Pencil Stubs Online
Reader Recommends


Armchair Genealogy

By Melinda Cohenour

Everyone loves a mystery, right? DNA Matches Pose Their Own Questions.

Ancestry has advanced their latest "new and improved" wrinkle in presenting DNA Matches: the technology now permits the matches to be divided to reflect the parental source (maternal or paternal) EVEN WHEN PARENTS WERE NOT TESTED.

As previously reported in this column, your author arranged some time ago for Ancestry DNA test kits to be provided to my daughter and to her nephew, my son's firstborn in lieu of testing his father. This was planned as a means of gathering DNA Matches related to my first husband, the father of my children, whose own parentage was a complete mystery to him. John Bradshaw was abandoned at birth to the Miami-Dade Orphanage, later adopted by the woman who claimed to have been his birth mother and who never admitted she was not. The mystery of his parentage bedeviled him all his life. I vowed to do everything possible to solve that mystery.

The interesting aspect to Ancestry's newest attribution of parental sourcing is that not every match falls into one of the two columns, Maternal line or Paternal line. My daughter's Maternal line Matches currently number 30,685 (mind-boggling, right?). Her Paternal line Matches number 39,983.

Some very few (only 3 currently) appear in a Both column: one quite understandably is her nephew. Two more are more mysterious, however. One, a female, actually shows a Common Ancestor BUT the wrinkle here is she apparently descends from a known Maternal line, the GODWIN line. A brief review has not revealed a connection to a Paternal line other than a lone match to a recently discovered half-sister to my daughter (!)

The third match in this Both category is a male and the name is totally unfamiliar and his tree is quite limited (less than 80 folks) and not a single name is the same as any in our tree (?)

Ancestry covers this question in this way:

    Why are some matches related to both parents?
    They could descend from both parents, be distant relatives who have segments matching both sides, or come from a small population (like an island) that both parents belong to.

Logic tells me Ancestry must have programmed an algorithm that compares chromosome segments to Matches known (or now attributed) to Maternal segments AND Paternal segments. A review of the Shared Matches reveals a scattering of Paternal, Maternal, and Unassigned folks.

Melissa has 2,724 Matches in the Unassigned category which is explained by Ancestry as either having been processed after their last update or that they have too little information to categorize as Maternal or Paternal. It is suggested a later update might place these tests in their proper category.

Ancestry has also busted out their Beta version of the Chromosome Painter, which has met with welcome acceptance by subscribers to competing DNA testing venues. I have yet to explore this latest play toy, however, so will refrain from putting forth an opinion.

It is always fascinating to view the latest DNA Matches which are presented with closest relationship to the most distant. The past two months have been devoted to an attempt to ascertain where the Common Ancestor is lurking for three new Close Cousin matches that popped up. A mother, her son, and her daughter all test close to Melissa. Examination of their Shared Matches confirms these three are Johnny's side and the mother must share a fairly recent ancestor with Melissa.

Another mystery brought about by DNA testing.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Refer a friend to this Column

Your Name -
Your Email -
Friend's Name - 
Friends Email - 


Horizontal Navigator



To report problems with this page, email Webmaster

Copyright 2002 AMEA Publications