One of the many wonderful things about Ancestry.com is that they offer a DNA test (for genealogical purposes only). The price has been dropping and will probably continue to drop as more people take the test. Currently, it’s $99 and was recently on sale for a couple of days at a new low of $79. Test results show, among other things, all the Ancestry.com members whose DNA matches yours, the names common between your family trees, and your predicted degree of separation. It’s up to the individual members to see if they can find the real-person connections.
I took the Ancestry DNA test about a year ago. So far, from hundreds of results, I’ve only been able to find the family link with one of my member matches. Ancestry.com categorizes this person as a probable 4th cousin (4th to 6th range). I was able to discover our connection because the name common to our trees, Strickler, was an unusual one and easy to recognize. Still, I had to go back many generations to find our mutual ancestor. It turns out that this probable 4th cousin is actually an 8th cousin 3x removed; 10 generations back in my line and 13 generations in his. Obviously, this lone result is only anecdotal and tells nothing about the accuracy of any of my other member matches. Still, this single result does fall far outside Ancestry.com’s own predicted statistical variation.
I suppose it’s possible that the Strickler cousin and I have another family connection closer in time, and actually are 4th cousins, but it seems unlikely. I’ve only gotten one closer DNA match; a 3rd cousin. I haven’t been able find our connection. Having calculated this 4th cousin’s actual degree of separation, I’m glad I haven’t spent more time trying to find the connections with my other matches. I think I’ll just wait until some 2nd cousins appear!