This page is long overdue. I have been using DNA for research and connecting our lines since 2003. I will share some general information about Y DNA, MtDNA and Autosomal DNA and our family connections soon.

Although this page is under construction and needs an introduction I have posted our recent story about Angelina  and her search for her grandparents through DNA and conventional research here. More to follow:

Finding the Grandparents of Angelina Williams Griffin

By Elaine M. Perryman

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Please welcome Angelina into our Johnson Family!

 

Angelina and her father David Bracy‘s photo is on our Johnson website under William Johnson’s gallery. David who was born in 1958 was adopted by Bilbo and Jessie Bracy. He is deceased and Angelina was wanting to connect with her grandparent’s family. She reached out to many DNA matches for assistance. Our Jim Johnson descendant, Roslyn Allen who I worked with to find her surprised DNA connection to us referred me to Angelina. She said “Elaine, can you help Angelina? She seems very nice and really wants to connect. Her story is moving.“ So I called Angelina back in early Autumn of 2019 and she poured out her heart seeking to find her father’s biological parents.

Angelina’s personal story is one of fortitude and determination.  She is a walking miracle. Through the grace of God and Angelina’s sheer will, her 44-year-old life as she puts it, is to “break the curses and change”. Angelina has certainly accomplished that goal!

Angelina was born to a 14-year-old mother and a 17-year-old father. Her struggle was almost immediate. As long as she can remember her father was in jail. Through her father David’s adoptive mother Jesse Porter Bracy, Angelina visited her father almost weekly at the prison in Chicago.  Her father was a source of love to Angelina as he was accepting of her unconditionally. This was a far cry from the painful home life Angelina endured with her mother and those that surrounded her. Her tragic upbringing certainly manifested in her acting out. Angelina recalls that in 5th grade she threw her desk and hit a teacher. She said the proverbial “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” was her existence. She was expelled for the 5th grade for that violent behavior. Later, the school’s solution was to pass her into the next 6th grade level the following school year. At that point Angelina was done with school.  To add to her loss of connections at a young age, her mother threw her out when she was 12 years old.

At some point Angelina spent time living with a godparent who sent her to the Arts of Living School in Chicago. She eventually graduated 8th grade. She did not go to high school.

Angelina floundered and moved from house to house, from friends to relatives and homelessness, a permanent place was never found. She joined the Gangster Disciples in Chicago and continued a life of crime with no direction. Soon Angelina became pregnant. A mother at 15 years, repeating the cycle of her family history. Then Angelina met a Navy man that she married. They moved to Buffalo where her mother -in- law lived. In Buffalo it was a quieter place than Chicago and it afforded Angie time to reflect on her young life.

Angeline was tired. She saw death not life before her and knew she needed to change. She wanted something different. After several children and being divorced, Angelina went forward not backward. Her ex-mother-in-law was the first person who mothered her and taught her how to be a good woman. She was a source of strength for Angeline and helped her to focus on making herself better and raising her kids. Angeline remained close to Gilda until she passed of COVID this year.

Angeline would eventually remarry (17 years and counting) and have a total of seven children and a stepson. While raising her children in love and struggling financially she vowed to get an education.

Yes, Angelina did it! She went to Bryant and Stratton and received her GED and associate’s degree in Applied Science. Then went on to graduate with a 3.8 grade point average and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Still, she longed for the connection of family history. Her father did get out of jail and they spent several years together but David was deceased by 1996 and her goal was to find his biological parents. Since David was an adoptee Angeline had no starting point.

In 2009, Angeline began her search, trying to get his adoption unsealed to taking a DNA test at Ancestry. She was unsuccessful in getting records and had no close matches except one that did not answer her continued requests for further information.

So, with our contact in 2019, I charted over 30 of Angelina’s DNA matches and figured she was related to us through William Johnson’s line based on the centimorgan measurements of her matches. This took a lot of time but is essential in autosomal DNA because this type of DNA test is not exacting as it is randomly inherited through both parents. Through filtering, developing trees of the matches and charting, an ancestral line can be achieved with only 4th – 6th cousin matching. I finished updating William’s line on our website and began to explore possibilities.

Soon after, Angeline made contact with Ruth A. J. through Ancestry as well. Ruth secured DNA of some of William’s descendants from Chicago. Those matched strongest with descendants of Benjamin Franklin Johnson, the eldest son of William. Through additional filtering this left a few possibilities of David’s paternity and maternity. DNA was submitted from Cora G. and the results in September 2020 showed that it was evident of a close relationship to Angelina.

The Angelina to Cora G. (living) match was 1112 cm. The Shared cM project, Version 4 suggests this measurement can be a half niece (Range 492-1315), a grandchild (Range 984-2462), first cousin (Range 196-1397) or a great niece (330-1467) A full niece would range from 1201-2282. The most favorable connection in my estimation was of a grandparent or great aunt.

Therefore, for research purposes I felt we could eliminate the half niece or cousin relationship based on common matches and generational differences.

An excellent source for further understanding of DNA results can be found on Blaine Bettinger’s website; www.thegeneticgenealogist.com

Cora G. (living) was born in 1940, the daughter of Ernestine Johnson and her husband Sylvester Gero. Cora had a brother Leon G. (living) born in 1942.

