Ancestry Gave Me A New DNA Ancestor – And It’s Wrong

About six weeks ago, Ancestry had a meeting with a few bloggers and educators in the genetic genealogy community and brought us up to speed on a new feature that was upcoming.  Ancestry showed us their plans to expand the DNA Circles feature, although to be very clear, to the best of my knowledge, none of us were involved in any type of beta testing with Ancestry.

Today, Ancestry assigns you to DNA Circles based on a combination of your DNA results and your tree, based on common ancestors shown in trees of matching individuals.  I wrote about Circles and how they are calculated in the article, “Ancestry’s Better Mousetrap – DNA Circles.”

As an enhancement to DNA Circles, today Ancestry rolled out their new feature which is called “New Ancestor Discoveries” where Ancestry assigns ancestors to you based on DNA matching alone, without matching ancestors in your trees.

And, in my case, they are wrong.  Unquestionably wrong.  What I hate the most about this situation is if you’re not a genetic genealogist, and you haven’t done your homework, you’ll be thrilled with your new wrong ancestors, “proven,” of course, by DNA.

new ancestor discoveries

We received a quick glimpse of the pre-beta product – and truthfully – if this was accurately done and appropriately portrayed as a DNA match with people who shared common DNA and maybe a common ancestor – I could be excited.  In fact, I was excited.

I do believe this type of matching can be done accurately – but Ancestry has missed the mark – not just with me but from other early reports in the community as well – with lots of people.  Portraying this match as a “new ancestor” is wrong and it’s terribly misleading.

Here’s what Ancestry has to say about the New Ancestors matching.

new ancestors

new ancestor circles

Ok, what does Ancestry have to say about Diedamia Lyon, my New Ancestor who is not my ancestor?

New ancestor Diedamia Lyon

Clicking on the green “Learn About” button shows me the “facts” that ancestry has gleaned from their trees about Diedamia Lyon.

new ancestor Diedamia story

What this tells you that isn’t immediately evident is that Diedamia Lyon was married to John Curnutte, my second “New Ancestor.”  There is a “Facts” tab that shows you the sources that Ancestry used to create Diedamia’s story.  They have used compiled data from 215 trees.  I cant’ speak for Diedamia, but I know several of my Circle Ancestor’s stories are wrong – based on the compiled trees – substantially wrong in fact.  Because the trees are wrong.

new ancestor Diedamia sources

So, in essence, Ancestry is saying that I descend from both Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte, an ancestral couple.  This would be invaluable, if it were accurate.  Ok, how did Ancestry connect those dots to arrive at that conclusion?

Clicking on the “See Your Connection” button under the Circle icon shows you the members of the Diedamia Lyon Circle.

New ancestor Diedamia circle

I have DNA matches with Don and Michael who are members of the Diedamia Lyon circle.  Clicking on Don, I can see that he has DNA matches to Michael and three other individuals who I don’t have DNA matches with in the Diedama Lyon circle.  However, all of those individuals also share a pedigree chart and Diedamia Lyon is their shared ancestor.

New ancestor Diedamia circle 2

I can click on any of these people and see who they match in the circle, or I can see a list.

What I can’t see is how Ancestry drew those DNA conclusions.  There are no tools, no chromosome browser, and obviously, “trust me” isn’t working.

I want to share with you how I know, beyond any doubt, that Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte are NOT my ancestors.  I am a long-time meticulous researcher.  I would invite you to search for any of my ancestors’ names on this blog.  I have been writing about one ancestor per week now for more than a year in the 52 Ancestors series and, if I have written about them, you can see the types of information we have on each one.  I know which of my ancestors are proven and which are questionable.  So, let’s see why Diedamia and John cannot be my ancestors.

First, we can eliminate my mother’s line.  My mother’s ancestors are from Holland, Germany, Canada/Acadia and one line from Vermont/Connecticut.  They are all accounted for and I know where they were, shown below.

new ancestor mother tree

The 6th generation shown above is the generation into which Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte, both born about 1800, would fall.  Mother’s generation 6 ancestors, at the far right, were all born between 1766 and 1805, many in Europe.  You’ll note there are no blank spaces for missing ancestors and the geography is not southern – meaning no place near Wilkes County, NC where Diedamia was born in 1804.  So, my mother’s side is immediately eliminated.

