If, in talking about the buildup of water pressure behind a dam, we were to put the situation in euphemistic terms, we could have said we were examining its "growth potential"—but that would only be an accurate assessment if the dam were flexible enough to accommodate the added pressure. Most dams are not.
Genealogy, on the other hand, always seems flexible enough to absorb the added "volume." There is always room for another branch on the family tree, no matter how many names and corresponding dates suddenly appear on account of our newly-discovered relatives.
That, of course, is good news for me, as I am about to add several hundred names to my father's family tree, all at once. I just need to build up the courage to plug this huge new branch into the right spot in the tree.
In the meantime, work on that one project has slowed all my other research tasks to a near standstill. Work on my mother's 23,616 person tree: zero. For my mother-in-law's 19,334 person tree? Zero. Nothing on my father-in-law's puny 1,813 person tree, either. And if it weren't for discovering another DNA match on my father's side of the family, that tree would have been stuck at zero, as well. As it was, that DNA match led me to nine additional family members I hadn't been aware of, so his tree now has 740 people in it...but not for long.
Where all my work focus has gone in the past two weeks was into building a new family tree, a tree connected to the first few of what has now grown into a dozen DNA matches who all have one thing in common: they are related to ancestors who were apparently siblings of my paternal grandfather's mother. As more and more of them appear in my various DNA accounts (I've tested at five different companies), it becomes increasingly clear that that is the connection.
So, in this past two week period, while I did practically nothing to augment my four longstanding family trees, I've been working to get to know this really big family from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which I had absolutely no clue existed before the age of DNA testing. Over the past two weeks, I've managed to assemble a family tree of strangers, large enough to include 732 names (plus supporting documentation), 341 of which I added only this month.
Of course, I'm nowhere near done yet. But is anyone's family tree ever done? The focus of my goal is all those founding Zegarska sisters from Czarnylas, Poland, the backbone of this family tree, so I can trace each one's descendants down to the present day. Included in that task, of course, will be the main point: flagging each DNA match to demonstrate the route connecting that match with my great-grandmother, the woman known to my family only as Anna Krauss.
That is one woman who took a lot of her story with her to her grave. While I'll likely never find the explanation to many of the details I did uncover for that woman, at least these many DNA tests are serving to confirm the answer to one mystery which the paper trail could never provide: Anna's origin and parentage in Poland.