Sunday, July 19, 2015

Remote? Or Coincidental?

I suppose there is always the chance—no matter how remote—that two genea-bloggers might share the same ancestor. We certainly have equipped ourselves to be able to determine that, should we stumble upon familiar surnames in each other's posts. After all, I've already discovered that my Genealogy Angel and D.A.R. guide, Sheri Fenley, and I are umpteenth cousins, courtesy of that long-standing (and prolific) Taliaferro line.

What are the chances that I'd meet another blogger-turned-relative?

Well, it turns out, while working on this latest goal—documenting my in-laws' connection to a D.A.R. Patriot—I was reminded to check a particular surname in my husband's DNA test results.

The way it happened was this: each time I work my way down through the lines of descent from a sibling of an ancestor, if that sibling was a woman who married, I check to see if the newly-added spouse's surname matches any of the people on our DNA test results. This weekend, I stumbled upon a surname which evidently has more than one intermarriage with my husband's mother's line—but one which I hadn't checked before on his DNA match list.

I headed over to my husband's list of DNA matches to plug in that surname, but while I meant to enter the name in its proper place—"Ancestral Surnames"—I had entered it in the slot used to search for other test participants by their own name.

Five results popped up. One of them included a picture of the participant.

Right away, I recognized the photo. It was for a fellow genea-blogger.

My immediate thought was, "Cool. We match!"

Then, I got to thinking about it. If anyone from my family was going to match this person, it should have been me. I've often read this blogger's posts, amazed at how our ancestors walked the same streets in the same town and surely must have known each other.

I took a look at the blogger's list of ancestral surnames. There even was one that matched a surname that was married into my line. But, wait! This was supposed to be a DNA match to my husband's line. How did that happen?

Of course, the relationship is noted as distant—"5th Cousin to Remote Cousin"—but nonetheless, it was there. In his list of results. Not mine.

I shot off an email right away. If we can't find the nexus for our match—and it's quite likely we won't—at least it's good for a chuckle.

But it also gives pause to consider how significant a percentage of test returns those Identical by State results might be.

Meanwhile, though I'm hot in pursuit of a new genealogical goal, I haven't forgotten about my duty to keep bi-monthly tabs on my progress. Yes, it's that time again. So I'll break in here to check on the count in each tree.

This new goal has certainly energized the work on this particular line. In the past two weeks, I was able to add 159 individuals to my husband's maternal tree, bringing the total number of people there to 1265. And, as I had predicted last time, with the influx of a new batch of DNA tests from conferences and the Global Family Reunion extravaganza, this tree gained seven more DNA matches—albeit all distant ones.

Sadly, in all the enthusiasm over my husband's maternal line, his paternal side suffered from lack of attention. The total count there still stands at 877.

Likewise, in my own trees, the paternal side stood nearly stock still. The only improvement—thanks to that discovery of an old marriage record for Aunt Rose—was the addition of the two names listed in that document. Of course, those names, as we've already seen, led us nowhere. But at least now I have 150 in my paternal tree.

Because my maternal tree enjoyed the boost from my project to find the nexus with my "mystery cousin," the first of only two "exact match" results for my mtDNA test, that meant adding 173 names to my own maternal tree. The count there now stands at 4509. And yet, I'm still no closer to an answer than before. However, I'll let that puzzle percolate in the back of my mind while I attend to this task of finding documentation to connect my husband's family with their own D.A.R. Patriot.

And who knows? Maybe that remote cousin in my husband's DNA matches will turn out to be more than just a coincidence, too.


  1. A fun discovery for sure! I marvel how you can keep things straight since you are working on so many different lines:)

    1. It's getting to the point where I have to write a lot more down! Everything from where I left off in working on each database, to a research journal reminding me where I found certain details.

      And yes, it was such a kick to see that friendly photo in that list of DNA matches!

  2. Other than by numbering people in the family tree (shudders at renumbering them when an insertion comes up - I wouldn't know just how to link research log to research efforts. I'm not too disciplined to add to the woes.

    1. That's one reason I've been such a stalwart of my old computer-based genealogy program: I heavily utilize their "notes" capabilities, including keeping records of all the transcriptions I've made of original documents--just in case I subsequently can't find that blasted file folder!

      Of course, the handy cut-and-paste source references provided by online sites like help me keep track of stuff like that, without having to remember--back to those term-paper years--exactly where to put the commas in the citations.

      Still, you're right, Iggy: the key is developing the practice of plugging those references right into the research. I guess each of us has our preferences on how to handle this. I know I certainly have a long way to go, before I hit upon the perfect solution!


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