Why transfer to MyHeritage if you’ve taken a DNA test elsewhere? Because you might find unique matches –or learn something unique about matches you’ve already found elsewhere. MyHeritage DNA’s tools helped me connect to a distant cousin who is related on a tricky mystery line that was purportedly Jewish–and this match is estimated to be 100% Ashkenazi Jewish!
I’ve been working on my husband Christopher’s purported Ashkenazi Jewish line for years, but without success. He has endogamy on his line, and it’s complicated (endogamy is intermarriage within a small population for many generations, and it’s common on Ashkenazi Jewish family trees).
So when a new match popped into Christopher’s MyHeritage DNA match list this week whose ethnicity is estimated at 100% Ashkenazi Jewish, I was excited! I hoped it would help me study that genetic network.
Why transfer to MyHeritage
MyHeritage DNA has some great tools to use to analyze your DNA matches. You can find your newest DNA matches in your account by checking the upper left corner of the site.
The match, JK, is in her 80s and has a test managed by someone else.
This match is a 3C-distant cousin sharing 32.6 cM over 4 segments with the largest segment of 12.4 cM. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t work on a 32 cM match as a priority, but again, that Ashkenazi Jewish connection was compelling. I could see it in the Shared Ethnicities and Genetics Groups comparison between Christopher and J.K.:
So how distant of a match is 32.6 cM? The answer—That depends! The Shared cM Project produces probability tables of possible relationships, but this match is likely very distant, even 8C. Could it be that the relationship is closer? The chart says there is a 3% probability of a 1C3R relationship.
One advantage to using MyHeritage’s site is just for this specific case where endogamy is expected. When I looked at the Chromosome Browser – Shared DNA Segments, there are 4 shared segments. One tip to help with endogamy (which you can learn more about in our Endogamy & DNA Course) is to remove the segments smaller than 10 cM as likely not specifically leading back to a MRCA (most recent common ancestor), but rather a shared biogeographical region (like what you’d see for an endogamous community). So, 32 cM removing the 6, 6, and 8 cM pieces leaves a 12 cM piece to consider.
Going back to the Shared cM Project, 12 cM gives us these probabilities, likely much more representative of the relationship.
What does AncestryDNA say about this match?
JK also shows up as a match to Christopher at AncestryDNA. Let’s see how AncestryDNA categorizes this match. The match is categorized as a 5C-8C sharing 10 cM across 3 segments:
The window that opens shows the unweighted shared DNA as 26 cM, with a longest segment of 13 cM. AncestryDNA uses an algorithm called Timber to remove small segments that will likely not lead to a MRCA. Note that the unweighted cM value of 26 across 3 segments with the longest segment of 13 cM is very similar to what we found using the chromosome browser at MyHeritage DNA—32 cM across 4 segments with the longest segment of 12 cM. (If a match has tested at MyHeritage DNA and another site, it helps to check both.)
The MyHeritage DNA kit and AncestryDNA kit are both managed by the same person, so I contacted her through MyHeritage’s messaging system. She responded right away. YAY for that! And she said she was the daughter of JK. I shared my tree and asked if anyone looked familiar. We exchanged messages and discussed MPEs (misattributed parentage events), adoption, and some potential other reasons why we didn’t have a lead.
I have sparse information on the Kaufman line, which is the line in question. And I’m not even certain that I have the correct Abraham Kaufman as the father of Edna given birth and death dates I have so far.
But remember, the evidence is pointing back to a 5C-8C relationship, so that would be how far back in time—likely sixth-great-grandparents or further back? It’s likely I won’t be able to sort it out, but I’m going to try!
When the JK’s daughter looked at my tree, she saw the name Kaufman, but couldn’t find any obvious connections. I relayed the story I was told—the Kaufmans came to America and were German Jews. They arrived in the late 1880s between the births of two children. The family lore is that the family was sponsored to come to America by a Lutheran church in the Bronx, New York. Edna’s parents may or may not have converted; they were buried in a Lutheran cemetery in the Bronx.
It looks like I have work to do, so when I reach a pause point in my research, I make a list of Next Steps to organize what I will try to do when I have more time. Successful researchers tend to be more organized and focused, so making a list of Next Steps will keep me on task and focused.
- Continue to work with JK’s daughter to discover some common ancestors.
- Look at the shared matches and genetic network at MyHeritage DNA. (AncestryDNA is only showing one shared match between Christopher and JK and she is at the range of 4C-6C, 21 cM).
- Look for patterns in the ethnicities and locations of this Genetic Network.
- Attempt to build one family tree connecting the shared matches of Christopher and JK.
- Work on my tree completeness.
Remember, tree completeness can be one of the largest limiting factors to figuring out who your matches are. Diahan Southard talks all the time about making your tree wide and low to capture siblings and spouses at each level and their descendants. So I have more work to do! But because of the tools at MyHeritage DNA, I’m closer than I was a few days ago!