Sunday, September 24, 2017
When Progress Stands Still
Research goals are an admirable dream—and sometimes even become reality. Other times, they don't. These past two weeks made one of those times when they didn't.
It's time for my biweekly recap of research progress. I had hoped, recently, to focus on my two paternal trees—that of my father's mystery ancestry, and that of my father-in-law's Irish roots—but other research goals sucked all the time out of these past two weeks.
Let's face it: wandering around the wilderness in the pursuit of adventurers like Daniel Boone can take up a lot of time. Those land surveyors in the wilderness of 1700s southwest Virginia may have been trailblazers, but they didn't include paper-trail-blazing in that endeavor. It's been all I can do, just to climb that steep learning curve at the beginning of this ancestral exploration.
In the meantime, my biweekly reports for both fathers' families yield a big fat zero for progress. My father's tree stands at the same 450 head count it did two weeks ago, and my father-in-law's tree remains at 1,321 people. No excitement there. Maybe next time.
Even the other two trees I'm tracking didn't progress much. My mother's tree increased sixty nine names to total 11,405 this week. My mother-in-law's tree saw forty nine additional names push the total there to 12,628. I suspect the only reason my mother's line advanced was because that Tilson family I've been chasing through colonial Virginia belonged to her family. And my mother-in-law's increase was likely due to working through some correspondence with a DNA match so that I could plug her into the right branch on that tree.
Meanwhile, I'm not the only one experiencing slowdowns. The few new DNA matches that trickled in these past two weeks remind me that a great many people in this country have had their mind on things other than DNA in the last few weeks.
Still, I gained twenty two matches at FamilyTreeDNA and nineteen at AncestryDNA, leaving me a total of 2,384 and 728, respectively. Of course, the ever-shrinking total at 23andMe—perhaps this company should be renamed 23minusMe?—went down seventeen to wrap up the fortnight at 1,153.
Those same trends were represented in my husband's DNA results as well. He saw a gain of nine at FTDNA and seven at AncestryDNA, making me wish for that likely holiday sale time to hurry up and get here. I should be happy for those 1,534 and 346 total matches, respectively—especially compared to the shrinking sixteen yielding 1,207 at 23andMe—but I'm always greedy for yet one more solid DNA cousin match.
No matter what the numbers say, I need a reality check. The long-term biweekly measurement shows me overall progress, week over week, but within that bigger picture, I'll encounter smaller episodes that simply need to be inspected further. This colonial Virginia wilderness goal—while a huge learning curve in its own right, taking much of my research energy at the moment—is still a goal within a goal. No sense allowing any disappointment over "lack of progress." Things like this just take time—and some smaller goals may take longer to achieve in the short run than others take in the big picture. It's all a matter of perspective.
And a little pep talk like that doesn't hurt, from time to time, either.