Part 2: The Tools

Using Tools with your Automal DNA results to Solve Unknown Parentage Cases


All my slides are at

There are many automated tools  to help with the process of finding unknown parentage

My favorites are:

GWorks from

DNA2tree (iPad and iPhone only)


and DNA2tree

There are also many techniques to help with the process of finding unknown parentage

My favorites are:

The Leeds Method 

Building the trees of your matches is always the most important technique

Copying family groups from Ancestry Trees to my research tree

You might try using the "What Are The Odds" tool at DNApainter to check your theory - 

You also might try using "Genome Mate Pro" to organize your DNA segment data see 



In order to upload a GEDCOM to Ancestry you need to create one

Pedigree Thief can create an Ahnentafel from a pedigree on some sites:

  • A pedigree view on
  • An ancestor list on


Here is how I copy a family group from another Ancestry tree into my research tree

One way is to copy from a profile in another tree via Tools then Save to Tree

Save to Tree brings up this box

Click on Add a new person, once this person is added, click your browser's back button twice to go back to the oriiginal tree and add this person again with the whole family group

Now use Tools then Save to Tree again. This time you can start typing the name and Ancestry will find him with the auto fill feature

Click the found name and then click Save

Now click the checkbox next to each family member you want to copy over and then Save to your tree

Another approach when the person is already in your tree is to use the trees on the Hints page

I check the checkbox for the best looking trees that have him and his parents

Then Review selected tree hints gets us the page where we can copy over each family member

You can keep repeating that as you build the tree up, go to his father's page and click on Ancestry Family Trees under Sources

A box comes up, click the View individual member trees

If the tree you copied him from has his parents then just click his name to go to his profile in that tree and use the Tools then Save to Tree to copy him with his family group from that tree

GWorks from is my go to tool for building a database of the ancestors of your matches

These are the names of the original Spanish settlers of New Mexico
These numbers for the tree matches scream out ENDOGAMY

If you watched my first talk, I glossed over how I had the surnames for Tessa's paternal match ancestors, in fact I used GWorks

Jane had a third cousin match at Ancestry with a good tree

Can  GWorks can identify which line from the second cousin match is the one they are related on?

Top ten ancestors in GWorks

Can you find any GWorks listed names in the far right of the pedigree?

The Pratt Cranford marriage has 8 children

Three of them have DNA tested descendants, check the abbreviated McGuire diagram for clues

3 children


Surname frequency from GWorks can help you decide which children's trees to build down in an unknown parentage case

So the next step was to look for the surname of Pratt B's wife and then for child D's spouse

Targeted Testing

Child D's spouse's surname is in the database many times, now to get a child of D, a possible parent to test

Clustering is a powerful way to group your related matches together in a visual diagram, this one is from DNAgedcom

This cluster diagram is from GEDmatch

Ancestry has disallowed 3rd party tools to cluster your DNA matches there

but they have the ability to color code your matches into 24 groups plus star your "favorites" 

DNA2tree is only on iPhones and iPads via a paid subscription but it is a real game changer for unknown parentage searches

Next click on Find Common Ancestors

Here is a sample set of Common Ancestors 

Note the repeating usernames (privatized) 

See what happens when you Merge Common Ancestors

Now there are only three lines, with no duplication of user names

Details of the Bugden matches

DNA2tree asks you what to call the tree and then builds that tree on your account at Ancestry


BUGDEN tree at Ancestry built by DNA2tree

Thomas BUGDEN  at Ancestry built by DNA2tree


Notice that only his children with DNA tested descendants are listed


And the two Elizabeths are the same person


So much work was still needed on this tree

Thomas BUGDEN  at Ancestry with all his children added by us



BUGDEN pedigree for father's mother, full story here:

However there are far fewer Y testers than autosomal, so you may have no close matches, particularly if your paternal roots are not American:​



If you are have a male line descendant from the unknown father, grandfather, or other ancestor you can test Y DNA which passes unchanged father to son

Y 37 STR marker results for an Ashkenzi Jewish man

If you are from a population group who only took surnames in the last 100-200 years, a Y test is unlikely to give you a surname

Further investigation, thanks to the Gilliland surname project at Family Tree DNA, discovered a branch of Smiths whose paternal line seems to have come from a GILLILAND in the 1700s!

Barry's autosomal DNA indicated that his unknown father was clearly a SMITH from a particular Southern town but look what the Y DNA showed!

2. Are there any close matches (1st cousins or closer), figure it out from there

3. Are there several second cousins who are not matches for each other? Build their trees

4. If you have DNA2tree, use it to find common ancestors and build a research tree or two

 5. Still puzzled? Run GWorks on DNAgedcom   and add trees collected elsewhere

  6. Might a Y DNA test help?


1. Use the "Are your parents related" (AYPR) tool at GEDmatch on the adoptee

Unknown Parentage Searches Part 2 - Rootstech 2021

By Kitty Cooper

Unknown Parentage Searches Part 2 - Rootstech 2021

Automated tree building tools like DNA2tree and Genetic Affairs are making many unknown parentage cases much easier to solve. These are game changers!

  • 1,818