Recently I took a second genetic genealogy test. I anxiously awaited my AncestryDNA test results following the RootsTech 2017 conference where the kits were on sale for an incredible price. I frequently checked the status to follow the processing of my DNA with mixed emotions. Would the test have more relative connections than 23andME or have the same disappointing links?
When I received my results, I wasn’t concerned about my ethnicity. I knew from 23andMe that I was a solid European descendant. My sister-in-law from Mexico has a beautiful chromosome map painted with a variety of colors to document her mixed genetic heritage. My chromosome map was almost entirely blue (European). I’m not surprised by these results because six generations of the ancestors I can find are from Colonial America, Germany, and Sweden. Doubting Ancestry reports would differ, I skipped the ethnicity results.
Instead, I looked at my relative matches. I noticed a number of results with no trees attached. All I can say is, “Please add a tree!” It’s frustrating to find a close DNA relative who hasn’t posted a family tree. However, I understand that there are a variety of reasons people take the genetic tests, and not all of them are relative finding.
Skimming over the no tree matches, I soon examined Ancestry’s tree comparison tool. That was AWESOME! I recognize that trees are only as good as people who did the research, but often a tree is fairly accurate for a few generations. Many of us know the names of our grandparents and great-grandparents. So, I’m going to trust but verify any of the tree hints.
When I saw a hint that matched my Townsend line, I became excited. I’ve shared before about William James Townsend and the information I discovered through his Civil War Pension file and a One Name Place Study for all Townsends in Franklin County, Ohio in the 1880 Census.
Through the one name research, I discovered five likely siblings, but all of this research is inferential. I have found no ‘smoking gun’ record that places all of the family members in one document and firmly establishing the relationship. I’m confident that I documented this research following the genealogical proof standard, but I have doubts. Without more concrete evidence, I still have nothing better than an educated guess.
That’s when DNA results come in handy. I don’t have y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA for the Townsend line. I only have autosomal DNA. Regardless of those limitations, AncestryDNA found a DNA match for me. That match had posted a tree online. Ancestry climbed out trees and returned a match of our shared ancestor of William Townsend and Nancy, parents of my William James Townsend and the match’s Perry Townsend. Now, my great-grandparent lines come from very different locations, except the Canadian line through my father. That line intermarries a bit, but the Townsend line appears to have no mixing with any other family line except when it converged in Ohio between William James Townsend and Mary Claybaugh. As such, the DNA results with the matching records appears to be solid. And together the evidence has me doing a happy dance.
Barring any new document that conflicts with my research (both on papers and in genes), I am right! I’m right! I’m RIGHT!
Now, I’m not prideful. I can’t tell you how much I doubted my conclusions. Tom Jones teaches about inferential genealogy and that he’ll publish his findings and let it be. If he’s wrong, he’s wrong, but he allows others to prove or disprove his theories that are not solidly built upon documentation. Even knowing that I could be right following the principles Mr. Jones teaches, I still doubt my research, even with a solid paper trail. On this particular line, I wanted my conclusions to be right. I wanted to celebrate that I found five new ancestors for a relative that my family knew only the name of when I began. That desire was clouding my research, or was it?
When the DNA results came back, and Perry’s descendant matched my DNA and our trees, I was excited. I felt relief. I felt validation that my hypothesis was right. Ah!!! It feels good. I’m fairly confident that I can proceed with the Townsend line further knowing I’m on the right trail. What a sweet blessing.
Thank you AncestryDNA for your service and thank you for cousin connections that built and published your trees on Ancestry, or any service that offers tree building. It is awesome!
To learn more about DNA Testing, check out Andy’s videos on our Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel.