Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

by Laura

After doing as much research as I could given the information from “jimbuffalo”, I started looking at the other matches I had. These folk weren’t as close to me as Jim, but they’re still important matches.

So I looked through the family trees associated with two other cousins:  a third cousin, “P.H”, and two fourth cousin, “leenie08” and “harvanddoris”. Leenie’s tree had many of the same surnames that I was beginning to look for through Jim, so I assumed (correctly, it later turned out) she was from my Maternal family, the McManuses (McMani???).

But my other two matches, P.H. and Doris, matched each other. The surnames in these trees were all different and unfamiliar to me. Might they be from my unknown Paternal Family?!? I combed through these two trees and discovered a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA), Catherine Wright (1834-1894). Catherine was from Tipperary, Ireland and had emigrated to the States in 1866, settling in Pennsylvania.

I started building out her family tree, using the information I had from Doris and P.H., as well as what I could find in Ancestry’s database. Turned out, Catherine had two husbands, Richard Britt and William Kennedy, both, also, from Ireland. Between them, Catherine had seven children, most of whom also had married and had children.  This tree was growing exponentially…and quickly. By the time the first week of researching Catherine came to a close, I had, what I thought at the time, a large-ish tree, but no real direction. DNA told me I was related to these folk that were related to Catherine…but how? which branch?

And how would I ever figure this out? That’s when I took a leap of faith and wrote an inquiry message, through Ancestry’s messaging system, to Doris and P.H, asking for more information on family members and their connections, than what I initially found.

Lo, and behold…I got an answer. But I was now more confused than ever because neither person could tell which branch I was from:  Britt or Kennedy.

That’s when I started to play around with attaching my DNA to random folk in these trees (which were also private and unsearchable, for obvious reasons). Attaching DNA is a simple procedure on Ancestry, and one of the methodologies recommended by DNAAdoption. Simply find someone you think you might be related to, and link your DNA to that person in that tree. You can find all of this under “Settings” on Ancestry’s DNA homepage. It doesn’t matter who that person is; male/female, living or not. It’s a great way to get hints and to see if and how you’re related to a particular branch on a particular tree. For me, it worked brilliantly, although it took some time to populate the “shaky green leaf” hints.

And what are these “shaky green leaf” hints that I waited for, to populate my tree and my DNA page? These hints from Ancestry offer more information, more names, and more possible connections based on my DNA, the other family members’ DNA, and the information…right, wrong, or indifferent…what was in other folks’ trees. These are more clues to follow as I continued to search for my origins.

So at the same time I was waiting for my OBC to tell me if Charlotte-from-Buffalo was my Mother, I started down the path of finding my birthFather.