Sunday, June 4, 2017

Progress Where Progress
Wasn't Expected

Every two weeks, I check my progress on the four main family trees I've been working on over the past several years. Basically, for each of our daughter's grandparents, I've created a separate tree. (It made sense to use that approach when I began, back before genealogy fell in love with the Internet.) And every two weeks, like a litany, I report the progress on my mother's line and my mother-in-law's line...and leave out the painful fact that I hadn't made any headway for either of the two fathers' lines.

Somehow, in the last sequence, I thought I'd poke around and see if anyone in those fathers' trees needed some spring cleaning. You know, brushing up on some details in the hopes of hints popping up or new documentation finally having been digitized. That's a treasure hunt I don't indulge in often, but for some reason, in the past two weeks, I was hoping it was high time for a break-through.

As it turned out, it was—at least on my father-in-law's line. The outcome was that I added seventy people to that tree—mostly of relatives in auxiliary lines, but I'm a firm believer in the "every little bit helps" maxim. Our Stevens tree now totals 1,187 individuals. Not to mention, in the process, I was able to add additional verification to names I've already entered.

Those digital collections that places like Ancestry and FamilySearch keep adding every week? I'm the one who benefits from those additions—as long as I keep checking in to see whether anything new applies to my ancestors. If you don't look, you won't find.

Next task, of course, will be to head back to my own father's line and see if, just like the Chicago Irish in my father-in-law's line, the Polish in New York will become the recipients of additional verification. That tree has stalled at four hundred three persons since the end of April. It's time to refresh some of those entries and seek some additional ones.

As for the two mothers' lines, progress has been made, as usual. My mother-in-law's pioneer Catholic line in Ohio has spread descendants in every direction, and it wasn't hard to harvest an additional 246 entries in the past two weeks, resulting in a total in her tree of 11,472. On my mother's line, I've been working on the descendants of the couple who can claim Mayflower ancestry, and have upped the count there by 166 to total 10,201.

Not that that progress has insured I'd be able to figure out those myriad DNA matches my husband and I have. I'm still stumped on the vast majority of those matches, despite searching for potential cousin connections. At Family Tree DNA, my husband's matches jumped thirty nine to total 1,374; mine advanced forty five to close out at 2,093. Still, even though there's a Flowers match on my husband's side (his mother's line), I can't figure out the nexus, no matter how many more Flowers descendants I've added to that tree.

Hopefully, the uptick in number of matches this time over last heralds the beginning of the surge of results following the last DNA sales—at least for our kits at Family Tree DNA. For the Ancestry kits and those at 23andMe, there hasn't been much of an increase in results. In fact, our results at 23andMe have continued their steady decline as customers opt out of the genealogical side of the business equation there. Perhaps 23andMe customers are still fixated on solely learning their ancestral heritage—and, for those with the spare bucks, their health reports—for my matches have shrinked by fifteen in the past two weeks, and my husband's matches there have been reduced by twenty seven.

While whispers in the online genealogical world may soon hint at possible DNA sales for Father's Day—or at least sales at the various state and national genealogical conferences—I'll be keeping at the slow and steady process of verifying current members in our four family trees. Oh, and checking for some newly digitized documents to help me add a few family names to each of those four trees—particularly the two fathers' lines which have been so sadly neglected.

An appropriate goal to match up with the hope for some Father's Day DNA sales in the upcoming weeks.

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