I’d Like to Meet… a miscellany, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #6

Prompt for 2019, week 4 — I’d Like to Meet…

Just as an aside, since I started the 52 Ancestors prompt series back in October, I’m off kilter with the “official” 2019 calendar, and mixing / matching prompts from this year and last year. 

The current week’s prompt led me to realize that I don’t have just one ancestor I’d like to meet.  It’s a cop-out, though, to say I want to meet them all (although, of course, I would — back through the mists of time), so I’ll list just a few back through the generations and why I’d particularly like to meet them.

  1. Elizabeth (Holst) Diamantini,  my maternal grandmother.  I wrote about her here.  The reason I want to meet her is the most basic — of my 4 grandparents, she is the one I never knew.  My mother barely knew her either, given that my mother was just a toddler when my grandmother died.  It’s fair to say that my foray into genealogy started here — trying to answer questions I had, and my mother herself had.
  2. Eileen (Houlihan) Colbert, my paternal great-grandmother.  She died in 1911[1], the first of my great-grandparents to die.  She was only 34 years old at her death in San Francisco, and was a native of Athea, Co. Limerick, Ireland[2].  She left behind a sorrowing husband, and four children (three daughters and a son) all of whom were under the age of ten.  Eileen was my dad’s own maternal grandmother; his mother, like my own, was a toddler when her mother died. 
    Thus my reasons for wanting to meet Eileen mirror my reasons for wanting to meet Elizabeth.
  3. Caterina (Cammoranesi) Bolognesi, born ca. 1847 likely in Ascoli, Ascoli Piceno, Marche, Italy, died ca. 1915 in the same place[3].  She is one of my eight great-great grandmothers.  Why do I want to meet her?  Because she is only a name and approximate birth date and death date.  I know nothing of her at all, have no photo, don’t know her parents or her siblings.  I do not know anything about her life, or life in general for residents, in the province of Marche in the 19th century.  Without any “flesh” she is barely even “bones” to me.  Yet she and I share a name, although I was not named for her.
  4. My 3rd great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Copple (born ca. 1829 Washington County, Indiana – died 1911 Yavapai County, Arizona)[4].  Ben married Phoebe Harvey in 1851 in Jasper County, Missouri[5], and they moved west to California by 1861, the parents of four (possibly five) daughters.  Phoebe died, apparently in childbirth, and Ben ditched his girls, leaving them to be raised by strangers in and around Healdsburg, Sonoma, California.  Ben hung out in Mendocino County (adjacent to Sonoma County to the north) for about a decade and then headed down to Arizona, where he lived out his life in and around Cornville, Prescott and Sedona.  He married again[6], and had 3 sons[7]
    I would like to meet him to better understand why he made the choices he did.  As tempting as it is for me, in 2019, to think of him as abandoning his girls, I know times and mores were different back then.  And I’ve found some leads (through Healdsburg-area newspapers) that seem to point to his daughters having some contact with him[8], at least in their adult years.
  5. My 4th great-grandmother, Margaret (Blalock) Copple (born ca. 1810 in Kentucky, died 1892 in Jasper County or Newton County, Missouri)[9].  Margaret was the mother of Ben Franklin Copple and his younger siblings.  But that’s not why I want to meet her.  When I was researching Jacob Copple, her husband, and reading through the records of his probate, it made me tear up to see the pitiful little she owned, priced to sell to pay for Jacob’s farm debts[10].  Jacob died in 1871; what kind of life did Margaret led after his death, and after administering his estate — he left no will — and selling what she owned for the benefit of Jacob’s creditors?  Her two eldest sons were in California at the time; neither returned home to Missouri again.  Her siblings were either deceased or still in Indiana.  Her only kindred around her at such a tough time seems to have been her children and grandchildren.  I hope they brought her some comfort.
  6. My 5th great-grandfather, Philip Copple, father of Jacob and grandfather of Ben Franklin Copple.  He was born in North Carolina, probably in Rowan County or Randolph County[11].  He married Anna Patsy [Patsy Anne?  Martha Ann?] Wright in Wayne County, Kentucky[12], and later moved to Washington County, Indiana probably by 1812 with many of his own Copple kin, as well as his wife’s family.  Philip’s in-laws are famous today as southern Indiana 19th century preachers, in particular his brother-in-law John Wright.  Philip was reportedly a preacher too.  I would like to meet him and ask him about his religious beliefs, listen to his preaching (assuming he was a preacher), as well as ask him about his own family (to see if I’ve gotten the relationships correct, as there are multiple Philip Copples in Washington County, Indiana in the early 19th century — and multiple Jacobs, Barbaras, Margarets, etc.)  Are my facts straight?

So, I could go on up a few generations, but I’ll leave off with these six ancestors for now.  Ask me on a different day and you’ll probably get a completely different answer!

What about you?  Which ancestor or ancestors would you most like to meet?

[1] California Department of Health Services, death certificate state file no. 11-034498, Ellien [Eileen or Helen] Colbert (1911); Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, Sacramento.

[2] Church baptismal record for Helen Houlihan, 24 Mar 1877, church not named, Parish: Athea, County: Limerick, Father: Charles Houlihan; online transcriptions (http://limerick.rootsireland.ie : accessed 27 Sep 2012).

[3] See Cathy Dempsey (cathymd) “DNA_Direct Ancestors” tree, Ancestry.com.

[4] “Arizona, County Coroner and Death Records, 1881-1971”, Benjamin Franklin Copple, death date: 7 July 1911;Ancestry.com, digital database (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60874 : accessed 15 August 2017) > Yavapai > Death > 1865-1928.  Note that date of birth conflicts with censuses during Ben’s lifetime (1840 – 1910) which gave an approximate birthdate of 1832.

[5] “Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002,” Franklin Copple and Plebe [Phebe] Harvy, 21 Dec 1851; database with images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1171 : accessed 13 June 2016) > Jasper > Record Images for Jasper > 1841-1874 > img 122.

[6] “Arizona, County Marriage Records, 1865-1972,” Benjamin Franklin Copple and Marena [Marova] Jane Johnston, 28 May 1880; database with images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60873 : accessed 13 June 2016) > Yavapai > Marriage Records, Index, 1871-1928 > img 1426.

[7] “Summons 16967 in the Superior Court of Arizona, County of Yavapai”, Prescott Evening Courier (Prescott Arizona), 26 June 1947, p 15:4; digital images, Google News (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=MNNNGtAgD4EC&dat=19470626&printsec=frontpage&hl=en : accessed 21 Aug 2014).

[8] “B.F. Copple and son Bert Copple, ” Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar  (Healdsburg, California), 10 September 1908, page 2, column 2; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, (http://cdnc.ucr.edu : accessed 30 October 2018).

[9] Find A Grave, database (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 January 2017), memorial page for Margaret Blalock Copple (1809-1892), no. 91276187, citing Fidelity Cemetery, Fidelity, Jasper County, Missouri, USA; created and maintained by Dona (Wilcox) Cupp (contributor 46971570).  Margaret was buried in Jasper County, Missouri, but was living in Newton County as of the 1880 census enumeration.  See:  1880 U.S. census, Newton County, Missouri, population schedule, Enumeration District 98, Marion Township, (handwritten) page 12D, (stamped) page 398, dwelling 102, family 108, Margaret Coppy [Copple] household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6742 : accessed 29 October 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T9, roll 705.

[10] “Missouri, Wills and Probate Records, 1766-1988”, estate of Jacob Copple, file 475, Newton County, Missouri; digital database, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9071 : accessed 20 October 2017) > Newton > Probate Case Files, No 450-485 > imgs 940-981.

[11] Find A Grave, database (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 January 2017), memorial page for Margaret Blalock Copple (1809-1892), no. 45709964, citing Old Mill Creek Church of Christ Cemetery, Salem, Washington County, Indiana, USA; created by jpmgs (contributor 46910169); maintained by Bill Myers (contributor 46945321).

[12] “Kentucky, County Marriages, 1783-1965,” Phillip Copple and Anne Wright, 1804; database with images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61372: accessed 13 June 2016) > Wayne > 1801-1860 > img 27.

Clustering your Ancestry DNA matches with Excel (and DNAGedcom)

There are more and more good visualization tools available for clustering your DNA matches with the intent of discovering a new ancestor.  Recently I’ve been using a clustering tool created by Evert-Jan Blom at Genetic Affairs (more on that tool in an upcoming post). 

The DNA Color Clustering method used by Dana Leeds clustering methodology is straightforward, and especially effective for those persons who have many 2nd and 3rd cousin matches on Ancestry — which I don’t.  (Although it actually works quite well for more distant cousins, in my opinion, especially if you’ve been working on clustering your matches for several years!)  You can find out more about Dana’s method here.

Despite these cool clustering methods — and others — in the end, I keep returning to my trusty Excel spreadsheet and my list of “ICW” (In Common With) matches from Ancestry.com which I download using the DNAGedCom client tool (available here via a yearly subscription).

I’m sharing my way of clustering my matches — or, more specifically, my mother’s matches and my father’s matches — because the “best” method is the one that makes the most sense to you, or seems the most “intuitive”.

