And Then There Were Two

If you take a look at my previous posts on DF95 and the Cumberland Cluster, you’ll see that Big Y showed us to be a lone line of men straight from Z18, among other lone lines of men also coming directly form Z18. All our branches (save one) died out around the tail end of the Nordic Bronze age. That makes us a relatively small group and both young (all related to someone who lived around 500BCE give or take a few hundred years) and very old ( the next ancestor in line after 500 BCE is about 2100 BCE with 14 SNPs worth of generations in between).

On the one hand, that removes a lot of the arguments that revolve around the bronze age movements of different Y groups. On the other hand, you’re stuck on an island.

A lot of the ideas in my previous posts are based on discussions I’ve had in the Z18 facebook group along with things I’ve learned from the age estimates and SNP spreadsheets from the U106 group Forum. All the groups and analysis verify that the Cumberlands are basically alone on their island branching directly off Z370/Z18.

Then maybe a month or so ago, Alex Williamson posted a link to his work in progress U106 Big Tree in the U106 Forum. This is his independent work. Normally he focuses on R1b-P312 (the bigger sibling of U106) and that is basically the content of the Big Tree, but he must have heard the cries of the many U106 people asking for their own version of the Big Tree and began to plug away at one.

It’s based on Big Y or FGC tests that Alex has access to, so panel results and individual SNP tests will be missing, but it’s a great start.

When I clicked the link to go look at it I was shocked by two things. One…there we were, the Cumberlands front and center!

Big U106 tree

And two, The Cumberlands were not alone anymore. Apparently, Alex looks for specific SNPs that occur in the palindromic regions. of the Y. Each ZZ prefix represents two possible SNP locations. If you look at the top you’ll see two ZZ SNPs 61 and 62. They are two sides of a coin (if I have things straight), the third SNP was more trouble and is only listed by reference number.

What you will notice is that these ZZ SNPs fall below the R-Z18/Z370 parent of all Z18 men which was our original connection point. You’ll see DF95 there below this new SNP set. You may also notice then that another group shares those SNPs. That group is the East Anglia group marked by ZP24.

Cumberland has a new parent and a brother?!!

Brothers Gotta Hug

It was unbelievable. I contacted Alex to ask about it. He said that they are real SNPs, but they cannot be tested in the traditional way (Sanger Sequencing), so they may not be offered by FTDNA for testing. They do show up in Big Y or FGC Y tests though.

The group just to the right of that (the next straight line going down not connected to ZZ61 etc.) contains men from the Poland cluster and from the Swede cluster. I’m guessing these are just unfinished at the moment.

Until new discoveries come along, DF95 Cumberland shares a common ancestor with ZP24 East Anglia…likely a few hundred years after the formation of Z18 around 2300 BCE. So, In that 2000 BCE range is one man our two groups are related to. Then we split and have a really crappy time through the Bronze age (as evidenced by those long runs of SNPs) and come out as two survivors in the pre-roman iron age.



DF95 Do Over

DF95 Do Over

I’m splitting these posts up in the hopes of keeping them short.

Between 600BC and 0AD (I never know whether to put AD or BC(E) on that one) we can say that some series of events whittled the Cumberland Cluster down to a single man. In that same time, some similar series of events seems to have taken the East Anglia cluster and the Swede cluster down to one man as well. Using the small amount of evidence we have for Cumberland and East Anglia, my last post ended with the idea that instead of looking at a group pushed into Scandinavia as I have in the past, I should look at groups that pushed out. Instead of focusing on the vikings as the sole distributors of our Y DNA, I have to go farther back in time to the end of the Nordic Bronze Age. This seems like the most likely time that our slates were wiped clean and we had to begin again.

Until someone comes in and breaks up these runs of 11 to 16 SNPs in our groups, we can’t really say much about the whereabouts or activities of the men who might have shared those SNPs with us. We are the descendants of a “do over”, so we start there.

The problem I always come to is, how do you get rid of 2000 years worth of people who might be spread over multiple cultures and locations? No one was Y DNA testing to get rid of Cumberlands…or East Anglians…so how does that come about?

The Nordic Bronze Age Setting the Stage

About 1700BC to 500BC. Here is the brief description from wikipedia, note the baltic references and cultural sphere: The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC. The Bronze Age culture of this era succeeded the Late Neolithic Stone Age culture and was followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The archaeological legacy of the Nordic Bronze Age culture is rich, but the ethnic and linguistic affinities of it are unknown, in the absence of written sources. Some scholars also include sites in what is now northern Germany, Pomerania and Estonia in the Baltic region, as part of its cultural sphere.

Scandinavia, but not exactly the Scandinavia we’re used to, it’s more of a regional culture.

Climate Change

The part of the wikipedia article on the Nordic Bronze Age that really grabs me is the bit about the climate: The Nordic Bronze Age was characterized first by a warm climate that began with a climate change around 2700 BC (comparable to that of present-day central Germany and northern France). The warm climate permitted a relatively dense population and good farming; for example, grapes were grown in Scandinavia at this time. A wetter, colder climate prevailed after a minor change in climate between 850 BC and 760 BC, and a more radical one around 650 BC.

Why I think this is so interesting is because of the scope. Right there in one climate report, we have the timing for the expansion of U106, Rise98 in Sweden, RZ18 with it’s many scandinavians and they go along with this warming climate and good farming farther north. Then at the end you have a wetter colder climate setting in until there is a radical shift around 650BC.

A changing climate is one way to get rid of a lot of people. Flooding, crop loss and famine are all familiar ways that entire large groups of people can die.

Large Scale Battles in the Bronze Age

I remember Troy as a mythical event..or maybe it was just semi mythical. Anyway, in my lifetime, it’s become accepted that Troy existed and that the story of the battle of Troy has a core of a historical event (although not exactly as it went down in the Iliad). One reason we have heard about the battle of Troy is the literacy of the people in the area. Norther Europe is a dead zone for literacy in the 1200s BC. This year though archaeology made up for our lack of the written word and a large Northern European battle is being brought to light in Tollense.

There are a lot of things that grabbed my attention in the article on the battle in Tollense from Science Magazine. The location for one. Here is a map with Tollense picked out just south of Sweden and Southeast of Denmark. So here is a picture of the people in this area in the 1200BC timeframe.

tollense river valley

The description of the size of the battle is in keeping with the total defeat of a large group of people. From the article in Science Magazine:

Northern Europe in the Bronze Age was long dismissed as a backwater, overshadowed by more sophisticated civilizations in the Near East and Greece. Bronze itself, created in the Near East around 3200 B.C.E., took 1000 years to arrive here. But Tollense’s scale suggests more organization—and more violence—than once thought.

Again taking a description of the region in the article, I’m reminded of Viking Age Iceland. It was not unorganized, but the base unit was a family farm, not a town. In Iceland disputes would be settled and decisions made at a Thing (a scheduled gathering for an area) where there would be a lawspeaker and various regional officials comprised mainly of wealthy farmers. I have to wonder if the society around Tollense was organized the same way:

At the time of the battle, northern Europe seems to have been devoid of towns or even small villages. As far as archaeologists can tell, people here were loosely connected culturally to Scandinavia and lived with their extended families on individual farmsteads, with a population density of fewer than five people per square kilometer. The closest known large settlement around this time is more than 350 kilometers to the southeast, in Watenstedt.

Although Viking Age Iceland was very definitely built surrounding the idea of warrior-farmers, the Tollense crew is different:

And yet chemical tracers in the remains suggest that most of the Tollense warriors came from hundreds of kilometers away.

Genetic analysis is just beginning, but so far it supports the notion of far-flung origins. DNA from teeth suggests some warriors are related to modern southern Europeans and others to people living in modern-day Poland and Scandinavia. “This is not a bunch of local idiots,” says University of Mainz geneticist Joachim Burger. “It’s a highly diverse population.” 

That suggests an unexpectedly widespread social organization, Jantzen says. “To organize a battle like this over tremendous distances and gather all these people in one place was a tremendous accomplishment,” he says.

It’s not necessarily that there weren’t locals but there was a big enough organization to pull participants from places farther afield. Near the end of the article they ask why would there be a big battle in Tollense (whose only real feature seems to be a bridge over the river that may have been contested). This part is important I think because it lays the groundwork for regional instability just before the period I’m interested in:

But why did so much military force converge on a narrow river valley in northern Germany? Kristiansen says this period seems to have been an era of significant upheaval from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. In Greece, the sophisticated Mycenaean civilization collapsed around the time of the Tollense battle; in Egypt, pharaohs boasted of besting the “Sea People,” marauders from far-off lands who toppled the neighboring Hittites. And not long after Tollense, the scattered farmsteads of northern Europe gave way to concentrated, heavily fortified settlements, once seen only to the south. “Around 1200 B.C.E. there’s a radical change in the direction societies and cultures are heading,” Vandkilde says. “Tollense fits into a period when we have increased warfare everywhere.” 

Constant conflict will also take it’s toll on the gene pool.

We Never Really had a Chance

R1b is a dominant haplogroup in Europe, but our branch of it, U106, is not. U106 is about 30% of the population of R1b. Even in the areas where you most likely find U106 it rarely reaches a level of 50% the male population. It’s not a majority. So from the outset, even in our “home” populations, U106 men are at a statistical disadvantage. Being a member of Z18 doesn’t help things. The majority of men in U106 fall under the monster group of Z381. I suspect that Z18 is about 15% of the population of U106. I’m horrible with math but I think tha puts Z18 men at about 4.5% of R1b. Cumberlands make up about 10% of Z18, but the comparison seems unfair because we know that we’re not full strength. Others sharing our SNPs may have brought us up to a higher percentage.

