Roots & Branches is an award-winning, weekly newspaper column begun in 1998 that currently is published in the Altoona Mirror. It’s the only syndicated column on genealogy in Pennsylvania!

Posted February 13, 2018 by  |  No Comments

Last week’s “Roots & Branches” column on DNA and genealogy struck a chord with Ebensburg reader Charlie Moyer, who went from skeptic to believer overnight after taking a test a couple of years ago.

“The subject of DNA is very special to me,” Moyer wrote.

He said that he’s an Ancestry.com subscriber but had been putting off doing DNA for no particular reason until a phone call with his brother in September 2016 in which the brother said he had taken a test.

The test showed mostly Irish, some Scottish and the rest a little German. “So, I decided it was time for me to get to it,” Moyer wrote. “Couple weeks later I turned the computer on one morning, and there were the results. Pretty much what I expected. Along with those results was a list of e-mail addresses belonging to anyone that took the test that came close to matching my DNA. First one on the list was my brother’s. Statement said something like with all the matches, this had to be a sibling. I got chills. I was so excited, I called him right then!”

Although this was just confirmation of what he’d always known, it was still exciting and made him a believer.

“Sometime a few weeks later I was scrolling down the list of e-mail matches and just picked one at random and clicked on it,” Moyer wrote. “This e-mail was listed with probable 2nd cousins. It only had four words enclosed: Gallitzin, Biller, Bradly and Rogella.”

Since Gallitzin was the name of the town where his mother was from, Biller and Bradley were the maiden names his mother and grandmother, and Rogella was an in-law’s name, Moyer sent this person an e-mail.

About a day later, the person replied. Her name was Colleen and she lived in Waynesboro, Virginia. It turned out that Colleen’s deceased mother Barb was a first cousin of Moyer.

“We weren’t particularly close, but had been together several times, although not in many years,” Moyer wrote. “After a couple of exchanges, she asked if she could send some pictures to me and maybe I could identify some of the folks in the pictures.”

It turned out that the pictures were taken in Moyer’s grandmother’s yard in Gallitzin. “I did know everyone in the pictures. Two of which my mother and dad and her grandmother and grandfather were in together. This along with my grandmother in the picture,” he wrote. “The best part is that I was in one of the pictures and didn’t know that picture was out there. I was 13 at the time, 1956.”

Moyer eventually met with Colleen in person and exchanged more information.

They’ve stayed in contact since then – even through the pro football season with Moyer backing the Pittsburgh Steelers and Colleen favoring the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Bottom line, I am sold on DNA,” Moyer wrote.

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