I know I’m going to date myself, but I remember the joy of finding Everton’s Genealogical Helper in our mailbox. I would pour through each issue looking for an ad that might connect me with a genealogical cousin. Finding such an ad would cause me to compose a letter with a pedigree chart or family group sheet attached and send it off with a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). I would then wait for a reply. Sometimes, I would be the person posting such an ad. Again I would anxiously await any replies to my ad. [See article: Pre-Internet Cousin Bait}
Thru time, mailing lists, surname lists and message boards replaced the ads in the Helper. Even though those resources may still exist, I rarely use them. Browsing Anestry’s message boards and seeing fewer and fewer messages posted and many with no replies, it is obvious that others are not using this resource either.
So, what is being done to connect with cousins. My husband has successfully used Facebook groups for his ancestors to connect with living cousins. Even though I have befriended a lot of cousins on FB, I have not had the success that my husband has had. That is likely due to the fact that he is very active in his groups and tends to ignore anything and everything else on Facebook while I’m not very active in my family groups.
Instead of Facebook, I’ve been concentrating on this blog. I’ve shared photos, ancestral biographies, lists of descendants, sources and analysis of local records in my various blog posts.
In terms of sharing my genealogical data, I concentrate on my Ancestry tree, Heartland Genealogy. I am also adding sources and memories to the FamilySearch tree. Since I’m using RootsMagic 7 for my genealogical research, I also have a free site thru RootsMagic for my data.
Another way in which I try to connect with cousins is thru DNA. My Ancestry tree is connected to the four DNA tests I manage on Ancestry. To help make connections with DNA cousins, I am researching descendants of my 2nd and 3rd great grandparents. By doing this research, I’m hoping to provide a connection between my tree and a DNA match’s tree.
In order to connect with cousins who may have tested their DNA on a different site, I have transferred my Ancestry DNA to GedMatch, MyHeritage and FamilyTree DNA. Thanks to the use of GedCom, I have transferred my genealogical data to these sites. Thus, I have a tree connected to DNA on MyHeritage, GedMatch, and FamilyTreeDNA.
Thanks to my brother agreeing to do a yDNA test, his results are part of the CRAWFORD yDNA project. This project has a fantastic administrator and an associated Facebook group. I am also participating in the GedMatch project for Germanna descendants. Both of these projects are helping me connect to DNA cousins with ties back to the 1700s.
So cousin, if you find a connection to your research in my research posted on my tree or in my blog or via my DNA results, please contact me. I can be friended on Facebook as Marcia Crawford Philbrick, messaged in Ancestry or reached via email using mcphilbrick at gmail dot com as my address.
Do you track your DNA statistics? At times, I’ve tried keeping track of these statistics but got frustrated when the way the information was reported would change. Thus, it became difficult to compare current data with previous data.
When it comes to ‘common ancestors,’ I couldn’t find the number reported by Ancestry. Since I don’t want to have to try and count them, I’m going to guesstimate. I recently posted my ThruLines Summary thru my 4th great grandparents. For my ‘guesstimate,’ I’m going to use 1/2 of the total number of ThruLines thru my 4th great grandparents. This isn’t an accurate calculation.
1/2 ThruLines thru 4th Great Grandparents
Theory of Relativity
64 cM or closer
34 cM or more
FAMILY TREE DNA
Total autosomal matches to my DNA – 6257
Total autosomal matches to brother 1’s DNA – 1677
FAMILY TREE DNA – yDNA results for brother
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 4 – 1
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 6 – 8
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 7 – 4
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 8 – 6
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 9 – 3
yDNA matches at 111 markers with genetic distance of 10 – 1
Big Y R-^88686 haplogroup matches – 3
With over 100,000 matches for one DNA test, there is NO WAY I’m going to be able to document all of those matchers. However, I’m using the ThruLines matches to help support my paper research. Thus, all of those matches are important to me.
It’s approaching that time of year when on reflects on the past year and looks forward to the next. Like most people, I’m ready for this pandemic to be over. However, I do like to look back on my genealogy to see how much progress I’ve made. In order to do that, I have to collect data for future comparison.
