Category Archives: Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com Puzzle

I have always wondered if it was possible to put two names within the surname field in Ancestry.com and not screw up the searching algorithms in Ancestry. Everyone I have ever asked either doesn’t know or says try it and see. Ya well, time marches on and then tonight I accidentally copied a record with a graphic character in the name field. And the copy took!

See the funny character after my grandfather’s name? That is some kind of a UTF-8 or UTF-16 character that can be copied from place to place! Yes, I know it is a picture of a DNA strip. I can envision hanging this character on my DNA match people.

But meanwhile, my original question has yet to be answered. Is it possible to put two names in a surname field, like for example “Tenorio Franich”? If it is, there should be no difference if the surname field contained a regular name followed by a space followed by that funny character above.

I will try to place it here: “Robeson 🧬” . Humm, this blog system takes it. Trust me, it shows up in color some places, and not others. The important thing is that Ancestry shows it in color. Perhaps you too, if you are so inclined, can copy it from here and use it in your own Ancestry tree! Give it a go… 🧬 🧬 🧬

Meanwhile, can someone answer my original question?

And now I need to see if I can find a list of all the possible UTF-8/16 characters. There might be a different picture that we could use, like a ball, or bullet, or whatever. possibilities abound.

Haplogroup teasers

According to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, a haplogroup is a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on either their paternal (Y-DNA) or maternal (mitochondrial) lines.

Not every DNA testing companies show us our haplogroups. AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and FamilyTreeDNA kits do not test for the specific SNPs required to determine haplogroup, while 23andMe and Living DNA do test segments of the mtDNA and Y-chromosome and display our haplogroups and, most importantly, those of our shared matches.

FTDNA also includes Y haplogroup and mtDNA haplogroup information, only if you buy specific tests related to those traits. Gedmatch displays haplogroup info that is self-reported.

I have found the haplogroup information displayed automatically at 23andMe to be invaluable in some of my research.  In a future DNA Discussion meeting, I will give a show-n-tell of how this additional information helped unlock puzzles in our family trees.

Meanwhile, when searching the internet for haplogroup information, I found this page which has lots of comparative details about the various DNA testing companies.  Eupedia is a great sight for exploring.  And this page in particular should interest most everyone who has read this far!  Do page through it.

https://www.eupedia.com/genetics/which_ancestry_dna_test_to_choose.shtml


My Y-DNA haplogroup is I1a-​A13294 and my mitochondrial haplogroup is ​H1e1a.


Using our tools

MoCoGenSo’s DNA Discussion Group will be meeting Wednesday with an open forum. Join us via Zoom. Feel free to drop in for conversation and stay for lunch.

They say that the pandemic has given lots of folks extra time these days to work on their genealogy. Perhaps, but there is still never enough time.

The wife and I have done our DNA tests at the “big 4” of course, and every so often I make the rounds looking for new matches. Never underestimate that auto-tree at 23andMe.com – it can be full of surprises. Once built, the tree remains static. But you can and should refresh the tree periodically. It is a pain to figure out how to refresh it, but it can be done via the help system.

We discovered a new branch of 4 cousins in my wife’s refreshed tree the other day that contained people we had never heard of before and the branch was placed in an impossible position. After a couple of weeks of sleuthing, we have decided that the stories about her grandfather’s escapades were true! How else can you have a half first cousin show up out of nowhere!

23andMe.com provides lots of information about DNA matches that are really useful in solving puzzles. Birth year, haplogroups, shared matches, triangulation, etc. Add a subscription to Ancestry.com to the mix for source searching and you can solve lots of thorny NPEs. Ancestry.com has tree building and a bigger match base, but 23andMe.com provides so many more DNA tools. You really need to test at both places.

The centimorgans Tool at DNA Painter is invaluable at justifying tree placement. In addition, Genetic Affairs can create an extremely useful cluster analysis from 23andMe data. I ran their Auto Cluster tool on the wife’s 23andme Me data and am still finding new information.

The MoCoGenSo DNA Discussion meetings are a better place to talk about this stuff. I hate typing…. Perhaps I can show-n-tell this case at some future meeting. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to learning about Gail Burk’s methods used at tomorrow’s meeting. See you tomorrow noon on Zoom.

DNA Discussions Wednesday Noon: Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 897 1823 5118
Passcode: 738495



Proving family tree with DNA

Recently I decided to try and see if I could “prove” parts of my family tree by finding DNA cousins who linked to my paternal line via Y-DNA and my maternal line via Mitochondrial DNA. I figured it would be easy.

My AncestryDNA account has the most matches, so I decided to start there. I was in for a surprise! It isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Y-DNA is passed only from father to son. Using Thrulines in Ancestry, I went back to my 2nd great grandfather Andrew Robeson and began to look for matches that were male to male all the way to now. I found only one line out of 12 that was fully male from Andrew, but even it ended in a female 3C1R cousin. So I sent her an email asking if she had brothers who had done DNA test who knew their Y haplogroup. Well, she did have a brother who even had a son, but she didn’t know if he had done DNA. She would ask… arghh

The Mitochondrial side was even more frustrating. I did find a 2C2R cousin who is female and descended female to female from my great grandmother. Hooray, I thought, she is a true Irish Mito person! I sent her an email, but she is one of these non-responders. Patience is required. Yes, she is the only one out of 25.

I turned to MyHeritage. The Theory of Family Relativity is useful when checking individuals, but I don’t see a way to selectively pick those who stem from a specific ancestor.

Some people talk about offering to buy a test for individuals in my tree who fit the requirements. Not me… I figure “crowd sourcing” (lots of autosomal matches) is good enough proof that I descended from Andrew Robeson and/or his wife!  My 2 Big-Y test cousins and I come from Scotland in the 1600s.  Of course, 3 different surnames are involved!  So who knows who came first: Robeson, Grierson or Marshall. 🙂

If you have success stories along these lines, come tell us at the DNA Discussion group on first-Wednesdays at noon. Look for Zoom details soon.


” Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison


Some disconnected and unrelated hints 

  1. If you are in a Zoom meeting on a Windows 10 computer and want to save something showing on the screen, it isn’t obvious how to do it.  To Capture your entire screen and automatically save the screenshot, tap the Windows key + Print Screen key. Your screen will briefly go dim to indicate that you’ve just taken a screenshot, and the screenshot will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots.
  1. Ancestry.com is a great site for building your genealogy tree.  I spend lots of time now adding descendants down to DNA matches.  Sometimes I want to send my new ‘cousin’ a relationship chart. There is a relationship chart built into Ancestry that is hidden!  In fact, I just found it the other day when poking around.  Go into the Profile page of the person in question.  In the upper section under the name there is a line that shows the persons relationship to you.  Click on it. Bingo!  Print to a PDF and save it, upload to the persons Gallery, email it, or print and save in your documentation notebook.
  1. In AncestryDNA if you want to easily look for new matches that you haven’t reviewed before, go to your Match List. Then filter your list by Unviewed.  I do this scan using the app in my iPad daily when eating breakfast!  There is a way to do this in MyHeritage, but it isn’t easy enough for breakfast. Use Sort by, then Most recent.

AncestryDNA’s health test is to be discontinued

Bloomberg News reports that Ancestry are discontinuing their health test after just over a year to focus on their core family tree business. This will lead to the loss of 77 jobs. These job losses are on top of the 100 redundancies announced in February 2020 which were attributed to “a slowdown in demand across the entire DNA category” now that “most early adopters have entered the category.”

It was announced in August that Ancestry was to be acquired by the investment company Blackstone. The $4.7 billion acquisition was duly completed in December 2020. At the same time, we learnt that Margo Georgiadis, Ancestry’s President & CEO, was going to leave the company at the end of 2020. A new CEO is expected to be appointed in early 2021 who will “drive the next phase of the company’s ongoing growth”.

Read more here: https://cruwys.blogspot.com/

Regarding These Sales

Personal views follow…

We advocate doing DNA tests for genealogical purposes.  DNA testing is not required to do excellent genealogical work, but it can help break some roadblocks or just help discover new cousins that have those long lost pictures!

But testing at just one company is like only fishing in just one pond.  Some of your relatives might pick a different sale this month, for example.  So I always recommend that you test at each of the “big 4”:  AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA.

That can get expensive!  That is why we always mention sales around here.

Picking which place to test is a subject best suited for our DNA Discussion Group.  But it is important that you remember that AncestryDNA and 23andMe do NOT accept data file uploads while MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA DO accept DNA data uploads at a considerable discount in price.  Perhaps testing at AncestryDNA or 23andMe first might be a good idea for some.


” L.O.C.K.S.S. ===> Lots of copies keep stuff safe.


Another Big Sale

AncestryDNA has joined the Black Friday competition!

The basic service is 40% off, you can get it for $59 (normally $99) thru Nov 25. There are other options that include the 3 month membership for only $60 or a more expensive one that includes the new Health service.

The 3-month membership for only $1 more is a good deal unless you already have an account with Ancestry. You can do 3 months of research like crazy and then cancel, or if you get addicted like me, continue with a renewal. Your DNA will remain online as will any tree you create.


New Scandinavian Cooking

When AncestryDNA recently announced that they were updating their ethnicity tables, I got all excited. I really like Scandinavian food, especially their fish n potatoes, and I figured that now, finally, Ancestry would finally prove that I was descended from Vikings! I watch the PBS program New Scandinavian Cooking regularly and have figured that they were all my cousins.

Well, it didn’t turn out that way. Yes, the Scottish and Irish may have descended from the early Danes or Norwegians, but my DNA supposedly doesn’t prove that! Or does it have something to do with the fact that ethnicity data via DNA only reaches back about 500 years or less and my ancestors moved out of the Scandinavian areas before then ?

This new swipe at my ethnicity feels a bit more accurate, but alas, I still don’t feel satisfied. Perhaps I need to try to do percentages from my genealogical tree!

If you did the AncestryDNA test, be sure to check the new ethnicity estimates. You might be a bit surprised!


“It’s important to keep an open mind, in the absence of data.” – Elissa Epel


The AncestryDNA matching updates have been completed.

Darn, I was wrong when I wrote that post inviting us to the DNA Sig meeting: Ancestry.com actually HAS competed the changes they promised! It took a woman in London to set me on the correct path. Embarrassing, it is.

CLICK HERE to see the Cruwys news blog by Debbie Kennett where she does a pretty good job talking about the changes.

Hopefully we can have a good discussion tomorrow at the DNA Discussions meeting. I can at least show how I got confused.


Now I have to change the other post to “make it right”!