Nicholson DNA

Great news. My 3rd cousin, Joan, who is a Nicholson, posted her 1st cousin once removed, Carol’s DNA to Carol is also a Nicholson descendant and my mother’s 2nd cousin.

This does 3 things:

  1. Improves my Chromosome mapping a la Kitty Munson
  2. Identifies my DNA by grandparent that I have mapped as per the Kathy Johnston method
  3. Creates a great link to the Nicholson side of the family that has been lost over the years.

In addition, these matches between Carol and my family are all higher than average. So even though my sisters and I are 2nd cousins once removed to Carol, we have about the amount of shared DNA to make us look like 2nd cousins.

William Nicholson born 1836 Sheffield England and Martha Ellis His Wife: Our Common Ancestors

The common ancestors between Joan, Carol, my mother Gladys, me and my 2 sisters are William Nicholson and Martha Ellis.

Gladys Relative Chart

Judy and Joshua have tested also, but they are from both the Lentz and Nicholson side. Joan and Carol are helpful in that our only connection is Nicholson. That is the advantage of testing 2nd cousins. They usually can limit your matches to one of your 4 grandparents – or in this case, one of my mother’s 4 grandparents.

A Brief Sketch of William Nicholson

William Nicholson

I am happy to have a photo of William. William was born in Sheffield, England in 1836. Working conditions were deplorable in Sheffield at this time. William’s father died in 1840 when William was 4. According to the newspaper, “On Thursday the 30th April, after a severe indisposition, aged 41, Mr. Matthew Nicholson, late of Suffolk road, leaving a numerous family to lament their loss.” The family was numerous with 12 children. William was number ten. William’s mother Martha made some money operating a beerhouse. Beerhouses were promoted at this time in England to counteract the effects of drunkenness due to gin consumption.  This article was written about a year and a half after William’s father Matthew died:

Beerhouse article

William married Martha Ellis in 1854. William didn’t manufacture pen knives like the older generation but manufactured saws. He had 4 children in Sheffield, England between 1860 and 1869. After the Nicholson’s made the big move, he had 3 more children born in Philadelphia between 1871 and 1879. In Philadelphia he continued with his saw making skills. William’s wife Martha died in 1887. William married Emma Gardiner and had 2 more daughters. William died in 1919 in Philadelphia at age 83 – more than twice the age of his father when he died in Sheffield. I think William made a good decision to leave those unhealthy work conditions in Sheffield.

Updating My Chromosome Map

Here is what the DNA of my ancestors looks like mapped out:

Joel Chromosome Map

My mother’s side is on the bottom of each chromosome bar. The DNA I got from the Nicholsons only is in light yellow. The light yellow also represents the DNA matches I have with Joan and her first cousin once removed Carol. Note on Chromosome 18 that the color goes from orange to yellow. There, the DNA I got is switching from my mother’s father’s side (Rathfelder) to my mother’s mother’s side (Nicholson).

Mapping My Chromosomes a la Kathy Johnston

I have also mapped my chromosomes using a method developed by Kathy Johnston. This method compares the matches that I have with my 2 sisters. From this, I can figure out how I inherited each of my 4 grandparents’ DNA. However, to distinguish the 4 grandparents, I need to have reference points. Carol’s DNA matches with me and my sisters provided many of those reference points for my mother’s mother’s side of the family. Where before on many chromosomes, I only knew I had maternal grandparent 1 or 2, now I know that they are Rathfelder or Lentz. [My Lentz grandmother’s mother was a Nicholson.]

For example, here is the same Chromosome 18:

Chr 18

My Chromosome is the bottom one. The other two are for my sisters. I match Carol from 71-74. So that confirms that the orange segment on the bottom right is from my mother’s Lentz side.  And then more specifically through my mother’s mother’s Lentz mother’s Nicholson side. This change at positions 71 from green to orange on my mother’s father’s side to my mother’s mother’s side corresponds to the actual previous Kitty Munson DNA map where the color went from orange to light yellow.

There will be more time to look at Nicholson DNA in the future. For right now, I am glad that DNA has brought back together a family that settled in the Philadelphia area from Sheffield, England in 1870. My mom has only mentioned fond memories of her Nicholson grandmother. Those included Annie Nicholson Lentz’ cooking abilities and bringing my mom to church as a child. I expect other Nicholson branches have similar great memories.

