< Go back to newsletter archive

Honoring Our Ancestors
August 24, 2016


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Just back from a whirlwind trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands (lucky me!), and am playing catch-up, so will keep this short. This issue has the usual genealogical mish-mash - DNA, political roots, talking statues, medieval names, FOIA news (go, Brooke!), wisdom from my mom, and more! See you in September!



What the Family Tree of Tim Kaine Has in Common with Downton Abbey

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

No sooner had Hillary Clinton announced Tim Kaine as her running mate than articles on his roots began to appear — mostly about his inherent Irishness. And there’s good reason for this as he is of mostly Irish heritage – about 80% with the balance being Scottish. And he’s been to Ireland a few times, even visiting the homestead of his Farrell line in County Longford. But what else was there to learn?

I went digging and discovered striking parallels with Vice President Biden’s family history. Both are predominantly Irish (Biden coming in at roughly 63%) with maternal family trees that are entirely so and paternal ones that are slightly more mixed. Both families are also devoutly Catholic. I tripped across a number of references to Kaine’s ancestors as being among the earliest and/or longest parishioners of assorted Catholic churches, and at least two branches produced priests including one who resides in Wichita today. And both are descendants of mostly Famine-era emigrants – though in Kaine’s case, it was his surname line that would bring up the rear when his Kaine great-grandfather arrived in the 1880s. In fact, on his father’s side of the family, all his great-grandparents were immigrants, while on his mother’s side, all his great-great-grandparents were immigrants.

Surnames that appear in Kaine’s family tree include Buntin, Burns, Downey, Farrell, Finn, Fleming, Flynn, Gormley, Hanighan, Hannon, Hermiston, Jones, Kaine, King, Mackey, Mannion, McAnally, Milnamow, Phelan, Potts, and Sullivan, so particularly if yours overlap geography-wise, you could be cousins.

And the geography in play? In the United States, it’s mostly Kansas and Missouri, with supporting roles played by Illinois and Iowa and a sprinkling of other states. Once you cross the pond to Ireland, he has roots in at least Cork (Wallstown/Castletownroche), Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny (Mullinakill, Tullogher), and Longford (Derryad, Killashee). In Scotland, it’s the vicinity of Glasgow that holds his past, my favorite being the charmingly named Paisley. And while there are additional locations to be determined in Ireland, some of what has been claimed is either wrong (e.g., Donegal) or unsubstantiated (e.g., Waterford).

So preliminaries aside, what’s his family’s story?

Click here to continue reading.

Back to top^

Tim Kaine Ancestral Samplings

I recently took a peek into the family tree of Tim Kaine in a piece that combined a big-picture perspective with a mini-saga of the Kaine branch. During the course of my research, though, I came across other random tidbits of interest, so thought I’d share them clustered by branch of the family tree.

Click here to continue reading.

Back to top^

Hillary Clinton’s Celtic Roots

When it was announced that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame for her work on the Irish peace process, it was inevitable that I would explore the branches of her family tree, but it wasn’t the first time. Having delved into her roots in years past, I was familiar with the basics:

  • Compared to other American politicians, especially Presidential candidates, her ancestry is more recently “off the boat” than most. Though some harbor a misperception of blue blood heritage, seven of her eight great-grandparents were immigrants, and none of them arrived wealthy. Some, for instance, labored in coal mines both before and after settling in the United States.
  • Illinois and Pennsylvania claim most of her American family history, with other states such as Michigan, New York, and California playing supporting roles. Among her ancestral countries of origin, England and Wales are the most pronounced, followed by Scotland, France, and the Netherlands, with several branches weaving in and out of Canada over the generations.
  • The deepest branches of her North American ancestry are mostly French-Canadian, so with French-Canadian family trees being among the most intensively intertwined in the world, it’s not surprising that she is distant cousins with other formidable women known primarily by their first names – Madonna, Celine, Angelina, and Alanis among them.

I took another look wondering if it might be possible to ferret out a previously undetected bit of Irish, and came up empty, so given that her three-eighths Welsh heritage makes her a Celtic cousin of sorts, I decided to take a deeper dive into this portion of her heritage and discovered that it’s rather surprising that Hillary Rodham Clinton exists at all.

Click here to continue reading.

Back to top^

Seton Shields Genealogy Grants

When some people hear about my Seton Shields Genealogy Grant program, they ask who Seton Shields is. She was my mother, and I shared the image above just before the 10th anniversary of the day we lost her. I hope these little life lessons she left me with will give you at least a hint of the kind of person she was. Very fortunate to have been her daughter.

To apply for a Seton Shields genealogy grant, fill out and submit the form here. You can see examples of past grant awards here.

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, August 10

Welcome to Our Family – Charming video about a trans-Atlantic reunion of sisters who never knew of each other (and yup, thanks to DNA). I love that they included the hands comparison. I've noticed that in so many reunions - people always wind up comparing their hands!

The untold tale of Jim Dyson, the man who named the Buffalo Bills – A charming piece by Sean Kirst about Jim Dyson, the man who named the Buffalo Bills.

Quest to Provide Genetic Testing Services for AncestryDNAAncestry.com adds another DNA testing lab

Reclaim the Records – Brooke did it again! NYC marriage index coming up! Amazing!

Empty Mansion Hunting – Can't get enough of this abandoned mansion stuff. Always imagine the lives of those who once inhabited the place. h/t Messy Nessy Chic

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, August 3

Photo Credit: Third Roosters/Treti Pivni

Resurrecting the Incredible Flower Crowns of Old Ukrainian Wedding Photos – Shout-out to my Ukrainian roots! Also, this would break my neck.

A Personal Sort of Time Travel: Ancestry Tourism – Nice article, but not just for the retired! Also, a shout-out for George G Morgan!

Unravelling Brazil's diverse DNA – I LOVE this juxtaposition of portraits and genetic ancestry!

Talking Statues in New York - A Public Art Project – Love this idea. Ellis Island, Douglass and the oft-overlooked Kossuth! Looking forward to these talking statues in NYC!

In Praise of the Go-Between – Totally agree with this. Genealogists face the same "bridging the gap" challenge.

11 Ways To Get a Letter from the White House – Hmmm . . . so you can get a letter from the White House if you've got a family reunion that's been going on for at least 25 years.

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, July 27

Honeymooning on the Battlefields of WWII – I love the stuff that Messy Nessy Chic finds. Imagine a honeymoon like this.

I couldn't resist poking around a little and learned that their experience in Europe had a profound effect on them as they later adopted a daughter from Germany (a pattern I saw with many of my military family friends). Sadly, Ernest passed away in 2008 and Jean in 2010, but they were together for 62 years. If you're curious, you can find Ernest's obit on Findagrave and Jean's on GenealogyBank.

100 Cities / 100 Memorials – Does your town have a WWI Memorial that could use a little help? If so, read on . . . The application deadline is November 11, 2016.

Interview: Nick Cody – ‘Outside of comedy, I’m a soft-handed manchild’ – Well, this is a new one. An Australian comedian is doing a show based on his roots. According to this article, "He wrote it after discovering his ancestral home in Ireland, and realising, 'your heritage is more impressive than you actually are'."

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, July 20

Photo Credit: irisWphotography

23 Hipster Baby Name Ideas From The Dictionary of Medieval Names – "And these are our kids, Everbern, Frost, and Snorri . . ."

Echo man digitizes 1 million names on family history website – Here's some inspiration: 90 year old man has done over a million records!

The world record for the largest family reunion may be broken in Spencer, Iowa at the end of July – This seems like a genuine attempt to break the world record for family reunion turnout. Wonder if they'll make it?? UPDATE: They didn't break the world record, but did break a local one. You can read about that here.

The Dark Secrets of this Now-Empty Island in Maine – I once wrote about this island for a private client whose family had sadly been part of this saga. They had no clue.

Parisian Artist JR Completes New 'Elllis Island' Installation in Tribeca

Back to top^

Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries, I decided to take a breather from the road to tend to some projects. That said, I'm sharing exceptions here. And by the way, you can see if I’ll be in your area any time by checking my Events Calendar.

Back to top^