Where’s My Irish?

Are you Irish? Do you have any Irish ancestors in your tree? Although I haven’t proven a connection to Ireland, I have a few lines that hint at originating in Ireland.

However, when I look at my recent ethnicity on the DNA tests I manage, the Irish is hard to find.


Brother #1

Brother #2

And – finally some Irish in my mother’s test.

Even though I think I might have Irish roots on both sides of my tree, those roots are at least 6 or 7 generations back. Thus, it is understandable that finding IRISH in my DNA would be difficult.

How about you? Can you find your Irish?

Common Ancestors

Have you identified common ancestors for your DNA matches? If so, do you know how many of your DNA matches have a common ancestor identified? My answers to these questions is YES, I’ve tried to document them, but NO I had no idea how many of my matches have a common ancestor identified.

That is until a magical spreadsheet was shared by Chris Ferraiolo in the WikiTree Members Group.

I knew that I could select all and copy my match list. However, when I paste that information into Excel, it puts each piece of data on a new line instead of creating a row of data for each match.

That’s where the ‘magic’ of George Clarke’s spreadsheet comes in. I simply paste my copied info into one cell of his spreadsheet and it transforms all of that data into rows — one row of data per match.

I then copied these rows of data into my own spreadsheet. This allows me to save this list of matches outside of Ancestry. The one drawback to this process is getting to the end of your match list. Pressing the page down key is the fastest way to get there. However, it can take quite some time to reach the end. Thus, I elected to only do this with those matches with an identified common ancestor.

Once in the spreadsheet, I can determine how many common ancestors each of the tests I manage have.

  • Test 1 – 1578 common ancestor matches
  • Test 2 – 1504 common ancestor matches
  • Test 3 – 1505 common ancestor matches
  • Test 4 – 1775 common ancestor matches

Thank you Chris Ferraiolo for creating and sharing this tool!

RM8 Documenting DNA

Have you had your DNA tested? If so, have you tried to document your matches in your genealogy software? Do you look at a match as ‘proof’ of a relationship or as ‘supporting evidence’.

Since I had my tree documented back 6 or more generations when I had my DNA tested, I’m not using DNA as ‘proof’ but as supporting evidence. I don’t need to prove a relationship to my parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. Instead, I look to DNA to help validate a lineage back to my 4th great grandparents or further. I’m not really interested in documenting segment data but in documenting the lineage.

Thus I want to document how I connect to my matches with known common ancestors. I use Ancestry’s ThruLines to help me with this. Since the accuracy of ThruLines is dependent on user trees, I research the descendants of my ancestors. Because I have a lot of descendants in my tree, ThruLines is not as dependent on my match’s tree.

To use DNA as supporting evidence, I need to get this ‘evidence’ into my genealogy software, RootsMagic. To do this, I created my own fact that I named DNAThruLines. Because the identity of my matches needs to be kept private, I do not include this fact on any report.

When I add my DNAThruLines fact, I fill in the SORT DATE with the date I’m working with the fact. I also make sure this fact is marked PRIVATE. Then I start adding sources, one source for each match. My SOURCE was created from a copy of the built-in Genetic Databases (online) template.

When I add this source, there are 3 fields that I enter into the citation: access type, date viewed and item of interest. I put my match’s Ancestry name in the Item of Interest field.

Once the citation is entered, I go to the RESEARCH NOTE and enter additional information.

  • lineage from common ancestor down to match
  • relationship
  • statistics for each Ancestry test with this match: number of shared cM and segments

A research note for a descendant of Horatio Hammond might look as follows:

Horatio Hammond –> Jehiel P. Hammond –> Carrie L. Hammond –> Orion C. Watson –> George W. Watson –> Private XXXXX –> XXXXX
4th cousin 1x removed
XXXXX shares 34 cM across 3 segments with MC
XXXXX shares 51 cM across 4 segments with TC
XXXXX shares 15 cM across 2 segments with DC

Once I have the source and citation completed, I follow the lineage down, creating a DNAThruLines fact and pasting the source. I repeat this process until I have this information entered for each person in the lineage.

