El Dorado 1914

Jeff Record’s post on Monday, and the comments on it, have nudged me into summarizing how I was able to use his father’s DNA results to determine Jeff’s grandmother’s biological father. Jeff has written two articles in Mayflower Descendant, one on the Young family from whom his grandmother descends, so with that, as well as his past blogposts, I’ve been aware of the general chronology on this family. Jeff also shared with me his ahnentafel with all of his known ancestors, as we both have connections to Kansas. His grandmother, Georgia Lee Young, later Katheryn Elizabeth Ogle, was born in 1914 in Newton, Kansas, which is the same place of birth as my mother.

As Jeff has already described, I advised him that his father taking an autosomal DNA test now might actually shed some light on the mystery of his maternal grandfather, since I have had many success stories with other friends and colleagues. As currently Ancestry.com has the most people in their database, along with the easiest way to search through surnames and trees, I recommended his dad test with them first, before exploring other options. Fortunately, we did not need to try again!

These “unknown” three were not related to the other “known” three results, and all the “unknown” three were “shared matches” with each other.

As the DNA is specific to Jeff’s father Jack, I’ll now be describing the results for Jack. When I saw his results arrive I looked at the top six results, all predicted to be between first and second cousins. One was a close relative to Jack’s father (Record), two were close relatives to Jack’s maternal grandmother (Young), and the other three were not related to anyone in Jack’s known ancestry (mystery). These “unknown” three were not related to the other “known” three results, and all the “unknown” three were “shared matches” with each other. They also all had family trees that showed how they related to each other! As this involves living people, and not all contact has been established, I will be describing these matches with aliases and then referring to the common ancestors with very generic identifications.

The summary of possible kinships below is from data available on https://isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_statistics. The closest match was a male we will call “Michael Ford,” who matched Jack at 354 centimorgans across 17 segments. This match was predicted by Ancestry to be between a first and a second cousin. Other possible kinships ranged from half first cousin to first cousin twice removed.

The next match, a female, we will call “Annabelle Harris”; she matched Jack at 280 centimorgans across 15 segments. This match was predicted by Ancestry to be a second cousin. Other possible kinships ranged from half first cousin to first cousin three times removed.

The third match, a male, we will call “Jason Mitchell,” and he matched Jack at 210 centimorgans across 14 segments. This match was predicted by Ancestry to be a second cousin. Other possible kinships ranged from half first cousin to second cousin twice removed.

There are additional possible kinship assignments for more immediate remote kinships: for instance, Michael and Jack could be great-great-nephew/uncle, etc. As I determined how all three matches related to each other, and that all three related through Jack’s maternal grandfather, several of those other kinships are not generationally or chronologically possible.

The good news was that all three of these people had trees on Ancestry and they were all related to each other through the “Jackson” family (not the real surname) of a nearby state. The below chart demonstrates how these three matches related (all names changed), women in red, men in blue:

Annabelle and Michael were half first cousins once removed, both descending from J. Martin Jackson through his two different wives, and Jason was a grandson of J. Martin Jackson’s sister, making him a second cousin to Michael and a second cousin once removed to Annabelle. Jack also had some reasonably close matches at the next level on Ancestry related through further ancestors of both James Jackson and Ellen Martin. Based on this, I was fairly certain that Jack’s maternal grandfather had to descend from James and Ellen (Martin) Jackson. In terms of the kinships that were possible above, J. Martin Jackson fit all of them! But I had to look at the life of J. Martin Jackson, where he was, and if there were any other close members of his family that could also could fit the genetic criteria. The short answer was, there weren’t!

In terms of the kinships that were possible above, J. Martin Jackson fit all of them!

J. Martin Jackson (Martin) was born in the 1880s in a state bordering Kansas, but hundreds of miles away from El Dorado, Kansas, where Jack’s grandmother was living in 1913 and 1914. However, I discovered from Martin’s World War 1 Draft Registration Card that he was living in El Dorado in 1918! Following this trail back, I find him there in the 1915 state census of Kansas. Newspapers.com had several papers for El Dorado at the time, which highlighted Martin’s entire stay there – from 1911 to 1918 – in between his first and second marriages. He met and married Ella Shaw there in 1917 and by 1920 Martin and his second wife were living back in his home state.

There wasn’t anyone alive in Martin’s family besides him that fit the criteria for being Jack’s grandfather. Martin’s father died a few years after his sister Jennifer’s birth and the mother Ellen remarried. She had three sons living with her the 1910 census, which indicated she was the mother of five children, five living, which were Martin, his full sister Jennifer, and their three half-brothers. This trio was too young biologically to father a child in 1914, and they were living hundreds of miles away in another state. (As half-brothers, they also had less genetic overlap and would not account for the additional matches behind Martin’s father.) Martin was the only one and he was right in the same town! He was about a decade older than Jack’s grandmother. He was divorced, and had not yet married his second wife.

