Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees ! You are so excited, your Ancestry DNA results have arrived online, you click to see matches and are thrilled to find a whole list of closely related cousins. BUT wait a few have their family trees attached, some have a tree consisting of less than ten people and some, horror of horrors, have nothing. Never mind you think, I’ll just email and politely ask if they wish to swap research – you do just that and hear nothing – zilch !
Does this sound familiar? I don’t wish to put anyone off of getting their DNA tested, as readers of my posts will know I am a great enthusiast of DNA testing and believe it is a very valuable tool in the genealogists tool box. BUT (there is that but again!) it can very frustrating to want contact with a DNA match to find that you get zero response to your email and they haven’t attached a tree to their results. Never fear, help is at hand, let me show you how you can work through a method of discovering if the match does in fact have a tree on Ancestry and how you can try another route to contacting them.
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Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees ! – reasons for no tree and no email reply
Firstly I want to explain the reasons why there aren’t trees attached to some DNA results and why matches may not respond to an email sent via the DNA page.
When you get your Ancestry DNA kit, you do your spitting into the tube (so not like the tv police programmes!) you then are invited to register and attach a tree to the results. For various reasons your DNA match without a tree attach has skipped this part. It may be they bought or were given a kit and only want to know their ethnic breakdown, it may be that they didn’t have a tree with Ancestry at that time and haven’t worked out how to attach one once they got their results, it may be that they are adopted and are hoping that they will make contact with birth family so have no tree to put online. There are going to be a lot of reasons.
If you have sent off an email and got no reply, again there can be a number of reasons why you haven’t had a response. It may be they just aren’t interested as they simply wanted to know their ethnicity and are impolite enough to ignore your email, it may be, I have had a couple of these, that the email got sent to the junk folder and wasn’t discovered for months. I have heard that some matches haven’t realised that they can respond to emails and get to see their results without have to pay for a subscription so have ignored the email. The reasons are going to be many and varied.
Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees ! – how to check if there is a tree hidden away
Here is a method for making sure that there really isn’t a tree on Ancestry and you just aren’t seeing it. The problem is that you have to make a conscience decision to attach a tree at the time of registering your test tube before you send it off. Plus you can only attach the results to one tree.
I have my family split into four trees (long story why, I’ll write about it some day) plus I have a tree for my grandson showing both sides of the family and a one name study tree. So my dilemma was which tree to attach, I solved it by creating a new tree (Again I’ll write another post about how this is turning out to be a very good thing to do). You can attach a tree at a later date, but it would seem that many people aren’t aware of this.
Here is a step by step method to check if your target match has a tree online on Ancestry, but it simply isn’t connected up. Do send the match an email first as if they response you don’t need to waste time working through this system.
First Stage – Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees !
1 Go to your Ancestry DNA page and click on the green button “View All DNA Matches”
2 Chose which match without a tree you wish to check out and click on “View Match”. This is your target match.
3 If they do have a tree on Ancestry, but not attached to their DNA then there will be a box on bottom left hand side “Select A Tree To Preview”
4 A drop down box will appear and you can click on a tree title. Click on the black “View Full Tree” button on the right hand side
Second Stage – Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees !
1 If you find there are no trees using the above method or the trees have only a few names then return to the list of all your DNA matches list.
2 Click on the green “View Match” button again
3 Click on the black “Shared Matches” button. This will bring up a list of all other matches on the DNA database who share DNA links with you and your traget match.
4 If there is a list of matches, work down the list and look for a match that has a tree with a good number of people on it.
5 Contact the person who has the tree online ask if they wish to swap research and also ask if they have had any contact with your target match. It may be that the person with the tree is a more distant match, but this doesn’t matter. If the tree person has had contact they may have a private email address for your target and be willing to email them and ask them to contact you.
6 You could contact all the matches without trees asking them the same as step 5, but I suggest you try the matches with trees first.
Third Stage – Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees !
1 If stages 1 and 2 have failed then try this third stage.
2 Note the name that the match has given when registering their DNA test tube. It may be an actual name, it may be a user name, it may be initials or whatever.
3 Go to the Ancestry Home Page and click on the “Search” button on the top black bar. A drop down menu will appear, click on “member Directory”.
4 Enter whatever your target match has attached to their DNA result. Click the orange “Search” button.
5 If the name used is unusual then you may get only one result or you may get a list. If your target match has a photo attached to their DNA results then it is an easy matter to identify them.
6 Create a message asking if the person is the DNA match with you and if they are then would they like to swap research. This can then be sent via Ancestry to all those on your list. I also ask if they would kindly reply if they don’t wish to swap research saying if this is so then I won’t bother them again or if they aren’t the match then could they let me know so that I can eliminate them from my list. I find this works well. Using stage 3 you are checking out those people who don’t have trees on Ancestry and also those who may have a subscription account and a guest account with Ancestry. The DNA can be attached to the guest account whilst the subscription account is used for research. Don’t ask me why people would do this, but apparently they do!
Fourth Stage – Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees !
If stages 1, 2 and 3 have failed then then you could try searching social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc, using the name/user name given on the DNA match. The name/user name would need to be fairly unusual for this to work, however you may have success as people often use one user name for a number of accounts. However bear in mind that people are becoming more aware of their privacy and social media and some of those you message might see your actions as stalking – not the actions of a keen genealogist!
Summary – Ancestry DNA – finding hidden trees !
I hope you find this helpful, I and several friends have used stages 1, 2 and 3 with success, I have heard that stage 4 has been used and been successful, but I don’t know the people personally.
One suggestion I do have for you is not to contact too many people at once as you can easily get overwhelmed with replies and requests for research swaps. I work with not more than 3 DNA matches at a time and I warn them that I am busy blogging a lot of the time and ask them to be very patience! So far all my matches have become readers of MadAboutGenealogy !
Have fun with connecting with your DNA matches and I hope you are as successful as I have been with finding cousins and swapping information, images and genealogy friendship.
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