It’s Another First Cousin

By Don Taylor

Nasi & DonOne of the benefits of using Ancestry DNA for Genetic Testing is their vast database.  Because there are so many people in their system, you are much more likely to have a DNA match. Sure enough, it happened again. This time, a previously unknown person, Debra contacted me via Ancestry Messages with the simple message, “My DNA results says that you are my 1st cousin.”

Oh my, here we go again.

I clicked on View the Match, then clicked on the little “Info icon” to see how much DNA we shared. Debra and I share 621 centimorgans across 25 segments. According to the chart I use, that amount of shared DNA put us in an overlapping range of first cousin and first cousin one removed. I then clicked on “Shared Matches” and saw that she also matched with my Roberts half-siblings. Because I can view my half-sister’s matches, I looked at her results and saw that she and Debra share 893 centimorgans of DNA across 37 segments. Solidly in the first cousin range. For sure, Debra is a first cousin and now I knew that we share a common grandparent on my paternal side.

My grandparents, Bert Allen Roberts and Essie Pansy Barnes, had five children. The amount of DNA shared was not enough for Debra to be my half-sibling, so that ruled out my biological father, Hugh Eugene Roberts, from being involved. In subsequent messages, she indicated she knew who her mother was, so that eliminated Pansy and Helen, leaving only two potential sources for her to be a first cousin – Uncle Bert and Uncle John. Between the two, Uncle Bert was, by far, the likely candidate.

Bert Allen Roberts, Jr. and two unknown women, c. 1947. photo by Marion Katherine Reynolds copy

Bert Allen Roberts, Jr. and two unknown women, c. 1947.

Then, Debra let us know that her mother told her that her father’s name was Bert, but never said his last name. Debra also sent a photo of Bert, her supposed father, from the late 1940s. My half-brother Tom knew Bert and was able to identify Uncle Bert from the picture.  Mystery solved!

So, welcome cousin Debra Edwards to the growing Roberts clan. I am so pleased you were able to identify who your father is after so many years.

So far, DNA test results have led to my learning about:

  • My father and five paternal half siblings.
  • A maternal half-aunt.
  • A half-sister for my wife.
  • Several 3rd and 4th cousins.

And now, a new Roberts first cousin. Wow!

Note: I wish Family Tree Maker had a better way to indicate offspring producing relationships.  Creating a “spouse” and then set the relationship set to “Friend” or set to “Other” is cumbersome at best but doesn’t describe the relationship. Sigh….

[This post is a duplicate post originally posted to Don Taylor Genealogy.]


