Building Quick & Dirty Trees to Identify Genetic Matches

– [Blaine] Hello, my
name is Blaine Bettinger and I want to talk to you
about the matching tree method, otherwise known as building
quick and dirty trees. So quick and dirty trees
is a way of identifying your genetic matches and how
they might be connected to you. What exactly is a quick and dirty tree? A quick and dirty tree
is an unverified tree that’s built very quickly only for potentially finding known or suspected names or locations that you share in common with
one of your genetic matches. So essentially pursuant to
this process, what you do is, you will build a tree for a match in hopes of finding a
common ancestor or location that will give you clues about how the two of you are related. It’s really important to know however that a quick and dirty tree
will only generate hints. A quick and dirty tree
is not proof of anything. A quick and dirty tree has
to be documented and verified if you’re going to use it to reach a genealogical conclusion. But as we know quick and
dirty trees as we’ll see rely on information that’s
been gathered correlated by other individuals. And so because that’s a lot
of levels of abstraction, there are plenty of chances
for there to be errors. So we want to make sure that we are not perpetuating those errors when we build these quick and dirty trees and then use that information
for a genealogical conclusion. Instead we are only going to use quick and dirty trees for hints. And one important thing to
remember as well is that, a quick and dirty tree
is not a Mirror Tree. The difference is a Mirror Tree, although it is a tree that’s
built for your genetic match, what happens with a Mirror Tree is that tree is then attached
to your DNA test results or the DNA test results
of that some test taker. Now the reason that is is that, that is an attempt to generate those shared ancestor hints at Ancestry. So by building that Mirror Tree and attaching it to the results, what you’re hoping to do is to generate those
shared ancestor hints. That is not a quick and dirty tree method. The quick and dirty tree is
never attached to anyone’s DNA. They’re simply building
the quick and dirty tree in hopes of finding surnames and locations that you recognize rather
than trying to build, generate random shared ancestor hints. Now, if you’re interested
in using this method and building these quick and dirty trees, you must watch this 23
minute video from Ancestry. So this was created and is narrated by Crista Cowan and Angie Bush and it talks all about
quick and dirty method, the Mirror Trees and so on. So this is really a must watch for anyone that’s
interested in this topic. An excellent, excellent video. All right, so let’s use
the quick and dirty method to figure out or get
clues about how Framisong5 is related to us. So Framisong5 is a new match, we can click on that match and then start to work
through our process. So the first step in our process is to see how much DNA we share in common. So we’ll click little I there and down comes this pop-up that says, we share 53 centimorgans in common. That’ll put us right
around fifth cousins or so. I’m sorry, fourth cousins or so. Could be more distant, could be closer, but that’s around the range
we’re going to be looking, somewhere around fourth cousins. So after that the next
thing we’re gonna do is we’re gonna look and see what the tree of this
individual looks like. Because that’s what we do
with most of our matches, look at the tree to try
to find a connection. Now this match Framisong5
does not have a full tree, however, he does have an unlinked tree. So an unlinked tree
means he’s built a tree but he has not yet matched that to his, attach that to his DNA results. So what we can see here is that when we look at his unlinked trees he has a unlinked tree called
the Wright Family Tree. So we’re gonna click on
the Wright Family Tree and when we do we see there’s
only one person in that tree. So this can be problematic, because what we really
wanted to hopefully find was a full tree that
we could easily review and see if there are any locations or surnames or ancestors in common. Well, obviously we can’t do that here. So what we’re gonna have to do is we’re gonna have to
build a tree for this match. And you will find yourself building trees for many, many, many of your matches. In fact I typically will try
to build a tree for a match even before I contact them because it’s usually more efficient. So what we’re going to do
is we’re gonna click on View Full Tree here just in case there might be
other information in the tree that we don’t see here. Now in this case there wasn’t
but sometimes there is, so it’s always worth doing. So what we’re gonna do is we’re going to click on Mary Alice Rowell, so that we can review the
information associated with her. When we do that, what we see is we have birth and death dates for Mary Alice. Now, it’s not in a conventional format but we can see that, for example, she was born September 26th, 1923 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. And then is reported to have died in September 11th in
1993 also in Bridgeport. So this is in fact pretty good information about Mary Alice Rowell. What’s interesting is that this is it, this is all the information we have so far about our connection to
this particular match. So as long as we can identify Mary then we should be able to build a very or hopefully a relatively complete tree for this genetic match
that may lead us to clues about how we’re connected. So the first thing of
course that we have to do is we have to identify Mary Alice Rowell and find her biological family so that we can then start
to build out the tree. And we could use any
source at all to do this. Google, newspapers, Find a
Grave, FamilySearch, Ancestry, those are all excellent
methods to identify who Mary Alice Rowell was. Particularly in this time frame 1993 we might very well find an
obituary for Mary Alice Rowell or an obituary of another
relative for example that mentions her. All kinds of different
sources we can use here. One source we’re going to use is we’re going to use the
Public Member Trees at Ancestry. So if we go into the search bar, the drop-down has Public Member Trees and once we get that
