Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Grand Finale

Thomas Richard Daugherty (left) with wife, Barbara.
Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty (right rear)

It was nearly impossible keeping this new genetic development to myself once I arrived in Dayton, Ohio. Some of the officers of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society had asked about my blog during dinner, and I had to bite my tongue to contain my excitement.

"Just keep reading."

My full day of presentations in Dayton on Saturday, 18 October 2014, went off without any major catastrophes. My professional life had recently run the same route as my genetic research life. Unexpected twists and turns and surprises around every corner: failing hard drives hours before presentations, glitchy projectors, fire alarms, laptops that reboot at will, remotes that advance all my slides at once. But this was a good Saturday, and in addition to a fun, productive work day, I was also excited, but almost serenely comforted, that my search for my grandfather was coming to an end.

Of course, that didn't stop me from checking my email via smart phone between every presentation.

After the day came to a close, I got in my car to drive further south to a friend's place north of Cincinnati. I had made plans earlier to spend a few days away from home so that I could be removed from the burdens of homeownership and concentrate solely on client projects that were slipping behind schedule. Of course, I can't imagine how such a thing could have happened. Chasing my family mysteries was taking up entirely too much of my time and was definitely not paying the bills. So I was dedicated to spending a few days analyzing, writing, reporting, footnoting, sourcing, and being a productive genealogist.

Fat chance.

As soon I joined my Buckeye friend for dinner, I regaled him with tales of DNA and Ryders and Schraders and Daughertys and percentages and databases and relationships, whilst drawing genealogical diagrams on napkins. Although he apparently lost his way somewhere in the story from Point A to Point ZZ, he shared my enthusiasm for a long, expensive, seemingly impossible journey, now apparently reaching its final destination.

Donna and I had already exchanged nearly a dozen emails since our phone introductions during my drive to Dayton. While I was lecturing, she was uploading Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty's autosomal DNA results from AncestryDNA to Although I knew processing of data depended greatly on the server status of this overworked, but vitally helpful, site, it did not stop me from checking it several times a day. I also visited my AncestryDNA account an inordinate number of times, waiting for my mother's results to appear, knowing logically that they were still likely a week or more behind mine.

But during the days of waiting and watching, and between largely unproductive spurts of client work, I combed Internet databases for information regarding Thomas Richard Daugherty, while Donna filled me in on what she knew of the life of his brother, Brighton Daugherty.

As I had found earlier via the United States census, the two boys were the youngest of four children born to Ira Daugherty and Katherine Tries. They were both born in Chicago: Thomas in 1923, and Brighton in 1927. I readily accessed digital images of their birth certificates from the Cook County, Illinois, Clerk's office. Although, enumerated in the 1930 census renting at 940 North LaSalle Street in Chicago, the Ira Daugherty family had moved to South Bend, Indiana, by 1933, when they appear in the city directories there at 917 North Hill Street. Perhaps they had memories of a childhood on the busy streets of urban Chicago, but the Daugherty boys were definitely raised as Hoosiers, spending their formidable years in South Bend.

Shortly after their move to South Bend, Indiana, Katherine (Tries) Daugherty became a single mother. In 1934, without Ira, she is living at 224 Sycamore Street and working as a laundress for the University of Notre Dame; and by 1937 she and her family had moved to Taylor Court in South Bend, where I had found them in the 1940 census prior to my drive to Ohio, where Katherine claims to be a widow.

Of course, having worked backward from the Daugherty family to find this connection, I knew full well that Ira Daugherty was alive and well in 1940 and until the automobile accident that claimed his life in 1943. Although he had abandoned his family and left South Bend in the early 1930s, he reappeared in the city directories with his third wife in 1941. While Ira Daugherty was living at 1134 Cedar Street in South Bend, Katherine Daugherty, "widow of Ira," was living less than three miles west on the other side of the St. Joseph River.

But what about Thomas and Harold Daugherty? One of these sons had to be my grandfather. What could I find out about them?

Thomas Richard Daugherty, 1942
Graduate of South Bend Central High School

Thomas Richard Daugherty graduated from South Bend Central High School in 1942. He was a member of the Izaak Walton League Club, a nature conservation group, and he played violin for the school orchestra. His senior photo shows a man with a steely gaze, a confident air, a sly smile, and a square jaw. He joined the United States Navy immediately after graduation, where he became a medic out of his love for science and medicine. That certainly sounded like a great genetic clue to me, as I too was a member of the Izaak Walton League in high school, and I had entered the field of veterinary medicine out of my love for science and medicine.

I combed what databases I could find remotely to see if I could clarify Thomas's service dates. I could not. Was he back in South Bend, Indiana, in the spring of 1946, to meet my grandmother and father a child never known to him? It was very likely. He would have been twenty-two years old, and the 1945-1946 city directory of South Bend indicated that both he and his brother, employed by the United States Navy, were living at 1506½ Dunham Street, where their mother had moved in 1944.

Thomas Daugherty did not marry until 1952, still a resident of South Bend. His bride, Jeanne (Broadhurst) Campbell, brought with her a toddler by her first marriage, Glenda, whom Thomas raised as his own. There was evidence upon my initial research that Thomas and his family had moved to California where his first wife had died very young. He had remarried and eventually relocated to Lee County, Florida. He died there on 3 November 1997, and his wife had him buried in the military cemetery in Mayfield, Kentucky, where she was from and still had family.

I started work on finding the present whereabouts of Thomas's second wife, Barbara, and his adopted daughter Glenda, so that I could find out more about the man who seemed to be by grandfather.

Donna, my AncestryDNA contact for Harold "Brighton" Daugherty, continued to fill me in on the life of the other Daugherty brother. Although she was not present during the first sixty years of his life, she had a keen memory, and she had been able to knit together a fairly cohesive history of his life from the bits and pieces she had heard over time. But for every bit of information she did know, there were large gaps of time in Brighton's life of which she knew little. What she did know of the man through personal experience was that he was not a man to have followed the prescribed parameters of a routine life and a mundane job. Having little immediate family of his own, Donna was eager to share the life story of a significantly remarkable man.

Until we could resolve the relationship via factual DNA numbers, Brighton was not told of the existence of his possible niece and genealogist grandnephew. Although a tremendously hearty man well into his seventies, Brighton had experienced a slew of physical setbacks in his eighties. He had recently undergone major surgery for spinal stenosis that was significantly affecting nerve function in his hands. Recovery was arduous, and when he was finally functional enough to return to his apartment, he became desperately ill with a respiratory condition. Upon a second hospitalization, it was discovered that his apartment was infiltrated with black mold, and likely the reason for his medical setback. The same weekend I had contacted Donna was the weekend Brighton had moved into an assisted living center. He was still months without any of his personal belongings, as the apartment complex was still dragging its feet about cleaning his mold-infected belongings. The repetitive moves and health issues had taken its toll on Brighton. He was irritable and sometimes confused. It was decided to wait to bring Brighton into this adventure until he was settled in his new place, the pieces of his life returned to him from his apartment, and the DNA answers I was seeking were confirmed.

Brighton Daugherty, 1977

Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty did not finish high school, so I was not as fortunate to find a graduation picture for him, and to picture him at the time of my mother's conception. He left school in his senior year, and with permission with his mother, followed in his brother's footsteps and joined the United States Navy in 1944, shortly after his seventeenth birthday. Donna knew little of Brighton's early years, other than he hated the name Harold, and for most of his early adulthood went by "Jim." He was a bit of a nomad in the 1940s and 1950s, and living the life of an adventurer, he held on to few mementos and photos that documented his life from this time. One of the few photos that Donna could retrieve for me was also one of her favorites: Brighton the sailor on his boat off the shores of Hawaii when he was fifty years old.

