Sunday, June 2, 2024

Letting DNA be the Guide


Collateral lines are the key to figuring out that multitude of DNA matches, but what happens after discovering a previously-unknown additional child of that shared ancestor? With this month's research focus on my mother-in-law's Metzger line, that is exactly what I'll be tackling.

Michael Metzger, my mother-in-law's second great-grandfather, immigrated to the United States along with his young family. Best I can tell, they arrived in Pennsylvania before the birth of their son Joseph in 1819. Then within the next five years, they moved once again, this time to Ohio, where the family's journey ended.

The problem is, there were apparently children whose identity seemed to slip through the cracks in those early years, and only showed up on my genealogy radar a couple years ago, when I last focused on this family line.

Fortunately for me, descendants of one of those mystery children have shown up on my husband's DNA matches at

All told, my husband has seventy four DNA matches at attributed via ThruLines to Michael Metzger's descendants. Thirty four of them trace back to Michael's namesake son, Michael junior, my husband's direct line. Another six are supposedly descendants of Joseph, that first American-born child of the Metzger family. A daughter Elizabeth has seven descendants who match my husband, and another son, Jacob, yielded nineteen matches.

That mystery child, though, actually became the line from which eight more DNA matches descend, a hopeful sign that I did indeed miss another child in the Michael Metzger family line. The closest of those matches, a fourth cousin once removed, matches my husband with forty seven centiMorgans—not a large number, but reasonably within the range determined by Blaine Bettinger's Shared centiMorgan Project interactive version at DNA Painter.

Of course, there are other possible relationships that can also match at the same level, but at the beginning of a research project, this sounds like a promising sign. What we'll need to do first is review the information already gathered on this possible son of Michael Metzger, then see what else can be found about this man's family history. Along the way, I'll be working on the other DNA matches descending from this same son, to see what else can be learned from those lines of descent. There are still so many loose ends to tie up concerning this son who left the Metzgers' Ohio home to build a life of his own, far from the rest of the family.

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