DNA holds the key to identifying my 3x great-grandfather. I continually watch webinars, and I’m grateful to have received a scholarship for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) DNA intensive in June. I have my uncle’s Y-DNA (currently waiting for the results of the Big Y upgrade), and atDNA from my great-aunt, who is two generations closer to the mystery man. I am quite sure the answer is hiding in my shared matches, and I just have to use the right analysis for the answer to become clear.
Mostly I have used DNA to confirm my document-based genealogy. The first time I used DNA to confirm a theory was with my great-grandfather, Billie Stevens’ mother‘s family. I had a marriage record for couple with the right names, albeit spelled differently than they were on Billie’s death certificate. I found a likely Reid family group in the FamilySearch tree that all was filled out with spouses except for daughter Mary, who was the right age to be my great-great grandmother. I was confident, and yet, there could have been another couple with the same names. Then, eureka! I found a cousin match who descended from Mary Reid’s sister. Since then, I’ve found several matches from that Reid family. One mystery solved.
More recently, I found a cousin match that leads back to a Chitty family that I had suspected was Mary’s husband William Stevens’ maternal family. I’m still not 100% sure, because we know how Southern families intermingle, and I’m still nervous that I could be missing another connection, but it seems very likely that this is correct.
What I’d really love to do is take a class in extracting DNA from objects. Things like my daddy’s old hat, or a postage stamp, or even a tooth (my daddy morbidly kept some of his teeth when he had them all pulled). I know there are companies that will do that now, but the pricing is out of reach for me.
I’ll close with my wish list for DNA matches:
- Use your biological birth surname, if you know it, on your profile.
- Attach your DNA to yourself in a family tree.
- Fill in as much of the family tree as you can; if your ancestor has died, be sure to include a death date OR simply check the box that they’re deceased, so their name will show up to your matches.
- Go to your profile page and fill in some information. 23andMe has a place to list surnames and locations. Write a short biography that tells where you are in your research. Include a link to your blog or family tree (if it’s not on the DNA website). Consider including some kind of contact information.
- Provide login information to a trusted family member, so if/when you pass on, someone can sign in and check messages and/or update your family tree. (I have told my husband, if I die before him, he is to go immediately to my FamilySearch profile and make me dead.)
- While you’re living, check your messages. I get email notifications from some of the companies, but for some reason MyHeritage won’t send me notifications. I’ve checked my settings, and I can’t figure out why. So, don’t assume you’ll be notified if there’s a message in your inbox. Then please respond. Maybe you don’t how you’re related to your match, but if they care enough to contact you, maybe you can help each other.
Those are sensible suggestions. How wonderful to get a scholarship to GRIP! Congratulations. Are you going to become a professional genealogist, or is this just for your personal research?
I’d love to be a forensic genetic genealogist. Even a volunteer one. At the very least, I’ll share what I learn with my local genealogical societies.