Even if it is not yet possible to determine the exact origin of an immigrant ancestor, it is a quite satisfactory approach to learn all that can be found on that individual (or couple), once they have arrived in their new homeland. With my mother-in-law's family tree, she has several ancestors who arrived in Perry County, Ohio, in the early 1800s and stayed there, along with all their descendants, for generations. Likewise, though I know where family members say those ancestors originated, I have yet to locate any reliable documentation demonstrating the facts.
For my fifth choice of the Twelve Most Wanted I will be researching in the upcoming year, I am torn between two founding families in my mother-in-law's family history. Unable to make the choice, I once again turned to DNA to help flip the coin. There are two family surnames—Gordon and Metzger—which have been in Perry County since the early 1800s, but my question is: which line has the most interesting possible DNA matches to connect to my mother-in-law's extended family tree?
I took a look at the Thru-Lines readout at Ancestry.com for each of those surnames for my husband's test results. Hands down, third great-grandfather Gordon has far and above more DNA matches listed for his account than his counterpart Metzger. Though I haven't done the grunt work to connect some of them to the tree, it was easy to spot, just at a glance, that putting the Gordon puzzle pieces together would be far easier to handle.
But that is not what big goals are about.
Opting for the messier—but far more likely to be interesting—goal of pursuing my mother-in-law's Metzger roots, my fifth Most Wanted ancestor will be an immigrant by the name of Michael Metzger, my mother-in-law's second great-grandfather. Born in 1783—but where is not yet confirmed, at least in my mind—he and his wife and at least one child somehow arrived in the New World and settled in Ohio before 1830.
There are many gaps in the records I've accumulated for Michael Metzger so far, and more work is needed, stateside. But the main research goal for this coming May is to see whether there is any indication of where in the old country the man and his wife—not to mention his son Michael, direct line ancestor of my mother-in-law—once lived before making that momentous decision to forsake all and leave for America.