My Genealogical DNA Test Experience Part 2 – My First Look at the Matches

My test arrived after about 10 days and it took me a few days to open and complete it, because I was a bit nervous.  I watched a Youtube video on how to do it which helped.  As it happened, all went smoothly.  I sent the test in but must have put something dicey on the customs declaration because they did not receive it for five weeks.  However, the day came when the order history showed that it had been received, then batched.  It was going to take 5-7 weeks to process.

At about this time I began to read the forum posts.  Initially I intended to post in them, but I found several message threads where someone had been rather cutting in response to what seemed like an innocent question.  I decided I didn’t want that to happen to me so I simply read through, hoping to gain hints.

The process time dropped to 4-6 weeks, then 3-5, then suddenly it was there three weeks early!  I received a very brief email saying I had matches. I logged in and found that my Family Finder results were there, and the MTDNA had some time to process yet.

At first, it all looked quite straightforward.  I clicked on ‘Matches’ and it took me to them.  I had 21 pages of them!  I scrolled through from page to page, becoming familiar with the format, with the way to view my matches’ profiles, ancestor names and gedcoms.  Then I discovered the chromosome browser and spent some time acquainting myself with 22 chromosomes plus an X chromosome.  It was all very pretty and very satisfying.  However, I then settled down to view the connection.  This was when the confusion began.

Across 21 pages of matches, only about half of them had surnames listed and about a quarter had gedcoms.  Of course, I first concentrated on them.  I began viewing gedcoms in search of my ancestor names.  Nobody had them.

Nobody!  Not a common name, not a common location – nothing even close.  A lot of them were in the United States and the one common factor was the states of North Carolina and Virginia.  This was a location which they shared with each other, not with me.  I had NO connection that I knew of with the United States, certainly not within the last 5-6 generations.  However, nobody shared a surname. I found this perplexing but guessed that a sister of some long-distant ancestor of mine had married someone I hadn’t discovered and emigrated to the United States.  It made sense.  It still makes some sense. That must have happened for some of my ancestors.

Then I read the helpful book which FTDNA provides and settled in for a more informed look through.  I had four matches at 2nd-4th cousin level, one of which was a nice 93 cM total with a few longish segments.  This was my closest match.  Longest block was 34 cM.  I’ll call him John Samuelson which is a very long way from his real name. He provided a gedcom in which I found a single name which matched my ancestors.  Of course, one name is all you need and this one was a brickwall so I was rather excited.

Just to be clear, I will not be using a single real name in this blog for my matches or other living people – but the long-deceased ancestor names will be accurate.

My second match was Jennifer Harrison with a distance of 47.6 cM and longest block 21 cM. No details provided in either profile or ancestor surnames, and no gedcom.

Next was Cecilia Williams, matching with 54 cM and longest block 18 cM.  No details provided but a photograph attached and she looked friendly.

Last was Jacqueline Rhodes, we shared 49 cM with longest block 16.5 cM.  Once again, no details provided.

So I did as was recommended and emailed them all.

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