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I am in fact Irish, not English!

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  • I am in fact Irish, not English!

    We did the whole family tree thing, and traced some of the lines as far back as the 1400s, but hit a dead end when it came to my paternal ancestry line, since they emigrated from Ireland, and Ireland seems to be a genetic "black hole." The name (like mine) was Wheeler, and we suspected that my line came from English settlers. But a distant relative once said that an old family story was that the name was changed from Whelehan to Wheeler, so I wondered.

    Anyhow, after doing the Y-DNA test to 25 markers, I found three 100% matches, 2 Whelehans and 1 Wheelehan. And contacting one of the listings, I was put in touch with a lady (not on FTDNA) who had been to Ireland and had my whole paternal line mapped out to my GGGGF! Turns out that they started changing the name from Whelehan (Joyful) at the turn of the 18th Century (family feud?), and that the name originated with one family in Co Westmeath in Ireland... question answered!

    I've looked at all the explanations and comments under Family Finder though, and just don't understand it; so I'm unsure of whether to pay for that test. My paternal grandmother's name was Zeller, which the books say is a "German-Jewish name," and I wonder about that. Also, my maternal grandfather was illegitimate, and though we suspect the line (Drake), we aren't sure. Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Anyhow, after doing the Y-DNA test to 25 markers, I found three 100% matches, 2 Whelehans and 1 Wheelehan.
    Very nice success story on 25 markers.
    My paternal grandmother's name was Zeller, which the books say is a "German-Jewish name," and I wonder about that. Also, my maternal grandfather was illegitimate, and though we suspect the line (Drake), we aren't sure. Any suggestions?
    FamilyFinder autosomal DNA test will help to match along the lines you mention below, what I refer to as "the middle of your tree". In other words; Y-DNA is solely the paternal side; mtDNA is solely the maternal side; and FamilyFinder is all the cousins in the middle (and includes the solely paternal & solely maternal lines). Could help to identify those surnames in your match list.

    However...be aware that Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (which is probably what Zeller is, as opposed to Sephardic Jewish) tends to give you results that appear to be closer relatives than they really are. This is because those populations tended to be a more isolated gene pool in the "old country", intermarrying of 2nd cousins and such. Similar situation with Colonial American lines. I have maternal Irish Catholic lines with a possible Jewish ancestor 6 generations ago; and Jewish paternity, resulting in over 50 "close matches" with no common surname, and 320 "speculative matches". My Y-DNA match at 36/37 markers (different surname) is a predicted 5th cousin on FF.

    Check out the "How it Works" sticky on FF forum at the top of the message list...hopefully it is not overwhelming, but this is one of the tools that FF provides. And hopefully you're familiar with spreadsheets

    There is a 3rd party clearninghouse website, Gedmatch.com, where people who have tested with another service (23 and me dot com) can upload their data & you can match them there.

    You might check Jewishgen.org also and there are listservs for Jewish DNA discussions.

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