Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Story of Bernadette - Part 7: Making a Grandparent Surname Chart

Grandparent Surname Chart for DNA analysis
After working on several NPE cases as well as DNA cousin research, I have learned the best starting point when tackling DNA results for any person is to begin by identifying the four grandparent lines. This can be done in various ways. For me, the easiest and most efficient method is to build a chart using the specific surnames of each line (assuming you already know these surnames through research). I start by creating four columns with the headings of: Paternal Grandfather, Paternal Grandmother, Maternal Grandfather, and Maternal Grandmother. Under each column I fill in the surnames corresponding to each ancestral line, beginning with the surname of that specific grandparent. If you have already researched and created a family tree that connects to this person’s DNA results, you will most likely have several surnames for each column.

But what happens when you are working with an NPE and their grandparent surnames are unknown? With some of my adoptees, they were brought up by their birth mother (BM). Others have identified the name of their BM through birth or adoption records. For these NPEs, finding the birth father (BF) is the main objective. When I know the identity of the birth mother, it is usually easy to research her parents and family lines. This gives me the ability to fill in half of my chart with possible maternal surnames.

With this information in hand, you have a better chance of identifying the maternal cousin matches contained in an NPEs DNA results by using known surnames. When beginning the sorting process, I normally look at the closest 20 to 30 matches. Once you have positively identified a number of maternal cousins within the closest matches, color code them using Ancestry’s grouping system listed on the right side of each person’s listing.

If you are using a different testing company other than Ancestry and you don’t have the option of color coding, you can achieve the same results by using a spreadsheet and assigning your own color key to each entry. This technique of color coding is somewhat different from the popular Leeds Method created by Dana Leeds that uses color clustering to identify second, third and sometime fourth cousins. You can read more about The Leeds Method here: https://www.danaleeds.com/the-leeds-method/ 

When color coding grandparent lines, I usually designate a “Pink” group for maternal and a “Blue” group for paternal. After color coding the known maternal matches contained in the first 30 closest matches as Pink, the remaining uncoded matches can often be attributed to the paternal side. But it’s generally best not to color code the remaining matches unless you have proof that at least one or more actually belong to the paternal side of your test subject’s ancestry, such as a known surname from their paternal grandparent line. If you are not an NPE and are sure of your cousin identities from both your maternal and paternal lines, go ahead and color code your closest cousin matches accordingly as either “Pink” or “Blue”.

Making a Grandparent Surname Chart


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