I recently took time on Ancestry.com to sift through my DNA matches. Ancestry keeps improving their DNA technology and reporting but I hadn’t delved into my matches so deeply before.  I really didn’t think it helped my genealogical work but I have found one value and investigating these matches can actually provide help in tracing one’s family.

First of all, my DNS results did find me second and third cousins that I didn’t know existed. I have added to and refined bits of my Wilson Family Project based on information from those and even more distantly related cousins. That’s one advantage to Ancestry’s DNA matching.

Since I have one family line that is based in Maine and New England and all the rest are southern, I am able to classify my matches based on that most of the time. That’s still not very satisfying though.

After my husband’s DNA test, I realized something that I had not put into play in my own tree. Most of his family lines have been thoroughly documented by many ancestry members and I did trace most of those families back to Europe easily (not verifiably, just an exercise, not a documented tree). He had considerably more matches with hints than I did. In other words, he has more matching trees in his DNA results.

That did not sit well with me. After all, I’ve put hundreds of hours into this Wilson Family Project. One thing I hadn’t done, though, was track back other lines and many maternal lines on the Wilson side.  This was one of the reasons why my husband had more hint matches than I. So I went back and spent a weekend tracking more lines back to Europe. That expanded my matches.

Then as I worked more with the matches, I found matches by searching for names. One of my lines is the Elam family. Elam is not a common name and by george they are all distantly related to me! The Elams only have one American entry – Virginia, 1936. All Elams in the US (and there are a lot of them!) tend to be descendants of that family.  So that gave me the ability to discern who was an Elam match even if we don’t have matching trees.

Trying that out on smaller branches wasn’t as successful. Vance is also not a common name but my branch of Vances is small. I did find one probably Vance match out of the 2500 or so matches. (oh, and hubby has 7200 plus!). And of course, trying that with the common Wilson name was just not doable.

I hadn’t played with the distant cousin matches because of the declining confidence rating. Why bother when it might be a false match, I thought. Oh, I was so wrong.

By adding more tracking back in my tree I ended up being able to identify a match back to our 10th great-grandparents, Thomas Prence and Patience Brewster. I’m waiting for the next further back match now that I see how far back the DNA matches can take you in a tree.

The best part of this particular match? DNA proof that my Wilson line is descended from William  Brewster and his daughter Patience of the Mayflower! As this writing we have not been able to provide the Mayflower Society of documented lineage proof for membership. But we now have DNA validation of our line.

A most satisfying stepping stone provided from just sifting through the DNA matching on Ancestry.com.