In 1937, when my Dad was 4, my Grandfather died. My Dad was the youngest of 10 children - 8 older siblings on my Grandmother's side, and 1 sibling on my Grandfather's side. Dad was their only child. Sometime before the 1930 census, my Grandparents met and ran away from their respective spouses, got married 🤷♀️ and Dad was born in 1932. Did I mention that my Grandfather changed his name during this time?
Imagine researching your family tree and you don't even know your Grandfather's given name! I have the same issue on my Mom's side, but that's another post...
Dad had one memory of meeting his brothers when he was 7 and they drove him and Grandma to Charleroi, PA to meet his Dad's side. He remembered riding on a street car with "the twin uncles". Well that narrows it down now doesn't it? Did you catch their last name Dad? Why yes you did! BUCHANAN.
Now how do we prove we are related?
If you have not used Ancestry, you would be surprised at the volume of newspapers from small towns. I spent hours pouring over Charleroi Newspapers from 1900 to 1969. I had three names to go on, but only two were correct.
I connected my Grandfather to his sister via the 1900 to 1920 census records, after locating their names in newspaper articles. Now I had my great Grandparents names. One things about census records from back then, they are phonetic and generally correct. Notice I said, generally...
My great Grandparents immigrated from Ireland in 1882, with 3 children one of them being my Grandfather. Now when examining census records, you will find the birthplace listed. You would think your parents know where you were born, right? Well, in our case, we get to choose between Ireland and England. Do you know how many Buchanans lived in Ireland and England in the 1800's?
There is a naming pattern in Irish families back then - the first son is named after the father's father, second son is named after the mother's father, first daughter is named after mother's mother, then through in Uncles and Aunts, Roberts, Johns, Williams, Francis', James, Patrick. Then you have to figure out the nicknames and the Latin names. Did you know that Connor is another name for Cornelius? 😲Me either..😐
Turns out, my great Grandparents met and married in Durham, Durham County, England which is where my Grandfather and his sister were born. My great Grandfather immigrated🛳️⚓ in 1880 to PA to work in the mines. He came back a couple of times while the family had relocated back to Ireland, and another son was born. The five of them immigrated to PA in 1882. He became a naturalized citizen in 1896.
Long story short, once I located the granddaughter of my great Aunt, she was able to connect us with a male cousin and DNA was performed. It's a match!! Where do we go from here...
I found out Dad had a niece that he didn't know about, gave him the contact information and they were able to meet. Go me! 😊
Since my parents are now deceased, I decided to test my DNA on Ancestry to get my ethnicity and see if there are matches out there. While there are many DNA companies out there, I went with Ancestry because that's where my tree is maintained. Turns out, I am NOT American Indian (according to my Mom, we were; but that's another post) but I am 40% Irish. I've learned a lot about DNA over the past few years, but the biggest lesson I have learned is that you get 50% of your DNA from each parent - you just don't know which 50% of their DNA you are getting. I had a cousin on my Mom's side do a DNA test, apparently she got the Indian DNA at 1%... my Irish DNA is on my paternal side. So, even though my great Grandfather was born in England, I am IRISH BY BLOOD. 🍀