Dots Part 2

Have you finished your homework from RootsTech 2023? I know that I haven’t! I’ve been working on homework for Diahan Southard’s presentation about DNA shared matches. With over 124,000 matches and who knows how many ThruLines I have a lot of dots to assign, which is why I’m not finished with my homework. However, I have made some observations.

  • Surnames — Searching DNA match list for a surname does not necessarily mean a biological relationship with that match.
  • Dots — indicate a biological relationship
  • Dots indicate that my colonial tree has places where different ancestral lines cross

For example, my paternal grandfather’s line is Crawford-Foster while my paternal grandmother’s line is Currey-Burke. If I search my DNA list for 3C Crawford Foster and 3C Currey Burke, I get a long list of matches that have dots for both sides.

Some of these matches have the Chenoweth surname in their tree, which I recognize from my FOSTER research. However, these dots indicate that I need to also look for a Chenoweth connection to my Harris or Currey lines.

This need to be open minded about how I connect biologically to a match was reinforced when I found a known Mentzer (mother’s side) 3rd cousin in a shared match list for my Easom Graves ThruLines on my dad’s side of the tree.

Like my Easom Graves ThruLines, there is a suggested line cross on my Osborn Bland ThruLines. While I haven’t proven the descendants, one of the suggested descendants is Mildred L. Briles. The BLAND surname is on my dad’s side of the tree while the BRILES surname is on my mom’s side of the tree. Those with the BRILES surname can usually trace their ancestry back to Conrad Briles of Randolph county, North Carolina.

Ancestry has placed this BLAND shared match on the maternal side of my tree even though it looks like this match should be unassigned.

While my homework is not close to being done, I have concluded that

  • I need to finish applying the dots since they reveal biological connections that I would not recognize otherwise.
  • I need to continue doing my descendancy research.

Thus, I have a LOT of work yet to do!

Posted in DNA

Am I Irish?

Do you live in the United States? If so, do you know where your ancestors lived prior to migrating to the United States? I live in a community where a large portion of the population can trace their ancestry back to Germany. These immigrant ancestors migrated to the U.S. between about 1860 and 1920. While everyone might pretend to be Irish today, most of my neighbors likely don’t have any Irish ancestry.

When asked where my ancestors came from, I will often jokingly respond, Kentucky. That’s because several of my lines become brick walls in Kentucky. While I haven’t sought out immigration records, I do know some of the country origins for a few of my ancestors.

  • Germany — Briles line traces back to the Germanna colony when Conrad Broyles, his brother and parents arrived in 1717.
  • England — Many of my New England lines trace back to early Massachusetts. My Hammond line likely goes back to Thomas Hammond who was born and married in England but died in Massachusetts.
  • Dutch — While I was aware that my Ostrander line was likely Dutch, it is only recently that I found that thru my Harris line, I have several lines going back to the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam
  • Scottish — I’m fairly certain that my Crawford line and several other lines go back to Scotland. However, these are the lines that are currently stuck in Kentucky

So do I have any Irish ancestry? Possibly. My Ralston line may be my Irish connection. According to Find a Grave, David Franklin Ralston was born in Ireland.

So, what does my DNA tell me? Am I Irish? According to my current Ancestry DNA, nope, I don’ have any Irish ancestry.

I’m fortunate to have also tested my brothers and my mother. These tests provide slightly different ethnicity results.

Brother 1
Brother 2

So, brother1 has a tiny bit of Irish ancestry and my mother has slightly more Irish ancestry. My mother’s Irish results are surprising since the RALSTON line is on my dad’s side of the tree. Also surprising is the fact that my mother’s results only show 10% Germanic Europe while brother1 shows 12% and I show 26%. This is surprising because my mother’s father was a Briles (my known German ancestry).

For me, these varying ethnicity results indicate that I might have a little Irish in me. However, when I see these varying results, I see data that reinforces the fact that my tree is deeply American. I see data that supports the concept of the melting pot.

Below are posts that I’ve written in the past about my Irish (or lack of Irish) ancestry.


Is the word ‘homework’ part of your daily vocabulary? Perhaps as a student or parent one may deal with homework on a regular basis. However, as a retiree, I haven’t considered myself having homework.

During my working years, I attended quite a few education related conferences . When I would come home from many of those conferences, I would spend the next week or so investigating and often implementing something I learned at the conference. Thus, one might say I was doing ‘homework’ as a result of attending that conference. I can even remember some of that homework: building a Moodle server over spring break or setting up Google for Education accounts.

During my working years, I occasionally attended genealogy conferences. While I learned a lot from these conferences, I don’t remember coming home from a conference and implementing what I learned. In other words, I don’t remember doing any ‘homework’ for those conferences.

A speaker at RootsTech 2023 reminded attendees that we should be doing homework. In Diahan Southard’s DNA Shared Matches – the only DNA Tool You Will Ever Need, she even ‘assigned’ homework. And that homework involved re-doing my dots! Wanting to know more about the process of re-doing my dots, I watched the RootsTech session multiple times and her ‘AncestryNDA’s Dot System: An Introduction’ video.

I’m also watching her ‘The 5 steps to Organizing Your DNA in 2023‘ presentation on Legacy Family Tree Webinars to learn more about this process.

While I’m not sure I’ve re-done my homework ‘correctly’, I have redone a lot of them — at least TWICE.

It took re-watching the webinar several times to figure out who gets multiple colors, but I think I finally understand it enough to continue modifying my dots. (Note: it is about 29 minutes into the presentation when the ‘layers’ of colors is discussed.)

I’ve also come to the conclusion that the dots need RE-DONE for each genealogy puzzle one is trying to solve. My ‘spotlight question’ is as follows:

Verify my connection to James Crawford and find more descendants to help me.

