Sunday, June 01, 2014

DNA Match : Cousin Raj

Made a DNA connection with a public match at 23andMe, Raj, who is not currently sharing genomes with me.  Because we are not sharing genomes, I'm unable to compare him with others to see where we match. We share 1 segment, or 0.31% DNA and was a predicted 4th cousin. Raj was listed as my mother's predicted 3rd to 4th cousin, sharing 3 segments and 0.59% DNA.

Looking at his profile at 23andMe, there was no family tree listed, but he did list family surnames and locations, though none of them looked familiar to me.

Because he has a rather unusual name and surname (at least to my ears), I decided to see if I could "reverse engineer" a solution to seeing exactly how we were related.  With the help of Google, FindAGrave and some genealogical intuition, I was able to successfully tie cousin Raj into the family tree.

Using Google, I located him listed as a survivor in his mother's obituary that had been posted to the Iowa Gen Web.  Likewise, his father's obituary had also been posted to the same site.  His father immigrated from India, so I made the deduction that we must be related through his mother's line.

I found the listing for his maternal grandmother's obituary that had been posted to and  I also found his maternal grandfather listed at FindAGrave.  There was not much biographical information listed at FindAGrave for his maternal grandfather, but his maternal grandmother's obituary at had her dying in Ft. Wayne, Indiana about 60 miles away from where I live.  Armed with that information, I made an assumption that our connection came from the line of his maternal grandmother's side.

Fortunately, his maternal grandmother lived to be 101 years old and her obituary at Legacy named her parents and stated that she was a native of Ossian, which is just south of Ft. Wayne in Wells County.  I remembered that I had one branch of the Pierce family that had migrated there.

Through the FindAGrave website, I was able to connect Raj's maternal great-grandfather to his maternal 2nd-great grandparents, John H. Simerman and Mary Lula Summers of Ossian, Indiana.  That's when I knew we had a connection.  Mary Lula Summers was in my database (though I had the surname as Sommers), the daughter of William Henry Harrison Summers (1844-1911) and Margaret P. Pierce (1840-1920).

Margaret P. Pierce was the daughter of Francis S. Pierce (1806-1881) and Rebecca Page (1806-1893) and the younger sister of my 3rd-great grandfather, Edmund G. Pierce (1837-1875).  I had found the connection!

I quickly sent a note to Raj through 23andMe, and he wrote me back.  We've begun exchanging information, and I've kick-started my research on these branches of the family that I previously had left blank.

Knowing that I was able to make a connection where one didn't appear possible right away makes me confident that with a little persistence and as complete of a family tree as possible, I can make connections to some of these other DNA matches at 23andMe.  There are so many descendants of my 4th-great grandparents that I need to track down, as that is where many of the connections will be found.

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