Thursday, June 16, 2016

The NADs are Back !
. . . And Not so Bad

There must be an ebb and a flow to the arrival of new ancestral discoveries for our family's DNA tests. It sometimes seems there is absolutely nothing matching either my results or my husband's with other test takerswhether at Ancestry DNA or Family Tree DNAfor weeks on end. In fact, for most of the time since we first tested, well over three years ago.

Of course, the results that showed up when I looked yesterday proved all that wrong. And good thing, for these are some of the questions I need answered before our trip back to visit family this summer.

It all started with an email from Family Tree DNA. Since I am now a newly-minted volunteer project manager there, I discovered that status includes receiving advance notice on sales. This is a helpful thing, considering I am now also serving as coordinator for our local genealogical society's special interest group on genetic genealogy. (And yes, there is a Father's Day sale at Family Tree DNA now going on through Monday evening for those wishing to do Y-DNA testing, as well as Ancestry DNA's ten percent off sale for the autosomal test.)

Receiving the advanced notice on the sale prompted me to take a look at my own matches at Family Tree DNA, to see how things were going. And, of course, to wander over to Ancestry DNA to do the same there. Surprise, surprise, there were a few unexpected results awaiting me.

The first thing was, over at Ancestry, a new connection which I hadn't been able to figure out before. The "DNA Circles" showed my husband had a connection with a Larson from Minnesota that had kept me puzzleduntil yesterday, that is, when I was dutifully working on my mother in law's various lines of descendants from the Perry County gang. Remember John Jay Jackson and his ill-fated wife, Sarah Ijams, whom I was discussing yesterday? Seems their daughter Nancy Ann Jackson married a Snider, and one of their children left the hometown to head to Iowa, and later to Minnesota. Working down the line of that couple's descendants, I finally figured out where the connection was with that outlier Larson name which Ancestry had insisted matched up with our test results. Sure enough, there are now two fourth cousins confirmedat least on my paper trailvindicating Ancestry from aspersions cast in their direction over puzzling match results.

Then, too, a match I had found on Family Tree DNA last yearindicating the possibility of a Kelly connection in Indiana's Tippecanoe County, one of the old family homes we'll stop at on our trip this summershowed up in a test result over at Ancestry. With renewed communication, hopefully we'll partner to determine just how this Kelly nexus links us. That will become one of the items on my to-do list for documentation to seek while driving through Indiana this summer.

Usually, the matches I see for our family's testsno matter whether at Ancestry or Family Tree DNAare for very distant relationships. I turn green with envy at our annual DNA conference, hearing those happy stories of connections and discoveries among numerous close matches in other people's results. It never seems to turn out that way for us. A third cousin result seems a luxury in our myriad fifth, sixth, or "distant" cousin returns.

How can I explain the feeling yesterday, of pulling up my husband's account at Ancestry DNA and seeing a result for a first cousin? And, having seen the name of the person, knowing exactly who it was? (Bonus thrill: and not having paid for the test, ourselves, nor pushed or cajoled the person into participating.) Not that it will advance our understanding of the far reaches of our mutual family tree, but it's nice to see a result for a close relative.

Remember those "NADs"New Ancestor Discoverieswhich, in Ancestry's latest revision, had swallowed up and spit out my husband's entire set of bad NADs? While my bad NADs had simultaneously disappeared in that same algorithm adjustment, it seems they are back. More to the point, the first three disappearing names have been replaced with an equally as puzzling trio.

Well, I don't have any specifically good news to mention about them. I'm still puzzled as to who those three people were to whom I'm supposedly related. But based on what happened yesterday in discovering that Larson match, I can see that, given time, patience, and more research, the right surname may well surface and give me a whole new perspective.

Yes, the old NADs went away after Ancestry's most recent revision. And new ones took their place. But that lesson of the other newly-discovered family link reinforces that slow-and-steady approach to DNA matching. There are a lot of relatives in between our own nuclear family unit and those fourth great grandparents who gifted us with all our fifth cousin matches. Tracing each of their descendants may seem tedious. But it's informative. In the long run. If we have the patience to start at the beginning and work our way, step by excruciatingly detailed step, to the end goal.

Above: "An Indiana Road" by American impressionist painter Theodore Clement Steele, 1889; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Disclaimer: No reimbursement or other consideration has been received for mention of either of the two companies above, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry DNA; their sale status has been passed along to you as a service to readers.


  1. Getting this out of the way first, "Go Nads!"

    It is nice to see there is some refinement to the results - I suspect as time goes on, they will become more and more accurate/useful.

    1. I'm already in awe of what can be determined through examination of DNA, Iggy. Yes, those tests will continue to refine and hone in on more accurate results. It's a fascinating field.

  2. A Larson from Minnesota...I have known a few:)


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