DNA Part Six: The Good and Bad News

wordcloud
A tree shaped word cloud using known Rowland / Rogers family names

Good and Bad News to Report.  First the Good News:

I can’t believe it’s been over a year and a half since I have written about my DNA journey.  What a long quiet year 2015 was on the DNA front.  So many months have gone by with no new leads.  It was a tough year and full of distractions.  My temp work had me bouncing around between five different jobs.  However, I gained new skills and met some interesting people along the way, so no complaints.

Then, in April, 2016, I received this message from Sandra:

I uploaded my information into gedmatch.com and you were the first person on my list.  I wanted to contact you because I was wondering how you fit into my family.

 I’m not looking for anything from you.  I was just curious as to how we’re related.  I’m always fascinated finding new family.

Turns out Sandra is my mother’s cousin AND she is the genealogist in the family!  She sends me my mothers family tree.  For the first time in my life, I have a blood family tree, names, history and stories. It is overwhelming.  I’m in a fog for weeks.  Stunned actually.

Then, in June, this little gem shows up from David:

fyi, have put dna in GEDmatch and your dna in that database  has highest match to ours.
Our ancestry lived mostly in Ohio in the 1800’s.

David and I exchange trees.  We compare dates and names

Great
That is a match
You grandfather our uncle, Byron Rowland, brother of my mom, Gayle Rowland.

No wonder we are such a close match
Have much on Rowland ancestry

Music to my ears! If that wasn’t enough David sends me his family findings, a hundred page document that includes more names, more dates about the Rowland’s …and this note:

attached is tree for our mom, Gayle Rowland
It is same for Byron Rowland
Rowland’s were from Wales
Also, you are a Mayflower descendant

mayflower 2
On November 9th ,1620, the Mayflower’s crew sighted Cape Cod

Confused yet? The simple version is that David and Sandra share the same great grandparents, the parents of Gayle and Byron.  David descends from their daughter (Gayle) and Sandra from the brother (Byron). Sandra is my first cousin once removed and David is my second cousin.

There are so many families using DNA sites now. 23andMe lists over 1000 relatives for me, even though I only share one chromosome with most.  Sandra and David, as distant as we three are on the tree, score head and shoulders above the fray. I am thankful for these two diligent genealogists.

 

THE HORRIBLE BAD NEWS

Sandra sent the newspaper article with the headline

“Flames in Locked Auto Held Cause of 5 Deaths”
from the Castroville, Texas, Wednesday,
22 Jul 1964 issue of the Dallas Morning News.

My mother married a Captain who served in World War II.  They had five children.  After the death of their youngest son, my mother, Joan, wrote her husband a letter that she was taking the kids and leaving him.  He moved out and went to live with his parents in a nearby town.

Then, one day, perhaps when Joan was at an appointment, he loaded my four half brothers, and sisters, ages two to ten, into the car.  He put them to sleep with exhaust fumes by connecting a hose from the car muffler to a window, then poured gasoline over the car and lit a match.  Here is what the article reports:

“Justice of the Peace C. O. Williams of Devine said his verdict of “murder and suicide” was based on the physical evidence investigators had uncovered.

   The evidence, he said, included a letter Loessberg had written to his estranged wife in San Antonio and mailed shortly before driving to the pasture.

   Medina County Sheriff Charles Hitzfelder quoted the brief, handwritten note as saying: “You have only yourself to care for now.”

   Hitzfelder said the car may have been doused with an inflammable fluid.  The engine’s air cleaner was off the carburetor.

   A rancher and three youths who had been rabbit hunting in the area discovered the burning auto.  When found, the vehicle was upright, but had crashed through a fence and sideswiped two trees.”

The Rowland family was in total discord over the horrific murder-suicide.  It was 1964, perhaps they blamed Joan?  She ran to Seattle to live with a distant Aunt.

We know she married again.  She gave birth to me at Harborview Hospital, then, disappeared.  Perhaps, I am her only living descendant?

 

STILL, SO MANY QUESTIONS

Did her husband know about me?  Is she still alive?  It is possible that she is alive, in her 80’s.  I have all the information I need to find her address, find the marriage certificate, to find her phone number and call her.  I haven’t done any of that.  I just can’t get myself to do anything.

How could she…

What if…

It would hurt…

It could hurt.

It could also heal.

 


 

https://shannonplawswriter.com/2015/01/26/dna-part-five-how-do-you-identify/

https://shannonplawswriter.com/2014/12/20/dna-part-four-spice/

https://shannonplawswriter.com/2014/11/28/dna-part-three/

DNA Part Five: How Do You Identify?

This morning I’m reviewing my results from 23andMe.  I’m feeling frustrated and exhausted. Starting to wonder if I am an alien baby thrown from a space ship as it was circling the sun.  The results came back on Thanksgiving 2014, but the closest relative located is a third cousin; we have four segments in common and potentially share the same great-great grandparent.  Do I get a C- in DNA testing results?

dna-shared-between-relatives

I found a list of “Famous Adoptees” (see bottom of page).  It is comforting to know I am not the only one looking for family.  My mood is changing regarding this search.  Anticipating drama, I’m thinking it might be better to withdraw.

My haplogroup is U5a1a1, found primarily in modern day Ireland.  They are a pretty quiet group on the post boards. “Hi everyone! I’m also a U5a1a1.  My family’s primarily from Ireland.”—out. To connect and share stories with my third, fourth, fifth cousins requires family names to share and compare.

