Category Archives: DNA

Proving the parentage of Cynthia (Day) Bursley

Card announcing my acceptance into the D.A.R.

This past Saturday I was inducted into the Cooch’s Bridge Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  It was overwhelmingly wonderful and quite surreal, and the culmination of nearly thirty years of research into my Bursley family.  It would never have been possible without the collaboration with my third and fourth cousins, and underscores the importance of finding others who are researching your lines.

The success with my D.A.R. application (and recent approval of my Mayflower Society application as well) has inspired me to dig back into the family of my 3rd great grandmother, Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  I’ve posted a bit about my dilemma previously, having miniscule info to go on to determine Cynthia’s parents, and even worse, a very common surname that also turns up zillions of hits in search engines.   However, by golly, I am feeling pretty darn confident in the following indirect evidence, which supports that Cynthia’s parents were Aaron Day and his wife, Martha:

  • DNA evidence.  A FamilyTree DNA Family Finder autosomal test matched me to a descendant of
    I inherited a copy of this photo, which was also posted in an Ancestry.com user tree by another descendant of Aaron Day and his wife Martha

    I inherited a copy of this photo, which was also posted in an Ancestry.com user tree by another descendant of Aaron Day and his wife Martha

    Joseph Warren Day, the youngest son of Aaron Day and his wife Martha.   (We share 63.8 cM’s.)  An Ancestry.com autosomal test provided two additional genetic matches – both to two separate descendant’s of Aaron’s oldest son, Nathaniel.  Our shared, documented family trees demonstrate we are 4th cousins once removed, consistent with the relationship Ancestry predicted by the portion of shared DNA.

  • Naming conventions.  Cynthia (Day) Bursley named her youngest children Aaron Day Bursley and Martha Eliza Bursley.  Cynthia’s presumed brother, Nathaniel, also named one of his daughters Cynthia.  This latter Cynthia, daughter of Nathaniel, married Benjamin Lovejoy on 9 Oct 1864 in Medford, Piscataquis County, Maine.
  • Duplicate, original family photos.  A photograph of a woman labeled Cynthia Lovejoy was listed on the “Scott Kentish and Border” Ancestry.com tree posted by user “devorguilla.”  My heart just about stopped beating when I discovered this photo, as I immediately recognized it -  I have
    my own copy of it in the photo album originally owned by my great, great grandmother, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, daughter of Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  While the photo identification appears to be incorrect (Cynthia Lovejoy lived in Maine where she died in 1867, age 29, and the photo was taken in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1871 or later), it establishes an undeniable connection between my Cynthia (Day) Bursley and the Day family of Plymouth, Hennepin County, Minnesota, where Nathaniel Day, father of Cynthia (Day) Lovejoy, and presumed brother of Cynthia (Day) Bursley, resided. Continue reading

Using DNA to answer: ARE YOU MY (great great great great grand-) MOTHER?

science_dna

In 2010 I took my first autosomal DNA test through FTDNA.  I quickly discovered the frustration of autosomal DNA testing.

1)  Autosomal DNA provides no hints as to what part of your family tree your match comes from.  Given that we each have 64 fourth great grandparents, 128 fifth great grandparents and so on, it can be quite challenging to determine which person is our common ancestor when a DNA match occurs.

2)  Not everyone who does DNA testing is interested in sharing.  That was quite a surprise!  I had always assumed that people who are willing to expend the funds for DNA testing would be similarly interested in collaboration.  WRONG!

3)  Not everyone who does DNA testing posts their family tree for self-exploration by those with whom they have genetic matches. Continue reading


Ancestry.com autosomal DNA test debunks Native American family legend

SiscoCommonAncestors
FINALLY! I’ve been very disappointed in autosomal DNA testing…that is, until this month. Ninety-eight percent of the “matches” have been so distant, or have not had enough work done on their family trees, that there has been no way to know how we connect, if, in fact, we do at all. Until now, the only benefit to the testing was confirming that I did not show any Native American heritage. Continue reading


Are you have problems with Ancestry.com’s DNA portal?

Error message I receive when trying to access my new matches on Ancestry.com

Are you having issues with Ancestry’s DNA portal?  About a week ago I received an email with a notice stating that I have three new matches.  However, when I try to access them, I keep getting the above message.  Hmmm….sure hoping it resolves soon.  I’m trying to be patient!


My AncestryDNA match


When I took the Ancestry.com autosomal DNA test, I was mostly interested in confirming my genetic ethnicity.  An added bonus was my recent connection to a distant cousin – my first definite DNA match.

While I didn’t learn anything new from my newly found cousin (I was able to fill in quite a few holes in her family tree), I did learn a bit more about DNA testing.  Ancestry had stated with 95% assumed accuracy that we are 4th-6th cousins.  However, after comparing notes, we learned my 9th great grandfather, Philip Stanwood, was our common ancestor.  To put this in perspective, Philip was likely born in the first half of the 17th century, having been a fence-viewer in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1648, and was deceased 7 August 1672.

Given the science of inheritance, it is really quite fascinating that I was matched to my 10th cousin!


Ancestry.com autosomal DNA test – Part II

“Baby’s Family Tree” from my mother’s baby book, written by my grandmother in 1942.

Family trees are full of mysteries.  The one thing we can be sure that we know is that there is a lot that we DON’T know!  :-)  That’s a good reason to have a DNA test done.  Hopefully it will help link us to others who DO know something about lines we are researching.  Sometimes, instead of providing answers, DNA testing presents more questions.   Continue reading


My (free) Ancestry.com DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA

My Genetic Ethnicity (per Ancestry.com DNA testing)

It seems like an eternity ago I received an email from Ancestry.com offering me a free autosomal DNA test.  (Still don’t know why I was selected…were all Ancestry.com subscribers offered the free DNA testing or only their most neurotic users that spend most of their non-working, waking hours searching family history?)   I immediately signed up, and shortly thereafter received my DNA kit, swabbed my cheek, sent it back and have been waiting.

This afternoon I received an email from Ancestry letting me know the results are finally in. Continue reading


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