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Genealogy - The DNA Thread

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    My Mum is pretty sure that this Taggart was descended from Irish stock, but I fear I may need a closer link than that if I want an Irish passport post-Brexit.

    It literally means "Son of the Priest." or Mac an tSagairt in Irish. Though be careful, Manx is essentially the same as Irish. I was able to read it when I was there back in 1985.

    largely Mildenhall and Lakenheath)

    Literally the first place Russia would have bombed in the event of a nuclear war. I was at a wedding in Bury St Edmunds, and was amused to see how close these two places were.


      Just happened to do a google search on the missionary I mentioned upthread (my father's maternal grandfather) - John MacGowan. Interestingly, he had a (possibly small) hand in improving the lives of something like 700 million women (today's numbers)... and he had nothing to do with medicine of any kind....

      I own a couple of his books, including one cringingly titled 'How England Saved China'. (He came from Northern Ireland....) I have no doubt he would today be a proud supporter of the DUP....! Evidence, perhaps, that even the most misguided of people can actually do some good!


        Originally posted by Femme Folle View Post
        . I have also done the DNA testing. I expect someone will post here to say that think those tests are the equivalent of your horoscope, but I think it's fascinating.
        That'll be me. At least for the type of test that SB describes. I really don't understand the appeal of something that broad (as opposed to confirming that a specific individual is related), and for many the science seems pretty dubious too. It seems they're not even (at least primarily) saying "Oh, you have these markers, which scientific research indicates were historically found among people in x". It's more like "You have these markers. Other people who have these markers self-report ancestry x". Which is a very different kettle of fish.


          I think I agree with that, GY. In my own case, I had done a fair amount of genealogical research before even taking the DNA test. The test really just helped confirm some of those finding (like my Swiss ancestors who my aunt very adamantly insisted were German), so I see it as complementary to research, not as a replacement for it. I use all of it for my own amusement and to understand how I ended up being American.


            My aunt spent 40 years working on ours before she died, back in the days when it was all hacking around parish churches and local records offices. Ancestry is great, but I wonder if it devalues the sense of achievement somewhat.

            Anyway, it means that on my dad's side we have maybe 250 years worth of family tree, with the traditional smattering of cousins marrying, people ending up in workhouses, one case of unknown identity (father named on birth certificate long since dead) and several emmigrants to Canada/US.

            And, one line of immigrant stock, a Lutheran family in about 1780 from origin unknown. I've always been quite proud of this small element of European heritage, though it's a shame we've never found out precisely where they came from. That's obviously quite a hard thing to trace and I doubt we'll ever know for sure.


              Originally posted by ursus arctos View Post
              I'm somewhat envious of the quality of the records you WASPy types have to work with.
              I have been working with a DNA match to figure out how we're related, and she used this website to find the possible connection: After that, I was able to go back a few more generations. The records aren't complete because they're being entered by volunteers, and it helps to know what province your ancestors are from, but it might help if you're interested.


                Ah, thanks so much for that (which I've bookmarked), but it isn't the Polish side that is the issue. My grandmother's family essentially didn't budge for nine or ten generations before they left for this country. When my mother and I were in Poland, we were able to review the parish records, which went back at least five generations (though they episodically changed language as the area was overrun by a different larger power).

                My grandfather was from a different village, and though we found his birth record in "their" church, we didn't go further back. I might be able to do that with these sources.

                The Slovak side is a complete mystery, however, in part because my father's family refused to acknowledge their actual origins, and instead created a completely fictitious story that made them seem like something other than peasants. When I was in what was then still Czechoslovakia, I tried to trace the actual story at the central records office, but was stymied by the fact that our name has multiple alternate spellings and we don't have a reliable location other than "east of Kosice, near hills and a river", which pretty much describes that entire part of the country


                  When my mother and I were in Poland, we were able to review the parish records, which went back at least five generations (though they episodically changed language as the area was overrun by a different larger power).

                  hah, my flatmates didn't like it when I asked them "Well you say you are polish now, but were you Germans or Russians or Austrians back in the day?"


                    You are lucky they didn't pummel you for that.

                    The primary reason my grandfather left was that the Russians were much more systematic than the Prussians when they came through looking for fresh cannon fodder. One could hide from the Prussians without repercussions, but the Russians searched the forests and shot anyone they found on the spot.
                    Last edited by ursus arctos; 04-03-2019, 18:53.


                      Meh, people are generally pretty flattered if you can demonstrate accuracy and understanding in a well crafted insult.


                        I have a ton of genealogy stories, but one of my favorites is that I had a couple of DNA matches estimated to be third cousins, which I'd consider pretty close. They have small trees in their profiles, but the names just didn't seem right at all. Then I looked at the 1910 census, when their grandmother was 4 years old, and I got it right away. Her parents ran a boardinghouse, and one of the boarders was my great-grandfather's brother. He was still under the same roof with the landlady and landlord about five years after the child got started? Pretty bold. And I wonder if anyone ever noticed any resemblance to the boarder or difference from her older siblings.

                        I have another match that's very close whose tree is all Irish, but her genetic type is supposedly half eastern European, and all of our common matches are from my Polish side. I wonder what that's all about, but anyone who would know is long dead, dammit. Why couldn't these tests have been available 30 years ago?


                          We did a fair bit of this about ten years back. Basically I got kinda bored after that. My family on my Mother's side were industrial peasants for generations. On my father's, retailers. The only interesting ones were a great Grandfather who had a barber's shop on Bramall Lane. I have an image of him slathering pommade on Fatty Foulkes hair. And uncle Bob the Spy, who I've mentioned here before, and knew as a child so he doesn't really count as genealogy. I've a suspicion several of my female forbears took in male "clients," perhaps on an irregular basis. Otherwise census records don't explain how a single woman with three or four children and no occupation but householder, could survive.


                            but anyone who would know is long dead, dammit. Why couldn't these tests have been available 30 years ago?

                            Maybe it was, but everyone decided that it was for the best to let it lie. We think this sort of thing is hilarious. old people 30 years ago......maybe less so.


                              Originally posted by The Awesome Berbaslug!!! View Post
                              but anyone who would know is long dead, dammit. Why couldn't these tests have been available 30 years ago?

                              Maybe it was, but everyone decided that it was for the best to let it lie. We think this sort of thing is hilarious. old people 30 years ago......maybe less so.
                              That's a very good point, I strongly suspect in many occasions Especially around WWI and WWII, many men were probably aware their wives may not have been as loyal as the norms of society dictated. I am not sure pressing your grandmother about her mothers sexual behaviour when your great-grandaddy was fighting the Hun in the trenches of Passiondale would get anything other than feigned ignorance or an aggressive response.
                              Imagine going to war in 1940, you got two kids, you return on leave 18 months later and you got three kids and your wife has an endless supply of Stockings and chocolate. You finally you came back four years later and now you got four. Yes, you could get mad, but then you remembered how you accepted the gratitude of all those liberated ladies in France and the low countries, Shrug your shoulders and charged it to the game.
                              I mean, things could have been worse, you may have come home to no wife (because she has decamped with a GI to Wyoming) or your kids could be half black or half Indian.

                              I remember reading a stat many years ago how violent post-war Britain was with regards to domestic violence.


                                My mom revealed to me that she did do a 23 and Me test, along with her parents, and I was a little surprised to find out she was 49% "West European", which is this big co-centric circle that goes from London to the Czech Republic, down to the Italian Alps, Catalonia. and up to Denmark, taking in France and the Low Countries. She's only about 30% Welsh/Scottish/Irish, which is basically what the family identifies as. Also 12% Scandinavian, which I knew - my great-grandmother was Evelyn Rambo, a Swedish surname.

                                She was born in 1956 and my grandfather was 4-F during the war anyway, and they're the most upright WASP-y family imaginable, so I can't imagine that's the reason why. But I would love to know more. It makes me want to do one, and see if my dad wants to as well. I thought that would be boring, since the Irish with a splash of French-Canadian is so well established, but who knows what lurks inside.


                                  Originally posted by Tactical Genius View Post
                                  the trenches of Passiondale
                                  A disturbing new euphemism.


                                    I remember reading a stat many years ago how violent post-war Britain was with regards to domestic violence.

                                    I would attribute that mostly to an epidemic of untreated PTSD. It happens after every conflict. (combined with the suspicions you picked up along the way, about the woman you had known for maybe a couple of months before you went off to war 6 years ago.) Patrick Stewart is a big anti-domestic violence campaigner, because his dad used to batter them and his missus something horrible. He also did a tv programme about his dad, who was relatively old at the outbreak of the war, and wound up in a commando unit and fought his way up through Italy. Those who battered their way through the various German defensive lines, and survived saw some truly horrendous things, and then were sent home and dumped back into normal life en masse. It's by far the best thing he's ever done, and he's done quite a bit over the years. It was one of the few 'personal journey' programmes that I've seen that was something other than ego driven. It was extremely informative and insightful..

                                    Yes, you could get mad, but then you remembered how you accepted the gratitude of all those liberated ladies in France and the low countries, Shrug your shoulders and charged it to the game.

                                    Well that's one way of describing it. The Free French and the Americans had a very serious falling out with the americans about all the indiscriminate raping the american soldiers were doing. You'll never guess who it was that they Was that they primarily prosecuted.

                                    More details here. It seemed to be a predominantly american thing in France, but who knows what happened when they eventually managed to bludgeon their way through the Siegfried line.
                                    Last edited by The Awesome Berbaslug!!!; 05-03-2019, 18:53.


                                      Since it became clear that i would be the last in line on my dad's side i've become slightly obsessed with researching/inventing plausible genealogies for myself. i have almost nothing to go on, which gives me considerable space to speculate but is also unsatisfying.

                                      French citizens have been required, since forever, to carry a livret de famille, a wee logbook detailing family births, marriages, deaths, military service, etc. i was hoping to inherit my grandfather's, or at least my father's, but because of my dad's remarriage and my somewhat, err, frosty relations with his widow and her children, i no longer expect this to happen.

                                      What i do know is this: my grandfather moved to Algiers as a toddler from the Valencia region of Spain, where his folks were peasants. i know he arrived in Algeria by 1922 at the latest, accompanied by an 'aunt and uncle' and a sibling who might have been his brother or their son. The sibling died young. My grandfather didn't always know that his adoptive parents were not his biological parents; i don't know how he found out. His mother was said to have contracted the Spanish flu which prevented her from emigrating. Was this true? Or was it a cover story for a woman who'd had to abandon her child for some reason? i never heard any talk of a father. Was she married? Which one of the 'aunt' or the 'uncle' was her sibling, or were they on his side (if there was a 'he'), or were they not so directly related as that? My grandfather's surname ––-- a Frenchified version of which was also my surname at my birth ––-- is quite rare, but i haven't been able to turn up a good lead online; my friend in Barcelona who offered to help has been frustrated by the fact that in rural Valencia in the early 20th century spelling was haphasard and information was logged, where it was logged at all, in a mix of bad castillian and (my friend's word) "mucky" catalan. So, for now, the search bogs down at the very first hurdle.

                                      On my grandmother's side, i know a little bit more. Her father immigrated as a child with his largeish family, eventually to the Sétif region, around the turn of the century from Malta, where his folks were the inevitable illiterate peasants. My father possessed an album of photos of the Maltese contingent, looking stern and godfearing; some of the pictures must have been taken back in the old country, so presumably there was a small amount of wealth and respectability somewhere. However, my grandmother disparaged her paternal relations as hillbillies and heretics. Somehow her dad made a 'good' marriage, though, to the youngest daughter of a small landholder and wannabe merchant who had emigrated from Lombardy. i don't know anything concrete about these folks at all, not even their surname, but i do remember hearing tales of the import-export project (spices) which made the family wealthy and landed the patriarch in jail, where he probably died. i'd love to know more about this business, but on the other hand i enjoy the mystery of the story as i remember it, with its tawdry air of banditry.

                                      Given the peasant origins of all concerned, i'm sure that if i could locate the village from which each of my ancestors emigrated, i'd be able to go back as far as records allow without too much difficulty. Perhaps because of the dispersion, i have a powerful sense of all this movement which comes to an end in me. i don't quite know how to manage it, though often i feel its force, its weight. Maybe a DNA test would help me reinsert myself into this blurry tale of my tribe. i don't know. Grief is still working on me; maybe this is a way forward.


