Sunday, September 6, 2015

At a Dead Stand-Still

Sometimes, when progress grinds to a halt, it makes me wonder whether everyone went on summer vacation together. At least, that's the case with our family's DNA test results.

Tracking our progress on how many DNA matches both my husband and I have has not only kept me diligently working on family history research but has made me aware of the ebb and flow of the work stream at the testing company we use, Family Tree DNA. Since I started keeping track of results for my side of the family, for instance, I've gone from 750 autosomal DNA matches to 904. What's interesting, though, is that in the last few weeks, that galloping rate has slowed to a trickle. In my bi-monthly reporting, for instance, while I gained seven matches for the mid August report, nothing happened in the last two weeks until closing in on this weekend, when my numbers edged up a measly three more matches.

Even more so, on my husband's DNA results, everything came to a grinding halt—a particularly difficult thing to see when still awaiting the verdict on a distant cousin's test results. He hadn't received any new matches since August 7—and then, suddenly, in the last few days, something slipped in.

Even though it seemed like it, perhaps it wasn't really a company-wide mandated summer vacation slowing things down. Who knows? Maybe all our potential cousins took a well-deserved summer break. Maybe no one related to any of our fourth great grandparents included DNA testing in their summer plans.

Besides, even we took a week for a summer break to travel to Florida. Vacations may impact business negatively in some areas, but provide a boost in others. After all, I have to have something to do during all that down time, waiting at airports. So I put in a fair amount of time, adding to our family trees.

The numbers even surprised me, when I took the time to tally up progress. Of the two lines on which I'm now focusing, my husband's maternal tree now has 1,928 individuals—an uptick of 476 names. And my maternal tree saw an increase of 203, to land me at a total of 5,133 relatives now documented. Surely somewhere in all those entries is a surname my DNA matches can find to love.

Another funny thing has happened over the last half of August: I've gotten a few emails from people hoping to find a mutual ancestor in one of our trees. Some are from DNA test results, but others are proof that, hey, maybe this blogging "cousin bait" is working, after all. Or perhaps I have summer vacation to thank for all these new connections, as well.

Above: "Florida River Scene, Early Evening after Sunset," oil on canvas, circa 1887, by Martin Johnson Heade; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. I wonder how many people actually put DNA testing on their list of things to do:)

    1. Considering how pricey a proposition it is, I imagine not many do. On the other hand, I find it even more curious, considering the cost, that people test and then just walk away from the results. That list of "matches" is a tentative list; it still needs to be confirmed by that old fashioned genealogical paper trail.

  2. I am amazed how many of those who have DNA tested and are connected to me seem to have little interest in connecting and no trees.....I guess some are just wanting to learn about their origins.

    Genealogy sure is a different from the way it was when I began so many years ago!

    1. Yes, it is different--everything from our ability to do DNA testing to that ability to find documentation rapidly online. But we still need to remember that those genealogy basics still stand--these tests and resources are simply tools to help us get more research done quickly.

  3. Like in all things... patience.... :)


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