Sunday, June 2, 2019

Conferences: Providing Inspiration
to "Un-stick" Research

Just as yesterday's presentations at the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree conference seemed perfectly suited to my research goals concerning my mother's southern roots, today promises to help me delve further into a different family history puzzle: the origin of my paternal grandfather. For this challenge, I'm upping my research game by sitting in on sessions by two speakers focused on eastern European research: Linda Serna and Lisa Alzo.

While Linda Serna may not be as nationally-known as some of the other speakers at Jamboree, I have heard her present before. A professional genealogist, Linda has spoken at a seminar hosted by our own local genealogical society, though on a topic she is more readily recognized for: Hispanic research. It was a pleasant surprise to realize she also addresses the challenges of researching Polish ancestry, and that this is the topic she will be presenting at Jamboree today. I am interested in hearing her overview of this topic.

Following Linda's session on Polonia, Lisa Alzo will offer her opinion on the best genealogical resources for researching eastern European roots, both in North America and in the ancestral homeland. While this session will be more broad-based in that it addresses a variety of eastern European nationalities, the goal of this presentation will be to guide participants in honing in on their specific ancestral village.

Both of these sessions remind me I need to get back to researching my paternal line—that line with the mystery grandfather who just "showed up" in New York City with no clear (or at least unsuspicious) alibi of how he got there. While I am still hot on the trail of my other research goal—untangling the relationships between my McClellan and Tison lines and that of King Stockton and his mother Hester—it is time to re-open the pursuit of my paternal grandfather's roots, especially now with not only these promising presentations, but with recent receipt of some tantalizing DNA matches which may provide connections.

Researching my paternal line has all but come to a standstill. The number of individuals listed in my father's family tree has remained at 538 for the past month. Only with new DNA matches has that number budged at all in the past year. It is certainly time to gain some territory on this Polish side of my family story; perhaps the arrival of those DNA matches is providing just the nudge I need.

Meanwhile, even my father-in-law's tree managed to gain five names in the past two weeks, and now stands at 1,523 individuals—though it is time to move on with research in that domain of my family's universe, as well. DNA matches are propelling research on that branch forward, as well.

While I don't have any specific research goal involving my mother-in-law's tree at the moment, the occasional obituary of a distant cousin often adds multiple names to her tree. I find those details, thanks to a subscription through a Rootsweb mailing list which—unlike most of them—is still active. So with her tree, even though there haven't been any new additions for the past month, the count of 16,186 individuals does edge upwards with each change to the extended family.

But my mother's tree, due to the relentless pursuit of connections to those multiple DNA matches, continues to rocket upwards. Even with being out of town at this conference—and thus, lamentably, unable to both sit in classes and do my own genealogical research—I've managed to pull together enough documentation to add 199 relatives to my mother's family tree. Admittedly, that is only a shadow of my usual biweekly increase of two or three hundred names, but hey, I've been busy attending genealogy conferences, okay? Besides, now her tree is up to 18,452 people. Surely that will help me connect the dots on a few more fourth cousin matches on my extensive maternal side.

It's not that I'm simply after numbers; it's the increase that leads to more hooks upon which to hang these genetic genealogy clues I'm hoping for. That all circles back to the reason for these pursuits—the goals keeping me on the straight and narrow research path. Now, though, rather than just devoting myself solely to one research goal, I'm feeling the pull to broaden horizons and include goals in the other family lines as well. I have specific questions just sitting on the research sidelines which deserve the opportunity to be answered—or at least given a decent attempt at examining.

So, here's to finding the answers to my questions about King Stockton and his mother's connection to the Tison plantation—the firstborn of my research goals for this year. But it's time to welcome the twin newborns into the family, the kid siblings of my paternal Polish pursuit and my father-in-law's Irish research. And everyone knows how demanding newborns can be.

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