DNA Down Under – un alpabetising the cemetery list

Why Patsy’s Paddocks? I do like alliterations and I’ve always known fields as paddocks. Following Victorian land selections is one way of following my family history and this has often meant following the history of paddocks I rode across as a kid. Who was the elusive William Campbell of Campbell’s paddock? Why was Farie spelt that way? Paddocks are also confining. A reminder to keep my mind focused on the current research. Not let my mind wander. This resolve has blown apart these last two weeks. The autumn leaves have been picked up and scattered by the leaves. The cemetery list looks like a random walk through the years.

First. Thank you Alan Phillips for organising the conference. Timing it over the break between the AFL Home and Away season and the Finals was brilliant. I only have a few days now to fret about Geelong’s fragility around Finals.
Thank you Ancestry. A session that had its difficult part but handled calmly and professionally. Well done.
Thank you Blaine for lasting the distance. The Visual Phasing presentation was excellent. But I remain scarred by believing a couple of years ago a salesman’s pitch that Chromsome 22 was the place to start. It wasn’t. Nor was Chromosome 21. Nor was Chromosome 20. Just as well there were 23 chromosomes to practice on.

Visual Phasing

It occurred to me in preparing for this conference that those little black boxes called genealogy software and where mischievous gremlins reside are also paddocks of a kind. I open the gate and push information in. It’s sometimes like pushing old ewes through a gate that wasn’t there yesterday. It may take a while to get the input in the format before its accepted but mostly it works. I close the input gate and open the output gate. And suddenly I have created a report or something pretty:

  • a Family Group Report
  • a family chart or two or more
  • a Y700 Block Tree
  • a completed Visual Phasing Spreadsheet & accompanying DNA Painter chart and/or
  • a clusters chart leading into a Network chart

But my Legacy program can’t cope with all of that. Or can it? Should it?
I can argue a case that a family chart is a special instance of a network.
But I don’t think I want to do that. Remember. I like paddocks. I like compartments.
My family software is settled. My understanding of it is settled. I shall leave it be.


My DNA moves faster than I can keep up. I want to keep it in its own pen in the sheep yard until I am comfortable with it. Which won’t be any time soon. Because there is so much to think about, absorb, rearrange, revisit and catalogue as a consequence of DNA Down Under.

AncestryDNA: more traditional research required

Traditional Sources

AncestryDNA seems to have provided two things for me. The first is confirmation of the family research I have already done. DNA’s independence from traditional family history sources gives my family research additional surety. But do I really need that extra surety? Not really. The second thing AncestryDNA has provided me is heaps and heaps of traditional family history research. It’s not as if I haven’t enough family research from my pre DNA days that still require attention. AncestryDNA has just dumped hundreds upon hundreds of matches associated with my DNA tests and left me with no apparent guidance or control over how I process all these matches.
Why is this so? It’s because, in my usual fashion, I have delved deep into my DNA matches without considering the overall picture. The danger here is that my AncestryDNA system or model doesn’t fit my reality. I am looking for grass in the wrong paddock.
Ancestry announced last November that it has now sold 14 million DNA kits worldwide. AncestryDNA’s marketing is obviously working. Ancestry is selling something that the market wants. I have even submitted DNA samples for testing myself. Ancestry sold me something I though I wanted. It wasn’t confirmation of the research I’ve already done. It’s not about controlling how I select a small group of matches from the thousands of matches.
AncestryDNA provides hope. We provide DNA samples in the hope that the results will solve all our family history brick walls. For we all have brick walls. Starting out on our family history journey we may only have two – our natural parents. Now, my six generation fan chart hides at least ten brick walls. Which brick wall should I research first?
There is something else going on with AncestryDNA (or autosomal matches more generally). Another case where I’ve been in the wrong paddock.
Family history is the history of family relationships.
I can build my fan chart using the relationships child to father and child to mother. When I create a family tree I am creating a network where family members come together. My family tree is a special kind of network. It is quite different than the Melbourne tram network and quite different the relationship of plants in a dry sclerophyll forest.
The family relationships that define my family tree are well understood.
Family tree software uses the relationships of child to parents in my family file to build and chart family trees. Too often I focus on the timeline of an individual within my family tree. It is the relationships of one individual to another that drives the basic structure of a family tree database. The ability to add a life story of each individual in that family tree is just an added bonus to the basic purpose of having a family tree database.
DNA matches are about relationships.
A family tree requires more than one person. A tree of a single person tells me nothing about that person’s family relationships. My AncestryDNA test alone tells me nothing about my potential family relationships. I need DNA matches to show DNA relationships. In an ideal world I would start using DNA matches in the same way I have always used child to parent relationships to build my family tree. There are two problems with using my method of building my fan chart with a number of interlocking child to parent relationships. Firstly, DNA tests can only be provided by living people. Secondly, an AncestryDNA match gives some indication of the possible relationship but not the actual relationship.
More information is required. If the two parties to the match have family trees linked to the tests this may be sufficient. But I’m finding for second cousins and more remote relatives it just means more traditional family research, a great deal more, to find the information to confirm the relationship suggested by the DNA match.
Then there are the instances where hope is dashed. Where the Ancestry family trees don’t provide the solution to the possible DNA match. Nor does further traditional family history research. Do we see instances of hopes dashed in AncestryDNA advertising? Of course not.
AncestryDNA does the difficult. For the rest, it’s business as normal for family historians. More research is required. It takes us a little time to uncover those serendipity moments where the walls come tumbling down.

