Finding a MRCA on Ancestry DNA
This morning I was looking through my DNA match list on Ancestry. I decided to look through the predicted fourth cousin match list. I came across a match that caught my eye. She had 968 people in her family tree. If you have looked through matches on the DNA match list, as I have, rarely does anyone have a tree that large. So, I clicked on view match. That took me to her page with the family tree, surnames list, and predicted relationship information.
The list of surnames are names that I have in my family tree; however, Stephens is a paternal line and Coon and Smith maternal lines. After looking through the DNA match for the Stephens family there were some discrepancies in the tree. But I was interested in the Coon family information.
I looked to see how many centimorgans we share. The match and I share 23.9 cM across two segments of DNA. A maternal predicted fourth cousin match. Then, I looked at her surnames listed – Coon and Smith. Looking at her family tree there was a Samuel Coon married to Nancy. I went to Samuel's tree information and he is the son of Jacob Coon my maternal 3rd great grandfather. Jacob is also the father of Lewis Coon, my maternal 2nd great grandfather. Jacob Coon married Nancy Genet Smith in South Carolina about 1818. I already had Samuel son of Jacob and Nancy Coon in my family Tree Maker program, but I didn’t have the children. My new found maternal fourth cousin and I have a MRCA (a most recent common ancestor), Jacob Coon.
Next, I decided to find the children of Samuel and Nancy. I did further research for Samuel Coon born about 1816 in Mississippi and he was listed on the 1850-1870 censuses. Samuel’s wife was Nancy (Unknown), and they had seven known children. As I tracked Samuel and Nancy through 1850-1870 censuses I looked at the children's names and recorded those in my Ancestry tree. Then, I began to research the oldest child Zachariah Coon. He was born about 1839 in Mississippi. He is listed on the 1850 District 3, Pike County, Mississippi census, 1860 Monticello, Lawrence County, Mississippi census, and the 1870 Ward 3, Claiborne, Louisiana census living with his parents, Samuel and Nancy, and his siblings.
Next, continuing my search for Zachariah Coon I found him living in Sebastian Township, Ouachita County, Arkansas in 1880. On the 1880 census Zachariah is a boarder living with his brother and his family. Zachariah is 41 years old, and a widower. Elizabeth Coon, is listed on the census but her name is marked through and states that she is dead. She was listed on the Mortality Schedule for 1880. I have never come across a deceased person listed on the Federal census. Keep in mind when using censuses, they are notorious for errors in spelling, age discrepancies, and places of birth. Analyze censuses carefully and thoroughly when using them.
Zachariah Coon is next listed on the 1900 Beech Creek, Clark County, Arkansas census as a boarder living with Elonzo Coon, who is listed as divorced, and Jane Coon his mother. Elonzo and Jane are related to Zachariah. Then, in 1920 Zachariah Coon is living in District 60, Caddo Township, Clark County, Arkansas in the Clark County Poorhouse as an inmate. He is 81 years old and widowed. Zack Coon is listed on the Arkansas department of Health Division of Vital Records Certificate of Death, Volume 053, Certificate 00196. He died 26 May 1920 in Clark County, Arkansas.
The new-found maternal cousin is a fourth cousin once removed. Her mother, Lorraine, is a descendant of Zachariah Coon. Zachariah Coon and wife Elizabeth had one son John Calvin Coon. John Calvin and his wife Julia had a son Harvey Lee Coon, parents of Lorraine Coon.
This is the method that I use to determine the MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) between my match and myself. This was an easy match to work with because of the information provided by my match – surnames, locations, and a robust family tree. Ancestry helps with the tools they provide, but sometimes it is necessary to use tools, such as a chromosome browser, available on other sites.