Thursday, June 6, 2019

Same DNA, Different Ancestry?

As far and wide as our Denis and Margaret Tully's descendants may have scattered—some of them removed as far as Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, as well as Chicago and points in U.S. Dakota Territory—those of the proposed Dennis and Margaret Tully of my husband's new DNA match chose to remain close to their original Canadian settlement in Paris, Ontario.

That, of course, wasn't the only discrepancy I found between the two couples. Though our Denis and this match's Dennis were both born in Ireland—the other one around County Clare, according to this DNA kit administrator—ours started life around 1802, while the other Dennis was born in 1830. Worse, while our Denis married a woman named Margaret Flannery, the Margaret who married our match's Dennis was surnamed Hurley.

I had seen this Tully and Hurley duo in various Canadian records as I originally pieced together what I thought was our own Tully heritage. For the most part, I had steered clear of that possibility. Why I hadn't previously checked whether that was the correct version of our family's history, I'm not sure, but it was evident I'd have to face up to that possibility now. After all, we had a DNA connection flagging us. Something wasn't stacking up correctly.

The trouble with this other Dennis Tully family was the strangely familiar assemblage of given names. Just as our family featured Margarets and Patricks and Johns, so did this one. With the exception of Bridget, their oldest daughter—whom I presumed, if this family kept close to the traditional Irish naming patterns, would represent the name of Margaret Hurley's mother—almost all the other children's names showing in their 1871 census entry echoed those in our Tully line.

Of course, theirs were not the only Irish immigrant families populating the New World with Marys and Margarets and Johannas, so that would not be a reliable gauge of relationship. Nor would the fact that their oldest, Bridget, was born in Paris—same small Ontario town in which our Denis Tully had settled with his family before the 1851 census.

To complicate matters, just as our Denis and Margaret had a son named John, so did this couple. Of course, that is where the comparison ends on that coincidence. Our John was born in Ireland in 1842, while this alternate John Tully arrived in 1866, long after the family had landed in Ontario.

But the DNA match tells us that both my husband and this other Ancestry researcher's husband have a Most Recent Common Ancestor somewhere in our joint Tully family. Just by reviewing all the other matches these two men have in common, the ancestral line points to Tully, not any other branch of my husband's Irish heritage. It's just that the lines leading up to that point when each Tully line arrived in or near Paris, Ontario, don't seem to agree on the narrative. Surely there is another part of this story we are currently not seeing.

Above: Line from the Roman Catholic Marriage Records for Strathroy, Ontario, Canada, showing a John Tully, son of Dennis Tully and Margaret Hurley; photo courtesy

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