Last Sunday I gave feedback to Ancestry on my ThruLines. As I was writing the feedback message I realized it might be good material for a blog post. At the end of the feedback message, I let them know I might use it in a post.
Wowsers! Those ugly grrr!! images I’d added to my great-grandfather’s step-mother and all of her ancestors are missing.
Could it be Ancestry took my feedback into consideration and got the step-relationships fixed? Had they been ready to roll out a fix before or after I sent my feedback? Does it matter? Well, yes, I would like to know why it happened so quickly following the feedback I gave. I want to know if this step relationship bug in the ThruLines was solved for everyone or just for me.
I’m seeing Milla Susan PETERS as my great-great-grandmother. I’ve been hoping to see her ever since they gave me Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON, the 2nd wife of Gordon Washington ROOP, as a potential 2nd-great-grandmother showing half-cousins as full cousins.
Why, you ask, was I so excited about one ancestor being corrected? One right ancestor means I should be seeing her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in my ThruLines. All of these ancestors are from lines with many descendants who have had their DNA tested.
Although Milla Susan’s ThruLines shows only two DNA matches, the next generations have many more matches:
107 DNA matches through Jordan N. PETERS (father of Milla Susan)
33 DNA matches through Rachel PROFFITT (mother of Milla Susan)
68 DNA matches through Zachariah PETERS (father of Jordan)
129 DNA matches through Kesiah LIVELY (mother of Jordan)
113 DNA matches through David PROFFITT (father of Rachel)
110 DNA matches through Sarah COCKRAM (mother of Rachel)
123 DNA matches through Joseph LIVELY (father of Kesiah)
128 DNA matches through Mary L. CASH (mother of Kesiah)
97 DNA matches through Augustine “Austin” PROFFITT (father of David)
97 DNA matches through Elizabeth “Betsy” ROBERTSON (mother of David)
231 DNA matches through Edward COCKRAM (father of Sarah)
232 DNA matches through Mary WORTHAM (mother of Sarah)
It’ll take time to confirm each match is a descendant of the ancestor he/she is listed under as the lines down are only as reliable as the trees ThruLines uses to make the connection. The large number of matches for the PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines was expected due to the families being large and having many descendants.
But wait! Not only was the step-relationship corrected for Milla Susan PETERS, but I am now seeing <<drumroll>>
William is my most frustrating brick wall. Sarah Ann’s branch and all matches associated with it are very important. I hope they will help me to sort out all the matches for her side. This would leave only matches which will point to William’s unknown parents and ancestry. At least that is the way I believe it should work. ThruLines is showing potential parents for him which I cannot accept at this time.
Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestry is bringing in many matches which will also have to be verified.
41 DNA matches through William A. W. DEMPSEY.
45 DNA matches through Sarah Ann WOOD (wife of William A. W.)
87 DNA matches through Elijah WOOD (father of Sarah Ann)
93 DNA matches through Rachel HONAKER (mother of Sarah Ann)
92 DNA matches through William WOOD (father of Elijah)
90 DNA matches through Mary Ann McGRAW (mother of Elijah)
162 DNA matches through Frederick HONAKER (father of Rachel)
154 DNA matches through Rachel WISEMAN (mother of Rachel)
70 DNA matches through Bailey WOOD (father of William)
95 DNA matches through Nancy _____ (mother of William)
147 DNA matches through Martin McGRAW (father of Mary Ann)
109 DNA matches through Margaret “Polly” _____ (mother of Mary Ann)
173 DNA matches through Hans Jacob HONEGGER (father of Frederick)
30 DNA matches through Maria GOETZ (mother of Frederick)
202 DNA matches through Isaac WISEMAN (father of Rachel)
204 DNA matches through Elizabeth DAVIS (mother of Rachel)
Another New Feature
ThruLines are now connected to the tree linked to a DNA test. On the pedigree view of the tree, there is now a DNA symbol in on the left to turn on this feature which adds a little blue ThruLines icon next to the ancestors’ names. William, Sarah, and Milla are ThruLines ancestors but in the pedigree view above they haven’t been updated. I discovered this about the same time my ThruLines were fixed on Wednesday.
Did the feedback I sent on Sunday to Ancestry on the ThruLines help them to get this fixed? I will likely never know. But I believe this was a lesson in giving the best feedback possible to help the team to get ThruLines working correctly. As I wrote in my feedback to them, ThruLines could be a powerful tool.
