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

This is an updated version of a post I published in March 2018. The original post had been updated several times during the past two years. To avoid confusion I have added new images, as well as some steps, to reflect changes on the GEDmatch and Ancestry websites since the article was first written. 

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 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’ve 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.

So I’ve decided to use my blog to write to my cousins. I’ll 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 applications for comparing your DNA test results with other people. There are also applications for estimating your ancestry. Some applications are free. More advanced applications require membership in the GEDmatch Tier1 program at $10 per month.

Some premium tools require payment but the chromosome browsers we are lacking on AncestryDNA are free on GEDmatch. Registration requires your name, email, and a password of your choice.

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

GEDmatch screenshot 2020

Fill out the form per instructions and click on Register.

Download the 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. Scroll to the bottom of the page, under Test Management > Actions > Click to open Download RAW DNA Data section.

AncestryDNA screenshot 2020

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 2020

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 several minutes for the email to come in.

AncestryDNA screenshot of the email 2020

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 Uploads (23andme, FTDNA, AncestryDNA, most others) on the right side under Upload your DNA files. Fill out the form and upload the file without unzipping it.

GEDmatch screenshot 2020

(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 Autosomal DNA Comparison 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 3000 matches it will not show up on my list but I can still do comparisons with your kit number.

What else can you do?

While you are waiting for your kit to 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.

GEDmatch screenshot 2020

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 about the file. The most important thing to know 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 before 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. THE closest DNA matches are at the top of the list.

One-To-Many DNA Comparison Result: 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 3000 matches with the closest matches at the top. In the first column kit numbers highlighted in different shades of green indicate new matches with dark green being the newest. As time goes by the color gets lighter and finally turns white.

People who match both, or 1 of 2 kits: When you check your kit and another kit with this tool it will generate three lists: a list of all matches shared by both at the top, a list of all kits who match the first and not the second, and a list of all kits who match the second and not the first.

This is not a complete list of what you can do on GEDmatch 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 EASIER.

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 Autosomal DNA Comparison 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 in 2018. New segments have been added since then. An updated segment map will be shared in a future post.

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, knowing the MRCA of 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 both have chromosome browsers. It would be 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. We can continue working together, using the tools available on AncestryDNA (Shared Matches, ThruLines, Common Ancestors, and Trees).

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me and I will do my best to help.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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

UPDATE (1 December 2020): Please note this post has been updated to reflect changes on the GEDmatch and Ancestry websites since the article was first written in March 2018.

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 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… Continue reading

Running the gamut of emotions…

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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 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 the 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 it 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.


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








How to Manage Your Tree on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect

Yesterday we worked through getting your tree uploaded to RootsWeb WorldConnect. Hopefully all went well and your tree is now online. How do you manage it?

By now you know I have my genealogy database at Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

To manage your own tree on RootsWeb WorldConnect go to and click on Family Trees and then on Start Here. The second link, Also, go here to update or correct your existing Family Tree will take you to the same page as Start Here.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

You may have to go through the Secure Sign In if you are not already logged in.

This is a screenshot of my Tree Administration page. I now have two trees.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

Click on your new tree or the tree you want to manage. You will see your Tree Information and Tree Settings.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

All screenshots below were taken of the original page which opens when you click on a setting – they may or may not be the settings I would choose.

Tree Settings 1: Display Options

RootsWeb WorldConnect

This will allow you to choose how you want your tree to look to the public.

  • Don’t like the name you chose when you uploaded the first time, you can change it here. Would you like the name to be in italics? Add <i> before the name and </i> at the end.
  • Do you want surnames to be bold or capitalized?
  • The pedigree chart can be in table format or text format.
  • The depth of text pedigree, descendancy, register, and Ahnentafel can be chosen.
  • You can include the URL and name of your website or blog and it will be seen on top of each page next to your name.
  • You can add a header and footer which will be seen on all of your tree pages.
  • If you plan to have a clickable link in the notes section of an individual (like I have in the first image in this post) you will have to Allow HTML in GEDCOM.
  • I selected No for “Fix buggy CONC usage” – because, honestly, I don’t know what the heck this is.

Tree Settings 2: Living Persons Options

RootsWeb WorldConnect

RootsWeb automatically cleans the living persons in your GEDCOM file with the maximum value 1930.

  • You can choose between Clean and Remove as well as changing the year. I use the 100 year rule and have my cutoff set at 1915.
  • You can choose to allow your notes and sources to be seen or have one or the other removed. My personal preference is to show notes and sources as people are more likely to get in touch with corrections and additions.
  • If you choose to clean living persons, not remove them, they will show up as Living Surname without any other information. You have an option to include a message for all living persons. I have one explaining the cut-off and request to be contacted if a person is known to be deceased or in the case of someone over 100 years old who is still living and should be listed as living.
  • The last item on this page allows you to remove certain individuals. I have only used this feature once to remove the deceased spouse of a living person as this was requested by a grandchild who thought the information could be used for identity theft. This will “stick” to the tree with every updated GEDCOM file. There is no need repeat this every time you update your file.

Tree Settings 3: GEDCOM Download Options

RootsWeb WorldConnect

This settings allows you to choose to allow others to download a full or partial GEDCOM of your file. I don’t allow downloads. This is up to you and if you do allow downloads you can include a message, for example, your name and contact information, which will be attached to each person in the GEDCOM.

Tree Settings 4: Owner Information

RootsWeb WorldConnect

This page allows you to include your name and email address on your page as well as get email notifications when another user adds a Post-em to your tree.

Tree Settings 5: Manage Post-ems

If you do not get email notifications of the Post-ems to you tree, this is the place to check if there are any attached to your tree. You can view the person a post-em is attached to, the post-em, the name and email address of the person who posted, and you can delete the post-em if no longer needed.

Tree Settings 6: Replace Tree with New GEDCOM

Time to update the file you have online? The process is the same as uploading a new file. Replacing overwrites the old file, no need to delete first.

Tree Settings 7: Download GEDCOM

Data loss? Computer crash? No backup? You can download your last GEDCOM from RootsWeb to your computer to restore your work – at least to the date it was last updated. Please see note at the end of this post.

Tree Settings 8: Take Tree Offline

RootsWeb WorldConnect

If for any reason you want your file to be hidden from the public you can use this feature. Maybe you want to keep a copy online as an emergency backup copy but are not comfortable with people seeing it.

I tried this out with the dempseyorange.ged and got this message: dempseyorange has been taken offline. Please allow up to 36 hours for this tree to be completely removed from WorldConnect searches. The Take Tree Offline is now Put Tree Online and you can put it back online whenever you want.

Tree Settings 9: Delete Tree

RootsWeb WorldConnect

Do you want to delete your tree? If you are sure, when you select Proceed your GEDCOM file and user information will be permanently removed from WorldConnect.

Did I miss something or is there something you didn’t understand? WorldConnect FAQs will take you to a page with, hopefully, the answers to any questions you may have.

I hope this two part post has been helpful. I look forward to hearing from everyone who has added a new tree to RootsWeb WorldConnect. Please post the link to your tree in the comments below – I’d love to see if we have Connections!

Note: It is recommended to keep a back-up of all your data in several places, i.e. external hard drive, thumb drive, a cloud service (Dropbox, I-Drive, Google Drive, OneDrive, to name a few).

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

How to Upload Your Tree to RootsWeb’s WorldConnect

This two part post has been a long time coming! In August Diane Gould Hall of Michigan Family Trails posted this question to the GeneaBloggers Facebook group:

Question for all of you. When you publish your blogs about specific family branches or people, are you adding this information to your family software?

I replied:

For the posts I’ve done since I began blogging in January 2014 I have this code at the top of the note section in my genealogy program:
<a title=”TITLE” href=”LINK” target=”_blank”>TITLE</a>
I have my gedcom on rootsweb and this makes the link to my blogpost clickable on site.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

Amanda Pope replied:

oooooh, Cathy Meder-Dempsey, I need to put my tree in Rootsweb! Do you have any tips (maybe a blog post? smile emoticon ) on doing so?

You hear about a computer crash and loss of data and are reminded you need to keep a copy of your genealogy database or a GEDCOM file on an external hard drive, thumb drive, or in the Cloud. I have mine in two clouds: my working file in Dropbox (mirrored on my laptop) and the most recent GEDCOM file on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect. I’ve been using RootsWeb to store and share my genealogy work since December 2000.

The first step to “putting your tree on RoostWeb” is to create a GEDCOM-format of your family tree. You don’t know what a GEDCOM file is? Amie Bowser Tennant wrote a informative post earlier this month, What Is a GEDCOM File and Why Do I Need It?

RootsWeb user-contributed instructions to creating GEDCOM files with some of the most-used genealogy software programs may be a bit outdated so check the user’s manual of your genealogy program if you need help.

While checking out how to best do this post I learned there is a NEW way (at least to me) to go into the site to get this done. My database is at Opening Doors in Brick Walls. Go there and click on Family Trees or go to

RootsWeb WorldConnect

You’ve already created (exported) and saved your GEDCOM file to your computer – remember the location!

RootsWeb WorldConnect

We are going to click on Start Here but first a short explanation of #1 and #2. This is a new platform they have to upload your GEDCOM. If you are interested in seeing the old platform click on Click here next to #1. If you already have a tree on RootsWeb you can click the link next to #2 to correct or update your tree.

Click on Start Here to go to the Secure Sign In. If you already have a Username and Password for RootsWeb or you can sign in without registering.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

If you are not registered, click on Register and follow the directions on the next screen.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

Once you are registered and signed in you will be directed to the Tree Administration page. This is a screenshot of my account. If you are a new user, this list will be empty. Click on Add New Tree.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

To add a New WorldConnect Tree you will go through Step 1-3. As an example I created a GEDCOM for a non-attached family in my database: a study of the Dempsey families of Orange County, Virginia.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

Step 1 of 3

  1. Enter Tree ID: I choose dempseyorange
  2. Enter Tree Title: Dempseys of Orange County, Virginia
  3. Click on Create
RootsWeb WorldConnect

Step 2 of 3

Click Browse and go to the location you saved your copy of the GEDCOM on your computer, type in or click on file name and Open.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

When the GEDCOM file has been selected, click on Upload File.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

Step 3 of 3

A little window will open to show the upload process. This example was a very small GEDCOM with only 290 individuals and took only 4 seconds. In the screen above the file is still being processed and as soon as all living persons have been cleaned the file will be viewable to the public. If you click on View Your Tree you will see the file is still being processed.

RootsWeb WorldConnect

When you refresh the window after processing is finished you will see your family tree file. You will notice below (compared to my Opening Doors in Brick Walls page) that there is no header or footer (these will be added later in settings):

RootsWeb WorldConnect

Your tree is now on RootsWeb WorldConnect. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to manage it.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey