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


Cleaning of the Database (pt2) – Rootsweb and Ancestry

I have a new love – Rootsweb (my database) and my PAF software, two windows on my screen. Oh, a whole new world for cleaning the database.

I am not a big fan of Family Tree Maker. I have it, of course. And it’s connection to my membership is handy. Sometimes. Still, I really prefer my Personal Ancestral File from LDS. It’s FREE. It’s Easy. And it works just the same as Ancestry Family Tree, which I’m still depressed that they discontinued. Btw, is that for real? Does anyone know if it’s Really, Truly gone? Cause I can’t find it on the web any longer.

Enyhoo… Ancestry has it’s place. It does. While I’d rather not pay for genealogical information, it’s not a soap-box I’m willing to rant about tonight.

So… My new favorite thing….
I upload my database to Rootsweb. Instead of having 10,000 pages on my personal website, it just makes more sense to have a link to a free family tree… Rootsweb is by far my favorite.

Rootsweb is also tied in with Ancestry, so each individual listing – if Ancestry can find it – gives you search results to Ancestry throughout the Rootsweb database.

This is the best help for cleaning up the database!
I open one window with MY database on Rootsweb. Which has the links to Ancestry.
And then another window of my PAF database.

I can look right at my notes and sources on my rootsweb pages, find oddities, old information, and of course, Ancestry links… and update in my PAF at the same time. It’s So much easier than having to click on the Sources and Notes for each individual person – not sure what I’m going to find – cause Rootsweb has it all listed right there.

Of course this means that I’ve been uploading new databases to Rootsweb every day this week.
But… I don’t have a job. And the baby is still taking two naps a day. I have time 🙂

If you have an ancestry membership and upload to Rootsweb, this is, so far, the easiest way that I’ve found to start with cleaning the database. It’s at least showing me the weak links, and immediate connections to cleaning up Notes and Sources. Ooh… I’ve got a long list to build on. But you’ve gotta start somewhere.

Online Resources – We Relate

In an attempt to learn more about FREE online genealogical resources, I picked up the latest Family Tree Magazine, which lists 101 Best Free Websites for Tracing Your Roots. The list is divided into regional sections and different genealogical resources. Some are clear: Rootsweb, USGenWeb, for example; sites I already use profusely. I might get around to writing a review of those sites one of these days.

For now, I’m exploring (and registering) with sites I’ve never seen visited before.

This is not a full review. Please do not treat it as such. These are simply MY opinions, upon first visiting the sites.

We Relate
Taken from the website: “WeRelate is a free public-service wiki for genealogy sponsored by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy in partnership with the Allen County Public Library. It is the world’s largest genealogy wiki with pages for over 1,800,000 people and growing. WeRelate is currently in beta. It is supported by volunteers and your tax-deductible donations.”

On first glance, this appears to be an invaluable genealogical resource. I created my account, Thefamilyorchard (as always) and ran a few simple searches.
LOOPS, is always the first (as it is MY surname, and often one that does not have a lot of information).

Immediately came 2 results: both pertaining to Frederick Loops (who remains “unknown” to most of the world) and his marriage to Kate Cromartie. This was from a gedcom uploaded from “dougcouch” who is “watching” his submissions. Apparently this means, IF I make changes to his uploaded information, he will be sent an email clarifying that thefamilyorchard made an update to his page.
Essentially, we are working together on the same tree.

Immediately, I love this idea. We are working together, to fulfill one online tree. I was able to click on “unknown Loops” and change the information to Frederick, his vital information, and his parents. This is Great!

I will need to play around with this site in great detail when I have more time, to see how this unification of ONE online tree really works. Because you can upload your own gedcom, I’m not confident how duplicates are removed – is that even possible? A quick search into LOVEALL proved there are many duplicates. So…. I’m not encouraged.

Another difficulty is that the available upload is only 5,000 people. I don’t know about you, but I have 20K more than 5,ooo people in my database. I’ll have to find a solution to this – perhaps uploading multiple gedcoms for individual families?

All in all, I’m off to a great start playing with We Relate. We will see how it continues and I will certainly keep you updated on my experience as it unfolds.

What I Do

I picked this up from Geneabloggers. Read here for more information and to see what other Geneabloggers do.

This is a GREAT idea to share what we need to accomplish the research we perform. I have already learned so much from others! I am not listing much on my virus protection, just simply because I don’t want it to be TOO easy to be hacked. If you’re curious about how to protect your computer, leave me a comment and I’ll respond.

* Hardware:
ACER Aspire Laptop
Custom built Tower
2 Dell flatscreen monitors
Netgear Wireless Router

* External storage:
320G external drive (Costco, $99)
Various USB flash drives of different sizes

* Online storage: Picasa photos. No online storage

* Backup: DOS script twice daily backup

* Firewall: not telling 🙂

* Virus protection: not telling 🙂

* Spyware: Adaware, Spybot

* File cleaner: Various

* Printer: HP Photosmart

* Phone: Samsung (an oldie). I don’t need emails and daily feeds to my phone yet. I’m easy enough to find 🙂

* Mobile media: iPod Nano

* Music player: WinAmp, iTunes, Windows Media Player, accordingly

* Car audio: Stock

* eBook Reader:None. Me like books with paper and no batteries

* Browser:Mozilla Firefox

* Blog:Blogger

* RSS:None

* FTP:Dreamweaver, CuteFTP, accordingly

* Text editor: NotePad, MS Office, Email

* Graphics: Photoshop, Picasa

* Screen capture: Print Screen + Paste (into Paint)

* Social media: Facebook

* Social bookmarking:None

* Social profile:None

* URL shortener: tinyURL

* Office suite: 2007 Pro (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access). And yes, I use them all. yeesh!

* E-mail: Outlook, Yahoo!, Gmail

* Calendar: Outlook

* Accounting: Excel

* PDF generator: MS Office, Photoshop

* Genealogy database: Personal Ancestry File 5.2.18, Family Tree Maker, various online trees

* Genealogy tools: Maps, Books, Journals, Clerks of Court, various online Genealogical society submissions

* Other tech stuff: That’s about all she wrote. I use what I need; haven’t found a need for a lot of the high-tech gadgets yet.