Category Archives: How To

Membership Renewal Time is Here!

Spring has come and it is time to remind everyone that MoCoGenSo memberships will expire soon, and it is time to renew. The dues will remain the same at $20.00 for individuals and $25.00 for families (add $7.50 for paper copy).

An important way to learn more about your ancestors and their lives is to join a genealogy society that focuses on the area in which your ancestors lived. Genealogy societies conduct research and preserve information about a specific area, and most publish some sort of newsletter, journal, or other periodical. The articles offer insight into the area and the people, and can provide help in conducting your research in an area. There are genealogy societies at the national, state, county, parish, province, and other levels. Annual membership fees are reasonable and the benefits are considerable.

The Monterey County Genealogy Society is one of these organizations right here in your own back yard. It serves its members in many ways. The board of directors is made up of members just like you.

Remember our society is only as strong as our membership, and those who get involved.

OUR MEMBERSHIP YEAR RUNS FROM APRIL 1 TO MARCH 31 OF THE FOLLOWING YEAR. For renewing members, you can renew using the membership form in your recently received newsletter. New or renewing members can download and print a copy of the Membership Application by clicking here. There will always be copies of this form at our monthly meetings.

Join me by staying with MoCoGenSo and getting the E-Newsletter.

Thank you for being a supporter!

Special gift from Jonny Perl at Rootstech

RootsTech 2023 is still going strong. I just watched a session put on by the creator of DNA Painter web site, Jonny Perl. It was not about his excellent site, but instead was about 3rd party tools that are supporting genetic genealogy. If you get a chance, do try to watch it. Below is a link to a wonderful page of LINKS to all things genealogy, created and maintained by Jonny Perl. This list runs the gamut from sites to books. I have included this link on the GG Web Links page herein too.

Many thanks to DNA Painter for their services to us all.

Investigative Genetic Genealogy in the News

Yesterday the local headlines read “41-year-old cold case solved.” A man had finally been convicted of a 1981 murder in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Last month the national news covered the story of “Opelika Baby Jane Doe” identified after 11 years.” A child’s remains found in Alabama in 2012 had been identified. Both cases had been solved with new DNA technology known as Investigative Genetic Genealogy or “IGG.”

Almost every week now, there is a news story about how IGG solved another cold case. Because it is becoming common place, it makes the new process sound simple. However, the process for solving cold cases, even with the new DNA technology, can be complicated by various factors. These factors include the number of DNA matches that a forensic sample will have when compared in a database and the projected relationships of those matches, whether close or distant cousins. Theoretically, more matches and closer matches make it easier to solve cases of unknown identities.

Investigative Genetic Genealogy involves comparing the DNA files extracted from forensic samples with the DNA files in databases publicly available at only FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) and GEDmatch.

·       FTDNA is a direct-to-consumer DNA testing company people use to find out more about their genealogy by working with their matches and family trees. FTDNA also accepts uploads from people who have tested at other companies such as AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, etc. Although these other companies have large databases, their databases may not be used for Investigative Genetic Genealogy per their policies.

·       GEDmatch is a database comprised of DNA data files uploaded by people who have tested at any direct-to-consumer DNA testing company. Because the database includes DNA file uploads from a variety of sources, family historians and people looking for biological family members use the GEDmatch database to find more information without having to test at every company.

There is a huge back-log of cases, some decades old. It will take years to solve many of them. If you want to help with the process of Investigative Genetic Genealogy, upload your DNA file to FTDNA and GEDmatch. It is best to upload to both sites because you will have different matches. It would also be helpful to upload your GEDcom!  The more people that upload, the more cases that will be solved. 

Author: anonymous

Uploading your DNA data requires that you first download your data.  Roberta Estes at her blog DNAeXplained has written various articles about how to do these steps. Here is one:

I believe you should always download a copy of your DNA data file no matter what.  It is your data and will not change.  Get a copy in case the vendor goes out of business!  If you want more information about IGG, you can also check in at a session of our DNA Discussions Group.  

