Tag Archive | AncestryDNA

An Awesome Ancestry Add-on

One thing I have always wanted when looking at my ancestry DNA matches was to list just the unstarred matches or matches that I have identified as being on a specific line. Well there is a new add-on for chrome called MedBetterDNA that will do that for you now, among other great features. Thank you Blaine for mentioning it in your Genetic Genalogy Tips and Techniques Facebook group today.

Another thing I love from this add-on is that it displays the notes you have made for this match directly on the match page so you no longer have to click each little notepad. Here is what my brother’s page looks like now:

Notice the little multi-colored people icons next to the green leaves? That is from another chrome add on called the AncestryDNA helper and a mouse-over on those icons shows the DNA relatives in common, but that is another blog post not yet written.
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DNA makes a Merry Christmas

Yesterday was a very very happy day. Thanks to DNA testing, an 82 year old man who thought he had no kids, now has two wonderful adult children plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Merry Christmas Billy (my pseudonym for him)! Here is the story.

An accomplished and successful Florida business woman, let’s call her Cheryl, discovered at her father’s funeral that he was not her biological dad. His relatives told her and were not particularly nice about it. Cheryl knew that her dad, let’s call him Larry, had married her mom when she was three months along, but Cheryl had not known that Larry had a paternity test done and knew that she was not his child. He loved her mom very much, so chose to love and cherish Cheryl as his daughter. They were always quite close.

Her mother was long gone and could not be asked. In disbelief, Cheryl took the Ancestry DNA test to confirm or deny this tale. She also got her half brother, her mother’s son from an earlier marriage, to test. That way she could separate out the matches on her mother’s side from those from her Dad’s line.

Her DNA results had no matches to anyone in Larry’s family, which disappointed her, even though it was not a surprise now. However she found what looked to be a half brother, let’s call him Joe, an adoptee born and raised in Australia. Her other paternal side matches, two second cousins, and several third cousins, all had roots in a small town along the Mississippi River. Surprisingly. the second cousins had no ancestors in common with any of the others. So Cheryl contacted me for help back in early October.

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How to get your ancestry match to respond

Most of the time when you send a message to a DNA match at ancestry you get no response. I used to assume that their membership had lapsed or that they had not logged in and seen their messages, but it turns out, that may not be the reason at all.

The real reason is that many people are using the Ancestry App on ipads, tablets, or smartphones and the Ancestry App does not show your messages. I was shocked when I finally got this response today from a match.

The last date that someone has logged in shows on the match page and I had seen that this person was logging in regularly, but it was from their tablet! So everyone who uses the app please complain to customer service at Ancestry.

So how did I get his attention? I left a comment on an ancestor on his tree with a link to the find-a-grave entry! The next day I got the message above. Leaving a comment always generates an email which finally gets their attention.

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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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