Friday, March 12, 2021

Gina's Journey - Part 3: A Genetic Clue at 23andMe

Genealogy Research
When presented with an NPE mystery, especially one tied to my personal DNA, it tends to gnaw at my brain! My internal Sherlock Holms kicks in and I just can’t let it go. As Gina was an adoptee, I surmised she had probably tested with several DNA companies in order to cast a wide search net. Maybe I could track her down in another data base and gather more genetic info about our cousin match.

A day after our last message exchange, I logged into 23andMe and scanned down the list of DNA matches. My hunch was correct – Gina’s name was half way down the first page. According to 23andMe we shared 1.09% of our DNA – probably in the range of third or fourth cousins.  I clicked on Gina’s profile and scrolled down the page to view our comparison. I then clicked “Find Relatives in Common”.

Immediately I recognized a surname in our list of shared matches, that of a third great-grandmother through my paternal grandmother’s ancestry. Aha! That is exactly the direction I had guessed when viewing Gina’s shared matches on AncestryDNA. There was a good possibility that Gina and I shared at least one ancestor from this particular surname lineage. If the match was accurate and we shared a third great-grandmother, our relationship would be 4th cousins. Although it was a fairly distant match, I could build a tree forward from the 3rd great-grandmother and see if it led to a potential candidate as birth father.

To be honest, I wasn’t relishing the task as it would mean compiling a family tree containing five generations and many possible males who could be Gina’s father. Although this was an option, I decided to wait for Gina’s response before tackling a major tree reconstruction. If I could study her DNA results in more detail, I was sure I could narrow the search to the past three generations of her paternal ancestry.

As I studied my 23andMe shared cousin matches with Gina, it became murky with endogamous surnames! Not only did we share a great-grandparent related to one of my paternal grandmother’s line, we shared surnames related to all four of my 2nd great-grandparents through the same grandmother! Yikes! And our DNA waters became even muddier as I spotted at least three other cousins who I knew were related to my paternal grandfather’s ancestry! Oh for goodness sake, endogamy was once again to blame for a genealogy mess.

Genealogy Research


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