ROOTS-L Archives

Archiver > ROOTS > 2003-08 > 1060815760

Subject: [ROOTS-L] DNA
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2003 19:02:40 EDT

I have been following this DNA debate with great interest. Right up
front I'll say that I am in favor of using DNA to locate missing links in our
family tree. For well over 30 years we have tried to no avail to figure out what
happened to my grandfather's younger brother. Family legend says that
"Charlie" got on a horse around the year 1900 and rode away. No one knew where he was
or what he was doing. Attemps were made to locate him in 1963 when his older
brother, Robert, passed away. All attemps to locate him failed.
We finally got a clue about Charlie with the placement of a query on
the Mitchell family message board. Subsequent info seemed to verify that
Charlie and Robert were indeed brothers or at least had the same mother, Jane
Mitchell. I say "at least" because a strange bit of evidence kept throwing us.
Robert was born in 1878. In 1880 he and his mother were living in Mississippi; she
is shown on that census as a widow. Three years later, another son, Charlie,
is born. Lo and behold, she names him Mitchell as well. How could that be if
she was a widow three years earlier with the same surname? Well, there's good
reason to believe the boys were born out of wedlock, but that's another story.
Now for the DNA part. We had already established that Robert possessed
Huntley DNA (his grandson's DNA matched a Huntley family living there at the
time of Grandad's birth) instead of Mitchell DNA through DNA testing of a
Mitchell cousin. Our burning question became, "Did Robert and Charlie have the
same dad?" It turns out that Charlie had died in 1940, and his children were no
longer living. He did have a grandson still alive in Louisiana, though. We
didn't want to confuse our "new" cousin with the Huntley connection until we knew
that they had the same father. This new Mitchell cousin submitted a DNA
specimen. The DNA testing revealed a perfect match. Robert and Charlie had the same
father, and he wasn't a Mitchell.
We've spent over 30 years getting to this point. We could have spent
another 30 years or gone to the grave without ever finding out what we now know
with the DNA evidence to answer our questions. You researchers that think
good old fashioned cemetery, courthouse, census searching will provide all the
answers you need to know may never find out who shared great-grandma's bedroom
125 years ago. You do it your way, however, and I'll do it mine. Will we
continue to search cemeteries, courthouses and census records to name a few items?
You bet, but sometimes you'll need DNA for a new lead or verification of data
in your possession. Happy hunting. O. Ray Dodson

This thread: