Uncle Naffy, DNA, and the Butler Brick Wall

This blog will be a departure from my usual Frazer DNA Blogs. This is about my father in law’s Butler line. I plan to add some genealogy also. I have been working on the Butler line since about 18 B.D. That is 18 years before I got involved with DNA. This line has been a mystery. As far as we know, the first Butler of the family to come to the US was Edward Butler.

What Did I Know About Edward Butler?

edwardh

Here is a photo, believed to be Edward himself. I’m not familiar with the type of clothes he is wearing or when this may have been taken. My wife’s Aunt had done some research on the Butlers, so that was helpful. This research was done back in the day before computers. According to a Death Certificate Aunt Lorraine had from 1986, Edward Butler died 1915 and was aged 80. His parents were Michael Butler and Margaret Croke. They were all said to have been born in Kilkenny, Ireland. His wife was Mary E. Crowley. She died in 1905 at age 51. She was born in St. John, New Brunswick. Her father was Florence Crowley and her mom was Ellen Donavan. I had never heard of Florence as a man’s name before. Based on the death certificates, Edward would’ve been born about 1835 and Mary about 1854.

The Chicago Connection

This family had at least 2 sons: George and Edward Henry Butler. Both of these sons moved to Massachusetts with the parents and were said to have been born in Chicago. However, I could not find any record of the family in Chicago. Perhaps some will show up eventually.

A Possible Cincinnati Connection?

I had found some census information for families that looked similar to the family I was looking for, but something was always a bit off. The best census I could find was in Cincinnati. Here is the 1860 Census for the 17 Ward of Cincinnati taken on June 6th.

Cincinnati 1860

Here we have a young Butler family. The husband and wife were 25 and 23. The family’s net worth appeared to be $20 and the father was a laborer who couldn’t read or write. What I especially liked was the the father was born in Ireland and the wife was born in New Brunswick. New Brunswick was pretty specific. The enumerator could’ve written Canada but didn’t. I knew from Mary Butler’s death certificate that she was from St. John, New Brunswick. However, there were many problems. I had never heard of the family living in Cincinnati. I had never heard of the family having daughters. From this census Mary would’ve been born around 1837. Based on her death certificate, she should’ve been born around 1854. So I considered what I had found, but kept other options open.

Here is the same family in 1870 in the 3rd Ward of Cincinnati (taken from the FamilySearch website).

Cincinnati 1870

Now Mary and Julia are said to be born in Mass. Ellen is not in the house. Edward is said to be a citizen.

The Mellie Connection

After his wife, Mary (Crowley) Butler, died in 1905, Edward went to live with the Mellies on Clinton Street in Newton. Here is the 1910 Census.

1910 Census Mellie

Mary was actually Mary Butler. Her parents were James Butler and Mary and she was born in County Kilkenny. She married William Mellie in 1898 in West Newton. That could mean that James Butler was Edward Butler’s brother and seems to confirm the Kilkenny connection for the Butlers. Although this gave me more Butler family and a possible reason the family moved from Chicago to Boston, it didn’t answer many other questions. I was determined to find out more about Edward Butler, but it seemed like he was just as determined to keep his family history hidden.

The Crowley Family

At this point, I gave up on the Butlers and decided to focus on the Crowley family. They had been in North America apparently longer than the Butler family. Very often the female side keeps the family connections and history more than the male side.  Turns out the male name of Florence was not as unusual as I had originally thought. Also I found out that many of the Crowleys from Mary’s generation made their way to Boston. As I read about their lives, it is as if I was  seeing their lives in fast motion. This is because often I find their births, marriages and deaths in a short period of time. Sometimes I see their young children dieing. I see their lives in the Census in 10 year snapshots. I picture where they may have lived in Boston. Sometimes family invited other families to live with them in crowded conditions. One Crowley family member spent quite a bit of time at the Danvers hospital and apparently suffered from mental illness. I’m sure this put a strain on the family.

