Monday, June 20, 2016
A Stop on the Patrilineal Line
Using the Y-DNA test to determine one's patrilineal roots should be easy, right? After all, you go from yourself (if you are a man) or your male relative (if you're like me, researching my husband's line), and you work your way back from his father to his father to...
Except this Y-DNA test is powerful. It can reach far back to that deep ancestry. The kind that happened before surnames were invented. Before genealogical paper trails were created. Before a lot of the stuff that we take for granted in family history research ever existed.
So it doesn't come as too much of a surprise to see Y-DNA results containing matches pointing every-which-way except Stevens, our targeted surname.
Although we've made progress back to the early 1800s, that progress has not budged its position for the last several years. We've gone from the World War II years of Frank Stevens to his dad, Chicago real estate broker and insurance salesman Will Stevens. We've returned to Will's roots in Fort Wayne and documented the life of his dad, street cop John Kelly Stevens, and traced his roots to Lafayette, Indiana and an Irish immigrant called John Stevens. And there, we're stuck.
It would be nice, on our upcoming trip back east, to unearth at least a clue leading us to a previous generation. Yes, I have the Declaration of Intention showing John Stevens to have arrived in Lafayette in 1850, via a journey up the Mississippi from New Orleans. I can't even find the passenger records, though, linking the initiating leg of his voyage from Liverpool to New Orleans.
It doesn't matter how many new documents have been digitized and placed online. Nothing new seems to be coming up.
I'd like to not waste an opportunity to scour the records in person in Lafayette this year, but how? I'll be there—but where else to look?
A very slim possibility recently opened up with a DNA match, not on the Stevens patrilineal side, but on that of second great grandfather John Stevens' first wife, the mother of John Kelly Stevens. Her name was Catherine Kelly, and like her husband, she came from Ireland. Only she came with her parents and several siblings. One of them, it turns out, may have had a descendant whose DNA test just happens to match my husband's results at the appropriate distance of third cousin.
There are a number of reasons why I'm hesitant to jump right on that indicator and consider it full proof that this person's most recent common ancestor is one and the same as our Kelly forebears. For one thing, Catherine Kelly's sibling—according to this other family's records—married a railroad man and promptly moved out of state. Another problem is that marriage records of the time didn't generally show parents' names. Since this young bride's name was Ann (or Anna) Kelly, the field is wide open for mis-identification. I need something more convincing than that simple marriage record.
This, of course, opens up another slot on that travel to-do list: to see what additional records may be found on our way from Chicago to Columbus this summer. Conveniently on the Interstate an hour's drive just outside Chicago, John Stevens' former hometown of Lafayette, Indiana, makes a nice stopping point—provided we start our journey early enough in the morning.
I'll have to do a little reconnoitering behind the scenes before we go, just to check out possibilities for further records. The target marriage date was 1872. By the time of the 1880 census, the newlyweds were out of state, residing in Kansas. However, well before that point, their first child was born in Indiana.
Hard to tell what can be found. But it's worth a try.