The Uncharted Territory of DNA Surprises

Guess what happened to me this week? Well, it may not be too hard to guess after reading the title… I sponsored a test for a 2nd cousin 1 removed with the testees nephew (who was as excited as I was) organizing everything.

Two days ago my email dinged with Ancestry alerting me that the results had arrived, and I thought “Let the discoveries begin!” Shortly thereafter a message arrived from said nephew, letting me know that he would be checking the results when he got off work. I decided to get a head-start and begin locating all the family connections.

The Surprise

And I have been absorbed ever since. You see the results did not match me or any other of the cousins that had tested.

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 4.15.11 PM

A match did show up to this person and they shared a grandfather/great grandfather in our DNA family tree. (This was a big clue in helping to pinpoint the break in our DNA tree.)



This chart was created after hearing about The McGuire Method created by Lauren McGuire on Blaine Bettinger’s blog. I used Lucid Chart to create mine which is free to use.


Now I had to figure out what I was seeing and do my best to explain it to the nephew. I was feeling overwhelmed, confused and shocked.

How do I pass this information along? Where was the disconnect in the family? I didn’t want to make any errors in my assessment so I posted a query on a Facebook page hoping someone would help me.

Thankfully there are many amazing genetic genealogists out there and one person was willing to help. We messaged back and forth and I shared Gedmatch kit numbers and answered questions.

The Hypothesis

My ‘helper’ came to the conclusion that the non-paternal event in the tree was back 2 more generations, the testee’s grandfather, which means the generation circled is the one where the misattributed parentage took place.

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 4.16.52 PM

This means that I am looking for an event that took place in 1865!!!


I now need to rethink what I say when asking someone to do a DNA test. I was aware to warn about recent potential surprises but it hadn’t been on my radar to even consider a surprise that had taken place generations ago.

After sharing the news with the nephew and giving it time to sink in, he is on-board with exploring this further to see where it takes us.

The DNA journey continues…

…with a wiser me at the helm.


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