Since my previous report on my efforts to try DNA testing, a lot has happened. Here is an update.
Family Finder on Family Tree DNA
My mom and dad both took the Family Finder test. The results were interesting, but I began to realize that it would also be helpful to start having more relatives in the mix. Towards the end of 2014, Family Tree DNA started offering discount coupons on each account. Somehow I managed to purchase the Family Finder test as an add-on to my existing MtDNA test, instead of a new test kit – oops! I hadn’t even realized such a thing was possible. I wrote to them for help, and eventually got a reply, and after a phone conversation, we agreed on a partial refund. Which was nice, because it was mostly my own stupidity that caused this.
My plan is to administer the test to another relative to help me distinguish the source of some of mom’s particular DNA. I have a peculiar lack of relatives on that side – mom had an identical twin (well that’s not so helpful, DNA-wise) and no other siblings, and only one first cousin. She had two second cousins who have recently passed away, one with no descendants. So, I think mom’s first cousin is able and willing, and I will pursue that question, now that my new kit is in hand.
So now I have Family Finders for myself, Mom and Dad. It has been rather interesting to have results for all of us.
Looking at Family Finder tests
There is far more data analysis available through Family Tree DNA than there is on Ancestry DNA, although the down side is there are far fewer trees to look at. When the results came into Family Tree DNA, I recognized some “old friends” from mom’s Ancestry DNA test. But now, I was able to do more with those matches.
Family tree DNA allows you to do some analysis pretty easily. Here are some examples.
Here are mom’s top matches. By default, the list sorts by size of largest block. But it also can be interesting to look at the total shared cM.
#1 is me – we match very closely of course.
Match #3 is someone I had corresponded with on Ancestry DNA and he is part of my Andrews connection. He told me about a match we share, which was mom’s #2 match. With some advice from #3 I approached #2 for more information – he has no tree or data on Family Tree DNA. I got a friendly response and a little data, which #2 expanded on – he had already begun researching this himself. I need to do my own research on #2 and this may lead me to answers for some of my Andrews questions. Match #9 is part of that group as well.
Matches #4, #5, and #6 have no trees and few or no surnames listed. About all I can do with such people is see who ELSE they match with, hoping those folks have trees. I would do this as follows:
- Turn on Show Full View so I could see the Longest Block measurement, and “+ Compare in Chromosome Browser” for each match.
- Try the Run Common Matches button to see who they ALSO match from among mom’s matches – use In Common With
- From there, choose people to put into the Chromosome Browser. See if they match in the same place.
- Another choice is to use the Matrix feature (under My DNA — Family Finder — Matrix).
By running those features I developed several groups of matches with a fair idea of where, approximately, they might match me or mom. Based on what I’ve been reading, I paid more attention to matches that both mom and I share, which is a good clue about non-random matches. So far, the groups have been interesting but only the Andrews one, noted in my first DNA post, seems definite. The other groups need to be explored more.
A third cousin
It was match #7 that has been the biggest surprise. First of all, because Family Finder sorts the matches by largest block, it was a LONG time before I finally noticed that he was mom’s largest match by far at 112.97 cM. He matches me at approximately half that amount. A match of that size is likely to be, say, a second cousin 1x removed. A match of half that size is likely to be a third cousin. It looked like I had found someone who was a third cousin to me, and second cousin 1x removed to my mom.
#7 offered very little in the way of names on the Family Tree DNA site. I wrote to him. We corresponded once or twice and he gave me some names and details of his grandparents. His paternal side was clearly not matching my family. On his maternal side, he mentioned some names and places that didn’t match what I had. He had a Martin, but from the wrong place.
I began researching one side of his maternal line. What a fascinating, large family. I traced numerous great aunts and uncles, each story more intriguing than the last. I found pictures, court records, and newspaper items. Eventually, I found enough to reluctantly convince myself I was not related to those people. So I moved on.
The other side had a Carson who married a Martin. There was some confusion about what the first name was. Using what I had, I began to research. One of the first things I found was a census record and suddenly, it all became clear, although it took me several days to gather additional evidence.
I found Lillian (from Canada) and James (from Ireland) Carson living in Somerville, Massachusetts with their son in 1900. Also in the household was sister in law Hazel Martin, born March, 1885. I know who Hazel Martin was, in fact, I had saved the census record in my Shoebox on Ancestry years ago. Hazel Violet Martin was the younger sister of my great grandmother, who had died in 1897. In 1905 Hazel married Frederick Bamblett in Providence, Rhode Island, and she died in Detroit in 1907.
