Once in a while I get the “feeling” that an ancestor wants me to find him/her. This was the case with my biological grandfather, John Edward “Buster” Harrison. All I knew about him was his name; I had his obituary, and a picture of him in his WW2 uniform. When my Grandmother Dunn divorced him and remarried, he gave up his rights to their 3 children so her 2nd husband could adopt them. That was the extent of my knowledge.
To find more information, I called my mom’s cousin to ask if she had any names or phone numbers for the Harrison family. Her response was, “Dean might to talk to you”. Dean is Buster’s younger brother. When I called he was delighted to hear from me. He eventually sent pictures and information about his parents and siblings.
Researching the family was my next step. I found Canadian records for Buster’s father, John Henry Harrison, and mother, Kate Atkins. The marriage record said John Henry Harrison was from Abthorpe, Northampton, England. His father’s name was James Harrison and mother was Mary Ann Winmill. Then I hit a roadblock. Yes, already! I couldn’t find anyone with his birth date in that location. His parents were just as elusive. That was it for researching for awhile. I set everything aside and started doing something else.
What does this have to do with DNA. Well, ancestors have ways of making you find them. I won a DNA test and eventually sent it in. The result was astounding! My top match was a man whose last name was “Harrison”. It was my mom’s cousin. Needless to say I contacted him immediately. He has a large, sourced family tree. I love it when this happens.One of the documents he has is an affidavit stating John Henry Harrison had changed his name. His birth name was Henry Green. At the age of 17 he wanted to join the army but his father refused to grant him permission. In order to enlist, he changed his name to John Henry Harrison and lied about his age. All his war and Canadian documents list him as John Henry Harrison. No wonder I couldn’t find him.
This is my DNA solution . Not only did I find John Harrison’s birth name, my cousin already had a large tree for the Harrison and Atkins families. (Please note this doesn’t always happen.) I met 5 female cousins on the Harrison side and of course the Harrison I matched DNA with. Who would have thought a DNA test would add so many living and dead relatives to my family?