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Armchair Genealogy

By Melinda Cohenour

DNA: Mysteries within Mysteries

      With all the modern-day miracles brought about by DNA testing, one would think one could SOLVE mysteries – not create new ones. My, oh my. A look into your author’s current research boondoggle – the frustrations and attempts to resolve.

      Our family learned recently of the existence of half-siblings to my son and daughter through the use of DNA testing. It has been a wondrous and thrilling experience to see the amazing imprint of genes and the incredible likeness shared by my daughter and the offspring of my first husband! This minor miracle resulted in a visit from Finland of the daughter sired by him while in Puerto Rico – a trip, basically, around the world. And, oh MY! The amazing likeness between my daughter’s pictures when the same age as her young half-sibling sister was shocking. The love between the sisters represents a strong bond that can only be explained by the sharing of those genetic chromosomes!

      The heritage they share, unfortunately, is a mystery because my first husband was adopted and, although, he always suspected as much, his adoptive mother never told him the truth nor did she tell his adopted younger sister the truth about her own parentage. She desperately wanted to have children. She gave them love and care, but she never gave them that valuable THING they would yearn for – the truth about their biological heritage.

      A similar situation existed for my son’s first wife. Her mother and father were separated a long time before their divorce became final. He moved in with the woman he would later wed. She dated, became intimate with a couple of her romantic interests and in that day before reliable birth control methodology, became pregnant with the beautiful young woman who would become the mother of my first grandchild, Adam. It was only when I inquired of Adam’s mom about her family that I learned she had been told, “The only certainty I have about your father is that he was NOT my husband.”

      Thus, a couple of years ago we tested Adam’s DNA in an attempt to solve the mystery of his biological heritage on that side of the family. Recently, we received what I believed to be the BIG CLUE that would resolve that mystery – a 2nd cousin match so positive the matching segments placed that likelihood exactly between the known second cousins, daughters of my full-blood siblings. Wow! We were so excited. About to solve a mystery we’d been researching for some years: either a match resulting from Adam’s grandfather’s biological family (my first husband’s birth parentage) OR one resulting from his own mother’s biological father’s line.

      You can only imagine the frustration when we discovered the Match had declined to link a tree to his DNA test. Thus, no information as to his birth date or location, parents, or anything else. Of course, your author immediately reached out with a message requesting communication so that we could explore the relationship. No response has been received in over a year. The DNA test results show: Possible range: 1st - 2nd cousins; Confidence: Extremely High Shared DNA: 526 cM across 16 segments

      As a comparison, the daughter of my eldest sister shows: Shared DNA: 567 cM across 30 segments and the daughter of my next elder sister shows: Shared DNA: 410 cM across 26 segments. One would believe this MUST relate to one of the mystery biological parents, since 2nd Cousins are related by virtue of sharing Great-Grandparents, as shown here:

Second Cousins. You and the child of your parent's cousin are second cousins. The two of you share at least one set of great-grandparents in common. Think of them as first cousins, since they are in the same generation as you, but with an added generation between yourselves and your linking ancestor.

      Adam’s great-grandparents on my side would be my parents since I am his paternal grandmother. Neither of my parents have ever been shown to have relatives with the given surname of this Mystery Match (Surname KAYE).

      Thus, your author utilized one of the helpful applications employed by Ancestry: the Shared DNA Match app. By clicking on this tab, all those whose DNA is shared by both my grandson and this Mystery Match Kaye, show up. By perusing the surnames appearing in the trees for each of these Matches, I was able to find at least one surname that appeared most often: LINT. Shortly, after this revelation, a message appeared from another researcher who had noted a DNA match between one of the profiles she is managing and my grandson Adam. She and I have exchanged a few messages since that time. She is a peer (in age) to me and also an avid researcher. She assures me Adam matches “all my Lint cousins” and is, therefore, kin to all the Lints in America.

      Great! Mystery nearing solution! Or, at least, one would believe that to be so. But, in genealogy as in life in general, nothing is ever that simple. Your author decided it would be prudent to also search her own DNA results to see of the LINT surname showed up. It did. But with absolutely no obvious link to any known relative. Thus, the Mystery within the Mystery. Is this Mystery Match Kaye related to grandson Adam only on his mother’s (maternal) line since none of the Lint DNA matches show up as a match to yours truly? I believe that to be so, even though a review of my most distant DNA matches turn up a handful of LINT relatives.

      This mystery is not one to be resolved today. Maybe not even tomorrow. There is a group that provides helpful suggestions for resolving these DNA match mysteries. A recent post by your author on that Facebook group page has not yet borne fruit, but I remain hopeful.

      Perhaps we will have an answer by next month’s publication. So, stay tuned and keep doing that Armchair Genealogy!

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