Three siblings go on a DNA test journey

I have read on forums and Facebook group pages about the advantages of having siblings taking the same DNA test. So I decided to test my mother and her brother and sister for my own curiosity.

With my mother’s family mainly being Russian, I decided to get everyone the Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA. Extensive genealogy research shows my maternal grandfather is 100 percent Russian and my maternal grandmother is 50 percent Russian and 50 percent German from Poland.

So here are the numbers of doing the same DNA test for me, my mother, my aunt and my uncle. I have 79 matches and I have 24 matches in common with my mother and 14 matches in common with my aunt but only 3 matches in common with my uncle.

My mother has 80 matches and she has 33 in common with her sister and 26 in common with her brother. My aunt has 76 matches and 26 in common with her brother and 33 in common with her sister. My uncle has 26 matches in common each with his two sisters.

By spending lots of money on these DNA tests, I am hoping my mother, aunt and uncle will give me stronger matches than I have. We all have a bunch of 5th-remote cousins.

My mother has matches for one 2nd-4th cousin, one 3rd-5th cousin and seven 4th-remote cousins. My aunt has matches for one 2nd-4th cousin, three 3rd-5th cousins and three 4th-remote cousins. My uncle has matches for only five 4th-remote cousins.

Naturally, the three siblings don’t match as closely for some people. It is noticeable my aunt’s 3rd-5th cousin matches are listed as 4th-remote cousins for my uncle.

For me, it is most important to get as many Russian and Ukrainian cousin matches as possible due to struggles of document-based genealogy for some family lines.

Based on information matches posted and names of matches, I believe my uncle has 10 matches with people who have Russian and Ukrainian ancestry, my mom has 18 Russian and Ukrainian ancestry matches and my aunt has 12 matches with that ancestry.

Several people need to post more information to their profiles but it is noticeable that more people with Russian and Ukrainian ancestry are taking the Family Finder test. This gives me a lot of hope for some great matches in the future, especially when Family Tree DNA keeps DNA samples for at least 25 years.

Here are the results of my mother, aunt and uncle’s ethnicity breakdowns.




More letters on their way to Kiev

Over the summer, I was counting down the days to when archives in Kiev would reopen on Sept. 1. My researcher didn’t find information on people I know from my family tree. He has provided me with names, addresses and phone numbers of two people who could be children of my great-grandfather’s brothers.

I am going to take two more stabs at trying to find my Trunov family in Kiev. This family line is such a struggle because so many records were destroyed during WWII, no one knows a family church in Kiev and so little is known about my great-grandfather’s siblings.

Not surprisingly, my great-grandfather’s name translates into quiet. He adored his sister, Anna, so a lot is known only about her family. When he decided to write a letter to his son and daughter about his family before he died, I don’t imagine he was thinking a great-granddaughter would be reading the letter to find his siblings’ families.

So I will write again those “Dear random person with same family name, Are you related to me?” letters. The timing couldn’t be the worst. The fighting between Ukraine and Russia doesn’t probably help my situation.

But I am not waiting to write these letters. I would be mad at myself if the person in Kiev who knows the family information dies and some younger relative tells me that he/she doesn’t know anything.

I am determined to find my maternal grandmother’s cousins, who lived in two cities destroyed during WWII. There is a great story to tell about their lives and I hope sometime soon I’ll be able to tell it.

New Russian cousins found again!

My best resource I’ve found for my family search has been Всероссийское Генеалогическое Древо (ВГД). The website’s name translates into All Russia Family Tree in English and it feels as if all Russians and Ukrainians who care about genealogy and family searches are on this forum.

I’ve found family not once, twice nor three times on this website. I can credit ВГД four times for helping me find my Russian cousins.

The man from St. Petersburg who contacted me about possibly being related to my paternal grandfather’s mother’s family finally got proof from archives that we are related.

His grandfather was a great-grand nephew of  my great-grandmother. Our common ancestors are great-great-grandparents. It will be interesting what I will learn about my great-grandmother’s family through this distant cousin.

I wouldn’t have any bragging rights about finding distant Russian cousins if I never gave in and forced myself to be comfortable on Russian language genealogy forums. I got irritated that it was “so hard” to use ВГД until I found Google Translate to make registering, reading and posting on the forum as easy as an English language forum.

I’m excited about who else I could find as I continue my journey looking for my  cousins and family who were never seen again after WWII.

Related post:

Wondering if my family tree is about to grow









Try DNA testing for dirt cheap

I know DNA testing is a gamble at times. But AncestryDNA has an offer worth trying.

