I gave into temptation and downloaded the “We’re Related” app from Ancestry.com. Originally I was not even going to download it, but went ahead in the interest of keeping on top of what’s going on in the online genealogy world.

I had no interest in which “famous” person to whom I am related, but I was slightly interested to see if I was distantly related to any of my genealogy colleagues on Facebook.

As soon as I realized how the app was working, I had even less died1716-child-in-1760interest in using it. Instead of just using the ancestors and relatives I had actually placed in my tree, it “matched” names in my tree to entries for those people in the trees of others and extrapolated ancestors for me based upon the trees of others.

My lineage for Augusta Newman does not extend beyond his father. My tree goes back as far as the William Newman shown in this image. Some have put forth fathers and mothers for William, but so far I have not determined for myself who his father likely is. I certainly do not think his mother is a woman who died in 1716.

To repeat: the app did not change any of the names or information in my actual tree on the Ancestry.com website, but the names did appear in my “lineage” as shown on the cellphone app even though they aren’t in my actual online tree.



And just one more time: no.

I don’t have some information in my tree at Ancestry.com for a reason: I haven’t proven it adequately yet or it simply is entirely incorrect.

If the app had chosen to only use ancestors for me as they appear in the actual tree I have created, that would be fine. But as it stands now, I have to review the app’s lineage and compare it with the lineage I have in my database and throw out the ones that I’ve probably already thrown out countless times before.

That’s not something I should have to do.

Your mileage may vary.

Also the app so far has taken nearly two days to try and find relatives in one of my databases and is still “spinning” on that database.

The “famous relative” finder located a possible relationship to President Obama. It failed to pull up President Truman as a descendant of the same person. Oops.



71 Responses

  1. Michael, thanks for trying this out. I was leery of it changing the data in my tree, so good to know it doesn’t do that.The “Relative Finder” on FamilySearch performs in the same way as this one seems to, minus most of the “spinning” forever and with famous/notable Mormons thrown into the Famous Relatives mix. While interesting, I too would prefer to use only my data, not that of many others who might not be as careful in their research. I did find distant cousins in a German research group I belong to with the FamilySearch version, but of course our common ancestors were not our German ones so no brick walls came down as a result 🙂

    • You are welcome. The famous people I really was not interested in, although I noticed that the “famous” part found my connection to President Obama, but failed to indicate that President Truman descends from the same person. Seems odd that both connections did not come up. Their descents from a Richard Cheney of Anne Arundel County, MD are pretty solid–mine is tenuous. However, these were potential connections I was aware of before the app.

      I don’t like it “extrapolating” further back than I currently have as there’s usually a reason why I don’t have those “further back ancestors” added to my personal tree.

      • It also indicated that I could potentially be related to President Obama as well as Michelle Obama. I investigated the connections and proved them to be false. In theory this is a great app but there definitely needs to be some work done on how it pools the information. Through research I have discovered I am related to Presidents Bush as well as several other famous connections via my Mayflower ancestry although none of those connections show up interesting enough.

        • I ran mine and found a common link with Barack O’Bama, Michele Robinson O’Bama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Helen Keller. All of these I found because of We’re Related.

      • While I understand not liking the app “extrapolating” further back than what you currently have, in some instances the extrapolating can come in handy. For example: in my personal tree on Ancestry (and in FamilySearch as well), I have only managed to get as far back as a great great grandmother’s name. I do not have her exact birth information, nor when she married my great great grandfather, or either grandparent’s exact death dates. As a result, I do not have her parents’ information, or the name of any siblings. The app gave me possibilities by extrapolating names, that I otherwise would not have found for perhaps quite some time. (My gg grandparents were born and died in Canada, and their son, my great grandfather, was born in what is now South Dakota).

        Some people who have been researching her have her born in 1837, which I believe is incorrect. The reason why is she had my great grandfather in 1879, and two additional children after. At least in my family, women stopped having children in their 40’s, and if it was the man’s second marriage, at a much younger age.

  2. I think a similar “extension of pedigree” happens on MyHeritage. I thought I was going to a research site, but instead it asked me to build a family tree. There did not appear to be any other options on the page. I thought, OK, let’s see where this goes. So, I added my close relatives like parents and grandparents. It was quickly evident that they wanted to attach supposed ancestors to my tree. Whoa!! No way am I going to allow someone else’s data to be “forced” on my tree.

  3. This is a great relief to me, I also show a linkage to Obama as well as Hillary and Kerry, as a staunch Republican, I haven’t been able to sleep:) it does have a couple of a correct links, but I knew about them for quite awhile. I was going to make the link from the app to Facebook but didn’t want to force all my friends there to put up with Ancestry begging. I think I will just remove the app before it finds someone worse than I already have.

