First, my first cousin Rusty surprised me by ordering an autosomal DNA test. I saw his results and it was the first, first cousin autosomal match that I’ve had. Next, Rusty decided to order a YDNA test of 37 STRs. His results surprised us both a bit. He found out that he had no matches to the last name he grew up with. Instead, his matches were predominantly variations of the MacFarlane surname. Since the test results came in, Rusty tells me his grandfather was adopted which could account for the surprise.
In this Blog, we’ll look at Rusty’s YDNA results and some of his genealogy.
YDNA – The Male Lineage Indicator
YDNA is good for surname studies. It follows the DNA that the father passes down to the son. This passing down has been going on since genetic Adam. Little changes in this YDNA account for the various YDNA branches that are in the world today. In addition, there are other branches that have just died out.
R1b – The Common YDNA for europe
Rusty and I share an R1b heritage. We are both on a branch of the R1B tree called L21. I was glad when I was first testing my YDNA to find out that I was part of the L21 group. This represents a group of people that aren’t identical to, but are associated with what has commonly been called the Celts. These would be the older people of the British Isles prior to invasions by the Danes, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. The dark red indicates the older L21 people being moved over to the Northeast by the later invaders.
This map shows the highest concentration of R-L21 in the NW of Europe. The map shows the association with the Celtic cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Normandy.
The R-L21 Tree
Here is an outdated R-L21 Tree
The main reason that the tree is outdated is that the tree grew so much, there was not room to put all the branches on it. There are two main branches under L21. I believe that Rusty is on the smaller branch of DF63 at the top right of the image above. I am on the larger DF13 Branch. Below that I am in the L513 Branch with a rectangle around it.
Why do I think that Rusty is DF63? Let’s take a look. Rusty recently upgraded his 37 STR test to a 67 STR test. The STRs are markers that can change in two different directions. These STRs are used to estimate how close someone else may be related. They are also used to estimate SNPs. DF63 is an SNP. This is a more marker that is more stable than an STR that indicates a specific branch of mankind.
Here are Rusty’s two closest STR matches.
Both these matches are a Genetic Distance (GD) of 3 from Rusty. That means that out of the 67 STRs compared, there is a difference of three for both of these men to Rusty. Both these men have McFarland ancestors. Note that the first one had an ancestor that was born in Northern Ireland and died in PA. Rusty is from PA, but his grandfather was from Ireland. This means that this particular person could not be Rusty’s ancestor, unless he left children in Ireland.
Here is the TIP report for these two as they compare to Rusty. This report shows the probability of how long ago Rusty and Rusty’s match had a common ancestor:
This is showing that it should be pretty likely that either or both of these matches should predict a common ancestor in the last 8 generations. When I check 8 generations in my tree, that brings me to about 1680. So that is in the range of the first ancestor shown in the list above.
This is interesting, but I still haven’t shown how Rusty could be DF63. Let’s look at Rusty’s top two matches again. On the right are their Terminal SNPs. The first Terminal SNP is R-CTS6919. The second is BY674. These are both under (or children of) DF63 as shown by the FTDNA Haplotree:
So it stands to reason if Rusty matches two people who have SNPs that are below DF63, then he would surely be DF63.
BY674 – Mostly McFarlanes
A lot of McFarlane descendants have taken the BigY test. This is a test that discovers new SNPs and helps to build new branches of the SNP tree (or Haplotree as FTDNA calls it). Those that have taken the BigY test, have been put into something called the Big Tree, created by Alex Williamson. Here are the McFarlanes in that Big Tree:
Note that there is a McFarlane or similar name in every branch of BY674. The one exception is the McAfee/Givens branch. Based on this, I could argue that Rusty is not only DF63, but also BY674. Rusty plans to take the DF63 panel. With that test, he should be able to tell which branch of McFarlanes he is in. Here is what the DF63 Panel looks like:
So if Rusty takes the SNP pack, it should tell him that he is positive for DF63, CTS6919, A92, Z16506, and BY674. From there, Rusty could be in 7 different branches. One of those branches could be that he would remain in BY674 with McFarland and McKinnon. If he is in one of the other 6 branches, there may or may not be branching below that.
The MacFarlane family ydna project
Rusty also joined the MacFarlene Family YDNA Project. He was placed in this group:
I think that the Cadet Lineage refers to the idea that the MacFarlane Clan may be an offshoot of the House of Lennox. That sounds like a big deal.
So that covers Rusty’s YDNA pretty well. He is related to McFarlanes by STRs and SNPs. Next, I’ll look at Rusty’s genealogy and see how he is now apparently a Scotsman where before he thought he was an Irishman.
