Sunday, November 15, 2020

Genealogy and DNA

My regular readers know about my passion for our family genealogy.
I grew up hearing about my paternal grandmothers family history as United Empire Loyalists. It was interesting to me because we were learning about it at school in Grade 4.
In my early 20s I met my fathers first cousin who introduced me to genealogical research. She had a wonderful big binder full of great records. My fathers aunt also started corresponding with me about her research. She lived close to the Victoria Archives in Toronto. My father wasn't all that interested in it beyond the obvious.
I was 9 or 10 when I figured out that the guy I knew as my grandfather was NOT my grandfather. I think my cousin Debbie told me that he had just died, but my father didn't go to the funeral, which seemed odd. It would be years before I learned the identity of my grandfather.
Just before my father passed away, his youngest sister told me to look into the surname Brotherston. Oh yes, I discovered a lot from that hint! I found the 1921 census with my father and his closest sister, his mother and grandparents....and the surname of record was Brotherston.  I have since managed to find his two sisters birth announcement in a local newspaper, but still haven't got any kind of birth record for Dad. 

In 2014, Another person, thinking she was a sibling to my father (he's had several we never knew about) convinced me to invest in one of these DNA kits. As it happened, the woman was not a blood relative, but an adopted cousin to my father. (We have a loving friendship to this day, though she is now suffering dementia.
I had ordered a rogue kit to carry in my purse if an opportunistic situation ever popped up. I mentioned it to my brother and he said "I'll do it!" Like me, my brother was very anxious for proof that this Mr. Brotherston was our true grandfather. We were in for a big surprise! My brother did indeed have many good matches to the Brotherston clan which sealed that deal. I had the pleasure of connecting to a distant cousin who was living in the part of Scotland where our ancestors originated. He took many photographs and found lots of church records. We discovered that our 4xgreat grandfather was illegitimate. Brian had to convince the rector to let him look at a special book that was not usually open to the public. That's where he found the baptism of this special child.
We have reconnected to several close cousins in our hometown. It makes me so sad that my grandfather lived in our neighbourhood during my childhood. I don't know if I ever met him, though I do have memories of his second wife. I never knew she was my fathers stepMother, though, Just some random old lady who seem to like us, and gave us treats when we visited her. 
My greatgrandparents with my Grandmother and baby Ed

Grandfather Bill Brotherston

My dear old Da in his army gear

After my aunt died, my cousin was going through her belongings and found a photo of my Grandpa Bill. My father and his sister Beryl looked so much like him it's just mind boggling! We have since found at least one more full sibling for my father. She has passed, but I've connected with her youngest daughter. She is working on getting her dual citizenship and plans to move back to Canada as soon as her husband retires. 

Men and women carry the X chromosome from their mothers. Only men carry the Y and pass it to their male offspring. We upgraded my brothers test to include his Y. We were very surprised to have one match with the surname of Herriott.  It turns out this gentleman is the clan chief. We have carried on an interesting correspondence and upgraded my brothers testing levels several times. He just keeps getting more and more Herriot(t) matches. We are presently waiting for a major test result that is of great interest to the Herriot Clan Heritage Association. All of these matches can link their lineage back to a rather well known guy who came to New Jersey in the 1600s. My brothers on the other hand, is believed to go back even further. We are rather excited to see just how far. 
So the big question is....is a Mr. Herriot the missing father of the 4x great grandfather? 

Our paternal grandmothers heritage is quite interesting. She had an ancestor on the Mayflower. She had ancestors among the first dozen colonists in what is now New York and the state of Rhode Island. She descends from Loyalist and Patriots, a pirate and a spy.
Grandfather Bill has cousins who were Lords. Ever heard of the Stanley Cup? Grandpa is a descendant of the Stanley family. One of his original maternal ancestors came to Canada at the behest of the Stanley family. The mother of said family was the Stanley. After she died, Lord Stanley left her widower an inheritance with the condition he bring the children to Canada and establish a new life. They bought quite a large farm, which is to this day a real showplace in our home county.


10 comments:

  1. Wow! This is great for you and your brother! Fascinating stuff once you get into it. I know my hubby's Dad followed his ancestry for years before he passed and kept coming up with more and more cousins etc. from all over the world. Good for you!

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    1. DNA opened a long locked door for our family.

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  2. This is really exciting, isn't it?
    I wish my birth mother was a better person. I won't ever have an idea, now.

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    1. If you know her details you could still research her heritage. After all, it is YOUR heritage!

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    2. I don't have her details, though. She wouldn't speak to me.

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    3. You could apply for your adoption file. It is open in Ontario now.

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  3. Replies
    1. I love that we can learn so much about history as we chase down these folks.

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  4. This is just super fascinating, Karen. I knew you loved family history but boy, this is just like reading a novel! I can see why you love Edward Rutherfurd's work -- your family story sounds like one of his books, with intriguing people, stories and identities! I love this post more than I can say!

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