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Mother’s Day 2020

Every last one of the people in this photo shares mitochondrial DNA with The Legal Genealogist:

Cottrells 1985

Front row (L-R): my aunt Cladyne; my mother Hazel, called Totsy; my grandmother, called Mama Clay; my aunt Carol; my aunt Marianne; and my aunt Trisha. Back row (L-R): my uncle Billy; my uncle Monte; my uncle David; my uncle Jerry; and my uncle Mike.

And when better than Mother’s Day 2020 to honor that whitehaired woman in the front row — my mother’s mother, Opal (Robertson) Cottrell, 1898-1995 — whose 10 living children were all at her side on that summer day in 1985?

My grandmother received her mitochondrial DNA — mtDNA for short — from her mother, my great grandmother Eula (Baird) Robertson, who received it from her mother, my second great grandmother Martha Louisa (Shew) Baird Livingston, who received it from her mother, my third great grandmother Margaret (Battles) Shew and so on back through the generations.1

She passed her mitochondrial DNA — mtDNA for short — to all of her children,2 12 in total and the 10 who survived to adulthood and are pictured above.3

Each of those daughters passed that same mtDNA on to all of their children; and their daughters passed it to all of their children; and so on down the generations.

The mtDNA lives on…

Happy Mother’s Day.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Happy mtDNA Day 2020!,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 10 May 2020).


  1. ISOGG Wiki (, “Mitochondrial DNA tests,” rev. 10 Sep 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Her first-born, Ruth, was born in Oklahoma in August 1917 and died in February 1918. See “Oklahoma State Vital Records Index,” entry for female Cottrell child born 12 Aug 1917, OK2Explore ( : accessed 9 May 2020); and Record of Funeral, Baby Cottrell, 22 Feb 1918, Dutton Funeral Home, Iowa Park, Texas; digital image held by author. Her seventh child, Donald, died at age two of smallpox. Texas Department of Health, Death Certificate No. 35631, Donald Harris Cottrell, 13 Aug 1932; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
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