Ethnicity Estimates

Phased Chromosome 21

When some of us started researching our family history we were advised to start with ourselves, then confirm our links to our parents, grandparents and so on up our family tree.
Based on our family stories, photographs and the written records we had we developed our research plan, one that was often focused on looking for more information about a favourite ancestor.
In doing so we used a variety of sources.
Now we have another source to add to our toolbox – DNA – and just as we planned our traditional family research plan so too can we plan our DNA research plan.
Just as in the past we scraped and saved to purchase the next birth, marriage or death certificate so too we should be saving up to purchase the next DNA test in our DNA research plan.
Not to have a DNA plan leaves us open to being flooded with hundreds of supposed DNA matches that in general have little, if any, application to our DNA research plan. We are looking for specific matches – those with other researchers who have ancestors, or an ancestor, in common with ourselves.
The first step in our DNA research plan is to avoid those bright shiny objects that pass across our eyes and distract us.
The first bright shiny object is DNA advice provided by the medical profession. In our role as family historians we are not entitled to provide medical advice. Consequently, the DNA we use for our family history research is quite separate from that used for medical purposes.
The second beguiling object that floats across our eyes is DNA used for anthropological purposes.
For example, it has been exciting to read the research that found evidence of human occupation in northern Australia by 65,000 years ago (see Chris Clarkson et al “Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago” Nature 547 306-310 (20 July 2017).
But do such discoveries help us conquer our own brick walls? The discovery in northern Australia was dated by reference to the fluorescence in the sand in which the discovery was made. Where is the link from our DNA today back to DNA of 65,000 years ago.
However, what is important to note about such discoveries is that they are made at a point in time.
When we think about our own ethnicity are we looking at one point in time?
When I look at myself:
My Parents were born in Australia. Is my ethnicity 100% Australian?
Six of my great grandparents were born in Australia. Two in England. Is my ethnicity 25% English?
Most of my second great grandparents were born in England. Does this make my ethnicity 81% English? It certainly doesn’t account for my Irish fourth great grandfather, John Bourke Ryan.
I have followed our paper family tree up through the branches for this example.
With respect to DNA we receive half our DNA from our father and half our DNA from our mother. But which half do we receive? And which half, as displayed in our family tree did they receive from their parents? And which half did they receive from their parents? And so on. Why, then, do we expect our ethnicity to be precisely the same as that of our siblings when there is doubt about what was received from which grandparent in the first place?
or example, on Chromosome 21 all my maternal DNA came from my maternal grandfather Learmonth. My sister also received all her maternal DNA from our grandfather Learmonth. While our brother also received most of his maternal DNA from our maternal grandfather Learmonth some of his maternal DNA came from our maternal grandmother Learmonth.
All my paternal DNA came from my paternal grandfather Baulch whereas my sister’s paternal DNA came from our grandmother Abbey. Our brother’s paternal DNA originally came about half from our paternal grandfather Baulch and about half from our paternal grandmother Abbey.
This simple example shows quite clearly that we each are unique. While receiving half our DNA from our father and half from our mother what we received that came from each of our grandparents may be very different. If we each calculate our proportion of DNA we get from each of our grandparents the answer is not the same for any two of us. Even at the grandparent level our ethnicity is different. Each of us is, after all, unique.
So why do we expect our ethnicity to be the same?
If we are using DNA as a source for family history purposes we should confine our family history research to the DNA that is used for genetic genealogy or family history purposes.
Results based on DNA used for medical purposes are given for medical reasons. Results based on DNA with ancient origins are for anthropological purposes.
We family historians have our own little sections of DNA that we use for family history purposes.
This doesn’t mean we can’t put our anthropological hat on now and then and tell a good story about our ancient origins. However, there is not necessarily a link between our ancient origins and our family stories of very recent times.

Where am I going to be:
28 July – 7 August 2017 – Unlock the Past Cruise – Papua New Guinea – to see where my uncle and father-in-law were in WWII
19 August 2017 – presenting “Using DNA to solve genealogical puzzles” at the Researching Abroad: British isles & European ancestors – Melbourne (find out more here)
11 November 2017 – presenting a half day session “DNA for family historians” for the Genealogical Society of Victoria (find out more here)
and when I get back from just cruising around the GSV will be taking bookings for DNA consultations (more here) . I expect to concentrate on autosomal DNA tests and I shall only be available on Fridays.
Hope to see you somewhere.

The X Chromosome – Planning and Indulgence

The X Chromosome inheritance patterns are complex but when the planning is right and your relatives indulge your curiousity about their DNA then the resulting X DNA matches seem serendipitous.
My brother wisely counselled establishing a sound foundation upon which to build my genetic genealogy research. My cousin Val started me off by agreeing to indulge my curiousity and undergo a DNA test.
My curiousity at that time concerned the origins of George Watts’s wife Mary McCade or McCord who was born about 1800 in Foreign Parts.

If you are a descendant please read on. If you believe you may have inherited some of your X DNA from George’s family or, in particular, from his wife I would love to hear from you.
Even if you aren’t a member of this family do read on.
I have been putting off my analysis of Lyn and Val’s X chromosome matches even though their DNA test results were the first DNA test results I received. My procrastination is entirely because of the inheritance patterns of the X chromosome. Of course, its complexity is no reason to ignore significant X DNA matches. So the purpose of this post is to look at some X DNA match results I have received. Even if I take the low road to get there.
Before I delve into the mysteries of X DNA let me just go back to the beginning of analysing our DNA matches. DNA for family history purposes isn’t just one analysis process but four:
.   analysis of matches on the X chromosome
.   analysis of matches on the Y chromosome
.   analysis of matches on the 22 autosomal chromosomes and
.   analysis of matches for mitochondrial DNA.
Let me set the scene for analysing X DNA matches by beginning with a short review of the analysis of other DNA matches.
The most common analysis has been of the Y Chromosome. It’s relative simple to identify which ancestor provided a male’s Y DNA. A male receives his Y DNA from his father. In turn, his father receives his Y DNA from his father. And so on up the paternal line (following the family surname).
Identifying which ancestor provided our mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) follows a similar process. With a slight change. All children, whether male or female, receive their mtDNA from their mother. I received my mtDNA from my mother. As did my brother. In turn our mother received her mtDNA from her mother. And so on up the maternal line (with, in my family at least, the surname changing each generation).
There are no half way measures with Y DNA and mtDNA. My brother received all of our paternal great grandfather’s Y DNA and we each received the same mtDNA from our maternal great grandmother.
Autosomal DNA (atDNA) is a little different. It is more difficult to determine which ancestor we received our atDNA from. Suffice to say, on average, we receive half our atDNA from our father and half from our mother. My father received half his atDNA from his father and half from his mother. Similarly, my mother received half her atDNA from her father and half from her mother. This means I received half my atDNA from each of my two parents, a quarter from each of my four grandparents, and one eighth from my eight great grandparents and so on up my family tree.These amounts aren’t set in stone however. They are not precise. It’s only probable that I received precisely half my atDNA from my father and precisely half from my mother.
With Y DNA and mtDNA it is clear which is received from which of our ancestors. With atDNA we can estimate how much atDNA we received from each of our ancestors but it is less clear just which DNA we received from a particular ancestor.
Now we come to the X Chromosome and its inheritance patterns.
Let’s start with myself. I received half my X DNA from my father and half my X DNA from my mother. In turn, my mother received half her X DNA from her father and half from her mother. As far as this example goes, the X DNA inheritance pattern is like the inheritance pattern for autosomal DNA.Now let’s look at my brother. My brother received no X DNA from our father because he received a Y chromosome instead. That is, he received all his X DNA from our mother. Similarly, my father received no X DNA from his father. Instead he received his Y DNA from his father and all his X DNA from his mother.Let’s now look at a simple X DNA match before looking at a couple more complex and interesting DNA matches.
It’s expected that my brother and I match on 50% of our X DNA (with that X DNA originating from our mother). In fact, we matched on 88.5 centiMorgans (cMs) – 45% of our X DNA and a little less than estimated. Here is what our match looks like in the Family Tree DNA chromosome browser:Now let’s look at two first cousins – Lyn and Val. Their mothers were sisters and were daughters of Samuel and Eliza Ann.Lyn received half her X DNA from her father and half from her mother. In turn, Lyn’s mother received half her X DNA from her father, Samuel, and half from her mother, Eliza Ann. That is, Lyn received 25% of her X DNA from her grandfather Samuel and 25% from her grandmother Eliza Ann.
Similarly, Val received half her X DNA from her father and half from her mother. In turn, Val’s mother received half her X DNA from her father, Samuel, and half from her mother, Eliza Ann. Here is how Lyn and Val’s X DNA match of 49.4 cMs (25% of their X DNA) looks like in the Family Tree DNA chromosome browser:As expected Lyn and Val match on just over half the number of cMs that my brother and I do.
Samuel and Eliza Ann are my paternal great grandparents but neither my brother and I would have received any X DNA from this line as my father received a Y chromsome from my grandfather and, consequently, no X DNA from my grandfather.
Now do I have anyone else who may have received some part of their X DNA from my great grandparents Samuel and Eliza Ann? My first cousin Marilyn did. And this is where expected X DNA becomes complicated.
Marilyn received half her X DNA from her father and half from her mother. In turn, her mother received half her X DNA from our grandfather and half from our grandmother. Now our grandfather received his Y chromosome from his father, Samuel and his X chromosome from his mother Eliza Ann. The probability is that Marilyn received 25% of her X DNA from her great grandmother, Eliza Ann and none from her great grandfather Samuel.
There are two points to take note of here.
Firstly, X DNA isn’t like mtDNA. It doesn’t merely go up the female line. You can have one male in the sequence. Our grandfather in Marilyn’s sequence is one example. But you can’t have two males in the sequence and inherit X DNA from that line. My brother and I haven’t received any X DNA from our great grandparents Samuel and Eliza Ann because there are two men in the line – my father and my grandfather.
Secondly, any match that Marilyn may have on her X DNA with either Lyn or Val, must be attributable to Marilyn’s great grandmother Eliza Ann because our grandfather received no X chromosome from his father Samuel. Marilyn shares 58.3 cMs (30%) with Lyn and 72.9 cMs (38%) with Val.When I map Marilyn’s matches with Lyn and Val I see the segments of Marilyn’s X DNA that come from her great grandmother Eliza Ann.

