It's Friday night and that can only mean one thing...high school football. Well, at least this time of year anyway. Wayne is one of what was estimated to be as many as 10,000 attending the last regular season game for Pace. The reason for such a large attendance? It's the big game with the town just fifteen minutes down the road and to say there's a rivalry would be an understatement. The guys left early to be sure they had a seat as it's sure to be standing room only by kick-off time.
Me...I'm doing a little climbing around in the family tree. I'm still working on my dad's side, still tracing families in colonial Massachusetts and still believing I may never run out of names. It's a good problem to have, I suppose; better than the alternative.
Tonight I've been looking as John Ball, born about 1585 in England and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts before 1650. Joining him on this journey were his two sons, John and Nathaniel. I descend from Nathaniel. And since John Ball is just the recent name in a long list of immigrants to Massachusetts in that time period, I know just the places to go look for information on him and his descendants. I've managed to assemble six or eight printed references giving birth and death dates, names and birth dates of his children and their subsequent generations, and a few tidbits about the lives of several of them in a relatively short time.
Then I found a website that made me pause. I had a new dilemma on my hands and I'd need to figure out how to handle it.
What I found was the New England Ball Project, a online collection of information for all persons with the surname of Ball living in New England from 1630 to the present and to link them to their descendants. I wasn't interested in the site as proof for my family tree but it did include detailed listings of sources for the information it had included and I was clearly interested in those.
Most of the information on Nathaniel corresponded with what I'd found in historical books about Concord where he settled or about colonial Massachusetts or New England in general. It was the one single sentence that created the dilemma.
According to yDNA testing of descendants of this Nathaniel Ball of Concord and John Ball of Watertown, they were not related.
Science and history have collided and the twigs in my tree seem to be broken as a result.
Needless to say, this isn't the first time I've come across conflicting information. It is, however, the first time I've had DNA results play into my research, either supporting or negating the information I've found in records made at the time the individual lived or books published 100 or 150 years ago. DNA is the up and coming thing now that it's more readily available to the average person. I can't ignore that, especially since Ancestry.com sends me an promo for their product every few days. I'm anxious to read up on what those more experienced than I are saying about sourcing DNA tests and using them as proof of ancestry or, as in this case, proof of non-ancestry.
In the meantime, I've left John Ball in my tree but with a footnote that he may not be related. He might not be my 12th great grandfather but I'll continue to add the sources that say he is just in case. Who knows, someday we may know all our relatives via DNA instead of books. It would probably be quicker but I doubt it will be as interesting.