Saturday, January 7, 2023

Hundreds of Cousins


Do you have more cousins than you can keep track of? If you are your family's genealogist, you probably can track hundreds of cousins—if, that is, you pay attention to your ancestors' collateral lines and participate in testing family members' DNA.

This is the year I've decided to organize those hundreds of DNA matches in my family—mostly on my mother's side, as well as those of my mother-in-law. At this start of 2023, my first month is dedicated to tidying up my maternal Broyles line and the many DNA matches I've acquired through that extended family. Since we've already taken up nearly a full week closing out daily descriptions of my Twelve Most Wanted for this year, we'd better get busy and take a look at the work we have ahead of us.

Thanks to not only years of working on my Broyles lines but connecting with other Broyles researchers since the 1990s—yes, I have been at this one line of pursuit for almost as long as I've owned a personal computer—I've had quite a head start on this month's goal. Still, since I've been able to push back to my fifth great-grandfather on this line—Adam Broyles, a Virginia native who died in Washington County, Tennessee, in 1782—I've had plenty of time to pile up a considerable list of distant cousins. Seventy eight of them, in fact, according to the ThruLines calculations at (and even more, if we consider the results for his wife, incredibly showing one hundred matches).

I'll warn you at the start: wandering through those Broyles family lines means stumbling upon stories of businessmen and governors, land owners and farmers. Among that lot, I'm sure we'll find our fair share of shady stories, as well. Suffice it to say this is one line for which Googling ancestors is not a waste of time.

There is cause for caution, though. There are printed genealogies for this family, though they are unpublished manuscripts. With the ability now to cross-check these typed assertions by online digitized records, we should be able to ensure we are on the right track. However, we need to keep in mind the possibility of errors multiplied over the generations as families shared their cherished stories and remembrances. We'll move step by step, but with our eyes wide open. No need to be concerned about those unpublished manuscripts when we can use our own research skills to cross-check for verification.

The line of Adam Broyles and his wife, Mary Wilhoit, has provided me with the joy of being able to walk up to a mere acquaintance and greet him with the announcement of our exact family relationship. When genealogists know who their fifth great-grandparents are, they can do that. I must admit, that's been quite a bit of fun to do. 

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