                                        My mum's dad had an Irish name usually found in Catholics of Greater Ulster, he had no interest in his ancestry, so no idea if someone married out/took the soup/converted to Proddyness to be Respectable shop owners in 19th Century Fife. He looked more Mediterranean than peely wally Celt in summer but, the suave bastard. I got a rough approximation of his looks without the dark hair and tannable skin alas (and dancing skills/work ethic). Other biological forbears seem Fife As Fuck as far as I can tell.

                                        i know I will never have kids, and am doubtful my sister will either, so maybe one day I will feel the pangs Laverte does, with more prosaic materials.


                                          He looked more Mediterranean than peely wally Celt in summer but, the suave bastard. I got a rough approximation of his looks without the dark hair and tannable skin alas

                                          This is a celtic fringe thing. My Uncle Colm used to get refused from Irish Dances in NY in the 60's because everyone thought he was a puerto rican. It's also a thing in Wales. If you have mediterranean roots, you might have to go back 7,000 years to find them.


                                            Of my four grandparents, three were born in Middlesbrough as far as I know, and the other in Charltons, a village of two terraced streets just past Guisborough, about ten miles away. Our dad's grandad, confusingly known as Pop, was reputed to be originally a Cockney. That's all I have, even though all my ancestors have to have come from somewhere else as Middlesbrough is even newer than the USA.



                                              My Sheffield lot go back to the early nineteenth century. They emigrated from Leeds.


                                                Originally posted by Nocturnal Submission View Post
                                                Have we done genealogy on OTF? Can't recall it but there's probably something deep in the archives.

                                                I first got involved about 30 years ago, when the main source of information was the dusty tomes in the public records office. My paternal grandfather's background (Plymouth) was fairly well-known but my sister and I managed to take our antecedents back a few generations. My paternal grandmother was a bit more difficult but we managed to find out where she was born (Canning Town), which my dad didn't know, and I even visited the road and took some photos for him. So that was nice. My maternal grandmother was, we thought, fairly securely located (NE Wales) but she actually proved to be much harder to place than we thought. She's still a bit of a work in progress. But the biggest mystery was my maternal grandfather. Rocking up in NE Wales he'd said he was from the Oxford area but little more was known about him than that.

                                                My sister has been on his case for years now and had constructed quite a convincing back story but advances in DNA testing and it's cost has proved to be a game-changer. My teenage son has been building family trees for years now and by accessing and analysing the DNA results that are appearing on the genealogy websites he has, to a high level of certainty, cracked it.

                                                It transpires that my grandfather had taken a new name and kept quite about his background to cover the fact that he (drumroll) had deserted from the Royal Navy (gasp!).

                                                I find this all quite fascinating but I suppose that some family members might be a bit disappointed in him. All of his children, including my mum, have passed away but he still has a living daughter-in-law and about half a dozen grandchildren, one of whom has the wrong surname! Conversations to be had.

                                                Has anyone else got any genealogy-related tales to tell or family mysteries to be delved into?
                                                Quick update. After some initial scepticism, mainly borne of frustration that she wasn't the one to solve the mystery, I suspect, my sister has embraced our grandfather's real identity to such an extent that she's in regular contact with one of our newly-discovered second cousins and planning to meet up with her and presumably some of her family later in the year. She was also quick to tell as many of our known family members as she could, so the aforementioned daughter-in-law, her son and his son are now aware that their surname should be Chapman rather than Ellis!


                                                  Originally posted by SouthdownRebel View Post

                                                  A disturbing new euphemism.
                                                  Very good.


                                                    I finally found my Scottish ancestor. My grandmother had always claimed to have some Scottish heritage, but I hadn't found it until today. I found him on a searchable site of birth, marriage and death records, but I have more research to do on his parents. He is only shared with two other users' family trees on ancestry .com and they both claim that he was born when his mother was 8 years old. I feel strongly that they have the wrong person.

                                                    ETA: They were likely Ulster-Scots, but possibly not. The timing and place of my John Logan's birth doesn't fit. This needs more research.
                                                    Last edited by Femme Folle; 11-03-2019, 04:11.