There’s Always an Oops In Your Family Tree. Always

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Ancestry is such a curious hobby, especially when DNA is involved. No matter how meticulous your research, DNA is often a huge veto to whatever the ‘official’ record might indicate. After years of waiting, enough people have participated to make a critical mass almost unavoidable for those of us nerdy enough to find ancestry to be enjoyable. I have a few ancestors who without a doubt are my family, yet share no known names. Multiple matches from different directions prove we are indeed family. One of them is James Solomon Rushing, who lived between 1866 and 1947, in both Mississippi & Louisiana. Another couple is Nathan Bennett Pierce and Emma Hart. Nathan was born in NY but passed in Utah; his wife Emma was born in Ohio and also died in Utah.

Since I’ve been involved with genealogy and DNA so long, I have a huge cluster of DNA circles involving thousands of people. Most of the huge chunks missing from the DNA record are from my father’s paternal side of the family. While I have DNA links to my paternal grandmother (my dad’s mother), I have zero for his dad, my paternal grandfather. This is the only branch of my family where I do not have hundreds of verified DNA matches. Although this will come off as sounding odd, based on the evidence presented by thousands of matches, the experts tell me that the truth is that it is close to 100% likely that my father’s male ancestors aren’t the ones written in the backs of dusty Bibles. I’ve long suspected this but without statistical proof, it has been a waiting game. As an example, I have some multiple-verified DNA going back to my 7th-greatgrandfather, George Farrar, who is an ancestor to my maternal grandfather William Cook. (By the 7th-greatgrandfather, you have 512 ancestors of equal rank. That’s a lot of contributors.)

(PS: As all of you well know, you have a high statistical chance of having your record wrong even two generations up. Almost all of us have dusty pictures of people who aren’t really our ancestors, despite the record saying it is so.)

I’m waiting patiently for the day when 5 million or 10 million Americans have participated in this DNA system. DNA, especially when verified via several different routes, is the math that determines the formulas that we assume define our family tree.

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