Keys in the DNA – Unlocking a Mystery

This is a reworked page from the book by my grandmother’s cousin Edith Keys Segraves – “Cook – Keys Family: Two Centuries in England and America.”  It shows the common ancestors that were discovered through matching DNA. 

The story begins with a post by a DNA match at 23andMe.

“H1 looking for mother’s ancestors and relatives.”

By StillCurious on Jun 27, 2012
My beautiful blond mother was supposedly born in April 1927 under the name “Jane Hamilton”. As an infant she was adopted by a judge and his attorney wife in Lake Charles, LA. The adoption papers show Ft. Worth, TX as my mother’s place of birth/adoption but this info could be false or misleading. Because her adopted parents were global travelers who had the legal knowledge to obscure birth records, my mother could have been born anywhere in the U.S., or possibly Western Europe.

To this day, my mother and I have been unable to trace her ancestry. It would be wonderful to help my mother identify her ancestors before she passes. My mother’s health has been good most of her life and it would seem her maternal ancestors in particular would have also had generally good health.

Thank you for any information leading to the identity of my mother’s ancestors and relatives.

I joined in April 2013 when a group of friends decided we’d get our DNA tested. I sent off for a kit, completed it appropriately, and then waited patiently to get my results. As I waited, I also completed surveys on the site and explored the forums to try to get educated about the DNA results so I’d know a little before I received them.

At last the results arrived. Besides finding out that I have the most Neanderthal DNA of anyone in my group of friends, 23andMe provided me with a list of other members who share common DNA with me. So I started sending out invitations to “share genomes” with my closest cousins on the list. This just means you can compare your chromosome information with theirs and see where the common genes are located.

23andMe also tells you what your maternal and paternal haplogroups are. They are not really all that helpful because it only tells you about your father’s father’s father’s…line and your mother’s mother’s mother’s…line. And there are many more lines as you go back through the generations. My maternal haplogroup happens to be H1, which is the same as StillCurious, who wrote the above posting a year ago on 23andMe (His one and only posting.). He also is a close cousin of mine according to 23andMe. When I read his posting, I thought, “Maybe I’ll be able to help him find out who his mother is.” My response to myself was, “Yeah, right.”

The following are 23andMe correspondences, starting with my invitation to share genomes (cousin messages are italicized):


Jun 30, 2013 Van Landry wrote to Elizabeth Wermuth and StillCurious, suspected Cousins:

Through our shared DNA, 23andMe has identified us as relatives. Our predicted relationship is 3rd Cousin, with a likely range of 2nd to 3rd Cousin. That would mean we share a great great grandparent. Here is a list of mine:

Narcisse Landry (b. 1796), Marie Hebert (b. 1802), Joseph Leveque (b. 1805), Marguerite Landry (b. 1821), Ferdinand Patureau (b. 1826), Marie Landry (b. 1829), Trasimond Landry (b 1839), Marie Bujol (b. 1843), James Bucklin (b. 1821), Mary McGrath (b. 1827), George Hines (b. 1846), Susan Stanbrough (b. 1851), Samuel Phenice (b. 1844), Katherine Foster (b. 1849), Henry Keys (b.1823) and Martha Cook (b. 1838).

Would you like to explore our relationship?


Jul 3, 2013 Elizabeth Wermuth, a Cousin wrote to Van Landry:

That is so funny! My great grandparents are Martha Cook and Henry Keys!!! My grandparents are Inez Moreau and Lloyd Bryan, grandparents are Herbert Bryan and Rosetta Ruth Keys, her parents are Martha Cook and Henry Keys! So yes we do share great grandparents!


Jul 3, 2013 Van Landry wrote to Elizabeth Wermuth, a 2nd Cousin once removed:

My great grandmother was Daisy Keys, who married Harry Clifton Phenice. My grandmother was Myrtle Phenice, who married Fred Bucklin. And my mother is Betty Lou Bucklin (grew up in Hathaway, LA), who married Bob Landry. This makes us 2nd cousins once removed. I finally found someone related to me through my mom’s side. Have you found any others related to you through the Keys? I’ve found several people on here related to me through my father, but none of them as closely related as you are. I’ll have to check with my mom to see if she remembers your family.


