What are my next steps in confirming DNA matching?

+7 votes
What recommendations would you have on confirming or denying the following situation?

My ancestor Nancy Jane Culp is the mother of Alonzo Culp (my great grandfather).

Through good genealogy, we know his father is unknown, and he takes the surname of his mother.  My Aunt (not a genealogist but intelligent) did a family tree of sorts many years ago but did not source her information, she has since passed.  In her tree she has the father's surname listed as Watt?. Questionmark included.  I found another Culp researcher who has his father as a James Watt but she does not remember where she found this information and also has no source info.

I found a couple of James Watt's living in Jefferson County, Ohio who are of the right age, one appears to actually be living in Knox, Jefferson, Ohio in 1850, married and a first child, born in 1849, the same year as my Alonzo.  So circumstances suggest  he is a likely candidate if you accept a dalliance with Nancy Jane at the same time he marries another woman an fathers a child with her.

I recently did a Ancestry.com Autosomal DNA test on my mom and found a DNA match with another woman who has this James Watt in her tree.  His father is a Charles Watt and would be the likely common ancestor.  Charles is from Ireland.

So I have a coincidence of finding a James Watt in the right place of the right age matching the speculation of two unsourced researchers and a DNA match with someone who has this James in their tree and no other apparent common ancestors.  My mom's DNA suggests she is 17% Irish and I have only one other line that is suggestive of being Irish (Nelson).  Of course there are other lines that dead end in the USA  so there could well be other Irish lines.

So what should I do from here?  How do I go about using DNA to help untangle this knot?

Thanks for any help and advice you care to share.
WikiTree profile: Nancy Saltzman
in Genealogy Help by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (409k points)

2 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
Can you find a male direct paternal line descendant of Alonzo Culp to take a Y-DNA test?  His result might match some males in the Watt surname DNA project.

If not, then add the ancesty of the testers (your mother and matching woman) and their GEDMatch IDs to WikiTree.  In GEDmatch look at the segment(s) your mother shares with the other woman who has James Watt ancestry.  GEDmatch has tools to help you find others who match both your mother and her on that same segment.  Then you need to see if those additional people who match also have that James Watt in their ancestry.  If no luck there, you may want to encourage other cousins who descend from Alonzo Culp to also have a Family Finder test and encourage other cousins of the matching woman who descend from James Watt to have a Family Finder test.

Y-DNA testing is much easier.
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (570k points)
edited by Peter Roberts
Thanks Peter.  I had been wondering about the matching segments and how they work.  I had seen comments on the web about this and did not understand how they were working it.  I saw this on Finding Your Roots as well and needed to investigate.  Your explaination is very helpful.
On the hunt for a living male descendent.  See my comments to Erin above.

Michael, what Peter suggested as far as the Family Finder tests (if you can't do Y-DNA testing) is known as triangulation.  The Family Finder tests test autosomal DNA, which is DNA passed down from both men and women.  It's considered to be quite accurate for five generations, although I've made connections with people that are a bit farther back than that.  When you identify the segment you match on a chromosome, you look for others that also match on that segment of that particular chromosome, because by sharing that segment [as long as it's a long enough segment to be considered Identical by Descent (IBD) as opposed to Identical by State (IBS)] it means you all share a common ancestor.  The larger the triangulated group (i.e. the more people you have matching on the same segment of the same chromosome), the better the chance of finding the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).  That's because you'll have multiple gedcoms to review and look for a common ancestor.

DNA is complex, but if you study up on it a bit it's not all that difficult to gain an understanding of the basics of it.  The ISOGG website has a lot of great information on it to help.  You might want to look at this page for starters:  http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Beginners%27_guides_to_genetic_genealogy

Good luck with your research!

Thanks for the info Darlene and I will take that good luck.
((This is for my Stills line not my Culp Line...Sorry, I was not paying attention...again...I really must be getting old, I find my self doing this kind of thing too often these days.))


Peter or anyone who knows.  Should I take the Y-DNA test or should I test my father? Are there any benefits from having my father take it instead of me?  

Note: I am convinced my father is my biological father (I did have an older a half-brother who was adopted by my father).
I'd recommend that your father take a yDNA 37 marker test plus a Family Finder test from FamilyTreeDNA.  For the yDNA it doesn't really matter if you or your father takes it, but having a Family Finder test from one generation back is helpful.  If your mother is still living, it would be good to have her also take a Family Finder test. They're on sale between now and the end of December.

I always recommend testing your parents if they are available.  You can always get yourself tested down the road, but once they're gone -- the're gone!  A generation back wth autosomal (aka Family Finder) gives you more information/matches.

For the Y-DNA test, though, it doesn't matter whether you or your father takes the test.  If you are 100% certain he is in fact your biological father, that is!

Thanks Darlene,

99.9% Certain. If not, then there is a 'whole lot of of 'splaining to be done!' I will be testing my daughter eventally...it could get exciting if she does not match with my father!
Thanks Kay,

Both parents have been done on Ancestry's Autosomal DNA and so will I.  I am likely to get FTDNA's Y-DNA tomorrow. Sale plus addional $10 as a promotional gift from them when I moved my parents over there.  Then to track down Culps, Watts, and Rickers and get Y-DNA from them!
Michael, Once you get your autosomal results be sure to upload all your results to GEDMatch.com.  That way you can compare your results with people who tested at 23andMe and FTDNA also.
You bet,

Mom's is up, Dad's is stuck on Tokenization until GEDMatch get's their servers maintained and updated.

My test kit is on the way.
+4 votes
Does your mother have any living brothers, or do her brothers have sons? Any direct male-line decendant of Alonzo Culp would be the next person to test. (In an ideal situation, you'd also be able to find a proven direct male-line descendant of Charles or James Watt and test him, too.) Even if you get nothing else out of his test, you'll know the Y-Haplogroup associated with Alonzo and his father, and be able to research future matches based on that.
by Erin Breen G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
edited by Erin Breen
Y-DNA, Duh!  I knew this but was deep in the entaglement.  I had a great candidate, my Uncle's son, but just as I reconnected with him and met his family (his daughter is on Ancestry.com now too) he died.  My Uncle (also deceased) only has one other living son (at least we think he is still alive) and tracking him down and convincing him to do a DNA test is extremely unlikely.  I am working on finding male children of Alonzo who have living male descendents.  

Thanks for the knock in the head!

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