Another way to use this web site

This is a “how-to” post. One way to find something herein is to scroll down the right hand column to the section titled CATEGORIES and select a group out of the drop box.

If the subject you are looking for is not there, you can use GOOGLE SEARCH with the site: parameter. For example, the term CLUSTER in not a category. Go to Google and type “ cluster” without the quotes and your search will find quite a few posts that have the term cluster.

Create Family Trees – Manually

Sometimes genealogists have a need to build a family tree. Is that a joke? Really, not. We’ve all drawn trees using pencils. Some of us have an account and build trees there. The tree at is wonderful (and free). But still, sometimes we want to create a printable chart without using the big systems. Perhaps we want to send something to family members, perhaps we are helping someone find their missing relatives and need to “show and tell”. Listed below are some ways to create tree charts “by hand”.

A limited version is free, or the individual fee is $7.95/month. Cloud based, stores file locally. (or

Completely free. They make their money from corporate licenses. Cloud based, stores file locally. This looks and feels just like Lucidchart. I like it, but it requires a learning period.


This is an unusual free-form product, limited in chart elements, designed primarily for idea or note taking. But charts can be tossed together quickly. For those quick-n-dirty trees, this is almost as good as pencil and paper.

The program is installed on your computer, Windows or Mac. There is a one time purchase fee: $20.99, or educational $16.79.

There is a 30 day free trial, fully capable. I was told this trial counts “used days”, so you can skip a few days and it won’t count against you. I can show an example at the DNA Sig meeting.

Completely free. Cloud based, stores file locally.

Excel (or any spreadsheet program)

I was surprised to see charts built using Excel, but it can be done quickly and with limited knowledge of formatting rules. I can show an example at the DNA Sig meeting.

Disclaimer: Of the above, I have only used I may try Scapple in the future. I do own Excel and can try it whenever.…

Sawtooth Slayer Method

Having read the book “The Sawtooth Slayer” by Nathan Goodwin, I decided to outline the basic methods used to figure out who was the killer. I really enjoyed the book and don’t’ intend to release any spoilers. But I figure the methodology can be useful for those of us searching for our own puzzle.

In Dec 16, 2012 we posted a search method provided by CeCe Moore which you can see here:

How to catch a killer OR learn more about your ancestry!

I want to compare the methods. I’m guessing that they aren’t all that different, perhaps only terminology differences will appear. The effort might teach me more about the overall procedures. You can work with me, and for sure, email me when I make mistakes. Perhaps we can go over the steps at the next DNA Discussions Group via Zoom.

1. DNA test

In this book, the first thing to do is to have a genetic DNA completed and get it to Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch. The following clustering steps can be done most anywhere, but the book is working with police and FamilyTreeDNA and Gedmatch are the only sites that will allow police involvement.

2. Identify clusters containing unique and in-common-with matches

The clusters are built, manually in the book. You can use auto-clustering at MyHeritage or Genetic Affairs if you wish. Clusters are subsets of the matches that contain unique matches that are in common with each other. Given subset uniqueness, each cluster should have a Common Ancestor (CA) and it is our job to find that person or pair. The book ended up with 7 clusters. Given that there are eight 2x great grandparent sets, that is about right. You start with the highest centimorgan match, select in-common-with, going no further than 10 centimorgans. Call that cluster 1. Go to the next not selected match and build cluster 2.

3. Build a speculative family tree of each person within each cluster, looking for the Common Ancestor

This is where the heavy work is involved. Build the trees at I’m seeing one tree per cluster with floating trees inside per person, because after the CA is located, all the “floats” would disappear. You are building the tree backward in time, going towards ancestors. In the book, they built the trees out to 3x great grandparents. I’m not sure why, that might be difficult in some cases.

4. Triangulate within each cluster, this then “closes” each cluster

I know what triangulate means, common segments for 3 or more people. I guess this step is just to prove that the tree building was legitimate, DNA wise. It will sure provide good documentation. Curiously, the first book in the series didn’t need this to close a cluster.

