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.

Supporting Evidence

#DNA #52Ancestors

Do you ever look at a genealogy resource with rose colored glasses? In other words, do you perceive that resource as the one resource that will break thru brick walls? That is how I approached DNA testing.

Unlike many people who are testing their DNA, I already knew a lot about my ancestors. Even though the following chart was recently created with the preview edition of RootsMagic 8, I had most of these ancestors in my file when I started working with DNA over 5 years ago.

So, learning that autosomal DNA goes back 6 to 8 generations or 150-200 years was a disappointment. (information from Mark McDermott’s blog, How Many Generations Does DNA Go Back)

Even though DNA likely won’t help me identify that ‘next’ generation, I am finding that it is providing ‘Supporting Evidence’ for my current research.

For example, my Currey line goes thru several generations of Hiram Curreys to the Hiram Mirick Currey who was the treasurer of the state of Ohio in 1819. Through the years, I’ve worked with other researchers and collected documents that appear to support the lineage. However, I don’t have a deed, will or probate record that ties one generation to the next.

Thanks to Ancestry ThruLines, some of my matches show up as descendants of Hiram Mirick Currey thru his other children.

Not only do I look for descendants thru other children, I also look for descendants thru a different spouse. For example, my 2nd great-grandfather, Richmond Fisk Hammond, remarried after his wife, my 2nd great-grandmother died. He had a daughter thru this second marriage. ThruLines supports this second family.

Another example is my ancestor, James Crawford’s wife, Sarah Smith Duggins. Since she had a previous marriage, I’m hoping to use her ThruLines to learn more about my Smith ancestors.

I’ve found that my Ancestry ThruLines data can also point out spots in my tree that might be incorrect. For example, I have James B McCormick and Sarah Hall as the parents of Nancy Jane McCormick Ralston (1818-1907). When I look at ThruLines, James B. McCormick has 4 matches with two of those being my brothers. That’s not a lot of support for him being the father of Nancy, especially when compared to his wife Sarah Hall who has 30 DNA matches.

I’ve taken advantage of the ability to download my Ancestry DNA and upload my results to other sites, including GedMatch and My Heritage. Because my ancestry is basically colonial, my Ancestry results are providing more connections than My Heritage. Thus, I spend most of my ‘DNA time’ working with Ancestry data.

Not only was I wearing rose colored glasses when doing autosomal DNA testing, but also when having my brother do yDNA testing. I was hoping that this test would identify my Crawford ancestors. Unfortunately, that hasn’t proven to be true to date.

Even though yDNA hasn’t helped identify the parents of James Crawford, it has proven a connection with the other James Crawford families in Garrard County, Kentucky.

As pointed out by several genetic genealogists, tools such as triangulation or segment data are needed to prove a genetic relationship. These tools are not available on Ancestry where the majority of my DNA data resides. With an over-abundance of DNA data, I’m content (for now) with not being able to use my DNA data as scientific proof of a relationship. Instead, I will continue to use it as a tool to evaluate my tree and as a way to connect with cousins who might have additional information.


Have you ever wished you had your parent’s DNA results? Even though my mom has been tested, I’ve always wished I had my dad’s DNA.

Well, this morning I read about a tool to reconstruct a parents DNA in the blog post, Reconstructing DNA from One Parent with HAPI. The tool requires DNA from a parent and THREE children.

Since I just happened to have tested myself, my two brothers and my mother, we have the required DNA to reconstruct my father’s DNA!

To use this tool, I opted to download new files from Ancestry. To get to Ancestry’s Download option, I selected a DNA test and then I clicked on the Settings wheel while.

I scrolled to the bottom of the Settings screen to get to the Actions box, where I found the Download DNA Data section.

Clicking on the blue Download expanded the screen. I had to enter my password, click on the ‘I Understand’ box and Confirm.

Then I waited. (Yes, I’m impatient when it comes to verification emails!) Once the email arrived, there was a blue ‘Download DNA data’ box that I clicked on.

That took me back to Ancestry where I was able to click on the green Download DNA button to download the file.

This opened Windows Explorer. I migrated to my DNA folder and saved the file. (Knowing where this file is saved is critical!)

Ancestry DNA downloads as a zip file. Normally, this file is left untouched when uploading to other sites. However, with the HAPI tool, a .txt or .csv file is required. Thus, I needed to extract the zip file. Since my computer is a Windows based computer, I right clicked on the file and selected ‘Extract All’ from the menu.

This creates a new folder with an AncestryDNA.txt file inside. Since I needed to work with four different Ancestry DNA files, I renamed each of the files so I could identify whose DNA was in the file.

Then I opened the HAPI tool site in my browser. The tool prompted me to upload a file containing my parent’s DNA. Then it prompted me to upload DNA from three children of that parent.

Then I clicked on Run HAPI and waited. It didn’t take long to finish. When finished, I was prompted to ‘Print reconstructed parent’. Clicking on this blue button allowed me to SAVE the file for my dad.

Curious as to how accurate this new DNA might be, I wanted to upload it to GedMatch, where I could do one to one comparisons with known cousins. So on, I located the menu section, Upload your DNA files.

I entered my dad’s name and an alias and indicated his gender. I then scrolled down to the ‘testing company’ section. I selected OTHER for the source and entered HAPI for the company name. I indicated that my dad is deceased.

Once the data had finished uploading, I did several One to One comparisons. The first comparison was with one of his first cousins on his dad’s side.

The second comparison was with a 1st cousin twice removed on his mother’s side.

I have no idea how accurate the HAPI tool is. However, it is more than I had! Once GedMatch has had time to process the data, I will run a One to Many test to see what I get.

Posted in DNA

Good Fortune

This week’s #52 Ancestors blog prompt is ‘Fortune’. At first, I didn’t think I would be writing on this topic since I was looking at the term as a monetary term and my family has no fortune.

Then I encountered the blog post Double Cousins and DNA on The DNA Geek site and realized that I am fortunate to have numerous 1st thru 3rd cousin DNA matches. Thus, my ‘fortune’ is all of these cousin matches.

The DNA Geek is starting a project to study DNA results when double cousins are involved. To begin the study they are seeking data for a specific set of cousin matches. Below is a diagram showing the desired matches in the yellow-orange.

Well, I do have double cousins. My great-grandfather, Charles Mentzer married Nettie Wells. Charles’ brother, John Frederick Mentzer married Anna Wells, the sister of Nettie. When I first studied the above diagram, I was pretty sure I could come up with the double cousin match, but didn’t think I had the 1st cousin match.

Knowing that I had quite a few MENTZER matches, I had to diagram it out. So I started drawing out my MENTZER/WELLS line and added my DNA matches. I am the yellow square in the diagram below.

When I compared my diagram to the one from the blog, I realized that I am not in the generation they wanted for this initial study. Since I manage my mother’s DNA, I drew out the family and added her matches. Studying that diagram, I realized that I do have data for the desired cousin matches!

Curious about what the diagram would be like for my brothers, I also drew out their matches.

Even though my data is for second cousins and not 1st cousins, I’m ready with lots of data when they are ready to receive it.

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%
Germanic Europe6%27%

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.


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


MeBrother 1Brother 2
Theory of Relativity283031
Smart Matches354


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


  • 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.