Phasing the X Chromosome

This is my 3rd Blog on the X Chromosome. In my first blog, I wrote about a large match my sister Sharon had with a previously unknown woman named Karen and where it likely came from along the lines of my Irish Frazer ancestors. In the next Blog I wrote more about that match and how Charlotte who was already in the Frazer DNA project matched and triangulated with my sister Sharon and Karen. My earlier posts:

The Nexus of X’s

The X Factor – Part 2

What is DNA Phasing?

DNA phasing is determining which side your DNA matches are on. According to ISOGG which is generally my standard reference source:

…it is the process of trying to determine which DNA came from the mother, and which came from the father. The term is usually applied to types of DNA that recombine, such as autosomal DNA or the X-chromosome. The benefit of phasing is being able to identify which ancestor a segment was inherited from.

In this blog I’ll just be writing about the X-chromosome phasing.

My Easy Male X Phasing

For males, the phasing is easy. I got all my only X-chromosome from my mother. That means my X is already phased. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have hardly any X matches. I have 8 X matches at Gedmatch above 10 cM. This is not counting my mom and 2 sisters. However 4 of those 8 have the same email address. That means that it is likely that they are related to each other. Here are my top 8 non-immediate family X matches from

Joel X Match Gedmatch

As I mentioned they are already phased as they are all from my mom. Here are a few observation on my few X matches (which Gedmatch labels Chr 23):

  • It appears that matches 3-7 match each other. This may be verified by performing a ‘one to one’ analysis at gedmatch. If they match each other, that would mean they triangulate and come from a common set of ancestors. When I checked match 3 against match 4, it appears that they are closely related as I expected. When I checked match 3 against the shorter match 7, I show a match. That means, as expected, I appear to be in a triangulation group with the 4 in the same family plus match #7.
  • From the details which are not shown, 7 of the 8 of these are from Ancestry. I am able to email these people and if they respond I may be able to see their Ancestry Trees and determine where these matches may be.
  • Matches 1, 2, and 8 show little to no overlap with each other and show no overlap with the larger group of matches.

Phasing My Sister’s DNA

In order to see any Paternal X matches, I will have to go to my sisters’ results. Each of my sisters got an X Chromosome from my dad. In fact, what they got from my dad was the same X that he got from his mom unchanged. But before, we get to my sisters’ paternal X, we’ll look at the maternal. My sisters also each received an X Chromosome from our mother.

My Sister’s X Maternally Phased

Wherever I match my sisters, this would also have to represent their maternal matches. So in a sense I am being used to maternally phase my sisters. Here is how I match them using the same gedmatch browser.

Joel's matches with Heidi and Sharon

Here, my #1 and #2 matches are my sisters Heidi and Sharon. Matches 3-10 are the same as my old matches 1-8 above. A few notes:

  • The colored segments in #1 and #2 represent the maternal X matches I share with my 2 sisters.
  • This shows how my sisters match my numbers 8, 9, and 10 matches.
  • Remember my cluster of matches that I thought should triangulate? Heidi (#1) doesn’t clearly match that group, but my sister Sharon (#2) does.
  • On the top right, I match my sisters, but we match none of my other matches below. I suspect that has to do with my mother’s father. He immigrated to the U.S. from Latvia in the early 1900’s and has very few DNA matches that I have found so far. When I search for Rathfelder or Gangnus in my DNA matches, I haven’t found anything so far. Some of the more distant German ancestors names come up, but not these.
  • Just looking at the groupings with my sisters, there are 4 different groupings. These represent segments my mother inherited from some of her ancestors. I say some, because she inherited no X from her father’s father. X is never passed down from father to son.

How Is This Helpful?

It is always helpful to know whether a match is on the maternal or paternal side. This eliminates half of your matches. DNA analysis can be looked at as a narrowing down process. Narrowing down 1/2 of many thousand autosomal matches can save a lot of time. However X Chromosome matches narrow down further. If there is a maternal X match, I know that it has to be in the following blue or pink areas of my mother’s ancestors.

Mom's X Inheritance

These matches are even narrowed down further. That is because in order to have a true X match you have to show that the person you are matching is also matching on the X Inheritance portion (pink or blue) of their own chart.

Finally, here are all my X matches from Gedmatch (except for my mom). There is a reason I’m showing you this.

X Match Joel All

Now I see 5 groupings.

  • In the second grouping under my longest match with #1 (Heidi), there are 2 subgroupings. These likely represent older families beneath the more recent family above them.
  • The 4th group (of one) #25 only matches me and no one else – not even my sisters.
  • Now look at my mother’s pink and blue chart above. At her great grandparent level, there are 5 people she could have gotten her X Chromosomes from. These are Gangnus, Lütke, Baker, Nicholson, and Ellis. It is possible that these 5 segments represent those families.
  • As I mentioned above, I have not come up with the surname Gangnus in any of my DNA searches so far. That tells me that Group 5 or the top right match with only my 2 sisters and no one else could represent the X Chromosome portion that we received from my mother’s great grandfather. He was Johann Philipp Gangnus born on 22 May 1829 at Hirschenhof, Latvia.

One of the reasons that I’m looking at my X results in such detail is that I don’t have many of them. The male X matches can be more significant that the female X matches. This is because the male’s matches are already phased. At a lower cM level, they are more likely to be real matches.

A Second Look: Phasing by Ancestry Composition

In my 5 grouping theory above, I guessed that I may have inherited all 5 of my mother’s possible X match families. Unfortunately, I have reason to doubt that. One reason is, that in my limited reading on the subject, the X Chromosome can be quirky and come down as an all or nothing thing. In other words, it would be unlikely that I would inherit all of these families’ X Chromosomes.

Not many companies look at the ancestry composition of the X Chromosome. I’m not sure why. I’ve tested at 23andme and they do. 23andme shows me as the following, taking into consideration all Chromosomes (1-22) and the X Chromosome:

23andme joel ancestry composition

This information is put on a chromosome browser. Note that there is a maternal and paternal section of the browser. Unfortunately, not having my mom tested at 23andme, I can’t tell which half is maternal and which is paternal. Also note there is just one line for the X Chromosome which for me is the only possible maternally matched X Chromosome.

joel 23andme chromosome browser ancestry

It is difficult to make out the differences in the blues, but when I look at the French and German side, I get the entire X Chromosome as well as some other chromosomes. As far as I know, my Nicholson and Ellis ancestors were from deep within England. If 23andme is right, it seems to indicate that I didn’t get any Nicholson or Ellis X Chromosome or it would show some X Ancestry as being British & Irish. My mother’s other X ancestors were German – either of late or from around colonial Philadelphia.

This means that I would have to go back another generation on the pink and blue chart above. This represents my mother’s 2nd great grandparents. When I take out the Nicholson and Ellis families, that still leaves me with 5 German families: Biedermann, Luetke, Fuhrmann, Baker and Faunce. My suspicions seem to be confirmed by my second cousin. Judy has tested at 23andme.

Judy, Where’s Our X Match?

Judy and I have many matches, but none on the X Chromosome. Based on the X Chromosome inheritance, I’m in line to share an X with her from our Nicholson ancestors. There are 3 possible reasons we may not share an X match: 1) my Nicholson X dropped out; 2) her Nicholson X dropped out; or 3) both of our Nicholson X’s dropped out! Perhaps Judy will upload her results to and we will be able to figure out more on how we match or don’t match based on my 2 sisters’ matches with her.

Judy and Me X

Above is the chart showing that Judy and I could share an X, but according to 23andme, we don’t. A few notes on this chart:

  • Judy and I have the potential to share Annie Nicholson’s X chromosome.
  • Jacob Lentz’ X makes it down to me (through Emma), but not down to Judy.
  • Wm Nicholson Lentz got his only X from his Nicholson mother
  • My grandmother Emma had a recombined X from her parents. Likewise my mom had a recombined X from her parents.
  • Likewise Judy’s mother had recombined X from her grandparents, and Judy had recombined X from her parents.
  • That means between Judy and me, Annie Nicholson’s X chromosome could have recombined at total of 4 times (2 on each side).
  • When I say recombined, I mean potentially recombined. The X sometimes ‘decides’ not to combine. Apparently that happened on one or both sides as Judy and I don’t share any or Annie’s red X Chromosome.

On To the Male Phasing of the X Chromosome

This is where I drop out. As a male I’m pretty useless. (I left that one wide open.) I’ll have to switch to my sisters’ matches now. One way to find out my sisters’ male phased X Chromosomes would be to compare their matches to a cousin. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my paternal cousin to test. I emailed, but got no response. Here’s how it would’ve worked out:

X from Paternal Cousin

The red shows that my sister and her paternal 1st cousin would share my father’s mother’s X Chromosome inheritance. But how would we ever find the X for my father’s father? The answer is that we couldn’t for my sisters because they only got my father’s X that he got from his mother which is unrecombined Frazer DNA. However, I have had my father’s 1st male cousin tested. He inherited an X from his mother who was a Hartley (my grandfather’s sister). So his X Chromosome should match with my paternal first cousin’s X Chromosome. This is because my Aunt got her Hartley X Chromosome from her father. And he got his from his mother who was a Snell. So it still doesn’t get at the Hartley Chromosome so much but gets closer to that side.