As I was working thru the development of this process, I realized that I did not want to have to enter this information more than once. For example, I did not want to have to enter the information for a great-grandfather and then re-enter the information for his wife, my great-grandmother. I also didn’t want to have to reenter the information for my great-grandfather’s parents, grandparents, etc. To avoid this need for duplicate entries, I am sharing the DNA fact.

For example, the DNAThruLines fact for my great-grandfather, Judson Crawford, is shared with his wife, Josie Hammond, and his known ancestors.

As I work with these ThruLines matches, I have to be cognizant of multiple marriages. For example, my 2nd great grandfather, Thurston Kennedy Wells had a marriage prior to marrying my 2nd great grandmother, Salome Crandall. I have matches thru a child from Thurston’s first marriage. For this situation, Thurston has two DNAThruLines facts: one for his first wife (HALL) and one for his second wife (CRANDALL). I have used the Description field to help differentiate the two facts in his timeline.

The HALL DNAThruLine fact will not be shared with anyone else in my tree. However, the CRANDALL fact is currently shared with Salome Crandall and needs to be shared with their ancestors.

As I am continually learning to use the features of RootsMagic, I have learned of a feature that I need to incorporate into my DNA documentation methods. That is the use of the {} to keep my research notes private. The RootsMagic blog post, Tip: Keep Private Notes Private details the use of these {} brackets. Thus, I need to go back and add these {} brackets to my research notes. Thanks to the way RootsMagic 8 handles citations, modifying these research notes will be easier since I can modify one use of a citation and it will be copied down to all other uses of that citation.

I’m slowly working my way thru my DNA ThruLines to get these connections documented.

Harding ThruLines

Are you a fan of Ancestry’s ThruLines or a naysayer? Since I believe ThruLines can be a valuable tool, I’m willing to research descendants of my ancestors and to make corrections in my tree when my additional research identifies issues.

As I’m currently researching the descendants of William G. Harding (1803-1865), I’m struggling with his son Abel Harding (1833-1906) and his descendants. At this point, I have identified the children of Abel Harding and Cynthia Gertrude Edwards as follows:

  • Edna Harding (1866-1930) – md William C. Allen
  • Lettie Mae Harding (1867-1934) – md Edwin B. Hawley
  • Clara Jean Harding (1872-1943) – md Frank Merril in 1890 in Pipestone, MN
  • Nina Belle Harding (1876-1964) – md Albert Halverson in 1894 in Yellow Medicine, MN
  • Grace Elizabeth Harding (1880-1906) – md Edward Quenell in 1901 in Rulo, NE
  • Lola Harding (1883-1971) – md John Beauchemin in Rulo, NE
  • James Earl Harding (1885-1947) – md Anna Ewald in Anacortes, WA
  • Martha Gertrude Harding (1888-1931) – md Leslie H Corbett

Hoping that I have this family correct, I decided to check my ThruLines for William G. Harding that go thru Abel to see if I have DNA data to support the family. Since my brothers also tested, I have three sets of ThruLines.

My ThruLines
DC ThruLines
LivingT ThruLines

At first glance, I have matches thru the 7 daughters. As an additional test, I analyzed each of these matches and compared the shared CMs for the matches with the expected results from the Shared CM project.

Looking at this data, it may support the following daughters: Edna, Lettie Mae and Martha G. Because quite a few of these matches share a very low number of cM, I can’t use this data as ‘PROOF’ that I have the family correct.

Even though this doesn’t ‘prove’ the family, it also doesn’t disprove any of the family. Thus, I need to do more digging to try and locate additional information for this family.

Deeply American

Did you test your DNA at Ancestry? If so, have you checked the newly updated ethnicity results? For some, these results might provide clues for further research.