Since James Crawford is my 4th great grandfather, I will need to use several levels of ThruLines to filter out shared matches that are NOT thru this Crawford line.

Based on my understanding of how to apply these dots, whatever color I give to second cousin shared matches will be given to all of the ancestral lines for that couple. To help me visualize the process, I named my dots based on the cousin level and the couple and assigned them a color.

Then I annotated a screen shot of the pedigree to add these names. I also added boxes filled with the appropriate colors so I could see which color dots each set of cousins should get.

Now that I hopefully understand how to apply the colored dots, I just need to start over on my dots and see what I find.

Posted in DNA

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It’s Saturday Night again – 

Time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision. 

1) Judy Russell wrote Those spreading genes two weeks ago, highlighting the countries that her close DNA matches (with 20 cM or more) are currently residing, based on her Ancestry DNA matches.  

2)   On the AncestryDNA Match List page, you can select “Close Matches” in the “Shared DNA” button.  Then click on the “Location” link to see a world map with that set of matches.  You will have to count some or all of them by hand.  

3)  Can you work with your “Close DNA Matches” and find the countries that your close matches are residing?

4) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own blog post.

Thank you to Judy Russell for writing her post, and to Linda Stufflebean for suggesting this topic.

Without looking at the map, I’m guessing almost all of my close matches reside in the United States. Since travel makes it easier for families to move around the world, one might expect to find cousin matches spread out around the world. If I had one or more immigrant ancestors who arrived after 1900, I might expect cousins living overseas. However, all branches of my tree were in Kansas prior to 1900 and in the United States prior to 1810 with most here prior to the revolutionary war.

Another issue that is going to complicate this process is the number of matches I have.

Total MatchesClose Matches

My Map

Brother Map

Brother Map

Mom Map

Posted in DNA

yDNA Mystery

Do you ever feel like DNA results are adding to a problem versus helping solve a problem? Well, that’s how I feel after the BigY results came back for my fourth cousin. I was hoping that his results might help connect our James Crawford line to descendants of James (and Martha Knight) Crawford or James (and Rebecca Anderson) Crawford.

Instead, my 4th cousin ended up in his own haplogroup. The Time Tree shows the three of us in the R-FT369906 haplogroup (orange icon).

The BigY tree shows our segment of the tree in a different way.

While I don’t know how the Edward Crawford lines might connect, paper research strongly suggests a relationship between my James Crawford lines and the other James Crawford lines. Below is a diagram of the various lines.

Everything I’ve read about yDNA and mutations, the results would suggests that to find a common ancestor between my brothers and my 4th cousin, one would have to go further back in our line. So what could explain a recent germline mutation?

My theory is that the yDNA mutation occurred between my 2nd great grandfather, Washington Marin Crawford and his son, Judson Foster Crawford. This theory is based on the fact that Washington Marion Crawford was captured and spent time in prisoner of war camps, including Andersonville, during the civil war. While I haven’t been able to locate any research supporting this theory, I did come across an article supporting the possibility: Civil War Data Reveals that Trauma Can Be Passed on to Sons.

While I have a theory that might explain the mutation between my brothers and my 4th cousin, I don’t have a theory to explain why our James Crawford branch is separate from the other James Crawford branches. Since I have to go back to at least the 9th generation to identify a common ancestor, this does fit with the Time Tree which estimates a common ancestor between 1500 and 1770.

Thus, the mystery of my James Crawford ancestors still exists.

DNA – By Parent

I know. This post is being published on Sunday morning when I typically answer Randy Seaver’s “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” challenge. However, I will not be home this Saturday to write the Sunday blog. Instead, I will be spending the weekend with my family. While we won’t be making any trips to swim this year, it’s looking like it will be a fantastic weekend to spend in the cabins and around a campfire. Afterall, we have proven that we can endure a rainy, pink boots, weekend together.

Since the new DNA ‘by parent’ feature was recently released by Ancestry, I thought I’d share my findings, which are impacted by the following:

  • I was able to test my mother, along with my two brothers
  • My tree is a U.S. tree. All of my ancestors in the 6th generation have been identified. With the exception of my Harding line, who were Loyalists and left for New Brunswick, all of the rest of my 6th generation was born in the United States.
  • I have quite a few close relatives that have tested, which helps identify my mother’s maternal/paternal parents.

Below is a table showing the number of matches.

TesterTotal MatchesClose MatchesDistant Matches

Below is a table showing our ‘By Parent’ data:


When looking at this ‘by parent’ data, my first question was why my brothers had more than 2 matches in the ‘both’ category. When I looked at those questionable matches assigned to both, I discovered that they each had shared matches who descend from Simon Van Arsdale and Rachel Banta (my paternal side). When I looked at some of their trees, I found several common surnames, including some that appear in my mom’s side of the tree.

However, the 8 matches in the ‘both’ category for my mom are all close relatives. Besides my two brothers and myself, one is a first cousin, three are 1st cousins once removed and one is a first cousin twice removed. We would all have both sides of my mother’s tree in common.

When I looked at the ‘unassigned’ matches, I was surprised to discover matches with an identified ‘common ancestor’ in the list. A few are even in my tree. And some of them had tested their DNA prior to my testing.

When I clicked on Common Ancestor to narrow the list of ‘Unassigned’ down, I found quite a few matches who have an identified common ancestor on my list of unassigned.

In Ancestry’s defense, it does say, “Pending Update” on the By Parent page above the word Unassigned. Since this is also in BETA and just rolling out, I expect that my numbers will change. While I could (and have) manually change these ‘unassigned’ with a common ancestor, I’m going to give Ancestry some time to run some more updates.

For more information on this new DNA tool see the following:

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.