Friday, 31 March 2017

One New Date - 3 New Generations of Ancestors

Some time ago I had hit a brickwall with researching Marlene's maternal Great Great Grandmother, Julie LeBlanc, and despite collaborating with other LeBlanc descendants, I could not confirm her parentage, mainly because I did not have a birth date for her.
As I identified in a previous post, the Alberta Archives has recently put historical death indexes online, and the death index entry for Julie LeBlanc identified that she was born in Quebec on 13 March 1857.
This one date was all that I needed to find her baptism entry (14 March 1857) in the Drouin Collection on, and to very quickly take her family back an additional 3 generations, all verified through baptism and marriage records - the French Canadians kept excellent records. 
Ancestry of Julie Bergeron
One of Julie's descendants, Bonnie Konkal, had told me that Julie was adopted by an aunt and uncle, and I was able to identify the likely family that adopted her - Julie was living with Egesippe Bergeron and his wife Ludmille Croteau in the 1871 census, and I determined that Egesippe Bergeron, was Julie's father's brother.
An added bonus was finding that Julie had a sister, Alphonsine Bergeron, who married in Massachusetts and had several children.
All of this from just one birth date!

AncestryDNA's DNA Communities

AncestryDNA provides you with a breakdown of your ethnicity, based on your DNA.  They identify that I am 80% Irish, 13% Great Britain, 2% Iberian Peninsular, with smaller amounts of Italy / Greece and Europe West, but these are very broad categories.
Recently, Ancestry added another layer of depth to the ethnicity calculation, by identifying specific genetic communities that you likely belong to.  For me, they only identified one genetic community, which not surprisingly, is Munster Irish.  This was an easy call by Ancestry, as both of my maternal grandparents were born in Tipperary, and their families lived there for generations before. 
The feature also allows you to see which of your DNA matches are also in these communities, but just because you both appear in the same genetic community does mean that your common ancestor is from that genetic community.  Out of my 8,750 DNA matches on Ancestry, only 48 are identified as being members of the Munster Irish, so Ancestry is certainly erring on the side of caution. 
I was disappointed that they did not identify me as being part of Ulster Irish or Scottish genetic communities, which would help to identify whether my Cosgrave ancestors were long-time Irish or Scottish plantation settlers.  Hopefully over time, as Ancestry refines this new Genetic Communities feature, I will be identified as being part of some other communities.
Jim's Genetic Communities
Marlene was a little bit luckier, in that she is identified as being part of three genetic communities, but despite being 52% Irish, she was not identified as being part of any of the Irish genetic communities.  I was not surprised that she was part of the three identified communities, and of her 11,350  DNA matches on Ancestry, 114 are in the French Settlers in Quebec community, 39 are in the Southern English community, and 20 in the Scots in Northeast and Central Scotland community.
Marlene's Genetic Communities
I was most interested in Marlene's Southern English community, as this is the area where I have had the least success in confirming ancestral matches through DNA.  I was happy to see that Geraldine Hayes was at the top of the list of Marlene's matches in this community, and she was suggested to be a 4th cousin, which is in line with the paper match that Geraldine and I had identified some time back.
So I will not be rushing to promote this new feature on AncestryDNA as being a "must have", but it is interesting and may become more useful as a larger proportion of our DNA matches are identified as being part of specific ancestral communities.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Alberta Historic BMD Indexes Online

Marlene's Great Great Grandmother, on her maternal line, Julie Bergeron, has been a brick wall for a year or more.  Her 1881 marriage certificate identifies that the 24 year old Julie was born in Quebec, and married Louis Philippe LeBlanc in Douglas, Massachusetts, but her parents names are not recorded.  Julie and Philippe LeBlanc appear in the Canadian census records through to 1921 (last available census), and her year (1857/1858) and place of birth (Quebec) are consistent throughout the census records.  But I could not positively identify her in any records prior to her marriage, as I did not know her parents' names nor her date of birth.
Various researchers have provided conflicting information, but no evidence, including suggestions that she died in Legal, Alberta in 1945, and that she was raised by an Aunt and Uncle. 
This week I learned from the Global Genealogy newsletter that the Provincial Archives of Alberta has recently published historical birth, marriage and death indexes online, so off I went in search of Julie's death entry in the indexes. 
The Provincial Archives website does not provide a search box where you can enter a surname and given names and be presented with all matches.  The indexes are in a series of pdf files for a range of years / portions of the alphabet, based on surnames.
I scrolled down the list of files, to "L (1945-1949)", clicked on the file name, and within a few seconds the pdf file was open on my computer.  My heart sank when I found no entry in 1945, but I skipped down a few pages to get to 1946, and there was Julie's death entry, which identified that she died in St. Albert (district) on 17 May 1946, and that she was born in Quebec (province number 04) on 13 May 1857. 
Wow, I finally have a definite date of birth for Julie, so now I should be able to find her baptism record in the Drouin Collection on Ancestry, and identify the names of her parents.
LEBLANC, Julie - 1946 Death Entry
 I checked similarly for the death of Julie's husband, Philippe LeBlanc, and also found his death entry, which provided his date and place of death - St. Albert (district) on 28 February 1944, and confirmed his known date of birth.
LEBLANC, Philippe - 1944 Death Entry
It seems realistic that Philippe and Julie LeBlanc did both die in Legal, Alberta, as Legal is only 40 Km North of St. Albert, so is likely within the St. Albert registration district.  I sense a road trip coming up!
A big thank you to the Alberta Provincial Archives for making these indexes available online, and to Global Genealogy for sharing the knowledge. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

A Surprise Cousin in Tasmania

While on vacation, I received an email from a FamilyTreeDNA contact, Tammy, identifying a DNA match between her husband, Tom, and my wife, Marlene.  As we were travelling with my sisters and on a tight schedule, I wrote back and told Tammy that I was in Tasmania, and that it may be a while before I could look at the match in detail.

Tammy replied that she lives in Tasmania, and asked if we would like to get together.  How could a genealogist refuse an opportunity to meet with an unexpected cousin?  We agreed to meet in Launceston the following week, leaving a little time to try and figure out the connection.

Tom's surname is Polley, which is the only ancestral surname that he shares with Marlene - Ann Polley is Marlene's 5th Great Grandmother (Spriggs - Preston - Warne - Polley). So they have a common ancestral surname but not an identified common ancestor.

By the time we met, Tammy had used the triangulation tool on to find other people who matched both Tom and Marlene, and had identified a kit named "DJB" as a shared connection. DJB does not have an associated GEDCOM file on GEDmatch, so we could not see surnames that may be shared with either Tom or Marlene.

Tammy contacted the administrator of DJB's kit, who provided a list of DJB's ancestral surnames, but indicated that he was pressed for time at the moment.  One of the ancestral surnames is Preston, so it seems that we are on the right track.   Now we must patiently wait, until this new contact has the time to get back to us, something that us genealogists find difficult.

This situation provides several learnings -
  1. Reply to all genealogical correspondence promptly, even if you are on vacation, as otherwise you might miss an opportunity to meet with new cousins
  2. Do upload your DNA sample to GEDmatch, to improve the chances of finding relatives
  3. Do include a GEDCOM file (containing at least your direct ancestors) with your GEDmatch upload, to quickly identify shared ancestral surnames
Hopefully, we will soon have more information on the connection between Tom, Marlene and DJB.