Friday, May 30, 2014

And Gedmatch is down again...

Yes, Gedmatch.com is down again and will likely be down for awhile while dealing with their server problems.

It is an old story.

Two things to keep in mind:
1--the excellent website is run by volunteers who accept donations to keep the website going
2--the website is innovative--it is a work in progress keeping up with a science which is also a work in progress

It's an excellent website, and it goes down now and then. My advice--
Be sure to savor access to it when you have it, and be patient.

Easy trick for merging identities on Family Tree Maker

Ever see names kind of stack up in the index of Family Tree Maker? Then you take a look and see that some are duplicates--same person listed several times. You want to see all relationships possible--all the children of all these parents.

Example: You've listed Joe Martin as father of Jeremiah Martin. Elsewhere you have him as father of Lisette Martin. You want to see all siblings listed under the same father (Joe), which you have suddenly noticed is the same for both kids. This is very helpful in any genetic matching or in family tree matching. Maximum info=maximum results with minimum effort.

Ordinary merges take time and attention to details such as birth and death dates.

Simpler is this method-choose a special letter, such as "t" to temporarily attach to the ends of the names of the mergers. Appelman becomes Appelmant temporarily. His merge also becomes Appelmant. You merge the two Applemants, without having to sort them out from any other Appelmans in your file. Once they have merged, you remove the "t" ending and voila--a quick merge. Very useful with common names such as David Johnson or Sarah Brown.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Using Gedmatch "one to many"

For autosomal DNA matching, Gedmatch offers a feature which allows you to see where your autosomal DNA matches others who upload their results. Gedmatch takes uploads from ancestry.com, FTDNA, and from 23andme, so even if you only test with one company, as many do, you can see many matches to your DNA segments from people who tested with the other companies.

It is very easy to use this feature, and it is worth checking back every few weeks for the new matches which are uploaded. The moniker and email for the match are sometimes helpful, yet ofttimes not helpful at all--really attempts by the test subject to obfuscate his or her identity. The best scenario, and it is occurring more and more often, is that the match has uploaded a gedcom, which is worth way more than a name. After all, we researchers are looking for the match's grandparents and beyond. It is genetic history that is of interest in this game.

If a match seems useful, ways to look further are to check the match's list of matches (click on "L"). The individual that you match may not list his or her name, but may have a match within one or two generations who has done so. That is quite valuable, and worth working with to find clues to creating the tree for the match (an important step in finding the common ancestor). Another step is to find the chromosome segment where you match, and then to find the others who match (triangulation), which is another feature on gedmatch, and discussed elsewhere on this blog.

You will probably also want to click on A, which shows you the chromosome segment where you match the other tester. You can make a note of this segment and then check for matches elsewhere on gedmatch or on HIRsearch to that particular segment. Because the segment match may be on either side of your ancestry (paternal or maternal), the fact that it matches a third party may not reflect a true match. It could be coincidental, and the match may be to  the parent who would not match the second party and yourself. This is where triangulation is of great help, because gedmatch will show you where your matching segments of chromosome overlap with more than one other match, and the information on the utility will even indicate for you that this is likely an indication of shared ancestry.

Now what can you do with shared ancestry? Ideally the people you match with have more information on their ancestry than you do, and you can see who might be the common ancestor, or at least the direction that the ancestry will have to be. Less ideally, you may have more information to work with. Geography, names, anything can be helpful. You should note all of the information you receive (a good place to do it is on a digital family tree--easily revised) so that it can come in handy when you get more information, which is likely to happen given the recent surge in autosomal testing.

Don't forget that if you get intrigued by a chromosome segment that you can easily see matches who also share that segment by uploading your data to HIRsearch.

The gedmatch.com site has many features. It may take awhile to tackle all of them. I do recommend trying this one, and taking the time to figure it out. It is one you are likely to return to and to find useful as you try to establish your genetic ancestry, which, as we all know, may just not quite match the family history you have on paper.