Tag Archive | AncestryDNA

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?


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.


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.


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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Taking it to the Next Level – DNA Spreadsheets

Perhaps this post needs the subtitle , “My Perfect Cousin Goes to GEDmatch.”

Most of us can keep track of information in spreadsheets. So how to do that with DNA? Well, the idea is to keep a list of matching DNA segments so that a new match can be compared to your known family members. That way you may be able to see where they fit in.

If you have tested at 23andme or Family Tree DNA, you can download your list of matches with their matching DNA segments either directly from your testing company or by using the tools at DNAgedcom. However AncestryDNA does not provide a list of matching segments.

Extract from my Dad's MasterSpreadsheet

Extract from my Dad’s Master DNA Segment Spreadsheet (click for a larger version)

Why would you want those? The short answer is to figure out which line a new DNA cousin belongs to. For the long answer, read on. For more posts about DNA spreadsheets click here or in the tag cloud, lower right hand column.

tier1smll AncestryDNA testers can make a DNA segment spreadsheet by using any of a number of utilities at the GEDmatch web site. Start by uploading your raw DNA data (click here for that “how to” post). Your results will usually be ready for full comparisons the next day. Then buy the tier 1 utilities for at least one month ($10).

My preference for making a first spreadsheet is to use the GEDmatch Matching Segment Search. Then I go through the top matches from the ‘One-to-many’ matches report with that spreadsheet as a reference. I add notes on what I discover to my new spreadsheet.

Here is the step by step of what I did for my perfect cousin J.M. whose AncestryDNA results I blogged about in my previous post.

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