It is Lyn’s X DNA match that I find most intriguing. She has a X DNA match with:
• Val, her first cousin on her mother’s side
• Marilyn, a first cousin once removed on her mother’s side and
• Rick, her second cousin on her father’s side.

So now let’s look at Lyn’s X DNA match with Val. Lyn received half her X DNA from her mother who received her X DNA from her parents Samuel and Eliza Ann. But I don’t know which X DNA Lyn’s mother received from her father Samuel and which she received from her mother Eliza Ann.
The situation is the same for Val.
Consequently, where Lyn and Val match on their X chromosome I don’t know whether that match is due to X DNA they each received from their grandfather or is due to X DNA they each received from their grandmother. Further testing is required.
This is different to the scenario of Lyn’s X DNA match with Marilyn where the inheritance pattern of X DNA indicates that that match could only have come from X DNA inherited from Eliza Ann.Lyn also has an X DNA match with her second cousin Rick on her paternal side. Rick inherited all his X DNA from his mother (as he inherited his Y chromosome from his father). Rick’s mother inherited half her X DNA from her father. In turn he inherited all his X DNA from his mother Jane (as he inherited his Y chromosome from his father).
Lyn inherited half her X DNA from her father. Her father inherited all his X DNA from his mother (as he inherited his Y chromosome from his father). She inherited half her X DNA from her father and half from her mother Jane.
We have another instance here of being able to determine which ancestor DNA came from. Under the inheritance pattern of the X chromosome Lyn and Rick can only match on X DNA with regards to X DNA they inherited from Jane.
Rick and Lyn have a match of 91.9 cMs (or 47%) on their X chromosome.Putting Lyn’s three X DNA matches together we can see that she can attribute almost 65% to a specific ancestor (Jane or Eliza Ann) and the balance to either Samuel or Eliza Ann.
There is further testing required to attribute her match with Val to either Samuel or to Eliza.
For those of you who have tested in AncestryDNA and would like to explore your X chromosome all is not impossible. Download your raw data from AncestryDNA and upload it into Gedmatch for testing.

Thank you Kathy for the suggestion to use fan charts from Legacy Family Tree. They worked! These and other charts drawn in Excel were drawn by me but are strongly based on Blaine Bettinger’s trees. See, for example, his recent book Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T Bettinger as well as  Foundations in DNA by Blaine Bettinger: A recent series of 5 webinars found in Legacy Family Tree’s Webinar Library.
The Family Tree DNA chromosome browser examples came from our matches at Family Tree DNA , the Gedmatch chromosome map came out matches uploaded on to Gedmatch and Kitty Cooper’s chromosome map can be found on Kitty Cooper’s Blog under Tools.

Genetic Genealogy (DNA) as a family history source

DNA Collage

What triggered my interest in DNA or Genetic Genealogy and its possibility as a source for family history research? It’s time, after two years of exploring DNA tests, to reflect upon why I started and where I have ended up.

Curiousity was the first reason I started looking at DNA. Knowledge of DNA has come a long, long way since my first year in a university lab. But there were other reasons as well I started looking at DNA for family history purposes. It’s always nice to have another primary source to confirm my oral and written family history. I also had the idea that perhaps DNA may help break down some of my family history brick walls. So far this hasn’t been the case in relation to two of my most difficult brick walls. Where there is still some doubt about my conclusions. Finally, as DNA can only be collected from my living relatives I approached a couple of my father’s cousins and was delighted to receive their permission undergo a test. Doubly delighted as I have no living uncles or aunts and only one first cousin. Continue reading “Genetic Genealogy (DNA) as a family history source”

DNA – More than just matches

Next time you log in to your FamilyTreeDNA test check your Family Finder matches. There are now four tabs under the Family Finder – Matches screen.
Just as I haven’t stopped purchasing birth, marriage and death certificates I am sure that I am far from finished purchasing DNA kits. Particularly when I am excited about Family Tree’s DNA new phased Family Matches analysis. But not just now. I need to plan and budget first.
DNA tests for family history purposes only work when my DNA test matches with someone else’s DNA test.
Continue reading “DNA – More than just matches”

Census records – one of my gateway sources


I call some of the sources I use my gateway sources. I find them critical to breaking down brick walls. Do I stand at the gateway afraid to go any further? Do I stand in the open gateway thinking about how to approach a completely new set of sources that may contain family stories?
Passenger lists are one of my gateway sources. Before a family member embarks on their journey to Australia I focus on British sources. Once a family member arrives in Australia I search for my family stories here in Australia.
Census records, particularly those that form part of the 1841 English census collection, are one of my favourite gateway sources. They set a point in time for setting aside Australian collections and turning to English collections. Furthermore, information contained in an 1841 England census record may confirm information I already have or may give some clues about which other English collections I should look at.
For example, the 1841 England census records are pivotal in telling the story of my paternal two greats grandfather Francis Baulch and his wife Ann Bowles. The census records establish that the family was still living in Pitney, Somerset at census time. The census records also contain hints as to why the family emigrated to Tasmania with other Pitney, Somerset families not long afterwards.
There is no doubt that Francis’s family was in dire straits by 1841. As were many such families following the enclosures in the area several years beforehand. The Pitney churchwardens were concerned about the debt owed to them by Francis’s mother. Francis couldn’t help. He had a young and growing family to provide for. And Francis had difficulty getting sufficient work to sustain his own family let alone help his mother in her difficulties. One year he did manage to win the contract for hauling stone for the roads but was unable to retain the contract. Francis’s brother, Enoch, in common with many other young agricultural laborers, also had difficulty in obtaining work. And when he did have work Enoch was paid a pittance.
The 1841 England census was held on the 6th of June. It was summer harvest time and may well have been one of those times that Enoch Baulch had work. It’s likely that Enoch was one of the unnamed men recorded in the census as living in sheds.
The Baulch men, and other men like them, would have been receptive to Henry Dowling’s search for experience agricultural laborers in 1840/1841. Tasmanian farmers had appointed Dowling as their agent in the farmers search for workers to replace men who had left Tasmania for the opportunities in the new Port Phillip district.
In the autumn following the 1841 Census the Pitney churchwardens gave Francis Baulch and Charles Bartlett, both with young families to support, funds to purchase clothing and other necessities to help them emigrate. By late November 1841, the two men, their families and some closely connected families sailed for Tasmania. They were avoiding facing another bleak winter in Pitney.
But some family members didn’t come. The census records give clues as to why.
For example, Francis’s brother William Baulch was living next door to his mother at the time. No doubt to help his mother when needed. His mother remarried in 1845 so William and his family was then free to emigrate. There is a clue there in the 1841 census records that helped find William’s new home. In 1841 William Baulch and Martha Cook had a ten-year-old boy, Edward or Edmond Perrin, staying with them. There they all are emigrating to the United States in 1850 and can be followed in the US censuses from thereafter.
Others weren’t of the right age or otherwise not qualified for assistance to emigrate. Some of the children later emigrated with many of Henry Baulch’s descendants emigrating to Queensland.
Charles Edgar, one of Ann Bowles’ younger half brothers, went to Ontario, Canada.
Frances-Fletcher-TreeWhich brings me to a source that I think may become another of my gateway sources. I have a DNA autosomal match with a Canadian cousin. On my side of our family tree the match comes about because I am a descendant of Henry Bowles and Frances Fletcher, Ann Bowles’s parents. On the other side of our family tree the match comes about because my Canadian cousin is a descendant of William Edgar and Frances Fletcher, Charles Edgar’s parents. The ancestor we have in common is Frances Fletcher. The chromosome segments where we match, therefore, must have been passed down from Frances Fletcher. But which segments on which chromosomes?

Selected Bibliography:
The National Archives (TNA): HO 107/955 f4 p1 Census Returns: 1841
Canada Census 1851 -1861 [database ] www.familysearch.org
United States Census, 1860 – 1870, [database & images] www.familysearch.org
St John the Baptist Church of England (Pitney, Somerset, England). Parish chest material.
AncestryDNA [database]. www.ancestry.com.au.