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January DIG Meeting Notes

Meeting started at 10:05, 27 People present
10:05 Welcome, Asked if someone is new today
Pam- has done some tests and been successful.
Nancy Mears-From Litchfield, Won some work from Brian Bouchard and is hooked
Robert -Has worked with Nancy on genealogy research project
Lisa-doing genealogy since 2000.  Daughter is doing her DNA
Lorraine did a short financial report-$99 on hand after purchase of videos.
Nancy October 2016 International Genetic Genealogy Conference in San Diego purchased all 19 presentation videos. They will be used in future meetings.
10:10 David Farnham-Cousin Meeting on Ancestry
Shared his experience so you don’t make the same mistakes he did.
The science is rock solid but the way it is interpreted is based statistics and algorithms.  Predictions can be wrong.  It is at best an informed guess.
His wife Sue’s family had “daughtered” out.  She has a cousin “Fred” but before you do a Y test it might make sense to also do an autosomal test first.   Found out that Fred shared NO DNA with Sue or her sister according to that test result.
Decided to get a second opinion-so looked at Gen-Match at the actual results with their tools.  Could not make the transfer to Family Tree DNA because they are not accepting from the NEW Ancestry tests.
Downloaded raw data and then uploaded results to GenMatch.  GedMatch has a fairly small database but lots of cool tools.  They were able to show that they had a common ancestor within 4 generations. (see: )
82 centimorgans and 4 segments was what was shown when combining the  two sister’s matches with Fred.  Ancestry even has fine print that says “we are going to miss 2% of your third cousins”  ISSOGG has charts that show what the accepted match requirements.
Don’t assume a False Paternity Event if a 3rd cousin doesn’t match-dig deeper.
Nancy reviewed some of the titles of the videos we have access to.
10:30 Member Sharing and Q&A
Three members shared stories.
Meetings?News/Web sites/You Tube
Curtis Intermediate Program
South Portland Monthly group
Research Hints/Resources/Brick Wall Facebook is a good place to connect with specific groups
DNA Detective Autosomal Statistics Chart  is our website and there are resources there
10:45 Break
11:00  Video and discussion
Ancestry Discoveries with 23&Me   Robin Smith Managing Scientist in Products  23 &Me Lecture 104
23 &Me- “Ancestry” only service-DNA results, Ancestry Reports and Raw Data  are the three main reports.  Also shows Neanderthal percentage.  The Medical DNA is an additional service at an additional cost.
Under the hood-
  • Genome-almost the same in all of us.
  • ACTG packaged in 23 chromosomes where  1 is the longest , 22 is the shortest.
  • The sex chromosome is 23 is only two pieces-either XX or XY.
  •  X-Mitachondria, Y is for Men only,
  • Cells have DNA in its nuclues,
  • DNA has 23 chromosomes
  • Mitochondria is floating around.
  • Sperm does not have mitochondria, they only have Y’s offer
Mitosis-1 cell divides into 4 cells and each cell only has 1 copy of the the chromosomes so this is the recombination phase.
Genes are important because they make protein-the protein is the thing that determines what cells do or become
Genotyping vs Sequencing
Genotyping look at specific markers
Sequencing looks at a chunk of DNA and identifies the pieces.
Look at Autosomal, Mitochondrial and sex chromosones
Admixture is something that happens when two populations come together and how that combination recombines over generations
How their ancestry composition works:
It takes specific parts of the genome and compares it to known genomes of specific populations
The bigger the segment the more recent the mixture.  A lot of small segments shows ancient mixing.   see:  Joanna Mountain paper on the DNA of the US and Science Magazine article 
Haplogroups–  Y and M DNA.  The sex chromosomes do not recombine.
Both are passed on as it is with mutations as the only changes.
Mutations happens, populations split, more mutations, more splits so a migration map is able to be developed.
mtDNA determines the M Haplograph which follows the female line
Y-DNA determines the male/Y Haplogroup which follows the paternal line.  R is the most common in the US
DNA Relatives-You have 64 Great Great Grandparents but 4700 fourth cousins is not unusual.
Identity by Descent segment.  They are looking for opposite homozygots  on the same chromosone because then they are half identical in the middle
3200 mega bases in a genonome
Centimorgans- are  a measurement.  A centimorgan is about equal to a mega base.
Degrees of Cousin-ship.   If you have 64000 cousins at 8 generations they can only identify with certainty about 1400 of them
Privacy Issues:
Unexpected Relatives
3rd party sharing
Basic Sharing
Open Sharing
Anatomy of a match
Identity, Genetic sex, Whether it is a parent, what that match shares, download genetic data.  Chromosome browser is how you look at the raw data
What can you learn?  on line
The Future:
Research is ongoing.
Engage more customers
Publish new studies and produce new products
Medical and Scientific applications
Crowd-source data
11:50-Meeting ended and we put chairs away
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Dec. 10, 2016 Genealogy DIG Meeting

Meeting started at 10:10 20 people present
10:10 Welcome, Reports and Introductions:
No new people today
Loraine Reported on Money  Nancy sold 5 kits/$20  $145.15 on hand.
Shipping charge for FTDNa kits at meetings is $4, if purchased online is $12.95
Genetic Genealogy in Practice  Blaine Bettinger-Being Donated today to Gray Library
Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffiths–being Donated today to Gray Library.
The Library has 4 books from our group now and two are already on loan-they have a waiting list! (Guide to DNA Testing & Genetic Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy)
Nancy gave an overview of the FTDNA Conference in Houston:
  • Bill Griffiths story is similar to Nancy’s but he has a different take on it. His cousin is the one who discovered the non-paternal event.
  • Nancy showed some short 1-2 minute videos she took at the conference.
  • FTDNA is using a new swab and the yield will be the same but the processing should be 3 times faster.
  • They will definitely start accepting from Ancestry and 23 & Me again in the future.
  • Roberta Estes (has a blog)  Great Blogger.  Spoke about Bennet-Gene by Gene limited is privately held and presented them a DNA quilt
  • Ancient Origins is now at FTDNA and it compares your autosomal to DNA found at archaeological digs
Nancy has a new case she is working on:
Margaret maternal grandparents had 7 children
Rumor was that Margaret’s father was actually a boarder at her parents home.  There is a boarder in the home in the 1930 census. Margaret was born in 1927.
Nancy shared a post from Brenna Henn’s blog- the number of matches is exponential  1 family 3 kids-190 Third cousins, 940 Fourth cousins, and 4,700 fifth cousins.
Conference slides are at
Question about the X chromosone.  You share your X exactly with your sisters.  The X will change only half as often as the other chromosomes.
Morris Gleason is the Irish DNA expert.  There is a conference every year.
You can always get Ancestry for $79 vs $99 using a link that Nancy has-Nancy will send you the link if you ask
Great first year!  Thoughts, Suggestions for next year.
10:45- Member Sharing and Q&A
Curtis Library Classes on Thursdays in February
Nancy is doing something Similar in South Portland once a month starting in February
Anyone waiting for results:
Someone had a test where there was not enough DNA and they got a new kit.
Break at 11:00 for 15 minutes
Teaching/Learning Together
Basics, Companies, Tests, Results and Matches
Facebook list: Don Taylor brought in
If you are questioning the “Y” test go to the administrator they are there to help.
What about next year??
Would like more detail about how to use the tools. Maybe hire a speaker.
Would like to see the triangulation presentation
Repeats of some programs
Gedmatch presentation
Do a canned program and have Q & A  throughtout
Some small groups-a beginner group each week
Nancy is working on a case where the tester is not related to her brother.   One or the other is adopted and now Nancy had to tell her this. Now she has to tell her brother.
There are lots of family secrets that have dark backgrounds.
Meeting ended with discussion about why people do or do not want to do DNA tests.
Gerry Gower is part of the Whitlock and the Gower projects.  Join projects even if they are on your mom’s side.  Join the Maine Genealogical projects.
11:45-Regroup and put chairs away  Meeting ended at 11:50
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Maine Genea DIG-Meeting Minutes: 10 Sept, 2016

