Week 8 – #52Ancestors

One of my ongoing research projects is to identify my maternal great grandfather. We have always known that my grandfather’s father was not the man who raised him, despite his using the last name of his stepfather. In the course of my research, I identified my great grandmother’s first husband and just assumed that he was my great grandfather. (I talked about my great grandmother, Annie Witt, in Week 1. My grandfather is her son, Mack Rosenbalm.)

I started studying genetic genealogy two years ago. About a year ago I started looking at my Ancestry’s Thru-Lines and my DNA matches, and realized that it was highly unlikely that either of my great grandmother’s husbands was the father of my grandfather.

There is no documentary evidence that will identify my great grandfather (at least it’s unlikely; I am still trying to track down a birth certificate for my grandfather). Having ruled out both husbands, I went back to the divorce file and wrote down the names of the two men who had been identified as part of the adultery charge. My process may not have been perfect, but eventually I was able to identify a common surname by sorting matches in a Gephi chart. By process of elimination, I was able to identify the correct cluster.

My Gephi chart – the two small blue clusters are matches to my unknown great grandfather

Unfortunately, I do not have many close matches in this ancestral line. I identified the two most common surnames (Glover and McKinney) and have been researching these two families for months. I have also spent time creating “rough” trees for DNA matches who either do not have a family tree, or who have not answered my messages.

My next step was to go to DNA Painter, where I used the WATO (What Are the Odds) tool. Although I do not have definitive answer, it appears that my great-grandfather is one of two men – a father-son duo.

Current DNA Painter hypothesis – still working to identify and add DNA matches. . .

Going back to documentary research, I looked at my great grandmother’s location in 1900. My grandfather was born in May of 1901. He would have been conceived in August 1900. The 1900 census occurred on 2 July 1900, at which time Anna was still living with her first husband. (According to the divorce file, they separated in 1899, but the divorce was not filed until _____). I paged through the 1900 census, and found my two great grandfather candidates on the very next page from my great-grandmother! Two single sons were living with their father and mother. (I really wish I had thought to do this a year ago!)

This research has been extremely frustrating, but very satisfying. I’ve leaned new techniques along the way. From my mistakes, I’ve learned a better process for working with unknown DNA matches. Hopefully soon I can post an update that says “I can identify”!

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