Bio grandfather and half uncle found! Sonja shares her double DNA discovery using YDNA and autosomal DNA together to find relatives she previously didn’t know about.
While autosomal DNA combined with traditional genealogy can help solve many family mysteries, you may also need YDNA if you’re trying to find a male ancestor.
Double DNA discovery
Sonja received a DNA test for Christmas in 2018. After a few years of additional DNA testing and genealogy research, she now has a whole new biological family to celebrate the holidays with!
Sonja thought her father had been raised by his paternal grandparents, Arthur and Madeleine Webb. At least that was the family story and also the genealogically perfect paper trail, which even enabled her dad to obtain an ancestral visa to immigrate to the UK. However when no Webb cousins showed in her dad’s match list at Ancestry, she was puzzled. So she signed up for Your DNA Guide’s DNA Skills Workshop and then the Endogamy and DNA Course to learn whether she was interpreting her results correctly or what could possibly be responsible for the anomaly she was seeing.
After a lot of investigative work, Sonja used target testing to ask her dad’s “Webb” half-brother (on his father’s side) to test. They didn’t share a single bit of DNA, so they were clearly not related genetically. But his half-brother DID match other Webb cousins, so clearly he was a Webb but her dad was not.
That’s how Sonja found herself looking for a different biological father for her dad, her now unknown birth grandfather.
The skills she gained from our YDNA for Genealogy Course ultimately led to her finding her bio grandfather! Here are some of the discoveries she made.
First, Sonja noticed that her dad’s ethnicity results included 16% English, with three genetic communities in East, South East England, and Greater London.
Her dad’s mother didn’t have recent English ancestry; it was all South African, where Sonja’s dad was born. So she hypothesized that her birth grandfather was of English origin. When she focused on DNA matches who shared that heritage and worked through them, she came across an interesting third-cousin match: Alan, who was the descendant of a John Hitch, who down the line, via his son Josiah Hitch only had one other descendant that had immigrated to South Africa! That other descendant was Henry John Amor. But who was he?
Sonja then had to do some traditional genealogy digging to find out that Henry John Hitch had changed his name, calling himself Henry John Amor from the time of the 1891 England Census onwards. William Amor was his stepdad; his mother had re-married shortly after her husband Josiah’s early death in 1884. Could one of Henry John’s descendants be Sonja’s biological grandfather? She began descendancy research on him.
Sonja also had her dad take a YDNA test, but he had an uncommon haplogroup, I-M253, and no YDNA matches at any level. She returned to Alan at Ancestry, who was a direct male descendant of John Hitch and asked him to take a Y-111 test. After a long wait, it showed that he was a match to her dad on 110 of 111 markers!
Then it was time to turn back to autosomal DNA and genealogy. Sonja says, “After a lot of hard work tree building out to the third-cousin level on many branches and using strategies Diahan teaches like ‘Splitting the Network,’ ‘Ask the Wife,’ and WATO, I managed to isolate a couple–Josiah Hitch and Mary Ann Watts–with whom my dad had confirmed cousin matches on both sides. That, in conjunction with the Y-DNA test of Alan and the traditional genealogy hard work, led me to focus on Henry John Amor’s only son who had survived into adulthood, Basil Reginald Amor. Basil looked like he was in the right location at the right time to be my dad’s birth father. At MyHeritage, I identified a possible living son of Basil Reginald Amor, Errol, with a tree but no DNA test – could he be my dad’s half-brother and my uncle?”
Sonja was nervous, but eventually she contacted Errol and after some initial information sharing, they were both confident that Errol was likely her dad’s half-brother.
“My dad met Errol just before his 83rd birthday during the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa. The two men got on immediately and Errol, who was 81 at the time, said that the family resemblance was clear (middle and second to last picture on right below) and that a DNA test was not needed. However, post lockdown, we eventually got an autosomal test to South Africa which Errol took confirming the relationship, and last year I went to South Africa to meet my long-lost half-uncle and new cousins.”
Sonja’s success story isn’t just about using both autosomal and Y-DNA– it’s also about doing the genealogy research along with the DNA research. Where one may be lacking, the other may reveal the missing clue!
“It took 3 years but it was so worth it! Diahan taught me SO much and I’m so hooked on solving unknown parentage cases that I’m transitioning to a full-time genealogy career to help others. If you are looking for an unknown male ancestor, don’t hesitate, sign up for the Y-DNA Course and I’m hoping you will be next to share your success story!”