Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Rechecking Those Missing Branches

It was the frustration of an inscrutable DNA match that pushed me to do it. My DNA results had located a fellow genetic genealogy enthusiast who matched me at that just-close-enough-but-still-far-away level of second to fourth cousin. If it were just one match at that level, I might be tempted to dismiss it and look for more promising results. But I found that, using the "in common with" device at the testing company, over the weeks, more and more DNA matches were lining up with this same match. Whatever branch of my family contained these people's ancestors, it was clearly a branch where I needed to spruce up my records.

Granted, second to fourth cousin isn't exactly a compelling DNA connection. In my case, though, that is the only type of match I seem to garner which is close enough to pursue. After all, even at the outside stretch, it would mean figuring out the most recent common ancestors for a fourth cousin. In other words, all I'd have to locate would be a set of third great grandparents.

For the most part, I can do this. It's those few branches where I haven't been able to paper the trail back that far where I face challenges. Like this one with the match I can't figure out.

That there are a few branches where I haven't really covered enough research territory to clear that hurdle, I admit. For some, I'm already doing penance—like my paternal grandfather's lines, and my husband's paternal history, as well. The slow progress on that grunt work there is reassuring, even if I'm not zooming along on the documented trail. But while I'm chipping away at these lines—and the tedium of the work doesn't make for scintillating posts—there are other tasks to attend to.

I'm discovering there are other lines missing those third greats, as well. I can pat myself on the back in recognition of second greats showing up in my records, but unless I can tease that envelope all the way to third greats, I'll be missing any DNA matches that push the margin to fourth cousin.

I decided to take up the task on one of those lines this week. It's the line, in fact, that led to gaining me admittance in Daughters of the American Revolution: the ancestors of my second great grandfather, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles. I had done work on that Broyles line in the past, of course—but that was on a different computer in a different time period when people posted trees on free resources like When it came time to make the switch to the more sophisticated, for some reason, those records never migrated over during the big switch.

Then, too, this line involved work in which I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of a distant cousin. We compared notes—although in this case, I have to say the other researcher's notes were more advanced than mine at the time—and figured we were something like ninth cousins. He also was kind enough to share with me several resources—in particular, the work of Arthur Leslie Keith, although cautioning me that that edition was rife with errors—as well as his own online tree.

Broyles is one of those surnames—like my other ancestral name, Taliaferro—which is so unusual that it bestows upon me a false confidence that, should I encounter someone with that surname, I could walk right up to that person and assert that we were surely related. Of course, if we actually were related, it would be to the magnitude of a very distant cousin. On the other hand, the line is so well documented back to the 1600s that it wouldn't be difficult to look up the respective family branches and count out the level of relationship.

Remembering all the enjoyable times I had corresponded with this Broyles researcher, I tried locating some of those resources online now. It certainly is time to get back to documenting my Broyles line. If nothing else, I need to confirm that set of third great grandparents. But when I looked for any such records, all I could find online was a transcription of that old Broyles publication by Dr. Keith, with notes (and presumably corrections) by yet another Broyles researcher, John Kenneth Broyles.

As with all the other century-old published genealogies of my family lines, I'd like to take that edition and run its assertions through current websites to see what documentation can be located to verify—or refute—the lineage listed in the book. If what the book says is correct, my family has, in more than one line, settlers in that northeastern tip of Tennessee where my Mayflower-connection Tilsons came to live. Apparently, my Broyles ancestors lived there early enough to qualify me as a descendant of additional First Families of Tennessee settlers.

That, in itself, is incentive enough for me to fill in that one empty branch in my family tree.


  1. First Families of Tennessee, I am impressed! :)

    1. Thank you, Far Side! I'm pretty excited at the thought, myself. Different states have earlier or later dates for their genealogical society's First Families programs, so families who could qualify, date-wise, in one state might not come close in another (assuming they lived there, of course). While my husband's family qualifies for Ohio's program, the date of their arrival in Ohio certainly wouldn't put them in such company in a place like Virginia, for instance.

      Of course, now you know what that means: more paperwork!


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