Friday, July 14, 2017

A Genealogy Success Story

This post was written by SCHS member Carol Clemens published in the Heritage Observer

My husband and I recently did DNA testing through Ancestry’s service. When the results were completed, I noticed a “first cousin match” in the results, on my husband’s side. Thinking it was probably one of the “known cousins” and being busy, I did not contact the person immediately. Shortly after, I received a message through Ancestry from the person, and found she was NOT one of the cousins I knew about.

Here is part of her message:

I was actually adopted. I found my birth mother's family several years ago and all I know about my father’s side is that he was a policeman with the Downey Police Department. I'm trying to figure out his name due to the fact that by the time I found my birth mother she was deceased, and my siblings, through her, do not remember his name. They have asked the older family members but no one can remember his name. Maybe this story rings a bell for someone in your family. I hope I'm not opening a can of worms that is, or was, a secret for your family. If you have any information, please let me know. I don't need to meet anyone, I just want to get some family medical history and have names for my children's family trees.

The clue was the fact that her father was a Downey, CA police officer. My husband’s Uncle Walt was a police officer in California and later an Alaskan State trooper. I had documentation of his residence in Downey for the correct time span. Piecing together my research, her limited knowledge, and DNA, we have no doubt that she is indeed the daughter of Uncle Walt. 

I have added her info to the family tree and shared it with her. From knowing nothing other than the occupation of her father and his residence, she now has family history going back to 1801 in Norway. She has the colorful story of her Grandfather “jumping ship” in New York harbor in 1923 and his purchase of “immigration papers” for $50 that he believed made him a US citizen. She now knows about her half-brothers and sisters and has photos of many of her Norwegian ancestors.
My husband’s mother recently passed away and we held a Celebration of Life Service in her hometown in upstate New York. Our “new” cousin and one of her daughters made the trip from the West Coast to join us in celebrating the life of the aunt she never knew.  She was so excited to meet the family she never knew about.  She was welcomed with open arms….and went home with not only new memories, but photos and even a quilt made by her late aunt.

I am delighted that I could play a part in this wonderful success story. It would not have been possible without both careful, documented research and the benefits of science through DNA testing.

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