Saturday, April 20, 2019

A DNA Detour

It's almost April 25. Have you checked out your latest National DNA Day sales offers?

Lately, in that ever-present chase to find more cousins, I've been adding names—and their respective supporting documents—to the four main family trees I've been tracking. Of course, I always hope a spurt in DNA kit sales will bring that elusive answer to some of my family's brick wall ancestors, so I've taken to keeping a biweekly tab on progress. However, since this Sunday is a holiday—at least for this genea-blogger—I'm posting my count here today.

That detour from researching my McClellan ancestors in Florida to pursuing my Broyles ancestors in South Carolina and Tennessee has led me to some branches of this line that I hadn't yet included in my tree. No surprise, then, to see my mother's tree jump 173 people in the last two weeks to total 17,729 names. Almost all those came from reviewing the lines descending from Ozey R. Broyles' father and mother—a story we'll revisit on Monday.

To top that off, a simple discovery of an obituary of a distant cousin of my mother-in-law led me to add 120 names to her tree, so now it has grown to 16,116 individuals. One name leads to another, which precipitates those shaky-leaf Ancestry hints, and before you know it, that's a huge branch reaching back generations that I hadn't even realized was missing.

And on my dad's tree, that wonderful DNA discovery from almost six weeks ago is still generating a continuing trickle of hints, allowing me to add another four names to his tree. It's now a modest 534 individuals in total, but I've already spotted some additional possibilities after using MyHeritage's AutoClusters program which may lead me to finally discover my paternal grandfather's origin—and maybe even some cousins from that mystery line.

Progress on growing those trees sometimes comes slowly—as in my father's tree—but the key really has been to keep up a steady effort. Sometimes, working on one line can move rather quickly—witness my attempt to glean all the information I could from a few simple obituaries in my mother-in-law's line—but it can also move discouragingly slowly.

I often have to remind myself that DNA matches are just that: matches. And it takes at least two people to make a match. Yes, I've already tested, but what I need to remember is to wait for that mystery person to show up and enter the arena. While that wished-for match may not have materialized—yet—he or she may eventually show up. And when that happens, hopefully we can collaborate to find answers about our mutual family history.

In the meantime, I'm still keeping busy adding to my trees all the descendants of my thirty-two third great-grandparents. After all, that's the slot in the family tree where all those elusive fourth cousin matches fit into the bigger picture. Before they show up at my digital door, I may as well put out the DNA welcome mat for them. 


  1. Great post. And wonderful line you wrote: "shaky-leaf Ancestry hints." They do shake. And they are of shaky usefulness; but I look at them anyway :-)

    1. Oh, absolutely, Lisa! For some reason, I can't resist looking, even though I've had some of those experiences. But I always, always, always look at the document, itself. While it may not be wrong, you never know what additional right information you can discover by inspecting the record for yourself!

  2. I need to order a kit and send it find out where the Greek is:)

    1. Oh, yes, do! And when you solve the mystery, let us know!


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