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Family Finder and the real world

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  • Family Finder and the real world

    I imagine we all have occasion to wonder about the validity and usefulness of Family Finder, so here’s a question to put the issue into a certain perspective.

    Consider the matches that Family Finder designates as 2nd-4th cousins. A fourth cousin is someone who shares a pair of great-great-great-grandparents with me. If the 2nd-4th cousin list is accurate, if I had reliable family trees for all of those matches, I should be able to sort them according to our shared ancestors.

    But I’m not able to do that.

    I have 3663 matches altogether. 162 are designated as 2nd-4th cousins, and 70 of those have posted family trees of varying lengths and degrees of accuracy. Since I’ve identified 26 of my 32 great-great-great-grandparents, on average, I should be able to assign about 56-57 of the family tree posters to the families of those great-great-great-grandparents. Of course, the match list probably doesn't spread evenly across my family tree, since the FTDNA clientele comprises a random sampling that reflects individuals' interests in genetic genealogy, so I don't expect to be able to allocate those 56-57 people evenly among the ancestors.

    However, I’ve been able to find connections, some fairly distant, with only 12 of my 2nd-4th cousin matches. Some of the remaining 58 have posted trees that go back farther than great-great-great-grandparents, but I still find no ancestors, or even surnames, in common.

    So I wonder how Family Finder can designate so many people as my 2nd-4th cousins when I can find no connections with them. Who are these people?

  • #2
    P.S. -- Also, if my 2nd-4th cousin matches are indeed related to me, you'd think that there would be groups of them who'd be related to each other, but there again, I'm unable to find those connections.

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    • #3
      Not meaning to be insensative but people can lie, records/docs can lie, BUT Dna never lies! We just have to know how to interpret it.

      Many trees have some mistakes, including mine, yours and others. There are probably more NPEs than we are willing to admit; and that can be anywhere along the lines, close in time, or distant.

      I had a good and close match once; and he had a great tree. The problem, it was NOT his tree because my tree upstream through my gg grandparents is solid. I messaged him to tell him that could not be his tree; and he said several other people had contacted him to tell him the same. He was shocked.

      And again today, I found a tree listing my grandMOTHER as a boy. Why? Because she was listed as a boy in the Census Record. Her name was Jemmie.

      These are just a few thoughts. Others here will have other points to ponder.
      Last edited by Biblioteque; 19th February 2020, 07:38 PM.

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      • #4
        I agree with the original poster on the 2nd-4th cousin issue. Most of them remain illusive even several years later. However, by making use of the free tools on GEDmatch, I have been able to sort my best matches, down to about 10-15 cM, into robust triangulation groups and to assign many of them as paternal or maternal based on how they match or do not match known relatives. In some cases, I have been able to discover the actual common ancestor for those triangulation groups. The method works, to the extent that you happen to find well-documented trees and when just the right person happens to turn up among your matches.

        The way the matches are sorted and displayed on GEDmatch has been very useful, far easier than anything I have found at FTDNA. However, one of the best tools, "People who match one or both of two kits", used to have a FREE option that gave me a relatively quick method of selecting matches that shared a specific segment. The key options for that method now require the $10 per month "Tier 1" membership at GEDmatch, which I rarely need now that essentially all of the triangulation groups have been established.

        My general conclusion is that many or even most of the 2nd-4th cousin matches are actually a bit farther back than they appear to be. I accept that, and spend my time working on the best matches that also have usable trees. New discoveries do occur, though not very often.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Biblioteque View Post

          I had a good and close match once; and he had a great tree. The problem, it was NOT his tree because my tree upstream through my gg grandparents is solid. I messaged him to tell him that could not be his tree; and he said several other people had contacted him to tell him the same. He was shocked.

          .
          So did he just find a tree online that looked good and take it by mistake, or is he not who he thought he was?

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          • #6
            He was, IMHO, not who he thought he was. I never got back to him. I have over 90,000 thousand matches at that big company, so I just keep moving on.... LOL

            I also had another situation like that, meaning it was a very close match and it was obvious the tree he published did not go with his dna. I messaged the woman who was administering the account; and she said, "Oh, yes, that was HER tree, but the DNA belonged to her son-in-law. What! Well, duh, and double-duh, guess she did not "get the memo." LOL

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