Surprising discoveries that hit home | The Hilltops Phoenix

The Harden Murrumburrah Historical Society is hosting its first meeting following COVID-19 stay-at-home orders lifted.

Guest speaker is resident Lindsay Swadling, who is speaking on DNA testing when researching family history. Lindsay has been researching his family history for 40 years from the age of 26. His journey into tracing family lines started in 1979, when his maternal grandmother Alma was dying.

“I spent time visiting her, first at my parents’ home, then in hospital. Her sister, my great-aunt Adelaide, was often there at the same time, and they shared stories about their lives and ancestors. One that intrigued me was told to them by their grandmother,” he said.

Lindsay discovered a lost branch of the family who ended up in New Zealand, which took him by surprise.

“My first DNA came up with 1500 matched family histories, which is fairly unusual,” he said. “There were about a dozen trees and he couldn’t make sense of it.”

After further research into those particular trees, he was able to track back to a particular couple in the 1850s and a woman, Anne Catherine Green who was missing from his family tree.

Recently, Lindsay was able to reach out to a lady in Queensland who boosted his research. “I’m Scottish, Irish and Norwegian. It turned out I had Aboriginal cousins too,” he said.

A DNA-based test used in genetic genealogy that looks at specific locations of a person’s genome in order to find or verify ancestral genealogical relationships, or (with lower reliability) to estimate the ethnic mixture of an individual.

Autosomal tests may result in a large number of DNA matches to both males and females. Each match will typically show an estimated degree of relatedness, for example a close family match, first or second cousins or third or fourth cousins. The furthest degree of relationship is usually the ‘sixth cousin or further’ level.

“For family historians, DNA testing can provide a way to get around those brick walls that so many of us run into [being unable to find out more about an ancestor],” Lindsay said.

“DNA matching to other families who have also been tested, can allow a different way to connect further back by finding other descendants of the same ancestor. In my case it has been a way of finding ‘lost’ branches of my family.”

The Historical Society is meeting tonight (Thursday October 21) at the Trinity Centre from 8pm. The Society’s COVIDsafe plan has been updated.

Those attending must wear a mask, offer proof of COVID-19 double vaccination and for COVID-19 check-in. There is a tablet for checking in using the COVIDSafe check-in card.

The museum is open on weekends: 10:30am to 4:30pm on Saturdays and 2pm to 4:30pm on Sundays. This is subject to the availability of volunteers.
For more information contact the Harden Murrumburrah Historical Society Secretary Lorraine Brown on 0413 977 199 or the President on 0428 516 403. Email

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