Monday, September 11, 2023

The Tortoise Approach


Perhaps change is in the air. Along with the shifting seasons, I'm spotting signs of more than just beta tests at In fact, there's quite a buzz about the banner heading AncestryDNA's landing page—something I've unwittingly bypassed since I sign in directly to the option to view my matches or latest ThruLines update. Superimposed upon what appears to be a map of the world's reference panels, the banner heralds: "Coming soon: AncestryDNA results will be updated with even more precision in the coming weeks."

Coming weeks? How long will I have to wait to see this? I fervently hope I've missed seeing that banner for quite some time. I'm not sure I can wait that much longer. Sometimes, I feel more like the hare in the fable, chafing at the starting line to be off and running, rather than the plodding tortoise, sure to never win the race to find my ancestral answers.

While several genea-bloggers are surmising the latest heralded changes at Ancestry will relate to ethnicity estimates, I'm frankly not all that concerned about those data points. As I work, match by match, to pinpoint the place on my family tree where each DNA cousin belongs, I'm hoping for far more useful data for such a task. Remember, I'm stuck with this extra member of my father-in-law's family—Irish immigrant Dennis Tully, who is the apparent ancestor of more than eight of my husband's DNA matches. If there was any way, through DNA technology, to speedily determine whether he was the actual, bona fide son of our Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery, rather than being another relationship, that is the stuff of which I'd be most appreciative. As far as I can see, there is no other way to find documentation showing the correct relationship.

Between the latest beta tests and banners promising good things to come, the news certainly is being heralded on social media. Anticipation is fun, yes, but the end results will fully tell the tale. Yet, looking back over the last nine and a half years since buying my first DNA test kit, the ease with which I can determine where to place each cousin in my tree has greatly increased. I'm in awe over how much I've learned about family connections through this tool of genetic genealogy.

At this point, I've completely connected each of the eight ThruLines matches for this Tully line—the largest DNA test-taking set of all the descendants of Dennis Tully's supposed parents, Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully. Within the remainder of the DNA matches at, I've also spotted three or four additional candidates for this line and placed two of them in the tree, as well. Next task will be to move on to the other DNA companies where my family has tested, to spot matches descending from this same Dennis in those companies' matches, as well. And matches who may not show up in my husband's test might be part of the test results for either of my two sisters-in-law.

More discoveries await, I'm certain. All it takes is more work—plodding work to examine matches not yet aligned with Side View wizardry or through other tools. A tortoise approach for sure. New tools may redirect those efforts into slam-dunk answers with the new and improved hare approach, but I know I can figure out many of these puzzles with old-fashioned sheer effort, as well.

Still, I'm glad for those speedy short-cut tools. The more we can accomplish in less time, the more liberty we'll have to move on to even more amazing discoveries. In a few weeks. With the next update. In the meantime, perhaps I can make it to the finish line before the hare makes its next appearance. You know the old saying about slow and steady....

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