Saturday, November 28, 2015

Want to Take Advantage of DNA Sales this Weekend? Trying to Figure Out Which DNA Test to Buy?

One of my cousins (not a first cousin) and I recently got our DNA tested. She got hers done through Ancestry, and I got mine through FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). Then, she transferred her results to FTDNA, so we could use their tools to compare and collaborate on finding more cousins.We've been thrilled by the results.

First off, I was really excited to see that our results confirmed our relationship. She gave me a funny look (metaphorically speaking, since this was via email) and asked, "Did you have any doubts?" Well, as a genealogist, I've learned not to take relationships for granted. By which I mean, while I was pretty sure that our parents and other ancestors were who we believed they were, I've read too many accounts of genetic results that turned up evidence to the contrary of the paperwork. So, now I have incontrovertible evidence that, for at least this section of my family tree, I've got the right people in the right relationships, no hanky panky involved.

Secondly, we've started finding our mutual cousins. So far, FTDNA has provided us with a list of 24. That's right. We have twenty-four mutual cousins that neither of us had even an inkling of before we started! Plus, some of those cousins have additional relationships to each other. Which is probably pretty normal, when you think about it, but it's still very cool to see all of this on the screen. So, screenshot time!

What I really love about this is seeing those two pairs of matches in the middle. Excellent!

But, all that's not really the point of this post.

Yesterday, as we were discussing which of the many new relatives turned up by our DNA results who are related to both of us, she said the following: "I'm going to ask Uncle John if he will do a DNA test.  Do you have a feel for which test would be best?"

My immediate response, which never made it into my actual response, was, "Not a clue. Except it should include yDNA."

But, after that, I started thinking. And researching. Because I really can't help myself when someone asks a questions like that. And, once I'd sent it, I realized there was some useful and timely information that might help other people thinking about DNA testing.

Here's the response she actually received (with a few minor details changed to protect personal information about living family members, as well as a bit of touching up to fill in details I skipped):
I've been drooling over the sales going on at FTDNA (there is also a bonus for current members, mine was only an extra $5 off; I don't know if they are offering bonuses to transfers), wishing my dad would agree to a test. Who knows, maybe he will. The last time we spoke about it, he wasn't interested, but maybe all the connections you and I have been discussing will be enough to convince him that it will provide valuable information.
As to which test you might choose, there are a range of possible tests that might be appropriate. It all depends on your goals and your budget.
Ancestry's test price is very low, but I think they are only offering autosomal tests these days. They have what may be the best offer on sale right now, at just $69. 
23andMe includes health related information; at least one of their health tests has even received approval from the FDA. So, that's something no one else that offers genealogy genetic testing is offering. But, the base cost is higher, they don't seem to be offering a sale, and I don't know how effectively they connect cousins.
FTDNA has a wide range of tests, not just the autosomal, but also yDNA and mtDNA, and even those they offer in varying degrees, depending on how in-depth you want the test and how deep your pockets are.

If you can, I think one of the yDNA tests paired with an autosomal test might be the way to go for Uncle John. <-- ACTUAL ADVICE*
FTDNA offers three levels of yDNA tests: y37, which checks 37 markers on the Y chromosome; y67, which checks 67; and y111, which checks 111. The y37 allows one to confirm "close relationships." If I'm reading them right, iGenea (yet another company selling DNA tests, but one I know nothing about) suggests a 37-marker test provides information that goes back 3 to 7 generations. FTDNA makes a claim of up to 340,000 years, which I think applies to the y111 test.
On the other hand, I just found a Discover magazine article (from May 2014) that references a new test from Prosapia Genetics that only costs $135, but goes back 1000 years to pinpoint a (only one?!) location for one's "ancestral home." ($100 gets you the basic test; $35 gets you the location detail.) Since the number of ancestors at the 1000 year mark would be huge, this feels a bit gimmicky to me, but also fun.

If my dad agreed to a test, I would definitely ask that he get a yDNA test, so I could confirm our patrilineal line; there are a few questions I have about which John Lloyd back in the 1700s is the right John Lloyd. But, what I'd be wishing for, and what I know I've only got a snowball's chance in Hell of getting, would be a truly comprehensive test: autosomal, y111 (the most in-depth yDNA test), and a full-sequence mtDNA test. Even FTDNA's "Comprehensive Genome" test doesn't quite meet my gold standard because it only offers the y67. Oh, and for good measure, I'd like to throw in the Prosapia test.
* Given how much I say in this message, I figured it would be good to point out where I actually answer your question. :D

Well, I hope you'll find this information interesting. The holiday sales will be over in very short order, so that part of the information will be out of date very quickly. But, the part about figuring out which tests are most useful for an elderly male relative should be useful at any time.

By the way, neither I nor any of my family members (at least none I'm in contact with at the moment) are employed by any genetic testing firm, nor do I receive any funds for mentioning any of these companies. We paid for our testing, and my opinions are entirely my own.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Galen Weiker Rote Biography

I've just published a new biography for my maternal grandfather, Galen Weiker Rote, on WikiTree. I am reblogging the biography here.

Galen Weiker Rote was born on March 7, 1888, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Alpheus Rote and Ella E. Ward. He had two brothers and three sisters: Mabel (or Mable), John, Emma, Howard, and Minnie. Mabel was the oldest, and Galen was the oldest son, with all the other children younger.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census documents that Galen, age 12, was living with his family New Castle, Pennsylvania, where his father's occupation is listed as "Heater tin mill." In 1910, they were still living in New Castle, but his father had been out of work for 5 weeks and his occupation was listed as "odd jobs."[1]

On 29 August 1911, Galen and Lulu P. Craun, a resident of Toledo, Ohio, obtained a marriage license and certificate in Lucas County, Ohio. It seems likely that the couple were married that day at the courthouse, as both license and certificate had the same date.

On 7 June 1917, Galen signed up for the WWI draft. According to the information he supplied, Galen, now age 29, lived at 525 Locust, Toledo, OH. He had been born in Harrisburg, Pa., USA, was married, and his wife's maiden name was Craun; he was of medium height and build, and had blue eyes and brown hair. Galen lists his trade or occupation as "Show Business." His employer's name is a bit hard to make out, but might be Forenze or Torunze; there are two figures preceding the entry in the blank which might be initials (possibly J.S.), but which also might be the numerals 28. The final line was difficult to decipher, but I think it might be "Peerless Mus Co. Det Mich" (Peerless Music Co., Detroit, Mich.), which may have been a branch of the Peerless Film Corporation, which in 1917 was located at 153 East Jefferson in Detroit, Michigan, as referenced in the photo and associated comments:

I have found no evidence of military service for Galen, nor have I found evidence that he did not serve.

The 1919 city directory for Galen and Lulu shows the couple living in Toledo, Ohio; Galen's occupation was listed as brakeman. That same year, on August 24, Lulu was to give birth to the couple's first child, a girl, Marian Virginia Rote in Sandusky, Ohio. Not quite two years later, on July 2, 1921, their second daughter, Luella Jean Rote, was born, also in Sandusky.

On 14 August, 1928, just ten days before her 9th birthday, Marian died of bronchial pneumonia. Galen was devastated, as were his wife and remaining daughter. He morned the child he'd called his "shadow," to the detriment of his family life. According to Luella her parents separated for a time following her sister's death and she and her mother lived in impoverished circumstances as a result. The separation cannot have been for long, however, given the documentary evidence of the family living together as described in the following paragraph.

I have not found an entry in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for the family, but this is most likely due to an issue with indexing, as they are still in Sandusky in 1930 and 1940, and Luella described growing up in Sandusky in personal conversations with me, as well as in a diary she wrote when she was 14. Galen and Lulu can also be found in multiple Sandusky city directories, including those for the years 1923, '32, and '35. In 1923, Galen was listed as a brakeman, no occupation was listed for 1932, and in 1935 he was listed as a salesman. The 1940 U.S. Federal Census lists his occupation as a bartender at the Central Labor Hall.
Various family members have also reported to me that Galen worked at Cedar Point, either in concession stands (which is what Luella remembered), or running a roulette wheel (according to more distant relatives).

Luella spoke of going to the amusement park with him, where she would ride the roller coasters, which she loved, for free. She was thrilled to have the chance to ride as many times as she wished, and the park was happy to have a shill to draw customers to the ride.

Galen died 10 August 1941 in Sandusky, Ohio. The New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) provided the following obituary on 11 August 1941:
Galen W. Rote, aged 53, died Sunday evening at 7 o'clock at his home, 303 East Washington street, Sandusky, O. He leaves his wife, Lulu Craun Rote; a daughter, Luella Jeane [sic]; two brothers John and Howard Rote, both of this city, and a sister, Mrs. Emma Cavender of 205 North Mercer street, this city. Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday morning at 10 o'clock in Sandusky. Interment will be in a Toledo, O. cemetery.
The story, as it was told to me by Luella, is far more dramatic than this simple obituary suggests. Her father, Galen, had applied for a job and was given a medical exam as part of the requirements for the position. The physician determined that he had high blood pressure and prescribed arsenic. This was actually an accepted drug for the condition at that time, but the amount prescribed was 10 times greater than the theraputic dose. Galen even questioned the dose, but the physician refused to consider the possibility that he'd made a mistake, so Galen went ahead and took the medication, only to die of arsenic poisoning. Luella, a first year college student at the time, was furious with her mother for not suing for malpractice.