Dissecting AncestryDNA Circles and New Ancestors

First of all, let me say that I like AncestryDNA Circles.  Yes there are problems and still things to work out, but all said, I think they have the potential to be beneficial – so long as they are interpreted correctly.

Much of the grumbling about Circles comes from the fact that Ancestry promised the community a “better mousetrap,” and instead, released DNA Circles.  DNA Circles is just fine for what it is, but it’s a far cry from a better mousetrap – meaning it’s not a replacement for, nor better than, a chromosome browser.  It’s like being promised a “better car” and getting a bicycle while the “gifter” is trying to convince you it’s a Mercedes bicycle and you should love it, plus you don’t need a car anyway – you only think you do.

The biggest problem with DNA Circles is that people perceive Circles to be proof, when they aren’t – partly because of how the DNA is paired with no matching segment proof (chromosome browser) available – and partly because of inaccurate trees.  That said, twice now I’ve found a really good hint through Circles, even if one did subsequently disappear.  For that very reason, I check every single day.

But hear that word – HINT.

What is a DNA Circle and How Does It Work?

Just to be sure we’re all on the same page, let’s take a quick look at what a DNA Circle is.

Circle Henry Bolton

Circles are created around a specific ancestor.  To be included in a DNA Circle, you must match at least one other person’s DNA who shows that same ancestor in their tree, plus there must be at least another person who matches your DNA or that of the person’s DNA you match, and also has the same ancestor in their tree.  So, a minimum of three people.

Now, we don’t know if these people match on the same segment, or if they also share other ancestors that might cause DNA matching, but the more people who match each other (and you) in the Circle, the better chance there is that there is a connection through that ancestor.

Let’s take a quick look at segment matching and how it’s done from Ancestry’s document titled, “Do all members of a DNA Circle have the same matching segment?”  This paper along with others is available on your DNA results page by clicking on the question marks on the right hand side beside your DNA Circles header.  So, no DNA Circles, no help information about DNA Circles.

circle papers

In the segment matching example, below, you can see that the DNA of these three people shown do share DNA segments, but they are not triangulated.  A matches with B and C on different segments, and B matches with C and A – but again, not on the same segments.  A triangulated match that proves a connection through a common ancestor requires 3 individuals to share the same DNA segment.

If these three segments below were triangulated, you would see the same segment colored in blue (for example) on the chromosomes of all 3 individuals, not just two of the three.

circle segment matching

So, what’s wrong with matching?  Not a thing.  Not one single thing.  But a match to someone is not proof of this specific common ancestor.  You could match these two people on different common ancestors, because none of the DNA is shared by all 3 individuals and matches on the same segment.

The bottom line to this is that if Ancestry were showing you only matches that were triangulated to this ancestor, you might not have any at all.  Using Circles rather than triangulation gives you many more matches and many more individuals in your Circle – and Circles where you wouldn’t have Circles otherwise – and it’s much less accurate.  It’s a group of cumulative hints that together are really compelling – but they are not proof.  Proof does not exist in the Ancestry system with the current set of tools.

Proof is triangulation of at least three people who share the same ancestor that also share exactly the same DNA on the same segment.

This however, does not mean Circles are bad – it means they need to be used with full understanding and care.

Now, this does not HAVE to be the case, because every Circle could have an option to “see only triangulated matches.”  That would be the best of both worlds.

Henry Bolton is one of my most robust Circles, so let’s look at that.  You can see that I match the DNA of 5 individuals in the Circle who also show Henry Bolton in their tree.  These are not triangulated matches, because we don’t know if any of us match on the same segments (at least not through Ancestry’s system) – but we do know THAT we match and THAT we share common paper genealogy with the same ancestor.

circle henry bolton matches2

You can see the greyed out individuals and the greyed out connection network.  These greyed out people don’t match my DNA, but they do match the DNA of at least one person that I match, and also share Henry Bolton as a common ancestor, so they too are in the Henry Bolton DNA Circle.

