Sunday, September 24, 2017

An Update to My 245 Centimorgan Mystery: My Father's Results

Good morning!

So my father's DNA results came in with an interesting ethnicity estimate (19% Irish, eh? Possibly confirms that my mysterious great-great grandma Emma's father was Irish and possibly also takes into account the fact that my 4th great-grandfather, William Gray, was Irish).

However, what really interested me was, of course, utilizing my father's results for triangulation purposes. My mother has also tested and I can triangulate with her on Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and GEDMatch, which is very useful. I was particularly interested in my father's test results, which I manage, because of the 245 Centimorgan Mystery I wrote about last month.

I was able to narrow this match down to definitely being related to my paternal grandmother. That's great in and of itself. Even with my parents to compare against, it's not always easy to narrow down even further to one of their parents.

Ancestry estimates this 245 cM match to be a 2nd cousin, which is possible, but I think it's unlikely with our generational difference. She could be a 2nd cousin, once removed. She could also be a half-cousin.

Initially, I was able to compare her to my half first cousin, with whom I share 395 centimorgans. This half first cousin descends from my paternal grandmother, but not my paternal grandfather, as grandma had two marriages and two children from each of her marriages. Thus, I was able to narrow my mystery match, who matches us both, down to being related on my paternal grandmother's side.

My father's results showed he shares 869 cM shared with my half first cousin, his niece through his half brother. So it's great to confirm that relationship!

I asked both my half first cousin and sister to let me know what they share with our mystery match. Here are the results:

155 cM - my sister and mystery match

171 cM - our half first cousin and mystery match

245 cM - me and mystery match

393 cM - dad and mystery match

This is quite a range and definitely points to this person being related to my dad in many ways, such as:


  • Half first cousin
  • First cousin, once removed
  • Second cousin

That's just a rough range estimate, but the question remains: how is she related to us?

Of course, my father and I don't have all the same matches. He has plenty I don't have and that will be helpful to me in the future. Right now, however, I'm focused on this mystery match. If I can't figure out how our 245/393 cM cousin is related to us, what hope do I have of figuring out matches with lesser shared centimorgans?

The first thing I checked for was any dubious paternity in our family and, of course, other DNA matches. Here's what things look like based on my grandmother's four grandparents:

Erastus Bartlett Shaw - several other DNA matches also match up to us on the Shaw side, from Erastus's father Harrison and back. My mystery match does not share any of these matches, so I've ruled out a non-paternity event or connection to the Shaws.

If I go back even further on this side, his mother Adeline Bent's ancestors are all also confirmed by DNA matches.

Emma Anna Murphy - my ongoing mystery and, truly, my best chance here. As you know, I've been pursuing her for 25 years. Lately, I've started to wonder if she was who she said she was. I have a couple of theories on how she and the match could possibly fit together.

Edward Henry Blake - at first, I suspected a non-paternity event on his side - in fact, I started to doubt he, himself, was a Blake. First of all, there is no birth certificate for him. Second, I hadn't encountered any Blake matches in many years of having my autosomal DNA available on Family Tree DNA and GEDMatch. But I also hadn't been looking for any. A little effort showed me there were several on Ancestry.

His mother, Nancy Allen, is also confirmed by DNA matches.

Ada Estella Gay - the Gay and Gleason sides (Ada's grandparents) are well-confirmed by DNA. I have not found as many matches on her mother's side, but I see no reason to believe any non-paternity event happened here.

I've taken endogamy into consideration, but research seven generations back on my match's line shows no shared ancestor(s) whatsoever. I've looked at my match's photograph and compared it to the other photos she has of her ancestors, and she definitely resembles her mother's side strongly. I'm not discounting that side, but I am focused on her father's side right now. Her father's side was mainly in Tiverton, Rhode Island and Fall River, Massachusetts. But where does this fit in with my family? Where is our connection? Emma seems like the only possibility when investigating from my end.

I am also building a family tree for my match on Ancestry, however. My initial pedigree chart and research was fairly superficial and I feel that digging in and confirming her family's events, and having all the children born to the family, could help. I'm also reaching out to our shared matches, trying to figure out the connection with them.

A visual chart helps a little bit, but mostly it leaves me scratching my head as I try to figure out where this person fits in to my family tree.

I don't want to get my hopes up that this person could be the break-through I need to figure out my great-great grandmother Emma's origins. But, so far, Emma seems like the only possibility since we only know bits and pieces (yet, nothing confirmed) about her life before she married Erastus Bartlett in Middleborough in 1888 .



Copyright (c) 2017 Wendy L. Callahan

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