27 July 2018

Updates are coming to the FamilySearch Fan Chart

I am excited about the announced updates and changes for FamilySearch Fan Chart. The changes are scheduled to come out in a few months but the development team has released a video of some of the features and said that we can share with family and friends!!

Yes, there are things coming I cannot share yet.

The feature I think I am most excited for is the ability to view seven generations in the Fan Chart. I have a full tree and the additional two rows will help me navigate my tree much faster. I know those of you with none or some trees will not find this feature as awesome.

The other additions to the tree allow you to see a visual representation of the number of sources, stories, and photos that are associated with each person.

In the above Fan Chart the darker the color the more sources that are associated with that person. The lighter or white pieces would be great places to find more relatives by attaching additional sources.

In the above Fan Chart, the darker color shows that 5-9 different stories have been attached in memories. The white pieces would be places to go and write narratives or stories about your ancestor and then upload it to the memories tab. The person I would recommend you start with is the one in the circle.

The above Fan Chart shows that one side of the family has five to nine photos loaded into memories of most of the second through sixth generations of ancestors. The other side of the family and many of the 7th generation do not have any photos uploaded at all. This would be a good place to focus efforts.

I know that these additions may not ground breaking but they add richness and texture to the process of discovering your family.

The FamilySearch Memories app allows you to see and find the photos, stories, and documents attached to your relatives memories. Even better, it allows you to upload new photos, stories, documents, and audio recordings to the memories of your ancestors.

FamilySearch also already had a way to find photos of your ancestors. However, the outlined steps took you through filtering drop-down menus. Once found, you had to click an additional view my relationship link. The new design is much more simple and easy to use as well as understand. 

The website and app from  https://stories.familyfoundapp.com/ has made it possible to find your family stories. The site also estimates how long it would take to read the story. 

FamilySearch also had a way to print a seven generation Fan Chart even though you could not view all seven generations in the Fan Chart View on the website or app.

I hope I have done justice in showing the upcoming features and additions as well as some of the other ways to access and enrich your discovery experiences. 

14 May 2018

LivingDNA Test Results

I received my LivingDNA test results. No, I am not taking multiple tests to see if my heritage will change. I am however intrigued by DNA and they had a great sale at RootsTech this year.

As a side note, I purchased my 23andMe test before Christmas and this test in February. I took both tests and mailed them in on March 3rd. I received my 23andMe results on April 15th. A month later I got my LivingDNA results on May 14th.

The initial navigation is fairly simple but unique. A tutorial kicks on and asks if you want to walk through the results. 

The mtDNA and and Y-DNA results are the same as 23andMe. I am not really surprised but with my experience with MyHeritage DNA I am still skeptical. The above three body outlines and a simple navigation are all you see without drilling down to find more information.

I am sure this website is mobile friendly but the lack of symmetry between the graphics and the text bothers me when I am using my PC. I doctored the above image to get the graph and map in proportion and close together. The rest of the images I will not change.

A unique feature from LivingDNA is the ability to change the display of the results based on three formulas; complete, standard, and cautious. One of the issue I have with the MyHeritage test is explained with these formulas.

  • The Complete setting assigns small amounts of the unassigned percentages to regions that look most similar. There is some uncertainty about matching in this way. 
  • The Standard setting is assigned using the best guess of the exact source. Unassigned segments are labeled that way.
  • The Cautious setting groups genetically similar populations together. This is the most certain result but gives a much bigger footprint to ethnicity.

The selling point of this test was that they claimed to have the best testing for locations within Great Britain. 

LivingDNA also gives you two other ways to understand the percentages of your ethnicity.

The body graph displays the makeup in a visual way. I can see some different colors but since I am color-blind I think this effectiveness is lost on me. 

Clicking on the body sorts the colors together. I understand this much more than the other body graph but these views are my least favorite.

I think the pie-chart view is the easiest to understand besides the map view. The percentage presented are the same in all three presentations but each allow you to see the meaning in different ways.

LivingDNA has the best sharing ability of the four DNA websites I have used. Not only can you share the complete report but it is also just as interactive for those you share with as it is for the users. Sharing works for Facebook and Twitter. They also made it very easy to download your Raw Data so you can use it with other sites. 

Comparing to the other DNA sites I am missing the chromosome browser on this website. I realize that Ancestry also does not have this tool but I think it will become essential. However, the biggest loss is that there is no matching, They group my results, present it in three different ways but there is not any information about others who have taken the test and how closely I am related to them. This may be why there is not a chromosome browser. There is nothing to compare or match. I did not realize this was not a feature of the LivingDNA package.

13 May 2018

DNA Next Steps - Chromosome Browsers and DNA Painter

I first ventured into DNA with Ancestry's kit in February 2015. At that time I was satisfied with the ethnicity estimate since it matched my known tree. In 2017 I took the MyHeritage DNA test and the ethnicity estimate varied from the Ancestry results. I started wondering how this all works. In February of 2018, I received my 23andMe test results and noticed similar report formats as presented by MyHeritage. Because of this I am starting to understand how I can use my DNA results to understand more about my heritage.

Each testing company uses its own DNA test pools to determine ethnicity results. MyHeritage allows you to upload raw DNA results from other companies to test against their pool of DNA and to analyze the results using their tools.

One of the tools that MyHeritage uses is called the Chromosome Browser. MyHeritage is not the only website to use a chromosome browser however it was the first one I became familiar with. Chromosome Browsers allow you to visualize the data that is presented from the DNA tests so you can more easily understand the what segments of DNA you share with relatives.

My ethnicity results are displayed in the above Ancestry Composition Chromosome Painting on the 23andMe website. The format is the same as the Chromosome Browser on the MyHeritage website. The difference being that there are two sets for every line. In the set the top line represents your paternal line and the bottom your maternal line.

The above DNA Comparison View on 23andMe is very similar to the Chromosome Browser on MyHeritage.

If you look at the two charts the information presented about the chromosome segments are almost identical. The data used to create these two charts are from separate DNA tests. Both my aunt and I have taken MyHeritage and 23andMe DNA tests.

DNA Painter is a chromosome mapping tool that allows you to easily color-code different segments of your DNA. This color coded map allows you to see overlapping or common segments between relatives. Mapping your different segments would allow you to see how other DNA matches from unknown relatives link to you. This also has a top and bottom set for each line of DNA with paternal represented on top and maternal on bottom.

In the above example, I know how Zac Trotter in yellow is related to me but I do not know how I am related to Mary Allred in blue. However, the DNA segments in line 3 and line 11 show Zac is also related to my aunt. Lines 1, 15, and 16 show Mary Allred is related to my aunt Connee. None of the yelow or blue segments overlap showing that Zac and Mary are not related. This suggests that one is related through the Trotter line and the other the Taylor line, both lines I share with my aunt.

All of the above colored segments correspond with my paternal side and are on the top line with the exception of the two segments that are color-coded for my Scandinavian segment markers. Zac and aunt Connee both have DNA segments that correspond with the Scandinavian segments. This suggests that the Scandinavian heritage comes through the Trotter line. However, with out adding information from my maternal line this information is not conclusive and may result in false conclusions, more on that experience later.

I am still learning to understand my DNA and the ways I can use the results for researching my family but I sure would like more of my known relatives to share DNA information with me the way my aunt Connee has. I also need to encourage my close relatives who have taken DNA tests to either share their raw DNA with me or to upload them to MyHeritage or DNA Painter. More to come on that process later.

If you have questions, suggestions or more information to share about chromosome mapping please let me know in the comments below. This looks like an interesting journey and I have just scratched the surface on learning about DNA results and how to use them.

01 May 2018

Family History at the Polynesian Cultural Center

My wife and I traveled to Hawaii for my 25th wedding anniversary. Neither of us had ever been to Hawaii so we decided to go to Oahu so we could see Pearl Harbor, the Laie Temple, and the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). It was a relaxing vacation but I will spare you the slide show.

I was not sure what to expect at the PCC. When we arrived I had apparently paid for a tour, I am glad I did. Six different cultures are represented in separate island villages. In each village there is a cultural presentation. The presentations are given at different times. Our tour guide made sure we could visit as many presentations as possible before it was time for dinner and the main show. We visited the village islands of Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and Aotearoa. Aoteroa is Maori for the land of the long white cloud also known as New Zealand.

I loved the Whare R┼źnanga or Meeting House the most. The house is a representation of an ancestor and different parts of the house represent parts of the ancestors body. The head is in front at the top and the rafters represent the backbone and ribs. Along the walls below the rafters are poupou panels.     

