I’ve written about my trials, tribulations, and even the breakthroughs I’ve experienced with my family search and genealogy. But I’ve come to the realization that I’m not getting anywhere and haven’t for quite some time.
I am still stuck in Pennsylvania in the 1800’s. I have a name for my 2nd great grandfather, James Campbell and his wife, Ann McCauley. But that’s it. I have not been able to find any documentation of this couple other than the census records back to 1850. I have had all the historical societies and libraries that offer genealogical help in every county I can place them in go through all their records. Not a single birth record or even an announcement for either, much less any marriage notices can be found.
I’ve had my Y-DNA tested. As of this writing I have one male match. He has helped but, I’m not sure I can trust his findings. He claims to have been to Pennsylvania and has received help from the same sources that tell me nothing can be found. And despite several requests, he has not provided me with any copies of the information he got from those sources.
I have also had my autosomal DNA (atDNA) tested so that I could hopefully find other family members. As a reminder, Y-DNA is passed only from fathers to sons, while atDNA is passed from both parents to all their offspring. So, a female descendant of this Campbell line will have a portion of the male Campbell line.
Did that help? Not really. While I can find a few women that match and claim to have Campbell heritage, again, there is no documentation. Having found out the hard way to not trust data without sources I cannot use any of the information these folks have. They’re family trees either go through I male line that I have been able to disprove, or they go all the way back to King Arthur. I seriously doubt that my line goes back to a legend. My Y-DNA doesn’t match up any of the main lines of the Campbell’s at all! Chances are my “original Campbell” was nothing more than a farmer on an estate of a Campbell and took that name for his own. Although, I’m hoping that at least of my ancestors married a Campbell lass and then took the name. But I’m not holding my breath.
So, all that to say I’ve spent too much time, energy, and especially my money on this. Since no one in my family wishes to carry this endeavor on, and I can’t afford to hire a genealogist, I’m (again) calling it quits. I will keep my accounts at My Heritage and Ancestry, but only the free versions when my current subscriptions expire. That way someone my just find something that matches and maybe, just maybe that elusive “immigrant ancestor” will be found. With documentation, please. With any luck it will happen before my subscriptions run out late this year. Again, not holding my breath. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I think my male Campbell cousins are afraid of doing a DNA test. They’re worried they’ll be tied back to a cattle raid in the 16th century.
I will continue to post family history. I hope others outside of my immediate family enjoy them. Not that it matters, I’m still going to post what I want. It’s my blog and I can post what I want. 🙂
This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on ethnicity estimates using DNA. (YAWN!)
To finish up this topic (for now) let’s look at the ethnicity estimates of two of my siblings against mine.
It’s interesting to see the differences. Take the left hand image, my eldest sister. Less of England, Wales & NE Europe (hereby “British” – easier to type), by 10 points with me, but only one point with our brother. Both my siblings show more Africa than I do, as well as more Germanic Europe. My brother shows none of the European Jewish that my sister and I have. My sister’s estimate also shows Pennsylvania Settlers, that neither of us boys show. And that is very interesting; our paternal lines (both grandfather and grandmother) are well established in Pennsylvania.
How can that be? Well, “luck of the draw” is as good an explanation as any. All the results shown are from an Ancestry DNA tests, so they are autosomal (atDNA) tests. If you read yesterday’s post (and didn’t fall asleep), you will remember that atDNA tests looks at the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. This type of DNA is made up of about a 50/50 mix of the genes passed down from both parents.
But how much of your parents genes get handed down to each child? That’s where the “luck of the draw” comes in. Pick one of your parents, doesn’t matter which. They have their own 22 chromosomes, made of a 50/50 combo of their parents , which is made of a 50/50 combo of those parents.
It’s rather clear that you’re not getting all the genes from either parent. They can’t give you 100% of their genetic makeup and have it fit into 50% of your DNA. So which parts do you actually get from each parent? It’s totally random. The genes I inherited from my parents are not going to be the same as any of my siblings have inherited. Hence, different estimates. My sister received more the Africa DNA than I did, while I received more of the “British” genes. Guess that’s why I like IPAs?
You also have to consider that;
Almost all – 99.9% – of the DNA of any two people on earth is exactly the same. Accordingly, genetic genealogy tests are only interested in the 0.01% of DNA that can vary from one person to the next.
Genetic Genealogy in Practice, Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne.
An interesting site I didn’t mention in the last post, GEDMatch, allows you to upload the raw data from most of the popular testing sites for comparison with others. They also have ancient samples you can compare your DNA against. It helps if you’re interested in how much Neanderthal DNA you’re carrying around (current thought is everybody has 1% – 2%). You can also compare yourself to several archeological finds such as “Cheddar Man“. However, those examples are all mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA). mtDNA is the most common DNA that can be extracted from ancient finds. But is only passed down by the female line. So you can only know if your mother was related. But if she is related then you will be too.
