DNAPainter Suggestion When You’ve Got Multiple Known Relationships


DNA analysis is more complicated when there are multiple relationships with your DNA matches and those relationships are close enough to impact the amount of shared DNA with those individuals. I’m not talking about multiple shared connections that aren’t known until the pedigree has been extended ten generations. These are double connections within five and six generations where there are no more recent shared ancestors, but because families married within the “community” double relationships are the norm.

That happens in my maternal families quite a bit. It’s common for me to have a relative on my maternal side who is a second and a third cousin, a third cousin two ways, or a second, third, and fourth cousin. Those relationships are close enough that there can be significant shared DNA. And because of the multiple connections, determining which portions of DNA should be assigned to a specific ancestor of mine can be somewhat difficult.

It’s suggested when using DNAPainter to assign groups to either an ancestral couple or a specific ancestor. That’s a good suggestion. But for my analysis and my own painting, I’ve had to tweak that just a little bit. Instead of using just ancestors as groups in DNA Painter, I’ve also assigned some individuals to other couples–ones who are related to me more than once.  My method has been to assign individuals to either the most common ancestral couple or the “double connection” from whom they descend.

  • Altje (Goldenstein) Schuster descendant–my great-great-grandfather Goldenstein’s sister whose child married a brother of my great-grandfather Ufkes
  • Family of Virgil and Minnie-descendants of my Sartorius 3rd great-grandparents, my Fecht 4th great-grandparents, and my Bruns 4th great-grandparents
  • Gerdes-Ostendorf descendant–a descendant of my Dirks 3rd great-grandparents and my Behrens 4th great-grandparents
  • George and Anna Huls Fecht-my great-great-grandpa Habben’s brother and his wife–my great-great-grandpa Habben’s niece
  • Harm Oltmans Roben (d. 1819)–a direct line ancestor
  • Mimka and Tjode Habben–my great-grandparents
  • John and Noentje Ufkes–my great-great-grandparents
  • Fred and Tena Ufkes–my great-grandparents

It makes for more groups than I really would like to have. But if I don’t, the analysis is made even more difficult and I would be moving people between groups on a constant basis.

I do need to clean up my naming system and be more consistent in how I name these groups. The name of the group needs to be short enough to be displayed on all the various DNAPainter screens and detailed enough that it reminds me of who the matches actually are. That I’m still working on.

Learn more about getting started with DNAPainter in my downloadable webinar.



My Uncle is my Brother-in-Law

Rolf Habben was an uncle of my great-great-grandfather Johann Ufkes.

Rolf Habben was also a brother-in-law of Johann Ufkes.

I was confused.

Rolf Habben was born in 1815 in Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany. He was married twice:

  • in 1840 to Hille Eilts Post (born 1807 in Wiesens-died in Wiesens in 1853).
  • in 1857 to Christena Hinrichs Janssen (Ufkes) (born 1835 Holtroperfeld–died in 1880 in Hancock County, Illinois)
Hille Eilts Post was a sister to Trientje Eilts Post (born 1803 Wiesens–died in Holtroperfeld in 1878). Trientje Eilts Post married Hinrich Janssen (Ufkes). Trientje and Hinrich were the parents of Christena Hinrichs Janssen (Ufkes) and Johann Ufkes (my great-great-grandfather).
So Rolf Habben was the uncle of Johann Ufkes–because Rolf was married to Johann’s aunt Hille. And he was also Johann’s brother-in-law because he was later married to Johann’s sister Christena.
Even after Rolf married Christena Ufkes, Johann and his family continued to refer to Rolf as his Uncle. This is probably because Rolf was Johann’s uncle from the time he was two years old and twenty-three years older than Johann.
Sometimes there’s more than one relationship between individuals. And sometimes what you think is incorrect may not be. Years ago I had a letter translated where Johann refers to Rolf as his uncle. I thought the translation was wrong. It wasn’t-I wasn’t aware of Rolf’s first wife.
Note: All vital events in this post (except for Christina’s date of death) are from: Kroon, Gerd. Die Familien Der Kirchengemeinde Wiesens: (1642-1908). Großefehn, 2004. Print.

