DNA Story

When I first had my DNA tested, much of the commercial emphasis was on ethnicity. You might even remember the Ancestry commercial where Kyle traded in his lederhosen for a kilt.

Contrary to that focus, I was more interested in connecting with cousins to help verify some of my research and to help break down some brick walls. Since most of my lines are colonial American, I have over 200 years to document before making a connection to my immigrant ancestors and to my ethnicity.

Thus, when ancestry developed their communities, I started paying attention. Although those communities supported my paper research, they were just additional information and not proof for a lineage.

After reading Ellen Thompson-Jennings recent post, Do You Have New AncestryDNA Communities? I got curious to see if I did have any new ones. When I looked at my DNA story, I had a new group, but I also believe that I have groups that disappeared.

In looking back thru my blog at my DNA articles, I did not find any post documenting my communities. I found a few posts that made reference to either the community or my ethnicity.

So, when I opened up my DNA results today, I was informed that I had a new community.

A look at the map of my communities, it shows two communities: the ORANGE area for Early Connecticut & New York Settlers and the BLUE area for Lower Midwest and Virginia settlers.

Since I have no idea what communities I had before, I feel like I need to start documenting the DNA story for the tests I manage. Besides my own DNA (shown above), I manage DNA kits for my two brothers and for my mother. Below are their DNA communities as identified in February 2021.

Brother 1 – DNA Communities – Feb. 2021
Brother 2 – DNA Communities – Feb 2021
Mom – DNA Communities – Feb 2021

My ancestors were in all of these communities. With the exception of the Michigan community, my dad’s side of the tree would have been found in these same communities. In looking thru my tree and their migration path from the coast to Kansas, there is only one family line that does not fit these communities.

That family line is my BRILES line on my mom’s side of the tree. My ancestor, Alexander Briles, brought his family to Kansas from Randolph County, North Carolina prior to the civil war. The BRILES line is in Randolph County for several generations prior to that. Alexander’s great-grandfather, Conrad Broil. Conrad Broil, and his parents, Johannes Broyles and Ursula Ruop, arrived in Virginia in 1727 as members of the second Germanna colony. Based on this line, one would expect a community originating in Virginia and branching out to North Carolina and Tennessee.

My loyalist Harding line was in New York. However, these communities do not indicate that this line went from New York to New Brunswick for about 70 years. From New Brunswick, my branch of the line migrated to Wisconsin and then to Iowa.

Although our ethnicity estimates aren’t very helpful in this point of my research, I am going to document them here for future reference. Below are the estimates for February 2021 for all four tests.

Brother 1Brother 2MeMom
England & NW Europe49%41%54%47%
Scotland35%38%31%23%
Germanic Europe6%27%
Ireland4%3%
Spain2%
Wales2%12%2%
Norway2%5%3%
Sweden8%

Hopefully some day this type of DNA information will help identify targeted research areas. For now, it is just maps and numbers. How about your communities and ethnicity data? Is it helpful to your genealogical research?

Posted in DNA

ThruLines Mystery

When I collected the data for my ThruLines Summary post, I noticed an irregularity in the number of matches for Orinda Miles. My ancestor, Phillip Mentzer, has 21 ThruLInes.

Since I am unaware of a second marriage, I expect 21 DNA matches for both Phillip and Orinda Miles. However, I only have THREE matches for Orinda Miles.

When I compiled the data, I colored the text for Orinda’s results in RED so that I would remember this discrepency.

Thinking I had somehow recorded the wrong wife for Phillip Mentzer, I decided to compare my tree with the trees of my DNA matches for Phillip Mentzer. Most of those trees also list Orinda Miles as the wife of Phillip Mentzer. Curious, I looked at the ThruLines for Orinda’s father, Oliver Miles.

That’s when I discovered that I have an additional 15 DNA matches for Orinda Miles, but they are listed as a separate child from my Orinda Miles lines.

Since some records spell her name as Orenda or Orindia, I have added Alternate Names in hopes that I can ‘force’ the ThruLines computers to merge these two Orinda Miles.

DNA Stats

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.

After seeing Randy Seaver’s post, Randy’s Autosomal DNA Test and Analysis Summary – 29 Dec 2020, I decided to compile my own DNA statistics.

ANCESTRY DNA

MeBrother 1Brother 2Parent
Total Matches110,981125,144115,18274,618
Immediate Family3333
1st Cousins (As defined by Ancestry)1114
2nd Cousins (as defined by Ancestry)4839
3rd cousins3340936
4th cousin sharing 64 cM or more1113713
Close Matches – at least 20 cM3701464139142709
Distant Matches 6-20 cM107,280120,503111,26871.909
Distant Relative group (6-8 cM)67072743746840544670

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.

