Friday, January 16, 2015

DNA Successes for Genealogists

source: Will Lorton (public domain)
Genealogy and Genetics - Adoption to New Zealand
In 2014 the a3Genealogy team saw DNA requests increase by 175%. Well no wonder, using this vital tool, we have successfully knocked down brickwalls, proven and disproven kinships, helped to connect unknown military families and uncovered adoption secrets.

***All Names Have Been Changed, But Cases Are Real…
Kathy’s adoption was not a secret, but her biological parents were. Her biological mother was easily identified by analyzing ancestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA results. But, her biological father is still unknown. More research is needed and a more in-depth analysis of her DNA results will assist us identifying her biological father.  Kathy’s DNA revealed the shocking news that she is approximately 76% Jewish (Ashkenazi).

Solving A Military Case
Susie, from the South Pacific Islands waited over 70 years to finally connect with her half-brother and other relatives in the U.S.A.  Her birth father had a common name - as common as Bill Smith. But, by the time Susie moved away from her South Pacific birthplace and created her adult life in New Zealand, she had etched his name into memory. Her half-sister was not interested in bringing dad’s military secret into the fold, and declined a mitochondrial DNA(mtDNA) test to prove kinship. Yet, thanks to an autosomal DNA test and a Y-test from her half-brother, her birth father was verified. Plus, with military records we were able to pinpoint the man “with the common name” in the South Pacific at the time of conception.

What’s My "Real" Surname and What Did You Say?
Georgia Ann Davis loves dabbling in genealogy.  It’s a diversion from her intense medical practice and genetics has always intrigued her. So, no one was surprised when she asked her father for a cheek swab. But, she and her father were surprised at the results – it was a double whammy! His Y-DNA matched perfectly with the Ball surname; but not one of his 36 matches had his surname of Davis.

Who were the Ball’s? His closest match was an African American man of Irish descent. This African American DNA match was a descendent of an ex-slave who was emancipated in 1855, 10 years before the end of the Civil War. The ex-slave’s father was one of 8 Irish “Ball” brothers.

Several DNA samples for the Ball family were tested as well as Georgia Ann’s uncle and  several cousins. DNA suggests the African American Ball family and Georgia Ann’s father share the same 4th great-grandfather.  At least Georgia Ann and her father know the non-paternal event (NPE) did not occur with beloved Grandma!

But it’s Not all Good News
Carol didn't have much to go on, just a photo, a name, and a place. The a3Genealogy researchers were able to verify a specific timeframe placing the man in the photo in the right place and time. A military photo matched the one Carol had in her bedside drawer. Her father was a single serviceman at the time of her conception. He never knew Carol’s mother was pregnant. He married immediately upon discharge, before Carol turned one years old. He and his wife raised two very successful daughters.  But, both of Carol’s genealogy-proven half-sisters have refused to take a DNA tests. So, we wait for another cousin on that line to take the tests and give Carol a positive match.  

The good news is that DNA testing has become an American obsession, so chances are good that someone on Carol’s paternal side will take a test. We already have the family tree mapped out and her DNA tests are accepting matches. So we will wait patiently for the cousin, niece, nephew, etc. to take the test and match with Carol.

***All Names Have Been Changed, But Cases Are Real…

As we are embracing science to help verify, confirm and deny brick walls (and open new ones - like some of the surprises mentioned) we hope you share our love for DNA. We are learning more about this wonderful genealogical tool every day! 

Join us at DNA for Genealogists Flipboard for a magazine of articles. And, be sure to visit the various author's webpages and blog sites. 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers