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The mystery deepens

Not too long ago, I ended up getting my DNA done through AncestryDNA. I already had it done through 23andMe, but you can’t cross-upload and I wanted to be able to access DNA connections. Glad I did, because it gave me some new insights but it also made my family mystery even more interesting.

On my paternal line, nothing really new/unexpected there. I did have a number of distant cousins show up with connections to some of my paternal line ancestors going back to the Revolutionary era, but that’s not really anything new (aside from the confirmation just for my own personal satisfaction that I am descended from those folks). I also had a couple of communications with some people who had distant DNA connections that might well pan out interesting.

What really caught me though was looking at some of the DNA connections on my maternal line, especially my mother’s paternal line (which if you’ll recall from my previous post contained something of a mystery regarding the origins of my great-grandfather). I’ll say here that I haven’t definitively found anything new… but I did find some highly interesting DNA connections.

I have been trying to figure out the circumstances of my ggrandfather’s adoption, and given the time frame (end of the 19th century) and the culture (Irish Catholic immigrants living in Kansas) there are so many possibilities. Was my ggrandfather the son of a relative? An orphan in the parish? Did he come from an orphanage? Was it handled through the state? Unfortunately, two big roadblocks exist. One, Kansas does not allow descendants of deceased adoptees access to adoption records so I can’t obtain any info that way, and two – GG died very young, around age 24ish, when my grandfather was still just a toddler. There is pretty much next to no info that I can find about him other than he existed, and where he’s buried (along with his obit).

I did locate cousins – my grandfather had a sister which I didn’t know anything at all about (no idea if older members of the family did, unfortunately most of them are all gone now and my generation (my brothers and I/our cousins) are now the oldest generation in the family still living. I have not reached out to them as of yet, but I did find genetic cousins with my grandfather’s sister in their family tree so there was that confirmation of the relationship. I also found some genetic cousins of his half-siblings from his mother’s second marriage though I’ve not reached out to them yet, either. I plan to reach out in the near future.

Something I found VERY interesting though, had to do with my ggrandfather’s possible biological parentage.

While searching for surname matches in the public trees of folks who shared a DNA match with me, I discovered a Peter Morrin. Peter Morrin was born in Kings Co, Ireland in 1812, and died in Iowa in 1870. I didn’t see a William Morrin anywhere in his family tree, but Ancestry can be highly incomplete if you’re researching other people’s public trees – people tend to list the relatives they’re directly researching, usually ancestors, and William did not have any children of his own.

However, there was an obituary for William printed in the local paper, the Effingham, Kansas New Leaf. His obituary reads as follows:

22 Apr 1904, Fri, Page 2
William Morrin, one of the oldest residents of this section, died at his home west of Effingham at ten o’clock Tuesday night, aged 70 years. He was born in Ireland and come to Kansas in 1859 and had resided at his home west of Effingham ever since. Mrs. Morrin leaves a wife but no children. He was a brother of Mrs. E. Lawless, of Atchison. He had a brother, John Morrin of Jeffersonville, Ind., who will be unable to attend the funeral. Interment will take place from St. Ann’s church, at Effingham, Friday morning immediately following the arrival of the Central Branch train. David, Charles, Jack, Ferdinand, Louis and Frank Lawless, Nephews of the deceased, will be honorary pall bearers.

So let’s back up a second and take a look again at Peter Morrin. Peter had a daughter named Mary Elizabeth Morrin, who married a fellow by the name of Michael D. Lawless. William’s obituary mentions a brother named John Morrin, and a sister named “Mrs. E. Lawless”. It also mentions his nephews David, Charles, Jack, Ferdinand, Louis, and Frank Lawless.

Peter’s daughter Mary Elizabeth had sons with those exact names and a brother named John Morrin. So it looks like it’s a possibility that our William was Mary Elizabeth’s brother. So, that gives me some family for William, but it still doesn’t really tie him by blood to James, my ggrandfather.

However, according to the DNA matches, I am distantly related (4th cousins) to Mary Elizabeth’s great-granddaughter. This suggests that if William Morrin is her great-grandmother’s brother, then I am related to William Morrin… who adopted my great-grandfather. This great-granddaughter is a 4th cousin or thereabouts which would mean the common ancestor would be around our 3rd great-grandfather. That would make the common ancestor Peter Morrin. That supports the notion that William Morrin is a son of Peter Morrin and the brother of Mary Elizabeth, which means that he’s probably my 2x great-uncle.


I did discover on Ancestry DNA that my grandfather’s sister’s descendance have done DNA through Ancestry and I can find the match, which results in showing that my ggrandfather is in fact my ggrandfather. All of this suggests that his adoptive father was his uncle by blood.

Stay tuned … I plan to research this out more.

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