Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another sad case of more poor Ancestry family trees!

This weekend I have been slowly and carefully filling in the various Van Horn lines of descendent from my DNA proven immigrant ancestor Christian Barentsen Van Horn and his son Barent Christiansen Van Horn in an Ancestry tree I am building from my personal genealogy database. I have been doing this to grab any new original records or information I may have missed the first time around when researching these lines thanks to Ancestry's shaky leaf hints. This is part of a project I am working on in conjunction with my AncestryDNA and FTDNA Y-DNA testing to close the generational hole between where I am now in my VH lineage and the two known ancestors named above.

That is when I opened up a set of matching Ancestry trees for a cousin Johannes Van Horn and was greeted on the very first one with the . . . well I will let you the reader see if you can pick out the problem. I have blocked out the name of the tree owner so as to not publicly embarrass him/her.

To compound the issue there were 22 trees that had this family group above in it with 14 of those trees that contained the child with the problem. Of those 14 trees - four or 28.5% of them had duplicated the problem from the tree above. In other words they just clicked on the tree, checked the blocks next to each child's name and never gave it another look. If only genealogy was that easy to do. To add insult to this issue the problem starts with the first tree in the list. Since that is the case the problem will probably continue to multiply over time.

I have preached and preached, over and over again to as many that will listen about being careful with what you post at Ancestry in your online trees. In fact, I just spoke on this very topic last Tuesday night in my Searching For Your Ancestors class at the college. But I guess I really should not be surprised at the level of inexperience and incompetence by some users of the online tree service at (it isn't unique to just their trees either). All in all this sort of thing continues to amaze and dismay me as a genealogy instructor.

The sad part about problems like this is in the past I have 'gently' and 'politely' pointed out to tree owners issues like this in their Ancestry trees and usually nothing happens. I guess maybe they do not care or want to get it right.

Truly a sad situation. So enough said - for now!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fall TCCC Genealogy Classes Schedule Changes

OK, when you do a class schedule a year in advance, there is bound to be changes. Since TCCC has not widely promulgated those changes, I will do that here for my local friends. I will also be posting this to my Family Roots and Branches blog. and the local newsgroup.

Change 1 - The Tuesday night class Searching for Your Ancestors - which is my revamped beginner/intermediate class will now start on 30 Aug and we will be in the lecture hall in Enloe. Final determination on a 12 or 13 week class will be determined on the first night by how many have signed up. If you haven't taken this course, I promise it is well worth your time. You won't find anything else like it anywhere close. It is primarily an intermediate genealogy class designed to do family history research in the 21st Century.

Genealogy – Searching for Your Ancestors

Who am I and where did I come from? It's that intriguing question that has made genealogy research one of America's most popular hobbies. But where does one begin such research? What resources exist? How can you prove that what you find is true and valid? How do you go beyond America's borders to find roots in other English speaking nations? This "new" TCCC genealogy course - Searching for your Ancestors - offers the beginner and experienced genealogist alike a fresh approach to genealogy research. Subjects cover the full gambit from organizing your research to exploring your family history using traditional and electronic research, social media, and our newest tool DNA testing. Whether you are new to genealogy or have been family hunting since microfilm days, this course will assist you in researching your family in the 21st century. This beginner/intermediate course is a prerequisite for advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC.

Change 2 - The female ancestor day class didn't make, but neither has the Thursday night DNA class. So I'm going to make a change and offering the Researching Your Female Ancestors on Thursday night starting Sep1 at 6:30pm. I do believe we will also be in the Enloe lecture hall. And for those who were signed up for DNA, I invite you to take this one.

Genealogy – Discovering Your Female Ancestors

This course introduces the student to special strategies and uncommon resources needed to research female lines in their family genealogies. Students learn about genealogical sources created by and about women, and methods they can use to learn the maiden name and parents of our female ancestors. This course is for advanced genealogy students only.

Please pass the word along and let you genealogy friends know of these changes. maybe we will have some new faces in the Tuesday night class (and some old ones as well) and hopefully things will go smoother next week than it has this week.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Update: New AncestryDNA Feature Rollout this weekend?

Quick note post last night's maintenance period. I saw nothing happen to change my DNA match, tree or individual tree pages overnight so maybe the feature below is just in Alpha test for a select few and I guess I'm not one of them. ;-(

Sandra Mason Comer on the AncestryDNA Matching FB group posted up a very interesting graphic that has popped up on her tree.

Click on graphic to enlarge.
Look at the feature just below the relationship tag in the header above. I don't have it in any of my stuff and I really can't comment of what we have here for sure.

I will say this that there is a scheduled maintenance period from 2am to 6am tomorrow morning so keep a sharp eye out for something new - maybe! ;-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Uh Oh, AncestryDNA System Maintenance Today

Thinking out loud again! Wonder what wild, wonderful, and wicked changes we will see this afternoon after this system maintenance period? I just now got the spreadsheet up-to-date from the v3 update change. So what surprise awaits me this afternoon. Here is hoping it isn't major!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fall Genealogy Classes at Tri County Community College in Peachtree NC

Before I get screamed at here are the genealogy classes that I currently have scheduled for the fall semester at Tri County Community College in Peachtree NC. You can call Lisa long at 835-4241 to sign up or get on the I am interested list. But please do not delay as some seating will be limited.

Fall 2016 Genealogy Night Classes

Genealogy – Searching for Your Ancestors
Who am I and where did I come from? It's that intriguing question that has made genealogy research one of America's most popular hobbies. But where does one begin such research? What resources exist? How can you prove that what you find is true and valid? How do you go beyond America's borders to find roots in other English speaking nations? This "new" TCCC genealogy course - Searching for your Ancestors - offers the beginner and experienced genealogist alike a fresh approach to genealogy research. Subjects cover the full gambit from organizing your research to exploring your family history using traditional and electronic research, social media, and our newest tool DNA testing. Whether you are new to genealogy or have been family hunting since microfilm days, this course will assist you in researching your family in the 21st century. This beginner/intermediate course is a prerequisite for advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC. 32.5 hrs. (13 weeks)

August 23 – November 15          Tuesday
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                    $75

Genealogy – AncestryDNA: A Genetic Genealogy Tool for the 21st Century
Science can help you with your genealogy research, but you are going to have to take a test first. That test is a "low cost" autosomal DNA test available at This new course will cover the new and expanding field of genetic genealogy basics and is designed for DNA newbies and other genealogists who want to get the most from their AncestryDNA testing results. Some of the topics to be covered include an introduction to DNA testing and technical terms, how DNA testing will help your genealogy research, what are your ethnic origins, how to interpret your results and the latest changes made in the spring of 2016 (AncestryDNA v3). If you want to demystify genetic genealogy, and you want to use this new and exciting research tool in your family history study, then this course is for you. 12.5 hrs. (5 weeks)

August 25 – September 22         Thursday
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                    $35

Genealogy – Busting Through Genealogy Brick Walls 
Having trouble finding the illusive ancestor? Can't seem to get that lineage any further back? Then this class is tailor made for you. In the genealogy brick wall class you will learn techniques, trick, tips and proven methods to bust through the brick walls in your genealogy. During the class you will have your opportunity to work with the class instructor on your family genealogy brick wall. No prerequisites; open to all genealogy skill levels. 10 hrs (4 weeks)

September 29 – October 20        Thursday
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                    $30

Genealogy – Managing a Genealogy Project:
Are you faced with "piles" of genealogy paper records, correspondence, charts, and genealogy forms in your family history work-space or electronic files scattered all over the computer hard drive? Most successful genealogist will usually end up with an embarrassment of riches - too much information in too many places. Whether you work on paper, electronically scan your genealogy records/files or do everything online, getting organized is essential to keeping track of ancestors and the records you have found about them. This course will rescue you from unhelpful habits and get your workspace—virtual or physical—tidy again. 5 hrs. (2 weeks)

October 27 – November 3            Thursday
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                    $15

Genealogy – Genealogy Research Hints and Tips - Confessions of a Genealogist
After 40 years of genealogy research, 500 weekly genealogy newspaper columns, and teaching 20 years of family history and genealogy classes at TCCC, the instructor of this course will share some of his best tips and genealogy secrets in this two night class. In this class you will learn about the good, the bad and the ugly that he has seen and experienced during his long genealogy research journey. 5 hrs. (2 weeks)

November 10 – November 17     Thursday
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                    $15

Fall 2016 Genealogy Day Classes

Genealogy – Discovering Your Female Ancestors
This course introduces the student to special strategies and uncommon resources needed to research female lines in their family genealogies. Students learn about genealogical sources created by and about women, and methods they can use to learn the maiden name and parents of our female ancestors. This course is for advanced genealogy students only. Pre-requisite: Beginning/intermediate genealogy course.15 hrs. (6 weeks)

August 23 – September 27            Tuesday
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.                     $45

Genealogy – Hidden Genealogy Sources
Discover facts about your ancestors in unexpected places - some right under your nose! This course will explore little-known genealogical sources that may contain information about their ancestors’ lives. Students will study over 100 hidden genealogical sources, how to find them, and how to use them in research projects. Pre-requisite: Beginning/intermediate genealogy course. 17.5 hrs. (7 weeks)

October 4 – November 15               Tuesday
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.                     $50

Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Introduction to Genealogy

This article was written by Dick Eastman on June 2, 2016, and posted to his online blog ( and newsletter. Permission was granted by the author to repost it here with full credit, of course. If you repost this to any newsletters, newspaper articles or anyplace else that you feel might be appropriate, full credit must be given to Dick Eastman and the Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Do you have a curiosity about your family tree? Many people do. Some may have their interest piqued because of an heirloom, an old picture, or perhaps an unresolved family mystery. The reasons people get hooked on genealogy are many and varied, but each person’s search is unique. After all, the search for your ancestors really is a search for yourself.
If you think that family history research requires hours of rummaging through libraries, trekking through cemeteries, and writing letters to government bureaus, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Finding your family tree is simpler than what many people imagine. To be sure, you may encounter some intriguing obstacles. However, most of them can be overcome.
As with so many hobbies today, using a computer can simplify some of the tasks of searching and recording. However, a computer is not necessary. Americans have been recording their ancestry for two centuries or more without digital tools, and you can do the same. All you need is a starting point and a direction, and maybe a few tips.
In the beginning … there’s you!

Starting a family tree search is very simple: begin with what you know about yourself, and then work backwards, one generation at a time. Linking back from yourself through the generations helps to ensure that the people you research actually belong in your family tree and don’t simply have the same name as one of your ancestors. The unfortunate souls who try to skip a generation may well find themselves perched in the wrong family tree.
Write down the information that you already know. A basic pedigree chart will help. You can find these at genealogy societies and at most libraries, as well as on a number of Web sites. You can find such charts at and at and at (where it is called an “Ancestral Form.”)
Place yourself in the first position on the chart, and fill in the vital information: your name, the date and place of your birth, as well as the date and place of any marriages you have had. Next, move back one generation, and fill in the same information for both of your parents: name, date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, and date and place of death, if deceased.
Continue working back even further, to grandparents and great-grandparents, if possible. Very few beginning genealogists can fill in the basic facts on even three generations, let alone four. Simply fill in what you already know, and leave the remaining facts as blank spaces. You can fill them in later as you uncover clues.
Once you exhaust your own memory, a family fact-finding expedition is a great way to gather more information. Pick the brains of your family members, especially older family members. Take along a notebook, and write down the events they remember. Ask around for photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and so on. The memorabilia you find will surprise and delight you.
So far, you’ve relied on people’s recollections to add to your history. We all know, however, that memories are not always exact. Next, you will need to confirm the date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, name of spouse, date and place of death, names of parents and children, for as many individuals as possible. You will be surprised how easy it is to find birth certificates and marriage records, especially in the United States. Our country has a long tradition of recording and preserving these vital records.
Now you are ready to set an achievable target from the myriad facts you have accumulated. Pick an ancestor, perhaps one with a few blanks on the chart. Next, choose a question you would like to answer, such as the town where he or she was born. Then decide where you will start hunting.
A birth certificate is an obvious objective. However, you may also need to look in a wide range of places to find out more about that person’s life. When the location of birth is not easily found, you can look for other records that will help identify the person’s origins. Some of the places you can look are census records, military records and pensions, land records, schooling, occupation, electoral rolls, sporting clubs, newspaper reports – in fact, the list of places where you may find clues is almost endless.
Generally speaking, it’s easier to search through indexes and compiled records that are available on the internet at the beginning of your family tree discovery tour. Always keep in mind that not all the genealogy information is available online!
Even if you don’t own a computer, many libraries today provide computers with internet access for just such purposes. One of the greatest resources available is that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, usually referred to as the Mormons. This church has microfilmed millions of records from all over the world, and indexes to these microfilms are available on their Web site, The Mormons gather records from all faiths and all ethnic groups and make these records available to everyone, regardless of religious orientation. Best of all, you can reserve and view the microfilms at a local Mormon Family History Center near where you live. The films ship straight from Salt Lake City to your local Center, where volunteers can help you with the microfilm readers. While there, you will not be given any religious materials or lectures (unless you ask). You can find the Family History Center closest to your location if you start at
Wherever you turn up information about your ancestors, always check the “facts” that you find. Many times you will obtain a piece of information that later turns out to be inaccurate. Never believe anything until you can verify it! You need to treat all verbal information — as well as most of the genealogy information on the internet — as “clues to what might be true.” Then, armed with this newly-found information, seek out an original record of the event that corroborates what you found earlier.
Once your tree starts bearing fruit, you will probably find that a computer can be a tremendous help in keeping track of all your people, events, and dates. Today’s computers and software are priced to fit most any budget, and they can save weeks and even months of work. If you decide to use a computer, it’s a good idea to choose a genealogy program sooner rather than later — even if you have collected only a few family details. These programs help to organize information about individual ancestors, as well as their relationships to others in the family tree. These programs will make it much easier for you to visualize the connections between people through their capability to automatically generate charts and even point out potential discrepancies.
Information about many genealogy programs may be found by starting at A list of Macintosh genealogy programs may be found at Genealogy Apps for Android and Chromebooks may be found at
A search for your family tree can be one of the most fascinating and rewarding pursuits of your life.
Who knows what you will find? Nobility? Heroes? Or horse thieves? Most of us can find all three in our ancestry. Who is lurking in your family tree?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

