Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 in the Rear View

I really couldn't have expected how 2020 was going to play out. Here at the end I took some time to post on things that fell by the wayside and look back. 

I did have postings in 2020  about the Baker family and their research into DYS458.2 minus DF95 men. I had some discussions particularly around R-ZP125 and my rough age estimates and I got to post some ideas and analysis from others.  

I now have Big Y 700 results for my "R-U152 Thompson" cousins in Indiana and the big Y 700 results from our friend Jensen in Denmark. The results from the Thompsons and Jensen just squeaked into 2020, even though they arrived months ago. 

Here is a link to the year in posts: 

I finished up my final course this semester and have earned that bachelor's degree. I spent the early hours this morning writing a bit about how the year went and where I'm at. 

With Big Y kits for the Indiana Thompsons and Jensen I feel like I'm tying up loose ends and keeping old promises. 

I spent some time reflecting on social media and my lack of participation. Participation is everything if you want the latest and greatest information from DNA groups so I'm definitely lagging behind, but the personal toll of Facebook was great enough that I don't regret leaving it. 

At this point, I consider myself lucky to be employed and to have food and shelter, and to have largely been left alone by Covid 19. My year has been busier on lockdown than expected but definitely not as horrific as it has been for my neighbors and some of my co-workers.

What is coming in the new year?

I'll continue to help people who ask questions about DNA testing or have connections they find here and on my wandering trees site or at 

I have some new results from the Elmers that open up another known genealogical SNP associated with an ancestor on their branch of the Elmer tree. I've got an Elmer Big Y in the works and I also have two of my personal SNPs posted at YSEQ and may ask some of the lost Elmer sheep in New York to try them out to see if maybe they're related to me somehow.

I could get the Thompson's private Y SNPs testable at YSEQ. 

I could always resort to letter writing to Elmers in England or Thompsons in Butler Pennsylvania to see if I could recruit testers. I've heard that writing letters is better than digital communications. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Picking up where I left off

After losing my wordpress site, restoring it and fixing it, I decided to make a list of the things I meant to post about over the year or more where I fell off the map. I also bastardized the traditional "Thompson" crest switching the hawks for the cornish choughs from the "Elmer" crest of the Bishop John Aylmer family. The Scots groups I have belonged to call this "differencing".

Here is my starter/apology post for 2019:

Then I took some time over the Christmas break to catch up on a few of the things in that list.

In December, I explored my MTDNA results. They didn't answer any questions but led to research into just how far I could go with records to find my all mother. Finished up a piece on James Walsworth Elmore (his parentage is squishy on records if genetically in the right direction). I talked about Ancestry Thru Lines and the interesting and sometimes dangerous directions that can take you. I explored what it means to be a family, or now a shirttail cousin to my aunt's genetic family and I explored some of my Big Y 700 results.

January was a continuation of Big Y 700 in three posts where I'm thinking about the ever-widening circle of relatives and deeper time to my matching relatives.

I expect my next posts to be about the Baker family and their research into DYS458.2 minus DF95 men, a rebuttal to some of my big Y 700 conclusions, the Big Y 700 results of my "R-U152 Thompson" cousins in Indiana and the big Y 700 results from our friend Jensen in Denmark.

At the moment, seeking a bachelors degree and writing multiple APA style papers each week is burning into my writing time or I would probably have a little more to show.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The continuing saga Thompsons, Elmers and people from Quebec

I've been using Wordpress for about 3 years now and it's still an expense. One of my underlying worries with the blogger site was that as a free service it is always a candidate for the chopping block and I could lose years of work. The irony is that this year, I lost my wordpress site and had to restore from backups leaving a trail of broken images throughout my site.

Heavy sigh.

I've restored it and thought I should make an update on what has happened since I checked out in late 2016.

I explored how everyone has two family trees (a genetic tree and a paper tree):

I considered possible genetic ties to the Normans in January 2017:

In April 2017, I rediscovered the joy of a hobby rather than the second job I took marching through DNA results and infernal machines:

In July, the Elmer group was able to triangulate Y SNPs within the branches of the Elmer family and assign some SNPs to known ancestors in the family tree beneath Ed Elmer. I also took some time to try to research and identify with Ed and Mary who, as puritans, I had found it hard to connect with.

In August 2017, I got down to some analysis of Ed Elmer as a regular person, his standing in the community and likely position in the hierarchy of society to get a gauge on what I should look for in British records and what station his family may have held in the homeland:

In September, my aunt Cheryl died. Although I had communicated about her paternal family, the best evidence of her place in the Roberts family tree came in after she was gone:

In February 2018, I had another Carr family member pop up in our matches reinforcing previous work with the Carr family.

July of 2018 had me thinking about Y DNA and cultural affiliation or appreciation.

Since I'm posting this near the end of 2019, I should say that I feel there is a backlog of information I could post, but haven't. In late 2018 I went back to school to get my bachelors degree and that has consumed a lot of the time I would normally spend on genealogy. New discoveries and reinforcements continue to roll in but I haven't seen the time to organize my thoughts and post about them.

It is sort of amazing to me that 9 years have passed since I started keeping these online diaries of my family search and that there are still puzzles to solve.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Own Domain

I work in IT and for the most part, we've done all our own hosting. In the last few years though we've run into the need for some wordpress hosting and also the pain of administering those systems alongside all the other servers we have. I was tasked with finding some external wordpress hosting and decided that if I was going to do it right, I would have to try it out.

So, I've got a wordpress site now that I've been working on. Although I've had zero real issues with Blogger and have enjoyed the excellent (and free) service, I've decided to try to transfer this blog over to wordpress and my own domain. I've got years worth of documenting the journey here, so it's no small task. It's been a fun learning experience though.

At this point, I'm kind of living in two worlds. I'm definitely more comfortable with blogger and I find the interface for posting much easier, but that is probably my  bias speaking. We'll see how it goes. I may be doing it wrong, because I keep trying to make it's layout like a wider version of this site.

My new site is

I'm working my way through my posts reformatting and getting images resized. One of the things I like about it is that I picked a more roomy theme so many of my images (usually charts and spreadsheets) won't need to be clicked to view. That and there are some built in tools to get your blogger site into wordpress (with some quirks).

What I don't like about my wordpress test: spam from the comments. Lots of it. Immediately. I moderate the comments but robots don't know that. So I ended up getting akismet for it. Where blogger seems to have more features built in, wordpress has a host of plugins to download (and/or buy).

It will take some getting used to.

- Updates -

If you've read the rest of the internet and/or feel like following more of the ramblings you've found here, I'll post a few cross links over to the wordpress site.

In November 2015, I got the results back from AncestryDNA autosomal results for both myself and my wife and found an odd warm place in my heart for Ancestry's operation. I updated some things I learned about the DF95 Cumberland Cluster and added some more speculation. I also just came out and stated the obvious about my Elmore family.

In December 2015, I received Y37 results for the U152 Thompsons and found some interesting matches for them, that might give me direction on the elusive Levi Thompson. I found a surprise Elmore related result at AncestryDNA at a close cousinship level and discovered a cold clammy place in my heart for Ancestry's operation. I also began to enter the darker places and explored the strange world of genealogical conspiracy.

In January I ended my rant on the things that conspire to keep us from our information. I confirmed the U152 Thompson haplogroup and used a Family Tree DNA backbone panel to identify their subclade in U152. I rediscovered the joy in researching the Thompsons and tromping on familiar ground and I talked a bit about the hidden branches of the DF95 Cumberland Cluster.

February has me contemplating time and meaning and how we stretch and compress these things to match our view of ourselves when presented with DNA evidence.

In March I finished up a series of posts about being locked in to our ideas of ourselves and manipulating the data to match what we already think. Of course if you've seen my posts here you know I am definitely guilty of that too.

May 2016 is a big month for me. In May I sort out my ancestryDNA Elmore match, break through some brick walls, connect a previously unknown Elmore son to the family of Halsey Orton Elmore and finally see the dark matter holding the Elmores and Thompsons together.

