This past September, I called my cousin, Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, and thanked her for encouraging me to create this blog. She stressed the importance of “telling your story” because of the impact it has, not only on your family members and future generations, but other genealogists as well. In addition, she felt it was important that I “get all these facts, knowledge and experiences out of my head and on paper.” Well, this blog has served all of those purposes, but what I did not expect was for it to find additional family members.
On June 3, 2015, I posted a blog entitled “Another DNA Discovery: The Descendants of Robert Williams – Grandson of Julia Lee” which detailed finding my 3rd cousin, once removed, Elodie Carter, the great-granddaughter of Robert Williams, Sr. Robert was the half-brother of my paternal 2nd great-grandmother, Lizzie Taylor, on their mother’s side. Their mother was Mary (Lee) Williams, the daughter of Julie Lee, a slave from Laurel Hill Plantation in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.
|Death Notice for
A woman named Yolanda Adebiyi read my post and decided to take a DNA test through 23andme.
You have to ask yourself: why would my blog provoke Yolanda to take a DNA test?
Before she died, Dorothy, Yolanda’s mother, told her that she found out at a young age that her real father’s name was Robert Williams. He was an older man when Dorothy was born. Unfortunately, she only met him a few times before he died and she did not know much about him other than the fact that she had older half-siblings from his previous marriage. After her mother’s death, Yolanda was doubtful she would learn anymore details about the life of Robert Williams, however when she read my blog, she recognized many names I mentioned in the Williams family. Dorothy had an older half-sister named Gertrude Williams, a person mentioned in my blog, that passed away in 2000. Dorothy had a copy of the newspaper death notice from the New Orleans Times Picayune. Yolanda, compared the names with my blog and noticed many similarities. At that moment, she believed she was related to Elodie and I.
On August 25, 2016, Yolanda contacted Elodie via 23andme after she received her DNA results and stated the following:
“Hi Elodie. My name is Yolanda and according to 23andme we are 3rd cousins. I read your blog several months ago and decided to have a DNA test. Glad I did! Robert Wms., Sr. was my mother’s father. I’ve been looking for my mom’s family for years. Would love to connect with you and discover how we are related. Looking forward to hearing from you.”
Elodie forwarded this message to me immediately. I checked my email and discovered a similar message from Yolanda. Elodie spoke to her on the phone, gave her my number and told her to call me immediately. When I received the call, I noticed Yolanda’s area code was from the same location I was born and raised in Northern California. I asked her where she lived. It turned out she was less than 20 minutes from my father’s house (her cousin)!!!! In addition she graduated from the same high school my mother did–one year prior!!!
I was completely shocked and amazed. I logged into 23andme and she was one of the highest matches for several of my paternal relatives. I was even more amazed when she told me the story of how she came to find out about us. The pedigree chart (below) diagrams some of the descendants that tested with 23andme. Please note: this chart does not represent all the descendants of Julia and Mary Lee.
|The DNA Descendants of Mary Lee|
I told her that I am a member of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC) and that I attend the monthly meetings. I invited her to come so that my father and I could meet her. She told me she attended previous meetings, but that was a few years prior. We more than likely crossed paths before without knowing we were so closely related! Below is a picture from AAGSNC’s 20th Anniversary Celebration taken on September 17, 2016, in which I met Yolanda for the first time:
|Michael Willis (L) & Yolanda Adebiyi|
It was a very emotional meeting to say the least.😊
|Yolanda’s DNA Segment Comparisons to other Family Members|