To go back to the kinships above, and how they work out with J. Martin Jackson as Jack’s grandfather: the chart below (only the names of Jack, his mother, and grandmother are real) now has Martin followed by his three sequential relationships:

Jack and Michael Ford are half first cousins, an average kinship of 425 centimorgans, which can range from 137 to 856. Jack and Michael have 354.

Jack and Annabelle Harris are half first cousins once removed, an average kinship of 212.50 centimorgans, which can range from 57 to 530. Jack and Annabelle have 280.

Jack and Jason Mitchell are second cousins, an average kinship of 212.50 centimorgans, and this can range from 46 to 515. Jack and Jason have 210.

Based on the large amount of shared DNA, the lack of any other male members of the family that fit the genealogical, chronological, or geographical criteria, and Martin’s presence in the same town in 1914, I feel very confident that Martin is Jack’s grandfather. This was only possible because so many people have decided to take tests, and in this case, the closest people alive tested! Plus they had trees, so that helped too!

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

8 thoughts on “El Dorado 1914

  1. As per usual, Chris, a justified WOW! is in order. Unless I missed it in a previous VB entry or you have a follow-up online seminar planned on this, a review of how to count “centimorgans” over “segments”, with definitions, is needed–so I can download it for recurring review!! And adding practice assignments would be good, too. As I am not currently using it, the info & techniques aren’t sticking with me. I need to bookmark it. Still, WOW! And was that a PB&J sandwich?

    1. Thanks Robert! Check out the link above on on autosomal DNA statistics https://isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_statistics and then links within for some further explanation.

      Wasn’t actually making sandwiches, had a power outage at home so I woke up earlier and had to use the burners to make pasta and used my iPhone, instead of the microwave, to keep time. Noticed the e-mail of the results being in while waiting for the water to boil. Looked at it first on my phone, then the power went back on and worked on it from my desktop. Might not have gotten to it as quickly had the circumstances been different.

      1. Thank you! Will review thoroughly as my daughter surprised me by getting a DNA test done for herself (“Hey Dad, where did this North African stuff come from?”), so I have asked her to get her mother’s done, too. My main Genealogy bookmark folder continues to proliferate new sub-folders. I’ve also done the same for saving DNA-related VB entries; there, it is Chris Childs all-the-way-down.

      2. Chris, While (re-)organizing my bookmarks, I put your webinar from last June on in the background. It is still available on YouTube. I heard you refer to Oxford Ancestors as the DNA source for the UK. My memory being jogged about a “problem”, I checked the website directly after the webinar was finished. As you know, Brian Sykes has decided to close shop to write more books. Where is one to go, now, for crossing the pond?

        I ask this on behalf of a friend’s cousin who manages a Butler DNA project. Within the past 5 years, male descendants from Daniel Butler (arrived RI about 1674) and male descendants from Thomas Butler (arr. Kittery, ME about 1692) have proven to be very very strongly related. My eyeballing of the uploaded results suggested they were at the very least 1st cousins. Neither man left any evidence of where they were from in England.

        Would participating in Ancestry.uk be the fastest way to go if looking for matches? Or is/are there other companies in the UK in the process of creating a national DNA database, now that Oxford Ancestors is closed? (And let’s hear it for Cheddar Man.)

        As I am finishing this, it strikes me that your reply might be worth another VB entry all by itself!

  2. I was sure that you were the mysterious friend who figured it out. Thanks for sharing your techniques!

  3. Your “road map” will be most helpful to me as I am trying to figure out birth parents for my uncle who is deceased. Both his children have tested and just recently there are several really good matches ranging from 400-545 Cm plus quite a few others in the 4-6 generation range. It really helps to see how the relationships can be configured to find the bio parent.

    1. Those are really good matches! It’s important to determine who are matches through your cousin’s mother, and then pay attention to the one’s that DON’T match them (and if your cousin got a maternal relative – an uncle/aunt or cousin – to test that could help as well, for ruling out purposes). Since your uncle has two unknown parents, there will be two “sets” of families that should likely not relate to each other, finding common ancestors between the sets of matches.

      1. Chris, thanks for your reply. Just to let you know, my cousins are my first cousins via their mother (sister to my father). All that generation are deceased. I have tested and my 3 siblings, so I am pretty certain that these matches referred to above have to be the bio parent/parents of my uncle. It is just trying to determine who exactly. Unfortunately none of the matches are on gedmatch or FtDNA so I can’t see where they match via chromosome which I think would help sort this out. and even though some contact has been made, there hasn’t been follow through/collaboration which would certainly help. I am working on a chart which I hope will help this sorting endeavor, and also hope to open collaboration channels!

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