Friday, May 31, 2013

Gedmatch --subjective view--June 2013

Many of the hits on my blog are looking for information on Gedmatch.

Here is my brief subjective review of how things are at Gedmatch--many of the wonderful utilities, including triangulation and chromosome browser are on hold--but they should be back at some time, and will be amazingly helpful to researchers of all levels and abilities.

Of the utilities currently available, I find the one-to- many matches utility to be the most helpful, especially since there are at least three companies from which people can upload their results.
I have to say, that although this is great, and allows  us to see comparisons between FTDNA, 23andme, and, this is often just a lead to nowhere.

The frustrating aspect is that the aliases used by those tested are often very effective in hiding who has been tested. If an email has been provided it can be a clue, or it can be used to try to contact the person tested, but often this effort is futile. It is understandable that every tester wants to protect their privacy--but the result of the protection is that comparison is impossible or very difficult. As I have said before, what researchers want is information about the ancestors. Perhaps Gedmatch could provide a way for testers to give that information, as does Ftdna, which allows gedcoms, but only starting at least 100 years out from the present.

The person being tested is not, or should not be, of interest, unless living cousin connections are desired.

Main point--I'm sure Gedmatch will recover all of the utilities--just a matter of time and it will be working again. Like many dna-related websites, keeping it up and running well can be a challenge for many reasons, so if you find something working--use it--strike while the iron is hot!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Australian Descendants of Jefferson County, New York settlers

One narrative of the research  links between DNA results, the Patriot War, and New York ancestry.

Sometimes one thing leads to another in genealogy research, usually seemingly with reason, at least for awhile. Then it turns out that the connections weren't the ones we were looking for, or maybe they are, but we can't prove it yet. But...we always get a good story, and therein lies much satisfaction.

This story started with a speculation on a chromosome match spotted on Gedmatch. It appeared that there would be a Northern New York connection worth defining. Long story short, through pursuing the ancestry of the match, I found the name of  Ira Polley, born about 1816 in Lyme, Jefferson, New York.

All names connected to the DNA match were from an area of Tasmania. All of the names, not just some.  Considering that I was looking for a connection to  Northern New York ancestry, how could that be? Well, the Patriot War resulted in Northern New Yorkers being sent to Tasmania--"Van Diemen's Land." When I looked up the names of those transported to Tasmania,  I found that only one name matched--the very same last name of the person for whom I had found an online tree--Polley. The man "transported" (taken as war captive) was named Ira Polley.

Now the big question was whether Ira Polley had met a fate of death at sea or elsewhere, as did many who were transported, whether he was pardoned and returned to New York (again, like many others), or if by chance he had stayed in Australia.

Strangely enough (or not so strangely, given the DNA matching), he is  one of the very few who stayed--one of four--he was actually eventually pardoned, and got as far as Hawaii before returning to Australia. There is no explanation as to why he chose to stay, but stay he did, and he married twice and had many children. His descendants are now numerous.

Before the brief war waged against England in Canada, he had been living in Lyme, Jefferson County, New York. Although many researchers say that his father was John Polley, who also lived in Jefferson County, his death information in Australia names his father as William Polley. Other documents show that Ira Polley of Australia was born in New York, while the son of John Polley named Ira was born in Connecticut. It does appear that William Polley, also of Connecticut, but who moved early to New York, is indeed father of Ira. William Polley died in 1852 in Russia, Herkimer County, New York, not far from Lyme. He does not mention Ira in his will, however, and I cannot be sure he is the father without more documentation.

Sir George Arthur, of Upper Canada at the time of the Patriot War ordered the transportation of captives to Australia. Ira Polley named one of his sons George Arthur Polley. See the following website for details on this and on various captives  in the online article "American Patriots  Political Prisoners in Van Diemen's Land": leatherwoodonline

The story that I was able to piece together (beginning with a DNA clue) gave me more knowledge of, and interest in, the Patriot War of the late 1830's, and of the lives of those who begin as captives and continue as citizens of a different land and culture.