How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back

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.

This is how Susanna FEILEN’s birth location is in my tree on Ancestry.

The places were entered correctly in my tree however on the DNA page they were not the place they should be.

This is how Susanna’s birthplace was seen in my tree on the AncestryDNA page.

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.

Now I am going to go in and tag all of the matches who are in the Circles and make a note of the people who are in the Circles but don’t share DNA with the test I manage. Just in case they disappear again.

You may also wish to read the following DNA related posts:

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Hannah

An autosomal DNA match with a distant cousin with the surname Landrum in their family tree had me looking into the parentage and ancestors of my 4th great-grandmother Margaret “Patsy” Landrum who married William Dempsey in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1799.

Patsy was the orphan daughter of James Landrum who was mentioned in the will of his mother Elizabeth Landrum in 1755.1

Elizabeth Landrum’s last will and testament was written on 22 October 1755 and presented to be recorded on 18 November 1755. The executors/administrators’ bond followed the will and was dated 18 November 1755. A condition of the bond was the inventory and appraisal of the estate. The inventory ordered on 18 November 1755 was recorded on 16 December 1755.

1755 Appraisal and Inventory of the Estate of Elizabeth Landrum of St. Anne’s Parish in Essex County, Virginia

Inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum (part 1)

The inventory included one Negro woman called Hannah and valued at £20.2

Inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum (part 2)

Hannah, the enslaved woman mentioned in this inventory, was not mentioned in the estate of Samuel Landrum who predeceased his wife Elizabeth in 1750. He did not leave a will and his wife was the administratrix of his estate.3 An appraisement and inventory of the estate was duly recorded and did not include any enslaved persons. One-third of the estate was allotted to the widow.4

Samuel Landrum predeceased his mother Mary Landrum who wrote a will after his death in which she mentioned his being deceased.5 Neither the will nor the inventory ordered to be made included slaves.6

Samuel’s father James Landrum died about 1739 leaving a last will and testament which included the names of two enslaved persons. Their names were shared in Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Willobey and Plimoth.

Samuel did not receive a slave from his father which makes me believe Hannah may have been acquired by Elizabeth after the death of her husband  Samuel. Another possibility being that Elizabeth inherited Hannah from her parents. Unfortunately, at this time, the maiden name and parentage of Elizabeth Landrum are not known.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 77, image 473 of 519. Last will and testament of Elizabeth Landrum dated 22 October 1755, presented and recorded on 18 November 1755. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 81 and 82, images 475 and 476 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  3.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 385, image 215 of 519. Administrators’ Bond for the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  4.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 397-399, images 221-222 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  5.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, page 310, image 315 of 539. Last will and testament of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  6.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, pages 322-323, images 327-328 of 539. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What?

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.

Running the gamut of emotions…

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.

Dear Cousin,

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.]

Register with GEDmatch

To use GEDmatch you need to register for the site. The link is https://www.gedmatch.com/login1.php

GEDmatch screenshot

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.

AncestryDNA screenshot

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.

AncestryDNA screenshot

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.

AncestryDNA screenshot

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.

Screenshot courtesy of GEDmatch

(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.)

Meanwhile…

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:  (see the kit number in my message to you). 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.

Screenshot courtesy of GEDmatch

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!

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!

 

Cropped view of the Segment Map generated by Genome Mate Pro

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).

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me and I will do my best to help. While we are on the subject, the following articles may be worthwhile to you for managing your DNA results on AncestryDNA:
6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison and
How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mary, Isaac, Charles, and John

I’m rewriting the biography of my ancestor James Sims. The first set of documents being perused are the census. As I study the pre-1850 census listings of my 5th great-grandfather and his children, I’m paying close attention to ALL persons in the households including enslaved persons.

James Sims was known to have had slaves. They were featured in my three-part series on the slaves of James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015. Today on the anniversary of these posts, I would like to feature four more enslaved persons found in a Sims household.

RELEASING Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John

James’ oldest son Jeremiah Sims had three colored persons in his household in Clark County, Ohio, in 1820.1 The headings of the columns are nearly impossible to read and do not match up with the census extraction form for 1820.2 There are too few columns for Slaves and Free Colored Persons. On the page with Jeremiah’s entry, there are two columns with the numbers 2 and 1 – separated by a double line. Could this be to distinguish the number of slaves from free colored persons? Or male from female? The ages and gender of these persons cannot be obtained from the sheet due to the lack of columns. Who are these people?

