DNA Research Really Helps Track Down Relatives
No doubt everyone is aware of how important DNA research is these days. Many mysteries are being solved using DNA data forensically in both genealogy and cold crime cases. Simply by submitting a saliva sample to one of many companies that process DNA, you can be a part of huge databases that might connect you previously unknown cousins. This happened in our family recently and I’d like to share that story with you today.
Via 23andMe, I was contacted by Ray Warthen of California, my second cousin once removed. His grandmother and my great grandmother were sisters in my Gatlin line. Nora Gatlin married Charley Hogue 22 Feb 1903 in Ardmore, Indian Territory. Ray noted that he and I share 2.87% of common DNA, and knew of the Hogues in that area, so he reached out to me a couple of years ago. Anyway, he shared the following story about a new cousin he discovered from Hawaii. I’ll let him tell it, edited only slightly, for space considerations, as follows:
Curiosity From an Unfamiliar Surname
“One of the closest matches I had (on 23andMe) was with a “Shawn Suzuki” in Hawaii. I was curious and contacted him to find out how we could be related, but he said he was just trying to find out health info, not relatives. He was adopted at birth in Hawaii by a loving family.
“A few days later Shawn contacted me saying I had, in fact, piqued his interest. That began communications trying to determine who Shawn’s mysterious bio father was. All he knew was his bio mother was a young Japanese girl in HI and his bio father was a young gentleman in the military. I worked on my end to figure out the possibilities among my uncles and cousins, with no answers. Finally, Hawaii passed a law that allowed adopted children to have records unsealed to determine the names of parents.
A New Law Helps Adopted Children
“Shawn’s father turned out to be Jerry Keith Pipins, one of 2 sons of Alta Faye Chitwood, born 4 Sept 1924, who was first married to J.B. “Red” Pipins when she was a very young girl. When the boys were young, Red left Oklahoma with the boys for CA. For many years, Alta did not know their whereabouts and when she did find out she was in no position to get them back to OK. At least was able to be in touch and resume contact with them. The rest of our family had little contact with the boys.
“As we found out digging into records, Jerry Keith was in the Air Force and stationed on the Big Island in 1966. When Jerry’s girlfriend, Amy, became pregnant, Jerry was about to return to the mainland. So Jerry gave full custodial rights to Amy and she decided to give the baby up for adoption at birth. Shawn, the baby boy born that year, was adopted by the Suzuki’s.
DNA Makes A Connection
“We told Shawn he had a grandmother, Alta Faye, still living, the last of her generation. So my sister, Barbara, volunteered to go up from TX to OK to break the news to her. At first, she did not believe it, because she was sure her son Jerry, who passed away in 1995, would have told her. Then, the next day, when it sank in, she began to get excited. We gave Alta pictures and letters, and when Shawn was sure he wasn’t intruding into her life, he began corresponding. In the process, Shawn also found out he had a half sister who lives in southern CA.
“Finally, early last year, Shawn took a trip to meet Alta. By then, her health was declining, and she was in a nursing home in Marietta, OK. Then, in June of last year, Shawn brought his family to Marietta. It was a beautiful meeting for all. Shawn and his family got together with my brother, Wayne, and my sister Barb and her husband. Then they all came out to CA so we could meet them all. All of our family has been very welcoming to our new cousin, and he is so thankful now to have found new family.
“Unfortunately, Alta passed away on 1 Feb of this year. So as sad a time as this is for everyone, there was joy in Alta meeting her “new” grandson and great grandchildren, and vice-versa. As Shawn said, without Alta, he would not have had his life.
“So this is a good DNA story, and I wanted to share with you. Regards, Ray”
A good story, indeed. Well done, Ray! I’d like to thank Ray Warthen and Shawn Suzuki for being kind enough to give me permission to post this awesome story on my blog. Shawn and I only share .53% of our DNA, but we’re still cousins and it’s really cool to find out more about him. Welcome to the family! To return to the Home Page, click here. If you want to see more about DNA databases, click here. They aren’t paying me for that link, I just like them!