So yesterday morning, I went to town, and when I came back, Family Tree DNA had rolled out their new Family Finder look and feel. What a nice gift to find! As with anything new, it looks a bit different, but all of the old functionality is there, plus some new things. It took me a few minutes to explore the new functionality, but the new interface is pretty straightforward. A lot of the options become apparent if you fly over and hover.
I was going to write about how to navigate the new software, but Rebekah Canada has done a wonderful job of that already, and judging from how quickly these were published, probably stayed up all night writing them. I don’t believe in recreating the wheel unnecessarily, so enjoy these tutorials.
Debbie Parker Wayne has also written about the new interface as well.
These great articles will step you through the how to.
What I want to talk about is the new functionality that has been added and how it can be really, REALLY useful.
Here is my “landing page” of matches. I’ve selected “show all matches” instead of just the default “close and immediate” and I’ve enabled “show advanced.” You can see that option above the first match on the far left hand side of the page.
Enabling “show advanced” is important to the new functionality because it shows the two functions I’m going to discuss – the new Triangulate function and the Chromosome Browser. The Chromosome Browser has been a function since day 1, but now you can use it in conjunction with the brand new Triangulate feature. Thank you Family Tree DNA. Woo Hoo.
This new Advanced bar also shows the tests taken by your matches as well and the haplogroup results. This may or may not be useful to you, but there are times I’ve really needed this information, so I’m glad to see it available.
I want to triangulate with my cousin, Buster, whose account I manage. Click on triangulate, and you see this next screen. I want to know who I match in common with Buster.
And here is a partial list of who both Buster and I match.
The Chromosome Browser can compare the chromosome matches of 5 kits at a time. To compare these, click on “Compare in Chromosome Brower” in the advanced bar for each person you want to compare, and when you’ve clicked on 1-5 people, click on the dark blue compare arrow.
You are not automatically compared with the person you’re triangulating with. In the example below, I clicked on 4 people and then added Buster from the Chromosome Browser page.
The chromosome browser displays the matching segments of DNA. In this case, I’ve left the display at the 5cM default. We are fairly closely related cousins, except for Warren. As you can see, on chromosome 15, there is a huge segment that everyone except Warren shares. We know this is “Vannoy” DNA, because of the genealogy involved.
Dropping the cM to 1 shows additional matching bits and pieces.
Why is this so important? Because I can clearly and immediately see possibilities.
For example, by comparing selectively, I can figure out which of these segments come from which lines in the Vannoy Tree. If I’m lucky enough to find someone who descends from the Anderson/Andriessen line for example, who married into the Vannoy line upstream several generations, anyone who matches that person, and me, on those segments is showing Anderson/Andriessen DNA. As you can see, this can be a powerful DNA detective tool.
In fact, this new tool may just have given me what I need to solve a long-standing mystery.
My ancestor Elijah Vannoy was born in Wilkes Co., NC in 1786 to one of four men, all brothers. The question is, which one? We’ve eliminated one by virtue of a Bible record, and a second, we think, but that still leaves either two or three candidates. The good news is that we know the surnames of the wives of the 4 candidate fathers.
I clicked on Triangulate again, but this time with my cousin, Harold Vannoy. Among the matches are people with the ancestral surname Hickerson. Hmmm…..that’s one of the surnames of the wives of the Vannoy candidate fathers.
If I search for Hickerson in my matches by putting Hickerson in the “Ancestral surnames” box and select “show all matches,” there are even more. If I’m lucky, these people will have uploaded their pedigree charts (the pedigree chart icon) so I can see their lineage.
Oh my, I’m hyperventilating. If my Vannoy descended cousins check their matches too, they may match people I don’t with that surname. Then they can triangulate with all of those people too. Why, we might have the answer by the end of the day! If you’ll excuse me…..I need to run…..important business to attend to….