When the dust settles after a big event, those who assume hosting duties know what comes next: time to clean up. Whether it's a big Thanksgiving dinner at home or a big meeting at work, no matter how exciting the event, restoring order is essential so we can move on to the next big plan.
With the decision to accept what multiple DNA tests were telling me about my great-grandmother's true identity, I've been in the process of a messy clean-up, myself. Identifying immigrant "Anna Krauss" as Anastasia Zegarska—her name at birth in Poland—was not just a matter of changing her entry in a family tree database. Just like the rest of us, Anastasia came with family attachments. The record of her baptism provided a listing of the names of her parents. With that knowledge came the ability to discover the names of her siblings. And through the prompts of DNA matches, those siblings became identified as founding ancestors for other lines of immigrants to America, as well.
Over eight hundred of them, in fact—and that's just how far I had gotten before I conjured up enough confidence to decide to plug Anastasia Zegarska's family into my own tree.
Now comes the long process of moving all the Zegarski family's many branches over to my own family tree. Yes, step one was to change Anna's name to her name at birth, with appropriate documentation to help piece together that paper trail for anyone else who is questioning the abrupt change. But from that point onward, I couldn't just copy from my private, unsearchable tree with the DNA-linked families. I have a conceptual difficulty with the way that gets represented at Ancestry. I don't want my "footnote column" to merely say, "Ancestry Trees." I want documentation.
And so, I hand enter all that work, once again. Just in time for my bi-weekly count, I'm nearly halfway done. That means my combined tree now has grown another 325 names to total 23,941.
Because I had already created this combined tree—adding what previously had been separate trees for each of my parents—it had experienced such sudden leaps in the past. The main thrust behind the change in the past was to identify DNA matches on one combined tree at Ancestry.com. Now, once again, I'm combining trees—only this time, while it's actually a part of my father's line, it is an entire branch I knew nothing about before receiving those DNA test results.
The next step, once this branch of the tree is laid out in its entirety, will be to link DNA matches to their place in the tree. This, of course, will take time, as I don't just copy the match's own tree, but cross-check it with documentation, all of which gets uploaded to the tree. There will be well over a dozen DNA matches pinned in that manner, and I wouldn't be surprised to see, once that groundwork is laid, that other "mystery" matches suddenly become clearly linked to sections of this new branch of the family.
That said, all my focus is on the integration of this new branch in my now-combined tree (both paternal and maternal in one tree). Meanwhile, absolutely no progress has been gained for my mother-in-law's tree, nor my father-in-law's tree—other than knowing that, come next year, the same process will need to be repeated for them, as I administer DNA tests for three people in my husband's family, as well.
As with any clean-up following a big event, it is work. But when I think back to the events that created this pile of work, the resulting chores are still worth the effort.