Thursday, May 28, 2015

Something in Common

There’s nothing like being contacted by a distant cousin to rev up the search engines on a previously-forsaken line of research pursuit. After exhausting all possibilities for further progress following our research trip to Ireland last fall, I had set aside my work on the Stevens, Tully and related lines long before Christmas. I confess: I prefer progress to head banging on genealogical brick walls.

Now, prompted by a distant cousin’s recent contact, I’m returning to pursue those Irish roots on my husband’s side of the family. It sure would be handy to find a way to corroborate connections via DNA testing. A handy device for that—at least, based on my experience with my own autosomal test results at Family Tree DNA—has been the “In Common With” sorting option on their Family Finder program.

That’s the handy crossed double arrows button on the dashboard at FTDNA that I’ve used when working on my own lines. If you remember, I have a half brother who was willing to test. We share the paternal side of our family. Generally, on my autosomal DNA results, if I want to eliminate results from my maternal side and hone in on my paternal ancestors, I can go to my brother’s entry on my readout and click “In Common With” to eliminate all my maternal matches—and believe me, there are hundreds of them. Poof! Gone with one keystroke.

When it comes to my husband’s DNA test results, I have no such handy device. While I have confirmed two matches on his maternal side, each of those matches is too far removed from him to whisk away all maternal connections. I need something more all-encompassing before I can achieve anything as sweeping as that. Either I’ll need to talk a very close relative on one side of the family into testing—not, obviously, anyone at the level of sister, though—or at least confirm several matches specific to his paternal side to be able to isolate certain lines within the DNA results.

Granted, there will surely come a time when Family Tree DNA offers another helpful sale on their tests, and I’ll want to snag that opportunity to talk family members into testing. But it would also be handy to find someone who has already tested and is a close enough relationship to help with comparisons.

It does seem tedious, though, to go through these hundreds of matches, shopping for that perfect specimen. The great preponderance of matches we’ve seen already seems to be at the fourth cousin level or beyond—not very helpful in locating the candidate I’m seeking.

All I want—and maybe, in time for Father’s Day, if FTDNA follows suit on its traditional sales pattern—is someone in the family with whom my husband’s paternal line shares something in common. And a willingness to volunteer as participant in this genetic genealogy pursuit.  


  1. I hope you get someone else to take the test:)

    1. I hope so, too, Far Side--but it's got to be the right volunteer. That takes some strategizing, as well as willingness of a (possibly) total stranger.


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