MeBrother 1Brother 2parent
1/2 ThruLines thru 4th Great Grandparents10651013926787

MY HERITAGE

MeBrother 1Brother 2
Matches14,72510,74610,281
Theory of Relativity283031
Smart Matches354

GEDMATCH

MeBrother 1Brother 2Parent
64 cM or closer12131117
34 cM or more959170127

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.

ThruLines Summary

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.

Great-Grandparents

AncestorMCDCTCRC
Judson Crawford888
Josie Hammond888
Hiram Currey333
Winnie Hutchinson333
Edward Briles8888
Frances Ricketts8888
Charles Mentzer9999
Nettie Wells9999

2nd Great Grandparents

AncestorMCDCTCRC
Washington Crawford111211
Mary Foster111211
Richmond Hammond101010
Sarah Ralston999
Hiram Currey878
Angelina Burke878
Albert Hutchinson252222
Julia Harding252222
Noah Briles10101010
Sarah Thompson10101010
James Ricketts9999
Rachel Christy9999
George Mentzer14141314
Emeline Minnick14141314
Thurston Wells16141516
Salome Crandall13131213

3rd Great Grandparents

AncestorMCDCTCRC
Nelson Crawford121511
Martha Smith121511
Zebulon Foster151919
Caroline Ostrander151919
Horatio Hammond202827
Louisa Fisk202827
James Ralston303430
Nancy McCormick293329
Hiram Currey17718
Rachel Harris17718
Henry Burke878
Elizabeth Bland878
Aaron Hutchinson242121
Sarah Merry252222
William Harding514056
Elizabeth Fowler493753
Alexander Briles18191721
Sarah Rush19212023
William Thompson10131112
Polly Evans10131112
John Ricketts11111012
Orilda Reed11111012
Samuel Christy16161420
Lyda Gallmore12141114
Phillip Mentzer21262225
Orinda Miles3333
John Minnick16151417
Elizabeth Jones16151417
Ozias Wells26212333
Mary Kennedy26212333
Lewis Crandall16161216
Almira Nafus16161216

4th Great Grandparents

AncestorMCDCTCRC
James Crawford252418
Sarah Smith272921
_____Smith121511
Hannah _____121511
Richard Foster434845
Rachel Browning434845
Edward Ostrander303125
Margaret _____303125
Jason Hammond273438
Rachel Hale273438
Jonathan Fisk252627
Mary Arnold13712
David Ralston464739
Hannah Barr464739
James McCormick444
Sarah Hall283126
Hiram Currey211425
Sarah Reagan211328
Peter Harris16617
Rachel VanArsdale16617
John Burk454233
Elizabeth Graves514737
Eli Bland9129
Sarah Anderson9129
Aaron Hutchinson211919
Hannah Nettleton211919
Whiting Merry222020
Elizabeth Peabody222020
William Harding664876
Elizabeth Flewelling664776
Thomas Fowler453750
_____ _____453448
John Briles15012057200
Nancy Beckerdite14712057196
Noah Rush8210284112
Sarah Clark8210184111
John Thompson13222539
Sarah Iglehart13222539
James Evans14202632
Sarah Garret14202430
Edward Ricketts109810
Sarah Story109810
John Reed39272442
Mary Buckles59473766
Ebenezer Christy29282941
Rachel _____29282941
Isom Gallimore70664697
Judith Bentley69664696
Phillip Mentzer18221821
Isabella Motes18221821
Oliver MIles24232226
Sarah Joslin24232228
_____ Minick5345
Esther Schiedel18151516
Henry Jones17162124
Catherine Bovey17162124
Green Wells33292737
Abigail White33292737
John Kennedy26242335
Anna _____75710
Hampton Crandall34343234
Freelove Butler34343234
William Nafus30301432
Salome Carpenter28271328

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.

A Different View

Are you overwhelmed with DNA data? Have you ever tried looking at the data in a different way to see what you can learn from it?

The Leeds method of looking at DNA matches is often used for this purpose. Today, I read the blog post, 7-gen-1-sheet, by Ann Raymont. In this post, the author explains how to set up a spreadsheet to display 7 generations of ancestors. Once the spreadsheet is created, color coding can be used to identify patterns such as European roots, lineage society lines or whether a specific source has been used.

Intrigued by how this spreadsheet could be used, I decided to create the page of ancestors. As I was creating the spreadsheet, I decided to use it to look at my ThruLines data. Since I’ve tested myself, my two brothers and my mother, I have four sets of ThruLines. Even though I’ve looked thru this data for each match, I’ve never compared the results.

By adding columns for each of my DNA tests, I was able to record the number of matches for each ancestor from the 4 DNA tests.

