Monday, March 5, 2012

Finding that common ground--literally-- for the DNA connection

Those of us who are pursuing autosomal DNA matching to give us an edge in our paper trail chases find that sometimes it's easy, and most of the time it's very hard, to make that connection with another person's family tree.

It is going to get easier, as more matches appear and their trees start matching up to one another.

In the meantime, while we work hard to extend the trees of the matches beyond what even they even guessed were there ancestors, and while we speculate at what might be that common ancestor, one angle to take is the geographical one.

If I look at a match's tree, I might see two areas where I could follow the lines to connect to a potential ancestor. I can't really ignore any possibilities, because people were mobile, and we may have ancestors from places we don't know they hailed from. But while keeping that in mind, I can extend the trees in the directions most likely to prove fruitful in a geographical sense. And as I do so, I check back to the trees of other matches, and check their chromosome browser results against each other, and see if there might be a location that makes sense, at least for the moment. Then I take a good look at my tree, and, keeping it all in mind, I begin to see at least where the possible match might be.

Family Tree Maker is very helpful for this exercise, because I can click on "places," choose a location, such as Somerset, New Jersey, and have all the ancestors, or ancestors of matches, I have listed to date show up in a list. I can then investigate via the census to see just how close they may have lived to one another, and then I can further check for marriages and land exchanges to see which families were linked to others. 

Just one way to make a little, or a lot, if you are lucky, of progress.

Happy hunting!

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