Genetic Communities

Ancestry’s Genetic Communities is being released today after a long BETA that included many people in the genetic genealogy community. You may have been hearing the chatter.

Before I show you my results, let’s talk for a minute about Genetic Communities.

According to Ancestry’s white paper, Genetic Communities are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived.

Ancestry created Genetic Communities by analyzing the DNA of their members and looking at their trees and who they matched. They discovered that they could predict “fine scale ancestral origins from the genetic sharing patterns among millions of individuals.

The research and resulting paper led to the 300 different Genetic Communities defined by the research and available for people to cluster into today.

Ancestry created a short YouTube video here that talks about Genetic Communities.

Beneficiaries

For the most part, I think that beneficiaries will tend to be individuals who have done less genealogy rather that more. People who have done more genealogy already know who their genetic communities are. Still, it’s pretty cool to see that these groups of people tend to cluster, and in the future, I’m hopeful for tighter clusters, even quite specific locations, that actually will benefit seasoned genealogists by reaching back further in time.

Now, the good news for you is that I’ve done a lot of genealogy and have proven many lines both with paper and DNA, so my tree for several generations back in time is fairly robust. I created a five generation birth and migration pedigree chart which will give us a good foundation for judging the accuracy and usefulness of my Genetic Communities.

The percentages across the top reflect how much DNA from that generation, on average, one would carry. In other words, I carry approximately 3.125% of each of my 32 3X great-grandparents.

Cut to the Chase

I know you’re dying to see what exactly Genetic Communities does, so let’s take a look.

Your Genetic Communities link is a part of your DNA Results, under Genetic Ancestry.

Click on “View Your Genetic Ancestry.”

Your ethnicity estimate will be shown above, on the upper left, and reflected on the map with the fully colored green European circles, in my case. Ethnicity estimates are now labeled as “thousands of years ago,” while Genetic Communities are labeled “hundreds of years ago.”

The Genetic Communities are reflected by the areas that are comprised of tiny dots with outlined shapes. I have two, both located in the US. You can view all of the Genetic Communities available by clicking on the “View All” button, but let’s face it, most people want to see their own first.

By enlarging the screen, you can see that I have a gold group and a red group. Both of these groups are clustered into two regions that overlap somewhat.

The dots represent matches and clusters of matches.

You don’t need a paid subscription to see your Genetic Communities, but if you don’t have a tree linked to your DNA, Ancestry can’t pull tree matches into your results.  If you haven’t linked a tree to your DNA results, now would be a great time to do that.

Settlers of the Alleghenies and Northeast Indiana

I must say, I was surprised to see a region as finely identified as “Northeast Indiana.”

When you click on the area with the title in the box, above, or on the associated part of the map, you are taken to a screen with two links; Story and Connections.

The story will be showing in the box on the left.

In my case, I knew immediately when I saw the map that this was my mother’s Brethren lineage. The story isn’t that specific, but we’ll see in a minute how I know this is true.

Click on the “Connection” link.

You will see the confidence range that you belong in this community, but more importantly, you will see how many people are in this genetic community and the associated surnames, at bottom right. Miller, Cripe, Ulrich and several others that I recognize as being very specifically Brethren are showing. In the box at bottom left, you can click to view all of the matches that you have that fall into this community – including matches with and without trees.

By clicking on “View All Matches,” I can see my matches from just this community, as opposed to all matches in the data base, including matches with those valuable shakey leaves that mean they are a DNA match and we share a common ancestor on our trees.  Within a Genetic Community, those common ancestors are very important and will define why you are found within that community.

On your match page, you can then click on “Search Matches” and search for everyone in the group with the surname of Miller, for example.

Please note that as of last evening, I was having issues with this search (as well as the maps) using browsers Internet Explorer, Edge and Chrome.  I did not try Firefox, but others reported that both Chrome and Firefox were working for them.

Maps

Looking at the map, you can view the migration points. The Brethren settled as a group in lower Pennsylvania and into the Hagerstown, Maryland region before migrating, more or less as a group, in the late 1790s to the Dayton area of Ohio. Then another 30 years later they moved on into the Goshen/Elkhart region of Indiana, again, as a group. This map reflects that migration history amazingly well, including the larger circles located appropriately.

