Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Using Ancestry Tree Hints for DNA Discoveries

Here's a tip for those who have taken the AncestryDNA test, and are trying to solve a mystery for a particular missing ancestor. If you're part of our Facebook group, you will have already seen this. But it's good enough to bear repeating.

I'm missing both of my biological great grandfathers in my tree, and I've been on the lookout for cousins who could possibly lead me to them. A while back I finally made a really good match to someone who HAS to be related to one of them. How do I know? Because she isn't related to anyone else in the other lines I've already documented. Let's call her Wanda, since that's not her real name.
I made a copy of Wanda's tree to work from, where I've done extensive amounts of descendancy research. Since I don't know who I'm looking for, I had to cast a really wide net. I have spent more time working on Wanda's tree over the past year than I have on my own. I probably know her extended family better than she does at this point.
Because, you know, genealogy is basically asking yourself "Would a stalker do this?"
Then doing that thing anyway.
The benefit of having my own copy of Wanda's tree means I get all the same Ancestry tree hints to her other cousins and relatives. That was how I found one of her maternal cousins, who shares both of Wanda's maternal grandparents. Let's call her Corrie.

This wasn't the first time I've combed through Ancestry tree hints looking for DNA matches. If I find a tree for another descendant, the first thing I'll usually do is click on their profile to see if they've tested. Sometimes I get lucky.

But most of the time, I see this page. 

Either the person hasn't tested, or I'm not related to him or her. Most of the time I'll move on when I see this. But when I saw Corrie's page, I just had to know. Has she really not tested, or are we not related to each other? If Corrie and I weren't related, that meant Wanda and I had to share a match on her paternal side. I would be one step closer to hitting paydirt.

I wrote Corrie a message, asking if she or her relatives had done any DNA testing. Not only had she done testing in her family, but she knew of several other relatives who had. She gave me screen names and kit numbers. I couldn't have asked for better collaboration on this. And I wasn't related to any of them. 
Through one conversation, I was able to eliminate all of Wanda's maternal ancestors as the potential relatives to my grandmothers. It's the biggest leap forward I've made so far, and it was with someone who wasn't even on my match list. Exactly BECAUSE she wasn't on my match list.

With DNA, every person you connect with is a chance for new discovery--whether they're related to you or not. By using Ancestry tree hints for DNA, you could be one step closer to finding your missing relatives.