Thus, I’m going to collect data on my Ancestry DNA Thrulines. I am MC, my siblings are DC and TC and my parent is RC.
Have you learned thru the years that spelling matters when doing an Internet search? On the other hand, have you found that spelling of names varies — and thus a specific spelling doesn’t matter any more? That need to be able to search for various spellings of a name was behind the development of the Soundex code.
Soundex code was very valuable in pre-Internet days for locating census records. It can still be used today with searches of Ancestry’s databases. Unfortunately, this concept isn’t used when Ancestry’s computers compares the trees of people who have a DNA match to identify the common ancestor. Instead, the computer is looking for an exact match.
As I’ve started researching an ancestor that Ancestry identified as a potential match, I’m running into spelling issues.
This new ancestor is a revolutionary war veteran, Major Simon Van Arsdale. In addition to his revolutionary war service, Simon Van Arsdale was part of the Low Dutch Settlement that migrated to Kentucky.
The discovery of Simon Van Arsdale as a potential ancestor is opening up doors to other potential ancestors and a lot of interesting history. Unfortunately, the spelling of the Van Arsdale name is making it difficult to locate records and to identify DNA matches. So far, I’ve identified the following spellings for this surname:
For the most part, clicking to also use Soundex when searching Ancestry databases will help me get around the many spellings of the name. However, that option isn’t available when working with DNA matches. I recently learned that I should use the ‘alternate name’ fact to add variations on the spelling of a name.
This morning as I was thinking about the need to add ‘alternate name’ facts for Simon Van Arsdale, I saw a Facebook post questioning why Ancestry’s computers can’t find common ancestors when both parties of a DNA match have large trees. I believe the same post also talked about how changing the spelling of a name (Fannie to Fanny) caused the number of matches on a ThruLines to drop. In the comments on the post was a suggestion to add an ‘alternate name’ fact for the different spelling of the name. (Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find this post back. Thus, I can’t give credit to the parties who wrote the post and the comment.)
In thinking about this question as to why the computers aren’t finding the common ancestors, I realized that spelling of surnames and name variations could be a big issue with my tree. I have a lot of places in my tree where the name I have could be slightly different from the name another person might have in their tree. However, I have one surname where this could be a big issue: CURREY.
Over the years, I have found that when the name is spelled with the ‘e’, the record is usually for someone in my line. I have also found records using the CURRY spelling that are for individuals in my line. Thus, the name could be spelled CURREY or CURRY. Since I only have the CURREY spelling in my direct ancestral line, I’m going to experiment with adding CURRY as an alternate name to see what happens to my ThruLines.
Below are the number of ThruLines matches for each generation of my CURREY line:
Hiram Currey – Dodge City – 1866-1943 —– 3 matches
Do you remember having conversations with your parents similar to ‘Why can’t I? Everyone else is doing it.’ Well, that is how I sometimes feel when it comes to my DNA research strategy. In other words, I often haven’t had a specific strategy, but was following the ‘crowd’.
That was at least true when I submitted my spit to Ancestry to have an autosomal DNA test completed over 4 years ago. At the time, I didin’t know much about DNA but was hoping that it would help break down the numerous brick walls in my family tree.
It was only after getting my results back that I started learning about the perceived limitations of these results.
Since my tree was already complete thru 5 and 6 generations and mostly complete thru 7 generations, my hopes of using my Ancestry DNA results to prove a new ancestor were dashed.
Then came the summer of 2020 when Ancestry announced that it had plans to remove the 6 and 7 cM matches from our lists of matches. Since Ancestry had also recently announced that over 18 million people had had their DNA tested by Ancestry, I knew that these smaller matches were adding to the data load. Thus, I looked at this move for what it was – a cost saving measure.
That was until I looked at my own ThruLines data and realized that I had ‘brick wall shattering’ information in my ThruLInes that utilized quite a few of these smaller matches to build these connections.
Thus, I started working to tag these smaller matches — starting with those identified as having a common ancestor. In working thru these matches, I found matches to support my paper research identifying Rachel Harris, daughter of Peter Harris as my third great grandmother. These matches helped me identify Peter’s wife along with the parents of Peter Harris and his wife, Rachel Simonse VanArsdale. This discovery led me to three revolutionary war ancestors and a very rich family history going back to the 1600s.