Having this data all in one place will help me evaluate my tree in relation to my DNA results. For example, does it indicate an error in my tree if I only have a few matches for that ancestor? Having this data side by side has also allowed me to see that even though I might only have a few matches with descendants of a particular ancestor, my brothers or mother could have quite a few more matches. In those cases, the probability that my tree is accurate increases when I look at all four tests versus looking at just my results.

Now that I have 9 generations of ancestors on my spreadsheet, there are several other ways that I hope to utilize this sheet.

  • Color code states of residence in 1850
  • Color code ancestors whom I have found an obituary
  • Color code ancestors whom I have a Find a Grave source for
  • Color code potential DAR ancestor lines

Thank you Ann Raymont for sharing your 7-gen-1-sheet method of looking at our ancestors.

Tangled Web

A Sellers DNA Mystery

If you search your DNA matches for a member of your genealogy FAN (family, associates, neighbors) do come up with results? Do you ever scratch your head trying to figure out how they fit in your tree?

I’m sure scratching my head trying to figure out the over 300 DNA matches to my brother who have SELLERS in their tree. (Note the number goes higher if I click on ‘Include Similar Surnames’.)

I do have Sellers in my database. I have a whole lot of them in my database. Since the Sellers family is part of my Lincoln County, Kentucky FAN club, I have tracked the descendants of Nathaniel Sellers (1720-1795) for several generations.

Two of his sons, James and William, married into the Crawford family in Lincoln County, KY. The marriage records for these Crawford sisters, Mary and Sarah, suggest a relationship with the widow, Rebekah Crawford. Rebekah is also thought to be the mother of the James Crawford that married Martha Knight in Lincoln County, KY.

Based on the research of Rebekah and Mary, Sarah and James, the working theory is that Mary and Sarah are sisters to James Crawford (1770-1833). This is NOT my Crawford line. My Crawford line goes thru my father to James Crawford (1772-1854).

Thus, the mystery: Why do I have so many SELLERS DNA matches?

The search of my brother’s matches for Sellers yields one explanation: I need to look for the SELLERS surname on both sides of my tree.

Looking at the matches with a common ancestor, it appears that I may need to look for the SELLERS surname as ancestors of the following:

  • 4th great grandparents: John Reed (1800-1864) and Mary Buckles (1792-1867) on my mother’s side of the tree
  • 5th great grandmother: Mary Wright on my mother’s side of the tree
  • 5th great grandparents: Jacob Iglehart (1774-1856) and Ann Beall (1777-?)on my mother’s side of the tree
  • 5th great grandparents: Jeremiah Browning (1744-1834)and Cassandra Foster (1767-1830) on my father’s side of the tree
  • 4th great grandmother: Sarah Smith (1770-1856) on my father’s CRAWFORD line

If I go to my set of DNA matches and do the same search for the SELLERS surname, I come up with even more confusing information. I match descendants of James and Mary (Crawford) Sellers and his brother / her sister William and Sarah (Crawford) Sellers.

Not only do these Sellers/Crawford matches appear, but they have quite a few shared matches.

Thus, all of the confusion: lots of Sellers matches with possible connections to BOTH sides of my tree. I’d love to connect with other SELLERS researchers to try and figure out how all of these matches connect.

Dear Crawford Cousins

We finally have DNA evidence of a relationship between our James Crawford (md Sally Smith Duggins) and his neighbor, James Crawford (md. Martha Knight). In addition, we have evidence of a DNA relationship with the James Crawford who owned land on Paint Lick Creek in Kentucky.

However, this DNA evidence does not tell us HOW we are related. It might also be telling us that we are not as closely related as we thought.

Below is a diagram of what the yDNA tree probably looks like.

The bright yellow boxes represent the ancestors of other yDNA testers. The light orange box represents the yDNA tester of my line. This diagram supports an uncle/nephew relationship between the James of Paint Lick area and the James that married Martha Knight. Even though a will for John Crawford has been found that identifies his wife as Rebekah and names sons James and Nathan, documentation has not been found to help prove that the family in Kentucky is the same family named in the Virginia will.

For a time, it was believed that our James (md Sally Duggins) was also a nephew of the James Crawford that married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell thru James’ brother, Andrew. However, the yDNA information does not support that close of a relationship. Thus, Andrew is no longer considered a potential ancestor.

Since we are all in the same yDNA haplogroup, we are related. However, it appears that our James (md Sally Duggins) is possibly a cousin to the James Crawford that married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell.

More research both with DNA and with records needs to be done to prove these relationships and to identify that elusive common ancestor. Thus, your help is needed.

