Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

22 Jan 2017: It’s here! Get your copy today! January 22, 2017

Yay!!!! My latest book is up for sale on Amazon.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that I finally took the time to gather together my genealogy knowledge in a user friendly how to book for those just beginning their genealogical journey.

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Check it out at: https://goo.gl/eSSZwa

Here’s what it’s about:

Every generation needs a family historian.

Where do we come from and how did we get here? To answer these questions you’ll need to sit down and piece together the story of your family. For over thirty years Jennifer Geoghan has tirelessly traced not only her own family tree, but also assisted many others in doing just the same. Now she brings her wealth of experience to you with this easy to read guide to help you jump-start your family research.

Some of the topics covered are …

  • Interviewing your relatives
  • Understanding Vital Records
  • Making sense of the US Census
  • Uncovering Military Records.
  • How to cite your sources.
  • Top websites for genealogy research.
  • Getting the most from you internet searches
  • Cemeteries
  • Genetic DNA Testing
  • Preserving your family memories

Intended for those just beginning to trace their family history, this Quick Start Guide includes an abundance of useful worksheet, templates and other tools to help you organize your research all in one convenient place.

  • Individual Person Worksheets
  • Family Worksheets
  • Pedigree Charts
  • Family Heirloom Inventory
  • Family Medical History
  • Research Logs
  • Family History Questionnaires
  • Activities to get your kids excited about family history

My book is now available in paperback on Amazon for $4.99.

-Jennifer

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8 May 2016: My DNA Test Results … Part 2: The Family Finder Test May 8, 2016

So yesterday I wrote about my mtDNA or maternal line DNA test. Today I’m going to share my experiences with Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder DNA test. According to their website, this is what Family Tree DNA says about the Family Finder test …

  • Family Finder is an autosomal DNA test that automatically finds your relatives within 5 generations. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of other users in our massive database.
  • Discover unknown family connections
  • Confirm uncertain relationships
  • Connect with living relatives
  • Gain a genealogical leg up
  • myOrigins will give you a very detailed geographic breakdown of where your ancestors came from. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of hundreds of ethnic groups around the world.
  • Learn your ethnic background
  • Gain insight into your ancestry
  • Confirm family lore

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, let’s see if it lives up to expectations. Let’s start with the Family Finder test Dashboard:

FF Dashboard

The first item on the dashboard is my MATCHES and here are the top matches I was paired with:

FF matches

The first question you’re probably asking is … how accurate is this test? Well, pretty accurate when you consider that Alice (seen above) is listed as potentially between my 2nd and 4th cousin and in reality she’s my third cousin once removed! Yep, we’d crossed paths via email a few years back through this blog. When I emailed her through my Matches page here, she reminded me of that. With that in mind, I think we can accept the legitimacy of this test and lay any doubts to rest.

If you click on any of my matches, a pop up box will come up that looks like this. (Again, I blocked out personal info to protect the privacy of my cousins.)

FF Match Pop Up

It gives you more info on what that person is looking for and their dead ends. With my cousin Alice, it gave us a match score of 83.27, the highest there. My second highest comparison score is Michelle at 63.38. On the website, they describe this score as: “This is the sum of the autosomal DNA, given in centiMorgans (cM), that you and your genetic match share.”

Next on the Dashboard is the Chromosome Browser. Here’s how the website describes it: “Chromosome Browser page allows you to compare your matching DNA segments (blocks) with your genetic matches. You may assign a known relationship to a person by clicking on the Assign button.”

I did a comparison between me and my known cousin Alice, and this is what it showed:

Chromosone with Alice

Is this a lot?  I’m not sure, but it’s enough to make us 3rd cousins.

The Known Relationships button on the dashboard is just a place for you to keep track of those you’ve officially found a connection to.

Next is My Origins. This is what I see when it first opens up:

My Origins First View

Well, there you have it. I’m 99% European and 1% South/Central Asian. My Asian actually comes out of the middle of Afghanistan! Humm… maybe that explains why my mother has crocheted me so many afghans … interesting ….

When I hit the Expand under my Ethnic Makeup, this is what you see:

My Origins - Expanded View

When you break it down, I’m:

  • 55% British Isles
  • 20% Southern Europe
  • 9% Western and Central Europe
  • 8% Finland and Northern Siberia
  • 7% Eastern Europe
  • 1% Central Asia

Some of this makes sense right off the bat. Firstly, my maternal grandfather’s history is 100% English, so that accounts for 25% right there for The British Isles. My paternal grandfather’s history is 100% Scottish and Irish. Put those together and at least 50% of my DNA should say British Isles. With the 55% they list, I say that’s pretty accurate.

So what about the rest?

My paternal grandmother is a mix. Her father has very deep roots in Bavaria, Germany. Her mother has deep roots in modern-day Slovakia.   They’re saying that the area of Slovakia is Eastern European and German is Western and Central Europe. With that in mind, you’d think both my Eastern and Western/Central Europeans would be about 12.5%.

My maternal grandmother’s parents were both born in Bavaria, Germany. Her mother’s parents are: Father Germany, Mother … not quite sure. This is the elusive Regina Van Glahn who we aren’t sue if she came from Germany or Holland. Since I’ve got this strange 8% of my DNA coming out of the region of Finland and Northern Siberia, I’m wondering if the Van Glahn line of my family is somehow connected to that part of the world. This is also the family line that we have Jewish roots on. Could that be my Central Asian connection as well?

My real question is where is all the Southern European coming from? I mean 20%? That’s a lot! And I have no one from that area for like 16 generations! Yes, I have some VERY Distant ancestors that were in Italy for quite a few generations. To give you an idea of old they are, here’s who I’m talking about:

  • Sir Roger De Hautville, Grand Count of Sicily. Born 1030 in Sicily. (My 22nd Great Grandfather) His father was born in England.
  • Count Roger II, King of Sicily. Born 1093 in Sicily (My 21st Great Grandfather)
  • King Tancred of Both Sicilys, Born 1130 in Sicily (My 20th Great Grandfather)
  • Aaron Fitz Roger, born 1249 in Rome, Italy (My 19th Great Grandfather)
  • Aaron (or John) Fitz Roger, born 1260 in Rome Italy (My 18th Great Grandfather)
  • Aaron Fitz Roger, born in Italy (My 17th Great Grandfather)
  • John Fits Roger, Gentleman, Morn 1335 in England (My 16th Great Grandfather)

So you can see there were 7 generations of the family that were born in Italy, but that was about 900 years ago, so I’m not sure that’s what’s accounting for all that Southern European. I also have very old roots in Spain. Here’s an example of them:

  • Alphonso VIII, King of Leon and Castile, Born 1105, Spain (My 23rd Great Grandfather)
  • Ferdinand II, King of Leon, born 1137 in Toledo, Spain (My 22nd Great Grandfather)
  • Alphonso IX, King of Leon, born 1171 in Spain (My 21st Great Grandfather)
  • Ferdinand III, King of Castile and Leon, Born circa 1198 in Spain (My 20th Great Grandfather)
  • Princess Eleanor of Castile, born 1244 in Castile, Burgos, Spain (My 19th Great Grandmother)
  • Eleanor moved to England and married King Edward I (Longshanks) Plantagenet.

Again, this seems so distant to account for the 20% in my DNA. I’m really at a loss to understand how this number could be so high.

So that’s about it. Was it worth the money? That remains to be seen. One of the reasons I did this test was that I’m searching for a long-lost close relative. I’m hoping perhaps we can find each other through our DNA as conventional searching hasn’t worked so far. I’ve also downloaded the raw DNA data from Family Tree DNA and uploaded it onto another site, www.gedmatch.com. I’m curious to see if this yields any matches. I uploaded my data there today, but he site says it takes a few days to process the info. I’ll post again to give a review of that site. I would have loved to be able to upload my DNA data onto my Ancestry.com account, but they don’t let you do that there.  Seems a little unfair as you can upload your Ancestry DNA data onto Family Tree DNA’s site.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, Genealogist and author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

 

7 May 2016: My DNA Results are in! … PART ONE mtDNA May 7, 2016

I finally received the results of my DNA tests last week. As I said in my first post, I used the company Family Tree DNA. Mostly because I’d read on-line reviews that insinuated that you got more detailed results with them. I did two tests, the Family Finder and the mtDNA. The Family Finder tested you for your whole spectrum DNA and the mtDNA only tests your maternal line DNA. Since there’s quite a bit of info here, I’m going to split this up into two posts.

First I’ll start with my mtDNA test. This is the test that zeros in on just my maternal line. My direct maternal line has been one of my most annoying brick walls. Here’s what I know starting with me:

  • Me
  • Myra Wells (my mom)
  • Florence Jeanatte Weber 1902-1961 (my grandmother) born in Jersey City, NJ
  • Julia Regina Erbig 1882-1954 (my great grandmother) born in Jersey City, NJ
  • Catherine/Kate Green 1860-1936 (my great great grandmother) born in New Jersey
  • Regina Von Glahn 1835-1907 (my great great great grandmother) born in Germany or Holland

Regina has been impossible to track down past her passenger manifest to America in 1850. The only scrap of info I had as a lead was an old family rumor that the female line in the family had Jewish roots. I was hoping that with this mtDNA test, I’d be able to prove or disprove this theory and perhaps find someone else with the same line where we could share info and find a way to break through my brick wall.

When the test results came back in, I have to say I was annoyed that they are so vague. Perhaps it’s just the test itself, but I was annoyed by the way in which the results are explained to you. I’ll get to that later on. First of all, this is the dashboard you get on the website when you log in.

My Family Tree DNA Dashboard

My Family Tree DNA Dashboard

Let’s start with my Matches.   As you can see below the website has listed folks who, like me, are in their database and have been found as a match for their mtDNA, maternal line DNA. (I’ve blacked out their last names for their privacy.) Under the column “Genetic Distance” a 0 (zero) means we are an exact match and that our family connection is the closest. As the numbers go up, our common ancestor goes farther back in time. The other info listed is the ancestor the person listed on their profile as the farthest back they can trace. If you click on the little blue square that looks like a family tree it will show you the family tree that person built on the site. I found it extremely useful to be able to look at their family tree to see if I could find any commonality. If you click on the envelope you can also email these folks to see if they want to work with you on your research.

My mtDNA Matches

The next item on the dashboard is my Ancestral Origins. This report was what annoyed me the most about my results, mainly because Family Tree DNA gives you no explanation of what it means. I actually had to call them up and the explanation I did get was really strange. Here’s the first few lines of the report. I’ll scan and attach the full one below as well. Another thing I didn’t like was that there is no way to download these results as a PDF.

Mt DNA Ancestral Origins

Here’s what the columns mean:

  • Country Total: The total number of people in the Family Tree DNA database that claim to have ancestry in the country listed.
  • Match Total: The total number of people listed in “Country Total” that are actually matches to your mtDNA.
  • Percentage: The percentage of people in “Country Total” that are in your “Match Total.” Yes, had I a calculator, I could have figured this one out for myself.
  • Comment: Either a region of that country or ethnic people of that country that your matches have listed as part of their ancestry, which of course is pretty subjective as it could very well be based of family rumor more than truth proved with evidence.

Interestingly enough, my highest percentage of match came from the country of Morocco with 14.5%.

Morocco

When I called customer service to ask for an explanation of this report, even the Family Tree DNA rep said this report was kind of weird. When I asked about ways to find out if I was Jewish or not, he said that by the extremely large amount of Jewish ancestry noted in the comments fields of my report that odds were extremely high I had Jewish roots on my maternal line!

Mazel Tov

No, I didn’t get exacting scientific proof … yet … but that was good enough for me. Yeah! I’m a Jew. I’ll take it where I can get it. I’m so tired of just being plain old white bread European.

Here’s my Full Ancestral Origins Report:

Report Page 1

Report Page 1

Report Page 2

Report Page 2

Report Page 4

Report Page 3

Report Page 4

Report Page 4

Report Page 5

Report Page 5

The next item on the dashboard is the Matches Map. Here’s what it looks like when you open it up:

mtDNA Matches Map whole World

If you zoom in on a place, here’s what you see. If you click on a pin, the info for that person pops up.

mtDNA Matches Map for NYC

All things considered, this is just another way of looking at your matches.

The next item on the dashboard is the Migration Map. Here’s what it looks like.

MtDna Migration Map

There is no explanation to help you understand what this map really means so I honestly have no clue what it’s supposed to tell me. You’d think if they went through the trouble of creating it, they’d at least want you to understand it.