By clicking on one of the other Circles, you can see who they match.  So, for example, by clicking on my first match clockwise, below, you can see that they match 2 of the people that I do, plus four people that I don’t.  These matching networks, while not proof that this is how you are genetically connected to these people, do serve as great research connections.  Hopefully, at least some of them will be willing to download to GedMatch or transfer to Family Tree DNA, or both, where you can utilize a chromosome browser.

circle henry match matches2

Regarding reliability, I’m much more likely to place confidence in a robust Circle like the Henry Bolton Circle with multiple DNA matches between me and other members than the Diedamia Lyon Circle shown below.  Diedamia is one of the “ancestors” identified and assigned to me as my “new ancestor” that isn’t.

circle diedamia lyon

Keep in mind that the Diedemia new ancestor match is WITHOUT the common tree match required to create a Circle – so just utilizing the DNA.  So what this “new ancestor” Circle is telling you is that I match both of these individuals and THEY have a common ancestor between them, so I have been assigned to that same common ancestor – which is incorrect.  Diedamia Lyon is not my ancestor.  We have no idea if I share any common segments between these two matches, which would at least increase the chances that I share a common ancestor with both of these people, because Ancestry does not do segment matching, and they don’t give us any tools to do it either.

Circles are not predictable and often come like the tooth fairy, at night, so every morning I check to see if I have a new DNA Circle, a new “New Ancestor” or any new shakey leaf DNA matches.

How Did I Get My DNA Circles and Matches?

I decided I wanted to see if I can make sense of how Ancestry’s Circles and New Ancestors are actually assigned or created, based on my matches.

As you know, I did the little experiment where I recreated myself as a newbie, so I can compare my results with my regular robust tree and a mini-tree with only me and my parents.  Through that experiment, we discovered that of my 16 DNA Circles, 2 got “assigned” as new ancestors when using a bare bones tree.  In addition, the son of that ancestor was also assigned, correctly as an ancestor, even though he didn’t have a prior Circle.  Of course, there are still the two incorrect ancestors assigned in both circumstances, the robust and the mini tree scenarios.

Let’s see if we can figure out some logic behind how this actually works.

I have been keeping a spreadsheet of my shakey leaf AncestryDNA matches with whom I share an identifiable ancestor on paper.  Why?  Because both matches and Circles tend to come and go.

I’ve assembled the chart below based on my DNA matches with shakey leaves, meaning we have both a DNA match and a tree match.  The column titled “Number of DNA+Tree Matches” is the number of DNA matches to someone who also shares that ancestor in a tree.  Of course, the DNA match could be from another line entirely, but this is based on what Ancestry has provided.

“Gen from Me” means the number of generations removed from me, according to Ancestry’s calculations shown with the match.

“Circle Member Robust Tree” means that I either do or do not have a Circle for that ancestor using the robust tree.

“Assigned as New Ancestor” indicates whether this ancestor was assigned as a “New Ancestor” using only the mini-tree.

Please note that some shakey leaf matches were lost when phasing was introduced.

Let’s see how this works.

For example, in the first row, Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann had 8 DNA matches total, but lost 3 with phasing.  Currently, only 5 are shown as matches.  Henry is also shown twice as a match to just him and not Nancy Mann.  This makes sense, as he was married twice and I can clearly match Henry through a child of his first marriage.  Henry and Nancy are 5 generations removed from me and both Henry and Nancy are shown as Circles with my robust tree.  Both Henry and Nancy are also shown as “New Ancestors” in the mini-tree “recreate myself as a newbie” version.  My only other accurate “New Ancestor” is Henry’s son, Joseph Preston Bolton, who is not a Circle.

I sorted this first table by “Number of DNA+Tree Matches.”  Let’s see how that looks.  To begin with, my second highest match is George Dodson and Margaret Dagord with 7 matches, but they don’t form either a Circle or get assigned as a new ancestor.  However, I have lots of Circles with fewer matches.  Go figure.

Ancestor(s) Number of DNA+Tree Matches Gen from Me Circle Member (Robust Tree) Assigned as New Ancestor (Mini Tree) Comment
Henry Bolton, Nancy Mann 8 5 Yes, both Yes, both 3 matches gone with phasing, also shown by himself, 2 marriages
George Dodson, Margaret Dagord 7 8 No No Margaret also listed separately with 1 match
Johann Michael Miller, Suzanne Berchtol 7 8 No No
Jotham Brown 7 7 No No 3 matches gone with phasing
Joel Vannoy, Phoebe Crumley 6 4 Yes, both No
Abraham Estes and Barbara 5 9 No No
George McNiel, Sarah Coates 5 7 No No
John R. Estes, Ann Moore 4 6 Yes, both No 1 match gone with phasing
Elizabeth Shepherd 4 6 No No Wife of William McNiel, not shown
John Francis Vannoy, Susannah Anderson 4 7 No No 2 matches gone with phasing
Philip Jacob Miller, Magdalena 4 7 No No
Robert Shepherd, Sarah Rash 4 7 No No
John Campbell, Jenny Dobkins 3 6 Yes, both No
Joseph Preston Bolton 3 4 No, but his parents have Circle, Henry Bolton, Nancy Mann Yes Two wives, my wife Margaret Herrell has 1 match, but she is not listed
Daniel Miller, Elizabeth Ulrich 3 6 No No
Stephen Ulrich 3 7 No No Married to Elizabeth Greib, Cripe, shown separately
Thomas Dodson, Dorothy Durham 3 8 No No
Andrew McKee 3 7 Circle disappeared No Had Circle, then gone
Fairwick Claxton, Agnes Muncy 2 5 Yes, both No
Jacob Lentz, Fredericka Moselman 2 5 Yes, both No
Nicholas Speak, Sarah Faires 2 6 Yes, both No 1 match gone with phasing
Henry Bolton 2 5 Yes Yes He was twice married
Charles Dugas,  Francoise Bourgeois 2 9 No No
Cornelius Anderson,  Annetje Opdyke 2 8 No No
Francois Broussard, Catherine Richard 2 9 No No
Gershom Hall 2 7 No No Son of below
James Lee Claxton, Sarah Cook 2 6 No No Gone with phasing
Joseph Rash, Mary Warren 2 9 No No
Joseph Workman, Phoebe McMahon 2 7 No No
Thomas Dodson 2 9 No No
Francois Lafaille 2 2 Matches both gone with phasing
John Hill, Catherine Mitchell 1 6 Yes, John Hill only No
Charles Speak, Ann McKee 1 5 No No
Edward Mercer 1 7 No No
Elisha Eldredge, Dorcas Mulford 1 8 No No
Elizabeth Greib (also Cripe) 1 7 No No Wife of Stephen Ulrich, shown separately
Elizabeth Mary Angelica Daye 1 8 No No
Francois Dugas 1 8 No No
George Shepherd, Elizabeth Mary Angelique Daye 1 8 No No
Gershom Hall, Dorcas Richardson 1 8 No No Father of above
Gideon Faires, Sarah McSpadden 1 6 No No
Honore Lore, Marie Lafaille 1 5 No No
Jacob Dobkins 1 7 No No
Jacque Bonnevie, Francoise Mius 1 8 No No
James Hall, Mehitable 1 7 No No
Jan Derik Woertman, Anna Marie Andries 1 9 No No
Johann Nicholas Schaeffer, Mary Catherine Suder 1 8 No No
Lazarus Estes, Elizabeth Vannoy 1 3 No No
Margaret Dagord 1 8 No No Wife of George Dodson, also listed with him
Michael de Foret, Marie Hebert 1 9 No No
Moses Estes Sr. 1 8 No No Wife Elizabeth, LNU
Pierre Doucet, Henriette Pelletret 1 9 No No
Rachel Levina Hill 1 4 No No Wife of Antoine Hill
Raleigh Dodson, Elizabeth 1 7 No No
Suzanna Berchtol 1 8 No No
William Herrell, Mary McDowell 1 5 No No
Charles Hickerson, Mary Lytle 1 7 Circle disappeared for both No Had Circle, then gone
Francis Vannoy, Catherine Anderson 1 8 Match gone with phasing
John Vannoy 1 Match gone with phasing
Lois McNiel 1 6 Match gone with phasing

This comparison of matches to the Circles created is actually very surprising, because Circle creation seems to have very little correlation to number of DNA matches.  Circles require 2 people to match each other’s DNA, plus a third person that matches at least one of the other two – minimally.  There are very obviously behind the scenes criteria too, or I would have at least 36 Circles based on my matches to 3 or more people and 26 additional Circles if you could matches to only 2 people.  That’s a total of 62 Circles, not 16.

Of the 7 ancestral couples with 5 or more matches, which give us the potential for 14 individual Circles, only two couples, or 4 Circles exist.

The chart below is sorted by “Circle Member (Robust Tree),” so only the ancestors who are in Circles are shown.  The number of DNA matches range from 1 to 8.

Ancestor Number of DNA+Tree Matches Gen from Me Circle Member (Robust Tree) Assigned as New Ancestor (Mini Tree) Comment
Henry Bolton, Nancy Mann 8 5 Yes, both Yes, both 3 matches gone with phasing, also shown by himself, 2 marriages
Joel Vannoy, Phoebe Crumley 6 4 Yes, both No
John R. Estes, Ann Moore 4 6 Yes, both No 1 match gone with phasing
John Campbell, Jenny Dobkins 3 6 Yes, both No
Joseph Preston Bolton 3 4 No, his parents have Circle, Henry Bolton, Nancy Mann Yes Two wives, my wife Margaret Herrell has 1 match, but she is not listed
Andrew McKee 3 7 Circle disappeared No Had Circle, then gone
Fairwick Claxton, Agnes Muncy 2 5 Yes, both No
Jacob Lentz, Fredericka Moselman 2 5 Yes, both No
Nicholas Speak, Sarah Faires 2 6 Yes, both No 1 match gone with phasing
Henry Bolton 2 5 Yes Yes He was twice married
John Hill, Catherine Mitchell 1 6 Yes, John Hill only No
Charles Hickerson, Mary Lytle 1 7 Circle disappeared for both No Had Circles, then gone

Next, let’s take a look at the ancestors who have Circles created for them.

Surprisingly, I do have a DNA Circle based on only 1 DNA match.  The entire Circle is made up of three people.

circle john hill

I’m confused as to why this ancestor, John Hill, with one DNA match and one additional person in the Circle would have a Circle, but an ancestor like George Dodson and Margaret Dagord with 7 and 8 matches, respectively, wouldn’t.  Both of the two Circle matches also show the same wife as I do for John Hill, Catherine Mitchell, but there is no Circle for her.  Why not?

There is a line in the sand at which point Ancestry no longer creates Circles because they feel they are too far back in time to be reliable, but George Dodson/Margaret Dagord are at 8 generations, as are Henry Bolton/Nancy Mann who both have Circles, so that can’t be the problem.

Now, let’s look at who, from the matches and Circles was assigned as a “New Ancestor” when switching out my robust tree for the mini-tree.

Other than the two incorrect ancestors assigned, there were only three ancestors assigned from the more than 60 possibilities from ancestors who have 2 or more matches.  Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann both have a large number of matches, so I can clearly see why they were assigned as an ancestor.

What I’m unclearly about is how their son, Joseph Preston Bolton, was assigned as an ancestor.  He is not assigned as a Circle, or maybe that’s intentional because he’s downstream of Henry Bolton.  In any case, this a correct ancestor assignment.  I do have to wonder how Joseph Preston Bolton was assigned as a “New Ancestor” with only 3 matches and other ancestors with far more weren’t.

I thought perhaps it was because Joseph isn’t really that far upstream from me, at 4 generations, but then Joel Vannoy and Phoebe Crumley are also at 4 generations and have 6 matches and a Circle, but weren’t assigned as a “New Ancestor” using the mini-tree.  I can find no consistent theme here.

The following chart is sorted by “Assigned as New Ancestor (Mini Tree).”

Ancestor Number of DNA+Tree Matches Gen from Me Circle Member (Robust Tree) Assigned as New Ancestor (Mini Tree) Comment
Henry Bolton, Nancy Mann 8 5 Yes, both Yes, both 3 matches gone with phasing, also shown by himself, 2 marriages
Joseph Preston Bolton 3 4 No, his parents have Circle, Henry Bolton, Nancy Mann Yes Two wives, my wife Margaret Herrell has 1 match, but she is not listed
Henry Bolton 2 5 Yes Yes He was twice married
George Dodson, Margaret Dagord 7 8 No No Margaret also listed separately
Johann Michael Miller, Suzanne Berchtol 7 8 No No
Jotham Brown 7 7 No No 3 matches gone with phasing
Joel Vannoy, Phoebe Crumley 6 4 Yes, both No
Abraham Estes and Barbara 5 9 No No
George McNiel, Sarah Coates 5 7 No No
John R. Estes, Ann Moore 4 6 Yes, both No 1 match gone with phasing
Elizabeth Shepherd 4 6 No No Wife of William McNiel, not shown
John Francis Vannoy, Susannah Anderson 4 7 No No 2 matches gone with phasing
Philip Jacob Miller, Magdalena 4 7 No No
Robert Shepherd, Sarah Rash 4 7 No No
John Campbell, Jenny Dobkins 3 6 Yes, both No
Daniel Miller, Elizabeth Ulrich 3 6 No No
Stephen Ulrich 3 7 No No Married to Elizabeth Greib, Cripe, shown separately
Thomas Dodson, Dorothy Durham 3 8 No No
Andrew McKee 3 7 Circle disappeared No Had Circle, then gone
Fairwick Claxton, Agnes Muncy 2 5 Yes, both No
Jacob Lentz, Fredericka Moselman 2 5 Yes, both No
Nicholas Speak, Sarah Faires 2 6 Yes, both No 1 match gone with phasing
Charles Dugas,  Francoise Bourgeois 2 9 No No
Cornelius Anderson,  Annetje Opdyke 2 8 No No
Francois Broussard, Catherine Richard 2 9 No No
Gershom Hall 2 7 No No Son of below
James Lee Claxton, Sarah Cook 2 6 No No Gone with phasing
Joseph Rash, Mary Warren 2 9 No No
Joseph Workman, Phoebe McMahon 2 7 No No
Thomas Dodson 2 9 No No
John Hill, Catherine Mitchell 1 6 Yes, John Hill only No
Charles Speak, Ann McKee 1 5 No No
Edward Mercer 1 7 No No
Elisha Eldredge, Dorcas Mulford 1 8 No No
Elizabeth Greib (also Cripe) 1 7 No No Wife of Stephen Ulrich, shown separately
Elizabeth Mary Angelica Daye 1 8 No No
Francois Dugas 1 8 No No
George Shepherd, Elizabeth Mary Angelique Daye 1 8 No No
Gershom Hall, Dorcas Richardson 1 8 No No Father of above
Gideon Faires, Sarah McSpadden 1 6 No No
Honore Lore, Marie Lafaille 1 5 No No
Jacob Dobkins 1 7 No No
Jacque Bonnevie, Francoise Mius 1 8 No No
James Hall, Mehitable 1 7 No No
Jan Derik Woertman, Anna Marie Andries 1 9 No No
Johann Nicholas Schaeffer, Mary Catherine Suder 1 8 No No
Lazarus Estes, Elizabeth Vannoy 1 3 No No
Margaret Dagord 1 8 No No Wife of George Dodson, also listed with him
Michael de Foret, Marie Hebert 1 9 No No
Moses Estes Sr. 1 8 No No Wife Elizabeth, LNU
Pierre Doucet, Henriette Pelletret 1 9 No No
Rachel Levina Hill 1 4 No No Wife of Antoine Hill
Raleigh Dodson, Elizabeth 1 7 No No
Suzanna Berchtol 1 8 No No
William Herrell, Mary McDowell 1 5 No No
Charles Hickerson, Mary Lytle 1 7 Circle disappeared for both No Had Circle, then gone
Francois Lafaille 2 2 Matches both gone with phasing
Francis Vannoy, Catherine Anderson 1 8 Match gone with phasing
John Vannoy 1 Match gone with phasing
Lois McNiel 1 6 Match gone with phasing

If you’re looking for answers to this mystery, you won’t find them here.  I don’t know.  All things considered, here is my collective wisdom on this subject.

  1. Enjoy your DNA Circles. Communicate with your matches. Ask them to download to Family Tree DNA and/or GedMatch where you have tools to work with. Watch for secondary lines through which you might match. I have found several where the DNA match is not to the ancestor in the Circle, but to a different, common line entirely. Of course, we still share the ancestor whose Circle we are in, assuming the trees are correct – it’s just that the DNA match is not from that ancestor.
  2. Understand that DNA Circles do not prove descent from that ancestor. The more people you match, the more strongly it implies a connection, but keep in mind that the DNA connection and the tree may not be connected either. Circles provide a “wider net” but also increases the potential for inaccuracy.
  3. Enjoy your “New Ancestors” but be extremely skeptical. Some of them will be ancestors. Some may be related but not ancestors. Some not only won’t be ancestors, you may not be able to figure out if or how they are related, no matter how large and robust your tree.
  4. Use all of this as a shakey leaf hint – which we all knows means that there’s something to check out – not gospel being dispensed.
  5. Make a spreadsheet to keep track of shakey leaf DNA matches, Circles and other people in the circle whose DNA you don’t match.  Just because your Circle or match is present today doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow.
  6. New Ancestors and Circles are both beta software. There is a feedback button at the top of every DNA Circle, at the far right. Please submit courteous suggestions and comments.  Oh yes, and don’t forget to mention that we need a chromosome browser:)

circle feedback

33 thoughts on “Dissecting AncestryDNA Circles and New Ancestors

    • I’m adopted and found my birth family in 2004. I’ve never had any connection with my adopted family show up in my trees. I did find the circles and DNA helpful with find my birth father’s family though!

  1. I think that I know why I sometimes have more family circles and sometimes less. It’s because they depend on matches in our family tree files. I have several family tree files for different branches of my family; I can connect only one at a time to the DNA functions. Other people may connect and disconnect their family trees to the DNA portion of Ancestry.com. This also shows up in the “green leaf” matches that show matching ancestors in the DNA function.

  2. Thanks for the great review of Ancestry Circles. I might add that if you’re not a monthly subscriber you can’t see your DNA Circles. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think it’s worth the subscription price.

    Jeff >

    >

  3. I have been tested at Ancestry, FTDNA and 23&Me. I understand little. Maybe I have a mental block against “Chromosomes” because even after reading many articles, blogs, etc., DNA is still mostly a mystery. The visuals at GEDmatch I understand! Anyway – At Ancestry the latest rollout of “New” ancestor matches has produced nothing. Almost daily I receive an e-mail from Ancestry suggesting I click the link to see my “New” connections but every time I go to my DNA page there is a message, “Sorry.. no new ancestor matches…”. Why do they constantly nag me to view this feature when there is nothing available for me? OK, on the topic of DNA Circles. This is fairly simple or seemingly so. I do view the Circles as more of a Tree Match than a DNA Match though it really seems to be both. Those in my circles (6 of them so far) all share common direct ancestors with me! I am not so certain about how the DNA connects us but I do know that our trees match via a common ancestor for each. I suppose that I am a “visual” person. If I can actuall see it, I can understand it so I enjoy your charts, etc. Most of my DNA matches at Ancestry either have Private Trees or No trees so I have had little luck with DNA matches aprt from the Circles but I keep hoping for more and I have met a two or three definite connections, one being an actual cousin, grandson of a Grt-Uncle!

    • I totally agree with Elizabeth Ballard – these Ancestry circles are a joke and not a funny one. They depend on the flawed Ancestry trees rather than the DNA. I also have cousins who I know I have matches with (thanks to GEDmatch) who never appear in the circles.

      Elizabeth’s right – fire everyone on the DNA Circles/New Ancestor Discoveries team.

  4. Roberta, Ancestry just posted a new blog article titled “New Ancestor Discoveries: Clues (Not Proof) to Your Past” written by Kenny Firestone, who starts off by blaming the customer. Now, just why would a customer get it wrong…could it be because Ancestry has chosen to call it a “New Ancestor Discovery”. My “New Ancestor Discovery” is NOT my ancestor no matter how Ancestry is twisting itself in knots to convince me it is.

  5. The circles are too large. Not enough members in my screen. Having struggled to doc. For proof, I don’t want someone to hand me something not accurate

  6. My newest “New Ancestor Discovery” just rolled across and it’s Lewis Minor, son of Hezekiah Minor and Elizabeth Goins. Oh my how our status can change in the blink of an eye at Ancestry. I’ve gone from being a lowly descendent of the Goinstown Indians (I have no Native American, by the way) to a full blown princess in the royal line of Melungeons. Who do I contact to to claim my tiara? 😉

    • I have, just a few days ago, discovered a Bayless who married a Goin/Goins/Gowen in East TN. He applied to have his children admitted to the Eastern Cherokee. His name was J. H. Bayless and his wife was Sallie Goin or Rattaye. I’d like to know more about this family. Bayless was married twice and Sallie was the second wife. Both wives deceased by 1907. Bayless stated that he also had applied for children of the 1st wife but I have not found that application. I am a BAYLESS descendant (Mother’s maiden name).

  7. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES, SOMETIMES I AM NOT SURE I UNDERSTAND ALL OF THEM BUT I THINK THE MESSAGE OF THIS ONE IS THAT THERE IS STILL NO SUBSTITUTE FOR ACTUAL RESEARCH IN GENEALOGY. I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT YOU AND I ARE “RELATED” ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE DOUCETS OF PORT ROYAL L’ACADIE, AND FOR ME THE RESEARCH WAS ALL PAPER, NO DNA. AS A NEW ENGLANDER OF FRENCH CANADIAN DESCENT I AM VERY FORTUNATE THAT PAPER RESEARCH IS RELATIVELY EASY THANKS TO THE BUREAUCRACY OF NEW FRANCE AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. ALSO THANKS TO ALL THE GRANDS AND GREAT GRANDS WHO MAINTAINED FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO THE THIRD AND FOURTH DEGREES.

  8. yeah ancestry can’t make any dna circles for my mom, her sister, and/or her dad even though some of the top matches have shared ancestor hints. and i know for a fact that at least a few of matches share a same common ancestor for her: celedonio villaneda & his wife rita perez

  9. Any idea why Circles disappear? One Circle stayed on for maybe a day and then disappeared. It was accurate in that it showed a known ancestor and I know of several people matching both tree and DNA to that ancestor. I hadn’t changed anything on my tree regarding that ancestor and it was only back 5 generations.

    I also have only two Circles (husband and wife yet) As of this morning I had 117 pages of DNA matches @ 50 a page, and my public tree is up to 976 (yeah!) so there really should be more there anyway.

    Sorry, I still don’t like Circles and New Ancestors even less.

    • Circles can be affected by what other people do with their tree. For example, if you’re in a “marginal” circle and someone makes their tree private, your circle can disappear. I’ve had three circles disappear, never to reappear again.

  10. Roberta, this email is not about Ancestry’s “better mousetrap” per se, but it may be related. May be you can tell me. Yesterday I got an email from the son of an Ancestry Tree owner that I had been attempting to contact for almost a year. My inquiry pertained to whether the father or son had done any ydna testing. The response was that very recently the father had tested with Ancestry. I inquired whether it was the 23 and me test or the new test. Since I did not hear back (yet) I decided to inquire of Ancestry about which ydna markers were tested with both tests. The customer service person said they (customer service) were only told that “. . . over 700,000 markers were tested . . .” and he couldn’t give me the marker ID. I think I remember being told that when Ancestry shared ydna data with FTDNA that “23 and me” had 20 or 30 ydna markers in the test and that there was an Ancestry ydna test of even more. Do you by chance know what ydna markers were/are in the 23 and me test? Also, can it be true that Ancestry is processing the values of 700,000 autosomal markers in the new “better mouse trap” test? Thanks for your anticipated commentary on these questions. Regards – David Grant McCracken FTDNA McCracken Project Kit 272614

  11. I find the new ancestors and DNA circles bizarre to say the least. My niece, my great nephew and just recently my sister have all been tested on Ancestry. My sister has a subscription, but she does not have any of us in her circles or new ancestors even though we have the same info in the tree. I actually discovered two cousins on my maternal grandmothers side without the circles and two relatives of my maternal grandfathers. Those four matches do not show either. I spoke with another match and together we were able to find out the common ancestor through another person we both matched with. Guess what? That doesn’t show in the circles or new ancestor for my sister either. Mys sister did receive a new ancestor match for a person whose surname she does not have in her tree. She allegedly matches two people in a circle who do have the surname in their trees. We have no idea how we would be related to the person. We might not ever be able to find ancestors through DNA or paper trail. My sister has matches I had before the changed algorithms that I was told were not valid. I could understand her having matches because we have different amounts of DNA passed down from relatives, but for me to have those matches before means that the DNA was passed down to me. It makes you question the authenticity of the whole kit and caboodle.

