Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Art Of Life

Today, I go off in a side topic, but I promise to come back to art projects, but now I wish to discuss the Art of Life.

As some of you know, I have pursued genealogy for many years. Before I became ill, I visited old cemeteries, courthouses, and library rooms. I collected as much information as I could, along the way debunking a few dearly held family traditions, which had been based on assumptions instead of fact.  One of the constant stumbling blocks was the fact that some of the courthouses which bore directly on my father's family line had been burnt by Sherman during the Civil War. Because of this, some lines just stopped abruptly prior to the War. There were no records, or family histories, that could give me a clue to trace these lines any further.

Several years ago, I persuaded a brother to do a DNA swab for me to submit for genealogy matching. It has to be male DNA to be able to compare with others because the markers are only passed down through the male line. Once I submitted it to the genealogy bank, it was ready to be matched to anyone else whose DNA had the same markers. By doing this, I have been able to confirm that the Livingston family line was indeed German, and not Scot. It was very common for those who immigrated to this country to Anglicize their name to fit in with their new neighbors, and so the Liebensteins became the Livingstons.

Recently, however, I had the privilege to be part of another positive experience resulting from our DNA being on file. Several months ago, I was contacted by a nice woman from England, saying that her husband's DNA matched 12 markers of what I had submitted, meaning that it was definite that he and I were of the same family line. It turned out that he was in his late sixties, and had just found out that the man he thought was his father had adopted him when he married his mother. His adopted father, and his mother had both passed on, and the only information he had was that his birth father was an American GI, who had been stationed in that area of England during WW II. Could I give them any help?

We sent emails back and forth, I did as much research as I could from the information I had, and encouraged him to get the full numbers of markers registered (67), which is a higher price, but gives a more thorough reading and comparison. I determined that we had an ancestor in common not too many years back, and filled him in on family history and family tree lines. I have a family tree registered with and they began filling in their own information, but his father still eluded him. By checking records and narrowing down facts, we did have a good idea who he was though. My English cousin's face compared very favorably with a picture of a serviceman in an old publication honoring local men from an area in South Carolina. He was given names to contact about military service, and also the name of a woman who had done a great deal of genealogy research in that same area of South Carolina. I had met her a few times and told him that if anyone could help him, she could.

To sum up the story, this lady knew one of the daughters of the serviceman. My cousin had been a little unsure of just how to contact the family and tell them who he was, and how he felt they were related. But that all worked out - he was put in touch with them, and they are excited at having a brother they never knew about. Sadly, his father had passed away in 1991, and they are going to have some more DNA tests done for hard evidence, but all of them are sure that they belong together. His father never knew that he had a son, he shipped off to France a month or so after his time with my cousin's mother. Now, he and his new family are filling the air with emails, sharing what the years have been like from both sides of "the Pond".

I am so happy and touched that I could be part of this saga! By being willing to share information about my paternal family, it was instrumental in uniting these family members. And with the advancement in science and technology, he was able, within a few months, to find out who he was and connect with his family. It's a wonderful Christmas present to have, don't you think? Life is Art, and God is the Master Painter.

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