Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Super Bowl 2018 Edition

It's Saturday Night - 
time for more Genealogy Fun! 

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  The Super Bowl is on Sunday, 4 February 2018 in the USA.  The New England Patriots are playing the Philadelphia Eagles for the National Football League championship up in Minnesota (an indoor stadium!).  The winners get to go to Disney World.  

2)  Predict the score for this game.  You have to predict the winning team and the closest to the actual score (point differential summed for both teams) to be the winner.  The winner of this contest gets announced next week in a Genea-Musings blog post.  

3)  Tell a story about your experiences playing football or watching professional football games.  Did you go to football games? Who in your family was the real fan of the game?  What were the pre-game routines?  How do you, or your family, react to good plays or bad plays, or wins or losses?

4)  Provide your entry in a comment to this blog post, in a blog post of your own, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.  Be sure to tell me about your post in a comment to this post.

Here's mine:

My score prediction:  Patriots 27, Eagles 20

I actually worked for the San Diego Chargers in the summer of 1963.  Read My first real job for more details. 

I've been a pro football fan since the late 1950s, growing up in San Diego before the Chargers came to town in 1961.  My father played football in high school, and my uncle Edward Seaver was a lineman for the Columbia University that went to the Rose Bowl in 1934 and beat Stanford, 7-0.  

When the Chargers came to town in 1961 I was 18, and watching the NFL games became a regular event on Sunday afternoons.  There was only one game a week.  I went to several Charger home games each season at Balboa Stadium near downtown San Diego.  In 1963, when I worked for the team, I started taking my 8 year old brother Scott to the games.  We went to the championship game also, my Chargers beat the Patriots 51-10 for the AFL championship.  

After I was working in engineering for awhile, I spent quite a bit of time at the local bowling alley, and some of the guys in the bar got tickets to the Chargers games at the new San Diego Stadium in Mission Valley.  So I went, and Linda and I eventually got season tickets for several years before our children were born.  We always sat in the first row of the upper deck at about the 30 yard line on the south side of the field.  

Alas, my home team, MY Chargers, have fled to a soccer stadium in Carson near Los Angeles.  They left because the San Diego voters wouldn't pony up $500 million for a jazzy downtown stadium, and the one in Mission Valley is 50 years old and not suitable for a Super Bowl any longer.  As luck would have it, the Spanos family has to pay about $500 million over 20 years for the privilege of moving to Los Angeles and leaving hundreds of thousands of fans here in San Diego.  Traitors, Judases, chasing the almighty dollar.  I hope the owners go broke.

It's going to be 75 F here on Sunday - perfect Super Bowl weather.  Enough said!  

 I still watch the Chargers games every week that they are on and sometimes watch the other Sunday afternoon game, and some of the Sunday night and Monday night games.  

I used to get upset during the games by a bad play or bad luck, but I've become more stoical in recent years (stuff happens!).  I still talk to myself about some plays, and I still suggest plays that should work to the TV, but nobody listens.  I don't dress up in a team jersey or shirt because they weren't lucky in the past.  I do have a bucket of popcorn at halftime of Charger home games.  

After 58 years of Chargers football, with one league championship (1963) and one Super Bowl year (1995 Super Bowl XXIX, lost 49-26 to the 49ers and it wasn't that close!), I yearn for another championship team.  I hope it comes soon - I don't have that many good years left!


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Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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Surname Saturday - PAGE (England to colonial New England)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week.  

I am working in the 9th great-grandmothers by Ahnentafel number, and I am up to Ancestor #2079 who is Susannah PAGE (1614-1691). 
[Note: the earlier great-grandmothers and 9th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts.]

My ancestral line back through three generations in this PAGE family line is:

1. Randall J. Seaver

2. Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983)
3. Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002)

4. Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942)
5. Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962)

8. Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922)
9. Hattie Louise Hildreth (1857-1920)

16. Isaac Seaver (1823-1901)
17. Lucretia Townsend Smith (1827-1884)

32. Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825)
33. Abigail Gates (1797-1869)

64. Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816)
65. Martha Whitney (1764-1832)

128.  Norman Seaver (1734-1787)
129.  Sarah Read (1736-1809)

258.  Isaac Read (1704-1780)
259.  Experience Willis (1709-1787)

518.  Samuel Willis (1675-1758)
519.  Susannah Gleason (1676-1756)

1038.  Joseph Gleason (1640-1715)
1039.  Martha Russell (1647-1684)

2076.  Thomas Gleson, born before 03 September 1609 in Cockfield, Suffolk, England; died 1686 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.  He was the son of 4156. Thomas Gleson and 4157. Anne Armesby.  He married 31 July 1634 in Cockfield, Suffolk, England.
2077.  Susannah Page, born before 04 December 1614 in Ingham, Suffolk, England; died 24 January 1691 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States.  

Children of Thomas Gleson and Susannah Page are:
*  Susan Gleason (1635-????).
*  Thomas Gleason (1638-1705), married (1) 1665 Sarah Streeter (1643-1703); (2) 1695 Mary Mellen (1670-????).
Joseph Gleason (1640-1715), married (1) 1667 Martha Russell (1647-1684), (2) 1688 Abigail Garfield (1645-1726).
*  Frances Gleason (1643-1644).
*  John Gleason (1645-1689), married 1673 Mary Ross (1656-1703).
*  William Gleason (1648-1691), married 1678 Abiah LNU (1651-1723).
*  Philip Gleason (1650-1690).
*  Isaac Gleason (1654-1698), married 1684 Hester Eggleston (1663-1698).
*  Mary Gleason (1657-????).
*  Ann Gleason (1659-1741), married 1688 John Gibbs (1663-1718).

4154.  Thomas Page, died before 12 June 1637 in Hawstead, Suffolk, England.  He married 
4155.  Susanna LNU, died before 13 September 1631 in Hawstead, Suffolk, England.

Children of Thomas Page and Susanna are:
*  Mary Page (1607-????)
*  William Page (1609-1685), married Hannah LNU (1611-1686).
*  Thomas Page (1611-????).
*  Rebecca Page (1613-1613).
Susannah Page (1614-1691), married 1634 Thomas Gleson (1609-1686).
*  John Page (1617-????).
*  Joseph Page (1620-1620).
*  Joseph Page (1622-????).

The information for this Page family was obtained from:

*  Dan Page,  "Susanna Page and Thomas Gleason," Gleason Surname Board  ( , 19 August 2007.


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Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Genealogy News Bytes - 2 February 2018

Some of the genealogy news items across my desktop the last three days include:

1)  News Articles:

The Family Nexus Product Updates

*  RootsTech 2018 Announces Lineup of Keynote Speakers

*  Dutch Genealogy News for January 2018

*  The National Genealogical Society Has Moved

2)  Record Databases:

*   FREE ACCESS at Findmypast to Birth, Marriage, Death and Census Records This Week

*  AmericanAncestors:  New Database Specific Search Option

*  New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday, 2 February 2018

*  Black History Month 2018 – Access Black History Records

3)  Genealogy Education:

 GeneaWebinars Calendar

 International African American Museum to Present Free Genealogy Seminars Every Saturday in February

*  Free Family History Library Classes and Webinars for February 2018

*  REGISTER: Feb 2018 DearMYRTLE Webinars

*  FREE Webinar from SCGS on Saturday, February 3, 2018, 10 a.m. PST: Jumping the Pond: Finding the Origins of Your Immigrant Ancestor, by Donna Moughty

*  Archived Family Tree Webinar:  Comparing the Genealogy Giants: Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage, by Sunny Morton

*  Archived Member Friday Webinar:  World War I: Women’s Lives During the War, by Gena Philibert Ortega

*  DearMYRTLE YouTube Channel:   AmericaGen Study Group - Chapter 1 "Understanding Genealogical Research"

*  DearMYRTLE YouTube Channel:  England to Virginia: Distressed Cavaliers & Indentured Servants

*  Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel:  Find A Grave New Website Design - What is so bad?

*  Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel:  RootsTech GBA.Buzz Scavenger Hunt App Explained

*  BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel: Family Tree Cleanup Case Study 2: Connecting and Correcting the Holtby Family - Kathryn Grant

4)  Bargains:

*  Genealogy Bargains for Friday, February 2,  2018

5)  Neat Stuff:

*  Farmington woman finds father through DNA research

Oneida man unexpectedly finds birth mother through DNA ancestry kit

Explore the Largest Known Early Map of the World, Assembled for the First Time

A New Fad Sweeps the Country in the 1870s

Did you miss the last Genealogy News Bytes - 30 January 2018?


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday, 2 February 2018

I received this information from Findmypast today:


New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday

There are over 755,000 new records available to search this Findmypast Friday, including;

Search our new collection of over 3,000 records from The National Archives recording the details of the women and men who supported women's suffrage in the early 20th century. Discover your suffragette ancestor among the arrest records, parliamentary papers, watch list of over 1,300 suffragettes, personal statements, reports of force-feeding, and transcripts of speeches.

The collection brings together the stories of women of all classes who actively supported women's suffrage by attending peaceful demonstrations and meetings, as well as committed arson attacks, window breaking, contributed to public disobedience, chalked on footpaths, and more. You will find working-class women of the factories recorded alongside aristocratic women. The records do include the names of male suffragettes who were arrested with their female comrades.

Over 50 volumes - Browse Home Office files and Police records pertaining to suffragettes spanning the years 1902 to 1919. The collection includes the following series of records from The National Archives: AR1, CRIM9, HO144, HO45, HO140, MEPO2, and MEPO3.

Browse through over 900 bishop's transcripts from the Durham diocese. The diocese's boundaries will have changed over time, and included in this collection are records from Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, and Yorkshire counties. From these records, you can discover key dates of vital events in your ancestor's life, such as marriage and burial dates. You may also discover such details as your ancestor's spouse's name, age, and abode.

This browse-only collection contains name indexes of prospective brides and grooms, place indexes, and marriage abstracts. From these records, you can discover the couple's names, marital statuses, ages, occupations, and residences.

Browse through 300 files from the Union Provost Marshal created during the Civil War. These records provide a wide array of information on topics such as deserters, civilians suspected of disloyalty, civilian passage through military zones, and Confederate spies. The Provost Marshal acted as the military police for the Union Army. These records pertain to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) publication M345. This collection has been obtained from FamilySearch.

