Friday, 10 June 2022

Families unite

Not that this is an earth shattering revelation, but this one solved two puzzles.

Ann McAdie is a newfound (May 2022) member of the family of Donald McAdie & Catherine MacKain brought to my attention thanks to a "follow" on Donald on FamilySearch. 

I was initially sceptical as the profile showed an unverifiable baptism, subsequently proven to be an Ann to a different couple.

I cannot find a baptism for Ann yet, but did indeed prove that she married John Cooper, produced two children, Euphemia and William. 

Her death cert. confirmed her parents were indeed Donald and Catherine.

As I explored the family to update my records, I found the 1851 census for the Cooper family (John, Ann and daughter Euphemia) which showed a 2 month old George McAdie grandson with them. Where did he fit?

George's baptism has not - yet - been found, nor his fate after the 1851 census, but it did make me go looking for a likely marriage for Euphemia.

Ancestry Scottish census transcripts don't show marital status, so I hadn't twigged that the Euphemia Cooper daughter of John & Ann was actually recorded as married but enumerated under her birth name.

Sure enough there was an 1850 Edinburgh marriage where  Euphemia Ann daughter of John Couper, farmer in Newton in Caithness, had married a William McAddy, joiner Both were described as resident 47 Yardhead, Leith. 

So the focus shifted to "Who was William?"

And where was he in 1851?

The only un-eliminated candidate was a joiner lodging in Glasgow in the 1851 census. 

Which entry I'd previously tagged as a potential ID for William, HM Customs Officer in London, later married to Sarah Abbot, being investigated for his missing whereabouts in 1851.

The occupation of joiner always seemed a bit of a leap between Caithness farmer's son and a London (but born Wick) HM Customs Officer, so the info had been marked as "of interest"  but unconfirmed. 

William was shown as single when he married Sarah.

What was the marital status of the 1851 joiner?

I could NOT find the FindMyPast transcript at all, but FreeCen came up trumps and showed him as married, albeit indexed as William McEadie

Great for Euphemia's William, not so great for Sarah's given his marriage cert. 

How could I check further?

What happened to Euphemia?

Newspapers reported her death in Louisburgh (Caithness) in Dec 1852, "wife of William McAdie, joiner", several years before he married Sarah.

Given they married in Nov 1850 and the census was Mar 1851, I wonder who was living at 47 Yardhead in 1851?

Bingo, thank you FindMyPast address search

One Robert McAdie, joiner, born Wick, and family, which family later emigrated to Australia.

Robert being known to have a brother William, believed to be the Customs Officer chap in London, where DNA matches between descendants of Robert and of William, Customs Officer, are adding to the ID that William is indeed the son of George McAdie and Elizabeth Rosie in Wick.

I'm convinced that Ann's daughter Euphemia married her 2nd cousin, William, their shared ancestors being George McAdie and Margaret Cooper.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

The Power of the X

The players:

A chap curious what he'd learn from testing his DNA at Ancestry.

Someone who regularly monitors new matches on Ancestry over 20cMs and any with suggested Common Ancestors, ie me, a self confessed genealogy and DNA obsessive.

Assorted tested cousins who all share the suggested common ancestors, Isaac Smith Dawe and Betsey Metters (married 1818 in Devon), plus several sharing earlier generations, only a few of whom had tested at Ancestry.

Scene setting:

2017 MyHeritage: 

A match appears to myself and two cousins whose Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCA) were the above Isaac Smith Dawe and Betsey Metters (married 1818 in Devon), one son migrated to Australia, a daughter to New Zealand back in the 1850s.
The match's tree has no obvious connection, but did contain an Eliza Cook who married in New Zealand in 1911, ancestors unknown.
Cook does feature as a married surname of another daughter of Isaac and Betsey but no known migration out of the UK for the line.
No response to "hi" message.

2018: a message received from this match asking if I knew anything about her, or any, Eliza Cook and could she have access to my tree please?
Responded, sorry but nothing obvious to help other than the DNA connection looked to be back up from Isaac and Betsey's family somewhere and she could keep tabs on progress on their tree in my online regularly updated basic BDMs of rellies and connections instead, given my MyHeritage tree is far from complete, being used to record research done at that site and DNA connections.

The connections

2022 Ancestry:
A new match over 20cMs appears (the above curious player) sharing with my maternal first cousin.
His small tree includes... Eliza Cook, married NZ in 1911. Ancestry unknown.

It didn't take much to join the dots, despite finding an Eliza Cook in the extended Dawe family, living with her mother's aunt's family in still living in Lancashire in the April 1911 census.

A passenger record was found showing Eliza and her cousin Hannah Parker departing Liverpool 28th Jun 1911 destination Wellington. 
The arrival of the "Arawa" warranted several column inches in the NZ Times of 10 Aug 1911 on its arrival in Wellington as it had been in wireless contact for most of the voyage thanks to being "fitted with the very latest type of Marconi wireless telegraphic equipment" 
So somehow Eliza met up with her newfound husband and married him in within two months of arrival (it has been suggested they may have met on the voyage as he had been in South Africa for a while)    

The message

Keep track of everything, dots do join -  eventually.
The MyHeritage match turns out to be the first cousin of the new Ancestry match, and previously unknown to each other until DNA introducing them.

But wait there's more: beware what DNA can tell you

With access to the X chromosome segment data on GEDmatch and FTDNA, (but not visible on MyHeritage) this Cook link had to be my new match's father's side not his mother's, which was a bit of a surprise, but did enable identification of which side was which in the new Ancestry SideView given his ancestral composition divided into two prominent ethnicities,  clearly separated by "side".

All power to the X- and Ancestry's new SideView. 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

LivingDNA update

 I don't pay that much attention to the "ethnicity", aka Bio-geographical, estimates from the assorted companies I and many cousins have tested with as I'm having way too much fun comparing trees and mapping chromosomes to ancestral lines in order to focus on those matches that just have to be from somewhere on one or other of my brickwalls.

But a recent question on the DNA-Newbies list at Groups.IO prompted me to review if LivingDNA had added anything new into the equation with their update (about a year ago)

My original results may be found here although the link to the share within that post only seems to partially work now.

Now they look like this:

ie rather harder to distinguish visually which regions are strongest in my ancestry by their calculations.

Clicking on a region brings up a potted history of the region from the Ice Age to medieval times

The detailed breakdown by region comparison is


Feb 2020 

So I'm even more of a mongrel with less idea than before of where in particular to look to solve my brickwalls!

The Scottish groups are now more combined than they were.
I've been mining the shared matches between pairs of 2nd and 3rd cousins in our match lists for clues.
This amorphous mess of "Scottish" is well supported by practically all of these shared matches showing up as personal pile-up regions where there are an absolute heap of triangulating matches and the likely common ancestor back beyond our paper trails spreading out from the known ancestry in Perthshire / Stirlingshire to  include Argyll, Dumfriesshire and down to Lanarkshire.
And then there's that persistent percentage of Irish all companies give us - only 4% on LivingDNA 18 on Ancestry.
Every so often however I do manage to link trees of matches together and still hope that one day, I'll have some answers, or at least clues on which branch to target for yDNA or mtDNA to support my findings.

Anyone got a stray Archibald Henderson or Amelia Millar they want a home for?
Or a yDNA Jenkins or Buchanan to see where that might lead? ( yDNA testers wanted refers)

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Maximise your investment in your DNA test

If you've tested your DNA somewhere other than MyHeritage and have not also uploaded your file to there, get in quick for free, offer applies for a week to 28th Feb, offer extended to 7 March.

The advanced tools will be unlocked for free, forever  - and you may well find a whole different set of cousins to swap info with.

Read all about it at their latest blogpost.

Full instructions on how to upload here.

Monday, 25 January 2021

The danger of assumptions

From looking at the tree attached to a DNA match, I hoped / presumed / assumed that I'd found yet another piece of corroboration for our connection to the Jenkins/Buchanan family we have so many matches to.
Which got me quite excited.
These brickwalls (Archibald Henderson and and his daughter-in-law Amelia Millar) have been standing a long time.

So I spent a happy day or two researching and validating the line back from South Africa to Perthshire.
I've never read a will before where someone was divvying up a town amongst his children: to x the railway station to y the post office to z the store.....

Between them, the two sibling kits involved had shared matches to a satisfactory selection of my Henderson/Millar cousins. Both kits were managed by a person we didn't match, so her relationship to the matches wasn't readily visible.

