Wednesday, 17 March 2010

16th: The power of mtDNA

For all my work on Surname dna projects, which by their very nature concentrate on the Y chromosome and direct male lineages, mtDNA has really paid off in the extended DAWE family.
Back in Feb 2009, Anne, the wife one of my (many) DAWE relations, contacted me as I she had been contacted by Tim Lycett of the Fromelles project asking about a Leslie LEISTER aka Jack W(alsh) WHITEMAN.
(the link probably still shows Leslie as the son of his adopted parents, his uncle and aunt Robert Watson Donald LEISTER and Elizabeth WAY)

Tim believed, after extensive research, that his Fromelles database mystery Jack WALSH was probably Leslie LEISTER, the son of Sarah Jane Way born after her husband Robert Henry Whiteman had died and shortly before she married John Young in 1894.

The Fromelles project needed mtDNA candidates that should prove a match to Leslie aka Jack, of which we had at least one genealogist in the family immediately identified (who agreed).
In the time between then and now Leslie aka Jack's short life (he died aged 22 in 1916) has been further researched, and closer relatives tracked down, with Anne keeping us all posted on progress.

Today, emails have been flying with notification that despite the great odds against any of the bodies in the mass grave at Fromelles being able to ever be identified, Leslie's has (one of 75 identified so far).
We have a mtDNA match with direct female line descendants of Sarah DAWE (daughter of William Smith DAWE and Mary WAY).
Quoting Tim in an email to us all:
"I have to say that finding out Leslie (aka Jack) has been identified has provided me with the greatest sense of satisfaction of all.

Virtually everyone in 'officialdom' had given up hope due to the fact that he was adopted and given a new name but we were determined to do our best. It took months of hard slog and lateral thinking to sort it out and with the wonderful assistance from yourselves, we have finally been able to give him back his identity."

Leslie LEISTER aka Jack Walsh WHITEMAN, (13 Aug 1894 - 20 Jul 1916) R.I.P.

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