For some groups, there are also connecting “migration lines” back to the locations in other countries where those immigrants originated.

Early Settlers of the Lower Midwest and Virginia

Looking at the map, it was clear immediately that this was my father’s side of the tree.

The surnames are the first place I looked, and I only recognized one, Dodson, but there are many that I recognize as “married in” to various ancestral lines from this region.

Report Card

So, how did Ancestry do?

The two Genetic Communities they reported for me are accurate. That’s the good news. The bad news is that major communities are absent and the communities that are present don’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know .

However, that wouldn’t necessarily be true for everyone.  This tool would actually be more informative for people with unknown parentage, I would think, than ethnicity results. Furthermore, it appears to be more accurate than ethnicity estimates, although we’ll have to see if others have the same experience.

Half of my genealogy, on my father’s side, is indeed from Appalachia, originating mostly from Virginia. Of my 16 3X great-grandparents, the breakdown of their birth locations is:

  • Virginia – 10
  • Tennessee – 1
  • North Carolina – 4
  • England – 1

Their primary heritage is as follows:

  • Scotland – possibly Scots-Irish – 2
  • English – 5
  • Uncertain – probably British Isles – 5
  • Dutch – 1
  • Irish – 3

Hopefully the American communities will someday morph into European ancestral communities as well.

On my mother’s side, Ancestry didn’t do as well.

My mother’s one Genetic Community is accurate for her Brethren line, but that’s only 1 of my 16 3X great-grandparents.

The 16 3X great-grandparents on my maternal side were born in the following locations:

  • Netherlands – 4
  • Maryland – 1
  • Pennsylvania -1
  • Germany – 6
  • New England – 2
  • New Hampshire – 1
  • Connecticut – 1

Their heritage is:

  • Dutch – 4
  • Brethren German/Swiss – 1
  • German – 7
  • Acadian – 2
  • English – 2

Ironically, the only ancestral line that translated into a Genetic Community was the Brethren line – probably because they have so many offspring who have tested. One of the other German lines may have fallen into this group due to geography, but the balance of the German immigrants were quite separate and lived in another areas.

The reason, I’m sure, that the Dutch and German lines don’t cluster is that there aren’t very many descendants, and there aren’t a lot of Dutch and German people living in the Netherlands and Germany who have tested. Hopefully, someday.

I’m surprised that the Acadian lines didn’t cluster as many Acadian descendants have tested..

The Good News

More than the actual Genetic Communities and maps themselves, the matches within the community will do more to tie people to the family sides and groups for me than anything else. In some cases, for people with shakey leaf matches, I already knew which common ancestor we share, but for people with no tree, it was impossible to tell. Genetic Communities will at least give me an idea.

Caveat – just because someone matches you and is in the same Genetic Community doesn’t mean that’s how you are genetically related to them. For example, someone could be descended from a Brethren line that I’m not, find themselves in the same community, but be related to me on a completely different line that doesn’t have a community showing today.

So don’t be confused and don’t assume. Use all of the tools available, together, including traditional written records, other DNA matching tools and triangulation which can be achieved at either Family Tree DNA or GedMatch utilizing chromosome browsers if your matches will transfer their data to either location.

My Hope

  • I hope that in time this tool can become refined enough that I will be able to tell where in Europe certain family groups originated.
  • I hope that the “Early Settlers of the Lower Midwest and Virginia” can connect with other groups such as someplace in Scotland or Ireland, where I know many of my Scots-Irish originated, but I don’t know where.
  • I hope that someday integration will exist between matches, Genetic Communities and perhaps ethnicity in a way that allows people to break down brick walls in their genealogy.
  • I hope that Ancestry can pick up those areas that are missing from Genetic Communities today, like my mother’s German heritage, Acadian, and other prevalent genealogical heritage.

I’m very pleased that what is showing is accurate, unlike ethnicity results which can mislead people.

The Future

Ancestry plans to do a number of things in the future:

  • Add Genetic Communities when new clusters form
  • Show common Genetic Communities between you and your family members
  • Add records collections focused towards Genetic Communities

53 thoughts on “Genetic Communities

  1. I agree with you. I’ve been in the beta so I’ve seen it for a while and the 2 communities I am in are accurate but like you I’ve done my tree so I’m like this is known I need the unknown to step out and help me. I look forward to them moving to Europe and Africa!

  2. Thank you Roberta for your inisight. Do you know or expect that Familytreedna will have an update with something similar like Genetic Communities?

  3. Thanks Roberta for alerting me to this new feature. I totally agree with your comments. I too am missing the Acadian community, but it may be due to how people enter the locations in their tree: Port-Royal, Acadie or Port-Royal/Annapolis Royal/Nova Scotia? Ile-St-Jean or Prince Edward Island? Belair or Scotchfort? It shows they don’t know much about it because they say in the history that Acadians were expelled from New-Brunswick instead of Nova Scotia and PEI – easy correction to make. However my community of Gaspé, New Brunswick and Maine and its connection to France is totally accurate (they have included the lower St-Lawrence in Gaspé, but close enough) – unlike my 55% British ethnicity…

    But where I am VERY IMPRESSED is that everything was translated in French!

    • Suzanne,

      Not to put too fine a point on it, although the largest share of expelled Acadians were from the Fundy shore of the current Annapolis and Kings counties, I believe there were also some from portions of what is now New Brunswick (which at the time under the British was considered part of Nova Scotia). That said, they entirely missed the Planter and Loyalist migrations that replaced the Acadians over the following two+ decades.

      • Well yes, but you need to put a date on it. From early 1600’s there was Nova Scotia, but it was given to France by the traité de St-Germain-en-Laye in 1629.
        It was French Acadia until 1713, which by another treaty Acadia was half French half English rule, but inhabitants were mostly French. After the expulsion about 1745-1756, only the French part remained being called Acadia, then after 1763 – all British rule, all Nova Scotia. New Brunswick was only created as such in 1784.

  4. I have always felt I received value for my dollar with my Ancestry subscription. Now there is value added. Perhaps compensation for not having a chromo browser………?

  5. Your observations are, I think, spot on. My own ancestry is 3/4 British Isles to colonial New England and subsequently to Nova Scotia (and back). Sure – pretty easy to identify that as a “community” but they provided nothing new for me. My remaining 1/4 is Swabian (southwest German) and Alsatian and while the ethnicity estimate shows those, there is no representation in the Community presentation. Everything they say was already known to me and I found their blurbs to be simplistic at best – useful, as you say, for the large share of their subscriber base who have little historical knowledge but not for any kind of history buff. The blurbs miss some significant migration issues in my case (e.g., New England Planter and Loyalist emigration to the Maritime Provinces).

    You noted that they extended your community to include part of Indiana – in my case there is no additional information even though I have tracked major family groups both through dna (at Ancestry and FTDNA) and on paper to concentrations elsewhere in the US and Canada and many of these are found among my matches on Ancestry. The same occurs with the leaf hints and those matches for which they specifically identify our ancestral connection – in virtually every case I have already identified the hint or the connection by doing a bit of legwork on my own. My conclusion is therefore similar to yours but a bit less generous – Ancestry continues to cater to the very profitable portion of their client base who apparently want to be handed everything on a silver (blue, with orange dots?) platter rather than do any of the work themselves. I suppose that’s not a bad thing but it does make their efforts fairly worthless to me.

    • I don’t want to belabor these things but the more I look, the more I find some curious points to this feature. For example, with my New England community when I look at the blurbs for specific periods it displays names from my tree, presumably those who fall into that period. But it shows those who lived during the period whether or not they actually lived in or were connected to New England. Perhaps it’s correct that most of my Nova Scotian ancestors had New England roots but it also shows those born in Scotland and lived in Nova Scotia (but never came to the US) as though they should be in the community. And one first generation German ancestor born 1849 in New York City is shown as born in “New York, British America” with the location in upstate NY state – where did that come from? I suspect further examination will catch more of these anomalies but it suggests their system remains a touch flaky at this juncture.

  6. Thanks for letting us know that Ancestry has released this feature! I was able to do quite a bit of exploring, as I have tested myself, my parents, and my maternal grandmother.

    So far, I only have one result for a genetic community, and I was astounded by its accuracy – Early Settlers of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana, Illinois, & Iowa. Birthplaces of my 3x great grandparents are Lithuania (8), Czech Republic/Bohemia (4), Germany (4), Indiana (7), Pennsylvania (1), Illinois (4), Ohio (2), Unknown (2). A large portion of my mother’s ancestors were very early settlers in Illinois and Indiana – in some cases, before they even became states. This one was very accurate for me.

    My father only has one so far – Lithuanians. This one was not the least bit of a surprise, as all his paternal great grandparents were born there, making him an even 50%.

    My maternal grandmother’s was the only one which was a little more interesting. Her 3 communities are Early Settlers of Northern Arkansas & Middle Tennessee, Early Settlers of Eastern North Carolina, and Settlers of the Missouri Ozarks & East Tennessee. In her case, I think these show more where other lines of her family ended up rather than where her ancestors actually lived at any point in time. Her mother’s family was from Illinois for many generations, of uncertain but assumed heritage from the British Isles. Her father’s line is over half German (mostly North Carolina Brethren, Pennsylvania Dutch, and from the Rhineland) and half uncertain but assumed Scottish and English.

  7. Correction to one point I raised (which hasn’t been posted yet): Ancestry does mention the Loyalist emigration to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick but they put it under the 1800-1825 time frame. Maybe it flows better for them there but it seems a bit misleading.

  8. This new feature does serve as a data check of sorts…ancestors mis-located due to errors on my part (spelling errors in place names, lack of specificity in birth places) are rather noticible and can then be fixed (although response on the maps is not immediate). Otherwise, I see nothing I did not already know, with much I do know omitted at this early (beta) iteration.

  9. Roberta, Great news! I have a robust tree on ancestry (lilyhostarose is my moniker) but I have not linked my DNA results from familytreedna. I am wondering if (and possibly how, though perhpas you have already covered that) I do so, who has the rights to my results. That is, will ancestry be able to sell my dna? I am adamant that that not be so.

    This is my first comment, though I have been a huge fan for many years –since being tested in 2009. So may I take this opportunity to thank you for your dedication and generosity to the genetic genealogy community.

    THANK YOU!

    • Hi Carolyn. You are welcome and thanks for your comment. You can’t link your DNA results from Family Tree DNA to Ancestry. You would have to retest at Ancestry. If you do not want your DNA results to be sold, then you probably don’t want to do that. I suggest you look at Ancestry’s terms and conditions and make a decision for yourself, but everyone’s anonymized DNA can be sold, and that’s part of the consent form. There is also a higher level of optional consent as well where you opt in to additional research efforts.

      • Ahh, thanks again. That is what I had understood from your earlier posts. Just wanted to make sure that that was still the case. Darn! But through gedmatch, perhaps I’ll be able to glean something from the cousins who tested at ancestry..and the communitities we share.

  10. I have 1 community and it confirmed what I already know-from my moms side. Unfortunately, nothing from my dad’s side. Luckily I have a paternal aunt and her community shows the German/Belgian connection. But her son shows his dad’s side but not moms (our common ancestors).
    I agree it’ll help those with less experience & information. I hope someday it’ll help with my brick wall German & Austrian lines.

  11. Ancestry has bombed yet again. They are basing one of my Genetic Communities on an ancestor who “arrived” in Kentucky, from the Virginia/North Carolina area. Yet this ancestor is a 5th generation American and came to Kentucky directly from Rhode Island – I know full well this is not your typical migration! Prior to RI, the family was in New London, CT and had arrived in Massachusetts Bay by 1640. I wonder how many other communities are based on similar faulty information. I have two predicted Communities – and probably they are more or less correct for some of my inheritance – but neither is correct based on the ancestors Ancestry cites.

    • Kay, according to the webinar I just watched, the genetic communities are based solely on yoiur DNA, not on your tree as people with no trees may also get genetic communities.

      • That’s true, but the formation of Genetic Communities themselves is based on clusters of people and where their trees say there ancestors were from.

  12. Initially I am shown “View your 1 Genetic Community”. When I click that link I see that it is Southern English. After clicking on that right arrow link, a dropdown arrow is shown to the right of Southern English, which lets me flip between Southern English and English in East Anglia & Essex. In Southern English I have 47 DNA matches. In English in East Anglia & Essex I have 20 DNA matches. Clicking View All Matches, the 20, I am indeed shown those 20 matches. At the top of the list I have a dropdown box to the right of the green Genetic Communities “Select Genetic Community”. In there I only have one choice Southern English which shows me those 47 matches. I can’t get back to the 20 English in East Anglia & Essex from that point.

  13. Since I have three Mayflower ancestors, plus my dad’s paternal line from the 1630s, I find it odd that I get a “possible” Colonial community designation. 😏 Also, my mother’s entire Ulster Irish ancestry is not reflected in my GCs. So, the only surprise for me is a lack of…

  14. Pingback: More About Genetic Communities and Display Problem Hints | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  15. Hi Roberta thanks for the detailed information on this new Ancestry.com feature. Oh, how I wish they had spent their time instead in giving us a DNA chromosome browser so we could map segments between our matches. Well, we can always keep wishing for it. Thanks.

    • Amen sister. Mine was a joke. Not where my ancestors migrated to and only one surname on their list. And that one is questionable since I have never actually found her name anywhere but other people’s trees.

      More smoke and mirrors. Just give us a chromosome browser

  16. thanks roberta for letting us know about this. i have been having a great time today contacting people in my “early settlers of mississippi and louisiana”..now if i just knew their chromosome number, i could enter them into my spreadsheets. many have contacted me back already. i have identified a few new mrcas.

  17. Check the fine print in the FAQ section:

    “How do you know I belong to this community?
    You may find that you’re part of a community that doesn’t match what you know about your family. Being part of a community simply means that you’re genetically related to this group of people. You may or may not have ancestors who lived in the areas related to the community.”

    How is that any different from saying, “Here’s where most of your matches are from, whether your ancestors were there or not.”?

    Just another lame Ancestry gimmick for the lederhosen-vs-kilt future customers.

    • I’d wager that they also parse the available trees to “improve” the precision of their analysis. Basically they are doing what we also might do – look at our matches and figure out how they might fit into our known extended-family trees. And if a large number of trees point to a particular geographical region and connections can be made during a particular time period, it pretty much is assured to be close to the truth. But if you already are heavily invested in genetic genealogy, this isn’t much help since those of us who have extensive trees most likely have already done exactly the same thing but without the fancy graphical presentation that, as you note, is attractive to the lederhose/kilt group (please note, I wear lederhosen under my kilt). 😉

      • Certainly an interesting analogy . . . but I have to note that lederhosen unfortunately do not fully cover the lower limbs whereas tights, yoga pants, and other feminine attire unfortunately do.

        Sigh . . .

      • Is that a form of penance? LOL If so, you are in good company. Archbishop Thomas a Becket wore a hair shirt under his garments. Bet you are more comfortable.

      • I had my DNA done through AncestryDNA and the tree I have it linked to is my French Canadian (only) tree which includes BOTH my French Canadian ADOPTIVE parents and my French Canadian BIRTH mother.
        They are constantly sending me links showing how I’m 6th cousin (or whatever Xth) I am and 9 times out of 10 it shows my connection through my ADOPTIVE parents. I’ve written to them to let them know I thought that was suspicious…the fact is while we FCs ARE likely “more” closely related than our nearest ACTUAL cousinship (provided we could chart both trees for nearest common ancestor) due to having so many common ancestors within the last 400 years.

        I since I’ve played around with this using a public figure’s FC ancestral tree, Angelina Jolie. It took about a ream of paper to print out her full tree, then each of the common ancestor’s descendant chart, for which I made a “tree chart” to plot how many places we descent per ancestor couple, then created a matrix to calculate each level of cousinship as well as how many. Through my THREE FC parents, there are over 300 cousinships (though I’ve got to recheck for any more “double” counts) with the largest amount through my birth mother, approx. 125 times (mostly 8th – 11th cousin range).

        The FTM program CANNOT calculate ALL these cousinships, I think there are too many collapses within the whole tree to possibly give an accurate count (I realized this when she’d show as 7th cousin to my adoptive Dad but it didn’t calculate me as 7th cousin 1x removed through the same branch); but nothing like many hours and manual calculations, lots of charts to get a more accurate picture!

        I even called Ancestry a couple years ago and asked them if the massive # of times two FC (or partially FC) individuals are distant cousins meant they were genetically closer than their nearest common ancestor, usually at 8th cousin. IOW, if we are, for example, 8th cousins one hundred times, are we still 8th cousins as far as % of DNA goes or does that make us more like 4th cousins? They couldn’t understand my inquiry let alone provide an answer…BUT I think these “Genetic Communities” might be their answer??? My ego likes to think I might have got them to thinking! 😉 LOL

        I was able to make specific links because as I built my FC tree on “Family Tree Maker” I made a coding system to keep track of which lineage connected me to each ancestor using the surname initial of each of my SIX FC grandparents. For example, I’m a direct descendant of Guillaume Langlois & Jeanne MIllet EIGHTY-TWO times (verified on their descendant chart), so following their names, on my tree, it looks like this (T13)(G-m)(Gs10(R30)(P11)(B16); broken down with (T)(G-m) are birth mother, (Gs)(R)=adoptive mom, (P)(B)=adoptive father lines. I actually split the “G” for Gaudreau with an “m” for MONTY because both sides merge to Monty through my grandmother’s mother, a Monty, and my grandmother’s mother-in-law, a Monty (making them 1st cousins 1x removed). I am related to this couple 15 times through blood, 40 times through my adoptive mom, and 27 times through my adoptive father.

        Back to ancestry.com, there was one GOOD DNA match where I was connected to a 1st cousin of my birth mother who was able to tell me so much about my maternal birth family because she’s a bit older than my birth mother who isn’t into family history.

        That’s my story & I’m sticking to it!
        Debi

  18. When I saw the emails this morning, I went in to check mine. I had two … “Early Settlers of Northern Arkansas and Middle Tennessee” and “Early Settlers of Lower Midwest and Virginia”. I didn’t have time to really look at them, but I have NO ancestors who even set foot in Arkansas or Middle Tennessee.

    While I was reading your blog, I went in to check them again and spend more time. I still have two, but now they are “Settlers of the Missouri Ozarks and East Tennessee” and “Lower Midwest and Virginia”. Hummm! I like this one much better, as all my father’s ancestors were from Claiborne County (5 b. in North Carolina, 5 b. in Virginia, 5 b. in Tennessee, 1 b. in Delaware) … none of them went to the Ozarks, though. None of my surnames were listed, but Dodson was there, so I knew I was in the right neighborhood :-)! However, I opened another tab and Middle Tennesse is back and East Tennessee is gone! What’s up with that?

    My mother’s line is more diverse … Northern Ireland (4), New Jersey (2), Pennsylvania (2), New York (2), Massachusetts (1), Vermont (1), North Carolina (2), Kentucky (1), Quebec (1). The ones from NC and KY show up in the Midwest, as do the NJ and PA ones and the descendants of the Northern Ireland ones. I have New England ancestors back to 1620, but no community there.

    It is interesting, but I have a very large tree, so nothing that was surprising … except Arkansas!

  19. Thanks, Roberta, as always, for your lucid and enlightening article. I checked my genetic communities — I only have one (on my dad’s side): Southern Irish. Well, duh. 🙂 It’s completely accurate, no question there. (Indeed, Ancestry predicts 95% accuracy in their prediction.) What I was perturbed about — and told Ancestry in their survey — was that they point out migrations of the Southern Irish to NY and to PA (and a distant branch of my line did indeed end up in Pittsburgh) but my line (and several collateral lines) went to San Francisco. Perhaps not enough tested. Or most of the member trees have kin there.

    My second beef is that none of my mother’s ancestry showed up. Granted, I haven’t filled out trees very far (past 2G grandparents) for her/my Danish and Italian kin, but she has ancestry back to 1760s Maryland and North Carolina, including (possibly) some NC Brethren. As my DNA circles relate to these lines, I would’ve thought that would’ve been picked up by the genetic community algorithm.

    Oh well.

  20. I got so excited when I read your post. Then I went to Ancestry and looked. They don’t have any Genetic Communities listed for me :(. Then I looked up my parents. My parents each have one community. Very sparse, and that didn’t give me a sense of community at all!

  21. Thank you for this post – it was super informative. I just sent my test in last week and my mom, grandma, and uncle have all mailed in tests for me. I look forward to seeing what I can learn. 🙂

  22. I have two communities: Settlers of Southwestern West Virginia (95% confidence – Mother was born there), and Settlers of Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia (20% confidence – I think Mother’s family was just passing through). Neither one a surprise, but as for others, my dad’s all-German family is missing. Of his 4 grandparents, all lived in southern Ohio, all were of German origin, and two were born in southern Germany. I have relatively few matches from the German side, although I do have enough to be pretty sure my tree is right. Could be those Germans just don’t test.

    We’ve corresponded about the Workman/Muncy families. Workman turns out to be one of the names listed for the Southwestern West Virginia community. Wish I could get that search function going to see which community the Muncys are in.

  23. Fascinating, thanks for the article Roberta!

    But after watching the video, the first thought that popped into my mind was that I could never believe the communities that Ancestry pops back. The reason is simple. It has been my experience that the vast majority of the trees on Ancestry are full of errors. Very little of these trees are actually put together by researchers who bother to check every detail of a hint, and just accept them as real instead of possible. Then there is another class of trees which are assembled from other trees. These are easy to spot: in the source list they only show “Ancestry Trees”.

    One person taking a leap and accepting something with no proof, then putting into their tree which may be copied by hundred if not thousands of others creates an ocean of bad data.

    If Ancestry as they claim on their video base your communities on your DNA data coupled with the millions of trees that they have in their database, I can’t see how I could ever trust any of the suggested communities.

    Or is the principle more complex and am I missing something here?

    • There is much money to be made through subscriptions generated by providing “an ocean of bad data”.

      It need not be true or factual. It only need be marketable.

    • Excellent comment. That was one of the serious ramifications of the original LDS approach to family research and trees – effectively anyone could submit a tree with no sourcing or other documentation and it was made available to the larger community without vetting. While there were many benefits from having information of any kind available, the unintentional result was, and remains, phenomenally long-lived misinformation that will never be corrected. Ancestry can’t really be blamed for poor research and bad trees but it can be held responsible for perpetuating the errors by incorporating unproven information into their commercial products.

  24. I was assigned to three genetic communities. The one with the highest confidence is Western Norwegians (connection likely), My mother’s father was half Norwegian and my father’s mother was 1/4 Norwegian. One of my DNA matches is to my mother’s half first cousin. I wondered why I was not also assigned the genetic community Swedes (my father’s mother was 3/4 Swedish), but after reading your post, I realized that it could be because I don’t have as many matches from that branch of the family. The other categories I was assigned are Connacht Irish (connection possible) and Ulster Irish (connection possible). I have identified an immigrant ancestor from Connacht (on my father’s side) and an immigrant ancestor from Ulster (on my mother’s side). One of my DNA matches in both categories is someone that I know I am related to on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family – which is all German! He is not related to any of my Irish ancestors.

  25. Roberta
    I was trying to understand why I wasn’t included in the Acadian community, so I looked at what they show about them. The write-up is totally focused on Louisiana it seems, and not on the areas further north, like Mass and Connecticut who were the first recipients, and on Quebec where many came back to.
    I guess they will refine their product in time – the only place I saw for comments was the survey. So if we all make our suggestions there…

    They seem quite responsive unlike this other company that has a number in their name. I complained that I was missing relatives because I had accents in my names that my US counterparts did not. They replied and fixed within a few days, so my Côté now match the Cote… in my DNA list.

  26. My ancestry is 49% Irish but other than a green blob over Ireland, the only “community” I have is Settlers of Colonial New England…which is well documented & already known. My grandmother was born in Ireland, other ancestors came from Ireland in 1700’s. My husband only has one community Settlers of Central & Southern New Mexico, which I have documented. So nothing new for us. I wonder if they just haven’t gotten to other areas of world. Guess I need to read their white paper and see what the basis is for communities.

    • At this point I don’t expect anyone to have actual revelations or break troughs. This does NOT appear to be based on shared triangulated strings, but rather common unrelated ancestors who lived in the same place???

      One of my “New England Colonial” ‘connections’ is a cousin through common Swedish 2nd great grandparents. His tree doesn’t go back far enough for Colonial America. ????

  27. This is great for people with colonial ancestry- not so good for people with less common ancestry like myself- where the one genetic community they put me in is Hungarian/Slovak- however I am neither of those ethnicities via my paper trails. Also- less than 10% of my matches fall in this genetic community. I do recognize (1) name as my 4th great -grandmothers -but that is on the edge of my dna trail.

  28. I was assigned only one community: The Lower Midwest. It’s generally accurate. Three of my grandparents have ancestry that passed mostly through the routes leading to the Lower Midwest region and community. It doesn’t pick up my grandmother’s Scottish ancestors who mostly came to the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century. But Ancestry says that one grandparent’s ancestry might be left out in favor of the other three. I have already drawn graphs for myself showing how some of my ancestors migrated over time. The historical connections here are much more interesting to me than just a name and a birth and death date.

    I also how Ancestry is now saying that the Ethnicity Estimate covers “thousands of years.” This makes sense to me with my results. A thousand to two thousand years ago half my ancestors could have been living in “Europe West” as opposed to two to four centuries ago when almost all came from the “Great Britain” and “Ireland.” Maybe Ancestry is trying to nudge people away from putting too much stock in the Ethnicity Estimate. Maybe a change in the Ethnicity Estimate estimation may soon be coming, as well.

    People like to complain when the results from DNA testing don’t fit exactly with what they expect. As someone else pointed out above, a lot of the family tree information on Ancestry is faulty, especially the further back you go. I keep finding this out by doing some research on other sites, with information from people who really have done the hard research. Also, I paid $100 for the DNA testing and a couple of years later, I am still getting new research results on it. That’s a pretty good deal.

  29. Warning: AncestryDNA Genetic communities can be dynamic — like ancestry in motion! My top “Settlers of Colonial New England” Genetic community match is a cousin whose ancestor actually immigrated from Switzerland and “settled” in Georgia in the 1700s — and then one of his descendants moved to New York where he died. This family — represented on this cousin’s tree – is without question “full stop” Southern — with well-documented Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina roots. I have a photograph of one of the ancestors displayed in this cousin’s tree hanging on my wall and he’s wearing a Confederate uniform! No Yankee there!

  30. I was surprised to see this new Genetic Community tool at Ancesry yesterday. I looked at it and was amazed how accurate it is in my case. But I only have one Community. It shows my ancestors coming in two streams to ”New England” and the ”Great Lakes area” from South-West Germany and North-East England (very accurate! in fact, all my known ancestors come from only those two European regions, and indeed, their descendants ended up in New England, New York and Michigan.) I was impressed. Though after reading your article here, i now understand that this is not magic, but merely the logical result of comparing my DNA and Family Tree with my DNA matches. And still, as an adoptee who nineteen years ago knew nothing at all, (but now have a full paternal and maternal family tree), this does seem like magic to me. And I am very thankful.

    • Alien? Just kidding. Not everyone has genetic communities. Apparently you don’t cluster with any strong enough to be included. They are adding communities and as more people test, the clusters will become stronger, so hopefully sooner than later for you.

  31. Pingback: Which DNA Test is Best? | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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