Cousin Rusty’s BigY Results

It has been a while since I have written about my cousin Rusty’s YDNA. Rusty’s YDNA testing resulted in his finding out that a rumored adoption of I think his grandfather in Ireland was true and that the name he was accustomed to having was not the same name as his ancestors. Here is my last Blog.  At that time, Rusty had not taken the BigY test. Since then he has. I see that previous results lead Rusty to believe that his paternal line was origingally McFarlane or McFarldand. Previously, Rusty was confirmed to be R-BY674.

Rusty’s New Group of R-BY38907

It sounds like a bunch of numbers, but it is really Rusty’s place in the tree of mankind. Here is Rusty’s Block Tree view of his results:


The BigY testing brought Rusty down a level to R-Y38907. There are three people in Rusty’s group with 4 variants. There is a McFarlane and a McFarland and Rusty. There are two other testers who hae split off from BY38907 to R-FT91061. If I use 100 years per variant or SNP, then McFarland are 500 years from a common ancestor and Rusty’s group are 400 years away. So a wild guess could be that these five people have a common ancestor around 450 years ago or in the 1500’s.

SNP Tracker

Let’s see what the SNP Tracker has to say about Rusty’s Haplogroup. This is a web based program.

SNP Tracker has BY38907 in Northern Ireland in Roman times. If I add in the group directly below Rusty, it brings us into modern times (1900):

I think I like my estimate better. As there  is only one SNP difference between BY38907 and FT91061, I don’t know why SNP Tracker has about 1900 years between them.

BY38907 in Context

In general terms, BY38907 is a R1b Haplogroup. This is a very common European Haplogroup. The FTDNA L21 project has what is called a Tip of the Iceberg Map or Tree for L21 people. As a Hartley, I am also in this group.

L21 has been associated with people with Celtic background, but it includes more than that. Here is Rusty’s Path:

DF63 is at the top right in brown. I know that I am in L513 in the Orange. That means that Rusty and I are related back to 2600 BC. That is actually not that distant in terms of YDNA:

Also I see that the DF63 is one of the smaller early branches of L21. From there we branched off:

My group is on the left and Rusty’s is on the right. His CT6919 is still at 2100 BC.

BY674 to BY38907

This view takes Rusty’s Block Tree back to BY674 (which descends from CTS6919):

The column on the left gives a measurement of SNPs. This shows that Rusty went from about 11-14 SNPs away with BY674 to four Private Variants away with his present designation of BY38907. The other interesting thing is that there are many McFarlands under BY674. This makes me think that BY674 was around at the time of the McFarland surname. This name is a fairly early surname dating to around 1100 from my understanding. This could also help date BY674. If any of the three people in Rusty’s group get a closer relative to test, then that closer relative and that person should form a new branch.

Rusty’s Private Variants

Rusty’s Private Variants represent his line since the common ancestor he shares with his two other matches who tested positive for BY38907 (and tested negative for FT91061).

Here are Rusty’s Private Variants:

Rusty has more than average Private Variants. The average of the group is four and Rusty has nine. This is partially explained in that Rusty took the BigY 700 and the other two testers probably had the BigY 500. That means that Rusty’s test was looking at parts of the YDNA that McFarland and McFarlane did not look at. That also means that if those two were to upgrade to the BigY 700, they may match on some of Rusty’s Private Variants. Of course, this would make them no longer private. This would also either add more SNPs to the current BY38907 Block or create or create a new branch (or both).

Rusty’s Non-Matching Variants

I’ll look at those listed with Rusty’s two closesty BigY matches:

These are Variants that Rusty has and his matches don’t have. Or they may be Private Variants that Rusty’s matches have and Rusty does not have. As Rusty has more Private Variants, these should be mostly Rusty’s Variants. Rusty’s Private Variants is really what the BigY does well at finding. These should be Variants that have not been discovered in anyone else before.

Here I have highlighted Rusty’s Private Variants in his two closest matches’ results:

This means that McFarlane has one Private Variant that Rusty does not have and McFarland has two Private Variants that Rusty does not have. Add Rusty’s 9 PVs plus the three above to get 12 PVs. Divide those by three testers to get the four Private Variants shown in the Block tree below BY38907.

If Rusty was to have his son take a BigY test, that would name most or all of Rusty’s Private Variants and put Rusty and his son into a new branch. Actually, these Private Variants are all probably already named, but they would then be shown as named. If Rusty’s son takes the BigY test, it would not tell Rusty anthing more about his genealogy. It would just give his branch of the YDNA Tree a name. Instead of Rusty having a bunch of Private Variants, he would have a named branch with a bunch of SNPs in it. This is what I did by having my brother tested:

My results are on the left. After having my brother tested for BigY, my brother and I split off from A11132 to form FT225247 in a block with 7 SNPs.

A Name for Rusty’s Private Variants

In general, FTDNA keeps the Private Variants as position numbers rather than named SNPs. Once they find a match, FTDNA reveals the name and puts the SNPs on a tree. The way to find out the names of your Private Variants is to go to Let’s try Rusty’s first which is 5173895.

Put the position number here and search:

This is where the position is on the Rusty’s Y Chromosome:

Here is the name:

This SNP (or Private Variant) was discovered when Rusty had his BigY test in 2019.


Cousin Rusty’s YDNA – MacFarlane or James?

I recently had an email from my Cousin Rusty. He had received an email from some from a member of a James surname project telling him that he belonged to the James family originating in Wales. I’m sure that was a surprise as Rusty was thinking that due to an Irish adoption and YDNA testing that he was actually a MacFarlane. So which is it?

A Look at Rusty’s Past YDNA Analysis

I had taken a look at Rusty’s YDNA in this Blog in April 2017. That was two years ago. Could things have changed that much in two years? At that time, Rusty had done the 37 STR test and had just upgraded to the 67 STR test.

SNPs and STRs

I had estimated, based on STRs, that Rusty was in the DF63 SNP category. SNPs are important because they define what branch we are on the SNP tree. I further noted that further down on the three was a SNP called BY674:

Under that SNP almost all the people who had taken the Big Y test were either MacFarlanes or MacFarlands. Under BY674 were 13 branches of variations of MacFarlanes. That means that if Rusty tested for these SNPs, he would have a good idea of which branch of MacFarlanes he was from. Of course, this is doing it a bit backwards. It is assuming that Rusty is a MacFarlane first. Technically, it would have been better to do the SNP testing first and then determine that Rusty was a MacFarlane.

A month after my Blog, I got an email from Rusty saying he tested for DF63 and was found to be postive for that.

Rusty’s YDNA 2019

That brings us up to present. Now Rusty is:

That confirms Rusty into the MacFarlane group from the Big Tree above.

The Current Big Tree

Guess what? The Big Tree didn’t get any smaller in the past two years. I take the Big Tree to be pretty authoritative as it is based on the Big Y or equivalent test. This is about the ultimate in YDNA testing and is quite accurate. Here is the entire branching beneath R-BY674:

Previously, there were 13 branches under BY674. Now there are 20. Almost every branch has a MacFarlane or MacFarland. I don’t see any James surnames. Actually there are seven major groups under BY674 and then some additional branching under those 7 groups. The last three people on the right descend directly from BY674 with no sub-groups. I don’t see any James surnames. That means that they don’t belong in this group or none of the James that match Rusty have done the Big Y test.

The flags by the tested people’s names are meant to show where their earliest traceable ancestors of the YDNA-tested people came from. I count 14 Flags from Scotland and 7 from Northern Ireland. Rusty’s known Irish ancestors were from Northern Ireland.

The Lennox Cluster

I had alluded to the Lennox Cluster in my previous Blog on Rusty’s YDNA. Here it is at the Big Tree shown in green:

BY674 takes up about 2/3 of this Lennox Cluster.

Here are the ancient arms of Lennox:

Here is what the FTDNA Lennox, MacFarlane, Leckie – cadet clans of Lennox Page says:

Cadets Lineage.  [Scions of the mormaers/earls of Lennox if not also of their branch the Macfarlane clan chiefs.]  This is our project’s largest lineage (including its sub-lineages) consisting of over one hundred eighty men, several of whom can trace their respective descents from the earls of Lennox via the Macfarlane chiefs through one or another of their cadets.  In a Scottish clan yDNA project the largest lineage found should always be that of the chiefs and their cadets and thus it is in our case even though the House of Lennox consists of three extant clans (Lennox, Macfarlane, & Leckie) rather than just one.  As the Macfarlane chiefs descended from a younger son of the second earl of Lennox those men in this lineage who have agreed to show their cadet house on the yDNA test results page start with “Lennox” for the earls, then “Arrochar” for the chiefs, and then whichever cadets and/or sub-cadets they may belong to such as “Gartartan.”  To appear in this lineage on said page a man must have done some level of yDNA STR testing (12, 25, 37, 67, 111 markers or the Big Y which now includes over 700 markers).  Once his markers (however many) are displayed on our project’s yDNA test results page further applicable testing will be recommended in the most beneficial order: the Big Y; the R1b-DF63 SNP Pack; a single SNP test; upgrading STR markers; and finally the Family Finder.  It has been found that SNP F489 was carried by the Lennox dynasty, and hence the Macfarlane chiefs, therefore every member of this lineage should SNP test for F489 as soon as possible (unless they have already taken the R1b-DF63 SNP Pack or the Big Y).  Furthermore it has been found that SNP BY674 was carried by the Macfarlane chiefs, therefore all the Macfarlane surnamed men of this lineage should SNP test for BY674 as soon as possible (unless they have already taken the R1b-DF63 SNP Pack or the Big Y).  The men who have only tested their yDNA STR markers need to at least take a SNP test as mentioned above or take the R1b-DF63 SNP Pack to confirm that they belong in this lineage.  It is important that as many of these men as possible take the Big Y Next Generation Sequencing SNP test, as this will reveal more details about the ancestry of the mormaers/earls of Lennox and how the various branches descended from them.  Please note that the Big Ycan be ordered without already having taken any previous STR testing but the price is higher to do so. Once they have finished testing their yDNA, as above, they should consider testing their autosomal block DNA via the Family Finder so that we can more accurately define the relationships within this lineage (i.e. branching within the last several generations possibly beyond the reach of the Big Y).  As several of the men of this lineage can trace their respective descents from the Macfarlane chiefs and the earls of Lennox, and all the participants’ yDNA STR test results are very close, it follows that all the men of this lineage must descend from the chiefs and/or their ancestors the mormaers/earls.  [NOTE: Those listed in this lineage who do not bear a variant of the Macfarlane (or Lennox) surname may have come off the line of our chiefs (or the mormaers/earls) before surnames became fixed or from fosterage, adoption, or an extra-marital event.]  And given this descent from the chiefs and/or earls it is critical to House of Lennox and Macfarlane research that all the members of this lineage test as much of their individual yDNA (STRs and SNPs) and autosomal block DNA as they can afford over time.  Once they have completed their own testing we hope that they will consider contributing to our project’s General Fund to help fellow lineage-mates upgrade their testing.  To help find lost cadets, they should set their “Personal” page “User Preferences” to compare their test kit results against the lab’s entire database rather than limit it just to our project’s database.