My Hartley Big Y Results: Part One

Back before I got my Big Y results, I wrote an article called My Hartley YDNA. This covered issues relating to Hartley SNPs and STRs. As many know, the Big Y is the ultimate Family Tree DNA product for testing the YDNA that is passed down from father to son since the beginning of such passing down of YDNA. While other YDNA tests identify existing STR and SNP markers, it is the purpose of the Big Y to look at one’s DNA and discover new SNPs.

Hartley Big Y Testees

As far as I know there are a total of 3 Hartley Big Y testees – including me. I am correctly but awkwardly saying testees as the testers are those in the lab testing the DNA. I may slip back to the more comfortable ‘tester’ at some point.

William on the I Line

The first Hartley to have the Big Y is William who is the Hartley DNA administrator. He is in the I Haplogroup. In the old nomenclature, he would be along the line of I1a2a1a2. I1 and I2 are the main I branches and are extremely distantly related to other known Hartleys – at least by YDNA. Other Hartleys so far tested have been R1b.  I agree with what William says about his connection to other Hartleys:

My last common [I1] ancestor was about 1,800 years ago and also likely an Angle [Anglo-Swedish Angle]. So that commonality may be why we both later adopted the Hartley surname and both our ancestries are found around Yorkshire and Lancashire.

I added the I1 in brackets for clarification.

The second Hartley Testee: James Hartley ancestor – R1b-S1051

The second Hartley testee was more closely related than the I1 Haplogroup. We are both in the R1b group.  Further, we are both in the L21 group. This group has sometimes been associated with the Celts. L21 is also associated with the older peoples that lived in the British Isles prior to the arrival of Vikings, Anglo Saxons and Normans. However, our common ancestor was likely 1,000’s of years ago.  The second Hartley testee is in a tiny branch called S1051 which I have pointed out with a red arrow. I am in the gold regions of L513 a few steps up from S1051

L21 Tree S1051

This chart is from July 2015. I believe that it is no longer updated as it has gotten so crowded due to Big Y testing. There are 151 people in the R-S1051 Project. According to the R-S1051 Project web page:

Recently many new SNP’s have been discovered for this unique haplogroup which is located below DF13. 

The majority of this family group have 5 main Patriarch SNP’s (S1051, FGC9655, FGC9661, FGC9658 and FGC9657). The current age estimate for these Patriarch SNP’s is approximately 3,200 to 4,500 years old and likely originated within what is known as the Bell Beaker culture. When examining other haplogroups of a similar age the S1051 people are very few by comparison.

Evidence suggests that the geographic origin of this family group could have been from what is now modern Scotland.

Our fellow Hartley Big Y testee #2 is on the FGC9655 Line. Here is my attempt to spray paint out the IDs below on the Alex Williamson Big Tree:

Alex S1051 tree

It looks like our Hartley has the most Big Y company in the R-S1051 Group. The belief is also that the Hartleys came from the North of England originally. This theory that this S1051 group was from Scotland originally would tend to support the Northern UK origins of the Hartleys. Brewer in the reddish color has not been analyzed yet, so things are still developing in the FGC9655 SNP Group.

That is a good segue into my results. I called this blog Part One because, like Mr. Brewer, my results have not been analyzed yet either. Due to all the Big Y testing recently, there has been a bit of a backlog in analyzing the results.

The Third Testee (Me) – R-L513

I already knew where I was on the L513 Chart. Now, due to the fact that I have taken the Big Y test, I am listed on the top part of the tree. This is like being elevated to YDNA Heaven.

