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Finding John Costello: A DNA Journey

Finding John Costello

John Costello is my great-grandfather.


Generationally speaking, that is really close.  Tantalizing close.

I have personally met all three of his children that survived infancy.  Two, are still alive.

It feels like spitting distance.  It kind of is spitting distance.  Except one won’t spit or swab and I just barely worked up the courage to ask the other – sort of.  I asked someone else to ask her.  We’ll see how that goes.

I want their spit.

I really want their spit.

If I were exceptionally lucky, between the two of them, I might get every bit of John’s DNA.  The odds of that happening are about the same as the two of them having only exactly the same bits of John’s DNA.  Somewhere in between is the most likely.  But even if I were very unlucky and they each carried essentially the same bits of their father – it would still be worth it to me to test them both.  I’m at the turn-over-every-blasted-stone-I-can-possibly-find-no-matter-the-time-no-matter-the-cost phase of my John Costello research.

And so it is time.  Time to get completely serious about this John Costello business before I lose the chance to turn over some of those stones.

With that in mind, I am starting a new page and category on my blog – Finding John Costello.  I will compile ALL that I know about Grandpa John on that page and in that category.  I will add my DNA discoveries, no matter how small they may seem.  I need to gather all the cousins I can find until eventually, I have enough pieces to find Grandpa Costello’s story.  The bits of his story are out there – in records, in photos, and in DNA all around the globe.  I just have to find those bits and then understand them well enough to fit them together.

So here is my first invitation to the cousins:

If you are the child or grandchild of John Costello & Mary Brown Young – I will mail you a DNA kit at my expense if you are willing to test.  Email me – see sidebar.


Let’s do this DNA thing!


Grandpa Costello – I’m coming for you.

(If you feel like helping, I would not complain about that.  You are, after all, the very subject of my search.  I’m a vivid dreamer, feel free to jump on in and point the way.)




28 thoughts on “Finding John Costello: A DNA Journey”

    1. Thank you, Amy! Well, I have my results as well as my Mom’s, her brother’s, and their mother’s. Having Grandma in there allows me to sort my matches into Costello and non-Costello clusters. Most of the Costello matches are distant enough that it’s harder to connect them to each other which is such an important first step to finding the MRCA (most recent common ancestor). If I could get Vince and his sister – or at least one of them – to test, I would have the largest pieces of John’s DNA and my matches would make more sense. If I can’t get either of them to test, then by testing as many of the grandchildren of John as I can, I will gather as much DNA as possible and hope that I get more pieces of John than I currently have. They will each have different pieces and different matches. I just need as much DNA data as I can get. It’s starting to seem more and more like the information he left about his origins is not a great representation of the truth. DNA may be my only hope.

  1. I hope you get a better response than I’m getting. We may never know who our great great grandfather is.

      1. “It’s starting to seem more and more like the information he left about his origins is not a great representation of the truth. ” Yes. What you said. I’m wondering if I’m even researching in the right place or time. DNA was going to be my salvation, I thought. All it’s done is add more confusion. I don’t know what the truth is any more.

        1. I just smiled and sighed because I can relate. DNA has been very helpful for me, enlightening, surprising, but so far – no definitive answers. But I’m working it through. I’m going to figure this out if it takes my whole life!! 🙂

  2. Another here hoping you get better response then I did!. I know there are those out there who have my 2x great grandfather as a common ancestor. It is probably time I did a follow up to my blog and emails. My first cousins are all on board. It’s those little more distant ones I am looking for.

    1. Thank you! My siblings are supportive, my Mom, Aunt, and Uncle are supportive, I don’t know that my first cousins are terribly concerned about it all, but my Mom’s first cousins and their children are strangers to me. I need their spit, I hope they will be willing to share. Good luck gathering your cousins!! We all need cheerleaders in this DNA effort. <3

  3. I’m rooting for you, Amberly. From the tags and categories you included, it looks like you have covered all the DNA bases: AncestryDNA, FTDNA, MyHeritage. Are you also using Gedmatch? Another tool to map the chromosomes?

    1. Thank you, Cathy!! I am not using Gedmatch. I was just about to jump in when the Golden State Killer arrest was made and then the info about Gedmatch being used came out. I have several family members who would not be supportive if I put any of our DNA on there, so I’m staying out of that sandbox for now. I should probably add a 23&me tag too, I’m also there… 🙂

  4. I’ll be 72 next month. I am beginning to worry that I might not solve this before I die. My hope is that as DNA has made the progress it has in the past 5 years it will make more progress in the next 5 years. And I’m waiting for the day that autosomal DNA can be matched with Y DNA. I hope I will be able to look back and say, remember when we had charts and graphs and we still couldn’t figure it out? That was REAL genealogy. Sort of like researching from my chair as opposed to traveling to courthouses.

    1. I hope you are able to solve it! But if not, I hope you are preparing well so that the good progress you have made is passed on to future generations. Do you have a plan for your DNA data so that your descendants will be able to access it? <3

      1. Yes. I’ve designated a person with a permission thingy and in my will. We are hoping someone develops an interest to carry on. Right now, there is no one who even enjoys a brief update on any family progress. The glazed eye roll is their response.

        1. Darn it! I’m glad you have a provision in your will, that is wonderful. I understand the worry about who to pass the torch to. I have found in my own extended family that many of the older family members who have passed things to me were not my direct ancestors, but uncles/aunts/cousins who didn’t have someone in their direct line who was interested. I hope you find just the right person, Toni! <3

    1. Not silly at all! I have heard a few genealogists share unusual dreams that included ancestors who told them something that they were then able to find in records the next day (or in one case, in the middle of the night right after she woke up from the dream). 🙂

      And, thank you! I hope I can get lots of spit. 😉

    1. Thank you! I hope it helps me in the end. I haven’t had time to update lately, but I’ve done a few other things that have brought new pieces to the table. I’ll be writing about them soon-ish. (Too many irons in the fire and plenty of successes so I’m behind). Good luck with your sticky quest – I only had time for a brief skim but it looks great and thorough!

    1. Thank you, Emily. I also wish you very good luck with your search. Have you DNA tested? ❤️

      1. I sure have, tested myself, Mum (she’s adopted, it’s her father I am searching for), my sister, Dad, paternal grandparents and adoptive grandparents! Bit addicted to say the least! Took 18 months to identify bio granddad via DNA (endogamy and NPEs galore!) and now am in the process of tracing him. It’s fascinating work. I love reading of other peoples experiences with it, so I will be keeping a close eye on your journey!!

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