ThruLines Does Part of the Work

It is important to constantly remember when using AncestryDNA’s ThruLines that it only does part of the work and that “work” is partially based on user-submitted trees. Those are trees over which you have no control.

I’m not going to even dip my toe into a discussion of the programming that probably takes place to create this analysis–largely because that seemingly occasionally changes. Situations like this (where I know something about the family) are the main reason why I strongly suggest that users of ThruLines (or any analytical tool that is automated) completely review what it says for families whose genealogical relationships are well-document and pretty clearly established. Just in case the reasons for this are not clear, working with ThruLines on a “known” family helps you to understand:

  • how the system works,
  • what idiosyncrasies are in the system,
  • ways to work around any issues,
  • again–how it works.

I was reminded of this while analyzing some DNA matches that are connected to me through my ancestor Mary Dingman and her husband Clark Sargent. ThruLines found three of my DNA matches that also have Mary in their tree–through two of Mary’s other children, Charlotte and Emmar. ThruLines correctly shows that Charlotte is my half-aunt (because Clark Sargent was not her father).

But there’s more. There’s another descendant of Mary’s daughter Emmar who has done a DNA test. This match was one that did not show up on the ThruLines for Mary Dingman–even thought Emmar’s showing as Mary’s daughter. This DNA match (according to ThruLines) is also a descendant of Thomas Pollard (1859-1904)–as is one of the DNA matches in the first chart.

When I viewed the ThruLines for Clark Sargent, both of these DNA matches who had Emmar Sargent in their tree showed up. They are both descendants of Mary Dingman as well.

My suspicion is that the “big tree” does not have everyone tied to Clark and Mary’s marriage as children correctly. That’s my guess.

But I’m not really interested in correcting the big tree as that’s created from all those user-submitted trees at Ancestry and I do not have the time nor do I have the interest in trying to get all those submitters to correct their trees.

What I am interested in is my own research and analyzing my DNA matches. ThruLines helps me to some of that analysis faster.

Some of that analysis. Nowhere close to all of it. Frankly, ThruLines helps me to sort out the matches who have a name in their connection to the big tree that I have in my tree.

I still need to do the work.

And this little exercise reminded me that for a husband and wife, I need to look at the ThruLines separately. Part of the potential problem here is that Mary Dingman was married twice and had children and descendants with both husbands. The other part (which I’m speculating about) is that some of those trees don’t have Mary, Clark, and Asa Landon (Mary’s second husband) all tied completely accurately to their children.

A little more knowledge to help me analyze the ThruLines results where less is known about the family.


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