Browse through 94 volumes of records of Confederate prisoners of war during the American Civil War spanning the years 1861 to 1865. The majority of these volumes comes from the War Department's Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners. Some volumes were obtained from the Surgeon General's Office and others from army commands and individual prison camps.

Browse 149 registers from the War Department's Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners may include such details as name, rank, regiment, county and state, and where and when captured, as well as whether an individual was discharged, exchanged, or transferred. The records contained in this collection are mainly registers, which may include such details as name, rank, regiment, county and state, and where and when captured, as well as whether an individual was discharged, exchanged, or transferred. These records pertain to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) publication M598. This collection has been obtained from FamilySearch.

In total, 73,516 new images and 10,386 new articles have been added to the index this month. The new additions have been added to the following six titles;

•        California Historical Society Quarterly

•        Catholic Record Society Publications

•        County Louth Archaeological Society Journal

•        American Monthly Magazine

•        Herts Genealogist and Antiquary

•        The Index Library


Disclosure:  I have a complimentary subscription to Findmypast, and have accepted meals and services from Findmypast, as a Findmypast Ambassador.  This has not affected my objectivity relative to Findmypast and its products.

Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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52 Ancestors - Week 212: #291 Elizabeth (Harwood) Prescott (1701-1739) of Westford, Massachusetts

Elizabeth Harwood (1701-1739) is #291 on my Ahnentafel List, my 6th great-grandmother, who married #290  Jonas Prescott (1703-1784) in 1731 in Westford, Massachusetts.

I am descended through:

*  their daughter #145 Elizabeth Prescott (1734-1812) who married #144 Zachariah Hildreth (1728-1784) in 1753.
*  their son, #72 Zachariah Hildreth (1754-1829) who married #73 Elizabeth Keyes (1759-1793) in 1777.
*  their son, #36 Zachariah Hildreth (1783-1857) who married #37 Hannah Sawtell (1789-1857) in 1810.
*  their son, #18 Edward Hildreth (1831-1899) who married #19 Sophia Newton (1834-1923) in 1852.
*  their daughter #9 Hattie Louisa Hildreth (1857-1920)  who married #8 Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922) in 1874.
*  their son #4 Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942) who married #5 Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962) in 1900.
*  their son #2 Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983) who married #3 Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002) in 1942.
*  their son #1 Randall Jeffrey Seaver (1943-living)


1)  PERSON (with source citations as indicated in brackets):
*  Name:                         Elizabeth Harwood[1–3]    
*  Alternate Name:         Elisabeth Prescott4–5

*  Sex:                            Female    

*  Father:                       Nathaniel Harwood (1669-1751)    
*  Mother:                     Mary Barron (1673-1758)  

2)  INDIVIDUAL EVENTS (with source citations as indicated in brackets):
*  Birth:                        28 January 1701, Chelmsford, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States[1]    

*  Death:                       27 December 1739 (age 38), Westford, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States[4–5]    
3)  SHARED EVENTS (with source citations as indicated in brackets):

*  Spouse 1:                   Jonas Prescott (1703-1784)    
*  Marriage 1:                7 March 1730/1 (age 28), intentions; Westford, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States[2–3]    

*  Child 1:                      Elijah Prescott (1732-1732)    
*  Child 2:                      Elizabeth Prescott (1734-1812)    
*  Child 3:                      Isaac Prescott (1738-1738)    
*  Child 4:                      Benjamin Prescott (1739-1741)
4)  NOTES (with source citations as indicated in brackets):    

Elizabeth Harwood was born 28 January 1701 in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, the third daughter and third child (of seven) of Nathaniel and Mary (Barron) Harwood of Chelmsford[1]

She married Nathaniel Harwood on 7 March 1730/1 (intentions) in Groton, as his second wife[2-3].  They had four children born between 1732 and 1739; Elijah (born 1732, died within two weeks), Elizabeth (born 1734), Isaac (born 1738, died within three months), and Benjamin (born 1739, died within two years), all recorded in Westford, Massachusetts (which split from Chelmsford in 1730).

Elizabeth Prescott died on 27 December 1739 in Westford, Massachusetts[4-5] at the age of 38 years, ten days after the birth of her fourth child, Benjamin.  Her death record in the Westford town records says:

"Elisabeth Prescott Wife of Jonas Prescott Junr
died December 27 day 1739
Recorded by me Jonas Prescott Junr Town Clerk
in the year 1739."

There is no known gravestone marker for Elizabeth (Harwood) Prescott in Chelmsford or Westford, Massachusetts.

Her only surviving child was daughter Elizabeth Prescott (1734-1812), who married Zachariah Hildreth (1728-1784) in 1753.  Elizabeth (Harwood) Prescott's father, Nathaniel Harwood (1669-1751) bequeathed 5 pounds to his granddaughter Elizabeth Prescott in his 1744 will, proved in 1751.


1. Town of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Vital Records of Chelmsford, Massachusetts to the Year 1850 (Salem, Mass. : The Essex Institute, 1914), Births, page 77, Elizabeth Harwood entry.

2. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, digital images, (, Westford > Births, Marriages and Death, image 17 of 1750, Jonas Prescott and Elisabeth Harwood marriage entry, 1731.

3. Vital Records of Westford, Massachusetts to the Year 1849 (Salem, Mass. : The Essex Institute, 1915), Marriages, page 218, Jonas Prescott and Elizabeth Harwood entry.

4. Vital Records of Westford, Massachusetts to the Year 1849, Deaths, page 303, Elisabeth Prescott entry (2nd wife of Jonas, Jr.).

5. Massachusetts, Town Records, 1620-1988, digital images,, Westford Births, Marriages and Deaths, Page 41, on Image 27, Elisabeth Prescott death entry.


NOTE:  Amy Johnson Crow suggested a weekly blog theme of "52 Ancestors" in her blog post 
 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on the No Story Too Small blog.  I have extended this theme in 2018 to 260 Ancestors in 260 Weeks.

Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Seavers in the News -- George W. Seaver Disappears in 1899

It's time for another edition of "Seavers in the News" - a semi-regular feature from the historical newspapers about persons with the surname Seaver that are interesting, useful, fun, macabre, or add information to my family tree database.

This week's entry is from the Los Angeles [Calif.] Herald newspaper dated 21 May 1899:

The transcription of this article is:


"Santa Monicans Puzzled Over George W. Seaver's Disappearance

"Santa Monica, May 29. -- George W. Seaver disappeared from his home yesterday morning before breakfast, and up to this evening no news has been received as to his whereabouts.  Seaver was agent here for the Anchor laundry as well as for a mineral water and lived with his wife and her two children by a former marriage at 210 Ocean avenue.  Seaver went out to feed his horse yesterday morning before breakfast and has not been seen since.  His wife says he had about $100 in his possession, but cannot account for his sudden leave-taking, and, owing to the hour of day, a foul play theory is not tenable.  Seaver was married to his present wife about a year ago, the latter having secured a divorce from her first husband a short time previous, on account of which the ceremony took place in Mexico.  They are believed to have lived harmoniously together and no reason can be assigned by Mrs. Seaver for his strange behavior.  Seaver is a member of the Soldiers' home, out on an extended furlough, about 60 years of age, weighing about 150 pounds, with gray hair and mustache, blue eyes and wearing spectacles."

The source citation for this article is:

"Missing Man" Los Angeles [Calif.] Herald newspaper, Sunday, 21 May 1899, page 10, column 7, George W. Seaver article; digital image, California Digital Newspaper Collection  ( : accessed 1 February 2018).

I looked for additional articles about this episode, and there was one the next day in the same newspaper, and George was still missing.  Here is that article:

The transcription is:


The Missing Santa Monican Drops Completely From Sight

Santa Monica, May 21. -- The disappearance of George W. Seaver remains asm uch a mystery as ever.  From the time when he went out to the barn to feed his horse before breakfast on Friday morning nothing has been seen or heard of him.  The barn in which the horse is kept is in the rear of a cottage on the corner of Second street and Oregon avenue, up the alley about a block from where Seaver lived.  A neighbor saw him carry a bucket of water into the barn soon after 6 o'clock on Friday morning and for all trace that has been found of him since the earth might have opened and swallowed him from sight.  A search has been made in the crevices along the bluff and Santa Monica heights and the surrounding of the big wharf have been gone carefully over, but not the slightest trace of the missing man has been found.  Many theories have been advanced, but the most plausible one seems to be that he has voluntarily gone off somewhere, whether in a fit of temporary insanity or not remains to be seen.  Seaver had a black and tan dog which followed him everywhere, and which is supposed to have been with him on Friday morning, for it has not been seen since.  The almost positive fact that the dog was with him seems proof conclusive that there has been no foul play and that he has left town, taking the animal with him.  At the time of Seaver's disappearance, a Mrs. Crane of San Pedro was the guest of his wife.  Mrs. Crane believes that Mr. Seaver must have become suddenly insane, as she says that is the only satisfactory conclusion to be arrived at, when all things are considered.  Acquaintances of the family say that Mr. and Mrs. Seaver lived on most amicable terms and Mrs. Crane states that on the evening previous to his disappearance Mr. Seaver was an interested participant in making plans for her entertainment on the following day.  Seaver carried a revolver on the day he left, something he was not in the habit of doing, and his wife can account for his action in taking the weapon on that particular morning  only for the fact that a troublesome cat frequented the yard and he had endeavored several times to kill it with the revolver.

"Marshal Baretto has sent particulars regarding the missing man to the Los Angeles police, and it is said that the Uncle Sam post, G.A.R. of the Soldiers' home, of which Seaver was a member, will organize a searching party tomorrow in an endeavor to locate their comrade."

"No Trace of Seaver" Los Angeles [Calif.] Herald newspaper, Monday, 22 May 1899, page 5, column 4, George W. Seaver article; digital image, California Digital Newspaper Collection  ( : accessed 1 February 2018).

There are some clues as to the identity of George W. Seaver besides his name.  He was about 60 years old, and was a GAR member, and had resided in the Soldiers' home.  He was married, but his wife's name was not given.  

I searched my RootsMagic database for this man, and came up dry.  I could not find a George Seaver who probably resided in the Los Angeles area, or the soldiers home in about 1899, in my database.

I searched for George W. Seaver in Los Angeles County in the 1900 U.S. Census.  There was none to be found.  

There was an entry in the "U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938" collection on for George W. Seaver, age 48 in 1893 born in Wisconsin, entering the Sawtelle Veterans Home in Los Angeles.  He enlisted in the Army on 8 December 1863 in Andover, Mass. in the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment and was discharged in Boston on 11 July 1865.

A Find A Grave memorial for this George W. Seaver was found in the Los Angeles National Cemetery, with a death date of 31 October 1918, with a death place of Sawtelle, Los Angeles County, California.  He was a member of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment, Battery K. A "U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865" collection entry on Ancestry for George W. Seaver lists an alternate name of Seavy.

There are City Directory and Voter Register entries for George W. Seaver in Los Angeles County.  He is age 65, born in Wisconsin, in the 1910 U.S. Census in the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Malibu.   He may be the George W. Seaver in Oregon in the 1870 U.S. census.

So it appears that George was found or came back at some point in time.  That probably wasn't important enough to make the news.  I wonder who his wife was?

I continue to wonder how many persons are lost to history.  This guy may be someone who has no records other than the Civil War record, the 1910 census, and the Veterans Home records.  The birth name could have been Seaver, Sever, Seever, Seavers, Severs, Seevers, Seiver, Siever, Leaver or many other spellings.  

This is just one of billions of stories in world history.  


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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Guest Article: Going Beyond Ethnicity Estimates in DNA Testing, by Paul Woodbury (Legacy Tree Genealogists)

This guest article was provided courtesy of Legacy Tree Genealogists, Inc. who holds all rights to the article.  

NOTE:  For some reason, the images in this article did not appear in the email version.  Please click the link to see the images in context with the text.


Going Beyond Ethnicity Estimates in DNA Testing
by Paul Woodbury, (c) 2018, Legacy Tree Genealogists, Inc.
As a specialist in genetic genealogy, one of the most frequent topics I address in my conversation with others is ethnicity estimates. Someone might say something like: “I’m not really sure how much to trust those genetic tests since my grandmother was Italian, and I only came back with 15% Italian in my results. If they can’t even get the ethnicity right, then what use are they?”
In reality, there are two parts of genetic genealogy test results: ethnicity admixture and genetic matches. Ethnicity admixture results analyze the mutations and segments of DNA and determine in which populations those mutations and segments are most often found. Genetic cousin match lists calculate the number, location and size of segments of DNA that different individuals share in common. Based on the number, size, and location of segments, the relationships between a test subject and their genetic cousins are estimated. While ethnicity results can be helpful in some specific situations, genetic cousin match lists are the most useful element of DNA test results.
Each individual inherits half of their autosomal DNA from each of their parents. Beyond that, the amount of DNA shared in common is only approximate due to a random process called recombination, which shuffles the DNA each generation. Each individual will inherit about 25% from each grandparent, 12.5% from each great-grandparent and approximately half the previous amount for each subsequent generation. Although two first cousins will have both inherited 25% of their DNA from each of their common grandparents (50% in total) they will have inherited a different 25%. Therefore, first cousins will typically only share about 12.5% of their DNA in common. Because descendants along distinct lines inherit different portions of their common ancestors’ DNA, it is important to test as many people from distinct family lines as possible.
Every individual in your DNA match list shares at least one segment of DNA with you that you likely inherited from a recent common ancestor. Based on the number of segments you share, the length of those segments, the position of those segments, and the likelihood of inheriting those segments over multiple generations, DNA testing companies estimate how closely related you are to different individuals in your match list. Closer relationship levels share unique and distinct levels of DNA. For example, the amount of DNA shared between siblings will be very different from the amount of DNA shared between first cousins, which in turn is distinct from the amount of DNA shared between second cousins. More distant relationships, however, are slightly harder to differentiate. The amount of DNA shared between fourth cousins could be the same as the amount of DNA shared between fifth or sixth cousins. Some more distant cousins may not share any DNA at all. Even though they may have both inherited DNA from their common ancestors, they could inherit unique segments of DNA.
So why are DNA match lists more useful than ethnicity estimates? While your ethnicity admixture results may report a general region of the world where your ancestors may have lived 300-1000 years ago, match lists give valuable clues regarding genealogical relationships to other individuals. Most of your genetic cousins are related to you within a genealogically relevant time frame. Even if you are not able to determine the exact common ancestor between you and your genetic cousins, their test results and their pedigrees may offer clues regarding specific towns and places of origin for your own ancestors. Through analysis and correlation of the trees, origins, and ancestors of members of your DNA match list, you may be able to identify previously unknown ancestors, uncover likely relatives, connect with lost branches of your family tree, and break through genealogy brick walls.
To make the most of your DNA match lists, consider the following four principles:
1. Collaboration
Genetic cousin match lists can be overwhelming. Where to start? How to begin? I recommend starting with what is closest to you. Who are your closest cousins? The more DNA a genetic cousin shares with you, the more likely it is that you will be able to identify a common ancestor with that individual. Even if you can already see how you might be related to someone, collaboration can still be helpful. Just as they will have inherited different DNA than you have from your common ancestors, they will also have inherited different stories, information, and documents that may be helpful for your search.
When collaborating with genetic cousins, make your communication brief, clear, and to the point. If it is your first attempt at contact, briefly introduce yourself. Briefly explain your research interests and explain why you are contacting them. Make 1-3 specific requests of them, offer to provide assistance or information in return, and provide direct contact information if desired.
For example, an attempt at collaboration might look like this:
“My name is [your name here] and it appears that we are genetic cousins. I have been doing genealogy research for the past five years and I am particularly interested in learning more about my maternal grandmother’s French ancestry. Based on our shared DNA and shared relatives, it appears that you may be related to my maternal grandmother. Do you have ancestry from Southern France? Do you have a family tree you can share with me? If not, could you share the names of your grandparents or great-grandparents? I would love to collaborate with you to determine the nature of our shared relationship. I have performed thorough research on my French family and have several hundred documents relating to that side of my family. If we can determine our relationship, I would be happy to share the documents, sources, and information pertinent to your family tree. Feel free to contact me through this messaging system or directly via email [email here] or by phone at [phone number here].”
Some common requests you might make while collaborating with genetic cousins include the following:
• Request access to a family tree.
• Request the names of the individual’s ancestors, keeping in mind that typically it is better to ask for the names of grandparents or great grandparents rather than parents. Asking for information regarding living individuals may make some individuals feel uncomfortable and may prevent them from responding to your request.
• Request that they transfer their test results to or another website so you can explore your relationship further.
• Request that they share their ethnicity report or their match list with you.
• Request contact information for other relatives who may know more regarding their family history.
• Request information about the amount of DNA and the known relationships they may have with genetic cousins you share.
• Ask if they have any close genetic cousins who have also tested. Knowing which of their close relatives you do not match may help to narrow down how you are related.
• If their relationship is already known, request information that they may have regarding your shared ancestor and collateral relatives.
In one recent case we performed at Legacy Tree, we were attempting to locate information regarding an individual’s biological father whom she had never met. She had a name and an occupation and that was all we had to start with. When we reviewed her test results, we found that she had a close genetic cousin who was an estimated second cousin. Based on her relationships to the client’s other matches, and based on her ethnicity, we knew that she was a paternal relative of the client, but did not know exactly how. We could have spent more than 20 hours documenting each of her great-grandparents and all of their descendants, but instead we contacted her to ask for additional information on her family tree. In mentioning the name of the client’s biological father, the match knew exactly who we were talking about and gave us information regarding his later family, his immigration to Puerto Rico, and his death – thus pointing us to the exact family of interest and saving us and the client a great deal of effort.
2. Identification
The main goal of most collaboration is to identify the source of shared DNA with a genetic cousin. But what happens when they never respond to your request? Even for non-responsive matches, it is frequently possible to determine how they are related to your family. The key to successful identification is to use every piece of evidence afforded.
Some common pieces of evidence frequently included as part of DNA profiles and which might help your search include the following:
• Username: if the username is unique or if it resembles a real name, use that to guide searches in public records, whitepages, published email lists, and social media accounts. Numbers in usernames often refer to important dates like birth or marriage. Many people use the same username with their email and social media accounts. They may also use that same username to publish queries in online genealogy forums relating to their ancestors.
• Profile picture: Use this to compare against yearbooks, newspapers, obituaries, and Facebook. You can perform reverse image searches using Tineye and Google.
• Age, birth date, birthplace, and residence: Use this information to guide searches in newspapers and online directories. Consider searching databases of yearbooks. You can also use this data to search for more recent and updated contact information.
• Small, limited, and private family trees. If they have a tree attached to their test results or to their member profile, use all information it provides. Extend their ancestry for them. If the tree is private, as is frequently the case at, perform searches of your known family names to see if any of them appear in your genetic cousins’ private tree. Also remember that the default naming pattern for trees at is to select the surname of the user followed by “Family Tree. Other websites follow a similar naming pattern and the name of the private tree could provide clues regarding your shared ancestry.