For me, they are basically useless. When others have asked me about my ethnicity, I sometimes jokingly reply that I’m American. When asked for clarification, I explain that my family has been in what becomes the United States for a very long time. I often also stated that I didn’t know most of my immigrant ancestors. Prior to today, I could identify three likely immigrant ancestors.

  • David Ralston – immigrated in 1803
  • Phillip Andre Mentzer — immigrated prior to1800
  • Conrad Broils – immigrated in 1717

If asked where my ancestors were from, I often responded with Kentucky. Kentucky is where several of my brick walls end. If pushed to identify countries, I would have responded, England, Scotland, possibly Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia. Since I hadn’t actually identified my immigrant ancestors, I was just guessing. To eliminate some of this guesswork, I decided to try and identify my immigrant ancestors.

To do this, I used the ability of RootsMagic to interface with the FamilySearch tree. Using the FamilySearch tree as a guide, I added ancestors starting about generation 9 and working back to the immigrant ancestor. Since I use color coding in my tree to identify various lines, I decided to color code my immigrants with the color teal. Most of these immigrant ancestors are in generations 12 thru generation 16.

I realize that I have a LOT of research ahead of me to add sourcing for all of the ancestors I just added to my tree. However, the process has helped me learn a lot about my tree.

  • Many of my lines trace back to Middlesex county, Massachusetts
  • I have quite a few ancestors going back to New Amsterdam

Unfortunately, the Ahnentafel that I had hoped to share is over 50 pages long and thus way too long to share in a blog post. Even though I likely will never print that report, my work to identify these potential ancestors will help me as I continue researching my family history.

Using the Ahnentafel, I decided to count the countries of origin for my immigrant ancestors. Although prone to error, this tally does show that my ethnicity should be predominantly English.

GenerationCountry# from Country

The tally continues thru generations 13, 14 and 15 with over 100 more immigrant ancestors from England. Thus it makes sense when my ‘DNA STORY’ on Ancestry indicates a large percentage for English ethnicity.

My brother’s DNA stories:

My mother’s DNA story is a little different. The large block of German DNA would be her father’s line that does go back to Germany.

At this point, I can’t explain the Swedish DNA. However, there are several lines, including my Thompson line, that are stuck in (you guessed it) Kentucky.

Even though my ahnentafel and my DNA story indicate that I have deep English roots, I still contend that I have a deeply American tree.

DNA Stats

Have you tested your DNA? If so, do you keep track of the quantity of matches you have? I have to admit that I don’t pay a lot of attention to how many matches I have, especially since I can’t even keep up with those matches who share a common ancestor.

However, my recent Feedly content is prompting me to review those numbers.

I last looked at my number of DNA Matches in May of 2021.

Today, I’m going to follow Roberta Estes’ directions to see how many matches I have. Since I haven’t done autosomal testing with most of these companies, my results are based on my transferring my Ancestry DNA results to the various other companies.


Since my brother agreed to do a yDNA test, his account is our primary account on FamilyTreeDNA. Besides his yDNA test, I uploaded his Ancestry results to his account.

FamilyTree DNA – Brother 1

My account on FamilyTreeDNA shows that I have 7506 matches while my other brother has 6672 autosomal matches.


On MyHeritage, I have 16,218 DNA matches.

To see the number of matches for my brothers, I had to use the DNA menu to select ‘MANAGE DNA KITS’.

This opened the list of tests I manage on MyHeritage. To the right of each test is a series of 3 vertical dots. Clicking on those dots opens a menu allowing me to select ‘VIEW DNA MATCHES’ for that test.

Looking at my two brothers, brother 1 had 11,921 DNA matches while brother 2 has 11, 356 DNA matches


Of course, my Ancestry numbers don’t show! I’ve experienced this before and believe I have to clear the cache on my browser.

Ancestry- No Numbers

So, instead of clearing my cache, I tried a different browser. And my numbers show.