Jul 3, 2013 Elizabeth Wermuth, a 2nd Cousin once removed wrote to Van Landry:

I haven’t found any others that I don’t already know besides first cousins… my mom and her parents grew up in Hathaway they all still live there except my mom and I!

I have a huge family tree book at home that dates back a few hundred years and most from England…. know my great grandfather (our haha) came from England.. i have to look into the rest this weekend and send you over what I have!

This is pretty amazing that you can find a second cousin through 23andme.

Jul 10, 2013 Bill Kedem (StillCurious) a mysterious cousin wrote to Van Landry:

Thanks for your 23andme sharing invite which I have accepted. Your family tree info could be helpful in determining my mother’s biological family.

My mother was apparently adopted in 1927 and to this day we have been unable to trace her biological parents. She was adopted by Judge Thomas F. Porter and Mary Gayle Porter from Lake Charles. Judge and Mrs. Porter (my adoptive grandparents) were both attorneys and were quite good at obscuring my mother’s true family in all adoption records. Judge and Mrs. Porter had a considerable no. of friends, relatives and business associates all over SW LA.

To exchange more info, please feel free to call me.



Jul 13, 2013 Van Landry wrote to Elizabeth Wermuth, a 2nd Cousin once removed:

I was comparing genomes and came across an intriguing mystery. According to 23andMe, I’m related to a guy named Bill Kedem. The order of the relationship is somewhere around 3rd cousin. I contacted him and started sharing genomes with him. He said that his mother was adopted and they were still curious and wanted to find out where she came from. I checked to see if he was related to any of the many people that I’ve determined to be on my dad’s side of the family, and there were no common genomes. He told me that his father was not Cajun, so that would mean that we are related through our mothers. When I compared him to you, I was greatly surprised. It showed that you two shared twice as much DNA (compared to yours and mine) across 13 segments of your chromosomes.

I don’t really know you and don’t want to be intrusive, but I was interested in seeing if there was anything you might know about our common relatives of long ago. His mother was born in 1927 and given up for adoption as an infant with the name Jane Hamilton. Bill is not related to my Cajun side and is not related to your Ashkenazi Jewish side, so they are probably related through the same line that we’re related. (Bill’s and my common maternal haplogroup H1 would support this.) I could be completely wrong and missing something, but it is an interesting mystery nonetheless.

Any thoughts, any complaints, any questions? I can’t stop thinking about it.

Jul 15, 2013 Elizabeth Wermuth, a 2nd Cousin once removed wrote to Van Landry:

You aren’t being intrusive! This is crazy… yes I see him as a 2nd cousin and the most closely related person I have on this site…. since he is related to us both it has to be through Henry Keys and Martha Cook…. My family tree shows….. Martha Cook and Henry Keys had a daughter Rosetta Ruth Keys…. she and Herbert Bryan had a son Lloyd Bryan (1916-1972) who married my grandmother Inez Moreau… they had two children my mother and uncle… So if his mother was born in 1927…. maybe it was from either my great grandparents or their siblings? not sure….


Jul 15, 2013 Van Landry wrote to Elizabeth Wermuth, a 3rd Cousin:

Well that cleared up a problem I was having in figuring this out. I mistakenly thought you were the daughter of Lloyd Bryan. When you listed them earlier, you called them your grandparents, but also called Herbert Bryan your grandparents. And called Martha Cook your great grandparents. No mention of your mother, so I assumed you were related to Keys through your father, Lloyd Bryan. I assumed wrong. So it’s you to your mother to your grandfather Lloyd Bryan through your great grandmother Rosetta Ruth Keys to your great great grandparents Henry Keys and Martha Cook. So that means we are 3rd cousins.

When I was looking at this problem before, it seemed like the generations were off somehow! That explains the problem, or at least some of it. The question now is if Lloyd had any sisters that may have given up a child for adoption. That’s based on our assumptions being correct!

Jul 27, 2013 Van Landry wrote to Bill Kedem (StillCurious) a 3rd Cousin:

Ok, let me tell you what I have discovered so far.

I went to visit my parents this past weekend and looked over information on my ancestors. You and I are related through my Mom’s side of the family. I’m pretty sure it is through my (or our) great great grandparents Henry Keys and Martha Cook. They lived in England and had five children. When Henry died, Martha – a dressmaker – moved with her five children to Louisiana. The oldest daughter was my great grandmother Daisy Keys. The next child in line was a daughter named Rosetta Ruth Keys (b. Jan 13, 1879 & d. April 22, 1967 in Jennings), who I think was your great grandmother.

She married Herbert Maurice Bryan (b. March 4, 1880 & d. Nov. 5, 1932) on December 24, 1901. Their first son (fourth child) was Lloyd Bryan who was born in 1911. He is the father of Sandra “Kay” Bryan, who is the mother of Elizabeth Wermuth, who shows as your second cousin on 23andMe. (You both show as third cousins to me.) Lloyd was kind of young to father your mother in 1927, so the likely candidates are his older sisters:

Rena Oliva Bryan was born in 1902, married Robert Allen in 1931 and had her only reported child in 1932. The son died at age 15.

Elsie Ruth Bryan was born in 1905, never married and no report of any children. She went away to school in Houston and worked there for a while. She ended up living in Lake Charles. She died in 2002. A very good candidate.

Hazel Bryan was born in 1908, married Clifton Derouen in 1931, and had her first child in 1933. She died in 1998. The children are Eugene (b. 1933), Linda (born in 1937), Jarrett (b. 1940 & d. 2000), and Donald Derouen (b. 1945). They were born in Lake Charles and several of their children were born in Lake Charles also. If one of them could be tested, it would be helpful in solving this mystery. How to go about that is beyond me.

Jul 28, 2013 Bill Kedem (StillCurious) a 3rd Cousin wrote to Van Landry:

Good morning, Van.

Thank you very much for taking so much time to shed light on my mother’s ancestry. You have obviously taken a serious and time-consuming task in hand. My immediate family is very grateful for your time and kindness.

I have informed my half sister (Diana Greene from Lafayette) of your info and she is going to review it ASAP with our mother, Jane Porter Zerkowsky. As I mentioned, Jane is confined to an assisted care facility in Lafayette and her mental faculties are rapidly failing. However, I do believe she will understand your info and finally realize that it is true her biological mother was Elsie Ruth Bryan.

My sister Diana and Jane met with Elsie at Elsie’s care facility in Lake Charles not long before Elsie passed. My sister has informed me that Elsie did not acknowledge Jane as her daughter. The story of this meeting is long and detailed and I am still trying to verify more info about the meeting and why it took place.

Furthermore, if you can believe this, the Clifton Derouen family lived across the street from Jane’s residence in Lake Charles in the 1960s. Never did Hazel acknowledge any connection to Jane as her Aunt. We have reason to believe that Hazel was aware of the family connection because of info my sister and Jane subsequently learned from another member of Hazel’s family. I believe I mentioned to you in our telephone conversation that we were aware that the Derouen family was possibly connected to my mother’s biological mother.

I will be in touch too with more info as I receive it from my sister.

Jul 29, 2013 Van Landry wrote to Bill Kedem (StillCurious):

I’ve been so excited about this all day. When I sent you all of those names, I thought they would be faceless names that wouldn’t have much meaning to you or your mother. I was a bit confused by the line “finally realize that it is true her biological mother was Elsie Ruth Bryan.” I had only said that she was a very good candidate. Then I questioned the phrase “finally realized.” When I read more, I realized that the names I sent you were not faceless in the least. I even got choked up a bit knowing that she had visited Elsie shortly before she died.

When I was looking at the ‘possible candidates’ for her mother, I remember fantasizing about the possibility of Elsie being her mother. I saw that she moved to Lake Charles and I imagined her moving there so she could be close to the daughter that she gave up those years ago. So you can see why your information floored me. And then to have Hazel’s family living across the street was surprising too. I don’t recall you mentioning the Derouens when we spoke on the telephone. I remember talking about the Keys family. Come to find out, we were talking about the same people! When I made the comment about one of them being tested to verify the connection, I thought, “Yeah, right, like someone would do that for a perfect stranger.”

Not strangers after all. And it doesn’t look like a test is needed to verify the connection.

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