My Jackpot discovery in researching our family history would be to find our Donovan roots in Ireland with a definitive source and also to put a name to the “two sisters,” Mrs. Henry Mahoney and Mrs. Jack Culligan who supposedly traveled to the USA in the 1840s with their brothers, our patriarchs. Using traditional methods has not worked. Our family has been actively trying to make this link since the 1980s at least when Rita Donovan McCarthy wrote the original “Donovan Clan” history. I have found nothing on these two sisters. Nothing. I wish I could ask Rita how she came to these conclusions.
Genealogical DNA research is a tool I have recently taken up to hopefully find some answers. I knew absolutely nothing about the subject a year ago. It’s not really something you can master watching a Youtube video and reading a couple of blog posts. There has been some immediate success proving that the ancestors from our most recent past (going back to the 1820s) is solid. I know with certainty that Rodger Carew and Ellen Kennedy were my second great-grandparents.
Ellen passed away in 1936, so the date on this photo is off a bit, but I am sure this is Ellen and quite possibly her daughter, Loretta (my great-grandma), wrote the date and “Ma.”
After the not-at-all surprising discovery about Rodger and Ellen, I don’t have much in the way of black and white, easy-to-prove evidence of our Donovan origins, yet.
I have oh so many clues though, last time I looked, over 60,000 “hints” were waiting for me in a DNA database I am using to find and compare matches. 60,000!
Using Y-DNA as a search tool
Our Donovan Y-DNA has been submitted to a number of these databases. Y-DNA is the male-only DNA, passed from father to son, to son…. In this case, it is from the son of John Thomas (1930-1973) > John Joseph (1889-1966) > Maurice (1849-1922) > Richard (1815-1873). After Richard is our brick wall. The “close” matches generated are a puzzler still and most likely to get more jumbled before anything clear emerges. Keep in mind that close in this instance means “since we evolved as hunter-gatherers to become shepherds and farmers.” Our Clan was among the first to domesticate and herd animals, which in turn makes us lactose persistent as a group. Fun fact – if you can enjoy dairy with no ill effects, thank your ancestors.
As more people test, it will become easier to figure the puzzle out. If you’ve ever thought about having DNA testing done for genealogy purposes, you should! Your children and grandchildren will thank you.
Contact me if you have any leads.