Monday, 19 March 2012

DNA follow-up

As part of the 'Family Tree DNA' website you can check on the number (and names) of people who match with your own DNA. You can choose matches where differing numbers of chromosomes have been matched. It seems not worth checking when people have only 12 recorded. For me there are well over 2000 of them! I have therefore checked for 25 and 37 (you can go up to 67 and 111). Clearly the most significant matches are going to be at 37 and for me there is only one and he happens to be my third cousin once removed who lives in Canada. It would be great if more male members of our clan would agree to have their DNA analysed so that we can get more comparisons and therefore probably make more family tree links, where the paper trail hasn't yet allowed us to do so. If you are interested, or think you can persuade someone, do please get in touch with me.

Next you look for people whose DNA is nearest to your own. For me there is just one person with 37 less 3 (=34) matches. His surname is Brown, a name he can take back to 1765. His haplogroup is R1b1a2 (R-M269), which is not the same as mine. At Y-DNA 25 he is recorded as not a match for me, which is something I confess I do not understand. In addition to my Canadian cousin there is just one person who is an exact match to me at Y-DNA 25. His surname is Smith and like Brown his haplogroup is R1b1a2 (R-M 269). At one step away (so scoring 24 matches) there are four other men. Two have chosen to keep their haplogroup private, though they don't match mine (names Kendall and Todd). One of the four, named Jacks, also is in the R-M 269 haplogroup. There is however one man whose name is Cox, who can take his name back to 1790, who has the same haplogroup as mine, R1b1a2a1a1b4 (R-L21). If we now move to people who are two steps away from me (23 matches) there are 20 more names of which 17 are in the M269 haplogroup and 3 are in another, R-U152.

To sum up, of all the many thousands of people whose DNA is recorded there are just four men who at the present time have significant matches to me, one McIlhagga, one Brown, one Smith and one Cox.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

South Irish DNA

Last Autumn I agreed that my DNA sample which is held in America by 'Family Tree DNA' (FTDNA) should undergo a new test which is known as a Deep Clade test. Before this test the haplogroup (= a population descended from a common ancestor), to which I had been assigned as a result of the initial analysis, I reported on in this blog on 18 April 2011. A couple of weeks ago I received the result of the Deep Clade test (clade = sub-section of a haplogroup), which does not change my DNA result but does narrow down the section of the haplogroup to which I belong. All this is shown diagrammatically on something called a haplotree. Most sections of a haplotree indicate the place of origin of your ancestors and have appropriate Projects associated with them. I simply had an email telling me that I had been removed from the Project concerned with my haplotree reference, R1b1* and that now I had been assigned to section R1b1a2a1a1b4 (R-L21 for short).

It is possible on the FTDNA website to discover whether a particular haplotree section has a Project associated with it. I found that my new group did indeed have such a project and that it is called the 'South Irish Project'. This is the first time it has been suggested that from DNA evidence our name has distant origins in the South of Ireland, though perhaps we shouldn't be surprised in the light of the paper trail which has taken us to Lismore in County Waterford - see my blogs of 2009, Feb 3,8,13; 2010 Nov 13; and 2011, May 25, Oct 23, and Dec 3,4.

The R-L21 South Irish Project has many surnames associated with it, including O'Sullivan and McCarthy to which I have referred in our paper trail - see blogs on 2009, Feb 8; 2012, Nov 13, and 2011 Jan 9. I have been in touch with the Project administrator and as and when I hear anything of interest I will let you know.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Two marriages and a Cow

I'm continuing to refer to the Belfast Newsletter, first for the marriage of a Miss McIlhagga and a John Fullerton in 1840. After searching through twelve months of Newspapers I found this not very informative entry in December:

On the 17th Inst. by the Rev. D. Potter, Mr. John Fullerton to Miss McIlhaga/o both of Islandmagee.

Why, oh why did they not do what most others seemed to do and put in parents names? The new information however is the name of the minister. The Revd. David Potter was in the tradition of the Seceding Presbyterians though in the year of the marriage he and his Islandmagee church united with the Irish Presbyterians and locally became what is still known as Second Presbyterian Church, Islandmagee. This almost certainly gives us information about which Church all our clan there belonged to. This 'Miss McIlhago/a' was almost certainly Mary (born about 1820), daughter of Samuel McIlhagga and Ellon McWhinney. Samuel farmed at Port Muck.

