Copples in the News — Sam and Libby get married

This is the wedding notice of my great-great grandparents, Samuel Adams Englehart and Libby Copple (here listed as Libby Jewell). I posted about Sam here. He was 26 in December 1878 when he married Libby Jewell at the home of her adoptive mother, Mrs. Polly Esther (Keeler) (Jewell) (Fike) Rose.

Libby was 17 years old on her wedding day. She was born in Mendocino County, California in 1861 to Ben Franklin Copple and his wife Phoebe (Harvey) Copple, who died in childbirth or very soon after Libby was born. But that’s a story for another post.

“Married: Englehart-Jewell,” Healdsburg Enterprise (Healdsburg, California), 26 Dec 1878, pg 2, col 1; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, ( : accessed 3 Sep 2020).

Ancestry ThruLines: Analysis of my mom’s lines

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.


Cite/link to this post: Cathy M. Dempsey, “Ancestry ThruLines: Analysis of my mom’s lines” Genes and Roots, posted 12 Mar 2019 ( : accessed (date)).


Who is the Mother of Samuel Englehart?


Sam Englehart, my great-great grandfather

Samuel A Englehart was born in March 1852 (or possibly 1853) in Missouri, likely in Jasper County, and traveled with his family to California in 1856.  The family settled in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, and Sam lived out the rest of his life there, growing up, getting married in December 1878 and raising a family, and finally dying in November 1925[1].  He gave his age as 26 on his marriage record, dated 22 December 1878.[2]  His daughter Hazel gave his birthdate as 21 March 1852 for his death certificate[3] and his age at death as 73 in various obituaries[4], which, for a November 1925 death, would correspond to an 1852 birth date.  However, other records (discussed below) seem to imply an 1853 birth date.  No document yet found names his mother, who reportedly died on the California Trail.[5]  However, it is very likely his mother was Hannah Hill, (born circa 1828 – died 1856) whom his father James married in Guernsey County, Ohio, in 1846.[6]

James, the Probable Father of Sam

After Sam’s father James Englehart died on 29 March 1890, an obituary was published in the Sonoma County Tribune, which gave a brief biography of James’ life and named his 3 surviving children: Sam, his older sister Eliza, and his older brother, Andrew.  James’ late wife is not mentioned.[7]

The obituary’s biographical information was likely provided to the Sonoma County Tribune by one of James’ children, probably Sam or his sister Eliza.  Other salient facts in the obituary include:

  • Born in Pennsylvania, 17 June 1821
  • When young, moved to Ohio, and lived there until 1848.
  • Moved to Missouri in 1848, remaining there 8 years until 1856.
  • 1856 went west to California, settling in Healdsburg

Therefore, we could expect to find James Englehart in the Healdsburg area for the 1880, 1870 and 1860 census enumerations, and somewhere in Missouri for the 1850 census enumeration, when he would have been 28 years old, and quite likely already married.  He was either married in Missouri or in Ohio.

James Englehart died intestate, and in the Decree of Distribution of the Estate on 26 Jan 1891, the administrator, Joseph Winder, names James’ three surviving children:[8] Andrew Allison Englehart, Samuel Adams Englehart, and Mrs. Eliza Ellen Winder[9].  The property inherited by and distributed to the three children is also listed, specifically land: the South half of the Southwest Quarter of Section 15, the Northeast quarter of the Northeast Quarter of Section 21, and the Northwest quarter of the Northwest Quarter of Section 22, all within Township 9 North, Range 11 West of the Mt. Diablo Meridian.  This acreage is the same land that Sam sold to his father on 27 Nov 1886.[10]  Sam originally received this land on 10 October 1882, under the Homestead Act of 1862.[11]

On the same day Sam sold his homestead land to James, James in turn sold a lot in the town of Healdsburg to Sam.[12]  The lot sold to Sam was adjacent to a lot James deeded also on the same day to his daughter Eliza Ellen Winder [13].  In deeding the lot to Eliza Ellen, James specifically refers to her as his daughter, giving her the land “in consideration of the love and affection which [James] bears for [Eliza Ellen]”.