Genealogy tidbit: If your parents don’t have any children, there is a very high probability you won’t either.
And yes, we are full siblings. This image (with their names removed for privacy) shows the results. I didn’t ask the sister in the middle for her estimate, not that I don’t want it, I already had two good examples to use. And that image is hard enough to see!
I have used my beautiful and wonderful siblings data with their permissions. Of course, I did pay for all the tests, but the data is theirs, not mine. I thank them very much for allowing me to use it.
So, how many questions has this opened up? Has it intrigued you enough to do your own DNA test? If so, please research all the options including data privacy. Law enforcement is increasingly asking for DNA matches from all the companies out there. Where each company is headquartered greatly effects how much they share and the requirements of local and national law enforcement requests.
… Is really up in the air! Genealogically speaking, I’m a mutt (and chances are you are too!)
One of the biggest reasons people, lots of people, do any DNA tests is to see where their family came from. Unlike myself, they really don’t care to find some long lost family member, or try to prove they’re related to some royal family, now long forgotten (as in the family tree I found that links my Campbell line back to King Arthur!!).
But just how accurate are those ethnicity results? Well even according to the companies providing them, not really all that accurate. Well, that’s not an accurate statement either. It’s not that the estimates aren’t accurate, it’s that one, they are exactly what they say – estimates – and two the results can change. Your DNA doesn’t change, but as more people test, your estimate can change greatly. Here are my results from Ancestry.
The first thing that jumps out is the change in the UK results. I can document my family back to Scotland, so why did the numbers change? One reason is that more folks from the south end of the island (England & Wales) along with more people from the continent have tested. Thus skewing the results that way since there are more matches. Also, Ancestry has broken up the results to be a bit more specific. So the high number in 2018 for Ireland/Scotland/Wales will be diluted as those results are moved to a different locality, and the Scandinavian numbers have been combined with Northwestern Europe.
What about estimates from different companies? Well fear not faithful reader, I have tested at more than one place. My first test, way back in 2008, was strictly on the “Y-DNA” (male) line. As I am one of those guys looking from those long lost ancestors (but not mythical kings).
I should stop real quick and give a very brief overview of the 3 main DNA tests.
Y-DNA (yDNA) – This is a male only test. It follows the male sex chromosome from father to father. Remember your high school biology, males have both Y and X chromosomes, and females two X chromosomes.
Autosomal DNA (atDNA) – Everyone can do this test. This test looks at the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. These are passed down from both biological parents to the child, regardless of gender. This is test that Ancestry and My Heritage offer, at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) they call it the “Family Finder” test. 23andMe also now offers this type of test, but remember that 23andMe started out doing DNA for health screening, so their genealogy offerings are still being developed.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – Everyone can do this test as well, and it is highly recommended if your goal is to find your mother’s line. mtDNA is passed on to all children, regardless of gender, by the mother only. So this test will follow your mother, to her mother, to her mother and so on.
So, let’s look at the estimates of my atDNA from two other companies, FTDNA and My Heritage.
Well, that’s certainly more detailed, yet still has larger groups (i.e. “British Isles”) than the latest estimate from Ancestry.
I have to disclose that the My Heritage results are from the same data file as FTDNA. I did not test with MH, just uploaded my raw data from FTDNA. And this shows the difference in the databases that each company has.
FTDNA is an American company, and MH is located in Israel. This is why I have higher percentages of Ashkenazi Jewish, African, and Middle Eastern that doesn’t show up elsewhere.
I readily admit that I am not an expert on DNA (nor anything else for that matter). I try and read about the process and how best to interpret the raw data. But, like most folks, my eyes glaze over and I’m reduced to a puddle of goo after about two chapters. Even with my years of medical training, I get confused with all the terms and diagrams. So, let me give you some resources for both testing and education.
Ancestry – has the biggest database if you also want to do genealogy, also now has health tests.
Family Tree DNA – offers the most separate tests (including several yDNA tests).
My Heritage – best for European genealogy – also now has health tests.
23 and Me – best for health tests – just starting to offer genealogy.
FaceBook – as much as I hate to use FB as a source for anything (other than frustration), there are many DNA and genealogy groups that can help.
DNAeXplained – A great blog with so much data my eyes started to glaze over while typing this!
Roots Tech – while primarily a genealogy site, they have lots of DNA help as well.
Cyndi’s List – Cyndi’s list has been around from decades! She has lists for anything family history related. The link goes to the DNA page, but have a look around, you’ll find something to help your family search.
Obviously, this is not a very comprehensive list. I find new websites and books almost every day. Remember, “Google is your friend”. OK, not really, Google keeps way too much data on everyone, but it is helpful. If you’re a book person, Amazon is very helpful.
As much as I would like to think that I maybe answered a question or two, I know that all this did was give you more questions. And that is the way of genealogy. You find one “answer” only to realize that it creates more questions! Feel free to ask your questions in a comment below. I’ll do my best to answer or at least point you to a good resource.