Knowing that there had to be other ‘yet to be identified’ common ancestors lurking in this pool of 6-7 cM matches, I decided I was going to try and tag as many of these matches as I could. Roberta Estes provided some guidance on how to do this in her blog on July 16: Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon – Preservation Strategies with Detailed Instructions. So, I started by searching these matches for some of my surnames and then tagging them. Since this was a slow labor intensive process, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to save very many of these matches.
Then I saw a post by Roger Froysaa on the Facebook group, Ancestry DNA Matching where Roger shared a script that could automatically tag these 6 and 7 cM matches. Roger not only shared several versions of his script but also wrote a script to cause the list of matches to scroll to the bottom. These scripts worked — to a point. I would either get an ‘Aw Shucks’ your browser crashed OR a message from Ancestry that their backend servers were overtaxed. Charles Updike shared changes to the script, including a different script to scroll to the bottom.
This morning, I saw another post on the AncestryDNA Matching group about these scripts. This post was by Kay Simpkins where she shared a script written by Earl Haiks. I found the script in one of Kay’s comments on her post and copied/pasted it into Notepad.
After reading all of the comments on Kay’s post, I realized that I didn’t have to sort out the 6-7 cm matches, I just had to run the script. I renamed my ‘6-7 cM Matches’ group and called it ‘Distant Relatives’ so that I wouldn’t have to edit the script shared by Kay. I then ran it on my matches — and it was QUICK and I didn’t get any of those error messages. In about 4 hours early this morning, I was able to run this script on five tests. I still have one test to run the script on but am waiting until tonight when it should run faster than midday.
Below are the stats for these five kits:
SUCCESS AT LAST!
Now, I just have to continue researching ancestors / descendants on my tree so that Ancestry’s computing power can figure out the common ancestor for these distant matches.
None of this would have been possible if others had not been willing to share via a blog post or Facebook community. Thank you Roberta Estes, Roger Froysaa, Charles Updike, Kay Simpkins and Earl Haiks for your contributions to this conversation. Also a shout out to Jason Lee for creating and administering the AncestryDNA Matching Facebook group.
As with many other genealogists, I’m struggling with the upcoming loss of small matches from my Ancestry DNA match list. I have no idea how many of these matches I have but I’m guessing it is in the thousands.
Since I will never have the time to work thru thousands upon thousands of matches to figure out how we connect, I’m hoping to use Ancestry’s computer technology to help me. Thus, I’m concentrating on my ThruLines matches, including the “potential ancestors”.
I have done a lot of descendancy research which I believe is helping Ancestry’s ThruLines technology connect me to DNA matches who have very small trees. Seeing the words ‘No Tree’ or ‘Unlinked Tree’ in my list of matches means I will scroll right past the match and will never take the time to figure out our relationship.
Thus, I need my over 100,000 matches to have a searchable tree attached to their DNA test(s).
Have you seen Ancestry’s recent news that they will be dropping smaller matches from our list of DNA matches? (Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon) With over 100,000 matches on my list, I’m not sure I will miss most of those small matches.
However, I decided to look at my ThruLines and Common Ancestors matches to see what the impact might be. Since I have four DNA tests to manage, including my mother, I decided to start with the 5th great grandparent ThruLines. My goal is to add color coding dots and notes for ALL of the matches for each match listed on ThruLines.
As I’ve worked my way thru all of these 5th great grandparent ThruLines, I observed some matches with very small trees where the common ancestor was identified.
After finishing the 5th great grandparent ThruLines, I then looked at 6-7 cM matches who have an identified common ancestors. Going thru that list, I again observed quite a few small trees showing up as having a common ancestor.
Since I have done a lot of descendancy research, I’m guessing that all of that research is helping Ancestry’s computers to make these ‘common ancestor’ links between these small trees and my larger tree.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical report to ‘grade’ me on my research of descendants. However, seeing these DNA matches with small trees showing up with common ancestor connections is enough validation for me.
Thus, I will continue to work on my descendancy research — after I get done marking my 6-7 cM matches that appear to have a known connection.
For more information on how to do descendancy research, check out Crista Cowan’s video: What Is Descendancy Research.
Recently Jason Lee posted a Facebook poll asking whether readers agree or disagree with the statement, “All ThruLines errors are because of errors in trees.” As of today, 802 people agree with that statement, while I am in the minority of 120 people disagreeing.
The reason, I disagree with the statement is that the ThruLines for my 2nd great grandfather, James Crawford. This ThruLines suggests that William Monroe as a child of James Crawford based on a DNA match with a known 3rd cousin once removed.
Even though this match has a very small tree, she has enough in her tree that our trees should connect. Eugene Beggs, son of Walter Beggs and Ethel Anita Lighter is in both of our trees. My match’s tree includes Eugene Beggs’ father, Walter, but not his mother, Ethel Lighter.
Thus, our common ancestors are Washington Marion Crawford and his wife, Mary Foster. Not only is ThruLines suggesting an incorrect connection on the Crawford line but also on the Foster line. This time, it is suggesting Margaret E. Jordan as a daughter of Zebulon Foster.
In hopes of getting the algorithm to correct these ThruLines, I added this cousin to my tree several months ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t observed any change in the ThruLines. Not only do I have Eugene Beggs and his link to Washington Marion Crawford and Mary Foster in my tree, I have also researched these families and attached sources.
I keep hoping that the computer algorithm for ThruLines will discover this connection and show the correct way our lines connect.
Although I haven’t researched all of the suggested connections thru ThruLines, I haven’t found other errors. For the most part, I have been able to document the suggested connections. Because the ThruLines tool helps me see connections between myself and my DNA matches, I appreciate the information provided. However, I wish there was a way to report this ThruLines error to Ancestry. Unfortunately, I haven’t found such ability.
Is organization one of your 2020 goals? If so, have you been following the tips in The Genealogy Guys Blog? Today’s post, ‘Organizing Your Online Trees,’ is a challenge for me.
It is a challenge since I never considered having to ‘keep them up to date.’
For years, I have shared my work with others either thru a website, thru my Ancestry tree or thru a gedcom file. Since having my DNA tested, I have used gedcom files to share my tree with the various sites where my DNA data has been uploaded.
Thanks to hosting site and software changes, some of my early attempts at sharing are no longer easily accessed. This would include my original website hosted on GeoCities. About the time GeoCities was being discontinued, I had transitioned to using The Master Genealogist for my genealogy research. Thus, I was able to take advantage of John Cardinal’s software, Second Site and his hosting service to continue sharing my work online.
When support for The Master Genealogist was discontinued, I converted my data to RootsMagic. One of the ‘selling’ points for RootsMagic was the ability to publish my data online. Thus, I switched my online file from Second Site to RootsMagic’s.
Since the release of RootsMagic’s TreeShare, I have had my RootsMagic data connected to my Ancestry Tree. I’ve also been taking advantage of the ability to connect individuals in my RM data to Family Search.
Have you seen it? Ancestry recently released an improvement to their ‘Member Search’.
I played around with it a little yesterday, and this feature has a lot of potential. However, I think a better understanding of how the search works is needed before I can use it effectively.
To access the ‘Member Search’ feature, pull down the SEARCH menu on Ancestry’s screen.
Click on MEMBER SEARCH at the bottom of that menu. The Member Search screen will open with the default search for a member by their name or user ID.
In the past, one had to pretty much know the exact name or user id in order to locate that user. This is one of the areas that has been improved. Instead of needed to know the exact name, one can search for part of their name.
While experimenting with this expanded search feature, I discovered what I believe to be a clue to a DNA match in the list of results. As part of the icon for the user, there is a small symbol for DNA on the bottom right of the circle.
I also discovered that when searching for a user by their surname, the results can be very numerous. For the following illustrations, I searched for users with a surname that I am researching to help protect the privacy of Ancestry users.
A search for CRAWFORD produced too many results – 9, 839 of them!
