It is sheer serendipity when someone who takes a DNA test happens to match up with a family line which has had our own research work stalled. If the match is close enough, and the person's own tree complete enough, it is possible to make some connections we hadn't seen before.
In the case of my husband's DNA matches who tie into our mutual Falvey line from County Kerry, Ireland, my hope to find the Falveys' way back home has not yet materialized. We've already traced the line back through several iterations of Falveys—from Indiana, from Michigan, and now, for the second go-round, from Massachusetts. Still nothing to point the way back home.
We had a possibility with the line we examined last week, that of Timothy Cullinane who settled in the Boston area. Though he and his wife, Margaret McCarthy, had at least four children, that younger generation either died young or didn't marry. Of the one child whom I could trace, though she married, I couldn't find any descendants, and thus, no further possible DNA testers.
Timothy's brother Patrick, on the other hand, already was the ancestor of one of my husband's DNA matches. Though the match wasn't close—only twenty six centiMorgans—it could have represented a relationship as close as third cousin (a stretch) or as distant as sixth cousin. Or beyond. It all came down to how much Falvey DNA from Patrick's mother any of Patrick's descendants would carry in his or her own genetic makeup.
To find an additional Falvey DNA match from this same family line, at first glance, wouldn't seem difficult. Patrick Cullinane and his wife, Johanna Sullivan, had at least eight children whom I could find. On closer scrutiny, though, finding any children of their children was a challenge.
There was one option, though. Patrick and Annie's second daughter, Helen, married a man formally known as Cornelius Francis Lyons—Frank to his friends—and they raised a family of at least five children. I am still working my way through documenting that family line, seeking other Ancestry subscribers who are working on that line and who may also have tested their DNA. I haven't found any possible candidates to approach about considering testing yet, though.
In the meantime, having repeated the same process for Patrick's brother Timothy's line, I ran into a bit of a surprise. After finding a death record for Timothy and his son before the 1900 census, what should I stumble across in that very census but a family in the same area looking suspiciously like the Timothy Cullinane family I had just been working on.
Tell me it isn't so....