It’s Another First Cousin

Roberts DNA
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.One of the benefits of using Ancestry DNA for Genetic Testing is their vast database.  Because there are so many people in their system, you are much more likely to have a DNA match. Sure enough, it happened again. This time, a previously unknown person, Debra contacted me via Ancestry Messages with the simple message, “My DNA results says that you are my 1st cousin.”

Oh my, here we go again.

I clicked on View the Match, then clicked on the little “Info icon” to see how much DNA we shared. Debra and I share 621 centimorgans across 25 segments. According to the chart I use, that amount of shared DNA put us in an overlapping range of first cousin and first cousin one removed. I then clicked on “Shared Matches” and saw that she also matched with my Roberts half-siblings. Because I can view my half-sister’s matches, I looked at her results and saw that she and Debra share 893 centimorgans of DNA across 37 segments. Solidly in the first cousin range. For sure, Debra is a first cousin and now I knew that we share a common grandparent on my paternal side.

My grandparents, Bert Allen Roberts and Essie Pansy Barnes, had five children. The amount of DNA shared was not enough for Debra to be my half-sibling, so that ruled out my biological father, Hugh Eugene Roberts, from being involved. In subsequent messages, she indicated she knew who her mother was, so that eliminated Pansy and Helen, leaving only two potential sources for her to be a first cousin – Uncle Bert and Uncle John. Between the two, Uncle Bert was, by far, the likely candidate.

Photo of Bert Allen Roberts, Jr with two (unknown) women.
Bert Allen Roberts, Jr. and two unknown women, c. 1947.

Then, Debra let us know that her sister told her that her father’s name was Bert, but never knew his last name. Debra also sent a photo of Bert, her supposed father, from the late 1940s. My half-brother Tom knew Bert and was able to identify Uncle Bert from the picture.  Mystery solved!

So, welcome cousin Debra Edwards to the growing Roberts clan. I am so pleased you were able to identify who your father is after so many years.

So far, DNA test results have led to my learning about:

Note: I wish Family Tree Maker had a better way to indicate offspring producing relationships.  Creating a “spouse” and then set the relationship set to “Friend” or set to “Other” is cumbersome at best but doesn’t describe the relationship. Sigh….



Another DNA Success Story

Cousins figure out relationship.

One of my early atDNA matches was on Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA suggested that GV and I were probably 4th cousins. He had some Roberts in his tree, but I figured that there was only a one in 32 chance that our match was on his Roberts ancestor. There was another person, MA, who shared the exact same segment of DNA with GV and me. If I could find the common ancestor between GV and MA, because of triangulation of the same segment matching, we’d know the common ancestor they share with me. I worked to help MA develop his tree further but never found a connection for him to GV and consequently never determined a common ancestor to me.

Then, I did determine who my biological father is, connected with new half-siblings and have been exploring my new family tree. I thought back to my connections with GV and MA and wondered if I could find the link now.

I took a look at the surnames I’ve been researching and compared them with the names in GV’s tree. Sure enough, we both had a John Roberts marrying an Elizabeth Blackwell. We found our common ancestor.

His tree had my “Asa” as “Acy” but otherwise, it fit my ancestors entirely. The generations are:

GV’s Roberts Line
My Roberts Line
John Calvin & Elizabeth
3rd Great
John Calvin & Elizabeth
Elijah Josiah Roberts
2nd Great  
Asa Ellis Roberts
John Roberts
Hugh Ellis Roberts
Myrtle Roberts
Bert Allen Roberts
[Name Suppressed]

Our common ancestors are our third great-grandparents, and we are of the same generation, so we are 4th cousins (sharing 59cM). That fits the amount of DNA we share perfectly.

GV and I have long known we are related genetically. It is just so fulfilling to finally confirm the relationship with a paper trail.

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Compulsive searching – Bert Allen Roberts (1903-1949)

Compulsive searching…

I think the more passionate we are about something the more likely we can be compulsive about it. We can put hours and hours into something with no results and still keep going. At some point, we just need to set it aside and say, “I’ll come back to this later.” Such is the case with my research regarding my potential grandfather Bert Allen Roberts. (See My Paternal Brick Wall for details regarding “potential.”)
I have many key facts regarding Bert and his life. I know about his birth, marriage, children. I even followed him through all the censuses and through many city directories. I just wanted to find his death information.  It can’t be that hard….
I thoroughly searched Family Search, Ancestry, and several of my other regular genealogical sites and didn’t find anything. He just like vanished after the 1940 census. Then, I turned to one of my favorite sites, Newspapers.Com. I quickly found an article about a Bert Roberts who died in a motor vehicle accident on 1 May 1949. 
The Terre Haute Star (Terre Haute, Indiana) ·
Mon, May 2, 1949,  Page 1
Via Newspapers.Com
The article indicated that this Bert lived in Detroit. I know that at least two of his children were living in Detroit in the late 1940s so imagining that my Bert moved to Detroit during the 1940s is quite imaginable. So, could this article’s Bert Roberts the same Bert Roberts I am researching? With the name and date of death, it should be easy to confirm that this is the right Bert Roberts and I will have the answer. After searching for hours… and hours… and hours… I just couldn’t find anything.  Sure, I found other articles about the accident but nothing that mentions next of kin. One article said that the body was shipped back to Detroit (NewspaperArchives accessed via MyHeritage). I thought I should find a death certificate in Indiana records – No such luck. Maybe an obituary in Detroit/Michigan records – Again no luck. I searched this way, that way, and the other way but no success. I found it incredulous that I couldn’t find a link as to who this Bert Roberts, who died in Elwood, IN, was. I kept searching. I got more and more compulsive about finding if this Bert was my Bert.
After spending the better part of three days (probably over 20 hours searching), I have finally come to the conclusion that this is not time spent well. I have other fish to fry and need to move on. Will I return to searching for my Bert’s death information? Of course, but I will also hope that my research into other individuals in this family will prove (or disprove) my Bert and this Bert are the same person.

Bert Allen Roberts (1903-1949)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 2

Bert Allen Roberts was probably born on 20 September 1903 in Sessor, Franklin County, Illinois[i]. I say “probably” because, although his marriage records indicate his birth as 20 September 1902, every census indicates him to be born consistent with a birth in September 1903 (age 6 in 1910 Census, age 16 in 1920 Census, etc.).  It is not clear why he would make himself 19 instead of 18 when he married, but it appears that he did.  I believe him to be the third of four children born to Hugh Ellis and Clora D (Scott) Roberts. His older siblings were Harry Ray and Carrie Mae. His younger sibling was Mable Ilean.
Family of Hosea Adams with Roberts children.
I believe his father died sometime between 1907 (conception of his sister) and 1909.  In any event, By the 1910 Census, his mother had remarried for a year and Bert was a stepson in the household of Hosea L. Adams living and attending school in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[ii]
In 1920, his is still living with his mother and step-father, in Hutsonville, Crawford County, Illinois, but now working as a farm laborer for wages[iii].
He married Essie Pansy Barnes about 19 May 1922[iv].  He and Essie show up in the 1929 City Directory for Terre Haute, Indiana. He and Essie also appear in the 1930 US Census in Terre Haute.[v] [vi]
The 1931 Terre Haute Directory is something of a conundrum. It shows Essie P Roberts (wid Bert A) working as a cook[vii]. I think this is in error for a number of reasons as follow. 
The 1934 Directory brings Bert back to life as a taxi driver living with Essie at 354 Chestnut.[viii]. Likewise, the 1936 City Directory has him and Essie still together and him working as a driver for the Circle Cab Co. [ix]
The 1940 Census has the Roberts family living at 1719 Chestnut Street, Terre Haute, with Bert working as a laborer in the enameling and stamping industry[x]. That is the last solid entry that I have for him.
We know that his youngest son, John Harald Roberts married Isabell Jean Matcher in May of 1947 and lived in Detroit.[xi]  We also know that his son, Hugh Eugene married Janet Marie Dion in Detroit in 1950.[xii] With at least two of his children living in Detroit in 1949, it is easy to imagine that Bert was also living in Detroit.  If so, the vehicle accident on 1 May 1949 could have easily been his death.
I know that I was being compulsive placing so much time trying to connect the 1949 death of a Bert Roberts to my Bert Roberts. I thought, my goodness, I should be able to find something about the death of Bert Roberts of Detroit who died in Elwood, Indiana on 1 May 1949. I will put it aside for now and come back to it after I’ve researched more of the family.  Hopefully, my overall genealogical research process will intercept the information I am looking for later and everything will fall into place.

[Correction: One of the grand-daughters of Bert Allen Roberts, confirmed that her grandfather died in 1949 in this motor vehicle fire. 1/31/2016]


[i] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” Sullivan Co., Indiana, Bert Allen Roberts, 1922, GS Film Number 001906822-Digital Folder Number 004170594-Image Number 00614, Image, Family Search,, 27 Dec 2015.
[ii] “1910 Census,” Turman, Sullivan, Indiana, Hosea L Adams,  Roll: T624_381; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0178; FHL microfilm: 1374394, Ancestry, 22 Dec 2015.
[iii] “1920 Census,” Hutsonville, Crawford, Illinois;, Hosey L Adams,  Roll: T625_364; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 29; Image: 66, Ancestry.Com, 22 Dec 2015.
[iv] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” Sullivan Co., Indiana, Bert Allen Roberts, 1922, GS Film Number 001906822-Digital Folder Number 004170594-Image Number 00614, Image, Family Search,, 27 Dec 2015.
[v] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1929, Terre Haute, Indiana, 411, Bert A Roberts, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 22 Dec 2015.
[vi] “1930 Census,” Terre Haute, Vigo, Indiana, Bert A Roberts – Head,  Roll: 635; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0022; Image: 637.0; FHL microfilm: 2340370, Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[vii] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1931, Terre Haute, Indiana, 387, Roberts, Essie P, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[viii] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1934, Terre Haute, Indiana, 323, Bert A Roberts, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[ix] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1936, Terre Haute, Indiana, 350, Bert A Roberts, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 22 Dec 2015.
[x] “1940 Census,” Terre Haute, Vigo, Indiana, USA, Bert Roberts – Head, Roll: T627_1103; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 84-31, Ancestry.Com, 21 Dec 2015. 
[xi] “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952,” John Harald Roberts, County File Number: 704264-State File Number: 381870, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.-, Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[xii] “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952,” Hugh Gueene Roberts [Eugene], County File Number: 780165 – State File Number: 461232, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.-, Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
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