Each panel is hand carved to represent the lineage or ancestry of the person depicted. There were between twelve and twenty panels. One of the women who was part of the presentation pointed to one of the panels on the wall and told about her seventh great-grandfather who was depicted. They also said that some of the panels represent up to fifteen generations. Most of Polynesia has common ancestry but the Maori know their ancestry.

This all really struck a chord with me. I love how the culture is so focused on its ancestors. I feel a strong connection to Laie and now the PCC. Many visitors to Oahu are familiar with Laie if they have visited the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). This beautiful city on the north west side of Oahu is now home to over 7,000 residents, the PCC, LDS Temple, and BYU-Hawaii.

My second great-grandparents, Theodore Thaddeus Taylor and Martha Jane Johnson Taylor, were called on an LDS mission to serve in Laie, Hawaii in 1910. I have mentioned them in a previous post. In 1910 Laie was a small sugar and kalo plantation and location of the Hawaiian LDS Mission. It was five years before the temple would be announced and nine years before it was completed.

The early mission home is now located at the PCC. I did not expect to see it there. It struck me that my relatives had been there during their mission.

The above picture is from the mission home. My second great-grandfather is sitting in the back, second from the right.

Many of the Taylor's descendants have visited Oahu and Laie. My parents visited there when I was young. My grandparents visited there several times. In late 2003 my grandma Trotter was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma and given only a few months to live. She made plans and traveled to Oahu with my aunt and died just a few weeks after they returned home. I have always wanted to visit Hawaii but it wasn't until I was there that I realized why.

22 April 2018

23andMe DNA test results - part three

In 23andMe DNA test results - part two I covered the Ancestry Composition Chromosome Painting feature, my paternal and maternal haplogroup results, and my least favorable test result.

In this post I would like to cover the Genetic Health Risk, Wellness, Carrier Status, and Traits results I got from the Health+ part of the test. This generally doubles the cost of the test but I was browsing Amazon last July (2017) and the Ancestry+Health kits were on sale for around $100.

Genetic Health Risk


Among the Health Risked checked for include:
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Hereditary Thrombophilia
  • Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Celiac Disease


The other Wellness Results checked for include:
  • Deep Sleep
  • Genetic Weight
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Saturated Fat and Weight
  • Sleep Movement

 Carrier Status



 There are over 30 different genetic carrier test results including:
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Leigh Syndrome
Most of them I have never heard of and for me none of the variants were detected.


There are over 20 trait results including:
  • Asparagus Odor Detection
  • Bald Spot
  • Cheek Dimples
  • Red Hair
  • Unibrow
  • Earwax type

You are told if you are likely or not to have the traits. My eyes are hazel and twenty of the trait predictions were correct. Some of the missed predictions were likely light hair and likely no widows peak.

My genetic health test results were very good. I am not sure how I would feel if I had a poor result. I am glad to know I am not genetically in trouble. As they repeatedly said throughout reading the results are not definite. I am not sure I would feel like I got my money's worth if I have paid the full price. I really liked the heritage results.

20 April 2018

23andMe DNA test results - part two

In my previous post 23andMe DNA test results - part one, I covered the heritage or origin test results I received from ancestry, MyHeritage and 23andMe. I also talked about the DNA match results from each provider.

I wanted to cover the rest of the DNA heritage information offered by 23andMe.

Above is my Ancestry Composition Chromosome Painting. This view of your DNA Chromosomes is quickly becoming a universal way to identify the different segments of your DNA. I will post more about this new visual tool in a later post.

One great feature of the 23andMe Chromosome Painting is as you mouse over the different identifies regions in the chart on the right the corresponding segments are highlighted. The above Chromosome Painting is of the segments identified with the French and German results.

The above Chromosome Painting shows the segments associated with the Scandinavian results.

23andMe also identifies Your Maternal and Paternal Haplogroup. My maternal line is identified as  Halpogroup H.
I do not understand the significance of this grouping or the science behind it. Maternal haplogroups are determined by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).

This migration map is confusing to me because of the placement of group L. I am sure the genetic science proves this out but it is not easy for my to understand how it relates to me.

My paternal haplogroup is R-M222. One in thirty-nine 23andMe customers have this assignment. Paternal lineages are based on the variants found in Y-DNA.

I think the most unflattering heritage results says I have more Neanderthal DNA than 60% of other customers.

I will try and remain clean shaven from now on.

17 April 2018

Mayhew Hillman in the Joseph Smith papers

I received an email from FamilySearch saying that I had an ancestor who was mentioned in the Joseph Smith Papers. This is another product from the collaboration the LDS Church History department and FamilySearch. Other similar projects include Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, Early Relief Society Members, and Early Mormon Missionaries.

I have several ancestors listed in the Joseph Smith Papers but Mayhew Hillman is probably the most closely related and prominent relative in the database. The only exception being perhaps Eliza Roxcy Snow.

After clicking the link the link in the email you are taken to a page with summary information about your ancestor.

  • A timeline of his life at the bottom of the page that coincide with events in Joseph Smith's life. 
  • A link to his person page in FamilySearch.
  • A link to show how you are related.
  • A link to his Church History Biography.
  • Links to documents in which he is mentioned.

The zoomed out view of this chart makes it hard to read the names and dates. However, it is easy to see that Mayhew Hillman is my 5th great-grandfather. He is linked to me through my father's side of the family. When on the page if you want to see the names better, the plus and minus in the top left corner allow you to zoom in and out.

As you look at the Joseph Smith papers you can see an image of the page on the left and a transcription on the right. If you look closely you can see my mouse pointer. It is pointed at Mayhew (Mahue) Hillman's name. The corresponding transcription is provided on the right. 

This document lists the names of the men who are allowed to pass and repass through Davies county. The Mormons had been push out of the county by mobs and an extermination order hand been given for those that resisted. Mayhew was a prominent member at the time but was allowed to help provide for the prisioner's including men, women, and children.

Included with the handwritten journals and minutes from Joseph Smith's life are newspapers and other documents that provide context as well as documentation of his life. Again, if you look closely my mouse pointer is pointing at Mayhue's name in the left column five or six lines above the paragraph break. The corresponding transcription is on the right. 

This shows Mayhew was on the High Council of the Adam-ondi-Ahman Stake when it was organized near Nauvoo, Illinois in 1838.

 This shows that Mayhew was among the men who constructed the temple in Kirtland, Ohio. There are thirteen total documents link to Mayhue in the Joseph Smith Papers.

There is also a biography of each person mentioned. This is a great place to find data with sources included. This lists Mayhew's birth, death, baptism, ordinations, and places he lived. Also included are his appointment to both the Kirkland and Nauvoo High Councils.

My wife also found relatives names who persecuted the Mormons. One of the accounts tells of her relative, a third cousin twice removed, slicing up Mormon with a sickle. Another of her distant relatives was a District Court Judge who would not hear the Mormon case to repeal the extermination order handed down by then governor of  Missouri, Lilburn W. Boggs.

I encourage you to see if you have relatives mentioned no matter how distantly related they may be.

15 April 2018

23andMe DNA test results - part one

I received my test results from 23andMe. I took the DNA plus health test. For purposes of this post I will just cover the basic heritage information.

Because I have taken other DNA tests I was not surprised by the end result of the test:
71.2% British & Irish
12.6% French & German (don't tell grandpa Trotter)
2.8% Scandinavian

My AncestryDNA results show a similar grouping for DNA results:
74% Great Britian
10% Ireland/Scotland/Wales
6% Scandinavia

The MyHeritage results gave similar overall groupings but surprisingly says I am only:
 9.1% British or Irish
73.7% Northern and West European
11.9% Eastern European.

If I had not had a match through MyHeritage with my aunt Connee I would think my MyHeritage test got mixed with someone else. My aunt Connee is my genealogy buddy. She could not be more supportive and helpful to me. This 23andMe test is the first DNA test so far that we have not matched on yet. Simply because her kit has not been processed yet.

There are 1075 DNA matches for me in 23andMe, including a first cousin. More on that in a later post.

Ancestry does not give me a total count of matches but does say I have more than 1000 fourth cousin or closer matches. My mother, aunt Connee, uncle Darce, cousins Carree and Teri, and my grandfather's brother Paul have also taken ancestry tests. I would dare say ancestry would give the same types of results but maybe not as many close relatives. Ancestry was the first test I took and I have encouraged my relative to take it too. Paul's son Mark was an early ancestry user and I took the test to match with him. At some point the DNA results changed and Mark's test was old enough it did not have the same number of data points so he no longer shows up in my results.

I have 4,983 matches in MyHeritage that are 3-5th cousins or closer.

The simplicity of the 23andME website makes it easy to navigate and to read results. The generic information is easily available but not made part of the results. The focus in on DNA results and not necessarily family relationship. More about that later.