Saturday, May 7, 2016
A Focus on Gordons
Sometimes, work on family history takes a scattershot approach: you work on a little bit here, then a little bit there. The trouble with that approach is the resultant feeling that not much has been accomplished. And really, how would you know anything was accomplished, if you didn't have a goal?
Lately, I've been working on one specific goal: reconcile the gift of shared research material on the Gordon family of Perry County, Ohio, that I received over the past twenty years with my relatively newly-constructed tree on Ancestry.com. While most of that seems a fairly routine task—talk about grunt work!—it has had its up side. I've added a significant chunk of records to one specific branch of the tree.
It's a tedious process, first entering each person's data from the old file, then searching for the documentation which is now so much more readily available than it was, twenty years ago. Rather than relying on perhaps only two documents per person—say, the 1880 census record and an obituary—as the old file had, I now could lay out a cradle-to-grave paper trail of verification.
When it comes to tracking progress—and it is time for my bi-monthly statistics rundown—the effort to focus on this one family line certainly shows. The flip side, of course, is that all my other lines—both my paternal and maternal line, as well as my husband's paternal line—have slowed to a standstill, or at the very best, a trickle of new documents. But that is fine. A measurable goal is probably the most helpful in demonstrating research progress.
So, right off the bat, let me say I scrounged up a mere nineteen extra names to add to my maternal line, which now stands at 7,655. My paternal line is frozen in time, at 180 names. Likewise is my husband's paternal line, still weighing in at 955 names.
On my husband's maternal line—the spot which includes the Gordon line (in more places than one, as we've already demonstrated)—is where all the action was, these past two weeks. I managed to plow through a whopping 737 entries, leaving the tally there now at 5,347. And believe me, if I had more time, I could have done more. That Gordon tree residing in my old computer database is extensive.
In the meantime, while I was focusing on that Gordon line, there have been a number of changes in the DNA testing world, particularly at Ancestry DNA. I'm curious to see how the changes went for others. As for our family's tests, my husband gained only six additional matches at the range of fourth cousin or closer—while I gained exactly nada (a little post-Cinco de Mayo lingo for you, there). Yes, that's right: my Ancestry DNA account gained not a single extra match in the last two weeks. Go figure. Perhaps I should be grateful I didn't see the tally go backwards.
Interestingly enough, that was the exact same case for my Family Tree DNA account, as well: not a single addition of a match there for me. Although my husband's account at FTDNA yielded an addition twenty matches in the same time period, I can't say I did much of anything with them. Remember, I was focused on adding those Gordons to his tree. There is a price to be paid for focusing exclusively on one area.
Since my schedule will be slowing down a bit for the remainder of this month (yes, there is life after genealogy), I am hoping to accelerate this push to reconcile the Gordons between my two genealogy databases. By the second half of May, there should be another similar leap in numbers on that one tree—of course, at the expense of the other languishing collections. I doubt the project will be completed by then—perhaps I will be able to check for duplicate entries and eliminate some names as well—but by the end of the month, I suspect I'll be significantly closer to closing out this goal.
Despite that hackneyed mantra about never "finishing" one's genealogy, it will feel good to gain that sense of actually completing the task, as much an anathema as that concept of "finishing" seems to be in the realm of family history research.