My father’s side, however, does have several lines that come through Wilkes County, NC and many other southern lines. So the connection would be through my father’s side of the family.

new ancestor father tree

Again the 6th generation would be where Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte would have to fit if they are my ancestors, and there are no blank spaces here either.  All of these ancestors were born between 1759 and 1804.

Of the above generation 6 ancestors, the following have a Wilkes County connection:

  • Elijah Vannoy born in Wilkes County about 1784
  • Lois McNiel born in Wilkes County about 1786
  • William Herrell born about 1789 in NC, possibly Wilkes County where he married in 1809
  • Mary McDowell born 1785 NC, possibly Wilkes County where she married in 1809

New ancestor Herrell tree

Looking at the pedigree chart of William Herrell and Mary McDowell, you can see that indeed there are some unknown wives.  John Herrell was born in about 1760, possibly in Frederick Co., VA and Michael McDowell in 1747 in Bedford Co., VA.  While the connection may be through these lines, it’s clearly not from any two people born in 1800 and is at least in the 7th generation – IF the connection is through these lines.  At this point, this is the most likely connection because it’s in the right location and there are two unknown wives.  If I had triangulation tools, I could probably tell you immediately.

Now let’s look at the pedigree chart of Elijah Vannoy and Lois McNiel, also from Wilkes County.

New ancestor Vannoy tree

As you can see, this pedigree is even more complete than the Herrell/McDowell pedigree.  Not only is there no room for a couple born circa 1800, there are no unknown parents for another 3 generations prior, not until the 9th generation.  The only individual here through the 8th generation not proven via both paper and genetics, meaning triangulation, is Sarah Coates.

So, not only are Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte NOT my ancestors, it’s very unclear how they are related to me, IF they are related to me.  It’s obvious that the only way we are related is that someplace upstream, I do share a common ancestor with both Don and Mike who share the Lyon/Curnutte tree with each other and several others as well, but that does NOT mean that I descend from Diedamia and John, nor that I share a common ancestor with them.

Now, if I share the SAME DNA segment with Don and Mike that could be triangulated to the Curnutte/Lyon descendants, then that would mean we do all share a common ancestor someplace along the line.  But wait – Ancestry doesn’t use triangulation – nor do they give us the tools to do so.  So we have NO idea if we actually share the same DNA segments or not.

So, let’s take a look at the trees of both Don and Mike to see if we share any common surnames that might be linked.

Fortunately, Ancestry does provide an easy way to do this.  By clicking on your matches name to the right of the circle, and looking at their tree, Ancestry shows you the common surnames.

new ancestor match surnames

By clicking on the shared surname, you can see the people in both trees, theirs and yours, with that surname, side by side.

new ancestor surname list

All three of us have a dead end Moore line.  That is our only other surname in common, and Moore is very common.

So, it’s possible, given that we have no way to tell which segments are matching whom, that I match both Don and Mike through an entirely different ancestor, or ancestors, known or unknown. It’s also possible that someone upstream of Diedamia and John is a child of one of my unknown lines, and while Diedamia and John are not my ancestors, I do carry some of the same DNA as their descendants because we all share a common, unknown, ancestor.  But I have no way of knowing.

What I can do is to contact my two matches and see if they will download their DNA to GedMatch where I can get at the truth via triangulation.  It’s a shame we have to do that.

So, what is the net-net of this new tool?

  1. Ancestry missed, big time, especially by labeling the match as a “New Ancestor.”
  2. Ancestry can salvage the situation at least somewhat by renaming the “New Ancestor” something like “Common DNA Match.” This would alert people that there is some common ancestry someplace, but not mislead people into thinking that Ancestry really HAS discovered a new ancestor or ancestral couple. In some cases the named couple MAY be ancestors – but that’s certainly not always the case. And I don’t like the label “Potential Ancestor” either because I think it implies a much closer relationship than may be present. I remember how completely thrilled I was to see my “New Ancestors” names and without having enough experience to piece the puzzle together, both genealogically and genetically, I would never have known enough to be as disappointed as I am. I feel terribly sorry for the many people who will take this erroneous information as gospel – and the rest of us who will have to live with the incorrect fallout – forever. This amounts to a new way to create an incorrect ancestor and Heaven forbid, attach them to your tree.
  3. This would all be a moot point with a chromosome browser, but then again, Ancestry already knows that.

