Does anyone have experience or comments on using Ancestry.com ThruLines as a source?

+2 votes
95 views
Ancestry.com ThruLines could be a valuable tool, in conjunction with other sources. Does anyone have experience or comments on using it as a source?
in Genealogy Help by Kristi Waterman G2G Rookie (220 points)
This is a good question. I have discussed Ancestry's ThruLines in Research Notes, for example, discussing numbers of connections to descendants of a common ancestor, but I do not use it as a source because I feel although it does lend support to the premise that we all have a "common ancestor" it doesn't necessarily prove who that ancestor was unless the other traditional research supports the certain person suggested in ThruLines. I'll be interested in seeing what others have to say.
I don’t find them very useful for more thsn a clue.  They are based on people’s unsourced trees which are often wildly incorrect. I certainly wouldn’t cite one as a source.

I appreciate the answers. I have seen enough of the unreliability of some peoples trees to not trust them implicitly. This is the current issue I am wondering about:

 I am a probable descendant of Michael Spencer. Would you please evaluate my evidence?

Sarah Spencer is my 3rd great grandmother. I have ample sources establishing that. My Sarah Spencer was born in 1800 in Kentucky (American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI)). She married Samuel Wilson in 1823 in Greene, Ohio, USA (Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993). At some point before 1850 they moved to Montgomery, Indiana, USA, where both she and Samuel are buried. (1850 & 1860 census records and Find a Grave).

Find a Grave said that her father was Michael Spencer, born in 1762 in Rhode Island (which I realize may not be the correct location), and who died 1 Nov 1828 in Ohio. I am usually pretty skeptical about the accuracy of such info, but I used that as a spring board.

I found a Michael Spencer living in Washington Kentucky in 1800 (Kentucky, Tax Lists, 1799-1801). So that particular Michel Spencer could be Sarah's father. In 1807 there is a Michael Spencer living in Greene, Ohio (Ohio, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890). Could this be the same one that was in Kentucky in 1800? Maybe...

So, then I came across the WILL of a Michael Spencer who died in Darke County, Ohio in 1828. First off, I see that this Michael couldn't have died 1 Nov 1828 because his will was written on 7 Nov 1828 and probated 24 Dec 1828. Well, the headstone, if there was one, was probably not in great condition, so it could have said 11 Nov, or 1 Dec... or something. The will names wife, Mary, sons Francis and Thomas W., and daughters Sarah, Delilah and Ann. This sounds promising.

Back at Find a Grave I see that other Spencer's in Spencer cemetery include a Francis Spencer and a Delilah Spencer! Now I'm really intrigued. But how can I know if the Sarah in this will is my Sarah? I was at a loss. Then I happened to look at my Ancestry.com ThruLines for Michael Spencer. I found that I have 5 DNA connections to Delilah Spencer and 13 to Francis. It also shows 4 to James Spencer. (I don't think James was Michael's son, but either a brother of Michael's or perhaps a nephew, since although he was one of the executors, he is not mentioned in any other regard.)

So, my big question is, considering all the other evidence I have outlined above, can I consider the ThruLines as valid confirmation of the relationship?

What kind of sourcing do the trees that include Delilah and Francis have?  That number of connections looks promising, but sometimes trees just get copied over and over.  Reading the will it looks like this is a different family.  Daughter Sarah was unmarried in 1828 so not your Sarah Wilson.  The married daughters are listed with their married names so Sarah would have been listed as Sarah Wilson, not just Sarah.
Good point about not using her married name. I was wondering about that as well. I'll check it out.

1 Answer

+7 votes
Please do not use the Ancestry Thru-lines as a source.  Go to the profiles in the Thru-Lines and see who your connections might be; then make sure you can document back to those ancestors with real sources. As Kathy commented above, Ancestry puts those together because you might have a DNA match to someone (or several) and their trees are used to create the Thru-lines. If their trees are wrong (and many are) then the premise of the ancestors are not correct. I have many on there who are blatantly wrong because people have the wrong information on their trees. We probably do have a DNA connection but they have the wrong ancestor or two. Those connections are not based on solid research facts and should never be accepted without your own research and sources.
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (705k points)
And for those who use My Heritage's Theory of Family Relativity - my response is exactly the same. MyH also make some poor  matches through family trees and some of those connections are also very badly wrong!!

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