My AncestryDNA Circles went missing in mid-January. By mid-February, I was no longer being patient waiting for them to return. I sent a message to Ancestry through their Facebook page and received this in reply:
Thanks for reaching out, Cathy. Unfortunately we are experiencing a delay in Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles populating currently. It is taking several weeks for hints and circles to calculate, but we are working on fixing that so it happens much faster. We are very sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime! While we are working on a fix, please let us know if anything changes on your end or you come across any other issues!
Why did my AncestryDNA Circles go missing?
I know it takes a while for Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles to appear when you link a tree to your AncestryDNA test. There are many different reasons why they don’t show up or why they disappear. In my case, I knew they should be there and they simply weren’t. Personally, I thought a delay in Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles populating was caused by users who changed their trees too often. How much data can Ancestry handle?
I’ve had two different trees attached to the test I manage since June 2016. The first was for only direct ancestors. The second was my full tree and I had linked it in November 2017 in hopes of hearing from more matches.
Between Christmas and the New Year while doing location comparisons I noticed an anomaly. People born in Luxembourg were showing up in Utah and a Maryland born person was in Bermuda. My Susanna FEILEN, born in Germany, was showing up in Louisiana. This sent up a red flag as I don’t have any ancestors born in Utah, Lousiana, or Bermuda.
The places were entered correctly in my tree however on the DNA page they were not the place they should be.
This meant matches were seeing incorrect information in my tree. How could matches take me seriously when there was such a mess showing in the tree linked to the DNA test I manage? Half of our ancestors were born in Europe and many of these were showing up as born in the USA. I suspect (in my opinion) Ancestry was using some kind of location identifier which converted places when the tree was linked to the DNA test.
Hoping it was only a glitch on the AncestryDNA site, I waited a few weeks for it to fix itself. That didn’t happen and in mid-January, I decided to go back to the original tree with only direct ancestors. This fixed the location problem.
While my Shared Ancestors Hints remained the same, my DNA Circles, previously between 28-30, disappeared. I knew by linking a new tree I would reset Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles. It would take a few days for things to get back to normal. I waited and waited.
A month after I linked the tree I still did not have DNA Circles. That’s when I reached out to Ancestry the first time and was told about the delay.
Three weeks later the DNA Circles were still missing and I wrote several more messages to Ancestry. Shared Ancestor Hints were still growing and the missing Circles were taking far too long, in my opinion, to populate. I suspected my tree was just stuck in some kind of never-never-land and asked if perhaps by linking it again the problem might be solved.
We’re very sorry for the delay Cathy. We do not advise to unlink and relink your tree since this will remove any shared ancestor hints and it may take time to populate them again (if they are following all the requirements).
At this point, I was not a happy Ancestry client. I knew other people were complaining and I let Ancestry know my dissatisfaction. I was given a free month’s subscription to be taken when I wish. This is appreciated but I would much rather have my Circles back.
Our developers are aware of issues with the DNA circles and are working to get them out of beta. Until such time, there will be irregularities with their behavior. We apologize for this and ask for your patience and understanding.
What I did to get my missing DNA Circles back
Earlier this month I went through each of my Shared Ancestor Hints and added the information to the Notes available for matches. I added SAH and the information about the relationship and the ancestor. I also included an emoji leaf 🍃. At the same time, I also added emojis for paternal 🤵 and maternal 👰 matches.
My patience had run out. I was preparing to do what Ancestry said I should not do.
I finished adding notes to all of the 412 matches with Shared Ancestry Hints on Thursday evening. Then I went into Settings and clicked on the X to unlink the tree. I waited 3 seconds and linked the same tree again.
Over the weekend I did not have time to check on AncestryDNA. On Monday morning I found 23 DNA Circles!
My re-linking the same tree triggered the change I was hoping for. My DNA Circles are back after nearly three months and my Shared Ancestor Hints did not disappear. Nine new ones came in over the weekend when they normally just trickle in one at a time.
Please take note that Ancestry does not recommend unlinking and linking your tree again. I took the chance and it worked. Perhaps Ancestry got the problem fixed at the same time I risked losing my Shared Ancestor Hints in favor of the DNA Circles.
Making the first contact with a DNA match has us running the gamut of emotions from excitement at finding the match to the disappointment of there being no tree. From the joy of hearing back to the exasperation of never receiving a reply. From the frustrations of the trying to explain your need to use a chromosome browser to evaluate the match to the delight of making contact with cousins who are ready to work with you.