L513 Tree June 2016

Here is a closer up shot:

L513 Blowup

I am hoping that other Hartleys will test and find to be positive for Z17911. Like Hartley Big Y Tester #2, I am in the Big Tree. Unlike Tester #2, my data has not been analyzed by Alex Williamson, so I am still shown in a reddish color. This time I’ll erase the kit numbers for privacy:

Hartley on Big Tree

Way at the top, there is Smith. He is positive for a SNP named Z16357. All the other names share the Z16357 SNP with Smith. Smith does not share Z16343 and the block of other SNPs listed below with Hay(e)s, Pillsbury, Merrick, Thomas and Hartley. The tree portion above shows that Hay(e)s is down from the Pillsbury Line. Merrick, Thomas and Hartley have only 2 named SNPs: Z17911 and Z17912. A few other observations:

  • If one is positive for Z16343, then they are likely positive for most or all of the other SNPs listed in the Z16343 block
  • There is no one currently that is positive for Z16343 that isn’t also either Z17911 or Z16855
  • If we maintain the 150 years per SNP, then the block of about 25 SNPs in the Z16343 block could represent 3,750 years. There are some detailed reasons why that number of years could be less. However, it is still a long amount of time.

Public SNPs, Private SNPs, Terminal SNPs

But wait, there’s more. There are different categories of SNPs with different names. The terminology can get confusing. A terminal SNP means the last SNP on your line that you could be based on current knowledge. For me, that is Z17911. However, what was terminal in the past, what is terminal now and what may be a terminal SNP in the future are different things.

Public SNPs are those SNPs with listed names such as Z17911 or those in the block under Z16343. These are also a moving target. At one time, these SNPs were just position numbers.

Private SNPs are those that are not yet public SNPs or may be family SNPs. Family SNPs are those that just belong to a single family name – probably within a genealogical time frame. So, if your genealogy goes back 350 years, there could be on average 3 SNPs during that time. Those would be considered family SNPs.

Novel Variants and unique SNPs

FTDNA reports Novel Variants. In my Big Y test, I have 30 Novel Variants listed. Those that are not shared by anyone else would be considered my unique or private SNPs. Note that this definition of Private SNPs bumps up against the Private SNP definition that I had above which was a family SNP. This means that either I have it wrong or there are 2 different ways of looking at Private SNPs.

Here is a screen shot from an excellent video called,

Building a Family Tree with SNPs, STRs, & Named People (Maurice Gleeson)

Maurice SNP Types

Hopefully the above diagram simplifies my complicated explanation.

The Mike Walsh L513 Discovery Spreadsheet

I am fortunate to be in the R-L513 Haplogroup with Mike Walsh as an administrator. He is very active in that group looking for new people to further test and for people who aren’t in the group already but perhaps should be due to the signature of their STR tests. He has developed a Discovery spreadsheet based on the Big Y results – specifically from the VCF files. VCF stands for Variant Call Format. Here is part of his file for my little piece of the YDNA world which includes Hay(e)s, Pillsbury, Thomas, Merrick and Hartley.

Walsh Discovery

Here we have the SNP position number. The H is the YDNA group based on STRs. The status looks to be Public consistent, public semi-consistent, multi-family surname or single family surname. These statuses are analogous to the public and private SNPs that I was mentioning above. Grade is how good the SNP is. Frequency is how many times it occurs – in this case out of the 6 people in the test group. Then the results are colored according to the grade and other factors for Hayes, Pillsbury, Hartley, Merrick and Thomas. Note that the SNPs with poor grades were never named. They are just position numbers.


Here is the second page of the Discovery Spreadsheet:

Discovery p2

The blanks are no-reads. These would be inconclusive. Red means that there was a read, but the SNP was not present. This shows that for the Z17911 and Z17912 SNPs, Hayes and Pillsbury were negative and Hartley, Merrick and Thomas were positive. That is how these two groups separated ways and are on different branches of the L513 SNP Tree.

Does the Spreadsheet tell us anything new?

When Mike first added me to his spreadsheet, he noted the following:

This isn’t on the Big Tree but Merrick and Thomas have this which you do not have:

Here is the unnamed SNP Mike mentioned that I don’t have:

Discovery part3

Note that Hayes, Pillsbury and Hartley are negative for 19581481 and Thomas and Merrick are positive for it. This was a little different than the Z17911 above. It appears that 1951481 at the bottom of my screen capture may become a named SNP for Merrick and Thomas and put  them in a branch below me. So perhaps my Big Y has helped someone else after all. Perhaps the next Big Y tester will in this region will help me out.

The YFull Analysis

While I am waiting for Alex Williamson’s analysis, I am also waiting for a YFull analysis. This is a company in Russia that will look at the BAM file from the Big Y test. They will add my results to their YFull tree. They also give estimated dates to my SNPs. Finally, they will, as a lesser priority, find STRs that they can extract from the Big Y test. The only downside is a small fee and that I will only be compared to others that are in the YFull system.



Looking for Frazer DNA in All the Right Places

In my last Blog on Frazer DNA, I summarized all the Frazer Triangulation Groups (TGs) that I knew about. Since that time, I ordered a Big Y test for myself. I also wrote some blogs on the DNA of my wife’s Dicks family from Newfoundland. I used a more methodical way of looking for TGs with the Dicks family. Also I was able to conclude more about the TGs that I did find. As a result, I thought that I would take a fresh look at the Frazer TGs.

Summary of the Previous Frazer TG Summary

  • There were 11 TGs
  • 14 people were in those 11 TGs
  • Those 11 TGs represented 7 groups. Those 7 groups were 7 different Frazer ancestors – or ancestral couples that were born between about 1690 and 1803. These Frazer ancestors were mostly on the Archibald Line. However, one TG was believed to represent the founding father of the Frazers in Ireland. He was Archibald Frazer born about 1690.

New and Improved Frazer TG Analysis

This time I looked at some of the extra people that have been shown to match our group, but aren’t sure where their Frazer ancestors fit in. I compared all the project Frazer descendants in a Gedmatch utility called Multiple Kit Analysis. I downloaded those results into a spreadsheet. That resulted in 1280 segment matches between all those that tested. I have 27 testees in the current study. I left out daughters as their mothers (Charlotte, Vivien and Clyde) had the better DNA for analysis.

archibald Line testees
  1. Bill
  2. Pat
  3. Gladys
  4. Heidi
  5. Joel
  6. Sharon
  7. Paul
  8. Michael
  9. Jane
  10. Ros
  11. Cathy
  12. Doug
  13. Vivien
  14. David
James Line Testees
  1. Prudence
  2. Charlotte
  3. Mary
  4. Jonathan
  5. Janet
  6. Joanna
  7. Judith
  8. Bonnie
  9. Beverly
  10. Clyde
Testees unsure of their frazer ancestry
  1. Karen
  2. CA
  3. Jenn
  4. Melissa
  5. Stephanie

The Ground Rules For the Frazer Triangulation Groups

  • As I mentioned above, I didn’t include any children where the parent would provide as good or better DNA
  • I didn’t include siblings in a Triangulation Group. I used them individually, but not together. So for example, there are 2 sets of 3 siblings in the project. They would obviously triangulate with their own parents as common ancestors. Or if 2 siblings’ DNA matched another person in the group, I would not count that as a TG. The reasoning is that siblings all get their DNA from their parents and they are treated collectively as one person for the purposes of triangulating.
  • I did use niece/nephew to aunt/uncle relationships in triangulating. The reasoning here is that they are getting their DNA from different sources. I found in the previous study that I did, very often the niece would be in the TG and the aunt wouldn’t, for example.
And the answer is:

Rather than go through every TG individually, I will just give the final answer.

New Frazer TG Summary

  • Now I’m up to 29 TGs from a previous 11 TGs
  • Due to overlapping TGs in different generations of ancestors, there were 2 TGs that I counted in my previous analysis that I didn’t count here.
  • There are 24 People in these TGs
  • The Frazer TGs are indicated in green
  • Blue could be McMaster TGs – which is confusing as my McMaster ancestor had a Frazer grandmother
  • Pink could be Price TGs. The only people in these TGs descend from George Frazer b. 1858 and Susanna Price.
  • There are 5 groups of people.
    • The first descend from Richard Frazer b. 1777 (or from his brother Philip, but for simplicity, I left him out)
    • The second group descend from Richard Frazer b. 1777 or from Archibald Frazer b. 1778. These people have ancestors in both groups.
    • The 3rd group descends from Archibald Frazer b. 1778
    • The 4th group are not sure of their Frazer descent
    • The 5th group descend from the James Line of Frazers.
  • Note that TG01A is probably an Archibald/Stinson TG. This is because Vivien descends from Archibald and not Richard. That brings Michael and Jane (who descend from either Richard or Archibald) into Vivien’s Archibald camp.
  • TG01B is probably a Richard 1777 TG. This uses the same logic. Heidi and Paul descend from Richard and not Archibald, so they pull Michael and Jane into the Richard camp.
  • Other TGs’ ancestors can be guessed at using the same reasoning
  • Where there are people in a Richard 1777 TG there are not people in an Archibald 1778 TG and vice versa. This makes sense as people in those 2 groups descend from either Richard or Archibald.
  • TG12 is popular with 7 people in this group.

