A summary of my experience to date:
Family Finder on FtDNA – 38 pages of matches @ ten to a page = 380 matches.
2nd-4th Cousins – Two adoptees, one unresponsive, one confirmed 3rd cousin
3rd-5th Cousins – 17 mysteries, 2 of which are probably connected via Annie McLeod and Prince Edward Island but this is by no means certain.
4th-Remote Cousins – several pages, 23 of which are connected via Annie McLeod and Prince Edward Island and one confirmed 6th cousin via John Burleton and Elizabeth Lush.
5th-Remote Cousins – a few more via Annie McLeod and PEI, but the rest of 29 pages remain mysteries.
Gedmatch – one confirmed 4th cousin via Robert Lockley and Catherine Hingley.
Several more potential connections to whom I have sent emails and about 300 matches where I just don’t have a clue.
At this point, my son’s Family Finder DNA Test came through. It was a big moment! As with mine, FtDNA were still predicting results to come through in 2-3 weeks. I logged into my own kit, clicked on FF matches and realised I had a kit with enough matches for the ‘shared cM’ graphic to take a second to load. Total shared cM 3384 and largest block 267 cM.
Of course, I knew he was coming in but it was still nice to see how a close match looks. I also knew quite well that he was my own son but there’s nothing like scientific confirmation of it. So I logged out of my kit and logged into his to see who he matched.
Not being as wealthy as I was when I purchased my own test, I only had Family Finder results for my son. I had of course researched his tree, but had in places accepted the research of other relatives. One of them I know to be very meticulous so I had not checked, but quite recently I learned that he had done exactly as I had – there was at least one branch of that tree which he had accepted on faith, not being his area of especial interest.
My own family is obscure enough, but at least I had one branch of long term Tasmanians and one branch from New South Wales. Tasmania is a rather quiet and isolated state and not so much in the world. It is expensive to cross Bass Strait and not always a pleasant journey, so for many decades the same families tended to intermarry. For greater variety, someone from the south might marry someone from the north.
As an example – I grew up in the far south, in the Huon Valley. We went to Hobart roughly once a year. Hobart was truly the Big City. Many drivers in my home town had never driven in Hobart and when a roundabout was installed in one southern town in the late 1990s, many many drivers did not know how to use it and confusion reigned supreme! It was quite something.
Growing up down there, I went to Hobart occasionally but Launceston in the north – well, that was just too far to contemplate. 260km – the roads were not too good and there was just no need for a trip like that.
A pity, because the Midlands Highway in Tasmania is an adventure. It’s still one of my favourite drives. Knowing Tasmania’s history as intimately as I know it, I have some idea of how all those towns came about, their reputations, their difficulties and their prides. The old colonial road still exists in places, either beside the current road or in places as part of the walking tracks which can be found throughout Tasmania. You can still see the cobblestones laid by convicts at times and the bridges they made. When I was a child, the old milestones were still there on the road sides, in miles although kilometres as the standard measure came in before I was born. There were also horse troughs and the wrecks of old inns.
This is only partly a digression. Tasmania through my childhood was a place lost in time. This only changed in the late 1990s when so many Tasmanian institutions began to be administrated from the state of Victoria, resulting in a very sudden modernisation – no doubt necessary but I can’t help missing the old pockets where one really did ‘step back in time’. I think that experience also helps me with my family history research.
I am surprised that I don’t have more DNA matches within Australia, but I’m only surprised by the lack of matches on my mother’s side. New South Wales was always bigger, more cosmopolitan, more international. I have not really expected matches on the paternal side. Sarah was a pleasant surprise but of course she had left the state.
My husband’s family are entirely local to Tasmania. His father came from the town of New Norfolk, which was settled very early on in the history of Van Diemen’s Land. His mother’s family came from the northwest, from a little place called Forest which was also established quite early. Between us, with my Huon ancestry, my husband’s New Norfolk side and his Forest/Stanley side, we have most of Tasmania covered.
I expected very few matches and I wasn’t surprised. Well, I tell a lie – there weren’t many but there were actually more than I expected. My son had 16 pages total.
The breakdown was similar to my own: he had a connection to my kit – predicted to be his parent. He had four matches at the 2nd-4th cousin level, and a page and a half of 3rd-5th Cousin matches. The rest were more distant.
Now, I thought my own match situation was bad, but my son’s is even worse. Of his four close cousin matches, one was Jennifer the unresponsive, one was John my 3rd cousin through Annie McLeod, and the two others were clearly on his father’s side. One came with a good gedcom, the other with about three names showing.
I’ll call them Simon and Walter, not their real names. Simon’s tree was as extensive as my own but no match found. What was perhaps worse, the ancestors came from all over the British Isles and all the same counties as my son’s ancestors. More than that – three came from the same little towns, while two more came from Tower Hamlets in London – this tree was like a replica of my son’s but with all different names.
Just to clarify – it isn’t a replica, I’ve located most of Simon’s ancestors in the UK Census and the vital records. They just happen to have all come from the same places. I sent an email.
As for Walter’s – three names and no dates or locations. I emailed him also.
Then I uploaded my son’s tree to Gedmatch and settled in for a good browse through the pages.
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