Marching toward solving a WWII family mystery with Ancestry DNA

I never have been so anxious for DNA results until my mother’s cousin agreed to DNA testing. Finding the mystery WWII soldier who fathered my mother’s cousin and left behind so many questions for three generations is resting on one Ancestry DNA test.

The results came in much quicker than expected, one week after the DNA kit arrived at the lab. I was imagining weeks of staring and yelling at my computer screen, “Just come in! I can’t wait another minute!”

I was expecting two scenarios: all 5th-8th cousin matches who would be completely useless or closer matches who would not answer my messages. I never expected the scenario I am in today.

In the past month since the results have arrived and continue to come in regularly, the closest matches have the tiniest family trees and won’t logged into their Ancestry accounts, in addition to not answering my messages. Now, I am screaming in my head,”Just log into your account and answer my messages!”


My cousin has one 3rd cousin match,  20 4th-6th cousin matches (one of these is listed as a very high match) and a massive list of 5th-8th cousins that ends on page 54.

Meanwhile, I have 36 pages of matches for the 4 years since I have tested with Ancestry and not one in common with my mother’s cousin. I have 6 in-common matches with her on Family Tree DNA.

Every day, I check for new matches more often than I want to admit and hoping to get more 2nd and 3rd cousin matches to go around matches who don’t have detailed family trees nor an interest in answering my messages.

Right now, I am putting my hope into the people who bought DNA kits for themselves and as gifts this holiday season. The chatter on Facebook sounds as if Ancestry did very well for selling its DNA this holiday.

The golden match will be on Ancestry DNA and that person hopefully will test soon. It is obvious that the mystery father was most likely an American or Canadian soldier. One look at this ethnicity breakdown definitely doesn’t point to a German nor Russian soldier as the father, when the mother is half Russian and East Prussian.


My biggest fear is that an older man living in a nursing home, who is thinking that he never had children, will die not knowing about his daughter. He has two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson.

My great-grandparents died, wondering what happened to their pregnant daughter. She left war-torn Berlin for Soviet Ukraine, hoping for more food and better living in her home country. Five years ago, the American Red Cross and International Tracing Service teamed up successfully to answer that question by finding her.

Now, all hope is on Ancestry DNA to help name the man who fathered my cousin to put in the final piece of this puzzle. It just takes the right person to take the DNA test and make time to answer my messages to make one woman’s dream of finding her father’s family to come true.

Remember to click on the follow button for this blog  on the top right to keep posted on this journey.

Previous posts on this story:
Countdown begins for AncestryDNA to solve a 71-year-old mystery from WWII

A shocking twist gets thrown into finding the mystery birth father from WWII

A DNA test and small paper trail face off to complete a WWII love story

17 thoughts on “Marching toward solving a WWII family mystery with Ancestry DNA

  1. David


    I’m searching for the relatives of a lost family friend. His name was Bruno Petkevitch…or Petkevich…I’m not sure of the spelling. He came to the USA many times in the 1930’s. He was the representative of the Coal Ministry in Russia, which at that time, was doing business with the US coal industry. Can anyone help with this search? Thank you.


      1. David

        Hello, Thank you for replying. Well..for one thing I’d love to find some of his descendants…or any info pertaining to him. He’d spent about a year in Boston, Massachusetts , doing business arrangements with my cousin’s company for the importation of Blue Coal from Russia to the USA. At that time, my cousin’s company was the biggest wholesale coal distributor in the USA and they wanted the Russian coal. I don’t know very much other than the family stories about his stay at their home in Boston. Mr. Petkevitch had apparently been a nobleman under the Tsar. He’d been married 3 times and had children but I don’t know how many. My family became close friends with him. Stalin wouldn’t allow his family to accompany him to the US. After about a year, he went back to Russia, wanted to move his family to the US. From that point on, all the gifts and letters that my family sent to him were returned by the Russians. My cousin sent a man over to Russia to speak with him and Mr. Petkevitch told the guy to tell my family that he was no longer allowed to leave Russia and could not contact my family anymore. The story in the family is that Stalin had him eliminated because he had become “Americanized”. I was always fascinated by this story. These stories always fascinated us and I’d love to discover more about him. Thanks.


      2. I found a Bruno Petkevich, who came to the USA on 15 Apr 1930 on a visa from Russia. His port of arrival was New York, New York
        on the ship Olympic. He was born about 1880. Could this be him? If so, I would recommend doing a search request for $20 at If there is a visa file on him there, it would give you a great start.


      3. David

        Hi again. I’m looking at the site but where did you find the info you gave me about him? I don’t see where to look for him under the date you described, but it says it’s $ 65 to search. I’m confused, am I looking at the correct page? Thanks again for helping .


      4. I found the information on The USCIS Genealogy Program is the cheapest and simplest way to get the files on him. The search is $20 and getting the files are using $20-$25. I haven’t dealt with the $65 fee yet. He was probably told to stay under the radar in the USA so it will be really hard to get any other information online.


      5. David

        Hi again: Thank you for helping with this. I guess I’m a bit stupid because I can’t find any $ 20 fee on that site. Everything costs $65…but then again maybe I’m just not clicking the right thing,,,,these government sites are so exasperatingly confounding. Could you kindly send me a link to the page where it says $ 20? I’ve spent hours looking on that site and am hopelessly confused. Thank you so much! I can’t imagine that he’d have had to stay under the radar as he was on official business to negotiate a contract between the governments of the US and Russia.


      6. Apparently, they have increased their prices. When I did the searches 2 years ago, it was $20. I didn’t notice that everything was increased to $65 when I gave you the link. He was under the radar because there are 2 things on him on I can’t find anything on him through Google. This is the only genealogy service that could have his records.


      7. David

        Thank you. I’ll try to access all of this. It is incredible that this government makes everything so unbelievably difficult with their idiotic “privacy statement” nonsense and all of that garbage, The site asks for “proof of death”!! ?? What are we supposed to up Stalin and and ask when and why he killed this poor man …so as to satisfy some robot in Washington? You ‘ve been very kind and have given me some good leads to follow. I’ll keep trying.


  2. Pingback: Recommended Reads | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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