I’ve heard many times that when doing DNA testing for genealogy it is best to fish in all DNA ponds. There are three main players in the DNA for genealogy field: Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), AncestryDNA, and 23andMe. The idea of fishing in all ponds is that if you test with all three, you have a larger pool of fish to catch in the form of genetic matches.
My adventures in genetic genealogy began a few years ago. I first tested with FTDNA. When my first matches appeared I was sure they had mixed my sample up with someone else’s, because I didn’t recognize a single match. Back in the infancy of my DNA testing, I thought it would be as simple as looking for a surname in common. In reality, it takes work to find common ancestors, more than immediately recognizing a surname. I supplied kits to several close relatives so I could identify which side of the family my autosomal DNA matches were on.
My initial focus was on getting a number of close family members tested with one company. I would like to add additional relatives to that pool, because I have a few sticky research problems that DNA might help me to solve. Having more family members tested can help sort my matches.
When the holiday sale price was announced for Ancestry’s DNA kit, it was too good to pass up. The time to fish in another pond had come. I took advantage of the sale, and was fortunate to hit a short additional sale, at $69 and free shipping. The $69 offer was a short one, but the $89 sale is good through December 21st. Some ads show December 26th, but the website link gives the 21st.
I ordered my kit and expected a wait, but it arrived quickly. The instructions were easy to follow. Register the kit online, wait at least an hour after eating and drinking to fill the collection tube with saliva, screw on the cap, put the tube in the supplied plastic bag and the postage-paid mailing box, and pop it in the mail. Yes, I mailed my spit. My guess is uglier things have graced the mail.
I mailed my kit on Monday, 8 December, and am watching my Ancestry DNA page to see when the kit makes it to the processing stage.
Do I expect huge surprises? No, not really. I think it will be interesting to see what my matches (fish) are like in that pond compared to what I have caught in my other DNA pond. And I thought it might be fun to share the process here.
Here is what I have already caught in my FTDNA autosomal pond. I’ll explore the three closest matches who are not immediate family members. I did not previously know these genetic relatives.
My top three autosomal FTDNA matches, aside from immediate family:
1. FTDNA match one: Estimated as a 2nd – 4th cousin. We share 72 cm and the longest block is 35. This is a recent match. I sent an email which has not been answered. We share a common surname, Loy. That places the match on my paternal side, which was verified through triangulation. Tick tock. Maybe they do not check email often, or perhaps they aren’t interested in communicating with matches.
2. FTDNA match two: Estimated as a 2nd – 4th cousin. We have 62 shared cm, with the longest block at 31. I emailed and the kit’s administrator replied, saying they would get back to me. That was a couple of years ago. I figured out the relationship, and they are a paternal 4th cousin once removed. We descend from Beriah Crittenden and Polly Beeman of Connecticut.
3. FTDNA match 3: Estimated as 2nd – 4th cousins, with 60 shared cm, the longest block at 28. I have not yet contacted this match, and do not recognize the only surname they have posted. This is a maternal match. My maternal side has a sticky identity problem a few generations back. It would be nice to determine which branch of my mom’s tree they belong on. I need testers from my mom’s father’s side and my mom’s mother’s side so I can sort out which grandparent this person connects to. I need to email the match to see if we can work on finding the connection.
My top three FTDNA autosomal fish do not match one another.
I admit to becoming a bit discouraged when people do not respond to outreaches, but it is entirely possible that I have been guilty of that at least once in my life. Ahem.
If you are already a DNA junkie, you have probably shouted at the computer and asked if I have uploaded my raw FTDNA results to GEDmatch, a free site with a number of tools, some with a fee. It is a great place for people who have tested with different companies to upload their raw data and look for more matches. GEDmatch is another pond.
Yes, I have.
My top three matches at GEDmatch are not my three top matches at FTDNA. My number three match at FTDNA is listed as match seven or eight at GEDmatch (they administer multiple kits, so I need to check to see which kit matches me as number three). My FTDNA matches one and two are not in my GEDmatch listings. They must not have uploaded their raw data to GEDmatch.
My top three GEDmatch matches:
1. Estimated at 3.9 generations to our most recent common ancestors. We share 67.7 cm and our largest shared segment is 15.5.
2. Estimated at 3.9 generations to our most recent common ancestors. We share 67.3 cm and our largest shared segment is 10.7.
3. Estimated at 4 generations to our most recent common ancestors. We share 55.3 cm and our largest shared segment is 21.
|Match||Estimated Relationship/MRCA||Shared CM||Longest Block||Comments|
|FTDNA1||2nd-4th cousin||72 cm||35||Paternal side, surname in common: Loy. Awaiting response.|
|FTDNA2||2nd-4th cousin||62 cm||31||Paternal side, 4c1r. We descend from Beriah Crittenden and Poly Beeman of Connecticut. No response.|
|FTDNA3||2nd-4th cousin||60 cm||28||Maternal side. Unknown surnames. Need to email.|
|GEDmatch1||3.9 generations||67.7 cm||15.5|
|GEDmatch2||3.9 generations||67.3 cm||10.7|
|GEDmatch3||4 generations||55.3 cm||21|
My top three matches at FTDNA share a similar number of centimorgans, but the blocks are longer than my top three in GEDmatch. I need to learn more about how each one organizes matches. FTDNA reports more shared cm and a longer segment with my number three match than the third match that appears at GEDmatch. So, why is my FTDNA number three down as number seven on GEDmatch? There are more shared cm and a longer block on my FTDNA3 than on my GEDmatch3. I’m not sure. I still have a lot to learn.
Meanwhile, I will wait for my autosomal results from Ancestry, and daydream of great matches holding answers to my stickiest genealogy problems.
As I said, I still have a lot to learn.