Sunday, December 17, 2017

Counting the Days as Well as the Data

It's time for my bi-weekly tally of genealogical research progress, but it's also nearly the end of the year. It will be interesting to aggregate all these tallies and get the bigger picture, not of just biweekly progress, but to see how far I've come in the past year's work. We'll see what the count next time will show—and the conclusion of the matter, since it will be the last day of both the year and the fortnight.

Once again, my mother-in-law's tree got the most attention. It's fascinating to see how easy it is to make progress on certain family line. Everything seems straightforward in following the generations for these large, Catholic families in her line—not convoluted, mysterious family histories like my own father's heritage, or the smaller, twisting lines of my mother's tree.

Today, my mother-in-law's tree contains 13,772 individuals, each of which has as much documentation as I can find, whether census reports for each decade of their life, or vital records, or newspaper and obituary reports providing additional information on their family. These people may have had a sixth sense about how to keep themselves find-able. In just these past two weeks, I was able to add 186 additional people to this tree, and it really was no effort at all.

My own mother's tree would be the next easiest, out of all the lines I'm researching. Some of the relations sharing mutual colonial ancestors with my mother may have harbored a deep need to become invisible, and I find myself struggling to pinpoint whatever became of some family members, but I otherwise have been able to duly document most of the members of the typically smaller families in her lines. This past two weeks, I was able to add 71 individuals to her tree, which now stands at a total of 11,891 people.

Sadly, for my father-in-law's family (which I'd rate as my third most challenging tree to work on), I made absolutely no progress in the past two weeks. Nor was I able to add anything to my own father's tree, though that is not surprising, considering the frustrating brick wall I've encountered, just two generations back. These clearly need to receive a high priority rank on my New Year's resolutions list.

As for progress with our DNA tests, the counts keep going up (well, all except for one company's results), and that's even before the holiday sales rush hits. For instance, my husband's matches over the last two weeks leapt up by twenty eight at Family Tree DNA (totalling 1,653) and ten at AncestryDNA (totalling 398 first through fourth cousins). On the flip side, he lost fifteen matches at 23andMe, so now he only has 1,166 there.

On my side of the equation, FTDNA increased by twenty eight—coincidentally the same as my husband's count there, though I top him with a total of 2,590. At AncestryDNA, I have 776 matches at the level of fourth cousin or closer, with a mere five new ones added in the past two weeks—hurry up, holiday sales! And, well, I lost five at 23andMe, so now the match count there is down to 1,129.

Not that we're greedy for more matches or anything, but I did happen to notice, a few weeks ago, that MyHeritage had an enticing sale. It just so happens that my husband has a niece who chose to test there, so I thought it would be interesting to go through the process with that company, as well. So, for next year, we'll add yet another company to the tally. With MyHeritage's smaller database, it will be interesting to see what we will find with this new addition, but as many people have noted, you never know where the significant relative may test—and I definitely would love to connect with some mystery relatives via DNA test results.

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