It actually isn’t Fathers Day here in Australia (ours is in September)…so instead of that, I’ll give an update on the search, which has been the focus these past two weeks.
I’ve done a complete 360 as to my theory of who Mum’s father is, in a matter of this past fortnight. And, as it happens…things are just clicking into place as a result. Mum’s (and mine and my sister’s) DNA matches are making so much more sense with this new theory–which is supported by a couple of rather close DNA matches. But, with this new theory comes more complications also…another illegitimacy.
We’ve always joked in our family that luck is never on our side…good to see this tendency has us covered in all possible contexts.
How have I come to these conclusions? We’ll start at the beginning.
In October last year, Mum got a high (ish) match, (we will call her W) with the predicted relationship being third cousins. She didn’t match Mum’s known biological maternal side. She also didn’t match C, or C’s children, who have also tested and matched closely to Mum. Curious. She did mutually match a few other fourth cousins who I knew were related via the biological paternal side. So, I reached out to her. I got a fairly quick response…she’s donor conceived. Like us, she was in search of her donor/father, within the same family. Face palms a-plenty.
LUCKILY, some information was compiled for her by another search angel, which gave her a pedigree for her paternal side and a name even for the donor, which was corroborated by external sources. Given the amount of DNA shared between her and Mum, that would indicate that they would share great great grandparents. So, one couple would be shared between them…we each have 16 great great grandparents. Take out Mum’s known maternal side, that leaves us with two specific couples. Which, based off the original theory, I already had worked out. Thing is, W’s constructed pedigree, which went back a fair way, did not make sense alongside my own, very detailed mirror tree. When I put the pedigrees down side by side and tried to draw connections between Mum and W, it appeared that if both were correct, W and Mum would only be related by marriage. Which, well, can’t be the case. DNA doesn’t lie. After going through her matches and comparing them to ours, it shows that her existence as a match to Mum throws out the original theory as to who Mum’s father is. Her existence as a match to us actually opens up the other side of Mum’s father’s family. And they weren’t who I thought they were. C is evidence of one side of Mum’s biological paternal family, W is evidence of the opposite side.
Confused yet? Good, now you know how I have been feeling for months.
So, off I went, researching W’s pedigree (at this stage I was in denial that I could be back to square one, and didn’t notice the answer glaring me in the face right there in the information she’d given me)–it appears this family was known to C’s side of the family, as there are instances of distant relatives of C’s marrying distant relatives of W’s…meaning Mum and I are related to certain people in the family in two different ways. You see, both sides of the family lived in this one place and it’s surrounds, Dungog NSW. It is a rather small place and as a result, intermarriage was rife in the early days. W and I are now friends, bonding over our mutual searches for paternal figures, and being close in age… it has been rather amusing watching her react to that kind of information (“Wait, so our ancestor married her dead husband’s brother!? That’s so wrong!”).
Once I had a rather broad picture of her family, I began searching for those surnames in Mum’s DNA match list. I also added this pedigree into my existing mirror tree and let it work it’s magic. The problem with intermarriage is that it does weird things with one’s DNA. It can indicate a closer relationship with someone than usual. In our case, it was making it hard to seperate matches that proved a clear distinction from C’s side of the family, thus helping me to narrow down the specific family to focus on as Mum’s immediate family (as in father and paternal grandparents). But, it was evident that the surnames in W’s pedigree, even a number of the same people in her pedigree were showing up in the trees of Mum’s matches.
That’s where it stood for months, the puzzle pieces kinda strewn all over the place. W and Mum got a new mutual match in December, a man with the same surname as W’s third great grandparents…but he matched Mum closer than W. In fact, he matched as another potential third cousin. I contacted him, but have received no response. So, I left it for awhile, up until two weeks ago, when it hit me.
You know how I said intermarriage was rife? C’s maternal grandfather’s brother, her great uncle, married her maternal grandmother’s first cousin once removed. Don’t even try to figure that out if you aren’t into genealogy. Just know that any offspring/descendants from this couple are doubly related to C. Insert my Mum. This couple had a son, born in 1938 or thereabouts, who was residing twenty minutes from where my biological grandmother was living and working at the time of Mum’s conception. It works perfectly with the amount of DNA shared between Mum, C and C’s first cousin G. Meaning they aren’t first cousins once removed to Mum as originally assumed, rather they are second cousins, when considering the closer family connection, through C and G’s grandfather. But wait, where does W fit?
Haha. And you thought W was the illegitimacy I spoke of at the beginning…
I draw your attention back to C’s maternal grandmother’s first cousin once removed, Mum’s suspected paternal grandmother. She was born in 1906 in Dungog, NSW. To a 19 year old, single mother. Those parallels though. Given the DNA connections we have to W’s pedigree and the third cousin match that has the same surname as W’s 3rd great grandparents (his connection to this particular family was confirmed by a close relative of his a few days ago), I believe that W’s 3rd great grandparents are Mum’s great great grandparents…and that one of their sons fathered Mum’s paternal grandmother. It fits. This would make W Mum’s third cousin once removed.
Now, to solidify/prove this fully, I want there to be no room for doubt. Fingers crossed the next few weeks brings us some more DNA matches. I have reached out to members of this family and I tell you what, explaining to them the triple illegitimacy situation has been awkward to say the least. I’ve been lucky to get responses from the majority of those I have contacted, all wishing to help. For this, I am so thankful.