Good News

A DNA blogger recommended a site call GEDmatch.  A handy benefit of 23andMe is that the results can be downloaded and added to other DNA sites like GEDMatch.  Another close cousin was found using this public site.  He is a genealogy buff living in Brazil of Jewish/Brazilian descent.  He sent me the proof of our cousin-hood in this format:

Minimum threshold size to be included in total = 700 SNPs
Mismatch-bunching Limit = 350 SNPs
Minimum segment cM to be included in total = 7.0 cM

Chr Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs
9 4564022 13535786 17.0 2509

Largest segment = 17.0 cM
Total of segments > 7 cM = 17.0 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 4.9

 His findings came with a warm note, “this is wonderful, we felt embraced by you dear cousin!” It is encouraging to connect with him, with anyone, honestly.

Here is how two sets of DNA look using a visual comparison option from GEDMatch.  Each bar is one of my strands atop another participant.  Color means a match, black is no match. Imagine each bar like a hair comb with “teeth”, solid horizontal color equals 100% match for that section, or “tooth”, and so on.  This graph compares our ancestral connections.

DNA M070444_M533447_E9A186
GEDMatch
How Do You Identify?

I’m going to take a leap here and say that the “race” question is irrelevant.  In my home I was raised by second and third generation German/Swedish and Irish/French parents.  However, my test shows no German, Sweden or French in my DNA.  My mother’s mid-western cooking, dinner at the table, and Lutheran ethics influenced me more than anything.  So what am I?  Here is what I believe TFN: Family culture, the style in which children are nurtured, forms our cultural identities.

10-gates-450
Henry Louis Gates Jr is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is also an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder.

I’ve been watching the PBS program “Finding Your Roots” hosted by Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr.  Many of the African-American guests discover a surprisingly large amount of European ancestry.  Gates himself discovers that he is 50% European!  He shares that he was raised in a typical African-American home.  He doesn’t “feel” Northern European.  So is he?  Only he can answer that.

FAMOUS ADOPTEES

Here is a list I found of well known people who are also adopted:

Kate Adie (journalist)

Edward Albee (playwright)

Maya Angelou (poet and author)

John J. Audubon (naturalist)

Michael Bay (director)

Tallulah Bankhead (actress)

Layne Beachley (surfer)

Lynda Bellingham (actress)

Ingrid Bergman (actress)

Andy Berlin (co-founder of ad agency Berlin Camerson & Partners)

James Best (actor)

Les Brown (motivational speaker)

Surya Bonaly (professional skater)

Richard Burton (actor)

Senator Robert Byrd

Augustus Caesar (emporer of Rome)

Truman Capote (author)

Harry Caray (baseball broadcaster)

Peter Carruthers (professional skater)

Kitty Carruthers (professional skater)

Kristin Chenoweth (actress)

Eric Clapton (singer)

President Bill Clinton

Lynette Cole (Miss USA 2000)

Nat King Cole (singer)

Gary Coleman (actor)

Daunte Culpepper (professional football)

Rachel Crow (X Factor contestant)

Faith Daniels (TV news personality)

Ted Danson (actor, adopted child and adoptive father)

Tommy Davidson (comedian)

Toby Dawson (professional skier)

Eric Dickerson (professional football)

Bo Diddley (musician)

Carl Theodore Dreyer (filmmaker)

Larry Ellison (co-founder and CEO of Oracle)

Clarissa Pinkola Estes (poet)

President Gerald Ford

Jamie Foxx (singer, actor)

Scott Fujita (professional football)

Tim Green (professional football)

Jonathon Gilbert (actor)

Melissa Gilbert (actress)

Newt Gingrich (politician)

Faith Hill (singer)

Scott Hamilton (professional skater)

John Hancock (U.S. Founding Father)

Debbie Harry (singer)

Reese Hoffa (Olympic shot putter)

Jesse Jackson (politician)

Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple)

Eartha Kitt (singer, actress)

Matthew Laborteaux (actor)

Patrick Laborteaux (actor)

John Lennon (singer)

Representative Jim Lightfoot

Allan “apl.de.ap” Pineda Lindo, jr. (singer, member of Black Eyed Peas)

Art Linkletter (TV personality)

Ray Liotta (actor)

Charlotte Lopez (actress and Miss Teen USA 1993)

Greg Louganis (Olympic Gold Medal Diver)

Malcolm X (human rights activist)

Lee Majors (actor)

Nelson Mandela (human rights activist)

Nimmy March (actress)

James MacArthur (actor)

Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels (musician)

Frances McDormand (actress)

Tim McGraw (singer)

Sarah McLachlan (singer)

James Michener (author)

Tom Monaghan (founder of Domino’s Pizza, owner of Detroit Tigers)

Lucy Maud Montgomery (author)

Marilyn Monroe (actress)

Moses (biblical leader)

Mother Teresa (humanitarian)

Alonzo Mourning (professional basketball)

Dan O’Brien (Olympic gold medalist, decathalon)

Hugh O’Connor (actor)

Michael Oher (professional football, story inspired The Blind Side)

Jim Palmer (professional baseball)

Aaron Parchem (Olympic figure skater)

Lorraine Pascale (model, author and chef)

Dana Plato (actress)

Edgar Allen Poe (author)

Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi (TV personality)

Priscilla Presley (actress)

Michael Reagan (President Reagan’s son)

First Lady Nancy Reagan

Nicole Richie (TV personality)

Wilson Riles (educator)

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Victoria Rowell (actress)

Buffy Sainte-Marie (singer)

Paull Shin (state senator)

Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s, children’s advocate)

Leo Tolstoy (author)

Dr. Ruth Westheimer (media personality, sex therapist)

Mayor Anthony Williams (Washington, D.C. politician)

Jett Williams (singer)

#