Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Spring Cleaning on the Gordon Line


With temperatures this week promising to hover in the nineties, it doesn't seem much like spring around here. Despite the unofficial start of summer vacation with the holiday weekend just past us, I'm going to abide by the official designation: summer can't claim us for another twenty days. That's my story and I'm sticking with my plans to do one final round of genealogical spring cleaning on my mother-in-law's family tree.

This month, it's her Gordon line which will be my focus for my Twelve Most Wanted ancestors of 2022. Of all the lines in her tree, this is the one I've managed to push back the farthest in research.

Putting this in perspective, founding immigrant John Gordon would be my husband's fifth great-grandfather, a patriarch bequeathing him 165 DNA matches on his ThruLines at For those matches at the sixth cousin level, yes, there are many weakly connected relatives with centiMorgan counts dropping far below the preferred rock-bottom of twenty—but there are surprisingly a few measuring up to thirty centiMorgans in a single segment, something I wouldn't have expected for such a distant relationship.

My goal in incorporating DNA information into my family's trees was to fill in as many collateral lines as possible for each generation. In a way, that means producing the kind of family diagram known as a descendancy chart—only I'm not doing it for one line of descent. I'm just adding Gordon to that list.

As for that Gordon line, this month we'll review who John Gordon, the founding immigrant, was. We'll take a brief tour of what we already know about some of his descendants—at least, the ones who migrated west through Pennsylvania and onward to Ohio, especially Perry County, the place my mother-in-law once called home. And we'll assess what else needs to be done with the many gaps in that line of descent.

When we're done with the month, I can't say we'll have an entirely spruced up tree. I certainly can't say I'll have slogged through all those ThruLines matches. But as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And there's a lot that needs to be gained in this sizeable Gordon family.

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