Several weeks ago, I blogged about the ethnic analysis I received from Ancestry DNA. The second part of the analysis is a comparison of your DNA with the DNA of other people who have submitted their DNA to Ancestry. The end result of that analysis is a listing of trees that contain people who have a DNA chain that matches yours. As I looked at my matches, I had 4 third cousins, 94 4th cousins, and 112 pages of 5th to 8th cousins. I was also the member of 2 DNA Circles. A circle is a group of individuals, at least 3, who share a common ancestor.
So what did I find? The two circles I was were in the John M. Hannah Circle and the Charity Mears Circle (my great, great grandfather and grandmother). Those in the circle were descended from their two sons—John Wesley Hannah and George Newell Hannah. I really did not learn much from these circles as all these folks were already in my tree. I will, however, contact the person to created the tree.
All those cousins were a little daunting and overwhelming. Also frustrating, because some people’s DNA is not linked to a tree or the tree is not available publically. You can sort your matches in various ways: relationship, hint, or new. If possible, Ancestry will identify the common ancestor. You know that because there is a leaf (Hint) next to the tree. I had 25 people with hints. I have not looked at all of them in detail, but 20 of them are for people who are my 5th to 8th cousins. For the several I did look at it appears that many of them come from Massachusetts and my Richards line while other come from my McKee line. Because I have access to their trees, I could use the information and added it to my tree.
For matches that have no hint, and that is the vast majority of matches, Ancestry gives you the tree
and the surnames that you have in common. I have not very little success with that. I suspect that you need great patience and an intimate knowledge of all the surnames in your tree. You can have ancestry tell you the shared ancestors you share and the locations of all the ancestors in both trees. Let me show you how that might work. I have a match with a family I will call M. We share the surnames Smith, Allen, While and Scott. However, the people with those surnames do not match and from my perspective do not seem to be related. When I asked for the locations, we had ancestors in common that was equally baffeling. However, when I looked at who we shared matches with, the light was beginning to dawn. Several of those shared matches led back to John M. Hannah and Charity Mears. So given that information, I at least now know what route to pursue, if I choose to.
It seems to me that how well this works for a person depends on how many other people who are related to you have submitted their DNA to Ancestry. I also think it hinges on what you find most interesting in genealogy. Many people want to have as many people as possible in their tree. In fact I have a match with someone with over 16000 people in their tree. I am more interested in having fewer people and knowing more about them and their lives, e.g. where they lived, what they did, where they went to school, etc. In a couple of months, I will let you know how I am coming with my DNA.