DNA Genealogy Explained

This post is incomplete and doesn’t encapsulate everything I intended to write about, but I never got around to finishing it, so this will do for the time being as DNA Genealogy is becoming quite popular…

Well this is my attempt at explaining DNA Genealogy. These days it all makes sense to me but I remember it was a massive learning curve as I got my head around Haplogroups, Segments, Percentages, Genomes etc. I’m still learning new things about it even now and there are definitely a lot more people out there who really delve deep into it, but I will try and explain the basics to help you understand how it works and what you can expect.

There are currently 3 main DNA testing companies out there at the moment, that deal with the genealogy aspect of it. There are more but these 3 are the most well known. Ancestry.com; 23andme.com (autosomal test only) and FamilytreeDNA.com.
All have their pro’s, con’s and various price differences.

 

Most tests involve you spitting into a special tube or taking a cheek swab and sending it off to the company.

A quick lesson in DNA before we get into the nitty-gritty. Males inherit a Y chromosome from their father and a X chromosome from their mother. Females only inherit two X chromosomes from their mother.

All companies offer Y-DNA and mtDNA testing. So Y-DNA refers to the Y chromosome. Because females do not inherit a Y chromosome, only males can do this test which explores the direct paternal line. So if you are female you will need to get a blood brother, father, paternal or paternal grandfather/uncle/cousin, to offer a saliva sample for this test.

When it comes to exploring genealogy matches resulting from this test, generally speaking, if you find a match with the same surname as you (unless it’s a very common surname) there is a high probability that you share a mutual direct paternal ancestor at some point. If you do not share the same surname then it usually means that either it’s just a coincidence that you are matched OR there’s been a discrepancy along the way in that someone was adopted into the family or a female ancestor diddled with the milkman or historical equivalent. The test cannot confirm who and when so you would have to refer to other matches to triangulate where a discrepancy could have occurred. This can be quite time consuming.
FamilytreeDNA has surname projects on its website that you can join and compare your results with other people of the same surname.
Another thing to note with DNA is that it mutates over time. Some genes mutate at a faster rate than others so you will often find that surname pockets around the world will have similar mutations in the faster mutating genes.
Y-DNA tests come in different degrees of accuracy. The most basic is a 12 marker test, these 12 markers usually take a very long time to mutate. There are then 37, 67 and 111 marker tests. The higher the number the more marker results and the more you can match with others resulting in higher accuracy.

I personally wouldn’t bother with just the 12 marker test as any matches could be anywhere within approximately the past 30 generations (that’s nearly 1000 years). At least the 37 brings you to within 8 generations (still hard to trace), 67 around 6 generations (difficult but doable and 111 within a much easier 4 generations. If you can afford it and are conducting the test to help with genealogical roadblocks within the past 300 years then you’d want the 111 marker test.

When receiving the Y-DNA results you’ll get the amount of markers you bought, say 111. Each marker is called a STR: Short Tandem Repeat. Each marker is given a name, such as DYS393. Each marker has a numerical value, for example as 12. It’s these numbers that you use against each marker to determine your matches. The more that match, the more likely you have a shared ancestor. Faster mutating markers may show a 1 or 2 digit difference to your own results. Depending on the marker you can figure out how this affects the match’s accuracy. For example if on one particular marker, DYS393 you have 12 but a match has exactly the same in every other marker but 13 for DYS393 then that particular marker has only mutated once. If it’s 14, it’s mutated twice. This can also go the other way with 11, 10 etc. The higher the difference in the number, the more times it has mutated and as such, more generations would have passed. Websites are around showing the estimated rate of mutation for each marker. Some are likely to mutate every 4 generations, others may go through 20 generations before mutating.

 

But before you head into checking out your ancestral matches, you’ll probably see your Haplotype group. If you’re male you’ll have a paternal haplotype and a maternal one. This is inherited directly down each line. Females however will only have a maternal haplogroup as they do not receive the fathers Y chromosome.
So what is a Haplogroup? Well this refers to your ancient point of origin (prior to seal travel and colonization but also includes thousands of years ago.
When humans started migrating out of Africa they split off into groups as they wandered the earth and produced pockets of population resulting in everyone getting similar DNA sequences on the markers that rarely mutate.
The Haplogroups for Y-DNA  are given a letter from A-T. The A’s and B’s are most likely to be of recent African descent, originating from populations who never left the continent. C’s are most likely to be of Asian, North American or Oceanic descent. F includes parts of Asia, Europe and South America and so on and so on.

