Saturday, February 18, 2017

It is an Awesome Day for DNA testers

Until I saw a blog yesterday, I was unable to upload my v4 23andme kits, or my V2 AncestryDNA kits to familytree DNA, but that has all changed. FamilytreeDNA now not only accepts all those kits, it has lowered the upgrade fee from $39 to $19.

Why is this so great, I mean we have Gedmatch. Well because so many people don't use Gedmatch, the FTDNA database is arguably as large as the other two companies, and you have the ability to view the areas of your matches easily with the Chromosome Browser (only available if you upgrade).

I would encourage anyone who wants to see more matches to take advantage of this free transfer. With the free transfer you can see your top 20 matches, though you are not able to use their other tools, such as the Chromosome Browser, Ancient Origins or My Origins (their version of Admixture for ancestry).

So how do you do it?

If you are on AncestryDNA you download your raw data through the settings option under your results. On the right is the option to download. You click on that and it will send you an email with a link valid for 24 hours. When you use the email link you will be taken to a page where the download starts.

If you are on 23andme, the download raw data is an option you find from a link under browse your raw data in tools.

Always make sure you remember where you download your file. Don't unzip the file for upload to either Gedmatch or Familytreedna.

To upload to Familytreedna, you want to go to here. On the drop down menu, DNAtests, select Autosomal transfer. Enter your name, email and sex and click the join. This will take you to the upload screen where you select your file. I did have to repeat the upload on a few kits because it said they were unable to open it (I think server maybe was busy). When it completes it will bring up a congratulations screen. There is a link there to click for the permissions you have to sign.

You will get an email with the kit number and a password. I would go to settings and change the password before logging out. It can take up to 24 hours (after 6 I had mine) to get results for the DNA matches and admixture results.

To upgrade, click on the option for Chromosome browser and it will tell you you need to upgrade, the link on the upper right will take you to the cart with the 19 dollar fee.

You can upload or manually enter family tree's. It has changed, you can now click and drag a match to their name to place them in your tree. Which is convenient, but one of the things I don't like about FTDNA is that the tree function takes a while to load and seems a bit buggy to me.

I also noticed you get smaller matches that most genetic genealogist feel are unreliable in chromosome browser. You can change the size of what you browse in the browser, where you have up to 5 people you can compare at a time.

Another caveat, it is easy to download the names for the matches and the actual match files for FTDNA to use in Genomemate Pro. Of course this function is not much value if you don't upgrade.

While you are at it, why don't you head over to and create a free account and upload your data there.

Oh, and have fun.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Challenges in Researching British family.

First, let me say, that compared to the United States, England, and several European countries, have far superior records. That said, the challenge for those of us in the United States is access to those records, and then a complete and utter ignorance of the country we are researching.

I know there are folks that have trees back the 11th century, but I am not that ambitious, mainly because I am somewhat dubious of the veracity of those trees, and because it is so dang hard to get it past the 18th century. The one family I have successfully crossed the pond (as they say) with, is the Brunson, and that is solely because of the archeological research of Earl Colne, which shows the family in the 16th century into the early 17th, and then colonial records in New England which are far superior in some areas than any other record type in the United States.

So what does one do when you are trying to research British ancestors? There are sources of records available now online that were not available 10 years ago, including parish registers. However, what I found when I really got somewhere, was actually joining and reading message boards for England was what helped me understand the differences between the United States and England.

Did you know that if you order a death certificate in England it tells you nothing? Unlike the States, the place that tells you the most information is the marriage certificate, and then only after about 1850 (I don't know the exact date). England has had censuses every 10 years for a very long time, but until 1841, the census didn't list household members, and is more of a tally form than our early censuses. So they aren't available. You can't find a census online prior to 1841, because there isn't a lot of use for you.

I think there are some common assumptions you can make for certain time periods that are likely true. For example, the States and England between 1750 and 1800, the ability to read and write is an informative piece of information. The general public didn't have that ability. Certain trades, and the wealthy or nobility had that, but children weren't routinely schooled. Religious rights, parishes, where you could and could not get married, that was very different. So you really need to find someone who can educate you, or find the information yourself before you search.

