If It Looks Like a Duck...
My Ancestry DNA match just won’t respond! It is so infuriating. Why does someone do a DNA test if they don’t want to connect with cousins? And my match is sooooo good. I can just tell this will be the link that’s going to solve my family mystery. Help.
Frustrated in DNAland
Dear Frustrated in DNAland,
I feel your pain. But I have at least one potential solution. Remember the saying, “If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck and it waddles like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” Well, sometimes I find those Ancestry DNA “handles,” the cute user names people use for their Ancestry account look an awful lot like part of an email address. Try googling that handle and see if you don’t come up with an “@msn.com” to follow.
This fictional interchange between Dear Mary and Frustrated in DNAland is exactly how I solved a recent DNA quandary. I manage a kit on Ancestry for AA. AA’s father was an out-of-wedlock birth from a known mother and an unknown father. On GEDMatch, AA had a great match of 440 cM with BB, which is right in the ballpark to be a half first cousin. Given geography and timeframe, it was immediately apparent that AA and BB likely share a grandfather. When I contacted BB, however, his father was born in a home for unwed mothers in Omaha and adopted as an infant in 1908. There is no information on BB’s grandparents, other than the strong possibility that they lived not too far from Omaha in 1907-08.
On Ancestry I came up with CC, a good, solid match of 168 cM for AA. But CC had no tree, hadn’t logged into Ancestry since 2015 and wouldn’t respond to my Ancestry message. When I looked at the CC’s Ancestry handle, however, it really looked like an email, so I just Googled it. Bingo. I found an email address. I still didn’t get any response, but the email led me to an identity and some locations and with a few more Google searches I had CC’s mom’s obituary, including her parent’s names. And I was off and running on building the tree that ultimately gave me AA’s grandfather’s name. Now, I don’t really care whether CC ever responds; I’ve gotten what I needed.
Like that duck, if it looks and sounds and waddles like an email address, google it. You might just find it is an email, and be able to identify the party behind it.
Slim pickings in the genealogy world these days for some great records. Many genealogical societies have used Rootsweb to host record sets and indexes to records. Today I found myself looking for some Sonoma County indexes published by Sonoma County Genealogical Society and I got the dreaded:
But never fear, there’s a workaround! Try the Wayback Machine on the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/). When your search leads you to the dreaded Rootsweb-is-currently-unavailable message, just copy and paste that url into the Wayback Machine search box on archive.org. You’ll find a calendar of dates that url was cached. Click on one of those dates and you’ll be off and running.
As an example I was looking for the Sonoma County Genealogical Society’s “Index to the 1890 Census Sonoma County, California (Reconstructed).” This is an index to a book published in 1995. The index hasn’t changed, so I don’t need a brand spanking new webpage showing it – a webpage cached in 2016 will do me just fine. And even though Rootsweb was down, I was still able to find just what I needed. Thank you, Internet Archive!
When Rootsweb’s got you down, try the Internet Archive. You’ll be happy you did.
Apologies for my own disappearance from my blog these past few months. Some travel led into some family commitments led into the holidays led into some accounting responsibilities...yada yada yada. I'll try to be more present.. - Mary
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.