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.
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.
The recent good sales prices got to me, so I broke down and tested my brother with the Ancestry.com DNA test. I had held off testing there, not because of the low opinion of their DNA tools held by serious genetic genealogists, but because my ancestors emigrated to the USA so recently that I doubted whether I would have many useful matches in a database that is 99% American.
So why do the serious genetic genealogists complain? My DNA cousin and blogger Kelly Wheaton on the DNA-NEWBIE yahoo list described ancestry’s offering as “a dumbed down product on steroids;” which really says it well.
She went on to say, “What Ancestry.com DNA testing does better than anywhere else for people with a decent sized tree (1,000 people or more), and who are American or Canadian, is make matches for you. If you have a DNA match and a tree match it does the work for you. Although these suggested matches may not be accurate in terms of who the ancestors in common are for two people who have multiple relationships, for most they do a fine job.” I completely agree with her.
By the way, the serious genetic genealogists do not like it because you cannot see where the DNA segment match is and thus triangulate with another cousin to prove that this is the right common ancestor. You have to load the raw data from ancestry to GEDmatch in order to look at the segment overlaps and not all your matches at ancestry will do this. But you have to give Ancestry.com credit for good marketing and for making it easy for folk who are not interested in doing the hard work to prove these relationships.
Ed note: My friend, genetic genealogist Angie Bush, the author of this post, is an expert user of the DNA functions at ancestry.com so when she excitedly reported this new feature on the ancestry group at Facebook, I asked her to do a step-by-step explanation of it for my blog. Thanks Angie!
AncestryDNA launched a new feature today that allows DNA test results to be shared in much the same way that family trees can be shared with other Ancestry users.
So if you have family members that have taken a DNA test, and you want to see the DNA matches you have in common with them, you finally can! In order to find this new feature, go to “Your DNA Home Page” and click on settings.