We have a mystery on my father's side of the family. My father's paternal grandfather suddenly appeared on the scene in 1910 despite the fact he was over the age of sixty. The lack of records after the 1930 census indicates he passed away before the 1940 census began. He was born in Mississippi, died there as well, so we should have found an abundance of records regarding his life before 1910.
Though our family is spread around the United States, several of us began discussing the mystery, me passing along info to one person and they to a few others and vice versa. Finally, I threw out the possibility that my great grandfather had changed the spelling of his name after his father died. The discovery of a few records seem to confirm that suspicion, so I searched my Ancestry.com DNA matches for both surnames. I found none using the spelling my great grandfather (and thus, my family) used, despite having been matched to numerous people descendent from great grandpa's wife's side. When I searched on the alternate spelling I'd found, several matches appeared.
We may have found my great grandfather's real name, but we still don't know who his father was or where they came from. Ancestry may soon help us on that front. As I understand it, they're soon placing their DNA donors in circles based on DNA. At the time of this writing, Ancestry's circles now consist of those whose DNA matches and who have a common surname on their family trees.
In other words, at the moment, we're only placed in a circle after we fill out a family tree and Ancestry detects a common ancestor. Soon, we'll be placed in circles based on just DNA, even if we don't know how we're related. I couldn't be more pleased. This may eventually be the break we need to find our family's origins.
To keep everyone up to date, I created a family research group on Facebook. The moment I find information, I post it to the group site to inform other researchers and family members interested in our history.
So family is bringing together family. When my husband gave me the Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas, I had no idea how much that gift would continue to give. Did I mention I couldn't be more pleased?