My Cousin is a Whale

4076084660_8577e3696f_zConfession: I think I might be obsessed with my cousin. I need you to tell me I’m not the only one.

I’m really into the DNA testing thing. When I did my Family Tree DNA test, I had one match who was listed as a second-to-fourth cousin. In genealogical terms, that’s a really close match. This cousin turned out to be an adoptee, and while she’s nailed down her maternal ancestry pretty well, the paternal line is a mystery. She also has her mom’s DNA, and I don’t match her, but I do match her dad’s phased result on GedMatch. So I’m related to the mystery dad.

I’ve been a genealogist for a long time, but I have some lines that have non-paternity events (NPEs) and other challenges, so I have a tough time figuring out how many of my matches are related even when they have a tree to offer. It’s even tougher when the person I’m working with also has holes.

So we’ve been working to figure out who her dad might be. We know approximately when he would have been born, and obviously we know he was in a certain place at a certain time. That’s it. I’ve been fleshing out the descendants of my ancestors to see where I have a male who would have been the right age, but so far, I haven’t found him.

Yesterday I got an email from my cousin, saying that she has a new match. This guy is listed as a second-to-third cousin, and she shares 243cM with him. I thought that might be a typo…but no. Two hundred and forty-three centimorgans. I don’t know about you, but the closest I’ve ever had was 58cM, and I was excited about that. This is a huge break in the case.

So now my new strategy is to work on this guy’s ancestry, because it’s a close enough relationship that I believe it will lead us to her dad fairly quickly (more quickly than my 53cM and NPEs can manage, anyway). I don’t appear to be related to this new guy, but I’m related to my original cousin and her dad, and this will help me find the dad. That may very well help me figure out one of my tough-to-research lines as well. It’s a win for everyone.

My original cousin is a normal person, not a genealogist. I think she’s feeling bad that I’m spending time on what she feels is her genealogical problem. What she doesn’t realize is that her dad has become my white whale. He’s Moby Dick, and I’m absolutely fixated on catching him. She thinks I’m doing her a favor, but NOPE. She’s doing me a favor, because when I find this guy, he’s going to take his place in tree, and he’ll bring others with him. Plus I’m going to dance around and sing “We Are The Champions.” Then I’m going to gloat on Facebook. I will be insufferable for days. You’ve been warned.

So I’m curious. Who is your white whale? Am I the only person who completely fixates on a particular problem like this? 

Photo by Tiffany Terry

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