Tag Archive | AncestryDNA

Using Ancestry DNA hints to prove and disprove ancestors

With over 4 million DNA tests, the Ancestry database has reached a tipping point where any tester with American ancestry will get some good cousin matches. How do these help prove an ancestral line? Well when your DNA matches multiple people descended from the same ancestral line, you can have some confidence in that part of your tree. Conversely, if you have no matches on a line, there may be a problem.

On your DNA home page, the center panel summarizes your match count. It shows the number of predicted 4th cousins or closer as well as the number of starred and green leaf ancestors. You can add stars to matches for whatever reason you wish. Only you and anyone you share your DNA results with can see them. Ancestry will indicate each DNA match that also has a tree match with you by using a green leaf.

Ancestry DNA Home Page Center Panels (words in red are mine)

Notice the big difference in the number of cousins between those with 19th and 20th century immigrant ancestors like my family and those with deep American ancestry. Also foreigners like my Norwegian cousin will have very few, while Jewish testers will have incredibly high numbers due to endogamy.

DNA Matches Page

Click on the green View All DNA Matches button to get to your DNA matches page. Or click on the starred or green leaf matches to see just those matches. On your match list page, every DNA match who also has a matching ancestor to you in their tree is marked with a green leaf indicating a hint.

When there is a green leaf, clicking on the View Match button will take you to a page that will show you a picture of the expected relationship pathway (images of that on page 2 of this article).

Many times matches with no tree will actually have a tree that is just not connected to their DNA. You can see that on the view match page. There you can select it in the dropdown menu, as shown below, to get the usual sideways display with a surname list. Sometimes you can even figure out where they fit in from it.

I like to make Ancestry do the work of checking my assumptions by adding the tentative line to the tree connected to the DNA test. I put a “??” as the suffix when I am trying out a set of ancestors so that anyone copying my tree is warned that it is a test. Strange characters in the suffix box do not seem to affect the matching. Another perhaps better solution is to make your tree private while you experiment. Or to use a second small private tree that you connect your results to when trying out a possible ancestral line. You can change what tree and who your DNA is connected to on the DNA settings page. Get there from the button with a gear on the top right of your DNA home page.

Here are some examples of my experiments.
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Genetic Communities at Ancestry are live

Ancestry.com‘s genetic communities are a good way to understand your family’s journey for the last few hundred years. Unlike the ancestry composition percentages, these communities are more recent and include a write up of the history of each group starting in 1700.

Many of my favorite bloggers posted about this yesterday. If you want to understand something about the science which combines the use of trees plus good sized matching segments, I recommend Leah Larkin’s analysis of Ancestry.com‘s white paper here – http://thednageek.com/the-science-behind-genetic-communities-at-ancestrydna/

Since I frequently work with adoptees, I am really hoping this helps with that analysis. I am finding that people with deep American roots have far more communities than those of us with recent immigrant ancestors. The adoptee I am currently working with has six communities! Shown above.

He knows his mother’s father and that is the Deep South community. I suspect that the New Jersey and. Pennsylvania groups are from his Dad, based on other matches at Family Tree DNA. I will report back if this new feature helps for his case.

The reason this may be helpful with adoptees is the ability  to separate matches into the different communities. Clicking on a specific community name gets you to a page with a map for that group and its history stories. There is an icon called Connection at the top left of the page (my red arrow in the image example to the left). Clicking it takes you to a page with information about your connections.

 

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The Power of Ancestry DNA circles

My cousin DM got a new 3rd cousin match, DB, on her Ancestry.com DNA page that was listed in two of her DNA circles even though those ancestors did NOT appear on that match’s tree! Wow, is ancestry really able to make this call just from the DNA? There is no shared ancestor hint with my cousin. (By the way, each member of the couple who provided the DNA gets their own circle; in this case Sigri and Bard Nelson.)

After looking at DB’s tree I see that he has a Selmer Nelson on his tree who is a known descendant of the couple Bard and Sigri Nelson(Nielsson) who make these two circles. So he clearly does belong and his tree just does not go back that far.

Using the shared matches tab on this match’s page, I find that this new match, DB is in common with yet another match in these two DNA circles, BK with whom he is more closely related; they both have Selmer Nelson as a grandfather. BK does not have a green leaf with my cousin JM because he has spelled Bard Nelson and Sigri differently.

However BK is also a shared match with DK who DOES have a green leaf DNA ancestry hint with my cousin. DK shares Selmer’s dad J.B. Nelson with DB and BK. Aha, perhaps that is how this was figured out. Both BK and DK have Bard Nielson in their trees but DK spelled it the way we did. Now perhaps I understand how Ancestry put DB and BK in these circles! Continue reading

An elusive 2nd cousin match at Ancestry DNA

When you are a genealogist with an extensive family tree and you get a 2nd cousin match at Ancestry DNA, you expect to be able to find the relationship fairly easily. Never mind that this is my 2nd cousin’s once removed MM’s kit and that the new match has no tree, surely such a close match will want be in touch and know more?

2ndcuzmatch

The second cousin match (red arrow is mine showing where to click)

So I clicked on the View Match button. Sometimes there is is tree or two listed on the full match page that is just not connected to the DNA kit. No luck. Next I clicked on Shared Matches tab to see the matches MM had in common with this new cousin named A. The more relatives you have identified at AncestryDNA, the more useful this feature is.

viewmatch

Red arrow added by me to show where Shared Matches is

MM has my brother and a number of known Goodsell relatives in her match list at ancestry. MM’s paternal grandfather, Charley Wold, is the brother of my Wold great-grandmother Maren. He married MM’s grandmother Martha Goodsell, among a number of other wives. We have lots of Wold relatives who have tested their DNA, but all at other companies.

The shared matches showed that the new 2nd cousin A was in common with several Goodsell relatives but not a match to my brother’s kit. Now I lost interest since A was most probably not my relative. A second cousin on the Goodsell side would be descended from the parents of Martha, so I put this match aside for another day. However it is best to contact treeless folk as soon as possible after their data comes in, while they are still logging in and looking at their results.

There are a few reasons people don’t have trees. The main two are that they are adopted or that they did the test just to see their ancestry composition. So I always craft a careful message that lets an adoptee know that I am willing to help, but hopefully does not scare off those less interested in genealogy.

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When an Ancestry DNA green leaf is wrong

By Richard Weiss, Director of Programs, DNAadoption.com

Ancestry.com does a great job of finding common ancestors between DNA matches when both parties have trees. The layout is easy to navigate, intuitive, and well integrated, but sometimes the WRONG person or couple is shown as providing the shared DNA. This problem can occur when you share multiple common ancestors with a match but you or your match have have not yet found all of them.

Let’s look at an example of this.

In September 2016, I received a new match at AncestryDNA – B41. Based on a comparison of B41’s tree and my tree, Ancestry provided a “Shared Ancestor Hint” indicating that Barnabas Pratt was our common ancestor and that we were 5th cousins three times removed (5C3R) as shown below.

richardcaseb41

Figure 1: Ancestry’s “Shared Ancestor Hint”

Note that Ancestry’s “Shared Ancestor Hint” in the above image indicates that B41 and I match through my paternal side.
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