DNA, Maternal Kin

DNAnigma, no. 19: sorting sides.

Until my mother’s first cousins tested at 23andme, I had no way to distinguish her maternal and paternal matches. Though her thousand-plus hits are still mostly an anonymous mass, I have gained some small insights. Here are two examples:

Madame XX

I sent this woman a share request on 13 June 2012, just two months after I got my initial 23andme results. It’s been crickets ever since. She is either dead or does not give one damn about genealogy. And it kills me because she is estimated as my mother and uncle’s second cousin, sharing 280 cM, (3.76%) across 9 segments with her and 273 cM (3.67%) across 11 segments with him. This mystery woman also shares 2.16%, 7 segments, and 1.98 %, 6 segments, with my deceased aunt’s daughter and son. This is high. Per ISOGG, known second cousins share on average 3.125% and 212.5 cM.

Madame XX does not match either of my mother’s paternal first cousins, M.D. and J.A. Though it’s not an absolute certainty, it’s likely, then, that she is a match on my maternal grandmother’s side. (Without knowing who the Madame is, I can’t unequivocally declare her my mother’s second cousin, but I can say that the numbers are very low for half-first or first, once removed. However, see my Harrisons, where my mother shares 267 cM with her half-second cousin, for what’s possible.)

A second cousin is the child of one’s parents’ first cousins. My grandmother had relatively few full first cousins. In fact, she had exactly none on her father’s side. On her mother’s, there were lots of McNeely aunts and uncles, but relatively few children: Luther‘s son R. Henry McNeely (1903); Emma‘s children Wardenur (1913-1941), Henry (1915-1955), and Irving Houser Jr. (1920-2001); Addie‘s children Ardeanur (1903-1996) and James Smith (1906-1960); Elethea‘s sons William (1903-??), Charles (1904-1968), James (1906-bef. 1920?) and Irving McNeely (1911-1933); Edward‘s son Quincy McNeely (1910-1966); and Janie‘s children Sarah (1911-1937), Frances (1916-??), Willa (1918-) and William McNeely (1925-1965), and Carl Taylor (1923-1988).

We can eliminate all the aunts’ children off the bat. Madame XX’s maternal haplogroup is L0a1a2. My great-grandmother and her sisters were L2d1a and passed that mtDNA down to their children. As the haplogroups don’t match, the mystery lady is not a child of a McNeely daughter. That leaves the offspring of the McNeely sons. As far as I know, neither Henry McNeely, James Smith, William McNeely, Charles McNeely, James McNeely, Irving McNeely Weaver, nor Quincy McNeely had children. (Nor Wardenur Houser Jones, Ardeanur Smith Hart, Sarah McNeely Green, Frances McNeely Williams, and Willa McNeely Sims. Now that I write this out, it sounds crazy. How is it that so few of Henry and Martha McNeely‘s grandchildren had children?) That leaves Henry, Irving Houser, William McNeely or Carl Taylor as the parents of Madame XX. (Unless, of course, my grandmother had first cousins that she did not know of.)

As far as I know, Henry Houser had three sons, only one of whom is living. Irving Houser had one daughter, whom I need to contact independently. William McNeely had one son that I know of. Carl Taylor also had sons. Right now, then, Madame XX is either Irving’s daughter or the daughter of a completely unknown cousin.


L.W., on the other hand, matches my mother, her brother and both their paternal first cousins, making him a solid bet for her father’s side. He’s considerably more distant than Madame XX, but a good match. At 23andme, he’s estimated at 3rd to 5th cousins (.44% shared across 3 segments) with my mother and uncle, and 3rd-6th cousin (.29% across 2 segments) to cousin M.D. Cousin J.A. does not show as L.W.’s match at 23andme, but does show a 13.4 cM match at Gedmatch.

L.W.’s mtDNA haplogroup is L3d1-5, and his Y is E1b1a. I can eliminate him then as a direct patrilineal descendant of my great-great-grandfather Edward C. Harrison or my great-great-grandmother Matilda Holmes. I don’t recognize any of the surnames he lists in his profile. And the states he lists — Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina — suggest that his ancestors moved out of Virginia (assuming that point of common origin) before Emancipation. Unfortunately, my knowledge of my own ancestors beyond the great-great-grandparent level on this side raises serious barriers to identification of our link to L.W. I know the names of the parents of Mary Brown Allen, born 1849 in Amelia County, Virginia, but little else. Jasper Holmes‘ parents were likely Peyton and Nancy Holmes, and they were probably from Charlotte County, as he was. I don’t even know his wife Matilda‘s maiden name though.


2 thoughts on “DNAnigma, no. 19: sorting sides.

  1. Ok, let me start by saying that I know I am treading on dangerous ground. You have a wonderful blog. It would help however if you used tags or a list of your blog titles so it would be easy to follow older entries.

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