Wow.

So I haven’t been as prolific with writing as I’ve been promising. But I do have a small development on the family tree front, and I didn’t even lift a finger.

A few days ago, I got a message through 23andMe from a DNA relative, wanting to share ancestry reports.

Sometimes it piques my interest, because I’m always curious to see who contacts me and how much we’re actually “related”. But I’ve always tempered it with the fact that our DNA matches are usually less than 1 per cent. So I’ve always taken it with a grain of salt.

Last Thursday was different.

When I opened 23andMe and looked at the DNA comparison, it wasn’t less than 1 percent. It was just over 4 percent.

It still doesn’t sound like a lot. But considering the only other family member to submit a sample – and score much higher percentage-wise – was my brother, I wasn’t going to dismiss this.

I agreed to share my ancestry results, then took a look at some of her information. One of the family surnames in her profile – Jenkins – belongs to my maternal grandmother. That provided a bit more proof to me that we were related. But to what degree?

I showed the result to a co-worker (who’s also of Jamaican descent and currently obsessed with untangling her family roots). She showed me this really cool thing that I’d never heard of, called DNA Painter, where you take the number of shared DNA material (measured in cM), plug it into a box, and it tells you what your probable relation is. It gives you a number of possibilities – so it’s not exact – but it guesses as close as it can, based on the information. It’s a really cool tool!

This morning, my relative sent a message. She mentioned how surprised she was that we matched with such a percentage. She’d also looked at my information, and said what I already thought: we were related through the Jenkins family line. But then she mentioned the name of her grandmother (which tweaked something in my brain, and I have to confirm that with my mom), and named the town her grandmother was from.

Oh, we are DEFINITELY related, I thought. So I responded, and told her my grandmother’s name.

Bingo. My grandmother’s name apparently has come up in conversation with her family.

So our grandmothers were sisters — we’re second cousins! (Or half-second cousins, if DNA Painter is correct, since I don’t know who my relative’s grandfather was.)

She lives in Philadelphia, and one day very soon, I’m going to give her a call.

I guess it all just goes to show you that when you’re doing family research and you have a long lull or hit a brick wall, once in a while, something – or someone – reminds you that it’s worth it.

Um. Wait. WHAT.

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve heard from the gentleman from Florida – whose name is Leslie – who’d contacted me about a possible family link.

On Thursday, curiosity gets the best of me, and I drop him a line.

Leslie responds Thursday evening. Turns out he’s actually been in Jamaica for several days, and has been helping his uncle (with whom he’s staying) with some things, so he hasn’t had any time to look into any family tree-related stuff as of yet.

I tell him I completely understand, and fill him in on what (little) is happening on my end.

And that’s where we leave things.

Or, so I think.

Fast-forward some two and a half hours later. I’m firmly wedged into my couch, watching The Night Manager and gazing away at Tom Hiddleston, minding my own business, when my phone buzzes.

I glance sleepily at my phone. It’s another message from my possible relative in Jamaica.

But based on what he’s written, he’s telling me we ARE related.

Leslie’s uncle knows all about the Campbells in Hanover – in fact, he grew up with them.

That’s not all.

Leslie’s uncle knew my great-uncle Collin, who lived in Wolverhampton. He went to his funeral. He’s friends with my uncle Egton.

He KNOWS knows my great-aunt Milda.

 photo tumblr_lh9khy0pBv1qcnr7w.gif

WHOAWHOAWHOAWHOAWAITWAITWAAAAAAAAIT.

HOLD. THE PHONE.

THE NIGHT MANAGER IS GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT. (Sorry, Tom.)

Leslie says he actually wasn’t ready for the vast number of names his uncle was just rattling off – he didn’t have a pen and paper handy – and it’s left his head swimming.
(No kidding.)

He says he’s going to visit my uncle Egton and great-aunt in a few days’ time.

I’ve asked him if he could ask some questions on my behalf. I don’t know how far he’ll get, or how much she’ll remember. But this could be a chance to take a second crack at uncovering what happened to Ellen.

Worst case scenario, she won’t tell Leslie any more than what she told me. Keep in mind, she’s 100 now. But I have to get him to try.

Perhaps along the way, I’ll learn about more names to add to the family tree.

Fingers crossed!