ThruLines is not “Proof”

ThruLines left out a generation on my relative’s relationship to me.

DNA does not lie.

Other records are open to debate.

I see postings online where individuals refer to ThruLines as “proof.” No. That is not what ThruLines is. It is a way to help those who use AncestryDNA to analyze their results faster since it shows the probable connection to a DNA match using user-submitted trees that have been algorithimically stitched together. The genealogical connection suggested is merely that: a suggestion.

One more time: the genealogical connection is a suggestion.

I’ve privatized this screenshot, but the DNA connection referred to as “DT” is someone who I was aware of before I saw him on my list of DNA matches. George H. Trautvetter (died in 1944–a date that is well-established) is his grandfather. DT was born in the 1950s. He’s not my second twice removed. He’s my third cousin once removed.

The amount of shared autosomal DNA (which is what AncestryDNA measures) is consistent with that relationship–actually it’s consistent with both relationships. But the amount of shared autosomal DNA between two individuals at this distant of a relationship cannot be used to predict that relationship exactly.

The DNA shows there is a relationship.

The genealogical research will need to confirm what that is.

ThruLines gives the researcher a clue as to the genealogical relationship. It does “prove” the specific relationship. That proof comes from actual genealogical research.

Not from an automatic tree generated from a tree compiled from user-submitted family trees.

That’s not how research works.


A Wish for FindAGrave

Instead of death certificates, obituaries, links to relatives, and other information in the “memorial” on FindAGrave, I would rather see links to adjacent stones or information on which stones are in close proximity to the stone for which the memorial was created.

That would be helpful and that would information that would be really lost when the stones are no longer extant.


The 1811 Murder of an Enslaved Woman: An Update

We’ve made some headway on the identity of the man with the last name of Sledd who murdered an enslaved woman in the general area of Bedford County, Virginia, in 1811. As mentioned in other posts my discovery of the case was made because an individual from the Sledd family was involved in it. While the case is interesting from a historical standpoint, I was not searching it out when it was discovered.

The woman who was murdered was named Lucy.

The research is not complete as there are at least two court cases that resulted after the 1811 murder. Access to one of those case files (the actual murder trial) is temporarily delayed as the records are currently being digitized by the Library of Virginia. The second court case that resulted from the murder was actually a civil case where the estate of the original enslaver was suing to recoup financial losses resulting from the murder. That case has been viewed and copied and is being analyzed. We now know the names of more parties involved, including Lucy who was the victim in the 1811 murder. Her two children are mentioned in that second case, but so far their names have not been specifically given.

The case made national headlines at the time.

Stay tuned!


Barking Up the Wrong Tree

The name was Barksdale Sledd.

Unique first names are great as they help distinguish the individual in records and make identification easier–usually. One should not assume that there are no contemporaries with the exact same unusual name as often names of this type are passed down from one generation to the other.

Unusual first names should be analyzed for clues as they may actually reference maiden names of ancestors, surnames of ancestral associates, surnames of political or pop figures revered by the family, references to geographic locations, etc.

Unusual first names also get butchered by record clerks, census takers, and other officials. Genealogists should always be considerate of alternate spellings and remember that any name that falls within the reasonable realm of “sounds like the name I want” could actually be a reference to the name that you want.

Barksdale gets written as “Basdel” and other references without the “r” and the “k.” Those references are actually good clues as to how the name was likely pronounced.

It’s better than looking for John Sledd because there are entirely too many of those already.


1831 Ohio Tax Headings

The image is of an 1831 tax list for Jackson Township, Coshocton County, Ohio. I’m working on creating a list of just what all the columns are for.

This set of “answers” will be updated as needed. Feel free to post comments.

  • 1-Owner Name
  • 2-R[ange]
  • 3-T[ownship]
  • 4-
  • 5-
  • 6- portion of section/lot?
  • 7-No. of Acres
  • 8-Value
  • 9-dollars
  • 10-cents
  • 11-
  • 12-dollars
  • 13-cents
  • 14-
  • 15-dollars
  • 16-cents
  • 17-
  • 18-dollars
  • 19-cents
  • 20-
  • 21-dollars
  • 23-cents
  • 24-
  • 25-dollars
  • 26-cents
  • 27-No. of Horses
  • 28-Value
  • 29-No. of Cattle
  • 30-Value
  • 31-
  • 32-Dollars
  • 33-Cents
  • 34-
  • 35-Dollars
  • 36-Cents
  • 37-
  • 38-Dollars
  • 39-Cents
  • 40
  • 41-Dollars
  • 42-Cents
  • 43-
  • 44-Dollars
  • 45-Cents
  • 46-
  • 47-Dollars
  • 48-Cents
  • 49-
  • 50-
  • 51-
  • 52-
  • A-
  • B-Co[unty] Tax
  • C-School
  • D-
  • E-
  • F-Total Land Tax
  • G-
  • H-Co[unty] Tax
  • I-
  • J-
  • K-Total Chatt[el] Tax
  • L-Grand Total Tax
  • M-

Searching for those Terms that Are Not Human Names

There are a variety of things one can search for in newspapers besides the names of ancestors and relatives.

If your ancestor had a street address consider searching old newspapers for that address trying “123 Lacon Street,” “123 Lacon St.,” etc. It is probably best to put the address in quotation marks and to keep track of the options that have been searched for.

Another option is to search for military units long after your ancestor served in them. It’s possible they attended a military reunion decades after they saw active service.


Update to “A Shared DNA & ThruLines Question”

This post is a followup post to “A Shared DNA & Thrulines Question” that was posted in 2019. The question asked at the end of that post was “does a shared DNA connection between the descendants of four individuals who are thought to be siblings prove that they are siblings or could they have another biological relationship?”

It’s important to remember that autosomal DNA testing is about probabilities in terms of relationships, especially when those relationships are more distant than first cousins and only a handful of individuals have tested or are matches.

What does ThruLines provide evidence of? How specific is the genealogical relationship–particularly once it starts to get more distant? I’d proffer that the shared DNA is evidence of a relationship (of course it is), but it’s not always a predictor of the specific relationship–not matter what ThruLines says. Other records need to be utilized to assist in the confirmation of the specific nature of that relationship.

Remember: ThruLines is based upon user-submitted trees which can easily contain slight errors in relationships. It may be that the “earliest group of individuals” with the same surname in an area are not siblings as some may think but instead are a group of individuals who are slightly more distantly related. The DNA may be consistent with other scenarios not produced through the ThruLines–because ThruLines is based upon compiled trees and shared DNA.

The Kiles in the illustration are thought by many researchers to be siblings. Perhaps they are and perhaps they aren’t. This post isn’t about what their relationship actually is. It’s about what the relationships could be based on the shared DNA. Note: This family is used as an illustrative example of what could be and to make the point that DNA alone does not always prove a sibling relationship–particularly at the genealogical distance in this example.

Does ThruLines “prove the sibling relationship?

Various online trees and a few other print materials suggest that the William Kile, Hugh Kyle, James R. Kile, and Matilda Kile are siblings. ThruLines indicated that there were three matches to the DNA test I submitted that were descendants of these Kile family members.

But does the DNA evidence prove that the four Kiles are siblings? Is it possible that they are more distantly related? They would not be the first set of individuals who were thought to be siblings that were actually first cousins, two sets of siblings whose fathers were brothers, second cousins, etc. There could even be an aunt or uncle thrown in the mix–just to confuse descendants two hundred years later.

What if William, Hugh, James R., and Matilda were actually all first cousins? What if they were second cousins, how would that change the DNA shared a between the testee and these three DNA matches who also had a Kile ancestor?

The answer is not much.

It should noted that expected amount of shared DNA at this distant of a relationship can vary widely. That’s largely why the exact nature of the relationships cannot be predicted precisely.

The testee shared DNA with three other AncestryDNA testers whose trees indicated they were Kile descendants, GM, TO, and GV.

For those who are somewhat new to autosomal DNA testing, the number of shared centimorgans of DNA (cM) allows for the prediction of the likely relationship between two individuals who have submitted to a DNA test. While it’s true that one gets “one-half” of their DNA from each parent, there is no guarantee that an individual has exactly one-fourth of their DNA from each grandparent or has one-eighth of their DNA from each great-grandparent–and so on further back up the genealogical tree.

GM shared 7 cM of DNA with the testee. The ThruLines relationship was that the two were 6th cousins. Using the Shared CM Project Version 4.0, the average amount shared cM is 18 with a low of 0 and a high of 71. 7 cM is in the range, but there’s a “but.” If the earliest Kile ancestors were first cousins instead of siblings (making the testee and the match 7th cousins), the expected shared level of cM would be 14 with a low of 0 and a high of 57. If the earliest Kile ancestors were second cousins instead of siblings, the testee and the shared match would be expected to share an average of 11 cM with a low of 0 and a high of 42. Looking at the numbers, GM and the testee could easily be 6th, 7th or 8th cousins. And again, at this level, the amount of shared DNA can vary quite a bit.

The same concept applies to match TO and GV if the earliest Kile ancestor is not a sibling, but is a first cousin or a second cousin. The shared DNA is consistent with those more distant relationships.

The end result: the DNA matches to these other Kile descendants are evidence that there is probably a relationship between their Kile ancestors–but it’s not 100% solid proof that the earliest set of names as discussed earlier are siblings.

But other contemporary records are going to have to be used to determine whether the earliest Kiles are siblings, cousins, or something slightly different from that.


Any Source in a Genealogical Storm?

I use the online trees for the occasional clue when I am stuck as occasionally a tree compiler has stumbled upon a connection or a source that has eluded me. Those times are few and far between and are usually when I am really stuck.

And often when I am really, really stuck there’s not much in the online trees to actually help me because others are stuck on the exact same problem as well. But occasionally, for one reason or another, I have overlooked something or not located something because the information I have to work with is minimal, has key elements missing, or has an egregious spelling error that I think is correct.

But if the only source for a genealogical statement that A is the mother of B is an unsourced online tree, I’m not going to include that statement in my genealogical records. If there is no way I can evaluate the reliability of the statement, I’m not going to include it.

It doesn’t matter if I can cite it or not.

Others may disagree about including such information. But if I can’t tell who compiled it or where they got it and there is no way to evaluate it, I’m not going to include it in any compilation.


Initial Thoughts on FamilySearch’s “New York Land Records 1630-1975”

FamilySearch recently released “United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975” on their website. While I appreciate greatly the free nature of this database, there are some frustrations with it.

The two main groups of individuals on land records are the grantors and the grantees. It would have been preferable if the database could be searched in this matter. I do realize that FamilySearch wanted to make this database searchable with the same interface as the other databases it has on the site. The workaround is to search as shown in the illustration, using the “Deceased Ancestor’s Information” last name box and the last name box for the “other person.”

Wildcards and “exact matches” only options can be used. As with any database, keep track of how searches are conducted to reduce the chance the same search is performed needlessly.

One needs to watch the “Event Type” for these entries as well. They are not necessarily accurate. As with any record, the index entry is meant to be a means to the actual image of the record itself, not a replacement for it.

The entry for Sarah A. G. Derlett indicated that it was a “Land Assessment”as the type of record as shown below.

It’s not. It’s a reference to her name in the grantor/grantee index for Kings County, New York as shown in the image that is linked to the index entry for the “Land Assessment.”

The search results are occasionally vague, only indicating that the entry was from New York State.

Clicking on a specific entry does not even necessarily indicate the county of the record either as shown in the entry for F. C. Droletz. Because the index entry does not include the county it would likely be difficult to perform any sort of geographic search at a level smaller than the state in order to locate this record.

Again, one must view the actual image to see the county where the record was located.

It also appears that this “index” is to the grantor/grantee indexes created by the original recorder of these county records. The index entries I located all took me to the index entry. They did not take me to the actual entry in the deed book. The image that this index links to is not the end of the record–there is still the actual deed image that needs to be located.

Searching by location can be done–keep in mind these are county level records. The appropriate location needs to be put in the “Any Place” life event box. I had the best success with entering the county in the following format:

countyname, New York, United States

Not all counties are included in this index.

This database is a help, but be aware of the limitations:

  • not all counties are included
  • some items are tagged as the wrong “event”
  • the index indexes county-created indexes to these records–you will still have to search for the actual deed. Do not stop when you have the image