Tag Archives: DNA

Mirror Trees Really Do Work

I gave compelling evidence in The Biological Father of my Foundling Ancestor that William Norsworthy Gordon is my great grandfather.  A living direct descendant of  William N. Gordon agreed to take a DNA test, and the results have arrived. The descendant is a granddaughter of William Norsworthy, and if my theory is correct, her father would be my grandfather’s half-brother.  Her DNA matched 306 centiMorgans (cM) and 22 segments with my mother. According to Blaine Bettinger’s shared cM relationship chart (see below), this DNA match fits in the 1st to 2nd cousin range. This is the range that I expected, and proves that I really have found my biological great- grandfather, and that  mirror trees really do work. Continue reading Mirror Trees Really Do Work

How to build a Mirror Tree

Mirror Tree Blog Post1

After exploring mirror trees with the main roadblock of my family tree (my foundling grandfather), I now have a better understanding  of what a mirror tree is, and how useful it can be  for revealing ancestors that left incomplete paper trails. Mirror trees offer a method for organizing genetic DNA matches to help those with unknown ancestors (adoptees, orphans and foundlings) identify biological ancestors.

Here are  five steps to create a mirror tree:

Continue reading How to build a Mirror Tree

A Y-DNA Revelation


My Mother’s brother took the Family Tree Y-DNA test so we could find clues on the paternal family of my adopted grandfather, Dwight Willard.  He has been the largest brick wall in my family tree since absolutely nothing is known of his biological parents.  The y chromosome is passed from father to son practically unchanged, so I thought the Y-DNA test would be the best chance for me to find my grandfather’s biological surname, and may even connect me to direct family members. Since only men have the y chromosome, I was unable to take the test myself, but am so fortunate that my mother has a brother, and that he was willing to take the test. Continue reading A Y-DNA Revelation

2016 Genealogy Resolutions

Picture from Shutterstock.com
Picture from Shutterstock.com

I am a life long fan New Year’s resolutions and think it is important to take the time to really ponder what you want from the year, as well as what you have accomplished. The past 5 to 10 years I have restricted my resolutions to one per year. These  have  been  mostly self-improvement related; listening more attentively to my talkative child, being honest with myself (tough one), being true to myself (very tough one), not use any paper towels for a year (yep, I did that), and write one letter of gratitude a month to someone that I did not personally know).  I was able to commit to these goals most of the time , but the addition of marriage and a larger family have challenged my commitment the past couple of years. Continue reading 2016 Genealogy Resolutions

Mirror Mirror on the Tree

Photo from Sutterstock.com
Photo from Shutterstock.com

I have recently joined a great Facebook Group called DNA Detectives that I believe was started by Cece Moore one of the genealogists on Genealogy Roadshow. It is a group dedicated for those using DNA to locate biological family of adoptees.  Besides being inspired from all of the posts from those that have connected with lost family members,  I have gotten a lot of great ideas for new research strategies for finding my grandfather’s biological family. Continue reading Mirror Mirror on the Tree

Welsh Genetics


People with Welsh heritage have always been proud of their roots. Even though it has been part of the United Kingdom for a long time, Wales has kept its own unique customs and traditions. It turns out that Wales is even different genetically. Continue reading Welsh Genetics

Surprised By My DNA

Science suggests that we inherit half of our DNA from the mother and half from the father.  I already have the DNA results for both of my parents, and had expected to be a fairly equal blend between the two of them.  Well, this is not what I found in my Ancestry DNA results.  Both of my parents have European descent with my mother calculated as 100% European, and my father 98%.  My DNA revealed that I am also near 100% European, but the percentage break down of the various European ethnicities is what surprised me. Continue reading Surprised By My DNA

Is Circumstantial Evidence Enough?

I have found great circumstantial evidence suggesting the possibility that Elizabeth Johnston is the mother of my adopted grandfather Dwight Willard, but there are still a few more questions I need answered to increase the confidence of this relationship. Through Ancestry.com I was able to locate a living descendant of Elizabeth, and sent an email asking if they knew:

  1. When Elizabeth moved to San Francisco
  2. What happened to Elizabeth’s second daughter (Onita Frances Stewart)
  3. If any other descendants had taken the Ancestry DNA test.

Knowing the answers to these questions will lead me closer to either proving or disproving the relationship between Elizabeth and Dwight. Continue reading Is Circumstantial Evidence Enough?

A Crack in the Adoption Brick Wall


The great thing about brick walls is that they are susceptible to fractures, and can, with time and patience be taken apart or completely removed. The major genealogy brick wall in my family tree relating to my adopted grandfather now has a big crack in it. The DNA match to a third cousin of my mother began a fracture in the wall, but results from researching the descendants of a potential shared ancestor has turned that small fracture into a large deep crack. Continue reading A Crack in the Adoption Brick Wall

DNA Reveals Clues to Dwight’s Heritage

As mentioned in Who is Noel Bright?, I have high hopes that my mother’s DNA will provide clues to the birth family of my grandfather. From tracing her maternal line and making judgments based from my grandfather’s physical traits and personality, I expected the autosomal DNA test to show that 25% of mother’s ancestors were from France, 25% from England and 50 % from Ireland.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this test, it compares DNA with other samples in a very large database to determine approximate ethnicities on both the maternal and paternal lines for about 1000 years back. We used the Ancestry.com test, which also compares the DNA sample with others in their database to match potential family members.

Here are the results from my mother’s DNA test:


My guess on where my maternal ancestors lived was not too bad,  but slightly off. First, her French and English ancestry is much smaller than I thought (6% and 7% respectively). This was really surprising since most of the ancestors that I have researched so far on my grandmother’s side are from England or France.  I was correct in that the highest percentage of her DNA was traced to Ireland, but I was not expecting the 33% Scandinavian or the 9% Italian/Greek roots.

I assume that this Scandinavian lineage comes from my Grandfather’s side of the family. It does fit his looks with the fair skin, strawberry blonde hair, muscular physique, and blue eyes. This clue is exciting, as this is the closest I have ever felt to finding a connection with my grandfather’s blood lines. Could he have possibly descended from the Vikings?

Ancestry.com found 3,400 family matches through my Mom’s DNA including 1 second cousin and 2 third cousins. Are any of these close cousins from my grandfather’s side? Find out in my next post.

Written by Treena