Category Archives: How To

23andMe Maps

Honestly, I don’t hang out in the DNA testing sites as much as you might think. And when I do go to a site, I usually have a purpose, so I don’t try out new stuff that often. 23andMe has a new feature I just noticed a couple of days ago called MAPS. It is located in the DNA Relatives section, under either Ancestry or Family & Friends. Today it is highlighted in bright orange. I wasn’t expecting much as Maps at other sites are usually pretty boring. But I needed to try it.

When you see a match, you can click on it and it shows you the person’s name, relationship and city. Clicking on that display links to the DNA Comparison section with you and that person compared, which includes the segment comparison. It is slick indeed.

The MAP covers the world, wherever 23andMe has customers. I saw a few matches in Northern Europe, cool. Perhaps they can help me with some brick walls.

I decided to look around my local area, the Monterey County section, where much to my amazement, there are two 4th cousins showing! I was flabbergasted. Neither surname is known to me. But they are real 23andMe customers who are related to me somehow and they live just down the road. I am going to have to contact them.

Of course, my first email has to be gentle. I don’t want them to think I am stalking them! I need to locate some of those “recommended introductory” email examples that are floating around. I might even invite them to come to the FHC to meet me!

Then I stopped to think: “Could they see me all this time and have never contacted me?” Humm. Remember, I don’t know how long the MAP feature has been around. That thought led me to wonder about my own personal Profile in 23andMe. The current City was showing for people in my MAP, so that meant the Profile had to allow current location to be visible to everyone. Humm again. I had setup my profile so long ago that I couldn’t remember what it said. So I decided to check it, because I want my relatives to be able to find me!

I went to Settings under my name, clicked Edit under Personal Information and found Current Residence. It was blank! Darn…. I quickly changed it and am now waiting for someone to find me!

My recommendation to you, if you are a 23andMe customer, is to try the MAP. Look around, look where you were born, look where you live now, etc.. Then, if you like what you see, check your Profile too. Make sure you have Sharing allowed and Current Residence filled in. And then send your own “recommended introductory” emails.

And if you get an introductory email from a cousin, answer it!

”Artificial Intelligence is the New Electricity.” – Andrew Ng ==> then plug me in

Ancestry . com Shaky Leaf Algorithm & the Suffix – reply

So my question for the group is: Is the name Suffix used by for anything? I can’t find where the Shaky Leaf or Manual Searching are documented.

A reply came in yesterday from Dayna Jacobs @ “On Granny’s Trail” which I feel is important enough to share in a separate post so Followers see it.

I attended a class given by Crista Cowan a couple of weeks ago. She is the one known as the “Barefoot Genealogist” and is employed by Ancestry to represent them and get people interested in their product. Anyway, she was teaching us how to use Ancestry DNA and she showed us how she uses the suffix field to identify her ancestral lines after finding cousin matches on Ancestry DNA. She uses a colored heart icon in the suffix field. She has eight colors, representing each of her great-grandparent lines. She did not mention any possible problems with the shaky leaf hints resulting from this, and I am assuming it is not a factor since she is the Ancestry guru and pretty much knows everything about it.

This is another interesting way to document DNA findings in your Ancestry . com tree. Thanks, Dayna

Ancestry . com Shaky Leaf Algorithm & the Suffix

In can we use the name suffix to display DNA haplogroup values (like for Y-DNA or Mitochondrial) without upsetting the Shaky Leaf or Manual Searching software?
Is the name Suffix used by for anything?

A member of our DNA Interest Group told me how she displays haplogroups for people in her tree at ==> she puts the haplogroup code into the suffix of the person’s name!

You know, the suffix is where things like Jr. or Sr. or Dr. are put. Instead of something like George Robeson, Jr. she would have George Robeson, I1a-A13294.

You can always document the “suffix” elsewhere as alternate names.

Given how Y-DNA and Mitochondrial DNA is inherited, I could see how this would add value to the tree when displayed. It is easier to see the person’s code than putting it into the NOTE field or the DNA Marker. (She suggested that perhaps this was used in her private trees, not certain here.)

But, I have to admit that it makes me nervous to do this. The reason is that I do not know if Ancestry uses the suffix in their Shaky Leaf or Searching algorithms. The Hint feature in Ancestry, called the Shaky Leaf, is one of the most powerful tools within Ancestry. The computer is constantly look for “source” records for your people. And “source” records are most important for proof and validation that your person is legitimate.  Sure, sometimes the system gets it wrong, but hey, it has found lots of good things for me, and I would hate to break the Hint functionality.

So my question for the group is: Is the name Suffix used by for anything? I can’t find where the Shaky Leaf or Manual Searching are documented. Does anyone know? If you do know, for sure, please contact me, and I will update this post. Thanks

Laminated DNA Cards

My office had a small laminating machine to create protected sheets of instructions, always 8 1/2 x 11 sheets.  Then I turned 65 and got into Medicare. The ID card they provide is paper, yuk. Flimsy is the word. Staples sells small packets of 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 laminating paper that can, with just a bit of shaving, “cover” Medicare cards perfectly. My Medicare card has been safe in my wallet ever since.

One day I realized I could type up my car’s specs, VIN, license plate, color, etc. and make a credit card sized laminated copy of it which I also carry in my wallet. It is useful when the motel wants to know my license plate #!

Once in a while, perhaps at our DNA sig meetings, I get asked about my haplogroup codes. There was the time someone wanted to see if we were related in Gedmatch and I could not remember my kit #. You could see the light bulb flash…

Yup, I created a laminated card of my DNA test data (haplogroups, FTDNA kit #s, Gedmatch kit #s, YFull ID), with my wife’s data on the other side, which I now carry in my wallet. Go ahead, ask me about my Y-Dna terminating SNP —- I am ready for you. 🙂

”The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” – Jim Barksdale

Marking DNA in Ancestry . com Trees

It has been suggested that humans are only capable of having 150 good friends at a time, see Dunbar’s Number. My AncestryDNA page tells me that I have over 669 4th cousins or less who have tested with Ancestry! How am I possibly going to become BFF with that many people?

“Finding the correct ancestral line for each piece of your DNA is a difficult process. Researching and documenting your family Tree is a difficult process. But these are the tasks we accept in genetic genealogy.” by Jim Bartlett

But that doesn’t mean that I will remember a 3rd or 4th cousin who lives in a distant state who I’ve never met with whom we solved our MRCA after a few emails. Even if the aging process was not at work, 150 does seem to be my limit. (Besides, I picked up new friends when joining MoCoGenSo so some old ones got booted!)

I hate to research lines previously solved. So I have taken to flagging cousins I place in my tree via a DNA match with pictures and text, similar to pebbles left by Hansel and Gretel. I want these pebbles to be visible and permanent in that they can be transferred by gedcom or syncable by software, not like breadcrumbs that are easily lost. Documentation that I can actually find later is critical.

For DNA confirmed Cousins

In the Profile of the person:

• Click into Gallery section and upload an icon similar to this. Then click into the Face display and make that icon default picture. 

• Click “View Notes” in upper menu bar beneath name. Create a note similar to this:
DNA match to Jim 189 cm / 9 segs

• In the Fact display, click on “Add” to add a Fact or Event. Scroll into the Event Type list to the DNA Markers item and click it. Ignore Date and location. Update the Description field with the same line as above Note.

When a Gedcom is downloaded from Ancestry, the Note will come across as type NOTE, the Marker will come across as type _DNA. Only the Note will be transferred when synching with RootsMagic, as the DNA Marker is not yet added to the Ancestry API. RootsMagic does pull the images. (Most programs will ignore the _DNA type gedcom record too. But I keep using it in case they ever do update the Gedcom standard!)

For Ancestors

For ancestors who are MRCA confirmed by DNA, click into Gallery section and upload an icon similar to this. Then click into the Face display and make that icon the default picture.

Note: for persons for whom we have a real face photo, always use it instead of these “marker” icons.
Note note: These are just personal views. Icons not required! But Notes are good. 🙂

“Have a healthy disregard for the impossible.” – Larry Page

Dates in FamilySearch

A new FamilySearch tool personalizes dates in history for you. The Calendar of Ancestral Moments lets you see what important events happened in your family history on particular calendar dates.

To get started, simply visit, and log in to your FamilySearch Account. Your ancestor calendar should appear. Starting at the beginning of the year, the calendar finds events from your ancestors’ lives for each calendar date.

This is kinda fun! There is also a downloadable one-year calendar. It is loaded with “adverts”, but a good PDF editor could fix that issue.

You can also link to FaceBook Messenger, but I am not interested in that. The system can send daily notes to the Messenger app. For more information, go to the FamilySearch blog:

Another way to get dates out of a Gedcom of your tree is to use the program Oxy-Gen. This program is totally free. It is also sorta primitive. But, it is great in that it does not get “installed” into your Windows system. The software comes in a ZIP file and you just unzip it! Then find the EXE file and run it! Just be careful where you unzip it as it creates a few sub-folders.

You feed the program a Gedcom and have it create a CSV file. Then open the CSV in Excel or LibreOffice. The program can output into many other file formats, but I am interested in CSV so I can create a list of dated events, like birth dates.

Find the program here for the English page. Or search for “oxy-gen gedcom”. Or come to the Monterey FHC on Friday mornings with your Gedcom and I will run it for you! 🙂

>“How can you think and hit at the same time?” – Yogi Berra

Noting DNA in Family Search Tree

Remembering that the FamilySearch tree is a “one-world tree”, it wouldn’t be possible to record cousin autosomal relationships, as there would be too many for everyone. And most autosomal matches are living people anyway.  But, the haplogroups for Y-DNA and MITOCHONDRIAL DNA should remain fixed for given individuals.  In fact, knowing the haplogroup values for people is one way of disproving possible relationships.  (It can’t prove them.)

To record a given haplogroup, create a “Custom Fact” under “Other Information” for your given ancestors.  Custom Facts are viewable by all.  For the Title, make it “DNA Values”, in the Description field put the actual haplogroup code, and in the “Reason This is Correct” field, put who the haplogroup belongs to with the testing company.

Similar to this:

I think it would be reasonable to record haplogroups for one’s direct paternal and maternal ancestors out to the point where a given autosomal match has shown the ancestor to be a MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor).  Going beyond that ancestor is not verifiable without the given autosomal sourced trail.

The above comments are my personal opinions .