Triangulate to find more meaningful matches using both Family Tree DNA and 23andMe

Updated May 8, 2013 with new 23andMe website navigation and match figures:

The allure and potential of the latest generation of autosomal DNA testing is great for genealogists.  It instantly builds your family tree for you!  Uh, just joking.  But there are several real benefits of this type of DNA test:

  • it helps you confirm genealogical paper trails across ALL of your family lines (not just the paternal and maternal lines as yDNA and mtDNA tests do)
  • it helps you expand your family trees by finding "genetic cousins" and other relatives (for the sake of simplicity, I'll call these people Matches in this write-up)
  • it works especially well for the most recent five or so generations
  • both men and women can take the test
  • it only requires 6 pints of your blood (sorry, I couldn't resist.  No, the test doesn't involve blood, just spit)

Most of us who have taken Family Tree DNA's Family Finder test or 23andMe's DNA Relatives test have lots of Matches to work with.  Those Matches are typically lots of potential cousins that you may be able to connect with and share information in order to help each other both validate and expand your family trees.  So what's the problem?

Strangely, it's often that there are lots of Matches to work with.

I've tested with both companies, and I have 302 Family Finder Matches and 1,021 DNA Relatives Matches!  So, what's a decent strategy for narrowing this large number down to something more manageable?  Or at least for prioritizing the list so as to not get buyer's remorse after lots of non-responses and even more unfound connections.  And how can both company's test results be used together to find more Meaningful Matches?

Here's what I've done...

Abraham Lincoln or Enloe?

And the Abe Lincoln paternity stories continue:

Full disclosure: I am the 6th great grandson of the North Carolina Abraham Enloe from the article. The Lincoln-Enloe tradition certainly has been passed down through my family line, and while intriguing and even somewhat compelling, I've never seen enough credible evidence to plant my flag in the Enloe camp.

Visited Merchant's House Museum in NYC today

Its the best-preserved 19th-century house in Manhattan. They're also currently exhibiting Civil War wound photos from the Burns Collection (not quite as gruesome as it sounds, yet quite moving).  I recommend the museum; Google the museum for more info. 

Updated: AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search, version 1.1

This is an update to my original post, "Does this Google Custom Search help find records about your ancestors?"

You may recall that I built the AncestorSearch form as a timesaver for my own genealogical web searches, and I decided to share it on my website in case others find it useful too.  (As a reminder, the AncestorSearch form performs a Google search that is optimized for finding web pages mentioning ancestors by making use of  Google search techniques including quoted phrases, checking both firstname lastname, and lastname firstname order, placing the "OR" statements and parenthesis in the right places, and so on.)
I appreciate all the feedback I've received on the usefulness of my search form from many users!  (And in fact, in the last few weeks, I've extended two more branches of my family tree back into the 1700s using my search form.  I found web pages with historical references to my ancestors that evidently had been hidden in heaps of irrelevant standard Google search results).

Anyway, based on feedback from users, I've made a couple of enhancements