Can DNA Analysis Confirm My Ancestry?

I’ve traced the ancestry of my maternal grandfather, Kostanty Niedziałkowski, back to the late 17th century in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Wedding of Kostanty Niedzialkowski and Helena Chmielewska - 1918

The Wedding of Kostanty Niedziałkowski and Helena Chmielewska

SOURCE: The Wedding of Kostanty Niedziałkowski and Helena Chmielewska. Photographed 10 July 1918 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Photographer Unknown.

But there’s a problem with my proposed Niedziałkowski pedigree.

I’m missing some key documents to prove some of the relationships. In particular, I’m missing the birth record of my grandfather, the marriage record of my great grandparents, and the birth record of my great grandfather.

My proposed pedigree is as follows:

  • Grandparents: Kostanty Niedziałkowski and Helena Chmielewska
  • Great Grandparents: Teofil Niedziałkowski and Ksawera (Zygmuntowicz or Napierkowska)
  • 2nd Great Grandparents: Wojciech Niedziałkowski and Julianna Gutowska
  • 3rd Great Grandparents: Antoni Niedziałkowski and Karolina Milewska
  • 4th Great Grandparents: Tomasz Niedziałkowski and Cecylia Chotkowska
  • 5th Great Grandparents: Ignace Niedzialkowski and Zofia Szamińska
  • 6th Great Grandparents: Krzysztof Niedziałkowski and Konstantja Żaboklicka

Kostanty’s Parents 

Now, even though I haven’t found my grandfather’s birth record, I was able to obtain the names of Kostanty’s parents from several documents:

  • My grandfather’s Immigrant Passenger Manifest prepared in 1910 states that my grandfather’s father was Teofil Niedzialkowski. His mother is not named on the manifest.
  • My grandparents’ Certificate of Marriage from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts received by the Worcester City Clerk on 10 August 1918 states that my grandfather’s parents were Theophil Niedzialkowski and Xaveria Zygmuntowicz.
  • My grandfather’s SS-5 Application for a Social Security Account Number prepared in 1936 states that my grandfather’s parents were Teofil Niedzialkowski and Ksavera Napierkowski
  • A copy of my grandparent’s marriage record prepared by the Assistant City Clerk of Worcester, Massachusetts on 03 January 1941 states that my grandfather’s parents were Theophil Niedzialkowska and Zaveria Zygmuntowicz.

Ignoring minor spelling differences, these documents all agree that Kostanty’s father was Teofil Niedziałkowski and that his mother’s first name was Ksawera, but they disagree on his mother’s maiden name, listing it as either Zygmuntowicz or Napierkowska.

The problem now was that I couldn’t find Kostanty’s birth/baptismal record to verify the names of his parents (especially his mother). But let me just concentrate on the Niedziałkowski line.

I have not been able to find either a birth record or marriage record for Teofil Niedziałkowski, meaning that I didn’t have any information on the names of Teofil’s parents.

Collateral Lines and Indirect Evidence

And so, I used indirect evidence to establish the names of Teofil’s parents:

  • The Birth and Baptismal Record of Franciszek Niedziałkowski recorded in 1876 states that his parents were Wojciech Niedziałkowski and Julianna Gutowska.
  • The Marriage Record of Frank Niedzialkowski recorded in 1904 states that his parents were Adalbert Niedzialkowski and Julia Gutowska. Adalbert is the English equivalent of the Polish name Wojciech.
  • My grandfather’s Immigrant Passenger Manifest prepared in 1910 states that he was going to stay with his uncle, Franciszek Niedzialkowsky at 18 Huntington Avenue in Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • The Death Certificate of Frank (Franciszek) Niedzialkosky (Niedziałkowski) from 1955 states that Franciszek’s parents were Wojciech Niedzialkosky and Julia Gutowska.

Since the parents of Kostanty’s uncle are Kostanty’s grandparents, I conclude that Kostanty’s father is Teofil Niedziałkowski and Teofil’s parents are Wojciech Niedziałkowski and Julianna Gutowska.

There’s one more piece of evidence that Teofil’s father is Wojciech Niedziałkowski:

  • The Death Record of Wojciech Niedziałkowski recorded in 1901 states that at the time of his death he was living with his son Teofil.

I have all the rest of the documents that provide direct evidence to support the proposed lineage. The indirect evidence provided by Franciszek Niedziałkowski’s parentage bridges the gap in the direct evidence.

However, given the lack of a few key documents, particularly the birth records of Kostanty and Teofil, I cannot rule out the possibility that Kostanty or Teofil may not be Niedziałkowskis by birth. They very well may have been the sons of a previous marriage of their mothers before their mothers married into the Niedziałkowski family. That is, there is the possibility that one or both of them may have been adopted.

A Case for DNA Analysis?

To prove that my grandfather is, indeed, related to Franciszek Niedzialkoski and Wojciech Niedziałkowski, I may need to rely on DNA analysis.

Since the Y chromosome is passed on virtually unchanged from father to son, I may be able to use Y-DNA analysis to prove a connection to Franciszek and Wojciech Niedziałkowski. However, I cannot use my own DNA for this purpose. I inherited my Y-DNA from my father and I need a sample of Y-DNA from my mother’s family to conduct this test.

Fortunately, two uncles and one cousin carry that DNA.

But that’s only half of the solution. I also need a sample of the Y-DNA from a male descendant of Franciszek Niedzialkoski. Luckily, Franciszek has many living male descendants, including one son and nine grandsons.

By comparing the Y-DNA from my own Niedziałkowski line with that of Francizsek’s line, I should be able to tell if the two lines are related. If the DNA samples from the two lines match, I would have confirmation that the proposed lineage could be correct. If the DNA samples from the two lines don’t match, I would have confirmation that the proposed lineage is most likely incorrect.

Unfortunately, the test will not tell who the common ancestor is, but conventional genealogy has already provided evidence that the common ancestor is Wojciech.

Given the lack of a few critical documents and the fact that my Niedziałkowski pedigree is based on indirect evidence, the proposed Y-DNA test could be a key piece of evidence to prove my Niedziałkowski ancestry.

Now I just have to find someone from each of the two family lines to contribute their DNA for the test. Any volunteers?

Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko

This entry was posted in Chmielewski/Meleski, Daily Journal, Niedziałkowski and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Can DNA Analysis Confirm My Ancestry?

  1. Pingback: The Genetic Genealogist - » Carnival of Genealogy, 35th Edition

  2. Taneya says:

    interesting analysis! i wish you luck in finding a match.

  3. Thanks, Taneya!

    We never know what we will find. I’m hoping for a match, but I’m by no means certain that I will. Since writing this post, two cousins on Franciszek Niedzialkoski’s side of the family and one cousin on my side of the family have agreed to participate, so it looks like we’re ready to take the plunge!

    Steve

  4. Janice Brown says:

    Steve,

    How wonderful that you’ve found volunteers for your family DNA study! I hope you will post the results!

    Janice

  5. Hi, Steve,

    We’re looking forward to the results. Genetic genealogy is simlpy amazing – It can confirm a relationship or it can help avoid a wild goose chase. Good luck!

    Schelly

  6. Today I set up a Niedzialkowski surname project with FamilyTreeDNA and ordered test kits for three cousins who volunteered for the project. Because the relationships among the three shold be very close (two are first cousins to each other and the third is a second cousin once removed to the first two), I ordered 67 marker Y-DNA tests.

    With luck, the results should be available by the end of the year!

  7. Pingback: Steve’s Genealogy Blog » A Quick Peek at My DNA

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