I have tried different approaches in writing messages to DNA matches on Ancestry. Keeping them short, giving more or less information, asking right out to upload to GEDmatch, sending my email in the subject line, including links to articles on my blog about shared ancestors, etc. The number of persons who reply is very low. The list of reasons for this is too long to go into.
So I’ve decided to use my blog to write to my cousins. I will continue to write short messages and include a link to this post. The instructions are up to date – I tried them out while writing. If anything changes, I can fix them and won’t have to copy/paste and re-write instructions I have been sending in messages or emails.
We have a DNA match, now what? Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and getting back to me. AncestryDNA does not offer a chromosome browser. I find the best solution to be GEDmatch.
GEDmatch provides DNA and genealogical analysis tools for amateur and professional researchers and genealogists. Most tools are free, but we do provide some premium tools for users who wish to help support us with contributions. You will need to upload DNA and / or genealogical (GEDCOM) data to make use of the tools here. Registration requires your name, email and a password of your choice.
Did you notice in the quote that MOST TOOLS ARE FREE? Yes, there are some premium tools which require payment but the chromosome browsers we are lacking on AncestryDNA are on GEDmatch and FREE.
Would you please consider transferring your raw DNA to GEDmatch? Here are the latest instructions: [If you already have your GEDmatch kit number, scroll down to Thank you to continue reading.]
Fill out the form per instructions and click on Register.
Download raw DNA file
The next step would be to download your raw DNA from Ancestry. If you haven’t done this before:
On your AncestryDNA page in the upper right hand corner click on Settings. On the right is a Download RAW DNA Data button.
You will be prompted to enter your Ancestry password and check the box showing you understand Ancestry is not responsible for the file they are sending you. Click Confirm.
As soon as you click Confirm a window will open advising you that they are sending an email to proceed with the download. It may take up to 5 minutes for the email to come in.
The email has a Confirm Data Download button. Be sure to make a note of where you save the file on your computer. The request expires after 7 days or after the first use.
Upload raw DNA file
Login to GEDmatch. Click on Generic Upload FAST on the right side under File Uploads. Fill out the form and upload the file without unzipping it.
(If you are a Mac user the file may have been unzipped during download. As a Mac user, you are likely aware of this and know the procedure to get it zipped. The zipped file may be in the Trash.)
It doesn’t take long to upload the file but the processing on site may take a day or two. This means you will NOT be able to use all features right away. A one-to-one compare will work before processing is finished. To try this one out, compare your kit to one I manage: A131214. Please email your number to me as I won’t see you’ve been added until it’s completely processed. If our match is lower than my top 2000 matches it will not show on my list but I can still do comparisons with your number.
What else can you do?
While you are waiting for your kit to tokenize (GEDmatch lingo) consider exporting a GEDCOM from your genealogy software and uploading it to GEDmatch. Using genealogy software allows you to export as many or as few individuals in your tree as you need.
If you have a tree on Ancestry you can export your family tree data, as a GEDCOM file, to your computer via Trees > Create & Manage Trees > Manage Tree > right side > Export Tree.
When you click on either of the versions to upload a GEDCOM file to GEDmatch you will find some suggestions pertaining to the file. The most important thing to remember is that the GEDCOM will be public and viewable to all persons who have access to the GEDmatch site. For this reason, it is recommended that you privatize living individuals prior to uploading.
You’ve uploaded the raw DNA and your GEDCOM file (optional, but so very valuable to your matches) to GEDmatch. On the homepage, there are some things which will be useful to you.
User Lookup : This lets you check by kit number, GEDCOM number, or email address to get more information on a person using GEDmatch.
GEDCOM + DNA Matches : This will generate a list of all persons who match you (or whoever’s kit # you search) and who have a GEDCOM file attached to their kit. This is practical as you won’t have to use the User Lookup to check each kit to see if they have a GEDCOM file. Closest DNA matches are at the top of the list.
One-to-many matches : as soon as your kit is processed you will be able to check all matches to your kit. It will generate a list limited to the first 2000 matches with the closest matches at the top. When you do this the table will have some boxes in the first column (kit #) highlighted in different shades of green. The darkest are new matches. As time goes by the color gets lighter and finally turns white. In the column GED/WikiTree you will find links to a match’s GEDCOM file or WikiTree. The Select column allows you to choose 3 or more kits for further comparison. Click on the Submit button at the top in the text area for additional display and processing options.
