Case Studies

Case Studies using Mitochondrial DNA

Finding female ancestors often challenges researchers! DNA–both autosomal and mitochondrial–is a powerful tool for identifying the often-hidden women in our family tree, and case studies–illustrations of how researchers have solved particular kinds of problems–help us learn how to use new methods and tools in our own research. Here is...

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Children of James Mackin

In a previous blog post, I described the hypothesis I’ve been working on: three men named Mackin–Christopher, John, and James–who lived in the Madison, Wisconsin, area in the 1860s were related to each other, perhaps brothers. I have researched all three men and their descendants, and initiated a DNA...

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Working with POISON DNA Segments

Earlier this week Blaine Bettinger posted on “The Danger of Distant Matches.”1 In his post Blaine colorfully calls segments smaller than 10 cM2 POISON segments. While I think Blaine is, as usual, right on the money about the risks involved with small segments, I want to share a case...

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The Christopher Mackin Problem, or Three Brothers?

My husband’s most distant ancestor in his surname line is Christopher Mackin. Christopher was born in Ireland 10 August 18211 and first appears in American records in Madison, Wisconsin, where he filed a declaration of intention in 1854.2 Christopher also left land, tax, and voter records before dying intestate...

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You Can’t Find What You Don’t Look For

My recent revisit to some ten-year-old genealogy work resulted in a discovery that changed my understanding of the history of the family I was researching. Ten years ago, I researched the family of John Clark and his wife Sarah (Neville) Shidler Clark, parents of my husband’s great-grandmother Sophia Mary...

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