The Mystery Grandfather: DNA Evidence Links Broken Family Bonds

Feb 5

Chad Lott is a Sugar House, Utah-based hairstylist. My wife, sister, cousin and all of my daughters have had Chad cut, color, style, generally improve their hair for a number of years, and now consider him a great friend. Just last year, Chad told Nancy, my wife, that he was looking for a very special gift to commemorate his mother’s 80th birthday. Of course, he knew that I was a genealogist and knew that his mother would find no gift so priceless as a knowledge of her family history.

Jacqueline Sorenson, Chad’s mother, was born to Mildred Underwood and John Tomsick. About the time of Jacqueline’s birth, her father left and Mildred never heard from him again. At the time, Mildred and Jacqueline lived in Los Angeles. Mildred had some basic information on Jacqueline’s father.  His name was John Tomsick (or Thomsick), and he was a shipping clerk from Colorado that helped deliver goods between Colorado, Utah and California. John died in the 1950’s. The only relative or friend of John’s that Mildred remembered was named Lee.

With this basic information in-hand, we began researching Chad’s family – namely the father of whom Jacqueline had no memory and very little knowledge. We found a John Tomsick in the Los Angeles 1940 census. This John was a Colorado-born shipping clerk, and was around the same age as Mildred. We felt pretty good about this lead so accelerated our research. We learned that this John Tomsick was the son of Frank and Clara Tomsick of Colorado and that he had six brothers. In public records, we found photographs of John when he married Juanita Latham about three years after Jacqueline was born. We then found that John died on August 25, 1958 in Los Angeles. From what little we knew of John, we felt very encouraged by this information.

Our next step was to begin communicating with John’s family. Lee Tomsick’s wife, Pauline, posted much of the Tomsick family information online. When we spoke to Pauline, she answered a number of questions and was very helpful. According to her, the Tomsick family had no idea that John had fathered a child before he married Juanita. While we felt confident that our John Tomsick was Chad’s grandfather, we didn’t have proof.

I met Chad for the first time when I went to deliver the research and received a haircut at the same time. When I walked into the salon to meet him, I literally got chills when I saw him. The photographs I’d seen of the Tomsick family were not as clear as we’d hoped, but Chad had a strikingly similar build and facial features of the Tomsick men. All about 5’7” and 140 pounds or so, Chad Lott would fit in with any Tomsick.

This was very exciting to us, but we knew that the only way to prove the identity of Chad’s grandfather was to perform a DNA comparison.  We compared Jacqueline’s DNA with that of John Tomsick’s family. This process took several months, but the DNA analysis indicated there was a 99.5 percent probability that Jacqueline was, in fact, the daughter of [or at least very closely related to] our John Tomsick, born in Colorado of Polish parents. The connection had been proven. What’s more, Jacqueline also found out that her half-brothers Stuart, Albert, Lee, Leroy and Ronnie Tomsick are still alive.

Thanks to God and science, it’s possible for us as professional genealogists to complement research efforts by using the infallible procedure of DNA comparison and link broken families ties.

Happy 81st birthday Jacqueline!

Richard Price MA

Accredited Genealogist