Use this link to get the test for $49. Then, use FREESHIPDNA for free shipping. I don’t know how long these coupon codes will work. DNA testing doesn’t get this cheap with Family Tree DNA nor 23andme.

The test will only ship within the USA for now. It is rumored the test will be available abroad in some countries next year.

Here is my FAQ on testing with AncestryDNA.

It has the best ethnicity breakdown among the three main DNA testing companies. AncestryDNA is well worth doing if you are looking for relatives in the USA, especially for adoptees.

If you are on Facebook, check out my Facebook group.


Nothing like a good chuckle from

My membership has not been of much use, except for immigration records for my family. Most recently, it has become a source of amusement.

I recently discovered’s database, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989. It is a wonderful resource of scanned phone books. This is a great alternative to the 1950 U.S. Census, which will be made public in 8 years.

My most recent discovery in the database was quite amusing. My paternal grandmother’s family lived in Miami and I have never noticed another family with the same name in Miami in the 1950s.

I knew an address looked awfully familiar but the first name was Beach. I wonder which relative tried to communicate their first name for the phone directory. How could the name Alexander or Anisja become Beach? Maybe this is a terminology used in the 1950s that someone could explain to me.

These two first names also were listed in the phonebook as Anna and Arthur. Anisja was called Aunt Anne by her nieces and nephews. I know these people are my relatives from these phone directories because I have the same addresses on immigration records.

The same phone directory butchered my grand uncle Wasiliy’s name (Vasiliy, the more correct English spelling) into Wasitij. The name was later changed in the phone directory as Wasilli.

Russian and Ukrainian names are quite a challenge to spell for some. That makes researching Russian and Ukrainian relatives more complicated. A lot of Russian names that end with v get changed to w or ff (like Smirnoff vodka) and those with y get changed to j (like Anisja).

With some smart search techniques, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 is an incredible resource for genealogy and family searches. The 1950s Miami white pages list the first names of spouses and workplaces of those listed. I noticed the same information in New York City directories.

Can anyone imagine phone directories listing places of employment for each person listed today? Just imagine the lawsuits for invasion of privacy. It’s a good thing that things were different back in the 20th century. has another similar resource, U.S. Public Records Index. It is much less accurate. I searched myself and I found myself living in another state. My dead grandfather was supposedly living at my childhood home. Then, a cousin’s birth date was off by 26 years.

So go check out U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989, a resource with 1.5 billion residential listings. It is not worth waiting for the 1950 U.S. Census when this massive database is available.

Wondering if my family tree is about to grow

Lately, my research has been a standstill until I checked my Russian e-mail account a few days ago. A man from St. Petersburg e-mailed me to ask for more information on my great-grandmother’s Kozyrev relatives.

All I have on my great-grandmother, besides archive records, is a professional photo of her with her husband and son from the 1930s or early 1940s. I have a few personal stories from my grandfather’s letters to my father written in the 1950s and 1960s.

With my grandfather being born in 1885, no one living can tell me more about my great-grandmother or her family. My father was an oops for my grandfather when he was 50 years old.

The man in St. Petersburg doesn’t know his great-grandparents’ names so he will try to get his grandfather’s birth record from a registry office. I am hoping the man can get the birth record from the communist era and we will find his great-grandfather on my family tree.

The man found me on two Russian forums- and I posted information on my great-grandmother’s family two years ago after I had a professional researcher put together my Kozyrev family tree.

The second forum is the place where I have found family three times. Several years ago, I had to give into posting on Russian forums in Russian to find distant and missing relatives. The chances of finding relatives from Russia and Ukraine on genealogy forums for English speakers are pretty slim.

Finding family from the former USSR is like weight loss. You have to change your attitude and methods if you are not seeing the results. It also takes time and patience for results to appear.

Thankfully, Google has a free online translator to make the search much less painful than dieting.

So let time go fast so I can see whether all the money I put into my Kozyrev family tree will result in finding some relatives. It’s pretty lucky to find someone with a common family surname and village. Now, the registry office needs to come through for the man in St. Petersburg.

Find Russian and Ukrainian graves online

Thanks to my incredible luck of having a Russian man find my grandfather’s grave, I was inspired to add  a new page- Cemetery Database.

I hope to find many websites for photographed Russian and Ukrainian cemeteries so graves can be viewed online. Luckily, I also am finding databases for cemeteries.

Hopefully, the excitement of photographing graves brought on by Find A Grave also will spread to Russia and Ukraine.

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