Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Thinking Critically About My Elizabeth Duck "Potential Ancestor" AncestryDNA ThruLine

We discussed a bit about "critical thinking" on this week's Mondays With Myrt (see her post Theories & Critical Thinking)  and we also discussed "Potential Ancestors" on AncestryDNA's ThruLines.

Recently, I received an AncestryDNA ThruLines that purported to connect my "brick wall ancestor" Hannah Smith (1768-1827), wife of Josiah Sawtell, to a mother Elizabeth Duck (1723-1810).  I was curious about that link (and no, not because it might give me an ancestor named Donald or Daisy Duck, or even Scrooge McDuck!) because there were two (!) DNA matches shown as 6th cousin DNA matches, one with 10 cM and the second with 18 cM.  So those DNA matches are probably my distant cousins, but is Elizabeth Duck the link?

Here is the ThruLines screen I received for Elizabeth Duck:

I clicked on the green "Evaluate" button and found that five Ancestry trees identify a Hannah Smith as a daughter of Elizabeth Duck.  Here is the Elizabeth Duck Facts screen from one of the trees:

The Facts screen for the potential father of my Hannah Smith is:

 This particular tree has 25 children, born between 1744 and 1766), with several apparent duplicate entries.  However, a Hannah Smith born in about 1768 is not among them.

A similar thing occurred with the tree of the second DNA match - this time there are 76 trees with Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Duck) Smith.  The one with the most sources, has 19 children born between 1744 and 1766, with several duplicate names, and no Hannah.  There are two other marriages listed for Nathaniel in Yorkshire, one in 1769 and one in 1776.

I didn't check the other 75 trees.

Evaluating the Potential Ancestors of Nathaniel Smith and Elizabeth Duck entailed answering these questions:

*  Is the actual birth of Hannah Smith (1768-1827) possible?  Yes it is, Elizabeth (Duck) Smith would have been 45 years old in 1768.

*  Was the Nathaniel Smith/Elizabeth Duck family in Massachusetts in 1768 when Hannah was born there?  No, they were still in Yorkshire according to the births of all their children (before 1766).  There is a migration record for a Nathaniel Smith to Canada in 1774, and a daughter died in Nova Scotia in 17812.  Nathaniel died in nova Scotia in 1791, and Elizabeth died in Nova Scotia in 1810.  Some of the listed children moved to Ontario in later years.

*  Was the Nathaniel Smith/Elizabeth Duck  family in Massachusetts when my Hannah Smith married Josiah Sartell in 1789 in Amherst, Mass.  It is very likely that the Smith/Duck family were in Nova Scotia in 1789.  It is  likely that the parents of 21 year old Hannah Smith would reside near her at the time of her marriage.

Other thoughts I have include:

*  I continue to think that has a BIG collaborative tree, and somehow my Hannah Smith was connected to it by someone choosing the Nathaniel Smith/Elizabeth Duck family  (because they had a lot of known (?)  children?).  I would love to understand the logic string of that connection decision - are there records of who did the connections and why?  What are the odds that a single young woman would migrate from Nova Scotia to western Massachusetts by 1789?

*  Hannah Smith is a very common name, especially in 1768 Massachusetts.  There are 10 different recorded birth entries of a Hannah Smith born between 1767 and 1769 in Massachusetts Town and Vital Records collection.  What are the odds that one of those is my Hannah Smith?  What are the odds that the birth or baptism of my Hannah Smith was not recorded?

*  I share DNA with my two DNA Matches listed on my ThruLines, but I think that the common ancestors are NOT Nathaniel Smith and Elizabeth Duck.  Looking at the Ancestry tree of my two DNA matches indicates that one has a significant Ontario ancestry, and the other has British Isles and Australia ancestry, with one line in Nova Scotia.  I have Nova Scotia and Ontario lines through my Kemp and Sovereen lines.  I looked at the Shared Matches for the two matches, but there was only one without a tree.

My conclusion, after considerable critical thinking, is that:

My Hannah Smith (1768-1827) is NOT the daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Duck) Smith who settled in Nova Scotia in the 1774-1782 time frame.  

Therefore, these particular ThruLines are wrong.

What other "Critical thinking" about my Hannah Smith and these potential parents should I consider?


Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Marie Cooke Beckman said...

Sometimes when there are only a few trees listed you can see where one of the users has attached a record or record of your ancestor to a person in their tree with a similar name/age etc. This has happened a few times in mine one in particular is where a DNA match has an Ancestor whose name is the same as my Paternal Aunt. Birth year and parents first names are also the Tom and Pearl. The user attached my Aunt's census records(I think it was 1920 & 1930) to their ancestor. It just happened that I also had a DNA match though it was no where close to the range it should have been for the given relationship.