  • If on Facebook, please consider joining the conversation by joining the group: Clan Crawford Association Ancestry & DNA Research Forum
  • If my previous posts and Ancestry tree caused you to add Andrew Crawford as the father of James Crawford (1772-1854), please remove Andrew as the father of James at least for now. This will hopefully help Ancestry ThruLines search for someone besides Andrew as a potential father.
  • If you have tested your DNA with Ancestry, please look for matches that have the Crawford surname who were born in Preble County, Ohio or Garrard County, Kentucky. These matches are likely related on our Crawford tree somehow.
  • If you have tested your DNA with Ancestry, please look for matches that have the SELLERS surname. There are two SELLERS marriages in Lincoln County Kentucky to CRAWFORDs. These Crawford women are likely sisters to James Crawford (1770-1833). Even though my Crawford line has no known Sellers ancestor, I have lots of Sellers DNA matches. Thus, these Sellers matches might be a key to figuring out our Crawford relationships.
  • Please help by poking holes in my research or making suggestions for further research.
  • Since we should protect the privacy of our DNA matches, we should not publicly share the name of our matches or shared matches. Instead, please invite them to join this conversation.
  • If you are willing to be part of a collaborative group to further research these Crawford families, please leave a comment on this post or message me on Facebook (Marcia Crawford Philbrick).

Below are some links to these various families on FamilySearch

The ‘Collaborate’ menu allows one to add a discussion to an individual on FamilySearch. This is a way to ask questions or make suggestions for individuals on the FamilySearch tree.

Below are links to these same people in my Ancestry tree.

The comment feature on Ancestry should allow anyone to leave a comment on my tree. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how I would figure out that you had left a comment. If you wish to leave a comment on my tree, please do so, but please also notify me somehow so that I can read your comment.

Please help us take advantage of all of this DNA information by asking to join the Crawford Facebook group and by collaborating on this research. Together, let’s figure out who those question marks at the top of he chart represent!

DNA JOY!

My mind is ‘jumping up and down’ with joy this morning. Another CRAWFORD researcher contacted me this morning to let me know he had found out his haplogroup: R-Y88686. That is the SAME haplogroup as my brother.

We FINALLY have some evidence that we are related!

We both descend from James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio. His James Crawford was born in 1770 in Augusta County, Virginia and died in 1833 in Warren County, Indiana. My James was born in 1772 in Virginia and died in 1854 in Preble County, Ohio.

Both men were living in Kentucky prior to 1800. His James married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. My James married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky. (Garrard County was formed in 1797 from Lincoln and Madison counties.)

In 1811, his James filed land entry papers showing he had made the final payment for the SW 1/4 of Section 14, Township 7 Range 2 East in Preble County, Ohio. In 1816, my James filed similar land entry papers showing he had made the final payment for the NW 1/4 of Section 14, Township 7, Range 2 East in Preble County, Ohio. Yes, they owned adjoining land.

These two families appear to have migrated together for over 100 years. Thus, we have long suspected a relationship.

Not only has our yDNA tests shown us that we need to keep looking for that relationship, but it has added a third James Crawford to the mix. This James was also in Garrard County prior to 1800. James was born in Augusta County, Virginia in 1758 and died in Jefferson County, Indiana in 1836. In 1779, this James Crawford married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell in Montgomery County, Virginia.

So that’s three members of our haplogroup:

  • three James Crawfords
  • all in Garrard County, Kentucky prior to 1800
  • all born in Virginia – likely in early Augusta County, Virginia
  • no father/son relationship between any of the three James Crawfords

The fourth member of our haplogroup descends from William Nelson Crawford. William was born in 1829 in Ohio. Little information about William has been found prior to his marriage to Julia Ann Decious in 1864 in Lassen, California. By 1877, William and Julia were living in Klickitat County, Washington. William died in Klickitat County in 1907.

This William Crawford may have been the 21 year old William Crawford listed in the household of William Crawford (son of James and Martha Crawford) on the 1850 census in Pike Township, Warren County, Indiana.

If so, that would place William Nelson Crawford in Warren County, Indiana along with James and Martha Crawford and their children and with my ancestor Nelson G. Crawford, son of James and Sally Crawford.

This new haplogroup information says these four families are related. We just need to do more digging to figure out how!

Alternate Names

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:

  • VanArsdale
  • Van Arsdale
  • Van Arsdalen
  • Vanarsdall
  • Vannarsdall
  • Van Artsdalen
  • Van Osdol
  • Vanosdol

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
  • Hiram Currey – Leavenworth – 1835-1901 —– 7 matches
  • Hiram Currey – Peoria – 1787 – ? —– 16 matches
  • HIram Currey – Ohio –? – ? —– 22 matches
  • Thomas Currey — Ohio — ? – ? —– 16 matches

I will add the ‘CURRY’ alternate name for each ancestor and their children. Then I will re-check my numbers in a few days. Hopefully, I will see the number of matches increase!