Maine Genealogical DIG Sept. 10 Meeting began at 10:05 at the Gray Public Library
Family Tree DNA Kits now have a $4.00 charge-there are 24 available.
Balance on hand was $180 and Nancy used $88 for the kits
No first time attendees
Couple of events coming up-
Sun. Sept. 11 is the Pejepscott Chapter Meeting at 2:00 in Brunswick
Sat. Sept. 17 the Maine Genealogical Conference in Brewer
Sat. Sept. 24 is the Libby Reunion
Discussion of test on Ancestry when you are not a member
‘Stranger in my Genes’  only Family Tree DNA has its own lab.  Ancestry uses another lab.
The three services are always updating.  Populations for each lab will be different
On Ancestry people test because they already have a tree.  The other services have similar tree options “5th to remote with good confidence” is probably a match.
The trees on Ancestry show 64 great grandparents–plus all the descendants there are 1000’s at the 4th generation. You can’t know everyone
New tests on Ancestry are not compatible anymore with FTDNA
On Ancestry the circles are are not always shown to both people in the circle
A circle means you share DNA with a person or a group
Nancy will be attending the conference in November. (11-13).
How many have a test in progress?  If you have not gotten an email make sure you have put your email in there or else it goes to Nancy.
Anyone get any recent results?
Howe Last Name but no Howe names have shown up in the results
Do you have any Howe matches?   Yes but no paper trail
Generational Distance-It is 1  but it is only 12 markers match on a Y37 test.
They will try and match at the highest part of the test-ie 67  if no matches than they go down to 37 markers, then 25 then 12
Prices- Ancestry is now regular $79 on the Autosomal
I just my results and I need someone to interpret them.  Are there any MtDNA Projects?
The Irish History Center was no help with Paul’s wifes MtDNA result.  They are looking for 3 Generations back via PEI and to Scotland
They have exhausted  the paper trail in PEI
Short Intro around the group and then a break and after that break into three small groups
NEHGS DNA Day on Oct 22 in Worcester
Break-out sessions:9690151-seamless-dna-strands-stock-vector-dna-science-symbol
Nancy will talk about Ancestry
Lester Larabee will do Gedmatch
Wayne Mitchell will do FTDNA
You can walk around and go from group to group
Group Sessions ended at 12:05 and meeting adjourned and room was cleaned up
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Maine Genea DIG – Meeting Minutes: 13 August 2016

Date:   August 13, 2016
Time:  10:00 a.m.
Place:  Gray Library, Gray, Maine

Nancy Mason led the meeting of about 17 attendees, (according to the registration book.)

There were two new people: Ellen Ballou of Bath and Pam Smith from North Yarmouth.

Lorraine Jones reported the following financial activity:

  • June balance of  $146.00
  • Expenditure of $ 20.00 for a book on antiques for the library.
  • July income of $ 33.00
  • Balance now of $ 159.00

We broke up into four groups for tutoring by:

  • Nancy Mason on
  • Wayne Mitchell on Basics of online research
  • Don Taylor on FTDNA
  • Les Larrabee on GEDMATCH

The breakout group activity was very successful and will be offered again next month.

