Monday, August 07, 2006

Tidewater Swishers and a Special DNA Story

I spoke this weekend to the Tidewater Genealogical Society in Newport News, VA, and boy, did I have a good time! As you can see from the photo, they were a game bunch and some were even kind enough to join the Swishers Club (that is, folks who immediately take the SMGF tests I bring to my events!).

What was especially fun for me is that I was given a whopping 2.5 hours (with a 10 minute break) to talk about various types of DNA testing. What a luxury! That allowed me to explain all sorts of nuances, share lots of examples and answer tons of questions. I appreciated this format because I felt that folks left knowing a lot more than they did before they arrived. So thanks to the Tidewater Genealogical Society for giving me all that time -- and for the swanky digs as well! Just love places with all the latest high-tech toys!

I also wanted to share a terrific application of Y-DNA testing I heard from one of the fellows who attended. It's a classic example of the personal history mysteries (you know, those whispered tales many of us have in our families?) that can be tackled via DNA testing.

A gentleman named Bob (I'm withholding his surname for now) shared his rather remarkable story. His mother died when he was only 6, and his father always denied Bob -- insisted that his mother had had an affair with a particular fellow and that Bob was that man's child. Bob spent his whole life believing this, so when he ventured into the world of DNA testing, he tracked down a grandson (son of a son) of his alleged father. Fortunately, the fellow agreed to get tested (at Bob's expense, of course!). Bob was stunned when the results arrived and he and this other fellow didn't match -- not even close. So after all these years, he learned he wasn't this other man's son.

So he then took the next obvious step. He had four brothers, all now deceased, but one of his nephews agreed to get tested. You guessed it -- a perfect match. The man who had denied he was Bob's father all these years truly was his father. Sadly, he's no longer with us, but Bob had finally ended 60 years of wondering just the day before this event in Newport News and generously shared his experience with all of us. He was still trying to take it all in. 60 years of not knowing ended with three Y-DNA tests. That's pretty powerful in my view.

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