what we’re gonna do is we are going to enter in
the information we know. So for example, we’re
gonna enter in Mary Alice for the first and middle names, Rowell for the last name and
then the birth information. Now don’t be afraid to play
around with this information. So some of the tricks for
these Public Member Trees is to try to use more information and then try to use less information. You might have to broaden
the birth and death dates ’cause people do make mistakes and sometimes you can use
just initials for the names. Those are just a few of the clues, but if you don’t get good hits,
keep playing around with it. Try to find a connection that, or information that will
lead you to a good hit. Now you can see here for example, I did get a good hit here
for Mary Alice Rowell and remember the tree
that she was found in was called the Wright Tree, and here you can see her spouse is listed as Charles S. Wright. So, not only that, but there’s a birth date
of 1903 in Connecticut. There is one discrepancy and that says the death was in 1990 in Bridgeport. Remember we said earlier it was 1993 and in fact when I tried to
search the Public Member Trees with a death date of 1993
I couldn’t get a hit. It wasn’t until I removed that death date that I finally got a hit
from Mary Alice Rowell. So don’t be afraid to play
around with that information. But I feel very strongly
that this is likely the Mary Alice Rowell we’re interested in and so what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna use that
information to build a tree. I click on Mary Alice Rowell
and up comes her profile and I can see there’s all kinds
of great information here. There’s the birth and
death date and location, there’s names for her parents,
there’s a spouses name, there is documentation which will come in very
handy down the road when we want to add documentation to this quick and dirty tree. So there’s all kinds of
very good information here. With that information then
I can start to build a tree. Now, it’s also important to note that I didn’t have to find
this through Ancestry, I could have gotten this
information anywhere. For example here I found at FamilySearch I did just a general search of Mary Alice Rowell in
Bridgeport, Connecticut and the very first hit is the 1910 census which is in fact the
same Mary Alice Rowell. So it doesn’t matter where
you get this information, you can do it in one place,
you can do it multiple places, but just need to make a connection and place that person
within a potential tree. So once I have this now I can build a tree for Mary Alice Rowell. Now some people will build this as sort of a floating
branch in an existing tree and others will build
this as a brand new tree. The first thing we do is we’re
going to add this new person. And what we’re gonna do is we’re
gonna copy that information from the identified tree. So we’re gonna add Mary Alice Rowell with the birth date, the death date and then we’ll save that individual. Then we just continue to build the tree, we’ll add the father. Also copying that information from the identified tree Daniel W. Rowell. Now once we add the second person it will ask us to save the tree as long as we’re not putting
this in an existing tree. Here I’m going to name it quick and dirty tree for Framisong5. Now, I’m also going to unclick
the button there that says allow others to view this tree. I don’t want other people to see this tree until I’ve verified it or
I’ve contacted the match or maybe I will never let anyone see this. But what I’m gonna do is
I’m going to unclick this because I do not want
other people to see it. Then I’ll save it, and I will also make the tree
private and unsearchable. Meaning, the other individuals at ancestry cannot find this tree even
if they search for it. So what I’m gonna do first is hit the the black
bar there for the tree and down will come this drop-down menu and one of those selections
is tree settings. Under Tree Settings I hit
Privacy Settings on the next page that will take me to the
privacy settings page and here is where I click Private Tree, again, means other people can’t see it and I make it unsearchable. So I prevent my tree from being found and searches by other individuals. What does this mean? That means that I don’t
spread the misinformation that is almost guaranteed to exist in my quick and dirty tree. Instead I’ve made it so it is contained. That also means that my match
will not inadvertently find it which I don’t want to be the
initial contact between us. I want to be able to
reach out to this match before they find that I
built a tree for them. Now that it’s private and unsearchable we can build the tree. Here you can see I already
have hints about the tree here, particularly I have a hint
for a potential mother for Mary Alice Rowell. So I’m going to click on potential mother which is just generated
by Ancestry’s algorithms. I’m gonna click on that and
then up comes this information, I’ll click on Review Details and now I have a information
about a potential match for Mary Alice Rowell being her mother or potential mother Alice Janet Jennings. Now I’m going to just add this. I’m not gonna be verifying
this information, the one thing I will do
however is I’ll make sure that the date of the birth
of the mother makes sense. Meaning, she was neither
too young nor too old to have been Mary Alice Rowell’s mother. Other than that, I’m not gonna open it up, I’m not gonna look at documents,
I’m just going to add this because again I’m building
a quick and dirty tree. Down the road of course
I want to verify this, for now I’m just building
a quick and dirty tree. So I hit Yes and now she’s
been added to the tree, I’m getting new potential hints. And so all I’m gonna do is I’m just gonna build the
tree using this process. If I hit a dead end, what I’ll do is then I
can go to some documents, do some traditional research. The one thing I don’t want to do is I don’t want to spend days
and days on this however, I want to try to do this
as quickly as possible to build out the tree as far as I can. Here I’ve built out this tree
for a number of generations, remembering that Mary Alice
Rowell is the grandmother. So here we’re building it out for quite a few generations
