After my previous post, some of you may be wondering what goes into the Notes section of my Excel spreadsheet. This is actually the first time I’m writing down this process, so I’m hoping it makes sense to someone other than myself!
My first step is to take a visual look at my matches. The results you see above are my matches closer than 4th cousin. With my working knowledge of the family tree, I’m able to tell just by looking at these matches who 50% of them are. That’s including my father. I’ve obviously edited out the pictures and names of the matches to protect their privacy.
As you can see, most of my close matches aren’t sharing any kind of public tree. Except, of course, some of them are sharing unlinked trees. Right away, when I’m going through my fourth cousin matches, I will add a note if my third cousin shares that match. For example, if I share a match with my 2nd cousin then I put, Shared match with 2nd cousin. Using their member name in place of the relationship.
My next step is to go through each match and see who we both share a match with. The screenshot above shows that this 3rd cousin match is a match shared with my father and two other 3rd cousins. One of those third cousins is already on my known list. From that match alone, it narrows down where this match comes in significantly. Not only for the match who I am looking at but for the other unknown third cousin match.
For this match in her Note section would read, Shared match with ‘3rd cousin’ and ‘3rd cousin’. I don’t add that my father is a match because I already have a box for that in my excel sheet.
My next step shows how even an unlinked family tree can help determine which section of your family tree a match comes from. This third cousin match has a small family tree that’s not attached to their DNA results. That means I have no idea if the DNA results are for the home person on this family tree. I can’t know without asking. I’m not ready to ask yet because I’m still rebuilding my core family tree. The two surnames that are shown above (Theademan, Moyer) are very familiar to me though. My great-grandma was a Moyer. That means I’m comfortable making another change to my list.
Re-Visiting my List
Okay, so now I know where eight out of my ten matches are coming from. I used a different symbol to denote that while I think I know where the match comes from, I’m still not sure. This is still a clue to identifying someone in my 4th cousin match list. If any of these third cousins come up as a shared match, then it goes into my notes section.
The last two matches
My last two matches are the most difficult ones. The first one has a public tree, but nothing that looks familiar. The second match has a tree but it is private. The one thing going for me is that when I look at the shared matches for each one, the other is listed. That means all three of us match. That doesn’t mean we match at the same spot, but that we are all related to people in common somewhere.
When looking at the matches, I realized not only did we have each other all in common. We all had a fourth cousin in common. That fourth cousin also has a public tree up. I recognized the Slusher name from this match. The funny thing about the Slushers is that I usually match with them as double cousins. There were 3 Mays siblings that married 3 Slusher siblings. That means we could all descend from different Mays/Slusher couples or the same one. One of us might not even be connecting through the Mays/Slusher mess but somewhere else. Without knowing those other two people, it’s difficult to say. As if DNA matches weren’t hard enough!
So now if I match with these third cousins and that particular fourth cousin, I add in the fourth cousin to my notes section. This gives me a starting point for my next level of analyzation. I sure am good at analyzing things to the point of exhaustion!
The Final List
Okay, the above screenshot shows my final list of 2nd and 3rd DNA cousin matches. The ‘i’ symbol on those last two matches shows that I just don’t have enough information on them. Now that I have a general idea where a lot of my matches come from, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. That’s not the end though. There is one last thing I have in my Notes section.
What happens when there are no second or third cousin matches?
Yup. I have quite a few of those as well. There are many types of notes that aren’t using a cousin match.
- Descendant of … : Usually, if they have a public tree that I see familiar names on.
- Descended through: This one is if they are descended through a known sibling of my ancestors.
- Only 1 shared match: There are 16 matches that only have one shared match.
- Possible Surname connection: If I see a pattern or surnames that I’m familiar with.
- DNA Circle: I only have a few DNA circles and they come and go depending on my cousin matches opening and closing their public trees. Though I feel like a lot of my sorting and organization is leading me to create my own DNA circles.
- Unknown Connection: 213 of my cousin matches are still a mystery to me. I have 493 charted. That means about 43% of my matches still need more work. In the grand scheme of things, I think that’s a good start. That means I will probably be able to figure out over 50% of my matches without too much hassle.