Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Uncovering my biological grandfather

I have written about my mother’s illegitimate birth back in July of 2013 in the previous post titled My Mother’s Secret.

I have been using DNA testing in the hopes of finding my biological maternal grandfather. Having half-siblings has made uncovering my grandfather a little easier since matches between me and my half-siblings must be my mother’s side. My mother was left a young widow with 6 children. She remarried and I am the youngest from the second husband. Thus I have tested two of my half siblings, one full sister along with my test has aided in figuring out who my biological grandfather is.

Along this journey, I have found some clues in my matches. In August of 2016 I wrote about some of my common matches in a post titled DNA Matches.

Of the common ancestors, my closest possible ancestors appeared to be the possibility that my 3rd great-grandparents are Peter Pedelty and Mary Alderson. I theorized that one of their great-grandsons was a good candidate for being my maternal grandfather. Thus, this started my journey of researching the descendants of Peter and Mary.

It wasn’t until two key relatives finally did their DNA test and they showed up in my matches. Actually they showed up better in my half-brother matches as his 2nd cousin matches. 

The first match, we will call Hiltz based on my grandmother’s maiden name was a known cousin of my mother through her mother. It’s wonderful to have a known close relative who tested. 

The other match, we will call Pedelty was an unknown cousin that appeared to be through my maternal grandfather’s side of the family, her tree left off where my Pedelty tree began.

I have been reading that 2nd cousins who share a common ancestor should match each other. I ran the “shared matches” option through AncestryDNA and they did not match each other. They did match each of my siblings and thus I knew this had to be a match on my mother’s side. I also noticed that the Hiltz match was matching my Hiltz relatives while the Pedelty match was matching some of Peter and Mary’s descendants along with some new matches. Again, since I knew the one match was my maternal grandmother’s side, the other match only left my maternal grandfather’s side. Along with the tree that left off where my Pedelty tree began, I started to look at the man that was her great grandfather. 

I also noticed that the Pedelty match, in-spite of being in the same category as the Hiltz match, Pedelty has about 1/2 of the shared centimorgans and DNA segments. Plus my Family Tree Maker genealogy program shows my Hiltz match as 1st Cousin 1x removed while my Pedelty match as Half 1st Cousin because she descends from the possible half sister of my mother. Which would explain the difference in centimorgans and DNA segments. 

For my theory to be valid, I needed to look at the parents of this man. His mother descends from Peter and Mary and thus I looked at his father, John Tyler. John’s parent’s George and Sarah had at least 10 children. One of their daughters, Mary Margaret married a man named George Platts. I have several of their descendants on my shared DNA matches list. They also match my Pedelty match.

Thus my breakthrough was only possible because of two cousins, all on their own, without knowing that I have been waiting for this day, decided to have their DNA tested at AncestryDNA. I look forward to sharing this wonderful discovering with my siblings and we can finally put a rest on who is the man who fathered my mother. 

Please note: I have kept the name of my grandfather off this post because I am unsure how much if any information his descendants know of the illegitimate birth of my mother. Since I only discovered this about 5 years ago, I can only surmise that they too have no knowledge of this information. He is in my tree that is attached to my DNA test and I guess I will let the discovery come out slowly.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Double 4th Cousins

It's not often for me anyway, that I find a double 4th Cousin. I received an email from the sister-in-law of my fourth cousin. 

I have corresponded with this sister-in-law in the past and we have shared a wealth of information. So I had her in my database, so I could easy see how I know her. Today she told me her 2nd great grandmother is the sister of my 3rd great grandfather. Why did I only find this out today. We have been in contact with each other, on and off for over 15 years while doing our research. But today I find this revelation. Strange thing, I had her 2nd great grandmother in my tree, not tied to my 3rd great grandfather and not tied to the sister-in-law. 

So I was looking at who I originally had in my tree, Ms Julie and she is my double fourth cousin. Looking at my line I see it is through my paternal grandparents. Each one can trace themselves back to Julie. Or should I really say, it's my genealogy software program that did all the heavy lifting on this one. 

The point of this blog post, to praise genealogy software programs that reside on our personal computers. No where on Ancestry does it give me this double relationship. Ancestry does show me that she is my 4th cousin, but how?

I know so many people who only have their tree on web based sites like Ancestry and I think how much they are missing. I find when I look at data in a different way, things start to pop out. Or perhaps it directs me to my next research project. 

Food for thought, with DNA, it makes me realize that if Julie and I were to look at our shared matches, it could be either set of shared Ancestors. Not so cut and dry anymore. 

To all the people who want to know why they should have a genealogy software program that resides on their personal computers, because they are more powerful than any web based application. Before programs came with syncing, I would upload my GEDCOM to one or more of these web based sites as cousin bait. Now I use Family Tree Maker and the sync function to keep my cousin bait up to date with the latest and greatest finds and additions, like Julie's sister-in-law is more than the sister-in-law of my fourth cousin, she is my 4th cousin 1x removed.  Julie and her sister-in-law are related to me through my grandmother's parents. Julie through my grandmother's mother's side and her sister-in-law through my grandmother's father's side. Therefore, Julie and her husband don't share DNA (that I know of anyway).