What is the closest DNA link that you can't place in your tree?

+15 votes

Here's a fun little question for those who've taken a dna test on ancestry or one of the other sites.

We all have a list of dna matches.  Some we can figure out where they fit into our tree, and some we cannot.    But here's my question. 

What is the closest relative in terms of shared DNA that you cannot fit into your tree.  You may have an idea, but simply can't find the exact place they fit.

For me it's a cousin with a shared 42 centimorgans. 

FYI, I took my test on ancestry.

Do you have any puzzlers out there?

Talking of puzzles, this brings me to a larger puzzle I have.

For mine, we'll call them A.   I have a rough idea where they fit into my tree, simply by looking at relatives in common.  They are related to one of the parents of my GGG grandfather "Seth Basye"


As two of the cousins in common, with A are descended from one of Seths, siblings. 

But here's the thing, me and A have 41 people in common.  in fact there's a group of at least 10 - 15 or more people who all show up in each others relatives in common.  

And several of them are 4th cousins and closer.

For example

A - 42 centimorgans shared.

B - 42 centimorgans shared

C - 39 Centimorgans shared

D - 38 Centimorgans shared.

E - 36 Centimorgans shared.

A may be the closest relative to me, but B - E all share the same DNA with each other and all share ancestry with other people related to my Basye family. 

We're all descended from the same family, and I suspect it's a very Large family, with numerous siblings who had children.   This family probably originates in either Virginia or Maryland. 

Now I mentioned Seth Basye, well almost nothing is known about his paternal grandmother.   I don't even know her first name.  I think this very mysterious ancestor, whom we'll call Y.  Is the connection to this mysterious family group.

And here's the other thing, more and more people keep getting added to this mysterious family group. Just another one was added today.  I'll bet there are parts of this very family group here on wikitree.  It's a brick wall with a giant family behind it.

But for me, it remains a mystery.   I'm going to have to start going through trees and try to find which family they share in common. 

But back to my original question, Who is the closest relative to you on your list that you can't place.    For me, it's opened a very large mystery. 

What about you?





in The Tree House by Craig Albrechtson G2G6 Mach 8 (84.8k points)
edited by Craig Albrechtson
I don't really understand DNA yet, but it is amusing that my full sister and I match to a few different people - not close matches. I have also found that almost all of my DNA matches are from my father's Italian side.  One of my big brick walls is from a Pennsylvania Dutch strain and since that society is still pretty close, I doubt if anyone will ever get tested so I can compare! My other big brick wall is Irish and stayed in Ireland, I think, so not sure anyone there would feel the need to test their DNA, but I am waiting. My sister is emailing everyone, but I tried to tell her that I have already communicated with most close matches.

12 Answers

+11 votes
Great question Craig,

80 cM for me... and several in the 70s.

It's still a puzzle!
by Keith Hathaway G2G6 Pilot (605k points)
+9 votes
On Ancestry it is a female with 58 cM over 3 segments. Small private tree, not shared matches.

On 23andme it is a male with 1.18% over 6 segments. Probably common ancestors up the line from my paternal grandmother.

On FTDNA it is a female with 72 cM shared, longest block 12 cM and and X-match.

On gedmatch it is a female with total 47.2 cM, no X.

So different people on each system.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (628k points)
+14 votes
Great question!  And the answer is the mystery that I am working on at present.  My mom shares 128cM with a woman on ancestryDNA.  She's also sharing 101cM with a man that I have been able to determine his common ancestor with the 128cM woman.  But I can't figure out the ancestor for my mom.  I'm quite certain it is my largest brick wall -- which is my mom's maternal grandfather (we don't know his name; her mother didn't marry him).  These matches trace back to Marcilene, Missouri, where my grandmother was born, which is why I think the match is up my unknown great-grandfather's side.  The answer is there, but I need a triangulated group to help me.  And no one has or is (yet!) willing to upload to Gedmatch so I can see the shared segments and try to find others that share one of the segments.  So-o-o-o-o frustrating!!
by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (400k points)
I mentioned below in a different post, a similar problem.  My grandfather, move around a lot, after my grandmother divorced him.  He fathered multiple children by multiple women.  At least four of them show up in my ancestry list of people with common dna.

What's most annoying, is that one of the four, a half sibling of my mother, has posted a family tree.  Sadly, it is of their adopted family.   I've pieced it together, but someone else without the same knowledge might not be able to.
At least you knew who the man was for starters.  With the people my mom matches, I have no idea who the person is -- most likely a brother or uncle or father of the 2x great-grandmother.  Without segments and finding other matches, I have no idea . . .

Hey, it keeps us on our toes!  Sure do wish cousins would cooperate, though.  There certainly is nothing to be concerned with dealing with something that occurred over 100 years ago!
+8 votes
I have a mystery match on Gedmatch that is on two segments: 32.8 cM and 6.3 cM (although one segment is a bit short, the combination of the two segments increases the estimate of our relatedness). I've researched the other person's family history and ruled out any possibility of common ancestors on most branches of his family (most of his ancestors were on a different continent than mine). But there's one person in his ancestry about 4 generations back whose origins are unclear (inconsistencies and discrepancies in the records) and there's there's a hint that the person might have lived in or near a town where a couple of my ancestors are documented to have lived...
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+8 votes

My cousin Joe, presumably on my missing great-grandmother's side.  On Ancestry, we share 173 centimorgans shared across 10 DNA segments and in the years I've been on Ancestry, he hasn't written back.  He last logged into Ancestry in June, 2017, so I assume that he will never write back, nor post his information on GEDMatch.

by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (201k points)
+5 votes

I share 201 cM (largest segment is 26.7 cM) with https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Wallace-4143

Gedmatch predicts 3.2 generations to the MRCA.

