I've confirmed many branches of my family tree by finding a genetic cousin with whom I could find a common ancestor. The Simpsons, Berlinguets, Coumbs, Hethcots, Dakus, Shillitos, Woods, Nicholsons, Fergusons, Harpers, and Nortons have all been confirmed through the wonderful technology of DNA relative matching..
While there are still many branches to confirm, one family in particular has given me worry. The descendants of Joseph Henry Davis, who emigrated from Wexford, Ireland to Hastings County, Ontario are a large family, fond of genealogy and big family reunions, yet I had not found a single genetic match among them. I knew that my great grandfather, Charlie Davis, had passed down his Berlinguet DNA to me but where was my Davis DNA?
Davis is a patronymic, meaning son of David. Several hundred years ago, when people in Wales and England were adopting surnames, many unrelated families chose the Davis surname. These families then went on to do very well, especially those that emigrated to the Americas. They did so well that Davis is now the 6th most common surname in the United States.
Consequently, every time I pursued a genetic match with someone who said they had the Davis surname in their family tree, I quickly discovered that their Davis's were completely unrelated to my Davis family. Sigh.
However, finally, I've found someone with the right sort of Davis in her family tree. Among my autosomal matches on the Family Tree DNA site, I discovered a woman named Shari, who said that she had the Davis surname in her ancestry. After emailing her, I discovered that her great grandmother was Debbie Ann Davis from Maynooth in Hastings County, Ontario. Happily, Debbie Ann is also in my family tree as the first cousin to Charlie Davis.
Shari and I are 4th cousins. Our most recent common ancestors are Joseph Henry Davis and Sarah Bolton, the progenitors of the prodigious Hasting's Davis clan.
My next challenge is to confirm my great-grandmother Emily Campbell's ancestry through DNA. Alas, like the Davis surname, Campbells are everywhere. This may take a while.