I’ve been very fortunate that a few of my close cousins have agreed to be DNA tested, helping to expand our family knowledge. One of those tests came through from Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) last week, and as the genetic blender would have it, produced a cousin match which doesn’t genetically match in common with me, or other family members on that branch. This is not unexpected since each layer of genetic inheritance mixes more or less randomly – even siblings don’t have identical DNA.
The most exciting aspect of this match is that it linked to a family I’ve long hypothesised as being closely related to my O’Brien-Reddan family from Ballykelly townland near Broadford, Clare. I knew that members of my family had often witnessed church events for the Reddan families from the nearby townland of Gortnaglogh, and vice versa. In fact, one of the last things our Mary O’Brien (later Kunkel), did before she left Ireland was to act as sponsor to the baptism, on 19 September 1852, of James Reddan, son of James Reddan and Mary Scott from Gortnaglogh.
How did I find which cousin was relevant among the matches?
In this instance, I searched the matches for known family names (sometimes I search by place). This produced three people who had Reddan ancestors: me, Nora (my 3C1R) and Robert. This tied in with an Ancestry match with my own DNA: a woman whose ancestry also included Reddan, and whose tree rang lots of bells for me. Her tree included the Reddans from Gortnaglogh. At least two of the children, James (above) and Winifred, had emigrated to the United States, apparently sometime in the mid/late 1860s. Previously I wasn’t sure this match was IDB as it was quite weak at 7.3cMs, and without being able to look at the chromosomes it was tricky. The second match through FTDNA confirmed to me it wasn’t coincidence.
With these DNA matches in hand, I went back to my East Clare database[i] and also used the Irish Catholic parish registers for Kilseily/Broadford, available on National Library of Ireland, Ancestry and Findmypast.
I found two Reddan families having children in Gortnaglogh around the time the parish registers commence in 1844. (Note – the priests did not indicate the townlands until some years after the registers commence).
James Reddan and Mary Scott married in Kilseily parish on 4 February 1845 (in the early days of the Great Irish Famine). The witnesses were James Barry and Judy Carroll. They had the following children I’ve identified from the registers:
- Mary bapt 4 Aug 1846 witnesses James Moloney and Catherine Reddan
- Winifred bapt June 1848 witnesses Michael Moloney and Judy Moloney
- James bapt 17 Oct 1852 witnesses Michael Bently and Mary Brien (Ballykelly – latter is my 2x great grandmother)
Patrick Reddan and Mary Daniher (aka Dannaher etc):
- Bridget baptised 24 Feb 1845 witnesses Michael and Daniel Danaher
- Catherine bapt May 1847 Thomas Campbell and Mary Daniher
- Michael bapt 26 Jan 1851 wit Ellen Kinerk and James Kinnane
- Anne bapt 5 Nov 1856 wit Thomas Kinnane and Mary Anne Reddan (both Gortnaglogh)
- John bapt 7 Nov 1858 wit John O’Brien and Kate O’Brien (both Ballykelly – my relations)
We’ll come back to this family in another post.
What is the likely relationship of the family of James Reddan and Mary Scott to my O’Brien-Reddan family?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, though the DNA strength (49cMs on 12 segments, with longest being 20.95) suggests it should be in the range of a2C2R or 3C1R (third, once removed) cousin connection. However, the paper trail makes this not possible as the closest it can be is 4C2R. What I suspect is happening is that there is some level of endogamy far enough back to “concentrate” the linkage. My hypothesis is that, at best, James Reddan (b~1816) is possibly a sibling of my Mary O’Brien’s mother, Catherine O’Brien nee Reddan (b~1802), and if not, a nephew. For the time being, I’ve added James Reddan snr to my Ancestry tree as Catherine O’Brien’s brother with the thought in my head that I may be one generation out of line.
Where to from here?
Since I was primarily interested in the family of the DNA matches, I focused on tracing the children of James Reddan and Mary Scott. In this I was assisted by various online clues and trees of other researchers. From these I had seen that Winifred and James had been in Manchester, Hartford County, Connecticut – a pivotal point in tracing them.
Year: 1870; Census Place: Manchester, Hartford, Connecticut; Roll: M593_103; Page: 18B; Image: 347924; Family History Library Film: 545602
I managed to find Winifred in the 1870 US Census at Manchester town, Hartford, Connecticut, living with brother James as boarders in the house of Laurence Roach, his wife, children and other relatives. James’s occupation is showing as “farm labourer” but Winifred doesn’t yet have a listed occupation. Her age is listed as 20.
By 1880, Winnie was married and living with her husband, Thomas (aka John Thomas) Curry in Machester town, Hartford, Connecticut. James is a worker in the silk mill and Winifred is “keeping house”. Manchester played a large role in the silk manufacturing industry until the 1920s.
By the time of the 1900 census, Winifred was on her own with three children, Mary (b abt 1882), John James (b 1886) and Frank (b 1890). It is, as yet, unknown what happened to Winifred’s husband Thomas Curry. Over the years the family remained involved with the mills working in various capacities. Winifred reached a very old age, dying in 1943. She is buried in the St Bridget’s cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut.
ADDENDUM: Thanks to a tip from Randy at GeneaMusings I found the death of another of Thomas and Winifred’s children, Leo in 1893. I also found a still birth which now eludes me (lazy recording, late night research). There is also a death for James Curry on 17 Nov 1884, aged 2 days which may be theirs, but no parents are noted.
Connecticut Marriages, 1640-1939″, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QLMW-1DXH : 11 April 2017), Leo Curry, 1893
What became of Winnie’s brother, James Reddan?
It is through a family annotation on Find-a-Grave that I learnt James lived in Brooklyn, New York for many years and from that I tracked his census locations over the decades. In 1880 he was still in Hartford, and working as a barber, but by the 1900 census James had relocated to Brooklyn, correctly stating his month and year of birth and indicating he’d arrived in the USA in 1865 and was naturalised. If he arrived in 1865, then he would have been only 12 or 13 so presumably he came to the US with Winifred, or perhaps another relative. It may be his naturalisation registered in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1874 but it’s difficult to be sure. I have been unsuccessful in locating Winifred and James’s arrival details.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906 (M1299); Microfilm Serial: M1299; Microfilm Roll: 31
By the time of the 1940 census, James was about 88, and was living in the Chapin Home for the Aged and Infirm, New York. He was also buried in St Bridget’s Cemetery, Hartford. As far as is known, James did not marry or have any children.
But what happened to James and Winifred’s older sister, Mary?
Well, that’s a story for another day.
What do you think of my conclusions? Can you offer further suggestions re the DNA linkages?