Each Haplogroup then splits off into subclades of a more refined population group. Some can even be quite specific with R1b1c7 belonging to a 5th Century Irish King who fathered so many children that now around 90% of men in some pockets of north-west Ireland and Scotland have this same haplogroup and as such can trace this King as their ancestor.

 

 

 

 

 

Fremantle Memoirs – Growing Up In Freo

Sally’s Memoirs
 Sarah Agnes (Sally) Hundt (nee Mocken)
 provided by her daughter Robyn
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Sally with her mother Florence Mocken                                               (nee Wheatley)

I was born on a bright summer’s morning according to my mother’s autograph book, July 19th, 1921. Ten pounds in weight and named Sarah Agnes. According to Mum she told Dad to name me Hazel Rosemary but Dad, who till the day he died I’d never seen affected by liquor, got drunk with his shipmates on the way to the birth registry, couldn’t remember Mum’s names so named me after his eldest sister and his mother. I was always and still to this day, called Sally.

My Grandmother lived on the corner of Nairn & Market Street and we lived in a cottage on Collie Street, no. 22, now an estate agency.
In those days, 1921-1941, all around Collie, Nairn, Essex and Marine Marade, there was a polygot of nationalities, Italians, Yugoslavs, Portuguese, Germans, English, no Asians – white Australian policy was enforced then I believe. There was a Japanese laundry in Bannister Street and two Chinese fruit & vegetable shops in South Terrace though.

An Italian family, named Vinci, lived in 20 Collie Street and when they moved the Gumina’s came to live there. In 23, a Greek family named Anastas lived, in 26, another Italian family, the Rottendellas – red headed or as the Italians say titian headed. No. 26 is now a restaurant.

Next door to my Gran in Market Street was a wonderful Italian lady, Mamma Migliore. Mamma had seven sons and always yearned for a daughter. When she eventually had a daughter after 17 years the daughter was stillborn and Mamma died. Tony, one of her sons, was a very dear friend of mine till he died a couple of years ago. He was born a month after me and we always kept in touch through the years.

Mamma spoilt me rotten, always when I came down to Gran’s from Boulder, inviting me into dinner where huge servings of spaghetti was put in front of me and much pinching of the cheeks and ‘mia bellos!’ was the order of the day. Read the full post »

Bringing a Bit of Colour to the Past

Hand-coloured or tinted photos have always been around since there have been photographs to colour. Sometimes it’s just a hint of a tint and in the more blatant efforts it looks more like the result of Homer Simpson’s makeup gun set to ‘whore’

It’s hard to forget that the ‘olden days’ were full of colour and many a curious person looking at black and white photos has wondered “What did it really look like!?”

Over the years I’ve become self-taught in a number of computer programs but the one I have the most fun with is Adobe Photoshop. Combined with my interest in genealogy it wasn’t long before I starting figuring out ways to use old and historical photos. I started hand colouring (I figure I can still use the term since my hand is on the mouse!) some old photos in the family albums and was quickly hooked. Sometimes the end result could blow your mind as you flick back and forth from the original image.

Lately I’ve been colouring historical photos that have been popular on the Facebook group Lost Perth,  widely successful in Western Australia where people having been digging up old photos of Perth’s yesteryears and posting them online for everyone to reminisce over.
My favourites are pre-1900 images. The further back the date of the photo, the harder it can be to imagine it in realities hue.

The first hand coloured photo that I posted was an image of the Old Men’s Depot that used to sit on Mounts Bay Road, right on the river. It’s such a beautiful image with all the elderly men relaxing by the foreshore and black swans swimming about.  It’s not the clearest image and quite grainy, not ideal for colouring but it was a favourite that I really wanted to bring to life.

mens depotOld Men's Depot - Mounts Bay Rd, Perth c1900

It was a bit hard to make it resemble reality due to the graininess but I think it turned out alright.

The next photo I chose is one of the oldest landscape photos of Perth and shows the Pensioner Guard Barracks just after they were built in 1865.
This was a popular choice as the Barracks were demolished in the 60′s with only the arch remaining so while the arch is a Perth icon, not many really knew about the Barracks as a whole.

Pensioner Guard Barracks, Perth  c1865

Pensioner Guard Barracks, Perth  c1865

In fact I coloured this photo twice. The first time I only had a cropped version and it wasn’t until I applied to the State Library of Western Australia for a hi-res copy of the original, that I saw all the wonderful things happening on the sides. On the left is a woman holding a baby. Another woman rests on a grassy mound. On the right are two boys tending their sheep, while a girl stands at the gate to her house. Three other children are also playing nearby.

