A Different View

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.

Help Needed!

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).

PLEASE help me figure out our DNA connection by attaching a tree to your DNA results.

ThruLines Error

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.

DNA and Descendancy Research

Do you try and connect with other genealogists to pick up tips and tricks? Living in rural America, I rely on connections over the Internet to pick up many of those tips and tricks. I’ve recently been watching one of the Barefoot Genealogists’ recent videos: Making Discoveries with the New and Improved AncestryDNA Match List.

About halfway thru the video (28:48), Crista explains why I should use actual names and birthdates for living people in my tree. I hadn’t considered that my ‘privitization’ of the names would prevent the computers from being able to match data in my tree with data in a match’s tree. Since I’ve had issues in the past with shared matches not working as expected, I have followed Crista’s advice and used actual names.

Watching this video, I also discovered that the method and terminology for shared matches has changed. Instead of being called ‘shared matches’, it is now called ‘common ancestors’. The terminology change is likely due to the change in how the ‘sharing’ is determined. I believe the shared matches was based on sharing Ancestry hints. With common ancestors, it is determined by comparing tree data.

That’s why Ancestry is recommending that everyone have a tree with at least parents and grandparents. Ancestry’s computers can take that small tree and compare it to all of the other trees on Ancestry. Thus, that small tree might have a parent or grandparent in a larger tree, like mine, that contains a lot of descendants. This is the same technology that is behind the new feature, Ancestry Thrulines.

I decided to test this on my own tree. I had a DNA match that I hadn’t looked at identified as having a common ancestor.

When I clicked on the ‘Common Ancestor’ link, it took me to a comparison page. This screen informed me that my match’s tree was private. However, along the left side of the screen was the suggested common ancestors: Albert Hutchinson and Julia Harding.

When I clicked on Albert Hutchinson, our two lines leading back to Albert Hutchinson were shown.

All of the white boxes on both lines were from my tree! Since I have researched the descendants of Albert Hutchinson, I had enough info in my tree to connect with my match – who only had 11 people in her tree.

Thus, all of my work over the years to research descendants is helping me identify my DNA matches!

Ancestry DNA Tips

This morning, I watched one of the Barefoot Genealogist”s new videos: What Are Ancestry ThruLines?

Even though I was already familiar with Ancestry’s ThruLines – and appreciate how they are helping me with my DNA matches, I learned several things about how Ancestry’s ‘Common Ancestors’ and ‘ThruLines’ work from this video.

The major tip is to CREATE a tree and ATTACH it to the DNA test.

  • Make the tree Public OR searchable Private – as long as the tree is searchable, it will help generate ThruLines clues
  • When the tree is ‘searchable private’ the various generations are shown as PRIVATE in a matches’ view of ThruLines
  • If possible, add your parents and grandparents to the tree
  • Use Genealogy Standards when adding information to your tree
    • Names
      • Only use maiden names for women in the tree. Using a married name will make it difficult for the computer to match the woman in a tree to the same woman in someone else’s tree.
      • Don’t use any special characters such as quotation marks, nicknames or symbols in the name fields. Again, this will make it difficult if not impossible for the computer to make the match.
    • Places 
      • City, County, State, Country format
      • No abbreviations (For example, spell out the state Kansas instead of using KS)
    • Dates
      • dd mmm yyyy format. For example: 28 May 2019

I know that place names are a stumbling block for me. In the past, I have abbreviated the state. I’ve also abbreviated the word COUNTY as Co. More recently, I’ve been trying to use the standardized version of a place name. (Thankfully, my genealogy software helps me with this.) However, I still have some of my older, nonstandard, place names in my file. Thus, those place names may be preventing Ancestry’s computers from finding a common ancestor with another match.

As I’m working to meet these standards in my Heartland Genealogy tree, I hope all of my matches that currently don’t have a tree will create and attach a tree to their DNA test.

How Many DNA ThruLines

Recently, Randy Seaver posted about the number of DNA ThruLines he had for each ancestor. Curious, I decided to check out my own ThruLines to see how many I have for each ancestor.

How Many DNA ThruLines do I have for each ancestor?


  • Leon Russel Crawford / Winnie Letha Currey – 2
  • Edward Osmond Briles / Pauline Edith Mentzer – 7

Great Grandparents

  • Judson Foster Crawford / Josie Winifred Hammond – 5
  • Hiram Miles Currey / Winnie Mae Hutchinson – 3
  • Edward Grant Briles / Frances Artlissa ‘Artie’ Ricketts – 7
  • Charles Oliver Mentzer / Nettie Adell Wells – 8

2nd Great Grandparents

  • Washington Marion Crawford / Mary Foster – 9
  • Richmond Fisk Hammond / Sarah Ellen Ralston – 8
  • Hiram M. Currey / Angelina Jane Burke – 4
  • Albert Hutchinson / Julia Harding -25
  • Noah Washington Briles / Sarah Jane Thompson – 9
  • James Marshall Ricketts / Rachel Elmeda Christy – 8
  • George Mentzer / Emeline Minnick – 12
  • Thurston Kennedy Wells / Salome Adell Crandall – 15

3rd Great Grandparents

  • Nelson G. Crawford / Martha Smith – 9
  • Zebulon Foster / Caroline Ostrander -13
  • Horatio Hammond / Louisa Fisk – 13
  • James Barr Ralston / Nancy Jane McCormick – 23
  • Hiram M. Currey / Rachel Harris – 13
  • Henry F. Burke / Elizabeth Ann Bland – 4
  • Aaron Hutchinson / Sarah Merry – 24
  • William Gillies Harding / Elizabeth Fowler – 43
  • Alexander Briles / Sarah Rush – 14
  • William Taylor Thompson / Polly Ann Evans – 10
  • John Lewis Ricketts / Orilda Matilda Reed – 10
  • Samuel Christy / Lyda Gallmore – 14
  • Phillip Andrew Mentzer / Orinda Miles – 18
  • John Minnick / Elizabeth Mary Jones – 15
  • Ozias Wells / Mary Kennedy – 25
  • Lewis Crandall / Almira Nafus – 15

4th Great Grandparents

  • James Crawford / Sarah Smith – 19
  • Richard Foster / Rachel Browning – 39
  • Edward Ostrander / Margaret _____ – 25
  • Jason Hammond / Rachel Hale – 16
  • Jonathan Fisk / Mary Arnold – 13
  • David Franklin Ralston / Hannah Barr – 34
  • James B. McCormick / Sarah Hall – 5
  • Hiram Mirick Currey / Sarah _____ – 18
  • Peter Harris / Rachel VanArsdale – 13
  • John Burke / Elizabeth Graves – 37
  • Eli Bland / Sarah Anderson – 6
  • Aaron Hutchinson / Hannah Nettleton – 21
  • Whiting G Merry / Elizabeth Peabody – 22
  • William Harding / Elizabeth Flewelling – 50
  • Thomas Fowler – 36
  • John Briles / Nancy Ann Beckerdite – 103
  • Noah Rush / Sarah Clark – 55
  • John Thompson / Sarah Iglehart – 11
  • James Evans / Sarah Garret – 13
  • Edward Ricketts / Sarah Story – 9
  • John C. Reed / Mary Buckles – 32
  • Ebenezer Christy / Rachel ______ – 23
  • Isom Gallimore / Judith Bentley – 17
  • Phillip Andre Mentzer / Isabella Motes- 16
  • Oliver Miles / Sarah Joslin – 21
  • Green Wells / Abigail White – 30
  • John Kennedy / Anna ______ – 26
  • Hampton Lillibridge Crandall / Freelove Butler – 28
  • William C Nafus / Salome Carpenter – 24

ThruLines Issue – Can I Resolve It?

While trying to figure out why I can’t find 4th cousin matches for descendants of Nelson G. Crawford, I ran across my first obviously incorrect ThruLines screen. One of my known third cousin once removed showed up on the ThruLines for my 4th great-grandfather, James Crawford thru the Walter Beggs and the Monroe line.

Instead of matching thru Walter Beggs and the Monroe line, our common ancestor is thru Ethel Anita Lighter and the Lida A Crawford line.

I found this odd since other close relatives of this match show up on the ThruLines for my 2nd Great Grandfather Washington Marion Crawford.

When I looked at my match’s tree, it was obvious why ThruLines was confused

  • we are a close DNA match 
  • shared matches suggest a match on my Crawford line
  • my match’s tree doesn’t contain any names lining up with Crawford ancestry

Thus, the computer guessed. Unfortunately, the computer needs some more information so it can ‘guess’ correctly. Thus, I’m going to message my match and see if she would be willing to add a mother for Eugene Beggs to her tree. Then it will become a waiting game to see if  the ThruLines change.

Crawford ThruLines Question

I like Ancestry’s new ThruLines feature!

Unfortunately, it is pointing out one of my frustrations with my DNA results. I have several verified second and third cousin DNA matches on my Crawford line but we never got a DNA circle for my 3rd great grandfather, Nelson G. Crawford. When Ancestry released ThruLines, I was hoping to locate some fourth cousins thru one of Nelson’s other children.

However, the ThruLines for Nelson G Crawford only includes DNA matches going thru my 2nd great grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford. It does not include any lines going thru the siblings of Washington Marion Crawford.

When I looked at the ThruLines for my 4th great-grandfather, James Crawford, matches are shown for descendants of Nelson’s sister, Polly Crawford and for all of the matches thru my 2nd great-grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford.

Since Washington Marion Crawford had five siblings that lived to adulthood and had families, I expected to find ThruLines thru at least some of those siblings. Thus, I am wondering why ThruLines hasn’t helped identify any fourth cousin Crawford matches.

