Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Can DNA Determine Who My 3rd Great-Grandfather Is?

I think the correct answer is "Perhaps."  Let me explain.

One of my 2nd great-grandmothers is Sophia Newton (183?-1923), who married Edward Hildreth (`1831-1899) on 25 December 1852 in Massachusetts.

I don't know for sure who her father was.  Her mother was Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) (Newton) Stone (1797-1882).  The mother's first husband, Lambert Brigham (1791-1834) died in May 1834.  Lambert and Sophia (Buck) Newton had two sons (Augustus and Aurelius), born in 1820 and 1830.  After Lambert Brigham's death, Sophia (Buck) Brigham apparently married Thomas J. Newton (180?-????) and the available records imply that they had the daughter Sophia and a son, Thomas J. Newton (183?-1915).  Two records say that the son was born in 1832 and two others say June 1835.

My 2nd great-grandmother Sophia Newton was born in September of 1833-1836.  The earliest records imply 1833-4, the later records imply 1835-6.  I discussed all of this in my post Who Really Was the Father of Sophia Newton (183?-1923)? (posted 12 May 2014).  

1)  As you can see, if Sophia Newton (183?-1923) was born in September, 1833 or 1834, then her biological father was probably Lambert Brigham.  If she was born in September 1835 or 1836, then her biological father was probably Thomas J. Newton.  This is further complicated by the brother of Sophia, Thomas J. Newton (1835-1915).  Was his biological father Lambert Brigham or Thomas J. Newton?  If he was born in June 1832-1834, then his father was probably Lambert Brigham.  There needs to be at least 18 months or so between the births of Sophia Newton and Thomas J. Newton if Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton was the mother of both children.   It is possible that the two children took the last name of Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton's second husband when they were small children.  It is also possible at this point that both Sophia Newton (183?-1923) and Thomas J. Newton (1835-1915) are the children of Thomas J. Newton and an unknown wife.  The data available is not conclusive.

2)  Fast forward to 2019, and now there are DNA matches.  Are there DNA matches to me from the Newton side of my tree?  Are there DNA matches to me from the Brigham side of my tree?

3)  When Thomas J. Newton is attached to my tree as a biological father to Sophia Newton (183?-1923), there are no DNA matches on AncestryDNA in the ThruLines analysis.  I looked at the purported parents and grandparents of Thomas J. Newton (180?-????) and there were no other DNA matches to me, besides the other two DNA matches from Sophia Newton (183?-1923).  Two of these matches are my first cousins who may be descended from either potential biological father of Sophia Newton.  The third DNA match is through one of Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton's known sons (Augustus Brigham (1820-1909)) by Lambert Brigham.

4)  I then attached  Lambert Brigham as a biological father of Sophia Newton (183?-1923).  I did some genealogy research on Lambert Brigham's ancestry, and have added that to my family tree.  Here is a pedigree chart for Lambert Brigham in my Ancestry Member Tree (assuming Sophia Newton (183?-1923) is a daughter of Lambert Brigham:

If Lambert Brigham is the father of Sophia Newton (183?-1923), then there could be other DNA matches from Lambert Brigham, his parents Phineas Brigham and Lydia Batherick, or from Lambert's grandparents, Moses Brigham and Mehitable Grout, and/or David Batherick and Lydia Maynard.  Or from some other earlier ancestor.  However, the Brigham/Grout and Batherick/Maynard couples would be my 5th great-grandparents, and a DNA match would have a small amount of shared DNA (in the range of 6 to 15 cM) if at least 6 cM was shared on AncestryDNA.

5)  The AncestryDNA ThruLines for Lambert Brigham is below:

The DNA match through Augustus Brigham (1820-1909, known son of Lambert and Sophia (Buck) Brigham) is 16 cM in 1 segment, and the relationship is 4th cousin 1x removed.  This is either a full DNA match if Lambert is Sophia's father, or a half DNA match if Thomas J. Newton is Sophia's father.

