Jeff’s Story – Searching for His Biological Grandparents

Back Story

Jeff’s father, Gary, passed a few years ago. Gary was adopted and Jeff wanted to know more about his ethnicity and maybe even figure out who his grandparents were.  When I met with him, he showed me this picture of his father as a boy in the 1950s. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this picture.

Jeff’s mother had also taken a DNA test. This helped cut my research time in half as I was quickly able to determine which matches were maternal and which ones were most likely paternal. 

Taking a First Look

Looking at his paternal matches, I was able to start building out a tree for each one to see if I could find the commonality and connect them all to one family tree.  I knew I wanted to connect 3 or more matches to make a  theory work.  I had to go in blind because I didn’t know if I was working on the grandmother or grandfather’s side.  The first set fell into place quickly and ended up being his grandfather’s side.

Putting the Pieces Together

Grandfather's Side:

This side had several close family matches. Analyzing each match, I was able to place several of these matches into the same family.  Once the matches were connected and I could see them as a family, it was easy to see where Jeff’s father fit into this family.  There was only one possible option once the work was done.

I researched him, verified his birth, death, and residency information, and confirmed his age and location to line up with my theory.  Jeff’s biological grandfather was 18 when Gary was born; he lived in NYC where Jeff’s father was ultimately found. While there is no way of knowing if he knew of his son, there was now a connection to the lineage.

This was presented to Jeff rather quickly, but I needed more time to confirm his grandmother’s identity.

Grandmother's Side:

The highest match had a partial tree with no maternal line listed.  Digging a little deeper I was able to take the information and connect it to the maternal side and move up a generation to the parents.  More sleuthing led to the names of maternal grandparents.

No further information was available, but a surname I had seen with a few other matches popped up again, and it was time to order a marriage license from the NYC Municipal Archives, as 1949 was not available online.  Unfortunately, the wait time was between three to four weeks.

Distant matches were then looked at in the range of 4th – 6th cousins.  There were 4 matches that all tied into one couple that had 10 children!  I was quite surprised when 4 matches all had the same relationship to Jeff of 4th cousins all sharing great-great-great-grandparents.

When the marriage license arrived three weeks later, it tied the initial match in and proved to be Jeff’s half-first cousin, sharing a grandmother! 

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