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.

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: