Press "Enter" to skip to content

MyHeritage DNA Helped Me Find My Real Grandfather

MyHeritage user Anders Bergenek from Sweden suspected that his father may not have been biologically related to the man he knew as his grandfather. With careful research and a targeted DNA testing campaign, he was able not only to confirm this suspicion but also to identify his biological grandfather and connect with his relatives — thanks to matches he received through MyHeritage.

Here is his story:

Around 25 years ago, when my daughter was a teenager, she began to remark how strange it was that my father, Inge, was so different from his brothers.

“It’s like they are not siblings,” she would say.

Inge and Britta Bergenek with their 3 children in the early 1950s

Inge and Britta Bergenek with their 3 children in the early 1950s

I revealed to her that my grandmother Elin did not marry her husband Carl until a little over a year after my father Inge was born — which suggests that he may have had a different father. My daughter found this idea very exciting, and we decided to see if we could confirm our suspicion. Together we started to look through church books and the midwife’s diaries. In both sources, the father was listed as unknown at birth. My father had passed away at this point, but his brother and sister were still around, and both of them were skeptical that Inge could have had a different father.

Inge Bergenek, left as a young man, and right later on in life. 

Inge Bergenek, left as a young man, and right later on in life. 

When my wife started doing genealogy in 2014, I joined her at a Genealogy Day conference in Nyköping, Sweden. There, I decided to take a DNA test to see if this would help me find my grandfather. The results showed a close match with my sister, and then lots of distant matches that didn’t give me any leads.

In 2015, when I retired, I encountered a colleague who was related to my grandfather Carl, but not to my grandmother Elin. We talked about how we were related, and I suggested that she take a DNA test to see if we were actually related. She readily agreed. When the test result came, our DNA did not match.

This confirmed that Carl was not, in fact, my biological grandfather.

So if it wasn’t Carl… who was it?

My sisters and I began to dig around and come up with ideas for who our real grandfather might have been. When we came up with a possible lead, we looked up that person’s relatives and asked them to take a DNA test. In this way, we tested a childhood friend of my grandmother’s, an employer for whom she had worked as a maid, and a priest who resembled my grandfather in a photograph. None of these people matched us.

For Christmas of 2019, I decided to purchase a MyHeritage DNA test as a Christmas present for myself. The result was interesting: there was a 3.3% (235 cM) match with a younger woman in the U.S. (“A”), and yet another slightly weaker match — 1.7% (120 cM) located in England (“B”). I wrote to these two women and a few others. “A,” who lived in Florida, had no knowledge of a possible Swedish background. This was frustrating, there were no known emigrants on my mother’s or father’s side.

In early February 2021, I received an email via MyHeritage from “B” in England.  She apologized for taking a year to see my message, but she was certain that we are related. She is a descendant of August Olsson from Halmstad, who emigrated to England at the end of the 19th century. My wife, who is a genealogist, looked him up in the church records and also got the names of his parents and of his siblings. The results corresponded with what my sister had already found out about an American DNA match (“C”).

At this point I decided to sign up for a paid MyHeritage plan so I could look further into other family trees. I learned that “A”’s father was also named Olson. The match with (“C”) from the DNA-test I did in 2014 became relevant again with the ancestors of Olson when we took a closer look at their trees as we found a connection to Halmstad. Now there was no doubt we were on the right track: my sister had researched “C” a year earlier but did not feel that she could connect them to our biological grandfather.

I wrote to “C” and told him that we were probably related. He replied quickly and told me that he was also descended from Gustaf Samuel Olsson. I replied and told him about my close match with “A,” and asked if he knew her. He said no, but the next day, he wrote that he had found out that “A”s father was a descendant of Simon Olson — Gustaf Samuel’s nephew. Both Simon and my grandmother Elin lived in Halmstad in 1910 when Elin got pregnant with her first child. He emigrated to the United States in January 1911, 6 months before my father was born. All of Simon’s elder brothers had already emigrated to the United States beforehand. All signs seemed to be pointing to Simon.

Photo of Simon Olson enhanced and colorized with MyHeritage’s photo tools. See the incredible difference!

Photo of Simon Olson enhanced and colorized with MyHeritage’s photo tools. See the incredible difference!

Earlier, I had posted a question on Facebook in a local Halmstad group asking if anyone knew about the Olson family, and provided some additional details about them I had found. I got a response from a woman in Halmstad who said she had done genealogy research on the Olson family. I told her that we had a main suspect in Simon Olson. She became completely silent, and then said, “Well, that was Simon. He was my husband’s uncle. I met him a few times.”

Her husband agreed to take a MyHeritage DNA test, and his results revealed a match of 6.3% (448,5‎ cM) — confirming that he was a cousin of my biological grandfather.

It has been a journey of 6–7 years that required a lot of hard work, patience, and humility. We hit walls throughout our research, but we never stopped believing that we could find who we were looking for: our biological grandfather, Simon Olson (1891–1964).

Throughout this process, we pulled together information from numerous resources, and all of them played an important part in reaching our goal. However, it was the DNA Matches we received through MyHeritage that ultimately gave us our big breakthrough.

Today, thanks to our findings, we are enjoying relationships with new relatives and acquaintances in Sweden and the USA that we gained throughout this beautiful yet challenging journey.

Thank you, MyHeritage.

The post MyHeritage DNA Helped Me Find My Real Grandfather appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Source: My Heritage

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.