Mom_RitaShared

Some of Mom’s shared matches with “Cousin B”, on Ancestry

Let’s say I’m working with my mother’s DNA matches from Ancestry.com.  Using the DNAGedcom Client tool, I will download a list of all her matches, and then download a list of all her “ICW” matches into CSV format. 

Default ICW file

This is a sample of the default ICW file, before I combine it with the default Match file.

Default Match file

This is an abbreviated sample of the default match file.  The columns of interest are “Range” and “SharedCM”.

Once I have the two files, I use the VLOOKUP tool in Excel to associate (Cousin) Range and SharedCM to the primary match, and then to the In Common With matches.  The result is a combined file like that below.  The combined columns are highlighted in green.

Combined File

The “Mtch cM” and “Mtch Cousin” columns associate to Cousin B; the “icw cM” and “icw Cousin” associate to the ICW match: me, my brother, and cousins C, D, E, F, G, and H.  Shared cM (centiMorgans) = shared DNA; see my previous post here for more on centiMorgans. 

For purposes of clustering, though, all we really care about is that in general, the more DNA you share, the closer you are related — at least in the case of 2nd cousins or closer.  You can see that to some extent with Ancestry’s predicted ranges in the green highlighted columns.

The In-Common-With (ICW) list is basically a subset of your matches list.  My mom’s paternal first cousin — let’s call her “B” — has also tested at Ancestry.  So, Mom’s ICW list for “B” would include me, my brother, and six other cousins: C, D, E, F, G, H.  (Mom’s father was a first generation American, and “B”‘s father was born in Italy — not a lot of our Italian side, many still residing in Italy, have tested their DNA on Ancestry.  Hence, we don’t have a lot of matches.)  The critical point is that C, D, E, F, and G as well as my brother and I would show up on Mom’s match list AND on B’s match list — we are the “in common” matches.

So, if Mom and cousin “B” are first cousins, their Most Recent Common Ancestor(s) (MRCA) would be their shared set of (Italian) grandparents: Guiseppe Diamantini and Maria Bolognesi.  Obviously that same couple would be the great-grandparents of my brother and me.  But my brother and I are not the interesting cousins in the ICW cluster.  Cousins C, D, E, F, G and H are the key here. 

Mom_DNAGedCom_Example2

Let’s look at the example above.  I “cluster” my mom’s DNA matches by adding two columns (shown here highlighted in red).  Because I know my mom and Cousin B share the same set of grandparents, I put the MRCA couple’s name in the “Mtch MRCA” column for each row where there is an In Common With cousin.  (Note that, despite Ancestry’s prediction that my mom and Cousin B are 2nd cousins, they are in fact 1st cousins.)

The amounts of DNA shared, shown in the “Match cM” column and the “icw cM” column are the amounts Mom shares with these cousins.  We cannot determine from the information shown here how much, if any, “B” shares with “F”, or “C” shares with “D”.   We only know C, D, E, F, G, H not only share DNA with Mom, but MUST also share some amount with Cousin B because Ancestry has given us that information.

I then look at each of the ICW cousins: that is, my brother and I, plus cousins C through H.  I note that my brother and I are children, which means our DNA amounts won’t have any new information to determine cousin clustering — because whatever we share, we inherited from Mom.  (You can always exclude known children of a DNA match when you’re working with clustering, because they will always be a subset of their parents — if you have your parents or grandparents tested.)

Cousins C and D are two people whose place in my mother’s family tree I already know — therefore I include their MRCA information (Fortunato Camillucci and Maddelena Serafini).  They are my mother’s cousins on her Diamantini line.  Since the Diamantini line is my mother’s paternal line, I shade it blue for male.

Cousins E, F, G and H are unknown to me.  In this case, none of them have trees on Ancestry which might give me more detailed information as to how they relate to my mother.  The amount of DNA shared is fairly small, so it is possible the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) with Mom is quite a few generations back.  So I note them as “Diamantini or Bolognesi” (as I don’t yet know whether they share on the Diamantini line or the Bolognesi line) and also shade the cell in blue.  I leave those notes unbolded, since I’m not certain of how the cousin actually fits into our tree.

I then do the same thing with each of the other cousins listed here.  Below is a screen shot of the In-Common-With listing for Mom and Cousin C.  Note that there is some overlap with the In-Common-With listing for Mom and Cousin B, but there is one person who shares DNA with Mom and Cousin C, but who does not share with Cousin B.  I labeled that person Cousin J (highlighted in bright yellow.)

Bree_DNAGedCom_Example1Because the Most Recent Common Ancestor between Mom and Cousin C is the Camillucci & Serafini couple, I then use those names to populate the cell in the icw MRCA column, as shown below.

