Archive | March 2019

Ancestry Improves the Potential Parent Box

Have you seen those boxes with green silhouette images in your tree titled Potential Father and Potential Mother? This feature has recently been greatly improved.

When you click on one of these boxes, Ancestry tells you that it has perhaps found that parent, like the image to the right, and it offers you two buttons, one to review the details and another to add this person manually. Clicking Add Manually just pops up a box with empty slots for you to add that person.

Review Details used to only show you the family information for the person that Ancestry had found, but not where it was from. Sometimes, if it looked accurate, I would click the “Yes” green button to add it for a quick and dirty (Q&D) tree I was making to search for an adoptee’s family. Sometimes it was easy to reject when the family information did not match. However mainly I would go to the hints for that person from their profile in my tree to see if I could figure out the possible parent from there. All in all, the Potential Parent box was only a little bit useful.

So how have they improved this?

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Finding Matilda

Matilda Andersen Munson, Jeanie’s great grandmother

When my cousins do DNA tests at my request, I reward them with a family tree that goes back several hundred years. Of course one line (mine) is already done! This has been great fun for me as I have learned much about early America by researching my relatives’ ancestors (I have no colonial ancestry of my own).

However Norway, my father’s ancestral land, is my area of expertise. Many Norwegian records are online in their free archives and many localities have local history books or farm books, available at a few genealogy libraries like the one in Salt Lake City. Called “bygdebøker,” these books include the genealogy information for the people on each farm. Click here for the family search wiki entry about “Norwegian Farm Books.” UPDATE: Come hear me talk about this at my talk on Norwegian research for SCGS Jamboree.

There is also a fabulous Norwegian genealogy group on FaceBook with many helpers who speak Norwegian. Plus there is an online OCR program for Norwegian that works well for turning those farm book entries into text so google can translate them; click here for my blog post on using it.

Christan Severis Munson, Jeanie’s great grandfather

My second cousin once removed, Jeanie, is descended from one of my grandad’s older brothers, Christian Munson, a midwestern minister, and his wife Matilda Anderson, She is a maternal line ancestor (think mtDNA) who was the mystery to solve. Matilda’s story is sad in that she had some sort of breakdown after her last baby died of encephalitis (yes I looked at the death record) and she was institutionalized for the rest of her life. They were living in Brooklyn at the time so there are many records both online and at the municipal archives which I visit twice a year (along with my NYC based grandchildren).

With a name like Matilda Anderson, I expected it to be difficult to find her ancestors, but luckily I found a marriage record on Ancestry for her and Christian Munson in the Lutheran church records. Church marriage records are wonderful because they have the names of the two fathers, if you can read the script.
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The Beta One-To-Many Tool: GENESIS Basics II

Finding cousins who can help solve genealogical mysteries are what many of us are hoping for when we do DNA testing. The various One-to-Many tools at GEDmatch Genesis list all the people who match the DNA kit you specify. These are cousins or even closer relatives.

The new beta version of the One-to-Many tool  is found under the heading DNA Applications in the right hand column of your home page.

My red arrow points to it in the image to the left.  It is a much improved tool, more like what was available on GEDmatch. When you click on it, you get a form as shown below which only needs the kit number added.


If you have set up some tag groups (click here for my GEDmatch tag group article), check the tag group box named “All” (shown with my red arrow above). Below is what my One-To-Many result looks like with my tag groups. The kit number is shown with the color of the group it belongs to. Note that when I have a person in more than one tag group, I get duplicate lines for them, one for each color coded tag group they are a member of:

My top matches in the One-To-Many with my tag groups (click for larger image)

One of the great features of this tool is that every column is searchable by putting text in the box above the column and then clicking the enter key. [UPDATE: this is a Tier 1 feature only and is more directly called a filter]. Another one is sortability via the up and down arrows at the top of the column. When working with my Jewish side, I sort by largest segment to get my closest cousins at the top. The reason I do that is that endogamous populations will often share many small segments from way back so the total cM make a triple 5th cousin look like a 2nd or 3rd ; however close cousins will always share larger segments.

This beta One-To-Many tool includes many of the features GEDmatch users are used to: the link to a tree*, the display of haplogroups, the estimation of generations difference, and the X matching. It also includes the new overlap number which lets you know how many SNPs are tested in common between the two kits. The overlap issue was discussed in my previous article about GENESIS

You can click on any kit number to get a One-To-Many for that kit or click on the underlined largest segment number to compare the cMs of the two kits for either autosomal or X. In both cases you are taken to a prefilled in form on which you can make changes to (don’t yet) before you click the Submit or Search button. On the X comparison, I recommend you click the “Prevent Hard Breaks ” because there is a large gap in the middle for many tests otherwise.

New matches will be indicated by having their names and days since upload colored in green. The green gets lighter the longer they are there until it eventually goes away.

Here is a table with an explanation for all of the One-To-Many column headings:

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Ancestry’s new DNA feature: ThruLines

Ancestry.com announced a great new tool at Rootstech called ThruLines. It finds connections to your DNA matches by looking through other people’s trees for you. This replaces DNA circles by displaying the descendants of your ancestors in a more understandable format. Even if you have a private tree, you will get these ThruLines as long as your tree is set to searchable. Here is what the new DNA overview page looks like:

ThruLines is fabulous but a little buggy. I was constantly getting page not found apparently due to a cookie problem and was wondering if I would ever finish this post! A trick suggested in Blaine’s DNA tools group on FaceBook solved this for me. I now open the ThruLines page as a private or incognito page by using the right click menu in Firefox or Chrome.

Right mouse clicking on ViewDNA matches brings up a menu where you can request a private window

The ThruLines page shows images of each of your ancestors with whom you share DNA matches, ordered by most recent first. Since I have tested my brother and many first, second, and third cousins, there were no surprises in the first four lines (16 ancestors) but once I got back to my great great grandparents I found a number of new cousins that I had not found before on my Norwegian side: descendants of my Wold great grandparents and my Halling 3rd grandparents.

One of the nice things is that Ancestry can see past the private parts of trees to find the connections. It shows you living people as boxes marked private but can still connect them back to the common ancestors. It also indicates whose tree the information came from, which is helpful when you know there is an error since you can click on the tree name to see it and contact that person to request that they fix it.

I found a whole slew of new Halling cousins decended from my great grandmother’s sister Nikolena

I was about to complain that I would prefer to see these ThruLines theories start from my DNA matches rather than my ancestors when I discovered that if I joined the Beta test of the new matches page they do exactly that, among many other wonderful new features.

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