Posted by Ancestry Team on December 16, 2015 in Website

After years of researching her European ancestry, JoLynn was surprised to discover a document that indicated one of her great-grandmothers was of African descent. Without more of a paper trail to follow, she took an AncestryDNA test to confirm her ethnicity results and discovered MUCH more!

Ancestry: What inspired you to trace your family using AncestryDNA?Carol, Jo Lynn, Lynn

JoLynn: I found a document on my paternal 3rd great grandmother that identified her as a “free woman of color.”  I was so intrigued that I did a DNA test and my results showed that I am 4% Southeastern Bantu.

Ancestry: How would you describe your level of personal family history knowledge before getting started on Ancestry or taking the AncestryDNA test?

JoLynn: My family history knowledge before using Ancestry and before being DNA tested was okay, but limited.  It’s infinitely easier researching online with all the databases that Ancestry has and much quicker than the old days of ordering and searching through microfilm!

Ancestry: Tell us about your research approach once you were matched with possible cousins.

JoLynn: When I got the match for my sisters, the match said we were “close to 1st cousins.”  I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly.  I was not aware of any other siblings so I assumed we were cousins. I wrote to them first, calling them “cousin.”  It only took about eight emails back and forth, before we realized we are not cousins. We are half-sisters and share the same father! All three of us were super excited, but it was especially exciting for my sisters since they had been given up for adoption at birth, and had finally connected with a blood relative.  I was able to provide them with family pictures of our grandparents and beyond.

I’ve also been matched with cousins on both my maternal and paternal sides.  I’ve also contacted cousins that I’m related to through slavery on a few of my lines.  We haven’t determined which ancestors we are connected through yet, but we are working on it.

Ancestry: What were the reactions of your family members when you shared the information you discovered?

JoLynn: My mother, who is 88 years old, was very surprised.  She was not aware that my biological father had fathered twins before he married her.  My sisters that I grew up with were equally surprised. (We are actually half-sisters too. We all three have the same mother, but different fathers.) They would like to get tested now as well to see where their results will lead them.  I am only referring to my sisters as half-sisters for clarification.  I love all my sisters dearly.

Ancestry: What was experience of meeting your sisters for the first time?

JoLynn: When I got to meet my “new” sisters for the first time it was so exciting and I was so nervous.  They live only a 5-hour drive away from me. They are identical twins, and they are so fun and funny to be around.  They had so many questions.  We talked and talked ’til our throats were sore from talking. This whole experience has been so amazing.  We are not only sisters, but friends for life.

Ancestry: Has the experience of finally locating your long-lost family changed you in any way?

JoLynn: This whole experience of finding new family is wonderful.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  I don’t know if the experience has changed me in any way.  It has made me more aware that anything is possible.  Don’t be afraid.  Find out what you can. You may find out more than you ever thought possible.

Have an Ancestry member success story? Share it with us by visiting Ancestry.com/stories and you may be featured in a future member spotlight. 

18 Comments

  1. Cheryl Askew

    What a wonderful story! I can’t imagine trying to find blood ancestors when you’ve been adopted, and you managed to find sisters too.
    My 10x grandmother was Huron/Wendat and I am so proud to be a part of a First Nation community. My Ancestry DNA didn’t show this part as it was so long ago but using the data in another on-line program allowed me to see the 0.17% Amerindian in me.
    Congratulations on all the discoveries you have experienced due to DNA testing! Love it!

  2. Claire

    What an amazing result. My only wish is that the matched cousins I have contacted would contact me back ! I have so much to share and would love to be able to report on such an unexpected find. Although I am pretty certain none of mine will be as amazing as JoLynn’s 🙂

  3. Mary Yetter

    Great story! I have personally met two cousins since I got my DNA results last winter. I’ve also corresponded with many!

  4. sandra

    Look into John D Duff from Cortland, New York.Born 1941 -1981 was married to Marie Nye
    trying to find out his father parents were
    any information would be gratful

  5. Angela

    Wow congratulations. What a wonderful discovery for all involved. And Oh My Goodness how you look like your twin sisters!

  6. Heather

    Fantastic story, but again it took 8 emails to figure out they were sister because of Ancestry’s confusing prediction of Close Family to 1st, which never includes a 1st cousin so why say 1st????

  7. Ruth

    Congratulations on locating your sisters! Great story! Thanks to Ancestry DNA I have confirmed my mothers birth fathers family. I’m in touch with a first cousin who is nothing but helpful and kind.

  8. Jennifer

    There is really a disconnect within the Ancestry Corp. The page that shows how everything is working is saying everything is working fine. No problem! Do the really not know about the relationship calculator not working with all the posts!

  9. Alison

    Congratulations, our father has no idea of who his parents were, he was taken in not adopted and same for our mom’s side. What type of results might I get from the DNA test, I imagine it could say Irish-english_Spanish of is it more specific then that? Confused

  10. First of all, please do not patronize me! I find this insulting, since it assumes I am stupid – anything but. There is nothing to like about this new Anc. I was under the impression that although Ancestry would include my info in its available search, my tree would be affected only by ME. If I need a novel, I am quite capable of writing it. The profile page is completely destroyed. In addition to the scattered format and the gaudy, distracting blobs of color, the setup is horrible and disorganized. It made sense to have info concerning the principle of that profile concentrated on the left and parents, children, siblings on the right. Also, facts such as death, etc. should be tied only to the appropriate person and not inserted on the right. The extra narrative is also unwelcome. The Old Ancestry had it right – factual, clear, organized and USABLE. My reaction to the New since the afternoon I spent checking it out, has been Sick and Depressed. I feel that the hundreds of hours I have spent researching, cross-referencing and carefully wording what I put in my tree has been destroyed – THESE ARE HOURS OF MY LIFE THAT I CANNOT RECOVER. You have an obligation to at least put our trees back as we made them, and to provide on disk and in printed form, a copy of our trees, at no cost to us, since the money we have paid over the years has been tossed in the trash!!

  11. a

    the answers i want this dna wont help it would give me idea where my great grams come from but all my question heratiage is on my father side and my great grams husband side.on ancestry it cost 100.00.my mom her mom her mom her mom kinda line.i dont know if worth 100.00.any input if anyone thinks paying 100.00 is worth just for my mom her mom her mom kinda linage result.i have no issues no questions with this lineage.
    so lost and confused on descion maken.

  12. Marty

    I am adopted and submitted my DNA hoping to find a match with another member who may have been my half sister. My DNA did not come back with a match to her so I assumed we were not related. I have been told by another Ancestry member that these DNA match reports are unreliable and that we should get our DNA results analyzed by an independent lab. Does anybody know if this is true? Would like to hear from someone on the Ancestry staff. Thanks so much.

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