Tammy’s search

*All names have been changed.

Search goal: Find Tammy’s biological father

Tammy’s search started out unusually- she had posted asking a question about why two of her maternal matches were matching all of her paternal matches. I decided to help her out with why this might be, and then offered to help further with her search for her biological father. Tammy was adopted and had knowledge of her maternal family, but distant matches on her paternal side were making the search challenging.

Tammy’s AncestryDNA matches on her paternal side were quite distant- all less than 150cM. The matches split into three groups: Wagner from Russia, Wilson from eastern Canada, and Wallace from Scotland. Though, after the initial sort, only the Wagner name stood out to me, and I was still unsure of the other two group’s names.

Wagner was the group with the most matches, so I started with this group and found the common ancestors that were from Russia. They had emigrated to Saskatchewan, and had a large family. Some of the children moved from Saskatchewan to a specific region of British Columbia, and this was important because Tammy’s biological mother had lived fairly close to this region around the time Tammy was born.

I had three Wagner branches to look into, so I knew I had to look at the other match groups to try to find the Wagner spouse’s last name. I then found the Wilson name, though the common ancestors were so far back, I was even more puzzled. Lastly, I found the Wallace group who seemed to have recent ancestry from Scotland. I mentioned this to Tammy as I kept her updated on the search.

To my surprise, Tammy mentioned she had been in contact with someone on 23andMe whose grandmother was a Wallace from Scotland. So I asked if I could check out her 23andMe matches to see if anything would be helpful on there.

Tammy’s maternal half sibling had tested on 23andMe as well, so it was easy to see which matches were paternal. Like Ancestry, her paternal matches were distant there too, but with the help of the X chromosome feature, I was able to determine that the Wagner and the Wilson groups were going to be from Tammy’s paternal grandmother’s side, and presumably the Wallace side were going to be from Tammy’s paternal grandfather’s side.

With this new info, I headed back to Ancestry, but was starting to hit walls. None of the groups seemed to connect in any way.

I didn’t know what else I could do, so I started going through BC marriage records for every single person named Wagner, hoping to find something that could be helpful. After some digging, I came across a marriage certificate that caught my eye. A lady named Dolly Wagner, who was descended from one of the Wagner couples that had moved to BC, had married a man named Gene. And Gene’s mother Mary was a Wallace from Scotland! I quickly found Mary’s obituary, and it referenced siblings that were the ancestors of some of Tammy’s Wallace matches. So I knew we were definitely on the right track.

I started looking for children of Dolly and Gene, knowing that one of their sons was going to be Tammy’s biological father. They had a short lived marriage, and I was only able to find one daughter from their marriage, and another daughter from a later marriage of Gene.

Again, I was feeling stuck, so I reached out to a granddaughter of Gene for some family tree assistance. She was happy to help, and shared that her mother had one half brother, who was the son of Dolly and Gene. We knew we had found Tammy’s biological father! Tammy and her cousin are in contact and she is excited to learn more about her paternal family.

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