Friday, August 16, 2019

Using AncestryDNA ThruLines

In February, Ancestry introduced a new feature called ThruLines™ which uses Ancestry trees (created by individual users) to suggest how I might be related to my DNA matches. In other words, who are our common ancestors.

Look for this icon on your AncestryDNA page to get started:

It's important to note that you have to have a family tree on Ancestry and you have to link your DNA to your Ancestry tree or this feature doesn't work for you.

When you first click on Explore ThruLines, you'll get a long page with icons for your known ancestors, followed by icons for possible ancestors. The following screenshot shows the paternal side of my third great grandparents.

James McAlpin has many, many descendants, and quite a few have tested their DNA. Jane Hunter was his wife.

When I clicked on his name, I got a ThruLines family tree for James McAlpin. It shows that several descendants of James have tested their DNA. (Results would be the same if I had selected Jane Hunter.)

The following screenshot shows that five lines from his son David Hunter McAlpin have descendants who have tested. There are eight DNA descendants who have tested and who have linked their DNA to an Ancestry family tree. This family tree can be as small as yourself, your parents and your grandparents, and ThruLines should work if your DNA matches have more-developed family trees.

The top arrow indicates that I can click to see other siblings of David (Hugh and Jane) who have descendants who have tested.

The lower blue arrow indicates that there are 4 DNA matches under David's daughter Frances A. 

When I click the "4 DNA Matches" under Frances A. McAlpin, I get the following tree showing my DNA matches through James McAlpin's granddaughter, Frances Adelaide McAlpin:

On either side of the name David Hunter McAlpin (where the blue arrow is pointing), you can see that you can click left to see DNA matches who descend from brother Edwin A. and click right to see DNA matches who descend from David H. Jr., whose descendants are shown in the first screenshot.

Near the top of these screenshots, you'll see that you can select "Relationships" or "List." For this many matches, I might have an easier time seeing them all by clicking on "List."

It is very important to note that Ancestry states: "ThruLines uses Ancestry trees to suggest that you may be related to 13 DNA matches through James McAlpin." (Emphasis added.) As I initially stated, these suggested relationships come from family trees that other Ancestry users have created and there very well could be errors in those trees.

Remember that DNA is only one tool, one piece of evidence to use to determine a relationship. You need to look at all the other evidence available to come to a conclusion about a common ancestor.

These are cousins I had already identified before AncestryDNA came out with ThruLines, but as more people test and link their DNA to their trees, however small they may be, the more this can help genealogists by providing clues to future research. Knowing how these DNA matches are related to me help me figure out how other DNA matches are related to me.

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