I think this is what ISOGG means when it simply says:

To phase your X-chromosome, all you need is knowledge of your ancestry.

It seems you need knowledge of your ancestry plus a lot of testing.

Any Other Ideas?

As I look at my spreadsheet for Heidi, her results from gedmatch are phased. How did this happen? Here is a portion of the chart:

Heidi's Phased X

Here the blue would be paternal X and the pink is maternal for Heidi’s matches. The large 56.2 match was discussed in my previous blogs and was believed to be from the Frazer side (which is my family’s paternal side). When I got my sister’s raw DNA results and uploaded them to gedmatch, I had them phased. Gedmatch has a program that takes your results and one of your parents and based on those results puts your results into a paternal file and a maternal file. I took the maternal side and ran all the matches at gedmatch. Then I took the paternal side of Heidi’s matches and ran all the matches. I combined the 2 and voilà got one file showing paternal and maternal matches for Heidi. This worked for Chromosomes 1-22 as well as the X Chromosome.

Sharon’s X Matches

Sharon's X Matchs

Here the matches to my sister Sharon with a Kit # are from Gedmatch. The other matches are from FTDNA. For some reason I didn’t get around to adding Heidi’s FTDNA matches. The 96.4 cM match is between Sharon and our mom. Blue shaded matches are Paternal and pink are Maternal.

Check Your Work

When I was in school, I was told to ‘check your work’. Here under Sharon’s match with A111074, I have a note on my spreadsheet that something doesn’t seem to add up. In this case, there are 2 ways to check if a particular match should be a paternal or maternal match.

  1. If I have the same match, as a male, that would have to be a maternal match for Sharon.
  2. I have Sharon phased. I can check Sharon’s maternal and paternal phased kits and see which one matches A111074.

From my spreadsheet, here is my X match with A111074

Joel's X match with Alice

Oops, A111074 matches me. That means she has to match Sharon on my mom’s side. When I check A111074 against Sharon’s phased kits, she matches Sharon’s maternal phased kit and not the paternal phased kit. So I need to correct this match of Sharon from paternal to maternal.

What If You Don’t Have a Parent to Test?

Having a parent to test can make the phasing part easy. If you don’t have a parent to test there are some other options:

  • Test cousins that would have shared X matches as mentioned above
  • Women may test a brother to find maternal only X matches
  • Triangulate to find groups. These groups will be either maternal or paternal – however your won’t know which. If you determine on maternal or paternal match in the group, the others will be the same.
  • If your parents are from different backgrounds the paternal or maternal aspect may sort out by matching others of those backgrounds. The fact that my X Chromosome seems to be all German as shown above is one example of how to do this. Another example would be my mother in law. Her mother’s side of the family was from Newfoundland. Her father’s side was from Prince Edward Island. She has a lot of matches with people with ancestors from these 2 places. In most cases that sorts out her matches into maternal or paternal – depending from which island they were from.

In summary:

  • All autosomal DNA has a maternal and paternal side. The one exception is the male tester’s X Chromosome. His is all maternal.
  • Knowing if your matches are maternal or paternal takes away a lot of guesswork in your matches.
  • Knowing your own X inheritance pattern as well as your match’s X inheritance pattern will give clues to where that match could be.

Spotlight on Frazer DNA Testers: Bill the Universal Donor

I’d like to spotlight each Frazer descendant that has donated DNA to the Project, but I don’t know if I’ll get around to everyone. I’ll start with Bill from Canada.

My blood type is O positive and I get a lot of calls from the Red Cross to donate blood. However, O negative blood type is called the universal donor. I’m calling Bill the Universal Donor in our Frazer DNA Project because he has so many Frazer ancestors. When I first asked Bill to have his DNA tested, I thought it would work well because I had that we shared 2 Frazer 3rd great grandparents. These were James Frazer and Violet Frazer. I had that they were married first cousins. James Frazer and Violet Frazer are the most recent common ancestors (MRCAs) between Bill and me. Most related people only share one MRCA with the same surname. The MRCA is what we are trying to confirm by DNA.

Bill’s Genealogy

When I first contacted Bill, it was before he knew of the connection to our North Roscommon Frazers. After trying to piece things together, I became convinced that his ancestors fit in with the genealogy that I had put together. Actually, at the time, I wasn’t 100% convinced myself, but I believe if you are 80% sure, that is pretty good. Bill was understandably cautious as I would be if someone contacted me and told me I fit into their family history. After going back and forth a few times, he apparently was convinced. Since then, I’ve found other links between his ancestors and North Roscommon that make everything fit in.

In the Archibald Frazer portion of the Frazer DNA Project, we are looking at 3 brothers of Archibald (b. about 1743). These are Philip, Richard and another Archibald. Actually, there was another son, John, but we haven’t been looking at him as he’s been under the radar.

Archibald Line Chart

This may be difficult to see, but Archibald is at the top. Then there is Philip, Richard and Archibald under him. Bill’s lines are in yellow. However, Bill is also descended from James, son of Philip, who married his first cousin Violet Frazer. That means that Bill descends from 3 Frazer brothers. That means he is also related to everyone in the Archibald portion of the project. Here are those testers and how they are related to Bill:

  • Paul: (awaiting results) 4C (4th cousin) twice (via James and Violet Frazer)
  • Me 4C twice (via James and Violet Frazer) just like Paul
  • David: 4C, 1R via Richard Frazer
  • Jane: 4C, 1R via Richard Frazer and Archibald Frazer
  • Michael: 4C, 1R twice through Richard and Archibald Frazer
  • Ros: 5c via Archibald Frazer/Ann Stinson
  • Cathy: 4C, 1R via Archibald Frazer/Ann Stinson
  • Doug: 5c via Archibald Frazer/Ann Stinson

I hope you see how many connections there are. There are actually more connections, because for each Frazer, there is another spouse (except for James and Violet Frazer who are already counted). Including spouses, here are the numbers of MRCAs:

  • Paul: 2
  • Me: 2 (However, my 2 sisters have been tested also, so this increases the chance of matches)
  • David: 2 (though we don’t know some of the Frazer spouses’ MRCA names)
  • Jane: 4
  • Michael: 4
  • Ros: 2
  • Cathy: 2
  • Doug: 2

This adds up to 22 connections or MRCAs just from Bill if I have it right (not counting Paul or Pat yet)! Now not all of these will result in a good DNA match. Around 50% of 4th cousins should result in a match. We, as Archibald Line DNA Testers, are on average at about the level of 4th cousin once removed, so we should be getting a bit less than half of the matches coming through to Bill. This is offset by all the Frazer ancestors Bill has. Here is a chart that puts it all together and helps it all make sense (at least to me).

Bill's Matches

This explains how everyone is related to Bill on the Archibald side of the Project. When looking at this chart consider also this simple Family Tree DNA Chart:

FTDNA Chances of Finding a Match

For my family, out of at total of 6 possible MRCAs, there were 3 DNA matches. Although, this seemed a little disappointing to me at first, this is about average or  for 4th cousins. The fact that 2 out of 3 of me and my sisters matched Bill at all would meet the >50% criteria. Jane hit the jackpot. She is at the same relationship level as David, but has more possible connections. Still, one would guess about 2 DNA matches. By the way, Jane specializes in statistics, so it figures she should get the best statistics here! She had 5 matches. Everyone else seems to be in line with the statistics with the exception of Cathy. She went 2 for 2 or at least one more match than expected.

You Think This Is Confusing Now?

Just wait. We have more tests about to be revealed. My second cousin Paul should have test results in a few weeks. Bill has a second cousin Pat with results coming out after Paul’s. This should more than double our current DNA matches. When Bill first asked me about Pat, I said ‘sure’ based on the number of matches Bill already had. Now I know why he has so many DNA matches. Bill and Pat’s 3rd great grandparents were Richard Frazer b. 1830 and Ellen Amelia Hassard. They were second cousins as they had the same great grandparents. Ellen’s mother was a Frazer. We’ll worry about that when we see Pat’s DNA test results. Here is a double dose of Frazers: Richard Frazer and Ellen Hassard (daughter of Ann Frazer):


The James Line

I don’t like to leave the James Line out. Bill matches Jonathan, Janet, and Joanna. These are 3 siblings from the James Line. In addition, he matches Carol. Carol’s ancestor made his way to Sacramento, CA at some point and had a lumber business there. According to Joanna, she and Carol share Joanna’s 2nd great grandfather. I have that they are 3rd cousins, twice removed. Joanna has been pondering how Bill, Carol, and her family could be related.

These James Line matches do not constitute a triangulation group. If they did, it would show that those in the group had the same ancestors. Here, Bill matches Carol on Chromosome #4. He matches Joanna, Jonathan and Janet on Chromosome #6. Carol matches Jonathan on Chromosome #7 and she matches Jonathan’s 2 sisters on Chromosome #11. This could mean a common set of ancestors, or it could show that Bill matches Carol in a different way (or from a different line) than he matches Joanna and siblings.