Census Enumerations for the James Englehart household

Turning to the census enumerations for the period of 1850-1880, can we link Samuel, Eliza Ellen and Andrew with James Englehart, and potentially a wife? Sam’s relationship to James (as James’ son) is identified in the 1880 census enumeration[14].  While the informant for this census is not known – it could be James, Sam, or Sam’s wife Libbie — the 1880 census is the only document yet found which states the relationship between Sam and James, and was created during James’ lifetime.

The information provided for James correlates with his obituary; he was listed as being born in Pennsylvania, and was 58 years old, which is correct for a June 1 enumeration date if he was born on June 17.  He was also listed as widowed.

1850 Census[15] 1860 Census[16] 1870 Census[17] 1880 Census
James Englehart, 28, Penn James Englehart, 37, Penn James Englehart, 49, Ohio Jas. Englehart, 58, Penn. Widowed.
Hannah Englehart, 22, Ohio
Andrew Englehart, 2, Ohio Andrew Englehart, 13, Ohio Andrew Englehart, 22, Ohio
Eliza E, 10, Missouri Eliza E, 19, Missouri
Samuel A, 7, Missouri Samuel A, 17, Missouri Sam A., 27, Missouri.  Son
John E R, 5, Missouri
Libbie, 18, Calif., dau-in-law


In 1870, the census taker arrived at the house on 15 July.  James was already 49 at that point, and his birthplace is given as Ohio – where he did reportedly live – so it is possible one of his children provided the information on his behalf.  Also on this census, the 3 children named in the probate decree are residing with James. Sam, at age 17, was exactly 10 years younger than in 1880, and very likely to be the same person as the Sam who resided in the James Englehart household in 1880.

In 1860, the information provided to the census taker is in line with the family information as enumerated in 1870.  There is a fourth child, John, 5 years old and born in Missouri, who was not enumerated in later censuses.  He died in December 1865, at the age of 10, and is buried in Healdsburg’s Oak Mound Cemetery, where his gravestone inscriptions states he is the “son of Jas. & Hannah Englehart”.[18]  Sam was listed as aged 7, which corresponds to an 1853 birthdate, if he was born in March (as his daughter Hazel Holst stated in his obituary).  Sam consistently aged by 10 years for the two censuses following 1860. If he (or his father)  provided the information, it is inconsistent with Sam’s marriage record, and the information provided by his daughter Hazel Holst after his death, in that it implies an 1853 birth year.

Finally, in 1850, the James Englehart household consisted of James and Hannah, as well as a 2 year old child Andrew, almost certainly the Andrew enumerated with James in 1860 and 1870, as well as named as surviving heir and child of James in the probate distribution decree.  A marriage record for James Englehart and Hannah Hill, married 10 December 1846, was found in Guernsey County, Ohio.[19] This marriage date is in line with a first child being born sometime in 1848 (month unknown) and Andrew Allison Englehart appears to be that first child.

Summing up with a compilation of the stated and implied relationships of Sam and his siblings to James and to Hannah, the wife of James, in the chart below points to the likelihood that Hannah (Hill) Englehart, born circa 1828 in Ohio, and who died on the trip out to California in 1856, was the mother of all of James’ children.


Child’s Name Relationship to James Relationship to Hannah, wife of James
Andrew Allison Englehart Named as James’ child in James probate decree.  Sibling relationship with Eliza and Sam implied.


Is in the James Englehart household from 1850 through 1870.

Resided with Hannah and James in 1850 per the census.

Hannah, as wife of James, is the implied mother of Andrew.


Eliza Ellen (Englehart) Winder Named as James’ daughter in 27 Nov 1886 deed.  (James the likely informant.)

Named as James’ child in James probate decree. Sibling relationship with Andrew and Sam implied.


Is in the James Englehart household in 1860 and 1870.



No document found directly associating her with Hannah, but she lived with Andrew, who was enumerated with Hannah in 1850, and also with John, whose gravestone states he is son of James and Hannah.
Samuel Adams Englehart Named as James’ son in 1880 census.  (James the possible informant.)


Named as James’ child in James probate decree.  Sibling relationship with Andrew and Eliza implied.


Is in the James Englehart household for the census year 1850 through 1880.



No document found directly associating him with Hannah, but he lived with Andrew, who was enumerated with Hannah in 1850, and also with John, whose gravestone states he is son of James and Hannah.

