I’ve been pursuing genetic genealogy for over 4 years, but even I am not immune to a rookie mistake.
The rule I broke? Screenshot everything.
A new match showed up for my father on FamilyTreeDNA in late December. It was the key match connecting our one Horne cousin without pedigree collapse (who only tested at FTDNA) to a descendant of Samuel Smart and Adeline Shaver. It was great evidence for this couple as Georgia Smart’s parents. While I was waiting for my cousin to send the shared centiMorgan (cM) data, I emailed the match and introduced myself. I recognized her name from my extensive research into the Smart family and explained how we were connected.
And I must have scared her away. Within 72 hours of the email, the match was gone. She either deleted her test results or chose to no longer share. Unfortunately, it was before my Horne cousin logged in for the data.
Lessons learned: yes, screenshot everything. I previously thought this problem only impacted people searching for — or unexpectedly finding — close family. However, even contact from an unknown 2nd cousin seems to have spooked this match. I also would have benefited from having low-level access to my Horne cousin’s FTDNA account to grab the shared cM data and try to triangulate the match myself. My cousin isn’t quite as interested in the nitty gritty DNA details like me, so she doesn’t always respond quickly.
Oh well, more and more people test each month. One day I’ll have more evidence or find a tester willing to transfer to GEDMatch. Until then, I wait.