What the Index Indexes

For years the main indexes genealogists used were census indexes. We were glad to have them.

In the old days….

Pre-1850 US census indexes were head of household indexes only–for reasons that should be pretty obvious.

Census indexes for 1850 censuses and after usually only included the head of household and anyone within the household with a different last name. That was it, but those were the only indexes we had. Genealogy speakers and writers would remind researchers about the pitfalls of these indexes. Search strategies were constructed accordingly.


There’s full name indexes to census records–a great boon to genealogists. We have access to images of materials from across the planet right at our computer. Often there are indexes to these materials–and with indexes sometimes come problems. This concern isn’t about spelling and transcription errors–althouth those are valid concerns.

There’s another issue with indexes that some sites don’t make clear-especially when one set of records is indexed one way and another set of records on the same website is indexed in a different way.

Some indexes are full name indexes to every name appearing on every page and others are not and only index the names of the principals involved. Full name indexes are difficult to compile.I’m not complaining about the fact that many indexes are not full name indexes. I understand the reasons behind only indexing the names of the main people.

The problem?

Sometimes the website makes the type of indexing clear and sometimes it does not.

Knowing if the index is to every name or only to “main names” impacts how I use the database. It effects how I search. Fold3.com, as an example, has an every name index to Revolutionary War pensions, but the homestead applications only index the applicants. I  understand why not every name is indexed and frankly I’m glad to have the materials to where they can be accessed. I’m not complaining about the decision to index only the main names.

I just wish websites would make their indexing procedure clear. I should not have to ferret out whether the index is every name or not.


DNAPainter Webinar Released

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We will discuss downloading matching data from DNA sites, painting your DNA matches, finding match data, labeling, grouping, overlapping segments, and more as time allows. Our concentration is on getting you started with DNAPainter in a way that will help you make effective use of it as your research progresses. If you’ve wondered what DNAPainter is, how to use, and what it can do for you, this presentation will help you to do that. Ordering the presentation includes the recorded presentation (that can be viewed more than once) and a detailed handout as a PDF file.

You cannot upload your raw data to DNA Painter. You need the segment data that you can get from 23andme, FamilytreeDNA, Gedmatch, and MyHeritage.

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Thinking about that Not-So-Shared Chunk

I’ve been painting my DNA matches in DNAPainter. It’s fun, but it’s not really about the fun.

In looking at shared matches on one of my chromosomes, I was reminded of a key concept that can be easy to forget in our attempts to “figure out as much as we can as fast as we can.”

The bluish match in the illustrated image is a grandson of my great-grandparents (Fred and Tena). The brown match is a grandson of my Fred’s parents. Having larger bluish sections is not a surprise since M-U is more closely related to me than L-U. I just have to be careful in that region of M-U’s shared match that I have circled.

I can’t make any conclusions about the region that I’ve circled–other than that M-U and I share it.

I might be tempted to think that the circled region has to come from  Fred’s wife Tena–since the brown region is from a descendant of Fred’s parents and the brown region does not include what’s been circled. But that circled region that I share with Fred and Tena’s descendant (and not with the descendant of Fred’s parents) could have come from Fred’s parents and not been a segment that was passed on to Fred’s brother who is L-U’s father. I’ll have to wait until there are other matches on this chromosome to potentially determine where that chunk comes from “further back.”



Dead Men Swear in Mercer County

Any item taken from a record out of context has the potential to confuse other researchers or to result in statements that are simply false.

This image from an estate settlement in Mercer County, Illinois, in the 1880s makes the point perfectly well. If the researcher takes just a key phrase out of this record, it may appear that Andrew Trask was alive and well on 19 April 1886 when this record was created or that a dead man was taking an oath.

