dee_burris: (Default)
For most of us who have slogged through mountains of paper, and hoped to do the genealogy happy dance at the mailbox several times a month, being able to use DNA test results has been a quantum leap forward for family historians.

You may be able to finally find out for sure if one of the cousins who was sniggered about behind hands cupped over mouths was really Uncle Harry's son. You can find closely related relatives whose family tree database fills in gaps in your own. You can see where the majority of your ancestors lived before the migration.

But for adoptees, DNA test results can set back a search into a mystery they thought they had begun to unravel. A "person of interest" as a possible bio parent - the one people have said they believe to be the one - might have to vanish after the DNA results come back.

That little tube of spit can literally change a life. Change a hunt to answer the question, "Who do you think you are?"

Meet my adoptive cousin through the Cothern/Cothren/Cochran line, Sheila Annette Cothern Trevett. Sheila and I have corresponded for several years.

This morning, she told me her story.
I'm the adopted granddaughter of Sherman Cothern in your family tree. Arkansas, Pope County. My adoptive parents named me Sheila Annette.

I love the family history of the Cotherns, even the deep mysteries of misspelling rife throughout.

But genetically, I've felt compelled to answer my own questions too, for the last 20 years or so, I felt confident I had it figured out, then I spit in a tube.

It's been about 36 hours since I first looked at my DNA results.

It's AMAZING what spitting in a tube can tell you.

I found my biological mother 22 years ago. I was 29. I took the clues given on the phone from the lady at the Dept of Social Services in New Mexico, combed through old newspaper microfilm in Las Cruces, with the help of a boyfriend, to find a birth announcement, a yearbook check, and I figured out her maiden name, and first married name. I knew the name of her son. I had my two kids by then, and my driving motivation was the health information, and well, just the truth.

The day I went up to meet her, from LA, at the trailer park in Fresno, was the day OJ was “running” with Al Cowling. Listened to the whole thing on KFIam, missed the traffic.

I knew she'd had a hippie, free love, it's the 60's and 70's “lifestyle” or proclivity. She'd settled down with her current husband for about a decade. The son she'd kept, who was 20 months older than me, was in jail. Actually, the jail where my college roommate's father was the Warden. She was honest, from the get-go, that she was pretty sure it was the one guy, who she was seeing regularly and used the phrase “like rabbits.” But there was a one-night stand in there.

I figured the odds were pretty good, the sheer volume of an 18 yo and a 21 yo who just got out of the service would beat the one-night stand. Right around her 18th birthday.

Nope. One-night stand, I can't remember his name dude it is.

Understand, I've done hours and hours of research and compiling putting together my family tree on all four branches I believed were “me.”

And poof, ¾ of it is shot to hell by spitting in a tube.

Thanks LL Cool J.

See, the very last in-depth branch I went down, in this last year, was my birth dad's. I'd been given enough information from the family, I knew it was there, even if I couldn't decipher the German. Oma was still (and is) alive, at 98! Ok, can I be functioning and loving at 98? Cool genes!

I was more interested in figuring out who my biological mother's father was...

Yep, she's adopted too. Birth mom, product of the end of WWII.

(And my kid's grandmother. She's adopted. That's going to be fun. Apparently I attract it? It's unbelievable what level of attraction.)

Anyway, I thought I had the right Maggio who lived in the Chicago area, and served in WWII. Nope. Close, cousin. Same area of Sicily, same town. But a different Tony Maggio (yes, I'm aware Frank Sinatra's character was Tony Maggio in “From Here to Eternity.”)

Oh the sin, the lust. And I realize, me over turning stones makes people uncomfortable, brings up bad memories, and times in their lives they've probably repressed.

Sorry, a little. But I've paid for those sins too.

Mind-blowing to be figuring this out with the results of the spit tube (for a mere $90.)

This Tony Maggio had already married, circa 1944, in the middle of serving in WWII, but he still banged the cute WAC girl from Indiana, and viola, Mary-Ann (or Patricia, her birthname.) Had to be in that time of the surrender of Europe and the halt of Hitler, and before we dropped the bomb. She was most-likely, thanks to an app calculation from a Google search, conceived the day the bomb was tested at White Sands. July 1945. Good times.

Turns out, my DNA shows her having a sister born 2 months earlier than her. This is going to be rich.
Anyway, back to the tube.

So this ongoing boyfriend, like rabbits and all, his family tree when I circled back to his mother and the in-German print-out, holy cow They are straight-up German royalty. Her grandmother, a Baroness, straight off two lines including King James, and George I. Great stories, eccentric, interesting (and awful) historical figures. Wow, no wonder these people were a little weird about me doing this tree, claiming their heritage.
I ruminated a few months about it, suddenly thinking, wow, I come from actual people who held the power, and now I'm “The Help.” Because I am, it's great. I live in my idea of paradise, in The Rockies, in someone's really beautiful mansion on a mountain. I have to keep it clean, and make them food when they visit. Be polite. Got it.

And then I saw LL Cool J's episode on “Finding Your Roots.” His 70 y.o. Mom never even knew she was adopted. Her parents were dead, and when they did his tree, and put it together with his DNA – OOPS, not matching.
Hmmmm. Maybe I better check.

So here I am, 36 hours since seeing the results. Reeling.

I am 9% Western Europe, which would include German. That's probably the Fleeners right there. Really I'm 31% English, 26% Italian, 19% Scandinavian (?? What?? My adopted brothers supposed to be the Scandinavian one, instead he's German!) 11% Irish (could be Scottish too, Celtic.) a bit of Caucus, European Jew, West Asia.

So wow. I've got a 3rd cousin match, and a bunch of 4th cousins, and it seems to be Simmons with some Carter and Wright thrown in that coincides across the cousins, and they're all pretty much Texans from Houston over into Louisiana since the early 1800's.

So who was this guy, born mid-1940's, getting shipped off to 'Nam circa 1964, via Ft. Bliss, El Paso, TX? Blonde, blue eyed, hairless. Bet he's got a Scandinavian mom.

We shall see. Let the process of elimination begin.

In case its of interest to share on your "Shakin'" site - lord knows I'm shaking. - Sheila

If you recognize any of the surnames, or particular sets of facts Sheila has related, comment here, or email her.

Ditto if you are someone who helps adoptees who are researching family history of their biological parents.

Sheila's email address is sctchef at gmail dot com.
dee_burris: (Default)
Three years ago, my dad took a DNA test to see if we could resolve the "who's-the-daddy" issue for our most distant Burris ancestor, William Burris, born about 1782 in North Carolina (we think North Carolina was his birth place, as our oral family history for the past four generations has told us that.)

When we got the results, Dad also consented to me entering his results in the Burris surname project at Family Tree DNA.
From time to time, I get emails noting matches to Dad's DNA on 12, 25 or 37 markers. I have already identified two other men who have 37 marker matches to Dad, and have corresponded with them by email. It seems we are all stuck in the same generation with our earliest known Burris ancestor.

I think the guys back one more generation must have been brothers or first cousins.

Today I took a look at a new feature on FTDNA. The DNA test results maps for Dad.

12 marker matches
 photo DadsDNAmap12markers.jpg

25 marker matches
 photo DadsDNAmap25markers.jpg

37 marker matches
 photo DadsDNAmap37markers.jpg

So what am I going to do with this information?

Starting with the 37 marker matches, I am going to contact one man - the one in Somerset England. The guy in Ireland has his information marked private, which irks me, because the main point of all this is to find relatives.

Our family lore says William Burris' ancestors were Scotch-Irish.

Oh well. Gotta start somewhere.
dee_burris: (Default)
Spent some time this morning on email and phone with another Burris researcher, one who manages the Burris DNA project.

We are both stuck in the same generation, and know because of the DNA results that we are related - but through whom?

Most likely the parents of men who were born in the last quarter of the who left their birthplace and wound up the extreme western counties of Tennessee before moving on to Missouri and Arkansas.

I'm confident there will be a break. DNA testing for genealogy purposes is gaining widespread acceptance.

Now, I just have to get my son ready (and willing) to carry the torch in case the break comes after I'm gone...


dee_burris: (Default)
Dee Burris Blakley

October 2016


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