Clues Lead Us To A New Cousin

Hello, and welcome back to The Hogue Connection! Today we are going to look at another shared DNA mystery. With a little input from the families involved and some good detective work, the many clues lead us to a new cousin. The results were unexpected, and a new family line was created.

I really believe it pays to collaborate with others if you want to grow your family tree. Although there are many “DNA Tourists” out there (as observed by Connie Knox at GenealogyTV.Com), you can get lucky every once in awhile by finding a cousin who will share info with you. As you know, there are a large number of companies that allow you to submit your DNA for testing. They will take the results and then compare it to their database and create a list of “shared matches” for you.

A  DNA Tourist is someone who only submitted a DNA sample to learn about their ancestral composition but is not interested in building their family tree. Or, collaborating with anyone else for that matter. I have over 75,000 matches on four sites, and very few contacts as a result, probably less than ten.

Like I said, sometimes you get lucky.

Our Niece Andrea Has A Surprise result!

Andrea, the daughter of Jane’s late sister, Donna, and her husband, Phil, submitted her DNA to 23andMe right after she became pregnant with her first child. Having a kid gets some people excited about their family history! When she got her report back, a man named Donald B. came back on the list as a first cousin. Andrea was pretty sure she had met all of her first cousins, but had never heard of a Donald B.

She called us and her dad trying to find out what was going on. It looked like this guy was born in the 1930’s, which would make him about 50 years older than her. We knew that he was from Brooklyn, New York, too. So armed with those three pieces of information, I started digging into census records, and Andrea sent an internal message to Donald to see if she could get a response.

More Clues Start Painting A Picture

Turns out Donald had passed away 20 Feb 2020 and his daughter was administering his 23andMe account. She was kind enough to give us his birth date, which made it easier to review the census reports. I was able to track him down in the 1940 census and started putting a little bit of history about him. Donald’s daughter said that his ancestry composition came back at close to 50% Italian, which was didn’t make any sense based on what she knew about his heritage.

We know that Andrea’s paternal grandmother’s parents both came over from Italy. Her great grandfather in 1895, and great grandmother in 1902. So, based on the amount of DNA shared at the first cousin level, we assumed that Donald was somehow connected to her family through this branch related to and/or descended from someone in her grandmother’s generation. Those children were born between 1905 and 1917.

The Brooklyn Connection

Working with a few more clues from Donald’s daughter, we focused our research efforts on the two oldest sons in the Italian branch of the family, namely, Michael F. G____ and his next youngest brother, James Philip G____ , later known as Duffy. (There are still living descendants of all of these people, so I’m trying to keep things as private as I can.) Since Donald was born in 1935, we were looking for guys to be of proper fathering age, at these two fit the bill.

The G____ family ran an ice manufacturing company in Lawrence, MA, about 235 mile northeast of Brooklyn, NY. Michael, the oldest son, was heavily involved in the business with his father and lived in Lawrence his entire life. All of the sons worked there at one time or another, and sales prospered until after 1940.  Duffy and Michael started an automotive accessory operation sometime in the mid 30’s. Which one of the sons was hanging around New York in 1935? The Brooklyn connection had yet to be found.

A Family Tip Helps Find More Clues

I can’t recall the order of events here, but one thing did lead to another. I should have written down some more of these facts when this all went down over a year ago. Anyway, we got a story that Donald was visited occasionally by a soldier when he was about eight or nine years old, around 1942 or 1943. The soldier would bring him gifts and hang around the house for a bit, much to the chagrin of Donald’s father, Sigmund. I started looking at the possibility of one of the brothers being in the military.

I found the connection in clues in Duffy’s hints on Ancestry.com in the form of his Draft Card. It had three addresses on it; one in Lawrence, MA and two in New York City, written in red ink. The Lawrence address and the one listing the Bronx, N.Y.C. were crossed out, with the West 46th Street, N.Y.C. remaining as current. Duffy served in the U.S. Army from 3 Mar 1942 to 13 Jan 1946. We can’t pinpoint exactly where Duffy was in 1934, but the circumstantial evidence, including the DNA results, likely puts him in Brooklyn on a date with Donald’s mother Alice. Attending an auto parts convention, perhaps?

Is This A Sure Thing?

No one can know for sure. The people with the real story have long since passed. Alice was born in 1906 and sometime after Sigmund’s death in 1963, moved to Florida passing away there in 1978. Duffy passed away in California in 1970. Did Sigmund know about the affair or not? Did he just pretend it didn’t happen? I don’t know that either.

One of the last clues that confirmed the story, for me at least, was another story from Donald’s daughter. She said that her dad always used the word Duffy in his computer passwords. She never did ask him why, but thought it was strange. Nonetheless, I believe she was satisfied with the results of our investigation.

I think Donald knew who his bio dad really was. The 23andMe test likely confirmed it in his mind. We need some more stories from our new family!

Another family mystery?

One of my Oklahoma (and Hawaii) family connections (also through 23andMe) has recently run into the same issue. Another mysterious first cousin just popped up in their shared matches list. They are currently trying to track that one down. I haven’t heard any updates in a couple of weeks. I wish them luck! Who knows? Could be another blog post possibility.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m working on an article about the Hogue families that lived in the Indian Territory in 1900 for my next post. Thanks for reading my blog, and happy hunting in your genealogy research. You can return to the Home Page here.

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