DNAGedcom provides an incredibly cool tool that has helped me immensely with my genealogy research, particularly at Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. This tool doesn’t replace what Ancestry and Family Tree DNA provide, but augments the functionality significantly.
I’ve been frustrated for months by the broken search function at Ancestry, and the DNAGedcom tool allows you to bypass the search function entirely by downloading the direct line ancestral information for all of your matches. So let’s use my Ancestry account as an example.
After installing the DNAGedcom tool on your system, sign on to your Ancestry account through the tool. The tool downloads all of your matches, the people you match in common with them, and the ancestors in your matches’ trees.
The best part about this is that the results are then in a spreadsheet file that you can simply sort utilizing normal spreadsheet functions. I wrote about using spreadsheets for genetic genealogy in the article, Concepts – Sorting Spreadsheets for Autosomal DNA.
In my case, this means I can see everyone who I match that has an Estes, or any other surname, in their tree. I don’t have to look at my matches’ trees one at a time.
You can read about this very cool tool at this link, including how to subscribe for either $5 per month or $50 per year. Many functions at DNAGedcom are free, but the Ancestry tool is available through a minimal subscription which helps to support the rest of the site.
After subscribing, the DNAGedcom client will become available to you on your subscriber page at DNAGedcom.
Please note that you can click to enlarge any image.
After you subscribe, you’ll see the link for the Ancestry download tool, along with other resources.
You will want to follow the installation directions, exactly, to download the DNAGedcom client onto your PC or Mac in preparation for downloading your Ancestry match information onto your system. This is painless and goes quickly.
Next, you will be prompted to sign in to both DNAGedcom and Ancestry, through the tool, and then you will be prompted for three separate steps at Ancestry:
- Gather Matches – took about 10 minutes
- Gather Trees – let’s just say you might want to run this one overnight, and on a directly connected system, not wifi. Mine was about 25% complete at the 2 hour mark
- Gather ICW – another several hours, but you can do other things on your system at the same time
The downloaded files will be stored on your computer as .csv files. On my PC, the default location was in the Documents directory and the files are named as follows:
- a_Roberta_Estes (the ancestors of my matches)
- icw_Roberta_Estes (the people I match and who I match in common with them)
- m_Roberta_Estes (information about the match, such as cMs, etc.)
It’s important to make a note of this, as I didn’t find the file names documented elsewhere.
The good news is that even though these steps take a long time, having all of this information in a place where you can sort it and use it effectively is extremely useful. You can run the various steps at night or when you aren’t otherwise using your system.
In addition, if someone is sharing their DNA results with you on Ancestry (which they can under the settings gear), you can download the same data for their account – and then you can look for commonalities between groups of results using the DNAGedcom Match-O-Matic tool, also described in the introductory document.
Using the Downloaded Files
Personally, what I wanted to do was to search for all occurrences of a particular surname. Fortunately, it was Claxton or Clarkson, not Smith.
Simply using Excel (after saving the results file in Excel format), I was able to quickly sort for these surnames, an example shown below. Hmmm, I wonder if Claxon is relevant too. I never considered that possibility – nor would I have ever seen Claxon in a surname search, because I wouldn’t have searched for Claxon..
I’m brick walled on the Claxton line in Russell County, Virginia in about 1799. My ancestor, James Lee Claxton, was born someplace in Virginia about 1775. Utilizing Y DNA, we know of another man, also named James Claxton, born about 1750 first found in Granville and Bertie County, NC, who sired an entire lineage of Claxtons who migrated to Bedford County, TN. However, that James is not the father of my ancestor, because that James had a different son named James. Other than these two distinct groups, we can’t seem to match with anyone else who has tested their Y DNA at Family Tree DNA, so my hope, for now, is an autosomal match with a known Claxton line out of Virginia.
(Shameless plug – if you are a Claxton or Clarkson male, please test your Y DNA at Family Tree DNA and join the Claxton DNA project. If you have Claxton or Clarkson ancestry from any line, and have taken the Family Finder test or transferred autosomal results from another vendor, please join the Claxton/Clarkson DNA project at Family Tree DNA. If you have Claxton or Clarkson ancestry and haven’t yet DNA tested, please do.)
Therefore, my goal is to find matches to other Claxton or Clarkson individuals who don’t share a known common known ancestor with me. Because we don’t share a known common ancestor, of course, these people would never be shown as an Ancestry green leaf “DNA+tree match,” nor is there another way for me to obtain a surname list like this at Ancestry.
After finding Claxton candidates, then I can refer to the other downloaded files or sign on to my account at Ancestry to look at the match itself and other ICW matches. Hopefully, some of my matches will also match some of my Claxton cousins as well, which would suggest that the match might actually be through the Claxton line.
The DNAGedcom client also downloads the same type of information from 23andMe, which isn’t nearly as useful without trees, as well as from Family Tree DNA.
Thanks so much to www.dnagedcom.com.
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