A so-called ‘DNA detective’ who has found fame on TV show Long Lost Family has launched a search to find descendants of her own family in the Melton area.
Julia Bell’s interest in family trees was sparked at the age of 10 when she made a promise to discover the identity of her mother’s father, who was an American GI during the Second World War.
Years later, and using just DNA with no name or data to work from, Julia was finally able to identify her grandfather as Arthur Benager Garrett, who was born in Alabama in 1925 and died 10 years ago.
She is now trying to find proof that her Garrett family were rooted in the Harby area, as the records and paper trail seem to show this.
To help to do this, Julia is offering a free Y line DNA test to any male called Garrett, Garrard or Gerrard who currently live in the village of Harby or Hose or the town of Melton Mowbray and who have had family rooted there for a few generations.
She told the Melton Times: “This goes back to John Garrett, who was born in 1609 in Harby, and married Mary Bible in Hose.
“John died in Upper Darby, Delaware, Pennsylvania, in 1680 and various descendants moved to the southern states of the USA, originally New Kent, Virginia and moved through the Carolinas to Georgia and my grandfather was born in Alabama.
“The descendants included my grandfather.
“I want to see if I can prove the direct Y line paternal ‘rooted in Harby’ connection to my Garrett uncles who have tested at Family Tree DNA in the United States.”
Julia is one of the experts consulted on ITV show Long Lost Family, which reunites close relatives after years of separation and is presented by Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell.
She continues to be inspired by identifying her own grandfather, Arthur, who she has since learned met her grandmother, Margaret Brooks, from Devon, while he was recovering from illness at a hospital in England in 1945.
He was 19 and serving with the 29th Infantry Division at the time. Margaret gave birth to Julia’s mother, Helen, that same year but she never met either biological parent after being adopted by a loving family.
Three years ago, Julia and her parents met her mother’s half-siblings for the first time in North Carolina and they watched a poignant video showing Arthur talking about his affection for Margaret. It is not known whether he knew he had a daughter called Helen as a result of the relationship.