Monday, November 6, 2017

Welcome to New Gillespie-Coquigne Cousins!

Until recently, I have been on the fence in my opinion about DNA testing and matching. In my experience, DNA matches have done nothing more than confirm what I already know from paper evidence. But then a close DNA match to me suddenly appeared for which there is no paper evidence whatsoever to suggest a family relationship. Now what do I say? A DNA match is still evidence, especially when this new match (we'll call him D.) is so high as to indicate the 1st-2nd cousin range! By this time, I know who my cousins are, and not knowing how this recent match could be related to me has lead to a new adventure.

To tell the entire story of what has been unraveling because of this DNA match would be to uncover some personal and brief encounters which occurred outside of wedlock and which resulted in two generations of sons who did not realize or know their biological father. After studying all of D's DNA matches and their associated family trees for several weeks, then comparing those with the genealogical records and my general knowledge of the Gillespie-Coquigne clan, it seems nearly certain that D.'s paternal grandfather was my very own uncle! Further study helped us to narrow down that D's paternal grandmother had her origins in Tennessee going back for several generations. In putting all these pieces together, D. started to reach out to other descendants of his father, and when those connections started coming together, the sharing of photographs showed family resemblances that are quite unmistakable. I'm happy to report that because of these discoveries, two half-brothers met for the first time this past weekend, and the introduction was a happy success. Who would have believed this story?

So I want to welcome the new Gillespie-Coquigne relations who are coming online, and who are just as curious to learn about your ancestry as the rest of us. Your experiences and memories are different from those of us who were raised with family reunions every summer on the Michigan homesteads, but now we can also incorporate your stories into the family fabric. And even more than appreciating our common ancestry, discovering each other as family brings us together into the here and now.  It feels like the time for creating new memories is upon us!

I dedicate this post to my grandparents, Howard Gillespie and Eliza Jane Coquigne, and to my Grand Aunt Edith Gillespie, our devoted family historian, who I am remembering in this moment as the one who sparked my interest in family history as a child. I'm thinking she'd probably approve of the methods that are now bringing our diverse families together, and she'd want to hear about the new stories as much as to tell her share of old ones.