I have a 1st cousin

I have a 1st cousin match on AncestryDNA….no tree attached and no more details. I’ve sent a message but it’s common for people not to respond if they aren’t regular users of Ancestry but let me reiterate – I HAVE A FIRST COUSIN MATCH…we share grandparents! I’m gonna die!

This is a Facebook status update I never thought in a million years I’d get to post but on Sunday 5th March 2017 I did.

Timeline of events….

Saturday  March 4 at approximately 4.35pm (or thereabouts)  

Driving home with MOTH after visiting his Mum I was chatting on and on about Ancestry and my DNA cousins knowing full well the only audience in the car was me.  What I did say to him that will be etched in my mind  forever, “if a close cousin match ever appears in my DNA list, I will scream the house down“, emotionally not literally as I’m not a screamer #innuendomuch.

Almost immediately of arriving home, I made my way to my study to check if I had new cousins and MOTH left to walk the 3.5 minutes to the nearby grocery store to get some food for dinner along with my life blood, wine.

My Chrome startup page

I sat at my desk, turned on my computer and waited for the obligatory start-up routine. Once ready to go I selected the Ancestry icon from the Google startup page which consists of Ancestry,  Hotmail, Gedmatch, FamilyTreeDNA, FindingAnneWatkins and the last search page that is generally on the topic of genealogy or the likes.

As Ancestry.com emerged ready for action, I selected the Ancestry icon, hit the DNA menu then “Your DNA Results Summary” from the drop list.  When I looked that morning I had 61 4th cousins or closer, it now showed 62. I paused and thought, please please let this be a close cousin. I selected the link waited for the list to emerge. As my eyes focused on the emerging list, I thought they were playing tricks on me, was that a 1st cousin I saw.  I blinked several times, am I tired and my mind playing tricks?  Is this my list or one of my other cousins who have shared their results with me?

My eyes darted from the list to the heading where it says “AncestryDNA Results for Kitty Leigh” and yes it certainly was my list. The realisation set in:

I have a first cousin

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Me, the one who decided I’d be the only one in the world that would never see this result. I noticed they didn’t have a family tree attached. Well of course they didn’t, I wouldn’t be so lucky!  I selected the VIEW MATCHES button.  This opens the next page that provides more details about the match.

The next page told me that the DNA kit was administered by someone with a very common name but the kit I was related to was was called J.B. A quick google search on the administrator’s name was pointless, try googling common anglo names and you’ll get the picture.  From this same page I could select a SHARED MATCHES link to see if we had any shared cousin matches, we had four:

  • my son Josh
  • my 3rd cousin Fred.  Fred was on my list as a result of his sister Mary coming up as a 2nd-3rd cousin on another site called FamilyTreeDNA. Mary has been a wonderful help trying to identify the ancestry line we share.  When she asked me what company to get her brother Fred to test at, I recommended Ancestry #unpaidadvertising
  • 2 x 4th cousins that appeared in the last 2 weeks. Both of which I’ve sent messages to through the Ancestry messaging system, and to date no reply.

I didn’t appear to be related to the administrator or they may not have taken the test. There was no indication of the country of origin, only that he was Male, 60+, had a degree and was retired.

I was in shock. I paced the room, looking at the information on the screen before me.  What should I do next?

The only option was to send a message.

I realised this message could be one of the most important I will ever send, at least up until that point in my life.  In true form I started to catastrophize:

  • they won’t reply and I’ll see them every-time I open Ancestry teasing me with the holy grail – my family identify, at least one-half of the family.
  • they’ll remove their account realising they may have opened a huge can of worms.

I knew I had to word this message carefully, without giving anything away and without scaring them.

Saturday  March 4 at approximately 5.45pm (or thereabouts)  I sent the message.  The only thing to do now was wait!

Hi,

You administer a DNA kit that has just popped up as a 1st cousin match. I’d be very interested in finding how I’m related to J.B. My name is Kitty and I live in Sydney.

Regards
Kitty

Sunday March 5 at approximately 3.30am (or thereabouts) I see I have an Ancestry message from J.B’s administrator.

I can’t breath!

Hi Kitty,

I have no idea how we are connected! I have family in Australia but they are all Williams, does that help you?

