Need advice on next research steps (break brick wall) with DNA

+1 vote
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I'm trying to break through a brick wall in my Cox family ancestry. I have an account on Ancestry and have taken Ancestry DNA and MyHeritage autosomal DNA tests and Family Tree DNA Y-chromosome tests. I have also done extensive work using Family Search, Ancestry, Find-A-Grave, etc. to build my family tree on Wikitree.

Sadly, the Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA did not match me to anyone else in their database. Most Coxes are haplogroup R1 and and I am I2.

So, I am looking at next steps. Here are some possibilities:

(1)  Upgrade by MyHeritage account to get access to their database and know more about how my DNA matches their are related to me.

(2) Take an autosomal DNA test on 23 and Me, to access to more DNA matches.

(3) Trace the Cox descendants of early Lenoir County, North Carolina (where my great-grandfather was likely from) through means available to me, and contact descendants and ask if they have done a DNA test.

Any other ideas you might have that I might have missed.

Many thanks for any advice you can provide,

Robert Cox, great-great-grandson of George Cox of (most likely Lenoir County) North Carolina, born around 1820.
WikiTree profile: George Cox
in The Tree House by Robert Cox G2G5 (5.5k points)

1 Answer

+1 vote

Not option 2. 23andme is the least useful site for matching autosomal DNA (except for their nifty family tree utility, that will build a tree if your close matches using only DNA data — but that isn’t useful for you for tracing your Cox line).

For 1, your MH test should already give you access to the MH trees of your matches. So what do you mean by “know more about how my DNA matches their are related to me.” I don’t think getting a subscription will tell you more about your matches. Do you have access to the clustering and Theory of Relativity tools with your test? Those are useful.

3 could pay off. You never know. How much work are you willing to do? How patient are you.

Other options: did you get the BigY test, or a cheaper one? The BigY test is the state of the art.

  • How much have you mined your existing data? Everyone has more they can do with the existing data, and some have a surprising amount. 
  • Have you mapped your chromosomes to different ancestors? 
  • Have you checked the common match list with every cousin on your Cox line and figured out how you are related to those common matches? 
  • Have you searched all GEDCOMs at GedMatch and compared your DNA to anyone with Cox ancestors from that part of North Carolina? 
  • Have you investigated every match with Coxes in their trees at Ancestry?
  • Have you built out trees for all of your matches with unknown common ancestry. Nobody has done this for *all* matches, so that’s always a work in progress. It is really time-consuming, but can be really worthwhile.
by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (219k points)
Thanks for filling me in on GEDmatch. But, I'll agree, if everyone goes on there and makes his DNA unviewable to others, there's not much point. I thought the way that Ancestry and MyHeritage worked is that other members could see the ethnicity results and shared matches of other members, but not the raw DNA itself. I am OK with the other members seeing that, I just don't want someone looking at my raw DNA and drawing conclusions about what diseases I might get and the like. I don't want to know about that stuff, and I don't want others (especially large corporations or the government) to know about it either.
But maybe I've messed up, because if the Advanced Tools on MyHeritage include chromosome browsing, I may have leaked that info out by uploading to MyHeritage? What do you think?
GEDMatch doesn’t reveal raw data even if you mark your kit as public. It is “tokenized” when uploaded and there is no way to download it. There are extreme methods that in principle can . use their visual depictions of one-to-one matches to determine some of your raw data. But someone would need to be expert and spend a lot of time to do that. If you’re worried to that level, then you should be just as worried about a hacker accessing Ancestry’s systems and getting the raw data.

I wouldn’t say “most people make kits unviewable to others.” Most people don’t have that degree of concern. It’s just that most people don’t know about the site or have the inclination to put a kit there for additional matches. I’ve gotten good use out of the site myself.
You are concerned about a chromosome browser? But you tested at MyHeritage, so anyone match with the advanced tool access could already have used the chromosome browser to compare with your results. But I don’t know what the concern is. You can’t glean information about raw data from a few comparisons made with a chromosome browser.
Will, that's good. You make a good point about the chromosome browser. I don't know much about how people  use DNA to determine a genetic predisposition to diseases, but I had heard that some diseases are directly linked to a chromosomal mutation, so I had thought that might be something you could see with a chromosome browser. If you can't, all the better.

My concern about GEDmatch was that I heard that crimefighters has used GEDmatch to locate criminals by matching DNA. I was told that this was a problem with GEDmatch that was not an issue with Ancestry and MyHeritage,because those latter two kept this info somehow private.

Sure, there are people, like some relatives of mine, for whom I offered to pay for Ancestry testing so I could more potential matches, but they refused. They told me that they don't want the chance that someone could hack into the DNA databases or that some unscrupulous employee of these companies might sell the info, or that the government (i.e. FBI) might secretly demand access to the info. I agree, these things COULD happen. I'm just looking for a good faith effort on the companies behalf.
The biggest advantages to GEDmatch: you can compare people who tested at different companies, and you can compare kits that you don’t personally manage. If you can convince Cox descendants who tested at various sites to upload to GEDmatch, you could then run all the comparisons you want between their kits. So if someone isn’t very experienced, you don’t have to be asking them repeatedly to look at various matches and tell you what they see. Also, if you are in a triangle of mutual 4th cousins say, and you happen not to be a match to one of them, you can still learn about their kit through the “kits in common” tool. On Ancestry or the like, you may never learn about that cousin because there is simply no way to see a kit you don’t match — not in your main match list and and not in a shared matches list.
I wanted to also ask you about the Big Y test, I took the Y-67 test. Not the cheapest, but the next one up. I thought that if I didn't get any matches with Y-67, I wouldn't get any matches with a more detailed test either. What am I missing?

I had no matches at 37 markers, but had a few at 111 markers. That's not super common, but it does happen. But those matches aren't close enough to be useful, and that is probably what would happen if you did get more matches.

The main advantage to BigY is that it tests SNPs. There are two kinds of markers tested on the Y-chromosome: STRs and SNPs. The 37-, 67- and 111-tests only test STRs. You can learn more from SNPs, if you are lucky. In any case, your closest matches may well be different with SNPs versus STRs. You can buy individual SNP packs that test only a few SNPs, but I think it makes more sense to go the full monty and get the BigY rather than some SNP packs. You'll get your terminal SNP, which, if you're lucky, will place you low enough on the Y-chromosome phylogenetic tree to be useful. You'll also get private variants, which hopefully someday will turn into named variants that place you on even more specific branches of the tree.

Thanks again, Barry Smith! MyHeritage acknowledged receipt of my Ancestry test, and I was able to purchase the use of the tool kit on that test for $29. So, it looks like I may find some new relatives, even though a lot of people test at both MyHeritage and Ancestry. In my case, Ancestry gave me more quality matches (higher centiMorgan counts with associated family trees). The one place where MyHeritage is better is on people from foreign countries (outside the USA). They seem to have done more outreach there, and their base price is lower, which may help overseas.

A key confusion for me is that the use of the MyHeritage Advanced Tools for $29 covers ONLY the Ancestry test that I uploaded and not the MyHeritage test that I took last year. It is important to select the right kit when you use the Advanced Tools in this case, or you won't get access to them. There is a drop down menu on the DNA Overview page for this.
Cool, glad it worked out. It is very strange that they cause such difficulties for people who actually test with them.

I am 1/8 Swiss, and MyHeritage has been *the* site for helping me identify Swiss matches. They are definitely known as the international site.

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