I know when I started calling my family mystery the Beaton/Batten Mystery; it was in 2015, I believe. But the search for William (Willie) Beaton’s parents has gone on much longer than that. (Here’s a link to an old blog about my search.)
One of my regrets, when I look back over my genealogy life, is that although I interviewed my paternal great-grandmother, I never took the time to talk to my maternal grandmother, Mary Loretta Beaton. I think it was because at the time she perhaps didn’t seem old. Not like my great grandmother on my father’s side did.
Little did I know that Mary’s father would end up being my brick wall, and he’s one of the reasons I’m so hung up on DNA. I guess I need to thank Willie for that.
I’ve been interested in DNA since April 2010, which in DNA years is a long time.
Although Y-DNA testing started with Family Tree DNA in 2000, Autosomal DNA testing was initially offered by 23andMe in 2007. My interest started with Y-DNA and mtDNA testing at Ancestry (yes, Ancestry did at one time offer this), and then in 2012, I tested myself at Family Tree DNA. This was my first autosomal test.
Since that time, I’ve tested so many people in my family to help me discover more DNA information for the Beaton/Batten Mystery. When I count them, it comes to over 20 people tested. I won’t get into the fact that I beat myself up that I haven’t figured this out yet. (especially since I’ve figured out so many other people’s mysteries.) But I do, and so this past weekend I cut myself some slack and discovered a few things.
Sometimes you know things, but sometimes it just doesn’t set the light bulb moments off.
When you think about it, I’m trying to understand who my great grandfather’s parents were. So to know that I need to know that my cousins and I only have approx 12.5% of my great grandfather’s DNA still in us. But even more important, I think, is that I therefore only have about 6.25% approx. Of my great-great-grandparents, DNA left in me.
Because of the recombination of DNA, that percentage is only a ballpark number so I and some of my cousins have more and some less.
Over the weekend, I watched a webinar given by Paul Woodbury at Legacy Family Tree Webinars. (sorry this is a membership webinar) It was called Crème de la crème: Targeted Autosomal DNA Testing to Isolate Pertinent Genetic Cousins (note that I think a subscription is well worth the money). In this webinar, he spoke about maximizing coverage.
So because I’ve tested so many descendants of Willie Beaton, this could be considered maximized coverage. But from this webinar, I thought about something more. I’m not going to get into the entire webinar, but one of the things he spoke about the closest generational descendant. So looking for the oldest child of Willie’s youngest child.
Willie’s youngest daughter was Florence Margaret Beaton, and she was born of a second marriage. She was born in 1922, whereas my grandmother was born in 1909 from the first marriage. So when comparing DNA, anyone that’s a descendant of Florence would then show only the Beaton connection. (at least to the other descendants from the first wife and me).
But that’s not maximizing my coverage; that’s just helpful. But what I haven’t thought about for a while is who else could I test. Florence had three children. One with who I believe was her husband, named David and two with her husband, Jack.
One of the descendants of the three children have DNA tested, and I have access to her DNA; one of the other child’s whereabouts is unknown. But the one other daughter of Florence and David, I believe, was still potentially around. She had been born in 1941, so that would make her 79 years old. I’ve searched for her before but not with a lot of luck. But I thought I’d try again.
I did know that Florence’s daughter had married, so now that I have Publisher’s Extra with Newspapers.com, I was able to find an obituary for her husband. The article gave me the names of her children and grandchildren. At the same time, I checked trees and found that since I’d last check, there was a tree that appeared to be the granddaughter of Florence’s daughter.
So I’ve messaged the granddaughter, and I was waiting for a reply. But I have a couple of other options. One is that I figured out that Florence’s grandson had married someone who’s family would make him easy to find locally.
But I didn’t call, I sent a message through their company Facebook account. I had surmised through articles in the Edmonton Journal that the granddaughter who had the tree was the social media person for the company. I was right.
I learned from her that my mom’s cousin had passed away in 2018, and although the granddaughter said she didn’t have a tree, we figured out she may have made one a while ago when she was in school. I didn’t want to bother her at work any further, so I’ve left it for her to talk to her father and asked if he could call me. (note that he did and we will meet after things settle with COVID).
But the point is that sometimes you have to use all the tools that you have available to you to do your searches. I know you may or may not have subscriptions. But if you don’t, then it’s essential to keep a list of searches so the next time that the newspapers are available at Ancestry or Newspapers.com or MyHeritage for a free weekend, that you have your list of who you’d like to search for and why.
Also, when it comes to DNA, you need to decide who should test, as in who’s DNA will help you with what you’re trying to achieve but also test them at as many companies that you can. That can be costly, but now it’s easier to convince (at least in some way) one of your cousins to test and also to urge them to transfer their results to other companies.
Most important is to cut yourself some slack when working on your DNA or your family history. Sometimes that bit of breathing time can give you new ideas.
Note: The post above contains affiliate links. This means I make a small percentage of the sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. This is a supplement to my income so I can continue to support The DNA Angel Project and to make donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society