More adventures with AncestryDNA NADs - NADs Up/NADs Down - Update

This is starting to get real old, real quick. I understand that science moves forward and as we continue to research things will change. Lord only knows I have lived through three versions of AncestryDNA updates and a couple at FTDNA. But Ancestry should be ashamed of this NADs fiasco. To unleash the barrage of NADs on the heels of the v3 update without truly testing how the v3 would effect those NADs is nothing short of irresponsible.

How can I say that you ask?

I am one of those lucky folks to have tested both parents so in theory I should benefit from Ancestry phasing our autoomal DNA test. I'm not uncomfortable at this point with the v3 update although I still have high confidence false positives.

But those NADs I was hanging around five NADs before the update. When the NAD update hit that number jumped to 17. But the rub was only nine of them were shared by my parents. Eight of them were false postives. I immediately sent a support message to Ancestry. and now the big update again, I'm down to seven and my parents have all those NADs.

So here is the fallout of the bouncing NADs - pre v3 update - v3 update - current: 

My test                    5-17-7
My father              10-35-8
My mother              4-14-5
My wife                17-28-15
Wife's 2nd cousin 18-33-18
My 2nd cousin        9-14-4

My original article on the false NADs posted on my family blog at

Let's hope this is the last update for awhile at Ancestry, but I fear we have at least one more coming (that is the rumor I am hearing).

Come on folks I need a chance to catch up my documentation and I am tired of adding columns to my spreadsheet documenting your ups and downs. Please give this a rest for a while.

Here is Ancestry's response to my Facebook post on their FB page:

"Hi Larry, we apologize for any frustration you may have experienced with the New Ancestor Discoveries. In order to determine New Ancestor Discoveries, we created an algorithm with criteria that connects people to DNA Circles based on their DNA matches. This algorithm was created last year when we launched New Ancestor Discoveries and with the rapid growth of the DNA database, we are finding it needs to be updated.

"As DNA Circles get larger and more DNA matches are delivered, more people are connecting into the DNA Circles, which results in more New Ancestor Discoveries, but with a decrease in accuracy. So, we are updating the criteria to make it more conservative and increase the accuracy of New Ancestor Discoveries. This means you’ll need more connections into a DNA Circle to get a New Ancestor Discovery.

"These updates will result in a significant decrease in the number New Ancestor Discoveries, but with an increase in accuracy. We will continue to monitor and adjust this as necessary to ensure these provide meaningful discoveries for our members."

And then there is this explanation from Anna Swayne of Ancestry DNA:

"Previously, you needed to match at least 2 members of a known DNA Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. Now, users must match at least 3 members of a small (15 members or less) DNA Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. For larger DNA Circles (16+ members), users must match 20% of that Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. For example, if there is a DNA Circle of 10 people, you will need to match at least 3 people to get a New Ancestor Discovery. And if there is a DNA Circle of 30 people you will now need to match 6 people instead of 2."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More Family Finder Matches? Now FTDNA is Making Changes!

I haven't even begun to recover for the AncestryDNA v3 Update and now FTDNA is doing their own Family Finder autosomal algorithm update. My head is spinning for sure. Who's next? GEDMatch? DNA Land?
Thanks to Dr D Digs Up Ancestors blog at for the info below.
FTDNA project administrators will be getting notices soon that announce the following changes in the threshold Family Finder customers must meet in order to be matched with each other.
You asked for it - we listened!

For several years the genetic genealogy community has asked for adjustments to the matching thresholds in the Family Finder autosomal test. After months of research and testing, we have implemented some exciting changes effective very soon.
Currently, the current matching thresholds - the minimum amount of shared DNA required for two people to show as a match are:
     ● Minimum longest block of at least 7.69 cM for 99% of testers, 5.5 cM for the other one percent
     ● Minimum 20 total shared centiMorgans 

Some people believed those thresholds to be too restrictive, and through the years requested changes that would loosen those restrictions.

Soon, the following changes will have been implemented to the matching program.

     ● No minimum shared centiMorgans, but if the cM total is less than 20, at least one segment must be 9 cM or longer.

     ● If the longest block of shared DNA is greater than 9 cM, the match will show regardless of total shared cM or the number of matching segments.
The entire existing database has been rerun using the new matching criteria, and all new matches have been calculated with the new thresholds. 
Most people will see only minor changes in their matches, mostly in the speculative range. They may lose some matches but gain others.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

NADs and NADs and yes, even more NADs! But some of them aren't real?

AncestryDNA has gone nuts with NADs. The sad part is they just can't be trusted for anything useful in some cases aka false NAD matches.

So Larry you ask how do you know this outrageous fact. Hint here dear reader, I've tested both my parents and if they do not have those NADs that I have they can't be real right? Remember that Ancestry made a big deal about the fact that those of us who also tested our parents have had our results phased with their test to produce more accurate results and get rid of false positives - right!

So let me illustrate dear reader. Here are the current crop of NADs (they put a whole bunch on the street earlier this week).

Larry Van Horn 17 NADs (the son)

Elisabeth Defeld  (1819-1901)* Maternal
Virginie Devillier  (1821-1878)
Jane Dunlap   (1811-1873)* Paternal
Elinor Henson   (1787-1873)* Paternal
Faustin Hollier   (1812-1876)
Berryman Isom Jones  (1820-1896)* Paternal
John Doyle Lee   (1812-1877)
John Lynch   (1778-1863)* Paternal
Warren Lafayette Lynch  (1839-1916)
Jeremiah Meek   (1806-1856)* Paternal
Jeremiah V Meek   (1818-1893)
Johann Peter Meuth  (1809-1857)
Margaretha Meuth  (1843-1910)* Maternal
Frank Seidel   (1827-1893)* Maternal
Elizabeth Vest   (1820-1897)
Lueticia Ward   (1845-1883)
Licenia Watkins   (1824-1909)* Paternal

My Father 35 NADs

Henry C Begley   (1792-1854)
Levi Brookshire   (1830-1916)
John Laddie Bullock  (1844-1926)
Peter Richard Clement  (1840-1914)
Henry Heslip Davis  (1849-1931)
Emma D. Dixon   (1839-1909)
Jane Dunlap   (1811-1873)
Alfred Dye   (1842-1918)
Francis Kincannon Elliott (1813-1884)
James Millard Gilliland  (1856-1939)
Laura Emma Hall   (1860-1932)
Elinor Henson   (1787-1873)
Adah Belle Higby  (1853-1925)
Berryman Isom Jones  (1820-1896)
Nicie Elizabeth Kinnaird (1859-1925)
Anne Friedericke Kock  (1827-1894)
Reuben Layton   (1836-1892)
Louisa Jane Long  (1840-1933)
Eliza Clementine Lynch  (Born 1873)
John Lynch   (1778-1863)
Jonathan Brooks May  (1857-1923)
Jessie Alexander Mayhall (1835-1912)
Lucy Jane McAleer  (1856-1933)
Jeremiah Meek   (1806-1856)
Mary Cordelia Meek  (1847-1928)
Eliza Ann Plaster  (1839-1915)
Elizabeth Roberts  (1792-1837)
Mary Elizabeth Selvage  (1859-1947)
Morgan Joseph Smith  (1834-1911)
Johann Heinrich Staack  (1817-1894)
Licenia Watkins   (1824-1909)
Elisabeth "Lizzie" Yeilding (1852-1884)

My Mother 14 NADs

Elisabeth Defeld  (1819-1901)
Ruben Theodore "Fred" Farthing (1854-1932)
Faithia Futrell   (1808-1887)
Green Berry McCormick  (1848-1930)
Johann Peter Meuth  (1809-1857)
Margaretha Meuth  (1843-1910)
Levi William Pitts  (1838-1880)
Martha Jane Prater  (1837-1930)
Frank Seidel   (1827-1893)
Rebecca Singleton  (1850-1912)
James Storm   (1786-1863)
Telitha Surginer  (1842-1912)
James Vaughn   (1804-1857)
James Vinson   (1804-1884)

And the results? Eight of the NADs I have nearly 50% are not shared with either of my parents.

Not good for someone's test that has been supposedly phased with his parents AncestryDNA tests.

BTW I am also working up a list of false matches that I still have even after AncestryDNA's new phasing algorithm. That isn't looking so good either.

AncestryDNA is not having a good week in my eyes for sure.

More AncestryDNA Wierdness - Check Your Removed Matches

Well this is really weird. This morning while cleaning up my 4th Cousin AncestryDNA matches and above, I opened my Removed Matches folder. I carefully manage this folder only placing those matches that do not have any tree linked to it in this folder.

Now imagine my surprise this morning when I open up removed matches and discovered this:

If you click on that graphic you will see blue dot matches, bunches of them. What appears to have happened is all the matches that I placed in the removed folder had its status changed by Ancestry's computers to not viewed (blue dot on). And to add insult to injury all those matches in that folder that had notes . . . the notes are gone.