The point is, even at our best, with groups that don’t seem to have been depopulated to the extent that the Cumberlands were, we’re still a small percentage of the total of R1b. Considering that Haplogroup I and R1a are more prominent in Scandinavia, our market share of available Y DNA goes down significantly. Rise98 shows a U106 presence in Scandinavia, but in the context of other Y haplogroups in the region, it is likely a very small presence.

Being a small population can lead to being an endangered population pretty quickly.

Good Thing, Where Have You Gone?

It is easy to think of all U106 men as a “people” or all Z18 men as a culture, but the truth is that they probably spanned multiple peoples and cultures in the bronze age, just as they do today.

Given the factors explained in the Wikipedia article on the Nordic Bronze Age, I could see the descendants of Mr. U106 and Z18 making their way north and west into Scandinavia during that long period of warmer weather and good farming. Among them there may have been some few proto-Cumberlands. Maybe the real Mr. DF95 (or any of his 14 other counterparts in our particular line). I’m sure life was not easy and there would be the usual amount of die off in lines, but I can imagine the existence of other types of DF95 men. Maybe the warmer parts of the bronze age helped to account for the diversity of haplogroups we see in R1b, U106 and Z18 at the top levels.

I can imagine the DF95 group dispersing to become part of several populations over hundreds of years, just as they have done since 600BC.

As things progress through the Bronze Age though, I can also imagine those men, already fewer in number than others, facing large scale wars, radical climate change and cultural collapse. All of these things could conspire to destroy smaller populations and leave some wandering genetic remnants to stand alone. Larger Y groups may have been more resilient through their largeness.

Here are parts of the wikipedia article on Archaeology in Northern Europe that really informed this idea that we might be a part of a late bronze age decline and early iron age expansion:

Out of the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of the 12th century BCE developed the Early Iron Age Hallstatt culture of Central Europe from the eighth to sixth centuries BCE, which was followed by the La Tène culture of Central Europe (450 BCE to 1st century BCE). Albeit the metal iron came into wider use by metalsmiths in the Mediterranean as far back as c. 1300 BCE due to the Late Bronze Age collapse, the Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe started only as early as the 5th/4th to the 1st century BCE. 

The coincidence to the age estimates for Mr. ZP86 (the guy that lived) are very interesting as the Cumberland men…well man at that point faces climbing out of a genetic hole right at the point of the pre-roman iron age. Although not as close a fit, it does also contain the contraction and expansion of the men in East Anglia and the Swede Cluster (may have to squint a bit on the swede cluster though).

The Iron Age in northern Europe is markedly distinct from the Celtic La Tène culture south of it. The old long range trading networks south-north between the Mediterranean cultures and Northern Europe, had broken down at the end of the Nordic Bronze Age and caused a rapid and deep cultural change in Scandinavia.

The cultural change that ended the Nordic Bronze Age was affected by the expansion of Hallstatt culture from the south and accompanied by a changing climate, which caused a dramatic change in the flora and fauna. In Scandinavia, this period is often called the Findless Age due to the lack of archaeological finds. While the archaeological record from Scandinavia are consistent with an initial decline in population, the southern parts of the culture, the Jastorf culture, was in expansion southwards. It consequently appears that the climate change played an important role in this southward expansion into continental Europe.

Cultural change, climate change, population decline and southward expansion. Not everyone is going to pack up and leave but I imagine some population probably did. It could have been violent or it may have been a peaceful exchange, maybe gene flow through culture swapping, or maybe just the natural movement of farmers escaping south to better land. Either way, I think some of the descendants of Mr. ZP86 hung out in Scandinavia and others left and moved south in later ages, likely through Jutland, but also west by sea.

Here again from wikipedia:

The bearers of this northern Iron Age culture were likely speakers of Germanic languages. The stage of development of this Germanic is not known, although Proto-Germanic has been proposed. The late phase of this period sees the beginnings of the Migration Period, starting with the invasions of the Teutons and the Cimbri until their defeat at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BCE, presaging the more turbulent Roman Iron Age and Migration Period.

The Teutons and the Cimbri were tribes in Northern Jutland that ran south and caused a lot of trouble for Germanic and Celtic peoples along with the Romans who eventually defeated them around 100BC in South Eastern France. The story goes that those two groups were virtually wiped out by the Romans with thousands taken as slaves, including women and children. So it’s not a small war band, but entire moving tribes. I’m not saying that our Y DNA group had anything to do with the Cimbri or the Teutones, but it does give an example of a wandering group of various tribes from Jutland heading south in a hurry.

Here is a google map of the direct route. Of course, they did not take the direct route they battled all along the way both east and west.

denmark to aix

Having Jutlanders in the south of France fighting the Romans at their back door makes it easier to imagine the comparatively minor migrations and expansion of the Cumberland or East Anglia men out of Scandinavia after the disastrous (for us anyway) events of the late Bronze Age.


The Beginning

Here I’ll leave it for now, with Cumberland man (and likely East Anglia man and probably Swede man) having been pushed to the breaking point at the end of the Bronze age. It was the end for a thousand plus years of generations of men having been brought down to the offspring of a single man in each group. With their survival, it also marks the beginning of a new expansion for us, through the Iron age and the Migration period on up through the rise and fall of Rome and the middle ages. Sons have sons and men move on. Now, again, we are part of many cultures and peoples.

This is currently my best explanation for why we are very ancient haplogroups with very recent common ancestors.


And Then There Were Two



DF95 Not Alone in Being Alone


DF95 Not Alone in Being Alone

Previously in DF95 All Together Alone, I gave some examples of how the Cumberland Cluster is striking for it’s differences. Thinking about the question of how we can all be so alike (in our STR results), but so different from others we examined the SNPs turned up by big Y.  I talked about Y lines dying out, while others might thrive and how that might create gaps on the scale of a family. I gave some examples of the Y DNA trees of other haplogroups to illustrate all the missing branches from ours. I wondered out loud what happened to all the men who should be there given all the time that transpired between our first “cumberland” ancestor born around 2100BC and our most recent common ancestor (Mr. ZP86) born around 600BC.

We’re on our own and odd, but our circumstances are not exactly unique.

Alone in a Crowd

On the Z18 big Y results page (a listing for people who do not fall under the majority Z372 and it’s monster child L257), you’ll find several groups who show a similar pattern of runs of SNPs indicating that all the testers are more recently related to each other without any side branches coming from the ancient ancestors. I’ve highlighted them with darker red boxes.

Big Y Z18 SNP runs


Keep in mind that these groups were often named for the location given by the first few testers, so for instance Cumberland had two or three testers who traced back to Cumberland in England. The names become arbitrary as more testers are added from various locations. Also you’ll see some boxes that are blank, but a light grey. These were areas where there was not coverage in the test (Big Y is not “exact” in it’s coverage). The arrows are pointing to the level of the resident old guys in the cluster.

The East Anglia cluster on the left has about eleven SNPs in a run for all their testers.  To estimate the gap we can think of them being a few hundred years from Mr. Z18, so again maybe 2100BC with a last common ancestor in 250BC. About 1800 years of gap time. Similarly the Swede cluster has 16 SNPs in a row and a gap of about 2000 years. Although with only three testers from that group it’s hard to take that as a hard and fast number, the run could be smaller or it could be that these testers were just lucky in matching someone and others from the group would prove more branches.

Taken for what it is worth today, we have at least three groups coming from the root of Z18 with long straight non-branching Y trees showing a pinch point (back down to a single man) for each group.


Timeline of Tragedy

Well. Who can say if it’s really that dramatic or not, but It would seem like, in the last few hundred years before 0AD, things turned poorly for all these clusters (except L257, they seem to have a lot of nice layers up top which I assume would be in this same time period).

Given the Penchant for all the Z18 groups to include members from Scandinavia and the penchant for Scandinavians (in the Cumberland group anyway) to be on the early branches of big Y (after Mr. ZP86 of course), I’m still betting on that area as a starting point. I feel especially bolstered by the oldest ancient DNA found for U106 being Rise98 found in Sweden. He’s on an extinct branch of U106, but at around 2200BC he shows that U106 had already made it’s way to Scandinavia fairly early on (U106 age estimate is about 3000BC).

Of course, we don’t have to worry too much about those most ancient dates and 4000 to 5000 years of history. All of the diaspora of Cumberland Cluster men (and by the look of their SNPs East Anglia and Swede Cluster men) happened after some series of events and everyone has to get to their current positions in about half the time (2500 to 2000 years maybe). We don’t have to account for any members with connections older than 500 or 600BC. In that time, we recolonize all the same areas that the rest of RZ18 lives in and most of the same areas that U106 men inhabit.

This evidence of a pinch point and late expansion agrees with what we’ve been noticing for years. There are very few of us and we’re really spread out. Like a remnant population scrambling to find new homes.

We have roughly 600AD to 0AD to worry about (assuming we’re going to include the Swede cluster in here). That marks the bottleneck and the beginning of the expansion for these three groups with the Swede group seeming to be the most extreme (coming in closest to 0 hour and having the most SNPs in it’s run). Each group would have been brought to it’s knees about this time, but it also marks the hopeful point where they begin to branch out again.

Cumberlands…the not so early days

In 458.2 Cluster Bomb and Thoughts about Migration I spent some time thinking about the push of Rome north and what it might  mean for Z18 and the DF95 men in particular. In that time, my overarching idea was that we may have been pushed north by the Romans or the inter-tribal pressure created by the Romans, and then migrated from places like Denmark to The Isles, Poland, Sweden and Norway.

The big Y results and Rise98 have me wondering if I had the movement backwards. In the Cumberland cluster, those branches right off Mr. ZP86 and his descendant ZP85 contain men from Norway. Making it seem like Norway may be our home in the range of 600 to 400BC.

At the level of ZP86 (age estimate around 600BC), we have Skjennum (Koller) from Norway forming his own branch with multiple unmatched SNPs (arrow in the graphic above). At that same level, we have the Corsons (Sweden…or maybe Netherlands) who have their own branch. They have one SNP that was identified by Britains DNA or Scotlands DNA; S3525. That means at least one person at those test companies is on their line, but otherwise they are currently on their own (column to the right of the arrow in graphic above).

Down a rung at ZP85 (age estimate around 400BC) we have Lund from Norway on a  branch identified by ZP193, it has two men on it, the other shows a last name of Rathburn which may be Irish or English. The ZP193 branch is the sibling of the ZP121 branch that many of us below ZP85 sit on. There are other  isles origin ZP85 branches with a trails blazed by Ovens and separately Old and we’re waiting for another person to walk down those and define some group of shared SNPs for each man.

The presence of men from Norway at the top, near the pinch point is compelling to me even in a group like DF95 that is still dominated by the Isles and Continental Europe. Our diversity happens after the bottleneck.

East Anglia and the Swede Cluster

Among these three groups with long runs of shared SNPs right off the top, the Cumberlands have won a couple of victories in that you can see an “older” branch at ZP86. In the East Anglia group you have, at this point, a similar pattern. Their man from Sweden, Sahlstrom, is on his own branch at the base (East Anglia arrow in the graphic above) along with some isles testers like Davidson and Parker (to his left and right). The East Anglia cluster is dominated by the Isles but contains a man from Poland as well (Barkman). I have to wonder if he would end up on an older branch as would be expected in the normal east to west migrations or if (like the Cumberland Poland members) he would end up on a younger branch that went west to east. His panel test placed him at the same level as all the other East Anglia testers.

The Swede cluster, although it contains a man from Denmark (currently not tested for big Y) in it’s STR listings, has Swett from England as it’s resident old man, with Marksberry and Howell going a step farther together. All of these men are isles testers, so it would be interesting to get the Swede cluster person from Denmark tested. It’s hard to make a lot of determinations based on three testers who are so similar on the Y and geographically. I have to wonder how much of their 16 SNP run is part of a pinch point and how much of it is shared history in the isles.


A possible Scandinavian Location for the Bottleneck

Although these groups are biased towards the isles (with Cumberland picking up the most continental testers), the evidence we have from the two largest data sets (Cumberland and East Anglia) shows some affinity for early Scandinavian branches at the time of their bottlenecks. Given that other base branches of Z18 like Z372 also have a high incidence of Scandinavians and …again…rise98 showing an early U106 Scandinavian, I think I’m making the safe bet now in looking at 600BC to 0BC in Scandinavia for most recent common ancestors for these remnant groups. Like I said, we don’t have to account for all the diversity and migration of any group since 2100BC because, it would appear those other expected branches between 2100BC and 600BC or so are all dead. We really can think about the location of one man in 600BC for cumberland or 250BC for east anglia etc.

The general idea I come away with is that something big happened or several big things happened and they probably took place before the Romans made their presence known. The Cumberlands are a surviving branch along with what appear to be other sole surviving branches in Z18. We have to go back a bit and think about people who may have been in Scandinavia, but were not the kind of Scandinavians we think about today (vikings).

Based on age estimates, I’m specifically thinking about the period of time end of the Nordic Bronze Age and the beginning of the Pre-Roman Iron Age and, through big Y results, Scandinavia as a source or refuge.



DF95 Do Over



DF95 – All Together Alone









DF95 – All Together Alone

One of the really striking things about Y DF95 or the Cumberland Cluster, is that we generally tend to have fewer Y matches than others in R1b and R1b-U106 and I imagine even other men in R1b-Z18. In my experience, using Y STRs, we have less false positive matches at lower levels than other haplogroups in R1b. This is because we all have some weird values at places like DYS385a and b (11-11 vs. the standard 11-14 for R1b). We have a really clear shared pattern of Y STRs that is different from the majority of testers, which you would assume makes us fairly closely related. Yet we’re a really old group, apparently branching right off of R1b-Z18. Old and young at the same time.

In Hidden Branches of the Cumberland Cluster I mentioned the cluster of about 14 SNPs right at the top of all of our big Y results. Making our signature SNP, DF95, really 1/14th of the story. In that big long list of shared SNPs are clues to the story of why we are so old, but so similar and it’s a story about pinch points.

As results have come in, I’ve been waiting to see one big Y test or another break up that gang of 14, the way tests have broken up the gangs below it. It just hasn’t happened yet. I’ve also been waiting around for a connection to some other group under Z18, thinking we would tie back into one of them, but all the group analysis shows us branching directly from Z18.

Through the Eye of the Needle

SNPs rack up over time on lines of descent. Instead of a family tree, imagine a descendant tree with the trunk on top and branches going down.

let’s say I make an SNP to add to those that I inherited. My son may be a duplicate of me on the Y, his son may be a duplicate, his son may be a duplicate, but maybe four sons down the line, something changes and a new SNP is born on our line. That 2nd great grandson will have a Y SNP that he will pass on to future generations that is slightly different from mine. My other 2nd great grandsons won’t have that particular SNP, but they may have some others of their own. These form Y branches from my original Y DNA. All of them carry my original set of Y SNPs (that I inherited from my male ancestors) and converge on me as the most recent common ancestor.

The thing is, even though they all converge on me, I’m not the only one who carries these ancestral SNPs, there are many living men that do, even though they may be farther back on the tree. My first cousin probably has an identical set of SNPs, my third cousin, may have a few of his own along with carrying the SNPs we inherited from our shared 2nd great grandfather.

if all the male lines of my descendants save one died out, they could still compare their Y to my 2nd cousin’s descendants and come up with the shared SNPs from my 2nd great grandfather. They would completely bypass me and their last common ancestor and end up at my second great grandfather. My unique SNP would show up in a jumble with theirs on this single living line of descendants.

My second cousin could have twelve sons and their Y line would dominate the picture of our family. My Y line, shrunk to just one man, may die out. My second great grandfather’s Y DNA would continue through my third cousin’s descendants, but my Y SNPs would be on a dead end.

This sort of thing probably happens all the time, with some branches dead ending and others expanding. Below is an example, the different colors represent the formation of new Y SNPs. Any one line may die out but there are others there who carry on. Each little man here is a generation and SNPs might pop up every 140 years or so (judging by big Y).


descendants tree with some lines dead ending

When looking at that list of 14 SNPs shared by every DF95 man, but not shared by anyone else, you get a different sort of picture. 14 SNPs in a row times about 140 years is roughly 2000 years. So every DF95 man alive today has 2000 years of SNPs leading up to our last common ancestor and we don’t share them with anyone else. That means at a certain point 2000 years worth of descendants disappeared, leaving only one man.

cumberland men missing

I don’t have the space to make a 2000 year descendant chart so You’ll have to visualize with the chart above. In the chart above you have the Y line coming from one of those original 14 SNPs. On the right hand side is the DF95 Cumberland line. No one knows what order those 14 SNPs go in, they are a jumble. So I just picked. As you trace the cascade of men down you can see that there would be a lot of inter-related lines and groups that would share some of those 14 SNPs along the way.

We don’t have that. We’re related to that one man at the end. ZP86. All Cumberlands have it along with the rest of the 14. Beyond ZP86 we begin to diverge again forming the branches in the Cumberland Cluster.

That is why we all look so similar and so different from other Z18 men. There should be a lot more of us, maybe some with a few of the differences we have, but not others. In the context of the family tree that should exist, we DF95 Cumberlands would not be so striking. Right now, that man, Mr. ZP86 is our lifeline. He passed through the eye of the needle. Everyone else for 2000 years, is gone.


Broken Branches

Another way to visualize this is by thinking about the branches that should exist. I’m going to put up a few examples so you get the idea of what a Y family tree might look like (again it’s upside down because it’s a descendant tree).

Here is a top level tree for all of R1b made by Mike Walsh from the R1b and all Subclades project. See the tiny DF95 in purple on the right. On the left are some age estimates for major branches. We’re under P311 and U106.


R1b Chart


the tree above is big and messy. Each of those SNPs in boxes may have many many SNPs below them as children, this is just the upper level. You can see that U106 is smaller than it’s sibling P312. Z18 is smaller than it’s sibling Z381 (which is the major group under U106). Still Mr. R1b has a lot of living descendants.

Here is a visual tree made by Iain McDonald of the U106 group. Notice the layering of SNPs on the right where descendants were plentiful and new SNPs seem to crop up fairly routinely in various generations. Note Z18 on the left, with Z17 having child SNPs in Z372 and L257 and the long straight line farther left that leads to DF95 (among others). Click on it for a bigger version…although still pretty tiny to my eyes.


u106 visual tree

From age estimates also provided by Iain McDonald, this graphic above represents R1b-U106 from about 2900BC to today. Very roughly, about 5000 years of history. Lots of children, with some branches thriving and others surviving.

Here is an example closer to home. L257 which is a cousin of DF95 in the Z18 project. I’ve taken a snapshot of the draft big Y tree for L257 created by Peter OpdenVelde of the Z18 project. this is not all of it..I just couldn’t fit it all on the screen. Again, looking at age estimates, this would represent a common ancestor in about 1800BC. Roughly 4000 years of L257 branching.


With those trees as a reference, here is my example of a Cumberland tree..or a DF95 tree, with missing branches filled in.


