Autosomal DNA testing confirms a suspected WOLD relationship!

A long time ago I received an email from the husband of a possible cousin wondering if his wife’s WALD family was the same as our WOLD family. Naturally I suggested a DNA test and the results just came in. Yes she is a member of our WOLDs and is descended from my gg-grandfather Jørgen Oleson Wold via my g-grandmother Maren Wold’s brother Carl (Charlie) Wold. Below are the faces of four generations of my new 3rd cousin once removed’s ancestors.

4 generations of WOLDsNow for the details of how we used autosomal DNA testing to confirm this …

Here are some excerpts from that original email:

My wife’s Great Grandfather was George Alexander Wald born June 20, 1874 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Very little is known by his descendants regarding his early life except that he had some half siblings living in the Grantsburg Burnett county area.  […]

Family oral history says that George Alexander Wald’s real surname was WOLD and that he switched to the surname WALD while living in Hayward,Sawyer co, Wisconsin due to the number of WOLD’s in the area, especially another named George Wold, but I have never seen any documentation that this is in fact true.  More puzzling is that in 1880 he is found as a 5 year old using the name George WALD living in Eau Claire with his maternal Grandparents Peter and Ellen Evenson, a young aunt (Caroline) and an Uncle Charles J. Evenson.   I am not sure if this surname is a mis-spelling of the name WOLD or if WALD was his actual surname, if so it makes a bit of a sham of the family oral history regarding the surname.

I have been trying to untangle this web for more than 15 years now.  I have not been able to locate a birth certificate, name change documentation, or much information on those Evenson daughters who might be his mother.  How does this concern your data?  Well, I recently decided that I might have better luck trying to find those half siblings and see if I could make a connection that way.  As you must know looking for traditional Scandinavian names like WOLD, OLSON, LARSON, etc, here in northern Wisconsin, is like searching on the surname Smith in most of the U.S. thus finding WOLD’s everywhere including Burnett county is no surprise and didn’t help me weed out those not connected to George.   I decided to experiment with other Scandinavian names that historically have been interchanged with the WOLD surname, Hval, Wahl, etc.

These led me to Charly Wahl’s 1880 census data in Burnett County….further searching on him led me to some 2003 entries in Rootsweb by [cousin Marlys] regarding Charly Wahl being the same as Charles WOLD, Carl WOLD etc and the information that this Charly Wold was married 3 times and had about 26 children, and lived in or around Grantsburg Wisconsin.  This plus the information that his first wife died in child birth, which is what I have suspected was the fate of George Wald’s mother, made me take a second and third look […]

My new possible 3rd cousin once removed Kristine did an autosomal DNA test at 23andme to confirm this possibility. She did not match me, Dad, or my brother due to the vagaries of DNA inheritance but she did match my 1st cousin George (PG), my 2nd cousin John, and my 3rd cousin once removed Michael whose results also just came in at 23andme. The chart is below. Because they overlap at the same segments which also triangulate (the cousins match each other on the same spots as well), the overlapping segments on chromosome 11 and 14 must be from our common ancestors Jørgen and Anna Wold.  Perhaps when her results are ready at GEDmatch we will see smaller matches with the rest of the family too. However it is completely possible that there is another common ancestor she has with Michael providing the big segment on chromosome 16. Also she has an X match with 4th cousin Susannah (descended from Jørgen’s parents) but there is no pathway on Kristine’s known line to them to get X DNA so it must be from some other Norwegian … another puzzle for Dennis!


3 thoughts on “Autosomal DNA testing confirms a suspected WOLD relationship!

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  1. I enjoyed your blog. I have been painting away and on Chromosone 6 I have about 33 people that mostly all line up and many I believe probably triangulate. I am still kind of new at this and really don’t know exactly how these people are related. I believe they are all on my paternal side but don’t know if they are all on my fathers paternal or maternal side and which grandparents we get our DNA from. It is so frustrating. If you have any tips for me I would welcome them.

    Thank you,


    • Teri –
      Do you share other segments with those 33 people? If so, then look at those other segments. If not, then probably ignore that group …
      In my experience when so many people all match you and each other, it is likely a “pile up” and the common ancestor will be too far back to find.
      Read this post on pile ups

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