Don't forget geography either, that is really hard. The same village may have been in three different shires over the last 200 years. That will effect your ability to find records when you search records on something like Ancestry. Because parish records are the main source of what you can research successfully from the United States.

 And yes, it is very confusing why someone is listed in one place for birth, another for marriage, and lived another and they are all 5 miles apart. Only to find out that the marriage was the only place they could marry, the baptism was non conformist, and not located anywhere far from where they lived.

Non conformist, that's another term you may run across. It means they didn't practice the religion of the Church of England. Oh and the English, particularly the working class, they liked certain names. My ancestor George Henry Timmins is probably one of 20 born the same year in the same 20 mile radius.

Then there is the class system. I am not even remotely related to anyone noble enough to not have a trade, at least as far as I can research. My family at most were tradesmen, and at worst, they lived in the workhouse, or the poor house whichever you prefer. They didn't live in an England that reminds one of Jane Austin but rather of Charles Dickens. They worked all their life, and if they lived to get old, they had to live with family or in the poor house. They aren't buried in marked graves either.

Among this class, early death isn't uncommon. Neither is illegitimacy, though I understand that Bastardry Bonds and work house records are very informative, you have to go to England to see those kind of  records. I am sure there are other records that would be beneficial as well, but I am not literate enough in English records to know that. Which I guess is my point.

I don't generally try to cross the pond with my colonial families, because at that point I am in the 17th and early 18th  century and I already know how hard it can be from tracing my late arrivals back to before 1800. It can be a needle in a haystack search, and it isn't one I am relishing taking on yet.

So I work on the one line I know for sure, and the one that I should be able to find, and that's it. Most of what I have researched centers around the Black Country of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire. It is a tale of miners and glass cutters, and families who were the backbone of the English industrial age. If I ever get back far enough, I just may find a freeman or a tradesmen, but for now, it is plain working class families, who can be found when they are born, when they marry and when they die in parish records, and that's about it. There are no wills. There aren't any convict records that I have found, just marriages, births and burials. And  a lot of frustration.

You Might Be a Genealogy Addict

You might be a genealogy addict if

  • You sign onto Ancestry to answer a message, and you are still searching on Ancestry 5 hours later. 
  • You make a comment about passing a cemetery on a road trip, and the first words out of your child's mouth is "we aren't stopping are we?"
  • Spending the day at the archives, local genealogy center, or in a cemetery sounds like a good day.
  • You meet someone and think, I have that name in my tree, I wonder if we are related.
  • You have ever wanted to call someone at 2 a.m. because you finally found that information you searched the last two months (or years) for.
  • After not getting a response from that  close new DNA match for weeks, you do a search with all those skills to find out how they are your relative. (Google, Facebook, Ancestry, it all works).
  • You have called a complete stranger because they were a relative and you had questions.
  • Your Facebook friends list is composed of multiple cousins (first, second, third, hey even 6th) and you consider them all family.
  • You have a large list of Genealogy buddies and correspondents among your Facebook friends list also.
  • You ask everyone for copies of old pictures.
  • Your family rolls their eyes and their eyes glaze over when you start talking genealogy.
  • Your family tree has lots of folks who aren't your relatives.
  • You find spending 8 hours doing genealogy a lot easier (and more fun) than actually doing work.
  • Your intimately aware of how to work a microfilm machine.
  • You have spent days browsing through microfilm or images online of microfilm, reading old county records.
  • You have a form of ADD. You start researching one person, find something interesting on someone else, and end up spending hours on that and not what you started looking for.
  • You find the stories of how older people grew up and their lives fascinating.

Advice to new testers of Ancestry DNA (and my wish list)

Ancestry does a better job I think of advertising than the other companies. The ads appear to be working. Find out who you are, what your ancestry is made up of. If my new results are any indication, that is probably the primary reason so many people are now testing.

I understand (well kind of) why someone doesn't want to do genealogy. It isn't for everyone. But I would suggest to anyone who tests their DNA to at least do a few things.

 First, read up on autosomal DNA. It is really, really interesting. There are several excellent DNA bloggers, but the one place you can find the most information is here at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.  You want to find out about this DNA and how it gets inherited. Otherwise, it's kind of useless.

