Showing posts with label #DNA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #DNA. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2019

Trying ThruLines and MyTreeTags

The new Ancestry ThruLines feature is a step forward in understanding how DNA matches *might* fit on a family tree. This feature also suggests "potential ancestors" to add to a tree.

The key is to understand that names, dates, relationships all depend on the accuracy of other people's trees. As with any info found online or provided by someone else, it's up to me to investigate and verify or disprove each potential ancestor and possible DNA match.

Pick Your Ancestor 

ThruLines is arranged by most recent ancestor and stretches back to most distant ancestor. Above, a snippet of the 100 ancestors/"potential ancestors" on my husband's ThruLines page. That makes it easy to investigate links to specific ancestors of interest. I can be as systematic as I like in drilling down into my husband's father's side or mother's side, in a particular generation.

As shown, one of these "potential ancestors" is not marked as male or female, and is actually "private" because he or she is listed on a family tree not made public by the owner.

How Private?

Well, not that private. I blocked out the info, but it was easy to figure out exactly who this "potential ancestor" was and the gender, too, without contacting the owner of the private tree. It was listed in the "private tree" notification above.

To check, I returned to my tree and looked at the outstanding hints for this branch. One second later, I had the details from sources other than the private tree, sources more objective and verifiable. So it actually helped me get a generation back. Unfortunately, there were NO DNA matches associated with this ancestor (nor for the spouse).

And in case I wasn't sure, right next to this "private" "potential ancestor" was listed his wife, Hannah O'Killey. Just in time for St. Paddy's Day, a possible new Irish ancestor to research and confirm.

Interestingly, the person who posted Hannah O'Killey's info on a public tree is NOT a DNA match for my husband, which is a disappointment and raises the question of whether this is an actual ancestor for one or both of us. My husband has no DNA matches through Hannah, according to Ancestry. Hmm.

Finding a Match

To find an actual DNA match in ThruLines, I started at the most recent ancestor and worked my way backward to hubby's great-granddaddy, Thomas Haskell Wood. That's where I finally found two cousins previously unknown to me, each of whom had more than 20 centimorgans in common with my husband.

Although neither of these cousins had anything new on their trees, at least I now know who they are and can be in touch to share info.

For the vast majority of the 100 ancestors on hubby's ThruLines page, Ancestry shows NO DNA matches.

Check Those TreeTags

Working through the ancestors on my own ThruLines page, it quickly became clear that my "potential ancestors" were highly speculative. I noticed suggested ancestors plucked from trees I already knew were not supported by good sources.

Here's where Ancestry's other new feature, MyTreeTags, would be very, very useful.

The idea is to be able to indicate the research status of a particular person on a tree. For instance, I could note that someone is a "hypothesis" (meaning I'm testing whether someone fits, based on DNA or other evidence).

Or I could note someone is "unverified" (meaning I got the info from somewhere but have done nothing to check its accuracy).

After looking, I can see that some of the trees that appear in hints or "potential ancestor" suggestions have inaccurate info and few if any sources other than other trees.

To be helpful, I've contacted tree owners in the past to say, for example, that although my grandma is shown on their tree, it's highly unlikely that she is actually related to the people on their tree. Dates, places, names don't add up, I point out tactfully. I invite them to please look at my tree and the documented evidence that proves who she is. Of course, I can't rule out that maybe there's something I don't know about my grandma?!

Usually I hear nothing, or I get a note saying their tree is a work in progress, with hypotheticals. Or the note says the tree is being built for a friend who had a couple of clues, and my info will be passed along to the friend for consideration. Those trees are often left as is, unfortunately.

As I work on my public trees, I'm going to try to use MyTreeTags to alert others when someone is a hypothesis or unverified, in particular, as a red flag to verify before accepting anything as a fact!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Preview of My Year in Genealogy - 2019

2019

I'm looking forward to a busy and rewarding year of #genealogy challenges, fun, breakthroughs, and connections in 2019.

