When to link to a close relative found through triangulation of genetic matches?

+6 votes
121 views
I've been trying to track down the identity of my mother's father through triangulation of FTDNA/GedMatch matches.  I had come up with about five genetic clusters of Nth cousins and their MRCAs.  This week I started what I expected to be a long slog of tracking down descendants of those families.  I appear to have gotten very lucky and found someone who fits all of the criteria very quickly.  All four of his sets of great grandparents are MRCAs of the cousins I was tracking, and his draft card places him in the right place at the right time to have interacted with my mother's mother.  All of the other details we got from my grandmother also match up (birth location, sibs and their locations, first and middle names... even height!).  I would be extremely surprised if there is a second person out there who meets all of these criteria, but since I haven't thoroughly checked all of the descendants of the MRCAs it's not impossible. No marriage and she made up a father's name on the birth certificate, so there won't be any official paper trail to find.  He and his sibs have all died, but finding first cousins or other close relatives for DNA testing might be a possibility.  Do you think I'm justified in linking him to my mother on WikiTree at this stage, or do I need to try to get further confirmation of some sort?  (I've read the help files on DNA confirmation of genetic matches, but they don't seem to apply to this particular situation since he hasn't been tested.)  Thanks!
in Genealogy Help by Lisa Hazard G2G6 Pilot (170k points)

3 Answers

+5 votes
I personally would hold off - and check all the others just to be able to eliminate them for sure!

 I have a similar situation. I have a possible grandfather (my mothers unknown father) who was in the right place at the right time, but whom I have not connected (to my mother) yet until I can eliminate all his brothers and male cousins first. Hopefully by getting their children to test.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (928k points)
Thanks!  I'm holding off for the moment while I check for other possibilities and look for more corroborating evidence.
+3 votes
I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I don't see the harm, if you don't want to hold off - as long as you adequately document your case.

But I wouldn't think that's what we call "DNA confirmation" here, ironically enough. That doesn't count as a "paper trail" (which you have to have for DNA confirmation), does it? If I had to invent a term for it, maybe I'd call what you have a "DNA-based hypothesis that the paper trail doesn't contradict".

It's also ironic that what I've seen in genealogical standards (for lack of a better term) seems to put more stock in the paper trail - which can have errors and outright falsehoods - than the physical evidence (DNA), which "doesn't lie". It seems like there ought to be a criteria by which, once satisfied, you could "officially" say "that's my guy!", but I as far as I know there isn't. On the other hand, maybe there are too many curve balls you can run into, to have that.
by Frank Stanley G2G6 Mach 6 (66.8k points)
Thanks!
+1 vote
You could link to the likely profile, but mark the relationship as “Uncertain”.  Then explain the current state of your research in the Biography, and update as things progress.  Good luck!
by David Brodeur G2G6 (6.1k points)
Thanks!  I may end up doing that once I get a bit more information.

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