A Few ThruLines Are False, and Some are Misleading

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

I made a spreadsheet of my 1,820 ThruLine Matches – to track and analyze them all. I found 86 were questionable (some of those 86 were clearly wrong, and others were iffy – I just didn’t have the information (or time) to sort it out. 86 is roughly 5% of the total, which means I agreed with 95% of my ThruLine Matches. Note a few of my Matches are double counted because they shared more than one Common Ancestor with me.

A high percentage of ThruLine Matches were good, giving me confidence in this tool.

Of my ThruLine Matches, 145 of them had uploaded to GEDmatch (or tested at other companies). I found one of the 145 (1.5%) had a false Shared Segment with me – it didn’t match a Triangulated Group on either side. I also found that 15 of these Matches (10%) with segment info had TG segments with me which were on a different one of my grandparents than the ThruLine Common Ancestor. This is not necessarily an error by ThruLines (the Match is very likely still a genealogy cousin on the ThruLines Common Ancestor), but in each case the DNA Shared Segment indicated we should have another Common Ancestor on a line from one of my other grandparents. Most of the 15 Matches were on the wrong side – the ThruLines Common Ancestor was on one side, and the Shared DNA Segment was on the other side.

So, from this small sample, about 10% of the ThruLines Common Ancestors may be misleading from a genetic (or chromosome mapping) point of view.


[22AK] Segment-ology: A Few ThruLines Are False, and Some are Misleading TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729e

ThruLines Helps with Y-DNA and mtDNA

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

When ThruLines finds a Common Ancestor between you and a Match, it provides the picture: The Common Ancestor at the top with the line of descent to you and the line of descent to your Match. Click on the left side of your Match’s Profile to open this diagram of descent.

Pay attention to this line of descent to your Match. Is it an unbroken all-male line down to the Match (every man would have the same Y-DNA, including the Common Ancestor), or is it an unbroken all-female line down to the Match’s mother (every person would have the same mtDNA back to the Common Ancestor’s wife (usually also a Common Ancestor)?  I’ve found a number of these cases, some to be very important to my research. Two of my ThruLine Matches carry the mtDNA of two distant female Brick Wall Ancestors. These are generally very hard to find – but it’s obvious from a quick look at the ThruLine diagram. Three of my ThruLine Matches carry the Y-DNA of our Common Ancestors. Sometimes the Match is excited about helping establish the mt or Y DNA haplogroup or “signature” of our Common Ancestor – other Matches couldn’t be bothered… I offer to help the ones willing to test.

And even if the unbroken all-male or all-female line only comes down to the Match’s parent or even to the grandparent – an interested Match may know of close, living relatives who may continue the line and be willing to test. For me, it’s certainly worth mentioning to the Match.

ThruLines may help you find mtDNA or Y-DNA candidates that might be helpful to you.


[22AJ] Segment-ology: ThruLines Helps with Y-DNA and mtDNA TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729d

Add ThruLines Info Into Match Notes

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

Each Match has a place under the Match name to enter notes into a Notes box. Only you can see these Notes. They can be very helpful. I’ve blogged about them here and here.

I’ve been adding the info from all my ThruLines Matches into the Notes. For example the Notes box may start with:

#A0018P/3C1R: NEWLON/ALLEN > Salathiel

This tells me the Ahnentafel number of the Common Ancestor is 18. In Ahnentafel “speak” this means this Ancestor is related to me: 18 > 9 > 4 > 2 > 1. I am #1, my father is #2, my father’s father is #4, my father’s father’s mother is #9, and her father is #18. I add the “P” for Paternal side because with large Ahnentafel numbers, I lose track which side they are on;>j The 3C1R is shorthand for 3rd cousin once removed. And then I type the two surnames of the Common Ancestor Couple. And I often included descendants on the Match’s side down to an Ancestor in the Match’s Tree – just so I don’t have to reinvent that path later, and to have it handy for my reference. Handy is good when you are dealing with thousands of Matches. Matches with Common Ancestors are usually in short supply (and they are like gold!), so I don’t mind adding a little extra in the Notes about them.

Note: the #A is used to allow searches with the MEDBetterDNA Chrome Extension.

Help yourself by recording ThruLines info in the Notes boxes – they will help you later.


[22AL] Segment-ology: Add ThruLines Info Into Match Notes TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729

ThruLines and Clusters and Snowballs

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

The process using Match Notes and identifying Clusters (see blog post here) has a snowball effect. Other Matches in the Shared Match list are more likely to have the same ancestry. Check this by clicking on one of those Matches (for whom you don’t yet have a Common Ancestor) and seeing if a lot of their Shared Matches form a Cluster – sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Focus on when they do! Focus on Matches who Cluster with several Shared Matches you’ve already connected with the same branch of your Tree. If the target Match has a small Tree, I have often been able to look at the tips of their Tree and recognize a collateral name from my previous research on my Tree branch. Or to find a location that leads me to research and extend a branch of their Tree. Or to add a few more descendants in my own Tree branch…

When a Match has several Shared Matches for whom you’ve already identified the same ancestral line, the probability is high that that Match will tie into the same ancestral line.

Snowball ThruLines to Notes to Shared Matches to Clusters to Common Ancestors with more Matches.


[22AN] Segment-ology: Use Match Notes from ThruLines to identify Clusters TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729

Use Match Notes from ThruLines to Identify Clusters

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

When you add ThruLine info to a Match’s Notes box, it can be very helpful. When this ThruLine info is the initial entry in the Notes box, it is then visible when viewed in a list of Shared Matches. This makes it easy to scan down a list of Shared Matches and quickly determine if there is a clear thread – a Cluster – there. This is confirming evidence that we are on the right track. And I add a line in my Notes to the effect that X number of other Matches all agree on the same line of my Ancestry.

Type ThruLine info into Match Notes to find Clusters of Matches.


[22AM] Segment-ology: Use Match Notes from ThruLines to identify Clusters TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729

ThruLines Has X-ray Vision

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

AncestryDNA’s new ThruLines automatically finds Common Ancestor(s) – out to 5xGreat grandparents.

AND, because AncestryDNA can also see the Private Trees, it can find Common Ancestors you cannot see – it’s like ThruLines has X-ray vision! If your Match’s Private Tree is searchable, it will even show you the path to the Common Ancestor (otherwise it will show Private for each generation back to the Common Ancestor). This is a very powerful feature. Many of us complain about all the Private Trees.

Well… now ThruLines looks right into them for us and determines our Common Ancestor(s). ThruLines works to find these Private Matches even when they have small Trees, but have an Ancestor who is also in your Tree as a descendant of one of your Ancestors (see previous post about adding children and grandchildren). If you think you know how a Private Match might be related to you (say, by finding several Shared Matches, all on one of your lines), try adding some more descendants in that part of your Tree and wait a day or two. This also helps in developing larger groups of Shared Matches and identifying more Matches in Clusters.

Use ThruLines to find Common Ancestors with Matches who have Private Trees!


[22AI] Segment-ology: ThruLines Has Xray Vision TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729

Help ThruLines by Adding Children and Grandchildren

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

Many of us complain about the small Trees of our Matches. Well, with a little help from you, ThruLines can still find Common Ancestor(s).

Your important task:

Add the children of your Ancestors to your Tree. Actually, add the grandchildren of your Ancestors, too! ThruLines will connect the dots – it will match an Ancestor in the small tree of your Match to a grandchild in your Tree and show you the Common Ancestor you both have. ThruLines will draw the picture from you to the Common Ancestor and from your Match to his/her known ancestor, who matches a grandchild in your tree and then extend the Match’s ancestry back to the Common Ancestor, too.

I’ve actually watched this work. I was working in ThruLines for one of my Ancestors with a group of Matches, and I entered the children and grandchild of the Ancestor into my Tree (which I had originally set up just with Ancestors). The green “EVALUATE” tag disappeared for Match Ancestors I had entered, and often Private Ancestors turned into named Ancestors. In some cases, almost immediately, new ThruLine Matches appeared – in other cases new Matches showed up in a day or two.

Help ThruLines do the work by adding descendants of your Ancestors to your Tree!


[22AH] Segment-ology: Help ThruLines by Adding Children and Grandchildren TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729

ThruLines Finds Your Common Ancestors

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

ThruLines Finds Your Common Ancestors

AncestryDNA’s new feature, ThruLines, replaces the Circles* – sort of. TLs are in, Circles are out. Like Circles did before, ThruLines does the genealogy work for you and finds your Common Ancestor(s) with a Match. Currently it does this out to your 5xGreat grandparents (at the 6th cousin level). Circles were formed out the 7xG grandparents (the 8th cousin level). Let’s hope AncestryDNA will extend ThruLines out that far too. In any case ThruLines shows your line and your Match’s line back to the Common Ancestor. (more on this important feature in another post).

You have two important tasks to make ThruLines as effective as possible:

  1. Build your Tree out to as many 5xG grandparents as you can. (While you’re at it, extend your Tree to 7xG grandparents, where you can, in the hopes that AncestryDNA will use them in the future.)
  2. Use only the basic standard names for ancestors, dates and places. Enter John JONES, not John, the Immigrant, JONES or Capt John JONES or Reverend John JONES – just John JONES. A computer will be comparing your names to the names entered by others. Your best bet for a match is when you both use the same names. TIP: if you want to note nicknames, use: aka Sally rather than: “Sally” – I’ve heard the quotes often throws the computer off. TIP: I’ve also heard that surnames in CAPS is often better. The same standardization is true for dates – the best is 4 Jul 1776 format, which is a good standard for genealogy. Don’t use “after 1775, but sometime maybe before 1777” – the computer has a hard time with that and sometimes doesn’t make a match. If you say Virginia and your Match says Colonial Virginia or British Colony, the computer may or may not connect the dots.

To get ThruLines to do the work for you, build out your Tree and use standard nomenclature.

* Edited to correct an error: replaced “Shared Ancestry Hints” and “SAH” with “Circles”

[22AG] Segment-ology: ThruLines Finds Your Common Ancestors TIDBIT by Jim Bartlett 20190729, Edit 20190730