I now know a small chunk of one of the pairs of my 11th chromosome comes to me from my great great great great great grandfather, Peter Twiss. He was born in 1718 in Massachusetts.
I recently had my DNA tested in the hopes of connecting with previously unknown relatives. There were two goals in this. It’s always nice to meet new people who have similar interests. But, having DNA validation of a relationship documented by paper is a nice confirmation that the paper is correct.
The challenge is that while DNA can tell you that you are related to someone, it doesn’t tell you how you are related. You need to dig through the trees yourself and find out where they overlap. If your tree isn’t deep enough or broad enough then finding that overlap may be impossible.
That’s been the problem for DNA matches on my mom’s side. We can trace our trees to Sicily but I don’t yet have enough breadth to the tree to find a connection. For my father’s side there’s more hope. Most of his ancestors have been in America for at least 200 years and some are documented back to the beginning of the 1600′s. Though I don’t have as much breadth to the tree as I’d like I do have some.
As it turns out I had just enough to find my match with someone. Our tree overlapped at one point, a woman named Elizabeth Twiss who married John Giles. Elizabeth Twiss was the sister of a Peter Twiss (b. 1718) who was my fifth generation great grandfather.
I contacted the match and she agreed that this was the likely connection. This makes us 7th cousins, a relationship much more distant than the 4th cousin predicted by the matching software. The odds of us having such a large amount of common DNA from such distant ancestors is not impossible though the odds are against it.
For me it confirmed a section of my tree where the paper trail was particularly thin. If I only ever confirm one connection via DNA this was an incredibly useful one to validate.
I now know that if I match someone else on that particular segment of chromosome 11 that I either match to someone on that line between me and Peter Twiss or the person is a match on my mom’s side but odds are surnames and other tools will show which fairly quickly.
I definitely need to broaden my tree and document sibling lines more completely. The odds of finding a common ancestor depend on having enough sibling info. I’ve always entered sibling info when I had it but now I need to go document the children of those siblings and follow the lines forward for a few generations to create enough “hooks” for the matches to catch.