Sunday, April 8, 2018

Delving Deeply Into DNA

Perhaps it's high time I got frustrated over not confirming more than a handful of my umpteen thousand DNA matches. I mean, look at this: I have over one thousand matchesfourth cousin and closerat AncestryDNA. They won't even count the number anymore. Just "1000+."

That's not all. I have 2,946 at Family Tree DNA. Besides 4,072 at MyHeritage. We won't even go into how I'm losing matches at 23andMe and still managing to stay above the thousand mark for matches there.

Who are all these people?!

Oh, yeah: and I have 532 to work on at Ancestry for my husband. Plus a measly 1,879 at FTDNA, a mere 2,859 at MyHeritage and an irksome 1,078 at 23andMe (the only place where he bests me on DNA matches).

I had heard about DNA Painter, the chromosome mapping tool sweeping the grand prize at this year's RootsTech DNA Innovation Contest. Created by London web developer Jonny Perl, it was a beta app which he revealed he had "launched by mistake." Users didn't think so; the visual display simplifies identifying which matches align with which family lines, streamlining the hunt and peck method of searching for identical surnames in enormous pedigree charts.

Once all the hype about RootsTech itself had subsided, more details began to emerge about DNA Painter. Roberta Estes began a helpfuland thoroughblog series on using DNA Painter. Part One was all I needed, and I leaped for the chance to add my name to the long list of beta testers. I started "painting" this week, adding the details for the few DNA matches I've already confirmed. Soon, I'll have a colorful patchwork framework of my own genetic materialand a separate one for my husband's familyupon which to hang those aggravatingly enigmatic matches which have, heretofore, stubbornly resisted identification.

Hah! Take that, mystery matches!

Meanwhile, I'm still plugging away at my quixotic quest to document all the descendants on all my ancestors' pedigrees. At least to the level of seventh cousin, I'm tracing all my colonial ancestors' families. And yes, I have a long way to go. But at least I can say, in the past two weeks, I've added 124 additional relatives to my mother's tree and 164 to my mother-in-law's tree. Even though I've only added one each to my father's tree and my father-in-law's tree, that still leaves me with 12,731 in my mother's tree, 14,639 in my mother-in-law's tree, 500 in my dad's tree, and 1424 in my father-in-law's tree.

One way or another, I'm finding ways to discover just how those thousands of people whose DNA somehow aligns with mine are actually connected. And in the meantime, I get to paint everything in brilliant colors. Not bad for a research perk.


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