AncestryDNA | Solving Family Mysteries with AncestryDNA | Ancestry

Hi, this is Brad Argent from Ancestry. Today I want to talk about how you use DNA to do family history. All family history begins with a question, right? And that question could be, Who am I? Where have I come from? Who were my grandparents? Who were my great-grandparents? It’s all about answering questions, or if
you like, it’s about solving mysteries. And so DNA can be really helpful for
solving those mysteries in two ways. So either it can solve the question
you’ve always been asking or potentially you could be the answer to
somebody else’s question. So Miriam, you’ve used Ancestry and you’ve used AncestryDNA. You were actually able to answer somebody else’s question, weren’t you? Yeah, that’s right. We were able when through DNA test to confirm that two very distant branches of the family were connected. So how did that play out? So we always knew where my family were from, this little town in Romania called
Piatra Neamt, which is in the Carpathian Mountains. But it’s very difficult to get
actual records from our country, they’re still actually held in the archives of over there. I’d connected with this guy called Keith many years ago, but we couldn’t
work out how we were connected until I did the DNA test. Very soon after getting the results, I
got a message from him saying we are actually a match, actually confirming what we suspected but couldn’t prove all those years ago, that this is one Silverman family from Piatra Neamt. What I didn’t know is that he’d done a lot of research himself and he had all these records in his possession and he had not been able
to work out who all the Silvermans were. So he sent me all the research but there were a few names that
came up that he didn’t know who they were and one of them was my grandfather and
then we spent a long time him, and me, and my dad trying to work out how exactly we connected. And he had all this history of the town and where the Jews came from and where they may have gone to – all in there. He’d got all that research down. Before that, even with the records, I
couldn’t be sure that we were actually connected. It was only with that DNA match that we could say, yes, we’re definitely of the same family. It felt like finally two branches were coming back together. So Mike, you’re a bit of a hardcore family historian, right? You’ve been doing your family history for ages. But you’ve taken a DNA test and that DNA
test has, oddly, led you on to more family history rather than just the DNA connections. Can you tell us a little bit about that? So yeah,
there’s one particular branch my family that has always being problematic, and it’s my
great great grandmother – she’s a Gallagher. And where I’m from in Donegal, their like a Smith or a Jones – it’s a hard name to track down. So what I did with DNA – and I had this kind of in mind when I was doing it – is I got my cousin Martin, from Birmingham – second cousin – so he comes from the same family and we
both did the DNA test, and we figured if somebody matches Martin and somebody matches me, then they’re probably a cousin on that particular branch of the family. So we did the test and the results came
back quite good. We had, about at the time, 10 common cousins. So we sent off messages to all of them and
we had a couple of replies back and one of them in particular was kind of
interesting because I had actually seen on the paper trail the same username and I’d just been planning on contacting them. And they had information. In fact, they had this
particular letter which was the family history of that branch which was passed down. This particular letter was written in 1960 and it’s been in a drawer sitting in
California for 20-30 years and it had right in the middle of their
family history was this Gallagher family who was the pedigree, who was the parents, grandparents and so on. So it matched the paper evidence, so we had a new piece of evidence. So we had DNA evidence, we had a paper
trail, and we had a new piece of paper so they all added up and that’s what kind of, unlocked the mystery. So you used
fairly standard research protocol – you triangulated your research. So you had two bits of DNA, and they ultimately pointed this piece of history out to you. Yeah and that’s what you’re really
looking for, you’re looking for separate pieces of evidence that all
tell the same story. So we had DNA evidence. We also had
tree evidence and we had this letter and we had some paper evidence from some of
the records at the time but all of them point in the same direction and they all
build up the same picture. On their own, you would say they’re a maybe, but if you
put them all together it’s a much stronger story, much better evidence. So you not only get an answer to your question you also become the answer to somebody
else’s question and that’s how DNA can really power and drive some of those
answers to those long outstanding questions you might have had about your family history.

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