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!
So just what does a DNA test tell you about your heritage? You may have seen the Ancestry DNA commercial that’s been all over (at least my) TV lately. I tried to find it on YouTube, but couldn’t. It shows a young woman who has discovered a long-lost relative using their DNA testing service. It even goes so far as to imply that she not only found this ancestors name but that he had blue eyes as she does. All from a DNA test? Not likely. What it doesn’t tell you is that you need a lot of hard genealogy work to find these kinds of things out.
I have had my DNA tested by both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. Surprisingly, the results were very similar. Both give my heritage as very “Scottish”. As a member of the Campbell group on Family Tree DNA, I have found that my DNA just might POSSIBLY point to a Pictish lineage. For those that don’t know who the Picts were, they are considered one the earliest inhabitants of Scotland. They are basically made up of the Celts that came across from what we would call Germany today, Vikings that come from the northern Scandinavian countries, and the people who came across from what we call Ireland and then north up to Scotland. This shows just how impossible it is to be of “pure stock”.
As you can see, my results from Ancestry DNA show a varied makeup.
The image above somewhat supports the findings from Family Tree DNA. My main groups do point to the historical makeup of the ancient Picts. But, since the Picts did not leave any written records of us to study, we can’t be completely sure.
But what does it prove? In all honesty, it doesn’t “prove” a damn thing. Without some genealogy work, it will never tell you much. I have done a bit of work at Ancestry chasing down my family tree. I have managed to solidly confirm the Campbell line back to the 1860’s or so. I just may have a lead going back to the 1780’s or so, but have not been able to confirm it. Ancestry does have very fine resources such as US and UK census records. How much access you get depends on how much you’re willing to pay.
Unfortunately, all the matches I’ve found through DNA testing have not been on the Campbell side. I did have one gentleman who matched my DNA (up to 37 markers) exactly. But he will not answer my emails to see how we are related.
I would like to call your attention to this page; “Two Lies And The Truth About DNA Testing”. The big take-away for me from this blog post was;
I want to stress that DNA Testing is of little value to anyone except yourself if you don’t do the genealogy research to back it up and share it. A common complaint among testers is that the test result is wrong. That’s probably a misunderstanding. Genetic testing is pretty reliable. What isn’t so well-known is that people traveled, sometimes quite a lot, even back to ancient times. Our genes have been mixing through migrations, marriages, immigrations, wars, and conquests for as long as we have been here. If you believe it to be wrong, prove it. But don’t forget to study up on world history first.
Shakespeare’s kid probably had 50 percent of his DNA; his kid in turn, on average, a quarter, and so on. Within 10 generations, Shakespeare’s DNA has spread out and recombined so many times that it doesn’t even really make sense to speak of a match. Putting the same point the other way, each of us has so many ancestors that we have no choice but to share them with each other… The truth is, you have your history and your genes have theirs.
So basically, trying to say some famous person is related to you without doing the genealogy work, and only relying on a simple DNA test, is impossible.
I’m not telling you NOT to do DNA testing. I just want you to know that the test alone will not answer most of your questions. Wifey’s® results from Ancestry gave her what she wanted. She wasn’t looking for a long-lost relative. She only wanted to see the “mix” of her heritage. But no, I will not post her results. That would be TMI. Hell, I don’t even use her name on this blog, why would I give you her DNA makeup???
One more consideration. What happens to your DNA test results? Family Tree DNA does not share your results without your consent. Can’t say the same for most of the others.
In the end, ask yourself why you want to do the test. Is it for health reasons? Trying to fill out, or start, your family tree? Just curious (as was Wifey®)? For whatever reason, read the fine print before you do the test.
And remember, your results may very well vary between companies. Take your results with a grain (or maybe a shaker) of salt.