Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Speeding Through Details


In what can only be called speed-dating for genealogy, I've been racing through the remainder of my ThruLines connections with DNA matches at Before this month comes to a close, I'm hoping to finish the list of fourteen matches belonging to one daughter of my fourth great-grandfather, Zachariah Taliaferro, by adding each person to the right place in my family tree.

The fourteen matches which connect through Zachariah's daughter Lucy have mostly been a quick study, mainly because I've already laid down so many of the details of each generation through my previous method for connecting matches to my tree. Now, though, I've been using ThruLines as a tool to accelerate confirmation of each match.

Well, let me amend that statement: it had been a quick process of adding DNA matches to my tree, until I hit a roadblock. Just as how it is when you are speeding in real life, zooming down the highway at a high rate of speed might seem just fine—until, that is, something unexpected pops up. Then, you have no time for adequate reaction.

In this case, I had only three more to review of the fourteen DNA matches belonging to Lucy Taliaferro when I suddenly realized something wasn't working out. Could it be possible, I wondered, for a grandchild to not be mentioned in a grandparent's obituary? All the others were mentioned specifically by name, but not this DNA match. What happened?

If I had been plodding through the process of building out this branch of the family tree in my normal, less frenzied fashion, I might have taken the time to consider possibilities. After all, there is a good chance that any of us could run into what would be the reverse of those heart-rending stories of adoptees finding birth parents through DNA. We may know who our parents are, but we may not know who all our parents' children were.

As I worked through the process of connecting my DNA matches to my extended family tree, I had to pause to consider that any family will run into surprises, if we search far and wide enough. Right now, I'm working on matches who are at about the level of fifth cousin to me. Who knows what the personal stories are for these distant relatives. Perhaps the person testing has chosen to do so for that very reason: to find out the answers about parents through that DNA test which were never shared by those who knew.

There will be some DNA matches for whom we may never find the connection. We can guess. In some cases, we can place their name in our tree with a second parent marked simply as "unknown." But in other cases—especially those for whom reaching out and asking would simply not be feasible—a DNA match might better be left, for the time being, in that pile of unknowns. For some, we can guess, but we can't confirm. It's simply not our business.

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