With one day remaining to this month of research, it hardly seems possible that I will accomplish my task. But what can be done if we don't give it our best try, right?
Today's task is to begin the same DNA-matching process at Ancestry.com as I've been doing for the past two weeks for other family lines. Only this last-ditch attempt focuses on one surname which will likely become the impossible dream: to place each of my Tilson DNA matches on the right collateral line in my family tree.
Think of it: by the numbers, I've already got forty six matches outlined in ThruLines for my fifth great-grandfather, William Tilson. But William is just the beginning. Though the DNA would most likely not bear out any relationships more distant, it is William's own mother, Janet Murdock, whose genealogy leads us back to the days of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.
If there is one complaint I have about my fifth great-grandfather, it is that he and his young bride decided to strike it out in the wilderness of southwest Virginia colony, leaving their extended family behind in Plympton, Massachusetts. Of course, if I had any hope of obtaining documentation sufficient to trace this family line any further, it would be back in Massachusetts, not in the wilds of Virginia. And that is where I and the Mayflower Society will be at an impasse—unless they know something I have yet to uncover.
Meanwhile, I thought it might be a nice gesture to organize the Tilson family history a bit more by tidying up my DNA matches. Hence, my rush to do so in this last day of the month, before another research project comes my way.
Surprisingly, despite the distant relationships, I have Tilson DNA matches sharing up to almost sixty centiMorgans with me. Admittedly, there are also plenty on the other end of the spectrum, precariously dangling from the doubtful edge of identical by descent. Still, with ThruLines providing a suggested line of descent based on other subscribers' research, I can follow those lines for myself and check them against documentation. In some cases, ThruLines has been a welcome guide as I sketch out what CeCe Moore used to call a "quick and dirty" family tree for these new-to-me lines.
Besides their longstanding history in the United States, the Tilsons have been fascinating in other ways. From the place where they first shook me off their historic trail—back in southwest Virginia—they had moved on to Tennessee and, reportedly, Kentucky. I've run into other Tilsons in Texas and states beyond. There are numerous Tilson kin, so much so that I need to tread carefully to ensure I'm not mixing up two cousins by the same name. And the family line comes with an instruction manual of sorts: the 1911 Tilson Genealogy, which I've compared with now-available corroborating documentation.
Still, there is only so much that can be done in a day. It isn't because of genies that this is called genealogy. It is not magic we're working when we construct our family trees; it is plenty of grunt work and patience. The Tilson project is likely one I'll need to revisit in my plans for the upcoming year, despite my heroic attempts at finishing the unfinishable today. For tomorrow, we'll be on to another research project featuring a different side of the family.