1820 U.S. Federal Census, Ohio, Clark, German Township, Jeremiah Sims

The answer may lie in the history of Ohio. Slavery was abolished in Ohio by the state’s original constitution when it was formed in 1803. Jeremiah did not settle in Ohio until about 1804. The 1810 census for Ohio with the exception of the county of Washington is lost. This means no record of Jeremiah having slaves in 1810. Who could these people be and were they free or enslaved?

Jeremiah Sims’ Relationship to Thomas Milhollin

Jeremiah was married to Sarah Milhollin, daughter of Thomas Milhollin and Jane McClintic, on 26 November 1800.3 Her mother Jane died about 1801 and her father was living at the time Jeremiah and Sarah went to Ohio around 1804. When did Thomas Milhollin die? Did he own slaves? Did he leave a will?

The Will and Codicil

The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin
The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin

The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin dated 21 September 1818 was witnessed by Charles Cameron and Charles L. Francisco.4 It was probated in Bath County, Virginia, in the December Court 1818. Executors were Charles Cameron, Robert Kincaid, and Charles L. Francisco. Thomas made the following bequests:

  • All private property (except slaves) to be sold together with the gristmill, sawmill and everything pertaining thereto
  • To daughter Mary all other lands adjoining part sold, with the gristmill, sawmill, and everything pertaining thereto. Daughter Mary to pay executors $200 within two years
  • To Mary featherbed and furniture already claimed by her, all cow beasts claimed by her, falling leaf table and small trunk
  • To son Thomas all other lands, including the part he lives on, son Thomas to pay executors $300 within two years
  • Executors to pay $100 each to sons William and Patrick and to daughter Elizabeth
  • To daughter Sarah $500 “this I give her in compliance with a promise made at the request of her mother”
  • Executors to pay son William $100 to be applied in schooling a son of Mary Akeman’s (now Mary Hoover) which son Andrew was said to be a child of my son Patrick, on condition of the mother’s consent and the child being bound to son William
  • (see Bequest Concerning Slaves below)
  • Balance to daughters Sarah and Margaret and to John Milhollin, a natural son of daughter Esther, dec, who now lives with my brother Patrick Milhollin

Codicil to the will: two tracts being purchased from John Bollar are also to be sold. Dated 8 November 1818 and witnessed by Charles and Rachel Cameron.

The Inventory

The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin
The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin

The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin was submitted on 18 December 1818 by Adam Givin, Charles Cameron, B. Thomson, and Alexander McClintic.5 It included the following items: cart, farm implements, tools, kitchen furniture, saddle and saddle bags and pair of stillards, household furniture, shoemakers tools, gun and shot pouch, old books, wearing apparel, hemp, rye, broke flax, barrels, still, 2 axle tres, oats, wheat, corn, 5 stacks of hay, 13 hogs, 3 horses, 19 cattle, and Negroes named Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John.

Section in the inventory with the names of the enslaved persons

In the middle of page 233 we find:

1 Negro Woman named Kate 150.00
1 negro boy named Isaac 500.00
1 negro boy named Charles 400.00
1 negro boy named John 250.00

The Sale of the Estate

The Sale of the Estate of Thomas Milhollin

The sale of the estate was on 8 December 1818.6 Three pages of items with the names of the buyers and the price they paid. The enslaved persons were not sold.

A Bequest Concerning Slaves

Thomas Milhollin made the following bequest in his last will and testament concerning the slaves found in his inventory.

As it is my desire that my slaves to wit. Kate and her three children Isaac, Charles, and John, should not be retained in Slavery after my decease I will and direct that my daughter Mary and my son Thomas out of the legacies left them do furnish my said slaves Kate and her three children with two suits of strong new cloths and with money necessary for conveying them to the state of Ohio and that my said son Thomas carry them there and deliver them to my son-in-law Jeremiah Sims and that said Jeremiah Sims bind the said Isaac, Charles, and John to learn some trade agreeable to the Laws of that commonwealth until they severally arrive to the age of twenty one years, at which time it is my will that they be free and that the said Jeremiah Sims have and enjoy the services of the said Kate until her residence there under the laws of that state and my will now intitle her to her freedom and also should it be necessary upon the introduction of my said slaves into the State of Ohio to pay any tax to the commonwealth it is my will that the said Jeremiah Sims pay the same out of the legacies left by me to his wife Sarah.

The three children were to be bound to Jeremiah Sims to learn a trade until the age of 21, then freed. Kate was to work for Jeremiah Sims until freed under the laws of Ohio.

1820 U.S. Federal Census, Ohio, Clark, German Township, Jeremiah Sims

On the 1820 census, three persons of color were in the Sims household in Germantown in Clark County, Ohio. Were they the three sons of Kate? Two sons and Kate? Was Kate living in a different household? Had Isaac already reached the age of 21 and freed?