Me – Ancestry

But they didn’t show for my brothers. So, I cleared my cache and cookies and then rechecked each time to get their numbers

Brother 1 – Ancestry
Brother 2 Ancestry
Mom – Ancestry


MeBrother 1Brother 2Mom
FamilyTree DNA705175066672
Ancestry Total11619913106312048578163
Ancestry Close Matches3981499642202952
New close matches since 5/1/202112015613799
Ancestry 68 cm to 2000 cM47585061

Posted in DNA

ThruLines Analysis

Have you tested your DNA with Ancestry? If so, do you have a tree with at least a few ancestors named? And, are your DNA results attached to someone in your tree? Those are the requirements for Ancestry to begin populating your ancestral ‘ThruLines’.

Basically, ThruLines tries to locate other descendants of your ancestors and show relationships to a common ancestor. These suggested relationships are dependent on the accuracy of your tree as well as the accuracy of your DNA match’s tree.

Without evaluating those relationships, I believe one can use the number of matches an ancestor has to pick up clues about one’s tree. For example, my logic suggests that unless there are only children involved, the number of matches should increase from one generation to the next. I also believe that unless there are multiple marriages involved, the number of matches for the husband should match the number of matches for his wife. Thus, an analysis of the number of matches can raise questions about one’s own tree.

For example, I manage 4 tests on Ancestry. Three of those tests are for siblings. Thus when I see 2 matches for grandparents and 3 matches for great grandparents that suggests an issue.

However,, when I browse thru my matches, I find at least four known second cousins thru my ancestors Hiram Currey and Winnie Hutchinson that either don’t have a tree or have an unlinked tree. Spelling of the surname may also be an issue, since some records spell the surnames as Curry and Hutchison. Thus, I’m not overly concerned about their only being 3 matches for this pair of great grandparents.

These numbers can also reveal matches connecting thru a different spouse. My ancestor, Richmond Hammond had a daughter, Hattie, by his second wife. When I look at the number of ThruLines matches for Richmond Hammond and his first wife Sarah Ralston, they are not the same. Thus, this can be a clue to look for multiple marriages.

Another issue is revealed by comparing the number of matches between generations. For example, my 2nd great grandmother, Angelina Burke has 8 ThruLines matches. If I look at her parents, they also have 8 matches.

Since Angelina was not an only child, I would expect more matches for her parents than for her. Since that isn’t true, then I have to look at ‘why’. One reason might be that no one has tested from her siblings lines. Another reason my be that those descendants have tested but either don’t have a tree attached or have a very small tree that doesn’t have a person in common with my tree. It is also possible that other trees use a different format or spelling for the names of Henry Burke and Elizabeth Bland. Another reason is that my tree might be wrong. Thus, these numbers indicate that I need to do additional work on this particular line.

A telling issue is a very small number of matches for a distant relative. Thus, when I see only 2 matches for James Forbes while his wife, Ann Thomson has 16-19 matches, I know there is an issue.

Since I don’t have much data to support this ancestor, I’m assuming that I have a mistake in my tree.

And then there are the zeroes.

Even though these zeroes are associated with my mom’s 5th great grandparents, they are still a red flag that I likely have something wrong.

Thus, taking the time to record the number of matches for my ancestral ThruLines was worth it.

Below are the numbers for each of the ThruLines matches for the tests I manage:

GedMatch Projects

Have you spit in a test tube to have your DNA analyzed? Have you transferred those results to GedMatch to take advantage of the DNA analysis tools they offer? If so, have you checked out their ‘Ancestor Projects’?

As a Germanna Descendant, I joined their recently created project. Running a search of my DNA against other members of a project simply requires the selection of a project to be used and the entering of a kit number.

GedMatch Segment Analysis Screen

Once the submit button is pressed, it is just a matter of waiting for the DNA to be analyzed. It appears that switching away from the browser tab stops this process. To get around this, I simply opened GedMatch in its own Window and did not minimize the window. Once finished, a table appears.

