Being in Clark’s Circle Doesn’t Make it 100% True

AncestryDNA has increased my “circles” to 19. The new one is for Clark Sargent.

A few things to remember about how one gets in the circle:

  • you have an online tree at AncestryDNA that is tied to your DNA results
  • you are a match to at least one other person in the circle
  • you and the other people in the circle are a DNA match for each other at AncestryDNA

The circles are a means to help you connect with other DNA matches who share names in their tree. The intent is to make connecting with others easier and more automated. Whether that automation is a good thing or not is a separate issue.

It’s worth remembering how you get into the circle:

  • you share DNA and you have the same name in your tree

It does not mean that your tree is correct. It’s not hard proof of a relationship. It does not confirm that you were right in assuming that someone is your ancestor. You still need to do the work.

The circle for Clark Sargent (who died in Winnebago County, Illinois, in the 1840s–date unknown despite what the compilation for him at AncestryDNA says) contains three clusters:

  • the Ida Mae Sargent Family Group–which includes two descendants of Ida Mae Sargent (1874-1939), her grandson and a great-grandson (me) [note: the grandson in the Ida Mae Sargent Group is not my father]. Ida is a granddaughter of Clark Sargent.
  • a descendant of Emmar Sargent–daughter of Clark.
  • a descendant of Lucretia Sargent–another daughter of Clark.

Let’s think about how we get in this circle. We have Clark Sargent’s name in our tree and we share DNA–well kind of. All of us in the circle do not share DNA.

  • those of us in the Ida Mae Sargent Family Group share significant DNA with the descendant of Emmar Sargent
  • the descendant of Emmar Sargent and the descendant of Lucretia Sargent share DNA

We all have Clark Sargent in our tree. That’s how we get in the circle.

There is a lot of solid evidence that Emmar, Lucretia, and Ida Mae’s father (Ira) are all siblings and the children of Clark Sargent. But let’s think for just a second about what could be a possible scenario–especially if research on the family were incomplete or records were inconclusive.

It could be that Emmar, Lucretia, and Ira were siblings (maybe even half siblings), but Clark wasn’t really their father.  The shared DNA suggests a relationship among these three individuals (which is good in situations where a person is not certain that deceased individuals were actually related), but it doesn’t prove that Clark was their father. We could all have put him in our tree–even if we were wrong.

The circles is meant to help with finding others with whom the researcher has a connection. It is still up to the researcher to work through all the records–not just the DNA match–in order to document and substantiate that relationship.



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