After several years, I've finally gotten around to starting to work with my wife Lisa's DNA results. She's the only one I've tested through AncestryDNA, so I'm not as familiar with their system as I am with 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA. I logged into her account, and saw that she has three matches listed as "2nd cousin". One has no tree, one is "tree unavailable", and one has a tree of nine people. Nine people isn't a very deep tree, but it's better than zero or unavailable, so I went with that one.
The match's tree only lists her parents (mom is presumably still alive, as the name is "private") and grandparents. My first thought was "I hope she really is a 2nd cousin, or this isn't going to go very well." As I looked over the names, the name of her maternal grandmother stuck out - Anna Rebecca Hudson. Hudson is a surname I know is in Lisa's tree. I checked, and her maternal great-grandmother was Bertha Hudson, wife of Raymond Red Corn. This was looking promising!
I went through Bertha's siblings, and there was indeed an Anna Hudson in my tree, the youngest of Bertha's 10(!) siblings. The information I had on Anna showed her marrying a guy named Edward Rogers, with whom she had two sons. Lisa's match had Anna marrying Lewis Edward Rogers, and their daughter being the mother of Lisa's match. Since I didn't show them as having a daughter, I went digging, and soon found the 1940 census for Anna's family. It showed Anna living with her husband, Lewis E. Rogers, and their three children, two boys and a girl! Further digging pulled up church records of this daughter and her husband, the father of Lisa's match. Other records even showed their daughter, Lisa's actual match! Not very often you search a genealogy website and find not-too-distant records of living people, but it does happen sometimes.
Using this information, I was able to determine that Lisa's "2nd cousin" match is actually a 2nd cousin once removed. 2nd cousins share an average of 3.125% of their DNA. 2nd cousins once removed share half that, so about 1.56%. 3rd cousins are half that again, or around 0.78%. I'd have to look up the percentage range charts, but it's interesting that the match would show up on the 2nd cousin rather than the 3rd cousin level, since it seems closer to 3rd than 2nd, in terms of percentages.
I know, both from experience and from reading the experiences of others, that most DNA matches are not resolved so easily. But I was very happy that is one seems to be just what Ancestry reported it to be. There are a lot more features on AncestryDNA that I need to explore further, especially the DNA Circles feature that so many others have written about. One of the circles given for Lisa and this match is called "Thomas Berry Hudson DNA Circle", which sounds very intriguing as Thomas Berry Hudson was the father of Bertha and Anna Hudson. I really wish AncestryDNA would give us a chromosome browser so we could see the actual matching segments that came from Thomas and/or his wife Anna Johnson, but since they won't for whatever reason, I have to hope this match has uploaded her data to gedmatch.com. I'll have to come back and look at these circles, and see who else matches Lisa and her match, and is also descended from Thomas and Anna. Very exciting stuff!!