Each discovery of a new line can precipitate an eruption of names added to the family tree. If you are like me, delving into the use of DNA to augment my document-based research, it is most helpful to pay attention to clues which sometimes can only be found by exploring collateral lines. See, those pesky kid brothers and sisters can turn out to be quite helpful, after all!
Now that I'm pushing up against brick wall boundaries for my fourth great-grandfather, Charles McClellan of Jefferson County, Florida, I'm once again eyeing those possible collateral lines. Sure, I already know about Charles' one confirmed son, George, whom he named in his will as executor of his estate; that's my direct line. But what about the others mentioned in his will—those two minor children left orphans at his passing, Samuel and Adeline? Even more to the point, what about those other McClellans living in the area who seem to be tangentially connected through evidence in documents, but without the benefit of an explicit comment identifying them as "my son" or "my daughter"?
In the next few days, we'll begin exploring whether those McClellans could be siblings of George. I'm already beginning to play with the records, and some give me enough confidence to add them to my tree—or at least attach them with warning notes and icons, so I can experiment with prompting Ancestry's hint mechanism to serve up more possible document sources.
In the meantime, that old family tree is erupting with additional names as I explore documentation of those collateral lines' own descendants and compare them to my McClellan DNA matches. In the past two weeks—make that just the last few days—I've added 181 names to my tree, all McClellan lines. That means the tree's branches now add up to 28,039 people. (Correspondingly, my in-laws' tree stood stock still at 26,200 names, since there were zero additions during my focus on the McClellan line on my own mom's side.)
While the DNA evidence can be reassuring, we always need to make sure we are interpreting the data correctly. After all, two people can be related for additional reasons, sometimes even for reasons we have yet to uncover. With that, it's back to the paper trail for me. I need to bolster this DNA confidence with some records of the paper variety.