Highlighting Some James Line TGs

tg02A & TG02B – Paul, Heidi, Sharon, Jonathan and Stephanie

Jonathan had a small match that put him in the first of these 2 TGs:

TG02 Jonathan

Here there are 2 TGs, but they are difficult to see. The first one I didn’t have before as it required me to lower the thresholds for Jonathan’s match to Paul. So the first TG includes Paul, Heidi, Sharon and Jonathan. The second TG, I didn’t have in my previous TGs, because I didn’t include Stephanie. She is in the second Triangulation Group and Paul is out. On my first chart, I have these 2 TGs in blue as they may go back to my McMaster ancestor (whose grandmother was a Frazer)

McMaster Ancestry

TG15B – Charlotte, Mary, and Paul


Here, I noticed that Charlotte and  Mary matched. This was not surprising as they are aunt and niece. Also Charlotte and Paul matched. However, I wasn’t showing a match between Mary and Paul which would make the last link of the TG. I lowered the thresholds between Mary and Paul and found the missing link. In my master chart, I show this TG in blue as this could also be a McMaster match. This is combined with the fact that Charlotte has an X match with my 2 sisters. The X cannot travel from a father to a son, so is not a good indication of a male line (in this case the Frazer Line). However, as shown in the Ancestry tree of my grandmother above, there could be an X connection between my sisters and Charlotte to a Frazer via the McMaster Line. Paul would not have this same X match as he got his X Chromosome from his non-Frazer mother and no X from his Frazer father.

TG17 – Doug, Bonnie and Beverly


Here, again, I lowered the threshold and found that Beverly and Doug did match, forming a TG. I don’t know if Doug has any ancestors along the Knott line, but there are many other possibilities where these 2 families could match up including Archibald Frazer born about 1690.

Richard 1777 or Archibald 1778?

Here is an interesting TG. It is made up of Bill, Gladys and Jane. As far as we know, these 3 are both descended from both Richard and Archibald. However, look at the details:


Here it is important to note who isn’t in the TG as well as who is. Cathy and Michael match, but are not in the TG – even though they match on a segment where they could be in the TG. Cathy is the only one out of the 5 above that does not potentially descend from Richard Frazer born 1777. This means that the Michael/Cathy match would be on the Archibald/Stinson Line. This further means that the TG with Bill, Gladys and Jane is more likely to be on the Richard Frazer Line.

In a less likely scenario, perhaps Michael and Cathy only got the Stinson DNA and Bill/Gladys/Jane and Michael got only Frazer DNA. Or vice versa. The last scenario would be difficult to prove unless one group matched a Stinson who wasn’t related to a Frazer. Nothing is easy.

And Finally, the Puzzling TG09A-D

TG09A & B don’t look too complicated:


They look like the standard Bill/Gladys/Pat [Frazer/Price] TGs. However, adding in TG09 C & D:


It looks like there is a blue TG nested inside the gold TG. Then inside them both is a non-TG match between Ros and Vivien which is on a different line –  the John Parker Frazer (born 1827) Line.

A closer look at Chromosome 9: Sharon, Paul, Pat and Gladys

Here is Sharon’s Chromosome 9 map. She is on the first row. I am on the second row and my other sister Heidi is on the third.

Chr9 Map

Sharon’s DNA is represented by the top orange/purple bar. I show her with no crossovers. I also show that she received her paternal (top bar) and maternal (bottom bar) grandmothers’ DNA intact. Now Sharon’s Frazer grandmother got her DNA from her 4 grandparents. These would be: Frazer, McMaster, Clarke, and Spratt. Paul only matches with Frazer and McMaster. Bill, Gladys and Pat only match with Frazer.

Note that Bill and Gladys and Pat and Gladys match from about 1-90. This would indicate a large chunk of DNA that they inherited from George Frazer, born 1858. Then out of that large chunk, George got his DNA from his 4 grandparents. In this case, two of his 4 grandparents were first cousins, Violet and James Frazer.

