One of my early atDNA matches was on Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA suggested that GV and I were probably 4th cousins. He had some Roberts in his tree, but I figured that there was only a one in 32 chance that our match was on his Roberts ancestor. There was another person, MA, who shared the exact same segment of DNA with GV and me. If I could find the common ancestor between GV and MA, because of triangulation of the same segment matching, we’d know the common ancestor they share with me. I worked to help MA develop his tree further but never found a connection for him to GV and consequently never determined a common ancestor to me.
Then, I did determine who my biological father is, connected with new half-siblings and have been exploring my new family tree. I thought back to my connections with GV and MA and wondered if I could find the link now.
I took a look at the surnames I’ve been researching and compared them with the names in GV’s tree. Sure enough, we both had a John Roberts marrying an Elizabeth Blackwell. We found our common ancestor.
His tree had my “Asa” as “Acy” but otherwise, it fit my ancestors entirely. The generations are:
GV’s Roberts Line
My Roberts Line
John Calvin & Elizabeth
John Calvin & Elizabeth
Elijah Josiah Roberts
Asa Ellis Roberts
Hugh Ellis Roberts
Bert Allen Roberts
Our common ancestors are our third great-grandparents, and we are of the same generation, so we are 4th cousins (sharing 59cM). That fits the amount of DNA we share perfectly.
GV and I have long known we are related genetically. It is just so fulfilling to finally confirm the relationship with a paper trail.
Thanks to genetic genealogy, I believe my biggest brick wall has finally been knocked down, shattered, destroyed. I now have a huge lead as to who my biological father is.
Searching for who my biological father might have always been a major purpose behind my genealogical passion. I have been trying to figure it out for decades without real success, until now.
In 2012, Y-DNA tests I took indicated that I was a “Roberts.” Family Tree DNA’s results indicated that my four closest relatives were all surnamed Roberts.
My Closest Y-DNA Matches on Family Tree DNA
% Common Ancestor is likely in 4 generations
W. A. Roberts
Has a great tree available on-line.
D. R. Roberts
Unable to Contact. Possibly deceased.
C. E. Lathem
50% likelihood in 11 generations
From this and similar results on the now defunct Ancestry Y-DNA, I surmised that my ancestor was probably a Roberts. W. A. Roberts was kind enough to share his tree with me, so I began looking closely at his ancestors’ descendants, looking for potential individuals that might have been in the right place at the right time. No success. Nothing seems to fit.
The DNA is matching!
When Ancestry began its autosomal DNA testing, I was an early adopter. When Family Tree DNA began accepting transfers of results from Ancestry DNA, I did a DNA Transfer with them. I also imported my results into GED Match. I figured that the more places you have your DNA out there, the greater the likelihood you will have a match. Maybe even a close match. No such luck. There were a few, four to 8 generations away. Some had nicely developed trees; some only had a couple generations documented. I helped some of the latter improve their trees, but nothing I found seemed to connect with the Roberts “notional tree” I was working on – Until now.
This week, I rechecked my results on Ancestry DNA and couldn’t believe the results. There was a new person, T.C.[i] who was identified as a 1st or 2nd cousin. Wow! She and I shared 313 centimorgans across 20 segments. And she has a tree that included a grandmother and great grandparents with the surname of Roberts. Could this be the breakthrough I’ve been looking for?
I added the names and the general relationships to my “Roberts Notional Tree” and took note of some of her sources. Then I began researching this potential line. If we really are 1st or 2nd cousins, then we must share a grandparent or great grandparent. I was almost giddy in my excitement. The initial problem was I didn’t see anything that fit the dates and places that my biological father needed to come from. I knew it wasn’t going to be quick, but if I researched, I might find the link I was looking for.
I found that TC’s great grandparents had five children – two girls and three boys. Any of the three boys would be the correct age to be my biological father. So, the search was on.
The first son I investigated was Bert Allen Roberts, Jr. He was born in Terre Haute, IN. He grew up there and relocated to Cleveland, OH as an adult. As I looked more and more closely at his life, I determined that he wasn’t likely.
The second son I investigated was Hugh Eugene Roberts. He was born in Detroit, MI, (like my mother) but moved to Terre Haute, IN, as a child. I found evidence that in May 1950, he was back in Detroit. From that, it is easy to surmise that he could have been in Detroit in October of 1949, when I was conceived.
