Saturday, July 27, 2013

FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder Autosomal DNA test - Update July 2013

Clip art from Microsoft Office Clip art. 
Family Tree DNA have announced that they will keep the US$99 sale price for their Family Finder test. Have a look at +CeCe Moore's Your Genetic Genealogist blog and Roberta Estes' DNA Explained blog for the news.

Cousins, can you help?
With this new lower price, I'd like to invite and encourage any of my relatives who may be interested in genealogy, from any branch of my family, to please consider taking the Family Finder test.

As one of my main goals at the moment is to write the history of my Fullerton ancestors, I am particularly interested in asking descendants of my 3 x great grandparents William Fullerton and Mary Dunn to consider taking the Family Finder test to help gather clues to discover if there is any truth in the Fullerton families’ ‘Spanish’ ancestor story. Family Finder results for myself and my Dad appear to suggest we could have some ancestry from somewhere other than the British Isles. To make more sense of these results, I need to ask more Fullerton relatives if they would be willing to take the Family Finder test.

Why ask known cousins to take the Family Finder test? 
FTDNA Chromosome Browser: I can now ‘map’ one side of
 this segment of my uncle’s DNA as having been
 inherited from our 4 x great grandparents from Essex, England.
By comparing the segments of autosomal DNA where a known cousin matches with myself, my Mum, my Dad or my uncle, I can begin to ‘map’ particular segments of our chromosomes to particular ancestors. As an example, my uncle matches with some known fourth cousins. Their common ancestors are my fourth great grandparents from Essex, England. I can now ‘map’ one side of this segment of this chromosome as having been inherited from those ancestors. Anyone who matched on this same segment could be related to me through those ancestors.

The following blog posts give some good examples of how useful it is to test as many known relatives as you are able.
What should you know before you decide to test?
  • Autosomal DNA inheritance is random. The greater the distance of relationship between two people the less chance that they share DNA. The Autosomal Statistics page on the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) Wiki shows the average percentage of DNA shared between relatives. We may share DNA or we may not, it is a matter of chance. As an example, myself and my Mum did not match with known fourth cousins that my uncle matched with. 
  • DNA tests for genealogy are a long term investment. You may not learn anything very useful today or tomorrow, but as the database grows, as more people (including known relatives) are tested in the years to come, the answers to many genealogy questions may appear. The Family Finder test has a once off payment and no ongoing subscription costs, so it is a future genealogy investment.
  • The Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA is for the purposes of genealogy research and is not a DNA test for health. 
  • Each person who takes the Family Finder test has to do so of their own will and sign the consent form so that their contact details can be visible to their matches. Please see Privacy and FTDNA's Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
  • Have a good look at the Family Tree DNA FAQs. Particularly read the FAQs for Using the Test Kit (and DNA Test Kit Instructions), myFTDNA 2.0 User Guide: Family Finder and Understanding Results: Family Finder
Further information about autosomal DNA tests:
Clip art from Microsoft Office Clip art. 
What have I learnt from the Family Finder test so far?
As I mentioned above, I realise that the Family Finder test is a long term genealogy investment and definitely does not provide instant answers to genealogy research problems.

It has been a year now since I previously posted to this blog regarding my experiences with the Family Finder Autosomal DNA test from Family Tree DNA 
Since then two other close relatives (my Mum and an uncle) have also taken the Family Finder test.

Some of the interesting things I have discovered so far are:

  • Among my uncles matches are known relatives, descendants of my 4 x Great Grandparents from Essex, England. 
  • Patterns among matches are definitely appearing. For example, I have identified clusters of matches with whom the common ancestor is very likely to be from Ireland. For example, there is a County Galway cluster among my Dad's matches. Some of the matches who match on this segment have only County Galway surnames and locations listed in their known ancestry. I can estimate (but ofcourse not be 100% sure) that this cluster of matches (who all match each other) are related to my Dad through his Joyce, Guinane and Hogan ancestors. 
  • Admixture tests at Gedmatch suggest that my Mum has distant Finnish ancestry. Indeed, she and my Uncle actually have some distant Finnish matches through Family Finder. I would never know this without genetic genealogy. Fascinating! Now I wonder, which branch of her family did this possible Finnish ancestor come from?
  • My Dad has some interesting distant matches too, including Germans, Swedish and Sicilians. Could these matches have a common ancestor from beyond a genealogical timeframe? Possibly. But it is very interesting nonetheless!
The numbers
As of early July 2013 the total number of Family Finder matches is as follows:
  • Me - 228 (105 in common with Dad, 74 in common with Mum, 42 in common with my Uncle). That doesn't add up, I know. I have a number of matches who match neither Mum nor Dad. This is an interesting phenomenon mentioned in this FAQ on the Family Tree DNA web site. My interpretation? Mum and Dad both have Scots ancestors from adjacent counties in Ulster, as well as Irish ancestors from adjacent counties in Munster, and therefore probably share a common ancestor way back somewhere (as we all do). 
  • Dad - 239 (105 in common with me, 3 in common with Mum, 4 in common with my Uncle) These matches in common with my Mum and Uncle are likely just a coincidence and are probably related to each in different ways. 
  • Mum - 233 (74 in common with me, 93 in common with Uncle, 3 in common with Dad).
  • Uncle - 206 (42 in common with me, 93 in common with Mum, 4 in common with Dad).

Creative Commons License © 2013. Australian Genealogy Journeys by Aillin O'Brien is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Clip art from Microsoft Office Clip art. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

FamilyTreeDNA Y-DNA Test - Update July 2013

In April 2012 I posted Part 1 of my posts regarding my Dad's Y-DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA, this was followed in May 2012 by Part 2

After more than a year, an update on my genetic genealogy journey is definitely due. 

Lesson 1: Don't jump to conclusions as a beginner.
If you read my previous post on this subject (Part 1 and Part 2) you will see that I jumped to a few conclusions, for example:

  • It looked like my Dad's test results confirmed we were not O'Briens. 
  • It looked like my Dad's test results confirmed I wasn't as Irish as I thought I was, or at least it didn't appear that my father's father's father's line stretching back in time was Irish (most of Dad's Y-DNA matches appeared to be of Scottish or Northern English origins). 
However, new matches since 2012 have revealed that my Dad does match with other O'Briens, as well as Breens, with origins in the north of Ireland.

Lesson 2: The genetic genealogy databases grow over time. This is a long-term genealogy investment. 

The following table shows my Dad's Y-DNA match statistics from April/May 2012 compared to July 2013. Since May 2012 I upgraded my Dad's test to the 67 marker test. As you can see, Dad now has two good matches at 66/67 (call this match A) and 63/67 (match B) with similar origins.
Family Tree DNA's 'TiP report' predicts that my Dad has an 82.79% chance of sharing a common ancestor with match A within the last 8 generations and a 97.48% chance within the last 12 generations. Match B has a 41.69% chance of sharing a common ancestor with my Dad in the last 8 generations and a 77.05% chance within the last 12 generations. I already know a paper trail for my O'Brien/Breen line back 6 generations as follows: my Dad, grandfather, great grandfather, 2 x great grandfather Michael O'Brien (c1833-1925), 3 x great grandfather Owen Breen (c1800-1875), 4 x great grandfather Hugh Breen (est 1770s -  est 1820s/1830s). 

Can you help?
If your paternal Y-DNA line has a surname like Breen / O'Brien or similar variations, and your earliest ancestor on that line originated in Ireland in counties Armagh, Louth, Monaghan, Tyrone, Fermanagh and/or surrounding counties, please consider a Y-DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA (and please also comment on this blog post, I'd love to hear from you). The more descendants of these families take tests the more accurate and useful the results will be for all genealogists. Thanks. 

As an extra incentive to encourage new people to take the genetic genealogy journey, Family Tree DNA is having a good sale on all tests right now, until 26 July 2013. I get nothing for advertising this, but I recommend Family Tree DNA based on my experiences as a customer.
Creative Commons License © 2013. Australian Genealogy Journeys by Aillin O'Brien is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Inside History Magazine's top 50 blogs for 2013

Top 50 blogs banner web
Thank you!

I was surprised and honoured to notice Australian Genealogy Journeys among the personal genealogy blogs chosen by +Inside History Magazine with the help of geneablogger +Jill Ball as part of an article published in the recent July-August 2013 issue (issue 17) of Inside History Magazine:

50 genealogy blogs you need to read in 2013!

The top 50 blogs for 2013 were chosen from categories including Institutions, Organisations, Niche topics and societies, Personal genealogists and Professional genealogists. Make sure you take a look at all the other great blogs included in the list of 50. Many of my own favourites are featured, and it is really an honour to have my little blog included in such good company. Thank you again +Inside History Magazine!
Creative Commons License © 2013. Australian Genealogy Journeys by Aillin O'Brien is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Monday, July 1, 2013

Motivation Monday - Goals for July 2013

My goals for June 2013 were:
  1. Correct the text of more articles tagged at Trove. I will aim to correct at least another 500-1000 lines of text during June. (Goals for 2013 Research and 'Giving Back' Goal). Not achieved. I was a little too ambitious with my Trove text correction goals this month. I will have to aim for about 100 lines of text instead. 
  2. Continue extracting data from at least another 20 source documents during June for my Fullerton family history writing project (a continuation of February's Family History Writing Challenge) (Goals for 2013 Writing Goal) Achieved. 
  3. Tag my photographs for at least one year (I will start with 1990) with keywords for names, locations, events etc. Delete any duplicate photographs. (Goals for 2013 Organisation Goal). Achieved. During June I tagged my photograph collections for the years 1989 and 1990. 
  4. Begin my new family history database as a Project in Family Historian 5. (Goals for 2013  Organisation Goal). Not achieved
  5.  Photograph all my Port Phillip Pioneers Group newsletters and my Genealogical Society of Victoria Irish Ancestry Group 'Blarney' newsletters. This will be the beginning of my goal to reduce paper and declutter my magazine collections. (Goals for 2013  Organisation Goal) Achieved. Thank you very much to a reader of this blog who kindly sent me some copies of 'Blarney' she already had in digital form. This was really appreciated. I have also started my digital collection of the Genealogical Society of Victoria journal Ancestor. I have saved PDF copies of issues of Ancestor dating from December 2010 until June 2013...and I didn't have to scan my own copies! If you are a member of the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) log in to the 'Members Area' page at the GSV web site and select the 'Ancestor Journal Search' link. Select the issue of Ancestor you want and you will be taken to a 'page turnable file' of that issue. On the blue navigation bar below the 'page turnable file' click the floppy disk icon ('Save Pages' or in some cases 'Download'). This option allows you to download the whole of your selected issue of Ancestor as a PDF file. 
  6. Post an updated genetic genealogy journey post to this blog. (Goals for 2013 Research and Writing Goal). Not achieved. I will have to do this during July. 
My goals for July 2013 are:

  1. Sorting and Scanning. I'm putting aside most other goals to concentrate on sorting and scanning during July. (Goals for 2013 Organisation Goal). 
  2. Post an updated genetic genealogy journey post to this blog. (Goals for 2013 Research and Writing Goal). 
Creative Commons License  2013. Australian Genealogy Journeys by Aillin O'Brien is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
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