Genetic Genealogy — East Galway, Ireland

I received an interesting email the other day. Where I’m normally contacting people who are my DNA matches in my never ending quest, I was contacted by someone who is a DNA match of mine. I’ve submitted DNA to two companies, 23andme and Ancestry. One day a couple of months ago I was experimenting and uploaded the raw data from 23and me to a website called “Gedmatch”. I didn’t know much about it except it is another company that specializes in finding close and distant relatives using DNA.

When I looked at the information that came up, I was completely confused. It brings up a list of people who match your DNA, their chromosome segments, numbers that didn’t make sense, and a whole lot of other information I absolutely did not understand. I thought I would let it sit and then another day get back into trying to understand what is a new kind of research for me.

So, like, I said, someone emailed me to say that he and I matched on Gedmatch and we have an ancestor from East Galway, Ireland and would I like to join the East Galway group? This is like if I asked someone to join a Facebook group I made for cousins, it just puts you in a group – it doesn’t have all of your secret important information. The reason I wanted to do this was because I would like to know who the heck that ancestor is that is from Ireland. Is it the elusive Martha Carr who nobody knows anything about other than that she died very young and supposedly wasn’t accepted into her husband’s German community at first because she was Irish? My curiosity got the better of me to try to solve this problem.


DNA results from both 23andme and Ancestry definitely show I have Irish ancestry, most likely from someone from the years 1810 through 1870. In addition, my daughter’s DNA results on 23andme get more specific and show “potential” locations in Ireland where her Irish DNA is, and sure enough, East Galway is on that list. I started reading about Gedmatch to try to understand everything about DNA and chromosomes and how to find a common ancestor through that type of research.

The interesting thing about Gedmatch is it can show you and your matches in a graphical representation of every single chromosome, like this:

This tool actually proves a relation to someone, where with 23andme and Ancestry, you assume you are related to someone on their match lists. When I look at my DNA match’s information, it shows this:

What does all this gibberish mean?  The numbers 11 and 19 are the chromosome numbers, we match on chromosomes 11 and 19. The long numbers next to them are the centimorgan numbers (cM), where on the chromosome the matching DNA is — a measure of genetic linkage. The 10.4 and 8.6 are how large the segment is, larger segments totaling over 7 cm mean that more likely my DNA match and I share a common ancestor. Anything lower than 7cm is usually questionable. The 4.8 is the MRCA — which is an abbreviation for “most recent common ancestor”. It’s the estimated number of jumps to our most common ancestor — it would be the ancestor from which my match and I received common DNA segments. I’m supposed to round up, so we’re looking at 5 jumps – which would be a great-great-great grandparent. Unfortunately, there is no way to figure out if it is on a maternal or paternal line.   

Here is a photo of chromosome 11. More than one segment matches mean that a DNA match is closer related, whereas only one segment match means that person is more distant, so since we have two segments, one on two chromosomes, we will be closer than further.

And this little blue section is exactly on chromosome 11 where we share our DNA:

I found another cousin match to someone in the Galway project, and he is also a match of mine on my Ancestry list. I haven’t figured out our connection, except Gedmatch shows that there are 7 jumps to our common ancestor, so we would be probably something like sixth cousins. Since then, two more cousin matches have popped up but the problem is I don’t know the common ancestor to them either. A lot of work to do!

Now because I have done so much extensive work and know where the bulk of my direct ancestors come from, I can deduce probably where to look. All of my father’s ancestors came from the Netherlands; most of my mother’s ancestors came from the Netherlands and Germany, but there are three lines that are puzzles on her side. The common ancestor should be located in one of those lines: (1) Charles Conner, (2) Anna (Schadel) Conner, or (3) Martha (Carr) Shoudel. For Charles, I already know both of his parents’ family going back quite far lived in Pennsylvania, although I believe his ancestors further back probably come from Ireland as Conner is a very Irish name, there could be a Galway connection there. For Anna, she reported herself as coming from Germany in her 1900 census record but there are still issues with her. For example, even though I have two confirming maiden names in records for her, her maiden name in her 1893 marriage record from Chicago is listed as Cowrost. I can’t completely rule her out yet.

Then there is Martha. Now given the fact she was born around 1850, and family rumors say there were issues with her acceptance into her husband’s German community because she was Irish, perhaps she came from Ireland with her family? She reported on a census that she was born in Ohio — but I have seen another ancestor report that she was born in Wisconsin when actually she brought over from Germany when she was two months old. Martha certainly is in the time frame of 1810-1870, even her parents would be. I cannot confirm she actually was from Ohio. Yes, there is a record connecting on Ancestry to her, but I cannot confirm that it is an accurate record yet – so I have some doubts about Ohio, and Carr is a very Irish name as well. There was a huge upswing of Irish immigrants that came to America from the 1840s-1850s, and alot of tension was created because of stereotypical judgment, especially with German people who already lived in America. It remains to be seen but I am curious and hopeful!  So times a wasting, must get back to my genetic genealogy research!

Thanks for reading!

Brick wall demolished! Conner line

One of the family lines I haven’t posted about is my Conner family line, the reason being until now I was unable to break through the “brick” wall that stopped me from getting further. However, I have been using some new research techniques. For this situation, I used my Ancestry membership to reach out to someone, and it is a fantastic way to verify information. The Ancestry website has family trees from its own members available and, while I choose at the present time not to have mine available there, I emailed with a very nice lady who had a public tree for my Conner side.

The story about this family from years back was that my great-grandmother on my mother’s side, Bertha Louise Conner, and all of her siblings were left with random families after her mother died and her father was unable to keep the family together. Bertha (born November 28, 1893), the oldest of four children, was only 10 years old when her mother, Anna (Schadel) Conner, died in childbirth. Her brothers were Harry, age 8; Arthur, age 7; and Edward, age 4. Here is a photo of her in her school class in 1903, the same year her mother died, she is in the second row, second from the right —

Photo source: Larris from WeRelate

My friend on Ancestry had quite a bit more information than I did as her uncle was Harry Conner, Bertha’s brother. She was able to confirm the story and answer my questions, mainly, who Charles and Anna’s parents were. There was no death certificate for Charles that I had found through a vital records search in the county he died in the year he died, and Anna died before parents’ names were put on death certificates. I had some census information, but to go from point A to point B was just impossible. Her tree information is incredible but in genealogy research, you always need to verify the information but this has opened up a world that leads from Pennsylvania to Virginia, to France and to Ireland, with some Revolutionary War soldiers thrown in!

I don’t know much of Bertha’s life after her mother died, but according to census records, in 1910 she was 16 and working in a boarding house as a servant for a Mrs. Huber. Just a year or two later, she married William Bass, and eventually they had six children: Lucille Grace, Evelyn, Ruth, William, Robert and Richard.

Here’s another photo of Bertha, this one is from 1957 and she and her husband, my great-grandfather, William, are seated. Their son Bill (William Peter Bass-my grandfather) is standing behind them, and his wife, Madeline (Schoudel) Bass (my grandmother) is all the way on the left. In between is his sister Evelyn on his right, and his other sister on his left is Ruth with her husband Bob.

Thanks for the photo Mom!

Bertha died from an acute coronary occlusion on March 2, 1964 at the age of 70.