The Gedmatch DNA Results of Donna: My Mom’s First Cousin Twice Removed

I previously wrote a Blog about Donna here. Here is how AncestryDNA shows that Donna is related to me:

The problem with AncestryDNA is that they don’t show the specifics of how we are related by DNA. But does show:

Donna and I have a better than usual match. We are 2nd cousins once removed, but we share as much DNA as 2nd cousins. We share 220.5 cM of DNA:

233 is about average for second cousins. However, I am within the reported range for 2nd Cousin once removed.

Donna and DNA Painter

DNA Painter is a utility that maps DNA matches. Here is my current maternal side:

Our common ancestors are JH Rathfelder and M.E.L Gangnus in orange:

The orange and grey segments represent my other second cousins. Iain is in grey and is a brother or cousin to Donna. I’ll add Donna to DNA Painter:

Donna adds new information on Chromosomes 10, 12, 14 and 16. That brings up my Maternal side DNA from 32% painted to 34% painted.

Painting My Mom

Painting my mom should make a bigger difference. That is because Iain tested at 23andMe. I have tested there, but not my mom, so she doesn’t show Iain’s results.

My mom has only 24% painted overall:

Rathfelder/Gangnus shows as medium blue for my mom.

Here is my mom’s paternal DNA:

I plan to add quite a bit to the blue by adding in Donna’s DNA matches to my mom. Here is how Donna matches my mom at Gedmatch:

I’ll add Donna to my mother’s paternal grandparents’ DNA in grey below:

That brings my mom from 19% painted to 27% painted on her paternal side:

Overall, that brings my mom from 24% painted to 28% painted.

Previously, my mom had no DNA mapped on Chromosome 21. Now she has each of her chromosomes at least partially mapped.

Donna’s Other Cousins with Latvian Ancestry

All of these people are listed at Gedmatch except for Iain. He tested at 23andMe. Also I don’t see Ingrid at Gedmatch. Inese and Anita were at Gedmatch but they must not have opted back in yet.

Here is a matrix of all the matches:

This shows that everyone matches everyone else. The only exception is Jon and Astrid. However, as Jon’s five siblings match Astrid, that is not a big deal.

Here is a summary chart for Donna:

I would be curious to see how Donna matches with Inese and Anita from Latvia. Donna matches lower than average with Catherine but more than average with her other matches on average. Donna’s match with my cousin Cindy even seems to break a record:

I don’t know if this chart has been updated since 2017, but the highest reported amount of shared DNA for a second cousin once removed was 316 cM. Cindy and Donna share 329.5 cM.

Here is a tool from DNA Painter:

According to this tool second cousin once removed is possible 6.30% of the time but falls outside the 99th percentile of recorded values. Confusing.

Ancestry give Cindy and Donna’s relationship a 1% chance of happening:

Otis: Shared Match with Donna and Cindy

When I look at shared matches with Donna and Cindy, I see Otis.

His tree is a bit complicated due to some intermarriage. Donna should be in this tree also. Her grandfather was born in 1919, so between Herman and Vera. Also I need to paint Otis into my mother’s DNA Painter Map.

Otis brings my mother up to 31% painted on her paternal side:

My mom and Otis share a good amount of DNA:

I assigned the DNA to the closer Schwechheimer ancestor, but the more distant one is possible also.

Here is how Donna and Otis match:

Something to Consider: DNA Vs. Genealogy

The DNA cannot prove that my mother’s Uncle Leo Rathfelder was the father of Donna’s grandfather Leo Rathfulder Barlow. However, the name of Donna’s grandfather in conjunction with the DNA evidence makes a compelling case. From the DNA even my grandfather Alexander Rathfelder could have been the father of Leo Rathfulder Barlow. In that scenario, Leo Rathfulder Barlow would be my mother’s 1/2 brother and Donna would be my mother’s 1/2 great niece. The average DNA match for a 1/2 great niece is 432:

Compare this to my mom’s match with Donna at 463.4 cM. That would then make me a 1/2 first cousin once removed to Donna:

Oddly, this scenario makes sense given the level of DNA matches.  The average DNA matches of myself, siblings and first cousins were 212.8 cM. In addition, I have a photo of my grandfather Alexander that shows he was in London. I dated it as being around 1915, but I’m not sure what I based that on – probably his arrival in New York City in January 1916..


The objections to this scenario are:

  • If Leo Barlow was the son of Alexander , why would he have been named for Alexander’s brother Leo?
  • As Alexander jumped ship in New York City on January 15, 1916, I would think that it would have been unlikely that he would have gone to sea again. According to his naturalization papers, Alexander was called a “deserting seaman”.
  • I have postcards addressed to Alexander in New York City dated 1916 and 1917. Alexander was in New York City in the 1920 Census.
  • According to my Rathfelder Website, I have an undated postcard from Leo to my grandfather. That postcard was sent from England and gave Leo’s address as Glasgow.
  • I have no evidence that my grandfather Alexander was in England in 1918 or that Miss Barlow was in New York at that time.

Summary and Conclusions

  • DNA results suggest that my grandfather could have been the father of Leo Rathfulder Barlow. However, circumstantial evidence suggests that Alexander’s brother Leonhard Florentine Rathelder was the father.
  • Either way, Donna descends from the Rathfelder family with roots in Hirschenhof and Riga, Latvia.
  • It is always great to find a new cousin. It seems we are spread out a bit, though, between the US, England and Latvia.
  • Next I will look at another Latvian DNA match that I have at MyHeritage.
  • I could have used DNA triangulation to show more proof of how Donna is related to her Latvian relatives. However, that would have been a lot of work, and it is already clear that she is fairly closely related.



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