Saturday, March 21, 2020

#62 - DNA and a Famly Tree rejoin a daughter with a father

DNA & a Family Tree solve another Mystery
The popularity of DNA testing has risen and fallen off  (despite the fact that there is still an awful lot to learn, as well as more to unearth scientifically.)  But here's the thing. It's pretty useless without a way to connect you to other people. Which is why I always BEG people to build a family tree then to link their DNA results to that.
Like most people, when I tied together my family tree along with my DNA results, I get a lot of 4th cousins Also a hefty number of 2nd cousins. 
 And Then Came the Day It Was All Worth It
Then there was that day: the day I went on my DNA and found a new relation. I went over to my father's test results. The new relation was at the "1st cousin" level to him, that is quite close! 
In the past, I was the lucky recipient of DNA & a tree helping to break my brick wall, but in this one case my tree combined with DNA and some old school hacks helped another person thousands of miles away.
Solving the Mystery of the DNA Match

Let me jump back in time: 
In 1960 my parents scraped together some cash and we made a traditional American Trip. That is,  a cross country summer vacation.Our route took us from upstate New York, through Ohio, the "i" states, Nebraska, KS, New Mexico,

Dad fixes a flat tire in New Mexico
and into Texas. Because we were so far west we stopped in at the only relative of my father's who had left the Northeast:
my paternal grandmother's brother (my father's uncle) & his wife. From there to the Air Force base in Wichita Falls, TX where my grandparents were briefly.
Denver yielded the glories of the mountains, a great trip up Pike's Peak. And we camped out at my father's uncle & his wife's house. We ate duck for dinner.
I remember Uncle Dick (not surprisingly) smoked and looked and sounded like my great uncles in New York City. Aunt Mae served us roast goose. Mmmm...
Oh, did I mention above, that it was 5 years ago that I had stumbled across my father's 1st cousin's DNA online? 
At the time, I sent a message to the owner of the DNA mentioning that he/she was a cousin of my father. Not knowing what else to say, I asked what state he/she was in.
The woman got back to me saying that her father was from the Midwest, and her mother was Mexican. She had no links to the East.

~Leaving it be
I let it drop there because I sensed either she was either busy, or not interested in learning more. 
~4 Years Later:
I got on Ancestry and found a message from the woman asking when were we in Colorado. (The DNA relationship verified that my dad was not her father).
However, my Uncle Dick had lived there for decades. He and his wife had had no children.
~A Month Passed
She told me that she found out she was adopted; I asked about the adoption records, were they unsealed?
Yes, she told me she knew her mother’s name. But, frustratingly, the father’s name was illegible
~DNA isn't Sufficient--You need Action
I got into Ancestry's database and pulled up the City Directory. I wrote down my Uncle Dicks occupation.
I pulled up a scanned photo of Dick & put it in a folder on my desktop (I scan all the photos I can--beginning with the oldest)
* Don't Throw Away That Address Book!
Next, before I emailed her back,  called my 92 year old mother. 
“Mom, can you give me Uncle Dick's  address from your Christmas card address book?” 
After a bit of rummaging around, she found it, read it off as I copied it down. 
 Circling Back

When I responded to the woman's message I had 3 valuable things to fill out the story:
1- a photo of Uncle Dick as a young man 
2 -Uncle Dick's occupation: He was a parole officer
Her bio father
3 -His exact address in 1960. 
 ~Shock and Reassurance
The adoptee wrote back both shocked and reassured.
1 - Shocked at the resemblance between her son and her bio dad (my great uncle).
2 - She had grown up right around the corner from my great uncle (her dad). To go anywhere by car, he had to pass the house she grew up in. She felt reassured that she grew up with two fathers to keep an eye on her.
3- Once she saw her biological father was a parole officer, she understood how it was that her birth certificate had been tampered with. You see, her adoptive father was the chief of police...

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