By 1830 Jeremiah was deceased and his widow Sarah had her own household with 2 sons and a daughter. Next door was her son William. Her oldest son Thomas who had married in 1822 has not been located in 1830. Sarah and William did not have slaves or free colored persons in their household.

Is it possible Jeremiah Sims, who died in 1824, left a will including bequests concerning the young men bound to him?

The Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims

On 8 January 1824, Jeremiah Sims wrote his last will and testament.7 No mention was made of slaves. There was, however, a codicil to the will.

Codicil to the Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims

I, Jeremiah Sims, do further add this codicil to my last will and testament, that is to say, it is my will that the two coulered boys living in my family to wit Charles and John shall be bound out at the discretion of my executors aforesaid. Witness my hand and seal to this day above written (8 January 1818). Jeremiah Sims
Saul Henkle
John Callison
James Callison

By 1824, it would appear that Isaac had reached the age of 21 or for some other reason was no longer living in the family of Jeremiah Sims. Charles and John had likely not yet reached the age of 21.

Jeremiah Sims did not include surnames for the two young men living in his family. What surname or surnames did Kate, Isaac, Charles, and John choose to use? Did they remain in Clark County, or even in Ohio?

This was written in hopes of the names of Kate and her sons Isaac, Charles, and John being familiar to a descendant searching for them.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_88, image 33, page 18, Ohio, Clark, Green, German, image 3 of 3, line 41. Jeremiah Sims (ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  2. Ancestry.com, U.S. Census Forms, 1820 census, https://c.mfcreative.com/pdf/trees/charts/1820.pdf 
  3. Eliza Warwick Wise, Bath County Marriage Bonds and Ministers Returns 1791-1853 (Bath County Historical Society, Inc. 1978). 
  4. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Bath Will Books, Vol 1-3, 1791-1830; Vol 2, pages 229-232, images 439-440 of 746. Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). 
  5. Ibid., pages 232-233, images 440-441 of 746. Inventory of Estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). 
  6.  Ibid., pages 236-238, images 442-443 of 746. Sale of the estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). 
  7. “Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998,” (index and images), Ancestry.com, citing original data from Ohio County, District and Probate Courts,, Clark Wills, Vol A1, 1819-1835; Vol 2, 1835-1855, p 94-96, images 56-57 of 565. 1824 Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Sims and Codicil. (Ancestry.com : accessed 26 February 2018). 

How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes

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.

A note opened on the results page

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

AncestryDNA Helper Extension Update: March 13, 2018. First volume of new User Guide by Bob Pittman, Installation and Scanning

Search box feature in Chrome’s AncestryDNA Helper extension

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.

In this example, the search feature generated a complete list of all notes which include the name William Henderson Dempsey.

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!

bestwishescathy1

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

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6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison

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.

ancestrydna1
AncestryDNA Results for my brother A.D.

This takes you to a new page with your match’s name, ethnicity, predicted relationship, and DNA Circle connections (when available) at the top.

ancestrydna2
Match’s DNA Profile

To see the amount of Shared DNA you click on the little i.

ancestrydna3
Amount of Shared DNA

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.

ancestrydna42. 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).

ancestrydna5
Check Shared Matches

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.

ancestrydna8
AncestryDNA box on Member Profile page

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.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite use of the notes feature. What information do you include in your notes on AncestryDNA? Next week I’ll share how I use the notes on AncestryDNA and how I manage them.

bestwishescathy1

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

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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!

bestwishescathy1

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

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Look Who’s Using DNA for Genealogy Research

In mid-March I received this message from one of my siblings:

Just wanted to let you know that I ordered a DNA kit from ancestry.com. I will send you the results when I get them. Hopefully it will be useful in your research.

When his results came in late May he sent me this message and screenshot:

Hope this doesn’t mess up your research too much.

ethnicityI thought he was holding out on me, waiting to let me know only after he came to visit for Mom’s 80th birthday. But the results truly did not come in until early morning of the day he was to arrive in Luxembourg.

He turned administration over to me as he thought I would know better what to do with the test results as he does not do genealogy.

I haven’t done DNA testing but my second cousin Laura [daughter of Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007) – the first person I know of who worked on our family tree] shared her DNA page with me earlier this year. Since Laura and I share great-grandparents (William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM) 3/4 of her matches did not have anything to do with our common line. It, however, helped me to get a feel for Ancestry’s DNA page before my brother’s results came in.

The ethnicity results (above) of 100% European were to be expected although it blew the theory of a Native American connection right out of the water. Or so I thought. Where do the 10% Italy/Greece fit into our family tree?

After a week or so of trying to figure out some kind of system to work through the matches on Ancestry, I decided to download the raw DNA data and upload to GEDmatch. After the kit was tokenized and while I was waiting for the batch processing to complete I did a heritage test.

Admix Results (sorted):

# Population Percent
1 Early Neolithic Farmer 43.00
2 Western European/Unknown Hunter-Gatherer 25.49
3 Ancestral South Eurasian 18.91
4 Caucas-Gedrosia 7.59
5 NearEast 1.65
6 Amerindian 1.43
7 Ancestral South Indian 1.20

1.43% Native American DNA for my brother. I understand he got about 50% of his DNA from our father and 50% from our mother (European). Family tradition is the NA connection is through our paternal grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP‘s mother Rebecca Jane CLONCH. If I keep doubling the percentage (which may not be scientifically correct) I get 91.52% at the 4th great-grandparent level. Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY are the only known set. Another ancestor at this level was Levina DOSS who had her children with an unknown man. The unknowns are COOLEYs and TREADWAYs.

I admit this was just a game I was playing before I begin to get serious about using the DNA results for research purposes. But who knows, maybe I’m on the right track.

Oh yes, Laura and my brother are “predicted 2nd cousins” and share 381 centimorgans across 15 DNA segments.

bestwishescathy1

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

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The ROOP Couple Who Were Buried Before They Died

The Incorrect Grave Marker

In the case of Hamilton N. ROOP and Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY errors were made when the information was given for the marker placed on the grave. Who had this marker made and when was it placed on the grave? The children or well-meaning but more distant relatives?

The same incorrect years of death were found in Louise Roop Akers and Everette L. McGrew’s compilations on the Roop family.[1], [2] Did they get the dates and the name of the husband from the marker or was the marker made with the dates found in these compilations?

MRIN00478 Hamilton Null Roop and wife Mary Elizabeth Epperly grave marker
Find A Grave Contributor Roger Roop (#46830952), permission to use all FAG photos taken by contributor received 7 January 2015 per email.[3]
The certificates of death were found in the Ancestry.com database “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014” and show these dates are correct:

  • Ham N. ROOP, as his name was recorded on the certificate, died on 8 December 1918 and not in 1919 as seen above.[4]
  • Mary L. ROOP, as her name was recorded on the certificate, died on 5 January 1929 and not in 1926 as seen above.[5]

The death certificates and the grave marker might be considered by some to not be for the same persons as the names and dates are conflicting. However documentation for the parents and children show this is the same couple.

Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY was seen in all census listings as Mary E. except in 1880 when she was enumerated as Elizabeth. Her 1872 marriage record has her full name. Her son Silas Shelburne ROOP was the informant on her death record and gave her middle initial as L.

The brother of my 3rd great-grandfather Gordon H. ROOP (1838-1863) was seen as Hamilton N. ROOP in early records:

  • 1860 Census: Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1870 Census: Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1872 Marriage: Hamilton N. ROOP and Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY (Marriage License/Certificate to Obtain a Marriage License/Minister’s Return of Marriage).
  • 1880 Census: Hamilton Roop (no middle inital)
  • 1890 Will of father James Roop: names son Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1900 Census: Hamilton Roop (no middle inital)
  • 1910 Census: Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1918 Death Record: Ham N. Roop (informant: son G. H. Roop)

Hamilton and his wife named a son George Hamilton ROOP. This son’s nickname was “Ham” and he signed his WWI draft card George Ham ROOP. George died in 1930. Could this be the source of the confusion concerning Hamilton’s name on his grave marker? I have found no records which show the father and son as Sr. and Jr. other than the family compilations.

Concerning the middle initial: Family tradition may be where Hamilton’s middle name being Null, a variation of the maiden name of his paternal grandmother Catherine Barbara NOLL, came from. Or is it possible an earlier family historian believed he/she knew what the middle initial stood for and made this assumption? I have found no record to prove Hamilton N. ROOP’s middle name was Null.

I changed all my records and writings to reflect Hamilton N. ROOP and made a notation concerning my doubts about the middle name being Null. How would you handle this type of conflict?

Sources:
[1] Louise Roop Anderson Akers, comp., The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope  (2001 Printed by Jamont Communications, 339 Luck Ave., Roanoke, VA 24016).
[2] Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe  (revised August 2000).
[3] Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17296789. Memorial page for George Hamilton Null Roop created by Roger Roop (#46830952) 4 Jan 2007, citing Surface Cemetery, Riner, Montgomery County, Virginia; the accompanying photograph by Roger Roop used with permission; (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17296789 : accessed 7 January 2016).
[4] “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” index and digital images, Ancestry.com, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, Certificate of Death No. 40835, Registration District No. 601B. Ham N. Roop, male, white, age 63, born 10 Aug 1855, died 8 Dec 1918 in Montgomery, Virginia, registration date 9 Dec 1918, father James Roop, mother Mary Carl. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 December 2015).
[5] “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” State file no. 2390, Registration area no. 600B , Registered no. 9. Mary L Roop, female, white, age 83, born abt 1846, died 5 Jan 1929 in Montgomery, Virginia, registration date 7 Jan 1929, father Allen Epperly, mother Susan Epperly, spouse Ham Roop. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 January 2016).

