Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Little Inspiration Can Do Wonders

Sometimes, keeping track of research progress can be enough of a drudgery to dull the mind. At other times, a solitary serendipity can do wonders to boost efforts. With the recent twin felicities of at least a hint to connect the migratory dots on my maternal side and the appearance of a possible closer cousin than the DNA testing norm on my husband's maternal line, I've thankfully received enough of a spark to get back on track, working on my goals.

Thus, it was no surprise to see a lift in the numbers, when I returned to tally up my bi-monthly count on the maternal and paternal lines for both myself and my husband. Not only was the initiating news encouraging, but the resultant count sure perked me up, as well.

Granted, both mine and my husband's paternal lines were left nearly flatlined—with only a slight uptick in autosomal DNA matches on my husband's lines to change the count—but each of our maternal lines held the proof of our progress.

Perhaps it was sheer determination that drove me to up the numbers in my maternal family tree by 370 entries, to a total number of people in that tree of 4,336. Now that I see my way clear to believe that my Georgia ancestors could have had a line migrating through Kentucky to Missouri, it's definitely applied some energy to that research effort. I'll be writing more about my conjectures on that possibility in the coming week. While I don't yet have proof of a nexus, at least historically, the move makes more sense.

Likewise, the joy of receiving a close autosomal DNA match for my husband's maternal line certainly provided some research inspiration. I've been back to that Perry County, Ohio, line to clean up details, add documents from viable "hints" and see if I can push each line forward in time by adding each generation's siblings' descendants as well. The goal is to provide a hook for those people with DNA matches to find a way to connect their tree with ours. If it means I have to reach out more by extending my research, that's fine: the main goal is to connect with these DNA matches, if possible, to align DNA results with our paper trails.

With so many housekeeping tasks to attend to in the Perry County line, it meant slow going. Even so, I managed to add 115 names to that tree, upping the total in my husband's maternal line to 1106. Likewise, though there was only a modest eight additions to his DNA results, at least the most recent one was logged in on July 2. I believe this might be the leading edge of a new batch of tests generated from June genealogical conferences like the Southern California Jamboree I attended, plus the extravaganza back in New York, the Global Family Reunion event. Hopefully, there will be many more DNA results to come from these June efforts.

At this point, we are strategizing to see who else in our families might be willing to participate in DNA testing. While "the more, the merrier" might be an appropriate stance, it's helpful to have specific parts of the family represented. For instance, in order to "triangulate" on test results, it would be helpful to have one cousin from each side of the family participate—in other words, one from the paternal side, one from the maternal side. That way, in evaluating who matches whom among all these other results, the "in common with" device can aid in the analysis. Until we get known cousins like that in the mix, the whole count—and we're talking of upwards of eight hundred in my case—is all in one big, messy pile. Kind of makes it hard to make any progress when everything has to be sorted out from one big jumble.

Another bit of potential inspiration I'm awaiting is the autosomal DNA test result from a new "exact match" I've received on my matrilineal line—my mtDNA test. Just like the other such result I've already received—that of the man I call my mystery cousin—this one belongs to another adoptee. The challenge is amazing, but as I've learned from my first mystery cousin, despite daunting odds, answers can still be found. The question on our minds right now is, how closely are we related? With my first such matrilineal line match, our relationship stretched beyond that of sixth cousin—thus leaving me struggling with a near-impossible quest to find our nexus. Hopefully, the autosomal DNA test will reveal a much closer range of relationship for this second exact match, and we will be able to rely on an already-drawn-up family tree to guide us in determining the point of relationship.

All told, it's these encouraging break-throughs that help get the work back on track. Everybody needs an enegizer like that, from time to time.


  1. Sounds like just the news you needed! :)

    1. It's a start. At least it's got me back on track. I needed a little something to re-invigorate the effort.

  2. Goodness... how many adoptees are in your family?

    I can't recall a single one in mine...

    1. Well, that may be the essence of an least in our age. It's not that the family members would "recall" such an event--it's more likely that they wouldn't even have been aware of the event.

      With closed adoptions in the past century, the process was designed to allow as much anonymity for the birth parent as possible, I think, so those not privy to the details might not even have suspected.

      One of the unintended consequences of this new trend of DNA testing is to discover that some of our relatives may have been parents of infants subsequently put up for adoption. While discovering such a detail might be dismaying news for some, it has certainly been a boon for those adoptees yearning to know more about their own roots.


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