It's time for my biweekly assessment of how I've fared in the past two weeks of plugging away at family history research. Though I keep an eye on progress for each tree I'm building—now down to two trees, as I've consolidated into one the trees for my parents' families, and likewise another one out of my in-laws' separate trees—I also like to watch the ongoing results on DNA matches for family members who have tested.
Usually, about this time every year, there has been a discernible bulge in the count of total DNA matches, no matter which testing company I'm watching. There is a simple reason for this: thanks to the many people who thought a DNA test kit would be a nifty holiday gift for family members, plus the processing time once the completed kits were received back at the lab, those results were usually posted to everyone's account by mid-February. In other words, Christmas finally hit. And, of course, added to everyone else's list for those who matched within the appropriate distant-cousin range.
Not so, ever since the news broke about the Golden State Killer case. I track match counts at four different companies on a biweekly basis for myself and my husband, as proxies for our extended families, and the numbers have been lackluster.
I have heard from friends and associates who submitted DNA test kits after last December's holiday season that they have yet to even receive their results, so perhaps the seasonal bulge is yet to happen. But I doubt it.
Still, with the proliferation of tools making manipulation of those DNA results easier, I've been able to identify more of those matches and, specifically, just how those strangers connect to our family's lines. I even spent some time in the past two weeks navigating my way around the "spaghetti bowl" that is 23andMe's automatically generated family tree—and spotted some ways to plug in DNA matches.
Of course, each successfully-aligned DNA cousin encourages me to find another challenge to resolve. That, in turn, demands references back to my genealogy database, often involving updates. Before long, there have been dozens of new names entered into the family tree as connections get made with previously unresearched lines.
Within the past two weeks, that process led me to add sixty names to my parents' tree, all of them on my maternal side. That, however, was a modest gain in comparison to what I was able to achieve on my husband's family tree. Thanks mostly to some connections with my mother-in-law's ample family lines, this past two weeks brought 243 new individuals to her line, especially her paternal side, where I discovered an entire branch which had previously been left empty, for lack of data.
That means, at this point, a total count on my tree of 25,212 documented individuals, and 20,088 on my in-laws' tree. Not to mention, I can't wait to find another spare moment to manipulate those spaghetti-string lines on the tree at 23andMe, where my mother-in-law's connections are becoming so much clearer. It never hurts to find encouragement through progress, but it seems we can't achieve that progress without first encountering some head-butting moments of research frustration.