Member of the National Genealogical Society 2018
Member of the New Mexico Genealogical Society 2018

When Your DNA and Family Tree Don't Match Up!

Ok. The DNA results report that I have this huge 23% Scandinavian ancestry and no clue where it comes from. It's the second largest category in my new DNA testing, yet, my family tree bears no Olafs, Larssens, or Andersens.

It can be frustrating at best. But I DO have one great-great-grandfather whose history came to a rip roaring halt. Remember him? Yes. 

There were no social security cards, no driver licenses, limited birth certificates, and census questionnaires didn't come in the mail. If they didn't get around to your house, or you moved during the census, that was ten years down the drain. AND, you could change your name on a whim. Today, you're an Andersen, you move, and tomorrow you're a Bannister. I can see it now.

DNA testing is the holiday gift of choice this year, and the companies that perform that service were advertising high and wide. I expect that those who will be sending their results in shortly will have a longer wait than I did.

I haven't added all my people to the family tree on Those I have serious concerns about are sitting in the waiting room for my review. Why did you disappear before the age of 20? Why did you just suddenly appear in Illinois with no rhyme and reason and no paper trail. If you were born where you said you were, there are at least two census records with your name on them. don't exist.

There are plenty of us out there looking at other options. If you have done your DNA test, and you have a great-great grandfather like mine, we can now search by DNA (at least at and hopefully, those mysterious surnames will pop up in other peoples' family trees. There might be someone else out there who holds the key. And believe me, we only need one person with proof who knows the details.

Some other forms of searching for mysteries: - yes, you have to pay for this service, but maybe you know someone who will do a search for you. If there was ever a time men were apt to tell more of the truth, it was during war. They wanted their families to know what happened to them...if the worst happened.

Googling - take it with a grain of salt, but if you find your relative through this manner, write it all down and compare notes. This method is not always successful because people tend to copy/paste the same erroneous information without research. However, you might find a different story out there - one that's worth researching.

Newspapers - this is becoming my search of choice lately. Newspapers can hold errors as well, but the journalists' who, what, where, when, and how method of writing might hold some truth worth seeking out. Through newspapers, I recently discovered my great-grandfather ran a dairy and then sold the cows when he wanted to start dirt farming in the 1920s. I never knew it. Land acquisitions can be found in newspapers. Tax and court information can be discovered through newspapers, and stories we might have wished destroyed, come to the light of day. They can be valuable for family research.

Church records - people didn't always attend church because they were religious. Sometimes, that was the only social interaction they had for an entire week. They didn't care what the sermon was about; they were excited about the short conversations on the grounds afterwards. Many women never saw another adult until Sunday afternoon. More and more old church records are being transcribed and placed online. You may not know the church, but googling "church records, genealogy, and [name of city/state]" might uncover a gem of history.

Think outside the box when it comes to family research and don't readily believe the DNA test is wrong. I would trust DNA over faulty records.

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