29 February, 2016

Waiting on Y

Well, I haven't gotten terribly far in my search for my mystery gr-gr-grandfather, but I have made some marginal progress. Going through the dna matches for my Dad turns up a list of surnames that are NOT on my family tree, but DO occur with some frequency on his matches' trees. The names most commonly found include: Gemmell, Anderson, Johnson, Wilson, Robertson, Allison, Smith, Campbell, Kerr, Paterson, Walker and Marshall. There are another two dozen or so that are seen less frequently, but enough to be possibilities for the mystery man's surname.

I have also found two of my Dad's dna matches who live still in Scotland and in the same area where gr-grandad John Reid was born. One lives in Paisley and the other in Glasgow, which are only a few miles apart. I have also learned quite a bit about life in mid-19th century Paisley by reading through the city directories from that era, which can be found online

Within the pages of these books I have discovered occupations I never knew existed, businesses long obsolete, social and charity organizations, even a street index which has also been of help. One of the poor relief institutions I found is called "Female House of Refuge". 

I did some further reading on these and apparently they were homes instituted to get "fallen women" off the streets and into honest work. To that end, they usually ran a laundry out of these homes where the women were employed. I found this very interesting, as I had long wondered why, on Caroline Reid's death record. her occupation was listed as "pauper, formerly washerwoman". It got me to wondering if perhaps my Caroline had been desperate enough to ply her wares on the streets of Paisley as a means of earning money to feed herself and her one year old son. (Gramma, I'm sorry if this speculation is in error, no offense intended!)

Even if this was the case, that does not stop me from identifying the man who fathered her son John. 


When I first got Dad's dna done, I went for an autosomal test for a few reasons. First, it covers both paternal and maternal dna, and I wanted to find matches for both sides of Dad's family. Secondly, I wanted to be able to match his results with my tree, which I could only do on ancestry .com, and they only do autosomal tests.

However, autosomal is limited in its broad coverage too. So, on Saturday last I mailed in another dna test that my Dad took for me. This one is a Y-dna test, which will return results ONLY from Dad's direct paternal line! This means that, if I get some matches, I should be able to identify the probable surname of my mystery man! 

There may be some matches with a different surname due to what genealogists call NPEs, or non-paternal events. This would include testers who were adopted or, as in my case, who received the maternal surname somewhere along the line. But most of the matches would likely have the surname that my mystery gr-gr-grandfather carried.

Unfortunately, this test takes 12 weeks to complete! I figure I can expect to know by June. If I do not get enough matches to identify a surname, I can pay more to have more markers tested.

I had emailed my brother about how sad it was that we didn't have any photos of John Reid, our great-grandfather. Next
John Reid 1872-1904
thing I know he sent me a photo of him that I'd had no idea he even had! I was more than thrilled to see his face. Note the tartan tie! While this photo would have been taken a while after he arrived in New Jersey, he evidently didn't forget where he came from! A handsome man, in my opinion, and eerily comparable to my younger brother.


Twelve weeks and counting!



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