The great new features just keep coming for Ancestry‘s DNA product. Now we can click new people into our tree from a DNA match with an Ancestor hint. This can be done from the page where it shows the pathway for each of you to the common ancestor, explained in detail on the next page of this post. Hopefully you will all be careful about this, checking sources and so forth …
One thing I love about Ancestry‘s common ancestor feature is that it always uses my tree first before extrapolating from other trees and records. Yes that’s right, it uses records!
When I look at a DNA match with a common ancestor I always note the relationship in the notepad and then color code by great grandparent line. This means that when I look through my DNA matches with common ancestors, the ones not yet categorized are easy to see since they have nothing added in the right hand column, for example Susan in the diagram above.
The other approach would be to filter by “Matches you haven’t viewed” and visually scan for common ancestors since you cannot combine those filters. [UPDATE 22-Apr-2020: they can now be combined, Ancestry now has a better menu bar than the one shown above with more ways to view your matches] Personally I have too many distant cousins that I have not looked at yet, but I often use the group filter of “Close matches – 4th cousin or closer” and combine it with the sort by date. People who have just gotten their test results are more likely to be on the site and thus may respond to your message.
The problem with the latter approach is that some matches you have already viewed may have recently added some tree information and Ancestry has found a common ancestor that was not there before. Therefore it is best to add notes and/or color codes and periodically check the list of people with common ancestors for new finds.
The other day I saw a very fanciful looking match with distant cousin “A” to my VE line from Hordaland. Her ancestry was almost entirely Norwegian with a bit of Swedish so that fit. Curious about an ancestor called just “J” in her line I had to investigate.
Clicking on her match from my list got a page with nothing familiar but the common ancestor listed in the left hand panel. Notice the green around the surname Kristensdatter in her pedigree tree indicating a surname in my tree too. This is a useful feature if your ancestors actually had last names but Norwegians were often just called by their patronymic as there were almost no fixed surnames before about 1890 so this hint is not helpful. A challenge for us genealogists to get used to.
There were no shared matches, but since those are only shown for people who share at least 20cM or more it was not likely, as we share only 9 cM. Next I clicked on the shared ancestor to see what Ancestry had found. Amazingly the path is from her mother for whom she had no useful ancestor information listed.
This pathway shows a daughter “J” from a known grandson of my 4th grandad Bjorn Ve. Puzzled I clicked on the green “evaluate match” and a side panel appeared explaining what had been found. J somehow stands for “Sonneva Johannesdtr Sokkedal” with normal variations in spelling. Two records, no trees with DNA matches but 2 other trees, one of whom is that of a known cousin who I have been in touch with many times. I trust her research.
First I clicked on the records to see how sensible they looked. Often the commonality of Norwegian names (think Ole Oleson) gets inaccurate matching. The first record looks great; right parents, right place, reasonable dates. So I add it. That function nicely asks if the wife I have for her father is her mother; she is. Once I am done, I can click view profile to do any further editing that I think is needed like adding a surname.
Time to look at my cousin B’s family tree copy of Sonneva. I am usually dubious about copying from trees where there are zero records listed but B has the local history book for that part of Rogaland so it is likely from that without being cited. Also Sonneva’s father is B’s direct ancestor which is why he is in my tree. Her Sonneva not only matches the record information but has a husband whose farm name is a close match to the Korhus name in the small tree of A. Amazing that Ancestry made this connection.
“B” has less information about Sonneva so rather than add another copy of her that needs merging, I decided to click to her page in B’s Tree and use the “Save to Tree” tool which will let me pick and choose what to copy as well as bring over her immediate family. The fact that Sonneva’s name is now clickable to my cousin’s tree from the side panel about that person is another great new feature on this page.
Clicking on the second dashed line ancestor “Korhus” shows nothing in the sidebar other than the tree of my match, so instead I go look at the Thomas Karhus in my tree whom I copied from cousin B’s tree. Using ancestry hints, I find another genealogist whom I trust with even more information about Thomas in his tree. I copy those over. Thomas had three wives and many children but the wife from my VE line, Sonneva, had only 2 children with him, one son and a daughter named Guraa (aka Guro). Since the Karhus person in my match’s tree is female, that would be this daughter.
Using Ancestry‘s hints on the daughter Guraa I find the 1900 census from Norway which lists Guraa with her husband and a daughter named Elizabeth Gurine! The same name as the mother of my match! The census shows Elizabet as born in Skanevik; so next I went to the online Norwegian archives and found her birth record. The birth date matches the one in the tree of my DNA match “A” and the parents match also, her mother is Guro Tomasdtr and her father is Osmund Sjurson.
A thorough genealogist would next go to Norway’s online records for Vats in Rogaland to get more records for this line going back. Maybe I can get my new cousin do that!
I have lots of posts here on how to search for your Norwegian ancestors that I can share with her plus I did a talk about that at the last Jamboree – click here for those slides. By the way the Ve farm is top left on that opening image.
The next question is whether the 9cM we share is from our 4th grandfather Bjorn Ve. Maybe. There could easily be other common ancestors further back on other lines. If “A” uploads to GEDmatch so I can compare her to all the other Ve descendants there, I will see if it triangulates. She is actually only my half 5th cousin since she descends from his first wife, while I am from his second wife. I have found more than my share of cousins from this line so I guess I just got lots of Ve DNA. Or maybe when your 4th grandparents have 8 children who each have another 8 children and so forth, there are just more matches out there.