Wednesday, March 8, 2017

First 23AndMe DNA Success--Take That, Endogamy!

Last night, I had my first DNA success on 23AndMe.  (I won't say it's my first 23AndMe success because of this.)  In the past, my proven connections have mostly been with FamilyTreeDNA matches, with a few successes on Ancestry.  But I figured I should take a look at new matches on 23AndMe to see who else has tested.

23AndMe doesn't allow for sorting by largest segment, but it did allow me to sort by how much DNA I shared with other users.
My Top 23AndMe Matches, Sorted by Shared Percentage of DNA

My first two matches were Ita and Esther, who are sisters and are my double third cousins once removed.  No surprise there.  The second is a woman I'd reached out to several years back; once she moved her results to GedMatch, I determined that the one large segment I shared with her was inherited partially from my mother and partially from my father, meaning the match wasn't strong at all (yay endogamy!).  But then there was a fourth person, Mark.
Shared DNA with Mark (once we shared ancestry info)

Mark & I supposedly share 1.43% of our DNA.  He hadn't set his ancestry information to sharing by default, so I couldn't see if there were any large segments.  But I messaged him and heard back almost immediately.  He gave me 5 family surnames, including "LaFond (sp?) (maternal side from France)."  Well, I do have Lefands, but I have them documented to be from Ukraine, not France.  But interestingly, my grandfather had told me that my Lefand grandmother was from France.  Could this (incorrect) family story have spread through several branches?

I looked at my tree and noticed that I had someone with Mark's exact name (although his surname is rather common).  I asked him if a specific person was his mother--and it was!  I sent him this picture:
Mark with his parents and sister

That's Mark in the saddle shoes.  It was one of the photos that my cousin Karen let me scan from a photo album which had been owned by her mother (my grandfather's sister Ruthie).  It turns out that Mark is my third cousin--his great grandmother Dora was a sister to my great grandfather Isadore.  And Dora's and Isadore's mother's maiden name was Lefand.  From Ukraine, not France.

Mark's mother (an only child) and maternal grandmother are deceased, and Mark didn't know much about his mother's family.  In fact, his 23AndMe profile states that "my mother and grandmother passed away in 2005, so there's a big hole in understanding and tracking my maternal lineage."
A Photo of Mark's great grandmother (which I sent to him)

Well, not anymore!  Welcome back to the family, Mark! 

And isn't it interesting that two branches of the family had the Lefands originating in France?  Perhaps before Ukraine?   I wonder....

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. Cool story, but I'm more interested in the following technicality:
    the one large segment I shared with her was inherited partially from my mother and partially from my father, meaning the match wasn't strong at all (yay endogamy!).
    do we have stats or research showing how often that happens, that a supposedly long segment is actually a superposition of smaller segments on different chromosomes? In Ashkenazim vs. in general?

    1. I personally don't have stats. But it's happened to me several times.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. Congrats to you and Mark!

  3. Wonderful story and gives me hope of connecting with cousins via DNA. It's an ongoing journey!

  4. Wow! What a great connection and I'm sure Mark appreciated the photos. This ought to prompt me to log back in to 23andMe (it's been a while since all of the changes).

    1. It's definitely worth checking back. You never know who might have tested in the interim!