“Andrew Trask, late of said County, deceased, being duly sworn on his said oath, does depose and say that he has…”


Late does not necessarily mean dead, but deceased usually does. Did the clerk err and neglect to cross out the word “deceased” in the record book?

Dead men do not swear nor do they take oaths, at least not on Earth. The conscientious researcher does not quote a document in such a way that the report is misleading.

This little snippet makes it clear why quoting any document needs to be done with enough context to make the meaning clear.

Andrew Trask had not been sworn in open court on 19 April 1886. He was dead and buried in a Mercer County cemetery at the time. The word “deceased” is correct. Dead mean don’t make oaths. It was the administrator of his estate who was in court on that date. Those words “The undersigned, Administrator of the Estate of” make all the difference as they clearly indicate who was taking the oath.

Estate of Andrew Trask, Mercer County, Illinois, Probate case files, file 1475, box 1490, Affidavit of Publication and Posting of Notice, filed 19 April 1886, Circuit Clerk’s Office, Aledo; digital image, FamilySearch (http//www.familysearch.org), accessed 26 October 2014

Make certain when you extract details that you extract enough.

Dead men may tell tales but they don’t make out affidavits.


Some Ancestors Are Anonymous

Year: 1880; Census Place: Etowah, Floyd, Georgia; Roll: 146; Page: 350C; Enumeration District: 072

The 1880 enumerator in Floyd County, Georgia, encountered a Wilkins family headed by Anonymous. There was also a child in the household named Anonymous as well. Sometimes those names we think are incorrect are actually right. This individual appears to really have been named Anonymous based upon other records in the same location. It is possible that the name was actually Hieronymus, but that does not seem to be the case here.  In the absence of other records on this individual, I would have been inclined to think that Hieronymus was the actual name and the enumerator simply made a mistake.

There is no doubt that the enumerator intended to write Anonymous as the names of these two people.

Not every entry that appears unusual is the fault of the census taker or the transcriber.





Why You Should Really Track Your Research

I have three people I cannot find in the 1870 census.

One I think must have simply been overlooked. She should have been living in southwestern Hancock County, Illinois, in Walker, Rocky Run, or perhaps Warsaw Townships. Sophia Trautvetter was born in 1808 in Germany and was Rocky Run in 1860 with her family in the census. She died in 1877 and is buried in Tioga. I simply cannot find her, but no evidence indicates she returned to Germany or moved elsewhere. Her children were all living in those townships in 1870.

The other two are individuals whom I’m not exactly certain where they lived. Most likely it was west-central Illinois, but they could have temporarily moved further west only to return. Johann Ufkes (born 1838 in Ostfriesland, Germany) and his sister Antje cannot be found. From 1880 until his death in 1924, Johann is in Hancock County, Illinois. He immigrated in 1869 and lived initially in Adams County, Illinois, near Golden. Antje also immigrated before 1870, but cannot be located either.

Searching for the Ufkes siblings is an excellent situation where the researcher needs to track every online search as it is conducted in order to make certain a specific search has not been overlooked. Otherwise it is VERY EASY to go in circles and overlook the same search set of parameters that could be successful. And without tracking how you are searching, it is difficult for anyone to help you and provide suggestions that you have NOT already done.


Social Security Death Benefits in the 1930s

To be honest, I never gave it much thought. The probate settlement of John J. Trautvetter mentions a receipt for $22.06 for “Social Securities compensation.” This appears to have been paid out to his mother, based on the fact that it was the same amount, $22.06, where it was listed as “Social Security benefits.”

I’m not certain there would be any real records related to John. This is one of the few estates I have during the early 1930s where the deceased was someone who would have paid into Social Security and would have had a mother (no children) as an heir. John was working for a trucking company in Quincy, Illinois, at the time of his death in 1937.


I am not certain just how much information there would be in these records or how helpful they would be in this case.