My great grandmother Bessie had another sister, May, that I could never account for. She was listed in the census records before the family left Canada. She, for some reason, was a witness to Bessie’s first (unused) marriage license. She was the maid of honor at my great grandparents’ wedding. It was obvious that May must have been the author of “Teddy’s Book.” What I had never realized was that May Martin was really Lillian May Martin.
As I went back to review what could be known about my grandparents’ wedding, I saw probably the most compelling clue: James Carson (Lillian May Martin’s husband) was the best man. I had never put the clue in the newspaper clipping together with the clue in the census record that was a possible match for sister Hazel. Evidentia would have solved this one, I think. I hadn’t used it on Bessie Martin.
My additional evidence is a bit garbled because of the inconsistency with which the siblings reported their parents as “Marston/John/Jonathan” and “Maria/Elizabeth.” I know this sounds incongruous, but these are the same people, and for some reason in the 1890’s the family sometimes went with the alternate versions (particularly, on my great grandmother’s death record). I have some evidence that they never really obtained any citizenship status, so maybe they had something to hide. Or it’s possible middle names were used at random (like Lillian May). I don’t know.
But what it really all added up to was that I had found the author of “Teddy’s Book.”
We knew almost nothing about my great-grandmother Bessie Blanche Martin (1870-1897) when I started genealogy. I chronicled her story here, here, here, and here (and don’t miss The Runaway Bride of Newton, Massachusetts). We had a tintype of her, a picture of her and her sister Clara, a picture of Clara holding a baby, and a tiny homemade album of scraps and quotes called “Teddy’s Book” which was clearly created by someone for my grandfather when he was a small child. From those clues one would suspect Clara had been the sister she was closest to, but as I learned more I realized that Clara married and moved away, and it must have been May, still home in Milton, Massachusetts, that was close to her sister when my Grandfather was small.
My great grandmother died the day after giving birth to her second child, Blanchard “Jim” Baldwin. Cause of death was listed as cancer of the stomach. One has to picture the illness and pregnancy as a sad and difficult time, assuming this was known. My great grandfather, Miles E. Baldwin, quickly married again.
But in the pages of “Teddy’s Book,” written for my grandfather when he was about 5, around 1898 (shortly before the family left Newton) we get a glimpse of a Teddy’s doting and attentive aunts, obviously constant visitors at the Baldwin household both before and after the death of Bessie. They clearly adored their nephew, to the point of making a little scrap book filled with his “sayings” as well as snippets of his mother’s clothes. They spoke kindly of the new wife, either because they genuinely liked her or perhaps for the sake of their nephew … in either case, it was a loving, supportive gesture.
Things did not go all that easily for my grandfather once his family moved out of town and he went on without his mother and the loving aunts. I imagine he felt that loss, unknowingly, for the rest of his life. Lillian May’s life was difficult, filled with loss in the succeeding years. The author of the sweet and charming book, a happy fiance and, later, wife, also fared rather badly as life went on.
The DNA match filled in a story that I half knew, and, I hope, helped both sets of descendants get a glimpse of happier times. I have recorded the full contents of “Teddy Baldwin’s Book” as a pdf HERE for them to see.
I had put this information together in December, and on Christmas Eve morning, sent it to my third cousin, supposing that if he saw his family he would pass it on. I got a very nice reply from his mother, and corresponded with her a bit. I am glad to have met them – and in fact, I have “met” online some of Clara’s descendants, too – and it seems good to put some pieces back together, even in such a small way, of what was obviously once a supportive family group.
Later in February, I am going to meet another second cousin on my father’s side. She emailed me a picture which was a big hit with my family. I didn’t exactly start DNA to connect with cousins, but it has been rather amazing to do so.
My aspiration at this point is to use the following blog posts to process some of the other information a little better:
SO MUCH to learn with DNA, and it’s slow. I don’t know Roberta J. Estes, author of the DNA eXplained blog, but she appears to be some kind of genius. Her work at dna-explained.com is extensive, well written and really illuminating.
The post you are reading is located at: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2015/12/30/dna-and-teddys-book/