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.

52 Ancestors

I have decided to take on the challenge of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks to encourage me to post regularly on my blog (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/). The first prompt is the word “first” and I scratched my head more than a little to come up with something appropriate. One of the first ancestors I researched was my grandmother Hazel Annie Chisholm. By clicking on her name you can see her story. What is interesting that after putting in months of work to find out about her relationship with her husband William Shute a DNA match has now appeared that shows I am closely related to the Doherty family. I always believed that Jack or “Pop” Doherty as I will always remember him was my grandfather. Legal documents show that William Shute is recorded as my mother’s father and I found it very difficult to reconcile that with how I felt about my Pop. Now I am just waiting for some more test results from a descendant of William to resolve the question and I am incredibly grateful to his great-granddaughter for agreeing to do this. Now I just have to be patient while we wait for the results to come in …. all my fingers are crossed!