DNA matching changes at Ancestry.com

All my favorite bloggers have posted good articles about the changes in the Ancestry.com DNA pages. I have put a list of them at the end of this post.

The improvement in Ancestry’s DNA matching has greatly reduced the total number of matches, which ran into the thousands for many of us. The theory is that their new algorithm has gotten rid of those matches that were unlikely to share a common ancestor in the genealogical time frame. I am hopeful. And the new DNA home page for a person is much nicer looking and more informative as you can see below.

NewAncestryDNAHomeSmll

Looking at how my brother with one Jewish grandparent has fared, all his 4th cousin Jewish matches (dozens of those) are gone. This is probably correct. The few that I have been in contact with are not recently related.

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British Censuses, Probates, and BMD Records at Ancestry.com

Sometime in the last year a whole slew of British records from the 1800s, at least for the London area, came online at Ancestry.com – I think it has been that long since I last looked for my UK relatives.

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Regina Gundelfinger Gugenheimer

Last night, around midnight, I followed a green leaf for my 3rd-great-aunt Fanny Gugenheimer Mandelbaum, who had moved from Germany to London, fully expecting it to be yet another person who had copied my tree. Instead I found her and her husband David in the 1851 and 1861 London censuses. I had thought that they had no children but there were suddenly two daughters, and one of them married a fellow named Anton Benda and had many descendants in more censuses, 1871, 1881 and 1891 and other records. When I next looked up it was 3:30 a.m… oops.

I have to admire ancestry’s matching algorithm. Most of the hints were spot on and kept me clicking away until the wee hours. After a while some of the Benda descendants started appearing in other trees so I shot off messages to three new people and all three of them answered (very unusual on ancestry)! So far they are all just related by marriage.

Also now I have a surname to look for in our DNA results and in modern London – Benda. It seems to be East European, perhaps Latvian or Hungarian in origin. Not sure if it is Jewish. The Benda descendants seem to have marriage banns published so perhaps they did not stay Jewish.

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Using Ashkenazi Jewish DNA to Find Family

Reading about this holocaust survivor’s discovery of missing family via DNA had me crying –
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4589762,00.html – but it also got me thinking about how few jewish DNA success stories there are. Perhaps that is changing now that more people are testing.
A7734 on facebook
The screenshot at the left is from facebook page A7734 about Menachem’s search. It shows him and the genealogist who helped him, looking at the first picture of his parents he had ever seen.

Frankly, success stories with jewish DNA are rare.  I have none to report from my family. I emailed all my Ashkenazi researching friends to see if anyone had a good success story. Not very many are out there. If you have one, please send it along.

The endogamous nature of jewish DNA is part of the problem. Everyone looks like a close relative in the DNA matching. Another part of the problem is that so few Ashkenazim know their ancestors past their great-grandparents. Too many records were destroyed in WWII, among other problems researching.

In my experience, if an Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) DNA match is not showing as a 2nd cousin or better it is unlikely that you will find the relationship. An experienced Israeli researcher told me to ignore anyone without at least one long segment match of 23 cM.

Below are a few tips from search angel Gaye Tannenbaum who frequently works with AJ DNA.

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One more lookup (humor from Esto)

It was midnight and I just wanted to follow one one more ancestry green leaf clue, this led to some fascinating discoveries about an 8th grandfather in Seljford Norway. Then I had to double check my copies of the farmbook pages and make a note on my list of lookups to do next Salt Lake City visit. Then click another leaf…

Would you believe when I looked at the time again it was two in the morning? So you can understand why this Esto cartoon really had me laughing.

Genealogy humor from Esto Frigus
Image from geneapalooza used by permission