Saturday, December 5, 2020

Pedaling as Fast as I Can


Don't look now, but four weeks from today, we will be well into not only a new month, but a new year. After all the research results that have been rushing at me in the last month, I have a massive family tree cleanup to attend to before crossing that new year finish line. Yes, I'm elated over the discoveries on the Zegarski and Wojtaś family connections—and I'm still grinding my way through the genealogical sausage-making endeavor over those Gramlewicz connections in Żerków, Poland—but sometimes, we just need to take a break from progress to clean up the mess strewn in our wake from our last research victory.

That said, the task at hand this weekend is not only to continue work on reconciling my one combined tree at Ancestry with my private unsearchable tree which I used to explore possibilities on those DNA links to my mystery paternal grandfather's line. I also need to link those DNA matches with the right spot in said tree. With that, I have a two-step process each stop along the way down that new branch on the family tree.

Do you take the time to link your DNA matches with their corresponding spot in your family tree? Ever since Ancestry introduced that provision, I've been working to keep up with that task. For one thing, it helps identify where matches belong in my tree, but that isn't the only purpose. Some of these DNA matches, people who remained a puzzle to me in the past, now seem to fall into place as I utilize the "shared matches" option at Ancestry DNA.

As I batch together matches with similar genetic material, it confirms even further what began as a hunch on my part. The results seem to multiply, not just add up one by one—hence the snowballing effect that the more I link, the more I need to double down to work on the rest of the set.

Add to that the fact that this new branch of my own tiny family tree represents a massive addition of relatives from a Catholic Polish heritage with several large families to trace. The few immigrant ancestors who came to Milwaukee to begin a new life there ended up having eight, ten, twelve children of their own—many of whom not only survived to adulthood, but went on to have eight, ten, or twelve children of their own. The expanding results are geometric.

The interesting realization is to discover how many of these distant cousins seem to share my fascination with our mutual roots. Now that I've found the connection, I've been making the rounds with these mystery DNA matches to let each one know I've finally figured out just how we connect.

It's been fun just making those connections—not just with the DNA matches at Ancestry, but repeating that process with my matches at each of the other companies where I've tested. Considering these are often relatives as distant as fourth cousins, I'm awed to see how amazing this DNA connection really is—a microscopic yet powerful way that leads us to the answers we could never quite conquer in the past. 

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