    • For me, it wasn’t really the politics of the relative that frustrated me–it was the “leaps of genealogical faith” that was frustrating 😉 Of course, I ended up with famous connections every where on the spectrum so one was bound to irritate.

    • I nearly lost my dinner that I’m a fourth cousin to Michelle Obama. 9th cousin to Michael Jackson. My husband won’t let me post it to Facebook. But I have a couple of relatively famous people in my tree historically and they don’t show up on the app.

      • LOL I post all mine to Facebook! The replies are hilarious! I posted my newest relative yesterday–Jimi Hendrix which is a hoot because I’m very white. What I do find interesting is the types of people I’m related to on my maternal side versus paternal. I have mainly singers on my mother’s side. I do get excited when I’m notified of a new relative just so I can see which side of my family it’s from. I have a variety of famous relatives on my dad’s side. Actors mainly and a few politicians. But my mom’s side and all the singers is very intriguing to me. While I’m not a professional singer, I come from a long line of people that sing either in church choirs, or are in bands, etc.
        I’m curious if any one else has seen a pattern in the types of people you are related to.

        • Yes Tracy. I see patterns in many things too…I have many singers on my mom side…U.S. President about half and half on mom and dad side…both my parents are related and many of my cousins are double and triple related to me and to their other cousins….I currently have over 41,600 DNA matches on Ancestry…and the most fun pattern so far for me is facial recognition. Using the we’re related app, I have learned to identify which side of the family the famous person is on by looking at their facial features…then I check on the app to verify that I am right….this is so much fun…

        • I got the app just to have some fun with my genealogy never seriously thinking about the results. I just posted mine on FB and can’t wait to hear the responses from family and friends!

      • I’m Michelle Obama’s 8th cousin LOL! I don’t post publicly. I am also related to Trump through my grandmother but it won’t show up for some reason.

      • Hi. We must be related as well. The app suggested the same people. Michelle Obama being my 6 th cousin and Michael Jackson my 9th. Too funny. Something’s not guite right here. How could they even get information like this from celebrities anyways? After a lot of research I don’t believe this app is accurate at all!

        • I got Michael Jackson , Curt Cobain , Winston Churchill , Carrie Fisher and my first cousin Toni! They all turned out to be right!! Took some resurch

          • Did you know that a lot of that is very possible because when people came here they were in a small area? It stands to reason that they married one another. Moochele Odumer is related to me through one of my 5th great Grandfathers daughters I believe that was what I found. I go back through my people to see if it is really right, only one has came up that I cant verify so I took it out.

        • Hello Sandy my long lost cousin (apparently)..I too am related to Michael Jackson and Kanye West…as well as Ben Franklin. My DNA shows me as 64% Scot, Irish, Welsh, a smattering of British and the rest Swiss, Swedish and Germanic (ggparents from Prussia) so this is very interesting! I’m turning in my Miley Cyrus card though…That’s just not happening!

      • I too am related to Michael and Michelle! So we are related! I, personally, have enjoyed the app. It shows lines I’ve already got more developed, and yes, that requires more research for me to verify, but, it also gives me major hints as to who these great grandparents are! I’ve used the info given to find more info and verify and so far it hasn’t been wrong.

        As far as having dates of birth that are impossible to conceive in reality, I’ve noticed that trend across the scope of Ancestry and Family Search sites. I believe the info is based on older documents that are often difficult to read, but that are the closest possibility found. Again, it is up to all of us to help verify and keep this info accurate.

        • You have several of the same people that I do. We do have some Haley’s in our family tree. Both of my parents’ families have been in the US since the 1600s and there weren’t many people here. It isn’t that much of a stretch to think of being related to tens of thousands of people.

        • according to the we’re related app i got Johnny Depp.Michelle Obama Michael Jackson Brittany Spears Miley Cyrus and Bill Clinton im.not done yet though

        • It’s a numbers thing. First, just to give you an idea, we have a potential of 128 6th great grandparents. Most of my 6th greats were living around the early 1700’s in colonial America. Some 466,185 people were living in the colonies per Wikipedia in 1720. Now if I go back in time 70 years or so, the population is 50,368 people in the “US” (colonies) in 1650. For 10th great grandparents, which would’ve been around that time, we have a possibility of 2,048 10th great grandparents. So, really, if most of your people were in colonial America that early, they would have represented approximately 1/16th of the total population. So yeah, there are going to be a ton of people related to Bill Clinton and everyone else that might have had a relative around that time and place.