Her ancestry is at https://www.wikitree.com/treewidget/Wallace-4143/5

and mine is at https://www.wikitree.com/treewidget/Roberts-7085/5

We both descend from an endogamous population.  We have not yet found our connection.


by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (538k points)
edited by Peter Roberts
+7 votes
I didn't think to mention the relatively close matches about whom I have no clue. I imagine all of us have some of these.

There's a man on 23andMe who matches with me on 71 cM over 7 segments (likely 3rd cousin). He's an adoptee who told me he knew almost nothing about his parents. We have one match on the X chromosome, so I assume I am related to his mother and he's not related on my paternal grandfather's line. I'm rather sure he's not on my paternal grandmother's line either, since he doesn't have any matches to identified cousins on that line (including a 2nd cousin).  Weirdly, I have not found any matches with him among my other DNA relatives that I share data with (other than my immediate family and a few distant cousins).

And there's a woman on 23andMe who matches me on 68 cM over 5 segments. We've identified the geographic area that we share (on my mother's side), but she didn't recognize any surnames in my tree and she hasn't responded to my further queries about her ancestry. (And she doesn't have any DNA matches with my mysterious 7-segment match.)
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
edited by Ellen Smith
Adoptions, can really confuse things.  The first four people on my ancestry list of people who share dna are all half siblings of my mother.  You know the song, Papa was a rolling stone.  Well that was my grandfather, multiple children by multiple women.  

If I haven't done so much work on my grandfathers tree, and identified various other relatives, to triangulate things, I'd really be confused.
+9 votes
one of my grandpa's known second cousins, and a double third cousin who shares even more dna with my grandpa than known second cousin
by Katy Brecht G2G6 Mach 1 (10.5k points)
+7 votes
Mine is on gedmatch - 165 cM total (47 largest) plus 33 cM Xmatch plus she triangulates on the 47cM match with my maternal 1st cousin.

Should be dead easy to find with all that, if only she were willing to share some information.

Pet hate is non-responders.
by Derrick Watson G2G6 Mach 3 (32.8k points)
My pet peeve is non responders.  Especially the ones that seem to indicate they have an active interest in genealogy.

Here's a real strange one.

My closest relative on ancestry is 918 centimorgans across 40 some segments.

Yet their tree doesn't even remotely match with mine.  However, looking at the relatives we have in common and the knowledge that my grandfather moved around a lot and fathered a couple different children with different women, I've determined he's my mothers half brother.

What's annoying is that he's obviously posted the tree for his ADOPTED family, and those people aren't related to him at all.  

I've written the person and offered all kinds of information, pictures, family trees, family medical information, the works.  No response.
+6 votes
I have one on FTDNA with longest segment at 77 cM and total of 101 cM.  We both have very full trees but no connection.  Must be an NPE somewhere but that can be a touchy subject.
by Thom Anderson G2G6 Mach 4 (46.9k points)
+5 votes

Hello everyone, 

Great question!

I have a interesting mtDNA connection that I have yet to make the connection on.

For my closest mtDNA match I have made contact with the mtDNA tester's niece who administered the test and learned some information.  On their maternal line the oldest known ancestor is a Mary Jane Andrews b. 1825 New York d. 1876 Iowa.  (This cousin I contacted lives in Minnesota, which is near where the ancestors lived in Iowa.)

On my maternal line I have my oldest known ancestor as Almeda Andrews, wife of William Scouten.  No known birth or death dates as those names are found on their daughters death certificate.  I have not been able to find them anywhere else.

But the daughter Ella Elizabeth (Scouten) Miner (1851 - 1930) was born in New York and later married in Iowa in 1872 before moving to California sometime between Sept. 1874 and August 1876.  She passed away in Portland, Oregon.  (Where I was born).

So imagine that Mary Jane and Almeda Andrews could be sisters, or cousins, or an aunt/neice connection or something because the mtDNA is a close match (0) and the last names are the same. 

Though I did read that there were about 1,800 Andrews families in New York in the 1800's.  I have found reference to many other Andrews families but nothing to make a connection.

One other tidbit of information is that Mary Jane Andrews was married to an Isaac Buel as his first wife and that they lived in Mitchell County, Iowa.  Isaac had served in the Civil War.  There is also a grandfather of Issac Buel, who is also named Issac Buel who married a Susanna Andrews.  Some of her families information is on geni, I still need to try to flush out that family tree all the way to see if I can figure anything out.

Genealogy puzzles! They keep it interesting!

by Erik Granstrom G2G6 Mach 2 (26.4k points)
+4 votes
My match is a 4.3 MRCA with 36.8cM match. Not many close matches for me on GEDmatch, so she is actually the fourth person on my list. We've tried and tried - and have guessed at the line/family name, but just can't make the connection.

Some of those limbs are just too hard to straighten out
by Mindy Silva G2G6 Pilot (462k points)

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