Saturday, January 21, 2012

Follow-up Friday – Jan 20, 2012

I definitely got sidetracked this week and my surname research took an entirely different turn, but for the better! Even though I have committed myself to setting and following certain goals for the new year, I encountered one of the many quagmires involved with genealogy research and we are only in our 3rd week of the year. I set a few goals for particular surnames that I wanted to research, either because I wanted to learn more about them or because they had presented a brick wall. But I also committed to finding connections to the 178 autosomal DNA matches I have acquired in the 6 months since taking the Family Finder test.

I know I haven't written much about the test and all that is involved in working with my matches (that is also on my goals list - to write more about my experience). But anyone who has taken the test knows that 1) your tree has to be pretty well built up 2) that includes your collateral lines and 3) you will inevitably spend more time exchanging more family and historical data once a match is determined which means building up your tree some more, entering more sources, transcribing more records, etc. but the bottom line is that you will get sidetracked into looking at several different surnames at a time, especially if you have any of those annoying common surnames that you will inevitably have in common with 75% of your matches like Jones, Smith, and Johnson!

So long story short, even though last week I was researching my Ward and Joy, Peters, and Dunlap families and still had a bunch of Ward and Joy information to input into my database, this week I was researching my HARDIN and TINSLEY families!

It started off with one little email to a match who had a few surnames in common with me. I'm not even sure why I picked him. I guess I was bored last weekend and just randomly emailed him. (Now you see why I don't write too many posts about this - wouldn't want the method to my madness getting out). Anyways, he sent me his ahnentafel and told me that we connected through my 6th great-grandmother, Clara Hardin who was born 1793 in Kentucky. She married John Carman LaRue in Maury County, Tennessee in 1811. Clara Hardin's great-grandfather, Mark Hardin, born sometime in the late 1600s, was my match's 7th great-grandfather and my 9th great-grandfather, making my match and I 8th cousins, twice removed!

So I spent the first half of the week (Monday was a holiday for me for MLK's Birthday and then I was out sick one day) looking on the internet at all the conflicting information about where and when said Mark Hardin was born and who his possible parents were. I reviewed sources and analysis and research reports. And then I found out that my cousin Kay Haden (you might remember her because she was featured on the FGS blog as the first registrant for the FGS conference in Birmingham!) is also descended from Mark Hardin! She had done a lot of research on him when she lived in AL years earlier and sent me some stuff to look over.

Then my match and I used this not-always-so-handy-tool called the "In common with" filter on our ftDNA homepage to see who else we both matched to and it came up with two names. I emailed them thinking they might be descendants of Mark Hardin as well. One of them wrote me back and although she did not have and Hardins in her ancestry that she knew of, we did find not one, but TWO connections via the TINSLEY and HILL lines!!! How cool is that???

I never really did much research on my Tinsley line because frankly, there was already tons of information out there on the internet and there looked to be two or three very capable researchers who had posted their research on the internet already, so I figured they had it covered and I could use their research as a guide when the (free) time came. But we know it's never that easy, so of course I had to perform my own research. Including starting an annotated bibliography of the secondary sources on the Tinsley family that came into Virginia in the 1600s which included my ancestor, Thomas Tinsley.

It didn't take long to find the connection to her Tinsley line, even though it was several generations back. It turned out we were 9th cousins 1x removed! She had sent me the name of her online family tree and I was able to find the link to it by running a google search on it. Her tree was very easy to navigate in the pedigree view and by going through each of her lines I found a 2nd connection to Robert Hill (1678-1766) and Tabitha Brown Green (1690-1765)! My lines goes through their daughter Ann Hill who married John Steed and my match's line goes through their daughter Tabitha Hill who married David Chapman.

I have to admit, I'm getting pretty good at finding connections using genealogical tools like's online family trees! It does take patience though. Oh and with this connect, we were 8th cousins 2x removed.

So as you can see, I'm a pretty well-rounded genealogist. Or you might say I get bored easily. But I don't think this is a bad thing. Last year I was more focused on one of two things and this year I plan to make more connections and get back to building my tree up some more.

So not bad for a first 3 weeks. Last week I added some new information and worked on breaking down a couple of brick walls. This week I opened two new can of worms and got my brain's juices flowing and started pushing myself to think about how to deal with what I find on the internet, how to resolve conflicts, how to cite my sources, how to deal with not being able to make the report I want to make with my gen software (that's never ending right?), how to find books, and how to start thinking about the historical context of the area that my ancestors lived in. Oh yeah and how cool DNA is! And did you notice that my test seems to be really sensitive? They guarantee to only go back to 5th cousins, but most of my matches have been 8th cousins. I think that's pretty cool!


  1. This might be meaningless Ginger, but... I spent some time in NYC during the sixties and meant a blind poet/musician named Moondog". He was born in Kansas as Louis Thomas Hardin and while a youth found a blasting cap, taking it home to investigate. His investigation caused it to explode, blinding him. In New York City his clothing which he made himself became a costume looking like a Norse warrior. His music got the attention of many prominent musicians and over time he made several records and albums several sites exist with pictures and information, At least one book, 'Moondog". The German website is at and a movie is being made about him Hope this isn't too far afield. Jim Gossage.

    1. Hi Jim, thanks for sharing. It just goes to show you, you never know who or what you might encounter when researching your family history, surnames, or places you and your ancestors lived!