Friday, January 15, 2016
Time to Dig In
Sometimes, it's time to stop learning all the ins and outs of the conceptual side of a new skill, and roll up one's sleeves and dig into the nitty gritty for ourselves. At the genetic genealogy class at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, I'm now ready to give it a go. There can't possibly be any more room in my overstuffed brain for more information to take up residence, and I'm more than ready to put to use all I've gained in this past week—before I forget it.
Thankfully, yesterday's classes came to a close with a few case studies. That satisfied my growing appetite for the practical side of the experience. My ears perked up when I realized one of the cases involved a family in Perry County, Ohio. Now, that's a place I'm familiar with! Thanks to my mother-in-law and research on her extended family—some of them resident in that county since the time in which it was formed in 1818—I think I even spotted a surname in that case study that I recognize.
It isn't lost on me, however, that in order to proceed with the work that happens after those DNA test results are tabulated, there are a few necessary preliminary details. First of all, it is essential to have your own tree in as good an order as possible, for efforts to confirm—or disprove—relationships with DNA matches can only be as good as one's paper trail is accurate (at least for starters). The corollary of that provides the second detail: you have to realize that the other party's family tree may need a tune-up, as well (to put it kindly in some cases).
The bottom line, however, is that you can't have matches unless those other, unknown, mystery relatives also take a notion to blow a hundred bucks or so on this extravagant chase known as DNA testing. In the case of curious people with recent immigrant backgrounds, that may mean having to depend on (possibly as-yet-unknown) relatives in other countries having the means to purchase such kits. That chance is sometimes regrettably slim.
Thankfully, by virtue of the details I've learned during this week's class, I feel better equipped to tackle the nearly one thousand matches that have accumulated in my own account at Family Tree DNA. In addition, as was recommended before the class began, I've now tested at a second DNA company—AncestryDNA—and also uploaded my results to GEDmatch, a website providing not only a place for customers of all three companies to compare their results, but a set of tools for further analysis.
It will take some hands-on work to get enough practice at these three websites to arrive at the station of feeling facile at these analysis skills. However, I'm more than ready to get started.