ANCHOR YOUR DNA WORK – A Critical Step

(c) Can Stock Photo
(c) Can Stock Photo

 

A critical step to properly working with DNA is to ANCHOR each kit you submit.  Never heard of ANCHORING your kit?  Well, let me see if I can explain what it is and why it is so necessary if one is properly working with genealogical DNA tests while doing their family history work.

When anyone initially considers DNA testing there is normally one of two explanations for why they are considering genealogical DNA tests.

#1 – A DESIRE TO CONFIRM ONE’S PEDIGREE

Whether one is a hobby genealogist or a professional genealogist today family history work has advanced to include scientific data (information passed down from ancestors).   The rules and guidance for genealogy work call for one

to exhaustively seek out all information in order to develop the best conclusions.  

Researchers before genealogical DNA tests existed traveled and tracked down every scrap of paper and oral account possible and then developed their conclusions based on what they found.  Keep in mind for many North Carolina families paper records were destroyed. The lack of a clear paper trail created voids or holes.  And this over time led to multiple families claiming the same shared ancestor AKA the conflicting pedigrees we have to navigate today.  Oftentimes the ancestor where this occurs was one who fought during the Revolutionary War.  Another commonly found circumstance was some researchers would claim an ancestor because records existed for that individual.  Maybe it was a plausible option, maybe it was a desperate leap of faith but the connection was made without any paper trail to explain it.  Over time, some of the early pedigree works grew wings and were considered sound and newer researchers would just clip their families into one of these ‘sound’ pedigrees.

Using DNA tests is now standard practice in obtaining information one can only find from ancestors.  This information is not second hand information. And gathering it is necessary for one and all doing family history work.  And this information can help verify connections whether paper records exist or not.

#2 – RESOLVING A MYSTERY or BREAKING DOWN A BRICK WALL

The second explanation for turning to DNA occurs when one is stymied. Maybe the pedigree work stops abruptly at a particular grandparent node and the parents of that ancestor are unknown or contested (because of the conflicting pedigrees prehaps?).  Perhaps there is family lore involving a particular person in one’s tree and a possible surname switch?

A surname switch is when the biological (natural) parents and the familiar (adopted) parents differ.  Keep in mind it may be one or both parent(s). Half siblings are common place.  In this day and age some folks think enough documents exist to properly identify parents of each child.  But one need only turn to some reality TV or court cases to learn that it takes very little time to make a baby and the paper trail is not always accurate.  Whom a baby recognizes as mom and dad may not accurately provide a baby’s biological mom and dad information.  A baby may carry a different surname. While genealogical DNA tests are not paternity tests, it is critical for proper genetic genealogy to include tests so surnames are isolated.  When DNA is done correct you are also able to isolate location.

There are many reasons for a surname switch.  Could be parents died from illness and the child was reared in a different home. Could be a baby is born after the father died and the mother married again and the baby is reared with the surname of the new husband.  Could be a sister (and wife) dies in childbirth and the baby is given to a sibling who can provide a stable home. The baby may never know their mother’s first husband was their dad. The second family may not even know the mom had been married twice!  A baby may be reared by a beloved aunt, sister to the baby’s biological mother.   I could go on and on. Every one of the reasons I have provided actually occurred and each one generated a surprise surname switch but after the information bubbled to the surface by way of the DNA tests, the real story always brought more light to the family history work.  The thing to remember is there is NO SHAME associated with surname switches.  And no one should avoid genealogical DNA testing because a surname switch might exist somewhere in one’s pedigree.   I also had a circumstance when a family did not wish to do genealogical DNA testing because they feared a rumored surname switch would be found.  The reality was there was no surname switch!  DNA clarifies, it does not cloud.  Keep that in mind.  Genealogical DNA tests trump speculation.

Each baby carries information passed down from actual ancestors. And different tests provide different information.  When it comes to genealogical tests, the Y marker tests relay specific father’s father’s father’s … information.  Family Finder tests cast a net back from the tester five to seven generations for all of that particular person’s pedigree. FamilyTreeDNA’s family finder test included information from the X chromosome.  Ancestry.com’s family finder test does not include this information. In my opinion if one can afford to do two family finder tests and one is already a member of Ancestry, DO the family finder test BOTH places!  If one has to choose, choose FTDNA.com because their test has the X chromosome information which is so important.  Additionally the site has many tools to help one filter, isolate, and work matches.  Their database is extremely large and contains more JORDAN DNA in my opinion AND most important – one can only ANCHOR their pedigree work via FamilyTreeDNA.com.  WHY?  Because Ancestry.com does not include Y marker tests.

For Jordans the process of knowing what JG Tree your family belongs is imperative.  And it isn’t just JORDAN research, the same is critical for each surname in your pedigree.  And you can’t learn this information via Ancestry.com’s Family Finder test.  A researcher needs to ANCHOR the kits submitted to establish their surnames and one only has to swab once and submit one kit to accomplish this via FTDNA and one can’t do it through Ancestry because Ancestry doesn’t have Y marker testing any longer. In fact the way Ancestry.com’s DNA feature works it is possible to actually continue to allow incorrect pedigree work to have wings.  Folks can potentially link to others who claim the same ancestor(s) and unless and until the work is anchored and surnames are confirmed via Y marker tests, the DNA work is incomplete.

All information is precious and for NC researchers it is vital to be able to properly do family history work and build pedigrees AND understand your natural family AKA biological family.

Last week on GENEALOGY ROADSHOW  a segment was dedicated to a woman’s family connections to the Salem Witch trials. However, the professional genealogist explained the “family connection” was via the pedigree of the family who adopted the woman’s grandfather.  If one looks closely there was no pedigree on the screen which showed the progression from the woman down to these Alden men.  WHY?  While the professional genealogist stated he was a ‘modern’ genealogist’and believed the history of adopted lines was relevant to one’s family history, he did not show or mention what sort of chart would be used for those who adopt this mindset.

Some purists might take issue with this segment.  I agree with this professional genealogist but only if the work does not exclude the natural ancestor lines too. DNA is a tool which can help you understand more about your family history.  One cannot pick and choose whether to recognize only adoption lines or ignore an adoption occurred. I am an all-in kind of researcher who believes the the more information the better and more accurate the work product.

For purists a person has one pedigree and it follows natural biological trails.  Then there are modern genealogists who apparently create multiple pedigrees for folks Maybe there are overlays to explain surname switches?  As researchers understanding all information to its fullest extent is what genealogy is all about!

For my work I have found distinct DNA information helped families understand their JORDAN pedigrees more fully. Each of these branches had researchers who had been actively working their branch long before DNA was possible.  Each had developed pedigree work based on paper trails and their initial DNA submissions were to discover which JG JORDAN Tree and branch they belonged.

One family who carried the JORDAN surname lived in GA. They were looking for their NC Jordan connection.  They knew from a census or death record their earliest ancestor was possibly born in NC.  Out of frustration they submitted DNA to help them solve where and which NC JORDAN specific family was their family.

This JORDAN ancestor turned out to not be a JORDAN by birth but a man named JUDD who left a JUDD family in NC, relocated to GA, adopted the surname JORDAN, and passed on the JORDAN surname to his GA born children. They in turn passed the JORDAN name to their children… The current generation had no idea what had happened and it took YEARS for enough DNA to be discovered to fully understand the particulars.  The reason why he chose the name JORDAN is yet to fully be understood.

Another involves a JORDAN family who also lived in GA but his JORDAN branch tracked back to South Carolina.  And again not a biological JORDAN branch.  A man submitted a Y marker DNA test fully expecting to discover what JG Jordan his branch belonged. To his surprise he learned there had been a surname switch. He found his kit wound up in the UNGROUPED section of the Jordan Surname Project.  He was very fortunate; as soon as his kit populated (populated kits are kits where the test is completed and results are returned) this tester was contacted by a man named WEATHERFORD in South Carolina who had also submitted a Y marker kit and knew this man’s history.   The submitter learned one of his grandfathers had left home, moved to Milledgeville GA and adopted the surname of a local banker, a Mr. Jordan.  Some say he lived with this family for a time.  Again this family was surprised to learn they were not Jordans according to DNA.  Interestingly Family Finder DNA tests are showing the “Jordan” man who submitted DNA is being returned over and over as matches with JORDAN kits I am submitting. So there is more to this story to be learned.  And in order to fully obtain the information necessary to analyze and evaluate this family’s history is through FAMILY FINDER TESTS.

The most perplexing branch of JORDANS to date is an early WAKE Co branch.  I believe their JORDAN name will have a connection to the JG Jordan at some point.  Two different son line for the earliest known ancestor are not matching each other AND neither is matching an established JG Jordan.  It is the most complex family I am working.  There are two wives and two families from the earliest ancestor and it is important to continue to DNA map the pedigree AND anchor each kit to understand what has been discovered.

I asked for this family to submit a test hoping they would help me understand our JG 3 Jordans. At this point there is still too many missing puzzle pieces to be able to fully evaluate any possible relationship connection between our families.  There was and still is three basic possibilities for any two who tests (with the exception of double cousin branches)

          a – NOT related at all.

          b- related along paternal line belonging to the same JG JORDAN FAMILY TREE.

          c- related along one of the maternal or paternal lines but not on the same JG 3 Family Tree.

The only way these three possibilities can be properly worked is through ANCHORING.  The Y marker tests tell us that “b” does not apply.  The question of “a” and/or “c” remain outstanding.

So far, DNA has shown this early Wake JORDAN family does not relate directly along the JG 3 Jordan Family Tree when it comes to the generations from the earliest ancestor moving forward.  But it will take DNA mapping to address when the surname switches occurred. And yes I did say switches.  For this family has two known switches at different connecting points along different brother’s lines. And the question still is limbo is “At what generation did this family adopt the JORDAN name?”  There are other questions “At what point did the name JONES enter this family’s pedigree?”  and “Where is the intersection with a TODD family”

It will take more Y marker and family finder tests and cooperation from families with all three of the currently known surnames.

For decades this family has been puzzling over who their earliest Jordan ancestor’s parents were?  DNA has provided some very important information and it is complex information.   There is always a best candidate to use to establish and confirm DNA for a branch.  When an unexpected surname switch occurs, it is important to keep testing!  Remember just because one child may follow a different natural/biological pedigree, it doesn’t mean all children follow this same pedigree.

One should also keep in mind LOCATION as one is considering who should submit a DNA kit.  I built out this family and discovered like ours one of the sons of the earliest ancestor through the first wife never left NC.  I asked for that branch to do a kit.  You see, that person’s DNA will have North Carolina families information.  If one tests someone whose family has moved away from NC, then the information (regarding family finder AKA autosomal DNA) will include non-NC families.  At times this can act as a terrific filter but when it comes to ANCHORING the purpose is to use DNA tests to PLOT a person and maybe several generations of people in a specific location and at a specific chronological time stamp period.  THIS IS HUGE!  And it is a necessary step some researchers (and some projects) have overlooked or ignored.

DNA information may at times frustrate folks because it brings new information to light.  And this may require more kits to clarify this new found information. It is no different from classic genealogy work (papertrail work) which unearths new information!  The process is not complicated. It is simply a matter of particular folks submitting kits to answer working hypotheses.

ANCHORING  is completing both Y37 or greater AND Family Finder tests for EACH kit used to establish a surname. 

 This means ANCHORING IS DONE for MALES who swab their cheeks.  GIRLS who do DNA kits can’t do Ymarker tests.  A girl cannot anchor, period.  A MtDNA test and the Family Finder will not ANCHOR.  The Mother’s mothers mother’s … line along a pedigree involves multiple surnames and even then it is critical to understand each of the surnames and surnames cannot be anchored by girls. It takes boys DNA.  Females doing family finder tests can add a huge amount of information one can use to triangulate and confirm grandparent nodes or even help to isolate specific grandparents along one’s pedigree.  And at times sisters, aunts, moms, grandmas, and great aunts can bring information forward in a higher concentration than what passed down along male lines and the dreaded 3th cousin holes can be plugged.

If one is serious about family history work today, DNA should be part of your work right away.

Locate your eldest living males on both your mom’s and dad’s side of the family and unless a first cousin has already established your family branch, this means submitting a Y37 or greater kit for each side of your pedigree. Remember your mom can’t establish or anchor any maternal surname.  It still takes a boy.  And the older the better.

Time and time again folks have learned this step is critical.  And at times some folks have had to try to chase down 2nd and 3rd cousins to get their surnames properly established and anchored because they neglected to get the DNA submitted when the opportunity was there for their immediate family.  Don’t let time work against you.  Remember no one lives forever and we need to take some critical steps right away so we won’t be sorry later.

