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DNA and Descendancy Research

Do you try and connect with other genealogists to pick up tips and tricks? Living in rural America, I rely on connections over the Internet to pick up many of those tips and tricks. I’ve recently been watching one of the Barefoot Genealogists’ recent videos: Making Discoveries with the New and Improved AncestryDNA Match List.

About halfway thru the video (28:48), Crista explains why I should use actual names and birthdates for living people in my tree. I hadn’t considered that my ‘privitization’ of the names would prevent the computers from being able to match data in my tree with data in a match’s tree. Since I’ve had issues in the past with shared matches not working as expected, I have followed Crista’s advice and used actual names.

Watching this video, I also discovered that the method and terminology for shared matches has changed. Instead of being called ‘shared matches’, it is now called ‘common ancestors’. The terminology change is likely due to the change in how the ‘sharing’ is determined. I believe the shared matches was based on sharing Ancestry hints. With common ancestors, it is determined by comparing tree data.

That’s why Ancestry is recommending that everyone have a tree with at least parents and grandparents. Ancestry’s computers can take that small tree and compare it to all of the other trees on Ancestry. Thus, that small tree might have a parent or grandparent in a larger tree, like mine, that contains a lot of descendants. This is the same technology that is behind the new feature, Ancestry Thrulines.

I decided to test this on my own tree. I had a DNA match that I hadn’t looked at identified as having a common ancestor.

When I clicked on the ‘Common Ancestor’ link, it took me to a comparison page. This screen informed me that my match’s tree was private. However, along the left side of the screen was the suggested common ancestors: Albert Hutchinson and Julia Harding.

When I clicked on Albert Hutchinson, our two lines leading back to Albert Hutchinson were shown.

All of the white boxes on both lines were from my tree! Since I have researched the descendants of Albert Hutchinson, I had enough info in my tree to connect with my match – who only had 11 people in her tree.

Thus, all of my work over the years to research descendants is helping me identify my DNA matches!