Implied sibling relationship with Eliza per her obituary; information likely provided by Sam himself.[20]


John E Englehart Named as James’ son on his gravestone.


In same household in 1860 with James, and the 3 children named as James’ children in probate in 1891.


Named as Hannah’s son on his gravestone.



In conclusion, Sam was named as James’ son in the 1880 census, and in James’ probate, and was linked with James particularly in census records and land records. He was also linked with Eliza Ellen (Englehart) Winder, named as James’s daughter, throughout his life.  As stated in his obituary, his sister was the “late Mrs. David [sic] Winder” and Sam lived on the Winder property in the last few years of his life, and Eliza Ellen deeded the property to him just before she died.[21]  Reference to this deed was found in a Healdsburg newspaper online.[22] However, Sonoma County deeds after 1901 are not online, and would have to be accessed in Santa Rosa, California.  The deed would be worth reviewing on a future research trip to see if Eliza Ellen names Sam as her brother.

Given that James Englehart married Hannah Hill, and their youngest child John is identified as a son of James and Hannah, and their oldest child Andrew was found in the household with James and Hannah in 1850, and Eliza Ellen was identified as James’ daughter during his life in conveying property to her, and Sam was named as James’ son in the 1880 census enumeration, it is likely that the mother of Sam was James’ wife, Hannah (Hill) Englehart.

[1] “Pioneer Dies After Seventy Years Here, ” Healdsburg Tribune (Healdsburg, California), 7 November 1925, page 1, column 6; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, ( : accessed 30 October 2018).

[2] Sonoma County, California, Marriage records, Volume F, page 205, Sam Englehart and Libbie Jewell, 22 Dec 1878; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), image 20; citing FHL microfilm 1,031,224.

[3] Sonoma County, California, death certificate state file no. 25-053875, Samuel A. Englehart (6 November 1925), informant Hazel Holst; Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder, Santa Rosa.

[4] “Sam Englehardt Resident for 70 Years, Crosses, ” Sotoyome Scimitar (Healdsburg, California), 7 November 1925, page 1, column 6; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, ( : accessed 30 October 2018).

[5] “Pioneer Local Woman is Dead, ” Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar  (Healdsburg, California), 11 March 1920, page 6, column 3; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, ( : accessed 30 October 2018).

[6] Guernsey County, Ohio, Marriage records, Volume D 1844-1864, page 100, item 5033, James Englehart and Hannah Hill, 10 December 1846; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), image 83; citing FHL microfilm 894,936.

[7] “Obituary – James Englehart, ” Sonoma County Tribune (Healdsburg, California), 5 April 1890, page 3, column 6.

[8] Sonoma County, California, Probate Minutes [of] Superior Court, volume 14, p. 44-47, Decree of Distribution of Estate of James Englehart, 26 January 1891; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), images 350-351; citing FHL microfilm 1,428,306.

[9] Sonoma County, California, Marriage records, Volume F, page 205, Joseph Winder and Eliza Ellen Englehart, 15 Sep 1878; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), image 638; citing FHL microfilm 1,031,223.

[10] Sonoma County, California, Deeds 102:581-582, Sam Englehart to James Englehart, 27 November 1886; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), images 833-834; citing FHL microfilm 1,420,591.

[11] Samuel A. Englehart (Sonoma County) homestead file, final certificate no. 8307, San Francisco, California, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; photocopy of file in possession of Cathy Dempsey; Record Group 49: Records of the Bureau of Land Management; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[12] Sonoma County, California, Deeds 102:583-584, James Englehart to Sam Englehart, 27 November 1886; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), images 833-834; citing FHL microfilm 1,420,591.

[13] Sonoma County, California, Deeds 108:81-82, James Englehart to Eliza Ellen Winder, 27 November 1886; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), images 693-694; citing FHL microfilm 1,420,597.

[14] 1880 U.S. census, Sonoma County, California, population schedule, Enumeration District 128, Healdsburg, page 1A, (stamped) page 183, dwelling 8, family 8, Jas. Englehart household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 October 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T9, roll 84.

[15] 1850 U.S. census, Jasper County, Missouri, population schedule, District 41, page 53 (penned), page 385 (stamped), dwelling 354, no family number, James Englehart household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 October 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication M432, roll 402.

