Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tracking My DNA Matches

I have read blogs and watch webinars about this subject and have decided to throw my hat into the ring.

My DNA situation may be different than yours; mine involves figuring out who my biological maternal grandfather and all his ancestors. Plus I want to track my known matches, all those matches that I finally figured out how they fit in my tree. I like finding living relatives and adding those lines to my tree.

I have developed a two-step approach. My first step was to create a DNA field in my genealogy software program. I use Family Tree maker and created this DNA field as a description field only. 

Then I input one of three values into this description field.
  • Common Ancestor - for the person who ends up being the closest common ancestor between my DNA match and me.
  • DNA Match: along with the common ancestor(s) name(s) – this is entered in the person who had the test done
  • DNA Connection: along with the common ancestor(s) name(s) – this is entered in each direct descendant between the Common Ancestor and the DNA match.

I am able to generate a custom report based on my DNA field and filter in only those individuals who have DNA Match entered into the DNA Field. This handy report is sorted by the DNA Match description and thus I can quickly see all the people who share a certain Common Ancestor.

Step two was to create a spreadsheet to help track some of this information. The spreadsheet helps me determine who our common ancestor might be. It also helps me see at a glance, all the people I have yet to figure out in my pedigree.

I decided to call this spreadsheet “Index of Ancestors”. In the first tab, I made a list of all my ancestors. I also decided to use the standard numbering system for ancestors, where I am number 1, my father is twice my number and my mother is twice plus one and I continue back each generation in this manner. I also wanted to see how many ancestors I was looking for to match up to 8th cousins.  Since I didn’t know my biological maternal grandfather, I decided to enter that in RED to stick out a little. I also used some color coding to aid in viewing my legend a little easier.

Each additional tab represents a different generation.

In each of these tabs, I start off with a list of the common ancestor of that generation. I copied the section from the first tab and placed it into the top of the proper generation tab. Below the list of common ancestors, I want to track who are my DNA matches. Since I have tested with each of the major DNA companies and I use GedMatch too, I wanted to track which company or companies they tested with. In the below example of my “3rd Cousins” tab, you can see I have entered one known 3rd cousin match and listed our common ancestor as ancestors 16 & 17. I don’t know her actual first name, but based on her Ancestry tree, I know her father’s last name was Linder. I have also included the line of descent from our common ancestor down to her.  

This is a new process I am trying with the spreadsheet. So far I really like the visual effect it is giving me. I now need to use that report I generated from my Genealogy software program and input my matches into the proper generation of my Index of Ancestor’s spreadsheet.

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