After taking part in the twitterchat this week about researching our Irish ancestors, I decided to check out how Irish I truly am via my DNA tests.
Sue is 96% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 13.5% and 6.3% Ireland
Mum is 100% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 14.9% and 2.3% Ireland
Dad is 100% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 3.2% and 24.8% Ireland
My brother is 100% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 15.1% and 17.2% Ireland
Sue is 32% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 10% Ireland.
Mum is 19% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 7% Ireland.
Dad is 39% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 19% Ireland.
My brother is 31% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 11% Ireland.
We have all tested with Ancestry but I am the only one tested with LivingDNA. I uploaded from Ancestry to LivingDNA for mum, dad and my brother.
From these results, looks like my brother is a bit more Irish than me (LivingDNA). I’m also wondering where my 4% from Basque came from. Maybe if I uploaded my Ancestry result at LivingDNA, it would then tell me 100% British and Irish.
From all my research so far I only have the following names and places: Convicts highlighted
1830’s – Jackson family in Donegal around Garshooey and Carrigans area possibly St Johnstown area as well – Rebecca, father William senior, brother William Junior, Nellie Jackson, Jane/Sarah Steele, Ann Jackson who then emigrated to Quebec with two children – she died on Ile Grosse, Rebecca’s mother possibly Catherine Campbell
1830’s – McCrewney? family in Newry parish, Down, Northern Ireland – Mary with father Francis, brother Thomas also sent to Van Diemens Land
1810’s – Dawson family near Berwick upon Tweed or Eyemouth – William, a brother at Eyemouth
1830’s – McKay family in Cowgate area in Edinburgh – Catherine, father John, siblings Elizabeth, George and Mary
1810’s – Somers family near Wexford – Patrick, wife Johanna nee Cullen (blind), sons John and Thomas – these three then came to Van Diemens Land between 1841 and 1851 as free settlers, Father John in America, brother John and sister Mary Catherine in Wexford.
Now I know a lot more resources to check out for my Irish ancestors, I might spend more time on those especially on dad’s side of the tree. The convict records give some good information including religion, age, trade, literacy level and parents and siblings often. But where does mum get her 20% total from Scotland/Ireland?
Many genealogists are on Twitter and recently a new twitter chat has started called ANZAncestryTime As you might assume, this is for those of us in Australia and New Zealand, but we have had others from around the world join us in our two chats that have been run so far. We also have a website relating to the chat.
This week, the topic was
Here are the questions and some of the replies that might help you in solving brickwalls in your family history.
Q1 Do you have any Brickwall Ancestors?
Virtually everyone on the chat could mention at least one ancestor who is a brickwall from parents through to ggggrandparents. Many were Irish brickwalls, or not being able to find how the ancestor got to Australia/New Zealand. Others were relating to illegitimacy in generations or incorrect paper trail or oral histories. Changes of name to get away from a situation or bigamous marriages.
I have one major brick wall that I’ve not been able to push through for 20 years. An ancestor born around 1750, perhaps in USA/Canada/Scotland/Ireland. Possibly John/Jean/Johann. McLean or possibly McNeil. I’ve run down so many possibilities.
Yes a number of brick walls largely because of lack of available documentary evidence … gradually making some headway drawing on DNA evidence
Q2 What are some of the causes of Brickwalls in family history?
Bad research habits probably do not help. Going down rabbit holes, not using a research log, not planning the research – from Fran
Duplication of names in an area, making it hard to distinguish who you are looking for. Lack of records. Brick-wall is too far back for DNA to be useful – Fiona @fiona_memories
Poor handwriting leading to not so good indexing – Shauna @HicksShauna
Researcher inadequacy – I have it in full measure – Jill @geniaus
In my cases it’s either names missing from records, or common names in a big city – Alona @LoneTester
Getting locked into a thought process and not jumping the wall. Records which cease at a relatively early stage – Pauleen @cassmob
Not being able to verify if records actually relate to your person, incorrect oral history leading down the wrong trail(s) – Sue @tasteach
Thinking you have the correct person but you don’t. 2 people with the same name and birth date. Also illegitimacy and deciphering handwriting – Sandra
We do need to beware of falling into the name and place trap as if there might only have been one person possible. Good tip! – Pauleen
Lack of record availability, mistranscription, lies. Some records just got destroyed years ago or have deteriorated – Hilary @Genemeet
sometimes unexpected behaviour gives you a brickwall that isn’t really there as you don’t have the substantive evidence to verify families moving across countries or the globe – and then you find they did – Ruth @ruthjots
My brickwall is gg grandfather, Conrad Deihl arrived NZ c1842. Of German origins. Where to start? No clues on any BDMs – Catherine @CathyClarke77
There are even a few ancestors I believe are taking steps to hide from me – I find the record but the key section is illegible or is missing completely – Dara @DaraMcgivern
There was quite a bit of discussion about rabbit holes – information that leads you astray. But often these can help with the social history of the area where your brickwall might live, or lead you to maps and perhaps employment opportunities in the town giving clues as to why someone may have left the area.
But Fran said
Problem with the rabbit holes for me is that I find something interesting in my Ipad and are not all set up to document and source. Then I can’t find it later.
Then a great discussion from this comment by Maggie @iwikiwichick
My ancestors’ complete disregard for their descendants… They could have left me more hints. That’s all I’m sayin’.
Jill then mentioned
We need to seek help to overcome our inadequacies – learn, learn, learn.
Q3 What strategies do you use to break down Brickwalls?
Put them aside for another day when I can look at them with a fresh eye. Revisit, revisit, revisit – Jill
Timelines to see what is missing and whether some record could actually fit in the timeline – Sue
Timelines… lots of timelines showing the interactions between multiple family members as they may give clues to your brick-walls. I even wrote a guide to creating them – Fiona
Still waiting to knock down those brickwalls. But patience and coffee are both a necessity – Alona
Planning, for me is probably the best way to actually advance my research. Problem is that it is so enjoyable to do random google searches to see what you can find – Fran
Increasingly sharing the problem amongst expert colleagues as used to be putting into a drawer for years… – Ruth
Checking out lateral lines to gain more clues eg witnesses at marriages of siblings – Sue
Researching siblings can often open up a lead to knocking down a brickwall – Jennifer @Jennifer_Jones0
My main strategy now is genetic genealogy, and the more matches I identify the more successful the strategy becomes. So, I’m making some progress on my mother’s line, but my Dad’s, where no known cousins will test, is falling behind – Dara
Leave it and come back later when new records become available online – Hilary
Also making sure that you have checked every piece of documentation that you have or could have.. ie buy the birth certificates of siblings etc. Look for potential wider family in the area. Who else was on the ship from the area/country – Fiona
Try thinking outside the box how would it have sounded given any local accent – Hilary
Searching across states, looking at all branches/descendants of the family, DNA testing. Using Grenham’s surname distribution maps for Ireland – Pauleen
Process of elimination, tracking all possibilities, thinking laterally, looking at the wider community (FAN network) – Maggie (Family, Associates, Neighbours =FAN)
Making a surname variant list can help and when you find a newspaper article check how the OCR-ing has transcribed the typed name, to add to your variant list – Fiona
Recheck regularly the information you already have. I always seem to miss some little vital detail. Also researching extended family and neighbours can help – Sandra
With DNA matches for brickwall person, make connections to them via email, Facebook, blog etc and work together, your brickwall might be a known person to them – Sue
Writing a blog post about the brick wall can help and others make useful suggestions too – Shauna
Trove has been a major source of info helping me to trace ancestors movements within Australia – Jo @jobee_71
Providing a solid base for building backwards by building across and forwards to connect DNA matches and include collateral lines – Jane
Think who is the best person to do a DNA test to help with your research – Hilary
Test all the senior citizens in your family before it’s too late – Jill
DNA has helped me confirm my Aus and NZ connections when used in conjunction with traditional research methods – Sylvia @Historylady2013
Final word from Jill on this question
Strut your stuff – don’t hide your ancestors in the closet – make them visible so cousins can find you
Q4 Has DNA ever helped you to knock down Brickwalls?
Without DNA we probably would have never found Stephen’s father. Descendants in USA helped us track back to Ireland and locate the family member that migrated to NZ – Fran
DNA has found new cousins and reunited lost ones. It has proved my aboriginal line – Jill
Lots of connections made using DNA and disproving paper trails and oral history on my dad’s side, on mum’s side DNA=paper trail – Sue
DNA helped me find out who my g grandfather was – Sharn @SharnWhite
Yes. I now know who my paternal grandfather was. No more missing branch – Sandra
Not as yet but hope to reveal more about a GG Grandfather – an English line of my family with few known relations – Ruth
My mother has a DNA match to a bunch of siblings whose family is limited to Wexford, and it’s a decent match, not down to tiny fragments. But the documents run out and we haven’t yet made the link despite years of trying – Pauleen
Not so much a brick wall, but it proved a relationship that some people certainly questioned – Alona
DNA has helped identify an ancestor’s missing siblings. Hoping it will identify some wayward fathers (and a mother) – Maggie
Yes, led me to the right Andrew Thomson in Lanarkshire. Now if I could just work out if he died in Australia or went back to Scotland (or let’s face it, just about anywhere else in the world) – Fiona
Not at all but that’s my fault. I really haven’t done anything with my DNA results. Also my family won’t get tested as they’re suspicious of DNA, even the younger ones – Jennifer
Just last month I confirmed the maiden name of my GGG-grandmother through DNA matches, and an Australian marriage and death cert. – Dara
Yes DNA has helped me too. I’ve broken through a couple of big walls by combining with paper trail – Sally @SallyBloomfiel7
A few hints about DNA tools to use
My favourite DNA tools are clusters, and chromosome mapping to see who matches who – Seonaid @genebrarian
I build my DNA matches trees on my computer. I mark each link so I can see who goes back to whom. Make sure the trees are correct – Margaret @MargLBailey
I like creating those quick and dirty trees using DNA matches and their trees, then using Jonny Perl’s WATO tool to hypothesize where dad fits – Sue
We need to start a campaign so everyone who did an Ancestry DNA test uploads to a site that will allow to do our chromosome mapping – so powerful – Jill
I’m using DNA tools like DNA painter and Ancestry’s colour coding to help knock down brick walls – Sharn
Not done enough testing yet but hoping to get 2 uncles to do Y DNA to help with missing father and uncertainty – Hilary
my new DNA match helped me find an error today – Hilary
The last five minutes of the chat related to a lot of tips about brickwalls
I found a missing ancestor through a google book search – Sharn
My tip is never give up – keep reviewing it every so often – Shauna
Local histories often contain information about families – Sharn
Chill. Don’t get too worked up. Put them aside for another day – there is plenty more research you can do – Jill
Persevere, keep records of research, think around the brickwall, get tested for DNA, connect with other relatives – Sue
Blogging is a great way to find information when people contact you. And social media – Sharn
Ask the hard question? We all talk about how great interviewing collecting from older relatives. Once they are comfortable then ask the hard questions. You will be surprised how much they will spill the beans – Fran
Don’t forget you can always share your Brick Wall with BrickWallBusters on Brick Wall Hour @BWBHour run by @DanielGenealogy