• Names of most distant known ancestors, research interests, and lists of surnames: Use this information to perform searches of combinations of surnames in databases of compiled family trees and genealogical records. Once several ancestors of a genetic match have been identified, trace their descendants until you are able to narrow down to the match themselves.
• Centimorgans, percentages, and number of segments shared: Some amounts of shared DNA are unique to specific levels of relationship. You can estimate the likelihood of different levels of relationship using the data published at the shared cM project as well as data published in the AncestryDNA help menus and at
• Shared DNA matches: Though it may not be possible to identify how a match is related to you specifically, it may be possible to determine their likely relationship based on how they are related to your other known matches.
In general, social media, newspapers, obituaries, and public record databases are excellent sources for locating information on living people. As you perform these searches, however, remember to respect the privacy and wishes of those who may not want to be contacted.
In a recent case we were able to identify the father of a woman born in Melanesia by extending the ancestry of several close genetic cousins using some of the strategies listed above. Even though these genetic cousins did not respond to requests for collaboration, and even though they provided very little information regarding their family trees on their respective DNA profiles, we were able to reconstruct this woman’s British ancestry using the trees we constructed through public records for her close genetic cousins and searching for connections between collateral relatives of each cousin. Once we had reconstructed her tree we were able to trace descendants of each of her likely ancestors and identify her father.
3. Organization
Dealing with a huge number of autosomal DNA matches can be overwhelming and confusing. I recommend organizing matches based on their known relationships to the test subject and to each other. Organization of DNA evidence follows some of the same principles as organization of traditional research. Just as good genealogy researchers will keep logs of their searches and their correspondence, genetic genealogists should also keep logs of their research and correspondence. These “logs” often take form as notes and commentary on genetic matches. Each DNA testing company offers means of annotating DNA matches, but frequently these notes are not searchable, making it somewhat difficult to locate “that one match who was related to so-and-so.”
Several third party tools can assist in organizing your DNA matches and your notes on those matches. The AncestryDNA helper chrome add-on by Jeff Snavely enables automated scans of AncestryDNA data and will add buttons to your interface at Included in these buttons is an option to search your results by user, reported surnames or notes. Another third party tool is the DNAGedcomClient by Rob Warthen. This subscription app enables researchers to perform automated scans of DNA test results at and 23andMe. The outputs of these scans are spreadsheets with information on shared DNA, ethnicity estimates, in-common-with matches and notes on genetic matches. As spreadsheets, they are searchable and can enable easy location of any notes that have been added to specific matches in the subject’s account.
Spreadsheets are an excellent way of organizing DNA matches. Each line in the spreadsheet can be dedicated to a different genetic cousin or match. We might recommend keeping separate spreadsheets for different tests or different subjects. In spreadsheets, researchers can comment on shared segments, known relationships, potential relationships, shared surnames, shared ancestral origins, and shared genetic cousins between a subject and a match. These notes can then be used during the analysis and correlation stages of the genealogical proof standard.
Another popular program for organizing DNA matches is Genome Mate Pro. As professional genealogists, we rarely utilize this program for clients since it requires a significant amount of input before meaningful results can be organized. Nevertheless, it is very useful as a database and organization tool for personal research and investigation.
Organizing your DNA matches is a daunting task not only because there may be a large number of them, but also because they are constantly changing. Developing a strong organization structure can seem like an attempt to hit a moving target. It can be even more daunting if there are multiple moving targets. The purpose of organization is to enable genealogical discovery, and genealogical discovery is most often achieved when pursued through the lens of a narrow and specific focus. Technology is meant to serve as a tool to enable a researcher’s goals and purposes, but sometimes it can become the end in and of itself. This is as true of genetic genealogy testing as it is of any other type of technology. Without clear goals and research objectives, the tools genetic genealogy offers can end up being your task masters. Rather than letting your DNA test results dictate the direction of your research, use genetic genealogy test results as a tool to make genealogical discoveries. Instead of attempting to document your relationship to each genetic cousin in your match list (an increasingly impossible task as more and more people test), seek to identify your relationship to your closest matches and then use that information to guide your prioritization and investigation of other more distant matches. Choose a specific research objective and then use your test results to narrow down to a pool of matches which are most pertinent to your genealogy research questions. This will make organization of your matches much more manageable and much more useful.
We recommend focusing on your closest matches and matches that appear to be pertinent to the specific research questions you are exploring. If a genetic cousin shares more than 50cMs with you, there is about a 50% chance they are related within 9-10 generational steps and there is a much higher chance you will be able to identify a common ancestor. Once close genetic cousins have been identified, you can then search for other more distant cousins who are likely related through the same ancestral lines by identifying genetic cousins who match at least two known descendants of an ancestor of interest. You can also eliminate other genetic cousins from consideration in your research if they match known relatives from your other family lines. If you are attempting to extend unknown ancestry, document which relatives belong to your known family and then prioritize investigation of those who also match them and who have unknown relationships. Use relationships of genetic cousins to each other to identify which genetic cousins are most pertinent to a research question.
Chromosome mapping is a type of organizational strategy that can be helpful in some situations and can guide collaboration with genetic cousins. For chromosome mapping, focus on identifying your relationship to known second cousins and more distant relatives. Then identify the segments of DNA you share in common. Individuals who share those same segments of DNA with you are likely related through the same ancestral lines. Though chromosome mapping is useful as an organizational strategy, it can also easily become an end in and of itself. Remember that your main objective will typically be to make genealogical discoveries and extend ancestral lines. In our experience, we consider chromosome mapping to be the last resort for making genealogical discoveries. Analysis of relationships, evaluation of shared DNA, and extension of family trees between genetic cousins is the most useful approach for genealogical discovery.
In a recent case performed by Legacy Tree, one of our client’s was attempting to extend the ancestry of her great-grandfather who was born in the Southern U.S. in about 1840 with the very common name of John Jones. Several candidate ancestral couples had been identified as possible parents, but exhaustive traditional research had not provided conclusive evidence for any of the candidates. We constructed a “genetic network” of her 500 estimated 4th cousins and identified all of the genetic cousins to whom each of them was related. Using this information we used proprietary technology to quickly identify groups of related individuals among the client’s genetic matches. We eliminated from consideration those genetic cousins who were related through her maternal ancestry and identified several genetic cousins who were related through the ancestor of interest. Using these genetic cousins as a “search query” we next identified all genetic cousins who were related to at least two descendants of the client’s great grandfather or who fit as part of their genetic network group. Using this strategy we identified common ancestors between more distant relatives. As a result, we were able to connect the client’s great-grandfather to his ancestral family and extend his ancestry an additional four generations.
4. Evaluation
Successful genetic genealogists apply DNA inheritance patterns and probabilities of relationship to specific research problems. Once you have identified a likely relationship between yourself and a genetic cousin, determine if your proposed relationship fits with the observed amount of DNA you share with each other. Some questions you might consider include the following:
1. Does the amount of DNA you share with your genetic cousin fit with what you would expect given your documented relationship? In other words does your documented second cousin share an appropriate amount of DNA to be a full second cousin, or is it possible he may be a half relative or may be related in some other way?

