Category Archives: DNA

ThruLines – Practice Due Diligence!

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.

Ancestry’s Updated DNA Ethnicity Estimates

Ancestry has announced updated ethnicity estimates for those who have taken an autosomal DNA test with them.

Yes, I realize that estimates are just that, I still have to wonder why a few groups have such a startlingly wide gap in numbers.

I’ve kept track of ethnicity percentages for both my husband and myself since 2019. Neither of us has had any surprises in the family tree and I’ve documented many of our lines back into the 1600s or, in some cases, even earlier.

Take a look at my estimates:

My paternal ancestry is Rusyn – all Eastern European in today’s Slovakia – so the 3% spread from 45-48 is quite accurate.

Many of my lines are colonial New England, leading back to the British Isles, so the change from 2% in 2019 to 28% now is unexpected, as is my Germanic Europe estimates.

I have no known “German” ancestry, which is a very fluid term, but since Scandinavia is separated out, I am quite surprised to find even 12% in that category. If I combine 12% with the 10% Norway, Sweden and Denmark, I think the number is way too high. I have one great grandmother from Copenhagen, Denmark, whose grandparents were Swedish and Danish. I have no known Norwegian ancestors.

The trace amounts for the Baltics, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are to be expected, given my family tree.

My husband’s results have been more consistent, with the exception of Germanic Europe, which again I don’t understand:

The Stufflebeans, and many of the people who married into the family, have all been traced back to villages in today’s Germany AND my husband has plenty of DNA matches corroborating the paper trail.

I’m not talking about 3X or 4X or 5X great grandparents – both of his paternal grandparents are of 50% German heritage.

6% was a big surprise in 2019, but in both 2020 and 2021, Dave now shows 0% Germanic Europe ancestry. Not possible!

It’s always interesting and fun to look at DNA ethnicities, but there is a reason why they are presented as ESTIMATES.

Have you found unexpected changes in your Ancestry DNA estimates?

 

New DNA Ethnicity Estimates on Ancestry

There is much chatter this week about Ancestry’s updated DNA ethnicity results, so I decided to venture a look to see how my and my husband’s ethnicity groupings have changed.

Here are my estimates from 2019:

Here are the 2020 results:

The numbers look slightly different, but I don’t think there is a substantial change.

Eastern Europe decreased by 1%. Both my paternal grandparents are Carpatho-Rusyn from Slovakia, so 47% isn’t far off from 50.

My paper trail has identified recent ancestors (2X greats) from Denmark and southern Sweden. As my Danish family lived far north and my Swedes couldn’t be any further south unless they were in the water, AND I have mariners in the family, a mix of Norwegian is very likely.

Further back, I can account for many English ancestors, along with a few Scots and Dutch. The Irish is probably from a Scots-Irish mixture somewhere (maybe in my pesky brick wall Carlisle ancestors.)

I have to admit that my ethnicity ESTIMATES are, at this point, probably not misaligned much from my paper trail.

Here are my husband’s 2019 estimates:

And his 2020 numbers:

Dave’s estimates are, I think, off by a fair amount. That is mainly because the Stufflebean line is heavily Germanic from the Palatinate. They arrived in the colonies in 1740 and intermarried heavily with other German speaking people well into the late 1800s.

Dave only showed 6% German before and Germany has disappeared from the 2020 list. It is NOT part of England and Northwestern Europe. However, he has TONS of DNA matches with all his distant cousins on the German side of the tree.

His paper trail isn’t as well defined as mine since his ancestors preferred to live where records don’t exist. These estimates seem to better represent his mom’s side of the family. The 1% African I assume is from one of his many Southern ancestors, also more likely to be through his maternal line.

Therefore, we seem to have one report which very closely matches research while the second report seems to have lost the paternal gene results!