As mentioned in my previous post, I went happily down the rabbit hole of unexpected family history developments in 2018 (including the very welcome surprise of receiving Farkas Family Tree documents, related to my mother's family, to scan, index, and share with cousins).

That's why I didn't accomplish all I'd planned to do when I previewed my 2018 agenda at the end of last December, so these two items are carried over to 2019.
  • I have two new family memory booklets in the planning stages. One will be about my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Helen Schwartz, 1919-2001). The other will be about my husband's parents (Marian McClure Wood, 1909-1983 and Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986).
  • I was planning more intensive investigations of my DNA matches, beginning with color-coding matches to see who fits where in the family tree. Then I heard about DNA Painter at RootsTech2018. Still, this went to the back burner in 2018. Not sure whether DNA will be a front-burner activity in 2019, but I will follow up the most promising of my DNA matches.
Another "resolution" for 2019 is to continue my genealogy education through attendance at Family Tree Live (London) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (Washington, D.C.). It will be wonderful to meet other genealogy buffs, chat with speakers, and connect with blogging/tweeting friends in person at these conferences. 

Most of all, I am excited about staying in touch with my cousins--perhaps even making contact with cousins I didn't know about. The family tree is alive with leaves representing cousins of all ages, all over the world, connected by our #familyhistory. I am so grateful for you, cousins, sharing what you know about our ancestors and forging new bonds that we hope will endure into the next generation.

--

This "resolutions" post is the final #52Ancestors challenge for 2018. As always, thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for a year of thought-provoking prompts. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Learning at the New York State Family History Conference

Wow, it was a wonderful conference experience yesterday at the New York State Family History Conference, held for the first time in Tarrytown, New York.

Not only did I get to see friends from multiple genealogy clubs and societies around the Northeast, I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best genealogy experts in the business.


My first session of the day was Cherie Bush's New York Records and Resources at FamilySearch.org.


Cherie demonstrated some of FamilySearch's most valuable features and highlighted several record sets that researchers should check for New York-area ancestors. (One record set that appeared in her list was something I need to investigate: Bronx Probate, 1914-1931.)

She also reminded us of smart ways to use the FamilySearch site, especially the super-valuable wiki. Here is her slide about which record sets to check first when researching birth, death, maiden name, and parents. (Cherie invited the audience to photograph any and all slides. Thank you!)
Next, Diahan Southard and David Nicholson presented The Science of Genetic Genealogy. Blaine Bettinger was in the audience, having just finished his session, "Shared Matches and Genetic Networks."

My top takeaway: The software used for matching people is getting much, much more sophisticated. Living DNA is planning to offer matching that will not just show where we are from and who we match, but also how each match relates to us. In essence, the software would automate the match-analysis process that Blaine Bettinger described in his talk. Sounds promising!
After lunch, I snagged a seat in Thomas Jones's session, Genealogical Documentation: The What, Why, Where, and How. He reviewed, in detail, how to develop citations for sources we use in our genealogy research, saying: "Undocumented genealogy is useless because it can't be checked."

Many of us inherited handwritten family trees with no sources, leading to months or years of research for verification. If we properly cite our sources, those who come after us will be able to retrace our steps and also evaluate the quality of the sources we used. The idea is to allow later researchers to build on our work, rather than having to go back and check it over.

Mid-afternoon, a fun highlight was joining other Virtual Genealogical Association members for a group photo outside the exhibit hall. It was a pleasure to meet them in person--many for the first time!
My final session of the day was Judith Herbert's Ancestors of Meager Means and Even Less Fame in 19th Century NYC. She provided an in-depth explanation of why and how to conduct a surname study, with the case study of an ancestor. Very time-consuming, detailed research and analysis technique that can't be used if the name is Smith or Jones (or, as in my husband's case, Wood) because of the unwieldy number of people who would have to be evaluated.

The entire audience laughed when Judith showed a death cert where the spaces for names of father and mother had a dash. Helpful, Judith noted, only if your ancestor's given name was "dash."