If there is one thing that working with my autosomal DNA results has taught me – it’s that I need to be sure to work my family tree both up and down.
While the goal for most people pursuing genealogy seems to be working the tree up, as in “how far back did you go”, when working with autosomal DNA matches and trying to make connections it becomes quickly apparent that you also need to work your tree down as well.
For example, there are several matches that are 3rd and 4th cousins on my 23andMe Relatives page. I’ve been working on contact them all, making a spreadsheet, trying to figure out where we match, etc. The hope is that I can connect with as many of these new cousins as possible. Because many of these matches don’t have a very complete family tree, working “up” it is hard to make a match to my tree if I haven’t worked my tree “down” because the surnames in our files never match.
Does that make sense? How many branches of my public Ancestry tree (and my database for that matter) are simply taken back generation to generation with just my direct ancestors? More than I would like to admit. Yet those are the places where I am likely to make a match. Rarely did those early American families only have one or two children – often there were a dozen or so – and that is where I need to do some work.
I need to begin to take my far reaching g-g-g-g grandfather’s family and work them forward as much as possible in order to meet in the middle with some of these closer DNA matches. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to figure out just how we are connected.
Looks like I have my work cut out for me!