There is a lot of information above and instructions. I have highlighted the part about the BY674. Basically, Rusty descends from a famous line of very well-documented people with ancient roots in Scotland. Here is where the Lennox Clan was from and ruled in Scotland:

The County is callled Dumbartonshire.

DF63 SNP Pack

I see that Rusty has taken the DF63 SNP Pack. That is the test that got him down to BY674. However, that test also eliminated various SNP beneath BY674:

The red are SNPs that Rusty tested negative for. The blue are SNPs that haven’t been tested. They weren’t in the SNP pack or are new since Rusty took the test. It looks like there are 7 major branches. Rusty was negative for three branches. He didn’t test three branches. One branch he tested for a sub-branch, (A7799) so may not be positive for the main branch (A7798).

Combining the Big Tree and the DF63 SNP Pack

The Big Tree is big as the name implies, so I’ll split it in half for the BY674 Branch:

I crossed out the parts that Rusty tested negative for and put a green box around what he hasn’t tested for. That narrows down his options.

Here is the next section of BY674:

Here I made a judgement call. The first X is over three SNPs in the top box. Rusty tested negative for Z73:

These three SNPs are in what is called a block. If Rusty had taken the Big Y test, it is possible that he could have broken up this block, but not likely, so my guess was that he would have tested negative for A7798. Rusty is possibly in the last three green squares (as well as possibly being in the previous three green squares. The last square is not obvious. Rusty would be in that box if he were BY674 and tested negative for all the branches.

Taking Rusty Further Down the Tree to BY38907 and BY 38908

Rusty’s closets STR matches are here:

Rusty has a 4 GD match with McFarland who has a Terminal SNP of BY3907. This McFarland has also taken the Big Y test. This could be McFarland in the Big Tree:

Here the Big Tree has McFarland as BY38908, but that is equivalent with three other SNPs including BY38907. It could be that if Rusty were to take the Big Y test, then there would be more branching under BY38908. McKinnon in the same group may be Rusty’s third STR match above. Rusty’s fourt match is McAfee I see a McAfee under BY7779, but Rusty already tested negative for BY7779. My best guess is that Rusty belongs in the box with McKinnon and McFarland.

I note that the third match on Rusty’s STR list is McFarlin who is BY7777. This is in the first group under the Big Tree above and I had eliminated it due to Rusty’s SNP Pack results.

What About the James Line?

I found the James YDNA Project. The man who wants to claim Rusty is in this group:

Two people in this group have tested positive for BY71106. The second person listed with green results is in the Big Tree:

Compare that to the general area of the MacFarlane Group:

Here is the Big Tree page for DF63:

The top unnamed light block is DF63. Five blocks down from there we reach BY674 where Rusty is. If I am reading this correctly, Rusty and the James Family share the L21 SNP.  L21 has been around since about 2500 BC, so the connection between Rusty and the James family could go back pretty far.

This chart shows the two main branches of L21. DF63 is on the top right. All other branches are everything not in the green box. That means that these two branches probably separated a long time ago.

Summary and Conclusions

  • Rusty is part of the BY674 SNP Group. This group is very specific to a Cadet Line of the Lennox Clan and is very well defined. That Cadet Line is MacFarlane with some  name varations.
  • This BY674 SNP group is now up to 20 sub-groups. Rusty has been eliminated from about 14 of these groups by YDNA testing. That leaves 6 groups he may be in.
  • Rusty’s matching to the James family by STRs is coincidental. Any match to this group could go back 4,000 years or more based on SNPs. Whenever there is a discrepancy between STRs and SNPs, the SNPs are most accurate.



Cousin Rusty’s Surprise YDNA Results

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?

Naturalization records

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, 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 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 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.

Annie O’Brien

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.

Postscript: 1920

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:

This place is very close to Deverney which is one of the places where John was supposed to have been born:

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.