People who match one or both of 2 kits : When you check your kit and another kit with this tool it will give a list of all matches shared by both at the top, followed by a list of all kits who match the first and not the second, followed by a list of all kits who match the second and not the first. I check all the boxes (of the people who share), submit, and then use 2-D Chromosome Browser to view the matching segments on the chromosomes. This helps to narrow down the matches both kits have to others on the same chromosome segment. As chromosomes are two-sided further analysis is needed to determine if the matches are paternal or maternal.
This is not a complete list of what you can do on GEDmatch but the most useful in the beginning. DNA is a complicated subject when you are new to it. Take it slowly and one day, after you have read something for the 3rd, 5th, 10th time it will sink in and seem EASY.
Thank you, cousin, for taking the time to read this. If you already have your AncestryDNA on GEDmatch please send me your kit number. Usernames on Ancestry do not always match up with the name or alias used on GEDmatch.
If you decide to upload your raw DNA to GEDmatch, I will do a one-to-one compare between our two kits as soon as I know your kit number. Then I’ll add the chromosome information to Genome Mate Pro (GMP), the program I use to keep track of all matches and to map chromosomes. I can then assign the segment(s) we share to the Most Recent Common Ancestor(s) (MRCA) and Voilà!
I will have our shared segment(s) in living color on my chromosome map and can use them to assist with other matches on the same segment. In turn, if we don’t know who our MRCA is, the other matches on the same segment will aid in the analysis.
There are also other possibilities: FTDNA and MyHeritage will accept uploads of raw DNA from AncestryDNA and they both have chromosome browsers. It would be very much appreciated if you choose to upload your raw DNA to any of these sites. But if you don’t feel comfortable doing this I will understand and we can continue working together, using the tools available on AncestryDNA (Shared Matches, Circles, Map and Locations, Pedigree and Surnames).
Last year my brother had his DNA tested and turned the results over to me. As I write these last articles on my maternal 4th great-grandparents, I will be checking his matches to see if any hold the key to open a door in a brick wall on this side of the family tree. These brick walls being mostly descendants of my maternal ancestors who have not been traced mainly due to emigration.
I have been waiting impatiently to write about this couple, Wilhelm WILTINGER and Margaretha WELTER. This is what I know about their lives and where I found information which has not all been documented.
Where the Information Was Found
Wilhelm WILTINGER and Margaretha WELTER of Ernzen, Germany, were my 4th great-grandparents. The bits and pieces I have for them come mostly from Familienbuch 2 der Pfarrei St. Marcus Ernzen bei Irrel, Daten bis 1798 aus den Kirchenbüchern der Pfarrei Echternach (damals fur Ernzen zuständig); mit: Ernzen-Hof, Fölkenbach und teilweise auch Prümzurlay (Häuser der rechten Flußseite) 1680-1899 – such a long title for the family book of the town of Ernzen and environs. I call it simply FB Ernzen.
Church records are available online at FamilySearch for Ernzen up to 1797 as it was then part of the parish of Echternach in Luxembourg. Civil records for births from about 1798 to 1907, marriages from 1798 to 1937, and deaths from 1798 to 1987 are not online. Although a short 20 minutes drive from where I live, the Kreisarchiv in Bitburg, Germany, houses these records. Tentative plans are being made to visit the archives with my genealogy society Luxracines next spring.
From WILTINGER to WILDINGER
Wilhelm WILTINGER was born about 1770 in Ettelbrück, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. He was the son of Michel WILTINGER and Margaretha DIESBURG of Ettelbrück. These two “facts” were likely taken from his 1849 death record. As he died in Ernzen, this record will have to be obtained from the archives in Bitburg. I am hoping the person who took the information off of the death record may have made an error in noting both parents were from Ettelbrück.
I have tried to shed more light on Wilhelm’s parents. I am inclined to think Margaretha DIESBURG was not originally from Ettelbrück. My guess is she is from the DIESBURG line which originated on Diesburgerhof near Ferschweiler, the next village over from Ernzen. I found a child with the same name born in 1744 who would be a perfect match. Her family group is recorded in the FB Ferschweiler and I found her in the 1766 census living with one of her married sisters. She was not yet married. This leaves me with a four year period from 1766-1770 when Michel and Margaretha could have met and married. But where? Marriages in Luxembourg have been indexed for the time period and I have tried all variations of the names without locating a marriage. It has crossed my mind that a different surname may have been used by the groom, i.e. a house name.
