September 8, 2012

DNA evidence for a family connection

Back in June, I had ordered and taken the new DNA test offered by My results were emailed to me at the end of July, and I linked my results to my online family tree.

Once you link your results to your tree, you are also able to see others who have taken the DNA test and whose results show a connection to you-- i.e., probable cousins. Shared surnames in your trees are also listed.

At the top of the list of likely cousins is someone who has the name RUSSELL in their tree; this person's great-grandmother was Alberta RUSSELL. Alberta was born in 1867 in New Brunswick, Canada. This piqued my interest, because my great-great grandmother Jane RUSSELL, one of my brick walls because I haven't been able to discover her parents, was born in St. John, New Brunswick, about 1853. Could they be related?

In the 1871 Canadian census, I had previously found two listings for Jane Russells who were the correct age (17) in St. John, New Brunswick: one was working for a family as a servant, and the other was living in the household of William and Jane RUSSELL. The second census entry indicates that William and Jane were born in England, aged 53 and 40 respectively.

I went back to look at these census records again-- particularly the second listing. In the household of William Russell, there were several other children listed besides Jane, and I noticed that the youngest was Alberta, aged 3. 

So here, for the first time, I have DNA evidence of a family connection-- that the Jane Russell who was living in the household of William Russell was my ancestor, hence the DNA connection to Alberta's great-grandson-- my third cousin once removed.

Whether the Jane Russell who was listed as a servant was a different person, or whether my great-great grandmother was working as a servant and was enumerated twice, I'll probably never know.

The marriage record of my great-great grandmother Jane to my great-great grandfather John HOWES on 4 August 1873 does not list their parents' names. I also found Jane's sister Alberta's marriage record to her husband William T. BABCOCK in 1888, but on this only their parents' first names are given-- so finding Jane's mother's maiden name is another challenge.

Ancestry line:

William RUSSELL (b. abt 1818, England) m. Jane UNKNOWN
Jane RUSSELL (b. abt 1853, New Brunswick, Canada) m. John HOWES 
Horace HOWES (1882-1976) m. Estelle SIMMONDS 
Henry HOWES (1913-1987) m. Dorothy PALMER 
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father

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