Check your tree!

Was reading the feed in my Facebook groups and came across an interesting post in Louise Coakley’s private group about Using DNA for Genealogy in Australia and New Zealand. PS Remember to answer questions if requesting to join.

As I have many trees on Ancestry.com, I thought I would check out some of these posts about an in depth guide to Ancestry. There are 11 parts to this guide so far and the first one was about trees.

My trees

I have 7 trees I am owner of on Ancestry. My main tree is Wyatt family tree and that is where I add in all my matches as I work out where they are in my tree. So I use matches from myself, but also my mother, father and brother.

Because I had no idea of my father’s side of the tree until recently, I also began one labelled DNA Wyatt Dad Kevin. This is a lot of mirror trees based on dad and his half brother Kevin’s common matches to try and work out where they all intercept. But I wont be using this much now as I have now got dad’s side of the tree back a few more generations since a new close DNA match appeared a few weeks ago. This tree is private and not searchable.

When I was trying to work on dad’s DNA and whether he had Samoan ancestry, I asked a couple of his Smith cousins to test and I created trees to match them as well. I don’t add to these unless DNA matches ask for information through the messaging system. By the way, no Samoan and these are now half cousins as well.

I have done the same for a few of mum’s cousins who have tested at my request, so I have 3 trees created for them. Two are public and linked to DNA tests, one has now been made private but searchable as the person has now died who did the test for me.

Next step

So I went into my DNA matches list to see what the trees were like for my matches. I only looked at those up to and including 4th-6th cousin.

DNA matches tree types

 

Out of 340 matches I checked

  • nearly 50 % have a linked tree I can look at, but some of them may only have a few names of parents or grandparents or might even all be labelled ‘Living’.
  • nearly a quarter of my matches have no tree at all but if they are high up in my matches I might still be able to work out where they fit on my tree. In fact, I have worked out 9 of the 81 matches that have no tree.
  • an unlinked tree just means the owner of the tree hasn’t linked their DNA to the tree yet. I have 59 unlinked and 12 that are unlinked but also private. From those 71 matches, I have worked out how 6 of them link into my tree.
  • out of the 20 linked but private trees, I have 4 with common ancestor mentioned and I have proven these to be connected correctly to my tree.
  • I also have two that say the tree is unavailable but clicking on those words takes me to their page and a tree I can click on. One I have matched and is added on my tree, the other I have a good idea where it links but not proven yet.

As I mainly work on my parents DNA match lists, I probably have, in reality, a lot more matches added to my tree than I have from my match list. As I work out where the person fits in my tree, I add this in the note section of their profile page. As my parents are one further generation closer to the ancestors, I usually add these notes on their matches rather than mine.

From this image you can see I know where the person fits in my tree (the orange star), they fit into three family lines on my mother’s side and the ancestor couple we have in common is George and Martha Davey nee Colgrave.

Readers: If you have a tree on Ancestry, does it have your DNA linked to your name on the tree? Is your tree public, or private? If private is it also searchable? Do you use the notes section and the colour coding for your matches?

 

Update DNA results

At the beginning of 2019, I decided to start tracking how many new DNA matches I received over a 6 month period. So here are the results.

In January on Ancestry – 4th cousins or closer

  • I had 228 : June 269 – an increase of 41
  • Mum had 295 : June 347 – an increase of 52
  • Philip had 209: June 237 – an increase of 28
  • Dad had 187: June 210 – an increase of 23

In January on My Heritage – total matches

  • I had 3472: June 4157 – an increase of 685
  • Mum had 3990: June 4860 – an increase of 870
  • Philip had 3555: June 4239 – an increase of 684
  • Dad had 3508: June 4243 – an increase of 735

In January on FTDNA – total matches

  • I had 241: June 259 – an increase of 18
  • Mum had 283: June 303 – an increase of 20
  • Philip had 202: June 219 – an increase of 17
  • Dad had 198: June 220 – an increase of 22

I really like using Ancestry as it quickly tells me if I have common ancestors.

  • Sue 50 common ancestors – 4 unsure links – these are generally 5th-8th cousins
  • Mum 52 common ancestors – 7 unsure links as these are mainly back in the 1700s or early 1800s before formal registration and censuses
  • Philip 48 common ancestors – 5 unsure links when using thrulines and other clues
  • Dad 11 common ancestors of which 4 are kits I manage – Dad is definitely the problem person when it comes to DNA and the paper trail not matching.

When I know where a match is on my tree, I star them on Ancestry

I am lucky to have nearly 10000 people on a database on my home computer, so can quickly work out if a person is a match or not by using their online tree and my database.

  • Sue 66 stars
  • Mum 69 stars
  • Philip 65 stars
  • Dad 13 stars

I am doing quite well with messages sent through Ancestry – probably getting replies on 1 out of every 3 sent. I do check when the last time the match was on the website and will more likely message those who have been on in the last few months.

Ancestry now allows you to colour code for family lines or any other purpose you might need. When I star a match, I also use the notes section to put in how that person matches my mother or father eg Sue – Phyl – Hannah – George – John and Ann Davey nee Dixon This means I can see the most recent common ancestor at a glance (MRCA). That allows me to colour code very quickly eg Davey Dixon line

Readers: How are you going with working out matches using your DNA results? Are you using the new tools from each testing company? Which tools are you finding the most useful?

 

DNA connections and record keeping

I look after 7 DNA kits from Ancestry and all are uploaded to Family Tree DNA, My Heritage DNA and GEDmatch DNA. How do I keep a record of my matches, chromosomes and common information?

I have a spreadsheet on my google drive  which synchronizes across all my devices. This means whether I am at home on my desktop PC, or in a library with my iPad or my laptop then I can always get to that spreadsheet to make any changes.

I mainly work on my father’s DNA connections or my mother’s as they will be one generation closer to the Most Common Recent  Ancestor (MCRA) than if I work with mine or my brother’s.

The main DNA spreadsheet has lots of sheets relating to Dad

The first sheet has a copy of the first 2000 links from GEDmatch using the one-to-many test. This is just a straight copy/paste. I have then gone through the first 100 people using the one-to-one test to find out the chromosomes shared with my dad.  I am starting to colour code people who match each other when using the share 2 kits test. At least once a moth I update this sheet by checking the people marked in green on the main GEDmatch page for Dad. These will be the recent people who share his DNA.

The second sheet is a copy of the share 2 kits test for Dad and Kevin (his half brother)  This is a straight copy/paste. This means everyone on that list is from dad’s paternal side as dad and Kevin share a father. This list includes names and emails of the matches as well as the amount of cM shared and the generations between the matches. I am in contact with 3 people on this list so far.

The third sheet is one I have to create from information on available trees from the people in the Dad/Kevin list. I find their trees on any of the DNA websites. On this sheet I list the name of the person, the surnames at 4 or more generations away and where and when those people were born and died.

The fourth sheet is the share 2 kits test for Dad and Ruby. Anyone on this list relates to my dad’s maternal grandmother.

Dad/Patrick is because Patrick is the closest unknown link on the GEDmatch list at 3.9 generations.

I just found a great video from Ancestry explaining shared cM, mirror trees and a lot more. The sound is not too great and sounds a bit tunnelly.

My future plans

I will be starting a new spreadsheet for Mum’s DNA at some stage to keep all her information there.

On Ancestry, I have lots of trees, one labelled DNA Dad’s tree. It is here that I use the information from dad and Kevin matches to create mirror trees to find out where they link. So far I have about 6 trees started but none link yet. This will certainly be an ongoing project.

I also keep a separate spreadsheet with all those people I have already found a match to with DNA from either Mum or Dad. But I also include matches with the other people whose kits I look after eg Ruby, Dorothy and Kevin. The information in this is then sent to Blaine Bettinger’s shared cM Project via this Google form. The MCRA is usually a grandparent couple rather than an individual except in the case of my father’s grandmother. Most of my dad’s matches are half relationships and in the note column I will mention if the match is double cousins as I have on one side of mum’s tree. As Ancestry doesn’t give the largest number of cMs, I just put Ancestry in this column. When I have uploaded data to the shared cM project I put the year in the Done column. Anything highlighted in yellow is dad’s side but more information needs to be included, green is same but mum’s side.

Readers: How do you record your matches for DNA from all the websites or do you just use one website?

Letter U challenge

Understanding

Completing the different units for the Diploma of Family History has certainly helped in my understanding of how to research well, how to present that research in an interesting way and how to organize the information I find during my research.

I am starting to better understand some of the DNA data. I am putting together a list of Kit numbers, high cMs and low MCRA that have a relationship to my father as he is the person in my family who I have least about. I would love to find someone within three or four generations to link into his side of the tree. I don’t know who his father was and I only know about two generations back on his mother’s side.

If I find someone close in generations and with a high cM then I will contact them to see where he might fit. I have started sending messages via Ancestry for the close member matches there relating to my father.

Terms

cM – centiMorgan – a measurement used with DNA – the higher the cM, the more DNA you have in common with that person

MCRA – Most Common Recent Ancestor – this is shown as roughly how many generations you are away from the other person – the lower the score the better.

Readers: Please leave a comment about my post or something beginning with U that relates to your family history or your research.

letter U

Letter R challenge

They’re in! They arrived this morning!

Results

My DNA results arrived this morning. Was I surprised with any of the results? Well…. yes I was. Below are the ethnicity results for myself, my mother and my father.

Other regions were:

  • Sue: Europe West, Great Britain, Iberian Peninsula, Europe East, European Jewish and Finland/NW Russia
  • Mum: Scandinavia, Great Britain, Iberian Peninsula and Europe East
  • Dad: Scandinavia, Great Britain, European Jewish, Iberian Peninsula, Europe East and Asia Central

Mum’s and mine were about what I thought they would be – Ireland,  Great Britain and Western Europe.

But the greatest surprise was dad’s results. I thought he would have some Pacific Islander DNA as he is supposedly 1/16th Samoan. Maybe this DNA comes through the Asia Central trace but that is <1% so nearly negligible.

The next thing I did was to upload the raw DNA data to Gedmatch. These are the gedmatch numbers in case one of my readers makes a connection.

  • Sue A702006
  • Dad A380974
  • Mum A141289

The letter A in the front means they were from Ancestry DNA. I have already had someone email me through Ancestry saying her husband, who was adopted, is a match to me but only very small.

Readers: If you have had your DNA done, were there any surprises in your results?