Sunday, March 10, 2019

Ultimate Mystery Solved

My mother wondered during her adult life.

I searched my entire adult life- up to now.

My mother's biological father has been revealed through DNA testing.

My mother's biological tree is filling in. She only knew half of it. I will know all of it.

I use "biological" because my mother had a loving father who raised her as his own. She did not uncover this family secret until she saw her birth certificate for the first time in 1972, when she applied for a marriage license.

This discovery was only possible through DNA. Eight years ago I tested at 23andMe. Last month, my hopes were realized when a very close family member of the mystery man tested. Results of this person's test were fantastic news for me, but shocking on the other side. They did not know that my mother existed.

Up to then, I was getting close, thanks to match in the second to third cousin range who appeared in January. He shared a set of ancestors with a probable third cousin match. Patrick Somers and Julia Reilly, born about 1820 in County Longford, Ireland, were my first set of identified ancestors.

All I had to do was trace all of the descendants of all of their children. It was not too bad. They were Catholic and in Jersey City and Brooklyn. Newspapers are online. Church and vital records are transcribed online to a degree, but a trip to the New Jersey State Archives was needed. I was concentrated on the Jersey City lines.

As I plowed through these generations, the closest of matches appeared and the loose pieces of my puzzle fell into place.

There are more mysteries to be solved with this family, naturally.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Walling Descendants from Plymouth Colony

A Walling cousin kindly shared the results of his Y-DNA test.

He is my father's eighth cousin, once removed. Sometimes you have to travel far in the family tree to find a candidate for the Y-DNA test. Even though he is a distant cousin, his Y chromosome is perfect for tracing our shared Walling ancestry.

The last person in my line named Walling was a great great great grandmother, Sophia T Walling (1835-1906).

The Y-DNA test, offered at Family Tree DNA, traces the direct paternal line. This is the path of the Y chromosome, passed intact from father to son.

The original immigrant of our shared Walling line was Ralph Wallen. He and his wife, Joyce, were passengers on the ship Anne. They arrived in Plymouth Colony in 1623. Scant written records remain. Ralph's family of origin and creation are debated. A scoundrel named Thomas Wallen appears in records slightly later than Ralph and is generally held to be Ralph's son.

We are interested in this test to explore:
-Are the plentiful Wallings alive today all descended from a common ancestor?
-Who were Ralph Wallen's ancestors in England?
-Was Thomas Wallen (1627-1674) the son of Ralph?

The results were pleasantly surprising because all ten matches used a variation of Walling either as their current surname or as their paternal line. (This was not the situation with my other Y-DNA tests. See my one match for Lutter.)

I identified four testers as descendants of Thomas Wallen, the purported son of the Pilgrim immigrant Ralph Wallen.

Plymouth Colony Wallen descendants

The surname project for Walling organizes these testers in three different groups:
-Long Hunter
-Unrelated R1b
-English Walling/Wallen to Walden.

I found that three are descended from Elisha Walling (1708-1783), the "Long Hunter." All five are descended from Thomas Wallen.

The Walling, Wallen, and Walden lines of the six other testers will trace back to a common ancestor, probably Thomas and Ralph of Plymouth Colony.

At this point, we have not genetically shown that Thomas was the son of Ralph. To do so, we need to go a generation or more beyond Ralph and show Y-DNA matches to descendants of Ralph's cousins and/or brothers. But we do not know the parents of Ralph. We need testers who can trace back, on paper, to Wallens in England in the late 1500s and who have matching Y chromosomes to descendants of the Plymouth Wallens.

Records are scarce or non-existent, but with Y-DNA testing, we can possibly uncover the origins of Ralph Wallen of Plymouth.