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When it comes to RootsTech Relatives…

As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern time today, The Legal Genealogist reportedly has 9,219 relatives attending the RootsTech 2023 conference either in person or virtually next week.

RootsTech relatives

They’re all on my mother’s side (what’s up with my paternal Germans???), and though mostly in the United States (7,500+ of them), they’re spread out all over the world — 113 in Canada, 15 in the United Kingdom, five in Germany, four each in Australia and Ireland, a bunch of pairs in Ecuador, Japan and New Zealand, and lonely onlies in 13 other locations ranging from Central America through the Middle East.

Nine thousand plus relatives.



Color me skeptical.

Because the RootsTech Relatives relative-matching is based on the FamilySearch Family Tree — a collaborative one-world tree that historically has been undocumented and error-ridden — in past years, even the closest connections have been … um … let’s just say dubious.

So I set out this morning to test my RootsTech Relatives to see how many of my closest reported cousins might be likely correct, unproven or — based on what I know of my ancestors — just wrong.

Now… I’m not going to go looking at 9,000+ connections. I assume that anybody reported as a 12th cousin is at best unproven or — more probably — dead wrong. Because RootsTech Relatives lets you see how many matches you have by ancestor, I can already put a bunch in the “just dead wrong” category:

• My Baker line does not descend from the Samuel Baker who married Eleanor Winslow. DNA has definitively disproved that. Lop off 272 folks who get matched to me on that line.

• There is no way in God’s green earth that my Philip Shew, born around 1750, can be the son of Anna Elisabetha Kiessling, born in 1678. Folks, seriously, a 72-year-old mama in the 1750s? Wipe off another 65 matches.

• And I do not descend from two different sets of parents for my Arthur Buchanan. Really.

It’s these sorts of things that make me really skeptical — and I’ve given up every time I’ve tried to do even minor corrections to the tree. They’re too complicated, and somebody comes right along behind me and changes things back.

So I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting much in looking even just at my handful of fourth-to-fifth cousins — folks who should be close enough to a common ancestor that both our trees should be correct. So I looked at 29 supposed cousins in all: one fourth cousin, four fourth cousins once removed (4C1R), four fourth cousins twice removed (4C2R), two fourth cousins three times removed (4C3R), and 18 fifth cousins.

Color me — well… less skeptical, at least in these closer relationships.

My fourth cousin, in my Baker line, should be correct.

Of my 4C1R, there’s one that should be correct descending from my Shew-Battles ancestors; two Baker descendants that should be right, and one descending from my Battles-Jacobs fourth great grandparents that looks good.

Of my 4C2R, there’s one in my Fore line where DNA says there’s likely a link but I’m not sure the woman the cousin descends from is a sister of the woman I descend from, so I list that as unproven. The others — one each in my Gentry-Killen, Baker, and Wiseman lines — all look to be correct.

Of my 4C3R, there’s another in that unproven Fore line and one unproven on my side to the parents of a fifth great grandmother.

And of my fifth cousins, there’s one in the Fore line where DNA tells us his Culvin Fore line is related to my Jesse Fore line — but we can’t prove the parents of either Culvin or Jesse. The others all look correct: one in my Campbell-McInnis line; two in the Moore-Ballew line; two in the Battles-Jacobs line; two in the Baker line; three in the Baird line; and seven in my exceedingly prolific Buchanan-Jones line.

So… 29 calculated cousins to the fifth cousin level. None dead wrong. Three unproven. And 25 apparently correct — including some new folks I can reach out to and work with.

This is much much better than it’s been in the past. More connections, more accuracy.


I’ll go there.

Color me impressed.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Color me…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 25 Feb 2023).


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