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Free local event helps discover ancestors

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Young men looking at a computer together to do family history research. Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

By Clairissa Cooper and Mary Ann White

Family history research has come a long way since the days of paper genealogy charts and microfiche. Advancements in technology and DNA testing have facilitated family history research to become one of the most popular hobbies around the world.

“People are curious to find out where they came from, who their ancestors are,“ said Lisa Bird, family history lead consultant at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Highland Village.

“Some find out they come from royalty, a line of interesting characters, or even discover inspirational stories about immigration and hardships. It’s all very fascinating.”

Mark White of Lewisville reflected on the day he nearly quit trying to connect his family tree to an elusive great-great-grandfather.

“I was ready to give up,” White said. “I had built a family tree connecting myself to my ancestors over the course of 35 years, but this grandfather was difficult to pin down.”

Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What little information he could glean from census records and family lore, it appeared his great-great-grandfather, Oda Dile, lived in Oklahoma during the time it was a territory, prior to 1907. Birth, death, and marriage records were incomplete or difficult to obtain. Clues pointed to frequent address changes across several states, and with what appeared to be a turbulent life, White was eager to learn more.

Without clear records, White turned to the latest in family research technology – DNA testing. He obtained a saliva sample from his 82-year-old mother, mailed it in and waited for results.

While perusing the list of DNA surname matches, he noticed a familiar one named Cavins.  Looking at the estimated relationship between him and the match subject, White knew that Cavins was certainly his missing great-great-grandfather. Even more astonishing, he discovered that the relative was originally from Roanoke in DentonCounty.

“I never dreamed that I had direct ties to folks who helped settle North Texas!” said White. “It made it all that much more meaningful.”

To get started on your family tree, or learn new ways to find ancestors, a Family Discovery Day is being held on Saturday, January 12 from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 902 Chinn Chapel Road in Highland Village.

This free event is open to the public and will offer classes on DNA testing, major research websites, one-on-one research help, scanning and uploading photos and documents, using popular genealogy apps, and more.  Index a batch of imaged historical documents for a chance to win a free Ancestry DNA test kit.  Participants canbring their own technology.

For more information, go to familysearch.org, or contact Lisa Bird at renobirds@aol.com.

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