Little Surname Ancestors Project at GEDmatch

The Little Surname Ancestors Project at GEDmatch came online and went live this week. This is a copy of the initial Welcome! Letter which I drafted and sent to charter members earlier this evening.

Little Surname Ancestors Project at GEDmatch
Graphic on left: Fabric of Life by René Campbell. Tartan pattern at right inspired but only loosely based on Clan Little’s tartan on file with the Scottish Register of Tartans, called “Little of Morton Rigg” (STWR ref/ITI Number: 2349); registration includes this information: “Design by Dr J.C. Little of Morton Rig (1991) incorporates traditional black and white livery colours of the Border Littles, and the Wallace tartan with red (maroon); Edward Litill (1296) was a nephew of Wallace and fought alongside him.”

Welcome, friends and cousins!

Thank you for joining the Little Surname Ancestors Project at GEDmatch. Your kit number(s) has been added to the project. This letter contains some introductory information about the project. As of this writing, November 1, 2021, the project has been online for just over a week, so we are building this proverbial airplane in mid-flight, meaning the resources sketched-out here are just the beginnings of the resource community we hope to grow.

The following collection of links will help you get started. The main landing page for our project at GEDmatch is listed first; entering your GEDmatch kit number there with the default settings will show you what segments of DNA you share with other project members; each of these segments represents a shared ancestor between you and your match, and since we are a surname project, it is very possible that these segments are inherited both by you and your match from a shared Little grandparent; one of our goals here is to help each other determine exactly which Little ancestors we share. The next links will help with that task. The Little Surname group at Facebook is the primary gathering place to collaborate. Also, a shared folder at Google Drive is available to us to exchange files and resources; you have been sent an invitation granting you access to the shared folder at the email address you registered at GEDmatch and at which you received this email. Finally, I invite you to contact me if I can help in any way; my email address and a link to my profile at Facebook are included below.

In the shared folder at Google Drive, you will find an increasing number of resources, including the most current version of this Welcome Letter. Also, today you will find a spreadsheet which contains several worksheets with useful information about our group members. One worksheet is a list of all the kits currently in our project, including that kit tester’s name or alias, the kit manager, and contact information for the kit manager. The two other worksheets in the spreadsheet include matrixes of information about the genetic relationship between group members, a starting point for our research: one table shows the amount of DNA in centimorgans shared between members and the second table shows the genetic distance between member matches.

In time, we hope to build a much more comprehensive collection of resources to empower us to discover our shared ancestors. I hope to continue adding articles and guides to us assist in this endeavor; a Wish List or To-Do List is foremost among these so that you can add requests for tools, resources, assistance, and information. Similarly, a list of “family mysteries” and brick walls might be a way for us to help each other. Eventually, we may be able to build a library of known and identified ancestor segments which will allow later group members to more quickly identify their Little ancestors.

One tool I had hoped that GEDmatch would make available to us was the ability to share Tag Groups. (A Tag Group is a list of kits which can be used in group research known as Multiple Kit Analysis (“MKA”)). I have created a Tag Group for our group, but there is not yet a one-click way to share a Tag Group. If, however, you are a Tier 1 subscriber at GEDmatch (for $10 a month, you get access to powerful additional tools, including MKA) and you would like a copy of our Tag Group, let me know, and I can transfer a copy to your GEDmatch account. Relatedly, if you are not a Tier 1 subscriber, but there is a Tier 1 analysis tool you would like to run, please let me know; I might be able to help. Also, if you would like Editor privileges to our shared Google Drive folder, just let me know, and you will be able to upload files.

Finally, just a quick note about me. Now in my mid-50s, I find myself living not far from where, 330 years ago, my surname immigrant ancestor came ashore near Fredericksburg, Virginia;  in the mid-1680s, a 14- or 15-year-old Abraham Little served several hard years of indentured service before gaining his freedom at age 21 in 1692. After a first career in information technology (working in the back offices of law libraries, public libraries, research libraries, and state archival libraries), I have been a second-career pastor of two rural Methodist churches in Virginia since 2007 (“second-career pastor” is often a euphemism for “after a checked-past”). I inherited my love of genealogy from my aunt Monte Anne Little DeBoard, who, as an educator, spent her summers during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, mining courthouses in North Carolina and Virginia for genealogical gold; in the late 1980s, I began the data entry work of digitizing her research, and that exposure taught me our ancestors’ names and then their stories. She is now well into her 80s, and I hope in coming months and years to share the news with Aunt Monte Anne of the demolition of several brick walls and the solving of several family mysteries.

This hope that brick walls will fall and family mysteries will be solved is grounded in the power and illumination which genetic genealogy offers us. Perhaps even more powerful than genetic genealogy, we have another incredible resource available to us: each other. The community of folks that have been gathering around the Little Surname group at Facebook has the potential to greatly leverage the efforts of family historians toiling alone. Paired  with the tools of genetic genealogy and working collaboratively, surname groups are an exciting forefront of research. At least I am excited that you have joined Team Little. (Admittedly, I get perhaps a little too excited about this stuff; if, like me, getting Blaine Bettinger’s autograph at a conference is a thrill, learning that you share a 17 centimorgan segment on chromosome 14 with Dana Leeds amazes you, and you feel envious of an in-law’s shared grandparent with Roberta Estes, well, then, perhaps you too should seek to spend a few more hours each week fishing instead of mapping chromosomes on DNA Painter.)

Again, welcome! And until I have time to post more resources and guides, here are links to several great videos and articles:

I’m excited to be collaborating with you. If I can be of any assistance to you, please let me know.

Blessings, Steve Little

Fauquier County, Virginia

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