Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Difference One Email Can Make

Sometimes, interruptions to the daily routine can be welcome.

Twice each month, I try to keep tabs on my research progress by counting such items as total number of individuals added to each family treea tree each for my paternal and maternal side, as well as the same for my husband's family. I also track how many autosomal matches are currently in each of our accounts at both Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA. And, in that ever-hopeful anticipation that it will someday occur, I also keep a column to list those matches which have actually been confirmed by a documented paper trail (a sorry number, incidentally, as I've only been able to confirm five apiece, of which two people were already known relatives solicited by me to take the test).

The past two weeks, however, have been taken up with the joyful possibility that I might just be able to confirm at least one more distant cousin, if not two.

After sending out introductory email after emailmany disappearing into the ether, never to be seen againI actually got an encouraging response from one match on my husband's side. The beauty of this connection was twofold. First, this respondent was just as keen as I am to figure out the connection. Second, checking the "in common with" function at FTDNA, this particular match also brings up the New Zealand connection I mentioned earlier this month.

I sometimes hesitate to suggest working as a group on these DNA projects, else someone may think I'm spammingyes, believe it or not, there have been such innuendoesbut I gave it a try and was delighted to see that the other two parties were game to work on this together.

This isn't an easy project, incidentally. Apparently, this newer match doesn't clearly have any surnames which fit my husband's profile, as far as his ancestors from County Kerry go. But there is that unusual match with the other Kelly family I've been talking about lately. The reason I'm pursuing that connection is because of this work, behind the scenes, comparing genealogical notes with this new DNA match.

The fallout from this development is that I've had some promising progress on some lines, but not so much on the others. There is, after all, only so many research hours in any given week.

So let's look at the numbers, and see where progress has been made, so far in this second half of September.

For my husband's paternal treethe one with the potential Kelly and Falvey family DNA connectionsI managed to add only eleven new names to the tree, giving a current total of 1,062. However, that is a misleading report. Because I wasn't entirely sure that the other Kelly family I'm researching would actually turn out to be relatives of our John and Johanna Falvey Kelly, I actually constructed a separate tree for them. So, if you add the total number in that new tree to my father in law's tree, you'd have an additional thirty three peopleforty four in total added in the last two weeks, resulting in 1,095 on his paternal side.

There. That sounds better.

That wasn't all, though. I do try to keep up on research on all sides of our families, so I added 83 more names to my mother in law's tree, to reach a total there of 8,557. On my own trees, I added 115 to my maternal side, to total 8,723. Now that I've switched from working on my paternal Polish roots, however, there was zero progress on that tree, which still stands at 345.

Meanwhile, those DNA matches keep rolling in. My husband is up to 861 matches at FTDNA and 159 at Ancestry. Guess that sale at FTDNA is working, because it means an additional twenty five matches to work on there since I checked two weeks ago.

On my own side, I now have 1,362 matches at FTDNA, up 29 from the last check, and 372 at Ancestry. I limit my correspondence with new matches to those at the range of second to fourth cousins or closer, so I only contacted two additional people in this last sequence, same as I did for my husband's results.

Still, just that one respondent has kept me busy with reviewing family trees and various theoretical scenarios proposed in our correspondence. I'm having a grand time considering the possibilities. Of course, the bottom line is that we all hope we can figure out the connectiondoing so will likely shine a light on a branch of the family tree we hadn't known about before. But even if it comes to naught, I'm certainly enjoying myself having such an invigorating discussion about a pursuit over which we all seem to be equally passionate.  


  1. Jacqui, I agree that it's important to limit correspondence to matches who are 4th cousins or closer. My husband has 4 Mayflower ancestors so he has a LOT of distant matches, 6th cousins or even more distant! If only everyone posted a family tree, we could winnow down the possibilities so quickly. Good luck with your DNA matches.

    1. Marian, what an impressive array of connections to the Mayflower for your husband! While I only descend from one line (that I know of, so far), I can relate to all those multiple matches with distant cousins. It simply isn't workable to pursue the more distant relatives...but unfortunately, I don't have any matches closer than that 2nd to 4th cousin range, so that is my only playground for now.

      And yes...if only...

  2. A team effort!! Good for you!
    I am almost caught up with you again...reading about your quest! I always enjoy your journey:)

    1. Thanks, Far Side! It's always encouraging to see your comments!

      Actually, it looks like my online journey may soon be augmented with a real journey, so I'm working doubly hard to check all the documentation, so I can pick up what is needed when I arrive in these Indiana locations.


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