Our first SNP in those top 14 would pop in about 140 years or so after Z18 man. So one of his descendants that might show up at his family reunion probably started it off. So maybe around 2100BC. I’ve used S8387 here, but any one could stand in since we don’t know the order of them. I’ve drawn in various branches that might exist but are missing for many of those 14 SNPs. These are the broken branches in our tree. We should see many branches, but our tree is more like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. All of those branches should be there, but they aren’t. We’re left with our single branch related to a man born around 600BC (based on age estimates). So here age estimates would put the gap around 1500 years, not too far from the 2000 year estimate based on the average 140 year per SNP rate.

Where did they all go? What happened to them? Did we face some sort of extinction event that ended around 600BC? What can we know about Mr. ZP86 (A.K.A. the guy who lived)?



DF95 Not Alone in Being Alone



Hidden Branches of the Cumberland Cluster


Autosomal DNA Updates and My Wife Sets Me Straight

AncestryDNA seems to be the hotspot for matches for me right now, but I’m still digging up things at 23 and me as well.

Another Elmore Match at AncestryDNA

I had another fairly large match come in at AncestryDNA. A person related to Halsey Orton Elmore through his daughter Blanche Pearl Elmore. A new second cousin two times removed in the Waughtel family. The match is predicted as a 4th cousin with 63cM and three segments. Shared matches include my original Elmore tester who is related to Halsey’s daughter Goldie Elmore, but do not include my first cousin or my big Elmore match that led to Maurice Elmore.

I have to say, the AncestryDNA shared matches feature is a mystery to me. I’ve seen through Gedmatch that shared matches exist and should show  up at Ancestry, but don’t. I’m not sure if Ancestry is disregarding some segments or what, but it seems kind of flaky. So I’m not really confident that I’m seeing all the information when I see (or maybe more importantly don’t see) a shared match. One more way the AncestryDNA tools are eroding my trust.

I made contact with my new match, but haven’t heard anything back. Of course, carting over to Gedmatch with them would be awesome as it might shed light on some of my dad’s other genetic matches. I do not have high hopes that that will happen.


Finally Some Finks matches (that I didn’t recruit myself)

I had a 4th cousin match pop up whose family tree contained a child and a single married couple. One parent private and the other named. Luckly they did the surname in the username thing, so I could see they are a Finks. I looked up all the Finks couples with male finks married to her named parent and started building a tree. Instead of a 4th cousin, this new match is a 2nd cousin 2x removed descended from a sibling (Earl Vivian Finks) of my Robert Finks.  Not having a family tree really defeats the purpose of the AncestryDNA site. Other sites allow you to look at shared segments, etc. Ancestry doesn’t do that…you just have the family tree and the “shared matches” which seems to be hit or miss sometimes. So if you don’t have a family tree to look at, you really don’t have much use for your ancestryDNA results. Thus I spend a lot of time trying to decipher a match’s family tree from whatever clues there might be.

I made contact with my new match, but haven’t heard anything back. Of course, carting over to Gedmatch with them would be awesome as it might shed light on some of my dad’s other genetic matches. I do not have high hopes that that will happen.

Another 4th cousin match has only private members in her family tree. The kit is managed by someone whose last name is Walsh like my grandfather’s cousin D Walsh. She shares matches in common with a person who has our Mitchell family and also our new Finks cousin above. The only time I’m aware of the Mitchell family meeting with the Finks family is with my second great grandfather Robert Finks and his wife Ida Mitchell (really Michel). I think this person might be related to Robert and Ida, but I’m unsure (again no real tree).

I made contact with my new match, but haven’t heard anything back. Of course, carting over to Gedmatch with them would be awesome as it might shed light on some of my dad’s other genetic matches. I do not have high hopes that that will happen.

Heartbreak Over a Totten Ancestry Hint

AncestryDNA gave me a hint about the Totten family, which is a family related to our Elmores way back. The match was a good size (at least 10cM). So I asked if they would upload to Which they did! I checked first to make sure they were related to my dad, then I checked them against his maternal family. it turned out they were a maternal match, also sharing a segment with my dad’s uncle on the Seelye side.

I think this is my first official family tree “miss”. I’ve had other matches over at Gedmatch pass all the tests I can put in front of them as far as what side of the family they are on so this is a milestone of sorts and a good reason to be skeptical of the DNA hints.

A possible Vandergriff match

Back over at 23 and me, I found a Vandergriff match, nice big one. Two good segments. I have family trees for one segment and the troubling thing there is that I had identified several families with Caldwells in their tree for that segment. None that I can see have Vandergriffs. My new match does definitely share our Vandergriff family (through the Carr line) but also has some dead end Caldwells herself. So I’m not sure if that Vandergriff match is real or if there are unknown Caldwells in my tree.

I found an AncestryDNA match who shared David L. Smith (married to Elizabeth Vandergriff). They didn’t seem opposed to but had not done it yet. I would love to compare them to the 23 and me Vandergriff match and also see if they in any way correspond to the Bolton matches. Still trying to tie those Boltons down.

My Wife Sets Me Straight on Goals

As I’m working on my own matches, my dad’s matches, my aunt’s paternal mystery and trying to connect a friend to the Elmers in her family, I end up messaging a lot of people. The vast vast majority of people do not respond. The majority of respondents may give a polite nod, throw up their hands or erect a barrier. A minor amount will be willing to work on it (they might post their results to Gedmatch for instance, or provide a family tree to look at). There is a tiny fraction of that group that actively participates actively beyond that.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that I don’t think the data is the problem. The problem is normally people and dealing with their issues. The data is straight forward and easily had, but it has to be given by people who are complex bags of electrochemical signals with their own things going on. You put your message out without knowing who is on the other side or what their goals are, so you get that range of responses I mentioned before. Although what you really need is help, you end up doing a lot of hostage negotiations where the data you need to help yourself is being held hostage by someone.

My poor wife has to hear about this all the time. Especially with close relatives where I make contact and get no response and then, if I can, I build their family tree using whatever clues and then inform them of what I found… and still get no response. Rinse and repeat. It’s especially sad at ancestryDNA where having a family tree is kind of “the deal”. I’m not talking about ancient history here in many respects, the reason I can build these trees is because they are so close and maybe have one person who is not private that I can key off of.

So my wife hears this, daily about the bumps on logs and active stone-wallers and the mutes. I’m always asking her why. Why? Why do people go to the trouble of DNA testing and then just ignore the actual matches?

She finally said that my frustration is because my goals are different from other people’s goals.  I am desperately looking for information to fill in holes, gaps, find great grandparents or parents. I need the big data to come up with answers. Other testers, even in my immediate family are looking for validation. They want the test to tell them they are Irish or French or who knows Native American, but there is no real burden to prove anything or learn anything new. The test is the proof of the thing they already believe. Meanwhile, I am living in a world where our beliefs are false and I need evidence to find out what really happened.

I know that I should know that. It’s hard because you get wrapped up in finding the answer to something. In the case of my aunt, the clock is ticking because she’s dying from kidney disease. I am using these tools in a manhunt and the huge majority of people have probably signed up for entertainment value.

Some people use flotation devices to save lives and I use flotation devices to entertain my kids at the beach. Neither one is wrong, just different goals. Of course in genetic genealogy, I’m the one on the drowning side and other people are sitting on their floaties watching me sink to the bottom, so I’m going to be frustrated.

Information versus validation. A good thing to keep in mind.

U152 Thompsons at Y67

U152 Thompsons at Y67, the playing field is narrowing.

I had some decisions to make. I could pursue testing further SNPs for the U152 Thompsons one at a time, I could save up for a big Y for them, or I could bump them out to Y67 and see what their matches looked like there. I chose the Y67. I thought they might come closer to their Thomson match who stopped at Y67 (and U152->L2). I also thought they might come closer to the William Thompson listed on the U152 map who appears to have run big Y.

Y67 did narrow the results down quite a bit. Y37 match with Davis is gone. The new top match is Davidson at 64/67, with no way to contact him. The Thomson match is still there now, instead of 34/37 they are 62/67 (a genetic distance of 5) and the second closest match in the list. I sent along an email, but have no response. At a genetic distance of 5 with a shared surname (or variant) FTDNA lists Thomson as “related”. Unfortunately that is as far as that goes. Without some form of contact, we’re stuck there at Thomson. By my calculations, William Thompson should also appear in the match list but doesn’t.

If I want to get the most information (and possibly catch up to William Thompson) my only real next step is either Y111 (which he has) or Big Y. Big Y may pull them closer to William Thompson or it could push them farther apart if the U152 Thompsons are in a different major Y branch from William. I may just end up doing both. Hopefully the U152 group is as helpful with interpretation of big Y as the U106 and Z18 groups have been.

At the end of the Y67 results, I feel like I’ve got a Thompson/Thomson win, although they are probably distantly related…they are still related within the last 1000 years or so. The rest of the match list contains the Wilsons and Douglas families from Y37 until at a certain point the matches get more “Alpine” and appear to skip haplogroups on me.




The Carr Family and DNA Triangulation

In Elmore Dark Matter I talked about the regular old paper trail steps I followed to uncover Maurice Elmore’s history and his connection to the family of Halsey Orton Elmore. In that search, the key to the entire thing was actually his mother’s family. Deciphering their connections led me down the right path and nicely all that detective work was later confirmed with documentation.

Having discovered Imogene Carr, her father Daniel Carr and mother Mary Smith, I’m going to jump back to DNA for a bit and talk about the segment triangulation I was attempting a year ago with the Carr family.

Segment triangulation?! what the heck is that? Here is my ham handed explanation…of course I use something near and dear to me, food, to explain myself. Here is a nice concise and more professional definition from Blaine Bettinger at the genetic genealogist.


Before I talk about the Carrs, I need to talk about the Boltons.

You’ve seen from my other posts that finding genetic matches has been easier than getting family tree information from those matches. Once you have a collection of people who match on a segment and the (usually much smaller) group of people who will share family tree information, then you can start looking for common ancestors.

The Boltons were my first triangulated DNA ancestors on my grandfather’s side and they are special because I don’t have a particular bias towards them. They do not appear in my family tree. I noticed as I was accumulating family trees for various matches that I started to see a lot of Boltons and that they seemed to be related to the same Bolton family.

This table shows various genetic matches for my dad with people who have this Bolton family in their tree. All of them proved to be paternal matches (so related to my grandfather). Although most of these matches are in triangulated groups, I can only say that one of them is a Bolton triangulated group.

The match on chromosome 1 is related to Thomas Bolton and Jemima Hammack through their daughter Nancy. Thomas Bolton is the son of Robert Bolton and Mary Hubbard. His match is very small (prone to be identical by accident) and although there are four other people on that same segment, I haven’t been able to get any family trees for them. The match on Chromosome 4  is really rough because it was only a surname listing for Bolton. No tree was available…so that doesn’t count for much.

The matches on chromosome 3 all match each other and are related to Thomas Bolton and Elizabeth James. Thomas is the son of Thomas Bolton and Jemima Hammack. Unfortunately, they are all very closely related. My dad matches everyone from a young man to his aunts on to his great aunt in that same group and his great aunt is the daughter of a Bolton who is related to Thomas and Elizabeth, but they don’t count because they are too close to each other. They form more of a straight line than a triangle. I do not have trees for the three other kits in this triangulated group.

Chr Start End Length cM SNPs
1 199928328 204786830 8.1 1475
3 11000000 32000000 28.6 cM 4862
3 11000000 30000000 25.4 4369
3 11000000 30000000 25.4 cM 4360
3 11000000 21000000 11.1 cM 2001
4 10000000 23000000 14.3 2585
5 4686409 32463775 37.34 6927
5 40322578 72536852 18.8
5 40381478 65221177 14.28 4200
5 52272205 73523708 17.4
6 8478783 23509261 23.16 4496

Chromosome 5 represents the actual triangulated group. None of them are very closely related, although they do meet up at various levels of the same Bolton family. Two share only single segments with my dad. They are related to Rebecca Bolton the daughter of Robert Bolton and Mary Hubbard. One match has two segments on 5. Each of his segments is in it’s own triangulated group, one matching with the others here on chromosome 5 (in the group of three) and one (the larger match) that is in a monster triangulated group of people who appear to generally be from Kentucky and share multiple families there. The two segment person on chromosome 5 is related to Thomas Bolton and Jemima Hammack.

So there is my triangle on chromosome 5, the end result from multiple years of work and contacting matches at three different companies, and they don’t even exist in my tree. All I know is they are somehow related to my grandfather and sometimes appear adjacent to matches to his mother Orvetta Finks.

The last man standing there on chromosome 6 is related to Thomas Bolton and Elizabeth James. He’s all alone there on the paternal side so there is no one to triangulate with.

You can see me working out these connections in 2014 and at the time I’m thinking the Boltons are related to the Williamson family (when I still held out hope that we were at least related to the Williamsons in some way if not the Thompsons).

I reference the Boltons here as a bright spot when I write about being tired of spinning my wheels in autosomal DNA in 2015.

The really scary/interesting bit happened just this year in 2016, when my paternal first cousin had his DNA tested at ancestryDNA. Ancestry picked out the Long and Bolton family as possible DNA only matches for him (but not me). This is the same family connected to that small Bolton match on chromosome 1 for my father. My level of confidence in a Bolton ancestor is 99.99% and it seems ancestryDNA might have picked up on it too.

isaac long and nancy bolton hints

Before I talk about the Carrs, I need to talk about the Proto-Carrs.

I started working on the Carrs in January of 2015 only I didn’t know I was working on the Carrs. I very rarely know what I’m working on when I start forming groups of related DNA segments. I’ve gotten enough relatives tested that I might know what side of the family I’m working on which is nice, but beyond that I have been in the dark for years on what the family connection would end up being.

The story of the Carrs starts with me contacting matches about what looked like the start of a triangulation group. Here are the players in this story.

match chr start end length cM SNPs
Evelyn 1 166344260 182502103 15.04 4097
David 8 12770091 25799345 22.22 5269
Bruce 10 36728420 77118441 34.38 8945
Evelyn 10 36728420 77118441 34.38 8945

Evelyn and Bruce match my dad on chromosome 10 and they match each other there as well. This is a paternal match because I am lucky enough to have maternal matches for my dad in the same area and these guys don’t match them.

Evelyn also has a segment on chromosome 1. She is all alone there as the only paternal match I’ve confirmed in that area.

As I would come to find out, David on chromosome 8, is the third cousin of Bruce. They share the Carr family in common, but I do not have a tree for David except for his path to the Carr family and a list of surnames he knows.  Bruce also shared that David did not match him on chromosome 8. The Carrs are in Boone County Indiana in the mid 1800s before moving on the Howard County Indiana and then Story County Iowa. David and Bruce meet up at William Carr the son of Nathan Carr and Sarah Wiley.

Of course at the time, Indiana was bitter sweet for me because I know something is up (although not exactly what) with my Thompsons who are also from Indiana.

Evelyn and Bruce on chromosome 10 were my targets for the start of a triangulated group, just like the Boltons, there appeared to be a pattern of related people. As it turns out Evelyn also has a Carr from Boone County Indiana in her family tree. Her 3rd great grandmother is Rachel Carr,  the poorly documented wife of Martin Brouhard who dies there in Boone and whose children are scattered to other households by 1850.  One researcher suggests that she is the sister of Margaret Carr Smith which would make her a daughter of Nathan Carr and Sarah Wiley. Rachel Carr is a brick wall ancestor and I cannot pin her to the rest of the Carr family.

Evelyn’s larger match would make you think that she is somehow more closely related to my dad, but I cannot find it in her tree.

This is a failure to triangulate a common ancestor. I’ve got two people in the triangle, no match in my tree and no real connection between them other than their DNA and the whisper of possible common Carr ancestry. The triangle when paired with David’s information is compelling, but David is in his own triangulated group. Other paternal matches on the same segment are half the size of his (in the 10cM range where his is 22cM) but they all seem to share the same Crawford and Harrell family and are not closely related.

When I first contacted David it was about the Crawfords and Harrells. He has none of those in his known family. Does David’s match represent the Carr family or an earlier tie to one of the ancestors in the Crawford and Harrell families shared by the three other matches on his segment?

In any case, at the time that I put these people together, there were no Carrs in my tree and also at the time I thought it might be likely that we were related to a “Ward” family as the surname Ward was common to the two people on chromosome 10. It remained an interesting group, but I couldn’t get any further.


Now, I can talk about the Carrs.

When I imagined the glorious and amazing process I would follow to find my great grandfather and solve the recently, close to home, mystery of my Thompson family; I thought one of the sign posts pointing the way would be that I might run head long into the Boltons. With so many possible connections and one triangle I felt good about, I was sure they would reveal themselves somehow.

As you know from Elmore Dark Matter, I did not run into the Boltons. I ran into the Carrs. Now it turns out we are related to Daniel Brimmerman Carr who is the son of Annanias Nile Carr and Jane Franklin. Annanias is the son of Nathan Carr and Sarah Wiley. So I see them again, only this time they are in my family tree.

I still don’t have a Carr triangle. I’d feel really accomplished if I could tie up Rachel Carr to Nathan Carr and Sarah Wiley, but that may just be out of reach. As it sits, I’m still waiting for a third leg in that Carr stool. It is possible I could wait a long, long time for this to work itself out.

I failed to work it out a year ago, but I’m not that worried about it. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that segment triangulation is the best way to nail down a distant ancestor and I intend to keep at it, but I also feel like I’ve reached some level of confidence with this one. I’m 85% confident that I am seeing a real genetic match to our Carr ancestors.

Why 85% confident in the Carrs?

Okay. The hope and dream is to stack up those pancake segments, sort the strawberry pancakes from the blueberries and then hunt down those common ancestors. If you have both grandparents to test, then it’s easy to figure out what they gave your parent as DNA but if you don’t then you’re down to sorting segments that match common relatives who are available to test.

What you’ll notice if you test closer relatives like I’ve been able to do with my paternal grandmother’s family, is that not everyone matches everyone else everywhere. At the same time, segments drop off the map and disappear over generations.  That means the more generations there are between you, a relative and your shared ancestor, the less likely you are to triangulate on a single segment.

As an example I’m going to turn to our cousin Phillip again. Second cousin one time removed for my dad and his sister. He is a close enough relative that I don’t really question his place in our family tree. For this comparison I’ll use my dad, my aunt and myself and we’ll look at things from Phillip’s perspective.

segment comparison of Phillip, Cheryl, Thomas and Michael. Michael does not share all the segments of the others.

Notice the top table.  My aunt Cheryl has more segments in common with their second cousin one time removed Phillip than my father Thomas does. One of those segments (on chromosome 22) is about 20cM, so it’s a non-trivial segment difference between brother and sister. You can see that even between siblings things are not always equal.

I’m the purple one there, notice in the chromosome matching chart that I do not match Phillip on chromosome 4 (circled in red) even though it’s a nice big segment shared by my aunt and father.

This is where I would note that any or all of my siblings might carry that segment on chromosome 4 that I do not have. Any or all of Cheryl’s children might carry that segment on chromosome 4 too and they would in turn pass it on but I will not. My children have no hope of matching there on chromosome 4.

I have lost a significant segment match that was there just one generation before.

Here is another example. Again using Phillip, but instead of Cheryl I’ll substitute my dad’s uncle Ray (also related to Phillip as his second cousin) and myself.



Notice from the table at the top that Ray has more segments than my dad Thomas does but less centimorgans in common with his second cousin. These are differences between Ray and his sister who handed my dad his matching segments. I’ve circled these segments that Ray shares with Phillip, but Thomas does not. Ray may have handed those segments to any or all of his children and they could have passed them on. My dad does not have those to pass on to his children.

On chromosome 5, Ray appears to have a segment that is just about to wink out of existence while my dad handed a larger one right over to me. Ray’s children and grandchildren may not see that segment…or it may be too small to count.

Again, I’m highlighting chromosome 4 where great uncle Ray shares the same segment with Phillip that my dad does. Ray’s children and grandchildren could carry that segment. My aunt carries it and her children could too. My father carries it and my siblings might, but I do not have that very big segment to pass on. I am just out of the loop on chromosome 4.

This represents one second cousin level match (at different distances of removal) compared to three generations in my family. In those three generations there are differences between siblings and differences between generations. Many segments are common but many are not and some are just lost.

Thinking about this snapshot of chromosomes; see how different Ray is from my dad. He is my dad’s uncle, but he has four segments in that little snapshot that my dad does not. Considering that Ray and I only match on two segments in this snapshot (Ray and I only match Phillip on three segments total), the chances that Ray’s grandson and I would match Phillip on any one shared segment seem more remote. It’s possible, but it becomes less likely.

Ray’s grandson and I would both be Phillip’s second cousins two times removed, neither would be less related and yet we might share totally different segments with him than we do with each other.

As a point of interest, I ran over to to check out how my first cousin Tim matches with Phillip. Tim and I share our two paternal grandparents, his dad and my dad are brothers. Tim, my dad and I only overlap each other and match Phillip on one 20cM segment. That’s my first cousin compared to me and our shared 2nd cousin 2x removed and we have one 20cM triangulated segment with a known relative even though we each share multiple segments with that same relative…we just don’t share them with each other.

The genetic lottery makes triangulating a segment with a known relative more difficult than you would think, especially as that relative becomes more distant.

Back to the Carrs then with these things in mind.

The fact that my dad has at a minimum a 30cM match and a separate 22cM match with two members of the Carr family related to his 4th great grandparents (their second great grandparents) is pretty neat. Now add in a possible triangulated segment with another Carr from the same town at the same time as the first two Carrs..and my confidence in seeing a real pattern of ancestry goes up.

I also feel like there is a boost because when I put this group together last year, there was no bias toward the Carr family. They didn’t exist in my tree. I had no expectation of being related to them that might drive me to fabricate evidence. Finding out in the last few months that I am related to them is frosting on the cake I already baked.

Judgement Callsgipsy fortune telling card game sign

To me, segment triangulation is a defense against “genetic astrology”. Genetic astrology is, among other things, the parlor trick of DNA matching through “In Common With” lists. For example, you find 10 genetic relatives who are in common with each other (through FTDNA or AncestryDNA) and find that they are all related to George Washington or Robin Hood or Odin and then use that as evidence to back your claim in your own family tree, that you are related to Odin as well.

It’s all about running off half cocked, seeing what you want to see and claiming evidence without doing any of the work. AncestryDNA makes it easiest to do that by providing no way to look at segment data but making “common matches” readily available. It makes it easy to make a claim without real evidence to back it up. It can be dangerous, especially the farther back you go. Here in the U.S. a lot of people are related to early colonial families. How do you know if your DNA Circle for the Dyers was really a match to the Dyers or if some of those people are related to you through the Comstock and Savage family you also share?

By having some standard, like a triangulated segment, you hope to avoid the pitfalls of wishful thinking. WE ALL struggle with wishful thinking. You’re working to eliminate other ancestral possibilities when you form a triangulated group. You want the group to help you rule in or rule out ancestors.

There are always going to be uncertainties. Triangulated segments are not foolproof. I have lots of triangulation groups that don’t point to any common ancestor I can find.  I imagine there is one, but those segments could be questionable or their trees could have veered away from a genetic ancestor.

In the end a triangulated segment is really just an attempt to eliminate as much uncertainty as you can. That is why a lot of genetic genealogists consider them a standard of proof for a common ancestor.

Without a triangulated segment then, what makes me think the Carrs are not genetic astrology and wishful thinking?

The truest answer is that they really could be. Any pattern might end up being a false pattern. These relatives are not close enough to be a sure bet like some of my other genetic cousins. I have not, and really cannot, eliminate the possibility that they are all related to some other known or unknown relative of my grandfather. There are plenty of unknowns in the Finks family and even in other branches of the Elmore family after all.

I am trying to have my cake and eating it too in a sense. I believe that a triangulated segment is a good foundation for hunting down ancestors and offers better proof than a bunch of scattered segments around our genome. On the other hand, I can also show within my own family how triangulated segments may not be available even when there is no question of the family relationship.

You get down to having done your homework as best you can and coming up with some level of confidence in the patterns and matches you’re seeing.

For now, this evidence for the Carr family is the best evidence I have. It is not the best evidence there could be. It’s just the best I have. In the end, it’s a judgement call. I’m going to bet on these Carrs and see how things play out.

Seeing this likely Carr connection, in the light of discovering my Elmore family and their Carrs, made everything seem more solid. I’ve got people on both sides of Maurice Elmore’s family. That raises my confidence level in the entire enterprise.




Elmore Dark Matter

In Genetic Genealogy the Hard Way I finally had a close Elmore relative walk right up and bite me. After the invisible hand of fate did me a solid and showed me his last known Elmore, I was left with couple of questions. I have focused on the Elmores in Peoria because of their proximity to my great grandmother in 1924. In that search I came up with two families, one was a very large family related to Halsey Orton Elmore and the other was a single man who was related to Elmores in Kentucky. Ultimately Halsey’s family went back to our Y DNA matches in the Elmer family in New York and Connecticut and the Kentucky Elmores did not.

In our research, my friend Peg and I ran down through all the generations we could put together, looking for possible Elmore sons. Why then hadn’t we (or anyone else) found Maurice J. Elmore born in Peoria in 1906?

Secondly, I had a Halsey Orton Elmore related person tested at AncestryDNA and although my first cousin and I are a match to her, Mr. Elmore, suspected half second cousin, did not appear to share that match. Was our match to the Halsey relative coincidence?  Were we then related to some other unknown Elmore family?

Where Luck and Effort Meet

Let’s have a look at those Peoria Elmores in 1924 again. From the Peoria city directory:

Peoria Elmores 1924

There’s Athel..he runs back to Kentucky and Guy M and his wife Lula Becker..Guy’s son Louis is down the list there. No Maurice Elmore listed in 1924 which is the target time before the birth of my grandfather in February of 1925. For a refresher here is my great grandmother Orvetta Finks. She’s a waitress in 1924:


Alright then, time to track down Maurice.

Having found Maurice in Chicago in 1940 with an existing family and two sons born in the mid 1930s, I then searched ancestry family trees and gleaned some more directory information about him. Although when I searched there were only two family trees and both were hidden private trees, one of them (not the one belonging to my match) for some reason just displayed his information. More dumb luck on my part. From that tree I found out that he was married a second time, served in the military and died in Riverside California.


If he’s born in Peoria in 1906, can I find him in the 1910 Census? The answer is…sort of.

maurice 1910 census index

He’s transcribed incorrectly and not living with any other Elmores. I had to search for him by last name only. He’s listed with his grandmother Mae Babot and her son Frank. Here’s the image:


Skipping to Maurice’s Grandparents to Find his Mom

Babot is not a name of any of the secondary families in the Elmores I’ve gathered from Peoria. They must be Maurice’s maternal grandparents, so where do the Babots come in? Babot sounds French to me..or seems like a misspelling. So I went to the Peoria directory for 1910. Here is Mae Babbitt widow of Freelin:


Freelin must be the father of Frank. Frank seems a bit old to be the son of Mae.  Mae could be Freelin’s second marriage. Mae is from Iowa, Frank is from Iowa. Freelin may be from Iowa too along with Maurice’s mother who is not listed in the 1910 census. A search for the 1900 census in Iowa produced this family from Leon, Decatur Iowa:

Freelin Bobbitt Mary Bobbitt Ima Lee Carr Jasper Carr

An ancestry family tree search lists Freelin Babbitt/Bobbitt along with Mary (Mae) Bobbitt and Iona Lee Carr with a source of a book on 100 years of Bobbitts. Ima or Iona lee Carr is listed as a stepdaughter of Freeland Bobbitt. So that means Mary was Married before to someone named Carr most likely.

marriage of mary carr and freelin bobbitt

Above is Mary Carr’s marriage license from Missouri. It’s dated 1899 so her marriage to Freelin is pretty close to that 1900 Census. Carr is Mary’s married name, so what is her maiden name and who was her husband? I got some help from Jasper L Carr and his birth record in Iowa.

jasper L carr iowa birth

Daniel Carr and Mary Smith…Carr…Bobbitt. Thanks to Ima’s brother Jasper we have a target Carr family. Here is the Iowa listing for a daughter who would be 15 in 1900:


Daniel B. Carr. Here is their marriage record from Iowa that gave me their parents names. This was an excellent trail:

Daniel B Carr and Mary Smith marriage

This is one of the few times where it has been easier for me to track a maternal family than a paternal family. Maurice living with his grandmother in 1910 really opened the door to this discovery. As I’m gathering this evidence, my thoughts are that Maurice’s parents may be dead which would explain why he’s living with his grandmother in 1910. I decided to try to find him in 1920 as well. Again it wasn’t so easy.


