I spotted the match on Ancestry DNA back in February. A German surname. A family tree largely filled with what appeared to be Germans and Frenchmen. But interspersed among the list of ethnic origins — Nigeria, Mali, Ivory Coast/Mali, Senegal …? I examined the tree a little more closely, and — there — could it be? A name I recognized. A rather common name, but one that matched that of a grandson of Ann Elizabeth Henderson Simmons, my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson‘s sister.
I reached out. I also emailed a cousin, the daughter of the named man’s sister, if she thought her uncle had offspring of that age, in that place. It was very possible, she said. This uncle had not been in touch much. He was believed to have assumed a sort of liminal identity — not quite white maybe, but far from black. He had married several times, she thought, and had died in California.
Then, at the beginning of September, I heard back from E.G. He doesn’t know much about his grandfather, the match, but wondered if I did. Yes, I replied, I do. Ancestry (with its usual underestimating) pegged E.G. and I as 5th to 8th cousins, but we are 4th. Our great-great-grandmothers were sisters. He is the first Henderson relative I have matched beyond my double-cousins (whom I match more closely as Aldridges), and the first in my own Lewis line beyond my immediate relatives.