Behind the scenes, ever since Ancestry.com updated their DNA ethnicity results this month, I've been reconstructing one branch of my maternal Tilson line. The reason? I have a new DNA match who connects to that same Tilson line. As I always do with my DNA matches, I like to show where that person belongs in my tree to confirm the relationship both on paper and genetically.
There's only one catch, however: his posted tree and mine don't seem to match. There are doubtless many reasons for that. Hence the tedium and delay in reaching any documented conclusion.
The problem may lie in the propensity of our ancestors to recycle given names. Specifically, there are too many Thomas Tilsons in the family's history. As far as the paperwork goes, one of us may have zigged when we should have zagged down that branch of the family.
Admittedly, I took a long look at the one published genealogy of the Tilson line, assembled by Mercer V. Tilson in 1911. While I cross check all material I find in books like this by current research tools and resources, I know this book has been considered a dependable source. Though the volume was published well over one hundred years ago and thus not currently in circulation, it is still accessible in searchable format on Internet Archive. For those who have subscriptions to Ancestry.com, the Mercer Tilson book is also included in their collection labeled "North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000." Using the sidebar to the right of that search page on Ancestry, that specific volume can be isolated for your search, then the result added right to your tree.
Of course, we can use such nifty search devices only if we are certain of the addition. In this DNA case, each of us has pointed to a different Thomas Tilson. Thus, I'm back to tree building.
The Tilson family is of particular interest to me, only because of yet another family to which it links: all the way back to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of Mayflower heritage. I've been working on documenting my branch of this line for years, and there is still so much work yet to be done. It is mind boggling to think of all the descendants of this Tilson line, let alone the full complement of Alden descendants. And yet, it takes proceeding step by step—adding DNA matches with the proper documentation when available—to reach such a goal.