November 29, 2015

Social Genealogy: The Mistakes You Made That Sent Potential Cousins Away

Social Genealogy: The Mistakes You Made That Sent Potential Cousins Away…And How You Can Fix Them

One Administrator, Many Trees

As genealogy and DNA sharing has evolved, there is still one very important rule to follow: Whether you’re sending a message to someone who administers another tree in Ancestry, or you’ve seen a thread in Roots web surname or location lists, or, you think you have a close cousin connection in any of the various DNA testing sites like 23andMe or others, the one thing you can do to further your research easily and quickly is to BE SPECIFIC when you contact them.

Periodically, I’ll get a message from someone who has been looking at the 23andMe site where I am the administrator for three different people: myself, my brother and my husband. Most of the time, I can determine which genome they want to connect with because I recognize a surname or they actually TELL ME which one they were looking at.

What should you include in your communication with a potential cousin? Here’s some ideas.

  • The name of the tree, or specific person’s name for a genome. For instance, you want to connect with me and were in my Yates (1) tree. Please note that specific criteria.
  • Are you looking at a genome? Was it Dave ____, Carol ___ or Jim___?
  • Are you replying to a thread about a surname? Please include a first name of your ancestor with that surname if you have one. Include any dates or locations as well. This would hold true as well for inquiries about a location.
  • Are you sending an email? Please don’t put “genealogy” or “family” in the subject line. That means nothing to anyone and will likely get deleted. Instead, have it read something like, “Re: Joe Black, 1812, TN”. (I have three Smith lines, hence the request for a first name when contacting me).
  • Tip: If you choose not to include your email address in the body of the email, but still want to share it with your recipient, just write it as webducky AT (instead of the @ symbol) People are more apt to reply via email than through the website’s message feature. Including your full email address online is a sure way to ‘invite’ email scrapers to send you spam.
  • Tip 2: Follow the rule of WHO, WHY, WHAT, WHEN WHERE.

The bottom line here is, you need to provide the most information to your recipient to ensure your success.

Be courteous and forgive someone if they don’t reply right away. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives. Genealogy and genome sharing is fun and helps to share a clue to ‘who am I’? for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading. Have a comment or suggestion for this topic? Please do! Interested in what your DNA says about you? Feel free to click the 23andMe graphic in the sidebar.

© Carol Wilkerson – 2015 All rights reserved.

You might also like to read:

How DNA Testing With 23andMe Averted Serious Surgical Complications

Genealogy: Why You Still Need To Use Message Boards And Mailing Lists


It was important to me to have my DNA tested now so it was “banked” and might be a source of future studies for my health. Today, I read an article that poses the question, “Is Fibromyalgia A Mitochondrial Disorder?“. I maintain that I have had fibromyalgia all of my life. I may not have always known it, but I felt the effects when I was very young and they have never ever gone away.

While I understand  :-( the reasoning behind the FDA limiting the health results of those of us who have taken the 23andMe DNA tests (my brother has also taken the tests to fully round out our DNA profiles) but it infuriates me a bit that I may have a medical breakthrough in my reach, but not in my grasp. I won’t go into the money and lawsuits part of it all, but suffice it to say that’s probably what drives the reasoning behind it.

I invite any of my genealogy/DNA savvy friends to weigh in and leave their thoughts.

My 23andMe Results Are In! I\’m Pleasantly Surprised!


My 23andMe Results Are In! I’m Pleasantly Surprised!

My results are in and my surprise is that I have a tiny bit of Asian/Native American blood, as well as a super big amount of Scandinavian. No surprise on that second part, with my mom’s Swedish line, but I had always wondered whether anything else would show up.

I used 23andMe as my genetic testing service because we had used them for my husband’s line and we were very happy that his results confirmed he has some degree of Native American blood as well. Actually, we had his dad tested, which presented a much more direct line.

Back to my test results, this is what 23andMe has to say about my testing:

Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 31 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.

I have to say, I was quite surprised by the “Yakut” listing, but it might all tie in with the Native American migration in some way, which I suspect. To be honest, I’m not sure just where my Native American genes might have come from, but I suspect it could have been through my Poindexter family, or my Smith line. Family stories are great for pointing you in certain directions, and in ours they made references to “black indians” and “red indians”. So far, I haven’t found anyone in the family that was an enrolled member of a tribe.

The Poindexter Connection

What have you found in your DNA testing results that surprised you? Was there anything, or was it as you thought it would be? In the past I have used other DNA testing services, but honestly, I think 23andMe is the best when it comes to detailed results. What I like about them too is that they keep refining the results over time so you get an even more clear picture of your genetic lineage.

23andMe Ancestry Composition for Carol PDF file

23andMe And The 1004 DNA Relatives

When I began doing genealogy decades ago it never really was on my radar that we would be able to find and connect with cousins using our DNA. Now, here we are and our cousins are not only found, but verified by documentation and genetically. We had my husband Jim’s DNA tested through 23andMe some years ago, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many cousins of his paternal and maternal side have also used 23andMe as well and been able to contact us easily.

What We’ve Found

Many things we expected to see were English, Irish and French percentages that would be quite high. What we weren’t sure of was whether or not there was any Native American in Jim’s DNA. Just last year when his profile was updated by 23andMe it showed that there is a 0.1% of Native American blood in Jim’s paternal side of the family. We know now that what we suspected was true, but we’re still on the hunt for the elusive ancestor who brought that DNA into the family.

 What? We Have Jewish Ancestors?

Another surprising bit was that there’s also a 0.6% of Ashkenazi Jewish DNA in the line as well. As it pertains to the Wilkerson line, that was probably a mixing of DNA with some of the family’s northern European lines. As the 23andMe page explains it, “You share DNA history with 23andMe customers that have reported full Ashkenazi ancestry”.

And last, but not least, Jim also has 2.8% of Neanderthal DNA. I find this very interesting, and not because of any humorous aspect, but because, to me, it says the Neanderthals might not have survived to be a recognizable human in present time, but their mixing of DNA with other humanoids says “we adapted”. Who knows what they truly looked like? I mean, after all, “someone” had to be attracted to them, right?

It’s All Relatives

23andMe reports that, as of now, Jim has 1004 DNA relatives; 6 second and third cousins, and 344 fourth cousins. Over time, this number will likely increase. We have made contact with the closest ones with surnames like Boyert, Miller, etc. There are probably many more with whom we could connect, but their DNA profiles are private and not shared.