Genealogical Patterns – Are They Meaningful?

02/02/2020

Happy Palindrome Day!  Happy Ground Hog Day!  Happy Candlemas Day!  Happy Midway between Winter and Spring Day!  Happy 33rd Day of the New Year with 333 Days to Go!  Happy Superbowl Sunday!

Probably like you, most of those designations of today I don’t intend to celebrate but they are fascinating to me that someone, somewhere noticed a pattern. I bet you’ve noticed patterns in your genealogy research, too.  

When discovering information about a newly discovered relative I’m always struck by the significance of a date I find.  Hmm, I think, that person married on my birthday.  Wow, that ancestor was born on my anniversary.  Seems like such a weird coincidence but mathematically, it’s not.

Think about this – there are usually 365 days in a year (except for the few years like this one which is a Leap Year).  If you’re comparing days of similarities between a newly found ancestor and your own vital dates, you’re actually increasing the odds.  Think of it this way, you’re comparing your birthday and marriage to someone else’s birthday, marriage and death date.  When I think about adding in dates for my close family, such as my spouse, children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, it’s not a coincidence at all that dates are shared.  

If you’ve noticed this phenomenon and want to do the math yourself, check out this statistic site:  Same Birthday Odds.

I wish I had time, however, to actually compute seasonal births and deaths in my direct lines.  Although I could be wrong, it seems like there are more births in the spring/summer and more deaths in the fall/winter.  My mom was the first to make me aware of this family trend when my grandfather died in October 1970.  I asked her why that occurred and she said she didn’t know but had drawn that conclusion based on her grandparents’ deaths in winter and knowing she attended more funerals during those seasons.  I guess that stuck with me and as I’ve tabulated vital data for my family I see what she means.  Both my parents died in the fall; most of my grandparents and great grandparents did, too.  Only my paternal grandfather (August) and maternal grandmother (June) didn’t follow the death pattern.  

Then I came across a study that looked at data from a developing country and found that the trend was true. Then I found another to support the first study but a different one showed variations by country.  I also found an interesting study that showed, in the U.S., people who were born in the fall had a significant increase in living longer than those born in the first half of the year.  Who knew?!

Since the next palindrome day won’t occur for 101 years (12/12/2121) I’ve decided I’m putting aside my genealogical research on this sunny cold day and savoring the moment!  Looking backwards can wait another day. 

Unexpected Results of Having My DNA Done


Just read a wonderful article from NPR on dealing with DNA’s unexpected results that I highly recommend – read it here.

I’m still receiving emails from my matches. Yesterday I got an email at 10 AM from a descendant of Samuel Samuelson and as I was responding, I got another email from a descendant of Samuel’s wife, Maria Swanson. I happily connected the two folks who kindly responded to my initial query. I just love those kinds of coincidences! Think about this, both send me a response within minutes of each other and after 150+ years, reconnect. Very weird!

What was even more awesome was that one of the emailers mentioned that his 100+ year old great aunt is still alive. I strongly urged that they share the info I sent. Hopefully, the photo of that woman’s grandfather will spark some memory that can be recorded before it’s too late. That was certainly an unexpected result of having my DNA done. I never thought I’d find someone who was still alive who had personal knowledge of those living in the 1800’s.

Here’s another result that I never anticipated – I’ve connected with a great grandson of one of my husband’s aunts who didn’t know his great grandmother. We have wonderful memories from when we were teens of this lovely lady and I shared via email some of the kind things she did. I’m sure he’ll pass the information to his own children someday and I just love that the connection will go forward. Happy Hunting!