Bannister World is growing. There are now over 14,600 relatives filling the branches of the Jerry Banister or Bannister Family Tree. Hundreds of them are marked with a special”DNA Match” stamp, indicating my connection through Ancestry or 23andMe. I continue to look for patterns that prove my ties to the Banister or Bannister family. My birth mother’s last name was Banister, but my adoption paperwork consistently used the double “n” Bannister spelling. This is mysterious to me, although throughout history the two are intertwined. Right now, there are 504 Banisters and 301 Bannisters, with some unavoidable duplication. 

My most recent project has been to find (CE) Caroline Erley, a new addition to my list of 2nd cousins on 23andMe. Her name just popped-up to #4 between (JM) Janine Marthai and (DV) Debra Vaughn, both with close Banister ties. I also still can’t yet find my #1 match with Joyce Gourley despite hours of research with obituaries and Facebook stalking. Joyce was adopted like me, but born as Nancy as I was Jerry Lee, so her genetic history is disguised. On the productive side, I did determine that CE was originally a Bannister and uses the hyphenated Bannister-Erley moniker. I know she’s related to Ruth Bannister, but the only Ruth (Ruth Jean Burkman Bannister) on my tree died 9 years ago, so it’s unlikely she’s still active on Facebook. I will continue to work on this mystery and seek some help from Deb and Janine. 

I’ve uncovered most of my DNA matches up to the level of 4th cousin, although like Caroline there are new test subjects every day. If the results are through, it’s relatively easy to compare them through my tree. However, 23andMe relatives are much more difficult to track. It’s a matter of looking for the same name on Facebook (FB) and in some cases the same picture. Most of my connections tend to be through Indiana and Illinois, so this narrows down the search geographically. In some instances, the FB page shows their relationship with corresponding friends, listing them as husband, wife, brother, sister, grandchild, etc. Photo comments also provide hints of kinship. It’s a process that requires a lot of patience and elements of privacy invasion. I wish there was an easier way, but without an obituary it’s hard to distinguish between all of these strangers. There’s a lot of work yet to do in Bannister World.