Some commented that they’d love to buy a print so I applied at SLWA for reproduction rights and can now sell these as photo prints or on a canvas in a variety of sizes.

More painted photos to come!

A Tribute To My Grandfather

One of the biggest achievements of my life was being able to tell my 93 year old Grandfather, George Lockett, who his biological father was.

George sadly passed away on 15 June 2013, aged 94 and 1 month, after developing pneumonia. Having survived the infection the previous year, this time his frail body just couldn’t recover.

Since his death, I’ve been filled not with sadness, but with a sense of celebration. I was starting to feel a little guilty about it until I realised that I wasn’t the only one grappling with this conundrum. Of course I will miss him, and I am sad that I won’t see him again, but he had such a great and fulfilling life surrounded by such a loving family that my mind decided to remember the life lived instead of the life lost.
*Although when the Bugler played the Last Post at his funeral, I bawled my eyes out. But who doesn’t cry upon hearing that?!

George didn’t believe in the afterlife, but he always said he hoped to be proven wrong, and in completing a little family deal we have going on regarding its existence, I could actually feel his hand stroking my hair during the moment of reflection in the middle of the service. After a few seconds of contemplating what it was, I understood and smiled.
My Uncle, a firm non-believer later recalled that he got a tap on the shoulder when there was no one around him.
Actually prior to this, he’d been on a plane flying to Perth for the funeral when a woman seated near him lent over and said “You’ve lost someone close to you, but they say they’re ok, they’re happy and they’re in a better place.”
Creepy!

The funeral was mentioned by many to be the best they’ve ever been to. I’d created a media presentation to be played during it and I was a little embarrassed when it received a very loud round of applause. I’m sure anyone outside would have been wondering what on earth was going on in there!

So for posterity, I uploaded it onto YouTube. If you watch it, I hope you enjoy it and make sure to turn the volume on! Makes it much more worthwhile!

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Crown!? – Related to Royalty

Last week I was working on a distant line in my tree that centered around a notable figure, Rowland Taylor. Now Rowland himself is an interesting man. He was born in Suffolk in 1510, growing up under the reign of Henry VIII who separated from Rome forming the Church of England (only so he could divorce his wife and marry another).
Rowland went into the Ministry and became quite a popular pastor who tended the poor and believed in strong family foundations. But when Henry VIII’s successor, son Edward died young, the crown ended up in the hands of Queen Mary who quickly reverted the country back to Catholicism.

Rowland Taylor being burnt                    at the stake, c.1555.

Refusing to convert, Rowland was charged with heresy and sent to prison, later to be sentenced to death by fire at the stake.
He was steadfast till the end, never once considering exile or denouncing Christianity, which would have saved his life. On the day he was led to the stake, even the Sheriff’s wept at the sight of him saying goodbye to his wife and children. In the Commons where his stake was placed, he took off his boots and outer clothes, giving them away to those who needed them. The whole town came out to support him and hear his last words, but nothing could be done to save him as the Queen’s guards soon lit the fire. Fortunately a friend of his used a halberd to strike him on the head as the flames crept up, ensuring a pain free death. Read the full post »

Trove’s Newest Digital Newspaper Additions

Yesterday I decided to check out the latest newspapers that have been added to the Trove website - one of my favourite site’s for researching Australian Family History, to find a massive 54 newspapers have been added, mostly for New South Wales and Victoria but the sole newspaper added for Western Australia is one that I’ve always hoped to search through.

The Herald, which is a still a current day newspaper for Fremantle, is now available on Trove, thanks to the City of Fremantle Library, with editions from 1867-1886 currently available.

After a quick search I found a great article about a Great-Grand Uncle, Luke Tonkin, who allegedly had been involved in an assault on another man.

I was hoping to find something on my GGGreat Grandfather, John Foss Tonkin, but couldn’t find anything substantial, I’m hoping later editions will turn up something for him.

But for now I get to know Uncle Luke a little bit better…

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My Pop, The ANZAC

George Lockett, my Mum’s father, my Pop, was born in 1919 in Edmonton, England being the result of a short lived WWI tryst between his mother Eva-Rose, who was working as a nurse at a British Forces military camp, and an Australian Soldier, John (Jack) Scott. That story in itself is an interesting read!

