Sunday, June 5, 2016
Still on a Tear
Once, in a different life when a school calendar dominated our family's every activity, this month became the start of the freedom that allowed me to dive back into genealogical research. Now, thankfully, June is just another month.
Still, having a specific research goal enables me to double down on the research effort. Though it seems I'm working with so many disconnected puzzle pieces, I know that, within the framework of a goal, the overarching picture of how the family tree fits together will begin to come into clearer focus. Taking a look at the numbers thus becomes quite encouraging.
Even having been away for almost a week, I've managed to crank out enough effort on the two family trees of interest—the matrilineal line in my mother's tree and the Gordon surname in my mother in law's line—to see a big jump in the numbers. That is always gratifying. Almost as gratifying as actually being able to find something of significance in the midst of that search. Alas, still no plum findings to pull out of the mix. But you know I'll keep plugging away at it.
Here's where we are so far, on my mother's side. The tree now boasts 7,901 individuals—an increase of 215 from the last two weeks, all descendants of that Thomas Lewis and Jane Strother line. I still have several more of their children on which to trace descendancy, especially focusing on the matrilineal lines. That should keep me busy for several more weeks this summer.
In addition, although I don't yet see any signs of the promised changes at Family Tree DNA, in the last two weeks, my total number of autosomal DNA matches zoomed upward by sixty to total 1,210. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those matches are at the level of fifth cousin and beyond. Only one matched at the estimated range of third to fifth cousin. Generally, I've found it impractical to attempt figuring out the specifics on such distant matches, so don't follow through on anything farther than the second to fourth cousin range, so those sixty additions add up to a big zero, in terms of contact assignments.
Over at Ancestry DNA, where they have already activated their new algorithms for matching—hey! no more "bad NADs" for me! In fact, no more NADs, at all—my results stand at 298 matches of fourth cousin level or closer. That's a meager increase of eight new matches since last time, including no recognizable connections, except for one Broyles possibility. Since that's the family line which led me to my DAR connection, I'll certainly be following up on that one.
As for my mother in law's lines, my goal to transfer that Gordon research from my old computer file to my Ancestry.com tree has motivated me to add 488 new names to that tree. The total on that tree now stands at 6,279. I'm still in the process of taking those new additions through their paces, adding the wider array of verifications now at our fingertips—as opposed to those which were accessible twenty years ago when my fellow Gordon researcher and I were first working on this project—and connecting those entries with all their descendants now surfacing as I continue through the more recent census records. For the most part, that's the pace I've kept up since the beginning of April, yet I have so many more to add to this new file at Ancestry.
Hopefully, all this new activity will generate a clearer picture over at Ancestry's DNA Circles, where Gordon ancestors figure prominently in the results. There are only three additional matches there, so the total stands at 122, but eventually, a more complete tree on our part may help align matches with the additional information.
Meanwhile, over at Family Tree DNA, my husband's results jumped another forty two to total 749 autosomal matches. Unfortunately, all but two were at the level of fifth cousin or worse—although they included the tantalizing possibilities of a McCabe with roots in both Australia and Ireland (a surname I've been researching recently on his behalf) and a Tully (be still, my heart!) from Ireland. The added bonus was that those two who weren't at that distant, ignorable, level happened to be second cousins from Ireland. Now, that I want to pay attention to!
Granted, in all this flurry of activity, I've yet again neglected any work on our two paternal lines. But that's okay. Working on specific research goals helps prime expectations, which in turn boosts commitment to continue working. Once all the puzzle pieces are in place, a clearer picture will eventually come into focus. And I won't even have to worry about it happening before summer vacation is over.