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Evaluating ThruLines

I am an Ancestry ThruLines proponent. Are you?

Most of those speaking out against ThruLines are either expressing doubt about all of the ‘Evaluate’ suggestions or have found actual errors in their ThruLines. Their point is valid, especially if one doesn’t take the time to document the suggested lineage.

I think the fact that I have tried to document descendants of my second great grandfathers has affected my opinion of ThruLines. Since I already have identified and documented the children, grandchildren and most of the great grandchildren of these ancestors, ThruLines is pulling information from MY tree to draw the connections between my ancestor and the parents of a DNA match – or – often my DNA match. Thus, I don’t have much to evaluate.

However, when I move back a generation, I’m finding that I have been lax about researching the descendants of my 3rd great grandfathers. Thus, I have a lot to ‘Evaluate’ on my ThruLines.

To complete this evaluation, I start at the top and look at what documentation I have and what I might be missing. In particular, I’m concentrating on the following types of sources:

  • Census records
  • Vital records
  • Find a Grave records
  • Obituaries

Basically, I’m looking for enough documentation to support the family relationships, one generation at a time until reaching my DNA match.

So in my example, I will first check for missing documentation for the Phillip Mentzer, William Andrew Mentzer, and Moses Henry Mentzer.

Based on the need to ‘Evaluate’ Grace and Francis Mentzer, I obviously don’t have the family of Francis A. G. Mentzer in my RootsMagic database. To start the ‘Evaluation’ process, I use the ability of RootsMagic to connect with the FamilySearch tree. I know that the FamilySearch tree is controversial, but I view it as a starting point based on the consensus of other researchers. Thus, I will use RootsMagic to pull down a spouse and children for Francis A. G. Mentzer.

Once I have the family in my RootsMagic database, I will then use RootsMagic’s TreeShare to upload that family to my tree on Ancestry. Shortly after the upload is completed, I will start evaluating Ancestry hints for Francis A. G. Mentzer and his children. As I work with each hint, I am adding events and documentation to my RootsMagic database. After working thru the hints, I again do an upload to my Ancestry tree via RootsMagic’s TreeShare.

Then I start the entire process over again with the next generation down. In this example, that would mean pulling down the spouse and any identified children for Grace Mentzer and her brother, Francis G. Mentzer. Since this generation likely has living children, the FamilySearch tree will probably be incomplete. My next step is to upload to Ancestry so I can use their hinting system to locate records. Since many of their children are likely living, I need to locate records that identify those children. In some cases, I have been able to find birth and/or marriage records for the children. Most of the time, however, I need an obituary that identifies the children. As I find information identifying the children, I add them to my database as living individuals.

Once I have data to support the relationship suggested by ThruLines, I then document the DNA connection. I have created two PRIVATE facts for this documentation: DNAMatch and DNAThruLines:

For my DNA match, I add a DNAMatch fact. I enter 2020 as the SORT DATE and make sure PRIVATE is checked. I then add a source. I use the DNA-Ancestry ThruLines source that I created in RootsMagic. For the ‘Item of Interest’ I enter information about the match. At first, I was only entering the match’s name in this field. However, I have started being more descriptive here to help me identify which of the tests I manage are being matched. Thus, I’m trying to use the following pattern for the ‘Item of Interest’

Initials of tester shares __ cM __ segments with DNAMatch

On the Detail text screen, I add the ThruLines information starting with our common ancestor and working down to the match. I add information about our relationship and about the quantity of DNA shared.

The identity of my match has been whited out in the above image to protect their privacy. Once I have completed filling out the source, I the the MEMORIZE button to copy it.

I then move back a generation and create a DNAThruLines fact again making sure it is marked private and paste the recently copied source. As I document additional cousins, I add their source to this one fact.

I work my way back creating DNAThruLines facts and adding sources until I reach the common ancestor. Instead of continuing that practice back further generations, I SHARE the DNAThruLines fact with the ancestors of that common ancestor. In cases where there is only one wife, I also share the fact with the spouse of the common ancestor.

Judson Foster Crawford is the common ancestor for the DNAThruLines sources shown above. His DNAThruLines fact is shared with his wife, Mary Foster, and their ancestors going back about 3 generations.

By sharing the DNAThruLines fact in this way, I have already documented the DNA relationships thru that one child when I move back a generation. Thus, I only have to document the DNA relationships thru the other children.

By working thru the ThruLines suggestions in this way, I am improving my tree by adding descendants and documentation for those descendants. I am also able to add documentation for my DNA match. I am currently working on DNA matches for my 3rd great grandparents. This is a slow process, but is allowing me to validate those ThruLines suggestions.