Eva-Rose’s father made her put George up for adoption and a then childless couple adopted him before  eventually moving to Australia under the Government Group Settlement Scheme.

He enlisted in World War II with the Australian Army in May 1940 and did initial training at Swanbourne Barracks in Perth before being posted to Rottnest Island to dig trenches.
In late 1941 he headed to Darwin to protect Australia from the Japanese who were steadily heading south. George was listed as a Gunner with the 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battery, aka ‘The Ack-Ack‘ who had the job of shooting at the Japanese planes from giant guns positioned in the ground. Read the full post »

Honouring My ANZAC Family

The 25th April is pretty significant in Australia and across the water to our brothers, New Zealand. If you’re not from these parts you may wonder about all this ‘Lest We Forget’ stuff bombarding your social feeds.
Today is ANZAC Day. (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps), ANZAC was initially the name given to any soldier who served under these countries in World War 1, but later encompassed any soldier who fought in any conflict under these nations flags.
The date marks the day that ANZAC forces stormed the beaches of Gallipoli in Turkey, their first major battle in World War 1.
There were over 35,000 ANZACs wounded with over 11,000 of those, killed in action.
Keeping in mind that Australia had only come together as a federation only 14 years earlier, it is said that the country’s true psychological independence and patriotism was achieved through this baptism of fire at Gallipoli.

This post commemorates the Morton brothers; my Great-Grandfather Wilfred and two Great Grand-Uncles. All three enlisted in World War 1, fighting in separate divisions but all in Field Ambulance units. The FA was a highly mobile unit whose role was the rapid collection of the sick and wounded, the rendering of essential first aid treatment to casualties, their preparation and classification for further disposal and completion of documentation. They had no surgical capacity and in many dangerous situations their only main protection was a Red Cross on their arm, donkey or truck.

These are their stories… Read the full post »

Just How Much of Me is Scottish/English/Polish/Italian/Austrian?

It’s one thing to wonder where you got your nose or eyes from and it’s pretty amazing seeing them in 100 year old photos of ancestors, but have you ever wondered where all these body parts originated?
Is my dark hair from the Italian side or is it Black Scotch?
I’ve always wondered where my dark hair and light olive skin came from. At first I thought it was the Italian in me, but my mother has the same colouring’s and from what we knew there was no mediterranean blood on her side.

With the recent discoveries I can confirm this and have come to the conclusion that it must be Black Scotch, but it made me wonder just how much of me is English, Scottish, Italian etc, so I applied a little bit of maths to figure this out in percentages.

Of course with DNA testing, you can only figure out the exact percentage of DNA inherited by testing each generation, but you can still make a good go of it.
You could also take the chromosome route which means males are 50% whatever their direct paternal line is and 50% whatever the direct maternal line is. For females, who only inherit their chromosomes from their mothers, you would be 100% whatever your direct maternal line is. So in that case I’m 100% Polish but my brother is 50% Polish and 50% English (Cornish). Read the full post »

Adoption Mystery Solved after 94 Years!

If you’ve been following my previous blogs, then you’ll know all about my search for my Great Grandfather, so as you may have gathered from the title, I found him!

But for others I’ll recap.

My Grandfather George was born at the end of World War 1 in 1919, being the result of a short lived romance between an English WAAC nurse, named Eva-Rose,  and an Australian soldier.
His mother desperately wanted to keep him but her family soon after, forced her into signing the adoption papers.

George’s new family immigrated to Australia where they eventually settled in Perth. He went on to marry a local girl and have four children of his own.

Having always known he was adopted, it wasn’t until he was in his 60′s that he decided to try and look for his birth mother.

Fortunately his mother’s name and address at the time of his birth were on his birth certificate and so they wrote to a local newspaper in the town, asking if anyone knew her to contact them.

Eva-Rose saw the paper and wrote a letter to him and eventually they were reunited the following year when George and his wife flew to England. It was a very happy occasion and George always seemed to have a spring in his step from that moment on.

But what of his father? Eva-Rose could only give us a name, ‘Jack Scott’ and said that he was in the Australian Army and came from Melbourne.
*Actually, when the story was relayed to me I was only told that he was from somewhere on the East Coast,  let this be a lesson not to trust the memories of older people! (Seriously, this small piece could have saved me 100′s of hours of research!)

Fast forward years and years of trawling army records and collating information in spreadsheets, when I decided to do a DNA test with 23andme.com as they provided a Relative Finder search. I figured this would be my only hope. Read the full post »

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