If you have been reading this blog you are aware that I have 3 brick walls. They are solid walls made of steel with no doors or windows. I swear an atom bomb could not penetrate those walls. You can find their names on message boards, Facebook pages, Yahoo groups and all over the net but no one has a clue where they came from. It seems they fell out of the sky and landed on the road somewhere between Alabama and Union Parish. There are a lot of interesting stories floating around on the web but most are easily proven wrong. James Russell Coplen may turn out to have been an outlaw but he is not the one who was hanged. Robert Clinton Webb died in Union Parish no matter how much you believe he left his wife and children to go back to Alabama to fight in the Civil War. All of this speculation convinced me to take the Ancestry.com DNA test in May 2012. That is where this adventure started.
This project started off to be fun and a little exciting. It soon turned into one of the most frustrating things I have ever been involved with. We will start with all the people with private trees. There are thousands of them. Now, before you get all steamed up about this let me say that I do believe you have a right to a private tree for whatever reason you have. On the other side it is not fair for those people to be able to harvest information from everyone else and never give any out. There are some who will answer your messages and share their tree with a connection but most will not. Genealogy is something to be shared. Think of all the times you got a tip from someone else or found something someone shared on the internet. How else will you find your distant cousin on the other side of the world? You know the one. She has in her procession the only document that proves who your 5th great grandfather was. If you don’t give out, don’t expect anything back.
There are also a lot of people who took the test just for the ethnicity estimate. They don’t have a tree and don’t want a tree. I can’t find fault with these people but I wish they were listed in another place, along with the private trees. That way those who are looking for hints don’t have to wade through them. If there were only a few it would be different, but when there is page after page it can get old and time assuming.
That brings us to the people who were adopted looking for their birth parents. The sad fact is DNA will not tell you who your parents are if they did not take the test and/or they are not on Ancestry. I am sorry to be so blunt but that is the truth. They have to have something to compare your DNA to. Some took the test thinking they would get that answer. There are so many others who took the test thinking they would get a hint on who their biological parents are. They don’t have a tree because they simply don’t know who to put in it. They should be able to see their matches without everyone else having to search through all the names without trees.
Next on the rundown you will find the copiers. They copy off of other copiers as well as the ones with documentation. I was recently contacted by a man who told me my great-grandmother’s middle name was Catherine not Celeste as I had on my tree. He knew because she was his great-aunt. I told him she was my great-grandmother and was always told by my grandmother, her daughter, that it was Celeste. However, if he had documentation I was open to being wrong. I never heard back from him. I did look at his tree. He has two sons listed that are not hers. The first was her husband’s half uncle who happened to be 40 years older than her. The second was the uncle’s son. Neither of them is listed on any document with her or my great-grandfather. Inserting this man as a son would mean my great grandmother had three children within 15 months. You can find all of them as a family on many, many, many other trees. What does this have to do with DNA? One lady contacted me asking about our connection. She could not find one. I never found one either, but several weeks later she contacted me again saying that she had. She decided that one of her ancestors was the daughter of one of my ancestors. This is a well documented line from long before I ever started. To make things worse, the dates and places did not work. I can not find any proof that this lady is his daughter. My DNA match does not offer any evidence. You will find this very often. People will find a match and go with it without any research.
Several months ago a friend suggested I put my information on gedmatch.com. That sounded like a good idea. I downloaded my DNA information and my tree from Ancestry.com and put it all on the site. Come to find out it was not a good idea for me. It is like reading another language. I don’t have a clue what those people are talking about. Science was never my strong point. It did not even come close. So, I am not getting anywhere on that site. I am sure others find it helpful but not me. I am better off letting Ancestry figure out who I am related to and then I will research how.
On a side note, Ancestry.com just revamped the DNA page. They now have circles that make things a lot easier.