Yesterday I read Roberta Estes’ blog post on ThruLines, which you can read here. It’s amazing how quickly she can research and walk you through new DNA tools that come to light! I adopted my own version of her spreadsheet, a snippet of which you can find on that same blog post.
Rather than focus on my own ThruLines, I focused on my mother’s ThruLines. Here is the tree her DNA is linked to. Note that I have not done any work on Mom’s paternal side (Italian lines) — but I do have the tree out to her 4 Italian great-grandparents. I feel confident about Maria Bolognesi’s parents, and about Giuseppe Diamantini’s father. The name Maddelena Serafini comes from another branch of the family, without attendant documentation, so it may or may not be correct.
Below is a screenshot of Mom’s closest ancestors who have ThruLines. Note that Maria Bolognesi, her paternal grandmother, is missing. I have no idea why. Mom’s closest match at Ancestry — after my sibling and I — is her paternal 1st cousin, who would likely share DNA with mom from both the Diamantini line AND the Bolognesi line.
Speculation on my part as to why Maria Bolognesi is missing is that there are 2 other DNA matches to Mom and her paternal 1st cousin (alias “Elena”) who match them on the Diamantini side. Except for Mom’s siblings (who have not tested) and “Elena’s” sibs (who also haven’t tested), no other Bolognesi kin is known to be in the U.S. Perhaps this is why Ancestry ThruLines are focusing on the Diamantini side??
Another possibility — again, this is speculation on my part — is that my mom and “Elena” share a relatively low amount of DNA (619 cM) for full-blooded first cousins. The paperwork (birth certificates, marriage licenses, family tradition, family resemblances, etc.) indicates full first cousins, but Ancestry is treating them as half 1st cousins, presumably because of the amount of DNA shared (?). Could that be why Ancestry has deemed them half 1st cousins, and thus ignored their shared grandmother? (Both have the grandmother in their trees, so it’s not a lack of matching, as far as I can tell.)
ThruLines links Mom’s Serafini line specifically to one Ancestry member tree. This particular member either has not done a DNA test, or simply does not match Mom at all. However, this person has over 400 Serafini persons in their tree; it appears the tree includes all the Serafini families from one specific community in the Abruzzo region of Italy. (Abruzzo borders the Adriatic Sea, and is just south of the Marche region, which is where my known Italian ancestors are from, and where known kin is living now.)
This Ancestry member’s tree with 400+ Serafini persons in it was a source tree for the tree created by the wife of a known second cousin to Mom on Mom’s Diamantini line. No other sources (such as baptismal records, marriage records, censuses, etc.) are shown in either tree. All 3 trees, though — meaning Mom’s, the 400+ Serafini tree, and the 2nd cousin’s wife’s tree — have a “Maddelena Serafini”. (She is married to someone different in each tree.)
The Abruzzo region connection with Serafini is intriguing; however, there is nothing else to go on, given no sources to review and validate for all of these names.
Ancestry ThruLines, though, provides Mom with 42 potential new ancestors, 20 of whom are supposedly on her Serafini line (as shown below in the screenshot of Excel). I say “no DNA matches on Ancestry to this line” referring to the fact that the trees Ancestry used to determine these 20 potential ancestors are trees of members who share no DNA with my mother.
Below is the screenshot for how I broke out Mom’s 254 possible ancestors through the 7th generation (through 5th great-grandparents). Yes, her tree has a lot of blanks in it; 201 ancestors are not in her tree at all. The bulk of those, though, are on her father’s Italian side. By contrast, her most complete line is her 2nd great-grandfather Copple’s line, with only 5 persons missing from the tree.
So, the numbers that truly matter relate to the 53 ancestors who are in her tree. Note that 20 ancestors have no known DNA matches in Ancestry; they are recently immigrated (late 1870’s) from Denmark — now Germany — and had small families with no living descendants today except for Mom, her kids and her grandkids.
The 3 missing ancestors are her paternal grandmother and parents of that grandmother. Claus Clausen, Mom’s 4th great-grandfather and in her tree, was replaced by a Claus Clausen from a tree whose owner is not a DNA match. Mary Addams in Mom’s tree was also replaced with another Ancestry member’s Mary Addams. Mary was the likely stepmother of Mom’s direct ancestor, James Englehart, having married Samuel Englehart in Guernsey County, Ohio, some 5 years after James was born in Pennsylvania.
Regardless of her genetic relationship to us, Mary Addams was already in Mom’s tree, so it’s not clear why she was ignored in favor of someone else’s tree.
The 28 ancestors in Mom’s tree with DNA-match descendants are primarily the ancestors who have been in the United States the longest, since at least 1730 in some cases, to the best of my knowledge. All of them are ancestors of my mother’s maternal grandmother, Hazel (Englehart) Holst. Hazel’s paternal grandmother, Hannah (Hill) Englehart, and Hazel’s maternal grandfather, Ben Franklin Copple, have the most-complete branches on Mom’s tree. They are indicated by the blue check marks.
Many of these DNA matches also currently show up in my mom’s DNA circles for some of these same ancestors. A number of the relationships I feel fairly confident about, having done my own documentation of the relationships involved.
However, some of the trees used in these ThruLines I believe are incorrect — especially regarding Philip Copple, Mom’s 4th great granddad, who is, in many Ancestry trees, mixed up with his cousin Philip. Both had daughters named Catherine, and named Margaret. Assignment of the daughters to the fathers is, frankly, a mess! (And it was a mess showing up in Shaky Leaf hints as well as the Philip Copple circle.)
The bottom line is that I see a flood of Serafini potential ancestors, which would be awesome if I actually do some Italian research and trace my (reported) Serafini line. Maybe that 400+ Serafini tree does have accurate — if undocumented — information.
I also know I cannot trust ThruLines any more than I trusted DNA circles or shaky leaf Shared Ancestor Hints.
And I suspect I will find similar issues when I explore my dad’s ThruLines shortly.
All that said, I saved the best for last…. thank to ThruLines, I just found out that possibly one more of Jacob Copple’s 7 children (who lived to adulthood and had descendants) may actually have a descendant alive today who also DNA-tested and matches Mom!! I will be working to validate this match’s tree if I cannot connect with the person. (See below.) I had thought Milton’s descendants were all deceased by the 1940’s. If this proves out, 6 of the 7 children who had descendants (and 6 of 9 who lived to adulthood) not only tested but match Mom.
This matters to me because Libby Copple was my original brick wall; oral history indicated she was a “Copple”. It has only been with DNA testing that her likely father, Ben, and his family have been revealed.