June 2016. I added a post about the Carr family. A triangulation group I tried to put together about a year ago, but didn't quite succeed. Now with the discovery of my Elmore/Carr family, those matches make a lot of sense if not a successful triangulation.

July 2016. I have the opportunity to do more work with the U152 Thompsons and AncestryDNA is living up to the hype as far as getting new matches goes. Getting triangulated matches is still a struggle though as I find that more of my matches do not attach trees, have hidden trees and do not respond to contacts.

August 2016. I spent some time on DF95 and our Y DNA island in time. I talked about Y DNA extinction events and trying to get dates around those events using SNPs. I also posted about Alex Williamson's big tree and his work connecting the lonely DF95 branch to another group under Z18, giving us a common male ancestor after Z18 and a sibling group of men who used to be their own island.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Autosomal DNA...heavy sigh...I'm kind of tired

This is one of those Downers. 

If you're having a bum time with ATDNA and looking for a motivational post, then this is not it.

Having put ATDNA on the back burner for a couple of months, I decided to unsub from one of my favorite groups the DNA Newbie yahoo group. Likely not a permanent situation, I just wasn't really following it and any input I gave seemed to be negative..or at least not helpful. An ongoing discussion about the validity of segment lengths and triangulated groups was also just feeding the overall depression surrounding my lack of meaningful progress.

Since I got my results back from 23 and me in May of 2011, I've had my dad, his sister, a paternal first cousin one time removed and a paternal second cousin tested there, and a possible paternal third cousin 1x removed tested at  Along with those came individual tests from the maternal side of my dad's family; a second cousin one time removed, two second cousins and a first cousin one time removed.

What did I get?


  • My Y haplogroup was confirmed. 
  • The maternal second cousin 1x removed proved our relationship to Myron Beadle and Ellen Hathaway. 
  • The maternal first cousin 1x removed and Seelye second cousins, proved relationships to the Seelye family and provided a great way to juxtapose their results with the unknowns in my dad's DNA.
  • We picked up one known relative of Daniel Abbe and Esther Nunn in my dad's maternal family and the segments did later prove to be maternal.
  • The paternal first cousin 1x removed proved a relationship to the Finks family and covered a lot of segments which I had suspected were paternal based on mismatches with my dad's Seelye/Beadle relatives. 
  • The paternal second cousin testing showed that we weren't related to our Thompson cousins which lined up with the Y DNA evidence we had. Not what I was hoping for, but it's a return on investment.
  • The 3rd cousin range paternal person gave us hope of connecting to the correct Elmore family tree. 
  • I got a triangulated paternal group connected to the Bolton family of Thomas Bolton and Jemima Hammack. I don't know how we connect, but it seems very likely that we do and that it's through my grandfather's family.
  • We found out that my aunt is my dad's half sister. Not shocking since she had figured it out quite some time ago, but still it put a big mystery to bed.
  • We found a triangulated group that connected her paternal family to the Robar/Robert family from Quebec. 
  • My aunt also has a whopping good match (maybe at the second cousin level) with someone from the Winters family from Iron Mountain Michigan. That is not a family that my dad is connected to. So that is our best lead on her paternal family. Somewhere, I need to connect someone in the extended Winters family to someone in the Robert family.
  • In my own autosomal results, I matched very well with someone related to my maternal Hutchinson great grandfather's sister Nina Hutchinson. The match was big enough and close enough that I haven't worried much about triangulating it.
I count those as my "wins". Most of them were hard fought and took a lot of time and patience. 

What didn't I get?

Seelyes, Beadles and Campbells.

Well, truthfully I haven't put a lot of effort into the Seelye/Beadle side of things. I'm not one of the major researchers on those families. I've focused on my Thompson and Finks families. Still though it is a minor disappointment that I didn't pick up anything I don't already know. The people tested are very obviously related to me in a time frame that we might see each other at a family reunion. Although we have some tantalizing clues to possible genetic relatives that migh break boundaries, my side of the genetic family has so many unknowns that it's hard to apply our results back to the rest of the family. So for all the testing, we're still stuck at the same brick walls and results from my branch of the family are sidelined.