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Hamilton N. ROOP
Parents: James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL
Spouse: Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY
Children: Giles H., George Hamilton, Silas Shelburne, John T., Mary Elizabeth “Ella”, Mattie E., and Charles Luther
Whereabouts: Floyd and Montgomery counties, Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd great-grand uncle

  1. Hamilton N. ROOP
  2. brother of Gordon H. ROOP
  3. uncle of Gordon Washington ROOP
  4. grand-uncle of Walter Farmer ROOP
  5. great-grand uncle of Myrtle Hazel ROOP
  6. 2nd great-grand uncle of Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
  7. 3rd great-grand uncle of Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Correcting a Date of Death with Virginia Vital Records

One of the first lines I worked on when I began researching on the internet was my grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP‘s line. Over the years I learned there were several researchers who worked on the ROOP and collateral lines. I am so grateful to them for sharing their work.

Before I go on with the actual reason for this post I’d like to mention three of these researchers.

Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) on a book on the ROOP family. The summer of 1994 she was diagnosed with cancer and died a month later. Everette took over the task of finishing the book which he titled My Mother Was A Rupe. He gave me an updated copy in 2002.

During his research trips back to Virginia he met Louise Roop Anderson Akers  (1933-2015) and they shared information. Louise and Everette did all their research the old way. They visited court houses, cemeteries, families, etc. collecting information, photos, and documents. Louise also put together her information in a book, The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope. I bought a copy of the book and later she gifted me a hardcover copy for Christmas 2001.

I began entering information from both of the books into my database. Both are compilations of dates and places of birth, marriage, deaths, residences. Neither have source citations but the second part of Louise’s book includes many photocopies of records she found. Unfortunately they are not linked in any way to the family groups in the front of the book.

As I entered the information I was able to confirm family relationships with census records. However I found dates and places I questioned and have wanted to find the answer to these for a long time.

One of these was the date of death of Nora M. ROOP and her husband Sherman LUCAS. Louise had the same date, 27 May 1941, for both Nora and Sherman while Everette had 27 May 1941 for Sherman and no date for Nora.

NoraMRoop
Screenshot of my database on RootsWeb’s World Connect

In my notes for Nora, above, I questioned the date of death being the same day as that of her husband (below).

ShermanLuca
Screenshot of my database on RootsWeb’s World Connect

In my January 1st post, In 2016 I’m Going To…., I wrote about the four Virginia Vital Records databases at Ancestry I plan on working with since I signed up for my 6-month subscription during the holidays.

Nora’s certificate of death was one of the first I searched for in the Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014 database at Ancestry.

NoraMayLucasDCtiny
“Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” index and digital images, Ancestry.com, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, State file no. 13052, Registration district no. 2600, Registered no. 37. Nora May Lucas, female, white, age 60, born 16 Oct 1880, died 27 May 1941 in Radford, Montgomery, Virginia, registration date 28 May 1941, father W C Roop, mother Hattie Simpkins, spouse S P Lucas. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 December 2015).

The certificate of death for Nora May LUCAS confirms she died on 27 May 1941 as Louise wrote in her book. The next look up would be the certificate of death of her husband.

ShermanParisLucasDCtiny
“Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” index and digital images, Ancestry.com, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, Certificate of death no. 4113, Registration district no. 2600, Registered no. 11. Sherman Paris Lucas, male, white, age 70, born 25 Nov 1874, died 20 Feb 1945 in Radford, Montgomery, Virginia, registration date 5 Mar 1945, father Jacob Lucas, mother Celia Akers, spouse Nora Lucus. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 December 2015).

Sherman Paris LUCAS died on 20 February 1945, not the same day as his wife.

I was right to question the dates of death. It doesn’t matter how the error was made or who made it. This isn’t about pointing fingers. The important thing is I searched and found the records to correct the error.

As I  work through the ROOP descendants I’ll be attaching the records and citing the sources to prove the dates found by earlier researchers. More importantly, if errors were made I’ll correct them and plan to write short posts about the corrections.

I have no plans of contacting owners of Ancestry Member Trees about corrections as this would be too time consuming.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey