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DNA Heritage and Challenge

During a recent visit with some old friends, the discussion turned to genealogy and DNA. Expecting an answer regarding ethnicity, they asked where my family comes from.  My immediate response was KENTUCKY.

Perhaps this quick answer was due to my recent THOMPSON research in Ohio County, Kentucky. The more likely reason is that a lot of ancestral lines seem to go thru Kentucky. (or New York). My brother’s migration map from his Ancestry DNA test illustrates our heritage.


Even though many people are infatuated with Ethnicity reports, I am not. Perhaps that is because I have strong Kansas roots. To illustrate those roots, I used the Excel template provided by J Paul Hawthorne in his “A Little Thing that Went Viral” blog. Below is the birth and death locations for 5 generations of my tree:5gen birth




5gen death














Perhaps the fact that my tree is basically a United States tree for more than six generations helps explain the overwhelming number of DNA matches I have. As of today, I have the following matches on Ancestry DNA

  • 3 immediate family
  • 1 in First Cousin category
  • 8 in Second Cousin category
  • 17 in Third Cousin category
  • 2,529 in Fourth Cousin category
  • 73, 839 in Distant Cousin Category
  • 78,955 total matches

And the list will only grow as Ancestry continues to sell DNA tests. For me, this is an overwhelming amount of data. For this reason, I find shared matches, DNA circles, the Leeds Method and the clustering tool from Genetic Affairs helpful in interpreting this data.

The tool I find most helpful in figuring out my DNA connections is my tree. Since I had tracked some descendants, I have been able to recognize the names of most of my second and third cousins. Even though I don’t have all of the descendants of my 3x great grandparents, what I do have will help figure out a 4th cousin relationship.

When it comes to those distant cousins, I would dearly love to connect with them. Even though we only share a small amount of DNA, I believe that some of those distant cousins may hold the key to breaking down my brick walls. My tree is fairly solid thru my 4x great grandparents.


However, it could use some work for those earlier generations!

Whether it is figuring out DNA matches or expanding my tree, I obviously have my work cut out for me.

Wish me luck inf finding those elusive Ancestors!


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