I’ve uncovered a lot of insane facts about our family since I began my genealogy journey a little over five years ago. I’ve found out information that the dead would rather have remained buried with them. I’ve discovered shameful family secrets and evidence of illegal crimes. I’ve uncovered drama of all sorts, and read through dozens of first hand testimonials about individual members of my tree.
This story trumps them all.
I have NOT done the Ancestry DNA testing kit. The reason for that is simply funds. Between my husband and I putting a roof over our heads (quite literally replacing the roof) and putting in brand new windows, we don’t have the extra money kicking around right now. You bet the moment I have enough money to spend though I’m going to get the test done!
Another reason I haven’t done it is because I was given a lot of information prior to really digging into my family history. I was given stories, birthday cards, first hand written accounts of their lives, photographs and so much more. I had names, birth dates, death dates, marriage dates, divorce dates and so many more hints to go on. I was very fortunate to be able to plug in a few names and see the results come rolling in. For some people though, it’s not that simple.
Through Ancestry, I’ve met people from all over the world who I refer to as “contacts.” My contacts are scattered all over the world. They’re spread across Canada, the United States, South America, Europe and even as far as Australia and New Zealand. I speak with my contacts once in a while and we share any new information we’ve discovered.
One day my contact in Washington emailed me out of the blue asking if I’d done the DNA test yet. We had discussed me getting it done in the past to see if this would unlock other hints to our tree. When I answered her no, and posed the question of why, she mentioned that someone had contacted her with their results of the testing and they had common ancestors. This person was tied to our mutual ancestor, a third great grandmother who mothered the line I was descended from, along with the older sister of my ancestor who my contact in Washington was descended from.
Turns out this new person who put in the request was looking for her mother’s adoptive family. Besides the DNA, she was only given a few clues as to who her parents were. One of these clues was her full legal name at birth, another was where she was born and put up for adoption and finally her date of birth. That’s it. Other details rolled out afterward but we will get to that in a minute. My contact in Washington asked if she could put this girl in touch with me since I knew more about this specific line, and she felt like I could help her. I of course agreed.
After speaking through email (then quickly switching to Facebook), I was able to build a suspicion of who her biological grandparents were based on a simple process of elimination. She shared DNA with my Washington contact, which meant she had DNA from this third great grandmother of ours. The girl then also mentions DNA from another family I’m very familiar with. This family’s daughter actually married into the line of the third great grandmother which gives me a pool of suspects now. Together my second great grandfather G and second great grandmother M birthed seven children. Again by simple process of elimination, I was able to narrow the pool of suspects to five children. One of the seven died in infancy, and the other was mentally disabled and was not able to father children.
This left two brothers and three sisters, one being my grandmother. This is when I asked the new girl what information she knew about her mother’s birth. She told me she was born in the mid fifties, she was born in Toronto and her birth name. When I saw her last name at birth I was floored. It was the name of a woman I had seen on my tree and then I knew who her biological grandparents were.
This raised a ton of questions. Why did they give her up? The story the girl was told was that her biological grandparents died in a car crash which was untrue. Her adoptive parents later confessed that she was the product of an affair between a married man and his mistress. Both the suspected biological grandfather and biological grandmother would’ve been married to other people when the adopted girl was born which would’ve been shameful for the families involved.
Now it was about proving it. Together the adopted granddaughter and I began searching for her mother’s biological siblings. Since she was the product of two families, she would have seven half siblings: three from her dad and four from her mom. We soon traced two siblings: one from her biological mom and one from her biological dad.
Unfortunately this story is still ongoing. The contacts we discovered want nothing to do with either of us, and there are no other leads. My plan is to ask for the DNA test as a Christmas gift and confirm once and for all that we are cousins. I’ll update this post once I take the test and see the results. Have you discovered anything crazy when researching your family history?