  12. Pingback: A Dozen Ancestors That Aren’t – aka – Bad NADs | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  13. I see that Ancestry’s advertising language about their “New Ancestor Discovery” still contains the following language: “Within your DNA, you carry a history that goes back hundreds of years, with traces of the people who came before you. And now, through advancements in DNA science, you can find out who they are, where they lived, and what they did–without searching records or creating a family tree.” Keeping that ridiculous last sentence in mind, their next paragraph reads: ”
    Once you’ve taken your AncestryDNA test and received your results, keep an eye out for “New Ancestor Discoveries” on your results page. To find these new potential ancestors and relatives, we compare your DNA to that of other AncestryDNA members who have already built their family trees. And, New Ancestor Discoveries can happen all the time as more people use AncestryDNA. Clicking on the photo of your potential new ancestor or relative will lead you on the path to discovering amazing new details of your family story as you determine how they may fit into your family tree.”

    It seems that the added a distinction of a potential new ancestor or relative in that second paragraph. But the last sentence about “how they may fit into your family tree” seems idiotic if AncestryDNA is telling folks in the first paragraph that they can find all of this neat stuff “without searching records or creating a family tree.” I would like to see how Ancestry can explain how you discover how people fit into your family tree without creating a family tree and without researching documents to see how they fit. This contradiction appears to be amazing stupid to any rationally minded reader.

  14. Firstly I agree with everyone, whoever thought this up should be fired without references cause they obviously don’t realize the damage this can cause. You have to make your own tree & get your own checked three times sources as they say in journalism & college English classes. I think this is really a bad idea to throw out there to a newbie starting out researching their family. If they see & copy & pass on the mistakes on bad trees it just gets worse & spreads like crabgrass. I am so mad after going through the circles & facts attached to our family that I wish I could crawl through the computer & shake some common sense into these folks. It was just terrible. Surely this is all about another way to get more money from folks now that genetic genealogy is all the latest rage. Like Ancestry hasn’t got enough with the commercials with those little green leaves beckoning you to come on & spend more money on more of their latest product. I’ve sent my rant to them & with no apology I will not recommend this DNA circles to anyone I work with in our genealogy library. I have always in the past told anyone using Ancestry or other sites in their research to verify anything from anyone else’s family tree & if the real records, especially censuses, are viewable to look at them to see if what was transcribed is correct. Now we get to do battle with DNA circles.

    • I do like the DNA Circles. This is because I have done a lot of research on my lines and it seems that those in my Circles are closely related to me through ancestors that I have verified. That said, there are many things at Ancestry that lead the ignorant into a forest of Trees that have no basis in fact. Errors increase almost geometrically. Why are the Errors so much more attractive than the Facts? “Improvements” to Ancestry in recent months only seem (to me) to perpetuate error and not contribute to factual information. The high cost of using the site prohibits the addition of trees by those who purchase DNA tests. Almost daily I have new 3rd and 4th cousins with no trees at all. After the expense of the DNA tests, I expect they discover that creating, sharing and researching their “Hits” is prohibitive. I have old issues with Ancestry regarding User submissions being offered as “Data” files. I constantly complain about this as do other Ancestry members but these often erroneous bits of “Data” remain as “Data” giving them the semblance of value when, in fact, many of these items are obvious errors which just keep multiplying in the trees of newcomers. I always have hope that there will be some improvement but things seem to be worse than ever with the “New Ancestor” feature and the indicated close cousin relationships. Sad.

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  21. Hi Roberta. As AncestryDNA updates their Beta version of Circles I am finding that they now put matches into “Family Groups” when the matches are identified as belonging to a particular family of a common ancestor. When there is incorrect information, for example a total misspelling of an ancestor’s name or deletion of a maiden name, it is not clear how to get a correction of the Family Group name. Apparently the first person to test gets priority (perhaps determined by the programming of this Circle feature) and the ancestor’s name is determined, for purpose of the Family Group, by who tested first (or some other method which is unknown to Ancestry’s customer service).
    Can you please give input to Customer Service (I got nowhere) with a suggestion about taking data from customers who have complaints about wrong names. Example: my gr-grandmother Ester Marticia Lewis is listed as Family Group: “Ester Maitilia”. Since there is only one other person in that family group the other tree data was used to determine Ester Marticia Lewis’ name. The other person doesn’t log in or respond to messages within Ancestry messaging. We have over 70 people in the overall ancestor’s grouping, with 40 dna matches and the rest are people who match the circle without dna match. That should give you an idea of the issue. Thanks!

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