52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 47: Thankful. DNA, Genealogy Sites, and finding long-lost cousins.

Week 47: Thankful

This week’s prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Thankful. “Is there an ancestor you’re especially thankful that you found or a story that you’re thankful you discovered? What about all of the wonderful resources available to us now? What are you thankful for?”

There are so many reasons to be thankful in general. There are many ancestors that I am thankful that I found. But I chose to write about being thankful for how DNA and genealogy sites have brought about finding long-lost cousins.

My Mom only had a few first cousins on her paternal side. She had quite a few on her maternal side, but I doubt she ever knew them. For many years of my family research, I was not sure if she had any first-cousins on that paternal side at all. I had seen a photo of my great-grandfather taken in Michigan with young children running around him. Sadly, that photo was lost in the fire of 2017 when I lost all of my belongings. So, I knew there was a chance there had been at least a few first cousins that my Mom did not remember.

My grandfather Durward Edward Cole.

My grandfather Durward Edward Cole had three siblings that lived into adulthood: Lorin Richard “Dick” Cole, who married twice but had no children, William Jesse “Jessie” Cole who for many years I only knew of his first marriage (see next paragraph), and Goldie May Cole, who was married four times but had no children.

A happy discovery via DNA was finding that William Jesse “Jessie” Cole had married a second time and had children! DNA was a bit confusing at first, until I realized that I was related to both parents of my DNA match! I was a distant cousin to his mother (via German ancestors on a different line) and a Cole second-cousin to his father. I discovered that William Jesse “Jessie” Cole had married second to a woman name Mary Jones (Jonas) the daughter of Polish immigrants with a large extended family.

Jessie Cole and Mary Jones had three children:

Joseph Emmett “Joe” Cole, Mabel Irene Cole Garska, and Marion Jane Cole Hughes. Sadly, Mary died in 1931 leaving her husband a widower with children aged two to eight. The three children were put in an orphanage. Although he later brought the oldest Joseph home to live with him, the two girls remained in the orphanage.

My grand-uncle William Jesse “Jessie” Cole

If not for DNA, I would have most-likely not known about these paternal first-cousins of my Mother. She along with her siblings left Michigan when she was but five years old. She would have only known the older two cousins who were a few years older than her, and the youngest would have not been born or a baby when they left Michigan. So, my Mother didn’t really have many memories of family in Michigan. Also, I need to point out here that my Mom was somewhat secretive when talking about her family and was never a fount of information when it came to discussing her kin. But I discovered that although Joseph Emmett “Joe” Cole did marry, he never had any children, but his sisters Mabel and Marion do have descendants today.

I even found a Cole second-cousin close in age to me! A daughter of Marion Cole Hughes. Which is not usually the case. I am almost always much younger than any kin I find. This is due to the fact that I was born when my Mom was over 40 years old, and her mom was the baby in the family, and she struggled with miscarriages and stillborn children for some years before she was able to have six children.

Mabel Cole Garska had several children and it was through one of her sons, my second-cousin, that I discovered the DNA matches where I was related to both their parents, as noted above, distantly on a Germany line to the mother, and a Cole second-cousin to the father.

I have been able to link up with a few of the children of Mabel and one of her grandchildren. And also, to the daughter of Marion.

I am very thankful to have discovered my Cole second-cousins and their descendants. Prior to finding them, my grandfather’s line and my close kin were the only closer related Cole family that I had (or knew about). I hope to venture to Michigan again (I did visit Detroit once twenty years ago when my ex-husband was working there on an out-of-state job. But I didn’t know about my Michigan Cole cousins back then) and meet the Cole kin in Michigan. I also have a few Prindle third-cousins in Michigan that I have never met.

My beautiful Aunt Thelma Cole.

My other find was not DNA related, but was only possible because of genealogy sites on the Internet. I found a family tree online that I knew had connections to my Aunt Thelma. I contacted the owner of the tree, and discovered that she was the stepdaughter of one of my long-lost first cousins, one time removed. My Aunt Thelma May Cole married George Vise “Vise” Henage. They had two daughters: Doris Marie Henage McDade Jones Swift and Mary Louise Henage Frantz Ward Miller.

These Cole first-cousins, Doris and Mary, were old enough to be my mother. After leaving Michigan, my Mom and her siblings went to Oklahoma. It is there that two of my Mom’s older siblings married. Then my Mom with her parents and remainder of her siblings went to Texas briefly before settling in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, California. My Mom was a teenager when they migrated to California. My Aunt Thelma was one of the older siblings that married and stayed in Oklahoma. Some years later she divorced and migrated to El Cajon, but her daughters remained in Oklahoma with their father and paternal grandparents. Sadly, my Aunt Thelma was killed by a drunk driver when walking across the street in El Cajon. She died before I was born, so I never knew her. My much older siblings do have memories of her, and also a few memories of first-cousins Doris and Mary when they visited their mom in California.

I am happy to say that I have been able to link up with the son of my first-cousin Mary Henage. I also spent a year researching Mary’s prior marriage and another son I knew she had that had died in the 1980’s. I discovered that she had had two sons from her first marriage and the older one was living. Happily, this brought about the youngest son, that I had found prior, to get to talk with his, previously unknown to both of us, half-brother.

The youngest son lived in Oklahoma (the older two sons from her first marriage grew up in Salt Lake City) and believes that his mom Mary had a daughter (that he never met) from a later third marriage. As of yet, I have been unable to discover any information about the daughter. But I remain hopeful.

I am grateful this Thanksgiving week for many things, including family, family I was raised with, family I am DNA kin to, and family in general!

Because my Cole first-cousins, once removed, and my Cole second-cousins and their children and grandchildren are living, I have excluded their names to protect their privacy.

If you’d like to learn more about the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project, please visit here:

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Or join the Facebook group Generations Cafe.

If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source, please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2023. All rights reserved. Thank you.

About Anna Kasper, ACDP

I am an avid Genealogist. I am currently a student at Phillips Theological Seminary (one of the few Catholics!). I am an ACDP - Associate of the Congregation of Divine Providence (Sisters of Divine Providence of Texas). If you are unfamiliar with what a Religious Associate (also called an Affiliate, Consociate, Oblate, Companion) is exactly, visit my about me page for more information. In community college, I majored in American Sign Language/Deaf Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies when at university.
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