Second, if you have close, first, or second cousin matches, and even third cousin matches. Consider contacting them. Ancestry DNA has an easy user interface, but they don't really explain all of it. When you view all your matches, they start with your closest DNA match and work their way to the smallest. Those first few folks, are matching you a lot closer than those later on. I don't know how Ancestry DNA determines the cutoff for each category, but as an example, two  of my father's first cousins, my Aunt, and my great Aunt all are in my first cousin matches.

Click on your match. Under their name is a predicted relationship with an explanation. And to the right underneath it is a little i in a circle. Click on that. That will tell you how much DNA your sharing. If you visited and read a bit in the Wiki, you will understand what that means. Most people spent at least some holidays with extended family. Which means, you may just know that second cousin. It may be your mom's cousin, or your great Aunt. If you never reach out to them, you will never know.

Also, if you can, I would consider adding a tree at least to your grandparents and preferably your great grandparents. Ancestry uses a privacy feature automatically for living people. This means, that they are not shown, only a pink or blue icon is shown. This information will give you little green leaves by your matches. Those leaves tell you if your tree matches your matches tree.

Lastly, if you really want the best for admixture (ancestry composition), Ancestry does a fairly good job, but you will get a lot more out of the admixtures on Gedmatch. Gedmatch is free. You don't get spam. If you don't want to share your info you don't have to. You can use pseudonyms. A lot of folks make a free email account for DNA correspondence. And, it has some really good admixture features. This is put together by scientists who are genetic anthropologists and it can be a little more helpful.

If you want to delve deeper, well there is a lot more you need to know. This is were my wish list comes in. First, the Circles, Hints and shared matches are a useful tool in Ancestry, but they are not a concrete proving ground that how you match is based on the family relationship in your tree. To do that you need to triangulate your DNA. Which is where you identify the location and confirm it with at least three individuals to identify the genealogy. I have had some I assumed where matches based on our known family connection, only to find out when someone else tested, that they match a family member from another branch where they match my kit.

Ancestry has been asked multiple times for a way to see where you match. This is the number one item on anyone's wish list who does genetic genealogy. The other two companies, 23andme and Family Tree DNA both offer this. If you want to delve deeper into looking into how your DNA was passed, maybe you tested multiple family members, you have to go to Gedmatch to do that.

It would be nice if there was a way to tag our matches better. I would love to be able to even mark paternal from maternal, because I have no way to compare these Ancestry matches in the program I use to keep track of matches (genome mate pro). Alas, I don't see that coming. And so even if I do have identified matches, barring testing one of my parents again, there isn't a way to sort the matches.

I also wish that Ancestry had a easier search function for matches. I have members of my family from the Choctaw Nation, and because that is not the same as Oklahoma, searching by location doesn't work. I wouldn't mind a search by ancestry type but maybe that is problematic. I just have had the hardest time finding matches from that side of the tree.

From my own experience, I would also suggest if you are going to attempt to triangulate and compare DNA results, you want a good tree, or be willing to research as you go. You also want to stay away from smaller matches, I mean like under 30 cM matches, unless it is a triangulation that is beneficial. Often these are too small and too hard to find the link.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wherefore art thou Shakespeare?

No living individual descends from William Shakespeare the Bard and Poet of the Elizabethan age. There are likely descendants of his sisters, and perhaps a theoretical brother. While I do not ever aspire to prove my lineage to someone of nobility, I do think it is a reasonable possibility that my Grandmother's Shakespeare ancestors were related to William Shakespeare through his grandfather or earlier ancestors.

So how can I say this? It starts with my Shakespeare family who reside in Henley in Arden and Wootton Wawen, both villages in Warwickshire just outside of Stratford on Avon. The same vicinity where the Bard and his family lived. There is a strong possibility that like William Shakespeare, my lines descend from the Wroxall Shakespeare family, but getting them there is going to be quite a feat.

Mary Shakespeare who was baptized in Henley in 1788 the daughter of Thomas Shakespeare and his wife Elizabeth was married in the parish of Wootton Wawen in 1817 to John Phillips. Like both of her parents, Mary signed her own name, but her husband did not. The marriage was witnessed by Elizabeth and William Barrett.

Of curious note is that records for this family are found in both the Wootton Wawen and the Beaudesert parish books. Fortunate for me at least partly, because of water damage to the Wootton Wawen books that makes much of it unreadable.