What this match does confirm is that Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton is my 3rd great-grandmother, since I wouldn't have a match in the Augustus Brigham line if Sophia was not the mother of Sophia Newton (183?-1923).

6)  Looking at the AncestryDNA ThruLines for Phineas and Lydia (Batherick) Brigham (potential 4th great-grandparents), I see one more DNA match:

This third DNA Match is 10 cM in 1 segment, and the relationship is a 5th cousin 1x removed.

7)  The AncestryDNA ThruLines chart for common ancestors of Moses Brigham and Mehitable Grout (potential 5th great-grandparents) is:

There are two more Ancestry DNA matches to me from this couple:

*  11 cM in 1 segment, a 6th cousin.
*  8 cM in 1 segment, a 6th cousin.

8)  The AncestryDNA ThruLines chart for David Batherick and Lydia Maynard (potential 5th great-grandparents) is:

There are two more DNA matches from this couple:

*  13 cM in 1 segment, a 6th cousin.
*  6 cM in 1 segment, a 6th cousin.

9)  So there are 5 DNA Matches (assuming the DNA matches are valid) from the Brigham side of the family shown on the ThruLines.  Note that these are actual DNA matches - the DNA match itself is not contingent on these particular ancestors.  The DNA match could be through some other common ancestor in my tree and in the trees of the 5 DNA matches.

10)  Does this "prove" that Lambert Brigham was the father of my Sophia Newton (183?-1923)?  No, it doesn't, in my opinion.  It does provide evidence.  How can I move toward "proving" that Lambert was the father?

11)  The only reasonable answer to the last question is by investigating the family trees of those five DNA matches back to 5th great-grandparents (and maybe even 6th great-grandparents).  So that's the task ahead.  If I can fill out their family trees back 8 generations (to ancestors born in the 1700-1740 time frame) and do not find another possible common ancestor with me, then that would be fairly convincing evidence, but probably not without a reasonable doubt.

Fortunately, all five of those DNA matches have some sort of family tree on Ancestry, and since they all seem to be in Massachusetts, there should be lots of records to review and use them to draw conclusions about relationships.  This is a fairly daunting challenge, I fear!

Of course, more AncestryDNA matches may be found for either the Newton or Brigham families.

12)  What do my readers think?  Is this a logical analysis?  Am I on the right track?  


Disclosure:  I have had a fully paid subscription since 2000. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

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Bill said...

Great analysis so far Randy. I think this gets you far down the road to establishing the correct line and your next steps to develop the trees of the matches to ensure no other common ancestors is right on.

Couple things. Ancestry recently provided a way to show multiple parents, e.g. in the case of adoptions, you may have even blogged about it. You could keep both fathers in your tree to continue looking for ThruLine hints on both.

What would make this task much more straightforward is if Ancestry provided Chromosome Browser capability to confirm or eliminate common ancestor hints...

Bill Greggs

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the suggestions. I did blog about the multiple parents some time ago. Before I did the present study, I had Thomas J. Newton as the bio father of Sophia Newton, and Lambert Brigham as the alternate parent. In order to do the present yudy, I had to change the desination of Lambert Brigham to be the bio parent and Thomas Newton the alternate parent.

The ThruLines only show up for the designated bio parents. From what I have heard, Ancestry refines the ThruLines every Sunday.

A Chromosome Browser would help, of ocurse, but they have said they won't do it. It would be nice if they changed their mind for the approximately 2% of AncestryDNA users that want it (of course, that's about 95%+ of those of us who know what it is).

Unknown said...

I think Ancestry has removed the ThruLines. At least I can't find it, although I have seen it before.

Betty Dingess

Randy Seaver said...


It's under the DNA tab on the home page. 4th item in the dropdown menu.

You can also see it on the DNA tab, select "Your DNA Results Summary" and it should be on the right side of the screen in a big box.

Enjoy -- Randy