It’s like the game but instead of Kevin Bacon, it’s with an elderly black woman. 

So a while back, I messaged a new new 2nd – 3rd cousin hit through AncestryDNA with my usual form letter:

SUB: Can you help me, cousin?


My name is Tony and it looks like you’re likely 2nd cousins with my mom — which is great!

We’re currently looking for my grandfather’s identity. He was a Black American who served in the Vietnam War. If you know of anyone in your family that matches this description, it’d be very helpful to me.

Let me know if you want to connect. You can contact me here or through the email and phone number provided below.

All good things,

Tony Tran

I have sent out probably hundreds of similar messages to cousins before with a lot responding back with a message or maybe even an email, so I wasn’t expecting much…

…until my phone started ringing within a half hour of sending that message.

When I picked it up, a woman who introduced herself as Andrea told me that I had just messaged her daughter’s account. We got to talking and I explained the story of how I was trying to find my grandfather while she told me about her family background.

I learned the following:

  • Andrea is originally from Texas but now lives in Tennessee.
  • She is in her 70s.
  • Her daughter (the person my mom matched with) is just around my mom’s age.
  • She has a son who is also on the database — later research would confirm that he’s roughly my mom’s 2nd – 3rd cousin as well.

Andrea also said that she hadn’t yet taken a test through AncestryDNA or 23andMe yet but planned to. Since she hadn’t had a test yet, though, we weren’t sure if my mom was related to her daughter via Andrea’s side or the husband’s side.

We swapped information and she promised to talk to her relatives about possible Vietnam vets in the family. She called a few more times throughout the months but I haven’t heard from her in a few weeks now.

Which is fine…because she did end up getting that test after all!

Not only that but she’s actually a closer match to my mom than her daughter was — a 1st – 2nd cousin match!

As AncestryDNA likes to remind us though, things are rarely that easy. From the site:

Our analysis of your DNA predicts that this person you match with is probably your second cousin.

The exact relationship can vary. It could be a first cousin once removed, or a great-great aunt.

While there may be some statistical variation in our prediction, it’s likely to be a second cousin type relationship – which are separated by 6 degrees or six people. However, the relationship could range from four to seven degrees of separation.

Those relationships can range from anywhere from a 2nd cousin relationship to a 1st cousin 2x’s removed to great-great-aunt!

However, this does provide a nice seed of hope AND helps start 2018 on the right foot.

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