Sunday, June 2, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Most Frustrating Research Challenge

This week's challenge from Randy Seaver is one of those Saturday Night Genealogy Fun questions when I know right away what my answer is.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  One of the goals of every genealogy researcher is to solve difficult name and relationship problems.  What is one of your most frustrating research challenges that you have not yet solved? 

2.  Share your challenging problem on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please share a link in Comments on this post if you write your own post.

Yup, didn't even have to think twice.

Definitely, my most frustrating research challenge that I have not yet solved is determining who my paternal grandfather's biological father was.

I have been writing since 2016 (is it really eight years already?!), when I showed with Y-DNA testing that my father (and by extension my grandfather) was not biologically a Sellers, about my search for my grandfather's biological father.

"I'm Apparently a Sellers by Informal Adoption" was when I announced the results of the Y-DNA testing, way back on February 6, 2016.  I compared my father's Y-DNA to his male cousin's and easily determined that they did not descend from the same man in a genealogically relevant timeframe and that my family branch are not biologically Sellerses.  And so began the hunt for my grandfather's biological father.

I wrote about the initial research on December 3, 2016, coincidentally for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:  "Who Is Your MRUA?" (MRUA means "most recent unknown ancestor.")  My MRUA is my great-grandfather.  My father matched two men named Mundy at 111 – 4 markers, so I focused my search for a viable Mundy.  Suzanne McClendon, one of my readers, went to town on finding newspaper articles, and we identified a likely candidate as a man named Bertram Mundy.

Another Saturday Night Genealogy Fun topic encouraged me to write about my continuing research.  I posted "Research Grief" on September 9, 2017 (a mere eight days after having moved to Gresham, Oregon).  At that time I had researched back two generations of the Mundy family and found no living descendants after following them forward in time.  I was planning to go back another generation in my search.

About a year and a half after my December 2016 post, Randy used the same topic for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  For the May 26, 2018 version of "Who Is Your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor (MRUA)?", I wrote an update of where I was on my research.  I had not researched further back on Bertram Mundy's family tree, but I had come up with some other things I could do, such as get a copy of Mundy's divorce file and try to find anyone who was related to him to inquire about family stories.

Since that post, I have done some additional research.  After researching back four generations and finding no living descendants, I have abandoned the idea of tracking a Mundy cousin down and paying for an autosomal test.  Anyone I could find at this point will be so distantly related that the likelihood of sharing enough DNA to be relevant is very small.

My new goal is trying to find a photograph of good old Bert Mundy and comparing that to my grandfather and father's looks.  Not as scientific, but yes, I am grasping at straws.  I also still need to obtain Bert's divorce file to see if anything is mentioned about philandering.  Finding my great-grandmother's name in the file would be a smoking gun, but I'm not holding my breath on that.  And there is still the off-chance I might find some documentation of Bert having traveled to the Philadelphia area around July or August 1902.

One other thing I have done is ask a couple of friends who do search angel work for adoptees if they can help.  One said yes but then had a baby shortly afterward and is kind of busy with other things still.  It's possible that someone with more experience with DNA might be able to gain more information from what I have, which is not only my father's DNA but also that of two of his half-sisters, all of them children of my grandfather and each from a different mother.  So that's still on my list.


  1. If Bert's divorce file is readily accessible, I'd be sending off for that in a heartbeat. If you are really lucky, your great grandmother's name will be mentioned. Even if it's not, it's definitely an indication that him being married doesn't preclude him from being the biological father of your grandfather.

    1. Oh, he's definitely still in the running as a possibility! I don't think I've obtained a divorce file from New Jersey yet, so I hope Jersey doesn't lock them up like New York City does, which treats them as vital records, not court records. But I do need to try.

  2. Yes, I thought you would write about this problem. I see you have some ideas. I hope they pan out.

    1. I know, it has come up a lot, hasn't it? Time to order that divorce file and see if it helps me.


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