Genetic Genealogy: Proving the paper trail

All my readers know genealogy has been a passion of mine for many years now. I’ve even written a book about my father’s side of the family (yes, Mom, your book is coming!). The advent of genetic genealogy has revolutionized the hobby and opened up secrets long kept in some families.

I have been using my DNA genealogy to try and confirm my long-established paper trails. My goal is to connect to all 8 of my great-grandparents. One more great-grandparent and I will have all 8. I also already have DNA matches that support 12 of my 16 great-great-grandparents.

My father’s side turned out to be laughably easy. Matches to him abounded, and in what seemed like no time at all I had matched through all 4 of his grandparents.

Then there was my mother. Her Scottish lines popped up rather quickly, but her Irish side…nothing. This was understandable, but frustrating just the same. You see, in order to really get anything out of DNA genealogy, you also need paper genealogy. You need names, places, dates, so you and the people you match with can figure out where your connection is. Scottish records are abundant. Irish records literally went up in flames, making anything much past the late 1800s almost nonexistent. Yet many of our DNA connections occur past the point where records exist, leaving us wondering how and who we connect to.

I had a specific group of matches who all matched each other—called Shared Matches. There were 6 of them: JW, BN, ME, FR, SC, and KN. I sent messages to all of them, and waited. I finally got an answer from JW—and we were able to find our link! Not only that, but it turns out JW was the first known connection to my mom’s Irish Hayden side. Yay!

So now I knew the other 5 must be on the same line, since we all matched each other. But none of them had trees posted, so once again I was stumped. I sent another message saying I believed they were on the Hayden-Bergin branch of my tree. And I waited. Just a few days ago, BN messaged me back! Not only did she know how WE were related, but she had personally known JW when they were kids, AND she knew how the remaining 4 testers were related to us. Whew! A ton of information in one fell swoop.

So now I know for certain that my mother’s mom was not an alien from outer space. Well, I know that at least half of her is human, LOL. I am still searching for that elusive Irish Sutton-Gorman line.

Perseverance and patience will bring answers, I am sure. Meanwhile, I will keep on with my paper genealogy as well, to expand my tree and make future connections easier to find.

What passion do you pursue when you step away from writing?

Comments

  1. I would love to get this information for my own family, at least for a few levels. A few people have tried and hit the wall; it takes a commitment to pursue this!

    • Kerry Gans says:

      It does take commitment–and learning the tricks of the trade! For most of us, it has become something of an obsession, so we don’t mind spending the time. 🙂

  2. Fascinating. And I LOVE the title for this post!

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