As those who read this blog regularly know, I had an autosomal DNA test done in July 2014. Since then, I have played with my results many times. I’ve written many emails to possible new cousins. But, I haven’t really been able to deal with the enormity of the data and how to organize it into chunks that made sense to me.
For instance, I know that I connect to two different families. We do not know how we connect yet. I connect to different members at different degrees. How do I make sense of it all?
After working on the problem in this post, I decided it was time to organize my results into blocks that made more sense. When my FTDNA results show that I match someone and we both match several other people, it does not necessary mean that we share the same chromosome sequences. I needed to see which people match who and if those matches are on the same chromosome sequence or a different one. This could mean the difference between showing that we are related through the same line or simple share DNA with the same people.
I’m approaching it this way. I am starting with the people who I have the highest level of matches with. The first person was my new 3rd cousin that I figured out yesterday. In FTDNA, you can download specific groups of matches to a CSV file and import it into a spreadsheet. I did this for the new 3rd cousin and our shared matches. I then imported the CSV file LibreCalc (spreadsheet program that is part of LibreOffice). Without revealing the person’s name for privacy reasons, this is an example of what my spreadsheet looks like:
My next step was to identify which segments we match on. I used the FTDNA chromosome browser for this. I added a column to my spreadsheet for “chromosome match” and I entered the sequence numbers. My new 3rd cousin matches me on a few segments. This is his DNA:
Of the 7 people who we have in common, 5 match my new cousins on one chromosome (21) in the same segment. The other two people do not have a match in chromosome 21.
The match on 21 hints that we all come from a certain line though are related at different degrees. I am more closely related to my new 3rd cousins than the others. The others are probably 5th cousins or further back.
As I said yesterday, I eliminated the Jackson (England), Mazeres/Lassalle (France), and Pacheco/de Braga (Azores) lineages from this connection. My new 3rd cousin does not come from those sides of the tree. I can conclude that his DNA at chromosome 21 and those individuals who match us there will come from the Jones/Hayward (Welsh/Australian) or the Kelly/Dolan (Co. Roscommon, Ireland) families. If only DNA could wave a national flag or sing an anthem, that would help a genealogist out.
The next step will be to compare their family trees and their surnames if they have listed any. This may provide clues on where to look if there is a connection.
Next I will do this for my Pacheco cousin. As she does not carry the de Braga lineage, it will be good to assess her DNA to see if anyone matches both of us on the same block. So far, I am finding the Azorean connections are way back (1600s). Since my grandfather had 45 cousins who made it to adulthood, I can only think that someone besides the two of us have had a DNA test done.
I feel as if I have accomplished something with my spreadsheet. It seems to me that getting your DNA results is a bit intimidating and overwhelming. Sure, it is neat to look at your country chart and see where your DNA originates and it is fun to play with the chromosome browser. At some point you have to analyze what you have. Then, there is research to be done. Hopefully, it will all be rewarding.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com