Monday, April 16, 2018

DNA Matching at FamilyTreeDNA

I received an email from FamilyTreeDNA last week notifying me of changes that they are offering in their Account Settings. I manage several different kits there and thought I'd take a look at what my settings are.

I did this for all of my accounts on Friday. It's a good idea to review your privacy settings for your online accounts every so often (especially for social media accounts).

At FamilyTreeDNA, under Privacy & Sharing, the first section is "Matching Preferences," where you choose what level of matches you want to see. What you choose here also affects who will be able to see and compare their results with yours.

In the screenshot below, I have added the rest of the sentence that is covered by the informational "balloon."

The choices are:

For my son, I guess I had selected Close & Immediate. What happened is that when I logged in yesterday, I found that he had fewer matches than I expected due to the change I made.

Out of curiosity, I explored what his number of matches would be under each setting.

Level of Sharing Total Matches Paternal Maternal Both
Immediate Only 9 3 5 1
Close & Immediate 12 4 7 1
Distant, Close & Immediate 1,116 889 195 1
All Levels 9,264 4,773 898 3

My comments and observations:
  • Paternal and Maternal matches appear for my son because I have set up a small family tree for him, linking my husband and me to him. FTDNA uses this information to "phase" the tester's results so they can see if a match comes from their father's or their mother's DNA.
  • The 1 "Both" match at the first three levels is his brother, who is also linked to him in his tree.
  • There are many more paternal matches than maternal matches because my husband is Ashkenazic Jewish (endogamy) and I have British Isles and Western European ancestry. (Colonial New England ancestry has some endogamy but not as much as Ashkenazic Jewish.)
  • "All Levels" includes "Speculative" matches. There are enough matches at the Distant, Close & Immediate level of sharing for me to look through (though I doubt I'll ever get to match number 1,116) that I don't need people who match my son as a speculative match to be thinking we can find a common ancestor easily.
I certainly want to find matches, but I don't know as I need to be exploring a possible relationship with a speculative match to my son, especially through my husband, for whom I can only go back a few generations. I will note that for my husband's Family Finder matching settings, at All Levels, he has 14,731 matches, but at Distant, Close & Immediate, he has only 2,522 matches.

I wrote a blog post explaining endogamy at Jewish DNA and Endogamy ~ One Example back in March 2017, when my husband had "only" 9,902 matches.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Segal Family in the New Jersey, State Census, 1905

As I was writing about the Segal / Siegel / Seigle family in New Jersey, I realized that I had never looked for Simche Segal's family in the 1905 state census for New Jersey. State censuses were taken in New Jersey every ten years from 1855 to 1915, and Ancestry recently made more of these records available. Most are also available on (a free website). This is great for finding families who may have moved between the federal censuses taken every ten years in years ending in 0.

In 1895 (see Census Searching) and in 1900 (see More on Simche Segal Family), the family was in Dennis, Cape May County, New Jersey. In 1903, the Borough of Woodbine was incorporated, so the 1905 New Jersey State Census shows that the family lived in Woodbine.

I recently spent some time exploring the 1905 New Jersey state census in Woodbine for my husband's relatives. (These records can be found at both FamilySearch and at Ancestry, though Ancestry had mis-indexed the county for Woodbine - it's Cape May, which was totally missing, not Camden. Yes, I reported this error to Ancestry.)

1905 New Jersey State Census, Cape May County, population schedule, Borough of Woodbine, p. 3B, dwelling 40, family 53, Sam Segal; digital images, ( : accessed 10 February 2018).

I don't know if it was due to a language barrier, but I found many discrepancies between what the 1905 census reported for ages (and some names) and other records.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Half-Sisters and Half-Cousins

As I shared yesterday, I determined the relationship of my husband's newest DNA match and asked her if there were any photographs of ancestors that could be shared here.

Here is the tree I shared yesterday, showing the relationships:

Here are photographs of (on the left) Golda (Segal) Levitt, likely from the early 1950s and (on the right) her younger half-sister, Lena (Segal) Dlugatch in 1983:

And the next generation: on the left is the daughter of Golda, Rose (Levitt) Goldstein, in 1978. On the right are daughters of Lena, Molly and Sylvia, in 1980.

Maybe it needs a little bit of imagination, due to the age and quality of the photographs, but I think these ladies all look related.

Thank you to my husband's third cousin, H.K. and her father for sharing photographs from Lena (Segal) Dlugatch's side of the family.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Analyzing a DNA Match ~ Who is the Common Ancestor

Once I decided that I should be able to determine the common ancestor (also known as the MRCA: Most Recent Common Ancestor) of my husband and Mr. K. (see previous post: Analyzing a DNA Match), I clicked on the envelope icon next to the name of the match and sent an email. In the email I noted that she and my husband had a match in common with the surname Seigle, and I provided my husband's Segal ancestry (which can be seen at Surname Saturday ~ Segal of Ukraine and New Jersey).

H.K. initially replied to my email noting that she had relatives in Wildwood (New Jersey, where Simche Segal died) and a few days later, she emailed again, while at a family barbecue, and was able to tell me that Lena Segal was her great grandmother on her father's side. She also mentioned her grandmother's maiden name as Sylvia Dlugatch.

I then replied to H.K. the following:
Aha! This confirms a theory that I had worked on a couple of years ago. Lena Segal was the daughter of Simche Segal and his second wife, Rebecca (Blume) Katz. It appears that you and my husband are third cousins and your father and my mother-in-law are second cousins.
I find that a family tree diagram helps place distant family members' relationships.

My theory came from finding Lena (Segal) Dlugatch enumerated twice in the 1910 U.S. Census, which confused me and made me unsure if I had the right person.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Analyzing a DNA Match

Last August, an new, unknown DNA match appeared on my husband's AND my mother-in-law's FamilyTreeDNA results with enough shared DNA that I thought I should be able to figure out the relationship.

For the screenshots below, I am narrowed down the results by searching on their common surname (which I am keeping private).

My husband's results:

His mother's results:

This results page shows that they both share a good bit of DNA (shared Centimorgans and Longest Block) with Mr. K and his daughter H.K.

Mr. K and his daughter, H.K. both share a little bit more total DNA with my husband than with his mother. Note that this is endogamy at work: shared Jewish DNA. I find that looking at the longest block (largest DNA segment) is a better way to confirm a relationship; with a longest block of 38 cM or more, that will not be due to endogamy and I should be able to make a good effort at finding the relationship.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Mystery Monday ~ Max and Gussie Levitt's First Child

Way back in the early days of this blog, I shared census records for my husband's great-grandparents, Max Levitt and Golda Segal in Woodbine, New Jersey. (See Mystery Monday ~ Levitts in Woodbine.)

Specifically, in the 1900 U. S. Federal Census for Dennis Township, Cape May County, New Jersey, I found the family of Max Levitt.

1900 U.S. Federal Census, Dennis Township, Cape May County, New Jersey; Roll: T623_960; Page: 18B;
Enumeration District: 113. Record for Max Levitt.

Max Levitt is listed as born in August 1868 in Australia (should be 1857-58 in Austria) and has been married for three years to wife, Rebecca (should be Gussie), who, in this census, was reportedly born in Russia in May 1877. (Her passenger list reports a birth year of 1869.)

The children living with them were Minnie (age 12), Rebecca (age 11), Davis (age 10), and Daniel (age 1, b. Dec 1898). The census indicates that the wife had given birth to one child, who was still living. It is logical that the wife's one child is Daniel and that the three older children were Max's from an earlier marriage.

My mother-in-law doesn't recognize Minnie or Daniel as siblings or half-siblings of her mother, Rose (not born until 1902), but perhaps Daniel died as an infant, so even Rose may not have known about him. (Minnie is still a mystery.) As I have shared previously, in the 1910 census, the family reports that Gussie had given birth to four children, and all four were living, so that makes one-year-old Daniel in the 1900 census even more mysterious.

Since George, the known oldest brother in the family, was not born until November 1900, this 1-year-old boy couldn't be him.

I recently found the New Jersey index to records of births, marriages, and deaths, 1848-1900 online at and I think I have partially solved this mystery. (Note that you do need to be at a Family History Center to view the images for births and deaths.)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

DNA ~ Grandparents and Grandsons

Earlier this year, both of my sons agreed to having their DNA tested. Because my autosomal DNA is primarily British Isles with a little bit of Scandinavia and West and Central Europe, and my husband's DNA is about 96% Ashkenazi, it makes it interesting to view our children's admixture (or ethnicity) results.

I always like to make it clear that with ethnicity results that they are estimates and can vary dramatically depending on the reference populations that the DNA is compared with, as well as the regional definitions used by the DNA testing companies.

In fact, where the majority of my DNA is British Isles with 8% West and Central Europe (according to FamilyTreeDNA), Son#1 shows 48% of West and Central Europe and no British Isles. Son#2 shows 43% West and Central Europe and 11% British Isles. Neither show Scandinavia. (This may have to do with the fact that my first DNA test was with AncestryDNA (in November 2011) and I transferred the raw data to FTDNA, and my sons tested directly with FTDNA.)

Because I have tested three of their four grandparents (my father, who would have been fascinated with all of this, died in 1993), I was able to determine how much DNA each son inherited from each grandparent. (See my parents-in-law ethnicity results as of April 2016 at One Jewish Family's DNA Ethnicity Results; since then, they have changed slightly as FTDNA has updated their database.)