Giving DNA genealogy testing a few more chances

I am waiting to hit the jackpot with DNA genealogy testing. I am envious of the stories of great successes I’ve read on forums. My chances of the same success seem pretty low because both of my parents came to the USA in the early 1950s from the USSR.

My mother took a Family Finder test from FamilyTreeDNA in September and her results came back in late October. So far, her matches haven’t given me any breakthroughs. My mother has collected 50 matches and 16 of those are common matches with me.

Meanwhile, I only have 62 matches in three years from the same test. Soon after I did the Family Finder test, I also did the MtDNA test, which searches for matches by going through my mother, her mother, her mother, etc. I have five matches that should be related to me in the past five generations. So far, I’ve had no luck with these matches for my German roots from current day Poland.

I’m giving this DNA testing two more tries. My mother’s brother has agreed to take a Family Finder test from FamilyTreeDNA. I am curious whether a male relative will bring me some luck.

Soon after his first matches come though, I will buy the Y-DNA 12 marker test to see whether matches can be found for my paternal grandfather’s family. Y-DNA tests search for matches by going through father, his father, his father, etc. Only males can take this test. Men and women can take the MtDNA test.

It also would be interesting to find out from the Y-DNA test where my grandfather’s family from Kursk, Russia, came from thousands of years ago, giving me that line’s haplogroup.

Also, I have taken another DNA test. This time through 23andme. I’ve heard complaints that too many 23andme customers are more concerned about medical genetic data.

The FDA pulled the plug on 23andme for releasing customers’ chances of having various health conditions and responding to certain drugs so 23andme is using a large marketing campaign to attract more customers interested in genealogy.

23andme customers also complain on the company’s forum that matches won’t share their genetic data. I’ll see in a few days if I will have the same problem.

The three main companies for DNA genealogy testing are FamilyTree DNA, AncestryDNA and 23andme. I hope to have a better idea on which company is the best when I see my first set of 23andme matches. 23andme is claiming “the largest DNA ancestry service in the world” so I’ll see whether it can provide me with the best matches.

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Finally getting somewhere in a strange time

I finally have figured out which archive that could have my grandfather’s WWII military records- Central Military Archives of Ukraine in Kiev.

Talk about the wrong time to send a letter to archives in Kiev. I am hoping that by the time my letter arrives that the city will have some normalcy so I can finally get an answer on my grandfather’s military service.

I had assumed that since my grandfather served in the Red Army during World War II that all the records are still in Moscow. But since he was serving from Kiev, his hometown, it seems that Ukraine possesses his records.

A little more than a year ago, I learned the regiment where he served. I sent a letter to Russian Central Military Archives (ЦАМО Российской Федерации, ул. Кирова, д. 74, 142100, Московская обл., г. Подольск, Russia) back in January 2013.

The archives wrote a letter in April 2013, stating it did not have any records for that regiment. For some reason, the Russian Consulate General in New York City mailed this letter to me a few weeks ago.

So I am going to cross my fingers that my letter arrives at Ukrainian Central Military Archives (Галузевий державний архів Міністерства оборони України, вул. Бориспільська, 16, 02093, м. Київ) and the archives will find something on my grandfather. I don’t know about the chances that my grandfather’s records still exist.

He, his wife and baby daughter escaped Kiev in winter 1943 to southern Germany, thanks to my grandmother’s half-German ancestry. People in the Soviet Union were able to escape with the help of Germany if they could prove German ancestry.

It was bad enough that my grandfather was a POW of the German Army. Many Soviet soldiers were killed for being a POW so it was best for my grandfather to run for his life. His escape from a POW camp is another mystery.

I’ve heard that records of Soviets who were POWs or escaped the USSR were destroyed. My grandfather’s records also could have been destroyed by the terrible bombings of Kiev.

Unlike so many Americans, I don’t have letters from my grandfather to my grandmother while he served in the war nor photos of him in uniform. Some people are lucky enough to have relatives’ WWII uniforms and medals.

I don’t have a scrap of paper stating my grandfather served in the war that engulfed his hometown. My mother only has stories from her mother. I am hoping soon I can tell my mom about her father’s service in the Soviet Army.

Related post:

Getting closer to finding grandpa’s WWII military record