Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2011-03 > 1300632848
Subject: Re: [S-I] SCOTCH-IRISH Digest, Vol 6, Issue 64
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:54:08 +0000 (UTC)
The truth of the matter is that most Scots never had a clan. Most Scots were (and are) lowlanders. The highlands are rural and thinly populated. Some of the lowlanders who were Picts and Gaels, in Roman times, had clans, but since then, most haven't. Most descend from Angles and Norse and other kinds of folk, most of whom never had celtic clans. Though some, like my ancestors the Forresters, formed associations called clans (but lacking celtic roots and a highland geography). The Forresters plagued the rest of my ancestors in Stirling, till they were eradicated as Jacobites in the 1700s. Now they're almost forgotten.
However in an attempt to make history romantic and to sell lots of tartans, a bogus past has been constructed that would make all of them Gaelic clansmen. As someone pointed out (not me) this is as silly as imagining Andrew Jackson, clad in loincloth and bearing tomahawk. Andrew hated Indians and killed as many as he could. Alas -- the lowlander generally felt the same about highlanders -- and slaughtered a lot of them at a number of famous battles. Very sad to know our ancestors murdered off the Indians, the highlanders, and the Irish, but all three would have destroyed our ancestors if they could have. They could not see a way to co-exist in peace.
So to your teacher say, "I spring from the people who conquered both clans (but only with the aid of the treacherous English)" and you may be right. Or wrong.
As you are just a couple generations from migration, you should be able to locate the place of origin in Scotland or Ireland without too much trouble. You need to do some good genealogy-work. This might require that you learn how from books and courses or that you hire someone (maybe cheaper and faster) or maybe you're a lucky guy.
I did research on a BROWN family -- Scottish coalminers, I was told. In the US censuses they usually claimed to be Scots with a grandmother born on a Channel Isle. (a unique fact is important with common surnames). My client had obtained a certified death certificate of the mother from the PA county. However somewhere I had learned that it was best to get the REAL thing, to check the actual ledger, so I drove down to the county. I bypassed the county courthouse (returning later to get the father's naturalization records) and headed for the county library. Less dust and fewer lines. There I got out the microfilm for the county death records. This was in the late 1800s, early 1900s, before the state took over. Sure enough, the clerk at the courthouse had copied all the data that the nice form had fields for, ignoring the rest. The ledger gave the lady's maiden name, the name of her parents, and the name of the county in Ireland where she was born (County Down).
A couple lessons here, but the one that might interest us now is that many Protestant Ulster Scots claimed to be Scots to distinguish themselves from the Catholic Irish, against whom there was great prejudice. They WERE different, ethnically speaking. They often had very close ties to Scotland. They most likely didn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day as they didn't believe in saints (unless ANglican) and certainly didn't celebrate as their cousins did on that day: going to Mass. Drinking and other profane activities were American additions to the day (begun by George Washington in Boston in 1776). They were not making it up. They were not ethnically the same as the Irish Catholics.
So the ambiguity of your family might just be another symptom of being Ulster Scot. Some of the baggage that comes along with that is believing your ancestors were Scottish. Not always so, near as we can tell from the DNA, but we adopt the history of our ethnic group. Someday someone on Mars named HONG will decry his inability to find the roots of his American ancestors in Britain. Someone will have to explain that not all American were English or Hispanic. Some came from China.
Since you don't know for sure that your ancestors were from Scotland, you'd probably want to test at www.familytreedna.com and join the Ulster Heritage project. Your surname is very common in Northern Ireland. Without having a county of origin it's probably impossible to figure out where your ancestors came from. You can find the county of origin in America or where ever it is you are. There's free courses on how to do that research: www.genealogical.com/university.html . Actual death records, obits, marriage records (esp. if Catholic), etc, can be invaluable.
BTW the BROWNs? I already knew they weren't in Scotland. I can get to the Scottish censuses. They had arrived with about 6 children -- none had been born in Scotland and no such family was in any of the censuses. They were not living in Scotland. However knowing the county of origin of the mother (whose first name was never given to Scottish girls and screamed "Irish") and her parents' names, I found dad in the Tithe Applotments in County Down. Gone in Griffiths. I suspected he'd died. Returned and checked the 1851 Scottish census for the parents. Found the widowed mother (born on the same Channel Island) living with the unmarried daughter. No sign of grandpa Adam Brown in the census. Conclusion: Adam was in County Down, waiting for her to return after her mother's passing. Only one other person in that census in that county in Scotland born on that channel island. Probably a sib of the mother.
When grandpa Brown was naturalized, his two witnesses were first generation Irish Americans -- two more Ulster Scots. Probably from the same village as where he'd waited for his Theresa to return from across the sea to marry him and produce a huge family of future Americans.
The point is, you gotta go the extra mile. Without checking the original death ledger we'd not know where they had lived. That means learning how to research and following through on the advice given in classes and books. In so many successful cases I've worked on the clue that resolved the problem was one clue that was easily overlooked. It's like solving a murder: you gotta find the one clue that matters and to do that you have to turn over every pebble. That means careful research and plenty of backtracking and analysis. Otherwise you can end up like another customer did, searching for his ancestors in Ireland. He hired a high end genealogist in Salt Lake who traced the family back through central Pennsylvania and found the marriage record of his grandfather. She forwarded it and various other things to him and wrote that she didn't do Irish genealogy and that it was almost impossible to trace families in Ireland, and terminated.
She was right she didn't do Irish genealogy. The marriage record contained the information needed to find his family: the names of the parents and the county of origin, which was Limerick. Now....Limerick is a hard place to research in. The Catholic church records are in at least two dioceses and the state had had a war going on with the bishop over access. The records were microfilmed and in Dublin but he didn't allow anyone to view them. About then the state won the lawsuit. And the county heritage society put most of the indexes on line. So I searched them, free, the first week they were available. Voila. There was one couple married with the right names, a year before this lad was born, and one baptism for a lad with his name and these same parents. So for a small fee, we obtained a copy of the baptism, which I downloaded to my computer. This record would have been unobtainable a week before. Even if we'd hired someone in Dublin, he would not have been allowed to search these Limerick records. A small chance it is the wrong guy as there was still a small portion of northeastern Limerick that was not available. However his DNA indicated that he matched a family with the same surname in Kerry. There were others in Limerick, on the bay, but he didn't match them. And, surprise! The parish and town where the baptism occurred was on the road to Kerry. Pretty sure we got the right one. (DNA appears to be Scots gallowglass, btw).
This is why I never ask on lists what websites have what and why I google and stay on newsletters like Dick Eastman. Things things change overnight. You can believe last week's information -- which, had I asked would have been "Give up hoping to find the baptism in Limerick unless you go there" or use this week's information and find the pot at the end of the rainbow for $30 (price of downloaded baptism).
The website with the free index to most transcribed Irish church records is http://www.rootsireland.ie/ . Just added some from Donegal, I read recently! You can sub to their newsletter.
With a name like McConnell you need to find the county of origin in Ulster or their true origin, from US records. To determine if they were originally Scots or Irish, DNA is probably the best way to go. Even there, as we have learned, you might find you have M222 and so seem to be Irish, but a year from now, after we've found more SNPs, etc, downstream from M222, you might be able to determine that the family was actually Scottish because you have markers unique to Scots McConnells.
The only way to learn more about the DNA is to test more people, so please help.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stan McConnell" <>
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2011 2:22:25 AM
Subject: Re: [S-I] SCOTCH-IRISH Digest, Vol 6, Issue 64
At 05:06 PM 3/19/2011, you wrote:
> Now lets get back to looking for the 3rd spear bearer on the left and tell
>me where my wife and I can get tested in the UK and how much it will cost.
I have the same dilemma here in the U.S. My great-aunt Etta wrote a memoir
that started off by talking about her father's birth and early life in
"Bonny Scotland". But I have four U.S. Census records that say her father,
Daniel McConnell, of Hemmingford, PQ, and Mooers, NY, was born in Ireland.
I had a Latin teacher (maiden name Laird) who, for two years, often berated
me, not about my conjugations, but because I couldn't tell her whether I
was from a sept of Clan Ranald or Clan Donald. So with all this discussion
of M222 and the like, and considering the dichotomy in the foregoing, it's
time for me to find out who I am (genealogically speaking). What is the
best source for DNA testing for our Scotch-Irish genre (or Scots ... or
Irish ... or ...).
Stan McConnell (apprentice spear bearer)
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