Any Questions?

  • Bill is in 2 Triangulation Groups (TGs). These both seem to point to Richard Frazer b. about 1777 and his unknown spouse. If this is the case, then which TG is for which spouse?
  • The 2 TGs as mentioned are for the family of Richard Frazer. His daughter was Violet Frazer, Bill’s and my Most Recent Common Ancestor. I had that she married James Frazer, her 1st cousin. James would also be an MRCA of Bill and myself. If this is the case, where are the DNA matches for these 2? Did this DNA get lost? After all, Bill and I are 4th cousins which means we have a little more than a 50% of having matching DNA. This may be answered once Paul’s and Pat’s DNA results come in. Another possibility is that I was off on my genealogy.
  • Along with the fewer than expected connection between Bill and my family, my family had more than expected with Michael. I’m not sure if this is due to the contrary spirit of DNA or if this is saying something there is something in our genealogical connections that we haven’t yet found.

What did we learn about Bill’s matches?

  • By looking at all the 22 possible relationships (or MRCAs between Bill and the Archibald Line DNA Testers), we see how Bill had 14 DNA matches. This is not counting his James Line DNA matches.
  • Even though Bill and I match a common pair of Frazer ancestors in 2 different ways, it appears that I only have 2 Most Recent Common Ancestors with Bill. Those 2 happen to be married first cousins. I had to look at the colored chart a lot to figure this out.
  • Assuming I did it right, my chart showing MRCAs and relationship levels seems to compare well with the number of DNA matches everyone in the Archibald side of the project has with Bill.

Bill has gone from not knowing he was one or our Frazers to playing a large part in contributing to the DNA evidence of the Frazer Genealogy. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next batch of tests show.



Starting to Map My DNA

One of my goals is to map my DNA. The human genome has been mapped. I just want to see where my DNA matches with my ancestors. Kitty Cooper has developed a tool for this. The idea is to associate as much of your DNA as you can to ancestors. Then these portions of the DNA associated to your ancestors are mapped with different colors. My paternal grandmother was a Frazer, so her DNA should account for about 25% of my DNA. The map splits up each Chromosome between Paternal and Maternal, so my DNA from my Frazer grandmother would take up about half of my Paternal side.

One way to determine DNA ancestors is by triangulation. I did this in an early [misnamed] blog called, “The DNA of Archibald Frazer and Mary Lilly”. I say misnamed, because at the time those were the 2 ancestors I thought my triangulation group was pointing to. In a subsequent blog, How I Added 2 Frazer Lines by DNA, I realized that this group more likely pointed to a couple a generation later: That was Richard Frazer and his wife. He was b. around 1777.

Based on the fact that I was in one of the 2 triangulation groups that pointed to Richard Frazer (and unknown wife) I could create a chromosome map. It wouldn’t be too interesting, but it would be a start.

1st Chromosome Map

This chromosome is all blank except for Chromosome #12. There, I put my triangulated matches into a spreadsheet. The matches were to David and Bill from Canada and Jane from Colorado. My 2 sisters also matched these Frazer descendants. It would have been more interesting if I had mapped my sister, Heidi as she at least had triangulated with the same couple at Chomosome #1. Plus she had higher matches with other Frazer descendants in general. Speaking of Heidi, in my previous misnamed blog I showed this graphic from Gedmatch:

Frazer Chr12

Theses are Heidi’s matches on Chromosome #12. She had the same matches as me. She has David (#2), Jane (#3) and Bill, (#4). I am showing as Heidi’s long segment match at #1. This red segment is what I have in common with my sister and is the DNA we both received from our father, though he is long gone and hasn’t been tested for DNA. I know that it must be from him, because he is the one that I get my Frazer DNA from. In fact, that DNA must be from his mother, who was a Frazer. Remember, I should have 25% of my DNA from her. So it stands to reason that the unbroken red match I have with my sister represents my Frazer Grandmother’s DNA.

By the way, this is the backwards way of doing things. The more standard way to map your DNA takes a lot more testing. First you test your parents to get maternal and paternal sides. Then test 2nd cousins on both sides. This will isolate your 4 grandparents. What I have done is tested my mother. I phased her at Gedmatch to get my maternal and paternal matches. I had my father’s first cousin tested. This is similar, but better than testing a 2nd cousin. He represents my father’s father’s side. But not all of it. Many Frazers have tested in the DNA project, but my closest relative in that testing project appears to be a 4th cousin, once removed. On my mother’s side, I’m having trouble getting people to test and/or upload to Gedmatch. So I will go with my current reasoning until I’m proven wrong.

I’ll put a face on that Frazer DNA. Here’s my grandma, nee Frazer.

Marion Frazer Photo

Here’s another Chromosome (10) where my 2 sisters match a Frazer descendant, MFA. We don’t triangulate, but based on genealogy, we’ll say there is a common Frazer ancestor or collateral line there somewhere.

The spreadsheet match looks like this:

Hartley MFA match Chr 10

The Chromosome browser version looks like this:

Sharonn Heidi MFA Chr 10 Gedmatch Browser

Here Line 1 and 2 are my 2 sisters Sharon and Heidi shown as they match to me. #3 is MFA, my 4th cousin, once removed. Using the same reasoning as above, I’ll say that the orange segment, top right, should also represent my Frazer grandmother. The orange on the left doesn’t. I actually match there to a cousin on my Hartley (non-Frazer) side. When I map this, I can map this to my father’s Hartley father.

Back to Chromosome Mapping Basics

The instructions for Chromosome mapping are to:

  • Test relatives or find relatives who have tested at Gedmatch, FTDNA or 23andme. Unfortunately AncestryDNA won’t work as they don’t tell you where you match on the chromosome. Thus no chromosome mapping for these AncestryDNA matches unless they upload their results to
  • Figure out if those relatives are from your maternal or paternal side
  • Figure out who the common ancestors are for your matches
  • Put this information in a file
  • Use the Kitty Munson application to make a map

The relatives I used for this chromosome map

  • My father’s cousin Jim – his mom was a Hartley. Our common ancestors are my Hartley great grandparents. He shows in the dark blue below
  •  I found cousin Judy at 23andme. It pays to have DNA tested at different places. Our Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCAs) are also great grandparent – this time on the maternal side. They will show as red – my Philadelphia ancestors. Up until recently I had virtually nothing on the maternal side of this map.
  • Various more distant Frazer relatives. The sure ancestors are the ones triangulated. Others are less sure. Once results come back for my 2nd cousin once removed, the chromosome map will look better.

2nd Chromosome Map

As you can see, most of my map is paternal. Chromosome #12 in dark green is the one I mentioned earlier where my grandmother’s Frazer’s DNA probably goes the length of that chromosome. I didn’t map her, as technically, I don’t have her as a most common ancestor based on people that I have tested.

Other things to notice:

  • Chromosome #1 shows where there are overlaps in paternal and maternal matches. Sorting your matches into maternal and paternal is one of the most important things in DNA matching. If you get that wrong, everything else is off track.
  • I mapped as the Archibald Frazer line those matches I had with MFA where I’m not positive on the MRCA between us.
  • I mapped as the James Frazer line, the match I have with Bonnie who is related on that line.
  • Some people use these maps to show all matches they have to a certain location – French Canadian, for example where they aren’t sure of all the details.
  • This is my own personal map. Everyone’s map would look different.
  • It would be possible to create a chromosome map for my father. This could be based on his Lazarus file. In that map, his Frazer ancestors would be on his maternal (mother’s) side. This map would show more matches as it would include the matches from my 2 sisters.
  • Chromosome mapping is a way to show a lot of complicated information in a simple way.

So all I have to do now is fill in the rest of the blanks!

Why Test the Y?

In this blog, I want to look at YDNA. This is different from the previous blogs where we were looking at the autosomal DNA or the atDNA. The autosomal DNA is good for going back about 200-250 years. If you are lucky, it may go back some more. Also the atDNA is for both your parents and all of the parents of those parents. When you take the Family Finder test or AncestryDNA test or similar this is what you are taking. And when you get matches, you are getting matches to all of your ancestors. These are matching with everyone else’s ancestors. Not only that, these matches may represent matches with the descendants of those ancestors that not many people even know about. It is like finding a needle in a haystack.

The YDNA is much different. It just follows the father’s father’s father’s line. All the way back. Back to genetic Adam. I look at it like a LASER type of test vs. the scatter gun approach of the atDNA test.

There has been only one tester so far for YDNA in the Frazer DNA project. There is a reason that we only have one tester so far. In order for the YDNA test to be significant for the Frazer DNA project, you have to be a male Frazer. It turns out that there are relatively few of these male line Frazers around that are available and willing to test their DNA. My second cousin once removed, who is a Frazer, has recently agreed to test his DNA. His grandfather followed my great grandfather’s lead in coming to Boston, Massachusetts from Ballindoon, County Sligo, Ireland. So I’m anxious to see how his YDNA matches with our first tester and whether this proves an unbroken line between the 2 branches of our Irish Frazers back to the early 1700’s.

STRs, Genetic Distance, SNPs and Haplotypes

Our first tester tested for 37 STRs. STRs are Short Tandem Repeats. This is now the basic test at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). However, at one time they were testing down to 12 or 25. These results are listed on the Fraser and Septs web page. According to that page, there are 1875 members. Our Frazer YDNA tester STR results are listed here.

Fraser YDNA Results

As you see, there are a lot of numbers. Everything seems to be reduced to numbers nowadays! These are the results for the R1a1 people in the Frazer group. There are only 3 people out of what I can only assume are 1,000 or more Frazer YDNA testers. The first R1a1 person is our tester. You see he has put down Archibald Frazer b. 1690 as his ancestor. The next tester also tested 37 STRs and the 3rd tested only 25 STRs. Note that all the testers spell their Frazer with a Z.

Each number in the chart stands for a different location on the YDNA. Taken together, these numbers create a YDNA type of fingerprint. The more STRs tested, the more specific the fingerprint. These locations were chosen as areas that are likely to change. The difference between the numbers of any 2 people is called the GD or Genetic Distance. This is a rough estimate of relationship. It is also a bit relative. Say someone has a GD of one when comparing two 111 STR tests vs. two 37 STR test. The GD of one for the 111 STR test comparison represents a much closer match. Here’s a closer look at the first 25 STRs of the R1a1 Frazers:

STR Locations

Frazer YDNA 25

The heading I put in doesn’t quite line up but are the locations of the STRs being tested. The first row below the heading is the maximum number for the STR. The second row is the minimum. The third row is the mode or the typical number. The purple numbers are below the mode and the pink numbers are above the mode. So our Frazer can be said to be a GD of 7 from the mode. This is because in the 7th column there is a difference of 2. All the other differences are one. For a GD of one in a 37 STR test, Family Tree gives the following chances of having a common ancestor:

Tip Chart GD1

Our current YDNA Frazer tester’s closest match is a GD of 1 match with a Frizelle. Perhaps this Frizelle was once a Frazer that changed his name to Frizelle. Or perhaps our Frazer name was once Frizelle. For comparison, his generations to the James of the James line would be 6 or 7 to the parents of the James and Archibald Lines.

Now all these STR numbers are used to estimate the Haplogroup. The estimated haplogroup is R1a1. This is the old name. The new name for R1a1 is R-M512 and  based on the test for that SNP. In the first screen shot there is a red R-M512 next to the 3 YDNA testing Frazers in the group. The SNP is red because it is estimated based on the STRs. If the SNP was tested, the color would be green. However, there is no need to test for R-M512 as the STRs already indicate that the SNP is R-M512. A SNP is a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. In other words, it is a specific test aimed at finding a haplogroup or haplotype. So one might say that a STR test is a general description of the YDNA based on specific markers. The aggregation of these markers result in a profile that can be used to compare with other profiles. It may also be used to estimate a haplotype. The SNP test is a very specific test looking for a specific crucial spot in the YDNA that proves a specific haplotype.

One of the goals for this Frazer DNA project is to show by YDNA that the James line and the Archibald lines are related. We are pretty sure they are. However, over the years, things can happen, so it’s good to be sure. This YDNA could be used to trace our Frazer back to other Frazers in Scotland.

What is R1a1?

I’m glad I asked. When our first Frazer tested, I was expecting the results to be R1b. This is quite a common haplogroup. This is what my Hartley YDNA came back as. Some people associate the R1b with the old Celtic peoples of the area. My Hartleys were supposed to come from the NW England which is near SW Scotland where our Irish Frazer supposedly came from. So it made sense for me to guess that the Frazers would also be R1b. As I scroll down the Fraser and Septs – YDNA Colorized Chart,  I see that many of the Fraser/Frazer names are under R1b.

The difference between R1a and R1b is quite large. I would guess that these 2 haplogroups split from each other 10,000 years ago or more. The R1a people took the Northern route out of Asia accross Scandinavia perhaps and ended up in the Northern part of the British Isles. The R1b’s took the Southern route, generally, around Spain or possibly shortcutting through France and up into the British Isles.

There are also internet groups just for R1a1a people of any surname. Here is a map from one of those groups showing the migration and peoples descending from R1a.


Notice that the Scots are near the Vikings. It would be interesting to see if our Frazers are positive for the L448 and L176 tests. That was the 2012 chart. There has been an explosion of testing over the last few years which has been difficult to keep up with and new branches are being discovered on a regular basis. Here is the 2015 chart:

r1a chart 2015

See all the extra branches at the bottom. Many of these are based on the Big Y DNA tests, that basically tests you for anything Y. You can see many more Scots branches near the 3rd little figure on the bottom. Unfortunately, our STR testing only gets us to about 6,000 B.C. This is caveman days, when our ancestors were still in Asia perhaps. However, as R1a is rarer than R1b the test should be good enough to show a male line match. Plus, the STR profile should be very similar.

Why Are So Few of our Irish Frazers R1a1?

There could be many answers to this question.

  • The Frasers/Frazers are apparently a large clan with many branches. Ours could be a separate one.
  • An early adoption of a Frazer could have created a different branch of the Frazers
  • DNA testing predates the adoption of surnames, septs, and clans. More than one group of people could have adopted the same surname, or become part of the same sept or clan. A review or our YDNA testing Frazer shows that his closest matches are with a Frizelle (GD=1) and a Grant and a Stuart (GD=2). This could indicate that the Frizelles, Grants and Stuarts could be related a point that predated surnames.

What Will it Mean if the Two YDNA Tests Do Not Match Each Other?

I am hoping they will match. If they clearly don’t match, then there will need to be additional testing to determine why and where that lack of matching occured. However, based on the autosomal DNA analyses done so far, I think there will be a match. There are many autosomal DNA matches between the Archibald Line descendants and the James Line Descendants. Here are the matches between the 2 lines. There are about twice as many matches since I wrote about this before in Frazer DNA – Celebrity Edition!

Matches Archibald James Lines

However, I can think of 3 ways to interpret these matches:

  1. This could be due to the fact that there were common collateral lines and these  matches are picking up the Frazer spouses common ancestors;
  2. this could be due to the fact that autosomal test is picking up this old Frazer connection that goes back to the early 1700’s or;
  3. the matches could be due to intermarrying between the 2 Archibald and James Frazer Lines subsequent to the early 1700’s.

So for now, we will sit back and wait for the new YDNA testing to come in. Then, as they say on TV, we will have our YDNA reveal.

News Flash: A Third Frazer Triangulation Group

A new Triangulation Group (TG) is big news. Perhaps not on the scale of a discovery on Mars, but on the level of Irish Frazer Genealogy and DNA research it is. Triangles have been studied since antiquity. Pythagoras did a good job of analyzing them. He came up with the Pythagorean theorem. There was also a whole philosophy based on his beliefs. Here is Pythagoras wearing his favorite tablecloth.


One of the more important things about triangulation, is that it can be used to find things. Given 2 distances and an angle, the 3rd distance can be determined. This may be helpful in determining the height of a tree which is otherwise difficult to measure or to find someone lost at sea.


Triangulation with DNA

With DNA, triangulation employs a similar concept. When 3 people all share the same segment of DNA and they all match each other on that same segment, that is what we call a Triangulation Group (TG). This means that there was a couple who lived at one time a long time ago and a portion of their DNA broke off as they had children. That same portion broke off into smaller pieces in different directions through the ages and came down to their descendants today and was still identifiable by the fact that there was a match between these 3 testers. I find it quite amazing that this would even happen.

The Existing Frazer Triangulation Groups

Everyone has Triangulation Groups. These are groups that indicate that, among your DNA matches, there are common ancestors. However, it is difficult to determine which common ancestors those TGs represent without a reference point. What we are trying to do in this Frazer DNA project is identify specific ancestors based on known Frazer genealogy and known DNA matches. The first 2 Frazer TGs consisted of descendants of Richard Frazer who was born around 1777.

Richard Frazer TG

When we first found the 2 TGs, there were only 3 testing families in the yellow, blue, and salmon lines that knew they had Richard Frazer as an ancestor. However, testers in the purple and green lines above also were in the TG. We discovered that based on some of the genealogy we had, that they would fit well  in the Richard line. This is where we used the triangulation. We used the genealogical principal of going from known (the known descendants of Richard Frazer) to discovering what was unknown (placing 2 triangulated families into the Richard line who were unsure of their genealogy).

The fact that I had my 2 sisters tested for DNA helped in finding these TGs. In places where my DNA was missing in a match, it was possible to find matches in one or both of my sisters. I’m in the blue Hartley line above.

The New Frazer TG

The new Frazer TG represents Archibald Frazer, the brother of Richard above.

Archibald TG

Actually, the DNA from the TG could’ve also have been from Archibald’s wife, Ann Stinson. But all the children were Frazers, so we’ll go with that for now. Due to cousin marriages, 2 of the families above were also in the Richard Frazer Triangulation Group. I’d like to thank Doug for testing as it was his recent test that brought out the crucial third match of this new TG. He had low to moderate expectations for his results based on the chart below. However, his testing paid off in what has been called the gold standard of DNA – a new Frazer TG.

Now, out of these 6 DNA testing Frazer families, only 3 made it into a TG. Why is that? One answer is random chance. The other reason is that due to the distance of relationships represented in the chart above, the chance of even having a match goes down.

Chances of Finding a Match

Many of the Frazer descendants that tested for DNA were at the level of 4th cousin or 4th cousin once removed. At that level, the chances of matching could be at 50% or less. So I suppose that it makes sense that only half of the testers made it into the new TG.

Here is what the new TG looks like on my spreadsheet:

Archibald Stinson TG

This tells us that Jane, DV and MFA all match each other. That is the TG. They match on Chromosome 4 for about 8-10 cMs along the position from about 162,000,000 to 174,000,000. These 3 are related at no closer than 4th cousins. In the chart above, Jane is the dull green colored line. DV is in the bright green line and MFA is in the Salmon colored line.

What About the 3 Testers That Are Not in the TG?

Does that prove that they are not descended from Archibald Frazer and Ann Stinson? No. They match each other by DNA singly, but, as mentioned above, due to the way the DNA came down, they didn’t happen to be in the 3 way matching TG.

In Summary

  • This new TG solidifies years of research and gives DNA proof of the work done in this Archibald Frazer/Ann Stinson Line.
  • Others who have already tested may be found to be in the same TG. They would be relatives in this line or perhaps a line that precedes this one. They may or may not have known of their Frazer or Irish ancestry.
  • For others who have not yet tested, it may help prove or disprove the research that they have done once they do test their DNA.

Uncle Naffy, DNA, and the Butler Brick Wall

This blog will be a departure from my usual Frazer DNA Blogs. This is about my father in law’s Butler line. I plan to add some genealogy also. I have been working on the Butler line since about 18 B.D. That is 18 years before I got involved with DNA. This line has been a mystery. As far as we know, the first Butler of the family to come to the US was Edward Butler.

What Did I Know About Edward Butler?


Here is a photo, believed to be Edward himself. I’m not familiar with the type of clothes he is wearing or when this may have been taken. My wife’s Aunt had done some research on the Butlers, so that was helpful. This research was done back in the day before computers. According to a Death Certificate Aunt Lorraine had from 1986, Edward Butler died 1915 and was aged 80. His parents were Michael Butler and Margaret Croke. They were all said to have been born in Kilkenny, Ireland. His wife was Mary E. Crowley. She died in 1905 at age 51. She was born in St. John, New Brunswick. Her father was Florence Crowley and her mom was Ellen Donavan. I had never heard of Florence as a man’s name before. Based on the death certificates, Edward would’ve been born about 1835 and Mary about 1854.

The Chicago Connection

This family had at least 2 sons: George and Edward Henry Butler. Both of these sons moved to Massachusetts with the parents and were said to have been born in Chicago. However, I could not find any record of the family in Chicago. Perhaps some will show up eventually.

A Possible Cincinnati Connection?

I had found some census information for families that looked similar to the family I was looking for, but something was always a bit off. The best census I could find was in Cincinnati. Here is the 1860 Census for the 17 Ward of Cincinnati taken on June 6th.

Cincinnati 1860

Here we have a young Butler family. The husband and wife were 25 and 23. The family’s net worth appeared to be $20 and the father was a laborer who couldn’t read or write. What I especially liked was the the father was born in Ireland and the wife was born in New Brunswick. New Brunswick was pretty specific. The enumerator could’ve written Canada but didn’t. I knew from Mary Butler’s death certificate that she was from St. John, New Brunswick. However, there were many problems. I had never heard of the family living in Cincinnati. I had never heard of the family having daughters. From this census Mary would’ve been born around 1837. Based on her death certificate, she should’ve been born around 1854. So I considered what I had found, but kept other options open.

Here is the same family in 1870 in the 3rd Ward of Cincinnati (taken from the FamilySearch website).

Cincinnati 1870

Now Mary and Julia are said to be born in Mass. Ellen is not in the house. Edward is said to be a citizen.

The Mellie Connection

After his wife, Mary (Crowley) Butler, died in 1905, Edward went to live with the Mellies on Clinton Street in Newton. Here is the 1910 Census.

1910 Census Mellie

Mary was actually Mary Butler. Her parents were James Butler and Mary and she was born in County Kilkenny. She married William Mellie in 1898 in West Newton. That could mean that James Butler was Edward Butler’s brother and seems to confirm the Kilkenny connection for the Butlers. Although this gave me more Butler family and a possible reason the family moved from Chicago to Boston, it didn’t answer many other questions. I was determined to find out more about Edward Butler, but it seemed like he was just as determined to keep his family history hidden.

The Crowley Family

At this point, I gave up on the Butlers and decided to focus on the Crowley family. They had been in North America apparently longer than the Butler family. Very often the female side keeps the family connections and history more than the male side.  Turns out the male name of Florence was not as unusual as I had originally thought. Also I found out that many of the Crowleys from Mary’s generation made their way to Boston. As I read about their lives, it is as if I was  seeing their lives in fast motion. This is because often I find their births, marriages and deaths in a short period of time. Sometimes I see their young children dieing. I see their lives in the Census in 10 year snapshots. I picture where they may have lived in Boston. Sometimes family invited other families to live with them in crowded conditions. One Crowley family member spent quite a bit of time at the Danvers hospital and apparently suffered from mental illness. I’m sure this put a strain on the family.

The DNA Phase

Late in 2014, I sent a Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) kit down to Florida for my father in law to take. This particular test is called the Family Finder. It actually tests your chromosomes and shows resulting matches to other people. The catch is that you don’t know how you are related to these other people. It could be on any branch of your ancestors and then any branch coming down in any direction. Many of those directions you may not even know about. Some of my father in law’s cousins had tested already which I was to find out. These were on his mother’s French Canadian side and not the father’s Butler side. If you are related to one French Canadian, you are related to many. So many of these matches crowded out the Butler matches which seemed few and far between.

I uploaded my father in law’s results to This is a place where you can find other matches from other testing companies. I took the results and put them in a spreadsheet. I grouped these by segments of the 22 Chromosomes. Further I grouped these matching segments into Triangulation Groups. These are groups where matches match each other. When this happens there is most likely a common set of ancestors in the group. Then I had to update the results when new matches came in.

Uncle Naffy

On April 14, 2015, I emailed “unclenaffy” (his email name). I noticed a few days previously he had a large match to Richard, my father in law at FTDNA. I included Richard’s ancestry chart. Uncle Naffy got back to me right away, “I dont have a family tree yet but i can tell you that Crowleys are related to me. I am living in Saint John where they had lived and still do live. My Aunt Mary Lou Reid knows the family connections so ill tell you later more.…” Well this had me interested. Then on April 16 Uncle Naffy wrote, “I have more news for you. I have chatted with my aunt mary lou reid and she has info on how i might be related to Butler. My GGgrandmother was a Butler from Cincinnati in 1870s and moved to New Brunswick to live with family” This was even more interesting as I never recalled mentioning Cincinnati to Uncle Naffy. Uncle Naffy further told me that his grandmother’s father was Thomas Joseph Murphy. He married a Mary A Butler. She was the one that moved from Cincinnati to live with family. Uncle Naffy filled me in further, “Rumour has it that when they were due to marry at a church in saint john, well it was during the Great Saint John fire of 1877 and the church burnt down .” I was able to find that marriage in the French Canadian Druin records. I wrote back:

Murphy Butler Marriage St. John

So that was enough to break down one of the Butler brick walls. Uncle Naffy had mentioned St. John, Cincinnati, Crowley and Butler. I also had the name of a Church in St. John where at least some Irish married. I no longer felt like I was searching for a needle in a haystack. Now it was more like looking for a pitchfork.

Finally this Summer, I made it up to the New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Library in Boston to look up marriages. There, I went winding through microfilm. Fortunately, there was an index on the film. Once I figured it out, I found an entry for Butler/Crowley. That was encouraging. Then I found the entry which, although it was legible as to quality, contained some of the worst 19th century handwriting I had ever seen. I took a photo of it on my phone. Here it is.

butler crowley marriage st john

It’s a good thing there was an index. In case you can’t decipher it, I gather that Edward Butler and Mary Crowley were both from St. John and got married May 1, 1855. It appears that someone named Quinn performed the ceremony. Edward Butler gave his mark – remember he couldn’t read or write. There were 2 witnesses: a Walter (someone) and Elizabeth Scott.

So DNA pushed our written record knowledge back 50 years from when Mary Crowley Butler died in 1905. She was considerably older than her stated 51 years when she died. This had thrown me off considerably also.

What I’ve Learned

  • Don’t trust death records. I knew this before but had to relearn it.
  • St. John had a large Irish immigrant population. I didn’t know this before.
  • The Butler/Crowley wedding did in fact take place in St. John. It is likely that Edward Butler came to shore here or nearby.
  • The Butler family was quite mobile moving from St. John, to Cincinnati. Then apparently to the Chicago area and finally to the Boston area.
  • DNA does not solve the problems directly but gives good clues and confidence for areas to look. This is especially true if DNA matches help out a bit and give family information. (Thanks Uncle Naffy.)