The other tab is the Frequency Map. Here’s what it looks like:

mtDNA Frequency Map

At least this map gives you a little explanation, but then when you click on one of the pie charts, I’m lost again. It doesn’t explain what A,B,C,D and X are for.

Mtdan Frequency map close up

Next on the Dashboard is the Haplogroup Origins. Take a look for yourself, but I don’t see how this differs from the Ancestral Group origins report much.

Haplogroup origins

 

Next on the dashboard is my Results. I’m Haplogroup H7, which according to Family Tree DNA is an uncommon branch found in low frequencies. Gee, nice to know I’m special.  Here’s the scientific gobbledygook they throw at you here:

Results 1

Results 2The last item on the dashboard is my Certificates. Here’s what I got:

CertifiacateThe only other certificate was the migration map which was kind of redundant.  So what did I think of this test? I have mixed feelings.  I get the impression that no matter what company I used, I was going to have a difficult time proving my Jewish heritage and really that was the only reason I did the test. I feel that there is interesting results to be had here, but was disappointed that Family Tree DNA did such a poor job of interpreting these results in an easy to understand way.  I think the Family Finder test results were more interesting.  That test will be my next post here.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, Genealogist and author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

 

25 Feb 2016: Breaking the DNA Barrier February 25, 2016

I thought I’d do a series of posts allowing you to follow along with my experiences in having my DNA tested.  I know lots of folks who have considered using modern technology to aid in their genealogy research, but the price seems a little high with an uncertain outcome of success. For a long time, this was me.  I mean I already know a startling amount about my family history.  What more could I learn from the DNA that is locked inside the cells of my body?

Well, we’re about to find out.

After doing some research, I decided to work with Family Tree DNA (www.familytreedna.com) I chose them because from the chatter I read online, they give you the best results for the money. And it wasn’t cheap. I decided to purchase two tests, the Family Finder and the mtDNA Ancestry Test.

ftda-logo

Here’s what they consist of:

mtDNA Ancestry Test: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down almost unchanged from a mother to her children. That lets you trace your maternal ancestry using the world’s largest mtDNA database.

Family Finder: Will give you a very detailed geographic breakdown of where your ancestors came from. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of hundreds of ethnic groups around the world.

The Family Finder test is $99 and the mtDNA is $199, so all together it was about $312 including a shipping charge.  Considering the package it came in, I think that shipping charge was a bit high.

What came in the mail from Family Tree DNA

What came in the mail from Family Tree DNA

After I placed my order online, they mailed the test out to me very quickly.  I followed the instructions given and swabbed the inside of my cheeks.  Today I mailed back my samples, so now we wait to see what I get for my $312.

My samples and release form to be mailed back.

My samples and release form to be mailed back.

What am I hoping for?

I have two goals in mind that were the reasons I decided to outlay such a sum of cash. First, there’s been a persistent rumor on my mom’s side of the family, that my mother’s, mother’s, mothers’, mother’s, etc, side of the family was jewish. Since I’ve been unable to track that maternal line back to Europe, hopefully the mtDNA test will either prove or disprove the rumor that I’m a Jew.  Personally, I’m hoping I’m one of God’s chose people.  There’s not a whole lot of us at my Baptist church.  🙂  The most distant female line ancestor I know of is Regina Von Glahn. She was born in February 1835 in either Germany or Holland.  She came to America in 1850 and married Jacob Green, then died 17 February 1907 in Secaucus, New Jersey. Hopefully with this test, I’ll find out more about Regina’s origins.

The second reason, and the reason that I’ve decided to spend the money now instead of later is that I’m searching for a long-lost relative. I recently read an article that said that many people who have been adopted do DNA tests to find out about their biological family histories. In the case of Family Tree DNA, I had to sign a release form to send back with my samples.  This form gives  FT DNA permission to disclose my name and address to any close family matches that they may find in their database.  I’m hoping that maybe he has or he will send in his DNA for testing, if so, maybe I’ll be able to find this relative.  Since he was adopted and I’m having difficulty tracking him down after his adoption, who knows … maybe being one of God’s chosen people will help!

Anyway, this is post number one.  I’ll post again to let you know what results I get from my test.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, genealogist and author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.