Monday, 26 February 2018

Finding Paul... An unknown father case in New Zealand.

Read more about Keshama & John Oszajca's journey to find Paul on John's blog. John was my first client of 2018 and I was delighted to help him and Keshama solve this mystery once and for all.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

SOLVED: Scottish Foundling Case

In late June this year, I was contacted by a Canadian man, Neil Kilmartin, who was a DNA match at Ancestry to a woman here in Scotland named Linda. Neil was keen to figure out how he and Linda were related. Shortly after, I was in contact with Linda, who had quite a story to tell me.

Linda was adopted at about 4 months of age but, had quite a mysterious entrance into this world. Linda was found all alone in a shopping trolley in the East Kilbride Plaza car park just outside Glasgow in the spring of 1984. Linda was a just a newborn baby, only a few hours old and by the time she was found was suffering from hypothermia. She was then taken straight to Bellshill Maternity Hospital to be taken of. Appeals were made at that time for her mother or other family members to come forward in the local media. An unidentified woman claiming to be her mother did phone and asked if her baby was ok but, refused to give her details or come forward. Linda was later adopted and had always been curious about her biological family. 

Later in her adult life, she made a newspaper appeal hoping someone may come forward who may have information about her biological family yet, nobody came forward with any information.

After seeing an advertisement for Ancestry's DNA test, Linda hoped to maybe learn a bit more about her roots and looked forward to see what her ethnicity results may reveal. Little did she know, that those results would also match her to varying degrees of cousins!

Linda's match Neil Kilmartin was truly an adoptees "dream match". Not only was Neil her closest match (a 1st cousin 2x removed) but, he was an avid genealogist in his own right who was extremely knowledgeable about his father's Glasgow roots. He was also keen to help Linda find her family and had a good sense of humour to boot! We could also see that Neil and Linda shared another match in the Kilmartin family so, the task would be to start with weeding through Neil's and clearly Linda's large Irish Catholic Kilmartin family. Match Neil's father was the youngest child of 14 children.

Linda at this point had only about 54 4th cousins or closer at Ancestry and we were already running into many of the same problems we run into many cases, matches with little or no pedigree information. FTDNA nor GEDmatch yielded no closer relatives either.

My thinking at this point was that Linda was likely Neil's 1st cousin 2x removed, seeing Neil was 36 years older than Linda and also his father was the youngest of this large Kilmartin family. I began extending the pedigrees of the spouses of Neil's many aunts and uncles and we realised from this we had quite a bit to work through!

With Neil's help, we thought we could rule out a few of the aunts or uncles plus the ancestor of the shared match. With a few hints Neil came up with, we turned our attention to one of the families in particular.

Stretching the tree out, nothing was becoming apparent until I found a 4th cousin match of Linda's who had a familiar middle name. The middle name matched the surname of one of the Kilmartin families descendants wives.

This was enough of a clue to warrant a deep search into the Scottish National Archives website, Scotlandspeople. Here I managed to figure out the middle name of the matches grandfather was actually his surname and one generation back the family appearred to change their surname for an unknown reason. It was here I found a direct connection between the Kilmartin descendants and Linda's 4th cousin match. With no other Kilmartin children having had married into this family as well, I then moved to find another connection to this family. Two more were found but, fairly distant matches.

This information was sufficient to contact a living descendant to test. We were certain we found the immediate family of either Linda's mother or father.

Before we could even get the results back of what who we know now to be Linda's uncle, I had already highly suspected we found her mother's family.

Linda was reunited with her biological mother, her full sibling and also her biological father.

Linda's case was solved after 22 hours of research despite the small match pool of DNA testers for Scottish folk thus far. Very, very pleased she finally had some answers about her roots and has been reconnected with family! Special thanks to Neil Kilmartin as well for all of his input.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Hidden in Plain Sight - In the Census Returns.

Recently, I was asked to take on a case of solving the identity of a paternal grandmother for an adoptee. They previously found their paternal grandfather using YDNA results and a 2nd cousin match at Ancestry. After much research, he came to the conclusion that not only was he adopted but, that his birthfather must also have been adopted or otherwise "illegitimate" as there was no evidence found that the paternal grandfather ever had any children.

I began by studying all information available on the speculative paternal grandfather, where he lived, his occupations and his immediate family along with his extended family. I then set about isolating his paternal grandmother matches from his paternal grandfather matches and identifying the closest match groups to work with. I noticed that no where in the known maternal side nor the speculative paternal grandfathers lines was there any sign of French Canadian ancestry and there was several groups of shared matches who seemed to share that ancestry. Using this knowledge, along with separating out clusters of shared or common matches of those matches known to belong to the paternal grandfather, I identified several shared match groups to work with.

After a fruitless search through the 1st group I moved on to a 2nd group and very quickly found a common ancestor between that group. The male common ancestor was married twice and I quickly discovered that there was a lot of French Canadian ancestry in these lines. As information and records were lacking for the ancestry of the 1st wife, I decided to start investigating the descendants of both marriages. Luckily, there was not very many. In particular, I began to see that some of these descendants lived in the same town that the speculative paternal grandfather did during that same time period. As I drilled down another generation, these descendants too stayed in the same town. I noticed a surname I thought I remembered from a census return I looked at for the paternal grandfather earlier in my search. I also now discovered a handful of matches tying into this descendant's spousal lines.

I then went back to look at the 1940 census returns for the paternal grandfather we already knew about and the family I found using DNA and the methodology were actually listed on the same page of the census living only a few doors down from the paternal grandfather.

This really highlights how valuable census returns can be in your search and why it is advantageous to study the movements of any known family you might have when searching for your unknown parent.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Unknown Parentage, Genetic Genealogy & Endogamy

SOLVED: Michael had many good matches of whom I quickly found the common ancestor. Most of his matches descended from a Mormon man who had 7 wives, two of which were his stepdaughters as well as his wives and 23 children. Not only were we dealing with polygamy we were also dealing with endogamy which made Michael's case an interesting and challenging case to work on!

4 days later I had built a large tree (approx. 1000) based on Michael's matches and had found several more Mormon common ancestors who's trees I also built. At the end of day 4, I was certain I had found his birthmother after researching likely candidates after making several connections in his master tree I had built.

Unfortunately, his birthmother was deceased but, he made a great connection to an aunt who in turn tested to confirm that she was indeed his aunt.

Congratulations Michael!

Michael's case was a good example of when lots of good matches can many times mean UH OH. Endogamy can be a reason for many matches which can make a case tough to solve as the "numbers" and relationship estimates we make from the numbers can be quite skewed. Often times you may run into a common ancestor who was married more than once, this is where your more distant matches come into play. You need to scour those match lists to find more distant matches that tie into the correct spouses ancestral lines.