Finding Distant Relatives with Autosomal DNA Testing

Maybe you tested your DNA to prove or disprove a genealogical theory. Or maybe you tested to check on your health risks or carrier status. But now you see all these possible 3rd to 5th cousins in your family finder or relative finder lists and you wonder if you are related and if you can find that relationship. Perhaps you contacted a few and had almost no responses.

DNARelativesSampleSYes you are probably related, but without both of you having a good paper trail you would be most lucky to actually find that relationship. It is likely to be further back than suggested if your ancestors were at all endogamous. Just living in the same location for a few hundred years can lead to much inadvertent intermarrying and more common DNA than degree of relationship would expect. So autosomal DNA testing is no genealogical shortcut. Some of the people you contacted already know this, so if they saw no common surnames or places on your profile they may have lost interest.

So be prepared before contacting those likely 3rd to 5th cousins.

  1. Have an easily readable pedigree chart in both PDF and online format (GEDmatch can do the latter, more on GEDmatch later)
  2. Another good tool is a list of about 12 generations of ancestors by place name. Much easier for a possible relative to scan.
  3. Do some reading on the basics. UPDATE 9-sep-2018 See my article –
  4. Try to talk some close relatives into testing so you have more data to work with
  5. Last but not least, make a decision on how much time you want to devote to this project … warning it can be addictive

If you want to do the minimum, then scan the localities and surnames of these possible cousins and contact the ones with surnames or place names in common with you. Indicate in your message that this is the reason for contact. Include the URL for your pedigree or family site and offer to send the PDF files. Include your email address if you are using the 23andme messaging system. The more directed the contact, the more likely you will hear back. I recently went through and cancelled some of my early invitations and send new improved ones on the lines above and got four new shares.

You might enjoy reading this relative finding success story from CeCe Moore on her blog.

If genetic genealogy and your DNA relatedness really interest you then you want to start a master spreadsheet of the DNA segments that you match your possible relatives with. If one or both of your parents are tested, then create one for each parent as well. I did a post about creating a DNA match spreadsheet a while back. This post will discuss more of the whys and wherefores. As a reminder, on 23andme you can find overlapping segments by selecting My Results in the top menu then Ancestry Tools then Family Inheritence: Advanced. At Family Tree DNA you select up to five people to show in the chromosome brower and then go to that browser.

Part of the objective is to find overlapping segments and thus clues to where the relationship might be. Many people enjoy building a picture of which distant ancestors their DNA came from when they do find the relationships (or just get more relatives to test).

So the first question is how large a segment is worthy of being included on this sheet.

The unit of measure is either a centimorgan (cM) or number of SNPs. Both those terms are linked to the ISOGG wiki articles explaining them.

Many genetic genealogists suggest that a one segment match of less than 10 cMs will not have a common ancestor in the last 200 years and thus hard to find the relationship. Plus matches smaller than 7cM may not even be IBD (identical by descent) since the smaller the match the more likely that it is not real, but rather IBS (identical by state). Remember you have two copies of each chromosome and the testing cannot say which side each allele came from.For example, if you are AA GG AA CC you will match me when I am AG AG AG CT but there is no guarantee that my A G A C came from a single side (paternal or maternal) so we need a much longer match to have some confidence that we are related.
There is a good explanation of this IBS vs IBD concept here:

There are a number of charts on DNA relatedness, the ISOGG website has several, I like the one on their  IBD wiki page because I find the number of segments most useful. The family tree DNA FAQ has some very useful snippets also.

Personally on my spreadsheet I show all matches of about 6cM or more for any non Ashkenazi relative with three or more matching segments. I show single segment matches of 7cM or more. But those are just my choices, not necessarily real relatives. Since I have tested my father and brother, I can assume a smaller match is IBD when it is passed on (often a bit smaller) from Dad to one of us since our mother is from a completely different population group. My post on common relatives can be far back shows some of those smaller matches where the MRCA (most recent common ancestor) has been found, usually well before 1800 some before 1700.

The second question is where to find the matching segment data.

  • On family tree DNA you can go to family finder and matches, click  Chromosome Browser and painstakingly go through all your matches. Or you can assign the more interesting ones as possible relatives and then they are easier to find in that function. But there is a better way, use the tools at to download all your chromosome matches, then sort the file first by match size and discard all matches below your chosen threshold. Then create two more files from that file, one sorted by name and the other sorted by chromosome and start point. The second file is the basis for your master sheet
  • On 23andme, you can get a master list of overlapping segments from ancestry labs > ancestry finder. Wait for the page to load and then scroll down to the big button that says: Download yourname‘s Ancestry Finder Matches. However the problem is that many of these are listed as anonymous even when you are already sharing with them. So you need to share genomes with the anonymous ones to put a name to a segment. You send those invitations out via relative finder.  The tools at at will download all the matching segments from your shares. Once you have a combined master list make two more files, one sorted by name and the other sorted by chromosome and start point. The second file is the basis for your master sheet

When you find an overlapping segment with more than one possible relative be sure to check if they match each other too!

I have a number of cases where the same rounded off segment at 23andme which matches me is not a match between two relatives because they are related on different sides, one paternal and one maternal. To check at 23andme use the chromosome browser function and compare your two matches. At family finder, use the in common with function to see if one match is in common with the other one. Then they match each other. Of course that is no guarantee that they don’t match somewhere else instead so ask them if they match each other there or (best) compare them at GEDmatch. Alternately if you have other family members tested at family tree DNA you may be able to look at their match with these two (see a later post I did on that technique).

If you have uploaded your data to GEDmatch you can use the GEDmatch site to look at specific matching segments of interest to see if there are other possible matches. That is the “Show results that match on a given chromosome segment” function.  Then you can check if your possibles match each other as well by comparing those two id numbers using the “Compare your Autosomal FTDNA or 23andMe result with one other result in our database” function. The start and ending segments are shown as well as the cMs and SNPs.

Since my mother and father are from such different population groups, I now only do my mother’s side in my own spreadsheet and keep a separate spreadsheet for Dad. My current focus is Dad’s Norwegian ancestry (with a sprinkling of Finnish and British see his chromosome ancestry picture in my post about ancestry tools at 23andme) since records in Norway are great and very much online so we have a long paper trail. Plus we have solved one brick wall already with DNA!

If you want to go even deeper with your spreadsheet approach, I recommend joining the DNA_NEWBIE group via the ISOGG website and looking through their files on methodology as well as joining the genealogy-DNA group at rootsweb and reading all back posts by Tim Janzen.

More another day.

I have updated this post a little and added it to the DNA testing menu. Other posts to read as follow up are Jim Bartlett’s post on using spreadsheets and my page on the overlapping segment mapper, if you want to make a pretty picture from the CSV of your overlaps from your 40 closest DNA relatives.

41 thoughts on “Finding Distant Relatives with Autosomal DNA Testing

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  1. Hi Kitty, I’m glad I found your blog. This post was helpful and very well written. It seems like you’ve learned a lot from this experience. I see that you have had both of your parents tested. Did you find any overlapping chromosome segments that both your parents shared just by looking at the chromosome data? – Thanks

    • Thank you Ginger, I am spending way too much time on this new hobby!! But no I only have my Dad tested as my mother passed away long before I took thus up.

      There is a function at GEDmatch that lets you check the relatedness of your parents from just your own DNA and it confirms that my parents are not related. There are 3 spots, two less than 1cM and one only a touch larger. Also my Dad’s parents from different parts of Norway were not closely related, one 2.5cM segment

      There are also more of these type utilities created by David Pike at his site –

  2. In your post above, you wrote: “When you find an overlapping segment with more than one possible relative be sure to check if they match each other too! … To check at 23andme use the chromosome browser function and compare your two matches.”

    Did you really mean “chromosome browser” here? If so, could you provide a little more detail on how to do this?


    • By chromosome browser I mean the function where you compare DNA segments that can be found by going to ancestry labs and then family inheritance advanced.

      23andme let’s you compare the DNA of anyone you share with against up to three other sharing people there

      • Ah, that makes more sense. When you said “chromosome brower,” I was thinking you meant the “Browse Raw Data” function (a drop down item under “Account”), and I was wondering if there was some feature in that item that I had somehow missed. Thanks for the clarification.

  3. mskitty this question is for you. I am a newbie with DNA but have some very basic knowledge of DNA only in the most general terms unfortunately. I am stalled at many of my lines due to them either being common names in NYC or being Irish, and did DNA testing in hopes of some enlightenment re my Irish lines (wishful thinking I know LOL) My question is this. I am descended from the vary first families in the US, which was a “closed population” for all intensive purposes. Those families intermarried over and over and I have TONS of matches that the only common denominator I can find is back at the 9 GGP level or so give or take a generation. I am related to some of the same people in several different ways due to all this intermarrying. Could this explain many matches at the 4th -6th cousin level (and a few at the 2nd -4th cousin level)??? Folks keep telling me it is impossible, autosomal only goes back 6-7 gens, but it seems to me that with all this intermarrying certain genes would be more prevalent. It is driving me crazy as people keep telling me this is impossible and I must have another relationship with these people at a lower level…but I sure cannot find it. Of course being stalled in most of my lines (Irish for the most part) does not help. I have thrown the book at my lines, trying everything I can think of and DNA is a last resort for me to try to make some headway. I am hoping someone else may have more info than I and I may find it via DNA. Anyway I would appreciate your opinion re these matches showing up for me, when all I can determine is that they come from these well known and well established lines back in the 1600-1700 time period in New England. If you are familiar with those folks we are talking the Munsons, Baldwins, Gunns, Northrups, Howland’s, Camps etc …huge families and tons of intermarrying. Thanks for your help and opinion. Joyce

  4. Yes the intermarrying will show many of your double 10th cousins as much closer. I have a triple 10th/11th cousin in Norway that shows as a 3rd-5th.

    Colonial ancestry is particularly known to do this. Ashkenazi DNA is even more prone to this effect, as are all very endogenous groups.

    Large families plus the randomness of DNA inheritance mean that you can certainly inherit DNA from as far as 10 generations back. It is not expected but with intermarriage it becomes more likely.

    Read this post for some more information on this:

  5. I did find that after I posted the question. Thank you for clarifying. I have had person after person (even at GEDMATCH admin) tell me this was not possible except on very rare occasions, but I find many of my matches back to these folks…I have same issue on my Italian side LOL and I think this may be more common in earlier centuries than many people realize, esp with rural populations. My Italians married into same families over and over and my 1 x GGM was a cousin to her husband my 1 x GGF….It sure does ruin my day when I am trying to find my Irish guys and all these other matches confuse the heck out of things, esp when I run across people who have not gotten as far back as I have in the New England lines…on the good side I can point them in the right direction, unfortunately that only helps them, not me LOL . Thx so much for the answer. Lots of these folks often have Irish in lines as well. I read somewhere that one way “new” families to US tried to be accepted in US was to marry into old families…not sure how true that is, they took their secrets to the grave 🙂 Joyce

    • Thank you so much for your post! I have the same issue with my family. Intermarriage is making my research very challenging. It is nice to know I’m not missing something or getting confused just by the pure complexity of the subject and that my family is just a beast 😉

    • Oh, my, I read Joyce’s question from 2014 and mskitty’s reply, and yes, I will tell you I inadvertantly discovered this. My paternal ancestry goes back to 1635 and the founding of Hartford Connecticut in this country. Many many many intermarrying lines cross crossing. One fifth cousin in Canada and I discovered we have so many crossings that the software showing relationships gives us about twelve (fifth, sixth once removed, and so on). Since my ‘families’ relocated to Nova Scotia while they were still good British citizens, and since there were three successive waves of immigration prior to the American Revolution (Ulster Scots, Colonial Americans and the Yorkshire migration), we have three different chunks of shared ancestors, one going back to Leicestershire England in the fifteenth century, one going back to the Ulster Scots who were settled in the north of Ireland by King James and another from Yorkshire, where families in one Riding tended to marry within the confines of that Riding. Once my data was up on 23 and me, I discovered someone predicted to be a fourth cousin that I knew from the above researches could only be a sixth cousin as we shared fifth great grandparents. It made me look more closely at the shared relatives and any names listed, and I found precisely what mskitty explains.

      It’s enough to drive a person to drink!

  6. this is an excellent Blog, thanks for posting all the helpful insights you have learned. 23andme should hire you to provide guidance to their customers interested in genealogy.

    • Sorry, I seem to have missed your question William. Upload your data to and compare there. I will email you as well.

  7. Ancestry.Com indicated to me and another that we may be 1st cousins. After reviewing we cant seem to find such a direct link. Then we got in contact and found out that my possible 1st cousin was adopted and only knows who her biological mother is. She did have a first name and location from where he was from. Well the first name matches my father and he spent most of his life in Chicago. Although hard to pin down if he was in Chicago at the time. Since he passed away in October before we found out. Trying to use GEDMatch.Com to get more confirmation. Summary on GEDMATCH.Com is:

    Largest segment = 120.3 cM
    Total of segments > 7 cM = 1,824.4 cM
    37 matching segments
    Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 1.5

    Is this leading to conclusion we are half-siblings?

    • Yes you are half siblings. I will email you so you can send me the kit numbers to confirm.

      You might also test some paternal side relatives

  8. I recently took on the challenge of identifying an adopted friend’s birth parents through his Ancestry DNA results. I believe that I have in fact identified both of his parents. His father with absolute confidence based on the DNA alone, and his mother with 99% confidence based on the DNA plus non-DNA factors.

    He is waiting for me to write up the results before he approaches either of these people so I’m hoping you’ll kick the tires of the process that got me to identify them, and tell me if I’m right to have such a high level of confidence.

    He has 380 4th or closer matches, and another 17,000 distant cousins. His first three matches are all related to each other. Since his BM stated her ethnicity as Norwegian and Scottish on a questionnaire when she gave him up for adoption, and the top three matches are neither of these ethnicities, I assumed they were paternal matches. I pinned them on a family tree and based on the projected relationships with my friend, I narrowed his father down to one of four brothers and their sons. At that point I hadn’t yet thought of a way to narrow the field on the paternal side, so I started working on his mother’s side.

    I identified matches who were not related to the father’s side, and found that several projected third cousins all had the same ancestor. This man had come from Norway in the late 1800’s and had 12 children. I was able to pin 8 of the 3rd cousin matches onto 7 of the 12 branches, which most likely meant my friend would not be on those 7 branches. I didn’t eliminate them altogether but put them on a back burner. I then researched the descendants of the remaining 5 children and found a woman who had married a man of 100% Scottish descent whose last name was the same as the name on my friend’s birth certificate (a name his birth mother had given him).

    At that point I had a likely set of grandparents for my friend, but no proof that they were in fact his grandparents. I then searched for proof that my friend was related not just to the woman, but also to her husband. I found several people among my friend’s matches who had a common ancestor with this woman’s husband. Because there would not be any endogamy between a Norwegian woman and a Scottish man (right?), once I found the matches with common ancestors, I felt very confident that my friend is the grandson of this couple.

    Unfortunately they have three daughters and none has tested, nor have any of their children, so there’s no way to include or exclude any of the three women with the current DNA results.

    So I went old school, I compared the birth bio of the mother to the three sisters. One sister was 12 when my friend was conceived. Unlikely. The second sister didn’t match the birth bio at all. The third was an absolute bingo.

    Back to the father. Of all of the potential BFs only one (and his son) lived in the state where the BM was born and raised. All the others lived in a different state. Again, I didn’t eliminate any of them, I just put them on a back burker. I focused on the man’s son as being more age-appropriate, and looked for someone among my friend’s DNA matches who shared an ancestor with this man’s mother. I did find one, but rather distant. 8C1R, sharing 18.9 cM on 2 segments. It’s possible that this person is actually related more closely through a different relative, whom I didn’t find. So that wasn’t quite a smoking gun. Then I found another match, much closer. Assuming my choice for BF actually is his BF, this match is a 4C1R sharing 20.2 cM on 1 segment. I decided this was a smoking gun that proves that my friend is related to both of his likely BF’s parents and is therefore his son (he’s an only son so if my friend is related to both his parents, he’s his son).

    My friend is the spitting image of this man. AND … wait for it … my picks for his BM and BF were at the same university at the same time that he was conceived. And I found that out *after* I picked them.

    So … would you feel comfortable telling him that I am sure (or nearly sure, in the case of his BM) that these two people are his birth parents?

    I plan to give him full disclosure, maybe not go into as much detail about the process, but tell him that I think I proved with the DNA that the man is his BF, I cannot prove who his BM is with the DNA, but I am nonetheless sure of her.

    I have not uploaded his DNA to other sites … and I don’t plan to unless you think I really really should. I want to give him his results ASAP so he can begin the process of preparing himself emotionally to reach out to these people (who aren’t getting any younger). But I also don’t want to give him false confidence that I have absolutely found his parents, if in fact there’s a flaw in my logic. Or I’m relying too much on triangulating his matches to pinpoint these particular people.

    Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!

  9. It sounds like you have found the mother but I am less confident about the father. So I suggest you go forward with giving your friend his BM information.

    The presumed BF should have many more matches on his mother’s side. Looks can be deceiving. I had a case where an uncle bore a striking resemblance to the adoptee, much more so than the BF. Same state is not a good criteria as any of the cousins of that BF you picked could be at that college too.

    So go back and check the spouses of all the other possible parents of other BFs to see if any get more matches. I use GWorks at DNAgedcom to compare the trees of his DNA matches and then check surname occur ances for that spouse’s surname and their mother’s surname.

  10. Thank you! You may have saved me from serious embarrassment. Although I’ve already told them I’m 100% sure the presumed BF is his father. GAH!

    Though …he still might be, right?

    Coincidentally, I saw your GWorks post this morning; my reaction was … oh my lord that sounds complicated 🙂

    I only learned about mirror trees last week, and because I was so sure of the BF after I found that one 4th cousin match through his mother’s line, I had already stopped doing DNA research. I will set one up to test the presumed BF for more maternal matches.

    I have found several DNA matches to the presumed BF’s paternal grandmother (4C, 4C1R, 2C2R, 6C1R, 3C2R, 5C2R, 7C, all based on the presumed BF, these would be off by 1R if his BF is from the older generation). I guess this means that the pool of candidates I originally identified is correct, but I may not have selected the right one from among them.

    And as a reality check I looked up the number of matches on the BM’s paternal line (which is analogous to the BF’s maternal line). There are a lot: 1C2R, 3C1R, 3C1R (half), 2C1R (three full siblings, at 97 cM, 94 cM and 57 cM), 3C, 2C1R, 3C, 4C1R, 3C1R.

    So yeah, I can see now why you’d be suspicious of the very thin DNA connecting my friend to his presumed BF’s mother’s line.

    One thing that has always puzzled me about the birth questionnaire is that while it is an absolute bingo in every respect for the BM, it was completely wrong for the presumed BF. It lists the BF’s ancestry as German-Italian, and gives details about military service, college major, sports scholarship, etc that are all wrong. I suppose those could fit another male in the family (I’ll check) but the German-Italian really doesn’t. Even if his BF has a German-Italian mother, the other half would be English-Irish.

    Should I be concerned about the genetic ancestry?

    My friend’s Ancestry DNA shows 36% Europe West, 23% Ireland, 19% Scandinavia, 10% Great Britain, and 7% Italy/Greece.

    He’s definitely 25% Scottish and 25% Scandinavian from his mother’s side.

    On the paternal side, the cM matches don’t really point to one generation of men versus their sons as the BF, if you’re going strictly by the DNA. The older generation is 25% northern Irish of Protestant stock, and 75% English. So if one of them is the father, the DNA is way off.

    If one of the 5 brothers’ *sons* is my friend’s BF then if that person’s mother was of German descent, that would put my friend at 25% Scottish, 25% Scandinavian, 25% German (Western Europe), 18% English and 6% Irish. Closer to the Ancestry breakdown.

    Do Protestants from Northern Ireland test as genetically Irish versus English?

    Anyway unless you tell me otherwise I’m not going to worry too much about either the birth questionnaire or the genetic ancestry. Once I found the paternal matches I resigned myself to the fact that the birth questionnaire is wrong for the father, at least as far as genetic ancestry.

    At some point I may identify a candidate who *does* match the birth questionnaire (and has a mother of Western Europe descent) .. but if the DNA is strong for a particular candidate, I don’t think I’ll need to worry too much about thequestionnaire. It could be wrong for a lot of reasons… she deliberately lied about the father, the father lied to her and she believed him, or there was more than one possibility for the BF and she tossed a coin. Anyway what people say is not always reliable, but the DNA is, so I’m going to focus on that

  11. The BF information is often wrong on these as the BM thinks it’s the wrong person or … So yes try a mirror tree for the BF you found meanwhile look through the other candidates for one where there are matches on his mother’s line.

    GWorks is not that hard, just follow the steps. I am about to blog about it again

  12. Thank you! I’m learning about mirror trees right now. I have a huge home tree with about 1600 people in it which mostly has the presumed BF’s ancestors going back hundreds of years. All of the other possible BFs are on it as well, I just need to build back their wives’ family trees and I’m doing that right now.

    Can I use this one tree for all the mirroring? Just set different potential BFs as “me” on the tree and then wait for shared hints?

  13. Oh, done and done! What’s more, this is such a sensitive search that everything is locked down so we don’t accidentally reveal his BM’s secret to her relatives, as I have him as the home person on the page!!! I am using my friend’s wife’s account, and recently a very close match for his BM popped up (BM’s first cousin) … I warned his wife that this is such a close match that he might get curious and reach out to her through Ancestry and if he did, she should ignore it. I’ve carefully gone through everything on her account and made it private and also anonymized everything – the tree name, etc. Her handle doesn’t identify her, etc etc.

    I was actually so scared of doing anything on ancestry that it was a month before I even created a tree on the site. That was not a wasted month at all, but let me tell you constructing a family tree on color coded index cards is a lot more laborious than doing it on a web site! Still, it had its advantages.

    Today I finally got up the nerve to link the tree to his DNA results, and instantly a lot of shared ancestor hints started popping up. If you don’t mind my spamming you I’ll post the results in another comment.

  14. Hi, Kitty. I’ve been trying to identify my g grandfather’s mother. There’s no DNA, but is it possible to identify het through one of her grandson’s or granddaughters? I’ve located her family and his family in Mississippi. It seems there was a lot of intermingling in the family right at Civil War time. One person even had my greatgrandfather’s name with two brothers and his parents, but relatives got in touch and said there were many women in the family by my gg father’s mother’s name.

  15. I’ve just gone through most of the 70 shared ancestor hints that popped up and yowza, this is a great feature. As I’m sure you already knew, but I didn’t, when you link the DNA results to a tree, the shared matches come up showing the line of descent from the MRCA and the degree of cousin-ship. I found several more for his BM’s father’s Scottish line, just a smattering for his BM’s Norwegian line even though he had many 3rd cousins matches on that tree … and then tons on the BF’s father’s line, mostly through the BF’s father’s mother (who has colonial ancestors).

    When I first posted I only had 2 matches with the BF’s mother. Since then 8 more have come up for a total of 10, through several different branches.

    Yes, I am going to populate the tree with the other BF candidates’ spouses and their ancestors and try mirroring them. Due diligence. I hope to find nothing 🙂

    Having looked closely at the tree today, I think there may be a partial explanation for why there are so few matches on his BF’s mother’s line.

    This woman’s father was an emigrant from England. I could find very little documentation of his ancestors or even his time in the US, and I couldn’t even nail down his middle name. I may have his father’s name in England, then the line goes cold. The tree follows the paternal grandmother back to England and then two more generations in England, but frankly I don’t even know if I have the right people on that branch, I borrowed them from other family trees with no supporting documentation. There are no siblings or siblings’ descendants on that line.

    None of the shared ancestors for his BF’s mother are on her father’s line, they’re all through her mother where I have excellent documentation on branches going back in America to the 1600’s. I do remember that you said in one of your posts that Ancestry is much better at matching colonial ancestors than foreign-born ones. The shared ancestors that are popping up bear that out.

    Here are the 10 matches that have shown up so far … each letter represents a different surname. F is the maiden name of the BF’s maternal grandmother, everything goes through her.

    I think there’s a good variety of ancestors in that group … enough to give me a little more confidence in the BF’s mother being a direct ancestor?

    ABF, 4C1R, 20.2, 1
    DF, 8C1R, 18.9, 2
    CEGF 6C2R, 16.8, 1
    CEGF, 7C, 14.3, 2
    CEGF, 6C2R, 8.6, 1
    HABF, 8C, 8.4, 1
    ABF, 7C1R 8.4, 1
    CEGF, 8C, 7.7, 1
    IEGF, 5C2R, 6.7, 1
    EGF, 5C2R, 6.4, 1

    What do you think?

    And please tell me if I am posting too much …

  16. By jove, I think you got it!

    Good surmise re BF’s mother’s father’s line. Yes they may be enough.

    I am always dubious about single segment matches however as they can go far back in time but the preponderance of them is compelling. Best to compare a few at GEDmatch or ftDNA where you might see more matching segments that ancestry eliminated …

  17. Thanks for the encouragement! Oh, I didn’t realize that multiple segment matches were actually better. So much to learn.

    If I upload to GEDmatch won’t I have to ask other people to compare? Erk… I pledged that I wouldn’t reach out to matches due to the sensitive nature of the research.

    Additional support for the lack of matches on that line is that the woman through whom all the matches flow … she only had one sibling, a sister who married later in life (single at state census at age 39, married at federal census at age 44 but no children in the household).

    Their mother only had two siblings and one died as a child. The other, I didn’t have his children in the tree. If I go back up a generation I start getting to large families, including a direct ancestor who married twice and had more children, some were half siblings to my friend’s ancestor … one married someone with an unusual name that pops up in a lot of distant cousins’ trees when I search on it.

    So it may be a combination of unusually few children in the generations above this possible grandmother, and not populating the tree with those siblings, spouses and their children that did exist, that contributed to their being so few matches.

    Anyway thank you for kicking the tires for me. I’ll get back to work and stop taking up your bandwidth!

  18. I have 21 shared ancestor hints on my maternal side, 14 all on the same tree, with one shared ancestor. Most are 3rd cousin or closer, two at 200 Cms plus. The tree branches where the shared ancestor married two different men. The 200+ Cms cousins are on one side.

    I still cannot find a woman who matches. Several suspects but just not enough data or descendants. Any advice? Thanks!

      • Thanks for the reply. I did a dna test three years ago, got my ethnicity and sat on it. In May i finally signed up with Ancestry. The same day I received a first cousin match. I looked at their tree and their mother only had one brother. We’ve been in contact. Met my cousin Tuesday. Surreal.

        I thought, this is easy!

        And then I started working on the other side. I’m currently using a mirror tree and that’s how I got the 21 shared ancestor matches. I don’t know if all these people even knew they were related until I started contacting them. I will look at that tool. So many folks have passed, and several had no children, but two women married late, or older men, and one never married.

        Thanks again!

  19. Hello Kitty,
    I went to the probability tool today, What an interesting tool!
    I tried nine scenarios, It threw four out as impossible, three as most likely possible, and three as possible. I have two questions, The relationships noted, i.e., 1C1R, is that based on my shared centimorgans with my matches and should they be the same as suggested on Ancestry? Also, the percentages, on the collated match data. Are those expressed as a percentage of 100%? In other words, if I have three at 52.96% does that mean there is a 52.96% probability that the hypothesis is correct?

    I only had two classes of combined odds ratios, 1.00 and 1.96, with the 1.96 the most likely possible scenarios. These I take it are not linear.

    Thanks for pointing me over there. If you could shed just a little light on my questions I would sincerely appreciate it.

    Thank you!

    • to answer “The relationships noted, i.e., 1C1R, is that based on my shared centimorgans with my matches and should they be the same as suggested on Ancestry? ” NO Ancestry is making a guess based on the amount of cMs shared and often there are many possibilities. Always take the total cM and put it in this tool to see them all:

      as to the other question, not sure I understand but yes I think “there is a 52.96% probability that the hypothesis is correct?” is true
      try joining the DNApainter facebook page and asking these detailed questions there

  20. Hello Kitty,
    I’ve added more matches to What Are The Odds. I have one common ancestor with most, with a dividing line between two different spouses for that ancestor.

    One side only has two close matches, and the other side more than twelve.
    I have built out the tree with several possibilities to test, and six scenarios jump out at 48,000 with the next closest being 12,000 over on the other tree.

    The six scenarios all are on the side of the tree with my closest cousins. The family had children over two decades. I tried using the women for birth mothers, but the program likes all six children from that family as grandparents, with a birth mother one generation down.

    What I found is you can have a family with enough age between children that one could be a birth parent or a grand parent. You have to also look at their respective ages to make an educated guess, as the What Are The Odds program only uses what data you input to calculate the odds, and that does not take into account age. Example, two of the women above are too young to be a grandparent.

    Take care,

  21. I just want to get into Gedmatch Genesis and get my id but all this reading is getting me no where!!i have tried i need to talk to some one

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