Finks, Michell, McQueen, Jeffries

DNA testing in our Finks family shows that my dad and I are related to my grandfather's maternal first cousin. Great, because that means my grandfather is related to his mom. Unfortunately, only two shared matches (in all of her shared segments) line up with a known family. 

The McQueens. Our ties to them are documented, but not where it counts. With this single DNA match, that I've not been able to triangulate with any other overlapping matches and our documentation of a direct genetic relationship relying on a "county history" our connection is rightly (if disappointingly) disputed.

The Jeffries. One 9cM match nestled among much larger matches has a tree that runs back to the 1600s and our Jeffries family. The trouble is, none of the other matches (including the 26cM match in that spot) have anything of the sort. Their trees are either stunted or non-existant and none seem to share that same family. So although it continues to pass every test, I can't prove it with any other match.

Thompson, Williamson, Elmore
The Thompson and Williamson connection is a wash, but it was also kind of inconclusive. I have a lot of evidence that says we're not Thompsons and that we're not related to the Thompsons and Williamsons, but what it really boils down to is that I can truthfully say my grandfather was not related to his uncle Francis Thompson. No more than that. So while it would be unthinkable that we're Thompsons, it's not impossible. I would have to do everything I've done with my dad's results with our Thompson cousin's results. I just don't have the access to their autosomal DNA right now. I can show that we're not related and that we're not Thompsons, but I haven't yet shown that they are Thompsons either. Given my track record with autosomal DNA so far, I think I'll likely turn to Y DNA again for clues to their paternal family, and follow up on their Y results which promise to be more fruitful. 

The Elmores. I've got Y DNA matches all over the place with the Elmers and Elmores, but only back to the late 1600s. Autosomally, I can say I don't match any of the Elmers tested so far except for the one Elmore I recruited myself. Their result is exciting, but inconclusive. They don't share enough segments to be very close. Only one of the segments is show to be paternal, the other is unknown and neither of them triangulate to any known relative in the Elmore family. Of note though, they do match some people who are relatives of our Finks family. Along those lines they do run back to Virginia and the Fishbach family which is connected to Germanna like the Finks. Leaving open the possibility that, what I hope is a straight Elmore autosomal match, is really a match to the Finks family paired with a connection to a grab bag of other known relatives.

The Boltons

My stand out family. The one where it really worked. 10cM or better matches with the same set of ancestors. The same family appearing in trees from other chromosomes. Awesome! Now what? How do we get from Charles Thompson 1925 back to the 1750s to meet up with these Boltons? Dear God. Do you know how many descendants they have? It must be half of Kentucky. So while, I'm very proud of the accomplishment, I am no closer to figuring out how they might be related..I'm just very certain that they are.

For My Aunt

Once you show that someone is a half sister, the next question they're going to want to know is. What is my last name?

My aunt wanted to know if she had any sisters (she grew up in a family of boys). She wanted some basic information. Just the stuff we take for granted. To compound the issue, my grandmother refused to tell her who her father was, her uncle refused to let us use his test results for comparison and she is dying from kidney disease.

It is at this point that the normal things you deal with in genetic genealogy become overwhelming. 23 and me requires participation for anything, FTDNA requires contact to clearly triangulate and is a black box that doesn't offer up any clues beyond a basic match list and a bunch of people who can't or won't share their family trees.

So far in helping my aunt, I've had the usual group of friendly people who don't know much about their families or ATDNA. I appreciate them a lot, but in the mix, I've also been lied to, misdirected, denied, and ignored.

All those things are also things I've dealt with when working on my dad's results, but when you're working under a time limit with a person who is dying, having to tackle the bulk of crappy human interactions can really bring you down.

People don't always get into genealogy because they want to share and grow. Some people want to hoard their precious and will do or be whatever it takes to make that happen. They want your help and information, but they don't want to give anything in return. Now, take that natural bias towards helping yourself and add something fishy like a woman who doesn't know who her father is...and he is somehow related to you. Well that kind of thing might threaten the precious. We can't have that.

So, with a non-communicative 2nd cousin at 23 and me, and multiple 3rd and beyond cousins who exemplifying the worst behavior in genetic genealogy, how much progress can be made? It's difficult under the best of circumstances, but just grindingly painful when you have to get around these people to get the information you need.

Setting it Down

For the moment. I need to take a break. It's painful to keep running into the same walls. To have to keep performing the same task over and over and to have to keep playing a weird game of poker with people to get useful information. 

It's draining and I'm not getting anywhere. Compared to the Y results and work I've done, autosomal DNA has done little more than show me what I already know...or shown me that I don't know..but has been light on answers.

I blame myself for letting it get me down and for not picking back up and running. I blame human nature for making people total turds sometimes. I blame the companies for willfully putting impediments in the way so that even people who weren't turds end up as defacto turds by product design. I blame the technology and a lack of clearly defined standards.

All of those things have come together to make ATDNA a grinding experience. I've put in a lot of effort and I've gotten some returns, but I've also chased a lot more geese than I needed to. I don't think I have very much to show for the time put in. 

So I'm going to let it go for a while and see what transpires while I'm away. I don't think I've hit the limit of what ATDNA can do, but I feel like I've hit my limit for running in the hamster wheel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Elmer A2284 and Unexpected Outcomes

Continuing from Big Y and the Dreaded No Call and Adventures in Big Y and YSEQ

The quick recap:

We're attempting to use the Big Y results from two Elmers whose most recent common ancestor is Edward Elmer 1610. Each of our testers is related to a different son of Edward. R1 is related to Samuel and L2 is related to Edward 1654.

When our results for R1 came in, it appeared that A2281 would be a divider for the group, but then we learned it was a "no call". Which, if I'm remembering correctly means it couldn't be determined whether it was positive or negative. A2281 had no calls throughout the big Y results. We could assume a positive based on the results of the other Elmers, but we want to be sure because we're down to the nitty gritty now.

Where are we now:

We're currently waiting for verification of A2281 for our Edward Elmer pillar tester "L2".

The second question about the results was, "is A2284 a real negative for R1 or is it also a no call?"

Here is a refresher for the results we have so far:

While we wait for the results for A2281 and L2, we asked to have the big Y results for R1 analyzed by one of the gurus at U106 to see if A2284 was really a solid negative. No one had a no call listed for that SNP, but again, we are down to the end of the Big Y race and we don't want to leave it to chance.

The answer we got was that it is a solid negative. That places A2284 on L2's side of the family under Edward Elmer 1654. For us, that rewrites the tree a little from what we were expecting.

Based on STRs and a genetic distance of 0, we placed M1 under Samuel with R1. They are a perfect Y37 match where as L2 and I are more similar to each other carrying a common STR mutation away from the other Elmers.

My own research leads me to believe that L2 and I share Edward 1654's son Hezekiah as our most recent common ancestor. So I was happy to see the shared STR mutation. What does it mean now that we know M1, who doesn't carry our STR mutation, does carry an SNP (A2284) in common?

I think it's reasonable to think that M1 shares a common ancestor with us after Edward Elmer 1610, but branches off before the common ancestor shared by L2 and me.

We're not talking about a lot of generations here. Edward 1610 is the root and I hypothesize that L2 and I share his grandson Hezekiah. That would leave M1 branching off at his son Edward 1654. It would also assign our STR mutation to Hezekiah. Pretty tight timing.

M1's Y37 haplotype best matches someone in another branch of the Elmer tree. I think that means they likely best represent the Y37 signature of Edward Elmer himself.  We've called them "Elmer Normal" for some time because we all seem to be a variation of their theme. Now that we have them descending from different sons, it seems we were on the right track with that designation.

In Adventures in Big Y, I put a bit in about expecting the unexpected and put up a tree with some results that were fairly different. Now that all the big Y tests are in. I have a slightly different, but still unexpected tree in mind.

For the record, here is what we thought we would find:

Here is what I think our best Y STR and SNP evidence (plus some family tree speculation on my part) shows for the time being:

Since M1 being closer to L2 came as a surprise, I've made L1 and R1 tentative companions under Samuel with a grey box. We'll know more about L1 when his YSEQ results come in.

We've effectively defined Edward Elmer 1610 SNPs and A2284 is not in them. We've also shown that R1 and L2 share several SNPs beyond the Knowlton/Elmer common ancestor. Those have become Elmer private SNPs for the time being, with the Knowlton family currently sharing the most recent common ancestor with the Elmers estimated around 1030 AD.

Now I am very curious about the SNPs for G1. it would be nice to have that third branch be the confirmation for these "Elmer" SNPs. I'm also eager to take them back to England and recruit Elmer, Elmore and Aylmer testers.

Update 8/27/2015

Results are in for L1 and he is A2284 positive as well. This puts him under Ed2 also along with his Y37 0 GD match M1. To me this is yet more evidence that these men (M1, L1 and R1) represent "Normal Elmer" and are most likely the haplotype of Ed Elmer 1610 himself. 

Here is a revised family tree with the new placements. In this graphic I've assigned the Elmer/Elmore kit numbers from FTDNA for reference. This mimics the results page on the Ed Elmer site. I apologize for the confusion. 

  • JME N83174 is M1 
  • L 272763 is L1 
  • M T B2769 is me, Mike Thompson
  • E L 369990 is L2 
  • G 344982 is G1 
  • R 364027 is R1 

Update 9/20/2015

The "no call" on A2281 for kit 369990 (alternately L2) has been resolved. He is positive for that like all the other Elmers. The question remains whether the Knowlton no call for that same SNP is really a positive or negative.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Big Y and a dreaded "No Call"

We've gotten the results from our second big Y Elmer testing pillar and...we have a problem. For a look at what we've been attempting to do see Adventures in Big Y and YSEQ and my partial return from YSEQ.

What could possibly be the problem? Okay, based on our YSTR testing, this is the breakdown we expect:

In that picture R1 and L2 are our known good trees. We want to find out where they match (which is important to identifying SNPs for Edward Elmer) but also where they mismatch (which is important to placing all the other men except G1 there).

So we're triangulating the Y SNPs.

L2 and M1 were tested first. M1 is an unknown. We're not sure whose line he's on, but we suspect Samuel Elmer because of his close STR match to R1.

This is basically where things stand with testers today:

At first, we only had M1 and L2. M1 had A2281 and L2 did not. Then R1 came along and he had A2281. Bonus. Things are lining up the way we thought, M1 and R1 have one SNP in common that L2 does not. So M1 and R1 are more closely related.

Enter confusion. M1 also has A2284 in common with L2. R1 does not have that. How can M1 carry one SNP from each branch of the family that the other branch does not have?

Then I noticed that L2's slot for A2281 was designated a "no call" which just means, nothing was returned. Not a negative, not a positive..just nothing.

Okay, so is A2284 a no call for R1 or is it a negative?

What is swinging in the balance is a big part of the reason we ran Big Y tests. We want to know which side M1 is on. 

If L2's no call turns out to be a positive for A2281, then it's another SNP shared by all the Elmers. If R1's missing entry for A2284 is a real negative, then that SNP is not shared by all Elmers and belongs to L2's family. That would rewrite the tree above for M1. He would be with me and L2. 

If L2's A2281 is a real negative and A2284 ends up positive for R1 then A2281 will be the SNP to watch and belongs on R1's line. That would rewrite the tree above and put me on R1's line instead of L2's. 

If both are positive, then we have a nice list of Ed Elmer's SNPs, but not much sorting closer to home can take place for M1...and possibly for me. 

Update 9/20/2015

The "no call" on A2281 for kit 369990 (aka L2) has been resolved. He is positive for A2281 like all the other Elmers. The question remains whether the Knowlton no call for that same SNP is really a positive or negative.