SUMMARY 

(c) Can Stock Photo
(c) Can Stock Photo

Whether one is confirming a pedigree or one is solving a mystery or trying to break down a brickwall, DNA is a key you need to use. And if used properly those keys will unlock new information one can find no other way than DNA testing. And this new information must be ANCHORED in order to be evaluated properly.

STEP 1

A Ymarker test will provide you with your surname.  Two important considerations –

  1. your test must be at least a Y37 marker. So if you have had anyone submit a Y marker test check to make sure it is at least 37 markers.  IF it is less, it is considered deficient.  Think of it like a document where you only have a corner with something on it but there is not enough to actually understand what you have found!  It takes 37 markers for a Y test to show you a full document.  Submitting a Y67 or Y111 test gives you more detailed information.
  2. if you tested at 37 markers and your results included any zero or 1 genetic distance matches (genetic distance is the tiny number in the first column you will see on your results. See diagram.) then you need to pull your kit out to 67 or 111 markers.

Y MARKER MATCH PAGE This the current match page for my initial kit submitted in 2013.  Keep in mind it is three years later. I have two pages of matches and each page has 25 matches and collectively there are only 11 kits between those two pages who have anchored their kits.  As you can see there is NO reason for me to upgrade my kit to 67 or more markers because at this time I STILL do not have a close match.  If you look under the “GENETIC DISTANCE” column, I have no 0 or 1 matches.  (genetic distance is simply a label meaning how many markers differ.  So for our kit, we have two different markers for our closest match.  This tells me we share the same JG tree but not the same branch.  It is this branch that I have been actively hunting for three years.  In other words, I am still waiting for NC and possibly early VA and SC JORDANs to establish their branches so I can find others for my branch of the JG3 Tree.  I know my Matthew Jordan, our earliest ancestor was born between 1765-1770 based on the ages of known children.  This would mean he died at the age range of 79 – 84.  Of note, many of our JORDAN men live long lives.  While genealogists normally use a 30 year unit of time to denote a new generation there are times with some branches and some JG trees where this could easily be more accurately represented in 40 or even greater units.  THINK about this.  Remember when one submits a family finder test one is casting a net from the tester back 5 to 7 generations.  If the families span large units of time, the reach is greater than the genealogical benchmarks.  We need to get the missing early Jordan branches established AND we need to get each of those kits anchored. That net has the potential to provide information that fires, wars, and time have removed from classic genealogist toolkit.  DNA is not an option for COLONIAL and PRE COLONY families, it is a necessity.

Step 2 –

Cast your net and include FTDNA’s Family Finder (autosomal) test.  If you can afford it, submit DNA through Ancestry.com too.  You may also wish to submit your raw data to GEDMATCH.com – a third party site allowing you to bring your information to a specially  constructed repository where you can also compare your FTDNA data and your Ancestry data AND compare each kit with possible matches who submitted DNA through 23andme.com.  A site focusing on providing ancestral medical history information but whose kits also contain genealogical autosomal information from your ancestors.  I am just beginning to learn about GEDMATCH.

You can also instead of submitting a kit through Ancestry reach out to the folks who share the same pedigree work and ask them if they have pursued DNA through Ancestry alone to move their raw data to FTDNA and to GEDMATCH.  Be sure to ask them to unlock their new FTDNA kits with their Ancestry raw data.  One can for free choose to only receive the top 20 matches one time or one can unlock their kit it will allow their kit to communicate with all of the FTDNA database and any future kits submitted.

Please establish and confirm your surname and don’t neglect ANCHORING your kit by including the Family Finder test.  If you have done the Family Finder test through Ancestry.com. You can move the raw data to FTDNA.com  But know that kit will not be able to be upgraded as new tests are developed.  If you have only submitted Family Finder tests, be sure to include (or coordinate and work with cousins) Y marker information to fully identify each surname in your family history work

Anchor your surname kits!  Don’t ignore casting that net to properly be able to DNA map and geo-tag specific your work.

As researchers you and I can’t sit on hands and hope kits are submitted.  I set up this website and this genealogical NC1700sJordans DNA cluster project to help give us the most information we can possibly glean from our ancestors.

I have reached a point in my work where I am actively helping Jordan families who like my own are considered a broken branch. One only needs to take a look at the JORDAN SURNAME PROJECT to find broken branches for JG1, JG3, JG4, JG8, and JG 25 trees.  As more Jordans establish their branch, we can graft the broken branches to the proper trees and correct branches.

Let’s set some anchors to help the work progress!