Rocking the Shared Matches on AncestryDNA

This year I planned on spending more time working with my brother’s AncestryDNA results and sharing discoveries here but…

The census analysis I’m doing for James SIMS and his sixteen (16) children for the Rewriting the Biography series is taking a lot more time than I had expected. I normally give myself a break the day after a post is published to look over new matches on AncestryDNA. OK, I admit I find myself checking more often than the day following a post.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about the 6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison and How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes. Since writing those posts not much has changed with the content of the notes or how I use them. But there is one neat Chrome extension I can no longer do without – and I hadn’t heard about it when I wrote the posts in 2016.

A Time-Saving Chrome Extension

MedBetterDNA has an option you can check to “always show Notes” of your matches on AncestryDNA (see link at the end of this post for more information about this extension). All notes made for matches will show on the page you are viewing without your having to click each to open them. You see all your notes! And this simple trick is helping me to feel like a DNA rock star!

Take this match, for example. When she first turned up there was no tree linked to the DNA. She had a public tree which was viewable but it did not have a paternal side. Public trees which you can see do not necessarily have to have the match as the home person or even be the match’s tree.

Shared Matches on AncestryDNA

When I looked at the Shared Matches (SM) with all the notes open, I saw a pattern which indicated the match was coming from a particular line. Right off I could tell she is a paternal match for my brother. I use an emoji of a bride for maternal matches, a groom for paternal matches, and a leaf for Shared Ancestor Hints (SAH). The groom was showing up in many of the notes for the Shared Matches.

1st and 3rd cousin shared matches
Shared 4th cousin matches (1 thru 4)
Shared 4th cousin matches (5 thru 8)
Shared 4th cousin matches (9 thru 13)
  • The first cousin is a paternal match, i.e. points to DEMPSEY or ROOP. There are no shared matches with second cousins. The two 3C matches are cousins who share Alexander CLONCH, who was the grandfather of my paternal grandmother, Myrtle Hazel ROOP.
  • The first two matches in the 4th cousin category have Alexander CLONCH as the MRCA or most recent common ancestor. The next two have William CLONCH and Mary “Polly” DOSS, Alexander’s parents.
  • The next four 4C matches have as MRCA, the CLONCH-DOSS couple or Alexander CLONCH.
  • The next four of five 4C matches have the CLONCH-DOSS couple as the MRCA. One match has no tree and their name is not familiar to me. However, this test has a match with a cousin who also shares the CLONCH-DOSS couple as the MRCA.

There are 22 more predicted 4C shared matches (Possible range: 4th – 6th cousins). Nearly half of these do not include trees and an MRCA has not been determined. Seven have the CLONCH-DOSS couple. One match is a double 4C1R through Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY (parents of William) AND through Levina DOSS (mother of Polly DOSS) – which will make for interesting chromosome comparisons. Four matches are at least 5C1R and have Jeremiah CLAUNCH (father of Dennis) as the MRCA.

Taking a Look at The Big Picture

Viewing the shared matches’ notes at the same time makes this part of “guessing” where the match may be sharing DNA much easier. In this case, I was able to assume she must have a connection to Martha Angeline CLONCH, a daughter of Thomas Eli CLONCH and granddaughter of William CLONCH and Polly DOSS. This may not be obvious from the above notes. I have access to one of Martha Angeline’s descendant’s tests (one of the shared matches above) who is a much higher 3C match to this lady. The Shared Matches he has also point to this area of the family tree.

And Then A Tree Was Linked

Now for the ta-dah moment. Early in July while checking out the DNA matches I noticed the match now had a tree attached. She’s on the first page (top 50 matches) with 60 cMs on 4 segments which made it easy to spot when all notes are open. Skimming through the notes I notice when a match who had No Family Tree or a Private Tree in mention in their notes are now showing an attached family tree. When I viewed the public tree she’d linked to her DNA results I saw it included her paternal side which was missing in the public tree I had viewed.

Cropped screenshot of her tree in the area I suspect the match.

Who did I see as her great-grandfather? Thomas Eli CLONCH, the son of William and Polly and the father of Martha Angeline. Her grandmother Fanny was Martha’s sister. Her great-grandfather Thomas Eli was my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH’s brother.

Can you imagine my excitement [insert genealogy happy dance here] at finding our match is exactly where I thought it would be? I shortened the note to read: 60 cMs 4 segs. 3C1R thru William CLONCH and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS. MRCA found 9 July 2018. Need to follow up with a message.

I sent a message on July 22 including the link to my post, Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What? and received a reply less than 48 hours later followed quickly by a second with her Gedmatch kit number. She matches known cousins descended from the CLONCH-DOSS couple on Gedmatch on chromosomes and segments which can now be attributed to the couple.

We’ve shared a few more messages. She’s given me permission to use her match, without identifying information, as an example. To help others understand how they can use Shared Matches on AncestryDNA – to figure out which part of the family tree the match is coming from or to zoom in on the possible most recent common ancestor.

How This Helps in the Long Run

Rebecca Jane CLONCH is the mother of my paternal grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP.

The fourth cousin shared matches to DNA matches who are related through one of the CLONCH ancestors are going to be the keys to open the doors in several brick walls. Both sets of grandparents of my 2nd great-grandmother Tabitha Ann COOLEY, wife of Alexander CLONCH, are unknown. The father of my 3rd great-grandmother Mary “Polly” DOSS, “wife” of William CLONCH, is also unknown. Matches are also showing up for people who descend from siblings of Dennis CLAUNCH whose mother’s name is unknown.

MedBetterDNA can do more than always show notes. Click here to see more filtering options.

I’d love to hear about the methods you use to help work with your AncestryDNA results. Anything which makes this complicated subject easier is always welcome.

P.S. My apologies to my followers who receive notifications per email. The post was inadvertently published on the day I began writing it instead of the moment I hit the publish button.

© 2018, 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.

34 thoughts on “Rocking the Shared Matches on AncestryDNA”

    1. Hi Debby, there seems to be a problem with the publish button. The article was “published” on July 25 instead of the moment I hit the publish button. New emails are not sent out when this is corrected. 😦


  1. Oops! That page can’t be found.

    It looks like nothing was found at this location. Maybe try a search?

    On Sat, Aug 4, 2018 at 9:14 AM, Opening Doors in Brick Walls wrote:

    > Cathy Meder-Dempsey posted: “This year I planned on spending more time > working with my brother’s AncestryDNA results and sharing discoveries here > but… The census analysis I’m doing for James SIMS and his sixteen (16) > children for the Rewriting the Biography series is taking a lot ” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry, Toni. I appreciate hearing from you. The post was published on the date I began writing it instead of today. I had to fix the date and this changed the link. Emails won’t be sent to correct this. My apologies.


  2. Great post! I also find the Shared Matches invaluable, but I did not know about the “always show Notes” option. I’ll have to look into that. My problem is that my WV (paternal) ancestry is so tangled that I often just put “WV” in my notes. The Skaggs in my tree are related to everybody else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kitty. I know what you mean. My tree may not be as tangled as yours but some of the matches have up to 5 sets of shared ancestors. This makes it hard to figure them out especially without a chromosome browser.


  3. Ah, if I only had AncestryDNA matches that I could find something to write a note about! Either they have no tree (most of them) or they have ancestors that do not overlap with mine (many of them—the curse of endogamy and of Jews not having surnames before about 1800) or they are already known relatives. I look at what you have and am green with envy! Great post—maybe someday I will be able to take advantage of it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have hundreds of matches without trees. This is one of the biggest problems with Ancestry. So many test only for ethnicity and/or are not interested in building their trees or paying for subscriptions.

      If there was a way to filter out paternal matches, my list would probably be similar to yours. My little bride emoji doesn’t get used very often.

      Thank you, Amy.


    1. There are so many little details I’d like to share with matches but it’s hard keeping up with who I told what to without searching through emails. Blogging about it is so much easier as I can use images and refer people to the post. I hope this will help with the project(s) you are working on, Brian. You’re welcome.


  4. Cathy, you didn’t mention the fact that Ancestry helps by letting you search by names in your notes as well as names on matches. I like your methodical approach, but got lost at the beginning because I don’t know how to get and insert emojis in the notes. What have I been missing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vera, Ancestry doesn’t have the ability to search your notes. There are different Chrome extensions which have been developed to do what Ancestry is not willing to add to their AncestryDNA pages. To search notes you need to install the AncestryHelper extension.

      Ancestry only has the ability to search surnames in the trees on the main list of matches as well as on the Shared Matches tab. The second is very helpful when searching for a common surname in the shared matches.

      I use a site called Get Emoji for the emojis. There may be others around as well. I copy/pasted the ones I want to use into Evernote. Once you have a few you often use you can easily copy them from one note (since they are open) to another. I was not using emojis when I wrote the two earlier posts about how I do and use notes.

      Thanks for your comments, Vera.


      1. WEll, duh, I have that extension, and didn’t realize that was where the ability to search notes was coming from. I thought it was Amazon. I need to learn how to use my extensions more efficiently. Thanks for the emoji info, too. I have never used any except those available on FB or my phone.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We get used to having the extensions. I wondered why you said Ancestry let you search the notes. Which reminds me, I need to resume scan on the AncestryDNA Helper. It’s been a while since I ran it. As for using emojis, I find the less the better. Too many kind of defeat the purpose. Some people use them for their surnames – I use CAPITAL letters.


  5. Thanks for the tip on the Chrome extension for AncestryDNA. I’m also liking the use of emojis to illustrate paternal and maternal lines. I will definitely make use of this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I also use this extension to show notes sorting my matches by great grandparents’ surnames. I like the idea of including the number of shared cM and segments in then note so that it always shows up. Great explanations!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nothing I like better than new methodology. What a great way to manage your matches. I went back and read the first two posts as well. I am definitely going to adopt your approach as it is most effective. I just wish the matches would respond to email. I just encountered this last even at a local trad show. The individual did not have a single bit of research completed but told me she was going to have her DNA done first. I asked her how she was going to be able to tell if she’s found a relative and she looked at me very strangely. Do folks really believe that DNA is gong to tell them the names, dates ad locations of all their family?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eileen, I’m afraid this is going to be the major obstacle for all doing DNA and genealogy – people who think doing the DNA test will produce an automatic family tree. I see so many matches without trees.

      I hope the method I use on AncestryDNA will also help you to manage your matches. Thank you for stopping by, reading and commenting.


  8. Thanks yet again for more tips on using Ancestry DNA. Love the icon idea. And, I will also begin mentioning when there is no tree or only a private tree. Can’t wait to share this post with my friend and fellow blogger Debby.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I began adding the information about a tree before Ancestry added the No trees, Unlinked trees, and # of people in tree. It might now seem like an extra step but often a new match will not have a tree and then several weeks later will add one. This way I know it is new and I need to look at it. Appreciate your sharing, Diane. Thank you.


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