for the test taker. But what I know now is nothing’s really jumping
out at me at this stage. It might be a little bit
early to jump ship here but I see that nothing
is jumping out at me. No names or locations that
seem to be recognizable. But what’s important to remember is that Mary Alice Rowell was only a one grandparent of the test taker. So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna chase down the
husband of Mary Alice Rowell which is, doesn’t even
have a spot on this tree but it will be the parent of that topmost private individual for example. So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna go to Mary Alice Rowell’s profile. I don’t remember what Mary
Alice’s husband’s name was, so we’re gonna go to her profile. And once we do that what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna look at the hints here. So under the hints one of them
is this ancestry member tree, I’m gonna review this tree. And when I do that, what I find is there is a tree that gives me some clues about this particular individual and I find there’s a spouse
listed for Mary Alice Rowell being Charles Smith Wright. Again that makes sense because this is the Wright family tree. So Charles Smith Wright
here is this individual. I’m going to then when I look at that, when I’m reviewing this tree, I see that Charles Smith Wright was born in Oswego County, New York. This is my first interesting connection. I have ancestors from
Oswego County, New York. Now does this mean I found the connection? Does this mean anything at all? Absolutely not. All it means is, this is a potential
source for me to pursue. So now I build Charles’s family tree. I add his father, his
grandparents and mothers and so on and so forth,
adding as much as I can until I get to a point where I have a tree and I’ve identified now a
genealogical connection. Seth Johnson and Sarah Streeter here are also individuals that
are in my family tree. So now I have this
genealogical connection. Have I proven anything? Absolutely not. I don’t know if this
explains our shared DNA, whether this person is
actually in his tree or whether he’s made a mistake, I don’t know anything like that. What I do know is, I have a clue. This is a clue that I did not have and could not essentially have until I built out this
quick and dirty tree. Now I can pursue this,
I can add documentation and I can do the work to make sure that I’m not jumping to
an incorrect conclusion. So again we have not proven anything, we’ve merely generated
a clue in this process. Another thing, important
thing to recognize is that we’ve only built out about 50% of the lines in this tree. There’s a whole other set of grandparents that we didn’t even look at and there’s a chance that our relationship could actually be through
those other two grandparents. So to avoid confirmation bias, we don’t solely focus now on this Johnson/Streeter connection. Instead what we want to do is we want to build out the
tree as much as possible to make sure that we’ve
eliminated other possibilities. The more we want to use this as genealogical evidence in a conclusion, the more work we’re going to have to do to make sure we’re not engaging
in some confirmation bias. So now that we have this,
we build out the tree, we add the documentation. We make sure that what I
have and what they have is actually genealogically correct. This will obviously take a lot longer than the quick and dirty
tree but that’s fine. We are not blindly
working in the dark here, now we have a connection, we have a clue, we can work and build on
from that information. An important thing to know is that this method is certainly not foolproof, there are a ton of reasons why you can build these quick and dirty trees and never find the
genealogical connection. For example, your connection may be in a part of your
tree that has holes. It might be in a part of their tree that can’t be built out easily
in a quick and dirty method. It might be because their tree has a misattributed parentage event, your tree might have a
misattributed parentage event. The connection might be further back than you can build trees
for these individuals. There are a ton of reasons
why this might not work. So rather than spending
months and weeks and days trying to build a tree, I recommend you build
this quick and dirty tree trying to find the connection. Now if you don’t find it
then you need to decide where the cost-benefit analysis is. Do you keep working or you
move on to a different tree? For me that cost-benefit analysis always depends on how
important that match is to me. If this is a very good
promising close match then I’m gonna spend more time trying to find that connection. The more distant a match the
less time I’m going to spend and the more I’m going to work on these quick and dirty trees. So that’s the matching tree method, that’s how you build these
quick and dirty trees. This was a very brief introduction to try to find the genealogical connection rather than spinning your
wheels for days and weeks trying to find a connection with a match, hopefully you can build
these quick and dirty trees and start to get clues about
how you might be connected. While we’re here I just wanted to give you a really brief introduction
to DNA Central. DNA Central is a membership
DNA education portal. So it’s at At this membership portal
there are DNA courses, there’s a biweekly
newsletter, there’s webinars, there’s all sorts of resources if you want to learn more about DNA. And I have just a quick coupon code QandD, if you use that code you get
$10 off a one-year membership, which is normally $99. So if you’re interested
in joining DNA Central use that coupon code and become a member. So that’s the matching tree method. This is one example of
building a quick and dirty tree that can lead to identifying a potential genealogical conclusion. Keeping in mind it is only hints. And this one example for here, I was able to build this tree and find this genealogical conclusion in less than an hour. So it can be done very,
very quickly in many cases, in other cases it can’t. So it’s sort of a fishing expedition. But when it works it can be very valuable and can give you some
really valuable clues. Thank you for watching.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *