DNA testing finally proves its value in finding 16th century documents

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:


10 thoughts on “DNA testing finally proves its value in finding 16th century documents

  1. jansfamily100

    What a great story…..never thought it possible to get this far back. My ancestors came from Bukovina Ukraine (Austia-Hungary) in 1898 to Manitoba Canada. I may not be this successful but it sure is awesome to see someone else being so successful…congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary O'Shea

    This is a great example of how reaching out to distant cousins can help you discover more about your family. My husbands grandfather was from Russia (Lithuania) and I have his parents names from his marriage certificate but not the place of birth. Regards,
    Mary O’Shea

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great sign, that atDNA really works. I’m on the stage Y-DNA research but already done FF test. And I’m native Ukrainian, but I have many “cousins” from Europe and other regions. So your example give me confidence, that need to try emailing all of them to get more data as I have now. Most direct paternal info I have is 1780 year, and I need more 🙂


      1. Oh yeah, I was there. Btw, thanks for this reminder, because when I was using both archive to upload, it turned out, that archives were broken – not all data was there. And only months ago or even more, after request to FTDNA support, I figured out the reason. No I’m going to try again, with bigger file.

        Liked by 1 person

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