Bree_DNAGedCom_Example2

Mom doesn’t have that many matches on Ancestry.com to her paternal side, in part because her father was a 1st generation American.  A better example of the clustering is shown below, with one of her 4th cousins.  The shared Most Recent Common Ancestor between Mom and cousin “K D” is Jacob Copple and Margaret Blalock.

Cousin KD

I have hidden the names of the In-Common-With cousins, but you can see the amount of DNA they share with my mother.   What this screenprint shows is how the different In-Common-With cousins have different Most Recent Common Ancestors with Mom.  But all of them are related in some way to either Jacob Copple or Margaret Blalock.  Philip Copple and Patsy Wright, for instance, are the presumed parents of Jacob Copple.  Patsy Wright’s presumed grandparents are Richard Wright & Ann.  Ben Copple is the son of Jacob Copple & Margaret Blalock, while Nicholas Copple & wife are the likely paternal grandparents of Jacob’s father Philip.

A different cousin of Mom’s who also descends from Jacob Copple & Margaret Blalock possibly inherited some of Margaret (Blalock) Copple’s DNA.  You can see that in the ICW MRCA column below, where some of the In-Common-With cousins (names are whited-out) appear to have Blalock / Blaylock lineage.  One of the cousins who shares DNA with both Mom and “M M” is fairly closely related to Mom; you can tell that by the amount of DNA shared (140.4 cM) and the MRCA = Sam Englehart and Libby Copple.  Libby Copple is the granddaughter of Jacob Copple & Margaret Blalock.

Cousin MM

All in all, this is just one more method of using color coding and Most Recent Common Ancestor information to figure out how your unknown matches may be related to you.  It’s not an absolute — it’s just a hint.  But it gives you something to work with.

How Complete is my Tree?

Are you sure that the segment of DNA you share with your DNA match is due to your common 3rd great-grandparents Joe and Sally (Harper) Booth (that’s a fictional couple, by the way) — and not due to a common ancestor you may not yet have found?  How complete is your tree? 

Recently, Blaine Bettinger posted in Facebook’s Genetic Genealogy Tips and  Techniques group, about the completeness of your genealogical tree being critical to accuracy in ascertaining the correct common ancestor with your DNA matches.  He referenced a post by Amberly Beck (see here) in which she discusses the completeness (or lack thereof) of her maternal line.

Rather than looking at just my maternal line or just my paternal line, or even just looking at my whole tree at once, I decided to review my results by grandparent. 

how complete is my tree

I “found” 9 ancestors last year on my maternal side without using DNA at all! Instead, I used DanishFamilySearch.com, a site which has been transcribing Danish census records, and allowing registered users to post their family tree information on their site, and the newly online Danish census records (in Danish, of  course!) at familysearch.org 

So, yay!, that was success for my grandmother’s line.  I now know 4 more of my maternal grandmother’s 16 2nd great-grandparents, and 5 more of my grandmother’s 32 3rd-great grandparents.

As for my 3 other grandparents, there was no change in the past year.  Not surprising, because I spent time on the BU Certificate course for 15 weeks (during which I spent little time on my own genealogy), and I also spent some time continuing to validate with DNA matches my Copple line (which is also on my maternal grandmother’s tree). 

Meaning, as I build out collateral relative trees for my Copple ancestors and find I have — more accurately, my mother has — DNA matches with descendants of those collateral relatives (siblings and 1st cousins of my own ancestors), that is slowly strengthening the case that the DNA shared belongs to the Copple line and not some other unknown line.  (Well, until I am able to build further back; the shared DNA may actually relate to, say, the wife of my most distant Copple ancestor, and not to him.)

I’ve done nothing really on my maternal grandfather’s line — I know the Italian town he came from and his grandparents’ names.  I also know I would likely find records on their parents via the local Catholic church.  As it would likely require assistance from a researcher over in Italy or a trip to Italy myself, it just has not been a priority for me.  Perhaps someday.

Like my maternal grandfather, my paternal grandmother was a first-generation American.  Her uncle was Con Colbert who was executed for his role in the Easter Uprising in 1916.  Consequently, he is somewhat famous in the Republic of Ireland; therefore, some of his family history was researched by a professional genealogist for the centenary in 2016.  So, I have a bit more on her kin than on my maternal grandfather’s kin.  I’ve also been fortunate two years ago to find some of the baptismal and marriage records for her maternal line ancestors (also Irish) online — one such place is here.

I have a “brick wall” at my great-great grandfather Patrick Dempsey.  Per his obituary, he was “of King’s County”.  That’s now County Offaly, but that doesn’t mean he was born and baptized there.  It may just mean he was from there last before coming to America circa 1850 or so.  There are about a half-dozen potential Patrick Dempseys baptised in Co. Offaly when he was thought to be born (ca. 1830), but I have no oral history as to his family.   Maybe his parents and siblings died in the Famine?

This year, I’d like to find out more about my paternal grandfather’s maternal grandparents: Anderson and Ermine (Farnham? Farley?) Lamburth — Grandpa Dempsey’s one line that has reportedly been in the U.S. since at least 1800.  Of course, I’d also like to break the brick walls of my 3rd great-grandmother (aka my maternal grandmother’s great-grandma) Phoebe Harvey — or her mother-in-law Margaret (Blalock) Copple.  We’ll see.

How about you?  Do you have a particular line you’re thinking of researching next?   

Jacob Copple and Margaret (Blalock) Copple… Data Viz of their DNA-tested descendants

My Copple line was one of my “brick wall” lines, meaning I did not know the identities of  my great-great grandmother Libbie (Copple) Englehart’s parents, not to mention the fact I did not know for certain Libbie Englehart was even a Copple!  Thanks to DNA testing, it appears that the family oral history that Libbie was in fact a Copple appears to be true.

Below is a chart which shows Libby’s likely paternal grandparents Jacob and Margaret (Blalock) Copple, her father Ben and some of his siblings who have living descendants who have DNA-tested AND who match my mom.

I say “likely” paternal grandparents, meaning they are the best possible candidates for her grandparent

This particular data visualization is called the “McGuire Method” after Lauren McGuire, who developed it; her explanation of the chart can be found here.

McGuireMethod_Visual_CoppleFamily

What does this chart tell us?  It gives us an straightforward visualization of how the various descendants of Jacob and Margaret, my 4th great grandparents, relate to my mother and to me.

Jacob and Margaret are listed at the top, and are shown as the parents of Ben F Copple, Sarilda Copple, Jacob W Copple, and Sanford H Copple.  (Jacob and Margaret had 5 other children who reached adulthood, but those children either don’t have any descendants alive today, or don’t have descendants who have tested AND match my mom.)  Matching my mom is critical, if we are to use the DNA matches to validate the “paper trail” of documentation for the ancestors back to Jacob and Margaret.

Ben Franklin Copple is my 3rd great-grandfather, and the eldest son of Jacob and Margaret.  He was married twice — first to Phoebe Harvey, the mother of his 4 (possibly 5) daughters, and then to Susie, the mother of his 3 sons.  Libbie, my great-great grandma, and her sister Mary have descendants alive today who have gotten their DNA tested and match my mother and me.  In addition, a descendant of Ben’s son Nathan has tested and matches my mom.

Ben’s sister Sarilda has a descendant who has tested (called “M” on the chart), as does Ben’s brother Jacob Washington Copple.  Ben’s brother Sanford Howard Copple has numerous DNA-tested descendants, not all of whom are shown here.  Tested matches include descendants of Sanford’s daughter Margaret and Sanford’s son William. 

The two lines at the bottom of the chart are the key to the “McGuire Method” of visualization.  The first line shows the amount of DNA (in total centiMorgans) that my mom “A” shares with the tested cousin(s).   What is a centiMorgan?  The most simplistic explanation is that it’s a logical — not physical — unit of length of an unbroken sequence of the bases (adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G)). 

Your longest unbroken string of base sequences for each of your chromosomes would be shared with your mom and your dad — that is, from one end of each chromosome to the other.  More distant relatives, like 3rd cousins, may share only one or two segments of DNA — or none at all.   (For more detail on centiMorgans, see here, here and here.)

Amounts of shared DNA highlighted in yellow on this chart are based on the AncestryDNA test; amounts highlighted in purple are based on FamilyTreeDNA’s test.  Below the centiMorgan (cM) amounts is the relationship (e.g., “4C” = 4th cousin, “2C1R” = 2nd cousin one generation removed).

Below my mother’s shared DNA amounts is my own shared amounts with those same cousins.  With certain matches, I inherited less than half of mom’s shared DNA; in other cases, I inherited essentially all of it.

Since I first created this chart, a descendant of another of Ben Copple’s sons — brother to Nathan shown on the chart — has had their DNA tested and shares DNA with my mom.  In addition, at least one descendant of a third child of Ben’s brother Sanford has tested, and they, too, are a match.   As additional descendants test — and match — my mother, this strengthens the case I am making (based on the paper trail) that this is Libbie (Copple) Englehart’s family — her dad, her paternal aunts and uncles, and her paternal grandparents.  And hence my mother’s family and my own as well.