Sunday, February 19, 2023

Concerning Cousins


If anyone told you the main reason for completing a DNA test is to obtain information on ethnicity, I'd have to disagree. At least for me, it's concerning cousins and where they fit into my family tree. And really, can you blame me for wanting to know what to do with the 2,323 matches I have at AncestryDNA, or the 5,855 who show up on my readout at Family Tree DNA? I want to know how I connect to them.

With a goal like that, the strategy becomes to focus on collateral lines—all those siblings of my ancestors who ultimately turn out to be the direct ancestors of my DNA matches. Sure, that makes for a wide tree but in the end, it helps me place those DNA cousins into the right places. I can visualize the connections better when I see them in context in that family tree.

In the past two weeks, I've added 238 more relatives to my family tree, which now contains records for 32,447 people. That gives an idea of how wide that tree is, for I've rarely been able to push beyond fifth or sixth great-grandparent on many ancestral lines. But I have several lines of descent outlined to about the sixth cousin level, especially for those DNA matches who haven't still kept me stumped.

Next week, in working on my Taliaferro ancestors, I'll target my eighty seven ThruLines matches at AncestryDNA who connect with me through the elder Zachariah Taliaferro, my fifth great-grandfather. Since I have already entered several lines of descent for this ancestor, hopefully those matches will quickly find their places in my tree. That, at least, was the hope in doing all this work, week after week.

While my research focus this month is on ancestors from my mother's side of the family, I will eventually switch over to working on my mother-in-law's family tree. Behind the scenes, I do enter information on that tree as well, like last week, when I found seventy seven extra names to add to her tree after gleaning some details from my husband's DNA matches. My in-laws' tree doesn't trail too far behind mine: 30,792 individuals, at last count. Come April, those targeted monthly research projects will shift to zoom in on my mother-in-law's family, and we'll see those numbers sprout up much quicker.

For tomorrow, we'll turn our attention back to my own mother's Taliaferro line, for there's a little research twist I need to discuss before we start working on those DNA matches who descend from Zachariah's line.

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