So you spat in the bottle and sent it off to Ancestry.com. The results give some credibility your claim that you’re part German and you rush off to buy the lederhosen or the dirndl skirt.
Well, Facebook has groups of people interested in researching aspects of their family history using a DNA analysis tool called Matchbox. Matchbox makes it possible to contact other researchers interested in overlapping ancestral lines. Join the right group and you might be able to contact someone who shares DNA with you who is also trying to find out about your fifth great-grandfather, for example.
Using these groups you can focus your DNA research more carefully, because you can collaborate with cousins who believe they have links to a particular geographic area, surname or some other commonality.
I found fifteen such groups that I’m interested in.
Group and Number of members as at 27 September 2019
- Australia DNA Matching 427
- British Gedmatch DNA Group 3288
- Cornish Emigrants – GEDmatch Ancestor Project 235
- Devon Ancestry Gedmatch Project 178
- Devon and Cornwall DNA Genealogy 336
- Germany DNA Project (incl. all German language areas: Austria, Poland etc.) 1907
- Irish Australian DNA Matchfinder 199
- New England DNA /Gedmatch Project 271
- Scottish DNA – Our DNA and Genealogy 331
- Scottish DNA (Matchbox Tool) 3276
- Staffordshire Shropshire & Derbyshire Counties DNA Matchfinder 179
- Sullivan/O’Sullivan Dna & Genealogy 1631
- The Irish DNA Registry 8461
- THE SCOTTISH SURNAME REGISTRY Plus the New DNA Family Finder Database 6291
- Victorian Gold Rush – GEDmatch Ancestor Project 81
Some are big, with over 8000 members. Some are small, with less than 100. There were several Scottish groups and several Devon groups. However, group membership did not seem to overlap to any great extent. For example each of the Scottish groups produced different matches.
Running the matchbox tool is quite straightforward. You take your Ancestry DNA result (or result from another company) and upload it to GEDMatch. You receive a GEDMatch kit number. Then, when you ask to join the Facebook group, you give the kit number. It’s added to a database of members. The Matchbox tool looks at the database of members and GEDMatch and produces a report of those people in the group with whom you share DNA. (Different groups have slightly different reports.)
Each of the groups have instructions for how to add your GEDMatch number and how to link to the Matchbox tool. When you click on the link for the tool You will be invited to make a copy of the appropriate spreadsheet to run the tool.
The instructions for running the tool are on the first sheet of the spreadsheet. If you are not certain your GEDMatch kit is in the database you can click on the second tab at the bottom and check.
Next you need to log on to GEDMatch. On your home screen click on your kit number. A one-to-many results page will come up. (Note later we will come back to this Home page to run the report for “People who match both, or 1 of 2 kits” indicated by the green arrow on the lower right hand side of the screen.
The GEDMatch One to Many Report contains 3000 matches, one line per match. You need to click Ctrl A (Cmd A for a Mac), followed by Ctrl C to copy the whole GedMatch screen.You then go back to your copy of the Matchbox spreadsheet on the first sheet, do not click anywhere – just paste by pressing Ctrl V (or Cmd V). The macros on the spreadsheet work away to combine details in the group database with your DNA matches identified in GEDMatch.
A new tab called Matches will open automatically. You will be able to see your matches in the group and using the Facebook name then tag your matches to start a conversation. Often you are encouraged to post a screenshot of your match results and tag your matches.
What do I do with my matches when I’ve found them?
To see how I connect with a match, I first find the match in the one-to-many list on GEDMatch, finding a kit number by using Ctrl + F.
If you click on the underlined A beside the kit number you’ll bring up the GEDMatch One-to-one Autosomal Comparison Entry Form. I usually view by position only.
I change the selection to “position only” to run this report but do not change the other default settings
I am interested in the chromosome that I share with the match and the position of the segment on that chromosome.
Then I check my chromosome map on DNAPainter to see if I have already mapped this area to an ancestor. In this case I have mapped both maternal and paternal segments, but only to the great-grandparent level using matches with my father’s paternal cousin and a maternal cousin one times removed, known as FS. My father’s paternal cousin is not on GedMatch but FS, the maternal cousin, is. If it is a maternal match I am hoping she will show up as a shared match when I run the GEDMatch tool called people-who-match-both-kits, or-1-of-2-kits (see the link on the GEDMatch home page highlighted by the green arrow in the screenshot above).
Part of the DNA Painter profile showing the relevant chromosome
Again I don’t change the defaults when I run this report
Cousin FS did indeed show up among the 33 matches. 33 matches is a lot but still probably genealogically significant. I conclude that the match I identify as JW and found through the Scottish DNA (Matchbox Tool) matches my father’s mother’s ancestry.
Since discovering each other through the Matchbox tool JW and I have started to correspond and we have exchanged AncestryDNA ids. I found the match on the Ancestry.com DNA database. JW has an excellent tree and there are lots of surnames highlighted in green on her tree, showing surnames that we have in common.
As well as looking at the tree I am interested in looking at shared matches.
Scrolling down our DNA match page I can see that we share five surnames appearing in both our trees: Bain (7 people), Budge (8 people), Gunn (7 people), Miller (12 people), and Murray (5 people).
From place of birth information I can see that both trees have ancestors born in Caithness. Filtering by tree, JW’s tree is predominantly Scottish whereas my father’s tree is all over the UK and into France.
Looking at shared matches, JW does not show up as a shared match of my cousin FS, but does show up as a shared match of CW, a 2nd cousin of my father, who descends from James Francis Cudmore (1837 – 1912) and Margaret Cudmore nee Budge (1845 – 1912). Margaret was born in Wick, Caithness, and her forebears include Budge, Gunn, Bain.
There are 2 other shared matches with JW on Ancestry. MEB shares 26 cM, has an unlinked tree and I had already noted “Cudmore Gunn Budge connection based on shared matches”. OM shares 21 cM and has no tree.
MEB’s trees are too small for me to make any links. Looking at her shared matches, she shares DNA with EB, a second cousin once removed who is also descended from JF Cudmore and Margaret Cudmore nee Budge.
OM shares DNA with my father and SB who have a ThruLine connection *LINK* showing 4th cousinship and common ancestry through Donald Gunn and Alexandrina Manson. OM also shares DNA with another match, GS. GS has no tree but shares DNA with my father and EB and also with SB.
A possible link that JW pointed out is her “4th grt grandparents, William Budge b.~1731, Wick married Charlotte Bain b. 7/11/1736, Keiss. Their son, William Budge b.~1772, Keiss married Isabella Manson b. 20/7/1775, Freswick, Canisbay, daughter of John Manson b.10/11/1750, Canisbay and Jean Bain b~1750. “
I noticed JW’s tree includes a Donald Budge born 1765 son of William Budge and Charlotte Bain, JW’s 4th great grandparents. This could quite possibly be the Donald Budge mentioned as the father of Kenneth Budge, my father’s great great grandfather, who died at sea in August 1852 and was reported to be the “son of the late Mr Donald Budge, shipmaster, Wick.”
from JW’s tree – perhaps Donald Budge born 1765 is the forebear I am looking for
There is more research to do before we decide that this is indeed the DNA connection. JW shares many surnames in common and we need some documentary evidence to link Donald Budge in JW’s tree to Donald Budge, father of Kenneth in my tree.
If JW and my father share 4th great grandparents this means they would be 5th cousins. JW and my father share 26.9 centimorgans according to GEDMatch and 13 centimorgans according to Ancestry; both amounts fit well within the expected range for 5th cousins.
The Shared cM Project tool accessed through DNAPainter.com
Finding genetic cousins through Facebook groups gives one a chance to connect with cousins who not only share DNA but also share your enthusiasm for tracking down how you are related. It gives one a chance to extend the tree and learn something about more distant forebears.
Me in a dirndl a few decades ago before I discovered genetic genealogy