OK Ancestry, what gives with this glitch. Now I have my test eight pages of matches to sort through again and make notes on matches that I have already looked at and made notes on. I haven't checked my five other testers but no doubt I will be slugging through them as well. Thanks Ancestry but no thanks. And then there are the NADs, but that is the next post.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Customer Testing Begins on New AncestryDNA Chip

And now the second of what I expect are three shoes to drop re: AncestryDNA testing. Rumor has it that the third shoe still hanging out there might be an ethnic mix update.

Post from the Ancestry blog on 12 May 2016:

The science and technology powering the AncestryDNA test, which helps people better understand themselves and where they come from, is always evolving. We are constantly seeking new and better ways to provide insights into your past and to help you uncover the stories and relationships that have come together to make you who you are. As part of that focus on continual improvement, starting next week, we will begin to use a new DNA test chip for the AncestryDNA test.

The new chip, with approximately 700,000 DNA markers, has been designed to help us refine our ability to provide insight into your ethnic and geographic origins and your family’s genetic history. In the four years since we launched AncestryDNA, we have learned that some markers, also known as SNPs, in DNA are better indicators of ethnic and geographic origins than others, so we have created this new chip to focus on those signals and enable further refinements to the results. This will provide further improvements to the ethnicity results we provide. For example, many of the markers that were picked for the new chip were selected because they provide greater insight into non-European populations. In addition, they strengthen our ability to provide matches to cousins who have also taken an AncestryDNA test. Altogether, the changes we have made to the new chip will enable us to provide more of the ethnicity and family story insights you have come to expect from us.

The new chip also includes some markers associated with health. Although we don’t currently offer health or diagnostic products to our customers, DNA data is used to improve our products and develop new ones, and for customers who have explicitly agreed, in external research to further understand human history and improve human health. We continue to explore the possibility of developing health products in the future, and may do so with proper regulatory and legal approval.

The data derived from this new chip is backward compatible with the tests that were done on the prior chip. This means that features like DNA cousin matching will work seamlessly for all our customers. It also means that if you’ve already taken an AncestryDNA test, you don’t need to take a new test for the existing features of our service to continue to work.

We are excited to be taking this step with AncestryDNA. We are confident that it will help us continue to refine the value we provide to our customers, offering more insights into the history of your families and connecting you with relatives you never knew before. We’re also excited by the possibilities it opens up for new products in the future.

Roberta Estes at DNAeXplained elaborates on all this at

Saturday, May 7, 2016

AncestryDNA's updated matching algorithms - Some before and after analysis

Found this interesting article on the Cruwys news blog. It has some analysis of their results from the AncestryDNA algorithm update at

I am about half way through updating my personal test results after the v3 update. I can definitely see some change and some improvement in IBD matching. I am one of those who probably benefited the most with this update thanks to have tested both my parents and the implementation of their new phasing algorithm instituted with this update.

Having said that I still have false matches including a close in 4th cousin, good confidence, 29.5 cM/2 segment match that neither of my parents has.

Right now I have two support tickets into AncestryDNA Tech Support for matching issues that defy all logic. Sometimes that computer most be drinking heavily! ;-)

In case you haven't seen the new matching criteria, here is what Ancestry has posted in their help files for this v3 update.

And here are the shared cM levels for various relationships now.

I will be doing some additional updates here on the FRB Blog as I complete the updates for my testing. But in the meantime, here are some initial statistics before and after AncestryDNA v3 application.

Larry Van Horn (this is me)
Before Update: 82 Leaf Matches, 124 4th Cousins, 18 DNA Circles, 5 NADs, 111 Pages
After Update: 93 Leaf matches (+11), 146 4th Cousins (+22), 16 DNA Circles (-2), 5 NADs, 138 Pages

My Father Warner Lee
Before Update: 138 Leaf Matches, 213 4th Cousins, 10 DNA Circles, 10 NADs, 160 Pages
After Update: 128 Leaf Matches (-10), 220 4th Cousins (+7), 12 DNA Circles (-2), 10 NADs, 170 Pages

My Mother Gloria Ann
Before Update: 24 Leaf Matches, 165 4th Cousins, 8 DNA Circles, 4 NADs, 107 Pages
After Update: 22 Leaf Matches (-2), 201 4th Cousins (+36), 4 DNA Circles (-4), 4 NADS, 134 Pages

My 2nd Cousin Jerilyn
Before Update: 76 Leaf Matches, 249 4th Cousins, 4 DNA Circles, 9 NADs, 205 Pages
After Update: 83 Leaf Matches (+7), 373 4th Cousins (+124), 4 DNA Circles (n/c), 9 NADs, 252 Pages

My Wife Gayle
Before Update: 269 Leaf Matches, 512 4th Cousins, 24 DNA Circles, 17 NADs, 217 Pages
After Update: 280 Leaf Matches (+11), 549 4th Cousins (+37), 21 DNA Circles (-3), 17 NADS, 238 Pages

Gayle's 2nd Cousin Bryan
Before Update: 166 Leaf Matches, 598 4th Cousins, 14 DNA Circles, 18 NADs, 232 Pages
After Update: 165 Leaf Matches (-1), 621 4th Cousins (+23), 15 DNA Circles (+1), 18 NADS, 258 Pages

Some of these numbers continue to fluctuate. Two days ago I watch the number of 4th cousins on my test page change several times during the day from 149 to 147 and back up to 149. It changed like this back and forth all day long. This morning it is back down to 147 for now.

I did lose five MRCA matches, but most were down there a bit in the weeds so to speak. Here are the casualties of the v3 update.

Moderate 5.1cM/1 8GGP Cornelius Dabney-Susannah Swann
Moderate 5.5cM/1 7GGF Heinrich Furrer-Russena Rosser
Moderate 5.7cM/1 7GGP John Chalfant-Dorothy Adams
Moderate 6cM/1    5GGM Margaret McCarter-1st husband William Motley
Good       8.8cM/1 7GGP William Hurt-Anne Stennard

Also if you have not done so be sure as soon as possible download your deleted v2 matches from Ancestry. Roberta Estes on her blog at has all the instructions to perform this function so I won't repeat it here. Remember in order to have this v2 deleted file prior to the update if you starred or noted matches, and if those matches got deleted during the Ancestry update, Ancestry created that spreadsheet file for you to download.  It’s located under your setting gear wheel, to the right of your name.

More to follow, the analysis continues . . .

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New AncestryDNA Matching Update Now Online

We have been waiting for a couple of weeks now and as of minutes ago, all my testers pages and those of my cousins who have shared their pages with me have been updated.  I will have more on all this very soon.

Here is the accompanying supporting text:
AncestryDNA’s Cutting-Edge Science Gets Even Sharper

  We’re excited to share some of the advancements we’ve made to the science of finding your relatives through DNA, commonly referred to as DNA matching.
 Today, we’re rolling out an update to AncestryDNA that improves the precision of our DNA matching. And the good news for our AncestryDNA customers is, this update is free and has already been applied to your results.
 With the world’s largest consumer DNA database—1.5 million people and growing—plus the millions of family trees contributed by Ancestry members, we have been able to significantly improve the accuracy and quality of your DNA matching results.

What’s New?

- More precise matching—We can identify DNA connections with a better level of precision and accuracy than was possible before.
- More DNA matches—With this update, we have added more than 900 million cousin connections for DNA customers. And, you’ll continually get new connections since we have the largest consumer DNA database that is growing all the time.
- More time saved—We are providing an email notification for new 4th cousins or closer DNA matches so you won’t miss a thing.
 What to Expect

We’ve improved the confidence levels in estimating relationships by extending the comparison methods to potentially find longer segments of DNA shared between individuals. Individual results will vary, but because of this, you may see some DNA matches that were previously predicted to be more closely related to you at a higher confidence drop down in your list or no longer appear. Also, you may have new DNA matches that you haven’t seen before. If you have taken notes or "starred" a DNA match that no longer appears on your new list, you can download information about that previous match for a limited time from the DNA test settings page.
 To learn more about the confidence score for your DNA matches, check out our updated DNA Help article, "What does the match confidence score mean?" You can find this Help article on your DNA matches page by clicking on the question mark in the right-hand corner of the page.
 Have more questions? Read the frequently asked questions on this update.

Don’t Miss a New Discovery

With this update, we have also added a new weekly email that will notify you of 4th cousin matches (or closer). So, as new people take the AncestryDNA test, you can find out if a new close cousin is found.  
 If you haven’t opted in for notifications, it’s easy to do through the settings for your DNA test. Get the step-by-step instructions on how to do this here. If you manage multiple AncestyDNA tests in your account, you can set your preferences for each test.

  Advances in the Science
Phasing, trios, haplotypes, oh my. The AncestryDNA science team continues to make advances in the complex science of genetic genealogy. With this update, we’ve extended the areas in the genome that we analyze, so we can find larger areas of matching DNA. The new algorithm includes more diverse DNA than ever before, including many populations outside the U.S. In addition to that, we have now added more known DNA-tested parent and child (duo sets) and known DNA-tested parents (both Mom and Dad) and child (trio sets) to the process to make our phasing even more accurate. A big thanks to the AncestryDNA customers who are not just taking the test themselves but also encouraging parents and other close family members to take the AncestryDNA test.

What Makes These Advances Possible?

The short answer is that the 1.5-million people taking the DNA test plus the family trees they share are enabling new findings in the science of how we’re all related. Each person who takes the DNA test is connected into the vast family network of people using AncestryDNA. With each observation of relatedness in that DNA network, along with the confirmation of the family connections, our scientists are finding new methods to better predict who and how we’re related.
 We only know what we know with current data and research. As the database grows, what we know about our genetics and relationships grows with it.
 To learn more about the science behind this exciting update, our team has shared more of the technical details on our Tech Roots blog. Read it all here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

AncestyDNA and FTDNA Sales - Get'em while it is cheap

As some of you may know, National DNA Day is April 25th, and commemorates the day in 1953 when a paper detailing the structure of DNA was published in Nature magazine. It also recognizes the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.

Ancestry is having a DNA sale to commemorate DNA day. DNA Day Sale for AncestryDNA. Only $79 and free shipping if you use the FREESHIPDNA code. Click below -

At  Family Tree DNA, they are also celebrating the DNA day accomplishments by having a sale on DNA tests for genealogy! 

FTDNA is launching their much-anticipated DNA Day Sale. which will extend through Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (11:59 PM Central).

The prices are below, and are valid on new tests and add-ons only. Discounts do not combine with existing group discounts. Upgrades will be discounted in June.

Retail Pricing
   Sale Price
Family Finder
mtFull Seq
SNP Packs
mtDNA plus
Not on Sale

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New Advances in DNA Science Coming Your Way

From the Blog posted this afternoon:

Posted by on April 20, 2016 in AncestryDNA
We’ve been refining and expanding the science behind DNA matching to find your relatives. And we’ve got some exciting improvements coming your way soon.
These advancements are expected to deliver more-precise predictions of whom you are related to, and how closely, among the million-plus others in the AncestryDNA database. And we will be making this update for free to AncestryDNA customers.
What does this mean for you?
Your DNA match list will automatically show the new results when the update is available.
Of course, we can’t make your list of DNA matches more accurate without removing some of the less-accurate ones. So, while you’ll have new DNA matches to research, some of your current DNA matches may no longer appear as a relative. We’ll be providing a way for you to download DNA matches that you marked with a star or have added notes on the site that no longer appear on your updated list.
Also, if you recently sent in a DNA sample and are waiting for your results, your DNA matches will automatically include this update when your results are ready. While we complete the update for all existing customers, we will not be posting new results for this brief period of time. We appreciate your patience as we work to make these updates for all our AncestryDNA customers.
Stay tuned, we will provide an expanded update soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Update: Expect changes in your AncestryDNA results in next week or two.

As I mentioned in my previous post, changes are going to be made in Ancestry's Timber algorithm in the next week or two according to Blaine Bettinger in a post on his Genetic Genealogist blog.

Update: Action post from Roberta at DNAeXplained regarding this change.

I won't quote all of Blaine's post here, you can read it for yourself at, but here are some significant changes mentioned by him in his post.

Among the changes that are expected in this update are the following (bolding below is mine):
"•Phasing Improvement – AncestryDNA has significantly increased the reference haplotype set used for phasing prior to cousin matching, meaning that the quality of AncestryDNA’s phasing will increase. This should result in fewer phasing errors, and thus fewer lost matches and false positives."
"•Matching Improvement – AncestryDNA is changing how they identify matches between individuals. Previously, AncestryDNA was using “windows” or blocks of DNA to compare two individuals. They will now be used a SNP-based method to compare people. The problem with the previous method is that if the windows didn’t overlap a segment properly, they could either miss the segment entirely or shorten the segment. The SNP-based method will no longer miss or shorten these segments. As a result of this switch, it is expected that many matching segments will increase in size. The total shared cM with many, and possibly most, matches will increase."

"•Match Confidence Changes – there will also be a change to the matching thresholds/confidence scores; specifically, the relationship prediction thresholds will be more stringent. As a result, we will see some of our existing matches SHIFT; they will NOT be disappearing. Thus, we will NOT be losing any 2nd, 3rd, or 4th cousin matches, in the sense that these matches are gone. Instead, we will see some 2nds go to 3rd or 4th (possibly, but this will be a rare shift for most existing customers), see some 3rds go to 4th or distant (slightly less rare), and we will definitely see many 4ths go to the distant category."

Bottom line for me, at least, is that I will have to go back to every match entry in my database and update them all with the new information. I would suggest that you all record your current total page count for each of your test an then when the change is made, you will have a better understanding of when the change has been made and the impact on your total matches. Depending on your preference you may wish to hold off recording info in your spread sheets until after the latest changes are made. I will get a real good look at what changes are made thanks to all the info in my spreadsheet already.

So I am batting a thousand. Teach Ancestry in genealogy one of my genealogy classes and expect major changes after class is over.  Guess that keeps me in business. ;-)