Thursday, September 21, 2023

Genetic Road Maps


When you consider how many matches the average participant in DNA testing can receive, it becomes mind boggling to think of all the people with whom we connect genetically. I have, for instance, over twenty four hundred people who have tested their DNA at and match me at the level of fourth cousin or closer. And that is just the matches I have at one of the five companies where I have tested.

In the process of reviewing all these matches and finding a place for each of them in my family tree, I inevitably end up adding several more generations of cousins as I chart my way back to the most recent common ancestor we—my match and I—share. That process alone can be a tedious exercise—something I can vouch for, having managed to merely complete one such matching task per day, now that I've started reviewing my Broyles connections. It's the documentation which puts the brakes on the otherwise willy-nilly temptation to go careening down the steep slope of descendancy. 

When you consider how many families in our past generations were composed of multiple children, you realize that documenting each one of them down to the present age can be a mind-boggling process. There are so many points at which to make a wrong turn.

Now that I've taken to using the DNA shortcut to that tedious every-child-in-the-family approach, I realize that tools like Ancestry's ThruLines serve as genetic road maps guiding my progress. I have the starting point, pinpointing my possible DNA cousin through the actual test results. And then I have suggestions, based on computer-guided searches through multiple resources within the Ancestry tree collection, laying out the possible route from where I stand, up through the ancestor I share with my match, then back to the generation of that specific DNA match.

While I appreciate having access to those genetic road maps, the route proposed still needs to be carefully traveled. Why? Because many of the clues pointing the way are drawn from other subscribers' family trees. True, there is a genetic connection, but any tree is only as reliable as the documentation which supported it in the first place. I've got to compare what others assert with a thorough examination of available documentation. I owe that process to myself—and to all the family members who will eventually come to rely on my research.

Thus, the reason for such slow progress, despite the handy genetic road map. Hopefully, by the end of this week, I will have completed confirming the six DNA matches whose ancestor was Jemima Broyles Horton, sister of my third great-grandfather, Ozey Robert Broyles. From there, I will move on to the four DNA-matching descendants of her older brother, Cain Broyles. If there is any time left, perhaps I'll be fortunate to also squeeze in work on the one DNA match each for their siblings, John Taylor Broyles and Edna Broyles.

As for the DNA matches leading to my own third great-grandfather Ozey Robert Broyles, don't think I'll be able to follow that route in the remainder of this month. With thirty nine matches on that line alone, it will be a while before I close out that process. Road map or not, DNA work doesn't proceed well on a speedway.

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