As for Wilhelm’s father I have searched all available GEDCOM files online to find persons with the WILDINGER name – the spelling which has been used in my family from 1798 to present. It is my mother’s maiden name. The only hits I get on the Luxracines website (members only access to GEDCOMs) are my own file. I am beginning to suspect that while my ancestor’s name may have been WILTINGER and changed to WILDINGER, the original surname may have evolved to the more common and widespread WILDANGER. Most were found in the Girst and Dickweiler area and spread out to Echternach. These are all in Luxembourg.
For now Michel WILTINGER and Margaretha DIESBURG, the parents of Wilhelm WILTINGER will remain a brick wall. A more time consuming one-name study of the WILDANGER individuals in Luxembourg and the nearby German area may the only way to solve this brick wall. Or could DNA also be part of the solution.
The WELTER line
Margaretha WELTER was the daughter of Michael WELTER and Katharina KLEIN. Michael and Katharina married in Ernzen on 22 November 1764.
They had not yet had any children when the 1766 census was taken. Their names were spelled Michel and Catherine and they were living in a KLEIN household.
Their first child was born the year the census was enumerated, followed by a set of twins in 1768, a son in 1770, another set of twins in 1773, and finally their youngest in 1777. Both sets of twins were a boy and a girl.
Margaretha was their youngest, born and baptized on 18 April 1777 in Ernzen (present-day Germany). Her godparents were Margaretha KLEIN and Nicolaus HUSS, both of Ernzen.
A Marriage Before 1798?
Margaretha married Wilhelm WILTINGER before 1798. The marriage is estimated from the time their first known child was born. No marriage record has been found. Church and civil records were checked in Ettelbrück and Echternach to no avail.
Wilhelm and Margaretha had the following children, all born in Ernzen:
Nicolas born on 29 September 1798.
Elisabeth born on 21 August 1805.
Franciscus “Franz” born on 6 Aug 1810. He died on 8 December 1812 in Ernzen.
Bernardus born on 12 May 1813.
The only daughter Elisabeth married Dominik WEBER (1803-1840), son of Johann WEBER and Katharina PETRI of Hoesdorf, on 13 December 1831 in Ernzen. Hoesdorf (Luxembourgish: Héischdref) is a village in the commune of Reisdorf, in eastern Luxembourg.
Margaretha WELTER, the mother of Nicolas, Elisabeth, and Bernard, died on 8 January 1833 in Ernzen. Her oldest son Nicolas was 35 years old and still single. Her youngest son Bernard was going on 20. Her daughter Elizabeth had been married a little more than a year.
On 12 October 1833, nine months after the death of her mother, Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, a daughter Maria. She chose her brother Nicolas to be the godfather. Maria THEIS of Hoesdorf was the godmother.
My third great-grandparents, Nicolas WILDINGER and Catherine SCHRAMEN married on 18 January 1834 in Ferschweiler. Catherine was the daughter of Michael SCHRAMEN and Elizabeth SCHMITT. She was born on 23 October 1812 in Ferschweiler and was baptized the next day. Their story can be found here: 52 Ancestors: #42 The WILDINGER-SCHRAMEN Family of Ferschweiler .
Elisabeth’s husband Dominik WEBER died on 9 May 1840 in Ernzen and was buried two days later. He left Elisabeth with four children.
Wilhelm WILTINGER, likely now using the WILDINGER spelling, died on 28 September 1849 in Ernzen and was buried two days later.
Where Are the Children?
Wilhelm’s death came at a time when many were thinking about moving across the newly established border to Luxembourg or even further abroad, to America. Elisabeth’s brother-in-law Theodor JARDIN went to America with all of his living children after the death of his wife Katharina WELTER, sister of Dominik, in 1855. Elisabeth and her brother Bernard had been close to the JARDIN family, both being godparents to JARDIN children.
Elisabeth WILDINGER was 53 years old and had been widowed seventeen years when she obtained an Auswanderungsgenehmigung (emigration approval) on 9 October 1857 for herself and her two children, Mathias, born on 10 November 1840, and Maria, born on 12 October 1833. The petition was admitted to the hearing without a stamp due to poverty. Elisabeth made her mark on the petition.
