First ~ #52ancestors

The first prompt in this year’s 52 ancestors in 52 weeks is first ~ and it’s also my first post here. Seems like that works out well.

So what ‘first’ ancestor am I going to write about? Well, let me tell you a story….

Fourteen years ago, when my mother was dying of cancer, the only commercially available DNA tests were for yDNA. Since I’m female, I needed to talk a male relative into taking a test for me.

Fortunately, my father was a scientist, so that ~ and the fact that he could pretty much skip any visit to a store for buying me a winter holiday present ~ meant getting him to swab his cheek was actually a very easy sell.

He took the test. And we waited… it took a couple months for the results. And I kept waiting, even after I had the results, for that yDNA result to yield any new connections in my research.

And I kept waiting…. even now, 14 years later, the closest match I’ve gotten on that yDNA was a genetic distance of 3 over 37 markers. The test confirmed that my McGee straight paternal line (my great grandfather has been adopted, so my maiden name isn’t actually McGee or a variant) is from northwest Ireland, likely the Donegal stated on one record, based on those not very close matches.

Side note: feel free to encourage any male McGees you know to get a yDNA test. The McGee DNA project ~ one of the oldest such efforts~ is still ongoing.

Fortunately, autosomal DNA testing is now not only available but popular {you might even say trendy…}. Just a couple weeks ago, I got my FIRST connection to ancestors and their immediate family from a DNA match without first having a decent paper trail. All the previous work I’d done had only confirmed the paper trail I’ve spent way too much time and money (and trips to Scotland and Ireland!) confirming.

Since my parents are both deceased, a wonderful aunt {my dad’s youngest sister} agreed to take an autosomal test, so I could separate out maternal and paternal lines. My mother is New England Yankee, while Dad was Scots/Scots-Irish/Irish, so there’s a really clear divide in my matches ~ no overlap yet in the two sets of relatives.

As I was scanning matches and their trees one day, I noticed one of my aunt’s matches had an Eva Maud Arthur from Northern Ireland in his tree. Well, my grandmother’s maiden name was Arthur, and I was stuck on that line. Her grandfather Edward Arthur was {according to the records he left in Scotland} born in Ireland, possibly Donegal, and his parents might have been named Edward Arthur and Mary Hood, if the informant on his marriage record was right. But I’d found no further evidence to back that up.

Side note: I really like fielded searches on genealogy sites, so that I can specify Arthur in the surname field. Otherwise, you don’t want to know how many 19th century boys were named Edward Arthur Something. Of course, even more frustrating is my other grandmother’s maiden: Poor. But that’s for future stories 😉

Turns out Eva Maude Arthur was the daughter of John Arthur, who married Letitia Glass ~ and John’s parents may well have been Edward Arthur and Mary Hood, likely from the Donegal/Tyrone border area.

So, fourteen years after my first venture into genetic genealogy, I made my first real connection to a new relative I didn’t first find through a paper trail.

Hoping it won’t be 14 years until the next such discovery. What would be nice to solve? For example ~ that same grandmother’s other grandfather? On her mother’s birth record, it says illegitimate where his name should be… I keep hoping 😉

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