Sunday, April 7, 2024



We've just come to the end of a long but pleasant week in our region's corner of the genealogical world: our regional council just hosted a week-long Family History Week, with the culminating day's sessions held at our state archives up at the capital. Driving home after the last session, satisfied with the outcome but still exhausted, it occurred to me it might be nice to just do some light family history research to round out the evening—and today's post.

With that, I turned to's ThruLines tool to see what DNA matches my husband might have to Elizabeth Howard, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandmother. Even though Elizabeth is on my mother-in-law's matriline—and my husband stands in for her on that mitochondrial DNA test—any of her descendants in this generation could still be matchable using the regular autosomal DNA test as well. She's still within reach based on that more widely-used test.

While it is unfortunate that we never had the opportunity to capture a snapshot of my mother-in-law's DNA—she passed about five years before I started testing family member—Elizabeth Howard is still my husband's fifth great-grandmother. And that is certainly reachable.

Turning to ThruLines, I noticed that Ancestry identified fifty eight of their customers who seem to be descendants of Elizabeth Howard and match my husband's DNA results. That's a promising number, considering that he is just at the outside reaches of possible autosomal matches. But when I look closer at those fifty eight matches, I notice one thing: most of the names proposed seem to descend from supposed children of Elizabeth whose names I never found in documentation. In fact, I noticed a few of those "matches" did have familiar surnames in their tree—from an entirely different family line.

While it is incredible to think that I can find current-day descendants of this woman born in the mid-1700s who still share genetic material with my husband, I am not so awed by the thought as to lose my sensibilities about double-checking the rudimentary tools we use to determine just how we relate to another person. ThruLines is so helpful, agreed, but it warrants a thorough fact-checking every time we put it through its paces.

The bigger challenge, of course, will be to push my mother-in-law's matriline back far enough to then switch direction and conduct descendancy research on the collateral lines of that earliest mother on the matriline. That will come soon enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...