Sunday, August 2, 2015

The DNA That Taunts Me

Sometimes—usually just after I've returned from a genealogy conference—the pursuit of family secrets encoded in DNA seems a likely course of action for family history research.

Then there are other times when I'm not so sure. The repetition of trawling through stacks of data, trying to make surname listings support centiMorgan readouts, can be wearying. Truth be told, on my dark and dismal side, I sometimes feel that outrage of wondering whether it is all some great hoax perpetuated on the gullible paying public.

The last two weeks have been sweet enough to turn me from my sour grapes attitude about lack of DNA-matching progress. Although the two family trees involved in the weeks' serendipity both fall on my husband's side of the family, the result has been a super-charging of research progress.

On our Flowers tree, one match which appeared in June has been confirmed to be related to my husband in no less that three different ways. Remember, that Flowers family tree comes from Perry County, Ohio—where everyone is related to everyone else, at least once—so it wasn't much of a surprise.

Confirming that relationship—the closest of the three ways put the match at the level of third cousin—also led to another confirmation. With this confirmed match on Family Tree DNA, I used the "In Common With" button to see who else among my husband's matches also connected with this Flowers line relative. One other person did—thus instigating another volley of emails with that matching person, leading to a confirmed relationship at the level of fourth cousin.

Comparing notes with these two new acquaintances prompted me to push the lines out further on the Snider branch of this Flowers tree, where these two most recent matches occurred. This Snider—originally Schneider—line came, predictably, from Germany and settled in Perry County by 1820.

Of course, having one's genealogical research isolated to one small geographic area can help speed progress. In the last two weeks, I added ninety entries to the Flowers tree, bringing the total number of people in that tree to 1,355. Most all of the recent additions were prompted by notes exchanged with these two new DNA matches, but confirming those notes with documents going back into the 1820s reminds me of yet another project I had set aside when I first had to stop work on that Jackson and Ijams D.A.R. project: my intent to pursue designation as First Families of Ohio.

Oh, well, another project to add to my To-Do Wish List.

DNA led me to another boost in research numbers. This time, it was on our Stevens line, where the tree now stands at a count of 882 people. While that is only a modest increase of five entries since the last time, I actually have an entire branch of the family constructed and waiting in the wings to add to the database. But I'm not yet ready to actually add those names.

Why the hesitation? Because out of the 501 DNA matches in my husband's account, I now have two more at the second to fourth cousin level whom I've contacted. They turn out to be on the Kelly side—possibly related to a sister of my husband's second great grandmother, Catherine Kelly of Lafayette, Indiana—but I can't locate any documentation to prove the connection. Two half-brothers—thus sharing their paternal link to a Kelly line reaching back to Lafayette—have the right Kelly in their family tree, but we can't locate any documentation confirming that their person is indeed our person. After all, her name was Ann Kelly—a name likely claimed by many others besides our common ancestor. So, until I can locate some form of documentation to confirm that this is the right Ann Kelly, all those potential relatives will have to be kept waiting in the wings.

Another item I'm waiting on, for DNA testing on my husband's side of the record, is the return of a distant Tully cousin's results. I'm hoping that, within the next two weeks, we'll have confirmation of connection to an older brother in the Tully family which traveled together from County Tipperary in Ireland to the small town of Paris in Ontario, back at the beginning of the Irish famine. Though everything from circumstantial evidence to hearsay from relatives points to a connection, it will be nice to see the relationship confirmed through DNA testing. Then, too, it will help isolate other matches connected to that Tully line—if there are any others in our current lineup of DNA matches—and speed the process in determining just how we are connected.

While my side of the family hasn't stumbled upon any exciting DNA match possibilities lately, I'm still running on the energy of a hoped-for discovery of the nexus shared with my two mystery cousins. The Davis tree has jumped an extra 334 names, to arrive at a total count of 4,843. While I'm still stalled at those burned courthouses in post-Civil War Kentucky and Missouri, with nine more DNA matches added to total 894 matches for this tree, I have a vested interest in constructing the descending lines for my many colonial ancestors.


  1. You are making progress! It may be slow but you are still moving in a forward direction! :)

    1. Well, I have to admit: it's been a fascinating detour.

  2. My parents have a landscaper that tends their trees and gardens. His name is Flowers - oddly enough.

    Maybe he is a cousin too?

    1. If he is from Perry County, make that a definitive yes!


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