Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday's Tip

Ancestry DNA Circles

Today I went to Ancestry’s DNA Circles that were created for the Isham Meadows fifth great grandfather. There were twenty-four members and ten matches. I am confident that Isham Meadows (Sr.) is a fifth great grandfather and he is the son of Daniel Meadows. Why? Because I have done the research on the Meadows family line. The Meadows line has been researched extensively, sourced, and verified with a male Meadows second cousin, and other Meadows cousins. My sister has DNA tested with Ancestry DNA and Family Tree DNA and due to the random nature of genetic inheritance she has Meadows matches in her match list that don’t show up in mine.

I like Ancestry DNA Circles. They may be beneficial in using them; however, you still must have the genealogical paperwork to prove your ancestors. DNA and genealogical research go together.  DNA is another tool for genealogists to use with our genealogical research. You need to know who your ancestors are and their history; you need a well researched and documented family tree.

DNA Circles aren’t proof. You need documents for proof that the ancestor for which the circle is created is your ancestor. DNA doesn’t lie, therefore when you have an Ancestry member that is a match, you look at the centimorgans, then you know you are related, but how? I am more confident when a match and I share a large segment of DNA. Ancestry shows the segments in cM only, but doesn’t provide a chromosome browser as Family Tree and 23andMe provides.

The more people who match you in the DNA Circle, the chances are greater there is a connection to that ancestor. One of the large circles that I have is thirty-five members and fifteen DNA matches. This circle is for paternal ancestor Elizabeth Howard, a third great grandmother; and the confidence level counting myself, is eleven – strong; two – good; two – some; and one – weak; The weak member’s shared DNA is 9.5 across 2 segments. So, my confidence in this match is low. Then, I look at one of the matches in the circle that is strong. We share 10.9 cM of DNA that has a surname that is a maternal third great grandmother. Possibly this is my maternal ancestor which is third great grandmother Martha McCullough, rather than a paternal ancestor. The name and location match the maternal ancestor.

I have more confidence in a circle when there are several DNA matches with me and other members in the Circle than I do in a Circle with three or four members in a circle. Circles come and go, and there are several reasons for that. But as of today, I have twenty-five circles. The most members that I have in any one circle is forty members. Several of my paternal Edwards and related families tested with Ancestry DNA; my maternal Coon and related families also tested with Ancestry DNA; and several of the paternal line Meadows families have tested with Ancestry. Those DNA Circles have several members in them. I have confidence in the large circles because I have done the genealogical research and I have contacted members of those families. Some of those same people have tested with all three companies.

I have two circles with four members in them. There are three DNA matches and the circle membership confidence level is emerging. Emerging level means there is some DNA evidence of a relationship but the DNA Circle is too small, in this case four members, to determine how strong that evidence is. As the circle grows my connection level will most likely change.

How does Ancestry create the circles for our ancestors? A DNA Circle is a group of Ancestry members who all have the same ancestor in their family trees. Each member shares DNA with at least one member in the circle. Circles require at least two people to DNA match and a third person that matches at least one of the other two members. The circles are created from my DNA and my family tree. My DNA is shared with every member in the Ancestry DNA database. Based on the amount of DNA I share with another member, when Ancestry finds there is enough shared DNA between us, then they consider we share a common ancestor. Our relationship is based on the amount of DNA we share.

Once Ancestry DNA finds a DNA match they search my family tree and my DNA matches’ family trees looking for ancestors who are the same person. The criteria Ancestry looks for are facts like name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and spouse of the ancestor. Ancestry goes back about nine generations. Ancestry then calculates a shared ancestor hint confidence score. To calculate the score, they look at the DNA. Is this DNA that you share from a recent shared ancestor? They base the confidence in the DNA match and if both me and my match inherited DNA from a recent shared ancestor. And is the shared ancestor with the same birth date, birthplace, parents, and spouse in my tree. If this is the case, Ancestry is confident the ancestor is the same for both of us.

In this case Ancestry, has placed the two of us with a common ancestor; however, we possibly could share another ancestor on another line and we may be related but we don’t share DNA. This is the place where you collaborate and connect with DNA Circle cousins. You can better understand the relationship by sharing information. However, verify the information you acquire from your new-found cousin. The consistency and accuracy of the family trees on Ancestry have varying levels. They are built by the Ancestry DNA members. The more reliable the family tree the more reliable DNA Circles and connection levels will be.

We all want the correct ancestors in our family trees.

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