I will leave you with this tidbit; almost all of the DNA testing companies are running “Thanksgiving/Black Friday” sales now. It’s a good time to buy that test if you’re interested. I can’t give a blanket recommendation as to which company to test with, that will depend on what your goal is. Ask me!
Here at Campbell Castle (West), we like our pets. So, let me introduce you to our “Big Guy”, my “grand-dog”, Baron. Baron has lots of titles; Baron Von CouchPotato, Baron Von LazyBones, and Baron Von ChowHound to name just a few.
Baron is a good dog, not the sharpest crayon in the box, but he doesn’t seem to care. He loves his girls, and is rather protective of them.
We rescued Baron just about a year ago. When we brought him to the first vet visit, he weighed about 75 pounds (32 Kg for you metric folk). Then just 7 months or so later he developed “Idiopathic Head Tremors”. This is a very scary looking event where the dog’s head and neck shakes like it’s having a seizure. It could be an epileptic seizure, but usually isn’t. I was lucky enough to catch one on video and we took him back to the vet.
In my opinion the vet tried to oversell us. She wanted to put Baron on several meds and send him for neurological exams. I didn’t agree with this plan at all. One thing we did find out was that Baron Von ChowHound seemed to be Baron’s usual mode. He was over 100 pounds! 101 to be a bit more precise. Needless to say, a new diet plan was instituted.
After a month of easing his portion size and slowly introducing a low calorie dog food, we had to switch the brand of food. The vet had suggested a prescription weight loss food. Baron didn’t like it much, and was eating way too little. And crying. The boy is very vocal. Not so much barking, but whines and cries like no other dog I have ever heard.
Yesterday we took him for his yearly exam and he has lost 11 pounds. This is only over a 3 month period too! He seems to be doing much better on this new food, but still is always begging for more. But once we get him back closer to the 75 – 80 pound range, then he should be able to get a slightly bigger portion of food.
Baron is a very good looking, though somewhat smaller version of Scooby Doo. He has a lot of personality, and is a big bully. His head is as big as a bowling ball, and he uses it to push his way into everything. We had to buy a garbage can with a locking lid to keep him out of the trash.
As I mentioned at the top, Baron is my “Grand-Dog”. Everything is registered under son-the-younger. He lives here with us and loves to dig up my yard!
And since we have switched him from the Purina food we have not seen any more tremors. We even did the “Doggie DNA” test. We did this mainly since he was a rescue, we had no idea his mix of breeds, and we wanted to be prepared for any possible future medical issues we might encounter. Such as – Idiopathic Head Tremors are very common in bulldogs, and Baron has a high percentage of Bulldog DNA.
We have a fire station less than a mile from the house. Seems the sirens are.. well, you decide.
Now that I’m “retired” I have time to get back into my genealogy. My loyal readers (I do have loyal readers, right?) know the problems I’ve encountered researching my Campbell line. I have spent untold dollars on DNA tests for all three aspects for using DNA with genealogy (as in not for medical reasons). While I have found many cousins on my mother’s side, and on my paternal grandmother’s side, not many Campbell’s. My joke is that my male Campbell cousins won’t do a DNA test for fear of being tied to a cattle raid in the 1500’s! Not true of course, but I find it funny.
So let’s take a look at the typical naming conventions used in Scotland over time.
According to “The Scottish Onomastic Child-naming Pattern,” by John
Barrett Robb, another naming system called the “ancestral pattern,”
generally went as follows:
The first son was named for his father’s father.
The second son was named for his mother’s father.
The third son was named for his father’s father’s father.
The fourth son was named for his mother’s mother’s father.
The fifth son was named for his father’s mother’s father.
The sixth son was named for his mother’s father’s father.
The seventh through tenth sons were named for their father’s four great-grandfathers.
The eleventh through fourteenth sons were named for their mother’s four great-grandfathers.
The first daughter was named for her mother’s mother.
The second daughter was named for her father’s mother.
The third daughter was named for her mother’s father’s mother.
The fourth daughter was named for her father’s father’s mother.
The fifth daughter was named for her mother’s mother’s mother.
The sixth daughter was named for her father’s mother’s mother.
The seventh through tenth daughters were named for their mother’s four great-grandmothers.
The eleventh through fourteenth daughters were named for their father’s four great-grandmothers.
First, we’ll generally ignore the “eleventh though fourteenth” parts. Not only is that way too many children, I don’t have any families on the Campbell side with more than 9 offspring. Still, 12 kids running around the house? No thanks! Of course that does mean more farm hands are available.
A simpler version is like this.
The Scottish, for the most part, had a naming pattern which can be seen in many families. The pattern generally went as follows:
The first son was named after the father’s father.
My one and only male Campbell DNA match is with my my 3rd great grandfather’s generation, James Richard Campbell Jr. My cousin’s line stems from James Jr’s. brother Richard Campbell. I was very lucky finding my cousin as he had paperwork from the area of Pennsylvania that our family lived in the 1790’s or so. With paperwork to back up the DNA match I knew that I had a very reliable match.
