Exploring AncestryDNA ThruLines™

Ancestry.com recently debuted ThruLines™, a new tool for working with your DNA matches that is now in beta testing.  One aim is to partially automate the often arduous task of figuring out how you are related to your DNA matches.  Matches are shown at the bottom of clear descendant charts, suggesting probable or possible relationships given the DNA data combined with data from people’s online trees.

The facility just appeared on my DNA home page the other day, and has already helped me in several ways:  It has provided potentially corroborating evidence for relationships I am not 100% sure of;  It has shown me how I am likely related to matches I had not been able to figure out before; and it has suggested possible “new” ancestors.

I should say that I am not an expert in genetic genealogy, and frankly if I could I would pay an expert to figure it all out for me.  Still I am gradually learning and I have been able to make several interesting discoveries via DNA matches, including finding a new branch of my Dad’s Maybury ancestors from Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland.

Although it is a fantastic tool and very helpful, it is important to remember that errors in people’s trees or in the logic of tool can cause errors in the “potential ancestors”.  (These are only suggestions for further research after all.)

I think errors might be especially likely in fairly inbred populations, like my maternal grandmother’s mostly Dutch and Huguenot branch, where the immigrant generation arrived in New Netherland in the 17th century, and the resulting population married mostly within the same ingroup up to the 20th century.  They traded around the same genes over centuries, while also recycling the same given names so that there were several people of the same name living near one another at the same time.

For example, my grandmother’s great grandfather John C. Bogert (1800-1894) was the son of Cornelius J. Bogert and Catrina Garrison.  The identity of his mother is fairly certain, partly because Catrina’s father John Hessels Garrison provided for her two children including John C. Bogert in his will.   But ThruLines™ suggests that John’s mother may be a Catherine Westfall.

Now there was a Catherine Westfall who married a different Cornelius Bogert, and my Mom does have a distant cousin match with a person who is a descendant of this Catherine Westfall’s sister Charity.  But looking at the Westfall sisters’ pedigree, they are related to my mother in two other ways, as descendants of both the Kool and Emans families.

So I do not think this slight genetic relationship is explained by John C. Bogert’s mother being Catherine Westfall rather than Catrina Garrison.  I think these seven centimorgans on one DNA segment have been passed down to both my Mom and the Westfall descendant from some other mutual ancestor, perhaps a Kool or an Emans.  It is probably a good idea though to check out these suggested ancestors even if they do–especially if they do–contradict our own research.

So what are my favorite ThruLines™ so far?  Some are impressive just because they allow me to see clearly the sheer number of matches descending from one particular ancestor.  Even when you have a solid paper trail, it is gratifying to view a lot of genetic evidence for the relationship laid out in a nice chart.

Mesheck Thru-page0001 (5)

Chart showing that my Mom has 36 DNA matches who are descendants of John Meshech Grover via his son Jasper Sidney, and 11 via his son (and her great grandfather) James Jacob.  The chart can be expanded on either side to show the lines down to the matches, with the number of shared centimorgans for each match listed.

For example, my Mom has a brick wall ancestor named John Meshech Grover, who was shipwrecked off Sable Island, Nova Scotia 28 Sep 1812 while aboard HMS Barbadoes.  He had two children who left descendants, Jasper Sidney who remained in Nova Scotia, and James Jacob who moved to Lynn, Massachusetts.  My Mom matches at least 47 other AncestryDNA customers who are descendants of these brothers.  (I believe there are still more who either do not have their DNA results attached to a tree, or who have such a rudimentary tree that the tool cannot build their relationship to John Meshech.)

HMS Barbadoes

Stamp picturing the ship which wrecked off Sable Island, Nova Scotia in 1812, depositing John Meshech Grover there, where he remained.  We believe he was an impressed seaman at the time.

The graphic display is even more satisfying when it lays out your hard-won families, like my husband’s Irish Catholic ancestors from County Mayo.  It took me years to get back to his third great-grandparents Peter Noone (c. 1800-?) and Bridget Hopkins (c. 1806-1879) of Killacorraun in Crossmolina parish, and to prove eight of their children.  (I think I might still be missing a few.)  So it is great to see my husband matching 17 descendants of this couple, through five of their known children.