Next, and from a family history perspective we have a most interesting NOTICE printed on 3rd October 1798 as follows:

Whereas my wife, Jennet McIllhaggo, otherwise Summers, otherwise Wilson, eloped from me some time ago, and carried away part of my Goods in my absence without any just cause. This is to caution the public not to credit her, as I am determined not to pay any thing she will contract. Dated at Island Magee this 3rd day of October, 1798. Patrick Wilson, X his mark.

Prior to finding this 'notice' we knew from the (damaged) Will of her father, another Samuel McIlhagga that his daughter 'Jen...' had married a Patrick Wilson. We now know that she 'eloped from him' probably with someone called Summers. My guess is that she was in her early twenties when this happened. As yet I have no information about what became of her. At least we know that the 'Jen...' was really Jennet. As she was likely the third daughter, perhaps this means that her mother, and so Samuel's wife, was also Jennet.

Finally we have the fascinating report in the paper of 6-9 November 1781 headed 'A Stray Beef Cow'. Until now I had assumed that William McIllhaga, the earliest clan member of whom we have any record in the parish of Connor, probably in the townland of Maxwell's Walls, had allowed one of his cows to escape from his farm, and was perhaps in some sort of trouble for this. However, as we can see from the brief report on 8 November, the opposite was the case. He must have found the cow and rescued it. The report reads:

In possession of William McIllhaga, near Connor. Whoever can prove their property may have her, by paying his expenses.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Belfast Newsletter

My references in this blog to The Belfast Newsletter have come from an Index with abbreviated items, published by an American University. I have for the past couple of days had access to a digitised version of the newspaper on the Ancestry website which amplifies some of the clan references and indeed corrects what I have been able to write before.

My first reference was on 27 Sep 2010, to a list of Island Magee tenants on 13 Feb 1770. There is nothing to be added to this. My second reference was on 1 Sep 2011, first to Port News on 4-8 August 1786. I now know this was a ship that had been 'cleared outwards', though from where I'm not sure, probably Belfast. The ship was called 'Mary' and her captain 'McIlhago'. What I now know is that she was destined for Malaga, with butter, cloth, &c. on board.

Second, on 6 Dec 1797, we have a reference to a shipwreck. The full paragraph reads as follows:

The Industry, of Irvine, Robert McElhago, master, is the vessel that was wrecked on Friday last, between Drogheda Bar and Clogher Head, and not the sloop Jenny, as mentioned through mistake in our list. Sunday last, the remains of the crew, five in number, belonging to the above sloop, which were taken up drowned near Clogher Head, were conveyed to town, attended by many respectable persons, and decently interred in St.Peter's Church yard.
Wallop Brabazon, Esq. of Rath, deserves every praise for his humane exertions to save the unfortunate sufferers of the above vessel. The elements were too strong for human powers.

The mistaken reference to the sloop Jenny may imply that a ship of that name was associated with the name McElhago. She could have been an earlier vessel sailed by Robert McElhago or possibly a vessel sailed by his father. Unfortunately the papers for 1787 are missing, which contain a reference to another 'clan' ship. I have written to Ancestry to ask why.

I have two references to marriages, which I will detail next time, but the reference here to Irvine in Ayrshire reminds me that I have also recently discovered that one can access the full text of the Laing Charters on the website of the Scottish Genealogical Society in Edinburgh. I have therefore added to my blog of 7 January last an accurate version of the entry for 17 August 1527 which mentions Michael Macylhaggow, the earliest member of our clan documented in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Children's Fiction

Some time ago (2 Nov 2011) I wrote about Andrew McIlhagga who appeared in a historical book about IslandMagee. In 1798 Andrew had joined up with the 'United Irishmen' to fight at the 'Battle of Antrim'. I'm afraid I do not know what happened to Andrew on that fateful occasion, unlike the ancestor of one of my USA correspondents, Don Milligan who knows that his ancestor, Samuel Millikin, was killed in 1798. In the remote chance of finding Andrew, but with the positive aim of understanding more about the United Irishmen I recently bought and read a book by Tom McCaughren called 'In Search of the Liberty tree'. This turned out to be a story told from the point of view of two young boys living in Ballymena who were friends though apparently from families on different sides of the conflict, for and against British Rule in Ireland.

It was an enjoyable read and though clearly written for children I looked forward to reading another of Tom McCaughren's books, 'The Legend of the Golden Key', not least because the tale is set in County Antrim and concerns treasure which was said to have been buried just before the 1798 Rebellion. Again, it is a children's adventure for two boys, Tapser and Cowlick and their friends. Apparently the treasure had been buried on a 'landed estate' with its inevitable castle. They decided to take a look. Imagine my surprise when on page 43 I read "We climbed up round the quarry dump and cut across Big Hughie McIlhagga's land...".

We learn a little more about Hughie on page 52. A man called Craig was caught ill treating a horse on the estate. "He lost his job with Big Hughie McIlhagga on the farm beyond for the very same thing" - shades of a story I told on 18 Sep 2009! And on page 56, "Leaving the river, we began climbing up towards the trees at the back of Big Hughie McIlhagga's place". On pages 73, 76, 86 and 90 we learn that Big Hughie has a bull in a field next to the estate and that his cowsheds play a significant part later on. On page 99 a thug is mistaken for Big Hughie. There are other references to Big Hughie's farm on pages 103, 112, 174 and 175. Although there are a dozen or so references in the book to Big Hughie, with we have to say, no dialogue, it is almost at the end of the book he appears to be a little more than a very minor character, for it is his farm which turns out to be key to the story. On page 178f we read "...he showed me a spade guinea which he had found.. in Mr. McIlhagga's field while ploughing". and on page 180, "I don't know how the guinea.. came to be over there in Mr. McIlhagga's field."

It's intriguing to think where a contemporary author finds the names of his characters. There are only two 'Hugh McIlhaggas' known to me. In fact they were father and son and both were William Hugh McIlhagga. W.H. junior was born in 1911 in Belfast and his father in 1870, also in Belfast. He married a Margaret Boyd. W.H. senior's father was George McIlhagga, a Merchant in Connor Parish, County Antrim, who married Elizabeth Ann Robinson. George's father was William, like his son also born in the Townland of Maxwell's Walls. He was a farmer born I think about 1810. It is possible that we can take this family line back two more generations to another William, to the first half of the 18th Century. Was it this family that was known to the author of 'The Legend of the Golden Key'?

Saturday, 10 March 2012


1. My last blog asked who the 'J. McIlhagga' was who is named on the St. Matthew's Church WW1 Memorial in Shankill, Belfast. I'm delighted to say that I had a reply 'by return' from one of my Australian correspondents to say she thought my suggestion of Sgt. John McElhagga was probably right. For his own good reason John varied his surname from McIlhagga to McElhagga and then to McFarlane. As John McElhagga he won the Military Medal in the First World War after which he was remembered by his birth name of John McIlhagga. He was a son of Robert McIlhagga and Margaret Craig of Ballee, County Antrim, one of their ten children. This is a family that can probably be traced back to about 1770.

2. Someone has left a comment with no content on my blog of 26th October 2011 on 'Land Tenure'. As this 'comment' could be spam I have deleted it. If the author wishes to make a positive comment which contributes to our clan knowledge he or she will be most welcome to return and do so.

3. I have been having an interesting email correspondence with a lady in the USA who is I believe a descendant of the McIlhaggo - Forbes marriage in Island Magee, County Antrim, in the 1830s. In a Family Tree in which it is extremely difficult to find 'facts' two probable relationships have come from things remembered as family stories. One concerns 'Old Samuel' being the lady's great grandfather and one is related to a Napier family. In addition I have learned who it was who emigrated to the USA. The moral is never discount even vague memories of conversations you had years ago with your elderly relatives!

Monday, 5 March 2012

St. Matthew's, Shankill

St. Matthew's Parish Church, Shankill has three brass tablets mounted on the pulpit. The centre tablet reads, 'This pulpit is erected to the Glory of God and in honour of 800 men of this parish who nobly responded to the call of duty and fought for king and country in the Great War 1914 - 1919. Also in loving memory of those of their number who sacrificed their lives in the sacred cause of freedom and humanity. Their names are inscribed on the adjoining tablets. "They were a wall unto us by night, and day" 1 Sam 25. 16.'

Tablet 1 has 55 names. Tablet two shown above has 58 names including that of J. McIlhagga. The only 'J' from Belfast known to me was James McIlhagga who died at sea in the Second World War, and unless he was John McElhagga of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in 1916, I am at a loss to know to whom this refers. If any reader can enlighten us, we would be most grateful.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

'Strays' in US Censuses?