The X Factor – Part 2

In the last Blog, I marveled at the amount of X chromosome my sister Sharon shared with karen. Part of my amazement was that I have not had one X Chromosome match at FTDNA out of over 1,000 matches until recently. One of the reasons for that is that FTDNA doesn’t report your X matches unless you also have an autosomal match. At any rate, women tend to have more of these X Chromosome matches with other people. One obvious reason is that they have twice as many X Chromosomes to start with.

Karen has uploaded her FTDNA results to Gedmatch. Here are my sister’s top matches on the X Chromosome.

Top X Matches for Sharon

To put into perspective the size of Sharon and karen’s match, the entire X Chromosome has a size of 196 cM. 56.2 cM appears to be over 25% of that amount. This is the X Inheritance Chart for my father. My sister got one of her X Chromosomes from him and I suspect this is the source of karen and Sharon’s match. Also note that Sharon shares more of the X Chromosome with karen than she shares with her brother (me). Karen also shares more of her X with Sharon than her own brother. And as we’ll see below, this large X Chromosome segment has stayed intact and traveled down through 2 different families from at least the last part of the 1700’s!

Dad's X Inheritance

My guess was that this X match went through my ancestor Fanny McMaster b. 1829 (in pink above) to Margaret Frazer. Margaret was born around 1800. Margaret is my father’s 3rd great grandmother and my 4th great grandmother.

What I did today was to look at Karen’s tree at FTDNA.

karen's ftdna tree

For some reason, FTDNA trees use a very large font for last names. This doesn’t work out well for longer last names. At any rate, karen’s father is Walter Wanama(ker) I believe. Karen got one of her X Chromosomes from her dad, like my sister got from my dad. Karen’s dad had to get his X from his mom Agnes Higgins. She got one of her X’es from Maryann McPartland. She got one of her X’es from Ann Fraizer of Derreenargan, Boyle, Ireland. Now Boyle is in the heart of my Frazer research area where I have my Frazer DNA project. These 2 graphics above appear to show that a large chunk of X Chromosome has traveled from the late 1700’s from a Frazer family through at least 2 other fairly distantly related families to today.

Karen’s family tree showed that her Ann Fraizer married a McPartland. Our Australian Frazer DNA project member Ros pointed out this entry from the Irish Court of Petty Sessions showing the interaction between one Frazer and one McPartland:

Archibald Frazer of Ballyfarnon Defendant  Feb 1883:  That on 16 Oct 1882 at Aughnafinigan, a nuisance took place on the defendant’s premises occupied by James McPartland to wit the dwelling house so dilapidated and dirty as to be unfit for human habitation and that said nuisance is caused by the act or default of the defendant.  “Nuisance to be abated by the 8th March and house put in proper repair and to pay costs 3/6”.  The Complainants were the Guardians of the Poor of Boyle Union as Sanitary Authority.

Where Did the X Come From?

From correspondence with Karen’s family, I see they have their Ann Fraizer b. about 1823. Here’s where I get into a bit of educated guesswork. 1823 is probably the generation of my ancestor Fanny McMaster, daughter of Margaret Frazer. It is possible that Margaret had a brother who had Ann Fraizer in 1829 or so. Now Margaret’s brother would have only had one X Chromosome from his mother. That means that under my educated guess scenario, the X Chromosome match between karen and Sharon would be from Margaret Frazer’s mother.  This would be the pink box in my father’s X Inheritance Chart to the right of Margaret Frazer. That would be my 5th great grandmother. She would’ve been born in the latter part of the 1700’s.

By the way, Karen is the about the 3rd person that has been found to be related to the Frazers of North Roscommon. They have all been found to be related by DNA. Each of their ancestors has been a single Frazer that is the end of that person’s research line.

Triangulation, Anyone?

Another person in the Frazer DNA Research Project, Kathy, was quick to note that her mom also matched Karen on the X. Here is Sharon’s match with karen (in pink and orange) and Sharon’s match with Kathy’s mom in blue, pink and yellow.

Sharons X match with Karen and CJK

As these three people overlap on their matches and all match each other, this closes the loop on triangulation. So this gives us double proof of a common ancestor between karen, Sharon and Kathy.  One is by the X triangulation and second is through the X Inheritance Pattern. This is another case where the DNA is clearer than our paper research!

Kathy’s X Match Ancestor

So now that we have narrowed down karen’s and Sharon’s X match ancestors, where is Kathy’s? She should have the same ancestor as the same X Chromosome segment was passed down to her mom. Here is Kathy’s mom’s X Inheritance chart but it won’t be pretty. It was supplied by Kathy starting with Kathy’s mother’s mother:

CJK's X Inheritance

Who the X Match Cannot Be

As vague as this chart is, it tells us who the X match cannot be. We may rule out the top half of the chart (not shown). This is Kathy’s mother’s father’s X Chromosome. This is ruled out due lack of Frazer ancestry. For the same reason, we can rule out the top part of the chart that is shown. That is the Emmet family which was not even known to be from Ireland. Then we can rule out any of the people in the white boxes. This includes the male Frazer line and ancestors before Edward Wynn Frazer.

Now look in the right hand column. Under the pink and blue which is the only place where the X match could be I don’t see a lot of entries. Even in the next to the last column there is maybe a Bonis. I’m ending with this example, because this is what most people see in their own genealogy. Karen and Sharon were fortunate to both have good family trees showing where a likely match would be. Even with our better than average paper trail, my educated guess was that the our X Chromosome was coming from the mother of an unknown Frazer. That means we don’t even know the surname of this person. So the X match could be anybody – though likely limited to the North Roscommon area. I suppose this is why many people don’t use the X Chromosome much. It is fascinating and gives clues, but is difficult to use.

The Nexus of X’s

This post is about the X Chromosome. As you likely know, we all have 2 sets of Chromosomes – one from each of our parents. These Chromosomes are numbered 1 though 23. 1 though 22 are the Autosomal Chromosomes. The 23rd is sometimes called the sex chromosome. Women get 2 X chromosomes: one from their mother and one from their father. Men get an X chromosome from their mother and an Y from their father. And it is important to note that the man does not pass down any X chromosome to his son.

There is some good information out there on the X Chromosome. One blog is called That Unruly X by Roberta Estes at DNAExplained.

I have had questions on what the X chromosome matches mean. In one way, the matches are like any other autosomal match. In another way, they are different. The way they are the same is that they should indicate a common ancestor at some point.

A Real Life Situation with My Sister Sharon

Let’s look at a real life situation. My sister Sharon tested recently. If I go to, I can run her DNA in a utility called ‘One to many’ matches.

One to Many

I entered Sharon’s kit # and checked the X radio button so I would get her largest X match. This gave me Sharon’s matches at Gedmatch. Unfortunately, these are sorted by ‘Gen’

X DNA Sort

Gen is the number of Generations that Gedmatch thinks your match is from you. I can tell this by the red arrow (triangle) pointing up under Autosomal. This means the smallest number of Generations are sorted first, which are the closest or most important matches. I want to sort by by X-DNA ‘largest cM’. I did that and got this for my sister’s top 4 matches:

Top X Matches for Sharon

Karen and Sharon’s Big X Match

3 of the 4 people I know. Heidi is my other sister and Gladys is my mom. They share all their X Chromosome with Sharon. Joel is me. But who is karen? And why does she share more X Chromosome with my sister than I do? Let’s figure it out together. On discussion groups I have been challenged by the fact that it is impossible to tell where a match comes from by an X Chromosome match and no other autosomal match. Let’s assume that this is true. However, in this case, karen matches Sharon on an autosomal Chromosome also. These 2 matches may represent different ancestors shared by karen and Sharon. However, these 2 matches should both be on Sharon’s maternal side or paternal side.

Which Side are You On?

As with all matches it is important to know if these matches are Maternal or Paternal. All of your autosomal matches will be one of the 2. For example, my father’s mother is a Frazer. That means I should be looking for Frazers on my paternal matches. If I find someone who matches my mother and has a Frazer in their ancestry, that match is likely coincidental and not where the DNA match is. So is karen a paternal match or maternal? If these were my matches, my guess right away would be that karen would be a maternal match. How would I know? I only have the X Chromosome from my mother. Sharon on the other hand has 2 X Chromosomes: one from our mom and one from our dad.

Here is how karen and I look on Sharon’s FTDNA Chromosome browser.

Sharon Karen Joel X

The orange is my match with Sharon. The blue is karen’s 56 cM match with Sharon. There is a chunk of orange overlap above the blue. Does this mean that Sharon, karen and I match on the X Chromosome? No. Remember that I only got my X Chromosome from my mother. Karen is related on my father’s side where I didn’t get any X Chromosome. So while it may look like a match on the browser, it is not, as the orange represents my Maternal match with my sister and the blue represents my sister’s Paternal match with karen.