The third son was J. H. Roberts[ii]. He was also born in Terre Haute. He married in 1947 in Detroit, MI. It appears that their marriage continued beyond 1950. I haven’t found much more about his life yet, but I don’t believe he is the “baby daddy” at this time.
Bert doesn’t appear to have located to Detroit.
J. H. although in Detroit at the right time was married and is a less likely candidate.
Hugh was in Detroit at about the right time and is a highly likely candidate.
I see two major directions for my research to take from here.
Research the ancestors of Bert Allen Roberts, Sr. and see if there is a connection into my known Y-DNA cousins. That would prove that the Roberts line in TC’s tree is the correct connection in her
Research the children of Hugh Eugene Roberts, contact them, and see if any of them would be willing to take a DNA test. If they are my half-siblings, as I suspect, we should share about 25% of our DNA. So, if they show up in that 787-2134 centimorgan range, I will have proven a very close relationship, probably half-siblings.
Oh, yes, also I will continue my research of this Roberts line.
Finally, am I certain that Hugh Eugene Roberts is my biological father? No, but I am certain that this finding is the biggest, best lead I’ve ever had in determining who my biological father is.
Talk about a Christmas present… Wow.
[i] In order to maintain privacy, I am only including initials of potentially living individuals.
[ii] I have been unable to find death information regarding J. H. Roberts, so I am only
Maze, near to Horningsham, Wiltshire, Great Britain
Photo by Brian Robert Marshall
via Geograph – Creative Commons License 2.0.
At times, I feel like I’m lost in a maze of DNA
possibilities. I start down what looks like it will be a great path only to
find it ends. As I mentioned before my
Y-DNA tests have resulted in many frustrations.
Tantalizing close but dead ends everywhere. I think the biggest issue with the Y-DNA
tests is it seems like no one is doing them any more. Ancestry.Com quit their
Y-DNA testing. I don’t think 23 & Me ever did Y-DNA, which only leaves Family Tree DNA. In my case I’ve only
seen one new match with them in the past year and that person was very distant
– 80% likely to have a common ancestor in 8 generations.
I turned to autosomal DNA testing to see if that would
help. It seems like that is the test
that everyone is doing. I used FamilyTree DNA for my atDNA testing. What is really cool about their system is if you
can have a parent tested as well as yourself, you can then search “FamilyFinder” for matches that match both of you and for matches that match the child
and not the one parent. In my case, this
allows for a search for potential matches to the “baby daddy.”
Because my Y-DNA testing suggested that I am most likely
descended from a “Roberts” I’ve been looking at possible Roberts connections in
atDNA test results. Again, a lot of
tantalizing paths, but dead-ends again.
Then, I found a really cool new match in my atDNA results. Looking
at only my paternal side, the two closest matches to me were matching each
other on the same chromosome in the same segments as me. Wow!
Family Finder result showing same segments on same chromosome of LV, CMA, and myself.
As I understand it, with segments this large matching, they
have to have received the segment from a common ancestor. I too have to have received the same segment
from the same common ancestor. That
means if we can figure out exactly who is their common ancestor, that ancestor
has to be common to me. (Please – someone tell me if I have it wrong.)
Anyway, one of the lines is pretty complete. [LV] has the
vast majority of ancestors identified going back 5 or 6 generations. Sadly, the other individual is new to
genealogy and only six of his 16 2nd great grandparents
identified. Family Tree DNA suggests
that this individual, I’ll call CMA, is a 2nd to 4th
cousin. First cousins share
grandparents, and 2nd cousins share great grandparents. I decided to create a new working tree and
called it atDNA tree. I added CMA to
that notional tree and added his known ancestors. He has six of his eight great
grandparents identified, so I decided to determine that ancestor for him.
It took a while but I discovered his grandmother was the
child of a second marriage of his great grandmother. I found her first name, Mary, and the surname
of her first husband quickly, but his first name and, more importantly, her
maiden name eluded me.
I found the complete family in a census record that provided
names and birth years for the children of that first marriage. I then traced those children and discovered
one of them died in 1937 and a copy of his death certificate was available on
line. That death certificate identified
both his father’s first name and his mother’s surname. Voilà – I now have the names for seven of CMA’s
eight great grandparent’s. I checked LV’s
tree, nope, not a surname match.
RAF Tilstock – Inside the Maze 2 by Broomhalla
Courtesy: Deviant Art
For the eighth one, CMA has a first name, just not a
surname. So, that will be my next task.
If I can identify the eighth person, his great grandmother Catherine, is
not related to LV, then I’ll know that none of us are second cousins and I continue
with second great grandparents to determine if we are third cousins.
My “brick wall” of learning the identity of my biological
father now has a new entrance into it. It may be the entrance into a new maze, but it
is an entrance. Entering the maze is
part of the fun of genealogy. Wish me
luck and hope I don’t get lost.
Where I am at with my Y-DNA Projects, 16 December 2014
My Wife’s Y-DNA – Ancestry
My wife’s brother tested his Y-DNA with Ancestry.Com. Because they have quit supporting Y-DNA and because I haven’t done a transfer of the Ancestry results to Family Tree DNA, there are no new results. I’ve thought about transferring his results to Family Tree DNA however, it costs $58.00 and I’m feeling broke this month. Maybe next year. Also, I’m disillusioned by my Y-DNA results (see below), so maybe not next year either. We’ll see.
Join the Genealogy Revolution. Search for your surname in the largest DNA database of its kind!
My closest hit to my DNA (89% likelihood a common ancestor in 8 generations) still hasn’t answered. So, I emailed him again last month. Still no answer. No new matches either. Sigh….
My Friend T-Roy
I’ve been helping a friend, T-Roy, with his genealogy. In particular, his paternal side is lost. We know precious little regarding his grandfather and nothing before that. Because of the many disappointments I have had with Y-DNA testing, I am reluctant to recommend that path any longer. Maybe an atDNA test will provide results. There is such a large base if atDNA test subjects.
I’ve decided to break my blogs regarding DNA testing into two groups threads. This one regarding Y-DNA and another thread regarding atDNA. That way I can track and report statuses on each of the project areas better.
Where I am at with my various DNA Projects, October 1st, 2014.
I was mightily disappointed when Ancestry quit support for their Y-DNA testing. I was surprised to see that my results and other information was still on Ancestry, but, of course, there were no new matches.
My Y-DNA Lineage from Ancestry.Com
My plan to follow my closest DNA match from Ancestry up five generations and back down five generations didn’t yield any potential candidates for the “baby daddy.” So, without any further Y-DNA matches possible through Ancestry it appears that further looking into that line is not going to be fruitful.
My Wife’s Y-DNA – Ancestry
My wife’s brother’s Ancestry Y-DNA test results are in the same state. No new matches because Ancestry has stopped supporting Y-DNA. Another promising tool that has ended in a dead end.
I definitely feel that I wasted some money with Ancestry on their Y-DNA tests. As such, I will probably never recommend Ancestry DNA Testing of any kind because of my bad experience with due to their decision to stop support of Y-DNA testing.
My closest hit to my DNA (89% likelihood a common ancestor in 8 generations) still hasn’t answered. So, I emailed him again. I did do a search for him on line and found a person with his name died a couple years ago. Not looking good for the home team. The email address for him in Family Tree DNA is pointing to another person, so it is still possible that I will be able to connect with a relative of his and possibly share information. We will see.
Again, no new connections on Family Tree DNA.
I did not do an upgrade kit for my brother-in-law so there is nothing about any connections to him in Family Tree DNA.
My Friend T-Roy
I’ve been helping a friend, T-Roy, with his genealogy. In particular his paternal side is lost. We know precious little regarding his grandfather and nothing before that. A search for his great grandparents has yielded several potential candidates, however, none are clear. I suggested that a Y-DNA test might help us find someone who is related and then be able to connect the dots from the potential candidates. We’ll see.
My Autosomal Results
There was a new “3rd” cousin identified on Ancestry. Because Ancestry doesn’t tell you anything about the match I have no idea if the match is on my mother’s line or my unknown paternal line. The individual, who is now my closest atDNA match didn’t relate their DNA to a tree so I have no idea about potential surnames. I emailed the individual and hopefully she will share her tree and other information. There were several other new matches, however, they were all 4th cousin and greater. I looked at any family trees that they have and didn’t see anything of interest.
23 and Me has been my most
successful DNA testing company that I have used so far. There are several
reasons for that. First, and foremost, I had both my mother and my DNA Tests
submitted to 23 & Me. That is a big help in determining where matches come
from. My initial plan was to use the tests to be able to discriminate matches
from my unknown father’s side from my known mother’s side of the family.
