Don’t Ignore New Ancestor Discoveries

NewAncestorDiscoveries2We found potential new ancestors—just by looking at your DNA.

A month after my brother’s AncestryDNA results came in I started seeing New Ancestor Discoveries. These are potential new ancestors or relatives who are not already in the attached family tree on the DNA page.

I found this a bit misleading until I realized what we can do with these “shaky leaves” from Ancestry.

The first one to pop up was for the Alexander McDonald Boles DNA Circle. It had 15 members and 3 had DNA matches with my brother. I say “had” because after a few weeks it disappeared.

However, before it disappeared the Mary Ann Burks DNA Circle showed up with nearly the same members as the Boles circle. At first, I was stumped by the names Mary Ann BURKS and Alexander McDonald BOLES. They could hardly be potential new ancestors as they were born around 1852, a time period in which all my ancestors are known and well documented.

In the Mary Ann Burks DNA Circle are 13 members, 3 of these have matches with my brother. One match belongs to a larger family group of 10 persons – none of the others in this group match my brother.

NewAncestorDiscoveries3After taking a look at the trees of L. and G., two of the matches, I discovered the connection. The Alexander McDonald Boles DNA Circle had shown up because he was the father of Mary Ann BURKS’ children – but they were not married.

NewAncestorDiscoveries1One of their children, J.P. “Hard” BURKS, has been in my database for a dozen years. He was married to Susie REELS, daughter of Isaac “Ike” REELS and Margaret Ann WEAVER. Because I do a lot of collateral research the surname REELS was familiar to me and I knew right away where this was taking me.

Genealogy Happy Dance

In 2004 and 2007 I corresponded with David, a descendant (2nd great-grandson) of Ike REELS through his son Millard Green REELS.

At the time I was part of a group of PETERS researchers working together under the guidance of Paula Kelley Ward who has been doing genealogy for over 40 years. We have her to thank for the work she did on Jordan N. PETERS’ War of 1812 pension file.

When David first contacted me we were not certain if the wife of Andrew REEL, Susannah PETERS, was a daughter of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah “Keziah” LIVELY of Franklin County, Virginia. Born about 1815 she was the right age to be their youngest daughter. However, at the time there were two groups of PETERS families in Franklin County which further complicated matters. One of English ancestry (ours) and the other being of German ancestry. By process of elimination, we determined Susannah had to be the daughter of my 4th great-grandparents, Zach and Keziah.

I needed more than finding the REEL/REELS surname in the families trees of these people who have matches with my brother. When I checked the Shared Matches I found L. and my brother had 4 shared matches – 3 of these have very small or no family trees attached. The 4th has 6 DNA Circle connections with my brother which point to the PETERS family.

ancestorcirclesG. has two shared matches with my brother. One of these has a private tree but since our PETERS group had worked on the collateral lines I recognized her as a descendant of my Jordan N. PETERS through his first wife Mary “Polly” TROUP. As her tree is private she is not in the DNA Circles.

I believe these DNA matches are further proof of the connection between Susannah PETERS, wife of Andrew REEL, and her until now assumed parents, Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah “Keziah” LIVELY. I contacted David, L., and G. about my discovery and am waiting to hear back from them.

Don’t wait to check out your New Ancestor Discoveries. Take a good look at them as soon as they appear because they might disappear as quickly as they showed up. If a circle does disappear and you didn’t have time to look into it, don’t despair. It may show up again. While I was finishing up this post the Alexander McDonald Boles DNA Circle reappeared!


© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.












Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

9 thoughts on “Don’t Ignore New Ancestor Discoveries”

  1. Thanks so much, Cathy. I just checked my database. I remember receiving all the REEL/REELS family information in 2005 from Dave Chasteen, whose contact information I’ve lost. I don’t remember how he found me, but he was positive that Susannah Peters was his ancestor and sent me his family information. I admit I was doubtful, and now I am really happy that you’ve been able to show that Susannah was definitely a daughter of Zachariah Peters and Kesiah Lively connection. Thank you for looking so carefully at the DNA results.

    Maybe we’ll eventually find Zachariah’s parents through DNA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find Zachariah’s parents? We Peters descendants are thankful to you for hiring the researchers to gather all the information on the Peters in Amherst County. This reminds me I need to check in with a man who contacted me a year or two ago about his Peters line and the possibility of a connection. I’ll keep you posted. Thank you Paula!


    1. Amy, I am in a DNA group with focus on adopted persons. It is huge and I had to turn off notifications because it was taking over my newsfeed on Facebook.
      Anyway they have people attaching trees to DNA results with non-documented lines. I would have to check again but I believe at least three people have to match DNA and have the same ancestor to form a circle.
      You can become part of a New Ancestor Discovery group if you match DNA with at least three people in the circle of the Ancestor. If one of these three leave the circle (by changing their tree) then you no longer have enough matches to keep the new discovery.
      In this case the ancestor who disappeared had a non-marital relationship with the other discovered ancestor.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OK, I think I get it. It works differently with 23andme and FTDNA, but then there really is no connection between the DNA results and anyone’s tree. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. With Ancestry the trees are only as reliable as the research. It is nice to see the possibilities but I know I have to go through the entire paper trail to be sure the match to an ancestor is for the correct line. I think a lot in numbers and realize that each generation back the number of possibilities is doubled. Ex. 4C = 1 of 32 ancestors, 5C = 1 of 64, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

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