Sunday, June 14, 2020

"Change-O" Isn't Always so Presto

It's been one of those weeks when genealogy research most clearly shines its light on the tedious side of discovery. Not only did I stumble upon a case of mistaken identities—which I still need to clean up—but I spent the majority of my time merging two family trees into one.

Making that kind of change to the records isn't always as simple as it might sound. In other words, don't expect "presto" results. The matter requires step by step inspection of the data already on file in the old tree, then confirmation that the facts made the transition to the target tree unscathed. Thus, while the numbers for my biweekly report look like I revved up the output on my mother-in-law's tree, it's really only the bloat of adding individuals from my father-in-law's tree into his wife's tree.

There is a reason for this duplication of effort: in order to tag my husband's DNA matches on the tree in which he's linked, I had to bring over the rest of the family. Now, I'm still keeping four trees—one for each of my daughter's grandparents—but only two of them will represent the full complement of the family's members.

While we need to remember that those bloated numbers only mean I've done a do-over of sorts in the process—and encountered some messes which need more attention—hidden in the count are also a few notes of progress. That can be seen in the nineteen new individuals I managed to add to my father-in-law's tree, as I combed through the data in the big shift. Little signs of progress deserve celebration, too.

The big leap came on my mother-in-law's tree, which is now the combined tree for my husband's family. To celebrate that, I actually renamed the tree to reflect the inclusion. That mega-tree now contains 18,852 people, a jump of 295 names, though the great majority of those were simple migrations—plus some fact checking—from my father-in-law's tree. Still, in true do-over fashion, a few new names got added to the list.

Though not a single increase made it to my father's tree, I did have a chance to augment my own mother's tree. Right now, her tree has 22,383 people in it, an increase of 167 names in the past two weeks, but remember that I went through the same duplication exercise with her tree in the last biweekly period.

Now that the significant branches of the paternal lines have been combined with their respective maternal sides, the new genealogical landscape is making for smoother sailing, as I work through the DNA matches on both families. I'm finding it quite easy, having laid the groundwork, to plug in those matches, all the way up to fourth cousins—in some cases, even well beyond that point, thanks to the paper trail.

Some tasks seem to take inordinately long to get started, but once the ball is rolling, can move along almost effortlessly. That is turning out to be the case, now that the groundwork has been laid in these two family trees. It's been rather rewarding to see that endless DNA match list of names settle into some semblance of organization, now that the groundwork has been laid. 

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