This is the first of two posts on Ancestry‘s ThruLines regarding an issue I have had with the new feature.
Access to ThruLines™ Beta is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.
Unfortunately, hundreds of user trees on Ancestry cannot be taken into account when building ThruLines. The Legal Genealogist went ballistic last Saturday and wrote How do we know? It’s an excellent post with an example of a user tree which cannot be taken seriously. Judy G. Russell recognized the errors in the tree but can a computer program do the same? I think not.
This is not meant to provoke negative comments concerning Ancestry and the features offered by them. This is about giving feedback concerning a known problem in hopes of getting positive results.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
I have given feedback several times before [concerning the reason I am not satisfied with ThruLines] and will try to be more detailed as there is a bug in the system which has not been fixed.
I realize, at this time, ThruLines is a free tool on AncestryDNA. However, your long-time customers’ experience in family history research should be taken into account. We can work together to get this fixed.
The problem is a known bug in the system as other users have complained about it on social media. Some users who gave feedback say their ThruLines were “fixed” within days. I do not believe Ancestry has taken the step to go into one user’s ThruLines to fix this bug. I strongly believe it was a coincidence the users’ ThruLines were corrected after feedback. It is more likely another user’s tree, which was being used to build the connection between the ancestor and the match, had been corrected and this resolved the issue.
This is the issue I have with ThruLines’ “step bug”
I am seeing a step-parent as the parent in the ThruLines. The information is correct in my tree. No other tree is being used to create this ThruLines ancestor. Along with this step-parent, I am seeing all of her ancestors, unrelated to my line, as my ancestors in ThruLines. Not as POTENTIAL ancestors with a dotted borders – they are being shown as ANCESTORS.
The ancestor who is showing up incorrectly in ThruLines is:
The pedigree of the incorrect person in my tree:
I’ve added images to her ancestors showing they are NOT the ancestors of the home person and/or test person. [This is so that I can quickly recognize them on ThruLines.]
This is her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather, in my tree. His information is correct and includes his two wives and their respective children:
This is the pedigree of his first wife, my 2nd great-grandmother, who along with all of her ancestors are NOT showing up in my Thrulines. There are many DNA matches for people who descend from her PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines, on the match list, but they are being ignored by ThruLines.
I want to stress that ONLY entries in my tree are being used for this (incorrect) ThruLines ancestor. No other user tree is being used to make this connection between the half-cousin matches whose relationship is incorrectly calculated to full cousins.
I understand the idea of ThruLines and believe it could be a powerful tool. One problem will always be the hundreds of trees which are incorrect due to sloppy research, i.e. accepting hints without looking at dates, places, names, etc.
However, in this case, the tree being used is correct and ThruLines is overriding my information and picking the wrong person in the tree. I have no experience in programming. I can only tell you where I am seeing the bug. I’m fully aware of the fact that detecting the source of the bug may be more difficult.
Thank you for your time. In hopes of a quick resolution to this problem,
I wrote the above last Sunday but didn’t want to post it on my blog without giving Ancestry had a bit more time to fix the issue. This was the first time I included links to the specific areas where the “bug” was detected. Will this kind of feedback help resolve the issue I have with Ancestry‘s ThruLines?
Less than two hours after I posted Gathering Records to Tell the Story in late February my fourth cousin Ralph L. Hayes sent emails with images of the Chancery records for the 1864 divorce of John William CLONCH and Sarah Jane FOSTER – records which are not online.
I was surprised and happy to finally see the records he had discovered years ago when he searched through old dusty unindexed boxes at the courthouse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
In Gathering Records to Tell the Story, I shared the entry in the court records concerning the divorce of my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH from his first wife Mary Ellen LEMASTER. I’d only recently found this record and could not wait to share with my cousins who descend from the CLONCH line.
By sharing what I’d found I may have been subconsciously baiting cousins. Don’t we do this all the time? Sharing bits and pieces in hopes of a relative coming forward with new information. I wasn’t expecting Ralph to message me via Facebook so soon after I’d published the post. We hadn’t done email in 15 years but have been keeping up with each other via Facebook for 10 years.