My mother’s matches:
Looking at my mother’s matches,
the closest match (excluding me) is Ronald M. with 2.3% Shared and 11 segments
in common. I was able to contact the individual and after comparing trees,
found that my mother and Ronald are second cousins, once removed. They share common
ancestors with my mom’s great grandparents (Henry & Marian (Sanford)
The next closest match to my
mother is Rick C. He and my mom share 1.61% and 10 segments. He responded to
some queries and we quickly determined his is a 1st cousin, twice
removed, from my mother. Their common ancestors are my mom’s grandparents
(Arthur D & Mary (Manning) Brown).
The 3rd closest match
is to M. C. this match was really great as it expanded our understand of a line
and broke through a “brick wall.” A review of M. C.’s tree yielded a surname
match on Blackhurst. Further investigation showed that M. C.’s ancestor, William
Stephen Blackhurst, had a sibling named Sarah who was born about the same date
as my mother’s grandmother. Another of the siblings and the father of William
and Sarah died in the same city, Albion, MI, that our Sarah lived. Further
correlation showed me that their William was, indeed, the sibling of our Sarah
and that through this connection we were able to extend the line back another
generation to our common ancestors, Stephen and Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst.
On my paternal side, matches to me and not my
mother, are much less interesting. The closest match is a male with whom I
share only four segments (.91%). I sent him an introduction but he hasn’t
responded. I’ve sent a few other individuals introductions and received no
responses from most of them. The few that have responded I have looked at their
trees, but haven’t found anything of particular interest. When less than 1%
matches, investing much time isn’t very helpful.
I recently sent a DNA kit to my half aunt (my
mother’s half sister). In a phone call last week, she indicated that she
received the kit and registered it. She said she’d have it in the mail later in
the week. They take several weeks to process so that should be interesting. With
some luck, she will have received some different segment from my mother and we
can those differences to potentially find other relatives.
As I write this GEDMatch.com website is
down. This free site has a lot of
potential and is the only place that I know if that allows you to submit your
DNA results from multiple sites. It is
an unaffiliated, volunteer, website and is in need of donations to maintain its
operation. If you use it, please donate
to them so they can keep the site in operation.
They give instructions on how to export your
autosomal DNA test results from Ancestry.Com, Family Tree DNA, and 23&Me and
you import the results into their system. Although their takes a while to process
your data and populate into their system, don’t complain about the speed. Again, did I say donate?
The X Chromosome
I’ve recently been hearing a lot about X
chromosome matching. This has really
gotten me excited and rejuvenated regarding using DNA as a method to find
I’m looking forward to using the GEDMatch
system to look at the X chromosome matches for my mom and my aunt (when her
results are received). Because one of
the X chromosomes comes from the mother
and one from the father, having both my mother and her half sister’s X results
will yield a clear look at their father’s (Clifford) X marker. My mother and my aunt should match the X
completely because the X chromosome is passed down from a person’s father
relatively unchanged. Thus, by testing
two females with the same father we can basically jump a generation. Their father, Clifford, received his X from
his mother, Mary Elizabeth Manning which is a mix of her parents, approximately
50% from each. Mary received her two X
chromosomes from each parent so Clifford has a 50-50 chance to have received
his X from his grandfather (John William Manning) and 50-50 chance from his
grandmother (Eliza Fannin). His grandfather received his X from his great
grandmother (Minerva Tolliver Mannin). If, as family legend says, Minerva was full-blooded
Cherokee, Because Clifford whould have received about 50% of his X DNA from
Minerva, we should be able to see some markers that are in common with Cherokee
people if she was, in fact, Cherokee. The other great thing about this test is
that Clifford should have also received about 25% of his X from Eliza’s parents
both of whom are unknown. It certainly has the potential to open up a whole new
area of investigation.
Using the X isn’t as clearly defining as using
the Y chromosome but it clearly can yield more definitive results than the other
22 chromosomes typically do. I am very excited about pursuing this direction. One of the really cool things about your X Chromosome inheritance is that the potential surnames follow a really clear pattern. In my case the surnames of interest are:
DNA is a helpful tool. It has the potential to break down some brick walls, as it did for my Blackhurst tree. However, it is not likely to magically solve a problem or give answers to difficult questions.
There are a number of utilities that can help understand the matches I’ll look at them in a future blog posting. In the meantime, I’ll continue my searching in this area.