Cheri Mello

Cheri Mello

Cheri Mello will explore the topic of Overcoming Brick Walls with DNA at the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society’s meeting, 9:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 21, at the First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance St.

Those attending the free talk will learn from four case studies how DNA was used to overcome a brick wall that stood since the 1950s, solved the mystery of the parent of two sisters, another that revealed step-grandpa was really dad, and a case of an unknown father.

Also included will be an overview of the four types of DNA used in genealogy: Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), autosomal DNA (Family Finder) and X Match; and how to decode the confusing terms of DNA

Mello said she was bit by the genealogy bug when working on her 5th-grade history project. Her maternal grandmother gave her some material for her project. She used it later for a Girl Scout badge and pulled out the information numerous times and wondered about her family and how she could learn more.

She began her active adult research some 25 years ago, after the death of her remaining grandparents. She has done research in many states, even taking trips overseas in search of her Portuguese ancestry.

Thirteen years ago, she became involved in DNA, and was recruited as the project administrator for the Azores DNA project. She runs five DNA projects and manages mailing lists involving Portuguese-Azorean genealogy.

Mello lectures now not only on Portuguese and DNA topics, but a host of other topics including software programs and Find-A-Grave.

Genealogical Society special interest groups meet at 9:30 a.m. for New Member & Beginning Genealogy, Civil War Genealogy, Writers’ Support Group, German Ancestry, Italian Genealogy, Jewish Genealogy, French Canadian Genealogy, Scandinavian Genealogy, Computer Genealogy, and DNA.

The society’s monthly meeting starts at 10:30 a.m. and the featured speaker starts at 11 a.m. It is not necessary to be a member of the Genealogical Society to attend Mello’s presentation.

A calendar of genealogical events can be found at the society website