I have my own murky Irish lines, including the Maybury family mentioned above.  Documentation is solid back to Killarney land steward James Maybury (c. 1799-1870) and his wife Maria Shaw (1812-1888) who had at least ten children.  Before James and Maria the records are so thin that everything is unsure, though it seems likely that James’ father was another land steward, William Maybury (c. 1765-1858).

James is said to have had a relative Elizabeth who married a Thomas Nicholson and moved to Canada.  I have spent a lot of time researching Elizabeth (_____) Nicholson (c. 1801-1897), whose British Columbia death certificate does not list her parents, but whose gravestone does say she was a native of Killarney.  ThruLines™ is linking my Dad to two 4th cousins via this Nicholson family, and these test takers do match Maybury descendants from other branches, so I think Elizabeth probably was related to James, possibly even as his sister.


Chart showing my Dad’s matches which probably result from their all having Yves Degauche (aka Ephraim Degoosh) as a common ancestor.

There are many examples like the Degauche/Degoosh chart above, where ThruLines™ shows our matches to cousins whose lines branched off as early as the mid 18th century from our direct ancestors, corroborating (though not proving) descent from the common ancestor.

Will ThruLines™ help me break through any brick walls?  Unfortunately there are no “potential ancestors” yet for my worst one, Calvin Luther Norton (1844-1888). There is a promising one for my mother-in-law’s ancestor Daniel Bagby (c. 1770-1828), who lived in Buckingham County, Virginia and Carroll County, Tennessee.  I need to go through each potential ancestor systematically and try to corroborate or disprove the suggested relationships.  I am sure Ancestry.com will continually refine the tool, so that it becomes increasingly helpful.  It is already a great addition to their DNA analysis features.

Reports of Her Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Ruth (Butler) Putnam (1768-1850) of Danvers, Massachusetts

When I first began researching the Putnam family of Danvers, Massachusetts, every tree online at Ancestry.com said that my mother’s ancestor Ruth (Butler) Putnam died 1 Apr 1802.  There was a death on that date in the published vital records of Danvers for a widow named Ruth Putnam, derived from “Jeremy Hutchinson’s record of deaths.”

Since Ruth’s husband, cabinetmaker Nathaniel Putnam, had died 15 Nov 1800, I assumed this record was for the right woman.  I thought about how hard it must have been for her five daughters, ranging in age from 4 to 13, to have lost both of their parents within two years.  I wondered who took care of them and how they managed.

Map_of_the_town_of_Danvers_(3370515226) (1)

As more and more digitized newspapers became available online, I began to look for newspaper notices to corroborate vital records, and to see if they contained any further  information about the person or event.   Finding the 1802 Salem Gazette death notice for Ruth Putnam on Genealogybank.com I read “At Danvers, Mrs. Ruth Putnam, widow of the late Capt. John Putnam, aged 81.”  The Boston Independent Chronicle added that Ruth was a pious woman, and that her son Peter, aged 40, had also died.

The Ruth Putnam who died in 1802 was the widow of the wrong man, 48 years too old, and the mother of a son who was even older than Ruth (Butler) Putnam, who had no sons at all.

Since there was no evidence that she had died, I searched for Ruth as head of a household in the Federal censuses after 1800.  In 1810 there was a Ruth Putnam living in Danvers,  between the ages of 26 and 44 (she would have been 41), with three young females in the household.  Two of these were 10 through 15 years old, and were probably my ancestor Lois (12) and her sister Pamelia (15).

Putnam, Lois, Danvers MA, Campanelli collection

My ancestor Lois Putnam’s sampler, probably completed as a school assignment.

The third female was between the ages of 16 and 25, and could have been any of the three older girls, Betsey (21), Sally (19) or Rebecca (17).  I think this is less likely to be Betsey, however, because she was apprenticed to a tailor in Salem in 1807 according to the journal kept by her older half-brother, apothecary Archelaus Putnam (1787-1818).

Massachusetts_ Vital Records, 1841-1910 (1)

Ruth’s death record, found on AmericanAncestors.org.

I also found Ruth as head of a Danvers household in 1820, 1830 and 1840, but not in 1850.  I then found her 22 Jun 1850 death in the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910, which clearly states she was the widow of Nathaniel Putnam.  Today most of the online trees are correct, though a few give her death as 28 Jan 1821 citing no evidence and I could not find any.



