

I've been meaning to write something about my DNA results for a while now. My husband got me an AncestryDNA kit for my birthday this year. Below is a screen-shot of my ethnicity pie chart that I posted to Instagram the day I was notified that the results were ready. Has anyone else seen anything like this for their own DNA?  I'm told that these Autosomal DNA tests can only find relatively close connections and that they won't show ethnic background more than a few generations back.  While it seems logical that most of my ancestors came from the British Isles, I'm pretty certain that one pair of my 6th g-grandparents was born in Germany. Ancestry adds this comment to the DNA page and they do use the word "Beta" to describe the project:

This may update over time as new genetic signatures are discovered.

I still don't understand much about DNA, and the Ancestry information is pretty minimal. They do allow the download of the raw data from my test and I have also uploaded that to GedMatch where they have lots of tools for analyzing my results.  Unfortunately, I don't understand those either, but I hope to someday! 

Ancestry has been great for finding distant cousins.  One match they made was to a relative of my paternal grandmother, so I see that connection as a confirmation that the test was accurate since those genealogies are mostly accepted as fact.  I have also made a connection to the descendants of one of my 2nd g-grandmother's 1st husband, a man she married long after her children were born.  That was exciting because I had suspected that he might be my ancestor!

Something else I have learned is that it looks pretty obvious that I am related by blood to my grandmother's husband. I had been told that my mom probably didn't have the same father as her brother and sisters and that was the reason my grandmother disappeared sometime after 1939. (Be sure to read the biography I wrote for my mom if you are interested in more information about this family story.) When I view the matches that has found for me, I have several connections to people with trees that contain members of the Lilly family, which was also the family of my grandmother's husband, George Shrewsbury.  If George was not my grandfather, then it must have been a relative of his.  My mom had once mentioned the name Bedford Lilly as someone she had been told was her father.  There was a Bedford Lilly who lived with George Shrewsbury's brother's family when the 1920 census was taken.  He was listed as a boarder.  I haven't been able to find out who Bedford's parents were, though.  I'll have to keep looking and maybe I'll discover exactly who my mother's father really was! 

I will write more about this subject as I learn more!

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