The O'Donoghue Society

For all those interested in history and genealogy and whose names are derived from the Gaelic

February snippet: How the Famine affected my family - Case 2

Submitted by Bob Donahue

I don't know if this is of interest to this month's blog question, but the topic is intriguing to me because my own genealogical research has presented me with a puzzle.
 
Overall, I'm 1/2 Irish/English (dad's side) and 1/4 Irish + 1/4 Québecois (mom's side).  I became hooked on genealogy when I started researching my ancestry, expecting to find little, but assuming that I'd learn quite a bit about my Irish roots (since any talk of ancestry growing up was about my dad's family).   Instead, I discovered an enormous amount of information about Québec ancestry (greatly preserved church records, easily obtainable online). Over the last 6 years, my family tree has grown to over 70,000 people, but 95% on the Québec side.  (I'm still hoping to make a breakthrough on Dad's side, but revelations are sporadic.)
 
So - how does this have anything to do with the Irish potato famine? I've been able to confirm ancestors on Dad's side for 5-6 generations, and  I've got all of my mom's ancestors recorded back 10 generations or so.  

Except one.

My great-great grandmother, Célina Boulé (or Laliberté), was born around 1840, supposedly in Québec.   We have her marriage record, which only lists her as "Célina" (no last name, no mention of parents), which typically means she was illegitimate or an orphan.  She seems to have been close to the Boulé family (enough to adopt the surname) but there's no record of a baptism (which isn't that uncommon) and her presumably adoptive parents don't appear to have had any other children.  So for the longest time I've been working under the hypothesis that she was a Québec orphan and was adopted.

Until the DNA testing results.

While I'm mostly Irish/English, the ratio of French-based DNA is too low.  But I have birth or origin information for ALL of my great-great grandparents on both sides of the family, and it ought to be 75/25 but according to the results it's more like 85/15.  So there's a discrepancy.

Although I learned about Irish immigration to the US, it hadn't occurred to me to consider that the Irish might've gone elsewhere (duh) - until I read an article about Irish emigration to Québec.   In the 1840s-1850's over 100,000 people fled Ireland coming to Québec, many fleeing the famine.   

This made me reconsider:  what if Célina isn't French at all?  Is it possible that she was a *Irish* orphan who came to Québec fleeing the famine, and was then adopted by a childless Québecois couple?   Is that's the case, then my DNA results start to make sense:  more like 82/18 which still isn't quite right but it's a LOT closer.

I'm trying now to find DNA relatives who are 4th cousins but whose family trees show no overlap with mine in the hopes that this might identify who Célina really was.   Hopefully, I will be able to uncover some of her history, possibly confirming my new suspicions. 

And I'm continuing to work on the Irish side too.  Promise!  :-)
 
Submitted by Bob Donahue

I don't know if this is of interest to this month's blog question, but the topic is intriguing to me because my own genealogical research has presented me with a puzzle.
 
Overall, I'm 1/2 Irish/English (dad's side) and 1/4 Irish + 1/4 Québecois (mom's side).  I became hooked on genealogy when I started researching my ancestry, expecting to find little, but assuming that I'd learn quite a bit about my Irish roots (since any talk of ancestry growing up was about my dad's family).   Instead, I discovered an enormous amount of information about Québec ancestry (greatly preserved church records, easily obtainable online). Over the last 6 years, my family tree has grown to over 70,000 people, but 95% on the Québec side.  (I'm still hoping to make a breakthrough on Dad's side, but revelations are sporadic.)
 
So - how does this have anything to do with the Irish potato famine? I've been able to confirm ancestors on Dad's side for 5-6 generations, and  I've got all of my mom's ancestors recorded back 10 generations or so.  

Except one.

My great-great grandmother, Célina Boulé (or Laliberté), was born around 1840, supposedly in Québec.   We have her marriage record, which only lists her as "Célina" (no last name, no mention of parents), which typically means she was illegitimate or an orphan.  She seems to have been close to the Boulé family (enough to adopt the surname) but there's no record of a baptism (which isn't that uncommon) and her presumably adoptive parents don't appear to have had any other children.  So for the longest time I've been working under the hypothesis that she was a Québec orphan and was adopted.

Until the DNA testing results.

While I'm mostly Irish/English, the ratio of French-based DNA is too low.  But I have birth or origin information for ALL of my great-great grandparents on both sides of the family, and it ought to be 75/25 but according to the results it's more like 85/15.  So there's a discrepancy.

Although I learned about Irish immigration to the US, it hadn't occurred to me to consider that the Irish might've gone elsewhere (duh) - until I read an article about Irish emigration to Québec.   In the 1840s-1850's over 100,000 people fled Ireland coming to Québec, many fleeing the famine.   

This made me reconsider:  what if Célina isn't French at all?  Is it possible that she was a *Irish* orphan who came to Québec fleeing the famine, and was then adopted by a childless Québecois couple?   Is that's the case, then my DNA results start to make sense:  more like 82/18 which still isn't quite right but it's a LOT closer.

I'm trying now to find DNA relatives who are 4th cousins but whose family trees show no overlap with mine in the hopes that this might identify who Célina really was.   Hopefully, I will be able to uncover some of her history, possibly confirming my new suspicions. 

And I'm continuing to work on the Irish side too.  Promise!  :-)
 
05.03.2019