Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Cousins in More Ways Than One


When it comes to researching the Taliaferro line, the potential for running across distant cousins can be high. Though the surname seems unusual—and thus, we presume, rare—its longstanding residence in colonial America affords it ample generations in which to leave its mark. It isn't unusual, when I'm attending a genealogy conference or training event, to meet a distant Taliaferro cousin—and by that, I mean relationships as distant as ninth or twelfth cousin, a level only an avid family history enthusiast would track.

In the course of tracking such details, though, I've also discovered that some of my fellow Taliaferro descendants are related to me in more ways than one. In fact, I'm my own distant cousin, due to the colonial habit of intermarrying among family members. As I work my way through my ThruLines results at Ancestry.com, I'm realizing some of those DNA matches are also cousins to me in more ways than one.

My fourth great-grandfather Zachariah Taliaferro descended from Richard Taliaferro of colonial Virginia, leaving him in the company of plenty of siblings and cousins—many of whom had descendants of their own. In this end-of-month research goal, I've been cleaning up my Ancestry.com ThruLines DNA matches claiming Zachariah as their most recent common ancestor shared with me.

Although Zachariah and his wife, Margaret Chew Carter, had four daughters, only three of them are represented among my ThruLines matches. Besides my direct line descending from daughter Sarah—wife of Ozey Robert Broyles whose father's descendants we had worked on last week—I have fourteen matches descending from her sister Lucy, and another five from next-youngest sister Mary Margaret.

Since Lucy had the larger set of descendants, I began with her list. It wasn't long after I began this task when I began to spot the intermarriages in Lucy's line of descent. In fact, one of my other fourth great-grandfathers was Warren Taliaferro, Zachariah's own brother, whose own descendants figured prominently in intermarriages with other branches of my family, including Lucy's own descendants.

Perhaps that would explain some details I had spotted regarding these matches. While the majority of my DNA matches from my Broyles project last week had a very small count of shared centiMorgans with me, and generally only one segment in common, the matches I've working on this week tend to have a higher centiMorgan count and three to four segments shared in common. I wonder whether the pedigree collapse at that point in the Taliaferro genealogy might be what has resulted in the higher number of segments, since the relationship distance is roughly the same as I saw for the Broyles cousins: from fourth cousin once removed to fifth cousin once removed as a range of relationship.

While this will be a short week, as far as research goals go—and it will be doubtful that I can review each of these nineteen DNA matches before the start of October—I'd like to revisit this goal in the future. That way, I can look at that other fourth great-grandfather, Warren Taliaferro, and see which matches are simply repeats of the names listed for Zachariah's descendants. 

1 comment:

  1. It's fascinating how those relationships pop up in our trees. I've found a very unusual surname and location showing up in both my parents' lineage, and have been trying to find a connection between them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...