Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Whole New Tree

I confess: I got carried away. There were so many Kellys and Denehys swirling around in my mind, I had to get them all on paper. So I started building a new tree. In no time at all, that family tree has grown to hold entries for 241 people.

Meanwhile, work has slowed to a standstill on all my other trees. No surprise there. But I still need to check on progress. Since it's time for my bi-monthly report, let's take a look at how those other trees fared during that breathless chase after those Irish immigrant, possibly-shirt-tail relatives.

Clue #1 that my attention has wandered elsewhere is the goose egg report for both paternal trees. Not one additional find for either my father's tree or my father-in-law's treealthough if it turns out right, those 241 from the other Kelly family could be an instant addition to my father-in-law's tree.

Still, I was able to confirm 202 extra relationships on my mother-in-law's tree, bringing the total there to 8,759. Not bad. Plus, I added another 90 to my own mother's tree, bringing her total to 8,813.

As far as DNA test matches go, my side of the family seemed to garner more of the action. At AncestryDNA, I gained another eleven matches. At Family Tree DNA, I added another thirty eight matches, bringing my total matches to a nice round number: 1,400.

I still can't figure out just how these people matchonly can confirm via paper trail for a half dozen of them, which is pathetic. One interesting detail is that, of those additional thirty eight matches in the past two weeks, four of them are matches on my father's side. Unfortunately, the connections are so distant, they are unlikely to be proven by traditional researchunless I make some sort of fabulous breakthrough on my Prussian brick wall.

For my husband's side of the equation, he gained six new matches at AncestryDNA and eighteen at Family Tree DNA. That brings his total matches at each company, respectively, to 165 and 879. And yet, just as I've found for my own matches, it has been near impossible to prove any of those matches via traditional research, despite his mother's longstanding roots in this country and the number of researchers who have tackled these strands with a fine toothed comb.

Determining matches as "close" as fourth cousin does depend on a number of variables. First, of course, is that everyone keep a pristine record of their line of descentand one glance at the trees of most matches (if they are offered at all) provides a clue that this may not be the working arrangement we're dealing with.

Second, of course, is that those carefully kept records represent the actual parentage for each generation in the line of descent. There is always that risk of surprises.

But most important is the fact that, if your distant relatives don't test, you won't match their results. Simple as that. While a two and a half million-plus track record for numbers tested may be impressive at AncestryDNAand throw in the extras at FTDNA for good measurechances are that there aren't as many close relatives in the pool as one researcher might hope. Just considering a nation the size of the United States, that 2.5 million doesn't even represent one percent of the population. No wonder our chances of finding a DNA match are so slim.

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