Monday, October 5, 2020

Last Falvey to America


There are some surnames we encounter as family history researchers which may seem unusual in the country we are researching, but which, in their country of origin, may have been much more common. Such is the case with the maiden name of my husband's second great-grandmother, Johanna Falvey Kelly. When I first discovered her maiden name, I thought the unusual surname would be a snap to trace back to Ireland from her adopted home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Not so, when I took a look back at her homeland in County Kerry. Falvey was indeed an oft-repeated surname in the place she once called home.

Even so, I hoped for clarification through DNA testing and, with typical gusto, I had my husband test at five different genetic genealogy companies. Ancestry DNA, predictably, came up with several matches whose family trees included direct ancestors with the Falvey surname—we've already reviewed all but one of those whose immigrant ancestor made the journey from Ireland to the United States. There are others who chose rather to travel to Australia or New Zealand, and we will soon examine any possible matches there. First, though, we need to take a look at one more DNA match who claimed a Falvey ancestor who made the journey to America.

Unlike the other Falvey matches we've already discussed, this particular one did not show up on my husband's match list at Ancestry. Fortunately, though, his result could helpfully be analyzed where he did test at MyHeritage—and at GEDmatch, where he uploaded his test results. Each of these companies include the tool of a chromosome browser. 

What I already know about this DNA match is that he shares twenty six centiMorgans with my husband. While that may sound like a small amount—Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM project at the DNA Painter website estimates a relationship around third cousin or third cousin once removed—there is one key detail about their joint genetic composition: it is shared in only one segment on one chromosome, not distributed among multiple chromosomes in smaller segments. Significantly, it is also the very same segment my husband shares with the New Zealand match whose administrator has been partnering with me to figure out our joint family connection.

I discussed this match's possible roots earlier this summer, although from a different direction. It turns out that this match's line goes back to the same baptismal records I had been stumbling through while searching for any mention of our Johanna Falvey as a baptismal sponsor for a sibling's child. This week, though, we'll reverse research directions and trace the line back to its roots, starting from where we find the immigrant descendant in the United States.

Not unlike some of the other Falvey descendants I've already traced to this country, this line will also lead us to another immigrant's landing place in Massachusetts. In this case, though, the trip back to County Kerry will be easier sailing for this research attempt. With the help of actual documentation, we'll be able to confirm whether that relationship probability at DNA Painter holds true in our case.

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