But the names I have are not following the pattern I mentioned earlier. Since I had a Junior, it is reasonable to assume that his father would be a Senior. Good to go there?
Let’s follow the naming pattern starting with my grandfather, Herbert. As the first male child, he should have been named for his paternal grandfather. But he wasn’t. I can find no other Herbert’s in earlier generations.
Next we have Herbert’s father (my great grandfather), Samuel. Following tradition, my father should have been named Samuel. He wasn’t (Donald). And Samuel, being the third male child should have been named for his father’s father’s father (his great grandfather). Nope, he was James Sr. Again, the James Sr. is somewhat speculative. I can only assume that I have the “Senior” correct since, I know that his son was a “Junior”.
The pattern isn’t holding here. Is it due to becoming “Americanized” and the traditions have faded or am I missing children of my earliest ancestors that have come to America? James Jr. is actually the fifth son born to James Sr. That would mean he would have been named for his father’s mother’s father. And that information I do not possess.
James Sr. is where I am currently brick walled. I have a lead for his parents, John Campbell, Jr., and Jean Ralston. Here we go with the Junior again! I have this John Jr. born in Scotland and dying in Pennsylvania. If the naming convention holds true that would make him the third son of a John Sr. Alas, according to what I have found he is the eldest son. I will readily admit that the two Johns are best guesses. Even James Sr. is unverified.
To further ignore the naming, my eldest sister should have been named Dora (mother’s mother), my brother Herbert (father’s father), my elder sister Josephine (father’s mother), and me Talmadge (mother’s father). Not a single one. I cannot find any ancestors with our given names at all!
I didn’t know of this pattern when my sons were born. But in a way we followed it. Son-the-eldest is not named the same as my father but they have the same initials (DSC). Son-the-younger is named for his mother’s father, we just switched the first and middle names.
Faithful readers of this blog (both of you) probably have noticed my love-hate relationship with genealogy. But after almost 20 years and way too much money, I think I’m calling it quits.
I am still stuck in Pennsylvania in the early to mid-1800’s. Every lead I get on that ever elusive “immigrant ancestor” just seems to fall away after more digging. Even more importantly, no one in my family has any desire to keep the research going.
But I did have some wonderful finds along the way. The time I found my oldest sister’s baby book in a box in our mother’s shed. It gave me the name (which I later confirmed via census records) of our paternal great grandfather, Samuel W. Campbell. The one and only Campbell DNA match, that gave me the next male Campbell in that line, James Campbell. Do you have any idea just how many James Campbell’s there are in that time and place? It’s maddening!
My favorite find was identifying my father’s first wife, Gertrude Mary (Trudie) Lyman. That was just some good detective work and lots of help from the wonderful folks on the Blair County (Pennsylvania) Genealogical Society.
So, for now, I have suspended my various genealogy and DNA service accounts. I have not removed my data from any of the services (Ancestry, My Heritage, GEDMatch, Family Tree DNA, etc.. etc..), but I am no longer paying for the services. Since my data (DNA and Family Trees) are still fully searchable there is a hope that down the road, someone, somewhere will make that connection that I can’t find. And maybe, just maybe, when I do finally retire, I will head up to Pennsylvania and do some hands-on research. You never know. But for now, I’m tired. And broke.
For anyone that would like to see my various family trees, compare YDna, mtDNA or atDNA, leave a comment and a way to connect with you and I’ll answer. You will also find my various social media links at the bottom of this and every post, as well as in the side bar. Twitter is best contact method after email.
I’ll leave you with End Of The Line by The Traveling Wilburys. And that’s what we want to become, The Traveling Campbells. In fact, the First Annual Campbell Christmas Vacation is in high planning mode as I type this. Well, not as I really type this, everyone else is still asleep. But you get the picture.
We are at T minus 30 days for our long overdue trip to Scotland! I say it’s overdue because we’ve been trying to get there for about five years. Well, it’s finally happening.
That’s all for the travel plans, I’ll have more, hopefully when we’re there. The two issues that will make it difficult will be lack of internet connection and that I’m only bringing my tablet, not my laptop, so I may need Wifey’s help in transcribing stuff. You think my regular typing is bad, wait until you see if from a virtual keyboard!
Genealogy – specifically DNA. (Disclaimer: I am very new to this whole DNA stuff. My conclusions may be way off. Please correct anything in the comments.) I have posted about genealogy and DNA before, but this time I have some specifics.
Most of my testing has been done through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA from here on out). The main reason I used them instead of Ancestry (which I have also used), is that FTDNA does Y – DNA testing. For those that don’t know the difference, Y-DNA is a male only test. The Y (and X) chromosome are sex chromosomes. Men have one Y chromosome and one X chromosome, women have two X chromosomes. Each father passes an almost exact copy of his Y-DNA to his sons.
The other types of DNA testing that are common are Mitochondrial (mtDNA) and Autosomal (atDNA). I won’t go into specifics of each test, but everyone can do these types of tests. Ancestry does atDNA, and FTDNA calls their atDNA “Family Finder”. These kinds of tests look at genetically stored data that give you a greater sense of where your origins are. They can help you find cousins, half siblings (that maybe you didn’t about), and also help adoptees find birth parents. But are accurate to only five to seven generations back. Y-DNA and mtDNA can go back (generally) thousands of years.
But I’m interested in finding where my male line comes from. I have several goals in this endeavor;
Find the “Immigrant Ancestor”. Who, and maybe why, did they leave wherever they called home? And when?
Where did the ancestor come from? Family stories indicated Scotland. According to my dad, specifically Argyll. Of course, Argyll is a large area in the southeast part of Scotland. Not exactly a simple place.
Do we have any connection to older peoples living in whatever area I find?
Can we go beyond that time? Was it even possible since there wouldn’t be any written records.
I did my first Y-DNA test with FTDNA way back in 2008. More than 11 years ago now. The first test gave me a very generic Y-DNA Haplogroup of R-M269. Think of a haplogroup as a branch on a tree.
The R-M269 haplogroup is the most common group in Europe for males. It is estimated to have arisen about 11,000 BCE. And makes up a large part of the R1b main branch of the haplotree. The image below may help.
Starting near the top of the image, you’ll see the M269 subclade, just left of center in the red. Follow that straight down and near the bottom of the red go left to the big P312 in dark green with yellow letters. From there continue left to the light green with yellow letters L21. Now it gets a little harder. From L21, you go down and slightly right to DF13, then a little more right you’ll find Z39589. Almost there, don’t give up, as we zig just a tad right to Z251 and stop there, for now. My line continues down from here, but this tree doesn’t go that far.
About eight branches further down the tree you will, hopefully, find BY69143, just not on that image above. That’s as far as my DNA can be traced at the moment. It’s referred to a “Terminal SNP”. But it’s anything but terminal. In the less than 6 weeks since my last test has been completed, I have moved “downstream” two branches. It’s a constantly changing environment.
So, lets jump back up to my lists of goals. How does this DNA test help me? I was hoping to find a cousin with the Campbell surname that had some more of a paper trail than I have. The biggest problem that I have encountered in this genealogy quest, which I started back in 1999 before DNA tests were commercially available, is the fact that my father was an only child. That means I had no Campbell uncles. I knew his father’s name, but that was about all.
I was lucky that my dad’s mother had many pictures and notes from her late husband. And then just by chance I found my oldest sister’s baby book in a long-forgotten box at our mom’s house. In those pages I found my great-grandfather’s name. That allowed me to find him, and my grandfather and his siblings in census records in the correct area of Pennsylvania. But not the next generation. I had several leads on that generation, but I couldn’t nail it down. Basically, I was looking at two men, a James R. Campbell and a Richard Campbell. Each of those men had different fathers.
Enter DNA. My hope was that one of my grandfather’s siblings’ son’s (my great uncle’s) had done a DNA test, AND that we would match enough to be sure of our findings. That cousin hopefully also had a good paper trail to help me along. Yeah, it was pretty one sided at this point.
However, I do believe that any one named “Campbell” is deathly afraid of taking a DNA test! I had absolutely no matches with a Campbell surname. Nothing, not even a fourth or fifth cousin. I guess they were afraid of being charged with cattle theft or some such thing from medieval Scotland. Only thing left for me to do was to order a more advance test. And wait… Lots of waiting with this DNA stuff.
Out of nowhere I received an email one day. I did have a Campbell cousin that had completed a Y-DNA test. Not from a sibling of my grandfather not even my great-grandfather. But from a sibling of my great-great-grandfather. Just like that the problem of which man was my 2x great-grandfather was solved. James Richard Campbell was my line, and a different Richard Campbell (not the one I was also researching) was this cousin’s line.
This cousin had records too! He had lived in Pennsylvania before retiring here to Florida. He could back everything up with history! Needless to say, I commenced to doing the genealogy happy-dance (you don’t want to see that). Oh, this newly discovered 2x great was a junior. At least that takes some of the guess work out of his father’s name. But my cousin also had his information as well. James Richard Campbell, Sr. was quickly entered as 3x great-grandfather. Now, how to get that next generation?
Another great DNA site is GEDMatch. They don’t offer any DNA testing, you just upload your DNA data to the site. They have so many free and paid tools that will allow you to search their database of uploads for matches. You can do a wide one-to-many search or even compare two kits on a one-to-one basis. GEDMatch takes uploads of DNA data from several different DNA testing companies. You’re still limited by only being able to compare kits from folks that uploaded, and agreed to allow their kits to be searched, you can match folks that have tested at different companies. Ancestry and 23 and Me, do not allow the uploading of DNA to their databases. GEDMatch takes both of those company’s results and several others. By using my DNA, my older brother’s DNA, and this cousin’s DNA, we were able to find another cousin. This time way down in South Africa.