Let’s follow Sharon’s matches down the list.

  • From 4-9, she matches Paul and is not in the TG with Bill, Gladys and Pat
  • From 38-78, she is in a TG with Paul and Karen. These 2 matches could be a McMaster match as  Sharon, Paul, Karen are not matching Bill, Gladys or Pat in this segment
  • From 18-23, she matches her sister Heidi, but this is a non-Frazer maternal match
  • From 85-90, she is in a TG with Pat and Gladys. Their common ancestors are James Frazer and Violet Frazer.
  • So, even though Sharon could have matched Bill, Gladys and Pat from 0-90 where they had a large match with each other, she didn’t. She only matched them starting at location 85. Something happened there. This is the precise point where I surmise that she went from matching on the McMaster Line to the Frazer Line.

This is how it could look mapped out on Chromosome 9

Chr 9


  • Sharon appears to have all her Chromosome 9 from her Frazer grandmother
  • Pat and Gladys match from 12-90. They are also in a TG which would indicate by itself a common ancestor of either George Frazer b. 1858 or his wife Susanna Price. As Bill and Gladys also match between 1-90, I could have shown the purple segment as going further to the left.
  • However, Sharon is in a a TG on a portion of this same DNA segment (see the red above).  That red TG identifies Gladys’ purple segment above as being Frazer and not Price. The common ancestors between Gladys and Sharon in red are James Frazer or Violet Frazer. I drew the red to the 100 mark as Gladys and Sharon match each other from 85 to 100.
  • Sharon matches Paul from 22-86. However, this match does not match with Gladys in the same area of her Chromosome 9 where we have established she has a long Frazer DNA segment. Sharon and Paul have as common ancestors George Frazer b. 1838 and Margaret McMaster. As Sharon and Paul don’t match Gladys in this Frazer region of Gladys’ DNA segment, the match between Paul and Sharon must be through the McMaster side. There aren’t any other options left. [See the chart below.]
  • Violet Frazer descends from Richard Frazer. As there are no other matches of Richard Frazer descendants in this [red] TG, it would be more likely that the common ancestor is James Frazer, Violet’s first cousin.

Here is how the red TG09D looks like on the Frazer Chart:


Violet-James TG

I don’t have any photos of James and Violet Frazer, but here is their house in Derrycastle (or Derrycashel) Roscommon:

Derrycashel House

My cousin, James Frazer and my wife were checking out the front doorway in 2004. Without the help of my Frazer relatives in Ireland, I would not have been able to locate this house.

A brief note on the importance of triangulation groups

In my blogs, I tend to put a lot of emphasis on Triangulation Groups. They are important, but especially so for relationships where we have little to no paper documentation. When I first found Bill as a relative, I had to convince him that we were related. I was only really guessing as I didn’t have definitive proof myself. Now, with DNA, we see that my guesses were accurate.

TGs have less importance where the relationships are known and documented. It is interesting that Bill, Gladys and Pat are in TGs, but whether they are or if they just match singly, they already know how they are related to each other. The same is true of Vivien and Ros in my last example. They are not in a TG with each other on Chromosome 9, but they know that they are related and who their common ancestors are.

Summary and Conclusions

  • My recent work with my wife’s Newfoundland side of the family resulted in many more TGs than I had found in the Frazer DNA Project. Many of those TGs resulted from Aunt and Uncle relationships. Armed with that information and looking at the Frazer Project matches in a more methodical way, I found many more TGs
  • I also found some TGs where there were 2 people in a triangle and a third didn’t match. By lowering the thresholds at, it became clear whether the third person would match the other 2 or not.
  • By looking at who is and isn’t in the TGs, as well as looking at nested TGs, it is possible to make educated guesses of which ancestors a TG represents. This comes in especially handy when a TG that could be from more than one Frazer Line.
  • Only 4 people in the project did not triangulate. They are Judith, Joanna, Prudence and Clyde – all from the James Line. That may be due to the fact that the relationships tend to be more distant in that Line. Also there are no known Frazer cousin marriages in that line. One other person in the unknown group, Melissa, did not triangulate.