DNA

DNA can be somewhat of a contentious and confusing issue but for someone like me it is incredibly helpful and slots in well with solid research when tracing a family tree. DNA has shown me that you can’t always believe oral history handed down through the family and you can’t always believe the formal documentation that more often than not you use for proof.

It was thanks to a DNA test that I “met” a very close match online. I thought I had thoroughly researched my family history over three generations but this relationship did not appear and given the match, it should have. I have a huge amount of collated information, oral family history, birth certificates, court notes, newspaper articles that I have used to prove that William Shute, my grandmother’s husband, is my grandfather. My match was descended from the Doherty’s so we compared notes/trees and realised that my Shute connection was unlikely. A descendant of my supposed grandfather William Shute kindly agreed to have her DNA tested and there was no match.

My grandmother separated from her husband very early in her marriage and to all intents and purposes Jack Doherty became her husband and my mother’s father. My mother was told that Jack was not her biological father when she had to provide a birth certificate on her marriage. Her birth had been registered under William Shutes name probably to ensure her legitimacy. My mother was very distressed to be told that Jack was not her biological father but she always regarded him as her father and the man that had raised and loved her.

For me, this makes DNA testing worthwhile and our family celebrated the confirmation that our Pop was definitely our biological grandfather as well as the Pop we loved. I can imagine this would not be the experience in other cases and why some are wary of having their DNA checked.

Brick Wall

The one brick wall that causes me the most grief is for my 4 x great grandfather Hugh Chisholm. Even my Chisholm family history mentor and cousin Audrey from New Zealand haven’t been able to help me crack where he was born. I know from my DNA and the link is in Scotland but I can’t seem to shift him from England when he married in Yorkshire in 1795. He was a miner so I am now checking all records that I can find with the name Chisholm or similar who had an occupation as a miner as it was a job that was almost automatically taken up by the children. Fingers crossed something comes to light

Prompts for April

Just so I won’t get lost decided to post the April prompts on my blog.  Now to think about what I am going to write.

Week 14 (April 1-7): Brick Wall
Week 15 (April 8-14): DNA
Week 16 (April 15-21): Out of Place
Week 17 (April 22-28): At Worship

In the Paper

sketch-chissyWith a prompt of “in the paper” I couldn’t go past my great grandfather, Alfred Wilson Chisholm. Born in New Zealand in 1867 he migrated to Australia and became a newspaperman, eventually becoming editor of some of the smaller publications in Northern Queensland. Unfortunately, in collecting the news he tended to drink too much and even before it was named “fake news” he found it necessary to sometimes bend or even invent a story.  A scandal erupted because of his actions in setting up a prank and reporting it as a fact, this saw his career and marriage shattered. One thing that came out of it was a sketch of Alfred published by the “Truth” newspaper as part of a story on the scandal. It is the only image I have been able to find of him. If you would like to read more click here.

Large family

wreck

Wreck of the Meridian

The prompt for 52 ancestors this week is “large family”.  No problem there, most of my ancestors managed an average of 11 children. As John and I are planning our next cruise my thoughts turned to my 2x Great Grandmother Margaret Henderson (nee Crosby). Now there was a woman with some “spunk” and a lot of kids. When her husband decided that a better fortune awaited them in the colonies she agreed to pack herself and their eight children up and take a ship to Sydney. The children ranged in age from the oldest girl of 15 years to a six-week-old baby. I would not recommend a sea voyage even today for parents with those many children in that age range, you would have to be insane. The conditions onboard ship in that century were less than ideal for travel and add to the fact that eight weeks into the voyage they were shipwrecked on a deserted island. While on the island her husband was shot and Margaret would have carried the burden of care for all the children as well as an injured husband. Thankfully they did survive the experience, established themselves in Australia and have more children … just as well or I might not be here today. The story of their journey can be read by clicking here.

Bachelor Uncle

timber splittersI am late with my prompt this week as I was dithering about who to choose as my subject. Then I remembered when researching my great grandfather Charles Alfred Shephard I came across a sad story of his younger brother Alexander Shephard. He died when he was only 19 years old and I have found very little about him except how he died. For that reason, I decided that I would try to find out a bit more and have written up his story to include in my blog. Click here if you would like to read it.