Brighton had his share of secrets too. He lived a life rooted in the present and the future, and he saw little benefit to dwelling upon the past, so tales of ages gone by were mostly considered unnecessary. But pointed questions about people and places from his younger years would often result in a tight-lipped refusal to respond.

Like his brother, Brighton too had returned to South Bend after his service in the Navy, and Donna recalled that he had served on the U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt after the war. Indeed, I was able to find muster rolls for Harold James Daugherty on this ship through the muster of 7 June 1946. Just as his older brother, Thomas, he returned to live his mother at the Dunham Street address.

Only nineteen years old at my mother's conception (when my grandmother was twenty-nine), and apparently still at sea in the spring of 1946, and only classified within a first cousin relationship to me via AncestryDNA, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Harold James Daugherty was my great-uncle. Thomas Richard Daugherty was likely the grandfather I had been seeking.

Although I tried for the remainder of the week to work on projects that would earn me a living, I kept going back to those damn Daughertys, ferreting out information from any online source I could  access whilst away from home. Donna and I continued to trade emails, and I was beginning to learn of the fascinating life of Brighton Daugherty: a sailor, an artist, an author, a diver, an adventurer, a photographer, and more. I shared pictures of my mother and my family in the eventuality of connecting our two families together.

Surprisingly, just after noon, on Wednesday, 22 October 2014, the autosomal DNA raw data for Harold James Daugherty had been processed and was available for manipulation on Like so many keystrokes and clicks before, I held my breath and waited for the computations to run and display. My heart raced. The vein in my forehead throbbed. I could hear the blood pumping in my ears.

Harold James Daugherty shared 3587.1 cM of DNA in common with my mother. He shared 1868.6 cM of genetic material with me. And for those who think in percentages: that's 50% and 26% respectively.

I immediately emailed Donna.

Brighton's results are available on GEDmatch.
He's my grandfather.
I'm freaking out right now.

My grandfather was alive and well in Denver, Colorado. 


  1. Congratulations. What a great story.

  2. And??????? Will you never let us off the hook, Michael?

  3. I just knew you were going to give us a Christmas present. Can't wait for the rest of the story.

  4. I'm glad I caught up on all of the earlier posts last night just in time to get this one. I LOVE the way you write, and just like everyone else, I've enjoyed the roller coaster. I love when new information doesn't support old evidence, and like a true scientist, you are willing to embrace where the science takes you. Congratulations -- but the story is NOT over.

  5. Grin. Knew it.

    Ancestry gives ranges. So, "Possible range: Close family - 1st cousins" does not mean that you are related as close family defined as first cousins, but that the most likely scenario is "close family," which ancestry defines as the 25 percenters: grandfather, nephew, uncle, half-brother, double cousin. There are cases (especially with families with multiple overlaps) where this is too optimistic, so the relationship may be as far as first cousin/g-uncle range, but that is the far less likely scenario.

    I am so excited for you. The initial assumption of Brighton as uncle may have made it easier for you to talk to his companion about his life as you weren't initially talking about his possible paternity of your mom. I hope Brighton recovers enough to meet you and your mom and talk about his life. This is sweet.


  6. Wow. I am so anxious to hear about you and your Mom meeting her biological father! Hope it's not too personal to share? So many questions. . . .does he remember Helen? How did they meet? Was he a friend of Frank Strukel?

  7. Well. You have solved more than one mystery. Now we know why you and your mother were driving to Denver a few weeks ago.

  8. Love it! You look so much like your grandfather!

    1. The shape of the eyebrows is definitely similar!

  9. After being out of internet range for Christmas, I came home to find 90 blogs to read in Feedly - and yours was the first one I pounced on! Thanks for the Christmas present and for sharing your journey

  10. I'm enjoying this, Michael. But like you said, "You will have to start from that beginning."

    1. I hope you didn't read the end before you read the beginning!

  11. Wait a minute!!! Weren't you in Denver just a few weeks ago? Come on. More! More! More!

  12. Wow! I remember you saying, "Just keep reading." I can't believe all this was coming down when you were with us for our seminar in Dayton. Next post, quickly please. I can't wait to hear the rest. Thanks for taking us along on this journey.

