Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finding the McCains

The remarkable story of the McCain family from Ulster, their ranks include James McKeen, co-leader of the 1718 fleet and first magistrate of the Londonderry, NH, settlement, Wallace and Harrison McCain of McCain Foods, Ltd., Admiral John Sydney (Slew) McCain, and Senator John McCain.

Finding the McCains

Finding the McCains, is an account of a man’s 40 year odyssey to find the McCain family in Ireland.  Senator John McCain and his cousin, novelist Elizabeth Spencer, both include a short history of the McCain family in their respective memoirs Faith of our Fathers and Landscapes of the Heart.  Their history is a romantic tale of Highland Scots who supported Mary Queen of Scots and who fled to Ireland after her downfall in 1568.  The search for the McCains became a mystery story with clues, false turns, many adventures, and then ultimate success through Y chromosome DNA testing.  In 2008 the McCains were reunited with their family that remained in Ireland, after 289 years of separation.

The McCain history includes people and events familiar to readers of Irish and Scottish history; Redshanks, Iníon Dubh, Mary Queen of Scots, the Earls of Argyll, the Ulster Migration, and the Scots-Irish, are all part of this family’s history.  Faint memories of this past were told for generations in Mississippi and as the research progressed the facts behind these memories were uncovered. 

The Y chromosome DNA results revealed that the McCains of Mississippi, which include Senator John McCain’s family, are the same family of Wallace and Harrison McCain, the founders of Canada’s McCain Foods, one of the most successful corporations in the world.  They are also the same family as James McKeen who organized the 1718 fleet that began the great Ulster Migration to the English Colonies.  All these families are paternally related and they all descend from one Gaelic man named Mac Eáin that lived in Kilmichael Glassary parish, in mid Argyll, in the Scottish Highlands, in the 1400s.

The book tells of the author’s many trips to Ireland in search of his distant cousins there.  There are anecdotal stories, some humorous and others involving “famous” people; such as, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, Mary Coughlan (Irish Tainste or vice president), Cindy McCain (wife of Senator McCain), Seán Mac Stiofáin (1970s head of the IRA) , Alan Heusaff (WW II German officer in Dublin who later became president of the Celtic League), and Muhammad Ali.  There is even an encounter with a Bean Sí (faerie woman) on the windy cold hill of megalithic stone ruins at Loch an Craoibh.  All presented from the perspective of a native Mississippian.

Another theme in the book is the Scots-Irish.  Contemporary histories about the Scots-Irish present stereotyped and romanticized accounts of this dynamic group.  Finding the McCains reveals a more complex history and shows the cultural conflation common in Scots-Irish popular history.

Finding the McCains is an excellent read for all interested in Irish and Scottish history and is an how-to guide for those interested in how-to guide for those who would like to use genetic genealogy to locate their family in the old country and recover lost family history.

To purchase from Amazon: Finding the McCains

To purchase from Ulster Heritage directly send US $20 (postage paid) to:
Ulster Heritage
PO Box 884
Oxford MS 38655

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Haplogroup R-S1051 Project

(Many Scots-Irish are in R-S1051 haplogroup.  A lot of research going on with this haplogroup; they appear to be indigenous to central Scotland.  Those men that have the R-S1051 haplogroup are encouraged to participate in the research.  One can join by using your 'manage projects' link on your Family Tree DNA page.)

Recently many new SNP's have been discovered for this unique haplogroup which is located below DF13.

The majority of this family group have 5 main Patriarch SNP's (S1051, FGC9655, FGC9661, FGC9658 and FGC9657). The current age estimate for these Patriarch SNP's is approximately 3,200 to 4,500 years old and likely originated within what is known as the Bell Beaker culture. When examining other haplogroups of a similar age the S1051 people are very few by comparison
Evidence suggests that the geographic origin of this family group could have been from what is now modern Scotland.
 S1051 Project SNP results spreadsheet page 1 of 2. 
S1051 Project SNP results spreadsheet page 2 of 2 - FGC17906+

On the above spreadsheet links I've placed "SNP dates" which are an approximation as these mutation rates can vary. So far on average there is 1 Sanger SNP verified per 139 years so it's important to stress that these dates could change slightly as more research needs to be completed. There are instances like the single defining McCeney SNP which likely exceeds 200 years since it's mutation and other examples which were fewer than 139 years. Other factors to consider are the number of SNP's captured from the various sequencing types and the number of raw SNP's which are culled due to reliability issues. The age estimate 139 years per SNP was calculated by using known genealogy, full Y testing, Sanger verification, STR calculations and averaging the number of raw SNP's located below DF13. It's also important to understand that chronology of many of the SNP's (including the 5 main oldest ones) are still unknown.
The following link is to a 64 page paper written by Ronald Henderson that I recently discovered online. Although some concepts found within may stir debate within the historical or scientific community I believe it was well written and worth adding to project page.

Link: R-S1051 Project

Monday, February 16, 2015

Native Tribes of Britain

The majority of the Scots-Irish are descendants of the native Celtic tribes of north Britain.  Here is a link to an article on the BBC History website showing the location and names of these early Celtic tribes.

Link:  Native Tribes of Britain

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Tweedy Family: Tweedys in Scotland and Ireland

The Tweedy Family: Tweedys in Scotland and Ireland: We need Tweedys (by any spelling) to participate in DNA testing.  Our goals are to locate the Tweedy family in Scotland and Ireland and reco...