Sunday, July 1, 2018
to Old Family Lines
Every now and then, when I realize just how many new record sets have been digitized and added to online collections, I like to take the time to review what needs to be updated in my own family trees. For some of those lines, I haven't been down that way for a long time, and there is a lot of work to do to attach these recent document additions. For others, I find dead ends where I simply couldn't find any documentation at all to bust through those brick walls. Until now...
My latest focus has been on my mother's southern American lines—families living in places like Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, the kind of locales too far away for planning research trips. Now, with so many DNA matches piling up for southern connections I can't yet fathom, it's a good time to work out these snags. That is exactly what I've been doing in the past few weeks, and I suspect it will be a project that takes up a good deal of my time throughout the rest of the summer.
The work, of course, will have repercussions on my biweekly tally, as I see myself shifting from at least the intention of dividing my time equally between my mother's and my mother-in-law's trees. In the past two weeks, I've bumped up the tally on my mom's tree to 13,732, an increase of 97 individuals added on my maternal side. On my mother-in-law's tree, the pace was almost the same, adding 86 names to total 15,527 individuals. However, as I focus more on my southern lines, I expect to see that maternal tree catching up with my mother-in-law's lead count.
Of course, in the midst of all this new focus, the trees for both my father and my father-in-law have suffered. I haven't added one single new name to either of those trees. Unless a breakthrough happens on the paternal lines—unexpectedly—these two trees will be set aside for the remainder of the summer, while I devote most of my energy to my southern roots.
Meanwhile, the DNA matches which are driving me in this focused research direction keep advancing, slowly but steadily. I have 3,166 matches at Family Tree DNA, over one thousand at Ancestry (where they don't provide a count over that number), 994 at 23andMe (which includes an actual increase of ten, an unusual shift from my ever-decreasing match count there), and 4,826 at MyHeritage. For the most part, I have no clue who most of those people are, no matter how diligently I've been working on this issue.
DNA matches for my husband—for whose test I serve as administrator—are not quite as high a count as mine. But they're getting there. He has 2,005 matches at FTDNA. He's catching up at Ancestry with 607 matches which are fourth cousin or closer. At 23andMe, it was he whose count went backwards this time (albeit by only one measly match) to total 965 matches. And at MyHeritage, he has 3,404.
All those matches are enough to keep a full time employee busy for weeks unending. I'm experimenting with various database management programs and techniques, but still at a loss as to how some of these people connect to our family trees. Very few of those matches are close cousins. Most wander out towards those outer circles of relationship in that nebulous second to fourth cousin orbit.
And yet, I can't help but wonder if, having pursued these neglected southern lines in my mother's family, I might suddenly realize how a good number of these mystery people connect. This is just a part of my family I know very little about. It's about time to open the door to the possibility of that discovery.