Rusty’s Paternal Genealogy
Rusty is related to me on his mother’s side. I’ll be looking at his dad’s side. And specifically, I’ll be looking at his dad’s dad’s side. We are interested in how the Breen turned into a McFarlane going from now to then. Or how the McFarlane went to a Breen. So far the tree looks like this:
However, I won’t be following the McCullough line. Rusty says that his dad told him that his father was orphaned young and joined the British Army at age 14. Rusty further got in touch with his cousin and found this out:
She thinks it is probably due to my grandfather being adopted. I knew this, but always assumed he was older and retained he biological fathers name. Actually I knew he was orphaned. Margie says he was brought up by a Other than Catholic minister, but that there was some sort of agreement that he was to be raised Catholic. Maybe he never knew his biological fathers name.
What an interesting story. It looks like Rusty’s grandfather may have been brought up by a non-Catholic Minister that raised him as a Catholic. How did that work out? What was the minister’s name?
Barriers of distance and time
Distance and time tend to erode family stories. Traveling from Ireland to the United states as well as the loss of parents results in the loss of a lot of family history. Where did John Alexander Breen come from?
John left some paperwork behind when he came to the U.S.
In this document, John said in 1917 that he was 29 and wanted to become a citizen. It shows he was 1/2 inch short of six foot tall. His residence in Ireland was what looks like Omagh, County Tyrone. At the time of the application, he was a steel worker in Philadelphia. He came into the port of New York on the Ship California in what looks to be September 29th, 1910. This document from Ellis Island on the Declaration appears to correct his arrival time:
According to his 1923 Petition, he was born in County Armagh:
Here’s a simple map of Northern Ireland:
From the Naturalization records, it appears that John Alexander Breen was born in County Armagh and later lived in Omagh in County Tyrone before coming to live in Philadelphia. However, based on the research that follows, perhaps Count Armagh got mixed up with Omagh. I’m not seeing other evidence of County Armagh.
Sailing on the s.s. california
I have the an image of the ship records when John sailed to the US from Londonderry. Here is some information from the top of the ship record:
I included last address and nearest relative for John Breen on the bottom. Then I included three other people near him as they had an Omagh/Philadelphia connection. Here are the names, in case there is any connections:
Of course, this raises a few questions. Who is Susan Breen if John was orphaned and adopted? Was that her maiden name? Was that her married name, and if so might she have been married before? From what I can tell, Susan was living in Deverney:
According to Townlands.ie, Deverney is a part of the Townland of Recarson.
The second page of the shipping record says that John was also born in Deverney. Also that he planned to stay with a friend, rather than a relative in Philadelphia:
Here ‘s the shipping record from the UK side showing that folks kept the same order. Now John is a mechanic.
1911 British census
One year before John sailed to New York, he was indeed in the military. He was a private with the 1st Battalion Royal Innishkilling Fusiliers.
I highlighted his birthplace. It would be nice to know where this is. I am not getting Deverney out of it. Apparently, this is Drumragh, which is both a Civil Parish and Townland near Omagh. Here is where townlands.ie shows the Townland to be:
This looks to be fairly close to Deverney.
Other Irish census results?
I am having trouble finding John Breen in the 1901 Census. I am also having trouble finding Jane Breen. So I will look at the women that were traveling with John on the Ship to New York.
The first I’ll look at is Mary McGinn. I see her in 1911:
Her story holds together as she is a seamstress. She was likely closer to 29 than 25 when she sailed to Philadelphia. Let’s say that John was watching over these women on the way to Philadelphia. After all, he appears to have been a world travels already from his British Army experience.
Here’s Tattyreagh where Mary McGinn lived:
Next is Mary McGaughey:
Here is the seamstress connection. She is shown in 1911 in Aughtermoy (Ballyneaner, Tyrone). On the ship, she gives her cousin Charles McGinn as the closest relative for some reason. I’m not positive I have the right person above as on her ship record, she says her last address was Philadelphia. Also this family was Presbyterian.
John in the 1st Battalion Royal Innishkilling Fusiliers
Rusty mentioned his grandfather’s military service. From the census, I found John in Hong Kong in 1911 with the 1st Battalion Royal Innishkilling Fusiliers. After some searching I found an enlistment record dated June 29, 1908 for a John O’Brien:
This could explain why it was so difficult to find John Breen in the 1901 Census. Now, when I look up the Breen surname online, I learn that the name comes from O’Brien if I understand it correctly. This military record is interesting as we found out in the 1911 Census that John was with the Fusiliers. The age of this person is very close to the John we are looking at. 20 years and 4 months from this time would put us at February or March of 1888 and John was born March 1888.
Are John Alexander Breen and John O’Brien the same Person?
The enlistment paper above shows that O’Brien was born near Drumquin, Parish Longfield, County Tyrone. If nothing else, I’m learning a bit about Northern Ireland geography.
The 1901 Census shows a John O’Brien as a servant in Doogary:
Here is townlands.ie rendition of Doogary near Omagh.
Under the scenario, John O’Brien would have been orphaned and became a servant. Probably soon after 1901, he joined the army. Note that when O’Brien signed in 1908, he was already part of the armed services.
O’Brien’s re-enlistment showed that he was already part of the Innishkilling Fusiliers. I am guessing that at some point in the Fusiliers, O’Brien changed his name to Breen.
More military papers for O’Brien
Under O’Brien’s 1908 enlistment papers, I found other military records. This is O’Brien’s initial enlistment from [February?] 1905:
Assuming O’Brien and Breen were the same, the age would be very close, as he would have been 17 within a month. Interesting that in 1905 they asked about O’Brien’s present (or former) Master. This appears to be M. McNulty in or near Dromore.I’m a little curious as to the term Master. I assume that this means that under a certain age, you were under the control of a Master, be it your father or someone else.
Dromore is shown on the previous Drumquin map:
On O’Brien’s Military History Sheet, I find this:
So if Breen and O’Brien are the same, then I have to work out why the mother was Susan Breen for one and Annie O’Brien for the other.
Going with my Breen/O’Brien theory, it would make sense to look for Annie O’Brien in the Census. The oldest Annie O’Brien I found in the 1911 census in County Tyrone is here:
She is listed as 37 which would make her 14 in 1888. However, ages are quite unreliable in the Census. She could have been much older in 1888. I find it odd that a single woman would be the head of household, by herself and a dairymaid. Here is the Townland of Ballyard where she is shown as living:
Let’s try 1901. Now there are a lot of people listed with Annie. She is in the same Townland of Ballyard, though perhaps not the same house.
Look at all the company she has now. Annie’s age is consistent with the 1911 census as she is now 27. Following out on my house of cards theory. What if this was the family that raised John Breen/O’Brien? Annie is the only Catholic in the house.
Summing It Up
I could tell a story about what I’ve found so far. I’m not sure it’s right yet, but it’s a start.
Annie O’Brien was born in County Cork and made her way as a teenager to County Tyrone. While there [probably Deverney], she had a child John Alexander O’Brien. She was apparently a single mother and was taken in by a protestant family. Perhaps this is the same family of Funstons in Ballyard where she was a dairymaid in 1901. Perhaps the father was a McFarlane. John went to work as a farm servant in Doogary. John enlisted twice in the Royal Ennishkilling Fusiliers where he apparently traveled to Hong Kong as he was there in 1911. In 1912, he sailed from Londonderry, Ireland to New York. From there he made his way to a friend’s house. The rest, is history.
However, there is a little more. There always seem to be with genealogy. Fast forward 8 years to when John Alexander Breen is married with two children. Here they are on 1208 Eleventh Street, Philadelphia:
I notice a boarder named Felix McAnulty. This reminds me of John O’Brien’s Master M. McNulty when John first enlisted in 1905. Also next door is John Cassidy. Remember, John was going to stay with an Eliza Cassidy in Philadelphia when he sailed from Londonderry to New York.
I wasn’t able to find Felix in the Irish 1901 Census, but I did find a Falix:
Actually, it seems like I’ve covered almost everywhere around Omagh. So that seems to be it for now. If my story is right, Rusty is still a Breen, or rather an O’Brien through Annie. And he is a MacFarlane.
Late Breaking News
I just checked the 1911 Census again. This time, I see that there is a John Breen listed there in Recarson. This is quite confusing but may be good news.
This will certainly change the story. It is not now clear if the John O’Brien in the military is the same one as the one in the Hong Kong Census or the one here (or neither). The interesting thing about the document above is that this is for Recarson. Recall that Deverney where John was from is part of Recarson. My understanding is that the Census was to be taken at the same day for everyone, so unless there was some mistake, John Breen could not have been in Recarson and Hong Kong at the same time.
My, this is embarrassing. Now I have two competing stories for Rusty. Let’s say that this should be more accurate. The best part about the census above is that there is a grandmother. That means three generations are represented as well as other relationships. That is always good. I’ll leave it to the reader to adjust the story based on the Census above. I’ll continue this story in a subsequent Blog.