A few hours after my parents had left, I logged back into my AncestryDNA account.
Fortunately, perhaps sensing or even sharing my eagerness to figure out the connection, she had replied right away.
Okay! I thought. Someone actually willing to help me. Thank God. I checked through my email, and finally figured out how to pull up her tree.
As was true for Jessie, I also saw no connection that was obvious. The names were entirely unfamiliar to me. While my mother had grown up in south Jersey, as had the rest of her known family (most of whom still live in the area today), the names just didn’t seem to add up. I replied.
It took a few days for her to respond. In the meantime, at nights, after getting done with work, I obsessively worked on building out my Mom’s side of the family tree. This would be the only way for me to tell which matches I was receiving were on my maternal versus paternal side. One of my brothers is also very interested in work on our family tree, and used to have his own Ancestry.com account with a fairly fleshed out version of ours. However, due to financial constraints several years ago and the admittedly steep price of Ancestry.com’s annual registration fee, he had to shut off his account. While we didn’t still have that resource, and I hadn’t made a decision just yet as to what I should/shouldn’t share with my brothers, I did reach out to him in order to re-build at least the maternal side of our family tree. He was living in the Philadelphia area, where my parents were, and had access to some family tree resources back at their house.
No one knew why I was asking. I felt I had to keep it that way for the time being, and not hurt anyone until I knew more. Plus, what if my brothers wouldn’t have wanted to know?
I also explored the incredibly detailed public family tree created by my match who is a cousin on my Mom’s side, the one by which I was able to confirm that the DNA sample had, in fact, legitimately been mine. From the information contained in his tree, I was quickly able to build out my paternal grandfather’s portion of my family tree. It went all the way back to some minor royalty in England, it seemed! Sir this and Lady that. Fascinating and incredibly exciting. Each hit for another family member on my tree felt like I was regaining some of my roots.
Jessie replied to me a few days later, on October 22nd.
Summarizing, she basically said that she had been looking and looking for some kind of link, but hadn’t found anything obvious just yet, and suggested that perhaps there had been an adoption in the family somewhere up the family line that was throwing our research off. She did also mention that she saw some commonalities across portions of our family lines in terms of connections to Canada, although that was on my Mom’s side of the family. Jessie then asked if any of my other relatives have had their DNA done, since that could give us more leads, and mentioned that she wasn’t sure if anyone else in her family had done so just yet. If I uploaded my raw data to a database called GedMatch, we could then compare whether or not we had any matches in common, which could possibly help us narrow down new leads.
She signed off by noting how this very much was a puzzle, but that she liked puzzles, so would be in touch with more soon.
I was very grateful.
At the same time, maybe she’s also related on my Mom’s side after all? I was a bit disappointed at the possibility, since I was hoping that I was getting CLOSER to finding more information, especially now that I had found someone willing to talk.
I continued to work on building out my Mother’s side of my family tree in hopes of comparing it to Jessie’s, to see once and for all if that connection could be ruled out. Unfortunately, very little information was to be had on my maternal great grandfather’s line. I was soon feeling pretty stumped, and then got sucked back into the worst drama I had ever experienced at work.
I called lights out on my search while I tried to shut the floodgates on my increasingly stressful and overwhelming work life.