Sunday, October 6, 2019

Adding New Leaves to an Old Branch

I've built plenty of family trees before, but not one quite like this. My new project is to build a tree of a family I've never met, but who, strangely, all are related to me. I started out with a handful of DNA matches whose trees all contained one surname in common: Michalski. Only problem: I don't have Michalski in my family tree.

Somewhere out in the ether of several generations removed, that branch's Michalski ancestor must have collided with an as-yet unnamed ancestor on my paternal grandfather's murky side of the family. What does one do in a genealogical scenario such as that? Simple: sketch out a family tree. And that is what I did—albeit secretly and hidden in a dark corner of Ancestry, under guise of private and unsearchable trees.

My tree, so far, has 106 individuals listed in it. One of those "quick and dirty" trees for use in cases such as this, unlike my regular work, it does not include many documents or other forms of verification (although I just can't help myself and sometimes do add a few records to each profile page). Just for the moment—and since this is my day to tabulate my biweekly research progress—I'll add that to my count, though it may not be an ongoing project, once I conclude just where to plug that as-yet unknown ancestor into my father's own tree. Then, I'll gratefully add the entire content of this Mystery Michalski tree into my dad's lineup.

As for the rest of my dad's tree—the part I already know about—I haven't really made much progress. I have been stuck at 620 names in that tree since the beginning of last month. Obviously, my energies have been diverted to this new project of a branch without a tree.

But the other family trees I've been working on haven't fared too well in the past two weeks, either. My father-in-law's tree is likewise frozen in position, with 1,551 since nearly two months ago, when I spotted an obituary for a distant cousin.

My mother-in-law's tree also received a research boost from the discovery of a distant cousin's social media message last month. Only, in her case, having added the names of the large family connected to that match, the resulting additions led me to realize it has been a long time since I last wandered down that branch of her tree. There's a lot of clean-up chores still to be done, so I've added 152 more names to her tree in the past two weeks. My mother-in-law's tree now totals 17,131.

And my own mother's tree—the one I'm supposed to be focusing on, in preparation for that SLIG class next January on research in Virginia—has made only modest progress lately. Like, only forty three new names added. Despite realizing her tree now holds information on 19,166 profiles, I can see I will not be prepared the way I'd like to be, come time for that Virginia class, if I don't zero in on the one specific branch of her tree that leads back to Virginia. Time to double down before the holidays create research havoc.

All that said, my immediate task for this month is to juggle all those names from the DNA matches which point to my paternal grandfather's roots, and use them to guide me to some record sets in a tiny village in Poland where his family originated. To be able to add some solid information to what has, essentially, been a branch stripped bare of all greenery, will be an unspeakable thrill. I'm ready to get some new leaves pinned to that branch soon!


  1. I am in awe of all your research.

    1. Thank you, Miss Merry, but it really is simply a case of "here a little, there a little." Over time, it all adds up.


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