A few years ago I decided to get an autosomnal DNA test though Ancestry.DNA. Probably like many of you, my first thoughts were about whether the cost of the test was worth it and if it would provide me very much genealogy information. It appears that most people that take the test are only interested in finding out what their genetic makeup is according to Ancestry.DNA calculations in terms of the percentage of DNA in “ethnic classifications.” That’s the “pie chart” that you see on Ancestry T.V. adds. These folks are not really interested in any further genealogy research. They just want to know who they are ethnically.
For those of you that are serious genealogists, the autosomnal DNA test provides so much more. One of the things you get is a list of all the people who match your DNA. These are matches for all ancestral lines of your family. To take full advantage of this information requires that you also have an Ancestry.com subscription. I have found that there are four categories of matches: (1) Test only; (2) Test with minimal tree date; (3) Test with posted private member tree; and (4) Test with public member tree. Despite these different levels of matching information available, I have been able to confirm my Frampton Irish relationship with 86 of the matches on my list. First of all I was curious about how I relate to these matches. Second, by building my list, I have been able to take advantage of the “shared matches” feature. Even when a match does not provide a family tree or their tree is marked private, I can use the “shared matches” feature to see if they match any of those on my list of 86. If so, then I known this match descends from the Frampton Irish. Further, the website permits you to search the posted family trees for any reference to place names or surnames. Fro example, you can create a list of your matches who have trees that use the place name of “Frampton.”
Perhaps the most magical thing that an Ancestry.DNA test combined with an Ancestry.com subscription can provide you is a thing called “Thru-lines.” “Thru-lines” is a feature in which Ancestry takes your DNA matches in combination with all the public member trees posted online and it makes a prediction of the “common ancestors” between you and your matches. This automatically shows you how you are related to a given match. This feature will also reference records that can be accessed on their website that are linked to the predicted family members. I have found in using this feature that it is remarkably accurate. However, I have found a few examples where the predicted ancestors were not correct. So it is important to seek a paper trail to prove up new ancestral links.
Using these DNA tests and matching techniques can further prove your genealogy paper train and it can also solve certain mysteries by providing missing pieces. Example 1: I could never find what happened to my Great Grandfather John McLane’s sisters. Through a DNA match and searching some records in Santa Clara County, California, I discovered that his sister Ann McLane left Ste. Marguerite for California in the 1860s and married Azro Randall in California in 1869 where she raised a family on a fruit farm. Her sister Lucy McLane joined her household in the 1870s. I have since been able to contact a distant relative who descends from this family. Example 2: I had a match to a Begley family that lived in St. Sylvestre, Quebec which is across the Chaundiere Valley from Frampton. The progenitor was a James Begley who had a family with a wife named Anne Catherine Murphy. I knew that I descend from a large Murphy family in Frampton, but I knew nothing about a Begley family there. So the match was very curious at first. I couldn’t locate a marriage record that would tell me who Anne Catherine Murphy’s parents might be. So I set it aside. Later when I was in the process of extracting some Murphy family notaire records, I came across a property settlement document for Thomas Murphy and his daughter Anne Catherine Murphy and her husband James Begley. So I could then confirm that this Anne Catherine Murphy was married to James Begley and she was the daughter of Thomas Murphy and Mary O’Farrell.
One of my most promising match is what I call an intriguing match. These type matches don’t necessarily confirm the relationship, however they provide valuable clues. I had never been able to determine where in Ireland my ancestor James P. McLane of Ste. Marguerite came from. I had determined from a notaire record that Hugh McDonough, his neighbor in Ste. Marguerite, was his cousin. Then in a marriage record I found that Hugh’s parents were a Phillip McDonough and an Elizabeth McCaffardy. So that meant that James McLane’s mother’s surname was either McDonough or McCaffardy. Consulting The Book of Scots-Irish Family led to the discovery that McCaffardy is just a spelling variation of McLaverty or dropping the “Mc”, Laverty.
I had a DNA a match that was a distant cousin in the 5th to 8th cousin range with moderate confidence. The match person’s great grandmother was shown as a Susan Laverty who was born in the Townland of Breen, Civil Parish of Armoy, County Antrim, Ireland. There are records attached that indicate the family was Catholic. Susan Laverty was the daughter of Michael Laverty and Jane McAlane. Jane McAlane was the daughter of a Patrick McAlane born about 1800. The attached tree shows two matching surnames, "McAlane" and "Laverty." The surname “McAlane” is shown as a variant of “McLean” in The Book of Scots-Irish Family Names. The attached records also indicated spellings of “McLean” and “MciLaine.” For the most part, the attached tree has all Antrim locations and incidently the Townland of Breen just happens to be next to the Barony of Cary which is next to the Barony of Upper Duluce that was identified as a Laverty location in The Book of Scots-Irish Family Names. So this provided a match on two surnames, religion, and suspected location. So, I am willing to say that my Frampton Irish ancestor James McLean was most likely from County Antrim, but I don’t have an actual primary record to prove it.
Another intriguing match I had was to a person who descends from a Ramsey family who had lived at Levis, Quebec. Leonard Ramsey had married a Matilda Skillen in Quebec City and Matilda Skilling had originally been baptized at Springbrook Church in Frampton. A DNA match to families that lived in the vicinity of Frampton could not be ignored. The family tree posted by the match indicated that James Skillan was born in County Down, Ireland. Although I had no direct evidence to link my family with this match, the reported County Down location was a another clue that my James McLean was most likely from the Ulster region of Ireland.
So a simple autosomal DNA test can go a long way to fill in some of the missing pieces in your family’s genealogy. My list of 86 confirmed matches has proven my descent from all of my Frampton Irish progenitors. The Ancestry.DNA site also has a messaging feature. Although I must admit that I get very few responses to my requests for contact. However I recently sent out messages to 11 matches that I know have Frampton Irish ancestors, but have posted private trees. If I get some responses, I may be able to add to my list of 86. The potential discoveries that can be made using DNA will only increase when more and more participants get tested through Ancestry.DNA and post their family tree data along with their test. It might eventually lead to discoveries on just how our Frampton Irish ancestors are all related.