A Great Week in Genealogy and It’s Only Thursday

First, I registered for Course 4: Writing and Publishing for Genealogists taught by Tom Jones, one of the best genealogy writers and editors. The week-long course is taught at Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) in Birmingham, Alabama. The class fills up very quickly, with on-line registration opening at 12 noon on Tuesday. I was on-line as the class opened up at 11:58 am, according my computer clock. After finishing registration for the class I realized, in my excitement, I’d forgotten to sign up for on-campus room and board for the week. Logging back in at 12:08, Dr. Jones’ class was already full!

Second, success with DNA testing. I administer 10 DNA kits for family members on FTDNA, along with my additional testing on 23andMe and ancestry. I’ve sent one wave of invitations to all my 973 23andMe matches and added over 200 cousins to my chromosome maps, without finding any close relatives. That all changed this week, when I send out a second wave of invitations to 65 new relatives. One person responded almost immediately. It didn’t take us long to find we are related through our Buckmaster line, with my dad remembering his grand father. My new cousin and I share Charles Wilson Buckmaster and Mahala Hopkins as our most recent common ancestors, motivation for me to analyze Charles’ 500+ pages of Civil War pension file records sitting in two 3″ ring binders on my shelf.

Third – new record on my blog. After the post on Daisy McIntire Vickers, my blog site has had over 100 views/day for the past two days, a record for my blog, with nice comments from some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but I’m still looking for the jam cake and fruit salad recipes. I’d love to share those, if anyone has her recipes.

Altogether a great week in genealogy and it’s only Thursday.

Copyright © 2014 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

Finding Todd, Haynes and Francis Cousins with DNA

dnaBefore DNA testing on four more known relatives is done, this week I worked on my parents Family Tree DNA autosomal testing results, looking for cousins.

For my mother, we already have DNA matches with two known distant Todd cousins and one known McIntire cousin. After assigning those known relationships in FTDNA, I was able to use the filter matches by the “in common with…” feature. First, I selected my mother and a Todd cousin. Thirty nine people came up as having the same shared DNA. Of those, six matches were estimated at 3rd or 4th cousins.

FTDNA has a feature to keep track of your notes. On all thirty-nine people, I made a note of the date and the match. Again, through FTDNA, I was able to send messages to the six matches. Many people, myself included, administer DNA accounts for others, so in the body of the message, I’ve learned to always include the name of both matches and to include my family names and geography. You get a better response than just saying “Hey, we match.”   If I do a little more work upfront, not expecting the other person to figure out the match,  I get better responses.

But before sending out messages, I went through the same “in common with…” matching process with the other Todd cousin and with the McIntire cousin, documenting all the matches in notes. Some people matched both Todd cousins and some people only matched one. A couple of people matched the Todd cousins and the McIntire cousin!

Out of a total of 115 possible matches between my mother’s DNA and her three known 3rd or 4th cousins, FTDNA identified eighteen new people as possible 3rd or 4th cousins.

From the messages to these possible cousins, within two days, I had responses from ten people – one who was able to immediately identify himself as a descendant of Walker Todd, my 4th great-grandfather. I’ve talked with my mother’s new 2nd cousin 2X removed. He’s sent me video of the Todd Cemetery in Cannon County, Tennessee, where I hope to visit someday.

As I was responding to the followup messages, I realized I needed to have my place names better organized to sort by city/county/state. When I have Oklahoma City listed in my Family Tree Maker place name as OKC, OK City, Okla. City, and Oklahoma City, those don’t sort, nor does AR, Ark., ARK, and Arkansas. It took two solid days of data entry using the “check unrecognized place names to resolve misspelling and other errors” function, which pulled up over 4500 place names to be checked. After the cleanup, I was down to 2214 place names for the 5674 people in my tree and the place sort function was now useful. (Now I need to do the people clean-up, but that’s another week.)

Another response yielded a match in our documents to a descendant of a brother of Elvira/Elmira Haynes, so we now have potential DNA identified on the Haynes line from this 3rd cousin.

So basically, in the searches, we’re looking for DNA matches where people have a documented paper trail that matches our ancestors. Then we assume the DNA comes from the documented ancestor, realizing assuming can get us in trouble. The goal is to have two or three matches showing the same gene sequence, then you can confirm the relationship.

While I was working away on my mother’s matches, I received an email from a woman about a possible match with my father’s DNA. She did a really great job of sending me her family names and dates. After trading several emails and chasing a couple of red herrings, we identified a match in our paper trails to John Riley Francis and Margaret “Peggy” Davidson – my father’s 3rd great grandparents. Mary Pennington Musgrove, my dad’s grandmother, was the daughter of Elnora Melvina Francis, who was the daughter of John Riley and Peggy. So dad has a new confirmed 4th cousin.

Now I can run the “in common with…” feature in FTDNA for each of my parents and their new cousins to find more new cousins and hope for responses. That will keep me busy until other four kits are completed, but now, I need to get back to work for my study group covering Mastering Genealogical Proof and then download and label documents off the flippal and camera from my summer research trips – a different kind of fun than working with DNA testing.1

1. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).

Copyright © 2013 Andrea Musgrove Perisho



DNA – Maternal Lineage Test Results

A few years ago, I had my maternal line DNA testing done through GeneTree. Then I joined Ancestry.com and entered by mtDNA results in their data base. From both data bases, I got dozens of matches from all over the world – mostly from Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland and the United States, basically where people had immigrated from the British Isle. I contacted some of the matches in the United States and was not able to identify any close relatives from those matches.

Maternal DNA is passed from the mother to her off-spring, both male and female. Maternal DNA does not mutate very often, so mtDNA results will be consistent along the maternal line. With a perfect mtDNA match and no more information, we can’t decide if we are first cousins or if we share a common ancestor from 5000 years ago.

The test is basically used to rule out possible relations through the maternal line. So my brother and sisters will all have all the same mtDNA, as will all Edith Holder’s children, as will all Zula McIntire’s children, as will all Almeda Todd’s children, as will all Margaret Elliott’s children and on back, back and back. If I find a person that looks like a paper match in my direct maternal line but with different mtDNA results, we are definitely not related.

U Haplogroup Migration Map

Where it all started. . .

Around 100,000 years ago, a single group of humans began dividing and migrating to form genetically isolated populations throughout the world. Over generations, the new populations’ genes became slightly different from the original group and from each other. The differences appear in the mtDNA sequence and allow scientists to create different haplogroups.

My Results – Haplogroup U5a

I belong to the Travelers, haplogroup U, which emerged around 60,000 years ago, not long after the first modern humans left Africa. Because the Travelers are so old, they’ve had a broad geographic distributions from Europe, North Africa, India and Central Asia as descendants migrated to new areas and formed subgroups. Frequencies of haplogroup U range from 10-30% in these populations.

Nine main subgroups of haplogroup U have been identified. U5 is thought to have lived in southwest Asia. There was a change in climate conditions about 43,000 years ago as the glaciers receded. U5 took part in the first settlement of Europe by modern humans.

Famous U5a Members

In 1903, the skeletal remains of a 9,000 year-old male were found in a cave in Cheddar, England. The “Cheddar Man” was about 23 years old when he died, killed by a blow to the face. Recently scientists were able to extract and analyze his DNA material. They identified the “Cheddar Man” as a U5a. In surveying local people, a match was found with a nearby schoolteacher, Adrian Targett.


  • Genetree mtDNA results report.
  • Ancestry.com results report.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

DNA Testing Results – Southern European Ethnicity

As you’ve seen in a earlier post, my AncestoryDNA testing results showed 59% of my genetic ethnicity from Scandinavian, surprisingly. However, Vikings did control much of Northern Europe, so the results do make sense, as we go back in history. My next two major ethnic groups at 14% each were British Isles and Eastern European; see those earlier posts for more details. Today’s post features Southern European Ethnicity with my genetic ethnicity results in this group at 9%.  The information below is from my AncestoryDNA test results.

About Southern European Ethnicity

Modern Day Location

Italy, Spain, Portugal

Did You Know?

One of the most common Italian surnames is Russo.

About Your Region

If you had to choose one region of Europe that has wielded the most influence over the course of western history, a strong candidate would be the land of your ancestors—an area that includes modern day Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

In ancient Italy, the Romans and their empire set the stage for modern European culture. After adopting Christianity in the 4th century, the Romans spread (along with their Latin language) to all corners of their realm. Centuries later, Italy again stepped to the forefront, leading the way out of the Middle Ages as brilliant artists and philosophers like Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo ushered in the Renaissance.

Spain and Portugal experienced periods of great strength and influence during the Age of Discovery. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II of Spain funded the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1492, initiating an era of global colonization and great wealth and influence. Today, as a result, Spanish is the second most spoken language on Earth. Portugal kept pace with its neighbor, establishing its own colonies around the world, most notably Brazil.

In the modern era, all three counties saw tumultuous transitions from monarchies to authoritarian dictatorships to modern republics. While their modern day borders may be much smaller than in the days of their powerful empires, their legacy still reaches around the globe.

Migrations into this region

Southern Europe shares a substantial amount of genetic affinity with North Africa. This is mostly because the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by Moorish (Berber) invaders, from present-day Morocco, in about 711 C.E. Their legacy can still be seen in Spain and Portugal, ranging up to 15% in some individuals.

Migrations from this region

During the Last Glacial Period, beginning about 21,000 years ago, glaciers and windswept tundra made much of northern and central Europe uninhabitable. Populations retreated into the southern glacial refugia of Spain and Italy. Then as the climate warmed, these Mesolithic people expanded out of southern Europe to occupy the entire continent, as far north as present-day Finland. The south-to-north pattern of genetic differences in Europe is attributed to this post-glacial expansion. Additionally, Iberia was the historic source of migration into the Americas. Populations throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, southern USA and South America can trace their lineages back to Spain and Portugal, usually through their paternal side.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

DNA Results Eastern European Ethnicity

While our family stories don’t include any Eastern European origins, my DNA shows 14% Eastern European ethnicity – the same percentage as my British Isles ethnicity. Below is the Eastern European information from AncestryDNA.  

Modern Day Location

Poland, Greece, Macedonia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Belgarus, Kosovo

Did You Know?

The national anthem of Greece contains 158 verses, and is probably the longest.

About Your Region

Your ethnic profile points to Eastern Europe, which is a region stretching from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Mediterranean in the south. It consists primarily of former “Eastern Bloc” nations that were either aligned with or occupied by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—as well as Belarus and Ukraine were annexed directly into the USSR. While Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria were satellite states as members of the Warsaw Pact. Also part of the region are the nations of the former Yugoslavia—Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Albania and Greece sit at the southern end of the region, bordering the Mediterranean.

The area is considered by many ethnologists to be the homeland of the Slavic people. Most of the nations in the region speak a Slavic language, which spread north and east into Russia and south toward the Balkans in the 5th and 6th centuries.

Perhaps the most famous resident of the area is Greece. From the ancient Mycenaeans and the Homeric epics of the Trojan War to the famous cities of Athens and Thebes, the fearsome Spartans to Alexander the Great—Greek culture and history laid the foundation for Roman, European, and, ultimately, western culture as a whole.

In the 1400s, the Ottoman Turks conquered the remnants of the Byzantine Empire and throughout the 1500s expanded deep into Eastern Europe, occupying the entire southern region up to Hungary, Romania, and parts of Ukraine. As a result, there are scattered communities of Muslims in the southern countries, although Christianity is prevalent throughout the region.

Migrations into this region

After the Last Glacial Period 15,000 years ago, populations expanded onto the eastern European plain from the Balkans and Blacks Sea as ice and tundra retreated. These Eastern Europeans were the first of the Neolithic farming culture that entered the Balkans about 9,000 years ago from the Middle East. In fact, individuals from southeastern Europe have inherited a higher proportion of Middle Eastern ancestry than other European individuals. About 2,000-3,000 years ago, the ancestors of Magyars migrated from the Ural Mountains in Russia toward present-day Hungary. Although they contribute their unique language to the region, their genetic impact may have been small.

Migrations from this region

About 2,300 years ago, the height of the Eastern European influence may have been the rise of the Greeks and their Hellenistic empire following the death of Alexander the Great. Their empire encompassed Italy, Turkey and even stretched all the way to northern India. Among the southeastern populations, Greeks in particular share elevated ancestry with the Middle East, potentially due to relatively recent migrations.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

DNA Result – British Isles Ethnicity

Almost all of our ancestors arrived in American from the British Isles. Our ancestors were mostly Puritans, Quakers,  plantation owners and their indentured servants who came to Virginia and Maryland and Scots and English, who lived on either side of the border between those two countries.

A visit our ancestral lands in the British Isles would take a complete tour of all of England, the southern part of Scotland and the northern part of Ireland, where many of the Scots Irish stopped for a generation or two before traveling on American.

Below is the AncestryDNA discussion about the British Isles Ethnicity. My test results showed 14% of my ancestors had this ethnicity. See previous and future posts to learn more about our ancestors ethnicity.   

Modern Day Location

England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales

Did You Know?

The English language, predominantly spoken in this region, is descended from German settlers.

About Your Region

You’re from North-Western Europe, an area including the modern-day United Kingdom and Ireland. It is a group of islands separated from France and the rest of continental Europe by the narrow English Channel. It is the rolling, emerald-green hills of Ireland, the craggy, weathered peaks of Wales, the rich history of the city on the Thames, and the deep, mysterious lochs of Scotland.

This is where Shakespeare wrote his plays and poems. It’s home to the legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood. It’s produced some of the world’s most adventurous explorers and greatest political and military figures—George Mallory, Winston Churchill, Admiral Horatio Nelson. Brilliant scientific minds such as Sir Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell laid the foundations of modern physics. And it’s the place where a rainbow can lead to a pot of gold. Maybe.

The history of the region is one of periodic invasions and settlements by various groups including the Angles and Saxons from Germany, the Jutes from Denmark, the Vikings, the Normans from northern France and, of course, the Romans. English, a Germanic language brought by the Angles, is obviously the primary language spoken. But a few of the older languages spoken by the ancient Celts still exist—a rarity in post-Roman Europe.

The people of the region have been witness to sweeping political changes and amazing technological progress through the centuries, from the Glorious Revolution to the Industrial Revolution. But despite their penchant for reform and progress, they have always found a way to preserve the past. From royal families to prime ministers, ancient languages to international diversity, from thousand-year-old cathedrals to glass skyscrapers, their culture is a fascinating blend of old and new.

Migrations into this region

Despite being a cluster of islands separated from continental Europe, Great Britain and Ireland haven’t been insulated from outsiders. Although they weren’t the first, the Celts from central Europe spread throughout the Northwest Isles about 2500 years ago. Then, as with everywhere else, the Romans came. After the Romans withdrew from the area, tribes from northern Germany and Denmark (the Angles, Saxons and Jutes) came to conquer much of what is now England. About this same time, the mighty Vikings also left their imprint, particularly in southern Scotland, Ireland and western England.

Migrations from this region

Religious and political upheaval in 17th and 18th century England played a critical role in establishing and defining early American history. Called the Great Migration, religious dissidents including the Pilgrims, Quakers, and Puritans left England seeking religious freedom and a new way of life. Although the migration was not large in overall numbers, it laid the foundation for American culture, including the concepts of church-state separation and religious tolerance.

The Great Irish Famine, also called the Potato Famine, was triggered by an outbreak of potato blight, which destroyed potato crops across Europe in the mid 1800s. Already enduring widespread poverty and massive unemployment, Ireland was hit harder than any other nation by the disaster since potatoes were a dietary staple. Ireland lost nearly a quarter of its population. Those who could leave, fled mostly to England, Australia, Canada, and the United States, creating a world-wide Irish diaspora.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

DNA Results – Scandinavian Genetic Ethnicity

My DNA results through Ancestry.com are back with a match with a Buckmaster 2nd cousin who attended the reunion for the first time this year and with about 35 4th cousins. I’ll check those matches to see if we can extend the family tree. (For privacy reasons, names of no living people will be used in my blog, unless permission is given.)

My AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity Results are as follows. The results may change as more testing is performed.

  • 59% Scandinavian
  • 14% British Isles
  • 14% Eastern European
  • 9% Southern European
  • 4% Uncertain

It looks like our ancestors from the British Isles were descended from Vikings! Below is the Scandinavian Genetic Ethnicity Report from Ancestry.com. I’ll add information on the other ethnicities in later blogs.

About Scandinavian Ethnicity

Modern Day Location

Norway, Sweden, Denmark

Did You Know?

In the northern latitudes, the sun rarely dips below the horizon in the summer, meaning very long days and very short nights. However, the tables are turned the rest of the year, with almost no daylight at all in the middle winter months.

About Your Region

Looks like you may have some Viking blood in you. Your genetic ethnicity ties you to Scandinavia, which includes the modern-day nations of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. While the Vikings were feared by the coastal towns of medieval Europe as seaborne raiders and violent pillagers, they were also well-travelled merchants and ambitious explorers. They raided the Mediterranean coast of Africa, settled areas as far south as the Black Sea, and traded with the Byzantine Empire. And it was a Norse sailor, Leif Ericson, who is credited with being the first European to travel to North America—500 years before Columbus.

And it wasn’t just the Vikings who had an irrepressible urge for adventure. In the days of the mighty Roman Empire, the Goths, originally from Sweden, wandered south and settled in what is now eastern Germany. In the year 410, they invaded and sacked Rome, setting the stage for the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire.

In the more recent past, the Scandinavian nations have embraced a new identity. Considering their neutrality during the World Wars, high quality of life, and relatively egalitarian societies, they are known more for their peaceful ways than their ancient Viking lineage might suggest.

Migrations into this region

As the glaciers retreated from Northern Europe, roaming groups of hunter-gatherers from Southern Europe followed reindeer herds inland and marine resources along the Scandinavian coast. Neolithic farmers eventually settled the region beginning about 6,000 years ago. However, the tradition of hunting and reindeer-herding remains among the Sami people of northern Scandinavia. The Sami formerly occupied much of northern Scandinavia and Russia, and likely had connections with the Volga-Ural region (where there are other languages similar to Finnish and Sami).

Migrations from this region

The rise of the Viking culture spread Scandinavian ancestry far throughout Europe. Their earliest coastal voyages took them to Scotland, northeastern England and established the settlement of Dublin, Ireland. As their power continued to grow, the Vikings spread farther afield, down the Volga River in Russia, to the coast of France and Spain. But perhaps their most famous accomplishments were the oceanic voyages across the Atlantic, establishing villages in Iceland and Greenland and exploring the northern coast of Canada. Few, if any of the early Scandinavian settlers, are thought to have survived in the Americas. However, Iceland remains a flourishing post of Scandinavian language and culture.

 Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.