Mary's older brothers, John Shakespeare (1784) and Thomas Shakespeare (1786) were baptized in Henley (Beaudesert parish book), and younger sisters, Hannah (1800 in both) and Elizabeth (1803 in both). The same parish book in beginning in 1773 shows baptisms for a William Shakespeare and his Elizabeth (then Mary) and a John and his wife Eleanor.

The father of my Mary Shakespear was baptized in 1766 in Wootton Wawen, the illegitimate son of Sarah Shakespeare. It looks like Sarah also had a daughter Eleanor who was baptized in 1758 also in Wootton Wawen. I haven't found anything for John or William this early in the book, but a lot of it is not readable.

When Thomas Shakespeare marries, it looks like a John Shakeper (Shakespeare?) and a Mary Tidmount are witnesses. It is possible that the witness John is the same as the John who has children baptized in the parish, and he is likely a relative, most likely a cousin or an Uncle. It is also worthy of note that both Thomas and his wife Elizabeth Marrell sign their names. So not only did they educate their children, but they them selves were educated enough to sign their names. It is also important to note that a Thomas Shakespeare married to a Jane has a daughter Eliza in 1804, this is not the same as Thomas who was married to Elizabeth Marrell (Merrill).

Thomas Shakespeare who resided in Henley was buried in the Wootton Warren parish in 1819. His wife Elizabeth died in 1839. I found a record for the death of an Eleanor in 1799 in the Wootton Warren parish register, but it is impossible to say if this is Eleanor the wife of John or Eleanor the sister of Thomas.

Looking at the Wootton Wawen parish book, I found a burial in April 1713 for a John Shakespeare an apprentice boy. Thomas the son of William Shakespear was baptized in 1733. Edward Skinner and Margaret Shakespeare where married in 1738, then the baptism for Eleanor, some for William and John Shakespeare's children. Because it is so hard to read, there is without a doubt probably more listings than I can find.

So where does John, Sarah and William come from. They would all be born prior to 1745, and there is one family (which seems a bit of a stretch) that could fit. The family of Mordecai Shakespeare who has several children baptized in Aston Juxta parish, but that is in Birmingham proper, and really quite far from the area where my Shakespeare family lives. I am not going to rule it out, and like so many of the Shakespeares, the use of family names of Thomas and John seem prevalent in both lines.

If I want to get my Shakespeare family back far enough to tell if they are indeed from the Wroxall family bunch, it would mean finding a father for Sarah, and then his father and grandfather, because I really need to go back at least another 60 years. I like to think I can get that far some day. There is a lovely research site on the web, but it's not been updated in a while and the web masters email is invalid. So asking questions seems a bit hard at this point.

It is always a challenge to research my British ancestry, especially when there is so much I do not know about the area and the time period. Parish records are available in most cases, but the areas change over time.

As for DNA, well, my great Aunt (who is a great great granddaughter of Mary Shakespeare) is matching some of the Dudley and Leicester Shakespeares but not many. And we do have another Phillips we have matched that may have some as well. According to the website both families are connected to the Wroxall family group.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

DNA and the Mullis family

Arthur Mullies wrote me a few years ago that he thought that our Frances was a daughter or granddaughter of John Mullis.

DNA matches are showing the descendants of Frances Mullis to be matching several of the descendants of John "Jackson" Mullis.

John Jackson Mullis was born in 1720 in Virginia and he died in 1785 in Anson, NC. Both a John Mullis and a Jacob Pyburn were members of the Chatham Militia in 1772. Genealogies online list two wives, Susan Dancer and Rebecca Cheney, but Arthur has his wife as Margaret Brumbelow. He lists only three children, Frances Mullis Pyburn, Solomon Mullis and Mary Elizabeth Mullis Griffin. They just happen to be the names on the matches.

Now I know, ancestry matches are not valid, we aren't triangulating them, but we do have about 15 matches to these lines, so odds are, at least a few are valid. I haven't tried to contact them yet.

So for my Pyburn family members.

Jacob Pyburn m. Frances Mullis, daughter of John Jackson Mullis and Margaret Brumbelow. She was born about 1758-1760. Frances died sometime after 1810, likely 1810-1813 in Tensaw Settlement, now Baldwin County, Alabama.

