Ancestry DNA Review (Part 1)

Have you tried out Ancestry DNA?

If you follow my babbles at all, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of syncing my database to Ancestry. I LOVE, but I’m not all for a direct link between MY work, MY time, MY images… and this world of I’m just old skool in that way, I suppose. It seems a fight I’m about to lose, and certainly did when I decided to submit my DNA.

The idea of DNA research is Not a new one. But like this technology of laptops and tablets, so much has changed in such a short span of time. I had my father submit his DNA 8yrs ago to a company which I’ll not mention here, just in the beginnings of these databases, back when female DNA couldn’t be tested. And the results were absolutely “scientific”, meaning ME, just a woman in the world, had no idea how to read the results. It was literally a DNA result likened to what you’d see off a CSI TV show with markers and spikes and who knows what of what. Absolutely pointless to the real-world individual, and extremely pricey.

Fast forward 8yrs and Ancestry has their own DNA submission, hopefully tied to your online tree (hello synching your world to Ancestry) and despite the privacy policies, which are not as long as they should be… I was actually able to READ their entire privacy policy… I’m more than terrified and skeptical.

Yet, I did it.

Because I bought in to it. Upload your database, get “hints” to your online tree and the bazillion available records… and now, link your DNA with other users. It’s the stuff commercials are made for, and if it pans out, will be absolutely remarkable.

So I bought the kit, gathered up my saliva (with my 4yr old watching who thought it was Hysterical) and sent it off for testing. The email returned with a sad, “will take 4-6 weeks for processing”, and then another email not 2weeks later that my results were available.

Two thoughts here: either Ancestry scientists are doing a shoddy job, OR, This Rocks Beyond Belief. 2 weeks… really? Fantastic.

Except… there wasn’t a manual of What To Do Now. I had to google exactly that.. “ancestry dna what do I do now”

Watch this webinar on What do to now and what it all means. And I have to give kudos to their trainer who really did a great job at this lengthy webinar.



Results are two-fold, Ancestry Ethnicity and Matches.

The webinar and clearly the majority of the focus is on the Ethnicity, and the pretty charts they can build for you. Personally I could care less about this. Yay for 75% Middle-European broken-down by category. No surprises there, if you’ve done any research in to your family, you should have an inking of where you come from.

If this is news to you, then you’ll be part of that marketing category they were hoping for where the synopsis of your Ethnicity is immediately in your face in different colors.

#2: Matches.

You get Matched with other Ancestry submissions (not what I was expecting, but after watching the webinar, makes sense on what information Ancestry CAN provide to you). It does NOT give you a list of names you are connected to. It only gives you Other Individuals, so don’t be surprised.

And now the research begins.


I’m honest here… these are my results (all blurried-out for you). Notice in top left that I have 270 PAGES of results…. which will take forever to get through, but YAY!

The filters at the top; you can find those with “hints” (meaning you have a *Hinted* ancestral connection between the two trees that you’ve uploaded), New, and Starred (those that you want to find easy… you get to Star your own results)

And I had a few 3rd cousins immediately. All of which were no surprise, but good to know.


But once I got to page 3, I found the “distant cousins”… for the remaining 266 pages, ranging in Confidence: Moderate, to Confidence: Low


What does this mean?

Before I’d watched the webinar, which I still highly recommend, it took me a long time to realize what I was looking at… especially those that have no ancestry hint.

Let’s take a 4th cousin, for example.

4th cousin means we share a ggGrandparent. Those that had an online tree to trace, it was lovely to see that in your face, the comparison of two trees.


In a few hours time, researching matches that DID have an ancestral tie in their lie… I found *Hinted* DNA proof that my grandparents were correct, and so on (two of us who have matching DNA have the same names in our database).

Or at least that’s how I take it.Me and that random cousin both say we’re connected to George Dekle, DNA says we are “cousins” and they linked our tree… that tells me that everyone in that tree is actually correct (for ancestry at least, not necessarily details of dates and such) and that’s HUGE!

No surprises. No unexpected parentages, or better put, no Lack of parentages. Yes, I’m connected to George Dekle, so the women in my line Did propagate with their husband on record and not the mailman. Good to know!

And as I looked through all these matches, I found 80% of my direct families seem correct.. so far. I’ve got two main families that have no other DNA submitter to attest to the correctness, but 80% is A Lot.


But for those who do not have an online tree which matches for a 4th cousin…What does that mean?
I have 27 4th cousins with no Tree matches.

And so the research starts. We share a ggGrandparent, yet we have no names that match.
So, send your Message and start connecting. Find out what you’re missing.

Once you get to “distant cousins”, obviously the search will be more and more difficult, but same idea… find the holes in your research and WHY you’re cousins that you’re unaware of.

I’m not going to omit those with Confidence:Low, but those will certainly not be priority. I was amazed at how many with Confidence: Low that had trees connected… were correct. So, there’s something correct in Ancestry’s matrix. Not going to throw them out yet, but not going to work on 266 pages for now. I’ll start with the first 4.

That’s 27 users that are connected to my ggGrandparent. And I have MANY women out there with no names. Jeshua Bowen (not a real person) married “Amy”. Well, who in the heck is Amy? Likely one of those 27 4th cousins I’m connected to. We just need to figure out how THEIR tree relates to this name that I’m missing in my database.

ggGrandparents is nearly 200+ years ago and there are MANY ggGrandparents that I do not have perfected yet.. mostly women.

It’s going to take time.

And IF I”m lucky that the “cousin” wants to research with me, we’ll find the answers.


A few things to note about the DNA results and what I’ve learned from the webinar:

#1 Results are on your DNA Direct Matches.
This took me a lot of rounding out in my thoughts. I don’t want to be connected to someone’s Aunt. NO! These results are DIRECT lines. If the two are you connected, it’s because you’re Connected through a grandparent… somewhere, might be 1000yrs back.

Even if it’s 5 generations through women, it’s still direct. Don’t get lost in the females – they are as Direct as the men, even if the surnames aren’t yours!

#2 – the “Surnames shared” listed on the page of comparisons… these are names shared between your online databases. And if you’re like me, you have tons of spouses.. and probably spousal lines. I have 5K in my database related to my son’s father’s line.

So just because we “Share Surnames” doesn’t necessarily mean that those surnames are MINE, because I have 25K people in my database. Don’t let that skew you. I had to fight with this for a while. I kept looking up the LEWIS name, and it always ended up back at my Ex’s family. Well, that’s because his family is in my database.

I’m connected to the Cousin through MY DNA, but the Surnames shared might be any names in our respective database.


Wrapping up…

I’m a fan.
Anything that is not a DNA print out with markers and Points is awesome to me. It wasn’t a list of names I’m connected to, but I’m sure Ancestry will get there eventually. For now, it gave me Strong Indicators (as close to proof as I think we’ll get) that so many of my lines are correct… and correct Way Back Generations, which makes me proud of my work and proud of the work of those ahead of me that were so generous to share.

No Surprises is a huge one! I AM, actually, all those Surnames I thought I was.

So do it! $100 bucks and synching to your site (and we can talk more about how that’s not kosher, but for another time). I’m not a fan of Walmart in the same way, yet I shop there. Big Brother has a way of dragging you in, even begrudgingly, because the results are undeniable.

And let me know how it goes. I keep this as “Part 1” because I’m sure I’ll have a part 2.

originally posted on GenealogyLoops, May 17 2014


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