Our latest innovation from AncestryDNA makes it possible to find your ancestors using just DNA. We call it New Ancestor Discoveries, and Gloria, an AncestryDNA customer, found out exactly how powerful this technology can be.
Gloria was born and raised in Honduras. Her parents divorced when she was little, and she had limited contact with her father. She knew her paternal grandfather, Arcadio Lopez, growing up in Honduras, and he hadn’t known his father either, but his mother, Bernardina Lopéz, had always claimed that an American named “Alberto Becker” was Gloria’s great-grandfather. She also said that Alberto had been shot by his brother and died in Honduras. As in many families, stories get passed down, but Gloria really wondered if this one was true?
Later in life Gloria started her journey to find out who her great-grandfather really was. With a name in hand, “Alberto Becker,” and a possible name for his father, Rufino, she set out. She started a tree with the information she knew and a question: is Alberto Becker my great-grandfather?
Gloria reached out to her father, and after reconnecting with him, she found out that he had changed his name from Lopez to Baker after becoming an U.S. resident. When she asked about the change, he said, “That’s what it should have been.” Baker when said in Spanish sounds like Becker. Gloria had been looking for the wrong name for years. But there still wasn’t any proof that an Alberto Baker was actually her great-grandfather.
Armed with the right name―Baker not Becker―she turned to Ancestry and found New Orleans Passenger Lists and U.S. Consular Registration Certificates with a Dr. Rufus Baker and his sons, Edward and Albert, entering and leaving Honduras multiple times from New Orleans starting in the year 1904. Was this Albert in fact her “Alberto”? And could Albert’s father, Rufus, be the Rufino her great-grandmother remembered. It certainly looked possible, but it wasn’t proof enough for Gloria, so she kept searching.
She used the new information she had uncovered to track down more about Albert Baker on Ancestry. Looking at public trees that were sourced and documented, Gloria found Albert’s parents: Rufus, son of Abraham Baker and Rebecca Good, and Clara Conrad, daughter of John Conrad and Rebecca Snyder. But this only proved that there was an Albert Baker who existed―it still didn’t confirm that he was her grandfather’s father. And what about Albert getting shot? Gloria did more digging through unindexed Honduran records and found that Edward (Albert’s older brother) had accidentally shot him at home. According to the death record, Albert was buried in Honduras on a ranch that unfortunately doesn’t exist today. But the record also said that he was single and listed no children. Everything fit, except this last piece. If this Albert really had no children, was this her family’s Albert?
That’s when Gloria turned to AncestryDNA. Every person inherits DNA from their two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. This is what makes DNA a valuable record we can use to connect us to others. While each of us gets half of our genetic material from Mom and half from Dad, even our siblings (barring identical twins) don’t receive exactly the same halves of our parents’ DNA, which means that everyone’s DNA is unique.
Soon after her results came back, Gloria received a New Ancestor Discovery pointing to a Joseph Good. This meant she genetically matched others who had Joseph Good in their tree. But who was this Joseph Good born in Virginia in the late 1700s? And how was Gloria connected to him?
By looking at the family trees of people in the Joseph Good DNA Circle she found out that Joseph Good had a daughter named Rebecca who married Abraham Baker who were the parents of Rufus, Albert’s father. Joseph Good was the great-grandfather of Albert Baker, who fathered Gloria’s grandfather, Arcadio. It turned out that Great-grandmother Bernardina was right! And now Gloria had proof. After years of research, DNA and her genetic cousins let her confirm and extend her family tree back to Joseph Good.
This is the power of DNA. AncestryDNA can help us answer questions on any of our family lines—this one just happened to be Gloria’s paternal line. Now she’s on to the next mystery: who were the parents’ of Bernardina Lopez? Gloria is hoping DNA will help her uncover that side of the family now. The good news is she doesn’t have to take another DNA test to research that line, so she has already started searching through her DNA matches for connections.
If you’re leaving DNA out of your research, your research isn’t done. DNA and record research go hand in hand to help verify and extend our family story. Learn more what DNA can do for you.