It’s a complicated story
John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. Many residents of Mason County crossed the Ohio River and state line to marry in Gallia. If Sarah Jane carried her first child to full term, she may have been with child when they married. Their son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862. A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born to John and Sarah. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.
I found a couple of entries in the Chancery orders and in a fee book concerning the divorce in 1864 when I located my ancestor Alex’s 1880 divorce records. My mentioning the 1864 documents in Ralph’s possession were not yet online pushed him to get in touch and email them to me.
In the meantime…
I’ve been a bit slow working on the documents as other things have kept me busy during the past few weeks.
I watched several of the 2019 RootsTech live sessions and got caught up in the DNA whirlwind caused by Ancestry and MyHeritage’s new tools. I’ve used up all 24 of the colors offered for grouping matches in the New & Improved DNA Matches (Beta). I’ve played with MyTreeTags on the small tree linked to the test I manage on Ancestry and found they are an excellent new tool for tree management. ThruLines is still aggravating me. They have a known problem with step-parents being considered as the ancestor. MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity did not take long to look at as only 29 matches were offered. Several were spot-on. Several were not. Their AutoClustering was a bit disappointing as I was already spoiled by Jonathan Brecher and his Shared Clustering tool.
Ralph said, “Go for it!” In the days to come, I’ll share the transcriptions of the records he sent from the chancery case Sarah Jane Clonch vs John W. Clonch.
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.
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:
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
The inventory included one Negro woman called Hannah and valued at £20.2
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 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.
“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). ↩
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). ↩
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). ↩
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). ↩
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). ↩
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). ↩
UPDATE (31/12/2018): Please note this post has been updated to reflect the switch over from GEDmatch to GEDmatch Genesis.
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 Genesis.
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.
UPDATE from GEDmatch’s homepage: As of 12/18/2018 all new raw DNA kit uploads are only accepted by Genesis. The legacy GEDmatch site will continue to be available for some time, but results are “frozen” with all new kits being accepted, processed and results available only on Genesis.
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 Genesis and FREE.
Would you please consider transferring your raw DNA to GEDmatch Genesis? Here are the latest instructions: [If you already have your GEDmatch Genesis 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 Genesis. Click on Generic Uploads (23andme, FTDNA, AncestryDNA, most others) on the right side under Upload your DNA files – for Genesis BETA ONLY. 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: (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 3000 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 complete all processing and have good status (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.
UPDATE (5 January 2019): The option to upload a GEDCOM to Genesis is now available. The above directions are for the classic GEDmatch site. Please go to the homepage of Genesis, scroll down to Upload GEDCOM (Genealogy .ged files) on the right side and follow directions.
You’ve uploaded the raw DNA and your GEDCOM file (optional, but so very valuable to your matches) to GEDmatch Genesis. 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 3000 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. Presently (5 January 2019) not available on the new Genesis version of the site.
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 Genesis but the most useful in the beginning. When you are just starting out, DNA is a complicated subject. 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 Genesis please send me your kit number. Usernames on Ancestry do not always match up with the name or alias used on GEDmatch Genesis.
If you decide to upload your raw DNA to GEDmatch Genesis, 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).
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 mythree-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?
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 Charlesand Johnshall 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.
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). ↩
Eliza Warwick Wise, Bath County Marriage Bonds and Ministers Returns 1791-1853 (Bath County Historical Society, Inc. 1978). ↩
“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). ↩
Ibid., pages 232-233, images 440-441 of 746. Inventory of Estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). ↩
Ibid., pages 236-238, images 442-443 of 746. Sale of the estate of Thomas Milhollin. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2018). ↩
“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). ↩
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 atDNA Helper
Although Google Chrome isn’t my default browser I’ve added it to my list of tools along with the web browser extension atDNA 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 atDNA Helper Extension Website
atDNA Helper Extension Update (25 April 2019): The name of the Chrome extension AncestryDNA Helper was changed in March 2019 to atDNAHelper after they were notified the name was a violation of Ancestry’s trademark name. The support team for the extension has set up a new website at www.atdnahelper.com (the old URL was ancestrydnahelper.com). Bob Pittman has updated the user guide as of 25 March 2019 to reflect the change and simplify the instructions: atDNA Helper Extension for the Chrome Browser, Vol. 1 Installation and Scanning.
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 to 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 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 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!