I have several theories:

  • My fourth cousin descendants of Nelson G. Crawford haven’t done a DNA test thru Ancestry
  • These 4th cousins have done a DNA test but either don’t have a tree or haven’t connected their DNA test to their tree.
  • The trees for my 4th cousins Crawford matches don’t go back far enough to connect to my research — in other words, I haven’t done enough descendancy research
  • Nelson’s middle name is different on various trees causing  trees to not ‘match’
  • My tree is wrong

I’m hoping that I have enough evidence to disprove the theory of an incorrect tree. But, I will continue my search for documentation of Nelson G. Crawford and his family.
To help other researchers, I have researched many of Nelson G. Crawford’s descendants. My information regarding Nelson can be found

If you are a Crawford researcher with family in Preble County, Ohio, Warren County, Indiana or Ford County, Kansas, please contact me. I would love to see how our research might connect!

Common Ancestor Puzzle

Do you ever participate in one of Blaine Bettinger’s DNA quizzes? Or, do you ever see someone else’s post about their DNA stats and decide to investigate your own? I know I often take the time to look at the data and see how my data compares.

That happened two days ago when someone (and unfortunately I don’t know who and can’t find the original post) posted about his Ancestry DNA Common ancestors. Basically, the poster indicated how many common ancestors he had at each cousin level and wondered how that compared to other testers.

Thus, I decided to look at mine:

  • One 1st cousin
  • Three 2nd cousins
  • Five 3rd cousins

With over 3,000 4th cousin or closer DNA matches, I expected a lot of common ancestors at the 4th cousin level. Thus, I was shocked to only find EIGHT.
Out of curiosity, I looked at my incomplete ThruLines spreadsheets to see how many cousins I have identified so far.

Not only do the numbers differ for 4th cousins, but they also differ for how many 2nd and 3rd cousins I have descending from a common ancestor. 
This sent me back to my matches list. When I looked at the number of shaky leaf icons in my matches list, the number of the shaky leaf icons for 1st thru 3rd cousins matched the number of cousins using the common ancestor filter.
The next level is a little deceiving. On the matches list this level is 4th thru 6th cousin — not just 4th cousins. So I started counting the shaky leaf icons. I had counted 155 shaky leaf icons and was still in the 4th-6th cousin section. Since I had reached a match length of just 22 cM, I stopped counting.
Once I realized that the shaky leaf is not always synonymous with common ancestor, I went back and started looking for the term ‘common ancestor’ by the shaky leaf. I quickly counted over 8 4th-6th cousins with the words ‘common ancestor’. Studying the first 15 of those ‘common ancestor’ matches, I found it odd that three of the 15 matches had two trees with a tree size of 7 and one tree in the list with a tree size of 2. When I looked at those very small trees, a common ancestor was not shown on the tree.

Since I descend from Isom Gallimore, it is possible that Isom Gallimore is our common ancestor. However, nothing in my match’s tree connects my match to Isom Gallimore. Yet, this match comes up using the ‘Common Ancestor’ filter.

Going back to my match list, I wondered why some of my known cousins don’t appear as common ancestors. For example, several descendants of my 2nd Great Grandfather, George Mentzer, have tested but aren’t listed on the ‘common ancestor’ list. 

This match descends from George Mentzer thru his son Ernest. My tree not only contains information on George Mentzer, but on his children and grandchildren.

Thus, our two trees should contain enough information to connect our two trees. Thus, I expected to find this match on the ThruLines screen for George Mentzer. 

Unfortunately, the ThruLines screen does not show George’s son Ernest and the link to my DNA match — even though our trees both contain Ernest as a son of George Mentzer.

Since this Mentzer match has an unlinked tree, I’m wondering if that is keeping the ‘common ancestor’ and ThruLnes from working for this match.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an explanation for only EIGHT 4th cousin matches showing up  with the ‘Common Ancestor’ filter. 

Can anyone else explain this?

ThruLines Validating Research

I’ve seen several negative posts and comments about Ancestry’s new DNA tool, ThruLines. I haven’t come close to looking at all of my lines, let alone verifying them. However, I am thrilled Ancestry developed this new tool.

With 231 ThruLines, it will take me some time to document them all, let alone verify the other lines. However, I have started the process of ‘archiving’ the various lines using a spreadsheet format suggested by Diahan Southard. (See: DNA Thru Lines Potential Breakthrough)

As I was entering the information from my various BRILES ThruLines into my spreadsheet, I realized that all of these DNA matches are verifying the information I found in two family genealogies: Keith Typescript and Briles Family by Max Briles.

These two genealogies were my starting points for the Briles side of my tree and thus the backbone on which I added other sources. Over the years, I’ve added census records, marriage records, wills, land records, etc to help document the various Briles families. Not only did these genealogies provide a starting point, they also helped separate individuals of the same name. My Briles research was easier because I had these genealogies as the foundation. My realization that my DNA ThruLines are confirming these genealogies was not only reassuring but also freeing.

I believe my realization is freeing because it validates the practice of using family genealogies, biographies in mug books and even online trees as a starting point to search for the additional records to verify the information found in those sources. So to the nay-sayers who reject online trees, mug books, etc. as being inaccurate, I say forget that. I’m going to use any and all sources of information, including online trees and mug books, to see if I can find additional sources to prove/disprove family relationships. Then I will use my DNA ThruLines to see whether DNA supports my research.