Saturday, August 27, 2016
DNA Connections and
Another Surprise Email
As excited as I was to get our DNA test results—both my husband and I tested at not one, but two different companies—I've found it to be quite tedious to uncover the verification, on paper, of just how we relate to these hundreds of distant cousins. Still, there can be breakthroughs.
Mostly, in all that grunt work, I find myself the one who makes the contact, sends the emails begging for more information—a posted family tree would be a nice touch here—and follows through with further correspondence. It can get wearying.
How nice it was, just the other day, to be the recipient of an email, this time asking me about my tree.
Actually, correct that. The fellow researcher contacting me was inquiring as to my husband's tree. A specific part of it, in fact. One about which I knew I'd never be able to find anything further.
To explain, I'll have to review some details. Back in 2013—when we first got word that our daughter might have an opportunity to study abroad in Ireland—I had started preparing for the possibility of doing hands-on research in the homeland of my father-in-law's roots. All eight of this man's great grandparents had come from Ireland, and I already had a pretty good idea of where these ancestors had been born.
Some of those "eight greats" I knew better than others, of course, so the challenge was to study up on the weakest links. One of those was the Kelly family from County Kerry—the last of my father-in-law's ancestors to immigrate to the United States.
Anyone who has researched the surname Kelly realizes how common a name it is in Ireland. Add to this the great misfortune of our man being given the name John, one of the most favored names for sons in many countries, including Ireland.
Since John Kelly seemed a daunting research challenge, I decided to focus on his wife's maiden name, which I thought might be somewhat easier to locate. Though I quickly discovered that Johanna Falvey's surname was also quite common in County Kerry, I did find some material on her, but not much.
Some of the most helpful hints in the search for Johanna came from the newspaper obituaries after her passing in Fort Wayne in 1903. There, I found mention of "several sisters and brothers in Ireland"—that was from one newspaper—or "several sisters living in Ireland and one in New Zealand."
A sibling in New Zealand? How was I to find that? It was a tempting call for more research, but clueless as to how to begin, I did nothing. Well, I did take a peek at the surname distribution, internationally, and discovered that New Zealand had its fair share of Falveys. But that made the task seem even more hopeless. I didn't pursue it any further.
Enter DNA testing. Specifically, enter a DNA test sale—which, by the way, ends next Wednesday—and only three days ago while the digital ink was still wet on the emailed page, I received a message from the administrator for the DNA test results of one gentleman living in New Zealand. Surname? Falvey!
While this Falvey match to my husband falls in that all too often used slot labeled second to fourth cousin, the numbers are some of the strongest of all his matches. We are certain this is not one of those IBS flukes—Identical By State, where genetic matches are merely coincidental—but a connection through the line of a surname we've already researched.
The problem, of course, is to locate the most recent common ancestor. What is encouraging is the administrator of this match has done research in Ireland, as well, and has some idea of where the family originated. Working together, we hope to unravel the mystery and gain an idea of this family's origin—at least the place from which Johanna headed to Fort Wayne and this other Falvey ancestor headed to New Zealand.
Above: View of Bebek near Constantinople, 1872 oil on canvas by Polish artist Jan Matejko; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.