Jon’s Story: Stumbling Blocks to a Clearer Picture
A Case of Unknown Parentage
The second “brick wall” we hit in our personal family research was that my mother’s father never knew his own father. He had been abandoned by his mother and raised by his grandparents. I wanted to see if, using my DNA, Ancestry would be able to figure out who my maternal great-grandfather was. Though it wasn’t possible to identify an exact match, we were able to narrow it down and determine that my great-grandfather was a descendant of a certain ancestral couple. He had to be one of 16 possible sons and grandsons in this family.
Upon returning home, I was able to follow up on the research on my own with the suggestions Ancestry provided to me. I suspected there must be a military connection because this was during WWI and all 16 “suspects” came from approximately 80-100 miles away. In those days, no one of my family’s class moved around. I researched all 16 for military records, began reaching out to DNA relatives and found six of the 16 men had a military record from WWI. Two were the right age with the right service record. Pulling their service records, I saw that one was in a cavalry regiment based three miles from my great-grandmother’s home. I now have confirmation of who my great-grandfather is and have been in contact with DNA relatives I never knew I had.
Pride is in the Details
In addition to answering these broader questions about my family, Ancestry also found evidence of a family member of mine who could read and write in the 1700s, which at that time was quite rare. Everyone else in the Burrows family line during that generation was an agricultural laborer who couldn’t read or write. Knowing we had a literate ancestor is now a source of great pride for me and my relatives – thanks to Ancestry!
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