Janie

Names do help but I really wanted to see a family tree as this may help me identify familiar names after all I’ve been working with hundreds of ancestry trees over the years and I have a list of re-occurring names that seem to appear over and over again but almost none I could connect to my story.  I needed to get more information so a series of messages followed.

Hi Janie

Can I ask where you are located? I do know that the relation ship is probably through the Irish family from Limerick. This is through another cousin (Fred) who you will see on their list.

Regards
Kitty

Hi Kitty

 I don’t have any Irish relatives. Williams is welsh, I also had a grandmother with Lindsay as a surname, originally from Scotland. My mother’s family were from Vienna, Austria.  I live in Canada. My uncle in Australia was Donald Williams.

Regards
Janie

Hi Janie

I don’t know where to begin but the DNA count we share indicates we are 1st cousins. That means we share grandparents.
I’m adopted, I was born in Sydney. My birth mother said her name was Watkins from Victoria Australia and that my birth father was English nationality – no name given. It’s my guess this is the connection.

I’ve been searching for over 35 years for birth family and you are the closest family to date, besides my kids and grandkids. To say this is overwhelming for me is an understatement. I do hope you’re open to helping me unlock this mystery.

Regards
Kitty

Hi Kitty,

I can only imagine how overwhelming this is for you. My uncle Donald Williams emigrated to Australia in the late 1950’s and settled in Sydney with his wife. He is the best possibility!!  He has a daughter by his first wife who lives in Brisbane and a son by his second who now lives in England. Our ancestors Were Watkins-Williams from Wales , that’s going back at least 6 generations. Another possibility is your mothers side?
I hope that might help a little,
keep me posted

Regards
Janie

Janie’s last message rang bells.  My father was 40 when I was born so I always suspected I was a result of an affair. I plugged his name into Ancestry search and 2 Census records appeared show a Donald Williams living in Double Bay 1968 and again 1972. I have full Ancestry membership so I can open the scanned version of the actual Census list.  I scrolled to the bottom of the page to the Wi’s and there it was “Donald Williams Company Director” AND he lived one street away from the boarding house where my birth mother was living.

OMG OMG OMG, I think it’s him!

Since about 1991 I knew my birth father was a Company Director, at least that’s what my birth mother Anne told the Social Worker when she was doing the paperwork to put me up for adoption.  The second Census record showed him as a Film Producer.  Now this second record really confirmed to me this was the man and I was just about to break this case wide open.  My heart was racing, my head was going over every detail I had memorised since I read the information provided me in the 90s. What Anne told the Social Worker was starting now to ring true.  I had always hoped that although giving a false name, she’d have the consideration to give me some clue as to the type of people they were.  She said my Grand Father was a Film Producer and his brother an actor.  Once I plugged Donald Williams details into google +Film Director, I was facing the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) of Donald, his father and his brother.

Hi Janie

OMG…OMG…I think it’s Donald.

Here is a link to a blog I started years ago. On this page is all the info I have on my birthmother and the info she gave me about my birth father. https://findingannewatkins.com/about-anne/

I see that Donald was a film director in Sydney and lived in the same suburb my birth mother did. 

Your forever grateful cousin.
Kitty

With the many messages that followed, Janie filled me in on the complicated family I was born into.  Three sons of a Silent Film Star who by all accounts had a rough upbringing by neglectful parents who seemed to be more interested in film and fame. There was so much more to learn and in the coming days so many more people to talk to over the phone and on the following Tuesday I meet my first cousin Andrew who is Janie’s half-brother.  Within 2 weeks I’d have a flight booked to Melbourne to meet some of Janie’s other half-siblings and their Mum who I had spoken to the day I found out, I fell in love with her immediately.  I learnt I had a half-brother and half-sister but the Aussie cousins haven’t kept in touch with them so contact was going to prove difficult.

Over the coming week or so, more confirmation of the family connection submerged wiping away any doubt.  This was a 35 year search I thought would never end and I wasn’t taking any chances that this find was going to be taken away from me.

What followed the following weekend,  not me or anyone would have guessed.

Imagine if I had given up
Imagine if I lost the will to find
No, I couldn’t imagine giving up
and I couldn’t imagine not finding.
I imagined and now it’s true
Imagine!

Author: Kitty

First and foremost I'm a busy working mother, grandmother and mother-in-law. I was brought up in a small country town but I've lived and worked in Sydney for over 17 years. I'm a slack blogger because life and earning a living gets in the way.

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