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DNA Success Stories How DNA helped solve a family brick wall. We encourage you to publish your story here. This board is open to customers and visitors.

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Old 27th March 2015, 03:18 PM
dhorner dhorner is offline
FTDNA Customer
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 43
40 year old wall finally comes tumbling down

I started doing family history research in the days before the internet, when phone calls, snail mail and long drives to the the National Archives satellites to use microfilm readers were about all the tools we had. A main branch of my family tree ended at my paternal grandfather, Floyd. I never knew who my great grandfather was, and those who did weren't talking. No amount of cajoling could loosen their lips. People who held more sway than I, my father, for example, didn't seem to share my desire to know. The only information I had was a last name - Caron, and even then I didn't know the correct spelling. Over the years I had little success with Floyd's line, and I focused my attention on extending lines that weren't such a deep, dark secret.

With the advent of the internet and sites such as Ancestry.com, the availability of records and research tools became much easier, and the dots connecting Floyd to his father, and his father's family, started appearing. Census records showed a family named Caron living close to Floyd's mother's family around the time of his birth, and I finally felt I'd found the key to my paternal line. But I still had no way of confirming the oral history of Floyd's family, so I threw myself in researching the family of the man I suspected was Floyd's father. Over time, I accumulated a significant amount of Caron family history, which I hoped was not in vain. I began finding the names of living descendants of the Caron family. I eventually contacted some of those descendants, and all were willing to help, and were also excited by the amount of research I had done on their family. But still I could not find the link.

FamilyTreeDNA finally provided that link. I had discussed my research over the years with my uncle, my father's brother, and Floyd's last living son, and mentioned I had submitted a DNA sample to FamilyTreeDNA. I asked if he would be willing to submit one, also, and was somewhat surprised when he said yes. Recently, I finally drummed up the courage to ask a Caron relative if he would be willing to submit his DNA as well. I'm not sure how I would have reacted to a complete stranger, knowing more about my family than I did , asking if I would submit a DNA sample. I was elated when he said yes. Early this week, I received his results. To my amazement and delight, the results confirmed the suspected relationship with my uncle and connected all the dots between Floyd and his father. Well, almost all. I still haven't definitively connected Floyd to the one individual that was his father, but I have narrowed it down to one of two brothers. That has allowed my to push my research into the past with confidence. I'm still looking for relatives that can help me pinpoint the brother that is my great grandfather, and I feel confident that one day I will. For now, however, I'm satisfied with finding new family members and pushing the reaches of that family - MY family - further into the past.

Thanks, FamilyTreeDNA, for helping me make that possible.
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Old 27th March 2015, 05:03 PM
LynCra LynCra is offline
FTDNA Customer
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 523
Congratulations. Always good to hear about a success story.
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Old 28th March 2015, 02:10 AM
ragnar ragnar is offline
FTDNA Customer
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 379
Wonderful story!
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Old 28th March 2015, 03:02 PM
Petra Petra is offline
MtDNA H1b1-T16362C YDNA E-V13
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 201
Congratulations dhorner!

Thank you for sharing your description of your long way of family research. I was really happy to read your whole story of developping a good tree by well done passionate research. So your example proves again, how DNA testing just works: first of all needs good paper research, then confirm it with DNA and find further ways into the tree.

Wish you all the best for your future matches and new family members.

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Old 2nd April 2015, 04:49 AM
Carla Carla is offline
FTDNA Customer
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 118
Thank you for posting your success story! I enjoyed reading it and it's so nice to hear something good at these forums. God Bless!
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Old 17th September 2016, 12:17 PM
dhorner dhorner is offline
FTDNA Customer
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 43
Thumbs up An Update...And an even happier ending!

I posted the initial message in this thread 18 months ago. I had been looking for the answer to my question - who was my Great Grandfather? - for so long, I desperately wanted to believe I had finally found my answer, on the basis of a single suspected ancestor test. And one with questionable results, to boot. To paraphrase Mark Twain "The results of my analysis were greatly exaggerated", and by me, no less.

After my initial "success story" post, my conclusions were questioned by a few, more experienced, folks on this forum. Luckily, I took their challenge as encouragement to keep looking for better DNA documentation. While the test kit I had in hand didn't definitively lead me to my Great Grandfather, it did provide some pretty strong evidence that the man I had tested descended from a fairly recent common ancestor. So I went back to the drawing board, and began expanding the paper trail of my initial suspect's family, and laying out all the possible combinations I could think of.

Through that process, I was able to identify several other avenues to pursue, some more likely than others, based on the paper trail. I had three suspects I wanted to test, but like many on here, I'm sure, It took some time for me to work up the confidence to ask them. The two I asked both said yes! As I said in my original post, I had my uncle's test kit (my father's brother), and the two suspects, on paper, looked to be a half first cousin and a half first cousin, once removed, each from different sons of my suspected Great Grandfather. The results came back slightly below the average expected for those relationships, but well within the acceptable range. The results from my initial tester from 18 months ago also made a lot more sense based on the revised relationship. Also, I could not find any other combinations of relationships that would yield those results.

So in the end I still have great results to report, and my story is still a success. It just took a little longer, and had a different ending, than it did when I started out. I think for those working through similar questions in their own family trees, I would offer the following advice:
  • Everything starts with a well researched paper trail
  • Be a little skeptical of your results until you've eliminated all the other possibilities
  • Make use of the really knowledgeable people on this forum. Everyone is very gracious and willing to help
  • Don't give up hope. New data is added all the time. Keep plugging away!

Thanks for reading.
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Old 18th September 2016, 11:27 AM
travers travers is offline
FTDNA Customer
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 536
Great story. Congrats.
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Old 18th September 2016, 10:09 PM
MitchellSince1893 MitchellSince1893 is offline
mtDNA: H1 | Y-DNA: R-Z142
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Between Capes Henry & Fear
Posts: 132
My father is in the same boat...unknown paternal great grandfather. Unlike you I don't have a surname to start with. I essentially know nothing of the mystery man. And to make it more challenging my father's paternal grandfather was born in London, England. So there are endless numbers of possible fathers from such a large city.

I recently found a paternal line match via FGC Y Elite testing, but this match and my father share an ancestor that lived 1000 years ago based on Yfull dating of this branch.

I started this journey back in the 1980s and have made a lot of progress with the help of dna testing. Just have to keep hoping a close y-dna match will appear soon. After 4 years, I still have no 37, 67, or 111 marker matches.
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Old 20th September 2016, 03:40 PM
dhorner dhorner is offline
FTDNA Customer
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 43
Believe me, I understand your frustration. The only advice I can offer is turn your attention to other parts of your family tree. Check back every now and then to you DNA test to see if any additional results have been posted.

Keep plugging away.
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