There is no mention of where the family immigrated to or of the other two children, Anna Katharina born 1835 or Theodor born in 1838. However….
Richard Schaffner was not the first to compile a family book for the parish of Ernzen. A copy of Familienbuch Ernzen 1 (1823-1900) is in the parish of Ernzen according to Schaffner. He does not mention the compiler’s name. In the entry for Elisabeth WILDINGER in Schaffner’s version, he notes on page 45 of the first book the following information was found: “Die Witwe Elis. Weber zog im Jahr 1857 mit ihren 4 Kindern und ihrem Bruder Bernard Wildinger nach Nordamerika.” The widow Elisabeth WEBER moved in the year 1857 with her four children and her brother Bernard Wildinger to North America.
Early on I searched for Elisabeth and her brother Bernard WILDINGER in the USA but never found either of them or her WEBER children. Perhaps they went to Canada or Mexico. Not having experience with these countries I left this research problem for another day.
My third great-grandparents Catherine SCHRAMEN and Nicolas WILDINGER had five children born between 1835 and 1852. Catherine died on 2 November 1869 in Ferschweiler and was buried on 4 November 1869. Four and a half years later Nicolas, the only child of Wilhem WILTINGER and Margaretha WELTER to remain in Germany, died on 3 June 1874 in Ferschweiler. They left three living children, two of whom have been traced. All that was known of their youngest son Peter is that he fled from military service – “militärflüchtig laut Anzeiger z. Amtsbl. Trier 1873, Seite 243.”
Let’s Talk About DNA
As mentioned earlier I now manage my brother’s DNA. As our mother is from Luxembourg (and all of her ancestry is centered in this tiny area) the DNA we share with her is either not getting many matches or is difficult to find within the thousands of matches showing on AncestryDNA.
There are several ways to sort matches on AncestryDNA. The most obvious (easiest) are those who have matching ancestors in their trees followed by matching surnames. Many users have private trees. When you search for a surname, matches with private trees will turn up in the list but you cannot access to the information and therefore do not know who their ancestor is with the surname.
Even today searching for the WILDINGER surname on AncestryDNA turns up zero hits. Checking the box to Include similar surnames is not helpful as it turns up too many matches. I tried the known spellings and still had no results.
Then in April 2017, a match was found which looked promising.
This predicted 4th cousin match showed PETERS as a shared surname. My Peters line is not a German line. There were no Shared matches with this person. Shared matches are only listed up to 4th cousins.
Clicking on Location I found he had a WEBER ancestor from Ernzen. This is not one of my ancestral surnames and at the time I was not expecting a match to a family on our maternal side. Taking a closer look at the attached tree I realized the connection could be WELDINGER on his tree. A spelling I had not tried.
Predicted 4th cousin is a 4C1R
The year of birth for the daughter of the WEBER-WELDINGER couple in the pedigree chart above is 1818. My 3rd great-grand aunt Elisabeth WILDINGER was born in 1805 and would have been only 13 when this child was born. Even with this error, it looked promising as the husband’s name matched that of Elisabeth’s husband and the location fit.
I got to do US research – checking census, BMD, etc. – and found Elisabeth WILDINGER had emigrated to America before 1860. She was living in Berwick in Seneca County, Ohio, with her married daughter Catherine in 1860. She was listed with the surname WEAVER. Her daughter was only 24, born abt. 1835, and a good match for the child seen in the pedigree chart above with year of birth being 1818. Although she was still living, I have not found Elisabeth in the 1870 or 1880 census. She died on 10 March 1891 in Big Spring, Seneca County, Ohio, at the age of 86 years.
Two of her children were also found. Catherine, who was the ancestor of the match with my brother, and her younger brother Mathias. I have not found the older daughter Maria or the son Theodor nor have I found the immigration records. I entered this match’s line back to my WILDINGER ancestor into the tree I have attached to my brother’s DNA.
This was done only after confirming this match’s line back to my WILDINGER ancestor. The tree has only the direct ancestors – no siblings, children, etc. I am considering the pros and cons of adding each confirmed match’s line back to the MRCA (most recent common ancestor). This tree includes sources but I have not attached records from Ancestry. I don’t usually work with it and have not considered the hints (shaky leaves) that are showing up.
2nd Great-Grand Uncle Discovered
However while entering this match’s line, I took the time to check the hints for Ancestry Member Trees. I was surprised to find Wilhelm WILTINGER and Margaretha WELTER’s grandson Peter WILDINGER through their son Nicolas (my third great-grandfather) in four trees. All four had my Nicolas as the earliest known ancestor. No mention of Wilhelm and Margaretha. One member tree has for Peter: “Killed in WWI Action on the German Lines” in 1873. That is not what I would call a reliable statement.
The other three member trees are for a Peter WELDINGER who married in Illinois, had children there, and later moved to Iowa. The 1900, 1910, and 1920 census show he came to America in 1870 and was naturalized in 1880 (U.S. Naturalization Record confirms 30 October 1880). If this Peter WELDINGER is my second great-granduncle (there is presently no match or the owner/descendant has not done a test) then he must have fled from military service by emigrating to America.
Another DNA discovery was made as several new matches showed up when I did a new search for the locations Ernzen and Ferschweiler while writing this. I will have to work through these first but it looks promising as one of them may be the key to unlock the door in the DIESBURG brick wall.
Sources:  Richard Schaffner, compiler, Familienbuch 2 der Pfarrei St. Marcus Ernzen bei Irrel, Daten bis 1798 aus den Kirchenbüchern der Pfarrei Echternach (damals fur Ernzen zuständig); mit: Ernzen-Hof, Fölkenbach und teilweise auch Prümzurlay (Häuser der rechten Flußseite) 1680-1899 (compiled in 2000), p. 246, Family #869. Wiltinger-Welter.  Richard Schaffner, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Sancta Lucia Ferschweiler mit: Diesburgerhof (ab 1803) und L(a)eisenhof (ab1830) 1680-1899, PDF (Kordel, 1999), p. 43-44, Family #193. Diesburg-Schmitt.  Luxembourg, Dénombrement, 1766 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Archives Générales du Royaume, Bruxelles), Decanat de Bittbourg v. 1 A-K > Feischveiler (paroisse d’Echternach) > Image 250 of 753. Household Nr. 13, Mathias Petri. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLL-M7DK-Y?i=249&cat=1184675 : accessed 6 October 2017).  Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Echternach > Mariages, décès 1706-1778 > image 145 of 293. 1764 Marriage Record, right page, 1st entry. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32399-12418-50?cc=2037955 : 9 January 2015).  Luxembourg 1766 Census, Decanat de Bittbourg v. 1 A-K > Erntzen (paroisse d’Echternach) > Image 245 of 753. Household Nr. 7, Jean Klein (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLL-M7DL-W?cat=1184675 : accessed 6 October 2017).  FB Ernzen, p. 240, Family #846. Welter-Klein.  Luxembourg Church Records, Echternach > Baptêmes 1761-1797 > image 83 of 131. 1777 Baptismal Record, left page, 7th entry. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32399-12819-27?cc=2037955 : accessed 9 November 2016).  FB Ernzen, p. 246, Family #869. Wiltinger-Welter.  Ibid., p. 225, Family #800. Weber-Wildinger.  FB Ferschweiler, p. 349, Family #1625. Wildinger-Schramen.  Ibid., p. 295, Family #1378. Schramen-Schmitt.  FB Ernzen, p. 117-118, Family #380. Jardin-Welter.  Josef Mergen, Die Amerika-Auswanderung aus dem Kreis Bitburg im 19.-Jahrhundert  “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F6CM-WJX : accessed 5 October 2017), Elizabeth Weaver, 10 Mar 1891; citing Death, Big Spring, Seneca, Ohio, United States, source ID v 4 p 216, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 388,771.
Last week I wrote about the six things I include in the notes on AncestryDNA for each of my brother’s DNA matches. With matches for hundreds of 4th cousins or closer and thousands of distant cousins on AncestryDNA, I needed a simple but efficient method of working through and sorting his matches.
As you can imagine I don’t have notes for every match. There are so many matches with no trees attached and I have become choosy about which ones I add notes to. Close matches and shared matches have priority.
When I’m on the results page or viewing shared matches I click on the notes icon to open up the information I have on the match. There is no need to go through several clicks to get to the information as described in my post last week.
When I’m viewing Shared Matches and they don’t have notes, I take a moment to add the cMs/segs and the other 5 things I add to notes when accessible.
Chrome and AncestryDNA Helper
Although Google Chrome isn’t my default browser I’ve added it to my list of tools along with the web browser extension AncestryDNA Helper. It adds extra functionality to the AncestryDNA site. A warning if you are not familiar with this extension. There are known issues of the extension not always working. Very often I have to close the browser and open it again to get the extension to work. This workaround, as well as several others, are mentioned here: Welcome To AncestryDNA Helper Extension Website
The extension has a feature which allows you to search for users, surnames, and notes. I use it to manage my notes. For sorting through my DNA matches, in Chrome, I click on View all Matches. The search box feature (circled in yellow above), found above Ancestry’s filters for Hints, New, and Starred, is what I use search the text in all notes.
I can search for surnames in the notes, messages sent, or kit numbers. When I search for the term cMs a complete list of all matches with notes is generated. This is the consistency I mentioned in my post last week. Each match has different notes but cMs is the one word which is used in all notes.
The success rate of contacting matches through Ancestry’s message service has been low for me! I would like for people who share DNA with my brother to upload their raw DNA to GEDmatch so that I can use the tools on the site to compare the results. While I wait, this is the method I use for working through and sorting my brother’s DNA matches.
How are you sorting through your DNA matches? Have you been more successful getting replies to messages? Please leave a comment below. I would appreciate your feedback. Thanks!
With matches for hundreds of 4th cousins or closer and thousands of distant cousins on AncestryDNA, I needed a simple but efficient method of working through and sorting my brother’s DNA matches. A spreadsheet in Excel was not an option as I wanted something I could refer to while on site.
Reducing the Clicks on AncestryDNA
To find out more about an AncestryDNA match you have to click on View Match.
This takes you to a new page with your match’s name, ethnicity, predicted relationship, and DNA Circle connections (when available) at the top.
To see the amount of Shared DNA you click on the little i.
At this point, to avoid having to repeatedly go through these extra clicks, I add the following information to Add note. The note, limited to 500 characters, can be added to each match.
1. Amount of Shared DNA
The first item I include is the amount of shared DNA. I shorten “245 centimorgans shared across 10 DNA segments” to “245 cMs 10 segs.” Consistency is important as will be seen in my follow-up post next week.
2. Proven or Assumed Relationships
If I can determine the relationship to the match I add, for example, 2C1R instead of 2nd cousin once removed, and the common ancestor(s).
In this example, H.L. had a public tree (not a tree attached to her DNA) with 7 people. By checking the Shared Matches and the tiny tree I was able to figure out the relationship. There were 51 shared matches – two 2nd cousins, three 3rd cousins, and 46 4th cousins. Many had scanty trees, no family trees, or private trees. The top shared matches suggested a Dempsey connection, a name seen for 2 of the 7 persons in H.L.’s tree.
3. Match’s Member Profile
I administer my brother’s DNA results and have access and editing rights to a more distant cousin’s DNA. He is in the 5th-8th cousins range and does not show up on the Shared Matches which is only available to the 4th cousin level. Ancestry has a feature which shows matches to tests you administer or have editing rights to. Click on the match’s name to View Member Profile. Below the profile photo and description is a box titled AncestryDNA.
I have not had my DNA tested and therefore this person is not on my DNA Match list. But when I click on your the two tests I have rights to can be checked. Surprisingly, in this example, both tests I admin are matches to H.L. This does not mean all three match the same ancestor.
I add to the note that there is possibly another connection. My brother’s match to H.L. may include DNA from our paternal grandmother’s side through the CLONCH or DOSS lines as well as DNA from our paternal grandfather’s side.
4. Date Message Was Sent/Received
When I contact a match I include the date the message was sent in the note. As replies or queries come in I note the date a message is received.
5. Date Results Were Viewed
If a match doesn’t have a tree or it is private, I make a note of this with the date viewed. This way if a tree is added later I will know it hasn’t been checked.
6. Match Name and Kit Numbers
If the match has shared his/her name, GEDmatch and/or FamilyTreeDna kit numbers, I include these in the note.
“We 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.
After 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.
One 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 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.
G. 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 disappears 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!
In the twenty-four years of doing genealogy I’ve learned to not take other researchers’ information for granted without retracing their work. I knew this fairly early on and when reviewing my database I still find branches of the family tree which need pruning and a bit or a lot of support.
For the CLONCH line I relied heavily on Ralph Hayes’ genealogy work as a guide. I gave him credit for information I quoted and was not able to corroborate through my own research. In time I was able to confirm much of his work but questions have remained.
