Ancestry’s ThruLines can be an excellent tool to provide clues about our ancestors. However, it is far from infallible and should be viewed much like any online family tree – AS A CLUE.
Here is an excellent example from my own tree. Regular readers have seen many posts about my Loyalist Robert Carlisle and his wife, Catherine (MNU) and my quest to find both her maiden name and the origins of each of their families.
In this case, DNA testing has not proven to be very useful. I was curious to see what matches, if any, ThruLines might provide for this couple.
First, I am descended twice from this couple from two daughters, Abigail and Catherine. Although Robert and Catherine are duly represented twice each in ThruLines matches, the first time they appear, there are ZERO matches to them. Why? I haven’t a clue.
The second time they appear, nine matches are attached.
Seven of these matches are directly to me and I recognize all the people as distant cousins, all connected to Abigail and Catherine’s lines.
However, and this is a HUGE however, Catherine’s purported father is shown as Lt. John STARKEY of New Hampshire.
Where do I begin with the problems posed here? Well, let’s start with the fact that there was no such person as Lt. General John R. Starkey. Someone has made this up, misrepresenting MAJOR GENERAL JOHN (no middle initial) STARK of New Hampshire, born 28 August 1728 and died 8 May 1822, in New Hampshire.
More problems will become evident in a moment.
My two other DNA matches are through descendants of Reuben and Sarah STARK.
The middle column represents Reuben; the far right, Sarah.
Next, I found that John STARK of NEW JERSEY is well represented in the DAR Patriot Index, with service verified. Many descendants of John, through son Reuben and daughter Sarah, have joined NSDAR. This John Stark was born 1 April 1733 and died 8 May 1825 in New Jersey.
This non-existent Lt. General John R. Starkey has been given the birth year of John Stark of New Jersey, but the death year of John Stark of New Hampshire.
ThruLines has gathered this information from its online trees. Tree owners have MERGED these two men into one man WHO NEVER EXISTED.
I can state with 1000% confidence that Catherine is NOT the daughter of Lt. General John R. Starkey.
What about the STARK connection?
Well, I’m not so sure about that connection, either, at least not to Catherine (MNU) Carlisle.
I clearly share a small amount of DNA with two descendants of John Stark of New Jersey, but there are a couple of curve balls here.
First, I have other ancestral lines that trace back to the area of New Jersey in which the Stark family lived – ancestral lines with quite a few people named Unknown and women (MNU). My DNA Stark connection could just as easily be through one of those other families, and I actually think that is a much more likely scenario.
Second, I have built out family trees for Reuben and Sarah Stark and cannot find a single common location or person in either tree that matches a location or person in my Carlisle family tree. Nor can I find any pre-Revolutionary War people or places in common.
Third, John Stark had a daughter, Catherine, about the same age as my Catherine (MNU) Carlisle, who married one ROBERT CARLISLE. This couple REMAINED in New Jersey and are clearly NOT my Robert and Catherine. Question – Did ThruLines find Catherine Stark and Robert Carlisle and use that discovery to link my tree to the bogus Lt. General John Starkey tree?
Fourth – and this is very concerning – Descendants of both Reuben and Sarah have online family trees, but when I clicked on EVALUATE the connections, this is what appears:
There are ZERO trees linked to DNA matches for both Reuben and Sarah Stark. How can that be when their descendants have online trees and I show up as a DNA match to them????
Notice that the evaluation boxes say Reuben and Sarah MAY BE the daughter of Lt. Gen. John R. Starkey.
MAY BE is the “buyer beware” warning in ThruLines. Unfortunately, the same people who blindly copy and paste have also accepted a bogus person (who never lived), possibly because of ThruLines matches.
I currently believe that Catherine (MNU) Carlisle has no familial ties whatsoever to this Stark family of New Jersey and that my DNA matches are likely through an as-yet-undiscovered line in my family tree.
Moral of the story: I repeat my opening mantra: Ancestry’s ThruLines can be an excellent tool to provide clues about our ancestors. However, it is far from infallible and should be viewed much like any online family tree – AS A CLUE.