And I was so hopeful….

Fortunately, the New Ancestors feature is still in beta and changes can be made – and I hope they are.  I know Ancestry has already incorporated at least one the suggestions made as a result of the meeting a few weeks ago.

As I looked back over the new features and the information I received from Ancestry, I am especially concerned about the verbiage accompanying this information.

Here’s what greets me on my DNA page.

new ancestors hype

Here’s the e-mail I received.

new ancestor e-mail 2

The problem is – it’s just not true.  These matches may be valuable in some cases.  But they are not as represented.  This match is not my ancestor.

So yes, I do want Ancestry to “Show Me.”  Show me the chromosomes.  Show me how Diedamia Lyon and John Curnutte are my ancestors.  Show me how you put 2 and 2 together and came up with this.  Show me.



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152 thoughts on “Ancestry Gave Me A New DNA Ancestor – And It’s Wrong

  1. This looks to me like a new variation on the old problem of predicting precise degrees of kinship. Once you get beyond close family, it’s extremely difficult to identify a common ancestor based on amount of shared DNA. Even though the folks at Ancestry are limiting this new feature to 6 generations (with the home person as generation 1, I assume – as in DNA Circles), it’s misleading to suggest that they can identify a specific individual, or couple, as (direct) ancestor of the entire group.

  2. I have one new ancestor according to Ancestry. For several years I have known that I share some dna with this family because of FamilyTree DNA testing, so nothing new there since we have not figured out anything except a common location. I did find the names of two previously unknown cousins and their trees are the same as mine. Another match was already found. Like Roberta I would like to know more about the ” matching”.

  3. I found that an “Ancestor” was really a cousin. None of other people in the group had completed their trees past that point so the common ancestor was not yet in their trees.

  4. One new ancestral couple – is NOT. The wife IS the sister of my ancestor so there could be shared DNA there via her parents. I am of no kin whatever to her husband. The second new ancestral couple – is NOT. They are actually kin to the wife of the first husband suggested – even further removed from my lineage. Going to be interesting what they come up with next!

  5. I was “given” a new ancestor,as well and, like your example, he doesn’t fit anywhere, as I’ve documented all the people in my tree who fall in that date range. Not only that, the “candidate” was born in GA, married in GA but somehow came into NY from Liverpool shortly before his marriage. Sigh.

    • Hope the top echelon from ancestry reads Roberta’s Blogs. In fact, I think they should hire her as a Consultant.

      • The people at ancestry read many of the genetic genealogy blogs, this one included. But they do not really listen. And I’m convinced they only have a superficial familiarity with what genetic genealogists are doing — and what genetic genealogists can accomplish with matching segment information.

  6. Thank you for this article and your insight. Unless you have a chromosome browser to see the evidence, this is not useful at all. My tree is well documented and I cannot find a logical path to this “new ancestor”. I do not understand why Ancestry is so adamant about having its own chromosome browser to supplement their paper records. It would seem they would want to lead in this area particularly since so many members request this.

  7. Gee, this IS disappointing. I’ve been a member of for 15 years and had my DNA test done there, then transferred my DNA file to FTDNA and GEDmatch. My membership expired about 3 weeks ago and I decided to “give it a rest” for awhile because when it comes to my direct line ancestors, I’ve found all the documentation I can find there for now, until they add more collections. Plus, I have found lots of other free sites to explore for awhile and will still be able to add documentation I find elsewhere to my tree, even without a paid membership.

    I’ve always really enjoyed my membership at Ancestry, but the accuracy of this latest enhancement to DNA Circles sounds pretty questionable from what you’ve described. I really like the feature Ancestry uses to identify common ancestors in the trees of two people who have a DNA match. And I like the list of common surnames. It saves a lot of time having to search through people’s trees. But that’s about as far as the use of trees should extend in Ancestry’s “enhancements”. There are just too many trees that have bad information in them to rely on them as a major component in the workings of Ancestry’s new DNA projects. I am in 26 DNA circles and I have gotten very little out of that enhancement.

    I wish AncestryDNA would go in a different direction. It seems that they “dumb down” their DNA analysis, perhaps because they think the general public is too uneducated to understand DNA matching and think it’s best to do all the analysis for us. But I want them to understand that analyzing the results myself (through GEDmatch) is what makes DNA genealogy so much fun! In that respect, I’ve gotten so much more out of the use of the free site, GEDmatch. If Ancestry would put their resources to use to implement analysis tools, it would be the number one site for both DNA analysis and paper genealogical research.

    • I’m in the same boat with you re Ancestry renewal. Mind sharing some of the free sites you’re using?

      • Well, it depends, on course, on what information you are looking for. I have found a number of Wills and Inventories, marriage licenses and military records at the LDS site, And, if you have any ancestors who lived in Stokes County, North Carolina, they have digitized and made available a huge number of original deeds dating back to the late 1700’s at their site, I’ve found a whole lot of deeds that name several of my ancestors and it will take me awhile just to transcribe them. (The older ones are very hard to read.) Another site that I’ve had success with is This website has digitized old newspapers. I’ve found a number of obituaries there and other articles from small town newspapers that reference my ancestors. If anyone else has some free sites they could share, I’d be appreciative.

        • Free is always nice. First get to know the country, state or province, county and town where your ancestors lived. Often there will be digitized resources hiding about. Start with the mother of genealogy sites: Cyndi’sList. She has links for just about every conceivable topic you could be looking for. USGenWeb has sites first by state and then by county. Some county sites are current and pure gold, other are cobwebs but still contain a few useful nuggets. If you have British ancestors, get to know GenUKI. WorldGenWeb has some useful sites depending on the country. Elephind is a search tool for free digitized newspapers – they include Chronicling America but with (I think) a more powerful search engine. Olive Tree has a wealth of resources and links. National Archives (US & UK) and Library and Archives of Canada. ,

          That should get you started.

  8. It’s bad enough that this new feature is coming up with so many wrong results but I decided to check my most widely shared common ancestor under the Circles function and saw that the main picture featured on the Gallery section ( and the only picture, considering he died about 1820) is of a man with a wife and child who are wearing clothing from a much later period of time, not to mention that the technology to take the picture did not exist during the ancestor’s lifetime.

    Although I have added a remark to this effect to the picture could not of been the ancestor in question, most people do not seem to have removed it from their trees, apparently causing the Ancestry system to assume it’s legitimacy and to post it in their Circle gallery.

    Oh yeah, did I mention my pointing out the discrepancy resulted in postings by other members complaining that they are wary of such posts by so called experts who only like to hear themselves talk? You don’t have to be an expert to type in a Google search about historical fashions in different time periods or a timeline of developments in the field of photography!

  9. I am a “rookie” when it comes to the science of DNA. But even with limited knowledge I realized the faults in’s DNA program. I have taken another test with 23andMe, uploaded my results to GedMatch, and have discovered so much more information about my DNA and it’s relation to “matches”.

  10. I read some of your info explaining how these new supposed ancestors could not be yours based partly on your extensive and meticulous records, locations, etc. and that makes perfect sense. And I admit I don’t know enough yet about what Ancestry is doing with DNA records. However, is it at all possible that one or more of your ancestors could have, for example, fathered children by another woman who is not in your immediate group? In my family group there is someone listed as a daughter in the census of one family group who we have found out is actually a granddaughter. Her mother is always shown as a sister and, while we have determined that is not true, we have no knowledge of who her actual father was since the secret that she was born out of wedlock in 1800’s was well hidden.

    • Yes children certainly can be fathered out of wedlock, but in this case, I cannot descend from this couple, the two of them. They would have to replace a known couple who is triangulated genetically. When you triangulate, you triangulate each parent’s line individually through other people who share their ancestors upstream and the same DNA segments with you. That proves the line.

  11. It would have been better to give us the tools to explore the “scientific innovations”  for ourselves. How do I know they looked at my DNA, wheres the proof ? This makes me question more of “renew or not to renew”  my Ancestry membership.

  12. One improvement that Ancestry could have done would have been to launch this new feature on April 1 rather than the second.

    I have five new Discovery Ancestors but none of them make any sense. I will look some more just in case. A group of a husband/wife/son and a husband/wife. So its really more like two “Discoveries”. On the husband/wife we dont even share any surnames so I dont see how they connected our trees.

    Overall I find my 85 green hint leaves very helpful and in my case they have been very reasonable. DNACircles has so far just duplicated the Green Leaves and gives me links to cousins that I don’t match via DNA, but it it nice to get those lists.

    But I think the Ancestor Discoveries is going to need a lot of tweaking. I don’t I have read of one person who has made a real discovery.

    Since they aren’t going to give us a Browser, how about a better Search? So I could search for Leah Jones instead of just Jones. We can search by given AND surname everywhere else on so why not on AncestryDNA? This would be a lot more helpful than pointing us to fantasy ancestors. And probably a lot easier to program.

    • There’s a lot they could do to improve the search. Like the ability to search on the profile name. Also, you can search on a surname associated with a location, but it finds trees where the surname appears and the location appears but the location is associated with a different surname. Would be nice to be able to put in a date range too. So then I could search for trees that have Browns in Texas between 1840 and 1860.

  13. The only ‘new ancestor” Ancestry gave me is actually an accurate direct line ancestor to me, a great, great, great grandfather; but the individual data that is listed with him is incorrect, and this ‘new’ ancestor is listed in every tree that his wife is listed in, and she is a DNA circle that I am already in, with 11 other matches that have them both in their tree on Ancestry! SO not really a ‘new’ ancestor!

  14. I, too, got a bogus ancestral couple – born ca 1820 and I have ancestors proven prior to that on all lines. The fellow did have a geographical connection – through his father – to my ancestral locations, so there is a possibility of a connection back a couple of generations. But how would I know without some chromosomal data?? In looking at the trees of the people who share this ancestor, I see other lines and ancestors that are connections. Of course, I can’t know if we inherited common segments from the known common ancestors, or some other heretofore unidentified common ancestors… unless…. well, back to trying to convince folks to get on GedMatch…

  15. After taking another look at this I see clearly their failure in logic:

    “How it works:
    ✔Circle members share DNA with other members of the circle
    ✔Circle members all have family tree evidence that they are direct descendants of __________.
    ✔Your DNA matches some or all members of this DNA Circle.”

    They intentionally leave out matches with people already on your tree, but are looking for those you might have missed. Good intentions, yes. But their estimate of a possible 50% correct match is flawed. Simply because one name is frequent on several family trees that you relate to does not imply you relate to that person. There is no proof of relationship; no link at all. Moreover, those with well-established pedigrees will show the most egregious situations. Like yours, Roberta, those tress will have most every ancestor within the time period used. The only people that would show are the 5th cousins twice removed through marriage to a known relative; people you wouldn’t have discovered previously and probably wouldn’t really care to know about. Newbies (like myself actually) may find it helpful, but there is no tool to trace the suggested line. I simply can’t figure out how any of the four suggested “ancestors” can relate; I’ve looked at each linked circle members’ family trees and again there are no surnames I recognize. I can’t begin to figure the relationships out, and there is more to be gained by searching through the 4,000+ cousin matches I have for surnames common to what I’ve discovered already and building on that.

  16. Boss: I want people! people in the damn site! Bring me a feat for that
    Marketing: well, let’s make all of them related… uhm … by DNA. and it will be true, cause it’s DNA, you know
    Developer: but it will require them YEARS to find out the exact dna ancestor
    Boss: did you mean years searching on OUR rolls?
    Developer: …
    Boss: success!
    Marketing: success!

  17. I got 2 new Ancestry discoveries. One is definitely not related because he is the husband of my 2x great aunt. So while I am not directly related to him, I am certainly related to his children…through his wife. This seems like such an easy connection to correct for. Not only did my mom get the same match but they also have her his father! Again, no relationship except through marriage.

    The second discovery match is unclear on what the connection is, but it doesn’t look all that promising so far. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  18. I too am disappointed and still spinning from an “ancestor cousin” Ancestry claims I have. I have been spending the better part of a while since they began this trying to figure out how this person could be related. I just can’t find it.

  19. Roberta,

    I would like to believe that Ancestry is using scientific methods for this analysis, and that that analysis is correct 99% of the time. I do very much believe that you were meticulous in your research and that the records you researched show that the ancestors Ancestry came up with cannot be your ancestors.

    However, have you considered that maybe the ancestors that each generation have treated as their official family, are in fact *not* their biological family? Anything could have happened. One spouse cheating on another. A criminal violation. An unreported adoption. Or maybe a child switched at birth. Many of these events would not have been reported officially anywhere, and in fact most families would have covered this up as much as they could, not even telling the children even if they knew.

