Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Goal's a Goal . . .


. . .no matter how small? How about when the goal is massive?

When I hear examples of appropriate research goals in genealogy workshops, they often are quite measurable and attainable. That is good; results like that provide us with encouragement to keep at our work. But what about when the goal is enormous?

It has been almost exactly nine years since I first received results for a family member's DNA test. The first test I purchased was a Y-DNA kit for my brother, who was thankfully willing to do anything that would help us—siblings and cousins—figure out where our paternal grandfather actually was born. That step launched me on the longest-term research goal I'd ever tackled: to document every first through sixth cousin I could find on either side of my family.

The reason for such an ambitious project was simple: I couldn't stand looking at the names of nearly one thousand matches and realize I hadn't the faintest clue how they fit into my family's picture.

Nine years later, and I have two ever-expanding trees. (I couldn't take on a project like that for my side of the family without doing the same for my in-laws' family lines, too.) Perhaps that will provide a reasonable explanation for my biweekly reports of how my trees are growing. After all, such numbers would otherwise appear quite outlandish to the average hobbyist. 

While I took a break from blogging for the past six weeks, behind the scenes, I still pursued that overarching research goal. I'm still adding cousins to my trees. During that quiet time period, my own lines saw 114 documented individuals added to my tree, which now numbers 28,863. During that same quiet six weeks, I raced through 901 new entries, bringing my in-laws' tree's count to 29,590.

Behind the scenes, that frenzy of adding names had a sub-goal. Those directions I took from my Twelve Most Wanted research outline for the year. I was still working on my mother-in-law's Gordon line at the time, and had 168 Gordon DNA matches on's ThruLines tool to confirm. Working on the documentation for those 168—I'm not finished yet!—has so far brought in those 901 entries. After all, families do multiply.

The virtue of having such a long-range goal is that eventually—though ever so slowly—it becomes easier to place those distant cousin matches on my tree. In some cases, I've already placed them in their correct location, before even realizing we have a DNA match. It was such slow going at first, back in July of 2013 when I first began receiving those DNA matches, but over the years, the effort has eventually paid off well.

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