Help Finding an Illegitimate Ancestor's Father...with three brothers as candidates for the dad. [closed]

+5 votes
My great-great grandfather, Oscar Clyde Vallery,'s father is unknown and for as long as I can remember, always has been. His mother was a woman named Mary Ann Cherron (b.1841) but still, I've never been able to place a father for him. According to his death record though, his father was a man named Frank Vallery. Since I know the different cousins for Oscar, I know which family he belongs to and I've assumed he was Francois Vallery (b.1853). I also know one of his distant cousins that he grew up with that eerily looks a lot like him, denoting closer ancestry - Gilmer "Boy" Vallery who was a son of Benoist Vallery (b.1842). Francois and Benoist were brothers which already makes this trickier. But when I took a DNA test, for some reason, I matched up with descendants of a man named Dennis "Denny" Vallery (b.1855) ...who as it happens is ALSO a brother to Francois and Benoist. Both of my cousins are about 3rd-4th cousins. One matches me 1.1% and the other matches me 1.21%. But according to my own calculations - if Denny was the father - then my first match would be a 5th cousin to me and the second would be a 7th cousin. But I'm so unsure as to which brother was Oscar's father. I know one of them had to be the father but I just don't know which. Does anyone know if there's a way to tell conclusively which of the three brothers is the father?
closed with the note: Resolved
asked in Genealogy Help by S G G2G6 (7.3k points)
closed by Darlene Athey-Hill
Thank you to everyone who replied and tried to help me figure this one out but I finally found it! Apparently Oscar's father was a man named Lucien Victor Vallery - he wrote it down in a marriage license that I stumbled across.

3 Answers

+4 votes
The only thing I can think of to help you in your quest is to find a direct descendants of EACH of the 3 brothers and to have them take an autosomal DNA test, probably at Ancestry.

Even so, it may be difficult to determine which is the father but it may serve to eliminate one of them.

Meanwhile, have you and your cousins added your DNA to GEDMatch?
answered by Rosemary Jones G2G6 Pilot (224k points)
Hmmm. Well one descendant of my great-great grandfather has been tested and is on GEDmatch. But the other two arent' as far as I know. Although I can send a message to both of them to see if they'd add theirs to GEDmatch. Would that be more conclusive that way? I mean, could you tell by Chromosomes? I'm sorry, I'm still new to the DNA part of geneaology lol.
I'm not totally sure except that I'm fairly sure it could eliminate one. And the more descendants, the better; male or female.

I hope someone else comes along to help.
Well, I appreciate it anyway! And I mean, that actually like you said, could help me eliminate at least one of the candidates which would be a huge help to me. I'm going to test our your theory soon and hopefully, I'll get a reply back so maybe I can figure all this out.


+6 votes

I am not sure you are on the right track.  Here is what I take for evidence.

1. The death record states that Oscar's father is Frank Vallery is good evidence.

2. Similarities in looks are very deceptive. I've seen 2 pictures of ancestors that look like the same person, but they weren't. I have also experienced a cousin who "looks" like cousins, but an NPE showed they were not related at all. this is not good evidence.

3. DNA services provide statistics on matching "Known" cousins. They don't provide statistics on the accuracy of the predictions. Once you get beyond 2nd cousins, the prediction allows for variances. A predicted 3rd cousin to you could also predict a 5th cousin to one brother, and no cousin to a 3rd brother.  

It's perfectly reasonable to accept, given the information provided here, that Francois Vallery (b.1853) is Oscar's father.

answered by Ken Sargent G2G6 Mach 5 (56.6k points)
Re: your #3.  Even closer than 2nd cousin, the estimates are only that.  My 2 first cousins were both tested by Ancestry, as I have been.  One is estimated to be my 1st cousin, the other my 2nd cousin.  It's all in how much genetic material we happen to share.
I agree, Sue! And it's very possible to inherit more DNA than is perceived.


I mean, it's still possible Oscar's father wasn't Francois - to be perfectly honest, I still don't know. I may never know. But what I do know is that I've only matched up so far with descendants of the other brother - Denny - as opposed to Benoist or Francois. And things seem to point to Denny. Although, I know even cousins can just look a lot alike without being more than just cousins. I, for one, favor my mother's brother's kids a lot and we're only first cousins. But still, it's intriguing to see if I can compare chromosomes to get an answer...
+3 votes
The short answer is "No". At that genetic distance there is no way to confirm one possibility over another.
answered by Cameron Davidson G2G3 (3.7k points)
Why the downvote? I was about to post something similar myself. There is no way to differentiate between brothers at this genetic distance.
Matthew, I agree. I hope it was given by someone new and still getting comfortable with this forum.  

I didn't plan on responding to this answer, but technically, there is a very slight possibility that something could be inferred by using some extensive mapping along the different lines. The possibility was so remote, that I had no issue with "no way" to determine something different.

I was going to qualify my answer and equivocate a bit, but then I thought that, for the purposes of the original questioner, the answer was a simple no.

Even testing every living descendant of the brothers is unlikely to provide a definitive answer, although it might change the probabilities. The question did ask about "conclusive" evidence.

I can understand a downvote if that person was expecting an explanation, but he/she just had to ask.

The most common use of Triangulation is to map segments. When I previously commented, I was only thinking about mapping the descendants of the brothers. It is possible to determine a segment that was passed to one brother but not the others.  

An easier way to determine if an NPE occurred, is to map the segments from the spouse of Oscar and the spouses of Oscars' siblings. This would be done by finding matches to these spouses ancestors.  

We are always dealing with probabilities. DNA is best used to determine if an NPE occurred, but there is a lot more work involved in determining where the NPE occurred, and even more, work determining the identity of the biological parent.

In this case, and most cases, I don't suggest devoting time and energy looking for an NPE.  IMO, I would concentrate my effort on the "low-hanging fruit. That would be documenting what you already know to be true and finding connections to DNA matches that further support your existing tree.

In other words, let the evidence (more DNA testers) come to you.  You may discover a closer NPE where you didn't expect it.

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