My Response to Ancestry’s “Business” Decisions

I have never done a rant before, but I think it is finally time…. 


Angry Face Gnome IconI used to really like Ancestry. They were my go-to company for everything genealogical. However, over the past couple years, they have really let me down.
First, I did my Y-DNA testing through Ancestry. Ancestry quit doing Y-DNA; so whatever matches I had when they quit is all that I will ever have from them. I had to transfer my results to FamilyTree DNA and pay them their fee. I really feel that the money I spent on Ancestry’s Y-DNA test was wasted because they canceled the program about a year after I tested with them.
Next, I decided to go “all-in” with Family Tree Maker for Mac. I had used Family Tree Maker long ago. I tried Mac Family Tree, Reunion, and Heredis but found that Family Tree Maker was better for my needs.  So I bought it, upgraded it, and learned the nuances of its use. Then I started having more and more problems with the synchronization between my database and what was at Ancestry. Whenever the two (my local and the Ancestry) trees got out of sync and corrupt, the answer Ancestry support had was to accept what I had on Ancestry and replicate it back down to my local machine. Of course, that would break any private information I had or any media that I hadn’t uploaded to Ancestry. I have a lot of private sources, mostly correspondence or interviews with living individual where personally identifiable information is included in the original text or recording.
I decided to continue with Family Tree Maker for Mac but stop any synchronization with Ancestry. My trees seemed to remain stable and I figured I could upload what I had once or twice a year and keep the public parts of my work fully shared. Sound like a great idea except we know it won’t work after next December when Ancestry quits all support for Family Tree Maker.
Ancestry’s decision to eliminate Family Tree Maker is more than just a nuisance. What it did was eliminate any trust I had and crushed my respect for the company. I now truly believe Ancestry does not care about their customers and will not support them in the long run. What they seem to care about is maximizing their profits. It appears that lower profit product lines and legacy products just aren’t worth supporting.
The bottom line is I do not trust Ancestry any longer. When the bubble bursts on atDNA and something newer and better is in the market, I’m sure that Ancestry will drop atDNA support too — It seems to be their way.
Photo of "Angry Mob"What can I do? First, I’ll quit using Family Tree Maker for the Mac. I know they will support it for another year; however, I will not. I will quit recommending Ancestry for atDNA, mostly because I can’t trust they will keep with the program. Finally, over the next few weeks, I plan to review alternatives to Family Tree Maker for Mac 3. Once I find a desirable solution I will begin the tedious process of exporting my trees from Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 to GED files then importing them into whatever software I decide on using. It is a lot of tedious work to restart a tree and fixing anything that broke during a migration from a GED file, but it is clear that Ancestry doesn’t care about that. You know what? I don’t care about them either.  
I know that for Ancestry it is “only business,” but because of their attitude I’m weaning myself off Ancestry products, ‘cause you know, it is “only consumption.”


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Book Review – Finding Family

Book Review – Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA

by Richard Hill

Review by Don Taylor

I don’t often read books for entertainment. I read a lot of magazines and articles on the Internet, but not many books. Therefore, when I do read a book it better be good or I put it down.

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill was one I couldn’t put down. I have a half sister who was put up for adoption as an infant; she didn’t find her birth mother and family (including me) until we were both in our 40s. In addition, my best friend from high school was adopted and was in his 40s when he finally discovered his birth mother. Also, I’ve never known who my father is and have used DNA as a tool to try to determine a paternal connection. Consequently, finding birth parents has always been interesting to me.  When I saw Richard Hills book about how he pieced together his origins through a mix of detective work and DNA, I was very intrigued. Could I find new techniques in my research buried in his story?

Finding Family reads much like a novel, however, we know what the ending will be. I was sure that the author would determine his birth parents before I opened the book. So, the ending of the mystery isn’t the important part, it is his path to solving the mystery that is the compelling story. We want to know how does he find out that he was adopted? What are the challenges he encounters during his journey? How does he overcome them? Those are the important notes in the story.

Hill does an excellent job of navigating the twists and turns of his search. His character development is very good. I found that I became interested, not only in his story but in the stories of the other individuals who both helped and hindered him along the way. I think he does a good job of not speculating on the motives of other people’s actions, but rather describing their actions.

The story does a great job of bringing us along through his process from simple investigative work, generating hypothesis and then trying to find corroborating evidence for those hypotheses He then brings in standard genealogical processes and learns more. Then initial Y-DNA testing leads him to new conclusions. Finally, modern autosomal DNA (atDNA) changes his original conclusions.

I enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it for anyone using a blend of genealogy and DNA to determine family connections. I think I’ll send a copy of it to my half sister. I hope that she will take it as inspiration for her to tell her story of locating her birth mother and other family. She is a great writer and also has an amazing story.

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill

 Paperback: 260 pages
 Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 17, 2012)
 ISBN-10: 1475190832
 ISBN-13: 978-1475190830

————- DISCLAIMER ————-

My genetic genealogy activities – Feb 2015

Photo of "The maze, Longleat safari park near to Horningsham, Wiltshire, Great Britain"  © Copyright Brian Robert Marshall and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License 3.0.
Maze, near to Horningsham, Wiltshire, Great Britain
Photo by Brian Robert Marshall
via Geograph – Creative Commons License 2.0.

At times, I feel like I’m lost in a maze of DNA
possibilities. I start down what looks like it will be a great path only to
find it ends.  As I mentioned before my
Y-DNA tests have resulted in many frustrations. 
Tantalizing close but dead ends everywhere.   I think the biggest issue with the Y-DNA
tests is it seems like no one is doing them any more. Ancestry.Com quit their
Y-DNA testing. I don’t think 23 & Me ever did Y-DNA, which only leaves
Family Tree DNA.  In my case I’ve only
seen one new match with them in the past year and that person was very distant
– 80% likely to have a common ancestor in 8 generations.

I turned to autosomal DNA testing to see if that would
help.  It seems like that is the test
that everyone is doing.  I used FamilyTree DNA for my atDNA testing. What is really cool about their system is if you
can have a parent tested as well as yourself, you can then search “FamilyFinder” for matches that match both of you and for matches that match the child
and not the one parent.  In my case, this
allows for a search for potential matches to the “baby daddy.” 
Because my Y-DNA testing suggested that I am most likely
descended from a “Roberts” I’ve been looking at possible Roberts connections in
atDNA test results.  Again, a lot of
tantalizing paths, but dead-ends again. 
Then, I found a really cool new match in my atDNA results. Looking
at only my paternal side, the two closest matches to me were matching each
other on the same chromosome in the same segments as me. Wow!
Family Finder result showing same segments on same chromosome of LV, CMA, and myself.

As I understand it, with segments this large matching, they
have to have received the segment from a common ancestor.  I too have to have received the same segment
from the same common ancestor.  That
means if we can figure out exactly who is their common ancestor, that ancestor
has to be common to me. (Please – someone tell me if I have it wrong.)
Anyway, one of the lines is pretty complete. [LV] has the
vast majority of ancestors identified going back 5 or 6 generations.  Sadly, the other individual is new to
genealogy and only six of his 16 2nd great grandparents
identified.  Family Tree DNA suggests
that this individual, I’ll call CMA, is a 2nd to 4th
cousin.  First cousins share
grandparents, and 2nd cousins share great grandparents.  I decided to create a new working tree and
called it atDNA tree.  I added CMA to
that notional tree and added his known ancestors. He has six of his eight great
grandparents identified, so I decided to determine that ancestor for him.
It took a while but I discovered his grandmother was the
child of a second marriage of his great grandmother.  I found her first name, Mary, and the surname
of her first husband quickly, but his first name and, more importantly, her
maiden name eluded me. 
I found the complete family in a census record that provided
names and birth years for the children of that first marriage.  I then traced those children and discovered
one of them died in 1937 and a copy of his death certificate was available on
line.  That death certificate identified
both his father’s first name and his mother’s surname.  Voilà – I now have the names for seven of CMA’s
eight great grandparent’s.  I checked LV’s
tree, nope, not a surname match.
RAF Tilstock Inside the Maze 2 by Broomhalla - Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.
RAF Tilstock – Inside the Maze 2 by Broomhalla
Courtesy: Deviant Art
For the eighth one, CMA has a first name, just not a
surname. So, that will be my next task. 
If I can identify the eighth person, his great grandmother Catherine, is
not related to LV, then I’ll know that none of us are second cousins and I continue
with second great grandparents to determine if we are third cousins.  
My “brick wall” of learning the identity of my biological
father now has a new entrance into it.  It may be the entrance into a new maze, but it
is an entrance.  Entering the maze is
part of the fun of genealogy.   Wish me
luck and hope I don’t get lost. 

————- DISCLAIMER ————-

Y-DNA Projects – 16 December 2014

Where I am at with my Y-DNA Projects, 16 December 2014

My Wife’s Y-DNA – Ancestry
My wife’s brother tested his Y-DNA with Ancestry.Com. Because they have quit supporting Y-DNA and because I haven’t done a transfer of the Ancestry results to Family Tree DNA, there are no new results. I’ve thought about transferring his results to Family Tree DNA however, it costs $58.00 and I’m feeling broke this month. Maybe next year. Also, I’m disillusioned by my Y-DNA results (see below), so maybe not next year either. We’ll see.

Family Tree DNA 

Join the Genealogy Revolution.
Search for your surname in the largest DNA database of its kind!

My Surname

Begins with
Ends with
Sounds like

My closest hit to my DNA (89% likelihood a common ancestor in 8 generations) still hasn’t answered. So, I emailed him again last month. Still no answer. No new matches either. Sigh….

My Friend T-Roy
I’ve been helping a friend, T-Roy, with his genealogy. In particular, his paternal side is lost. We know precious little regarding his grandfather and nothing before that. Because of the many disappointments I have had with Y-DNA testing, I am reluctant to recommend that path any longer. Maybe an atDNA test will provide results. There is such a large base if atDNA test subjects.

I’ve decided to break my blogs regarding DNA testing into two groups threads. This one regarding Y-DNA and another thread regarding atDNA. That way I can track and report statuses on each of the project areas better.

————Disclaimer ————-

My DNA Projects – 1 October 2014

Where I am at with my various DNA Projects, October 1st, 2014.


I was mightily disappointed when Ancestry quit support for their Y-DNA testing. I was surprised to see that my results and other information was still on Ancestry, but, of course, there were no new matches. 
My Y-DNA Lineage from Ancestry.Com
My plan to follow my closest DNA match from Ancestry up five generations and back down five generations didn’t yield any potential candidates for the “baby daddy.”  So, without any further Y-DNA matches possible through Ancestry it appears that further looking into that line is not going to be fruitful.

My Wife’s Y-DNA – Ancestry

My wife’s brother’s Ancestry Y-DNA test results are in the same state. No new matches because Ancestry has stopped supporting Y-DNA.  Another promising tool that has ended in a dead end.  
I definitely feel that I wasted some money with Ancestry on their Y-DNA tests.  As such, I will probably never recommend Ancestry DNA Testing of any kind because of my bad experience with due to their decision to stop support of  Y-DNA testing.  

Family Tree DNA

My haplogroup’s (R1b) migration from Family Tree DNA
My closest hit to my DNA (89% likelihood a common ancestor in 8 generations) still hasn’t answered. So, I emailed him again.  I did do a search for him on line and found a person with his name died a couple years ago.  Not looking good for the home team.  The email address for him in Family Tree DNA is pointing to another person, so it is still possible that I will be able to connect with a relative of his and possibly share information.  We will see. 
Again, no new connections on Family Tree DNA.
I did not do an  upgrade kit for my brother-in-law so there is nothing about any connections to him in Family Tree DNA.

My Friend T-Roy
I’ve been helping a friend, T-Roy, with his genealogy.  In particular his paternal side is lost.  We know precious little regarding his grandfather and nothing before that. A search for his great grandparents has yielded several potential candidates, however, none are clear.  I suggested that a Y-DNA test might help us find someone who is related and then be able to connect the dots from the potential candidates.  We’ll see.

My Autosomal Results


There was a new “3rd” cousin identified on Ancestry.  Because Ancestry doesn’t tell you anything about the match I have no idea if the match is on my mother’s line or my unknown paternal line. The individual, who is now my closest atDNA match didn’t relate their DNA to a tree so I have no idea about potential surnames.  I emailed the individual and hopefully she will share her tree and other information. There were several other new matches, however, they were all 4th cousin and greater.  I looked at any family trees that they have and didn’t see anything of interest.

23 & Me

23 and Me has been my most
successful DNA testing company that I have used so far. There are several
reasons for that. First, and foremost, I had both my mother and my DNA Tests
submitted to 23 & Me. That is a big help in determining where matches come
from. My initial plan was to use the tests to be able to discriminate matches
from my unknown father’s side from my known mother’s side of the family.

My mother’s matches:

Looking at my mother’s matches,
the closest match (excluding me) is Ronald M. with 2.3% Shared and 11 segments
in common. I was able to contact the individual and after comparing trees,
found that my mother and Ronald are second cousins, once removed. They share common
ancestors with my mom’s great grandparents (Henry & Marian (Sanford)
The next closest match to my
mother is Rick C. He and my mom share 1.61% and 10 segments. He responded to
some queries and we quickly determined his is a 1st cousin, twice
removed, from my mother. Their common ancestors are my mom’s grandparents
(Arthur D & Mary (Manning) Brown).
The 3rd closest match
is to M. C. this match was really great as it expanded our understand of a line
and broke through a “brick wall.” A review of M. C.’s tree yielded a surname
match on Blackhurst. Further investigation showed that M. C.’s ancestor, William
Stephen Blackhurst, had a sibling named Sarah who was born about the same date
as my mother’s grandmother. Another of the siblings and the father of William
and Sarah died in the same city, Albion, MI, that our Sarah lived. Further
correlation showed me that their William was, indeed, the sibling of our Sarah
and that through this connection we were able to extend the line back another
generation to our common ancestors, Stephen and Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst. 
My Ancestry Composition per 23 and Me

My matches:

On my paternal side, matches to me and not my
mother, are much less interesting. The closest match is a male with whom I
share only four segments (.91%). I sent him an introduction but he hasn’t
responded. I’ve sent a few other individuals introductions and received no
responses from most of them. The few that have responded I have looked at their
trees, but haven’t found anything of particular interest. When less than 1%
matches, investing much time isn’t very helpful.

My Aunt:

I recently sent a DNA kit to my half aunt (my
mother’s half sister). In a phone call last week, she indicated that she
received the kit and registered it. She said she’d have it in the mail later in
the week. They take several weeks to process so that should be interesting. With
some luck, she will have received some different segment from my mother and we
can those differences to potentially find other relatives.


As I write this website is
down.  This free site has a lot of
potential and is the only place that I know if that allows you to submit your
DNA results from multiple sites.  It is
an unaffiliated, volunteer, website and is in need of donations to maintain its
operation.  If you use it, please donate
to them so they can keep the site in operation.
They give instructions on how to export your
autosomal DNA test results from Ancestry.ComFamily Tree DNA, and 23&Me and
you import the results into their system. Although their takes a while to process
your data and populate into their system, don’t complain about the speed.  Again, did I say donate? 

The X Chromosome

I’ve recently been hearing a lot about X
chromosome matching.  This has really
gotten me excited and rejuvenated regarding using DNA as a method to find
I’m looking forward to using the GEDMatch
system to look at the X chromosome matches for my mom and my aunt (when her
results are received).  Because one of
the X chromosomes comes  from the mother
and one from the father, having both my mother and her half sister’s X results
will yield a clear look at their father’s (Clifford) X marker.  My mother and my aunt should match the X
completely because the X chromosome is passed down from a person’s father
relatively unchanged.  Thus, by testing
two females with the same father we can basically jump a generation.  Their father, Clifford, received his X from
his mother, Mary Elizabeth Manning which is a mix of her parents, approximately
50% from each.  Mary received her two X
chromosomes from each parent so Clifford has a 50-50 chance to have received
his X from his grandfather (John William Manning) and 50-50 chance from his
grandmother (Eliza Fannin). His grandfather received his X from his great
grandmother (Minerva Tolliver Mannin). If, as family legend says, Minerva was full-blooded
Cherokee, Because Clifford whould have received about 50% of his X DNA from
Minerva, we should be able to see some markers that are in common with Cherokee
people if she was, in fact, Cherokee. The other great thing about this test is
that Clifford should have also received about 25% of his X from Eliza’s parents
both of whom are unknown. It certainly has the potential to open up a whole new
area of investigation.
Using the X isn’t as clearly defining as using
the Y chromosome but it clearly can yield more definitive results than the other
22 chromosomes typically do. I am very excited about pursuing this direction. One of the really cool things about your X Chromosome inheritance is that the potential surnames follow a really clear pattern. In my case the surnames of interest are:



DNA is a helpful tool. It has the potential to break down some brick walls, as it did for my Blackhurst tree. However, it is not likely to magically solve a problem or give answers to difficult questions.
There are a number of utilities that can help understand the matches I’ll look at them in a future blog posting. In the meantime, I’ll continue my searching in this area.

————Disclaimer ————-