Sunday, October 20, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (October 20, 2013)

[If you should choose to adopt this prompt to contribute your own stories of folks who have gone out of their way to lend genealogy-related assistance to others, I would greatly appreciate a mention to Filiopietism Prism whenever you do so.  Thank you!  And please do use the same photograph below to illustrate the prompt.  ;-) ]

On rare occasions there is a story that I think is so intriguing, heartwarming, or instructive that it bears a second mention here on The Prism.  The following is one of those stories.  In case you missed the recommendation in yesterday's Saturday Serendipity about the rapidly evolving genealogy tool of DNA testing, learn some of the background story below.  You can then get the full story -- with video and photographs -- at the link!  

Patrick "PJ" Holland is approaching 81 years old and is now in an assisted living facility in Plano, Texas so that he can be near the only "family" he has ever known.  And what a remarkable family it is!  

Patrick Holland was born to a young, unwed mother in a hospital near Cincinnati, Ohio during the Great Depression.  He actually lived in the hospital for the first couple of years of his life because all the orphanages were full during that crushing time.  The hospital nurses took care of him until an orphanage had room to take him, but the orphanage was a painful place and so PJ ran away and hid in a convent for a time.  When he reached age 16, he lied about his age and joined the Army -- where he became a paratrooper. When his time in the Army came to an end he returned to Cincinnati because he really had no place else to go.  That was when a local family took PJ into their home and he simply became one of them over time.  He became "Uncle PJ."

Marilyn Souders' grandmother was the woman who took Patrick Holland into her home more than six decades ago.  Patrick was always "Uncle PJ" to Marilyn, but she knew he had some other family somewhere -- some biological family that he had never known or met.  Marilyn decided she was going to do her utmost to find her Uncle PJ's family for him and she set out on decades of searching and researching that even had her family combing libraries on vacations until they were able to finally come up with a name for Patrick.  Marilyn could tell her Uncle PJ that his mother's name was "Agnes Holland," but nothing more was ever found despite "thousands and thousands" of hours searching everywhere Marilyn and her family could think of.

And then recently (as we all heard on the news), the actress Angelina Jolie had genetic testing done that revealed her significant risk for breast cancer.  A 31-year-old aspiring New York actress named Cathryn Mudon and a friend heard about Angelina Jolie's experience and they decided to have their DNA tested too.  Well, one of the unproductive avenues of research Marilyn and her Uncle PJ had explored was a test of his DNA -- and it turned out Patrick Holland and Cathryn Mudon used the exact same DNA testing service.  One day recently, Marilyn Souders logged on to her computer and suddenly Patrick's DNA test results were matched at a first cousin level!

To learn the full story and to watch a moving 4-minute video that will introduce you to Uncle PJ and the Good Samaritan who doggedly searched for her "Uncle PJ's" background, go here.  It is well worth a few minutes of your time!  
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Photograph of the The Good Samaritan sculpture by Francois-Leon Sicard (1862 - 1934).  The sculpture is located in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France.  The photograph is by Marie-Lan Nguyen and has been placed in the public domain by her. See,
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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