Once again this year I’m doing Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This year she is offering a once monthly option as well so when I get too busy to post once a week, I’ll revert to once a month and hopefully that will at least keep me writing. This week’s theme is ‘foundations’. When I was thinking about types of foundations I already had in mind that I wanted to do another DNA blog post and so what better ‘foundation’ to write about than the very foundation of human life? Today’s DNA post will relate to my SEELY family since they are my annual focus this year.

My SEELY family member nearest in relation to me is my 2nd great grandmother, Mary SEELY who was married to George Columbus BATES. I’ve written about them in a number of posts on this blog if you’d like to go back and get some background information. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that for a few years I’ve been trying to figure out a way to utilize my DNA to create a more complete genealogy. I wasn’t willing to pay for classes or videos so everything I’ve learned has been trial-and-error or free information so it’s taken me a while to get it figured out. Today I want to talk about what I’ve discovered that works.

Modified Triangulation

What seems to be working for me right now is a modified triangulation of sorts.

SEELY family tree – screenshot from

So for instance, in order to see if my SEELY DNA lined up with my family tree as it looks right now, I took the surnames SEELY, BRINKER, SHELLY, and RIDGWAY and searched my DNA matches for people with those surnames in their family trees. I chose those 4 surnames because on the SEELY line I’m certain of my family tree up through Charles George SEELY. I felt my best next move would be to take the surnames of Charles’ 4 grandparents and see if those names were prevalent in my DNA matches’ trees as well (a modified triangulation technique).


I am confident I’m on the right track on the SEELY line. My family tree lines up really well with information in my DNA matches’ family trees. Understand though – the fact that my tree matches up with other trees does NOT mean any of us have it right. It’s just a clue that I probably am fairly accurate on that line but I’ll need records to back that up and prove it. DNA is just one more clue pointing me in a certain direction. Out of 5 DNA trees with the name spelled ‘SEELY’, I matched 3. One matched to Mary SEELY’s parents; one matched to Mary SEELY’s great-grandparents (John SEELY and Katherine BRINKER), and one matched at 3 generations past John and Katherine – my 8th great-grandparents named Jonas SEELY and Mary WICKS or WEEKES. In regard to common alternate spellings, I had 3 hits (out of 15 DNA matches) with the spelling of ‘SEELEY’. One matched to Jonas and Mary (see couple above) and two matched to my 9th great-grandparents, Jonas SEELY and Mary ANGELL. Of the DNA matches where I couldn’t make a SEELY connection, some didn’t have family trees, some trees didn’t go very far back in time so I wasn’t able to find a connection, and then I’m sure there were others where SEELY wasn’t the line we matched on so I wasn’t able to find a connection on that line. Overall, I am more confident now that my SEELY line is pretty accurate. I just need to make sure my documentation is accurate and organized.

Charles SEELY minister credentials.


The second surname I listed was BRINKER. I feel confident I have the correct BRINKER line right now. The DNA seems to back that up. Utilizing both the spelling of the surname my nearest BRINKER relative used (Katherine, my 5th great grandmother) as well as the older alternate spelling of BRUNGGER, I found a total of 12 matches with these surnames in their tree. Of those, I could find the BRINKER/BRUNGGER connection in two of those trees but I found clues in most of the others that leads me to believe that once I know more about the family I’ll be able to connect the remaining 10 matches (or most of them). One DNA match connects to me at my 5th great grandparents, John SEELY and Katherine BRINKER. The other is a double connection matching to my dad’s HUTCHISON family (starting with his 3rd great-grandmother, Lucretia) and to my mom’s family on her BRINKER line.

John and Katherine (BRINKER) SEELY’s home in Ralls County, Missouri. This home was restored by John BARAGIOLA (a descendant) and you can find videos on YouTube. I’ll post one below so you can find them.

Here is the first of many videos of John BARAGIOLA’s restoration of the SEELY-BRINKER log cabin. You can find more on his YouTube channel. John’s a great guy. When you watch his videos please like the videos and subscribe to his channel as this helps his status on YouTube.

John BARAGIOLA’s SEELY-BRINKER log cabin restoration video.


The third surname I listed was SHELLY. My SHELLY line is one that I wasn’t as confident about when I started this project. I am still not completely comfortable about the line as it is right now. I found a total of 14 matches on the various surname spellings. Out of 14, I could verify only one and he matched to my 7th great grandparents, Johan “Hans” Michael SHEELY and his wife Elizabeth. Johan and Elizabeth were the great-grandparents of Elizabeth SHELLY, my closest SHELLY relative (and my 4th great grandmother).

George SEELY and Betsy SHELLY marriage certificate, Marriage took place 17 February 1814 at St. Charles County, Missouri.


The final surname I researched was RIDGEWAY – a family line I was not well-versed on and didn’t have worked out past my nearest RIDGEWAY relative (my 5th great-grandmother Mary Ann “Nancy” RIDGEWAY). Seven DNA matches were also researching this surname and I was not able to connect to any of them because their RIDGEWAYs were so far back in time compared to mine (and also, some didn’t have family trees at all). So, I didn’t make much headway on this line and information on is conflicting. Figuring out this line will take considerably more research and documentation and I may find out I’m on the wrong trail altogether. I also have to consider that, due to the way DNA recombines in each individual, it’s possible I just didn’t receive any RIDGEWAY DNA and that’s why it doesn’t show up.

To Sum It Up

Just to clarify, I’ve used this technique on my ‘brick wall’ lines with much greater success in the past so keep that in mind when reading this blog post. I do plan to continue using this modified triangulation technique in the future, especially on brick wall lines where I feel I’ve made all the progress I can with conventional research methods. Please keep in mind that DNA is just a CLUE that points you in a certain direction. You still have to do the traditional research to ensure you have correct information. Having said that, I felt I had less success on these particular lines using the modified triangulation. I was able to come to a point where I feel confident about my SEELY and BRINKER lines. I am less confident that my SHELLY line is correct and am moving my RIDGEWAY line over to ‘brick wall’ status as there is conflicting information on Ancestry and it isn’t matching up to my DNA either. That doesn’t mean it’s definitely wrong, it just isn’t looking good right now. This is definitely a line I need paper documentation and research time on.

I hope you have a chance to try out this modified triangulation technique for yourself. Possibly someone else has already done this and I’m just late to the game because I’m unwilling to pay to learn what to do. That’s fine. This is what I’ve come up with that works for me and I’m sharing it freely with you. I hope you have time to use it and you have great success with it. If you do use it and make some discoveries, I’d love to hear about it in comments!

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

P.S.- I’ve changed the website again to try and make it more user friendly. Hopefully I’ve accomplished that. In the process, you may have been accidentally unsubscribed from my blog. I’m sorry about that. If you enjoy the blog, please re-subscribe and keep reading! I hope your weekend is fabulous and you make many wonderful genealogical discoveries – or at least make a great memory or two!

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