Narcissa Cornell and the Wreck of the Barque Elijah Swift

Years ago I found an 1889 article in the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) Republican regarding early settlers in the area.  Among other anecdotes, the article mentioned that my probable relative Godfrey Cornell (c. 1797-1851) of Peru, Clinton County, New York had a daughter Narcissa, who married a man surnamed Bailey, and that this couple then made their home in New Orleans.

The article went on to say that a few years into her marriage Narcissa went back to New York to visit her relatives for “a few weeks,” leaving her husband and “little son” Porter behind.  While in New York she gave birth to another child, in which case she would have traveled there heavily pregnant.  Eventually Narcissa and the baby sailed for “her southern home” along with Narcissa’s younger half-sister Candace.  Sadly their ship was wrecked, and both Narcissa and Candace drowned, but the infant was “deposited among the rocks” on shore alive and was returned to its relatives.

bailey-cornell 1845 wedding essex county republican 11 oct

Narcissa’s wedding announcement found on nyshistoricnewspapers.org.

This article was written decades after the central events, and I was not sure how much of it I could corroborate, but I was grateful for any clues about this family living in far upstate New York long before vital records were reliably maintained.  Fairly quickly I found Narcissa’s marriage announcement in the Essex County (N.Y.) Republican of 11 Oct 1845: “Married in Keeseville on the 7th inst. by the Rev. C. H. Nichols, Willard R. Bailey of Saratoga Springs to Narcissa Cornwall of Peru.”


A three-masted barque in heavy weather by Vilhelm Melbye.

Guessing that Porter would have been born in 1846 or 1847, and that a second child would likely have come along in 1848 or 1849, I searched the keyword “shipwreck” in Louisiana newspapers from 1848 forward on Newspapers.com.  It did not take long to find a description of the wreck of the barque Elijah Swift on 30 Oct 1849, written by the first officer only a few days after the event.

He said that 39 people were aboard including a six week old infant.  On 29 Oct they anchored about two miles off Great Isaac Cay in the Bahamas, a small island about 50 miles east of the coast of Florida. At one o’clock the next morning a violent storm overtook them and the ship began to drag both of its anchors.  It was forced against the rocks of the island but they were able to land all the passengers and began leading them toward the highest ground on the island.

They had gone about 50 yards when an enormous wave washed away 20 of the party, eight of whom were saved.  Two seaman drowned while trying to rescue two women, one of whom was “Mrs. N. A. Bailey.”

The account continues:  “The next morning, in searching for fresh water, we found an infant, six weeks old, the son of Mrs. Bailey; it had been washed upon the rocks the morning before, and had remained there 26 hours; it was alive and had apparently sustained very little injury; we immediately carried it to the surviving ladies, to whose motherly care it owes its life.”

The party were rescued on the third day by the ship Bangor.  The 1889 article says that Narcissa’s baby was a daughter, that her half sister was named Candace and was about 13.  The contemporaneous article says that the baby was a son, lists Narcissa’s half-sister among the missing as “Candia,” which may have been a nickname, and says she was about 11.  In general, however, the articles jibe, and this rather amazing story appears to be true.  I have yet to find out much about Willard Bailey, and what became of his children Porter and the little baby who survived the wreck of the Elijah Swift.




On Completing My Mayflower Society Application Over Eight Years Late

Years ago I submitted a Society of Mayflower Descendants Preliminary Application believing that my  mother’s ancestor Thomas Mitchell (c. 1627-1709) of Malden, Massachusetts was a descendant of Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke.  The Society informed me that Thomas has not been proven to be a Cooke descendant, so my first application was a non-starter.  I told my husband of my disappointment, and he reassured me by saying “I’m sure you’ll weasel your way in somehow.”


USAF F-94B Starfire Interceptors greet the replica ship Mayflower II arriving stateside in 1957, a gift from the United Kingdom.

In 2010 I filled out another Preliminary Application, showing my line to Mayflower passenger John Howland via proven descendant David Hamlin (c. 1737-1825) of Salisbury, Connecticut and Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  This was a go, but I still had to prove each generation between me and David with solid documentation, including as much primary evidence as possible.


Illustration by H. B. Vestal depicting the rescue of John Howland, who was swept overboard during a storm.

One issue that held me up was the inability to find my own maternal grandparents’ marriage.  I didn’t want to have the saddest application ever, proving their marriage by their eventual divorce, or in some other roundabout way.

I was pretty sure my grandmother Elisabeth Oblenis Bogert was married 30 Mar 1931.  In 1963 when George Olin Zabriskie was compiling The Zabriskie family; a three hundred and one year history of the descendants of Albrecht Zaborowskij (ca. 1638-1711) of Bergen County, New Jersey he asked for her data.  (She is descended at least nine times from Albrecht through three of his five sons.)  The book says that she was married 30 Mar 1930, but she was listed as single in both places in which she appears in the 1 Apr 1930 U.S. census.  She was somehow enumerated both with her brother Regis Zabriskie Bogert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and with her parents back in Paramus, New Jersey.

Unfortunately no one in my family had any idea where she got married, so I did not know where to look for an official record.  Since people are most often married in the bride’s hometown, I thought she might have gone home to be married in the Paramus Dutch Reformed Church, but New Jersey had no record.  Albuquerque seemed like another possibility, but there was no New Mexico record.  My grandfather was living in Los Angeles at the time, but California also had no record.


Kingman, Arizona Train Station.  Photo by Dean Cote via Wikimedia Commons.

Finally in 2016 Ancestry.com added Arizona County Marriages from 1865 to 1972 to their databases, and a hint appeared on my grandmother’s profile.  My grandparents were married 30 Mar 1931, as I had guessed, in Kingman, Mohave County, Arizona, possibly because it was approximately midway between Albuquerque and Los Angeles.


With this and the many other certificates and records I have collected over the years, I believe my application is finally in order.  I am meeting with a woman from the Society next week just to make sure I have all my ducks in a row.  If so, I will be mailing my papers that day.

Unitarians in Yorkshire: David Linley (1782-1859) and Sarah Hemsworth (1785-1823) of Flanshaw Lane, Alverthorpe, Wakefield

I was at first surprised to find that quite a few of my Dad’s Yorkshire ancestors were Non-Conformists, people who belonged to denominations other than the Church of England.  Most of these dissenters were Congregationalists, but the family of David and Sarah (Hemsworth) Linley belonged to a Unitarian chapel that is still standing and active today.


Westgate Chapel, built in 1752.  Photo by Mike Kirby via Wikimedia Commons.

Unitarian theology holds that God is one person rather than three, and that Jesus was a great teacher but fully human rather than God incarnate.  Emphasizing the importance of reason and of freedom of conscience in religion, the Unitarian movement grew along with Enlightenment thought.   The first formal Unitarian congregation in England was founded in London in 1774, and at some point soon after this Westgate Presbyterian in Wakefield, Yorkshire became Westgate Unitarian.

Wakefield 1823 (2)

Portion of an 1823 map of the town of Wakefield showing its westernmost part, the township of Alverthorpe where the Linleys lived.  The Unitarian Burial Ground is marked in the center, on the north side of Westgate where the road forks.  (Here “gate” means street, from the Norse “gata” or pathway.)

David’s parents Samuel and Hannah (Wood) Linley were members of Westgate Chapel before David’s baptism there 28 Oct 1782.   His father was a successful wool-stapler, meaning someone who purchased raw wool, graded it and sold it on.

David’s wife Sarah was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Whitaker) Hemsworth.  Her father was, among other things, a maltster, a producer of malted grain.  The Hemsworths did not belong to a dissenting congregation, baptizing Sarah 9 Feb 1785 in their parish church, Woodkirk St. Mary, about 5 miles northwest of Wakefield.

David and Sarah married in 1809 at Woodkirk St. Mary.  He is listed as a clothmaker, and he seems to have manufactured woolens until his retirement.  (He was of independent means by the 1841 census.)  This couple had at least six children, one of whom was my Dad’s second great-grandfather Samuel Linley (1813-1886), eventual manager of the Barnsley Banking Company.


Market Hill, Barnsley, location of the Barnsley Banking Company.  Barnsley is about nine miles south of Wakefield.

The baptismal record for their last child indicates that Sarah died in childbirth or fairly soon thereafter.  It reads: “Sarah Linley daughter of David and Sarah Linley of Flanshaw was born [blank space] Septr. 1823 and baptized 28th September, the day her poor mother was buried.”  Her death notice in the Leeds Intelligencer is more affecting than most British notices of the day:  “Yesterday week, in the prime of life, sincerely lamented, Sarah, the wife of Mr. David Linley, of Flanshaw lane, near Wakefield.”  Sarah was 38.