2. Are there other ancestral lines that you share in common with your match which could provide alternative explanations for your shared DNA?

3. Are there other ancestral lines that match 1 shares with match 2 independent of your relationship to either of them? In other words, does your maternal first cousin also share ancestry with your paternal first cousin independent of their respective relationships to you?

4. Do we share other types of DNA that we would expect given our proposed relationship? If your proposed genealogical relationship indicates that you share common direct-line paternal ancestry, do you share a common Y-DNA signature? If not, there may be a case of misattributed parentage. If your proposed genealogical relationship indicates that you share common direct-line maternal ancestry, do you share a common mtDNA signature? If not, again there may be a case of misattributed parentage. If you share common ancestors who could have contributed DNA to both of your X-chromosomes, do you share DNA on the X-chromosome, and if not, what is the likelihood of that scenario given your proposed relationship?

5. Are there any ancestral lines that are not well represented in your DNA match list? Are there close genetic cousins with known relationships to each other, but no known relationship to you?

6. Are there known relatives who you might invite to test who could represent ancestral lines that are not represented in your match list? Once they have tested, do they share the amount of DNA that would be expected given their relationship? Do they share DNA with other individuals from the family of interest who do not share DNA with you?
When evaluating your DNA test results, it is possible to determine the probabilities of likely relationships based on the number of segments and the number of centimorgans shared. Centimorgans (cMs) are a measure of genetic recombination, and communicate the likelihood that two points on a single chromosome will be separated in one generation. Some ranges of shared centimorgans are more likely for specific levels of relationship than they are for others. For example if an individual shares 255 cMs with a test subject there is more than a 50% chance that they are related at the level of second cousins and nearly a 100% chance that they are related within the range of first cousins once removed to second cousins once removed — or some equivalent combination of relationships. The following chart from the AncestryDNA Matching White Paper shows the probabilities of different levels of relationship given an observed amount of shared DNA:
In addition to this resource, we also recommend reviewing information from the Shared Centimorgan Project hosted by Blaine Bettinger, and the autosomal DNA statistics pages available through the International Society of Genetic Genealogy wiki ( By considering the likelihood of proposed relationships given shared amounts of DNA, it strengthens the traditional and genetic evidence for genealogical proof.
In a recent case at Legacy Tree, we were assisting an individual to document the relationship between herself and a genetic cousin with an unknown relationship. Based on the amount of DNA they shared in common, they should have been related at the level of third cousins. Nevertheless, comparison of their two trees revealed that neither shared any common surnames, ancestors, or locations in their quite extensive family trees. Additional investigation into their shared matches showed that the match held several genetic cousins in common with the subject, all of whom descended from a specific ancestral couple who lived in the 1880s in Tennessee. Consultation of the client’s match list revealed that she had no genetic cousins from the ancestry of her paternal grandfather, and additional analysis revealed that her father was likely not the biological son of the man he assumed was his father. In another case, we discovered that one genetic cousin shared DNA with a client through their common fourth great-grandfather, and that both of them matched several other descendants of the same man. However, the match’s brother did not share DNA with the client and did not match any of the descendants of the common ancestor of interest. Additional investigation revealed that the match’s brother was in fact a half-sibling. These stories highlight the fact that DNA testing can result in unexpected discoveries that may change the way you view your family, so it is important to tread carefully and be respectful of the feelings of the individuals involved.
Though ethnicity results can be helpful in some cases of genealogical research, there is so much more that can be done with your test results beyond the dinner-conversation topics of your ethnicity admixture. Collaborate with your genetic cousins to connect with living family members and learn information about your shared heritage. Identify your relationships to genetic cousins and document your relationships to each other. Organize your DNA matches to better analyze your test results. Evaluate your shared DNA with your known relatives and determine if your proposed relationships fit with what you would expect. By following the basic principles of collaboration, identification, organization, and evaluation you will be well on your way to making genealogical discoveries using your DNA test results.
Paul Woodbury is a Senior Genealogist with Legacy Tree Genealogists, a genealogy research firm with extensive expertise in genetic genealogy and DNA analysis. To learn more about Legacy Tree services and its research team, visit the Legacy Tree website at


My thanks to Legacy Tree Genealogists for offering to provide this guest article on DNA testing and analysis.  

Copyright (c) 2018, Legacy Tree Genealogists, Inc.

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