Are you overwhelmed with DNA data? Have you ever tried looking at the data in a different way to see what you can learn from it?
The Leeds method of looking at DNA matches is often used for this purpose. Today, I read the blog post, 7-gen-1-sheet, by Ann Raymont. In this post, the author explains how to set up a spreadsheet to display 7 generations of ancestors. Once the spreadsheet is created, color coding can be used to identify patterns such as European roots, lineage society lines or whether a specific source has been used.
Intrigued by how this spreadsheet could be used, I decided to create the page of ancestors. As I was creating the spreadsheet, I decided to use it to look at my ThruLines data. Since I’ve tested myself, my two brothers and my mother, I have four sets of ThruLines. Even though I’ve looked thru this data for each match, I’ve never compared the results.
By adding columns for each of my DNA tests, I was able to record the number of matches for each ancestor from the 4 DNA tests.
Having this data all in one place will help me evaluate my tree in relation to my DNA results. For example, does it indicate an error in my tree if I only have a few matches for that ancestor? Having this data side by side has also allowed me to see that even though I might only have a few matches with descendants of a particular ancestor, my brothers or mother could have quite a few more matches. In those cases, the probability that my tree is accurate increases when I look at all four tests versus looking at just my results.
Now that I have 9 generations of ancestors on my spreadsheet, there are several other ways that I hope to utilize this sheet.
Color code states of residence in 1850
Color code ancestors whom I have found an obituary
Color code ancestors whom I have a Find a Grave source for
Color code potential DAR ancestor lines
Thank you Ann Raymont for sharing your 7-gen-1-sheet method of looking at our ancestors.
If you search your DNA matches for a member of your genealogy FAN (family, associates, neighbors) do come up with results? Do you ever scratch your head trying to figure out how they fit in your tree?
I’m sure scratching my head trying to figure out the over 300 DNA matches to my brother who have SELLERS in their tree. (Note the number goes higher if I click on ‘Include Similar Surnames’.)
I do have Sellers in my database. I have a whole lot of them in my database. Since the Sellers family is part of my Lincoln County, Kentucky FAN club, I have tracked the descendants of Nathaniel Sellers (1720-1795) for several generations.
Two of his sons, James and William, married into the Crawford family in Lincoln County, KY. The marriage records for these Crawford sisters, Mary and Sarah, suggest a relationship with the widow, Rebekah Crawford. Rebekah is also thought to be the mother of the James Crawford that married Martha Knight in Lincoln County, KY.
Based on the research of Rebekah and Mary, Sarah and James, the working theory is that Mary and Sarah are sisters to James Crawford (1770-1833). This is NOT my Crawford line. My Crawford line goes thru my father to James Crawford (1772-1854).
Thus, the mystery: Why do I have so many SELLERS DNA matches?
The search of my brother’s matches for Sellers yields one explanation: I need to look for the SELLERS surname on both sides of my tree.
Looking at the matches with a common ancestor, it appears that I may need to look for the SELLERS surname as ancestors of the following:
4th great grandparents: John Reed (1800-1864) and Mary Buckles (1792-1867) on my mother’s side of the tree
5th great grandmother: Mary Wright on my mother’s side of the tree
5th great grandparents: Jacob Iglehart (1774-1856) and Ann Beall (1777-?)on my mother’s side of the tree
5th great grandparents: Jeremiah Browning (1744-1834)and Cassandra Foster (1767-1830) on my father’s side of the tree
4th great grandmother: Sarah Smith (1770-1856) on my father’s CRAWFORD line
If I go to my set of DNA matches and do the same search for the SELLERS surname, I come up with even more confusing information. I match descendants of James and Mary (Crawford) Sellers and his brother / her sister William and Sarah (Crawford) Sellers.
Not only do these Sellers/Crawford matches appear, but they have quite a few shared matches.
Thus, all of the confusion: lots of Sellers matches with possible connections to BOTH sides of my tree. I’d love to connect with other SELLERS researchers to try and figure out how all of these matches connect.
We finally have DNA evidence of a relationship between our James Crawford (md Sally Smith Duggins) and his neighbor, James Crawford (md. Martha Knight). In addition, we have evidence of a DNA relationship with the James Crawford who owned land on Paint Lick Creek in Kentucky.
However, this DNA evidence does not tell us HOW we are related. It might also be telling us that we are not as closely related as we thought.
Below is a diagram of what the yDNA tree probably looks like.
The bright yellow boxes represent the ancestors of other yDNA testers. The light orange box represents the yDNA tester of my line. This diagram supports an uncle/nephew relationship between the James of Paint Lick area and the James that married Martha Knight. Even though a will for John Crawford has been found that identifies his wife as Rebekah and names sons James and Nathan, documentation has not been found to help prove that the family in Kentucky is the same family named in the Virginia will.
For a time, it was believed that our James (md Sally Duggins) was also a nephew of the James Crawford that married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell thru James’ brother, Andrew. However, the yDNA information does not support that close of a relationship. Thus, Andrew is no longer considered a potential ancestor.
Since we are all in the same yDNA haplogroup, we are related. However, it appears that our James (md Sally Duggins) is possibly a cousin to the James Crawford that married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell.
More research both with DNA and with records needs to be done to prove these relationships and to identify that elusive common ancestor. Thus, your help is needed.
If my previous posts and Ancestry tree caused you to add Andrew Crawford as the father of James Crawford (1772-1854), please remove Andrew as the father of James at least for now. This will hopefully help Ancestry ThruLines search for someone besides Andrew as a potential father.
If you have tested your DNA with Ancestry, please look for matches that have the Crawford surname who were born in Preble County, Ohio or Garrard County, Kentucky. These matches are likely related on our Crawford tree somehow.
If you have tested your DNA with Ancestry, please look for matches that have the SELLERS surname. There are two SELLERS marriages in Lincoln County Kentucky to CRAWFORDs. These Crawford women are likely sisters to James Crawford (1770-1833). Even though my Crawford line has no known Sellers ancestor, I have lots of Sellers DNA matches. Thus, these Sellers matches might be a key to figuring out our Crawford relationships.
Please help by poking holes in my research or making suggestions for further research.
Since we should protect the privacy of our DNA matches, we should not publicly share the name of our matches or shared matches. Instead, please invite them to join this conversation.
If you are willing to be part of a collaborative group to further research these Crawford families, please leave a comment on this post or message me on Facebook (Marcia Crawford Philbrick).
Below are some links to these various families on FamilySearch
The comment feature on Ancestry should allow anyone to leave a comment on my tree. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how I would figure out that you had left a comment. If you wish to leave a comment on my tree, please do so, but please also notify me somehow so that I can read your comment.
Please help us take advantage of all of this DNA information by asking to join the Crawford Facebook group and by collaborating on this research. Together, let’s figure out who those question marks at the top of he chart represent!
My mind is ‘jumping up and down’ with joy this morning. Another CRAWFORD researcher contacted me this morning to let me know he had found out his haplogroup: R-Y88686. That is the SAME haplogroup as my brother.
We FINALLY have some evidence that we are related!
We both descend from James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio. His James Crawford was born in 1770 in Augusta County, Virginia and died in 1833 in Warren County, Indiana. My James was born in 1772 in Virginia and died in 1854 in Preble County, Ohio.
Both men were living in Kentucky prior to 1800. His James married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. My James married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky. (Garrard County was formed in 1797 from Lincoln and Madison counties.)
In 1811, his James filed land entry papers showing he had made the final payment for the SW 1/4 of Section 14, Township 7 Range 2 East in Preble County, Ohio. In 1816, my James filed similar land entry papers showing he had made the final payment for the NW 1/4 of Section 14, Township 7, Range 2 East in Preble County, Ohio. Yes, they owned adjoining land.
These two families appear to have migrated together for over 100 years. Thus, we have long suspected a relationship.
Not only has our yDNA tests shown us that we need to keep looking for that relationship, but it has added a third James Crawford to the mix. This James was also in Garrard County prior to 1800. James was born in Augusta County, Virginia in 1758 and died in Jefferson County, Indiana in 1836. In 1779, this James Crawford married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell in Montgomery County, Virginia.
So that’s three members of our haplogroup:
three James Crawfords
all in Garrard County, Kentucky prior to 1800
all born in Virginia – likely in early Augusta County, Virginia
no father/son relationship between any of the three James Crawfords
The fourth member of our haplogroup descends from William Nelson Crawford. William was born in 1829 in Ohio. Little information about William has been found prior to his marriage to Julia Ann Decious in 1864 in Lassen, California. By 1877, William and Julia were living in Klickitat County, Washington. William died in Klickitat County in 1907.
This William Crawford may have been the 21 year old William Crawford listed in the household of William Crawford (son of James and Martha Crawford) on the 1850 census in Pike Township, Warren County, Indiana.
If so, that would place William Nelson Crawford in Warren County, Indiana along with James and Martha Crawford and their children and with my ancestor Nelson G. Crawford, son of James and Sally Crawford.
This new haplogroup information says these four families are related. We just need to do more digging to figure out how!
Have you learned thru the years that spelling matters when doing an Internet search? On the other hand, have you found that spelling of names varies — and thus a specific spelling doesn’t matter any more? That need to be able to search for various spellings of a name was behind the development of the Soundex code.
Soundex code was very valuable in pre-Internet days for locating census records. It can still be used today with searches of Ancestry’s databases. Unfortunately, this concept isn’t used when Ancestry’s computers compares the trees of people who have a DNA match to identify the common ancestor. Instead, the computer is looking for an exact match.
As I’ve started researching an ancestor that Ancestry identified as a potential match, I’m running into spelling issues.
This new ancestor is a revolutionary war veteran, Major Simon Van Arsdale. In addition to his revolutionary war service, Simon Van Arsdale was part of the Low Dutch Settlement that migrated to Kentucky.
The discovery of Simon Van Arsdale as a potential ancestor is opening up doors to other potential ancestors and a lot of interesting history. Unfortunately, the spelling of the Van Arsdale name is making it difficult to locate records and to identify DNA matches. So far, I’ve identified the following spellings for this surname:
For the most part, clicking to also use Soundex when searching Ancestry databases will help me get around the many spellings of the name. However, that option isn’t available when working with DNA matches. I recently learned that I should use the ‘alternate name’ fact to add variations on the spelling of a name.
This morning as I was thinking about the need to add ‘alternate name’ facts for Simon Van Arsdale, I saw a Facebook post questioning why Ancestry’s computers can’t find common ancestors when both parties of a DNA match have large trees. I believe the same post also talked about how changing the spelling of a name (Fannie to Fanny) caused the number of matches on a ThruLines to drop. In the comments on the post was a suggestion to add an ‘alternate name’ fact for the different spelling of the name. (Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find this post back. Thus, I can’t give credit to the parties who wrote the post and the comment.)
In thinking about this question as to why the computers aren’t finding the common ancestors, I realized that spelling of surnames and name variations could be a big issue with my tree. I have a lot of places in my tree where the name I have could be slightly different from the name another person might have in their tree. However, I have one surname where this could be a big issue: CURREY.
Over the years, I have found that when the name is spelled with the ‘e’, the record is usually for someone in my line. I have also found records using the CURRY spelling that are for individuals in my line. Thus, the name could be spelled CURREY or CURRY. Since I only have the CURREY spelling in my direct ancestral line, I’m going to experiment with adding CURRY as an alternate name to see what happens to my ThruLines.
Below are the number of ThruLines matches for each generation of my CURREY line:
Hiram Currey – Dodge City – 1866-1943 —– 3 matches
Do you remember having conversations with your parents similar to ‘Why can’t I? Everyone else is doing it.’ Well, that is how I sometimes feel when it comes to my DNA research strategy. In other words, I often haven’t had a specific strategy, but was following the ‘crowd’.
That was at least true when I submitted my spit to Ancestry to have an autosomal DNA test completed over 4 years ago. At the time, I didin’t know much about DNA but was hoping that it would help break down the numerous brick walls in my family tree.
It was only after getting my results back that I started learning about the perceived limitations of these results.
Since my tree was already complete thru 5 and 6 generations and mostly complete thru 7 generations, my hopes of using my Ancestry DNA results to prove a new ancestor were dashed.
Then came the summer of 2020 when Ancestry announced that it had plans to remove the 6 and 7 cM matches from our lists of matches. Since Ancestry had also recently announced that over 18 million people had had their DNA tested by Ancestry, I knew that these smaller matches were adding to the data load. Thus, I looked at this move for what it was – a cost saving measure.
That was until I looked at my own ThruLines data and realized that I had ‘brick wall shattering’ information in my ThruLInes that utilized quite a few of these smaller matches to build these connections.
Thus, I started working to tag these smaller matches — starting with those identified as having a common ancestor. In working thru these matches, I found matches to support my paper research identifying Rachel Harris, daughter of Peter Harris as my third great grandmother. These matches helped me identify Peter’s wife along with the parents of Peter Harris and his wife, Rachel Simonse VanArsdale. This discovery led me to three revolutionary war ancestors and a very rich family history going back to the 1600s.
Knowing that there had to be other ‘yet to be identified’ common ancestors lurking in this pool of 6-7 cM matches, I decided I was going to try and tag as many of these matches as I could. Roberta Estes provided some guidance on how to do this in her blog on July 16: Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon – Preservation Strategies with Detailed Instructions. So, I started by searching these matches for some of my surnames and then tagging them. Since this was a slow labor intensive process, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to save very many of these matches.
Then I saw a post by Roger Froysaa on the Facebook group, Ancestry DNA Matching where Roger shared a script that could automatically tag these 6 and 7 cM matches. Roger not only shared several versions of his script but also wrote a script to cause the list of matches to scroll to the bottom. These scripts worked — to a point. I would either get an ‘Aw Shucks’ your browser crashed OR a message from Ancestry that their backend servers were overtaxed. Charles Updike shared changes to the script, including a different script to scroll to the bottom.
This morning, I saw another post on the AncestryDNA Matching group about these scripts. This post was by Kay Simpkins where she shared a script written by Earl Haiks. I found the script in one of Kay’s comments on her post and copied/pasted it into Notepad.
After reading all of the comments on Kay’s post, I realized that I didn’t have to sort out the 6-7 cm matches, I just had to run the script. I renamed my ‘6-7 cM Matches’ group and called it ‘Distant Relatives’ so that I wouldn’t have to edit the script shared by Kay. I then ran it on my matches — and it was QUICK and I didn’t get any of those error messages. In about 4 hours early this morning, I was able to run this script on five tests. I still have one test to run the script on but am waiting until tonight when it should run faster than midday.
Below are the stats for these five kits:
SUCCESS AT LAST!
Now, I just have to continue researching ancestors / descendants on my tree so that Ancestry’s computing power can figure out the common ancestor for these distant matches.
None of this would have been possible if others had not been willing to share via a blog post or Facebook community. Thank you Roberta Estes, Roger Froysaa, Charles Updike, Kay Simpkins and Earl Haiks for your contributions to this conversation. Also a shout out to Jason Lee for creating and administering the AncestryDNA Matching Facebook group.
As with many other genealogists, I’m struggling with the upcoming loss of small matches from my Ancestry DNA match list. I have no idea how many of these matches I have but I’m guessing it is in the thousands.
Since I will never have the time to work thru thousands upon thousands of matches to figure out how we connect, I’m hoping to use Ancestry’s computer technology to help me. Thus, I’m concentrating on my ThruLines matches, including the “potential ancestors”.
I have done a lot of descendancy research which I believe is helping Ancestry’s ThruLines technology connect me to DNA matches who have very small trees. Seeing the words ‘No Tree’ or ‘Unlinked Tree’ in my list of matches means I will scroll right past the match and will never take the time to figure out our relationship.
Thus, I need my over 100,000 matches to have a searchable tree attached to their DNA test(s).
Have you seen Ancestry’s recent news that they will be dropping smaller matches from our list of DNA matches? (Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon) With over 100,000 matches on my list, I’m not sure I will miss most of those small matches.
However, I decided to look at my ThruLines and Common Ancestors matches to see what the impact might be. Since I have four DNA tests to manage, including my mother, I decided to start with the 5th great grandparent ThruLines. My goal is to add color coding dots and notes for ALL of the matches for each match listed on ThruLines.
As I’ve worked my way thru all of these 5th great grandparent ThruLines, I observed some matches with very small trees where the common ancestor was identified.
After finishing the 5th great grandparent ThruLines, I then looked at 6-7 cM matches who have an identified common ancestors. Going thru that list, I again observed quite a few small trees showing up as having a common ancestor.
Since I have done a lot of descendancy research, I’m guessing that all of that research is helping Ancestry’s computers to make these ‘common ancestor’ links between these small trees and my larger tree.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical report to ‘grade’ me on my research of descendants. However, seeing these DNA matches with small trees showing up with common ancestor connections is enough validation for me.
Thus, I will continue to work on my descendancy research — after I get done marking my 6-7 cM matches that appear to have a known connection.
For more information on how to do descendancy research, check out Crista Cowan’s video: What Is Descendancy Research.
Recently Jason Lee posted a Facebook poll asking whether readers agree or disagree with the statement, “All ThruLines errors are because of errors in trees.” As of today, 802 people agree with that statement, while I am in the minority of 120 people disagreeing.
The reason, I disagree with the statement is that the ThruLines for my 2nd great grandfather, James Crawford. This ThruLines suggests that William Monroe as a child of James Crawford based on a DNA match with a known 3rd cousin once removed.
Even though this match has a very small tree, she has enough in her tree that our trees should connect. Eugene Beggs, son of Walter Beggs and Ethel Anita Lighter is in both of our trees. My match’s tree includes Eugene Beggs’ father, Walter, but not his mother, Ethel Lighter.
Thus, our common ancestors are Washington Marion Crawford and his wife, Mary Foster. Not only is ThruLines suggesting an incorrect connection on the Crawford line but also on the Foster line. This time, it is suggesting Margaret E. Jordan as a daughter of Zebulon Foster.
In hopes of getting the algorithm to correct these ThruLines, I added this cousin to my tree several months ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t observed any change in the ThruLines. Not only do I have Eugene Beggs and his link to Washington Marion Crawford and Mary Foster in my tree, I have also researched these families and attached sources.
I keep hoping that the computer algorithm for ThruLines will discover this connection and show the correct way our lines connect.
Although I haven’t researched all of the suggested connections thru ThruLines, I haven’t found other errors. For the most part, I have been able to document the suggested connections. Because the ThruLines tool helps me see connections between myself and my DNA matches, I appreciate the information provided. However, I wish there was a way to report this ThruLines error to Ancestry. Unfortunately, I haven’t found such ability.
Have you heard about the new GedMatch Tier 1 tool to find common ancestors for DNA matches? If not, check out this Family Fanatics video about the tool.
Somehow, I had heard about the tool and decided to try it.
With only 14 results, I was a little disappointed. However, seeing James Crawford and Hannah Smith on my list of potential common ancestors was very exciting since these are brick walls on my Crawford line. Unfortunately, I was SO excited that I didn’t do my homework first. I didn’t watch the video. Nor, did I check out their gedcom files prior to contacting them.
I received an immediate response from my Hannah Smith connection — and Hannah Smith is NOT our common ancestor. I would have discovered that if I had taken the time to look at the gedcom file. My match’s Hannah Smith lived in England. My Hannah Smith lived in Indiana. After browsing thru the Ancestry tree for this match, I’m not sure where we connect — but it has to be quite a ways back. His tree is almost entirely based in England while my tree is deeply U.S.
I had similar results with my James Crawford match. His James Crawford is from New Brunswick while my James Crawford was born in Virginia, married in Kentucky and died in Ohio. However, my Harding line is in New Brunswick and I believe that our common ancestor would be a Flewelling. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much research on this branch of my family.
Based on my experience with these two matches, I think the tool is only comparing names and not the associated places and dates. However, I would never have discovered the FLEWELLING connection without this tool. Thus, I believe this tool has potential – especially if more people put gedcom files on the site along with their DNA results.
For those wanting to check out this new tool on GedMatch tool, please don’t be like me and contact matches without checking out their gedcom file. Watch the video above and check out the match’s gedcom file first!