Into any genealogical pursuit some tedium can be interjected. At this stage in chasing after the story of Nicholas and Anna Elizabeth Schneider, I've hit that lull. We've traced the Schneiders—most recently having changed their surname to the more Americanized Snider—from their 1818 arrival at their last residence in Perry County, Ohio, back to Emmitsburg, Maryland, then Conewago township of Adams County, Pennsylvania, before the trail fizzled out somewhere short of their port of arrival in Philadelphia.
Stuck at that point, my next research step was to face up to the fact that my husband—courtesy of his mother, the Perry County descendant of not one, but two Schneider sons—has over two hundred DNA matches all leading back to that same couple. Surely one of those two hundred would know a bit more about their founding immigrant ancestors.
Before I can find out by testing the waters with any one of them, though, I wanted to link each match to my husband's tree at Ancestry.com. The easiest way to do that is to use the ThruLines tool as a progress checklist. The best way to accomplish that, I discovered, required a slight change in the usual process.
Before this puzzle, I had only used the chart version of the ThruLines readout, which shows by default under the tab labeled "Relationships." In that version, DNA matches are aligned according to each match's specific line of descent.
In Nicholas Schneider's case, that meant slip-sliding my way along the chart in a most unwieldy manner, given the challenge of viewing Nicholas' seven children who gave him grandchildren plus the two extra names included by Ancestry which are not actually documented children of Nicholas.
You can see in the snippet of Nicholas' chart on Ancestry's ThruLines that the one screen view includes only two of his children. To see the rest, you need to wrestle with the right arrow icon to slide the readout, one extra child at a time.
At one point in the task of examining all two hundred nine Schneider matches, I tired of the tedium. Realizing I could toggle from the "Relationship" tab to the one labeled "List," I opted to give it a try. What a relief. I might never go back to the other style again.
From that point, I could isolate the descendants of one specific line, open only that tab, then go through the list, line by line, to inspect supporting documentation before making the decision to connect the match to my husband's tree.
The first step, though, needed to be a check point, as in the readout, Ancestry unfortunately doesn't differentiate between those matches I've already linked to my tree and those yet to be tackled. So, for instance, I'd first open the down arrow to the right of the Lewis Snider Family Line to reveal all twenty matches who trace their lineage back to Lewis Snider, son of Nicholas Schneider. Then, line by line, I'd open each match's readout to reveal that match's personal profile and see whether the linking icon was completely colored blue (signifying I've already linked the match in my tree), or whether the icon showed just a blue outline.
There were a surprising number of matches already linked, thankfully. But two hundred matches will take some time to review, even if most of the work is already completed. Some lines need a few more generations added before I can even make the connection, requiring the time to double-check even more documentation (rather than simply relying on another person's assertion in their own tree).
Bottom line: restacking the readout from relationship (tree) format to list format helped speed the process along. I was surprised to discover that. After so many years of genealogy research, my mind had learned to visualize relationships in chart form. How many times, in talking with someone about a research problem, had I grabbed some handy scrap paper to sketch out a pedigree chart. And yet, somehow, trying to cling to that format for work on DNA matches seemed clunky.
Perhaps it's the sheer number of descendants which makes the readout function too awkward. Or maybe, rather than visualizing relationships, I just want to cut to the chase and figure out where each person fits in the bigger picture. After all, I'll get to repeat this process over two hundred times before this month is out.