Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ancestry Tree Used to Present Ancestry DNA Results - New Way of Looking at Genetic Genealogy

To my immediate family, extended cousins and genealogy friends,

Over the last three years I have been extensively involved in combining my genealogy research of over 37 years with the results of the various DNA testing that me and my various family members have utilized. There were several goals for doing this all this DNA testing.

  • The initial goal of this testing was to use the various DNA tests taken by me and members of my immediate family to verify and strengthen the well-researched and sourced ancestral paper trails in my family history research genealogy / project.
  • Use Autosomal DNA testing to possibly discover,document, and extend dead end (brick wall) lines in my family research.
  • Use Autosomal DNA testing to possibly undercover and prove some female ancestral lines that have been difficult to work.
  • Use Autosomal DNA testing to uncover potential NPEs (non-parent expected) lines or ancestral lines mistakenly identified during paper trail research.
  • Attempt to extend my existing Van Horn family surname line back using autosomal DNA testing to my immigrant ancestor – Christian Barentsen Vanhorn – who was previous identified and proven using Y-DNA testing with FTDNA.
  • Conduct some lineal DNA research on various lines of descendent from a colonial ancestor Nichols Martiau. I am a proud member and the national registrar for the Nicholas Martiau Descendent Association.

One of the biggest problems associated with these test has been how to present this data in a consumer style format to family, friends and even help my genealogy students work on their research and DNA presentation results. Also discover a way to best explain to a layman what these test results mean and how they can relate their test results to the DNA tests they are managing.

Over three years of working out various angles, ideas, false starts, spread sheets, computer apps, browser plug-ins, using two different genealogy programs (TMG and Legacy) to document results, and numerous other chart, graphs, printouts, programs, etc.; and even having Ancestry resetting all our DNA test results last year which caused me to have to start all over, I have finally settled on what I think is a relatively simple method of display of these DNA results using the KISS method.

So what follows is my first attempt at presenting our family DNA test results has just been released on my Autosomal DNA Ancestry public tree at

Now for some explanations of who is involved in this project and what you are seeing on that ancestor chart.

The autosomal DNA results reflected in my tree involves me, both my parents, and a first cousin 1x removed on my dad's side of the family. I manage all these tests from within my Ancestry account. Since all the participants are still living, only my identity will be made public.

Initially, I documented each of the new Ancestry DNA circles presented to me and inserted them into the ancestor chart using the same graphics that Ancestry uses:

The results of that task yielded 10 Ancestor DNA circles. These are my highest confidence matches. Once I laid them into the chart I used the following graphic to reflect the path of that DNA (and thus proof of descent) from me to those matches using the following symbol:

 I then carefully documented each of the leaf matches that I had (at this point that number is 38 leaf matches). Each of my leaf matches trees was closely scrutinized and their ancestral trail documented in my notes. This resulted in a pair (sometimes only one due to multiple marriages) ofwhat is known as Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCA) that I and each of my matches share. These MRCA matches were then document in the tree using the following graphic:

I also have an ongoing project of looking at my non-leaf matches in an attempt to make whatever connection that may be there. In some cases my matches may not have built out their DNA tree as far as mine, but I may have in my database additional information that could help them extend their tree to a most recent common ancestor that we share. Higher confidence matches that represent closer matches, have been easier to do. In one case, I even assisted a cousin, who was adopted in discovering his biological parents. I call these matches “researched matches” and they have been some of the most rewarding, but time consuming research for me to do

These researched matches have been indicated in the chart using this icon graphic:\

Next I added in the leaf matches of both my parents. And yes, they had matches (usually deeper in time) than I did. Their MRCA leaf matches are indicated by the first icon graphic below. I have also laid in some of their “researched matches” as well using this graphic, but neither their or my researched matches are near completion. These are the graphics I used for MRCA matches and "researched matches" for both of them.

Finally I have worked on my cousin’s matches. Like me and my parents above I have a set of graphics for her MRCA and researched matches using the graphics below.

While this is still an ongoing project with more DNA match data that needs to be analyzed, documented and displayed, I feel like this new method of sharing what has been found looks pretty sound and I wanted to share it with my family and friends. Some of you are probably scratching their heads about now wondering what all these new wonderful and weird graphics on the tree represent.

In addition to working on my tree, I am also working on my wife’s tree/DNA testing as well and will be publishing that information as soon as the initial data is ready for display.

Stay tuned here for additional information as it becomes available and I hope to publish additional information and refinements in this methodology soon on this and our other family of genealogy blogs.

Cousin Larry