It has been about four years since I last posted about my genealogical quest. In that time I’ve found a lot of really interesting things and begun a new quest for answers. You see people talking about finding secret family members after taking DNA tests and yup, that happened to me. Some people discover what they thought about their family wasn’t actually true. I can’t claim any experience with that so far. I’ve found my own quest though, and every month I’m getting closer to finding the answers.
If you haven’t read my first post, you can find it here.
Four Years Later
What do I think now that I’ve been using DNA to aid in my genealogy work four years later? My opinion really hasn’t changed.
A Genealogical Search Completed
One of the biggest searches I was undertaking was attempting to find the parents of a paternal second great grandfather, Edward Abel Lloyd Sr. There were a few clues here and there from family records but there wasn’t a solid paper trail to find the answers we were looking for. This was a quest that my grandmother and many others in her family had been on before she passed away. Now that I have all of her research, I took it upon myself to do. Last year, that search seems to have paid off.
Based on what I found in my grandmother’s notes I had a theory on the identify of his parents. At least I had a father’s full name and the first name for a mother. I placed them on my Ancestry family tree as well as their other children in hopes of connecting with someone that might have more information. It took some time but eventually someone added Edward to their family three and what happened next was amazing. This person was the descendant of one of the couple’s other children and according to their records, the mother’s maiden name was Abel.
It seemed like a pretty solid lead so I reached out to them. Unfortunately they did not know of Edward but based on his name and the names of his children, he also believed it was likely that I was correct. He then offered to take a DNA test so we could see if we could prove the connection.
A few months later I got a new message that while we were not matches, he was seeing matches to my family. This person and I fourth cousins once removed and the lack of a DNA connection wasn’t a surprise. We were able to confirm a connection to quite a few matches from my grandmother’s generation though. When I reached out to one of those matches, he had a surprise for me. He could confirm matches to more descendants of the other children that were likely Edward’s siblings. We are now confident that a search that had gone one for over twenty years and across three generations of our family was finally complete.
A New Quest Begins
Now that I’d completed my first search, it was time to put all of my focus into one that was going to be a lot more difficult. Again, I am looking for the parents of a second great grandfather. This time, however, I have little to nothing to go off of. The circumstances behind this mystery are a perfect storm.
I am now dealing with an ancestor on my maternal side. The difference is that he and his siblings were taken in by another family after their parents died. There seem to be no records and no information passed down as to the identity of their parents. That makes this search a lot more complicated.
I mentioned above that this quest is kind of a perfect storm and I will explain why this is my biggest genealogical problem to date. My second great grandfather Michael Shumsky was born in 1886. His parents were likely immigrants from what was then considered Austria, though they were ethnically Polish. He had an older brother John born in 1884. As well as two younger sisters Anna, and Sophia both born before 1900. Their biological parents both passed away sometime in late 1899 or early 1900. If you know anything about this time period the first problem may jump out at you.
Unfortunately, the 1890 census was destroyed. This is the only potential record I could have used to search for the two boys names that could have given me a clue to their parents. By the time the 1900 census came around the four children were living with a new family. It seems as though they also took that family’s last name and never used their biological name again. One could assume that it was also their last name, however that doesn’t seem to be the case.
It also doesn’t help that we are dealing with Polish names, families, and records without knowing any Polish. I can read and understand basic German which does help a little with Austrian records but it isn’t enough with what we are dealing with.
Since we have no last name to go by and considering when the four children were born, it seems impossible to find some sort of record of them prior to the adoption.
How We’re Trying To Solve The Case
The first thing I did was start looking at Pennsylvania. While the family was in New York in 1900 and Michael, Anna, and Sophia were born there, John was not. According to his draft papers, he was born in Pennsylvania. I had hoped that I could get lucky and find a Catholic church from that area that might have baptismal records from that time period but so far I have not had any success.
My belief is, once again, that DNA is going to be the breakthrough on this genealogical case. Myself, several aunts and uncles, and my two granduncles have taken DNA tests. When my granduncle’s tests came back the first thing I did was to begin to sort their matches. Luckily they have a half brother that has also taken a test that is not related to Michael. This let me easily sort out their maternal matches (the ones I need to focus on).
The next step I did was to begin to identify matches that were descended from the other three siblings. In fact, when I started we only thought it was two siblings but DNA showed me that the youngest sibling, Sophia, was biologically related to them. There is no DNA evidence that points to any relation to the couple or other siblings from the household they were listed in the 1900 census. Once I had a group of other descendants I began to group our shared matches. This gave me a list of matches to research that were likely descendants of other close family members to Michael’s biological parents.
I created a new family tree and began to put those matches on it and built their trees back. What I found was three sets of couples that are likely our most recent common ancestors. What’s more, is that those families all seemed to have immigrated from the same region of Poland. They were also married into each other.
One problem though is that it appears that this region is the same that Michael’s wife was from. In fact, her uncle married into one of these family lines that I consider to be a lead. This was a bit of a complication. It meant some of these matches are related to Michael’s children both paternally and maternally.
My hopes are high that I will be able to solve this mystery soon. However, I fear I’ve reached the end of my abilities. I have not been able to make any potential connection to Michael’s parents and any of the other people on this research tree. It is likely that I need a professional genealogist to help me bridge the gap.
Any Help I Can Get
If you happen to run across this post and are a descendant of John Francis Shumsky, Michael Thomas Shumsky, Anna C Shumsky Schaf, or Sophia Shumsky Arnold, please get in touch! I would love to hear what you know about the adoption. If you know anything about them or their parents I would love to learn more.
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