The DNA Phase

Late in 2014, I sent a Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) kit down to Florida for my father in law to take. This particular test is called the Family Finder. It actually tests your chromosomes and shows resulting matches to other people. The catch is that you don’t know how you are related to these other people. It could be on any branch of your ancestors and then any branch coming down in any direction. Many of those directions you may not even know about. Some of my father in law’s cousins had tested already which I was to find out. These were on his mother’s French Canadian side and not the father’s Butler side. If you are related to one French Canadian, you are related to many. So many of these matches crowded out the Butler matches which seemed few and far between.

I uploaded my father in law’s results to gedmatch.com. This is a place where you can find other matches from other testing companies. I took the results and put them in a spreadsheet. I grouped these by segments of the 22 Chromosomes. Further I grouped these matching segments into Triangulation Groups. These are groups where matches match each other. When this happens there is most likely a common set of ancestors in the group. Then I had to update the results when new matches came in.

Uncle Naffy

On April 14, 2015, I emailed “unclenaffy” (his email name). I noticed a few days previously he had a large match to Richard, my father in law at FTDNA. I included Richard’s ancestry chart. Uncle Naffy got back to me right away, “I dont have a family tree yet but i can tell you that Crowleys are related to me. I am living in Saint John where they had lived and still do live. My Aunt Mary Lou Reid knows the family connections so ill tell you later more.…” Well this had me interested. Then on April 16 Uncle Naffy wrote, “I have more news for you. I have chatted with my aunt mary lou reid and she has info on how i might be related to Butler. My GGgrandmother was a Butler from Cincinnati in 1870s and moved to New Brunswick to live with family” This was even more interesting as I never recalled mentioning Cincinnati to Uncle Naffy. Uncle Naffy further told me that his grandmother’s father was Thomas Joseph Murphy. He married a Mary A Butler. She was the one that moved from Cincinnati to live with family. Uncle Naffy filled me in further, “Rumour has it that when they were due to marry at a church in saint john, well it was during the Great Saint John fire of 1877 and the church burnt down .” I was able to find that marriage in the French Canadian Druin records. I wrote back:

Murphy Butler Marriage St. John

So that was enough to break down one of the Butler brick walls. Uncle Naffy had mentioned St. John, Cincinnati, Crowley and Butler. I also had the name of a Church in St. John where at least some Irish married. I no longer felt like I was searching for a needle in a haystack. Now it was more like looking for a pitchfork.

Finally this Summer, I made it up to the New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Library in Boston to look up marriages. There, I went winding through microfilm. Fortunately, there was an index on the film. Once I figured it out, I found an entry for Butler/Crowley. That was encouraging. Then I found the entry which, although it was legible as to quality, contained some of the worst 19th century handwriting I had ever seen. I took a photo of it on my phone. Here it is.

butler crowley marriage st john

It’s a good thing there was an index. In case you can’t decipher it, I gather that Edward Butler and Mary Crowley were both from St. John and got married May 1, 1855. It appears that someone named Quinn performed the ceremony. Edward Butler gave his mark – remember he couldn’t read or write. There were 2 witnesses: a Walter (someone) and Elizabeth Scott.

So DNA pushed our written record knowledge back 50 years from when Mary Crowley Butler died in 1905. She was considerably older than her stated 51 years when she died. This had thrown me off considerably also.

What I’ve Learned

  • Don’t trust death records. I knew this before but had to relearn it.
  • St. John had a large Irish immigrant population. I didn’t know this before.
  • The Butler/Crowley wedding did in fact take place in St. John. It is likely that Edward Butler came to shore here or nearby.
  • The Butler family was quite mobile moving from St. John, to Cincinnati. Then apparently to the Chicago area and finally to the Boston area.
  • DNA does not solve the problems directly but gives good clues and confidence for areas to look. This is especially true if DNA matches help out a bit and give family information. (Thanks Uncle Naffy.)

