Bill Paxton – Who Do You Think You Are – The Three Stones

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

This weeks’ episode with Bill Paxton is really outstanding.  Now, I might be biased, because as it turns out, Bill’s ancestor, Benjamin Sharp shares some historic events and locations with some of my ancestors too.

Bill started his journey in the library in Los Angeles, California, where their genealogist unrolls Bill’s pedigree chart.  I sure wish someone would give me one of those with a bow and a few new ancestors to boot!

Paxton Compliments of TLC

These pedigree giftings really make me smile.  The recipients are always so excited to see their heritage literally open up before them.

Bill already knew quite a bit about his closest few Paxton ancestors, including that one of his ancestors was an officer in the Civil War, so Bill was looking back up the tree to the Revolutionary War era where he found 3 different men, all 4 times great grandfathers, who could well have served.  Checking the…

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America Ferrera Heads to Honduras on Who Do You Think You Are

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Unfortunately, TLC didn’t send the pre-screening link this week, so you don’t get my writeup.  Instead, you get theirs, and I’ll be watching right along with you.

America Ferrera TLC Courtesy TLC

For the first time ever, Who Do You Think You Are? heads to Honduras as actress America Ferrera sets out to search for a connection to her father, whom she barely knew.

Throughout her journey, America uncovers the fascinating details of her paternal great grandfather, who was a General in the army and led numerous revolts against Honduran leaders to fight for the people’s rights.

Key details from America’s episode include:

  • With the help of historians and documentation, America discovers that her great grandfather, at the young age of 27, left a job as a tax collector to join a military campaign to help the liberal president’s party fend off a plot to overthrow them.
  • America finds that her great grandfather…

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Dissecting AncestryDNA Circles and New Ancestors

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

First of all, let me say that I like AncestryDNA Circles.  Yes there are problems and still things to work out, but all said, I think they have the potential to be beneficial – so long as they are interpreted correctly.

Much of the grumbling about Circles comes from the fact that Ancestry promised the community a “better mousetrap,” and instead, released DNA Circles.  DNA Circles is just fine for what it is, but it’s a far cry from a better mousetrap – meaning it’s not a replacement for, nor better than, a chromosome browser.  It’s like being promised a “better car” and getting a bicycle while the “gifter” is trying to convince you it’s a Mercedes bicycle and you should love it, plus you don’t need a car anyway – you only think you do.

The biggest problem with DNA Circles is that people perceive Circles to be…

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Testing Ancestry’s Amazing “New Ancestor” DNA Claim

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

ancestry new ancestor intro

On April 2, 2015, Ancestry rolled out its new ”New Ancestor Discoveries” feature.  The graphic above is now what greets me when I sign into

I wrote about my incorrect “new ancestor,” both of them actually, the day after the rollout. Contrary to what some people thought, this was not an April Fool joke – neither their release nor my article.

The software rollout was accompanied by a press release, in which Dr. Ken Chahine is quoted, among others, about Ancestry’s “New Ancestor” feature which claims to identify new ancestors for you by utilizing only your DNA, and not matching trees.  Their already implemented DNA Circles feature uses a combination of DNA matching and common ancestors found in trees between those matches – but this new feature uses only DNA.

“It is effectively a shortcut through time – you take the test today and we tell you who your ancestors…

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Finding Your American Indian Tribe Using DNA

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

If I had a dollar for every time I get asked a flavor of this question, I’d be on a cruise someplace warm instead of writing this in the still-blustery cold winter weather of the northlands!

So, I’m going to write the recipe of how to do this.  The process is basically the same whether you’re utilizing Y or mitochondrial DNA, but the details differ just a bit.

So, to answer the first question.  Can you find your Indian tribe utilizing DNA?  Yes, it can sometimes be done – but not for everyone, not all the time and not even for most people.  And it takes work on your part.  Furthermore, you may wind up disproving the Indian heritage in a particular line, not proving it.  If you’re still in, keep reading.

I want you to think of this as a scavenger hunt.  No one is going to give you the prize.  You…

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Sean Hayes – Who Do You Think You Are – “Endless Chain of Chaos”

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Sean Hayes

Sean Hayes, probably best known for his role in the sitcom, Will and Grace, finds more than he bargained for when he set out to search for his roots.  Growing up without his father, Sean searches for the cause of his estranged father’s troubled past and uncovers a shocking trail of tragedy with tendrils that reach back generations.

I had to laugh, because in the realm of “famous last words,” Sean introduces himself as “Sean Hayes and I’m not named for anyone I know of.”

Well Sean, you should have included your middle name, Patrick, because it’s going to become important!  And by the way, um….yes you are named for someone.

No one really writes letters anymore, but Sean’s brother does, and in the letter is a photo of Sean’s grandparents. Sean didn’t even know their names, and now he has their picture.

Sean Hayes 1

What Sean does know, is that for…

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Angie Harmon – Who Do You Think You Are – “Mutiny”

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are features Angie Harmon, probably best known for her role in the television series, Law and Order.

angie harmon Angie Harmon, Courtesy TLC

Angie’s adventure begins at her kitchen table in Charlotte, NC, with a package she receives from her father, Larry, that includes a photo of her great-grandparents.  Like many people, up until this time, Angie only knew the names of her grandparents and not much more.

Angie becomes deeply curious (I think the genealogy bug bit her) and she sets out on her adventure to discover her ancestry.

Unlike many of us, Angie started her adventure close to home, meeting professional genealogist, Joseph Schumway at the Genealogy Library at Charlotte Museum of History. Thanks to Joseph’s magic wand, Angie’s tree was able to magically grow to reveal her 5x great grandfather Michael Harmon.  I want one of those magic wands….just…

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