John Jackson Mullis was born 1720 and died about 1785. His wife Margaret was born about 1740.

John's parents were Richard and Elizabeth Mullis. Richard was born about 1690 and was a son of John Mullis and Elizabeth Edwards.

DNA and the Pyburn family (Early North Carolina)

Thus far the bulk of the DNA matches for the Pyburn's from my line tested have been with descendants of Naomi Pyburn and Lewis Pyburn.  I looked at  my tree, and OMG it's a mess.

I reread my earlier article on them, and I think it confused me a bit more, but I am going to go with what I  know and let's see if we can come up with a theory.

Jacob Pyburn who married Frances Mullis was born sometime between 1740 and 1760. That puts him in the same age bracket as Naomi Pyburn, whose father was Jacob Pyburn. Most families have this genealogy related to Richard's son Jacob Pyburn and not John's. But we aren't matching any of the other descendants of Richard (Christopher, Sarah, Richard or the father of Edward).

So assuming that the connection to Lewis is through his father Benjamin Pyburn, then it would seem that Naomi, Benjamin and my Jacob are quite possibly siblings, and children of the Jacob Pyburn who is a son of John Pyburn. 

Now there is a good reason though to question the legitimacy of the existence of Naomi Pyburn married to Austin Choate Sr. Here is why, his sons Christian and Austin married Pyburn's from NC and there wives were their cousins.

Austin Choate Sr's wife could be a sister to the mother of Nancy and Naomi Pyburn, or their mother could be a Choate. We know that they applied as eastern Cherokee's, and that the Pyburn family like the Choate family line weren't Cherokee. If there was any Cherokee it came from the wives of the Pyburn's or the Choates.

So I guess I am at a decision point. As far as I know, there is not one documentation for Naomi Pyburn married to Austin Choate Sr, other than the researchers who have assumed it based on the Cherokee claims. Without a doubt however, we show a relationship to descendants of Austin Choate Jr. and his wife Naomi Pyburn, who is most likely a daughter of Jacob Pyburn who was in Buncombe NC in 1790 and was the Uncle of Edward Pyburn who lived there.

So if my ancestor Jacob is related to this Jacob and Lewis (who I believe is a son of Benjamin), then the 1790 Jacob in NC should be a nephew, but he is over the age of 45, which oh gosh, makes him the same age. So maybe Jacob in NC and my Jacob are first cousins.

So if we start with the Jacob, John and Benjamin who are in Bedford in the 1750's. Two of them each have a son named Jacob who lived in the same area, because Frances Mullis the wife of my Jacob was born in Bedford and her father died in North Carolina.

We lack a passport for Jacob and his family, which has made me believe that Jacob and his family came down the Mississippi and went to Tennessee prior to arriving in Tensaw in 1784. I would think that most likely, Benjamin who was the father of Lewis, Elias and grandfather of the Jacob Pyburn in early Tennessee as probably a brother of my Jacob Pyburn and that they are sons of Benjamin Pyburn, son of John.

John Pyburn was arrested for murder in 1764 in North Carolina. This could be John Pyborn Junior or a son. Jacob Pyburn is the most probable father for the Buncombe NC Jacob, his sister Sarah Pyburn Eades and the father of Edward Pyburn. The Choates married either children of this Jacob or his nieces, sisters of Edward.

The problem arises when you get to Jacob Pyburn who was the father. He could be a son of either Richard or John, but if we are matching closer with these members, I would think that we come from the same parent, so more than likely it is John's son Jacob who is in Bedford in the 1750's.

I know there are more earlier Pyburns, and that there is still a lot of work to go. But for now I think I am going to change my tree.

John Pyburn and his wife Sarah

Benjamin Pyburn and ?
Benjamin Pyburn m ? sons Lewis, Elias
Jacob Pyburn m. Frances Mullis

Jacob Pyburn and ?
Jacob Pyburn (NC) m daughter of Christian Choat? children Christopher
Sarah m. Charles Eades
Son Unknown
child Edward Pyburn

Unknown Pyburn's (either Richard or John)
Richard Pyburn Edgecombe
Benjamin Pyburn Edgecombe
James Pyburn Georgia
Thomas Pyburn Bedford
Joshua Pyburn Bedford