For the first post in this thread, please see this link.
When my father’s DNA test results were ready I looked through the matches, but got really discouraged. I couldn’t find any connections to our known tree, and a quarter of his tree was unknown. I came back from time to time to check for new leads, but generally gave it up for a while.
A year passed. In May of 2012, Ancestry announced it was offering an autosomal DNA test too. That prompted me to start checking my Family Tree DNA results again, and at the end of June I downloaded all of the results in a spreadsheet format.
There were 170 matches. I didn’t have a feel for what the numbers meant at that time, but the most matching DNA my father had was 65.61 cM. Only 7 matches shared more than 50 cM, and for 86 of the matches, the longest segment was under 10 cM. Below 10 cM, you have to seriously consider that “matches” might not actually be relatives. Comparing these numbers with the shared cM statistics chart I wrote about here, even the closest of these relationships are all most likely third cousin once removed or even more distant, so not too surprising that I wasn’t having much luck. Especially with a quarter of the tree unknown.
On my spreadsheet with match data I started to write down which people were in common with each other. At the time I had to go into each match and select a relationship, such as Distant Relative, before I could see the “in common” matches. (Thankfully that is no longer the case.) I numbered them to show which people were in common with the top twenty matches. I looked for patterns in those groups. Still no clues. I tried contacting some of the top matches. Some responded, some didn’t. No connections found.
In January of 2013 I identified my first actual relationship with a match, a fourth cousin one times removed. The month before, my father’s father had passed away. I became more aware that our family might not always be around to test, and that testing my grandmother was the best way to distinguish at least whether my father’s matches were maternal or paternal. Plus since we had finally identified a real match, I felt more confident in the whole process.
My grandmother’s DNA test results came back in June of 2013.