Posted by Ancestry Team on July 22, 2015 in AncestryDNA

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?

AncestryDNA Solves 100 year old mystery

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.

AncestryDNA Solves 100 year old mystery-2Armed 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 Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 12.09.23 PMtheir 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.

AncestryDNA solves 100 year old family mystery-2

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.


  1. This post raises the question of what can be considered “proof” in using DNA for genealogy, and what does “confirm” really mean?

    As tempting as it is, just because you share a bit of a chromosome with someone else who happens to be related to a rumored ancestor of yours, is that really “proof” that the rumor is true?

  2. Jan Murphy

    What is wrong with this picture? Your team member writes “Our latest innovation from AncestryDNA makes it possible to find your ancestors using just DNA” — and then goes on to describe in nearly 500 words how Gloria assembled her paper trail and created a tree before she used Ancestry DNA. That’s not “nothing but DNA”. That’s “DNA plus a family story”. That’s “DNA plus a paper trail”, no matter how limited the paper trail may be.

    Many adoptees from states whose adoption records are closed have absolutely NOTHING but their DNA. If their adoption papers were not saved and passed on to them in the family, they have no names to go on — not even surnames. Their original birth certificate is not available to them. They have NOTHING.

    I think it’s great to show how Gloria was able to use the limited information she had from this family story in conjunction with AncestryDNA, but to say that AncestryDNA was able to solve her puzzle from NOTHING is a slap in the face to all adoptees who actually have NOTHING. Shame on you, Ancestry.

  3. scwbcm

    I tried to post this elsewhere but couldn’t so I have to put this here. I tried to give what I thought was helpful feedback on the New Ancestry but it didn’t process my feedback nor would it return me to the original ancestry. Please let me do both. I am not saying I won’t return to New Ancestry but I need time to transition and learn the new. I am not a new person and according to previous comments there should be no problem with me returning to where I was.

  4. anon

    scwbcm… you really need to go through the Help or Feedback system… posting your troubles onto an entertaining blog post really isn’t likely to get you ANY help from, unless someone takes pity and send you a private message. The Help system should get you where you need to be, and not have to resort to miscellaneous posts in left field.

  5. Barbara

    This past weekend, I was touched by the Ancestry Angels. A researched contacted me asking about my mother’s half-brother. We corresponded a bit and I discovered she was researching for a neighbor, AR. And this is the story of what happened:

    … AR’s father passed away two years ago. ARs father knew nothing of his own father’s family and AR grew up not even knowing her Grandpa’s name. (Evidently there was a bitter parting and AR’s Grandmother wouldn’t talk about it; not even to her own son.)

    After her father’s death, AR & her siblings longed to find out more about their dad — where did he come from? Who were their grandparents and great grandparents? And, I suppose, also … Who are WE?

    After the Dads’s death they discovered their Grandpa’s name. So, their friend did a little search, found him in the census, found my tree and emailed me with clarification questions. After the whole sad story came out, I said I would be happy to talk with AR.

    Turns out they are my second cousins 1x removed. AR & her brother were listening and near tears when they discovered that their father was named after their Grandpa’s own beloved brother and that AR’s brother also carried the same name.

    We’ve since connected on social media and they are all so excited that they finally know who their family is. And while they will never be able to recover the relationships lost, they have connected to their roots and I have more living cousins.

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