The X Factor – Part 2

In the last Blog, I marveled at the amount of X chromosome my sister Sharon shared with karen. Part of my amazement was that I have not had one X Chromosome match at FTDNA out of over 1,000 matches until recently. One of the reasons for that is that FTDNA doesn’t report your X matches unless you also have an autosomal match. At any rate, women tend to have more of these X Chromosome matches with other people. One obvious reason is that they have twice as many X Chromosomes to start with.

Karen has uploaded her FTDNA results to Gedmatch. Here are my sister’s top matches on the X Chromosome.

Top X Matches for Sharon

To put into perspective the size of Sharon and karen’s match, the entire X Chromosome has a size of 196 cM. 56.2 cM appears to be over 25% of that amount. This is the X Inheritance Chart for my father. My sister got one of her X Chromosomes from him and I suspect this is the source of karen and Sharon’s match. Also note that Sharon shares more of the X Chromosome with karen than she shares with her brother (me). Karen also shares more of her X with Sharon than her own brother. And as we’ll see below, this large X Chromosome segment has stayed intact and traveled down through 2 different families from at least the last part of the 1700’s!

Dad's X Inheritance

My guess was that this X match went through my ancestor Fanny McMaster b. 1829 (in pink above) to Margaret Frazer. Margaret was born around 1800. Margaret is my father’s 3rd great grandmother and my 4th great grandmother.

What I did today was to look at Karen’s tree at FTDNA.

karen's ftdna tree

For some reason, FTDNA trees use a very large font for last names. This doesn’t work out well for longer last names. At any rate, karen’s father is Walter Wanama(ker) I believe. Karen got one of her X Chromosomes from her dad, like my sister got from my dad. Karen’s dad had to get his X from his mom Agnes Higgins. She got one of her X’es from Maryann McPartland. She got one of her X’es from Ann Fraizer of Derreenargan, Boyle, Ireland. Now Boyle is in the heart of my Frazer research area where I have my Frazer DNA project. These 2 graphics above appear to show that a large chunk of X Chromosome has traveled from the late 1700’s from a Frazer family through at least 2 other fairly distantly related families to today.

Karen’s family tree showed that her Ann Fraizer married a McPartland. Our Australian Frazer DNA project member Ros pointed out this entry from the Irish Court of Petty Sessions showing the interaction between one Frazer and one McPartland:

Archibald Frazer of Ballyfarnon Defendant  Feb 1883:  That on 16 Oct 1882 at Aughnafinigan, a nuisance took place on the defendant’s premises occupied by James McPartland to wit the dwelling house so dilapidated and dirty as to be unfit for human habitation and that said nuisance is caused by the act or default of the defendant.  “Nuisance to be abated by the 8th March and house put in proper repair and to pay costs 3/6”.  The Complainants were the Guardians of the Poor of Boyle Union as Sanitary Authority.

Where Did the X Come From?

From correspondence with Karen’s family, I see they have their Ann Fraizer b. about 1823. Here’s where I get into a bit of educated guesswork. 1823 is probably the generation of my ancestor Fanny McMaster, daughter of Margaret Frazer. It is possible that Margaret had a brother who had Ann Fraizer in 1829 or so. Now Margaret’s brother would have only had one X Chromosome from his mother. That means that under my educated guess scenario, the X Chromosome match between karen and Sharon would be from Margaret Frazer’s mother.  This would be the pink box in my father’s X Inheritance Chart to the right of Margaret Frazer. That would be my 5th great grandmother. She would’ve been born in the latter part of the 1700’s.

By the way, Karen is the about the 3rd person that has been found to be related to the Frazers of North Roscommon. They have all been found to be related by DNA. Each of their ancestors has been a single Frazer that is the end of that person’s research line.

Triangulation, Anyone?

Another person in the Frazer DNA Research Project, Kathy, was quick to note that her mom also matched Karen on the X. Here is Sharon’s match with karen (in pink and orange) and Sharon’s match with Kathy’s mom in blue, pink and yellow.

Sharons X match with Karen and CJK

As these three people overlap on their matches and all match each other, this closes the loop on triangulation. So this gives us double proof of a common ancestor between karen, Sharon and Kathy.  One is by the X triangulation and second is through the X Inheritance Pattern. This is another case where the DNA is clearer than our paper research!

Kathy’s X Match Ancestor

So now that we have narrowed down karen’s and Sharon’s X match ancestors, where is Kathy’s? She should have the same ancestor as the same X Chromosome segment was passed down to her mom. Here is Kathy’s mom’s X Inheritance chart but it won’t be pretty. It was supplied by Kathy starting with Kathy’s mother’s mother:

CJK's X Inheritance

Who the X Match Cannot Be

As vague as this chart is, it tells us who the X match cannot be. We may rule out the top half of the chart (not shown). This is Kathy’s mother’s father’s X Chromosome. This is ruled out due lack of Frazer ancestry. For the same reason, we can rule out the top part of the chart that is shown. That is the Emmet family which was not even known to be from Ireland. Then we can rule out any of the people in the white boxes. This includes the male Frazer line and ancestors before Edward Wynn Frazer.

Now look in the right hand column. Under the pink and blue which is the only place where the X match could be I don’t see a lot of entries. Even in the next to the last column there is maybe a Bonis. I’m ending with this example, because this is what most people see in their own genealogy. Karen and Sharon were fortunate to both have good family trees showing where a likely match would be. Even with our better than average paper trail, my educated guess was that the our X Chromosome was coming from the mother of an unknown Frazer. That means we don’t even know the surname of this person. So the X match could be anybody – though likely limited to the North Roscommon area. I suppose this is why many people don’t use the X Chromosome much. It is fascinating and gives clues, but is difficult to use.

The Nexus of X’s

This post is about the X Chromosome. As you likely know, we all have 2 sets of Chromosomes – one from each of our parents. These Chromosomes are numbered 1 though 23. 1 though 22 are the Autosomal Chromosomes. The 23rd is sometimes called the sex chromosome. Women get 2 X chromosomes: one from their mother and one from their father. Men get an X chromosome from their mother and an Y from their father. And it is important to note that the man does not pass down any X chromosome to his son.

There is some good information out there on the X Chromosome. One blog is called That Unruly X by Roberta Estes at DNAExplained.

I have had questions on what the X chromosome matches mean. In one way, the matches are like any other autosomal match. In another way, they are different. The way they are the same is that they should indicate a common ancestor at some point.

A Real Life Situation with My Sister Sharon

Let’s look at a real life situation. My sister Sharon tested recently. If I go to Gedmatch.com, I can run her DNA in a utility called ‘One to many’ matches.

One to Many

I entered Sharon’s kit # and checked the X radio button so I would get her largest X match. This gave me Sharon’s matches at Gedmatch. Unfortunately, these are sorted by ‘Gen’

X DNA Sort

Gen is the number of Generations that Gedmatch thinks your match is from you. I can tell this by the red arrow (triangle) pointing up under Autosomal. This means the smallest number of Generations are sorted first, which are the closest or most important matches. I want to sort by by X-DNA ‘largest cM’. I did that and got this for my sister’s top 4 matches:

Top X Matches for Sharon

Karen and Sharon’s Big X Match

3 of the 4 people I know. Heidi is my other sister and Gladys is my mom. They share all their X Chromosome with Sharon. Joel is me. But who is karen? And why does she share more X Chromosome with my sister than I do? Let’s figure it out together. On discussion groups I have been challenged by the fact that it is impossible to tell where a match comes from by an X Chromosome match and no other autosomal match. Let’s assume that this is true. However, in this case, karen matches Sharon on an autosomal Chromosome also. These 2 matches may represent different ancestors shared by karen and Sharon. However, these 2 matches should both be on Sharon’s maternal side or paternal side.

Which Side are You On?

As with all matches it is important to know if these matches are Maternal or Paternal. All of your autosomal matches will be one of the 2. For example, my father’s mother is a Frazer. That means I should be looking for Frazers on my paternal matches. If I find someone who matches my mother and has a Frazer in their ancestry, that match is likely coincidental and not where the DNA match is. So is karen a paternal match or maternal? If these were my matches, my guess right away would be that karen would be a maternal match. How would I know? I only have the X Chromosome from my mother. Sharon on the other hand has 2 X Chromosomes: one from our mom and one from our dad.