DNA kits will be available from Nancy Mason for $69.00.


  • MGS 40th conference will be held on Sept. 17, 2016; 9:15 to 4:30 at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer; $55.00 for members,- includes lunch.  Judy  Russell will present the Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Genealogy; Robert Parent will speak on Bringing to Life Dead Ancestors.
  • There will be a Family Tree DNA conference November 11, 12, and 13, 2016 in Houston, TX.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00.

Next meeting: September 10, 2016,  same time (10:00!), same place.

Respectfully submitted by Liz Johnson and probably corrected by everyone in the group — feel free!

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Next Meeting

Hello Everyone,

Next meeting is Saturday, August 13th at the Gray Public Library, 10 – 12.  I’ve just returned from 2 weeks in New Brunswick and I’m way behind on email correspondence. Our planned meeting will be breaking into work groups depending on your interests and journey into genetic genealogy. We will also have a group who will making something in the way of promotional materials for DIG at the Maine Genealogical Society Annual Fall Conference.  They will be celebrating their 40th year.  

Please let me know if you are willing to facilitate a group at our meeting. 

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Maine Genea DIG – Meeting Minutes: 9 July 2016

Notes: Maine Genealogical DNA Interest Group Meeting

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Gray Public Library


Nancy Mason called the meeting to order a little after 10 AM; there were between twenty and thirty people in attendance. In thanks for the Library’s giving us the use of their meeting room she presented the Librarian with a book on the role of the basics of DNA in genealogy, and it was gratefully accepted.

Lorraine Johnson reported on the finances of the group. Last month’s contributions were $34, giving a total of $146 in the treasury from which $20 was used to buy the book for the Gray Public Library, leaving a total of $126.

Pursuant to a question from last month’s meeting, Nancy Mason, Peter Smith, and Gerald Gower led a discussion regarding the DIG’s possible relationship with the Maine Genealogical Society. It seems that there are two possible options:

  1. To be incorporated with the Maine Genealogical Society, becoming a formal chapter of that entity. Our group would have to have in it 10 MGS members (which it seems we might well have). This would grant us status as a non-profit organization that could be useful. However, this action would require a fairly simple change to the MGS rules. That discussion and vote could take place at the MGS meeting in September.
  2. To continue as we have been informally under Nancy Mason’s direction.

Discussion of this issue raised questions about other DNA Interest Groups now forming and how they would be affected. MGS has suggested that these groups should be associated with a local MGS sub-chapter. Most of those participating in the discussion felt that we should continue with our informal organization. There was the suggestion that information about newly formed DNA Interest Groups could appear on the Maine Genealogical DNA page.

The meeting continued with Nancy Mason’s presentation on the Maine Genealogical Project on FTDNA. She showed various pages from the website and encouraged people to upload their DNA results to as well as to join projects of interest at FTDNA. Nancy showed us how to navigate the projects at FTDNA. She indicated that FTDNA has changed some of its setup recently and that we will need some time to figure out the new system. She showed us how to find advanced matches and to how to check the Activity Feed. Nancy gave us a brief, fascinating presentation on a recent DNA problem associated with a granddaughter’s DNA information. She had been contacted by a young German woman who was trying to learn the identity of her biological father. Her parents had used a sperm donor for her conception. This sperm donor was likely a member of the American military stationed in Germany. FTDNA showed connections (2nd-4th cousins) to Nancy’s granddaughter as well as the granddaughter’s great grandmother. The young woman in Germany is hoping that Nancy will be able to help her with her research.

Next, Roland Rhodes spoke about a situation he has encountered with his family’s DNA research. He finds almost no connections with other members of the Rhodes family. There is some indication that his great-grandmother may have had a child (from whom he is descended) by someone other than her husband. A member of the group suggested that he check geographical areas for concentrations of family names as a means to shedding light here.

After a break for refreshments, socializing, and networking, there was a discussion of how to proceed with the meetings dedicated to group work sessions. Many feel confused and need a knowledgeable leader to help them progress. It was agreed that the August meeting would be a group work session. A couple of people volunteered to be group leaders. Those participating will need to bring their laptops, Ipads, notebooks, etc.

Nancy answered questions on how to go about downloading DNA results from Ancestry and transferring them to FTDNA as well as to She also demonstrated how to find matches with the Maine Genealogical DNA group.

The final discussion centered on the MGS meeting 17 September 2017 in Bangor. It was felt that our DIG should have a presence there. To that end, a sign or poster and informational sheet need to be prepared. One group at the August meeting will work on this.

Margaret Perkins, Recorder

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