If, like me, you’ve embraced genetic genealogy as a valid way to advance your family tree, then you may have found that one side of your tree has yielded a lot more matches than the other. This is certainly true for my maternal lines versus my paternal lines. In this post, I take a look at why this might be, and what you can do to improve it.
The most likely reason I have more maternal matches is that a number of people in that family emigrated. A sibling of my gg grandfather, Michael Joyce, went to America. I recently established contact with his descendants, a number of whom have tested. One of Michael’s sons also went to New York in the mid-1910s and remained there for the rest of his life. He had a number of children and has many descendants today. Some of his nieces and nephews also went to America, first aided by their uncle already (an example of chain migration) and then branched out. In my grandmother’s generation, 2 of her siblings went to the USA, though we have maintained close ties with these cousins and they are all accounted for! Americans were early adopters of DNA testing and are more numerous in the various DNA databases than any other nationality, so if you’re going to find matches, it’s more likely to be there.
Look discerningly at each family. How many had children? How many of them did? If I examine just my paternal grandmother’s family: 3 of the 5 siblings did not marry or have children. Her 4 nephews/niece have not had children. In the previous generation, my great-grandmother was one of 9 children but only 2 had biological children. Of my grandmother’s 5 cousins, none of them married or had children! Her father was an only child, as far as I can tell, so no cousins there either. Therefore, we’ve got a lot of dead ends in this family who are sadly never going to produce matches.
What can you do about this?
If you haven’t already, test any older generations possible.
Test confirmed relatives who are more distant. I’ve tested a maternal and paternal cousin for each of my parents. When budget allows, I’ll upgrade one of these tests to Y-67, so that I can begin to breakdown the brick wall line stemming from my Reilly great-grandfather, apparently an only child, for whose parents I cannot find a marriage.
Review your research and make sure it’s right. I recently discovered a mistake in my research, which I should have spotted, and has already led to several extra people in the tree.
On Gedmatch, pay the $10 to unlock the Tier 1 facilities and have a go at creating Lazarus kits for deceased members of your family. I created one for my father by combining the tests of his descendants and other people related to him. This has yielded matches that don’t match the rest of us. Of course, you might not have the right people tested for this, but maybe you can achieve it for some people. Have a look at this video on Genetic Genealogy Ireland for more examples of this tool.