For most of my life I was told by my parents that I was over 1/8 native American. My mother’s grandfather was supposed to be full-blooded Cherokee, and his wife 50% Cherokee, making my grandfather 75% Cherokee and my mother at least 37.5%. That was consistent with my grandfather’s appearance—he had high cheekbones, reddish-brown skin, and coarse dark hair: A few years back, I took a DNA test and it turns out… None. Nil. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No discernable amount of native American DNA. And, with my mother and her family all deceased, there was no one to ask. So, when a client recently contacted me asking for help in tracking down the biological father he just discovered on Ancestry.com, I understood his need for answers and was eager to help. His mother and the father that raised him were both deceased, so all he had to go on was the information in the ancestry database. Unfortunately, Ancestry.com did not have a lot of information on his father, and no contact information for any other relatives. What we did have were three data points:
- His father’s name, which was fairly common – according to the 2010 census, the 27th most popular first name and a surname in the top 100 (http://howmanyofme.com/) (https://www2.census.gov/topics/genealogy/2010surnames/Names_2010Census_Top1000.xlsx);
- His father’s brother’s name, which was also fairly common; and
- The town where his mother lived when he was born.