Do you have a plan for your DNA testing? Last week I discovered at match at 23andMe to a person identified as a possible 3rd cousin. That would mean that we share 2nd great grandparents. I thought, I know who all my second great grandparents are with the exception of my paternal grandfather from the Ukraine. Let's see if I can solve this.
Although the surname was a common one and it was in my database, the individual was not. As is frequently the case, the Family Background information was blank except for the Family Surnames. There were three, but one was a bit unusual and familiar to me. I decided to send a message to the person. My success in this has not been great, but I figured I'd take a shot at it. Here's what I said...
My name is Donna Moughty and we are showing at 23andMe as possible third cousins. I notice in your names list the name Berube. If this is our connection it is likely through my paternal line where my 2nd great grandparents were James Mackay and Rachel Johnston from County Leitrim in Ireland. Their son Matthew (the brother of my great grandmother Rachel) married Anna Bell Ross and their daughter, Margaret Mackey married Arthur Frank Berube in 1939. They had three children, Robert Arthur, Jacqueline Alice and Arthur Frank. If any of this sounds familiar to you, you can contact me directly at email@example.com. I also have a website at irishfamilyroots.com. I look forward to hearing from you, even if it's just to say, wrong family.
When you contact a match, you should give them enough information to determine if they have a match, without giving them too much. Also ask for a specific action, in this case, I look forward to hearing from you, even if it's just to say, wrong family. I heard back from him within a few hours. He had to check with his mother, since he didn't know much of anything about the family. His mother was able to confirm that her father had siblings of Robert and Jacqueline. (As frequently happens there was a divorce, so not a lot of information passed down.) Our actual relationship is 3rd cousin 1x removed.
This was one of very few DNA matches I've had on this particular line. The Church of Ireland records for this parish in Ireland were destroyed in the PRO fire and survive only from 1877. It doesn't seem like this person is going to be able to directly assist me with research...it's unlikely because there was a divorce that he has the Family Bible. But since I now know our relationship, I can use him for shared matches.
One of the reasons I was able to connect to this person is because I've done quite a bit of collateral research. Rather than just focusing on the direct line, I've researched each of my great grandmothers siblings (there were 10 of them) and where possible, have done descendant research as far as possible. That's why I recognized the name Berube. If you have family members of your ancestor who were born, married or died after civil registration in Ireland, jump onto IrishGenealogy.ie and expand your family tree. Sometimes it's one of these connections that will help you break through your brick walls. My second great grandparents were married in 1866 (just after full civil registration, but because they were Protestant, the records are available back to 1845).
James Mackay (sometimes Mackey so I need to check both spellings) was a 35 year old widower when he married Rachel Johnston. James' father was Matthew Mackay, a farmer from Laughta (Laghta standardized spelling), civil parish of Rossinver, Leitrim in the Poor Law Union (Civil Registration District) of Ballyshannon. The witnesses were Stephenson Whitten and Glasgow Johnston (both names have connected to the family in various ways) so make sure you grab the names of witnesses and sponsors. The next step is to find all the children of this couple.
I'm trying something new here. Below is a video that shows you how to find the children using IrishGenealogy.ie (which would be after civil registration). Let me know using the comments below, or on my Facebook page whether you found this helpful. Would you prefer a written explanation or does the video enhance the experience.
Once you find the children, continue to check other sources. Because of the timeframe, I would next look at the 1901 census for this family to see how many of the children are still in the home. Are the parents both still living? Depending on what you find, go back to IrishGenealogy.ie and look at death and marriage records. If you find a marriage record for one of the children, then check for their children. You can continue this process for marriages up to 1944 and deaths to 1969. (Records after 1922 for Northern Ireland can be found at the GRONI website.) Births however, are under the 100 year online restriction so they only go to 1919. Additional years for the Republic of Ireland (an index only) can be found at FamilySearch until 1958. By doing your research on collateral lines, you will be better prepared to make connections to your DNA matches.
Now that I know how I’m connected to this match, the next thing is to see what other matches we share. Unfortunately, I don’t recognize any of our shared matches, however there are a number of other 3rd cousins, which would indicate the 2nd great grandparents. I clicked on the top 3rd cousin match (I wrote to him a year ago and he didn’t answer) and bingo. Not only do I share with this new match, but we both share with another known match on this line who is a half 3rd cousin. So likely, all of these 3rd cousin matches connect to the same set of second great grandparents. If you don't have a known cousin (preferably a 2nd or 3rd cousin) you need to find one and ask them to test. This gives you a control to use shared matches. Although this connection was made at 23andMe, all of the DNA sites have a way to see your shared matches.
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Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!