David lived another 36 years and never remarried.  Both he and Sarah are buried in the Unitarian Burying Ground.  Important question for further research:  Are we related to actors Luke, Liam and Chris Hemsworth?

Linley, David 1859 Death


The Mysterious Continental: Francis Bell (c. 1798-1866) of Clinton County, New York

The earliest evidence I have that that my Dad’s brick wall immigrant ancestor Francis Bell was in the United States is an 1825 notice in the Plattsburgh (Clinton County, New York) Republican saying that he had two letters waiting for him at the Post Office.  The 1850 census lists him as a shoemaker, and the 1860 as a farmer.  He is said to have died in 1866 though I can find no evidence.

Bell, Francis 1825 Letter Plattsburgh Republican 10 Dec

Notice found in the Plattsburgh Republican at nyshistoricnewspapers.org.

On 6 Oct 1840 Francis became a citizen of the United States.  Unfortunately early naturalization records give little or no information regarding the person’s origin.  The only record I have found for this event says that Francis was age 40 and lived in Peru, a town in Clinton County, N.Y.

Bell, Francis 1840 Naturalization (2)

Francis Bell’s naturalization in a list found on FamilySearch.org.

The 1850 census lists his birthplace as “Holland,” while the 1860 says “Saxony,” and his children’s records all give their father’s birthplace as “Germany.”  He may have been born in the Netherlands, perhaps within the province of Holland, or in the Electorate of Saxony, a German state nearer to Poland than to the Netherlands.

Another possibility is that he was from Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen in German), a German state bordering the Netherlands.  East Frisia (Ostfriesland) is a region within Lower Saxony adjacent to the Netherlands.  Napoleon made East Frisia part of the Kingdom of Holland in 1806, a puppet state he created for his brother.  A birth there might explain why Francis would say he was born in both Holland and Saxony.

There is little chance of finding a baptism for Francis not knowing exactly where he was born, besides which I am not even sure of what his name was at birth.  Is Bell his original surname or is this an anglicized spelling of a German name like Böhl or Böll, or a translation of the German Glocke (bell) or Glockner (bell-ringer), or just an assumed name?  His parents may have called him Franz rather than Francis.

I do know that Francis married Susan Pray about 1826, likely the daughter of Daniel Pray and his wife Zuba Wickham.  They had at least six children:

  • Francis Bell, Jr. enlisted in Co. K of the 47th New York Volunteers in 1863, giving his occupation as shoemaker.  He died in Smithville, North Carolina soon after the close of the Civil War and is buried in Wilmington, North Carolina at the National Cemetery there.
Bell, Francis

The gravestone of Francis Bell, Jr. at Wilmington National Cemetery in North Carolina.

  • Marcelia married John W. Weatherwax.  Weatherwax comes from the German surname Wiederwachs, and if this family had arrived in New York at about the same time as Francis, I would look for his birthplace somewhere in the same region.  However the Weatherwaxes arrived about 100 years earlier, with other Palatines.
  • Charles Frederick married twice and had a total of four children.  My Dad has a third cousin DNA match with a second cousin once removed in this line.
  • Henry moved to Washburn County, Wisconsin as a young man and had a large family there.  My Dad has a third cousin match to a person in this line.
  • George W. Bell married Marceline Duell and had a large family.  My Dad has three fourth cousin matches to people in this line.
  • Delia married Calvin Luther Norton and is my Dad’s second great grandmother.

I am hoping that my Dad will eventually have a reasonably close DNA match with a relative of Francis’ in Europe, and that this will make his origin more clear.


Evening on the Ausable River by Arthur Parton.


The Noones of Killacorraun: Patrick Noone (c. 1845-1890) and the Accident Near Placerville, California

In my first post about the Noone family I mentioned that my husband’s ancestors Peter  and Catherine (Mulherin) Noone arrived in New York City 11 Apr 1863 on the ship Thornton with their two small daughters Bridget and Winifred, and that Peter’s younger, single brothers James and Patrick were also aboard.  Like many others from Crossmolina parish in County Mayo, these Noones settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where their older brother Daniel had already made his home.

NYM237_227-0043 (1)

Passenger manifest for the Thornton found on Ancestry.com.

Early ship manifests provide very little information, and the list for this voyage tells us only that “Patt” is a male laborer, age 18, coming from Ireland to America in steerage, and that he did not die in the crossing.  Though Catholic baptisms for Crossmolina survive from 1831, there is a gap in the records between 1841 and 1845, and I have not found Patrick’s baptism, but I think he was born about 1845 as the manifest indicates.

By the 1870 census some of the Noones and a related Mulherin family were living on Railroad Avenue, filling up more than half of a page for Scranton’s Sixth Ward.  The Sixth Ward was a small section of the city, conveniently sandwiched between the Oxford (coal) Mine where most of the Noones then worked, and the yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, which would employ several of them later.

Near the top of this census page are a couple I believe to be the parents of the nine Noone siblings I know of:  Peter and Bridget (Hopkins) Noone, ages 70 and 64 respectively, living with their youngest son Michael, age 20.  (Their eldest son Andrew remained in Ireland on the farm in Killacorraun.)  Next door are Patrick and his wife Bridget Jordan, who must have married about 1867 because they have a son Peter born in 1868, as well as a son John born in 1869, the first of their eventual 11 children.  Also on this page are Patrick’s brother and shipmate James, and his sister Catherine (Noone) Rowan/Ruane.

Patrick is listed as a laborer, and was possibly learning stonemasonry, as this was his occupation according to an 1873 Scranton directory as well as the 1880 census.  By 1880 he and Bridget have had four more children, and their two eldest, now ages 12 and 10, are already “Laboring.”


Southern Pacific Viaduct over Weber Creek near the area where Patrick Noone died.  Photo by Mark Yashinsky licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

For years I could not find anything about Patrick’s death, though I saw that Bridget was listed as his widow in Scranton directories after 1890.  Eventually I found an 1891 newspaper notice mentioning that Patrick was killed on the Southern Pacific in California, and that Bridget had received compensation from the railroad.  Looking for articles about his death outside Pennsylvania I found several about the tragic accident that occurred 13 Feb 1890.

Noone, Patrick 1891 Estate Scranton Republican 28 Nov

Notice from the Scranton Republican 28 Nov 1891 found on Newspapers.com.

Patrick had been part of a crew repairing storm-damaged railbeds on the line between Sacramento and Placerville, California.  The construction train he worked from was composed of an engine, a tender, several gravel cars and a caboose.  The engine and tender were uncoupled from the other cars in order to take the workers to lunch in Placerville.  Unfortunately the brakes failed on the return trip, and the engine ploughed into the caboose sitting on the track, killing Patrick and two other men who were riding on the cow-catcher.

Noone, Patrick 1890 Obit (2)

Article from the Huntington, Indiana Daily Democrat 13 Feb 1890 found on Newspapers.com.

After an inquest the other two men were buried locally, but Patrick’s body was shipped to Scranton for burial at Cathedral Cemetery.  Bridget died in 1903, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the local Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen attended her funeral.

DNA Match Leads to “New” Maybury Descendants in Dublin, Ireland

DNA matches can confirm (or invalidate) our paper trail, and can help us solve brick walls.  And sometimes they turn up branches of our family we did not know we were missing.  This must be particularly common with research in difficult areas like Ireland, where the paucity of census records means you rarely have a good “snapshot” of an entire family in the 19th century, and where the civil registration of births began so late, in 1864.  It is very easy to miss children born before that date, especially in the absence of baptismal records.

Looking at my Dad’s AncestryDNA matches a few weeks ago, I noticed that he had a “high confidence” match to a woman living in Dublin, Ireland at the fourth to sixth cousin level.  To my knowledge at the time nearly all of his Irish relatives had emigrated before 1900, and the few who stayed did not have children who survived and had children.

Looking at this woman’s tree I noticed she had a great-grandmother named Annie Tennant Dagge without any parents listed.  Knowing that my Dad’s direct ancestors James Maybury (c. 1799-1870) and Maria Shaw (c. 1812-1888) of Killarney, County Kerry had had a daughter Isabella who married a James Dagge, I guessed that this was the connection.

I knew James and Isabella had had six children between 1864 and 1878, as well as a daughter born about 1862, and that three of these children had moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada as did Isabella in her widowhood, while the remaining four either died young or do not appear in any records after their births that I can find.  However since they married in 1853, it seems likely that James and Isabella had other children between then and 1864, and also possible that one or more of these remained in Ireland and had children.