Where Does Karen Fit In?

In some of my other blogs, I have been able to fit in people into the Frazer Project I have been working on. Let see if karen also fits in. First, I’ll look at her autosomal match with Sharon. To do this, I click on the ‘A’ to get the details of the autosomal match between karen and Sharon. When I do that, I get this:

Karen and Sharon Chr9

Fortunately I have had my mom tested for DNA. With these results, I was able to phase her DNA using a gedmatch utility. This results in Sharon having 2 additional kits: a paternal and a maternal kit. I ran Sharon’s Paternal Phased Kit against karen and got a match slightly smaller than the one above. This proves that the match is on the paternal side.

Then I checked karen against other testers in the Frazer project. She matches Jane and Prudence who are both known Frazer descendants. Interestingly, Jane had been in touch with this person prior to DNA testing concerning karen’s genealogy through more traditional methods. Jane and Prudence represent 2 different old related Frazer lines going back to the early 1700’s. In addition, I noted that karen had an ancestral tree at FTDNA with an Ann ‘Fraizer’ in it. Now there is no triangulation between karen, Jane and Prudence meaning no proof by the DNA that there is a common Frazer. However, the evidence of karen matching 3 Frazer descendants from by DNA and having a Fraizer in the same general area of Ireland is good circumstantial evidence.

Back to the X

All of this is interesting, but what does it tell us about the X match? To me, it says that the X match is in the same general area as the autosomal match. That means in the area of Frazers – so this could be from a Frazer or Frazer spouse. We know that the X Match is from the Sharon’s Paternal Side. I also double checked that by running an X ‘one to one’ match with Sharon’s paternally phased kit and got the same X match with karen. Sharon’s maternally phased kit did not match karen.

Here is what my dad’s X inheritance looks like:

Dad's X Inheritance

Here the pink and blue areas are the only areas Sharon could have an X match through my dad who is James Frazer Hartley. Unfortunately, these pink and blue areas go to places where it is difficult to find ancestors. In general, that would be on the maternal sides of lines where historically not as much information is not always available. Some notes from the above X Inheritance chart:

  • Sharon’s X match with karen could not be through our 2nd Great Grandfather George William Frazer.
  • The match could be through George Frazer’s wife who was Margaret McMaster
  • Margaret McMaster had a Frazer grandmother. It is possible that an X match could be through her.
  • The X chromosome does not recombine as much as autosomal DNA. This means a larger intact segment can travel down through the ages. This helps explain the large X match between karen and Sharon.
  • The percentages shown above are theoretical averages. The real amounts could be much larger or much smaller. In our example, Sharon got 25% of her X Chromosome from a part of the chart that shows that the theoretical amount she would’ve gotten would be perhaps 6-12% or less.
  • Also, the X Chromosome that my sisters got from my dad was the same that he got from his mom. It doesn’t even have a chance to recombine.
  • The match could be through the Clarke line as they were in the same general part of Ireland, but I would tend to think that it is more likely that the match would be on the McMaster/Frazer part of the chart.
  • My guess is that the autosomal portion of the match would be in the same general area as the X Chromosome match. Even though the shared ancestors represented by the autosomal match are probably not the same as the shared ancestors represented by the X Chromosome match, it would make sense to me that they would be nearby each other on the chart.



New Frazer Tester: the Saga Continues

We have a new Frazer tester. This is always exciting as it brings new possibilities. The tester is Cathy. She is on the Archibald Frazer line which is mine but on an Archibald branch of that line which is not mine. Here is the Archibald Line.

Archibald Line Chart

There were actually 4 brothers below Archibald, but we’ve only found descendents for 3. I’m under the first 2 brothers due to a cousin marriage. Those under the first 2 brothers all have had Frazer cousin ancestors who married each other except for the purple line. This is for someone who didn’t know he was related but likely is due to triangulation. These first cousin ancestry marriages make figuring out the ancestry a bit tricky. One help is that under the 2nd brother shown above, Richard, we have a triangulation group. This means that Richard’s DNA was passed down to the 4 lines and testers today all match each other.

Now on the right is the Archibald that we are looking at today. Our new tester, Cathy is on the orange line. Ros’ line is to the left of her. Ros and Cathy don’t have ancestors that were Frazer cousins that married as far as we know, which should make things a bit simpler. The light green line is for someone who awaiting his DNA test results.

Here is a close up of the Archibald/Stinson Line. The thing I like about this line is that all of the spouses are identified. The other 2 brothers of Archibald (Philip and Richard) don’t have wives with names which leaves a bit to guesswork.

Archibald Stinson Chart

Just in this Archibald/Stinson Line, we have 5 testers and one planning on testing. 3 of those 5 testers have Frazer ancestors in other lines – those are due to the cousins who married as I mentioned previously. I was hoping to find a triangulation group here, but haven’t so far at the standard levels used at the website. However, when I look at Cathy’s results compared to the other testers at Gedmatch, I see this on Chromosome #6:

Chromosome #6

This looks like Bill, Ros and Cathy form the tiniest triangulation group. It is difficult to see the overlap in green above, but in the chart above a very slight overlap is shown. I don’t know if this is a triangulation group or not. I have seen in some definitions that the overlap has to be significant, but I don’t see that mentioned in the ISOGG web site. It would be interesting to run the Tier I Gedmatch Utility for Triangulation to see if Gedmatch thinks this is a triangulation group. This is something that takes up to 45 minutes, so it is a long process. If this is a true triangulation group, it is likely that this would indicate the common ancestors of Archibald Frazer and Ann Stinson.

I did try the Triangulation utility for Cathy at Gedmatch, but this group didn’t show up. It was too small. However, I did try other matches. The first was with my sister at Chromosome #3. She (and I) aren’t even on the Archibald Frazer and Ann Stinson Line.

Heidi CathyR match

It looks like my sister Heidi and Cathy are 5th cousins, once removed going by lines which we have identified. That match is fairly small at 7.2 centimorgans. When I check Cathy’s triangulation report, I find she has a triangulation group at Chromosome 3. In fact, she has a huge one there. On a spreadsheet, it goes from line 296 to line 1289. That is quite a large triangulation group. That doesn’t mean that there are over 900 people in the group as people match multiple people along the way. Once the trees of these people are identified, it may be possible to find out who the common ancestors are for this triangulation group. Recall that a triangulation group means that people in that group should share a common ancestor. These ancestors should either be on the Frazer side or the Parker side. However, as my sister also matches at least some of those people, I would think that the ancestor would be on the Frazer side. It is an important thing is that I checked to see if my sister matched any of the people in the triangulation group. This is because the triangulation group could be on Cathy’s mother’s side (the Frazer side) or her father’s side. By checking if these people match my sister I am making sure this is a Frazer side Triangulation group.

The next match of Cathy’s is her largest. I would think that this should represent Archibald Frazer and Catherine Parker. Here is her match with Jane – one of the testers in our Frazer group.

CathyR Jane Match

This match is on Chromosome 4 and is for 34.8 cMs which is quite large. Let’s check to see if there is a triangulation group here.

Cathy 5 TG

Here, Jane is A974138. She is in a triangulation group with F318689. So Jane or Cathy may want to get in touch with this person to see if s/he knows about his or her ancestry.  I then checked to see if Jane matched F318689. She does, but not large enough to make the Gedmatch cutoff.

So I what I did above was to go from the known to the unknown First I looked at the matches with the people in the Frazer testing group. We know they are all related in some way – either through the Frazer family or through spouses of Frazers. As we all know we have Frazers in our ancestry, the chances are that many of the matches do represent Frazers. I looked at the specific place on the Chromosome where there was a match. I ran a triangulation at Gedmatch to see if anyone else had the same or similar ancestors. In the case of Chromosome #5, I did contact the person (named Jen) and she did have a Frazer in her ancestry, though she didn’t know much about this person. The good news is that we have a person who we didn’t know before who has a Frazer ancestor and who we know must share a common ancestor with the Jane and Cathy from our DNA testing group.

Cathy’s Well Behaved DNA

When I say Cathy’s DNA is well behaved, this is what I mean. At her closest match with her 3rd cousin, Jane, she has her largest DNA match which is 34.8. Here are Cathy’s matches:

cathy matches

I rented a brand new Excel program for this blog and I thought it would sort better than it did. However, this shows my point. For the closer relationships, she larger cM matches (see green highlights). The correlation isn’t perfect, but it is about as close as one might expect for DNA.

What We Learned from Cathy’s DNA

  • Cathy’s DNA is well behaved. When DNA is not well behaved, I have issues. For example, if the relationship is not close but the DNA match is high, or vica versa, it is sometimes difficult to tell if the DNA is just being difficult, or if there is something wrong with the genealogy.
  • Cathy appears to have at least 2 triangulation groups.
  • One triangulation group is very large, but the match levels are smaller. This likely means that the match is more distant. The more distant the match, the more descendants there are which explains the large triangulation group. Either that, or this line had a lot of descendants that tested their DNA.
  • The other triangulation group is small. However, the matches are a bit larger. This could be a more recent group, with fewer descendants, explaining the smaller triangulation group.

Frazer DNA – Celebrity Edition!

In this Blog, I’d like to write about the other Frazer line. I’m in the Archibald line. The other line is the James line. These were 2 Frazer brothers born in Northern Roscommon, Ireland before 1750. Well, we think they were brothers. We’d like to prove that somehow. I had thought that we’d have to prove this by Y (male line only) DNA. I think we can show quite a few matches between the Archibald and James Frazer Lines with autosomal (every ancestor line) DNA.

Below I’ll mention:

  • Celebrities from the James Line
  • James Line DNA and Matches
  • Matches between the James Line DNA and my own Archibald Line

First, A Few James Line People You May Recognize

Does Mia Farrow ring a bell?


Or perhaps her mother Maureen O’Sullivan who starred in Tarzan movies? I used to watch Tarzan movies on TV when I was young. I wonder if the Jane I saw was her. I know there were different versions, but I bet I’ve seen Maureen in a Tarzan movie or two. Well, her mother was a Frazer from the James line.

Maureen O'Sullivan with Father and Frazer mother
Maureen O’Sullivan with Father and Frazer mother

I can imagine this conversation between my teenage father and his mother: “Ma, I’m going to see a Tarzan Movie”. “What, and see that woman Jane with hardly any clothes on?”. “Aw, c’mon ma.” All this with my grandmother not knowing she was related to Maureen O’Sullivan. Here are some photos of Maureen who played Jane from about 1934 to 1942.

Maureen Tarzan

You probably know about Maureen’s daughters. One was Mia Farrow. Before I knew I was related to this branch, I was traveling in the area of my ancestors and saw a sign mentioning that Mia’s family was from the area. So don’t mention Woody Allen, the sign warned. Then Mia has a younger sister named Prudence. The two Farrow sisters visited the Maharishi with the Beatles. The Beatles wrote Prudence into one of their songs, “Dear Prudence”. Here’s Prudence (lower left in the photo).


How closely am I related? If I have it right, I’m a 6th cousin twice removed to the Farrow sisters. Is that far? I’m nine generations away from a common ancestor. The Farrow sisters are only 7 generations away – that gets to how I’m twice removed. But I’m not from the James Line. [Actually I have 3 Frazer ancestors. Two are probably from the Archibald line and one may be from the James line. So I may be more closely related.] Other of my fellow testers who can show they descend from the James Line by their paper trails would be as close to the Farrow sisters as 4th cousins.

James Line DNA

Here is what a portion of the James line looks like starting with James himself from the early 1700’s at the top. I have the bottom generations cut off.

James Line Chart

On the left is the Minnie Frazer Line (#1). There are 3 DNA testers there (CJK, KK and MHB in the spreadsheet below). Next is the Edward Fitzgerald Line (#2). 3 testers here, all siblings (Joanna, Janet and Jonathan). The 3rd Line is the O’Sullivan (Famous) Line (#3). One tester (PB). On the far right is the Michael Line (#4). There is one lonely tester out there (JFS). I like these tester’s DNA for the same reason I liked Ros’ on my line. They don’t appear to have multiple Frazer ancestors like most on my line do.

We would expect that if Line #1 matches Line #2, then the most likely common ancestors would be Archibald of 1792 (or spouse). If line #1 or #2 match with Line #3, the common ancestors would be Archibald Frazer and Catherine Peyton. If Line #4 matches with any of the other lines, the common ancestors should be at the top with James Frazer (and unknown spouse). That means that the 3 boxes above representing most likely common ancestors of our James Line matches would represent 6 people (2 per box)

Now for the James Line DNA – Drum roll, please.

James Line DNA

Actually, it’s not all that exciting. The matches in pink are iffy according to Gedmatch. I color the matches above 15 cM in green, because those are pretty strong matches. Our famous O’Sullivan Line tester has one large match with CJK on the Minnie Frazer Line. Then 2 medium matches with sisters Joanna and Janet on the Edward Fitzgerald Line. They all appear to be 4th cousins which makes sense and have as a common ancestor Archibald b. about 1792 (and his wife whom we know nothing of). Notice there is no triangulation as the matches are on different chromosomes (#6 and #12).

Then of note are 2 large matches in green between brother and sister Jonathan and Janet and JFS who was out on the lonely Michael Line. The DNA has given us a bit of a backwards trick. The DNA match is high at the 5th cousin level for Jonathan and Janet. You would think it would be low there. But at the 3rd cousin level where we would expect a large match, there is only a small one. Joanna, the other sister matches 3rd cousin CJK on the Minnie Frazer Line at only 7.9 cM, not much above the Gedmatch cutoff level of 7.0 cM. However, all these families match as expected, but not at the levels expected perhaps.

I used a Gedmatch utility to look at the number of matches between the James Line testers. This is what I got.

3D James Line

The large numbers in the middle are due to mother, daughter, aunt, niece, cousin, brother and sister relationships. I ignored these when I added the segment matches on the side and bottom. This takes out the actual cM numbers which can be confusing. What this tells me is that everybody matches everyone else in the James Line which is what we would suspect and bolsters our paper trail research. Also notice that the celebrity line (PB) has one match for everybody (on the top row above). This is what the above Gedmatch chart looks like with Total Shared cM’s:

James Line Shared Segments

For this utility, Gedmatch uses a lower cM value of 5. Note that here, MHB doesn’t show any shared cM’s with the O’Sullivan Line. I’m not sure why when she shows a shared segment above. However, not to worry. She is the cousin of KK and the niece of CJK. That means that MHB should be related also.

How the James Line DNA Matches the Archibald Line DNA

When the Frazer cousins first started DNA testing, it was a bit discouraging as no one was matching at good levels as expected. However, after more people tested, I was surprised at the number and level of matches we had. There were also matches between the James Line and the Archibald line – the one I’m in. So apparently there is no need to have the Y test done on a male from each line to prove the lines are related.

Archibald James Line Matches

Here we see my family (Hartleys), Bill, and MFA from the Archibald Line matching Joanna’s family, the O’Sullivan Line and CJK from the James Line. Missing are Jane (who had large matches within the Archibald line) and Ros who didn’t have cousin marrying ancestors from the Archibald Line. Missing from the James line is mostly JFS if I take CJK to be representative of MGB and KK from the Minnie Frazer Line. However, her match is small and therefore suspect. Then my sister matches on the X Chromosome to CJK. The X matches follow interesting patterns. So that means my sister’s interesting pattern has to match CJK’s interesting pattern. My sister’s X inheritance includes a Frazer way back who married into my McMaster ancestors. This Frazer could have been in the James Line. That may eliminate my sister’s match as going back as far as Widow Mary the Cottier and joining the 2 lines. Mary is the supposed mother of the Archibald and James Lines. Here is the Census that shows all 3 Frazer families in 1749.

Elphin Census

Any Flies in the Ointment?

Sure, plenty. Let’s look at our chart again.

James Line Chart

In this chart we are focusing on Frazers. However, the DNA doesn’t know that. Can we assume that because the testers are all Frazers, then the matches must represent Frazers? No. To do this right, we would have to flesh out the ancestors for each of the DNA matchers. We have that Bill and Joanna match. From our charts, it looks like the match could be with Mary the Cottier, the mother of James. But that may not be the case. Let’s look at Archibald b. 1792 who is on Joanna’s line. He had a wife. She had 2 parents in the above generation; 4 grandparents in the James Frazer generation and 8 grandparents in Mary the Cottier’s generation. That adds up to 15 people we don’t know about. If we had started the exercise in a later generation, there would be many more ancestors. On Bill’s side there would be the same amount of unknown people. Plus, Bill appears to have 3 Frazers in his ancestry which would make for a potential 3 times the unknowns.

10 Generations of Frazer DNA: Combining the Two Lines

Here is the master chart of the Archibald and James Lines combined.  This represents 10 generations but shows 6. I took off 2 to 4 generations on the bottom. Mary is at the top. Archibald and James are her 2 likely sons. This is actually a simplified chart, showing only the lines where we have DNA testers. The goal is to make sure our genealogy is correct and to show the 2 Lines really are connected as we suppose.

Archibald James Combined Chart



  • The Frazers have some interesting relatives – especially in the James Line
  • Triangulation is the gold standard and shows common ancestors. The James Line hasn’t shown a triangulation yet. This may be because there are 4 lines and 4 testing families. However, as everyone matches everyone else by DNA that is good evidence to me that these people are in the same Frazer family.  However, there is still a chance that some of these matches may be non-Frazer matches. It would take a lot of work to figure all that out.
  • Does the DNA testing show that the very early Archibald and James Frazer were brothers? Definitely not. It may show they are related, but that is not even clear. DNA matches between the 2 lines seems more likely to show inter-relationships between the 2 lines at some later date than Mary the Cottier. There is a good chance that in my own family, I have a James line ancestor who was born probably 2 generations after James.
  • Let’s keep open the option of Y DNA testing. That is the surest way to link the Archibald and James lines.
  • I seem to be developing a knack for proving myself wrong