Monday, July 10, 2017

My Heritage Offers an Ethnicity Estimate

Most people who ask me about DNA testing are interested in finding out their "ethnicity."

"Do your family tree instead," I tell them.


First, you do not carry DNA of all your ancestors.

Second, your DNA is not a proportional representation of your ancestors beyond your mother and father.

Third, your results will vary from company to company and over time.

Fourth, modern-day political boundaries of countries do not represent a homogeny of inhabitants now or throughout history.

Three months ago, I uploaded DNA files to My Heritage because it was free.  I am looking for relatives to fill in missing leaves and branches of my family tree.  So far, my mother has two matches in the second to fourth degree cousin range, but neither has responded to my inquiries.

Today an email signaled the arrival of My Heritage's Ethnicity Estimate.  The spinning globe with music, supposedly from the area of origin, is eye-catching and unique.  I could not reproduce the spinning globe here, so I created some screen shots.  It seems that the spinning globe function is limited to five regions.

The beginning of my spinning globe ethnicity display

The end of my spinning globe

Greek is new to me.  The beauty of my situation is that I can compare my ethnicity results with my parents.  From either parent I can inherit all of a particular ethnicity, a portion, or none.

Neither of my parents is Greek, according to My Heritage.  We've done this before with Family Tree DNA and 23andMe.  Some of the purported ethnicities do not line up with my parents.

The remaining ethnicities for my father do not include Greek.
His Baltic and Scandinavian are not reflected in my estimate.

My mother.  I currently describe her as three quarters Irish and one quarter Russian.

My maternal grandmother's first cousin (O'Donnell/Joyce branch) came up 100% Irish.

Friday, June 23, 2017

DNA Chart for Cook/VanderHoof Descendants

It took a while, but I finally created a McGuire Method DNA Chart for a branch of my family.

Several descendants of my fourth great grandparents, Stephen Cook (1797-1853) and Elizabeth Vanderhoof (1799-1878) have tested their DNA.  Most have uploaded to, where we can compare everyone, even though people tested at three different companies.

The Mystery Cousin discussed a few weeks ago also belongs on this chart; I just don't know where yet.

click to enlarge

Monday, June 12, 2017

Mystery DNA Cousin Demystified

A few years ago at 23andMe a close match appeared for my father, his siblings, and their third cousin, Bob, on their shared Cook/Neil line of Morris County, New Jersey.  Common ancestors are Calvin Cook (1826-1889) and Mary Neil (1830-1898).

The amount of shared DNA ranged from 1.66% with my uncle to 3.82% with cousin Bob.

The probable relation would be second to third cousin.  The variance in amount of shared DNA is within normal.  Or the higher amount could indicate that this mystery cousin is closer to Bob.

Either way, the person ignored my requests to connect through the 23andMe website.

Recently, 23andMe required users to not be anonymous.  This person bypassed this non-anonymous requirement and instead blocked sharing requests.

This person won't make or break my family tree, so I moved on.

Then Cousin Bob's cousin contacted me.  They share ancestors Patrick Bernard Brady (1830-18xx) and Elizabeth Duffy (1837-1918) of County Meath, Ireland.  They were the parents of Mary Brady (1870-1942), wife of Francis Asbury Cook (1851-1919).

She wondered how Bob was so closely related to her highest DNA match.  This Mystery DNA Cousin had limited contact with Bob's cousin and revealed Brady ancestors on two separate ancestral lines from two counties in Ireland, Cavan and Donegal.

In this situation, we are not using haplogroups to assign relationships or ancestral lines.
We are using them to confirm that we are dealing with the same elusive DNA tester.

The shared percentage with Bob, as well as the haplogroups, were the same for the Mystery Brady Cousin as for the Mystery Cook/Neil Cousin.

So if the Mystery Cousin is the same for both situations, this explains why Cousin Bob shares more DNA with the Mystery Cousin.  They are related through Cook/Neil ancestors as well as the separate Brady line.  For Bob, these lines merged in his great grandparents, Francis Cook and Mary Brady.

The above diagram is my theory on how the Mystery Cook/Neil Cousin (Mystery Brady Cousin) is related to my branch.  If this person comes forward, we can revise the this diagram if needed.