    Can be you 100% certain that not one of these type of events happened to any of your 6 generations of ancestors?

    I agree that Ancestry should provide you with the segments that match which will allow you to verify. In lieu of that, you will have to contact your two matches and hope they will provide you with their GEDmatch.

    If you do find that in fact Mr. Lyon seems to be an ancestor, then you will have to trace your genetic ancestry back and find where your “official” family tree diverges from your genetic tree, which will illustrate some sordid deed that happened that your research had not yet come across.


    • That’s a good question and why both Y, mtDNA and autosomal triangulation is important. In answer to your question, yes, at the 6th generation level, I have triangulated my DNA with other descendants of that line UPSTREAM and downstream of that individual. If I were descended from John Curnutte, for example, I would be triangulating with other Curnutte people – and I don’t – not with one. I obviously match at least two but that could be through different lines entirely – we don’t know and we don’t have the tools at ancestry to tell.

      • Louie, Ancestry has never stated they were using scientific analysis, nor did they indicate they did any dna segment matching. Ancestry is only reporting TREE matches (with people to whom we are dna related) none of which have been verified with segment matching from Ancestry (apparently they do not have the tools to do segment matching). The onus is on us to do the segment analysis. And, yes, logically some of these trees are everything you said………for a variety of reasons. And, one of the census records has my grandmother, Jemmie, listed as a boy……….

  20. Thank you for such a good explanation of this new feature in Ancestry. I had the same problem with my husband’s DNA matches. The circle, or possible new ancestors were NOT related in any way to my husband, but 3 of the people in the circle did end up having ancestors in common with my husband – that is why the DNA matched. But it sure wasn’t the ancestor that they suggested. In all fairness, they did say there was a “50% chance he was related” to these ancestors. The reason we did not get a DNA/common ancestor hit originally…. they spelled the name differently, and were a year off on the birth date.

  21. Ancestry is a mega marketing machine. But many people believe they are involved in deceptive business practices; because by omission, they are leading people to believe if there is a tree match, it is automatically a dna match. Ancestry should be required to use a Disclaimer such as: These tree matches are not dna matches; and we cannot sanction the correctness of the trees. To prove that these matches and trees are correct, you must do segment comparisons/analyses…………

    Of course, if they do use a Disclaimer, now they have to provide, at the least, a chromosome browser, and educational tools to use it. But, that would impact their bottom line (and the flooding of calls to their Help Desk).

    As of March 13, 2015, ISOGG reports the following number of people in their databases:

    23 and Me – 850,000
    FTDNA – about 130,000
    Ancestry – 700,000

  22. At least now they give you the chance start you are related in some way. My “new ancestor” had a 32%chance of actually being relayed in some way.

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  27. I, too, have been disappointed with Ancestry’s “New Ancestor Discoveries.” While Ancestry may have had the best of intentions, this new tool hasn’t worked for me. I’ve spent hours and hours on wild goose chases just to find out I am either: 1) not related to my 12+ new ancestor discoveries, or 2) they are related by marriage only.

    The wife of my 4th g-grandmother’s brother does not qualify her as my direct ancestor. Nor do the grandparents of another similar person who married into the family. Their descendants are related, but then this is about “possible new ANCESTOR discoveries,” not distant cousins.

    This is so disappointing. Like others have expressed, this feels like a new “false” marketing tool to glean new customers, not a true Beta test tool that has possible helpfulness in genetic genealogy research.

    Ancestry has so much potential for good. I hope they will find a way to refine this new tool to make it more effective and trustworthy. If they are going to dip their toe into the genealogy DNA pool, then they better come up with a better way to better back up their “discoveries” and tools.

  28. I certainly like it. However, it must be used cautiously. As I am discovering if only one parent is known to ANCESTRY, and you are related to the “missing” parent who is say, your uncle, you will show up as descendant to the known parent, because you are DNA related to the children of the known parent. Though complicated, I would rather have the information than not. Not everyone will join GEDMATCH.COM which allows a better tracking. And not everyone on Ancestry is even interested in genealogy. It is good to have new leads and puzzles, I just hope not too many amateurs just starting clicking and adding as is often the case, screwing up the algorithms completely.

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  30. I had my husbands DNA tested. I couldn’t believe my eyes as to what he got back. Not one relative with his last name or anything close. I feel in truth that they take the swab , throw it in the trash and enter his name into their computer and pull up whatever it can find. That is why they ask you to enter as much information you possibly can. Just my thoughts.
    I have found two distant relatives but not through the DNA. I have written to people in the DNA list and they say they can’t find any link. Most haven’t put up their tree or they’re private.

    • Same here. The DNA results yielded no known surnames on either side of the family for 2 or 3 generations. I think Ancestry is just giving you the next level of matching according to trees. I find quite a few trees are inaccurate. Junk in, junk out, so you can go on a wild goose chase.

  31. If you are speaking of autosomal dna, and your husband’s match list, many people use a pseudonym for privacy, or if a woman, the surname of their spouse. Is Bangs your surname, or that of your husband? In my tree I have Hannah Bangs b1645 married to George Godfrey; and her father, Edward Bangs b1591 married to Rebecca Hobart b 1611. Of course, I do not know if I am in your husband’s dna match list. If you upload to GEDmatch, you will have greater exposure.

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  37. This happened to me. I almost lost my mind trying to make this new ancestor couple fit into my tree. What’s worse was my first cousin shares no DNA with the new couple yet shares DNA with all other matches on our maternal side where ancestry said this new couple belonged. Next time I won’t waste my time trying to figure out wrong information, thanks to your pounting this out. Thank you!

  38. Pingback: Shaking the Tea Leaves – one Brit’s DNA Testing | learnalittleeveryday

  39. Pingback: Autosomal DNA Matching Confidence Spectrum | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  40. They gave me a new ancestor from North Carolina, who lived at a time when ALL my ancestors were (and had been) living nowhere further south than New Jersey or Ohio. It is possible that these are very distant relatives on either my father’s or mother’s side—possible—but they make it seem much more “immediate.” It’s definitely flawed.

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  42. A similar thing happened to me I was present a new male ancestor because I matched two people in a wider Mormon family circle in Utah. The two matches did not match each other and the man’s wife was not presented as a new ancestor either. Doing some work on the man’s ancestor I discovered two distant ancestral couples we had in common making the man presented as my new ancestor actually a 5th cousin 7 times removed. My Dna two matches had not extended their own trees back far enough or they would have appeared as shared ancestor matches, I wonder if they would family circle would disappear for me if this happened.

  43. Pingback: The Ancestry 200 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  44. This also happened to me. In my list of DNA matches, I have a person who is most likely related to me through my father Our ancestors came from the same small rural community in Norway, and we each have an ancestor with the same farm name. Farm names can be transitory or can indicate a relationship, but most of these farms shared the same church and parish, and there was a lot of intermarrying going on between the farms in the same regions.

    I started looking more closely into this person’s tree when Ancestry suggested that we might be related through my 2nd cousin’s maternal grandfather. I am related to my 2nd cousin through my cousin’s maternal grandMOTHER. I was excited at first, thinking that we were related along two lines. But as I looked at the circle, it showed that my Norwegian match is related to me and related to many people within my cousin’s circle.. My cousin is related to me, and related to many people within her circle. I am related to the Norwegian match and to my 2nd cousin ONLY within that circle, Ancestry drew me into the circle because I matched 2 people within that circle. I just didn’t match them through the same DNA that matched the other people in the circle.

  45. Does anyone consider that someone in your tree could have had an affair, or been adopted, concerning not having a blank spot in your tree for a new DNA match?

    • That does need to be considered in some cases. One clue is that if you continue to match, and triangulate, with people who descend from your ancestors upstream of that location, then that line is not in question. People who have done more work on their lines are in a much better position to be able to judge the accuracy, or not, of these NADs.

    • Not without more proof than chance names who live hundreds if not thousands of miles from any of my ancestors. Give me a chromosome browser and some strings I can triangulate and I will consider the possibility. Otherwise nothing but smoke and mirrors

  46. I just found this, and this is EXACTLY what I have been saying since this first rolled out. I as given one New Ancestry Discovery when this rolled out, and since then, three more. NONE of these people are an ancestor. It is impossible. Physically, given the times in which they lived, it would have been physically impossible for them to where they needed to be, but more importantly, I have proof going back five generations that on my mothers lines of who my ancestors are based on cross referencing tests, and based on primary source documents. (My fathers people were on the opposite side of the world, so it is improbable.).

    Here’s the problem that I have with the program: 1) These are not “ancestry” discoveries. If they were, Ancestry would tell you exactly how these people and you are related. At best, these are guesses based on, 2) Family trees, not strictly on DNA. 3) If they are not based on DNA matches, but more on this pool of trees, why did they deploy this feature on the DNA section. 4) Its a charade. I Think Ancestry deployed this charade on the DNA pages in hopes of selling more tests.

    And, 5) I believe that the trees that they are using are tied to the collection of trees that Brigham Young University Library and Family Search use in their joint “Relative Finder” program. This is how I found out who these people that are my discoveries are. For me, all four show up in the Brigham Young match as LDS pioneers. One, Azra Eratus Hinckley shows up as a member of an elite circle of LDS pioneers. Using the BYU/Family Search match system, in each of the cases, these people are, at best, the most distant of cousins going back 8+ generations and multiple times removed. In one case, the person and I allegedly share an ancestor 12 generations back. That isn’t an exciting ancestry discovery, it is misleading to suggest that this is relevant. And if that is the case, why wasn’t that alleged common ancestor shown as the exciting discovery instead of a cousin so diatntly related that there is no plausable connection?

    When I confronted Ancestry with this, I as transferred to their “Executive Support” level. When I pointed out that these were not relevant, and I could not hide them (because that feature doesn’t exist) I told them this makes me question what the goal of this product is. Their answer? “How would you like a refund on your current membership and then a fully paid, full featured free one year subscription on us.”

    That told me that not only did they not test this, but no one is sure how it works because it wasn’t developed by ancestry. It is nothing but an empty calorie, value added stunt.

  47. I did the Ancestry DNA and it got mine wrong also. I know for a fact that I have Native American heritage just by talking with relatives but that was not on my results anywhere. They had mine coming from North Africa. I don’t get it.

  48. I am wondering if the update ancestryDNA process is correct because my great niece is not a match to me. The issue is that both of her mother’s parents are my cousins. Each of them are my 3rd cousins. Because of that my niece DNA comes in between a 2nd and 3rd cousin. But again my niece’s daughter does not come up as being a match to me.

    Also before they updated their system several people came up as my 3rd cousins but after the update their DNA completely disappeared as being related to me but I know that they are.

    • Well you have your money and you have your skepticism, and if you are happy, that’s great. I, on the other hand, have less money, am appropriately skeptical, and have new ancestors too. Personally, I’d much rather have the ancestors.

      • Roberta: BTW, I enjoy your postings. If you need DNA to help you find some of your ancestors, and it has successfully done that to your satisfaction, then I think that is great. But, over 40 years, I have meticulously constructed my family tree back over 10 to 12 generations to Europe, and I did it the old-fashioned way, by finding birth and baptismal records, marriage records, newspaper announcements, references in old books, French and Spanish land grants and records of land sales, death records, burial records, tombstones, wills and probate records, etc. I don’t have any missing ancestors. I don’t have any blank spots in my family tree. Sure, I could travel to France and start combing through old 15th- and 16th-century church records to see how much further back I could go, but at some point, you have to call it a day. My records demonstrate that Jean-Pierre Normand (1742-1824) was my great-great-great-great-grandfather, and his service in the military can get me into the Sons of the American Revolution. But, what if DNA research demonstrates that he is not my biological ancestor? And it suggests that I am actually the 4X-great-grandson of the mailman who stopped by the house one day while old Jean-Pierre was off fighting the British? Then what do I do? Sorry, I don’t need it.

      • Caith: I have already “found” my ancestors, as I have been working on my genealogy for over 40 years. DNA would only “prove” or disprove that they are my biological ancestors. And, some of them may not be. I am willing to admit that somewhere up the line, say, 150 or 250 years ago, the mailman might have contributed to my DNA without my great-great-great-grandfather knowing about it. But, none of that concerns me, as my genealogy shows who my legal ancestors are, not necessarily who my biological ancestors are. And that is how genealogy has been done for a very long time, since people first started constructing their family trees. For example, if I wanted to join the Sons of the American Revolution based on my legal descent from my father’s father’s father’s father, I don’t need DNA to prove my descent from him. And what if it turned out that my father’s father’s father’ biological father was the mail man? Then what?

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