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  • Writer's pictureTheFormidableGenealogist

ThruLines: Part 2

In an earlier post, I talked about some of the pitfalls of not fully understanding ThruLines or relying exclusively on it.

I frequently manipulate the tool for my own specific goals. But what allows me to exploit its helpfulness allows for misunderstanding by others.

To illustrate this, I updated the family tree attached to my own AncestryDNA sample. I removed the parents of my maternal grandmother from my tree in order to replace them with a random couple to whom I shouldn't be related. For my 'new' great-grandparents, I wanted to find an American couple with many children. I figured that approach would yield at least a few convincing connections since my mother's family has been in the U.S. since colonial times. I typed "which U.S. president had the most children?" into my web search engine. Among the top results was John Tyler, our nation's 10th president, who served from 1841-1845. He and his wife Letitia Christian were the parents of 16 children. Additionally, John and Letitia were born around 1790 in Virginia, the same location as many of my grandmother's true ancestors. They sounded like the perfect couple--at least for this.

ThruLines did not disappoint. As shown below, it identified six of my mother's DNA cousins who descend from Letitia's paternal side. Of course my grandmother did not have a mother born in 1790. Had I used a couple born closer in time to the 1920s, then the information below could look accurate. Without some critical inquiry, even this network could look convincing.

example of thrulines

If I thought these results were accurate, I'd still need to complete additional steps. I would start by investigating whether those cousins belong to the same group of my shared DNA matches, and whether they overlap with known matches to my grandmother who are not from her paternal side....

If that sounds complicated--you're right! Consider hiring a professional genealogist if you need some help making sense of it all.


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