One of these was the parentage of Dennis CLONCH, a twelve years old boy living in the same household as Nancy CLONCH, widow of Dennis CLAUNCH (spelling of the surname changed after his death). Someone at some time thought his parents were John CLONCH and Elizabeth DOSS. In a timeline frame this just didn’t work for me.
It is my belief he was the son of John’s brother William CLONCH and his wife Ann Eliza HILL. Dennis CLONCH aka Dennis HILL was not mentioned in the will of William CLONCH which may have lead an earlier researcher to assume he was the son of John CLONCH, John being the only other known male CLONCH in the area during this time period. The CLONCH families in Mason County, West Virginia, were all descendants of Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY through their sons, William CLONCH and John CLONCH. They also had two daughters whose children passed on the husbands’ surnames, not the CLONCH name.
When I received the results of my brother’s DNA test at Ancestry I first looked at the closest matches. I searched for surname matches. Nothing new showed up so I began looking deeper into the more distant matches to help with some of my brick walls.
One of my brick walls is John COOLEY b. 1827 in Missouri. During this period of time ALL of my American ancestors were in Old Virginia. I searched for matches with ancestors in Missouri and found a match in the Distant Cousin range with the Missouri location but not for the COOLEY surname. You get the gist of this. I was all over the place, grasping at straws.
Although I wouldn’t suggest this method of searching through DNA results, it turned up, by accident or coincidence, a match with R.S., an Ancestry member with a small tree of 15 people. In the tree was R.S.’s great-grandfather Albert Henry HILL born 11 September 1876 in Missouri. He did not have parents but the year and place of birth was a match for Albert seen in Dennis HILL’s household in Saline County, Missouri, in 1880. This was before I began going over the HILL (line), before I wrote The Mysterious Ann Eliza HILL, wife of William CLONCH, and the two posts which followed.
Is the date of birth seen in the Dennis Hill family Bible enough proof?
If R.S.’s Albert Henry HILL was the son of Dennis HILL and Dennis was the son of my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH, then R.S. and my brother would be (half) 4th cousins (being descendants of William’s two relationships). The 6.5 cMs shared DNA (across 1 segment) fits in the relationship range fourth cousins once removed or third cousins three times removed. I know less than 7 cMs is not considered reliable – only about 5% of matches in this area may have a common ancestor. R.S. has no shared matches with any of my brother’s matches. I was stumped until I learned Ancestry does not show shared matches for persons who share at the Distant Cousin level. They only show shared matches up to fourth cousins.
There are at least a dozen people who descend from Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY who have tested and have matches with my brother. I need to:
request access to their DNA results on Ancestry or
ask them to check their matches for R.S. as a distant cousin or
request they upload their results to GEDMatch for comparison.
When my brother’s DNA results came in I waited a few weeks before I began reaching out to his matches. R.S. quickly replied but was a bit wary of my theory pertaining to his Albert Henry HILL being the son of Dennis HILL aka Dennis CLONCH. I fully understood his hesitation to not accept everything I was telling him as fact. Our contact is touch and go. Ancestry messaging from the DNA page didn’t work. My email provider was blocked by his and I had to use a different email account. His computer was fried and had to be rebuilt.
While trying to keep in touch with R.S. I began checking out the CLONCH matches. Some I messaged back in June and others this past week. So far only one person has gotten back to me. Since I have done a lot of reverse genealogy for the CLONCH line I already had many of the matches’ lines at least partly documented. These are the ones who had trees or who I recognized.
Now the waiting begins….
Since making contact with the matches is taking longer than I expected it may be a while before we can test Ralph’s (just joking) theory about Dennis being the son of the milkman. Or even begin thinking about DNA giving us proof Dennis HILL was the son of William CLONCH and Ann Eliza HILL or the son of Ann Eliza HILL and another man or the son of an unknown child of Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY.
It’s a bit frustrating to have to wait but I’m going to look on the bright side. While working on the paper trail for Ann Eliza HILL and Dennis HILL, I found a bible transcription and an obituary, and located the married children of Dennis HILL. I don’t give up easily when doing genealogy research. In this case finding a living descendant of Dennis’ son Albert – with a DNA match to my brother – pushed me find more or was it genetic memory?
Will DNA help in getting around the Hill? I’ll keep you posted on any new developments.