Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sorting Through Family Finder results

About 3 weeks ago, FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) began posting my Family Finder (FF) matches and I've been slowly making my way through the list. A couple of people contacted me and I've sent out e-mails to people with the closest matches. No common ancestors have been identified yet but I'm still hopeful.

I understand that all of these researchers are at different stages in their research. Over the past 13 years I've been lucky enough to learn the names of all of my 16 great-great-grandparents and the names of most of the towns where they were born and/or lived in the old country. There are still a couple of question marks but I'm pretty secure in my knowledge of that generation. In a couple of instances I can trace the family tree back to 6th and 7th great-grandparents (with actual records). Some researchers have had more success, some less. It can be frustrating for me though when FF tells me I have a match with a potential 4th cousin and that researcher isn't even able to name all 8 great-grandparents. I found out a couple of days ago that one potential 3rd cousin is getting her family names from another family member and the names of the towns where they came from are coming from US records vs records from the actual towns. One researcher didn't recognize any of the surnames and town names I sent him so he refused to share any family details. I told him that because I can trace a couple of the branches further back in time I know the names of brothers and sisters of my direct ancestors so if he would give me his surnames I might see them in those side branches. Nothing. I can see protecting details about living people until we confirm a match but not the names of people who were born 150 years ago.

One e-mail exchange has been interesting because that researcher is wondering some of the same things I is it possible that we have so many matches in common? I still haven't figured it out. I'm the first to confess that I have not caught on to the DNA lingo yet and don't fully understand the results. I contacted FTDNA about these common matches to see if putting them into a database would show some kind of meaningful pattern or if it's all just a coincidence. I haven't heard back yet.

It is always worth the time to compare family details on all matches. You never know when you'll run across an obvious match. Even if we don't find an obvious match, comparing family details can give me more ideas about where an ancestor may have lived, possibly a town/region I hadn't considered. I hope the details I share may help another researcher. If you go far enough back in time we're all related. It would just be nice to be able to pinpoint the ancestors we share.

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