I had the honor of helping solve an 87 year old mystery this past year. The following is a modified report presented to my client, who was born in 1932. All names and some identifying descriptions, such as ages and places have been changed.
Please note: The full report also included all sourced materials, including marriage licenses, death certificates, census reports, newspaper clippings etc. It also included family group sheets, charts of DNA matches, and other historical information as evidence of these findings.
To determine Lorena Candela’s biological father.
In 1932, Lorena Candela was born in Modesto, CA to a 17 year old woman. Lorena was never told who her father was, and assumed she would never find the answer. In 2017, Lorena took an Ancestry.com DNA test in hopes of learning more about her heritage and in 2019 turned to Family DNA Finder for help untangling her DNA matches.
When I first looked at Lorena’s Ancestry family DNA matches, I was able to quickly divide the majority of the matches into two groups: 1) Maternal & 2) Unknown, but presumably Paternal. I first marked each of the maternal results that she recognized from her mother’s family with a pink dot designating it as being from her mother’s side. Then I looked at each of those family members’ shared matches with Lorena and marked them also with a pink dot. Eventually I had about 45 people marked as being probable maternal side matches. Nearly all the people who had pink dots had some Italian ethnicity showing in their Ancestry results, which helped me know I was on the right track, as Lorena’s mother was Italian. I then looked at Lorena’s list of DNA matches and marked anyone who didn’t have a pink dot with a dark blue dot. This was the first division between maternal and paternal results. A pink dot meant maternal side; a dark blue dot meant paternal side.
My next step was to look at her highest paternal matches who were not her immediate family (because her son & granddaughter who had also tested would have both a pink & dark blue dot since they share DNA with both of Lorena’s maternal & paternal sides).
The two highest matches were Denise (229 cM) and Michael (222 cM). These two had a lot of DNA matches in common with each other, which led me to believe that they were from the same side of the family. I took a look at all of their shared matches, and marked them with a red dot. I then looked at the family trees of the shared matches and found a set of common ancestors, Ethan Wilson and Ida Keane. Using genetic genealogy charts, I could tell that Denise & Michael’s cM levels would have them be 3rd cousins or closer to Lorena. This meant that their shared ancestors, Ethan Wilson and Ida Keane, could be Lorena’s grandparents, great-grandparents or great-great grandparents. I created an extensive family tree for Ethan Wilson and Ida Keane, looking at each of their 8 known children and each of those children’s children, etc. The information was found using Ancestry databases & records, other family trees, obituaries, newspaper archives, social media posts, and other online records.
I then looked at the next set of Lorena’s matches that a) were not maternal matches, and b) also did not match the Wilson/Keane family. This was so I could perhaps find more shared sets of ancestors that would eventually divide into paternal grandparents or great-grandparents, etc. I found clusters of matches who shared sets of common ancestors, but because their shared cM with Lorena was relatively low, it wasn’t completely obvious how they all fit in. The highest match who didn’t match Denise or Michael was Raymond at 96 cM. I was able to build a family tree for him and several of his shared matches with Lorena and found that many of them had a shared ancestor with the name Apfel. I marked them all down with a light blue dot, even though I wasn’t quite sure which Apfel ancestor they all came from.
After Raymond, the next set of matches that didn’t match him or Denise or Michael, were DNA matches who had Gregory Lloyd as an ancestor. I marked them with an orange dot.
I found more clusters, and color coded them, but it still wasn’t clear how they all fit in.
I went back and decided to focus on Ethan & Ida Wilson’s son, Jefferson Wilson. A few pieces of information immediately came to light. First, Jefferson Wilson had married a daughter of Gregory Lloyd & Josephine Apfel, named Joan Lloyd. If you recall, two of my separate clustered groups had Gregory Lloyd & the Apfel family as ancestors. So here were two separate families that had DNA matches to Lorena coming together. Then I looked at Jefferson & Joan’s offspring to see if anything stood out. They had four children, but only one lived into adulthood, a daughter named Rebecca Wilson. Rebecca had married a man named Jacob Waters. They had two sons, but one died when he was 4 years old. The other son was Jason Waters. I decided to look at Lorena’s DNA matches and see if any of them had Waters in their family trees. I found 6 that I could directly link to Jason Waters’s great-grandfather Nathaniel Waters, plus dozens more that also were shared matches with those 6 in the cluster. Then I looked at who Jason’s other paternal relatives were, and found that his paternal grandmother was Christa Kirk. I looked to see if Lorena had any DNA matches with Kirk descendants, and found at least 5 that I could find a direct connection to Christa Kirk’s father Harrison Kirk. So, to recap, out of Jason Waters’ 4 sets of great-grandparents (Waters, Kirk, Wilson, Lloyd), Lorena had multiple DNA matches with descendants of all in the 2nd-4th cousin range (229 cm-40 cM).
With this information at hand, I went to look at Jason’s history to see if there was a chance that he could also have been in Modesto in the late part of 1931 or early 1932. Right now, there isn’t anything that links him to Modesto, however, he moved from Kentucky to Sacramento by the time the 1930 census was taken. In 1932, when Lorena was born, he would have been 19, and Lorena’s mother was 17. The geography isn’t a perfect match, but all of the DNA links to his family living in Kansas, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and only this family unit, with this set of diverse ancestors, moved to the Central Valley, which Modesto and Sacramento are part of.
I can find no other instances of members of this Lloyd family and this Wilson family marrying, nor of this Wilson & Waters families marrying or producing offspring. Since Rebecca Wilson, an only child (past childhood), & Jacob Waters, an only child, did not have any other known offspring that lived past childhood, there is only one likely option to be Lorena’s biological father, and that is Jason Waters.