Sunday, October 21, 2018
Hunting Season for Cousins
My husband is in South Dakota right now. He told me that pheasant season just opened. It's incredible to learn of all the out-of-town visitors such an event can generate.
I'm on a different kind of hunt: I'm looking for cousins. Distant cousins. Lots of them. I don't expect any of them to fly into my city at the beginning of the genealogy season (whenever that might be); I have to go looking for them. And so, I continue working on my family trees, adding all the descendants of my ancestors I can find.
In the past two weeks, I managed to find 246 of them—at least on my mother's side, that family tree with southern roots I'm currently pursuing in preparation for my class at SLIG next January. My mom's tree now has 15,395 people documented in that database, the great majority of them—with the exception of my mother's immediate line—still residing in the south.
What's really great about the hunt for cousins this past two weeks is that I finally made a breakthrough. I've always seen cousin matches on my DNA results with surnames belonging to my mother-in-law's lines. I've seen enough of those names—in particular, Flowers and Gordon—to wonder whether my husband and I are related but didn't know it. After all, our respective mothers attended high schools barely sixty miles apart. What are the chances?
As it turns out, the chances are nil. I had already checked that out, thanks to the GEDmatch.com utility, but knowing that my mother's roots were in the deep south while my mother-in-law's were anchored for generations in the same place in Perry County, Ohio, gave me yet another reason to wonder why so many of her surnames kept showing up in my family tree.
The answers showed up while I was working on my mother's tree last week. In two different instances, descendants from my mother's McClellan line happened to marry men with surnames prevalent in my mother-in-law's line. Of course, those happened to be fairly common surnames, but still, it had me wondering. Now, hopefully, this realization will help me sort out some of those thousands of cousin matches more accurately—or at least free me from that nagging thought that my daughter is her own cousin.
Speaking of cousin matches to deal with, I have well over one thousand at AncestryDNA, with 3,324 at Family Tree DNA, 1028 at 23andMe, and a mind-boggling 5,744 at MyHeritage. That's enough to keep me busy for a long time, hunting for the nexus that connects me with their family trees.