[16] 1860 U.S. census, Sonoma County, California, population schedule, Mendocino Township, page 80 (penned), page 467 (stamped), dwelling 640, family 640, James Englehart household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 October 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication M653, roll 69.

[17] 1870 U.S. census, Sonoma County, California, population schedule, Healdsburg, Mendocino Township, page 20 (penned), dwelling 175, family 161, James Englehart household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 October 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication M593, roll 91.

[18] Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images ( : accessed 29 October 2018), memorial 43428210, John E Englehart (1855- 1865), Oak Mound Cemetery, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California; gravestone photograph by Susan Faught.

[19] Guernsey County, Ohio, Marriage records, Volume D 1844-1864, page 100, item 5033, James Englehart and Hannah Hill, 10 December 1846; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2018), image 83; citing FHL microfilm 894,936.

[20] “Pioneer Local Woman is Dead,” Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, 11 March 1920, page 6, col. 3.

[21] “Sam Englehardt Crosses, ” Sotoyome Scimitar, 7 November 1925, page 6, col. 1.

[22] “Deeds, ” Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California), 17 March 1920, page 12, column 2; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, ( : accessed 30 October 2018).

Clustering your Ancestry DNA matches with Excel (and DNAGedcom)

There are more and more good visualization tools available for clustering your DNA matches with the intent of discovering a new ancestor.  Recently I’ve been using a clustering tool created by Evert-Jan Blom at Genetic Affairs (more on that tool in an upcoming post). 

The DNA Color Clustering method used by Dana Leeds clustering methodology is straightforward, and especially effective for those persons who have many 2nd and 3rd cousin matches on Ancestry — which I don’t.  (Although it actually works quite well for more distant cousins, in my opinion, especially if you’ve been working on clustering your matches for several years!)  You can find out more about Dana’s method here.

Despite these cool clustering methods — and others — in the end, I keep returning to my trusty Excel spreadsheet and my list of “ICW” (In Common With) matches from which I download using the DNAGedCom client tool (available here via a yearly subscription).

I’m sharing my way of clustering my matches — or, more specifically, my mother’s matches and my father’s matches — because the “best” method is the one that makes the most sense to you, or seems the most “intuitive”.


Some of Mom’s shared matches with “Cousin B”, on Ancestry

Let’s say I’m working with my mother’s DNA matches from  Using the DNAGedcom Client tool, I will download a list of all her matches, and then download a list of all her “ICW” matches into CSV format. 

Default ICW file

This is a sample of the default ICW file, before I combine it with the default Match file.

Default Match file

This is an abbreviated sample of the default match file.  The columns of interest are “Range” and “SharedCM”.

Once I have the two files, I use the VLOOKUP tool in Excel to associate (Cousin) Range and SharedCM to the primary match, and then to the In Common With matches.  The result is a combined file like that below.  The combined columns are highlighted in green.

Combined File

The “Mtch cM” and “Mtch Cousin” columns associate to Cousin B; the “icw cM” and “icw Cousin” associate to the ICW match: me, my brother, and cousins C, D, E, F, G, and H.  Shared cM (centiMorgans) = shared DNA; see my previous post here for more on centiMorgans. 

For purposes of clustering, though, all we really care about is that in general, the more DNA you share, the closer you are related — at least in the case of 2nd cousins or closer.  You can see that to some extent with Ancestry’s predicted ranges in the green highlighted columns.

The In-Common-With (ICW) list is basically a subset of your matches list.  My mom’s paternal first cousin — let’s call her “B” — has also tested at Ancestry.  So, Mom’s ICW list for “B” would include me, my brother, and six other cousins: C, D, E, F, G, H.  (Mom’s father was a first generation American, and “B”‘s father was born in Italy — not a lot of our Italian side, many still residing in Italy, have tested their DNA on Ancestry.  Hence, we don’t have a lot of matches.)  The critical point is that C, D, E, F, and G as well as my brother and I would show up on Mom’s match list AND on B’s match list — we are the “in common” matches.

So, if Mom and cousin “B” are first cousins, their Most Recent Common Ancestor(s) (MRCA) would be their shared set of (Italian) grandparents: Guiseppe Diamantini and Maria Bolognesi.  Obviously that same couple would be the great-grandparents of my brother and me.  But my brother and I are not the interesting cousins in the ICW cluster.  Cousins C, D, E, F, G and H are the key here. 


Let’s look at the example above.  I “cluster” my mom’s DNA matches by adding two columns (shown here highlighted in red).  Because I know my mom and Cousin B share the same set of grandparents, I put the MRCA couple’s name in the “Mtch MRCA” column for each row where there is an In Common With cousin.  (Note that, despite Ancestry’s prediction that my mom and Cousin B are 2nd cousins, they are in fact 1st cousins.)

The amounts of DNA shared, shown in the “Match cM” column and the “icw cM” column are the amounts Mom shares with these cousins.  We cannot determine from the information shown here how much, if any, “B” shares with “F”, or “C” shares with “D”.   We only know C, D, E, F, G, H not only share DNA with Mom, but MUST also share some amount with Cousin B because Ancestry has given us that information.

I then look at each of the ICW cousins: that is, my brother and I, plus cousins C through H.  I note that my brother and I are children, which means our DNA amounts won’t have any new information to determine cousin clustering — because whatever we share, we inherited from Mom.  (You can always exclude known children of a DNA match when you’re working with clustering, because they will always be a subset of their parents — if you have your parents or grandparents tested.)

Cousins C and D are two people whose place in my mother’s family tree I already know — therefore I include their MRCA information (Fortunato Camillucci and Maddelena Serafini).  They are my mother’s cousins on her Diamantini line.  Since the Diamantini line is my mother’s paternal line, I shade it blue for male.

Cousins E, F, G and H are unknown to me.  In this case, none of them have trees on Ancestry which might give me more detailed information as to how they relate to my mother.  The amount of DNA shared is fairly small, so it is possible the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) with Mom is quite a few generations back.  So I note them as “Diamantini or Bolognesi” (as I don’t yet know whether they share on the Diamantini line or the Bolognesi line) and also shade the cell in blue.  I leave those notes unbolded, since I’m not certain of how the cousin actually fits into our tree.

I then do the same thing with each of the other cousins listed here.  Below is a screen shot of the In-Common-With listing for Mom and Cousin C.  Note that there is some overlap with the In-Common-With listing for Mom and Cousin B, but there is one person who shares DNA with Mom and Cousin C, but who does not share with Cousin B.  I labeled that person Cousin J (highlighted in bright yellow.)

Bree_DNAGedCom_Example1Because the Most Recent Common Ancestor between Mom and Cousin C is the Camillucci & Serafini couple, I then use those names to populate the cell in the icw MRCA column, as shown below.


Mom doesn’t have that many matches on to her paternal side, in part because her father was a 1st generation American.  A better example of the clustering is shown below, with one of her 4th cousins.  The shared Most Recent Common Ancestor between Mom and cousin “K D” is Jacob Copple and Margaret Blalock.

Cousin KD

I have hidden the names of the In-Common-With cousins, but you can see the amount of DNA they share with my mother.   What this screenprint shows is how the different In-Common-With cousins have different Most Recent Common Ancestors with Mom.  But all of them are related in some way to either Jacob Copple or Margaret Blalock.  Philip Copple and Patsy Wright, for instance, are the presumed parents of Jacob Copple.  Patsy Wright’s presumed grandparents are Richard Wright & Ann.  Ben Copple is the son of Jacob Copple & Margaret Blalock, while Nicholas Copple & wife are the likely paternal grandparents of Jacob’s father Philip.

A different cousin of Mom’s who also descends from Jacob Copple & Margaret Blalock possibly inherited some of Margaret (Blalock) Copple’s DNA.  You can see that in the ICW MRCA column below, where some of the In-Common-With cousins (names are whited-out) appear to have Blalock / Blaylock lineage.  One of the cousins who shares DNA with both Mom and “M M” is fairly closely related to Mom; you can tell that by the amount of DNA shared (140.4 cM) and the MRCA = Sam Englehart and Libby Copple.  Libby Copple is the granddaughter of Jacob Copple & Margaret Blalock.

Cousin MM

All in all, this is just one more method of using color coding and Most Recent Common Ancestor information to figure out how your unknown matches may be related to you.  It’s not an absolute — it’s just a hint.  But it gives you something to work with.