Sunday, January 18, 2015

Uncle Allen Gives a Spit

I bought my Uncle Allen an DNA kit for his birthday in mid-December. It took exactly a month for his results to come in. Yesterday I had the opportunity to look at the results with him.

Yet again I was dismayed to see how different his ethnic profile was from that of my father's. We know that siblings are not identical twins, that their DNA differs from one another yet when these profiles come back everyone is shocked that their profile isn't exactly the same as their siblings'.

My dad's results say 42% of his DNA is rooted in Great Britain. Uncle Allen's DNA is 54% Great Britain. That's a big difference. How can that be?

Well, it is the recombinant nature of DNA. Yes they each got exactly 50% from each of their parents but they didn't get the same 50%. DNA mixes itself all up each time it forms a sex cell. And that is the only answer to it.

This also means that my uncle had some different matches than my dad. But because they come from the same set of parents, all the matches that my dad has and all the matches that my uncle has are my relatives too. It doesn't matter that my dad didn't match to the same person as my uncle. My uncle could have only gotten that match from one of his parents, who are the same parents of my father, and my grandparents. All of Uncle Allen's matches are my relatives. By taking the test he has widened my research circle.

And widening the circle he has. DNA has this new feature called DNA circles and as soon as I linked my uncle to my family tree, two of these circles popped up - one for James Goodyear and one for Suzanna French-Goodyear; a set of my 4th great grandparents.

What these circles do is group together people who genetically match to the same identified family tree members. Each group currently contain 6 people, 4 of which I administered the test to; me, dad, my sister, and my uncle. One of the other 2 people in the circles is a woman who genetically matches my dad, uncle and sister. The second person is a woman who genetically only matches my uncle. But all of us have this couple, James and Suzanna Goodyear, as direct ancestors.

I reached out to the woman my uncle matches to. I wrote her and said, "Hi, you have a DNA match with my uncle which has put us in the same DNA Circle for James Goodyear and Suzanna French. That makes us 3rd cousins even though we don't genetically match to each other" And she wrote back, "I don't understand how we are third cousins, but don't genetically match."

Again, recombinant nature of DNA. .

James and Suzanna Goodyear lived in Newfoundland. Their daughter, Sophia Goodyear married Elias Earle in 1828. They had a son, Abraham Earle, who is my great-great grandfather. For a while I wasn't sure if Abraham was the son of Elias. I couldn't find any documentation about Abraham's parents. All I had was a handwritten scrap of paper from Abraham's daughter, nothing official.

Without official documentation, I was leery and hesitant about putting Elias in my tree as the father of Abraham but this past summer when I went to Newfoundland I saw that Elias and Abraham's headstones were in the same cemetery.
Cenotaph for Abraham Earle. He died at sea but his wife and some children are buried here.
Headstone for Elias Earle and his wife Sophia Goodyear-Earle. She was the daughter of James Goodyear and Suzanna French-Goodyear.

And not only are Abraham and Elias' families buried in the same small cemetery but they are only 6 feet away from each other.


These images were taken at Hart's Cove Cemetery in Twillingate, Newfoundland; the town where my great grandfather, Abram Earle was born. You can see many Earles are buried there including Elias and Sophia. Sophia being the daughter of  James and Suzanna Goodyear.

Stronger than juxtaposition of grave sites though is genetic matches to other known descendants. As more and more genetic matches appear, the more confident one can be regardless of official documentation.

If Elias were here to spit into a tube we'd know without question that I am a direct descendant but since he is not we can only depend on genetic matches to the living who have put the same people in their family tree. So thank you, Uncle Allen, for giving a spit.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I'm also related to James Goodyear and Susanna French. Wondering if you ever got any leads on Elias Earle's parents? Isn't DNA grand :-)
    Drop me a line