The Tale of Two Cousins, 7th Cousins

DNA Cousins
This blog involves a long family history of two people who, in any normal circumstance, wouldn’t think to be related.

The first person in this story is my brother Eric. For technical purposes, he is actually my half brother. We have the same father but different mothers. He is also nine years older than me so we never had mutual friends together or attended the same school at the same time.

Eric My brother is of a taller stature, has dark hair, eyes and skin. He was very athletic in high school and is a 20-year retired U.S Navy veteran.

DNA Test Results
45% Europe West
19% Great British
18% Irish
11% Italy/Greece
3% Finland/Northwest Russia
2% Europe East
1% Iberian Peninsula
<1% Scandinavia

The second person in this story is my best friend, Amber. We met in 11th grade when she moved to the area with her grandparents. We instantly clicked as we both have interesting senses of humors and other similar traits that neither of us found with our peers. Also, when I say she moved to the area, she moved less than five miles away from my house.

She’s of a shorter stature, pale skinned and has a natural redish-orange hair color. By education and trade, she’s a nurse.

DNA Test Results

77% Great British
15% Irish
8% Misc

amber

Both Eric and Amber knew that I had been into ancestry. Amber had some interest in researching her family as she doesn’t know a lot about her grandma’s family. There was some specific interest in her great grandpa that died when her grandma was three in a very tragic car accident. I was able to help her find some details which is why I had some knowledge that helped me later in the family connection discovery.

Earlier this year, I received a message on Ancestry.com regarding Eric’s DNA results. Someone was curious how his son was Eric’s second cousin. Initially, I responded that the relation was on my brother’s mother’s side of the family and I didn’t have any information.

However, going down the surname list to see if anything caught my attention, I noticed the name “Leopard”. I remembered that Amber’s grandmother’s maiden name was Leopard. While I admit that I had a huge “OH MY GOD” moment, I didn’t jump to any conclusions because just because they share surnames, it could mean nothing.

So I start digging into Amber’s tree as her information was easily accessible. I had to ask her a few questions about who and what. Eventually, she was like “ok, what are you doing?”. At that point, I had to tell her what was going on.

Then, I did the work on Eric’s side. I went up through the generations based on what he and his mother could provide as well as what I was finding through other existing family trees on Ancestry.com.

Here’s what I found that started to give the hint that there was some relation between Eric and Amber.

  1. The entire Leopard family traces to being originally from Berkeley, West Virginia and then migrated to West Central Ohio.
  2. The Leopard family relocated in the 1850’s to Champaign County (Amber’s side) and to Miami County (Eric’s side). These counties neighbor each other.
  3. Both families used common names interchangeably through generations; George, Michael, Mary, and Elizabeth.

The farthest back I was able to connect the families through online trees and contact the tree owners was at the 6th cousin level. I got stuck because I couldn’t find the parents for a specific set of brothers.

The final piece of the puzzle came when I contacted the Berkeley County, West Virginia Historical Society to see if they had any information going farther back than what anyone else had gone.

They were able to send me a packet of research done by a high school student in 1979 researching the family as well.

I confirmed the parents of two brothers which concluded that Eric and Amber were another generation up making them 7th cousins. The chart below is the condensed family tree of this discovery. What’s amazing is they are straight cousins, no once or twice removed or cross generations. They’ve stayed in a straight line with each other.

Generations
Adam Leopard – Elizabeth DeLang  Original Grandparents Adam Leopard – Elizabeth DeLang
Daniel Leopard – Elizabeth Miller 1st Michael Leopard – Barbara French
Michael Leopard – Susan Oburn 2nd George W Leopard – Mary Elliott
George F Leopard – June McKeever 3rd James E Leopard – Anna Emily Jay
George M Leopard – Mevlyn Goode 4th Charles Leopard – Mary Hepfer
Jeannine Leopard – James Moffitt 5th Josephine Ruth Leopard – John Parsons
Jeffry  – Sandra 6th Joseph – Christine
Amber 7th Eric

**Last names of the living removed to protect privacy.

It was a very enlightening discovery because they don’t look or act anything alike and the families have seemingly separated with time. While they have met, they share no personality or physical traits that would hint that they are related. Their DNA matches on Ancestry.com also do not list them as matches to eachother.

Also, what are the odds that Amber and I best friends?