Sunday, November 3, 2019

Counting on It

I can't always count on having enough time in a day to work on any genealogical research for my own family. I have specific research objectives for the four lines I'm following right now—one for each of my parents, plus one each for my in-laws—but there are always side interests diverting my attention.

The research plan, for the past four months, has been to focus on my mother's ancestral line which leads back to colonial Virginia. The reason is simple: I'm taking a class on that very subject next January at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and I don't want to walk into that classroom devoid of any knowledge of the topic. I prefer to be mildly uninformed, not totally ignorant.

However, among those standing rules for research—at least in my case—are two other caveats. One is that, should an obituary surface for any distant cousins, I must stop what I'm doing and capture what I can glean from the published article. The second is that, in the case of a newly-discovered close DNA match, I check out what can be found about the line that match represents, not only to see if it is verifiable, but to make sure my tree reflects the full extent of what that discovery reveals.

Just those two orders of the day can keep me busy for a week at a time. And that's the way it's been since my last biweekly count.

I did, however, manage to get some work done on the main line of my Virginia focus. I was able to verify the addition of 149 new individuals, bringing the total on my mother's tree to 19,374 people. Even that progress, however, came at the same time, thanks to MyHeritage's Theory of Family Relativity™ prompts, as the discovery of a DNA match at that company.

Progress on my mother-in-law's line was unfortunately due to some obituaries I found through a subscription mailing list for her hometown. That brought on the addition of forty six new names, bringing the total on her tree to 17,194. I know there are several more obituaries I received notification on, so I'm still catching up on that list. The additional research from these obituaries will bring on more names for her tree next week, as well.

But even on my father's tree—the one that seems perennially stuck at the same spot—I managed to add some names. That tree is usually stuck, owing to the brick wall of my paternal grandfather's unrevealed past, but bit by bit, DNA matches are unlocking the secrets there, leading to the addition of thirty four new names in the past two weeks. My father's tree now includes data on 654 people, after having been stuck at the same count for weeks on end.

That count on my dad's line does not include the world of DNA relatives I've met through seven DNA matches since last summer. I started an entirely separate tree to work on that puzzle—I still don't know for sure how all these people match me, other than to hypothesize that they connect with my paternal grandfather's mother. Until I know for sure, I am keeping that tree separate. Whereas I had 174 names in that private, unsearchable tree two weeks ago, I've added 106 more names to the tree to bring the new total to 280 individuals in that extended family. Someday, that will become an instant increase to the 654 people I now have on my dad's confirmed family tree.

It looks like all four of my major trees received some attention in the last two weeks. Even my father-in-law's tree managed to gain another twelve names, to edge up to 1,563 names. Working this plan, and keeping at it, bit by bit each day, over the long haul, the progress can stack up. And that, of course, is encouraging, especially on those lines in which I never expected to learn anything more.

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