Are you having issues with Ancestry’s DNA portal? About a week ago I received an email with a notice stating that I have three new matches. However, when I try to access them, I keep getting the above message. Hmmm….sure hoping it resolves soon. I’m trying to be patient!
While I didn’t learn anything new from my newly found cousin (I was able to fill in quite a few holes in her family tree), I did learn a bit more about DNA testing. Ancestry had stated with 95% assumed accuracy that we are 4th-6th cousins. However, after comparing notes, we learned my 9th great grandfather, Philip Stanwood, was our common ancestor. To put this in perspective, Philip was likely born in the first half of the 17th century, having been a fence-viewer in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1648, and was deceased 7 August 1672.
Given the science of inheritance, it is really quite fascinating that I was matched to my 10th cousin!
Family trees are full of mysteries. The one thing we can be sure that we know is that there is a lot that we DON’T know! :-) That’s a good reason to have a DNA test done. Hopefully it will help link us to others who DO know something about lines we are researching. Sometimes, instead of providing answers, DNA testing presents more questions. Yesterday jq1517 posted the following comment in response to My (free) Ancestry.com DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA:
I looked at my results yesterday but was disappointed that my pedigree ethnicity was so different than my genetic ethnicity, enough to think perhaps there is a problem with my results. For instance, my results state that my genetic ethnicity is 91% British Isles, 6% Russian/Persian/Turkish, and 3% Other. This does not match my pedigree. My pedigree on both sides of parents is predominantly French, as most of my ancestors were French colonists of Canada, Acadia, and Louisiana. Out of the nearly 3,000 people in my family tree, I have none that are from the Russian/Persian/Turkish part of the world… that was a total surprise…
I can relate to his questions. I also had questions about my original autosomal DNA results through FTDNA. As mentioned in my earlier post, there were discrepancies on my grandmother’s paternal line. My grandmother was 17 when her father died. Four years later, she documented her family tree in my mother’s baby book, shown above. Here she documented Ernest’s birth place in Clarke County, Wisconsin. However, as “Grammer” aged, her account of her father’s heritage changed, adamantly stating Ernest was a half-sibling to his older brothers and his sister, having been born in South Dakota to a Native American. This simply did not seem plausible based on census records, what Ernest wrote on numerous documents for his own place of birth, and what my grandmother documented in Mom’s baby book when her memory would not have been influenced time and other factors. My grandmother stated there was a “cover up” in the family as it was not popular at that time to be Native American. I would be more inclined to give credence to this story if my grandmother had maintained it throughout her life. However, that is not the case, and now two DNA tests also refute the Native American myth in my family lines.
It is possible, however, that jq1517 has a bit of “covering up” going on his family tree. People remarry. People have affairs. Fathers raise children that are not their own. Sometimes the fathers don’t always know they are raising someone else’s biological child. Another scenario: I have a friend who was adopted and has met her birth mother, but has strong reason to believe that her adoptive father is actually birth father. (Hopefully one day she will complete DNA testing to confirm whether or not she has biological ties with her adoptive father’s family.) There are many, many explanations for why DNA testing reveals ethnicity that conflicts with our research.
The disadvantages of autosomal testing and my “wish list”
While autosomal DNA testing provides more opportunities for us to match with cousins, I’ve also found it quite challenging as times as it provides NO CLUE as to which side of your family you may be connected to potential cousins. This is especially true with more distant matches, as one has to research back many, many generations to find the common ancestor. To assist in this process, on my “wish list” for Ancestry.com (and FTDNA) is the ability to filter for event places. For example, last night I was reviewing the family trees of several of my potential matches on Ancestry.com, and after considerable time found we both have ancestors from Eden (now Bar Harbor), Maine, a likely place for a connection. In Ancestry, when viewing trees of your potential matches you can see the places of birth and death for individuals in the trees, where entered. However, wouldn’t it be neat to be able to see an indexed list of places for events of those listed in the tree? Instead of scanning the tree only for common surnames, one could also look at the places in the tree. It could easily reduce the time involved searching larger trees, if, for example, you saw your potential cousin had a great-great grandmother born in say, Penobscot County, Maine, and you know your great grandmother was born there in Bangor? With one click you could be taken to a list of individuals with events in Penobscot, thereby focusing your search into common geographic areas.
What’s on your wish list for DNA testing?
It seems like an eternity ago I received an email from Ancestry.com offering me a free autosomal DNA test. (Still don’t know why I was selected…were all Ancestry.com subscribers offered the free DNA testing or only their most neurotic users that spend most of their non-working, waking hours searching family history?) I immediately signed up, and shortly thereafter received my DNA kit, swabbed my cheek, sent it back and have been waiting.
This afternoon I received an email from Ancestry letting me know the results are finally in. I’ve been especially curious to see how they compare to FamilyTree DNA, which I took a couple years ago. So far, I’m very impressed with Ancestry.com’s very user-friendly interface.
Shown above is the graph of my 10-generation ancestry. No surprises there – my English, German and Norwegian roots are well represented, and it’s a second confirmation through DNA studies that my family has no Native American ties. (Near the end of her life my grandmother had insisted her father’s mother was Native American, but all records, as well as her own earlier notes, showed he was the product of Welch New England ancestors.)
I was especially curious to see how many close matches I would have through Ancestry’s DNA. I started off with five close matches (potential 4th-6th cousins) and 80 more distant cousins. Unfortunately, none of my close matches have yet linked their Ancestry trees with their DNA results, so I will have to be patient a bit longer. :-)
When viewing your DNA matches through Ancestry.com, you can filter matches by ethnicity. If I only wish to see those who also have Central European ties, I can click a link to see potential cousins. Of course, some of these cousins may also have other matching ethnicities, but it is one way of reducing the list of matches if you are wishing to search for potential cousins by geographic location.
When clicking on one of the matches, I’m given a comparison of ethnicity with the potential cousin:
I will be anxious for my close matches to connect to their results to their trees. Ancestry.com has made it really simple to identify surnames in common with your matches. Here’s a screenshot that shows the tree and surnames displayed for another distant match:
While I don’t have any new leads or other earth-shattering discoveries on Day 1 of receipt of my Ancestry.com DNA results, I am very impressed with the user interface, the ability to view connected family trees, and the ease in which one can filter results. I am hopeful that Ancestry’s DNA database will grow, resulting in new leads and connections with cousins, and that FamilyTreeDNA may learn from Ancestry.com’s design to make their own user portal a bit more user-friendly.