Saturday, April 27, 2019

Post-DNA-Day Reflections

DNA Day may have come and gone, but hope blooms perennially that a new match will eventually come my way—you know, that miraculous answer to all my genealogical questions, especially the key to open doors in my brick wall paternal grandfather's enigmatic past. So I always like it when folks like Family Tree DNA decide to extend their sale through the weekend—their "Family Finder" autosomal test is still going for $49. Or when MyHeritage stretches for one more day—yep, today—to keep that sale going. Or when 23andMe decides to be different and style theirs as a pre-Mother's Day sale—but only if you spring for the pricier ancestry plus health component for mom.

Somewhere in all those sales, surely a missing cousin will show up—complete with all the juicy details about the rest of the long-lost family.

Thinking about all this makes me realize I need to re-evaluate my research goals. Lately, I've been focusing on my Broyles ancestors because of a book I found. Before that, it was work on my McClellan line because of a trip and some exciting discoveries there. And I'll still be working on those two projects. Behind the scenes, I'm plugging away at completing each branch of my extended tree—first the McClellan line, then the Broyles line—but that often doesn't make for scintillating blog posts.

In the meantime, all those sales have produced a modest trickle of promising DNA connections, requiring me to work on yet other branches of my tree—on both my maternal side (where I claim those Broyles and McClellan connections) and on my paternal side. It's that paternal side which is suddenly warming up.

I have to say that what seemed to trigger the progress on my dad's genealogical connections was the launch of the AutoClusters tool at MyHeritage. Yes, I realize that same utility was already available at Genetic Affairs, but it never was one I had taken the time to explore. Really, with so many new "toys" coming on the market to further explore our heritage, it's becoming a challenge to triage that limited research time to focus on the most urgent pursuit.

Nevertheless, it is through the computing power of crunching relatively large amounts of data that the most useful clues will surface, and that is what tools like AutoClusters and DNA Painter are doing for me. I can't still research in a vacuum, now that such possibilities are in the air. This calls for forming a strategy for how to sort through those DNA matches and choose the best possibilities for solid discoveries. Can you tell I feel encouraged that I'm close to uncovering some useful leads? Either that, or some astounding rabbit trails...

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