Sunday, November 8, 2020

Not so Quick and Dirty


I've heard "Search Angels" call it a "quick and dirty" tree when they are helping adoptees piece together possible family trees of their closest DNA matches. There is so much information to sift through, so many possibilities to discard, that the process does involve a lot of trial and error. May as well get to the punch line as quickly as possible.

Somehow, though I understand their reasoning, I can't find it in me to do the same: to turn out a quick and dirty tree. Not that I'm an adoptee, of course, but my paternal grandfather has a heritage so hidden as to make him virtually the same. 

Since taking up the challenge of the last couple in my "Twelve Most Wanted" ancestors for 2020, I've been tying up the loose ends on the mystery of Theodor Puchalski—or whatever his name really was—to see if his mother was the one who was sister to the several other immigrants from her hometown in Poland who emigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It sure looks possible, but I'd like it better if I could piece together a reasonable pedigree chart linking all these DNA match descendants to that family. Hence, the "quick and dirty." Only...not.

So a couple years ago now, when I first dealt with the possibility, I had set up a private, unsearchable tree on Ancestry, just for this research puzzle. I didn't want to lead anyone down the wrong path while I was experimenting with connections. That tree has been languishing ever since—until now, when I took up the challenge once again.

When I left off the pursuit last time, I had 391 individuals in that tree—remember, I need to trace all the descendants of each of those Zegarska sisters from Czarnylas, Poland, who traveled to America. With just this week's work, I've added eighty more names. Not bad for less than a week's work.

And that's where I get bogged down. Somehow, I can't just enter a name in a tree without making sure to attach supporting documentation. It's important to know why we mark down certain dates or locations. After all, I could forget, right? So, unlike those quick and nimble Search Angels who can knock out a family tree in just one night, I plod along, adding each decennial census record, double-checking each marriage and death record, verifying the burial information, gleaning what I can from each obituary. And on and on...slowly.

In the end—if I do get to the point where I feel confident enough to plug these DNA matches into my father's tree at precisely the spot where his presumed paternal grandmother belongs—it will be worth it to have all the accompanying documentation. In the meantime, I just wish I could go a little more hurrier.

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