Friday, September 18, 2015

Confirming Cousins

It sometimes seems awkward to ask a known cousin to take a DNA test for genealogical reasons. After all, if we already are aware of the relationship, why bother spending all that money to confirm what we know?

In some cases, however, it is only that we think we know. And what we don't know can be key. So I asked someone—a very specific someone, who just happens to be devoted to genealogical research—to consider taking a DNA test.

The goal for taking this test was to confirm a relationship on a potential branch of my husband's Tully line. I say "potential," because I could find many indirect signs that our two families were related, but nothing as obvious as documentation. And the documentation just wasn't there. After all, we were talking about a most recent common ancestor parenting children in the 1830s.

Oh, I've agonized over that connection for years now. I posted about whether to include that mystery branch in my Tully database as if confirmed fact, when I can't yet prove it. I wrote about actually meeting these third cousins once removed over lunch during a trip back to Chicago. I even recalled how we first met up—courtesy of an email directed my way by reader Intense Guy. And, after all that agonizing, I told about when I finally bit the bullet and added that whole family into my database—even though I still wasn't sure about the paper trail.

But last summer, the answer to my question about DNA testing came back: yes, one cousin was willing to spring for a test.

Then came the long wait. I'm positive the whole operation in Houston shut down for a summer break. I thought those results would never show up!

But two days ago, they did. Finally.

And you know what? This is not one of those moments to hold your breath, or wonder if there will be a last minute surprise twist to the story. According to Family Tree DNA, the relationship between my husband and this Chicago cousin is within the range of third to fifth cousin. Considering we had sketched out the relationship on a paper napkin—third cousins, once removed—right there during our lunch meeting back in August, two years ago, it was not a bad meet-up, this scientific validation of our unscientific sketch. In fact, it was right where I thought it should be—or close enough.

This, of course, won't be enough to ease my mind about adding Michael Tully as Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully's son. But perhaps, added to this discovery from last summer's serendipitous addition of the Catholic Parish Records to the online collection at the National Library of Ireland, it may assuage my doubts.

Michl of Denis Tully and Margaret Flanery, sp. William Flanery and Bridget Flanery, Tauntina.



  1. Looks like you’ve put together a strong case, Jacqi. I know I’ve added branches to my tree with less evidence than that. ;-)

    1. I know, Dara. I'm stodgy like that. I really hesitate to experiment with guesses, although on sites like Ancestry, it sometimes prompts helpful hints. But I'm holding my breath and learning to loosen up. At least, now we have the fall-back of using DNA testing. I have several genealogical questions for which I'm hoping that resource will open doors.

  2. Replies
    1. Yeah! Finally! A little victory dancing is in order here.

    2. Dittos what Wendy said!!

      :) Does snoopy dance too.

  3. Yes!! Not unexpected but proof that you can count on! :)

    1. You know, I couldn't get the thought out of my mind that maybe it wouldn't turn out to be a match. It certainly was a relief to get that DNA confirmation. Those Irish and how they seemingly name all their children after the same relatives! There's always that possibility that we had the wrong Michael Tully.


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