Sunday, June 12, 2011

YDNA Errrrrrr

DNA genealogy, a classic good news / bad news scenario. The good news is that YDNA is past down from father to son so every direct male ancestor of mine would have the same YDNA as me, kinda. Nothing is perfect. There are certain YDNA makers that are known as fast mutating markers. So what does that mean? It means that you can be off by a few markers and still be related. Which means it's very difficult to get an exact match with anyone.

For example, I first took a 46 marker YDNA test through I was so excited when my results came back. Finally I was going to find my direct ancestors. On my first database search I had over 500 matches. Then there is this statical time period thing that estimates how many generations back you are related to a specific match. I love it, the feed back shows that you and this other YDNA person have a 99% probability of having a common ancestor in the past 50 generations. That's cool except 50 generations ago was way before we were using surnames. So what good id the match?

Then there are websites that have surname groups but you must take your YDNA from that site in order to join in the surname group. So off I go and spend another $100+ for a 37 marker test so I can join the group. Guess what? The results from this new test don't match my results from the first test. The 37 marker test was off by 2 markers from the 46 marker test. Which means that I have a high probability of being related to me in the past 5 generations. Hint: remember those fast mutating markers. On two of those markers my two tests were off by 1 on two known fast mutating markers.

So I join this surname group to find out that I'm not matching up with anyone in the group. But if I mess around with the mutating markers I find I'm matching a lot of the members. OK, what does messing around mean? It means that if I “assumed” that if a mutating marker was only off by one point then I counted it as a match. After all my two miss matched markers were only off by one marker each and I know I'm related to me. Then I decided what happens if I don't count mutating markers at all?

Good news is that after playing some games with mutating markers I came up with a handful of high matches. Bad news is all I know about the matching people is their kit number. Why would someone pay to get their YDNA, then post it for the world to see but not give you anyway to contact them to see if you are truly related.

No problem, the web site for the surname group has a message stating contact your surname group administrator for assistance. They should have mention that the administrator may or may not reply to your email. Mine didn't

I could go on and on but the bottom line is that the various types of DNA have the potential of being a great tool for genealogy. I think the science is good and getting better all the time. My grip focuses on the process involved in the interpretation of your results.

Man, it feels good to have said all this even if I'm only saying it to the other me. (joke)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Research Journal

I've been researching my Weeks Family roots for about 8 years now. I'm retired and I'm a Windsurfer. I moved to South Padre Island, Texas in 2003. I'm fortunate enough to have my health (thank you Lord), and to be able to enjoy my three most favorite things: Windsurfing, Genealogy and a good action adventure book. Mornings for genealogy and afternoons for windsurfing. Every now and then there is a chore that gets in the way but that's life.

Regarding genealogy, when I first started researching my family everything was new and thrilling. So much information to read through, so much “stuff” to collect and store. You know the drill, “this piece is interesting, I need to save it, I might need it some time......” I guess that logic is what leads to mountains papers to be stored, extra hard drives and a indexing systems that ensures you'll never find what your looking for and reams of paper and more printer cartridges than you can imagine.

But best of all, looking at a piece a paper thinking that you'll never need it but you need to file it anyway. Then years later you come across that piece of paper only to find that it's information helps you solve a problem you've been chasing for years. But why wasn't that obvious the first time you read that doc? Then you start second guessing yourself, what other treasures do I have buried, What did I do with this and that...., and on it goes.

Part of my problem in researching is time. Not like I don't have the time it's more like the need for instant gratification. I spend 35+ years in the high tech business and in that industry you had milliseconds to solve a problem and the life of that solution had even a shorter life span. Well, not really but it sure felt that way. But genealogy is just the opposite. Genealogy moves at the speed of a glacier. Talk about stopping to smell the roses, with genealogy you have time to plant the seed and watch the darn rose grow old and then fall away.

But the happy ending to this story is this blog. This blog gives me a place to write about my frustrations and to organize my research results. The process of writing something out and then posting it, even if I'm the only person who will ever read it, give me the feeling of accomplishing something.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Family Bible vs. Government Records?

I've been chasing Samuel C. Weeks for the past 10 years trying to find his parents. His death certificate shows him dieing in Jul 26, 1870 at the age of 64 making is birth year at about 1804. Early census information shows him to be 35 in 1840 and 45 in 1850 making is birth year 1805. In my searches for this person I post his birth date as abt.1805.  Census also shows him being born in Maryland.

Recently I've made contact with a third cousin who has a very old family bible. Samuel C. Weeks is listed in the bible. His birthday is listed as Nov 29,1801. The bible also shows his date of death exactly the same as the death certificate, Jul 26, 1870.

I guess what I'm asking is do I run with the new info or stay with the abt. 1805 or run with both? It's very tempting to put a specific date in the birth date field.

A quick search on with the new birth date only shows one Samuel Weeks b: 1801 in England.  Maryland was the primary port of entry in the early 1800's.  Maybe Samuel's parents came to America in 1805, hmmmm.  All of a sudden research is fun again.

Not sure what to do with the new information.  Any advise regarding this topic?