Sunday, December 4, 2016

Heading for the Home Stretch

It's the last month of the year. Anything that's going to happen in 2016 better happen in the next twenty seven days. Well, give or take a few holidays and moments of celebration.

So, it's on to the recap of research progress. It feels good to be back on track here. After so many trips and other plans, progress had slowed more than I like—not to mention, the second count for November completely escaped me.

Remember, it's not just an ancestor checklist I'm trying to gather; I want to fill out the collateral lines in each generation—reaching back, in some cases, to the far side of colonial forebears. Keeping track of progress is one way, in the midst of so many swirling numbers, to have an anchor of hope that someday, that goal will be achieved.

Back up to the usual speed, it felt good to see that I added an additional 228 names—all verified, of course—to my mother's line, putting the total in her tree at 9,153 right now. I didn't quite make as much headway on my mother-in-law's line, where I added 120 for a total of 9,035, but it's still progress.

One thing I've mentioned wanting to remedy for the new year is the lack of progress on my father's line and my father-in-law's line. Right now, I made zero progress on behalf of my father-in-law's family, where the count is frozen at 1,080 on the Stevens line. Incredibly, I did find one additional person to add to my own father's line, so the count there is now at 346. Granted, neither of these are colonial families, and access to reliable records for centuries sure can make a difference in genealogical progress.

It's been interesting watching the progress in the DNA accounts. At AncestryDNA, not much has been added to the count of matches for either of us. Of course, partly that is attributed to the luck of the draw: if no distant family members test, we don't get any matches. But the rest of the glacial pace might pick up with the slight uptick in the brief Black Friday sales push at Ancestry—but not as much as will likely be experienced over at Family Tree DNA, where the sale is still ongoing for all their testing products.

The numbers in our personal experience seem to reflect that tale in a microcosm: at AncestryDNA, I received seven more matches than I had last month, for a total of 410. My husband, originally at 180, received just three more matches in the same time period. On the other hand, our results at FTDNA jumped sixteen to 1,479 and twenty to 949, respectively.

Still, what really counts is being able to determine how two people match. That is precisely where I am stuck: in the analysis. I'm glad to be accepted into the DNA Boot Camp at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in January, and I'm sure I'll learn helpful pointers there. I'm also reading up on the leading blogs by nationally recognized instructors in the field. But until I can figure out just how I connect with any of those many matches, it's almost useless information. Here's to a 2017 with insight on how to change course in that arena.

Unless the conclusion of the holiday season just takes my breath away, I'll be back before the end of the year to check numbers for this progress report one more time. It's been helpful to keep these little measurements as the year rolled on, if only as an antidote to a sense of hopelessness in the face of so much yet to be done.


Above: "Chimney-sweep," 1880 painting by Swedish artist Frans Wilhelm Odelmark; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Replies
    1. It may not feel like it from week to week, but being able to look back on the entire year has been encouraging!


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