Saturday, June 18, 2016
Opening up Possibilities
It's amazing what a little work, consistently applied, can do for research results. For years now, I've puzzled over DNA test results, wondering "Who are all these people?!"
One by one, I'm now beginning to find some of the answers. It hasn't been easy. And certainly not quick. It's mostly thanks to that plodding strategy to build out my family trees to represent all the descendants of—rather than ancestors of—key people in our family's trees.
It's interesting how, a hundred years ago, genealogy books would often represent a family's line in titles such as "The Descendants of..." Not so today. With our pedigree chart construction serving as inspiration, it is you at the center of the universe, not your revered ancestor. What used to be the standard genealogical tome of the last century is now blithely dubbed "reverse genealogy."
Since when did we reverse engines?
Using a bit of that reverse genealogy technique—a.k.a. old fashioned genealogical research—I've been building family trees which do show all the descendants of key ancestors. And through that process, I'm finally breaking through to find the nexus with all these "matches" that never seemed to match up with my tree before.
I mentioned one such match earlier this week, when I found a Snider immigrant to Minnesota who married a Larson. Finally, a way to connect to a DNA match whose tree didn't quite reach back far enough to confirm connection with a name as common as Snider. These things only seem to happen as I push out the margins on the trees of all my ancestors' siblings' families.
If it seems that my trees are growing inordinately fast, that's the reason why. All those Catholic families with a dozen children—multiplied over several generations of descendants—can add up to a sizeable tree.
So here's where we stand this week.
An extra ninety four entries on my maternal tree brought the count there up to 7,995. Better yet, focusing on specific branches of my mother in law's tree, 161 additions upped the number there to 6,440.
Admittedly, progress slowed somewhat in the last half month owing to my trip down south to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree and genetic genealogy conference. But the key is to keep working at it, no matter what. Slow is better than nothing.
The DNA test results keep generating more matches, as well. I'm up to 1,226 matches for my results at Family Tree DNA, an increase of sixteen over the last half month. And for my Ancestry DNA results, I now have 307 matches, up nine.
My husband's DNA test results are on the rise, as well. He has 755 matches at Family Tree DNA, a modest increase of six since the last tally, and 129 at Ancestry DNA, up seven.
Of course, this adds up to some encouragement to keep plugging at those mystery matches. I was able to contact two of my husband's matches at Ancestry, and two at Family Tree DNA—two on behalf of his maternal side, the other connected to his father's side, which may turn out to be very helpful where I'm stuck there.
Even more encouraging was seeing my match increase at Family Tree DNA include two on my own paternal side, where I have been sidelined for ages. I have some ideas for breaking through that stalemate, but in the meantime, it's good to find some matches turning up, finally!
Yes, week after week, it may seem like the numbers go up so slowly, but over the long haul, this incremental process does work its own wonders. I'm certainly grateful for any progress made in connecting with distant family members. You never know which distant cousin may hold the key to answer the family history questions that have kept us stumped for years.