GedMatch Ancestor Projects Results Screen

When it comes to ‘brick walls’, I have several SMITH lines where I’m lacking information. Thus, I joined the ‘A Your Ancestors were Smith and Jones or Brown …’. When I ran a segment analysis for this project, many lines of the report were for shared chromosome segments with my brothers and a parent. To make it easier to work with this data, I downloaded the CSV file and then opened it in Excel. Once open in Excel, I was able to pull out my family data so that the only remaining data was to other Smith, Jones or Brown matches. I then sorted by chromosome. Now, I have a list of matches and need to figure out which branch of my tree they match.

GedMatch ‘Smith Brown or Jones’ Results in Excel

The downloaded data does not contain the ‘tree’ column or the email address. Thus, I will have to refer back to GedMatch to evaluate these relationships so I can then use the given email address to contact the matches.

I also joined the ‘Colonial American Dutch’ project. I recently extended a branch of my tree that led back to several of these Colonial American Dutch families. Since I need more paper documentation to verify this line, I was curious as to whether my DNA results would support this possible lineage. Running a ‘Segment Analysis’ for this project produced over 100 results.

GedMatch Colonial American Dutch Results Screen

Fortunately, many of these matches have a tree associated with their GedMatch data. This will help to figure out our relationship. At this point, I don’t have ‘proof’ of a Colonial American Dutch lineage. However, I have ‘supporting evidence’ that may help me locate additional records to verify this lineage.

Like the ‘Colonial American Dutch’ project, many of the other projects I’ve joined are ‘regional’ projects to help verify that I have ancestry in those early areas of Colonial United States.

Unfortunately, the ‘Smith and Jones or Brown’ project was the only project with my surnames that I found on the list. The administrator of the Crawford yDNA project has attempted to form a Crawford GedMatch project, but hasn’t been able to get the required number of participating kits to create a project.

With the help of these projects, it allows me to view my ‘one to many’ results in smaller, focused batches. Thus, I may be able to figure out one of my SMITH lines or verify Colonial American Dutch ancestry or early colonial ancestry in one or more areas.

If you are like me and would appreciate the ability to see how you match against other GedMatch users with a similar surname, please either become a project administrator or agree to participate when surname project administrators suggest creating a project.

Making Connections

#CousinBait #52Ancestors

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.

DNA Matches


Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:  It’s Saturday Night again – 
Time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!):
1)  Have you done an autosomal DNA test?  If so, which testing company/ies?  

2)  Of your Top 10 DNA matches on any site, how many are a known relative, and are they in your family tree?  No names…but give a known relationship if possible.

I tested with Ancestry and transferred my DNA to GedMatch, MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA. Besides my data, I also manage DNA tests for my mother and my two brothers on Ancestry.

On Ancestry, my test have lots of matches. I have so many matches that it takes forever for the page to completely load. Since Ancestry won’t tell me how many matches I have until the page loads, I don’t have readily available DNA stats. I did take the time to figure this out a couple of weeks ago. Below are those stats.

All Matches113,91276,610118,126128,403
Close Matches3,8612,8534,0834840
Distant Matches110,05173,757114,043123563

Below are the top ten matches (excluding immediate family members) for the four tests that I manage on Ancestry. Note that I am MC in the below table and all relationships are to me. RC is my mother.

Ancestry top matches

Even though I have my DNA on other sites, I have to confess that I haven’t spent a lot of time figuring out the relationships. Of the first page of my matches on MyHeritage, only one is a close relationship, a second cousin. The rest of the matches are distant cousins. Unfortunately, many of those matches either have a very small tree or no tree. Since these are distant cousins, I haven’t taken the time to contact them to begin figuring out our relationship.

MyHeritage Top Matches

Some of my known cousins have transferred their DNA to GedMatch. However, many of my closer matches are not in my tree. Again, the lack of a tree (gedcom) file makes it more difficult for me to figure out the relationship.

This exercise has shown that I have work to do. However, I plan to continue expanding my tree by researching descendants versus trying to figure out how I’m related to all of these matches whose tree is either too small for me to recognize a connection or missing entirely.