A couple of weeks ago, my husband was excited to share his news: he found out that he has a cousin in Australia!
Now, we were not expecting him to be related to anybody in Australia and and we do not know anybody that traveled over there. At this point, they still do not know how exactly they are related but he is working hard to find out how they are connected.
He uploaded his AncestryDNA test results to Family Tree DNA, which is a website in conjunction with National Geographic that compiles the information submitted by others and helps you discover new relatives. Users can either buy a test from the company or they can upload the raw data from AncestryDNA or 23andme to the site for free. My husband said that he had different results than what he got from Ancestry and that I should check it out.
And so I did.
The process was fairly simple. I created a FTDNA account and did an autosomnal transfer. To transfer your DNA to FTDNA from Ancestry, you need to go to your DNA page–>settings–>Download Raw DNA. That will create a file for you to then upload onto FTDNA. It only took my husband minutes to upload and get matches from FTDNA. Mine, on the other hand, took about a day to get it all uploaded and done.
When I got my results, it was something that I did not expect: a lot of new matches! Sure, my husband told me that is what happened to him, but I was skeptical about the likelihood of me having the same success.
One thing that is really interesting about FTDNA is that a real first and last name is used, no made-up username. That can give me a clue about ethnicity!
To date, I have 239 matches on FTDNA, which is manageable. The list is organized by the most shared centimorgans (a unit for measuring genetic distance) and it also lists the longest shared block (in mine, those are two different people).
I wrote the person on top of my list, who shares 171 centimorgans with me. Based on the last name, I had no idea how we are related. She did not have a family tree, so I couldn’t guess that way. I sent her a welcome message and gave her a list of names that are in my background and asked her if any of those names sounded familiar. Fortunately, one did! Carlman (who is not Carlon) is my paternal-paternal-maternal’s side and she knew very little about out family. Luckily, I was able to share information with her and gave her many contacts!
But then, somebody did the same to me. After I created a small family tree on the account to act as sort of a bait, another match on my list reached out to me and said that they recognized the area and the last name that I have listed: Peterson.
One of the brick walls I have in my life is my great-grandfather on my paternal-paternal side. The reason why my maiden name is Peterson. We know little about him: he had at least one sister and that he was from Sweden. That is the basic summary of what we know.
This contact/match did a ton of searches through Arkiv Digital for me without prompting. He found a lot of records that I do not have access to, such as church records and census records. It was phenomenal!
I was so glad that we have found another relative from this small, narrow line!
…and then it turned out that he was related to Great-Grandma Peterson’s side: the Carlmans.
Although a human connection was not made to the Peterson side, it was wonderful the information that he found and searched for on my Peterson side! He found the marriage license of my great-great-grandparents. He found the baptism record of my great-grandpa. He found listings that my great-grandpa had three sisters. He told me information about the town that he came from. It was an amazing experience and it was all from uploading my DNA with National Geographic!
I better get back to that list. I have 237 more to go!