Sunday, March 17, 2019
Off the Track
Almost all serious genealogical researchers can agree it is a good thing to select and focus on a research goal. If nothing else, such a tactic keeps people like myself from heading astray down the proverbial rabbit trail.
But only sometimes.
Because it had been a long time since I last checked my DNA matches, in a quiet moment earlier this weekend, I took a peek to see if anything new had surfaced. You know the routine: log in, click on results, watch the numbers ratchet upwards, and then stare at the unfamiliar names of well over three thousand matches. Who are all these people, anyhow?
This time, on Ancestry, I spotted someone who, for me, was a closer match than the usual fourth cousin and beyond. This one claimed to be in the range of third to fourth cousin, but AncestryDNA had temptingly tucked the entry under the heading for third cousin. And then added this emphasis for further bait: "Confidence: extremely high."
With Ancestry's newly-rearranged readout of matches, I could see right away that this match shared at least 138 centiMorgans with me—a considerable number for someone who has typically been left hoping for measurements anything above ten. I took a closer look. Though the match, a woman, had listed herself under enigmatic initials rather than a name, at least her tree didn't include that annoying lock icon. I could look at her tree for myself.
While the tree wasn't particularly robust, it had more than a nuclear family included—over three hundred people, which just might be enough to find a most recent common ancestor in the range of second great grandparent (what we'd need to make any conclusions about a third cousin connection).
As I scanned her tree, I began to get that familiar sinking feeling as I didn't spot any possible surnames to work with—until I realized that, getting fairly liberal with spelling, we might have a connection we could work with.
The connection would be on my dad's side—that mystery side from Poland which has been so hard for me to research. I had, for my paternal grandmother's line, the surname Laskowski; my new DNA match had a surname which read Laskoski. I think we can work with that.
A little quick communication with the match who owns the tree in question, I discovered she doesn't know much more about that surname than I do. But at least she seems open to working on the project together. And a team approach is always encouraging, because not only does it grant a sense of working on a challenge together, but it's fun to bounce ideas and hypotheses off each other. Besides, it's a great way to get to know a new cousin.
Granted, this is not on the beaten path of my laser-focus on the McClellan line and the old South. But maybe just for a tiny bit on the weekends, I can take the detour of working on something for my dad's tree. His is the most neglected of all of the trees I'm constructing, and I know it would pique the interest of several of my other cousins and relatives if they knew there was another lead in the mystery of this particular family line.
Or is this just another case of stumbling off the beaten path and wandering down that research rabbit trail?