Sunday, February 14, 2016
The Emerging Bright Line of Relationship
DNA testing for genealogical purposes may seem new, but it is not satisfied to rest on its still-short-lived status quo laurels. Now that I've been exploring the options at both Family Tree DNA and Ancestry DNA, I'm realizing how much the latter company is equipped to facilitate reaching the bottom line for family history buffs. With their built-in family tree building program already well in place, adding the DNA testing results becomes a marriage made in heaven.
Not to say that there's no work left to be done after the DNA test is submitted. This is still far from a point and shoot operation. There are contacts to be made, documentation to be compared, possible adjustments to be made in some lines, as well. But when Ancestry basically gives you not only the names of matches and estimated level of relationship, but outlines each party's respective lines of descent, it leaves customers with the feeling that it's all over but the shouting. What's to say in that introductory letter but, "Hi, I guess we're cousins."
And so, now that I have results in for DNA tests at Ancestry for both myself and my husband, I end up looking over these readouts—and the follow-up DNA Circles and "New Ancestor Discoveries"—and find myself nodding my head while softly murmuring, "Yep...yep." It's almost as if there's nothing more to be done.
Yet you know there is. So I add another layer of number-tracking to my twice-monthly statistical report. And feel as if the paper chase has been somehow supercharged.
Take my husband's maternal tree, for instance. With my current goal of documenting the connection with two more D.A.R. Patriots for a supplemental application for my daughter plus paving the way for both my sisters-in-law to apply for their own membership, I've been focusing my efforts on that tree. It turns out I've kept up the same pace as in the last two weeks, when I added 190 names to that tree; this time, I've added another 189. That tree now has 3,049 individuals listed, including the Jackson and Ijams lines leading back to those D.A.R. Patriots.
Add to that the 17 matches received at Family Tree DNA—bringing the overall matches for my husband there to 608, a number representing lines from all sides of his family, but who knows which matches belong to which lines—and a much more modest 87 at Ancestry DNA, a mere increase of one match from last time. Still, that measly 87 at Ancestry represents several who emerged as part of a DNA Circle devoted to Nancy Ann Jackson, daughter of John Jay Jackson and Sarah Ijams, the very people whose lines lead to those D.A.R. Patriots. As messy as that family unit has been for my research, with Sarah dying young at a time when documentation wasn't as easily available, that is a reassuring indicator.
On my side of the equation, despite the impetus of wanting to find the connection to my mystery cousin still as strong as it was when we first made the discovery of our mtDNA connection over a year ago, progress has certainly slowed. Still, I added 53 names to my maternal family tree, pumping the overall count to 7,224 documented individuals, and saw 19 additional matches received at my Family Tree DNA account. The fact that I have 1,027 DNA matches there just blows me away—but I still can't seem to find many which will collaborate with me over our paper trails to confirm exactly how those matches line up.
Admittedly, just as I saw for my husband's results at Ancestry DNA, the numbers are much lower, but now stand at 232 matches, up nine from last time. I've reached out to three of those matches and they seem a firm connection. Seeing some of them so neatly lined out by Ancestry reminds me I have lines of descent on collateral connections which need additional work—but once I attend to that task, the documentation bears up the relationships, which is refreshing. Somehow, this DNA testing doesn't seem quite so exhausting, anymore. Of course, when Ancestry shines the bright light on those DNA Circle and relationship chart analyses, the work is practically done for us. All that's left is for us to double check those lines and confirm. Easy peasy.
Although on my side, the "New Ancestor Discoveries" Beta has got me stumped with its suggestion that I have DNA connections with the lines of Meschach Johnson (who?) and Thomas Edmund Dukes, I have much to cheer about when it comes to the DNA Circles for my maternal line.
Especially heartening are the circles for Thomas Firth Rainey and Mary Elizabeth Taliaferro. You may not think those names ring a bell, but for me, that's music to my ears, for they are the couple who were parents of the orphan child who became wife of Thomas Taliaferro Broyles—the woman whose early death between census records left me little with which to trace her heritage, but whom I need to follow because she becomes the missing link in my matrilineal line. I believe these DNA Circle indicators show me I'm on the right track there.
Of course, all that progress on the two maternal lines—mine, and my husband's—contrasts starkly with the lack of progress on either of our paternal lines. I guess that's the way it's going to be for a while. It seems so much easier to go with the flow when discoveries are easily being made on the other two lines. There will be a time to revisit those lines, but with all that's popping up on the DNA trail right now for both maternal lines, that time for the dads will have to wait for another day.
Above: "Kosovo Peonies," 1913 painting by Serbian impressionist Nadežda Petrović; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.