I then searched for BRILES. Since most BRILES families descend from Conrad Broil of North Carolina, I was hoping this would be an easy way to identify those researchers.
Not only did this pick up the Briles, but it picked up what appears to be SOUNDEX variations of the name. In addition, it pulled users with a first name of Brilee. A search for the Wells surname pulled up names that contained ‘well’ such as Honeywell. The search for a member by name is an improvement over the older functionality. However, it could be improved by using fields (first name, last name, userID) along with exactness choices (exact, soundex, …) Besides the broadened capability to search for a member, there is a new feature: the ability to search for a member by research interest. Getting to this feature is a little hidden. Note the ‘down carrot’ to the right of ‘Find a Specific Member’. That indicates there is ‘more’. Click on ‘Find a Specific Member’ to reveal the other option.
A box containing additional information is revealed. Unfortunately, it is NOT obvious that there is a second option. The faint line dividing the box into 2 parts is the only clue. Click on the bottom half of the box to get to the screen to ‘Find Members by Research Interest’.
This screen looks promising. When I first heard about this capability, I thought, ‘GREAT! now I can find others researching members of my FAN club.’
So, I started searching. My first search was for CRAWFORD in Preble County, Ohio. I quickly discovered that the YEAR info would not accept a range of dates. Since I didn’t know exactly which date to use, I opted to not put anything in the year field. There are two distinct CRAWFORD families living in Preble County Ohio. I know of at least three other Ancestry users who are actively researching one of these lines. Thus, I expected at least three results — and I got zero!
I then tried a search for CRAWFORD in Warren County, Indiana. Since both families had descendants move from Preble County, Ohio to Warren County, Indiana, I expected at least the three results. Again, I got ZERO results.
Not one to give up, I decided to try CRAWFORD in Ford County, Kansas. Again, both families had CRAWFORD descendants in Ford County. Since my line was in Ford County from about 1884 to the 1970s, I expected the results to include my cousins who not only have had their DNA tested, but also have trees on Ancestry showing their Ford County Crawford connection. Again, the results were ZERO.
So, the BIG question is where is the data being pulled from for this aspect of the Member Search since it does not appear to be pulling from member trees. My theory is that this search feature is pulling from the ‘Research Interest’ section on our profile pages. Based on that theory, I added several ‘CRAWFORD’ interests to our list of 14 Research Interests yesterday.
Thus, I turned to my ‘free’ account to test this theory. If my theory is correct, then the ‘Find Members by Research Interest’ search from my free account should pull up my paid account.
However, when I performed a search from my free account for Crawford in Ford County, Kansas, I got ZERO.
Thinking that there might be a ‘lag’ in the indexing of my changes, I then tried to search for one of the listings in ‘Research Interests’ that was there before yesterday on my paid account, userid: philbrick.
When I searched for Griffith in Kansas from the free Ancestry account, I got 2 results – neither of which was our Ancestry account.
When I looked at the first profile, Griffith was listed but there was no mention of a place.
When I looked at the second profile, Griffith was listed for Grand Rapids. Again, Kansas did not appear in the list of ‘Research Interests’
When I searched for Griffith, the ‘philbrick’ profile did come up in the first 50 hits. I tried a similar search for Jerby. When I searched for Jerby in Kansas, there were ZERO results. When I searched for Jerby, the only profile that came up was our ‘philbrick’ profile. I then tried a search from my free account for a surname that is listed in our profile but not listed in the ‘Research Interests’: Minnick. There were 80 results. None of those results were our ‘philbrick’ account. I spot checked several of the results and they had ‘Minnick’ listed in their ‘Research Interests’ Conclusions:
It appears that the ‘Member Search Results’ for the ‘Find Members by Research Interest’ is pulling from the information in the ‘Research Interests’ section of a members’ profile.
However, it also appears that there is an indexing lag of at least 24 hours and likely more.
It does NOT appear that this search pulls from the ABOUT YOU section of a member profile.
It does NOT appear that this search uses any information from a tree for these results.
There is a designation for DNA matches in the list of results from these searches.
Thus, I need to do a whole lot more editing of my Research Interests if I wish to be found thru this search method and hope that the indexing catches up.