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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

Can Ancestry DNA ThruLines Help Solve Genealogy Brick Walls?

Ancestry ThruLines Screen captures with title ThruLines for Brick Walls

Do you think that Ancestry DNA is the ticket to solving all of your difficult genealogy research problems? More specifically, will Ancestry ThruLines help you crack a crack the case?

Can Ancestry ThruLines Break Through Genealogy Brick Walls?

Many people ask, "Is it's possible to break through a genealogy brick while using DNA?"

The answer is- maybe!

People who have tested on Ancestry then ask, "Can Ancestry DNA ThruLines break through a genealogy brick wall?"

The answer is- maybe!

The Limitations of AncestryDNA ThruLines

When we're talking about Ancestry DNA ThruLines, we must recognize that they are not genetic family trees.

If you want to prove or disprove your family tree or break through genealogical brick walls, you have to ensure that you have built a quality family tree based on documentary evidence.

Now, even then, as my colleague Larry Jones of DNA Family Trees knows full well, you can have a genealogically accurate family tree, and it still could be genetically inaccurate.

However, I'm going to walk you through the process of how to explore your DNA with ThruLines to try to give more evidence to your genealogy brick walls. But be advised that your ability to break through a genealogy brick wall depends on where that brick wall takes place.

Validating Your AncestryDNA ThruLines to Your Brick Wall Ancestor

I'm going to advise you to do the same thing I would tell you when you're doing genealogical research, start with yourself and work your way back up your tree.

In conjunction with my John Townley brick wall series, I started with my great-grandmother Eveline Townley Peak. When I look at the four matches for Eveline Townley Peak. I know who these people are.

One of them is my brother, and two of them are my father's cousins, first cousins. And I asked all three of them to take the test. Both of my dad's cousins had siblings that died. My dad did not have any other siblings. And that's all the survivors of Evaline Townley Peak.

So, I've tested everybody that can be tested.

After validating Evaline, I moved back one generation at a time.

Why Are Your Known Distant Cousins Not Showing Up on ThruLines?

As you're moving back through time, you may begin to notice that known descendants of your ancestor do not appear in Ancestry ThruLines.

For instance, I know that my second great-grandmother, Evaline Townley, had children named William, Harry, and Edith. No ThruLines that pass through these children show up at the time of this post. Why is that?

Now, if you've seen my previous video, "Why do I have no ThruLines?" you'll know that a couple of things have happened. Either there are:

  • No living descendants of William, Harry, and Edith to take a test.

  • No descendants of William, Harry, and Edith have taken a DNA test.

  • No descendants have taken a DNA with Ancestry DNA.

  • Living descendants have tested with AncestryDNA but have not built their family tree and made it public or private searchable.

When you do not see ThurLines for proven children of an ancestor, have you run into a problem?

Not necessarily. I either need to invite Eveline Townley's descendants to take a DNA test or wait for them to do it independently.

If you have a ThruLine to a potential brick wall ancestor, is it accurate?

As you work your way back generation by generation, validating relationships, what do you believe when you reach the possible solution for your brick-wall ancestor?

If I had a chromosome browser to combine with an Ancestry ThruLine, I could have more confidence that the ThruLine was accurate. Since I'm still working with a paper trail tree that happens to find links through the trees of my DNA matches, I have to be cautious the further back I am researching an ancestor.

The number of cousins and descendants of a 3rd and 4th great-grandparent that you could share DNA with is really, really, really small. Even if a grandparent's descendants this far back have taken a DNA test and met all those parameters for us to possibly have Ancestry ThruLines, you still might not share DNA. And thus, you might not have enough information to conclusively prove a relationship to a potential common ancestor or disprove it.

↪️ Are you struggling to break through your brick walls?

Grab your copy of this FREE Brick Wall Busting Guide:

Do you have a genealogy brick wall? Sign up for a free guide to help you research around it.

Leverage the ThruLines of Multiple Relatives When Working with Genealogy Brick Walls

I am fortunate enough to manage the DNA kits for my brother and two cousins of my dad. As I explore their ThruLines with matches that I don't match with, I can begin to make a case that the potential common ancestor is a genetic fact.

However, you might discover that you are the relative who inherited more of the DNA you're trying to prove than your kin. In my case, one of my father's cousins inherited no Townley DNA that is shared with other DNA matches on Ancestry.

If you are lucky, as you explore how your matches match you and your other known relatives, you might prove a common ancestor using ThruLines.

However... they need to also include the potential common ancestor in their tree, or it won't work either.

Can Ancestry DNA help you break through your genealogical brick walls?

It depends on where the brick wall takes place. The closer in generations the brick wall is to you, the more chances of success you may have. The further removed you are from the common ancestor, you're going to need many more people to take tests, build their trees, and make their trees public or private but searchable.

In the end, you might have more clues to add to your brick wall case study. Watch this video to hear more analysis of ThruLines in the case of John Townley.

Video: Will Thrulines help crack a genealogy brick wall?

Watch this research process in action in this video.

Review the John Townley Brick Wall Series

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