Saturday, January 24, 2015

What Can You Learn from AncestryDNA Matches with Very Small Trees?

This morning I watched DearMYRTLE's video, "AncestryDNA Matches with Angie Bush." Angie is Dear Myrtle's "DNA expert." She started by explaining what you can learn from Ancestry DNA matches that have 'shaky leaf' hints. I was already comfortable with those. But, next she talked about those matches that DON'T have hints.

Up until now, I've always ignored those. Many of them have very small trees. The 'tree' Dear Myrtle and Angie worked on only had 2 people! But, they were able to figure out the common ancestor! Wow!

Angie also pointed out that part of why they were able to make the connection was because the family was from Utah and there is a large family tree on Family Search for Utah. Well, I don't have any family from Utah. Could I still make this work?

I went to my matches and my highest unknown match is a 3rd cousin, with a confidence level of "extremely high", who only has 13 people on her tree. 13 people? How will I be able to find a match with that?

I clicked on "View Match" and could see all 13 people. The one surname I recognized was "Waggoner", though this isn't a direct line of mine. And, I didn't recognize the only person with that name, Margaret Elizabeth Waggoner.

I clicked on Margaret and saw her birth (in 1901) and death dates (1982) and that she died in Oklahoma. Hmmm... my Waggoner's are from both Kansas and Oklahoma.

I next went to my tree and looked for a Margaret Elizabeth Wagoner. I actually found a Margaret Waggoner born "about" 1901. That's a match! This Margaret's mother is Mary Ellen "Ella" (Coppenbarger) Waggoner who is a sister of my great grandmother, Myrtle Mae (Coppenbarger) Peters!

The family of our great, great grandparents, Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger & Elizabeth (Bennett) Coppenbarger
My great grandmother is Myrtle Mae (dark hair 2nd from left) & my my match's is "Ella" (the tallest standing)
Photo from FindAGrave posted by JRS, my father

So, this 'match' and I share great, great grandparents, Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger & Elizabeth (Bennett) Coppenbarger, making her my 3rd cousin! Just like the DNA match suggested!

I have now contacted this match and offered to share my research. I hope she has something to share, too. But, I think she might not even know Margaret's parents names. In that case, I'm happy to help her out! And, I was able to fill in more information about Margaret on my tree.

I'm off to try another match!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at


  1. Wow, great sleuthing! I'll have to watch the recorded version, hopefully there is one. I too have passed over those that don't have any hints. Thanks for sharing?

  2. I have now looked through about 10 more people... some I've been able to figure out, but some I haven't! And, I've started sending messages to those who have private trees asking if they can look & see if they see a match. I have 2 messages waiting for me, so maybe one of those is a reply from last night!

  3. Dana,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!


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