It’s been almost 4 years since I decided to try DNA testing for genealogy. Lately, it has been a bust of distant cousins who rarely share one common surname.
So out of boredom, I started e-mailing my supposed distant cousins who have common ethnicity. I totally forgot I already e-mailed one match my standard message asking whether he has ancestors from the same places by chance. That was the best mistake I could have made.
My fourth cousin reminded me that I sent the same message twice but offered me something I never got from my other thousands of DNA distant cousins. He acquired records from Russian State Archives of Ancient Documents on our common ancestors from the 1590s-1600s.
I forgot that we had a common surname from the same Russian region. My cousin researched his ancestry as far back as possible and determined existing records can only connect us back to the 1600s while I had given up hope on connecting our families.
A great researcher in Kursk, central Russia, Evgeniy Karpuk, researched my Trunov family back to Peter the Great time, leaving the door open a few years later for this cousin to unload records on me as far back as 1594.
Just 5 years ago, I discovered my great-grandfather’s birth village of the late 19th century written on a German immigration record. I found a great Russian genealogy forum to figure out where this village exists on a map. On that forum, a not-so-friendly man from Belarus who cursed me out for America’s involvement in the Bosnian War gave me Karpuk’s contact information.
All my genealogy ducks lined up and today I have seen records dated from 1594-1646 from a cousin living in Siberia. It did come at the price of $150 US dollars for 22 scans but that is much less than Russian State Archives of Ancient Documents would have charged me.
Thanks to these scans, I know the names of my 11th- and 12-great-grandfathers and the village where they lived in the 1600s.
So, DNA testing is worth the cheap price of tests today. I paid $289 for my Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder test, which is now $99. Just one e-mail message to a cousin who seemed too distantly related helped me discover more ancestors because I made the effort to reach out.
Here is a sample of these old Russian records: