I logged into my results at AncestryDNA today, and I had new fourth cousin match: Vivian Reese Wescott (ALL names in these screenshots are changed to protect privacy unless noted otherwise). This is a significant match to me, my 22nd closest match (not counting family members that I’ve tested). The relationship is estimated to be fourth cousin.
When I open up Vivian’s profile, I can see that she’s a new member, and likely hasn’t seen her results yet (I check frequently, but she hasn’t logged in since September 23rd). I also see that she doesn’t have a tree associated with her profile:
The first thing I would normally do is review her tree for clues as to our relationship.
Since I can’t do that, I’ll skip that step and now I’ll look to see how much DNA we share in common:
So we share 75 cM. According to the Shared cM Project, that is within the 3C to 4C range (you can use the cool new DNAPainter tool here to highlight the possible relationships containing 75 cM within the relationship range: https://dnapainter.com/tools/sharedcm/75).
Next I’ll look at Vivian’s ethnicity prediction. I won’t ever put too much weight on this, but I do see some interesting information. The third highest percentage is Native American, and there’s a trace Iberian Peninsula. Hmmm. I’m starting to form a hypothesis (more on that below).
Next I reviewed Vivian’s user member page (by clicking her name), but there’s nothing of interest there. Sometimes there are forum post links, other family trees, or other valuable information. But I’m striking out on this one.
Now I’ll turn to my most powerful tool, Shared Matches. When I click on the Shared Matches tab, I get some very valuable information. I see that this is a maternal match, since she shares my mother in common (and not my father):
You certainly don’t have to have a parent tested to use the Shared Matches feature! Let’s say I don’t have my mother tested, and we’ll examine some of my other Shared Matches:
Now I have some really great information. If I know how any of Gold23, Brainard Garcia, Janice Strong, or T.Y. are related to me, I can HYPOTHESIZE that Vivian is related to me along the same line. It’s just a hypothesis, of course, but without this hypothesis I don’t have much to go on.
Sure enough, I know how Gold23 and Brainard Garcia are related to me; on my maternal grandmother’s line. In fact, “Garcia” is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. And, my maternal grandmother’s line has Native American and Iberian Peninsula ancestry (hence the clue above when we talked about the ethnicity report). So now I will hypothesize that Vivian is related to me through my maternal grandmother. It’s only a hypothesis, but now I can proceed with that hypothesis in mind and collect information to try to disprove that hypothesis.
So what’s next? Now I can contact Vivian and I can ask if she’s willing to share information, providing her with information about my tree. I’ll also send her information about the line I believe we share. In my experience, if you contact a match with surnames they’re likely to recognize, you will significantly increase the response rate. And who doesn’t love an increased response rate??
Oh, and my final step? Make a note using whatever process you have in place!