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.
But that’s not where it ends. Who is the ancestor we have in common? Do I have that person in my family tree or do I know where I expect them to fit in my family tree? Suddenly I am finding that my family tree is no longer confined to my direct ancestors. I need to also include evidence of matches for future reference and for further analysis.
Also, why is there a match? On which chromosome? What segments on what chromosomes, what single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and/or short tandem repeats (STRs) do we have in common?
Purchasing DNA kits has become the new purchasing certificates. I’ve spent oodles on certificates over the years and, together with many other family members who have shared their certificates, we have put together our family tree. DNA kits are more expensive so let’s make the best use of our results when we receive them.
Why are DNA matches important? Don’t we already have evidence of these matches already in our written genealogy? Yes. Mostly. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that my parents are my parents, my grandparents are my grandparents, my great grandparents are my great grandparents. And so on. It’s comforting to have another source to support my family tree. Also, DNA matches are important in confirming parts of my family tree that have come to me through family stories but which I haven’t yet been able to confirm using paper sources.
Of course I still have my brick walls that I hope a DNA match may knock down. For example, my three greats grandfather Charles Baulch married Ann Beddlecombe at Muchelney, Somerset in April 1799. Initially I thought that Charles was born to Roger Baulch and Betty Gaylard and baptised on 25 Jan 1767. But a Charles Baulch was buried was buried in Muchelney six weeks later and I only have one possibility – the infant Charles Baulch.
Image-2I am not entirely sure, though, that it was the infant Charles who died. His older brother, Henry, was a witness to Charles Baulch’s marriage to Ann Beddlecombe. Is this just coincidence?
Furthermore, I have a DNA match in AncestryDNA with Hannah Baulch, a cousin of Henry and Charles Baulch. How could this happen if Charles Baulch died as an infant? Or is it not a match by descent but just a match by chance? Further analysis is required.
Image-3Chromosome analysis isn’t currently available on AncestryDNA. The value in having an AncestryDNA test is that, at the moment at least, it’s database is twice the size of Family Tree DNA’s database. And growing. So AncestryDNA may be a good place to find DNA matches that require further analysis outside AncestryDNA.
But first there are two things to be done in AncestryDNA.
I narrow my matches by searching for surnames I have in my Ancestry family tree attached to my AncestryDNA tests. For example, I found my match with Hannah Baulch by searching my matches for the Baulch surname.
Shared matches are also worth looking at in AncestryDNA. For example, matches I share with my paternal first cousin will bring up any AncestryDNA matches I have with relatives on my father’s side of my family. My maternal relatives will be omitted. As may be any potential AncestryDNA matches which don’t have a family tree attached.
Image-4Further analysis requires that my AncestryDNA results need to be downloaded. To do this I went to Help > Get Help > DNA and selected Downloading Raw DNA Data. Of course this downloaded Raw DNA data acts as a backup of the data I have on AncestryDNA.
Once data has been downloaded it can be uploaded to GEDmatch for free. This is a good site to start analysis and I match with many DNA tests in GEDmatch that were conducted somewhere else other than the current AncestryDNA. But I want to leave any consideration of GEDmatch analysis for another time and progress to FamilyTreeDNA.
When we start our family history research we are often advised to start with purchasing our own birth certificate as well as those for our two parents.
Similarly, a good place to start our autosomal DNA searches is with a test of our own autosomal DNA as well as a test for each of our parents. Then we can categorise any further tests as being
• on my paternal side if there is a match with me and my father but not with my mother,
• on my maternal side if there is a match with me and my mother but not with my father or
• one of my siblings if there is a match with me, my father and my mother.
I haven’t done any of this analysis in either Gedmatch or FamilyTreeDNA because of one insurmountable difficulty. My parents are long dead and buried.
But now FamilyTreeDNA is able to extend this analysis to other close relatives. Provided of course that I have close relatives who have tested.
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. One tab for all matches followed by three tabs that correspond to the categories above.
Image-5If you are like me and have no living parents who are you going to substitute so that you can use this phased family match analysis? I have one paternal cousin and one paternal second cousin who have tested. Perhaps I should take advantage of FamilyTreeDNA’s sale ending shortly and invite some of my maternal second cousins to test.
However, there are two limits to purchasing further DNA tests. Just as there are in purchasing BMD certificates. The first is definitely the dollar cost in purchasing DNA tests. But it is the second that I am finding more limiting. I should ensure I have analysed the DNA tests that I already have access to. For I need to make sure that I am ordering the most appropriate tests next.
For further information see:
AncestryDNA
Gedmatch
Family Tree DNA
Kitty Cooper’s tools