5. Reverse genealogy (p.230)

Reverse genealogy is where all known descendants of the confirmed common ancestors to the genetic network are traced, searching for the overlap between clusters. This is heavier tree building, building forward in time, sometimes using your “find living people” skills. Following the overlap between clusters should lead directly to the original DNA tester.

6. Success. Contact and adapt! can identify your DNA matches by parent

If you have a tree at and have added a DNA test to the mix, there is a new tool that might assist you in solving some of those roadblocks.  This tool is still in beta status, but I am sure it is a keeper. 

I have to admit that Gail Burk brought this to my attention, I hadn’t yet seen it.  When she said “You have no idea how stoked I am with this new tool” I figured I had to check it out.

To get to the new tool in the DNA section, go to Ethnicity Estimate, then click View Breakdown under Ethnicity Inheritance. Then move down to “Matches split by parent” and click View Matches.

Ancestry has split your DNA matches by parent! 

They have labeled your matches “maternal” and “paternal” and provided statistics for the two groups.

Let me repeat — You can now see your matches split up by parent.

Ancestry’s new tool is quite accurate.  I had been tagging my matches with color dots to add maternal and paternal groups and have not found any “errors”.  I am not sure how Ancestry is doing this, but you really need to check it out.  Maybe a roadblock is waiting to be solved!! 

3rd Party Tools for genealogical genetic testing at DNA Painter

We have previously talked about the free web site called DNA Painter that supports DNA genetic testing with various tools. The most famous tool is called Shared CM Tool.

The site is run in London, England by a guy named Jonny Perl. The site is mostly free, but there is a subscription level which gives you more of many options. For the record, I am a happy subscriber.

There is a free monthly newsletter which is really a useful item which keeps the world updated with news from all around the genetic testing arena. The latest newsletter included an announcement about the new page on the DNA Painter site that contains links to other third-party tools related to DNA analysis for genealogy. This page is a wonderful set of sites that we should all bookmark. And you can leave the updating to DNA Painter!

You can find a link to this new page on the Tool Page at DNA Painter. For now, you can get to it by clicking here:

Genealogy Puzzles (?)

Through the years, I’ve learned a lot about the right way to do genealogy at the blog Genealogy’s Star by James Tanner.  I follow him using Feedly.  Today he had a post about errors he has found in data in the FamilySearch family tree.  He presents them in a puzzle fashion and I found myself getting a kick out of trying to find the error.  Perhaps you will find this particular post fun and informative too.

Ancestry DNA Ethnicity Estimate has a Sideview

If you have tested your DNA at Ancestry . com, you need to check in with the recently added “Sideview” display that breaks your ethnicity estimates down by your parents, without testing your parents! It is really intriguing and potentially useful for improving the accuracy of your own paper research. I for one didn’t know my maternal side had Welch DNA floating around. I knew about the Irish. When you realize that Wales is only about an hour boat ride from Ireland, you begin to realize that some wily sailor could have joined my ancestors a few generations ago! To see your Sideview, follow these steps.

Go to DNA in the menu bar and select DNA Story

In the Ethnicity Estimate section, select See What’s New

Select View Breakdown

Notice that the two sides are labeled Parent 1 and Parent 2. They can’t tell which half of your genome is which, but maybe you can. Play with the ethnicity sections at the bottom and se if you can decide which side is Mom and which is Pop.

If you can determine “Sides”, like my Maternal has the Irish genes, then select Edit Parents below.

You pick for the Left side. You can always change this later, or even clear and start over.

Once you have chosen sides, you get a nice breakdown like this. Looked at like this, you can see there are subtle differences in my background.

I just wish I knew where that Aegean Islander snuck in from!

Ethnicity Estimates often change, but when they do it is because they are becoming more accurate. I like this new breakdown. When I share this type of data with my family, they seem understand it better than just seeing what my Personal breakdown was. This is meaningful to siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles.