Friday, April 21, 2017

Skeletons in My Closet, Part 3

Autosomal DNA tests came in for the three sisters a couple of weeks ago and I have been comparing them with some of the kits on my maternal side of the family.

Below is a chart of the total shared cM between the three sisters (D, M, and S), my mom, my two aunts, my uncle, my brother (actually my half-brother), my sister, and me, obtained from Family Finder Matches at Family Tree DNA.

This is another chart of the matches obtained from the GEDmatch 3D Chromosome Browser using the cM threshold of 5.

Based on Blaine Bettinger’s The Shared CM Project, for a first cousin relationship with the sisters, my brother, sister, and myself should have around 533-1379 of shared cM. For a relationship of aunt/uncle with the sisters, my mom, aunts, and uncle should have about 1301-2193 of shared cM.

Remember, we are also related through my maternal grandmother. Just using that side of the family, my brother, sister, and myself are second cousins, once-removed to the sisters and should share around 0-325 cM. My mom, aunts, and uncle are second cousins to the sisters and should share about 43-504 cM.

If my brother, my sister, and I are half-first cousins to the three sisters (sharing the same grandfather but different grandmothers), we should share an average of 425 cM according to the table located at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki page. My mom, aunts, and uncle should have about 850 cM shared since they are half-aunts and half-uncle. It looks like we have met that requirement.

I also performed the “In Common With” feature on everyone at Family Tree DNA and used various lines of my grandfather (O’Rear, Humphries, Harbison, Alexander, Cole, Kinney, Henderson, Stephens, and Gann). This would have been easier if more matches would have had ancestral surnames and/or GEDCOMs associated with their kits.

This project would have been more difficult if I did not have a clue about the paternal grandfather of the sisters. I would have most likely have used some additional third-party tools.

What’s next? I am testing four more of my maternal first cousins in a couple of weeks. I am also going to research the maternal lines of the sisters to help sort out all of my maternal lines. Their father also had three siblings with unknown fathers so I will see where that will lead. Personally, I am going to start to work on assigning chromosome segments to my specific ancestors. I have more mysteries to solve!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Skeletons in My Closet, Part 2

On 3 March 2017, I had dinner with my “new” cousins in Valdosta, Georgia. I met Dottie and Sherrie, two daughters of my possible half-uncle, and Devon, one of his granddaughters.

An Alabama birth certificate of Charles Edward Butler was obtained by my uncle. This was actually an amended birth certificate which was issued as the result of a name change that occurred 31 January 1994.1 I mentioned this to Sherrie and Dottie. They said when their father retired, he had a problem receiving his social security benefits. He discovered that his surname at birth was O’Mary instead of Butler which he had been using all his life. Charles spent a few days in Alabama trying to locate his birth certificate. This may explain the sighting of the man in Jasper who looked just like Lester O’Rear (my grandfather).

My mom has requested birth certificates of two more children of Grace O’Mary. The vital records office in Alabama is having difficulty locating the certificates. A trip to the Lamar County Probate Court may be necessary.

Below is a link to a chart of my 2nd great-grandparents, William Richard O’Mary and Amanda E. Harrison listing their daughter Emma Caroline (my great-grandmother) and Grace (mother of Charles).

O'Mary Chart

I have not yet located a marriage record for Grace and Howard Butler (my great-grandfather). She was 15 years of age when their daughter Iva Lee was born.

Grace’s son Burtis never married nor had any children so the identity of his father may never be found. Doris did have children and so did Willa. I have not made any contact with them yet.

Grace married E. Lester Johnson and had 3 sons with him and all 3 are now deceased. They may have known some family information.

The three sisters have submitted their DNA to Family Tree DNA and their results are estimated to be available by the end of April. I can't wait!

1Alabama Department of Health, amended birth certificate no. 101-33-54378 (1933), Charles Edward Butler, formerly “Charles Edward O’Mary”; Center for Health Statistics, Montgomery.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Skeletons in My Closet, Part 1

My genealogical world was turned upside down last week while attending a maternal uncle's funeral. The family was in the church's social hall having lunch between the service and the burial. I noticed that there was quite a bit of animated conversation going on at the table in front of me. I looked at my sister who was seated there, and she kept saying to me, "Did you know? Did you know?"

I went over to her and asked what she was talking about. She asked me if I knew that my grandfather had an illegitimate son. I looked around at the table and heads were nodding yes. It seems that the secret had been revealed to an uncle recently by my aunt. My other aunt spoke up and said she was planning to tell us at our annual trip to St. Simons Island in May. My sister and I asked my mom about it. She also knew and was rather upset that the cat was out of the bag. She thought that it was a secret only known to the three sisters and she had wanted it kept that way. A few days later I was told that my other two uncles had known.

Story is that some of my family had been attending a family reunion in Jasper, Alabama, a number of years ago. A relative had mentioned that there was a man in Jasper that looked just like my maternal grandfather. My grandmother's sister told my aunt that she knew who the other man was. This aunt is also a genealogist and she tracked down a couple of the man's daughters and actually met with them a couple of times. I've been involved in genealogy since 1995. Why wasn't I told?!

The mother of the illegitimate son was a woman I know about from my research. Her name was Grace. Grace was my grandmother's maternal aunt. Grace was my grandmother's step-mother. And most likely Grace was the lover of my grandmother's husband (my grandfather).

Researching the life of Grace has moved to the top of my to-do list. I'll also be reviewing my family's DNA results and looking for some new subjects to test.