Friday, April 25, 2014

In honor of DNA Day, an AncestryDNA update

Today is National DNA Day apparently, commemorating the 1953 publication of papers on the structure of DNA. In honor of that, I actually have an AncestryDNA update - I got my first shared ancestor hint!

I have literally 150 pages worth of DNA matches on Ancestry, people I connect to genetically, but up until this week I had no idea how I connect to any of these people. Nowhere did we have any matching people in our family trees. But finally, FINALLY, I got a shared ancestor hint. And, of course, it's a Raynor connection (that's my most researched line). This person and I are seventh cousins. Our shared ancestors are Joseph Raynor and Elizabeth Lester, who lived in the 1700s on Long Island. So, yay, I DO have at least a tiny bit of Raynor DNA in me! But I can't believe this is my only shared ancestor hint so far - Cousin April over at Digging Up the Dirt on My Dead People has very genetically cooperative DNA...mine is making me work just a little bit harder.

But, that's exciting. That's what I've been waiting for, that's what I was hoping for when I took this test, not only hopefully adding to and extending some of my branches, but connecting to cousins in a definitive way where I can see the connection.

But it wouldn't be an AncestryDNA post without some complaints, right? So here they are:

  • I never got a notification that I had a shared ancestor hint. I found it by accident, when I was looking to see if I had any genetic matches with anyone with Raynor in their tree. If I hadn't checked that specifically, I have so many pages of matches, I might never have found him! I had actually, manually, connected myself to this person before, seeing we had Joseph and Elizabeth in common, but this was months ago and there was no shared ancestor hint at the time.
  • Which brings me to my second complaint - I was doing a Raynor-specific search because Cousin April's sister had matched with someone who had a Micajah Raynor in their tree. If you've read this blog before, you may know that April and I have been searching for a connection to Micajah Raynor in the hopes that he will shed light on one of our brick wall ancestors, Jacob Raynor. But this person April's sister matched to had Micajah as a brother to Jacob's wife Rebecca, the daughter of Joseph Raynor and Elizabeth Lester (yes, the same people who were my first shared ancestors hint). But I have a copy of Joseph's will, and he lists his children by name, and nowhere is there a Micajah mentioned. So Micajah probably is NOT the son of Joseph and Elizabeth. So while this DNA project is a great help in connecting us to people, some of those people we are connecting to are unfortunately doing shodding genealogy work. DNA doesn't lie - if you are a match to someone, you ARE related, but do NOT take their family tree at face value, especially if it is not sourced well!
  • And my third complaint - the person I have a shared ancestor with also has Joseph and Elizabeth as a shared ancestor with April's father (she is related to me through her father's side) - so how come her father and I don't have Joseph and Elizabeth as a shared ancestor hint? 
So many questions, so many things for AncestryDNA to continue working on. How has your experience been so far with DNA genealogy? Would love to hear what you're happy with and what you think could still be improved!

And on a completely unrelated note, have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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