Sunday, August 27, 2017

Missing Some Cousins

It's time to attend to some neglected branches of the family tree. I made up my mind yesterday that our family's two paternal lines needed some attention, but it wasn't until I actually started sizing up the work that I realized something important. I hadn't even added some of our own cousins to our trees.

If my next project is to work on my paternal line and that of my husband, clearly the first step needs to be insuring that all our own cousins—and their children (and, in some cases, their grandchildren)—are included in the trees.

I've already started doing that, and the flatlined numbers I've experienced for the past several weeks on those two paternal trees certainly show the jump. My father's tree had been languishing at a mere 422 for weeks, until I added five names in the last biweekly cycle. Yesterday, I added another ten entries, so now that tiny tree is up to 437 names.

That's a start. Remember, that tree is the one giving me the most grief. But my phone call to one cousin last week—part of this particular tree, incidentally—was encouraging because it allowed us to compare notes on family recollections. This is essential, since no one from the previous generation is still here to help us muddle our way through some immovable brick walls. And I'm realizing I can glean some family information for the current generation, right from all of our Facebook posts. This stuff needs to be added to the tree, providing one set place where all the dates and details can be found in one place. Trees are for the living as well as for our long-gone ancestors.

As for my husband's paternal tree, the fact that I left out cousins smacked me in the face yesterday. I know I have a lot of the data for the current generation tucked in an old Family Tree Maker database, but I guess the living folks' roots grounded in that database never made the transition to my tree-in-the-Cloud. So I added forty six names to bring my total to 1,308 on my father-in-law's tree, just from the current generation's additions of cousins' spouses and children.

In the last two weeks, since I've been researching that connection to my Mayflower ancestors, it makes sense that that is where all my work was focused. I added 103 names to total 11,179 people in my maternal tree. On the flip side, absolutely nothing happened on my mother-in-law's line, where I'm still sitting at 12,557 in her tree. But that is fine; I need to zero in on specific research goals if I want to make progress in my research.

On the DNA testing side, I'm hoping the current sale at one company—Family Tree DNA's sale which ends at the close of the month—will once again boost my match numbers. (Not to mention, it will hopefully convince some cousins to spring for a test of their own.)

Since all the Father's Day sales have run their course through their company's respective systems by now, my match numbers aren't surging anymore. I'm up to 2,340 matches at FTDNA (up 34), at 696 for AncestryDNA (up 11), and down six to 1,171 at The Magic Disappearing DNA Match Company, 23andMe.

The same patterns seem to replicate themselves for my husband's DNA matches. He's at 1,517 (up 19) at FTDNA, 333 at AncestryDNA (up eight), and down ten for a total of 1,216 at you-know-where. In other words, the matches are still coming in (well, for two out of three companies), but not with as much vigor as they had been, roughly six weeks after the last sale.

On the plus side, wherever I go, speaking about family history and the classes I teach, I invariably meet someone who has questions to ask me—not about genealogy per se, but about DNA testing. Usually, it's along the lines of, "Hey, does that DNA test stuff really work?" but at least that's a barometer of the public's awareness and interest in that one lone aspect of genealogy. That awareness is seemingly now widespread—and growing.

For the next two weeks, my marching orders will be to devise ways to augment my lackluster research progress on my two paternal lines. With serious application of the FAN Club or other techniques, hopefully the numbers on the other side of this biweekly report will prove I've done some homework in the interim.


  1. Hi Jacqi, The big DNA sales have encouraged lots of folks to get tested, including my cousins and hubby's cousins. Next I'm asking them to download their DNA results and upload to where we can do further analysis to identify previously unknown cousins. Wishing you luck on filling in your trees!

  2. There are always more cousins to add. Have fun filling in those empty branches.


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