Autosomal DNA Information for European Jews which is Not Being Revealed #dna

Ralph Baer

I have taken autosomal DNA tests from both FTDNA and Ancestry. Like probably all others descended from central and eastern Europe Jews, my results exhibit a very large amount of endogamy. If I eliminate the known relatives (up to fourth or fifth cousins) who have taken these tests and look at only those who include some ancestral information, I still see that a lot of the closest predicted relatives have ancestors from the same general area where mine lived (southern and far western Germany). In a few such cases, I have been able to compare information with these people back through at least at least a half dozen generations e.g., the late Arthur Obermayer who was my closest predicted FTDNA match when I took that test, and there has been no indication of a likely common ancestor.
This indicates to me that if the DNA companies would divide European Jewry into several geographic regions, we could learn more. Although it is nice to know that I am 100% European Jewish. I suspect that there is additional information which we are not seeing.
What I would like to know is if others, especially those whose ancestors did not originate in southern and western Germany, also have significantly more of their highest matches from the same region as their ancestors came from than would be predicated purely by chance.
Ralph N. Baer        RalphNBaer@...       Washington, DC

Adam Turner

I have found numerous cases of this - people with ancestors from the same ancestral towns (or very close by), but who I have so far been unable to trace.

But I don't think it's really because there's meaningful information about geographic regions that the testing companies aren't making available to us. The "regions" that each company has created are just a function of various SNPs that are atypically common in particular populations. Perhaps the companies could make the regions a bit more granular than they are already, but that doesn't really tell us very much that a little research on a given match won't turn up anyway. It's interesting to know that a match came from the same sub-population as I did, but it's not particularly useful in a genealogical sense.

Instead, I suspect these cases of same town/significant match/no known connection fall into one of the following categories:

  • These people are actually your cousins in the 5th-7th cousin range, and the connection is simply too far back to trace with the available sources. If you were born in the 1950s, assuming about a 25-year age gap between generations, your fifth cousins will stem from branches that diverged from yours around the 1820s - right around the cusp of the era of surname adoption. Although autosomal testing will not register many (even most) of your 6th cousins as matches, this is counterbalanced by the fact that each generation you go back, you have an exponentially greater number of cousins - increasing the likelihood that you'll come across one with a DNA test.
  • The same thing as above, except even further back - people in the 8th-10th cousin range or even more distant. Since you have a huge number of cousins in this range, at least a handful of them will be outlier cases that share unusually high amounts of DNA with you, relative to most cousins in this range.
(The most distant of these outlier cases who I've come across so far on AncestryDNA is a probable 5C1R of mine. After being run through TIMBER and whatever else Ancestry uses to do its thing, the system gives her match numbers as a total match of 47 cM across 7 segments, unweighted shared DNA 70 cM, longest matching segment 12 cM. Generally, I would interpret a 47 cM match on AncestryDNA as a signal of a possible third or fourth cousin and a 12 cM longest block as too short to be anything meaningful, and write this match off as probably just endogamy - but subsequent research suggests that she is likely an outlier case with an unusually high amount of matching DNA for such a distant relationship: she is descended from a man born in the 1810s who I suspect was my gggg-grandfather's brother, and AncestryDNA is somehow registering a significant total match for her...even though it registers no match between me and her father, who also tested, and who is my probable 4C2R.)

Adam Turner

Michele Lock

From Ancestry DNA, I have also had matches with persons who have forebears 3-4 generations back who came from towns within 50 or so miles of my known forebears. Typically these are matches around 100 cM, with the longest segment about 20 cM, and average segment length 9-12 or so. And yet - no known common family members or common surnames. I chalk this up to endogamy and/or the common ancestor being a woman 3-4 generations back for whom we have no records, or for whom we do not know her married name, so we can't identify her descendants. For instance, according to the 1834 Revision list for Plunge, Lithuania, my great great grandfather Aron Lak had three sisters named Sheita, Judes, and Miriam. And that's all I know about them; I've never located any marriage or death records for them, unlike records for three Lak brothers in the same household. Yet these women would have passed their DNA on now through several generations, and I suspect they and other women of their time in my family are contributing to these types of DNA matches.

On the other hand, it is through Ancestry DNA that I've been able to discover an unknown sister to a great grandmother, an unknown sister to a great great grandmother, and figure out the married name of a known sister of a great grandfather.
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus

Eva Lawrence

Perhaps the reason Ralph Baer is unable to find a common ancestor with other DNA  users whose trees originated in the same region as his, is that even experienced genealogists generally  didn't the explore siblings of wives.   Women can be difficult to trace after marriage,  and in the past female births  were  sometimes even left unrecorded   A connection purely though a female line could be quite close yet unwittingly be missed.   Maybe it's not the DNA information, but the family information that is lacking. 
Eva Lawrence
St Albans,