Thankfully this was a responsive tester and the flaw in my assumption was quickly revealed.
She was their mother, and it was her line that led back to Jenkins/Buchanan family via a branch in South Africa.
And we didn't match her. 

The matches were over 30cMs, so it was extremely unlikely this was a testing company glitch unfortunately.

So back to the drawing board and over to the paternal side of their tree, which was a bit sparse given this was why they had tested.

It didn't take me too long to realise that a Smith born in Central Otago around that time period just might be the Smith branch, well one of the Smith branches, in my tree.
All Smiths are related? Right?

Sure enough, he was already in my Henderson/Millar data.
I used to hold all these names / dates / places in my memory cells, but the explosion of people that you get interested in when exploring DNA matches means some just have to drop out to make room!

I feel old, the matches' grandmother is my 3rd cousin.

I was lacking the crucial link in my database down to the new matches as this 3rd cousin's sister had omitted to tell me the rest of the story back in 2003 and I would never have found this branch without family hints.
I feel some updates coming on.

Moral of the story: 

Shared matches and hope are not always enough to prove a theory.
If the mother had not also tested I'd likely never have realised the actual source of this DNA as at first glance nothing looked very promising to explain the link on the father's side.

The irony is that the matches will be related to the Jenkins/Buchanan family from both their parents - once we do figure out how I and my cousins connect to them given so many matches are telling us we do.
If only the right branch to test could be found, or pop out of the woodwork!

Saturday, 2 January 2021

What you can find when you aren't even looking...

...  or 

I hope this stroke of serendipity portends other breakthroughs on the gaps in my tree in 2021
starting the year as I hope to go on - well apart from interrupting the chat on our Talking Family History zoom session last night with an excited "I've just cracked a new DNA match".
Thankfully for the group, which I admit I was listening to rather than watching, my internet connection dropped out.
They were spared the journey I'd been on most of the day, culminating in the final piece of the jigsaw being found whilst I was listening, but also documenting the newfound connection on FamilySearch and in my genie program, dotting the is and crossing the ts ready for adding to WikiTree to see what further DNA clues may pop out as connections are found there.

The excitement being that not only had I cracked where a new DNA match likely fitted, but also added two ancestors to my tree at 5* great grandparent level - bringing that level up to 61 out of 128 identified at least by name.

DNAPainter Tree / TreeCompleteness stats

The journey

Most days I quickly check a basic set of Ancestry kits I manage* for:

- new matches predicted as 4th cousin or closer, and 

- any more distant unviewed matches that now show up in the Common ancestors filter

* myself, a maternal 1st cousin, a paternal 2nd cousin and a 3rd cousin on a brickwall Borders line

Top of the unviewed list yesterday (New Year's day) was a new predicted 4th cousin match who looked to be the father or son of a match over on 23andme which I had explored a while ago because my chromosome maps on DNAPainter had shown he matched me at the same spot I matched a known 5th cousin on MyHeritage. But he had no tree and only listed a couple of names, neither known to me.

The 5th cousin and I (and another match on Ancestry) share common papertrail  ancestors of John Hanham and Ann Rawlins who married in 1777 at Sutton Montis. This being my relatively recently found branch of my Somerset ancestry from when the mystery of my 2* great grandmother Jane Gibson was cracked (The Lazy Vicar refers).

I wasn't actively researching for Ann's parents, having run out of steam back when Jane's origins had been identified, and the thrill of the new chase abated once the lack of further success kicked in.

In recent times I've been having, yet another, concentrated effort mining all the DNA clues at my disposal (currently re-reviewing shared matches with assorted 2nd and 3rd cousin pairs) to try and crack my two very solid, chip resistant brickwalls of Archibald Henderson and his daughter-in-law Amelia Millar.
And once again, getting nowhere beyond realising that just possibly there may indeed be a reason I, and my paternal cousins have always shown about 10-16% Irish ancestry, and starting to notice a growing number of admittedly distant matches from around Mull / Argyll which seem likely to extend the search from Perthshire/Stirlingshire.

Research into this new English match appealed as light relief, and went rather more smoothly given the added bonus of now having a tree to work with from the Ancestry match - which included a John Rawlings born in Somerset about 1781, having children in West Lydford.

A working assumption was that by age alone my Ann and his John might be aunt/nephew. Sutton Montis and West Lydford aren't that far apart, at least as the proverbial crow flies.

Somerset: Yeovil / Martock / West Lydford / Sutton Montis

 John Rawlings and wife Jane were easily enough found in census and the Somerset records (images on Ancestry).
The assorted versions of the families on the FamilySearch tree were tidied up by reconciling discrepancies and either merging duplicates or  splitting out the waifs and strays to make what looked to be a sourced coherent whole, including the two families of the two sons, James and Henry with whose descendants my matches were.

Which left  John's parents and siblings to identify. That wasn't as easy until I found an 1853 death that led me to question John's age somewhat. Aged 80 being somewhat older than the 70 he'd showed as in the 1851 census which age most trees used.
It must have been a tough life as a yeoman farmer in those last 3 years to age him that much!
With the revised earlier birth,  hindsight showing this as rather more within range for the rounded down 1841 census age of 65 there was a good candidate of the right age and in the right place, to an Edward and Frances Rawlings, with very irregularly spaced siblings ranging from 1759 to 1774, but no Ann who could well be a sibling with these earlier timeframes being thrown into the mix.

My Ancestry searches, I thought, exhausted, I switched back to FamilySearch to pull the final pieces together there too, and did a last search for any more baptisms.
And there was an Ann, baptized in West Lydford in 1755, sibling to John.
Which point is where I excitedly interrupted the Zoom session chat as that just had to be way too much of a coincidence.

My working assumption has been quickly revised to siblings.

 Overnight, Ancestry's ThruLines hints kicked in showing the four matches from the two lines down from John, as hoped / expected.
Today I've checked the maternal 1st cousin's ThruLines, and they now show a match descended from John, and Ann's sister Jane.
This is looking good.

Welcome to the family Edward and Frances Rawlings.

The lessons

There's always one more record to be found - try different sites, their search algorithms will pop up different results

Remember to check and re-evaluate all records - I'd have found John's baptism quicker if I'd re-evaluated the 1841 census earlier

Keep good notes of your DNA matches.

DNAPainter imports of segment data are invaluable for a cross-company chromosome map.
This gave me the initial lead for this family

Monday, 21 September 2020

Who visited Porters Photographic Gallery in Perth in the 1870s?

I'd dearly love the carte below to be a wonderful clue to the mystery family of Amelia Millar - so I am posting this in the probably vain hope that someone  will recognise it from their family album and say that's xyz and get in touch.

It was found in the effects of my great aunt Nellie FLETCHER, aka Elizabeth Helen Sinton HENDERSON (1885-1981) and it is past time I published it in the hope of an identification.


I appear to be looking for a woman aged ??  in about the 1870s, presumably with two children aged about ?? and ??, within cooee of County Place, Perth, Scotland. Possibly widowed or with a camera shy husband?

A quick web search brought up the helpful page Scottish Photographers – 19th century

and showed that the Mr Porter in County Place Perth on the reverse of the carte was rather likely to be this chap:

Porter, James – County Place, Perth -1868/69-1878- and also George St. Perth by 1878

which dates seem likely to fit with the clothes of this unidentified woman with two children.

Add in that James Henderson and Amelia Millar, who are presumed to be the recipients of this carte, emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand, with those of their immediate family still remaining in Scotland, in 1874.

James and Amelia married in 1836 in Stirling but  had moved to Forth, Lanarkshire about 1840.

One son, Archibald, stayed in Scotland but was over in Carnwath, Lanarkshire, the rest emigrated between the early 1860s through to 1874.

James' father Archibald was a blacksmith at the Bridge of Allan and his wife Margaret McEwan's family, were long resident on/around the Kincardine Moss, Perthshire

Amelia's parents are - still - the subject of an onging brickwall search, but likely to be Millar and Chrystal families from around Kippen, Stirlingshire.

Where were James' siblings around this time?
Only William and John of his siblings are documented as staying in the area.

William at the Bridge of Allan, John in Tillicoultry, Clackmannshire.
The rest settled and had their families in Fife and Lanarkshire.

William is presumed to have died late 1840s to 1851, and his children are all accounted for in Australia well before this date, apart from the eldest Isabella, whose fate is still unknown.

John  had also moved to Lanarkshire from Tillicoultry about 1850, where all the children are accounted for in Ontario well before this time apart from Helen, whose fate is as yet unknown beyond the 1851 census in Cadder.

Love to hear from anyone with any answers or suggestions as to who this family are.