This time he’s indexed as Maurice Elmoe a boarder with Mae Eichorn. A 13 year old Boarder seems kind of young. Perhaps John Eichorn did not want to claim him as a grandson. 1920 is going to be a rough year for Maurice I imagine, Mary (Mae) dies in 1920.

Mae Eichorn Death Record

Her death record does list her parents so I can tie her back to Daniel Brimmerman Carr’s marriage well enough and that does make Ima Carr Maurice’s most likely mother, but who was his father? For this, I went back to the city directory in Peoria.


Getting Mom and Dad Together

I know that Ima is with Freelin and Mary (Mae) in 1900 and therefore likely in his vicinity in 1906 when Maurice is born. Here is Freelin/Freeland in 1906:


Here are the Elmores in 1906:


Nothing much out of the ordinary, but then take a look at 1907:

ina l elmore listed

With this one I needed a little help from a friend. I had noted that Guy Elmore lived on 628 Matthew and in 1906 the Bobbitts were at 638 Matthew, but I was interested in Emma Elmore who seemed to appear out of nowhere. I also noted Mrs. Ina L Elmore down near the bottom but..I wasn’t sure if Ina was Ima..or maybe Emma was Ima. Then my friend Peg pointed out that Ina L. Elmore was living at 628 Matthew with Guy M. Elmore.

That was all wrong. Guy M. Elmore was married to Lula Becker and in 1907 had two sons with her, Harold and Louis according to all the family trees and census records I’d seen. Why would Maurice be living with his grandmother instead of with Guy Elmore and family in 1920 and 1910?

I ordered Maurice’s death record from Vital Check to see if this trail was really leading where it looked like it was leading, that Guy M. Elmore had a first wife and that she was Ima Carr.

maurice death top portion listing guy elmore and imogene carr

On the heels of that I ordered a genealogical search for marriage records in Peoria and was sent the 1906 marriage record for Ima Carr and Guy Elmore.

ima carr and guy elmore marriage license

Peg made a trip to Peoria Illinois and also found Ima Carr’s headstone (featured image at the top) and death notice in a newspaper.

imogene carr elmore death notice

That means that Imogene is the most likely mother of Louis and Harold Elmore as well as the mother of Maurice. Guy Elmore appears to marry Lulu in 1910 three years after Harold and Louis are born.  For some odd reason Maurice did not live with his father and step mother Lulu in 1920. Here is Lulu’s marriage index record:

lulu becker marriage to guy elmore 1910

The Missing Elmore

The reason then that I didn’t find Maurice is that in 1924 he’s missing from the list, in 1920 he’s not living with his brothers, father and step mother, in 1910 he’s mis-transcribed and his parents were only married for three years before his mother died. They don’t appear in a census together and they don’t appear on the same line in the Peoria Directory in 1907. We basically had to build this one from scratch.

Maurice is conspicuously absent in 1924 where Orvetta Finks is listed as a waitress in the Peoria directory, but he is listed in 1922, 1923 and 1925 as a chef/waiter and a cook.



Elmores 1906

In 1930 I believe I find him in Joleit, although I am not absolutely certain of it. By 1940 he’s married to Goldie Scott and living in Chicago with his two sons. Later, after the war I believe he marries Margaret Jacobs and lives out his days in California.


The Recap

Y DNA ties my Thompson family to Hezekiah Elmer in 1686. In Peoria Illinois where my great grandmother lived in 1924 there is a family of Elmores related to Halsey Orton Elmore who run back through James Walsworth Elmore to Peru, New York and then still farther back to Hezekiah Elmer 1686. Autosomal DNA connects my Dad (through his father), my first cousin and I to a descendant of Goldie Elmore (the now ironically named but no relation to Goldie Scott) daughter of Halsey Orton Elmore. Autosomal DNA also ties us more closely to Mr. Elmore at AncestryDNA, probable half second cousin, who is related to Maurice J. Elmore. Standard documentation ties Maurice J. Elmore to Guy Milford Elmore brother of Goldie and the son of Halsey Orton Elmore. Maurice J. Elmore is the most likely candidate for my great grandfather…even though or maybe because he RUNNOFT in 1924. Orvetta Finks was already pregnant when she moved to Cadillac Michigan and met Ray Bishop Thompson.

All the ducks have lined up.

As nice as tying that whole thing together was, it was the Carr family and previously discovered DNA evidence from my Dad at Family Tree DNA that sort of brought it all home.


The Carr Family and DNA Triangulation



Genetic Genealogy the Hard Way


Genetic Genealogy the Hard Way

In Ancestry DNA and the Awful Feeling of Awfulness I found that I had a fairly close genetic relative with Elmore in their username. Since our Y DNA is Elmer and I’ve targeted the Peoria Elmores as our likely family, finding an Elmore was pretty exciting…until the whole “hidden tree” thing came up. That led me to an ongoing series of posts that I’ve wanted to write for a long time about the dark side of genetic genealogy and the conspiracies to conceal information (intentional and unintentional).

It has been said, and I completely agree, that there are only two things you need in genetic genealogy: Where does someone match you on your chromosomes (and who else matches them there) and a match’s family tree. The first thing really requires a tool to compare all your matches on a segment to each other. The second thing requires sharing information, normally from the level of great grandparents on up.

It has been my experience that getting both of those items you need for genetic genealogy is the greater struggle. Finding relatives is the easy part…actually getting the information to work with in the first place is hard.

If you’ve been waiting for me to have the post about not being disappointed, about the stars aligning and the invisible hand of fate and random dumb luck pushing me into the right direction again, then this is that post.


When Life Hands You Lemons…

You crush those lemons and squirt the juice into life’s eyes.

I was just at the edge of calling it on my search for the Elmore connection. My friend Peg and I had run down the Elmore family and we actually could not come up with a good candidate for my great grandfather or good candidates to test. Not everyone in the Elmore family had children. I didn’t have a smoking gun pointing to one man, just a lot of smaller evidence that generally pointed to an entire family. You can see links to the numerous posts researching the connections from my Thompson branch to the Elmers and Elmores on the Elmore page.

I felt good about the connection to the family as a whole but I couldn’t get past the missing information from my great grandfather or make sense of half of our genetic relatives at various companies.

Looking at Things from a Different Perspective

As I often do, I switched gears back to working on my aunt who has a similar issue, but closer in time as she is not related to my grandfather.

A few things sort of came together when I made my trip out to AncestryDNA to “check the traps” for my aunt. First, it turned out my first cousin (a paternal cousin who is my only Thompson Y match) had decided to purchase an AncestryDNA test. So there he was as a 1st cousin match for my aunt. Because she is a half sibling of our fathers, she appears as a first cousin instead of her proper placement as our aunt. So she appears one generation more removed because she is a half sibling and she shares half the DNA of a normal match in her position.


The second thing is that the revelation of my first cousin appearing in the match list for my aunt, made me switch directly to my AncestryDNA account and check on my Elmore match there. In the past Mr. Elmore and I had no shared matches and although he didn’t match with any of my mother’s family at AncestryDNA, I couldn’t definitely say he was related to my dad.

The only match Mr. Elmore shared with me was my paternal first cousin’s new test. So now I could say he’s definitely related to my dad.


The third thing I noticed was that several more relatives (3rd cousins) related to my dad’s mother had also decided to converge on ancestryDNA so I could say that, to the best of my ability at Ancestry, I could not find a match with my grandmother for Mr Elmore.

There is still the awful matter of the hidden tree and refused or ignored contacts.

Using other Features of AncestryDNA

Doing a bit of time travel here, I had in the past learned a few things about searching AncestryDNA matches. One is that if you search for surnames or locations, even hidden matches will appear in the search results. Much like searching family trees will produce private trees as well as public trees. So I searched my matches for “Elmore” and “Peoria, Illinois”.

elmore and peoria search brings up biggest elmore match

At that point, I began searching for all the secondary names of the Peoria Elmores I knew from my research. All the wives and second wives..etc. I came back with lists of other matches who shared those surnames but none were Mr. Elmore. With just 60 people in his tree I had to assume that most of the people listed were private and recent. There is obviously an Elmore from Peoria, but not any of the secondary families I know of.

So I went out to a website that listed the 1000 most popular names in the United States and searched for each of those and marked down which ones would produce Mr. Elmore’s tree. It took several days. Separately I searched for all 50 states to see which States would produce his tree. Then I combined my two hit lists and searched for each found name with each found state. Although I thought myself very clever, this was not helpful at all.

I now had a random list of surnames and matching states with a 1 in 60 chance of figuring out which one might go with an Elmore…or not depending on how many of those 60 people are living, I may never find a matching spouse. Anyway, I filed that information away and moved on to other things.

One question I had, with my first cousin’s results in hand was “Why doesn’t my Elmore ringer (The descendant of Halsey Orton Elmore who I asked to test) show as a shared match with my cousin?”

Since we shared results, I decided to view things from his perspective to see what he sees. It turns out that not all shared matches show up as shared matches from every perspective. When I “became” him and looked for my Elmore ringer…she was very definitely among his matches. Even more amazing, from his perspective I was showing as a shared match with her even though he was not a showing as a shared match with her for me.

elmore relative shared match

I don’t know if that is because it takes some time to synchronize these things or what, but it made me think that if you notice someone missing who you think should be a shared match, it’s a good idea to ask them what they see. It may be different than your shared match list. That was more a point of curiosity since I know that my Elmore ringer is genetically related to my dad and that my dad and his brother share both of the same parents. Still nice to see things in order though!

Putting Things Together

This may be obvious…or maybe it should have been obvious, but it really did require some time for me to put together. I expect that my grandfather’s father is an Elmore. That means if he has any siblings, they will be half siblings. Like my aunt and my father, with my aunt showing as a cousin. That means that my second cousin on his father’s side would look like a third cousin. Mr. Elmore, my “third cousin”, knows who my great grandfather is, because we share the same great grandfather. He’s really my second “half” cousin.

For an idea of the ranges of DNA shared. Here is my second cousin one time removed related to my paternal grandmother. We share two of my second great grandparents (her great grandparents):

chris 3rd cousin 136cM

Here is my shared DNA with a second cousin two times removed. We share two of my third Great grandparents (his great grandparents):

phillip shared 85cM

Here is what I share with Mr. Elmore my suspected half second cousin sharing only one great grandparent:

112 cm shared with mr elmore

I don’t want to draw way too many conclusions from this but you’d have to imagine that a full second cousin sharing two great grandparents would be a larger match. This match is more like my second cousin one time removed…where one generation is missing, or like my aunt who shows as a cousin, one half of a mated pair.

As that idea gathered strength, that this person knows who my great grandfather is and that he’s a living person in the 21st century, I decided to go hunting again and googled his username.

Following the Digital Trail

Okay. Here is the thing. Every discovery I make about my genetic relative is against his will. He does not want to share information with anyone, especially someone like me. I think that, since some of these are my relatives too, I deserve to know the basic summary information about them.  I have to try to respect his anonymity, but I cannot respect his wish to keep me in the dark (assuming he made a conscious choice, which may not be the case). From this point out, what he and his family chooses to share with the public is fair game for me to use as a stepping stone.

Enter Google. I reuse login and account names all the time so maybe this guy does too. I had searched in the past with little luck, but “try, try again”. This time when I searched I found something.  A Pinterest account with the same user name and some generic interests. Nicely the Pinterest account was connected to a facebook account with an open friends list. Great. People are often friends with family members. I’ve used facebook friends lists in the past to get my bearings on a family and try to figure out where they lead. I’m not interested in them specifically, (no tearful reunions here…I’m not really game for all that) but I need to figure out some clues that will get me back far enough to search Ancestry again. Basically, I’m always looking for ways to get back to at least 1940. So I looked for the oldest Elmores I could find in the friends list. A few men appeared to be in “father” range for Mr Elmore on facebook (guessing by his picture) and had ties to Peoria Illinois (now we’re getting somewhere). I focused my attention on them.

This is where facebook stalking gets a bit dark.

On several of the public profiles I learned about a death. Sadly, that person’s death is my lifeline to my family. I saw a picture of the person who died, but not their name. It’s sort of gruesome following recent obituaries, but obituaries are great sources of information. Not always correct, but close enough usually to get you somewhere. So I searched for obituaries for someone named “Elmore” who died within a day of the facebook condolences and found a public obituary with a picture matching the pictures on facebook.

That obituary led me to another death a few years before and again another public obit that then validated what I had seen on facebook of the “father” level Elmore men, listing them by name. This final public obituary belonged to a man who is probably my grandfather’s half brother. He outlived my grandfather by a few years, and I’m sure had no idea we even exist.

His obituary also had a picture that matched pictures from facebook and led me to his parents, both from the early 1900s…which is really the information I needed in the first place.

I had names. Maurice and Goldie Elmore. I returned to and searched for them in the 1940 census. I found them in Chicago, which gave me approximate birth dates. From there I turned to search ancestry family trees and found only two, both of them private. When I clicked on the first one in the list I saw that it belonged to Mr. Elmore. So I had come full circle and now had the person I had been looking for all along. Maurice Elmore born in Peoria Illinois.

maurice elmore ancestry search

Lest Ye be Judged

Think whatever you like about the method, but realize that my match and I could have just shared this summary information and been done with it. I could have moved on from there and helped him find the path back even farther. I didn’t need or want to know this much about the immediate family. It’s all public knowledge, but I guess I feel like I am burdened with it. It’s strange to say, but I’m burdened with unnecessary information that is not helpful to genetic genealogy because we couldn’t simply share the basics with each other and I don’t want to be kept in the dark anymore.

In a sense the hidden tree and lack of communication defeated it’s own purpose, instead of keeping me at arms length, it pulled me in and made me a witness to a family’s public grief. I would have rather been the hero, swinging in to the rescue with hard won genetic genealogy experience and loads of new information, but instead I’m a peeping tom, staring into every window in the neighborhood looking for clues that lead to the cemetery and heartache and suffering.

Instead of basking in the glow of knowledge and laughing at the circumstances that are clearly beyond our control, this interaction became yet another turn down a dark alley of missed opportunities. There will be no warm and happy AncestryDNA success story here.

In the end, dumb luck and random circumstance led me to Maurice Elmore born in 1906. There must have been sunspots or abnormal radiation from space that night that everything fell into place. Trying to retrace my steps just an hour or so later produced a series of speed bumps with issues finding the obituaries again, searches gone awry and facebook friends lists that were somehow no longer open to me. As the magic window that had given me a glimpse of the path seemed to be closing down, I turned to screenshots of open web pages to serve as the record of my findings. Most of the trail, I cannot reproduce here with any definition. As I said, I need try to respect the privacy of my genetic matches and their families. They’re living people after all and I don’t want to cause them any more pain.

I wish I could say that I spent the appropriate amount of time thinking about privacy and right and wrong, but any issues I had with the trail I followed were soon put aside. One burning question replaced it all. Who was this Maurice Elmore from Peoria and why hadn’t I seen him before?


Elmore Dark Matter



AncestryDNA and the Awful Feeling of Awfulness


A Few Ways to Leave the Cage Behind

In Time and the Search for Meaning in DNA, I talked about the issues I see with our understanding of the various time scales a genealogist can run into today. I gave an example of compressing time and forcing the facts to make ancient DNA results fit with my idea of my genealogical family.

In Meaning, Time and the Cages we Make for Ourselves, I wrote about the very human search for meaning in information and events. I spent some time on “Them” and “Us” and I talked a bit about how we integrate what we’ve learned when we find out that “They” are “Us”. I ended with how our biases inadvertently trap and cage us within the context of the family we know, bending time and transforming people to make them part of our meaningful “in group”.

If you’ve read those, you may see that I am pretty forgiving about people’s biases. It’s not that I think these biases are right, but I realize that they are universal. Everyone has them. Unfortunately they can trap us and cause a lot of suffering even when we’re taking part in something that would not seem to be a matter of life and death (like genealogy).

To me, it seems that it is natural or part of our condition to fall into the bias trap.

Getting Out of Our Cage.

You’ve put yourself in the box, now how do you get out?

Realize that you May be in a Cage.

It seems dumb but you know a lot of people (me included) go around thinking they’re free birds and right as rain when we’re really on lock down and just don’t see it.

If you realize that you’re in a cage, then you’ve already made the first move. Realizing that you have biases, wants, needs and ideas of self that have an effect on everything you do, is a huge achievement. I think the starting point is realizing that it’s possible…or even most likely, that you’ve trapped yourself. You’ve come up with some idea you can live with; you’ve backed it up with evidence; now you ask yourself, “have my biases put me in a cell of my own design?”.

Talk to the Person in the Next Cell.

You may be in a cage, but you’re not alone. I am telling you this from experience. It’s much easier to see the cage around someone else than it is to see your own. Somehow, we tend to look through our own bars and feel sorry for that lady across the way who trapped herself.

Take advantage of that. Tell others what you’re thinking and why, and then see what they come back with. The neat thing about talking to the other prisoners is that they will evaluate your idea based on their own biases and experiences. They can give you a new perspective, different arguments and new ideas to work with. They may shine a light on the keyhole to your cage.

I think if I tossed my MTDNA story past a few friends they might have pointed out that I jumped the rails of MTDNA by talking about Catherine Cable’s surname. That would have been a good clue that I had trapped myself.

Be sure to politely return the favor and help them out too.  That is how we all move forward.

Be the Time Traveler You Were Meant to Be.

Now, if you want to completely disappear from your cage, you will need to leave “you” behind and time travel a bit.

People are excellent time travelers. We’re always thinking about the past or planning for possible futures. In the seconds between moments we effortlessly shuffle back and forth in time. Even when we do mundane things like driving or washing dishes, we run through the past, evaluate the present and project where we’ll be down the road.

Know your time frames and jump. So, if you’re considering autosomal DNA (like family finder, AncestryDNA or 23 and me) then feel free to swim in the last 300 years or so. It will likely be a pretty comfortable swim. If you are looking at MTDNA like me, check the time (7000 years ago) and location (maybe Yemen) and then prepare to be amazed.

My MTDNA is most prevalent in places like Egypt and they think it popped up around 5000 BC. I already tried bringing them to me, now I can bring me to them. What did it mean to be a woman in the near east in 5000 BC? What was the world like for them? What languages might they have spoken? What customs did they have. How long did they live?


The Out of Body Experience

All the things I’m working at here are ways to get outside myself that won’t take forty years meditating in a cave or near death to achieve.

Using these mental techniques, I can leave the cage of my notions of myself and explore what it meant to be my “all mother” circa 5000 BC or maybe closer to home, my 3rd great grandfather, or even that guy who got off a boat around 1630. None of them had any idea that I would be part of their future. I can recognize that and learn about them as people rather than as “my people”. Maybe I can take them as they were and not as they relate to me. In that way, maybe I won’t have to put limits on them or on myself.

bird flying out of cage with key

borrowed from HappyLutheran



Meaning, Time and the Cages We Make for Ourselves