Monday, August 24, 2020

Time to Regroup


When multiple inputs have the tendency to set one's mind spinning, it's time to step back and reassess the research situation. In this case, I'm running in circles, trying to push back the generation beyond the couple in County Kerry—Johanna Falvey and her husband with the typical Irish name of John Kelly—who are my husband's brick wall ancestors. That pair represent one set of his second great-grandparents, having children which bridged their 1869 immigration from Ireland to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Try as I might, I have not been able to find documentation for the couple beyond a possible marriage record and baptismal documentation for two of their children. While the listing for godparents was helpful—adding the surnames Fleming and O'Brien to my search—it still didn't move me any closer to the goal of discovering the identities of the parents of either John or Johanna.

True, researching a possible collateral line—that of Timothy Kelly, co-purchaser of the family burial plot in Fort Wayne with our John Kelly—led me to possible Kelly parentage including a mother's maiden name of Flynn. It also plunged me into yet another family circle involving several Sullivan descendants. Checking with possible links in County Kerry, it seemed the Sullivans were everywhere! I could find them connected to Kellys. And then, there they were, connected to Falveys, as well!

Feeling the despair of wandering farther and farther from my original research intentions, I decided to double back and take a second look at all the amassed information. What started me off was a collection of DNA matches whose family trees included the surname Falvey. What were the possibilities that some of these matches also included the surname Sullivan in their tree?

I took an initial glance at possibilities by searching through the matches at AncestryDNA. I searched all of my husband's matches containing the name Sullivan—a risky proposition, considering the Sullivan surname is not only common in the United States (and widespread throughout the English-speaking world), but along with its more Irish variant O'Sullivan, the third most popular surname in Ireland, specifically in, you guessed it, County Kerry.

From there, I looked for all Sullivan matches whose tree also contained the surname Falvey. As it turned out, there were three—each having a husband-wife combination of those two surnames. Two of them, in fact, descended from the same Sullivan-Falvey couple. 

The difficulty with these matches, of course, is that their trees seem to end with the founding immigrant ancestor having arrived in the United States from, simply, "County Kerry." That, of course, is exactly the predicament I'm in. But where in County Kerry is my question.

However, taking a closer look at these matches, it appears two of the matches each share one, and only one, segment of DNA in common with my husband. The one has a segment of twenty nine centiMorgans, the other of twenty eight. As no other possible connection between their family lines and my husband's is obvious, it may be possible to designate that specific segment as a genetic signature of this Falvey line.

The only problem: the matches are at AncestryDNA, a company which has steadfastly refused to offer its supporters a chromosome browser. If I am to determine the location of that segment—if it is even on the same chromosome, let alone the same position—I will need to see whether these two matches have their genetic information posted anywhere else which offers a chromosome browser.

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