Break through! A cousin match sitting in queue since the beginning but unable to understand its significance without context, has yielded its secret. I built a tree based on this cousin match at 131 centimorgans across 5 DNA segments. His family hailed from Missouri some from the Hannibal area, which I admit is what drew my attention because I am a devout Twain hound. I was too focused on Hannibal and the newspaper connection to see what was right before my eyes. An English immigrant that connected to another tree I was working from my first cousin match.
I had built separate trees because my first cousin didn’t have a tree so I built one through my own research. The 3rd cousin, I didn’t know how he fit but I could see he share my first cousin, but how? The name Black was in both trees, but it’s a very common name. the Blacks in both trees seemed to originate in Durham, England. I found the parents for the first cousin’s Black ancestor, and low and behold it was the same in the 3rd cousin’s tree-BINGO we have a match. I had a bridge and I knew now I was on to a true path to biological connection. We shared these common ancestors, a couple from England who had at least two daughters immigrate to America.
These two young women were fairly easy to trace with their families. The only downside was that the trees were large. As I built I saw that other DNA matches began to fall into place within one of the young woman’s trees. She had settled in Southern Illinois with her husband and matched my first cousin match. I soon saw many of my 3rd and 4th cousin matches falling into the extended family tree. I solidly matched the Black’s from England but I also matched my first cousin’s other side of the family also. How could this be? She didn’t share enough DNA with me to be an Aunt and her daughter didn’t share enough DNA to be my first cousin.
I was only sleeping about 4 hours a night now. I had a paid subscription to Newspapers.com and I was cross referencing obituaries with names, filling in living relatives when possible. I even looked people up on Facebook to see if I could match them to the information I had. Did anyone look like me? So far, no. That meant little, I needed to follow the DNA evidence. I had built out the matches family tree back to her Grandparents with their siblilngs. I most likely shared these Grandparents with her somehow because I had other DNA matches that shared these same people. I traced obituaries and filled in all of the children’s names and traced their obituaries.
Twelve children, but I had quite a bit of difficulty tracking down one son. It looked like he passed away within a week of his wife and the obit was more than brief, it listed none of his children. UGH! I began looking for secondary sources for information of him. I searched all newspapers for any articles and began to come up with some information that I could piece together. Looking at census records I could come up with at least three daughters in the 1940 census. I cross referenced them with newspaper articles, bingo! I came up with wedding announcements. That gave me married names for daughters. None of the information matched my biological mother. I had to be looking at my biological father’s family.
A search brought up an obituary for one of the sisters. That’s where I found the name of a brother. The brother had to have been born after the 1940 census. I knew that my father was 21 when I was born. I searched his name in Ancestry records and a marriage record for South Bend, Indiana came up for the year that I was born. That put him in the area that I was born, near the time I was born. Who was this woman? She wasn’t my birthmother, she didn’t match her information. If this man was my biological father was he running around the countryside courting young women?
There were more questions than answers. How could I confirm or reject this person from my match list? I would need to put my DNA matches in my tree and see how I fit. The last thing I would want to do is contact someone that was not related. I had about 15 more matches to place before I would be confident enough to reach out to someone. Looming over it all is that constant fear of secondary rejection. Discarded once. I don’t want to be discarded twice.