This cousin had the next generation. Once again, the unusual name and the senior/junior come into play. John Campbell. Really? Now there are two John Campbell’s to look for. A father and son. Out of what, maybe 10,000,000 listed in archives strewn all over the internet? Most old records don’t list things such as a senior or junior. Just the names. This new cousin claims to have a passenger list of when this Campbell family came over, but looking at the reference, I’m not positive about this claim. But that’s another job, and another post.
This gave me a partial answer to the first question. I now have two possibilities of the “Immigrant Ancestor”. It was either my newly discovered 3x great, or his father. The “two John’s”. If this is making your head spin, you can imagine how I was feeling. I put all this away for a bit to just look at DNA to see if I could get any answers to my goals.
All these Campbell’s do come from Scotland. The lead we have on John Sr., states he was born in 1745 in Perth, Scotland. Well, that’s not in Argyll on any map, in any time frame. Not a big deal, as the Campbell Clan is quite large, and has several branches. Maybe I am a descendant from one of the cadet branches.
Going back to FTDNA and the Campbell discussion group, I ask if there is a way via DNA to see if one belongs to the right haplogoup that indicates which, if any, Campbell one can trace back to. Sadly, it appears that I do not belong to the Argyll subclade (R-FGC10125), my path branches off right after the Z39589 subclade a couple of thousand years ago. Hey – not a problem. This just means that some ancestor in the way back past either swore an oath of loyalty to the clan chief, was absorbed into the clan (either peacefully or…), or maybe married into the clan and took the name. If I can go back to the mid 1700’s and still find Campbell in my direct line. I’m good with that.
So, if not Argyll, where does my line come from? I do have a DNA marker, S145/M529/L21. This marker, usually just listed as L21, is highly correlated with the geography of ancient Celts. In the words of Bill Murray “I’ve got that going for me.” Just where is the L21 most prevalent? Seems to be in area of Stirling and Falkirk, Scotland. Which is just southwest of Perth! Hey! I may be on to something here. It would appear to my untrained eye that my line stayed in the lowlands area and those with the Argyll marker continued westward across the island. But I’m just guessing here. Could be the other way around for all I know.
All in all, it means my Y-DNA Haplogroup is R1b1a1a2a1a2. At least that’s the last one I can find. I believe that stops at subclade R-P312, and there are 13 further mutations I have listed to get me to the R-BY69143 SNP.
It does appear that I am a Scot, as the top image says. I don’t have to go back 100 generations to find Scots roots. But I can, my DNA points to a Copper or Iron Age Scots ancestry. Wifey too has Scots heritage. Of course, I can’t test her Y-DNA (she doesn’t have any). Her brother has done the Ancestry test, but Ancestry doesn’t give raw data, only their visuals and estimates. Which leaves me unsure of their Y-DNA Haplogroup. Maybe one day I can afford to have him to the Big Y-700 at FTDNA. We’ll probably find out our tribes fought each other all the time!
In a way, this trip to Scotland will be a homecoming.
If you are using any of the DNA resources I’ve mentioned and wish to contact me about those sites, please use the links below to contact me on social media (Twitter works best), or leave a comment. I would be very happy to see if there is anything we can do to help each other!
If you’ve been following along with my genealogy posts ( here’s one, and another), you know that I’m not having the best of luck running down my Campbell name. So this week I took a break from looking for that elusive “immigrant ancestor” and tried my hand at a different brick wall.
My dad had a first wife. All I ever heard about her was the name “Trudie”. No last name, not even if Trudie was a nickname or not, but I have always gone on the notion that her name was Gertrude. But since I am the baby of my family, my older siblings had a little more knowledge than I. I did some searching via Ancestry, Fold3, Archives, and Newspapers. All of those sites have different aspects that making internet search a bit easier.
I do remember finding a newspaper clipping of my father when he worked for Fairchild Airmotive during WWII era. The article was just a profile of him and his job, but it closed with a tantalizing clue. As best I can recall it said: “he and his wife live in Graham.” I asked my mom if she had ever lived in a town called Graham and she said no. I’m not positive, but I believe Graham is near Burlington, NC. I did find two clippings from The Daily Times which was Burlington’s newspaper of the era, that mention a Don and Gertrude Campbell. Both of these clippings are from the 1943/1944 years, which is exactly the correct time frame for dad to be there.
I also found a Donald and Gertrude Campbell in the 1940 census living in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Now dad is a native of Pennsylvania, and my oldest sister was born in Altoona, so this was a promising find. On the 1940 census, one of the questions asked was where the person lived in 1935. Both Don and Gertrude answered “same place”. So I looked up city directories for Altoona in 1935. For those that have never heard of a “city
directory” basically it’s the forerunner of a telephone book. I could not find Don listed in the 1935 directory, but I do find him, with his mother, in the 1930 census in Antis
Township, Pennsylvania, which is in the same county as Altoona. I do find Don in the 1936 census in Tipton (maybe a suburb of Altoona?). I’m positive this is the correct Don as it has him listed as working in his mother’s restaurant.
Then I found a WWII draft card for Don. I know dad was “4-F” (medically unfit for service), so I was interested in this record. Ancestry only gave his name and a few other tidbits of information. Just enough that I could say it was his record, but nothing more. The Fold3 site has lots and lots of military records. There I could see the entire card. And it was golden. It gives the same address as the 1940 census! So that was the correct couple. Sadly, they used the standard naming conventions of the times. For the emergency contact person, all it has is Mrs Don S. Campbell. Arrgghhh!!! Why didn’t they use their own names? I see so many old records like this. It is so frustrating.
Check out all the addresses crossed out. I’m not sure how to interpret that.
Family history says that Trudie died early in the marriage, for unknown to us reasons, and that dad married our mom very quickly after her passing. By pure luck, I came across an obituary from the Altoona Mirror, dated 10 July 1945 for a Gertrude Campbell, with a spouse Donald Campbell. But it’s for Gertrude’s death in Washington D.C. Wait, what?? In DC? But then I remembered that mom and dad did meet in DC. And the death date is only seven months prior to mom and dad getting married. Which fits the family stories perfectly.
From the 10 July 1945 Altoona Mirror
One stumbling block I still have is I cannot find any marriage records for Don and Gertrude, nor a death certificate for Gertrude. Since her death was in 1945, she should be listed in the Social Security Death Index as the event occurred about ten years after Social Security was started. But she may not have had a social security number. I have no idea as to how long it took for social numbers to become “standard”.
So, yes, genealogy still sucks. But I have, finally, partially knocked down one brick wall. I wonder which will be next!
So just over a month ago, I posted that “Genealogy Sucks“. Well, it still does but quite as bad. I mentioned that I have not been able to find any DNA matches on my Campbell side (the only line I’m actively researching right now).
Since then I have finally found a match. Despite the fact that Ancestry doesn’t list us as a match, another site that only does DNA, GedMatch does. We are only matched on one small segment. I’m not yet entirely sure what that means, other than we are at best distant cousins, but it’s a match! I still have much to learn about DNA testing.
With the help of this family, I was able to correct an error on my great-great-grandfather, and add his parents to my tree. But here’s the rub. Way back in 2011 I found what I thought was my great-great-grandfather, but things just didn’t come together. I had issues with some of the data I was finding, so I always listed this connection as tentative.
Now that I have the correct information, and a generation farther back the same family as I had in 2011 keeps showing up in all my research. If, and it’s still a BIG if, this line holds true, then the gentleman I had as my great-great-grandfather will turn out to be my great-great-grandfather’s uncle! Now I see why my data didn’t mesh. I was off by a whole generation.
I still haven’t found my immigrant ancestor. I’m still “stuck” in Pennsylvania, but at least it’s now the 1700’s and not the 1800’s.
If I can connect the dots and link great-great-great-grandfather, James R. Campbell, Sr. to the line I’ve been following for all these years, I will at least have that elusive immigrant ancestor. He will be from Ireland (maybe North Ireland depends on which brother I can link to), and not Scotland. But that’s okay. The years I have for this line, roughly 1740 – 1750, coincide with the second Jacobite uprising in Scotland. Many families left Scotland for Ireland and other places to avoid the turmoil. The Jacobite uprising of 1745 (Wiki page here), was when good ol’ Bonnie Prince Charlie made his failed attempt to overthrow the British crown and return Scotland to its own sovereign nation. Of course, it ended with the disastrous, for the Scots, Battle of Culloden. Rumor has it that the Bonnie Prince used a secret drink recipe as barter for a safe haven while on the Isle of Skye. We know that drink today as Drambuie.
After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart fled to the isle of Skye. There, he was given sanctuary by Captain John MacKinnon of Clan MacKinnon. According to family legend, after staying with the captain, the prince rewarded him with this prized drink recipe. This version of events is disputed by historians who believe it to be a story concocted to boost sales of the drink.
I’m very interested in finding out if any my Campbell line (and Campbell is the second largest clan in Scotland so it will take some time to find out exactly which family) was involved in the Battle of Culloden, and if so which side.
I have accounts on most of the genealogy sites available, both free and paid. I also have my DNA spread all over the web. Let me know what sites and tools you use for genealogy. I’d love to see if we can match up somewhere in the not so distant past!
And believe me, that is a true statement. I have been chasing my Campbell line (and other family lines – but mostly Campbell) since the late 90’s. I have had and canceled, renewed and canceled again my Ancestry account ad nauseum. I’ve had accounts at least three email addresses ago.
In the beginning, finding family members from long ago wasn’t all that hard. My paternal grandmother (Nanny – I’ve written about her before), told me many stories of my dad’s early time and his father. His father, my paternal grandfather died in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919. Although my siblings tell me that they believe Nanny had some men friends, she never remarried leaving my father as an only child. Because of this, finding cousins and other distant relatives isn’t easy.
I remember one day at my mom’s house in South Carolina (she moved back near where she grew up after dad died) and Wifey® and I going through boxes of old stuff in her garage. Everybody said we wouldn’t find anything but what did they know! We found sister-the-eldest’s baby book with birth records. So sweating our asses off and drinking cheap ass beer (this was before the wonderful Craft Beer revolution), paid off greatly. I found my paternal great-grandfather’s name along with his wife! So let’s renew that Ancestry account and go searching the census records.
While it still took about ten more years to add another generation, I kept going. I finally found my great-great-grandfather and his family along with all my great-grandfather’s siblings.
In those ten years or so, I managed to fill out a lot of the missing data on my family. Birth, marriage, and death dates were located and added to my family tree.
But I still have two stumbling blocks. One, my father had a marriage prior to marrying my mother. He has always told us that “Trudie” had died within the first year of their being married. I have pictures of her (quite the beauty too). But that is all he would tell us. No dates, places, or even her real name. So that is a minor hurdle.
Donald & Trudie Campbell
And mom was no slouch in the look department either..
The second hurdle is finding the next generation. What I have so far;
My father – Donald Sherwood Campbell 1912 – 1985
My grandfather – Herbert J. Campbell 1884 – 1919 (No idea what the “J” is for but guessing James as that name is all over the place)
His father – Samuel W. Campbell 1861 – 1924 (This was the one I found in the baby book)
His father – James Harris Campbell 1825 – 1902
There the train falls off the tracks. I do have a lead on his father, a possible James Richard Campbell. The problem in the 1880 US census James Harris lists his father’s birthplace as Pennsylvania (my paternal line is very heavy in Centre County, PA), but in the same census, James Richard lists his birthplace as Maryland. No this is not a show stopper. From what I’ve read, back then the census was done by hand. After all, they didn’t have all the technology we have today to screw everything up. Instead, they screwed it up by hand, you know, the old-fashioned way!
It would not be unheard of for the census taker to ask questions about neighbors instead of the individual in question. If the person that the census taker need information from was not at home, or maybe the next home was far away (this was rather rural country then), or just plain lazy, they would ask neighbors. And many times the neighbors guessed at the answers, or the worker just made it up. Let’s face, it still happens today.
Enter the DNA tests. I have done DNA at both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. They both are quite similar in results. The problem lies in that I cannot find any close matches from the Campbell side. Nanny’s side, Bodle, is all over the place. I have more cousins on that line that I could list! But, Campbell’s? Not so much.
Then about five minutes after tweeting the tweet above, I found a new line! It had all the correct sibling names and dates, but a different set of parents for James Harris. Naturally, this peaked my interest. A whole different set of parents could very well fix my birthplace problem. So I jumped right in with both feet.
One of the main goals I have right now is to find the “immigrant ancestor”. The first person to come over the Atlantic from somewhere in Europe, most likely either Ireland or Scotland. This family tree had exactly that and so much more!
As I went generation by generation back I became more and more suspicious. The names that were appearing were the BIG names in Campbell history. This tree placed me directly in the same tree as the Duke of Argyll (the current Chief of Clan Campbell, The 28th Mac Cailein Mòr, the thirty-fifth Chief of Clan Campbell, His Grace, the 13th Duke of Argyll (S), and the 6th Duke of Argyll (UK) Torquhil Ian Campbell. See here for more information on His Grace.
This “tree” listed the 1st Mac Cailein Mòr, Sir Colin Campbell or “Colin The Great” (wiki here). But (and there’s always a “but” and this one is big) it didn’t stop there. Many generations after Mac Cailein Mòr was (wait for it…) the one, the only, King Arthur. Yes, that King Arthur. With a birth date and place none the less! I just about punched my laptop screen when I read that. I mean come on. There is no proof of a real Arthur, King or not. There is no consensus of a date, place or even a name for this legend. A great resource for King Arthur can be found at The Great Courses, King Arthur: History And Legend. This 24 lecture series is presented by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D. I highly recommend it.
And, of course, the “tree” continued another five generations or so. I was so pissed, so frustrated. Who would post a tree to a reputable genealogy site, with “myth and legends”.
Two hours wasted…
So now I’m stuck back in 1825 Pennsylvania. No Campbell DNA matches, no hints other than one with questionable parentage.
If you have any hints on other research areas for Pennsylvania genealogy, and onwards to Scotland, please, PLEASE let me know. I did contact a professional genealogist but was basically told: “go find someone else”.
And yes, I renewed my Ancestry membership (but only for a month). With any luck, this link will take to Ancestry to view my current tree.