          I have verified, have accurate records for and everything, all of these people: Walt Disney, John Adams I & Quincy, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, the royal Stewarts of Scotland, some monarchs I can even remember (one of the Henry’s) of the Tudors, and in and on. But we all have this really truly amazing stuff going on because we are all essentially cousins on some level or another. Granted I have a lot more in this country than I would in Asia, but really, we are all related to one degree or another.

          • Dana, I have Disney, Ben Franklin, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Michelle Obama, Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp, to name a few. I, too, have found that most of my ancestors were here in the colonies. Being 21% British, I’m not surprised if some of those are correct. Today, Winston Churchill was a hint. If even one of these is correct, I’m amazed. I only wish I could hire a professional genealogist but I’m so grateful for the births, marriages and deaths my ancestors recorded, especially in North Carolina and Virginia.

          • I have everyone on your list and then some. I verify my line but not theirs. I don’t include any of this in my trees. It has caused me to check some of work and helped me find errors I’ve made. It’s fun for my 14 yr. old granddaughter and I, and good for a lot of “yeah, right!”.

          • I believe this to be true also, I just haven’t done the research as well as you did. Thank you!
            Susan Wesley

    • I know what you mean Steve. I got a possible link to Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton. I am also a staunch Republican (Conservative), it’s very disturbing…….as also shows Eminem and Miley Cyrus…..UGH on all accounts.

  4. I have found this time and time again.l have fed in my my information and found that one has to pay up,before they reveal,details.The spelling is not remotely like the one requested.money lost.

    • Please can you tell me where you have to pay for the, to reveal details? I am in UK and seems I suddnley have loads of American ancesters .Do you mean you have to join Ancestry itself?

      • Personally, I would only use the APP for either entertainment–or perhaps clues. You can probably take the names it gives you and put them into FamilySearch and come up with some records or suggestions on their site which is free to use.

  5. They’re not saying that the match is definite, it’s just a possibility and they tell you upfront that they use data from your tree as well as other people’s trees to make possible matches and it’s up to you to do the research as to whether or not your tree does follow along their proposed lineage. I don’t understand how there are so many bad reviews of this app when it’s obviously just a suggestion and not a guarantee. So far the app has been well over 50% correct, based on the lineage I already had as well as for suggesting extensions that I thoroughly researched before adding to my tree. The times it isn’t correct shouldn’t be taken as offensive as it was just a suggestion in the first place. It also takes time for matches to come through so when one doesn’t pop up immediately, maybe it will pop up in a few weeks. I already had Jimmy Carter on my family tree and it took the app about a month for him to show up. It gives you new matches about once a day, not all at once. I think it’s a great app and has led to a lot of fun research and connections with history. You just have to remember to do your due diligence and take the possible matches with a grain of salt (and patience).

    • In my experience, most everyone I’ve been able to confirm. There are a few that I’ve questioned due to a wrong parent. It was a correct husband, just wasn’t their father. I think it’s a lot of fun.
      I will say one thing I find interesting, I’ve known for many years that I’m related to the singer Willie Nelson. He has never come up on my app as being related to me! Maybe it’s because he’s already in my family tree.
      The app is fun for me.

      • I was wondering the same thing about Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain. He is a definite relative but hasn’t come up on We’re Related. Willie Nelson has, though! I’ll have to try to verify that. I also got a connection to Thomas Jefferson, but the leap that was done on my line had my known relative being born to an 11 year old…possible but not plausible, I think…

    • I was sceptical about Winston Churchill, but Jane Austen seemed possible. I have trawled through Ancestry and amazingly found matches for the ancestors in my tree that I didnt have. Problem is that it is a bit hard to confirm them the further back they go, and siblings are most often not there either, so a lot of effort Iis necessary to try to work out if the matches are possible. But Jane, Winston and Neville a Chamberlain all do like credible possible distant cousins. They are all connected to each other as well.

    • I love the app also. I have found a lot of famous people I am related to. Over 75 per cent check out to be correct.

