DNA research, Family History

How I’m using Ancestry’s new Thrulines

When Ancestry.com announced their new Thrulines program was going to replace the DNA Circles, I have to admit I was stoked. I never really understood the Circles or what they actually meant to me so I pretty much just skipped over that tool completely. Thrulines replaced that concept with one that, to me at least, makes a lot more sense and seems to be helping me use my matches to prove my theories.

I wanted to throw out the way I’ve been using them to help with a particularly troubling relationship that I’ve been working on in hopes that it may help someone else find their missing link.

My 2nd great-grandmother, Dora A. Bush b. April 1880, has been a long-standing brick wall for me. I have been able to find very little documentation on her life and I was too young to care much when the last of her children died (my Granny, her daughter, died when I was nine). Since my mid-twenties I have been trying to tie down where she came from and what happened to her, and in all honesty, I’ve made little progress.

What I could find, via only TWO census records, was that she was born in Tennessee, married David E. Evans around 1896, and was living in Pemiscot County, Missouri in 1900. By 1910, her husband had died and she moved to the neighboring county of Mississippi County in Arkansas. She was running a boarding house and trying to raise 8 kids by herself. By 1920, she disappears from the census and her minor children are all living with her oldest daughter and her family, so I’m assuming that means that she died sometime between 1910 and 1920. I have been unable to find a birth or death record, nor does she seem to be buried in either county.

Ancestry, in its wisdom, gave me a shaky leaf hint a few years ago that suggested that my Dora A Bush was the same as a Dora A Bush that was listed on the 1880 census in Perry County, Tennessee, daughter of Thomas M and Emily M Bush. The age matched up, and the place of birth of Tennessee was correct, but Perry County, Tennessee, was a long way from Pemiscot County, Missouri.

TN-MO shared border counties
Map showing Perry County, Tennessee, and Pemiscot County, Missouri

I didn’t rule it out because of the distance, but I also can’t prove that the Dora in Perry County in 1880 is the same as Dora in Pemiscot County in 1900. I have worked on this case off and on for years and have still been unable to find any documentation proving this relationship. Enter Ancestry’s Thrulines.

I decided to use the Thrulines’ suggested relationships to see if I shared any DNA matches with Thomas M Bush. I went ahead and attached Thomas and Emily as parents of Dora in my (non-public) working tree on Ancestry. I tagged them both as Hypothesis so that I would know that I hadn’t proven the relationship. I then went to Thrulines and found them in my list of ancestors. I clicked on Thomas’s name, and lo and behold, one of my matches displayed as the descendant of Thomas through another child. I went back to the 1880 census record and found that the other child (Charles Emmett Bush) was also listed on that census.

Thrulines suggested relationship between DNA matches

From here, I created the people that are shown in green in my working tree, working down to the match (I erased the names of living individuals for privacy’s sake). On each of new entries from Charles Bush down to Robert A Braswell, I tagged them within my tree as a DNA Connection. The match himself is tagged as a DNA Match, and Thomas is tagged as a DNA Common Ancestors. Then I also added a source to my new cousin match that showed the Thrulines relationship. Within my Ancestry tree, the source looks like this:

Citation of Thrulines suggested relationship. Identifying information removed for privacy of living individuals

Within my genealogy software program (I use RootsMagic) and in the research report that I’m writing on my search for Dora’s parents, the citation is entered like this:

Ancestry, DNA test for Sheri Walls, (accessed 7 July 2019), Thrulines descendants for Thomas M Bush https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-geneticfamily/thrulines/tree/xxxx

I am still on the hunt for documentation of Dora’s life – there are too many holes in my research for her – but I finally feel like there may be some credence to the suggestion that Thomas M and Emily M Bush are her parents. Although DNA evidence this far removed can’t serve as direct evidence, it will be powerful supporting documentation to go with any paper records that I find later. In the meantime, I am adding Thomas and Emily to RootsMagic and citing this Thrulines as proof.


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