Thursday, June 02, 2016

Heritage Admixture- the closer you look, the less you know

The brilliant Dr Yaniv Erlich is the presenter of a new TedTalk, this one about the give and take of crowdsourcing dna for medical research.

I joined when it first started up.  It was my second encounter in the now wide world of dna testing, after having do my autosomal testing.  I didn't really know what to expect from but the idea of having my data included in medical research was enough encouragement.  I grew up in a very pro-science family (we didn't go to church, we watched science shows together, I majored in Biology before switching to Philosophy, my dad donated his body to science when he died).  Ymmv.

One thing jumped out at me during this presentation- there were people who didn't "trust" them with their dna.  It reminded me of some angry comments I saw on social media.  This always struck me as an odd idea.  People commented about deleting their data from's database, which they said they would upload again later when had a larger database.  So for them it was just about the relative matches.  People, if you want matches, upload at gedmatch.  If you want your dna to help advance medical research, upload at

This video also got me to revisit my own account.  I hadn't looked at it in several months.  They had since adjusted their admixture for heritage or as they call it, Ancestry Report.  Before my results from were (something like) 92% European and 8% Ashkenazi Jewish.  Not a lot of detail but one big surprise for me in the Ashkenazi piece.  For comparison sake, my results were 81% Western European, 15% Irish, 2% Great Britain, 1% Finnish, and trace Eastern European.  Now my results are...

They also have defined these categories...

As for these specific changes, my first reaction was a little disappointed that my Ashkenazi piece disappeared but I welcomed the Mediterranean piece.  These ephemeral urges made me laugh at myself.  Anyone who has much experience with dna analysis will tell you that these values are for entertainment value only.  Even on Gedmatch you can find about 60 different filters to re-interpret heritage admixture.  It is great fun, but sadly doesn't lead you anywhere.  The more of these analyses you look at, the more it is clear that we are all made of tiny bits of nearly every heritage out there. Some more measurable, some not.  All one human race, and yet all distinct.    

Sunday, March 20, 2016

DNA Analysis for Heritage & Genealogy

I am a huge fan of Drank the koolaid over 10 years ago and am still madly in love with them. As a genealogist who loves the records there isn't a better fit. Yes, some people grumble about a pay subscription service. And those people are missing out on all the new records that your subscription fees pay for. IMO, it is a terrific investment in ensuring records are made available. You give them your money, they go out and procure new records, scan them, organize them, and deliver them to you housed on their secure site. Genealogy bliss... Nothing but love, Ancestry.

Last year I took things to the next level and did autosomal testing for both me & my husband. It has been a fantastic new chapter in my family history experience. 

The first phase was absorbing the heritage results. Mine: 81% Western European, 15% Irish, 2% Great Britain, 1% Eastern European, 1% Finnish/Northern Russia. Since all my paper trails lead to Great Britain and Ireland I was expecting more Great Britain but I am not disappointed by any means. There were several moments of, "really, but I thought..."  

After the shock wore off and the news settled in I wanted to know more. Western Europe is a big place with a whole mess of cultural identities. How could they all possibly fit in one catch-all? I was looking forward to breaking through some brick walls, but now that wall just got 10 feet taller. Suddenly I felt short changed, 81% of my heritage from a large land mass chock full of culture and history and all I got was this t-shirt? I needed to know more! 

I am a Facebook junkie. If you are interested in something, search for it on Facebook. It is better than Google. I belong to several genealogy-related organizations (DAR, Texas Genealogical Society, etc) and am members of their Facebook groups. That was where I first heard about the International Society of Genetic Genealogy. Great organization, terrific website, fantastic wiki, super informative Facebook group full of people sharing info and giving input. There is quite an education in just reading other people's conversations in that Facebook group. Some good person there, maybe lots of them, mentioned Gedmatch. It is the next step in your genetic genealogy journey. Did I mention it is free?

Download your raw data from Ancestry (or another testing service) and upload it to Gedmatch. Here is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, things you can do at Gedmatch with your raw data:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

There used to a post here about us trying I-Fly. Somehow the images and the video disappeared. So I just leave this marker in place as a reminder that we did that. Fun, rather expensive.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

da' girls

Amber, Sabrina, Naomi & Camille. Seriously silly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cox family

Trying to assemble a post about my Cox ancestors. Wish I had some pictures but this was largely before cameras, folks.

Asa Cox and Margaret McDonald Cox were my great-great-great-grandparents. They were one of the first families to move to Alabama and start the community of Fredonia in Chambers county, circa 1830. I have had a hell of a time researching the Cox family as there are a few men out there about the same time with the same name, Asa Cox. Go figure... But my Asa was married to Margaret McDonald, born in 1788 (Georgia?) & died of tb in Alabama about 1857, emphatically.

Parents of my Asa were William Cox and Melinda Madden Cox. William was born in 1755 in Fauquier co, VA and fought in the Revolution. "William Cox was under (General) Shelby at (the battle of) King's Mountain, where he was wounded. He was subsequently a member of the convention that organized the State of Franklin." (from Lineage Book, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1898.)

Parents of William Cox were Abraham Cox and Elizabeth Arthur Cox. According to DAR records, Abraham emigrated from England where he was born in 1735. Abraham was a patriot of the Washington district, Watauga settlement and his name is found on the petition to the Provincial Congress, 1776. The Watauga settlement was the first independent state, until it was annexed by North Carolina. (It is near Elizabethton in Tennessee.) Abraham's will here.

I have just started researching the history of the Watauga Association, Washington District. It is juicy stuff, genealogical gold in my opinion. The first majority rule community in America, that being the state of Franklin, where the first Constitution was written, about 1770. It has also highlighted some curious connections for me. Like the presence of my Cox ancestors and my step-father's Robertson ancestors in the same community. And the presence of another 4-great-grandfather Thomas Trammell at the same battles (his grandson Pulaski married William's granddaughter Frances after they ended up in another rural frontier community together in Alabama). I love these random connections! I have another in my tree, between my parents' ancestors, Dad's Hampton aunts married Mom's Long cousins...but I digress.

So the people in this area were called the "Overmountain Men" because they lived over the Appalachians. There are some great links below for more info. What is also interesting is the treatment of these soldiers in the current media. The battle of Cowpens, also fought by Overmoutain Men was depicted in the film The Patriot, with some artistic license. Billy Ray Cyrus also referred to the Overmountain Men in the "Hillbilly" documentary. Both I will now have to watch again, proudly.