  6. I agree with you C.A….the app is a lot of fun and actually it’s been pretty accurate in the findings of my famous relatives…some I grew up knowing they were related and now the app shows where they are on my family tree…and it all makes sense…I’ve had 4 out of 68 so far that are questionalble…and I like that Ancestry’s computer looks thru 70 million records in finding these possible famous relatives for us…and many of my friends are doing it too and are having successful results too…many have found the answer to some of their own family tree relatives thru this app…and a few of them have found that their own wives are actually their cousins…LOL…like I said, it’s a lot of fun for all of us…and in reality there is absolutely no one person who can really say with absolute truth that every thing on their family trees is 100 percent accurate…records and stories from the past just aren’t 100 percent accurate…and with that said…I feel confident using the information that we have so far…I have DNA on numerous websites so I know the computer is using all available resources for finding these relatives using all other cousins family trees from all over to help make our family trees more complete…

  7. I’ve had the app on my phone for a few months now. I was sharing them to Facebook almost daily just for laughs until a couple of my relatives told me to quit – they were sick of seeing something that is so obviously “fake”. I have to agree with C.A.; I think most of what the app suggests is just that – suggestions. It has found several people for me I have suspected for years to be distant cousins (Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton…), but the day it finds Robin Williams, I’ll spit my drink everywhere. I *know* there’s a connection. I just haven’t found it yet! It’s up to me to prove or debunk these suggestions. That’s the one thing about all this.. people want the easy way out anymore. Genealogy isn’t about the website or the app that’s going to do the work for you. Half the fun is the journey to proving what you think you already know!

  8. So far, not impressed. Everyone I know who has downloaded it is related to a couple of the same famous people. It seems to make changes on its own. Overnight, on its own, it changed my husband’s contacts to “Private” so no one can see the descendant tree, but when he goes to change it, it says they are visible; it inactivated the tree I was using and activated another so I have to keep changing it back; and when I tried to leave a comment about it, it opened a page that says “NO CONVERSATIONS.” Meh

  9. I’m really frustrated and disappointed with this app. I’m finding most of my “famous” connections completely wrong. I think a lot of people are going to fall for all this and wrongfully pass the information down to other generations. Ancestry.com is going to end up completely discrediting themselves, and fib their way right out of business. To add insult to injury I’ve found all the accomplished people wrong and the no talent morons on here match up! I’ve got Miley Cyrus for God’s sake! Anybody want to trade? I’LL trade you Miley Cyrus and Brittany Spears for Willie Nelson.

    • Gosh, Jan, I think I have all three of them in my list . I actually enjoy it. It’s fun to research the possibilities, realizing that my 9th cousin twice removed STILL means I’m not on the Christmas card list. My suggestion: Take it with a grain of salt, do your research, but have fun with it!!

  10. So far, I think the same limited number of celebrities are appearing on everyone’s apps. I have both Obamas, Michael Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Bill Clinton, Cate Blanchette, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, Kate Upton, Dolly Parton, and both my coworker and his wife. I had my dna tested twice, and I have no black ancestry, and this app didn’t show Daniel Boone, a known dna ancestor. Instead it changed the name of the mother right at that juncture, now claiming that Michael Jackson is my relative instead. I have sent it to a few friends as an experiment to see if all our results are the same, or if it claims I am related to everyone I know. That is my suspicion.

    • Hi Linda…I don’t show up any African ancestry either….but my dad’s paternal DNA showed some African ancestry…you need to get your dad’s paternal DNA to see if he has any African ancestry…without the paternal DNA, you don’t have the full spectrum of your own DNA ancestry.

      • Note from a mixed race person: umm did it ever occur to you guys that most of us african Americans are only around 72% black because of rape during slavery??? Duh thats why you have PLENTY of black relatives.

        • Kind of a rude way of presenting your logic. Anyways, has no one also thought of the fact that, aside from rape (on both sides), it wasn’t that uncommon for mixed relations by both man and woman? It confirms your thought process, but you dont have to take everything so personally. You take offense where there was none. A bit of a problem all around now-a-days.

          • Your ignorance is showing, Eric. There was no mixed race relations until the Civil Rights era. It was illegal. The exception were Melungeons, Lumbees, Redbones, etc. And unsurprisingly, they lied about their ethnicity and lived among themselves due to racism and slavery. So YES, the vast majority of European ancestry in black Americans is due to slavery. Maybe educate yourself before trying to whitesplain history to black people.

        • Thank you, Autumn, that’s what they fail to forget, it’s because of the rape in slavery..

    • You don’t have to have any African dna to have black relatives. All it took was one ancestor in common to both of you, like a 6th gr grandfather that was a slave owner with a white wive who also had children with one of his slaves.

  11. Well I can’t get mine to open but reading these. Onments I’m not going to bother. Concerned by the comments about having to pay as well as that is not mentioned and I already pay to access Ancestry. Was was hoping I might get sensible ideas for knocking down my brink walls rather than have big names in my tree so the whole thing sounds rediculous

    • The famous people I can’t give one whit about and the app doesn’t give you any details about the people in your common tree other than dates and names. It’s been interesting to see which of my Facebook friends I might be related to–but only because it made me review some families that I have not worked on in some time.

