My 2016 Year of Genealogical Firsts in Review

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy I have had an incredibly full year of “firsts”!

My research has been sporadic due to the brick walls on my maternal side, being unable to advance beyond 2nd grandparents has been a constant source of frustration. On the other hand once the tears and screaming have ceased I find solace on my paternal side, which has been very fruitful!

Speaking of fruitful, while rereading my notes for this post I have come to the conclusion that with all of the genealogy related events that have occurred in 2016, this post will need to be in two parts because this has been a year of numerous firsts! Yes, I’ve been just that busy.

My mother was born in Galveston, Texas but she hadn’t been back since she was a young girl. She and her sister owned land there that had been passed down from their grandmother. In March of 2016 we decided to fly down and check on the status of the land and visit with her 1st cousin, Franceta Harkins. We learned that she hadn’t been feeling well.

Franceta had called all of her children to come meet her cousin Anne and their cousin Donna. We had met her daughter Racheal, years before but had never met her sons, Anthony and Bert.  This was a first for my mother and me and we enjoyed our visit tremendously! It was fortunate we chose that time to visit because Franceta journeyed to be with her Ancestors a week later.

Franceta Harkins 1937-2016



In April I discovered I needed some more records from Corydon, Indiana, where my paternal family is from, and so – road trip!

DNA and research led me to make a connection to three paternal cousins, Damita Parrish, Chuck Alexander and Adrieanne McAllister and to also discover who our common Ancestor is. The Ancestors were working overtime because I was able to meet Damita, Chuck and his family and Adrieanne’s dad, James Allen, who I affectionately call “Cousin Daddy”.

Damita Parrish
Damita, me and Chuck Alexander
James Allen AKA Cousin Daddy

I’m going to back up a bit to 11 August 2015 because this was the beginning of another first that would happen 11 August 2016. One year to the day.

While checking out my matches on GEDmatch, I saw a name that was also in my DNA matches on FTDNA, 23andMe as well as Ancestry. I knew it was from my paternal side because they didn’t match my mother or my aunt.  I sent her a quick email noting that she fell on my paternal side and expressing a hope that we could work together to discover our common Ancestor. That was 11 August 2015.

She responded 13 August 2015 with trepidation and a wonderful story. Here in part is her response.

“Hi Donna! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to hear from you! I noticed our connection on AncestryFTDNA and 23andme, but was not sure about the protocol of trying to contact you. I am very new to this and have not taken the time yet to obtain some much needed education on reading DNA results.


Sadly, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to be much assistance to you in your search for ancestry.  I’m adopted.”


To be continued!


3 thoughts on “My 2016 Year of Genealogical Firsts in Review

  1. Donna, you had a FABULOUS 2016 in genealogy and family research! Major kudos to the many family connections you not only did for yourself, but for others too! Your photos are wonderful! Now let me head on over for part 2!


  2. Hello Cousin! I am from your father’s side and reside in Anderson, Indiana with a host of your relatives. Please reach out to me or my mother Jacquie Gwynn Dixon on facebook to be added to our family group!


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