It is time to head to GEDmatch again for updated terms of service.
Most people at this point who have even a passing interest in genealogy have heard of the site GEDmatch. The site focuses on the DNA aspect of genealogy and allows users of the different testing sites to upload raw DNA information for comparison against other users in the system. It is a powerful and useful tool in any genetic or forensic genealogist tool box.
GEDmatch has made a lot of waves in the news the last couple of years because of the use of forensic genealogy to in several publicized cases such as the Golden State Killer. There has been a lot of back and forth about the use of the information on the site for the purpose of solving crimes and how to manage privacy issues. Likely because of all the involvement of legal issues in recent months, the creators of GEDmatch have sold the site.
GEDmatch is now owned and operated by Verogen, a company that specializes in forensic DNA and works with law enforcement. As of December 9, 2019, if you wish to continue using GEDmatch you must go agree to updated terms of service. The site promises to protect customer information, but everyone will need to weigh the value of that statement for their own benefit. I will opt in. For me the benefit outweighs any personal risks to me. I do so with the belief that my DNA might identify a unidentified person or solve a crime.
Do you use GEDmatch? Will you continue to use the service with the latest change? Are there any sites out there that come close to offering what GEDmatch provides? Sound off in the comments about the latest happenings with GEDmatch.
The cross roads of genetics and genealogy is a exciting new frontier right now. Individuals everywhere are quick to provide a DNA sample to one of the various testing companies. Then they sit back and wait. Anticipation builds waiting for the grand revelations that the sample will show.
Then the results come back.
When an overwhelming amount of matches and information is suddenly dumped into their laps after weeks of waiting a lot of people are chased off.
For those who actually dig into the matches and start to work out the various connections it can either be a fascinating new addiction or a confusing new version of trigonometry that will make your brain hurt. Often it can be both.
Puzzling it all out.
I went down the rabbit hole of genetic genealogy and quickly found myself hooked. Where traditional genealogy can often be questioned because people can provide incorrect information or people can be confused during records research, DNA doesn’t lie.
I have been lucky in the aspect that many of my known relatives have tested with one of the various DNA testing services. It has provided me the opportunity to evaluate various connections and how genetics have passed down through different lines. There have been several revelations have have been interesting to me.
By the numbers.
I share more DNA with my maternal uncle than I do with my paternal half-sister. Both relationships match up for the correct range of shared centimorgans but I found it interesting that I share 300 more cm’s of DNA with an uncle than I do with my half-sibling.
By the chance of recombination in DNA my half-sibling and I both inherited vastly different portions of DNA from our shared parent. I share a heavy dose of DNA with relatives of our shared grandfather, she shares a heavy dose of DNA with our shared grandmother. Our shared DNA is approximately 1500 cm’s.
In fact I share so little DNA with some of the relatives that she matches up to that I would be left to question the validity of those relationships to me if not for her test results.
Don’t use just one test when coming to final conclusions. Just like with traditional genealogy research, it is important to build a case based on various pieces of information and not just one tiny snippet that fits a theory.
Have you had any interesting match math in DNA results?
Not sure where to begin with your DNA results? DNA Painter is one site that every genetic genealogist should have in their tool box. This site offers amazing tools which allow the user to take DNA results to the next level.
This free webinar from Legacy Family Tree is a great introduction to DNA Painter.
Legacy Family Tree Webinars : An Introduction to DNA Painter
Most adoptees have questions. Few have questions like those who began life in the Hicks Community Clinic. The case of the Hicks Clinic babies is a powerful example of the information that can be discovered with the use of genetic genealogy technology.
Taken at birth – words to strike fear into the
heart of any mother. That is the title of a 3-part series on TLC that aired on Oct
9 -11, 2019. The series is about a small community that straddles the
Georgia-Tennessee state line and the dark history that gave the community
The town of McCaysville, Georgia was the scene of a secret black-market baby ring that operated for decades out of the clinic of a doctor named, Thomas Hicks, Sr. The town seems like any other quaint small town however, nothing about the small town is quite what it seems on the surface.
Dr. Thomas Hicks, Sr. was a respected family man and
community doctor, he was a fine upstanding citizen in his community. Under the
polished surface many layers of deceit festered.
It was a poorly kept secret in the region that the doctor
ran an illegal abortion clinic, drawing desperate women from all over the local
region for his services. It was a poorly kept secret in town that the “good”
doc was having affairs and fathering illegitimate children. A better kept
secret was the fact that the doctor was running a black-market baby adoption ring,
trading babies for cash in shady back door deals.
More than 200 individuals have been identified that passed through the back door of the Hicks Clinic.
No records have ever been found in the quest to learn the
truth behind the Hicks Clinic adoptions. If any were kept, they have been either
destroyed or have yet to be found. Extraordinary measures have been gone to in the
search to locate any of Dr. Hicks records only to turn up nothing. It seems as
if from beyond the grave, decades later, some of the townspeople of
McCaysville, Georgia are more interested in the cover up than the truth. Even
today Dr. Thomas Hicks Sr. is locally regarded as a man who did bad things with
The Hicks babies are all grown now and most of the
biological parents who have been identified have died taking their secrets with
them. Of some of the adoptees who have been reunited with their biological
families, the reactions have been mixed. At least one adoptee was intended to
be aborted and Dr. Hicks convinced the young woman to carry her child and put
it up for adoption. Even with those truths revealed it still feels like there
is more left unsaid to that story than has been revealed. Dr. Hicks plays the
complicated part of both villain and hero in many of the babies of the Hicks
Nothing about the case is cut and dry even decades after
the Hicks clinic closed.
Questions far outreach the answers and the web seems to grow ever larger. Powerful men in the town, the doctor, the mayor, and the chief of police all had knowledge of what was going on and indeed were involved in using the clinic to cover up their own private misdeeds in some cases.
How did the doctor eventually get shut down after decades
running his abortion clinic? What led to him getting caught after so long in
business? How did he manage to escape jail time for his illegal abortion ring? Have
any of the Hicks babies DNA matched each other?
I have so many questions about this case. I cannot fathom
the depths of frustration that is felt by the individuals who are trying to
navigate this in their own lives.
There is no documentation about what happened behind the doors of the clinic.
Few living individuals who know what was going on at the
time and of those…fewer are willing to speak. Even from the grave the “good”
doc manages to keep a town quiet about some of its darker secrets
To really understand the case in perspective requires a broader
view. Abortion was illegal. Women died in unsafe back alley abortions. Dr. Hicks
at least as far as anyone can tell took good care of the women in his charge if
not making the best medical decisions regarding the children they birthed. There
were not safety net programs to support unwed mothers. Society held a negative
view of unwed females. These were often desperate young women.
Was Dr. Hicks a villain or a hero? On some level perhaps he was both.
The doctor lost his medical license after his illegal abortion
clinic was closed by the authorities in the 1960’s. At that time the black-market
baby ring in McCaysville, Georgia ceased to operate. It would be decades more
before anyone even realized what was going on at the back door of the clinic.