Another Confusing Set of Shared DNA Matches

ThruLines at AncestryDNA helped me find another descendant of my ancestors William and Rebecca (Tinsley) Newman who has also taken a DNA test and who also has his tree tied to his DNA results. The Newmans were Kentucky natives who married in Rush County, Indiana, in 1839, and eventually died in Missouri in the 1880s. Several of their children settled in southern Hancock County, Illinois, including my great-great-grandmother, Nancy (Newman) Rampley and William Newman (3rd great-grandfather of my DNA match).

This match and I shared 17.8 cM of DNA. We’re actually third cousins once removed given our genealogical relationship. AncestryDNA predicted us at between 3rd and 5th cousins. That’s a reasonable estimate based on the shared DNA. That’s not the problem.

The 11 shared matches we had confused me. At least initially. We’ll call this match BB.

Our genealogical connection is through my paternal grandfather’s mother’s family. That was easy to discern when looking at BB’s tree. Then I went to the shared matches I had with BB. I was somewhat excited as I don’t have too many other descendants of William and Rebecca who have tested.

The shared matches I have with BB are displayed at AncestryDNA based on how much DNA they share with me. The ranking has nothing to do with the strength of the connection they have with me and BB. I need to remember that.

My first shared match, PG, was a first cousin of my mother and not my Dad. The second shared match, T89, is a daughter of PG and my own second cousin. After an eye roll of confusion, I realized that other matches in the list were relatives of my great-grandfather Neill, the son of Irish immigrants, who was not biologically connected to the Newmans.

As some are inclined to say, my results were a “hot mess.”

I was really confused and it was time to step back and think.

PG and T89 are not the only descendant of Mimka and Tjode Habben to have had their DNA tested at Ancestry. PG is their granddaughter. Another granddaughter of Mimka and Tjode have tested and she is not a shared match with BB. In looking at my other shared matches relatively quickly, I noticed that there were no other matches with BB that matched any other relatives on the Habben side of my family. It wasn’t just the one other granddaughter of Mimka and Tjode who didn’t appear. There are other descendants of Mimka’s parents and grandparents who have tested. There are other descendants of Tjode’s parents and grandparents who have tested. Not one of them appeared on my list of shared matches with BB.

Then I looked at BB’s tree. BB has ancestors in southern Hancock and northern Adams Counties in Illinois–as do I. In looking at his tree, I noticed the last name of Tout in his tree from Lima, Adams County, Illinois. I commented to myself “probably related to Uncle Lyman.” His last name was Tout. He was from Lima.

Then it hit me. That’s probably why PG and T89 were a shared match I had with BB and why no other relatives on my maternal side matched BB.  PG and T89 are descendants of that Habben-Tout marriage.

The confusion was not over. I noticed several matches shared with BB who were known descendants of my Neill immigrants. That family and the Newmans (my actual connection to BB) share no common heritage (the Neills were 19th century Irish immigrants and the Newman family’s Southern American ancestry can be traced to at least the late 1600s). That’s too far back for the autosomal test at AncestryDNA to share matches. And, like with the Habbens, it seemed like it was just a subset of my Neills who appeared on my shared matches with BB. There are at least 20 other known descendants of Samuel and Anna (or their parents) who are in my AncestryDNA matches. Three of the Neills on my shared list of matches with BB–PN, TS, and SJ–were recognized by me as descendants of Virgil Neill, a cousin of my grandfather Neill. It may have been a coincidence of inheritance, but it seemed odd that the Neills shared with BB weren’t a little more spread out through my known Neill matches.

Then I went back and looked at BB’s tree again and found the likely reason. In reviewing BB’s tree and what I knew about Virgil’s family, it turned out that Virgil’s wife was a sister of one of BB’s ancestors. That’s why those Neills were on my shared list with BB.

Then there is MPx2. That’s a match of mine I had already identified as being a descendant of my ancestors, Erasmus and Catherine (Gross) Trautvetter. Previous analysis of MPx2’s tree indicated that he was a descendant of the same Anderson family that had married into my Neill family–the same one who also appeared in BB’s tree.

Seven matches I shared with BB were shared matches because they and BB had a connection with each other that they did not share with me. They were not descendants of William and Rebecca (Tinsley) Newman–the ancestors BB and I share.

Based upon the last name of LE (omitted here for privacy), that match is likely a descendant of another son of William and Rebecca (Tinsley) Newman. Three matches have yet to be identified.

Name Shared with me Known relationship to me MRCA 
PG 372 1c1r Mimka and Tjode Habben
T89 163 2c Mimka and Tjode Habben
PN 63 3c Samuel and Annie Neill-through grandson Virgil.
CB 59 Based on shared matches—a Samuel/Annie Neill desc. probably through grandson Virgil.
TS 57 Based on shared matches—a Samuel/Annie Neill desc. probably through grandson Virgil.
JM 56
PW 36
LE 34 Last name is suggestive of being a descendant of a daughter of William/Rebecca’s son William Newman.
SJ 28 3c1r Samuel and Annie Neill—through grandson Virgil.
BS 23
MPx2 22 5c1r Erasmus and Catherine Trautvetter—Anderson descendant


Work continues on the three remaining matches. It is hoped that they are actually connected through the Newman-Tinsley family and not through the Neill-Anderson connection or the Anderson-Trautvetter connection.

There’s a few lessons and reminders here:

  • In rural areas when families lived in an area for some time, not only is it possible to be double or triple cousins with people, it is possible that Abraham and Bobbette are both related to Carlos without Abraham and Bobbette being related to each other–very possible.
  • It is important to track down as many descendants of aunts/uncles, etc. as you can in order to analyze your matches effectively.
  • Results that look confusing may be. Don’t jump to conclusions.
  • Keep track of matches that you have already determined. This saved me a great deal of time in looking at the shared matches I had in this case.
  • Be patient.



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