Finding Shared Ancestors
I was telling my sister how I’ve made some progress recently and I quickly realized that she had no idea what I was talking about. I think it’s because she’s not on Ancestry. So I’m going to show how I make connections. This is mainly for my family that has no idea how I do what I do. A very helpful “DNA Detective” taught this process to me.
1. DNA Results
First things first. My mom had her DNA tested through AncestryDNA. (This is my personal referral link. You save 10% and I get a referral fee)
2. Create a Mirror Image Tree
I then view their tree and create a tree that looks just like theirs. You can either create an entire new tree OR create a floating branch in an existing tree.
3. Link DNA
Instead of spending HOURS on one DNA match’s tree and trying to find how we’re connected, here’s what I do.
- I create their tree
- Link my mom’s DNA to the home person in the mirror tree I created.
- Here is a screenshot of how I can link my mom’s DNA to different people in different trees.
- The tree has to be a tree that I manage. That’s why I have to create a tree or get the DNA match to send the ged file.
- In this screen shot, I have my mom’s DNA linked to someone (a potential bio-dad) in a tree of a 2nd to 4th cousin match.
- I normally start with the home person in the tree, the actual 2nd-4th cousin
- Once I find a pattern, I can figure out which side of the family my mom is related to. Read a little further and you’ll understand why.
4. Let AncestryDNA do the Work
Once my mom’s DNA is linked to the DNA match’s tree, AncestryDNA will scan through my mom’s match list their trees and try to find common ancestors.
After giving the system some time to find some matches, here’s what I do.
- Click on View All DNA Matches
- Click the button that says Hints.
- If you are familiar with Ancestry, you are familiar with Leaf Hints related to records, pictures, trees.
- On AncestryDNA, hints refer to Common Ancestors or Shared Ancestors.
The matches below are DNA matches to my mom AND they have a shared ancestor. These people are probably related to the 2nd-4th cousin that I have my mom’s DNA linked to.
Here is a screen shot of one of my mom’s DNA matches that has a shared ancestor when linked to the 2nd-4th cousin’s tree. She has a shared ancestor with this 2nd to 4th cousin that I have my mom linked to. Even more exciting – I have more than just this one DNA match that has Charles Fleming and Susannah Tarleton in their tree.
Why does this work?
By taking a close DNA match’s tree and linking my mom’s DNA to their tree, I only see people that match my mom’s DNA AND have the same people in their tree – a shared ancestor.
Since my mom has no family records, this is the ONLY way I can figure out our biological family tree. Once I find the branch that my mom is related to (shared ancestors on both sides)… I know I will not have shared ancestors on both sides of my 2nd-4th cousin’s tree BUT here’s a little preview of the tree…
The red dots indicates that they are a shared ancestor between my close DNA match and other DNA matches. When working on your mirror trees, i find it helpful to print out a pedigree view of the mirror tree and mark which ancestors pop up as shared ancestor hints. Make note of how many cousins also have that person in their tree as well.
So – Katherine, if you are reading this, I hope your eyes don’t glaze over next time I talk to you about this. 😛
As for other adoptees looking for family this is a really great starting point. Get your DNA tested at AncestryDNA and get started. Once you can narrow down a branch, you can look at the children of the closest shared ancestors. Look at who those children married and go as far back as you can on the spouse’s family. Eventually you should find a shared ancestor among the spouses of the children.
For instance, I’ve looked at Matthew Bates and Amanda Clayton’s children. They have a daughter names Amanda Jane Bates and she married Albert Boone. My next step is to go back on his family as far as I can. His great grandparents are David McGee and Mary Cook which are the ancestors that pop up as a shared ancestor. I think I’m on the right track. But, just one shared ancestor hint is not enough to make assumptions.
AncestryDNA links in this post are my personal referral links. You will get 10% off and I will get a referral fee.