Category Archives: DNA Genealogy

Using the Ancestry DNA Match Note Feature

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In Using Ancestry Stars to Organize DNA Matches,  I shared how the Ancestry Star feature can be used to distinguish the DNA matches whose Ancestry is known.  This Ancestry star feature is even more useful when it is paired with Ancestry’s note feature.

What is the Ancestry Note Feature?

AncestryDNA has the option to add a note to any DNA Match.   This  feature can be found by clicking on the user ID (name) of a DNA Match or the green ‘View Match’ button. This will open up a new page where you can further explore details of the DNA match.  Below the Predicted relationship and the DNA Circle connection(s), there is an Add note link. Next to the link is an icon that looks like a mini page of paper with text on it.  When the Add  note link is selected, a text box appears in which comments up to 500 characters can be written.  Anything typed in a note can only be seen by you.

This is an example of a DNA Match that does not have a note attached to it.
An example of a DNA Match that does NOT have a note attached to it.
This is an example of A DNA Match with a note added to it.
An example of A DNA Match WITH a note added to it.

How to Use the Note Feature

There are many uses for adding a note to a DNA Match, but I am going to share  the best use that I have found for the Ancestry Note feature.  I use this feature to briefly explain how a DNA match is related to me.  It is a simple method where the closest ancestor(s)shared with the DNA Match is added to the note.   Sometimes I add a bit more information, like “we are related through the Florida Loos line via Johannes, brother to my immigrating Matthias Loos”.

This note can then be used as a quick reference if I forget  how I relate to one of my Starred DNA matches. If you do not know what I mean by starred DNA Match, I recommend reading this blog post.  Having these notes can be especially helpful when you are sifting through  hundreds (or thousands) of DNA matches.

A beneficial attribute of adding a note to a DNA Match is that you do not need to click on the ‘view match’ button to see what you typed in the note. The note can be viewed from the main DNA match page. If  a note is added to a DNA Match, then the note icon will be displayed next to the matches name in the DNA Match list.  The note becomes visible when the icon is clicked.

Example of the note icon. The relationship of these 3 DNA matches are known thus they have been starred and have notes attached to it. THe third match's note has been clicked on to reveal the relationship.
The relationship of these three DNA matches are known thus they have been Starred and have notes attached to them. The third match’s note has been clicked on to reveal the relationship.

If you find this genetic genealogy tip helpful or want to share how you use the Ancestry note feature, please leave a comment.

Using Ancestry Stars to Distinguish DNA Matches

My recent Mirror Tree obsession has made me realize that having a consistent method of organizing Ancestry DNA matches is key for finding the most elusive ancestors.  Are you overwhelmed by the hundreds of ‘4th cousin or closer’ Ancestry DNA matches, and not sure what to do with them?   Have you been struggling with how to identify which of your Ancestry DNA cousin matches make good Mirror Tree candidates? Using the Ancestry stars to distinguish your DNA Matches may help you maneuver around these common DNA challenges. Continue reading Using Ancestry Stars to Distinguish DNA Matches

Mirror Trees Really Do Work

I gave compelling evidence in The Biological Father of my Foundling Ancestor that William Norsworthy Gordon is my great grandfather.  A living direct descendant of  William N. Gordon agreed to take a DNA test, and the results have arrived. The descendant is a granddaughter of William Norsworthy, and if my theory is correct, her father would be my grandfather’s half-brother.  Her DNA matched 306 centiMorgans (cM) and 22 segments with my mother. According to Blaine Bettinger’s shared cM relationship chart (see below), this DNA match fits in the 1st to 2nd cousin range. This is the range that I expected, and proves that I really have found my biological great- grandfather, and that  mirror trees really do work. Continue reading Mirror Trees Really Do Work

I Have Created a Mirror Tree, Now What?

MirrorTree Part 2

The real work with mirror trees is not in creating them, but what you do with them once they are created. If you have created a mirror tree, and do not know how to use it to discover those hard-to-find family members, then you are at the right blog. Continue reading I Have Created a Mirror Tree, Now What?

How to build a Mirror Tree

Mirror Tree Blog Post1

After exploring mirror trees with the main roadblock of my family tree (my foundling grandfather), I now have a better understanding  of what a mirror tree is, and how useful it can be  for revealing ancestors that left incomplete paper trails. Mirror trees offer a method for organizing genetic DNA matches to help those with unknown ancestors (adoptees, orphans and foundlings) identify biological ancestors.

Here are  five steps to create a mirror tree:

Continue reading How to build a Mirror Tree

The biological father of my foundling ancestor?

I think I have found the biological father of my grandfather, Dwight Willard, who was abandoned as a newborn at a charitable orphanage organization in San Francisco in 1920. The man I believe to be my Great Grandfather is William Norsworthy Gordon, son of Robert Edward Gordon and Emma Norsworthy.  He was born in Texas which is where all of his siblings and ancestors remained, but uncanny circumstances brought him to California when he was a young boy. Continue reading The biological father of my foundling ancestor?

A Y-DNA Revelation


My Mother’s brother took the Family Tree Y-DNA test so we could find clues on the paternal family of my adopted grandfather, Dwight Willard.  He has been the largest brick wall in my family tree since absolutely nothing is known of his biological parents.  The y chromosome is passed from father to son practically unchanged, so I thought the Y-DNA test would be the best chance for me to find my grandfather’s biological surname, and may even connect me to direct family members. Since only men have the y chromosome, I was unable to take the test myself, but am so fortunate that my mother has a brother, and that he was willing to take the test. Continue reading A Y-DNA Revelation

Mirror Mirror on the Tree

Photo from
Photo from

I have recently joined a great Facebook Group called DNA Detectives that I believe was started by Cece Moore one of the genealogists on Genealogy Roadshow. It is a group dedicated for those using DNA to locate biological family of adoptees.  Besides being inspired from all of the posts from those that have connected with lost family members,  I have gotten a lot of great ideas for new research strategies for finding my grandfather’s biological family. Continue reading Mirror Mirror on the Tree

Fun Facts…



Resurrecting Roots, a genealogy blog written by Treena and Heidi, has been going strong for the past four months, thanks to you, our loyal readers. We started this journey with a passion for sharing our genealogical research, and we have enjoyed it! Continue reading Fun Facts…

Welsh Genetics


People with Welsh heritage have always been proud of their roots. Even though it has been part of the United Kingdom for a long time, Wales has kept its own unique customs and traditions. It turns out that Wales is even different genetically. Continue reading Welsh Genetics