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You get half your DNA from each parent, about a quarter from each grandparent and so forth ....so if enough biological cousins are tested you can figure this out
Chart from the ISOGG wiki (courtesy Dimario, Wikimedia Commons)
The cousin level = the number of "G"s , else the greats plus one
If you are in different generations take the shorter path and the other is removed by the generation difference
Any of these matches may resolve the case for you but proceed carefully
Enter the cMs and get probable relationships https://dnapainter.com/tools/sharedcmv4
This online calculator that gives you the probable relationships is an invaluable aid
Clustering can be a quick shortcut to finding the common ancestors. The idea is to display your matches who match each other in an easy to understand visual format
The result might look like this, each colored box is expected to consist of matches descended from one set of your great grandparents
On some versions of clustering, all the names are clickable to the match (others have a list below)
Here is the cluster image for Jack who was looking for his unknown Dad
The top two boxes were each paternal and the top one was almost all one surname
The clustering methodology was developed by Dana Leeds who has much advice on her site - https://www.danaleeds.com/
This case is mentioned at https://blog.kittycooper.com/2018/12/automatic-clustering-from-genetic-affairs/
There was an unusual surname several times in the 2nd cluster so I searched the box one tree for that name and found one couple in recent times where surname 1 married surname 2.
They had 2 sons, one was in the right place at the right time!
A 2nd cousin match from cluster one had a huge tree
The match page in the Beta Ancestry view
Check the cMs of each match and compare them to the charts
Do they fit your theory?
Or you can use the "What Are The Odds" tool at DNApainter to check your theory
Collects and compares the trees of your matches into your own private database at DNAgedcom.com
Find the common ancestors from your Ancestry matches and builds a tree!
DNA2tree currently only works on iPhones and iPads and is a paid subscription
sample Ancestry tree built by DNA2tree
For this to work well, you need many matches with good trees
Find the app called DNAgedcom Client on your computer or look for this icon
Once you are logged in to your account at DNAgedcom you will see this screen
Enter your ancestry username and password
Fastest is to check Quicker and Skip Distant Cousins
Once you are logged in, the name(s) of people who have shared DNA with you show up in the profile box, select the desired one in the dropdown
Click Gather Matches, when it finishes click Gather Trees, when done You do not need Gather ICW for GWorks it is used for clustering
Now your database is ready!
For adoption cases, I usually start by looking for common ancestors born after 1800
by putting 18 in the box at the top of the Birth Date column and clicking StartsWith
Another useful search is to look for a surname, since spelling varies I often start with the first 3 or 4 letters
Click the arrow next to the name so it points down and all the matches who have this person in their tree will show
You can use the "Show Trees " on the Gworks page to delete all but one and then rerun the matching
Jane had a second cousin match at Ancestry with a good tree
Can GWorks can identify which line from the second cousin match is the one they are related on?
Top ten ancestors in GWorks
Can you find any GWorks listed names in the far right of the pedigree?
Three of them have DNA tested descendants, check the abbreviated McGuire diagram for clues
So the next step was to look for the surname of Pratt B's wife and then for child D's spouse
Child D's spouse's surname is in the database many times, now to get a child of D, a possible parent to test
People with endogamous roots do best to wait for close matches, 2nd cousins (or better) ... Tessa had three, one at each site. She also had been told a surname for the father: PADILLA
The 23andme match was the grandchild of (Jose) Pasqual Padilla, sharing 5.1% or 368 cMs.
Based on other matches the 23andme match was confident that he was the half 1st cousin of the Padilla father we were looking for; that Tessa was descended from the 2nd wife of Pasqual,
thus a half first cousin once removed -1C1R
The Ancestry and MyHeritage matches shared common ancestors: surname MARTINEZ
The Ancestry match - 287 cM - had a tree with just parents. Building that tree in our research tree we found the great grandparents of the My Heritage match -282 cM
Eugenio and Maria Martinez
but they were the great great grandparents of the Ancestry match. The son of that couple who was the Ancestry match's grandad had several wives and many children - so perhaps another half 1st1R?
Obituaries are a great source for finding the names and parents of the living. This one from the Albuquerque Journal found the Martinez-Padilla marriage we were looking for
Next task was to see if we could find a daughter of (Jose) Trinidad Martinez married to a son of (Jose) Pasqual Padilla
So did Pasqual have a son named Luis?
Yes Pasqual's son Luis married Teresa Martinez! the daughter of (Jose) Trinidad Martinez
Now which of those 9 sons was in California at the right time?
Only 2 of them
Meanwhile Julie, a daughter of one of the possible half brothers, tested independantly at 23andme and shared 774cM (about 10%)
Now Tessa showed off her sleuthing skills, she called the librarian of the small town that most of these Padillas were from and got copies of their obituaries and lots of information. Neither possible father was still alive but she tracked down a son of each one of them and talked them into testing
So Julie is either a half niece or a 1C1R
image from Blaine Bettinger's chart 2017
Here are the tests results for her possible half brothers
Tessa was welcomed into her father's family; here she is with her half brother and half niece
Another example of endogamy, recognize this one?
The profile CSV file from clustering can be used for tracking your work
Some adoption searches end happily - new dad Billy has sold his house and has moved near to daughter Cheryl and his sister in Florida
My blog post on using GWorks https://blog.kittycooper.com/2017/09/solving-unknown-parentage-cases-with-dna/