Monday, July 17, 2017

Exploring Color Coding and Filters with FTM 2017

Family Tree Maker 2017 has introduced color coding. There are some limitations but as with any limitations, this means we need to get creative.

First of all, basic color coding allows you to color code an individual person, all their ancestors one color, all their ancestors four predefined colors, all their descendants one color or you can clear the all color coding or just one of the color coding options by clicking the gray x box in front.

Please note, when you select the All Ancestors (4 colors) it will color code the grandparent’s line of the selected person. Therefore to remove those colors, either select Clear All Colors (this will delete all color coding in your entire database, not just the ancestors) or go back to the primary selected person you turned on the all ancestors (4 colors) with and click the gray box in front of All Ancestors (4 colors).

Also note there are only 8 colors to choose from. If you use four for your ancestor’s lines, this will only leave four for other things. This is the limitations I am talking about. Therefore you might find yourself turning on and off various colors.

I have my files color coded and thus I manually color coded each of my grandparent’s ancestors with a color that matches their file folders. These were different than the pre-defined                                                                      All Ancestors (4 colors).
You can also create a filter, save and name the filter and color code that saved filter list. You will find the filter option at the bottom of your name index that appears on your tree view.

Click the Filter button and then the Filter Individuals will display. Next click the “Filter In…>” button to select your filter criteria.

Here is where you can get creative, perhaps you want a filter of everyone born in a certain state. 


I wanted a filter of all my DNA Matches and their direct ancestors going back to our shared Ancestor. I created a DNA fact for this information.

Therefore I click the radio button next to All Facts and scroll down and select my DNA fact. Next I want to select anyone who has something written in this fact, so I scoll down and select “Is not blank”. My fact is only using the description  field, however if your fact has a date, place and/or description, don’t forget to select the information you want to check.  Then I select OK.

This will popluate the right side of the Filter Individual box with all that match my criteria. I have found 335 individuals of my 10462 individuals in my tree. I then click Apply.


This changes my Index view to just those 335 individuals.  I will then click the SAVE button to save this filter. I have a Save List box come up where I can give it a Name and I can choose a color. Please note you don’t have to choose a color but this is where you can. Then I click Save


Now my Index of names has my filter and each one is color coded. (see picture on left) I can uncheck the “Apply” box and my filter is still color coded but my Index of names now shows all my names (see picture on right).

So I decided to create a Filter List of My Direct Ancestors with no color.  When I look at my new Filter list, I can see which ancestors my DNA matches seem to be matching up with. They are all the ones with the additonal light blue dots. If any of my grandparents had shared ancestors, I would see that they would have more than one color dot (excluding the light blue dot which represents my DNA Matches filter).  Another limitation of FTM is that each person can only have a max of four colors. Therefore if you have a common ancestor that all four of grandparents go back to and you share DNA from this same ancestor, you will only see four of the five colors that this person would have.

Finally, lets say you have lots of filters and you want to turn on and off the color of the filter.

If you select the down arrow next to your Saved Lists and select “Manage List”, All your Managed list will show. Just either click a new color or the gray x to turn off the color and click okay.


One final note, if you add someone or some fact that would apply to an existing filter. You will need to remove the filter and regenerate the filter to get the new person added to the filter. Notice the Plus and Minus signs, clicking the minus sign will remove the saved filter list.

Filters are different than if you color code your ancestors, if you add a new ancestor to your tree, it will be assigned the proper color. However, it will not be automatically added to “My Direct Ancestor”  filter.

Filters can be tricky, when I created my My Direct Ancestors filter, I was prompted for how many generations to go back, whether I want to include all parents or only preferred parents, include all spouses or only preferred spouses. 

This can get tricky if your ancestors were married multiple times. If you are not sure if you have selected your direct ancestor as the preferred parent and/or the preferred spouse (if they were actually a spouse), you might want to be sure to select “Include All” on both options.  Since I only wanted my direct ancestors, I did not chose the descendants of my ancestor. 

Experiment with the filter options and have fun.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Uncovering my biological grandfather

I have written about my mother’s illegitimate birth back in July of 2013 in the previous post titled My Mother’s Secret.

I have been using DNA testing in the hopes of finding my biological maternal grandfather. Having half-siblings has made uncovering my grandfather a little easier since matches between me and my half-siblings must be my mother’s side. My mother was left a young widow with 6 children. She remarried and I am the youngest from the second husband. Thus I have tested two of my half siblings, one full sister along with my test has aided in figuring out who my biological grandfather is.

Along this journey, I have found some clues in my matches. In August of 2016 I wrote about some of my common matches in a post titled DNA Matches.

Of the common ancestors, my closest possible ancestors appeared to be the possibility that my 3rd great-grandparents are Peter Pedelty and Mary Alderson. I theorized that one of their great-grandsons was a good candidate for being my maternal grandfather. Thus, this started my journey of researching the descendants of Peter and Mary.

It wasn’t until two key relatives finally did their DNA test and they showed up in my matches. Actually they showed up better in my half-brother matches as his 2nd cousin matches. 

The first match, we will call Hiltz based on my grandmother’s maiden name was a known cousin of my mother through her mother. It’s wonderful to have a known close relative who tested. 

The other match, we will call Pedelty was an unknown cousin that appeared to be through my maternal grandfather’s side of the family, her tree left off where my Pedelty tree began.


I have been reading that 2nd cousins who share a common ancestor should match each other. I ran the “shared matches” option through AncestryDNA and they did not match each other. They did match each of my siblings and thus I knew this had to be a match on my mother’s side. I also noticed that the Hiltz match was matching my Hiltz relatives while the Pedelty match was matching some of Peter and Mary’s descendants along with some new matches. Again, since I knew the one match was my maternal grandmother’s side, the other match only left my maternal grandfather’s side. Along with the tree that left off where my Pedelty tree began, I started to look at the man that was her great grandfather. 

I also noticed that the Pedelty match, in-spite of being in the same category as the Hiltz match, Pedelty has about 1/2 of the shared centimorgans and DNA segments. Plus my Family Tree Maker genealogy program shows my Hiltz match as 1st Cousin 1x removed while my Pedelty match as Half 1st Cousin because she descends from the possible half sister of my mother. Which would explain the difference in centimorgans and DNA segments. 

For my theory to be valid, I needed to look at the parents of this man. His mother descends from Peter and Mary and thus I looked at his father, John Tyler. John’s parent’s George and Sarah had at least 10 children. One of their daughters, Mary Margaret married a man named George Platts. I have several of their descendants on my shared DNA matches list. They also match my Pedelty match.


Thus my breakthrough was only possible because of two cousins, all on their own, without knowing that I have been waiting for this day, decided to have their DNA tested at AncestryDNA. I look forward to sharing this wonderful discovering with my siblings and we can finally put a rest on who is the man who fathered my mother. 

Please note: I have kept the name of my grandfather off this post because I am unsure how much if any information his descendants know of the illegitimate birth of my mother. Since I only discovered this about 5 years ago, I can only surmise that they too have no knowledge of this information. He is in my tree that is attached to my DNA test and I guess I will let the discovery come out slowly.