Friday, April 28, 2017

When it all comes together

Mary Cath. Brady, Martha Washington House, William Henry
McBride, and Daniel H McBride are all children of the John
McBride in my DNA match's tree, mentioned here as the heirs
of Catherine McBride, the mother of "my" John McBride.
This is a great example of how a combination of DNA and paper research can break down a brick wall. And it's why you should read all pages of a multipage document, even if it doesn't seem like it has any useful information at first. Additionally, probates often seem to get overlooked, but this is also a great example of how important they can be. When you're stuck, always look for a probate record, of all relatives involved. Even if they are female (women sometimes had wills and probates too!).

I had a suspicion that one of my DNA match's ancestor was my 5th great uncle, John McBride. The DNA match had the same name in her tree, but she knew nothing about him apart from his name (which she found from orphan court records), his wife, and his children. I had his birth and death data, and obviously his parents names (and records to back it all up), but no records confirming his wife's name or any children. The only thing they had in common was both location and time period, but there was no proof they were definitely the same man. It was like I had half the story, and she had the other half, but we had no way to link them together.

I finally read ALL the pages of John's mother's probate records. Initially I'd only read her will, thinking if she names her grandchildren by her son John, and they match the names of John's children in my DNA match's tree, that obviously proves they are the same man. The will doesn't name them (only says "my grandchildren by my son John")... but upon further inspection of the follow up documents, such as the distribution of her estate, it does list several people whose names match perfectly with the children in my DNA match's tree! Although it doesn't specify they are her grandchildren, given the context (i.e., her estate is being distributed to her heirs, as specified in her will as her grandchildren), it would be too much of a coincidence for so many of them to be listed on this woman's probate records if they weren't her grandchildren.

So when you're struggling to find a connection to a DNA match, it pays to do some digging around on a hunch, even if it seems like a long shot or there's not enough info to say for sure. The only connection I had was a name, and an extremely common first name at that, with a surname that isn't unheard of either. Even my DNA match in question was skeptical when I first proposed the idea to her, but a little digging proved my hunch was right!

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