    1. I was bursting at the seams to tell anyone who would listen about the turn of events! It was not easy keeping it under wraps. That was one of the biggest reasons for upping my blog posts through November... I need to catch up with current events!

  13. Dear Mr. Lacopo, you don't know me. I live on the other side of the world and stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago by accident while doing my own genealogical research, and simply became utterly hooked on your story. (I confess that as a non-American I didn't understand the pun in your title, and had to Google "Hoosier" to learn it!) I am full of admiration both for your thorough and methodical research, and even more for the way you have set up and presented your blog, taking us through every step of your reasoning and explaining the family relationships and the DNA science so clearly. And the cliffhangers that you have left us with after every episode! Congratulations on having found your biological grandfather at last. I realize, of course, that "The Grand Finale" is probably a misnomer -- it may be the end of your search, but given that he is still alive, it may be the beginning of another story -- hopefully, as they say in the movies, "the beginning of a beautiful friendship." The best of luck to you and your mother, and looking forward to reading the next chapter.

    1. Yes, it may have been a "grand finale" to identifying the man, but getting to know his is a story all unto itself - which I hope to continue telling! There is so, so, so much more to this story. Thank you for your kind words!

  14. Read this complete blog over the past several hours. What a fascinating journey. Congratulations on this find!

  15. Your new found grandfather is lucky to have such a great story teller share his story.

  16. I knew it, I knew it! LOL! Had a gut feeling it was "Brighton".

    Great story and so glad you found your man, particularly while he was still alive. Now, for the grand reunion! :)

  17. Michael, I started reading your blog (linked from a post on The Legal Genealogist) from the beginning at 9:00 last night and finally succumbed to fatigue at about 1:30 am (unlike you, I can not function on so little sleep and do not normally stay up so late)! After catching up over breakfast, I am ecstatic for you and your mother and so grateful that you are sharing your story! Thank you so much for the fantastic story telling and willingness to explain all the ins and outs of your research process. Like you, I began my genealogy "hobby" as a young 13 year old; a fellow nerd. I am still only an amateur sleuth with a teaching career and young family taking up my time (although I was blessed last summer with ten whole days to visit churches, archives, and graveyards!). DNA testing has been a mysterious avenue to me, and as an user who has seen ads for genetic testing but is well aware of their "warm and fuzzy" business nature, I hadn't given it much thought. But you have opened my eyes to its benefits and to the other companies in the DNA business. My father was adopted and brought to the U.S. from Germany with his brother and sisters. Only one of his siblings is still alive, and I thought I understood the importance of recording their narratives; now I know that capturing their DNA should also be part of that process. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    - Jen from Maryland

  18. I too have been away from Internet access over Xmas. Thank you for the Xmas present that I've received a bit late but I look forward to the stories of 2015. Have a Happy New year and times with your grandfather.

  19. Michael,
    Thanks for sharing your interesting genealogical search and the way you weave it into a compelling story. Congratulations on finding your grandfather.

  20. And there he is... My sort-of Uncle Brighton. :-)

    I had no idea about his health problems. As I told you in an email, he was in my life for like a minute and then gone again -- that was seven years ago. I thought he had left Denver so I'm delighted to know he's still in there area. I just have to see him again. He's a connection to some of my very important (deceased) biological family members who I'd like to know more about and besides what he can tell me about them, who can resist his charm? He is one-of-a-kind.

  21. When I got to this point in your blog, I was also listening to the "Ode to Joy" finale of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. I remember how it was played shortly after the Berlin Wall came down. So it is only fitting that it was playing when YOUR brick wall came down!! KMC