Genes vs. genealogy


We are supposed to be 5th or 6th cousins. Some of our ancestors lived in the same area of far western North Carolina at the right time. Back then, the entire western tip of the state around Asheville was a single, large county by the name of Buncombe County. But despite our having well-documented family trees, the common ancestors will not show themselves, and the actual connection pointed to by the genetic data can’t be established.

I have to guess this is a common story for everyone who is attempting to add DNA to the genealogical toolbox.  In this case, « we » are three people, previously unknown to each other. As usual for me with 23andMe, this match appears to be related to the frontier zone where my maternal grandmother’s ancestors mixed, met and married before the move to Missouri that created her own family community. I suppose more data from more participants, especially from cousins like the Justices who remained in the Asheville area, would help us figure out who swapped DNA with whom.

The search for this connection did turn up an interesting bit of trivia, though. Elvis Presley’s ancestors lived there in Buncombe County, too.

Photo of Cold Mountain: Ken Thomas

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