My wife’s father had his DNA tested at FTDNA before he passed away. I also had his two sisters’ DNA tested at Ancestry. I’ll use his sister Virginia’s AncestryDNA results for Autoclustering as a stand-in for my later father-in-law Richard.
I could have picked either sister, so I picked Virginia for no special reason. Actually, my thought was to pick Lorraine, as she is closer in age to Richard, but I picked Virginia. I chose a low threshold of 12 cM for the AutoClustering.
First the Genealogy
Virginia and siblings have half French Canadian and half Irish DNA. In my experience, the French Canadian DNA tends to take over. This is due to the common ancestry of French Canadians, and many descendants who have tested.
The top part of the tree is Irish and the bottom is French Canadian. I am more interested in the top because there are some missing black arrows. Those are the places where there are missing ancestors. The ancestry is filled in to the level of 2nd great-grandparents. The column on the right represents third cousin, but in many matches this should show as third cousin, once removed.
Looking at Virginia’s AutoCluster
Here is the key for Virginia’s Clusters:
The Key is on the Chart, so there are grey dots representing those that didn’t fit well into the clusters. Cluster 1 is no doubt French Canadian. Between Cluster 18 and 19, the cluster size goes down from three to 2. These numbers do not include Virginia who is in every cluster.
Name That Cluster
The game is to name the clusters. Before I do that, I notice that there are not too many grey dots between the first and second Cluster. I take that to mean that these two groups are not closely related. Perhaps the green Cluster is Irish and the orange is French Canadian.
Identifying Cluster #1
This should be easy as there are so many people. First I go to the list of people below the chart and search for Virginia’s second cousin Fred who is an avid genealogist. He is there in Cluster #1.
Fred’s shared ancestors with Virginia are here:
However, there are 120 members in Cluster #1. Next, I went down the list of people in Cluster #1. The last person I had notes for was Girard. Here is Michel’s Shared Ancestor Hint (SAH) with Virginia:
Michel has 72 people in his tree. The problem with that is that Michel and Virginia could have shared ancestors on other lines. Here is Louis Marie Henri Girard and his wife on Virginia’s tree:
I would say that Louis Girard is a hint as to where the cluster is going. I’ll try another SAH. The next person going up the list has six SAH’s and a large tree. Here is the most likely source of the DNA that is shared between Virginia and this match:
These matches so far tend to be around the bottom of Virginia’s French Canadian Tree:
I’ll try one more. The next SAH has over 1,000 people in his tree and his common ancestor with Virginia is Francoise Gagne:
So far, I would say that these are all ancestors of Elizee Fortin and Rosalie Gagne. It is even possible that I could name this Gagne/Girard if the person with six SAH’s has an ancestor there. It turns out our six-matcher has these ancestors also:
That means I would tend to call this a Gagne/Girard Cluster. I like to get the name as far back as possible to be the most specific name for the cluster.
I’ll look at one more SAH to make sure. Lucie has a good tree, but six SAH’s. For some reason her first hint puts her at 6th cousin once removed to Virginia and her second hint puts her at 6th cousin to Virginia. I’ll choose the 6th cousin which goes to Pierre Girard and Marie Anne Vesina. This ancestral couple is also on the Gagne/Girard Line. This is not a life or death decision, so I’ll go with the Gagne/Girard Label for Cluster #1:
That’s one down and 33 to go. I like to keep track of these clusters in a spreadsheet:
This way I can expand to the right for Richard at FTDNA eventually.
I’m Guessing Cluster #2 Is Irish
However, as I look at my notes nicely displayed by AutoCluster, I see that this cannot be:
This means that the LeFevre side is not as closely matched to the Pouliot side as the Pouliot side matches some other names. This makes sense also.
Name That Cluster #2
It is obvious that Cluster #2 is on the LeFevere side. However, I want to be more specific as in Cluster #1 above. The match at the bottom of the list shows a SAH of Maguerite Anger. The husband is not shown as he is shown as marrying her three times. However, I assume that the husband should be there also:
The husband is Joseph Methot. I am now just showing the line of Virginia’s LeFevre grandfather Joseph Martin as we know that this cluster is along the LeFevre Line. If I were to name this Cluster based on a sample size of one, it would be Methot/Anger. However, I want to be more sure and it is easy to look at these SAH’s by just clicking on a link from the AutoCluster list of matches in Cluster #2.
Going up the Cluster 2 Match List from the bottom, the next SAH is here:
This brings the name of this cluster one generation towards the present:
Based on a sample size of two, I would name this cluster LeFevre/Methot.
I’ll call in Jane for a tie-breaker:
I can see that Jane adds evidence to my previous guess:
Cluster #3 – French Canadian?
By looking at the Cluster Graph above, it appears that the red cluster will be more closely allied to the Pouliot side. There are not as many linked trees for Cluster #3:
Judy has an unlinked tree:
Cousin Fred is not in this Cluster even though he is closely related. This could be a case that he is too closely related to Judy. Judy’s tree shows that she is a second cousin to Virginia on the Pouliot/Fortin Line. This seems to be the best name for this Cluster:
Cluster 4 – Slim Pickings on Trees
Cluster 4 has very few linked trees:
The match names appear to be French Canadian, so that is a hint. The largest tree above is private. From the above three clusters, it appears that I am getting different flavors of French Canadians. Match #3 has a small unlinked tree:
I really don’t want to build out this tree, though I could. I see Gobeil in Virginia’s tree here:
Alexandre is Virginia’s match #6 on Cluster 4. He also has an unlinked tree:
Here is another small tree from Match #8:
Again, I’m not willing to build out his tree. Match #9 had an unlinked tree and Match #10 had a small tree, but they were not helpful. I’ll go with Pouliot/Gobeil for now.
Cut to the Irish Side
This is going slowly, so I’ll start looking for Irish matches. Here is a Leeds color analysis that I did for Virginia about three months ago:
I need to pick out some of these green and blue matches and see where they cluster. The first match is Donna. She matches at 417.5 cM, so this is a case where I set the upper limit too low. The four in a row green Kerivan matches are also all too high for the upper match limit that I picked. Here is part of the tree of the first Butler match that didn’t get filtered out:
The common ancestors are Edward Butler and Mary Crowley. This match is in Cluster 12:
Based on the notes, I can see that I have been tracking three out of four of these matches. I wrote a message to John to see if he has any family history. It may be that he pre-dates the Butler/Crowley connection by one generation.
This Butler/Crowley Cluster is small, but important.
Is There a Kerivan in the House?
The green in the Leeds Color Analysis above stands for Kerivan. Here are some Kerivan descendants in Cluster 11:
I have written about Gaby already as a Kerivan relative. She is Thomas’ Aunt. Here is the tree showing how Virginia and Gaby connect:
Virginia is a second cousin once removed to Gaby and 2nd cousin twice removed to Thomas. Here are the common ancestors on Virginia’s tree:
David: Match #2 in Cluster 11
Here is David’s tree on his maternal side:
I am interested in David’s tree enough that I will build it out a bit. I’m curious to find the common ancestors. I start with David and mark the tree private at Ancestry. Here is David’s maternal grandmother Joan Kerivan in 1940 Newton, Massachusetts:
Here I use a split screen for working on David’s tree. The tree I am making is on the left and David’s tree is on the right:
I accepted Ancestry’s Joseph Edward Kerivan hint but not his wife as it was different than what David had. It seems like it should be an easy tree. I have the DNA match, the Kerivan name and the right area (Newton, MA).
Here’s David’s great-grandfather in 1910:
Next, Joseph’s birth record comes in handy:
I see on George E Kerivan’s marriage record, that his parents are John Kerivan and Alice. These are the couple that I am looking for. Here is part of my selective tree for David:
Alice is no doubt my wife’s ancestor Alice Rooney.
As an added bonus, I color-coded the Clusters in my summary spreadsheet based on my wife’s Aunt’s grandparents. These are the same colors I used in the Leeds Color Analysis.
The clusters are now taking shape. The magnitude of the French Canadian matches compared to the two Irish clusters is obvious.
Comparison with the Leeds Color Method
Next, I put the cluster names by the appropriate names from the previous Leeds Analysis I did:
I see that one of the people from the Butler Cluster was not in this analysis, so he must have gotten his test results since I did this analysis three months ago. The first green block that doesn’t have an assigned cluster represents Russel. Russel is in Cluster 7.
Cluster 7 – Kerivan?
Here are Virginia’s seven Cluster 7 relatives:
Here is Russell’s tree on his mother’s side:
Time for a Quick Tree for Russell
I found this hint at Ancestry for Thomas Kerivan:
This gets me to where I want to be. Here is my quick tree for Russell:
One might wonder why there is another Cluster for this same couple. It could be that one Cluster is Kerivan and one is Rooney.
Here is Sandra. She has the same mother as Russel, so I could have saved myself some time:
Actually, there is a Rooney in this cluster, so I’ll call this the Rooney/Kerivan Cluster.
There are a few new people in the Rooney/Kerivan Cluster that I should get in touch with.
Cluster 19 – A Butler Cluster on the Outskirts
Here are Brian and Michael:
I associated Brian with the Butler family due to a shared match with Patty. Neither Brian nor Michael have family trees, but it would be worthwhile to follow up with these two.
My guess is that the Cluster 19 Butler predates the Cluster 12 Butler/Crowley families. This is a good place to be as I am trying to pin down a place in Ireland where the Butlers came from.
Where is Patty?
One Butler DNA match I have been tracking is Patty. I couldn’t find her in the AutoCluster. Based on her shared matches at AncestryDNA, I would have expected her to be in Cluster #12. AutoCluster provides a list of names that didn’t match other people. I didn’t see her in that list either.
Summary and Conclusions
- AutoCluster by Genetic Affairs continues to be a fun and useful tool to use to sort through your DNA matches.
- The program is similar to the Leeds method but is more useful and takes the guesswork and human error out of the equation for the most part.
- AutoCluster gives a visual as to where the bulk of the DNA matches are
- In this Blog AutoCluster highlighted some important new matches. It would be worthwhile to contact these new matches.
- The list of people in the Ancestry Clusters is especially helpful. I can click on each name and quickly go to their AncestryDNA match and see if they have a SAH or linked or unlinked tree.
- Even though AutoCluster is one of the best things since sliced bread, it is not perfect. I could not find Patty in the clusters. Also the runs that I get are spotty. It seems to work about half the time for me. I would like to get better results at Ancestry for myself and my mother, but am not able to get results at the thresholds that I want. It may be that these glitches will be fixed as this is such a new tool.