Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday’s Thoughts

Using the Shared Matches Tool on 
Ancestry DNA to Find Cousins

The shared matches tool gives you clues about the common ancestor that may have given you and your match your DNA you share. The shared matches tool will show you which matches you and the DNA match share in common. You can use this tool to narrow down your matches to a particular side of your family, either your maternal line or paternal line. This list shows fourth cousin matches or closer. Possibly you can determine which family line you share from looking at the DNA match. This information from your DNA match may also give more evidence that you are related to a specific person that will further your research.

Shared matches on the Ancestry DNA match list are there to show you other matches that you share with a specific match. I recently received a new match on Ancestry DNA. When I clicked on her name and looked at the confidence level that was extremely high, my interest was piqued. However, she only had fourteen people in her family tree. Now, that isn't much to go on! The other clue was encouraging though, because she had a familiar surname, Coon, in her list. I immediately recognized that surname. But her surname Etheridge is what caught my eye. This was getting interesting, because I haven’t heard from that family since I was a young girl growing up in West Carroll Parish. Another clue was that we shared a large chunk of DNA, 219 centimorgans across 13 DNA segments. Ancestry’s prediction was that we were second to third cousins. My match and I verified that she is a half first cousin once removed.

My new found half first cousin shared cM. 
I already know where we matched and contacted her to share information. She soon responded and gave me her family information. She is the granddaughter of my half aunt, mother’s half-sister. When I get matches like this one I really get excited because I am hoping that one day I will come across a cousin who will have information about Grandmother Coon and what happened to her. You can read the story here.

The shared matches might give me more evidence that we are related to others in that family line. There were eight names that showed up in the shared matches list for this person. Only three had trees, one with fifty people, the other one thirteen people, and the other one with six people.  The first shared match, was an immediate family member, my sister, who had tested with Ancestry. If you and a sibling share DNA with a cousin, that cousin will show up as a shared match for both my sibling (my sister) and me. 

The shared match with the fifty people in his tree had a high confidence level. He and I share 41 centimorgans across four segments of DNA. So, this is a good match to follow up on.   This shared match I recognized. He also tested with Family Tree DNA and I corresponded with the person managing his account and shared information.  The location for the people in his tree is nearby the location of my maternal line ancestors. That match is puzzling because he matched on my paternal line, so maybe we match on the maternal line also. Further research is needed on this shared match cousin. 

The shared match with thirteen people in it piqued my interest because there was a Jasper Arnold Burnett. Eliza Jane Burnett was a maternal great grandmother. That shared match and I share forty centimorgans of DNA across two DNA segments. We are possibly third or fourth cousins. So, that shared match with only thirteen people in it yielded a helpful clue that I will pursue.

The next thing that I did with the shared matches was to go to the match with people in it and look at that person’s shared match list. There was a shared match that a large family tree. That one I checked out.  There were two maternal line surnames, Hodges and Smith, listed. This is a shared match that I will follow up on.

One thing to remember is if you have a DNA match and your second cousin has the same DNA match, this person would be a shared match to you and your second cousin. This may help determine how you are related to this second cousin. Shared matches work best with your closer relationships.

I use shared matches in my research quite often. The shared matches help me figure out how I am related to a DNA match by narrowing down the family line to a certain line that both my DNA match and myself share. I have several Coon cousins who have tested with Ancestry DNA. This helps me in narrowing down my matches to that family line. My Edwards cousins matches help me narrow down matches to that family line. So, the trick is to figure out which family members can help you narrow down your matches to the family line in which you are interested.

The shared matches tool is a tool on Ancestry that I use often. It shows which matches you and any given match on your match list share in common. You can use this tool to help you narrow down your matches to a particular side of your family – either maternal or paternal side. Using a DNA match, corresponding with her to verify the particular family line I found a cousin on my maternal line. Using this DNA match and the shared match tool I have found surnames in the list are clues for further research. 

The more you work with the shared match tool the more you will become familiar with it. It will help you in narrowing down your family line most of the time.  

To find help with your DNA Ancestry has provided articles that may help you as you work with your DNA matches. When you log in to your account on Ancestry and you go to your DNA matches on the right side of the screen is a question mark in a white circle. Click on that icon and it will take you to articles that you may find helpful when working with DNA matches. 

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