Second cousin DNA tests are my favorites. You share enough DNA with a second cousin to be really useful for genetic genealogy. When someone matches your second cousin, you know which of your four pairs of great-grandparents they are related to, so it identifies the family line they are on.
Benedict Reiner in the 1880s
Of course not all second cousins are created equal. Due to the vagaries of DNA inheritance some may have inherited more from the mutual great-grandparents and some less. For example, my Dad shares 608 cMs with my second cousin John from his mom’s side and only 389 cMs with my second cousin Dick from his Dad’s side. I discussed this variability in a recent post about how to tell the relationship from the shared DNA.
I thought I had no chance of a second cousin on my maternal side because my German-born mother’s parents were both only children, or so I thought. When I started researching my family history back in the 1990s, by asking questions of my aunts, I found a family secret or at least a story I had not known before. My great-grandfather Benedict Reiner had gotten the innkeeper’s daughter pregnant and then left town; he moved to Munich and a few years later married my great-grandmother. Further discussions had revealed that the child’s name was Xavier and he had visited occasionally so the families had been in touch. This was not enough information to find him or his family, since he had his mother’s surname, but thanks to GENI.com, I found them by accident. That story was a blog post earlier this year – http://blog.kittycooper.com/2016/01/thank-you-geni-com/
Now for even more good luck, my brother had a trip to Germany scheduled for a few months later so he was able to take a day off and actually meet our newly found cousins. Here is the picture.
Katharina, Brigitte, Shipley (my brother), Edeltraut
Even more exciting for me, we convinced them to test autosomal DNA at Family Tree DNA. We tested the oldest, my half second cousin Edeltraud, the grandmother of my correspondent Katharina. Today the results came in and I am so very happy!
Thanks to the collaborative world family tree at GENI.com our long lost second cousins in Germany have been found. Here is that story.
Margarette and Benedict Reiner on their wedding day in 1889
We knew we had half second cousins somewhere in Bavaria but did not know their surname nor where they lived. The family lore is that my great-grandfather Benedict Reiner was studying to be a priest when he got the daughter of the local innkeeper pregnant. Her family was welcoming but he did not want to be an innkeeper so he ran off to Munich and became a contractor. His illegitimate son from this union came for the occasional visit to Benedict and was called Xavier according to my late mother.
My News Year’s resolution this year was to better learn how to do German genealogy research so I could work on this part of the family. It is the only branch that is not done when you look at the five generation fan chart, so it has been calling to me for a while.
Last week I scanned in a marriage document for Benedict and my great-grandmother that I had found years ago on a microfilm at the LDS family history library. My plan was to upload it to all my online trees and then request some help with checking the translation from my mother over at a facebook group about Bavarian genealogy (thank you Ute). I use many online family trees but I usually start with GENI because it is easy to use and pretty and seems to have more European genealogists than the others. Since I am descended from recent immigrants to the U.S.A. that is an important consideration for me.
GENI has a nice feature that when you are logged in and start typing a name in the search box, it shows you the names that match from your tree or from those people you are following. However if there is a lot of information on your home page when you first arrive, it can be slow to do that. That is why it was not yet responding when I typed in Benedict’s name. So I hit the search button figuring it was an uncommon name thus the regular search it would find him easily and quickly. I was surprised when it found two of them. Curious I clicked the other. He had no dates listed and a different wife and child so perhaps that is why the GENI matching algorithm did not find him.