If You’re My Cousin Why Don’t You Answer My Email? Part Two

Now that you’ve read Part One and are sure that your message is getting through from your side.. you can only hope that your cousins are fixing their system on their side.  But when you do send that email off are you getting your point across?

When writing to a DNA or genealogy connection make sure you provide details as to where the connection was made, who you are (your username) and which kit # . Don’t assume that the person you are connecting with only looks after one kit. They may look after many so not knowing which kit you’re talking about might make them not bother to dig further.  So write something like; I match your kit #….. or in the case of Ancestry you could write I match your kit D.M.admin’d by Jay70_1 .

Also when you do have their direct email tell them whether your match was on Family Tree DNA or was it Gedmatch? If your connection is on the Family Tree DNA site then let them know what kind of kit you’re talking about; that you are looking at a Y-DNA kit, Family Finder kit or mtDNA kit. You want to make it easy.

We live in a fast-paced busy world so you need to get to the point. You don’t want them to get turned off trying to figure out what you’re trying to say. So don’t write a full-page essay about your family.

I’m a genealogist but sometimes I get lost when someone is explaining; my 2nd great grandfather’s sister’s husband…. etc. If you think they are a match to a particular name then give them that information but always leave it a bit open. If I say;  I think you are a match to my William Beaton they may think “I don’t have that name” and that’s the end of it. Sometimes what I write is that I believe that their connection is through my Beaton line which has a  brick wall so please don’t just look at the names in my tree please also look at the locations or I’ll spell out the places if I’m fairly confident about where they may connect.

So, for instance, my DNA is leading me to believe my Beaton/Batten Mystery has an Oxfordshire, England connection. So anyone I message that might be connected through that line will not see any surnames they recognize in my tree and won’t see Oxfordshire in my tree either. So I tell them a very short synopsis about my grandfather being adopted and that he most likely was born in Kingston, Ontario but there may be a connection back to Oxfordshire, England which I’ve discovered through DNA.  But I try to be careful to not write too much detail but enough that they will reply.  I try to make it a bit intriguing to hopefully have them take the time to contact me back.

Here are a few ideas that I use.

  1. Make a template that you can copy and paste and then just fill in the appropriate information. That way your introduction will be consistent.
  2. Keep a word document or Excel spreadsheet detailing who’ve you’ve contacted and when. There are times that you won’t get a reply for several months and this will help you remember who these people were and where you thought you connected. This master spreadsheet (and that’s what I call mine) is especially important when you are an admin for more than one kit. Then I would suggest having one spreadsheet with a tab for each of the kits you admin. and then columns for important details. You may start out tracking or not tracking the correct things but you can adjust the document as you go along. I even keep a column called Notes; where I copy and past their reply info.
  3. If it’s an AncestryDNA or Family Tree DNA connection then take advantage of the note section to write when and what you have written. I also copy and past reply info when I get it so that I can read it at a glance when I’m working on my DNA. But still, keep that primary spreadsheet for all the companies you’ve tested with so you can have one go-to place when someone contacts you.
  4. I usually only try to make contact two or at the very most three times. I do this because they may have not seen my original email or they did and they forgot about it. But after that,  hounding them won’t change their minds.

Much of what I do with my DNA is to solve my family mysteries. So often I’m hoping that people will do their DNA and hope one of all of my family will match that person. But sometimes if I have a hunch on a family line I will work that tree forward or look at other public trees with those  people and then see if the person who has that tree is a direct line and if I’m fairly confident then I will contact them and ask them if they’ve done a DNA test and if so where and if they haven’t then I encourage them to do so. I’ve even offered to pay for a few but only when I pretty sure of the outcome.

My final thought is that when you do make a connection be understanding that the person you are connecting with may not know who their family is and that’s why they don’t have a tree, as there are many adoptees that use these DNA  sites to connect with their biological family. My brother-in-law whom I’m working with is adopted and his top three matches are either adopted or a child of an adoptee. One thing I do know is if I figure out my brother-in-law family I will be able to help several others.

I hope you’ve found some of this helpful and I’d love to hear about your experiences.



1 Comment

  • Lori says:

    I have contacted people on Ancestry to see how we are related so I can maybe find help with brick walls or help them with info, and many are just rude as they say they do not recognize any surnames and are not interested in corresponding, I guess honestly is best, but some of these names match me over and over (as 3-5 cousins) on Ancestry, 23andme and Gedmatch, so I know we are related and it would be nice to find out how. Obviously, I cannot force them and so I do not bother them again. But it makes me wonder why some people are so against helping one another and figuring out their connections.
    When I am contacted and I do not recognize a surname-I still answer back and try to make connections.
    I just find if frustrating.

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