Tuesday, December 29, 2020

TUESDAY’S TIPS ~ New cousin connections made from watching a 10 minute video

No matter how long we have been researching our ancestors, we are always learning something new.  Whether we attend classes at our local society, read any of the wonderful blogs by my fellow bloggers (there are over 3,000 of them), get a tip from a fellow genealogist, watch webinars, learn from Facebook groups,  or attend a conference in person (when that becomes possible again).  There is no shortage of learning opportunities.

I decided to watch a quick 10 minute video offered by Legacy (the software program I’ve used for years).  This was a short tutorial about how to make connections on the 23&Me website for DNA.

While my DNA and my mother’s are on that site, as we both tested there.  I’ll admit to not using the site very often (I use the Ancestry DNA site all the time).  All of us have our favorites.  I’ve tested or have results uploaded to all the major DNA sites.

The tutorial I watched was called Connection Requests at 23andMe by Michelle Leonard M.A., PgCert.  As I said before it is 10 minutes long and rated as Beginner.  Click here for a link to the video. 

After watching it, I went right to 23 & Me and began inviting some of my matches to share their DNA with me.  Now, we all know that sending any kind of message to someone on any of the sites is a “longshot.”  Will they respond?  Did they even receive my message? The chances of getting a response are low (I speak from experience and information from others).  But, I had not really sent requests for more than a handful of matches on 23 & Me over the past 7-8 years.

I wanted to try and make contact with some of the people in the DNA tree automatically built on the website.  Knowing that some of the suggestions I’ve seen on that tree are quite accurate and others are not.  I was going for the low hanging fruit.  These are the people at the bottom of the tree created using my DNA.  Here is an image showing how these people appear in the automatically created tree.

(Please click on any image to enlarge it) I have blurred the names for privacy 

I sent 9 requests to connect, using the suggestions from the video.  As suggested I kept it simple, no attached message, just a request to share DNA. This allows me to see the matches we share in common and to view the chromosome browser.  Viewing the chromosome browser allows me to paint that match into DNA Painter.

How many would you expect to hear back from?  I thought I’d be very fortunate if one person responded. 

SURPRISE!  I heard back from 3, accepting my invitation to share.  They all responded within a day. None of the other 6 have responded...yet.

In the past few days I’ve been communicating with all 3 of those matches and have new cousins to add to my tree, as a result. 

As a matter of fact I was so excited to figure out the match between me and a match named Cheryl, that I spent 4 hours building a tree on Ancestry, for her family.  She only gave me 2 names to go on, Edward Riggs and Audrey Gerkin.  No dates, no places.  Using Blaine Bettinger’s Quick & Dirty trees idea, I began building.  I used obituaries, census records, birth, marriage and death records to try and build this tree back several generations.  We’ve all seen CeCe Moore and others go through this process to find unknown parentage and criminal suspects.  I’ve built several of these kinds of trees before, but cannot claim much success. 

NOTE:  When you do build a Q&D tree it should be private AND UNsearchable. You don’t want anyone else to use it or take items from it since you are not conducting exhaustive research on each person and do not want to proliferate errors.

Within four hours of starting that Q&D tree, at 10:59 p.m. I located who I believed to be our Most Recent Common Ancestor!  WOW! I was excited and very proud of myself. 

Now what?  Time to go down the descendant line from that common ancestor and really look closely to make sure I’m correct.  This is where you slow down and look at all the records as in our regular, due diligence, research.

What was my conclusion?  I was right on the money.  Cheryl and I share my 3rd great grandparents, Monson THORP & Lany COOPER.  They are my 3rd and her 4th great grandparents.  She's a generation younger than I am.  I also share DNA with her mother, a woman who’s name I have seen numerous times on various DNA sites and had no idea how we connected…..until now. 

Here is an image of that Q&D tree

Now, Cheryl and I are talking back & forth and she told her mother about our discovery. There are things they didn’t know about some of the lines I have information about.  We will talk more after the new year and they may have some photos and other information for me.  I will gladly share anything I have with them.

On another note. One of the other matches and I have also been in touch and she actually lives in Detroit.  We are also connected through the Thorp line, but via another route.  She has all her parent’s family research and lots of information.  We also plan to talk after the new year.

ALL of this from a 10 minute video.  Never stop learning and never stop looking. 

If you have any comments or you’ve had a similar experience, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2020   Diane Gould Hall 



  1. Great job Diane! Yes, we should never stop learning and trying out those new ideas. I'll need to watch the video and try this with some of my matches on 23 & Me. Thanks Legacy for the video!


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.