But DNA Has Its Place
I’m a word person. There are just no two ways about it.
So, when it comes to hunting down ancestors, whether crafting interview questions to elicit relevant information, ferreting out clues from old manuscripts, or documenting what I find, the word’s the thing.
For me, it’s the experiences my ancestors had that tell how I came to be who I am. Being African American intensifies that desire, I think. Having had a journalism career, keeps me aware that the story of my ancestry is the most important one I’ll ever work on.
But despite my fascination with written records, a couple of brick walls have prompted me to put the papers aside and focus on science for a while. My belief that the paper trail never ends still is strong, but my autosomal DNA test results are getting a lot more attention.
I spend hours on the GedMatch (www.gedmatch.com) site where those who have taken an autosomal DNA test with Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA or 23andMe can upload the results. There they can view kinship matches based on test results uploaded from any of the three companies.
Information on GedMatch can help to identify those who share relatively recent ancestors. Hopefully, I can track down kin with clues to help solve mysteries about ancestors four or five generations back.
But first, I have to identify those kin on lines where I am challenged. The process has not been perfect. Matches look promising, I email them, and four out of five don’t respond.
I often use my journalism skills to investigate matches before emailing them. Maybe some matches have investigated me and simply would rather not be bothered. I’ll have to develop a schedule for making repeat inquiries. Perhaps, they just need to know how dedicated I am.