Dagge-McConnell 1905 Marriage

The DNA match did not provide a birthdate for Annie Tennant Dagge, only an approximate death date (1972) and a spouse, John McConnell, said to have died about 1941.  Since Dagge is a much less common surname than McConnell, I searched for the marriage of an Annie Dagge in the civil records on the free website IrishGenealogy.ie.  The first record that came up was the marriage of a John George McConnell and Annie Tennant Dagge on 19 April 1905 in the Church of Ireland parish of St. George in Dublin.  The groom was of major age and a schoolteacher, the bride was a minor and the daughter of James Dagge, a Superintendent at Dublin’s General Post Office or G.P.O.

Dagge, Annie Tennant 1884 Birth (2)

Dagge, Annie Tennant 1884 Baptism

I was then able to find both the birth and baptism of Annie Tennant Dagge in Dublin in 1884 on the same website, her parents being James and Elizabeth (Tennant) Dagge, which explained her middle name.  Using Ancestry.com I also found her living with her parents in the 1901 census, and with her husband in 1911, as well as her exact date and place of death from the National Probate Calendar of England and Wales.

Dagge, Annie Tennant 1972 Probate

Turning to Annie’s father James Dagge, I was not able to find a baptism, but this did not surprise me as I would probably already have known of his existence if one were now available online.  I was able to find records of his marriage to Elizabeth Tennant on 14 Jan 1880, as well as a second marriage as a widower in 1929, and his death 2 Sep 1944.  Using the Irish newspapers searchable at findmypast.com, I also found an article on his retirement from the Post Office in 1918.  This means he was employed there during the Easter Rising in 1916, when the G.P.O. became the headquarters of the revolutionary forces, so I wonder what he experienced at that time.

Dagge, James 1918 Retirement Weekly Irish Times 2 Nov

Article on James Dagge, Jr.’s retirement from the Weekly Irish Times of 2 Nov 1918, found on Findmypast.com.

James Dagge’s death record gives his age as 88, placing his birth about 1856, squarely between his likely parents’ marriage and the beginning of civil registration in Ireland in 1864.  Both of his marriage records list his father as James Dagge, the earlier one giving his father’s occupation as “Clerk” and the second as “Superintendent Railway”.  Because the births and baptisms of the known children of James Dagge Sr. and Isabella Maybury list his occupation as “Railway Clerk” and “Railway Porter” among other things, I am fairly certain the younger James Dagge was their son.  The taker of the DNA test would then be my father’s third cousin twice removed, a relationship that would jibe with the fourth to sixth cousin relationship level suggested by AncestryDNA.


Larkin monument in O’Connell street, outside the GPO, General Post Office, Dublin.

“Soupers” in Kerry, Ireland: New McCarthy Discoveries

This weekend I made new discoveries regarding the family of Robert McCarthy and Elizabeth Neil, including finding a formerly unknown daughter of theirs who married and had a large family!  I would have found this child earlier if I had kept a more open mind about this family:  As far as I knew they were Protestants, so I rarely looked for them in Catholic records.  Frankly the number of Catholic McCarthys in Kerry makes searching for the right ones somewhat daunting.

What lead to my breakthrough was a find in the National Folklore Collection on the website of Dublin City University.  The collection includes scanned images of many Irish schoolchildren’s papers from 1937-1938 regarding the social history of their local area.  Though these papers are of a late date, children were encouraged to get information from their oldest relatives, and they captured a goldmine of 19th century data along with fascinating glimpses into local lore and customs.  Also most of the handwriting is extremely neat, and many of the papers are easily searchable having been transcribed.  Most are in English but some are in Irish.

Apparently as late as the 1930s some in the older generations recalled who had been a “souper” or “taken the soup,” who had abjured Catholicism in order to obtain food from Protestant Bible Society proselytizers during the potato famine.  For years I have looked for possible earlier McCarthy ancestors in the Convert Rolls of the 18th or early 19th centuries, but it turns out it was Robert himself who converted, probably in order to keep his young family fed in the late 1840s.  Twice in her paper on Blennerville Kathleen O’Brien mentions that McCarthy the Harbour Master was a souper.  She obtained this valuable information from her grandfather, then over 80 years old.

McCarthy, Robert 1847 Souper Blennerville 1930 2 (1)

This find gave me the idea to look for the baptisms of Robert and Elizabeth’s earliest children in the Catholic records for Kerry available at IrishGenealogy.ie.  I did not find any during the period when Robert and Elizabeth were having children, but I did find the 1879 adult baptism of an Ellen McCarthy, born in 1855 with parents named Robert McCarthy and Elizabeth Neil!  The only other document I have found showing Elizabeth’s maiden name is the 1888 marriage of this couple’s daughter Harriet in Ontario, Canada, so I was very glad to have another piece of evidence for that.  (My Dad’s autosomal DNA is also matching many Neil and O’Neill descendants from the Tralee area.)

Moriarty-McCarthy 1879 Marriage

I guessed that Ellen probably converted in order to marry a Catholic, and sure enough on the same day that she was baptized she married Michael Moriarty, a shopkeeper in Tralee.   The marriage record lists her father as “Robert McCarthy / Dead / Harbour Master”.

Michael and Ellen (McCarthy) Moriarty went on to have 11 children and I was able to find all of their civil birth records and Catholic baptisms on IrishGenealogy.ie, using the 1901 census as a guide to most of the children’s names.  Though no child Robert appears in the census, I looked at the record for a Robert Moriarty born 1882, thinking they would likely name a son for Ellen’s father, and it turned out to be another son, who must have died before 1901.

I will now be able to follow up new leads, including Ellen’s address at marriage, Tullivadeen, which does not appear on any lists of townlands so I’m not sure yet where it was.  (I know someone else is looking for it from a genealogy message board, though it is discouraging that another person replied “No such feckin place.”) I will of course follow all of the children’s lives through, which will probably explain more of my Dad’s DNA matches.  It may also lead to information or contacts that will give me what I really want:  Just one more generation back on both Robert and Elizabeth.  Just one.


Death by Opiate: Duncan Clerk Winter (1829-1874)

Researching hundreds or thousands of direct ancestors and collateral relatives, one expects to find some alcoholics or problem drinkers.  They often show up in the newspapers getting into accidents or getting arrested.  Sometimes their death records make it clear that alcohol caused or accelerated their demise even if their obituary does not.  One of the saddest death notices I have read was for Joel Wilkins, the husband of my 5th great aunt Elizabeth Haseltine West.  She had left him a few years before he was found in December of 1891, “frozen stiff” in a shed in Danvers, Massachusetts.  His death record indicates he died of “alcohol and exposure.”

Wilkins, Joel 1891 Obit Boston Journal 19 Dec (2)

From the Boston Journal of 19 Dec 1891, found on GenealogyBank.com.

Though alcohol has been the most common drug of abuse throughout European and American history, I have a British relative who died from an overdose of laudanum, an  alcoholic extract of opium.

A typical bottle of laudanum would be 25-60% alcohol and about 10% opium by weight.  In the 19th century it was prescribed to people of all ages for everything from coughs and menstrual cramps to heart disease and yellow fever.  It was also used in many home remedies and in the patent medicines whose makers guaranteed that their product would solve all of one’s problems.  As a result many people became laudanum addicts, including Mary Todd Lincoln and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Duncan Clerk Winter was born 16 May 1829 in Martock, Somerset, the son of glove manufacturer John Winter and his wife Mary Presgrave.  The 1841 census captures him in Kent, living at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School at Sevenoaks, where the headmaster was Duncan’s uncle, the Rev. William Presgrave.

By 1851 Duncan was boarding in Leeds, Yorkshire and working as a commercial traveler or traveling salesman, selling shoe lastings, a trade he would follow the rest of his life.  In 1858 at Bradford, Yorkshire, he married Sophia Vincent Whitworth, the daughter of my ancestor Robert Whitworth, a wine merchant in Wakefield, Yorkshire.  Duncan and Sophia had five children between 1858 and 1867, though one died in infancy.


Bradford St. Peter, where Duncan and Sophia were married.  By Merete25 via Wikimedia Commons.

At some point about two years before his death, Duncan became very ill and had difficulty sleeping.  The opium and alcohol in laudanum do promote sleep, and he seems to have become addicted to the substance in the last months of his life.  The inquest after his death determined the cause to be an overdose.  Sadly Sophia died the next year, leaving their four living children orphaned.  The youngest, James Presgrave Winter, was only eight years old.

Winter, Duncan Clark 1874 Inquest Edinburgh Evening News 16 Jun

From the Edinburgh Evening News 16 Jun 1874 found on Findmypast.com.