Any of the following eleven people may possibly be 'strays' from clan families. If anyone has any clues to where any fit in, do please get in touch:

1840 Census:
James McElhagon, Ohio, Wood County, Troy Township;

1850 Census:
Bridget McHaggart, 23 (born 1827) Maine, Penobost County;
Maria McEllagan, 17 (b 1833) Ohio, Summit Co, Akron Twp;

1880 Census:
Edward McHago, 21 (b 1859) Iowa, Cass Co, Washington Twp;
Maggie McElagin, 16 (b 1866) New York, Franklin Co, Malone Twp;

1910 Census:
Hanna McElhaegg, 40 (b 1870) Pensylvania, Lawrence Co, New Castle, Ward 2;
Wm. E. McElage, 44 (b 1866) Ohio, Buller Co, Middletown, Ward 1;

1930 Census:
Roy McHaggart, 48 (b 1882) Oregon, Klanath Indian Reservation;
Baba McHa?go, 64 (b 1865) Indiana, Parke Co, Recoon Twp;
Mary McAllagay, 68 (b 1862) Illinois, Cook Co, Chicago City;
Mary McAllagay, 17 (b 1913) Illinois, Cook Co, Chicago City.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Jamestown and Greenville

Following on from my last blog - previously I had the ages of the Pennsylvania families (see blogs 09: 22 Jun, 13 Aug; 10: 23 May, 8 Jun, 17 Nov, 22 Nov; 11: 13 Feb, 16 Feb, 1 Jul, 7 Jul and 18 Oct.) from the records at the Jamestown Cemetery. The evidence of the Census is that people in the 19th Century were ofter quite uncertain of their age. These are the families that emigrated from Newtowncromelin, Limavallagan and Lisnacrogher in County Antrim, the older generation of which was born back in the 18th Century. Somehow in the move the spelling of their surname was changed from McIlhago and McIlhaggar to McElhager. The eight from Jamestown in the 1880 USA Census are:

Jane McElhager 87 (born 1793) [1790 in Cemetery];
Eliza McElhager 50 (born 1830);
James McElhager 42 (born 1833) [1836 in Baptism Register];
Eliza McElhager 36 (born 1844) [1842 in Cemetery];
Augustine McElhager 20 (born 1860) [Augusta in Cemetery];
Mary McElhager 19 (born 1861) [1856 in Cemetery];
Sarah J. McElhager 18 (born 1862);
William D. McElhager 16 (born 1864) [Wm. B. in Cemetery].

Apart from dates, we have two significant changes. It look as if Augustine was male, not female Augusta and William's middle name possibly began with D not B, maybe as his uncle was David. Eliza clearly doesn't fit into this nuclear family. She was in fact a single cousin, daughter of David senior and sister of David in Greenville below. She was a Linen Weaver who had stayed in Jamestown.

The younger family in Greenville were cousins of the Jamestown lot and were:

David McElhager 39 (born 1841) [1834 in 1851 Irish Census];
Mariah McElhager 38 (born 1842) [1838 Maria in Cemetery];
Minnie McElhager 14 (born 1866) [1864 in Cemetery];
Annie McElhager 12 (born 1868) [1866 in Cemetery];
Dollie McElhager 10 (born 1870) [1868 in Cemetery].

Thursday, 1 March 2012

USA Censuses

Many of us have family who emigrated to the USA and a very valuable new Internet site will help us trace their lives. It is It is in its 'beta' stage so is still developing and as yet has only some census years, but others are on their way. You can search by name and use wild cards (*) which is very useful.

I first put in 'McIlhagga' and got the nuclear family (part of my own) in Buffalo, Erie, New York in 1930, James and Jean both 32 (born 1898) and their son James aged 4. No new information there. I wondered where Ina (Alexandrina) McIlhagga was, but she appeared, also in Buffalo age 27, but at a different address, when I put in 'MacIlhagga'. It's always worth being creative with our surname!

That encouraged me to experiment with wild cards and first tried 'McElhag*'. I was hoping for at least one McElhago, but none! Sad, because I know there was an early one, and there is still one today. However there was one result from the 1840 Census, John McElhagin, of whom I have never heard. He was in New York, Ward 14. And there were the 13 people I hoped to find in Pensylvania. I thought they were all in Jamestown, but five were in Greenville, a town a few miles away, and like Jamestown also in Mercer County. I will list them next time and mention the new things I learned.