There was no knowledge of a David.

I suspected Leon was David’s father and not a cousin. I further committed to this assumption based on some common DNA matches between Angelina and Cora G. with the surname Gaskill’s which I will explain further in this paper. This chart shows presumed relationship pending DNA confirmation of Leon.

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Angeline was persistent in her quest to determine her grandparent and wanted no time to let the grass grow under her feet. I tried to assist by finding more about Leon through the internet as we had no direct contact to Cora nor Leon.

I searched the web for Leon G. and his relations and found that he was married at one time. Jumping from the marriage record in Seattle to an obituary of his grandson, I found a son named Marcus G. and gave that information to Angie. She went to work on Facebook and made contact with his daughter. Tayanna in turn contacted her father Marcus and shared the story of Angeline’s search.  A few days later, Marcus and Angeline connected and he was thrilled to have a probable niece! He did not have any phone contacts for his estranged father but agreed to take a DNA test which Angie quickly ordered and expedited to his home. Those results are pending.

Angie who had asked Ruth to get DNA of Leon was relieved when this was accomplished this past week. During the course of getting the sample Leon openly shared that there is a strong possibility that David was his son. That pretty much sealed the expectation that the DNA will come back with Leon as David’s father.

Angeline is ecstatic about the probability of finding her grandfather who is open to talk and meet with her.

Hopefully, he can share who David’s mother is and they can connect as well. Other DNA matches suggest the mother has a surname of Harris in her background.

In developing the rest of her family tree, Angelina and I compared the in common matches with Cora. We found the surname Gaskill in her top 3rd to 6th cousin relationships.  I traced their common ancestors and found a Sylvester Brown Gaskill (1827 – 1909) in North Carolina.  Although he died in 1909, I found a grandson with the same name and his year of birth as 1910. He was living in the household of the widow Alice M. Gaskill. The enumerator implied that Sylvester’s parents were David and Lessie Gaskill in 1910 census by placing him between David and Lessie instead of chronological order. [1]. However, David’s single sister Cora Gaskill was marked as having 1 child whereas Lessie had a numeral zero.

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I thought it was interesting that Sylvester B. Gero had the same birth year, given name, and middle initial.  I always try to think out of the box so I followed Cora Gaskin’s life to NY and found she married an Alfonso Gero in 1913, [3] [4] [5].

This gave indication that Sylvester was her child and he took the stepfather’s name although records show he didn’t live with them during census enumerations. Perhaps Sylvester thought this was his natural father. Subsequent records find Alfonso single again and his death record indicated his father was Jose Gero and mother Clara Nesbit from the Virgin Islands.[6]. No connection to these surnames were found in DNA matches of Angelina. This increases the probability that Gero is not a biological name for Sylvester.

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In 1930 Sylvester Gero is found in Joliet, Illinois, [7]. He is an inmate of the Illinois State Penitentiary. He lists his mother from NC and his father as ? U.S. This ? seems to indicate that he was referring to Alfonso Gero, an immigrant. Perhaps he figured Alfonso was possibly his natural father.

A June 18, 1935 marriage certificate shows a Sylvester Gero married to Violet Noreen Christie born March 1, 1916 in Cook County, IL [8] [9] She descends from Albert C. and Laura Christie. Her father Albert is from Jamaica, West Indies. They divorced and she remarried several times based on the U.S. Social Security Application and Claim Index.

On October 16, 1940 Ernestine Gero is listed as Sylvester’s wife on his US World War II draft card. [10]

In 1953 a Sylvester Gero is deceased on April 3, 1953. [11] [12] [13]. He is buried in The Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. A procurement (pending) of his death certificate will insure this may be the same person.

Presuming this is correct, it left the possible father of David as his son Leon G. (living) since David was not born until 1958.  Cora claims to bear no children. This is another example of why I had the assumption that Leon was David’s father.

In addition, to find Sylvester (Gaskill) Gero’s biological father I combed the census area in Carteret County, NC looking for surnames associated with Angelina’s other matches from North Carolina which I already had charted and found the MRCA (most recent common ancestor) to be Solomon Kennedy. I did not find any of the surnames living near Cora Gaskill. I considered that one of the Kennedy’s from the same era, William Henry Kennedy could have been Sylvester’s father. He was born 1883 and had an occupation as a porter. I researched the railroad lines into North Carolina and they did intersect from William’s residence in Tennessee. Since Cora Gaskill lived in Carteret County and was near a railroad line to Hilton Head they may have met. This is purely speculative and further research would need to be done. Other possibilities include William H.’s brother Rev. Dr. John Kennedy who probably traveled as a preacher or his other brother Franklin who spent time in North Carolina.

I share these speculations because when researching families with NPE’s (Non Paternity Event) one needs to comb every aspect of the lives of the searcher and the matches. Then prove it through conventional research.

Angelina is grateful for all of us that assisted her in this quest to find her grandparents but let us emphasize that it was her determination and tenacity that accomplished it!

Please welcome this wonderful strong woman into our family! If you would like to reach out to Angie please contact me for her information!

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