  12. At least some of you are getting results. I joined a few years ago when it first came out. I got an immediate notice that they couldn’t find any relatives. I took down the app and forgot about it. I recently was speaking to Ancestry for a tech problem and we started talking about the function on the Ancestry site that used to do the same thing as this app. She brought up “We’re related” and I thought that I would download it again to see if it had improved. Well, here I am staring at the screen that says “How embarrassing! We can’t find any relatives for you yet” They want me to start adding people from facebook and asking relatives to add people. I already have a pretty good tree going after doing research for many years. If they can’t come up with someone after all that, then I guess my family has stealthily gone through life without having our 15 minutes of fame anywhere.

  13. I have an aunt who would like to download this app on her Windows computer. Any ideas or workarounds? She thinks my 102-year-old uncle would love to see the matches.

  14. It seems fine to me provided you take it as a toy rather than a real resource. Obviously as it uses posted trees there will be all kinds of mistakes
    This is clear from the details given when you download. Maybe I am a sixth cousin of Franz Liszt and a seventh of Dale Earnheart or maybe not – they seem to come from the same line on my tree so should also be related to eachother as well as to me.

  15. Why does one of my lines show results and none of the others do? When I try to pull them up, it keeps asking me to add the other relatives (father, sister, brother, three of my grandparents). They are already entered! Their names, data, and even pictures are there. How can you add what is already entered? My mother is my only working line on the app.

  16. I have enjoyed the app. Mine came back with relations to almost all the presidents and vice presidents. I knew of Lincoln and Zachary Taylor. I also found relationships to many stars and singers.
    The app has also caused me to look at Lincoln and Robert E. Lee closer on my Grandmother’s side. I believe they were cousins. I found that interesting given they were on opposite sides of the war.

  17. It says I am related to three presidents, Teddy Roosevelt included, but would that not mean I am also related to FDR and Eleanor?

    • No, it would not. The two Roosevelts were cousins, not full siblings.
      It comes down to the lines of descent from the common ancestor.
      So you can be related to one but not the other because only part of the lines are the same.

      If anything, it’s a relation by marriage rather than descent.

  18. I find it amusing, something I can tease my kids and grand-kids with, as there are a few that no one wants to be related to. However it is only for amusement, without a paper-trail and/or DNA Matches, it is useless. I don’t like that it uses other’s trees as they have me list as the granddaughter of someone who I just found out through DNA is NOT my Mother’s Bio Father (ah, family secrets) and the same goes for my supposed Bio Father (no DNA match to him either).

  19. Just subscribed to ” we are related” I did so hoping all the connections are DNA related no matter how monoscule, not just common ancestry on my tree. Hoping someone can verify there is indeed DNA as well as tree connections.

  20. I tried to use the app and wants to access my fb. When I say No it won’t let me go further. Do not want to connect to my fb but think the app would be fun. Do I have to??

  21. I’ve definitely been using the app for fun and taking it with a grain of salt until I can do the research but the possibilities are definitely exciting. Benjamin Tallmadge and Samuel Adams…loving that rebel ancestry! As a dual national of US/UK getting Benedict Arnold was a hoot, and Johnny Appleseed was neat. Steve McQueen, Norman Rockwell, Helena Bonham Carter, Orson Welles, Ringo Starr, Andrew Jackson, Abner Doubleday, Ulysses S. Grant to name a few. My favorite and most exciting so far though has been James Fenimore Cooper…The Last of the Mohicans is literally one of my favs!

  22. Am I the Only one that got Whitney Houston??Pablo Picasso?? Pablo is apparently my 3rd cousin…10× removed.lol. If this is true I would be thrilled..Time for more research…

    • I take some of these as entertainment. Although…if a person has early New England ancestry or early Southern ancestry the number of matches goes up.

  23. I downloaded the APP and was interested several are questionable. The one that had no real genealogical paper document connection was Christine Aguilera until I have a DNA match to Aguilera.

  24. Now what …that the app is going to be discontinued on 8/15/2019?
    I really enjoyed this app and will miss it. I also do the research on the possible matches to confirm.
    I’ll be taking a lot of screen shots to preserve this info over the next week or so. Bummer!

  25. I actually connected presidents to my family tree on my own and it did connect me to a couple famous people in which I didn’t just take their word I did some of my own work and in fact did connect the same ancestors so. Michael Jackson is my 9th cousin, Johnny Depp is my 8th cousin 1x removed and Johnny Cash is my 4th 2x removed. I did disprove some people they said I was related to it just didn’t match up so not all of it is true.

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