In this year's research goal to delineate DNA connections with literally thousands of distant cousins, my family tree has been growing rather wide, though I can't really say growth was deep. Working this month, for instance, on my great-grandfather Antoni Laskowski's Polish ancestors, I found far more to fill in the blanks on his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews in his collateral lines than I did for his parents or grandparents.
That work on collateral lines has produced results for my biweekly count, and that's no surprise. That continual, gradual effort brought me 338 new names in my family tree in the last two weeks, and that tree now contains 30,436 individuals.
That progress wasn't only on my Laskowski line, of course. The going has been slow and hard-won for those Polish ancestors, mostly because of the research barriers making it hard to locate the actual documentation (instead of transcripts). What helped add to those numbers has been a behind-the-scenes secondary goal I have of connecting all the collateral lines in my Tilson roots in Tennessee.
Meanwhile, as my research focus for the remainder of the year will be on my own family, my in-laws' tree has been languishing. I can't exactly remember how I gained that one new name on their tree, but it now stands at 30,211 individuals. I will return to working on that tree next spring.
The virtue of this wide versus deep approach is that collateral lines can be a valuable route to accessing missing information regarding earlier generations. Primary example is examining DNA matches with distant cousins to discover support for previously unknown ancestors.
Collateral lines can produce a bountiful family history harvest, when it comes to pushing backwards in time. And with 2,266 DNA matches at fourth cousin or closer currently at Ancestry.com, I'll need a lot of help to map out those collateral suggestions. While I have documented all sixteen of my second great-grandparents, I've barely scratched the surface with the next generation, finding only twenty one of the possible thirty two third great-grandparents. Most of the missing identities, incidentally, come from the Polish side of my family.
As we wrap up my exploration of what can be discovered on my Laskowski side tomorrow, we'll move to Antoni's mother's line for the upcoming month's goal, exploring what can be found in Polish records on the Gramlewicz family. We'll give those Polish transcription websites a workout in the next thirty one days.
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