A few months ago I posted this picture on my personal Facebook page. I had seen it on a private forum for people who are searching for lost family by using simple direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits. A lovely woman called Carol, from the UK, posted this photograph of the man she believed was her maternal grandfather, Philip Holmes. She had never met him. Her mother had grown up not knowing her father and the name and the picture were the only pieces of information they ever had.
Carol was frustrated with the search. Her Mum had DNA-tested with Ancestry.com. Most of her DNA matches were distant – 5th to 8th cousins, meaning that they shared a set of 4th great-grandparents or beyond. That can be very hard to trace, even if you can identify the ancestor you have in common. The majority of her results appeared to connect to her grandmother’s side.
I started working with Carol, analyzing her DNA results and thoroughly going through her matches. I will be posting more on the story in the near future, but I am happy to say that we were able to solve this 80-year-old mystery last week. One new DNA connection, and a great family tree meant that we were finally able to connect Carol’s Mum by DNA to a man called Philip Holmes who was born in 1903. There comes a point in DNA searching where the paper trail and the DNA line up, and this was it. We had found our Philip.
Sadly Carol’s Mum had been unwell and passed away the day after I was able to confirm the match. She is heartbroken at the loss of her Mum, but wants to continue the search to see if we can find living descendants of Philip. She has given me full permission to write about the search, which I hope to do sometime in the future, at a more appropriate time.
In the meantime I have 2 other people I am working with in search of missing relatives. The work is long, slow and detail-oriented but the results are game-changing for the field of genealogy and literally life-changing for the people involved.