Here is how karen and I look on Sharon’s FTDNA Chromosome browser.

Sharon Karen Joel X

The orange is my match with Sharon. The blue is karen’s 56 cM match with Sharon. There is a chunk of orange overlap above the blue. Does this mean that Sharon, karen and I match on the X Chromosome? No. Remember that I only got my X Chromosome from my mother. Karen is related on my father’s side where I didn’t get any X Chromosome. So while it may look like a match on the browser, it is not, as the orange represents my Maternal match with my sister and the blue represents my sister’s Paternal match with karen.

Where Does Karen Fit In?

In some of my other blogs, I have been able to fit in people into the Frazer Project I have been working on. Let see if karen also fits in. First, I’ll look at her autosomal match with Sharon. To do this, I click on the ‘A’ to get the details of the autosomal match between karen and Sharon. When I do that, I get this:

Karen and Sharon Chr9

Fortunately I have had my mom tested for DNA. With these results, I was able to phase her DNA using a gedmatch utility. This results in Sharon having 2 additional kits: a paternal and a maternal kit. I ran Sharon’s Paternal Phased Kit against karen and got a match slightly smaller than the one above. This proves that the match is on the paternal side.

Then I checked karen against other testers in the Frazer project. She matches Jane and Prudence who are both known Frazer descendants. Interestingly, Jane had been in touch with this person prior to DNA testing concerning karen’s genealogy through more traditional methods. Jane and Prudence represent 2 different old related Frazer lines going back to the early 1700’s. In addition, I noted that karen had an ancestral tree at FTDNA with an Ann ‘Fraizer’ in it. Now there is no triangulation between karen, Jane and Prudence meaning no proof by the DNA that there is a common Frazer. However, the evidence of karen matching 3 Frazer descendants from by DNA and having a Fraizer in the same general area of Ireland is good circumstantial evidence.

Back to the X

All of this is interesting, but what does it tell us about the X match? To me, it says that the X match is in the same general area as the autosomal match. That means in the area of Frazers – so this could be from a Frazer or Frazer spouse. We know that the X Match is from the Sharon’s Paternal Side. I also double checked that by running an X ‘one to one’ match with Sharon’s paternally phased kit and got the same X match with karen. Sharon’s maternally phased kit did not match karen.

Here is what my dad’s X inheritance looks like:

Dad's X Inheritance

Here the pink and blue areas are the only areas Sharon could have an X match through my dad who is James Frazer Hartley. Unfortunately, these pink and blue areas go to places where it is difficult to find ancestors. In general, that would be on the maternal sides of lines where historically not as much information is not always available. Some notes from the above X Inheritance chart:

  • Sharon’s X match with karen could not be through our 2nd Great Grandfather George William Frazer.
  • The match could be through George Frazer’s wife who was Margaret McMaster
  • Margaret McMaster had a Frazer grandmother. It is possible that an X match could be through her.
  • The X chromosome does not recombine as much as autosomal DNA. This means a larger intact segment can travel down through the ages. This helps explain the large X match between karen and Sharon.
  • The percentages shown above are theoretical averages. The real amounts could be much larger or much smaller. In our example, Sharon got 25% of her X Chromosome from a part of the chart that shows that the theoretical amount she would’ve gotten would be perhaps 6-12% or less.
  • Also, the X Chromosome that my sisters got from my dad was the same that he got from his mom. It doesn’t even have a chance to recombine.
  • The match could be through the Clarke line as they were in the same general part of Ireland, but I would tend to think that it is more likely that the match would be on the McMaster/Frazer part of the chart.
  • My guess is that the autosomal portion of the match would be in the same general area as the X Chromosome match. Even though the shared ancestors represented by the autosomal match are probably not the same as the shared ancestors represented by the X Chromosome match, it would make sense to me that they would be nearby each other on the chart.