DNA Testing Multiple Siblings IS Helpful

Recombination is a fancy world for the little bits of DNA from all of your ancestors that make up you.  Because of recombination, brothers and sisters will not have exactly the same amounts of specific-ancestral DNA.  Everyone gets 50% of their DNA from his or her father, and 50% from his or her mother.  BUT that father got 50% of his DNA from his father and 50% from his mother. So, you have 25% from each grandparent.  BUT the grandfather got 50% of his DNA from his father, and 50% from his mother.  So you have 12.5% from each great-grandparent.  And it keeps going back until you see that Grandma’s DNA is really a combination of several of her ancestors, and but it is not in a precise amount.

My mother’s 16 great-great-grandparents (who each mathematically represent 6.25% of her DNA) are the Billingsley-Termin, Brown-Grewell, Morris-Aten, Walker-Ackman, Beghtol-Collins, Fry-Green, Phillips-Billingsley (again), and Montooth-Sloan.  Mom actually has matches on each of these lines.  (Collins is a mystery line, but there are many Collins matches.)

My mother is one of eight children—four brothers, four sisters.  She and two sisters (Aunt Diann and Aunt Gina) have tested at AncestryDNA.  A brother (Uncle Mike) also tested and is awaiting results.  Another brother, Uncle Terry, asked why testing multiple siblings was helpful.  It is because of Recombination.

Mom, Diann and Gina have a lot of common matches—and they should—but they don’t all have the same matches.

These matches are cousins—anywhere from first to distant.  I can connect nearly all the 1st-3rd cousins with family lines.  Fourth cousins get tricky because we are talking about great-great-great-grandparents or farther up the tree as the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).  I know all my mother’s 3x great-grandparents, except one maiden name is unknown, and two grandmothers are speculative.

One of those 3x great-grandmothers is Catharine Bear Fry.  She was born 20 August, 1802 in Virginia.  She died on 26 January, 1882, in Schuyler County, IL.  She married Daniel H. Fry on 20 September, 1822 in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.  We know some of their children were born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, before the family moved to Richland County, Ohio.

By looking at common matches between my mom and her sisters, we see a select group of people with Bear/Baer/Bair as an ancestral surname.  Several follow the Virginia to Huntingdon or Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, migration.  One Bair even ends up in Fulton County, Illinois.  It is likely, based on the DNA and the common matches, that we have found a couple of sisters and a couple of brothers for Catharine Bear Fry.  More work is needed to prove this, and it would be great if we can locate a will or division of a father’s estate that would tie up this loose end.  Still, I have not been able to find anything on the Bear family with traditional means; only DNA has chipped away at this brick wall.

Mom and her sisters all match usernames AKnous and Peg1435.  A first cousin also matches one of these.  These matches are confirmed cousins from the Brown-Grewell line of our ancestry.  The research on the Brown family was originally compiled by Clayton Brown of Vermont, Illinois.  He was deceased before I started doing research, but his brother let me borrow his book of research about 30 years ago.  About 20 years ago, with records that became easily accessible online, I figured out there was a major mistake.  Mr. Brown had traced our ancestor George Brown to parents James and Mary McCullough Brown of Washington Co, PA.  George was b. 1781.  Additional research revealed that Mary McCullough was born after George—so, she could not have been his mother.  According to Clayton Brown, George had a first wife and four sons (George who died in 1897 in Hannibal, MO; James who died in 1860 Morning Sun, Iowa; Turner; and one unknown).  Then George married Nancy Lamb and had several more children including, Jackson Lamb Brown, our ancestor.  I thought perhaps the story of the first wife and four sons was another mistake.

I looked at my mother’s DNA matches specifically for Brown family matches.  Besides AKnous and Peg 1435, racook and russ_cook also show up.  I can tell that all of the Cooks and Mrs. Knous come from Savilla Brown Cook, sister to Rachel Brown Billingsley.  Peg1435 descends from George W. Brown, a brother.   Aunt Gina shows the same matches, although at different levels of relatedness.  There were other matches in common, but some had no family tree attached (Why do this if you are not going to share a little bit?) and a couple had no obvious connection—yet!

Finally, I looked at Aunt Diann’s matches.  She showed most of the same matches, but then one popped up that did not show up on the other two.  This match is username KathyG59.  Looking at her family tree, she is descended from a James K. Brown who died in 1860 in Morning Sun, Iowa.  Wait!  Did that jog your memory—it did mine!  This match’s ancestor is one of the sons of George Brown by the unknown first wife.  So, the story about the first wife must be true!

I went back to look for additional matches, and found that there was one more match descended from James K. Brown.  All three sisters have this match, but I would not have been able to find out without the clue from Aunt Diann’s kit.

So testing multiple siblings is helpful.  It helps to catch that extra cousin that just might have the link to your next generation.  In the case of the Browns, I will be able to give the James K. Brown descendants the name of their great-great-great-grandfather.  Then, working together, we might be able to determine if any other Brown matches are from this line of our ancestry.

Thank you to all who have participated or are participating in DNA genealogy.  Your help is greatly appreciated.

PS:  Just this morning, I received a reply from KathyG59.  So someone is going to learn the name of their great-great-great-grandfather today! DMN

Genealogical New Year’s Resolutions

This list of Resolutions is similar to last year’s, and the year before that…and five years ago.  It’s not that I don’t accomplish my goals, but some goals take a while to achieve.  There is a list of genealogy mysteries I want to solve at the end of this article.  Some of these (No. 7, 11) are brand new goals; some of these(No. 12, 16) have been on my list for over 20 years.  What does that mean?  Some goals take time…a lot of time.

Number 1—Get my certification or accreditation as a professional genealogist.  (It would be about time.)

Number 2—Publish (maybe self-publish) my book on Schuyler County (IL) people who served time at   Joliet penitentiary.  (I’ve been close to ready for three years.)

Number 3—Switch to a new genealogy software.  I have always used Family Tree Maker.  It was bought               out by Ancestry.com, and now they are not going to support it.  Hmmm.  (I have a love-hate    with Ancestry.com!)

Number 4—BLOG more regularly.  I’m shooting for twice a month.

Number 5—Publish more articles in genealogical newsletters, journals, and magazines.

Number 6—BUST through genealogy brick walls.  (A brick wall is an ancestor whose parents cannot be found.)


In the last two years, two major breakthroughs on my family tree happened.  Finding the parents of Asahel Phillips was a 50+ year mystery passed down to me by previous researchers.  DNA made that breakthrough possible.  Finding the father of Edward Page Morris took old-fashioned, hand-cranking microfilm research by a great genealogist and cousin, Denise Hardnack.  That name had been lost to us since 1831—184 years.

These are my genealogy brick walls that I intend to work on this coming year.  There is no particular order.

1) What is my Dad’s true ancestry—We are not Nortons, but we have not Y-DNA matched ANY other family.

2)  Publish my Cornett work—I have not proven my Lusinda Cornett Gay’s parentage, but I have definitely proven other details on the Cornett family.

3) Daniel McAtee’s ancestry—Dad’s DNA matches are directing me towards a certain branch of the McAtees, and maybe a rewrite of some of the currently believe lineage.

4) Nancy Russell Gott’s parents and her relationship to Uncle Fielding Lewis.

5) Elizabeth Collins Beghtol’s parents.

6) Nancy Beghtol’s maiden name.

7) Re-Do Gott genealogy per new insight from DNA.

8)  The Browns—The original research by Clayton Brown of Vermont, IL, was wrong.  These Browns were in Fulton Co, IL, and had come from Harrison Co, OH.  We have several DNA matches.

9)  Fry-Harker-Bear—Several DNA matches have Harker and Bear ancestry.

10)  Shaver-Locke—Nathaniel Shaver married Mary Polly Locke.  Martin Coons married Mary Locke, daughter of Rebecca.  Somehow the two Lockes are related.

11) The maiden names of Esther Philips and Rhoda Philips.  These are new names on the family tree—maiden names unknown.

12) Montooth-Dean-Sloan—Irish connections.  The Montooths and Deans came from Killybeggs, Donegal, Ireland.  Also, the Boyds, Cassidys and McNeelys.  They seem to be related to other Pitssburgh PA Montooths, but how?  James Sloan was from Belfast, but his parentage is a mystery.

13)  Elizabeth, wife of Daniel Garrard.  Some say she was a Washington from THE Washington family.

14) Mewshaw nationality and DNA.  Moonshaw, Mewchance and Mushaw are alternate spellings, but where did such a strange name come from?

15) Dixon—My mtDNA line.  Two Dixon sisters married two Woods brothers in Blount or Knox Co, TN.

16) Mary Polly Duval Miles’s parents—She has to be connected to the Duvals of Culpepper Co, VA.

17) Isaac Shirley’s parents—DNA matches might help solve this one.

18) John & Susannah Baker Termin’s ancestries.  Married in York Co, PA.

19) Henry Rupert—prove he is Peter’s father

20) Andrew White’s wife.  Probably died in Harrison Co, KY.

There are more!   Obviously, I cannot get to all of these in a year.  Sometimes, by accident, a clue pops up, and record surfaces, or a someone’s DNA matches and new light is shed on these dark, dusty questions.

I will share details about my brick walls in future blogs.  Maybe, I’ll share a BREAKTHROUGH!

(PS:  In the last week, I have struck up a conversation online about my Cameron/Cambron line.  I saw something on a record in my files I had never caught before–over 10 years I  have had that record.  Also, with more years of research under my belt, I am reading the same deed and getting a different interpretation from it.  DNA shows that my Camerons are probably related to the Charles Co, MD family, but I might be looking up the wrong branch.  Brick wall still stands.  1/17/2016)