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Irish DNA

Updated on September 8, 2014

I'm Irish (well at least 35%)

Family history is fluid and changes with each piece of evidence found. My family tree is no different. We knew we had some Irish but suspected English as well. Turns out, Ancestry DNA changed that and moved my family search into another direction.

We are not a family who celebrates St.Patrick's Day other to enjoy a select cut of brisket and a ton of cabbage and potatoes. Today, I have a slightly different view of the whole Irish thing. Not only that, I am 45% Europe West and 9% Scandinavian. I really thought I was on the wrong track when I started finding ancestors in my tree who were from Scotland and Switzerland. Now I know better and although I am not yet comfortable with tracking family in other countries (still hard enough to track them in the United States), I am now taking baby steps in research outside my comfort zone.

I have been researching the Rhea's on my dad's side of the family. I have spent two years finding out what I could and still can't track my 2nd great grandfather back to Scotland although I know he came from there. So, I switched families and am doing my mom's side, the Yeakley's. The photo is James Madison Yeakley, my great grandfather and one of the many family members who traces back to the Scots-Irish roots.

The Essential Chieftains
The Essential Chieftains

I love their music and had the privilege to attend one of their concerts at UCLA. Maybe being Irish is one of the reasons I am so attracted to the music.


Isaiah McNees

First ancestor that I can track back to Ireland

Although I have many ancestors on both sides of my family who came from Ireland, Scotland, and Switzerland, Isaiah McNees has been verified.

Isaiah McNees was born in Cootehill County Cavan Ireland in 1752. He came to America in 1736 with his parents at the age of 16. They settled in Pennsylvania and he lived there until about 1779 and then moved to Greene County, Tennessee.

(Aside: This is where it gets interesting. They lived in Rheatown, originally founded by John Rhea. You might think that Rheatown would be in Rhea County, Tennessee since it apparently was also founded by John Rhea. Nope, Rheatown is in Greene County. Not only that, my dad's side of the family is Rhea but I can't track them back to the Rhea's in Rheatown or Rhea County although they populated much of Hancock and Hawkins Counties in Tennessee.)

Isaiah married Elizabeth or Esther (pick a name, it varies from document to document) and had four children. I now think Elizabeth and Esther are two separate people and much more research is necessary. Right now, since the research on this family is new, I am really only interested in his daughter Susannah. She is the next in line and my 3rd great grandmother.

Isaiah died in Rheatown, Greene County, Tennessee on February 10, 1818 at the age of 66 and is buried at the Quaker Knob Cemetery.

Susannah married Henry Yeakely. She was a Quaker, he was a Lutheran but all the children were Quakers. That's another avenue to explore as Susannah and Henry are mentioned in the Quaker meeting notes. My knowledge of the Quakers is limited. Shame on me, the only thing I know about Quakers is from my favorite movie, "Friendly Persuasion", made in 1956.

My favorite movie - Friendly Persuasion

Friendly Persuasion DVD - Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire
Friendly Persuasion DVD - Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire

It was from this movie that I decided I wanted a goose. I still don't have one. The movie was based on the book by Jessamine West.


DNA is a relatively new research tool

Have you done a DNA test?

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Being Irish or Scottish or Swiss

Ancestry DNA testing has given me a new way to research family that might have been overlooked. There are other DNA services out there like 23 and Me and I did that one too which had the same results. In the case of my missing Scottish ancestor, John McColloam (McCollum, McCollom), I have verified Scottish ancestry so I know I can search there with some confidence.

DNA has also netted me new cousins who share the same genes. However, it does also muddy the waters because it isn't an exact science when it comes to genealogy. For example, Matthew Rhea came to America with his cousin John. Matthew and John are related but all the searches lead back to Matthew. There have been books written about Matthew but he doesn't fit into our timeline. It is more likely that I am related to John who is not as well documented. So while I am related to all those Rhea's, we are apparently on the other side of the track, so to speak.

Comments welcomed

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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      This is an enjoyable hub. It is so interesting to find who you might be related to and where they came from.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Absolutely fascinating! I see on Amazon that I can actually order some of the DNA kits for genealogy there.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've yet to do a DNA test but am able to trace my Scot-Irish roots across the pond. Great lens!

    • profile image

      Ibidii 4 years ago

      I am waiting for my DNA test results that went to my cousins house. I did the test a few months ago. I am excited. I know that on my Mom's line I just found we have several from Ireland, but 10 or more gens away.

      Great lens!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 4 years ago from So Cal

      @RinchenChodron: Ancestry and 23 and Me run about $99.00. I have done both. I find it worth the time and money to know that I am looking in the right places.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Well I got back to 1703 on my mother's side of the family (which by the way is the harder side to research since in the past most women took their husbands last name. I have Manx, Irish and Scottish as well as German from my dad's side. I found it fascinating back in the 80s when I did it, but back then they did not have DNA testing. Maybe I'll try it. Is it expensive?

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I have the benefit of a grandparent with an interest in genealogy who uncovered all manner of interesting tidbits about our clan. I enjoy the process. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      Love hearing about people's searches for ancestors. My husband has an Irish background and we got to go there one time and visit his distant cousins. The DNA test is very valuable I think. Congratulations on your purple star!